The Watchtower - April 2012
|The Watchtower April 1, 2012 - Jesus Christ: The Answers to Our Questions|
The cover of The Watchtower April 1, 2012 - Jesus Christ: The Answers to Our Questions.
|Author(s)||Watchtower Bible and Tract Society|
|Publisher||Watchtower Bible and Tract Society|
The Watchtower is an illustrated religious magazine, published semi-monthly in 195 languages by Jehovah's Witnesses via the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. This article discusses the April 1, 2012 issue of the public edition.
In Search of Answers
This issue of The Watchtower magazine opens with an article that asks the question "Who was Jesus?". The article suggests that the Bible, described as a "reliable source of information," can provide us with "authoritative answers to our questions about Jesus." It goes on to state that "the Bible is the Word of God and that it alone tells us the whole truth about Jesus."
It should then be examined whether or not the Bible is a "reliable source of information" as is claimed.
The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that, "in the opinion of most modern scholars, the Bible is not an entirely reliable historical document." They go on to say that, "outside fundamentalist circles, modern consensus suggests that the assembling and editing of the documents that were to constitute the Bible began in the seventh century BCE, some three centuries after David's time. (The earliest actual material in our possession, part of the Dead Sea Scrolls, dates to the second century BCE at the earliest)." In addition, the account of Joshua's conquest of Canaan is inconsistent with the archaeological evidence. Cities supposedly conquered by Joshua were destroyed long before he came on the scene. Some, such as Ai and Arad, had been ruins for a 1000 years.
In 1999, Ze'ev Herzog, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv University, wrote a cover story for the weekend magazine of the national daily newspaper, Ha'aretz. In the essay, Herzog states, "the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land [of Canaan] in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the twelve tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united kingdom of David and Solomon, described in the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom."  In fact, many scholars and historians have argued that there is so little evidence supporting the stories of the Old Testament, that the scriptures themselves should be regarded as a collection of myths and legends no different than that of King Arthur.
Furthermore, Israel Finkelstein, chairman of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University, with archaeology historian Neil Asher Silberman, published a book in 2002 called "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Text." They argue that "an emotional, religious or political agenda, rather than a judicious weighing of the facts," drives the research of many who would defend the teachings of the Bible.
This demonstrates that the Bible is not a "reliable source of information" as claimed.
Jesus Christ: Our Questions Answered
This article begins by stating that Jesus "openly mingled with people in their villages and cities" and that he "preached and taught publicly." It goes on to ask six questions about Jesus, positing that the "four Biblical Gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John" can be used to answer these questions.
Was Jesus really a historical person?
The Watchtower says, "yes", claiming that the Gospels and "secular historians, including Josephus and Tacitus of the first century, mention Jesus as a historical figure."
The first thing that should be examined here is the Bible itself and the evidence it provides for the existence of Jesus as a historical figure.
The earliest known writings about Jesus, dated 52-67 CE (earlier even than the Gospels), come from Paul, a man who never even met Jesus but who wrote about having seen him in a vision. In fact, Paul's teachings are often incompatible or outright contradictions with those of Jesus in the Gospels.
Turning our attention to the Gospels of the New Testament, we find that Matthew and Luke give two contradictory genealogies for Joseph, Jesus' father (Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38). Furthermore, of all the writers of the New Testament, only Matthew and Luke ever make mention of the virgin birth. One would expect that Mark and John would have at least mentioned it in their efforts to convince the world that Jesus was who they were claiming him to be, yet no reference to his birth is ever made. Paul does refer to Jesus' birth, but again makes no mention of it being a virgin birth, saying that Jesus "sprang from the seed of David" (Romans 1:3) and who came "out of a woman," (Galatians 4:4) not a virgin.
According to Matthew, Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1). According to Luke, Jesus was born during the first census in Israel, while Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:2). It is impossible for both of these to be true because Herod died in March of 4 BCE  and the census did not take place until 6 and 7 CE, nearly 10 years after Herod's death. Furthermore, no archeological evidence of such a census exists and there is disagreement whether the Roman Empire would require people to return to their ancestral city for a census.
Both Matthew and Luke say that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:6 quotes Micah 5:2 in an attempt to show that this was in fulfillment of prophecy. What is interesting is that Matthew actually misquotes Micah (compare the two verses) in order to draw this link. Although this particular misquote is of little significance, Matthew's apparent poor understanding of Hebrew has greater significance later in his gospel. Luke speaks of Mary and Joseph traveling from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:4). Matthew, in contradiction to Luke, says that it was only after the birth of Jesus that Mary and Joseph went to Nazareth, and then only because they were afraid to return to Judea (Matthew 2:21-23).
Obvious geographical and cultural errors suggest that Mark had never visited and knew very little about Palestine. The authors of Matthew and Luke got most of their info from Mark (with Luke even correcting some of the errors of customs in Mark), often copying Mark verbatim.
Mark, the earliest of the gospels, mentions nothing of Jesus' early life, beginning with Jesus' ministry. It appears not to discuss Jesus' rising at all. Linguists have argued that the mention of the Risen Jesus in Mark was added. Many parts of the gospels were added after their first version, such as the end of Mark 16, and the story of Jesus saying, "Let he without sin cast the first stone." There is a whole list of fragments that were added later.
This evidence, cited directly from the Bible itself, again calls into question the statement made earlier by The Watchtower that the Bible is a "reliable source of information."
The Watchtower also makes mention of "secular historians, including Josephus and Tacitus of the first century," as evidence for the existence of Jesus.
- Josephus Flavius
Josephus Flavius, a Jewish historian, was the earliest non-Christian to mention Jesus. His birth in 37 CE, well after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus, means he could not have been an eyewitness to any of the events attributed to Jesus' life. Furthermore, Antiquities of the Jews (the only Josephus text with a claimed reference to Jesus) was not written until 93 CE, later even than the first gospels. In Antiquities of the Jews, the following paragraph can be found:
Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works — a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal man amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.
— Josephus Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3
This certainly appears to give secular historical confirmation for the existence of Jesus, but is it truly authentic? Most modern scholars will admit that at least some, if not all, of this paragraph is not authentic, even the Catholic Encyclopedia agrees. Many are convinced that the entire paragraph is a forgery, an interpolation inserted by Christians at a later time. Even Christian scholars widely consider the paragraph to be a brazen forgery.
