Historical Confirmation of Jesus

 The Bible - a Collection of Historical Documents?

Bible Study
The New Testament was written by eight different authors who recorded the events and their perceptions of Jesus from their own unique viewpoints. Because these documents were combined into a single collection which became the Bible, they are rejected by most secular historians. It is a mystery to me why that just because an account is contained in the Bible it is almost automatically rejected. If these accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus had remained separate and independent of one another they likely would have been considered on their own merit, not by the title of the book they were contained within. 

While this post will concentrate mostly on non-biblical sources regarding Jesus, I will touch briefly on the accuracy of the Gospels contained in the Bible. Just one example of many available involves Sir William Ramsey, a scholar who was educated and raised to doubt the accuracy of the New Testament. He set out to prove this fact, but through his extensive studies of archaeology and historical data Ramsey had a major change of heart. Ramsey closely and meticulously investigated the Gospel of Luke, intending to expose its many errors. When he concluded his investigation, Ramsey had the following statement regarding Luke.

 "Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy. ...[He] should be placed along with the very greatest of historians."

E.M. Blaiklock, a professor at Auckland University also had comments concerning Saint Luke and his abilities as a historian.

"For accuracy of detail, and for evocation of atmosphere, Luke stands, in fact, with Thucydides. The Acts of the Apostles is not shoddy product of pious imagining, but a trustworthy record. ...It was the spadework of archaeology which first revealed the truth."

[Thucydides - is considered one of the greatest ancient historians. He lived from 460 B.C. until 400 B.C. and it is said his works set a new standard for concision, scope and accuracy.] 

I mention these statements regarding the Gospel of Luke because Luke was not an eye witness to the events he was writing about. He did extensive research and interviewed eye witnesses in order to prepare his text. We are told Luke was a physician by trade, so we can rightly assume Luke was an educated man who would not be easily fooled or deceived. In fact, Luke had no reason to make false claims. In the opening to his gospel Luke explains he is attempting to write an account of the things he himself has carefully investigated.

"Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us,  just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.  With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,  so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." - Luke 1:1-4

[Theophilus, was a lost man who Luke was attempting to lead to salvation. It is widely believed that both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were originally written for this purpose. Side note; it is believed by many that these two works were originally a single document. Some speculate that Luke intended to write additional material after the close of Acts of the Apostles. Others believe Luke intended there to be an additional volume, but one which would be written by the Holy Spirit, not by Luke.]

While the Bible provides us with multiple eye witness and historical accounts of Jesus, many people believe the Bible to be bias in its coverage of the events. Many want, even require and demand, proof or evidence from non-biblical sources to confirm what the Bible tells us about Jesus being a real person. While these should not be necessary, such historical writings do in fact exist.  

Non-Biblical Records of Jesus

Even with all of the independent accounts of Jesus recorded in the Bible there are still many who would question if He ever truly existed. Was he just an idea? Just a myth made up by the early Christians to exploit an idea? The Bible tells us Jesus was in fact a real living breathing person, who also happened to be God.  For some these accounts are not enough, they are thought to be one sided. For some, to believe in Jesus requires proof from outside the Bible. They need to have an independent historical account or record of Jesus. Some argue no such historical record exist. They are wrong. The person of Jesus is mentioned outside of the Bible and we will list the three most significant instances here. These range from a Jewish historian who was also a roman sympathizer, to a roman governor and finally a great roman historian.  

Josephus - Jewish Historian

Titus Flavius Josephus was born in 37 A.D. He was tasked with helping with the defense of Jerusalem during the Roman-Jewish war. When their position was about to be overrun, Josephus and his companions made a pact to commit suicide rather than be captured. Josephus was the last man left alive and rather than kill himself, he defected to the roman side. He found favor with the roman authorities and served the new Roman Emperor Vespasian. While considered a traitor to his country, people and culture, Josephus is the primary source for ancient history, outside of the Bible, concerning Palestine.

Josephus was a very prolific writer. Two of his major works were "The Jewish Wars" and "Antiquities of the Jews". While it is not believed Josephus had any interest in promoting Christianity, his writings do provide a historical record for several biblical figures. These include Pontius Pilate, Herod the Great, John the Baptist, James the Just (brother of Jesus) and to Jesus.

In his writings there is a direct reference to Jesus. This reference is known as the 'Testimonium Flavianum'. It makes a reference to Jesus, His being the Messiah, the fact He rose on the 3rd day and that he founded a tribe known as Christians. Almost to good to be true. In fact, many claim it is far to good to be true. Many scholars believe that only a portion of the statement was written by Josephus. They claim the passage was somehow altered by Christians after Josephus' death. The problem with their claims is that they do not know who made the changes, when the changes were made, or even what was changed. Even with this lack of evidence it is difficult not to give their charges some credibility.

Josephus was a traitor to Israel so he would have had not allegiance to the religious leaders. However he was a Jew and there is no evidence to support a belief Josephus was ever converted to Christianity. With that in mind, it seems very odd Josephus would state Jesus was the Messiah. If it was written that His followers believed Him to be the Messiah, that would not have drawn so much attention. As it stands, the statement, as it is written here, is in question.

"About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah, the Christ. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restore to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared."

Critics of the 'Testimonium Flavianum' offer a slightly different version of the passage which they believe is far more accurate and reflects the true writings of Josephus. This second version, listed below, removes many of the statements experts believe did not come from Josephus. As you can see, there remains a direct refence to Jesus, the fact He was a teacher, and led many Jews away to a new faith. Regardless of which version of the text you accept as accurate, it remains a non-biblical account of Jesus as a living person.

"Now there arose about this time a source of further trouble in one Jesus, a wise man who performed surprising works, a teacher of men who gladly welcome strange things. He led away many Jews, and also many of the Gentiles. He was the so-called Christ. When Pilate, acting on information supplied by the chief men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had attached themselves to him at first did not cease to cause trouble, and the tribe of Christians, which has taken this name from him is not extinct even today."

Scholars differ on their opinion of the 'Testimonium Flavianum', but they almost unanimously agree the reference made to James, the brother of Jesus, was in fact written by Josephus and has survived unaltered from its original writing. This statement again mentions Jesus, who was called the Christ. The statement is about James, the brother of Jesus who was a leader of the early church and the Bishop of Jerusalem. It seems clear this is a reference to Jesus as a real person, not a myth.  

