"THE EPISTLE TO TITUS" Chapter Three OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To review responsibilities Christians have toward those in authority and others in general 2) To consider how one is saved by God's mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit 3) To notice the emphasis on being careful to maintain good works, while avoiding things that are unprofitable and useless (including some individuals) SUMMARY In this final chapter Paul instructs Titus to remind the brethren concerning their duties toward those in authority and men in general (1-2). Exhortations to gentleness and humility toward all men is made with a reminder that we too were once like those in the world (3). We have been saved, not by our own works of righteousness, but by the mercy of God who saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (4-5). The Spirit has been poured out abundantly on us, so that we who are justified might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (6-7). Paul also wants Titus to affirm constantly that those who have believed in God should be diligent in their good works (8). At the same time, foolish disputes and divisive men are to be avoided, for such are unprofitable and useless (9-11). The epistle closes with personal remarks and greetings. Titus is encouraged to come to Nicopolis as soon as Artemas or Tychicus have arrived, for Paul has chosen to winter there (12). In the meantime, Titus is to send Zenas and Apollos on their journey with haste (13). Yet another exhortation is given to have the brethren learn to maintain good works, meeting urgent needs, so they may not be unfruitful. Paul then passes along greetings to Titus from those with him, and sends similar greetings to those who love the brethren (13-14). A final benediction regarding grace ends the letter (15). OUTLINE I. INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE BRETHREN IN GENERAL (1-11) A. CONCERNING PROPER CONDUCT (1-2) 1. Toward those in authority (1) a. Be subject to and obey rulers and authorities b. Be ready for every good work 2. Toward all men (2) a. Speak evil of no one b. Be peaceable, gentle, showing humility to all B. REASONS TO HEED SUCH EXHORTATIONS (3-11) 1. In view of our past conduct (3) a. We were once foolish, disobedient and deceived b. We served various lust and pleasures c. We lived in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another 2. In view of our salvation (4-7) a. We were saved according to God's kindness, love and mercy, not by works of righteousness which we have done (4-5) b. We were saved through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (5-7) 1) Whom God poured out abundantly through Jesus our Savior 2) That being justified by grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life 3. In view of what is good and profitable (8) a. Those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works b. This is a faithful saying, and should be affirmed constantly 4. In view of what is unprofitable and useless (9-11) a. Foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law are to be avoided (9) b. A divisive man is to be rejected after two admonitions (10-11) 1) For such is warped and sinning 2) And is self-condemned II. CONCLUDING REMARKS (12-15) A. FINAL INSTRUCTIONS (12-14) 1. To meet him at Nicopolis, after the arrival of Artemas or Tychicus (12) 2. To send Zenas and Apollos on their journey with haste, lacking nothing (13) 3. To aid others in learning to maintain good works, meeting urgent needs, so as not to be unfruitful (14) B. FINAL GREETINGS, AND A PRAYER (15) 1. Greetings from those with Paul 2. Greetings to those who love the brethren in the faith 3. Grace be with you all. Amen. REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Instructions for the brethren in general (1-11) - Concluding remarks (12-15) 2) What are the responsibilities of Christians toward rulers and authorities? (1) - To be subject to them, to obey, to be ready for every good work 3) How should Christians conduct themselves toward men in general? (2) - To speak evil of none, to be peaceable, gentle, and humble toward all 4) What should help us to be gentle and humble toward others? (3) - We ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deceived - We had served various lusts and pleasures - We had been hateful and hating one another 5) What else should remind us to be humble? (4-5) - We were saved, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to the kindness, love and mercy of God 6) How has God in mercy saved us? (5) - Through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit 7) Why has God poured out the Holy Spirit abundantly on us? (6-7) - That having been justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (cf. Ga 4:6-7; Ro 8:15-17) 8) What faithful saying did Paul want Titus to affirm constantly? (8) - Those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works 9) What was Titus to avoid? Why? (9) - Foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law - They are unprofitable and useless 10) Who was Titus to reject after two admonitions? Why? (10-11) - A divisive man - Such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned 11) Where did Paul want Titus to join him? (12) - Nicopolis 12) Who was Titus to send along on their journey with haste, lacking nothing? (13) - Zenas the lawyer and Apollos 13) What did Paul want Christians to learn? (14) - To maintain good works, to meet urgent needs 14) Who sent greetings to Titus? Who did Paul send greetings to? (15) - All who with him - Those who love the brethren in the faith 15) What prayer did Paul offer as he closed this letter? (15) - Grace be with you all. Amen.
"THE EPISTLE TO TITUS" Chapter Two OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To note the various instructions pertaining to proper Christian conduct 2) To observe how the grace of God does not give us license to sin, but is designed to produce sober, righteous, and godly lives SUMMARY Having reviewed the qualifications of elders and their work, Paul exhorts Titus to "speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine." Such things include the proper conduct expected of Christians, both male and female, young and old, and of those who are servants. Even Titus was to present himself as a pattern of good works for others to follow, which would also serve to silence any opponents of the faith (1-10). Paul then writes of the grace of God that brings salvation to all men. This wonderful grace instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, choosing instead to live soberly, righteously and godly. It also encourages us to look forward to the blessed hope we have related to the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ, who gave Himself to redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a special people who are zealous for good works. These things Titus was to teach with all authority, allowing none to despise him for doing so (11-15). OUTLINE I. INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING CHRISTIAN CONDUCT (1-10) A. THE OLDER MEN (1-2) 1. Titus is to speak things proper for sound doctrine (1) 2. The older men are to be... (2) a. Sober, reverent, temperate b. Sound in faith, love, patience B. THE OLDER WOMEN (3-4a) 1. In similar way they are to be reverent in behavior (3a) a. Not slanderers b. Not given to much wine 2. They are to be teachers of good things, and admonish the young women (3b-4a) C. THE YOUNG WOMEN (4b-5) 1. They are to love their husbands and their children (4b) 2. They are to be... (5) a. Discreet, chaste, homemakers b. Good, obedient to their own husbands ...that the word of God may not be blasphemed D. THE YOUNG MEN (6-8) 1. In a similar way they are to be sober-minded (6) 2. In all things Titus is to be a pattern of good works (7a-8) a. In doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility b. With sound speech that cannot be condemned 1) So that any opponent may be ashamed 2) Having nothing evil to say of him E. THE SERVANTS (9-10) 1. They are to be... (9-10a) a. Obedient to their masters b. Well pleasing in all things, not answering back c. Not pilfering, but showing fidelity in all things 2. So they can adorn the doctrine of God in all things (10b) II. THE INSTRUCTION OF THE GRACE OF GOD (11-15) A. THE GRACE OF GOD HAS APPEARED (11) 1. That which brings salvation (11a) 2. It has appeared to all men (11b) B. THE GRACE OF GOD TEACHES US (12-14) 1. To deny ungodliness and worldly lusts (12a) 2. To live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age (12b) 3. To look for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (13) a. Who gave Himself for us (14a) b. That He might... 