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A Pre-Christian Suffering Messiah Idea: Concluding a Case Against

For a discussion of the old view of Israelite Kingship and comparison with today’s understanding:

Clines, David. 1975. “The Psalms and the King.” Theological Students’ Fellowship Bulletin 71: 1–6. (Reprinted in On the Way to the Postmodern: Old Testament Essays, 1967–1998, vol. 2 (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series, 293; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), pp. 687-700.)

The last part of H. H. Rowley’s argument against the views of Joachim Jeremias and others that at least some Second Temple Judaeans held the notion of a Suffering Messiah relates to views that are no longer extant, as far as I am aware, among biblical scholars today. My understanding is that few today continue to hold to the idea that Israel’s kings participated in annual rituals of humiliation and rebirth as representatives of a dying and rising divinity.

If, as was once widely understood, the king of Israel or Judah regularly enacted such a ritual,

This evidence would seem to justify the inference that the concepts of the Davidic Messiah and of the Suffering Servant alike had their roots in the royal cultic rites, though they developed separate elements of those rites. (87)

That is, the separate concepts of Davidic Messiah and Suffering Servant developed their own pathways after the demise of the kingdom and during the periods of Babylonian captivity and Second Temple era.

Rowley next step (along with other scholars) is to posit that these two separate strands of ideology were united in the teachings of Jesus himself. Why with Jesus? Because

There has been no success in all the endeavours made to find previous or contemporary identification of the Messiah with the suffering servant of Yahweh. (87)

Rowley is citing H. Wheeler Robinson, whose complete statement follows:

It is no exaggeration to say that this is the most original and daring of all the characteristic features of the teaching of Jesus, and it led to the most important element in His work. There has been no success in all the endeavours made to find previous or contemporary identification of the Messiah with the suffering servant of Yahweh. The Targum of Jonathan for Isaiah liii. does give a Messianic application to some parts of the chapter, but, by a most artificial ingenuity, ascribes all the suffering to the people, not to its Messiah. This is very significant for the main line of tradition. There is no evidence of a suffering Messiah in previous or contemporary Judaism to explain the conception in the consciousness of Jesus. (Robinson, 199)

“Most original and daring”? Do I detect a confessional bias leading to the conclusion that Jesus owed nothing to distinctive or innovative to any earlier Jewish belief systems?

It seems so.

One may wonder if Rowley’s arguments against the general views of Jeremias and others are influenced by religious faith so that they become very exacting in demanding unambiguous and explicit statements testifying to a pre-Christian suffering messiah view; but one must also concede that the arguments of Jeremias rest most heavily on inference and one’s own assessments of probability.

Postscript: Another point I have not addressed in these posts is raised by critics other than Rowley against the idea of a pre-Christian suffering messiah. That is, making a clear distinction between “suffering” messiah and a “slain” messiah. In sifting through the evidence some scholars would insist that we be careful not to assume that a messiah who is killed is necessarily one who suffers as in experiencing the sorts of torments apparently suggested in Isaiah 53.

I titled this post, “concluding a case against”, not “the” case. If I begin to see that Morna Hooker has added further significant arguments against the views of Jeremias I will post those here, too.

Previous posts in this series:

  1. A Suffering Messiah Before Christianity? — the other side of the question

  2. Questioning the Claim of a Pre-Christian Suffering Messiah

And the series covering Jeremias’s case for a pre-Christian suffering/dying messiah:

Zimmerli & Jeremias: Servant of God (8 posts)

Robinson, H. Wheeler. 1942. Redemption and Revelation: In the Actuality of History. Library of Constructive Theology. London: Nisbet.

Rowley, H. H. 1952. The Servant of the Lord and Other Essays on the Old Testament. London: Lutterworth Press.


Two Views on the Lord’s Supper: Authentic or Inconceivable

I Corinthians 11:

23 For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; 24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. 

Richard Bauckham’s analysis:

On the other occasion when Paul explicitly states that he “received” a tradition, he is also explicit about the source: “I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you” (1 Cor 11:23). The tradition is about the words of Jesus at the last supper (vv. 23-25) . . . . Paul certainly does not mean that he received this tradition by immediate revelation from the exalted Lord. He must have known it as a unit of Jesus tradition, perhaps already part of a passion narrative; it is the only such unit that Paul ever quotes explicitly and at length. . . . Paul’s version is verbally so close to Luke’s that, since literary dependence in either direction is very unlikely, Paul must be dependent either on a written text or, more likely, an oral text that has been quite closely memorized. . . . Paul cites the Jesus tradition, not a liturgical text, and so he provides perhaps our earliest evidence of narratives about Jesus transmitted in a way that involved, while not wholly verbatim reproduction, certainly a considerable degree of precise memorization.

