Category Archives: Bible Stories

This One Quote Convinced Me to Be a Catholic

This One Quote Convinced Me to Be a Catholic

St. Ignatius of Antioch. Painting by Menologion of Basil II.

St. Ignatius of Antioch. Painting by Menologion of Basil II.

I first met Jesus at the age of fifteen. As a teenager, I “accepted Christ” and began to live as best a Christian life as I could muster. And it was great. I was happy as an Evangelical Protestant. I hadn’t rejected Catholicism, I didn’t know much about it and what I knew, sadly, had come from rather poor sources. From Catholics who, themselves, didn’t know much about their faith either.

Bad Catholics.

But when an Evangelical Pastor, and good friend, asked me, “What’s more important, the Bible or Tradition?” He stumped me.

My journey to begin to answer that question led me to begin reading about Catholicism. I’d made a fatal mistake and would learn later that I had begun to, “be fair,” to the Catholic Church. A mistake which famous convert G.K. Chesterton callsthe first step towards conversion.

If “being fair” to the Church was the first step I took than reading the Early Church Fathers, for me, must’ve ranked somewhere amongst the final ones.

It was after reading from these, the earliest Christian sources after the New Testament, that I found myself finally roundly convinced of the enduring truth of Catholic Church. It was the Church Fathers and, namely, one all-encompassing quotation, that convinced me to be a Catholic.

St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch

St. Ignatius of Antioch lived and wrote from about 35 to 107AD. Ignatius was, by all accounts, a disciple of St. John the apostle. That St. John. The author of many important bits of the New Testament, including one of the Gospel accounts and the Book of Revelation. The St. John to whom Jesus entrusts Mary, his mother. The same St. John.

Ignatius was his student and learned what he knew about Christ and what He taught from someone who had sat, and learned, at His very feet.

The writings we have from St. Ignatius of Antioch aren’t exhaustive but they are, as I found out, of incredible depth.

Written largely while in prison, Ignatius writes to a number of Christian communities, in his capacity as a duely appointed bishop of the Church. Much like the New Testament epitles by his teacher, St. John, or those of St. Peter or St. Paul, Ignatius instructs, corrects, and encourages with apostolic authority.

On the whole it’s difficult, I’ve found, to read the Early Church Fathers without seeingthe reality of the Catholic Church. But in St. Ignatius, in his Epistle to the Philadelphians, I found such a singular, convincing quotation, that it was nothing I could do but assent to the truth, authority, and beauty of the Catholic Church.

This is the one quotation that convinced me to become a Catholic.

Ignatius writes,

Make no mistake, my brothers, if anyone joins a schismatic he will not inherit God’s Kingdom. If anyone walks in the way of heresy, he is out of sympathy with the Passion. Be careful, then, to observe a single Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and one cup of his blood that makes us one, and one altar, just as there is one bishop along with the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow slaves. In that way whatever you do is in line with God’s will.

Do you see why Ignatius was so utterly convincing?

Schisms and Hersey

Like St. Paul before him, St. Ignatius, in his capacity as Bishop of Antioch, is writing with authority against those who break off from the Church founded by Christ.

Anyone, says Ignatius, who walks in heresy—that is, against the teachings of Ignatius and the other appointed Bishops—is, alarmingly, “out of sympathy with the Passion.”

An incredibly stark picture indeed and an incredible demonstration of authority which made one thing very clear to me: Bishops in the Early Church had an authority derived from Christ.

What’s more, breaking from communion with that authoritative structure—striking out on one’s own and dissenting from the Church’s teachings—was expressly condemned in the strongest sense by Ignatius.

Christians would work break off from the Early Church were seen to be “out of sympathy” with Christ and the authoritative structure He put in place.

It was clear.

The Eucharist is the Blood and Body of Christ

Next, St. Ignatius speaks unequivocally about the Eucharist as “one flesh of our Lord” and “one cup of His blood.”

This cannot be misunderstood.

Like many of the other Early Apostolic Fathers—and on this they are unanimous—Ignatius writes about what Catholics refer to, theologically, as the “real presence.”

That is, Jesus is actually and miraculously present in the Communion elements and in contrast to what I’d believed about the symbolic nature of Communion as an Evangelical.

Jesus is actually there; the act is not merely symbolic.

In other words, here is another Catholic teaching, one which we can see, clear as day, from the very beginning of Christendom.

One Bishop

I’ve written before how my picture of the Early Church was based on something of a fantastical reading of Acts of the Apostles.

I thought, and was taught, that the Early Church was a loosely based collection of “house churches” where Christians got together to study the Bible and fellowship together.

While is this partly true as I read the Early Church Fathers, these earliest Christians after the apostles, I found something starkly different in many ways.

The Early Church had an authoritative structure and here, in Ignatius’s letter to the Philadelphians, is another plain-as-day example.

Ignatius writes that we must be united, as Christians, under an authority structure which comes, ultimately, through Christ.

The picture he paints is profound: Just as there is one Eucharist—that is the flesh and blood of Christ—and just as there is only that one sacrifice, there is also only one bishop, and under him his appointed teachers and helpers. We must be united, under this bishop, as under Christ. Or, through Christ in union with the bishop.


Not Convinced? Keeping Reading!

St. Ignatius of Antioch was fundamentally convincing for me.

Here was a disciple of St. John speaking against setting out on one’s own, outside of the authority of the Church Christ founded. He speaks, likewise, about the importance of submitting to bishops and their appointed authority and how, remarkably, all of this centers back around the beauty of the Eucharist and Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice.

Where Jesus is really present in Communion.

But if you aren’t convinced, as they used to say on Reading Rainbow, don’t take my word for it.


A simple Google search for ‘Early Church Fathers’ will bring up about a dozens places to read them online. Or pick up a paperback translation. I purchased the whole Apostolic Father’s collection for $2 as an eBook.


As an Evangelical I was wholly ignorant of the Church Fathers, even as a History Major in University. My understanding of the Early Church was based on a very narrow reading of the Acts of the Apostles and select tidbits from the Epistles. I was ignorant of the concept of the successive, authoritative structure of the Church found roundly in Ignatius’s writings as well as the clear language and belief about the Eucharist.

I missed it because I didn’t read.

When I read, when I explored what Church Fathers like Ignatius were actually writing about, I was convinced. I was convinced that Jesus established a Church, authoritative in nature, which will continue until the end of time. I was convinced, also, of the Catholic teaching of the real presence because there it is, as early as Ignatius of Antioch, and there it continues to be for the subsequent two thousand years.

I was convinced and although I did explore alternatives in the Anglican and Orthodox churches I found most resoundingly the teachings of the Early Church Fathers reflected, beautifully, like a mirror in the Catholic Church.

Read the source and comments:

Related Articles/ Videos click below:

The Bible is a Catholic Book

How Not to Interpret Scripture?

When were the apostles of Jesus born?

“Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written” (DV 12 #3). The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it (cf. DV 12 #4): 1) Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture” (cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-46); 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”; 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith (cf. Rom 12:6; CCC: 111-114).

Bible on Submission to Church and Apostolic Tradition

Bible on Submission to Church and Apostolic Tradition

+ Biblical Condemnation of the Rebellious & Schismatic Aspects of the Protestant Revolt


Saint Peter as Pope, with the Keys of Heaven (1610-1612), by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

* * *

[originally compiled on 27 August 2011 and  published as Chapter One of my book,Biblical Proofs for an Infallible Church and Papacy]

* * * * *

Prohibition of the Removal of Ancient Landmarks

Deuteronomy 19:14 (RSV, as throughout) In the inheritance which you will hold in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess, you shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set.

Deuteronomy  27:17 Cursed be he who removes his neighbor’s landmark.. . .

Job 24:2 Men remove landmarks; they seize flocks and pasture them.

Proverbs 22:28 Remove not the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.

Proverbs 23:10 Do not remove an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless;

Hosea 5:10 The princes of Judah have become like those who remove the landmark; upon them I will pour out my wrath like water.

Submission to Ecclesiastical Authority (Even if Corrupt) and Apostolic Tradition

Matthew 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 

Matthew 23:1-3 Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, [2] “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; [3] so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.

Acts 16:4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem.

Acts 23:2-5 And the high priest Anani’as commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. [3] Then Paul said to him, “God shall strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” [4] Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” [5] And Paul said, “I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, `You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot;

1 Corinthians 11:2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

The Church as the Foundation of Theological Truth and Therefore, the Necessity of Adhering to Her Teachings
* * *
1 Timothy 3:15 . . . the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

Romans 2:8  but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

Galatians 5:7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?

1 Timothy 4:3 . . . those who believe and know the truth.

2 Timothy 1:13-14 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; [14] guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

2 Timothy 2:24-25 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, [25] correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth,

2 Timothy 3:7-8 who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. [8] As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith;

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart.(cf. 2 Pet 1:12)

1 John 3:19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before him (cf. 1:6; 2:21; 4:6)

2 John 1:4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children following the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father.(cf. 3 John 1:1-4, 8, 12)

Obedience to the Church and Her Leaders

Acts 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,

2 Corinthians 2:9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything.

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

2 Thessalonians 3:14 If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. (cf. 1:8)

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.