"so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned:"

Pliny the Younger - Roman Imperial Governor

Born as Gaius Caecilius, Pliny the Younger was a lawyer, author and Roman Magistrate. In 110 A.D. he would be named the Imperial Governor of the Bithynia et Pontus Province. Pliny the Younger wrote a great many letters. Of the literally hundreds of letters he is known to have authored, 247 still exist. These have proven extremely valuable as a historical tool for many scholars. It was one of these surviving letters which touches on our topic.

 In 112 A.D. a number of Christians were brought into the court of Pliny the Younger. While he does not discuss the original charges for which they were presented in court, Pliny the Younger said he found these Christians to be basically harmless. Despite this, he gave the accused three opportunities to denounce their faith in Jesus. If they refuse, he had them executed.  

The letter in question was written to the Emperor to ask for guidance in such dealings. Pliny the Younger was inquiring if it was legal for him to have these people put to death when their only crime was their faith. The Emperor responded that Pliny the Younger had acted properly and was within his rights to execute the Christians. In the letter to Emperor Trajan, Pliny the Younger mentions Christ several times. Here is one example.

"That they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ, as to a god,"

In the letter Pliny the Younger does not make any attempt to explain what a Christian is, or who Christ was. It is very apparent the person of Christ was well known as were the troublesome Christians. This is one of a number of references to Jesus found outside the Bible. The fact it is by a Roman Governor who is prosecuting Christians makes it clear he is not trying to falsely build up the reputation or legend of Jesus, rather his interest seems to be in the exact opposite. This is very clearly a reference to Jesus, not as a myth, but as an actual historical person. 

Tacitus - Roman Historian

Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a Roman politician and historian. He was born in the year 56 A.D. and died in 120 A.D. Tacitus is widely regarded by scholars as one of the greatest roman historians of all time. Tacitus wrote two major works, the 'Annals' and the 'Histories'. These two works cover the time from the death of Augustus in 14 A.D. through the Roman-Jewish war that concluded in 70 A.D. 

Another roman historian, Aufidius Bassus had recorded events from the rise of Augustus to the reign of Claudius. Pliny the Elder then picked up the historical record and continued on until the time of Vespasian. Tacitus continued as the historian of his time, in the line of succession, in recording the history of Rome. Known as one of the greatest historians of ancient time, his mention of Jesus can be seen as a clear indication Jesus was a real person, a trouble maker to the romans to be certain, but certainly no myth.

"Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea,... but even in Rome." Tacitus - 115 A.D.

In Tacutus' mention of Jesus we also see the name Pontius Pilate, which confirms another element of the biblical text. Also mentioned is the fact this Christus, Jesus, suffered the extreme penalty, which is a direct reference to His crucifixion. For his part, Tacitus would probably have liked to make everyone believe Jesus was just a myth and put a halt to these troublesome Christians. Instead, he records the facts, just a good historian should, and he makes it very clear, Jesus was a real person, was a leader of a group in Judea, and He was crucified. 


In their book "Evidence for the Historical Jesus", Bill Wilson and Josh McDowell make the following statement regarding non-biblical evidence regarding Jesus, His crucifixion and the early spread of Christianity.

"The evidence... indicates that the message of Jesus' actual life, death and resurrection must have begin to spread across the Roman Empire immediately after Jesus' crucifixion, for non-Christian writers were reporting its effects within nineteen to thirty years of its commission." 

Other  Non-Biblical Writings About Jesus

There are many other writers and historians who wrote about Jesus and His lifetime. Many of these were Christian writers or converts to Christianity, but to reject these writing on that account alone would require an extreme bias and would in fact be a very non-scientific approach. A person's religious affiliation, or lack thereof, should not be any more of a determining factor in their abilities than their race, gender or nationality.

Among the many ancient writers who wrote about Jesus and the early church are Phlegon, Hadrain, Lucian of Samosata,  Clement of Rome, Papias, Quadratus,  Justin Martyr,  Origen, Eusebius, Suetonius, Ignatius, Polycarp, Quadratus, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Thallus, Cornelius Tacitus and Mara Bar Serapion.

The esteemed Doctor Clark H. Pinnock summed up his opinion of the Biblical texts and evidence of their authenticity and accuracy this way.

"There exists no document from the ancient world witnesses by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies and offering so superb an array of historical data on which an intelligent decision may be made. An honest [person] cannot dismiss a source of this kind. Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational [i.e., anti-supernatural] bias."

For a relatively short period of time the thought, or theory of Jesus being nothing more than a myth, was accepted by many. This concept made its way into popular culture, but its lifespan was limited by the shear volume of historical data. Today the scholarly community almost universally admit that Jesus was in fact a living breathing man. He was the leader of a group who became known as Christian, named after Him, and He was very much not a simple myth. 

Did you enjoy this article? Follow this Blog to get new posts sent directly to you.



Discovered - Long Lost and Nearly Forgotten Christian Languages

 Saint Catherine's Monastery

The St. Catherine's Monastery is located is the shadow of Mount Sinai. It has the distinction of housing the oldest continuously used library in the world. It is also one of the oldest working Christian monasteries in the world. The monastery was constructed between the years of 548 and 565 A.D. and its library contains thousands of ancient manuscripts and books. Unknown until very recently, was that some of these manuscripts contain very valuable and extremely rare secrets. These secrets include languages long lost to history. 

Saint Catherine's Monastery

The Monastery is controlled by the Church of the Sinai which is a branch of the Greek Orthodox Church. The complex was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. It is named after Saint Catherine of Alexandria. According to tradition Saint Catherine was a Christian saint and virgin. She was martyred sometime in the early 4th century by emperor Maxentius. Prior to her death at the age of 18, Catherine is said to have lead hundreds of people to Christianity. Interestingly, 1,100 years after her death, Catherine is said to have been one of the saints who appeared to Joan of Arc to comfort her.

In the 7th century the rise of Islam caused many Christian monasteries to close. Saint Catherine's remained open, mostly due to its remote location. This isolation cut them off almost entirely from the outside world. As a result, supplies and resources were limited. Because of this, the opportunity for the hidden secrets was inadvertently created.

When the monk's ran out of writing material, and could not get new supplies, they began erasing some of the older writings so the materials could be reused. How they selected which documents could be erased is unknown. They would then re-use the material, writing the new text in place of the old. When this is done it creates what is known as a palimpsests. 

[Palimpsest - a piece or writing material on which the original writing has been altered or erased to make room for later writings. In a Palimpsest some of the original material remains.]

In some cases there may be multiple documents beneath the current writing. How many layers of text are there depends on how many times the document was erased and reused. The more layers of text there are, the more difficult the recovery process. 