. . . . 

[Paul’s] introduction to the tradition about the Lord’s Supper in 11:23 (“I received from the Lord”) focuses on the source of the sayings of Jesus, which are the point of the narrative, and claims that they truly derive from Jesus. He therefore envisages a chain of transmission that begins from Jesus himself and passes through intermediaries to Paul himself, who has already passed it on to the Corinthians when he first established their church. The intermediaries are surely, again, the Jerusalem apostles, and this part of the passion traditions will have been part of what Paul learned . . . from Peter during that significant fortnight in Jerusalem. Given Paul’s concern and conviction that his gospel traditions come from the Lord Jesus himself, it is inconceivable that Paul would have relied on less direct means of access to the traditions. . . . the authenticity of the traditions he transmitted in fact depended on their derivation from the Jerusalem apostles. We might note that his claim, as an apostle, to have the same right as the Jerusalem apostles to material support from his converts (1 Cor 9:3-6) is based on a number of reasons, but the final and clinching argument is a saying of the earthly Jesus (9:14).

(Bauckham, pp. 268 f.)

Bruno Bauer’s analysis as set out by Albert Schweitzer:

The Lord’s supper, considered as an historic scene, is revolting and inconceivable. Jesus can no more have instituted it than he can have uttered the saying ‘Let the dead bury their dead.’ In both cases the offence arises from the fact that a conviction of the community has been cast into the form of a historical saying of Jesus. A man who was present in person, corporeally present, could not entertain the idea of offering others his flesh and blood to eat. To demand from others that while he was actually present they should imagine the bread and wine which they were eating to be his body and blood would have been quite impossible for a real person. It was only later, when Jesus’ actual bodily presence had been removed and the Christian community had existed for some time, that such a conception as is expressed in that formula could have arisen. A point which clearly betrays the later composition of the narrative is that the Lord does not turn to the disciples sitting with him at table and say, ‘This is my blood which will be shed for you,’ but, since the words were invented by the early church, speaks of the ‘many’ for whom he gives himself. The only historical fact is that the Jewish Passover was gradually transformed by the Christian community into a feast which had reference to Jesus.

(Schweitzer, pp. 132 f)

Bauckham, Richard. 2008. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Schweitzer, Albert. 2001. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Edited by John Bowden. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

Scholars of Christianity are Not Alone

It’s a human thing. Not limited to one religious heritage. I’m talking about the foibles of scholarship as it delves into its own heritage.

So we have the language of apologetics being used where it does not belong. Recall a post that detoured into a discussion of confessional language in scholarship. Recall some of the examples of this evangelical rhetoric:

Alas, the idea that a messiah killed by crucifixion . . . . would be shocking to first-century Jews is still alive and well.

. . . .

At the very least, however; Paul’s primary emphasis in relation to Christ represents something utterly remarkable. For Paul had found the early Christian proclamation of the crucified messiah completely abhorrent . . . .

. . . .

. . . . an unprecedented and momentous innovation in traditional Jewish liturgical practice.

And so forth. But Christianity is not alone. The following is found in a Buddhist publication:

It took an astonishing energy and dedication to create and sustain this literature. It must have been produced by an extraordinary historical event. And what could this event be, if not the appearance of a revolutionary spiritual genius? The Buddha’s presence as a living figure in the [early Buddhist texts] is overwhelming and unmistakable.

Then there is this claim attempting to put a study arguing for the authenticity of very early Buddhist texts reliably scientific:

Science works from indirect and inferred evidence and the preponderance of such indirect evidence points to the authenticity of the [early Buddhist texts]

Is that true about the grounds for scientific conclusions? I’m not so sure.

Then we read of the conditions that are laid down for any opposing argument:

Anyone wishing to establish the thesis that the [early Buddhist texts] are inauthentic needs to propose an explanation that accounts for the entire range of evidence in a manner that is at least as simple, natural, and reasonable as the thesis of authenticity. To our knowledge, this has never even been attempted. Rather, sceptics content themselves with picking holes in individual pieces of evidence, which merely distracts from the overall picture, and discourages further inquiry. Their methods have much in common with denialist rhetoric (see section 7.4).

