Thank you, Patmos.
Where was Jacob buried and where did Abraham buy the tomb?
First, even if the author of Acts is simply quoting Stephen's words, it fails to address the point that he was supposedly "filled with the holy spirit." If he was filled with the holy spirit, then he should not be getting history so wrong. Second, my opponent claims that Stephen is talking to Helenized Jews. He is actually speaking to the Sanhedrin, a group of Pharisees that are well versed in Torah. The story begins in Acts 6:
8 Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit[c
] with which he spoke. 11 Then they secretly instigated some men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes
; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. 13 They set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law
; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth[d
] will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.” 15 And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
The elders, scribes, and the council are learned men, not Hellenize Jews. Let's look at the end of the story.
54 When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen
] 55 But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.[k
So there are a few interesting points to take. The first point is that the Sanhedrin has accused Stephen of speaking against the Torah. When he finished his speech, the Sanhedrin became enraged and stoned him. It is easy to see why they would be enraged. Stephen shows woeful ignorance of their history and shows that he was speaking against the Torah.
Who was Jesus' grandfather?
My opponent's attempt to reconcile this falls flat. In Jewish law, a person is determined to be Jewish by the status of their mother. If your mother is Jewish, then you are Jewish regardless of who your father is. However, the tribal status of the person is passed down from father to son. Let's suppose a Levi marries a person from Judah. The child of that person would be considered from the Tribe of Levi and would have no claim to the throne. Similarly, if a person from Judah marries a Levite, then the child would be from Judah and would not be allowed to be a priest.
The idea that they are tracing two different things is not supported in the text. Both texts are clearly showing his genealogy passed down from father to son. Indeed, Luke 3:23 states, "Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work. He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli" And Matthew starts with "An account of the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah,[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham." There is no indication in either text that they are tracing anything but the legal, i.e. halachic, lineage of Jesus.
Moreover, if Luke is providing the biological line of Jesus, then this is highly problematic and disqualifies Jesus to be the Messiah. In order to be King, the person must be a descendant of both David and Solomon. In Luke (3:23), Jesus descends from David's son Nathan, which means he cannot be the messiah. See the following verses:
2 Samuel 7:14-15
14 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. 15 But I will not take[a] my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.
1 Chronicles 28:5-7
5 And of all my sons, for the Lord has given me many, he has chosen my son Solomon to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. 6 He said to me, ‘It is your son Solomon who shall build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be a son to me, and I will be a father to him. 7 I will establish his kingdom forever
Thus if a king dies without a son, the person who comes after him must come from both David and Solomon. Thus if Jesus is biologically a descendant of Nathan, he cannot be the Messiah.
When was Jesus Crucified?
My opponent's attempt to reconcile these two differences fall flat. Let's look at the text again.
21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene
, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 Then they brought Jesus[d
] to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.
25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.
26 The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left.[e
] 29 Those who passed by derided[f
] him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Messiah,[g
] the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
The Death of Jesus
33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land[h] until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[i
] 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36 And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he[j
] breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”[k
13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat[b] on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew[c] Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” 16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus; 17 and carrying the cross by himself
, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew[d
] is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth,[e
] the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew,[f
] in Latin, and in Greek. 21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,
I have in bold the obvious problems. First, who actually carried the cross? In Mark, Simon did, but in John, it explicitly states that Jesus carried the cross by himself. Another obvious problem with my opponent's reconciliation attempt is that it's clear in Mark that Jesus was already on the cross at 9 AM. Sow how could John, and my opponent, be right by saying it was about noon when he was given over to Pilate. In John's Gospel, he isn't even on the cross until another 3 hours.
But it gets worse. Mark and John have Jesus crucified on two different days. Let's look at Mark 14
It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread
. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus[a
] by stealth and kill him; 2 for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”
12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
13 So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16 So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal
17 When it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread[e
] into the bowl[f
] with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”
And now let's look at the ending of John.
28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover
. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover
; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
My opponent's attempt to reconcile the times fails for the following reasons: First, the two Gospels have Jesus crucified on two different days. Second, Mark has Jesus on the cross before John's Gospel. In John's Gospel, Jesus isn't even on the cross until noon. Finally, there is another contradiction between the two accounts. Since I quoted the full passages, I figured I'd bring it up. Did Jesus carry the cross by himself as John states or did Simon of Cyrene carry it? Both can't be right. My opponent can't argue that Jesus started to carry the cross and then Simon picked it up later on because John clearly states he carried it by himself and there is no indication that someone else picked it up later.
Was it still dark when the women went to the tomb?
1. What is meant by "dark"? It is obvious that it means it is dark and the sun hasn't risen. It is either still dark or the sun has risen.
2. There is no indication that the women traveled separate times.
3. This also is not supported in the text. Again, let's look.
And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb
So John is clear that Mary came to the tomb (i.e. arrived) while it was still dark. There's no indication in the passage that it was dawn when they got there. Second, Mark is clear that they went to the tomb after the sun rose.
If these are the best responses that Patmos can come up with, then the Bible is in serious trouble. My opponent's attempt to reconcile these can only be described as apologetic acrobatics by ignoring what the passage actually states and trying to force things into the text that it doesn't say.
Over to you.