An online blogger stated, “I believe the bible was a collection of stories and nothing more. Kinda like our modern day sci fi.”
David Bokovoy on Patheos.com shared, “It doesn’t take too careful a read to determine that from start to finish, the Gospels contain inaccurate historical reconstructions—stories about Jesus’ life and ministry that simply could not have taken place the way they’re depicted.”
Richard Carrier from Columbia University wrote, “We have no trustworthy evidence of a physical resurrection, no reliable witnesses. It is among the most poorly attested of historical events.”
I came in from my mom’s back yard early one morning and standing at the kitchen sink, with her back to me, was a young woman with great legs and long hair, doing dishes. I had no idea who she was, and did not say anything as I walked behind and past her into the dining room, stealing a long glance over her figure. A few minutes later I heard my mom calling me to meet this girl.
It is funny how you come to recognize the calls of your parents. For some, if they use your first, middle, and last name, you know you are ‘in-for-it’. Others may recognize a tone to their parent’s voice that suggest you better be on your toes. Still other parents may call, and you can tell it is for something good to eat. My mom was calling me sweetly, as if there was something she wanted me to do. She wanted me to meet this pretty girl who was to become my wife about a year later. She knew a good gal when she saw one.
We began to correspond every week and wrote dozens of letters to each other. If I had just listened to my mom over the years, it would have saved me a lot of heart ache. Before we were married, my mom shared with me that if she could pick a girl for me to marry, it would be Gloria.
What were the odds of Gloria and I meeting at that time? I have shared this story dozens of times over the years, and on occasion leave out the reason why she was at my mom’s house and people would inevitability ask, “What was she doing at your house?” I would then explain she was in town only for that morning because she was going backpacking with a friend of hers, who just happened to be renting a room from my mom. Gloria was up early and helping out as she often does without asking. She was simply doing my mom’s dishes, and in I walk.
Had you heard Gloria’s account of that morning and how we met, she would likely share with you how she had driven down the night before to go back packing with her friend Monica. She would have filled in the part that I would often omit when I would share the story of how we met.
Over the years, New Testament scholars have noted instances of ‘undesigned coincidences’ within scripture. What are undesigned coincidences? They are gaps within one writer’s account of an event that are filled in by another writer’s account.
I just finished reading Stealing From God by Christian apologist Frank Turek, where he lists three examples I will share.
In Luke 23:2-4, the Jews led Jesus to Pilate and accused him of perverting the nation, not paying taxes, and claiming to be Christ the King. In Luke’s account, Pilate asked Jesus directly, “Are you King of the Jews?” and Jesus replies, “It is as you say.” Pilate then turns to the accusers and says, “I find no fault in this Man.”
What? How is it that Jesus admits His guilt, but then Pilate turns and says, “I find no fault in this Man.”? He just admitted it to Pilate’s face. Image in a court of law the accused admits to stealing, then the judge slams the gavel and says, “Not guilty, case dismissed!”
Take a moment and read John’s account of this event. John 18:33-38
Pilate entered the governor’s courtroom, (Praetorium), again and asked Him if he was King of the Jews. Jesus asked if Pilate wanted to know this, or if others had told him. Pilate replied, probably with some disdain, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary put it this way, “Jewish questions I neither understand nor meddle with.”1
Jesus went on to explain His kingdom is not of this world, and not from here. Pilate asked if he was a king, and Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate replied rather rhetorically, “What is truth?” and went outside announcing, “I find no fault in Him at all.”
Frank Turek writes, “John offers information not provided by Luke: Since Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world, He was not challenging Caesar’s rule as accused. Therefore, Pilate found no guilt in Him.”2
Another example of undesigned coincidence is found in Matthew’s account of Joseph’s dream, and when he returned to Israel from Egypt. We will find that Josephus, the Jewish rebel who turned Roman historian, shed light on this some 40 years later.
Matthew 2:22-23 explains that after Herod died, Joseph had a dream while in Egypt to return home to Israel. Joseph heard that Archelaus was reigning of Judea and he was afraid to go there. Then he was warned in a dream and turned to the area of Galilee, settling in a town called Nazareth. So why was Joseph afraid of Archelaus? In all of scripture Archelaus is only mentioned this single time, so we have no way to answer this question unless we explore outside the Bible.
In the Antiquities of the Jews, written by Josephus, we find in book 9, section 3 that Archelaus sent a regiment of armed men to put down a disturbance. These men were all assaulted and most were stoned to death by the Jews. A few escaped to report what happened, so Archelaus then sent a much larger force, “Now Archelaus thought there was no way to preserve the entire government…so he sent out the whole army upon them, and sent the horsemen to prevent those that had their tents without the temple from assisting those that were within the temple…”3 Josephus writes that 3,000 Jews were killed in this attack to put down a rebellion.
Considering the turmoil and the number of Jews killed by Herod’s son Archelaus, it should be no surprise that Joseph did not want to return there and was afraid of Archelaus.
The last undesigned coincidence involves the feeding of the 5000. Read John 6:5. Jesus and his disciples were near the Sea of Galilee when a great crowd had followed them because of the miracles Jesus had been performing on those who had diseases. Sitting with His disciples, Jesus asked Philip where could they purchase bread for the crowd to eat. Why would he ask Philip? He had a dozen disciples, and He could have asked them all a question, as He had done before, but he specifically asked Philip. Why?
Earlier in John 1:44, we learn that Philip was from Bethsaida. What is significant about Bethsaida?
In Luke, and only Luke, we find that Bethsaida is where the feeding of the 5000 took place. Of course Jesus would ask Philip, because Philip was in his own stomping grounds. When you put together the accounts of John and Luke you see another coincidence that would only have occurred if these historic narratives had been written by men who not only knew Jesus, but knew each other. Men who ate together, worked together, and lived together.
1. Jamieson, Robert., Fausset A.R., Brown, David. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. Print.
2. Turek, Frank. Stealing From God. Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2014. Print.
3. Josephus, Flavius. The Antiquities of the Jews. Trans. William Whiston. Blacksburg: Unabridged Books, 2011. Print.
Undesigned coincidences by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.