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« Links Mentioned on the 10/22/13 Show | Main | Unified Truth: Faith and Reason »

October 23, 2013


So God's word needed to be checked... by people, not by God?

Steve, if you don't know what textual criticism is and why it's used, I recommend this.

It doesn't much matter but...

If I did go to Corinth in 180 and read what someone said was one of Paul's original letters, how would I know then it really was? More to the point, how do I know NOW that such a thing was really there to be seen?

If 'a few scribes would want to check behind their exemplar and look at its exemplar' that would help slow variation. Great! We still have the long ending of of Mark and the woman (Where's the man?) caught in adultery. I guess those efforts of those few scribes were not enough.

It "doesn't matter much" in this sense: Getting back to the original written version of the story doesn't necessarily get you back to the original story. Until you actually do know that Mathew wrote Mathew, Mark wrote Mark, etc, you still have the opportunity for full blown telephone in the oral transmission prior to the first writing.

Ron, you don't understand textual criticism. Textual criticism seeks to restore the original document as it was written. There is no such thing as telephone due to the fact that we have a large group of manuscripts to analyze. Scribes were incredibly careful and rarely made mistakes. About 95% of the mistakes that were made are repeated words, wrong punctuation, and wrong spelling. Occasionally, something might have worked its way into the text and been copied over time. This is usually because a scribe thought it was a mistake and had sought to correct. In addition to manuscripts, we have very old quotes by the early church fathers (enough to reconstruct the entire New Testament as it currently is all by itself). Telephone is not valid because you are comparing dozens of different lineages of copies and manuscripts. Most of the time, you can tell where a mistake crept into a group of manuscripts. It's not like you just have one linear group of copies--it's more complex than that.

Thus, most of the New Testament is reconstructed through the use of thousands of manuscripts as the original documents were written.

The different endings of Mark are likely due to the fact that on manuscripts, the ends and beginnings tend to fray first. So it is possible the original ending for Mark is lost, and the scribes knew this, so they wrote their own endings. Thanks to textual criticism, we know that the woman caught in adultery was not originally in John since all of the older manuscript groups don't include it. So the originals don't actually have that story, it's just included in most modern translations because it's a popular story (with a note that it doesn't appear anywhere in the older manuscripts). There are only 2 or 3 more significant variants that really change meaning that there are major questions about.

We basically have the original documents. Also, you don't get it in regards to authorship. Who authored the gospels is irrelevant to whether they are true or not. Scholarship does not pay attention any more almost to who authored them. The only sure first hand account is John (with very strong evidence that John the apostle authored it), with Matthew as a possibility. Luke tells us in his prologue that he interviewed eyewitnesses in order to corroborate the story. Luke tells us in the book of Acts (volume 2 of his Luke Acts book), "we", meaning that he traveled around with Paul personally and would have met Peter, James (Jesus's brother), and Mary when he went to Jerusalem with Paul. Whether or not this is Luke the doctor (almost all scholars think that Luke the doctor wrote Luke) is irrelevant since this is an account with proof in and of itself that it was written by interviewing people that experienced the events firsthand. Luke uses standard ancient historical practices when writing his Luke-Acts volumes.

Your statement that even if we have the originals as they were written, it does not prove the story, is indeed correct, Ron (but not that we must know who wrote the gospels). For instance, Bart Ehrman argues that the writers of the four gospels hijacked the story of Jesus and told lies because they had ulterior motives. The Jesus seminar might say that these are not the original stories, and that other manuscripts written in coptic 3 centuries later contain the real sayings of Jesus. However, when you start to look at both arguments like this or others (like Edward Schilbeeckx who says that the disciples experienced an existential event where they felt it was as if Jesus was right there with them), none of them have held up too well to scrutiny.

Rather, what is more likely is that the writers of the gospels believed what they wrote was true. And, if we analyze second temple Judaism and first century history, the following can be taken as historical events by literally anyone, even the most bitter skeptic: Jesus was crucified, he was buried in a tomb, and there was an empty tomb. Finally, I think we can also say that Jesus resurrected from the dead, and this is history. But some can't swallow such a strange idea.

Ron, you don't understand textual criticism. Textual criticism seeks to restore the original document as it was written. There is no such thing as telephone due to the fact that we have a large group of manuscripts to analyze. Scribes were incredibly careful and rarely made mistakes. About 95% of the mistakes that were made are repeated words, wrong punctuation, and wrong spelling.

The problem is that the earliest manuscripts available date to the Second Century C.E. So how do you know what happened between the supposed life of Jesus and the earliest manuscripts? Maybe someone forked the manuscript along the way because it made for a better story, and then all the copies to which you're referring contain "minor" differences. If the original story is false, then everything that comes after it is false too.

And, of course, there is zero evidence that the gospels were written by M, M, L and J. How can anyone possibly put their faith in documents that not only contradict themselves in dozens of ways, but also are of unknown origin? Who cares if Irenaeus claims they were authentic. It's not like we don't have hundreds of examples of Christian charlatans throughout history. Who's to say he wasn't one of the biggest.

Face it, if this type of proof is the best that God could do to demonstrate that he was incarnated in Jesus, he sure didn't seem to want to convince anyone other than those who are ready to grab onto anything that justifies their preconceived notions.


First of all, the information that we have with passages from the gospels are older than 2nd century CE. It is true that those are the oldest manuscripts, but the early church fathers begin quoting gospels as early as 120 CE.

You are dead wrong to say that there is zero evidence about who wrote what. It is true that the gospels are anonymous and that they do not have the names of the authors written in them. However, early church fathers tell us who wrote what. The problem in the case of Matthew is that there are some conflicts about who wrote Matthew and Mark. So we aren't sure about those. There is also a minor conflict about who wrote John, because Eusebius makes mention of a John the Elder. So about 60 percent of scholars believe John the apostle wrote it (I'm estimating here), while around 20 percent would say John the Elder (also clearly an authoritative figure if such a figure existed). The rest are usually the loonies who will say Madonna wrote it. There are no conflicts about who wrote Luke (but not a massive amount of evidence like with the others), but almost everyone who studies this on a consistent basis thinks Luke wrote Luke. I can't believe you think there is zero evidence.

So Irenaeus is a charlatan? A charlatan who prohibited people from paying a bribe for his release so he would not be executed? A charlatan who willingly marched towards his death in Rome? I guess you could argue he is a lunatic. Unfortunately, upon reading his stuff, there doesn't sound like much is crazy, rather very rational and sane. This is a silly argument if I have ever heard one. Irenaenus did not claim John the gospel was "authentic," he claimed John the apostle wrote it.

"So how do you know what happened between the supposed life of Jesus and the earliest manuscripts? Maybe someone forked the manuscript along the way because it made for a better story, and then all the copies to which you're referring contain "minor" differences."