Palimpsest Hold Long Forgotten Secrets

Experts were excited to learn there were approximately 130 Palimpsests in the library at Saint Catherine's. Until recently, even when a Palimpsest was discovered it was generally impossible to decipher the original writing that had been erased. With new technology this is no longer the case. Using some of the same technology that has been used on the Dead Sea Scrolls, scientist are now able to recover the materials that were erased centuries ago. What they have found in Saint Catherine's Monastery is amazing. 

Since the project began the scientists have been able to process, and photograph 74 of the documents. These documents together contain some 6,800 pages. Each page is photographed multiple times, each time with different colored lights. Over time the original writing, the hidden treasure beneath, becomes visible.

The documents come from a wide range of times, from the 4th to 12th centuries. Among the treasures discovered were over 100 pages of previously unknown Greek poems. Scholars were also excited when they found the oldest known recipe written by the Greek physician Hippocrates.

[Hippocrates - is generally known as the father of medicine.]

Ancient Christian Languages

Aside from these amazing discoveries, scientist were also amazed to discover many of the erased texts had been written in obscure languages, some of which have not been used in centuries. Two of these obsolete languages were known to be used almost exclusively by small groups of Christians. The first is known as Caucasian Albanian. The second is known as Christian Palestinian Aramaic, which is a mixture of Syriac and Greek. It is believed this language has not been used since the 13th century. 

Christian Palestinian Aramaic was a language used by the Melkite Christian community located in Palestine and Transjordan. The language was used beginning in the 5th century up until the 13th century. The language stopped being used in the 13th century, but its existence was rediscovered by scholars in the 18th century. These new documents have helped scholars better understand the language and vocabulary, along with giving them several new words they had not seen or translated before.

[Melkite Christians were a group of eastern churches of the Byzantine Rite and were operated in the middle east.]

This group of Christians had their own unique art, literature and spirituality. The language fell out of use as the Islamic movement spread through the region and the Christian communities were either eliminated, or forced to relocate. If this group did relocate, it would seem they were acclimated into the new culture and adapted the new culture's language, abandoning Christian Palestinian Aramaic. 

With more than fifty documents left to evaluate, the scientists are left to wonder what they might find when the ancient writings are finally brought forward and can be viewed for the first time in more than 1,000 years. 

Did you enjoy this article? Follow this Blog to get new posts sent directly to you.




Was Jesus in the Tomb Three Nights?

Jesus Predicts His time in the Grave

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus engages a group of Sadducees. The group had been questioning Jesus' identity and were demanding a sign from Him as proof of His claims. In His response, Jesus used the story of Jonah  and gave them a prophecy of the ultimate sign He would provide to the world to show who and what He truly is. 

"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." - Matthew 12:40

Jesus' Cross
In His statement Jesus tells the Sadducees He will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights, just as Jonah was in the belly of a huge fish. This is a rare prophecy by Jesus concerning His future. Tradition tells us Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, placed in the tomb sometime Friday afternoon, and would eventually be raised from the dead. Friday would have been the first day, Saturday the second, and a portion of Sunday morning would have been the third day in the tomb. The problem comes in when we try to count the three nights. In the tomb Friday night and obviously Saturday night, but that is only two nights, not the prophesied three nights. Did Jesus fail to fulfill His own prophecy? 

We should first look at the traditional events and time line for Holy Week. This begins on the Sunday before Easter.

  • Sunday - Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
  • Monday - Jesus Cleansing the Temple
  • Tuesday - Jesus teaching at the Temple - the Olivet Discourse
  • Wednesday - Not recorded in the Bible
  • Thursday - The Last Supper 
  • Friday - Jesus put on trial and crucified
  • Saturday - Sabbath - Jesus in the tomb
  • Sunday - Easter - Jesus is resurrected
This order of events is based on a several reference points. We know the last supper was the Passover meal, a marker in time. The Gospels tell us Jesus' body was taken down from the cross because the next day was the Sabbath. With this time-line Jesus was crucified on Friday, which makes it is all but impossible to get to three nights in the tomb since we know Jesus left the tomb sometime before sunrise on Easter Sunday. In his article, Jack Kelley explores a possible solution to this problem. His solution is very inventive, resolves the issue, but requires a completely new look at Holy Week.

Re-thinking Holy Week

The first issue is to determine when the Sabbath took place. The term Sabbath is Hebrew and means rest. It comes from the 7th day of creation when God rested after creating the Heavens and the earth. In the Jewish belief system the Sabbath is Saturday and begins at Sundown on Friday and continues until sundown on Saturday. Because of this we have always assumed Jesus was crucified on Friday, the day before the Sabbath, but what if the Sabbath wasn't on Saturday?

It is true the Sabbath is on Saturday, but there is more to tell. Not only are Saturdays considered Sabbaths, there are additional Sabbaths known as high Sabbaths. There are seven high Sabbaths during the year. In regards to Holy Week we are most interested in the High Sabbath for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast is believed to have taken place on Friday of Holy Week, so in effect there were two Sabbaths during Holy Week and the two Sabbaths occurred back to back. In this new scenario the Sabbath that caused Jesus's body to be removed from the cross was actually on Friday, not Saturday. This theory fully resolves the issue of three days and three nights in the tomb.

  • Wednesday - Passover - Last Supper
  • Sunrise on Thursday - Jesus crucified and laid in the tomb - this was Day 1
  • Sunset on Thursday is the start of Friday in the Jewish system so this was Night 1
  • Sunrise on Friday was Day 2
  • Sunset on Friday began Saturday - Night 2
  • Sunrise on Saturday was Day 3
  • Sunset on Saturday began Sunday which was Night 3
  • Jesus rose from the dead sometime before sunrise on Sunday
This idea resolves the issue of three days and three nights but it causes us to go against tradition. Was Jesus crucified on Thursday rather than Friday? This can be very hard for many people to accept. Is there any conclusive proof for this theory? Conclusive, perhaps not, but convincing, yes. There are certain elements mentioned in the Bible which seem to support this new idea of the events of Holy Week.

Certainly not proof, but in our original look at Holy Week we see the Bible says nothing about any events taking place on Wednesday. It is odd that any day would be ignored during such an important and critical time. With the new concept of Holy Week, all days are recorded with no gaps.

In the gospel of Luke, after Jesus rises from the dead, He meets with two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. This meeting takes place on Easter Sunday. The disciples tell Jesus, who they did not recognize, that it had been three days since their Lord was crucified. Since it was Sunday, that would have been the third day after, Saturday would have been the second day after and Friday the first day after the crucifixion. This would make the day of crucifixion to be Thursday. 

