John E. Remsberg
[HTML and editing by Cliff Walker, 2000]
The Ministry of Christ
When, and at what age, did Jesus begin his ministry?
Luke: "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" (iii, 1). "Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age" (23).
In the fifteenth year of Tiberius, who began his reign in August, 14 A.D., Jesus, according to Matthew, was at least thirty-three years of age; according to Luke, about twenty-two.
Regarding this subject, Dr. Geikie writes as follows: "The age of Jesus at his entrance on his public work has been variously estimated. Ewald supposes that he was about thirty-four, fixing his birth three years before the death of Herod. Wieseler, on the contrary, believes him to have been in his thirty-first year, setting his birth a few months before Herod's death. Bunsen, Anger, Winer, Schurer, and Renan agree with this. Lichtenstein makes him thirty-two. Hausrath and Keim, on the other hand, think that he began his ministry in the year AD. 34, but they do not give any supposed date for his birth, though if that of Ewald be taken as a medium he must have been forty years old, while, if Wieseler's date be preferred, he would only have been thirty-seven ... Amidst such difference, exactness is impossible" (Life of Christ, Vol. I, pp. 455, 456).
John the Baptist is said to have been the person sent to announce the mission of Christ. Who was John the Baptist?
Jesus: "This is Elias, which was for to come" (Matthew xi, 14).
John: "And they asked him [John], what then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not" (i, 21).
A question of veracity between Jesus and John.
The advent of John was in fulfillment of what prophecy?
Mark: "As it is written in the prophets, Behold I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare the way before thee" (i, 2).
This passage is quoted from Malachi (iii, 1): God threatens to destroy the world, and says (iv, 5), "Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." John expressly declared that he was not Elijah (Elias), and the destruction of the world did not follow his appearance.
What was predicted concerning John?
"He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb" (Luke i, l5).
For the above Luke was indebted to the biographer of Samson. "Both [Samson and John] were to be consecrated to God from the womb, and the same diet was prescribed for both." -- Strauss.
When the conception of John was announced what punishment was inflicted upon Zacharias for his doubt?
Luke: "And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; . And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things be performed" (i, 19, 20).
This was evidently suggested by a passage in Daniel: "And when he [Gabriel] had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb" (x, 15).
Where was John baptizing when he announced his mission to the Jews?
John (New Ver.): "In Bethany beyond Jordan" (i, 28).
Bethany was a suburb of Jerusalem and was not beyond Jordan.
The Authorized Version reads "Bethabara," conceded to be an interpolation, regarding which Geikie says: "The most ancient MSS. read Bethany instead of Bethabara, but no site of that name is now known on the Jordan. Bethabara was introduced into the text by Origen" (Life of Christ, Vol. I, p. 566).
How old was Jesus when John began his ministry?
Luke: "About thirty years of age" (iii, 2, 3, 23).
Matthew: "In those days [when Jesus' parents brought him out of Egypt and settled in Nazareth, he being then about two years of age] came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea" (ii, 19-23; iii, 1).
Matthew, it is claimed, was written only ten or twenty years after Jesus' baptism. If so, the phrase "in those days" clearly implies that he was but a child when John began his ministry. If the phrase was intended to comprehend a period of thirty years this gospel, it must be admitted, was written at least one hundred years after the event described.
Were Jesus and John related?
Luke: They were, their mothers being cousins (i, 36).
Mary had visited the mother of John, and each was acquainted with the character of the other's child. John before his birth is declared to have recognized and acknowledged the divinity of the unborn Jesus (Luke i, 41-44). Yet, according to the Fourth Gospel, at the beginning of Jesus' ministry John said, "I know him not" (i, 33).
When Jesus desired John to baptize him, what did the latter do?
Matthew: "John forbade him saying, I have need to be baptized of thee" (iii, 14).
According to Matthew, John was not only acquainted with Jesus, but cognizant of his divine mission, which cannot be harmonized with his statement in the Fourth Gospel.
Dr. Geikie admits that John and Jesus were strangers to each other. He says: "Though cousins, the Baptist and the Son of Mary had never seen each other" (Life of Christ, Vol. i, p. 389).
This is not only a rejection of Matthew's statement, but a repudiation of the first chapter of Luke, one of the most important chapters of the New Testament; for it is utterly impossible for reason to harmonize these alleged revelations concerning the miraculous conceptions and divine missions of John and Jesus to their parents and the fact that John remained for thirty years in absolute ignorance of Jesus' existence.
What did John say regarding Jesus?
"He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear" (Matthew iii, 11).
"There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloosen (Mark i, 7).
What other testimony did he bear concerning Jesus?
"And of his fulness have all we received" (John i, 16).
This was uttered prior to the beginning of Jesus' ministry, and before he had been baptized with the Holy Ghost. At this time "his fulness" had not been received, and the words are an anachronism.
At Jesus' baptism there came a voice from heaven. To whom were its words addressed?
Matthew: To those who stood by. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (iii, 22).
Luke: To Jesus himself. "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased" (iii, 22).
John heard this voice from heaven; did he believe it?
Matthew: He evidently did not; for he afterwards sent two of his disciples to ascertain if Jesus were the Christ. "Now when John had heard in prison the words of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto him, Art thou he that should come or do we look for another?" (xi, 2, 3).
Do all the Evangelists record Jesus' baptism by John?
They do not. According to the Synoptics, John's baptism of Jesus was the initial act in his ministry, and one of the most important events in his career. But of this baptism the author of the Fourth Gospel knows nothing. In regard to this omission the author of Supernatural Religion says: "According to the Synoptics, Jesus is baptized by John, and as he goes out of the water the Holy Ghost descends upon him like a dove. The Fourth Gospel knows nothing of the baptism, and makes John the Baptist narrate vaguely that he saw the Holy Ghost descend like a dove and rest upon Jesus, as a sign previously indicated to him by God by which to recognize the Lamb of God" (p. 681).
With what did John say Jesus would baptize?
Mark and John: "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost" (Mark i, 8; John i, 33).
Matthew and Luke: "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire" (Matt. iii, 11; Luke iii,16).
How many were baptized by John?
Matthew and Mark: "Jerusalem and all Judea" (Matt. iii, 5; Mark i, 5).
John, if the account in Josephus is to be credited, made some converts; but all the inhabitants of Judea were not baptized by him.
Is John the Baptist a historical character? Aside from the anonymous and apocryphal writings of the church, which appeared in the second century, the only evidence of his existence is a passage in Josephus (Antiquities, B. xviii, ch. v, sec. 2). The language of this passage, while not avowedly Christian like the passage pertaining to Christ, is yet of such a character as to excite suspicion regarding its genuineness. Its position strongly suggests an interpolation. Josephus gives an account of the troubles that arose between Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, and Aretas, king of Arabia Petrea. Herod had married the daughter of Aretas; but becoming infatuated with Herodias, his sister-in-law, he resolved to put her away and marry Herodias. Discovering his intentions his wife obtained permission to visit her father, who when he had been informed of Herod's perfidy, made war upon him and defeated him in battle. Herod appealed to the Emperor Tiberius, who was his friend, and who ordered Vitellius, governor of Syria, to invade the dominions of Aretas and capture or slay him. I quote the concluding portion of section 1 and the opening sentence of section 3 of the chapter containing this history, separating the two with an ellipsis:
"So Herod wrote about these affairs to Tiberius, who, being very angry at the attempt made by Aretas, wrote to Vitellius to make war upon him, and either to take him alive, and bring him in bonds, or to kill him, and send him his head. This was the charge that Tiberius gave to the president of Syria.... So Vitellius prepared to make war with Aretas, having with him two legions of armed men."
It will be readily observed that the two sections are closely connected, the one naturally and logically following the other. Yet between these two closely connected sections, the section containing the account of John the Baptist is inserted.
Who held the office of high priest at the time Jesus began his ministry?
Luke: "Annas and Caiaphas" (iii, 2).
If the writer were to declare that Washington and Monroe were presidents of the United States at the same time it would be no more erroneous than the declaration of Luke that Annas and Caiaphas were high priests at the same time. Two priests never held this office jointly. Caiaphas was high priest at this time, and three others had held the office previous to him and subsequent to Annas. Referring to Pontius Pilate's predecessor, Gratus, who was procurator of Judea from 15 to 26 A.D., Josephus says:
"This man deprived Ananus [Annas] of the high priesthood, and appointed Ishmael, the son of Phabi, to be high priest. He also deprived him in a little time, and ordained Eleazer, the son of Ananus, who had been high priest before, to be high priest; which office, when he had held for a year, Gratus deprived him of it, and gave the high priesthood to Simon, the son of Camithus, and, when he had possessed the dignity no longer than a year, Joseph Caiaphas was made his successor" (Antiquities B. xviii, ch. ii, sec. 2).
Who was tetrarch of Abilene at this time?
Luke: Lysanias (iii, 1).
Lysanias was put to death at the instigation of Cleopatra sixty years before Jesus began his ministry. "She [Cleopatra] hurried Antony on perpetually to deprive others of their dominions, and give them to her; and as she went over Syria with him, she contrived to get it into her possession; so he slew Lysanias" (Josephus, Antiq., B. xv, ch iv, sec. 1).
At the time mentioned by Luke the territory of Abila, or Abilene, was no longer a tetrarchy.
Where was Jesus three days after he began his ministry?
Synoptics: In the wilderness fasting (Matt. iv, 1; Mark i, 9-13; Luke iv, 1).
John: At a wedding in Cana, feasting (ii, 1).
Was he led, or driven by the spirit into the wilderness?
Matthew and Luke: "Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness" (Matt. iv, 1; Luke iv, 1).
Mark: "And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness" (i, 12).
When did the temptation take place?
Mark: During the forty days' fast. "And he was there in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan" (i, 13).
Matthew: After the fast. "And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights ... the tempter came to him" (iv, 2, 3).
During the temptation the devil is said to have set him on the temple. On what part of the temple did he set him?
