Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter Crocuses

Every year, I try to take some crocus photos.It's always a bit of a mugs game as the weather tends to alternate between high winds and rain at this time of year. On Easter Sunday, however,  it was sunny, and the winds let up just enough to try taking a few pictures. That was good because it has been either bleak or rainy ever since, and the little darlings may fade and wilt before any more opportunities arise.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Omissions, Discrepancies and Contradictions within the Crucifixion Narratives

Mothers hide your children as this is a follow-up post to my crucifixion piece. There was a little interlude of a Danica post between the two. This is a continuation of my amateurish analysis of the four gospel accounts: this one highlighting the differences.


Not all differences from one gospel to another are problematic for me even though I formerly believed in the inerrancy of scripture. I can even accept outright contradictions, for one can certainly believe that God is revealed through the bible without believing that every word is 'God-breathed'. 

Following are three lists of what I see as omissions, discrepancies and contradictions within the four crucifixion narratives. Keep in mind that this is all from one layman's reading and not from a biblical scholar's perspective; therefore, there may be errors. I leave it up to the reader to determine whether there is any merit to this analysis.

The first of my three lists contains seemingly significant omissions from at least one gospel.
  • When the gang came to take Jesus from the garden, only in John do they fall backwards when he says. "I am he." This seems like a glaring omission from the three gospels that were written earlier.
  • Only in Luke does an angel appear when Jesus is praying, and only in Luke does Jesus sweat blood. These are astounding occurrences to omit.
  • Only Luke has Jesus seeing Annas before seeing Caiaphas, and he also has Jesus going to Herod between two trips to Pilate.
  • Matthew is the only gospel writer to report an earthquake occurring when Jesus died and graves being opened with ghosts (my word) walking about. If such an astounding event had actually occurred, one would be entitled to think that everyone would have known and that it most certainly would have been reported by all four writers as well as in external, non-biblical sources.
  • His side was only pierced in one gospel – John.
  • Jesus only [apparently] re-attaches the severed ear in Luke. It seems like an extraordinary fact for the other writers to omit.

This next list contains discrepancies, some of which seem very difficult to reconcile although I know that some people manage it.
  • The cock crowed twice as in Mark and only once in the other gospels.
  • The inscriptions on the cross were all different: The King of the Jews (Mark); This is Jesus the King of the Jews (Matthew); This is the King of the Jews (Luke); and, Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews (John). The first three could probably be fit together by asserting that Matthew recorded the whole message and the Mark and Luke just mentioned a part of it. That seems odd for such an important fact, but it's possible. I don't see how, one could easily fit John's "Jesus of Nazareth" into that, but I do find it slightly plausible.
  • Did the soldiers throw lots for the garments (plural) as in Matthew and Mark, or did they part them into 4 and only throw lots for the cloak (singular) as in John? Just how many garments did Jesus have that they could be divided into four plus a separate cloak? Wouldn't his cloak have been a bloody mess and not the prize that it seemed to be?
  • Jesus was offered vinegar near his expiration in Mark, and seemingly just before being crucified in Matthew. He did not seem to drink the concoction in either case. However, in John, he did appear to drink just before the end. I suppose He could have been offered three times — early on in Matthew and twice later, once in Mark when he refused and a second time in John when he drank — but it seems improbable.
  • The Centurion, could have said, "Truly, this was the son of God," (Mark, Matthew) and also say, in Luke, that Jesus was righteous, but it doesn't strike me as likely.
  • It seems odd that there was no discussion with the thieves in Mark but that they [both] mocked Him in Matthew, and that one was pro and the other was con in Luke. Luke also has Jesus telling the 'good' thief that he would meet with Him in paradise that very day. These accounts seem almost contradictory, and it doesn't seem like something that Mark and Matthew would leave out had they known of the exchange. And why wouldn't they have known?
  • Was Jesus rather taciturn before Pilate as in the synoptic gospels, or did he get into more of a conversation as reported in John?

Finally, I seem to spot three seemingly irreconcilable contradictions although I am sure that apologists have managed the feat somehow. I begin with the most innocuous of the three points and end with what I consider to be the most profound contradiction.
  • The robe was purple in Mark and John but scarlet in Matthew. I don't feel that it is as crucial as the timing issue of the next point, but it certainly doesn't support the belief that many have in the inerrancy of scripture.
  • In Matthew and Mark, Jesus predicts Peter's denials in Olives, but in Luke He does it before, at the supper. It doesn't seem likely that both can be true.
  • Jesus was with Pilate at the sixth hour in Luke but on the cross at that time in both Mark and Matthew. In fact in both of those accounts, Jesus was on the cross in the third hour. This seems significant to me.
As I have already stated, I don't feel that scripture must be seen to be inerrant for people to be Christians and to believe in God and Jesus. However, I do find it highly improbable that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy can be satisfactorily supported.

Edit: After readying the above for posting, I came across this graphic. I find it humorous. I hope you take it in that spirit, for I am not intending to be sacrilegious.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Danica's Seventh Birthday

It's the girl's birthday, and this is the collage that I made for her. There is a little portait of her in every month from last April through this March. She's a gem, this one is: full of life, energy, fun, brains, personality and disposition.

This was last year's collage: kind of Danica through the years as opposed to one year. Who knows what the theme will be next year? (I didn't realize that I began this years collage with the same photo with which I ended last year's.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Examining the Crucifixion Narratives

(I am not doing my usual light and easy photo blog for the next two posts. I understand if this is not your cup of tea and if you wish to move along.)

