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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Prophecy Fulfilled – Evidence that Supports the Bible

Posted by jlwile on February 10, 2010

Norwegian Shooter’s latest comment got me thinking about my journey from atheism to Christianity. As I look back on that journey, I realize how similar my experience was to that of Dr. Esther Su. As a scientist, I have to believe in things that are rational. As a result, when a girl who I wanted to date kept talking to me about Christianity, I dismissed it, because the brainwashing I had received from authors like Bertram Bertrand Russell indicated that Christianity was not rational. Of course, as is the case with most brainwashing, that turned out to be 100% false, but it took me a while to figure that out.

This girl eventually took me to a debate between an atheist who was a scientist and a Christian who was a scientist. The debate was interesting, but what was more interesting was that the Christian gave several references that I could read to learn more about the shocking idea that Christianity is rational. I reluctantly looked into some of those references, and eventually, I learned that atheists had lied to me most of my life.

One of the more profound books I read (Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell) spent a great deal of time discussing prophecies in the Bible. Essentially, the argument was that if the Bible is the Word of God, it should have some qualities that distinguish it from any other work of literature. One of those qualities is that it is incredibly accurate when predicting the future.

The author lists many, many prophecies in the Old Testament that came true in history, but by far the most impressive are the ones about the coming Messiah. We know that the entire Old Testament was written by no later than 250 BC, because the Greek Septuagint was done during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, which occurred between 283 and 246 BC.1

So we know that the prophecies about the coming Messiah were written long before Jesus, but their accuracy is simply stunning. The one that probably did the most to convince me that there is a supernatural quality to the Bible is found in Zechariah 11:12-13. In this passage we read:

I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Does any of that sound remotely familiar? We know that Christ was betrayed by Judas for the “magnificent price” of 30 shekels of silver (Matthew 26:15). Once Judas saw what was happening to Christ as a result of his betrayal, however, he returned to the temple (the house of the Lord), and he threw the silver pieces in a fit of remorse and rage (Matthew 27:5). The priests, who were more than happy to give him the money to betray his friend, were meticulous about the details of the Law. Thus, they could not put the money back into the treasury, so they used it to purchase a field for the burial of strangers. The field was named “The Potter’s Field” (Matthew 27:7).

Now this is just one of a huge list of prophecies that all came true in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. There is a prophecy that tells us that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), but there is another that says He would be called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1). There is even a prophecy about what would happen to His clothes when He was killed (Psalm 22:16-18). In the end, there are as many as 332 prophecies in the Old Testament that all come true in the details surrounding Christ.2

While the accuracy of the Bible at predicting the future is not the only reason I came to Christ, it was a big factor – something that the scientist in me simply could not ignore.

REFERENCES

1. Thomas Hartwell Horne, An introduction to the critical study of the Holy Scriptures, Volume 1, T. Cadell, p. 264, 1839
Return to Text

2. Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Here’s Life Publishers: San Bernardino, CA, 1979, pp. 175-176
Return to Text

Comments

50 Responses to “Prophecy Fulfilled – Evidence that Supports the Bible”
  1. Josiah says:

    How would you respond the the statement that as the new testament (or other account of fulfilled miracle) was written after the prophesy, it is either a case of self-fulfilled prophesy or fiction built around the prophesy. i.e. Mark, Luke etc knew all that so they stuck in the bits of the story to match?

    I quite like the prophesies of Daniel because they seem almost immune to such criticism, but I recall that proving his existance and lifespan has shown itself to be very difficult.

  2. jlwile says:

    That is an excellent question! There are at least two ways to approach such issues:

    1. If you put the Bible through the tests used to evaluate historical documents (the internal, external, and bibliographic tests), you find that the Bible is a more accurate source of history than any other document of its time. Thus, while it is POSSIBLE that the events recounted in the New Testament are simply made up, the chance of that being the case is extremely low. All unbiased tests indicate that the accounts are genuine.

    2. Many of the prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament were not generally recognized as Messianic prophecies. Thus, if someone were trying to make up a story that would fulfill Messianic prophecies, he or she would not know to produce a history that fulfilled many of those Scriptures. For example, Hosea 11:1 could be read as just an indication that Israel is the Son, being called out of Egypt during the time of Moses. Thus, someone trying to invent a history about the Messiah would not think to include something that would fulfill that prophecy. Only once the flight into Egypt happened would you see that Hosea 11:1 also refers to the Messiah.

    I agree about the Daniel prophecies. For example, Daniel 9:24-27 in conjunction with Zechariah 9:9 indicate the exact day that Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. However, the interpretation of those Scriptures is NOT straightforward.

  3. “the argument was that if the Bible is the Word of God, it should have some qualities that distinguish it from any other work of literature.” Okay, but what if the Bible isn’t the Word of God? Don’t you have to provide evidence that it is to make this assumption?

    Can’t you find a more recent source about the age of the Old Testament than 1839? There’s been quite a bit of bible scholarship since then. Also, when the Septuagint was composed is not important, as edits might have been made since then. More important is the age of the oldest extant copy of the entire OT. Do you know how old that is?

  4. jlwile says:

    I think you misunderstand how science is done. A hypothesis is generated, predictions are made based on the hypothesis, and then those predictions are compared to the data. If the predictions are confirmed by the data, the hypothesis becomes something that is reasonable to believe. The more predictions that are confirmed, the more reasonable the hypothesis. Enough successful predictions, and the hypothesis can be elevated to the status of theory. In this case, the hypothesis is that the Bible is the Word of God. If the hypothesis is not correct, one would expect its predictions to fail when compared to the data. However, I do agree with you that the Bible not being the Word of God is also a possibility. It just doesn’t seem to be a very likely possibility, given the wealth of data that support the idea that it is the Word of God.