Excellent question. This is exactly what the Jesus Seminar and Bart Ehrman claim (basically, they really claim that the gospel stories don't truly link back to Jesus, but are false narratives, not that they changed a manuscript). There are some major problems with this idea. (A) Outside evidence unanimously claims that Jesus was crucified, buried, that there was an empty tomb, and that also Christians taught Jesus had resurrected (B) Historical research tells us that this is not the case. No one would have invented a story like the Christians did. Here, I can't get into this too much, as it gets a bit complex. If you really want an answer to this question that is formidable as to why a Christian might believe this, then you must read N.T. Wright's three volumes A)The People of God B) Jesus and the Victory of God, and C) The Resurrection of the Son of God. These books are filled with scholarly jargon and are thick. They would take you a long while to read, but Wright would answer these questions and others like them. I doubt you have the patience to get through scholarly tomes like this, but it would well be worth your time if you are a seeker of truth. Wright looks at Second Temple Judaism, reconstructs Jesus in his first century context (spending time confronting the Jesus Seminar), and then argues that crucifixion, empty tomb, and resurrection are historical fact. His work is so impressive, that I will never have any doubt that Jesus resurrected from the dead again. Any of the questions you raise are more than answered emphatically. This is a giant of a scholar, and also an enjoyable read. If you take the time to read Richard Dawkins, then you should try these books, as at least you will have a better understanding of the historical time period. As an alternative, you could read it against Dominic Crossan's work, who believes Jesus was eaten by dogs, and see whose argument is stronger.

In answer to the internal contradictions- yes, there are internal contradictions. So what? There is no internal contradiction in the following: crucifixion, empty tomb, resurrection, etc. None of the important parts of the narratives conflict. You have changed order, details, etc., about different things, but nothing important. If they were all very very alike, then you would surely claim that the 4 authors colluded and you wouldn't believe them. I really don't see this as an obstacle of anything significant. As it is, most people think that Matthew used Mark, and that Luke also used Mark to write his account.

A question for you: who told you that God was going to give you proof of anything? A Christian doesn't come into his faith by mere logic, but by trying to do what Jesus says. This sort of thing is utterly illogical. For instance, to sell your possessions and give them to the poor? Who does that? (We Christians suck at this sort of thing in the USA) Oddly enough, when I have done those sort of things, I have gotten more proof than anything I have ever read in Greek. Notice that I am not saying you should throw your brain out the window. I am saying you should try living like Jesus teaches, and then come and tell us what you learned.

You act as if you do not have pre-conceived notions. Wake up AJG. Everyone has pre-conceived notions. There is no such thing as a birds-eye view when it comes to major life questions, and especially to historical questions. That is how both you and I approach it, and everyone else. Everyone starts somewhere. I promise you I am not grabbing onto "anything" to justify what I believe.

This telephone game thing has got to be the most intellectually dishonest criticism! I mean seriously, does anyone actually think one person whispered the message to one person who whispered it to the next and so on and so on? Even before the writing down of the message and events when people told of them, they told groups out loud!! In order for the analogy to be even close you would have to say that the first person said the message aloud to the group, and then the second person repeats it aloud to the group and so on and so on. How distorted do you imagine the message could get then? And among those groups were witnesses of the message and events being passed on who could easily challenge any mistakes. Why does this myth persist?

It persists because mankind is defiant of God and anything to do with God and will do anything and everything to discredit, run from, avoid and distance himself from that God. We are all desperately evil and filled with trumped up pride and it is only by the grace of God that reaches out to this fallen world that we can be saved from ourselves.

Matt, this is exactly correct. Even oral cultures can preserve oral traditions almost exactly in the form that the original story was told for centuries and centuries (probably how some of the Old Testament is recorded). This is hard for a modern literate society to believe, but if we went and lived with, say, the Bedouins that live much as they have for centuries, you can see how this is done. However, to be fair, I think the telephone criticism had to do with the manuscripts more than anything else. But, as my posts above clearly show, that's not how it works in textual criticism, because the path of the manuscripts is not linear. We should all be very thankful for the modern "science" of textual criticism, as it's likely that we have a closer New Testament to the original letters and gospels than at any time since the many centuries ago.

It persists because mankind is defiant of God and anything to do with God and will do anything and everything to discredit, run from, avoid and distance himself from that God.

And you know this how? Because a 2000-3000 year old book of stories says so? There are hundreds of such books around the world that tell a different, but equally unlikely, story about some god or gods. Were you just lucky to be born into the culture where the predominant religion worships the "right" god? Don't you think that's just a bit close-minded?

We are all desperately evil and filled with trumped up pride and it is only by the grace of God that reaches out to this fallen world that we can be saved from ourselves.

This is one of the primary reasons I left Christianity: because of it's odious teachings about how wicked people are without an invisible god to rescue them from themselves. It's one of the most detestable teachings I can imagine. I can assure you that we are not all desperately evil beings at heart. Mankind has always been capable of great evil or great good. You may feel you are completely evil, Carolyn, but I know that is not true at all. Let go of the self-loathing and embrace life as it is.

And how is it that you know about the evil in my own heart, AJG?! At time a precious infant is born he/she seems so completely innocent, so unmarred by anything at all. Within the first year or two, that same child begins to exhibit signs of selfishness, becomes possessive, bites, hits, screams when something is taken from him. Who taught him/her these things? No one did. It's in the nature of that child to be self-centered and want things his/her own way. That child may gradually learn acceptable social behaviors, but those are external things; his/her heart is still preoccupied with self and doing things the way that self directs. The idea of a God who has ultimate authority and power over him/her is not easily swallowed! A simple look at the world tells us this, AJG.

I'm sorry you find the truth of the human condition so detestable and that it drove you away. Every individual must determine which way he will run--TO God or AWAY from Him. Sadly, most people look at individuals around them and say, "I must be pretty good at heart because I'm pretty much like most of my friends and I'm certainly not evil like Hitler!" But God doesn't judge our level of goodness based on that standard; by HIS standard of goodness, we are all evil! But His unfathomable love stretches out a hand to us to save us; you find that detestable and I find it the greatest gift imaginable!

While I respect the views you hold, I believe you are entirely wrong and have come to a conclusion that will not end well. I sincerely hope you find your way back.

And how is it that you know about the evil in my own heart, AJG

I don't know with certainty, but I strongly suspect that you are not completely evil. Living with such a view of oneself is unhealthy. I'm certain that you have done good in the world and I do not believe that comes from the indwelling of the holy spirit or anything supernatural. There's nothing prideful about acknowledging that you have done good. That's the self-loathing dogma talking: the Jonathan Edwards view of humanity that says you're just a bug that deserves to be dropped into a raging fire. It's harmful and should be called out for what it is.

Every individual must determine which way he will run--TO God or AWAY from Him.

If he won't show himself how can I run away from him or to him for that matter? You talk as if the existence of god is so obvious that everyone should see it. It's not. There is no evidence for a god. None. Even if you want to claim, like Paul, that creation demonstrates his existence, it doesn't. Every question that science has answered was at one point attributed to god. He's running out of places to hide. And still he doesn't show his face. Is he just testing you? Is he testing all of us? It's been 2000 years since he supposedly walked among us. 2000 years since he told his disciples that they would see his return within their own lifetimes. That was clearly false, and yet Christians still hold out hope that he's coming again. At what point are you going to realize it ain't happening?

AJG, because you say He hasn't "shown Himself" does not make it so. Millions upon millions of people recognize God's handiwork and correctly define it as such. That you do not does not mean He does not exist. Your eyes are blinded by your pride--indeed, "there are none so blind as those who will not see."

