Archive for September, 2012

20
Sep

Was Jesus Married? The Historical Evidence

   Posted by: Rob Bowman    in Biblical studies, Christology

In light of the so-called Jesus Wife Papyrus, it is worth revisiting the question of what historical evidence actually shows regarding the question of Jesus’ marital status. There are two questions here: Was Jesus married? More specifically, was he married to Mary Magdalene? Some people think so, but I will argue that this idea should be abandoned.

First, let’s assign the burden of proof. The burden of proof is on those who make the assertion that Jesus was married. Since the Bible doesn’t say he was married, and most Christians historically have thought he was not married, those who come along and assert that he was married have the responsibility to provide evidence for their claim. The burden of proof is not on me to prove beyond any possible doubt or loophole of reasoning that Jesus wasn’t married, or that he didn’t sire twelve children, or that he didn’t live in England between the ages of 13 and 29. The burden of proof is on those who make such assertions.

That having been said, a reasonably strong case can be made against the claim that Jesus was married. We will look at the most significant argument that have been made in support of Jesus being married and then present the arguments against this claim. Read the rest of this entry »

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19
Sep

Karen King’s Jesus Wife Papyrus

   Posted by: Rob Bowman    in apocrypha, Biblical studies

Karen L. King of Harvard made public yesterday a fragment written in Coptic that she says is a fourth-century copy of a second-century text quoting Jesus as saying, “My wife.” For the benefit of those interested in researching this topic, I present here some of the more notable articles and blogs on the subject of this fragment.

Sources Promoting the Jesus Wife Papyrus

King, Karen L., with contributions by AnneMarie Luijendijk. “‘“Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…”’: A New Coptic Gospel Fragment.” Draft of King’s article to be published in early 2012 in the Harvard Theological Review.

King, Karen L. “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife: A New Coptic Gospel Fragment.” Harvard Divinity School—Research Projects.

The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife. Smithsonian Channel documentary to air 30 Sept. 2012.

Sabar, Ariel. “The Inside Story of a Controversial New Text about Jesus.” Smithsonian.com, 18 Sept. 2018.

News Articles Read the rest of this entry »

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Was Isaac Newton a real person of history? If we adopt the historical method of skeptics who question the historical existence of Jesus by constructing lists of parallels between Jesus and such mythical figures as Horus and Mithra, the answer would seem to be no. The table below presents 16 parallels between Jesus Christ and Isaac Newton—and unlike nearly all of the alleged parallels between Jesus and mythical figures, all of these parallels are completely accurate.

 

Jesus Christ

Isaac Newton

His birthday has been given both as December 25 and as January 6. His birthday has been given both as December 25 and as January 4.
His birthday is celebrated by his followers as “Christmas,” and the period between December 25 and January 6 has been called “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” His birthday is celebrated by his followers as “Newtonmas,” and the period between December 25 and January 4 has been called “The Ten Days of Newtonmas.”
His name is that of a famous figure in the Old Testament (Joshua). His name is that of a famous figure in the Old Testament (Isaac).
John described him as “the true light that comes into the world.” He is described as bringing light to the world: “God said ‘Let Newton be’ and all was light” (Alexander Pope).
He was circumcised on the eighth day. He was baptized on the eighth day.
According to tradition, his grandmother’s name was Hannah (usually Anglicized as Anne.) His mother’s name was Hannah.
According to tradition, his mother’s husband died when he was young. His mother’s husband died before he was born.
He never married. He never married.
He was famous for his knowledgeable exposition of the Scriptures. He was famous for his knowledgeable exposition of the Scriptures.
He professed the same faith as that of his countrymen, but they regarded him as a heretic. He professed the same faith as that of his countrymen, but they regarded him as a heretic.
Commenting on the Book of Daniel, he stated that “this gospel of the kingdom must first be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Commenting on the Book of Daniel, he stated that “the Gospel must first be preached in all nations before the great tribulation, and end of the world.”
He rejected the idea that people could determine a date for the end of the world. He rejected the idea that people could determine a date for the end of the world.
He is regarded by many as one of the greatest men ever to live on earth. He is regarded by many, in the words of Richard Dawkins, as “one of the truly great men ever to walk the earth.”
He was honored by the use of the Greek title kurios, which can be translated “Sir.” He was honored by the use of the title “Sir.”
Portraits of him depict him with strikingly different appearances. Portraits of him depict him with strikingly different appearances.
Marty McFly used his name in vain in the film Back to the Future. Doc Emmet Brown used his name in vain in the film Back to the Future II.

 

Perhaps we need a better historical method.

 

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The LDS Church has just released a new manual in its series on the teachings of its president-prophets, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow. As are the other publications in this series, TPC:LS is an official curriculum manual of the LDS Church intended to be the basis of instruction in Mormon congregations worldwide.

This manual is of special interest because Snow was the author of a two-line saying (commonly dubbed Snow’s “couplet”) that epitomizes what is distinctive about LDS theology. As one would expect, it is quoted in the manual (p. 83):

As man now is, God once was;
As God now is, man may be.

As the manual reports, Snow actually formulated this couplet in 1840 and believed it to have been a “sacred communication” (i.e., a divine revelation), but did not teach it publicly until after Joseph Smith taught the same doctrine (83). Indeed, Joseph’s famous 1844 King Follett Discourse actually uses language that closely matches the first line of Snow’s couplet:

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! …Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you… (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345-46).

The TPC:LS manual reports that Snow frequently “testified” to this doctrine, “making this truth a theme for many of his sermons” and even “adopted it as the theme for his life” (83). The manual goes on to quote at length from Snow’s own exposition of the meaning and significance of the doctrine. According to Snow, we have “the nature of deity” undeveloped within us, including God the Father’s “capabilities, powers and faculties,” just as an infant child does the faculties and powers of its parent (84). We have “the capacity for infinite wisdom and knowl­edge” in the “divinity” that lies within us albeit “in an infantile state.” As such, we are uncreated beings who “have divinity within ourselves” and “will live from all eternity to all eternity” (84).

Through a continual course of progression our Heavenly Father has received exaltation and glory and he points us out the same path and, inasmuch as he is clothed with power, authority and glory, he says, “walk ye up and come in possession of the same glory and happiness that I possess” (85).

Our “high destiny” if we are faithful is “becoming like unto Him in every particular” (86, my emphasis).

It would be interesting to know what Richard Mouw, the president of Fuller Theological Seminary (my alma mater from 1981!) and the author of the recent book Talking with Mormons, would say about this recent publication. Mouw infamously claimed in late 2004 that Snow’s doctrine has “no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine.” In 2006 evangelical scholar Ronald V. Huggins published an excellent article responding to Mouw, documenting that Snow’s couplet epitomizes a doctrine “that still lives at the heart and logical center of the whole Mormon religious system.” Six years later, we have yet another piece of evidence showing that assessment to be correct.

 

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