Jesus According To The Scriptures Wrap Up
So, in my last three posts I've been talking about the question of whether Jesus died by crucifixion, or for some other reason: The Peculiar Case Of The Martyrdom Of Polycarp and interpreting the Death of Jesus (2/2) The Peculiar Case Of The Martyrdom Of Polycarp and interpreting the Death of Jesus: Erasing The Cross From History Paul And The Super-Apostles That Jesus was killed by crucifixion is considered historical bedrock (whether by Pilate if you are a historicist, or by sky demons if you are a mythicist). I've tried to point out some problems with this reading. Just to wrap up, our oldest statement of Jesus's death as a salvific event is: 3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures 4 and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) As is obvious, this is not a bare historical claim, but a theological one. And we kn ... Read Article
He Doesn’t FREAKING Get Us – Part 3: A Bait-and-Switch Jesus
Bait and switch occurs when a prospective buyer is enticed by an advertised deal that seems attractive. However, the advertised deal does not exist or is inferior in terms of quality or specifications, where the buyer is then presented with an upsell. The practice is considered unethical, and in many jurisdictions is illegal. The billion-dollar "He Gets Us" (hereafter: HGU) ad campaign for Jesus and Christianity is a classic "bait and switch" scam. It advertises an appealing Jesus who is a loving, tolerant, liberal feminist who rejects racism, but in reality, the ads are promoting conservative white evangelical Christianity and the racism, sexism, bigotry, and intolerance for which conservative white evangelicals are known. THE "BAIT" JESUS: A LOVING, TOLERANT, LIBERAL FEMINIST WHO OPPOSES RACISM First, the HGU ads describe a loving, tolerant, liberal, feminist Jesus who rejected racism: "Jesus was a refugee" and this experience g ... Read Article
Paul And The Super-Apostles
13 For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) I talked a bit last time about how the theologizing of Jesus’s death as crucifixion puts into question the historicity of the crucifixion (Jesus could have died another way).  And, in fact we seem to have early Christian groups who did not see the crucifixion or resurrection to be germane to their faith.  The Didache, for instance, makes no mention of these supposedly salvific elements, and may go back to an early tradition in that it parallels Matthew.  So too, the popular hypothetical Q source also does not mention the crucifixion and resurrection.  Paul is an interesting source here.  He identifies super-apostles (who are not the 12, since Paul has m ... Read Article
(2/2) The Peculiar Case Of The Martyrdom Of Polycarp and interpreting the Death of Jesus: Erasing The Cross From History
Last time I touched on the problematic historical problems caused by Mark theologizing his portrayal of the cross with Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 (and Wisdom of Solomon with Matthew), and Paul theologizing the cross with Deuteronomy 21:23 ("Hung on a tree") in Galatians 3:10, 13. When Paul says at its very core the cross is theologized, this raises the question of whether the original Christians didn't mean Jesus was crucified, but rather this was figurative language meaning Jesus was a man the world had turned on and viewed as the lowest of the low? Perhaps the crucifixion never happened? There are a few reason for this: The cross was the most humiliating and most brutal form of public execution enacted by society, so would serve as a great framework for understanding Jesus as turned on by the world. And, perhaps the writers give us a wink that it didn't really happen because they have Pilate question why Jesus expired so quickly, suggesting he didn't have the true experience of the cross. Why else is ... Read Article
The Peculiar Case Of The Martyrdom Of Polycarp and interpreting the Death of Jesus
Martyrs are one of our noblest types of heroes. Scott Myers points out, typically, we associate the term with someone who suffers persecution or even death for their religious or political beliefs. There are plenty of movie examples of this iteration including Braveheart, Ghandi and Silkwood. Myers comments: Their suffering can be simply tragic, but more often than not, their deaths are a cause of inspiration for others. This hearkens back to the original root of the word from the Greek μάρτυς which means “witness.” A martyr has seen or experienced something so profoundly true, at least to them, they are willing to sacrifice everything on its behalf, including their own lives. More generally, a martyr can commit an act of self-sacrifice on behalf of someone or something other than him/herself. The death of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope is a case in point. In previous posts I’ve talked a bit ... Read Article
