Mt 3:1 1In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea.
TJ 3:1 1In due course, Johannes the Baptist came to the edge of the wilderness and preached at the banks of the Jordan.
TJ 3:1 1Zu gegebener Zeit kam Johannes der Täufer und predigte an den Ufern des Jordans, am Rande der Wüste.
THE PROBLEM. Here, Beare (p. 88) noted that Matthew's wilderness area must be taken to include at least the lower reaches of the Jordan valley. He could not believe that John would do his preaching in one region and lead the people to another region for their baptisms, which wouldn't have made sense. Beare also pointed out that the wilderness, or desert, was no place for a preacher to attract large crowds.
SOLUTION. The TJ verse is not subject to Beare's criticisms, as the Baptist's preaching occurred at the banks of the Jordan, which is on the edge of the wilderness area. There is little doubt that the compiler's reason for altering the TJ verse in this manner was to make it consistent with his scriptural insertion two verses later (see below) involving "the voice of one crying in the wilderness."
The odds seem high that the writer of Matthew fictionalized his source to some extent here, whereas it seems rather unlikely that a literary hoaxer would have noticed this discrepant detail. Together these suggest to me that for this piece of evidence, PHoax ≈ 0.3, given that either the TJ was derived from Matthew or Matthew was derived from the TJ.
Of course, those who assume Matthew was derived from Mark would blame the illogic upon the writer of Mark, who is known for his lack of geographical knowledge of the Palestine area. By the same token, however, it is consistent that he would not have detected and corrected this Matthean problem if forming his gospel primarily out of Matthew.
Mt 3:2-3 2"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 3For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."
TJ 3:2-4 [Not cognates] 2Johannes
the Baptist preached of baptism* in accordance with
the old laws of El,
according to which the way to knowledge was to be prepared. 3He
preached that El's laws
shall be followed because he is the sole ruler of this human species. 4He
preached that above El,
however, stands Creation, the source of the worlds, universes and all
*Note: The TJ's 4th edition uses the word "blessing" instead of "baptism" in its English, when referring to it in this chapter. The editor, Meier, felt that the word "baptism" carries a Christian connotation inappropriate to the original ritual performed by John. I have retained the "baptism" word and root here because of its one-to-one correspondence with the German word Taufe.
TJ 3:2-4 2Johannes der Täufer predigte die Taufe nach den alten Gesetzen Gottes, wonach der Weg zum Wissen bereitet werde. 3Er predigte, dass Gottes Gesetze zu befolgen seien, da er für dieses Menschengeschlecht der alleinige Herrscher sei. 4Er lehrte aber, dass über Gott die Schöpfung stehe, die Gebärung der Welten, Universen und Lebewesen.
THE PROBLEMS. This is the first spot in Matthew where "Kingdom of heaven" occurs. Both John's listeners and the audience of the Gospel of Matthew therefore would need to have the meaning of the phrase explained, as the people being baptized were not learned theologians. However, it is not explained, here or later. Even if the listeners had been theologians, however, the Scriptures leave the meaning ambiguous. In Ps 145:13 and Dn 6:26, for example, God's kingdom is described in terms of an everlasting realm in heaven from which miracles are wrought both in heaven and earth, whereas in 1 Chr 28:5 and Dn 2:44, for example, this kingdom is an everlasting kingdom on earth. If the intended meaning instead was that God's kingdom in heaven would soon become manifest on earth in the form of Jesus, this lasted for only a very few years before the crucifixion; moreover, Jesus himself prophesied that he (and God's kingdom?) would not arrive until the End Days in some undefined future time. Or did "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" mean that people alive then would, in not too many years, soon be dead, so that for those going to heaven their entry into this realm was imminent?
Regarding Mt 3:3, Beare (pp. 89-90) showed it is not the original meaning of Isaiah (Is 40:3), who meant God, not Jesus, when referring to LORD, and whose main thought was not of preaching in the wilderness, but of building a new roadway there.
