25. The Gospels were written as named (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John)
This is why many scholars think the gospel writers that are named did not write them:
1. They are written anonymously. No where in any of them does anyone claim who wrote them.
2. They are told in the third person, about what happened to them, not what happened to “me”.
3. The titles are, "The Gospel According to..." and this phrasing indicates the named authors were not the actual authors. That's someone else telling you who is responsible for the gospel.
4. These titles were added in the second century, decades after the Gospels were written.
5. The anonymity of the Gospels was respected for decades. In the early second century when the NT Gospels are quoted by authors or referenced, they are never entitled. Justin Martyr writing around 150 -60 CE quotes Gospel verses but does not indicate that the Gospels were named. He just called them "Memoirs of the Apostles". The first time they have any titles is in the writings of Irenaeus at about 180 - 185 CE.
6. Irenaeus argued that there should be four Gospels, not more or less because the gospel of Christ has been spread by the four winds of heaven over the four corners of the earth (flat earth problems, but that's another topic). Others at that time were using some but not all of the Gospels.
7. Whoever wrote the Gospels were highly educated, literate, Greek speaking Christians of the second generation. Jesus' own followers were not. They were peasants from Galilee, fishermen, etc. who did not have the resources to attend school, let alone have the ability to write books in Greek while speaking Aramaic. The native language was Aramaic and it would be highly doubtful that they were fluent in two, three or even four languages.(Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin). See Acts 4:13.
They never claim to be personally connected with any of the events they
narrate ("One day, Jesus and I went to the well....")
So, how did they really get their names?
Lots of different gospels were in circulation early on. For the early orthodox Christians what was needed were Gospels that carried the weight of authenticity and credibility, and to them that could only mean gospels that had apostolic authority behind them. For some decades there were rumors circulating that two important figures of the early church had written accounts of Jesus' ministry. Nearly a half century before Irenaeus these claims are found in the writings of the church father Papias (120 -30 CE). He claimed on "good authority" that Matthew had written down the sayings of Jesus in the Hebrew language and that others had translated them into Greek. He also wrote that Peter's companion Mark had rearranged the preaching of Peter about Jesus and created a book from them.
But the two books that Papias is referring two were probably not Matthew and Mark. Matthew is not a collection of Jesus' sayings, not written in Hebrew and is not written independently of Mark. Mark derives from oral traditions about Jesus that had been in circulation for decades; there's nothing in Mark that suggests it was Peter's version of the story. However, the pressure to have gospels with the authority of the original apostles became great due to all the other "false" gospels being used by "heretics". Since it was thought, through Papias, that Matthew had written a gospel, he was assigned the one that was most Jewish in its orientation. The fourth gospel was thought to belong to "the Beloved Disciple" as mentioned in its book and one who would have been one of Jesus' closest followers. The three closest to Jesus in the early traditions were Peter, James and John. Peter was already named in the fourth gospel, so he could not be the Beloved Disciple. James was known to have been martyred early on and could not be the author. That left John, so he was assigned the authorship.
The author of the third gospel also wrote the book of Acts and claims to have been a companion of Paul's. Because Acts stresses the work among the Gentiles, they assumed the author must have been a Gentile. Since there was thought to be a Gentile named Luke among Paul's companions, he was assigned the third Gospel.
Thus, two of the Gospels were then allegedly written by eyewitnesses (Matthew and John) and the other two from the perspective of Peter (Mark) and the perspective of Paul (Luke). It does not appear however that any of these books were written by eyewitnesses or by companions of his two great apostles. The early Christians had very good reasons to assign the books to people who had not written them.
From: Ehrman, Bart. Several of his books, especially “Forged”, Chapter 7 (2011). Nearly all of the above sections are directly from his writings but not cited for each sentence.
26. The universe was created at the Big Bang so it needed a Creator.
A creation needs a creator; it could not have created itself it is often asserted. No, it did have a beginning but a creator was not needed. Another God-of-the-gaps is closing. Actually cosmologists and theoretical physicists have come across evidence that it really did emerge naturally. A creator was not needed.
27. America is a Christian Nation
Not true. Most of America’s founding fathers and early leaders were religious men, but the main framers of America were not. Many of the leaders and thinkers at the top were deists and agnostics. The term “God” or any reference to a deity is purposely left out of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the founding documents for the government that they were forming. The Declaration of Independence is a courageous statement that Americans were giving notice that they were disclaiming their citizenship and divorcing the Crown. Again, we find the terms “Creator” and “Nature’s God” here which are deist terms, instead of Lord, Jesus, God, Almighty, or Father. No references to God were placed onto our money or our buildings. It was not until the Civil War in 1863 during a time of extreme stress that “In God We Trust” was placed on coins. During another war, the Cold War, the phrase was also placed on paper money. It was also during this time, in 1954, that “under God” was inserted into what had previously been a secular pledge. In 1782 by an act of Congress our founding fathers instead chose E Pluribus Unum as the original country’s motto (From many, one). How things have changed. Activist Christians have instead broken our culture apart.
In 1796 the Tripoli Treaty was signed under George Washington’s second term, ratified by unanimous Senate vote, and signed into law by Adams on June 10, 1797. It said:
“As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion...” (Article 11).
Other quotes from notable Americans include:
“The United States of America should have a foundation free from the influence of clergy” ~ George Washington
“The way to see by Faith, is to shut the eye of Reason” ~ Benjamin Franklin
“The Pope put his foot on the neck of kings, but Calvin and his cohorts crushed the whole human race under their heels in the name of the Lord of Hosts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.” ~ James Madison
“Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity.” ~ Thomas Paine
“The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma”. ~ Abraham Lincoln
“My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them”. ~ Abraham Lincoln
“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest - but the myth - persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” ~ John F. Kennedy
“The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classified with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter”. ~ Thomas Jefferson
“... the Christian philosophy... [is] but [the] most perverted system ever shone on man...”
~ Thomas Jefferson
“We establish no religion in this country. We command no worship. We mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are and must remain separate.” ~ Ronald Reagan
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