    I suppose there are more recent books about the Old Testament. However, that’s the one I read, so it’s the one I reference. That’s how scholarship is done.

    When the Septuagint was composed is quite important, actually, as it indicates the latest possible date when the Old Testament as a whole was put together. If you are worried about changes being introduced after that, you have to look at the bibliographic test, which attempts to determine whether or not a manuscript has experienced change over the years. The Old Testament passeds the bibliographic test very well, indicating that few changes could have been inserted since the original manuscripts which, of course, are even older than the Septuagint.

  5. Ray says:

    Smarten up. The writers of the New Testament had access to the Jewish Torah. Of course they are going to make sure that certain prophecies and historical “facts” are in agreement and line up. If you are truly looking for Truth then I suggest that you spend some time looking for independent (outside of the Bible) sources that verify prophecies, miracles and facts about Rabbi Jesus. Good luck on that. Otherwise you are simply gathering “evidence” from the choir that you are preaching to. And by the way, the great mathematician and logician that you reference is Bertrand Russell not Bertram.

  6. jlwile says:

    Ray, you really need to study more on this subject. There are, in fact, non-Biblical sources that confirm Biblical prophecies. For example, the day on which Christ died is an established date in history. On that day, two non-Jewish, non-Christian historians (Thallus and Phlegon) confirm that darkness spread across the land at noon. This is in fulfillment of the prophecy found in Amos 8:9, “It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord GOD, “That I will make the sun go down at noon And make the earth dark in broad daylight. ”

    In fact, the historicity of the New Testament has been confirmed time and time again, through both archaeology and non-Christian historians of the day (such as Josephus and Tacitus). As I replied to Josiah, the Bible would not pass the historical tests of accuracy as well as it does if it were full of a bunch of made-up stories. Thus, the idea that somehow the writers of the New Testament made up the fulfillment of prophecy (some of which wasn’t even recognized as prophecy then) is just not reasonable. You can believe that if it makes you more comfortable, but it is certainly not the rational position to take.

    Thanks for the correction on Russell’s name!

  7. Kyle says:

    Ah, I had a response to that in case you weren’t available, Dr. Wile. :-) (Wouldn’t have been as good, though). I remember that part of one of your Science Textbooks with the three forms of accuracy tests. Fun Stuff :-D

  8. jlwile says:

    Well done, Kyle! Perhaps I should shut up and let my readers respond.

  9. Kyle says:

    No, don’t do that! You always have something amazing to respond with. And besides, my response was only going to point out what you had said in your reply to Josiah. Most of the time I have no idea how to respond to those types of questions. :-)

  10. Ray says:

    For an alleged scientist you certainly do not display much rigor or structure in your thinking. The Bible does describe some events that can be verified by documents and first-hand accounts (example, the burning of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD). So what? Now here comes the difficult part… so concentrate: being true in SOME areas does not mean it is true in ALL areas. The descriptions of the miracles and prophecy fulfillment have no independent verification. They are fictionalized (gasp!) stories written by people who had an agenda to advance.

    Julius Africanus, a 3rd-century AD Christian writer, mentions a Thallus and Phlegon who allegedly wrote about “a darkness”. The major weakness in this attempt to find contemporary confirmation of the midday darkness, however, is that Africanus did not actually quote his sources. He simply said that Thallus and Phlegon said something about it. Amazing isn’t it, that no other writers who commented on eclipses and earthquakes mention such an event. Would you stake your credibility and career as a scientist by quoting a second hand source who mentions a third-hand source?

    Jesus himself is probably a fictional character. Historical documentation of the authenticity of the historical Jesus is not without problems. Josephus, a known 1st century Jewish historian, makes two minor references to a Jewish teacher and miracle worker. There is no reputable historian who is certain that the quoted source is authentic. The oldest copy of his writings dates from the 13th century.

    Tacitus, while writing about Nero, mentions a “Christus” as a person convicted by Pontius Pilate during Tiberius’ reign, but says nothing about miracles. Tacitus lends credibility only to the possible existence of a Jewish teacher and leader of a group calling themselves Christians.

    The most interesting question about your writing is what motivates a person like you to engage in such obviously construed and misleading arguments? Why is there such a forced and fraudulent effort on your part to validate something that has a two thousand year history of confusion, alterations and outright lies?

  11. jlwile says:

    Ray, you really need to study this more, as you seem to have a lot of misconceptions on this issue. Thallus is a recognized historian, being mentioned in about 180 AD by Theophilus as well as Eusebius. We have fragments of several of his works, in the forms of quotes from these people. Phlegon is also a recognized historian, being referenced by Eusebius, Photius and Syncellus. You can try to imagine that these two historians didn’t exist or didn’t write about what they were known to have written about, but that doesn’t change what they actually did write about. Once again, if you want to be rational, you need to actually learn about these issues.

    To claim that Jesus was probably a fictional character really does demonstrate the fact that you haven’t really looked into this issue much at all. Indeed, not only is he mentioned by Josephus and Tacitus, he is also mentioned by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas and Pliny the Younger. In addition, Josephus actually mentions the resurrection: “And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.” (Arabic translation of the Testimonium). Thus, your claim that miracles are not referred to in extraBiblical accounts of Jesus is just plain wrong.