Those who are best acquainted with the character of Josephus, and the style of his writings, have no hesitation in condemning this passage as a forgery, interpolated in the text during the third century by some pious Christian, who was scandalized that so famous a writer as Josephus should have taken no notice of the gospels, or of Christ, their subject. But the zeal of the interpolator has outrun his discretion, for we might as well expect to gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles, as to find this notice of Christ among the Judaizing writings of Josephus. It is well known that this author was a zealous Jew, devoted to the laws of Moses and the traditions of his countrymen. How, then, could he have written that Jesus was the Christ? Such an admission would have proved him to be a Christian himself, in which case the passage under consideration, too long for a Jew, would have been far too short for a believer in the new religion, and thus the passage stands forth, like an ill-set jewel, contrasting most inharmoniously with everything around it. If it had been genuine, we might be sure that Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Chrysostom would have quoted it in their controversies with the Jews, and that Origen or Photius would have mentioned it. But Eusebius, the ecclesiastical historian (I, ii), is the first who quotes it, and our reliance on the judgment or even honesty of this writer is not so great as to allow our considering everything found in his works as undoubtedly genuine.
— The Rev. Dr. Giles of the Established Church of England, Christian Records, p. 30
As stated by the Rev. Dr. Giles, the paragraph is absent from early copies of the works of Josephus. For example, in Origen's second century Origen Contra Celsum, where Origen passionately defends Christianity against the views of Celsus, he quotes from Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews extensively, never once using this paragraph, which is easily the most significant for use in defense of Christianity. Also noted by Rev. Dr. Giles, it is highly unlikely Josephus would ever have called Jesus "the Christ" or "the truth." Josephus was a messianic Jew, and if he truly believed Jesus was the Messiah, he certainly would have given more than a passing reference to him. Even Origen, in his defense of Christianity, admitted that Josephus was "not believing in Jesus as Christ." In fact, the paragraph does not appear at all until the early fourth century, during the time of Constantine. Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea is the first person known to have ever quoted this paragraph of Josephus. Eusebius once wrote that it was permissible "medicine" for historians to create fictions for the benefit of their beliefs. This prompted historian Jacob Burckhardt to call Eusebius "the first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity." It has been suggested that the passage may have been Eusebius' own fabrication, in order to provide an outside Jewish authority for the life of Christ.
Tacitus was born in 64 CE, well after the death of Jesus. He makes a brief and singular mention of a "Chrestus", giving no source for his material, he says:
Nero looked around for a scapegoat, and inflicted the most fiendish tortures on a group of persons already hated for their crimes. This was the sect known as Christians. Their founder, one Chrestus, had been put to death by the procurator, Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. This checked the abominable superstition for a while, but it broke out again and spread, not merely through Judea, where it originated, but even to Rome itself, the great reservoir and collecting ground for every kind of depravity and filth. Those who confessed to being Christians were at once arrested, but on their testimony a great crowd of people were convicted, not so much on the charge of arson, but of hatred of the entire human race.
— Tacitus, Annals, Book XV, Sec. 44
Tacitus refers to Christians as "hated for their crimes" and associated with "depravity and filth." Because this is not a favorable picture, it is regarded as less likely to be Christian propaganda. Tacitus claims no first-hand knowledge of Christianity, but is merely repeating the then common ideas about Christians. This is therefore no more than hearsay, akin to someone today relaying a story given to them second hand.
Interestingly, there is no historical corroborating evidence that Nero ever persecuted Christians so vigorously. Origen of Alexandria, one of the great Christian theologians of the time, made no mention of these persecutions. Both Trajan and Pliny the Younger were alive when the Tacitus comment claims that Christians were held responsible for burning down 2/3 of the city of Rome. As Roman aristocrats it would seem that both Pliny and Trajan would have said something about this sect of arsonists living in their midst. So, on the one hand we are asked to believe that these stories were rampant when Tacitus was writing the Annals at the same general time as Pliny was governor of Asia Minor, but on the other hand, Pliny and Trajan make no mention of these events. Clement of Alexandria, at the beginning of the third century, made a compilation of all of the recognitions of Christianity that had been made by Pagan writers up to this time - Tacitus is not among them. Similarly, in the fourth century, Eusebius cites all the evidence of Christianity obtainable from Jewish and Pagan sources - again, Tacitus is not mentioned. Tacitus himself when dealing with this same period in his earlier work, Histories 5.9.2, gives no hint of this event. To the contrary, he says that at this time "all was quiet."
Another problem is that no one in the second century ever quoted this passage of Tacitus, and in fact it appears almost verbatim in the writings of Sulpicius Severus, in the fourth century, where it is mixed in with various other myths of the time. The passage is therefore regarded as suspect by many historians.
Furthermore, there is evidence that these works of Tacitus have been tampered with. The surviving copies of Tacitus' works derive from two principal manuscripts, known as the Medicean manuscripts, which are held in the Laurentian Library in Florence, Italy, and written in Latin. The second Medicean manuscript is the oldest surviving copy of the passage describing "Christians." In this manuscript, the first 'i' of the Christianos is quite distinct in appearance from the second, looking somewhat smudged, and lacking the long tail of the second 'i'; additionally, there is a large gap between the first 'i' and the subsequent 'long s'. Latin scholar Georg Andresen was one of the first to comment on the appearance of the first 'i' and subsequent gap, suggesting in 1902 that the text had been altered, and an 'e' had originally been in the text, rather than this 'i'.
In 1950, at historian Harald Fuchs' request, Dr. Teresa Lodi, the director of the Laurentian Library, examined the features of this item of the manuscript; she concluded that there are still signs of an 'e' being erased, by removal of the upper and lower horizontal portions, and distortion of the remainder into an 'i'. In 2008, Dr. Ida Giovanna Rao, the new head of the Laurentian Library's manuscript office, repeated Lodi's study, and concluded that it is likely that the 'i' is a correction of some earlier character (like an e), the change being made an extremely subtle one. Later the same year, it was discovered that under ultraviolet light, an 'e' is clearly visible in the space, meaning that the passage must originally have referred to chrestianos, a Latinized Greek word which could be interpreted as the good, after the Greek word χρηστός (chrestos), meaning "good, useful", rather than strictly a follower of "Christ".
