How to debunk the 1914 calculus ONLY using JW publications?

by psyco 208 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    Revision of some statements (about 2 Kings chapter 25) I made in my prior post:

    Now that I have have had a good night's sleep after making my prior post I realize that I made some incorrect interpretations about portions of 2 Kings chapter 25.

    According to the account the people mentioned in verse 12 were included in the group of people which verse 26 says fled into Egypt. As a result, according to verse 26 the human population of Judah became zero. However, (according to the account) the people who fled to Egypt were not in exile in Babylon. But, according to one dictionary meaning of the word "exile" those people in Egypt can be thought of as in voluntary exile in Egypt, since out of great fear they made the choice to flee Judah to a place of safety. With those interpretations, then according to verse 26, by the time the events of verse 26 were completed then all of the human survivors of the conquest of Judah were in exile in one country or another. That agrees with the last sentence of verse 21 which says the following. "Thus Judah went into exile from off its soil." Since according to chapter 25 the land of Judah thus became completely depopulated of humans, then according to the account that also means that all the buildings or huts left behind in the land would have deteriorated (especially if made of wood or other vegetation instead of stone) and become overgrown by vegetation, since no humans would have been left to maintain them. Thus, the account in chapter 25 also means (that according to the account) that all of Judah became desolate, in regards to the human population and in regards to its human made structures.

    Furthermore, I think that 2 Kings 25:25 is correct in what it says since it is a very believable, based upon what is known of history and of human nature. And, since the portion of land in Judah which was outside of Jerusalem was likely mostly rural land and thus likely only had a small population prior to the murder of Gedaliah, and since the event of verse 25 very likely really did greatly scare the surviving Jews of the land of Judah, then verse 26 is likely correct in saying that all of the people left Judah in response.

    However, there is still the matter of what archaeology says regarding some people still being present in Judah during the exile. I haven't checked the dates which archaeology assigns to the purported evidence of a human population during the exile. Perhaps the dates are from the time in between the destruction of Jerusalem and the murder of Gedaliah. If that is the case, then there is no conflict between those dates and 2 Kings 25:26. Perhaps also some people who voluntarily fled Judah (instead of being sent by Babylonians to Babylon) returned to Judah within 50 years after the murder of Gedaliah. More likely, perhaps some Babylonian people or other non-Jews entered Judah and settled it in between the time that Gedaliah was murdered and the time that Persia conquered Judah. I also now think it is possible that the archaeological dates might be incorrect by a number of decades for purported evidence of a human population during the exile. After all, it is known that many times one archaeological team determines a very different date for the same site than then the date determined by a different archaeological team.

    Furthermore, before going to sleep last night i read portions of an article in the Aid book (of a corresponding one in the Insight book) pertaining to Archaeology and I was stunned by how accurate and precise some of the Bible's accounts of purported history have proved to be correct history. One example was that of the claim that two sons of one particular Assyrian king killed the king. For centuries the known historical records from other sources had only mentioned that "a son" (or "the son") had done the killing. Later archaeological records from Assyria had also said that "the son" (singular) of the king had killed the king. To scholars that made it look like that the Bible was inaccurate in that particular, but later an archaeological record (written by the grandson, or a grandson, of the dead king) was found in Assyria which specifically said that two (plural) of the sons of the king had killed the king.

    I wonder what did the writers of portions of purported historical accounts in the Bible obtain their information about the history of the kingdoms of Assyria, Babylon, and of Persia? Did they somehow have access to records in those kingdoms? If the primary records were kept in libraries in the palaces of the pagan kings and in libraries of temples of the pagan kingdom, did Jewish officials and Jewish scribes in exile in Babylon, and those later living in the Persian empire, have access to those libraries? Perhaps they did and if so they could have made use of those records. The book of Esther (which many scholars says is historical fiction rather than true history) in 10:2 makes reference to the annals "of the kings of Media and Persia"? Likewise the books of Kings makes reference to purported historical books about kings and their kingdoms. Those books might have been kept at the time in the palaces of the kings of Israel and of Judah and in the temple of Jerusalem. In pagan lands libraries existed in the king's palace and in temples and the common people had access to the temples (but maybe only the scholars had access to libraries in the temples).

