Thor’s Stories: The Midnight Dinosaur Rhubarb Rampage

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It was a bright and sunny June Minnesota morning. The kind where the air is heavy and filled with the hum of mosquitoes, biting nats and deer flies. Thor had just decided sit down in his nice insect-free, air-conditioned home to play some Minecraft video gaming. As he prepared some snacks, he filled his glass with water from the facet in front of the kitchen window.

Looking out the kitchen’s window into his backyard, more commonly known as–the jungle, Thor sensed that something was wrong, very wrong indeed. A cold ghostly shiver of dread passed through him just like when Grandpa Walter asks him to pull his finger.

Getting out his binoculars, Thor scanned the jungle to look for irregularities. Rex, Thor’s trusty dog, was tied up by his dog house, lying in a muddy puddle and licking his butt…inspection passed. The chickens were eating corn on the cob in the chicken coop…inspection passed. Then, he saw it!  The huge canopy of great leaves that had been once been a magnificent rhubarb patch was no more. Yes, the rhubarb patch was definitely missing!

In a flash, Thor raced to his room to get the supplies he needed to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the rhubarb patch. He gathered together his umbrella, Super Soaker squirt gun, Nerf gun, an extra pair of socks, clothes pins, jump rope, paper and a pencil. On his way through the kitchen he stopped to fill a zip lock baggie with flour and grab jars of molasses and sauerkraut. Then, he marched towards the big gate that was the entry into the jungle.

The jungle was eerily quiet as Thor entered. As he began to cross the wilds of the broad green grassy plain that surrounds the rhubarb patch he found his first clue. The small blue door on the hollow tree that was the gateway to the leprechaun kingdom was open and a note left for him. Yes, the wily little men had left him a message and it was written in leprechaun code using green ink.

The message read, “23, 15, 18,11,; 15, 6; 20,8,5; 13,9,4,14,9,7,8,20; 4,9,14,15,19,1,21,18.”

Thor took the message over to his tree fort and climbed inside. There he could concentrate on deciphering their message. He had learned the key to the secret code from Milo the Leprechaun the year before so he got out his pencil and paper and went to work. First he wrote out the whole alphabet and above each letter he wrote out a number in order. The letter “A” was number one and the other letters were numbered in order with the last letter of the alphabet”Z” always being the number 26. Then he began translating the leprechaun’s note…23 was a w, 15 was an o and so on.

As he sat in his tree fort working hard trying to learn what the secret leprechaun message said, he was hit on the top of the head by a big wet slimy loogie of squirrel spit. It was Morton the Squirrel, Thor’s arch enemy, spitting on him from the top of the tree. Thor got out his umbrella and opened it. As the spit rained down upon the umbrella, Thor loaded his Super Soaker with the molasses. Just as Morton peeked around the edge of the umbrella to get a better shot at Thor, Thor raised the Super Soaker squirt gun and covered that squirrel with sweet sticky molasses.

Immobilized by the molasses, Morton was quickly caught by Thor who marched over to the clothes line and used a couple of clothes pins to hang that nasty sticky squirrel up by his ears.

Nothing makes a better backyard bug catcher than a molasses covered squirrel. Just to make sure that Morton was kept busy fighting off bugs instead of him, Thor soaked both of his extra socks in molasses and hung one on either side Morton. Soon all of the flies and mosquitoes in the jungle were getting stuck to Morton and the socks–leaving Thor alone!

Having solved the annoying squirrel and bug problem, Thor returned to his fort and went back to work decoding the secret message. Soon he had the clue worked out. It said, “Work of the midnight dinosaur.”

Thor left his tree fort, set the jar of sauerkraut on the picnic table and untied Rex. Then, he headed over to inspect the area of the jungle, where the rhubarb patch used to be, looking for evidence of the midnight dinosaur. He found the proof he was seeking. Huge foot prints that looked like flooded puddles, a large pile of black dinosaur poop that was over a foot tall and the twisted mangled remains of rhubarb leaves was clearly evidence of a marauding dinosaur rhubarb attack.

Just as he finished evaluating the evidence, he heard a loud crunching noise coming from the lawn mower shed. Quietly, he filled his Nerf gun with flour and checked to see if he still had molasses in his Super Soaker. With a loaded toy gun in each hand and his jump rope slung over his shoulder, he slowly inched his way closer to the door of the lawn mower shed.

He quietly, so very quietly, turned the door handle, then quickly flung the door wide open. There he was! Completely filling up the shed was a Tyrannosaurus dinosaur just sitting there enjoying eating delicious rhubarb by the bunches.

The loud banging of the shed door slamming open, startled the dinosaur, who immediately leaped to his feet and tried to knock Thor down with a swing of his huge mighty tail. Thor jumped over the tail swoosh and unloaded his molasses filled Super Soaker in the face of the giant reptile.

That just made the dinosaur mad, so he began to chase Thor around the jungle. He could run faster than Thor, so Thor jumped on the back of Rex his faithful dog and away they raced. Round and round the jungle Thor and Rex ran with a mad Tyrannosaurus in hot pursuit.

The dinosaur cornered Rex and Thor in the back of the jungle up against the great wall and menacingly advanced towards them. Bending low and snarling to scare Thor with his large yellow teeth, that could have really used a good flossing, the dinosaur kept trying to grab Rex and Thor with the sharp claws on the ends of his short arms.

Soon, Thor and Rex were trapped in a corner of the great wall with a Tyrannosaurus roaring them in the face. In dire and immediate peril, Thor calmly aimed his Nerf gun and fired the white baking flour onto that sticky molasses covered reptile’s face.

The flour and molasses goo on the dinosaur’s face temporarily glued the jaws of the giant beast shut. Seeing his chance Thor grabbed the jump rope and tied the arms and legs of that mean old lizard behind its back rendering the rhubarb stealer totally helpless.

Then, Thor went and got the jar of sauerkraut off of the picnic table and pulled up a lawn chair next to the dinosaur. Soon a great swarm of flies and mosquitoes started to crawl all over great flour-covered, sticky face of the beast. As the drone of the insects became louder and the mosquitoes, deer flies and nats began their biting attack, Thor asked the rhubarb thief if he’d had enough and had learned his lesson to never again take what did not belong to him.

