Ken Temple and “Good Science”: Debunking Another Christian Lie

Ken Temple and “Good Science”: Debunking Another Christian Lie

Originally posted on the Quran and Bible Blog

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.””

– Matthew 2:1-2

Magi_(1)

Figure 1 – “The Three Magi” from a Byzantine Mosaic from c. 565 CE (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_Magi)

            It just keeps getting worse for Kennywise. The guy is taking a pounding on BloggingTheology on all sorts of topics (theology, history, science, etc.), but his attempt at defending the unique birth narrative in the Gospel of Matthew truly serves as one of the best examples of how utterly lost and deluded this apologist really is.

            In one of his typical rants defending his idolatry (i.e., the worship of Jesus as “God”), he mentioned the story of the Magi.[1] This story is, like others, unique to the Gospel of Matthew. No other source in the New Testament mentions it or even hints at it. Here is how Matthew introduces these mysterious men:

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.””[2]

The NIV has a footnote denoting that “magi” were “wise men”.[3] While this may have been their reputation in the pagan cultures of the time, the reality is that they were anything but wise. Notice that verse 2 states clearly that these so-called “wise men” came to “worship” the baby Jesus (the Greek word for “worship” doesn’t necessarily mean that) after they “saw his star when it rose”. So, these men were nothing but superstitious pagans who used the stars to predict events or to serve as signs of a momentous event. Such a practice is known as “astrology”. Indeed, Christian sources admit that these men were actually astrologers. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines “magi” as the following:

“…the name given by the Babylonians (Chaldaeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to the wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augurs, soothsayers, sorcerers etc.”[4]

So, these so-called “wise men” were respected in the pagan cultures of Babylon, Media, and Persia. That should already raise a red flag: three pagans claimed they saw a “star” and came to worship a newborn baby as a god.[5]

            Rightfully so, the Bible condemns astrology as a pagan practice. On this, it agrees with the teachings of Islam:

“[a]ll the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you.”[6]

“So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed.”[7]

Using celestial bodies for such purposes or believing that they were signs of a momentous events was also condemned by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

“It is reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessing be upon him) observed: Allah does not shower His blessings from the heaven that in the morning a group of men disbelieve it (to be a blessing from Allah). Allah sends down rain, but they (the disbelievers) say: Such and such star (is responsible for that).”[8]

“Narrated Abu Mas`ud: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “the sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death or life of someone, but they are two signs amongst the Signs of Allah. So, if you see them, offer the Prayer (of eclipse).”[9]

There is no doubt that using astrology, the practice of interpreting the position or movement of stars as having some relation to events on earth, is categorically condemned.

            Of course, Temple already knows this, but in his blind zeal to defend the historicity of the Bible, he resorted to ridiculous arguments. One such argument was that these “Magi” had “repented” of their paganism:

“[t]he [sic] repented of their paganism and magic and astrology. God accepts the humble who admit their sins and accept Him on His terms.”[10]

But when pressed for evidence that these men had “repented”, all Temple could offer was that it was “implied” since they spent “so much effort to seek the Messiah out”. He also claimed (without evidence) that:

“[a]pparently, they had been studying the prophecy of Daniel in 9:24-27…”[11]

But if these people had studied the book of Daniel (this is just an assumption), they would have known that using the stars as guides for earthly events is an abominable pagan practice, and thus, would not have looked for a “star” as a sign of the Messiah in the first place. Also, as a challenge to Temple, I would like him to show us where in the book of Daniel or any book of the Bible was it prophesied that a “star” would signal the birth of the Messiah. Where is this prophecy? How did the pagan astrologers know to look for it?

            Unable to prove that the astrologers had repented, Temple was then faced with another problem: the “wise men” clearly used astrology to find the Messiah! And here is where Temple further descended into the realm of the absurd. He claimed that the Magi used “good science” to find the Messiah! In one of his most laughable comments, he stated:

“God uses nature / creation to reveal Himself. God can use good science, astronomy, to reveal Himself – as He did with the Magi. God speaks through creation and through dreams. God was not approving of the pagan astrology aspects of their former religion, but of the proper use of astronomy and honor to creation and God as creator of the sun and planets and stars, etc.  The star was a miracle star, a miraculous star that moved and showed them the way.”[12]

Anyone with even an entry-level knowledge of science would laugh at such a statement. Temple was confusing the legitimate scientific field of astronomy with the superstitious field of astrology. Indeed, this confusion was common in ancient times. As the Merriam-Webster Dictionary explains:

“[a]t one time, these two words actually were synonymous (that is, astronomy once meant what astrology means today), but they have since moved apart from each other. In current use, astronomy is concerned with “the study of objects and matter outside the earth’s atmosphere,” while astrology is the purported divination of how stars and planets influence our lives. Put bluntly, astronomy is a science, and astrology is not.”[13]

So, were the Magi using “good science” when they saw a “star” and excitedly went to look for the Messiah? Were they really “astronomers”? Clearly, this is an absurd claim. Astronomers do not use celestial bodies to predict events on earth or as signs for a specific event. This is what astrologers do. Therefore, the “Magi” were astrologers, pagan “wise men” who believed that stars could influence events on earth. Even church fathers like Justin Martyr nonchalantly acknowledged this. Justin, in his Dialogue with Trypho, stated:

“Now this king Herod, at the time when the Magi came to him from Arabia, and said they knew from a star which appeared in the heavens that a King had been born in your country…”[14]

            Ironically, the Catholic Encyclopedia accepts the fact that these Magi had used their “erroneous” art to find the Messiah. In other words, it acknowledges that these men used a pagan practice to find their god (emphasis mine):

“[t]he philosophy of the Magi, erroneous though it was, led them to the journey by which they were to find Christ. Magian astrology postulated a heavenly counterpart to complement man’s earthly self and make up the complete human personality. His “double” (the fravashi of the Parsi) developed together with every good man until death united the two. The sudden appearance of a new and brilliant star suggested to the Magi the birth of an important person. They came to adore him — i.e., to acknowledge the Divinity of this newborn King (vv. 2, 8, 11).”[15]

 This clearly contradicts Temple’s dishonest claims.