    In addition, while you might be predisposed to discount miracles, there is non-Biblical support for some of the miracles in the Bible. The excavation of Jericho, for example, indicates that the walls of the city fell outward, as one would expect from the Biblical account of the miracle at Jericho, and opposite of what one would expect from a siege.

    The motivation of my writing is quite simple, Ray. I am a scientist. As a scientist, I must go where the data lead, regardless of whether or not I like the conclusion. That’s what led me from atheism to Christianity – the scientist in me was forced to follow the data, even though I did not want to believe. As a science educator, it is important for me to communicate the data to others as well. I wonder what motivates someone like you to ignore the data and try to “explain around” it.

  12. Ray says:

    Jay, you are raising “straw men” issues and ignoring the specific questions I ask you. You talk about data leading you to the truth but again I repeat: there is NO independent verifiable data about Jesus and his miracles. None. No data anywhere, none at all. There was no darkened sky. There was no resurrection. Biblical references are useless as a means of verification. When ancient historians mention his name and his followers and write that his followers believed that he performed miracles this does NOT qualify as empirical data that verifies a hypothesis. I know that a true scientist would understand this. Again I ask you to concentrate because here comes something requiring thought: Empirical data would be original documents written by a credible eye-witnesses describing miracles performed by a Jewish apocalyptic teacher named Jesus, or a credible historian quoting a known document describing such an event. Do you understand that? The gospels were written 100-200 years after the death of Jesus. None of the writers knew him. The Jewish mystic,Saul, never met Jesus. As a scientist, you should be skeptical of any claims to events that violate known principles of physics and chemistry. That you seem to be wide-eyed with wonder about miracles is again an indication that you are not a very rigorous scientist. Most likely, you’re just a gullible, lost man looking for a way out of an empty life.

  13. jlwile says:

    You can yell and scream as much as you want, Ray, but that doesn’t change the facts. There was a darkened sky, and there is independent historical evidence that it happened. You try to dismiss it, but it is clearly there. There is a significant amount of extraBiblical history confirming the New Testament record. Indeed, there is even an independent historical account of the resurrection. Closing your eyes to these data does NOT make them go away.

    Not surprisingly, you are also wrong about when the gospels were written. The gospel of Matthew, for example is generally held to have been written between 50 and 70 AD. However, we know for certain that it was written LONG before 115 AD, since Ignatius quotes it, and he died in 115 AD. The John Rylands papyrus fragment of the gospel of John comes from EGYPT, and it is dated at 135 AD. Since it would take quite some time to get down to Egypt, it was obviously written MUCH earlier than that. It is consider the last of the gospels to be written, and the general view is that it was written between 80 and 90 AD. These accounts are all written by credible eyewitnesses, and their accounts have been partially confirmed by other sources.

    I am sure you would like to think that it is impossible for a rigorous scientist to believe what the data clearly say. If that makes you sleep better at night, that’s fine with me. I write for those who really want to know what science says about such things. You can deny the data as much as you like, but the fact that I have shown nearly every one of your statements to be grossly incorrect shows that you haven’t really studied this at all. Scientists study issues and follow them to where the data lead. You should try it sometime!

  14. Ray says:

    Jay, I’m a patient person. I’ll repeat the known facts to you. The writers of the four canonical gospels were not eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus. No modern historian says otherwise with any credible evidence to support his view. Matthew used Mark and Q as his source. The age of the Ryland fragment is far from settled. Some put it beyond 150 AD. The gospels did not appear and were not mentioned in any form until after 130AD.

    Again, the main question we are discussing here is the historical accuracy of Jesus as he is presented in the four gospels. I am questioning the relevancy of the evidence that you cite for supporting claims of historical accuracy. Do you understand that? Think before you answer.

    Unlike a physical scientific experiment, historians cannot control empirical variables and run real time tests with different variables. The accuracy of an historical hypothesis about Jesus can be determined by one kind of data (evidence) only. The evidence must be an original document written by a credible eyewitness describing the actions of Jesus. Or the data must be a credible historian quoting from and identifying such a document. No such evidence exists. Nada. Nichts. Do you understand that? It is really quite a simple notion to grasp.

    Most Christians that I have met are deeply confused and frightened people who, after questioning, will usually admit that they have nothing to lose in their belief of Jesus. They are basically hedging their bet on the End of Days scenario. Your emotional investment in an intolerant, fraudulent and violent apocalyptic religion and inability to understand and focus on the historical question while claiming to be an objective scientist is evidence of severe psychological disturbances. This hypothesis can be tested. I suggest that you find an appropriate medication.

  15. Kyle says:

    Gosh, Ray, if you are just going to repeat the known facts, then you could maybe respond to Dr. Wile’s counterarguments first. Dr. Wile has already responded to your argument on the date, you’ve given no reason why his citations aren’t credible, all while repeating the same arguments over and over again without any evidence that what you are saying is true.

    And you obviously haven’t met many Christians, if that’s your opinion of us…

  16. jlwile says:

    You might be a patient person, but you simply haven’t the foggiest idea of what history says on this subject. The most accepted date of the Ryland fragment is 135 AD. Even if it were 150 AD, however, it still means that the gospel of John (the latest of the gospels) was written before 100 AD in order to have gotten to Egypt and been quoted by someone there!

    It is simply not true that the gospels were not mentioned before 130 AD. They were quoted by Ignatius, who died in 115 AD. In addition, Papias, bishop of Hlerapolis, tells us in 120 AD “Matthew put together the oracles of the Lord.” You can ignore the facts all you want. It does not change them! The gospels were, indeed, written by eyewitnesses, and the generally-accepted dates range from 50 to 90 AD. The idea that Matthew borrowed from Mark and another source is popular, but it is simply not supported by the data.

