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Questions about the Nativity [Where's You're Jesus Now!]
The Boston Globe ^ | 12/23/2003 | James Carroll

Posted on 12/23/2003 4:19:43 AM PST by johnny7

Edited on 04/13/2004 2:11:15 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

OUR CALENDAR assumes that Jesus was born in the year 0 -- but was he? Scholars, noting a mistaken calculation by the 6th century sage who invented a scheme of time to honor a "Christian era," tell us that Jesus was born in the year 4 BC. But was he?


(Excerpt) Read more at boston.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: christianity; christmas; jesus
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-86 next last
But is any of it factual?

Yea... it's just some mumbo-jumbo. At least a golden idol is something of value.

1 posted on 12/23/2003 4:19:44 AM PST by johnny7
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To: johnny7
Sarcasm aside, can you explain the differences of the Gospels?
2 posted on 12/23/2003 4:25:30 AM PST by joesbucks
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To: johnny7; billbears; 4ConservativeJustices; stainlessbanner
But most Christians are effectively fundamentalist in their beliefs, with little capacity for critical thought about sources,

Not only are we the bad guys, we're also stupid. Do any of you see something like a tribulation sorta brewing?

3 posted on 12/23/2003 4:32:34 AM PST by Ff--150 (What is, Is)
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To: joesbucks

The author has not been given the gift of faith. As Jesus said after his post-resurrection encounter with Thomas, the doubter,"Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29) Without the gift of faith, understanding God's plan of salvation though Jesus is like trying to fathom eternity.
4 posted on 12/23/2003 4:34:54 AM PST by kittymyrib
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To: johnny7
Another vain attempt to secularize the birth of Christ. It's notable that anyone can pose questions; it's much harder to provide any answers.

By the way, nitwit, "your" is the second person possessive. "You're" is a contraction of "you are." As in "Your arguments tend to lack credibility when you don't even speak the language coherently."

5 posted on 12/23/2003 4:35:26 AM PST by IronJack
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To: johnny7
"In the early 21st century, religious fundamentalism has shown itself to be a danger to peace. In the West, it is commonly assumed that Islam is the problem, with many Muslims at the mercy of an intolerant rigidity of belief. But most Christians are effectively fundamentalist in their beliefs, with little capacity for critical thought about sources, doctrines, and theology. Church leaders and scholars have kept it this way for the sake of their own power, but in a new era of inflamed religious conflict, childish passivity by a broad population in matters of faith is irresponsible."

Suprised it took until end of article to slip in the comparison. Sounds like we need government intervention in religion to protect us from christian fundamentalists. Same way we needed government intervention to protect us from all those dangerous political ads before an election.

6 posted on 12/23/2003 4:37:26 AM PST by Klickitat
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To: kittymyrib
So are the scriptures infallable?
7 posted on 12/23/2003 4:38:59 AM PST by joesbucks
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To: johnny7
"Christian lay people are discouraged from such lines of inquiry, because thinking critically about small matters may lead to a difficult confrontation with ultimate ones."

The author of this peice doesn't have even a passing knowledge of Christian theology. We are not merely encouraged to think critically but rather commanded to do so.

It is "thought" that the census happened in 6 AD, hmmm that's definitive. The Gospels were written by committee, say modern scholars who may or maynot be right and yet we should take their jaundiced opinions because...well....just because they're scholars and you're not.

This article is loaded w/ horse dung meant to insult Christians. Only a fool would approach such an important subject w/ so little knowledge and evident hostility.

Could it be that you fear the truth and so take cover behind some convenient lie?

8 posted on 12/23/2003 4:41:41 AM PST by Pietro
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To: joesbucks
There aren't really "differences". Note that the author concludes that since Matthew didn't write about the taxation trip, that he must have believed that Joseph and Mary already lived in Bethlehem. However, the TRUTH is that the conjecture is on the part of the modern author. It's really hard to conclude that Matthew is ASSERTING that Mary and Joseph already lived in Bethlehem.

The Gospels do not purport to be complete in every detail. They were written with different perspectives for different audiences.

