A ZEAL FOR GOD NOT ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE:

A Refutation of Judaism's Arguments Against Christianity

 

       By Eric V. Snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS IN BRIEF

 

 

I.     Introduction                                     11

 

II.    Historicity of the New Testament Defended:  The

       Bibliographical Test Applied                    22

 

III.   How External Evidence Confirms the New

     Testament        65

 

IV.    The Internal Evidence Test:  Does the New 

              Testament Contradict Itself?                                       110

 

V.     Did Paganism Influence Early Christianity?          153

 

VI.    Was Gnosticism the Source of Christian

              Doctrine?                                                                                             230     

 

VII.   The Messianic Texts Revisited                                     261

 

VIII.  How is a Man or Woman Saved?:  Judaism versus

       Christianity                                                                                     323

 

IX.    Is the New Testament’s Portrayal of First-

       Century Judaism Accurate?                       363

 

X.     Was Jesus God?                                                                               382

 

XI.    Appendix:  Jewish Versus Christian Tran-

              slations of the Messianic Texts                     422

         

XII.   Selected Bibliography                                                                 425                                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DETAILED TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

I.            INTRODUCTION                                                                                          11

Why Does This Debate Still Matter?          11

Methodology and Purposes          12

Christianity Proclaims It Has the Only Way to

     Salvation     14

Could There Be Only One True Religion?                        14

The Grim Record of “Christian” Anti-Semitism                        15

The Burden of the Holocaust                                                               16

The Sins of Christians Don’t Prove Jesus Was a False            Messiah                                                                                                          17

Why a Critique of Judaism as a Religious System Need 

            Not Be Anti-Semitic                                                                             17       

Books That Argue the Case for Judaism against

            Christianity                                                                                           19

Why a Refutation of Judaism’s Claims Remains Relevant

            Even Today                                                                                      20

 

II.  THE HISTORICITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT DEFENDED:  

THE BIBLIOGRAPHICAL TEST APPLIED                                                        22

Three Tests for Historical Reliability                                              22

The Bibliographical Test                                                                              23

Why More Manuscripts Is Better, Not Worse                          24

Textual Criticism Can Rule Out Most Variations                     25

The New Testament’s Shorter Time Gap                   26

Pagan Works Have Longer Time Gaps                      27

A Short Time Gap Increases Reliability                 28

How Acts Implies the New Testament Was Written

            Before C. A.D. 63              30

Major Parts of the New Testament Are in Manuscripts

            Older Than C. A.D. 325-350                        32

The Early Second-Century Fragment of John              33

The Battle Between the Received and Critical Texts

            of the New Testament                              36       

The Variations in the New Testament’s Text     37

The New Testament Was Not Subject to Much Oral

     Tradition     39

Oral Transmission in Jewish Culture     40

Problems with Form Criticism     42

The New Testament’s Eyewitness Testimony Undermines

            the Form Critics’ Arguments            44

Internal Evidence that Oral/Written Transmission

            Accurately Preserved Jesus’ Words            46

Ancient People Knew the Difference Between Truth

     and Fables     47

 

Further Internal Evidence for Believing in the New

     Testament     48

Why Should This Eyewitness Evidence Be Believed?     49

How Skepticism About Primary Sources Can Destroy

            One’s Own Arguments            50

Could Average People in Judea Have Spoken Greek? 51

The New Testament Was Not Written in a Highly

            Scholarly Greek            54

Did the Same Man Write the Gospel of Luke and Acts?            55

How the Semitic Constructions of the Gospels’ Greek

            Indicate No Later “Church Father” Wrote Them    56

Why Would the Aramaic- or Hebrew-Speaking Disciples

            Quote from a Greek Translation of the Old

            Testament?      57

How Can Anyone Be Certain That the Right Books Are

            in the New Testament?            58

Did the Catholic Church’s Hierarchy Determine the

            Canon from the Top-Down?             61

Persecution Helps Form the Canon  64

III.  HOW EXTERNAL EVIDENCE CONFIRMS THE NEW

            TESTAMENT 65

Pontius Pilate Versus the Argument from Silence 66

Ramsay Converted by Luke’s Historical Reliability            68

Further External Evidence for Luke’s Reliability            69

The Date of Christ’s Birth and the Census by

            Quirinius           70

Major Roman Censuses Did Happen            73

Tacitus’s Reference to Jesus    74

Other Early Pagan References to Christ   75

Pliny the Younger’s Mention of Early Christians            76

Justin Martyr’s Witness to Records about Jesus    77

The Controversy Surrounding Josephus’s Witness            78

How Josephus’s Testimony May Have Originally

            Appeared        80

Was Pontius Pilate Out of Character During Jesus’

