Monday, December 23, 2019

JESUS' AMAZING MIRACLES: THE EVIDENCE

The amazing array of miracles that Jesus performed is one of the many amazing confirmations that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament (and therefore the God of Israel--the only true God and Creator of the Universe--come in the flesh).

In prophesying about the coming of God's kingdom, Isaiah said:
Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
(Isaiah 35:3-6a)
When John the Baptist was in jail and was having his doubts about Jesus, John sent his disciples to ask Jesus: "Are you the one who is to come [that is, the Messiah], or should we expect someone else?" Jesus responded: "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor...." (See Matthew 11:2-5. For Jesus healing the blind, see Matthew 9:27-31, etc. For Jesus healing the deaf and mute, see Matthew 9:32-33, Mark 7:32-37, and Mark 9:17-27. For Jesus healing the lame, see Matthew 9:1-8. For Jesus healing lepers--or someone with a skin disease, see Matthew 8:2-4. For Jesus raising the dead, see Matthew 9:18-26, Luke 7:11-15; and John 11:1-44.)

Many who saw Jesus working so many miracles asked: “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?” (John 7:31)

So the prophets foretold that miracles would accompany the coming of the Messiah, and First Century Jews saw his many miracles as a sign that he was the Messiah. But Jesus himself consistently pointed to his miracles as a sign testifying to his messiahship: 
“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” (John 14:10-11; Also see: John 5:36; 10:25; 10:37-38; 15:24; Matthew 11:20-24.)
And his apostles reiterated this, as we see with Peter at the very first public proclamation of Jesus' resurrection on the day of Pentecost: "Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22)


So This Is the Claim, But Why Should We Believe It?
Is there good reason to believe these claims about Jesus' miracles? This is a valid question. And the answer is: Yes. In fact, there are many good reasons to believe the accounts of Jesus' miracles: 
  1. The reliability of the Gospels themselves: The Gospels are shown to be historically reliable documents in all that they attest to and this is established by many factors including....
  2. ArchaeologyMy class "Digging Up The New Testament"--which is listed first among the resources on my blog page "Archaeological Confirmation of the New Testament"--gives a good overview of how archaeology shows that the Gospels are historically reliable.
  3. Ancient Extrabiblical Documents: See the section below for Extrabiblical documents that directly confirm that Jesus worked miracles.
  4. Undesigned CoincidencesMy class on "Undesigned Coincidences" (that is listed first among the resources on the "Undesigned Coincidences" blog page) is particularly relevant as it focuses on the undesigned coincidences for one of Jesus' many miracles: the feeding of the 5000.
  5. The Intense Persecution of the Early Church (and especially the apostles): My class "The Apostles: Dying to Tell the World" (which is listed first among the resources on my blog page "The Intense Persecution of the Early Church....") gives a good overview of how their willingness to suffer hardship confirms the truth of the major points of the Gospels--especially Jesus' miracles and his resurrection. (Note: There is a lot on that page, so you will need to scroll down a ways before you get to the "Resources.")
We can add a sixth evidence of the reliability of the Gospels (and much more if I had time): The Gospels all record eyewitness testimony and were all written well within the lifetime of many other eyewitnesses. If the miracle accounts were greatly exaggerated, there would have been plenty of people to discredit them and the Christian movement as a whole. 

Two of the Gospels are indeed eyewitness accounts, written by the apostles whose names they bear: Matthew and John (see John 19:35 & 21:24; also see points 3 & 4 of my article on Papias). Very early testimony by those who knew the apostles (e.g., Papias, see point 2 of my article on Papias) attests that Mark recorded the testimony of the apostle Peter. And Luke states explicitly in his prologue (1:1-4) that his Gospel is the result of a thorough investigation of eyewitness accounts.