1) Redeem us from every lawless deed (14b) 2) Purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works (14c) C. TITUS' RESPONSIBILITY (15) 1. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority (15a) 2. Let no despise him (15b) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Instruction concerning Christian conduct (1-10) - The instruction of the grace of God (11-15) 2) What was Titus expected to speak? (1) - Things which are proper for sound doctrine 3) What was expected of the older men? (2) - To be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience 4) What was expected of the older women? (3-4) - To be reverent, not slanderers, not given to much wine - To be teachers of good things, admonishing the young women 5) What was expected of the younger women? (4-5) - To love their husbands, to love their children - To be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands 6) Why were the younger women to behave this way? (5) - That the word of God may not be blasphemed 7) What was Titus to exhort the young men? (6) - To be sober-minded 8) What was Titus expected to do? (7-8) - To be a pattern of good works - To show integrity, reverence and incorruptibility in his doctrine - To have sound speech that cannot be condemned 9) What was expected of those who were servants? (9-10) - To be obedient to their masters - To be well pleasing in all things - Not to answer back, not pilfering, but showing fidelity 10) By behaving this way, what were the servants actually doing? (10) - Adorning the doctrine of God our Savior in all things 11) What does the grace of God teach us? (11-13) - To deny ungodliness and worldly lusts - To live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age - To look for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ 12) Why did Jesus give Himself for us? (14) - To redeem us from every lawless deed - To purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works 13) How was Titus to speak these things? (15) - By exhorting and rebuking with all authority, letting no one despise him
"THE EPISTLE TO TITUS" Chapter One OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To review the qualifications for elders in the church 2) To examine the work of elders related to the Word of God SUMMARY Paul begins by identifying himself as a servant and an apostle whose service is according to the faith of God's chosen people and the truth which is according to godliness. It is also in hope of the eternal life promised by God before time began, and whose word is now being manifested through preaching. He then greets Titus as his "true son in the common faith", bestowing upon him grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Jesus our Savior (1-4). Paul quickly addresses the reason he left Titus in Crete, to set in order what things were lacking and to appoint elders in every city. To assist him in that task, Paul reviews the qualifications necessary for those who would be appointed as elders (5-9). The last qualification for elders (being able to convict those who contradict) leads right into the final section of this chapter, in which Titus is told to sharply rebuke those of the circumcision who through insubordination and deceit had been subverting entire households, acting just like the characterization made by one of the ancient Cretan prophets. Motivated by dishonest gain, giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men, they became defiled even in their mind and conscience. These false teachers may have professed to know God, but by their works they denied Him and proved themselves unfit for every good work (10-16). OUTLINE I. INTRODUCTION (1-4) A. FROM PAUL (1-3) 1. A servant of God and apostle of Jesus Christ (1a) 2. According to... (1b) a. The faith of God's elect b. The acknowledgment of the truth which is according to godliness 3. In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie... (2-3) a. Promised before time began b. In due time has manifested His Word 1) Through preaching 2) Which was committed to him according to the commandment of God B. TO TITUS (4) 1. His true son in their common faith (4a) 2. Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Savior (4b) II. CONCERNING ELDERS (5-9) A. THE REASON TITUS WAS LEFT IN CRETE (5) 1. To set in order the things that are lacking (5a) 2. To appoint elders in every city as Paul commanded him (5b) B. QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS (6-9) 1. Positive qualifications a. Blameless b. The husband of one wife c. Having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination d. Blameless as a steward of God e. Hospitable f. A lover of what is good g. Sober-minded h. Just i. Holy j. Self-controlled k. Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught l. Able by sound doctrine to exhort and convict those who contradict 2. Negative qualifications a. Not self-willed b. Not quick-tempered c. Not given to wine d. Not violent e. Not greedy for money III. CONCERNING FALSE TEACHERS (10-16) A. THEIR CHARACTER (10-13a) 1. Insubordinate (10a) 2. Idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision (10b-11) a. Whose mouths must be stopped b. For they subvert whole households c. For they teach things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain 3. They live up to the estimation of one of Crete's own prophets: "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." (12- 13a) B. THEIR CONDEMNATION (13b-16) 1. They are to be rebuked sharply (13b-14) a. That they may be sound in the faith b. That they not give heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men 2. To the pure all things are pure... (15) a. But to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure b. But even their mind and conscience are defiled 3. They profess to know God... (16) a. But in works they deny Him b. Being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Introduction (1-4) - Concerning elders (5-9) - Concerning false teachers (10-16) 2) In keeping with what two things was Paul a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ? (1) - The faith of God's elect - The acknowledgment of the truth which is according to godliness 3) What is said about eternal life and God's Word? (2-3) - Eternal life was promised before time began - His Word was manifested in due time through preaching 4) How does Paul describe Titus? (4) - My true son in our common faith 5) What were the two reasons Titus had been left in Crete? (5) - To set in order the things that are lacking - To appoint elders in every city 6) What are the positive qualifications for elders? (6-9) - Blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination, blameless as a steward of God, hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, able by sound doctrine to exhort and convict those who contradict 7) What are the negative qualifications for elders? (6-9) - Not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money 8) Who especially in Crete were insubordinate, idle talkers, and deceivers? (10) - Those of the circumcision 9) Why must their mouths be stopped? (11) - They were subverting whole households, teaching things they ought not, for dishonest gain 10) What had one of the Cretan prophets said? (12) - "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." 11) What was Titus to do with these false teachers? (13) - Rebuke them sharply 12) What two reasons are given for extending such rebuke? (13-14) - That they may be sound in the faith - That they not give heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men 13) What is said of the pure? Of those who are defiled and unbelieving? (15) - All things are pure - Nothing is pure; even their mind and conscience is defiled 14) How did some who professed to know God actually deny Him? Why? (16) - In their works - They were abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work
