"To see Jesus with bodily eyes is... a wonderful thing! It only remains that we know if it is true. In all ages men have covered falsehoods with the veil of religion, that the appearance of divinity might conceal the human fraud." (Petrach, Decamaron.)


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Only Jesus (great song by Big Daddy)

What Did Jesus Say? (2012) - 7 topics 

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Maugans' Criticisms

In June 2009, Mr. Maugans has taken up the effort to criticize the thesis in Jesus Words Only (2006). Here are the topics he tries to criticize and my response:

Jesus Words Only

Mr. Maugans does not address the thesis directly. He tries to villify me and my supposed "ugly heresies," and portrays me as an "enemy ...of the faith."  He tries to claim that I am trying to revive Jefferson's approach which cut out the supernatural miracles of Jesus, and says I am going farther than Jefferson in equating Paul to Balaam. I am doing nothing comparable to Jefferson. I proclaim every word of Jesus is inspired, including the fact of all His miracles. On my webpage I link Jefferson and I mention Jefferson thought Jesus was a "moralist and no more," which "I disagree with," so it is evident that Mr. Maugans is engaged in trying to fit me like a round peg into a square hole.

Thus, by Mr. Maugans' effort to grossly distort my words, he tries to make it sound like I thought Jesus was just a "good man." This is emphatically false. I affirm Jesus' miracles, divinity and He was our Blessed Savior and Lord.

Red-Herring of Enoch Question

First, Mr. Maugans ignores the JWO book and focuses on an article posted at my website. Maugans tries to claim that in this article I wish to add a pseudographical text -- the Book of Enoch, when it is not a pseudograph at all. As I prove, it is a former part of the Christian canon until the late 300s when removed from the Roman Catholic canon. (Enoch has continuously remained part of the Eastern Orthodox canon of Ethiopia.) That is why Jude in the NT refers to it as part of canon and says "Enoch...prophesied," proving he thought it was inspired. (Jude 14.) I then question the reasoning that ejected it, especially in light of its "Son of Man Prophecy," which depicts the "Son of Man" who explicitly will be Messiah. 

The entire issue is a Red-Herring -- having nothing to do with the thesis of JWO. I simply think perhaps Enoch's being dropped from canon in 363 AD may one day be worthy of reconsideration. That's all. So what does that have to do with the JWO thesis? Absolutely nothing. Indeed, it is a valid point that we, the Christian community, should revisit canon to see whether politics excluded valid works (e.g., Enoch). But that is an entirely different question than the JWO issue. Maugans cannot criticize JWO, so he criticizes points having nothing to do with the JWO thesis.


Hebrew Matthew

Then Mr. Maugans focuses upon another article at my website. From this, Maugans tries to argue with my effort to use the Hebrew Matthew to correct an erroneous reference in the Greek NT in Matt. 27:9. Maugans claims my effort to do so is proof of my supposed scheme to add texts to the Bible.

Mr. Maugans is intent on making it appear I am trying to add Scripture by virtue of my discussion of the fact the Gospel of Matthew was written originally in Hebrew. (Of this there is no doubt, mentioned by all the early 'fathers,' e.g., Jerome. See this link) Mr. Maugans says I am "dangling" the possibility that Matthew was written originally in Hebrew, so as to make a correction that he views as an addition in Matthew 27:9.

By contrast, I support Matthew can be corrected in Matt. 27:9 using the Hebrew Matthew to say "Zechariah," but Mr. Maugans claims the Greek is well enough correct saying "Jeremiah," Maugans citing Jeremiah 32:6-13. Mr. Maugans' argument is unsupportable.

Matthew says in the Greek version (which forms our English translation) that Judas taking the 30 pieces of silver fulfilled a prophecy in Jeremiah: "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value."

This reference to "Jeremy" is wrong. It is Zechariah who uttered the prophecy quoted in Matthew 27:9:

Zechariah 11:12-13 (KJV): “(12) And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. (13) And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.”

Scholars bemoan there is no rescue for this error in the Greek NT tradition. Adam Clarke laments this error: “but it must be owned, that Jeremy is in all the Greek copies, in the Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions....”

However, I point out there is a rescue in the Hebrew Shem Tob manuscript, extant in the medieval period which was attached as an appendix to an anti-Christian polemic. We find the reference is more correctly to "Zechariah." Thus, I suggest that there might be other traces of the pre-Greek translation in the Shem Tob, as this anti-Christian polemic had no reason to fix the error in the Greek NT. Professor Howard, a Christian scholar, concurs in his book The Hebrew Matthew (1985).

