Are evangelists reliable source of information?

That God didn’t actually drown 20,000,000 people, including lots of babies and pregnant women.

Evidence is really too sparse to know for sure what may have happened during an actual Exodus. There are a few scenarios that may have led to the Biblical accounts but for me as part of scripture it’s best to treat it on a literary level and see what we can glean from it about bondage and liberation. God murdering the first born of Egypt is the tough part.

Surely not. That’s perfectly typical behaviour for YHWH-Allah?

You really insist on thinking that seeing different time periods is alien to the text? Are you just trying to help me prove my point about mental gymnastics? you really insist that the text of Matthew itself gives no time indicators whatsoever? i happily at times past have acknowledged and discussed other potential difficulties in these texts, but i remain baffled when people refuse to recognize the patently obvious (textual) fact that they describe two different timeframes.

I’ll offer this last observation/comparison to carefully prove that the data regarding a timeframe of the event actually in the text: if someone wanted to hypothesize or propose that the events of the Magi’s visits to Jesus took place around the time Jesus was 3 years old, would you similarly claim that this was simply an unwarranted assumption, or might you argue (as i hope you would), from the text, that it was actually demonstrably wrong?

I would, and could, quite easily argue, from the text, that such a conclusion is not simply unwarranted, but clearly wrong… because why in the world would Herod kill all the children 2 and under if the time of birth he received from the wise men indicated that Jesus was 3 years old? and similarly, if someone wanted to say that Jesus was a newborn, then similarly, why would the text go out of its way to explain Herod’s careful determination of the child’s age and explain that his choice to kill the children 2 years old and younger was based on said timeframe, if Jesus had been recently born?

If you really can’t acknowledge that this patently obvious indication of a rough timeframe for this event is actually in the text, i fear we are at an impasse.

As for a last word, i will simply say that what you wrote was a very erudite, thoroughly detailed, full, well-referenced and rather exhaustive argument to justify ignoring the patently obvious timeframe of the Magi event as indicated in the text. I feel well justified in maintaining that the mental gymnastics on this particular topic are not on my side.

It is God who is infallible. And unknowable. A God who apparently we have no access to knowing because he hasn’t seen fit to provide us any trustworthy or reliable means of knowing who he is.

A scripture that is not infallible when it comes to providing what we need for our salvation, of course, so i’m struggling with understanding why all of a sudden i can trust it on that topic?

First my point is I don’t see the time frame as relevant or doing what you want. Both cover the birth of Jesus. Start before and end years after. They could be describing different events at vastly different days but that is not how people would be reading each of these individual stories in their individual communities and the Nazareth-Bethlehem thing is a serious problem. You are imposing a modern apologetical standard alien to the texts themselves.

Imagine if I gave a speech and I told you the next day there were 20 people in attendance. The next day you see a video of my speech and see well over 100 people showed up. On questioning my figures I explain that I offered a true statement. There were 20 people there. There were also 30, 40, to etc. There is no error here. That is how I see your defense working here.

I must admit I don’t have much interest in convincing “all or nothing” inerrancy advocates their view is false. I generally focus my efforts on deconstructing Christians who already or are leaning towards rejecting that. I have attempted to address some of these issues and some of your concerns here:

If the Bible has errors isn’t it useless for faith? Answer

How could God author a text with errors? Answer

If the Bible has errors, how do we know what is true? Answer

I have done so to the best of my ability. Hope it helps.

Vinnie

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Not a great start.

Why does “contradictions and discrepancies” mean that the Bible “is weakly inspired, if at all”?

Why cannot it simultaneously both be inspired and contain contradictions/discrepancies? If you want to claim that as either/or then you may do so. But recognise that such “either/or” enforcement is your choice of your interpretation that you are applying to your reading of it, not the supposedly objective conclusion that you might wish it to be.

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Well, it was a very nice discussion, thank you all for your time and don’t please do say even more if you have something to share.

I was wrong with black and white thinking that Luke and Matthew had to be fanatics or malevolent individuals to write a forced story like this only to further their point. After all it seems like lying to me, no matter how beautiful it was, and I couldn’t see anything good in lying.

But from reading answers here and reading some more at Wikipedia it seems that they just did it to convert people. Both of them had this mission to convert people to Christianity and they seemed to truly care about Jesus and it doesn’t seem either that lying this way would benefit them if they did it for profit.

They both were converting different people in different surrounding so they made a story that would have a higher chance of being relatable to people they tried to convert (didn’t come up with it but makes a lot of sense), they may have had some sources they were inspired by, but those stories seem just too well crafted and mythological in nature for them to be just testimonies or rumors and even if they were part of them, both Matthew and Luke changed a lot in them to fit their goal of proselyting.

