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January 24, 2007



Forgive the tangential-to-topic question, but I had a question about the magi, also. We're expecting another baby (hooray!) and my husband and I both like the name Balthasar. I was wondering if there's any reason to suppose he (or Melchior, or Casper) are considered to be saints. The fact that their names have been used in Catholic countries gives me reason to hope so, but it puzzles me why that should be so. Any confirmation or disconfirmation?


I'm not sure how Joseph and Mary would have felt about magi and shepherds following them around for decades (first to Egypt, then to Nazareth) waiting for the baby Jesus to grow up.

Even if you've had a vision of angels and seen the baby Messiah, you still have to make a living and probably have a family to feed. I don't see that the shepherds really had much other choice to go home. Following around after a couple with a baby seems like a pretty an impractical lifestyle choice, even for the magi.

It's not like when Jesus began calling men to leave everything and follow him. Don't forget, too, that during Jesus' ministry Jesus and his disciples were apparently supported at least in part by well-to-do women who followed him (Luke 8:3). No such provision would have been made for followers of Jesus during his infancy and hidden years.

Furthermore, it doesn't seem that having followers or disciples would really be compatible with God's plan for Jesus' hidden life. Whatever illumination the magi and shepherds received as to who Jesus was may also have helped them understand that they weren't expected to follow him around.

The magi even received a dream from an angel instructing them in how to return home, so certainly they had no doubt that they were to return home. The shepherds, too, seemed to understand that God more wanted them to proclaim what they had seen rather than follow Jesus around.

Henry Karlson

Yes, the three magi have been proclaimed saints. St. Balthasar's feast day was January 6. Moreover, tradition not only states they became Christian, but that they were ordained (under St Thomas).

Finally, it is said that the relics of all three wise men (magi) were moved into Cologne in the 12th century, where they remain to this day.

Sifu Jones

Well, to be strictly historical about it, we aren't even sure there were three magi; that's more of a (very popular) pious tradition. Early Christian mosaics, for example, put the number anywhere between 2 and 12. I myself prefer the number 3, as do some other early sources. But still, while we know the Wise Men from the East existed, visited Jesus and brought him gifts, we don't know how many came or what their real names were for certain.

How much of each gift, we don't really know. The importance to the actual event (and the text) is the symbolic nature of it: was it a lot of gold, and a box of frankinsense and myrrh? Or was it a symbolic gift of a gold piece and a few handfuls of each spice? That last doesn't seem consummate with what the Wise Men knew, but we unfortunately know very little about those events.

It would be wonderful if, someday, we find ancient documents from Persia or the Holy Land that provide more detail. I've always wanted to establish or revive some sort of devotion the the wise men, but we know so little about them.


SDG, I think it's another sign that God wants us to go about our own business, however mundane that might be. Speaking of which, are you going to review The Museum? :)



Thank you! Just the info I needed.


The gifts of the wise men were quite useless. Fortunately they were followed by 3 wise women who gave them diapers, sleepers, and a crib!

Michael Sullivan

Not to offend any sci-fi buffs, but I don't think flying Deloreans are ever going help solve these sorts of problems, since time travel is probably a metaphysical impossibility. It anyone cares, there's an argument to that effect here:


..but seriously, the choice of these gifts, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh fly's in the face of modernist or progressive Catholics who would abhor such 'conservative' types of gifts.

Just look at the Churches, and most modern religious art! Do you really think 'progressive' Catholics would advocate the expensive use of gold for anything(but maybe in rare circumstances, a Chalice)? ..But it's completely fine for all types of ear, nose, lip and toe rings these days!

When it comes to personal expenses on houses and cars, the most intricate detail is demanded! No detail = Junk! But in Church art, 'no detail' = ....pretty much the only type of art work you can find in a local Catholic supply house!

So, I think these Magi are a perfect example to all, on the necessity to give to God things that are 'precious'. Why should our personal houses be furnished 'finer' than the House of God, ie. the parish churches?

