Biblical Methodology of Canon/Orthodoxy

For more on the formation of Canon/orthodoxy – see CanonNTSpecialEdit

Why History Requires Expertise

The problem with most of Biblical research is that it has largely been conducted through a scope of sub-par standards in methodology, often with more regards to theological exegesis rather than historical understanding. It is also a conflict of interest in most instances for a theologian to perform an objective exegesis on a passage, and rather difficult considering most theologians are not experts in history or methodology of historical research, as it is outside their field. Biblical literature is plagued with diverse thoughts, research, and interpolations; it is not something that the lay man can correctly understand without proper reading, time, and effort, as well as a good education in regards to research methods. Let’s go over what is typically done for a text to determine historicity.

Textual Analysis[1]

Textual Criticism and Paleography are two commonly used ways to ascertain authenticity of a document and if it reflects the original. (or earliest redaction available) – Critical Editions of ancient texts are results of these efforts.  Performing these techniques require skill, training, and experience in areas that goes beyond simple amateur knowledge.

Literary Analysis

What we assume about genre & the semantic ranges of words in an ancient text if based solely on experience with modern literature/vocabulary will be wrong; likewise for assumptions about what was normal, known, or believed in that time. A good understanding of language as it was spoken/written as well as a strong grasp to the  historical, cultural, political, social, economic, and religious context in which it was written is needed. All of this requires extensive time/experience/knowledge that drastically separates the professional vs the amateur.

Source Analysis

Assessing/Identifying an author’s source of information requires a vast knowledge of what sources existed then and survive now, what sort of sources an author will have used, and methodologically, how to ascertain when a particular claim/passage uses a source at all, or some known or hypothesized source in particular. Again, expertise is indispensable.

Historical Analysis            (Must be last)

Historical analysis comes last; the other three stages are often completed by other experts & specialists upon whose work subsequent experts rely. Understanding when to rely on groundwork and how to understand it correctly and critically requires honing under the guidance of experts who have experience and can give you feedback to the errors/mistakes that are being made.

Scholarship on Methodologies & Criteria

  • Most modern experts, apart from Inerrants, agree Jesus in the Bible is buried in Myth/Legend
  • Experts in Methodological studies agree there are no reliable criteria for separating authentic from inauthentic Jesus tradition.
  • Methodologies used have not led to uniformity
  • Quest for Criteria has failed thus far
  • Overly speculative or presupposes information/theology

Suggested starting point readings on Methodology/Criteria

Bart Ehrman “Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in The Bible”
Gerd Theissen & Annette Merz “The Historical Jesus: A comprehensive guide”
Burton Mack “The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy
Stanley Porter “Criteria for Authenticity in Historical-Jesus Research: Previous Discussion and New Proposals”* Sheffield Academic Press
Michael Bird ”The Criterion of Greek Language and Context: A Response to Stanley Porter” – See Porter’s response to Bird in Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 4, no 1 pp 69-74
Dale Allison “Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage” & “Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet”
Hector Avalos “The End of Biblical Studies” Prometheus Books
Gerd Theissen & Dagmar Winter “The Quest for the Plausible Jesus: The Question of Criteria” Trans. John Knox Press
Chris Keith & Anthony Le Donnes “Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity” T&T Clark
M.D. Hooker “Christology & Methodology” – New Testament Studies 17 pp 480-87
John Gager “The Gospels and Jesus: Some Doubts about Method” – Journal of Religion 54, no 3 pp 244-72
Christopher Tuckett “Sources & Methods” The Cambridge Companion to Jesus pp 121-37

John Meier “Criteria: How Do We Decide What Comes From Jesus?” A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus vol 1 pp 167-195
H.W. Shin “Textual Criticism and the Synoptic Problem in Historical Jesus Research: The Search for Valid Criteria” pp 135-220; 320-34
Eric Eve “Meier Miracle, and Multiple Attestation” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 3 no 1 pp 23-45
William Lyons”The Hermeneutics of Fictional Black & Factual Red: The Markan Simon of Cyrene and the Quest for the Historical Jesus” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 4 no 2 pp139-54 & “A Prophet Rejected in His Home Town (Mark 6.4 & Parallels): A Study in the Methodological Consistency of the Jesus Seminar”  Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 6 no 1 59-84
Rafael Rodriguez “Authenticating Criteria: The Use & Misuse of a Critical Method” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 7 no 2 pp 152-67
Fernando Bermejo-Rubio ”The Fiction of the ‘Three Quests’: An Argument for Dismantling A Dubious Historiographical Paradigm” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 7.3 pp 211-53******
Walter Weaver “The Historical Jesus in the Twentieth Century, 1900-1950” Trinity
Mark Strauss ”Four Portrais, One Jesus: An Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels”
Bruce Chilton & Craig Evans “Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research”

Why the Church Fathers are not credible sources. (Non-Apostolic)[2]
            – Methodologies used by church fathers[3]
Individual Examination – focus on number of passages vs quality.
– Cohesion – must not directly contradict teachings
– Out of known Manuscripts: Forgeries hold a ratio of 10:1
– Under threat of Emperor to unify sects [council of nicea]
– See Formation of Canon by RC for thorough analysis 

Manuscripts/Ancient Texts & various readings/interpolations: What we DO have.

Greek Manuscripts

– Normal mode to forge/modify documents by beginning of 2nd century.
– More than 150,000 different readings have been found in the older witnesses to the text of the New Testament–which in itself is a proof that Scriptures are not the only, nor the principal, means of revelation.
– The ancients were aware of the variant readings in the text and in the versions of the New Testament; Origen, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine particularly insisted on this state of things. In every age and in diverse places efforts were made to remedy the evil; in Africa, in the time of St. Cyprian (250); in the East by means of the works of Origen (200-54); then by those of Lucian at Antioch and Hesychius at Alexandria, in the beginning of the fourth century. Later on (383) St. Jerome revised the Latin version with the aid of what he considered to be the best copies of the Greek text. Between 400 and 450 Rabbula of Edessa did the same thing for the Syriac version.

More than 4000 have been already catalogued and partly studied, only the minority of which contain the whole New Testament. Twenty of these texts are prior to the eighth century, a dozen are of the sixth century, five of the fifth century, and two of the fourth. The most celebrated of these manuscripts are:

  • Vaticanusd 1, Rome, fourth cent.;
  • Sinaiticusd 2, Saint Petersburg, fourth cent.;
  • Ephræmus rescriptusd 3, Paris, fifth cent.;
  • Alexandrinusd 4, London, fifth cent.;
  • Cantabrigiensis (or Codex Bezæd 5, Cambridge, sixth cent.;
  • D 2 Claromontanusa 1026, Paris, sixth cent.;
  • Laurensisd 6, Mount Athos, eighth-ninth cent.;
  • Basilcensise 55, Bâle, eighth cent.

Ancient Versions

  • Several are derived from original texts prior to the most ancient Greek manuscripts. These versions are, following the order of their age, Latin, Syriac, EgyptianArmenianEthiopian, Gothic, and Georgian. The first three, especially the Latin and the Syriac, are of the greatest importance.
  • Latin version— Up to about the end of the fourth century, it was diffused in the West (Proconsular Africa,Rome, Northern Italy, and especially at Milan, in Gaul, and in Spain) in slightly different forms. The best known of these is that of  Augustine called the “Itala”, the sources of which go as far back as the second century. In 383 St. Jerome revised the Italic type after the Greek manuscripts, the best of which did not differ much from the text represented by the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus. It was this revision, altered here and there by readings from the primitive Latin version and a few other more recent variants, that prevailed in the west from the sixth century under the name of Vulgate.
  • Syriac Version— Three primitive types are represented by the Diatessaron of Tatian (second cent.), the palimpset of Sinai, called the Lewis codex from the name of the lady who found it (third cent., perhaps from the end of the second), and the Codex of Cureton (third cent.). The Syriac Version of this primitive epoch that still survives contains only the Gospels. Later, in the fifth century, it was revised after the Greek text. The most widespread of these revisions, which became almost the official version, is called the Pesittâ (Peshitto, simple, vulgate); the others are called Philoxenian (sixth cent.), Heraclean (seventh cent.), and Syro-Palestinian (sixth cent.).
  • Egyptian Version— The best known type is that called Boharic (used in the Delta from Alexandria toMemphis) and also Coptic from the generic name Copt, which is a corruption of the Greek aiguptosEgyptian. It is the version of Lower Egypt and dates from the fifth century. A greater interest is attached to the version of Upper Egypt, called the Sahidic, or Theban, which is a work of the third century, perhaps even of the second. Unfortunately it is only incompletely known as yet.
  • These ancient versions will be considered precise and firm witnesses of the Greek text of the first three centuries only when we have critical editions of them; for they themselves are represented by copies that differ from one another. The work has been undertaken and is already fairly advanced. The primitive Latinversion had been already reconstituted by the Benedictine Sabatier (“Bibliorum Sacorum latinæ versiones antiquæ seu Vetus Italica”, Reims, 1743, 3 vols.); the work has been taken up again and completed in the English collection “Old-Latin Biblical Texts” (1883-1911), still in course of publication. The critical edition of the Latin Vulgatepublished at Oxford by the Anglicans Wordsworth and White, from 1889 to 1905, gives the Gospels and the Acts. In 1907 the Benedictines received from Pius X the commission to prepare a critical edition of the Latin Bible of St. Jerome (Old and New Testament). The “Diatessaron” of Tatian is known to us by the Arabic version edited by 1888 by Mgr. Ciasea, and by the Armenian version of a commentary of St. Ephraem (which is founded on the Syriac of Tatian) translated into Latin, in 1876, by the Mechitarists Auchar and Moesinger. The publications of H. Von Soden have contributed to make the work of Tatian better known. Mrs. A. S. Lewis has just published a comparative edition of the Syriac palimpset of Sinai (1910); this had been already done by F.C. Burkitt for the Curetoncodex, in 1904. There exists also a critical edition of the Peshitto by G.H. Gwilliam (1901). As regards the Egyptian versions of the Gospels, the edition of G. Horner (1901-1911, 5 vols.) has put them at the disposition of all those who read Coptic and Sahidic. The English translation, that accompanies them, is meant for a wider circle of readers.

Apostolic Fathers: Problematic Theology[4]

The Didache is a compilation of the earliest known tenets of Christian faith that were put together by the Apostolic Fathers; more precisely, a text on how Jewish Christians should behave & what rituals to follow as the progress into a Jewish-Gentile c. Could these possibly pose a problem to Fundamentalist faith?  The Didache utilizes a wide knowledge of scriptures that were deemed heretical/non-canon: Shepard of Hermas, Epistle of Barnabas, Epistle of Polycarp, and Epistle of Ignatius of Antioch.  Apart from these scriptures that often contain contradictory ideologies to later beliefs; their works include a baptismal emphasis on salvation that is rejected by most Fundamentalists today.  – The earliest church fathers had their material & thoughts rejected by the Council of Nicea, our earliest sources of canon teachings, are immediately not recognized by the Church only 2 centuries later & often not followed today. What’s worse is the text was lost for centuries until 1873 when the Greek manuscript containing it was found.  Orthodoxy becomes a tricky assertion with discontinuity between Apostolic Fathers and later Church Fathers, as the Bible itself also speaks of other competing sects (2 Peter) as well as Galatians that exposes arguments as to what should be orthodoxy within the apostles as well.

So the Bible is errant, with forgeries and translation errors, and while producing a redaction without high speculation on some scripture will remain impossible with current knowledge, that does not mean the whole body is to be discredited – as we can pull information from a text – it just typically requires reliance from another expert for translation and such things.


[1] In a recent article published in the journal of Biblical Literature, Eldon Jay Epp discusses the urgent need for serious involvement in the area of textual criticism. According to Epp, the present status of New Testament textual criticism in North America is one of inactivity. Says he, “It is, in fact, difficult to name more than one or two recognized graduate institutions in North America where doctoral studies in the textual criticism of the New Testament can be pursued under some established specialist.”



[3] We know most changes to a text occur in the first century of its transmission, because… (1) It is then much easier to get away with it (or to make an error that goes unnoticed and uncorrected) (2) The quality of scribes at work on the Bible in its first two centuries has been proven to be substantially inferior to the professional quality of later centuries (cf. Barbara Aland). (3) A curve showing the stability of the NT text over the first twelve centuries shows stability increasing every century, which entails its stability was worse in the first century than in any following century —precisely the century invisible to us.


[4] Second-century  controversy  over  revelation  with  Marcion, various  Gnostics,  and  the  Montanists   demonstrated   the  need  of  clarity  about   the deposit left in trust by the apostolic witnesses. Influential  figures like Irenaeus,  Origen, and  Athanasius   expressed  their  views on  the  value  of  different  Scriptures  then  in circulation.  Finally,  bishops  and  synods  gave voice to  decisions  which  in the  main confirmed  long-standing  practical  utilization  of books  in the  liturgical  lectionaries. But the fourth-century   synods  also  settled doubtful  issues, such as the  status  of the Epistle to  the Hebrews,  the value of John’s  Apocalypse,  and  the full number  of the Catholic Epistles. Different criteria were applied at different times, for example, as the inclusion of some disputed books was settled on the basis of their harmony with the traditional   rule of faith.  The  rule of faith,  however,  could  hardly  be applied  to  the synoptic  gospels  and  Paul  as their  criterion  of canonicity,  since the  rule  had  been closely linked  from  the  beginning  to  these  documents,   being  taken  as  the  concise recapitulation  of the sense of their witness to the Christ-event. See Jared Wicks, Gregorianum, Vol. 67, No. 2 (1986), pp. 368-370 – Gregorian Biblical Press

Islamophobia & the Refugee Crisis

After everything that has taken place this month, and the rise of refugee acceptance as a hot issue, I decided to write a piece on Islamophobia and how the West’s negative attitudes towards Islamic people is crippling our empathy to people in need and distorting our image of Islam and Arab Muslims, which is now having additional implications to refugees. I wrote this in an actual document to make citations easier so just click on the link to the doc. I will update this while everything unfolds:

Last Update: 11/20/ to cover new bill Congress passed in regards to refugee screening.