Matthew and Luke: "On a pinnacle" (Matt. iv, 5; Luke iv, 9).
The indefinite article "a" clearly implies that the temple had several pinnacles, whereas it had but one. After eighteen hundred years the Holy Ghost discovered his mistake and moved the Oxford revisers to substitute "the" for "a."
What did the devil next do?
Matthew: "The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world" (iv, 8). It must have been "an exceedingly high mountain" to have enabled him to see the kingdoms of the opposite hemisphere.
What did the devil propose?
"All these things will I give thee [Jesus], if thou wilt fall down and worship me" (Matthew iv, 9).
If Jesus was the Christ, and Christ was God, as claimed, who owned "these things," he or the devil? Think of a tramp offering you a quitclaim deed to your home for a meal.
Where did the devil take him first, to the temple, or to the mountain?
Matthew: To the temple (iv, 5-8).
Luke: To the mountain (iv, 5-9).
Concerning this discrepancy, Farrar says: "The order of the temptation is given differently by St. Matthew and St. Luke, St. Matthew placing second the scene on the pinnacle of the temple, and St. Luke the vision of the kingdoms of the world. Both orders cannot be right" (Life of Christ, p. 70).
Some of the ablest Christian scholars have refused to accept the Temptation as historical. Farrar says: "From Origen down to Schleiermacher some have regarded it as a vision or allegory -- the symbolic description of a purely inward struggle; and even so literal a commentator as Calvin has embraced this view" (ibid., p. 65).
Had John been cast into prison when Jesus began his ministry?
Matthew: He had.
John: He had not.
Matthew says that immediately after his temptation, and before he began his ministry, "Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison" (iv, 12). Then "he departed into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum" (12, 13). "From that time Jesus began to preach" (17). This was the beginning of his ministry.
According to the Fourth Gospel, Jesus had called his disciples; had traveled over Galilee and Judea; had baptized (iii, 22); had performed miracles (ii, 1-11; 23; iii, 2) had held controversies with the Jews (ii, 18-21; iii, 1-21); had attended the Passover (ii, 13-23); had purged the temple (ii, 13-16); and after all these things "John was not yet cast into prison" (iii, 24).
Name the Twelve Apostles.
John does not name the Twelve Apostles and this important omission is admitted to be a grave defect in the Fourth Gospel.
Relate the circumstances attending the calling of Peter.
Matthew: "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him" (iv, 18-20).
Luke: "He [Jesus] stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake; but the fishermen were gone out of them and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught" (v, 1-4).
"And when they had this done they inclosed a great multitude of fishes" (6).
"And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they [Peter, James and John] had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him" (10, 11).
John: "Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus" (i, 35-37).
"They came and saw where he [Jesus] dwelt, and abode with him that day.... One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias.... And he brought him to Jesus" (40-42).
Here are three accounts of the calling of Peter, each entirely at variance with the others.
In what country were they when Peter was called?
Synoptics: In Galilee.
John (Old Ver.): In Perea (i, 28-42).
Bethabara and the territory beyond Jordan were in Perea.
John (New Ver.): In Judea.
Bethany and all the country surrounding it were in Judea.
Who did Jesus declare Peter to be?
"Thou art Simon the son of Jona" (John i, 42).
"Simon, son of Jonas" (John xxi, 15).
"Thou art Simon the son of John" (John, New Ver., i, 42; xxi, 15).
There is no relation whatever between "Jona," or "Jonas," and "John." Jona (Jonah), or Jonas, means a dove; John means the grace of God.
Jesus gave Simon (Peter) the name of Cephas. What meaning did he attach to the word Cephas?
"Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone" (John i, 42).
"Thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter)" (ibid., New Ver.).
Here Jesus is represented as interpreting the meaning of an Aramaic word, with which his hearers were familiar, by the use of a Greek word of whose meaning they were ignorant, the incongruity of which must be apparent to every reader.
When were James and John called?
Matthew: After Peter was called.
After giving an account of the calling of Peter and Andrew, Matthew says: "And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets: and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him" (iv, 21, 22).
Luke: At the time that Peter was called.
Luke states that James and John were partners of Peter, and with him on the lake, in another boat, when the miraculous draught of fishes was made, that both boats were filled with the fish, "And when they [Peter, James and John] had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him" (v, 1-11).
Where was Jesus when he called Peter, James and John?
Matthew: "Walking by the sea of Galilee" (iv, 18-21).
Luke: On the lake in a ship (v, 1-11).
In regard to Matthew's and Luke's accounts of the calling of Peter, James and John, Strauss says: "Neither will bear the other to precede, or to follow it -- in short, they exclude each other" (Leben Jesu, p. 337).
Was Andrew called when Peter was called?
Matthew and Mark: He was (Matt. iv, 18-20; Mark i, 16-18).
According to Luke, Andrew was not called when Peter was called, but after he was called. According to John (i, 35-42) Andrew was the first to follow Jesus.
Who was called from the receipt of custom?
Matthew: "A man named Matthew" (ix, 9).
Luke: "A publican named Levi" (v, 27).
Orthodox scholars claim that Matthew and Levi are the same person. Dr. Hooykaas does not believe that they are the same, and does not believe that any one of the Apostles was called from the receipt of custom. He says: "It is in reality very unlikely that Levi and Matthew are the same man, or that one of the Twelve was a tax-gatherer" (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 201).
Who was the mother of James the Less and Joses?
In the earlier parts of their narratives, Matthew (xiii, 55) and Mark (vi, 3) declare them to be sons of the Virgin Mary and brothers of Jesus. Paul (Gal. i, 19) affirms that James was the brother of Jesus. Later Matthew (xxvii, 56) and Mark (xv, 40) state that James and Joses were sons of Mary, the sister of the Virgin.
Who was their father?
If they were sons of the Virgin Mary, Joseph must have been their father. But Matthew (x, 3) and Mark (iii, 18) state that James the Less was "the son of Alpheus." According to John (compare John xix, 25 with Matthew xxvii, 56) Cleophas was their father.
Referring to this and the preceding discrepancy, Smith's Bible Dictionary says: "This is one of the most difficult questions in the Gospel history."
Were Matthew and James the Less brothers?
It is not admitted that they were. Yet it is claimed that Matthew and Levi were the same; Mark (ii, 14) declares that Levi was "the son of Alpheus"; while both Matthew and Mark (Matt. x, 3; Mark iii, 18) declare that James was "the son of Alpheus."
To what city did John belong, and where was it located?
John: "Bethsaida of Galilee" (xii, 21).
John states that Peter was a resident of Bethsaida (i, 44), and as John and Peter were partners (Luke v, 10), they must have belonged to the same city. But Bethsaida was not in Galilee, but in Gaulonitis. Hence if John wrote the Gospel ascribed to him, he did not know the location of his own city.
It is remarkable with what ease theologians harmonize the most discordant statements. In this case the only thing required was, in drawing the map of Palestine, to make two dots instead of one and write the word Bethsaida twice.
Who was the tenth apostle?
Mark: Thaddeus (iii, 18).
Matthew: "Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus" (x, 3).
In the earlier manuscripts of Matthew, the words, "whose surname was Thaddeus," are not to be found. Subsequent transcribers added them to reconcile his Gospel with Mark.
How many of the apostles bore the name of Judas?
Matthew and Mark: But one (Matt. x, 1-4; Mark iii, 14-19).
Luke: Two (vi, 16).
One of these was Judas Iscariot. Who was the other?
Luke (Old Ver.): "The brother of James" (vi, 16).
Luke (New Ver.): "The son of James."
Name the chief apostles.
Synoptics: Peter, James and John.
John: Peter and John.
In the Synoptics, Peter, James and John constitute an inner circle or group who are with their master on every important occasion. In John this group is limited to Peter and John.
Who was Jesus's favorite apostle?
From the Synoptics the conclusion is inevitable that if there was one disciple whom Jesus esteemed higher than the others it was Peter whom he is declared to have chosen for the head of his church. John, on the other hand, assuming that he wrote the Fourth Gospel, as claimed, takes frequent occasion to impress us with the idea that he was the bright particular star in the Apostolic galaxy. Four times (xiii, 23; xix, 26; xx, 2; xxi, 20) he declares himself to be "the disciple whom Jesus loved."
If John wrote the Fourth Gospel this self-glorification proves him to have been a despicable egotist; if he did not write it the book is a forgery. The first assumption, if correct, impairs its credibility; the latter destroys its authenticity.
Is the Apostle James mentioned in John?
He is not. This omission is the more remarkable when we remember that James was not only one of the chief apostles, but the brother of John.
Respecting this omission, Strauss says: "Is it at all probable that the real John would so unbecomingly neglect the well-founded claims of his brother James to special notice? and is not such an omission rather indicative of a late Hellenistic author, who scarcely had heard the name of the brother so early martyred?" (Leben Jesu, p. 353.)
What other disciples besides the Twelve did Jesus send out?
Luke: "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come" (x, l).
In not one of the other twenty-six books of the New Testament is this important feature of Christ's ministry mentioned. The seventy elders of Moses doubtless suggested it. "And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spoke unto him [Moses], and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders" (Num. xi, 25).
Seventy was a sacred number with the Jews and is of frequent occurrence in their writings. "And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls" (Ex. i, 5). Abimelech had "seventy brethren" (Jud. ix, 56). "Ahab had seventy sons" (2 K. x. l). Isaiah prophesied that "Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years" (xxiii, 15). Jeremiah prophesied that the Jews were to "serve the king of Babylon seventy years" (xxv, 11). In Ezekiel's vision there stood before the idols of Israel "seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel" (viii, 11). In Daniel's vision "seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon the holy city [Jerusalem]" (ix, 24).
What charge did Jesus make to his disciples?
"Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not" (Matt. x, 5).
"Then cometh he [with his disciples] to a city of Samaria" (John iv, 5). "And he abode there two days" (40).
Did Jesus have a habitation of his own?
Matthew: "And leaving Nazareth he came and dwelt in Capernaum" (iv, 13).
