ANACHRONISMS IN THE GOSPELS

ANACHRONISMS

According to Burton Mack in his book “Who Wrote the New Testament”, the pious Pharisee movement did not exist IN GALILEE [they were plentiful in Judea] until after 70 C.E., when Jews were forced out of Jerusalem and headed north.

Likewise, the use of the term “rabbi” for scribes and teachers was not in vogue until the end of the first century C.E. And yet already in Mark, Jesus is called “Rabbi,” and is debating with Pharisees in Galilean Synagogues!

Well one thing is it didn’t happen and two, our gospels are written much later than consensus tells us.

1. THE PHARISEES

At least a couple of well-known biblical scholars do give us reason to doubt the popular gospel image of Jesus bumping into Pharisees with every step he took in Galilee.

Though there may have been the odd Pharisee in Galilee prior to 70 ce the impression given by the gospels that they were a significant presence there, is unlikely historical— for the following reasons:

A) Evidence of Josephus; it is clear from his War II. 569-646, and even more from his Vita (28-406 and especially 197f.), that as late as 66 Pharisees might be respected in Galilee for their legal knowledge (through Josephus’ suggestion of this is suspect as part of his pro-Pharisaic propaganda), but they were certainly rare: the only ones Josephus encountered were sent from Jerusalem, and had been chosen to impress the Galileans by their rarity.

B)There is strong evidence that there were practically no Pharisees in Galilee during Jesus’ lifetime. A generation later, when the great Pharisee Yohanan ben Zakkai lived there for eighteen years, only two cases were brought to him for decision; he reportedly cursed the country for hating the Law – it was destined to servitude. Y. Shabbat XVL.8 (15d. end).

Not exactly Pharisee turf, then-till decades after Jesus.

C) The rabbis inherited the traditions of the Pharisees; among these traditions, it seems, there were none about Jesus.

This anachronism reflects the flight of Pharisees and other refugees into Galilee (which “hated the Torah”) after 70AD where these strict sect members were not liked by the locals.

In Jesus’ day, since the spirituality of Pharisaism was the extension of temple purity codes into the surrounding homes of the pious. Jerusalem, then, was where the action was for the Pharisees, not Galilee. The picture of Jesus debating with scribes and Pharisees coming down from Jerusalem is anachronistic due to lack of a Pharisees pre 70AD.

2. RABBI

The term “RABBI” (Hebrew/Aramaic for “My master”) was not in vogue implies an anachronism.

Mark 10.51 [and other]

Α.Jewish Encyclopedia entry “rabbi”

“Sherira’s statement shows clearly that at the time of Jesus there were no titles; and Grätz (“Gesch.” iv. 431), therefore, regards as anachronisms the title “Rabbi” (my master) as given in the gospels to John the Baptist and Jesus, ..”

Β. Geza Vermes p. 26 of “The changing faces of Jesus”

“Nor was he a “rabbi” in the technical sense despite being repeatedly addressed as such… It is even questionable whether the term ‘rabbi’ in the specialized meaning was current in the early decades of the first century AD. The great Jewish masters who lived in the age of Jesus, Hillel, Shammai, Gamaliel, are all called “elders” [Grk. “presbyters”] not ‘rabbis’.”

Hyam Macoby ‘The Mythmaker’ p 21

“Thus the assembly of sages [as the Pharisee leaders were called before the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70; after which they became known as ‘rabbis’ …”

This surely has happened with Jesus when he is called Rabbi, a term we are told only began to take on titular use sometime in the second century C.E.

Date suggested:

Post 70, ce stretching to the time when calling Jewish sages “rabbi” became common enough for the author of “Mark” to [incorrectly] and anachronistically place it in the earlier purported era of Jesus, it is evident that the term rabbi was not in vogue until after the destruction of the Temple. In the contemporary literature many sages were quoted without the prefix of rabbi. Jose ben Joezer, Simon Ben Shetah, Shmmai, Hillel, Shammai, Nahum and many others. We have substantial literature of the period namely Josephus, Apocalyphal, Philo and early tannaitic literature before the destruction of the Temple. In none of this literature does the term rabbi occur. But when did it become common? Some time after the turn of the century? Rabbi as a title for esteemed/learned Jewish teachers is a post-Second Temple phenomenon. This period is called Rabbinic Judaism for a reason.