Furthermore, Luke was written before 55 AD and Matthew and Mark were written before Luke (see my article: "Why 1 Timothy Was Written No Later Than 55 AD & Why That Matters"; and I am working on an article to provide much more evidence for this dating for Luke that I hope to publish within the next few weeks). And in 55 AD, Paul says that Jesus "appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living...." (1 Corinthians 15:6).  So....this means that after the Gospels were written and circulated, there were still hundreds of witnesses who had seen Jesus risen from the dead. Also, the apostles Peter, John, Paul and James the brother of Jesus (four of the most important witnesses to Jesus were still alive then and probably most of the other apostles. In fact, the only apostle known to be dead before 55 AD would have been James, the brother of John and the son of Zebedee (Acts 12:2).

Finally, three of the apostolic fathers bear strong witness to the Gospel's miracle claims long after the Gospels were written. (See my article on the importance of the apostolic fathers.):
PAPIAS, BISHOP OF HIERAPOLIS & DISCIPLE OF THE APOSTLE JOHN, WHO WROTE A 5-VOLUME WORK ON JESUS (written c. 115-130 AD):
"As for those who were raised from the dead by Christ, he [Papias] states that they survived until the time of Hadrian [who reigned 117-138 AD]." (from Fragment 5, Philip of Side's 5th Century Church History, p.572-73 of The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, edited and revised by Michael W. Holmes)
QUADRATUS OF ATHENS (wrote c. 125 AD):  
"But the works of our Saviour were always present, for they were genuine: those that were healed, and those that were raised from the dead, who were seen not only when they were healed and when they were raised, but were also always present; and not merely while the Saviour was on earth, but also after his death, they were alive for quite a while, so that some of them lived even to our day." [Eusebius (lived c.260-339) quoted this from Quadratus' Apology in his Church History 4.2.1-3 (c. 325 AD).]
IRENAEUS, A DISCIPLE OF POLYCARP (died 155 AD) WHO WAS A DISCIPLE OF THE APOSTLE JOHN (died 100 AD):
"For I have a more vivid recollection of what occurred at that time than of recent events (inasmuch as the experiences of childhood, keeping pace with the growth of the soul, become incorporated with it); so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse — his going out, too, and his coming in — his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eye-witnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures. These things, through, God's mercy which was upon me, I then listened to attentively, and treasured them up not on paper, but in my heart; and I am continually, by God's grace, revolving these things accurately in my mind." (written c. 175-185 AD; see Fragment 3 of the lost works of Irenaeus as found in The Ante-Nicene Fathers by Roberts and Donaldson)

In fact, not many scholars deny that Jesus worked miracles. Not only are Jesus' miracles widely attested throughout all of the Gospels and Acts and by the apostolic fathers. But they are also universally attested to by non-Christians:
PONTIUS PILATE (wrote c.33 AD) as cited by JUSTIN MARTYR (wrote c.155 AD; lived c. 100-165 AD):