..What a thing!(modern thing..that is!)


Actually, this brings up what Caridnal Mahoney might consider appropriate for the Magi to bring. I'm thinking glass (given the chalices he seems to like), liturgical dance slippers, and a matricula consular.

Any other ideas?


Yes.....I think.. Crayon's to make detailed religious art. Bolts of polyester for an endless supply of cool, inclusive and 'gender neutral' banners. And a CD of all purpose'funky fonts', that can be used for whatever cool church slogans you want to impress people with.

Stuff like:

"Millenium--"journeying for togetherness!", and "We are Church!"... those kind of cool slogans!


I thought that Simon Peter was the first MAN to know that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. As Jesus stated that know man had told him this knowledge, but that it was revealed to him by the Father. Is this not the case?

"...due to our disturbing lack of time machines..."

Too funny! Course in the StarTrek universe by the 29th century historians are going back in time to view events. The only problem is you get temporal cold wars.


how do we know there were only three magi?


The concept of three magi is based simply on the notion of three gifts. It is not explicit in scripture that there were only three magi - this comes from tradition.







Of course, in erick's conniving mind, all tradition is bad.

It's so strange since it was Tradition itself that decided which books actually comprised the Bible!

question: how do we know there were only these books in the bible that are the actual Word of God? how do we know at all that they contain the Word of God? why these books in the bible actually considered the Word of God? why were these books included in the bible? who wrote these books? who wrote the Gospels?

ahhhh!!!... The Church and Tradition!


No... wait!

The Church and Tradition has nothing to do with the Bible!

I know that the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible tells me so!

Tim J.

"how do we know there were only three magi?"

We don't.

Note, erick, that Esau said that the idea of three Magi comes from small "t" tradition. It is not presented as a fact. But, if one were painting a picture of the Epiphany, it would be pretty well impossible to depict an unknown number of Magi. For the sake of simplicity, and in a kind of poetic symmetry, people came to talk of three Magi, to go with the three gifts. So?


I was alluding to Fiddler On The Roof!!!!.
But since you took it THAT WAY....let it be so!.
Incidentally, where was it that I said ALL tradition is bad?....I must have missed that one.

Prozac ?....anybody?.


Tim J-
If not a fact, as you say, then how come there are 3-(three) Saints named after them?.
Are these Saints fictional then?.


But are the Nativity stories authentic? Probably not. See http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb007.html


Finally, it is said that the relics of all three wise men (magi) were moved into Cologne in the 12th century, where they remain to this day.

I saw a TV program about that. The host (an archaeologist) seemed very excited throughout the program's duration; and the conclusion was, that it was very likely, incredibly likely, that the relics were real.

And this wasn't on EWTN or anything. It was either on one of Discovery Communication's channels or on History International.

Tim J.

"If not a fact, as you say, then how come there are 3-(three) Saints named after them?.
Are these Saints fictional then?."

Not at all, though I have no knowledge of them. Having three saints that correspond to three Wise Men does not eliminate the possibility that there were MORE Wise Men.

As I say, though, until today I was not aware of these saints.


Note, erick, that Esau said that the idea of three Magi comes from small "t" tradition.

Thanks, Tim J.!

I was hoping somebody would take notice of that.



Is Realist a Christian?....Probably not!.
Is he a Post-modern Liberal?...without doubt!.


At mass last Sunday the pastor went over the three gifts. He said that they were used by the Holy Family to finance their existence in Egypt until their return.

Jeb Protestant

The general orthodox Roman Catholic view is that the infancy narratives are, for the most part, not historical. See Brown, Meier, Fitzmyer, New Jerome Biblical Commentary, etc. (all with imprimatuer).


Jeb Protestant-
Would the virgin birth be considered a "infancy narrative"?...
Would Isaiah's prophesy be considered a "infancy narrative"...and the Star prophesy et al?


But are the Nativity stories authentic? Probably not.