            Thus, assuming that the story has any historical truth (we will see shortly that it does not), the fact that 3 pagan men came to “worship” a newborn baby should make any reasonable person suspicious of their intentions. Indeed, if Mary was present at the scene, it is absurd to claim that she would have happily allowed these men to present “gifts” to her son. Being a staunch monotheist, the noble Mary would have rejected such gifts.

            But as it turns out, the story was most likely an invention of the author, perhaps copied from an actual event that occurred during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. As the late Geza Vermes observed (emphasis mine):

“[i]t is conceivable that another relatively recent event influenced Matthew and prompted him to introduce the Magi into his narrative.  This was the visit to Rome in the late 50s or early 60s AD of the Armenian king Tiridates and his courtiers, whom Pliny the Elder designates as Magi (Natural History 30:6, 16-17).  This Tiridates is said to have come to Rome to worship the emperor-god Nero in the same way as Matthew’s Magi came to worship the newborn Messiah of the Jews.  A further curious coincidence which may have caught Matthew’s attention is a detail noted by the Roman chronicler Cassius Dio.  After Tiridates  had been confirmed by Nero as king, this group of ‘Magi,’ like the ‘wise men’ of the New Testament, did not return by the same route as the one they followed coming to Rome (Roman History 63:1-7).”[16]

The similarities are obvious, but while the story in the Gospel of Matthew has no historical support, the meeting between Nero and Tiridates and his Magi is attested in multiple Roman sources. It seems likely then, that the author of the gospel used this familiar story as the backdrop for his made-up story of the Magi visiting Jesus (peace be upon him). Given “Matthew’s” tendency to include stories not found anywhere else (e.g., the “Massacre of the Innocents” by Herod), it seems likely that he simply made up the story. The influence of events in the Roman Empire, and the culture of the empire itself, are attested in many books of the New Testament. For example, the Roman belief in the return of Nero (Nero redivivus or Nero redux) clearly influenced the book of Revelation’s imagery of the “beast”.[17]

            In conclusion, Temple’s apologetic excuses are utterly ridiculous. His dishonesty and biases clearly show that he is not worthy of respect or trust. The man is an agent of evil. Thankfully, his lies are very easy to refute. Satan chose a really bad agent to spread his lies. And Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) knows best!’


[1] https://bloggingtheology.com/2020/03/27/the-contradiction-at-the-heart-of-the-new-treatment-st-paul-vs-matthew/comment-page-1/#comment-36273

[2] Matthew 2:1-2.

[3] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+2&version=NIV#fen-NIV-23171a

[4] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3097&t=NIV

[5] Strangely enough, Mary was obviously present at the birth and would have witnessed these pagan “wise men” “worshiping” her son. Yet, we are told that in his adulthood, Jesus’ family claimed he was “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). This is proof that the author of “Mark” did not know the story of the Magi and that it was invented by Matthew (or he took it from a different source).

[6] Isaiah 47:13.

[7] Daniel 2:2. Notice that it was Nebuchadnezzar who summoned the astrologers to interpret his dreams. Of course, these astrologers failed, and it was Daniel who was able to tell the king what the dream actually meant. Daniel was not an astrologer. It is interesting that the book of Daniel itself condemns astrology, and it serves to refute one of Temple’s pathetic arguments in support of the Magi, as we will see.

[8] Sahih Muslim, 1:139, https://sunnah.com/muslim/1/139.

[9] Sahih Bukhari, 59:15, https://sunnah.com/bukhari/59/15.

[10] https://bloggingtheology.com/2020/03/27/the-contradiction-at-the-heart-of-the-new-treatment-st-paul-vs-matthew/comment-page-1/#comment-36284

[11] The alleged “prophecy” that the “Anointed One” would be “cut-off” has been discussed here: https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/01/the-anointed-one-will-be-cut-off-a-response-to-ken-temple-and-the-christian-abuse-of-daniel-926/

[12] https://bloggingtheology.com/2020/03/27/the-contradiction-at-the-heart-of-the-new-treatment-st-paul-vs-matthew/comment-page-1/#comment-36293

[13] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/astrology

[14] Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 78, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/01286.htm.

[15] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09527a.htm

[16] Geza Vermes, The Nativity: History and Legend (London: Penguin Books, 2006), p. 112.

[17] For a discussion of this, see here: https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/the-book-of-revelation/

 



Categories: Bible, Catholic, Christianity, God, Gospels, Hadith, History, Islam, Jesus, Judaism, Muhammad, Science

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83 replies

  1. @ QB

    Jokes on you ha! Jesus’s (as) alleged birth is foretold by astrologers (i.e magicians):

    “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.””

    While the Hebrew Bible says:

    “‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:31)

    Whoever turns to mediums or spiritists to prostitute himself with them, I will also set My face against that person and cut him off from his people. (Leviticus 20:6)

    It’s just another case of all that intertextuality!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Why do you have a star on top of your mosques?

    It’s easy to compile a list of pre-Islamic pagan practice and later Muhammad did the same thing.