    Those references make it sound like they are saying that literate Jews how lived back then had access to such records. Is it true that literate Jews really did have access to such records/books? Maybe they did. Note that gives a list of many ancient libraries which have been found, including the remains of an extensive library which had belonged to a king of Assyria! See . It says the following.

    'The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal, named after Ashurbanipal, the last great king of the Assyrian Empire, is a collection of more than 30,000 clay tablets and fragments containing texts of all kinds from the 7th century BC, including texts in various languages. Among its holdings was the famous Epic of Gilgamesh.[2]

    Ashurbanipal's Library gives modern historians information regarding people of the ancient Near East. In his Outline of History, H. G. Wells calls the library "the most precious source of historical material in the world."[3] '

    That is impressive!

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    Hey MeanMrMustard, maybe the book of Jeremiah refers to two overlapping periods of 70 years - one starting in 606 (or 607) BCE and one starting in 609 BCE. Maybe it is one period of 70 years for the servitude of Judah and the length of the exile (starting from the earliest exile of some Jews and including the start of the later exiles). Maybe it is a different period of 70 years pertaining to the gentile nations, starting with the defeat of Assyria in 609 BCE.

    But if the 70 years (or one period of 70 years) includes defeat of Assyria, why is their no mention of Assyria in Jeremiah chapter 25. As far as I can tell no city of Assyria is even mentioned in chapter 25. Am I missing something in chapter 25 which specifically refers to Assyria?

    If the conquest of Assyria is included in the prophecy (and pertains to the start of the the 70 year period) then why does Jeremiah 25:1 say that Jeremiah received the prophecy during the first year in which Nebuchadrezzar was king - which was about two years after Nebuchadrezzar (during the reign of his father) had conquered Assyria and thus made it a part of the Babylonian empire? Why does verse 9 also state it pertains to the time in which Nebuchadrezzar was king and thus after Assyria had also became a part of the empire of Babylon? That is right. Since Assyria was already conquered by Babylon by the time that the book of Jeremiah says that Jeremiah received the prophecy, then that means (according to the prophecy, as recorded in the book called Jeremiah) Assyria was already a part of Babylon (that is, the Babylonian empire, Babylonia) when the prophecy was received. That is probably why Assyria is no where mentioned in chapter 25 as one of the nations which will serve Babylon - since it was already a part of Babylon/Babylonia (Babylonian empire)!

    Notice also that Jeremiah 25:2 itself puts the emphasis upon Judah and Jerusalem - not upon the gentile nations, yet you claim is wrong for me and others to put the emphasis on Jerusalem and the rest of Judah. Jeremiah 25:2 (NWT Study Edition) says the following. "'This is what Jeremiah the prophet spoke concerning* all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem:"

  • TD

    I also now think it is possible that the archaeological dates....

    You might find the comments of David Tarler interesting in this regard.

    In 1997, the JW's published an article entitled, Jerusalem in Bible Times, What Does Archaeology Reveal? which mentioned both David Tarler and Jane Cahill by name.


    This was Tarler's response: (via email)

    I am not familiar with the article you cited - and I would appreciate receiving a copy of it - but I never said that the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. I do not think that, today, archeologists could differentiate between 607 B.C.E. and 587 B.C.E. material cultural remains. Assuming that there are material remains from a 604 B.C.E. destruction at Tel Miqne/Ekron and from a 587 B.C.E. destruction at the City of David/Jerusalem, comprehensive analysis of these remains conceivably could yield chronological indicators for other sites, but even then, the archeological conclusions would derive from those assumed dates; the dates themselves would not derive from the archeology.

    David Tarler


    This was Jane Cahill's response: (Also via email)

    No, I have no idea what this guy is talking about. I have never heard of the Watchtower Society, I have never published anything suggesting that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE, and - as far as I know - Yigal never published anything like that either. I would respond that I know of no evidence supporting such a date. Hope that answers your query.

