items appear below:
is False #76
of the NT Documents #77
to Keith Cornish #77
for Jesus was Rigged #78
CHRISTIANITY IS FALSE
Keith S Cornish
(Investigator 76, 2001 January)
The essential dogma of
Christianity is summarised in John 3:16 God so loved the world that
he gave his…son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but
have everlasting life.
The only indication that
Joshua (Jesus) of Nazareth ever lived is contained within the gospels,
particularly four in the New Testament. Assuming that he was born
during the reign of Herod, then his death would have been around 30CE.
From the evidence
contained in the letters of Paul to his churches they were written
between the years 52 and 62CE but nowhere is there any mention of the
gospels, so one can assume that they were written later from the
memories of someone who knew or knew of Jesus.
The gospel of Mark is
acknowledged as the earliest and is the work of a Roman, for no Jew
would be given a name from the oppressing race.
As Matthew and Luke follow the
precise sequence of events as does Mark, it is obvious that they had
access to his gospel, so it is interesting to note how they have
expanded and altered his story.
It is important to
recognise that the earliest gospel manuscripts date from the 4th
century so errors in transcribing would have appeared as theology
changed. Remember that the official divinity of Jesus was established
by the vote at the Council of Nicea in 325CE and the list to be
included in the New Testament was decided at the Council at Hippo in
Jesus was a Jew and it is
almost certain that he was subjected to the best education available in
Jerusalem at that period and therefore was fully aware of the Old
Testament with its prophecies and expectation of a Messiah (Christ) who
would renew the moral standard of Jews. This was necessary so that
their god Yahweh could free them from the oppression of Roman rule.
Jesus specifically says
that his mission is to the Jews and instructs his disciples not to go
to the Gentiles. He endorses the keeping of the minutest detail of the
Jewish law but emphasises that it is summed up in the two commandments
to love Yahweh and to love fellow Jews. Nowhere in the gospel of Mark
does he claim to be the son of god but stresses that he is the son of
man who is proclaiming the good news of the coming of the kingdom of
He sees this kingdom
being established not by a Jewish insurrection but by a divine force of
angels. His knowledge is restricted to that of the Old Testament with
its myths of creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses and the Passover of
the Jewish captivity in Egypt. All of which we now know to be
Being aware of the
commandment in regard to drinking blood, he certainly could not have
instituted a ceremony where that is the central feature. He believed in
a blissful heaven and a hell of torment and in spirits. Nowhere in
Marks gospel is there any suggestion that he came to found a new
The 'just believe'
doctrine of Christianity is entirely the work of Paul who was always at
loggerheads with the disciples of Jesus. It was Paul who conceived the
idea that Jesus was the Son of Yahweh, the sacramental lamb who was
crucified for the sin of mankind. Human sacrifice to appease the gods
is a very primitive and ancient idea discarded by Jews long before the
time of Jesus. It is morally disgusting.
Christianity or the
religion of the Messiah has nothing to do with a Joshua of Nazareth but
is the invention of Paul of Tarsus.
Humans can only survive if their
code of conduct is determined by reason and not by religion, by facts
and not by faith.
The foregoing is a basic
premise of a new book, Origins of the Christian Faith, by Steve
Cooper who then explores the character of Paul.
THE RELIABILITY OF THE NT DOCUMENTS
Carl Olof Jonsson
(Investigator 77, 2001 March)
The claim of Keith S Cornish, that
"Christianity is False" (Investigator No. 76, January 2001, pp.
20-21), cannot be supported by any statement of his. His first
paragraph that the Christian faith is summarized in John 3:16
is correct, and probably also his last, that his article is "a basic
premise" of a new book by Steve Cooper, Origins of the Christian
Faith. But nearly every paragraph between these two contains
serious errors. As a reply has to be shorter than his article, I am
forced to point out only some of the mistakes:
In §2 Mr. Cornish states that
the "only indication" that Jesus ever lived is contained in the four
gospels. This is not true. All history is primarily based upon
eyewitnesses. Although it is "only" the four gospels that contain detailed
accounts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, all the 27
books of the NT are written by individuals who were either eyewitnesses
or in close contact with other eyewitnesses. Thus, although Peter did
not himself write a gospel account (Mark did it for him, according to
Papias), his two letters forcefully testify to the factuality of Jesus'
death and resurrection. So do also the letters of James and Jude, both
of whom were brothers of Jesus.
Luke and Paul both had close
contacts with many of the original eye-witnesses, and Luke explicitly
states that he had carefully checked everything from the beginning by
the aid of "original eyewitnesses" (Luke 1:14). All the NT documents,
therefore, must be regarded as primary sources. Taken together their
testimony about Jesus Christ is enormous compared to the historical
documentation for most other individuals in the first century.
