An Excerpt From a Chapter in a New Book I'm Compiling: "At Best Jesus Was A Failed Apocalyptic Doomsday Prophet"

See below:

And when we look at the New Testament we see this theme reflected in many places. In what has become known as the “Little Apocalypse,” Mark chapter 13 (cf. Matt 24), we find Jesus instructing his disciples about the time when the temple would be destroyed and the “Son of Man” comes. Making a crystal clear reference to a prophecy in the book of Daniel ('the abomination that causes desolation') Jesus tells them it will be shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in 70 A.D:
"But in those days, following that distress, " 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' "At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”
Given what we already know about the apocalyptic milieu in which Jesus preached and granting for the moment that this passage comes from the lips of Jesus, his disciples would understand exactly what he meant. The sign of the coming “Son of Man” was the distress and tribulation surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The lesson of the fig tree merely reinforces the point that just as they can predict when summer is coming when the fig leaves blossom, so also can they know the “Son of Man” is coming when they see the destruction of Jerusalem. [Critical studies of this passage lead many scholars to think Jesus probably didn’t speak of the destruction of Jerusalem here, only that he predicted the imminent coming of the “Son of Man.” Such a prediction may have been added by the author of this first gospel after the fact, leading his readers to conclude the eschaton would take place immediately based on Jesus’ prior eschatological preaching]. And as such the very generation of people living in his day will witness this apocalyptic event, which echoes clearly what we read earlier in Mark 9:1 (cf. Matt. 16:28; Luke 9:27) when Jesus says to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

Theologians have tried to construe the word “generation” in the above passage to mean “race,” as in “this race of people will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” But that is not the obvious natural reading, given the whole context. Edward Adams, Senior lecturer in New Testament Studies at King’s College, London, states it forthrightly: "It is virtually certain that 'this generation' means the generation living at the time of utterance. The time frame in this verse is thus the lifetime of Jesus' own contemporaries." [Edward Adams, The Stars Will Fall From Heaven: Cosmic Catastrophe in the New Testament and its World (New York: T & T Clark, 2007) p. 164.] We can see this from a study of the Greek word itself, in which the primary usage means “generation” rather than “race.” The translation “race” wouldn’t make any sense here anyway, since no Jew of that day would ever consider the possibility that their race of people could “pass away” given their assuredness of special divine promises of favor. We also see this from the whole context of the Jewish milieu and from what we read in the rest of the New Testament itself. We read of Jesus saying: “I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Matt. 10:23). Speaking to the Sanhedrin during his trial Jesus reportedly said, “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Mark 14:16; Matt. 26:64). The meaning is obvious.


edson said...

I have to admit, this is one of the most embarassing excerpts of the bible. Surely there is no need of playing intellectual acrobatics of apolegetics here that possibly Jesus meant this, Jesus meant that, the point is clear, the apostles expected an imminent return of Jesus and it didn't take place as they expected.

However we can still take courage through them that they are true heros, martyrs of Faith. They fought to the last breath despite their disappointment. They are my role models todays. I still use their model of faith to survive the greatest odds of my life today. As a student, I pass through greatest challenges and only that kind of hope is what helps me through. I also think that this die hard spirit is what made the West what is it today.

Harry McCall said...

This is what both Dale Allison and Bart Ehrman have pointed out in their books about Jesus as a failed apocrylpyptic prophet.

In this respect, there is no difference in the failed prediction of Jesus and the failed end times predictions of such Christian groups as the those who followed Miller (Seventh Day Adventist) and the Jehovah Witnesses.

What is clear and without a doubt is that the statement “ I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” was and is totally wrong and even could be now viewed as a flat out lie!Thus, any claims Jesus makes is wrong such as salvation with him in Heaven:

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. “And you know the way where I am going.” (John 14: 1-4)

In this respect, Christian faith is amazing. Their stereological glass is considered half full when there is really no water in it at all! Not only that, but they want the world to join them in this false hope too.

edson said...

I wouldn't dump out Jesus for this. Some of the things he said were true, for example, that he will be crucified and rise again from the dead.

It is just this failed prophecy is beyond me to understand. How can a person of credibility equivalent to that of God make that collosal error? May be christians should not take the bible too literally, that's the lesson I can learn from that.

smalltalk said...

I think the lesson should be that people shouldn't take the bible truthfully period, not just literally.

1. Many different versions of the christian myth text exist today. Each has its own translation and each translation changes the context and subtext and many times the actual detailed meaning of whatever message is trying to be communicated.