This train of thought resolves many if not all of the issues and possible contradictions. It certainly goes against tradition and is rejected by many for that very reason. Some theories attempting to resolve the same issues want to push the crucifixion back even further to Wednesday. The vast majority of Bible scholars and church officials do not believe it is necessary to move the crucifixion from the traditional Good Friday.

Is The Traditional Holy Week Correct?

Experts and scholars remind us that we must remember to not only examine scripture in the context intended, but also with the language and custom of the culture at the time it was written. It is important to remember the Jewish people did not count a day in the same manner we do today. In the Jewish/Hebrew world a new day starts at sundown. So on Thursday at sundown it is officially Friday.  In this example Friday would continue until sundown on Friday when it would become Saturday. It is also considered that any part of a day is counted as the entire day. Regardless of what part of the day you are discussing it is counted as a night and a day, much like is recorded in Genesis. For many scholars this is what Jesus was referring to when He spoke about three days and three nights in the grave. The Jewish community of the day would have understood this to mean Jesus would be in the grave for at least a portion three days, but not necessarily a complete three days and nights.

Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon. Since the system of the day counted any part of a day as both night and day, this would have been both day 1 and night 1 in the tomb. At sundown Saturday began and continued until sundown on Saturday. This was Day 2 and Night 2. Sunday began at Sundown on Saturday and would have continued until sundown on Sunday. This would have been Day 3 and Night 3 in the grave even though Jesus rose from the grave sometime before dawn. 

Some say this type of counting is cheating while others insist it is the proper interpretation of Jesus' words. It is an unequivocal fact that the Jewish system counts days in a different way then most modern cultures. Pope Benedict XVI addressed the possibility of the Last Supper taking place on Tuesday rather than Thursday. In his book "Jesus of Nazareth" the Pope says this theory is "fascinating at first sight", but ultimately rejected it, as do most exegetes. 

In the gospels we here of the women who watched where they laid the body of Jesus. They then went and rested on the Sabbath according to the law, and on Sunday morning went to anoint the body of Jesus. The Bible does not say they waited two days before going to the tomb which they would have done if Jesus was crucified on Thursday rather than Friday. As mentioned, some say Jesus was crucified on Wednesday which would have allowed the women a extra day to prepare the anointing oils before going to the tomb on Sunday. This seems totally unnecessary and an attempt to force scripture to fit a specific theory. 

When all the elements of the Gospel accounts are considered it seems most probable that Jesus was in fact crucified on Friday as tradition tells us. The prophecy of Jesus was indeed fulfilled when he was laid in the tomb on Friday and three days and three nights later, by Jewish reckoning, was raised from the dead. As with other passages of scripture, some overlook the obvious and most probable solutions and needlessly complicate things to fit what they believe it should say or mean. In almost all cases the easiest solution is the correct one. The vast majority of scholars agree the apparent contradiction can be resolved by keeping the statement in context and with what that statement meant when it was said. We cannot arbitrarily apply our current terminology, grammar and way of thinking to something written two thousand years ago in a culture we may not fully understand. By doing so we greatly increase the real probability of error and creating an apparent contradiction where there is none..


Why was Jesus in the Tomb for Three Days?

Jewish Tradition and Beliefs about the Afterlife

What did the first century Jewish community believe about the afterlife? Did they believe in eternity, the eternal soul, or was this a later creation of the Christian church? The Jewish beliefs began with Moses when he received God's instructions and laws. The groups or leaders of the day-to-day belief system during the time of Jesus began in approximately 163 B.C.  At the end of the Maccabean Revolt, three separate groups of religious believers, orders, were established. These were the groups of religious leaders Jesus dealt and interacted with.

Jesus after Resurrection
The first of these, which was a minority, were the Sadducee. This group believed in the written law alone. The Sadducee did not believe in the afterlife, nor did they believe in spirits, ghosts, or demons.  They also believed very strongly in free-will. For the Sadducee, God plays no role in how your life turns out, your destiny was entirely up to you and the decisions you make. From archaeological findings it is believed the Sadducees believed in personal wealth and earthly pleasures. It is believed the high priest Caiaphas, who played a key role in the crucifixion of Jesus, was a Sadducee. During His earthly ministry Jesus had several interactions with the Sadducees. The most notable, and relevant here, was when Jesus rebuked them for their lack of belief in the afterlife.

Jesus replied, "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising - have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken." Mark 12:24-27

The second group are the Essenes. This group believed in the strict observance of the laws of God. There primary concern was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Essenes believed only in the written law, and rejected oral teaching as being the equal of scriptures, which differed them from the Pharisee which we will look at next. Like the Pharisee, the Essenes believed in heaven and hell, spirits, demons, ghosts and eternal life. The Essenes however did not believe in a physical resurrection, but only in spirit. It is believed by many scholars that the Essenes was the group who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The last religious group is the Pharisee. Jesus interacted and conflicted with this group more than any of the others. The Pharisee believed in spirits, demons, heaven and hell and eternal life. They were different from the other groups that they did not stress the importance of bloody sacrifices, but were more interested in constant prayer and the study of Gods laws. The Pharisee believed not only would the person's spirit, soul, continue after death, but at some point the physical body would be resurrected and the person would live in eternity in body and soul. 

Ancient Jewish Text on the Afterlife

There are several ancient Jewish texts, manuscripts and traditions that reveal some of their beliefs concerning life after death. Some scholars have noted the similarities between some of these beliefs and events people report during a near death experience. 

 "But you, go on to the end; you shall rest, and arise to your destiny at the end of days." - Daniel 12:12

"At the hour of a man's departure from this world, his father and relatives gather round him, and he sees them and recognizes them, and likewise all with whom he associated in this world, they accompany his soul to the place where it is to abide." - Zohar 1

"In the world to come there is no eating or drinking, nor jealousy, or animosity or rivalry - but the righteous sit with crowns on their heads and enjoy the radiance of the Shechinah." - Talmud Brachot 

[Shechinah - the presence of God in the world.]

"In the World-to-come there is no material substance; there are only souls of the righteous without bodies... The righteous attain to a knowledge and realization of truth concerning God to which they had not attained while they were in the murky and lowly body." - Talmud

"When a man departs to his eternal home, all his deeds are enumerated before him." Talmud

"But the souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall ever touch them. In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die, but they are at peace." - Wisdom of Solomon 3:2

While the three groups of religious leaders had very clear differences in their beliefs and in our fate, after life, the vast majority believed that life goes on after death. The soul, or spirit, continues on to either eternal happiness, or eternal suffering. The fact that Jesus was raised from the dead would have fit well into Jewish belief, although the belief system did not include Jesus being raised body and soul and being returned to earth after three days in the tomb. 