In §3 Cornish admits that
Paul's letters date from as early as about 52-62 CE, but adds that, as
he nowhere mentions the gospels, "one can assume that they were written
later from the memories of someone who knew or knew about Jesus." It is
true that Paul does not directly mention the gospels, but this in
itself does not indicate that all of them were written later. Some of
Paul's letters clearly reflect knowledge of the contents of some of the
gospels. One example is I Thess. 5:1-8, which is based on Jesus'
statements recorded in Matt. 24:36-44; Luke 17:26-30, and 21:34-36.
(See Joseph Plevnik, Paul and the Parousia, Hendrickson Publ.,
1997, pp. 99-121)
There is no evidence to
show that the gospels were written late, or that Mark was the earliest.
Matthew and Mark may very well have been written in the 40's, as Dr.
John Wenham has argued recently. (Redating Matthew, Mark & Luke,
Hodder & Stoughton, 1991) In fact, any evidence to show that any of
the NT documents were written after AD 70 is totally lacking, as was
ably demonstrated by Dr. John A. T. Robinson. (Redating the New
Testament, SCM Press Ltd, 1976)
In §6 Cornish claims
that "the earliest gospel manuscripts date from the 4th century so
errors in transcribing would have appeared as theology changed." Again
he is wrong. True, the two great codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus
both date from the 4th century. But there are numerous NT
papyrii containing various parts of the NT documents that are up to 200
or more years earlier. Just a few examples of the gospel mss: P104
and P64 (containing parts of Matt. 21 and 26) are dated to c.
125-150 AD; P77+P103 (parts of Matt. 13, 14, 23) to c.
150-190; P4 (Luke 1-6) to c. 150; P75 (Luke 3-24 + John
1-15) to c. 175; P66 (John 1-21) to c. 150; P52 (John
18:31-33, 37-38) to c. 100-125; and P45 (Matt. 20-26; Mark.
4-12; Luke 6-14; John 4-11; Acts 4-19) to c. 200 AD.
All the earliest of the NT papyrii
have recently been published with translations and discussions of dates
etc. by Philip W. Comfort & David P. Barrett (eds.), The
Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts (Baker
There is considerably more
evidence of the historicity of the NT than of any other ancient
writings from the first century or earlier. Compared to the about 5,000
extant manuscripts of the NT, some of which are dated to the middle or
early 2nd century, the manuscripts of most other ancient writings from
that time are few and usually very late. For example, of the writings
of Flavius Josephus, written in the last quarter of the 1st century AD,
there are only a few dozen manuscripts at most, dating from the 10th
century and later. Of Tacitus' Roman History (written c. 100
AD), the only manuscript, containing four and a half of the 14 books,
dates from the 9th century AD. And of his Annals, there is
again only one manuscript containing 10 of the 16 books and dating from
the 11th century.
It may safely be said that no
events of the first century are so well and securely documented as
those connected with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Anyone who questions this is challenged to provide another example and
describe the documentary evidence.
REPLY TO KEITH CORNISH #76
(Investigator, 77 2001 March)
Mr Cornish is correct in calling
John 3:16 God so loved the world that he gave his only son the
"essential dogma of Christianity." Some of his other claims are,
For example: "The earliest
manuscripts date from the 4th century so errors in transcribing would
have appeared as theology changed."
True, the earliest
manuscripts of the entire New Testament (NT) may be 4th
century. However, we have 5,400 ancient manuscripts with portions
of the NT and a few are 2nd century.
Ancient papyri now have a
catalogue number as well as an international name consisting of "P"
plus a superscript numeral. The John Rylands Papyrus 457 (P52)
is located at the John Rylands Library, Manchester, England. This
papyrus has several verses of John's Gospel…and is dated around 120 AD.
It was found in Egypt in 1934.
The John Rylands Papyrus
457 (P52) is noteworthy because its discovery refuted
arguments that John was written near 200 AD. The NT itself indicates
John's Gospel was written in the 1st century. Since we have a fragment
from a copy from about 120 AD the NT appears to be correct.
This demonstrates the
point I keep making that thousands of statements in the Bible only seem
wrong because the scientific evidence is incomplete but are being
proved right and the critics wrong one after another as science catches
Another example may be
the Gospel of Matthew. Although lacking 1st century manuscripts
scholars place its construction to about 80 AD.