In the end if you look at them closely, you can maybe try to explain differences in one part of the story or the other but trying to unify both stories is not possible in my opinion. But that was already well explained here.

So, a lie is a lie isn’t it? It’s bad, how could they do it? Well, I can see why they did what they did, today we may say, it “would’ve been a lot better if they didn’t lie!”, as it would be easier to recognize the true parts of the story from the fake ones, but they didn’t write for us, they didn’t write for history, they didn’t write for truth, what they were focused on were the gentiles and Jews, so they created noble lies to convert them.

They were sure of the truth, even if they didn’t know the full story, so they decided that lying is simply less harm than losing all those potential people they could’ve converted if they make some lies to show how chosen Jesus is. Is this making their gospels less credible? Yes. Was this a good decision? Tough to say, I would say no and I would criticize people that acted like them. But so what, isn’t it typical for people to believe in “the end justifies the means”? As I said, they were humans, it doesn’t mean they were bad for lying, they simply thought what they did was correct and who knows, maybe without those lies Christianity wouldn’t be as big as it is now (after all e.g. nativity of Jesus is a big part of today’s ceremonies because it made big impact on people), maybe if they saw how big turmoil would those stories invoke they would not decide to create them but they couldn’t know know, they may have even believed that there won’t be “far future” as Jesus would come back any day.

In the end what we can do is acknowledge that those stories are fabrications and with that we may mitigate further harms it will cause and already caused, those stories for sure did good job at what they were designed to accomplish but I think they aren’t too useful to us in learning about God’, obviously we should never completely reject them, maybe one of them was true, maybe something in between was true, maybe at least something of them was true and we should never give up on trying to find it even if only for convining ourselves that it was truly nothing important.

Well, FYI , I’m talking about inspired as “inspired by God”, not inspired by some other story or love for God, I would say that divine inspiration would give you at least some supernatural knowledge and guide you to not make big mistakes, if both of them were divinely inspired, they wouldn’t have to fabricate stories (not some minor, but very vital stories) so they wouldn’t contradict each other completely like theydid now. Even if inspiration didn’t give them too much knowledge it would help them make a story that not only suits this generation but many future generations and because of small and big errors in them millions of people felt justified to reject religion, and I can’t stress this enough, it was a rational reason, not some selfish excuse.

We need to stop expecting the Bible to read like an AP newswire.

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I guess for me the genealogy is not that important at all. Especially given how it seems it was part of their culture to use various forms of a persons genealogy in order to point towards a specific point. Much like the beginning of genesis, the genealogies were not written to actually be a historical account of Jesus’s detailed personal lineage. So for me it’s not a issue whatsoever.

As for lying the intent behind lying is deceit and not to convey a story. They were conveying a story. That’s why it’s very different from telling a kid that Santa brought toys down a chimney than from a kidnapper saying to a kid they are their real parents when in reality they stole them.

If I was late for work and they asked me what happened and I said well on the way to work I got abducted by aliens and went and found a war in another galaxy and then was sent back through time 15 minutes later than they took me the people would
Know I was clearly joking vs if I said I had a flat tire and had to fill it back up. The second one would clearly have been created to deceive them if I just simply woke up late.

It seems people back then would have understood the story being told and was not being deceived.

Jesus’ genealogy selects just enough ancestors (“begat” can mean “was the ancestor of”) to create three series of fourteen names > probably employing gematria (numerical value of the sum of the Hebrew consonants of a given word) on the name דוד (“David”), which equaled fourteen (ד = 4, ו = 6, ד = 4). This is important.

The first series climaxes with David, the second with the deportation to Babylon, a momentous turning point in Israelite history (2 Kings 25). All the names from “Abraham” to “Zerubbabel” appear in the OT. The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah figure prominently in Gen. 12–50.

The other male names in 1:2–6a all correspond to 1 Chron. 2:3–15. “Solomon” through “Josiah” (1:6b–11) all appear in 1 Chron. 3:10–14, once we recognize that Azariah and Uzziah were the same people (2 Kings 15:1–2 with 2 Chron. 26:3).

“Jeconiah” (1:12) is a variant form of “Jehoiachin,” who with Shealtiel and Zerubbabel are mentioned in 1 Chron. 3:17–19. The rest of the names (from “Abiud” to “Jacob”) are otherwise unknown.