"And that it was predicted that our Christ should heal all diseases and raise the dead, hear what was said. There are these words: At His coming the lame shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerer shall be clear speaking: the blind shall see, and the lepers shall be cleansed; and the dead shall rise, and walk about. Isaiah 35:6 And that He did those things, you can learn from the Acts of Pontius Pilate." (The First Apology of Justin Martyr, chapter 48)
*NOTE: Some scholars think Justin merely assumed the record existed. Other scholars think that he had knowledge of some forged document (though the only one we know of was written long after Justin's time). I personally think that it is more likely that this learned man were more careful than that. Certainly, it seems unlikely that Justin would present this as evidence to the Emperor Antoninus unless he knew for sure that it was true. The Emperor could easily check this for himself--so that would be a careless move in his apology and would throw doubt on the whole thing.
FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS (wrote c. 93 AD; lived 37-100 AD):
"Accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have reported wonders [that is, miracles]...." (Josephus' Antiquities 18:63) For more on this passage from Josephus see this excellent article by Dr. Paul Maier, a professor of history and an expert on ancient history who published a commentary on The New Complete Works of Josephus and also his own translation in Josephus: The Essential Works)
THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD (written c. 70 – 200 AD):
"On the eve of the Passover Yeshu (Jesus) was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover." [See The Babylonian Talmud, translated by I. Epstein (London: Soncino, 1935), vol. III, Sanhedrin 43a, p. 281, as cited in Habermas, GaryThe Historical Jesus, p. 203.]
*NOTE: Similar to what we find in the Gospels (see Matthew 9:34; 12:24-27; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15), the Jews did not deny in the Talmud that Jesus did miracles but rather said that his miracles were works of sorcery. 
CELSUS (wrote c. 175-180 AD):
"For he [Celsus] represents the Jew disputing with Jesus, and confuting Him, as he thinks, on many points; and in the first place, he accuses Him of having invented his birth from a virgin, and upbraids Him with being born in a certain Jewish village, of a poor woman of the country, who gained her subsistence by spinning, and who was turned out of doors by her husband, a carpenter by trade, because she was convicted of adultery; that after being driven away by her husband, and wandering about for a time, she disgracefully gave birth to Jesus, an illegitimate child, who having hired himself out as a servant in Egypt on account of his poverty, and having there acquired some miraculous powers, on which the Egyptians greatly pride themselves, returned to his own country, highly elated on account of them, and by means of these proclaimed himself a God." (Origen's Against Celsus, Book 1, chapter 28)
*NOTE: Again, the claim is not that Jesus did not do miracles, but rather that he they were pagan miracles or that he learned to fake them.
RESOURCES: 
*For more on the non-Christian references to Jesus' miracles, see "Evidence for Jesus' Miracles Outside the Bible."
*For more on extrabiblical evidence for Jesus, see my blog article: "Ancient Documents (Besides the New Testament) That Mention Jesus."


So Could Jesus Have Faked His Miracles?
Master Illusionist Andre Kole (inventor of over 1000 illusions including about 100 of David Copperfield's illusions) approached Jesus' Miracles as a skeptic before becoming a believer. He concluded with certainty that Jesus could not have faked his miracles. See this 6-minute video:



The Range of Jesus' Miracles Is Amazing
The Gospels give accounts of more than 50 different miracles that Jesus did. They ranged from healing the blind and the lame to raising the dead, from walking on water to feeding tens of thousands by multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish, from casting out demons to raising himself from the dead. (For a helpful list of these miracles see: "The Miracles of Jesus.") And the Gospels all make it clear that these are not the only miracles that Jesus did:
"Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them." (Matthew 4:23-24)
"They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed." (Mark 6:55-56)
"A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all." (Luke 6:17b-19)
"Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:30-31)
"This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." (John 21:24-25)

No One In History Performed Miracles Like Jesus
We have the army of modern skeptics to thank for sifting through the records of history desperately seeking to find someone like Jesus, so that they can say: "See, Jesus is not the only one who performed miracles!" And the three best parallels that they can come up with are:

HONI, THE CIRCLE DRAWER (prayed for rain c. 65 BC)

Honi is credited as doing one miracle: he prayed for rain during a drought and it rained. That's it. That is hardly a parallel to Jesus. There are far greater parallels to Jesus in the Old Testament. Moses is the closest parallel and with good reason: because Jesus is the "prophet like Moses" that was prophesied to come (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). Not only does Honi's single miracle pale compared to the miracles of Jesus, but the only two records of Honi are from at least 135 years later (not by eyewitnesses nor during the lifetime of eyewitnesses nor even the lifetime of those who knew eyewitnesses and no comparison to the less than 20 years' distance of the Gospel accounts of Jesus).

APOLLONIUS OF TYANA (lived c.15-100 AD)

Appolonius is indeed credited with a wide variety of miracles, but the nature of them still is unlike those performed by Jesus. More imporantly, the record of Apollonius that we have (Life of Apollonius of Tyana) was written c.220 AD, long past the time of eyewitnesses and those who knew eyewitnesses--and also at a time and place in which it was likely intended to be some kind of parallel to Jesus (though it fails miserably). Besides, it does not read anything like history but rather reads like a very silly legend--or as David Marshall says: like a Saturday Night Live skit! [See p.199, 204-206 of Marshall, David. Jesus Is No Myth! (self-pubished: 2016). See p.199-222 for a more detailed refutation of Apollonius as a parallel to Jesus.]