I don't believe I ever said that people can't do some good things. What I relayed was that what we consider our "goodness" is a far cry from the goodness and holiness of God--the standard to which we are called. God alone had to redeem us to such a state. A Christian does not live with self-loathing--to be a follower of Christ means that you have agreed with God's assessment of Himself and His assessment of yourself and found yourself lacking. You have accepted His free gift of salvation and bear a new nature. Self-loathing is not part of that redeemed man.

God is clearly evident to those who seek Him and are His; He is only elusive to those who are blinded by pride and sin.

You left me with a question and I will do the same: At what point are you going to realize the price you pay for your inflated sense of self? I hope it's before it's too late.

God is clearly evident to those who seek Him and are His; He is only elusive to those who are blinded by pride and sin.

And Allah is clear to Muslims, and Elohim is clear to Mormons, etc. You are blinded to the truth of the Mormon religion. Have you felt a burning in the bosom? That's the Mormon god inviting you. You just THINK it's the holy spirit.

Just because you want something to be true or have been raised to believe it doesn't mean it is. Millions and millions of people are deluded about a great many things every single day. What they think or feel might be meaningful to them but that doesn't make it true in any sense of the word.

You left me with a question and I will do the same: At what point are you going to realize the price you pay for your inflated sense of self? I hope it's before it's too late.

I'll answer after you do. Jesus told his disciples that he would return during their lifetimes. The NT authors (Paul, author of Hebrews, authors of the gospels) all believed this because Jesus said it. It was a lie. He never returned. Why do you actually think it will ever happen? The Jesus of the gospels is a proven liar and/or failed prophet. Why would you ever think he's god?

I will answer your question as I understand it, AJG: The Greek word for "generation" used in Matthew, Mark, and Luke is "genea" and has the connotation of "race". I understand that to be a reference to the Jewish race, not to a single lifespan of certain people within the race.

As far as claiming that Jesus was a liar, your arrogance in saying so reveals the depth of your rebellion and complete lack of understanding of Christianity. I do sincerely hope you will have time left on earth to reconsider your situation and make necessary changes.

Why do I think He will return? I believe Him to be who He said He was; I believe Him to do what He promises to do. I find Him faithful to His character, His Word, and His nature. He is God, He is Lord, He is Savior--quite enough for me.

I will answer your question as I understand it, AJG: The Greek word for "generation" used in Matthew, Mark, and Luke is "genea" and has the connotation of "race". I understand that to be a reference to the Jewish race, not to a single lifespan of certain people within the race.

Even if this was the case - and a plain reading of the text in no way supports this position - Jesus told his disciples that they themselves would see his return. In other words, it would happen within their lifetimes.

"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:27-28

There's no way to justify this so most Christians either ignore it or come up with convoluted explanations to try to rescue their theology. It's amazing how biblical literalists stamp their feet that mythology like Genesis 1 should be taken as literal history but when confronted with a passage like this which can only be read one way - a way that destroys the dogma that Jesus is anything other than a failed prophet - they will tell skeptics that it doesn't really mean what it says.

I do sincerely hope you will have time left on earth to reconsider your situation and make necessary changes.

I appreciate the concern (although I question the sincerity). When all else fails, Christians inevitably use the veiled threat of judgement in the afterlife. It's always been the primary way to keep people in the fold. Why anyone would want to worship a god who instills fear in this way is beyond my understanding.

I'm glad for you that your beliefs bring you peace. It still doesn't make them true and it still doesn't mean that Christianity isn't anything other than a cult built upon an ancient mythology. I don't hope or necessarily want to change your mind about your beliefs, but I would hope that you - and others who may be reading this - would question why you believe the things that you do and whether there is any justification for doing so.

What was the story in Matthew that immediately followed the 'failed prophecy' of Mathhew 16:27-28?

The Transfiguration. The event that fulfilled the prophecy.

As usual an atheist attempt to find a 'Bible contradiction' turns out to be pretty lame.

The Transfiguration. The event that fulfilled the prophecy.

Nonsense. Did you even read verse 27? The clear implication is that Jesus was referring to the final judgement. You're twisting the plain meaning of the text to fit your presuppositions.

AJG, my concern for your soul is sincere whether you doubt it or not. I shudder at the consequences of abandoning God!

Here is something I want to share with you about the verses in Matthew 16--specifically 27-28. Scripture requires study, AJG, not just our firsthand impressions and easy dismissal. The following is from Matthew Henry's Commentary:

"Here are some considerations proper to encourage us in self-denial and suffering for Christ.(1.) The assurance we have of Christ’s glory, at his second coming to judge the world, v. 27. If we look to the end of all these things, the period of the world, and the posture of souls then, we shall thence form a very different idea of the present state of things. If we see things as they will appear then, we shall see them as they should appear now. The great encouragement to steadfastness in religion is taken from the second coming of Christ, considering it,[1.] As his honour; The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels. To look upon Christ in his state of humiliation, so abased, so abused, a reproach of men, and despised of the people, would discourage his followers from taking any pains, or running any hazards for him; but with an eye of faith to see the Captain of our salvation coming in his glory, in all the pomp and power of the upper world, will animate us, and make us think nothing too much to do, or too hard to suffer, or him. The Son of man shall come. He here gives himself the title of his humble state (he is the Son of man ), to show that he is not ashamed to own it. His first coming was in the meanness of his children, who being partakers of flesh, he took part of the same; but his second coming will be in the glory of his Father. At his first coming, he was attended with poor disciples; at his second coming, he will be attended with glorious angels; and if we suffer with him, we shall be glorified with him, 2 Tim. 2:12 .[2.] As our concern; Then he shall reward every man according to his works. Observe, First, Jesus Christ will come as a Judge, to dispense rewards and punishments, infinitely exceeding the greatest that any earthly potentate has the dispensing of. The terror of men’s tribunal Ch.10:18 will be taken off by a believing prospect of the glory of Christ’s tribunal. Secondly, Men will then be rewarded, not according to their gains in this world, but according to their works, according to what they were and did. In that day, the treachery of backsliders will be punished with eternal destruction, and the constancy of faithful souls recompensed with a crown of life. Thirdly, The best preparative for that day is to deny ourselves, and take up our cross, and follow Christ; for so we shall make the Judge our Friend, and these things will then pass well in the account. Fourthly, The rewarding of men according to their works is deferred till that day. Here good and evil seem to be dispensed promiscuously; we see not apostasy punished with immediate strokes, nor fidelity encouraged with immediate smiles, from heaven; but in that day all will be set to rights. Therefore judge nothing before the time, 2 Tim. 4:6-8 .(2.) The near approach of his kingdom in this world, v. 28. It was so near, that there were some attending him who should live to see it. As Simeon was assured that he should not see death till he had seen the Lord’s Christ come in the flesh; so some here are assured that they shall not taste death (death is a sensible thing, its terrors are seen, its bitterness is tasted) till they had seen the Lord’s Christ coming in his kingdom. At the end of time, he shall come in his Father’s glory; but now, in the fullness of time, he was to come in his own kingdom, his mediatorial kingdom. Some little specimen was given of his glory a few days after this, in his transfiguration Ch.17:1 ); then he tried his robes. But this points at Christ’s coming by the pouring out of his Spirit, the planting of the gospel church, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the taking away of the place and nation of the Jews, who were the most bitter enemies to Christianity. Here was the Son of man coming in his kingdom. Many then present lived to see it, particularly John, who lived till after the destruction of Jerusalem, and saw Christianity planted in the world. Let this encourage the followers of Christ to suffer for him, [1.] That their undertaking shall be succeeded; the apostles were employed in setting up Christ’s kingdom; let them know, for their comfort, that whatever opposition they meet with, yet they shall carry their point, shall see of the travail of their soul. Note, It is a great encouragement to suffering saints to be assured, not only of the safety, but of the advancement of Christ’s kingdom among men; not only notwithstanding their sufferings, but by their sufferings. A believing prospect of the success of the kingdom of grace, as well as of our share in the kingdom of glory, may carry us cheerfully through our sufferings. [2.] That their cause shall be pleaded; their deaths shall be revenged, and their persecutors reckoned with. [3.] That this shall be done shortly, in the present age. Note, The nearer the church’s deliverances are, the more cheerful should we be in our sufferings for Christ. Behold the Judge standeth before the door. It is spoken as a favour to those that should survive the present cloudy time, that they should see better days. Note, It is desirable to share with the church in her joys, Dan. 12:12 . Observe, Christ saith, Some shall live to see those glorious days, not all; some shall enter into the promised land, but others shall fall in the wilderness. He does not tell them who shall live to see this kingdom, lest if they had known, they should have put off the thoughts of dying, but some of them shall; Behold, the Lord is at hand. The Judge standeth before the door; be patient, therefore, brethren."

