Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nutty Gospel Alternative

OK, so doing some research I came across this interesting article.

Frankly, it is absolutely nuts. First, they consistently use the phrases “modern scholars”, “most scholars”, etc. to give the impression that most people who have studied the issue take this position. But in reality they are quoting fringe scholars who are completely outnumbered—yet somehow get most of the media hits.

The article also tells us that Jesus set up His (apparent) death to be in accordance with Old Testament prophesies. Here's the question though—why on earth? Why go get crucified for the sake of a prophesy? It makes zero sense. Subjecting yourself to that kind of torment willingly is absolutely nuts. Sure, there are crazy people out there, but that's just too much. How could Jesus assure that He wouldn't actually die, and be yet another (there are several others) failed dead wannabe Messiah?

Additionally, why on earth would poser-Messiah-Jesus choose a cross to die on? It was the absolute worst death conceivable. Victims were crucified naked (not with loincloths like in the pictures) and due to the nails in their hands and feet, completely lost control of all of their bodily functions, throwing up and going to the bathroom on reflex. In fact, crucifixion was considered so extremely sick that it was considered inappropriate to even mention it in polite company—comparable to giving “the finger” at a modern-day dinner party. Trypho and many others mocked Christians to no end because they worshiped a man who had died on the cross! And, to be perfectly frank, Christians could rarely defend themselves. Tertullian replied to Trypho by simply changing the subject, basically saying, “oh yeah, well, you pagan guys worship pieces of wood!”

The writers of the article also have no clue that some fulfillment of Old Testament scripture can be illustrative; i.e. that instead of fulfilling a predictive prophesy, a scriptural principle is said to be “fulfilled” in the sense that it was underscored or illustrated. Psalm 69:21 is one example, as are most of the other scriptures they listed. If they cared to clue themselves in on what an illustrative prophesy was, their entire article would fall apart. Genuine predictive prophesies from the Old Testament (e.g. Isaiah 7:14ff) would be ridiculously difficult to fulfill.

The article also talks about “hidden Essene physicians” strategically placed in the tomb who would help Jesus to recover. Frankly, this is such a bizarre theory it is ridiculous. It is extremely difficult to hide someone in a newly cut tomb—there are not multiple chambers, just one. If the article writers want to suggest this idea, I suppose they had also better maintain that Joseph of Arimathea was completely alone when he went to bury Jesus, or else he brought only people he trusted. Never mind the guard apologetic of Matthew 27, which I am sure our article writers would reject, even though it only makes sense within the context of a presupposed polemic. Not to mention it is quite questionable how the Essene physicians would survive in a sealed, newly cut rock tomb without external air for three days. And how might they get out? Check out a first-century tomb. There's really nowhere to get a push-off in the right angle to push the stone. The stone, by the way, would probably be 1.5 to 2 tons, and in the first century, square (notwithstanding the “rolled away” English translations of various verses).

Jesus, by the way, would not be getting married after being crucified. After getting nails put through His feet and hands, it is most probable that He would end up a cripple instead.

I would like to offer a lengthy reply to one piece in particular.

"Furthermore, in the Greek version of the Gospels, when Joseph of Arimetha asks for Jesus' body, he used the word soma -- a word applied only to a living body. Pilate, assenting to the request, employs the word ptoma -- which means "corpse". (Perhaps the Greeks knew something we didn't.) Interestingly, there is also the possibility that Pilate was bribed. This would account for the crucifiction taking place at the Garden of Gethsemane (private land), and for the body being taken down so quickly. In short the evidence is overwhelming that the Cruci- fixion was instead a Cruci- fiction.

First off, Joseph of Arimathea does not actually give a direct address or anything resembling a quote (they didn't have quotations in Greek) to Pilate, thus, Joseph of Arimathea never used the word soma in the gospels. In fact, he never talks at all. Now, let's kick in some sarcasm.

Oh really? The Greek soma means “living body?” I was unaware of that.

Luke 17:37 καὶ ἀποκριθέντες λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· ποῦ, κύριε; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὅπου τὸ σῶμα, ἐκεῖ καὶ οἱ ἀετοὶ ἐπισυναχθήσονται.
They, answering, asked him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body [soma] is, there will the vultures also be gathered together.”

I understand this verse better now that I know Jesus really means that vultures will gather where there are living bodies. Maybe I've been wrong about vultures all this time.

Romans 8:10 εἰ δὲ Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν, τὸ μὲν σῶμα νεκρὸν διὰ ἁμαρτίαν τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζωὴ διὰ δικαιοσύνην.
If Christ is in you, the body [soma] is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

And I see now how Paul is talking about metaphorical living bodies that are dead, thank you very much.

1 Corinthians 15:44 σπείρεται σῶμα ψυχικόν, ἐγείρεται σῶμα πνευματικόν. εἰ ἔστιν σῶμα ψυχικόν, ἔστιν καὶ πνευματικόν.
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body [soma]. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body.

It makes much more sense now that I know that Paul is talking about living bodies being resurrected.

James 2:26 ὥσπερ [γὰρ] τὸ σῶμα χωρὶς πνεύματος νεκρόν ἐστιν, οὕτως καὶ ἡ πίστις χωρὶς ἔργων νεκρά ἐστιν.
For as the body [soma] apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead.

Wow, I never noticed before that James was talking about living bodies being dead!

John 19:31 Οἱ οὖν Ἰουδαῖοι, ἐπεὶ παρασκευὴ ἦν, ἵνα μὴ μείνῃ ἐπὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ τὰ σώματα ἐν τῷ σαββάτῳ, ἦν γὰρ μεγάλη ἡ ἡμέρα ἐκείνου τοῦ σαββάτου, ἠρώτησαν τὸν Πιλᾶτον ἵνα κατεαγῶσιν αὐτῶν τὰ σκέλη καὶ ἀρθῶσιν.
Therefore the Jews, because it was the Preparation Day, so that the bodies [somata] wouldn't remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special one), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

My my! I can't believe it! All three of the bodies on the crosses were actually living! Jesus wasn't the only one to survive the crucifixion! There are many other examples, but I think this is enough to say that the claim that soma means “living body”, and thus Jesus actually survived the cross according to the Bible, is completely and utterly false.

Now, as a final blow, I will simply quote the article. “His [Jesus'] wife, Mary Magdalen, may well have fled the country, and in fact landed in Southern France. With her, she would have carried the Holy Grail -- or "Blood Royal".”

I think that says enough.

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