Mark: "Jesus sat at meat in his [Jesus'] house" (ii, 15).
Luke: "And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" (ix, 58).
His residence in Capernaum was in fulfillment of what prophecy?
Matthew: "The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthali, by way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death is light sprung up" (iv, 15, 16).
The "prophecy" which Matthew pretends to quote is in Isaiah (ix, 1-2), and reads as follows: "Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict her by way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."
Matthew both misquotes and misapplies this passage. He eliminates the facts and alters the language to make a Messianic prophecy. The words were not intended as a prophecy. The events mentioned by Isaiah had occurred when he wrote. The "great light," which they had already seen, referred to his own work in destroying witchcraft and idolatry.
Were Zebulon and Nephthali situated "beyond Jordan," as stated?
They were not. "Beyond Jordan" means east of the Jordan, which formed the eastern boundary of Palestine. Zebulon and Nephthali were both situated west of the Jordan.
Were Peter, Andrew, James and John with Jesus when he taught in the synagogue at Capernaum?
Mark: They were (i, 16-21).
Luke: They were not; for they had not yet been called (iv, 31; v, 1-11).
Did Jesus perform many miracles in Galilee at the beginning of his ministry?
Matthew: "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them" (iv, 23, 24).
Mark: "He healed many that were sick with divers diseases, and cast out many devils" (i, 34).
Luke: "All they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. And devils also came out of many" (iv, 40, 41).
John declares that his curing the nobleman's son (iv, 46-54), which was not until the second mission in Galilee, was the second miracle he performed there, his miracle at Cana being the only one he performed during the first period of his ministry. According to this Evangelist (iv, 45) all the notoriety he had at this time in Galilee, had been achieved, not by any miracles he had performed in that country, but through the reports of some Galileans who had seen his works at Jerusalem in Judea.
In regard to these conflicting statements of the Evangelists, Farrar says: "At this point we are again met by difficulties in the chronology, which are not only serious, but to the certain solution of which there appears to be no clew" (Life of Christ, p. 124).
Did he perform any miracles before he called his disciples?
Luke: He did (iv, 40, 41; v, 1-11).
John: "And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage [at Cana, where he turned the water into wine].... This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana" (ii, 1-11).
Luke declares that he had performed many miracles before the first disciples were called; John declares that his disciples had been called and were with him when he performed his first miracle.
When was the miraculous draught of fishes made?
Luke: At the beginning of his ministry (v, 6).
John: Not until after his death and resurrection (xxi, 11).
What accident was caused by the enormous draught of fishes?
Luke: "Their net brake" (v, 6).
John: "For all there were so many, yet was not the net broken" (xxi, 11).
In Luke and John we have two different versions of a Pythagorean legend. After comparing and noting the agreements and variations of the three versions of the legend, Strauss says:
"If there be a mind that, not perceiving in the narratives we have compared the fingermarks of tradition, and hence the legendary character of these evangelical anecdotes, still leans to the historical interpretation, whether natural or supernatural; that mind must be alike ignorant of the true character both of legend and of history, of the natural and the supernatural" (Leben Jesu, p. 339).
How long did the Jews say it took to build the temple?
"Forty and six years was this temple in building" (John ii, 20).
One year and six months was this temple in building.
Josephus (B. xv, ch. xi) gives a full account of the building of the temple. Of its commencement, he says: "And now Herod, in the eighteenth year of his reign, and after the acts already mentioned, undertook a very great work -- that is, to build of himself the temple of God" (sec. 1). Concerning its completion, he says: "But the temple itself was built by the priests in a year and six months -- upon which all the people were full of joy, and presently they returned thanks, in the first place, to God; and in the next place, for the alacrity the king had shown. They feasted and celebrated this rebuilding of the temple" (sec. 6).
The building of the temple was begun in 19 B.C.; it was finished and dedicated in 17 B.C.
Where did Jesus deliver his so called Sermon on the Mount?
Matthew: "He went up into a mountain" (v, 1).
Luke: "He came down with them, and stood in the plain" (vi, 17).
Both Matthew and Luke represent him as being on a mountain; but while Matthew has him go up into the mountain to deliver his sermon, Luke has him come down out of the mountain to deliver it.
In regard to this discrepancy, the Dutch theologian, Dr. Hooykaas, says: "The Evangelist [Matthew] had a special motive for fixing upon a mountain for this purpose. He intended to represent Jesus laying down the fundamental laws of the kingdom of heaven as the counterpart of Moses who promulgated the constitution of the Old Covenant from Mount Sinai. Luke, on the other hand, not wishing Jesus to be regarded as a second Moses, or another lawgiver, just as deliberately makes the Master deliver this discourse on a plain" (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 141, 142).
Did he deliver his sermon sitting or standing?
Matthew: "He was set" (v, 1).
Luke: He "stood" (vi, 17).
Repeat the Beatitudes which are common to both Evangelists.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew v, 3).
"Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke vi, 20).
"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" (Matthew).
"Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh" (Luke).
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matthew).
"Blessed are ye which hunger now for ye shall be filled" (Luke).
"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake" (Matthew).
"Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil for the Son of man's sake" (Luke).
"Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matthew).
"Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets" (Luke).
The agreements between the two versions of this sermon, of which the foregoing are a part, are ample to prove them to be reports of the same discourse; while the variations are certainly sufficient to disprove the infallibility of the evangelistic reporters.
Whether it be historical or fabricated -- whether Jesus delivered the sermon or not -- Matthew and Luke have given merely different versions of the same composition. The exordiums are the same; the perorations are the same -- both end with the illustration of the men, one of whom built his house on a frail, the other on a firm foundation; the doctrines enunciated are substantially the same; while the words in which they are clothed proclaim a common origin. Matthew's version is longer than Luke's; either Matthew has added to, or Luke has taken from the original report of the sermon.
Repeat the Golden Rule.
"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them for this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew vii, 12; Luke vi, 31).
Seventy years before Christ, Hillel the Jewish rabbi said:
"Do not to others what you would not have them do to you. This is the substance of the law."
Rabbi Hirsch says: '"Before Jesus, the Golden Rule was one of the household sayings of Israel"
Repeat the Lord's Prayer.
According to Matthew
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen" (vi, 9-13).
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."
According to Luke.
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation: but deliver us from evil" (xi, 2-4).
"Father, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation."
The commonly accepted version of the Lord's Prayer is the Authorized Version of Matthew. This version is admitted to be grossly inaccurate. It contains sixty-six words. The Revised Version of Matthew contains but fifty-five. Twenty-four words either do not belong to the prayer, or have been misplaced; while words which do belong to it have been omitted. If the custodians of the Christian Scriptures have permitted the prayer of their Lord to be corrupted to this extent, what reliance can be placed upon the genuineness of the remainder of these writings?
The Lord's Prayer, like so many more of the precepts and discourses ascribed to Jesus, is borrowed. Dr. Hardwicke, of England, says: "The so-called 'Lord's Prayer' was learned by the Messiah as the 'Kadish' from the Talmud." The Kadish, as translated by a Christian scholar, Rev. John Gregorie, is as follows:
"Our Father which art in heaven, be gracious to us, O Lord, our God; hallowed be thy name, and let the remembrance of thee be glorified in heaven above and in the earth here below. Let thy kingdom reign over us now and forever. The holy men of old said, Remit and forgive unto all men whatsoever they have done against me. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil thing. For thine is the kingdom, and thou shalt reign in glory for ever and for evermore."
The eminent Swiss theologian, Dr. Wetstein, says: "It is a curious fact that the Lord's Prayer may be constructed almost verbatim out of the Talmud."
The Sermon on the Mount is derived largely from the teachings of the Essenes, a Jewish sect to which Jesus is believed by many to have belonged.
When and where was the Lord's Prayer delivered?
Matthew: During his Sermon on the Mount, before the multitude.
Luke: At a later period, before the disciples alone (xi, l).
Was the Sermon on the Mount delivered before Matthew (Levi in Mark and Luke) was called from the receipt of custom?
Matthew: It was (v, 7; ix, 9).
Luke: It was not (v, 27; vi, 20).
When did Jesus cleanse the leper?
Matthew: After the Sermon on the Mount (v, l; viii, 1-4).
Luke: Before the Sermon on the Mount (v, 12-14; vi, 20-49).
When did he cure Peter's mother-in-law?
Matthew: After he cleansed the leper (viii, 2, 3; 14, 15).
Mark and Luke: Before he cleansed the leper (Mark i, 29-31; 4 42; Luke iv, 38, 39; v, 12, 13).
Was this before or after Peter was called to the ministry?
Luke: Before (iv, 38, 39; v, 10).
Matthew and Mark: After (Matt. iv, 18, 19; viii, 14, 15; Mark i, 16, 17; 30, 31).
Were James and John with Jesus when he performed this cure?
Mark: They were (i, 29).
Luke: They were not. They had not yet been called (iv. 38, 39; v, 10, 11).
When was the centurion's servant healed?
Matthew: Between the cleansing of the leper and the curing of Peter's mother-in-law (viii. 2-14).
Luke: Not until after both these cures had been performed (iv, 38, 39; v, 12, 13; vii, l-10).
Who came for Jesus?
Matthew: The centurion came himself (viii, 5).
Luke: The centurion did not come himself, but sent the Jewish elders for him (vii, 2-4).
Where was he when he performed this miracle?
Matthew and Luke: In Capernaum (Matt. viii, 5; Luke vii, l).
John: In Cana (iv, 46).
According to Matthew and Luke, Jesus was in Capernaum while the patient lived elsewhere; according to John, Jesus was in Cana while the patient lived in Capernaum. John says he was a nobleman's son, but all critics (as well as the Archbishop of York, in his Harmony of the Gospels) agree that he refers to the same miracle.
When did he still the tempest?
Matthew: Before Matthew was called from the receipt of custom (viii, 23-27; ix, 9).
Mark: After Matthew (Levi) was called (ii, 14; iv, 35-41).