WisdomLover is correct that the Transfiguration was part of the fulfillment of that prophecy--but there was more. The whole birth of the church, God's kingdom, would begin with the coming of the Holy Spirit.

AJG, you wrote:

"When all else fails, Christians inevitably use the veiled threat of judgement in the afterlife. It's always been the primary way to keep people in the fold. Why anyone would want to worship a god who instills fear in this way is beyond my understanding. I'm glad for you that your beliefs bring you peace. It still doesn't make them true and it still doesn't mean that Christianity isn't anything other than a cult built upon an ancient mythology. I don't hope or necessarily want to change your mind about your beliefs, but I would hope that you - and others who may be reading this - would question why you believe the things that you do and whether there is any justification for doing so."

Clearly, MUCH here is beyond your understanding. Not because you can't understand it, but because you don't WANT to understand it. You've made up your mind that you're correct and that there is no God and it's all a bunch of mythology. I believe that we Christians have a very solid foundation on which to believe; what do you have?

Oh yeah, it's nonsense AJG. I'm so glad that you atheists are able to interpret the sacred texts of our religion for us.

Dude. They are the texts of our religion. We're not impressed with know-nothing criticisms of them that are not addressed to what we believe about what they mean.

If you are interested in knowing what the text says and criticizing it based on knowledge of what Christians actually believe about it, I encourage you to read some of the excellent works that are cited in this blog on a regular basis. Or thoughtfully read what the better commentators here (like Carolyn or Jared) have to say. Or just, you know, try to have a little imagination and place yourself in the position of the person whose religion you are criticizing.

Until you do that, you're just trying to jam your non-believing interpretation down on Christian believers. Why should it be any surprise that the Bible has problems under that operation?

The problem, of course, with such criticisms, is that the critic is not addressing anyone. He literally has no idea what he is talking about.


I'm going to bow out of this discussion now. It's not profitable for anyone at this point. I am an atheist BECAUSE I was an evangelical Christian for over 30 years. I know all the arguments and how proponents of the bible as god's word have to twist themselves into intellectual pretzels to force it to make sense. While I find the rationalizations for these passages from Carolyn and yourself to be ludicrous and to ignore the very plain meaning of these texts, I'm not going to try to convince you of that. I know firsthand that it is impossible to get an evangelical to admit that the bible is a mishmash of confusing and self-contradictory stories and teachings, much less that it contains ANY errors. The only thing I will say is that a book that is supposed to be god's revelation of himself to a world of sinners he supposedly loves is awfully confusing and unclear. If a person can't pick it up and make sense of it without a bunch of pseudo-popes (theological scholars) telling him what it really says then it's not of much value, IMO.

Scripture must be defined on its own terms. And why is that? It is because all other methods lead to the sorts of errors seen here in the thinking of the critics speaking of Matthew 17.

The fashion in which Mind perceives and knows just is contextually triune and we realize the truth of this as we unearth the fact that that which is Self perceives and spies-out and knows along those lines in-here and casually amalgamates within/onto all those lines that are out-there in that which is Other, and, ultimately, these Two-Distinct-s of Know-ing, that of Self and that of Other, comprise by amalgamation the Whole of Know that just is the singularity of Unity described as this: Us. If Self knows anything, it does not do so void of Self, just as, on necessity, it does not do so void of Other. And so too with Love. Self. Other. And these in the Singularity of Unity: E Pluribus Unum. It turns out that Mind’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum just is Love’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum.

Context, specifically the contextually triune, just is how we go about knowing stuff. Just as, such just is how we go about loving.

Scripture’s interpretation: Isolated text, void of con-text, leaves us with simply the con, and such is how error is birthed --- that is a bit comical, but, nonetheless, it is applicable to the errors we see in this thread’s critics. As in Mind, as in all things, the way Mind knows, perceives, just is contextually triune, for the Uncreated Mind just is contextually triune, and, in our own created Mind such sightlines are in that very image. And so, in scripture, as in Actuality, the Whole Show must be accounted for in Love’s Own stated Beginning-Points and Endpoints. Context. Knowing and Loving just do happen within and atop a contextually triune geography and the fragments of this Whole that is [Scripture’s Story from A to Z] which we attempt to wrench out of that Triune Whole and then, from there, set up as our own handmade “pretend whole” and then, from there, go about defining everything with these self-made pretend-fragments, void of the Whole out of which we have yanked them, just is the kind of knowing which is void of context whereby error inevitably comes about.

Peter beholds Love’s Timelessness there in Mathew 16 and Matthew 17 and completely misses the point, being a Jew with a mindset buried in the Law’s Ministry of Death there inside what God labels hell-on-earth there between Genesis 3:16 and John 3:16. Later Peter (after he got-it) speaks of such in II Peter: “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on that sacred mountain.”

Love’s Timelessness precedes the hell on earth defined by God in Genesis 3:16 and just is the Landscape we find there both in Eden and in Gethsemane, as Love has but one Garden. Love pours-out. Unchangingly. Love fills-up. Unchangingly. Peter is clueless and thinks that Love’s Kingdom is all about one human being dominating another human being, which is what Love Himself defines as the Outside, as the Dark, as Death, void of God, and thus void of Love, and thus such just is Love-Less-Ness actualized within Time there in Genesis 3:16. Domination of this human being over some other human being and inequality’s lovelessness enter as the Dark Outside, for God is Love, and a Landscape full of Power, void of Love, is the very definition of hell and such is, by our hand, and not by necessity, found actualized in Time, on earth, there inside of the Ministry of Death between Genesis 3:16 and John 3:16.