2. The earliest copy of the new testament comes from about 100 years after the alleged death of jesus. Considering item 1, there is no telling what was changed during that time.

3. There are no corroborating texts from that time period to substantiate the stories in the christian myth text. Even the works of Josephus that mention Jesus were copies from the medieval era. The earlier copies of Josephus' works don't mention Jesus.

4. The vast majority of the stories in the christian myth text are just rewordings of myth texts from earlier civilizations that were put into christian context.

5. There are thousands of museums across the world that have store rooms and store rooms of information and actual physical proof that show the myth text creations of the universe didn't happen. This applies to all creation myths not just christianity.

jbudrdanl said...

This is an interesting position to take because you are committing the same error you accuse the fundies of committing -- reading everything in the Bible on its literal face value as a 21st century American. C'mon, John, you know that hermaneutics is much more complex than that.

John W. Loftus said...

Dan, keep in mind this is merely an excerpt. When I place this "Little Apocalypse" into the context of first century Jewish apocalyptism the exegesis is straightforward, at least, that's what I think. The reason why exegesis of these type of passages is contorted and complex is preceisely because I think there is evidence that later writers of the NT sought to water down and explain away these predictions as time went on (see John 21:22-23 and II Peter 3), just like Daniel did with Jeremiah's failed 70 years prediction of the restoration of Israel which Mark's gospel and the book of Revelation did with Daniel's failed prediction in his day. This is all evidence they did what every failed apocalyptic doomsday movement must do if they are to survive, revert to "secondary exegesis." And every doomsday prophetic movement in history has been wrong to date.


ZAROVE said...

Smalltalk, th e"Mythic Christain text" has clealry never been studied by you nor had its hisotry. Neither has Josephus. ( The earliest copies we have of Josephus actulaly mentiosn Jesus, and even the "Fake" reference in the Testamonium is not considered wholly fake by modern Scholars.)

Try to read up on things.


Had it ever occured to you to look at hoe the Early Church actually udnerstood the Prophecy? It seems your applying to it the understandin of a Modern-Day Evangelical Protestant, which follows the Darby theory of the Rapture and Tribulation, and htus see in this Jeuss predictign his Second COming.

But the text relates the words of Jesus before his Crucafiction, and the text is actually a Prophecy of his Death, burial, and Ressurection. All of those things occured during the Generation contemporary to Jesus.

The Prophecy is not about his Second Coming , its about the completion of his mission and thus hte attonement of all the worlds sins, and the subsequent Formation of the Church, which was understood as the restoration of Israel to its glory with its new King, Jesus, sittign on the Right hand of God, to rule forever.

This Prophecy didn't fail, it came to pass, at approximately 30 AD, bny means of the Cross, and the later ressurection, and finally Pentecost.

Oh and before osmeone mentions it, this theology I present isn't a Raitonalisation after-the-fact to exp,ain away a difficulty int he Bibel in the form of a Failed Prophecy. This is hwo the Early Church understood the text. They did not read into it signs of the End Tmes, and did nto beeliv ein a "Great Tribulation' and rise of AntiChristt.

They saw this as Jeuss referign to the Church, and its creation as Christs Kingdom.

John W. Loftus said...

Zarove, what they expected was a cosmic conflagration where the earth was burned up by fire and a new earth and a new temple was refashioned for the righteous to reign from Jerusalem, and THAT most certainly did not happen (2 Peter 3). Read Edward Adams, "The Stars Will Fall From Heaven: Cosmic Catastrophe in the New Testament and its World." They literally expected the stars to fall from heaven! Read it and then get back to me, okay? Until then you do not know what you're talking about. That was basically the Jewish milieu I spoke about and it's clearly represented in the NT.

John W. Loftus said...

And Zarove, how can you say with a straight face that your reconstruction is not a rationalization "after the fact" based upon how the early church understood these texts? They were the first ones to offer that rationalization, even if you're correct, which you are not. You'll have to argued instead from the intertestamental literature and the NT texts themselves what the Jews and Christians expected.

Lee said...


Use a spell check. They are abundant on PCs these days.

spacecataz said...

Looks to be a good read, JL. Thanks for the update.

I used to be a typical christian who didn't know the bible very well; I'm always astonished to find such problems like this with the book. Not because of any ridiculous infallibility-type reasons, but because despite such issues, it is still taken seriously.

eheffa said...

edson said: "However we can still take courage through them that they are true heros, martyrs of Faith. They fought to the last breath despite their disappointment. They are my role models todays. I still use their model of faith to survive the greatest odds of my life today.Hi edson.