1 Peter 4:17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Rebuke and Rule of Church Authorities

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching;

Titus 1:13-14 . . . Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, [14] instead of giving heed to Jewish myths or to commands of men who reject the truth.

Titus 2:15 Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Hebrews 13:7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.

The Evil of Schism, Division, and Denominationalism

Matthew 12:25 . . . Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand

John 10:16 . . . So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.

John 17:20-23 I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.

Acts 4:32 Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, . . .

Romans 2:8 but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.

Romans 16:17 I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. (cf. 13:13)

1 Corinthians 1:10-13 I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chlo’e’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apol’los,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 3:3-4 . . . For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apol’los,” are you not merely men?

1 Corinthians 10:17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

1 Corinthians 11:16-19 If any one is disposed to be contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God. But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

2 Corinthians 12:20 For I fear that perhaps I may come and find you not what I wish, and that you may find me not what you wish; that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.

Galatians 5:19-20 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit,

Ephesians 4:1-5 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Philippians 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

Philippians 2:2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

1 Timothy 6:3-5 If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. (cf. 2 Tim 2:23)

Titus 3:9-11 But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned. (cf. Jas 3:16)

2 Peter 2:1-2 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled.

Read the source and comments:

Classic Reactionaryism: Skojec Disses Cdl. Burke

Debates w Atheist “ProfMTH” (“Bible Difficulties”)

My Dialogues w Lutherans (Series)

Luther’s Radical Views on the Biblical Canon

Dave Armstrong
Dave Armstrong is a Catholic author and apologist, who has been actively proclaiming and defending Christianity since 1981, and Catholicism in particular since 1991 (full-time since December 2001). Formerly a campus missionary, as a Protestant, Dave was received into the Catholic Church in February 1991, by the late, well-known catechist and theologian, Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J.

BIBLE IN TOP TEN LIST OF CHALLENGED BOOKS: Multiple complaints filed over sexual content and violence

BIBLE IN TOP TEN LIST OF CHALLENGED BOOKS: Multiple complaints filed over sexual content and violence

Bible in Top Ten List of Challenged Books

by Joseph Pelletier  •  •  April 12, 2016

CHICAGO ( – The Holy Bible is being declared one of the most challenged books of 2015.

According to a list compiled by the American Library Association (ALA), the Bible was challenged for “religious viewpoints,” coming in at number six out of over 270 books. Other complaints cited sexual content and violence, but the prevailing objection concerned the legality of libraries offering it.


“You have people who feel that if a school library buys a copy of the Bible, it’s a violation of Church and State,” claims James LaRue, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the ALA. “And sometimes there’s a retaliatory action, where a religious group has objected to a book and a parent might respond by objecting to the Bible.”

Deborah Caldwell Stone, deputy director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, concurs, asserting the challenges are made based “on the mistaken perception that separation of Church and State means publicly funded institutions are not allowed to spend funds on religious information.”

LaRue notes that the ALA itself is not opposed to public school libraries owning Bibles “as long as the library does not endorse or promote the views included in the Bible.”

The ALA announced 275 books in 2015 were challenged, defined by the organization as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.” This year marks the first time the Bible has made the list, which Stone attributes to the fact that faith is “very present on the minds of many people in society.”

“As a society, considering an ‘index of complaints’ helps us to understand who we are and where we’re going,” says LaRue. “Cultures change over time, and the things we fear, or celebrate, change with them.”

The association notes it does receive complaints about the Quran, though fewer in number than those received about the Bible.

Among the other books that made the list are John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” taking the number one spot for having “offensive language” and being “sexually explicit, and unsuited for [the] age group” it targets. Coming in second is “Fifty Shades of Grey,” a “poorly written” novel described by many as being “pornographic.”

In third place is “I Am Jazz,” a picture book “based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere.” Jennings, a 15-year-old male, came into the spotlight in 2007 following an interview with Barbara Walters discussing his perceived gender dysphoria. Since then Jennings has become a “national transgender figure” and currently stars in the TLC series “I Am Jazz.”

The book sparked much controversy following its release in 2014. At a Wisconsin elementary school last year, teachers planned to read the book to the student body to “introduce the issue to the students and make [a transgender student] feel less alone.” Following threats of lawsuits the school board yielded, but an organized protest that drew nearly 600 supporters resulted in the school board reversing their decision.

Joseph Pelletier is a staff writer for

When were the apostles of Jesus born?

When were the apostles of Jesus born?


Let’s put on our detective hats and see what we can discover . . .

Wouldn’t it be neat to know more about the apostles?—like when they were born?

How about members of Jesus’ family?

It turns out, we can figure that out with more reliability than you might suppose.

Let’s put on our detective hats and see what we can discover . . .

A Key Insight

I was a child in the 1970s. It was a tumultuous time. It followed the youth rebellion of the late 1960s, and there were many, similar youth rebellions and protest movements in different parts of the world in the ’70s.

Listening to TV and radio reports of everything that was happening, I couldn’t help but notice that—over and over again—the people involved in these movements were young. It didn’t matter where in the world they were—Iran, West Germany, South Korea, or anywhere else—it was always young people and “students” who were involved.

The pattern was so striking that I asked my father—a university professor—why it was always young people involved in these revolutionary movements.

I don’t recall his exact words, but my memory is that he said they had less to lose. Young people haven’t yet put down roots in society. They haven’t married, gotten jobs, and established families, and so they could join revolutionary movements without threatening the lives that they were building for themselves and their loved ones.

One thing that I’m sure my father didn’t mention, though it’s true, is that passions also run high in youth. It’s part of the nature of the beast. In adolescence, our hormones are famously raging, and part of that continues into young adulthood.

Thus St. Paul warns St. Timothy:

Shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22).

St. Paul undoubtedly meant the sexual passions that rage during youth, but youth is a passionate time for many reasons, not all of them sexual. Young people feel everything with a special passion, and that is part of what leads them into revolutionary movements all over the world.

Including Palestine.

Including in the first century.

In view of this, we would expect that the majority of the followers of the revolutionary movement started by Jesus of Nazareth would be young.

Specifically: They would be younger that he was.

I mean, if he was leading a revolutionary movement of young people, it is unlikely that theaverage age of his followers would be higher than his! Individual followers may have been, but this would not have been the norm.

That raises an important question . . .

What are the dates for Jesus’ birth and ministry?

Most scholars today think that Jesus was born around 6 B.C., and possibly earlier.

This date is based on the idea that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great, who they hold to have died in 4 B.C.

The Gospel of Matthew indicates that Jesus was as much as two years old when Herod died (see Matt. 2:16), which would require a date of 6 B.C. or earlier—if Herod died in 4 B.C.

However, Herod did not die if 4 B.C. Instead, he died in 1 B.C. As a result, it turns out that the Church Fathers were correct in placing the birth of Jesus in 3/2 B.C.

Luke reports that John the Baptist began his ministry “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (Luke 3:1), or A.D. 29. He also reports that Jesus began his ministry (very) shortly after John and that “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23).

This fits with the date established for his birth. If he was born in 3/2 B.C. then, bearing in mind there is no “Year 0” in the B.C./A.D. system, he would have been “about thirty” in A.D. 29. (In fact, his 30th birthday would have fallen in A.D. 29 if he was born in 2 B.C., due to the absence of a “Year 0”).

Since we can show that Jesus was crucified on April 3, A.D. 33, that means he was between 33 and 34 years old at the time of the Crucifixion.

This gives us a basis to calculate the probable ages of the apostles and the New Testament authors.

The Ages of the Twelve

If Jesus was thirty when he began his ministry and the twelve apostles tended to be younger than him, their average age would be somewhere in the twenties.

It’s hardly likely that Jesus was leading around teenagers—people around half his age—so the twenties are the correct time. Let us suppose that they were, on average, twenty-five years of age at the time Jesus’ ministry began.

If so, the average apostle would have been born around A.D. 4.

We can refine this estimate in a few cases, though, because among the Twelve there were at least two sets of brothers—Peter and Andrew (sons of Jonah) and James and John (sons of Zebedee).

We have no evidence that they were twin brothers. Twins are very uncommon, and we already have reason to think that Thomas was a twin (that’s what both his Aramaic and Greek names mean), so Thomas probably wouldn’t have been called “the Twin” (John 11:16) if there were other twins in the group.

Protocol would indicate that the brothers named first were older, so there must be some time between the births of the elder brothers (Peter and James) and the younger brothers (Andrew and John).

Although it is possible that only a year separated the older from the younger, this is unlikely. Not only do couples typically delay the resumption of marital relations after a birth, in the ancient world, ordinary mothers breast fed their children, which tended to delay the next pregnancy. There were miscarriages, stillbirths, and cases of infant mortality. Half of all children were girls, and there could even be an intervening brother who did not follow Jesus. Between these factors, a considerable amount of time is likely to have passed between the birth of the older brother and that of the younger. We will estimate the period as being six years.

This means that we may estimate Peter and James as having been born three years earlier than the average estimated birth year (i.e., in A.D. 1) and Andrew and John as being born three years later (i.e., in A.D. 7).

