In chapter two of the gospel according to Matthew, we read that magi (Zoroastrian priests of the ancient Medes and Persians1) studied the stars, and upon seeing a particular astrological phenomenon, left their homeland and set off for Israel to worship the “new born king of the Jews.” The story has been derided as legend by Bible critics as a fanciful birth legend, invented after Jesus’ rise as a great religious figure, which was a customary practice in ancient times. After all, why would a star – even if it did foretell the birth of a Hebrew king of Israel – cause pagan priests to abandon their religion and suddenly believe this new born Jewish king was worthy of their worship? [Read more…]
A Promo for Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus
For something like 1500 years of Western Civilization, and going back another roughly 1500 prior to that in Jewish history, the Exodus narrative of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt was more or less accepted as a historical event. But today, mainstream archeology says it probably didn’t happen. Yes, some artifacts have turned up here and there that could be interpreted as tangible corroborations of the biblical text, but to draw those connections would be “a very weak affair,” in the words of Egyptologist Manfred Bietak of the University of Vienna.
Filmmaker Tim Mahoney was stunned to hear this. Raised a Christian, he began to ask, Did Jesus get it wrong? Has the whole of Judeo-Christianity believed a lie for near on three millennia? He needed to know. So he set out on a quest. [Read more…]
Over the past couple of years, I have been privileged to have the opportunity to participate in a number of radio and podcast interviews and debates, as well as present a number of lectures on subjects of interest to Christians. Those that have been recorded lie scattered around the internet, and so I thought it would be a good idea to compile the links to these resources into one post. [Read more…]
“Now the Lord said to Joshua: ‘Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king.’” Joshua 8:1-2
Investigating what the Bible claims Joshua and the army of Israel did in Canaan involves a lot of detailed work. That’s because the Bible claims Israel defeated 31 kings during the 14th century BC. As an atheist journalist in 1971, that looked like evidence that could be verified or denied using the tools of both history and archaeology. What did I find?
Nativity scenes dotting the coffee tables of most Christian homes or the brightly lit lawns of churches display the holy family gathered in a stable beside a lowly ox and a few sheep. Most people probably assume this stems from Luke 2:7, which reads: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
However, in Luke 2:7, the Greek word καταλύματι translated inn in English is not the Greek word for commercial inn πανδοχεῖον (as in the parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:34). Rather, it is the same word used in Luke 22:11 where Jesus sends his disciples into town to find a place where he can celebrate the Last Supper: “And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber (καταλύματι), where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?” In this passage, καταλύματι is translated more accurately as guest chamber. [Read more…]