What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Recent Comments

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Tony on Mar 19, 20:01:

I am having trouble coming up with anything remotely plausible if we try the route of the gospel being truly anonymous. Let's take the first person who got it from the (anonymous) writer: does he ask "who wrote this"? Why not? This is a lengthy piece of writing, not a 2 page letter, it represents a pretty stiff amount of labor. Someone had to be responsible for it, and had to have had a reason. Knowing who is IMPORTANT. Nobody would receive a writing like this and not be led to ask "where did this co ... [More]

Did Jesus’ mother and the beloved disciple stand at the foot of the cross?

Comment posted by Joe Lightfoot on Mar 19, 16:08:

For goodness' sake. He's on the cross for six hours. Nobody ever moves around during that time??? This is "speculative"??? You've got to be kidding. People move around *constantly* in real life. Not to mention the fact that "the women" could mean various women, not all the same women. Sometimes, I swear, the people who make such objections don't seem to live in the actual world. They live in a world of statues or something. Lydia McGrew, defender of common sense. Enjoying the mini-series of Tim articles s ... [More]

Did Jesus’ mother and the beloved disciple stand at the foot of the cross?

Comment posted by Callum Savage on Mar 19, 15:39:

Thanks for this Tim, I've really enjoyed this mini series. I'm trying to pull some vague information out of my memory, but wasn't there a German scholar (Strauss?) Back in the 19th century that compiled a thousand page book of every criticism he could think of? ... [More]

Did Jesus’ mother and the beloved disciple stand at the foot of the cross?

Comment posted by Lydia on Mar 19, 12:48:

For goodness' sake. He's on the cross for six hours. Nobody ever moves around during that time??? This is "speculative"??? You've got to be kidding. People move around *constantly* in real life. Not to mention the fact that "the women" could mean various women, not all the same women. Sometimes, I swear, the people who make such objections don't seem to live in the actual world. They live in a world of statues or something. ... [More]

Did Jesus’ mother and the beloved disciple stand at the foot of the cross?

Comment posted by Blake Reas on Mar 19, 12:13:

One final thing, John says this: Εἱστήκεισαν δὲ παρὰ τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἡ ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ καὶ Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνή. “para” is used. It usually means to stand beside or parallel too. Does “para” have any connotations of nearness? Also, Bill Mounces lexicon (https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/para) says that para with a dative as we have in Jn. 19:25 can mean “in the sight of”, this would be consistent with standing “at a distance” whatever that means. So ... [More]

Did Jesus’ mother and the beloved disciple stand at the foot of the cross?

Comment posted by Blake Reas on Mar 19, 12:02:

Part of Alter’s case in the book is that John says that the women were near but the Synoptics claim they were at a distance. Here is Alter in the book: “Finally, John 19:25 contradicted the synoptic Gospels by reporting that the women were positioned close to the cross when Jesus died: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.” Yet the synoptic narrative reports that the women were positioned far away.” He claims that the att ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Blake on Mar 19, 11:23:

Mr. Alter: “Respectful, I disagree (But of course, this is just my humble opinion). This reminds me of a common apologetic: that the differences found in the Resurrection accounts actually substantiate their trustworthiness. This argument runs something like “people who conspire to testify a falsehood rehearse carefully to avoid contradictions.” My point was simply that there were better candidates for pseudonymous authorship than Matthew. Arguably, the existence of a follower of Jesus penning the gospel ... [More]

Did Jesus’ mother and the beloved disciple stand at the foot of the cross?

Comment posted by Blake on Mar 19, 11:03:

I wondered the same thing. I had never heard such bollocks about the crucifixtion until I read Alter’s section and Torley’s summation. I am not sure I have even read a commentary that deals with this claim. I don’t remember Bock or anyone doing so (though my memory could be faulty). ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Michael J. Alter on Mar 19, 09:27:

Hello Lydia, Tony, Nice Marot, and Blake: Thank you for continuing the discussion about this vital topic! Now, let me respond to several comments. Lydia wrote: “You know, it doesn't actually create doubt about the accuracy of some historical document that various people have said it's unhistorical. And the sheer fact that people contest Matthean authorship (for example) doesn't mean that there isn't good evidence for Matthean authorship.” Just listing a bunch of people who think this or that isn't disposi ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Lydia on Mar 19, 08:18:

Furthermore, it is instructive to note that the anonymous author of Matthew employs the word Pharisee(s) thirty times. However, significantly, its anonymous author mentions the word Pharisees only in Matthew 27:62 and nowhere else in the entire passion or post-passion accounts. If my reading (and the reading of others) is correct, the text has a definite anti-Jewish leadership flavor and objective. That is an argument? From the number of times a word is used in the book as a whole and in the passion and re ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Blake on Mar 17, 09:52:

Alter: "Please note that the name Matthew/Levi occurs only five times in a total of two settings. Four times his name is mentioned in the list of the Twelve. In addition, Matthew 9:9 reports his selection, and Matthew’s decision to follow Jesus. That is ALL of the information that the Christian Bible provides about Matthew! Do these five appearances lend credence to the existence of a Matthew? Let the reader decide." The relative obscurity of Matthew in the gospels and early Christianity would seem to be ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Nice Marmot on Mar 16, 13:37:

Yes -- the primary aspect of that "certainty" was the Apostles' knowledge that the Resurrection really occurred. They knew this because they had witnessed it "in the categorical, empirical order," as Reardon says. So in that sense the complementary internal witness of the Spirit wasn't needed to provide the content of what they believed, so much as to confirm the meaning of it. ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Tony on Mar 15, 18:44:

Great quote, NM, thanks. I appreciate Fr. Reardon's ability to pull out explicitly what Clement was saying implicitly. I suspect that skeptics would retort that this perspective on what the Gospel writer were doing is a religious one, and therefore not something that a pure historian can take into account: the historian, qua historian, cannot verify that the Gospel writer was "filled with certainty" by the Holy Spirit. But what the historian CAN do is verify that in numerous ways, the immediate commu ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Nice Marmot on Mar 15, 06:37:

"the plausible motivation for writing what he wrote is that he believed with religious conviction in the factual reality of what he wrote." Clement of Rome (c. 95 A.D.): “The apostles, having received their orders and filled with certainty through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and entrusted with the Word of God, went forth with the certainty of the Holy Spirit , preaching the good news that God’s Kingdom was to come” (Ad Corinthios 42.3). Fr. Patrick Reardon comments on this verse: "Befor ... [More]

What we're reading: A Cry of Stone

Comment posted by Lydia on Mar 14, 15:04:

Thanks. It's really a top-notch novel. I come back to it again and again. ... [More]

What we're reading: A Cry of Stone

Comment posted by ek on Mar 14, 14:17:

Hi, I am late to the game here, but I wanted to second your experience of "Cry of Stone." I have just finished it last night and I feel totally shattered. I realize I know nothing about the Catholic faith after decades of study. I was very attached to Rose, the character. To watch her suffer especially at the end was disturbing. I disagree that the trip to England could have been jettisoned. I think that was another way Rose fulfilled her purpose - she was the answer to the prayers of her AngloCatholic anc ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Lydia on Mar 14, 12:42:

It is really undeniable based on the evidence that Matthew is attempting to appeal to a Jewish audience. Probably not exclusively, but certainly as an emphasis. The frequent quotation of the Old Testament, the emphasis upon Jesus' status as the Son of David (seen in the genealogy) and upon the fulfillment of prophecy, and the rabbinic style of Matthew's OT interpretation are just a few indicators. Indeed, the Jewishness of the Gospel has been used *against* its historicity by, e.g., Robert Gundry. Gundry's ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Tony on Mar 14, 11:08:

The probative weight of any one passage of a Gospel can't be looked at independently for an historical analysis all on its own, it has to be taken together with all of the evidence for the rest of the Gospel together. And the evidence about the Gospel is that while it is in fact an instance of a report about historically real facts, it is also the religiously-inspired product of of a religiously assertive person in a community of newly minted religious devotees who were also undergoing extremes of persecut ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Lydia on Mar 14, 09:08:

You know, it doesn't actually create doubt about the accuracy of some historical document that various people have said it's unhistorical. And the sheer fact that people contest Matthean authorship (for example) doesn't mean that there isn't good evidence for Matthean authorship. Just listing a bunch of people who think this or that isn't dispositive. And by the way, I'm not an inerrantist. ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Michael J. Alter on Mar 12, 20:09:

Hello Lydia; Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to reply to my response. You wrote: “If that is an example of what is regarded as engaging with argument, then it doesn't speak terribly well of the quality of the historical approach in Alter's book.” RESPONSE: My response was 100 percent honest. I hope that you appreciate my frank and honest reply [EMET]. You correctly stated: “People of all races, ethnicities, and creeds behave badly throughout history… Or whatever. No group of people ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Lydia on Mar 10, 18:40:

I'm highly doubtful that there would have been the slightest Jewish legal problem with their asking Pilate to have a Roman guard set. As Tim points out, they would not even be hiring the person. Also, for what it's worth, modern Jews, even those who are very Orthodox, *do indeed* ask Gentiles to do things on the Sabbath that they are not allowed to do. This can even be humorous. An ultraorthodox blog I used to read talked about having a "synagogue Gentile" who would come to your house and close your refri ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Tony on Mar 10, 18:16:

(I would also mention the question of whether the guards WOULD have been doing something forbidden to Jews because of Sabbath rules. I am not conversant with the particular rules, beyond the basic one of "not working". I can well imagine a modern lawyer arguing that the soldiers spent the entire day "standing around talking, dicing, and so on", nothing they actually did during that day constituted "work" so to speak. But this sounds less than highly plausible to me, and I would not strongly urge this ans ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Lydia on Mar 10, 13:08:

In response to Tim's point that goes like this, First, even supposing the objection to be fairly stated, there is no guarantee that the Jewish authorities would be particularly scrupulous in the matter of hiring a Roman guard to do their work, as they had already shown their willingness to hold a trial by night in prima facie violation of their own rules. we get this, To be one hundred percent honest, this statement makes me cringe. I must ask: Is it possible that this (Matthew’s account) is an invented ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Michael J. Alter on Mar 9, 20:05:

Hello Tim: First, once again, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to write your response to Vincent Torley’s initial post at The Skeptical Zone. In addition, thank you for writing: “ I am sorry indeed if anyone read this post as a direct engagement with Alter's 1000+ page book.” My concern was that it was possible that “some” of the readership at Lydia’s blog, What’s Wrong with the World, could, perhaps misinterpret your essay. Since Vincent’s essay was lengthy, it is definitely ... [More]

"Like nothing I've ever seen."

Comment posted by Bryan Zacharias on Mar 8, 17:12:

I am happy to see Jacques Vallee's name mentioned above. PLEASE read his several books on this matter. Vallee briefly in the 60's entertained the aliens and UFO's hypothesis: beings from other planets. But he did years of very meticulous, scientific research; and his conclusions were that the details do not support that conclusion. He absolutely affirmed that there are real sightings; but that much of the data shows this phenomena to be beyond what science alone, hard science, can explain. He lamented ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Tim on Mar 8, 16:45:

It should be obvious that I am responding to V. J. Torley's extensive summary essay, not to Michael Alter's book per se. I am sorry indeed if anyone read this post as a direct engagement with Alter's 1000+ page book. I am not even interested in engaging with all of Torley's summary, just the three points he specifically selected as test cases. I do assume here -- Alter is free to contest the assumption, and perhaps his closing remarks suggest that he would -- that Torley's summary is an accurate presentati ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Michael J. alter on Mar 8, 05:41:

Hello Tim and Lydia: Recently, Dr. S. Joshua Swamidass kindly sent me an e-mail providing information that Dr. Tim McGrew had published a guest post response to Vincent Torley’s review of my text, The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry (2015) in Lydia’s group blog: What’s Wrong With the World. First, I am honored that a respected, knowledgeable, and published authority has taken time out of his busy schedule to respond to Vincent Torley’s review of my text. Tim’s time is respected. Approximately, a week ago ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by David Madison on Mar 6, 02:52:

On reflection I think that a lot of things fall into place if we suppose that Pilate was sympathetic to Jesus. Firstly, all the Gospels say that Pilate was reluctant to have Jesus crucified. Secondly, the best explanation for a lot of the detail we have in the Passion narratives is that Pilate himself was the source. That is especially true of the dream of Pilate’s wife. Of course, Pilate could never publicly endorse Jesus: that would be political suicide. And we can't say that Pilate believed Jesus had ris ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by David Madison on Mar 5, 04:09:

Just to clarify, Pilate does not become a believer in the movie, although the official who questioned the guard does become a believer. What I meant was that Pilate becomes a believer in my hypothetical scenario. ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by David Madison on Mar 5, 02:30:

Tony, the problem which you are trying to ward off is that Pilate’s natural reaction would be to punish the soldiers. But what if the real problem is that Pilate would most likely have become a believer in Christ? Pilate was told about a strange dream his wife had of Jesus. Then there was the darkness at the crucifixion. Then he hears about Jesus’ body disappearing. Perhaps he questioned the guards and they told him what really happened. There is an interesting scene in the movie Risen in which one of the g ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Tony on Mar 5, 00:02:

David, as I implicitly suggested above, we need to keep in mind the distinction between what Pilate actually would believe, and what he would choose to act upon. If the priests and soldiers tried to say to Pilate "Nothing happened, the body is still there", Pilate could just ask for the proof - the body. So that's not available. If the soldiers said "some supernatural force came over us and took the body", while the priests said "they just fell asleep", Pilate would believe the priests and punish the ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by David Madison on Mar 3, 14:42:

There seem to be two issues concerning the behaviour of the authorities in the aftermath of the resurrection. The first is that the priests would hear what the guards had to say and immediately be convinced that Jesus was what he said he was. The second is that Pilate would never allow the guards to go unpunished. So it seems that the authorities must react in one of two ways: Either they take a hard line or they become believers. Real life is not so black and white. The priests and Pilate might continue to ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Tony on Mar 2, 17:52:

That's what I meant by pointing out that their alternatives were pretty poor. When they agreed to go along with the priests, they weren't so much agreeing that the priests were sure to convince Pilate to brush the whole thing under the rug, as that they had even less chance of convincing Pilate (against the priests' attempts) that angels or "gods" came and intervened. ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Tim on Mar 2, 16:59:

Tony, Did the soldiers need to believe it, or did they just have to believe that trusting the priests was the least bad of their options at that point? The body was already gone. They were in deep trouble no matter what. Under those circumstances, it would be better to have the priests as allies than to have no allies at all. ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Tony on Mar 2, 13:03:

We are not told whether the move to shield the soldiers worked; we are told only that this is how they were induced to acquiesce in the tale. That's quite true, Tim. Still, the soldiers had to believe the priests and leaders when they said they would handle Pilate, or at least believe that they could convinced Pilate. If even soldiers had no reason to think the priests/leaders could convince Pilate, they would not have willingly gone along with it. (On the other hand, their other alternatives were not a ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by David Madison on Mar 2, 12:02:

It might be worthwhile to address the suggestion which is sometimes made that neither Matthew nor his opponents had any knowledge of what really happened and that any debate about the reason for the empty tomb between the two sides is therefore insignificant. This idea follows naturally from the doubters’ favourite belief about the Gospels, which is that Mark may or may not have had some knowledge about Jesus but Matthew, Luke and John didn't have a clue and where they add details not found in Mark it is fr ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Tim on Mar 2, 09:51:

My point, it should be obvious, is that it was wildly improbable that a reality TV star of notorious moral laxity would become the Republican nominee, much less win the presidency. But to wander down Step2's bypath for a moment: https://religionnews.com/2019/01/18/trumps-evangelical-base-has-shrunk/ With that, we'll return to the actual subject that Step is artfully avoiding. ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Step2 on Mar 2, 08:14:

Donald Trump, anyone? Who still has very high approval ratings among evangelicals, despite a nearly constant barrage of deceptions, falsehoods, and "alternative facts". But let's not assume the same blatant disregard for truth among the early evangelicals (or their writers and/or editors) because it would disturb my personal sense of the discipline of history. ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by Tim on Mar 1, 21:30:

Tony, We are not told whether the move to shield the soldiers worked; we are told only that this is how they were induced to acquiesce in the tale. Many real events seem far less probable on their face than this. The career of Julius Caesar is an instance -- or far more incredibly, that of Napoleon Bonaparte. If we were allowed to use uncalibrated personal incredulity as a principle of inference, it would send a wrecking ball through the discipline of history, ancient and modern. Donald Trump, anyone? ... [More]

(Guest Post) Was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb?

Comment posted by David Madison on Mar 1, 15:53:

As far as I'm aware, there was no movement which began at the time when Callirhoe (Chariton’s heroine) supposedly lived. Since there was no movement, there was, of course, no opposition to the movement. There was no equivalent of Paul, who was beaten with rod and lash. If there had been, then it might have been difficult to make false claims about what happened to Callirhoe after she had been placed in the tomb. I suppose one might try to argue that the belief in the Resurrection (along with the opposition ... [More]