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July 1st, 2010
01:49 PM ET

Gospels don't say Jesus was crucified, scholar claims

Update July 2 8:04 a.m. After this article posted Gunnar Samuelsson got in touch to stress that his research focuses specifically on the narratives of Jesus's execution in the four Gospels, not on the entire New Testament, so "Gospels" has been substituted for "Bible" in the headline.

There have been plenty of attacks on Christianity over the years, but few claims have been more surprising than one advanced by an obscure Swedish scholar this spring.

The Gospels do not say Jesus was crucified, Gunnar Samuelsson says.

In fact, he argues, in the original Greek, the ancient texts reveal only that Jesus carried "some kind of torture or execution device" to a hill where "he was suspended" and died, says Samuelsson, who is an evangelical pastor as well as a New Testament scholar.

"When we say crucifixion, we think about Mel Gibson's 'Passion.' We think about a church, nails, the crown of thorns," he says, referring to Gibson's 2004 film, "The Passion of the Christ."

"We are loaded with pictures of this well-defined punishment called crucifixion - and that is the problem," he says.

Samuelsson bases his claim on studying 900 years' worth of ancient texts in the original languages - Hebrew, Latin and Greek, which is the language of the New Testament.

He spent three years reading for 12 hours a day, he says, and he noticed that the critical word normally translated as "crucify" doesn't necessarily mean that.

"He was handed over to be 'stauroun,'" Samuelsson says of Jesus, lapsing into Biblical Greek to make his point.

At the time the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were writing their Gospels, that word simply meant "suspended," the theologian argues.

"This word is used in a much wider sense than 'crucifixion,'" he says. "It refers to hanging, to suspending vines in a vineyard," or to any type of suspension.

"He was required to carry his 'stauros' to Calvary, and they 'stauroun' him. That is all. He carried some kind of torture or execution device to Calvary and he was suspended and he died," Samuelsson says.

Not everyone is convinced by his research. Garry Wills, the author of "What Jesus Meant," "What Paul Meant," and "What the Gospels Meant," dismisses it as "silliness."

"The verb is stauresthai from stauros, cross," Wills said.

Samuelsson wants to be very clear about what he is saying and what he is not saying.

Most importantly, he says, he is not claiming Jesus was not crucified - only that the Gospels do not say he was.

"I am a pastor, a conservative evangelical pastor, a Christian," he is at pains to point out. "I do believe that Jesus died the way we thought he died. He died on the cross."

But, he insists, it is tradition that tells Christians that, not the first four books of the New Testament.

"I tried to read the text as it is, to read the word of God as it stands in our texts," he says - what he calls "reading on the lines, not reading between the lines."

Samuelsson says he didn't set out to undermine one of the most basic tenets of Christianity.

He was working on a dissertation at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden when he noticed a problem with a major book about the history of crucifixion before Jesus.

What was normally thought to be the first description of a crucifixion - by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus - wasn't a crucifixion at all, but the suspension of a corpse, Samuelsson found by reading the original Greek.

The next example in the book about crucifixion wasn't a crucifixion either, but the impaling of a hand.

Samuelsson's doctoral advisor thought his student might be on to something.

"He recommended I scan all the texts, from Homer up to the first century - 900 years of crucifixion texts," Samuelsson recalled, calling it "a huge amount of work."

But, he says, "I love ancient texts. They just consume me." So he started reading.

He found very little evidence of crucifixion as a method of execution, though he did find corpses being suspended, people being hanged from trees, and more gruesome methods of execution such as impaling people by the belly or rectum.

The same Greek word was used to refer to all the different practices, he found.

That's what led him to doubt that the Gospels specify that Jesus was crucified.

At the time they were written, "there is no word in Greek, Latin, Aramaic or Hebrew that means crucifixion in the sense that we think of it," he says.

It's only after the death of Jesus - and because of the death of Jesus - that the Greek word "stauroun" comes specifically to mean executing a person on the cross, he argues.

He admits, of course, that the most likely reason early Christians though Jesus was crucified is that, in fact, he was.

But he says his research still has significant implications for historians, linguists and the Christian faithful.

For starters, "if my observations are correct, every book on the history of Jesus will need to be rewritten," as will the standard dictionaries of Biblical Greek, he says.

More profoundly, his research "ought to make Christians a bit more humble," he says.

