The Mysterious Magi of Matthew 2, Part Two.

The Holy Men by Liz Lemon Swindle

In part one of this series, I briefly described the origins of Zoroastrianism, the religion held by the magi mentioned in Matthew 2, who left their homeland and traveled to Israel to worship Jesus. We noted the passages mentioned in the Old Testament where these monotheistic adherents of Zoroastrianism equated their deity with the God of the Jews.

In contrast to the polytheistic paganism of other cultures, Judaism and Zoroastrianism held several core beliefs in common. An overview of Zoroastrian doctrines are 1) good will eventually prevail over evil (Rev. 20, 21); 2) creation was initially perfectly good, but was subsequently corrupted by evil (Gen 1:31, Rom. 5:12, 8:20-22); 3) the world will ultimately be restored to the perfection it had at the time of creation (Rev. 21:1, 4); and 4) the “salvation for the individual depended on the sum of [that person’s] thoughts, words and deeds, and there could be no intervention, whether compassionate or capricious, by any divine being to alter this.” Thus, each human bears the responsibility for the fate of his own soul (Ezekiel 18).1 [Read more…]

Can We Trust the New Testament?

Can the New Testament documents be trusted? Do the Gospels accurately report what Jesus said and did? In this presentation, I investigate the historical data bearing on the dating of the New Testament documents, and ask whether there is good reason to think the four canonical gospels are written by the individuals with whom they are traditionally associated, and whether they are based on the testimony of credible eyewitnesses. This talk was originally presented at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in September of 2014.

Is the Message of the New Testament Lost?

Lost the Plot?

Slide1Have we somehow lost the message of the New Testament? That’s what some people wonder when the conversation turns to the issue of textual variants—differences in the biblical manuscripts we’ve discovered over the years.

Maybe you’ve got a friend or a co-worker who tends to be pretty skeptical of the Bible right from the get-go. For many like them, the issues surrounding the Bible can make it tough to read it for themselves and give it a fair hearing. For example, people who saw Bart Ehrman on the Cobert Report or read his books might come away doubting that the text of the New Testament is still intact after all these years.

Today, I still hear well-meaning believers say we’ve just got to “give people the Bible.” But more and more, I see the need to engage the tough questions about why we should take the Bible seriously. So I wanted to share this video with you. It’s Darrell Bock, Ben Witherington, and Dan Wallace talking about textual variants in the New Testament. [Read more…]

Is the Weight of Scholarship on Bart Ehrman’s Side? (Tolle Lege)

TruthInCultureDoubt_cover.indd

Critics of the Bible will often claim that the majority of biblical scholars are on their side when it comes to doubting Christian beliefs about Scripture.  I recently heard atheist activist John Loftus claim, in a debate with apologist David Marshall, that most biblical scholars don’t believe any prophecies in the Old Testament refer to Jesus.  New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman often claims the backing of the majority of scholars as well, but such claims overlook or diminish the large number of evangelical thinkers who argue for different conclusions.  In their recent book Truth in a Culture of Doubt: Engaging Skeptical Challenges to the Bible, authors Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock, and Josh Chatraw illuminate the problems with this assertion.

[Read more…]

Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 20

Courtesy: Israeli Antiquities Authority

Courtesy: Israeli Antiquities Authority

If you were fortunate enough to be able to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City the last few months of 2014, you could have visited the amazing exhibition titled – “Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age.” One of the extraordinary archaeological objects available to view was the House of David Stele from the 9th century BC.

The year was 1993 AD. Israeli archaeologist Avahaim Biran and his team were excavating at Tel Dan in northern Israel. They discovered the first of three stone fragments known as the Tel Dan Stele. In lines 8 and 9 of the stele, written in ancient Aramaic, the words “king of Israel” and “house of David” are written.

The stele is a commemoration of the victory of an Aramean king over two kings to the south: one a “king of Israel” and the other a “king of the House of David.” Many scholars who have studied the stele believe it recounts a campaign of Hazael of Damascus against Israel’s King Jehoram and Judah’s King Ahaziah.

What is significant about the Tel Dan Stele is that it was the first archaeological evidence of the name of the Bible’s King David. However, that was 1993. My investigation into the claims of the Bible was during the first part of 1971, more than 20 years before the discovery of the Tel Dan Stele. Did that mean no archaeological evidence was available to me that would confirm the existence of King David?

[Read more…]