One Year or Three?

Why do the synoptic gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke seem to give the impression that the public ministry of Jesus lasted one year; whereas, the gospel of John suggests two or three years?

The answer has nothing to do with historical accuracy; it has to do with the organizing principle. According to John Shelby Spong in this book: Liberating the Gospels - Reading The Gospel with Jewish Eyes, the synoptic gospels were written at the time most of the early Christians were Jewish and many wanted 'readings' about Jesus at appropriate times in their synagogue worship services which would accent (or parallel) the predominant seasonal themes already found in the Jewish year. Hence the authors did not use a linear history (a cronological account) as their organizing principle but condensed the major themes in the public ministry of Jesus into a 'liturgical' year.

Spong suggests that much of our correct understanding of these documents may have been lost when the church broke with its Jewish roots and that one must learn to see the gospel through Jewish eyes.

Biblical Author Makes Serious Math Error

Attempt Made to Legislate Error In Civil Law

If you are having trouble with grade school math, you are not alone. NKJV 2 Chronicles 4:2 says, "Then he made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other; it was completely round. Its height was five cubits, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference" 1 Kings 7:23 says nearly the same thing.

Something described as a circle in shape with a diameter of 10 [in any units such as cubits, inches, etc.] would have a circumference of 31.4 not 30. Even the crudest of approximations would yield 31. That author could not be described as inerrant.

The ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is a constant referred to in mathematics as pi.

This must have been the verse that Dorothy Nelkin refers to in her book "The Creation Controversy," published in 1982, when she said:

"Evolution was not their [the Fundamentalists] only target. The revolt against science also included attempts to prescribe by law that pi should be changed from 3.1416 to 3.0000, partly because it was simple to use, partly because the Bible described Solomon's vase as three times as far around as across."

Pi expressed as a decimal is often rounded to 3.14159 or 3.14 but in actuality the digits after the decimal point never end. Computers have approximated its exact value by figuring out scores of digits following the decimal point.

While both Biblical passages exactly agree on the area, faulty as the data might be, they both differ on the volume:

Which Account is Factually Accurate?

Following the death and burial of Jesus, who went to the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week?

John Shelby Spong, in his book: Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism - a Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture, states: "Paul said nothing about anyone going. Mark said that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went (chap 16). Luke said that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and some other women went (24:10). Matthew said Mary Magdalene and the other Mary only went (1:28). John said that Mary Magdalene alone went (20:11). This is not important unless you claim inerrancy for every word of Scripture."

Which is True?

Leviticus 20-21 NIV

"If a man marries his brother's wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless."

Deuteronomy 25:5

"If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her."

Both verses are a part of the cannon of scripture. One biblical text says the arrangement is an impurity; the other says it is a duty.

What message was placed over the head of Jesus as he suffered on the cross?

Matthew 27:37 KJV
And set up over his head his accusation written,

Mark 15:26 KJV
And the superscription of his accusation was written over,

Luke 23:38 KJV
And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew,

John 19:19 KJV
And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was

What were the last words of Jesus?

Luke 23:46

Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

John 19:30

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Both Matthew and Mark say the last words of Jesus were: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

When I asked an episcopal priest friend of mine which author was correct. He answered thusly:

Great question! Here's my take on it, and in reading it, you'll once again understand why I'm not a "fundamentalist." This takes a little time, so sit back, and get ready to use the "right brain" like all good, non-fundy theologians!

The SEVEN LAST WORDS OF CHRIST are all not in one place. They can be found in all four Gospels, as you have noted, but not all of them are in the same place, nor or they in the same order. It rather reminds me of the first and second chapters of Genesis, where you find two differing orders of creation: one in which man is created male and female at the same time, after the animals; the other in which man (male) is created first, then the animals,and then female.

Back to the point.

The Lucan account has Jesus quoting Psalm 31:5, an ancient way of prayingfor the Jews. As the Psalter was the hymnbook for Judaism, it was common for the Jews, when praying, to quote the Psalms and, for that matter, other parts of Scripture. (Example: The Shema: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One . . . . the beginning of many prayers, from Deuteronomy).

The other two synoptics have Jesus doing the same thing, but with the 22nd Psalm.

