Thursday, 30 September 2010

Continuing with the Epistles:

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is mostly to welcome them as Gentiles and as previous outsiders to the faith of the Jews. He tells them to be worthy of this honour.

This is what he says about women preaching (there are comments about this in later epistles too):
Ephesians 4: 17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 
26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Again the fornication:
5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
Women to submit:
5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Children to obey parents:
6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

He says that Jesus wasn’t concerned about making himself into a god, and didn’t bother with his reputation. He’s saying here that people must be subservient to authority.
2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke,in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
And again about circumcision:
3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Who is Clement?
3:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Clement was pope in the last decade of the First Century,  and, according to this website, he was the author of this epistle. This poses the question, if Paul died sometime in the 60s, how old was Clement, when Paul was writing about him, or was this, conveniently, some other Clement, because Paul had been dead for close of 30 years when this Clement was the bishop at Rome? I'll have to do more research on this.

This epistle is addressed to the people of Colossae, an ancient city in Phrygia which has never been excavated. Paul writes to them, explaining his new religion to them. 
Their traditional worship included this god:
Attis: mythical consort of the Great Mother of the Gods (classical Cybele, or Agdistis); he was worshipped in Phrygia, Asia Minor, and later throughout the Roman Empire, where he was made a solar deity in the 2nd century AD. The worship of Attis and the Great Mother included the annual celebration of mysteries on the return of the spring season. Attis, like the Great Mother, was probably indigenous to Asia Minor, adopted by the invading Phrygians and blended by them with a mythical character of their own. According to the Phrygian tale, Attis was a beautiful youth born of Nana, the daughter of the river Sangarius, and the hermaphroditic AgdistisAttis, Agdistis struck him with frenzy as he was about to be married, with the result that Attis castrated himself and died. Agdistis in repentance prevailed upon Zeus to grant that the body of the youth should never decay or waste. Other versions also exist, but they all retain the essential etiological feature, the self-castration.
Attis was fundamentally a vegetation god, and in his self-mutilation, death, and resurrection he represents the fruits of the earth, which die in winter only to rise again in the spring. In art Attis was frequently represented as a youth, with the distinctive Phrygian cap and trousers. Encyclopedia Britannica.
Colossians 2:1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
This area was already populated by Jews so they would have already understood the religion of the Old Testament, therefore Paul’s conversion of the Laodiceans would not have been a major coup for the church.

He goes through the same rigid rules as with the other people who he’s addressed:
Colossians 3:5: Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness,  which is idolatry:
Chapter 4: 13: For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.
Paul was addressing letters to all the people of Byzantium. He made a concerted effort to convert them to his religion, which in some cases may have been a fairly easy task given that they were already familiar with the Jews, and in others, who were used to their own pagan gods, not as easy.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Paul's letter to the Galatians

Paul is writing to the people of Galatia, a city in Phrygia. He  reproves them for removing themselves from his preaching, and for perverting it. He curses anyone who tries to tell them another version of the story. 

He claims that the law given to the Jews is no longer in place:
Galatians 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
This is the justification for the abandonment of the Jewish law.

He goes on that of the children of Abraham, the child born of Abraham’s lust for Hagar are not heirs to Jesus' salvation, and by association the followers of Jesus are God’s true children. 
Galatians 4: 30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
Galatians 5:2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
There you go, so uncircumcised men are wanted, not circumcised ones. I think we should tell all the circumcised Christians this. But then he realises his mistake and says that Jesus doesn’t really care about that. But he does have rather a thing about circumcision.
Here are the sins:
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Paul's letters to the people of Corinth

Paul chastises the Corinthians that he has baptised them, not in his name but in the name of God and that they should obey, not to please him but to please God.

He calls the Greeks “seekers after wisdom” and “wise men.” God has chosen the “weak things of the world to confound the … mighty.” He says how it is not necessary to know anything other than Jesus, and that faith should not be in ‘wisdom’ but in God’s power. 
1 Corinthians 3:18: Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
In other words, Paul is encouraging that people learn nothing other than God and his religion. God knows everything, therefore the people who worship don’t need to know anything...
1 Corinthians: 4:12: And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being...persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
This is nonsense. Paul lived in the most relgious-tolerant era of the world’s history. The Romans ruled most of the world in which Paul travelled, and they were, apart from a short time of persecuting the Christians at the time of the fire at Rome, pretty tolerant about their beliefs. Then there’s the obsession with sex:
1 Corinthians 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
This is just a reaction to the incest that the Romans overlooked in their imperial family. It proves that Paul is adding Jewish prohibitions to the new rules he is creating.
1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 13... Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
He’s saying, rather than help someone overcome their problems “put them away from you.”  What happened about not judging? More about sinners and the obsession with sex: 
1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
It goes on in the same vein, fornication and harlots and bodies that are sinned against in fornication. He preaches fidelity and people having ‘power’ over their partners. 