BAAL SHEM TOV (lived 1698-1760)

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (aka, the Besht) was an 18th Century Jewish rabbi and mystic and the founder of the Jewish Hasidic movement. It is claimed that he performed miracles in a little known work entitled In Praise of Baal Shem Tov. The work itself is written in 1814 (54 years after his death and nearly a century after the earlier accounts). The author of this work is not extremely clear about the source of his stories, but at one point he relates that he heard them from a rabbi, who heard it from another rabbi--and it is unclear whether this rabbi was actually an eyewitness: 
"I heard these tales from the rabbi, the famous great light, Rabbi Gedaliah. God bless his memory, who said that he heard them from the famous Hasid, our teacher Schmersl, God bless his memory, the preacher of the holy community of Zwierzchowka." [as quoted on p.267 of Marshall, David. Jesus Is No Myth! (self-pubished: 2016)].
So the accounts of Baal Shem Tov's miracles are not first even second-hand accounts nor were they written down within the lifetime of eyewitnesses for most of them. In fact, there were no eyewitnesses for many of them, as they were not public miracles but things like private visions or a letter purported to have been written privately by the Baal Shem Tov 16 years earlier, etc. 

If you go to the collection of stories housed on a website of the Hasidic movement, you will find this claim: "No sage since Biblical times is more known than Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov as an incredible miracle worker. Read some amazing stories about the feats of the founder of the chassidic movement." But when you actually read the stories, you do not find miracle claims that rival those of Jesus. I invite you to go and read the stories they have chosen for yourself. 

David Marshall reflects on the "miracles" reported for Baal Shem Tov: "As with Apollonius, the reason Ehrman cites Baal Shem Tov in the first place...is that the man supposedly did miracles. But did he?....The Besht can make himself invisible. He intuits the thoughts of others. He talks with animals....[and then there is] the reincarnated frog who claimed to have been a scholar who had lived 500 years previously" (p.274-275 of Jesus Is No Myth!). In another story, Satan transforms himself into a sorcerer and then into a werewolf who attacks children who are with the Besht. The Besht clobbers the werewolf with a club and the next day locals find the body of a "gentile sorcerer." (p.266) In yet another story, the dog of one of his disciples jumps into a river and drowns. The disciple then eats a fish that is caught and exclaims: "It's taste is like life itself!" The conclusion of the story is that both the dog and the fish were the disciple's father reincarnated to bring the disciple this "blessing" (p.266). 

So far I fail to see any parallel to Jesus' very public ministry of miracles. How about you?:

  • Where is the man born blind who receives his sight? (John 9:1-7) 
  • Where are the ten lepers who are healed on their way to have the priest confirm their healing? (Luke 11:17-19) 
  • Where are those who are raised from the dead and still alive to testify about it many decades later? (See Papias and Quadratus above. The Gospels record no less than 3 people that Jesus raised from the dead.) 
  • Where are the crowds of people who bring their sick and they are all healed? (See above: Matthew 4:23-24; Mark 6:55-56; Luke 6:17-19) 
  • Where is the crazed demoniac who cannot be bound by chains but suddenly finds himself at peace and in his right mind? (Mark 5:1-20) 
  • Where is the man who had been an invalid for 38 years who immediately gets up and takes his mat and walks? (John 5:1-9) 
  • Where is the account of Baal Shem Tov being raised from the dead?

Again, despite the outlandish false claims of Bart Ehrman (see p.263-264 of Marshall's Jesus Is No Myth! and Ehrman's blog article on Baal Shem Tov), the evidence for these miracles is not by any means the same as for the miracles of Jesus.