John's text, much more sophisticated, written years later to a an audience more interested in theology and making sense of what had happened than in the details of what took place, has Jesus saying "It is finished." When Elijah (the prophet many of whom had assumed Jesus was, but raised from the dead [reference: Who do men say that I am? Some say Elijah, raised fromt he dead, others say you are a prophet....) was ready to die, for his mission was over, he prayed to God and said, "It is enough (similar Hebrew/Aramaic word for finished) now, Lord, take away my life...." To make the connection between Jesus and Elijah, the great Old Testament prophet was important to John for many different reasons.

The point: In all four Gospels, Jesus is quoting Scripture. He did this when, at the beginning of His ministry, He faced Satan in the wilderness. "Man does not live by bread alone...; You shall not put the Lord to the test...; You shall worship the Lord only...; all are quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures. It was also on the cross that Jesus faced His last temptation - cimenatized by Martin Scorsese - as the "bad" thief tempted Our Lord to come off the cross, save Himself, and the others. So, at the beginning and at the end of His earthly ministry, when in the position of being tempted to do other than that which God had appointed Him to do, Jesus finds strength in the writing of the Holy Scriptures, quotes them for all to hear, and in that context, is taken to new life that no one could imagine.

The non-fundamentalist that I am would answer your question by saying that at the point of Jesus' death, he acted consistently with each time He faced evil: He quoted God's Word (predictable for He was the Incarnate Word), and used it as a way to express Himself and evangelize others.

So rather than asking "which was the exact word with which our Savior died," the question is "Isn't it amazing that the Incarnate Word was combined with the Inspired Word at the beginning and at the end of His earthly ministry?!"

Justification by Faith Alone

Those who believe in justification by faith alone often point to this verse in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Paul, likewise, is often used to support this interpretation. But if we examine Corinthians 9:24-25 we find Paul saying that one must DO something so as to "not be disqualified for the prize."

He says: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

The God of the Universe was outraged by blemishes and flat noses?

Leviticus 21:16-24 Where was Moses getting all this stuff???

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.

For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;

No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God. He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy. Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them. And Moses told it unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel

Can you spot the contradiction in these two nearly identical accounts?

  • Mark 15:22-24 (English-RSV) And they brought him to the place called Gol'gotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take.

  • Matthew 27:33-35 (English-NIV) They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

There is no contradiction. Myrrh has a bitter taste. Gall is a generalized them for bitter.

Ecumenical Creeds

Usually regarded as the first ecumenical (universal) council of the church was that of Nicaea in 325. Although 250 bishops were in attendance almost all were from the Eastern Church.

More representative was the joint council of Rimini-Seleucia in 359. This council was composed of 500 bishops both from the Eastern and Western Church. This council virtually disappeared from church history because it adopted the Arian Creed which was later repudiated by the church.

To have been a good Christian in 359 would one have had to affirm the Arian creed? The creeds, having arisen because of disputes within Christendom, do not mention the priorities of Jesus in loving ones neighbor and caring for the poor and needy.

A Major Forgery in Scripture

Manuscripts of the canonical New Testament pulled together in final form in the fourth century have not survived the ravages of time. None of the oldest surviving New Testament manuscripts contain:

1 John 5: 7

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

Biblical scholars refer to verses, such as this, that have been added later as "Spurious". More redaction of scripture has taken place than many realize.

The King James Version contains the verse; The Revised Standard Version omits it without comment; Luther did not include it in his translation.

  • In a footnote in the Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary, we see: "A few late Greek manuscripts contain the addition. Hence it passed into the KJV. But all modern critical editions and translations of the New Testament, including the RSV, omit the interpolation, as it has no warrant in the best and most ancient manuscripts or in the early church fathers."

  • In a footnote, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Translation [Catholic] states" According to the evidence of many manuscripts, and the majority of commentators, these verses should read: ‘For there are three that bear witness: the Spirit, and the water, and the blood, and these three are one.’ The Holy See reserves to itself the right to pass finally on the origin of the present reading."

  • The Emphatic Diaglott version states: "This text concerning the heavenly witness is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifth century. It is not cited by any of the Greek ecclesiastical writers; nor by any of the early Latin fathers, even when the subjects upon which they treat would naturally have led them to appeal to its authority. It is therefore evidently spurious, and was first cited (though not as it now reads) by Virgilius Tapsensis, a Latin writer of no credit, in the latter end of the fifth century; but by whom forged, is of no great moment, as its design must be obvious to all."

The vast majority of Biblical translations omit the verse without comment.