If Jesus "openly mingled with people in their villages and cities" and "preached and taught publicly" as The Watchtower claims, why is it that the only secular historical references they provide are revealed as suspicious when subjected to a critical eye? Clearly there exists sufficient evidence to question the authenticity of the sources cited by The Watchtower.
Is Jesus actually God?
The Watchtower says, "no", saying that Jesus repeatedly demonstrated that "he was subordinate to Jehovah." They cite several scriptures as examples where Jesus appears to describe himself and God as two distinct entities. Among them:
- Matthew 27:46
46 About the ninth hour Jesus called out with a loud voice, saying: “E´li, E´li, la´ma sa·bach·tha´ni?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
- John 17:1-3
1 Jesus spoke these things, and, raising his eyes to heaven, he said: “Father, the hour has come; glorify your son, that your son may glorify you, 2 according as you have given him authority over all flesh, that, as regards the whole [number] whom you have given him, he may give them everlasting life. 3 This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.
- John 8:17-18
17 Also, in YOUR own Law it is written, ‘The witness of two men is true.’ 18 I am one that bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me."
Though it is not specifically mentioned in this issue of The Watchtower, another commonly cited scripture by Jehovah's Witnesses is John 14:28, where Jesus is said to state, "the Father is greater than I am."
A reasonable question to ask would then be, if this is stated so clearly within the Bible, why do most of the various religions of Christianity adhere to the belief that Jesus was God? A closer look at the scriptures helps to answer that question, as it turns out there are a number of scriptures that seem to indicate Jesus is God, further obfuscating the facts.
- John 10:38
38 But if I am doing them, even though YOU do not believe me, believe the works, in order that YOU may come to know and may continue knowing that the Father is in union with me and I am in union with the Father.”
- John 20:28
28 In answer Thomas said to him: “My Lord and my God!”
- Colossians 1:16
16 because by means of [Jesus] all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him.
- 1 Timothy 3:15-16
15 but in case I am delayed, that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in God’s household, which is the congregation of [the] living God, a pillar and support of the truth. 16 Indeed, the sacred secret of this godly devotion is admittedly great: ‘He was made manifest in flesh, was declared righteous in spirit, appeared to angels, was preached about among nations, was believed upon in [the] world, was received up in glory.’
- Titus 2:13
13 while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus
- Revelation 1:8
8 “I am the Al´pha and the O·me´ga,” says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.”
- The previous scripture is important because it establishes Jehovah God as "the Alpha and the Omega," but the following two scriptures refer to Jesus as "the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last.
- Revelation 1:17
17 And when I saw him, I fell as dead at his feet. And he laid his right hand upon me and said: “Do not be fearful. I am the First and the Last
- Revelation 22:13
13 I am the Al´pha and the O·me´ga, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
At the very least it can be said that the Bible is inconsistent about this, to the point that even now there are several competing interpretations of the text.
Was Jesus just a good man?
The Watchtower answers "no", saying, "he was far more than that. Jesus understood that he filled a number of important roles in carrying out God's will." They go on to list four of those roles:
- "Only-begotten Son of God." (John 3:18) The Watchtower says that Jesus "knew his roots" and "his life actually began long before his birth on earth." They refer to John 6:38 where Jesus explains, "I have come down from heaven."
- "Son of man." (Matthew 8:20) The Watchtower asks, "how did God's only-begotten Son come to be born as a human?" answering with, "by means of holy spirit, Jehovah transferred his Son's life into the womb of the Jewish virgin Mary, causing conception to take place." They continue, "As a result, Jesus was born sinless and perfect" (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35; John 8:46).
- "Teacher." (John 13:13) Here The Watchtower says Jesus' God-given work was "teaching... and preaching the good news" about God's Kingdom, saying that with "remarkable clarity and simplicity," Jesus explained what God's Kingdom is (Matthew 6:9-10).
- "The Word." (John 1:1) The Watchtower says that "Jesus served as God's Spokesman" to "deliver His message to humans on earth" (John 7:16-17).
If Jesus was "born sinless and perfect," why then is he later baptized by John? In Matthew 3:11 John explains that he baptizes with water "because of your repentance." For what did Jesus have to repent? In Mark 10:18 (also, copied verbatim in Luke 18:19) Jesus says, "why do you call me good? Nobody is good, except one, God." Here, Jesus implies that he himself is not perfect and without sin. That is, if the Jehovah's Witnesses belief that Jesus is not God is accurate, however if Jesus and God are one in the same the passage makes sense in defense of Jesus as perfect and sinless.
Was Jesus the promised Messiah?
The Watchtower says, "yes", claiming that there are "three lines of evidence" that can be gleaned from the Bible.
- 1. His lineage. The Watchtower says "the Bible foretold that the Messiah would descend from Abraham through the family line of David" and that "Jesus was a descendant of both," citing Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38.
- What is especially interesting about the cited scriptures is that they contradict one another numerous times, being unable to agree even on who the father of Joseph was.
- 2. Fulfilled prophecies. The Watchtower says "the Hebrew Scriptures contain dozens of prophecies about the Messiah's life on earth," going on to say that "Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies."
- Among these prophecies are the following:
- a. The virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14)
This verse is part of a prophecy that Isaiah relates to King Ahaz regarding the fate of the two kings threatening Judah at that time. In the original Hebrew, the word almah (a young woman of childbearing age who has not yet had a child), not bethuwlah (the Hebrew word for virgin), is used. The young woman became a virgin only when the Hebrew word almah was mistranslated into the Greek word parthenos (unequivocally a virgin). Also, logic dictates that if this passage did apply to Jesus, he should have been named Immanuel instead of Jesus.
- a. The virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14)
- b. The "massacre of the innocents" (Jeremiah 31:15)
Matthew claims that Herod, in an attempt to kill the newborn Messiah, had all the male children two years old and under put to death in Bethlehem, and that this was in fulfillment of prophecy (Matthew 2:16-18). Although Herod was certainly guilty of many monstrous crimes, including the murder of his wife and two of his sons, no other known source from the period makes reference to any such massacre, including Josephus, cited earlier by The Watchtower as a trusted secular historian. Modern biographers of Herod doubt the event ever took place.
- b. The "massacre of the innocents" (Jeremiah 31:15)
- c. Jesus was "called out of Egypt" (Hosea 11:1)
Matthew says that the return of Jesus from Egypt was in fulfillment of prophecy (Matthew 2:15). However, Matthew quotes only the second half of Hosea 11:1. The first half of this verse indicates that the verse refers to God calling the Israelites out of Egypt during the exodus led by Moses (Exodus 4:22-23). In fact, many historians are of the opinion that the flight into Egypt, as described by Matthew, never happened in the first place.