That sounds awfully like an apologist saying that any proposal for Christian origins has to be as simple as the thesis that the disciples of Jesus believed he was the messiah and that he had been resurrected and persuaded others to believe the same. There is a difference between simple and simplistic. read more »

An interesting website for Greek Myth lovers

From Stephen Fry’s Mythos (which I have just finished reading)

The one website I would most heartily recommend is – a simply magnificent resource entirely dedicated to Greek myth. It is a Dutch and New Zealand project that contains over 1,500 pages of text and a gallery of 1,200 pictures comprising vase paintings, sculpture, mosaics and frescoes on Greek mythological themes. It offers thorough indexing, genealogies and subject headings. The bibliography is superb, and can lead one on a labyrinthine chase, hopping from source to source like an excited butterfly-collector.


What concord hath Christ with Inquiry?

I suppose a professional writer has to select a topic and style that is going to attract readers and an editor is paid to lure those readers with alarmist headers, so we should not be too surprised to read in this month’s Christianity Today

How to Defend the Gospels with Confidence

Questions about their reliability deserve better than sheepish mumbling
Image from Pixel Creative / Lightstock. The header calling for a “bold defence” is accompanied by worshipful, praying hands.

Attention all readers who need to defend the reliability of the Gospels boldly. Can it really be that 250 years after Voltaire and Hume people still see themselves in need of honing their defences against . . . .?? Against what, exactly?

The article begins:

Last month, Harvard psychologist and atheist public intellectual Steven Pinker posted this provocative tweet: “As any Jew knows, there is controversy (to put it mildly) over whether Jesus was the messiah. But did he exist at all? A new book by R. G. Price argues, ‘Deciphering the Gospels Proves Jesus Never Existed.’”

So that’s it. Against “provocation” in the form of a tweet.

Synonyms for provocative:

adj aggravating

challenging disturbing exciting inspirational insulting offensive outrageous  annoying  galling  goading heady incensing inciting influential intoxicating provoking pushing spurring . . .

So that’s it? For someone to publish their that Jesus may not have existed is considered…. disturbing, insulting, offensive, inciting…?

But it gets worse. The author holds a doctorate from Cambridge University:

Rebecca McLaughlin holds a PhD from Cambridge University as well as a theology degree from Oak Hill Seminary. Her first book, Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Worldview, will be published by Crossway in 2019.

Part of me thinks, “I did not think it possible for a Cambridge educated PhD to consider different viewpoints about Jesus “provocative” or “insulting” or “disturbing”.” But then I am reminded of my own past life living in a double-bind, in cognitive dissonance, so I know it can and does happen.

Notice something, though. The next paragraph says

This comment garnered well over a thousand likes and 600 shares. This, despite the fact that the book Pinker highlighted was self-published by someone without the relevant scholarly credentials. Its thesis is historically laughable. But the takeaway is one that even a highly educated atheist like Pinker will gladly swallow and propagate. Posts like this reinforce the popular idea that Jesus is a flimsy, semi-mythological character—wearing sandals for sure, but without any clear historical footprint.

We Christians know better. Or do we?

Ah. There it is. The “we-them” world-view. And what was the offence? It was a thesis that is described as “historically laughable”. There is no reference to any particular argument behind the thesis. One may fairly assume that Rebecca McLaughlin has not read the book Pinker found interesting enough to  tweet about. The arguments are clearly so irrelevant that they are not worth looking at. All that is needed is a few disparaging words about the author and scoffing way of telling readers that the thesis cannot be taken seriously.

From that paragraph McLaughlin segues into a review of a book titled Can We Trust the Gospels by Peter J. Williams.

This is a PhD from Cambridge, a full 250 years after the heyday of the Enlightenment, telling a flock she fears may be overly “sheepish” to laugh mockingly (or “historically”, whatever that meant in context) at a different view and respond not by understanding the arguments for the “provocation” but by reading good arguments that can be used to strengthen one’s “defences” against “the other”.

As for myself, when I read R.G. Price’s book (the subject of Pinker’s tweet) the last thing on my mind was how believers would respond to it. I presume believers have no interest in such books. I never for a moment saw the book as “provocative”. I simply saw it as a presentation of an interesting argument for a new way of reading the gospels. To have a new way of understanding what the gospels were all about is something I normally find interesting. I certainly don’t see the exercise as part of some warfare against believers.

It seems that not all believers view new ideas the same way.

Anyway, what did McLaughlin have to say about this book that equipped believers to boldly defend their faith in the gospels?