Sigh. Insert subject, spit out prefabricated talking point. A chatbot is more interactive.

Insert all-purpose Realist response here.



That's the very thing I wanted from way back when!!!

God bless you, brother!

Jeb Protestant


Don't quite understand your question.

As I said, contemporary orthodox Catholics such as the late Raymond Brown argue that most (not all) of the infancy narratives are non-historical. Brown said he believed in the "virginal conception", but doubted the magi, shepherds, the flight to Egypt, etc. He was put on the Pontifical Biblical Commission by John Paul the Great. I'm not sure of Meier's view of the virgin birth, but he is explicit that he doesn't belive in the flight to Egypt or Jesus' birth in Bethlehem.

Does that answer your question?


Mr. Protestant,

I'm just a whippersnapper compared to the rest of these bloggers but it seems rather rude not to provide a link or a direct quote from the sources you cite. I'd be interesting in discussing these interpretations.


I'm just a whippersnapper compared to the rest of these bloggers but it seems rather rude not to provide a link or a direct quote from the sources you cite. I'd be interesting in discussing these interpretations.



"The general orthodox Roman Catholic view is that the infancy narratives are, for the most part, not historical."

That's a lie. Any Catholic who embraced such a view would be embracing heresy.

Jack Dwyer

Several points...

Three is a good number for Magi; not too large or too small. A larger number of foreign dignitaries, be they kings and/or wise men (scientists and/or sorcerors ooooo!) might have attracted undue attention in downtown Bethlehem, and would certainly have done so in Egypt, where Pharoah might not have liked perceived potential competition from the King of Kings... Incidently, that's another reason why they could not stay, as the continued presence of a large and worshipping crowd of rulers and intellectuals constantly following the Holy Family around would have shown Herod the importance of the Child, and also His location...

I presume the Child was also protected from time travellers! You just can't get in there...!

In any case, the three gifts of the Magi, gold, frankinscence and myrrh, point respectively to Him being a King, Priest and Victim.

Oh, if you can, check out the movie LES ROIS MAGES, to see the Magi in France in 2000...! It's hilarious, but also qite interesting... It's also in French, dammit!

God Bless...


The general orthodox Roman Catholic view is that the infancy narratives are, for the most part, not historical. See Brown, Meier, Fitzmyer, New Jerome Biblical Commentary, etc. (all with imprimatuer).

This is exactly the wrong place to go to find Catholic teaching. Start with the catechism. Move on to recent encyclicals and the Vatican II documents. Even with the imprimatuer you cannot trust a typical Catholic theologian. There are some I do trust but very few. The majority are way to smart to have much faith. Bishops give them a lot of leeway because they are theologians and are supposed to push the limits.

Jeb Protestant

For Brown's view, see his book The Birth of Messiah. For Meier's view of the infancy narratives, see A Margina View, Volume 1. The books are both printed with the imprimateur of the RC church.

Far be it for me to say who is an isn't a heretic, but Paul VI and JP II did not consider Raymond Brown a heretic since they appointed him to the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

"While Jesus' birth in Bethlehem cannot be positively ruled out, we must accept the fact that the predominent view in the Gospels . . . is that Jesus came from Nazareth and . . .only from Nazareth." (A Marginal Jew at page 216, printed with Imprimatur of Patrick Sheridan, VG of New York, 1991).


... but Paul VI and JP II did not consider Raymond Brown a heretic since they appointed him to the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

If you actually read the works of the Pontifical Biblical Commission under Cardinal Ratzinger, you would come to realize just why Brown was made part of that Commission.

Suffice it to say, at least, in my assessment of the situation, it is far better to have, as part of your group, a member of the opposition (especially a prominent voice) since what's a better way to address and counter the opposition threat than by having somebody from it???


Cardinal Ratzinger's Lecture delivered on 27th January 1988 at Saint Peter's Church in New York, New York:

Finally, the exegete must realize that he, does not stand in some neutral area, above or outside history and the Church.

