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Switch to Forum Live View Another contradiction in the Bible: John the Baptist
7 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 12:39PM #1
sirjacen
Posts: 963
In looking more closely at Matthew 11, I don't think it's necessarily doubting that the event took place, but just that John doubted his understanding of what took place.

Verse 6 might be one key here.  Jesus says blessed are those who do not take offense of what he is doing.  I don't know greek, but the word is "skandalizo" and one definition given in Strong's is "to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority."  Again, I'm not a Greek scholar, but in this sense of the word we see that John seems to have disapproved of certain things that Jesus was doing.  Both Mark and Luke record a conflict where John's disciples and (the disciples of the Pharisee's) are fasting, yet Jesus' disciples aren't.  Jesus did other "scandalous" things that might have given John seeds of doubt.  Verses 18 and 19 contrast John and Jesus directly...John didn't party, but Jesus ate and drank with sinners.

So, while John remembers what he saw, Jesus' actions bring that authority into question in his eyes, it seems.  He doesn't dismiss it, though, he seeks Jesus' answer because of this seeming disconnect between who he thought and claimed Jesus to be and how Jesus was going about getting it done.  Jesus' answer seems to say something like "I know how it looks...I'm doing some things differently than God told you to live...but 'the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.'  People are being made whole...I am the one you prepared the way for."


peace...jason
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 6:31AM #2
Daldianus
Posts: 32,442
The well-known tradition of Jesus having been baptized by John the Baptist has always been a nuisance for later Christians who claimed that Jesus was not only a prophet but actually God himself. They had to explain why Jesus would have needed, or wanted, to be baptized since the one who gets baptized usually is spiritually lower than the one who baptizes and how could this be if Jesus was God? Baptism also was meant, or necessary, to cleanse yourself from your sins. But again, Jesus, being God, wouldn't need this either. So why this unnecessary baptism? This story was definitely embarrassing for the Gospel authors but they couldn't ignore so they all spun it in their own way. This of course lead to contradictions again. So, did John the Baptist really know who Jesus was? And when did he know this?

The Gospel of 'John' states that John the Baptist only knew who Jesus was AFTER he saw the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove. Do also not that 'John' doesn't even explicitly mention that Jesus had been actually baptized by John the Baptist!

John 1:28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." 32 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'

  So 'John' is clear on this: The Baptist only recognized Jesus as the one who is supposed to baptize with the Holy Spirit after he had seen the Holy Spirit come down from Heaven and remain on his.
 
But when did the Holy Spirit set on Jesus according to the other Gospels? Yes, you're right: AFTER the baptism. This then contradicts, and is irreconcilable with, Matthew's version of the story where John the Baptist recognized Jesus BEFORE the baptism:
 
  Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" 15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

Both accounts cannot be true at the same time. Either John knew who Jesus was before the baptism or he didn't.

And Matthew himself isn't even coherent in his own Gospel!

Matthew 11:2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"


Was John the Baptist simply forgetful or did Matthew 3 happen AFTER Matthew 11? If not then who did JtB think Jesus was in Matthew 3 that he thought that he (JtB) needed to be baptized by this person?
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 6:31AM #3
Daldianus
Posts: 32,442
The well-known tradition of Jesus having been baptized by John the Baptist has always been a nuisance for later Christians who claimed that Jesus was not only a prophet but actually God himself. They had to explain why Jesus would have needed, or wanted, to be baptized since the one who gets baptized usually is spiritually lower than the one who baptizes and how could this be if Jesus was God? Baptism also was meant, or necessary, to cleanse yourself from your sins. But again, Jesus, being God, wouldn't need this either. So why this unnecessary baptism? This story was definitely embarrassing for the Gospel authors but they couldn't ignore so they all spun it in their own way. This of course lead to contradictions again. So, did John the Baptist really know who Jesus was? And when did he know this?

The Gospel of 'John' states that John the Baptist only knew who Jesus was AFTER he saw the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove. Do also not that 'John' doesn't even explicitly mention that Jesus had been actually baptized by John the Baptist!

John 1:28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." 32 Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'

  So 'John' is clear on this: The Baptist only recognized Jesus as the one who is supposed to baptize with the Holy Spirit after he had seen the Holy Spirit come down from Heaven and remain on his.
 
