History's 'truth' depends upon the silence of the dead
(Investigator 147, 2012
Every student of ancient
religious rites is familiar with the idealized image of the unjustly
tortured and martyred individual, tormented for the very reason that he
is 'good' and 'righteous', selected as a victim by human malice, yet
bearing his sufferings for the sake of all humanity. It was an image
well drawn long before the time when the 'historical' Jesus is alleged
to have entered this world…explicitly discernible in Hebrew and other
scriptures [i.e. in the Second Isaiah -- "He is despised and
of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it
were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not."
53:3)]. The theme is equally common in secular writings, e.g.
Plato's acceptance of the 'spiritual superiority' of Socrates, rewarded
similarly with an ignominious death.
Sir James Frazer,
foremost mythologist of his day, relates in The Golden Bough:
transfer of evil, the principle of vicarious suffering, is commonly
understood and practiced by races who stand on a low level of social
and intellectual culture. It occurs in the history of classic
antiquity, while the peoples still remained in barbarism."(1)
of the Syrian God, Attis, was one of those sharing with Christianity
the 'cleansing of the soul' by the shedding of sacrificial blood; is
more than 'mere co-incidence' the attic rites, involving the shedding
of the blood of the sacrificial ox, took place at the very spot where
today's Vatican church of St Peter's stands?
Judging by the Greek word
(KATA) used in the title of each Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke &
John) the text in question was supposedly written by followers of
named disciple – not written by him 'in person'.(2)
Remember, not a line of
these Gospels was written before the activities of Paul had lasted many
years. Paul, the 'true founder' of Christianity, had a purely
theological conception of Jesus – grounded upon his psychotic
experience on the Damascus road.
He knows nothing of the everyday
activities of Jesus as described in the surviving Gospels 'lives' of
Jesus – he knows Him only as, "…the firstborn of every creature:
him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth,
visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or
principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for
him."(3) [Arguably, the clearest and most sympathetic,
study of the famous Galilean, as portrayed by the Gospel writers, is
still that of D F Strauss, in his Life of Jesus (4)
– a work
by Albert Schweitzer as, "one of the most perfect things in the
range of learned literature … in over fourteen hundred pages he has not
a superfluous phrase; his analysis descends to the minutest detail, but
he does not lose his way among them".(5)
For a more objective
study of the evolution of Christian beliefs, based upon a scholarly
examination and comparison of changing and modified versions of the
scriptures themselves, inter-linked with other major works of
contemporary historians, the 500 page epic, Christianity,(6)
Besant, remains unsurpassed – in spite of additional 'discoveries'
during the past century; both texts should be required reading for any
serious scholar of religion in general, Christianity in
My necessarily brief (and
mixed) observations, assume readers are familiar with the scriptures
referred to. No serious Biblical scholar today regards the fourth
Gospel (if any Gospel) as documentary evidence of historic facts; in
the case of John, probably produced in the first half of the second
century (post-dating both the evolving and repeatedly edited three
earlier compilations and the arguably 'genuine' parts of the Pauline
epistles). The 'gospel of John' is pure symbolism; introducing, in
rejuvenated form, ancient Messianic conceptions. Where he may
fragments that had already been incorporated into other, earlier
gospels (appropriately known as the 'synoptic gospels'), John
transforms them into symbolic mysticism; his mysticism of numbers, for
example, appears everywhere – Jesus walks three times through Galilee
and three times through Judea. The number of miracles wrought in each
locality is three; three times he denounces Judas as the one who is to
betray him (Jn 13: 18-21-26). Jesus rises from the grave on the third
day and three times is seen post mortem!
In John, the act of
healing itself is described as a symbol of the entire activity of Jesus
(Jn 5:17), the multiplied loaves symbolize distribution of the 'bread
of life'. [Proving himself 'superior' to Elisha, who previously fed a
hundred men with twenty loaves (2 Kings 4:42-4), while Jesus fed four
thousand with a few fishes and seven loaves (Matt 15:34-38; Mk 8: 1-8).
