Posts Tagged Amanda Read

Luke Historians presents episode on crucifixion and resurrection of Christ for History Author Show

2 May 2016

Easter episode header

Check out this History Author Show episode from last week, featuring Dan Arsenault’s Church for Skeptics episodes Messiah Factor and Is Jesus the Messiah?, plus Joseph Read giving voice to Apostle Peter.

Additional information on the dating of the crucifixion is well-sourced and compiled in James D. Agresti’s book, Rational Conclusions.

April 3rd, A.D. 33 – the Crucifixion Date?

3 April 2016

blood moon

Here are sneak peak excerpts from a not-yet-released radio episode. Joseph Read is the voice of Apostle Peter.

As featured on the History Author Show: What does Christ have to do with Christmas Day?

24 December 2015


Christmas special banner

The following article by Amanda Read was originally published in some form at The Washington Times Communities.

Christmas Day is acknowledged and celebrated internationally. But its significance is not widely understood. Many words have been spent to explain, justify, excuse, or debunk the holiday by turns, with frequent arguments hinging upon the fear of tainting Christianity with paganism.

Traditionally, Christmas has been celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ, even though many educated people know that a variety of factors indicate that He was not actually born at that time. How did the excitement around December 25th originate, then? Was it a pagan festival later co-opted by intellectually and spiritually lazy Christians for who-knows-what-reason? Does celebration on December 25th originate from nothing more than adaptations of winter solstice festivals?

It would certainly be easy to accept these notions and move on. But history has a goldmine of information beyond that, and it would be a shame to miss out on it this season. This article will be a brief introduction to a sadly forgotten Biblical heritage.

Luke records little details in his volume of the Gospel which indicate when the Messiah entered the world. Luke was a scientific-minded Greek physician who began his record with the story of the Angel Gabriel visiting an elderly Jewish priest. Luke doesn’t describe him as a generic priest, however – but rather specifically as Zacharias of the division of Abijah. This detail is a time-marker, because each priestly division had particular times of the year at which to serve.

It is probable that as part of the eighth priestly division (1 Chronicles 24:10), Zacharias was serving during the month of Sivan (May-June), and since Elizabeth apparently became pregnant with John the Baptist shortly afterward (following Shavuot/Pentecost), we can understand the significance of what Luke wrote next.

When Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive the Messiah as a virgin, he encouraged her with this piece of personal evidence: Elizabeth (her aged and previously barren cousin) was six months along with a baby herself. That means that the Annunciation and Mary’s subsequent conception of Jesus (or Yeshua) likely happened in December.

Thus, the Light of the World became incarnate most likely during the winter Feast of Dedication, also known as Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights. Although Hanukkah was a later Jewish festival that developed outside of the Torah, it has spiritual and political significance for believers and is mentioned in the Gospel (John 10:22).

The conception of Jesus Christ at Christmastime is a hypothesis further supported by the fact that nine months later is when the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot/Succoth) would take place. This occurred in autumn, a more reasonable time for the shepherds to be watching their flocks at night in those fields of Bethlehem that were acquired ages beforehand through the romance of Boaz and Ruth (King David’s great-grandparents).
Furthermore, since rabbinical evidence suggests that John the Baptist was born at Passover (Pesach) in the month of Nisan, it follows that Jesus Christ, who was six months younger, would be born six months later in the month of Tishri during Sukkot.

Sukkot was initiated in the Torah to commemorate the Israelites’ camping in sukkahs (booths) as they journeyed through the wilderness. But it was also a prophetic celebration that looked forward to the day when the Messiah “tabernacled among us” (John 1:14). Similarly, the feast of Passover is especially linked to milestones in Christ’s life – His crucifixion and resurrection.

Some Christians might find references to the Torah confusing and irrelevant because our Hebraic heritage is oftentimes mistakenly disregarded. However, Jesus Christ (the Greek variant of Yeshua Messiah) did not come to abolish the “Law or the Prophets,” but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). The New Testament is far easier to understand if it is read in the context of the Old Testament.

Both testaments are equally the Word of God and thus are written for all believers – and this offers insight into part of what sets the Bible apart from other religious writings. Despite its vast subject matter and timeframe, the entire Bible points to one character – Jesus – whom it defines as the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

We have now seen that there is evidence that the month of December was the time at which Christ’s life on Earth began – at conception. But what is so special about December 25th, precisely? Where did the tradition of celebrating Christ’s birth and giving gifts on this winter day originate?