This would give us estimated birth years for three of the traditional authors of the New Testament:

  • Peter: A.D. 1
  • Matthew: A.D. 4
  • John son of Zebedee: A.D. 7

The Brethren of the Lord

Two of Jesus’ “brothers”—James the Just and Jude—also authored books of the New Testament.

There have been attempts to identify them with the apostles known as James son of Alphaeus and Jude Thaddeus.

However, this is implausible, because John’s Gospel unambiguously indicates that Jesus’ “brothers” were not disciples during his ministry, stating, “even his brothers did not believe in him” (John 7:5). It is thus scarcely likely that two of them were among the apostles that followed him during his ministry.

We thus can’t use the average age of apostles to determine the age of these two figures. However, we may be able to determine their probable ages in another way.

If the theory—common in Protestant circles—were true that they were Jesus’ younger half-brothers (born to Joseph and Mary) then we might estimate their birth years based on Jesus’ birth year. However, this view is excluded by other information we have, which indicates that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus.

Since the time of St. Jerome, it has been common in Western Catholicism to propose that the brethren of the Lord were cousins. If so, we have no way of telling whether they were older or younger cousins (or both). We would know only that they were of the same generation as Jesus, which we could have determined anyway.

However, the earliest proposal for who the brethren of the Lord were—a proposal that dates to the A.D. 100s, making it older than either of the above views, and which has always been the view maintained in Eastern Catholicism and Eastern Christianity—is that they were Jesus’ step-brothers, that is, children of Joseph by a prior marriage. As an elderly widower, Joseph was not seeking to begin a family and thus was willing to serve as the guardian of a consecrated virgin like Mary.

If so, the brethren would have been older than Jesus—but by how much?

The Gospels identify Jesus’ brethren as James, Joses (Joseph), Jude, and Simon (Matt. 13:55, Mark 6:3a). They also indicate that he had at least two “sisters” (Matt. 13:56, Mark 6:3b).

We have already taken into account the effect that sisters would have had on the average gap between surviving sons, so if the above list reflects the birth order of Jesus’ brethren (as is probable), we may estimate that James was the oldest, that Joses was six years his junior, that Judas was twelve years his junior, and that Simon was eighteen years his junior.

We must also allow time for Joseph’s first wife to pass and for him to grieve and then become the husband of Mary. We will assume that this represented three years, since men with small children (as Simon would have been) tended to remarry quickly in the ancient world.

After marrying, it was customary to wait a year before beginning cohabitation, and Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit during this period.

That would give us the following estimates for the births of Jesus and his brethren:

  • James: 25 B.C.
  • Joses: 19 B.C.
  • Jude: 13 B.C.
  • Simon: 7 B.C.
  • Jesus: 3/2 B.C.

Of course, these are only estimates, and Jesus’ brethren—or some of them—may have been born much less than six years apart.

On the other hand, around A.D. 378, in his Panarion, St. Epiphanius of Salamis reports a tradition that James died at the age of 96. From Josephus, we know that James was martyred in A.D. 62, in which case he would have been born in 35 B.C., so the above estimates might be too late rather than too early.

Either way, however, the brethren would have been significantly older than Jesus, which may explain their attitude of disbelief during Jesus’ ministry. As Jesus said, a prophet has no honor in his own family.

From their perspective, Jesus was the much younger son of their father’s second wife, and it took the miracle of the Resurrection to convince them that he was the Messiah.

Read the source & comments:

Related Articles/ Videos click below:

The Bible is a Catholic Book

How Not to Interpret Scripture?

“Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written” (DV 12 #3). The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it (cf. DV 12 #4): 1) Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture” (cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-46); 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”; 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith (cf. Rom 12:6; CCC: 111-114).

“No Pope in the New Testament” & Other Such Myths Debunked

“No Pope in the New Testament” & Other Such Myths Debunked


The Liberation of St. Peter, by Antonio de Bellis (1616-1656) [public domain /Wikimedia Commons]

* * *

I had an encounter with a former Catholic  Protestant (Church of Christ) in a closed Facebook group, who was replying to my posted paper, 50 NT Proofs for Petrine Primacy  & the Papacy.

This guy concluded that my list was a fantasy and dreamt-up and that the Bible needs to state outright and explicitly that Peter was pope; he also questioned that the papacy was an office, with someone to replace Peter the way Judas was replaced. Lastly, he denied that Catholic popes were successors to St. Peter.

I first responded: “Cool! If you are that confident, then surely you can go through all 50 and rip ’em to shreds. I’ll wait with baited breath . . .” He replied that he hadalready done that (!). Then I decided to make the lengthier reply to this silliness, that follows below.

* * * * *
The Bible no more has to say “Peter was pope” than it has to say, “These 27 books [all 27 individual names listed] are the inspired books of the New Testament” (which it never says: biblical canonization is a tradition and a matter of Church authority).

The teaching that Peter was the leader of the Church is there in all the proofs I have provided, whereas there is no proof in the New Testament that the 27 New Testament books that we consider inspired and the New Testament are what they are.

Yet you believe that with no biblical evidence whatever, while we believe Peter is pope with tons of New Testament evidence in its favor.

It’s the same with sola Scriptura, one of the two pillars of the Protestant so-called “Reformation”. The Bible never states this principle that all Protestants consider GOSPEL TRVTH: “the Bible is the only infallible / supreme authority and tradition and the Church are not that.” It’s never ever stated.

But the sublime authority of the Church and Tradition are both stated many times, as I prove in various papers of mine (including one about oral tradition that I also posted this very today).

Succession is easy to establish. If there is such an office as the papacy / leader of the whole Church (as my 50 proofs show), then it follows that this office would be forperpetuity, by analogy to all the other offices, such as bishop and deacon.

But of course most Protestants couldn’t care less that the Bible casually assumes that there is such a thing as a bishop, and always would be.

I have lots of other thoughts on the papacy and succession, etc., in various papers andbooks, but this is enough for now. You can’t climb Mt. Everest in one day. You gotta go step-by-step, slowly (and catch your breath between each step).

* * * * *

The person then explained that he was a former Catholic, with the usual laundry list of complaints about various Catholic doctrines. I asked him, “how many books of Catholic apologetics did you read before departing, and which ones?” He didn’t answer that. I asked him a second time. He refused to answer again. He claimed that he was only persuaded by “real, clear evidences.” So I replied:

Of course you do [make “presumptions and assumptions”: as he denied] . I showed how you do it with at least two things, in my previous reply:
1) The canon of the NT, which is never listed in the NT. You accept that with no biblical evidence whatever; only from [Catholic] tradition and Church authority.

2) Sola Scriptura, which is never stated anywhere in the Bible, ever. Nothing, zip, zero, nada. I wrote two books just about that [one / two], and have engaged in countless dialogues with Protestants about this central issue of dispute. None of them have ever shown me that the contrary is the case. They can’t produce a single passage. And they can’t do so because it doesn’t exist.
So that is a mere tradition of men, invented in the 16th century, that you accept and base your entire view on, while it is utterly absent from the Bible (making it also — logically –, a self-defeating position).

He made more summary statements, and so I added:

I just gave them [“scriptural evidences”] to you in my paper and explanation here, but you cannot receive it. Your Protestant bias doesn’t allow you to accept it at this time. Presumably, that’s why you offer no direct rebuttals of what I say; only blanket assertions, which are not arguments.

I’m done. If you don’t interact at all with what I say, there is no reason to talk to you any longer. God bless. I don’t do the one-way thing, where the Protestant preaches about a dozen different things and persistently ignores every counter-argument offered by the Catholic.

Read the source & comments:

Dave Armstrong is a Catholic author and apologist, who has been actively proclaiming and defending Christianity since 1981, and Catholicism in particular since 1991 (full-time since December 2001). Formerly a campus missionary, as a Protestant, Dave was received into the Catholic Church in February 1991, by the late, well-known catechist and theologian, Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J. Read More…

Related Articles/ Videos click below:

The Bible is a Catholic Book

How Not to Interpret Scripture?

“Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written” (DV 12 #3). The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it (cf. DV 12 #4): 1) Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture” (cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-46); 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”; 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith (cf. Rom 12:6; CCC: 111-114).



As we have seen with the two earlier Anti-Catholic Myths and Lies (Constantine Founded the Catholic Church and the Pope is the Antichrist), the origin of these mendacious stories are always grounded in someone’s wild imagination, which has not connection to historical facts.


Fulton J. Sheen

“There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing.”

The Popular ‘It’s Just a Myth’ Claims:

It is a popular notion among anti-Christian polemicists and liars to state that Gospel’s narratives about Jesus of Nazareth and the Christmas (Birth of Jesus) and Easter (Resurrection of Jesus) Holy Days are all of pagan origin; that they are not based upon real events, but, rather, are a myths themselves based upon much older myths and pagan celebrations. With the advent of the internet, there has emerged no shortage of websites that elevate this idiocy over reality. Below, are three concise and succinct renditions of the ‘It’s Just a Myth Claims’.

1. The Jesus Story isn’t Original claim usually goes like this:

      The Sumerian goddess Inanna, or Ishtar, was hung naked on a stake, and was subsequently resurrected and ascended from the underworld.