The dinosaur sneered and said, “No little pip squeak like you and a few bugs are going to get me to leave this yard and stay away from all that tasty rhubarb. Now untie me and I will promise not to eat you or your dog!”

“You will not eat me, my dog or any more of our rhubarb. You will get out of my yard and never come back,” said Thor. Then he held the jar of sauerkraut in front of the dinosaur’s face and said, “Do you know what this is? This is the world’s most powerful potion for stinky farts and dog farts are the worst. If you don’t get out of my yard and stay out of it forever I will feed this sauerkraut to Rex and have him dog fart in your face until you surrender!”

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Then he opened the jar and held it under the dinosaur’s nose as Rex licked his chops eager to eat the sauerkraut. The dinosaur’s eyes started to water just from the terrible odor of that sour rotten cabbage. He knew there and then that he would never want to mess with sauerkraut dog farts. “Ok, ok, I’m going, just don’t feed that dog the sauerkraut!” cried the dinosaur.

Thor put the open jar of sauerkraut down and untied the dinosaur’s feet.  The humbled reptile, with his arms still tied, was then led by jump rope over to the gate of the great wall.  Thor told him to never come back again to his jungle, and then  untied the dinosaur’s arms and watched as that old rhubarb eating lizard lumbered out of sight never to return.

After the dinosaur left, Thor went and got Morton off of the clothes line and gave him a good scrub in the bird bath until all the molasses and bugs were out of his fur. Ol’ Betts, Morton’s mom, came and put him over her shoulder and hauled him home up the apple tree for another time out for spitting on others.

After cleaning up Morton, Thor used the garden hose to wash up the rhubarb leaves and stalks that the dinosaur had not eaten. He hung all of the rhubarb up to dry on the clothesline using the clothes pins.

It was about this time that Thor’s dad got home from work. He asked Thor what he had been doing all day and Thor’s answer was the same as always, “nothing much.”

His dad couldn’t help but wonder why the rhubarb patch was gone, and the dirt in the wheel barrow had been dumped out into a big pile, there were water filled puddles leading to the lawn mower shed, white baking flour had seemingly exploded all over the backyard fence, two sticky socks that smelled like molasses covered with bugs and lots of rhubarb was hanging from the clothesline, there was an open empty jar of sauerkraut on the picnic table and Rex was drinking lots water from the bird bath.

Together Thor and his dad picked the rhubarb off of the clothesline to carry it into Thor’s mom so she could make her very tasty rhubarb crunch dessert–one of Thor’s favorite treats. Just as they were leaving the backyard together Thor told his dad, “We probably want Rex to stay outside for a while.”

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Below are links to all of  the children’s stories about Thor’s adventures and a brief description of the story line.

Morton the Squirrel and the Great Chicken Race.  Thor and Morton begin their battle for supremacy of the backyard when the rascally squirrel goes after the boy’s chickens.

Morton the Squirrel and the Mighty Explosion.  Grandpa Walter saves Thor from an overwhelming squirrel attack.

Thor and Grandpa Walter Find Blueberries and Bigfoot.  Thor and Grandpa Walter find more than just blueberries in the woods on Minnesota’s North Shore.

Thor and the Rooster Pirate King. This story tells about how leprechauns came to own the magic feather they keep in their hats.

The Midnight Dinosaur Rhubarb Rampage. Do your children know how to write in secret leprechaun code?  Thor will show you how in this tale of ingenuity and backyard mayhem.

The Dog with Magical Eyes.  Leprechauns sometimes can be just plain handy, especially when your dog is suffering from magical eyes.

Thor and the Troll Toll.  The King of the Leprechauns has no tolerance for bullies, especially troll ones.

Thor Saves Christmas.  Thor and the leprechauns come to the rescue when Santa’s elves all come down with Blue Snot Flu 

Possum Passel Posse Panic.  Thor’s backyard, otherwise known as the jungle, comes under attack by a passel of possums causing great panic among the jungle’s inhabitants.

The Fence…Nothing Is Harder to Defeat Than Grandma and the Minnesota Gophers.
Gus the gopher bridges the backyard fence to decimate Grandma’s strawberry patch.

I hope you and your children enjoy reading and sharing Thor’s stories.

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Recipes: Rhubarb Pudding Cake and Rhubarb Recipes Galore!

 

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I have been reading the diaries of two sisters who were born in Michigan, during the 1880’s.  These two young women were filled with spunk and high jink.  Their work, school and social calendars are exhausting to just read about.

There are so many similarities between their childhood experiences and my memories of growing up on a farm in pre-television Minnesota.  Work came first.  Chores had to be done.  Cows don’t milk themselves, chickens don’t pick eggs, pigs never clean their own pens and rocks cannot migrate themselves out of a field.

School began bright and early by today’s standards.  By the time we were off to school, the morning chores had already been completed, breakfast made, eaten and cleaned up after.  Heck, the day was practically half over by the time classes began. No one would have ever thought to start school times later to accommodate a student’s personal sleep requirements. Such an idea would have been considered utter nonsense resulting in sloth, general laziness, eventually abject poverty and probably beer.  “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person happy, healthy, wealthy and wise,” that was our motto.

Then, there was attending a one-room school house. Except for pictures of presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the school house walls were lined with large black chalk boards. Memory work was required, lessons were recited in front of the entire student body, older boys teased younger students unmercifully, everybody had a pocket knife and playground gopher holes were routinely flooded.  The bathrooms were outside and well ventilated….especially in the winter.

Our lunches were packed at home and were filled with processed meat, red meat, white meat, Miracle Whip and meat, cheese, butter, jelly, peanut butter, white bread and as many homemade baked sugary treats as a brown paper sack or small lunchbox could hold. Only the rich kids got potato chips. They were a luxury item.

Fruit was included when in season, which meant apples.  In those days apples were regarded as a danger to both man and beast. An apple, good aim and a strong pitching arm could be used as a defensive or offensive weapon.  When carved into chunks with your pocket knife, an apple was great bait to lure unsuspecting gophers out of their holes.  Many an apple ended up on the teacher’s desk.

