Making Mountains Out of Molehills, Part 3

So, in my third and final response (my response begins here) to Valerie Tarico, on her article on Salon, about the “myths” that the “right” believe when it comes to Jesus, I’ll be wrapping up the closing points. So without further ado…


“Myth” number 7:

Number of apostles (12) from astrology, not history. Whether Jesus had 12 disciples who ranked above his other devotees is an open question, as their names vary from list to list. Since the Gospels echo the story of Joshua, the “12” apostles most immediately mirror the 12 tribes of Israel. But the number 12 was considered auspicious by many ancient people, including the Israelites, and the 189 repetitions of the number 12 in the Bible ultimately may derive from the same pre-historical roots as the 12 signs of the zodiac and 12 months of the year. Astrotheology or star worship preceded the Hebrew religion, and shaped both the Bible and world religions more broadly. One might point to the 12 Olympian gods or 12 sons of Odin, or 12 days of Christmas or 12 “legitimate” successors to the prophet Mohammed.


Okay. What? Now just what is the presupposition that is being put forward here? Quite simply its that it can’t be what the Gospels and Acts contend, that they are reporting what really happened. But what is the other problem here? There weren’t just 12 Apostles, counting Paul, there were at least 13. Hmmm. Kinda blows that out of the water. There is a great deal of numerology used in the biblical literature, numerology that would have been relevant to Jewish readers that goes over the heads of modern readers until it is pointed out and explained.


“Myth” number 8:

Prophecies recalled, not foretold. Even people who aren’t too sure about the divinity of Jesus sometimes think that the way he fulfilled prophecies was a bit spooky, like the writings of Nostradamus. In reality, Scooby Doo could solve this one in a single episode with three pieces of information: First, Old Testament prophecies were well known to first-century Jews, and a messianic figure who wanted to fulfill some of these prophecies could simply do so. For example, in the book of Matthew, Jesus seeks a donkey to ride into Jerusalem “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet” (Matthew 21:4). Second, “gospels” are a genre of devotional literature rather than objective histories, which means that the authors had every reason to shape their stories around earlier predictions. Third, scholars now believe that some Bible texts once thought to be prophecies (for example in the Book of Revelation) actually relate to events that were current or past at the time of writing.


Let’s just stop and think for about two seconds. You don’t say! The writers were recalling what the prophets, who wrote 400 to 600 years earlier, had said and were making definite connections to what had happened in their lives in their experience with Jesus and demonstrating why this was so…never made that connection. (Yes, that is sarcasm.) Actually, the Gospels fit, not in the genre of “devotional literature“, but in the genre known as bio (discussed here and in this blog post that begins here), a popular level biography, but with certain unique features all their own. As to what exactly the Book of Revelation is, I’ll leave that to people who are really interested in topics dealing with 7-headed monsters, because there are simply so many ways to interpret it.


“Myth” number 9:

Some Jesus quotes not from Jesus; others uncertain. Lists of favorite Jesus sayings abound online. Some of the most popular are the Beatitudes (blessed are the meek, etc.) or the story of the woman caught in adultery (let he who is without sin cast the first stone) or the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you, which, we are told, sums up the Law and the Prophets).Which words are actually from Jesus? This question has been debated fiercely by everyone from third-century Catholic Councils to the 20th-century Jesus Seminar. Even Thomas Jefferson weighed in, but much remains unclear. The New Testament Gospels were written long after Jesus would have died, and no technology existed with which to record his teachings in real time, unless he wrote them down himself, which he didn’t.


Are these really Valerie’s words, or did they come from some other source? (Yes…sarcasm, again.) It’s simply an absurd question to ask. Keep in mind that if she ever quotes from any historical source about the words of anyone and takes them as authentic and authoritative she refutes herself.  How do we know that Lincoln spoke the Gettysburg Address if we do not have a certified and verified audio/video recording apart from the testimony of the witnesses who saw and heard and wrote about it? This is a perfect and clear example of the use of double standards and special pleading if there ever was one. I’m sorry, but I’m more inclined to believe the testimony of those that lived closer to the events than inconsistent and hyper-skeptical people who live thousands of years after those events.

So, what have we seen demonstrated in Valerie’s article? Nothing compelling or even thought provoking, except for the amount of double standards and trivial information. No “myths” only the making of mountains out of molehills.

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