There have been various attempts to "harmonize" the Gospels so that the common truths can be extracted. Most have been academic endeavors which are really not much fun to read. [Who wants to read Robertson's book in four disjoint columns of discontiguous text?]

I found one of the best "harmonies of the Gospels" was written by the Baptist, Johnston Cheney. Unfortunately, the book seems to be out of print. Cheney was a student of Greek and decided to take some stories of the Gospels and blend them together using Greek texts. He found that he could combine all the Gospels together into one continuous story.

He developed a terminal illness and made the completion of the book his life work. He died shortly after completing it.

The chronology of the birth of Christ is actually child's play if one is looking for harmony, rather than imagining discord, like the author of this article. An interesting fact to be gleaned from careful reading is that the wise men did NOT arrive the night that Christ was born. Therefore, all the nativity scenes are historically flawed. Now some feel the Joseph and Mary had moved back to Nazareth by that time while others feel that Joseph and Mary had stayed in Bethlehem after the birth. But, does it really matter? Is there error in the Bible, or simply incompleteness?

A rather interesting part of Cheney's harmony is the story of the crucifixion. Cheney says it all flowed together and he didn't have to leave anything out.

Another interesting point is that Cheney's harmony indicates a four year ministry of Christ. Johnston claims to have found four Passover celebrations in the course of the four Gospels.
9 posted on 12/23/2003 4:43:43 AM PST by the_Watchman
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To: joesbucks
As much as words can be infalliable. It's the inerrant word of God. That means it is merely a history book.
10 posted on 12/23/2003 4:44:33 AM PST by AppyPappy (If You're Not A Part Of The Solution, There's Good Money To Be Made In Prolonging The Problem.)
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To: AppyPappy
That means it isN'T merely a history book.
11 posted on 12/23/2003 4:45:07 AM PST by AppyPappy (If You're Not A Part Of The Solution, There's Good Money To Be Made In Prolonging The Problem.)
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To: johnny7
At the risk of being banned from posting on this site,
The very questioning of the Gospels and our beliefs that were a part of our great country for centuries have suddenly become politically incorrect.

Damn political correctness, why have Christians suddenly become the minority and second class citizens.

I thought at first that this year was the first year that I did not feel like it was Christmas, a time for hope and giving. I thought that it was something from within me, but it isn't from within, there is a major push to take away a collective spiritual feeling in our nation.

Our President should not have to cave in to special interest groups or religions to stop a Christian Christmas. I would have expected this to happen under clinton.

12 posted on 12/23/2003 4:45:38 AM PST by stopem
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To: joesbucks
"Can you explain the difference in the Gospels"

There are no differences. Most of the so-called discrepencies come from some scholar's attempt to disprove Scripture. Matthew 2:1 simply says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. Matthew does not get into why they were in Bethlehem, but he does go on to indicate that their proper home was in Nazareth. Luke explains that they were in Bethlehem to be counted and taxed in accordance with Caesar's proclaimation. Now Matthew says that after the visit of the Magi, the Holy Family fled to Egypt for two years until Herod died. Luke simply says that after they had done everything the Lord required of them, they returned to Nazareth. Again, there is no discrepency. Luke (who was writing to a Roman audience) simply doesn't bother mentioning the trip to Egypt because it's not important to Roman Christians. It is important to Jewish Christians, which is why Matthew talks about it.
Now the date of all of this is in dispute. We know Herod the Great died in 4 BC. We know that there were several censi and taxations taken under Caesar Augustus. I'm not sure when Quirinus was Governor of Syria. We know that there was a gathering a planets in a certain constellation that would indicate to eastern astrologers the birth of a king in Israel- possibly the star of Bethlehem- in 5-6 BC. Basically, the Nativity ocurred in 5-6 BC.
13 posted on 12/23/2003 4:55:49 AM PST by bobjam
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To: Ff--150
Not only are we the bad guys, we're also stupid. Do any of you see something like a tribulation sorta brewing?

They make us out to be stupid. And yes on the latter - it's getting closer and closer.