Which thus suggests a second century date for the writing of Mark.

3. “ALL the Jews wash their hands…”

Mark 7:3

From Nineham “St.Mark” p.193

“According to the Jewish experts, the evidence of the Talmud is that in the time of Jesus ritual washing of the hands before meals was obligatory only on the priests… but the ordinary layman -including the Pharisee and the scribe- was not concerned about such questions […] It is agreed by everyone that about 100AD, or a little later, ritual washing did begin to become obligatory on all…”

So it seems possible that Mark’s statement that “ALL the Jews wash their hands” is inaccurate for the purported era of JC but possibly accurate for a time several decades later.

Thus: Suggested date: Early 2Century

Sanders writes, p. 186 of Jesus and Judaism (1985)

Mark says that ‘the Jews’ washed their hands before eating (7:3), but in Jesus’ day it would have been a small number of them. The Rabbis eventually made handwashing ‘normative’, and it is worth nothing that it is one of the very few practices of ritual purity which have continued. But before 70 the common people did not accept the practice. That is so by definition: had they done so they would have met one of the requirements of the haberim [akin to the notion of Pharisees].

4. SHROUDS

Mark 15:46

“And he bought a linen shroud, and …wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb […] and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.

Jewish Encyclopedia [see headings]

Α.Gamaliel

“Gamaliel insured the perpetuation of his memory by his order to be buried in simple linen garments, for the example which he thus set put an end to the heavy burial expenses which had come to be almost unbearable …(Ket. 8b).”

Β.Mo’ed Katan

“It was not until after Rabban Gamaliel had been buried in simple linen garments that this custom became general.”

Γ.Shroud.

“This caused R. Gamaliel, about fifty years after the destruction of the Temple, to inaugurate the custom of using a simple linen shroud for rich and poor alike (Babylonian Talmud, Moed Katan 27b).”

So, according to the JE, about c120ce the custom was started of burial in a shroud thus suggesting this anachronism [JC being buried in a shroud] was written sometime after that date.

5. CIRCULAR TOMBS

From Richard Carrier: “There is another reason to doubt the tomb burial: the tomb blocking stone is treated as round in the Gospels, but that would not have been the case in the time of Jesus, yet it was often the case after 70 C.E., just when the gospels were being written. Amos Kloner, in “Did a Rolling Stone Close Jesus’ Tomb?” (Biblical Archaeology Review 25:5, Sep/Oct 1999, pp. 23-29, 76), discusses the archaeological evidence of Jewish tomb burial practices in antiquity. He observes that “more than 98 percent of the Jewish tombs from this period, called the Second Temple period (c. first century B.C.E. to 70 C.E.), were closed with square blocking stones” (p. 23), and only four round stones are known prior to the Jewish War, all of them blocking entrances to elaborate tomb complexes of the extremely rich (such as the tomb complex of Herod the Great and his ancestors and descendants). However, “the Second Temple period…ended with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. In later periods the situation changed, and round blocking stones became much more common” (p. 25).

6. DENARII

Donald Ariel in “A Survey of Coin Finds in Jerusalem,” through a systematic analysis of surface excavations and coin finds, concludes that significant numbers of denarii are found in Jerusalem only after 69 CE, particularly from the reign of Vespasian onward. This was because, after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 CE, the currency and government in Judea changed dramatically. However, prior to this time (and during the time of Jesus) the primary silver currency in Judea (used for any taxation in coin) was the Tyrian shekel. For example, a coin hoard discovered at Isfiya, which contained coins dating from 40 BCE-53 CE, contained 4,400 Tyrian coins compared to only 160 denarii, of which about 30 were of Tiberius (Udoh, To Caesar What Is Caesar’s, pg. 235). To be sure, a few denarii made their way to Judea through circulation, but this proportion shows that Tyrian shekels were the dominant currency.

In light of this evidence, Udoh (To Caesar What Is Caesar’s, pg. 236) concludes, “the imperial denarii were not required for Roman taxation, and they did not form the basis of the silver currency of the region. The connection that is made in the Gospels, especially in Matt 22:19, between Roman taxation in Judea and the denarius does not offer any specific historical information about taxation in Jewish Palestine during Jesus’ lifetime.” Personally, I think that the passage is likely anachronistic and reflects tax collection practices after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 CE.

7. TAXATION ISSUE

Mark12:13-17 “Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”,”Caesar’s,” they replied. Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him.