Another rather famous redaction occurs in Mark. In chapter 16 verses 9 through 20 are spurious.

Other Forgeries in Scripture:

Today' Bible reads:

Luke 3:22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

All of the earliest manuscripts have it this way:

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, You are my son today I have begotten you.

The story of The Woman Taken in Adultery found in John 8:1-11 is a rather late forgery – the church fathers reference it for the first time in the 12th century; it is not in earliest manuscripts; in fact the style does not fit the rest of the text. Nevertheless, it seems characteristic of Jesus and is almost always included in movies about the life of Jesus:

According to Jerome's Biblical Commentary, the point at which the passage became known to commentators was the twelveth century. The New Jerusalem Bible stipulates, in agreement with Jerome's Biblical Commentary, that the author was not of the Johanine community but might actually have been Luke.

The Jesus Seminar scholars call it a free-floating passage of an independent tradition which later redactors tucked into John in at least two different places or into Luke. The Seminar notes this is a development of the Deuteronomy passage 17:7 which requires "The first stones are to be thrown by the witnesses." They don't think Jesus said any of this, but they rather wish he had. It seems characeristic of what Jesus would have said irrespective of the source.

...And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery...Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned...Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground...and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her...And they...went out one by one...When Jesus...saw none but the woman, he said unto her...Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

For other corruptions in Scripture see Do we have an accurate translation?

Jesus told his followers not to take oaths.

Jesus told his followers not to take oaths. He was adamant. Few pay any attention to this today. Consider this from the KJV:

Matthew 5 -- "Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."

Or in more readable form from the Scholars Version:

Matthew 5 -- "Don't swear at all. Don't invoke heaven, because it is the thrown of God, and don't invoke earth, because it is God's footstool, and don't invoke Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great king. You shouldn't swear by your head either, since you aren't able to turn a single hair either white or black. Rather your responses should be simply 'Yes' and 'No.' Anything that goes beyond this is inspired by the evil one."

James was also in agreement with Jesus. James 5:12 reads: "Above all, my brothers, do not swear--not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your 'Yes' be yes, and your 'No,' no, or you will be condemned."

Paul was not a Trinitarian

The doctrine of the Trinity is not found in the Bible. The earliest New Testament writings we have are the letters of St. Paul written around 50-65 A.D. Paul's faith was focused on Jesus Christ, and while he believed in the Holy Spirit, he certainly did not see the Holy Spirit as an equal person in a Trinity; it can be argued that Paul did not see Jesus Christ as equal with the Father. Paul's simple Christology could be put: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself." If one examines the synoptic Gospels, Jesus himself does not seem to have seen himself as equal with the Father.

The book of Timothy does not seem to proclaim the Trinity either. In 2 Timothy 4:1 we read:

"In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:"

In Timothy we read "God AND Jesus". We are not told of Jesus as the second person of a three person Godhead. Jesus and God are spoken of as two different characters. Also no mention is made here of the Holy Spirit.

In the New Testament there are three possible references mentioning the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together in one verse. One might think that at least one of these would be found in Luke/Acts where the Holy Spirit is mentioned over fifty times. But this is not the case.

The three possible references are:

  • Matthew 28:19 and
  • 1 John 5:7 and
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14

Let us examine these three:

  1. Matthew 28:19, sometimes referred to as the great commission, reads: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"

    This verse is the only AUTHENTIC verse in the New Testament where all three words, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are used together in one sentence.

  2. 1 John 5:7 in the King James Version reads: For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

    1 John 5:6-8 in the Revised Standard Version reads: This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth. There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree."

    Not only the meaning but the words are changed. Notice how Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost gets changed into Spirit, the water, and the blood

    1 John 5:7 is a retrofit - a forgery. Most versions of scripture omit it without even a footnote. That verse is not found in the earliest New Testament manuscripts.

  3. In 2 Corinthians 13:14 where no definition is given we find the words: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all

    [Note: this is NOT even in true trinitarian formulation because the word God is used instead of father.]

Matthew 28:19 is therefore the ONLY AUTHENTIC verse in the New Testament where all three words, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are used together in one sentence. And here no definition of the trinity doctrine is given.

Throughout scripture we find references to Spirit and Holy Spirit; only in Matthew 28:19 do we find the three mentioned together; there is no theology identifying them as separate persons in a co-eval Godhead anywhere in scripture.