Was Being Dead Three Days Significant?

Knowing a little more about the Jewish traditional beliefs in the afterlife, we can now explore the length of time Jesus was in the tomb. I believe we can assume the time period of three days was not random, was not just the way it worked out, but had a significance. Does Jewish belief, especially during the first century, make any reference to a person being buried for three days? A direct reference to being buried, no, but there is a direct reference to a person being dead for three days.

The Leviticus Rabbah is a collection of 37 homilies that make up a biblical exegesis composed by ancient Judaic authorities. These writings have been tentatively dated back to the fifth century but were certainly taken from older texts. In the Leviticus Rabbah we see a direct refence to a first century Jewish belief regarding what happens to the spirit after the body dies.

"For three days after death the soul hovers over the body intending to reenter it." - Lev. Rabbah 18:1

The three day period does not have the same significance today. With modern embalming techniques a person's body can remain in very good condition for some time, most certainly for longer than three days. In the first century there were no such techniques used. Without embalming and left in a non-air conditioned room, after three days a body would begin to decompose and would become unsightly and unpleasant to be around. It was thought that the spirit would hover over the body for three days, wanting to reenter it. After three days the body would no longer be attractive to the spirit and the spirit would move on to the afterlife known as the olam haba, or The World to Come. So after three days the person was truly deceased because the spirit would no longer reenter the body. 

Jesus remained in the tomb for three days and then his spirit reentered His body and He was raised from the dead on Easter morning. This would have been significant to the first century Jewish community. After three days Jesus' spirit should have moving on to olam haba, and not reentered His body. Once again Jesus was demonstrating His ultimate power over death even when ancient beliefs said His spirit should move on. It could have also been a further statement of the new covenant Jesus had established, showing everyone His power and how He had done away with the old ways and opened the way to heaven, to olan haba. 

Was Jesus in the tomb for three nights?

It seems the three days in the tomb did have a significance. Not only did it show Jesus' power over death, but it also fulfilled a prophecy made by Jesus. The Sadducee asked Jesus for a sign to prove to them He was who He claimed to be. In His response he makes a direct reference to the three days He would eventually spend in the tomb.

"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." - Matthew 12:40

With Jesus being crucified on Friday and raised from the dead on Easter Sunday, He was in the tomb for three days, or at least a portion of three days. However, getting this time period to equal three nights in the tomb is difficult. The three nights in the heart of the earth statement has itself caused much concern and debate. By almost any standard Jesus was in the tomb only two nights, Friday and Saturday and He was raised on Sunday morning. Is this an error in scripture? Did Jesus fail to fulfill His own prophecy?  This is considered a major point of contradiction by many, but can it be resolved? With the importance of this issue it will be covered in a separate post.

Did you enjoy this article? Follow this Blog to get new posts sent directly to you.


First Temple Artifacts Reveal Trade and Treachery

What Can Tiny Weights Reveal About First Temple Period? 

Old Scales
Two artifacts, very similar in shape and size have been discovered near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The first artifact was discovered in 2013 and has been dated from the time of the First Temple.  The tiny stone weight was discovered in dirt removed from the area of Robinson’s Arch. The round stone is inscribed in Hebrew with the word Beka. The actual engraving is done in mirror-writing which inverts the text. This is the only example of mirror-writing yet to be found from this time period.

Robinson's Arch was a staircase and bridge leading to the Temple Mount Area. Under the arch and along the street there were a number of shops and businesses. Many, if not all, of these shops did business with people visiting the Temple, either as local residents, or people on a pilgrimage  from a distant land. These shops included money changers and shops offering animals for sacrifice in the Temple. Many of these shops would have used weights to measure out gold or silver being used as payment. It is believed by many this was the location where Jesus cleansed the temple during Holy Week.

A Beka weight is equal to a half-shekel, weighing 11.33 grams. The size of the this particular weight is important because at the time it was used there were no half-shekel coins in existence. This was an issue since every person twenty years old or older had to bring a half-shekel to the temple. Since there was no equivalent coin, persons would bring silver to make their offering required in Exodus 38:26. The Beka weight would have been used to measure out the proper amount of silver. This small weight confirms several details mentioned in the Bible and is far more relevant than its small size might indicate.

"And the silver of those of the congregation who were counted was a hundred talents and 1,775 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary; a beka a head (that is, half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary), assessed to each one who passed over to those who were counted, from twenty years old and upward," Exodus 38:25-26

The artifact is estimated to be 3,000 years old. It is believed the artist who engraved the weight was likely accustomed to making seals as all seals are done in mirror-writing. This allows the seal to be read when pressed into the clay. These weights were used from the time of Moses through the First Temple Period. Patrons paid their required contributions to the temple in either silver or gold. As with anywhere large amount of money is present some will find a way to exploit the situation. Some believed the second artifact discovered was evidence of dishonest trade practices taking place at the Temple Mount.

Treachery at the First Temple? - Not So Fast...

The second artifact was recently recovered in Jerusalem and is very similar to the Beka weight found in 2013. The inscription on this second weight indicates it weighs two gerahs. The gerah coin was equal to 1/20 of a shekel. It is believed this second artifact is at least 2,700 years old. Relics from the first Temple Period are extremely rare and this weight offers a unique insight into biblical times.

Researches reported the artifact seems to be less than an honest weight. Rather than weighing the expected 0.944 grams, which is equal to a weight of two gerahs, the artifact actually weighs 3.61 grams, which is almost three times heavier than it should be. The report stated the only explanation for this drastic error in weight is that the weight was used to cheat customers. The practice of having false weights was apparently not uncommon as it is mentioned several times in the Bible.

“Just balances, just weights, a just epah [a measure of about 1.1 bushels], and a just hin [a measure of about 1.5 gallons] shall ye have.” Leviticus 19:36.

“Do not have in thy bag diverse weights, a great and a small…” Deuteronomy 25:13.

“Make the epah small, and the shekel great, and falsify the balances of deceit.” Amos 8:5.

While false weights were known to exist, the story of this artifact has another chapter to tell. After the artifact was examined by additional experts a new opinion emerged. The new evaluation of the inscription reports the inscription was incorrectly translated. Rather than reading 2 gerah, they insist it reads 8 gerah, which would make the weight correct.  The incorrect translation/reading of 2 gerah seems to have been an honest mistake. Regardless if the artifact represents an honest weight, or a dishonest trader's weight, the fact it comes from the time of the first temple and was found in Jerusalem, makes it a very special discovery. 