A.”CEASAR” changed from a personal name to an imperial title in the year of the four emperors, 68-69CE. The Julio-Claudine line came to a close and Galba was the first to adopt ceasar as an imperial title.

B. As stated above Denarii were rare until after the time of Nero.

C. Prewar taxation was extracted in kind and not by coin.

D. Fiscus Iudicus was an unpopular tax probably being referred to here introduced by Vespasian after the war.

8. The church

“You are Peter and on this ground I will build my church and the gates of hades will not overcome it.” Matt16:18.(cfMark8:29).

Could not have been said by Jesus because the ecclesiastical conceptions were too advanced for his time.

9. Against the Jews

The gospels portray Jesus as in conflict with “the Jews,” “the scribes,” and “the Pharisees,” implying Jesus was opposed to a monolithic “normative” Judaism-which did not yet exist! The Mishnah, a codification of scribal commentary on the Torah compiled by the end of the second century C.E., shows that the process of consolidating various earlier schools of thought and local, even idiosyncratic traditions of observance (e.g., in a certain village, of a certain scribe and his disciples) was a later endeavor beginning at Yavneh, the northern Palestinian town where, with Roman permission, Rabbi Johannon ben-Zakkai organized a new, postwar Sanhedrin empowered to adjudicate purely religious issues. When, as recently, some Christian scholars’ have been willing to notice these anachronisms, it is difficult enough for them to draw the unwelcome inference that the gospel traditions in question must be removed from consideration as evidence for the historical Jesus.

10. Eliezer ben Hyrkanus.

Jesus expresses the opinion that a vow to dedicate one’s property to the temple at the expense of one’s family forces a breach of the commandment to honor one’s parents, and hence, presumably, ought to be considered null and void (Mark 7:11-13). The same opinion was remembered as an innovation, and a controversial one, credited to Eliezer ben Hyrkanus, a later figure whose career spanned the destruction of the Temple. It is thus not an issue that had been hotly debated before Eliezer’s time, e.g., by Jesus and the scribes. The Mishnah has no trouble having Eliezer adopt a view first propounded by Jesus when it wants to. Had Eliezer adopted the view from Jesus’ halakhah, this would have provided all the more reason for the sages to disdain it, but of this we hear nothing.

11. WOMEN INITIATING DIVORCE

Also, when the Jesus states “And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” in Mark 10:12, in response to the Pharisees’ question about divorce, this is an anachronism, as women did not have the right to initiate a divorce in Judaism at that time.

12. TWO HIGH PRIESTS

One such example concerns high priests Annas and Caiaphas. According to the Gospels, the two high priests hold their positions in tandem.

Judging by A.J 18.34-35, Annas ruled from 6 C.E. and was deposed in 15 C.E. Josephus subsequently mentions three high priests (Ishmael ben Fabus, Eleazar ben Annas, and Simon ben Camithus) before Caiaphas assumes the position, in 18 C.E. And Annas is never mentioned again. Thus, judging from Josephus’ narrative, Caiaphas ruled alone.

Curiously, however, Josephus does name two other co-reigning high priests a couple of decades later: The joint high priesthood of Jonathan, son of Annas, and Ananias, son of Nebedaios commences between 48 and 52 C.E., and Josephus refers to them as “Jonathan and Ananias, the high priests” (B.J. 2.243). When he is killed by the Sicarii, under Felix, Jonathan is still, according to A.J. 20.162 and B.J. 2.256, “the high priest”, and Ananias remains in office.

13. Disciples of Pharisees

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”Mark2:18(CfLuke5:33)

Since the Pharisees were not priests per se but pious unlearned laymen, it would be unusual to have disciples in the clerical sense. The phrase did not come into use until after the destruction of the Temple.

14. Nazareth

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” asks a prospective disciple in the Gospel of John (1:46). Price has shown this is an anachronism: Nazareth fell into disrepute with Jews only decades after the alleged time of Jesus –and precisely because it became associated with him. Before the Gospels, no one disparages Nazareth –because no one seems to have heard of it before the Gospels.

15. Great Commission

the Great Commission to preach the gospel among the nations (Matt. 28:19, Luke 24:47, [Mark 16:15]). If Jesus had really said this, how can we imagine the controversy over Peter preaching to the Gentile Cornelius (Acts 10-11) ever having arisen? How can Peter have been initially reluctant? How can his colleagues in Jerusalem have called him on the carpet, questioning his orthodoxy? If the parting words of the Risen Christ were a command to preach to Gentiles, whence the dispute?