            Trial?            81

The Political Reconstruction of Jesus’ Trial

            Reconsidered   82

Jesus Violated Jewish Law, Not Roman            85

Why Did Pilate Charge Jesus with a Crime If He

            Believed Jesus Was Innocent?            86

The Romans’ Indifference to Doctrinal Disputes Among

            the Jews     87

Did the New Testament Plagiarize from Josephus?            88

Did the New Testament Plagiarize from Old Testament

            Incidents?         89

Was Jesus Conceived or Born Illegitimately?            91

An Ancient Slander Examined:  Jesus Ben Panthera            91

Was Eusebius a Reliable Historian?            92

Two Reasons for the Basic Reliability of the Church’s

            Early Leaders            94

The Philosopher David Hume Versus Miracles            95

Some Basic Arguments against Hume’s Attacks on

            Belief in Miracles            97

How Can a Miracle Be “Proven”?            99

What Can Prove a Historical Event Really Happened?            99

Evidence from Hostile Sources that Jesus Could Do

     Miracles 100

The Fundamental Differences Between Pagan and

            Christian Miracle Accounts            102

Why Pagan Myths Are Intrinsically Unreliable

            Accounts of Miracles            104

One Way to Test Miracle Claims  105

The Difference in Miracle Accounts between the

            Gospels and the Pagan Myths   107

The External Evidence of Fulfilled Prophecy            108

 

IV.  THE INTERNAL EVIDENCE TEST APPLIED TO THE NEW

            TESTAMENT 110

Does an Addition or Subtraction of Detail Create a

            “Contradiction”?            110

“Contradictions” in Court Testimony?            111

Some Supposed “Contradictions” in the New Testament

            Examined        112

Rabbinical Judaism V. Stephen:  What Is the Verdict?            112

Did Abraham and Jacob Buy the Same Tomb? 113

How Many Died in a Plague?            114

Where Did Jacob Worship?            115

Was John the Baptist the Elijah to Come? 115

Did Matthew Misquote Zechariah?            116

Will There Be Animal Sacrifices in the Millennium?            117

How Did Judas Iscariot Die?            119

Are the Accounts of Paul’s Conversion Experience Contradictory?            121

Was Christ Wrong to Call the Pharisees “Fools”?            121

According to the Jewish Calendar, on What Date Was

            Jesus Crucified?            122

Are the Resurrection Accounts Contradictory?            123

The Resurrection Upsets the Old Paradigm            124

Did Mary Magdalene Touch Jesus or Not?    126

Are the Genealogies of Christ in Luke and Matthew Contradictory or False?            127

Foreshortened Genealogies            129

Was God’s Curse Against Jeconiah Lifted?  132

The Great Trilemma—Jesus Christ:  Lord, Liar, or

            Lunatic?          132

The “Poached Egg” Option Examined            133

Jesus’ Character Defended            134

Do the Sins of the Old Testament’s Heroes Invalidate

            It?            136

Was Paul a Deceiver?            137

The Problems of the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection            139

Why Denying the Tomb Was Empty Is Implausible            141

Were the Resurrection Appearances Hallucinations?            142

Did the Disciples Steal the Body?            144

The Swoon Theory Weighed and Found Wanting            145

How Is the Transformed Behavior of the Disciples to

            Be Explained Otherwise?            147

Good Evidence for the Apostles Being Given the Option

            to Avoid Dying for a Lie            148

Why the Counter-Example of the Mormon prophet Joseph

            Smith Proves Nothing            150

Conclusion:  Judaism’s Attacks on the New Testament’s

            Reliability Faulty            151

 