He encourages celibacy and calls people who want to marry “who cannot contain themselves” therefore marriage and sex in marriage is being out of control, and he distinctly says that it is better for women to not marry at all. What this says to me is that Paul believed that Jesus was coming back for them, otherwise why didn’t he encourage people to have children so that they could be brought up as Christians. That he doesn’t tell them to “be fruitful and multiply” tells me that he was expecting to be transported to heaven within his own lifetime.
1 Corinthians 7: 8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. 10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
1 Cor 7:38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.
Here he speaks about covering of heads in church, women should be covered, and men uncovered. And about women speaking in church.
1 Corinthians 11: 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
1 Corinthians 12: 34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 
He claims that he saw Jesus:
1 Corinthians 15: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
He says that the resurrection is essential to his gospel:
1 Cor 15:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Death to be feared as an "enemy;" the whole doctrine is based on a fear of death.
1 Cor 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.
2 Corinthians is addressed to the people of Achaia, i.e. Athens and is not as direct in its prohibitions as the first one.
2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia.
He says that the law of Moses is no longer binding and that the Jews won’t be saved until they abandon it. 
2 Cor 3: 13: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children ofIsrael could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
This after God has told them repeatedly that his law may not be changed or altered in any way. This makes God fallible. After thousands of years of smiting people, sending floods, earthquakes and abduction to them in an attempt to get them to obey him, with the stroke of an apologist’s pen, he allows his law to be removed. He is therefore fickle, not all-knowing and all-seeing being he would have been able to foresee that his law would be changed and thus not made in unchanging. 

Paul speaks about how much he has suffered, imprisonment, stoning, a shipwreck and how he was saved by God. 

Here, against the commandment of honouring parents, he tells parents to provide an inheritance for his children. 
2 Corinthians 12:14 Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The New Testament: Paul's Epistle to the Romans

Romans is obviously a letter Paul is writing to “Rome.”
He explains that God has given up on the people he chose because of their wickedness, mostly fornication and homosexuality. This really appears to bother him.
He says that bad judgments will happen to bad people:
2:10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
Do Christians know that God favours Jews first? Paul tells them that they weren't given the law:
2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
He goes further to say that God will judge Jews who know the law more harshly than Gentiles who don’t. So, Paul is not cancelling the law, he's telling the Gentiles that they're excused from the law but the Jews aren't. Ah! So that explains it. God is kinder to Gentiles than he is to Jews, because he knows, they're ignorant.
He also says that the believer should not break the law while telling other people to not break the law. And if you are circumcised and break the law, the circumcision is undone. But in Acts it was said that circumcision wasn’t necessary anymore? In fact circumcision is a big deal. This writer has a lot to say about circumcision.
3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
If this is the case, then what is the point of trying? He seems to be saying that death is the punishment for sin, so it seems to imply that if Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten the fruit, then no man would ever have died??
I can only imagine Paul’s frustration when, after the Athenians had laughed at the Christian’s intelligible attempts at philosophy, he must have been really annoyed when the Romans didn’t care about his religion, or make any attempts to persecute him. He had this story about how the Romans had persecuted Jesus and how brutally they had murdered him. He’d wandered all over the Near East spreading fear of death into the minds of the ignorant people he’d found there, only to arrive in Western Europe to find that no one really cared. The Greeks and Romans already had their own ideas about the afterlife. Suicide was an honourable thing to the Romans and dying in war was the greatest death any man could face. They simply didn’t care about his fear-mongering.
The Romans had to merely make sacrifices to their own gods and honour their two dead principes, Augustus and Tiberius, and they were now under the rule of a benevolent and educated princeps, Claudius, so all Paul’s rantings about “righteousness” and “sin” must have been really amusing to them, and that’s why they thought that the Christians were merely a peculiar sect of Judaism. The death of Jesus was so insignificant that it wasn’t even recorded until the religion had become a real problem to them and then it was only recorded by Christians, Eusebius, Augustine and Josephus.
Pliny the Younger, a Roman governor writing circa 110 CE, called Christianity a "superstition taken to extravagant lengths." Similarly, the Roman historian Tacitus called it "a deadly superstition," and the historianSuetonius called Christians "a class of persons given to a new and mischievous superstition."From Wikipedia 
The first time that Christians were persecuted was when Nero decided to use them as scapegoats for the fire of July 64 CE. Some historians believe that Nero himself started the fire so that he could use the land for his own palace and blamed the Christians to take suspicion off himself, but there is no real evidence for this hypothesis.
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians [or Chrestians] by the populace.Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
All Paul’s writing about the story of Jesus and the changing of Jewish religious law would have had no effect on the people of Rome, except those who adopted the religion and its beliefs. To tell Romans that divorce and remarriage was adultery, and that being “carnally minded’ is death, would have made very little impression on the people who worshipped dead emperors and a whole pantheon of gods that they’d adopted from all the people they conquered.
It would be several centuries and there would be many emperors before the Christians would be persecuted and forbidden to practice their religion, and then later, to have their religion adopted and made the religion of Rome. All his talk about Israel and Gentiles was to them merely the ramblings of another Jewish rabbi.
Finally, there is nothing in Roman secular history regarding Paul and Peter, all we have to go on is tradition and the writing attributed to them in the New Testament and that of the writers mentioned above. Even the New Testament does not include anything about their deaths, obviously they could not have written about their own deaths, the way Moses did, but the other writers. All the stories about them being tortured by the Romans is Church conjecture and propaganda.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The Acts of the Apostles: Paul and Herod