- c. Jesus was "called out of Egypt" (Hosea 11:1)
- d. Jesus as savior and king (Matthew 1:20-23, 2:13 ; Luke 1:26-38)
In Matthew, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him that Mary's child will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:20-23, 2:13). In Luke, an angel tells Mary that her son will be great, he will be called Son of the Most High and will rule over the house of Jacob forever (Luke 1:26-38). If this were true, wouldn't Mary and Joseph have held Jesus in the highest regard? Instead, we read in Mark that his family grabbed hold of him saying, "He has gone out of his mind" (Mark 3:20-21). Later, Jesus even complains that he received no honor among his own family and his own household (Mark 6:4-6).
- d. Jesus as savior and king (Matthew 1:20-23, 2:13 ; Luke 1:26-38)
- 3. God's own testimony. The Watchtower here cites various scriptures indicating that Jehovah "spoke from heaven, expressing his approval of Jesus" (Matthew 3:16-17, 17:1-5), and that "Jehovah enabled Jesus to perform powerful miracles, providing further proof that Jesus was the Messiah" (Acts 10:38).
- Given the only sources provided are those of biblical authors whose accounts of events are demonstrably contradictory, unverifiable, and not corroborated by any known secular sources of the time, this "evidence" is dubious at best.
Why did Jesus have to suffer and die?
The Watchtower presents this as the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy saying that the "Messiah would have to suffer and die to cover the sins of others" (Isaiah 53:5; Daniel 9:24, 26). Using Matthew 20:28 they say that Jesus came "to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many."
Jesus' sacrificial death, to rescue us "from sin and death" so that we may live "forever in a Paradise on earth" is one of the core doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Can we really believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead?
The Watchtower says, "yes", citing Matthew 16:21 as evidence that Jesus "fully expected to be raised from the dead." Matthew even goes on to describe the event of Jesus' death, Matthew 27:45,51-53 says:
45 From the sixth hour on a darkness fell over all the land, until the ninth hour. 51 And, look! the curtain of the sanctuary was rent in two, from top to bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rock-masses were split. 52 And the memorial tombs were opened and many bodies of the holy ones that had fallen asleep were raised up, 53 (and persons, coming out from among the memorial tombs after his being raised up, entered into the holy city,) and they became visible to many people.
None of these miracles as described by Matthew, such as the dead rising from their tombs and visiting Jerusalem ("visible to many people") or a three hour long eclipse following Jesus' death, are ever mentioned by any contemporary historians and scholars. Surely extraordinary events such as this, if they had actually occurred, would bear mentioning by at least some of the scholars of the time. However, these events are not even mentioned by the other gospel writers (Mark, Luke, and John).
In addition to this, the accounts of Jesus' resurrection given in the gospels vary wildly from one another.
- Who found the empty tomb?
- According to Matthew 28:1, only "Mary Mag´da·lene and the other Mary"
- According to Mark 16:1, "Mary Mag´da·lene, and Mary the mother of James, and Sa·lo´me"
- According to Luke 24:10, "They were the Mag´da·lene Mary, and Jo·an´na, and Mary the [mother] of James. Also, the rest of the women with them"
- According to John 20:1-4 "Mary Mag´da·lene came to the memorial tomb" alone, saw the stone removed, ran to find Peter, and returned to the tomb with Peter and another disciple.
- What did they find at the tomb?
- According to Matthew 28:2-4, an angel of the Lord with an appearance like lightning was sitting on the stone that had been rolled away. Also present were the guards that Pilate had contributed. On the way back from the tomb the women meet Jesus (Matthew 28:9).
- According to Mark 16:5, upon entering the tomb they "saw a young man sitting on the right side clothed in a white robe, and they were stunned."
- According to Luke 24:2-4, they "found the stone rolled away from the memorial tomb" and it was not until they entered the tomb and realized Jesus' body was missing that "two men in flashing clothing" appeared beside them.
- According to John 20:4-14, they find an empty tomb, containing only wrappings. Peter and the disciple "went back to their homes" but Mary stayed behind. It was then that Mary saw "two angels in white sitting one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been lying." After a short conversation with the angels, Mary turns around to find Jesus.
- Who did they tell about it?
- According to Matthew 28:8, "they ran to report to his disciples."
- According to Mark 16:8, "they told nobody anything"
- According to Luke 24:9, they "reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest."
- According to John 20:18, Mary announces to the disciples: "I have seen the Lord!"
Richard Carrier wrote on the supposed resurrection:
Can you imagine a movement today claiming that a soldier in World War Two rose physically from the dead, but when you asked for proof all they offered you were a mere handful of anonymous religious tracts written in the 1980's? Would it be even remotely reasonable to believe such a thing on so feeble a proof? Well—no.
— Richard Carrier, Why I Don't Buy the Resurrection Story
Because the gospels were deliberately altered, mistranslated many times, contradict each other, and changed over the decades of oral traditions, there is no sound basis for accepting them in their totality as literal truth or trustworthy historical documents.
Do the Answers Matter?
This section of The Watchtower opens with the following scripture from John 8:32.
32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
The Watchtower then asserts that the Bible can "set us free from confusing or even misleading beliefs about Jesus." However, when exploring questions about Jesus earlier in this analysis, we identified several biblical verses regarding Jesus that are contradictory or confusing.
Examining biblical references to Jesus further we find that in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 the Messiah is prophesied to be literally descended from David:
12 When your days come to the full, and you must lie down with your forefathers, then I shall certainly raise up your seed after you, which will come out of your inward parts; and I shall indeed firmly establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one that will build a house for my name, and I shall certainly establish the throne of his kingdom firmly to time indefinite. 14 I myself shall become his father, and he himself will become my son. When he does wrong, I will also reprove him with the rod of men and with the strokes of the sons of Adam. 15 As for my loving-kindness, it will not depart from him the way I removed it from Saul, whom I removed on account of you. 16 And your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast to time indefinite before you; your very throne will become one firmly established to time indefinite.