    Take care!

    Jane Cahill

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    TD, in case I didn't make it clear, I do not believe that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 (or 606) BCE. I believe it was destroyed in 587 BCE (or possibly in 588 BCE or 586 BCE instead). That is despite me now believing that the first deportation of Jews from Jerusalem (and thus the start of the exile) began in about 606 BCE (at least according to some commentaries) in the first year in which Nebuchadrezzar/Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon, about 19 years before Jerusalem was destroyed (see Jeremiah 25:1 and Daniel 1:1) for the indication of the year the first exile began).

    I agree with what Tarler that today archeologists could not "differentiate between 607 B.C.E. and 587 B.C.E. material cultural remains". I believe that because I know that radiometric datings, even carbon 14 datings, have a degree of imprecision about them. Officially radiometric dates come with a statistical range of years. For a hypothetical example, while the news media might say the scientists came up with the carbon 14 date of 800 CE for some artifact, the actual date published by the scientists would say something like 800 CE plus or minus 20 years. The scientists would say something like a '90% confidence interval of 780 CE to 820 CE'. For geologic layers associated with fossils of hominids dated to about 2 millions ago, the confidence range would be about 100,000 years or so.

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    Correction: In my most recent post to MeanMrMustard where I said "Since Assyria was already conquered by Babylon by the time that the book of Jeremiah says that Jeremiah received the prophecy ...", I should have said "Since the book of Jeremiah indicates that Jeremiah said he received the prophecy by the time that Assyria was already conquered by Babylon ...".

    Correction: In my prior post where I said 'I agree with what Tarler that today ..." I should have said "I agree with Tarler that today ...".

    Further information: It is too bad that the words stated in the WT article (the portion which was included in TD's quote at ) said 607 B.C.E. instead of 587 B.C.E.

  • peacefulpete
    I wonder what did the writers of portions of purported historical accounts in the Bible obtain their information about the history of the kingdoms of Assyria, Babylon, and of Persia?

    disillusionedJW....No need to wonder, writers/prophets were themselves generally from the educated class with connections with royalty. It would not be at all surprising for a true contemporary to know of the goings on in the political world they live in. It is this type of detailed knowledge that distinguishes an 8th century or 6th century writer from pseudonymous authors (or redactors) who often get details and names wrong or include anachronisms. The WT and others use this as a bit of a red herring against higher criticism. In reality monarchial period descriptions (at least those after David and Solomon) are generally useful for an outline of historical events. The religious overlay that interpreted those events through a lens of supernatural providence, or the sensationalization of events, must be understood in those terms, as religious and national propaganda. The Bible is typical of all ancient cultures in that regard. Similarly, all nations had a mythic past that served as establishing national origin and identity. that are far more likely to be pure imagery and symbol.

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    Hey folks while composing my prior post (the one which has two corrections) I started reading a part of 1997 WT article. Then I soon noticed page 13 of the article (in the June 15, 1997 Watchtower) of my bound volume. It says something there which confirms something which Simcha Jacobovici and James Tabor have said about Jewish burials. It has implications to the burial of Jesus. The first paragraph of column 2 of page 13 has a quote saying "Ossuaries were used primarily in the roughly one hundred years preceding the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. . . . The deceased was placed in a recess carved into the wall of a burial cave; after the flesh had decomposed, the bones were collected and placed in an ossuary—a container usually of decorated limestone."

    James Tabor says that according to the Jewish burial custom at the time Jesus existed (on Earth), the remains of the dead were transferred into ossuaries. He and Simcha Jacobovici say that would have been the case for Jesus and thus could explain why the tomb in which Jesus was initially placed in (according to the gospels) no longer had his body in it. That is because they say that the family members would have moved the corpse into an ossuary in a tomb belonging the family of Joseph and Mary. James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici believe they found that tomb and the ossurary of Jesus son of Joseph . And he and/or Simcha Jacobovici say that means the Jewish chief priests (see Matthew 28:12-13) were right to some extent in saying that the disciples of Jesus moved the body of Jesus. He and Simcha Jacobovici also believe they found the ossurary of his brother "James son of Joseph Brother of Jesus” and that both had at one time been in the same family tomb. However, most scholars disagree with those views of his, but I think they might be correct. See , and . The first of those three web pages says the following.