I said earlier that it is apparent from the style of writing (and the address to “Theophilus”) that this book was written by the same author, who is not the Apostle Paul, and as already mentioned, it is generally accepted that both Luke and Acts were written by the same author, some time between 60 and 100 CE.

After Paul is converted to become a Christian, the writer says that Peter travels on his journey to spread the word when he has a vision in which he is told to abandon the Jewish dietary laws. It also expresses the astonishment of the ordinary people as they see “uncircumcised” men being “overtaken” by the Holy Ghost. And it is in Antioch when Peter is travelling to meet Paul, that the followers are first called “Christians.” This is during the reign of the emperor Claudius (42-54 CE). Paul stayed in Antioch until c50/51CE, after having been there for a long time, and after having spent three years in the deserts of Arabia. 

Thus, looking at the time that has elapsed since the date given for the crucifixion, CE33, it is not twenty years later. The disciples would be in their fifties, nearing sixty, which is very old for people of this period.

Then in Acts 12, ”Herod” kills James, the brother of John, with a sword, and seeks to take Peter as well, again during the Passover. An angel rescues him. Herod orders the guards killed and Peter escapes to Caesarea. 
Acts 12:1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 5So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists.
Acts 12:21On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." 23Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

Herod Agrippa I was the father of Julius Marcus Agrippa  (Herod Agrippa II) ruled 48-100. He was educated in Rome as a companion of the Emperor Claudius. Their friendship continued well into adulthood. His son, was also educated in Rome. He oversaw yet another rebuilding of the temple which was...
 completed in 63, causing unrest among the now unemployed artisans.  
It was not the only disturbance. Roman taxation had impoverished the working class of Judaea and there was a food shortage. In 65 or 66, the situation escalated, when Marcus Julius Agrippa was in Alexandria; people were killed in a tax riot and the Roman governor Gessius Florus crucified some bystanders. ...Agrippa returned, delivered a speech to dissuaded the Jerusalem populace from revolt, but failed.
War had become inevitable and Agrippa sided with the Romans. Their legions were commanded by Vespasian, a successful commander, who started to reconquer Galilee and Judaea.
In June 68, the Roman attack was slowed down, because the emperor Nero was killed and a new emperor was chosen, Galba…. Agrippa continued to Italy…[but] hastened home in the first weeks of 70, at the right moment to be present when Titus, who had succeeded his father as commander,attacked Jerusalem. He must have witnessed the destruction of the temple that he had renovated himself.
In 75, Agrippa was back in Rome, ... and received new territories in Syria: Arca, east of modern Tripoli.
There was not much left that would have made him a Jewish king: the temple was destroyed, his realm was situated in Syria and only a few of his inhabitants were Jews.
He must have continued to rule for some twenty-five years. An inscribed lead weight found in the neighborhood of Tiberias mentions his forty-third regnal year (i.e., 97/98) and the Byzantine scholar Photius informs us that he has read that Agrippa died in the third year of the Roman emperor Trajan (100). There are indications that he lost some territories after 93, and what remained was incorporated in the Roman empire in 100.
In chapter 13 Saul is called Paul (God called him that in the vision when he was blinded). 
13:20  And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. (450 years between Joshua and Samuel).

