Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Early Christianity, Oral Transmission and Preservation of the Gospel Account

I have spent almost two years emerging myself into source criticism, early Christian testimony to the Gospels and early oral transmission. The last three months I have occupied myself with early Christianity and oral tradition. It has been fascinating to study the works of authors, such as Sanders, Riesenfelt, Bultman, Kummel, Kloppenborg, Mack, Streeter, Bauckham and others. Yet I guess the most exciting part of my research has so far been probing into the text and world of the early church fathers.

I personally reject the methodology and approach of Sanders and most liberal critics here. Sanders proposes that the most realistic approach to the New Testament and the historical Jesus is to reject all historical fact and occupy oneself with modern theories. I find it funny that this approach is categorized as something that comes somehow near historical studies. This seems to confirm the words of Etta Linneman that modern Bible criticism is more of a philosophy than historical research. This aspect relates closely to the foundational presupposition of modern critical scholarship, namely the idea that the supernatural is absent from the natural world if it even exists.

I find it funny that intellegent atheists devout themselves to follow such approaches. I find it even more funny that adheres of the religion of Islam whose life and purpose is to undermine and wipe out the Christian, follow these secular theories.

So far I have opted for reading, comparing and devouting myself to the material and facts that are available rather than reading into these a range of modern conjecture created by individuals who were not even present in the first and second century, but seem to imply that they know more about the local details of the ancient world than Jesus, Paul, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. Such an approach is extremely naive and virtually foolish, it reveals logical and academic integrity.

So where am I at with my insight into early oral tradition?

Early Christianity and oral tradition can be divided into three eras.

  1. The Oral Period

  2. The Transition Period

  3. The Post Transition period.

Each of these are again sub-divided:

The Oral Period is divided into, three eras:

  • Jesus' transmission to his apostles and training of the apostles

  • The Apostolic fixing of a oral body of information, including narrative and sayings

  • The transmission of the Apostles to the apostolic disciples (successors)

The Transition period is divided into:

  • Oral transmission still dominant but its text in existence (Papia-Polycarp)

  • Text dominant but Oral transmission still in existence (particularly among the illiterate) (Justin Martyr-Irenaeus)

The Post Oral era relates mainly to one aspect, in which oral tradition is a matter of interest (Clement of Alexandria - Origin)

While the use of text is already referred to by Papias in 80-100 AD to Matthew and Mark, and later by Justin Martyr (150). It is interesting that the favour of the written word does not derive until the death of Polycarp, even though Christians read and used them (see Ignatius of Antioch).

The reason being, Christians applied the ancient rule of 'the living and the abiding word', that is history is effective history as long at the eyewitnesses are still alive and are able to transmitt the information and confirm it.

Polycarp was the last of the apostolic disciples and died approximately 140-50 as a martyr.

After Polycarp, the oral transmission is continuous, the Christians turn however to the transmission of the apostles in its written form, as the written form had been written under the guidance of the apostles and the successors (e.g. Luke).

In other words the Gospels are of the same nature as the 'living and the abiding word'.

The study is fascinating and it provides strong historical evidence that the Gospel information could not have been corrupted or fabricated within the first 200 years of Christianity.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Biblical End-Time Predictions

The Bible warns about a number of futuristic global, grandscale cataclysmic events.

As frigthening as it may seem, some of these descriptions are only recently discovered as plausible calamatious treats to the human society, yet the Bible has predicted these horrors all a long. I will only summarize a few of these here.

Interestingly some of these are to a much larger scale futuristic but are already clearly visible in their early stages:

Effects of Global warming:

'... On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea' (Luke 21: 25)

The effects of the destruction of the Ozon layer:

'The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image' (Revelation, 16: 2)



Increasing temperature is likely to lead to increasing precipitation [6][7] but the effects on storms are less clear. Extratropical storms partly depend on the temperature gradient, which is predicted to weaken in the northern hemisphere as the polar region warms more than the rest of the hemisphere.[8].