Sunday school was more important than regular school and rightly so. School lessons were only meant to last a lifetime, Sunday school lessons were to last for an eternity.

In addition to chores and school experiences being similar, so, too, was the entertainment.  No televisions, computers or access to any social media. Your entire social circle consisted of relatives, neighbors, school and Sunday school classmates.  And, if you wanted to take a trip without ever leaving the farm, and your family was no longer growing hemp to support the war effort, you read a book and used your imagination.

This was a time when relationships were personal and more important than hypnotically staring at electronic gadgets. Communications were face to face or handwritten. What you said or did mattered.  There was no refuge behind a detached tweet or email for the communication coward.  If your words hurt someone, you saw the hurt, and it affected you. Unless of course you suffered from total lack of empathy or were actually soulless and very quick at ducking.

In many ways those were indeed the good old days.  For there was a different type of self. It was a time of selflessness, self-control, self-responsibility, self-discipline, self-determination, self-motivation and self-reflection.  Selfishness and self-esteem had not yet run amok.

It was quaint a time when going to pick pie-plant (rhubarb) was cause for organizing a social outing that the local paper reported, “as a doing enjoyed by all!”

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Currently, there is nothing much growing here in Minnesota except for the rhubarb.  The cold and wet have kept farmers out of fields, flowering bulbs hiding beneath cool mud and yet, rhubarb seems to be loving this weather.

All of these rhubarb recipes have been kitchen-tested and passed review with raves!

This recipe for Easy Rhubarb Pudding Cake comes from the kitchen of my mother-in-law Lois Turgeon.  It is simple to make and so very, very good. Enjoy!

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

1 (2 layer) yellow cake mix
4 cups of chopped rhubarb
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 pint unwhipped heavy cream

Mix cake as directed on the package.  Pour into a lightly greased 9 X 13 cake pan. Spread evenly. Mix rhubarb with sugar and spoon over the cake batter.  Pour unwhipped cream over the unbaked cake batter and rhubarb.

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Refrigerate leftovers

Other rhubarb recipes on this blog:

Recipe: Good Neighbors, Great Rhubarb Cheesecake
Recipe: Grandmother Esther’s Rhubarb Torte and Poison Ivy Cure
Recipe: Two for a Penny Candy and a Dime a Dozen Rhubarb
Recipe: Playhouse in the Lilacs and Pies: Mud and Rhubarb
Recipe: Country School, Hot Potato Fridays and Rhubarb Bread
Recipe: Cure for Spring Fever: Songbirds, Sunshine and Rhubarb Crunch
Recipe: Slow Down and Break for Rhubarb

Children’s Rhubarb Story: Thor’s Stories: The Midnight Dinosaur Rhubarb Rampage. 

Living With Cancer: Broken Back and Grandma Pat’s Happy Hats

Well, I have been AWOL on this blog for about a month.  The reason…I have been taken out by a tsunami of a…..sneeze.  The dastardly incident…broke my back!

It did not seem like a disaster at the time. Just a sneeze accompanied by a  “pop” or two. I remember thinking at the time that, that might hurt later.  Then, I went on with life and ignored the situation until it became beyond ignorance to do so.

Within a week or so I had a extreme pain in my ribs.  Breathing hurt with every breath.  I decided that it was time to make a trip to see a doctor.  He said that he thought that I had dislocated ribs during the sneeze.  He said it was just going to take time to heal….weeks.

So, home I went and continued cooking, baking and oil painting as much as  time and pain would allow.  The pain continued to get worse.

During my routine oncology visit the following week for my monthly chemo four and a half hour infusing to treat my Multiple Myeloma cancer, my oncologist ordered a CT scan as the daily chemo medication I take can cause blot clots in my lungs and he wanted to rule that out.

After my cancer nurse Jen, she’s a little might, but nobody in their right mind would come between her and her patients.  It became quickly apparent that she and the radiation scheduling people were not on the same page. She felt very strongly that a CT scan for blood clots on the lung needed to be done that very day and not later in the week.  I immediately had the scan.

Thankfully, it showed no blood clots.

Home I went with orders to use Tylenol as needed for the rib pain.

This was on a Friday…by Sunday night the pain had escalated to the point where I need further help to control it.

Back to Regions Hospital I went.  The Emergency Room staff was great, as always, helped me get some pain relief and admitted me to the hospital.  Next, I was sent down for and MRI test.  This test showed that I had a new a complete compression fracture in my spine and two other partial collapses.

I was kept in the hospital at Regions until a back brace could be made and fitted.  I was not even allowed to go for walks in the hospital.

I have to wear the brace for 12 weeks.  Absolutely no oil painting or pretty much anything else for 6-8 weeks.  I am on week 4 now.  The back pain has moved from everywhere to just the spine and has settled in the breaks.  Progress!

This is my first time at the computer typing…so as long as I keep my elbows tucked close to my body and resting on the desk surface…this should be OK for short periods of time.

Other than being totally disappointed about this whole turn of events, feeling nauseous all the time from the pain and having doctor ordered physical limitations again.  I have a lot for which to be thankful.

While horribly stressful to have done…the PET scan than followed the MRI…showed no cancer.

Bone fractures heal.  So, while laying in bed waiting for them to heal I have spent my time praying for those I love and those I don’t. Keeping up with my friends and family on social media and watching lots of YouTube videos on metal detecting,  ocean beach foraging, fishing, crabbing, wild horses, horse auctions, rummage sales, American and Russian flea markets, world travel and recordings of survivors of the Titanic disaster..which reminds me that….it can always be worse.

And, I count my many blessings. I have a wonderful caring husband and fabulous doctors.  My neighbors and friends help whenever I call them for assistance..for those times when gravity hates the disabled.  I can still bathe myself, get my underwear on and for the most part dress. I can with limits….feed myself and walk for short distances in the house without a cane or walker.  Walking outside is a different matter, but then my neighbors, husband and a walker or cane assist me. Sliding open the patio door for my pups no longer brings tears to the eyes.  And, one of my friends even sent me several jars of her fabulous and highly sought after homemade jam…delicious!  All of the cards have been wonderful and a real morale booster.