As discussed above, the gospels of Matthew (1:1-17) and Luke (3:23-38) provide two contradictory genealogies for Jesus, but both depict him as descended from David, with Romans 1:3 saying that Jesus "sprang from the seed of David" lending further biblical corroboration to this belief. However, if the virgin birth is to be believed then Jesus is not actually the son of Joseph, making the virgin birth doctrine incompatible with the belief in Jesus having descended from David.
In addition to this, the Davidic line of kings is described as being continuous in Jeremiah 33:17, which says:
17 “For this is what Jehovah has said, ‘There will not be cut off in David’s case a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel.
However, the Davidic line of kings ended with King Zedekiah in about 586 BCE, nearly 600 years before Jesus is said to have been born.
Adding further confusion to this belief is Matthew 22:41-46, which states:
41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together Jesus asked them: 42 “What do YOU think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him: “David’s.” 43 He said to them: “How, then, is it that David by inspiration calls him ‘Lord,’ saying, 44 ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet”’? 45 If, therefore, David calls him ‘Lord,’ how is he his son?” 46 And nobody was able to say a word in reply to him, nor did anyone dare from that day on to question him any further.
Here Jesus himself indicates he is not of the line of David.
Additional contradictory and confusing scriptures about Jesus are discussed earlier on this page when answering the following questions:
Did You Know?
The Watchtower asks a couple of questions and provides answers to them in this section. The questions asked are as follows:
- What did Jesus mean when he said to go the second mile?
Here, The Watchtower looks at Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount, quoting from Matthew 5:41...
41 and if someone under authority impresses you into service for a mile, go with him two miles.
They interpret this to mean that Jesus is telling his listeners to "perform without resentment those services that authorities legitimately demanded."
- Who was the Annas mentioned in the Gospel accounts?
The Watchtower describes, briefly, the history of Ananus, who served as High Priest of Israel from about 6 or 7 CE to about 15 CE.
Draw Close to God
Did you at one time serve Jehovah? Have you thought about serving him again but wondered whether he would welcome you back?
— The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, The Watchtower, April 1, 2012
The Watchtower encourages former Jehovah's Witnesses who have left the organization to return, contending that Jehovah is a forgiving and merciful God. Citing Jeremiah 31:18-20, which reads:
18 “I have positively heard E´phra·im bemoaning himself, ‘You have corrected me, that I may be corrected, like a calf that has not been trained. Cause me to turn back, and I shall readily turn back, for you are Jehovah my God. 19 For after my turning back I felt regret; and after my being led to know I made a slap upon the thigh. I became ashamed, and I also felt humiliated, for I had carried the reproach of my youth.’”
20 “Is E´phra·im a precious son to me, or a fondly treated child? For to the extent of my speaking against him I shall without fail remember him further. That is why my intestines have become boisterous for him. By all means I shall have pity upon him,” is the utterance of Jehovah.
They say, "Notice how Jehovah expresses his Fatherly feelings for his people. How tender those words are!" They go on to say about Jeremiah 31:18-20, "[the words] give us insight into Jehovah's tender compassion and mercy." They conclude the article by stating that "Jehovah responds with compassion and mercy when repentant ones call out to him."
In addition to the scriptures called out by The Watchtower, Psalms 145:9 reiterates this point:
9 Jehovah is good to all, And his mercies are over all his works.
However, Jeremiah 13:14 depicts a less merciful Jehovah:
14 And I will dash them one against another, both the fathers and the sons, at the same time,” is the utterance of Jehovah. “I shall show no compassion, nor feel any sorrow, and I shall not have the mercy to keep from bringing them to ruin.”’
In addition, the story of the Israelites exodus out of Egypt illustrates that Jehovah is not always as merciful as is claimed by The Watchtower. Several times throughout the story Pharaoh concedes, agreeing to let the Israelites go out of Egypt. However, Exodus 4:21 indicates that Jehovah has manipulated Pharaoh's heart so he will not send the Israelites away:
21 And Jehovah went on to say to Moses: “After you have gone and returned to Egypt see that YOU men actually perform all the miracles that I have put in your hand before Phar´aoh. As for me, I shall let his heart become obstinate; and he will not send the people away.
After the plague of hail and fire (Exodus 9:13-24) we see that Pharaoh relents and agrees to let the Israelites go (Exodus 9:27).
27 Eventually Phar´aoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them: “I have sinned this time. Jehovah is righteous, and I and my people are in the wrong.
However, in Exodus 10:1, Jehovah denies Pharaoh the free will to do this:
1 Then Jehovah said to Moses: “Go in to Phar´aoh, because I—I have let his heart and the hearts of his servants become unresponsive, in order that I may set these signs of mine right before him
In Exodus 10:16-17, after the plague of locusts Pharaoh again relents:
16 So Phar´aoh hurriedly called Moses and Aaron and said: “I have sinned against Jehovah YOUR God and against YOU. 17 And now pardon, please, my sin just this once and ENTREAT Jehovah YOUR God that he may turn away just this deadly plague from upon me.”
But in Exodus 10:20, Jehovah again manipulates Pharaoh's heart:
20 However, Jehovah let Phar´aoh’s heart become obstinate, and he did not send the sons of Israel away.
After the plague of darkness Pharaoh again agrees to let the Israelites leave (Exodus 10:21-24):
21 Jehovah then said to Moses: “Stretch your hand out toward the heavens, that darkness may occur over the land of Egypt and the darkness may be felt.” 22 Moses immediately stretched his hand out toward the heavens, and a gloomy darkness began to occur in all the land of Egypt for three days. 23 They did not see one another, and none of them got up from his own place three days; but for all the sons of Israel there proved to be light in their dwellings. 24 After that Phar´aoh called Moses and said: “Go, SERVE Jehovah. Only YOUR sheep and YOUR cattle will be detained. YOUR little ones also may go with YOU.”
And again Jehovah manipulates Pharaoh's heart to not let the Israelites go (Exodus 10:27):
27 At this Jehovah let Phar´aoh’s heart become obstinate, and he did not consent to send them away.
And before the final plague, the death of the firstborn, Jehovah again manipulates Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 11:10):
10 And Moses and Aaron performed all these miracles before Phar´aoh; but Jehovah would let Phar´aoh’s heart become obstinate, so that he did not send the sons of Israel away from his land.