Storm strength leading to
extreme weather is increasing, such as the power dissipation index of hurricane intensity.[9] Kerry Emanuel writes that hurricane power dissipation is highly correlated with temperature, reflecting global warming.[10] However, a further study by Emanuel using current model output concluded that the increase in power dissipation in recent decades cannot be completely attributed to global warming[11]. Hurricane modeling has produced similar results, finding that hurricanes, simulated under warmer, high-CO2 conditions, are more intense, however, hurricane frequency will be reduced.[12] Worldwide, the proportion of hurricanes reaching categories 4 or 5 – with wind speeds above 56 metres per second – has risen from 20% in the 1970s to 35% in the 1990s.[13] Precipitation hitting the US from hurricanes has increased by 7% over the twentieth century.[14][15][16] The extent to which this is due to global warming as opposed to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation is unclear. Some studies have found that the increase in sea surface temperature may be offset by an increase in wind shear, leading to little or no change in hurricane activity.[17] Hoyos et al. (2006) have linked the increasing trend in number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes for the period 1970-2004 directly to the trend in sea surface temperatures.[18]
Increases in catastrophes resulting from
extreme weather are mainly caused by increasing population densities, and anticipated future increases are similarly dominated by societal change rather than climate change.[19] The World Meteorological Organization explains that “though there is evidence both for and against the existence of a detectable anthropogenic signal in the tropical cyclone climate record to date, no firm conclusion can be made on this point.”[20] They also clarified that “no individual tropical cyclone can be directly attributed to climate change.”[20]

Others are still imminent:

Meteorite Impact:

'The Second angel sounded his trumphet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed' (Revelation 8: 8-9)



An impact event is commonly seen as a scenario[22][23] that would bring about the end of civilization. In 2000, Discover Magazine published a list of 20 possible sudden doomsday scenarios with impact event listed as the number one most likely to occur.[24] Until the 1980s this idea was not taken seriously, but all that changed after the discovery of the Chicxulub Crater which was further reinforced by witness to the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 event. Since then there has been more interest from the scientific community and greater public awareness of the possibility of impact events.

The Bible is indeed describing an impact, nevertheless this future impact will despite its destructive effect will not annihilate all life on earth or the human race.

Solar wind:

'The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify Hime' (Revelation 16: 8-9).

See this article on wikipedia:


Earth itself is largely protected from the solar wind by its magnetic field, which deflects most of the charged particles, however some of the charged particles are trapped in the Van Allen radiation belt. A smaller number of particles from the solar wind manage to travel, as though on an electromagnetic energy transmission line, to the Earth's upper atmosphere and ionosphere in the auroral zones. The only time the solar wind is observable on the Earth is when it is strong enough to produce phenomena such as the aurora and geomagnetic storms. Bright auroras strongly heat the ionosphere, causing its plasma to expand into the magnetosphere, increasing the size of the plasma geosphere, and causing escape of atmospheric matter into the solar wind. Geomagnetic storms result when the pressure of plasmas contained inside the magnetosphere is sufficiently large to inflate and thereby distort the geomagnetic field.

Notice that Solar wind is a reality, notice also that the earth at the present is largely protected from its effect. However, notice the wording in the book of Revelation that God will one day give power to the sun to strike the earth with fire and intense heat.

Earth Quake Storm:

'Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed' (Revelation 16: 18)

Wikipedia summaries it:

An earthquake storm is a recently proposed theory about earthquakes, where one triggers a series of other large earthquakes—within the same tectonic plate—as the stress transfers along the fault. This is similar to the idea of aftershocks, with the exception that they take place years apart. These series of earthquakes can devastate entire countries or geographical regions. Possible events may have occurred during the end of the Bronze Age, and the latter part of the Roman Empire. It has been suggested that this is what may be occurring in modern day Turkey.[1]The term was coined by Stanford Professor of Geophysics Amos Nur in 2000.[2]



Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Debate Cancelled

To those who personally know me.

Some of you may have heard about a possible debate between me (Elijah Hagbard) and a Shia Muslim named Yahya Seymor.

The debate has unfortunately been cancelled.

It's long story. I met Yayhy in London in his debate with a Christian apologist David Wood. Me and Yahya had our conversation after the debate.

Since then I have occasionally communicated with Yahya on the blog: http://www.answering-muslim.org/.

Due to recent rumour spreading it was suggested that Yahya was posting under multiple names, such as Ibn.

I asked about this matter. Unfortunately I did not realise that Yahya answered my question,
and I pointed out on a later occasion a second time that Yahya and Ibn might be the same persons.

Yahya did not take this lightly and accussed me of calling him a liar, and has refused organize the debate later this year.

I have notified him that I was not aware of his answer to my question. I have also notified him that I have not even considered him a liar, but merely suggested that the two (yahya and Ibn) were the same, which I am perfectly fine with.

So are Yahya and Ibn the same persons? Honestly I don't know and I don't care, but I have to take his word for it, that he is not.

Did Yahya refuse to debate me because of the alleged accusation? Or is he backing out for other reasons? Again I don't know.

But as I said, the debate is cancelled.

Muslims Suppressing the Defence of the Christian Faith in the West

Presenter sacked for 'supporting the Bible's teachings' on radio

A radio presenter is taking legal action after he alleged he was sacked for offending Muslims by defending Christianity on air.