They do not meet any of the six criteria I laid out above for the reliability of the Gospels (nor do they meet the 50 criteria that Marshall lays out in Jesus Is No Myth!, The Truth Behind the New Atheism, and Why the Jesus Seminar Can't Find Jesus, and Grandma Marshall Could...nor the many criteria which I have been documenting over the past couple of years but have yet to publish)...nor are they attested to decades later by those who saw those whom Baal Shem Tov had healed...nor are they attested by those outside of Hasidic Judaism. For a more detailed refutation of Baal Shem Tov as a parallel to Jesus, see p.261-279 of Marshall, David. Jesus Is No Myth! (self-pubished: 2016).

In conclusion, the historical evidence for Jesus' miracles is rock solid. Furthermore, no one in history has ever been claimed to work the kinds of miracles that Jesus did. And yet, if it was possible to get away with making up such claims and providing multiple eyewitnesses and significant evidence for such an array of public miracles, one would think that we would be able to find many examples. Certainly, there have been many who would like to claim that kind of power for themselves or for their sage heroes. Yet none are found.

The deep divide between Honi, Appolonius and the Besht only serves to prove the very thing that the skeptics have sought to disprove: that there is no one like Jesus. As Marshall writes: "If after ransacking your house for weapons, you challenge a thief with a butter knife, that probably means no more potent hardware lies hidden in your closet" (p.204 of Jesus Is No Myth!).

Resource: Marshall, David. Jesus Is No Myth! (self-pubished: 2016). See my review of Dr. Marshall's book here.


*SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS ARE FROM THE NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION



RESOURCES FOR DIGGING DEEPER

My Class: "Jesus' Amazing Miracles"
*MP3 Audio 
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).
*The entire 16-week course may be found here: "HOW TO HAVE CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST THAT CHANGES THE WORLD (Apologetics 101: A Cumulative Case)"


Articles
*Cooper, Brad: "Miracles: Resources for Study"
*Stewart, Don. "Why Should Anyone Believe in the Miracles of Jesus?"
*Biblical Archaeological Society. A collection of articles on "The Miracles of Jesus"

Books
*Habermas, Gary. The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ Among the Major World Religions (a FREE! 50-page ebook)
*Beth, Karl. The Miracles of Jesus (FREE! to read online)






Friday, November 29, 2019

THE RELIABILITY OF THE GOSPELS, DISCREPANCIES AND HARMONIZING ACCOUNTS

"Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome." (Suetonius' The Lives of the Twelve Caesars: Claudius 25)

"As for the Jews, who had again increased so greatly that by reason of their multitude it would have been hard without raising a tumult to bar them from the city [Rome], he [Claudius] did not drive them out, but ordered them, while continuing their traditional mode of life, not to hold meetings." (Cassius Dio Roman History 60.6.6-7)

Here we have what seems like a straightforward irreconcilable contradiction: Either Claudius' expelled the Jews or he did not. Yet it is not that simple. I recently read a historian who tried to harmonize the accounts by saying that Cassius Dio was referring to an earlier point in Claudius' reign. So there is at least one possible way to reconcile these accounts. I have not even begun to look into this to see if this harmonization actually works, but my point is that this is the normal way of doing history: considering possible harmonizations.

But more to the point: even if they do actually contradict each other, we don't throw out Suetonius and Cassius Dio and say we can't learn anything from them because they contradict each other. In fact, they are both considered as generally reliable historians.

At the places that they agree, in fact, we have much greater confidence that those are historical facts that we can rely on. This is how history is done. But skeptics refuse to concede these fundamental rules of doing history for the Gospels.




Monday, September 30, 2019

HOW TO HAVE CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST THAT CHANGES THE WORLD (Apologetics 101: A Cumulative Case)

This page contains links for the audio, PowerPoints, handouts and resource links for my 16-week course: "How to Have Confidence in Christ That Changes the World (Apologetics 101: A Cumulative Case)" which I began September 8, 2019 (so currently a work in progress).