Galatians 4.4 – Jesus, not “born” of a Woman.

Galatians is arguably the most important letter that we have from Paul. The letter to the Galatians exposes corroborative issues with Acts, as well as exhibits some of the most controversial and difficult passages to interpret. In particular, this writing will attempt to examine Galatians 4, and the use of the Greek word Genomenos in Gal 4.4 as the vocabulary used in the representation of Paul’s description of how Jesus was “born”.  For those who are ignorant of the foundational facts required I will be brief in overview: Paul never displays a knowledge of a historic Jesus, nor does he attempt to place Jesus in an earthly manner of history. This passage is one of only two possible historical attributions Paul could give Christ, assuming that “born of a woman” is to be interpreted as a literal event; however, this explanation is rather problematic when faced with the alternative explanation that has far more evidence to back it. So how does Paul describe Jesus being born? Rom 1:3 says Jesus was made from the “seed of David” according to the flesh in contradistinction to Jesus being “declared the Son of God in power, according to the spirit”, in the one case referencing his incarnation (Phil 2:5), in the other his resurrection (Phil 2:9).  Phil 2:6-11 portrays the act as a divine construction, not human procreation; no mention on childhood, birth, parents. Paul uses the word Genomenos (from ginomai), meaning “to happen, become” – Paul never uses that word when discussing human birth despite using it hundreds of other times typically to mean “becoming” – Paul’s preferred word for being born is gennao. Another notable reason to assert the reference means to become is found in 1 Cor 15:45 where Paul says Adam “was made”, using ginomai, when in reference to our heavenly bodies that have been made by God.  It is also insightful to note the reference of Job 14:1 for exegesis on humanity represented by Gal 4:4 rather than what most literalists will reference as a proclamation of Mary or a historical birth event.

So that is the reason this passage matters in regards to establishing the historicity of Christ. As I am often accused by default as having radical interpretations because I’m an Atheist, I will be starting with scholarly exegesis on the passage: from IVP New Testament Commentaries
Paul’s application of the law to their situation is taken from the story of Abraham’s two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. When we read through Paul’s use of Scripture in this section, we encounter a strange allegorical interpretation. In all of the New Testament, there is perhaps not a more difficult passage to interpret. This passage has often been used to accuse Paul of twisting and distorting Scripture. Betz says that this passage “has strained the credulity of the readers beyond what many people can bear” (1979:244). Paul explicitly calls attention to his method of interpretation in verse 24: these things may be taken figuratively. A more accurate translation of this phrase than the NIV would be “these things are now being interpreted allegorically.” Paul must have inserted this reference to his method of interpretation because he knew that his use of this method of interpreting the biblical text would cause difficulty for his readers. In order to appreciate what Paul is doing here, we need to get an overview of the passage, to look at the whole before looking at the parts. Let’s consider Paul’s purpose for his allegorical interpretation, the false teachers’ interpretation and Paul’s method of interpretation.

You can often tell the purpose of a book by simply reading its introduction and conclusion. Paul introduces his interpretation of the Old Testament text by pointing out the difference between the two sons of Abraham: one was born of the slave woman in the ordinary way, while the other was born by the free woman as the result of a promise (vv. 22-23). Paul concludes his interpretation with these words: Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman (v. 31). His introduction and conclusion make it clear that his primary purpose is to identify the Galatian Christians as the true children of Abraham, the children of the free woman, the children of promise. As we have seen already, the primary point of Paul’s argument in chapter 3 was also to answer this question of the identity of the Galatian Christians: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (3:29). So when we examine the details of Paul’s allegorical interpretation, we need to keep in mind this central point to understand where Paul is headed.

When we consider the context for the allegory in the broader setting of the entire letter, we can also see that Paul constructed the allegory to call for decisive resistance to the false teachers. Paul began the body of his letter by rebuking the Galatians for giving in to the pressure of troublemakers who were leading them to accept a false gospel (1:6-7). In his autobiography Paul illustrated how he decisively resisted pressures from Jewish Christians at Jerusalem (2:3-5) and at Antioch (2:11-14) similar to those faced by the Galatian churches. The request section of the letter begins with the initial request of the letter in 4:12, “become like me,” which calls for the Galatians to resist the false teachers just as Paul had resisted the false brothers. His own stand against those “Ishmaels” is now supported by the command of Scripture (Gen 21:10 in Gal 4:30), and Paul asks his converts to follow this command as well. To those who want to be under the law (v. 21) Paul gives a specific command to follow: Get rid of the slave woman and her son (v. 30). In 5:1 Paul paraphrases the call for decisive resistance expressed by the command of Genesis 21:10 in his own words: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

So Paul’s purpose for his allegorical interpretation of Genesis 21 is to identify the Galatian Christians as the children of freedom and to instruct them to resist those who would lead them into slavery under the law. Paul, of course, is not using the text as Philo did, to expound Platonic philosophical principles. Nevertheless, he is giving a meaning to the various terms of the text in an allegorical fashion. The theological framework for Paul’s allegorical interpretation comes from his Abraham argument in chapter 3. In that argument Gentile converts were identified as true children and heirs of Abraham on the basis of the promise given to Abraham and the fulfillment of that promise in their experience of the Spirit. The Abraham argument also set out a contrast between the Abrahamic covenant as the means of life and righteousness and the Sinaitic covenant as the means of slavery.

Thus when the Genesis account is interpreted allegorically, it is not surprising that Sarah and her counterpart–the Jerusalem above, our true mother–should be identified as the mother of the Galatian believers in Christ. It follows naturally enough that Sarah can also be equated with the covenant of promise–a promise that included Abrahamic blessings for Gentiles as the seed of Abraham. All these equations are built on the exposition of the gospel in the light of Old Testament texts in Galatians 3. In other words, Paul’s allegorical definitions in Galatians 4 do not determine or form the basis of his theology but are derived from his theology, which has already been developed in the previous chapter.

A natural consequence of Paul’s definitions of these terms in the allegorical equation is that Hagar becomes a symbol of the covenant at Mount Sinai. At this point in his interpretation, however, the basis for Paul’s definitions becomes more problematic. How can Paul make the “Hagar Mount Sinai” and “Sinai present Jerusalem” equations in the face of the fundamental Jewish conviction that the Mosaic law was given to the descendants of Isaac at Mount Sinai and had nothing to do with Hagar?

The most satisfactory explanation of Paul’s allegorical equations is simply stated in verse 25: because she is in slavery with her children. In Paul’s allegorization of the text, slavery is the common feature that links Hagar (the slave woman), the covenant given at Mount Sinai, and the present Jerusalem. Paul has already attributed this feature of slavery to the Mosaic law (3:22-24; 4:1-10) and to a certain faction of “false brothers” at Jerusalem (2:4). His allegorization therefore must be seen as a counterattack on that Jewish-Christian faction within the church at Jerusalem which had tried to rob Gentile believers of their freedom by requiring them to be circumcised (2:3-6) and which was now attempting to do the same thing at Galatia. This actual experience of “false brothers” in the church gave rise to Paul’s allegorical treatment of the text and is the key to its interpretation.

Paul’s basic typological interpretation is supplemented by an allegorical treatment in order to relate the people in the story to the specific issues in the Galatian church and so to counterattack the false teachers’ use of the same text. by the Pulpit Commentary

Indeed, it should seem that this conception of his person is just that which forms the basis for the subsequent statement that the object of his coming into the world was to procure the adoption of sons for us. Made of a woman (γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός); made to be of a woman. This, indeed, was probably the sense intended by King James’s translators, when they followed Wicklife and the Geneva Bible in rendering “made of a woman;” whilst Tyndale and Cranmer, followed by the Revisers of 1881, give “born of a woman.” Just the same divergency of renderings appears in the same English translations in Romans 1:3, “made of the seed of David (γενομένον ἐκ σπέρματος Δαβίδ),” except that Tyndale has “begotten” instead of “born.” The difference in sense is appreciable and important: “made” implies a previous state of existence, which “born” does not. So far as the present writer can find, wherever in the New Testament the Authorized Version has “born,” we have in the Greek either τεχθῆναι or γεννηθῆναι:γενέσθαι never having this sense at all. As in Galatians 3:13(γενόμενος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα), “Being made a curse for us,” and in John 1:14 (ὁ Λόγος σάρξ ἐγένετο), “The Word was made flesh;” so here God’s Son is described as “made to be of a woman,” the phrase, “of a woman,” being nearly identical in import with the word “flesh” in St. John, distinctly implying the fact of the Incarnation. The preposition “of” (ἐκ) denotes derivation of being, as when it is found after the verb “to be” in John 8:47, “He that is of God;” “Ye are not of God,” pointing back to the claim which (ver. 41) the Jews had made that they had God for their Father. The construction of γίγνομαι, to come to be, with a preposition occurs frequently, as in Luke 22:44; Acts 22:17; Romans 16:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:7. There can be no doubt thatγενόμενον must be taken in the next clause with the same meaning as here. Made under the Law (γενόμενον ὑπὸ νόμον); that is, made to be under the Law. The “Law” here, as in the clause immediately after “those under the Law,” indicates, not Law in general, but that particular law of tutorship and of domination over one as yet in the depressed condition of a minor, which the apostle has just before spoken of; that is, a law of ceremonies and of external cult.

In four verses, Paul describes in succinct prose the salvific design of the Christ event. A paraphrase of these verses, incorporating other elements of Galatians and 2 Corinthians might go something like this:

“The transcendent God, in complete freedom, chose to change the very fabric of all life in order to liberate it from the power of Sin and Death to which it had subjected itself. God’s pre-existent Son — God’s own righteousness and glory — was commissioned with the task. This Son — the very wisdom of God — entered the sphere of the cosmos as in the form of a vulnerable human, ‘born of a woman.’ He was constrained by the elemental enslaving powers (Galatians 4:3) as were all living things. The man Jesus — a Jew faithful to the Word of God — took on upon himself the curse that came with this bondage to Sin on the cross (Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Galatians 3:13), so that humanity might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Through sacramental baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ (Galatians 3:27; cf Romans 6:1-11), one receives the very spirit of the exalted Christ and so becomes the adopted children of God, incorporated into the new humanity of God’s creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is a humanity in which there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female (Galatians 3:27-28) — distinctions that Sin worked to its own advantage. As adopted heirs gifted by the Spirit of Christ, that Body, brought from death to new life, rightfully might call God, ‘Abba’ — ‘Father.’”

Elisabeth Johnson, Professor @ Lutheran Institute of Theology, Meiganga, Cameroon

Paul makes the astonishing claim that for the Galatians to adopt the Jewish law is the equivalent of returning to their former pagan practices. Being “imprisoned and guarded under the law” (3:23), or being minors, means being “no better than slaves” (4:1). It is the same as being “enslaved to the elemental spirits of the world” (4:3). But there is no need for that, because the “date set by the father” has arrived!

“But when the fullness of time had come” (4:4) — at the end of one age and the beginning of another, at the time God deemed just right — “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children” (4:4-5).

God’s sending of his Son ends the reign of the law and inaugurates a new age (cf. 3:25). The Son is “born of a woman,” fully human, and “born under the law.” The latter phrase might be seen to emphasize Jesus’ Jewish lineage, but in context it seems rather to identify him with all of humanity. Paul suggests that all that are born under the law in one form or another — whether the law of Moses or the law of the “elemental spirits.” Jesus is born under the law in order to redeem us who are under the law (cf. 3:13), “so that we might receive adoption as children.”

Here Paul shifts metaphors, from a child growing to maturity and receiving the inheritance at the time set by the father, to a child being adopted. Under Roman law, adopted children had the same legal status and inheritance rights as biological children. It is significant that Paul does not identify Jews with biological children and Gentiles with adopted children. Rather, he suggests that we are all adopted children. None of us have any prior claim on the father. Our adoption as God’s children is pure gift. Jesus alone is Son of God from birth, but he deigns to share his kinship and inheritance with us.

Paul continues: “And because you are children (huioi = sons), God sent has sent the Spirit of his Son (huios) into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!'” (4:6). The Spirit links us with God’s Son as fellow children of God, and enables us to call upon God with the same intimate language Jesus used (Mark 14:36; cf. Romans 8:15-17).

Our adoption as God’s children means that there is absolutely no reason to return to a life of slavery. In Christ we are children of God and full heirs with him to all that God has promised (4:7; cf. 3:18, 29).

Professor Hans Wiersma, Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN

For those who may have missed Mary’s feast day or any who are inclined to take this lesson as an opportunity for a meditation on Mary, feel free. After all, a church council meeting in Ephesus in 431 A.D.[1] considered this passage (and others) in its theological deliberations regarding Mary. The consensus reached by this Third Ecumenical Council was that Mary is properly called theotokos (Greek for “God-bearer”) rather than “merely” chrisotokos (“Christ-bearer”). In fact, you might offer a spell-binding sermon on the intricacies of the early Christological debates and how, in the fourth century, a bishop named Nestorius taught that Mary gave birth to the human Jesus but not to the divine logos, and how another bishop, Cyril, led the charge to keep the human and divine natures united within Mary’s womb. You could do that.

On the other hand, it is likely that the Apostle Paul did not have the fight against Nestorianism and the consensus regarding Christ’s “hypostatic union” in mind when he wrote “born of a woman.” In fact, when the entire passage is considered, we see that it is less about the relationship of Christ’s humanity and divinity, and more about the believer’s relationship with God through Christ.

