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In Israel, Christians embrace a simple, spiritual Christmas

Christian nuns carry Christmas trees in Jerusalem’s Old City ahead of the holiday in December 2017. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

JERUSALEM (RNS) — Growing up in England, Beverly Dwyer celebrated Christmas by going to church and spending time with her family, but it wasn’t until she moved to Israel that she fully began to experience the holiness of the holiday.

Back home, “Christmas is a time of great commercialization, a moneymaker for the stores,” said Dwyer, an evangelical Christian who has lived in Israel on and off for 18 years. “The birth of our savior isn’t usually the focus.”

In Israel, “the holiday is much more low-key,” Dwyer said. “You have to make an effort to celebrate. The lack of commercialization and consumerism gives me the opportunity to really reflect on the true meaning of the season.”

Compared with how the holiday is celebrated in Christian-majority countries — with dazzling lights, Christmas-themed shows and sales — the public observance of Christmas in Israel and the Palestinian territories is downright modest.

Christians are a tiny minority in the Holy Land, comprising about 2 percent of the population, not including the many Christian clergy, aid workers, students, migrant workers and asylum-seekers who reside in Israel, sometimes for decades.

Beverly Dwyer, who has lived in Israel on and off for 18 years, says that in Israel, Christmas is much more low-key than it is in England, where she grew up. RNS photo by Michele Chabin

It is possible to find public displays related to Christmas, but you need to look for them.

The municipalities of Bethlehem in the West Bank and Haifa and Nazareth in northern Israel decorate their towns with Christmas lights and organize Christmas-themed events, concerts and bazaars. In south Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the city puts up a big Christmas tree, and stores sell everything from ornaments to Santa suits.

In Jerusalem, Christians celebrate the holiday mostly behind doors, in their homes and churches, and Dwyer considers this a godsend.

“For me, personally, Christmas without external distractions has given me a lot more time to strengthen my relationship with God,” she said. “I can read more, reflect more. I can spend more time in prayer. I’m able to invest myself in my spiritual walk with God.”

The Rev. Petra Heldt, a pastor ordained in the Protestant Church of Germany, feels much the same.

“Here the content is more important than the wrapping. Showing the love of God is the content and the wrapping is the glitter and glamor” of westernized Christmas celebrations, said Heldt, who has lived in Israel for the past 39 years.

Heldt said she appreciates the Christmas traditions of the Eastern Orthodox, who will celebrate the religious holiday on Jan. 7. She doesn’t follow these traditions, however.

“Orthodox Christians, who are the majority of (indigenous) Christians here, don’t focus so much on little Jesus in the crib, but in the coming of God to the world,” she explained. “They focus on the triad — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit we could not recognize the Son, who is the Messiah sent by God into the world.”

Heldt called this a “revelation.”

“It’s a sign of the love that God has for humanity. It is nothing but humbling.”

For Julaine Stark, an evangelical Christian from the U.S., the Holy Land’s style of celebrating the birth of Jesus has been a welcome revelation. RNS photo by Michele Chabin

For Julaine Stark, an evangelical Christian from the U.S., the Holy Land’s style of celebrating the birth of Jesus has been a welcome discovery.

“It’s extremely noncommercial. In the U.S. they have Christmas in July sales for people who want to get a head start on their gift shopping. The consumerism and materialism are all-consuming.”

Living in Israel for the past three years has also given Stark a greater appreciation for the Jewish roots of Christianity.

“I see how the Jewish people’s feasts are feasts of the Lord and that they are tied to history and their ancient traditions,” she said. Jesus, who was Jewish, attended these feasts, according to the New Testament.

Stark, whose grown children live in the U.S., said she will be celebrating another quiet but spiritual Christmas in Jerusalem.

If the weather holds out, she plans to go to an annual bonfire in Jerusalem overlooking Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, and attend a “simple, very meaningful” Christmas service in a nearby church.

“Back in the U.S., raising my children we would sing ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ and ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas,’ which are sentimental songs.”

Since moving to Jerusalem, Stark has gravitated toward traditional hymns but has retained her love for Handel’s “Messiah.”