"THE EPISTLE TO TITUS"
Introduction AUTHOR: The apostle Paul, as stated in the salutation (1:1). The testimony of church history also provides overwhelming support that Paul is the author. RECIPIENT: Titus, Paul's "true son in common faith" (1:4). There is no mention of Titus by name in the book of Acts, but we can glean much about him from the epistles of Paul. He was a Gentile by birth (Ga 2:3), and accompanied Paul to Jerusalem during the controversy over circumcision (Ac 15:1-2; Ga 2:1-5). During Paul's third missionary journey, Titus became his personal emissary to the church at Corinth, seeking to learn how they received his first letter. When Titus did not return to Troas as expected, Paul anxiously went on to Macedonia (2Co 2:12-13). It was there that Paul and Titus finally connected, much to the relief and comfort of Paul when Titus reported how well he was received by the Corinthians (2 Co 7:5-7,13-15). Paul then sent Titus and two others back to Corinth, bearing the letter we call Second Corinthians, and exhorting the brethren to complete their collection for the needy saints in Jerusalem (2Co 8:16-9:5). At the time of the epistle to Titus, he had been left on the island of Crete by Paul to "set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city" (Tit 1:5). If Paul's plans as expressed in this epistle materialized, then Titus left soon after the arrival of Artemas or Tychicus, and met Paul at Nicopolis in northwest Greece (cf. Ti 3:12). We last read of Titus that he had gone to Dalmatia (in modern day Yugoslavia) during the final days of Paul's life (2Ti 4:10). TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING: The general consensus is that following his first imprisonment in Rome the apostle Paul was released and allowed to travel for several years before being arrested again. The following itinerary has been proposed by the Ryrie Study Bible: * Paul was released from his house arrest in Rome (where we find him at the end of Acts), probably because his accusers did not choose to press their charges against him before Caesar (Ac 24:1; 28:30). Their case, therefore, was lost by default, and Paul was freed. * Paul visited Ephesus, left Timothy there to supervise the churches, and went on to Macedonia (northern Greece). * From there he wrote 1 Timothy (1Ti 1:3). * He visited Crete, left Titus there to supervise those churches, and went to Nicopolis in Achaia (southern Greece, Tit 3:12). * Either from Macedonia or Nicopolis, he wrote this letter to encourage Titus. * He visited Troas (2Ti 4:13), where he was suddenly arrested, taken to Rome, imprisoned, and finally beheaded. * From Rome, during this second imprisonment, he wrote 2 Timothy. It cannot be established with certainty, but it possible that Paul wrote this letter from Corinth, sometime around 63-66 A.D. PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE: Like his first epistle to Timothy, this letter is written to a young preacher assigned a difficult task. Evidently the churches on the island of Crete were in need of maturation, and this letter is designed to assist Titus in that work. Therefore, Paul wrote to encourage Titus: * To see that qualified elders were appointed in every city (1:5-9) * To preach things befitting "sound doctrine" (2:1) * To exhort the brethren to be "zealous for good works" (2:14; 3:1, 8,14) THEME OF THE EPISTLE: The key phrase in this epistle is "good works" (1:16; 2:7,14; 3:1,8,14). An appropriate theme for this epistle might therefore be: "MAINTAIN GOOD WORKS!" KEY VERSE: Titus 3:8 "This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable for men." OUTLINE: INTRODUCTION (1:1-4) I. INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING CHURCH ORGANIZATION (1:5-16) A. QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS (1:5-9) B. CHARACTERISTICS OF FALSE TEACHERS (1:10-16) II. INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING CHRISTIAN CONDUCT (2:1-3:11) A. FOR THE OLDER MEN AND WOMEN (2:1-3) B. FOR THE YOUNGER WOMEN AND MEN (2:4-8) C. FOR THE SERVANTS (2:9-14) D. FOR THE BRETHREN IN GENERAL (3:1-11) CONCLUSION (3:12-15) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION 1) What were the circumstances in which we first find Titus and Paul together? (Ga 2:1-5) - Titus had accompanied Paul in attending the conference in Jerusalem regarding circumcision 2) Why was Paul adamant in not allowing others to compel Titus to be circumcised? (Ga 2:3-5) - Titus was a Greek, not a Jew; to force him to be circumcised would violate the truth of the gospel 3) With what church did Titus serve as Paul's messenger? (2Co 7:6-7, 13-14) - The church at Corinth 4) Why did Paul send Titus along with the second letter to Corinth? (2Co 8:16-9:5) - To make sure that the Corinthians' gift for the needy saints in Jerusalem would be ready 5) From where and when was this epistle to Titus possibly written? - From Corinth, sometime between 63-66 A.D. 6) Where was Titus when this letter was written to him? (1:5) - On the island of Crete 7) In this epistle, what three things does Paul exhort Titus to do? (1:5-9; 2:1; 3:1,8,14) - To see that qualified elders were appointed in every city - To preach things befitting "sound doctrine" - To exhort the brethren to be "zealous for good works" 8) What is the theme of this epistle, as suggested in the introductory material? - Maintain Good Works! 9) What is proposed as the key verse? - Titus 3:8 10) According to the outline above, what are the main points of this epistle? - Instructions concerning church organization - Instructions concerning Christian conduct
Flawless Food Laws
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Food regulations enumerated in the first five books of the Old Testament have been scrutinized repeatedly by credentialed professionals in the fields of dietary and pathological research. The regulations have proven to coincide with modern science’s understanding of various aspects of health and disease prevention. Old Testament food laws exhibit knowledge of bacteria, food preparation, and pathogen awareness that surpasses anything from cultures contemporary with the ancient Israelites. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the knowledge inherent in the laws was, or could have been, gathered experimentally by the Israelite nation. Thus, the Israelites could not have copied these laws from nations around them, nor did they arrive at them through their own experimental, scientific research. Where, then, did such amazingly accurate laws originate? Moses repeatedly acknowledged that the laws came from the Lord (Deuteronomy 10:4-5). A closer look into various Old Testament food regulations reveals the evident truthfulness of Moses’ claim.
FINS AND SCALES
The Mosaic criteria for eating water-living creatures was that the creatures have scales and fins (Leviticus 11:12). This injunction was extremely beneficial, since a multitude of problems surround many sea creatures that do not have scales and fins.
