History In The New Testament
Jesus died darkness came over the earth.
Didn't anyone notice?
HUMANIST'S CLAIM: Matthew 27:45 alleges that while Jesus was on the cross,
there fell over the whole land a darkness lasting from midday until three in the
afternoon. Andrew White explains that although Romans such as Seneca and Pliny
carefully described much less striking occurrences of the same sort in more remote
regions, they failed to note any such darkness occurring even in Judea.
that the reference is to Andrew White. If you've been reading previous pages in
this series you know what that means. Whatever he says you can just throw out...
he likes to just make up his "facts." Click
here for more on Andrew White.
Even though Andrew White is referenced
in this case, this is a valid question that others have asked, so let's find out
what really happened.
from the sixth hour [noon] darkness fell upon
all the land until the ninth hour [3 PM]. About
the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama
sabachthani? that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
three hour darkness is also recorded in Mark 15:33 and Luke 23:4445.
The Gospel Accounts Reliable?
Robinson, a liberal New Testament scholar, conducted an in-depth study in which
he discovered strong historical, textual, and logical evidence for dating all
of the gospels between AD 4065. And Robinson was no friend of conservative
biblical Christianity. Based on these dates, Matthew, Mark, and Luke would have
written about the darkness a mere 7 to 32 years after the actual event. Compared
to other ancient historical accounts, this is like a news flash. Suetonius, a
Roman historian, wrote his account of Caesar crossing the Rubicon at least 110
years after the event, and it is considered to be generally reliable. The earliest
biographies of Alexander the Great, by Arrian and Plutarch, were written over
400 years after his death, and they are considered trustworthy accounts.
- Daniel Anderson, Darkness
at the crucifixion: metaphor or real history?
gospel accounts are reliable. Another important point is that they were circulated
within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses to the events they record. Christians had
many enemies, in particular the Jewish leadership. If they could have found an
eyewitness who would dispute what was recorded in the gospels... they could have
ended Christianity. All they needed would be just one lie... and Christianity
was dead. But not such witnesses were found. The gospels are true and accurate.
The Darkness An Eclipse?
I live on the Oregon coast and the path of a total
solar eclipse passed through Oregon this year. My wife kept telling me, the eclipse
is starting! And I'd look outside and it didn't look any darker. Where we live
the eclipse was 95% complete... and if my wife had not kept after me, I'd have
never noticed there was an eclipse. You need to be directly in the path of totality
for it to get dark.
How long does an eclipse last? About ten minutes.
know when and where every total eclipse of the sun happens. There was no eclipse
when Jesus was crucified. An
eclipse did not cause the three hours of darkness.
Was This Darkness
Recorded As Occurring in Other Locations?
No. The darkness appears to have
been localized to just Palestine.
Did others in Palestine notice the
darkness? Yes. For example Thallus, a Samaritan historian who wrote around
52 AD, and Phlegon both recorded the darkness.
Thallus tried to explain
away the darkness as an eclipse. Julius Africanus (AD 160-240) researched the
topic of the darkness and wrote
"Upon the whole
world there came a most fearful darkness. Many rocks were split in two by an earthquake,
and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. It seems very unreasonable
to me that Thallus, in the third book of his histories, would try to explain away
this darkness as an eclipse of the sun."
Phlegon, a Greek
the following in about AD 137:
the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad [AD 33]
there was "the greatest eclipse of the sun" and that it became night
in the sixth hour of the day [ noon] so that
stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia,
and many things were overturned in Nicaea.
darkness was noticed, and some of those who wrote about it, attributed it to an
Why didn't others, such as Josephus, write about the darkness?
don't know. However, we do know that not every writer makes note of every thing.
Many skeptics also
ask why other early historians such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny
the Younger fail to mention the darkness. But the skeptics are committing the
fallacy of arguing from silence. It is unreasonable to expect every contemporary
writer to include every event that happenedand there are good reasons not
to expect these specific authors to mention the darkess. What we do have is a
plethora of extremely early, historically reliable, and highly respected sources
for the darkness during the crucifixion. The list of Matthew, Mark, Luke, Thallus,
Phlegon, Africanus, and Tertullian is impressive indeed!
was a three hour darkness during the crucifixion of Jesus, just as the gospel
wondered why the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, the best historian
the Hebrews produced, said nothing about the life or death of Christ; nothing
about the massacre of the infants by Herod; not one word about the wonderful star
that visited the sky at the birth of Christ; nothing about the darkness that fell
upon the world for several hours in the midst of day; and failed entirely to mention
that hundreds of graves were opened, and that multitudes of Jews rose from the
dead, and visited the Holy City? Ingersoll also asked, Is it not wonderful
that no historian ever mentioned any of these prodigies?
questions are even more forceful when one considers that there still exist at
least some of the works of more than 60 historians or chroniclers who lived in
the period from 10 C.E. to 100 C.E. Those writers were contemporaries of Jesus,
if in fact he ever lived.
Still another person committing the fallacy of
arguing from silence. Who was Robert Ingersoll? He is showing up as a reference
the humanists often use. He was a a well-know orator in the 19th century, but
is largely forgotten now. Nicknamed "The Great Agnostic," he was a lawyer
who dedicated his life to the defence of agnosticism. We'll take a look at what
he says on the next page. Click here
for more truth...