Paul in his preaching, refers to the Sabbath, the rebuilding of the temple and exhorts them to not worship idols. He is imprisoned again but rescued by an earthquake. He travels to Athens a city of “people with nothing better to do that talk all day.” The Athenians are not interested in his message, being well-versed in ancient philosophy and naturally recognising the plagiarism of the stories of their own gods.

He leaves Greece to travel to Rome but first, returns to Jerusalem where he is said to be charged with sedition. He argues with his inquistors, saying that he is a Roman and therefore not subject to their laws, and discerns the differences between Sadduccees and Pharisees, the former believing in angels and spirits, whereas the latter don’t. His lies about being Roman allow him to get away, and God (who apparently doesn’t mind his money-collectors telling lies) tells him to go to Rome.

The writer talks about Herod discussing Paul’s preaching, and Josephus agrees that Paul met Herod Agrippa in 58,this verifies that Paul did exist and was present in Jerusalem in 58, twelve years before the destruction of the temple. 

Paul goes to Italy. He meets the Jews there and lives there teaching them about Jesus, who may or may not have been a real person, and who may or may not have lived the life claimed by the New Testament.

The question of whether Jesus existed is actively discussed on discussion boards around the internet. There are two clear camps, those who fervently believe that he existed (and they go from atheists who believe the historicity to fundamentalists to believe the entire Bible is true as it is written). Then there is the other side, the people who do not believe that he existed at all and that the entire story is as mythical as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Here are the two opposing viewpoints about the historicity of Jesus: He did exist  OR He didn’t exist  
It is up to the reader to make up his/her own mind! 

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Acts of the Apostles- the Apostles preach, Saul persecutes them

In order to explain how it is possible that simple fishermen from Judah are able to communicate with people in other lands, they begin to ‘speak in tongues,’ very clever way to explain that the disciples who were Jews, were suddenly able to chat to everyone they met in their own language. 
2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
“In the last days,” this writer saw the ascension as the beginning of the end, not the beginning of the beginning. 
2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
The jealous God of the Old testament was not about to give up his throne to a young upstart, this was a very serious misrepresentation:
Exodus 20:5 "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
Exodus 23:21 "Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him.
Exodus 34:14 -- for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God--
Leviticus 19:2 "Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
Leviticus 20:7 'You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 20:26 'Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine
People in the crowds accept the idea being preached and them and are baptised:
3: 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Here we have again the ridiculous numbers of the Old Testament. 120 people, not the women, just the men managing to baptise 3,000 people in one day? I am a little amused by the lack of perception of the people who wrote these books. Obviously they either couldn't count, and saw large numbers of people, as "thousands" or they simply wrote large numbers to impress. A little like the lies fishermen tell about their catches. 

Then Peter (Simon) begins to do the same magic that Jesus had been doing.  After the mass baptism, having stood in water all day, doing the baptisms, Simon goes to the temple to preach, to an audience of five thousand people. Refer again to my previous comments about lay people preaching in Jewish temples and synagogues. After they had recently sanctioned the execution of the leader of these people, I hardly think that the Jews would tolerate his followers preaching against their laws, in their temples. 
The next day, the priests threaten him, even though they “marvel” that he, an uneducated man, is able to teach. However, they tell them to stop preaching. 

Here we have the text that says what it was all about:
4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 5: 1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 
They are imprisoned, and break out and continue to preach, and collect money. 

The Greeks among them ask for a leader of their own:
Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

The preachers then start repeating the story of how the whole thing came about, starting with the story of Abraham.

Then some people, hearing the story, realise that they are being swindled;  they throw Stephen out of their city and stone him. 
7:56... and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. 
Saul is one of the persecutors, until Philip enters the picture along with a converted magician, named Simon:
8:9But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
Philip moves on to Caesarea. 

Saul is on the way to Jerusalem to speak to the High Priest about bringing the Christians back to Damascus for trial, when he is blinded by a bright light, falls down and Jesus speaks to him, to give it some truth, his companions hear the voice but they don’t see anything. Saul is blind, so his companions lead him to Damascus where he doesn’t eat or drink anything for three days. God sends Ananias, a disciple to tell him, Saul of Tarsus, that he has been chosen to take the story to Kings and Gentiles. Saul’s sight is restored and he is baptised. He is immediately able to preach the story. 