    Like

    • @ Star Wars

      Ooooorrrr if you weren’t stupid you would know:

      1.Its a moon not a star
      2. This symbol was the symbol of the Ottomans that ignorant people associated with Islam later

      #Christianapologistarestupid

      Liked by 4 people

    • Christian apologetics in a nutshell:

      1. Deflect
      2. Use ignorant arguments

      As Stew said, the crescent moon symbol was adopted by the Ottomans. This is well known. While it’s better not to use such symbols, as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) didn’t use them, there is nothing inherently wrong with using it.

      Liked by 3 people

      • @ QB

        The problem is not only did this moron deflect (like they ALWAYS do) he claimed Muhammad(saw) used the moon flag fron pre-islamic practices that a simple 2 min Google search would have shown not to be true. So once again

        #Christianapologistarestupid

        Liked by 2 people

      • @ QB

        Also as a ps not EVERY mosque has it over them. For example, in my city their are like 20 and only 1 has a crescent on it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a lie from hell. Many mosques also have a star. That was my question, why do you have a star? According to this article, you follow stars like the pagans. Maybe they are not real Muslims 😁.

    That the same thing that Muslim do every single day. Ok, I’m convinced. I’m ready to take the shahada.

    Faiz you’re truly a genius. God gift to Islam lol. Praise God for stupid Muslim apologist.

    Like

  4. I hope you don’t spend a lot of your time on one article.

    Since it’s funny as it does not take long to expose you.

    Thank you for confirming you have stars on top of your mosques. Muslim go towards a mosque with a star on top of it and worship. And when wise men do something quite similar, you claim it is pagan.

    Thank you for proving your a pagan.

    Even if you claim the star has nothing to do with Islam. You’re still doing a pagan practice. That claim actually makes it worst for you. But you’re so dumb, you don’t even realise it.

    Like

    • ROTFL! Thank you for proving that you have no argument and are just babbling mindlessly. Non sequiturs, ignorance, stupidity…this is all you Christian morons have left.

      What is inherently “pagan” about using a moon and star as a symbol? True, they were used by pagans in the past, but so what? To Muslims, the moon and stars are creations of Allah (swt). We believe they have no control or influence in our lives, only Allah does. Get it, moron?

      To me, it’s better not to use any symbol at all because Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) didn’t use one. But there isn’t anything inherently sinful in using such symbols, so long as they remain as such. If people start believing that they have some power, then that would be sinful.

      You’re so dumb, you don’t even realize it. No wonder Christianity is losing so many adherents and the church pews are empty. Christianity has run out of arguments and the best Christians can do is make silly arguments for the sake of arguing.

      Try to think for once, stupid. Get your head out of your butt and use your brain. You’re making a fool of yourself with such childish arguments.

      Now, can you actually refute the topic of the article, instead of deflecting like a coward? Why does your gospel rely on the testimony of 3 pagans who used a pagan practice to find their baby god? Why is the story clearly made-up, being copied from pagan Roman sources? Now don’t run away with your tail between your legs. Try to man-up and use the 1 brain cell you might have left. 😉

      Liked by 3 people

      • Let see what the great scholar Faiz have to say about it.

        “True, they were used by pagans in the past, but so what? To Muslims, the moon and stars are creations of Allah (swt). We believe they have no control or influence in our lives, only Allah does. Get it, moron?

        To me, it’s better not to use any symbol at all because Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) didn’t use one. But there isn’t anything inherently sinful in using such symbols, so long as they remain as such. If people start believing that they have some power, then that would be sinful.”

        Sound like Faiz is refuting himself Lol. What a gift from God to Islam

        Actually Faiz I want you to have a long career as an apologist. You will cause more harm to Islam than good.

        Well, that was easy. Praise the Lord for an idiot like you.

        Please don’t debate some like Sam Shamoun. I don’t want him to end your career. I want you to have a long career. You will be a useful idiot for us all your life. Lol

        As long as you don’t repent from your satanic cult. May the Lord keep using you to expose the stupidity of Islam. Amen 😁😂

        Like

      • 🤣🤣 Still deflecting! Boy, you guys are truly a godsend! No substance, just empty words.

        And don’t worry. Scam Shamoun has been just as impotent against me as you have. Mouthing off, chest-thumping… that’s it. No intellect. If this is the best Christianity has to offer, then Christianity is dead meat. Alhamdulillah!

        Now, moron. I know you’re scared. But try to deal with the topic. Non sequiturs and empty words will not save you. Use that 1 brain cell. Pretty please?

        Liked by 1 person

      • @ Star Worshipper
        You didn’t answer my question future fuel. Can you provide us a hadith in which Muhammad(saw) put a star on top of a mosque? This should be easy because according to you this is the symbol of Islam

        #Christianapologistarestupid

        Liked by 1 person

      • This future fuel of hell would have made a grand “wise man” (magi). 😂😂

        Like

      • Star Wars: Please don’t debate some like Sam Shamoun. I don’t want him to end your career.

        Yeah, like debating Shamoun has resulted in numerous Muslims losing their jobs, family, bank accounts, etc. Not really. No one gives a crap about Shamoun other than random idiots on the internet such as yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know, right? These losers think that debating Shamoun would either propel or end someone “career”. Well actually, I already have a career and it has nothing to do with blogging or debating. Like a real man, I have a respectable job. I provide for my family. I don’t beg for donations from random people who couldn’t tell the difference between their rear-ends and a hole in the ground. 😂

        By the way, Star worshiper, are you the dishwasher who visited before and then ran away like a frightened dog? Speak boy, speak!

        Liked by 1 person

      • @ QB

        Dang so are you saying this is something you just do for fun and are STILL slapping around the guy who is funded by multiple private institutions while still asking his gullible audience for money?

        https://islamophobianetwork.com/

        Click to access Network-Against-Islamophobia-FAQ.pdf

        Liked by 1 person

    • @ Star Worshipper

      Before I bury you in an avalanche of references and we all have a laugh at your expense. Can you show everyone a hadith in which Muhammad(saw) put a “star” (really a crescent moon) on top of the mosque? 🤔🤔🤔We’re all very eager to see it.