In Matthew 16 Jesus hints to Peter of Love’s Pouring-Out, of Love’s Filling-Up. The Amalgamation that just is Seed’s Seed is described in Genesis 3:15 as the eventual solution to that actualized (though not necessary) vacuum found in Genesis 3:16. This Seed’s Seed is actualized in Time, not in the juxtaposition of Timelessness and Time, which never can bring Unity’s E Pluribus Unum, but in the amalgamation of Timelessness and Time, of Uncreated-Created, of God-In-Man, Man-In-God, which is the only mechanistic actuality whereby we find Love’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum which precedes Genesis 3:16 once again actualizing inside of Time.

Both the First Adam and the Last Adam, Pre-Genesis 3:16 and Post-John 3:16, land in Gethsemane, wherein Love’s necessary and ever-present nuance of Pain is found in Love’s delight in that everlasting motion that just is Other and not Self, and we find that such need never house sin in that First and Last Adam. Of course, that is a whole separate discussion, but is touched on here only to show the critic that it is the Whole Show, the A to Z, which must be accounted for if he means to question Scripture’s story of Love’s Actuality. Our Slavery, though Actualized inside of Time (and beyond), is not Necessary, just as, our Freedom, if Actualized inside of Time (and beyond), is necessarily by the Hand of Actuality’s Greatest, and Only, Abolitionist. [All-Possibilities] are Forever-Actual there inside of that far wider Timelessness Who just is [God], and we find inside of Him no business of actualize-ing, no business of discover-ing, though we find all sorts of such things inside of Time. Necessity and Possibility are, we find, non-identical. A does not equal B, though A may equal B, contingent upon Will’s Willing-s, and, as Power Wills will, we find inside of [All-Possibility] the coherence of Un-Willed-Actualization within Time, for in Timelessness we unearth no change in any direction.

Matthew 16 and Matthew 17 are about this, and nothing else. But then, all of scripture is about this, and nothing else. Love’s necessary triune E Pluribus Unum declares of Man, “Let Us make Man in Our Image”. Hard stop.

Matthew 16’s Sacrifice resisted:

In Matthew 16 we find Jesus rebuking Peter with this: “Get behind Me Satan” as Peter rebukes Jesus for His expression of Love’s Ransom, Jesus’ death, Love’s Pouring-Out, as Peter mistakenly thinks that the road to filling-up is by the sword, by Power alone. Power void of Love just is the mindset of the Law’s Ministry of Death. We find in Leviticus and in Deuteronomy that, Pan-World, there are no favorites, for both Gentile and Israelite can stand, or fall, depending on the loveless-ness of Leviticus 18’s burning children in fire sacrifices found in all nations, or the circumcision of the foreskin of our own hearts, as Deut 10:16 echoes Love’s Whole spoken of in Genesis 3:15, whereby the Whole-World spoken of in the same Pan-World fashion there in the Ministry of Death is found in John 3:16’s Pan-World language for God loves the stranger and invites him into Israel, both in the Old and in the New.

Love’s vacuum is, over and over and over, found manifest inside of Man, inside of the Created Mind. There are no prisoners taken in hell on earth. There is no rehabilitation in hell on earth. It is death or it is life. Love’s void. He, Love, by definition, by man’s hand, not by necessity, is hidden out of reach, atop a Mercy Seat, incognito, sparing the world the proximity of Power void of Love. All those who burn their little boys and girls in fire sacrifices have no recourse on Love’s end, whether Jew or Stranger, and all taken alive have no hope, but for, in the seventh or eighth year perhaps, and in the Jubilee certainly, the liberation of Actuality’s Only Abolitionist, and such is so whether the offender be of Abraham or of the Stranger. The physical chains wrought by Justice are one thing, the chains on Mankind as a species quite another, and it is Love, incognito there in the Old and incognito there in Christ, reconciling both sides of that coin to Himself. The whole thread in Matthew 16 and 17, well, from Genesis 1 to Revelation’s last page, is about nothing else except this: Love’s Timelessness will ultimately actualize here inside of Time as Jesus describes in Matthew 16, and such a Garden is but Gethsemane’s road out of Eden, Love’s everlasting Pouring Out, found uncreated, as described in Genesis 3:15 as Seed’s Seed, the amalgamation of Timelessness-Time, which is the solution to Genesis 3:16’s vacuum, a vacuum which can never be filled-up by mere Court Decree alone, for Juxtaposition Outside of Love is not the whole of Man’s pathology, while Vacuum is the whole of the pathology in hell’s void of love, privation’s love-less-ness, and thus Love must Pour-Out should such a Vacuum be , as we all know that vacuums do not, cannot, magically birth actuality. Vacuums are contingent themselves, but fragments of some larger whole. “Why not just forgive?” looks at Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self and applies an unsophisticated sort of logic, and an unawareness of what Love is, to Man’s condition there in hell on earth.

Of all these things: Peter will have none of it. Nor will Mankind. And so we find ourselves inching towards Matthew 17.

This whole theme is completely incomprehensible (at that time) to Peter and to those who do not view Actuality as Immutable Love from the top down, as scripture defines such from A to Z, and thus we ought not be too harsh with the critics we find here in this thread. Their mindset is all about the Ministry of Death and is void of an ontology which begins and ends in Uncreated Love’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum. There is no such thing as Love’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum, fully actualized, perfected, in their ontology. Self, Other, and these Perfect Distinct-s in that Singularity of Unity that just is necessarily begotten by embrace in that Third and very present Distinct, the singular Us, are but blind axiom over there in the critic’s mind and thus they cannot see scripture’s story from [A to Z] as the Whole by which all lesser fragments are defined. For what is “definition” itself, what is “fragment” itself but for the Whole from which they are artificially wrenched…………. The word “Definition” itself is a word without definition over there in those blind axioms void of ontology’s end of ad infinitum.

What of Peter?

What is it that Peter rebukes Jesus for? Peter rebukes Jesus for Love’s Timelessness actualizing here inside of Time on Love’s Own Terms. Peter cannot see past the end of the nose on his face in Matthew 16 (moving towards Matthew 17) as Jesus speaks of Love’s Sacrifice eternally displacing the sacrifices of Law’s Ministry of Death, of which Love declared, “I take no delight in any of that. Prepare for Me a Body”. Jesus speaks of the Dying God and Peter’s mind cannot make the leap: Love dies? Love sacrifices? Within Love’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum there is, necessarily, Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self? Peter is clueless, and, even more so, he is angry. He keeps thinking about conquering Rome as his mind is full of Genesis 3:16, full of people dominating people there in the Landscape which Love defines as the Dark Outside, full of Power, void of Love’s E Pluribus Unum, void of the John 3:16 which Jesus is manifesting here in Time. As the Unity found throughout Pre-Genesis 3:16 inches closer to the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15’s prediction of Actualization within Time, Peter rebukes Jesus in Mathew 16, (inching towards Matthew 17), for stating such a concept. Love’s Ransom is refused by Peter in Matthew 16 and we find Uncreated Love declaring of Word’s Corporeal, of Love made Flesh, in Matthew 17 this: “This is My Son. Listen to Him”. Peter later recalls all of this and describes such as beholding the Son in all of His Majesty, as he recalls seeing the Son come in His Power there on that mountain. The Unchanging God that just is Word made Flesh is spied out, beheld, seen, there inside of Time’s tenses on that mountain as the Timeless and Actual pushes, shapes, Time’s Actualization. Peter saw the Unchanging, the Timeless, but for a moment, there inside of Time. The prophecy is fulfilled, and it seems Jesus had Peter’s benefit (and ours) in mind in all of it. But, of course, that is what Love does.