While I wait for the pain to go away, and my strength to return, so I can go hiking in the badlands later this summer with my husband, my doctors still allow me to crochet my “Grandma Pat Happy Hats.”  I give them to my fellow cancer patients and the Regions Cancer Care Center.  I am told that they are very popular.  I was asked to make some for sick children so that is what I have been doing.  I can complete one just about everyday. If I don’t either get better soon or slow down production, I will soon disappear as the pile of happy hats continues to grow.

When I can again ride comfortably in a car and walk short distances, I plan on going with to deliver them to the children fighting cancer…they are all heroes.

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Until then, I am on my back in bed crocheting with the occasional trip to my backyard patio to hear song birds sing, yell at my dogs to get the squirrels away from the bird feeders, shout at my dogs to stay out of the mud, feel the sun on my face and burn my extra sensitive photo sensitive chemo skin.

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Even though this health blip has, as my good friend and neighbor Jackie pointed out…has really taken it out of me….with the help of God and according to his will….I’ve got this!

Life is still so very good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? The Passing of My Aunt Margie…Well Done My Good and Faithful Servant

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Uncle Klynn and Aunt Margie

My Aunt Margaret Cole surrendered her spirit to her Lord Jesus on March 11.  She had spent the last years of her life in a losing battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

When it comes to diseases Alzheimer’s and cancer both suck. However, in most cases, unless it directly attacks the brain, like it did in my neighbor Don’s case, cancer destroys the body…Alzheimer’s destroys mind and body, and in many cases, like that of my dearest aunt, a person’s very essence.  I believe that it is the much crueler fate.

I think her battle was especially tough on her as her older brother was passing from the same disease when she first noticed her own symptoms.  She really did a marvelous job during those first few years of working to keep her mind as focused, active, rational and relational as possible.  But, the slide of Alzheimer’s was still inevitable and relentless.

At first her devoted husband took care of her.  Their loving relationship was one romance fanatics could only dream about.  They were devoted to one another. Then, just as her condition began to worsen rapidly, he suffered a major stroke.  Since both of them now needed around the clock care…their daughter, husband and granddaughter moved home to care for them.

It was hard. Hard on everyone.  Lots of adjustments and challenges.

Eventually, Alzheimer’s robbed us all of the woman we loved…wife, mother, grandmother, sister, cousin and aunt.

When I was diagnosed with the cancer Multiple Myeloma seven years ago and was confined to a bed for years…my aunt Margie never forgot me.  In fact, she called me at least once a week.  She always had a Bible study prepared for us to share.  Our conversations could last for hours.  In addition to her scheduled calls, sometimes there were unexpected calls. Oddly, those calls always came during my dark times…she somehow felt that I needed her and would always listen to that feeling and call.  She lifted me up.

As the years went by I grew stronger and due to necessity our roles reversed.  It was my turn to call her.  My turn to organize the Bible study.  My turn to listen to my feeling and call her whenever I thought of her.  My turn to listen to frustrations and fears.

When she couldn’t see well enough to read her Bible anymore, I sent her one with extra large 18-point font and in addition a desk top magnifier with its own light. Then spent days worrying that the Bible would be too heavy for her to lift.  The large print and magnifier worked alright for awhile.  Too, soon she lost her ability to read completely.  Oh, how she grieved the loss of reading.  As a former school teacher reading was another of the loves of her life, especially reading scripture.

So, I sent her the Bible on audio tape.

I don’t believe this ever worked out too well, as by then even that simple recorder was too difficult for her to navigate. Then, too, her hearing was being taken away by the disease.

Eventually, I would call just to read her Bible Verses…John 3:16….Psalm 27…Psalm 23 and many others.

Too soon our phone calls had to cease. Once in a while she’d ask to call me and it was so very wonderful just to hear the sound of her voice.  Even if I wasn’t sure she still knew who I was, or how disjointed our conversation.

I will greatly miss my Aunt Margie.  It has been a long winter for me.  In addition to being basically totally housebound since October due to health, weather, snow, ice and slipping hazards, there has been a lot of goodbyes. First I lost my good friend El, then, my Aunt Dee, then neighbor Don, then, cousin Mim, then, a wonderful friend Scott Carlson and now Aunt Margie.

Heck of a deal.

blizzard outhouse

Sun still came up this morning and it shines warm and bright.

sunrise

Just as bright as the call I received from my cousin Laurie, the daughter who cared for my Aunt and Uncle for the past year.  I thought it was my turn to lift her up, but I have not even been able to bring myself to buy a sympathy card..too soon…too hard.

Laurie shared what my aunt’s last month was like.

For the last month of her life Aunt Margie was transported mentally back to the farm she grew up on in Minnesota. And spent much time with the folks from back home especially, her brothers. Laurie shared that one day Aunt Margie announced that she would like to have a tea party and invite her sister Ruth Marie.  The thing is…her sister Ruth Marie had been born with multiple birth defects and had died as a small infant.  Laurie, asked me if it was possible that her mother was already in heaven.  I believe that she was and Ruth Marie was hale and hearty and recognizable to Aunt Margie as a playable-sized sister.

The other story that Laurie shared was that one day when she was trying to get her mother to eat which at that time was already quite a process and consisted of the occasional spoonful of yogurt or apple sauce.  Aunt Margie commenced to lead a very robust prayer meeting and Bible study.  Laurie said she really had to be on her toes to get a spoonful of sustenance in here or there.

Then, Aunt Margie announced, “Let’s sing.”  Laurie said she tried to remember every old Lutheran hymn Aunt Margie had learned in Sunday School as a child and they sang them all…together.  I asked Laurie if Aunt Margie remembered the words.  Yes, she said every last one of them.

Which just goes to show that God always keeps his promises…and the importance of good parenting.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

One of my Aunt’s greatest fears about her disease is that somehow she would forget her Lord Jesus Christ and lose her salvation. We discussed this a lot over the past several years and months. With God’s own words I could assure her that, that would never, ever happen.

Faith is heart knowledge, not head knowledge. Once we ask the Lord to enter our hearts, he hangs onto us…we don’t have to worry about hanging on to him.