      Liked by 3 people

    • The fact that you monkeys can’t refute these articles, and instead deflect, shows that the articles have hit a nerve. I tell ya. There is nothing more satisfying that seeing a pagan desperately deflecting from the silly stories in the Bible. 🤭

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I never argued that astrology was good science rather astronomy was.

    God revealed himself through nature and used the magi‘s investigation/ observations God revealed himself through a miracle star.

    God was not approving of astrology but rather using nature in spite of their false religion and lead them to the true Messiah and they repented of their false religion and repented of astrology.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sobh bekheir Ken

      “….the magi‘s investigation/ observations”

      Their investigation/ observations=Astrology

      “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Lord was using nature and creation to lead them out of their false religion -God can do that.

        God led them to the true messiah.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ken جناب So we can identify who and who has been born just by looking at the stars? If that’s not astrology then what is it?

        Liked by 3 people

      • But perhaps we should also ask what the function of the “magoi narrative” is: what message is Matthew trying to convey with this story and how does it fit the overall narrative that Matthew is trying to construct.

        Like

      • Marc, who the hell cares? It was most likely a made up story, so whatever “Matthew” was trying to convey was based on a lie. Why should anyone care what the “function” was, besides out of curiosity?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kennywise is once again trying to cover his initial lie with more lies.

        Like

      • Well, because not all readings of Matt. 2:1-12 understand the “magoi” to be “wise” or “discerning” as some recent scholarship has come to conclude.

        Powell, for example, argues that Matthew’s portrayal of the magi exposes them as rather ignorant. First, he argues that, at the time in the Greco-Roman world, evaluation of magian knowledge was mixed, some being positive some being rather negative (discussing evidence found in Cicero, Tacitus and Pliny). He further argues from Philo, rabbinic and biblical texts that magian knowledge, here, is not portrayed very positively (cf. the Pharaoh’s “wise men sorcerers” who sometimes make things worse or Balaam, the “seer” who cannot see what his ass perceives).

        The magi in Matt., he argues, are portrayed as ignorant: they don’t know where the child is, so they have to ask around. They think he is “king of the Jews” a political identification that in Matthew reflects the point of view of those who do not understand who Jesus is or what he is about. In contrast, even Herod realizes that it must be the “Christ” who is born. Herod’s priests and scribes are, however, able to pinpoint the birthplace of Jesus’ to Bethlehem. The magi cannot find the child by their own powers or astrological calculations, but are led, quite literally, to the doorstep, by the star.

        They seem not to realize that Herod might not be a fan of hearing that “the King of the Jews” was born, a position that he himself is supposed to hold. Herod even initially “dupes” the magi to search out and disclose the child’s whereabouts so that he too may “worship” the child. The magi, however, are not portrayed as seeing through Herod’s scheme; and in their wisdom realized that should not go back to Herod: rather, they are warned in a dream and so take a different route home.

        In sum, the magi and their “skills” he argues are not portrayed as wise men, but rather as ignorant. Powell further argues, from Matthean texts, how this fits well with Matthew’s overall worldview in a at time inverted pattern.

        Much more might be added and other reading are also possible. To me, however, this indicates, the importance of understanding what Matthew is trying to communicate and how it ties in with the overall message he tries to convey.

        MARK ALLAN POWELL, The Magi as Wise Men: Re-examining a Basic Supposition New Testament Studies, 46, 2000, pp. 1-20.

        Like

      • Not surprising that this is a modern interpretation using some non-Christian sources as proof. I referred to Justin Martyr who didn’t seem to have a problem with the Magi. To him, they were proof that Jesus was divine.

        Frankly, this interpretation is, I think, a nice attempt at sugar-coating the story and it doesn’t make logical sense.

        1. The Magi managed to track down the Christ child by following a star for several hundred or thousand miles. That’s pretty impressive. Just because they didn’t know where exactly to find him doesn’t make them “ignorant”.
        2. I agree that such people are denounced in the Bible, but there is no evidence that Matthew saw them that way.
        3. I don’t see how not using astrological “calculations” makes them “ignorant”. They followed a star all the way from their homeland!
        4. Being warned in a dream doesn’t mean they are “ignorant”. Joseph was warned in dreams as well. If anything, it proves they were divinely guided and despite their own shortcoming and unwittingly walking into danger, they were still saved.

        Of course, none of this changes the fact that the story is most likely made up anyway. So whatever Matthew’s goal was is frankly irrelevant. Making up stories pretty much destroys your credibility, in my view.

        Liked by 2 people

      • @Marc C.

        In all honesty Matthew was probably looking for a way to write in the fulfillment of another messianic prophecy and thought the story sounded nice in the narrative. To put it simply anyway.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Prophecy

        I think this theory makes a lot of sense given Matthew’s M.O in the rest of the gospel.

        https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/the-gospel-of-matthew-and-tanakhic-prophecies-of-the-messiah/

        Liked by 1 person

      • The way I read it, it is not so much a “sugarcoating” of the text but, rather he tries to address elements in the text in which the magi are portrayed as less than wise and discerning. They are ignorant of where he was born, they are ignorant of the nature of his kingship as “king of the Jews” (ignorance is a point also noted by other scholars, such as Mobbs) and it is Herod who actually directs them to Bethlehem. They come across as less than discrete in seeking out the child not realizing their queries in fact endangers the child and they show no awareness of Herod’s plan. They may be guided, but as wise, discerning and knowing men they come across as somewhat incompetent or innocent. I am not questioning that the magi were saved or guided, but their “skillset” seem to be portrayed as less than impressive and once they have fulfilled their role they disappear from view playing no further role.

        n non-Christian sources and Matthew seeing them “that way”: Again, in the paper I referenced, Powell argues that the view of magian knowledge at the time and place is at best ambiguous, but more probably he argues, in a prior and much more detailed article, the expectations towards such knowledge and characters was negative, among Matthew’s implied audience. And this might be discerned in Matt. 2:1-12. In both papers he argues with specific examples in Matthew of how this well ties in well with Matthew’s message.

