Book Plunge: Obsessed With Blood Part 5

Does Baker have a case with the New Testament? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is easily the worst chapter of the book. There’s really not much about blood in here. It reads more as a compendium of bad arguments against the New Testament. What am I talking about? Well….

Josephus never mentions anything about Jesus of Nazareth, Paul or the Acts of the Apostles in any of his historical records. In reading the gospels and the book of Acts, the events that occurred would surely have been known by everyone, including the historian Josephus. The known world was still a very small place and events of this magnitude would have definitely been noticed. Christians and non-Christians alike, would have recorded them. Yet not surprisingly these things are only recorded in Christian writings.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 87). Kindle Edition.

The first part is just wrong. Most scholars agree that while the Testimonium has some interpolations in it, there is a part of it there that is accurate and part of what Josephus wrote. The second reference is not nearly as debated at all. Both of these refer to the historical Jesus.

For the second one, he gives us no reason why anyone would write about these events. He just assumes it. I often present skeptics today with many claims of miracles taking place all over the world today. How many are investigated? None. The ancient Roman world was also not interested in claims they would deem bizarre coming from communities that were full of the ignorant. Some things never change.

Not only that, very few people could write in the ancient world and if they could, there were many other things they were interested in. What about Josephus? Josephus was interested in things relevant to Jerusalem and Judaism. Why would he care about saying anything about miracles going on in a sect that was deemed heretical by Jews at the time? As I have said before, in the ancient world, Jesus was not worth talking about.

It is very important to understand that not one of the New Testament writers actually witnessed the events they wrote about. In other words, they were writing hearsay. Secondhand accounts as told by supposed witnesses of the events recorded in the Gospels and Acts. Certainly, this cannot be considered as reliable information. The followers of any leader, religious or otherwise, most definitely exaggerate the character of the people they follow.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 87-88). Kindle Edition.

Unfortunately, not a single citation about this is given and if this was even true and Baker went with this consistently, he would have to throw out the majority of ancient history. However, there is no interaction with works like Redating the New Testament. There is no interaction with conservative arguments for early dates or even people like James Crossley, an agnostic who argues Mark was even written in the 40’s.

Fortunately for the writers of the New Testament, several of the Old Testament prophets spoke of a messiah, a savior who would put to death the enemies of God. So all the followers of Jesus had to do was start spreading the word that He was the prophesied messiah, the Son of God! Even though this was a slap in the face to many Jews, those desperate for change and freedom after years of oppression from the Roman Republic would easily follow such a belief. The early Christian church was still predominantly a Jewish sect that had simply added the belief Jesus was the prophesied messiah. Followers of this teaching were called “Jewish Christians.”

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 89-90). Kindle Edition.

Again, no citation is given for any of this. Why would they believe they could get freedom and oppression from Jesus? He was crucified by Rome. That was a dealbreaker. The only reason they would is they believed Jesus had already conquered by rising from the dead. Baker does not understand the social culture of the ancient world at all.

In the book of Acts we see Saul, a Roman and supposed persecutor of Christians, have an encounter with the long dead Jesus while travelling to his home in Damascus. Saul was convinced by a blinding apparition of light and a heavenly voice to take the message of Christ to the Gentiles. After a rather dubious miracle that restored his eyesight, he changed his name and became the Apostle Paul, writer of more than half the New Testament.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 90). Kindle Edition.

I am curious what he means by a supposed persecutor. I don’t know any scholar in the field really who doubts this. It is also unclear what is meant by a dubious miracle. I can understand saying “I don’t think the account is historical”, but I think if someone loses their eyesight and suddenly upon prayer has it back, it’s not dubious to think a miracle has taken place.

Although places like Ephesus, Philippi, Corinth and Athens looked magnificent, they were also home to tens of thousands of poor, desperate people who were the perfect audience for the Christian message of eternal life by faith, and not by works.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 91). Kindle Edition.

Look. I am fully Protestant apologist and I do believe in justification by faith definitely, but that was not the main message that would be preached, but rather the Kingdom of God and the resurrection of Jesus. Also, Jews at the time would actually think that they were not saved by works either. They were saved by being part of the covenant people. They would have to ask if they would truly be part of the covenant people if they became Christians. I actually recommend Baker read Paul Was Not A Christianwhich I have reviewed here. It is written by a non-Christian Jewish New Testament scholar and clarifies a number of points, even though I have a number of criticisms per my blog.