    'The first burial of Jesus was by definition a hasty one, a “burial of opportunity,” as Joseph of Arimathea placed Jesus’ body in a tomb that happened to be nearby the place of his execution, possibly even one in an area provided by the Sanhedrin for just this purpose (John 19:42; Sanhedrin 6, 5). He would have been moved to a more permanent place of burial as soon as the Passover Sabbath was over, most likely by Joseph who had taken responsibility for the initial burial. Mark, the earliest gospel, has no “appearances” of Jesus, the account in Matthew takes place in Galilee and has a “visionary” quality to it, and the various reports in Luke and John come from a much later period when the “empty tomb” was used as proof that the “appearances” were of a flesh and bones sort. This represents a later, more literal, development in how the resurrection of Jesus was being argued with opponents.

    ... If we are considering a hypothetical “Jesus family tomb” with these names we would then ask: What are the probabilities of a Jesus son of Joseph, with a brother named Yose, and a mother named Mary being found in a 1st century Jewish family tomb? That is actually something a statistician can work with and the results can be correlated with what a historian might then postulate as the likelihood of these particular names being in a pre-70 CE Jesus tomb.

    The fact is of the hundreds of tombs in the Jerusalem area that have been opened in a distributively random way over the past 200 years no other tomb so far has been found with even this limited cluster of names: Jesus son of Joseph, Maria, and Yose.'

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    Thanks peacefulpete for your reply. Maybe the statement of 2 Kings 25:26 (1984 NWT) of "... all the people, from small to great ..." was an exaggeration/sensationalization of an event. Maybe some of the people chose to say in Judah while the majority fled.

  • peacefulpete

    My opinion regarding the James ossuary claims. It has been determined to be a modern forgery. Sure, there are voices that disagree but that's not surprising in such a religiously loaded topic. Fact is the box was probably real and the inscription faked a few decades ago. It was in the 'collection' of known trafficker of forgeries. But apart from all the arguments about the inscription, what convinces me is the fact that the traditions that Jesus had a physical brother is from a second layer of tradition.

    We have a couple historical Jameses. One was a murdered priest in the temple who was brother of the High Priest Jesus. It was due to this murder that many Jews blamed the Roman attack of 70. And there was a James who was one of the Christian leaders in the Jerusalem church. There were likely other Jameses among the early Christians whose names found their way into the Gospels. There was so much confusion regarding all the Jameses in early Christain circles that it was easy to conflate them or maybe even divide one into two or more.

    wiki has a very introductory summary here:James, brother of Jesus - Wikipedia

    Understanding the controversies of the early church might illuminate the topic as well. You seem to have read some on this topic by your earlier comments. Consider the value to the antiDocetist movement if Jesus had a physical brother. Then ask yourself the likelyhood of Doecistism ever starting if the earliest Christians knew Jesus had physical brothers.

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    I have not yet read much of the article you provided a link to, but it quotes a well known passage in one of the writings of Josephus which says "... the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James ...". [By the way that passage is one of the key historical sources which caused me to be convinced enough in the Bible and thus get baptized while a teenager. I learned of that passage in the WT's 1969 book called Is the Bible really the Word of God? on page 63 of the book, when I was trying to determine if the Bible was true. The same book includes the quote of Tacitus about one called Christus whom Tacitus says the extreme penalty by procurator Pontius Pilate. That was also a key reason for me becoming sure that Jesus did exist as a historical person, and thus a major part of the reason while I got baptized as a JW before age 16.]

    Regarding the passage of "... the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James ..." the web page which you linked to also says the following.