“Christmas could be lonely without my family, but what I’ve found is that the whole concept of Shabbat — the Sabbath — and creating a place of rest, rather than trying to fill every moment with things to do and being busy, is something to embrace. I’m going to consider the Christmas week holiday a weeklong Shabbat.

“There’s so much to learn in the quiet,” she said.

About the author

Michele Chabin

48 Comments

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  • So, although they know that the majority of indigenous Christians in Israel are Orthodox Christians, rather than interview any of them, they focus on three Protestants from Western countries?

  • “Without the Holy Spirit we could not recognize the Son, who is the Messiah sent by God into the world.”

    That is a very large sentence which can explain a great deal about whether religion goes good or goes bad. Without the Holy Spirit, there is only doctrinal mumbo-jumbo and legalism.

  • Christians of Israel, pay attention:

    Christmas is the embellished story of the birth of a simple, preacher man named Jesus.
    As per many contemporary NT exegetes, his parents were Mary and Joseph although some say Jesus was a mamzer, the result of a pre-marital relationship between Mary and a Roman soldier.

    http:// http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    Jesus was not born in Bethlehem at least the one we are familiar with and there were no pretty wingie thingies singing/talking from on high, no slaughter of the innocents by Herod, no visiting wise men and no escape to Egypt.

    “Mark’s gospel, the most historical of the four gospels, does not even mention the event.

    And from Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 269-272, “The historical yield of the Lukan infancy narrative in respect to the birth of Jesus is virtually nil.

    Matt 1:18-25: , pp. 123-124, “The fathering of Jesus from the Holy Spirit and his birth from the virgin Mary are unhistorical”. Ludemann gives a very detailed analysis to support his conclusions. One part being the lack of attestations to these events and the late time strata of said story.

    “Lüdemann [pp. 261-63) discounts Luke’s account as a legend deriving from Jewish Hellenistic circles that were concerned to hold together the procreation of the Spirit, the authentic sonship of the Messiah and the virginal conception. ”

    Continued below:

  • Then there are these additional conclusions:

    Professor Bruce Chilton

    “In [Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography] (2000), Chilton develops the idea of Jesus as a mamzer; someone whose irregular birth circumstances result in their exclusion from full participation in the life of the community. He argues for the natural paternity of Joseph and finds no need for a miraculous conception. In his subsequent reconstruction of Jesus’ life, Chilton suggests that this sustained personal experience of exclusion played a major role in Jesus’ self-identity, his concept of God and his spiritual quest.

    Professor John Dominic Crossan

    “In [Historical Jesus] (p. 371) Crossan treats this cluster, like 007 Of Davids Lineage, as an example of the interplay of prophecy and history in the development of the Jesus traditions.

    “In [Birth of Christianity] (pp. 26-29) Crossan uses Luke’s account of Jesus’ conception and birth to explore ethical issues concerning the public interpretation of the past. He notes the tendency of Christian scholars to disregard “pagan” birth legends while investing great effort in the defense of biblical birth narratives. He concludes:

    I do not accept the divine conception of either Jesus or Augustus as factual history, but I believe that God is incarnate in the Jewish peasant poverty of Jesus and not in the Roman imperial power of Augustus. ”

    “The following ancient parallels to Jesus’ miraculous conception should be noted:

    Birth of Moses (Exod 2:1-10)
    Birth of Plato (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 3.45) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 507]
    Birth of Alexander the Great (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, 2.1-3.5) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 502f]
    Birth of Apollonius (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, I.4) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 505]”

    And some final words from Thomas Jefferson, not a contemporary NT scholar, but indeed a very learned man:

    “And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva”

    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    Conclusion: Christmas is historically a non-event. Ditto for the Feast of the Magi and the solemnity of Mary aka New Years day.

  • “If the weather holds out, she plans to go to an annual bonfire in Jerusalem overlooking Bethlehem….” What a wonderful thing to experience!

  • Indigenous Christians wouldn’t likely have the experience to notice the simplicity of what they do. These Protestant women who have experienced Christmas in outside cultures do.

  • Why rewrite reality which requires reiteration, a great learning tool? And then there is this once again:

    As a good student, you have read the reiterations of the “fems” (flaws, error, myths and stench) of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all
    nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls
    of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Rational Thinking makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!!

