Sunday, June 27, 2010

295: The Passion of the Christ (Bullshit Edition) & Mark: In Review

Mark 15-16
"Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either." - Mark 16:12-13

I'm not going to talk too much about chapter 15, because it's (for the most part) exactly the same as Matthew. In fact, the only changes I see are changes of omission on Mark's part (or additions on Matthew's part, as I'm reminded every day).

Here's a quick review: Jesus is taken before Pilate where the people choose to free Barabbas over Jesus. Jesus is mocked by the guards and given his crown of thorns. Jesus is then crucified and mocked by everyone (including both thieves crucified with him). Jesus then dies and the temple curtain is ripped.

The last paragraph of chapter 15 is where we start going off the deep end.

First of all, we are finally told which day Jesus died. Mark says that Jesus died, and was buried on the preparation day (the day before the Sabbath). If you've been reading this blog for a couple of weeks you'll remember that I told you to keep Matthew 12:40 in mind. For those that have forgotten:
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Three full days, three full nights. Now, at the beginning of chapter 16, Mark says that the Marys visited Jesus's tomb on the morning of the day after the sabbath. So Jesus was only buried from the night before the sabbath, to the morning after the sabbath. That's only two nights and one full day by my count. Jesus isn't quite batting a thousand on his self prophecy.

Before I get too far, I want to mention a glaring omission. Mark never says there were any guards at Jesus's tomb. And obviously if there are no guards there is also no seal on the tomb (not that it made much of a difference in Matthew). Even worse, when the Marys get to the tomb in Mark's account, there isn't even an angel there. There is just some guy saying that Jesus is gone and resurrected, and that they should go meet him in Galilee.

Then my bible says something strange, "[The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20]". Excuse me? So in the earliest (read "most accurate") manuscripts, the chapter ends here? Nobody even witnessed Jesus after his miraculous resurrection?

Lets read the part that, the bible admits, was added later. Jesus first appears to Mary Magdalene, who tells the others. They (for some reason) don't believe her. Isn't this exactly what Jesus said would happen, shouldn't they be expecting his return?

Then Jesus appears "in a different form" to two of his disciples. What the hell does that mean? Meaning he looked like someone else? That's strangely consistent with that being someone else. Then Jesus appears to the eleven and calls them faithless idiots (good ol' Jesus), and gives them some instructions. He tells them to go around and spread the good news to all of creation, and whoever believes will be "saved". Jesus goes on to say that those who believe will also speak in tongues, drive out demons, pick up snakes, and drink poison without being harmed.

So that's where these nutjobs get the speaking in tongues/handling snakes. Why aren't any churches telling their members to drink a few cc's of arsenic? If you're going to handle poisonous snakes why not go all out? Maybe they're discouraged by the 71 people that have died handling snakes during religious ceremonies. Of course, those people probably just didn't believe hard enough.

Jesus then promptly ascends to heaven. So let me get this right. First, the early manuscripts have Jesus appearing to no one. Then, even when people start adding things, they only have him appearing to his disciples? Well if that's all it takes, then I'm getting together with 10 of my friends and getting Pastafarianism going.

Mark: In Review
Other than being a witness to the contradictions in the bible, I'm not sure why Mark exists. Of course, I would say the same thing if I had read Matthew first. It seems like one of these books should have been thrown out for consistency's sake.

I'm not sure what people are thinking when they say there is no such thing as biblical contradiction. Put these books (Mark and Matthew) side by side and read them straight through. If there are even small differences (there are big differences) then the bible has contradictions.

There's not to much else to say, all the major events I could review have already been talked about in Matthew.

Is God really bad for punishing people?
Imagine for a moment that you’re 8 years old. You have a brother who’s a year older, and the two of you have a wonderful dad. This dad gives you all the things you need. He’s funny, affectionate, wise, caring, generous, kind, and all the things you could ever want in a dad. Now suppose you and your brother are playing around in your room one day, and he hits you so hard it makes you cry.

The good father runs in to find out what happened, but when you tell him your brother hit you, he just shrugs his shoulders. You ask him what he’s going to do about your brother’s bad behavior, and he says, “I can’t do anything to your brother. I’m too good and kind to punish him. He might not like it.” How do you feel about your dad now? Do you still think he’s such a great dad? Of course not. But, as illogical as it is, that’s what some people think about God. He’s too good and loving and kind and caring to punish anyone, so hell couldn’t possibly be real.
Of course a good father would not do nothing. And that's not what I'm suggesting God should do either. But let's take this metaphor to it's conclusion. By the writer's definition of a "good father", the father should take the offending son, throw him in the basement, pour gasoline down the stairs, light his son on fire, and let him burn for eternity. Where has God handled punishment any other way?

