I find it interesting that most Biblical scholars acknowledge that the Gospels and virtually all of the New Testament in general were written expressly for Theological purposes but then use it to prove/verify historical events or as source material on individuals.

How can anyone who acknowledges a source as essentially propaganda then turn around and insist that same source is a valid piece of historical facts?

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It's part of the double-speak and circular (non)logic I hear from otherwise intelligent people who try and defend their faith.

Them: "Blah, blah, blah."

Me: "And how do you know that's true?"

Them: "Because it's in the bible."

Me: "So you believe that clouds are not water vapor but God's dusty footprints on Heaven's floor? Because that's in the bible too."

Them: "Well obviously that's just metaphor."

Me: "So not everything in the bible is literally true?"

Them: "No. Not everything."

Me: "So how do you know blah, blah, blah is true?"

Them: "Because it's in the bible."

Me: *Facepalm*
Although, I did hear once from an otherwise-educated evangelical a rather crafty explanation of the two conflicting genealogies of Jesus in the NT: He said that sometimes in Jewish tradition, they'd skip names. "Grandfather begat you." Therefore, all the names in both genealogies are correct.

I haven't heard this anywhere else, but it actually does sound plausible. Or a plausible-sounding but crafty invention to get around that particular contradiction.

One contradiction down. A few hundred more to go.
I don't see how that would be plausible in terms of historical research. There is nothing verifiable and his explanation would make an already impossible task that much harder. The NT genealogies are based on? Old Testament? Which is based on? They do come up with interesting ways to subvert the real questions at hand and finding ways around legitimate scholarship. But I could do the same in an attempt to "prove" Leprechauns are real and base it on "historical" research.

I've heard other strange theories about the geneologies regarding variations in spelling. None of them reallly pan out. It's the same principle they try to use in justifying the "Bible Code."
I call it 'plausible' in how oral histories and myths get passed down. Names commonly get lost for a number of reasons. Grandfather and grandson are famous in the community but father is not. Or father was outcast/an embarrassment somehow and we'd rather forget him. Or you have John I, John II and John III, who, in the passing of time, all get lumped together as one guy named 'John.'


I've never heard of this being an official, recognized, deliberate practice of the region. As compared to, say, attributing authorship of the sermon or gospel you just wrote to a now-dead mentor. Or plagiarizing a common story or myth and simply attaching your guy's name and your own spin to it.

If anything, knowing how names are commonly skipped gives the story less credibility in my opinion, not more, as these are also methods that go hand-in-hand with embellishing the whole story to begin with.

But to a layman's ears, it's an explanation that sounds good and most conveniently can't be verified one way or another. Hence my comment that even if I give the person that explanation, that's one of hundreds of contradictions.
Oral histories are dicey that way. I like oral history but tend not to view that as actual history unless there are separate verifiable sources that confirm at least the basic content of said "history." I think my misunderstanding was one of semantics. I deem something plausible if it is at least possible to verify historically. Which virtually eliminates the whole bible for legitimate historical research, with just a few minor exceptions.


Old thread, but what the heck.  The genealogies are different, I think, because they are inventions by different authors.  Matthew traces the family line only back to Abraham, while Luke goes all the way back to Adam.  Since both go through  Joseph, who wasn't J's father anyway, both are bogus.  I doubt that either one has anything to do with oral history, and in twenty years of study, I've never heard of this name skipping "tradition."  The "mysteries" of the Bible go away when we think of it as literature arising primarily out of folklore and oral tradition, with occasional--though often garbled--historical and/or geographical correspondences.  There was a city called Jericho, for example, but it didn't have walls in the time of Joshua, though it did when King Josiah's priests renovated the Temple and revised the OT, very likely writing Deuteronomy at the same time.  Of course, Peter Pan begins in London, but that doesn't make Neverland real.

I would also like to find a good source that addresses the theopolitical propaganda in the Old Testament. What was the relationship between a temple complex in Jerusalem, royal dynasties, and the changing religious beliefs of those power centres and the population they governed.

I don't think it's so much that they're taking the texts at face value, more they are trying to figure out what are the actual teachings of Jesus and what were later additions. Many argue that Jesus was real and there's a historical core to the texts, but that's about it. What can we really know about the historical Jesus from the texts? That's the question.  

I don't doubt that there was an actual rabbi named Yeshua who may be the source of an oral tradition around which a new sect of Judaism coalesced in the first century, but there is very little about him to be found outside the Biblical canon and/or non-canonical Jewish and early Christian writings.  Of course, illiteracy rates were at about 95% in the ancient Roman Empire, very little in way of education, and no mass media, not even print.  Most people were ignorant and superstitious, believing in magic, visions, mysticism, etc.  They probably would have had little trouble believing in miracle cures, the raising of the dead, turning staffs into snakes, flying, etc., and most of their information would have come from oral communications, perhaps little more than rumor.  It's always puzzled me, for example, not that Jews believed that Moses could turn his staff into a snake, but also that the Pharaoh's magicians could do the same.  That Simon Magus (Acts of the Apostles) could fly.  There were eight or nine people resurrected  in the Bible, and hundreds that supposedly climbed out of their graves and wandered the streets of Jerusalem at the moment of Jesus' death.

Was there a real Jesus?  I don't know.  Did he do the things his followers, the gospel writers that never even met him, later claimed he did?  Of course not.  Such things are impossible.





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