The difficulties of New Testament
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The first thing that surprises with the New Testament, is when we are told that its original texts are in Greek rather than in Hebrew, however Jesus and his apostles were all Hebrew people.
We are especially surprised that after being informed by the NT that the apostles were illiterate (Acts 4, 13, etc..), we are then told that those illiterates have written correctly, not in their mother tongue (that they probably didn't know perfectly because of their illiteracy), but in a foreign language in which they probably did not converse. It is true that the miracle of Pentecost can have taught them this language, but up to being able to write it, it is a greater miracle. One can just wonder then why everyone of them choosed the Greek language and none of them the Hebrew one nor the Aramaic one, their natural languages as well as the languages of their countrymen. They did not even chosen one of the other Multiple languages they were speaking during the day of Pentecost.
Concerning the Greek language, we can note the testimony of Flavius Josephus (Antiquities 20.21.2) who was born four years after the time it is supposed Jesus was dead, that means in 37: "I worked a lot to acquire the knowledge of the Greeks, and to learn the Greek language, although I was accustomed for so long to speak our own language [Aramaic] that I do not speak Greek with considerable accuracy, for our nation does not encourage those who learn the language of many nations, etc... "
Hence, we can deduce that the Greek was not a popular language in Judea.
If Flavius who is from a generation after Jesus does not know much Greek although he is literate, and if he had to work hard learning it, we can deduce from it that the Greek language was not of common use in Judea.
We also struggle a lot trying to understand why, if the apostles wrote their own gospels, they carefully avoided to include themselves in their stories.
Hear how Apostle Matthew describes his own recruitment as apostle (Matthew 9:9): "Jesus left that place and, as he walked along, he saw a tax collector named Matthew, sitting in his office. He said to him: Follow me, and that man got up and followed him.. "
Is this not a strange way for Matthew to recount his own recruitment as apostle? Since he tells the sory himself, why did he not say: "Jesus found me sitted in my tax office, he said to me: follow me, immediately I left there, all the money King had asked me to collect, I even left there all my records, etc.. and followed him?"
John writes with the same style, as if he were not himself part of the adventure with Jesus and was only a distant observer.
Apart from those first difficulties, as soon as we enter into the analysis of the Gospels themselves and of the entire New Testament, either internally or by confronting them with the story, we discover new problems always more serious than previous ones.
It is curious that Luke says he wrote his Gospel after accurate researches (read Luke 1: 1-3). Why does he make accurate researches ? Is it because he had doubts on the inspiration of or else, on the sincerity of those who wrote before him? Further, he says that there were already several writings before his own. What happened to the others?
One might also wonder why the apostles, who lived together and shared everything, to the point that Ananias and Sapphira were killed for having hided a part of the sale of their field, have not been able to pull together to write the history of their master!
Anyway, we see that the 4 gospels we have today are contradictory in almost everything that is essential to Christian faith:
- They do not agree on the duration of the mission of Jesus (that was 3 years or two years and dust according to John, because we see Jesus three times celebrating Passover, but that only lasted one year or less according to the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) that describe a single celebration by Jesus of Passover during which he was also arrested and killed).
- They disagree on the date and the circumstances of his death (arrested and crucified on Passover according to synoptics, but dead and even resurrected before Passover according to the Gospel of John, arrested by Roman soldiers according to some but arrested by the priests themselves according to Luke)
- They do not agree on the environment of his resurrection (compare Luke 24, 1-10, Mark 16, 1-7 & John 20, 1-14) and finally,
- They disagree on his taken up to Heaven's date (the same day as his resurrection, according to the Gospel of Luke, and 40 days after his resurrection, according to the Acts of the Apostles of the same Luke Ac. 1, 3)
Another question can be asked: Why are there only 4 gospels today, when we know that in the early centuries, there were dozens of gospels that the church's fathers was considering, since they often quoted them and which have now become apocryphal?
Why did the Council of Nicaea, held under the Emperor Constantine decide to only retain the 4 gospels that were not the best known at that time, to the detriment of those who were even more known and quoted by the fathers of church?