Something tells me that Muslim find perfectly legitimate and natural to attack and degrade other religions (I have no problem with that). However, Muslim find it offensive and suppressive if these religions or non-Muslim faction counter-attack (That I find problematic). In the link above we find that Muslims even find it oppresive to their religion and community if these religions they attack and criticise attempt to defend their position.

What do these Muslims expect? That we simply sit there and nodd like most politicians, while they can continue their campaign of demonizing the Christian faith and everything they find non-islamic? That may work in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia where non-islamic religions are suppressed (to the shame of the Islamic religion and its alleged favour of equality and human rights). Yet such ought to not find its place in the West, and as Christians we should work far more united and effectively to expose the evil and suppressing system that dominates our Christian brothers and sisters in Muslim countries.

Elijah Hagbard


My website 'Christianity-Answers' should be up and running (God willing) within a month time. The original plan was to open the website already in early January, yet due to my dissertation which (God willing) will be completed by the end of March, I have had to give priority to my studies.

The website focuses on apologetics, and should include articles on Bible criticism, non-Christian religions, atheism, evolution, the Bible and Science and ethics.

So far however I have only prepared two articles on issues related to Islam. One dealing with the Qur'anic testimony of the reliability of the Bible (what I consider to be the ultimate Islamic paradox) and the second and fairly lengthy one, a detailed assessment on the Qur'an and cosmology.

In addition I intend to post a number of articles on the fabrication of the Qur'an, the Qur'anic use pre-Islamic sources, variants in early Qur'an and Qur'anic textual criticism.

Of greater interest however will be my assessment on the Qur'an and modern science, it does not take much effort to an individual with the slightest insight into early pre-Islamic Greek, Roman and Indian philosophy and science to see that the author of the Qur'an had access to these sources and plagiarized a fair amount of these ideas into what allegedly is the Word of God.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Questions to a Christian about being a True Christian

When did you decide to be a Christian?

My family is Christian, but personally I took a decision to embrace the Christian faith and follow it by the age of fifteen.

Considering that a range of other religious and philosophical views are flourishing in todays society what convinced you that the Christian faith is truth?

I guess as a teenager; what convinced me was the spiritual experiences that followed my conversion. I realise that these do not mount as evidences to others, I realise also that experiences can be a part of other religious systems too, yet to me, personally, these experiences are the greatest evidence of the Christian faith.

John the apostle of Jesus writes:

'We accept man's testimony but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God which He has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart' (1 John 5: 9-10)

To me personally the greatest evidence for the Christian faith is God's work on my life including the spiritual experiences that followed at and after my conversion.

Obviously the greatest experience was the experience of the Spirit of God entering my life; again to any true Christian, this experience becomes a matter of personal evidence:

'And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us' (1 John 3: 24).

How do you explain that there are ex-Christians who testify to have had the Christian experience who now take a stand against it as either demonical or simply emotional?

There is a sense in which any person in a spiritual proximity of conversion can be emotional and be taken by the wave of such an atmosphere, yet without ever converting in a true sense. Jesus in his parable of the sower clearly alludes to this (Matthew chapter 13). There are those who receive the message and are infatuated about Christianity who nevertheless are only caught in a emotional embrace of Christianity, without truly surrendering their lives. Such persons according to Jesus in his parable of the sower will sooner or later abandon the Christian faith.

John the apostle of Jesus clarifies this effectively in his first epistle. His intention in the letter is to distinguish a true Christian from a false Christian; he provides three negative aspects that contradict the nature of a true Christian, despite that the individual carries the title Christian.


A Christian who abandons the Christian faith probably never belonged to the Christian faith in the first place:

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us (1 John 2: 19)

Hence individuals who leave the Christian faith, whether to another religion or leave religion all together, according to the Biblical description were never Christians. The reason why they leave corresponds to what Jesus taught in his parable of the sower, they do not have the nature of a Christian and fail therefore to persevere.


A Christian who engages in evil has according to the Christian Scripture denied his faith and disproven his Christian nature (1 John 2: 3-6; 3: 1-10)

This is analogous to the teachings of both Paul (Romans Chapters 6-8) (1 Corinth 6: 9-11) and James the brother of Jesus (James 2: 14-25)

A true Christian can only be recognised as someone who is a follower of Jesus, that is why the early Christians were recognised by the name 'Christians' (Acts 11: 26), which is why John writes:

'Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did' (1 John 2: 6)


A third pointer in recognising a true Christian is love; love marks the nature of a true Christian. This would include love toward those who love us including our enemies (Matthew 5: 43-48).

This is why John writes:

'This is how we know who the children or God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother' (1 John 3: 10).

A response and challenge to those who oppose the Christian faith.