As with other replicated miracles, the feat improved with the passage
of time – in John 6:5 there are five thousand participants and only two
The miracle of Jesus
walking on water implies a victorious 'spirit' – the Word returning to
its original eternity. Curing the blind man shows the Messiah is the
'light of the world'; 'conquering death' by raising Lazarus. These same
'miracles', where reported in the earlier books are just 'miracles';
raising the widow's son, as had Elijah and Elisha in the old Hebrew
texts, or all again mere replications of the resurrection stories of
the dead Attis, or Adonis, or Horus, or Dionysos, or Krishna; the list
seems endless. (Hardly surprising, therefore, this 'resurrection feat'
was to be repeated three times, by Peter, Paul and Jesus
So also the 'massacre of
the innocents', as in the myth of Moses; combined with Arab myths of
Abraham and Daniel prefiguring the New Testament tale [see the first
Kings (11:15 et seq) to learn of Hadad's escaped from Joab's killings
by fleeing to Egypt, where he found favour with Pharaoh…and so on…]
Apropos John's numerology, ask a Christian, how many times Peter denied
Christ and you'll surely be told 'three times': Strauss, itemizes the
eight or nine occasions where Peter is recorded as 'denying Christ'
according to the Gospel accounts, together with the very crucial (for
this essay) contradictions between their differing versions regarding
the judicial hearing before Pilate (7) etc.
It's difficult to imagine
how an objective reader could take the story of Christ's passion
seriously. As is generally known, Palestinian Jews had no legal
jurisdiction, could not pronounce sentence on anybody; it is very hard
to imagine what interest might press a Roman procurator to yield to
Jewish pressure to take the life of Jesus. (Rather like a British
vice-regent of India sentencing a Hindu to death for expressing
heterodox opinions about the teachings of the Buddha on the basis of an
accusation equivalent to that made against Jesus for saying: "I will
destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I
will build another without hands".) Although today's Christians
continue to claim 'the Passion' a central theme of their faith; it just
cannot have happened as portrayed by the Gospels.
Approaching the question
as the Scriptural writers did, they unsurprisingly discovered the 'true
beginning' in Psalm 22. It opens, "My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me?"; words later to become the cry of the dying Jesus.
absurd, to believe that Jesus, who had consciously and freely chosen to
carry through with this 'sacrifice', would actually shout this
exclamation in his final moments. Who heard him? According to the
oldest Gospel, none of Christ's 'own people' were present — all
apostles, or disciples as then called, had fled (Mk 14:50) – even 'his
rock', Peter, had deserted and denied him. According to the later
(arguably less reliable) evidence of Matthew, a number of women 'looked
on' from a great distance (apo makrothen); expressly stated as
'so far off' they couldn't possibly have heard this cry, which,
according to the seventh verse of the twenty second psalm, predicted
this would be the case: "All they that see me laugh me to scorn:
shoot out the lip, they shake the head"; practically identical words
incorporated into Matthew's account (27:39).
Continuing with the
Psalm, verse 16 relates, "The assembly of the wicked have inclosed
they pierce my hands and feet". Here surely is the derivation of
incident described (Jn 20:25), where Thomas insists on seeing 'the
print of the nails' in the hands of the resurrected Jesus [also the
manner in which all subsequent Christian art would represent the
murdered saviour; pierced hands and feet, without the small seat
(sedile) on which doomed victims of Roman justice were usually placed;
feet tied, not nailed, to the cross]. In the Septuagint version of the
Old Testament (the only version known to Jesus and his followers) the
twenty second psalm contains the misunderstood passage: "They tore
hands and feet", which later became, "They pierced my hands and
[The original Hebrew text read: "They cling like a lion to my hands and
feet"; the LXX version survives to support current Christian
'mis-perception' of this 'central icon' of their faith.] Finally, at
verse 18 we read: "They part my garments among them and cast lots
my vesture", providing the unmistakable source of Matthew 27:35,
readers discover how those who had crucified Jesus 'cast lots to divide
his garments among themselves'.