SOLUTION. Relative to the TJ, Mt 3:2-3 can be seen as a substitution for TJ material that would have been heretical to the compiler. To read that El was not true God the Creator (Creation), but was an entity (ET) less than Creation, was absolutely unacceptable. Thus he had to omit the TJ verses or substitute something else for them. He did the latter, utilizing Is 40:3.
In assessing a probability value to the absence of parallel TJ cognates here, we note that the second Matthean verse is quite definitely bogus, whereas a literary hoaxer might not have known this. PHoax ≈ 0.45
Mt 3:5-6 5Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, 6and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
TJ 3:7 7All Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went forth to Johannes the Baptist, acknowledging the wisdom of the old laws of El, and let themselves be baptized by him in the river Jordan.
TJ 3:7 7Und es ging zu Johannes dem Täufer hinaus das ganze jüdische Land und alle Leute von Jerusalem und bekannten sich zum Wissen der alten Gesetze Gottes und liessen sich von ihm taufen im Jordan.
THE PROBLEM. Beare (pp. 91-92) remarked upon the improbability that the people being baptized would have made individual confessions to John of their sins. And of course Christian confessional creeds had not yet been composed. Beare suggested that perhaps no words of confession were spoken at all. He noted that the historian, Josephus (in book 18 of the Jewish Antiquities), writing well before the Gospels came out, thought John had conducted his baptisms for the sake of purifying the righteous, not for the benefit of sinners.
SOLUTION. From the TJ verse we see that confession of sins was not involved, or not stated to have been involved. Beare seems to have been correct. If confession had been involved, surely John, as a matter of procedure, would have asked Jesus to confess his sins.
It is evident that the writer of Matthew would not have utilized the TJ's text of the people having "acknowledged the wisdom of the old laws of El" during baptism, because from the TJ he had read what this had entailed, including "to obey the laws of nature and live according to them" (TJ 3:21). This was unacceptable, as it did not stem from the Torah as he knew it. PHoax ≈ 0.4.
Mt 3:7 7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
TJ 3:9-10 9While he was baptizing many of the people, many Pharisees and Sadducees came to him who humiliated him with malicious talk. 10But Johannes the Baptist spoke: "You brood of adders, who told you that you will escape from future wrath, once your erroneous teachings are revealed?"
TJ 3:9-10 9Als er viel des Volkes taufte, also kamen viele Pharisäer und Sadduzäer zu ihm, die ihn mit ihren bösen Reden beschämten. 10Johannes der Täufer aber sprach: «Ihr Otterngezücht, wer hat denn euch gewiesen, dass ihr dem künftigen Zorne entrinnen werdet, wenn eure irren Lehren erkannt sind?»
THE PROBLEMS. This is the first verse in Matthew in which Pharisees and Sadducees are mentioned. Why then are they referred to as the Pharisees and Sadducees, as if the writer of Matthew was already aware of their presence in this section of his gospel?
In Mt 3:7 John the Baptist starts right out rebuking these Pharisees and Sadducees without there being any mention of any immediate prior provocation. This seems strange or out of character for a preacher held in the highest esteem by Jesus. Just as important, we note how improbable it would be for Pharisees and Sadducees to wish to be baptized by someone who called them a "brood of vipers," before calling for them to repent.
And why would John ask Pharisees and Sadducees who it was that had warned them, since any such warning would probably have come from John himself (Beare, p. 93). And why should they be rebuked for listening to the warning of wrath to come?
SOLUTION. This is the first mention of Pharisees or Sadducees in the TJ also, where they are introduced realistically as "many Pharisees and Sadducees." The writer of Matthew apparently slipped up here in having read of the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes so often from his TJ source document that he forgot that this was their first mention for his gospel.
The linkage of these two groups is not expected by scholars, since the basic beliefs of the two groups differed, and Matthew's use of "the Pharisees and Sadducees" tends to link the two groups together much more so than is done in the TJ's phrasing. Although the two groups appear together within the same sentence three other times in the TJ, in two of these they are again not linked—the two groups are expressed as "the Pharisees and the Sadducees." Only once are they linked as "the Sadducees and Pharisees" (TJ 18:2//Mt 16:1), whose order the writer of Matthew reversed.