"We fight against each other," he reflects, but "the theological stances that keep churches apart are founded on things that we find between the lines.

"We have put a lot of things in the Bible that weren't there in the beginning that keep us apart. We need to get down on our knees as Christians together and read the Bible."

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Jesus

soundoff (1,530 Responses)
  1. Jack

    I have to agree with Stephen. The repeated analysis of Christian beliefs from outside of the Churches appears to have an anti-Christian agenda. Apparently, "awakening" people from other faiths (notably pagan and even some Jews) are starting to criticize the established work of Jesus including his Death and Ressurection, and are applying that to anti-faith values in order to excuse themselves from accepting Jesus's truth as real truth. I caution against military objectives because that method was used by anti-Muslims in order to invade and subsequently murder Iraqi and Afghan civilians during both International and U.S. led wars against "terrorists". On the other hand, nobody is criticizing Mosaic law. Or Odin, Or Chu Chulain.

    July 2, 2010 at 11:31 am |
    • TJ

      Could that be because the main article is about Christ and the debate as to whether he was crucified on a cross?

      July 2, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  2. Chris

    Wow, people... all this arguing over fairy stories. NONE of this happened. All the Bible's stories were written to teach and control people and have little or no basis in fact. Please, please read a science book, open up your rational minds, and move on. If you are specifically interested in seeing how the Bible came together – as a committee of MEN decided centuries later, read 'The Closing of the Western Mind". If you then still believe that every word of the Bible is true, than there is no hope.

    July 2, 2010 at 11:31 am |
    • W0lfman

      You atheists are so afraid, that's why you fight us. You are afraid, otherwise you wouldn't even bother. You will blame all of the world's problems on us to cover that fear. So tell me, how are you going to blame us for the Gulf oil spill? I'm sure you can get creative with that.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  3. W0lfman

    Brother, I looked up Horus in Wikipedia and your story doesn't even close to what is written there.

    July 2, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  4. Toby

    Eric

    "There is nothing wrong with clearly stating your agenda. Hidden agendas always seem suspect. Eye-witness testimony is generally recorded for some reason."

    Eric, even people in our modern society are quite superstitious; many buildings do not mark the 13th floor, horoscopes are printed in many national papers, and many people do not venture out during a full moon phase. Now, contrast this with the superstitious culture that existed in 1st century Palestine. At that time, nothing was known about the causes of natural disasters, floods, famines. People thought schizophrenia and epilepsy were caused by demonic possession. It was widely believed that hyenas changed their sex each year. In such a culture, these authors knew full well that people would readily accept accounts of supernatural events and "miracles" before they would consider rational and natural explanations of events. This is precisely why the authors of the gospels frequently used such phrases as "so that you might believe." If the events were actually TRUE, they would stand on their own account. There would be no need to add the superfluous and suspicious phraseology of "..so that you might believe."

    July 2, 2010 at 11:29 am |
    • Eric

      John's statement that "This is written so that you might believe..." is simply him saying what his motive was. That's it. If you took the statement out we could imply his purpose but he wanted us to know his purpose for writing. There is nothing wrong with that.

      Toby, the reason that I write this to you, is so that you can know that I believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with John telling us the motives behind why he wrote about what he personally witnessed. (I will leave unstated the reason that I have written this.)

      July 2, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  5. Eric

    Can you tell me the Title of the book/source you are referring to? Then I can read further about Horus?

    July 2, 2010 at 11:28 am |
    • W0lfman

      Those references are the same as those in the Wikipedia article.

      July 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
      • ReadHistory

        Instead of reading just a Wikipedia posting I would suggest you read the actual books. I looked at the Wiki article, it's a summary that makes no attempt to discuss the more controversal points.

        Read the following: Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection [Paperback]
        D. M. Murdock – this is a solid place to start.

        By the way, I'm not trying to rebuke your beliefs. All I was suggesting is that people should be better versed witht the topics the argue for/against. Just because the Horus story and countless others existed prior to Chirst, doesn't disprove Christ's story. The pagan stories predate most. Just soemthing to be aware of.

        July 2, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
        • W0lfman

          If the world could be saved by reading, then it would have happened long ago, because there is nothing new under the sun in books.
          There are no new ideas, everything has already been tried.
          And thanks to people setting their minds against Christ, we will be doomed to repeating our mistakes in an endless cycle.