In the previous chapter, Paul, preaching to those Galatian believers and explained that those “under the law” (that is, everyone) cannot receive the divine inheritance through obedience to the law. Instead, the law is like a task master or disciplinarian (Greek: paidagôgos). Under the law, we have no rights before God and, therefore, we are as slaves in God’s household (3:19-24). Then Paul begins to announce the promise. Now, that faith has come, we are no longer slaves serving a tough taskmaster (the law). Instead, we are God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus.

In chapter four, Paul is simply underscoring his main point. Christ has come in the flesh to free us from that old master (the law), making possible our adoption as members of God’s household–with all the benefits that go with it. It is no longer our relationship to the taskmaster (the law) that determines our situation in the divine household. Instead, it is our relationship to Christ (the rightful Son and heir) that determines our new status in the family. Consequently, as adopted sons and daughters, we do what children do (call their father Abba–“Daddy” for instance) and receive what children receive: blessing and inheritance.

The Galatians Problem & The Early Church

The church has long had problems with variant teachings, so many it makes tracing the beliefs rather difficult. It is only assumption that the Gospels were always orthodox teaching, as we do not have access to what the original doctrines/teachings may have been. In fact, from the earliest times we have recorded there is always a struggle with those who teach Jesus as a myth, even from the beginning, and what I would attest is the original teaching that was later perverted by Gentile rationalization. The excerpts below are from the earliest church fathers that are insistent that this passage MUST tie to the Virgin birth, largely because the birth event was such a large question; Paul doesn’t ever bother with it, nor does his Gospel emphasize an importance to a birth event. So what is important to understand is that all of the Early Church Fathers are using scriptures to back this Galatians passage that are not even circulating at the time of Paul’s writing. Assumed evidence is not evidence.

The Apostolic Father’s 

1. Those, therefore, who allege that He took nothing from the Virgin do greatly err, [since,] in order that they may cast away the inheritance of the flesh, they also reject the analogy [between Him and Adam]. For if the one [who sprang] from the earth had indeed formation and substance from both the hand and workmanship of God, but the other not from the hand and workmanship of God, then He who was made after the image and likeness of the former did not, in that case, preserve the analogy of man, and He must seem an inconsistent piece of work, not having wherewith He may show His wisdom. But this is to say, that He also appeared putatively as man when He was not man, and that He was made man while taking nothing from man. For if He did not receive the substance of flesh from a human being, He neither was made man nor the Son of man; and if He was not made what we were, He did no great thing in what He suffered and endured.

– Chapter XXII.—Christ assumed actual flesh, conceived and born of the Virgin. – Iraneus Adversus Haereses

This was written CE 180 – a little over a century later from Paul– and we still have this big polemic against rival sects that are still teaching he was not born of a woman in that sense. Iraneus errs in his argument and overlooks the fact that Mary is not even needed to account for the humanity of Jesus & he is citing the gospels, not Pauline letters. It is still accounted for in Paul’s letters by being “made” from the seed of David as seen in passages (Rom 1.3, 15.12, 9.5, 15.8)  in probable reference to popular Jewish thought.

2nd Samuel 7.12-14 “When your days are done, and you sleep with your fathers, I will raise up your sperm after you, which shall come from your belly, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build for me a house in my name, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son”

It is also worth noting again, that in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism G.W. Dennis notes on pg 126 of the Jewish legend of the demoness Igrath whom was believed to have collected semen from sleeping men, notably from David himself, and used it to beget rival kings. So even in Jewish legends previous using this idea to “make” other people is a known ideology.

The idea of Jesus being the “son of man” is not seen in Paul either. It is seen in Matthew 24 as a reference to Daniel 9.

2. But3569there are some who say that Jesus was merely a receptacle of Christ, upon whom the Christ, as a dove, descended from above, and that when He had declared the unnameable Father He entered into the Pleroma in an incomprehensible and invisible manner: for that He was not comprehended, not only by men, but not even by those powers and virtues which are in heaven, and that Jesus was the Son, but that3570 Christ was the Father, and the Father of Christ, God; while others say that He merely suffered in outward appearance, being naturally impassible. The Valentinians, again, maintain that the dispensational Jesus was the same who passed through Mary, upon whom that Saviour from the more exalted [region] descended, who was also termed Pan,3571 because He possessed the names (vocabula) of all those who had produced Him. – Iraneus  

3. But to what shifts you resort, in your attempt to rob the syllable ex (of)7211 of its proper force as a preposition, and to substitute another for it in a sense not found throughout the Holy Scriptures!  You say that He was born through7212 a virgin, notof7213 a virgin, and in a womb, not of a womb, because the angel in the dream said to Joseph, “That which is born in her” (not of her) “is of the Holy Ghost.”7214 But the fact is, if he had meant “of her,” he must have said “in her;” for that which was of her, was also in her. The angel’s expression, therefore, “in her,” has precisely the same meaning as the phrase “of her.” It is, however, a fortunate circumstance that Matthew also, when tracing down the Lord’s descent from Abraham to Mary, says, “Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Christ.”7215 But Paul, too, silences these critics7216 when he says, “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman.”7217 Does he mean through a woman, or in a woman? Nay more, for the sake of greater emphasis, he uses the word “made” rather than born, although the use of the latter expression would have been simpler.  But by saying “made,” he not only confirmed the statement, “The Word was made flesh,”7218 but he also asserted the reality of the flesh which was made of a virgin. We shall have also the support of the Psalms on this point, not the “Psalms” indeed of Valentinus the apostate, and heretic, and Platonist, but the Psalms of David, the most illustrious saint and well-known prophet. He sings to us of Christ, and through his voice Christ indeed also sang concerning Himself. Hear, then, Christ the Lord speaking to God the Father: “Thou art He that didst draw7219 me out of my mother’s womb.”7220  Tertullian CE 211 “On the Flesh of Christ”

This particular passage from Tertullian shows us how they are grappling with the grammar of the sentence, but more importantly is how he defends the passage to refer to a virgin birth – mainly because this passage had spurred a lot of debate even amongst the “orthodox” fathers by CE 200. Numerous sects had risen that had different views of this debate. Tertullian first uses Matthew 1.20 & 1.16 as the foundations for his exegesis on Gal 4 passage, referring to the encounter with the angel & forming an argument that relies on the idea that to be “of” something contends you must be from them – which again doesn’t have to be the case.  He uses John 1:14 to assert the humanity aspect Psalms 22:9 as a defense to the birth of Christ – which relies on pure pesher to interpret to that defense, not that is fallacious, for it is logically consistent, but is not a used passage for prophecy (that I have found) & is being used to fit the argument at hand. For example, Psalms 71:6 says the same thing, but these references are from the author which is why he states “I” or “my” in the passage.  It is also seen by how he calls out Valentinus for using a different Psalms for his own “heretical” pesher. He has to go outside of Pauline epistles because Paul creates the problem because of his epistles by his use of Greek here & the fight over what this verse actually means.

4. Let us now see whether the apostle withal observes the norm of this name in accordance with Genesis, attributing it to the sex; calling the virgin Mary a woman, just as Genesis (does) Eve.  For, writing to the Galatians, “God,” he says, “sent His own Son, made of a woman,”296 who, of course, is admitted to have been a virgin, albeit Hebion297297    [i.e., Ebion, founder of the Ebionites.] resist (that doctrine).  I recognize, too, the angel Gabriel as having been sent to “a virgin.”298  But when he is blessing her, it is “among women,” not among virgins, that he ranks her:  “Blessed (be) thou among women.”  The angel withal knew that even a virgin is called a woman. – Tertullian CE 205 “On the Veiling of Virgins”

Again Tertullian discussing the verse, and actually makes the reference to Eve that quite a few other scholars make & assert; however, again to get Mary into this he has to infer from Luke 1.26-27 to support his exegesis on the passage. The passage is problematic to a historical Jesus as the Greek & the argument Paul forms throughout the chapters renders a literal exegesis weak, as his intention is not even to relay information about the “birth” of Jesus from a literal standpoint or he would have included at least some additional information rather than 3 words to describe an event that in itself does not depict a human birth, but a divine manufacture.  Relying on an argument that the Holy Spirit is conceiving still requires passages that are later added – and given how highly problematic this passage was in the early church, up until the 5th century, I find it reasonable speculation, with probably cause, that later writers would definitely want to clarify ambiguous passages such as these that were a focus for theological debate.  Although again, this is highly speculative, although probable given the sequence of evidence & the appearance of characters/events in that sequence.

If Paul wasn’t actually trying to discuss a birth event here in Gal 4, assuming Paul did know of such an event, then he would expand on that event later in other passages when sharing his gospel account of Christ right?  One would think so, yet he is remarkably quiet on this account.  In 1 Cor we see what Paul establishes as a focus for his gospel message

1Corinthians 15:3 
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures


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.”

This passage indicates the first revelation of Christ that Paul had was the death/resurrection of Christ & that it was done according to the scriptures – although Paul never specifically defines the scriptures he is referring to – not a birth event nor does he reference a womanly birth event in other passages even when he does discuss Jesus being “made in human likeness” & “taking the form of a slave” as we see in Phil 2.6-11.  Paul clearly places no emphasis of the birth event of Christ, to Paul, it seems that the death/resurrection is the only important message in accordance with scriptures. We can’t say that Paul knew of the event from his council with Jerusalem either for Paul specifically states in Gal 2:6 that after his Damascus experience that he learned “nothing” from the 12 – and also oddly acts as if he only knows apostles, not disciples or a method of discipleship. Paul instead insists he relies upon the revelatory Jesus that appeared to him outside Damascus. The importance of the birth event doesn’t become a theological debate until after the writing of Paul when rival teachings need to be dealt with & the need to answer the onslaught of theological questions that will arise over the next few centuries.

Other support

Job 14:1 is also a good point to see this at work, if one is not willing to accept the use of “according to the flesh” in 4.23&4.29 as enough evidence: “A mortal man, born of a woman, few of days and full of trouble, comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last.” – The phrasing “born of a woman” is simply emphasizing humanity; Mt 11.11 can also be noted here. The important difference here though is the use of how Christ was “born” with the use of Genomenos (Phil 2.6-11 & Rom 1.3) instead of Paul’s preferred word for an actual human birth when he uses Gennao.


Galatians 4 is simply not a verse that attests to the historicity of Jesus. Not only does this fall in line with scholarly opinion on the verse, but when accounting for the different use of Greek it is clear that Paul is not  depicting a birth event as the rhetoric may lead one to assume. More importantly, the Greek used more specifically confirms the idea of a mythical Jesus being “made” from the seed of David, and there not being a birth event. This is corroborated by alternative stories of Jesus’ death & resurrection that leave out birth events (in the earliest redactions at any rate – which is also a sign that the text had to be modified to fit later standards) in the Ascension of Isaiah.


[1] That’s how long it took before official Orthodoxy was established. Although the comparison to conflict between the 5th & 1st – 2nd centuries are night & day with the 1st century having much more prevalent opponents.

The Prosperity Gospel

The Prosperity Gospel

This is going to be a rather short post, as I don’t feel this heresy is worth much exposure; however, I had a co-worker state that they adhered to the Prosperity Doctrine & that wealth is a sign of God’s favor/faith in God so I thought I would do a small rant on that. There isn’t much need for me to explain in my own words, as there are plenty of Christian scholars who summarize quite nicely.  Kate Bowler, a professor at Duke Divinity School, has a thorough book Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford University Press) that moves beyond conventional wisdom to tell a more complex story about the movement. Part history, part theological analysis, part sociology, part ethnographic study, Blessed explores how this movement came to be, analyzes its central teachings, traces its networks, and notes its appeal. So if you are seriously interested in the most scholarly account in recent years – that’s the source for you.

The prosperity gospel exerted tremendous influence on American religious life, in part, because its largest congregations captured a significant portion of the spiritual market share. In 2010, approximately 1,300 American churches gathered 2,000 or more weekly attenders, a distinction that earned them the title of “megachurch.” [1] Faith churches crowded the upper echelon of national megachurches, claiming a high concentration of America’s largest churches. Prosperity giants like Joel Osteen and T. D. Jakes led the first and eleventh largest churches, respectively, with Osteen’s Lakewood Church doubling the attendance of its nearest competitor. Thirty percent of country’s 50 14 biggest churches followed Faith teachings. One fifth of these contained more than 10,000 attenders. (Bowler, 2010)

The Faith movement’s place at the top gave it surprising reach. The sociologist Mark Chaves of the National Congregations Study demonstrated that roughly 45 percent of worshippers attended the largest 10 percent of churches. Since the 1970s, Americans have gravitated toward the biggest churches, placing more worshippers and financial donations in fewer houses of worship. The top 1 percent alone contained 15 percent of America’s churchgoers.[2] As seen in Table 1 below, prosperity megachurches dominated the upper tiers of megachurches nationally, with more than 60 percent of their congregations exceeding 5,000 members, as compared with 12 percent of all megachurches. The average prosperity church grew comparatively larger, granting it a hefty portion of the nation’s worshippers. As the smallest 50 percent of congregations drew only 11 percent of all American churchgoers, the majority of the resources were left to super-sized congregations.[3] With a combined annual income of seven billion dollars and vast electronic audiences, American megachurches rivaled seminaries, denominations, and religious publishers as a major influence in American religious life. Hence, when the Faith movement won the pulpits of many of America’s largest churches, it gained extraordinarily wide influence.

Table 1: Prosperity Megachurch Distribution by Size Compared to Megachurches Nationally.[4]
Number of Attendees Percentage of Prosperity Megachurches Percentage of All Megachurches
2,000-2,999 16.2 53.8
3,000-3,999 12.8 19.1
4,000-4,999 9.3 11.1
5,000-9,999 40.7 12.0
10,000 or more 21.0 4.00

So what are the core tenants to these teachings?