After the final plague, when all of the firstborn children are killed, Jehovah finally allows Pharaoh's decision to stand, letting the Israelites leave Egypt (Exodus 12:31-32):
31 At once he called Moses and Aaron by night and said: “Get up, get out from the midst of my people, both YOU and the [other] sons of Israel, and go, serve Jehovah, just as YOU have stated. 32 Take both YOUR flocks and YOUR herds, just as YOU have stated, and go.”
However, once again Jehovah interferes in order to have Pharaoh chase after the Israelites (Exodus 14:4, 8, 17):
4 So I shall indeed let Phar´aoh’s heart become obstinate, and he will certainly chase after them and I shall get glory for myself by means of Phar´aoh and all his military forces; and the Egyptians will certainly know that I am Jehovah.” Accordingly they did just that.
8 Thus Jehovah let the heart of Phar´aoh the king of Egypt become obstinate, and he went chasing after the sons of Israel, while the sons of Israel were going out with uplifted hand.
17 As for me, here I am letting the hearts of the Egyptians become obstinate, that they may go in after them and that I may get glory for myself by means of Phar´aoh and all his military forces, his war chariots and his cavalrymen.
In these verses Jehovah explains that he used Pharaoh, by manipulating his heart, to "get glory for [himself]." One might ask why a forgiving and merciful god would subject countless innocent Egyptian people (who had no control over whether or not to release the Israelites) to these plagues, going so far as to kill all of their firstborn children, just to get glory for himself.
The Bible Changes Lives
"I needed to return to Jehovah"
This is a story told by Elie Khalil, of how he left his congregation and turned to a life of crime and drugs. He relates how he was unhappy with his life and "needed to return to Jehovah." He then explains how his life has improved since returning to his congregation and becoming baptized.
"I yearned for a father."
This story, told by Marco Antonio Alvarez Soto, is very similar to the previous. Marco explains how, after leaving his congregation, he turned to alcohol and drugs. His story ends with him having returned to the Jehovah's Witnesses organization and being happier for it.
Learn From God's Word
Why Are Christians Baptized?
The Watchtower answers four questions about baptism according to Jehovah's Witnesses.
- What does Christian baptism mean?
- The Watchtower answers that it "is a request for a good relationship with God."
- Why was Jesus baptized?
- The Watchtower says it "represented his decision to do God's will for him."
- Why should a Christian be baptized?
- The Watchtower responds that it is a symbol of dedication to Jehovah, a vow "to do his will for the rest of [your] life."
- How can you prepare for baptism?
- The Watchtower answers this by saying you must study "the Bible and [attend] Christian meetings."
Hidden Truths About Jesus?
The Watchtower attempts to discredit the so called "Apocryphal Gospels" saying they were "written by people who never knew Jesus or his apostles." They go on to describe them as being "far-fetched" and "inaccurate, invented, fanciful accounts" that "betray a clear lack of divine inspiration" and are "dangerous not only to read but even to own."
In contrast, The Watchtower says of the four biblical Gospels, "Matthew and John were among the 12 apostles; Mark and Luke were close associates of the apostles Peter and Paul." They go on to say that the four biblical Gospels "were the only ones considered inspired of God and worthy of being part of the Holy Scriptures" and that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John "wrote their Gospels under the guidance of God's holy spirit."
The claims made by The Watchtower about the four biblical gospels are not entirely accurate. For example, The Watchtower attributes the four gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, even using their relationship with Jesus and his apostles to defend their validity, however none of the gospels explicitly name their authors and in fact, the authorship of each of them is in question.
Most scholars believe the anonymous author of the Gospel According to Matthew drew from a variety of other sources, including the Gospel According to Mark, the collection of sayings known as the "Q source" (also shared with Luke), and material unique to his community. Delbert Burkett, Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Louisiana State University even said:
It seems unlikely that an eyewitness of Jesus's ministry, such as Matthew, would need to rely on others for information about it.
— Delbert Burkett, An introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity, 2002
In fact, the title "Gospel According to Matthew" had not been added to any of the manuscripts making up this book until nearly the end of the 2nd century CE, after the Christian bishop, Papias of Hierapolis, in a passage with several other ambiguous phrases, wrote: "Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew language and each one interpreted them as best he could."
Scholars argue that Matthew is simply an augmented and creative reinterpretation of Mark, stressing the teachings of Jesus as much as his acts, with changes having been made that are meant to emphasize Jesus' divine nature – Mark's "young man" who appears at Jesus' tomb (Mark 16:5), for example, becomes a radiant angel in Matthew (Matthew 28:2-4). The miracle stories in Mark do not demonstrate the divinity of Jesus, as this is an idea not found in that gospel, but rather confirm his status as an emissary of God (which was Mark's understanding of the Messiah).
Furthermore, Matthew's account of Jesus' resurrection, has no support from any contemporary historians or scholars of the time, nor is it corroborated by any of the other Gospel writers.
Thomas Paine provides a critique of Matthew's account:
The book ascribed to Matthew says that there was darkness all over the land from the sixth hour to the ninth hour-that the veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom - that there was an earthquake - that the rocks rent - that the graves opened, that the bodies of many saints that slept arose and came out of their graves after the resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared to many. Such is the account which this dashing writer of the book of Matthew gives, but in which he is not supported by the writers of the other books. The writer of the book ascribed to Mark, in detailing the circumstances of the crucifixion, makes no mention of any earthquake, nor of the rocks rending, nor of the graves opening, nor of the dead men walking out. The writer of the book of Luke is silent also on the same points. And as to the writer of the book of John, though he details the circumstances of the crucifixion down to the burial of Christ, he says nothing about either the darkness, the veil of the temple, the earthquake, the rocks, the graves, nor the dead men...
It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told. The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to life again and went into the city, and what became of them afterwards, and who it was that saw them - for he is not hardy enough to say that he saw them himself - whether they came fully dressed and where they got their dresses; whether they went to their former habitation and reclaimed their wives, their husband and their property, and how they were received, whether they entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive and buried themselves. Strange indeed that an army of saints should return to life and nobody knew who they were, or who it was that saw them, and that not a word more should be said upon the subject, nor these saints have anything to tell us!"
— Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, p202-205
As with Matthew, the Gospel According to Mark does not name its author. It is not until the 2nd century CE that it is attributed to Mark the Evangelist (also known as John Mark), upon whose memories it is supposedly based. Again, just as with Matthew, this is not until after the Christian bishop, Papias of Hierapolis, writing in the early 2nd century, attributed this gospel to John Mark, the companion of Peter. Furthermore, the author's use of varied sources belies the traditional account and according to the majority of biblical scholars the author is unknown.