  • “It’s not trash – very valid arguments against religion’s claims.”

    Perhaps the first one hundred times the boilerplate was posted.

  • That’s a rather condescending attitude. Do you think that because they are indigenous they must live in grass huts, have never been on a plane, or experienced other cultures?

  • Since my family are indigenous Americans from Mexico, I’m not likely to have such a condescending attitude. However, it is my experience that the majority of indigenous folks don’t have the experiences of most 1st world people. I have personally had many more experiences than most of my relatives and people of my small town in Hidalgo State.

    Your milage may very.

  • THANK YOU, Michele, for sharing such a beautiful story of wonderful holy women, who understand the true meaning of Christmas. I’m
    finally learning, at age 71, that it is possible to love, worship, and adore Jesus Christ in every thought, in every moment, of every day, and be supernally happy always. SHALOM–BLESSINGS

  • If we apply the same standards used to evaluate other ancient documents,
    The New Testament exceeds those standards, therefore, by those standards yes indeed:

    –an angel announced his birth
    –Jesus was virgin born
    –Jesus was born in Bethlehem
    –3 wise men from the East traveled to see the baby Jesus.

    If we do not wish to apply such standards because we do not believe miracles such as the Virgin Birth, then neither is the Resurrection true and therefore the Christian belief bogus. Christianity should have at best, not survived to the end of the first century AD.

    But since Christianity and reports of miracles continue to this hour; with Jesus Christ being the most influential personage in history, a Virgin birth with 3 wise men traveling to see said child, is not all that unusual.

  • I have known a number of indigenous Christians in Israel who have had plenty of varied and wide-ranging experience. People not unlike yourself. They are not that hard to find, and could have been consulted if the author had tried.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • And now some 2018 reality via the Great Kibosh of All Religions:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • >>There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.<<

    That is what Lee Strobel, journalist, atheist set out to prove, if the Resurrection could be disproved then all else in Christianity is a "house of cards."

    He interviewed appropriate scientists and scholars in their field addressing all the issues and arguments (some of which you have posted) and discovered there was no reasonable alternative explanation for the resurrection upon which all Christianity hinges.

    Lee Strobel, based on the evidence, realized it was entirely irrational to conclude Christianity was false and therefore could no longer remain an atheist.

  • I’ve commented to him on his style of posting – the digital equivalent of the crazy, bearded guy on the sidewalk carrying the End of the World sign while haranguing passersby! No harm – no one here is likely to convert or influence the others.

  • I found this today and wanted to pass it along to you and Mark – I hope he sees it:
    “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (I Cor. 15:58).

  • OK, but perhaps that wasn’t her chosen angle. You are voicing your hidden expectation that she write an article that she didn’t, including a point of view that she didn’t. I think that we could all wish any article anywhere could have included this or that, however, that wasn’t what the author was writing.

    Feliz Navidad para ti y tu familia tambien.

  • The resurrection of Jesus as noted in the NT has been rigorously tested for historic authenticity using accepted methods (the number of independent attestations, the time of
    the publications, the content as it relates to the subject and time period, and
    any related archeological evidence. Professors JD Crossan and G. Ludemann’s
    studies are top notch in this regard.)

    The conclusion: Easter is historically nil.

    Summarizing: Part 1:

    The physical resurrection of Jesus as per currernt
    theology teachings at many large Catholic universities-

    “Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly —
    earth bound distractions.

    Christ ‘s and Mary’s bodies are therefore not in Heaven. For one thing, Paul in 1 Cor 15 speaks of
    the body of the dead as transformed into a “spiritual body.” No one
    knows exactly what he meant by this term.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with
    the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    The physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus’
    crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary’s corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke’s Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus’ mission to Pentecost and missionary
    activity of Jesus’ followers The Assumption has multiple layers of
    symbolism, some are related to Mary’s special role as “Christ bearer”
    (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus’
    Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would

    be derived by worms upon her death. Mary’s
    assumption also shows God’s positive regard, not only for Christ’s male body,
    but also for femalebodies.”
    “Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love,
    without earthly — earth bound distractions.