There is the usual (tiresomely predictable) introduction with Tacitus, Josephus, Pliny the Younger and the “would have beens” (as in Jesus family would have been known by Church leaders….

I have finally concluded that apologists who continue to write such nonsense about late first and early second century historians have no interest at all in what historians of ancient Rome have to say about such sources, even less what those of us on the “other side” have to say about them, and that the reason for repeating the same dot points in a new publication is to maintain a ritual. Rituals are comforting, I suppose.

Then there is this other piece of irrelevance:

Turning to the Gospels themselves, Williams argues that Jesus’ life produced more detailed and better-attested accounts than the contemporary Roman emperor Tiberius, “the most famous person in the then-known world.” While the earliest surviving manuscripts describing Tiberius’s life date from the ninth century, the earliest surviving incomplete copies of the Gospels are from the second and third centuries, and we have complete copies of all the Gospels from the fourth.

Again, the words are ritually republished, and ritually re-read, generation after generation.

Where Williams’s book comes alive for a more seasoned reader is in sections showing how the Gospels drip with local detail.

Detail! Such detail. There is even a subheading:

Dripping with Detail

Just like detail-dripping works Homer, and Virgil, and Juvenal, and Petronius…. and Vardis Fisher:

The first course, the gustatio or appetizer, included oysters, eggs, mushrooms, all saturated with a sauce of sweet wine mixed with heavy amber honey. Among the tidbits were tongues of flamingoes and other birds, the flesh of ostrich wings, breast of dove and thrush, livers of geese, and a concoction of sow-livers, teats and vulva in a thick syrup of figs. Of the main dishes he managed to taste chicken covered deep with a sauce of anise seed, mint, lazerroot, vinegar, dates, the juices of salted fishguts, oil and mustard seed. There were many kinds of fish, all heavily spiced, rich and dripping; thrush on asparagus; a pastry of the brains of small birds; sows’ udder floating in a thick jelly that smelled of coriander; roast venison, pig, fowl and hare; and innumerable sausages and pickled or spiced meats. A dish in great demand was a jelly of sow-livers that had been fattened on figs, an invention of Apicius, a famous gourmet under Tiberius.

Now that’s dripping with detail. It is from the opening pages of a modern novel set in imperial Rome.

The gospels are so “very Jewish”, so that adds to their reliability for some reason. And the fallacy laden (“dripping with logical fallacies”) book of Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses is called in as an expert witness, as seems to be routine nowadays among gospel apologists.

McLaughlin suddenly seems to become a little “sheepish” herself when she seems to be suggesting that Williams even argues for the historical truth of the virgin birth. She doesn’t say it outright, but what else are we to conclude when she “sheepishly mumbles” something about Williams’ claim that such a detail could not be introduced into the church in the early days because Jesus’ family, mother in particular, no doubt, were still alive to refute the claim; but then it couldn’t be introduced later, either, because by then all the traditions had been settled and set so anything new at that stage would be suspect.

The part that disturbs me about Rebecca McLaughlin’s article is that the sentiments she expresses, the scoffing at an idea combined with disregard for finding out anything about its arguments, the ad hominem denigration, ….. they are not confined to lay people or clergy, are they. One might just as easily think one is reading something by a biblical scholar in a theology or divinity department at a public university. Now that’s a thought ought to be provocative.


McLaughlin, Rebecca. 2019. “How to Defend the Gospels with Confidence.” ChristianityToday International, January.

Fisher, Vardis. 1956. A Goat For Azazel: A Novel of Christian Origins. Testament of Man 9. New York: Pyramid.


Lost Source — A Cry for Help!

I discovered a cache of printouts from way back in the late 90s and early 00’s that I am steadily digitising for my files. But I have run into a problem with one 15 page essay that is without author name, without website, …. nothing to tell me who is its creator. I know Michael Turton was some time ago very interested in Markan chiasms so may it was by you, Michael.

I copy here the first page. Please let me know who was responsible for this composition if you can:


Mark Points a Finger at Paul: The Structure of Chiasms in Mark


One of the most challenging problems of the Gospel of Mark is perceiving the complex organizational structures that underlie the writer’s deceptively simple surface. The writer of the Gospel of Mark is obviously intimately familiar with the Tanakh, citing and alluding to it scores of times, as well as using its stories as models for his own narrative of Jesus. Given the depth of knowledge he displays about the Tanakh, as well as the ubiquity of chiasms in Hellenistic literary traditions, it seems incredible that the writer of Mark was unaware of the way chiastic structures organize even the shorter material in the Tanakh. This essay will argue that, in essence, the writer of Mark organized his shorter passages in complex chiastic structures fundamentally similar to, but far more elaborated than, the chiasms in the Tanakh.