        Other interpretations are also possible, though I’m not sure if there is any point in discussing this if “whatever Matthew’s goal was is frankly irrelevant”. I would tend to think that trying to understand what he wants to communicate would be a fundamental point of interpretation. Especially if one wishes to argue for a certain view of the “wise men”, regardless what else one thinks of Matthew and I think Powell addresses this in a constructive manner.

        MARK ALLAN POWELL, The Magi as Kings: An Adventure in Reader-Response Criticism, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 3 (July 2000), pp. 459-480.

        Frank, Mobbs, The Meaning of the Visit of the Magi New Blackfriars, Vol. 87, No. 1012 (NOVEMBER 2006), pp. 593-604

        Like

      • Marc, yeah, it’s irrelevant what he was trying to achieve if he made up a story to achieve it. You might have no problem with people using forged verses or stories to deceive people into accepting their worldview, but I do. So frankly, your explanation is absurd and definitely seeks to sugarcoat a clear example of Biblical myth-making.

        You also seem to be confusing “ignorance” with religious fervor. Like I said, these guys managed to track down their baby god simply by using a star. That’s no small feat. But in their religious fervor, they didn’t realize that there might be people who would be threatened by the Christ child. That doesn’t make them “ignorant”, just foolish.

        Now of course, since they weren’t Jews, it’s understandable that they didn’t know alot about the Messiah. All they knew was that he had been born because they saw his star. I would like to see you pull off such a feat. Then you can say that the Magi were “ignorant”.

        I see you have to yet to even deal with the similarities between Matthew’s story with the meeting of Nero and Tiridates, which unlike Matthew’s version, is attested in multiple sources.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @Vaqas

        Yes, I agree it is possible that Matthew wished to write in a fulfillment of the star prophecy. But there is no fulfillment quotation of the prooftext as in other of the fulfillment prophecies in Matthew. Since the foretelling or seeing of a special child by wise men/astronomers, such as e.g., by Pharaoh’s learned scribe of Moses’ birth in Josephus (Antiquitates. 2, 205) was quite common and possibly such births were connected to stars and celestial bodies as well [1] it is not clear to me that Matthew’s intended audience was supposed to make this specific connection, beyond this popular motif, when the specific prooftext was not explicitly cited. In any case, in this respect it appears to me that stand out from “Matthew’s M.O”.

        As to possible textual history behind the present text behind Matt. 2:1-12: I haven’t looked closely into it and I’m really not very knowledgeable about. But if you’re interested in the source critical issues, redactional history etc. you may find interesting Luz’s commentary (p. 102ff) and Nolland’s article as well as the bibliography cited there.

        [1] Cf. Sotah 12a-b, birth of Moses; birth of Muhammad in Sirat Rasul Allah, Guillame p. 69 and cf. Feldman for further examples and literature e.g., on Nimrod’s “astrologers” and the star in connection with Abraham’s birth also found in Muslim source according to Hauglid)

        Louis H. Feldman, Josephus’ Portrait of Moses The Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. 82, No. 3/4 (Jan. – Apr., 1992), pp. 285-328.

        B. Hauglid, “On the Early Life of Abraham: Biblical and Qur’Anic Intertextuality and the Anticipation of Muhammad”, in ed. John reeves, Bible and Qur’ān: Essays in Scriptural Intertextuality, pp. 87-105

        JOHN NOLLAND, “The Sources for Matthew 2:1-12”, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 60, No. 2 (April 1998), pp. 283-300.

        U. Luz: “Matthew 1-7”, Hermenia Series, 2007.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Again, it is not about “sugarcoating”, it is about how best to understand Matthew 2:1-12s portrayal of the magi. But if you now agree that the magi come across as “foolish” that is exactly the point that Powell is arguing: namely that the supposedly “wise men” are portrayed as foolish and that this was probably the expectation of Matthew’s intended audience.

        The issue of Tiridates was already dealt with by Powell within a larger context of ancient texts dealing with magi. You can see all the texts he discusses in the two papers cited above.

        Like

      • You are much too quick to accept any theory, no matter how presumptuous, as long as it might explain what the author was intending. Again, if the author was making things up, then what difference does it make what he was intending? If he was lying, they why does it matter? You haven’t answered this question.

        And no, I don’t agree with Powell. Stop putting words in my mouth. I clearly criticized the frankly absurd argument that these pagan astrologers managed to track down an infant by traversing thousands of miles were somehow “ignorant”. Again, if you (or Powell) can match their skills, I’d love to see that.

