Alleged Historical Inaccuracies


How the Anti-missionaries use Unequal Weights and Measures
Part 1: Alleged Historical Inaccuracies
James Scott Trimm

The Torah teaches us a principle of using equal weights of measures:

35 You shall do no unrighteousness: in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.
36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall you have: I am YHWH your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
(Lev. 19:35-36 HRV)
13 You shall not have in your bag diverse weights–a great and a small.
14 You shall not have in your house diverse measures–a great and a small.
15 A perfect and just weight shall you have; a perfect and just measure shall you have, that your days may be long upon the land which YHWH your Elohim gives you.
16 For all that do such things, even all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto YHWH your Elohim.
(Deut. 25:13-16 HRV)

This is a principle that tells us that we must use the same standard of measurement in judging others as we use when judging ourselves.  In the same way we must judge the beliefs of others by the same standards that we judge our own beliefs.  Likewise we must not judge the contents of the so-called “New Testament” by a different standard that we judge the Tanak.

Anti-missionaries like Tovia Singer violate this principle because they regularly judge the contents of the so-called “New Testament” by a stricter standard than they judge the Tanak.

An argument that proves too much, proves nothing at all.  In this case an argument which would also disprove the contents of the Tanak is not a valid Jewish argument against the contents of the so-called “New Testament.”

Alleged Historical Inaccuracies

To begin with the Anti-missionaries will argue that there are historical inaccuracies in the so-called “New Testament.”  These arguments often involve arguments based on an absence of evidence.  It is important to remember the old scholarly adage “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”  The fact that no evidence currently exists to support a given fact, does not make that fact untrue.

This is an example of unequal weights and measures because there are similar alleged historical inaccuracies in the Tanak.

For example Daniel 4:1-37 records that Nebuchadnezzar spent seven years insane and living like an animal, however there is no record of this in any secular historical source, and due to this absence of evidence many skeptics regard this as a historical inaccuracy.

According to the Book of Daniel, “That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom being about 6sixty two years old.” (Dan. 5:30-31).   Yes secular historians say that Belshazzar was not the king of Babylon at the time and that Nabonidus was the king of Babylon at the demise of the Chaldean Empire. Belshazzar was his son.  Also there is no reference to Darius the Mede in any ancient document, in fact secular historians claim that Darius never took the kingdom nor was he ever king of Babylon.

In 2 Kings l5:19 we read “Pul the King of Assyria came against the land;….”  Yet in secular sources there was no person named “Pul” who was known to becomes King of Assyria. The king who secular historians believe reigned in Assyria at that time was Iva-bish.

In fact skeptics have argued that there is no historical evidence that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or even Moses ever existed (much less Adam, Enoch or Noah).  They argue that there is no historical evidence that there was ever a slaughter of the innocents at the time of Moses birth, or that the Hebrews were ever slaves in Egypt, or that the exodus ever occurred.

One could go on, but it is not my intent here to tear down the Tanak.  I firmly believe in the inspiration of every word of the Tanak.  I believe that any and all historical discrepancies can ultimately be explained.

However like a man who lives in a glass house throwing stones, the Anti-missionaries do not use equal weights and measures in this regard.  While the Tanak itself is filled with alleged historical inaccuracies the anti-missionaries attack the so-called New Testament for containing alleged historical inaccuracies.

For example the anti-missionaries will argue that Nazareth did not yet exist in the first century.  This is based on the fact that Nazareth is not mentioned in any Jewish literature prior to the third century C.E..

But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and in 1962 a Hebrew inscription was found on a marble fragment from a synagogue found in Caesarea Maritima which mentioned Nazareth in the assignment of priests that took place at some time after the Bar Kokhba revolt, 132-35 AD.   So few today doubt the fact that Nazareth did in fact exist as early as the first century.

Anti-missionaries have also argued that Luke’s account of the events leading to the birth of Yeshua is filled with historical inaccuracies.  They argue that there was no census, Quirinius was not governor of Syria at that time, and people did not have to return to their ancestral home as Luke said.

Now lets look carefully at Luke 2:1-2

And it happened that in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the Land should be enrolled.  This enrollment first happened during the governorship of Quirinius in Syria.
(Luke 2:1-2 HRV)

For “all the Land” the Old Syriac Aramaic has KOLEH ERA which is ambiguous in Aramaic. ERA (Strong’s #772) is the Aramaic equivalent of Hebrew eretz (Strong’s 776).  This word can mean “world” (as in Prov. 19:4) “earth” (as in Dan. 2:35) or “land” (as in Dan. 9:15) and is often used as a euphemism for “The Land of Israel” (as in Dan. 9:6).

The Greek translator mistook the word to mean “world” here causing scholars to mistakenly think that Luke was speaking of one of the three empire-wide censuses which took place in 28 B.C., 8 B.C., and 14 A.D.  None of these dates fits well with the time of the birth of Messiah.

However we learn from the Aramaic text that Luke actually refers a much smaller local census and not one of these empire-wide censuses at all.  This is supported by the fact that Luke uses the phrase “this enrollment first happened” so as to contrast this enrollment by another ordered by Quirinius in 6 C.E. which Luke mentions in his second book (Acts 5:37).  That census was a local census of Judah and so it stands to reason that this census was also a local census of Judah or “Ha-Eretz” “The Land” as well.

Luke says this happened “during the governorship of Quirinius in Syria”  This is the reading of the Peshitta Aramaic.  The Old Syriac Aramaic says “in the years of Quirinius governor of Syria.”

His full name was Publius Sulpicius Quirinius.  Skeptics have made much of the fact that Quirinius is known to have become Governor of Syria in 6 C.E. (several years to late to fit the time of Yeshua’s birth).  However there are two very workable solutions to this apparent problem.

The first is that Quirinius may have served as governor of Syria once before, perhaps as a military governor, prior to his installation in 6 C.E..  A Latin inscription has been found recording the career of a distinguished Roman officer who, when he became imperial legate of Syria entered upon that office ‘for the second time’ (Lat. iterum).  This Roman officer could very well be Quirinius.

The second is that “the years of Quirinius” actually began before he actually became governor of Syria.  Quirinius was governing in Syria as a Roman Senator in charge of being the assessor of property in Syria as well as Judea (which the Romans regarded as part of Syria). His name was also mentioned in “Res Gestae – The Deeds of Augustus by Augustus” which was found in the city of Antioch Pisidia placing him as consul as early as 12 B.C..  The Greek geographer and historian Strabo (circa 63 B.C. – circa A.D. 23), seems to indicate Quirinius may have been in Syria with a special commission for military operations  between 10 and 7 B.C.  Moreover the Roman historian Tacitus mentions that Quirinius was appointed by Augustus to be an advisor to his young son Caius Caesar in Armenia.  Caius was sent to administer Syria in 1 C.E. with Quirininus as his advisor.  So there is good evidence that “the years of Quirinius” in Syria began several years before his installation as governor in 6 C.E..

The fact is that both the Tanak and the so-called “New Testament” are filled with alleged historical inaccuracies.  Anti-missionaries violate the Torah principle and do not use equal weights and measures when they attack the so-called “New Testament” for having alleges historical inaccuracies when they know quite well that the Tanak is also filled with such alleged inaccuracies.


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