Numerous scholars have grappled with the problem, finding chiastic structures in and between passages (Beavis, 1989; Dart, 2003; Myers, 1988; Tolbert, 1989) [ and ]

In this essay I will (1) propose a general model of chiastic structures in the Gospel of Mark; and (2) explore what this might mean for Markan priority; and (3) use a chiasm in Mark 12 to show that the writer of Mark knew and directly used the letters of Paul in constructing his gospel.

How Markan Chiasms Work

Although it goes under numerous names[ list them], a chiasm is fundamentally a structure of pairs that rolls out, ABC, and then rolls back up, CBA. It often pivots around a central idea or line. Varying in size, chiasms may consist of single words, lines, several parts of a single text, or the entire text itself. For example, a common chiastic form found in both the Old and New Testament is also one of the simplest, ABB’A’. In Mark this form is found as well. For example, Mark 2:27 states: And he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath ” where the ABBA format is a set of paired keywords: Sabbath-Man-Man-Sabbath. In addition to single verses, a structure like this might extend across several verses. For example, the pericope of Mark 7:24-30 has an ABB’A’ keyword sequence at its heart:

A let the children be fed!

B it’s not right to give good food to dogs B’ but even dogs under the table A’ eat the children’s crumbs

A Christmas Message (per Stephen Fry)

The interesting characters are all the fruit of two parents, not one

The silent emptiness of this world was filled when Gaia bore two sons all on her own* The first was PONTUS, the sea, and the second was OURANOS, the sky — better known to us as Uranus, the sound of whose name has ever been the cause of great delight to children from nine to ninety.

* This trick of virgin birth, or parthenogenesis, can be found in nature still. In aphids, some lizards and even sharks it is a reasonably common way to have young. There won’t be the variation that two sets of genes allow; this is the same in the genesis of the Greek gods. The interesting ones are all the fruit of two parents, not one.

Fry, Stephen. 2017. Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold. London, England: Penguin. p. 5

Miscellaneous Catchup

For those of us who like to examine questions of whether certain ancient persons really existed or not:


R. G. Price is already looking into questions beyond his book Deciphering Jesus:


And Vridar has another post now in Spanish



Vridar Posts in Spanish

David Cáceres has expanded our posts’ horizons with his Spanish translations. 


Now I’m having a hard time suggesting appropriate posts he might like to add. Readers who have suggestions of anything that might be appropriate for readers without some of the controversial background we are used to in English are welcome to add them here in comments.

How Historians Do History — Vridar Posts and Pages Catchup

I have begun to sift through my many, many posts on historical methodology with special reference to its application to the question of Christian origins (or as some would prefer, to the question of the “historical Jesus”). They are not at all necessarily the same question.

Over the coming weeks, or probably coming months, I hope to sift through and add to the new Vridar Page,  Historical Methods (with reference to the study of Christian Origins/Historicity of Jesus)

You can see it listed under ARCHIVES by TOPIC, Annotated in the margin on the right side of this blog.


What the Nativity Story Would Sound Like with Free and Full Female Consent

Another timely one from Valerie Tarico: What the Nativity Story Would Sound Like with Free and Full Female Consent

A few excerpts:

So that Mary would not be overwhelmed by the heavenly messenger’s radiant glory, Gabriel adopted the form of an ordinary Jewish woman carrying an earthen water jug [Gabriel minimizes intimidation due to status differential]. When Mary went to fetch water at the town well, Gabriel approached and stood beside her at the well. “Greetings, blessed one!” he said. “You are favored of the Lord, and he is with you.”

Mary looked at the unfamiliar woman, wondering what sort of weird greeting this might be. “I beg your pardon?” she said politely. “I don’t think we have met.”

Gabriel inclined his head. “Gabriella,” he said with a disarming smile. . . . .

As he hoisted the full bucket, he spoke almost casually. “You know how some people have visions and receive messages from the heavenly realm?”

“Yes,” said Mary.

“Well, I am one of those people, and I came here to the well today because I have a message for you.”

. . . .

“Would you like to know my message?” Gabriel asked, and Mary nodded.

“Ok,” said Gabriel. “Here it is: Yahweh has decided to create a son who will be both god and man. His name will be Jesus.” He paused and then recited, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” He paused again and added, “Full disclosure: First he has to become a replacement for all of the pigeons and goats and sheep and cattle that are sacrificed in the temple for the forgiveness of sins. So, at age 33, he will be tortured and killed by the Romans and will rise from the dead [Gabriel candidly gives both pros and cons].