When did he cast out the devils that entered into the herd of swine?
Matthew: Before Matthew was called to the ministry (viii, 28, 33; ix, 9).
Mark and Luke: Not until after he was called (Mark ii, 14; v, 1-13; Luke v, 27; viii, 26-33).
How many were possessed with devils?
Matthew: "There met him two possessed with devils coming out of the tombs" (viii, 28).
Mark and Luke: "There met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit" (Mark v, 2; Luke viii, 27).
When asked his name what did the demoniac answer?
"My name is Legion" (Mark v, 9).
Concerning this the Rev. Dr. Giles says: "The Four Gospels are written in Greek, and the word 'legion' is Latin; but in Galilee and Perea the people spoke neither Latin nor Greek, but Hebrew, or a dialect of it. The word 'legion' would be perfectly unintelligible to the disciples of Christ, and to almost everybody in the country" (Christian Records, p. 197).
How many swine were there?
Mark: "They were about two thousand" (v, 13).
If each hog received a devil there must have been two thousand devils. Legion must have been a very large man, or they were very little devils.
Where did this occur?
Matthew: In "the country of the Gergesenes" (viii, 28).
Mark and Luke: In "the country of the Gadarenes" (Mark v, 1; Luke viii, 26).
It is generally conceded by orthodox critics that it occurred neither in the country of the Gergesenes nor in the country of the Gadarenes, but in the country of the Gerasenes. It could not have occurred in the country of the Gadarenes because it is said to have occurred on the sea shore and Gadara was situated several miles from the sea.
Voltaire says the story is disproved by the fact that the event is alleged to have taken place in a country where no swine were kept.
Do the Evangelists all agree in regard to the expulsion of demons by Jesus?
The Synoptics abound with these miracles: Matthew viii, 28-34; ix, 32-34; xv, 22-28; xvii, 14-21; Mark i, 21-28; v, 1-20; vii, 24-30; ix, 20-29; Luke iv, 31-37; viii, 26 39; ix, 37-42. John never mentions them.
What great miracle did Jesus perform at Nain?
Luke: "Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother" (vii, 12-15).
The other Evangelists were certainly ignorant of this miracle; for if they had known of it they could not have omitted it, as it is the most important miracle related by a Synoptist, and, with one exception, the most important of all Christ's miracles.
A miracle almost identical with this is related of Apollonius. Referring to the two, Baur says: "As according to Luke, it was a young man, the only son of a widow, who was being carried out of the city; so, in Philostratus, it is a young maiden already betrothed, whose bier Apollonius meets. The command to set down the bier, the mere touch, and a few words, are sufficient here, as there, to bring the dead to life" (Apollonius of Tyana and Christ, p. 145).
In their accounts of his curing the paralytic what parenthetical clause is to be found in each of the Synoptics?
"(Then saith he to the sick of the palsy)" (Matthew ix, 6; Mark ii, 10; Luke v, 24).
As the clause is superfluous, this agreement, instead of furnishing proof of divine inspiration, tends to prove what has already been affirmed, that these books are not original, but copied, for the most part, from older documents.
What effect had the teachings of Jesus upon the people?
Matthew: "They were astonished at his doctrine" (xxii, 33).
Mark: "They were astonished at his doctrine" a 22).
Luke: "They were astonished at his doctrine" (iv, 32).
What did he say to the people in regard to letting their light shine?
"No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candle stick" (Luke, Old Ver., xi, 33).
"No man, when he hath lighted a lamp, putteth it in a cellar, neither under the bushel, but on the stand" (New Ver.).
What did he say concerning the way that leads to life?
"Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life" (Matthew, Old Ver., vii, 14).
"Narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life" (New Ver.).
The Old Version has a strait gate and a narrow way; the New Version a narrow gate and a strait way.
Quote the words which relate the calling of Peter.
John: "He [Andrew] first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is being interpreted the Christ.
"And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone" (i, 41, 42).
The last clause of each is an interpolation.
Where was John baptizing when Jesus and his disciples came into Judea?
John: "In Aenon near to Salim" (iii, 22, 23).
This is declared by nearly all critics to be a geographical error. No place corresponding to this existed in Judea.
What city of Samaria did Jesus visit?
John: "Then cometh he to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar" (iv, 5).
Samaria contained no city of this name. Bible commentators believe that Shechem is intended.
What did his disciples say to him when about to leave Bethany?
"Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee" (John xi, 8).
The disciples were themselves Jews, and the above is not the language of a Jew speaking of his own people, but of a foreigner.
Where was he when he dined with publicans and sinners?
Mark: At his own house. "As Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples" (ii, 15).
Luke: At the house of Levi. "And Levi made him a great feast in his own house; and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them" (v, 29).
What did the Pharisees say to his disciples, because they, with Jesus, dined with publicans and sinners?
"Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?" (Luke v, 30.)
"Why eateth your master with publicans and sinners?" (Matthew ix, 11.)
Who inquired of Jesus the reason for his disciples not fasting?
Matthew: "Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?" (ix, 14.)
Luke: "And they [the scribes and Pharisees] said unto him, why do the disciples of John fast often,...and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?" (v, 33.)
What did he say when reproved for plucking the ears of corn on the Sabbath?
"Have ye never read what David did?...How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar, the high priest, and did eat the shew bread?" (Mark ii, 25, 26.)
David did not do this "in the days of Abiathar," but in the days of Ahimelech. "Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest.... So the priest gave him hallowed bread; for there was no bread there but the shew bread" (1 Sam. xxi, 1, 6).
What did he claim regarding Moses?
"He [Moses] wrote of me" (John v, 46).
The passage referred to is quoted in Acts iii, 22, and may be found in Deuteronomy xviii, 15. It alludes to Joshua, the successor of Moses. "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken."
Had Jesus been omniscient he would have known that Moses did not write this; that it was not written until nearly 800 years after the time of Moses.
Jesus is credited with having raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead. Was she really dead?
Matthew: Jairus said, "My daughter is even now dead" (ix, 18).
Mark: He said, "My little daughter lieth at the point of death" (v, 23).
Luke: It was reported that "she lay a dying" (viii, 42).
According to Matthew, in this miracle he restored the dead to life; according to Mark and Luke, he merely healed the sick.
Who of Christ's disciples witnessed the raising of Jairus's daughter?
Mark and Luke: Peter, James and John (Mark v, 37-40, Luke viii, 51).
John, who alone of his alleged biographers is said to have witnessed this miracle, is the only one who fails to mention it.
"A proper witness is silent, while an improper witness testifies." -- Bishop Faustus.
What did Jesus say when sending out his Twelve Apostles?
"He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me" (Matthew x, 40; Luke x, 16).
According to John (xiii, 20) these words were uttered not at the beginning of his ministry as stated by Matthew and Luke, but at the Last Supper, regarding which Supernatural Religion says: "It is clear that its insertion here is a mistake."
What command did he give them respecting the provision of staves?
Matthew and Luke: They were not to provide themselves with staves. "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves" (Matt. x, 9, 10; Luke ix, 3).
Mark: "Commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only" (vi, 8).
When the Samaritans refused to receive him what was said?
Luke: "And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them even as Elias did?
"But he turned and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
"For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village" (ix, 54-56).
It is conceded by the best Christian scholars that the words "as Elias did" and all that follow, excepting "he turned and rebuked them," are spurious.
What did Jesus say to the multitude concerning John the Baptist?
"From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence" (Matthew xi, 12).
The words, "from the days of John the Baptist until now," signify that a long period of time had elapsed since the days of John. Yet, on the very day that Jesus is said to have uttered them, he received a visit from the disciples of John, who was still living (Matthew xi, 2, 3).
Whose rejection of him provoked the declaration, "A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country"?
Matthew: "And when he came into his own country [Galilee], he taught them in their synagogue,...and they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country" (xiii, 54-57).
John: "He departed thence, the had come from Judea and Samaria] and went into Galilee. For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honor in his own country. Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galileans received him" (iv, 43-45).
According to Matthew, he was without honor in Galilee; according to John, he went to Galilee because he was without honor in Judea. According to Matthew the Galileans rejected him; according to John "the Galileans received him." According to Matthew, Galilee was "his own country"; according to John, Judea was "his own country."
Regarding these contradictory statements, Scott, in his English Life of Jesus (p. 114), says: "The Synoptists in every case give a special reason for his leaving Galilee, while the fourth gospel is equally careful in specifying the reason for his leaving Jerusalem. According to the former, Jesus would not have left Galilee if he could have avoided it; according to the latter, he would have remained at Jerusalem if he could have done so with safety. The inconsistency is glaring."
When he came into his own country and taught in the synagogue what did the people say?
Mark: "Is not this the carpenter?" (vi, 3.)
Matthew: "Is not this the carpenter's son?" (xiii, 55.)
When Herod heard of his wonderful works, what did he say?
"This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead" (Matthew xiv, 2).
Here, early in Christ's ministry, the tetrarch of Galilee is represented as entertaining the Christian doctrine of a bodily resurrection.
When and for what reason was John beheaded?
Matthew and Mark: "But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias [Salome] danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. And the king was sorry nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother" (Matt. xiv, 6-11; Mark vi, 21-28).
This account of the death of John is utterly at variance with that given in Josephus. This historian, assuming the passage relating to John to be genuine, says:
"Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise rebellion (for they seemed to do anything he should advise), thought it best by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death" (Antiquities, B. xviii, ch. v, sec. 2).
Macherus, where Josephus states that John was executed, was a place far removed from Herod's capital -- was outside of his dominions -- in Arabia Petrea.