The course is meant to be a very basic introduction to apologetics that is accessible to just about anyone from high school up (and probably even many middle school students). We will be exploring several key arguments as we build a basic cumulative case for Christianity. From this foundation one can continue to build and grow in their understanding of the evidence for Christianity, so that they can have the kind of confidence in Christ that will enable them to live boldly for him no matter what he asks them to do.

WEEK 1: "Does God Give Us Reasons to Trust Him?" 
*MP3 Audio (45 minutes)
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 1: 
*Cooper, Brad. "Do We Really Need to Teach Apologetics in the Church?"

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WEEK 2: "Love God With All Your Mind"
*MP3 Audio  
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 2: 
*Cooper, Brad. "Be Like Jesus: Be a Thinker"

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WEEK 3: "Why Is There Stuff?"
*MP3 Audio  
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 3:
*Cooper, Brad. "Understanding The Nature of a Cumulative Case"
*Cooper, Brad. "COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS: Resources for Study"
*Cooper, Brad. "The Universal Innate Knowledge of God: Resources for Study." See this article for resources related to the fact that we are born with an intuition for detecting design.
*Cooper, Brad. "FINE-TUNING OF THE UNIVERSE: Resources for Study"

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WEEK 4: "Life Isn't Simple"
*MP3 Audio  
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 4:
*Cooper, Brad. "ORIGIN OF LIFE: Resources for Study"
*Cooper, Brad. "DNA EVIDENCE FOR GOD: Resources for Study"

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WEEK 5: "Beauty & the Argument from Music"
*MP3 Audio  
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 5:
*Video mentioned in presentation: "Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale"
*MUSICAL SAVANTS:
*"Savant - Leslie Lemke"
*"The Mysterious Gift of Musical Savants"
*"A Musical Savant Shows Talent"
*"Real People, Real Stories: Blind, Autistic, Musical Savant (Tony DeBlois)"
*"The Musical Genius (Autism Documentary) | Real Stories"
*"Top 10 AMAZING SAVANTS With REAL SUPER POWERS"
*MY YouTube PLAYLIST FOR EXPLORING THE AMAZING PROPERTIES OF MUSIC:
*"The Argument from Music"
*MORE LINKS FOR DIGGING DEEPER: "The Argument from Music & Other Aesthetic Arguments for God"

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WEEK 6: "The Law In Your Heart"
*MP3 Audio 
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 6:
"THE MORAL ARGUMENT: Resources for Study"

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WEEK 7: "How The Puzzle Is Coming Together"
*MP3 Audio  
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

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WEEK 8: "Digging Up The Old Testament"
*MP3 Audio  
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

*ROBERT DICK WILSON (1856-1930). Wilson was an Old Testament scholar and defender of the text and historicity of the Old Testament. He was an incredibly gifted linguist who knew 45 languages (26 related to the study of the Old Testament). Check out this 4-minute video about Wilson by Josh McDowell. A brief biography and bibliography at Wikipedia. A 16-page biography by Brian Nicks in The Master's Seminary Journal. A complete chronological bibliography of Wilson's works at the website of the Presbyterian Church in America Historical Center. Wilson's best known work: A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament, which can be found FREE here.

MORE RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 8:
"ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONFIRMATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT: Resources for Study"

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WEEK 9: "Digging Up The New Testament"
*MP3 Audio  
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

REFERENCES FOR THE CLASS:
1. Information on Sir William Mitchell Ramsay's views about Acts before and after his archaeological work can be found at: Sir William M. Ramsay: Archaeologist and New Testament Scholar A Survey of His Contribution to the Study of the New Testament (Baker Studies in Biblical Archaeology) by W. Ward Gasque, p.23-24, 27-28.