  • Part 2:

    http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php/017_Resurrection_of_Jesus

    The Resurrection is fiction i.e. it was added to make Jesus akin to the Caesars and Greek half gods/half men

    “In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human
    language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to
    describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in
    which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical
    categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas
    Aquinas said long before him.”

    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have
    this account:

    , The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright
    in Dialogue,

    p.4

    “Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God’s hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political
    kingdom of God. After Jesus’ failure and death, his disciples stole his body
    and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and
    ensure themselves some standing.”

    So where are the bones”? As per Professor
    Crossan’s analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in
    the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a
    shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

  • Part 3:

    Addressing the historic inauthenticity of the
    post-resurrection sightings of Jesus of Nazareth.

    -The empty tomb myth

    Mark 16:1-8
    = Matt 28:1-10 = Luke 24:1-11

    (1b) John
    20:1,(2-10),11-18

    Originated by Mark and copied by M, L and J and
    historically nil after rigorous analyses for number of attestations, time of
    publication and content. For added details:

    see Professor Gerd Ludemann’s analysis in his book
    Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 111-114 and
    http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb275.html.

    –The disciples on the Emmaus road

    Luke 23: 13-35 Historically nil. See Ludemann’s book, pp 409-412. Note: Emmaus
    can no longer be located.

    — Revealed to Disciples

    1Cor 15:5b,7b

    (2) Matt
    28:16-20

    (3) Easter
    Night 2.3.1 (3a) Luke 24:36-40

    (3b) John
    20:19-21

    2.4 (4) IgnSmyr 3.2b-3

    See http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb018.html
    and the following from Professor Luedamann:

    “Matt 28:16-20 The description of Jesus’s
    appearance is minimal, as attention is focused on the content of Jesus’ message
    to the Eleven. Luedemann notes:

    that “the historical yield is extremely meager.” He accepts the early
    tradition that various disciples had visionary experiences, most probably
    located in Galilee, and that these experiences led to the founding of “a
    community which preached the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus as the
    Messiah and/or the Son of Man among their Jewish contemporaries.” [Jesus,
    255f.]

    Luke 24:36-53 The emphatic realism in the recognition scene that begins this appearance story mans “one can hardly avoid seeing this as a thrust against docetism. Evidently in this verse Luke is
    combating the same challenges to the bodily reality of Jesus as Ignatius, To
    the Smyrneans 3.2, does at the beginning of the second century.” Luedemann
    concludes, “The historical yield is nil, both in respect of the real historical
    event and in connection with the visions which were the catalyst for the rise
    of Christianity.” [Jesus, 413-415]”

    –Rev 1: 12-20 (a reboot of Daniel 7:13)

    And then there is this:

    “Nineteenth-century agnostic Robert G.
    Ingersoll branded Revelation “the insanest of all books”.[30] Thomas
    Jefferson omitted it along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson
    Bible, and wrote that at one time, he “considered it as merely the ravings
    of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of
    our own nightly dreams.” [31]

  • Part 4:

    –Appearance to James et al

    1 Cor 15: 7a

    /4/ and that he was buried, and that he was raised
    on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, /5/ and that he appeared to
    Cephas, then to the twelve. /6/ Then he appeared to more than five hundred
    brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some
    have died. /7/ Then he appeared to

    James, then to all the apostles. /8/ Last of all,
    as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

    See http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb030.html-
    i.e. historically nil.

  • Obviously, you did not review any of the referenced websites. Had you , you would have seen that the rigorous historic testing by Professor Ludemann was also done by other NT exegetes with analogous results.

  • NT scholars and professors Professors JD Crossan; G. Ludemann Raymond E. Brown (and probably others) use methods to ascertains historical facts which ignores anything, especially suggestive of the supernatural, that would elevate the personage studied above common historical conditions.

    While their studies are useful for ascertaining actual fact from legendary embellishments, it lacks an adequate explanation for multiple accounts of persons witnessing an actual miraculous events and them being committed to text within living memory and their consequential historical influence.