More interesting than the men are the women in Jesus’ genealogy. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (“Uriah’s wife” [1:6]) were Gentiles but also women who were under suspicion, rightly or wrongly, of illicit sexual relations (Gen. 38; Josh. 2; Ruth 3; 2 Sam. 11).

Mary was not a Gentile, but she did experience the stigma of a conception out of wedlock, shrouded in suspicion among those who did not believe the story of a virgin birth.

So to answer the doubts raised by DGX37, one notes that Matthew takes his genealogy back no farther than Abraham (Luke goes back to Adam).

From Abraham to David the genealogy is much the same as in Luke, though, of course, the two arrange the names differently: Luke goes from son to father and Matthew from father to son.

The striking differences in the genealogies from David present a difficult problem. Some suggest that Matthew gives us the genealogy of Joseph (the legal father) and Luke that of Mary (the actual line).

I think this is unlikely, for genealogies were not reckoned through the mother (though, of course, we must reckon with the fact that we have no information about what would happen when there was no human father).

In any case, Luke speaks of “Joseph the son of Eli” (Luke 3:23), which certainly does not read as though he were giving Mary’s genealogy.

Another supposition is that there had been a levirate marriage when Eli died childlessly; Jacob, with the same mother but a different father, married the widow, and Joseph was his son. Some suggest this, but it lacks evidence.

I would suggest, that Matthew’s list represents the legal descendants of David, those who would actually have reigned had the kingdom continued, while Luke gives the descendants of David in the line to which Joseph belonged. But we have no way of being certain.

Does this mean “many things have been added, removed, or corrupted?”

I think you are probably correct, as Joseph was the legal father and Jesus would have been considered his eldest son and legal heir regardless of parentage. It does make you wonder what happened in that society with the death of Joseph if tradition is correct, as Jesus would have been considered the family head, I presume. Of course, the Gospel accounts are not concerned with such things, but it is interesting to think about.

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This is fiction based on fundamentalist assumptions about the Bible. Here is reality regarding the birth narratives. We have three options:

[1] Matthew used acceptable literary conventions of the time to present Jesus as a new and greater Moses and he was correct.

[2] If Matthew knew Jesus wasn’t a new and greater Moses but used ancient literary conventions to claim he was anyway, he can be accused of lying.

[3] If Matthew thought Jesus was a new and greater Moses and used ancient literary conventions to claim he was but was completely wrong, he can be accused of being mistaken.

These are the options, not Matthew was a liar. You are confusing the genre of Matthew’s infancy narrative like so many Christians and judging it as if it was a modern historical work or was overly concerned with what exactly happened and when like we are. You are making the truth of Matthew’s birth story contingent on the literalness of its details rather than what it is actually teaching using convention at the time. If a poem mentioned “rocks could jump” we wouldn’t call the author a liar. You have to read Matthew based on the conventions of the time it was written.

I view this approach as being incorrect. . You are assuming a specific model of inspiration and devaluing God’s sovereignty. He can speak to us anyway He chooses. He may have just moved the authors to write and put ideas in their heads. He may have done it differently. The point is one does not need to assume he wrote the very words of the Bible and everything we look at suggests he didn’t. For some theologians the power of scripture doesn’t even become manifest until you read it in the spirit. The wisdom of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.

I think the Christmas stories have inspired countless people and generations. But God can’t create a bigger rock than he can lift. Or make a story everyone agrees with if they have free will.

People don’t come to God or reject Him for intellectual reasons. Yes these play a role but they are usually our walls and excuses. Making faith and God’s salvific grace dependent on how many facts a human knows or if they can prove such and such is as bad as theology can get. Not to mention it is usual to find we justify things like this after we come to believe them.

Vinnie

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Or what about the exodus from Mitsrayim in Indus Valley India?

The genre of your proposed story (The Exodus from the Indus Valley in India instead of Egypt) is called Alternate History. Some examples include:

  • “The Man in the High Castle” (What if the Nazis had won WWII?)
  • “The Last Temptation of Christ” (What if Jesus had escaped being crucified?")
  • “The Alteration” (What if the Reformation had never happened and Martin Luther had become Pope?)

Interesting stories, sometimes controversial, but definitely not historical.

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Dear DGX37

In his book “The Heresy of Ham” Joel Edmund Anderson addresses some of these issues, including the differing genealogies in the gospels. Anderson emphasises the importance of taking into account not only the varying literary genres but also the message being conveyed to the original audience. This is quite different from the literal face-value-as-understood-in-our-modern-culture approach taken by many today – the “Ham” in the title referring to Ken Ham of the notably aggressive modern western phenomenon of the young earth creationist movement.

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