Such a presumed immediacy regarding the purely historical can only lead to dead ends.

The first presupposition of all exegesis is that it accepts the Bible as a book. In so doing, it has already chosen a place for itself which does not simply follow from the study of literature.

It has identified this particular literature as the product of a coherent history, and this history as the proper space for coming to understanding.

If it wishes to be theology, it must take a further step.

It must recognize that the faith of the Church is that form of "sympathia" without which the Bible remains a closed book.

It must come to acknowledge this faith as a hermeneutic, the space for understanding, WHICH DOES NOT DO DOGMATIC VIOLENCE TO THE BIBLE, but precisely allows the solitary possibility for the Bible to be itself.

Jeb Protestant


Again, I don't quite understand your point.

Here is Cardinal Ratzinger:

"The Pontifical Biblical Commission, in its new form after the Second Vatican Council, is not an organ of the teaching office, but rather a commission of scholars who, in their scientific and ecclesial responsibility as believing exegetes, take positions on important problems of Scriptural interpretation and know that for this task they enjoy the confidence of the teaching office."


Obviously he believed that the scholars who made up the PBC supported the teaching of the church. Are you saying that Brown was in the minority?

Jeb Protestant


What does the 1988 speech by Ratzinger have to do with the question at hand? You are begging the question of whether he believes that higher critical approaches are contrary to tradition. I don't think he does. For example, as I pointed out before he doesn't think Paul wrote the Pastorals.


You're missing the point, Jeb.

Statistically speaking, wouldn't you be introducing a bias if the commission only consisted of only those folks who covered the topics from just one side of the issue??? How can you accomplish anything fruitful if you don't have a well-balanced group of folks who can argue the issues from both sides of the table???

Unfortunately, the only analogy I can think of at this point is that it would be like the President establishing a committee that merely consisted of Republicans and did not have any Democrats in it to balance the view of that committee.

Obviously, you'ld need to handle things from all perspectives, especially those from your opponents.

As had been pointed out:
"The Pontifical Biblical Commission, in its new form after the Second Vatican Council, is NOT an organ of the teaching office, BUT rather a commission of scholars who, in their scientific and ecclesial responsibility as believing exegetes, take positions on important problems of Scriptural interpretation and know that for this task they enjoy the confidence of the teaching office."

Jeb Protestant


So it is appropriate for a pope to appoint someone to the PBC who is not an orthodox Catholic?


So it is appropriate for a pope to appoint someone to the PBC who is not an orthodox Catholic?

Mind you, they have the ecclesial (in addition to their scientific) responsibility. Therefore, I would imagine that they would certainly need to adhere to tenets of the Catholic Faith; after all, they are members of the Catholic clergy.

However, I'm out of my element here and, therefore, would leave that discussion to someone far more knowledgeable about this than I.

Personally, I, myself, cannot imagine establishing a research group consisting of only like-minded individuals. I would need persons coming from different angles in order to ensure that all sides of the issue are met. I would most certainly enlist a staunch adherent of the opposition (provided that they're professional enough to do their job and not try and sabatoge the overall project to accomplish their ends) so that I can take advantage of seeing things from his/her perspective and not merely from mine. This, in my opinion, would make for better results.


First of all, we have to acknowledge the following: the majority of contemporary Catholic (and, I might point out, non-Catholic) Biblical scholars do not believe in the historicity of much of the Gospels. To take the most famous example, many of Raymond Brown's books have been granted the imprimatur/nihil obstat, he has not in any way been disciplined or contradicted for views that (at the least) endanger the faith of many, and in fact has been well regarded by much of the hierarchy. This is, in my personal opinion, a rather serious point of scandal.

On the other hand, there is a huge difference between my admission that many or most Catholic Biblical scholars are less than orthodox with regard to the historicity of scripture, and Jeb Protestant's statement that "the general orthodox Roman Catholic view is that the infancy narratives are, for the most part, not historical." In no way can Biblical scholars be said constitute anything remotely like a majority of Catholics, and they are, from all evidence, an even smaller percentage of orthodox Catholics.