But when did the Holy Spirit set on Jesus according to the other Gospels? Yes, you're right: AFTER the baptism. This then contradicts, and is irreconcilable with, Matthew's version of the story where John the Baptist recognized Jesus BEFORE the baptism:
 
  Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" 15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

Both accounts cannot be true at the same time. Either John knew who Jesus was before the baptism or he didn't.

And Matthew himself isn't even coherent in his own Gospel!

Matthew 11:2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"


Was John the Baptist simply forgetful or did Matthew 3 happen AFTER Matthew 11? If not then who did JtB think Jesus was in Matthew 3 that he thought that he (JtB) needed to be baptized by this person?
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 11:32AM #4
sirjacen
Posts: 963
Dald,

I just read this yesterday and wondered the same thing, so I'll bite on this one.  Here's one possible scenario, I think.  It hovers around John being human like the rest of us.  John is baptizing and is awaiting the one who will baptize with the holy spirit.  He is given a sign to look for.  Jesus comes and for some reason John feels that this might be the one he has been preparing the way for (just like when John supposedly leaped in Elizabeth's womb when Mary was carrying Jesus).  Jesus convinces John to baptize him, and then the sign comes.  John's "feeling," for lack of a better word, was confirmed with the sign he was promised.

I think this could jive with John's account because when sharing this information with others why not share the sign that confirmed his thoughts to him, rather than just what he thought before baptizing Jesus?  Then John gets thrown into prison and perhaps seeds of doubt come in.  Perhaps he has heard conflicting stories of Jesus, so he asks of Jesus and receives his answer.

Do the gospels spell this scenario out...no.  But I don't think they necessarily exclude it in anyway either.  Just some thoughts on why I think both accounts COULD be true at the same time...note that I did not say "have to be" true.  Just a different viewpoint to consider.


peace...jason
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 11:41AM #5
Daldianus
Posts: 32,442

sirjacen wrote:

I just read this yesterday and wondered the same thing, so I'll bite on this one.  Here's one possible scenario, I think.  It hovers around John being human like the rest of us.  John is baptizing and is awaiting the one who will baptize with the holy spirit.  He is given a sign to look for.  Jesus comes and for some reason John feels that this might be the one he has been preparing the way for (just like when John supposedly leaped in Elizabeth's womb when Mary was carrying Jesus).  Jesus convinces John to baptize him, and then the sign comes.  John's "feeling," for lack of a better word, was confirmed with the sign he was promised.

I think this could jive with John's account because when sharing this information with others why not share the sign that confirmed his thoughts to him, rather than just what he thought before baptizing Jesus?  Then John gets thrown into prison and perhaps seeds of doubt come in.  Perhaps he has heard conflicting stories of Jesus, so he asks of Jesus and receives his answer.

Do the gospels spell this scenario out...no.  But I don't think they necessarily exclude it in anyway either.  Just some thoughts on why I think both accounts COULD be true at the same time...note that I did not say "have to be" true.  Just a different viewpoint to consider.



I'm sorry but that doesn't make sense.

John didn't just feel or think that this might be the one he was waiting for, he was quite sure: John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?

That doesn't sound like John was simply guessing, does it? Would he have said this if he wasn't sure that the one he was talking to was the alleged Messiah? He would have ridiculed himself if he had been wrong.

And how could John suddenly start to question Jesus' identity when he (John) had claimed this: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'

[COLOR=black]I assume that Holy Spirits coming down as doves and remaining on people aren't that common? So how could he doubt that Jesus was the one that God told him about?There seems to be a hell of a lot of spinning and speculating necessary to get two different stories aligned again ;)
[/COLOR]

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7 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 12:00PM #6
sirjacen
Posts: 963
I didn't say John was simply guessing.  In Matthew's account he felt that Jesus was the one...the later sign only confirmed that.  It's not going from lightly guessing to knowing...it's having a strong belief and having that belief confirmed.

As to how John could start to question Jesus' identity?  First, I'm not sure where you are getting the idea of "suddenness" from.  Secondly, humans doubt things all the time.  Did it really happen how I remember it?  John was imprisoned and hearing who knows what about what Jesus was doing.