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Acts of the Apostles- who are the "Apostles"

Addressed to Theophilus, as is Luke. The New English Version refers to a previous letter, therefore I assume that the writer of Luke is also the writer of Acts.

The writer tells about how Jesus lived for again 40 days after his death, after which he was taken into ‘heaven’ accompanied by two men dressed in white who said that he would come down again in the same way.

The ‘apostles’ then travel back to Jerusalem, a ‘sabbath’s day’ away from Mount ‘Olivet,’ a distance of around 5.8 kms, probably just over an hour’s brisk walk. 
1:13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas,
Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

 Judas Iscariot is missing of course and so is Thaddeus (probably a pseudonym for Judas) mentioned above, but at least the numbers are beginning to diminish: 120 followers, not the thousands of the Old Testament.

Simon speaks about Judas Iscariot:
1:16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
He either hanged himself or his bowels “gushed out” I suppose it makes it more dramatic and biblical to say that. 

They appoint: Joseph Barsabas, Justus and Matthias, choosing Matthias to fill the vacancy left by the "traitor:"
  • Simon (Peter)
  • James
  • John
  • Andrew
  • Philip
  • Thomas
  • Bartholomew
  • Matthew
  • James ben Alphaeus
  • Simon Zealotes
  • Judas brother of James
  • Matthias

Simon (Peter)
Simon (Peter)
Simon (Peter)
Simon (Peter)
Simon (Peter)
James ben Zebedee
James ben Zebedee
James ben Zebedee
John ben Zebedee
John ben Zebedee
John ben Zebedee
Andrew brother of Simon
Andrew brother of Simon

James ben Alphaeus
James ben Alphaeus
James ben Alphaeus
Simon Zealotes
Simon Zealotes
Simon the Canaanite
Simon Zealotes

Judas brother of James

Judas brother of James
Judas brother of James


Lebbaeus Thaddeus

Judas Iscariot
Judas Iscariot
Judas Iscariot
Judas Iscariot
10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
3:16And Simon he surnamed Peter; 17 And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:18 And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,19 And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.
6:14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, 16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
1:40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. 43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The New Testament: The Gospel of John

The book of John also extols the virtues of John the Baptist, who this writer says has come to prepare for Jesus Christ.

It’s a little strange that the writer claims that John didn’t know who Jesus was when he came to him to be baptised. Surely if they were cousins, he would have known him? Remembering too that Luke claimed that John spoke a week after his birth, he would have been aware of his younger cousin, before his birth. This writer says that the Baptist had disciples, then it clears that up that they were Simon and Andrew. 
4:2 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
There’s Philip and Nathanael. Jesus recognises him. This is different, timelines are different, names are different.

The miracles start immediately, the first with water turned into wine. These supposed testimonies of the writers prove one thing and that is how unreliable eye-witness testimony is, if that is what they are.
Then he goes to the temple in Jerusalem saying that it should be destroyed and he will rebuild it in three days. Apparently he is speaking in parables. Again this shows lack of knowledge of the history and the significance of the temple. Even Jesus would be in awe of the temple and the significance of its place in history. This disrespect shows again that this was not written by a Jew. 

There’s mostly the boastful talk about how he is the light of the earth and the son of God and the expected one. Yet he preaches that his followers should be humble and that poverty and humility witll earn them places in heaven.  He tells the woman at Joseph’s well:
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
I want to repeat that I’m not commenting on the miracles, they are merely, like the ages of the old ancestors from the Old Testament, there to make Jesus into something more than just a man. I would be impressed if the miracles that are performed on the sick include the regrowing of an amputated limb, in modern times. Of course miracles of the magnitude that Jesus and his disciples were supposed to have been able to do, have never been seen and recorded in secular history, despite what the Catholic Church believes about the saints, therefore I simply won’t take the time or make the effort to discuss them. 
Looking for evidence of the synagogues and their purpose in post-Babylonian Judah, I find that the more Christian the website, the bigger the defence of synagogues being places where ordinary men could conduct teaching of the law. Also that he was not preaching against the Moses laws. 

Here is a commentary on the building and use of synagogues. It does not cite extensive research but it gives a little insight.

This chapter in John is one of those that Christians use as proof that Jesus was merely here to invite them to an afterlife:
14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 
And here are the verses that they use to prove that there is only one God:
14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
I have comment on historical reporting of speeches. Why should the criticism of reporting direct speech in history not apply to what people argue is a ‘holy’ book. Surely because something is so extremely important and will rule the lives of most of the western world for the next 2,000 years, it should be indisputably accurate.