V.  DID PAGANISM INFLUENCE EARLY CHRISTIANITY?     153

The State of the Scholarly Climate of Opinion on the

            Christian/Pagan Tie            154

Fox’s Statement Against Seeing Parallels between

            Paganism and Christianity            156

Some Standard Differences Between Most Mystery

            Religions and Christianity            157

Ignoring Chronology to “Prove” Christianity’s

            Dependence on the Mysteries            159

Surface Similarities Do Not Prove Dependence            160

Maccoby’s General Technique Examined            161

The Need for Specificity when Comparing between

            Christianity and Paganism            163

What Meanings Did the First Christians Attribute to

            the Two Sacraments?            166

How Frazer’s Thesis and Terminology Forces Parallels

            between Christianity and Paganism            168

Frazer’s Bias against Christianity and Judaism            171

Differences Outweigh Similarities            172

Was Mithraism the Origin of Christian Baptism?            173

Is the Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) Pagan? 174

Did Paul Originate the Eucharist?            175

Did the Eucharist Come from the Cults of Mithra,

            Attis, or Demeter?            176

Mere Preexistence Doesn’t Prove Dependence            179

Did the Eucharist Originate in the Orgiastic Rites

            of Dionysus?            181

The True Religion as Both “Thick” and “Clear”            182

Was Jesus’ Birth Like Mithra’s or Hercules’s?            182

Did the Pagan “Savior-Gods” Die for the Same Reasons

            that Jesus Did?            183

How Dionysus’s and Jesus’ Deaths Differed            190

Was Orphism Like Christianity?            191

Was Osiris a Dying and Rising Savior-God?    193

What Kind of “Salvation” Did Osiris Bring His

            Devotees?       195

Egyptian Ritualistic Washings Not a Precedent for

            Christian Baptism            196

No Precedent in Initiation Rite for the Hellenistic

            Isis Cult      197

Did Firmicus Maternus Describe Gentiles Thinking

            Osiris or Attis Was a Savior? 197

Were the Beliefs of Christianity and the Cult of

            Attis Alike?  199

Were the Rites of the Hilaria Festival Precedents for

            Christian Practices?            201

What Did the Taurobolium Mean to the Attis Cult’s

            Devotees?       203

Were Paul’s Body Marks Like the Self-Castration Done

            by the Priests of Attis?            205

Was Adonis a Dying and Rising Savior God?    206

Did Initiates Identify Themselves with Their Mystery

            Gods’ Fate?    208

Is Calling Jesus “Lord” Pagan?            209

Ignoring Chronology in Order to Say Mithraism

            Influenced Early Christianity            211

Some Specific Ways Mithraism Differs from

            Christianity       212

Did Mithraism Originate in Persia? 214

Evidence for Mithraism’s Origin from Asia Minor, not

            Persia or India            215

More Evidence that Mithraism Was Weak in the First-

            Century Roman Empire             215

How Pagan Religions Could Have Borrowed Some from

            Christianity       216

Reasons for Faith:  Are the Parallels to Paganism

            Necessarily so Problematic?            218

Can Paganism Caricaturize the Truth?  220

Primeval Revelation:  Another Way Pagan Beliefs Could

            Be Like Christianity’s            222

Was Christ Like Krishna or Buddha?            223

Was Jesus’ Birth Like Buddha’s?            225

Is Christianity More Like Judaism or Like Paganism?            227

Christianity Did Not Depend on Pagan Religions for

            Its Doctrines:  A Summary            228

 

VI.  WAS GNOSTICISM THE SOURCE OF CHRISTIAN TEACHING?            230

Just What Is Gnosticism?            230

Problems with Maccoby’s Definition of Gnosticism            232

Was Plato a Proto-Gnostic?            234

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Its Possible

            Relationship to Gnosticism            237

Did Plato’s God Make a Good World and Directly

Create Mankind?     238

Does Gnosticism Successfully Jump the Chronological

            Hurdle?            239

Does Maccoby Prove Gnosticism Existed Before A.D.

            100?            240

Skepticism about Pre-Christian Gnosticism for

            Chronological Reasons            241

Late Sources Typically Used to Prove Pre-Christian

            Gnosticism       242

The Fundamental Shakiness of the Evidences for Pre-

            Christian Gnosticism            244

Does the Use of Jewish Sources Prove a Pre-Christian

            Gnosticism Existed?            245

Did Paul and the Gnostics Use the Same Word with the

            Same Meanings?            245

Is the Gospel of John Gnostic and/or un-Jewish in

            Its Thought?            247

 

Did Christianity Take the Concept of Logos from

            Hellenistic Philosophy?            249

Are Christian Doctrines Like Gnosticism’s?            251

Was Paul a Moderate Gnostic?            252

Did Paul Teach that the Angels Composed the Law?    254

Does Colossians 2 Attack or Promote Gnosticism?            256

Is It Gnostic to Use Types or Duality to Interpret

            Scripture?         258

Christianity’s Dependence on Gnosticism Unproven            260

 