Notice the text states "that the three Wise Men traveled from the East". The Bible does NOT state that there were THREE wise men. They did not find Jesus in Bethlehem in a manger. The magi found him in "the house", where "they saw the young child with Mary his mother." (KJV Mat 2:11).

14 posted on 12/23/2003 5:08:02 AM PST by 4CJ (Come along chihuahua, I want to hear you say yo quiero taco bell. - Nolu Chan, 28 Jul 2003)
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To: 4ConservativeJustices
"The magi found him in "the house", where "they saw the young child with Mary his mother." (KJV Mat 2:11)"

Great points! "Magi"s--magic men??! Why would magicians seek the Lord?

15 posted on 12/23/2003 5:15:26 AM PST by Ff--150 (What is, Is)
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To: joesbucks
The gospels are told from different viewpoints and show different aspects of Christ's character. Different details are included win each (with a great deal of overlap.)

Joseph and Mary were living in Nazareth, went to Bethlehem for the census intending to stay, possibly to avoid the embarrasment aof what would have been considered by neighbors a scanalous birth.

The baby was born shortly after they arrived and was placed in a manger because there was no room in the inn. The shepherds came immediately; the wise men arrived much later and found them living in a house in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:11). (No wise men were by the manger - sorry, the nativity scenes are definitely NOT infallible.)

Shortly after that, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled to Egypt to escape Herod, who was having all boys under the age of 2 killed - that age was selected based on the age Jesus would have been at the time. They stayed in Egypt for about two years, until after Herod's death. (Note - our calendars aren't infallible either. It is likely that Jesus was born a little more than 2003 years ago. There have been sveral revisions along the way that make it difficult to detemine exactly when He was born (and when Herod died.)

They intended to return to Bethlehem, but when they heard that Herod's brother was ruling there, the went back to Nazareth instead.

This narrative comes from a combining of the two accounts of the birth of Jesus. (Mark and John make no mention of his birth.) It wasn't very difficult.

The Globe reporter is a clueless hack.
16 posted on 12/23/2003 5:19:39 AM PST by Gil4
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To: joesbucks
The error is in our failing to interpret Scripture by
allowing it to detrmine the interpretation. Paula is wrong
her interpretation errs in facts she has not yet learned.
May be her understanding of the time or place-or audiance.
May be ethnocentric -May even be a misreaidng of historic
fact-such has happend many times before.Those who claim
the Bible is rife with error and contradiction are
simply as those described by Paul ( formerly known as Saul of Tarsus) In his letter to the believers at Rome in
what we commonly refer to as Romans Chapter 1 verses 18-32)
17 posted on 12/23/2003 5:22:46 AM PST by StonyBurk
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To: johnny7
But most Christians reporters are effectively fundamentalist in their secularist beliefs, with little capacity for critical thought about sources, doctrines, and theology. Church leaders Editors and scholars have kept it this way for the sake of their own power, but in a new era of inflamed religious conflict,(which is basically the same old conflict) childish passivity by a broad population in matters of the secularist faith is irresponsible.

I have examined the claims of Christianity fairly critically - that's a big part of how I became a Christian. Generally (with rare exceptions) whan I ask skeptics if they have read the Bible, the answer is "no." They just reject it uncritically.

18 posted on 12/23/2003 5:30:51 AM PST by Gil4
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To: johnny7
Was he at war with "the Jews"? Or was he a fierce opponent -- as a Jew -- of empire? What empire would he oppose today? Has the author even read the Gospels? Jesus made clear that he was not here to battle the authority of this world (i.e. "Give to Caesar that which is Caesar's"), but to save mankind for God's kingdom in Heaven.
19 posted on 12/23/2003 5:31:09 AM PST by Roberts
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To: IronJack
Crucify me.
20 posted on 12/23/2003 5:35:47 AM PST by johnny7 (“If you are being murdered, raped or molested... please hold... ”)
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To: johnny7
Proverbs 10:8
The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

I expect Mr Carroll to come to ruin in the next life.

21 posted on 12/23/2003 5:47:20 AM PST by smith288 (Secret member of the VRWC elite forces)
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To: Ff--150
Great points! "Magi"s--magic men??! Why would magicians seek the Lord?

