2013-11-22

Top Ten Findings of the Acts Seminar

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by Neil Godfrey

originalThe Acts Seminar was a Westar Institute sequel to the Jesus Seminar. It met between March 2000 and March 2011. It was

charged with the task to develop methods for determining the reliability of Acts and produce a comprehensive guide to Acts as history. (Acts and Christian Beginnings: The Acts Seminar Report, p. 1)

The Acts Seminar Report has now been published and this post shares “the top ten accomplishments” as listed in its Introduction, pages one to four. I have decided to try to stick to these ten findings alone here and restrain myself from posting here several supporting findings that I have over the years shared from other perspectives on this blog. I am a little satisfied to see some of the views on Acts that I have been expressing here since 2006 now are backed up by this Seminar Report. That should not be too surprising, actually, since the bibliography of the Report includes several critical works that I found especially interesting and cogent and that I have addressed in various ways, sometimes as jumping boards to other conclusions, in the past. (One reason I find this particularly satisfying is that it does add some respectability to the posts I have taken the trouble to share on this blog while various scholars have cavalierly ridiculed the posts as some sort of “conspiratorial” or “hyper-sceptical” and “unscholarly” nonsense.)

In sum:

  • The Acts narrative is worthless as history of first century Christianity, but quite informative as history of second century Christianity;
  • it provides us no reason to believe that Christianity began in Jerusalem — the Jerusalem centre of the faith was a myth created for second century ideological reasons;
  • some of its characters are fictional and their names symbolic;
  • Acts was created as a type of Christian “epic” (coherent and literary throughout, not a patchwork quilt of diverse sources) and as such, we have reasons to believe, is no more historical than Homer’s or Virgil’s epics;
  • the author did, indeed, know of the letters of Paul;
  • and finally, one of its main reasons for being written was to counter Marcion’s “heresy”.

That last detail (re Marcion) is not explicitly included in the “top ten” list below. It comes from the supporting essays in the same Introduction chapter. I will expand on some of these in future posts.

So here we go. (By the way, I’ll list the names of the scholars involved at the end of this post.)

1. The Author

The author did not simply stitch together a grab-bag of various collected sources and had no interest in preserving or conveying genuinely historical information. He was an accomplished storyteller (the editors add “theologian” as an alternative to “storyteller” — they write “storyteller/theologian” — but I wonder if that would be offensive to theologians today who insist that they be respected as genuine historians, not storytellers! 😉 ) who was in complete control of his material and could turn it to whatever ideological message he wished to convey.

2. The Date

Acts was written in the early decades of the second century. The significant point to note here is that the consensus had long held that the dual work of Luke-Acts was a product of the 80s. What overturned this view for the Seminar Fellows was the “foundational work of Richard Pervo and Joseph Tyler”. Some readers will know I have discussed the works of both these scholars in depth across many posts on Vridar. (See the Index of Topics in the right margin of this blog to locate the relevant archives.)

Among the implications of this new date is that we can no longer think of the author as a companion of Paul and the work itself cannot be considered reliable testimony of the mid first century.

This conclusion has significantly undermined a vast segment of Acts scholarship that has relied on the 80s dating. (p. 2)

3. Letters of Paul were used by the author

“Groundbreaking studies by William O. Walker and others” (some of which have been referenced in posts here) have demonstrated the likelihood that the author of Acts did indeed know of the letters and theology of Paul even though they are not made explicit (sometimes even contradicted) in Acts. This is even more likely given the second century date since the letter collection of Paul was becoming known from around 100 CE.

4. Apart from Paul’s letters, no other reliable historical source can be identified

Once Acts is dated in the second century, and is determined to have used the letters of Paul, then virtually all previous scholarship on the sources of Acts has to be rethought. (p. 2)

Here we come close to the methodological arguments of Thomas Brodie that I have been recently covering. We also come within bull’s eye range of the methods I have discussed repeatedly on Vridar. Previous theories of the sources of Acts have been (in my view) convoluted and ideologically constrained. Those earlier theories have been

primarily based on the ‘remarkable’ correlation of the story of Acts with the letters of Paul.

This notion has been girded by assumption that the author was a companion of Paul and participated in some of the narrative’s events. Once we move Acts to the second century many problems and questions are resolved. “Background material or literary models” were found by the author in Josephus, Homer, Vergil, the Septuagint (LXX). These were not sources of the story itself, however.