1) Positive Confession: The Theology of the Spoken Word (Rhematology), or thought actualization, is commonly known as positive confession. It stresses the inherent power of words and thoughts. Each person predestines his own future by what he says verbally and by how well he uses spiritual laws. As such, it is as if we live in a mechanistic universe instead of a personal one[5]

2) The Gospel of Health: Isaiah 53 is used to justify blanket coverage for the physical healing of every Christian who has enough faith. “…it is the plan of our Father God in His great love and His great mercy that no believer should ever be sick, that every believer should live his life full span down here on earth and that every believer should finally just fall asleep in Jesus”[6]. Hagin also denies having a headache for forty-five years, labeling such as “simply symptoms rather than any indication of a headache”.[7]

3) The Gospel of Wealth: A central tenet of the prosperity gospel is that God wills the financial prosperity of every Christian. If a believer lives in poverty, he/she is living outside God’s intended will. “You must realize that it is God’s will for you to prosper”.[8]

These are the core tenants of the Prosperity Gospel, basically propagating that wealth and health are a sign of God’s favor; at face-value that sounds nice, as obeying the one “true” god should be rewarding right? Wrong. Theologically speaking, this life is meaningless as far as material possessions go & health decays as time lapses by default. Not only does it go against the common logic behind most of scripture, but it is rather heretical in face of scripture.

1 Timothy 6: 3-10

Teach and urge these duties. Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.[c] Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that[d] we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

The Prosperity Gospel is so easily deemed heretical by anyone who can actually perform an educated, objective exegesis that even the Christian Research Institute came out in a public statement against it, also exposing more fundamental concepts to this kind of theology.

It is our considered opinion that this teaching, at least in its complete form as expressed by the above men, is at best extremely aberrational and at worse heretical. (We use the term “aberrational” to refer to teaching which is decidedly unbiblical and damaging to authentic Christian faith, but which is not quite so heretical that its adherents must be considered non-Christians.) CRI has attempted to meet with these men and dialogue with them concerning their teachings, but most of them have refused. We were able, however, to meet with some of them and discuss a few of our concerns. We are continuing our efforts to engage these men in dialogue.

In brief, the teachings of these men may be summarized as follows: God created man in “God’s class” (or, as “little gods”), with the potential to exercise the “God kind of faith” in calling things into existence and living in prosperity and success as sovereign beings. We forfeited this opportunity, however, by rebelling against God in the Garden and taking upon ourselves Satan’s nature. To correct this situation, Jesus Christ became a man, died spiritually (thus taking upon Himself Satan’s nature), went to Hell, was “born again,” rose from the dead with God’s nature again, and then sent the Holy Spirit so that the Incarnation could be duplicated in believers, thus fulfilling their calling to be little gods. Since we are called to experience this kind of life now, we should be successful in every area of our lives. To be in debt, then, or be sick, or (as is often taught) be left by one’s spouse, and not to have these problems solved by “claiming” God’s promises, shows a lack of faith.  While certain aspects of the above doctrine may vary from teacher to teacher, the general outline remains the same in each case.[9]

Simple Problems for the Prosperity Gospel

Honestly, the teaching is so easily refuted it can be thwarted without complicated logic. Firstly, the theology does not address non-believers who are successful/healthy; this would be problematic considering a large majority of the world’s 1% are liberals, if not out-right nonbelievers. Hollywood needs an explanation as to its success! Disciples are called to leave all their possessions in Luke so that goes against prosperity.   The Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount also go against the mindset that the Prosperity Gospel maintains – as Jesus describes virtuous life traits as a means to be rewarded, not “seed” faith.  Job is a rather old school example that God blesses, as he was rich with much livestock & family, and God also destroys everything you love – a rather contradictory story of faith, but good in symbolizing that wealth is not correlated to faith/favor for if it was, Job’s wealth would not have been effected for he was still in favor with God while being tested.

On to the ethical aspect of this whole thing; after seeing the astounding number of people that follow these teachings it seems like a real scam to know there are millions giving money they probably don’t even have in order to reap the prosperity of their “seed” faith.  This gross abuse of human willingness to hope in things needs to be exposed, and reduced in its influence; as usual I feel lack of education among the religious, in particularly education to theology. It is typically the ignorant masses that are taken advantage of, and it is becoming rather difficult to sympathize with individuals who choose to be so easily taken advantage of by such an avoidable belief system.


Lastly, I leave you with an amazing video that not only does a fantastic job at targeting the Prosperity Gospel, but also another topic I hope to one day discuss – Tax Exemption among Religious Entities. John Oliver does a solid job destroying these religious scumbags and is pretty hilarious. I highly recommend the watch if you have not seen it.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Televangelists


[1] Mark Chaves, Congregations in America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 17–21.

[2] Thumma and Davis, Beyond Megachurch Myths, 5–6

[3] The total number of prosperity megachurches was meager in comparison with the total of megachurches (and the 335,000 of all American congregations). Thumma and Travis, Beyond Megachurch Myths, 2.

[4] All national megachurch data used for comparison drawn from Thumma and Travis, Beyond Megachurch Myths, 8 (see Table 1.2).

[5] See, Kenneth Copeland, Laws of Prosperity, p. 15; Charles Capps, The Tongue A Creative Force, pp. 117-118; Releasing the Ability of God, pp. 98-99, 101-104.

[6] Hagin, Seven Things You Should Know About Divine Healing, p. 21

[7] In the Name of Jesus, p. 44

[8] (Copeland, Laws of Prosperity, p. 51).– Source: Word-Faith Movement, “Other Doctrines,” a Watchman Fellowship profile

1st Edition, Copyright March 1991, Christian Research Institute INTRODUCTION by Robert M. Bowman, Jr.

Christianity & the Anti-Science Agenda

We live at a disturbing time in history as Americans. The last 100 years we have been the largest country of scientific advancement and literacy, providing a productive environment of education, creativity, and technological advancement; however, the last 50 years has seen a decline in the American literacy of scientific understanding, as well as educational superiority in whole. Although America still dominates the output of journal articles, the last two decades has seen a drop in the rate of growth in comparison to other countries. Most Americans turn their attention to the educational system, deeming public education flawed or needing change; I have a different view that religious belief systems, specifically Christianity, has done far more damage intellectually to its body of believers than it has helped.

Religion and Science as competitive adversaries go back farther than most people place it, most focusing on the middle ages, and the two have rather always been at odds in accordance to the Church; however, the early Christian Church was also highly anti-science from the start which we see in Augustine and other church fathers who demanded a theological science derived only from scripture. Andrew Dickson White’s History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendomwhich details early church father’s issues and problems with adapting theology to a physical understanding & science at the time; John Draper also writes a pretty heavy polemic against the Church in his Conflict between Religion and Science.  Today’s views between science and religions is still at odds – although as a global scale, Christianity, or Catholicism anyways, has been more willing to concede to scientific understandings the last 50 years, specifically conforming to a Theistic Evolution – only took 100 years of scholarly shame to get there. Although science has had the church conform on some issues, there are still a host of other issues that are cause for alarm, but more importantly even with a somewhat-concession to modern understanding by mainstream Christianity has not been without controversy within its own belief system. Fundamentalist Christians still aggressively pervert or reject scientific understanding as we know it today, but why?

Inerrancy is a commonly held belief by most Fundamentalist Christians. Unfortunately, this belief of inerrancy puts any who take this position as, essentially, screaming at the top of their lungs that their current view will have no errors or contradictory elements. By the very core of this belief there is no objectivity, but an automatic authoritative sub-text that anything outside said text that may be interpreted to contradict is directly opposed; this of course is heightened by Christians who believe that any doubt is wrong or confusion towards theology is of the devil.  It are the psychological defenses against new information, especially potentially conflicting information, that causes willful ignorance within Church members. The stereotype threat is something that drastically lowers the willingness for a Christian to engage in being scientifically literate; most in today’s society are familiar with the stereotype that the conservative religious are poor performers of scientific literacy, including those who are conservatively religious.

Example Study 1 – Abstract


This study examines how commitment to sectarian Protestant religious groups and fundamentalist beliefs in the inerrancy of the Bible influence basic scientific literacy.


I analyze data from the 2006 General Social Survey (N = 1,780), which included a 13-point examination of scientific facts and reasoning. Ordinary least squares regression models are estimated to determine the impact of religious affiliations and beliefs net of other control variables such as race, gender, education, income, region, and rural residence.


Analyses show that sectarian Protestants, Catholics, and people with fundamentalist beliefs in the inerrancy of the Bible have significantly lower levels of scientific literacy when compared with secular Americans. Religious differences are identifiable in multivariate analyses controlling for other demographic factors.


Religion plays a sizeable role in the low levels of scientific literacy found in the United States, and the negative impact of religious factors is more substantial than gender, race, or income.

Study Two: Rios Cheng Trotton Shariff

The studies do an excellent job at examining religious belief systems and the reactions to expected behavior.  Coming from a highly evangelical background, I can safely attest to the accuracy of the findings. In fact, it isn’t really the science that largely contradicts doctrines, but the interpretation of scripture and refusal to reexamine that theological interpretation that is the problem.  Young Earth Creationists such as Ken Ham are a perfect example of this – the whole body of mainstream Christianity no longer follows the doctrine, only inerrants. Why? Because their belief system cannot lend credence to outside authority, the focus is so heavily on opposing external things that internal considerations are never made. An example for the latter would be Theistic Evolution that has at least taken an understanding of scientific evolution, and perverted it to somewhat adapt to their belief with God creating the ancestral human that we derive from today. This is at least a positive step towards garnering understanding in the body of believers.  Changing traditional theological beliefs within the church is almost impossible though;  this again goes back to the mechanisms that keep objectivity from being held, but I did not mention the flaws of group think that prey upon the church. The formation of both beliefs and disbeliefs are pieced together over time through exchanges with in-group members, learning arguments and thoughts that confirm to your existing ideology that are given credence to because it supports the existing belief – thus why we have multiple denominations people theologically identify to. The same goes for opposing beliefs; being a part of a certain in-group means you also understand the beliefs that are directly opposed as well as a direct understanding of in-group views/attitudes towards out-group members. This understanding is critical, as this provides another reason to never question one’s beliefs and maintain willful ignorance in the face of alternative explanations.

Within Christianity though, there does exist a large number of individuals who recognize this problem; however, the individuals I reference again have created a solution that does more to promote scientific confusion than producing an actual scientific understanding. Intelligent  Design is a belief system that is now commonly held by most moderate Christians who recognize the need to have some sense of modernized faith in light of scientific progress the last 150 years; however, at it’s core is still a theological belief that has no bearing in science, but rather it enjoys the position of simply interpreting science to support their Biblical exegesis/theology. Is ID a science? I suppose there are minimal thought experiments one could attempt to create for logical validity, but as far as empirical data to be collected or observed there are no experiments to create; however, I will concede that there are interesting views outside the mainstream norm of Intelligent Design; however, I will not discuss those in detail today.

Proponents of ID are encapsulated by the idea of this existence being chaos, and results of random events; this world-view makes sense as the natural world in the eyes of a Christian would demand such a view for it is God that brings order, peace, and design to the natural world in the Bible (1 Cor 14:33). This view however, is in contradiction to biological understanding of evolutionary mechanisms. Because natural selection can produce amazing adaptations, it’s tempting to think of it as an all-powerful force, urging organisms on, constantly pushing them in the direction of progress — but this is not what natural selection is like at all.

First, natural selection is not all-powerful; it does not produce perfection. If your genes are “good enough,” you’ll get some offspring into the next generation — you don’t have to be perfect. This should be pretty clear just by looking at the populations around us: people may have genes for genetic diseases, plants may not have the genes to survive a drought, a predator may not be quite fast enough to catch her prey every time she is hungry. No population or organism is perfectly adapted.

Second, it’s more accurate to think of natural selection as a process rather than as a guiding hand. Natural selection is the simple result of variation, differential reproduction, and heredity — it is mindless and mechanistic. It has no goals; it’s not striving to produce “progress” or a balanced ecosystem.

This is why “need,” “try,” and “want” are not very accurate words when it comes to explaining evolution. The population or individual does not “want” or “try” to evolve, and natural selection cannot try to supply what an organism “needs.” Natural selection just selects among whatever variations exist in the population. The result is evolution.

At the opposite end of the scale, natural selection is sometimes interpreted as a random process. This is also a misconception. The genetic variation that occurs in a population because of mutation is random [Unpredictable in some way. Mutations are “random” in the sense that the sort of mutation that occurs cannot generally be predicted based upon the needs of the organism. However, this does not imply that all mutations are equally likely to occur or that mutations happen without any physical cause. Indeed, some regions of the genome are more likely to sustain mutations than others, and various physical causes (e.g., radiation) are known to cause particular types of mutations.] — but selection acts on that variation in a very non-random way: genetic variants that aid survival and reproduction are much more likely to become common than variants that don’t. Natural selection is NOT random!

Back to topic, the anti-science agenda of Christianity stems largely from psychological defense mechanisms, and a lack of authentic understanding towards science – rather the problem lies in a rejection as a whole or biased interpretations that pervert science. A final perversion of science is the thought that science is often wrong; however, the peer review process, although certainly with flaws, has provided the greatest attempt thus far in human history to create an objective process of understanding information/scholarly debate. The self-policing of this system has been under attack for being both easy to pass by, and having too many retractions to garner credibility; however, these are unfair. As far as manipulation to bypass a system goes, any system is subject to being compromised; it depends on the process in which the peer review is going through, but what I would consider the most authentic (open peer review) has too many sociological concerns to have gathered any mainstream support. Turning attention to the retraction argument – I have often heard this one quoted. “Well there were …… papers retracted last year, how is that possibly a good system with so many needing retracted in the first place?”