Referring to the Evangelistic account of John's death, Dr. Hooykaas says: "This eminently dramatic story certainly cannot be accepted as it stands. It betrays too much art in its striking contrasts between the manners of the court and the person of the prophet. We have already seen that the occasion of John's imprisonment is not correctly given by the Gospels. That such a man as Herod 'delighted in hearing' John is, to say the least, an exaggeration. The ghastly scene in which the prophet's head is carried into the festive hall may not be quite impossible in such an age and at such a court, but it is hardly probable. It is easy to see that Herodias is drawn after the model of Ahab's wife, who hated and persecuted the first Elijah; and Salome is evidently copied from Esther, for she, too, visits the prince by surprise, captivates him by her beauty, obtains a promise of anything up to the half of his kingdom, and at the festive board demands the death of her enemy as the royal boon" (Bible for Learners, Vol. III, p. 272).
Who was Herodias?
Synoptics: "His [Herod's] brother Philip's wife" (Matt. xiv, 3; Mark vi, 17; Luke iii, 19).
Herodias was a granddaughter of Herod the Great, and married her uncle Herod, the disinherited son of Herod the Great. She subsequently married Antipas, the Herod who is said to have put John to death. Herod's brother Philip (Tetrarch of Trachonitis and Gaulonitis) was not the son of Marianne, as the first husband of Herodias was, but the son of Cleopatra. Philip's wife was Salome, the daughter of Herodias. The daughter of Herodias, instead of being a damsel dancing at the court of Herod, as the Synoptics declare, was at this time the wife of an aged ruler of a foreign province. According to Whiston, she became a widow in the very year in which John died. Herodias was not the wife, but the mother-in-law of Herod's brother Philip. Whiston, in his translation of Josephus, attempts to gloss over the Synoptics' error by inserting in brackets after Herod the word "Philip." Scribners' Bible Dictionary concedes the error and accounts for it "By supposing that there is a confusion between the first husband and the son-in-law of Herodias, for her daughter Salome married Philip the tetrarch."
What is said of the numbers baptized by Jesus and his disciples as compared with those baptized by John?
John: "The Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John. (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples.)" (iv, 1, 2.)
Matthew (iii, 5) and Mark (1, 5) declare that John had baptized "Jerusalem and all Judea" It is admitted, both in the New Testament and by Christians, that Jesus made but few converts during his lifetime, and to assert or intimate that he and his disciples baptized more than John is preposterous.
Who furnished the loaves and fishes with which the multitude in the desert was fed?
Synoptics: The disciples (Matt. xiv, 15-17; Mark vi, 35-38; Luke ix, 12, l3).
John: "A lad" (vi, 9).
How many were fed?
Mark: "And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men" (vi, 44).
Matthew: "And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children" (xiv, 21).
Where did this miracle occur?
Luke: "In a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida" (ix, 10).
Mark says that after the miracle, "He constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida" (vi, 45).
If the miracle was performed in a place belonging to the city of Bethsaida, as stated by Luke, they did not cross the sea to reach Bethsaida, as stated by Mark.
After feeding the five thousand what did Jesus do?
Matthew and Mark: "He sent the multitudes away" (Matt. xiv, 22; Mark vi, 45).
John: He did not send the multitude away, but withdrew himself into a mountain (vi, l5).
For what purpose did he go to the mountain?
Matthew and Mark: "And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain, apart to pray" (Matt. xiv, 23; Mark vi, 46).
John: "When Jesus therefore perceived that they [the multitude] would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain alone" (vi, 15).
Matthew and Mark say nothing about the attempt to make him king; John says nothing about his praying.
Were his disciples with him?
Matthew and Mark: "And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitude away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray, and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea" (Matt. xiv, 22-24; Mark vi, 45-47).
Luke: "And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him" (ix, 18).
Matthew and Mark send his disciples ahead in a ship to make room for his miracle of walking on the sea, a miracle that Luke knows nothing of.
To what port did he command his disciples to sail?
Mark: "Unto Bethsaida" (vi, 45).
Pursuant to this command toward what place did they steer?
John: "Toward Capernaum" (vi, 17).
Where did this bring them?
Matthew: "Into the land of Gennesaret" (xiv, 34).
Jesus himself is said to have followed them on foot. Where did he overtake them?
Matthew and Mark: "In the midst of the sea" (Matt. xiv, 24-26; Mark vi, 47, 48).
John: As they were nearing the land (vi, 19-21).
According to John, he walked entirely across the sea; according to Matthew and Mark, but half way across.
Christ's walking on the sea was probably suggested by Job (ix, 8), who says God "treadeth upon the waves of the sea," or, according to the Septuagint, "walking upon the sea as upon a pavement."
What remarkable feat was attempted on the trip?
Matthew: "And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. And when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him" (Matt. xiv, 29-31).
Mark and John, who relate with much particularity the events of this voyage, do not mention Peter's adventure.
"Probably they had good reason for omitting it. A profane mind might make a jest of an apostle 'half seas over,' and ridicule an apostolic gate-keeper who couldn't keep his head above water." -- Bradlaugh.
What did the Jews say to Jesus respecting his Messianic mission?
"Search and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet" (John vii, 52).
Search and look; for out of Galilee arose some of their greatest prophets, Jonah, Hosea, Nahum and Elijah. It may be urged that it is the Jews who give expression to the error, but it is plain the Evangelist accepts the statement as true.
What notable incident occurred at Jerusalem?
John: The release by Jesus of the woman taken in adultery (vii, 53, viii, 1-11).
This is popularly regarded as one of the most admirable acts in Christ's ministry. In the New Version the twelve verses relating it are declared by the Oxford revisers to be an interpolation.
In the miracle of restoring the sight of the man born blind, what did he tell the man to do?
"Go wash in the pool of Siloam" (John ix, 7).
"The Lord sent the blind man to wash, not in, as our version has it, but at the pool of Siloam; for it was the clay from his eyes that was to be washed off." -- Smith's Bible Dictionary.
What is the meaning of the word "Siloam"?
John: "Which is by interpretation, 'Sent'"(ix, 7).
Which is not by interpretation "sent," but "aqueduct."
Who provoked the displeasure of the Pharisees by eating with unwashed hands?
Matthew and Mark: The disciples of Jesus (Matt. xv, 1, 2; Mark vii, 1, 2).
Luke: Jesus himself (xi, 37, 38).
Of what nationality was the woman who desired Jesus to cast the devil out of her daughter?
Matthew: "A woman of Canaan" (xv, 22).
Mark: "The woman was a Greek" (vii, 26)
What did his disciples say when he expressed his intention of feeding the four thousand?
Mark: "And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the-wilderness? And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven" (viii, 4, 5).
Why should they be surprised at his intention of feeding four thousand with seven loaves when but a few weeks before he had fed five thousand with five loaves?
In regard to this miracle Rev. William Sanday, of England, author of "Jesus Christ," the most important article in Scribners' Bible Dictionary, says: "Are the two Feedings of Mark to be regarded as two events or one? Besides the general resemblance between the two narratives, a weighty argument in favor of the latter hypothesis is, that in the second narrative the disciples' question implies that the emergency was something new. They could hardly have put this question as they did if a similar event had happened only a few weeks before." This is also the opinion of Dr. Schleiermacher.
After feeding the four thousand where did he come?
Matthew (Old Ver.): "Came into the coasts of Magdala" (xv, 39).
Matthew (New Ver.): "Came into the borders of Magadan."
Where does Mark say he came?
"Came into the parts of Dalmanutha" (viii, l0).
Criticizing this statement, the Bible for Learners says: "Mark makes him journey still farther north, through the district of Sidon, and then turn southeast to the lake of Galilee, pass some way down its eastern shore apparently, and finally take ship and cross in a southwesterly direction to Dalmanutha, where we meet him once again. But the Evangelist's geography is open to suspicion, and we are inclined to lay these apparently purposeless wanderings of Jesus to the account of Mark's want of accuracy" (Vol. III, p. 282).
What did he say to the Pharisees who asked for a sign?
"There shall no sign be given unto this generation" (Mark viii, 12).
"There shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas" (Matthew xvi, 4).
On the way to Caesarea Philippi what remarkable discovery was made by Peter?
Matthew: "He [Jesus] asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (xvi, 13-17).
According to Matthew Jesus is astonished at the discovery of Peter and attributes it to a revelation from Heaven. Yet previous to this, and in the presence of Peter, according to the same writer, the other disciples had declared him to be "the Son of God" (Matthew xiv, 33).
The Synoptics all declare that the Messiahship of Jesus was not revealed to his disciples until late in his ministry. Is this true?
John: It is not. It was known to them at the beginning of his ministry. Before Peter was called Andrew said, "We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ" (i, 41). On the following day Nathanael said to Jesus, "Thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel" (49).
When did the Transfiguration take place?
Matthew and Mark: Six days after the discourse in which he announced his second coming (Matt xvii, 1; Mark ix, 2).
Luke: "About eight days after these sayings" (ix, 28).
Was the countenance of Jesus changed?
Matthew and Luke: It was. "And his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light" (Matt. xvii, 2). "The fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistening" (Luke ix, 29).
Mark: The appearance of his raiment only was changed. "And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow" (ix, 3).
When did Peter propose building the three tabernacles to Jesus, Moses and Elias?
Matthew and Mark: While Moses and Elias were yet with them (Matt. xvii, 3, 4; Mark ix, 4-8).
Luke: After they had departed (ix, 33).
What did the voice from the clouds declare?
Mark and Luke: "This is my beloved Son; hear ye him" (Mark ix, 7; Luke ix, 35).
Matthew: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him" (xvii, 5).
Luke's account of the Transfiguration differs in many respects from that of Matthew and Mark. Luke says that Jesus went up into the mountain to pray, Matthew and Mark make no mention of this. Luke says the disciples were asleep when Moses and Elias appeared. According to Matthew and Mark they were awake. Luke says that Moses and Elias "spake of his decease." Matthew and Mark do not know what they talked about.
Who witnessed the Transfiguration?
Synoptics: Peter, James and John (Matt. xvii, 1; Mark ix, 2; Luke ix, 28).
It is remarkable that Matthew, Mark and Luke, who did not witness the Transfiguration, are the only ones to report it; while John, who is declared to have witnessed it, knows nothing about it. Concerning this and other events which John is said to have witnessed, Greg says: "All the events said to have been witnessed by John alone are omitted by John alone. This fact seems fatal either to the reality of the events in question or to the genuineness of the Fourth Gospel."