    I understand that you WANT to ignore the data and believe otherwise. You are, in fact, free to do so. However, as a scientist, I am forced to follow the evidence, and the historical evidence is very strong – the gospels are extremely historically reliable, being confirmed by both archaeology and external historical sources. I suggest that you actually investigate the evidence.

    I also understand why you are reacting in such an angry way. Most people become very upset when they see that the data contradict their deeply-held beliefs. Obviously, the data I have presented frightens you greatly, and you react by trying to assume there is something wrong with me and other Christians However, as I have clearly demonstrated, the problem is not with me. Virtually every statement you have made about the New Testament has been shown to be in error. Thus, the problem is with the “facts” you must believe in order to cling to your fervently-held views.

    Once again, the only thing I can suggest is that you actually learn the facts related to the New Testament. As I have already said – study the issue and follow the data. That’s what I do.

  17. Ray says:

    Jay, I’m not angry. I am a little irritated by your deceptive and misleading “reasoning” and your claim to scientific credentials and methods. Again, (1) which gospel writer do you claim was an eyewitness to the actions of Jesus? All of them? And (2) what original first-hand non-Biblical documentation exists that describes Jesus?

    (3)How do you come up with a 50 year transition time for the gospel of John to go from Judea to Egypt? Or did you just pull this date out of thin air?

    Gosh Kyle I’m not making any argument for or against the itinerant, illiterate fisherman apocalyptic anti-Roman revolutionary rabbi called Jesus Messiah or Jesus Christ. I do entertain the notion that he is a fictional, made-up character. But I am only asking here for original documentation, from sources outside the Bible, that describe the miracles of the rabbi. All historians mentioned by Jay are giving second and third-hand accounts.

    Jay, (4) do you think that you can make some money by playing the “scientific christian” card? Francis Collins has already beat you to that punch. But with the right marketing approach you might be able to pick up a few wayward crumbs. You’ve got the big hair and the smile. Go for it.

  18. jlwile says:

    Ray, you clearly are angry. Your laughable attempts at insulting me and other Christians show that. I am sorry that the facts anger you so much. However, once again, as a scientist, I must communicate them, regardless of how angry it makes you.

    1. The gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew, one of the 12 disciples of Christ. Thus, it is written by an eyewitness. The gospel of John was written by John, one of the 12 disciples of Christ. Thus, it is written by an eyewitness.

    2. If you mean what eyewitness testimony exists, there is none that is not non-Biblical. However, if one limits oneself to eyewitness testimony to believe anyone existed, most of the people of history never existed! While there are no eyewitness accounts other than what is in the gospels, well-respected historians of the day, such as Tacitus and Josephus, discuss him. Josephus even discusses him in the context of the resurrection.

    3. Travel was slow back then, and the gospel was not written to Egyptians. Thus, it would have taken a LONG time to get there. In fact, 50 years is probably pretty generous.

    4. I am not sure how I am supposed to be making money on a weblog. I make money from my science texts, which are wildly popular and have produced amazingly successful university students.

    Once again, I know the facts I discuss frighten you so much that you must assume I am deranged or have some nefarious motives. However, if you expended your energy actually trying to LEARN about this issue, you would be much better off.

  19. Ray says:

    Jay, it is not an intended insult on my part to make note of your density of mind. I am simply making an empirical observation.

    Only fringe religious fanatics believe that the writers of the gospels of Matthew and John were contemporary disciples of Jesus. No modern serious objective historical scholar promotes this notion.

    Discussions of Jesus by ancient well-respected historians with no citations or quotes from original documents does not serve as verifying evidence. In a court of law it would be called “hearsay”. In science it would be called “soft” or “meaningless”. I would call it deceptive, mendacious, bogus and misleading. Do you understand this? Your remark about verifying the existence of people in history is ludicrous and not deserving of further comment.

    You are obviously trying to carve out a business niche for yourself in early childhood science education within a christian context. Were you ever a tenured university professor at Ball State? Did you ever write a college level textbook? Why did you leave after only three years and go into programming?

  20. jlwile says:

    So, as usual, you cannot address the data. Instead, you try to insult those who follow the data. While this might make you sleep better at night, it is clearly not the actions of someone interested in being rational. This is not surprising, given the fact that I have demonstrated that nearly everything you have said is grossly incorrect, and you cannot even begin to defend your ludicrous statements. Instead, you claim that my data are “not deserving of further comment.” That means, “I can’t address it, and I hope no one notices.” My readers can see such evasions for what they are.

    Of course many modern serious historical scholars agree with my conclusions, as they are supported by all the relevant data.

    Once again, even your comments about me are demonstrably false. My textbooks are designed for grades 7-12, and they have produced incredibly successful university students who are majoring in science. Thus, far from “trying to carve out a business niche” in early childhood education, I am a well-established and very successful author in junior high and high school education. In fact, I left Ball State University and started consulting work in programming so as to have more time to write my science texts. I hate to repeat myself, but if you spent your angry energy actually investigating the data related to this issue, you might actually learn something!

  21. Ray says:

    Jay, you are a fraud and you know it. You are not even a very original fraud. I describe you as “frigtened” and then you use the same phrase. I describe you as “ludicrous” and then you repeat it. Logically, you cannot use Biblical writings to prove that Biblical writing is accurate. That is known as “begging the question”. You appeal constantly to “the data” but you never address the charge that your “data” is not data at all but is merely hearsay. Hearsay evidence proves nothing. Your data is hearsay. Therefore your data proves nothing. Do you understand this?