Well, a substantial increase in the rate of retracted scientific articles has been observed. The present study analyzed several hypotheses that might account for this increase, with an emphasis on the time interval between publication and retraction. Evidence supports contributions from the following factors:

  • The rate of publication has increased, with a concomitant increase in the rate of retraction.
  • Editors are retracting articles significantly faster now than in the past.
  • The reasons for retraction have expanded to include plagiarism and duplicate publication.
  • Journals are reaching further back in time to retract flawed work.
  • There has been an increase in the number and proportion of retractions by authors with a single retraction.
  • Discovery of fraud by an author prompts reevaluation of an author’s entire body of work.
  • Greater scrutiny of high-profile publications has had a modest impact on retractions

I want to conclude with the thought that science and religion do not necessarily have to compete; it simply depends on how bold the religious ideology is attempting to be. Attempting to make supernatural claims that are testable within natural reality are open for critique! I grew up without any chance of having a pro-science mindset, being taught to bring evolution books home so my parents could object that the school had them. Or having Kent Hovind come to my private Christian school I attended to further indoctrinate our minds with a science-like appeal with unscientific information. It was only natural I grew up hostile to mainstream science, as I had all the defense mechanisms I discussed implanted within me. Outside sources weren’t inspired by God to me, so why would I waste my time reading them? – Sure science had ideas, but it couldn’t explain everything like my Bible; even when I did look into evolution at 16 and started leaning to adapt Theistic evolution I was worried how my parents would take it, as well as my youth group. It wasn’t until becoming an Atheist that I was able to finally objectively fit theology to modern science and appreciate the non-Fundamentalist approach.

See more:

Group-Think UnderGrad Thesis

How Your Church Family Works: Understanding Congregations as Emotional Systems (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 1996), Peter Steinke gives

Measuring science or religion? A measurement analysis of the National Science Foundation sponsored science literacy scale 2006–2010 J Micah Roos University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

The Apostle Paul – Starting Point for Examination

Paul is undoubtedly one of the most vital pieces to the Christian faith; his travels alone account for the widest spread of the Gospel within early Christianity. He is most important because his writings are the first piece of historical evidence that is encountered by scholars; these writings give us a glimpse into the original teachings of Christianity. Out of all the potential writings within the New Testament to point out, only the letters of Paul are referred to so directly within the Bible itself as a difficult passage to exegesis that readers must approach with diligent care — with fear and trembling even (2 Pet 3:14–18). In fact, difficulties in interpreting Paul’s thought and teaching arose even before the writing of 2 Peter. Paul himself had to correct the understanding of an early letter to the church in Corinth (1 Cor 5:9–13). Indeed, the history of the interpretation of Paul is a history of conflict. We see the rise of competitive doctrines, noted in 2 Peter 1:16, where this specific passage addresses the rival doctrine that Jesus was not a historical man, but a myth. Paul’s teachings are littered with ambiguous passages that pose a real problem to theology if taken objectively, and it is the teachings of Paul and their controversy that I want to go through, continually building off of this to the final conclusion: Paul teaches a non-earthly Jesus in his writings by which anyone has only ever known via revelation.

The Epistles of Paul

I’m not going to spend time going through the history of research that led us to the current consensus today, but the consensus currently holds 7 letters undisputed to be authentically written by Paul:

First Thessalonians (ca. 50 AD)
Galatians (ca. 53 AD)
First Corinthians (ca. 53–54 AD)
Philippians (ca. 55 AD)
Philemon (ca. 55 AD)
Second Corinthians (ca. 55–56 AD)
Romans (ca. 57 AD)

The letters thought to be pseudepigraphic by most scholar (roughly 80% last research article I saw):

First Timothy
Second Timothy

The letters on which scholars are about evenly divided (roughly 60%):

Second Thessalonians

It is important to note that although the authorship is not disputed, dating is a whole other matter. The only real belief I hold worth noting is my stance on Galatians, which is North Galatians Theory – I find South Theory to have too much reliance on the “geographic” implausibility.  It is the 7 undisputed letters that I will turn my attention to, as disputed letters have no method to extract truths from – the substance is too muddied with forgery/interpolations.

Oddities of Paul

There are several topics that are worth covering when discussing the oddities of Paul; some of them are theological, while others are grammatical. One of the most important aspects when examining Paul’s writings is to not use the influence or knowledge from the four Gospels, as these are later dated and show very little correspondence to the style or content of message.  One of the most peculiar oddities I find that most Christians pay no part to is the fact that the word Disciple is not mentioned at all by Paul, nor did he seem to understand discipleship, but rather Apostleship.  Most individuals would not distinguish the difference here in semantic meaning; however, the differences do have important meanings to interpretation. Discipleship denotes being a student of a mentor or teacher, it denotes direct learning under someone – face to face in the Gospels, where it only appears; Apostleship denotes being an ambassador or messenger, it does not require learning under a mentor or teacher, but spreading what is “revealed” to you as Paul does throughout his ministry. Other oddities include a lack of true historicity of Jesus whenever He is mentioned; in fact, the passages are oddly ambiguous. What’s more is the perhaps the most odd thing is the fact of the major differences between the little information about Jesus in Paul, and the vast information – sometimes posing issues – we have in the Gospels in regards to the same man, except 30 years later.

What is the gospel of Paul?

As a stand-alone author, Paul is an apostle through his revelation of Christ outside Damascus. He then immediately goes to Arabia spreading these revelations of Christ that he has seen.  In Paul’s gospel, Jesus is a celestial entity that he only seems to know through revelation; out of the few instances that Paul actually describes the gospel he preaches he does not discuss a birth event, a ministry, or Jesus visiting any geographical location that would identify him to history.

Galatians 1:11-24

11 Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. 12 For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

13 For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it, 14 and progressed in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my race, since I was even more a zealot for my ancestral traditions. 15 But when [God], who from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; rather, I went into Arabia and then returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days. 19 But I did not see any other of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord20 (As to what I am writing to you, behold, before God, I am not lying.) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was unknown personally to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; 23 they only kept hearing that “the one who once was persecuting us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 So they glorified God because of me.

Note Paul confirms he is preaching by revelation alone, which he has to in order to validate apostleship; most Christians are also unaware of the discrepancy here and in Acts of the accounts of Paul’s missionary journeys, but that is a separate topic in itself for when discussing the historicity of Acts.

In reference to Brothers of the Lord (or the Lord’s Brother)there are only two instances in Paul’s writings where anyone could claim the possibility of sibling for Jesus – odd if he was taking the time to write about an Earthly Jesus that had family to talk about.  We know that Christians are all brothers and sisters of the lord (Rom 1:4), and that Jesus was the “first born among many brethren” (Rom 8.29).  In fact, it is customary even in the OT for the children of God to call each other brothers. Lot is called Abraham’s brother in Gen 14:14 even though he is the son of Haran; Jacob is called “Brother” of his uncle Laban (Gen 29:15) – so we do see this occurring previously. Paul uses “brothers of the lord” in two references. 1 Cor 9:3 & Gal 1:19. Also, for the writer to not know to distinguish brother in the flesh from a potential Christian would be unusual.  It is logically valid to go with previous usage of the phrase in such cases. Paul’s use of “before God, I do not lie” shows us just how genuine and assertive he was trying to proclaim his message that he did not confer with anyone & the gospel was not his gospel, but from revelation.

This passage indicates the first important revelation of Christ that Paul had was the death/resurrection of Christ & that it was done according to the scriptures – although Paul never specifically defines the scriptures he is referring to – not a birth event nor does he reference a womanly birth event in other passages even when he does discuss Jesus being “made in human likeness” & “taking the form of a slave” as we see in Phil 2.6-11.  Paul clearly places no emphasis of the birth event of Christ, to Paul, it seems that the death/resurrection is the only important message in accordance with scriptures. Christian pesher has always been a means of theological creation so we will examine OT passages that could possibly provide a source of ideology. Again Paul is receiving it via revelation rather than human testimony.
Philippians 2:5-11

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God,did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slavebeing born in human likeness. And being found in human form,  he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In this passage we see Paul attest to the divine manufacturing of Jesus, with no mention of a birth event.  The Greek use for “born” is Genomenos (To happen, to become, arise) which Paul always uses in reference to a manufacturing & specifically uses that Greek when discussing the nature of Christ’s incarnation.

Romans 15

For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

This is just to show that revelation wasn’t the only inspiration Paul had, as he apparently did use pesher in his teachings.

1 Corinthians 11:23-25

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[b] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 

Even the Eucharist could be a revelation, as that is Paul’s main source of information; nor does Paul actually identify disciples, a location, or anything that can establish authentic historicity. What’s more interesting here is the parallel to the Inanna cult that predates most religious ideologies in general (1700BCE easy)  who is depicted as a daughter of god that descends into hell is killed then strung up on a wall for punishment (same concept as a crucifixion) & is given food & drink to be revived & then ascends to heaven. Most translations read “betrayed”, but the word paradidomi means “hand over, to deliver” so to imply a Judas narrative as most Christians do presupposes information that is not written at this point & is not necessary to explain the passage in context.

Paul uses “delivered up” in the following:

Rom 4:24-25 ‘God delivered him up’
Rom 8:32 ‘he delivered himself’
Gal 2:20 ‘ gave himself’
1st Cor 5:5 ‘delivered up’

What Paul DOES say about the incarnation of Christ

Apart from the fact that Paul never mentions a ministry, miracles, or disciples, Paul never names a parent Jesus nor a home town. Rom 1:3 says Jesus was made from the “seed of David” according to the flesh in contradistinction to Jesus being “declared the Son of God in power, according to the spirit”, in the one case referencing his incarnation (Phil 2:5), in the other his resurrection (Phil 2:9).  Phil 2:6-11 portrays the act as a divine construction; no mention on childhood, birth, or parents. Paul uses the word Genomenos (from ginomai), meaning “to happen, become” – Paul never uses that word when discussing human birth despite using it multiple other times typically to mean “becoming” – Paul’s preferred word for being born is gennao. Another notable reason to assert the reference means to become is found in 1 Cor 15:45 where Paul says Adam “was made”, using ginomai, when in reference to our heavenly bodies that have been made by God. This is also seen in the most ambiguous passage in Gal 4:4 & 4:23 in Paul’s rhetorical argument for heirship/law/enslavement.

Using scripture to see that there are cosmic copies of everything, that Jewish legend does tell of sperm of David being used, and the sperm of Abraham parallel; it becomes a far more probable interpretation with the evidence of Paul that Jesus was manufactured rather than born; this would explain why Mark does not know of a birth either, and is attested to external writings that do not depict Jesus being born on earth. Also, that there are later interpolations that do add such events, such as in the Ascension of Isaiah’s redaction, again points to the fact that after a change of theology documents needed to reflect this.

When we add the gospels to Paul’s story we see a totally different version of Christ – assuming the gospels are read as a literal history – although the oldest believed gospel, Mark, still doesn’t include a birth narrative which I find odd. At any rate, the gospels simply do not parallel with Paul, although that is not to say they contradict; except Acts, which does contradict & create a problem with Galatians, but that is a whole different matter for a different time.  Sadly, we have no authentic manuscripts dating back to this time in history so we can’t know exactly what theological disputes or ideologies were in circulation, but we do have glimpses into things starting at the beginning of the 2nd century with the Apostolic fathers, and their struggles with rival sects.  We also do get to see some of the developments and disputes within what we have of the Biblical text, but often these are just reprimands from Paul to the churches on specific teachings in clarification rather than in regards to an actual rival church; however, we are privileged enough to find

In Galatians 3:26-4:29 every Christian comes from “the sperm of Abraham” by spiritual adoption; Jesus could have been understood to come from “the sperm of david” in a similar way; Paul even uses the same phrase in his discussion of allegorical heritage when using kata sarka, “according to the flesh”, Gal 4:23,29 that he uses in Romans 1:3

  • Verenna Born Under The Law pp 152-155
  • Doherty, Jesus: Neither God nor Man pp 167-72

It is worth noting that this also took place in Jewish legend; the demoness Igrath was believed to collect Semen from sleeping men, and once did so from David himself, using sperm to beget rival kings:

  • GW Dennis, Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism p 126

2nd Samuel 7:12-14 shows this link as well – with pesher it is easy to conceive where these ideologies could have derived from.

“I will raise up your sperm after you, which shall come from your belly, and will establish his kingdom. He will build for me a house in my name, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will by my son.”

Paul’s Descriptions of Jesus

Paul’s does provide us with descriptions of the Jesus he has been revealed, and the roles/functions/identities that he assumes as well. This is interesting, as after we examine the following descriptions we will examine possible sources.

Firstborn son of God (Romans 8:29)
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.[1]
Celestial Image of God (2nd Corinthians 4:4)
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of GodFor what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants[b] for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

God’s agent of creation ( 1st Corinthians 8:6)[2]
yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

[1] This is a morphic passage. Jesus is morphing into another entity, the popular thought pre-existing as seen prior in Philo’s work as the son who “imitates the father through his archetypal patterns”
This first born among many brethren is also important to denote the fact that this represents another testament to the fact every one of us are sons of god and Christ is the first born, meaning we are brothers of the lord; a popular phrase used by Paul to denote fellow Christians. Not once does he ever distinguish a family type brother; there is no according to the flesh or sense that the author feels there should be a discernment.

[2] The use of through denotes agency; likewise from requires a preceding departure. Thus Jesus is god’s agent of creation. It is also important to note that angels are often agents of God throughout the OT.

Philo of Alexandria (20AD)

James C. VanderKam writes: “Although many of Philo’s writings have survived, little is konwn about his life. We do not even know when he was born or when he died. The few facts about his life come from occasional hints in his own books and a small number of external references (e.g., Josephus mentions him). His brother Alexander held the position of alabarch, apparently a high office that involved supervising the collection of revenues, and was so wealthy that King Agrippa I often borrowed money from him. A clear implication is that Philo belonged to an extremely prominent family in the large Jewish community at Alexandria. Philo’s nephew Tiberius Julius Alexander, Alexander’s son, abandoned his ancestral religion, became the Roman procurator in Judea in 46-48 CE, and played an important role for the Romans in their suppression of the Jewish revolt of 66-70 CE—another indication of the status enjoyed by the people in Philo’s family. Josephus considered him prominent in every way and skilled in philosophy.” (An Introduction to Early Judaism, p. 138) If anyone had influence over a sect at the time it would have been Philo. Alexandria is the largest source of knowledge in antiquity until being sacked and destroyed.