In the TJ (3:9), the taunting of John by Pharisees and Sadducees is first mentioned. Only after that came John's name-calling and rebukes in response. And in the TJ verse, it is "the people" who were baptized, not Pharisees and Sadducees. These objections on the lack of realism of the Matthean verse seem not to be known, or at least not readily to be found in the scholarly literature prior to the time that the TJ was published. PHoax ≈ 0.2
The meaning of "the wrath to come" referred to in Matthew may not have been clear to its listeners; it is usually assumed to mean the punishment to be inflicted by God on the day of judgment (Zep 1:15). From the TJ context (TJ 3:11-18 below), however, one sees that the "future wrath" referred to the great anger that will ensue amongst followers of the religion when they finally learn that the teachings they had been observing are false. Pharisees and Sadducees were continuing to spread their false teachings, indicating to John that they were under the impression they would escape any such consequent future wrath (presumably to occur within their future lives). Obviously, the "false teachings" portion of the verse had to be omitted by the writer of Matthew, since he believed in the Torah.
Mt 3:8-10 8"Bear fruit that befits repentance, 9and do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
TJ 3:11-18 11"See to it that you bear righteous fruit of repentance and learn the truth. 12Turn away from the evil of your erroneous teachings, which you carry out with arrogance and pursuant with your greed for power and treasures. 13Do not think just of saying to each other, 'We have Abram (Abraham) as father.' 14I say to you, with his knowledge and his power, El is able to raise up children to Abram out of these stones, because he has knowledge of the secret of Creation. 15Already the axe has been laid at the root of the trees. Therefore, any tree that does not bring forth good fruit will be hewn down and thrown into the fire. 16You brood of adders, in two times a thousand years you and your followers, who pursue erroneous teachings out of your own haughtiness in your greed for power and treasures, shall be vanquished and, on account of your lies, punished. 17So it shall be, when the human species begin to comprehend, and when the chaff is separated from the grain. 18It will be at the time when your erroneous teachings will be laughed at and the human species discover the truth."
TJ 3:11-18 11«Sehet zu; tut rechtschaffene Frucht der Busse und lernet die Wahrheit. 12Kehret ab vom Übel eurer irren Lehren, die ihr in Hochmut und im Sinne eurer Machtgier und Schatzgier betreibt. 13Denket nur nicht, dass ihr bei euch wollt sagen: ‹Wir haben Abram zum Vater›. 14Ich sage euch: Gott vermag mit seinem Wissen und seiner Kraft Abram aus diesen Steinen Kinder zu erwecken, weil er um das Geheimnis der Schöpfung weiss. 15Es ist schon die Axt den Bäumen an die Wurzel gelegt; darum, welcher Baum nicht gute Frucht bringt, wird abgehauen und ins Feuer geworfen. 16Ihr Otterngezücht, in zweimal tausend Jahren werdet ihr und eure Nachfahren, die ihr irre Lehren zu eurem eigenen Hochmut in Machtgier und Schatzgier betreibt, vernichtet und der Lüge bestraft werden. 17So wird es sein, wenn die Menschengeschlechter zu wissen beginnen und die Spreu vom Korne sich scheidet. 18Es wird die Zeit sein, wenn eure irren Lehren belacht werden und die Menschengeschlechter die Wahrheit finden.»
THE PROBLEM. Here in Matthew, Beare (p. 93) mentioned that these verses, with their great brevity, fail to give an adequate summary of the essence of John's teaching. Beare could presume that a larger body of material from John the Baptist was available to the writer of Matthew, but that he utilized only that part of it which tied in most closely with early Christian views.
SOLUTION. The TJ presents a very substantial message from John and so does not suffer from Beare's criticism. John's speech, which extends beyond what is presented here, is in general agreement with Jmmanuel's message given later in the TJ, causing one to suspect that John had also been a contactee of the same ETs from the region of the Pleiades. From the TJ we find greater reason why John was considered to be a prophet.