The blowfish has fins but does not have scales. Thus, it would not have been edible under the Old Testament laws—fortunately for the Israelites. The blowfish can contain toxin in its ovaries, liver, and other organs that is highly potent and deadly. This toxin, called tetrodotoxin, is thought to be “1250 times more deadly than cyanide” and 160,000 times more potent than cocaine. A tiny amount of it can kill 30 grown adults (Dilion, 2005). As odd as it sounds, blowfish is served as a delicacy all over the world, especially in Japan and other far eastern countries. As a delicacy, it is called fugu, and is prepared by certified, licensed chefs. The toxins can be removed successfully, making the food edible, but the procedure often goes awry. Some who have researched fugu say that it is a food connoisseur’s version of Russian roulette. Due to the extreme danger involved in eating fugu, it is illegal to serve it to the Emperor of Japan! The Mosaic instructions concerning edible fish would have helped the Israelites avoid the dangerous blowfish, as well as danger posed by eating other toxic sea creatures such as certain jelly fish, sea anemones, and octopi.
Although shellfish are edible today, there are inherent dangers in eating ill-prepared types such as oysters. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has produced a twelve-page tract warning people about the dangers of eating raw or partially cooked oysters (“Carlos’ Tragic...,” 2003). In the tract, the FDA warns that some raw oysters contain the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. In regard to this dangerous bacteria, the tract states:
Oysters are sometimes contaminated with the naturally occurring bacteria Vibriovulnificus. Oysters contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus can’t be detected by smell or sight; they look like other oysters. Eating raw oysters containing Vibrio vulnificus is very dangerous for those with pre-existing medical conditions such as liver disease, diabetes, hepatitis, cancer and HIV.... 50 percent of people who are infected withVibrio vulnificus as a result of eating raw contaminated oysters die (2003).
Eating oysters if they are not cooked properly can be potentially fatal, says the FDA. Thus, the wisdom of the Mosaic prohibition is evident to an honest observer. In a time when proper handling and preparation procedures were difficult to achieve, the best course of action simply would have been to avoid the risk of eating potentially contaminated foods, especially since the contamination cannot be detected by smell or sight.
REPTILES AND SALMONELLA
In Leviticus 11, Moses included reptiles in the list of unclean animals. Obviously, they are not cud-chewers that walk on cloven hooves, so they would not classify as clean, edible animals according to Leviticus 11:3. But to make sure that the Israelites understood, Moses specifically mentioned reptiles such as the large lizard, gecko, monitor lizard, sand reptile, sand lizard, and chameleon (Leviticus 11:29-31). Immediately following this listing of reptiles, the text states: “Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening” (11:31).
Interestingly, reptiles have a much higher rate of carrying Salmonella bacteria than do most mammals, especially those listed as clean in the Old Law. The Center for Disease Control has repeatedly warned people about the possibility of being infected with Salmonella passed through reptiles. In summarizing the CDC’s 2003 report, Lianne McLeod noted that the CDC estimates over 70,000 cases of human Salmonella infection a year are related to the handling of reptiles and amphibians (2007). The CDC recommends that homes with children under five should not have reptiles as pets. Furthermore, while other animals such as cats and dogs can passSalmonella, McLeod noted:
As high as 90% of reptiles are natural carriers of Salmonella bacteria, harboring strains specific to reptiles without any symptoms of disease in the reptile. While it is true that many pets can carry Salmonella, the problem with reptiles (and apparently amphibians) is that they carry Salmonella with such high frequency. It is prudent to assume that all reptiles and amphibians can be a potential source of Salmonella (2007, emp. added).
In light of such evidence, the prudence of the Mosaic prohibition to eat or handle reptile carcasses is clearly evident.
Of further interest is the fact that reptilian Salmonella contamination can occur without even touching a reptile. If a person touches something that has touched a reptile the bacteria can spread. The ARAV (Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians) made this statement: “Salmonella bacteria are easily spread from reptiles to humans. Humans may become infected when they place their hands on objects, including food items, that have been in contact with the stool of reptiles, in their mouths” (“Salmonella Bacteria...,” 2007).
When this statement by the ARAV is compared with the injunctions in Leviticus 11:32-47, the astounding accuracy of the Old Testament regulation is again confirmed.
Anything on which any of them falls, when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is any item of wood or clothing or skin or sack, whatever item it is, in which any work is done, it must be put in water. And it shall be unclean until evening; then it shall be clean. Any earthen vessel into which any of them falls you shall break; and whatever is in it shall be unclean: in such a vessel, any edible food upon which water falls becomes unclean, and any drink that may be drunk from it becomes unclean (Leviticus 11:32-34).
After reading Leviticus 11:32-34, it seems as though a microbiologist was present with Moses to explain the perfect procedures to avoid spreading Salmonella and other bacteria from reptiles to humans. How could Moses have accurately laid down such precise regulations that belie a superior understanding of bacteria? An honest reader must conclude that he had divine assistance.
BATS AND RABIES
Moses specifically forbade the Israelites to eat bats (Leviticus 11:19). The wisdom of this instruction is demonstrated by the fact that bats often carry rabies. While it is true that many animals are susceptible to rabies, bats are especially so. The American College of Emergency Physicians documented that between 1992 and 2002, rabies passed from bats caused 24 of the 26 human deaths from rabies in the United States (“Human Rabies...,” 2002). In the Science Daily article describing this research, “Robert V. Gibbons, MD, MPH, of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, MD., reviewed the 24 cases of humans with bat rabies.” From his research, he advised “the public to seek emergency care for preventive treatment for rabies if direct contact with a bat occurs” (“Human Rabies...,” 2002). Moses’ instruction to avoid bats coincides perfectly with modern research. Once again, the super-human wisdom imparted through Moses by God cannot be denied by the conscientious student of the Old Testament.
It is true that today, equipped with our modern understanding of food preparation and consumption, we usually can safely prepare and eat shellfish, effectively clean surfaces contacted by reptiles, and safely remove the toxins in fish such as the blowfish. But our knowledge has come through literally hundreds of years of detailed scientific experimentation unavailable to the Israelites. The Old Testament food regulations exhibit perfect instructions for a primitive people wandering in the wilderness. The instructions take into account the materials and procedures for food preparation that were available to the Israelites. Working within these limitations, the laws provided for the maximum amount of safe food consumption and health benefits. Modern dieticians and medical professionals who have compared Moses’ instructions to effective modern methods have come to realize the astonishing value and insight of the Old Testament text. As Dr. David Macht wrote: “Every word in the Hebrew Scriptures is well chosen and carries valuable knowledge and deep significance” (1953, p. 450). Such is certainly the case in regard to the laws of food consumption listed in its pages. Indeed, the wisdom found in the Old Testament dietary laws provides excellent evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible.