5. Jerusalem was not the birthplace of Christianity

The Acts Seminar has shown through multiple studies that the entire Acts narrative of Christian beginnings in Jerusalem (Acts 1-7) has little historical value. This is a significant challenge to most theories of Christian origins. (p. 3)

I look forward to the day when more scholars (for similar methodological reasons) will conclude that Christianity itself did not originate with a handful of followers of Jesus being persuaded that their “Gospel/historical Jesus” had been resurrected. Can we hope that some will take the studies of the Acts Seminar on this point and continue to follow through and apply the methodology to that next question?

6. Acts not an independent source for Paul’s life and mission

Rather, the use of Paul’s letters as a source for Acts is

sufficient to account for all details of the life and itinerary of Paul in Acts. (p. 3)

How simple and elegant. (A few older posts here have given examples of this, though I had not suspected that the letters could account for “all details” as stated here.)

Significance: Scholars must now rethink how they reconstruct the career of Paul without any reference at all to Acts. (I can imagine most conservative scholars simply dismissing these Westar Fellows as hyper sceptical radicals, unfortunately, and will draw upon the same old fatuous excuses to avoid grappling with their arguments in any depth.)

7. Acts is modeled on the epic and related literature

This is not a new idea, as pointed out in the Report. What is new to the Acts Seminar

was to make this model much more functional in making hard decisions about the historical reliability of the story told in this way. (p. 3)

I have not found such conclusions “hard” to reach, myself. But then I have not invested my career in this business. To my way of thinking, if details in a narrative have an obvious rhetorical rationale and are nowhere else attested, then the simplest conclusion is that the details are entirely literary. That does not mean they may not also be historical at some point, but it does mean we have no valid rationale for assuming their historicity — until further evidence turns up.

8. Character names are created as a story-telling device

This conclusion is contrary to the common scholarly idea that when names are “preserved” in a story then they are probably based on real persons. (I have always seen this as a naive idea, especially given the way so many names, both of persons and toponyms, are clearly puns related to the theological or narrative theme being relayed.)

However, we have found that names in ancient narrative literature often had symbolic meaning appropriate to the stories in which they were found. This means that the name would therefore have been created by the author to lend verisimilitude to the story. The same phenomenon is found in Acts. (p. 3)

Is this a slippery slope? Where will it end? What will we do those symbolic names like those of the disciples themselves, and other people and places in the gospels, not to mention (according to one classicist at least) the symbolic character of the very name of Jesus himself.

9. Acts is an ideological story

It has long been understood by many that Acts is composed to promote certain ideological agendas.

What is different is the rigor with which the Seminar applied this approach. We found that the ideological goals invariably emerged as the primary key to much of the content, form, and structure of the stories in Acts. (p. 4)

I find statements like this somewhat dismaying. One of the reasons for some of the conflict that exists between a few scholars and sceptical lay folk on the internet is that among the lay readers are intelligent and reasonably well educated people who are asking why scholars don’t apply certain principles, findings and methods consistently. There seems to be so much “ad hocery” in the literature. Methodological rigour is too rarely applied consistently and consistency of argument is rare. There are always the convenient exceptions and departures that preserve the basic constructs of the overall (Acts-Eusebian) model of Christian origins. Ehrman has recently complained that critics seem to have endless time and energy to ague point after point after point after point. That to me sounds like he is tired of being asked to defend arguments against even lay readers who can identify the inconsistencies and convenient exceptions. Rather than have the courage to face up to their methodological inconsistencies too many seem to resort to appeals to their “extensive training and credentials” and to the lack thereof of those who pester them with inconvenient questions.

10. Acts must be presumed nonhistorical unless proven otherwise.

This is a reversal of the approach of many scholars in the past: that Acts can be assumed historical unless proven otherwise. This is the cumulative result of the above findings.

Surely such a conclusion ought to suggest something more. Surely it highlights that it is unsafe to simply assume a document that looks prima facie something like history can be assumed to be basically historical unless proven otherwise. That’s nonsense for so many reasons that I have elaborated upon repeatedly in the past. Historicity requires an examination of provenance, genre, and independent supporting testimony. I know of no exceptions in any non-biblical field of historical studies and I do not believe Biblical studies has a valid claim to being exceptional.