Given the extremely limited to almost non-existent excavation of the Temple Mount, any discover of an artifact from the first temple period is worthy of attention. There have been a number of shops discovered near the area of Robinson's Arch which included money changers. Any of these shops , and numerous others around the Temple Mount would have used these types of weights to measure out various items possibly including silver and gold. It is fascinating to see tiny artifacts emerge from the soil nearly three thousand years after there were last used. Their size in no way diminishes their importance and historical significance. 

Did you enjoy this article? Follow this Blog to get new posts sent directly to you.



Does the Book of Genesis Contradict Itself?

Does Genesis 1 Tell a Different Story of Creation than Genesis 2?

Does the story of creation told in Genesis chapter one contradict what is written in Genesis chapter two? For many non-believers, and some people of faith, the two stories of creation recorded in the opening chapters of Genesis are somewhat confusing. Does the Bible contradict itself from the very beginning? Or is there a logical and reasonable explanation for the apparent differences?

First we will look at the story and order of creation as told in Genesis chapter one. The process, as most everyone knows, took six days with the seventh day reserved for rest.

  • Day One - Light is created.
  • Day Two - Heaven and earth are separated.
  • Day Three - Dry lands, sea, plants and tress are created.
  • Day Four - The Sun, moon and stars are placed in the sky.
  • Day Five - All creatures that live in the sea and fly in the sky are created.
  • Day Six - Land animals are created and spread across the earth - then man is created.
  • Day Seven - God rested from His work on creation
In Genesis chapter two we see what some believe is a second account or telling of the creation story. The primary area of concern comes in verse nineteen. In this verse we hear of the creation of the land animals which in chapter two seems to come after the creation of man. If this is accurate, it is obviously a contradiction between the two chapters. The vast majority of scholars insist chapter two is not a second version of the creation story, it is instead a review of day six from chapter one. Here we will briefly look at several possible solutions and explanations for these passages.

In chapter two we see the creation of the Garden of Eden which was not created in chapter one. The Garden of Eden was not a new creation element as it used elements which were previously created. This makes it obvious Chapter Two is not simply a retelling of Chapter One but instead includes additional details of creation. At the end of day six God created man, basically His last item to be created. Much like the Garden of Eden comes in after the individual elements were created, once man is created, God brings the animals He had previously created before Adam for review and naming.  

"Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper ]suitable for him.” And out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the livestock, and to the birds of the sky, and to every animal of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him." - Genesis 2:18-20

The important question is, are these the same animals Chapter One tells us were created on day five, or is this verse telling us God created the animals after He created man? If so, this is indeed a direct contradiction to what we read in chapter one. Critics insist this is indeed a contradiction and proof the Bible's story of creation cannot be trusted or taken seriously. Are they correct in their concerns and doubts?

Many Bible scholars will tell you verse nineteen should not be read as a story of the creation of the animals, but of a reintroduction of the animals that had been created on day five. The focus of the passage is the fact the animals are brought before Adam, establishing man's domination over the animals by giving them names. Obviously chapter one is a very broad overview of the creation of the entire universe as well as all life an Earth. Chapter two offers slightly more details which includes the story of Adam's interaction with the animals. This takes place after God places Adam in the Garden of Eden. 

A small number of Bible scholars believe both verses refer to the creation of animals. Their theory claims most animals were created in chapter one, then in chapter two God created additional animals which were brought before Adam. In this theory all of the animals created on day six were brought to Adam, but not all of the animals God had created previously. As mentioned, this theory is not widely accepted. Obviously however, if this is correct, it removes the contradiction. This is far from the only possible solution to the problem.

Another small group tells us the author of Genesis, traditionally Moses, was not at all concerned with giving a proper chronological order to creation. His primary concern is giving us a brief written account of how God created the Heavens and the Earth. In the Genesis narrative, according to some, the order of events is not important, thus we should not be concerned with these apparent contradictions since no exact order of events was ever intended. While this train of thought removes the problem of a contradiction, it basically does so by ignoring it completely.

As with many things, the simplest solution is the most likely to be correct. Many scholars believe this is the case here as well. The problem lies not with the content of the bible, but the modern translation of the text. It is felt the proper translation of the verb "formed" should be a pluperfect. This would change the reading of the verb from, formed, to had formed. 

 “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field."  

“And out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field."

[Pluperfect - telling of an action completed prior to some past point in time.]

If this theory of an error in translation is correct then it removes any potential contradiction. Supporters of the pluperfect translation insist anyone who argues against the change in the verb does so with an empty argument. While this relatively minor change in the modern translation does resolve the problem, is it the correct solution to the apparent contradiction?

A often overlooked element of the Genesis narrative is the very first line. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This is not a title to the chapter, it is a statement. Is this first sentence telling us God created everything in a single moment, or perhaps over a longer period of time, and the remainder of the creation story is just filling in the details?

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters." - Genesis 1:1-2

In this opening we see the earth already exists as does water, all before day 1, but in Chapter One the seas are not created until day 3. Is this a contradiction beyond what we see in chapter 1 and 2? Did creation take place in stages? Is this opening statement just an overview before the details are revealed? Or could it be the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis are written in a narrative style that is no longer used or fully understood? After all, it was written more than 3,000 years ago. This is yet another possibility of the creation story, that God worked in stages and each stage or phase of creation is recorded in its own unique way. This theory proposes that prior to day one God had already created the heavens and the earth, then the story picks up from there. This not only does not resolve the apparent contradiction, but actually creates additional problems. It is considered by many that creation was not done in six 24 hour days, but happened over a much longer period of time. Regardless of how long God took to complete the creation process, you would expect the order in which they took place to be recorded correctly.

While many different scholars, critics and believers struggle to resolve the issue, the truth is very likely a combination of all these theories. The most probable explanation is that Genesis chapter two is not a re-telling of creation, it is a more detailed re-cap of just a portion of Genesis chapter one. Day six was likely deemed more important since it involved the creation of man and thus received slightly more attention. The two should not be considered two versions of the same event, but rather a retelling of the same event, with no real contradictions. 

Did you enjoy this article? Follow this Blog to get new posts sent to you.


Population of Eden?

 How many people lived in the Garden of Eden?