The Unforgivable/Eternal Sin
The Unforgiveable Sin 26 For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries (Hebrews 10:26-27) Have you ever wondered, if Jesus’s death paid the sin debt in full, why there is an unforgiveable sin: blaspheming the Holy Spirit?  Our earliest gospel Mark comments: 28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:28-30; see also Matthew 12:30-32, Luke 12:8-10).” This blaspheming the holy spirit is a type of breaking the 3rd commandment, knowingly perverting the will of God like those Jewish elite who pretended it was God’s will to kill Jesus, but in this case it means those whose ... Read Article
Evolution? No Adam, No Problem (Part 2/2)
My previous post in this series was here: One of the fundamental problems in getting conservative Christians to accept evolution is that they think if there was no historical Adam, Jesus was unnecessary. The whole plan of salvation falls apart. But, this misunderstands what Paul is doing with the figure of Adam, whereas Paul is not starting with Adam and going to Christ, but starting with Christ and viewing Adam through that lens. Dr. Daniel Kirk comments: I want to open up the conversation to the possibility that the gospel does not, in fact, depend on a historical Adam or historical Fall in large part because what Paul says about Adam stems from his prior conviction about the saving work of Christ. The theological points Paul wishes to make concern the saving work of the resurrected Christ and the means by which he makes them is the shared cultural and religious framework of his first-century Jewish context... What dif ... Read Article
By Virtue Of The Absurd (post script)
So, in my previous 2 "By Virtue Of The Absurd" posts, I was looking into some New Testament stories that were absurd on face value, but pointed to some deeper underlying meaning. I just wanted to let Prof Price have the last word as to Paul's conversion story in Acts, which we should always raise the question anew of what it's doing: Saul loses no time in aggressively “preaching the faith he once tried to destroy” (Gal.1:23). His turnabout is as radical as Ebenezer Scrooge’s. It looks like what it is: a fictive miracle story. I can’t help thinking that, in the real world, anyone who knew who Saul was and now saw him preaching Jesus would conclude, not that Saul’s Jekyll- Hyde switcheroo proved the truth of his new creed, but that he had lost his mind. He would merely seem unstable. Who could predict what off-beat sect he might espouse next? Mithraism? The friggin’ Sabazius cult? (Price, Robert M.. Holy Fable Volume 2: The Gospels and Acts Undistorted by Faith (p. 276). Mindvendor. Kindle Edi ... Read Article
He Doesn’t FREAKING Get Us – Part 2: Jesus Supported Women’s Equality?
There is a BILLION DOLLAR ad campaign going on now called "He Gets Us" (hereafter: HGU). The campaign is promoting Jesus and Christianity. Like most advertising campaigns, and like most efforts to promote the Christian religion, this effort has produced a large helping of BULLSHIT. So, I'm doing what I can to point a spotlight on claims or ideas put forward by HGU that are falsehoods, lies, inaccuracies, fallacies, dubious claims, or that involve illogical reasoning. In Part 1 of this series, I showed that the HGU claim that "Jesus was a refugee" is probably FALSE, and that even if the extremely dubious story about Jesus provided to support that claim was true, Jesus would have been a refugee when he was only one or two years old, and so would not have remembered anything that he experienced as a refugee. The "Jesus was a refugee" post on the HGU website is BULLSHIT. DID JESUS SUPPORT WOMEN'S EQUALITY? In order to make Jesus seem hip and ahead of his time, an HGU post portrays Jesus as a ... Read Article
By Virtue Of The Absurd (2/2)
“Even if this man (Dionysus) be no God, as you think, still say that he is. Be guilty of a splendid fraud, declaring him to be the son of Semele, for this will make it seem she is the mother of a God, and will confer honor on all our race” (Bacchae lines 332-336).” “Christian theologians (masquerading as New Testament exegetes) attempt to trace the lightning-fast thought process that “must have” flashed through Saul’s synapses in a split second while he was falling off his horse: “Hmmm… I assumed Jesus was a law-breaker and got crucified for it, so he couldn’t be the Messiah. Now that I see he is the Messiah but was no less a scofflaw, I guess that means the Messiah came to negate the Torah! Yeah! That’s it! Okay, sign me up and hand me a ham sandwich!”[474] Absurd. You wish.” (Price, Robert M.. Holy Fable Volume 2: The Gospels and Acts Undistorted by Faith (p. 275). Mindvendor. Kindle Edition). Paul’s conversion is one of the great testimonies to the faith in Christian ... Read Article
Augustine vs Nahm: Soul Survival?