So is Acts useless as an historical source?

If Acts is useless as a source of historical information of first-century Christianity it is not useless as an historical source per se, as the editors of the Report point out. Not at all. Once we can ascertain with some more certainty something of the provenance and genre of Acts we can then appreciate how it can most validly assist historians.

As a product of the second century, Acts is a primary resource for understanding second-century Christianity. (p. 4)

The editors rightly point out, in addition, that interpreting Acts as produced in the second century is not the same as interpreting it as it was read in the second century. And they are explicitly addressing their scholarly peers who sometimes are said to confuse these two.

The names of the scholars involved

  • Rubén Dupertuis
  • Julian V. Hills
  • Perry V. Kea
  • Nina E. Livesey
  • Gerd Lüdemann
  • Dennis R. MacDonald
  • Shelly Matthews
  • Milton Morehead
  • Todd Penner
  • Richard I. Pervo
  • Thomas E. Phillips
  • Robert M. Price
  • Alan F. Segal
  • Christine R. Shea
  • Dennis E. Smith
  • F. Scott Spencer
  • Hal Taussig
  • Joseph B. Tyson
  • William O. Walker, Jr.
  • L. Michael White
  • Stephen R. Wiest
  • Sara C. Winter

 

28 Comments

  • 2013-11-22 13:44:56 UTC - 13:44 | Permalink

    This is devastating news for the Ehrmans and Hurtados of the academy, people who frequently quote Acts as a historical witness as credulously as they quote the gospels.

    Conservatives will ignore the report, or attack it, just as they did the Jesus Seminar from the same quarter.

  • John
    2013-11-22 21:01:48 UTC - 21:01 | Permalink

    I think Helms makes a good case in ‘Who Wrote the Gospels?’ that the author of Luke/Acts could have been a woman. I’ve never heard of this idea anywhere else, and I always keep this possibility in the back of my mind.

    Regarding the conclusion that Acts was “not a patchwork quilt of diverse sources,” while I agree that it is a fanciful Christian “epic” and not a “genuine history,” it at least does present itself as being aware of other writings about Jesus (Lk. 1:1-2), whether they actually existed or not (and I don’t say this to “defend” the veracity of Acts). In any event, Luke does seem to at least know Mark and/or Matthew (again, not to defend Acts). Some might also add the hypothetical “Q.”

    And while those are not necessarily diverse sources, I’m entirely on board with the idea that Luke/Acts was aware of Josephus (by reading or hearing), and this could be considered a diverse source, if not for Jeus, then at least for the time period of the setting of Acts (whatever that may be worth)

    But what about the We Document? It kind of looks like a different writing that was stitched to the end of Acts, more than simply because it says “we” and “us.” It at least stands out as being, for some reason (and I’ve know you’ve written about this in other posts), different from the rest of Acts.

    To these things, Eisenman argues that Acts may have also been aware of the Damascus Document. There are at least important themes that thread through Acts which I’ve pointed out in previous comments here have parallels in the Damascus Document, like the importance of “the Name,” and the Holy Spirit being revealed by the Messiah. I can’t flesh this out any more here now, but I feel as comfortable with this idea as I do with the idea that Luke knew Josephus.

    Again, none of this stuff is intended to defend the veracity of Acts. These are just some of the things that come to mind when I think of Acts.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2013-11-22 22:27:21 UTC - 22:27 | Permalink

      As for the “eyewitnesses” in Luke’s prologue, do read John Collin’s article or at least my blog outline of it’s main points, “What Did Luke’s Eyewitnesses See?”

      Conclusion:

      Luke’s preface can well be understood as a reference to the existence of community officers with responsibilities in connection with the logos as read and taught in the community’s schooling programme.

      I am surprised that Bauckham appears to have overlooked Collins’ very cogent argument — I believe it was published in a prominent Scottish theological journal so no excuses — in his forthcoming book. Of course Bauckham’s thesis needs the conservative translation of that preface as critical evidence to remain viable.

      The “we passages” are not confined to the last section of Luke. There are in fact four of them (iirc) in Acts. The final part of Acts is, in my view, no more different from the rest of Acts than are the last parts of most Hellenistic novels (and epics) in popular and learned literature of the day. Episodic beginnings and an extended in-depth drama at the end was a popular format ever since Homer’s Odyssey. Another view of the “we passages” (okay, it’s my idiosyncratic view) is that they serve to bring in the Roman readership to identify vicariously with each scene that presents a another move towards Rome (or Roman colony on the way) — given that Acts is a type of Aeneid substitute for the church, largely arguing for the migration and relocation of God’s HQ from Jerusalem to Rome.