“If you are willing, God would like for you to be the woman who bears this child.” [He poses the proposition as a voluntary choice.] But God will continue to bless you and honor your righteousness whether you choose or not to bear this child. [He explicitly addresses any sense of threat based on Yahweh’s violent history].

“Do you have any questions?”

. . . .

He wondered fleetingly why Yahweh had chosen such a young person to make such a big decision, but he didn’t question God, not even for a second. After all, he and every other angel in heaven remembered how God had reacted when Lucifer started challenging God’s authority. Lucifer’s rebellion was the reason Gabriel had this job.

. . . .

That had been skepticism, right? Or was it fear? Perhaps the word “overshadow” had been a bit strong.

“It won’t hurt,” he said gently, “At least not the getting pregnant part. Do you have any other questions?”

Mary floundered, more than a little overwhelmed. I can’t say no to Yahweh, she thought. Out loud, she said, “Here am I, the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word.”

But Gabriel shook his head gently. “God does not ask this of you as his servant or slave, but rather of your own free will. [He clarifies that despite the power difference she has a real choice]. Take as long as you need to decide—he will know when you have chosen. [She is not pressured]. I would suggest given your age that you ask your father, but he would then be compelled to make the decision for you, so you will have to decide on your own.

. . . . 


God’s Defence Against the Rape Charge

I can’t resist a little bit of fun with two Christian responses to psychologist Eric Sprankle’s ribbing of the Virgin Mary story:

“The virgin birth story is about an all-knowing, all-powerful deity impregnating a human teen. There is no definition of consent that would include that scenario. Happy Holidays.”

He added: “The biblical god regularly punished disobedience. The power difference (deity vs mortal) and the potential for violence for saying ‘no’ negates her ‘yes.’ To put someone in this position is an unethical abuse of power at best and grossly predatory at worst.”

Jim West is the first to come to the defence of God and add the power of a Church and Academic authority against Mary:

But what the imbecile ignores is that Mary does in fact give consent to the operation of the Holy Spirit:

Mary said, ‘You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said.’ And the angel left her. (Lk. 1:38)

Then Holly Scheer marshals the altright media against Mary:

First, this is ridiculously offensive for anyone who has ever actually picked up a Bible and read the accounts of the angel telling Mary about Jesus and His birth. She knew, okay?

If people bother to look over Luke 1:30-33 in the Bible, they’d see that Mary was told about God’s plans for her, and she agreed to them: “And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.’”

Sprankle misses the following, extremely important verse. Mary understands the words of the angel, and, moreover, agrees to his plan: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

This isn’t some weird, spiritual rape, but one of the greatest honors recorded in the Christian Bible. Mary is chosen, from all women, in all time, across all nations, and all centuries to bear God himself in her own body. This wasn’t a punishment, an act of power or pain, but an honor, a blessing, and something that Mary rejoiced in.

So there! It’s as simple as that. If the victim is so overawed by the power of the man that she gives her verbal assent in the turmoil of the moment then that’s a secure defence and the man is given a free pass. The church will try to console Mary by reassuring her that every right-thinking teenage girl in the world would give her consent to such a famous rock star or powerful ceo or president, or even god himself.


William Blum, deceased December 2018

I was saddened to learn of the death of William Blum, December 9, 2018. I have always treasured his Killing Hope and Rogue State, both still on my bookshelves. I first learned of William Blum back in 2003 when I participated in anti-war marches and attended a lecture of his sponsored by the World Social Forum in Brisbane. I love the following video clip because it is clearly in the main the same speech he gave to us in Brisbane back in 2003:

I love is final line, Never believe anything until it is officially denied!

Everything he says is so clear, so logical, so spot on, as true today as it ever was.


The Decline of the Study of History

Few historians would quarrel with the notion that more historical knowledge makes for smarter public policy. Few would contest the idea that a historically uninformed population is more susceptible to conspiratorial thinking and an inability to differentiate “fake news” from the real thing. Yet academic historians simply are not focusing their efforts on some of the issues that matter most to the fate of the United States and the international system today. Instead of possessing deep historical knowledge that serves as the intellectual foundation for effective policy and informed debate, the nation risks worsening historical ignorance with all its attendant dangers.

From . . .

The Historical Profession is Committing Slow-Motion Suicide