Again, just as with the previous two gospels, the Gospel According to Luke never names an author and according to the majority view, the evidence against Luke being the author is strong enough that the author is unknown.
Once again, like the three other Gospels, the Gospel According to John never names an author. In fact, according to most modern scholars, John was not the author of any of the five books attributed to him (John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and the Book of Revelation). Also, just as was the case with Matthew and Mark, it is not until the 2nd century CE that this Gospel is attributed to John the Apostle. Notably, the majority of New Testament scholars do not believe that John or one of the Apostles wrote it, and trace it instead to a "Johannine community" during the 2nd century CE, which traced its customs to John.
Couple this with the analysis earlier on this page in which the Gospels are shown to provide inaccurate and/or contradictory accounts, and it may prompt one to question the supposed divinity of the biblical gospels.
A Conversation With a Neighbor
Is Jesus God?
This section of The Watchtower presents a staged conversation intending to illustrate a "door-to-door" witnessing encounter, describing it as, "a typical conversation that one of Jehovah's Witnesses might have with a neighbor." The conversation is between characters Karen (the Jehovah's Witness), and Samantha (the home owner). In this exchange Karen is explaining to Samantha what Jehovah's Witnesses believe regarding Jesus, specifically why Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe Jesus is God.
The question "is Jesus actually God?" is covered earlier on this page in response to the opening article of this issue of The Watchtower.
Imitate Their Faith
He Protected, He Provided, He Persevered
Here The Watchtower tells the story of Joseph, relating how he protected his family from King Herod who sought to kill Jesus, how he provided for his family as a carpenter, and how he persevered despite the hardships they faced.
Our Readers Ask...
Who sent the "star"?
The Watchtower deconstructs the famous nativity scene that is a part of many Christian doctrines. The Watchtower posits that the "star" that guided the astrologers to Jesus was actually sent by "Satan the Devil" in an attempt to have King Herod put Jesus to death.
For Young People
Moses Receives a Special Assignment
This is a question and answer segment of The Watchtower magazine aimed at a young audience.
- ↑ The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs - on the reliability of the Bible as an historical document
- ↑ http://freethought.mbdojo.com/archeology.html
- ↑ http://www.salon.com/2001/02/07/solomon/singleton/
- ↑ http://www.salon.com/2001/02/07/solomon/singleton/
- ↑ http://hebrew.wisc.edu/~rltroxel/Paul/dating.htm
- ↑ Acts 9:1-20
- ↑ http://www.voiceofjesus.org/paulvsjesus.html
- ↑ http://www.wordwiz72.com/paul.html
- ↑ http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/JWO/pauls-contradictions-of-jesus.html
- ↑ http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/paul_carlson/nt_contradictions.html
- ↑ Peter Richardson, Herod: King of the Jews and friend of the Romans, (Continuum International Publishing Group, 1999) pp. xv–xx; Jerry Knoblet, Herod the Great (University Press of America, 2005), p. 179.; Samuel Rocca, Herod's Judaea: a Mediterranean state in the classical world (Mohr Siebeck, 2008) p. 159.
- ↑ H.H. Ben-Sasson, A History of the Jewish People, Harvard University Press, 1976, ISBN 0-674-39731-2, page 246: "When Archelaus was deposed from the ethnarchy in 6 CE, Judea proper, Samaria and Idumea were converted into a Roman province under the name Iudaea."; page 274: "Josephus connects the beginnings of the extremist movement with the census held under the supervision of Quirinius, the legate of Syria, soon after Judea had been converted into a Roman province (6 CE)."
- ↑ Spong, John Shelby. Jesus for the non-religious. HarperCollins. 2007. ISBN 0-06-076207-1
- ↑ Brown, R.E. The Birth of the Messiah: A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in Matthew and Luke. Doubleday, NY. 1993. Page 549
- ↑ Bromiley, Geoffrey W, ed. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. William B. Eerdmans Publishing. 1995. ISBN 0-8028-3785-9. Page 655
- ↑ Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus, Interrupted. HarperCollins. 2009. ISBN 0-06-117393-2
- ↑ http://jdstone.org/cr/files/materror.html
- ↑ In Mark 5 and Luke 8, Jesus went to the country of the Gerasenes, transferred demons from a man into 2000 pigs, and drowned them in the sea. However, that was about 31 miles from Galilee, the nearest body of water. The King James translators realized this, and changed the location to “the country of the Gadarenes,” which was close to the sea. Later translators used the original. (Compare translations of Matthew 8:28 for different locations.) In Mark 10, Jesus said that a woman could divorce her husband, which was impossible in Palestine at that time.
- ↑ This site has a good overview.
- ↑ R.G. Price, 2007-01-03. "Jesus Myth - The Case Against Historical Christ".
- ↑ Wall (2010) Opening and Entering Mark (a discussion of the place and space in the Gospel of Mark)
- ↑ Crossan, Who killed Jesus
- ↑ MD Mathews - Neotestamentica, 2010, Does the synoptic tradition resolve this synoptic relationship
- ↑ B.A. Robinson, 2003-10-03. "Translation errors and forgeries in the bible." Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
- ↑ , Testimonium Flavianum
- ↑ "Flavius Josephus." Catholic Encyclopedia. "Attempts have been made to refute the objections brought against this passage both for internal and external reasons, but the difficulty has not been definitively settled. The passage seems to suffer from repeated interpolations."
- ↑ , Josephus on Jesus: Forgery and Fraud?.
- ↑ , Eusebius of Caesarea forged Testimonium Flavianum.
- ↑ Rev. S. Baring-Gould, in Lost and Hostile Gospels: "This passage is first quoted by Eusebius (fl. A. D. 315) in two places (Hist. Eccl., lib. i, c. xi ; Demonst. Evang., lib. iii); but it was unknown to Justin Martyr (A. D. 140) Clement of Alexandria (A. D. 192), Tertullian (A. D. 193) and Origen (A. D. 230). Such a testimony would certainly have been produced by Justin in his apology or in his controversy with Trypho the Jew, had it existed in the copies of Josephus at his time. The silence of Origen is still more significant. Celsus, in his book against Christianity, introduces a Jew. Origen attacks the argument of Celsus and his Jew. He could not have failed to quote the words of Josephus, whose writings he knew, had the passage existed in the genuine text. He, indeed, distinctly affirms that Josephus did not believe in Christ (Contr. Cels. i)."