The "Magdalen Fragments"
of Matthew were purchased in Egypt in 1901 and donated to Magdalen
College, Oxford. Photos were published in 1953. The fragments,
initially dated to 200 AD, were largely ignored because: "there were
already 37 other New Testament papyruses from the 2nd and 3rd
centuries." (Schoenthal, R. Time magazine, January 23, 1995)
Peter Thiede, of the
Institute for Basic Epistemological Research in Padeborn, Germany, is
an expert in ancient papyrus manuscripts. He examined the handwriting
style in the Magdalen fragments and placed it to before 70 AD!
However, the debate is still on.
Regarding the NT as
whole: Scholars known as "textual critics" study and compare the 5,400
ancient NT portions available and work out the original wording of the
NT. The Englishman's Greek Concordance of the New Testament has
an appendix listing thousands of "various readings. Because of the work
of textual critics it's been estimated that only 1/500th of the
original NT wording is still in doubt.
Mr Cornish says: "Adam and Eve,
Noah, Moses and the Passover…we now know to be false."
The Adam & Eve story
has ideas that have scientific support such as:
humans started at one location and spread from there;
I may further discuss
these points another time.
2 All humans are
genetically similar, derived from one mother;
3 Divisions called
"races" are recent and arbitrary; this implies notions of racial
superiority and political action based on them are mistaken.
The conviction that Moses
and the Passover are myth follows largely from the documentary
hypothesis of Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918). According to Wellhausen
the Books of Moses were composed by four writers and combined into one
document in the 6th century BC.
hypothesis is under siege. Like hundreds of other former attacks on the
Bible it may end up proved wrong. K A Kitchen (1995), for
there is quietly mounting evidence that the basic inherited outline
from the Patriarchs through the Exodus to Israel's entry into Canaan,
the united monarchy and then the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah,
and the exile and return – is essentially sound. There is no need
whatsoever to "reconstruct" early Hebrew history. Wellhausen's
enterprise was an appalling bungle. (Biblical Archaeology Review,
Volume 21, No. 2, 1995 March/April, p. 94)
Regarding the doctrine of
Christ being crucified for human sin on the cross Mr Cornish says:
"Human sacrifices to appease the gods is a very primitive idea, morally
The Bible in principle
agrees: "And they burn their sons and their daughters in the fire;
which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind." (Jeremiah 7:31;
Why, then, the doctrine
of Jesus being sacrificed to save humanity? According to the Bible the
first humans, Adam and Eve, communicated and cooperated with God. They
then chose to go their own way, live independently of God, and invent
their own standards of right and wrong.
Later some humans sought
on their own initiative to restore a semblance of the original
relationship by sacrificing animals and grain to God. (Genesis 4)
However, God does not need anything from us. What pleased Him is the
attitude behind the sacrifices:
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm
Animal sacrifices even
with a "contrite heart" could, however, never compensate for all the
hurt humans do to each other. Given that humans chose sacrifices as the
way to go, what was needed was a sacrifice that reflected the value of
Adam and Eve before they sinned and also the value of all humanity.
Humans could never supply this but God could. Required was a sinless,
perfect "Messiah"/"Son of God" who would die for all.
As time passed humans
began sacrificing to gods of their imagination and to idols they
invented. They even sacrificed fellow humans. The Aztecs before the
Spaniards intervened murdered thousands of people every year.
Yes, the sacrifice of
humans to imaginary deities is disgusting – the Bible agrees. The
doctrine that "God gave his only son", however, is not. Its biblical
roots lie in animal sacrifices initiated by humans and God adapting the
idea. The doctrine teaches God's love for humans, His humility in
cooperating with them, and humanity's great value. Consequently it's a
lesson in compassion and reconciliation.
EVIDENCE FOR JESUS WAS RIGGED
(Investigator 78, 2001
Both Jonsson and
Anonymous seem impressed because some New Testament manuscripts date to
the 2nd century. (#77) However, their antiquity alone does not prove
their contents are reliable.
After Jesus died a lot of
different writings and gospels about him came into existence. They're
listed in The Apocryphal New Testament, 1924. (My edition is
from 1986 by Oxford University press.) The early Christian Church
decided which gospels to accept and preserve. One basis for selection
was that the documents be consistent with each other and accurate at
least accurate to the extent that the Church, centuries after the
events, could confirm. We should not therefore be surprised if the New
Testament is fairly consistent and much in it even accurate, for it
consists of documents chosen for these features.
The gospel of Mark
believed to be the earliest gospel has a secrecy plot: Jesus repeatedly
tells people whom he miraculously cured not to tell anyone. Could,
however, the resurrection of a girl witnessed by a small crowd really
be kept quiet? (Mark 5)
This secrecy plot can be
explained if Mark found no evidence of Jesus' more-impressive miracles
and needed to explain this absence of proof. Mark's explanation, in
effect, is that Jesus commanded some whom he healed to keep silent
F. R. (Adelaide)