Dilion, Denise (2005), “Fugu: The Deadly Delicacy,” Welcome Magazine, [On-line], URL:http://www.welcome-moldova.com/articles/fugu.shtml.
“Carlos’ Tragic and Mysterious Illness: How Carlos Almost Died by Eating Contaminated Raw Oysters” (2003), U.S. Food and Drug Administration, [On-line], URL:http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~acrobat/vvfoto.pdf.
Macht, David I. (1953), “An Experimental Pharmacological Appreciatioin of Leviticus XI and Deuteronomy XIV,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, September-October: 27:5.
McLeod, Lianne (2007), “Salmonella and Reptiles,” [On-line], URL:http://exoticpets.about.com/cs/reptiles/a/reptsalmonella.htm.
“Salmonella Bacteria and Reptiles” (2007), ARAV, [On-line], URL:http://www.arav.org/SalmonellaOwner.htm.
“Human Rabies Often Caused by Undetected, Tiny Bat Bites” (2002), Science Daily, [On-line],URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/05/020506074445.htm.
Does God Accept Human Sacrifice?
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Twelve minutes and 45 seconds into Dan Barker’s opening statement in our Darwin Day debate on February 12, 2009, he claimed that the God of the Bible cannot exist because the Bible presents contradictory information about God’s acceptance of human sacrifice. Barker said: “Does He [God—KB] accept human sacrifice? In some verses, ‘Yes,’ in some verses, ‘No.’ Remember the thing about when [sic] Abraham; He asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac” (Butt and Barker, 2009).
This brief statement is the only one that he gave as “evidence” of this alleged Bible contradiction. In our debate he did not cite any verses that he believes show this contradiction. But in chapter 13 of his book godless, he made the same claim and listed several verses. On page 240, he quoted Deuteronomy 12:31: “Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.” Barker then quoted Genesis 22:2: “And he [God—KB] said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of” (KJV). Dan does not offer any comments on these two verses, other than to list them as contradictory.
On close inspection, however, it becomes evident that these two verses cannot be contradictory. From the biblical narrative in Genesis 22, it is clear that God never intended to allow Abraham to kill his son. When Abraham got to the top of the appointed mountain, before he killed his son, God stopped him and showed him a ram caught in a thicket that was provided as a sacrifice instead of Isaac. God knew that He would stop Abraham before the sacrifice (see Lyons, 2009), and thus, never planned to accept a human sacrifice in this instance. If Isaac was never sacrificed, due to God’s intervention, then it cannot be claimed that God accepted human sacrifice on this occasion. In fact, since God stepped in and commanded Abraham not to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22:12), Abraham would have been sinning if he had continued with the sacrifice. It is impossible to claim that God accepted the human sacrifice of Isaac when the Bible specifically states that He prevented it. [NOTE: At this point in the discussion, Barker generally changes the argument, and demands that it was immoral for Abraham to follow God’s commands. That allegation will be dealt with in a future article. It is important to stay focused on Barker’s original allegation of contradiction before moving on to refute his allegation that God is immoral.]
In addition to the incident with Isaac, Barker cited Exodus 22:29 as an example of God accepting human sacrifice. In godless, he quoted this verse on page 240: “For thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors; the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.” With all due respect to Barker, either he has intentionally misled the reader by citing this verse, or he is unaware of its true meaning. Based on his background of Bible study and his claims of biblical knowledge, the former, unfortunately, seems to be the case.
Exodus 22:29 was never intended to mean that the Israelites were supposed to sacrifice their firstborn sons to God. In fact, Exodus 13:13 says, “And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.” What did it mean to redeem the firstborn son? It meant that the Israelites were to give to the Lord five skekels of silver when the firstborn son was one month old (see Numbers 18:16). What was the purpose of redeeming the firstborn son? Moses explained that it was a memorial of the process by which God delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 13:14-15). It is inexcusably poor scholarship for any person who has read the book of Exodus to make such an uninformed statement as to demand that Exodus 22:29 speaks of human sacrifice. We should remember, however, that Barker has admitted his belief that honesty is not always the best tactic for dealing with Christianity or the Bible (Butt, 2003).
As further “evidence” of a Bible contradiction in regard to human sacrifice, Barker cited the story of Jephthah that is found in Judges 11:30-39. In that biblical narrative, Jephthah made a vow to God that, if God would give him victory against his enemies, then Jephthah would sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house upon his return. Jephthah defeated his enemies and his only daughter was the first thing that greeted him. Jephthah was very sorry for his vow, but the text says that he “carried out his vow with her which he had vowed” (Judges 11:39).
In regard to Jephthah’s vow, there are several insurmountable problems with presenting this as an example of God accepting human sacrifice. First, there is considerable evidence that the girl was not killed, she simply was dedicated to the Lord, remained unmarried, and had no children (for a more thorough discussion of Jephthah’s vow, see Miller, 2003). Second, there is no indication that God approved of Jephthah’s vow. If Jephthah offered his daughter as a literal burnt offering, he disobeyed God’s instructions in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:10). The Jephthah incident cannot be used to show that God either asked for human sacrifice, or approved of it.
Furthermore, Barker cited 2 Samuel 21:8-14 as an example of God accepting human sacrifice. Barker quoted those verses as follows: “But the king [David] took the two sons of Rizpah…and the five sons of Michal…and he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest… And after that God was intreated for the land” (2008, pp. 240-241). Again, this narrative offers no proof that God ever accepted human sacrifice. Was it the case that God sometimes demanded that sinful people who deserved capital punishment be put to death for their sins? Yes, it was (see Miller, 2002). Could it be, then, that the descendants of Saul were guilty of offenses that deserved the death penalty? Yes.
Notice that the text indicates that the ones who were hanged were “men” (2 Samuel 21:6), who would have been old enough to be responsible for their moral decisions. Furthermore, notice that the text indicates that Saul’s “house” or “household” was a bloodthirsty house (2 Samuel 21:1), apparently implying that many of his relatives were involved in his murderous plots. In 2 Samuel 16:5-14, the Bible introduces a wicked man named Shimei who was “from the family of the house of Saul” (2 Samuel 16:5). And Saul’s wickedness is documented throughout the book of 1 Samuel. Could it be that Saul’s descendants who were hanged had followed in the wicked paths of many from the “house of Saul” and deserved the death penalty? Yes. Thus, it is once again impossible to use this passage to “prove” that God accepted human sacrifice.