The unorthodox views of many Catholic Biblical scholars may not receive any correction from the Church (something which I consider problematic, as I have already said). But they honestly cannot be considered to fall within even a liberal reading of Dei Verbum.


Here's a clip from:

Many Protestant scholars at the beginning of the twentieth century tried to correct the rationalist and often polemical basis of historical criticism by stressing more doctrinal and religious elements in the study of Scripture. Most notable among these were Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann. Bultmann, trying to preserve the dignity of the Bible against historical criticism, began to speak of a distinction between what he called the “Jesus of history” and the “Christ of faith.”

According to this theory, which has been very influential in the twentieth century, including among some Catholic writers, the New Testament contains a series of myths about Jesus invented by the Christian communities of later years. These pious stories were meant to arouse and preserve the faith of the people in supernatural happenings and in the salvation offered by Christ.

Bultmann believed the biblical researcher should "demythologize" these stories in order to discover the difference between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith, and to make them more acceptable to modern man. Given his strong existentialist and Lutheran background, Bultmann stresses the importance of faith in Jesus (sola fides), while downplaying the need to know the actual historical events of Jesus’ life.

Pope St. Pius X already warned of the danger of this approach in 1905, as we stated before, because it divides the life and message of Christ in an artificial way, between the concepts "Jesus of faith" and "Jesus of history," thus opening the door to a confusing subjectivism.

One of the most radical results of the historical critical method - when divorced from the living tradition that accompanied the Gospels from the first - is the so-called "Jesus Seminar," which began in 1985.

Begun by R. Funk and J.D. Crossan, the seminar consists of 50 to 100 scholars who meet regularly and write papers about what they think the historical Jesus really said and did. With a definite bias against miracles and supernatural happenings, it has been notorious in denying the authenticity of Christ's words in the Gospels - claiming that He did not say fifty percent of the words attributed to Him.

Though rejected by many Scripture scholars today, the claims of the Jesus Seminar have been greatly propagated by the secular media.

Derivations of the historical-critical method sought to refine and describe more accurately the actual composition of texts throughout the centuries.

Most noted among these is the sitz im leben research of Hermann Gunkel, which tried to situate a text in its original historical or liturgical setting, the formegeschichte of Martin Dibelius and Rudolf Bultmann which studies the inter-relation of literary forms and their development, and finally the redaktionsgeschichte, the critical study of the process of editing and the theological influences involved.

The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, published by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1993, studies these various approaches and assesses their advantages and drawbacks. It endorses the historical-critical method as a valid and even necessary way to begin the study of a biblical text nowadays, but cautions against any rationalist or historicist bias that could be implied in it.

For this reason, the commission stresses the importance of both a diachronic study of a text (its development from previous sources and traditions, as far as can be known) and a sychronic study (the text in its final form).

It also surveys other more modern biblical methods of analysis such as the rhetorical, narrative, and semiotic (study of the inner structure of textual meanings and their relationships), along with certain sociological and psychological methods. It notes the influence of political and social movements on biblical studies, such as liberation theology and feminism.

This 1993 document discerns the positive elements of all these systems, while pointing out some obvious limitations; it is most harsh in its criticism of fundamentalist interpretation, which does not take into account the complexity of biblical texts.

Though it does not explicitly mention it, another biblical problem at this time is that of "inclusive language" - namely, the attempt to change some of the translations of original texts to make them more acceptable to certain groups of people. This has led to great controversy, especially when these groups desire to change the original meaning of biblical texts, particularly those that refer to God as Father.

Many of the magisterial documents, mentioned in the previous sections, were written to guide the work of Catholic scholars in light of the above movements. The need for advanced textual and historical scholarship, the study of literary forms, and, above all, the connection with the living tradition of the Church and her Magisterium have been stressed in many different ways, but very few works in our time have really integrated the above approaches with a biblical theology that is both profound and useful for the life of the Church.