Magis - court astrologers - they asked Herod (KJV Mat 2:2), "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." Now why would they travel so far to worship a child?

22 posted on 12/23/2003 5:47:34 AM PST by 4CJ (Come along chihuahua, I want to hear you say yo quiero taco bell. - Nolu Chan, 28 Jul 2003)
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To: johnny7
"If we chose to grant credibility to one," the scholar Paula Fredriksen writes, "it comes at a cost to the other: Both cannot be true."

These people kill me. I've been reading the same texts for 35 years that she is reading, and I read them in the language they were written in, like she does, and I can't see why differences have to be contradictions any more than if we were all reading 4 people's account, directed to 4 different audiences at 4 different times, of the planes flying into the towers.

When we all have the same texts I'm not sure how Paula gets to be an "expert" in them and a million Christians are not. This reminds me of those psychologists who are regularly interviewed by the press as "experts" in child rearing, who may or may not have kids of their own.

Reporters, because they are NOT learned in any particular subject, have an inability to judge expertise. They think anybody with a degree, who has read a bunch of books, and who -- most importantly -- is cynical like they are -- well, that must be an expert.

23 posted on 12/23/2003 5:49:33 AM PST by Taliesan
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To: johnny7
"But the Gospel of Luke says that Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem from their home in Nazareth to comply with the empire-wide census order of the Caesar Augustus, and some such decree is thought to have been issued after Herod died, perhaps as late as AD 6.

They should be embrassed to be so easy to out. Matthew and Luke in no way contradict each other.

24 posted on 12/23/2003 6:00:39 AM PST by MissAmericanPie
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To: johnny7
This is patently idiotic from the first sentence.

There is no year 0, the calendar goes from -1 to 1.
25 posted on 12/23/2003 6:03:45 AM PST by Ham Hock
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To: johnny7
I can't understand why Joseph would have forced his nine months' pregnant wife to make a long trip, over what I imagine is some difficult terrain, to Bethlehem, simply so he could register for his taxes. It's more likely she would have stayed at home with relatives.
26 posted on 12/23/2003 6:09:24 AM PST by Agnes Heep
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To: joesbucks
The difference in the gospels are the apostles themselves. Best way I can tell you is that I have two sisters. When we get together each one of us tells stories about when we were younger and living at home. Strange thought how each one of us sees the same stories in different prespectives. We saw the same incidents but each of us tell the story different. The apostles talked and walked with Jesus but each one tells it different. Remember they all came from different backgrounds and they all saw things different. People are all that way. After a time lapse we remember things different. This Christmas when you get together with your loved one, listen to how they tell the same story but in different ways. I remember going drinking with my buddy one night. The next day we talked about it and I don't remember having as much fun as my buddy claims we had. Each one of us tells the same story but in a totally different way.
27 posted on 12/23/2003 6:27:18 AM PST by shiva
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To: Ham Hock
There is no year 0, the calendar goes from -1 to 1.

Yep, the first of many errors.

SD

28 posted on 12/23/2003 6:35:45 AM PST by SoothingDave
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To: the_Watchman
An interesting fact to be gleaned from careful reading is that the wise men did NOT arrive the night that Christ was born. Therefore, all the nativity scenes are historically flawed.

The popular image of the nativity, with the wise men, is indeed flawed. Catholics have historically refrained from placing the wise men figures into their nativity scenes until the Epiphany (Jan. 6, the "twelfth day of Christmas") when we celebrate this very visitation as a seperate occasion. It symbolizes, among other things, that Jesus came to be the Light of the World for Gentiles as well as Jews.

SD

29 posted on 12/23/2003 6:38:22 AM PST by SoothingDave
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To: johnny7
perhaps Mary's virginity

Now that's just a cheap shot. While Luke 2:7 indicates that Mary was not a perpetual virgin (refering to Jesus as her firstborn son, indicating that there were others to follow), the virgin birth of Jesus is what makes his completely free of sin. The author is just being mean.
30 posted on 12/23/2003 6:45:15 AM PST by jtminton (2Timothy 4:2)
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To: johnny7
Questions about the Nativity [Where's You're Jesus Now!]