      The Acts Seminar Report does have a section discussing women, and concludes that the treatment of women is not as liberal as sometimes claimed. Will post more on these.

      • John
        2013-11-23 05:05:06 UTC - 05:05 | Permalink

        Neil wrote:

        “The “we passages” are not confined to the last section of Luke. There are in fact four of them (iirc) in Acts.”

        I suppose “incorporated into the last half of Acts” would have been more accurate. I tend to regard anything after ch. 15 as “the end,” so I wasn’t thinking that “the end” could be seen to mean the last section.

        I remember that post you link to, and I will have another look at it when I get time.

  • 2013-11-22 22:40:14 UTC - 22:40 | Permalink

    “I think Helms makes a good case in ‘Who Wrote the Gospels?’ that the author of Luke/Acts could have been a woman. I’ve never heard of this idea anywhere else, and I always keep this possibility in the back of my mind”

    I have a webpage I wrote some 15 years ago demonstrating that “Luke” was a woman, and a Roman citizen living in Philippi, a Roman colony in Macedonia.
    http://historical-jesus.info/appf.html#lk

    Cordially, Bernard

    • Neil Godfrey
      2013-11-22 23:11:34 UTC - 23:11 | Permalink

      Your conclusion from the evidence you provide on that website that the author was a woman strikes me as very limited. The same evidence informs us of much more about the author. Yes, she was a woman, but also a lesbian, with a foot-fetish, and an incestuous passion for her mother, divorced and remarried (no doubt to a another woman), . . . .

  • 2013-11-22 22:55:06 UTC - 22:55 | Permalink

    “and finally, one of its main reasons for being written was to counter Marcion’s “heresy”.”

    If it was written so late, Acts would go against the “too good to be true” statements that after the resurrection/ascension the eyewitnesses of Jesus went in all the known world to make convert and start Christianity. That idea was was prevalent during the second century. Instead in Acts, others than Jesus’ disciples are starting Christianity all over.

    a) Mk16:20a (interpolation made after other gospels were known) (early 2nd century?) “And they [the disciples, right after the alleged ascension] went out and preached everywhere …”

    b) Aristides (120-130) Apology “… ascended to heaven. Thereupon these twelve disciples went forth throughout the known parts of the world …”

    c) Justin Martyr (150-160), in his 1Apology XLV “His apostles, going forth from Jerusalem, preached everywhere”.
    Also from Justin’s works:
    – 1Apology XXXIX “For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking”
    – 1Apology XXXIX “But the Gentiles, who had never heard anything about Christ, until the apostles set out from Jerusalem and preached concerning Him”
    – Trypho LIII “For after His crucifixion, the disciples that accompanied Him were dispersed, until He rose from the dead, and persuaded them that so it had been prophesied concerning Him, that He would suffer; and being thus persuaded, they went into all the world, and taught these truths.”

    d) Despite attesting ‘Acts’ in ‘Against Heresies’, Irenaeus (180) wrote in his ‘Demonstration apostolic’:
    “His disciples, the witnesses of all His good deeds, and of His teachings and His sufferings and death and resurrection, and of His ascension into heaven after His bodily resurrection—-these were the apostles, who after (receiving) the power of the Holy Spirit were sent forth by Him into all the world, and wrought the calling of the Gentiles”

    e) Also acknowledging ‘Acts’, Origen wrote (246-248), in ‘Commentary of the gospel according to Matthew’ X, 18:
    “And the Apostles on this account left Israel and did that which had been enjoined on them by the Saviour, “Make disciples of all the nations,” and, “Ye shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judæa and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” For they did that which had been commanded them in Judæa and Jerusalem; but, since a prophet has no honour in his own country, when the Jews did not receive the Word, they went away to the Gentiles.”

    Cordially, Bernard

    • 2015-06-13 15:52:58 UTC - 15:52 | Permalink

      “If it was written so late, Acts would go against the “too good to be true” statements that after the resurrection/ascension the eyewitnesses of Jesus went in all the known world to make convert and start Christianity.”