The fact that Beare's objection is little known, and that a literary hoaxer would take quite a risk adding material that might give a hoax away, suggests to me that the odds for a hoax in the case of the above verse comparison is quite small. However, a typical skeptic might feel that the mention of "two times a thousand years" indicates a hoaxer was using hindsight from our own time, while dismissing the thought that such a person as a long-range prophet who was successful could actually have existed. Thus I assign PHoax ≈ 0.5 here.
But the question also arises, how natural was it to express 2,000 years as "two times a thousand years" over 1900 years ago? We know from the Bible that to express a quantity as one number times another number was not too unusual. In the Old Testament one finds the expressions: "seven times seven years" (Lev 25:8), and "a hundred times as many as they are" (2 Sam 24:3, 1 Chr 21:3). In the book of 1 Enoch (14:22-23) we find a certain large number expressed as "ten thousand times ten thousand." In Daniel (7:10), which was written originally in Aramaic, we also find "ten thousand times ten thousand." In Matthew we find "seventy times seven." Hence "times" was used then in the same multiplicative sense as now.[0.8] However, numbers were usually expressed in the Hebraic language without the "times," but when it comes to a large number of years, one finds "a thousand years" expressed as such only once (Ps 90:4). This could be because it was an unimaginably long time span. The only time span longer than that in the Bible, other than "a thousand generations," occurs in Ecclesiastes, and is expressed as "a thousand years twice told" (Eccl 6:6), which means two-thousand years. Hence it should not seem surprising that the TJ's writer usually used the similar expression: "two times a thousand years," for expressing this huge time span. However, he twice used the expression "two thousand years" (in the German translation of the Aramaic) suggesting that either usage was optional for him unless it was instead the translator, Isa Rashid, who sometimes modernized it.
Mt 3:11a 11"I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry."
TJ 3:22-23a 22"O you renegades, you brood of adders, get away from this place, because you are impure and cursed in your erroneous teachings. 23Get away from this place, because I can by my own accord baptize you into repentance only with water; but he who comes after me is stronger than I, and I am not worthy of removing his sandals."
TJ 3:22-23a 22«Oh ihr Abtrünnigen, ihr Otterngezucht, weicht von diesem Ort, denn ihr seid unrein und verflucht in euren irrigen Lehren. 23Weichet von diesem Ort, denn ich vermag euch mit Willen nur mit Wasser zur Busse zu taufen; der aber nach mir kommt, ist stärker als ich, und ich bin nicht genug, ihm die Schuhe abzunehmen;»
DISCUSSION. Two major differences here are worth discussing. In Matthew, John apparently baptized the Pharisees and Sadducees after speaking very harshly to them, calling them a brood of vipers. This would be an improbable event, as noted under Mt 3:7. In the TJ, however, John shoos the Pharisees and Sadducees away with even more harsh language and does not baptize them, apparently because he feels that baptism by water, even if they were willing, would be futile in trying to bring those particular people to repentance.
Second, in Matthew John admits to being not worthy to carry Jesus' sandals, while in the TJ he admits to not being worthy to unfasten Jmmanuel's sandals. It turns out that in both Aramaic and Hebrew the words for "carry" (as in Gn 44:1, for example) and "unfasten" or "remove" (as in Ex 3:5, for example) are very similar: nasah and nashal, respectively. On the other hand, Mark's parallel involves unworthiness to stoop down and untie the thongs of the sandals (Mk 1:7). From the present point of view the sequence of editing suggested by this is: (a) the writer of Matthew carried this small part over properly from the TJ into his Hebraic gospel; (b) the writer of Mark properly interpreted Hebraic Matthew's words here, though often expanding upon them as was his style when not omitting sections; (c) the writer of Luke followed Mark or Hebraic Matthew here; and (d) the later translator of Hebraic Matthew into Greek, writing soon after Luke appeared, misinterpreted the word to mean "carry" instead of "remove."