Christian historian Sextus Julius Africanus (ca. A.D. 180 – ca. A.D. 250) is said to have been the first to claim that Jesus was born on the 25th of December. It turns out that Africanus might have had Jesus’ birthday confused with another prominent event in His life – the visit of the Magi, scholars and astronomers from Babylon who likely were intellectual descendants of the prophet Daniel.

How could following a star lead somebody to the location of the Christ child? In order to understand the star-gazing journey memorialized in Christmas songs and fashion, we have to once again look to the Old Testament.

The purpose of stars, planets, etc. was mentioned in the beginning – “for signs and for seasons and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14). The Scriptures say that the stars and constellations were named by the creator Yahweh, not by mankind (see Psalm 147:4, Job 9, Isaiah 40:26, and Amos 8) – although different cultures ascribe a variety of stories to these preformed patterns in the sky.

The heavens are telling the glory of GOD; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)

The actual Hebrew words in those sentences that are often translated as “declaring” or “telling” are çâphar (ספד) and nâgad (נגד). The meaning of çâphar is “to score with a mark as a tally or record, i.e. (by impl.) to inscribe, and also to enumerate; intens. to recount, i.e. celebrate:-commune, (ac-) count, declare, number, + penknife, reckon, scribe, shew forth, speak, talk, tell (out), writer” (Strong’s Concordance).

We now know that the heavens contain a system so mathematically precise that you can fast forward and rewind an image of its motions with modern software. Researching independently, Frederick A. Larson discovered that a peculiar astronomical event happened in years 3 and 2 B.C. (see The Star of Bethlehem DVD).

After examining the Biblical text and ancient astronomical records, Larson deduced that the brilliantly bright “Star of Bethlehem” must have been an extremely rare triple conjunction of the planet Jupiter with the star Regulus.

Sure enough, astronomical software reveals that in the months leading up to December 2 B.C., this mysterious regal sign in the sky can be seen moving westward, evidently at the time the Magi were traveling toward Israel.

On December 25th, 2 B.C., the star (via retrograde motion) stopped right above the little town of Bethlehem. By then the wise men were staying in Jerusalem (just five miles north of Bethlehem), having recently consulted with King Herod. Matthew wrote that when the star stopped over Bethlehem, the Magi rejoiced, paid a visit to Mary and Joseph’s house, and gave little Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:9-11).

Thus, practically speaking, December 25th, 2 B.C. might have been the “first Christmas” – a day of gift-giving in honor of the arrival of the Messiah. Whether or not you believe in celebrating Christmas, it is nice to know December 25th’s place in history!

When Does a Baby’s Life Begin According to the Bible?

4 December 2015

Q. Does the Bible say that human life doesn’t begin until a baby draws its first breath, as Kermit Gosnell and others have asserted?

A. No. The Bible describes humans as living beings in the womb.

“If breath is the biblical measure for life, then anyone on a ventilator is biblically dead,” Dan Arsenault, creator of the television show Church for Skeptics, remarks to Live Action News. He continues:

Presumably the life that God breathed into Adam is not the same as Adam breathing it back, nor is there any indication that God breathes equally on every person born. Life in the womb does not require breathing. Life outside the womb does. Since when is the function of lungs the measure of life? Why not a functioning heart, or kidneys? I’m guessing that neither of those were functioning in Adam before God put life into the clay He had molded, either.

Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (NASB). The Hebrew word used for “breathed” is נָפַח naphach, which in Strong’s Concordance means:

a prim. root; to puff, in various applications (lit., to inflate, blow hard, scatter, kindle, expire; fig., to disesteem): – blow, breath, give up, cause to lose [life], seething, snuff.

Furthermore, the word translated as “breath” in that passage is נְשָׁמָה neshamah, among the definitions of which is “divine inspiration, intellect, soul, spirit.”

These obviously indicate that something different from natural inhaling was happening. Yahweh expired some of His very own divine nature into the first human being, and that nature has been imparted to all of Adam’s descendants in our DNA. In Psalm 139, David famously describes personhood in the womb.