Deuteronomy 31:8  

And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

Psalm 9:10

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

Hebrews 13:5

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.  

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Aunt Margie’s showed great courage during her illness.  In her case the “false witness that breathed out cruelty” and “will of her enemies” that had risen against her was a disease…Alzheimer’s disease.   She had no evil to fear as God, the most loving of all parents, protects and never forsakes his children.   He strengthened her heart, and she waited on her Lord. 

Two summers ago I made the long trip out to Montana to visit my Aunt Margie. Our visit went by far too quickly. We shared many hugs in the doorway before our departure. Then we looked into each other eyes for which we both knew would be the last time. She gave me a bright smile and said, “If I don’t see you again in this world, I will see you in the next!”

Psalm 23 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Surely goodness and mercy followed my Aunt Margie all the days of her life and now she dwells in the house of the Lord forever! 

 

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Always, but especially during the season of Lent, it so important to remember that Jesus defeated both death and the devil on the cross.  Therefore there is no evil to fear, for Jesus is always with us. He is our hope, salvation, ticket to heaven and eternal life.  Death has lost its sting.

John 3: 16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Blogger note:

Children’s Story about a Grandmother teaching her grandchildren about Jesus.

 

20150523130433119_Page_16On Grandmother’s Knee

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today: Historical Jesus? Non-Biblical Evidence

Last year I spent the weeks of Lent researching answers to faith questions that I personally struggle with and that my students had asked me throughout my over forty plus years of teaching Christian Education.

Now, I am not a person who is satisfied with an “because it says so”  response.  Nor, I am not a teacher who would answer a question with a question.   Therefore, I used sources from outside of the Bible for my research.

These posts on the Bible, Christianity and religion address a number of questions such as: Is the Bible just another book of ancient mythology?  Are Biblical figures Herculean?  Why or why not? Is the translation of my Bible even remotely accurate and does it reflect original God-inspired text?  Was there an historical Jesus?  Says who? Did Jesus actually die on the cross? Was he really dead or did he just pass out? Did he rise from the dead? Who witnessed his resurrection? Were those witnesses reliable?   Are Science and the Bible compatible and if so which scientists held a belief in God? Were they well-respected in their fields of science? Did they defend their belief?

My research process took a long time and used a variety of sources both online and textual.  The result was five posts:  What is Easter?  Is the Bible Believable?  Historical Jesus?  Intelligent Design?  He has risen, He has risen indeed!

During this season of Lent, I will re-post one of these articles each week, as well as provide links to the others.

This week’s topic…Historical Jesus?

                                                     

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Jesus Calling the Storm by Patricia Turgeon

 

                                                           Historical Jesus?
                                                        Non-Biblical Evidence

There is an overwhelming amount of historical and archaeological evidence available to show that the New Testament is a reliable historical document.  The New Testament contains extensive scripture references about, to and from Jesus Christ. However, if you still have doubts about the veracity of the Bible, I believe that it is fair to ask if there are non-biblical sources that provide evidence of a historical Jesus? Yes, there are.

Few people know the names of non-biblical authors from antiquity that document the existence of a historical Jesus.  However, many of us have heard of the Romans and their Christian killing, blood thirsty Emperor Nero.

In July of A.D. 64, the same year that the Romans executed Apostles Paul and Peter, the city of Rome was destroyed by fire.  Nero, who is thought to have set the fire himself, needed a scapegoat…he chose Christians.  Roman historian Tacitus recorded,

“Nero fastened the guilt . . . on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of . . . Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome.”

What does this reference tell us?  First, that Christians were named after a historical person called Christus, which is Latin for Christ.  The extreme penalty suffered was obviously Roman execution by crucifixion. His crucifixion occurred during the reign of Tiberius, and he was sentenced to death by Pontius Pilatus.  All of these details about Jesus are recorded in the Gospels.

Tacitus refers to “a most mischievous superstition,” which began in Judaea and had spread to Rome.  This is indirect testimony that Christians believe Jesus rose from the grave.  What abominations had Christians committed?  They did not worship Emperor Nero or Roman gods, but only the one true God.  And, Christians were accused of cannibalism, because they participated in sharing the body (bread) and blood (wine) of Holy Communion.

Within the Roman empire the Christian doctrine acknowledging the divinity of Jesus and following his teachings was extremely revolutionary.  Christians promised to follow God’s moral laws and the teachings of Jesus to love their neighbors as themselves at a time when Rome’s chief import was sand to soak up the blood of the human victims sacrificed in the Colosseum for sport and entertainment.  For a time, Roman’s actually imported more sand to soak up blood than grain to feed its citizens.

In an 112 A.D letter from the Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor Phiny the Younger to Emperor Trajan, Phiny asks for direction on legal proceedings against Christians.  He felt impelled to ask for the Emperor’s advice because there were multitudes of Christian believers of every age, class, and sex.  In this letter Pliny shares information about early Christians,

“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food–but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”

Phiny’s words “they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god”, illustrate that early Christians acknowledged Jesus’s divinity.  When he says that Christians sang to Christ, “as to a god,” he is pointing out that unlike other gods, Christ had been a person who had lived on this earth.  His reference that Christians, “partake of food–but food of an ordinary and innocent kind” is a repudiation of the claim that Christians practiced cannibalistic rituals.

A collection of Jewish rabbinical writings dated from between 70-200 A.D. called the Babylonian Talmud also contain references to Jesus.  The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism. It is the primary source of Jewish religious law and theology.  In nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud is the foundation to Jewish cultural life.

The Talmud would clearly be a biased source against Jesus and yet it agrees with most of the major events of his life: being conceived out of wedlock, gathering disciples, making blasphemous claims about himself, and working miracles.  However, the Talmud attributes Jesus’s miracles to sorcery and not to God.

The Talmud says that,

“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald . . . cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.” 

What does this quotation reveal? First, “Yeshu” is the Hebrew pronunciation of Jesus.  Secondly, it confirms that Jesus was crucified on the eve of Passover. The term “hanged” is often used as synonym for the word “crucified”.  The New Testament uses the word “hanged” instead of the word “crucified” multiple times.

