Friday, July 25, 2008

Letter to the Galatians, chapter 1

The intro to Letter to the Galatians is really a fascinating read.

- Paul is boasting:

Gal 1:1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—

- There were already different versions of the Gospel even in the early years:

Gal 1:7 Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

So these people are not teaching them something totally different but simply a 'perverted' form of the Gospel. Too bad that he didn't say more about what they taught.

- Paul, an alleged man of God, curses people

Gal 1:9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

- Paul is somewhat on the defensive:

Gal 1:11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.

So there must have been quite a lot of people thinking it was.

- His argumentation is both curious and pompous:

Gal 1:12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

So everything Paul knows, he got told it by Jesus himself! Not by the Apostles or any other early follower of Jesus. This indeed then must really, really show that Paul is important and his version is the correct one. Just look at all the evidence for it! Uh, it's only Paul claiming so ... ok ...

- and somewhat contradictory:

Gal 1:13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

So Paul, allegedly one of the most learned Jews (allegedly trained by Gamaliel), was capturing people like your standard thug without knowing why or what evil they were supposed to have committed? That doesn't really seem credible, does it? If he was indeed so dumb and didn't know anything about the belief of the people he was supposedly kidnapping and persecuting then how could he have been one of the most erudite Jews of his time? Jewish scholars and priests didn't agree with heretics of course but they sure weren't fools and knew what the heretical teachings were about. Either way, this doesn't make Paul look good.

- Yet Paul considered himself elect from birth and to be someone really worthy:

Gal 1:15 But when God, who set me apart from birth (or my mother's womb) and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles

I wonder what took him so long to notice this ... and why it would matter if God 'set him apart from birth' (whatever that actually means) if it would take several decades for Paul to get this ...

- Paul emphasizes again that he didn't consult the Disciples nor cared to meet them soon:

Gal 1:16 I did not consult any man, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

Yeah, because why see the Apostles when Jesus is talking directly to you ... ? And what was so important in Arabia at the time that he needed to rush there?

- It took Paul THREE years to think that it would maybe be a good idea to speak with some of the original Disciples:

Gal 1:18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.

No surprise then that his and Peter's (and especially James') ideas were not the same.

- The only other Apostle that he SAW (doesn't necessarily imply 'MET') was James, the brother of Jesus, the head of the Jerusalem 'Church':

Gal 1:19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord's brother.

The other disciples were probably on holiday or trying to convert fellow Jews?

- And then he sounds defensive again:

Gal 1:20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

And that's only Chapter 1! ;)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is God going to exterminate the Jews as a punishment?

Let's look at a parable that Jesus is supposed to have said:

The Parable of the Tenants

Mark 12:1 He then began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed. 6 "He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 7 "But the tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 "What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.
The allegory is obvious:

The owner of the vineyard = God
The vineyard = Israel (as God's Kingdom)
The tenants = the Jews
The servants that get beaten up or killed = the prophets
The son of the owner = Jesus
The others = the Christians (or rather Jewish Christians at the time)

So the story is about the Jews killing Jesus and Jesus promising that God will avenge this by coming soon and killing them ( = the Jews, the unfaithful who have rejected Jesus):

Verse 9 "What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others."

How does this fit into his teaching of love and forgiveness?

(On a side-note: The parable also doesn't reflect well on BibleGod since the owner doesn't seem to be very bright. He keeps sending his servants to the tenants, knowing (and one doesn't even have to be omniscient in this case) that they will get beaten up or killed. I mean ok, one couldn't know this when the first servant was sent and beaten up, but when the third one was killed, one could start to detect a pattern and rethink the strategy of sending lone servants there on a potential suicide mission ... why not send ten of them together? And why send the only son alone too? That's called courting disaster!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The early Christians were 'Communists'.

The early Christians seem to have been Communists in the original sense, or even hippies if you want (but without the physical free love and with threats).

Just look at the stories told in 'The Acts of the Apostles':

Acts 2:44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
And you better had to act this way and really give the community everything you had if some other story from the same book is to be believed:
Acts 5:1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him. 7 Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter responded to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?" And she said, "Yes, that was the price." 9 Then Peter said to her, "Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well." 10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.
That's some very efficient propaganda. So the message is clear: Don't hold anything back for yourself or God/Jesus will kill you. This line of thinking that you have to give everything to the community has hold up remarkably well if you look at modern cults and sects.

Selling everything you have and living together makes of course especially sense within apocalyptic communities that think that the End of the world is coming soon, like early Christianity, the Branch Davidians, etc.
And I'm sure that especially the capitalist US version of Christianity is willfully turning a blind eye on parts like Acts 2:44-45.


I'm reanimating this site but under slightly different premises.

The focus will still be the New Testament and its oddities but I won't analyze them per chapter anymore. I'll describe more general, overarching oddities in both biblical texts and christian concepts. That makes more sense in my opinion, and it will also be more interesting (for me and you) since the Synoptics for example repeat a lot of stuff and reanalyzing them is boring.

The updates will probably be weekly (or every few days).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Questioning Christianity.

My blogging of the oddities of the New Testament is still on a hiatus. Mainly because of time constraints and because I'm approaching the Bible differently right now.

I'd rather focus on some overarching questions regarding the Bible then simply comment every oddity in the text. So if you're interested you can read my latest comment, in this case about how the biblical God is portrayed in the book of Job: Evil also comes from God.

You can of course stumble it too if you like! 

Thank you and have a nice day.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Matthew (compilation)

If you're new to this blog then here's a PDF document of all my comments regarding the Gospel of Matthew. It's easier to read this way than having to read the blog backwards.

There will also be a short break in my blogging activities. A matter of priorities. I will be back though.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Matthew, chapter 28

1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
Compare this to the other 3 accounts. Very interesting ... and contradicting.
2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
So when angels come down from heaven that'll cause earthquakes? Why? Dramatic effect? And what's an appearance like lightning? This verse also contradicts its counterparts in the other Gospels.
5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
That's a quite well informed angel, isn't it?
7 "Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."
Going? Can't he just teleport or something?
8 And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.
Eh, weren't they supposed to meet him in Galilee?
10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me."
So the Brethren were not the disciples? Or did Jesus appear to the women only, when they were still running?
12 And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 and said, "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.'
Clever tactic. Trying to discredit the argument before it can be used ... Or rather, since the argument was used at the time the Gospel were written, this was to 'prove' that Scripture knew this future accusation already from the beginning ...
15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.
As if reasonable people wouldn't come to this conclusion by their own ...
16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.
Didn't they meet him already in verse 8? And why did they doubt? Didn't the resurrected Jesus look like the Jesus they knew?
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."
Given from the Father, I guess. That Trinity concept just doesn't hold up.
9 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
And from that day on Christians are ringing on doors and annoying people ... Thank you, J!