    "Modern scholarship has almost universally acknowledged the authenticity of the reference to "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" (τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰησοῦ τοῦ λεγομένου Χριστοῦ, Ἰάκωβος ὄνομα αὐτῷ) and has rejected its being the result of later Christian interpolation.[37][38][39][40] Moreover, in comparison with Hegesippus' account of James' death, most scholars consider Josephus' to be the more historically reliable.[35] Some scholars have noted Josephus is more sympathetic to James than his brother.[41] '

    The same web page also says 'Paul mentions meeting James "the Lord's brother" (τὸν ἀδελφὸν τοῦ κυρίου) and later calls him one of the pillars (στύλοι) in the Epistle to the Galatians[46] Galatians 1:18-2:10: ... But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!)'

    While I was an active baptized JW (at least during most of that time if not during the earliest part of that time when I was a teenager and thus knew less of the Bible) I believed that Jesus had fleshly brothers and sisters (contrary to what the Catholic Church teaches, but in agreement to what the WT teaches). That is because the gospels of mark and Matthew says he had such, and that one of his brothers was named James. During all of the subsequent time periods when I still definitely believed that Jesus was a historical person I continued to believe that Jesus had a brother named James. Perhaps none of the brothers of Jesus was the one known as James the Great or James the Just, but I see no reason to believe that fleshly non-supernatural historical Jesus had a brother (even if only a half-brother) named James. During the period of time when I believed in the Christ myth concept (such as described by Earl J. Doherty in his book called The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ?) about Jesus and thus didn't believe that a historical Jesus existed, I thus didn't believe Jesus had a brother named James, but after doing more research and contemplation I stopped believing in the Christ myth concept about a year or so ago.

    Please consider the Wikipedia article called Brothers of Jesus which says the following.

    ' Mark 6:3 names James, Joses, Judas (conventionally known in English as Jude) and Simon as the brothers of Jesus, and Matthew 13:55, which probably used Mark as its source, gives the same names in different order, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas.[8] "Joseph" is simply the longer form of "Joses", and so it appears that James was the eldest and Joses/Joseph the next, but as Matthew has reversed the order of the last two it is uncertain who was the youngest.[9] Unnamed sisters are mentioned in Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:56 and may be implied in Mark 3:35 and Matthew 12:46, but their number is unknown.[3]

    The gospels indicate a rift between Jesus and his brothers in the early part of his ministry (see Mark 3:31-35 and the parallel passages in Matthew 12:46-50 and Luke 8:19-21), and they never appear among his followers during his lifetime.[10] John has Jesus's brothers advising him to go to Judea despite being aware that his life would be in danger, and they are absent from his burial, which should have been their responsibility,[11] but they do appear in Acts 1:14 with the Eleven (i.e., the remaining disciples after the betrayal by Judas Iscariot): "These all (the Eleven) were persevering in prayer along with the women, with Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers."[11]

    In 1 Corinthians 15:3–7 Paul lists a "James" among those to whom the risen Christ had appeared,[12] and most scholars agree that this refers to James the brother of Jesus.[13] The 2nd century historian Hegesippus (c.110 – 180 AD) reports that James the brother of Jesus came to be known as James the Just,[14] and Eusebius of Caesarea (died 339) says that he spent so much of his life in prayer that his knees became "like the knees of a camel."[15] According to Clement of Alexandria, reported by Eusebius, he was chosen as bishop of Jerusalem,[16] and from the time when Peter left Jerusalem after Herod's attempt to kill him (Acts 12) he appears as the principal authority in the Jerusalem church, presiding at the Council of Jerusalem recorded in Acts 15.[16] In Galatians 1:19 Paul tells how he went to Jerusalem a few years after his conversion and met Cephas (Peter) but no other apostles, only "James, the brother of the Lord";[17] Paul's Greek leaves it unclear whether he includes, or does not include, James among the apostles.[18] '

    Since Josephus mentions John the Baptist/Baptizer, and says even more about him than about Jesus, I also believe that John the Baptist/Baptizer had existed. Even when I believed that Jesus never existed I still believed John the Baptist/Baptizer had existed.

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