God created the Garden of Eden on the sixth day as a place for Adam and Eve to live. The garden had everything they needed to survive and live a full and enjoyable life. It also contained the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, whose fruit was forbidden. Eventually mankind gave into temptation and ate the forbidden fruit. This resulted in their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Most of us know this story very well, but when mankind was expelled from the Garden and forbidden to ever return, just how many people had to leave? The quick answer is two, just Adam and Eve, but is this the correct answer? Just how many people lived in the garden with Adam and Eve? Scriptures doesn't give us an exact number, but they do indicate Adam and Eve were not alone.

Book of Genesis

God created the first man, Adam, and then Eve to be his partner and companion. They were created in the image and likeness of God and were perfect. Early in the Book of Genesis God gives them instructions to have children and fill the earth. 

God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it: and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and every other living thing that moves on the earth." - Genesis 1:28

However, the first mention of a child being born is much later in chapter four. This passage tells of the birth of Cain who of course was instrumental in the story of Cain and Able which immediately follows this passage.

"Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain." - Genesis 4:1 

Was Cain the first born to Adam and Eve, or was his birth only mentioned here because it was relevant to the story the writer was about to tell? The Bible very rarely tells everything in an exact chronological order and often leaves huge gaps of information missing. In regards to the children of Adam and Eve, the Bible is very vague and only mentions names when they pertain to a story or event that is to be explained in further detail. This is evident in Chapter 5

"Then the days of Adam after he fathered Seth were eight hundred years, and he fathered other sons and daughters." - Genesis 5:4

Here the Bible tells us they had other sons and daughters, but does not give us any names or even a specific number of children. Interestingly, Jewish tradition tells that Adam and Eve had 56 children. I am uncertain exactly how they arrived at this number, but obviously tradition tells us they had many more children than are directly told about in scripture.

While we know Adam and Eve had children, the question remains, did Adam and Eve have children before they were cast out of the garden? Obviously if they followed God's instructions to be fruitful and multiple, they did have children. Is this another case of the Bible not telling things in an exact chronological order? Were Adam and Eve not fruitful until after their fall from grace and the expulsion form the garden?  We are given a strong indication of the truth in the words of God to Eve as he expelled them from the garden.

"To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you will deliver children." - Genesis 3:16

In this passage God says He will greatly multiply Eve's pain during childbirth. The obvious implication is that Eve had already given birth to multiple children. After all, how can you multiple something, such as the pain of childbirth, if it has not yet happened. While the Bible is not always told in an exact chronological or historical order, this passage can be placed at a specific time in history. This punishment was being handed down as God expelled man from the garden, before the birth of Cain. If this is an accurate reading of scripture, and I feel it is, then Adam and Eve had children while living in the Garden of Eden and Cain was not their first born.

Knowing Adam and Eve had children, is there any way to determine how many people lived in the garden, or perhaps the earth, at the time of their fall from grace? Unfortunately the answer is no, there is no way of knowing this information. There is simply too much missing information to come to any logical conclusion. The key piece of data we do not know is how long did Adam and Eve live in the garden before they gave into temptation? Did Satan begin his deception right away? How long were they able to fend off temptation and tell Satan no? Did they last a day, a month, a year, thousands of years? We must remember, they had everything they needed in the garden, life was good, they had very little need for any physical possession so it may have been possible for them to resist Satan's empty promises for an extended period of time. 

If they were able to resist temptation for a prolonged period of time, how many children could they have had? How many grandchildren, great grandchildren? Yes, for this to happen there would have been siblings having children together. This is seen and incestuous and even unhealthy today, but regardless of the timing, if you believe the earth began with just Adam and Eve, then there were sibling unions that took place. After a time these unions would have been between more distant relatives. It is also unknown how often women would have children. How long would they wait between one child and the next.

Where did Cain's Wife Come From?

The concept of there being children born to Adam and Eve while still in the garden also helps resolve other questions some have about certain passages. If we say Cain was the first born, followed by Able, then they were the only two children and the population of the earth was just four people. If this were true, then whom did Cain fear would kill him when God cast him out after Cain murdered his brother? It would seem Cain had a great many people to fear which is why God put a mark on Cain so no one would harm him.

"Behold you have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and I will be hidden from Your face, and I will be a wanderer and a drifter on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." - Genesis 4:14

Also, after leaving Adam and Eve who would have been alone now, Cain was able to find a wife. If there were no children born that were not recorded in the Bible, where did Cain's wife come from? It seems obvious Adam and Eve had obeyed God and had been fruitful and filled the earth.

"Then Cain left the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived." Genesis 4:16-17 

Given the scriptures it seems very obvious there were a large number of children born to Adam and Eve prior to the fall from grace. This allows for other passages such as who wanted to kill Cain and where Cain's wife came from to be easily explained and any supposed contradiction resolved. 

How Long Did Adam Live?

Some will point out a potential major flaw to this train of thought. The Bible clearly tells us how long Adam lived. In Genesis 5:5 the Bible tells us Adam lived 930 years, and then he died. Furthermore, a time line is given for the birth of many of his children. Doesn't this give us a somewhat exact timeline for when the fall from grace took place? Not exactly.

If I were to ask you how old was Jesus when He was crucified the normal answer would be 33. Some scholars say he was 30, but regardless, he was in his early 30's when he was crucified. But wait, does that mean Jesus did not exist before that time? I have always been taught Jesus was present at the creation of the heavens and the earth.

"Then God said, "Let us make mankind in Our image, according to Our likeness," - Genesis 1-26

If God is not referring to Jesus in this statement, then why does He refer to Himself in the plural tense? The reason we give Jesus an age of 30 -to- 33 at the time of His crucifixion is because when He was born He stepped out of eternity to become man. That is when His earthly age began and continued for the next 30-33 years until He returned to His eternal state of/life. In much the same way, Adam was eternal prior to his fall from grace. He had no age before this because there was no sin and thus no death, age was totally irrelevant, just as it will be for us in heaven. I believe the clock on Adam's age began when he and the rest of mankind were expelled from the Garden of Eden. It was at this point his 930 year 'earthly' lifespan began.

For these reasons I believe the Garden of Eden had a far greater population. The number of people being expelled from the garden could have bene enormous, all having to pay for the sins of Adam and Eve. After the first sin and the fall from grace evil quickly escalated into jealousy and even murder. This expansion of evil would continue until God could take no more and He would eventually destroy the earth by way of a massive flood, but that is another story.

Did you enjoy this article? Follow this Blog to get new posts sent directly to you.


How Long was a Day During Creation?

 Were the six days of creation literal 24 hour days?