Some have mistaken Exodus 21:22 for not equivocating abortion with murder. A closer look at the original wording, however, indicates that the topic in that part of the law is premature birth, not miscarriage.

And when men fight, and they strike a pregnant woman, and her child goes forth, and there is no injury, surely he shall be fined. As much as the husband of the woman shall put on him, even he shall give through the judges. But if injury occurs, you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, branding for branding, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:22-25, literal translation)

The keyword there is יָצָא yatsa, “to bring or go out.”

But if there is any remaining doubt concerning where Scripture stands on the personhood and beginning of human life, the first chapter of Luke removes it. Elizabeth, six months pregnant with John the Baptist, felt him leap within her womb in response to the voice of Mary, who had just conceived Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Note: This article is an expansion upon an article Amanda Read wrote for Live Action News on September 29th, 2015, titled, “Gosnell believes the Bible excuses his infanticide.”

Name That Disciple! Judas? Thaddeus? Lebbaeus?

20 May 2015

Q. Matthew 10:3 names a particular disciple Lebbaeus Thaddeus, while the corresponding passage of Luke 6:16 names him Judas of James. Is this the same person? If so, who is he?

A. Yes. Judas “Lebbaeus” Thaddeus.

The presence of a disciple among the original twelve who is listed by various names in two different Gospel introductions has made some wonder what reason there is to believe that he is the same person in each account. Perhaps the question should be instead, what reason is there to believe he isn’t the same person?

Judas-Not-Iscariot is referenced in Matthew 10:3, Luke 6:16, John 14:22, and Acts 1:13. The only time he appears with a name other than Judas is in Matthew, when it is specified that his surname is Thaddeus but he is called “Lebbaeus” (Λεββαῖος), which in Greek is a word that has Hebrew roots and means “near to my heart.” Some interpret this to actually mean “with heart,” as in courageous. Evidently this was Judas’ nickname. The additional title “of James” indicates that he was brother of a man named James.

Darwin: Defining the Origins Debate

7 July 2011


Charles DarwinThe name Charles Darwin is virtually inseparable from the debate of origins. Even if his evolutionary hypothesis was unoriginal in itself, Darwin has proved to be the most effective (and thus most memorable) communicator of the concept. As a literary figure, Charles Darwin accelerates his proposition by defining the debate. Since the initial evolutionary model is more so a reinterpretation of observations in the natural world than an actual confounding discovery, monopolizing dialogue on the issue is understandably the smartest route to take while introducing a topic in the speculative Victorian era.

When analyzing the writings of Darwin, it is insightful to keep in mind that he has not been trained as a scientist, but as a clergyman. Darwin, as theology-student-turned-naturalist, writes to make disciples of his scientific “gospel”. He seeks common ground with readers by addressing them as co-observers, telling them “[w]e will now discuss,” “[w]e behold,” and “we often see” (1539) the struggle for existence and the minor changes within species that occur because of it. This easily comprehensible beginning sounds non-threatening enough, and offers a launching pad for a more radical extrapolation. “I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of anyone,” (1541) says Darwin, beginning the fifteenth chapter of The Origin of Species. This brush with religious sentiments is a hint of what Darwin uses to define the debate.

Like an astute lawyer preparing a case, Darwin anticipates what the opposing or skeptical arguments will be. He admits repeatedly what “may be asked” (1542, 1543), and insists that although he is “fully convinced of the truth of the views given in this volume under the form of an abstract,” (1542) he doesn’t expect to convince those naturalists who have far more experience than himself. It is interesting that Darwin, who has been called a humble researcher, acts submissive to the authority structure of scientific academia even as he subtly dismantles and refashions it. Immediately after acknowledging more experienced naturalists, he says that naturalists “endowed with much flexibility of mind” and perhaps “young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality” (1542) will be open to accepting his theory. Twelve years later, Darwin takes an even more assertive stance in The Descent of Man:

“The main conclusion arrived at in this work, and now held by many naturalists who are well competent to form a sound judgment, is that man is descended from some less highly organized form. The grounds upon which this conclusion rests will never be shaken…” (1546)