Also, written in 1280 B.C., the ‘Book of the Dead’ describes a God, Horus. Horus is the son of the god Osiris, born to a virgin mother. He was baptized in a river by Anup the Baptizer who was later beheaded. Like Jesus, Horus was tempted while alone in the desert, healed the sick, the blind, cast out demons, and walked on water. He raised Asar from the dead. “Asar” translates to “Lazarus.” Oh, yeah, he also had twelve disciples. Yes, Horus was crucified first, and after three days, two women announced Horus, the savior of humanity, had been resurrected.

2. The Christmas Holiday isn’t Original claim usually goes something like this:

      The origin of this festivity is presumed to be Mithraic and about 4000 years old. Mithra was the god of light in ancient Iran. The symbol of Mithra is Sun. The symbol of Mithra is Sun. Iranians used this symbol in their flag for at least the last 2500 years. The period of 17th to 24th of December was the duration of this feast. The 21st of December, which is the solstice of winter, is still celebrated in Iran. The worship of Mithra spread throughout Asia to Europe where he was called Deus Sol Invictus Mithras. Romans adopted this festivity to celebrate the god, Saturn, and the rebirth of the sun-god during the winter solstice. The winter holiday became known as Saturnalia and began the week prior to December 25th. The festival was characterized by gift-giving, feasting, singing and the priests of Saturn called dendrophori, carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession.

Noting that days start becoming longer after the winter solstice, the ancients gave birth to the myth that the sun-god rises from his death after three days. This belief of the death and resurrection of god was later incorporated into Christianity. Prior to the dominance of Christianity the Romans celebrated this festivity during the 25th of December to 6th of January.

3. The Easter Holiday isn’t Original claim usually goes something like this:

The name “Easter” originated with the names of an ancient Goddess and God. The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE), a Catholic scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum (‘On the Reckoning of Time‘, c. 725/730) that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Similarly, the “Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [was] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos.” Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: “eastre.”

Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. Some were: Aphrodite, named Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus) after the two places which claimed her birth; Ashtoreth from ancient Israel; Astarte from ancient Greece; Demeter from Mycenae; Hathor from ancient Egypt; Ishtar from Assyria; Kali, from India; and Ostara a Norse Goddess of fertility.


Summary of the Errors in the ‘It’s Just a Myth Claims:

As we have seen with the two earlier Anti-Catholic Myths and Lies (Constantine Founded the Catholic Church and the Pope is the Antichrist), the origin of these mendacious stories are always grounded in someone’s wild imagination, which has no connection to historical facts. In the instant case, the idea that the historical Jesus and the celebrations connected to His Birth and Resurrection are just myths run into the problems of A. Veracity of Logic and History, B. Veracity of the Resurrection of Jesus, and C. Dismissing the Logic of God’s Providence. I’ll briefly make the case for these errors below.

A. The ‘It’s Just a Myth’ Claim Lacks Logical and Historical Veracity:

In regards to logical veracity, it is completely illogical to attempt to prove something to be false by using a false proposition. According to the truth table of logical conjunction, if two propositions are false then the value they produce well also be false (i.e. F + F = F). In this case, the claimants begin with a myth that is false and add it to a second proposition that Jesus is based on a false myth (that He is false). Therefore, logically, the value of their claim must result in a false value. That is, the logical computation of their claim can’t produce a true conclusion. In other words, a lie can’t prove a lie to be true.

In regard to history, did you notice the common thread in all the stories above? In their effort to prove Jesus of Nazareth to be a myth, these people are completely dependent on myths themselves. Altogether it is a circular argument. These claimants are like the man who walks around with a sugar-cube in his mouth and wonders why everything tastes sweet. The myths are myths because they cannot be proven and they are often contradictory themselves, because they are products of the priests, philosophers, and kings over hundreds of years. The myths are altogether unreliable as historical evidence.

For example, the claimants of the ‘It’s Just a Myth’, always point the so-called ‘Book of the Dead’ as their source, but there was never a single official ‘Book of the Dead’. Rather, the title ‘Book of Dead’ comes from an Arabic label referring to a collection of ancient Egyptian spells that were found with mummies, which were believed to help the deceased on their journey to the afterlife. (cf. The Oxford Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Funerary Literature”). Some of these texts contain vignettes depicting the god Horus, but they don’t tell us much about him.

In the case of Horus, there are many variations of his story; each of them more popular at one time and place than the others throughout a 5,000-year span of ancient Egyptian history. Therefore, not only do the claimants have the problem of being able to prove that the authors of the Gospels colluded to create a play on Horus, but they also have to prove that the early Christians had access to all the variations of the Horus myth that laid beneath the sand that archaeologist didn’t start discovering until the 1800’s. They also have to explain why and how it was possible that the Gospel writers were able to cherry-pick aspects of the Horus myth from different epochs of Egyptian history.

Yet, most importantly the ‘Jesus is Actually Horus’ claimants have to explain why the life Jesus isn’t anything like Horus’. For example:

CLAIM: Like Jesus, Horus was Born of a Virgin named Meri in a Cave and had a stepfather named Seb. His birth was announced by an angel, heralded by a star and attended by shepherds.
TRUTH: Horus is God’s son. Isis, who was never called Meri, temporarily resurrected Osiris’ dismembered body and fashioned a golden phallus to impregnate herself. Horus was born in swamp. Seb was the “earth god”; no relation to Joseph. None of the variations of the Horus myths mentions anything about three wise men or a guiding star.
CLAIM: Like Jesus, Horus was baptized in a river by Anup the Baptizer, who was later beheaded. Horus also had 12 Disciples.
TRUTH: In ancient Egyptian mythology there is no such person as Anup the Baptizer and Horus never had disciples. Both of these lies were made up by some dude named Gerald Massey in the 19th century. The Egyptian tomb paintings and sculptures do support the idea that there was a belief in water purification or ritual washing during the coronation of Pharaohs, but it is always depicted as having been done by the gods.

In regards to the date we have ascribed to celebrate the Birth (Christ Mass/Sending) and Resurrection (Passover/Easter) of Jesus Christ being of pagan origin there are a litany of issues:

  1. That the early Christians were persecuted because they wouldn’t participate in pagan practices and they rejected all things connected to the pagan gods, it does not then, therefore, follow that they would have incorporated or co-opted any pre-existing pagan holiday as their own.
  2. Then there is the actual documentation that proves that as late as the third century Catholic Christians were celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ on various days and months.
    • In A.D. 194 Saint Clement of Alexandria wrote, “Therefore, from the birth of Christ to the death of Commodus are a total of one hundred ninety-four years, one month, and thirteen days. There are those who have calculated not only the year of our Lord’s birth, but also the day. They say that it took place in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus, on the twenty-fifth day of Pachon [May 20] . . . Others say that He was born on the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth day of Pharmuthi [April 19 or 20].”
    • In A.D. 195 Saint Clement of Alexandria wrote, “The followers of basilides hold the day of His baptism as a festival, spending the night before it in readings. And they say that [His baptism] was in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, on the fifteenth day of the month of Tubi [i.e., January 6]. Bust some say it was on the eleventh of the same month.”
    • In his Commentary on the book of Daniel (c. A.D. 204) Saint Hyppolutus of Rome writes, “For the first advent of our Lord in the flesh, when he was born in Bethlehem, was December 25th, Wednesday, while Augustus was in his forty-second year, but from Adam, five thousand and five hundred years. He suffered in the thirty-third year, March 25th, Friday, the eighteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, while Rufus and Roubellion were Consuls.”
  3. The evidence clearly demonstrates that the birth of Jesus held special significance to Christians long before we even hear about Roman emperor Aurelian’s inaugural feast of Sol Invictus for the first time in A.D. 274. To this Pope Benedict XVI explained in his book Spirit of the Liturgy (p. 105-107):
      “The claim used to be made that December 25 developed in opposition to the Mithras myth, or as a Christian response to the cult of the unconquered sun promoted by Roman emperors in the third century in their efforts to establish a new imperial religion. However, these old theories can no longer be sustained. The decisive factor was the connection of creation and Cross, of creation and Christ’s conception.”
  4. While there is no evidence whatsoever that there was a Roman cult based on the ancient Persian sun-god Mithra who pagan hating Catholic Christians borrowed from, we do have evidence from Saint Justin Martyr’s First Apology (A/D/ 148-155) that cult of Mithra did mimic the Catholic Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist:
        “For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone.

    Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.”

