“Aren’t mistakes, contradictions, myth, etc exactly what you would expect from a non-divine book?” – @AlchemistNon
@AlchemistNon has a new post over at his blog on why he left Christianity. Our stories have a lot of similarities: a fervency for evangelism, continuous reading of the Bible, and more. But he wrestled with many of the problems in the biblical texts – the violence, the divergent teachings, etc. – at an earlier point in his life than I did. As he writes, the problem of evil posed a real barrier to his beliefs. I sympathize with that and I think the problem of evil and suffering is Christian theism’s greatest objection. This is a short but worthwhile read.
Michael Kok (PhD, University of Sheffield) began a new series on his website concerning the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew. He’s a few posts in but you can quickly catch up. Kok is the author of two books: The Gospel on the Margins: The Reception of Mark in the Second Century (Fortress Press, 2015), and The Beloved Disciple? The Transformation of the Apostle John into the Fourth Evangelist (Cascade Books, 2017). I highly recommend both. Kok is a very thorough scholar and his work on the Gospel of Mark is second to none. I’m hoping his thoughts on Matthean authorship will become a published volume.
Over at Bart Ehrman’s blog, Stephen Carlson wrote a guest piece on Papias and his relationship to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. He notes that Eusebius understood Papias’ reference to the “oracles” of Matthew being composed “in Hebrew” to mean that the Matthean author originally wrote his Gospel in Hebrew or Aramaic. But we know that he didn’t and Carlson suggests Eusebius misunderstood Papias. Instead of being a reference to the Gospel being composed in Hebrew, Papias perhaps intended to say that the Hebrew scriptures (i.e. “the oracles”) were written down by Matthew in Hebrew for use in his Gospel, not that the Gospel itself was composed in Hebrew. Carlson thinks that this is evidenced by the various quotations of the Hebrew Bible found in the Gospel of Matthew. (Mark almost never gets a quotation right.) This is an interesting possibility but I’m not sold. After all, it looks like most of Matthew’s quotations come from the LXX, not Hebrew. This seems to throw a wrench in the explanation. I’ll need to think through it some more.
Earlier this month, @Elishabenabuya posted to his blog The Non-Apologist a piece examining the sotah ritual in Numbers 5. As he points out, the ritual depends on supernatural elements and was surely never actually used. He writes, “Obviously, this is a ritual that has no equivalent in our reality. So don’t make yourself crazy trying to figure out what else could be in the dirt to cause the same explosive reaction!” He also points out that, strictly speaking, the ritual is not an abortion. That is, the text does not explicitly state the suspected adulteress is pregnant. However, as @Elishabenabuya reads it, the ritual would result in the death of the woman who partook.