There is no evidence from any other source than this one book that:
1 Jesus existed;
2 That he was born in Judah and lived in Israel;
3 That any of the miracles attributed to him happened;
4 That any of the words attitributed to him were said by anyoe especially this particular character. 
To answer these questions
John, the last appearing Bible Gospel, presents us with long theological discourses from Jesus and could not possibly have come as literal words from a historical Jesus. The Gospel of John disagrees with events described in Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Moreover the unknown author(s) of this gospel wrote it in Greek near the end of the first century, and according to Bishop Shelby Spong, the book "carried within it a very obvious reference to the death of John Zebedee (John 21:23)." [Spong]
The choice of believing in the life and death of Jesus Christ is very much a personal matter. For me, there is not enough evidence to prove conclusively that he was, in fact, a real person, and all the evidence for him comes from sources that have an interest in fostering the story of his actual existence. Being an atheist, I don’t believe that God exists, therefore to me a person as described in these four Gospels is nothing more than just another man.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The New Testament: the Gospel of Luke: The ministry and crucifixion

Luke tells the story of Jesus being tempted in the desert by ‘the devil’ which I’m sure Matthew said happened just after he was baptised, and Luke has it just before his crucifixion. 
4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
It is true that this is the first commandment in Exodus. Then why does Jesus set himself up as a god when he tells his disciples to eat his body and drink his blood.

He also collects his disciples later in Luke than he does in the other two Gospels, although Luke also tells the story of the breaking of the Sabbath laws, although the names of the disciples are changed, Thaddeus is missing and a second Judas is added.
6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; 14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, 16 And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
The beatitudes from Matthew are repeated as well as the “Lord’s Prayer.” I've expressed my confusion about how Christians worship "God" as Jesus' father, yet discard his ancient laws, they also do this by not accepting responsibility for their actions. In the Old Testament, God punished them in the most horrific ways for breaking his laws, in Christianity, he allows them to merely admit their sins and then forgives them, this is not the same god. More evidence of this is that he values the ‘hair on their heads,' yet only a few centuries earlier, he removed ten of the original twelve tribes from his protection, because they disobeyed him.

Also, despite the protestations of monotheism, what this man is teaching is a God who is the father, with an alter-ego who is Satan (aka the devil) angels (and some angels are more important than others) and a Holy Ghost that fills people with awe about the prince god, i.e. himself. This is not monotheistic religion.

He changes the laws regarding food and clothing here:
12:22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
It is understandable that the elders of the temple would want to remove him. He was destroying their ancient laws that caused them to spent decades in captivity in Bablyon. He is making all their previous sacrifices worthless. Of course they are going to try to bring him down, because he is using their god to create a new religion. 

When the Pharisees tell him that he is being watched, he insults the authorities with contempt and conceit about how he cures and how he  “shall be perfected.”

Here he changes the ancient law, but keeps the basic 10 commandments:
16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it,
The Gospels also have him riding into Jerusalem on an ass and a colt? Matthew:
Matthew 21:5-7 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
 Mark and Luke a colt:
Mark 11:7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.
Luke 19:35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.
In the Book of John, it’s an ass:
John 12:14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon.
He tells them when it will happen:
21:7 And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? And what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass? 8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. 9 But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. 10 Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: 11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. 12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. 13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
He doesn’t give them the specific time of “before this generation shall pass.” This may indicate that this book was written after that generation had already died, so this cryptic bit was added, after all the world has been at war, somewhere, constantly, ever since time began, so all the bases are covered here.
50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. 
In the 15th year of Tiberius reign (14-37 CE) therefore 29 CE, Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, this is verified:
According to the traditional account of his life, Pilate was a Roman equestrian (knight) of the Samnite clan of the Pontii (hence his name Pontius). He was appointed prefect of Judaea through the intervention of Sejanus, a favourite of the Roman emperor Tiberius. (That his title was prefect is confirmed by an inscription from Caesarea.) Protected by Sejanus, he incurred the enmity of the Jews by insulting their religious sensibilities, as when he hung worship images of the emperor throughout Jerusalem and had coins bearing pagan religious symbols minted. After Sejanus’s fall (ad 31), Pilate was exposed to sharper criticism from the Jews, who may have capitalized on his vulnerability by obtaining a legal death sentence on Jesus (John 19:12). The Samaritans reported him to Vitellius, legate of Syria, after he had attacked them on Mt. Gerizim (ad 36). He was then ordered back to Rome to stand trial for cruelty and oppression, particularly on the charge that he executed men without proper trial. According to an uncertain 4th-century tradition, Pilate killed himself on orders from Emperor Caligula in ad 39. 
My conclusions about the books of Mark and Luke are that Mark, as has been demonstrated, and is generally accepted, was written before the other Gospels. I think that Luke was written, as the greeting to Theophilus proves, much later, I would say almost a century after the first two books.