A grammer correction is due: "You're" is incorrect. You're is a contraction of "You are".

You should have used, "Your".

31 posted on 12/23/2003 6:45:20 AM PST by AxelPaulsenJr (Excellence In Posting Since 1999)
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To: johnny7
Interesting that such a piece of junk has been vomited forth from Boston, the lair of the Kennedyites.

The fact of the matter is the Romans themselves, through Tacitus and Jospehus acknowledge that a certain Jesus was crucified about the time he supposedly was, in Palestine, and that he had a group of followers.

The fact is that hte records which have survived from Roman times are far from complete, that there were really not the kinds of newssources that exist in the modern world, that what went on in Palestine was of little interest to the Romans apart form its potential impact on their control of that region.

This article reeks of religious bias and half-truths.
32 posted on 12/23/2003 6:52:18 AM PST by ZULU
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To: AppyPappy
The "author" from the Globe prefers history books written by "scholars". Books like the textbooks in our public schools that have Thanksgiving as a party thrown by the Pilgrims to thank the Indians.
33 posted on 12/23/2003 6:57:58 AM PST by dougs2cents (Opinions ... everybody's got one.)
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To: johnny7
OUR CALENDAR assumes that Jesus was born in the year 0

Wow. He starts off with a really stupid factual error, and it goes downhill from there. In the Gregorian Calendar, there is NO Year Zero. The year 1BC (Before Christ) is followed by the year 1 AD (Anno Domini; Year of Our Lord).

34 posted on 12/23/2003 6:59:41 AM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: joesbucks
Sarcasm aside, can you explain the differences of the Gospels?

It's not that hard. They were written by different, diligent, researchers attempting to honestly and accurately describe reports of an unusual event in an age before telegraphs and railroads and printing presses much less television and computers.

There is a aphorism in fields such as journalism, law, and police work that if two witnesses give the exact same story the only thing you can be sure of is that both are lying.

It's not the differences in the Gospels that are important it's the parts that stay the same.

35 posted on 12/23/2003 7:03:16 AM PST by Tribune7 (David Limbaugh never said his brother had a "nose like a vacuum cleaner")
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To: johnny7
Ah yes, it's Christmas time again for sure.

From the Learning Channel to every undereducated journalist who fashions himself to be an expert in all things Bible--we once again get the attempt to plant seeds of doubt concerning Jesus and Holy Writ.

As far as the Magi. The prophet Daniel gives the answer. They knew precisely when the King would be born and came looking for Him.

Joy to the world-- He's coming again and then all your kingdoms are belong to us.
36 posted on 12/23/2003 7:09:16 AM PST by WalterSkinner
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To: johnny7
So the point of this article seems to be that no one can say for certain exactly what year Christ was born.

That being the case then the whole calendar is screwed.

The book of Luke does in fact give far more information than the author has the capacity to understand. The key to the clues of when the conception occurred come from what we are told about Zacharias the Levi priest. The timeframe "of the course of Abia" tells the time of year when Elizabeth conceived John.

Six months later Mary conceived Christ. Interesting how the author with no ability to read with understand wants to paint Christians as the real troublemakers.
37 posted on 12/23/2003 7:21:03 AM PST by Just mythoughts
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To: Klickitat; dighton
Suprised it took until end of article to slip in the comparison.

Oh, you're overlooking the best part! And he waited until the VERY end to wedge this one in:

Or was he a fierce opponent -- as a Jew -- of empire? What empire would he oppose today?

(dighton, another "cat-tongued segue" for you.)

38 posted on 12/23/2003 7:22:22 AM PST by hellinahandcart
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To: sauropod; Thinkin' Gal
James Carroll dives into a clear lake in search of muddy water.
39 posted on 12/23/2003 7:24:42 AM PST by hellinahandcart
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To: hellinahandcart; aculeus; general_re
If you expect the worst from James Carroll, you will not be disappointed.

Footnote.