          July 2, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
        • ManicZorbian

          The only reason you say there's nothing new under the sun in books is because you choose not to actually open any and read them, and think freely using the mind you (presumably) believe "God" gave you. You really think you should exercise your mind and find out what is true and what isn't? Isn't NOT using your mind disrespectful to the God you say you serve???

          July 2, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
        • SDFrankie

          Well, no. Not an endless cycle. I mean, one of these days that vast cauldron of seething magma that lies beneath Yellowstone is going to blow, taking all mankind and most other species with it. And that's only if a killer asteroid doesn't get us first. So, relax. This isn't going to go on forever.

          July 2, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
        • Eric

          I'll see if my local library has it. Thanks

          July 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
        • geraldh

          The Horus story is actually thousands of stories that have been condensed by atheists in to one story. There were no books at the time floating around "this is the absolute facts about Horus". Primarily there were word of mouth myths captured here and there in writing. The atheists have picked and chosen aspects of the thousands of stories to make a "coherent" claim about the beliefs about Horus. Fact is that this condensed version is a modern day one. ReadHistory, you should follow your advice.

          July 2, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
        • GregB

          Are you aware that everything you just stated can be applied verbatim to the gospel of Jesus?

          Both are the compilation of many stories put together. No books or historical records pertaining to the divine nature of Jesus. The gospels and bulk of the bible is nothing more than stories passed down from generations, translated and then interpreted by the self-righteous as factual information.

          Are we then to believe that Horus was an actual human sent by god to live among the people and to preach his lesson? No. We accept this story as nothing more than cultural myth.
          What makes this story any different than biblical scriptures pertaining to the life of the christian deity, Jesus?

          July 2, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
        • geraldh

          Gregb,

          You are quite wrong about the Gospels being translated and retranslated and passed down by word of mouth and therefore corrupted. You see we have many writings of the early church all the way back to the late first century. These writings quote much of the new testament and the quotes are consistent with what is contained in the writings of scripture today. The likes of Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, Irenaus, etc. etc. in late first, early second century claim the divinity of Christ, and there are indications of it in the Catacombs. Clement knew the apostles. If you don't believe Jesus was a historical figure you are a fool. You simply don't know what you are talking about.

          July 2, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
        • GregB

          It's not that I don't accept the historical evidence of Jesus, it's that most modern historians do not. The figures that you've mentioned, along with Josephus, do not state any kind of divine powers of a Jesus of Nazareth. They mention an influential figure around that time period and have, at best, a paragraph pertaining to his life. Even the works of Josephus, which make romanticized claims to the divinity of Jesus have been accepted by modern historians [and the RCC] and having been tampered with.

          In addition, you claim that the gospels and passages from the Bibles were not translated and passed down and are eye witness claims? Please explain to me who wrote the majority of the Old Testament and Genesis? This was a time when written language was reserved for only the most wealthy and educated.

          What you have to remember is that modern history as we know it today is a fairly new concept in terms of human existence. The concept of recording dates, eye witness accounts and actual facts regarding events was not developed till many centuries later.
          Please also remember that there are as almost as many writings and claimed "historical accounts" of figures found in the Nordic Prose/Poetic Edda and other writings pertaining to the life of Greek and Roman mythological figures.
          Do we accept these writings as factual? No. What is the hang up with the deity Jesus then?

          It's not your fault. We have to remember that we are still essentially under evolved primates scared of the dark and unknown. Seeking to explain what we do not comprehend by fantastical stories is nothing more than human nature.

          July 2, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
        • TJ

          How do you know they didn't fabricate the stories? People really need something to believe in...

          July 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
        • geraldh

          do a google for the followning. It debunks pretty well the Horus nonsense used by atheists to strip people of faith in Jesus Christ.

          Jesus & Horus Parallels – A Christian Response

          July 2, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
        • Just2Reason

          Rational thought can replace a belief in a religion – if one can recognize human nature, and see what religions have in common, and what they don't. Typically, a person raised Christian will take that argument to his grave, as will a Muslim, etc. The paths to salvation are contradictory, as Christians believe Muslims who have not accepted Christ will go to hell. What religions have in common includes: there is something metaphysical going on, there is an associated belief system, there are mutually exclusive paths to heaven, nirvana, etc., and there isn't any more evidence supporting one religion than another one. When one recognizes human nature, and the nature of religions, one can disregard all religions.