In fact there are numerous passages where the author seems to think of Jesus as subordinate to God:

Acts 2:32 "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact."

Acts 2:36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

Those who maintain that the doctrine of the Trinity can be found in scripture can properly be called revisionists.

Often we find passages like: Galatians 4 "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father!" When someone tells you that he will be with you in spirit just what does he mean? This seems to be one of the many uses for that word.

Quite frequently we find passages as: 2 John 1:3 "Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love." Why no mention of the Holy Spirit?

In John's last gospel he describes an elaborate relationship between the Father and the Son but no mention is made of Holy Spirit.

Around 150 A.D. the Doctrine of the Trinity began to emerge, and was somewhat clarified by the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. only to have definitive touches added by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. The Apostle's creed did not evolve into its present form until around 150-200 A.D. at which time it was referred to as the Roman Creed.

What to Do With a Disobedient Son!

When a man has a son who is disobedient and out of control, and will not obey his father or his mother, or pay attention when they punish him, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of the town, at the town gate. They shall say to the elders of the town, "This son of ours is disobedient and out of control; he will not obey us, he is a wastrel and a drunkard." Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death, and you will thereby rid yourselves of this wickedness. [Deuteronomy 21:18 in the New English Bible]

How to Get Rid of an Unwanted Wife!

When you wage war against your enemy and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take some of them captive, then if you see a comely woman among the captives and take a liking to her, you may marry her. You shall bring her into your house, where she shall shave her head, pare her nails, and discard the clothes which she has worn when captured. Then she shall stay in your house and mourn for her father and mother for a full month. After that you may have intercourse with her; you shall be her husband and she your wife. But if you find her no longer pleasing, let her go free. You must not sell her, nor treat her harshly, since you have had your will with her. [Deuteronomy 21:10 in the New English Bible]

Two Wives Can Present Problems!

When a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved...[Deuteronomy 21:15 in the New English Bible]

Church Membership is Not for Everyone!

He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord. A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord. [Deuteronomy 23:1 in the King James Version of the Bible]

New Testament Advice on Slavery

Slaves Obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart. [Ephesians 6:5] Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the the Lord. [Colossians 3:22] Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them. [Titus 2:9]

Not our kind of Morality!

Isaiah 13
11 - I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
12 - I will make man scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the LORD Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.
14 - Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep without a shepherd, each will return to his own people, each will flee to his native land.
15 - Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword.
16 - Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives ravished.
17 - See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold.
18 - Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants nor will they look with compassion on children.

Which Great Commission?

In the last Chapter in Matthew and in the last chapter in Mark [in some versions] we find verses that form the basis for Christian Evangelism. These verses in Matthew are often referred to as the great commission. The verses in question read as follows:

28 Matthew 18-20

18 …All power is given unto me in heaven and earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

16 Mark 15-16

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Why is the commission in Matthew the one that is generally preferred? I would suggest the following reasons:

  • The end of the commission in Mark contains a condemnation many consider unworthy of Jesus.

  • Only a general reference to "believeth" is given in Mark as opposed to Matthew’s injunction to "observe all things whatsoever I have commanded". Mark stresses belief; Matthew stresses action!

  • The verses immediately following in Mark talk of speaking in tongues and snake handling and the like, practices that do not share wide appeal in the church:

    17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
    18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover

  • All of Mark beginning with verse 9 of chapter 16 through the end of his gospel is spurious. (not found in the earliest texts)

I prefer the translation of Matthew’s text as found in the Scholars Version:

All authority has been given to me in heaven and earth. You are to go and make followers of all peoples. You are to baptize them in the name of the Father and the son and the holy spirit. Teach them to observe everything I have commanded. I’ll be with you day in and day out, as you’ll see, so long as this world continues its course.

The Jesus seminar did not think that Jesus spoke these words but that they were put into his mouth from a later tradition. They give no translation of the corresponding verses in Mark because those verses are spurious and are not found in the earliest biblical manuscripts.

There Were Two Separate and Distinct Birth Narratives of Jesus. In Our Popular Culture We Tend to Merge These Into One.

The second chapter in Matthew's gospel begins: "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem." They followed a star. They found the family living in a house in Bethlehem. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They reported a plot by Herod to kill the infant. The family fled into Egypt.

The birth narrative in Luke's gospel tells the more familiar story of a journey to Bethlehem to register for a census, birth in a manger, a multitude of angels, shepherds visiting, and apparently soon thereafter a presentation in the temple at Jerusalem. There are few similarities in the two stories. Neither author betrays any knowledge of the other's story.