As a side note, what is God doing right now to punish people? Nothing that I can see. Which is exactly the bad situation the writer just described. People get away with brutal theft/rape/murder/genocide every day. Where is our "good father" when we need him?
In fact, God’s love for everybody is the reason he showed mercy by sending Jesus Christ to die for sin. In Christ, God offers the only way for a person to escape God’s justice. That’s good news.
Huh? The "good father" puts loopholes in his own justice system? Has the writer completely forgotten the metaphor he started with? The father must have had a third son who he crucified so that the other two wouldn't have to receive any punishment. But isn't that right back where we started, with the father doing no punishment at all?

If this is what a "good father" is, I'll go with a bad one (can't be any worse).


  1. "or additions on Matthew's part, as I'm reminded every day"

    It's nice to see that my message is getting through.

    Mark 15

    Mark 15:2. The NIV translation is faulty here, so I'm going to quote the "English Standard Version": "You have said so." Note that Jesus doesn't affirm or deny the accusation. This is why in Mark 15:4 Pilate says, "Aren't you going to answer?," and then in Mark 15:5 it says, "but Jesus still made no reply." Jesus gives the same noncommittal answer in Matt 27:11, Matt 26:64, and in some manuscripts of Mark 14:62a.

    Mark 15:5. As I observed last time, the idea that Jesus remained silent came from Psalms 38 and 39.

    Mark 15:6-8. When I commented upon Matt 27 I already pointed out the historical implausibility of Pilate being willing to release a notorious criminal such as (Jesus) Barabbas. Mark even tells us what Brabbas' crime was: insurrection. Would Pilate really release a man who was leading a rebellion against Roman rule? Of course not - that was just about the most serious crime that they would be concerned to prevent. Jesus was small fry by comparison.

    Mark 15:11-14. How could the chief priests have turned the people against Jesus so quickly and thoroughly, considering that Mark has just been telling us repeatedly how popular Jesus was and how the chief priests feared to arrest him because of his support among the crowd? If they could get the people to turn against him so easily, why were they worried in the first place? Why did they even need Pilate?

    Note also that while Mark 15:11says that the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have them release Barabbas, this doesn't explain why the crowd would demand that Jesus be crucified. Matthew spotted this problem and added "and to have Jesus executed" to Matt 27:20 (although this still doesn't explain how the chief priests were able to do so).

    Mark 15:15. No explanation is given as to why Pilate was beholden to the crowd. When one reads the litany of outrages he visited upon the Jews (according to Josephus), it doesn't seem that he held such a concern for Jewish opinion of him. He was appointed by Rome, not elected by the Jews.

  2. you're a perfect example of when PHILOSOPHY becomes an ENEMY OF LIFE...

    not quite samantha with her *supernatural spit*, eh?

    this isn't one of your little WORD GAMES...

    blasphemy is a DEATH SENTENCE

    you people actually BELIEVE the BS you preach!

    GOD 1 - atheists 0


    Repent and turn to God or be destroyed...


    my interpretation of the STATUE FIRE... it symbolizes the SPIRITUAL DEATH of atheism...,0,4295974.story


    we do like your music Lady Gaga, but...

    The B**BQUAKE - 911

    Let me show you the FATE OF TRAITORS...

    they are incapable of telling the difference between SCIENTIFIC *FACT* AND

    they also preach a *VALUE FREE SCIENCE* called *POSITIVISM* that ignores the
    inequalities of wealth and power in capitalist civilization...

    for a sample taste of PZ Myers' GARBAGE...



    what happens when you LOSE Pascal's Wager...

    the blood and bodies of the atheist movement...

    you mofos killed MICKEY MOUSE!!!!

    this has more TRUTH then what Dawkins, Randi, Harris, Myers, and Shermer
    combined have said in their entire lives...!v=5R2wE8Sduhs&playnext_from=TL&videos=hht1U_19anc&feature=rec-LGOUT-exp_fresh%2Bdiv-1r-3-HM

    they tried to BULLDOZE the entire METAPHYSICAL DIMENSION...
    they LOST THE WAR......

    you have FORFEIT YOUR SOUL, shermer... you have become an object in the material world, as you WISHED...

    we're gonna smash that TV...

    They had become ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE AND OF GOD...

    you pushed too much and *CROSSED THE LINE*

    degenerates (PZ) or children (HEMANT) - ATHEISTS!

    do you have anything to say, you STUPID LITTLE F*CKER?

    how about I tell you, Mr. Shermer, EVERYTHING YOU THINK ABOUT THE WORLD is

    THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!


    the 9th and FINAL RING of Dante's Inferno is designed for little blaspheming traitors like you...

    but at least FREE AIR CONDITIONING is included!

  3. Actually, the really interesting part is that the earliest manuscripts have a young man who is not named (taken to be an angel by Matthew and others) telling the women that Jesus will meet his followers in Galilee but the women are so afraid they run off and never tell anyone. And that's where it ends. I like that some modern commentors like to link the young man at the tomb with the young man who runs off naked at Jesus's arrest. Because WTF is up with the naked guy anyway? It should mean something.