Irenaeus gave the reasons, he said, because there are only four cardinal points and four winds, four living creatures and so on.
But the other abandonned gospels also had their versions of events.
For example, about the birth of Jesus, this is what relates the Sepher Toldot Jeschu. It says that Jesus was the son of a woman named Mary, married in Bethlehem to a poor man named Jocanam. There was in the neighborhood a soldier whose name was Joseph Panther, a tall and beautiful man. He fell in love with Mary, who became pregnant from him. Jocanam confused and desperate left Bethlehem and went to Babylonia, where there were still many Jews. The behaviour of Mary brought her disgrace and his son, Jesus was declared illegitimate by the judges of the city, etc..
That book also relates many miracles performed by Jesus son of Mary and Joseph Panther.
But, according to our gospels, Jesus was born miraculously from a virgin called Mary (that really is a wonderful miracle that Mark and John ignored and did not find useful to mention in their gospels.
Throughout his mission, Jesus performed very great miracles and the first of them was to be transported by the devil first to the summit of the temple (Mt 4, 5 & 8), then, on the top of a very high mountain of Judea, from where one can see all the kingdoms of the earth (And we may wonder what is the Judean mountain high enough that all the kingdoms of the earth can be seen from it),
then he turned water into wine at a banquet where the guests were already drunk,
then he dried out a figs tree that did not give him figs for his breakfast, and the author of this story was honest enough to recognize that this was not the season for figs (Mark 11, 12-14) (How Jesus who is told to be G, did not then remembered that he had himself from the beginning set a season for a fig tree to have figs, and another season not to? How could he then wait figs from a figs tree at the bad season ?)
Then he went to the temple (Jn 2, 13-20 Mk 11, 15-15, Lk 19, 45) and, seized with a holy rage, he went into the courtyard where merchants were allowed by law to sell pigeons, sheep and cattle to those who came to sacrifice, he took a big whip and began to give great blows to these people, and he drove them out of the temple by whip, themselves, their flocks and their herds and even throwed their money down.
And what did these peaceful people do? According to John, they just asked Jesus to produce a miracle proving that he had the right to do all this mess in a place as respectable as that one (it's already a great miracle that 30 or 40 merchants allow themselves to be spanked by a single man who tries to chase them away from a place where they have the right to be and who makes them lose their money).
But instead of performing the miracle he was asked , Jesus simply said: "Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days." The others replied, "It took 46 years to build this temple and how can you rebuild it in three days?".
It is wrong that the temple were built during 46 years. According to history, Herod rebuilt the temple in 7 years or 10 years and It is not sure that a Jew living in Jerusalem in that time could mistake on that issue.
Let's even don't mention Luke writing that in the night of Passover, which is nevertheless a statutory holiday as much as Sabbath, the chief of priests, the officers of the temple and the elders went to arrest Jesus at night on a mountain That those people who so hated Jesus did not even know him and needed Judas to show them him by a traitor kiss! (Lk 22, 47-53).
There are many absurdities in this story:
1. Jesus said he was with them every day in the temple, they knew him then! What then served the kiss of Judas to? However, in John's narrative, there is no kiss of Judas.
2. You will also agree that it is absurd that people who had soldiers in their service and who were obeyed by all the people needed to move themselves like that to go and arrest a man by night. They would not have done it on an ordinary day, and they might all have been all of their mind to do it on a Passover evening, since no trial can be held on that day, according to Jewish law.
How did they celebrate that Passover if they spent the night and the day calculating, arresting, judging, mistreating, condemning and finally murdering an innocent man?
3. You will also admit that it is unlikely that these people the New Testament described so severe that they criticized Jesus' disciples who teared off wheat ears during the Sabbath day in order to feed themselves, and blamed Jesus for healing the sick persons on that day, have then chosen nationally (if we consider the crowd described in the stories), to make all transgressions imaginable during Passover!
Here are some really embarrassing difficulties that the book called New Testament offers us.