Regarding this subject Scott says: "By some singular fatality the writer of the fourth gospel seems incapable of describing any one incident in the life of Jesus as the Synoptics have described it.... It is hard to believe that we are reading narratives which profess to relate the life of the same person.... If then in these particulars, the Synoptic Gospels are correct, the Johannine version of the events is pure fiction; and if the latter be taken as the true account, no dependence whatever can be placed upon the former" (Life of Jesus, pp. 259-263).
Compare the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus with the account of Moses at Mount Sinai.
|"And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart,
"And was transfigured before them, and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light" (xvii, 1, 2).
"While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold a voice out of the cloud," etc. (5).
|"Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu"(xxiv, 9).
"And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.
"And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
We have in each account a prophet and three companions; in each the persons mentioned go up into a mountain; in each there is a supernatural brightness; in each an overshadowing cloud; in each a celestial voice speaking out of the cloud; in each Moses is a prominent figure; in each a period of six days is mentioned.
What occurred immediately after the Transfiguration?
Matthew: "His disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come already and they know him not.... Then the disciples f understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist" (xvii, 10-13).
It is quite natural that the writing of one story concerning Elias should suggest another; but reason forbids the acceptance of both as true. If Elias was seen and recognized at the mountain, as stated, the above conversation did not follow that appearance.
What ailed the man's son whom Jesus cured after the Transfiguration?
Matthew (Old Ver.): He was a lunatic (xxii, 15).
Matthew (New Ver.): He was an epileptic.
Mark: He had "a dumb spirit" (ix, 17).
When the authorities at Capernaum demanded tribute of Jesus what did he command Peter to do?
"Go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money; that take, and give unto them for me and thee" (Matthew xvii, 27).
Matthew does not venture to say that Peter was successful, doubtless recognizing the fact that there ought to be limits even to a fish story.
Regarding this story Archbishop Trench says: "It is remarkable, and is a solitary instance of the kind, that the issue of this bidding is not told us." Dr. Farrar says: "I agree with the learned and thoughtful Olshausen in regarding this as the most difficult to comprehend of all the gospel miracles" (Life of Christ, p. 288).
What was the nature of the tribute demanded?
It was an annual tax, known as the temple service tax, a tax from which no Jew, rich or poor, was exempt. Regarding the time and manner of its collection, Farrar says: "On the 1st of Adar, the demand was made quietly and civilly, if, however, it had not been paid by the 25th, then it seems that the collectors of the contribution (tobhin shekalim) might take a security for it from the defaulter" (Life of Christ, p. 285).
The tax was always collected in the early spring. Yet according to Matthew it was collected from Jesus in the autumn, just before the feast of tabernacles. Either Matthew was ignorant of the time of its collection, or Jesus was a defaulter.
Nor is this the only difficulty needing explanation. It is assumed that Peter secured the coin in the manner directed. If so, how did it come into existence? Did Jesus miraculously create it? If so, he was a counterfeiter. Was it a lost coin? In this case, if he was omniscient, as claimed, he knew the owner and should have restored it.
After leaving Galilee where did Jesus go?
Matthew: "Into the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan" (xix, 1).
The Jordan being the eastern boundary of Judea, no "coasts of Judea" existed beyond it.
In going to Jerusalem to attend his last Passover, what route did he take?
Luke: "He passed through the midst of Samaria" (xvii, 11).
Mark: He "cometh into the coasts of Judea by the farther side of the Jordan" (x, l).
Two entirely different routes. As the province of Samaria lay between those of Galilee and Judea, the direct route from Galilee to Jerusalem was "through the midst of Samaria" The orthodox Jews, however, in order to avoid the Samaritans, whom they thoroughly despised, usually crossed the Jordan, which formed the boundary of the three provinces, came down on the east side of the river through Perea, recrossed the river, and thus entered "into the coasts of Judea from the farther side of Jordan."
What city did he pass through on his way to Jerusalem?
Luke: "And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho" (xix, 1).
Luke here contradicts his previous statement that "he passed through the midst of Samaria," for Jericho was not on the route from Samaria, but on the route from Perea by way of "the farther side of Jordan," the route which Mark declares he took.
What miracle did he perform on the way?
Luke: "As he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off; and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed" (xvii, 12-14).
The other Evangelists do not mention this miracle. Concerning it the Bible for Learners says: "It is an unsuccessful imitation of the account we have already examined of the healing of a leper. It is absolutely unhistorical" (Vol. III, p. 310).
Was it one or two blind men that sat by the wayside beseeching him to heal them?
Mark: "Blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timeus, sat by the highway side begging And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me" (x, 46, 47).
Luke: "A certain blind man sat by the wayside begging: ... And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me" (xviii, 35, 38).
Matthew: "Two blind men sitting by the wayside, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David" (xx, 30).
What inquiry did the disciples make regarding the cause of the man's blindness?
"Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John ix, 2).
Regarding this, Mrs. Evans, in her Christ Myth (p. 55), says: "Such a suggestion has no meaning when uttered by a Jew, but to a believer in the transmigration of souls the query would be natural and pertinent, and the story appears to be a modification of a well-known Buddhistic parable."
When did this occur?
Luke: "As he was come nigh into Jericho" (xviii, 35).
Matthew: "As they separated from Jericho" (xx, 29).
Mark: "As he went out of Jericho" (x, 46).
Mark agrees with Luke and disagrees with Matthew as to the number of men, and agrees with Matthew and disagrees with Luke as to the time of its occurrence.
What did Jesus say regarding divorce?
Mark: "And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery" (x, 11, 12).
This was written by one acquainted with the Roman, but not with the Jewish law. The Jewish law did not recognize the right of a wife to put away her husband for any cause whatever. Matthew (v, 31, 32) and Luke (xvi, 18) knew better.
According to Mark he said, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery." What did he say according to Matthew?
"Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery" (xix, 9).
This is a notable discrepancy. According to Mark if a husband divorce his wife for any cause whatever he cannot lawfully marry another. According to Matthew if he divorce his wife for fornication he can lawfully marry again.
In his conversation with the rich man what commandments did he prescribe?
"Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother" (Luke xviii, 20).
"Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and thy mother" (Mark x, 19).
"Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother, and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew xix, 18, 19).
No two of the Synoptics agree. Mark and Matthew each give a commandment not given by either of the others.
What great miracle did he perform at Bethany?
John: The raising of Lazarus from the dead. "Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead" (xi, 14). "Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh; for he hath been dead four days" (38, 39). "Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me" (41). "And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes" (43, 44).
The Synoptics make no mention of this miracle; and as it is the greatest miracle ascribed to Jesus it was certainly unknown to them.
Commenting on the doubtful character of alleged events narrated by one Evangelist and omitted by the others, Strauss says: "But this ground of doubt falls with incomparably greater weight, on the narrative of the resurrection of Lazarus in the fourth gospel. If the authors or collectors of the three first gospels knew of this, they could not, for more than one reason, avoid introducing it into their writings. For, first, of all the resuscitations effected by Jesus, nay, of all his miracles, this resurrection of Lazarus, if not the most wonderful, is yet the one in which the marvelous presents itself the most obviously and strikingly, and which, therefore, if its historical reality can be established, is a preeminently strong proof of the extraordinary endowments of Jesus as a divine messenger, whence, the evangelists, although they had related one or two other instances of the kind, could not think it superfluous to add this also. But, secondly, the resurrection of Lazarus had, according to the representation of John, a direct influence in the development of the fate of Jesus; for we learn from xi, 47 ff., that the increased resort to Jesus, and the credit which this event procured him, led to that consultation of the Sanhedrim in which the sanguinary counsel of Caiaphas was given and approved. Thus the event had a double importance -- pragmatical as well as dogmatical; consequently, the synoptical writers could not have failed to narrate it, had it been within their knowledge" (Leben Jesu, p. 548).
Referring to this miracle and the restoration of the sight of the man born blind, Prof. Newman says: "That the three first narrators should have been ignorant of them is simply impossible; that they should not have felt their preeminent value is incredible" (Religion not History, p. 27).
There are three alleged instances in the Gospels of Christ restoring the dead to life.
1. The raising of the daughter of Jairus from her death bed, related by Matthew.
2. The raising of the son of the widow of Nain from his bier as they were carrying him to the grave, related by Luke.
3. The raising of Lazarus from his grave after he had lain four days, related by John.
Even if these miracles were possible one fact disproves them: the silence of the other Evangelists. Of these three stories not one is confirmed by another Evangelist. His less important miracles, such as healing the sick, are, many of them, recorded in all of the gospels, or at least in all of the Synoptics; yet each of these, his greatest miracles, stands alone, unnoticed by the other writers. Mark and Luke mention the daughter of Jairus, but only to deny the miracle by declaring that she was not dead. Had these miracles really been performed, all of the Evangelists would have had a knowledge of them, and all would have recorded them. These writers do not complement each other, as claimed: they exclude each other. There are many Lives of Napoleon; but not one of his biographers has seen fit to omit his greatest victories because some other biographer has narrated them.
Who was it requested that James and John might sit, one on the right and the other on the left hand of Jesus in his kingdom?
Matthew: "She [their mother] said unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom" (xx, 21).
Mark: "They [James and John] said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy glory" (x, 37).
Who occupies a seat at the left hand of Jesus?
Mark: God (xvi, 19).
The modesty of the foregoing request is apparent. Zebedee's family were evidently trying to play a sharp game on Jesus, and get a first mortgage on his Father's throne.
What did Jesus affirm in regard to the mustard seed?
"Which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown is the greatest among the herbs" (Matthew xiii, 32).
A mustard seed is not "the least of all seeds;" neither is the plant "the greatest among herbs."
With faith as large as a grain of mustard seed, what did he say his disciples could do?
"If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place and it shall remove" (Matthew xvii, 20).