Jesus is made to address some issue or situation that probably could not have arisen in his own day but more likely emerged only in the early Christian community after him.

16. Baptism

“They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”(John3:26).

John the evangelist retrojects the baptismal competition into the days of Jesus and John themselves. The improbable result is that Jesus himself is overseeing the baptism of new disciples and in great numbers. John3:22-30.

The self-effacing Baptist assures his anxious disciples that he is not worried; he only ever intended to prepare the stage for Jesus, and now he is happy to retire to the wings. The Baptist reader knows what he has to do next: drop his outmoded loyalty to John and get with the Jesus movement.

As you can see it is the church in the evangelist’s day that is being depicted.

17. Excommunicated

Evangelist John has a newly sighted man excommunicated from the synagogue on account of his faith in Jesus (John9:34), something his parents fear as well (John9:22) in light of the general excommunication that had been decreed. But such witch-hunts all transpired decades later, as John knows the reader knows (16:1-4). The Pharisees in John 9 even view Jesus as the founder of a rival religion (John9:28, cf. 1:17), a development much too late for the lifetime of Jesus.

18. Zachariah Baruck

The Gospel of Matthew records his name as “Zechariah son of Berechiah”. He is one whose murder Jesus alluded to in Matthew 23:35 and Luke 11:50-51 ( and therefore ‘Q’ which makes ‘Q’ a late gospel too!) The venerable theologian Adam Clarke suggests that this allusion by Jesus was actually to Zacharias Baruch, who was indeed slaughtered ‘in the middle of the Temple’ in the late AD 60s. Clarke says of this: “Some think that Jesus refers … to the murder of Zacharias son of Baruch … They gave him a mock trial, and when no evidence could be brought against him … two of the stoutest of the zealots fell upon him and slew him in the middle of the temple.” Clarke has taken this possible allusion from Josephus Flavius’ Jewish War 4:343.

19. Little Apcalypse

In the introduction to the Little Apocalypse, where Jesus is made to predict the utter destruction of the Temple (Mark13:1–2) and in the Apocalypse itself, when the Pauline Mission is anticipated (Mark13:9–10), but even more importantly, in the depiction of the rending of the Temple veil at his death (Mark 15:38 and pars). This veil was more than likely damaged in the final Roman assault on the Temple or in the various altercations and the turmoil preceding this. Josephus specifically refers to it, along with its replacement materials, as having been delivered to the Romans after the assault on the Temple.

20. TEMPLE VEIL RIPPED

Titus bragged as he confessed that he “took a sword and slashed the curtain” – (b. Git. 56b; Wars5.5.5) Circa 70CE, Roman witnesses saw and heard Titus bragging about it while he had the veil in a procession that was marched throughout the streets of Rome. An imperial arch was built (the Arch of Titus) with detailed reliefs. These reliefs clearly illustrated General Titus sacking the Jerusalem temple.

The Gospel of Mark made the allegation that it was done by God (Mark 15:38). Luke 23:45; Matthew 27:51 repeated and enhanced the allegation. Mark claimed the veil in the temple was ripped wide open when Jesus died.

After Jesus died, all of the Temple activities and services carried on as normal in every way.

All veils were completely intact before Jesus died and stayed that way until forty years afterward.

Despite the mythical claims in Mark’s gospel, the veil was still in place and still intact in 70CE. When Matthew rewrote Mark’s story (c. 90CE), he included three hours of darkness, earthquakes, tombs splitting open and the claim that “many holy people who had died were raised to life” (Matthew 27:45-53). If this was historically true, how is it that no one noticed it at that time?

21. Words of Jesus using Pauls epistles

Notice that Mark 4:11 says “the mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you.” At first reading this does not make sense. Matthew and Luke edited this statement by Jesus to “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven/God” (Matt 13:11, Luke 8:10). The evangelists are all referring to 1 Cor 15:50-51 where Paul mentions “mystery” and “kingdom of God.” Marks Jesus, adopted as his son by God at his baptism (Gal 4:5-7, Rom 8:13-16), taught Pauline Christianity. Paul’s Christology was gleaned from the epistles(Gal 1:12, 3:1, Rom 1:2, 15:4, 16:25–26).