I believe that Christianity was already fairly well in place and that this book was written to add some embellishments to the story. These embellishment are as I’ve mentioned in this text, possibly because people were asking for more details. That these Gospels are presented as having been written contemporaneously with Jesus ‘ life, and by his disciples is as disingenuous as claiming that Moses wrote the Pentateuch.

Monday, 20 September 2010

The New Testament: the Gospel of Luke: Birth of Jesus

The Book of Luke begins with a letter to someone named Theophilus, 
Bishop of Antioch. Eusebius in his "Chronicle" places the name of Theophilus against that of Pope Soter (169-77), and that of Maximinus, Theophilus's successor, against the name of Eleutherus (177-93).
Does this mean that the Gospel of Luke was written only in the second half of the second century? Possibly. 
Very little is known about Theophilus of Antioch apart from the few autobiographical references in his sole surviving work, To Autolycus. We learn from this that he was converted - apparently as an adult through his personal study of the Scriptures.1 Eusebius, writing in his History of the Church, named him as the sixth bishop of Antioch in Syria2 (169-177).3 To Theophilus belongs the distinction of being not only the founder of Christian biblical chronology,4 but also that of being the first Christian writer to have produced (a surviving) commentary on the book of Genesis.5
It is more than possible that the Gospel was a letter addressed to Theophilus, which he then used as a source document for his chronology.

 Elisabeth, (Luke 1:36) is described as a relative of Mary, the mother of John the Baptist was a “daughter of Aaron,” therefore a descendant of the tribe of Levi. Her husband is a priest, therefore a Levite, and a member of the priestly tribe.
Luke 1:5 THERE was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
Remember, from the Old Testament, that Levi did not inherit anything from the distribution of Jacob’s wealth and the land of the Israelites in the initial distribution by Joshua. The Levites were to be maintained and protected by all the other tribes, the eleventh and twelfth tribes being split between the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, thus leaving Levi apart. The Levites were to be the priests of the temple in perpetuity, so John the Baptist being a Levite, had higher standing in the eyes of God than Jesus who was from the tribe of Judah, the judges.

With both parents as Levites, John was meant to be a priest. His preaching and his being seen as the “Messiah” is perfectly understandable, from this lineage, John has a right to preach, and to be named a priest.

The angel Gabriel, who stands “in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19) tells Zacharias that he will have a son. Again, Luke mentions the town of Nazareth in Galilee, a town that does not exist. Gabriel is sent a second time to Mary, according to Luke, he tells her to call her child “Jesus” in Matthew, he says “Emmanuel.’ They do not mean the same thing.!
Matt 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
This is more evidence that the writer of Luke was already familiar with the Jesus story and that, although the story is based on the one written by “Mark,” the writer of “Luke” is using the name with which the followers of Christianity are familiar.

The angel tells Mary that her “cousin” Elisabeth is also having a son, and when the two women meet, Elisabeth feels her child move. This is interpreted as the entrance of the Holy Ghost. We know today that babies in the womb can hear sounds on the outside, it could simply mean that he was asleep (6 months) and that the greeting women, woke him up. That is not unexpected with all the ‘blessed is art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!” business.

When Elisabeth’s child is born, they name him Zacharias, but the mother resists, his name has to be John.