In Matthew 17 we find the solution to Peter’s mindset (all of our mindsets) there in Matthew 16 as, right after that event in Matthew 17, Jesus again tells Peter about Love’s Ransom, as He did in Matthew 16, about Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self, only, now, Peter keeps his mouth shut, forgets about building yet more alters, stops rebuking Love’s Ransom, and waits for Timeless Life to do what it cannot help but do: displace Death inside of Time.

All of Scripture is one anthology comprising one geographical location for Love has but One Garden and all vectors stream out-of and again into that singular topographical makeup. The critic must not apply his own definitions and fashion his own pretend fragments atop what Immutable Love’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum defines differently inside of the Whole that is Love’s [A to Z].

Love just is the business of E Pluribus Unum. And such just is triune. Self. Other. And these within embrace just do beget, necessarily, the singularity of unity that is Us.

All of Scriptural interpretation starts and ends there. Period.

Love’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum declares of Man, “Let Us make Man in Our Image”.

Hard Stop.

I think one point of the matter that hasn't been brought forward is the issue of dissemination of the original documents within the Apostles' lifetime. Was there a conscious effort to send copies of gospels and epistles in the first years. The textual problem of Eph. 1: 1 of the lack of en Epheso (in Ephesus) has one intriguing solution, a multiple copy version allowing a typical general epistle like Ephesians to be sent to several congregations in the area of Asia Minor. The letter to the Laodicians (Col. 4: 16) could have been their copy of "Ephesians," while the letter to the Colossians could be copied to send to Laodicia.

Jared Berryman's post way in the beginning of this string made excellent points. At the end of the 70's A.D., the early Church had extended to the areas of Asia Minor where the collection and copying of written material were centered.
Second century copies of meterial relating to first century events suggest strongly that the first documents were swiftly spread about the centers of the early faith. So much to the extent that Marcion's truncated canon in the mid-second century was criticized on Marcion's zeal to purge Jewish elements from consideration. So much to the extent that Tatianb could compose the first harmonization of the Gospels at about that same time.

So much to the point that copy-cat gospels were passed off as phony knock-offs of true Apostolic works by a wary, intelligent Church. The core of the canon was evident in the first century.


I would like to address some of your comments, and hopefully my comments will in some way be beneficial to you.

First of all, implying that Christians believe that human beings cannot do good without belief in Jesus is not correct. The Christian teaching is that human beings are created in the image of God, and thus good at our core. But we have a fatal flaw and a sickness in us that is sin. God made human beings as glorious with the intention of us living immortally. But sin has ruined our glory and also our immortality. We are still created in the image of God and able to do good, it's just that human beings are unable to achieve a peaceful and just world on our own, or obtain immortality on our own. That is the Christian teaching, not what you mentioned earlier about being terribly wicked.

Second, the scripture you referenced about the second coming and returning within the disciples' lifetime does not have to do with the final resurrection of the dead (Mark 13 for instance). It has to do with victory of the cross over sin and paganism, and the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus never said the final resurrection would occur in the disciples' lifetime. He said that he would "come/go" (erchomai means come or go both) in power and bring judgment upon the Jewish ruling establishment for rejecting the Messiah through the Roman army (similar to how God uses Babylon to bring judgment on Israel). If you read N.T. Wright as I suggested, you can see why in more detail that this is what is going on. It's clear you have some major misunderstandings about what the Bible teaches (once again, not an insult, I'm just trying to inform you.). And I for one think the transfiguration has nothing to do with the passage in Matthew. In fact, the phrase in Revelation, He is coming soon, the events are at hand, are also a reference to the judgment upon the Roman empire for the persecution of Christians (but later on in the book the resurrection is referenced in the last couple of chapters). Nevertheless, it's clear Jesus believed in a final resurrection of all the dead and and the beginning of a new age where heaven (God's space) and earth (our space) intersect as one and all sin is defeated. There are quite a few things to infer from all of this, but considering that you were an evangelical, I imagine you've seen all sorts of interpretations that are completely wrong-headed. Most U.S. Christians have a hard time wrapping their heads around the apocalyptic genre. If you will read the books I suggested by N.T. Wright, he will give a better explanation at how the apocalyptic genre works in Judaism, and clarify what Jesus predicted and what Jesus didn't. For instance, the term: parousia. Parousia means "presence", not second coming. Another words, Jesus will be present in judgment upon those who persecute his people.

God is not invisible. He walked upon the earth as a human being, and Jesus will return to put everything under his authority. A real human being will govern our world and be at the helm.

Please do not compare the synoptic gospels or John with myth. A simple read through and you should realize that they have nothing in common with the mythical stories of Zeus and the like. Biblical scholarship thought in the 19th century in those terms. Now anyone who is a biblical scholar thinks this is total nonsense. At worst, the gospels are a shadow of a shadow (Crossan), or at best, historical fact (Wright).

You find the teaching that we need God to help us triumph over our sin as odious. I think this gets to the heart of the matter. But I am wondering, AJG, how is it that you will become a perfect, wise, always ethically correct human being? And how is it that you will achieve immortality on your own? Yes, you can certainly do good. But, on your own, have you come to sell your possessions and give them to the poor? Have you forgiven a person who did something unspeakable to you? Do you look at the opposite sex in a lustful way? Do you always treat others in a way even better than they deserve? Do you wish your enemies well? Etc. etc. If you have achieved this level of living on your own, then I salute you. But myself, I cannot get there. The offer of Jesus is that he will take us there, beginning now, and reaching its conclusion past death in the future resurrection.

To me, that is good news. I'm perplexed that you find that odious. As far as I can see, human beings make a mess of everything. But God in his mercy has given us a fix. We never could get it right, but God has given us the power to get it right. I'm thankful to God that he is molding me into a wise, fulfilled human being. I am not there yet, but with Jesus, such a thing is possible in the future. Without Jesus, I don't see our world becoming a just place.

From a narrative standpoint, viewing the transfiguration as the fulfillment of that prophecy seems pretty compelling.

It is literally the very next thing mentioned by Matthew.

The sticky part, apparently, is the bit in v27 where he says that:

a) The son of Man will come in the glory of the Father and His angels, and
b) HE will repay each man according to his deeds.

Neither a nor b seem to have occurred at the Transfiguration.

I say 'apparently' and 'seem' because, of course, that's not the way things are.

First we need to notice what v28 does and does not say. It does say that some will not taste death until they see Jesus coming in His kingdom. It does not say that some will not taste death until they see the world judged. That is, it does say that some will not taste death until item (a) occurs. It does not say that some will not taste death until they see item (b) occur.

Now, on item (a), observe first that the Father was present at the transfiguration. That's who told Peter to shut up.