  5. About fifty years later in The Demurrer Against the Heretics Tertullian also speaks of the cult of Mithra copying what Catholics do:
          “But it will be asked, by whom is the sense of those passages interpreted so that they make for heresies? By the devil, of course, whose wiles pervert the truth and who, by the mystic rites of idols,

    imitates even the essential parts of the divine sacraments

        . He too baptizes some, his own believers and faithful followers; he too promises the remission of sins by a washing. And if memory serves me, Mithra signs his soldiers there on the forehead. He celebrates also a sacrifice of bread, and brings forth an image of the resurrection, and plaits a crown beneath a sword. What must we say to his limited his high priest to a single marriage? He too has his virgins, and he too his celibates.”
  6. The idea that the Christian celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus is somehow connected to the feast of Eostre/Eastre, the Saxon/Northern Europe goddess of fertility, completely ignores the fact that the only place we read about such feast in Bede’s On the Reckoning of Time, c. 725/730. Outside of Bede there is no historical evidence to support this was ever true. Bede doesn’t mention anything about Eastre eggs or Eastre bunnies. Moreover, if Bede is reliable, by the time Christians got around to giving the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord the name of the month in which it occurs in old Germanic calendar (Eastre), the pagan celebration would have been long dead.
  7. Also overlooked is the fact that in almost all other languages, the name given to the day to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord is derived from the Hebrew word Pesach/Passover.
  8. All of the other myths like Ishtar that are supposed to be similar to Eastre; thus connected to the Christian celebration of the Passover, are troubled with first issue of the calendar day having nothing whatsoever to do with the Passover, and the second issue of myths not being able to be proven or identical to Eastre even if it was related to the Christian Passover.
  9. To restate and conclude, according to the documented evidence over the mendacities, there is; (1) No evidence of any December 25th, celebration predating the Catholic-Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ (Christ Mass/Sending); (2) There is no evidence of Catholics borrowing anything from the cult of Mithra, but there is evidence of the cult of Mithra borrowing many things from Catholics; (3) It seems far more likely that the December 25th day was chosen because of its symbolism having come nine months after the when it was believed the world was created (March 25 – the Vernal Equinox – Lunar Date of Easter – Jewish Passover); and (4) Being that pagan festivals flooded the calendar of the Roman Empire, it doesn’t, therefore, follow that because the Catholic Christians chose a date so close to the date of the Winter solstice that they were attempting to mimic a pagan festival. Any day on the calendar would have been on or near the date of pagan festival.

B. The ‘It’s Just a Myth’ Claim Lacks the Veracity of the Resurrection of Jesus:

As I have demonstrated thus far, you cannot prove that the myths are true, because they lack eyewitness accounts, accuracy (too many versions) and reliability. In contrast, for the opposite reasons we can prove that the resurrection of Jesus actually happened, and for that reason we know that Jesus is not a myth. For example:

  1. We presently have 5,686 Greek manuscripts in existence today of the New Testament, and over 19,000 more in Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages.
  2. The internal consistency of the New testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure.
  3. That means there are more copies of the original New Testament manuscripts than any other book ancient writing that we assume is accurate, such as the writings of Aristotle, Sophocles, and Homer (Iliad).
  4. The New Testament mentions actual historical events, proper names, dates, cultural details, customs, opinions of that time, and places that are verifiable. The Gospels show an intimate knowledge of Jerusalem prior to its destruction A.D. 70. The New Testament does not mention events and places that are mythical or no real. Therefore, the New Testament is not wholly a historical document, but contains actual history, which allows us to trust it as a document of historical facts.
  5. There are no reliable historical documents that say that Jesus didn’t exist, but there are non-Biblical text that says he did (e.g., Talmud and Josephus).
  6. There were qualified witnesses at Jesus’ death resurrection, such as his mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, the disciples, simultaneously to 500 (“most of whom are still living” – 1 Cor. 15:8), and Paul.
  7. The Gospel accounts of Jesus do not contain the quality and the character of a myth because:
    • As literature their style is radically and clearly different from the overblown, spectacular, childishly exaggerated, arbitrary, unorganized, non-meaningful style of all the myths.
    • The Gospel narratives develop Jesus and other prominent figures with as few words as possible. The Gospels have a very concise and economic development of characters. In contrast, the myths are always verbose in character development, to the point of being distracting.
    • Again, the Gospels are a testimony of eyewitness accounts. We know this because none of the Gospels are identical, which proves there was no collusion. Clearly, these are stories that come a rich oral tradition. The author of Luke attests that his work comprises of firsthand investigation of the original eyewitness accounts that were handed “down to us” (Luke 1:1-3).
    • Several generations have to pass before a myth can be developed; that is, before exaggerations and fantasy can be added to actual historical events. In the case of Jesus, an oral tradition emerges immediately after his death and resurrection, and the first letters of Paul, which includes the kerygma, appears only after two decades of Jesus’ crucifixion (e.g. 1st Thessalonians – ca. A.D. 50).
    • Unlike the myths, the Gospels bespeak of a Jesus (God) with human weakness and disciples who have faults. The idea that you could establish a new religion on the basis of the humility and weakness of the Gospel characters is foolish.
    • The lack of harmonization in the Gospels and their apparent discrepancies with each other attest to the fact that they could not have been forged or a product of collusion. There clearly was no attempt to harmonize them or scrub away the apparent contradictions between them.
    • The Gospels do not contain anachronisms; the authors appear to have been first century Jews who were witnesses to the event.
    • The Gospels and the Letters all have audiences to which they were written, which points to there being community of believers existing prior to the arrival of the Gospels and Letters.
  8. Historically, we see a clear and dramatic shift of behavior after the Resurrection of Jesus, a Church community is established through the Apostles, ethnic Jews begin to worship on the first day of the week (the eighth day) and claim they are eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus, the Jewish religious establishment begins to promote a lie that Jesus body was stolen from the tomb. There are eyewitness accounts of a resurrected Jesus, followers of Jesus begin to be persecuted and would last for hundreds of years, and all but one of the Apostles of Jesus are martyred. Clearly, something happened that was much more than just a myth.
  9. Being that none of all the alternative options to Jesus’ Resurrection (e.g. the Apostles hallucinated Jesus’ resurrected; the Apostles created a myth; the Apostles started a conspiracy to deceive people) can withstand the evidence above, it must therefore find (without creating a false dilemma) that Jesus is not a myth, that He is who He said he was, and that He rose from the dead, according to eyewitness accounts.

C. Dismissing the Logic of God’s Providence:

Faith is the highest form of human knowledge because it is allows for the reception of reasonable knowledge that cannot always be known by the senses. Some might suggest that those who believe in myths have great faith, because they believe in things that can never be verified and are completely unreasonable. To the contrary, that is not faith! That is foolishness! Only Christians have faith, because only Christians believe in the Logos – a God of divine reason, who reveals Himself most fully to His creation in a logical manner by which our limited human reason can comprehend.

It never occurs to the mind of the disbeliever that a God who is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent, and who deeply desires to have relationship (true communion) with His creation would inspire them to find Him. What type of God would not court the objects of His love towards Him? Therefore, would we be surprised if we looked back over the course of human history and discovered that God had dropped crumbs and provided paths and light for us to find Him no matter where we were?

What if the Egyptians worshipped the Sun god Ra by eating him in a piece of bread in the shape of the Sun? Did that not prepare the Egyptians for their conversion to Catholicism? What if the Africans worshipped their deceased ancestors? Did that not prepare them to ask the Communion of Saints for their prayers? What if Aztecs worshipped an earth goddess named Tonatzin? Did that not prepare them to receive Our Lady of Guadalupe who pointed the Mexican Indians to Jesus?

God is providential. The same God who inspired the prophets to sing of the coming Messiah, is the very same God who gave us the gift of human reason by which we could just gaze at the universe and know that there is a God. This God can’t help but to reveal Himself to us, because that is who He is. His nature is love, and first thing love does it reveal itself to its object of love. The second thing love does is eternally cling to its object of love. Love doesn’t die, and anyone who thinks God would do anything else than to conform the human imagination to Himself is foolish. We can no more write a love song that doesn’t speak about God, than we can paint a picture that doesn’t bespeak of God’s glory.

Indeed, man has come up with many fantastic myths to answer the primordial questions of ‘Who am I?’, ‘How did I get here?’ and ‘What is my purpose?’. In these myths there has been some truth, and in what is true in those myths the one True God has resolved in His Son Jesus Christ.

* Jurgen, William A. The Faith of the Early Fathers. Volume One. The Liturgical Press. Collegeville, Minnesota. 1970


Read the source & comments:

David L. Gray

About the AuthorDavid L. Gray

Thank you for visiting and reading my articles. Please consider praying and sharing the

9 things you need to know about Good Friday: The day our Savior Jesus Christ died for us

9 things you need to know about Good Friday: The day our Savior Jesus Christ died for us


Good Friday is the most somber day of the Christian year. Here are 9 things you need to know . . .

Good Friday is the most somber day of the Christian year.

It is the day our Savior died for us.

It is the day we were redeemed from our sins by the voluntary death of God Himself at the hands of man.

Here are 9 things you need to know.

1. Why is this day called “Good Friday”

It’s not for the reason you might think.

Despite the fact that “good” is a common English word, tempting us to say the name is based on the fact that something very good (our redemption) happened on this day, that’s not where the name comes from.

Precisely where it does come from is disputed. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

The origin of the term Good is not clear. Some say it is from “God’s Friday” (Gottes Freitag); others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag, and not speciallyEnglish.

It is also argued that the name is based on a Medieval use of the word good where it meant “holy.” Thus “Good Friday” would have come from “Holy Friday,” the same way we have Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday.

2. What happened on the first Good Friday?

Quite a number of things. During the night, Jesus had been arrested and taken before the high priests Annas and Caiaphas. It was during this time that Peter denied him.