  22. jlwile says:

    Of course I am not using Biblical writings to prove Biblical writings. I am evaluating the Bible as any historian would evaluate any historical document – using the internal, external, and bibliographic tests. These tests demonstrate that the Bible is incredibly historically accurate, being confirmed by archaeology as well as other histories of the day. Once again, if you would actually spend time learning about this issue, you would understand how historical science works.

    The very fact that you cannot even begin to address the data I have given you indicates that they provide strong evidence for the veracity of the New Testament account. However, the fact that you react to it by lashing out like a little child is the best indicator that the evidence is persuasive. If you could simply dismiss my arguments, they would not make you so angry!

    As a teachable moment for my readers, you can always often tell when a person knows he cannot defend his position, because he resorts to name-calling and insults instead of addressing the issues at hand.

  23. Josiah says:

    I disagree Mr Wile. You cannot “always” tell when somebody knows their position is indeffensible by counting on their name calling. Indeed people can play devils advocate on a matter, arguing while they have found their position useless, but they may still not resort to calling insults.

    Likewise it is very easy to insult your opponent while you know they are in the wrong, particularly though not exclusively which such adjectives as “illogical”, and can easily imply that they are a liar just by reasserting a statement that has been denied.

  24. Ray says:

    Jay,I am not insulting you. I am merely labeling you with a well defined objective legal term. I was irritated at first by your fraudulent claims that your objective examination of the empirical “data” forced you, as a scientist, to accept the historical truth of the miracles performed by Jesus as described in the Bible. I saw your fraud as a predatory exploitation of people who do not understand the process of science or the rules of logic. But your responses are becoming so comical that irritation is not possible.

    (1) You are not a historian. Are you claiming to be one? What exactly are the “internal, external, and bibliographic tests” that you performed on the Bible that allowed you to pronounce it “incredibly accurate”?

    (2) The Bible is not a “historical document”. The Magna Carta is a historical document. As is the U.S. Constitution.
    The Bible is an evolved collection of stories and prayers and subjective accounts.

    (3) What is your definition of “historical science”? There is an established field of study known as the “history of science”. But there is no “science of history”. Marxists tried it, but it did not work out. Are you a Marxist?

    (4) Name one (1) theologian, currently teaching at a major Seminary or School of Divinity who has written in a published book or article that the writers of the gospels of Matthew and John were disciples of Jesus.

    (5) You say that I do not “address the data” that you have given me. What does that mean? I have said several times that your “data” is invalid and proves nothing.

  25. Wow, missed this party! Ray, welcome! How did you find Proslogion?

    “The excavation of Jericho, for example, indicates that the walls of the city fell outward, as one would expect from the Biblical account of the miracle at Jericho, and opposite of what one would expect from a siege.”

    Besides being absolutely ridiculous (wouldn’t horns and shouting from outside the walls blow them inward?), this is a false dichotomy. It is possible that the walls of Jericho fell from neither the biblical miracle nor from a siege. For instance, Thor might have snuck into the city and hammered the walls down from within. And what source are you citing about the archeology of Jericho? The scholarly consensus is that the battle of Jericho is a myth.

    PS Here is how Joshua treated the vanquished people of Jericho: “And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, both young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.” (Joshua 6:21) Nice.

  26. “The gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew, one of the 12 disciples of Christ. Thus, it is written by an eyewitness. The gospel of John was written by John, one of the 12 disciples of Christ. Thus, it is written by an eyewitness.”

    From earlychristianwritings.com:

    “It is also the consensus position that the evangelist was not the apostle Matthew. Such an idea is based on the second century statements of Papias and Irenaeus. As quoted by Eusebius in Hist. Eccl. 3.39, Papias states: “Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.” In Adv. Haer. 3.1.1, Irenaeus says: “Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome and laying the foundations of the church.” We know that Irenaeus had read Papias, and it is most likely that Irenaeus was guided by the statement he found there. That statement in Papias itself is considered to be unfounded because the Gospel of Matthew was written in Greek and relied largely upon Mark, not the author’s first-hand experience.”

  27. More good Matthew links:

    PBS Frontline:

    “The evangelist who composed the gospel of Matthew was probably a Jewish Christian, possibly a scribe. The historical evidence suggests that he wrote between 80 and 90 CE”

    From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops:

    “The ancient tradition that the author was the disciple and apostle of Jesus named Matthew (see Matthew 10:3) is untenable because the gospel is based, in large part, on the Gospel according to Mark (almost all the verses of that gospel have been utilized in this), and it is hardly likely that a companion of Jesus would have followed so extensively an account that came from one who admittedly never had such an association rather than rely on his own memories.”

    And of course, Wikipedia:

    “Most scholars today believe that ‘canonical Matt was originally written in Greek by a non eyewitness whose name is unknown to us and who depended on sources like Mark and Q.’ “

  28. jlwile says:

    Ray, I don’t mind that you are insulting me. In fact, it is rather enjoyable, as it illustrates how you are unable to defend your position! I expect my readers are enjoying it as well, which makes this exchange even more entertaining!

    1. I am not a historian. However, given the fact that you don’t even know what the internal, external, and bibliographic tests are, it is clear that I know a LOT more about historical science than you do! Those tests are the standard tests used by any historian to determine the historical value of any document. If you would bother to learn what you are talking about, you would know about them.