Other psalms added to the
developing legend; the genesis of 'bad guy', Judas Iscariot, are of
special interest. Psalm 41, refers to a betrayal by a trusted 'family'
associate, a friend with whom bread had been shared, although not an
enemy, he conspired with others, 'whispering'; Acts 1:16-18 interprets
this passage as clear prophecy of the part destined to be played by
Judas (Judas was undoubtedly derived from this source). The creation of
the 'bad guy' (ironically named 'Judas', the Jew, so appropriate for
the anti-Semitism that would later, become an essential element of
'Christianity'!) also developed over time. The role of Judas as
'betrayer' is first known to Jesus, according to the Synoptics, at the
last supper, that is, when his dastardly crime had virtually been
perpetrated; Jesus had so little presentiment that one of the twelve
would betray him, he promised them all, without exception, the honour
of sitting on the twelve thrones of judgement (Matt 19:28). However,
according to John's version, Jesus announces the coming betrayal at the
time of the previous Passover – a year before the event! (Jn
fact, Jesus knew from the beginning Judas was a devil who would betray
him!! (v 64)
Students of the evolution
of Hebrew religion will remember the introduction of the 'father of
evil', Satan, and his 'demonology' into Hebrew theology and writings
began during the Babylonian captivity (where dominant Zoroastrian
doctrine was grounded on exclusive distinction between 'good' and
'evil'; angels and demons). Following their captivity, the priestly
versions of scripture began to take shape; slowly 'God' became divided
into two increasingly distinct beings; a modification best illustrated
by comparing the opening verses of 2 Sam 24, where "And again the
of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David
to say, Go, number Israel and Judah" and the later I Chron 21,
description of the same event becomes, "And Satan stood up against
Israel, and provoked David to number Israel".
Every aspect of the
Passion story is saturated with mythology; many would argue the search
for any historical foundation is out of the question. Consider
the interpolation of the bandit Barabbas, introduced into the
post-trial events. As detailed in early Armenian and Jerusalem
Syriac versions of Matthew (27:15-17), the name of the condemned
prisoner is given as "Jesus Barrabas'; with this insertion, Pilate's
question to the populace becomes: "Whom will ye that I release unto
you? Jesus Barrabas, or Jesus which is called Christ?" We
Origen was familiar with this version; he certainly did not condemn it!
The etymological meaning of 'Barabbas' is simply 'son of the father' –
note the Aramaic word 'abba' embedded within; three times this word
'Abba' appears in Christian scripture, on each occasion referring to
'God the father'. Could it be that, once again, two separate
individuals were evolving from an entity, that Jesus and Barabbas were
initially the same symbolic representation (like 'God' and 'Satan' see
above), both were, literally and metaphorically, 'son of God'?
forename 'Jesus', eventually 'dropped' as the cult's theology evolved
and 'believers' were offended by the Saviour's name being shared with a
It would not be 'out of
place', historically, if early Semitic tribes held an annual sacrifice
of the 'son of a father', of a Barabbas, a player in a ritualistic
feature of tribal life (the sacrificial goat) – rather as the soldiers
mocking the captive Jesus point to an earlier pagan ritual. Would such
a possibility help explain the disparity between the triumphant entry
of Jesus into Jerusalem (on one or two animals?) – for which there is
no evidence – yet only a week later that same multitude was
'Let him be crucified!'. Philo of Alexandria (20BC - 50AD)
tells of a
piece of mummery staged at his home town (aimed at King Agrippa,
grandson of Herod), which seems to have represented a more ancient
custom. A crazy man named Karabas is said to have paraded as a
make-believe king, with tinsel crown, a sceptre and purple robes.
Karabas is clearly a misspelling of Barabbas (see Frazer (8)); the
story of a prisoner mocked by Roman soldiers quite out of keeping with
Roman discipline and the equally fantastic story about a Jewish mob's
preference for Barabbas, would become harmonized as a reminisce of a
Semitic carnival – which in turn carried vestiges of earlier human
sacrifices of the firstborn by his father, eventually replaced by the
sacrifice of the paschal lamb (Ex. 22:29).