          July 2, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
    • Just2Reason

      My comment was in regards to Geraldh – "used by atheists to strip people of faith"

      July 2, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
    • W0lfman

      ManicZorbian: But I HAVE used my mind, my whole life, for the best purpose ever: all I ever wanted to know, ever since I was a child, was to know the truth. The truth of it all.
      I went down many roads, and I found it after many years: Jesus Christ is the Savior.
      It surprised me.
      But it was a good run.
      And since I myself did not believe during all those years, I find that I can't come down too hard on those that don't believe now. I was there myself for a long time.

      July 2, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  6. Mark J.

    I believe that the Bible is true, and is the trustworthy Word of God to mankind. I believe that Jesus was foretold for centuries, was born, lived a perfect life, gave His life to pay the debt of mankind's sin, was dead and buried, and resurrected, exactly as described in the Bible. I have trusted God with my life, and trust God with my eternity as well. Reading the words and deeds of Jesus in the Bible, in faith and believing it to be true, shows me the way to live and the way to treat other people. Each one of us has the choice of whether to believe or not. I choose to believe !

    July 2, 2010 at 11:28 am |
    • Toby

      Both you and I are free to believe anything. We are not, however, free to "choose to believe" something. We can only believe something for which evidence (hopefully good evidence) exists. I may wish to believe that I can fly, but I had better have some damn good reasons for believing this before I jump out of an airplane without a chute. If a person "chooses" to believe something, it may well be that he/she only BELIEVES that he believes it. It may be what author Daniel Dennett calls "belief in belief", or the idea that someone simply professes to believe a proposition.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:39 am |
    • W0lfman

      Toby, I'm afraid even if you had evidence you wouldn't believe it. I don't think you want to. Me, I've had personal contact with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and angels. How can one prove the supernatural to someone else? You can't, and YOU can't disprove it either. How can you prove you love someone, for all that matter?

      July 2, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  7. peace2all

    Are we still......debating something that the christians cannot prove..... yes, I know....taken on faith etc...etc....
    How about we discuss how to make the world a better place NOW....How we can relieve suffering NOW....and make our own lives better while we are still on Earth.
    If.....there is an afterlife of some kind, and the christians are right....while as heisgod said earlier....crying and gnashing of teeth.

    Sounds like an eternal TMJ problem where there will be no dentist.....

    July 2, 2010 at 11:24 am |
    • W0lfman

      The issue isn't whether anti-Christians will go to hell or not, but that God IS the way to make life better now. But you don't want it... I guess it is easier to blame everything on the Christians. But Christians didn't make life bad the way it is now. Many things have contributed to that.
      I personally believe that there will be a moment after death where you can change your mind, realize you were wrong, and be saved.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:39 am |
    • Eric

      Peace2all – You are right! Now is the time to act! So I teach children with Autism. Help raise money to cure all the forms of MD. Go to Haiti to help them rebuild/start businesses. I counsel men to be good husbands/fathers. Try to keep teens busy doing good and avoiding drugs, etc.... I have a garden in the back yard. I watch over my neighbors house when he is away and I brush and floss twice a day. I do what a can but it is really not much. Why? Because Jesus hung on a cross (in some way or another).

      P.S. I just saw a documentary on Sudan and I am heart broken by my inability to assist the people who are suffering there.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:40 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Ok, peace2all,
      Let's discuss " how to make the world a better place NOW....How we can relieve suffering NOW....and make our own lives better while we are still on Earth."
      1. stop killing the unborn as in abortion.
      2. have compassion for the child that lived through an abortion and is laying on the table fighting for life.
      3. learn how to spend money on health care, not murder.
      Anyone can add to my list out of love for life.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:50 am |
    • TJ

      Catholicmom,

      I propose that you adopt all of the unwanted children, including the brown ones. Also, to make peace, have priests stop molesting little boys.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:58 am |
    • W0lfman

      TJ, why can't you do something about it?

      July 2, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
    • TJ

      W0lfman,

      I am not the one complaining about abortion. However, I am in the process of bringing a child into my home. As for the priests...lock them up! Along with anyone who supports or finds a defense for them..