Lastly, we all "spin" things and "speculate," perhaps I'm doing more of that than you.  You think so, I don't.  I think it is a plausible scenario given what we actually have written down by the authors.  These writers knew what they were writing, wrote it in specific ways, and some possibly had some of the other gospel accounts on hand, possibly as sources, yet still wrote differently.  And even if one could undeniably harmonize an event in the gospels, that still doesn't get close to proving it even occured.


peace...jason
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 12:04PM #7
Daldianus
Posts: 32,442

sirjacen wrote:

I didn't say John was simply guessing.  In Matthew's account he felt that Jesus was the one...the later sign only confirmed that.  It's not going from lightly guessing to knowing...it's having a strong belief and having that belief confirmed.

As to how John could start to question Jesus' identity?  First, I'm not sure where you are getting the idea of "suddenness" from.  Secondly, humans doubt things all the time.  Did it really happen how I remember it?  John was imprisoned and hearing who knows what about what Jesus was doing.

Lastly, we all "spin" things and "speculate," perhaps I'm doing more of that than you.  You think so, I don't.  I think it is a plausible scenario given what we actually have written down by the authors.  These writers knew what they were writing, wrote it in specific ways, and some possibly had some of the other gospel accounts on hand, possibly as sources, yet still wrote differently.  And even if one could undeniably harmonize an event in the gospels, that still doesn't get close to proving it even occured.

peace...jason



So what you're saying is that John doubted the event that he earlier described like this:

"I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'

?

And what would he have been doubting? What he saw? Or what God exactly told him?

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7 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 12:59PM #8
jlb32168
Posts: 13,622
[QUOTE=Daldianus;381112]The well-known tradition of Jesus having been baptized by John the Baptist has always been a nuisance for later Christians who claimed that Jesus was not only a prophet but actually God himself. They had to explain why Jesus would have needed, or wanted, to be baptized since the one who gets baptized usually is spiritually lower than the one who baptizes and how could this be if Jesus was God?[/quote]

I have to say that I have never heard of this nonsense about one being spiritually lower than one’s baptizer until you mentioned it here and I’m one of those “later Christians.”  Christ’s baptism wasn’t one unto repentance since He had nothing of which to repent.  His baptism was done for the sake of human nature – to redeem it.  Being born under the law and hence accursed, Christ had accomplished all the other requirements of the law and now only needed to be baptized to deliver human nature from the curse.

[QUOTE=Daldianus;381112]Baptism also was meant, or necessary, to cleanse yourself from your sins.[/quote]

No – baptism was used in the first century AD in a Jewish context to make one ritually clean and thus able to participate in religious acts.  John the Baptist’s baptism was the first where it was seen as a means of repentance and forgiveness of sin and is precisely why the Baptist’s obvious reticence to baptize Christ, whom he was apparently under the impression had done nothing that warranted repentance before or requiring forgiveness of God.

[QUOTE=Daldianus;381112]But again, Jesus, being God, wouldn't need this either. So why this unnecessary baptism?[/quote]

Your conclusion is built upon an unproven premise – that baptism was always done to show forgiveness of sin.

[QUOTE=Daldianus;381112]The Gospel of 'John' states that John the Baptist only knew who Jesus was AFTER he saw the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove.[/quote]

The text from St. John's Gospel says that the Baptist only knew that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost after the Holy Spirit descended upon Him.  It does not say that the Baptist would not know whom Jesus was.  Your recasting of text to say what it does not say, also known as building straw man arguments, is the easiest way to manufacture contradictions out of thin air.

[QUOTE=Daldianus;381112]So 'John' is clear on this: The Baptist only recognized Jesus as the one who is supposed to baptize with the Holy Spirit after he had seen the Holy Spirit come down from Heaven and remain on his.[/quote]

Yes, St. John’s Gospel says that the Baptist knew after Jesus was baptized that Jesus was the One Who baptized with the Holy Spirit - something that he, the Baptist, could not do.  St. Mattew’s Gospel says that the Baptist knew, prior to Christ's baptism, that Christ was sinless and in no need of repentance prior to his baptism – hence why the Baptist was reticent to baptize.  There is no contradiction here except what you manufacture through a deliberate selection and exclusion of information which jeopardizes your point. 

You exclude the “what” that was known and emphasize when the two different things were known.  Anyone reading then is left with the impression that the same thing is being known, but at two different times, which of course is a contradiction.  It’s just that your contradiction fails when the knowledge is supplied.