In other words, Darwin has concluded and now preaches that the debate has already been settled within science. The debate is now essentially defined as between the scientific and the non-scientific, the skeptical and the religious. This is where the awkward vacillations begin. Darwin thinks that the evolutionary explanation of mankind’s descent from apes may “be highly distasteful,” (1549) but tells his readers not to worry about it affecting religious views. Yet he also admonishes that it is “so easy to hide our ignorance under such expressions as the ‘plan of creation,’ ‘unity of design’ &c.,” (1542). One is thus left under the impression that no competent scientist will disagree with Darwin, and that one’s religion must be reconciled with the evolutionary model if one intends to keep it. With unsettled aspects of the debate being mainly a problem of the non-scientific, Darwin ventures to seal his evidentiary theses with defenses of the propriety and superiority of man:

“For my own part I would as soon be descended from that heroic little monkey, who braved his dreaded enemy in order to save the life of his keeper; or from that old baboon, who, descending from the mountains, carried away in triumph his young comrade from a crowd of astonished dogs – as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies, offers up bloody sacrifices, practices infanticide without remorse, treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by the grossest superstitions.” (1549)

This appeal to progressive sentiments makes for a persuasive maneuver in cultural debate. Thomas Huxley gladly inherited Darwin’s pride in monkey heritage in the 1860 debate at Oxford. Huxley, known as “Darwin’s Bulldog,” is representative of a particular audience drawn to the evolutionary doctrine of origins. Darwin argues that evolution should make mankind feel noble, because man’s evolution to the “summit of the organic scale…may give him hopes for a still higher destiny in the distant future” (1549). This idea sounds absurdly fanciful to some, but is readily embraced by others, especially disillusioned thinkers who want a void in their lives to be filled with meaning. Darwin essentially fills this void by deflating it – if there is no intricate plan for the universe, and thus no individual plan for our lives, there is therefore no need of salvation except by man’s own power and struggle for survival.

The premise of Darwin’s The Origin of Species is that the observations he made initially in the Galapagos might shed some light on that “mystery of mysteries” – the origin of species. Judging from this inquisitive approach it becomes more apparent what sort of audience this book will appeal to. Those who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible are not likely to find the origin of species to be a “mystery of mysteries,” because the Bible offers the explanation that God created every living thing according to its kind. But skeptics who are disheartened towards or doubtful of the existence of God will immediately feel a kinship with the author.

Notice, however, that Darwin is careful not to dismiss God entirely. Whether or not he still personally believes in “the Creator” he mentions, or is merely trying to sound culturally acceptable is not immediately apparent. But Darwin does make the well-known Creator of the Bible seem less likely, because the evolutionary model diminishes the role of a designing God. In light of this conclusion, the references to “the Creator” sound equally diminished. Perhaps Darwin is willing to use them as a sort of classical idiom, just as the Greco-Roman gods and goddesses are utilized by poets and lyricists. He also refers to man’s “godlike intellect” and “exalted powers” (1549), which shows how difficult it is for even the most secular author to avoid communicating with religious connotations.

Viewing the origins debate as an issue of limited dimensions has been a fashion of the past century, with a tacit aspect of culture being to not bother questioning scientists unless one is prepared to reconcile their religious views. The success of the evolutionary model may be credited to Darwin’s success at compartmentalizing the issue between those working in the field of science and those who are not. This makes evaluating Charles Darwin as a literary figure an intriguing venture. It is surprising to find that the roots of the debate are just as (if not more) metaphysical and emotional as they are scientific.

Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species. The Norton Anthology of English Literature Volume E: The Victorian Age. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt 8th ed. New York: W.W. Norton 2006. 1539-1545.

Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man. The Norton Anthology of English Literature Volume E: The Victorian Age. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt 8th ed. New York: W.W. Norton 2006. 1546-1549.


This essay was written for an English Literature class in Spring 2010.  Yes, there were all those exciting poets and novelists to choose from, and I found myself writing about Charles Darwin.  Sad, isn’t it?  My professor responded with:

“This essay gives a very effective analysis of Darwin’s rhetorical strategies. I don’t know that his tone of humility is disingenuous. Maybe he felt genuinely awed and humbled when he realized the implications of his discovery. Rather than sounding combative or exasperated, his tone is usually patient. (But note the cultural prejudice in his grimly comic description of savages.) Shelf after shelf in the basement of Candler theological library at Emory is filled with Victorian tomes attempting to reconcile religion and Darwinism. Somebody should read them all and write a dissertation.”