Mt 3:11b 11"...he [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
TJ 3:23b 23"...He will baptize you with the knowledge of the spirit and with the fire of truth."
TJ 3:23b 23«...er wird euch mit dem Wissen des Geistes taufen und mit dem Feuer der Wahrheit.»
THE PROBLEM. Beare (pp. 94-95) pointed out the great likelihood that "Holy Spirit" here is a (later) Christian interpretation of John's words.
SOLUTION. From this verse comparison, and others to come, we find that knowledge and truth are nothing the compiler thought should be dispensed at baptism, since they have nothing to do with forgiving men their sins. Further, since the Torah was God's truth itself, why should Pharisees need to hear any truths other than what comes from the Torah? And if people were encouraged to seek after truth, they would start questioning the truth of the teachings of the scribes and the church. Hence, the TJ verse had to be edited, with the human spirit being altered into the Holy Spirit and "knowledge" omitted.
It is unlikely that a literary hoaxer would invent the theme that the writer of Matthew did not wish truth to be the concern of the Christian, and realize that Matthew's "fire" could have derived from a longer phrase that would make sense, and realize that "Holy Spirit" in connection with baptism here was anachronistic. PHoax ≈ 0.25.
Now, in Matthew it is the Pharisees and Sadducees whom John is baptizing (see Mt 3:7 & TJ 3:9 above). However, in all the rest of Matthew, contrary to Mt 3:11, Jesus never baptized Pharisees and Sadducees, whether with the Holy Spirit, or with fire or with water. So this verse may be classed as another example of Matthean "fatigue." After making his alteration in what John said, and in continuing to make many other alterations to the TJ's material, the writer forgot to invent a later verse that would demonstrate Jesus baptizing Pharisees and Sadducees with either the Holy Spirit or with fire. However, in the TJ Jmmanuel speaks harsh words of truth to Pharisees and Sadducees (e.g., TJ 23:1-27), which "baptizes" them into the knowledge of the human spirit and the "fire of truth." To baptize "with the fire of truth" is understandable, whereas to baptize "with fire" is not.
Mt 3:16 16And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him.
TJ 3:30 30When Jmmanuel had been baptized, he soon came out of the water of the Jordan, and behold, a metallic light fell from the sky and rushed over the Jordan.
TJ 3:30 30Und da Jmmanuel getauft war, stieg er alsbald aus dem Wasser des Jordans; und siehe, da fiel ein metallenes Licht aus dem Himmel und stürzte über den Jordan.
THE PROBLEMS. According to Leander Keck, various readings of this verse "reveal that there is no single tradition of the dove, and that its meaning was problematic from the start." He went on to survey the various interpretations that have been placed on the dove symbology, all being relatively uncertain.
Also, what does it mean to say, "the heavens were opened?" Was not the sky always open on a clear day? (The Greek word for heaven or heavens: ουρανος, also means "sky.") The expression seems to derive from Ez 1:1.
We may further note that "spirit" is something immaterial and unseen. Hence, it could not have been seen by Jesus, "alighting" upon him or "coming upon him" as if it were a material object like a dove landing on his shoulder. This imagery seems to stem from Is 42:1.
SOLUTION. What we are apparently seeing here is the compiler making full use of his wide knowledge of the Jewish literature while weeding out heresies from the TJ. He understood that what was described here was of a similar nature to what Ezekiel encountered with the "wheel within a wheel," and so utilized Ezekiel's introduction of "the heavens were opened" (Ez 1:1) as his own introduction to the Jordan River event. The idea for the compiler to alter an unknown metallic-looking object (UFO) in the TJ into the Spirit of God in Matthew then appears to have derived from Ez 11:5 ("And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me," or from Is 42:1 ("...I [God] have put my spirit upon him..."). The likely connection between these Old and New Testament verses is discussed by Borg. Other names for a UFO in the Bible are "God's glory," "pillar of cloud", "chariot of clouds," and "pillar of fire" or "chariot of fire."