"THE DEATH OF CHRIST
Finally, Barker alleges that the sacrifice of Christ provides an example of God accepting human sacrifice. He cited Hebrews 10:10-12 and 1 Corinthians 5:7 as evidence. Once more, Barker is guilty of egregious textual manipulation and dishonesty. Did God approve of the sinful actions of those who killed Jesus? Absolutely not. In fact, Peter explained that those who killed Jesus had done so with “lawless hands” (Acts 2:23). He further explained that they had to repent of their sins or they would be lost forever (Acts 2:38). While God used the sinful actions of Jesus’ murderers to bring about His purposes (Acts 3:17-19), He never condoned those actions. Those who murdered Jesus violated God’s law; they did not accomplish their dastardly deeds at God’s request, nor with His approval.
Barker is well aware of this truth. In fact, he has spoken in other places about Christ’s atoning sacrifice. In his book Losing Faith in Faith, Barker stated:
Christians do know how to think; but they don’t start deep enough. A thoughtful conclusion is the synthesis of antecedent presuppositions or conclusions. The propitiatory nature of Christ’s sacrificial atonement, for example, is very logical. Logical, that is, if you first accept the existence of sin, the fall of humankind, the wrath of God and divine judgment. If you don’t buy the premises, then, of course, the conclusion cannot be logical (1992, p. 60).
Barker, of course, does not “buy the premises,” but his denial of them does not make them any less logical or true. And if they are true, then he acknowledges that the sacrifice of Christ, although perpetrated by sinful men acting against God’s will, fits logically into the scheme of redemption.
God has never accepted human sacrifice. The examples that Barker has listed fail completely to manifest a contradiction in the Bible concerning God’s policy toward the practice. Barker’s lack of knowledge, or his intentional dishonesty, is evident throughout his discussion of the biblical view of human sacrifice. Since no contradiction exists, the accusation of a Bible contradiction is unfounded, and cannot be used against the Bible or the existence of God. Let us all be gravely reminded that those who twist the Scriptures, and force them to seemingly say what they do not say, do so at their own eternal peril (2 Peter 3:16).
Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: Freedom From Religion Foundation).
Barker, Dan (2008), godless (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press).
Butt, Kyle (2003), “What ‘We All Know’ About a Lie,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1839.
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist?(Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Lyons, Eric (2009), “Does God Really Know Everything?”, [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/607.
Miller, Dave (2002), “Capital Punishment and the Bible,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1974.
Miller, Dave (2003), “Jephthah’s Daughter,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/4709.
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 and Rape
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
One prevalent idea in skeptical circles is that the God of the Old Testament is cruel and condones practices that are immoral. Each example that skeptics have provided to prove this thesis, however, has been shown to be false. We see time and again that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of love that we observe in the life and personality of Jesus Christ. One passage that is incorrectly used to impugn God’s character is Deuteronomy 22:28-29. Moses wrote:
If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.
According to the skeptic, these verses teach that a man who rapes a woman gets to have her as his wife. The skeptic then demands that any God who would reward a rapist with the woman he rapes is wicked and immoral. Thus the God of the Bible cannot be the loving God Christians say He is.
The reason the skeptic at first glance seems to have something of a case is simply because most English translations of these verses do not accurately render the original intent of the Hebrew. To be fair, this issue causes even those who are not skeptically minded some difficulty. When most English speakers hear that a person has “seized” another person, we necessarily jump to the conclusion that it is a violent action against the will of the other person. This problem has been aggravated by the fact that some translations inaccurately and mistakenly translate the word as “rape.” The truth is, however, the Hebrew word in this case translated “seizes” (tapas) can mean many things. Here are some examples of the way it is translated in Deuteronomy 22:28 in several different English translations:
- “lay hold on her” (ASV)
- “taking her” (DRA)
- “and takes her” (NLV/NAB)
- “and hath caught her” (YLT).
By looking at other passages that use the word, we can see that the word tapas sometimes has nothing to do with force, and therefore nothing to do with rape. As Greg Bahnsen has written:
The Hebrew word tapas (“lay hold of her,” emphasized above) simply means to take hold of something, grasp it in hand, and (by application) to capture or seize something. It is the verb used for “handling” the harp and flute (Gen. 4:21), the sword (Ezek. 21:11; 30:21), the sickle (Jer. 50:16), the shield (Jer. 46:9), the oars (Ezek. 27:29), and the bow (Amos 2:15). It is likewise used for “taking” God’s name (Prov. 30:9) or “dealing” with the law of God (Jer. 2:8). Joseph’s garment was “grasped” (Gen. 39:12; cf. 1 Kings 11:30), even as Moses “took” the two tablets of the law (Deut. 9:17)… [T]he Hebrew verb “to handle, grasp, capture” does not in itself indicate anything about the use of force (italics in orig.).
In truth, we use English words in this way on a regular basis. For instance, a brief look at the English word “take” illustrates the point. You can take someone’s cookie, or take a person’s wife, or take a bride to be your wife. The idea of force is not inherent in the word at all. If you take a person in your arms, what have you done? Or if a young man takes a young woman to be his wife, is there force involved? No. Also, think about the English word “hold.” You can take hold of something in a number of ways. We often say that a woman will hold the child in her arms, or a bridegroom takes a bride to “have and to hold.” The Hebrew word tapas is acting in exactly the same way as the English words “hold” and “take” are.
In addition, it is clearly evident from the immediate context of Deuteronomy 22 that rape is not being discussed in verses 28-29. We know that for two primary reasons. First, verses 25-27 give a clear instance in which rape is being discussed. In that case, a man raped a woman, she “cried out” (v. 27), but she was in the country and no one was there to help her. The text says that the man who committed the crime “shall die” (v. 25), but the Israelites were supposed to “do nothing to the young woman” since “there is in the young woman no sin worthy of death” (v. 26). It is of great interest that in this clear case of rape, the text uses a completely different word. The word translated “forces her” in verse 25 is the Hebrew word chazaq and yet in verse 28, the verb has been intentionally changed to tapas (see Shamoun, 2015). Second, the natural reading of verses 28-29 makes it evident that both parties are guilty of at least some of the blame. Notice that at the end of verse 28 the text says, “and they are found out.” When the passage discusses the obvious case of rape, the text specifically only mentions the man in verse 25 when it says “then only the man who lay with her,” and conspicuously leaves out any indication of “they” being involved in the sin. Dr. Bahsen compares Deuteronomy 22:28-29 to Exodus 22:16, which reads, “If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife” (1992). Notice that in this verse in Exodus, there is no force and both parties shoulder some of the guilt.