Philo references Jesus as an angelic figure (Using Zachariah 3&6) & shares common descriptions of this angelic figure with Paul’s descriptions of Jesus throughout the NT. Philo provides a great understanding of teachings existent within the Jewish circles just as Christianity is coming into the scene.

(62) I have also heard of one of the companions of Moses having uttered such a speech as this: “Behold, a man whose name is the East!”{18}{#zec 6:12.}[1] A very novel appellation indeed, if you consider it as spoken of a man who is compounded of body and soul; but if you look upon it as applied to that incorporeal being who in no respect differs from the divine image, you will then agree that the name of the east has been given to him with great felicity. (63) For the Father of the universe has caused him to spring up as the eldest son, whom, in another passage, he calls the firstborn; and he who is thus born, imitating the ways of his father, has formed such and such species, looking to his archetypal patterns.

(145) but they who have real knowledge, are properly addressed as the sons of the one God, as Moses also entitles them, where he says, “Ye are the sons of the Lord God.”{41}{#de 14:1.} And again, “God who begot Thee;”{42}{#de 32:18.} and in another place, “Is not he thy father?” Accordingly, it is natural for those who have this disposition of soul to look upon nothing as beautiful except what is good, which is the citadel erected by those who are experienced in this kind of warfare as a defence against the end of pleasure, and as a means of defeating and destroying it. (146) And even if there be not as yet anyone who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word, and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel. (147) For which reason I was induced a little while ago to praise the principles of those who said, “We are all one man’s Sons.”{43}{#Gen 42:11.} [2]

– Philo, “On the Confusion of Tongues,” (62-63,145-147)

(1.214) The sacred scripture has appointed that the great High Priest, when he was about to perform the ministrations appointed by the law, should be besprinkled with water and ashes in the first place, that he might come to a remembrance of himself. For the wise Abraham also, when he went forth to converse with God, pronounced himself to be dust and ashes. In the second place, it enjoins him to put on a tunic reaching down to his feet, and the variously embroidered thing which was called his breastplate, an image and representation of the light-giving stars which appear in heaven. (1.215) For there are, as it seems, two temples belonging to God; one being this world, in which the high priest is the divine word, his own firstborn son. The other is the rational soul, the priest of which is the real true man, the copy of whom, perceptible to the senses, is he who performs his paternal vows and sacrifices, to whom it is enjoined to put on the aforesaid tunic, the representation of the universal heaven, in order that the world may join with the man in offering sacrifice, and that the man may likewise co-operate with the universe. 
– Philo, “On Dreams,” 1.214-15

How did a transcendent God communicate with the world? According to Philo, “Logos” – Greek for “word” or “reason”– equated to divine reason. The Logos or Word emanated from the ineffable God and communicated with his creations. Thus it was the Logos that spoke to Moses from the burning bush, and it was the Logos that infused the righteous High Priest. When one experienced religious ecstasy it was because the Logos had entered one’s own soul.

Philo defined the curious nature of God’s intermediary thus:

“And the Father who created the universe has given to his archangelic and most ancient Word a pre-eminent gift, to stand on the confines of both, and separated that which had been created from the Creator.And this same Word is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race, which is exposed to affliction and misery; and is also the ambassador, sent by the Ruler of all, to the subject race.

And the Word rejoices in the gift, and, exulting in it, announces it and boasts of it, saying, ‘And I stood in the midst, between the Lord and You; neither being uncreated as God, nor yet created as you, but being in the midst between these two extremities … For I will proclaim peaceful intelligence to the creation from him who has determined to destroy wars, namely God, who is ever the guardian of peace.’ “– Philo, Who is the Heir of Divine Things? 42.205-6.

[1] The fact that a reference to Moses & a Zechariah 6 scripture that he interprets & describes as the description that Paul gives of us of Jesus as we will see.
“caused him to spring up”
he who is thus born – how was he born?
“Imitating the ways of his father, has formed such and such species, looking into archetypal patterns.” – This shows the angelomorphic belief as shown in the Asc Is.

[2] Apart from the obvious importance of the references bolded or underlined, the reference to Gen 42:11 is even more allegorical as it is the story of Joseph not being recognized by his brothers when he came before them; the ascension references this similar thought. Even more striking is the fact the Joseph could be seen allegorical in the fact that he was the Beloved son of Jacob who was handed over as a slave & then rises to power from his servitude.


Given the last pieces presented; I think that is a good stopping point for now. There are obvious parallels between Paul & Philo, and the most interesting aspect is that Philo would have predated Paul with his teachings and ideologies. It seems highly probable to me, seeing that Philo was an important Jewish figure, had influence over someone like Paul who was at some point zealous for Jewish faith. Who better to idolize than one of the most influential Jews of the Roman empire at the time?   It is not just the parallels of Philo, but without Philo the lack of corroboration between the Gospels and Paul is strikingly problematic in the chain of sequence.  Paul simply does not give us enough details to ascertain for a fact that he knew of an earthly Jesus, as he only interacts with a celestial deity that is known only by revelation or scripture.  It is from this starting point that we will move forward and into deeper issues in regards to Early Christianity.

The Great Disappointment – Is Christ Coming Again?

Today in 1844 the return of Christ was predicted by a group of believers. It has been over 2000 years since the first great Christian theologian and apostle, Paul, counted down the days until the return of the Lord, and many others have preceded him. First let’s examine the Biblical account of the Second coming in sequential order.  First we have Paul’s writings, and we don’t get much discussion of a return in regards to specifics; the accounts of Paul parallel closest to Matthew, who happens to hold the most informed Jewish traditions of the Gospels. What is interesting about second coming teachings is the variation of adhered doctrines centered around them.  For example, not many Christians I have encountered are aware of the New Testament’s push for alternative sleep cycles for Christians so they won’t be asleep when Jesus comes – Mark specifically warns of sleeping. This is an oddity that isn’t much discussed, among others.


There   are  four  passages  in  1 and  2 Thessalonians  dealing  with the second  coming  of  Christ:   1 Thess.   4:13-18;   1 Thess.   5:1-11;  2 Thess. 1:3-12;  and   2  Thess.   2:1-12.   The   first  passage   is  introduced    by  the words,  “We do not want you to be ignorant,   brothers”   (1 Thess.  4:13), an expression    frequently    used   by  Paul   to  introduce    teaching   which   he wishes to emphasize   (cf. Rom.  1: 13; 1 Cor.  10: 1; 1 Cor.  12: 1; 2 Cor.  1:8). It concludes   with  an  exhortation    to encourage    one  another   with  these words    (1 Thess.    4: 18).   The    second    passage    begins    with   “Now concerning”    (1 Thess.   5: 1) and  also  concludes   with  an  exhortation    to encourage   one another   (1 Thess.  5: 11). The  third  passage  is in the  form of a thanksgiving  to God (which normally  follows the salutation   in Paul’s letters)   and  it concludes   with  a  prayer   that  the  Thessalonians   may  be counted   worthy  of God’s  calling  (2 Thess.   1:11-12). The  fourth   passage begins  “Now  we ask you, brothers,   concerning   …” (2 Thess.  2: 1) and  is followed   by thanksgiving  for  their  election   by God  (2 Thess.   2:13-14) and  a prayer   for  encouragement   (2 Thess.   2: 16-17).

After     assuring      the    Thessalonian      Christians       that    Christ’s resurrection    is the  guarantee   that  those  who  have  died  in Christ  will be raised   from   the   dead   when   he  comes   again   (1  Thess.   4:14),   Paul introduces   his teaching  with regard   to the second  coming  by the solemn statement,   “This  we say to you by the word  of the Lord”  (1 Thess.  4:15). Since  Paul  characteristically  refers   to Jesus   as “the  Lord”  (cf.  1 Thess. 1:1,3;  2:15,19;   3:11,13;   4:1; 5:9), he means  to say here  that the basis of his teaching   about  the  second  coming  is jesus’   own  word  (cf, the  NIV, “according   to the  Lord’s  own  word”).

A similar  expression   is used  in  1 Corinthians   7: 10, where  in giving instruction    regarding    divorce   Paul  appeals   to jesus’   teaching   on  the subject:  “To  the  married   I give this command   (not  I, but  the  Lord):  A wife must  not  separate   from  her  husband.”  In the  next  paragraph  Paul says: “To  the  rest  I say this (I, not the  Lord)”  (1 Cor.  7: 12). The  obvious meaning here  is that  Paul does not have any explicit  teaching by Jesus  on the   matter   of  the   desertion  of  a  Christian  wife  or  husband    by  an unbelieving mate,  as he had  on the  matter  of divorce  in general.  Again, with regard   to “virgins” Paul says: “I have  no command from  the  Lord” (1  Cor.  7:25),  meaning  that   he  has  no  explicit  command  from  Jesus governing  this  particular  situation.  It is interesting  that  the  Synoptic Gospels  include   the  teaching of Jesus  against  divorce  (Mt.  5:32;  19:9; Mk.  10:11-12; Lk.  16:18), but  they do not include  any teaching of Jesus regarding  the  specific  matters   which  the  Corinthians  had  asked  about and  concerning which Paul gives his advice in 1 Corinthians 7: 12-16 and 25-38.

‘Some  have argued  from  Paul’s use of peri de “Now about,”  in 1 Thess.  4:9 and  5: 1 that Paul is  replying   to a letter  from  the  church;   cf.  1 Cor.  7:1;  7:25;  8:1;  12:1;  16:1;  16:12. IbId.,  pp.  247-248.

In  two  other   passages in  1 Corinthians,   Paul  refers   to  teaching which   he  had   received   and   passed    on   to  the   Corinthians.    In   1 Corinthians  11:23-25 he says that  he received from  the  Lord  and  passed on  to  the  Corinthians  certain   facts  concerning  the  institution  of  the Lord’s  supper.   The  words  of Jesus  recorded by Paul are  nearly  identical with   those   recorded   in  the   Synoptic  Gospels   (Mt.   22:26-29;   Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22: 19-20). The  use  of the  verbs paralambano “receive  by tradition,”  and  paradidiimi “pass  on,”  in  this  passage  is paralleled  in  1 Corinthians  15:3, where  Paul states that  he passed  on to them  as of first importance    what   he   had   also   received.    As  already     noted,    in  2 Thessalonians  2:15,  Paul  exhorts   the  Christians  at  Thessalonica:  “So then,  brothers, stand  firm and hold to the teachings we passed  on to you, whether   by word  of mouth   or by letter.”

In  all  of  the  instances  cited   from   1 Corinthains,  Paul  refers   to material   which  is found   in  one  or  more  of  the  Synoptic Gospels. We should,   therefore,   expect   that   his  use  of  a  similar   expression  in   1 Thessalonians 4: 15 would  refer  to material  also found  in these  Gospels. In  point  of fact,  that  is exactly  what  we do  find.  It will be the  object  of this  paper   to  show  that   the  teaching  of  Paul  in  this  and   the  other passages in  1 and   2  Thessalonians  on  the  second   coming   of  Christ parallels  the   teaching  of  Jesus   in  the   Olivet   discourse  recorded   in Matthew 24-25;  Mark  13, and  Luke  21. It will endeavor to show that  this discourse  of Jesus   was  the  primary   source   of  Paul’s  teaching  on  the second  coming  of Christ  in these  two letters. There    are  a  number    of  words   and   expressions  found   in  these passages in 1 and  2 Thessalonians that  are  similar  to those  used  by Jesus in  the  Olivet  discourse. These   will be discussed in  the  order   in which they  occur  in the Thessalonian  letters.

  1. The word parousia

Parousia, the word  used by Paul for the second  coming  of Christ  in 1

Thessalonians  4:15  and  2 Thessalonians  2:1  and  8,  is the  same  word used   by  the  disciples in  the  question  which   precipitated   the  Olivet discourse:  “When   will this  happen,   and  what  will be  the  sign  of  your coming   (fJarousia) and  of  the  end  of  the  age?”  (Matt.  24:3).  It is used three  times by Jesus  in the discourse itself: “As the lightning comes from the  east  and  flashes  to the  west,  so will be the  coming  tparousia) of the Son of Man” (Matt.  24:27);  “As it was in the days of Noah,  so it will be at the  coming   fparousia)  of  the   Son  of  Man”   (Matt.   24:37);   and   after describing   the life of the people  before  the flood who were unaware   that anything   would  happen   until  the  flood  came  and  took  them  all away, Jesus  adds,  “That  is how it will be at the coming  fparousia) of the  Son of Man”  (Matt.  24:39).  Parousia is the  only word  for  the  second  coming  used  in the  Olivet discourse.   It  is used  only  by Matthew.   It  is also  the  only  word  for  the second  coming  used  by Paul in  1 Thessalonians.    Besides  4:15,  it is used also in 2:19;  3:13;  and  5:23.  Paul  uses  two other  words  for  the  second coming  in 2 Thessalonians,   apokalupsis in  1:7 and  epiphaneia in 2:8,  but each of them   occurs  only once. He usesparousia  twice, in 2: 1 and  again in 2:8.

  1. The Lord  himself

Paul emphasizes   in 1 Thessalonians    4: 16 that  it is the  Lord  himself who will come  down  from  heaven.   In  2 Thessalonians    1:7 he speaks  of the  revelation   of the  Lord Jesus  in blazing  fire.  In  the  Olivet  discourse the  only  time  that  Jesus  uses  the  word  “sign”  is when  he  predicts   that “the  sign of the  Son of Man will appear   in the  sky” and  people  “will see the Son of Man coming”  (Matt. 24:30).  It is the very Son of Man who had no place to lay his head  (Matt. 8:20) who is to come with great  power  and glory.