Mark 12:10-36 is organized: quote from Ps 118 which is also quoted at Rom 8:31, teaching parallel to Rom 13:1-7, Teaching parallel to 1 Cor 15:12-14, Teaching parallel to 1 Cor 15:35-51, teaching parallel to Rom 13:8-10, quote from Ps 110 which is also quoted at 1 Cor 15:25. Mark organized that section Ps, Rom, 1 Cor, 1 Cor, Rom, Ps. This is a chiastic structure that the reader could only discern if he knew Romans and 1 Corinthians. Every pericope in Mark has a chiastic structure and the entire gospel is organized chiastically. The organization of Mark 12:10-36 cannot be a coincidence, the author must have been familiar with Paul’s epistles.

All synoptic evangelists used the Pauline epistles in their gospels.

22. Idea of atonement

A human sacrifice is not necessary if the Temple is still standing. Jesus does not have to equate himself with the Temple.

“The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. ”

— John 2:18–22( Cf Matt26:60-62)

23. Nicodemus ben Gurion

The figure of Nicodemus (name means conquerer of the People) appears three times in the Fourth Gospel, in conversation with Jesus by night (3:1-21), in a meeting of the high priests and Pharisees where he warns against condemning Jesus without giving him the hearing required by the Law (7:50-52), and at the burial of Jesus, where, working with Joseph of Arimathea, he provides a rich abundance of spices (19:38-42).

Scholars have suspected that the figure reflects a known individual, evoking someone known to John’s readers as having possessed immense wealth. That someone would be Talmudical Nicodemus ben Gurion. b.Ta‘an 19b-20a; b.Avod.Zar 25a. This would be anachronistic as Josephus(War2:451) mentions a Gurion son of Nicodemus who is part of a trio who accepts the surrender of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem in 66.

24. certain parables

PARABLES

Mark 12:1-9. “The Parable of the Vineyard” aka the parable of the wicked husbandmen

The owner [god] of a vineyard [Israel] sends servants [the prophets] to the tenants [Jews] of the vineyard to collect rent. The Jews kill the prophets (cf 1 Thess. 2:14-16) so god sends his son [JC] and the Jews kill him also. God destroys the tenants [Roman Jewish War] and gives the vineyard to others [non Jews and Christians].

This means that this is a post-70 CE parable. And continues the false theme of Jews killing their prophets while also promoting the theme that non-Jews can now inherit god’s kingdom (cf Eph 3:6).

Mark 2:22 The Parable of the Old Wineskins

“And no one pours new wine [the gospel] into old wineskins [the law]. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”

A subtle commentary on strict differentiation and incompatibility between Jews and Christians, which doesn’t happen until the late first century.

25. The Passover Lamb

The Passover lamb was NOT a sin offering. It has nothing to do with atonement of sin or any such thing. That would be Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) in the Fall. This is a later Christian concept.

Second item, the reason for what seems to be timing issues is due to the author of Mark telling a story that occurred before 70 well after 70, and uses the nomenclature of post-70 Judaism to try to tell what happened in pre-70 Judaism. Its like the grandfather of all anachronisms! So you have items and concepts being conflated (for example you don’t prepare for Passover on the first day of Unleavened Bread!) And Matthew and Luke copy these issues. But then later down the pipe John tries to correct these issues.

26.

Since the fall of the city a few months earlier \[in 70 C.E.\], Jerusalem had been occupied by the Roman Tenth Legion \[X Fretensis\], whose emblem was a pig. Mark’s reference to about two thousand pigs, the size of the occupying Legion, combined with his blatant designation of the evil beings as Legion, left no doubt in Jewish minds that the pigs in the fable represented the army of occupation. Mark’s fable in effect promised that the messiah, when he returned, would drive the Romans into the sea as he had earlier driven their four-legged surrogates.”~William Harwood, Mythology’s Last Gods.

———————————————————-

All of these anachronism indicate that the author did not remember or know about life prior to 70 CE. If Mark was written c. 70, then the author would have remembered details about society prior to 70 and these anachronisms wouldn’t be there. Just like if I had written something c. 2001 In the aftermath of the World Trade Centre, I would have remembered details about society prior to 2001. However, an author that was born close to 70 CE would include these sort of anachronisms when he matured, closer to the 2nd century.

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