      Maybe that’s why it was written so late. The Acts seminar suggests the early decades of the Second Century; on the established dating of the extant earliest manuscripts in whole, part or fragment, I posit a date of writing in the neighborhood of 165-180 CE.

  • 2013-11-22 23:01:04 UTC - 23:01 | Permalink

    On this blog entry, I put forward evidence for Acts being written towards the end of the first century.

    http://historical-jesus.sosblogs.com/Historical-Jesus-Blo-b1/63-Dating-of-the-Acts-of-the-Apostles-b1-p67.htm

    Cordially, Bernard

    • Neil Godfrey
      2013-11-22 23:08:53 UTC - 23:08 | Permalink

      Bernard, you are back to your old tricks of simply using posts here as springboards to say, “No, that’s wrong, here’s how it really is.” That’s not engaging in argument. It’s mere advocacy. It’s arguing like some theologians. Please refresh your memory of our comment guidelines.

  • 2013-11-22 23:25:11 UTC - 23:25 | Permalink

    “Jerusalem was not the birthplace of Christianity

    The Acts Seminar has shown through multiple studies that the entire Acts narrative of Christian beginnings in Jerusalem (Acts 1-7) has little historical value. This is a significant challenge to most theories of Christian origins. (p. 3)

    I look forward to the day when more scholars (for similar methodological reasons) will conclude that Christianity itself did not originate with a handful of followers of Jesus being persuaded that their “Gospel/historical Jesus” had been resurrected. Can we hope that some will take the studies of the Acts Seminar on this point and continue to follow through and apply the methodology to that next question?”

    I agree that Jesus eyewitnesses were not the ones who started Christianity. I agree Christianity did not start from the belief that Jesus resurrected, but from the wishful thinking that the would be King (for some activist Jews) was saved in heaven and ready to come back when the Kingdom of God would begin.
    I also think Jesus’ eyewitnesses and Jesus’ family members never became Christians and did not “see” Jesus in heaven. And they did not start the Church of Jerusalem: Others did.
    Also Christianity as we know it did not begin in Jerusalem, but only a mild version of proto-Christianity did. True Christianity started among Diaspora Jews, in city like Antioch. And then Gentile Christianity was developed on the fly by Paul, with Apollos of Alexandria providing many key elements (I take Apollos has the author of ‘Hebrews’).

    All of that is explained on my website.

    Cordially, Bernard

  • 2013-11-23 02:46:47 UTC - 02:46 | Permalink

    I can’t tell from these quotes that any of the writers in this book or participants in this seminar conclude that “Jerusalem was not the birthplace of Christianity.” Does this represent your own interpretation, or is it their claim?

    • Neil Godfrey
      2013-11-23 03:25:36 UTC - 03:25 | Permalink

      It is the unambiguous claim of the Seminar. My header should have been in quotation marks. On page 3 this is listed as the third point of “The Top Ten Accomplishments of the Acts Seminar”:

      Jerusalem was not the birthplace of Christianity, contrary to the story Acts tells in chapters 1-7.

      In the discussion of the question of the historicity of the opening chapter (p. 27f), we are told that the Seminar “devoted multiple papers and discussions to this section of Acts” because of its significance for the origins and overall plot and theology of Acts, and the way this section has “dominated reconstructions of Christian origins from early times until the present.”

      Luke’s “only historically reliable resource is Paul”, we read, and for the setting of Jerusalem the commentary points to Galatians (with its reference to apostolic pillars in Jerusalem) as one of his sources for this setting. (Mark’s account of the flight to Galilee they see as more plausible. “Jerusalem would have become a dangerous place for Jesus’ followers in the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ execution.”

      On pages 44 and 45 there is a “cameo essay by Milton Moreland” titled Jerusalem in Myth and History that I hope to discuss in a future post. Of Acts’ account of early Christians in the city of Jerusalem it says,

      Yet this account is historically problematic on many counts. The early audiences and the author of Acts had no firsthand experience of the physical setting of Jerusalem. Once the city was completely destroyed in 70 CE, the city was in ruins and mostly uninhabited during the decades in which Acts was written and first read. . . . The author and audiences of Acts did not know the city as an active place of veneration; rather, Jerusalem was a site of mythic imagination that was claimed and envisioned by authors who used this (ruined) site as a powerful narrative setting.