In similar style, the
bizarre teaching methodology of Jesus, using parables in order that
listeners, including his intimate disciples, do not understand the
message he is giving them is foreshadowed by Isaiah, whom the
cites!, while the actual 'messages' of Jesus are foreshadowed in
Isaiah, "Is not this the fast that I have chosen…to deal thy bread
the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy
house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him… Then shall thy
light break forth as the morning…and thy righteousness shall go before
thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward." (9)
Indeed, all the
miraculous cures performed by Jesus are forestalled in the texts of
Isaiah. In Matthew we read: "That it might be fulfilled which was
spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and
have our sicknesses." And he makes Jesus say, "The blind
sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear",
again following the ancient prophet we read concerning the coming of
God: "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of
deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart,
and the tongue of the dumb sing", and already (in the Second
the widespread idea of one suffering in place of, or on behalf of,
another, the theme common to ancient religions as well as Christianity.
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet
esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was
wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the
chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are
healed. All we sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one
his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all… He
bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."(10)
Other psalms (all 'known
by heart' by Jewish scribes and scholars) serviced these fabrications;
Ps 69:21 reports, "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my
they gave me vinegar to drink" (see Jn 19:29/39) and two verses
comes the prefiguring of Jesus' explanation as to why he speaks in
parables: "Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make
their loins continually to shake." – the critical scholar readily
perceives how one detail after another was inserted and weaved in the
construction of the mythological journey to Gethsemane. Older myths,
from other cultures, were incorporated, but the Hebrew writings
provided the essential ingredients for inventing the Passion myth –
invariably and routinely accompanied by the explanation: 'it happened
thus, in order that ancient prophecy be fulfilled'. Here, in a very
small nutshell, we have the history of the Christian scriptures!
(1) The Golden Bough
James Frazer (abridged edn. 1960) pp 706-7
(2) See Greek-English
Lexicon (Oxford UP 1849) pp 683-4
(3) Colossians 1:15-16
(4) The Life of Jesus
Critically Examined David F Strauss (SCM Press 1972)
(5) The Quest for the
Historical Jesus Albert Schweitzer (SCM Press 2000) p 74
Besant (Part Two of 'Freethinker's Textbook' (Watts 1876)
(7) Strauss ibid p 660;
(8) The Golden Bough
(unabridged 1906-15) Sir James Frazer Vol 9: p 418
(9) Matt 13: 13-14; Mk
4:12; Is 58: 6-8
(10) Matt 8:17;
11:5 Is 35:5 ; 53:4-6
(Investigator 148, 2013
Dr Potter's renewed
attack on the Bible (#147) maintains that fabrication is indicated in a
narrative when it:
Describes "vicarious suffering";
similar to a previous story;
events occurring in threes;
Describes a person fulfilling an agenda;
Reports the occurrence of miracles.
Potter strengthens this
five-fold attack by interspersing it with examples of Bible
Potter notes that the
theme of a righteous person suffering for others is common in religion,
and he thinks this makes the Jesus story false.
Some unfair suffering,
including taking blame for another, probably occurs in every human
life. Its commonness, however, does not by itself make any particular
story of "vicarious suffering" false.
Secondly, the idea of a
suffering "saviour" starts in Genesis 3:15 and can be traced through
the Old Testament (OT). If the theme is this ancient, then its re-use
in multiple religions is to be expected.
Isaiah 53 "He is despised
and rejected of men; a man of sorrows…etc" is so descriptive of Jesus'
life that Potter thinks the similarity proves the Jesus story is myth
based on the OT.
The New Testament (NT),
however, teaches that Jesus fulfilled OT prophecy.
Much of Isaiah describes
future events to occur in "the last days". (Isaiah 2:2)
[The phrase "last days" occurs 19 times in the Bible — Genesis 49:1;
Deuteronomy 4:30; 31:29; Isaiah 2:2; Jeremiah 23:20; 30:24; 48:47;
49:39; Ezekiel 38:16; Daniel 2:28; 10:14; Hosea 3:5; Micah 4:1; Acts
2:17; Hebrews 1:1-2; James 5:3; 2 Timothy 3:1; 2 Peter 3:3]
In Daniel's time the last
days were still future and would occur with the third empire after
Babylon. (Daniel 2:39-44) Micah 4:1 refers to the last days and
foretells that a "ruler from Bethlehem" (Chapter 5) will be "great to
the ends of the earth."