Does your belief system grant you the liberty to deliberately misrepresent?  I'm afraid mine says I must be encumbered with representing information accurately.  Oh for such liberty as you!

There are two different pieces of information involved in the two different accounts.  You have simply excised those pieces of information for the purpose of distorting the argument and implying that one says the Baptist knew before, while the other says he knew after, whereby you may erroneously say that a contradiction has occurred. 

It's a very subtle trick you've applied, but it is a trick nontheless.
Victim of this, victim of that, your mama’s too thin and your daddy’s too fat, get over it! - the Eagles
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 1:14PM #9
Daldianus
Posts: 32,442

sirjacen wrote:

So, while John remembers what he saw, Jesus' actions bring that authority into question in his eyes, it seems.  He doesn't dismiss it, though, he seeks Jesus' answer because of this seeming disconnect between who he thought and claimed Jesus to be and how Jesus was going about getting it done.  Jesus' answer seems to say something like "I know how it looks...I'm doing some things differently than God told you to live...but 'the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.'  People are being made whole...I am the one you prepared the way for."



So John didn't trust his God when he (God) pointed out how exactly he would recognize the Messiah (Spirit as a dove, etc)?

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7 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2008 - 1:24PM #10
Daldianus
Posts: 32,442

jlb32168 wrote:

I have to say that I have never heard of this nonsense about one being spiritually lower than one’s baptizer until you mentioned it here and I’m one of those “later Christians.”  Christ’s baptism wasn’t one unto repentance since He had nothing of which to repent.  His baptism was done for the sake of human nature – to redeem it.  Being born under the law and hence accursed, Christ had accomplished all the other requirements of the law and now only needed to be baptized to deliver human nature from the curse.



If that was true then why would a baptism be needed to deliver human nature from the curse? Why would Jesus be dependent on somebody else performing this magical ritual in order to have the desired effect?

No – baptism was used in the first century AD in a Jewish context to make one ritually clean and thus able to participate in religious acts.  John the Baptist’s baptism was the first where it was seen as a means of repentance and forgiveness of sin and is precisely why the Baptist’s obvious reticence to baptize Christ, whom he was apparently under the impression had done nothing that warranted repentance before or requiring forgiveness of God.

But if Jesus was sinless then he didn't need to be baptized in order do repent and be forgiven. Claiming that he needed this because he symbolically had the sins of Humankind on him is later spinning by the Christians to justify why Jesus let himself baptize by John.

Your conclusion is built upon an unproven premise – that baptism was always done to show forgiveness of sin.

In the case of John is obviously was. John claimed that people have to get baptized and to repent because the end was near and God's Kingdom at hand.

The text from St. John's Gospel says that the Baptist only knew that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost after the Holy Spirit descended upon Him.  It does not say that the Baptist would not know whom Jesus was.  Your recasting of text to say what it does not say, also known as building straw man arguments, is the easiest way to manufacture contradictions out of thin air.

D'oh ... How many, and what kind of, people were supposed to baptize with the Holy Ghost? :rolleyes:

Yes, St. John’s Gospel says that the Baptist knew after Jesus was baptized that Jesus was the One Who baptized with the Holy Spirit - something that he, the Baptist, could not do.  St. Mattew’s Gospel says that the Baptist knew, prior to Christ's baptism, that Christ was sinless and in no need of repentance prior to his baptism – hence why the Baptist was reticent to baptize.  There is no contradiction here except what you manufacture through a deliberate selection and exclusion of information which jeopardizes your point.

How did the Baptist know that Jesus was sinless before he knew who Jesus was? :rolleyes:

Does your belief system grant you the liberty to deliberately mislead people?  I'm afraid mine says I must be encumbered with representing information accurately.  Oh for such liberty as you!

I've not misrepresented anything here.

There are two different pieces of information involved in the two different accounts.  You have simply excised those pieces of information for the purpose of distorting the argument and implying that one says the Baptist knew before, while the other says he knew after, whereby you may erroneously say that a contradiction has occurred. 

And that's exactly what they're saying. The one account claims that the Baptist knew who Jesus was BEFORE the baptism and the other one claims that he only knew AFTERWARDS. It's not my fault that those two stories contradict each other.

It's a very subtle trick you've applied, but it is a trick nonetheless.

It's not a trick. It's applying logic and analyzing coherence.

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