As for the angels, it bears remembering that angelon just means "messenger" or "envoy". The creatures with wings and wheels-in-wheels and multiple heads and so forth are one type of messenger that God uses. But "angelon" is sometimes used in the NT to refer to ordinary people delivering messages. When translated as "angel" we tend to knee-jerk to the wheels-within-wheels and so forth. But the disciples of John the Baptizer whom John sent to ask Jesus whether they should wait for someone else, for example, were referred to using "angelon". And I'm relatively certain that they were just normal people. Not angels.

Now, Moses and Elijah are perfectly good envoys of the Father. They make for perfectly good fulfillment of the 'angels' prophesied by v27.

Now, that is really all that absolutely must be said here. Some people did not taste death before they saw Jesus come in His kingdom, with the Father and His envoys. Prophecy fulfilled.

Sometime after that the deeds of men will be repaid.

Maybe after those first witnesses of the kingdom are dead, maybe while they are still alive. The text is really silent on this point.

But I suppose that some people would still like to see that repayment occurring in the lifetime of Peter, James and John.

My first claim on that desire is: you don't need it. Get over it.

But, with that said, in this case, your personal preference also happens to be satisfied. Don't get used to it. God does what He says He will do, but He doesn't always do things the way you'd like.

"What's that?" you ask, "Men were repaid according to there deeds before Peter, James and John tasted death?"


It is worth considering exactly who is doing the repaying there. Bear in mind that in Greek, as with a lot of highly inflected tongues, a pronominal subject might simply be left out because it is wholly implicit in the verb form.

Thus, this is a perfectly good translation of v27:

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and HE WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.
That's just the NASB translation with an explicit pronoun for the subject of the second independent clause. I put the added pronoun in bold italics.

So, this gives rise to a question. To whom does "HE" refer? And the answer, following standard rules of precedence is that it refers to the Father. So the passage says that sometime after the Son of Man comes in Glory, the Father will repay all men according to their deeds.

"So what?" you might say, "Father, Schmather, it's still referring to the final judgement!"

But no. Some men are not paid according to their deeds at the final judgement. If there's one thing that's abundantly clear in Scripture, it's that. That, in fact, is kind of the whole point of Christianity.

So when were the wages of Sin paid?

At one time, and in one place: Calvary.

As Peter, James, John and Jesus were returning from the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus told them that the Son of Man would suffer and die, and that they were not to speak of the Transfiguration until after the resurrection.

That is, Jesus explicitly linked the Transfiguration to His Passion. That event was not to be considered over until His death and resurrection. The death in which the Father poured out His wrath with sinful Man on Jesus.

All men have already been recompensed according to their deeds. It's just that Jesus accepted the recompense instead of each man. But the transaction is complete.

And that occurred while Peter, James and John were alive also.

Oh, how twisted that interpretation is! It has all the trappings of...reading.

Peter didn't like the bit about Ransom either.

Until the transfiguration.

Wisdom Lover, I would also encourage you to read N.T. Wright and his three volumes mentioned above, especially "Jesus and the Victory of God". Jesus victory is on the cross where he is elevated victorious above the powers of paganism, and people are later repaid their deeds through judgment upon the temple. This sort of judgment occurs in the nations over and over in the OT, and Jesus' message is just like that of the OT prophets, save that Jesus is declaring that he is the Messiah. Just as the Babylonians punished Israel for their deeds, and Persia punished Babylon for her misdeeds, etc. etc., Jesus and his angels will come in power through the Roman machine to destroy Jerusalem and the temple, thereby vindicating Jesus and punishing the Jewish establishment that rejected the Messiah. But, thanks be to Jesus's prophetic announcement, the Christians saw it coming and fled Jerusalem before it fell (thus sparing themselves from the horrible things that would have happened in such an event). Likewise, Jesus later brings about judgment on Rome for her injustice and war against the Saints. I think we can take it even further. What state that has made open war against Christianity (USSR, Pol Pot, etc.) has ever managed to stand the test of time (besides a few years)? Whatever world order that takes up war against Christians, will die: through war, through famine, through poverty. Jesus shares a lot more with the OT apocalyptic prophets than we realize.

With or without the background of reading N.T. Wright, I agree with most of what you say Jared about the fate of those who set themselves up against God. From Lucifer downward. My point was simply:

a) The prophecy made in v27 doesn't depend on any particular judgement event (except that it will be brought about by the Father at sometime after Jesus is seen coming in the glory of the Father).

b) Even if it did, the judgement that fell on Jesus on the cross, something he explicitly linked the Transfiguration to, is all the judgement event that you need, and it occurred before some of His listeners died.

c) The Transfiguration is more than sufficient for us to say that Jesus came in the glory of the Father before some of His listeners died.

Now, as you note, the destruction of the temple might also fit the prophecy. From a narrative standpoint I don't think it works quite as well as a fulfillment that occurs six days later in time (and something like six words later in the text).

Also, the destruction of the Temple, by itself, does not seem to be a judgement that was passed on all men. I think you have to say that the judgement passed on all men is passed on all those who stubbornly oppose God's will (that is, everyone). The Israelites who suffered the destruction of the Temple are just a case in point.

On the other hand, the punishment Christ took for us on the cross is a straightforwardly a judgement that was passed on all men.

Of course, there is nothing that prevents all these answers from being true. Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Resurrection and ongoing judgement against the unrepentant occurred, or at least began, while almost all of Jesus' listeners were still alive.

Void of Ransom, Love's Eternally Sacrificed Self (found Unchanging within Love's triune E Pluribus Unum) is not beheld within Time.

Peter rejected this of the Son in Matthew 16.


As if Love tells any other story.

Matthew 17 answers that rejection.

Love's Cross is Love's Glory beheld.

What other Glory is there?

Such is Man's End.

Many of us, myself included, like AJG, make the same mistake Peter made. We think on the words "glory" and "judgment" and "power" and we can only envision Law's Ministry of Death, as described on Love’s Own terms. He defines His Own fragments. We resist. We cannot see Love as the wider, the larger, the actualized. For so many of us, like Peter there in Matthew 16, to behold the "glory" of the Son is to see something akin to, flavored with, hell manifest on earth. Wrath manifest on earth. Love-Less-Ness manifest on earth. Not Love. That is where our mind goes on seeing those words “glory” and “judgment” and “power”. Well, Hell on Earth was manifest, there between Genesis 3:16 and John 3:16. The next Age, Season, Time, the one we are in right now, is not that Age. It is some other something. The Age to follow this Age is yet another, more full, something. Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self comes and fulfills that and, then, gives, reveals, manifests yet more. We interpret the New through the lens of the Old, rather than the Old through the lens of the New. Like Peter in Matthew 16.

AJG, like Peter, like myself all too often, cannot get his, our, thinking out of, beyond, past, hell on earth, as Love defines it there in Genesis 3:16. Love defines His Own fragments, the Whole being, well, Him, Love’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum, Man’s fated Image. We prefer instead our own pretend-fragments, our own pretend-definitions, yanked out of the Whole and swollen to madness, as C.S. Lewis commented. All theologies, like all moralities, are without definition but for the Whole that is the Triune Landscape of Immutable Love. We cannot see past hell’s landscape in much of our thinking. We cannot, or will not, see Love's Amalgamation by Seed's Seed there in Timelessness-Time, there in Uncreated-Created, in Love's Glory, Love's Cross, Love's Amalgamation with Man, as predicted in Genesis 3:15 and manifested in Word’s Corporeal, Man-In-God, God-In-Man.