The NT commences the last
days with Jesus (Hebrew 1:2; Acts 2:17) and interprets Him as the "man
of sorrows" of Isaiah 53. (Acts 8:32-35; I Peter 2:22-25)
Potter says that
vicarious-suffering stories occur among races "on a low level of social
and intellectual culture". However, some of world's wealthiest nations
also have large Christian populations. Even if this weren't the case,
being poor does not prove someone wrong.
Potter complains that
Paul "knows nothing of the everyday activities of Jesus" but knows
Jesus only as "the first born of every creature: for by him were all
things made…" (Colossians 1:15-16)
Well, I've read articles
about Napoleon in 1815 at Waterloo and the authors seemingly "know
nothing" about Napoleon's Egyptian campaign, Trafalgar, Austria,
Denmark, Spain, Portugal, and various alliances. So, did all this
history never happen? The explanation is that someone focussing on 1815
is not obligated to repeat everything prior. Paul, similarly, did not
repeat everything prior — only items of "first importance" (I
Corinthians 15:3) such as Jesus' betrayal, last supper, death, and
resurrection. (I Corinthians 11:23-26) If Paul's absence of repetition
means that the Gospels in points not repeated are wrong, then there was
also no Emperor Tiberius, no Samaritans, no King Herod, no Sea of
Galilee, and no Jordan River. It's a silly argument.
Besides foretelling the
"suffering servant" the OT also foretold a godlike "son of man" who
receives "everlasting dominion" and "kingship" over "all peoples,
nations and languages". (Daniel 7:1-14) Jesus declared himself to be
this "son of man". Paul's purpose was not merely to repeat what
Christians already knew but to proclaim this King and establish
congregations to follow him.
John likewise does not
rehash the previous Gospels, but presents Jesus as "the Word was God"
(John 1:1) and the Messiah long-awaited by Jews and Samaritans
Another evidence for
fabrication, Potter suggests, is the recurrence of "threes" — Jesus
went three times through Galilee, denounced Judas three times, and rose
on the third day, etc.
However, I went to three
schools, travelled overseas three times, went to three colleges, stayed
in Sydney three times, owned (at different times) three houses, and
currently debate with three atheists in this magazine, and grow three
types fruit in my back-yard — and I'm not fabricating!
The "threes" in Jesus'
life suggest he imitated OT precedent where certain numbers — 3, 2, 12
and 40 — are significant. The occurrence of certain events in threes
was an additional identification of Jesus as Messiah.
fabrication-argument is that some events in the Gospels imitate OT
Jesus' resurrection feats
(e.g. Lazarus) imitated the resurrections by Elijah and Elisha. Elisha
also fed a hundred men with 20 loaves (II Kings 4:42-44) but Jesus fed
5000 (John 6:1-14) and 4000. (Matthew 15:32-38; Mark 7:31-8:9)
Potter considers the 5000
and 4000 the same event "the feat improved with the passage of time".
The book Aids to the Student of the Holy Bible (c.1880)
numbered, chronological list of 161 events in the Gospels. Feeding the
5000 is Number 64 and feeding the 4000 is Number 69 — they were
The 5000-feeding occurred
on the east coast of the Sea of Galilee. (John 6:1, 22-23) Jesus then
crossed to Capernaum (6:24, 59); went to the Mediterranean coast at
Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21); and then east again to Decapolis a
region of ten cities east of the Jordan. The 4000-feeding occurred
then, near Bethsaida (Luke 9:10, 12), a village probably north-east of
the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus' imitation of OT
events was deliberate, to identify him to Jews as the foretold
"messiah". The OT indicated — by predicting a future "Elijah" (Malachi
4:5), a future "David" (Hosea 3:5-6), a second Exodus (Isaiah 11:11) —
that there would be future parallels to many events it recorded.
Speaking generally — the
concept of following a similar path as predecessors occurs all the
time. Students follow similar studies as earlier students to reach
similar career-goals and aspiring champions follow similar training as
previous champs. This goes on everywhere and does not prove that
previous achievers and current ones are myths.