2. Colin J. Hemer & Acts:

4. A Few More Important Finds:

*For more info about Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (1851-1939). Highly recommended is Ramsay's magnum Opus: St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen  (1895, 1907) which is FREE at Christian Classics Ethereal Library, where you will also find a nice summary of the book and a short biography of Ramsay. And here is a short article by Don Stewart quoting from this book and showing how Sir William Ramsay is related to settling the question of the historicity of Acts. Sir William M. Ramsay: Archaeologist and New Testament Scholar -- A Survey of His Contribution to the Study of the New Testament by W. Ward Gasque, an excellent 95-page book about Ramsay and his contribution to New Testament study--available in a FREE PDF file. (NOTE: The link for the PDF file of the book is located below the title and publisher's info and immediately above the Table of Contents.) For a list of his later writings, see "The Later Ramsay: A Supplementary Bibliography of the Published Writings of Sir William Mitchell Ramsay" by Colin J. Hemer.


MORE RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 9:
*"ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONFIRMATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT: Resources for Study"

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WEEK 10: "Ancient Documents That Confirm the Gospels"
*MP3 Audio  
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).


RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 10:
"ANCIENT DOCUMENTS (BESIDES THE NEW TESTAMENT) THAT MENTION JESUS"

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WEEK 11: "Undesigned Coincidences"
*MP3 Audio 
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).



RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 11:
**"Peter's House" by Jerome Murphy-O'Connor: the article I mentioned that tells why Peter and Andrew moved from Bethsaida to Capernaum for a tax break on their fishing business.
*"UNDESIGNED COINCIDENCES"

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WEEK 12: "The Apostles: Dying to Tell the World"
*MP3 Audio 
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

*What is an apostle?: In the audio, I left out an important piece of the Biblical definition of an apostle. The Greek word for "apostle" (apostolos = ἀπόστολος) comes from the Greek verb meaning "to send" (apostello = ἀποστέλλω), which is found in Luke 9:1-2 when Jesus sends out the Twelve and in Luke 10:1 when Jesus sends out the seventy-two (and many other places). So the word apostle means "one who is sent" and is used in the New Testament to mean "one who is sent or commissioned as a witness to the resurrection of Jesus."

RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 12:
"THE INTENSE PERSECUTION OF THE EARLY CHURCH"


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WEEK 13: "How Only Jesus Fulfilled Ancient Prophecies of a Messiah"
*MP3 Audio 
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 13:
*Resources for the first point in the class: "HOW JESUS IS UNIQUE FROM ALL OTHER RELIGIOUS LEADERS....And Why That Matters
*MESSIANIC PROPHECY: an Introductory Article + Resources for Digging Deeper"


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WEEK 14: "Jesus' Amazing Miracles"
*MP3 Audio 
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 14:
*"Jesus' Amazing Miracles: The Evidence"

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WEEK 15: "Jesus Is Alive!"
*MP3 Audio 
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 15:
*"JESUS' RESURRECTION: Resources for Study"

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WEEK 16: "The Quadrilemma"
*MP3 Audio 
*PowerPoint Slideshow: When you click on this link, you will note the option at the top to "Open with Google Slides" or you may open with MS PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress (which is free).
*Class Handout
*I recommend opening the audio and using the PowerPoint Slideshow as you listen (and/or the handout).

RESOURCE LINKS FOR WEEK 16:
*Article: "Trilemma or Quadrilemma? Answering the 'Legend' Critique of C.S. Lewis's Trilemma" by Tom Gilson
*Essay: "Elephants and Fern-seed" by C.S. Lewis. Lewis' rebuttal of the idea that the Gospels are legends.
*Book: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (266 pages). 

  • Popular Level (verging on Nerd level): Older high school students & up
  • Available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle, & Audible. 
  • Also at OverDrive in ebook & audiobook
  • Or you can download it for FREE! in ebook or audiobook.

This book is perhaps the most important and influential Christian book written in the 20th Century. Lewis' skill as a writer and thinker is well known. The first section of this book focuses on what is known as the moral argument; so if issues of justice and morality are of great importance to you, you may find this book is a good place for you to start. Lewis also focuses on other apologetics arguments that are a matter of common experience. This book is a must read. Mere Christianity was chosen as one of the top 25 Christian books of all time by Christian History Magazine, which devoted an article to it that serves as a very nice introductionYou can find a brief biography of Lewis (and much more) here.



Image source: NASA