        I said they were “foolish” due to their religious fervor. That’s understandable. They were excited. Using your argument, we could say that Mary and Joseph were “ignorant” for not realizing the threat that Herod posed. It took a warning from God to get them to escape to Egypt. Given the similar circumstances, it seems the author was comparing the Magi to Mary and Joseph. They were all faithful people who were blinded by their religious fervor, at least to Matthew. That doesn’t make them ignorant.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t see any explanation about the similarities between Matthew’s story and the historical meeting between Nero and Tiridates. All I saw was a discussion of Roman and Jewish views on Magi. Pliny does criticize the Magi, but that doesn’t change the fact that he mentioned them as accompanying Tiridates. And Cassius Dio said they went home through a different route. It’s far too coincidental that a similar story occurred vis a vis the Magi visiting Jesus. Given Matthew’s proclivity to make things up (eg the massacre of the Innocents, the dead rising after the crucifixion, etc.), it seems likely that he borrowed the Tiridates story with some changes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @ QB

        Marc the type of dude to say it’s okay that the Catholic Church lied about “miracles” so that people’s faith could increase.

        https://www.biblestudytools.com/classics/warfield-counterfeit-miracles/roman-catholic-miracles.html

        Liked by 1 person

      • But, but, but…we must look at why the church would do that! What was the purpose? The ends justify the means!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am not arguing the point of whether the story was constructed entirely by Matthew or if there was a prior textual and redactional (not to mention religio-ideological) history behind the present text of 2:1-12. I gave a few references above to discussions of source-critical and redactional issues (to which add the bibliography in Powell, p. 3, note 7). I don’t claim to be knowledgable about this, nor do I have any strong opinion on it. What I do find interesting is how Matthew portrayed the magi and how his intended audience might have 2:1-12.

        You may certainly argue the point, that Matthew invented the story, but then the question – once more – becomes, what was he trying to achieve and why did he tell the story in the particular manner he did?

        There are similarities with Tiridates as Powell discusses specifically on p. 463-465 and p. 5-6. Nobody is denying that. And I don’t deny the possibility that Matthew drew on earlier material to construct this story. I never did.

        The magi we may assume followed a star they had seen or had some more general information of where to go. How they knew more specifically we are not told. Whatever the case, they did not get it exactly right. But as “wise men” they are not portrayed as very competent whether acting foolishly out “religious fervor” or not, their ignorance and naiveté on a number of points certainly makes this reading quite legitimate as far as I am concerned. Further, magian knowledge, on the whole, was not, as Powell demonstrates, from the historical sources viewed very positively and consequently this is how Matthew’s intended audience understood it.

        Incidentally, it is not about if I or Powell could match those skills. In a narrative universe, given a similar function we might fill out such a role.

        Mary and Joseph are not portrayed as wise men and they were not, as far as we can tell, going around talking about the special child, drawing attention to it. The magi as wise men, should act wisely, but when acting on their own, they never manage to get things quite right. It is rather ironic, for example, that it is Herod, who has to direct the “wise men” to Bethlehem (Matt. 2:8).

        Again, other interpretations are possible but I don’t feel ignoring whatever point Matthew wishes communicate is particularly helpful in trying to understand the text.

        Like

      • Again, what the hell difference does it make as to what he was trying to achieve? How does that change the fact that he made up a story to serve as religions propaganda?

        Your argument that “wise men” should be essentially perfect and should not make mistakes is duly noted.

        It’s ironic that you think you can claim that astrologers using a star to travel thousands of miles are “ignorant” but shy away from admitting that you couldn’t do as such. Of course, I am not saying using stars as signs is correct. Realistically, they would not have been able to find the Messiah using a star. That’s why the story is absurd to begin with. But since they were not residents of Palestine, it’s understandable that they needed help finding the exact location of the Messiah. Your expectations of them are absurd.

        My point about Mary and Joseph is that they should have known better than the Magi about the possible dangers. Yet, it took a divine warning to get to them Egypt. Both groups had been warned in dreams or visions, so it seems to me that Matthew was comparing their situations.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @ Marc

        I don’t think there’s that much mystery involved:

        “I REALLY want my audience to believe Jesus(as) is the Messiah. Ahem, look ya’ll even these three wise men came following a star and bowed before him with gifts and he was just a baby. You should be doing even more.”

        This isn’t even Scooby-Doo level. He lied about Jesus(as), so people would believe. Fin.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well of course, it is “religious propaganda”, so Matthew, presumably, is trying to communicate his theological message in a way that he believes best achieves his objective.

        It could be a type scene; Matthew could have written the narrative on models of earlier stories; he could have redacted it out of earlier sources to fit his own purposes or he could have crafted the narrative entirely himself, etc.

        But since we are dealing with a narrative universe, the magi could have acted quite differently and more wisely if Matthew wished to portray them in this way. So I assume there is an intention and a purpose behind the present description in Matthew and it is the task of the interpreter to try and understand the text. In such a narrative universe, the star could have led them directly to the child, they might have found out the correct location by their own powers, a revelation could have warned them to be discrete, disclosed that it was actually the Messiah, etc.

        However one imagines the text to have been created, the portrayal and results of the magis’ actions is not particularly positive when it could have been positive or neutral.

        Yes, the magi receive a revelation, as does Joseph to leave for Egypt. When the magis receive clear revelations they act accordingly. But when they act without clear orders from above, the consequences of their actions endangers the special child, reveals their lack of appreciation of the situation and seems rather incautious. Whether or not Mary and Joseph should have known better than the magi is not clear to me from the narrative, but the context of Joseph’s revelation is due to the magis’ indiscrete and incautious M.O. Had they acted more cautiously the family might not have had to escape in the first place and accordingly receive a revelation to do so, so I don’t read this as reflecting positively on the magi.

        Like

      • By the way, Matthew 2:16 says that Herod had been “outwitted” by the Magi. The Greek word is empaizo, which Thayer’s Lexicon defines as “to delude, deceive”. So, Herod was apparently tricked by these supposedly “ignorant” and incompetent Magi. Their cleverness can be seen in that they took a different route home. The divine warning did not tell them to do that. They did that themselves.

        Like

      • @ QB

        Alright, tag you’re in. I personally don’t care to research lies or why somebody lied so this one’s all you. Let me know what you find.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lol, I’ll get on it later, inshaAllah.