It can be very risky to attempt to reconcile the age of the Earth according to secular science and what creationists believe. If the Bible is the inerrant word of God, then we should accept what it teaches us. In the Bible, the Book of Genesis tells us God took six days to create the heavens and the earth, and then rested on the seventh day. End of story, no reason to question anything? Unfortunately scripture is not as clear on this subject as some believers claim. Were these days of creation what we would call a standard day of 24 hours? or did they last hundreds of millions of years? or were they perhaps a combination of both? There are very convincing arguments to be made that scripture is telling us the days were more than 24 hours, but just how accurate and convincing are these arguments?

Many creationist believe the six days were indeed 24 hour days and the earth is approximately 6,000 years old. Secular science tells us the earth is as much as five billion years old. Trying to bring these two together is more than a bit difficult. The people who believe in a young earth will often say you are dishonoring God when you say it took billions of years to create the earth. If you believe in God you must admit God certainly had the power to create the earth in six 24 hour days, but he could have also done it in a single moment. We must remember that while God understands time, it has no effect on Him. It is not as if God was on a deadline and had to finished creation in just six days. The credit for creation belongs to God, regardless if the process took a single moment, six days, or five billion years.

The question we must answer is what the scriptures mean when they speak of six days. Some have pointed out that since the sun was not created until day 4, the 24 hour day did not exists for the first three days, so how could there have been an evening and a morning of a 24 hour day? The Bible mentions the earth was surrounded by a thick mist. Some believe this mist is what allowed the rapid growth of vegetation and for dinosaurs to grow so enormous. During this time, they claim the sun was actually there, it was simply blocked from view by the mist. On the fourth day the mist dissipated and the sun and moon were placed in the sky, became visible. Other scholars believe the problem of the 24 hour day can be resolved with what they believe is the proper translation of a single word, in this instance the word is, day.

In the Hebrew language the word for day is pronounced Yome. The term Yome is properly translated as day in the Bible, but things are not that simple. Like its English counterpart, Yome can have multiple meanings. Day can be a specific period of time of 24 hours, but it can also be used in reference to a much longer and indefinite period of time. This is true in modern times as well as when the Bible was written. The reference for a single 24 hour day is obvious, but what about the indefinite period of time? One example can be seen in the Book of Micah.

"It will be a day for building your walls. On that day your boundary will be extended. It will be a day when they will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt." Micah 7:11-12 

Obviously the term day in this instance does not represent a 24 hour day, but a longer period of time. The meaning must be taken from the context of the situation. Saying I spent a day doing research indicates a 24 hour day. If I say, 'In my day..." it would be understood to represent more than 24 hours. Many believe the context of the creation story indicates the term 'day' indicates an indefinite period of time. Many people of faith believe that God continues the rest He began on the 7th day since He has ceased from creation. If this is the case, the 7th day is much longer than 24 hours.

Genesis gives us the order in which God created all the various elements of the heavens and the earth.

  1. Light was created
  2. Sky was created (heaven)
  3. Dry lands, sea, plants and trees
  4. Sun, moon and stars
  5. Creatures that live in the sea and fly
  6. Animals that live on land - man
  7. God rested.
Is it strange that the order of creation listed in Genesis very closely matches what secular science tells us about the formation of earth? The vegetation would have developed first, then followed by life beginning in the oceans. After a time life began on dry land and eventually man appears. The theory of evolution is based on the fossil record, but that record has massive holes and gaps. A clear evolutionary line does not exist for any major groups of creatures. These groups, such as vertebrae animals, appear suddenly at different periods in time, completely formed with no evolutionary predecessor. Could this be because God created these different groups of creatures at different times? 

If we look at each creation day we can see there is a possible indication the reference was to more than a 24 hour day. An example is day three when God created vegetation.

"Then God said, Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit according to their kind with seed in them; and it was so. The earth produced vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, according to their kind; and God saw it that is was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day." - Genesis 1:11-13

Did the plants grow to maturity and produce fruit all in one day? While it is certainly within God's power to do this, is that what the passage is telling us? The passage also contains a phrase that is repeated throughout the creation story, 'there was evening and there was morning'.  We generally understand a new day begins in the morning and ends in the evening. Why does the Bible put evening first? In the Hebrew world a day goes from sunset to sunset, not sunrise to sunset, so this might explain the passage, but is there even more to this simple phrase?

In the Hebrew language using the term 'and there was evening' is a way of saying something new was started. When combined with, 'and there was morning', it is saying it was finished. Something new, in this case the creation of vegetation through the power of God, was started and it was completed. This phrase marks out a period of time in which something was accomplished. It could be 24 hours, or it could refer to a longer or even shorter period of time. Again, when the term 'day' is used we must remember it could have multiple meanings, just as it does in modern day.

There is another possibility some creationist believe. Some will argue that God created the earth to appear old. Fossils and what appear to be ancient geological formations were created as a type of back story, for appearances only. These things were created old. In this scenario it would be possible to say dinosaurs never actually lived, God just scattered their fossils about to make the earth look older. Others argue this type of creation would have been dishonest, deceptive, making things appear to be something they are not. This type of creation is not something they believe God would do, and furthermore, God would have no need to. 

As believers we should not feel the need to make holy scripture fit neatly with secular science. At the same time, we are not called on to ignore facts. Many parts of scripture are open to interpretation and must be looked at based on the context of the writings. We must always consider the intention of the various authors. As an example, the four gospel accounts were all written with a different audiences in mind. Matthew wrote his gospel to a Jewish audience, Mark was trying to reach a Roman audience, Luke wrote from a historian's point of view, and John's gospel was a personal story of how each of us can have a relationship with Jesus. As we read and study these we should take these facts into account as it most certainly affects the context and meaning of the narrative. 

The story of creation was meant to show God is responsibly for creating everything we see, everything there is, both seen and unseen. As with many parts of the Bible, including the gospels, an exact chronological and historical order was not intended and should not be implied. Scripture gives you the facts and information you need to live by, while accurate, it is not an exact history. God certainly had the power to complete creation in six days, or perhaps scripture is telling us He took longer, perhaps because it pleased Him to do so. As believers we should not fight among ourselves over how long God took to create the earth. The actual amount of time required for creation is  not as important as our understanding that all things come from God. How long did it take God to create the universe? The exact amount of time He intended.

           Did you enjoy this article? Follow this Blog to get new posts sent to you.


Through the Ages

  Geologic Time 4.6 Million B.C. -to- 2.6 Million B.C. Stone Age Palaeolithic 2.6 Million B.C. -to- 10,000 B.C. Mesolithic 10,000 B.C. -to- ...