The practical value of God’s instruction in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 is easy to see. A man has sexual intercourse with a young woman who is not betrothed to anyone. There is no force involved, and it is not rape. But their action has been discovered. Now, who in the land of Israel wanted to marry a young girl who has not kept herself pure? The man cannot walk away from his sin. He has put the young woman in a very difficult life situation, in which there would be few (or no) other men who would want to marry her. Since it was often the case that women had an extremely difficult time financially without the help of a husband, this would be even more devastating to the young woman. God holds both the parties accountable, instructing them to get married and stay together, both suffer the shame, and work through the difficulties that they have brought on themselves. Nothing could be more moral, loving, and wise than these instructions. Once again, the skeptical charge against God’s love is without foundation.
Bahnsen, Greg (1992), “Premarital Sexual Relations: What is the Moral Obligation When Repeated Incidents are Confessed,” Covenant Media Foundation,http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pe152.htm.
Shamoun, Sam (2015), “The Old Testament and Rape,” http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/ot_and_rape.htm.
The Non-Crucified Non-Saviors of the World
|by||Dewayne Bryant, M.A.|
Today the church finds itself bombarded with all kinds of criticism. One of these is the notion that Christianity owes its origins to pagan religions. One particularly troubling issue for some Christians is the massive amount of misinformation circulating on the Internet concerning the various “crucified saviors” of the world. Jesus is claimed to be no different than dozens of other saviors who were crucified for the sins of mankind, and later resurrected. If this were true, then Jesus would be merely a Johnny-come-lately to the religious scene, no different and no more authoritative than Zeus, Odin, or Thor.
The nineteenth century was the seedbed of comparative religion, which sought to analyze and discover the connections between various world religions. Critics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were guilty of glossing over important differences for the sake of making connections between different religious traditions, including Christianity. Usually these connections were highly dubious in nature, and no real scholar uses this approach today. While it can be shown that some ancient pagan religions migrated, developed, and influenced others over time, Christianity is a different matter altogether.
Critics today—who almost universally have no training in ancient religion, philosophy, or languages—can be quite adamant that Christianity plagiarized ancient mythology when constructing the Bible and its supposed mythological traditions about Jesus. This idea is found in documentaries such as Bill Maher’s Religulous, Brian Flemming’s The God Who Wasn’t There, Peter Joseph’s Zeitgeist, the Movie, as well as in publications such as those by Dorothy M. Murdock’s The Sons of God, The Christ Conspiracy, and Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection. All of these promote the idea of the “mythic Christ.”
Where did the idea of the mythic Christ originate? Much of it began in the writings of two amateur Egyptologists named Godfrey Higgins (1772-1833) and Gerald Massey (1829-1907). Both wrote extensively on the idea of the mythic Christ. They claimed one parallel after another between the Bible and pagan mythology, making it appear as if the biblical writers borrowed stories wholesale from ancient tales. Almost all scholars today recognize that this approach is fundamentally flawed. For nearly all of the supposed parallels these two men discovered, scholars today say without hesitation that no genetic connection exists between the Bible and the myths these two men examined.
Neither Higgins nor Massey was a scholar or academician, and both were self-taught religious enthusiasts (this generally holds true for all proponents of the Christ myth theory). More importantly, neither is remembered in the history of scholarship today. Writers such as Dorothy Murdock—a vocal proponent of the Christ myth theory—laments that these supposed intellectual titans have been forgotten. She heaps effusive praise upon Massey in particular (2009, pp. 13-26), calling him a “pioneer.” In truth, neither one of them had any ideas worth remembering. They are virtually unknown in modern Egyptology.
The work of Higgins and Massey was picked up and continued most famously by Kersey Graves, who authored the book The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors (1919). This woefully outdated book is still standard reading for militant atheists. Unfortunately, Graves’ fans do not appear to realize that his book was based on the work of our two error-prone amateurs. To make matters worse, Graves did not appear to consult the original myths himself. It appears that he may have even falsified some of his work. In all of the cases of his “crucified saviors,” unlike Jesus, none were actually crucified, and none of them died salvific deaths, that is in behalf of the salvation of others. Indeed, some of them never died.
The chart below gives the names of the gods that Graves and others traditionally claim were crucified saviors. The problems become apparent rather quickly:
Adonis dies when he is gored by a bull on a hunting trip.
In a moment of madness, Attis commits suicide by emasculating himself.
The text is unclear, but it appears Baal is slain in personal battle with Mot, the Canaanite god of death.
Bacchus is the Roman equivalent of Dionysus, whose body is almost completely devoured by the Titans, who leave only his heart.
In the Norse myths, Balder is invincible to all known objects, except for mistletoe. One of the gods’ pastimes is throwing objects at Balder, who cannot be harmed. Loki crafts a magical spear from this plant and tricks the god Hodur into throwing it at Balder, killing him.
Supposedly a Japanese figure. Either Graves had a bad source, or he simply invented the name, as no figure with this name exists in Far Eastern literature. It may be that he meant to say “Beddou,” who is a Japanese figure some have equated with the Buddha. Regardless, there is no record of the crucifixion of this individual, if he even existed in any of the literature.
This is uncertain, but appears to be the name of the Buddha in some places in the Far East. The literature states that the Buddha died at 80 of a natural illness, though some say he was poisoned. Either way, he never died on a cross, and Buddhism has no need of a personal savior, anyway.
The Greek god of wine and the grapevine had a tough childhood. When an infant, the Titans devour his body, leaving only his heart behind. He is later reborn.
Hercules dies when he is burned alive on a funeral pyre.
Hermes never dies in the Greek myths.
Horus never dies in the Egyptian myths.
Krishna is mortally wounded when a hunter accidentally shoots him in the heel with an arrow.
Mithras does not die in the Persian myths.
In one account, Orpheus is torn apart by Maenads, the female followers of Dionysus, for failing to honor their master. In other accounts he either commits suicide or is struck by one of Zeus’ lightning bolts.
Osiris is killed when his brother Seth drowns him in the Nile. Seth later recovers the body and dismembers it.