VII.  THE MESSIANIC TEXTS REVISITED            261

What Is the Foundation of Faith in Jesus as the

            Messiah?         262

Why the Messianic Texts Aren’t the Sole Proof

            Ultimately for Christianity            262

What Types Are, and How They Differ from Direct

            Predictive Prophecy            263

The Primary and Secondary Meanings of the Messianic

            Texts            265

The Suggestive Type Found in Abraham’s Near Sacrifice

            of Isaac            265

Could Have the Old Testament Stood Alone Permanently

            as God’s Final Revelation?            266

 

Even Under the Old Covenant, God Could Accept

            Gentiles            268

How the Animal Sacrifices Indicate the Old Testament

            Wasn’t a Final Revelation             270

The Duality Principle of Interpreting Scripture

            Defended        270

Old Testament Prophets Can Suddenly Change Subjects

            and Time Periods Without Warning            272

Does Micah 5:2 Have to Refer to a Family/Clan Instead

            of a Specific Place?            274

The Literal and Eternal Preexistence of the Messiah

            Shows He Must Be God     275

Did Matthew Quote Hosea 11:1 Out of Context?            276

David as a Type (Forerunner) of Christ in Psalm 22        277

Did the Original Hebrew Have “They Pierced My Hands

            and My Feet”?  279

The Psalms Were Reliable in the Septuagint            280

Are Psalms 16 and 69 Typological Only?   281

Is Psalm 68 Messianic?            282

Will Jerusalem’s Inhabitants One Day Look upon the

            God They Pierced?            284

Does Deuteronomy 18:15, 18 Refer to One Prophet or

            Many?            285

Psalm 110 and David’s Lord Being the Messiah            286

Does Isaiah 7:14 Refer to Jesus’ Birth?            287

What Does the Word Translated “Virgin/Young Woman”

            Really Mean?  288

The Use in Hebrew of the Past Tense/Perfect State in

            Prophetic Predictions            290

Isaiah 9:6:  The Child Is “Mighty God”            292

Zechariah 11:13:  Was Jehovah Worth Thirty Shekels?            294

Psalm 2:7-9:  Who Is the Son Who Comes to Conquer?            295

The Duality of II Samuel 7:14            296

Jeremiah 31:15-17:  When Did Rachel Do Her Weeping?            297

Genesis 3:15:  What Was the Seed of the Woman            298

Zechariah 13:7:  The Shepherd Who Was Struck Instead

            of the Sheep   299

Just Who Is the “Servant” in Isaiah?  Jesus or

            Israel?            299

The Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52-53 Points to an

            Individual, not Israel            301

The Individualistic, Personal Language Describing the

            Servant            305

Did the Servant Have Offspring?            307

Did Jews Always Believe Isaiah 52-53 Was about

            Israel?            307

Was Jesus Anointed to Be the Messiah?            308

The Mournful and Conquering Messiahs            309

Did Some Jews Believe in Two Messiahs?            311

The Dead Sea Scrolls Reveal Other Jewish

            Interpretations of the Messiah            312

Genesis 49:10 and the Timing of the Messiah’s Arrival  313

How and When Did the Scepter Depart from Judah?  314

The Second Temple and the Messiah’s Arrival  315

The Seventy Weeks Prophecy Predicts When the Messiah

            Would Come   316

The Inserted Punctuation in Biased Jewish Tran-

            Slations of Daniel 9:25            318

The Incorrect Dates Used to Explain Away the Seventy

            Weeks Prophecy            320

The Battle Between Two Schools of Prophetic

            Interpretation Over Dan. 9:24-27            321

Summary:  Jesus of Nazareth Is the Messiah Predicted

            by the Old Testament            321

VIII.  HOW IS A MAN OR WOMAN SAVED?:  JUDAISM VERSUS

            CHRISTIANITY            323

The Theory of Atonement:  Why Did Jesus Have to Die?            323

Did Jesus Have to Be God in Order to Save Humanity?            325

The Governmental Theory of Atonement             327

The Implications for the Ground of the Atonement in

            the Story of Zaleucus            328

 