In much the same way, we have seen the prolific increase in the past century of religions such as the Latter Day Saints and Christian scientists. They have a basis in Christianity, yet their teachings differ, sometimes greatly, from the original. But still having recognizable themes interwoven throughout their theology makes them more readily acceptable. The one true God, that both Jews and gentiles alike were familiar with, began to evolve into something totally different.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 94). Kindle Edition.

Both of these groups also arose in America which has very different ways of handling movements like these than the Roman Empire did. In the Roman Empire, not embracing the Roman gods in any way was treason. Jews being an ancient sect were granted leniency so long as they at least sacrificed for and prayed for the emperor. This has not been the case in America.

It is also true the Mormons had some persecution, but they also had soldiers known as Danites who were willing to fight for them. Not only that, they could easily pick up and move somewhere else. Eventually, they moved all the way out west to Utah. As for Christian Science, it was never really a movement that presented the problems that Mormons did so it was live and let live.

The ancient world was not like this.

Now, let’s talk about the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

I recently read a popular Christian rebuttal for this fact, and in the interest of fairness; I thought I would share it with you:

“This sort of objection [Paul not mentioning the virgin birth] demonstrates a lack of realization that there is NO relevance for the virgin birth in the places where it is lacking mention. Remember, the NT materials were written to people who ALREADY believed the Gospel. By the time they were reading this stuff, they had already accepted all of the basic tenets, and already had all the basic information.”

This would be a good defense except the Bible is supposed to be inspired for instruction and teaching – Surely God would want believers who were not around at the time of Paul’s writing, to also learn about this important point concerning His Son! If these believers already knew all the basic teachings, why did Paul say he could not write to them as spiritually mature but as mere infants in Christ?

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 97-98). Kindle Edition.

Baker might not realize it, but he isn’t even touching the argument. It is as if the audience of Paul can only believe what they read in a letter from him, which is Scripture, and get absolutely nothing from oral tradition. So, if the virgin birth is part of background knowledge, Paul would not have needed to mention it. Baker is assuming though that it wasn’t and then saying “Paul didn’t mention it so it couldn’t have been part of their knowledge.” He is essentially using circular reasoning.

Finally, why could Paul say they were not being spiritually mature? Simple. Maturity is not about having a lot of knowledge. Fans of a show like The Big Bang Theory can easily say Sheldon Cooper has a lot of knowledge. Does he have a lot of maturity? Not at first definitely. Fans of the series like myself see him growing throughout the series. Knowledge does not equal maturity.

During this translation from Hebrew to Greek it appears the translator made a mistake. Erroneously translating the Hebrew word almah into the Greek word parthenos which means virgin. Almah actually means, a young women or maid. There is even one case where the word almah is used to refer to an adulteress.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 99). Kindle Edition.

There is no citation here from Baker and I cannot find where the word Almah is used to refer to an adulteress. The only possible reference could be the way of a man with a maid in Proverbs 30 not being understood, but that does not mean an adulteress. Men do crazy things around women they’re just attracted to.

So we have no reason for thinking this is a mistranslation then.

The writer of Matthew, familiar only with the erroneous Greek translation jumped to the crazy conclusion that Jesus, being the prophesied messiah, had to be born of a virgin. His understanding of Greek Mythology, which had several gods born of virgins, may have added to this delusion.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (p. 99). Kindle Edition.

Baker then assumes that Matthew made this up since this had to be the case for the Messiah, but no reason is given why he would do this. This would automatically be admitting Jesus was born out of wedlock. It would be a mark of shame to skeptics and would only be accepted by people who were believers, that is, those who already believed in the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

Finally, we have this:

If Jesus really was the messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, don’t you think that the Jewish people would have accepted him as such? The Jews had been living and studying the prophecies regarding their messiah for the previous 700 years or so – surely they would have been in the best position to verify this claim. They didn’t. They never have.

Preacher, Ex; Baker, Barnaby. Obsessed with Blood (The Crazy Things Christians Believe Book 1) (pp. 103-104). Kindle Edition.

Well, no. I don’t. Jews sadly have a history of rejecting YHWH and His prophets. Why think when the greatest one of all who was YHWH Himself that things would be any different? Baker gives us no reason. He just assumes that they would be right about who the Messiah was.

By the way, this is also someone who claims to be a freethinker but apparently wants those people who had “bronze age beliefs” to determine what he should think.

Amusing in a sense.

We shall continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)










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