The name John derives via Latin Iōhannēs and Greek Ἰωάννης, from the Hebrew name יוחנן (Yôḥanan, also transliterated Yochanan) which is a short form of the long name יְהוֹחָנָן Yehochanan meaning "Yahweh is gracious". Yochanan was the name of several important rabbis in the Second Temple Period in Israel, such as Yochanan ben Zakai and Yochanan ben Nuri.
The text claims that he spoke immediately after he was circumcised on the eighth day praising God, This we all know is impossible, no matter what believers think, 

Then Luke speaks again of the census of Cyrenius, also known as Quirenus, the tutor of Augustus’ grandson, Lucius.  The Gospel of Luke mentions the census in the infancy narrative of Jesus:
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. (Luke 2:1-7NRSV)
Was Jesus born during the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 CE, or afterwards in the year of the census?
This passage has long been considered problematic by Biblical scholars, since it places the birth of Jesus around the time of the census in 6 CE, whereas the BCE, ten years earlier.[14] In addition, no historical sources mention a worldwide or even a Roman-controlled world census which would cover the population as a whole; those of Augustus covered Roman citizens only;[15] and it was not the practice in Roman censuses to require people to return to their ancestral homes.[16]
Modern scholars tend to explain the disparity as an error on the part of the author of the Gospel, concluding that he was more concerned with creating a symbolic narrative than a historical account,[17] and was either unaware of, or indifferent to,[18] the chronological difficulty. The Gospel associates the birth of Jesus with that of John the Baptist, in the time of King Herod's reign.[19] The same author, in Acts of the Apostles, associates the census with the much later revolt of Theudas, see also Historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles.
Traditional scholars, especially in past scholarship when Biblical inerrancy was more or less taken for granted, have sought to reconcile these details. For the most part this has involved the postulation of an earlier census carried out, or begun, during the reign of King Herod. It may have been in response to this problem that Tertullian, writing around 200 CE, stated that the census had been taken by Gaius Sentius Saturninus (legate of Syria, 9-6 BCE) rather than Quirinius

Then follows the story of all the worshipping around the manger, which I already covered under Matthew, it doesn’t need rehashing, except for what Luke says here:
2:22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
The problem arises when the text goes on to talk about ‘Israel.’ The state of Israel simply did not exist anymore. The Jews who lived in Israel had become disseminated among all the people who lived outside of Judah. 
In Jeremiah:
1:9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord.
11 And the Lord said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.
Then again:
31:1 At the same time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
2 Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.
3 The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee
with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
In Hosea:
2 The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.
3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.
4 And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.
After the death of King Solomon (10th century), the northern tribes, including those of Samaria, separated from the southern tribes and established the separate kingdom of Israel. Its capital first was at Tirzah (perhaps modern Tall al-Fāriʿah) and then, from the time of Omri (876–869 or c. 884–c. 872 bc), it was moved to the city of Samaria, then a new town built on a hilltop about 7 miles (11 km) northwest of Shechem. Although the northern kingdom was often stronger than Judah to the south and enjoyed greater economic development, it was crushed by Assyria in 722, and much of its population was carried into captivity.
In New Testament times Samaria was under Roman control and was to some extent a centre for Hellenistic culture. Jesus had little to do with the Samaritans, but, in the apostolic age, Greek-speaking Christians preached to them; this preaching marked a transition stage in the extension of the church into the gentile world. The Samaritan sect, which traces its origin back to the northern Israelite form of the Mosaic religion, still exists in small numbers at Nāblus and accepts only the Pentateuch as Scripture. From Encyclopaedia Brittanica 
The early Christian writers again show some ignorance of the split from the religion of the southern tribes. Although Israel today encompasses what used to be the land of all the tribes, after the return from Babylon, Judah was run as a Jewish state whereas Israel was more cosmopolitan. 

An attempt to include people, Simeon and a prophetess from the tribe of Asher, displays more of this ignorance. Women were not allowed to serve in the temple. In order to serve in the temple, she would have to wear the temple robes and also being from the tribe of Asher, she wouldn’t be allowed to work in the temple. This is simply placing the custom of the Vestal priests into Jesus mythology.
Numbers 22:5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither  shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.
Here it speaks about the family returning to Nazareth, rather than running form Herod’s law to kill newborns.
2:39...they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
Finally there is something about him as a child, displays of his temper when he answers his parents about staying at the temple in Jerusalem. This could also be an attempt to prove his knowledge of religious matters. 
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.  48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. 49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. 51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
John the Baptist preaches about the prophecies of Isaiah regarding Jesus. I couldn’t see them when I was reading, but then I’m not biased to be looking for Messianic prophecy where all I see is doomsday prophecies about being overrun by Greeks and then Romans. Luke again reports the story of his offending ‘Herod’ and being imprisoned for it. 

Then there is a retelling of Jesus ancestry. It is interesting that Matthew counts in generations of 14 and Luke has 20 from Adam to Abraham, 13 to David and then 37 to Joseph. It seems to me that they realised that Mark (Matthew) had it wrong and that there were too few generations to fit the antiquity, so they merely added a few more.