  1. From heaven

“The   Lord  himself  will come  down  from  heaven   (ap’ ouranou)”  (1 Thess.   4:16).  This  will happen   when  the  Lord  Jesus   is revealed   from heaven  (ap’ ouranou) with his powerful   angels  (2 Thess.   1:7). Jesus  said that  the  sign of the Son of Man would  appear   in the  sky (en ourano) and that  people  would  see the  Son of Man  coming  on the  clouds  of the  sky (tou ouranou) with power  and  great  glory  (Mt. 24:30).  His coming  will be as visible as lightning  which flashes and  lights up the sky from  one end  to the  other   (ek t”iS  hupo ton ouranon eis hup’  ouranon)  (Lk.  17:24;  cf.  Mt.24:27).

  1. The Angels

Jesus    will  be  accompanied      by  angels:    “with   the   voice   of  the archangel”   (1 Thess.  4: 16); “with his powerful  angels”  (2 Thess.  1:7; cf. 1 Thess.  3: 13, “with  all his holy ones”). Jesus  said that  he would  send  out his angels  to gather  together   his elect from  the four  corners  of the earth(Matt.  24:31;  cf. Mk. 9:38).

  1. The Trumpet

The  coming  of the  Lord  will be heralded   with a trumpet   blast: “with the  trumpet   call (en salpingi) of God”  (1 Thess.  4:16;  cf.  1 Cor.  15:51). Jesus  said  that  he would  send  his angels  “with  a loud  trumpet   call (meta salpingos megalis) to gather   his elect”  (Matt.  24:31).

  1. The Survivors

Paul  speaks  of  “those  who  are  still alive  and  are  left  (hoi zantes hoi perileipomenoi)  at  Christ’s  coming   (1  Thess.   4:15   and   17;  cf.   1 Cor.15:51-52),  who  together  with  the  dead   in  Christ  will be  caught   up  to meet  Christ.  Jesus  does  not  refer   in the Olivet  discourse to those  who have died,  but  he does speak  of those  who endure   (ho hupomeinas) to the end  (eis telos) who  will be saved  (Mt. 24:13;  Mk.  13:13;  Lk. 21:19).

  1. 7. The Clouds

In  1 Thessalonians 4: 17 Paul  says that  we who are  still alive and  are left will be caught  up together with the resurrected  saints  “in the clouds” (en nephelais). Jesus   predicted  that  his  coming   would  be  in  clouds   (en nephalais) with  power  and  great  glory  (Mk.  13:26;  cf. Mt. 24:30,  epi ton nephelon tou ouranou, “on the clouds  of the sky”; and  Lk. 21 :27, en nephele, “in a cloud”;  cf. also Rev.  1:7 and  11: 12),

  1. To Meet  the  Lord

Paul  states  that  we will meet  the Lord  (eis apantesin tou kuriou) in the air (1 Thess.  4: 17). The  same expression is used  by Jesus  in the  parable of  the   ten   virgins:   “At   midnight   the   cry   rang    out:   ‘Here’s     the bridegroom!  Come  out  to meet  him  (eis apantesin autou)!‘”  (Mt. 25:6).

  1. The Time  of Christ’s Coming

Paul  refers   (/Jeri de) to  a matter   of  concern  to  the  Thessalonians, which  they  had  perhaps  written   to him  about,  namely, the  “times  and dates”  (ton chrontm kai ton kairon) of Christ’s coming. He says that  there  is no need  for  him  to write  to them  about  it because they  knew  perfectly well that  the  time of the Lord’s  coming  was unknown (1 Thess.  5: 1-2). A different  expression,  but  one  with  essentially the  same  meaning,  was used  by Jesus,   “but  concerning  that  day  and  hour   (/Jeri de tes nemepa sekeives kai horas), no one  knows” (Mt. 24:36).

  1. The Day of the  Lord

Paul  says that  the  Thessalonians  know  that  “the  day  of  the  Lord (liemera kuriou) will come  like a thief  in the  night”  (1 Thess.  5 :2). He uses the  same  expression in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 in his condemnation  of the false  report   that  the  day  of the  Lord  had  already   set in.  In  both  cases, Paul  is referring  to the  time of Christ’s second  coming. He refers  to the same  time  in  1 Thessalonians 5:4  when  he  says that  the  Christians are not in darkness that  the day (lie hemera) should  surprise them  like a thief. Jesus  refers  to the  time  of his coming  as “that  day”  (lie hemera ekeiiie) in Matthew 24:36;  Mk.  13:32;  and  Luke  21:34.

  1. Like a Thief in the  Night

One  of  the  most  striking resemblances between Paul’s  words  and those  of Jesus  is the apostle’s statement in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “For  you know  very  well that  the  day  of  the  Lord  will corne  like  a thief  in  the night”  (has kleptes en nukti). Jesus  used  the  illustration of the  owner  of a house  who,  if he  had  known  at what  time  of night  the  thief  (ho kleptes) was corning, would  have  kept  watch and  would  not have let his house  be broken   into  (Mt. 24:43).  The  same  expression is used  in Revelation 3:3 and  16:15.

  1. Sudden  Destruction

Paul  goes  on  to say, “While  people   are  saying,  ‘Peace  and  safety,’ destruction (olethros)will come on them  suddenly (aiphnidios) … and  they will not escape” (1 Thess.  5:3). Jesus  compared his corning with the time of Noah  when  people  knew nothing about  what  would  happen   until  the flood  came  and  took  them  all away (Mt. 24:39;  cf. Lk.  17:27,  “then  the flood  came  and   destroyed  (ap”3lesen)them   all”).  He  later  warned   the disciples  against    allowing  their    hearts    to  be  weighed  down   with dissipation, drunkenness  and  anxieties, or that  day will corne upon  them suddenly (aiphnidios) (Lk. 21 :34; cf. Mk.  13:36).

  1. Labor Pains

Paul  compares  the  suddenness  of  Christ’s coming   to  the  onset  of labor  pains  (odin) in the  case of a pregnant  woman  (1 Thess.  5:3). Jesus used  the  same word  to denote  the  woes that  would  precede his coming: “These   are  the  beginning of birth  pains  (odinon)” (Mt. 24:8;  Mk.  13:8).

  1. No Escape for  the  Unprepared

Paul  concludes his statement regarding  the  sudden   destruction  to corne upon  people  at Christ’s corning by saying,  “and  they will not escape (ou me ekphugosin)” (1 Thess.  5:3). Jesus  urged   his disciples to be always on the watch and to pray  that they “might  be able to escape  (ekphugein) all that  is about  to happen”  (Lk. 21 :36).

  1. Sons of the Light

Paul  goes  on  to  say  that   the  Thessalonian  believers were  not  in darkness  that  the  day  of  Christ’s corning should   surprise  them  like  a thief,  because they  are  “sons  of the  light  and  sons of the  day”  (1 Thess.5:4-5),  who  are  expecting  the  corning of  Christ  although  they  do  not know  the  exact  time  of his corning (1 Thess.  5:1-2).  “Sons  of the  light” means   people   who  have  been   illuminated  with  the  knowledge of  his coming. Jesus  told his disciples on the Mount  of Olives, “See, I have told you ahead  of time”  (Mt. 24:25;  cf. Mk.  13:23) and  urged  them  to stand and  lift up their  heads  when  the  things  he predicted began  to take place (Lk.  21 :28)  in contrast  to other   people   who  are  filled  with  terror   and apprehension  (Lk. 21 :26).

16. Watch

In view of the uncertainty of the time of Christ’s  coming,  Paul urged the  Thessalonian  Christians to be watchful: “So then,  let us not  be like others    who   are   asleep,    but   let   us  be  alert    (gregoromen)   and   be self-controlled” (1 .Thess.  5:6). Jesus  repeatedly  used  the  same  word  to exhort   his disciples to be ready  for  his coming:  “Therefore  keep  watch (gregoreite),  because  you do not  know on what  day your  Lord  will come” (Mt.  24:42);   “Therefore   keep   watch   (gregoreite), because   you  do  not know  the  day  or  the  hour”   (Mt.  25:13);  “What   I  say to  you,  I  say to everyone: ‘Watch!’   (gregoreite)” !Mk.  13:37}.

17. The Danger   of Sleeping

Paul urges  the Thessalonians not to sleep  (me katheudOmen)  as others do  (1  Thess.   5:6).   He  goes  on  to  explain   that   those   who  sleep   (oi katheudontes) sleep (katheudousin) at night  (1 Thess.  5:7}.Jesus warned  his disciples lest his coming  find  them  sleeping  (katheudonlas) (Mk.  13:36).

  1. The Danger   of Drunkenness

Paul  also urges  the  Thessalonians to be sober  (riiphomen) (1 Thess.5:6) and  explains  that  those  who get drunk   (hoi methuskomenoi)  get drunk (methousin) at night  (1 Thess.  5:7). Jesus  told a parable  about  an evil slave who  during   the  delay  in  his  master’s   return   begins  to  beat  his  fellow slaves   and   to  eat   and   drink    with   drunkards    (ton  methuonton)   (Mt.24:45-49)  and   warns   the  disciples against   being   weighed  down   with dissipation and  drunkenness  (methe) (Lk.21:34).

19. Salvation

We who belong  to the day are  to be self-controlled, putting  on faith and  hope  as our  breastplate  and  the  hope  of  salvation (soteria) as our helmet   (1  Thess.   5:8),  for,  in  contrast   to  unbelievers,  we  have  been destined    to  receive   salvation  (soteria)  rather    than   wrath   at  Christ’s coming.  Jesus  said to his disciples who were  facing  persecution and  the spread   of  wickedness, “he  who  stands   firm  to  the  end  will be  saved” (sothesetai) (Mt. 24:13;  Mk.  13:13;  Lk. 21:19).

  1. With Power  and  Glory

In 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 Paul declares  that “at the revelation of the Lord Jesus  from  heaven  with the angels of his power  (dunamis)” God will punish   unbelievers by excluding them  “from  the  presence of the  Lord and   from   the   majesty   (doxa) of  his  strength,   when   he  comes   to  be glorified  (endoxasthenai) in  his  saints  and  to  be  marveled  at  among   all those  who  have  believed.” Jesus   said  that  his  coming   would  be  “with power  and  great  glory (meta dunamdi: kai doxes pottes)” (Mt. 24:30;  cf. Mk.13:26;  Lk. 21 :27).

21. The Gathering  Together  of the  Saints

In 2 Thessalonians 2:1, when  Paul refers  to the coming  <parousia) of Christ,  he links  it with “our  being  gathered  (h’emon episunagoges) to him. According   to  Granville  Sharpe’s   rule,   when   two  substantives   are connected  by kai and  there  is an article  with  the  first  and  not  with  the second,  the two refer  to the same thing.  This  is the case here.  Paul refers to  the  event   that   he  had   described  in  1 Thessalonians  4:13-18,   the parousia of our  Lord Jesus  Christ,  at which time we are  to be gathered to him.   It  is the  verb  from   which  this  compound   noun   episungagoge is derived   which  was used  by Jesus   to  describe   the  action  of  the  angels when  he comes:  “He  will send  his angels  with a loud  trumpet   call, and they  will gather   (episunaxousin) his elect  from  the  four  winds,  from  one end  of the  heavens  to the  other”   (Mt. 24:31).

  1. The Apostasy

In  2  Thessalonians  2:3  Paul  urges   the  Thessalonians  not  to  let anyone  deceive  them  into believing that  the day of the Lord  had  already set  in,  because   that  day  will not  come  until  the  apostasy (lie apostasia) occurs.   In  Matthew 24:10-11  Jesus   predicts   that  many  will turn   away from  the  faith  (skandalisthesontai) and  will betray   and  hate  each  other, and  many  false  prophets  will appear   and  deceive  many  people.

  1. The Antichrist

Paul  goes  on  to  say that  another   event   must  precede   the  day  of, Christ’s  coming-the   revelation of “the  man of lawlessness” (ho anthr’Opos t”iSanomias) (2 Thess.  2:3) or “the  lawless one”  (ho anomos) (2 Thess.  2:8), who  is further   described  as one  who  opposes   and  exalts  himself  over everything that  is called God or is worshipped, who even sets himself  up in  God’s  temple,   proclaiming  himself   to  be  God  (2 Thess.   2:4).  This person,  whose coming  is said to be according to the working  of Satan  in all  kinds   of  miracles  (dunamis),   signs   (semeia) and   wonders   (terata) characterized  by  falsehood  <pseudous)  and   in  every   kind   of  evil  that deceives  those   who  are   perishing  (2  Thess.   2:9-10),   will  be  utterly destroyed at Christ’s  coming  (2 Thess.  2:8). Jesus  three  times warned  his disciples in  the  Olivet  discourse  concerning  the  appearance   of  false Christs  and  false  prophets:  “Watch  out  that  no  one  deceives you.  For many  will come  in my name,  claiming, ‘I am the  Christ’  and  will deceive many”   (Mt.   24:4;   cf.  Mk.   13:5;   Lk.  21 :8);  “Many   false   prophets <pseudoprophetai)  will appear   and  will deceive  many”  (Mt. 24: 12); “False Christs   <pseudochristoi) and   false  prophets  <pseudopropliitai)  will appear and   perform    great   signs  (semeia) and   wonders  (terata) to  deceive,   if possible, even  the  elect”  (Mt. 24:24).  Jesus  had  already   spoken  of “the abomination   of  desolation”  standing   in  the   holy  place,   probably  a reference  to the  temple  (Mt. 24:15;  cf. Mk.  13:14).

