A Moldy Easter Atheist

Previously, I wrote about dealing with mold at church on Easter. But that wasn't the only place I encountered fungus. Easter was being celebrated over at Vox Popoli when "DT" dropped in and asked us if we were "sure we've got our story straight?" DT then proceeded to list a number of supposed contradictions in the New Testament account of the Resurrection. The first alleged problem is that Mark 15:25 says that Jesus was crucified "at the third hour" (KJV), while John 19:14-15 states that Jesus was led away to be crucified "at about the sixth hour" (KJV). Obviously, the times don't agree, the authors didn't have their story straight, and so the Resurrection is but a fabrication.

Now, I could comment on how socially inept this particular person is. Dropping in on a celebration of the greatest event in history and trying to put a damper on the festivities is not unlike inviting oneself to a neighbor's pool party, peeing in the water, and being smugly satisfied as a yellow stain radiates from your body. But neither group has a monopoly on boorish behavior.

Instead, I want to comment on the inability of some people to consider, evaluate, and adopt evidence.

First, it's clear that the criticisms leveled at the New Testament account were copied from one of the interminable sites devoted to this sort of thing, so no original thought at all went into this attack. Second, it's obvious to me that this person has no knowledge of Jewish or Roman culture, the Greek language, or the issues attendant with language translation. Now, this can be overlooked, since not everyone is a specialist in these matters. But third, and most importantly, while some effort was expended to find the supposed contradictions, no effort at all went into looking for possible explanations. This particular chestnut has been around for longer than I've been a Christian. Thirty, twenty, and maybe even ten years ago, it might be expected that someone could hear of this problem and not know where to look for an answer. But in the age of Google, this is inexcusable.

Mark is reckoning time using the Jewish day of sunset to sunset, divided into two twelve hour periods, so the third hour of the daylight period would be our 9AM. John is using a Roman day, from midnight to midnight, so the sixth hour begins at 6AM. So John says Jesus was taken to be crucified sometime between 6 and 7AM, with the actual crucifixion starting around 9AM.

Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane in the evening -- the Romans came with "lanterns and torches and weapons." During the nightime trial, Peter is standing around a fire because it was cold. The rooster crows coincident with Peter's denial and, "early in the morning", Jesus is taken to Pilate. Sunrise would have been a little after 5AM so "early in the morning" would have been sometime around then. After brief questioning, Pilate has Jesus flogged. Jesus is brought back before Pilate. Pilate unsuccessfully tries to hand Jesus back to the chief priests. Finally, sometime between 6 and 7AM, Pilate brings Jesus before the crowd and exclaims, "Here is your King!". Being rejected by the people, Pilate has Jesus taken away to be crucified. The crufixion begins around 9, darkness comes at noon, and Jesus dies at 3PM - the time when sacrificial lambs were killed.

Two hours to bring Jesus before Pilate, have Jesus flogged, brought back before Pilate, and sent off for crucifixion is not unreasonable. Events would be more hurried with Jesus also being sent from Pilate to Herod, as mentioned by Luke, but Herod would have been in Jerusalem at this time. So, even then, the timeframe is achievable.

Intelligent organisms are supposed to be able to incorporate new information and revise incorrect information. Somehow, I don't expect the skeptics to be revising this particular criticism any time soon.

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