According to the gospels, Jesus:

  • Was taken before Pilate in the morning
  • Sent to Herod
  • Returned to Pilate
  • Was mocked and beaten
  • Saw Barabbas released in his stead
  • Was crowned with thorns
  • Was condemned to death
  • Carried the crushing burden of his cross
  • Told the weeping women what would happen in the future
  • Was crucified between two thieves
  • Forgave those who crucified him
  • Entrusted the Virgin Mary to the beloved disciple
  • Assured the good thief of his salvation
  • Said his famous seven last words
  • Cried out and died

In addition:

  • There was darkness over the land
  • There was an earthquake
  • The veil of the temple was torn in two
  • Many saints of the Old Testament period were raised
  • A soldier pierced Christ’s side and blood and water flowed out
  • Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body
  • He was buried in Joseph’s own tomb
  • A guard was set over the tomb
  • All Jesus’ friends and family grieved at his death

If you’d like to read the gospel accounts themselves, you can use these links:

3. How do we celebrate Good Friday today?

According to the main document governing the celebrations connected with Easter, Paschales Solemnitatis:

58. On this day, when “Christ our passover was sacrificed,” the Church:

  • meditates on the passion of her Lord and Spouse,
  • adores the cross,
  • commemorates her origin from the side of Christ asleep on the cross,
  • and intercedes for the salvation of the whole world.

4. Are fast and abstinence required on Good Friday?

Yes. Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

60. Good Friday is a day of penance to be observed as of obligation in the whole Church, and indeed through abstinence and fasting.

For more information on the requirement of fast and abstinence, you should click here.

5. Are the sacraments celebrated on Good Friday?

For the most part, no. Good Friday is the only day of the year on which the celebration of Mass is forbidden.

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

59. On this day, in accordance with ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Eucharist.

Holy Communion is distributed to the faithful during the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion alone, though it may be brought at any time of the day to the sick who cannot take part in the celebration.

61. All celebration of the sacraments on this day is strictly prohibited, except for the sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick.

Funerals are to be celebrated without singing, music, or the tolling of bells.

Baptism in danger of death is also permitted.

6. What liturgical celebrations occur on this day?

The principal one is known as the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. It includes:

  • A liturgy of the word
  • The adoration of the cross
  • A Communion service using hosts already consecrated.

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

63. The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion is to take place in the afternoon, at about three o’clock.

The time will be chosen which seems most appropriate for pastoral reasons in order to allow the people to assemble more easily, for example shortly after midday, or in the late evening, however not later than nine o’clock.

7. How is the cross venerated?

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

68. For veneration of the cross, let a cross be used that is of appropriate size and beauty, and let one of the forms for this rite as found in the Roman Missal be followed.

The rite should be carried out with the splendor worthy of the mystery of our salvation: both the invitation pronounced at the unveiling of the cross, and the people’s response should be made in song, and a period of respectful silence is to be observed after each act of veneration—the celebrant standing and holding the raised cross.

69. The cross is to be presented to each of the faithful individually for their adoration since the personal adoration of the cross is a most important feature in this celebration; only when necessitated by the large numbers of faithful present should the rite of veneration be made simultaneously by all present.

Only one cross should be used for the veneration, as this contributes to the full symbolism of the rite.

During the veneration of the cross the antiphons, “Reproaches,” and hymns should be sung, so that the history of salvation be commemorated through song. Other appropriate songs may also be sung (cf. n. 42).

8. What happens after the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion?

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

71. After the celebration, the altar is stripped; the cross remains however, with four candles.

An appropriate place (for example, the chapel of repose used for reservation of the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday) can be prepared within the church, and there the Lord’s cross is placed so that the faithful may venerate and kiss it, and spend some time in meditation.

9. Are other devotions appropriate to Good Friday?

Paschales Solemnitatis notes:

72. Devotions such as the “Way of the Cross,” processions of the passion, and commemorations of the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary are not, for pastoral reasons, to be neglected.

The texts and songs used, however, should be adapted to the spirit of the Liturgy of this day.

Such devotions should be assigned to a time of day that makes it quite clear that the Liturgical celebration by its very nature far surpasses them in importance.

Read the source & comments:

About Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin
Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, “A Triumph and a Tragedy,” is published inSurprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is the Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to Catholic Answers Magazine, and a weekly guest on “Catholic Answers Live.”

Looking for Something Good to Read?

May I suggest my commentary on the Gospel of Mark?

It goes through the whole text and provides fascinating information that you may have never heard before.

It also comes with a verse-by-verse study guide with questions that you or your study group can use.

And it comes with a lectionary-based study guide, so you can read along with Mark in the liturgy and ponder its meaning before or after Mass.

Right now, this commentary is available exclusively on Verbum Catholic software.

Verbum is an incredibly powerful study tool that I use every day, and I heartily recommend it to others.

I can also save you 10% when you get the commentary or one of the bundles of Verbum software. Just use the code JIMMY1 at checkout.


What does science say about the darkness during the Crucifixion?

What does science say about the darkness during the Crucifixion?


What does science suggest about the darkness that occurred during Jesus’ Crucifixion?

What does science say about the darkness during the Crucifixion?

This Sunday I winced when we got to the following line in the Gospel reading:

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun (Luke 23:44-45).

“An eclipse of the sun”? Really? Surely the translators of the New American Bible, which we hear at Mass, didn’t render the passage that way!

But they did.


Here’s why I had the reaction I did . . .

How the Moon Works

Luna—or “the moon” (as anyone who’s ever lived there calls it)—orbits the earth every 29.5 days. It also rotates on its axis once every 29.5 days.

That’s not a bizarre coincidence. It’s due to a phenomenon known as tidal locking.

Just like the moon’s gravity raises tides on earth, the earth’s gravity also tugs on the moon—so much so that over time this tugging adjusted the moon’s rotation and orbit until they were in synch.

This isn’t unique to our moon. Bunches of moons in the solar system are tidally locked to the planets they orbit.

One consequence of tidal locking is that the moon keeps the same face turned toward the earth at all times. We didn’t know what was on the far side of the moon until we started sending probes and space ships to orbit it.

But, much of the time, we can’t even see all of the near side of the moon.

When the moon is on the same side of the earth as the sun, the sun’s rays fall on the far side of the moon, so the near side—the side that always faces us—is dark. We call that the new moon.

When the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun, the sun’s rays fall on the near side of the moon, illuminating it fully. We call that the full moon.

When the moon is alongside the earth, the sun’s rays fall on half of the near side, so half of it is lit up. We call that a half moon.

This is the true explanation for the phases of the moon we see each month. It isn’t the earth’s shadow falling on the moon (that rarely happens). It’s because of which part of the near side the sun’s rays are falling on as the moon goes around us.

So what does this have to do with the Crucifixion?

How Eclipses Work

An eclipse occurs when one astronomical body moves between two others.

Earth experiences two types of eclipses: solar ones and lunar ones.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves directly between the earth and the sun, blocking (or partly blocking) our view of the sun.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth moves directly between the sun and the moon, causing the earth’s shadow to fall on the moon and turn some or all of it dark (or red! Cool!).

Lunar eclipses are the rare occasions when the earth’s shadow really does fall on the moon.

When Eclipses Occur

Now, based on what we said about how the phases of the moon work, let me ask you a question:When is it possible for eclipses to occur?

If you think about it, the answers should come pretty quickly.

If a solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves directly between the earth and the sun then the moon must be between the earth and the sun—at the phase that we call a new moon.

Solar eclipses can’t occur at any other time, because the moon is in the wrong part of the sky.

(Also: Solar eclipses don’t occur every full moon because being on the same side of the earth as the sun is not the same as being directly between the earth and the sun.)

Conversely, if lunar eclipses occur when the earth is directly between the sun and the moon then they must happen when the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun—at the phase we call the full moon.

That’s the only time lunar eclipses can occur.

(And: Lunar eclipses don’t occur every full moon because there’s a difference between being on the opposite side of the earth from the sun and being directly opposite the sun from the earth.)

So, again, what does this have to do with the Crucifixion?

How the Jewish Calendar Worked

In Jesus’ day, Jews used what is known as a lunisolar calendar. That means that it took into account information about the moon (like what phase it was in) and information about the sun (like when the equinoxes and solstices occurred).

The relevant part for our purposes is the lunar part. Specifically: The Jewish months were tied to the phases of the moon.

Every month began with a new moon feast, as we read about in the Bible (e.g., Colossians 2:16).

At Jerusalem, they even had a court declare the beginning of the month with the sighting of the new moon.

The Mishnah—a collection of oral laws written down around A.D. 200—even has rules about who can serve as a witness to the sighting of the new moon and how to test them to see if they’re lying or mistaken.

Once the court determined that the new moon had been sighted, messengers were sent from Jerusalem to proclaim the beginning of a new month (even in English, the word “month” comes from the word “moon”) to nearby Jewish communities.

So the sighting of the new moon was essential to the beginning of a month and to any holydays that occurred during that month.

Like Passover.

Why Passover Is Important

Passover, the holiday that celebrated the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, is important for our purposes, because it is when Jesus was crucified.

All four of the Gospels link Jesus’ Crucifixion to Passover:

“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of man will be delivered up to be crucified” (Matt. 26:2).

It was now two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him” (Mark 14:1).

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the passover for us, that we may eat it” (Luke 24:7-8).

[Pilate said:] “But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:39).

So, chronologically speaking, we have really, really good evidence that Jesus was crucified at Passover.