Mr. Maugans claims there is no error in the Greek, and thus no need to look at the Shem Tob for assistance. He does so by quoting an irrelevant passage from Jeremiah 32:6-15 about 17 sheckels being paid to redeem some land in Israel, in trust that God one day would return the people to Israel. Somehow Mr. Maugans reads into the Jeremiah text the mention of buying a field and weighing out 17 shekels as having something to do with the 30 pieces of silver prophecy. Plain as day, it is not correct, yet Mr. Maugans declares: "Verses 11-15 explain exactly, the prophetic fulfillment to which Christ spoke."

How he can say this looking directly at the evidence is mystifying.

Mr. Maugans explains part of his reasoning. He strangely believes the Shem Tob was designed to discredit the "Jeremy" passage by saying "Zechariahs." He writes:

Of these texts, the Shem Tovvi is exalted by Tondo by exploiting the red herring of the so-called “error” in Matthew 27:9---Zechariah vs. Jeremiah citation by Jesus. Tondo asserts that only Shem Tov Matthew gets this right---BUT fails to note that Shem Tov, in being an anti-Christian polemic, was exploiting a very old controversy as a means to discredit scripture.

The opposite is true: the controversy is in the opposite direction, where the Jeremiah reference in the Greek text tradition discredits scripture by means of it being erroneous. By contrast, the Zechariah reference in Shem Tob, if this were the original variant spoken by Matthew, preserves the validity of the Gospel of Matthew. Thus, Shem Tob could not possibly have added in "Zechariah" to Matthew 27:9 to discredit scripture. Maugan's contrary notion is wholly preposterous because the Zechariah reference in Shem Tob is the one and only variant among all contending manuscripts which protects the validity of Matthew as Scripture.

And there is no plausible argument that Jeremiah is the correct reference. Instead, the Zechariah passage of 11:12-13 is clearly the text to which chapter 27 verse 9 of Matthew -- quoting "30 pieces of silver" -- is referencing.

Hence, once that is clear, which Mr. Maugans simply disregards, then one sees the anti-Christian polemic that used Shem Tob (Good News) as an appendix could not have put in the correct citation to Zechariah unless it was already present in the manuscript it quoted. Thus, unwittingly the anti-Christian polemic is the source of a bona fide correction that spares Apostle Matthew mis-citing a passage as if it were from Jeremiah when it clearly was from Zechariah. This lets us spare Apostle Matthew from falsification from a source that had no intent to protect him. Hence, it is a trustworthy source of repair precisely because it could not possibly have been intended to give us this correction from a pro-Christian bias. It was an anti-Christian polemic that included a copy of the Hebrew Matthew as a reference.

Hence, the Shem Tob is a potential source of valid variants, especially as we see it included a fix to Matthew 27:9 which its bias would seek to conceal. This demonstrates its honesty, and that it affixed what must be the true original manuscript of the Hebrew Matthew at least in this regard.

Maughans, however, in effect claims that the opposite is true. That the Shem-Tob Matthew 27:9 citing Zechariah is wrong, and the Shem Tob supposedly seeks to embarass Jesus by having his apostle Matthew cite Zechariah, not Jeremiah. Mr. Maughan's notion is frankly preposterous as there is 100% not a sliver of doubt that the 30 pieces of silver reference is to Zechariah, not Jeremiah, and the Greek text tradition is 100% wrong on this verse. Only the Hebrew text tradition is correct, and ironically it was preserved in a polemic against Christianity.

Thereby, the Shem Tob in this particular, not necessarily in others, gives us reason to infer the Hebrew Matthew contained a more original text, and this was preserved in the text republished by Professor Howard in 1985 in the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. The Shem Tob thus without intending to do so salvages the reliability of the original mss. of the Gospel of Matthew.

In sum, Mr. Maugans' view would leave our current manuscript falsely saying that the 30 pieces prophecy was spoken by Jeremiah. Hence, while I am trying to vindicate Jesus' gospel was accurately recorded by my reference to the Hebrew original version of Matthew, Mr. Maugans is pointing his readers away from the only sensible basis to repair this text, and thus the proof of inspiration of this particular text. Mr. Maugans would, if his position were maintained, unwittingly destroy the credibility of the Gospel of Matthew. For othewise, how could Matthew err in citing Jeremiah for a passage that only exists in Zechariah as all Christian scholars concur is the only place the 30 pieces of silver prophecy exists?

This sadly shows an adherent of Paul is so adamant to save Paul that he did not care too much that his argument would discredit Matthew who is the main apostolic repository of Jesus' words. This is an example of precisely the harm the Paulinists represent to the Gospel of Jesus. They are prepared to preserve Paul no matter what the cost -- even in this example Mr. Maugans recklessly throws aside the one legitimate solution to preserve the validity of Matthew's words as inspired. I know Mr. Maugans does not mean to do so, but that is the only logical conclusion one can draw if you accept no repair is possible to the Greek text using the Hebrew Matthew.