It is interesting. We are given by God various modes of imaging by which to perceive Truths about Him. While He is Unchanging, those varied vectors by which we spy out His curves and contours are, necessarily, ever changing. At least for now. Perhaps forever. Time is an odd thing. Actual and Actualiz-ing are nearly as odd. As He nears us, as we near Him, Love’s E Pluribus Unum becomes the more Actual, and so on. We call the Eternally Sacrificed Self, that Dying that just is part of Love’s Unchanging Motions, “the Son”, and so on. And so He is. Though, we may add this in some nuance: Within Love's necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum, amid and among those Three Perfect Distinct-s, the Great I-AM, we always do find a Self in Sacrifice. We call such "the Son", though, in distances we cannot see to the end of, the Dying God, the Dying Self, can be said to be True also of the Father, of the Son, of the Spirit, ad infinitum, for Love forever shouts out, delights in, that motion of, in, toward Other and not Self, and the Father thus honors the Son, and the Son the Father, and the Spirit the Son, and the Spirit the Father, and the Son the Spirit, ad infinitum. Love forever Pours-Out. Unchangingly. Love forever Fills-Up. Unchangingly. Within Love's necessarily Triune E Pluribus Unum there is, Unchangingly, Love's Eternally Sacrificed Self. We cannot find any nuance of thirst in such Water as that, though we always do find Love’s Dying, Love’s Resurrecting, Love’s Glorifying of Other, Love’s Pouring-Out, not in gesture or jest, but Actually, Love’s Filling-Up, not in gesture or jest, but Actually.

Scriptural interpretation starts and ends with love’s business which just is Love’s first Distinct, the Self, that just is Love’s second Distinct, the Other, and just is that which these necessarily beget, Love’s third Distinct, the singularity of Unity that just is the singular Us, Love’s E Pluribus Unum. When we view scripture, we must view such through the lens of “that” manifesting. The Dying God just is the Loving God, and God just is Love, and thus triune necessarily. The opening pages of that story begins with this: ~~ Let Us make Man in Our Image ~~

To make sense of the passage: Read Matthew 26:57-69, then read Daniel 7. Jesus is alluding to Daniel 7 assuredly, in chapter 26 and most certainly in 16. Coming on the clouds of heaven is not a form of primitive space travel, its apocalyptic imagery.

Peter comments on his experience in II Peter:

"16 For we were not following cleverly devised stories when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty (grandeur, authority of sovereign power).

17 For when He was invested with honor and glory from God the Father and a voice was borne to Him by the [splendid] Majestic Glory [in the bright cloud that overshadowed Him, saying], This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased and delight,

18 We [actually] heard this voice borne out of heaven, for we were together with Him on the holy mountain."

Thanks for that passage scblhrm.

That passage makes it pretty clear that Peter, at least, viewed the Transfiguration as the fulfillment of the prophecy that some would not die before seeing Jesus in His Kingdom.

Naturally, guys like AJG would not be in the least fazed by this. Since they'll just contest the authorship of II Peter claiming that it was written by someone else and just represents an effort to shoehorn in a fulfillment of that prophecy. They'll make the same criticism about Matthew itself too. It's all nonsense of course, but any excuse will serve.

I think there is very little question that my initial assessment of this 'Bible contradiction' as lame is correct. The assessment, BTW, is only strengthened by the additional discussion of it, both those in favor of the Transfiguration fulfillment and those in favor of some other.

The fact that there is more than one plausible interpretation of the passage just shows that it is simply false, spectacularly, mind-numbingly false that the passage "can only be read one way - a way that destroys the dogma that Jesus is anything other than a failed prophet" Indeed, this "only way" of reading the passage isn't even a very good way of reading it (since Matthew pretty deliberately puts the fulfillment in, like, the next verse).

You see, AJG is like a lot of commentators that come and go on this blog. He's full of atheist crackpot theories. So full of them that it is unlikely that he will ever be free of them. Certainly I see no hope of it. Except this: our God is big. So it is still worth praying with hope.

At the same time, there are also some people not quite so lost that read this blog and even these comments. Those people need to see atheist nonsense countered with as much intellectual force as can be mustered. But not in such a way as to grant legitimacy to foolish positions. At least, that's how I see it.

It's either one of the two interpretations listed (I still think mine is correct though). It is not about the "second coming", which is a misnomer anyways. There is no second coming where Jesus raptures up his followers and destroys time and space. Instead, we see in 1 Corinthians 15 that there is a physical resurrection of the dead, when we become like Jesus in his resurrection. Clearly, it is not referring to such an event, otherwise Jesus would not claim it would happen in their lifetime. Likewise the same statement is in Matthew 24, Mark 13, etc. refers to the destruction of the temple quite clearly. So AJG's statement that Jesus predicted he would have a second coming that would destroy space and time within the disciples's lifetime is not true. Likewise, Jesus never claimed that the resurrection would occur in the lifetime of his disciples, either.

........"that is, it wasn’t like a child’s game of “Telephone” (or “Chinese Whispers,” for our European friends)"

Hah, we called it "Whisper Down the Lane" in the USA.

Deep comment, I know :)

AJG wrote: "I am an atheist BECAUSE I was an evangelical Christian for over 30 years."

How are we defining "Christian" here? There are two types. There are those who are in a relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ by the inflling of the Holy Spirit and there are those who aren't. The latter may attend church, read the Bible, etc., for their entire lives, but are Christians in name only.

If the first kind of Christian leaves the church, it is often because they blame God for the tragedies in their lives or are hurt by people in the church or have a sin habit they don't want to give up. These people don't say that God doesn't exist. It would be like saying they stopped believing that their parents existed. Once you've been in a relationship with others, you can't suddenly pretend they aren't real. So they don't say God doesn't exist. They just say they don't like him and the way he does things.

And the reality is that, once you have been born again spiritually, you cannot be "unborn" spiritually any more than you can be "unborn" physically. So those who were Christians in name only and left the church are the ones who say God doesn't exist. They were never filled with the Holy Spirit and never born again.

I find it interesting that many people, when they start to have doubts, read only those writers who feed their doubt and never the writers that feed their faith. This suggests to me that they want to leave and are purposely looking for reasons to justify their leaving. That's their prerogative. But why do they then spend all their time on Christian sites trying to make everybody else believe they're right? Why not just go off and live life without God? Are they so filled with anger and hatred that they have to vent their spleens to the people who love the God they want no part of?

@Mary Lou:

That last question you asked is the reason I believe, in the depth of my heart, that there is some faint ray of hope within those "atheists" that you mention. I think there's a part of them that wants to be proven wrong in their thinking--and they come to sites like this to stir the pot and find some perfectly phrased argument that will make them see the light. Sadly, they don't seem to realize that the place they need to frequent is the foot of the Cross of Christ. That which was and IS profound Truth, profound Love, profound Grace is found THERE; we can but testify to it, talk about it, and marvel over it.

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