"If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you" (Luke xvii, 63).
In the parable of the Great Feast what was the character of the feast?
Matthew: A wedding "dinner" (xxii, 4).
Luke: "A great supper" (xiv, l6).
Whom did the giver of the feast send to invite the guests?
Matthew: "His servants" (3).
Luke: "His servant" (l7).
Such errors may be considered trivial and their notice captious; but infallible writings do not contain even trivial errors.
What befell the servants, or servant?
Matthew: "And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them" (6).
Luke: The servant returned unharmed (21).
What did the giver of the feast declare respecting those who refused to attend?
"That none of those men which were bidden shall taste my supper" (xiv, 24).
As they had already declined to do so, the force of the interdiction is not apparent.
Relate the circumstances connected with the attendance of the guest who wore no wedding garment.
Matthew: "Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage ... And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment; and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless" (xxii, 8-12).
The relator of this incident, which is omitted by Luke, would have us suppose that the frequenters of the highways went clad in wedding garments.
The parables of Jesus are declared to be perfect models of literary composition, and filled with lessons of divine wisdom. A few of them possess some literary merit; but the most of them are faulty. They contain many questionable ethical teachings; they are illogically constructed; the imagery is unnatural, and the language crude.
In the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen did the owner of the vineyard send one servant, or more than one, each time to collect the rent?
Mark and Luke: He sent but one (Mark xii, 2-5; Luke xx, 10-12).
Matthew: He sent more than one (xxi, 33-36).
What happened to the servants?
Matthew and Mark: Some of them were killed.
Luke: They were beaten and sent away, but none was killed.
In the parable of the talents how did the master apportion his money?
Matthew: He gave to the first servant five talents, to the second two, to the third, one (xxv, 15).
Luke: He gave to each one pound (xix, 13).
What was their gain?
Matthew: Each doubled his money (16, 17).
Luke: The first increased his tenfold, the second fivefold (16, 18).
What did the unprofitable servant do with the money entrusted to him?
Matthew: He "digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money" (xxv, 18).
Luke: He said, "Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin" (xix, 20).
What are the concluding words of Jesus in this parable?
"For unto every one that hath shall be given: ... but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew xxv, 29, 30).
"That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me" (Luke xix, 26, 27).
In the lawyer's interview with Jesus, who was it, the lawyer, or Jesus, that stated the two great commandments?
Matthew and Mark: Jesus. "Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, saying, Master which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (xxii, 35-39).
Luke: The lawyer. "And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he [the lawyer] answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself" (x, 25-27).
"And after that they durst not ask him any questions." After what?
Matthew: After his controversy with the Pharisees respecting David and Christ (xxii, 41-46).
Mark: After his conversation with the scribe regarding the commandments (xii, 28-37).
Luke: After confuting the Sadducees in regard to the resurrection (xx, 27-40).
Did his controversy concerning David and Christ take place with the Pharisees, as stated by Matthew?
Luke: It did not. It was with "certain of the scribes" (xx, 39).
Where was Jesus on the day preceding his triumphal entry into Jerusalem?
John: With Lazarus at Bethany (three miles from Jerusalem) (xii, 1-15).
Luke: With Zaccheus near Jericho (twenty miles from Jerusalem) (xix, 1-40).
Preparatory to his triumphal entry what command did he give his disciples?
"Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither" (Luke xix, 30).
"Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her loose them, and bring them unto me" (Matthew xxi, 2).
Did he ride both animals?
Matthew: He did. "And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon" (6, 7).
The equestrian feat of his riding two asses, a large one and a small one, at the same time, must have heightened the effect of this sublime pageant.
Matthew is continually seeing double. In the demoniac of Gadara he sees two demoniacs; in the blind man by the wayside he sees two men; and in other instances where the other Evangelists see but one person or thing he sees two.
The riding of two asses by Jesus was in fulfillment of what prophecy?
Matthew: "And this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass" (xxi, 4, 5).
Matthew's rendering of this passage (Zechariah ix, 9) arises from a misunderstanding of the meaning of its words. The prophet, or poet, does not mean two asses, but one; the clause "a colt the foal of an ass," is merely a poetical repetition or qualification of the preceding clause.
This blunder of Matthew is significant. It exposes the fictitious character of this so called Gospel history. It proves that Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem is not a historical event -- that this story is a pure fabrication, suggested by this alleged prophecy.
When did Jesus purge the temple?
Synoptics: At the close of his ministry, a few days before his death (Matthew xxi, 12-16; Mark xi, 15-18; Luke xix, 45-48).
John: At the beginning of his ministry, three years before his death (ii, 13-22).
Origen doubted the occurrence of this event, believing it to be a mere allegory.
When did he curse the fig tree?
Matthew: After he purged the temple (xxi, 12-19).
Mark: Before he purged the temple (xi, 12-15).
When was the tree discovered by his disciples to be withered?
Matthew: As soon as cursed (19).
Mark: Not until the next morning (13-20).
Mark says that he visited the tree for the purpose of obtaining figs. Why did the tree contain no fruit?
Mark: "Because the time of figs was not yet" (13).
This was before the Passover which occurred in March or April. In that part of Palestine where the miracle is said to have been performed the bocore, or early fig, ripened its first crop during the latter part of June; while the kermus, or fig proper, ripened in August. What a spectacle! An omniscient God searching for figs in March, and disappointed at not finding them -- creating a tree to bear fruit in the summer and cursing it for not bearing in the spring!
What did Jesus accuse the Jews of doing?
Matthew: Of having slain prophets and wise men, among them "Zacharias son of Barachias" (xxiii, 35).
The Zacharias mentioned was slain in Jerusalem, 69 A.D.; so that Matthew makes Jesus refer to an event that occurred forty years after his death.
Referring to this passage, the Catholic scholar Dr. Hug says: "There cannot be a doubt, if we attend to the name, the fact and its circumstances, and the object of Jesus in citing it, that it was the same Zacharias Barouchos, who, according to Josephus, a short time before the destruction of Jerusalem, was unjustly slain in the temple."
Commenting on this passage, Prof. Newman says: "There is no other man known in history to whom the verse can allude. If so, it shows how late, how ignorant, how rash is the composer of a text passed off on us as sacred truth" (Religion not History, p. 46).
Repeat his lamentation concerning Jerusalem's rejection of him.
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew xxiii, 37; Luke xiii, 34.)
Where was he when he uttered this lamentation?
Matthew: During his visit at Jerusalem.
Luke: In Galilee before he went to Jerusalem.
Not only are these writers at variance with each other as to the time and place of utterance, but the lamentation itself, which declares that he had made repeated efforts to convert Jerusalem, is at variance with both of them. For according to Matthew he had just arrived on his first visit to Jerusalem, while according to Luke he had never yet, during his ministry, visited Jerusalem.
Who anointed Jesus?
Matthew and Mark: "A woman" (Matt. xxvi, 7; Mark xiv, 3).
Luke: "A sinful woman" (vii, 37).
John: Mary, the sister of Lazarus (xii, 3).
Luke's "sinful woman" is recognized as Mary Magdalene. Farrar says: "In the popular consciousness she will till the end of time be identified with the Magdalene." Matthew and Mark's "woman" may be harmonized with either Mary Magdalene or Mary the sister of Lazarus; but Luke and John are irreconcilable.
Where did she put the ointment?
Matthew and Mark: On his head (Matt. xxvi, 7; Mark xiv, 3).
Luke and John: On his feet (Luke vii, 38-46; John xii, 3)
Where did this occur?
Matthew, Mark and John: In Bethany (Matt. xxvi, 6; Mark xiv, 3; John xii, 1).
Luke: In Nain (vii, 11-37).
At whose house did it occur?
Synoptics: At the house of Simon (Matt. xxvi, 6, 7; Mark xiv, 3; Luke vii, 36 40).
John: At the house of Lazarus (xii, 1-3).
Who was Simon?
Matthew and Mark: A leper (Matt. xxvi, 6; Mark xiv, 3).
Luke: A Pharisee (vii, 39-40).
At what time during his ministry did this anointing occur?
Matthew, Mark and John: At the close of his ministry (Matt. xxvi, xxvii; Mark xiv, John xii).
Luke: Early in his ministry (vii, 36-50).
Did it occur before or after his triumphal entry?
Matthew and Mark: After (Matt. xxi, 1-11, xxvi, 6-13; Mark xi, 1-11, xiv, 3-9).
John: Before (xii, 1-15).
How many days before the Passover did it occur?
Mark: Two days (xiv, 1-3).
John: Six days (xii, 1-3).
"The prima facie view would certainly be that the anointing at Bethany was placed by Mark two days and by John six days before the Passover." -- Scribner's Bible Dictionary.
Who objected to this apparent waste of the ointment?
Matthew: "His disciples" (xxvi, 8, 9).
John: "Judas Iscariot" (xii, 4, 5).
These different versions of the anointing of Jesus present so many discrepancies that some have supposed that two or more anointings were made. The Archbishop of York, the most popular of Gospel harmonists, concedes that but one anointing was made.
After an exhaustive review of the case, Strauss says: "Without doubt, we have here but one history under three various forms; and this seems to have been the real conclusion of Origen, as well as recently of Schleiermacher."
While Jesus was at Jerusalem there came a voice from heaven. For what purpose was the voice sent?
John: For the sake of those who stood by. "Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes" (xii, 30).
Of what benefit was the voice when those who heard it were unable to distinguish it from thunder? "The people therefore, that stood by and heard it, said that it thundered" (29).
The Evangelists relate several instances of celestial voices being heard. As there is, in nearly every instance, a disagreement in regard to the message conveyed, it is probable that an electrical disturbance inspired the voice, while a vivid imagination interpreted its meaning. Regarding these voices, the Duke of Somerset says: "A belief in these heavenly voices was a common superstition among the Jews."
When did the Last Supper take place?
Synoptics: On the Passover (Matt. xxvi, 18-20; Mark xiv, 16-18; Luke xxii, 13-15).