      July 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
    • W0lfman

      But the abortion statistics I have read ARE shocking... 4000 babies a day keep Planned Parenthood going. It's a business. It gives me the creeps.

      July 2, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • gerald

      just2reasons,

      U claim most Christians think muslems all go to hell. Well most Christiians are Catholic and Catholicism does not teach that all who are not catholic go to hell. Shall I point you to paragraph 841 of our Chims. You are hardly qualified to speak for Christianity and what "most Christians" believe. ?That commonality you speak of is quite well recognized in scripture. Romans 2:14-16 recongizes "the laws written on men's hearts" by God. All men have a common morality. God is the judge in the end and will know if men have made some effort by his grce to follow those laws. Yet we cannot say all faiths are equaly true.

      July 3, 2010 at 3:42 am |
    • Just2Reason

      @Gerald: Yes, Catholics do believe that if you don't believe in Christ then you go to hell. Go see the excellent movie
      Goya's Ghosts (2006). It's about a woman who is accused of being a Jew by the Catholic inquisition, and is subjected to torture to get her to "confess" to being a Jew. I don't give that example to imply the Catholics only picked on Jews, but because most people realize they tortured a lot of people, but wouldn't believe they also tortured Jews. If you don't believe Jews were also a target of the Catholic inquisition then see the article "Say Anything" by Anthony Grafton, in the 11/05/2007 issue of The New Republic. (Online at tnr dot com /article/say-anything.) Or just Google for many examples.

      July 4, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  8. scdad

    There is no historical record of Jesus Christ's existance. The Bible is it. Even the Romans, who supposedly killed Jesus, had no records of ever encountering the guy, let alone killing him, or hearing the voice of God after the deed was done, or the Earth shaking at the time. The Bilbe is a work of political fiction, just like the Koran, and that book that Tom Cruise believes in. (Which actually was written by a sci-fi author). Sheesh. The things people will believe.

    July 2, 2010 at 11:23 am |
    • Reality

      scdad,

      (2) Passion Narrative

      (2a) GPet 4:10-5:16,18-20; 6:22
      /4.1/ And they brought two criminals and crucified the Lord between them. But he himself remained silent, as if in no pain. /2/ And when they set up the cross, they put an inscription on it, "This is the king of Israel." /3/ And they piled his clothing in front of him; then they divided it among themselves, and gambled for it. /4/ But one of those criminals reproached them and said, "We're suffering for the evil that we've done, but this fellow, who has become a savior of humanity, what wrong as he done to you?" /5/ And they got angry at him and ordered that his legs not be broken so he would die in agony.
      /5.1/ It was midday and darkness covered the whole of Judea. They were confused and anxious for fear the sun had set since he was still alive. it is written that, "The sun must not set upon one who has been executed." /2/ And one of them said, "Give him vinegar mixed with something bitter to drink." And they mixed it and gave it to him to drink. /3/ And they fulfilled all things and brought to completion the sins on their head. /4/ Now many went about with lamps, and, thinking that it was night, they laid down. /5/ And the Lord cried out, saying, "My power, power, you have abandoned me." When he said this, he was taken up. /6/ And at that moment, the veil of the Jerusalem temple was torn in two.
      /6.1/ And then they pulled the nails from the Lord's hands and set him on the ground. And the whole earth shook and there was great fear. /2/ Then the sun came out and it was found to be the ninth hour. [Complete Gospels]

      July 2, 2010 at 11:32 am |
    • W0lfman

      So you only believe in what, 9 of the 10 commandments?

      July 2, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  9. Toby

    ReadHistory-Thanks for posting this list. No doubt, the unwavering believer in the Gospel account of Jesus will give this a mere passing glance, or worse, assume it is an outright lie because it flies in the face of their entire worldview.

    July 2, 2010 at 11:21 am |
  10. Toby

    Mark J- When someone comes right out and says that he is telling you something "so that you might believe", what does that tell you? These authors had an agenda, and they were not very good at hiding that fact. The authors of the books comprising the Gospel account of Jesus may just as well have stated "we did not actually see these events, but we are telling you these fantastic stories in order to get you to believe that Jesus is the messiah as foretold in the Torah." The telling use of such phrases as "so that you might believe" by these authors speaks volumes about their credibility and truthfulness.