Can you explain how we know anything about these "apostles" & how they died? Josephus, Philo & other historians of the time do not mention the Jesus of the Gospels nor do they seem to have noticed this dynamic group of believers, later called Christians. Isn't that curious? It's almost as if they were never there prior to the fall of the Temple.

(That second century religious book called "The Acts of the Apostles" does not qualify as evidence by the way...)


ZAROVE said...

John, you amuse me when you demand I read a book by someone who is likely still alive and well, and living in the 21st century, whoilst castigatign me for using the Early Church Fathers.

Why shoudl I beleive Edward Adams over Iraneus, who was a Disiple of John the Apostle? Which one lived closer to the events?

Worse, I did argue form the text. You quoted Mark, not 2 Peter, which you even botch.

But using Mark alone, you cannot justify your interpretation. Yoru idea htat Jesus was talking about a Seocnd COming and an Earhtly Milliial kingdom beign established is right out of Darby's Dispensaitonalism, which is an intertrpetation that did not exist in the firts century.

No one actulaly understood Jesus's words in Mark 13 to refer to Jesus's Second Coming.

In fact, the text makes that somehting those hearing Jesus woudln't have expected anyway.

Jesus had not been Crucified yet, and was already before them. The Jews, including Jesus own FOllowers, expected HaMosheock to overthrow Israels enemies in a Military fashion and establish an Earthly rule. When Jesus spoke those things, there was no concept in any of their minds about a Second Coming.

Jesus had not even died yet.

Why woudl you assume he's talkign abotu events after hsi Ressurecitn to a crowd who had no idea he was even goign to end up on a Cross?

The way you tell it, the text is obvkously abotu hsi Second COming, but thats not obviosu if you bother to read the actual text honeslty, and withotu asusmign the Evangelical Protestant theology is the only interpetation possible.

Rathdr than Demand I read a book written by someone I've never heard of nd have no idea hwat his wualificatiosn are ( And I do read a lot, John) wnhy not actulaly try to prove me wrong.

You wat ot say that the presentaiton i gave was a Rationalisaiton to an Obviosu failed Prophecy?

You rpove it.

Tell us all here why the Evangelical Protestant intepretation fo the End Times shoudl be the way we see the Early Church understabding the text of Mark 13.

I doubt you can.

eheffa said...


Sorry, but I too would echo the request that you do a little editing & maybe a quick pass with the spell-checker before you press the "Publish Your Comment" box.

It is difficult to take your comments seriously when they are almost indecipherable for all the typos & grammatical errors.


Harry McCall said...

In Matt. 27:51-53 we read: And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Here is proof of the utter confusion of the Passion Narrative:

A. Jesus dies on the cross and the Temple veil is split.

B. The earth shook and the rocks were split (A major earthquake).

C. The tombs (all the tombs) were opened, but only the Jewish saints were raised.

D. They walk as zombies in the holy city (Jerusalem) being seen by many!

Zarove, since many in the holy city (Jerusalem) saw these raised Jewish saints (likely the Maccabees such as Mattathais, and 3 his sons Judas, Jonathan and Simon who went walking as zombies in Jerusalem) just why didn't the other Gospels, Acts or any historian of the time record this major event????.

To keep Jesus special, the phase “after his resurrection” in interpolated in the Passion Narrative into the context, but this pericope is still and odd ball with no context historically.

Funny thing is, no historian EVER mentions Matt. 27: 51 - 53. Unlike the formation of the resurrection of Jesus beginning in Mark, this legend never developed and is a totally oddity in Matt. and history!

Jeff said...

Zarove, I think you're misreading John on this one. I don't think he's talking about the "Second Coming" of Jesus. I think he's talking about the general idea of the coming "Kingdom of God" that was present in Judaism at the time (and that Jesus spoke about often). This philosophy was pretty popular at the time, and the Jews that believed it believed that God was going to use the Messiah to establish his new kingdom, including the general resurrection of the dead, the overthrowing of evil, death, and the enemies of God, and all the other fun stuff that we read about in the Bible. Jesus' prophecy had nothing to do with his second coming - that much you're right about. But it had everything to do with this kingdom of God he kept talking about all the time, and since it did not occur during that generation, the prophecy was a failure.

ZAROVE said...

eheffa, I get a lot about my spellign and ghrammer. The funny thing is, my grammer is actually not bad. For some reason peopel assume my grammer is bad because my spelling is.

However, my grammer is formal english, and not remotely bad at all.

That said, it takes a longer time to spell check when you dont know what word the spell checker is turnign your word into. I dont have all day for this.