    Lots of folks don't like that the oldest manuscripts just end abruptly with "and they left and never told anyone what they saw" so they refuse to believe that's where the story actually ends and insist that the original ending is missing. I personally think that Mark is a parable and that it's intentionally written as a riddle and that the abrupt ending is part of that. It was later taken as "historical" and Matthew and Luke rewrote it with an assumption that Mark was talking about history (and they cleaned some things up that they didn't like - like the whole cursing the fig tree for not having figs out of season thing that makes Jesus look like an ass).

    As for why it's included along with Matthew - it's a long story but it basically boils down to "independent witnesses". The early Church insisted that "Matthew" and "Mark" were witnesses who constructed their Gospels independently from one another. "Matthew" was supposedly written by the apostle Matthew from his memories, while "Mark" was supposedly written by Peter's secretary Mark from stories Peter had told him. ("Luke", BTW, was supposedly written by Paul's physician Luke and "John" by the apostle John). The early Church insisted all four gospels were independent witnesses and could therefore be used to support one another factually.

    I'm looking forward to your take on Luke, because Luke also made use of Mark and either another source that Matthew also used (called "Q") or used Matthew directly along with Mark. Either way, there's a lot of repetition you're going to see, but a huge whopping amount of differences. The nativity stuff is sufficiently different from Matthew that your reaction should be amusing...

  4. Mark 16

    Mark 16:1. Why did they wait 2 days to anoint the body? It would already be rotting. Why didn’t they do this when Jesus was buried in the tomb? And why didn’t they think about what they were going to do about the large stone blocking the entrance before they went there. Are Jesus’ female followers just as stupid as his male ones?

    Note that Matthew (in 28:1) can’t use this excuse for the women to visit the tomb since it supposedly had a Roman guard posted and had been tightly sealed. So why do they go? Just to take a look at the tomb, according to him.

    Mark 16:4. Even if the stone was large, Joseph of Arimathea was able to roll it into place by himself, so probably several men could roll it back. Thus the fact that it was rolled away, 2 days after Jesus was buried, in a tomb where his followers knew he was buried (indeed, in a tomb owned by one of his disciples), doesn’t provide much evidence that he was resurrected, as opposed to his followers, or anyone else, just stealing his body. Matthew recognized this problem and so invented that comical (as I pointed out before) story about the Roman guards.

    Mark 16:5. Who is this mysterious man in a white robe? An angel? The man from Mark 14:51? Jesus himself? It’s impossible to say, and Mathew weren’t sure either, since he has both an angel and Jesus speak his lines. In Mark, he is sitting inside the tomb, whereas in Matthew he is outside, sitting on the entrance stone.

    Mark 16:8. Here we come to perhaps the most significant line of this Gospel, the last one. (As even the Bible now admits, the rest was added much later.) “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

    So if the women said nothing to anyone about this, how does Mark know about it? Simple, he made it up, just like he did the rest of the story. It’s pretty obvious throughout mark’s Gospel that this is a work of fiction – we read how different people are thinking, private conversations that no one else could’ve witnessed, etc. Mark clearly speaks to the reader in an number of places – the point of the Gospel is to send a message to reader, not give an historical record of Jesus’ life.

    The fact that Mark ends the story this way shows that no resurrection appearances were known to him, or anyone else at the time (which we’ll see when we get to Paul’s letters). Moreover, the idea that Jesus had been bodily resurrected must’ve also been a late development, so the fact that the women didn’t tell anyone would explain why other people were just hearing about it through Mark’s Gospel for the first time.

    Obviously this ending was unsatisfactory to later Christians, so they started adding new endings, including the rest of Mark 16. Mark 16:9-14 is a crude harmonization of elements we find in the other 3 Gospels, whereas Mark 16:17 is based on passages in Acts.

    Mark 16:17-18. It is ironic that snake handling and speaking in tongues are based on spurious verses that weren’t even in the Gospels. Then again, the original stories are just as much b.s. anyway, so I suppose it doesn’t really make much of a difference.

    Mark 16:16,16:20. This contradicts the fact that Jesus said that no sign would be given to his generation.

  5. Bryan,
    You ask why Mark was even included? It's a good question, and we're lucky that it was, considering it was ignored for a long time after it was written, since Matthew's Gospel was much preferred, for obvious reasons. What we have in Mark is almost a first edition of Matthew. But it crucial for textual criticism, because it allows us to see how the story was developed, what were each author's sources and how he modified them to suit his agenda. For literary criticism, Mark's Gospel is the most important because it the only one that contained the original idea of the story - the rest of the Gospels are just revisions (albeit, sometimes radical ones, as in the case of John). Finally, the ending of Mark is key, too, for demonstrating conclusively that there were no witnesses to any such resurrection.

  6. Strictly speaking, certain snakes are venomous, not poisonous, and you can drink venom without being harmed so long as you don't have any cuts inside your mouth. The stuff only works when it's injected into the blood.

    The ancient people who may or may not have seen people do this would have likely thought it was divine protection, but it's really just simple zoology.



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