I was as close to being born an evangelical Christian as anybody can be, and I still find myself fascinated with the origins of Christianity. A number of questions interest me. What did the earliest Christians believe? How did the doctrines develop? How did the bible come to us? How do the four gospel writers tell their stories, and how do they compare with each other?

So it was that, with Good Friday and Easter approaching, I decided to read the four gospel crucifixion narratives to see how similar or dissimilar they might be. I did not make this into a painstaking academic effort. I merely read the accounts twice, jotting a brief outline as I read. I then listed my findings in four parallel columns to facilitate comparison.

I found that the story is told most completely in the three synoptic gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – but John's later account also follows a similar outline, leaving some things out and adding others. There is no question that the narratives agree that Jesus is betrayed and sent to the high priest and then to Pilate before being crucified. Some events are omitted in some of the gospels, and I do not, necessarily, consider omissions to be discrepancies as you and I would likely tell the same story differently. I do think there are also actual discrepancies, however.

Following, is the gist of the story as more or less agreed to by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and sometimes John. I am telling it clinically in brief précis form, trying to stick to the common facts (which is sometimes difficult to do). I am not attempting to conflate the four accounts into one narrative as is usually the case when telling the crucifixion story, but I am trying to highlight the points on which they agree. Therefore, it becomes quite a 'bare bones' recounting. Even trying to stick to the common points, I sometimes find myself writing that such and such occurred in just some of the gospels because it seems necessary to avoid huge gaps in the account. I am also assuming in that most people are familiar enough with the narrative that I can be terse in the way that I lay it out.

Here is my summary.

A Last Supper was kept, probably in an upper room, during which Jesus ceremoniously broke bread and offered wine in the tradition that churches still, more or less, follow today. Jesus also predicted his impending betrayal by Judas although he was not named, but seemingly implied in Matthew. After the supper, Jesus and His followers went to the mount of Olives. It was here that Jesus predicted Peter's denial in Matthew and Mark, although Luke has Him declaring this earlier, at the supper. John also recounts the denials and the cock crowing , but he doesn't mention an earlier prediction.

In the garden, Jesus went apart from Peter, James and John to pray that "this cup" would pass from Him. Matthew and Mark have him praying and returning to the sleepy disciples three times. Luke doesn't mention the number of times that Jesus went back and forth, but He does have Jesus sweating blood and an angel appearing to Him.

In all of the gospels, Judas appears with a gang of the high priest's men to arrest Jesus, and he indentifies Jesus by kissing Him in each of Matthew, Mark and Luke. An unidentified someone cuts off the ear of one of the priest's men in three gospels (Peter did it in John), but only in Luke does Jesus, seemingly, re-attach it.

Jesus is then taken to the High Priest where He, apparently, chooses to say little. He does say enough to irritate Caiaphas, however, so he has Jesus flogged and beaten. It is during this time that Peter was asked three times about his connection with Jesus in all of the accounts. He denied it each time, and when the cock crowed (twice in Mark, and once in the other gospels), Peter became understandably upset when he realized what he had done.

Jesus was then sent along to Pilate and said very little according to the synoptic gospels but had a bit of a conversation in John. In all gospel accounts, Pilate offers Barabbas before giving Jesus over for beating and mocking, which included a robe and the crown of thorns in all versions except Luke's. He is taken to be crucified at Golgotha (named in three accounts). There was a sign placed over His head, and He was crucified alongside two men, identified as thieves (or at least bad guys) in three gospels. He, eventually, cries out and dies, whereupon a centurion expresses a certain wonderment. This occurred in unnatural darkness in Matthew and Mark, and these two gospels also report that the veil in the temple was torn in two.

Joseph of Arimathaea collected the body and laid it in a sepulchre.

 I will attempt to highlight the differences among the four accounts in my next post.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sleepover Fun with Danica

It had been quite awhile since her last sleepover, so we were all pretty ready for it on the weekend.

Shortly after her arrival on Saturday afternoon, we headed to the chip truck for supper. This was our first visit to the truck this season. The weather has been bad up until now, and the truck has only been back in business for a few days.

We still have a bedtime story when she's here and sometimes if I happen to be there. On this night, we read one of James Herriot's stories — about Blossom the old cow who decided that she wasn't ready to go to the knackers.

On Sunday, before taking her back home, we stopped at Tim Hortons for a snack. She decided that this was a good time to play with my hat.

What fun!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What I Do for Two Bucks

I have probable tossed a few coke cartons with the $2 coupon on the inside, but decided to extract one. They don't make it easy.

It's in there somewhere; all I have to do is look. ↓

They don't make it easy. ↓

Success at last. ↓

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Olde Barn

I happened upon a folder yesterday looking for a particular picture but soon got sidetracked by the first couple of photos below that I had ignored previously; I never did get around to doing what I had originally intended to do. The others I had processed earlier, and I probably also posted some of them previously.

While the house on the property is nothing much to look at, most of the outbuildings is somewhat photographic: the garage, the red barn, the planer mill, and the old barn (the one in this series). These are all of the old, unpainted barn.

These photos are all from out August visit and have been processed with different styles, particularly the first and seventh of the series, which I did as sort of an old, distressed b&w. My faves are probably the second and fourth photos.

These are some other old barn photos that were lying about. There are more, but these were at hand, and I thought that I might as well include them.