    2. The Bible most certainly is a historical document, given by the fact that it is confirmed by the internal, external, and bibliographic tests. Once again, learn about the science of history, and you would not embarrass yourself as much when you ineptly try to defend your views.

    3. Historical science is the scientific analysis of historical documents to determine their veracity. Once again, if you would bother to learn about these things, you would not have to ask such inane questions.

    4. Here are the ones I can name off the top of my head:

    William Lane Craig, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
    Peter Kreeft, Boston College and the King’s College
    Norman L. Geisler, Southern Evangelical Seminary
    Donald Arthur Carson, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

    There are, of course, several more, since the data support the view that the traditional authors of the gospels are, indeed, the actual authors.

    5. You have made several false claims. Each time, I have shown that your claims were demonstrably false. Instead of trying to counter the evidence I presented, you simply tried to claim that the evidence is invalid. However, claiming that evidence is invalid without any support to your claim is absurd. By ignoring the fact that the data CLEARLY show that the gospels were written LONG before the early 100′s AD, that other historians clearly mention Jesus in the context of his miracles, and that the New Testament is an accurate historical record, you show that you have no rational arguments to support your position. Instead, you are believing what you WANT to believe, regardless of what the data clearly show. Once again, this might help you sleep at night, but it clearly shows the intellectual vacuousness of your case.

  29. jlwile says:

    As usual, Josiah, you make a valid point. While it is clear that Ray cannot support his position and thus has to lower himself to name-calling, there are other valid reasons to do so. Thus, “always” should be replaced by “often.”

  30. jlwile says:

    Shooter, once again you really show that you have no idea what you are talking about. While the copy of Matthew that we have today is in Greek, we do not know what the original language was. It could well have been Hebrew. Also, the fact that Matthew originally wrote the oracles of the Lord in Hebrew does not mean that he didn’t later translate it into Greek. What the record from Papias tells us is that Matthew did, indeed, write the gospel, and it happened long before when Ray wants to believe it did. If you want REAL scholarly work on the gospel of Matthew, read this piece. “…the evidence for the Apostle Matthew’s authorship is stronger than the evidence against it.”

    The scholarly consensus certainly is not that the battle of Jericho is a myth. In fact the research clearly shows that the walls fell just as the Bible says. It is clearly not a false dichotomy. If the walls of Jericho were felled by an invading army, they would have fallen inward. Instead, the fell outward, as is consistent with the Biblical account.

  31. That’s the best you can do? I couldn’t find any journal articles written by James M. Arlandson. I couldn’t even find out what college he teaches at, although we know it is in SoCal.

    Q20 “The early church was unanimous that Matthew wrote the Gospel (and the fathers go beyond Papias’ comments, for any scholar who may be reading this article). It seems odd that the church fathers would claim a somewhat obscure disciple as the author, unless they believed the tradition handed down to them that says he wrote the Gospel.”

    Q22 “However, I believe that authoritative testimony and the coherence of the Synoptics put the questions of authorship by an apostle and dates in second place. This is a genuine option for me, provided we do not adopt an excessively late date, like the late first century or the early second century, and provided we do not conclude that the Gospel emerged outside the apostolic community. (Think of Mark and Luke who were not apostles, but who wrote when many or all of the apostles and other original eyewitnesses were still alive). As long as such testimony and coherence exist, then we have reached back as far into Jesus’ ministry as necessary to hear his words (e.g. aphorisms) and voice.”

    Q23. “During the disciples’ first mission, they no doubt accurately and reliably repeated and did what Jesus had taught and done. They were in training to proclaim his message and do his works, after he was crucified (and resurrected).”

    That’s it. If that’s REAL scholarship, I’m a money’s uncle.

  32. As for Jericho, here’s a short summary of archeological evidence that includes two sources AIG’s article cites and the author’s work as well.

    And Encyclopedia Britannica says:

    “A number of major archaeological expeditions have worked at the site [Jericho], notably in 1952–58 under Kathleen M. Kenyon, director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem; one of the main objectives has been to establish the date of the town’s destruction by the Israelites—a matter of importance for the chronology of the Israelite entry into Canaan. Most of the town of the period, including the whole circuit of the town walls, has been removed by erosion; enough survives to show only that there was a town of the period. This may have been destroyed in the second half of the 14th century BCE, but evidence is too scanty for precision.”

  33. jlwile says:

    Well, Shooter, I guess you are a monkey’s uncle, because that’s how scholarship is done. In Q20, Arlandson uses the opinions of early experts, something that is crucial in any scholarly inquiry. In Q22, he lays down constraints, once again, something that is done in any scholarly inquiry. In Q23, he draws logical conclusions from information that is well known. If you don’t recognize such writing as scholarly, it just indicates that you haven’t read much scholarly work. By the way, your research skills leave a bit to be desired, as a quick search shows that he teaches at Southern California College, Costa Mesa. His most recent work is Women, Class, and Society in Early Christianity: Models from Luke-Acts. As Howard C. Kee, Professor Emeritus at Boston University says, “This work is a substantive contribution to the current efforts to use insights from social theory to illuminate the biblical text. Arlandson has combined perceptive use of an impressive range of evidence from Greco-Roman sources (social, conceptual, and literary) with judicious application of sociological categories and structures. The result is to provide new insights and perspectives on the significant social features—with their theological implications—of the community in and for which Luke-Acts was produced.”