Jesus claims to have been sent only to the lost sheep of Israel?

Jesus' disciples came and urged him, saying, 'Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.' He answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'"

This statement of Jesus as recorded in 15 Matthew verses 23-24 seems most perplexing. Did Jesus at that time understand his mission to exclude all non-Jews?

Now a more or less liberal interpretation of the passage might be that Jesus’ expanded his horizons as he matured and that here the Canaanite woman helped him to see her as a person of need, and perhaps to see his Messiahship as broader than he had imagined.

But a conservative understanding of this statement baffles me. How does one who understands the scriptures so inspired that they could as easily have been printed in heaven see this?

Would God wish to leave the impression that his original intention was to exclude most of mankind from his concerns? Did he wish to suggest that Jesus intended to countermand his marching orders? Did God change his/her mind? Certainly the bickering of the apostles over the issue of carrying the message to the gentiles shows that some of them had grave reservations as to what was to be expected in this regard.

The Jesus seminar says: "His freedom with respect to ritual and purity taboos, and his openness to non-conforming Judeans, suggests that he would not have advocated a mission restricted to Judeans in Galilee. Such statements....were undoubtedly the creation of Matthew or his community."

Were The Ten Commandments Written For Men Or Women Or Both?

Exodus chapter twenty verse seventeen states: "Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is his thy neighbor's." Manservant and maidservant are segregated by gender but no mention of wife. The author is assumed to be addressing men.

In his book: Living In Sin - A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality, John Spong states: " The sacred covenant that provided the framework of biblical history was something between men and their male god. Not surprisingly, therefore, the law of Sini was addressed only to men. Women had few legal rights in that society. In the Decalogue the woman was mentioned in the same breath as the ox, adultery was defined as an act that violated another man's property, and coveting was perceived to be an activity in which only men could engage."

Blame it on the Jews

1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.

Compare these two phrases:

  • ...those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus...
  • ...those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus...

These phrases begin to show what power was in the hands of Biblical translators. Often times words can mean many things so translators use context and their theological perspectives in their translations.

The above two phrases illustrate the power of punctuation. The first phrase suggests that the Jews as a class killed Jesus. The second refers to a narrow group of individuals who killed Jesus. The orignal texts contained NO punctuation. The translators used punctuation to shape meaning

Family Values

Matthew 10:34-36

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn "`a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-- a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.

The role of women

1 Timothy 2:9-13

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

Which set of Commandments?

Today we often see a sanitized set of ten commandments published. They were not numbered in any of the places where they were extracted from scripture. Both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant sets are different. They both seem to have been working from a set of eleven proscriptions. The Catholics combined two commandments to arrive at ten. The Protestants combined a different two to arrive at their ten.

In the bible, what is referred to as the "Ten Commandments" are found, nearly the same, in two places in the Bible: Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Except for the commandment on the Sabath where the two versions are completely different., the gist is the same in both versions, differences become apparent when the two chapters are laid side by side. [Perhaps someone who believes in biblical inerrancy will explain to me why the two sets do not match considering the two different versions are supposedly derived from the same revelation at Mount Sinai]

Who is to lead when Jesus departs?

In the synoptic gospels, Peter is portrayed as the leader of the Christian movement. There is another early tradition mentioned in the Gospel of Thomas (found in texts discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt) as translated by the Jesus Seminar in their book: "The Five Gospels".

"The disciples said to Jesus, 'We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?' Jesus said to them, 'No matter where you are, you are to go to James the just , for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."

The Flat Earth Society

There exists a group of fundamentalists known as The Flat Earth Society - so named because they think the earth is flat. The world view of some of them was badly shaken at the space launches to the moon.

The reason they believe the earth is flat is because they regard the Authority of the Bible as absolute literal truth. They point to this passage: Isaiah 11:12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. If the earth has four corners it must be flat.

One has to admire these people in that if one is going to be literal about the Scriptures then one is expected not to pick and choose.

Am I right when I say this material is seldom discussed in Sunday School?
You are right. I have seldom heard these topics discussed in Sunday School.
I have heard some of these topics discussed occasionally in Sunday School.
You are DEAD wrong. In my experience these topics have been thoroughly discussed in Sunday School.

Your anonymous response will reach me.