Luke 23: 32, 33, 39

32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

“39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.”

Acts 5:30

 

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.”

 

Acts 10:39

“And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree”

What about that bit about the cry of the herald for forty days that Jesus was to be stoned?  Jewish leaders felt threatened by the message of love and justice that Jesus preached. They plotted for a long time against him and made no secret of the fact that they wanted him killed.  In those times, a death sentence rendered by Jewish law was carried out by stoning. Fearing that Jesus’s followers would revolt against Jewish authority, should they condemn him, Jewish leaders took him to Pilate. To be crucified, and fulfill Old Testament prophecy, Jesus had to be condemned by Roman law.

The references about Jesus practicing sorcery would refer to his miracles and the charge of apostasy…Jesus claiming to be God’s son.  It was for this last claim that he was sent to the cross.

Evidence from Lucian

Lucian of Samosata was a second century (200 A.D.) Greek. He wrote this snarky description of early Christians :

“The Christians . . . worship a man to this day–the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.”

Lucian does not mention Jesus by name, but obviously that who he is writing about.

Probably the most well-known non-biblical references about Jesus and the origins of Christianity are those recorded by first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.

Josephus a scholar, historian and hagiographer was born in Jerusalem to a father of priestly descent and a mother claiming royal ancestry.  His writing entitled, Antiquities of the Jews, is dated to around 93-94 A.D.  It contains references about Biblical Jesus and  John the Baptist, a great prophet and Jesus’s older cousin.

The first reference about Jesus is found in Book 18, Chapter 3, 3.  The text is called the “Testimonium Flavianum” andsays,

“About this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was the achiever of extraordinary deeds and was a teacher of those who accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When he was indicted by the principal men among us and Pilate condemned him to be crucified, those who had come to love him originally did not cease to do so; for he appeared to them on the third day restored to life, as the prophets of the Deity had foretold these and countless other marvelous things about him, and the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.”

This version of the text is found in Josephus manuscripts as early as the third-century.  Scholars agree that Josephus wrote the core message about Jesus, but they suspect Christians made complimentary additions to his text at a later date.  Josephus would not have believed or stated publicly that Jesus was the Messiah or that he rose from the dead.  If he had, Josephus could not still have claimed to be a non-Christian Jew.

In 1972, Professor Schlomo Pines of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem announced the discovery of a manuscript translation of this text by tenth-century Melkite historian Agapius.

“At this time there was a wise man called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. Many people among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive. Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.”

This version of the the text is considered to be more in line with what Josephus may have originally wrote.  He could have made this statement and remained a non-Christian Jew.

Josephus’s other reference to Jesus is found in Book 20, Chapter 9, 1.  A vast majority of modern scholars believe that this text is authentic.

Josephus wrote,

“Having such a character (“rash and daring” in the context), Ananus thought that with Festus dead and Albinus still on the way, he would have the proper opportunity. Convening the judges of the Sanhedrin, he brought before them the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, whose name was James, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned. But those of the city residents who were deemed the most fair-minded and who were strict in observing the law were offended at this. Accordingly, they secretly contacted the king [Herod Agrippa II], urging him to order Ananus to desist from any more such actions, for he had not been justified in what he had already done. Some of them even went to meet Albinus, who was on his way from Alexandria, and informed him that Ananus had no authority to convene the Sanhedrin without his consent. Convinced by these words, Albinus wrote in anger to Ananus, threatening him with punishment. And King Agrippa, because of this, deposed him from the high priesthood, in which he had ruled for three months.”

The New Testament tells us that Jesus did in fact have a brother named James.James was stoned to death by Jewish authorities.

There is almost unanimous agreement among modern scholars that Josephus’s reference in Book 18, Chapter 5, 2 to the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist is authentic.

Non-biblical sources proof that,

John 1: 14

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

 

What is Easter?….A Promise Fulfilled By A Loving God

Believable Bible?…The Criterion of Embarrassment and Translation Accuracy

Historical Jesus?…Non-Biblical Evidence

Intelligent Design?….The Bible, Science and Scientists

He has Risen, He has Risen Indeed!…Resurrection Witnesses

 

 

Grandma Pat Letter: Cat Warfare: Cats Predict Catastrophic Children’s Blizzard of January 12, 1888

The Children’s Blizzard of 1888 was a “Cyclonic Bomb” just like the one that is now hitting the Dakota’s

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

Dear Kids:

I could not help but notice that at a school bus stop this morning there was a young person wearing shorts, with no jacket, hat or mittens.  It is a Minnesota January and it is cold!  Going outside in the winter not dressed for the weather demonstrates even less common sense than fashion sense.  Let me tell you, there can be very bad consequences for not dressing warm in the winter.

Did you hear on the news this morning about a meteorological phenomena called a “Bomb Cyclone.”   This type of weather event is not new, but it is still dangerous and deserving of respect.  Well over one hundred years ago there was another “Bomb Cyclone” a winter  blizzard or “White Hurricane” that hit Minnesota and its neighboring states on January 12, 1888.   It was named the “Children’s Blizzard.”

Scores Frozen 4

The day of the Children’s Blizzard began with an unusually beautiful…

View original post 2,122 more words

What Is On My Mind Today? Is the Bible Believable…

Last year I spent the weeks of Lent researching answers to faith questions that I personally struggle with and that my students had asked me throughout my over forty plus years of teaching Christian Education.

Now, I am not a person who is satisfied with an “because it says so”  response.  Nor, I am not a teacher who would answer a question with a question.   Therefore, I used sources from outside of the Bible for my research.

These posts on the Bible, Christianity and religion address a number of questions such as: Is the Bible just another book of ancient mythology?  Are Biblical figures Herculean?  Why or why not? Is the translation of my Bible even remotely accurate and does it reflect original God-inspired text?  Was there an historical Jesus?  Says who? Did Jesus actually die on the cross? Was he really dead or did he just pass out? Did he rise from the dead? Who witnessed his resurrection? Were those witnesses reliable?   Are Science and the Bible compatible and if so which scientists held a belief in God? Were they well-respected in their fields of science? Did they defend their belief?