The writer's choice of a bird to represent the descended Holy Spirit should not be too surprising. According to C. S. Mann, "The descent of a bird—especially a dove—upon a chosen person is a common motif in ancient Near Eastern legend." The choice of dove may also have emanated from it being a symbol of innocence and from the desire to emphasize Jesus' innocent and sinless nature. Adding to this is the symbology of the dove in representing the "perfect one," as in the Song of Solomon 6:9, and the dove's importance in the story of Noah's ark (Gn 8:8-12).
The TJ is not subject to any of these problems, while avoiding them in an uncontrived manner. Hence the likelihood of a literary hoax here seems rather small, although it has been claimed that the adjective "metallic" did not exist in the Aramaic language in the first century AD, hence the German adjective "metallen" should not have been utilized by Rashid in his translation. However, it can be shown that appropriate Aramaic dictionaries for the appropriate time period do contain examples showing that the Aramaic equivalent of "metal" was used as an adjective as well as a noun.
In addition, a supporter of the hoax hypothesis may claim that since awareness of UFOs is a part of the New Age movement, a New Age hoaxer fed it in here. Yet, the very strong evidence pointing to the reality of the UFO phenomenon and all that it explains within Old Testament Merkabah mysticism, more than cancels this claim. PHoax ≈ 0.35.
Mt 3:16b-17 ...and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; 17and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
TJ 3:31-32 31Consequently they all fell on their faces and pressed them into the sand while a voice from the metallic light spoke, 32"This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased. He will be the king of truth, through which the terrestrial human species shall rise as wise ones."
TJ 3:31-32 31Also fielen sie alle auf ihr Angesicht und gruben es in den Sand, derweil eine Stimme aus dem metallenen Lichte sprach: 32«Dies ist mein lieber Sohn, an welchem ich Wohlgefallen habe; er wird der König der Wahrheit sein, durch die sich die irdischen Menschengeschlechter zu Wissenden erheben sollen.»
THE PROBLEMS. It has been pointed out by John Meagher that it is surprising the reader is "given no information about how Jesus or the others who are present reacted to such remarkable happenings." Although Meagher's question was directed at the text of Mark, which he assumed was the first gospel, it applies equally well to Matthew due to the close parallels between the two.
Although "he saw" may imply that only Jesus saw the Spirit and heard the voice, the fact that the voice was addressed to everyone else there must indicate that they all saw and heard it.
A minor problem is that the Greek text of Matthew reads "with whom I was well pleased." According to M. Black, this may be a Semitism—the static perfect tense improperly rendered.
SOLUTION. Meagher's observation was quite perceptive. One sees from the TJ that all the people there were awestruck and/or scared to death, except for Jmmanuel (and perhaps John?). The TJ has no exclusionary "he saw" clause. Quite likely Jmmanuel had experienced the presence of his father and his "sky chariot" on a few previous occasions during his years in India, and so was not too startled.
The writer of Matthew apparently felt that there was no need to include the fear factor upon portraying the situation as one of the Spirit of God descending like a dove. But he could not of course have included the second sentence of TJ 3:32, since Jesus was to be a figure of worship much more than a teacher of truth and wisdom. The TJ verse shows impressive realism in a manner seemingly too creative for a hoaxer to have invented, while not being subject to Matthew's problems: PHoax ≈ 0.2.
If the estimated probabilities that the TJ is a hoax from just the TJ-Mt 3 verse comparisons are accumulated, one finds an overall probability of 0.0022.
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0.8 Johns, Alger, A short Grammar of Biblical Aramaic (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University, 1966), p. 88.
1. Private communication of 28 Oct. 2004 with Bruce Chilton.
2. Keck, Leander E., "The spirit and the dove," NTS 17 (1970), pp. 41-67; see p. 41.
3. Borg, Marcus, Jesus: A New Vision (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987), p. 30.
4. Mann, C. S., The Anchor Bible: Mark (Garden City, NY:Doubleday, 1986), p. 200.
5. Meagher, John C., Clumsy Construction in Mark's Gospel (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1979), p. 40.
6. Black, Matthew An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), p. 128.