Another Potter argument
for Jesus being a fabricated "legend" is the correspondence between
Jesus and the OT Psalms.
In words from Psalm 22:1
Jesus, on the cross, called out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken
Potter doubts anyone
heard Jesus. The Gospels, however, mention within talking distance
soldiers, passers-by, priests, scribes, elders, bystanders, women
disciples, Jesus' mother, and John. (Matthew 27:27-36, 39, 41, 47,
55-56; John 19:26)
Potter claims that Psalm
22:16 in the Septuagint reads "They tore my hands and feet" and
Christians altered this to "They pierced my hands and feet." A large
nail punched through one's body would do both — pierce and tear. My
copy of the Septuagint Greek and English Old Testament has
pierced my hands and feet" (22:16), but footnotes to 22:16 in some
Bibles state: "Meaning of Hebrew uncertain." (NRSV)
"fulfilled" many Psalms — just as he imitated Elisha and other OT
heroes — again to demonstrate to Jews that He is their Messiah.
Potter's claim that this indicates fabrication is weird since people
follow outlines and fulfil agendas all the time:
teaching a class according to a course outline. The outline lists
lecture-dates, essay-completion dates, practical exercises, knowledge
to be examined, etc. A teacher might even say "There's always one
student who excels and comes top." Months later one student's
performance corresponds to the course-outline perfectly and other
students are witnesses. By Potter's logic the top student does not
exist and the witnesses are fabrications. Such logic places a false
assumption — that the fulfilment of an outline proves the fulfilment
didn't happen — above empirical observation.
Another example is actors
acting for a movie. The events on screen follow the written script —
but by Potter's logic the movie doesn't exist.
The "outline" Jesus
followed was pre-written in the Psalms, Isaiah, and other OT prophets.
An interesting question
is whether the Psalms, when originally written, were intended to be
prophetic of the Messiah, or whether the NT writers read the
predictions into them.
Psalm 72 is "Of Solomon"
but describes prosperity beyond anything Solomon achieved and adds,
"May he have dominion from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of
the earth." Zechariah 9 (about 500 BCE) repeats these same words and
connects them to a future king: "Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant
and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey…"
Hosea 3:4-5 reads: "For
the Israelites shall remain many days without a king… Afterwards the
Israelites shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their
king…in the latter days." This was written long after David's death and
so suggests a future counterpart to David.
In Matthew 22:41-46 both
Jesus and the Pharisees accept the Psalms as prophetic of
which suggests this was common Jewish belief.
Many prophecies of
Isaiah began fulfilment in Jesus' ministry.
Potter compares "The eyes
of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped"
(Isaiah 35:5) with "The blind receive their sight…the deaf hear".
(Matthew 11:5) He considers that such prophecy-fulfilment combinations
again indicate fabrication.
Why not go further and
call today's sight-restoring cataract operations and hearing-restoring
cochlear implants "fabrications"?
I demonstrated the
Bible's miracle narratives plausible by explaining about 20 miracles
that have scientifically testable details — See #26; #58; #78; #131.
engineering, robotics, information technology and nano-technology
suggest the Bible is right when predicting: "nothing that they propose
to do will now be impossible for them." (Genesis 11:6)
Jesus' ministry showed
locally the good things that will occur worldwide when God takes over;
ultimately including an end to famine, death and pain. (Isaiah 25:6-9;
confirmation of some of Jesus' miracles together with equivalent
healings today, and such expected from prophecy, undercut Potter's
Another Potter evidence
for the biblical Jesus being fictitious is similarities between Jesus
and various gods such as Horus and Krishna.
Potter also links the
"evolution of Hebrew religion" especially the idea of "Satan" to the
Persian preacher Zoroaster (628-551 BCE).
Such "copycat" hypotheses
were debated in #126-129 and #121-123 and can here be only briefly
Krishna's resemblances to
Jesus are the most impressive, but they originated several centuries
after Jesus, when Christianity had reached India. And Horus of Egypt
was to the Bible writers a pagan idol. The NT writers did not study
Horus but, as already discussed, they compared the OT with the Jesus.