My research process took a long time and used a variety of sources both online and textual.  The result was five posts:  What is Easter?  Is the Bible Believable?  Historical Jesus?  Intelligent Design?  He has risen, He has risen indeed!

During this season of Lent, I will re-post one of these articles each week, as well as provide links to the others.

This week’s topic…Is the Bible Believable?

May God bless you and keep you, may his face shine upon you and give you peace!

Bible read me

                                                          Believable Bible?
                  The Criterion of Embarrassment and Translation Accuracy

I spent all of last year reading the entire Bible. The Bible is not easy to read, especially the Old Testament.  The text itself can be hard to understand and many of the events described disconcerting.  I know that there are parts of it, I will never understand.  I even read the Old Testament Book of Numbers chapter, line and verse.  After completing the first chapter of the Book of Numbers,  I learned two things.  Its precise details spoke to authenticity, and it became incredibly clear to me that I was never meant to be an accountant.

The Bible was never intended to be a “proof” of God, similar to a mathematical proof. It was meant to contain mysteries beyond human understanding. The Bible is the revelation God. His power, wisdom, strength, justice and love.

After reading the Bible, it became clear to me that conceptually….I am to an ant, as God is to me.  An ant cannot understand the power and scope of my universe, anymore than I am able to understand the power and scope of the realm of God.  An ant may not know of my existence, but I certainly exist and know about the ant.

Faith in God is about believing in the unseen. That may seem like a lot to ask, but we believe in many things we cannot see.  When I was a Christian preschool teacher each spring I would prepare a lesson about how air is like God.  The children couldn’t see air, but that did not make air any less real.  If they stood in front of a fan, they could feel air.  If I whistled they could hear air. To see air we needed…a balloon.  The balloon showed the children that air is a real thing.  The Bible is the balloon of God.

God provides plenty of proof of his existence throughout the Bible through witness accounts, allegory, parable and prophesy fulfillment.   Historians use many different tools to evaluate the accuracy of the scriptures such as corresponding archaeological evidence and other external sources.

Archaeologists have discovered in non-biblical sources the names of Biblical kings, government officials, cities and celebrations. For example, in the Gospel of John we are told that Jesus healed a cripple beside the Pool of Bethesda. The Bible describes that there were five walkways (porticoes) leading to the pool.  For many years historians did not believe that the pool even existed. Then, the pool and its five walkways were found forty feet below the ground.  In the Book of Acts, Luke mentions thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities and nine islands.  All of which exist.

When there is a lack of archaeological evidence or documents to support the accuracy of a primary source, a historical analysis tool called the criterion of embarrassment can be used. The criterion of embarrassment states that recorded accounts that would be embarrassing to the author are presumed to be true, because it would be counterproductive for the author to promote embarrassing accounts about themselves.  In other words, people can be counted on to put their best foot forward.

Biblical characters have far-too many embarrassing human faults to be considered glorified herculean heroes. Many of the accounts of their lives are of the most embarrassing sort.  Therefore, critiquing them by using the criterion of embarrassment would indicate that we are reading truth.

Here is a very small sample of embarrassing Old Testament stories. The great King David was an adulterer and murderer. Noah got so drunk that he was found naked by his sons. And, then there is the story of Lot’s daughters. They got their father drunk so that he’d have sex with them and get them pregnant.  Yes, incest. The gals were successful in their endeavors.

The New Testament fares no better. The Apostle Peter, the rock the church was to be built upon, denies Jesus three times in public, within ear and eye shot of Jesus himself, then runs away crying.  When Jesus was arrested a fellow lost all his clothes and ran away naked.

Mark 14: 51-52

“51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.”

The Apostle Paul escapes his enemies by being lowered out a window in a basket. Even, the account of discovery of the empty tomb on Easter morning would have been horribly embarrassing and a hard sell to first century Jews.  Women made the discovery!  Their testimony wasn’t even taken seriously in a court of law at that time.

Biblical characters were not made-up figments in the imaginations of the 40 different authors who wrote the Bible over 1,500 years (1450 B.C. the time of Moses to about 100 A.D. following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ).  There are so very many extensive and precisely detail lineages within the Bible. These folks existed and they experienced all of the joys, fears, anxieties, sorrows and vices of humankind. And, in spite of all of their human faults and weaknesses, God got his work done through them anyway.

The Bible was completed almost two-thousand years ago, around 100 A.D. If you go online you can read the Bible in over 150 different translations.  So, it is fair to ask whether or not modern Bibles are accurate translations of original text.  Is today’s Bible still the message God wanted shared?

Today’s Biblical translations are made from original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts.  In 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a cave in Israel.  These scrolls contained Old Testament scripture that was 1,000 years older than any other known Biblical manuscript. When known manuscripts, including modern ones, were compared to the Dead Sea Scroll text it was in total agreement 99.5%.  The differences were all minor and had no effect on messaging.  The differences included minor spelling variations, such a missing or incomplete letters and sentence structure changes that had no effect on the meaning of the sentence.

However, the Dead Sea Scrolls are not the oldest Old Testament text ever found.  In a First Temple period burial tomb near Jerusalem in 1979, an excavation lead by Gabriel Barkay found two small silver scrolls.  The scrolls were dated to the 7th century B.C., the time of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah and King Josiah. Four centuries before the Dead Sea Scrolls.

It was a challenge to unroll the small silver scrolls without damaging them.  It took three years just to unroll the largest scroll which was about three inches long when unrolled.  Inside the scroll were very delicate engraved words.  The first word that was recognized was “YHWH”….Jehovah.  This is God’s name in the Hebrew Bible.  The scroll’s 19 lines of small Hebrew writing was an almost a word for word copy of a very familiar ancient priestly blessing found in the Old Testament Book of Numbers.

Numbers 6:24-26

“The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

There are great gaps of time between the writing and the dates of first known copies for most ancient writers.  There also very few known copies of these works. Even those of Plato, Caesar, Aristotle, and Homer.  Yet, few doubt or question the accuracy or reliability of the publications by Plato, Caesar, Aristotle or Homer.