The Torah Doesn’t Make Animal Sacrifices Optional

            for Sinners 328

Vicarious Atonement Defended            330

Repentance and Sacrifice Are Both Necessary for an

            Efficacious Atonement            331

The Torah Never Made Sacrifice Optional for Gaining

            Atonement        332

Did Jesus Commit Suicide?            335

How Valuable Are Good Works without a Correct

            Relationship with God?    336

Judaism’s Excessive Confidence in Obeying the Law by

            Human Self-Effort            337

The Holy Spirit Helps Christians to Obey God’s Law     340

Christian Soteriology Vs. Self-Esteem?            341

Galatians 3:10 and the Curse of the Law            343

Is the Christian God a “Sadist”?            344

Free Will Versus Human Depravity?            346

Did Judaism Believe Man Had an Evil Human Nature?     349

Did Paul Teach Repentance?            351

Are All Christians Calvinists?            352

Did God Create Moral Evil?     353

Satan Corrupted Himself 355

Does Christianity Provide Cheap Grace? 357

Imputed and Imparted Righteousness Are Both Needed            359

 

Why Christianity’s Soteriology Is Superior to

Judaism’s            361

 

IX.  IS THE NEW TESTAMENT’S PORTRAYAL OF FIRST-

            CENTURY JUDAISM ACCURATE?            363

The Talmud Characterized            364

Were Jews and Gentiles Supposed to Eat Separately

            According to Jewish Law?    366

Laws Separating Jew from Gentile in the Talmud            367

What Is to Be the Final Authority?  Tradition or

            Scripture?         368

Jesus Versus the Pharisees over the Oral Law’s

            Authority         370

Legalism Run Amuck:  Rabbinical Judaism’s Sabbath

            Regulations       371

Did the Oral Law Prohibit Healing on the Sabbath?            373

Why Legalism Is Spiritually Problematic            374

How Old Is the Oral Law?            376

Were the Pharisees Always Good Patriots?            377

Were the Pharisees Self-Righteous?            379

Negative Portrayals of the Pharisees Found Even in

            Jewish Writings            380

 

The New Testament’s Portrayal of First-Century

            Judaism Is Accurate            381

 

X.  WAS JESUS GOD?            382

Applying Deductive Theology to Scriptural Evidence

            Bearing on Jesus’ Deity            383

Plural Verbs and Participles that Refer to God     383

Genesis 1:26 Remains an Obstacle to Unitarianism            384

Does the Plural of Majesty Render Genesis 1:26

            Ambiguous?     384

The Plural of Majesty Is a Hoax!   385

Is Yahweh One yet Plural?            386

Psalms 45:6-7 Implies Unitarianism Is False    387

Yahweh Sends Yahweh            388

Yahweh Delivers Israel by Yahweh?            388

The Shema’s Use of Echad Supports the Christian

            Understanding of God            389

Moses Maimonides Uses Yachid in Creed   390

How God is One yet Is More than One Person  390

The Old Testament’s Theophanies Versus Unitarianism            392

When the Messenger of Jehovah Is Jehovah!            393

The Gospel of John Proves Jesus Is God            395

Jehovah’s Witnesses on John 1:1            395

 

Why Would John Omit the Article in John 1:1’s Third

            Clause?            397

Jesus’ Uniquely Close Relationship with the Father            400

Jesus Identifies Himself as Yahweh            402

How to Rationalize the Stones Thrown at Jesus            403

Did Jesus’ Fellow Jews Misunderstand Him?    403

The Apostle Thomas’s Affirmation of Jesus’ Deity            404

Jesus Could Forgive Sins by His Own Authority            405

Jesus Was Worshiped            406

Jesus Was the Creator             408

The Alpha and the Omega            408

Paul Affirms Jesus Is God            408

Sharp’s Rule Versus Unitarianism            409

Messianic Texts and Jesus’ Deity            411

One John 5:20 and Other Texts Likely Supporting

            Jesus’ Deity    411

A Doxology Shows “God” Means “God”            412

The Blood of God     413

Does the Word “God” Have More than One Meaning?            415

Does Revelation 3:14 Prove Jesus Was Created?            315

How Was the Father Greater than Jesus?            416

Did Jesus Deny His Deity?            417

Jesus Was “the First-Born of All Creation”            418

Summary:  Jesus Is God!            419

The Problems with Judaism’s Case against Chris-

            tianity Summarized            420

 

APPENDIX:  JEWISH VERSUS CHRISTIAN TRANSLATIONS OF

            THE MESSIANIC TEXTS            422

 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY       425