Jesus vs Mithras

This video is quite typical of claims that the story of Jesus was taken from the stories of Mithras.  This video is full of errors in numerous ways.  The most obvious is the statement of the church having theological controversies in the 4th century BCE, four hundred years before Jesus!

But there are more serious errors than petty typos.  The connection between Mithraism and Zorastrianism would be contested by scholars.  Perhaps the name and figure of the Roman mystery came from the older Persian religion, but there is almost nothing in common.  Scholars teach that the Roman Mithras was basically a new creation.

A few other problems include the fact that Mithras had a much different birth (he was born of a rock not a virgin), he did not die for his followers (he never died but killed a bull).  What about Dec. 25?  That seems to be important in Mithraism but that date is not mentioned in the Bible as the date of Jesus’ birth.  It is no shock that the church took over a pagan feast date as it is more easy to transform a good party than it is to ban it.  Finally, most of the evidence we have for Mithraism is from the second century or later.  It is difficult to prove that a religion known to us from the second century is responsible for documents written in the first.

Unfortunately, people take these claims too seriously.  Before taking the word of Jesus myth theorists, take a look at the evidence and the actual myths.

Mormons and the Restoration of the Gospel

Next we are going to take a look at the Mormon understanding of the Restoration of the Gospel. This article is correct that it was a time of great religious excitement at the time Joseph Smith lived.  But it is strange that he would say that every minister and every church had a different claim to the Gospel and truth.  If you were to ask a Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist and most other denominations, they would tell you about the atonement of Jesus on the cross and the coming of the Kingdom of God.  That is the Gospel and the Gospel does not change from denomination to denomination, even if there are differences of style and polity.

I will not go into the Father having a body but I will comment on Jesus restoring the priestly authority that the church had lost.  What priestly authority?  This theme does not appear in the New Testament.  How could Jesus restore the priestly authority when he never taught it during his earthly ministry?  How could the church lose it if it was never taught?

Regarding Peter’s prophecy in Acts 3:19-21 and the restoration, that is a complete misinterpretation.  Peter is not talking about an apostasy in the church and a restoration to the church.  Peter says that this is about what the prophets foretold.  Read Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the eschatological restoration that they looked to.  This is something that will happen with the return of Jesus and the establishment of the kingdom in fullness on the new earth.

Christian Apologetics Journal

I just subscribed to the Christian Apologetics Journal put out by Southern Evangelical Seminary.  So far I have found it quite interesting and enjoyable.  The articles for the volume 8, no. 1 are:

Intelligent Design: Its Nature, Limitations, and Future by J. Thomas Bridges

Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Is There a Limit to the Medical Imperative to End Suffering and Disease? by Mark Foreman

An Assessment of Brain Death as a Means for Procuring Transplantable Organs by D. Scott Henderson

Divine Foreknowledge: Two Accounts by Matthew Graham

Two Notions of the Infinite in Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae I, Questions 2 and 46 by Richard G. Howe

20,000 Hits!

It was at the end on January 2008 that I set up this apologetics blog hoping to provide opportunities for conversation and to present the Christian faith in a reasonable way.  Just less than two years later, we have reached 20,000 hits!  Thank you for your support and do not hesitate to request posts on certain topics.

Lost Scriptures

I just finished reading Bart Ehrman’s Lost Scriptures.  I quite enjoyed this book.  It is a collection of non-canonical gospels, acts, epistles and apocalypses.  It also includes the earliest canonical lists.  There is a wide variety of theological views presented as texts are included from the Apostolic Fathers, New Testament Apocrypha and the Nag Hammadi Library.  It is quite interesting to see the theological diversity even within each of these categories.  This book is meant to be a companion volume to Ehrman’s Lost Christianities.  In that book, Ehrman suggests that the canon was wide open and then after an ecclesiastical victory, the orthodox imposed their own canon.  Reading through Lost Scriptures, one can see that the right books were chosen for the New Testament.  There really is no comparison between the quality of the canonical and the non-canonical books.  This book also blows away the theory that the church destroyed the heretical books in that for some texts all we have is what the church fathers preserved for us.  This is a good book that is worth reading.

Good New Testament Podcast

I have been listening lately to a very good New Testament podcast.  It is by biblical scholar Mark Goodacre.  I do not necessarily agree with everything he teaches but he has some great things to say.  The podcasts are scholarly thorough but also are presented in a way understandable to laypeople.  The podcasts can be found in numerous places including iTunes but you can also find them here.

Journal of Biblical Literature

I just received my first issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature.  These are the articles in volume 128, no. 4.

The Text of Genesis 17:14 by Matthew Thiessen

Deuteronomy 24:4 and King Asa’s Foot Disease in 1 Kings 15:23b by Jeremy Shipper

Eglon’s Belly and Ehud’s Blade: A Reconsideration by Lawson G. Stone

Rehabilitation Jephthah by Alice Logan

Framework and Discourse in the Book of Judges by Susanne Gillmayr-Bucher

In the Eyes of the Beholder: Unmarked Attributed Quotations in Job by Edward Ho

Rhetorical Reversal and Usurpation: Isaiah 10:5-34 and the Use of Neo-Assyrian Royal Idiom in the Construction of an Anti-Assyrian Theology by Michael Chan

“Taxo” and the Origin of the Assumption of Moses by Edna Israeli

Descending Spirit and Descending Gods: A “Greek” Interpretation of the Spirit’s “Descent as a Dove” in Mark 1:10 by Edward P. Dixon

The Johannine Prologue and Jewish Didactic Hymn Traditions: A New Case for Reading the Prologue as a Hymn by Matthew Gordley

Two Neglected Textual Variants in Philippians 1 by Brent Nongbri

A Note on 5 Ezra 1:11 and 2:8-9 by Theodore A Bergren

A Nomen Sacrum in the Sardis Synagogue by James R. Edwards