- ↑ Bishop Warburton: "If a Jew owned the truth of Christianity, he must needs embrace it. We, therefore, certainly conclude that the paragraph where Josephus, who was as much a Jew as the religion of Moses could make him, is made to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, in terms as strong as words could do it, is a rank forgery, and a very stupid one, too." Quoted by Lardner, Works, Vol. I, chap. iv.
- ↑ "How it may be lawful and fitting to use falsehood as a medicine, and for the benefit of those who want to be deceived." (translation by Gibbon)
- ↑ Olson 1999.
- ↑ Wallace-Hadrill 2011.
- ↑ Eusebius the Liar? - an exhaustive analysis of the controversial works of Eusebius
- ↑ Tacitus' Histories
- ↑ Is Tacitus' Reference an Interpolation?
- ↑ The Chrestianos Issue in Tacitus Reinvestigated
- ↑ Non-Christian Testimony for Jesus?
- ↑ Saldarini, Anthony J. (2001). "Matthew". In Dunn, James D.G.; Rogerson, John. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Eerdmans.
- ↑ E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus, pp. 87-88.
- ↑ "most recent biographies of Herod the Great deny it entirely." Paul L. Maier, "Herod and the Infants of Bethlehem", in Chronos, Kairos, Christos II, Mercer University Press (1998), p.170
- ↑ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. "Matthew" p. 272-285
- ↑ Richard Carrier. "Why I Don't Buy the Resurrection Story." (6th ed., 2006)
- ↑ Davidic Line on Wikipedia
- ↑ Burkett, Delbert (2002). An introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-00720-7. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=EcsQknxV-xQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=An+introduction+to+the+New+Testament+and+the+origins+of+Christianity+Delbert+Royce+Burkett#v=onepage&q=Gospel%20of%20Matthew&f=false.
- ↑ Duling, Dennis C. "The Gospel of Matthew". http://books.google.com.au/books?id=ygcgn8h-jo4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Blackwell+companion+to+the+New+Testament#v=onepage&q&f=false. , in Aune, David E. (ed.) (2010). The Blackwell companion to the New Testament. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-0825-6.
- ↑ Turner, David L. (2008). Matthew. Baker. ISBN 978-0-8010-2684-3. http://books.google.com/books?id=8z9LSdKLUl4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=David+Turner#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- ↑ *Bockmuehl, Markus; Hagner, Donald A. (2005). The Written Gospel. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-83285-4. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=pAZxCMRztQ4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Bockmuehl,+Markus+and+Donald+A.+Hagner,+The+Written+Gospel#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- ↑ Morris, Leon (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew. Eerdmans. ISBN 978-0-85111-338-8. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=-pwaSKcHyEEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Leon+Morris+%E2%80%94+The+Gospel+According+to+Matthew#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- ↑ Morris, Leon (1986). New Testament Theology. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-45571-4. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=6D3o6fZd67EC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Morris+New+Testament+Theology#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- ↑ Bockmuehl, Markus; Hagner, Donald A. (2005). The Written Gospel. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-83285-4. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=pAZxCMRztQ4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Bockmuehl,+Markus+and+Donald+A.+Hagner,+The+Written+Gospel#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- ↑ Aune, David E. (1987). The New Testament in its literary environment. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-664-25018-8. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=XdSto1nkx9AC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+New+Testament+in+its+literary+environment#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- ↑ Paine, Thomas; The Age of Reason p202-205
- ↑ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
- ↑ Kirby, Peter. "Gospel of Mark" earlychristianwritings.com Retrieved January 30, 2010.
- ↑ Lane, William, “The Gospel According to Mark”. 1974. Eerdmans Publishing Co. ISBN 0-8028-2502-8.(p 10)
- ↑ Papias, quoted in Eusebius History of the Church, trans. G.A. Williamson (London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1965). 3.39.15 / pp. 103–4. Also available online
- ↑ "Above all the heterogeneous source material which the evangelist has used tells against [the traditional] account... [t]he author of Mark is a collector, in so far as he demonstrably takes up written and oral material from the tradition which varies in both form and theology." Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition). p. 26-27
- ↑ biblical literature (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: 
- ↑ "The unknown author of Luke-Acts was certainly not a companion of Paul." Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition). Chapter 2. Christian sources about Jesus.
- ↑ '[T]he author of this gospel remains unknown.' "biblical literature." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 06 Nov. 2010 .
- ↑ "Most modern commentators on the Lukan gospel are skeptical about the validity of the traditional attribution" Fizmyer, Joseph. The Gospel according to Luke: introduction, translation, and notes. The Anchor Bible v. 28-28A. (2 vols) Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981-1985.
- ↑ "Although ancient traditions attributed to the Apostle John the Fourth Gospel, the Book of Revelation, and the three Epistles of John, modern scholars believe that he wrote none of them." Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible (Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985) p. 355
- ↑ Anderson 2007, p. 19."These facts pose a major problem for the traditional view of John's authorship, and they are one of the key reasons critical scholars reject it."
- ↑ Lindars, 1990, p. 20."It is thus important to see the reasons why the traditional identification is regarded by most scholars as untenable."
- ↑ The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible: Volume 3 Abingdon Press, 2008. p. 362 "Presently, few commentators would argue that a disciple of Jesus actually wrote the Fourth Gospel,..."
- ↑ Marilyn Mellowes The Gospel of John From Jesus to Christ: A Portrait of Jesus' World. PBS 2010-11-3. "Tradition has credited John, the son of Zebedee and an apostle of Jesus, with the authorship of the fourth gospel. Most scholars dispute this notion;..."
- ↑ D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo. An introduction to the New Testament. Zondervan; 2 New edition. 2005. Pg 233 “The fact remains that despite support for Johannine authorship by a few front rank scholars in this century and by many popular writers, a large majority of contemporary scholars reject this view.”
- ↑ "To most modern scholars direct apostolic authorship has therefore seemed unlikely." "John, Gospel of." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- The official Worldwide Association of Jehovah's Witnesses website http://www.jw.org (a PDF of this magazine can be downloaded at this website)
- The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures http://www.watchtower.org/e/bible/index.htm