ZAROVE said...

Harry, the ressurection of them wasn't in the form of Zombies. If you want to claim that the Bibel talks abotu zombies, you prove why your a waste of time to speak to.

Just lik your useless speculation thsat the tombs where those of the Maccabees, somethign you have no useful reason to beleive.

Also, just because it snot mentined afrerward doesnt mean much.

You prcve nothing.

ZAROVE said...

One last hting for John.

If I cant use the Church Fathers, you shouldn't use anythign written in the 21st century.

But if I can use the Church Fathers, then I'd direct you to how they ndertsood the text.

ZAROVE said...

Jeff, this is what I mean by his Evangelical Protestant Bias.

You seem to have it to.

Thats the point I've been makign thew whole time. The Kingdom of God was Established by Jeuss in the lifetime of the Generation of Jesus.

The Church is that Kingdom.

Only later Protestant theologians distinguished between the Church and the Kingdom of CHrist, and not all Protestants.

To argue that Jesus never fulfilled this Prophecy because the Kingdon was not establishe din that Generaiton ignroes the fact that Pentecost happened in that Generation.

The Kingdom has been here for 2000 or so years already.

edson said...


"Can you explain how we know anything about these "apostles" & how they died?"

Hi eheffa. I dont know exactly what extra information do you need to know about the Apostles. I am not a theologian and I am just an avarage christian who derive much of the information I know about Christianity from the holy bible and sometimes from the whisper ultras of the Holy Spirit.

The few information I have about the 12 Apostles excluding Paul is that these were the students of Jesus who were chosen by him and received an intensive training for the impending but fascinating, lucrative though tiresome and at times dangerous mission of spreading the information about the Kingdom of God throughout the world. It was not an easy job and they soon found out that it turned to be a deadly work where some of the apostles are recorded in the bible to be executed for spreading these "foolish" information.

I dont know much about the fate of some high level Apostles like Peter and Paul, however there is some hint in their letters that things were not going well about their bodily life as they were soon expecting some sort of executions. So thats all I know about the Apostles and their lives.

Now you also aked, "Josephus, Philo & other historians of the time do not mention the Jesus of the Gospels nor do they seem to have noticed this dynamic group of believers, later called Christians. Isn't that curious?"

In fact Josephus mentions Jesus. And he wondered whether it was appropriate to call Jesus a man. I am not sure if this corresponds to Jesus of the gospels or not, to you, but to me, I treat most of the accounts of the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles to be an accurate historical narrations and that all the informations unless they are doctrinal, to be correct.

AndreLinoge said...

>>>In fact Josephus mentions Jesus. And he wondered whether it was appropriate to call Jesus a man.

Many consider the Josephus passage of which you speak to be a forgery.

Jeff said...

Zarove, that is an interpretation that is highly debatable at best. I wasn't talking about anything in regards to evangelicals. I was talking about the Jews of that time period. Were they evangelical? Is that what you're trying to say? Because that's who I was talking about.

If you are entirely ignorant about the apocalyptic theology present in Judaism at the time, then you need to educate yourself on it. Many Jews of that time period believed that the "Son of Man" was going to come soon and establish the Kingdom of God in a dramatic display of power. Jesus is obviously referring to this event in Mark 13. Note how he does not actually refer to himself as said Son of Man in this passage. Over time he came to be regarded as one and the same, but there's really no indication that Jesus himself thought he was this character. So as Loftus is saying, Jesus then can be seen as an apocalyptic prophet announcing the imminent coming of this Son of Man.

You seem to think that I'm talking Christian theology here, but I'm completely avoiding it. I'm talking 1st-century Jewish eschatology right now, and so your claim that I have an evangelical bias is completely...well I'll just use the word untrue so that I'm polite. All I'm saying is that this Jewish theology was around before the church fathers you are drawing from, and whether or not Christianity took on such apocalyptic views is entirely irrelevant to the matter at hand. What the church came to believe Jesus was saying is irrelevant to what he actually meant by what he said. And that is why quoting Ehrman and other scholars who are studying this issue is more appropriate than quoting 2nd-century bishops.

edson said...



"Many consider the Josephus passage of which you speak to be a forgery."

It is hard to argue with people who follow this line of reasoning. Why do you agree with most of what Josephus says except when it comes to Jesus?

Evan said...


Many of the people who believe the TF is an interpolation are Christians, and this has been the view of many Christians for centuries.

Harry McCall said...

Harry, the ressurection of them wasn't in the form of Zombies. If you want to claim that the Bibel talks abotu zombies, you prove why your a waste of time to speak to.