In fact, it was in part because of Passover that Jesus was crucified then: He was in Jerusalem for the feast when the Jerusalem authorities decided to have him killed.

How Passover Worked

Passover took place on the 14th day of the month of Nisan. Leviticus explains:

In the first month [i.e., Nisan], on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, is the Lord’s Passover (Lev. 23:5).

Nisan—like every month of the Jewish calendar—began with the sighting of the new moon.

So . . . what phase was the moon at when Passover occurred?

If the moon orbits the earth every 29.5 days then 14 days into that cycle would be at or very near the full moon.

Now the other shoe can drop: What kind of eclipse can occur at the full moon?

A lunar eclipse.

Not a solar eclipse.

That’s Why I Flinched

The reason I flinched at Mass was because the translators of the New American Bible rendered Luke 23:44-45 as:

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoonbecause of an eclipse of the sun.

GAH! No! That’s the kind of eclipse that can’t occur at Passover!

Now, you might think that the NAB translators didn’t know this.

But that’s not plausible, because the fact this wouldn’t have been a solar eclipse is regularlycommented upon in commentaries on Luke, and the translators certainly were familiar with and consulted such commentaries in the translation process.

They knew, but for some reason they just didn’t care.

An Unforced Error

If you check the Greek text that they translated “because of an eclipse of the sun,” you’ll see that it reads:

tou hēliou eklipontos

Tou hēliou means “of the sun” (“of” here plausibly being taken in the sense “because of”).

Eklipontos sounds very much like the word “eclipse,” doesn’t it?

Was Luke asserting that there was an eclipse?

It’s possible that Luke didn’t understand the timing of eclipses. This was not widely understood in the ancient world, though some people were aware of how eclipses worked.

In fact, more than 600 years earlier, the Greek philosopher Thales wowed his contemporaries by predicting an eclipse that occurred on May 28, 585 B.C.

Even if Luke didn’t know about the timing of eclipses, though, he wasn’t asserting that an eclipse in our sense was occurring.

Eklipontos is a participle of the verb ekleipō, which means “fail/leave off/cease.”

This is where we get the English word “eclipse.” A solar eclipse is when the sun’s light fails or ceases because the moon passes in front of it.

But to say that the sun’s light failed is not the same thing as saying that a solar eclipse occurred. (After all, the sun’s light fails every single evening.)

The translators of the NAB have thus committed an unforced error.

The Greek text does not require the translation they have given. It is perfectly acceptable—and preferable—to translate the passage like other translations do:

  • [there was] darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed (RSV).
  • and the sun’s light failed, so that darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour (NJB).
  • there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened (Douay-Rheims).
  • there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened (KJV).
  • and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining (NIV).

What Science Says

Science does not tell us what the darkness that covered the land during the Crucifixion was.

It could have been caused—through divine providence—by any number of agencies God choose.

Some scholars have proposed that God used a sirocco to stir up a dust storm. Others have proposed it was dense cloud cover.

It could have been something else—including something even more directly miraculous.

Yet if science suggests anything about the darkness, it suggests that it was not a solar eclipse.

But our scientific detective story isn’t over yet.

To quote Lt. Columbo, “Just one more thing . . .”

One More Thing

Remember I asked what kind of eclipse could occur during the full moon at Passover?

A lunar one, right?

So it’s natural to ask: Did one occur?

I’ve discussed elsewhere the fact that Jesus was most probably crucified on April 3, A.D. 33.

Guess what!

There was a partial lunar eclipse visible from Jerusalem when the moon rose that night.

We may even have a reference to this in the New Testament.

On the day of Pentecost, as Peter preaches, he quotes a prophecy from Joel 2:31, telling the assembled crowd:

the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood (Acts 2:20).

Peter indicates Joel’s prophecy was being fulfilled in their own day, and the fact that the sun had turned to darkness during the Crucifixion was known to Peter (and recorded by Luke, the author of Acts).

A lunar eclipse can make the moon appear reddish, and Peter may be alluding to the lunar eclipse that occurred a few weeks earlier, on April 3 of 33—the night that Jesus lay in the tomb.

Consider the symbolism: Jesus had just shed his blood, and now the moon in the sky seems to bleed.

No wonder Peter might see this as the fulfillment of prophecy!

So, next time you hear the NAB’s awful translation of Luke 23:44-45 read at Mass, take comfort in the fact that there may well have been an eclipse at the Crucifixion—just not a solar one.

Read the source & comments:

Looking for Something Good to Read?


May I suggest my commentary on the Gospel of Mark?

It goes through the whole text and provides fascinating information that you may have never heard before.

It also comes with a verse-by-verse study guide with questions that you or your study group can use.

And it comes with a lectionary-based study guide, so you can read along with Mark in the liturgy and ponder its meaning before or after Mass.

Right now, this commentary is available exclusively on Verbum Catholic software.

Verbum is an incredibly powerful study tool that I use every day, and I heartily recommend it to others.

I can also save you 10% when you get the commentary or one of the bundles of Verbum software. Just use the code JIMMY1 at checkout.



About Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin
Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, “A Triumph and a Tragedy,” is published inSurprised by Truth

Was Jesus Really Nailed to the Cross? – Scripture, history, and the early Church Fathers help explain the crucifixion

Was Jesus Really Nailed to the Cross? – Scripture, history, and the early Church Fathers help explain the crucifixion


Christ on the Cross, by Carl Heinrich Bloch

It seems like an easy question to answer: were nails used to affix The Lord to his cross? The Gospels are silent on this moment of the crucifixion, so how do we know it was with nails?

If you look at the four Gospel accounts of the crucifixion itself, nowhere do they specify that Jesus was nailed to his cross. We have such specific images in our minds of this scene that this may come as a shock to some, but let’s look at the passages.

Mark says simply “And they crucify him” (15:24); Matthew, “And when they had crucified him” (27:35); Luke, “And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him” (23:33); and John, “There they crucified him” (19:18).

There are some interesting things to note about the way the evangelists handled the actual crucifixion. First, there is Mark’s use of the present tense, which is usually translated incorrectly to smooth over his refreshingly vigorous and sometimes rough style. Next, there is the lack of detail. Various evangelists give more attention to those crucified with him (Luke and John) or the place (John) or the division of clothes (Matthew) in the relevant lines than to the act of crucifixion. There are also no words dedicated to reactions or pain, or specific recollections of scripture passages. Since each gospel details the particulars of the passion more than any other moment of the life of Christ, this laconic approach has the paradoxical effects of resounding like a gong through the community of the faithful. Anyone who has experienced a Palm Sunday or Good Friday mass knows that these few words are like a thunderclap.

There’s something else to note about these passages. None of them mention the kind of cross that is used. The Greek historian Heroditus tells us that Policrates was killed and then crucified on a pole as a form of humiliation, while Artayctes was taken by people who “nailed him to boards and hanged him [suggesting a crosspiece]. As for his son, they stoned him to death before his father’s eyes.” Heroditus finds this unbearably barbaric, as did other ancient writers, including Seneca, Varro, Cicero, and Plautus, as well as Josephus.

And the practice was not confined to Rome. Josephus tells us that 800 Pharisees were crucified while their wives and children were slaughtered in front of them under Sadducean high priest Alexander Janneus (2nd century BC). This form of punishment was meant to evoke Deuteronomy 21:22–23 to prove that the executed were cursed by God. Thus, in the time of Jesus, crucifixion was as cruel and despicable as a punishment could be. No other means of killing Jesus would have sent quite the same message of brutality and damnation.

The Nails

But what about the nails and the cross? The cross itself varied throughout Rome. Sometimes it was just a vertical stake planted in the ground, but it was more common to affix the arms of the victim to a horizontal piece (patibulum). This was placed either at the top to create a capital “T” (crux commissa, now familiar as a Franciscan cross or Tau) or slightly lower down to create a lowercase “T”  (crux immissa).  The condemned carried either the entire cross or the just the horizontal piece. They were stripped naked, tied or nailed to the cross, and sometimes seated on a kind of peg (called a sedile) on the vertical post. Feet and heels were tied or nailed to the upright. The victim may also have been tied by the arms, legs, or torso. Seneca the Younger describes variations, including crucifying people upside down and impaling the genitals. Josephus recalls the blood-maddened troops of Titus during the Siege of Jerusalem nailing Jews to crosses in myriad grotesque poses “by way of jest” until they could find no more places to nail them.

Thus we can see that nailing was not uncommon in crucifixion. Given how it was practiced at the Fall of Jerusalem (only four decades after the death of Jesus), we might fairly assume nailing was a norm at this time. Therefore, an evangelist wouldn’t need to specify the nails. The audience would already know.

Does the New Testament indicate anywhere that Jesus was nailed to the cross?

The Greek word for nail (“helos”) appears only once. In John 20:25, St. Thomas says: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

In Luke 24:39 Jesus says “See my hands and my feet,” and its fair to assume that he’s drawing his attention to his wounds. Later in John, when he tells Thomas “Put your finger here, and see my hands,” (20:27), it’s also obvious that he’s telling Thomas to probe his wounds.