      Dennis Smith concludes on page 30,

      Luke’s entire Jerusalem origins narrative, from the resurrection appearances to the command to stay in Jerusalem to the distinctive events in Jerusalem, is built on a Lukan fiction, constructed to lay a foundation for the apologetic story he will tell in the rest of Acts.

      Luke’s narrative is said to contradict all other stories relating to origins. It contradicts the evidence that the earliest evidence points to Christianity beginning in diversity, not unity.

      • 2013-11-23 03:35:29 UTC - 03:35 | Permalink

        Thanks, Neil, this is a very helpful clarification.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2013-11-23 03:57:37 UTC - 03:57 | Permalink

          I could have more simply added that the Westar Fellows continued their “famous/infamous” practice of voting for colours and they voted as Black/Improbable” the following propositions:

          — Disciples remained in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death;
          — First church was formed in Jerusalem and all of Christianity spread from there;
          — There was a singular beginning of Christianity;
          — The faith of the first disciples began with a resurrection event in Jerusalem;
          — Acts is correct that the sole beginning of Christian faith was the resurrection (Now that one would seem to have major implications! But I have yet to learn the extent and details of what they are saying, exactly, here.)

  • cornbread_r2
    2013-11-23 05:05:04 UTC - 05:05 | Permalink

    Do the Fellows make anything in particular about the odd behavior of the Roman authorities in Acts who completely ignore Jesus’s known followers as they openly enlist thousands of new recruits just mere weeks after their leader’s execution? IIRC, Carrier will focus on those discrepancies in his upcoming book.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2013-11-23 05:26:48 UTC - 05:26 | Permalink

      They are discussed but not within that question-frame. Only point out that the Jewish authorities opposed them as they opposed Jesus. I didn’t know anyone accepted those figures as plausible (except “true believers” but I am not interested in arguments of those who believe in angels and spirits etc). Aren’t they likely from the Old Testament accounts of deaths upon those who rebelled?

  • 2013-11-23 05:10:12 UTC - 05:10 | Permalink

    “– Disciples remained in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death;”
    I disagree (that means I am in agreement with the seminar), they went back to Galilee.

    “– First church was formed in Jerusalem and all of Christianity spread from there;”
    I agree. The first proto-Christianity church started in Jerusalem by activist/hellenistic Jews and after the Greek dispersion propagated that proto-Christianity, in cities like Antioch.

    “– There was a singular beginning of Christianity;”
    Already answered

    “– The faith of the first disciples began with a resurrection event in Jerusalem;”
    I disagree.

    “– Acts is correct that the sole beginning of Christian faith was the resurrection”
    I disagree.

    Cordially, Bernard

    • Neil Godfrey
      2013-11-23 05:14:05 UTC - 05:14 | Permalink

      Bernard, please try to understand. “I disagree” is not an argument. It is a grammatically refined form of trolling.

      • 2013-11-23 06:00:00 UTC - 06:00 | Permalink

        Neil, I would gladly explain my position if I did not feel under threat of censorship. I got cancelled messages on your blog already. I do not want to spend much time and then be cut off.
        Do you want me to explain my position, on agreement and disagreement?
        Anyway, here is a sample for the first point:

        The Galileans could not have started the movement because:

        A) According to Eusebius’ ‘The History of the Church’, 2, 23, quoting Hegesippus, a second century Jewish Christian writer:
        “James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles.”
        the “church of Jerusalem” was not initially led by the “Nazarenes”. However ‘Acts’ describes the opposite; I will come back to that later on.They [the disciples] went back to Galilee, dispersed and disowned Jesus after his arrest, according to the alleged Jesus’ prophecies in three out of four gospels:

        B) They went back to Galilee, dispersed and disowned Jesus after his arrest, according to the alleged Jesus’ prophecies in three out of four gospels:

        Mk14:27-28 “”You will all fall away” Jesus told them [the disciples], “for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. … I will go ahead of you into Galilee.””

        Mt26:31-32 “Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “`I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ … I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

        Jn16:31-32a “But a time is coming, and has come, when you [the disciples] will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone.”

        Jesus could not have been wrong in his prophecies! And these authors did not think the disciples (and followers) stayed together in Jerusalem!