Just lik your useless speculation thsat the tombs where those of the Maccabees, somethign you have no useful reason to beleive.

Zarvoe, you majored on the minor in answering my question, but as to your speculation that the risen dead were not Zombies I ask: So was the resurrection of these Jewish saints the same as Jesus' resurrected body? And if not why not? If so, how was their resurrected body the same as Jesus' in that just why could they not move though walls too. In short, how is Jesus’ resurrected body not any different from these Jewish saints?

Zarvoe, Again, just why is this one pericope that was a major religious and secular histroical event not mentioned in any other New Testament source, Jewish source, or by any known historian?

So just when did these Jewish saints die again? Did they just simply wonder around for days, months, or years only to lie back down in their tombs and request the living to reseal their tombs? And yet no one thought this was a major religious event?!
The strange thing is that both Jesus and the Jewish saints both appear to have ascended to Heaven! Or, as we now know; disappeared into thin air!

You know why? It NEVER happened! It’s simply a flat out religious HOLY lie! (Yes, the word Holy can be evil! And, as Patristic sources prove, orthodox Church Fathers can lie!)

And as far as your authority with the Church Fathers go; if they “Brown Nosed” and had power, they are labeled Church Fathers. If not, then they were heretics!

Fact is, when the Pope and the Patriarch excommunicated each other, the ONLY thing that kept either side from being totally written off in history as heretical was they were both too big and too powerful.

So, fact is Zarvoe, man,and not God dictates, orthodoxy!

ZAROVE said...

Jeff, even taking First Century Judaism as a road, you still run into problems. For one thing, the text of Mark is clealry a Christian text, which obviously focuses on a Christian Interpretation.

Besides, Judaism had many theologies at the time itself, not one unified picture of Messiah. Which one are you refering to? You seem tot hink only one view existed, which isn't truly the fact.

But even runnign with the idea, it still doens't matter. You claim Jesus did not refer to himself as the Son of Man in Mark 13, and htus di dnot identify himself as the son of Man at this time. Thats not true, since he uses the term on himself earlier in the text.

In MArk chapter two he cures a man of Palsy after forgiving his sins, and explicitly states that the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins.

Obviosuly he's refering to himself.

Here are Verses 10 and 11 to show what I mean.

10. But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)
11. I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.

Later in the same Chapter, the Pharasees cathc him and his Folows in a field eating, and they say he let them do work ont he Sabbath. he tells them the SOn of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. He sort of implies there that he's the son fo Man, doens't he?

In Mark chapter 8 he says the Son of Man must sufer many things, and be rejected byt he Elders and killed. Peter Objects, and Jesus rebuked Peter.

Peter obviusly undertsood that Jeuss was referign to himself, and all of these verses are before Mark 13.

CHapter 9 of Mark recounts the Transfiguration, and he's refered to as the Son of Man there explicitly.

Also check out chapter 10, verse 33 is most telling.

I'm sorry but its obvious that Jeus was the Son of Man accordign to the Mark Text, and htis well before Chapter 13.

Now onto the second majr problem I see, that is, what the Jews expected VS what Jesus delivered. I'd admit this is Discreoiant, but isn't this also covered in Mark? And the other Gospels?

A large part of why Jeus swas rejected by many of the Jews was because he didn't establish an Earthly Kingdom. You are right baout his, but, th uesiton is, is that how we shoudl relaly approach the text when identifyign Jeuss as obviously a Failed Apocalyptic Prophet?

If e go with CHristain beelifs though, which is hat John is tryign to debunk, you'd be faced with Jeuss in the GOspel of John telling Pilate his Kingdom was not of this world.

Christian understanding in all Four GOspels has alays been that Jesus was misunderstood, and that hthe Earlier Generation fo Jews had misunderstood the Messianic Prphecies. Before someone challenges this as arrogant, keep in mind CHristianity started itself as a Jewish Sect, so its Jews sayign older Jewish understandign was wrong.

And my point is, if you want to discredit Christanity, you have t do it by showing CHristian claism as inconsistant. You cna't do that by sayign they are inconsostant with beleifs Christasn claim where wrong.

If CHristianity is right, then Jesus's Kingdom was established in the form of the Churh, and those expecting a Physical Kingdom with a COnwiuering King who Physiclaly vanquished the foes of Israel and took over the world whrre simply mistaken in what to expect.