May I take a hint?  I’d love to go to England anyway.



24 March 2011

The Bible Comprehension series will be an ongoing study of different books of the Bible. What is the Bible, and how do we know if it is fictional or nonfictional?


  • It is the final book of the Bible.
  • It is the only book of the Bible that states that the reader and believer of it will be blessed (Revelation 1:3, Revelation 22:7).


The book of Revelation (or Apokalupsis, Greek for “unveiling”) is the record of a vision that the Apostle John received on the Isle of Patmos circa A.D. 95. While the Old Testament described and foretold the events leading to the First Coming of Christ, the New Testament described Christ’s time on earth and foretells the events leading up to the Second Coming of Christ.

The Bible explains that there is a spiritual enemy who is known among other titles as “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) and was given legal right to oppress the present world when Adam and Eve committed treason (Genesis 3). This spiritual despot’s authority was devastated when Jesus Christ (Yeshua Messiah) fulfilled the highest level of reparation imaginable (John 19:30). As the revolution draws near to completion, Satan is permitted to use his last days of power to seek out for his own state all who do not want to be citizens of the kingdom established by Christ.

Not surprisingly, the devil does not relinquish his temporary power over the world easily. Thus, as time draws near to the Messiah’s return and consummation of power, the more hostile the atmosphere becomes because it means the adversary’s time limit is almost up. Jesus Christ compared it to sensing changing seasons of the year, but warned that no one knows the “day or hour” that the end of this world as we know it will come (Mark 13:29-37).



The symbolism of Revelation and other parts of Scripture may seem nonsensical until one is able to comprehend the physical (yes, even scientific) manifestation of signs. According to the Bible, the messages of Scripture are woven into the framework of the universe and are thus comprehensible by those who pay attention.

For a start, examine the heavens to behold a system so mathematically precise that you can fast forward and rewind an image of its motions with modern software.

“The heavens are telling the glory of GOD; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world.” (NASB)
~ Psalm 19:1-4

The actual Hebrew words in those sentences that are often translated as “declaring” or “telling” are çâphar (ספד) and nâgad (נגד). The meaning of çâphar is

“to score with a mark as a tally or record, i.e. (by impl.) to inscribe, and also to enumerate; intens. to recount, i.e. celebrate:-commune, (ac-) count, declare, number, + penknife, reckon, scribe, shew forth, speak, talk, tell (out), writer.” Strong’s Concordance.

Ah, doesn’t that sound astronomical?

The word çâphar is the same word used in Job 12:8, 28:27 (“Then He saw it and declared it; He established it and also searched it out”), 1 Chronicles 16:24, Psalm 78:6 (“That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children…”) and many other verses.

The meaning of nâgad is

“to front, i.e. stand boldly out opposite; by impl. (causat.) to manifest; fig. to announce (always by word of mouth to one present); spec. to expose, predict, explain, praise:-bewray, x certainly, certify, declare (-ing), denounce, expound, x fully, messenger, plainly, profess, rehearse, report, shew (forth), speak, x surely, tell, utter.” Strong’s Concordance.

The word nâgad is used in Genesis 41:24 (when Pharaoh told Joseph about his dream, “I told it to my magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me”), Esther 4:8, Job 31:37, Isaiah 3:9, 21:6, 41:22 (“Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place; as for the former events, declare what they were, that we may consider them and know their outcome. Or announce what is coming…”), and many other passages.

Read Psalm 19 with this fuller understanding of the beautiful Hebrew words çâphar (ספד) and nâgad (נגד) and no longer does it simply mean that the starry sky is an impressive display to reflect GOD’s glory. The celestial bodies have been placed there with a mission to communicate and verify the entire saga of salvation.

“Then GOD said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years…'”
~ Genesis 1:14

The Hebrew word in that passage often translated as “signs” is ‘ôwth (אות), which means

“a signal (lit. or fig.), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.:-mark. miracle, (en-)sign, token.” Strong’s Concordance

Remember that YAHWEH named the stars, not man (see Job 9 and Amos 8 ) – different cultures have told stories to go along with the stars, but they haven’t changed the names and their meanings.

Now, recall the great sign that appeared in heaven in Revelation 12 about the woman clothed with the sun; the moon at her feet and a crown of 12 stars on her head.