        Furthermore, GJohn specifies:
        Jn20:10 RSV “Then the disciples went back to their homes.” (see “John’s gospel, from original to canonical” for further explanation)

        And the uncanonical gospel of Peter (only a fragment is preserved), written 110?-140?, has also the disciples going back to Galilee:
        “But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, wept and mourned, and each one, very grieved for what had come to pass, went to his home [and no apparition to them (or the women) in Jerusalem!]”

        Now, let’s look at the ending of GLuke, the only canonical gospel with no prophesied return home, disowning & dispersing. …”

        That’s from my website. There are more arguments on that webpage: http://historical-jesus.info/hjes3x.html
        where I follow through with the ending & gLuke and the beginning of Acts, the inconsistencies and falseties about the two.

        Cordially, Bernard

        • Neil Godfrey
          2013-11-23 06:14:47 UTC - 06:14 | Permalink

          Baloney, Bernard. You are not censored on the internet. You can post whatever you like. It’s about being “cordially Bernard” — which I presume includes the concepts of “civility” — and that means respecting other people’s spaces for the purposes they desire. If I was censoring you I would have deleted your earlier posts that were crude adverts for readers to dismiss what they read here and to turn to read your page instead. But I chose to keep the links to your site here. So where is the censorship?

          But when you post mere “I disagree” or “I have the correct view of this on this other site over here” type of stuff then of course you are doing nothing but trolling.

          If you wish to guarantee your comments appear and stay here on this blog then address the arguments presented in the posts — I mean address them with arguments that show you have thought about what is being presented and can offer reasons for disagreement — not simply “that is wrong, here is how it really is” type stuff.

          Demonstrate that you can argue your point here, including the reasons and evidence upon which you find points in my post at fault, and you will be cordially welcome. But you are not welcome on the basis of your comments up till now, and meanwhile I have bent over backwards to bend my own comment rules to ensure that readers do have links to your own site!

          • 2013-11-23 06:21:44 UTC - 06:21 | Permalink

            It is brilliant spamming to complain about censorship if copious website references don’t get through.

  • 2013-11-23 18:51:25 UTC - 18:51 | Permalink

    One reason I find this particularly satisfying is that it does add some respectability to the posts I have taken the trouble to share on this blog while various scholars have cavalierly ridiculed the posts as some sort of “conspiratorial” or “hyper-sceptical” and “unscholarly” nonsense.

    Hmmm. Now who could those scholars be??? 😉

    James McGrath? 😉
    Bart Ehrman? 😉
    Joel Watts? 😉

    (This question is strictly rhetorical, mind you. But they are the usual suspects.)

    • Neil Godfrey
      2013-11-23 23:14:19 UTC - 23:14 | Permalink

      Sadly, yes, but wait, there are (alas) more. Casey, Hurtado, Hoffmann . . . . and the Bibliblog community that reclassified Vridar (I understand they conspiratorially decided it belonged to the “conspiracy” category!) to remove it from the apparently embarrassing regular appearance among the top ten biblioblogs each month. Coincidentally Vridar was the one blog they forgot to congratulate when it made its first appearance in that top ten. 🙂

      • 2013-11-26 21:11:21 UTC - 21:11 | Permalink

        Yes, I know of what they did. They also sidelined HJers Joseph Hoffman and James Tabor. Those two were too radical for them; with Vridar they just don’t like people pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes, or in the case of Jesus’ historical existence, the clothes might have no emperor! 🙂

        • Neil Godfrey
          2013-11-26 21:35:16 UTC - 21:35 | Permalink

          What chagrined me was that they chose a librarian from among their ranks to classify the various blogs. Just goes to show how ideological even librarianship can be. I once knew a librarian in charge of a small library who classified the Bible in the Spurious Knowledge section so it sat alongside books on demonology, occult, divination, etc . . .

          • 2013-11-26 21:45:56 UTC - 21:45 | Permalink

            And controversial, too. Librarians often get in trouble with religious fundamentalists especially here in small towns and exurban suburbs (a redundancy to the point of an oxymoron) in the US over books the Librarian stacks, that the fundies discover they don’t like after years or even decades of it being available to the community. I would love to see a librarian put a bible in the spurious knowledge section or even the adult fiction section here… but I know it’ll never happen in “Christian America” without the librarian being reprimanded, disciplined or even terminated!

  • Pofarmer
    2015-06-13 05:31:38 UTC - 05:31 | Permalink

    I would like to learn more about number 5.

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