There is a story on the internet (sorry I do not have a link) that deals with what happened to the gifts. I forget how the story develops but the frankincense is used to wash Jesus' feet Lk 7:38. The gold is used by Josehp of Arimathea to buy a sepulchre for himself which is used to bury Jesus Mt 27:60. The myrrh is taken by the women to go annoint Jesus' body Mk 16:1. It makes interesting reading.


Official WYD 2005 Website http://www.wjt2005.de/index.php?id=6

The city of Cologne would not be what it is without the Magi, who have had so great an impact on its history, its culture and its faith.

And so, before addressing you in the presence of this magnificent Cathedral, I paused for a moment of prayer before the reliquary of the three Magi and gave thanks to God for their witness of faith, hope and love. The relics of the Magi were brought from Milan in 1164 by the Archbishop of Cologne, Reinald von Dassel; after crossing the Alps, they were received in Cologne with great jubilation. On their pilgrimage across Europe the relics of the Magi left traces behind them which are still evident today, both in place names and in popular devotions. In honour of the Magi the inhabitants of Cologne produced the most exquisite reliquary of the whole Christian world and, as if that were not sufficient, they raised above it an even greater reliquary, this stupendous Gothic Cathedral which, after the ravages of war, once more stands before visitors in all the splendour of its beauty.

Yet Cologne is not just the city of the Magi. It has been deeply marked by the presence of many saints; these holy men and women, through the witness of their lives and the imprint they left on the history of the German people, have helped Europe to grow from Christian roots. I think above all of the martyrs of the first centuries, like young Saint Ursula and her companions, who, according to tradition, were martyred under Diocletian. How can one fail to remember Saint Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, whose election as Bishop of Cologne in 745 was confirmed by Pope Zachary? The name of Saint Albert the Great is also linked to this city; his body rests nearby in the crypt of the Church of Saint Andrew. In Cologne Saint Thomas Aquinas was a disciple of Saint Albert and later a professor. Nor can we forget Blessed Adolph Kolping, who died in Cologne in 1865; from a shoemaker he became a priest and founded many social initiatives, especially in the area of professional training. Closer to our own times, our thoughts turn to Edith Stein, the eminent twentieth-century Jewish philosopher who entered the Carmelite Convent in Cologne taking the name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and later died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

In these and all the other saints, both known and unknown, we discover the deepest and truest face of this city and we become aware of the legacy of values handed down to us by the generations of Christians who have gone before us. It is a very rich legacy. We need to be worthy of it. It is a responsibility of which the very stones of the city’s ancient buildings remind us. Indeed it is these spiritual values that make possible mutual comprehension between individuals and peoples, between different cultures and civilizations. In this context, I offer a warm greeting to the representatives of the different Christian denominations and those from other religions. I thank all of you for your presence in Cologne at this great gathering, in the hope that it will mark a step forward on the path towards reconciliation and unity…

For Cologne does not speak to us of Europe alone; it opens us to the universality of the Church and of the world. Here, one of the three Magi was seen as a Moorish King, and, as such, the representative of the continent of Africa. Here, according to tradition, Saint Gereon and his companions of the Theban Legion died as martyrs. Irrespective of the strictly historical reliability of these traditions, the centuries-old devotion towards those saints testifies to the universal outlook and openness of the faithful of Cologne and, in a wider sense, of the Church which emerged in Germany through Saint Boniface’s apostolic activity. This openness has been confirmed in recent years by great charitable initiatives such as Misereor, Adveniat, Missio and Renovabis. Themselves originating in Cologne, these societies have brought the love of Christ to all continents…

Now you yourselves are here, dear young people from throughout the world. You represent those distant peoples who came to know Christ through the Magi and who were brought together as the new People of God, the Church, which gathers men and women from every culture. Today it is your task to live and breathe the Church’s universality. Let yourselves be inflamed by the fire of the Spirit, so that a new Pentecost will renew your hearts. Through you, may other young people everywhere come to recognize in Christ the true answer to their deepest aspirations, and may they open their hearts to receive the Word of God Incarnate, who died and rose from the dead for the salvation of the world.