    For this a different historical approach is used, among them obtaining information by determining:
    –did people of the time act like / appear to believe extraordinary deeds / events were attributed to the personage?
    For example, the disciples and others behaved as if they sincerely believed they saw Jesus after he rose from the dead, and would gain some profound merit by sharing that belief, even if threatened with death.

    The resurrection is the MOST miraculous event without there would be no Christianity. By comparison, the appearance of Eastern wise men following a star, virgin birth in Bethlehem and angel annunciations were minor by comparison.

    Other scholars need to be studied, such as Craig L. Blomberg, Professor of the New Testament at Denver Seminary in Colorado and his book “The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.”

  • Supernatural is the key word. Bottom line: There is no such thing other than in the wishful thinking and dreams of those brainwashed in books like the Bible and the Koran. No doubt your referenced expert believes in such things or he would be out of a job.

    noun

    1.

    manifestations or events considered to be of supernatural origin, such as ghosts.
    (and angels, fairies, tinker-bells fortune tellers/prophets, devils/jinn sometimes known as demons of the demented.

  • Without the supernatural, (his miracles) Jesus is just a guy who walked around from place to place dispensing platitudes.

    A good place to explore this is to read Lee Strobel, once Chicago Tribune journalist, atheist who wrestled with Christianity at its core, the supernatural Resurrection, without which all else in Christianity is ultimately meaningless, since it is by the Resurrection Jesus proved victory over death and belief in Him would share that victory of eternal life in Heaven..

    1. The first thing was to determine if the New Testament reliably transmitted information when compared to other ancient documents. The evidence Strobel compiled indicated it did, multiple attestation, including information embarrassing to the authors / associates, written within living memory of Jesus etc.

    2. The next was determining WHAT the disciples saw that convinced 500 people at the same time as well as groups of other individuals to believe they saw/ otherwise interacted with a healthy Jesus a few days after his torture and Crucifixion. Followers of Jesus were willing to die for this belief.
    Strobel explored alternate explanations, among which:
    A–They just THOUGHT they saw Jesus, some type of mass hallucination phenomena
    An agnostic psychologist Strobel interviewed, pointed out that such a phenomena would have been a greater miracle than the Resurrection itself. She could not otherwise explain it, but it was NOT shared hallucinations.
    B–Jesus did not die on the cross, but recovered in the tomb and escaped.
    A doctor showed him an American Medical Association article that as per description of the Crucifixion as recorded in the Gospels and what was historically known of the Roman execution process, Jesus was indeed dead when placed in the tomb.

    Without a reasonable alternate explanation for the Resurrection, Strobel had to either accept the available evidence either was consistent with one more unsolvable mystery found in the universe or Jesus Christ did indeed rise from the dead as advertised by his followers.

    Lee Strobel wrote about his excavation in his detailed book, the Case for Christ

  • Actually, your Jesus was a bit “touched”. After all he thought he spoke to Satan aka the demon of the demented, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today’s world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their
    epistles and gospels of semi-fiction?

    Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the
    scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J’s gospels being
    mostly fiction.

  • Besides the ” bible ” you quote – what other documents affirm the very existence of JC, let alone the ” miracles ” he is purported to have demonstrated.

    With all the fantastic (” true “) tales your bible describes – there must be other written accounts of this superhuman miracle performing god/man, besides the gospels.

    There were extant Greco/Roman historians during JC’s time, and the Roman authorities kept meticulous records.

    Houdini couldn’t do anywhere near what JC purportedly did, but there are volumes from countless extant sources attesting to his ” existence ” and ” miracles “.

  • Jesus did not approach royalty / authorities and do his miracles which might have made his life easier in reaching people. In fact he avoided King Herod when the latter learned of him and wanted to see for himself the miracles that Jesus was reported to do. Jesus appeared to rely on doing a few miracles then letting his reputation spread, While there were a number of witnesses present, even raising the dead (see John:11) was done demurely and with little fanfare. Jesus’ miracles, an vital component of his ministry, while giving compelling evidence, was not forcing people to believe.

    Additionally, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples of Jesus did miracles as well.