        Like

      • “Well of course, it is “religious propaganda”, so Matthew, presumably, is trying to communicate his theological message in a way that he believes best achieves his objective.”

        Thank you. So “Matthew” was lying. That’s been my point the whole time. So whatever his reason was to “best achieve his objective” is completely irrelevant to me. I couldn’t care less about his motivation if it is clear that he made the story up.

        “It could be a type scene; Matthew could have written the narrative on models of earlier stories; he could have redacted it out of earlier sources to fit his own purposes or he could have crafted the narrative entirely himself, etc.”

        No other source in the Bible or in other Jewish or Christian sources mentions anything remotely similar to the story of the Magi. The only possible source for this story would have been the historical meeting between Nero and Tiridates. It would have been well-known that the Roman emperor had blessed the ascension of an Armenian king. Armenia was an important buffer state between Rome and Parthia (see Nigel Ridgers, “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire”, p. 125). So, this was big political news.

        And since the meeting with Tiridates is said to have occurred around 66 CE (Rodgers, p. 125), though Vermes said it happened anywhere from the late 50s to the early 60s, whereas the date of composition of “Matthew” is usually placed in the 70s (see the NABRE Commentary, p. 1447), it seems likely that the author used the earlier meeting of Nero and Tiridates as the inspiration for his story.

        “But since we are dealing with a narrative universe, the magi could have acted quite differently and more wisely if Matthew wished to portray them in this way. So I assume there is an intention and a purpose behind the present description in Matthew and it is the task of the interpreter to try and understand the text. In such a narrative universe, the star could have led them directly to the child, they might have found out the correct location by their own powers, a revelation could have warned them to be discrete, disclosed that it was actually the Messiah, etc.”

        Your demands of the Magi are absurd. The fact that they were able to figure out that an important person had just been born, using simply a star (it’s absurd, I know) and track him down to the general area, I don’t see how you could say they were “ignorant”. They were most likely Persians. It’s understandable that they didn’t know all the details about where the Messiah was supposed to be born.

        “However one imagines the text to have been created, the portrayal and results of the magis’ actions is not particularly positive when it could have been positive or neutral.”

        Whether positive or negative, I couldn’t care less. The story was made-up. That’s what matters. It was an invention of the author. His credibility is in the dumpster.

        “Yes, the magi receive a revelation, as does Joseph to leave for Egypt. When the magis receive clear revelations they act accordingly. But when they act without clear orders from above, the consequences of their actions endangers the special child, reveals their lack of appreciation of the situation and seems rather incautious. Whether or not Mary and Joseph should have known better than the magi is not clear to me from the narrative, but the context of Joseph’s revelation is due to the magis’ indiscrete and incautious M.O. Had they acted more cautiously the family might not have had to escape in the first place and accordingly receive a revelation to do so, so I don’t read this as reflecting positively on the magi.”

        Of course, Mary and Joseph should have known better. You don’t need the “narrative” to tell you that. Mary was visited by an angel announcing the birth of this “special child”! You don’t think she should have known better than to stay in the territory of a tyrant like Herod? You don’t that Joseph should have immediately realized the danger they were in, especially since as Israelites, they would have known how the Moses was in danger when he was born?

        To blame the Magi for their predicament is absurd. They merely came to visit the newborn Messiah. They weren’t his security detail. That wasn’t their job. And if “Matthew” wanted to depict them as incompetent foreigners who didn’t know what they were doing, which I haven’t yet seen any evidence for, it is still irrelevant because the story was made-up. It didn’t happen. So who cares what the motivation was? Curiosity would be the only reason to spend time trying to figure out what made the author tick.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @ Marc

        I agree with QB here, we’re not reading something like the Illiad or Shakespeare the authors straight up lied to their audience about an event and this lie STILL continues to this day (with some like Kennywise using this as a “proof’ for their evil in worshiping a human). Why they felt the need to embellish whether ignorance, extremism, they thought the real story just wasn’t juicy enough or their wife called them to go get something to eat doesn’t matter.

        Liked by 1 person

    • If your god used a star as a sign to guide some pagans, then he was not using “good science”, dummy. Face it. You are an idiot.

      You haven’t answered my challenge. How did the pagan astrologers know to look for a particular star? Where was that prophesied?

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is fair enough you agree with QB, no problem.

      The point of disagreement or discussion was never the historicity of the narrative. You may have discussed this issue with Ken Temple, or others, I don’t remember.

      What I have consistently argued is that the portrayal of the magi within the narrative universe of 2:1-12 – over which Matthew presumably had some control or influence – can be read as not wholly positive.Their actions endanger the special child and they don’t come across as acting in a particular wise, discerning and discreet manner. What caused Matthew to portray it this way? Further, as Powell argues, magi were not particularly positively viewed at the time. Probably, the intended audience did not have “great” expectations of these magi. Of course there is much more one can say about their role, their intention to “worship”, their gifts, the relationship of this text to other texts and in particular the descriptions of knowledge and discernment in Matthew and those who possess it, as discussed by Powell. I see that much literature has been written on these matters, and this might be interesting to pursue, if one wishes a fuller understanding of Matthew’s narrative further.

      Yes, in Matt. 2:16, Herod himself came to the conclusion that magi tricked him, when they did not return, but it was still because the magi were told not to do so in a dream. And again, had they acted wisely and discreetly to begin with all of this could potentially have been avoided.

      Like

      • The topic of the article was indeed the historicity of the narrative. I think it has been sufficiently proven that “Matthew” not only had “some control”, he made the whole thing up.