    July 2, 2010 at 11:05 am |
    • Eric

      There is nothing wrong with clearly stating your agenda. Hidden agendas always seem suspect. Eye-witness testimony is generally recorded for some reason.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:13 am |
  11. Eric

    Does anyone know where an entire copy of Gunnar Samuelsson thesis can be found? Read on-line?

    July 2, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  12. Richard Harbor

    According the IAA of all the remains recovered thus far in archaeological excavations in the "Holy Land" only one has ever shown forensic indicators of Crucifixion. This is a great academic endeavor but alas "proof" in and of itself is has clearly never been a requirement of any "religion" in fact "proof" actually goes against the very definition. Christianity's message of universal "Love" is in fact the miraculous allure for millions of followers / adherents.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  13. rainier08

    So....lets say for the sake of argument that Jesus was not crucified..and that other testimonials in the Bibnle aren't accurate either ? What difference would it all tangibly really make ?

    July 2, 2010 at 10:57 am |
    • GregB

      What we hope for?

      The Bible is accepted as no other than a book of myths no different than ancient Greek/Roman literature or the Nordic Poetic/Prose Edda. The entire foundation of Christianity is crippled and shatters, followed quickly by the other major faiths on the planet. The Vatican is sold to the highest bidder and donated to charities and to help feed/medicate third world countries. Everyone embraces each other in an unbiased view in which we're all decaying organic matter hurling on a giant rock through the cosmic with no singular purpose or reason and accept that this life, our only life, is all we have.
      Then, eventually, generations down the line our children are eventually born without the mind control and scare tactics of the religious institution and learn to appreciate that their life is mere chance and to live it to the fullest...

      Of course, that's all simply wishful thinking.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  14. GregB

    If you're going to quote passages from the Bible in order to validate your argument regarding your faith, you're better off not even bothering.

    I'm just sayin'.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:55 am |
    • Eric

      Would you mind sharing the source/s that your world-view is based on?

      July 2, 2010 at 10:59 am |
    • GregB

      Absolutely. I have come to terms and accepted the fact that there is no possible way we can explain or even fathom the concept behind our existence.
      Why? Because human existence is the cosmic equivalent to a spec of sand on the beach in the greater scheme of things.

      I take a humble and modest approach towards existence and reject the proposition and the wishful thinking that there is any purpose or reason behind what I perceive as "life." I sometimes wonder why I can accept this and others cannot? Maybe myself, like other atheists, are simply the next step in the evolution of our species that uses reason and logic rather than blind submission? Probably not. Odds are good we're just on average more intelligent and insightful.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:08 am |
    • Eric

      Thanks GregB. I am just curious, is there one specific source that was pivotal in helping you to arrive at your current conclusions?

      July 2, 2010 at 11:18 am |
    • GregB

      Not really. I truly believe it's my nature.

      I believe that some people are just more prone to look for answers or to look for an authority to guide them and comfort them. On the opposite end of the spectrum you have others, like myself, who do not. Maybe it's genetic coding or the way we were raised? Who knows. What I do know is that if there was an omniscient god watching over me that knows all and sees all, he would understand my position. I feel that when the time comes for me to shuffle off this mortal coil and if there does happen to be a judgment, that I will be judged based on how I treated others and if I lived my life to the absolute fullest potential – not for unquestioned piety.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  15. Mark J.

    John was certainly an eyewitness to the event, and wrote the Book of John "but these are written so that you can believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Then, by believing, you can have life through his name". John 20:31. Also, from the cross, Jesus saw John (the eyewitness, and the follower that he loved) and said these words found in John 19:26"Jesus saw his mother. He also saw the follower he loved standing there. He said to his mother "dear woman, here is your son". Then he said to the follower "Here is your mother". From that time on, this follower took her to live in his home". Jesus, in his suffering on the cross, spoke to Mary and to John, and the words are recorded for us to read and understand. God bless you as you read His words.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:47 am |
    • Eric

      Well said.

      July 2, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • TJ

      And you believe it? How many times was the Bible tampered with?

      July 2, 2010 at 10:59 am |
    • Toby

      "John was certainly an eyewitness to the event, and wrote the Book of John "but these are written so that you can believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Then, by believing, you can have life through his name". John 20:31."