Zoroaster's religion did
not exist in Babylon when the Jews were captive there, starting about
600 BCE. We debated Zoroaster in #121-123 and Potter failed to
demonstrate any quotes in the OT from Zoroaster.
It's possible Zoroaster
obtained ideas about Satan from Israel's "ten lost tribes" which
Assyria, a century before Zoroaster's birth, transferred to
areas of Persia. Assyria sent one Israelite priest back to Israel to
teach the new, non-Israelite inhabitants the former religion (II Kings
17:27-28) and these became the Samaritans. Israelites in captivity near
Persia would have possessed the Pentateuch and some other OT books and
likewise shared their beliefs.
The Krishna and
Zoroastrian resemblances with the Bible therefore happened in the same
way as the resemblances of the Bible with Manichaeism. Manichaeism was
founded in Persia by Mani (216-274 CE) and incorporated a lot of
reworked material about Jesus. Since Bible manuscripts from Mani's time
still exist, it's easy in this instance to confirm who copied from
Potter says that Peter
denied Christ eight times not three. By interspersing this and other
Bible "contradictions" among his above-refuted bad arguments Potter
hoped to intimidate readers into swallowing the bad arguments.
website includes my "Bible Consistent" series in which I harmonize
passages alleged to be contradictory. With many "contradictions"
already explained Potter should by now see the trend and go with the
flow and be solving some problems himself.
The Encyclopedia of
Bible Difficulties (1982) has 1½-pages on the Peter-denial
problem, so I'll leave that for another time.
Potter says that Jesus
knowing "from the beginning" that Judas would betray him contradicts
Jesus' words "when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory,
you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones…" (Matthew
"From the beginning"
refers to when the idea to betray Jesus first took root in Judas' mind.
And the words "you who have followed me" implies faithfulness until the
end of their lives and does not preclude one or more "thrones" becoming
vacant. Judas was replaced by Matthias. (Acts 1)
Potter wrongly connects
"Judas" with "Jew" and Anti-Semitism. As shown in the Anti-Semitism
debate #136-140, persecution of Jews is contrary to the New Testament.
"Judas" was a common name and two apostles were named "Judas", and the
other one was not a traitor.
Potter suggests that the
Greek word "kata" meaning "for" in the Gospel titles implies that
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John did not write their Gospels. Paul, however,
sometimes dictated to a scribe (Galatians 6:11) and other NT writers
probably did likewise.
execution Potter asks: "What interest might press a Roman procurator to
yield to Jewish pressure to take the life of Jesus?"
An obvious "interest" —
seen from reading Josephus on riots and insurrections in Judea, some
with hundreds of deaths — would be to avoid another riot. Maintaining
peace was part of a procurator's job!
Finally, who incited King
David to hold a census — God (II Samuel 24:1) or Satan (I Chronicles
A doctrinal answer comes
from the book of Job. The book describes Job losing his children,
possessions, property, health, and status. Behind these calamities is
"Satan", but Satan acts within constraints defined by God. (1:12; 2:6)
The Bible therefore attributes evil to Satan as its originator or
source, and to God because God permits it. In David's case this
doctrine tells us that Satan overtly "incited" David to disobey God,
and God indirectly "incited" David by permitting Satan to do it.
I've now shown that
Potter's attack on the Gospels as myth is speculative and unsound.
Sound evidence in
contrast is the following which has been presented in Investigator
The total confirmed
geographical locations, historical people, historical events,
scientific points, and prophecies in the NT — I repeat "confirmed", we
can check them — number hundreds. These testable statements prove the
accuracy and inspiration of the Bible. If we rely on what can be
checked by observation and science — such as the Star of Bethlehem,
9-month-long pregnancy, fetuses responding to sound, 100 geographical
locations mentioned in Acts alone, and much more — then the NT is not
"saturated with fiction" as Potter claims but saturated with truth.
That deserves repetition — The New Testament is saturated with truth.
To discover this, Potter must judge by the testable facts not by
Does history depend on
the "Silence of the dead?" No, real history depends on testing what is
testable, checking what is checkable, and finding which sources are