    If you want a “heavier hitter,” try this article by Daniel B. Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary. As he notes, “Although there are some difficulties with Matthean authorship, none of them presents major obstacles, in spite of some scholars calling Matthean authorship “impossible.” On the positive side, the universal external evidence which seems to lack motivation for the choice of Matthew (as opposed to any other apostle), coupled with the subtle internal evidence, makes the traditional view still the most plausible one.”

    Note that your short summary about Jericho indicates that the most recent evidence supports Garstang’s view, which is the view that also supports the Biblical account of Jericho: “He claims that an abundance of pottery located at the site coincides with other local pottery common to the time of 1400BC and points out that Garstang’s account does seem to describe it. Also, carbon-14 testing of a sample of charcoal from the site indicated a date of 1410 BC. The radiocarbon date seems to validate Garstang’s earlier claim that the city was destroyed around 1400 BC.” That same link tells us that the latest evidence contradicts Kenyon’s analysis, which is the evidence used by the encyclopedia. Thank you for showing that the most recent archaeological evidence supports the miracle at Jericho. Of course, this is what the AiG article I linked says as well.

  34. No, your Google skills are lacking, as Southern California College became Vanguard University of Southern California in 1999. I didn’t know the Assemblies of God owned so many colleges and universities – learn something new every day!

    What I’m looking for is a journal published article in archaeology or history that claims Joshua blew down the walls (I don’t care if it’s in or out) of Jericho. No theologians please!

  35. Whoops, forgot to mention there is no James Arlandson at Vanguard University. Where does he teach?

    BTW, bible.org seems to be a new favorite source. If it is a serious scholarly source, why is there a “Donate Now” link permanently attached to whatever its pages show? I’ve never seen that before.

  36. jlwile says:

    James Arlandson’s book review indicates he teaches at Southern California College, which as you correctly indicate, is now Vanguard University. Since he is clearly an up-and-coming scholar, he might have been picked up by another university.

    I have no idea why you think bible.org is a “new favorite source.” It is simply a website that collects and posts scholarly work. It happened to have two essays that directly relate to the topic at hand, both by serious scholars. Since I do a lot of reading, I garner from a lot of websites.

    They probably have a “donate now” button for the same reason Wikipedia has a “Donate to Wikipedia” link. It costs money to run good websites. Once again I notice your typical evasion tactic here – you can’t refute the evidence, so you try to find reasons to ignore the source. It must be hard believing what you believe, when you go to such lengths just to ignore the evidence!

    If you are looking for a journal article that claims Joshua blew down the walls of Jericho, you clearly have no idea how history and archaeology work together. Archaeology can only support or reject accounts given in historical documents. As the information you linked indicates, the most recent archaeological work at Jericho supports the Biblical account. This, of course, is directly opposed to your original claim. It is nice when you correct your own errors!

  37. Up-and-coming scholar, huh? No journal articles published, one book in 1997 and he’s only got a 0.2 FTE position at Riverside Community College. Doesn’t sound up or coming to me.

  38. That’s James Arlandson, btw. Touche on Wikipedia donations, you got me there.

  39. jlwile says:

    Real scholarship takes time, and he could very well be doing research for a grant and thus teaching only in his spare time. It is his clear knowledge in the area and keen insight that makes it clear he is an up-and-coming scholar.

    By the way, how many books have you published? How many PhDs do you have? It always seems odd when people with no accomplishments or credentials try to dismiss those who have both. Note that I am not implying you are not accomplished or credentialed in some area. It’s just clear that you are not familiar with the subjects upon which you have commented on this blog.

    hehe – thanks for the props on Wikipedia. As I have told you several times, it is better to discuss the evidence rather than try to find fault with the source. That’s the scientific approach, anyway.

  40. What I find so amusingly fascinating is your absolute inability to concede even a trivially small point to me. I could speculate that you are deathly afraid of starting down the slippery slope and falling back into atheism – but I won’t.

    But if I did, you could prove me wrong by agreeing James M. Arlandson is not an up-and-coming scholar. Here are some other tidbits. He got his PhD from UC-Riverside in 1994 at age 39. He turned his thesis, “The rise and fall of many: a socio-narratological analysis of women in Luke-Acts,” into a book in 1997. He has not published a single journal article. He spends his time writing many articles for Christian blogs and websites and teaching part-time at a community college. He’s 54 years old.

    Again, do you insist that James M. Arlandson is an up-and-coming scholar?

  41. Josiah says:

    (Q) Who actually brought up Arlandson? I think I’ve missed something, which annoys me, because I do enjoy peeking in on such a debate in which Shooter at least isn’t concurring lost points.

  42. Kyle says:

    Dr. Wile used him as a source for Authoritative Testimony in Matthew’s Gospel from Bible.org.

  43. Ray says:

    Just to review: I and several others are trying to understand two aspects about Jay Wile’s alleged religiosity: (1)How does he establish a scientific validation of the Bible’s accuracy and (2) what might be his motivations for maintaining this position?

    In this thread Wile is trying to justify his belief that scientific, logical, convincing, valid and true evidence exists both in the Bible and outside the Bible that Jesus performed miracles. He is also trying to come up with a list of reputable contemporary theologians who teach at well-known Seminary or School of Divinity and who who have written in a published book (reputable publisher)or article(reputable journal)that the writer of the Gospel According to Matthew (or John) was written by a disciple of Jesus who lived at the same time as Jesus lived. So far he has only come up with shadowy men who teach at obscure, mail-order,second-rate or non-existent schools. His documentation of a book or article is also murky. Apparently these are the people who populate his textbook market.