    Non Biblical sources in the 1st and early 2nd century did report about Christians or other persons who conveyed various: their wise man / as to a god, Christus /Jesus, wrought feats; being executed and restored to life….. reference Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, governor of Bithynia, Pliny the Younger; Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus, and Lucian of Samosata 2nd century Greek satirist. The Talmud, a portion from A.D. 70-200 references a person, “Yeshu” who has practiced sorcery; enticed Israel to apostasy and was hanged on the eve of Passover. Many scholars think this might have been referring to Jesus.

    As far as surviving documents go, Jesus has the “Houdini volumes of sources” in comparison to many other significant events and personages of the ancient era.

    For example, the Mount Vesuvius eruption covered the city of Pompei in AD79. With thousands of survivors and witnesses, and those others who were affected by it; there was only ONE other surviving eyewitness account, that of Pliny the Younger to Cornelius Tacitus.

  • The witnesses who gave the NT accounts that were written down likewise thought they saw Jesus do these things. Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the conclusion that these things did indeed happen because nothing else rationally explains why, without violence, Christianity survived to become the ascendant religion in the pagan Roman Empire.

  • Surely you jest !

    All your sources are post JC. Josephus wasn’t even born by the time the alleged JC died , and in his ” Antiquities of the Jews ” Josephus refers to some 20 people with the name Jesus. The Antiquities was written circa 93 CE.

    You provide no – zero – zilch reference of any writings which pre date the gospels, which were written in the 2nd century CE, and revised thru the 18th century CE.

    I suggest you go to any library and check out their selection of bibles. You will find that every one of them is copyrighted.

    Looks like the ” gospel ” writers had lawyers – as well as the (phantom) Abrahamic God who ” inspired ” their writings.

  • Titus Flavius Josephus was born AD 37 and died AD 100 (aged c. 63). In that period there were those who were alive that saw the living Jesus.
    Textual criticism indicated the gospels were written during the following dates:
    The four Gospels were written in living memory of Christ’s life:
    Earliest and latest possible dates:
    * Matthew: AD.50 to 100
    * Mark: AD. 50s to late 60s
    * Luke: AD. 59 100s
    * John: AD. 85 to near 110
    ==no time to develop legends or myth
    And then there are all the accounts of Jesus’ Disciples

    The selection of Bible translations continually revisit the documents of antiquity to provide the most accurate information and update to modern language usage. There is no “corruption” or theological change from early manuscripts to modern editions.

    Essentially there are two ways of approaching Bible translation:
    –Line for line of the original words into English. However comprehension and readability may may be difficult for some readers since the sentence structure and some words do not translate well into the English vernacular. However it is good for close study. Examples are the King James Bible (1611) New King James (1982), Modern English version (2014)
    –Thought for thought: the text is examined for the intent and emotions being conveyed and the suitable English words used. This makes for greatest readability and different versions can be produced to address the varying reading levels of the audience. A well known example is the New International Version (1978).

  • Surely, you are still jesting….

    Josephus wrote extensively of Philo who was a contemporary of the supposed JC. Philo did NOTHING compared to JC to be so extensively written about.

    When the alleged JC died – there were earthquakes, the sun stood still and the dead rose from the grave. And nobody wrote about this ? This was a big deal ! Nothing like this had ever happened before.

    Surely there would have been numerous – govt officials, religious authorities, scholars, contemporary historians as well as JC’s own Apostles and disciples – recording these events in real time !

    Not a word.

    JC is a figment of the imagination which over 1700 yrs has screwed billions of suckers out of countless trillions of $$$$.

    Not even his supposed miracles hold-up to scrutiny.

  • Jesus’ followers wrote about those things and they persistently behaved as if the miracles and all else were true. So if we go by those standards, yes they hold up to scrutiny just fine.

    The fact at this time, sources outside the following of Jesus have not wrote about the events in equal detail, is not unusual since it is quite rare to have multiple sources cover a dramatic event in ancient times, especially outside of vested interests:

    For example, the Mount Vesuvius eruption covered the city of Pompeii in AD79. With thousands of survivors and witnesses, and those others who were affected by it; there was only ONE other surviving eyewitness account, that of Pliny the Younger to Cornelius Tacitus, when to former was writing about his uncle, Pliny the Elder. who was attempting to mount a naval rescue operation.

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