40 posted on 12/23/2003 7:35:37 AM PST by dighton
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To: sauropod
So, to sum up:

The Gospels are not four duplicate posts, so Christ wasn't real. Christians are stupid. It is not what one believes, but belief itself, that is the problem, so Christianity is as bad as Islam. But since you stupid people DO believe, you HAVE to believe that Jesus would have hated America as much as I do.
41 posted on 12/23/2003 7:38:23 AM PST by hellinahandcart
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To: dighton
He's a LAPSED PRIEST?? Stunning.

But it's always good news for the flock, when an incompetent shepherd decides to hang up his staff...
42 posted on 12/23/2003 7:46:19 AM PST by hellinahandcart
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To: hellinahandcart
I think you've just written the "executive summary" of his article. Wish you had posted this first...would have saved time reading the rantings of an unlearned Boston Globe hack.
43 posted on 12/23/2003 7:48:29 AM PST by Moosilauke
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To: Agnes Heep
Maybe agnes, because the Romans ordered it under penalty of death. They were worse than the irs. The requirement was for all people to be present and register. You couldn't send a power of attorney.

44 posted on 12/23/2003 7:49:14 AM PST by DeathfromBelow
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To: joesbucks
So are the scriptures infallable?

(he reaches and takes the bait...) - Joe - The word of God revealed in scripture is infallable.

45 posted on 12/23/2003 8:25:21 AM PST by martin gibson
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To: johnny7
Unfortunately, we get these sorts of crap articles every year, with some wise-guy thinking he has (Eureka!) discovered the 'key' to debunking The Bible and Jesus. Well, that debunking has been tried for centuries by a lot smarter people than this clown, and nobody has yet succeeded in blowing holes in the veracity of either.

In the early 21st century, religious fundamentalism has shown itself to be a danger to peace... But most Christians are effectively fundamentalist in their beliefs, with little capacity for critical thought about sources, doctrines, and theology.

This ignoramus is merely trying to tar and feather "fundamentalist" Christians by equating them with Islamics and then "proving" their knuckle-dragging ways by using long-discredited Biblical criticisms.

It pathetic, really.

But, there are some people who don't know any better (including some on this forum) who hang on every word out of hacks like this. It confirms their prejudices and disbeliefs and gives them reason not to investigate further.

46 posted on 12/23/2003 8:40:19 AM PST by Gritty ("This great nation was founded, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ--Patrick Henry)
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To: joesbucks
Yes I can.

Matthew was a Jew, and his account of the life of Jesus was written for the Jewish people and has over 60 references to the Old Testament scriptures (which the Jews would know and understand).

Mark's account of the life of Jesus was based on Greek influences. Mark showed how Jesus was the epitomy of strength and might. He equated Jesus as being a "Mighty God", vastly superior to the Greek gods.

Luke's account of the Gospels was geared toward Mary's viewpoint of the events, as well Luke's view of Jesus as the Healer.

John's account was focused on the diety of Jesus.

Each Gospel was written for a specific reason and for a specific group of people. Matthew and John were the only ones who used Old Testament references, because Greeks and Romans would not have known what the references meant. It was 4 different views .. but they had a purpose to be so. As with everything GOD says and does, there is a purpose to it.
47 posted on 12/23/2003 11:13:35 AM PST by CyberAnt (America is the greatest force for good on the planet ..!!)
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To: CyberAnt
Thank you for a well research, well reasoned and well tempered response. Especially the latter. Your response was a good lesson and something to consider when revisiting those chapters.
48 posted on 12/23/2003 11:25:13 AM PST by joesbucks
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To: joesbucks
Thanks for the kudos. I always wondered why there were 4 Gospels. When I found out .. it facinated me so I studied it out. It wasn't just 4 witnesses to the life of Jesus.

And .. if you will notice, John does not talk about the birth of Jesus at all, but the other 3 do.
49 posted on 12/23/2003 11:38:03 AM PST by CyberAnt (America is the greatest force for good on the planet ..!!)
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To: CyberAnt
John does not talk about the birth of Jesus at all

Unless you count "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

50 posted on 12/23/2003 12:03:27 PM PST by freedomcrusader
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