Originally called Dumuzi by the Sumerians, Tammuz is taken to the underworld when his lover, Inanna, is given a deal where she can be released if she finds a substitute. She is enraged that Tammuz is not mourning her death, so she chooses him to take her place in the realm of the dead. There is no mention of crucifixion.
Thor dies in Ragnarok, the final battle that will end the world, when he is bitten by a giant serpent.
According to one ancient source, Zoroaster was murdered while at an altar.
Upon even a cursory inspection, it becomes clear that none of the so-called “crucified saviors” were actually crucified. Indeed, none of them are saviors, dying for the sins of humanity. Self-sacrifice was not involved. Instead, many did not die at all, or died an accidental death, or were murdered. Worse yet, none of them resurrected from a tomb. A few of the divine figures on the list were revived (or deified), but in a different manner than the Christian concept of resurrection. In short, this list consists purely of non-crucified non-saviors. Why are these connections made if they never truly existed? In short, it is due to careless research and preconceived biases that are immune to evidence.
While the idea of the pagan or mythic Christ draws from a variety of ancient mythologies, it is heavily influenced by Egyptian mythology, perhaps because the early proponents of this theory worked primarily with myths from Egypt. They also made connections based on preposterously thin evidence. Some examples of the typical connections include the following from Gerald Massey’s book Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ:
- Jesus’ casting of a group of demons calling themselves “Legion” into a group of pigs, which is equated with a story in which Horus turns someone into a pig (1996, pp. 62-63).
- Jesus and Horus are each claimed to have had two mothers—two Marys for Jesus, and the goddesses Isis and Nephthys for Horus (p. 118).
- Herod the Great, despite being a well-known figure to historians, is equated with Herrut, the Typhonian Serpent (p. 95).
In their book Unmasking the Pagan Christ, Porter and Bedard summarize Massey’s position this way:
[H]is conclusions rely on exaggerations and forced parallels that too often used later interpretations o the Gospels, rather than the primary texts themselves. To make matters worse, Massey cites numerous parallels without any indication of the original references in the Egyptian texts. Massey also begins the practice…of describing Egyptian myths with biblical language in an attempt to find a causal link (Porter and Bedard 2006, p. 30).
If the idea of a “crucified savior” had been as common as the critics allege, then it would not have been included among the criticisms leveled against the early Christians. The apostle Paul stated that the cross was a stumbling block to the Greeks (1 Corinthians 1:23), which would have been quite strange if the Greeks recognized any of the so-called “crucified saviors” mentioned by Graves and others. Justin Martyr admitted that preaching a crucified Christ appeared to be madness: “[The opponents of the church] say that our madness lies in the fact that we put a crucified man in second place to the unchangeable and eternal God, the creator of the world” (Apology I, 13.4). If everyone had crucified gods, then they would not have criticized the Christians for having one, too.
The picture that quickly emerges when looking at the original sources is one of exceedingly poor research on the part of the critics. It is one thing to make an honest mistake, but their litany of errors is academically unacceptable. At times, even other skeptics and atheists chide their fellow unbelievers for their careless work. Writing a review of Zeitgeist, the Movie in the magazineSkeptical Inquirer, leading skeptic Tim Callahan is highly critical of the “sloppy assumptions” in the documentary, concluding, “Zeitgeist is The Da Vinci Code on steroids” (Callahan, 2009, p. 67).
Some of this sloppy work includes failing to cite sources properly. Graves was not the only one guilty of failing to cite his sources or inventing material out of whole cloth. Of the pseudo-scholars in the 19th and early 20th century who promoted the Christy myth theory, apologist J.P. Holding says,
Kersey Graves…assures the reader that he has before him plenty of original documentation for his claims of crucifixion parallels, but…doesn’t have room to include any. And this is the rule, not the exception. Lundy, Higgins, Inman, Graves, Doane, etc., they all claim they have read or heard this or that, but none of them can site[sic]a single source document (Holding, 2008, p. 376, italics in orig.).
Because of its manifold problems, the idea of the mythic Christ is difficult even for many atheists to swallow. On the anti-Christian Web site Infidels.org, historian and atheist Richard Carrier lists ten major problems with Graves’ work, the last of which is that “Graves’ scholarship is obsolete, having been vastly improved upon by new methods, materials, discoveries, and textual criticism in the century since he worked” (Carrier, 2003). Scholars see Graves’ work as worthless. Critics find it absolutely indispensible, perhaps because there are no scholarly treatments that agree with their presuppositions.
The Christ myth theory has not been answered by many scholars, simply because they choose not to waste their time debunking fringe theories. Experts are usually preoccupied with teaching and research, with a few of them engaged in archaeology and other academic pursuits as well. This leaves little time for answering the preposterous claims of the “Christ mythers.” (In personal e-mails to three leading New Testament scholars, each noted that the Christ myth theory holds no place of respect in modern scholarship. Ben Witherington III of Asbury Theological Seminary said, “[T]his whole discussion is considered beyond the pale and beyond belief, even with liberals.” When asked whether the paucity of scholarly material on the pagan Christ was because scholars do not waste their time on “crackpot theories,” Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary said, “I think you have got the reason you cannot find stuff.” Thomas Schreiner of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary confessed, “I do not know anything about this issue…. I am tempted to think it is the lunatic fringe.” The issue is so intellectually bankrupt that liberal scholarship does not endorse it, and other scholars may not even be familiar with it).
Critics will always “discover” parallels between Christianity and pagan religions in the attempt to make believers look foolish. Ironically, this quest only demonstrates their own academic shortcomings. Time and time again Christianity demonstrates its uniqueness among the world religions. It is the hallmark of truth for a world in desperate need of history’s one and only crucified Savior.
Callahan, Tim (2009), “Greatest Story Ever Garbled: A Critique of ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’—Part I of the Internet Film Zeitgeist,” Skeptic, 15:61-67.
Carrier, Richard (2003), “Kersey Graves and the World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors,” http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/graves.html.
Graves, Kersey (1919), The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors or Christianity Before Christ (New York: Peter Eckler Publishing), sixth edition.
Holding, James P. (2008), Shattering the Christ Myth: Did Jesus Not Exist? (Maitland, FL: Xulon Press).
Massey, Gerald (1996), Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ (Whitefish, MT: Kessenger).
Murdock, Dorothy M. (2009), Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection (Seattle, WA: Stellar House).
Porter, Stanley E. and Stephen J. Bedard (2006), Unmasking the Pagan Christ (Toronto, ON: Clements Publishing).