24. The Preaching   of the  Gospel  as a Testimony   to all Nations

In 2 Thessalonians   1:8-10 Paul  had  spoken  of the  punishment    that will be brought    to  those  who  do  not  know  God  and  do  not  obey  the gospel   (to evangelio) of  our   Lord  Jesus,   and  of  the  glory  that  will be brought      to   his   holy   people     who   have   believed,     including      the Thessalonian  Christians,  who had believed  the apostles’  testimony (marturion) to them.  In 2 Thessalonians  3: 13-14, Paul thanks  God for the Thessalonian  Christians   because  God chose  them  to be saved  and  called them  to belief  in the truth  through   the  gospel  (dia tou evangeliou). In the Olivet discourse  Jesus  states  that  the  one  prerequisite    for the  end  of the age to come is the  preaching   of the  gospel  (to evangelion) of the  kingdom to all the world  as a testimony  teis marturion) to all nations  (Mt. 24: 14; cf. Mk.  13:10).

Predictions of the second coming

For full list of 242 predictions accounted for  visit –

Date Event
44 Theudas declared himself the Messiah, taking 400 people with him into the desert. T beheaded by Roman soldiers. Josephus records this.
53 Even before all the books of the Bible were written, there was talk that Christ’s return had already taken place. The Thessalonians panicked on Paul, when they heard a rumor that the day of the Lord was at hand, and they had missed the rapture.
80 Ben Zakkai died about 80, and expected the Messiah about the time of his death
100 -200 Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (1-2 Cent) thought the days of the Messiah would last 40 years. Before Bar Kochba the Mess. age was short; longer afterward
130 Rabbi Jose, the Galilean, a contemporary of Hyrcanus and Azariah, thought the Messiah would come in three generations (60 years), after the destruction; namely 130 (Luther Martin, Date Setters, Guardian of Truth, Sept. 15, 1994)
381 Return of Christ; Tichonus a writer of the 4th Cent (Luther Martin, Date Setters, Guardian of Truth, Sept. 15, 1994)
400 Hippolytus “calculated that 5,500 years separated Adam and Christ and that the life of the world was 6,000 six full ‘days’ of years until the seventh the day of rest.” His calculations in 234 indicted there were still two centuries left. (from A History of the End of the World, Rubinsky and Wiseman, 1982)
400 Rabbi Dosa (2-3rd Century) said the Messiah would come at the end of 400 years. This was based (?) on Gen. 15:13 (Luther Martin, Date Setters, Guardian of Truth, Sept. 15, 1994)
435 Messiah comes; Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi (135-220) believed Messiah would come 365 years after Temple destroyed in 70 (Luther Martin, Date Setters, Guardian of Truth, Sept. 15, 1994)
470 Messiah would come; Rabbi Hanina (3rd C), though Messiah would come 400 years after Temple Destruction. (Luther Martin, Date Setters, Guardian of Truth, Sept. 15, 1994)
500 A Roman priest and theologian in the second and third centuries, predicted Christ would return in A.D. 500, based on the dimensions of Noah’s ark.
500 Return of Christ; Hyppolytus (170-236) and Lactantius (250-330) said 500 would be the time for the second coming of Christ (Luther Martin, Date Setters, Guardian of Truth, Sept. 15, 1994)

The Great Disappointment

On October 22, 1844, as many as 100,000 Christians gathered on hillsides, in meeting places and in meadows. They were breathlessly and joyously expecting the return of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The crowds had assembled because of the prophetic claim of an upstate New York farmer and Baptist layman named William Miller (1782-1849). He was certain from his studies of the Bible that Jesus Christ was going to return on that day.

This dashed hope came to be known as “The Great Disappointment.” In his book When Time Shall Be No More, historian Paul Boyer offers an example of the deep despondency suffered by the Millerites. In the words of one tragically disappointed believer: “Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before…. We wept, and wept, till the day dawned” (page 81).

When Jesus did not return as expected, many who had hopefully waited for the return of their Savior threw off their faith completely. Some refused to give up their hope and eventually replaced one delusion with another. They would claim that Christ must have come invisibly in 1844, moving into the Holy of Holies in heaven to begin his “investigative judgment” of Christian lives.

Many simply returned to the churches out of which they had come, no doubt confused, distraught and embarrassed to have accepted something that was revealed to have been an empty fantasy. Miller, having renounced his prophecy studies after the Great Disappointment, died in 1849. Any remaining followers split up over differences of belief and doctrine. Ultimately, a variety of groups arose from the ashes of the Millerite camp.

If history is any indication

Christians have sought the end of the world for the last 2000 years, and it shows no signs of slowing down soon. If history is an indication you can rest easy; every generation has their “end of times” scares that captivate the ignorant masses. Even in my own life-span of 24 years I have went through Y2K, 2012, and the prepper movement that has been going on heavily for the last decade.  People are psychologically hardwired to believe these things – regardless of the religious reinforcements on top of the underlying cognition.

Shmuel Lissek, who is a neuroscientist that studies the fear system at the University of Minnesota, believes that at its heart, the concept of doomsday evokes an innate and ancient bias in most mammals. “The initial response to any hint of alarm is fear. This is the architecture with which we’re built,” Lissek says. Over evolutionary history, organisms with a better-safe-than-sorry approach survive. This mechanism has had consequences for both the body and brain, where the fast-acting amygdala can activate a fearful stress response before “higher” cortical areas have a chance to assess the situation and respond more rationally.

When will Christians today accept the fact that not only is the return improbable given the 23 elements that we are provided to denote the approaching end time; most of these elements are simply not current to world events;   Acts was aware of the problem of the non-return of Jesus; Acts 1 starts out with the ascension of Jesus with the disciples asking “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” – Luke-Acts being much later in date then Pauline epistles, and the preaching of the return that had been going on for 20-50 years depending on how late you date Acts. The writer here has to start the book off answering the first most common question in Christianity, why hasn’t Jesus returned yet? Now 2000 years later Christians are still asking the same redundant question, quoting the same scriptures, inventing new theological doctrines to keep the “second coming” can going down the road as popular as ever. Everyone else can lose sleep waiting for Freddy Kruger, I mean Jesus, but I will keep living, laughing, and mocking all the same 🙂

Inequality of women among the Modern church.
Recently, a baptist church in TN has lost its status with the Baptist Association due to electing a female pastor. Shonda Reynolds, who has a Doctorate of Ministry, is more than qualified for the position, and for a Baptist I would say highly over-qualified in comparison to most of the poor-farmer pastors my childhood was plagued with. Now this church didn’t just have their status stripped from them; a council consisting of 77 association members voted as to their fate resulting in a 73 to 4 vote. This says a lot about the state of the church in modern day Baptist Association for not only were they voted against, it was embarrassingly almost unanimous! To me this speaks volumes as to where women are placed in society in regards to spirituality, which as a Christian – THE ONLY PART THAT MATTERS. The fact that most women within the church disregard this with a smile on their face disturbs me, not to say that I am by any means a feminist, but blind submission because of a “deity” of any sort seems rather adverse to free will. Especially when that said deity, and the divine book chosen to represent it places females in an inferior role, some instances mere reproduction vessels, yet Christian women shrug that off as well like it is nothing. Sure, God use to command rape & Genocide, but let’s just pretend it is cool because we aren’t being raped. That’s a rather passive way to look at something you want to spend eternity with in my opinion. Oh, don’t believe me? Let’s look:

Judges 21:10-24 NLT
So they sent twelve thousand warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children.  “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin.”  Among the residents of Jabesh-gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.

 The Israelite assembly sent a peace delegation to the little remnant of Benjamin who were living at the rock of Rimmon. Then the men of Benjamin returned to their homes, and the four hundred women of Jabesh-gilead who were spared were given to them as wives.  But there were not enough women for all of them.  The people felt sorry for Benjamin because the LORD had left this gap in the tribes of Israel.  So the Israelite leaders asked, “How can we find wives for the few who remain, since all the women of the tribe of Benjamin are dead?  There must be heirs for the survivors so that an entire tribe of Israel will not be lost forever.  But we cannot give them our own daughters in marriage because we have sworn with a solemn oath that anyone who does this will fall under God’s curse.”

Then they thought of the annual festival of the LORD held in Shiloh, between Lebonah and Bethel, along the east side of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem.  They told the men of Benjamin who still needed wives, “Go and hide in the vineyards.  When the women of Shiloh come out for their dances, rush out from the vineyards, and each of you can take one of them home to be your wife!  And when their fathers and brothers come to us in protest, we will tell them, ‘Please be understanding.  Let them have your daughters, for we didn’t find enough wives for them when we destroyed Jabesh-gilead. And you are not guilty of breaking the vow since you did not give your daughters in marriage to them.'”  So the men of Benjamin did as they were told.  They kidnapped the women who took part in the celebration and carried them off to the land of their own inheritance.  Then they rebuilt their towns and lived in them.  So the assembly of Israel departed by tribes and families, and they returned to their own homes.

or Numbers 31:7-18

They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men.  All five of the Midianite kings – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – died in the battle.  They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword.  Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder.  They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived.  After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho.

Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp.  But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle.  “Why have you let all the women live?” he demanded.  “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the LORD at Mount Peor.  They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD’s people.  Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man.  Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.

or even when rape is considered bad?

Deuteronomy 22:28-29
“If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father.  Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.”

This is clearly disturbing, yet it is shrugged off for the excuse that the “Old Testament” isn’t applicable to the New Testament since the coming of Christ and the doing away of the law. Um excuse me? Jesus came to be the Passover sacrifice, as well as an allegory to the Yom Kippur sacrifice in the Barabbas passage in Matthew. There are multiple manuscripts that read Jesus Barabbas & Jesus Christ rather than omitting the Jesus in front of Barabbas as later preferred. Without going into great detail the allegory makes perfect sense, being that whoever wrote Matthew shows a wider knowledge of Jewish traditions than the other Gospels; anyways, the death and resurrection of Jesus is meant to be a final blood sacrifice. This sacrifice did not do away with following laws; however, the introduction of gentiles into the Jewish-Christian sect by Paul largely demanded that issues regarding law in light of this theological victory arise and be discussed.  This is seen in Paul’s aggressive argument in regards to the law in Galatians 3, or a less intense lecture over law in Romans 3 – the largest question to adhering to law being with circumcision, and how going through the law alone no longer grants salvation.  This argument is not stating that the law is irrelevant, out-dated, or unnecessary, rather that the obedience to the law was always a flawed means of salvation, and this method of salvation has now been made null. The participation of non-jews into Jewish traditions is where the issues to the “law” start to arise between Paul’s church and the church of Jerusalem. (Again see Galatians 1)

So now that clarification has been given as to what Christ was to represent theologically, showing that the OT passages are indeed relevant to this era, let’s look at what the New Testament says in relation to women starting in sequence of composition with Paul.

1 Corinthians 11
For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection[c] of God; but woman is the reflection[d] of man. Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. 10 For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of[e]authority on her head,[fbecause of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. 12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God.

a) 1 Corinthians 11:3 The same Greek word means man or husband

b) 1 Corinthians 11:3 Or head of the woman

c) 1 Corinthians 11:7 Or glory

d)1 Corinthians 11:7 Or glory

e)1 Corinthians 11:10 Gk lacks a symbol of

f) 1 Corinthians 11:10 Or have freedom of choice regarding her head

This passage is pretty indicative of women in the eyes of the church. Women are not equal to men in form or spirituality, and goes quite far as to establish the superior role of males in relation to females. This is also noted in the Pseudo-Paul writings like 1 Timothy 2:12 that states women are not allowed to teach, yet in Romans we see Paul discuss a female apostle and her husband apostle – so clearly females were used by God in Pauline writings.

Romans 16:7
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

This is also seen in the episode of Paul & Thecla – a book that was deemed heretical due to the fact that Thecla was placed in an apostle position that was having miracles occur around her and Paul during their journeys.

What does Early Church Father Irenaeus say in regards to women?

“Why was it, that when these two (Aaron and Miriam) had both acted with despite towards him (Moses), the latter alone was adjudged punishment? First, because the woman was the more culpable, since both nature and the law place the woman in a subordinate condition to the man. Or perhaps it was that Aaron was to a certain degree excusable, in consideration of his being the elder [brother], and adorned with the dignity of high priest. Then again, inasmuch as the leper was accounted by the law unclean, while at the same time the origin and foundation of the priesthood lay in Aaron, [the Lord] did not award a similar punishment to him, lest this stigma should attach itself to the entire [sacerdotal] race; but by means of his sister’s [example] He awoke his fears, and taught him the same lesson. For Miriam’s punishment affected him to such an extent, that no sooner did she experience it, than he entreated Moses], who had been injured, that he would be his intercession do away with the affliction.”

Now most Christians will attempt to save-face by throwing out the Old testament as irrevelant and a reflection of barbaric society, followed by throwing out Paul & Pseudo Paul that demands submissive behavior and silence as in respect only to the church; however, this does not address the passages that peg women as simply inferior to men based on image and creation, and the passages certainly do not limit the superiority to church walls, but extends to the body of Christ as a whole. Another face-saving tactic is to take the Gospels and emphasize the role of Mary, Mary Magdalene, and the other women that are mentioned in the Bible – for why would god place these females at intricate roles if they were inferior? This is exactly why women are depicted in these spots, aside from the necessity to meet prophecy standards in Mary’s particular case. The Gospels utilize lowly females in an important position to show Jesus’ service towards the bottom of society of sinners. Using these as examples of the Bible’s “acceptance” of females is hardly warranted, for Jesus is scorned for associating with sinners, much like Christians today would judge if their pastor was hanging out with a local prostitute. Christian society has came a long way in the acceptance of females into the ministry; however, the conservative right have not done all that is necessary to bring equality to the church.  Fundamentalists need to wake up and understand what their theology is doing to the mindsets of males and females by establishing superiority and inferiority between genders.