That was an extract from Papa Ratzi's speech I sent way back when from World Youth Day 2005.


When I said 'sent', I meant 'email' to folks who were fans of this Pope.

But, I sure wished I was there though to have met His Holiness!

Jeb Protestant


I would point out that I'm not aware of a single person appointed to the PBC who might be considered a conservative. In fact, one guy appointed (Wansbrough) said that Genesis 1-11 are as historical as Little Red Riding Hood.


He also said that Ratinzger would attend many meetings of the PBC. Ratzigner also holds higher critial views of the Bible.

Based on the above, I think it is quite reasonable to say that the liberal views of people like Brown are orthodox if not the preferred view. I see no reason to think that JPII and Ratzigner didn't know what they were doing when they supervised the PBC.


Please, you're just putting your own 'gloss' on the matter.


Don't think I'm not onto your deceptive methods here.

You're attempting to misrepresent Catholicism much like Hays in order to get folks to believe that this is what 'Orthodox' Catholicism is all about!


First, I have not read many of the current pope's writings regarding the Bible. I am curious to see how his forthcoming book on Jesus will deal with issues of NT criticism, though. And even if he did (hypothetically) hold horrifically modernist & heretical private opinions on the historicity of the Bible, so what? Liberius was an Arian. In fact, most of the hierarchy at one point was Arian (hence "Athanasius contra mundum"). Just because some opinion is widely accepted, even among the hierarchy, does not make it either (1) orthodox or (2) the true, official teaching of the Church (but I repeat myself). For this, one must turn to official Church documents. And so, I quote Dei Verbum 19:

"Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven."

The private opinions of any given theologian, Biblical scholar, commission, or bishop do not constitute orthodoxy.


(In the interest of historical accuracy, I should be more precise: Liberius was almost certainly not an Arian at heart. He is thought by many to have been induced to sign an Arian formula and condemnation of Athanasius while in exile, under pressure from the Emperor.)


I have heard the story that the myrrh was used at Jesus's burial, myself.


From http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb007.html

Gerd Luedemann-
Luedemann (Jesus, 280f) finds the genealogies in both Matthew and Luke to be theological creations with no historical basis. In similar vein he finds no historical value in the dispute over the davidic lineage of the Messiah (Mark 12:35-37 and parallels), finding it instead to be the product of "a learned scribal" effort to demonstrate that Jesus is "more than son of David, namely son of God." (Jesus, 87)

John P. Meier-
Meier [Marginal Jew I,216-219] notes that the "affirmation of Jesus' descent from David might easily be placed alongside his birth at Bethlehem as a theologoumenon (a theological insight narrated as a historical event) if it were not for the fact that numerous and diverse streams of NT tradition also affirm Jesus' Davidic lineage." Meier suggests that the belief that Jesus was "son of David" may have been held by Jesus' followers prior to his death, with his resurrection then being understood as a form of enthronement. However, he notes that such messianic views, whatever their provenance, cannot prove Jesus was "literally, biologically of Davidic stock."

Isolating Jesus' birth/life to Nazareth also puts the story of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents on the myth pile.


The odometer on Realist's hobby horse just flipped for the second time...yawn.

"The man who puts to one side any consideration of the reality of God is a realist in appearance only" Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Take care and God bless,


Oh yeah, Realist -- Here are some words from Herr Ratzinger that beats you to the punch:

On one hand there is the attempt to unravel the various threads (of the narrative) so that in the end one holds in one's hands what is the "really historical," which means the purely human element in events. On the other hand, one has to try to show how it happened that the idea of God became interwoven through it all. And so it is that another "real" history is to be fashioned in place of the one given. Underneath the existing sources — that is to say, the biblical books themselves — we are supposed to find more original sources, which in turn become the criteria for interpretation. No one should really be surprised that this procedure leads to the sprouting of ever more numerous hypotheses until finally they turn into a jungle of contradictions. In the end, one no longer learns what the text says, but what it should have said, and by which component parts this can be traced back through the text. [1]