The other place we find a reference to the act of nailing (Greek: “proseloo”) is in Colossians 2:14, where St. Paul writes that Jesus set aside the demands of the law, “nailing it to the cross.”

The Old Testament also makes a point about piercing hands and feet. The Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament that would have been familiar to the early church) has the reading of Psalm 22:16 which is now used in most modern Christian translations. It includes the line “they have pierced my hands and feet.”  This translation is controversial and the issue is too complex to engage here. In brief, the sentence has no verb in the Hebrew Masoretic text. The Greek verb in the Septuagint (“oxyran”) is vague and means something like “bored through.” Naturally, since the rest of the passage is heavily evocative of the passion narrative, it’s reasonable to read this Psalm as we do: “they have pierced my hands and feet.” This would obviously be a reference to nailing in crucifixion.

The Witness of the Church

References to the crucifixion in the early Church Father sometimes indicate different types of cross and often refer to the nails. In describing the cross, the Epistle of Barnabas suggests a crux commissa (“T”), while St. Irenaeus depicts not only a crux immissa (“t”) but the sedile (middle peg) and the nails. In his Against Heresies, Irenaes writes “The very form of the cross, too, has five extremities, two in length, two in breadth, and one in the middle, on which the person rests who is fixed by the nails.”

With few exceptions, crux immissa (“t”) has been the favored shape of the cross because the titulus is described as being placed above the head of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, and there is no “above” in a crux commissa.
Nails appear in other early sources. The non-canonical Gospel of Peter (c. 150 AD) says “And then they plucked the nails from the hands of the Lord” (6:21). In a reference to Jesus, the Letter of Barnabus (possibly as early as 70AD) misquotes a passage from Isaiah as “Nail my flesh, for the congregations of evil-doers have risen against me.” In Dialogue With Trypho (c. 150AD), St. Justin Martyr writes “For when they crucified Him, driving in the nails, they pierced His hands and feet.”

St. Ignatius says in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans (written prior to 108AD) that he was “truly nailed to a tree in the flesh for our sakes under Pontius Pilate and Herod the Tetrarch.” In his Letter to the Romans Ignatius writes “desire within me has been nailed to the cross,” but the word translated as “desire” (eros) may mean “my beloved,” Jesus.

These are just a few examples that show the consistent belief that Jesus was nailed to the cross. Although gospel passages concerning the crucifixion are silent, the Church herself sings out the fact, this week above all others, that He was pierced for our transgressions, and by those wounds we are healed.


Read the source & comments:

Related Articles/ Videos click below:

The Bible is a Catholic Book

How Not to Interpret Scripture?

“Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written” (DV 12 #3). The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it (cf. DV 12 #4): 1) Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture” (cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-46); 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”; 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith (cf. Rom 12:6; CCC: 111-114).

How Not to Interpret Scripture?

How Not to Interpret Scripture?

Illuminated Bible


There is a class that most college students will take at one point in their academic career. It is the course on Western Civilization—“Western Civ” for short. It is a feeble attempt to supplement the modern college curriculum (typically in two freshman-level courses) with what used to be the very backbone of a liberal education. The course revolves around classics of the Western Tradition: Plato’s Republic, Virgil’s Aeneid, Augustine’s Confessions, Descartes’ Meditations, and Locke’s Second Treatise on Government. But one text in particular, I think, has been subject to mistreatment and misuse—the Holy Bible.

The problem is simple. One of the goals of the Western Civilization class is to teach students the ways in which certain texts have shaped the world in which we live. This often does not happen within the modern secular university.

The reason for this is that most people charged with teaching such classes have been deeply steeped within the modern worldview; as such, their understanding of scripture is quite different from the approach that shaped the ancient and medieval world. Typically, there are three ways to understand scripture available to the modern mind—none of these are true to the actual historical reading of the Bible; more importantly, none of these accurately reflect the way in which the Bible has been understood within the Catholic intellectual tradition.

The first of these three approaches to scripture is fundamentalism. This view, which has been popular in America for over a century, is a byproduct of the Protestant rejection of the interpretive tradition of the Catholic Church. Instead of relying on a tradition of apostolic tradition (full of flawed human beings, to be sure) or on the powers of human reason (which are often mistaken) to aid in our understanding of God’s Word, the fundamentalist view simply accepts all passages of the Bible as literal, historical truths. If the genealogy from Adam suggests that the world is 6000 years old, so be it—regardless of what human reason, through the sciences of geology, biology, anthropology, and all the rest may say. The word of God is meant to be taken literally at every step—and our faith demands that we reject our own reason when it conflicts with this literalistic approach to the scriptures.

While this approach to scripture is somewhat influential throughout America, the second approach is constantly growing in popularity among those with a weak background in theology and history, and especially among those who spend a considerable amount of time on the internet (i.e., the young). It is largely derivative of the fundamentalist view, except it is highly antagonistic in nature. This approach to scripture is largely characterized by a highly uncharitable reading of various passages with the intention to undermine their moral, spiritual, or religious authority. Popular authors like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, and popular figures in entertainment like Bill Maher are spokesmen for this approach.

“You expect me to believe that snakes can talk? Or that ‘the first day’ could have existed before the creation of celestial bodies? How childish, how absurd,” they say, without ever attempting to penetrate the text in pursuit of deeper, spiritual, truths.

This view, while rarely endorsed by college faculty (for even most unchurched professors understand how anti-intellectual it actually is) is nevertheless very popular on college campuses due to the combination of theologically uneducated youths, the internet (where misinformation abounds), and a desire to view oneself as intellectually superior; picking on “people of faith” is an easy target when one thinks that such people are naive, superstitious, and simply irrational, given the assumption that everything in the Bible is to be understood (by people of faith) to be literal, unambiguous, scientific, historical truth.

The final approach to scripture encountered on college campuses, while certainly more intellectually respectable, is equally unhelpful when trying to gain an understanding of the way in which scripture shaped our world. This is the historical-critical method, developed in the early modern period by philosophers like Benedict Spinoza. Writing in a period of religious persecution and widespread theological controversy, Spinoza argued that biblical scholars should read scripture as if it were not the word of God—as if the many books of the Bible had no collective unity, no overall meaning as a whole, no purpose beyond what the human author, in his own historically limited view of the world, could have intended.

This became the model of all secular Biblical interpretation within modern universities—the Bible was a collection of ancient writings, stemming from particular and contingent historical circumstances, which could give us insight into ancient Jewish and Christian thought, but is not necessarily reflective of any higher, deeper truths.

The problem with all of these approaches, at least, within a Western Civilization class, is that they are peculiarly modern. That is, they are entirely inappropriate for understanding the way in which the Bible shaped the Western world within the context of ancient and medieval history, which is typically the context in which they are examined.

If the goal of a Western Civilization class is to help students understand the way in which these texts have shaped the world; if it is to involve them in the great conversation that extends back to the fathers of our Western culture, we ought to teach our students how the great minds within the Catholic intellectual tradition understood the word of God, as it was this Catholic tradition that shaped the West.

Students are often surprised to find that St. Augustine, an ancient Roman in a world of pagan superstition, argued that the creation stories in Genesis are not to be understood as scientific, cosmological truths. They are puzzled by the fact that Aquinas, a medieval monk, praises reason, philosophy, and science in addition to faith. This is a product of their lack of exposure to the very worldview that produced Christendom—a blind spot in the college education of many.

The approach to scripture that transformed the Western world is one in which the whole of the scriptures is interpreted through the lens of the Word of God incarnate. God, it is revealed to us, is Truth and Love. Therefore nothing within his revelation can contradict Truth and Love—any interpretation of the Bible that is contrary to the light of human reason or that contradicts the law of love cannot be from God.

Contrary to fundamentalism, our faith, and the scripture in which it is revealed, is not contrary to reason. Contrary to the critics of fundamentalism, we do not treat faith as an anti-intellectual substitute for reason. Contrary to the historical-critical method, the Bible is an integrated whole that cannot be understood merely by an analysis of its parts.

This leads to the last misunderstanding about the scriptures. It is not the Bible alone that serves as the basis for our faith; rather, the Bible is only at home within the Church, with its long apostolic tradition, a tradition of authoritative interpretation that can be traced to Jesus himself. In the Acts of the Apostles, the Ethiopian eunuch could not understand the scriptures until Phillip—an apostle, charged with authority by Christ—interpreted them for him.

It is rare that this apostolic, Catholic approach to Biblical interpretation is offered to students at our modern, secular universities. Thus, the graduates of these universities may ultimately become ignorant of the understanding of scripture that shaped the world in which we live. The approach to the Bible that produced the West as we know it—an approach that looks for deeper, spiritual meanings, transcending the letter of the text, as part of a holistic revelation of the God that is Truth and Love—is often missing from the college curriculum. This is true even in a course like “Western Civilization,” which places such importance on history, interpretation, and the roots of our culture.

Read the source & comments:

Michael Hayes


Michael Hayes is a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Kansas and a tutor at the St. Lawrence Institute for Faith and Culture.

Related Articles/ Videos click below:

The Bible is a Catholic Book

“Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written” (DV 12 #3). The Second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it (cf. DV 12 #4): 1) Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture” (cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-46); 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”; 3. Be attentive to the analogy of faith (cf. Rom 12:6; CCC: 111-114).