Sunday, January 09, 2011

Paul Thomas Smith Surprises

Paul Thomas Smith made some claims in a podcast that I don't remember hearing before. I think these all come from his new book This is the Christ. I'm usually skeptical of new information like this. I'm recording these surprises here so that I can refer back to them. If you have any information to verify or refute these claims, I'd be interested. I'll number them for ease of reference. All are from this episode of The Cricket and Seagull. These are my paraphrase of the points Smith made, rather than my own conclusions or assertions.
  1. The census referred to in Luke 2 ("a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed") didn't really happen. There is no scholarly evidence to support the census, so we must look for other explanations for why Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem. They went to fulfill prophecy and the raise the messiah in the shadow of the temple.
  2. There were no roosters allowed in Jerusalem in the 2nd temple period. The "cock" that crowed when Peter denied the Savior was really a man crying three statement from the temple mount as he opened the gates. "All the priests prepare to sacrifice. All the Levites to your stations. All the Israelites come to worship." This was repeated three times. 
  3. Shepherds were thought of as robbers, thieves, and liars by the Pharisees. Their testimony was not admissible in court.
  4. Christ would never have worn a Roman-style toga like we see in the famous Christus statue on Temple Square. Also, we never see the traditional Jewish fringes poking out of his clothes in any of the popular depictions of him, though he certainly would have worn them. 
  5. "When Herod died in about 4 B.C., Jesus would have been about 6 years of age. They were planning to come back [from Egypt] and live in Bethlehem."
 Have you heard any of these?


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  • Huh. The only thing I've heard is that Herod died in 4 B.C.

    By Blogger Bryant, at 1/10/2011 3:27 PM  

  • I've never heard of the roosters not being allowed in Jerusalem. I did, however, read something recently which said that according to the laws and customs of the Jews, no trial was supposed to take place at night because the judges and priests hadn't yet offered their morning sacrifices. Seeing as Christ's trial took place at night, a herald crying out and marking the permissible time for such activities to begin would make that detail a little more prominent in the text.

    However, the thing historians have to remember is that they can offer no more certainty than anyone else. Absence of proof is not proof of absence, and the best way to get a definitive answer is to pray and ask to be instructed by the Spirit. He does answer questions like these--whether directly, or by leading us to where the answers may be found.

    By Blogger Heather M. Collins, at 2/07/2011 11:31 PM  

  • Scholars make a lot of claims that go against the teachings of the church. As a stake president I always remind members that it is not possible for people to know what happened 2,000 years ago and that we need to follow the spirit.

    By Blogger Stake Pres., at 2/17/2011 7:27 PM  

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