John: On the day preceding the Passover.
Luke says: "And they made ready the passover. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer."
John, in his account of the Last Supper, says it was "before the feast of the passover" (xiii, 1). The Evangelists all agree that his trial and execution took place on the day following the Last Supper. John says the Jews "went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover" (xviii, 28). After narrating the events of the trial, John says: "And it was the preparation of the passover"(xix, 14).
According to the Synoptics, the Last Supper was eaten on the 14th Nisan, and, by our mode of reckoning time, on Thursday evening; according to John, it was eaten on the 13th Nisan, and, by our mode of reckoning, on Wednesday evening. The Synoptics declare that this supper was the regular Paschal meal; according to John, it was an ordinary meal, the Paschal meal not being eaten until after Christ's death.
"The Synoptics represent most clearly that Jesus on the evening of the 14th Nisan, after the custom of the Jews, ate the Passover with his disciples, and that he was arrested in the first hours of the 15th Nisan, the day on which he was put to death. Nothing can be more distinct than the statement that the last supper was the Paschal feast.... The fourth Gospel, however, in accordance with the principle which is dominant throughout, represents the last repast which Jesus eats with his disciples as a common supper, which takes place, not on the 14th, but on the 13th Nisan, the day 'before the feast of the Passover.'" -- Supernatural Religion.
Thousands of pages have been written in vain attempts to reconcile this grave discrepancy. Scribner's Bible Dictionary, which contains the best fruits of orthodox scholarship, both of England and America, concedes a contradiction. It says: "The Synoptics seem to identify the two [the Last Supper and the Paschal meal], whereas St. John expressly places the Last Supper before the Passover."
After an exhaustive review of the subject, Strauss voices the conclusion of German scholars in the following words: "Our only course is to acknowledge an irreconcilable contradiction between the respective accounts, without venturing a decision as to which is the correct one" (Leben Jesu, p. 702).
The Synoptics state that the Last Supper was the Paschal meal. Describe the Paschal meal.
"All leaning upon the cushions around the table, the first cup of wine was served, and grace pronounced over the same and the feast. This cup of wine being disposed of, vegetables and sauce were placed on the table, and the vegetables, dipped in the sauce, were blessed and eaten. Next the unleavened bread, the bitter herb, and a piquant sauce called Haroseth were served, and the bitter herb, dipped in the Haroseth, was blessed and eaten. Then the Paschal lamb was placed on the table with portions of another sacrifice. One of the company asked the question why all this was done, during which the second cup of wine was served. The head of the table explaining narrated the story of the Exodus, closed with a hymn, spoke the second time grace over the wine, and all disposed of the same. Now came the breaking of the bread and the eating and drinking. This finished, the third cup of wine was served, and grace after meal was pronounced. After which the fourth cup was served, and the ceremonies closed with hymns and psalms, and disposing of the fourth cup of wine" (Mishna).
"This was the Paschal meal as it was observed in the reputed time of Christ and up to 70 A.D. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple the great Passover feast retained but the shadow of its former glory. The Paschal meal and the ceremonies attending it were generally shortened. The fact that the Evangelists were unacquainted with the regular Paschal meal, that the Synoptics were familiar only with the ceremonies of later times, shows that the Last Supper is a myth, and the Gospels the products of a later age.
Criticizing the Synoptics' accounts of the Paschal meal, Dr. Isaac Wise, an able Jewish scholar, says:
"If any evidence is required that neither Mark nor Matthew had ever seen the Paschal meal, or described that of Jesus, it is furnished here. They do not mention any one point connected with the Paschal supper, the ceremonies of which was established. They mention only one ceremony, viz., the breaking of the bread, and the cup of wine after the meal, which is not only a mistake, but shows conclusively, that either of them had seen the Paschal supper, after the destruction of Jerusalem, in some Jewish house, and the ceremonies connected therewith, called the Seder. Therefore, no mention whatsoever is made of the main thing -- the Paschal lamb -- and the bread is broken after the meal, which was done by the Jews after closing the Paschal meal, outside of Jerusalem, when the altar had been destroyed; and no Paschal lamb was eaten" (Martyrdom of Jesus, pp. 36, 37).
"Luke begins correctly, but makes a mistake in having the bread broken right after the first cup of wine was handed round, which was done so at every festive meal, except at the one described, and has but two cups of wine instead of four. So we know that Luke did not describe what actually happened that evening He had seen the Jewish custom of opening the festive meals with grace over the wine and bread, and made of it an introduction to the Last Supper, without knowing that just that evening the custom was changed" (ibid., p. 38).
What ceremony was instituted at the Last Supper?
Synoptics: The Eucharist (Matt. xxvi, 26-28; Mark xiv, 22-24; Luke xxii, 19, 20).
John: The washing of feet (xiii, 4-9).
John does not mention the former ceremony, and the Synoptics do not mention the latter, yet each is said to have been performed immediately after supper.
He told his disciples that he would no more drink of the fruit of the vine until he drank it in his Father's kingdom. When was this?
Matthew: After instituting the Eucharist.
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
"But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom" (xxvi, 26 29).
Luke: Before instituting the Eucharist.
"For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
"And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you" (xxii, 18-20).
At the Last Supper did Jesus pass the cup once, or twice?
Matthew and Mark: Once (Matt. xxvi, 26 30; Mark xiv, 16-26).
Luke: Twice (xxii, 13-20).
Regarding this discrepancy, Scribner's Bible Dictionary says: "The temptation to expand was much stronger than to contract; and the double mention of the cup raises real difficulties of the kind which suggest interpolation."
Where was Jesus when he uttered his last prayer?
Synoptics: In the garden of Gethsemane (Matt. xxvi, 36-39; Mark xiv, 32-36; Luke xxii, 39-42).
John: In Jerusalem before he retired to the garden (xvii, xvii, 1).
What is said of his agony at Gethsemane?
Luke: "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (xxii, 44).
Whatever was the character of this so-called "bloody sweat," it may be remarked that Matthew, who was an apostle; Mark, who is claimed to be the interpreter of Peter, an apostle who was with Jesus at the time; and John who was not only an apostle, but present also, do not refer to it. Luke, who was not an eye-witness -- who was not an apostle -- is the only one who mentions it.
How many times did Jesus visit Jerusalem during his ministry?
John: At least four times (ii, 13; v, 1; x, 22, 23; xii, 12).
The Synoptics record but one visit.
To what country was his ministry chiefly confined?
Synoptics: To Galilee.
John: To Judea.
According to the Synoptics nearly his entire ministry was confined to Galilee. It was only at the close of his ministry, a few days before his death, that he visited Judea to attend the Passover. According to John his ministry was confined chiefly to Judea. It requires but three or four of his twenty-one chapters to record his work in Galilee. Farrar says: "The Synoptists almost confine themselves to the Galilean, and St. John to the Judean ministry" (Life of Christ, p. 361).
How long did his ministry last?
Synoptics: One year.
John: At least three years.
The Rev. Dr. Giles says: "According to the first three Gospels, Christ's public life lasted only one year" (Christian Records, p. 11).
Referring to this and the preceding discrepancy, the author of Supernatural Religion says: "The Synoptics clearly represent the ministry of Jesus as having been limited to a single year, and his preaching is confined to Galilee and Jerusalem, where his career culminates at the fatal Passover. The fourth Gospel distributes the teaching of Jesus between Galilee, Samaria, and Jerusalem, makes it extend over at least three years, and refers to three Passovers spent by Jesus at Jerusalem" (p. 681).
Irenaeus, the greatest of the early Christian Fathers, and who lived in the century following Jesus, declares that his ministry lasted twenty years. In his principal work, Against Heresies, he combats the heresy of a one-year ministry of Jesus. He says:
"They however, that they may establish their false opinion regarding that which is written, 'To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,' maintain that he preached for one year only, and then suffered in the twelfth month. They are forgetful of their own disadvantage, destroying his whole work, and robbing him of that age which is both more necessary and more honorable than any other, that more advanced age, I mean, during which also, as a teacher, he excelled all others. For how could he have had disciples if he did not teach? And how could he have taught, unless he had reached the age of a master? For when he came to be baptized, he had not yet completed his thirtieth year, but was beginning to be about thirty years of age.... Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onward to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year, a man begins to decline toward old age; which our Lord possessed, while he still fulfilled the office of a teacher.... He did not therefore preach for only one year, nor did he suffer in the twelfth month of the year. For the period included between the thirtieth and fiftieth year can never be regarded as one year" (Book ii, ch. xxii, secs. 5, 6).
What is said regarding the extent of his works?
John: "If they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books" (xxi, 25).
In the very next verses of the Bible (Acts i, 1, 2) Luke declares that his brief Gospel contains a record "of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up."
Can the alleged teachings of Jesus be accepted as authentic?
Three facts disprove, for the most part, their authenticity.
1. The most important teachings ascribed to him by the Synoptics were borrowed, either by him or his biographers, from other teachers and writers.
2. His teachings as presented by the Synoptics, and as presented by John, exclude each other. No critic can seriously contend that the discourses and sayings of Jesus recorded in the Synoptics and those given in the Fourth Gospel emanated from the same mind. They are wholly dissimilar, both in doctrine and phraseology. Dr. Westcott says: "It is impossible to pass from the Synoptic Gospels to that of St. John without feeling that the transition involves the passage from one world of thought to another. No familiarity with the general teaching of the Gospels, no wide conception of the character of the Savior, is sufficient to destroy the contrast which exists in form and spirit between the earlier and later narratives" (Introduction to Study of Gospels, p. 249).
3. The discourses attributed to Jesus in the Fourth Gospel were evidently composed by the author of that Gospel. This is apparent to every careful reader.
The teachings ascribed to Jesus in John, then, are spurious; while those ascribed to him in Matthew, Mark and Luke are of doubtful authenticity. If any of the teachings of Jesus have been preserved they exist in the first three Gospels, but the unauthentic character of the Gospels themselves renders it impossible to ascribe to him with certainty a single teaching.