But, John seems to want us to beelive they culdn't possibley have been mistaken in what to expect. Even thugh Jihn argues that all Prophecy is foolish and its a mistake to ebeliv ein it, he won't allwo Quarter for a Christain understanding he earlier Jews as havign been mistaken.

So what Im saying in the end is, it doens't matter if every Jew ont e planet beleived Messiah woudl establish a Physical Kingdom, because in a CHristain interpretation, they where simply mistaken.

It doenst relaly discredit Christianity, it just shows disagreement.

Now Im not sayign Ive proven CHristanity correct here, I'm just sayign that Johns Argument doenst prove it wrong.

ZAROVE said...

Harry , I wont answer everythgin you said,but Ill saythis abotthe Zombie claim.

The bodies may have just been regular Human bodies. THis woudlnt make them XZombies as they'd be very much alive, just iek us.

So, your not relaly getting anywhere iwht this line of thought.

Harry McCall said...

Again Zarove; do you ONLY answer the small zombie section because you are totally stumped on the other question i bring up?

Zarove: You have a major earthquake hitting Jerusalem about 28 - 33 CE. Only Matt. mentions it with confusion as to the details. Neither Philo nor Josephus mention it! Nor does naturalist Pliny the Elder never mentions it!

Dead Jewish saints come out of their graves and roamed the streets of Jerusalem for god knows how long and NO ONE ever mentions this major religious event given by God: Not Mark, Luke, John nor Acts!It’s little wonder you feel safe with the zombie question as this section of Matt. is a major embarrassment!

Jeff said...


For one thing, yes I know there were different theologies in Judaism. I never claimed there weren't. What I was mentioning was just one fairly popular one.

However, about the "Son of Man" references, it gets a bit tricky. After all, "son of man" was a general term at the time that could simply mean "person." In other words, I'm a son of man, you're a son of man. However, as a result of the apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel, Son of Man (here I'll use capitals to denote the difference) took on another meaning as the Messiah figure. Unfortunately, the Greek that the authors wrote in did not distinguish between capital and lower-case letters. There was no method to distinguish between these two meanings of the phrase. But obviously it has important implications. Is Jesus saying he's human, or is he specifically claiming he is the Messiah? It's not entirely clear, but what we cannot do is simply white-wash it all and assume that he was always talking about himself as the Messiah/Son of Man. (You'll notice that most/all translations of the Bible will capitalize the term, and this is misleading.)

So anyway, with that said, we can clearly assume that in Mark 13, Jesus is speaking about Son of Man (capitals). It's combined with this vivid apocalyptic language, so it's pretty obvious that it's meant to be Daniel's Messiah figure. The other references you mention, however, can feasibly be interpreted as meaning "son of man" (no capitals). Verses 27-28 say, "And he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; so the son of man is lord even of the sabbath." What it seems to be saying is not that Jesus (Son of Man) is Lord of the Sabbath, but rather that humans are greater in importance than the Sabbath.

At any rate, what I'm saying is that we must be careful to simply assert that Jesus was referring to himself when he talks about the Son of Man. Certainly, later Christian traditions began to conflate the two, but it's not at all clear that Jesus himself intended this connection.

At any rate, I think it's important to remember that it's not about what the Jews thought Jesus meant here, and not about what later Christians thought Jesus meant here, but rather what Jesus actually meant when he said it. Obviously this is tricky to tease out of the text, but Erhman's view that John is repeating here, is that Jesus was speaking as a prophet about an imminent eschaton - the coming of the Kingdom of God. This idea is consistent with one Jewish theology of that time period, and I think it's fairly consistent with the earliest text that we have, the Gospel of Mark.

You are free to dispute his view, but quoting church fathers and asserting Christian theology is not the way to do so. You need to explain why Jesus would use apocalyptic eschatological imagery and direct references to previous apocalyptic literature to refer to something that was not at all eschatological. Why would Jesus essentially say "the end is coming" to refer to something that was invisible and not signalling "the end" of anything? Moreover, you then need to explain what Jesus meant by phrases like "desecrating sacrilege" (v.14), "stars falling from heaven" (v.25), the "Son of Man coming in the clouds" (v.26), and the angels "gathering the elect" (v.27). None of these things happened around the time of Jesus' death and resurrection, so what the hell was he talking about if he wasn't referring to Daniel's prophecy?

ZAROVE said...

Harry, earthwuakes happen all the time. Do you really think thats all that unbeleivable?

The reason i didnt answer your question is because its useless to, you dont care about the answer.

You never seem to say anythign relevant.

By the way, I hope you dont actulaly think Pliney was a Naturalist, at least not in the modern sense.

Harry McCall said...

