September 17, 2014

On April 6, 1252, two Dominican friars hurried along a deserted road. They were in hostile territory, populated by religious extremists who wanted them dead because of their success in convincing those under the sway of the extremists' heresy to return to Catholic orthodoxy. Despite their precautions, the two were ambushed by hired assassins. One of the two, named Peter, died on the spot, but not before managing to write the opening line of the Apostles' Creed in his own blood; his companion, named Dominic, died of his injuries a few days after the attack.

Less than a year later,...

September 15, 2014

There are 235 verses in Matthew that are paralleled in Luke but not in Mark or John.

This number represents more than a fifth of Matthew and Luke, and so some scholars have proposed that there was a written source—called Q—that both Evangelists drew upon, though it is now lost.

There are, of course, other possibilities. One is that Matthew simply used Luke; another is that Luke used Matthew.

It is possible that they both used a lost written source for this material, but there are reasons to question this.

A while back, I blogged about one such reason.

Now I’d like to use a visual means of making the same point.


The Basic Argument


September 12, 2014

St. Luke begins the second chapter of his Gospel with a chronological note about when Jesus was born: writing:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.

This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria [Luke 2:1-2].

This passage has been subject to a lot of criticism, because Luke has already linked the birth of Jesus to reign of Herod the Great (Luke 1:5), and Quirinius did not become governor of Syria until years afterwards.


What Happened When?

Precisely when Herod’s reign ended is a matter of dispute. Historically, the most common view—which is...

September 11, 2014

As Christian Europe tore at her own throat during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) the Ottoman Turks missed a golden opportunity to strike their centuries-old enemy.  Why?  They were themselves absorbed with war in Persia.  Moreover, they were beset by a turbulent period of harem intrigue and governed—or not—by a string of ineffectual and self-indulgent sultans, one of whom was deposed and two of whom were murdered.  The last of these was Ibrahim I. He was deposed and murdered.

Known as “the Debauched,” Ibrahim was famous for his vigorous and unusual harem enthusiams, although at one point he had the whole lot of them drowned in the Bosporus—280 ladies in all—when he discovered that he was not the only man enjoying their affections.  A liaison one night, however, with a...

September 4, 2014

Last week there appeared on—Catholic Answers’ chastity outreach—a short post about the Church’s opposition to in-vitro fertilization and similar assisted-reproductive technologies (henceforth lumped together as IVF). The unusually large percentage of dissenting comments that followed on social media underscored how confusing this teaching is for many Catholics, even those Catholics with a reflexive disposition to assent to...

September 2, 2014

An article titled 5 Reasons to Suspect that Jesus Never Existed was posted yesterday at and was featured in the Yahoo news feed. The article itself does not contain anything groundbreaking to anyone who follows this debate, but it presents the most common objections.

Below are five reasons author Valerie Tarico gives, and how to answer them.

1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef.

Tarico uses only an extensive quote from skeptical Biblical scholar Bart...

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