Plato wrote “The Republic” about 380 B.C.  The earliest know copies are dated from 900 A.D. ….1,300 years later.  There are just seven copies in existence.  Caesar’s Gallic Wars” were penned between 100-44 B.C. There are ten known copies of this work, all of which are dated almost 1,000 after it was written.   The works of Aristotle were published between 384 and 322 B.C.  The earliest known copy is dated 1100 A.D., a span of 1400 years.  There are only 49 copies in existence.  Homer’s Illiad was written in 990 B.C. It’s earliest know copy is 400 B.C., a gap of 500 years.  There are only 643 known copies.

The original writing of the New Testament is better preserved than any other ancient manuscript. There are over 5,000 whole or partial Greek manuscripts of the New Testament all dated within 50-225 years of its writing. Over 24,000 if you include those of other languages.

When it came to Scripture, scribes (monks) were meticulous in their copying of original manuscripts. They checked and rechecked their work, to make sure it perfectly matched. If there was a mistake, they had to start the whole thing over again.

The New Testament was written between 50-100 A.D.  The earliest known copy was found with the Dead Sea Scrolls in Cave 7.  At that site a fragment of the Gospel of Mark was found by Jose Callahan.  It has been dated to have been written in A.D. 50. Less than 25 years after the crucifixion of Jesus.  At the same site, fragments of the Book of Acts and other books of the New Testament where also discovered and dated to have been written shortly after 50 A D.

Fragments from the Gospel of John, (John Rylands Papyrus) have been discovered that date within 40 years of being penned.  The Chester Beatty Papyrus is a nearly complete copy of the New Testament and has been dated within 100-150 years of its composition. The Bodmer Papyri contains most of the Gospel of John, and dates to A.D. 200.  Should all of the manuscripts of the New Testament have been destroyed, the entire New Testament, with the exception of 11 verses, could be reconstructed through the recorded quotes of early Church fathers.

From the Rylands Papyri, found in Egypt, dated to 130 A.D, we can reasonably conclude the this gospel was completed long before 130 A.D.  We know this because it had to be written, hand copied, and had to travel from Greece to Egypt. Since, most scholars agree the the Gospel of John was the last to be written, this papyri would affirm that the entire New Testament Gospel was completed in the first century after Jesus’s crucifixion.

It is believed that most of the writing in the New Testament was completed twenty to forty years before the end of the first century.  The gospels are traditionally dated as follows:  Gospel of Mark A.D. 60;  Gospels of Matthew and Luke between 60-70 A.D. and the Gospel of John between the years of 90-100 A.D.

Both internal and external evidence supports these early dates.  The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke prophesy the fall of the temple in Jerusalem.  This event occurred in A.D. 70.  Yet, none of these first three gospels mention this catastrophic event in Jewish history.  Since, they had prophesied this event, one would think they would have staked a claim to the accuracy of the prophesy, had it occurred prior to the completion of their writing.

Luke, wrote both his gospel and the Book of Acts.  He ends the Book of Acts by noting that the Apostle Paul is alive and well, and preaching about the risen savior.

Acts 28:30-31 

“30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!”

Both Apostles Peter and Paul died martyrs in around 67 A.D.  The book of Acts does not record either man’s death.  So the Book of Acts must have been completed before that date and Luke’s Gospel was completed before the Book of Acts.

Most New Testament scholars concur that Paul’s epistles date from A.D. 48-60. The details he provides about the life of Jesus are consistent with those of the gospel writers.  In his first letter to the the Corinthians in Chapter 15, Paul summarized the gospel as told by its writers.  In 1 Timothy 5:18 Paul actually quotes from the Gospel of Luke, indicating that the Gospel of Luke was certainly completed before Paul was killed in 64 A.D.

1 Timothy 5:18

“18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

Luke 10:7

“7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. “

There are also external sources that help provide an early date for the New Testament.  An early father of the church, Clement of Rome, wrote a letter to the church in Corinth in A.D. 95. In that message he quoted not only from the gospels, but also from other portions of the New Testament.  Before he was martyred in Rome in 115 A. D., the Bishop of Antioch, Ignatius, drafted a letter using quotes from all of the gospels, as well as some of the other New Testament letters.  By the second century church fathers were so familiar with the text of the apostle’s writings that they quoted them as scripture.

Why are early dates for the New Testament so important. There are two reasons:

First, the closer an event is to its historical record, the more likely it will be that the record is accurate.  When the New Testament, including the gospels were written, eyewitnesses to the life and death of Jesus were still alive to attest to the truth of the text.  The writers of the New Testament were either first-hand witnesses to the events surrounding Jesus or they were very close companions to, first hand witnesses.  Their accounts had to be and are supported by chronological and geographic fact.

Author Dr. Colin Hemer painstakingly reviewed each and every verse in the Book of Acts to determine the accuracy of the history written by its author Luke.  In just the final 16 chapters, Dr. Hemer identified 84 facts that have been collaborated by archaeological and historical research.

Second, the documented early dates of the New Testament is too short of a time period for legends to have developed.  Historians agree that it takes over eighty years, or more than two generations, for legendary accounts to become established.  Legends tend to be made up after all of the first generation witnesses and those that they directly shared their first-hand accounts with have died off.

The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, were readily accepted by early Christians because their accounts readily agreed with the common knowledge known about Jesus. People were still alive who had met Jesus, heard him speak, knew of his healing powers, ability to perform miracles and had seen him after he had risen from the dead. Matthew and John personally knew Jesus and had traveled with him for more than three years. Mark and Luke, were close associates of the apostles and recorded what they had directly learned from them.  Their accounts would have been easily fact checked.

Luke wrote in the Book of Acts, ““This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses”

John noted, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

He also wrote, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life … These things we write.”

A reasonable person could conclude from presented evidence, and there is so much more, that Jesus did exist and the Bible is authentic, accurate and reliable.

2 Peter 1:16

“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty”

*************

Links: 

What is Easter?….A Promise Fulfilled By A Loving God

Believable Bible?…The Criterion of Embarrassment and Translation Accuracy

Historical Jesus?…Non-Biblical Evidence

Intelligent Design?….The Bible, Science and Scientists

He has Risen, He has Risen Indeed!…Resurrection Witnesses