Zarvoe: Harry, earthwuakes happen all the time. Do you really think thats all that unbeleivable?

Re: And I guess dead people come to life all the time too. So what’s the big deal about Jesus’ resurrection? Are we to believe resurrections were a normal theological event in the Jewish world?

You've got your intellectual nuts in a vice here and don't know how to get them out since your precious Church Fathers only say: Duh!
Zarove; The reason i didnt answer your question is because its useless to, you dont care about the answer.

Re: Then why do I continue to ask you about the text of Matt.? You ignore that which you and your orthodox group can not answer!

You can’t answer me because I want the truth and don’t give a damn about supporting orthodox dogmas!

Zarove; You never seem to say anythign relevant.

Re: Your major problem is you equate theology with truth. So once “sinful man” defines anything as orthodox, you think you have the eternal truth!

Zarove; By the way, I hope you dont actulaly think Pliney was a Naturalist, at least not in the modern sense

Re: Please tell me how Pliny the Elder died! That’s my definition of a Naturalist!!

edson said...


You have no reason to doubt that the TF remark about Jesus is authentic. The major reasons that many people use to argue about the authenticity of Josephus remark is that why did Josephus mention unequovically that Jesus was Christ and yet still stay a proud jew? And in that piece that you gave me to read there was one skeptic arguing " no Jewish writer would offer such laudatory remarks about Jesus."

In fact I want to tell you that when Jesus rose from the dead he appeared to many people even to those who crucified him, the jewish clergy and the Romans. It was not something underground as many of the skeptics and atheists tend to think. Josephus heard about it for these were big news in Jerusalem. The powerful jewish clergy played these news down and by any means made everything possible to brush off the Jesus story. It seems Josephus was somehow connected to the clergy or was just a very religious jew such that even though he knew that Jesus was Christ he was not willing to disappoint the clergy by forsaking his identity. To say the truth - the Jesus story is less appealing to religious jews.

I'd love to relate to you this story of the famous Rabbi in Israel who passed away recently, if I correctly remember, in 2007 - Yitzhak Kaduri. Shortly before his death he wrote a note, which he urged to be opened one year after his death, in which he said he wrote the name of the messiah. After they had opened the note, they were astonished to find the hidden names translated as Yehoshua-the hebrew name for Jesus, and started to recall the sermons he used to give about messiah potraying all the reminiscent of Jesus of the New Testament, such that they wondered was Kaduri a christian all this time? Of course he was a jew. Find his full story here,

The point I wanted to make by giving this story is this. One could have known that Jesus was the messiah without being a christian, just like Josephus and Kaduri. There is a huge difference between knowing Jesus intellectually and knowing him spiritually. Many of the skeptics know the bible in and out but christians have been touched by the bible at their hearts.

eheffa said...


The Testimonium Flavium cannot be relied upon as an authentic part of Josephus' writings.

For a more complete analysis of this question please have a look at Earl Doherty's comprehensive essay entitled "Josephus on the Rocks" at
( You have to scroll through a few links to find it - poor web design but good scholarship.)

The only way to consider this passage in Josephus as authentic is to be either desperate or dishonest - (like some of our apologetic contemporaries like Strobel or McDowell). It does not get quoted or noted until the time of Eusebius (4th Century CE)despite the fact that The Antiquities of the Jews was well known & cited by several Christian Authors prior to that time.

Don't you find it curious that the Gospels tell us that Jesus Christ was famous throughout the Palestine region for all his miraculous works & wondrous sayings and yet apart from these undated, anonymous evangelistic tracts we call the Gospels, no one outside the faith noticed either him or his followers even being there?

You noted earlier that the apostles died for their faith and yet apart from Stephen (in that second century book called "The Acts of the Apostles", there is not other canonical mention of any apostolic martyrdom. The myths of Peter's & Paul's ultimate executionary deaths are little more than the usual church fables. This information without some sort of corroborating evidence should be regarded with the same credulity as the multiple pieces of the cross & the oh-so authentic Shroud of Turin.

Unfortunately, the Church has been in the business of fabricating stories and evidence since its very inception. The New Testament is itself a collection of works, authored by anonymous individuals posing as companions of Jesus or as the great prophet Paul when it is clear that they were neither. Despite their pious fraud, their writings are regarded as Holy Spirit inspired "Scripture".

The whole thing wreaks of man-made fabrication & religious fraud.

If you are interested in truth over dogma, you owe it to yourself to investigate the origins of these texts & decide for yourself if you think the God of all Truth would have had anything to do with such a gross fraud.