From the research website of Frederick A. Larson:

“The Jewish nation is composed of twelve ancient tribes. Jewish prophecy states that a particular tribe will bring forth the Messiah: the tribe of Judah. The symbol of Judah’s tribe is the lion. You can see these connections in an ancient prediction of Messiah’s coming found in the first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, Chapter 49:

9 You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness– who dares to rouse him? 10 The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.

This association of Messiah with the tribe of Judah and with the lion is a productive clue. It clarifies the connection between Jupiter’s behavior and the Jewish nation, because the starry coronation—the triple conjunction—occurred within the constellation of Leo, The Lion. Ancient stargazers, particularly if they were interested in things Jewish, may well have concluded they were seeing signs of a Jewish king. But there is more.

The last book of the New Testament is, in part, a prophetic enigma. But a portion of the Book of Revelation provides clear and compelling guidance for our astronomical investigation. The apostle John wrote the book as an old man while in exile on the island of Patmos. Perhaps the austerity of this exile or a lack of companionship left him time to ponder the night sky. Whatever the reason, Revelation is full of star imagery. In Chapter 12, John describes a life and death drama played out in the sky: the birth of a king.

1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre…

A woman in labor, a dragon bent on infanticide and a ruler of the nations. We have already seen this ruler in the Book of Genesis, above. This would be the Messiah, in his role as King of Kings. If that interpretation is correct, then according to the gospel story the woman would be Mary, the mother of Jesus. The dragon which waits to kill the child at birth would be Herod, who did that very thing. John says the woman he saw was clothed in the Sun. She had the moon at her feet. What can he be describing? When we continue our study of the sky of September of 3 BC, the mystery of John’s vision is unlocked: he is describing more of the starry dance which began with the Jewish New Year.

As Jupiter was beginning the coronation of Regulus, another startling symbol rose in the sky. The constellation which rises in the east behind Leo is Virgo, The Virgin. When Jupiter and Regulus were first meeting, she rose clothed in the Sun. And as John said, the moon was at her feet. It was a new moon, symbolically birthed at the feet of The Virgin.

The sheer concentration of symbolism in the stars at this moment is remarkable. These things could certainly lead our magus to conclude that a Jewish king had been born. But even this is not the whole story. These symbols could indicate a birth, but if they were interpreted to indicate the time of conception, the beginning of a human life, might there be something interesting in the sky nine months later? Indeed. In June of 2 BC, Jupiter continued the pageantry…”

Click here to continue reading.


How Many Valiant Men Drew the Sword for Israel as Counted by Joab?

22 March 2011

Q. How many valiant men drew the sword for Israel as counted by Joab?
A. Joab concluded that 1,100,000 men of Israel drew the sword – 800,000 of which were “valiant”.

If we go by the verses cited as contradictory, that seems to be the obvious answer.

“And Joab gave the number of the registration of the people to the king; and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.” (2 Samuel 24:9)

“Joab gave the number of the census of all the people to David. And all Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword; and Judah was 470,000 men who drew the sword.” (1 Chronicles 21:5)

The record of the men of Judah was simply rounded to the nearest hundred thousands’ place by the author of 2 Samuel, but recorded more precisely by the chronicler of 1 Chronicles.

Sounds too simple to be an explanation for a supposed Bible contradiction, doesn’t it? Well, maybe that leaves us some time to study Occam’s Razor

Who Created Heaven and Earth?

22 March 2011

Q. Who created heaven and earth?
A. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The following verses have been cited as contradictory regarding the Creator of the universe:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, I, the LORD am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself and spreading out the earth all alone,” (Isaiah 44:24)

“There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” (John 1:6-10) [NOTE: If you are confused by the English translation, notice that if you continue reading through to verse 15, “He” and “Him” in the last sentence clearly refer to Jesus Christ, not John the Baptist.]

“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)

Any contradiction seen there clearly results from a misunderstanding about the Biblical concept of the Trinity. Yahweh, Yeshua and the Holy Spirit form the Triune God. In the docu-comedy film Religulous, a Jesus reenactor at the Holy Land Experience impressed Bill Maher by offering the different properties of water (ice, liquid and vapor) as an analogy for the three different dimensions of God. Now, picture water being supernaturally in its three different stages at once. The analogy is imperfect, but certainly helps convey the mysterious concept of the Trinity.