      Mark, when someone tells you explicitly that he is offering an account of events "so that you can believe..", what does this suggest to you? To myself and many, many others it is blindingly clear that these authors (of which this is just one) had an agenda to elicit belief in a fantastic story. This guy wasn't bashful, nor did he make any attempt to hide the reason for his "testimony", he came right out and said that he was telling making these fantastic, superstitious claims in order to make others believe. To me, that says it all.

      July 2, 2010 at 10:59 am |
    • Eric

      TJ Is there a specific textual criticism that you are referring too?

      July 2, 2010 at 11:21 am |
    • TJ

      Yes, all of it! To believe in fairy tales is mind blowing! Eric, who wrote ?Genesis? More importantly, who was around to witness the Earth during creation? It is very hard to believe some of the stuff in the Bible. I do however believe that life cannot exist without the sun.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  16. Toby

    "If we are to suppose a miracle to be something so entirely out of the course of what is called nature, that she must go out of that course to accomplish it, and we see an account given of such a miracle by the person who said he saw it, it raises a question in the mind very easily decided, which is,–Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie? We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course; but we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time; it is, therefore, at least millions to one, that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie."

    Exxcerpt from The Age Of Reason, Thomas Paine

    July 2, 2010 at 10:46 am |
    • Winston Sumirsan

      It is not a miracle or many miracles that make a person to believe in God. It is the work of Holy Spirit.

      Then, it is not the happening of miracles that makes a person to deepen in faith. It is the joy and grace received by the work of Holy Spirit while embracing the sufferings or victories, happiness or sorrows, bringing up on being in a bumpy road; all sorts of life-events shall be embraced with God's Love and Mercy because these are the only bulwarks that will stand against all storms in life and that will give strength and hope to walk forward together with Jesus Christ.

      But, when a person walks together with Jesus in this worldly life, there might be only one set of foot-prints for Jesus carries the person.

      Thanks, miracles give you happiness only at time of the presence of miracles. But, faith gives you joy in all sorts of life-events. Peace of Jesus Christ be with you always.

      July 2, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  17. kevin

    As an atheist, I'm going to sound off a little bit. Normally, I would confront the problem of religion and God as a whole ( christianity, islam, etc.) However, I would like to respond to GI John's post mainly because the ignorance you've just so feverently typed is absolute nonsense. People like you are what's wrong with religion and believers. I can presume your Jewish and may harbor some ill feelings towards everyone else since your people were bullied for the first couple of centuries. In your post you write "One thing is for sure....it is not Allah based on "Moo"hamad and the Qua'ran, Buddah, Hinduism,evolutionists, athiests, JW's, Mormons,.....all deceptions created by satan to distract from the truth." The fact that you openly insult a religion that has stemmed from yours is actaully ironic and also incredibly childish. Moreover, I love how you paint this picture of God as an old-school crime fighter, who will wreak havoc on you with eternal damnation. Who in their right mind would believe something like that? Finally, and perhaps most importantly, just please do everyone a favor and stop talking. You're not very bright, and frankly, your stupidity is harming anyone who reads your post.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  18. Ian McCormick

    I always thought it was a drug overdose.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  19. McCluck

    I have an idea! lets all be nice to eachother! Wow i must be the son of god to come up with an idea like that! No way a non-magical being could ever figure that out. Must be magic, yep. Lets stop using our minds break out the incense and creepy robes and pretend we are eating human flesh and drinking human blood.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  20. Mark J.

    Matthew 27:35"the soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross". Mark 15:24 "the soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross". Mark 15:46 "Joseph bought some linen cloth, took the body down from the cross...... " Luke 23:33"there the soldiers nailed Jesus to His cross". Luke 23:53 "Joseph took the body down from the cross....." And from the book of John, written by the apostle John, and eyewitness to the event, John 19:17"Carrying His own cross, Jesus went out to the place called the place of the skull". verse 18"there they nailed Jesus to the cross". The Bible is thorough in its account of Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection. I hope that this will encourage us to spend more time reading it for ourselves, to understand the truth of God's creation and salvation of mankind. May God bless you all.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:36 am |
    • TexinVA

      Yes, dummy. That's the ENGLISH translation. Go back and actually READ the article and you'll see the point. The point is he's saying the translation is wrong. Get a brain dude.

      July 2, 2010 at 10:42 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.