    One person we have failed to discuss is the one writer who is unquestionably the earliest writer on record who had Jesus as a subject. That person, of course, is St. Paul. Yet Paul acknowledges that he never met or saw Jesus. His Epistles show that he knew nothing about Jesus’ life, his works, or his teachings.

    In all the Epistles of Paul (both genuine and bogus), there is nothing about the virgin birth of Jesus. He is absolutely ignorant of the method by which Jesus is said to have come into the world. For this there can be only one explanation: the virgin birth had not yet been invented when Paul wrote. Furthermore, in the Gospels there are many accounts of the miracles Jesus is said to have performed, but you will look in vain through the thirteen Epistles of Paul for the slightest hint that Jesus ever performed any miracles.

    Paul (like Jay Wile) was a man on the make. He saw an opportunity to convert pagans and other gentiles to this new sect of Judaism (Jesus followers had not yet disassociated themselves from Jews) and used any method he could to win conversions. He eventually alienated Jews by exempting gentiles from Jewish dietary laws and circumcision. Is it conceivable that Paul was acquainted with the miracles of Jesus – that he knew that Jesus had cleansed lepers, cast out devils that could talk, restored sight to the blind and speech to the dumb, and even raised the dead – is it conceivable that Paul was aware of these things and yet failed to write a single line about them and use them as proof of the divinity of Jesus to win converts? Not likely. Not at all.

  44. Josiah: What does “Shooter at least isn’t concurring lost points” mean? Is there a typo there?

    Ray: I’m still curious how you found your way here. Also, I am in no way doubting Jay’s religiosity. (alleged). I’m not trying to understand it or his motivations either. I happen to believe Jay is being completely genuine about his faith and his science. I don’t agree with him, but I don’t try to criticize him as a person. (If I have, I apologize) But that being said, I liked your general commentary on Paul. Good points.

    Jay: “By the way, how many books have you published? How many PhDs do you have?” How can you not think of this when writing this “it is better to discuss the evidence rather than try to find fault with the source” just a few sentences later?

  45. jlwile says:

    Shooter, I am mostly doing that to tweak you. You are so dependent on the argument from authority, and that means so little to me, it is fun to try to force someone on you as an expert. Now…having said that, as someone who used to train graduate students, I can say that Arlandson does have both the knowledge and the insight to be a great scholar. Whether or not he actually does that depends on many things, not the least of which is what HE wants to do. He might be quite happy just using his intellect to help increase the scholarly writings that exist on blogs and websites.

  46. jlwile says:

    Ray, I note that once again you cannot address any of the evidence I have given you, except to try to malign the scholars whose names YOU requested. Do you really mean to say that Talbot School of Theology and Boston College are “mail-order, second-rate or non-existent schools?” Please explain exactly how you give these prestigious schools such a status. As the Wikipedia entries on William Lane Craig, Peter Kreeft, and Normal Geisler show, these scholars are not anywhere close to the “shadowy men” that you desperately want them to be. Please explain to me exactly how these are “shadowy men.” I know you are reaching for some way to discredit the people I cite because you cannot possibly discredit the case that I am making, but that’s stretching – even for you!

    It seems that you need to make yourself feel better about your indefensible position by trying to cast anyone who believes otherwise as an idiot. That might make you sleep better at night, but it doesn’t make for a very good argument. It is entertaining to watch how you try to squirm away from the evidence, though!

    Perhaps you don’t understand the very important difference between an epistle (a letter to a person or a group) and a gospel (a historical account of the life of Jesus). Paul did not discuss the miracles of Jesus because there is no need for that in the letters he wrote. He was generally addressing specific issues related to specific people or churches, not trying to tell the story of Christ. Once again, If you would actually study these issues, you would not end up writing such silly things!

    I have actually answered both questions you ask. (1) I use historical analysis as well as the evidence of supernatural characteristics in the Bible to establish a scientific validation of the Bible’s accuracy. (2) My motivation is that of a scientist and a science educator.

  47. jlwile says:

    Shooter, thanks for the vote of confidence. Ray is just unable to grasp the idea that there are people who are willing to think for themselves rather than just believe what they are told to believe.

    You have criticized me as a person in the past, but that is no big deal. I have criticized you from time-to-time, so we are probably even.

    The two thoughts: “By the way, how many books have you published? How many PhDs do you have?” and “it is better to discuss the evidence rather than try to find fault with the source” actually go together. The point is that you are trying to avoid facing evidence by dismissing any source that disagrees with you as “unreliable.” However, it is quite absurd (in my opinion) to dismiss someone who has more credentials than you do. Thus, you should address that person’s arguments instead. Until you have more credentials than the person you are trying to dismiss, you will not be very persuasive. However, if you can show that the person’s ARGUMENTS are wrong, then you have won, and you have done so without looking like a weasel.

  48. “I can say that Arlandson does have both the knowledge and the insight to be a great scholar.” But you can’t say you were wrong. I rest my case.

  49. jlwile says:

    I happily admit I was wrong when I have been shown to be wrong. I have done that with other people who post on this blog. Josiah has corrected me twice on this blog, and even Ray corrected me on one thing. I happily admitted my error in each case.

    If you actually demonstrate that I am wrong on something, then, I would be happy to admit it. However, so far, you spend so much time on the argument from authority that you don’t have the time to demonstrate I have been wrong about something.

  50. jlwile says:

    Shooter, as I think about it, I already DID admit I was wrong to you once. You correctly noted that one of my references was wrong, and I thanked you and fixed the reference.

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