How Did Judas Iscariot Die?

22 March 2011

Q. Did Judas die by hanging himself, or by falling over in a field and having his midsection burst open spilling his guts everywhere?
A. Judas died by hanging himself.

The death of history’s most infamous traitor has stirred up such postmortem word-of-mouth controversy that it could be considered the classic Bible contradiction – the crême de la crême challenge of anti-Bible poohbahs everywhere. It also reads like a classic suicide/crime scene mystery, so it is one of the most interesting to solve.
Matthew wrote out, simply enough, what happened to Judas:

“Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to that yourself!’ And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.” (NASB)
– Matthew 27:3-5

The apparent contradiction to this account was written by our historian friend Luke. In the text of a speech made by Peter, Luke inserted a peculiar parenthetical:

“‘Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.’
(Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood)…” (NASB)
– Acts 1:16-19

The more one reads that passage, the less likely it appears to be a contradiction about Judas’ death. Matthew said that Judas hanged himself, and there is no reason to believe that the book of Acts suggests otherwise. Just because Luke says that Judas fell headlong and burst open in the middle doesn’t mean that was how Judas died. The initial Bible scholar consensus was that Judas collapsed and split open after he hanged himself – perhaps he was hanging from a tree or post in the field and the rope eventually snapped (natural analysis), or maybe Satan slammed Judas’ body down when he left him (supernatural analysis). Matthew Henry pointed out as a historical anecdote that hanging plus disembowelment was since used (at least by the English) as punishment for treason.
As satisfying of an autopsy as that may be to some, I find that it may be irrelevant after closer examination of the text. Think like a detective, now…

Notice that Acts 1:18 says that the person who ended up getting their midsection split open acquired a field. Take another look at what Matthew recorded:

“Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to that yourself!’ And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.
The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.’ And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.” (NASB)
– Matthew 27:3-8

So Judas, our initial gut-busting suspect, was last seen throwing the blood money into the temple sanctuary and then later found strangled in an obvious (and successful) suicide attempt. It’s very unlikely that he took any time to shop for real estate, and he certainly wasn’t the one who bought the Potter’s Field.

It was the chief priests and elders who acquired the field!

With this knowledge, I’ve examined the verses in Acts 1 again and have colored red the pronouns referring to Judas Iscariot:

“‘Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was counted among us and received his share in this ministry.’ (Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood)…” (NASB)

– Acts 1:16-19

The price of Judas’ wickedness – that is, the silver earned by Judas for turning Jesus in to the authorities – was used to fund the Pharisee burial-ground-for-strangers project (just when you thought priests couldn’t get any creepier…). But Judas himself had nothing to do with Hakeldama. The Greek word that is translated as “this man” in the NASB and KJV is houtos (ουτος), and the “includ. nom. masc. plur.” variation of that word in particular. This appears to be referring to the group of chief priests and elders that acquired the field. The Greek word translated there as “his” is autos (αυτου), which contains among its definitions “they, (these) things, this (man), those, together, very, which.”

Whoever happened to suffer that bizarre disemboweling experience, it most likely wasn’t Judas Iscariot.

Why do even translators have such a hard time figuring this out? Why didn’t Luke better clarify between Judas and the field buyers for our perturbed modern minds? When he was writing the Acts of the Apostles to Theophilus, what happened at Hakeldama was apparently common knowledge. Some English translators may have been confused because Luke added the historical anecdote about Hakeldama in the middle of Peter’s speech about Judas. The reason he added those details was probably to explain how Judas’ influence continued after his death (“By the way, some guy[s] acquired a field with the price of Judas’ wickedness”). The silver changed hands, but the curse upon it remained.

As is the usual case with “Bible Contradictions,” piddling over details that appear to conflict ends up obscuring the main (and highly consistent) point of the message. If we continue reading the Scriptures, it becomes apparent that the Field of Blood has prophetic significance. Matthew cited Old Testament prophecy regarding the Lord Jesus being valued at 30 pieces of silver, and how that same amount of silver would be used to buy the Potter’s Field.

“I said to them, ‘If it is good in your sight, give me my wages, but if not, never mind!’ So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.’ So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD.” (NASB)
– Zechariah 11:12-13

That was written some 500 years before the birth of Christ. Pretty wild, isn’t it?

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