Michael Nahm"A Guardian Angel Gone Astray: How Not to Engage in Scientific Debates" Keith AugustineAnswering More of the Same: A Reply to Nahm A really interesting journal exchange has been published between Augustine and Nahm regarding the life after death debate.  The journal issue is here: Here are some of the topics: I think consciousness is but a species of awareness, which is in turn a species of attention toward, since we can be vividly absorbed yet be unconscious, such as in a dream.  In this way, consciousness as mental state is not separate from awareness of, say, my cold hand, but just a more developed kind of it.  Feeling cold is thus not fundamentally different from modelling 3X2=6 with counters in your imagination, but are both just more and less complex kinds of awareness. Regarding life after death, Augustine is an atheist, but Augustine has no interest in advocating reductionist phy ... Read Article
By Virtue Of The Absurd
So, in recent posts I’ve been talking a bit about the turning points of Mark and John as the events causing Jesus’s arrest: the temple tantrum in Mark and the raising of Lazarus in John.  We looked at the absurdity of the temple tantrum story.  Also, we began to think about the absurdity of the Lazarus story, which is the centerpiece of Jesus’s display of power in John although no previous writer had heard of the story! Why are these absurd stories the turning points of the two gospels?  In order to think of this let’s turn to Kierkegaard’s analysis of Abraham and Isaac.  Kierkegaard pointed out that Abraham embraced the absurd by suspending his ethical obligation to his son in his willingness to kill Isaac.  Abraham embraces the absurd  because his act is unintelligible, and even contradicts what God has told him to expect as the father of a great nation: he acted "by virtue of the absurd." We saw that the gospels were written on a literal level, and a figurativ ... Read Article
General Summary Of The Gospels Christian Origins Argument Thus Far
So, if you're new here, welcome to Secular Frontier! I've been exploring Christian Origins in the gospels in relation to sacrifice. In Mark, we have a dual presentation of Jesus as the Yom Kippur pure goat and scapegoat. In a superficial common way, this means penal substitution theology, but in a deeper way it means moral influence theology focused on the excess of violence of the scapegoat being torn apart when it is pushed off the cliff. Jewish sacrifice is usually otherwise done in a humane way. Similarly, the gospel of John identifies Jesus as the Passover lamb who takes away the sin (singular) of the world, which doesn't immediately reconcile with penal substitution, but makes perfect sense as moral influence as removing man's "sin condition." One major problem with the usual interpretation is that Jesus as a Passover lamb sacrifice doesn't imply substitutionary atonement. So, that's where we are thus far. More to come! ... Read Article
(2/2) What Is A Gospel?  Investigations Into The Gospel Of John – LINE OF ARGUMENT
So, briefly, the previous post took up the question of what are we to make of Jesus's temple tantrum being the reason for his arrest in Mark, while in John the arrest is because of Jesus's raising of Lazarus? Cleary, if Jesus was threatening the temple, this would be a reason for the Romans to step in. But the story itself is absurd. There would have been guards there to prevent such a disturbance. Price comments that: 33. Cleansing the Temple (Mark 11:15-18) Jesus’ overthrow of the Temple service (not only does he scatter the livestock for offerings but somehow bans anyone carrying sacrificial vessels) is historically impossible as it reads here. The envisioned area is huge, and for Jesus to commandeer it like this would have required a military raid, something of which Mark’s text seems oblivious. Though it is not unlikely that the story preserves some faded memory of the entry of Simon bar-Gioras into the Temple to clean out the robbers of John of Giscala on the eve of the Temple’s destru ... Read Article
What Is A Gospel?  Investigations Into The Gospel Of John
ABSTRACT: I tried to showcase recent work by Robert Price (2017), Dennis MacDonald (2022), and Adele Reinhartz (2017) on the Gospel of John.  The question for the post is why the temple tantrum is the catalyst for Jesus's arrest in the synoptics, while in John it is the raising of Lazarus.  I argue that the temple incident never happened, and was Mark's way of expressing God's displeasure and judgment against a corrupt temple cult.  Mark was thus written post temple destruction, and this follows the Jewish tradition and apologetic of seeing defeat of the Jews not as the victory of foreign gods over the Jewish God, but the Jewish God punishing the Jews via foreign rulers. John's solution is that Jesus became too popular as a healer and so became a threat to the establishment. So I’ll take as my inquiry question why the temple tantrum in the synoptics is the genesis of Jesus’s arrest, while in the Gospel of John it is the raising of Lazarus?  Perhaps in doing this we will also un-cover (“a ... Read Article