Regardless, this entire issue has nothing to do with any theses in my books. He is trying to build a case that I am seeking other extra-biblical authority over the Bible. However, this is nonsensical as I am using a version of Matthew in Hebrew that has traces which show it is more original than our Greek mss. If it is the original mss of Matthew, then how could that be 'extra-bibilical?' How could someone who is arguing for the most authentic original for this verse at issue be using extra-biblical authority? I am thus at a loss to see any validity to this particular criticism.

Short Biography of Jesus without the Miraculous: Its Own Miracle

Mr. Maugans finally focuses upon another article on my website -- not the JWO thesis. From this article, Maugans tries to imply I think Jesus is 'just a good guy.' (Absurd!) He writes:

Tondo in another essay, A Short Biography of Jesus Without the Miraculous: Its Own Miracle, presents the idea that Jesus’ miracles were not necessary to the presentation of His Messiahship. Essentially, Tondo says that Jesus was just a “good guy” who loved people and helped the lame and poor. This, in contradiction of CLEAR scripture:

John 2:11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.
John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name,when they saw the miracles which he did.

(These quotes are from John, NOT Paul)

Randy Maugans, The Case Against Paul-Part 1 (June 25, 2009) at 4.

In my response via email to Mr. Maugans on October 23, 2009 (to which I still have no reply as of March 2013), I wrote:

Dear Mr. Maugans:
You have misconstrued many things I said, but please take time again to read “A Short Biography of Jesus without the miraculous.” I am not saying Jesus was just a good guy and did not perform miracles, as you claim. Quite the opposite.

What I was I saying in that article was here is proof from the New Testament of its miraculous divine origin by examining the fact it portrays its founder as killed as a criminal, and the words of Jesus are so extraordinarily unique that one can know who Jesus was without ever seeing a miracle. You don’t need to see a single miracle first-hand to know of the miraculous nature of Jesus. Here is a key point in the second paragraph and concluding line of my article:

“A Counter-Intuitive Story More Miraculous Than Any Miracle Recounted in The Gospels....If one were going to invent the story of a miraculous figure who was divine, the story about Jesus would be the last kind of story to tell. Yet, it is the very fact the story is so contrary to how we would write such a story if we were going to dupe people that gives it its amazing validity....His biography is its own miracle.”

What you say is clearly unfair to me and my love of the Lord, and my holding conservatively to Scripture. You say that I present “the idea that Jesus’ miracles were not necessary to the presentation of His Messiahship. Essentially, Mr. Tondo says that Jesus was just a 'good guy' who loved people and helped the lame and poor. This, in contradiction of CLEAR scripture.”

Your characterization is absolutely false. To say the story itself has a miraculous component before I examine the miracles is to focus on a means of evangelism overlooked by many. Anyone can claim even a modern day faith healer performed a miracle. But I want to know about the faith healer, his friends, his story. And that is what makes Jesus’ story have its initial miraculous CONVINCING nature. I never say that Jesus was just a good guy. That is false. You know that if you read anything I said....DD

Conclusion [added March 2013]

Maugans did not addresss a single issue about the validity of Paul in his critique. First, Maugans raised irrelevant red-herrings about Enoch and the Hebrew Matthew.

Finally, Maugans distorted my argument about the miraculous nature of Jesus from the story of Jesus' alone as supposedly meaning that the proof of miracles Jesus did are irrelevant in presentation of who Jesus is. That is completely a non-sequitur. I simply isolated one argument recognized by scholars that the story of Jesus is unique and counter-intuitive that only God would make it happen -- a story men would not create if they were trying to dupe people into the belief in a miraculous figure. It is that miraculous aspect of the story which makes the account of the miracles credible to us centuries later. Thus, my point was to make the story of Jesus more credible in all aspects, including Jesus' miracles, by reminding us of the counter-intuitive aspects of the story which make it extraordinary -- truly something God could only have conceived and planned. In the final analysis, Maugan's argument about how I emphasize the miraculous story of Jesus is just another irrelevant red-herring. Maugans tried using an article on my website in a distorted manner to scare away true searchers rather than Maugans simply examining the JWO thesis, and finding any flaws.

Thus, Maugans was the first major response 7 years ago. The same pattern has persisted for 7 years now. No one is willing to confront any of the main evidence I relied upon 7 years ago in JWO to challenge the validity of Paul, e.g., in Acts, the Jesus Paul met outside Damascus never calls Paul an apostle; in Revelation, there are only 12 apostles for eternity but in Acts 1 Matthias was added as the 12th so there is no room for Paul, etc. Again, this silence after almost 1 million hits at JWO.com continues to strengthen my view that such evidence presented 7 years ago was correct.