        Given that this is virtually undeniable, I fail to see the relevance of what the purpose of the story was. I agree with Stew. It’s not like this was just a harmless piece of fictional literature which was treated as such. People believe that this book is historically reliable and they attempt to mislead others into believing that too.

        Again, your demands of the Magi are absurd and unreasonable. You may expect virtual perfection from these men, but I see no reason to demand that. They were clever and “wise” enough to outwit Herod. If anything, it seems to me that Herod was the goofball. This guy had considerable power. Why didn’t he just send spies to follow the Magi and report back? It’s another plot hole in a very poorly constructed story.

        Like

      • What I mean is that our disagreement and discussion was never about the historicity. I don’t remember if you had that discussion with Ken Temple or somebody else. I commented more specifically on the portrayal and role of the wise men, in the astrology/astronomy context of the discussion. .

        And yes, I agree, Herod could have taken more measures, as he is portrayed as a new Pharaoh – one more villain who failed to get the rid of a special child by infanticide (cf. Josephus mentioned above).

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Paul Williams –

    what happened to your YouTube account on your videos?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ken جناب So we can identify who and who has been born just by looking at the stars? If that’s not astrology then what is it?

    Except God, in His mercy, overlooks the wrong aspects of the astrology and points them to the true way and the true Messiah, leading them out of whatever was false in their former religion.

    God was using nature and creation, (see Psalm 19:1 and Romans 1:19-21) plus the miraculous nature of that moving star to show them the way out of their false religion; it is not approving of astrology.

    The Jews were in Persia in Daniel’s day, and Daniel made a prophesy of the Messiah who would come and be cut off and have nothing, being the atonement for sin (Daniel 9:24-27).

    Apparently they had been passing down the prophecy for generations, and God revealed Himself in the miracle star to show them the way to the true Messiah and fulfillment of the prophecy.

    Like

    • Kennywise just mindlessly repeats the same nonsense. As I said, I suspect this is really just to convince himself. I doubt he is stupid enough (maybe he is) to think that rational people will read his responses and somehow say “hallelujah!”

      But thank you for admitting that your god used pagan practices to “lead” some pagans out of their traditional paganism into Christian paganism.

      I’m still waiting for the proof that these pagan Magi were reading Daniel, especially since Daniel clearly condemns astrology. Why then were these guys still using astrology?

      And finally, I’m also waiting for an answer to the challenge of how these Magi even knew to look for a particular star as a sign of the Messiah?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. @Ken Temple

    “Except God, in His mercy, overlooks the wrong aspects of the astrology and points them to the true way and the true Messiah, leading them out of whatever was false in their former religion.”

    Deuteronomy 18:10-12
    “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.”

    Isaiah 47:12-15
    “Keep on, then, with your magic spells
    and with your many sorceries,
    which you have labored at since childhood.
    Perhaps you will succeed,
    perhaps you will cause terror.
    13 All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!
    Let your astrologers come forward,
    those stargazers who make predictions month by month,
    let them save you from what is coming upon you.
    14 Surely they are like stubble;
    the fire will burn them up.
    They cannot even save themselves
    from the power of the flame.
    These are not coals for warmth;
    this is not a fire to sit by.
    15 That is all they are to you—
    these you have dealt with
    and labored with since childhood.
    All of them go on in their error;
    there is not one that can save you.”

    Doesn’t sound like God is willing to overlook astrology to me Ken.

    “The Jews were in Persia in Daniel’s day, and Daniel made a prophesy of the Messiah who would come and be cut off and have nothing, being the atonement for sin (Daniel 9:24-27).

    Apparently they had been passing down the prophecy for generations, and God revealed Himself in the miracle star to show them the way to the true Messiah and fulfillment of the prophecy.”

    You’re citation of daniel as prophecy aside(see https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-book-of-daniel/ and https://quranandbibleblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/01/the-anointed-one-will-be-cut-off-a-response-to-ken-temple-and-the-christian-abuse-of-daniel-926/ )

    the verses you cited don’t say anything about the messiah being related to a star. Therefore the only way the magi could have come to their conclusions is using astrology.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Vaqas. I couldn’t have said it better. Kennywise just refuses to accept facts and would rather live in his fantasy world where God allows the use of pagan practices to encourage the worship of a baby god. Seriously, how stupid do you have to be to not be disgusted by this story?

      Liked by 2 people

    • The Jews in Persian had the prophecy of Messiah to come and be “cut off” and also they had the Torah and Numbers 24:17 was probably another indication of “the star that shall arise out of Jacob”.

      The message of truth was being shared with the Persians, Medes (modern day Kurds come from the Medes) and other ethnicities within the Persian Empire for generations.

      Like

      • @Ken Temple

        Just so we’re clear you’re now saying the magi had access to Numbers 24:17?

        Liked by 2 people

      • And that is just one more piece of evidence that Kennywise is a fraud. Notice how he just assumes things and feels no need to prove them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The “cut-off” so-called “prophecy” was only written in the 2nd century during the Seleucid oppression of the Jews. It was not written in Persia.

        Numbers 24:17 cannot be referring to Jesus since the context refers to a conqueror:

        “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth. 

        18 Edom will be conquered; Seir, his enemy, will be conquered, but Israel will grow strong. 

        19 A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city.”

        Plus, this “prophecy” was made by Balaam. Are you telling us that the only sign of some stupid star was mentioned by an evil false prophet and then still didn’t even apply to the Messiah? Seriously Ken, how stupid are you? And do you really think we are as stupid as you?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not only the context is different, it just doesn’t sound like something someone would understand as or expect to be a literal star

        Liked by 2 people

      • Eisegesis in action. You’re right. If it was a prophecy about a literal star, it was laughably vague, as most so-called “prophecies” from the Bible tend to be.

        Liked by 3 people

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