Such a state of affairs could not but generate a countereaction. Among cautious systematic theologians, there began the search for a theology which was as independent as possible from exegesis. [2] But what possible value can a theology have which is cut off from its own foundations? So it was that a radical approach called "fundamentalism" began to win supporters who brand as false in itself and contradictory any application of the historical-critical method to the Word of God. They want to take the Bible again in its literal purity, just as it stands and just as the average reader understands it to be. But when do I really take the Bible "literally"? And which is the "normative" understanding which holds for the Bible in all its particularity? Certainly fundamentalism can take as a precedent the position of the Bible itself, which has selected as its own hermeneutical perspective the viewpoint of the "little ones," the "pure of heart." [3] The problem still remains, however, that the demand for "literalness" and "realism" is not at all so univocal as it might first appear. In grappling with the problem of hermeneutics, another alternative process presents itself: the explanation of the historical process of the development of forms is only one part of the duty of the interpreter; his understanding within the world of today is the other. According to this idea, one should investigate the conditions for understanding itself in order to come to a visualization of the text which would get beyond this historical "autopsy." [4] In fact, as it stands, this is quite correct, for one has not really understood something in its entirety simply because one knows how to explain the circumstances surrounding its beginning.

But how is it possible to come to an understanding which on one hand is not based on some arbitrary choice of particular aspects, but on the other hand allows me to hear the message of the text AND NOT SOMETHING COMING FROM MY OWN SELF? Once the methodology has picked history to death by its dissection, who can reawaken it so that it can live and speak to me?

Let me put it another way: if "hermeneutics" is ever to become convincing, the inner harmony between historical analysis and hermeneutical synthesis must be first found.

To be sure, great strides have already been made in this direction, but I must honestly say that a truly convincing answer has yet to be formulated.[5] If Rudolph Bultmann used the philosophy of Martin Heidegger as a vehicle to represent the biblical word, then that vehicle stands in accord with his reconstruction of the essence of Jesus' message. But was this reconstruction itself not likewise a product of his philosophy? How great is its credibility from a historical point of view? In the end, are we listening to Jesus, or to Heidegger, with this kind of an approach to understanding? Still, one can hardly deny that Bultmann seriously grappled with the issue of increasing our access to the Bible's message. But today, certain forms of exegesis are appearing which can only be explained as symptoms of the disintegration of interetation and hermeneutics. Materialist and feminist exegesis, whatever else may be said about them, do not even claim to be an understanding of the text itself in the manner in which it was originally intended. At best they may be seen as an expression of the view that the Bible's nessage is in and of itself inexplicable, or else that it is meaningless for life in today's world. In this sense, they are no longer interested in ascertaining the truth, but only in whatever will serve their own particular agenda. They go on to justify this combination of agenda with biblical material by saying that the many religious elements help strengthen the vitality of the treatment. Thus historical method can even serve as a cloak for such maneuvers insofar as it dissects the Bible into discontinuous pieces, which are then able to be put to new use and inserted into a new montage altogether different from the original biblical ontext.


To repeat from the latter above from Cardinal Ratzi:

In this sense, they are no longer interested in ascertaining the truth, but only in whatever will serve their own particular agenda.

Dan Marcum

Esau stated
"No... wait!

The Church and Tradition has nothing to do with the Bible!

I know that the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible tells me so!"

Lol, so if I'm reading, "Why Jesus was Not God" by Damean Conner, and in the third paragraph it says, "This is the inspired Word of God," I'm supposed to believe it? I can just imagine it:
"I know that WJWNG is the Word of God because WJWNG tells me so!"
Of course, I believe the Bible is the Word of God, but I believe it because the Church tells me so, as a witness that was there in Jesus' time!

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