ZAROVE said...

On the Testamonium, I think both of you are makign a common error. You are botjh arguing form a position that is on oposite extremes, that ar epresented as the only two optio. Either the Segment was part of the original texrt as we have it now, or it is a compelte forgery.

The trouble with this is, its not quiet that simple.

Actually most scholars these days see the Disputed Fragment of the Testamonium as actually part of the text. Only a Minority actulaly think the entire text is an interpolation. Every copy of he Testamonium we have contians it, even those in Aramic and Syriac.

Also, dispite the common claims in some Ahtiestic literature, the text isn't relaly clumvbsily inscerte dintot he text, and to remove it causes mroe of a break than elaving it in.

Besides, there is a Second reference to Jesus in the Testamonium no one disputes except extreme Christ Mythers, which mentiosn James as the Brother of Jesus. If Jesus was nto well known, why woudl he be mentioned? And if Jesus was well known, why woudl Josephus leav ehim out?

Most Shcolars do not,however, beleive the Passage we recieve today is identical to the one Josephus wrote, and instead htink it has been edited. Note, I said edited, not fully created.

In fact, Christaisn likly woudln't have crreated the text wholesale since it includes insulting language when descrinign Christains. Callign them a "Tribe" at the itme wodl ahve been derogitory.

Why woidl a Christian Author odf the text say this?

Mor eliekly, a Christain editor simply added a bit to the text, to note who Jesus was accordign to his beleifs.

This is, in fact, shored up by the Aramic copies of Josephus we have, and of the ealrist Church Father refernece to the Testamonium, which lack reference to Jesus as the CHrist, or says he was a "So-called" CHrist as in the second reference.

Indeed, in Syriac and Aramic versiosn of Josephus, we have clear evidence that the passage was soemwhat shroter and less kingd to Jesus.

We can then be assured, oif not fully assured, that the passage was most likely genjine btu altered, and the original may have read soemthign like this. (THis is jus one version form schoalrship.)

""Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, a teacher. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was called the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; And the tribe of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.""

This woudl fit with the seocnd passage we knwo is Genuine.

""But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought it before the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.""

Its obvious that Josephus does mention jesus as noeworthy, if minor.

It smore liekly that Josephus's reference to Jeuss was genuien btu suffered alteraiton than to assume the hwoel passage is fake, and that is the real consensus amongst schoalrs hwo study this, nto that it was enturley forged.

Here is another version fo the text, fromt he Arabic.

"At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders" - Shlomo Pines' translation, quoted by J. D. Crossan

The Syriac Verisosn we have also say "We was beelived to be the Christ", rather htan "He was the CHrist". THis indicates that the text may have simply been altered from a position stating a groups beelifs to one stating a fact about Jesus as Messiah.

So really, the "Obvious forgery" thats "Well established" likely sint a forgery, and Josephus liekly did refer to Jesus as a person in Hisotry. He just likely didnt call hi the Christ, or a worker of marvelous deeds.

Harry McCall said...

The authority book on the Testimonium Flavianum was recommended to be by the Josephian scholar Steve Mason: Josephus on Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Late Antiquity to Modern Times by Alice Whealey.
My conclusion on this section of Josephus will be posted in an up coming article here at DC.

ZAROVE said...

Oh and I misse di tbut...

Jeff, the problem with Ehrmans intepretaiton is that his is enturley speculative too. WHy ut we asusme Jeuss was not referign to himself as the Son Of Man (Capped)? Just ebcause its conveneint for WEhrmans intepretation of the vents and fits Ehrmans view of Jesus?

Ehrman offered no real reaosn to assume his intepretation was correct other than accpeting a Priori that Jesus didnt consider himself Messiah.

Its mainly abse don his view of who Jesus was, which is just as tenuous as any Church Fathers or modern Christians.

WHy shoudl his be given spem special differance as more plasuable, and given a pass from Critisism, when CHristains have to jump throguh hoops to support their view only to be tld they are baised and their views dont count?

Jeff said...

I never said you were biased or your views didn't count. Did I say that anywhere? No. I only kept the issue about the Son of Man/son of man going because it's important to realize this ambiguity. In other words, we can't pin it down and say, "Well of course Jesus wasn't just a prophet, because he claimed to be the Messiah!" The ambiguity at least gives plausibility to Ehrman's interpretation. It may very well be that Jesus did want to make that connection to himself - we may never know for sure. I'm just saying that it's not clear, so we need to be careful not to simply assume Jesus was talking about himself as this Son of Man figure. That's all I was saying.