I want to reply to Steve's critique of my post:
Here's a provocative post:http://www.alankurschner.com/2015/05/19/you-tell-me-what-will-cause-the-world-to-faint-with-fear-apocalyptic-skies-causing-celestial-disturbances-or-mark-biltzs-benign-lunar-eclipses/That's very interesting. However, I don't think the scientific or exegetical evidence justifies the conclusion:i) To ancient readers, wouldn't a blood red moon automatically connote a lunar eclipse? Isn't that the association it would ordinarily trigger?
First, Steve does not mention the point of my post, which impinges on his critique. Instead, he focuses on a single aspect of it which distorts my actual argumentation. My point was to explain the plausibility of a scenario of the biblical description of the celestial harbinger to the return of Christ over above Mark Biltz's isolated lunar eclipse theory.
But to answer Steve's question, no, it would not automatically connote a lunar eclipse since I presume ancient people could easily distinguish between a lunar eclipse that causes a reddish color and something more dramatic such as a nearby volcano causing severe atmospheric conditions.
ii) In principle, there are different things that can block sunlight. However, when sun and moon are paired, with unusual optical effects attributed to both, surely that would suggest a solar and lunar eclipse.
The biblical description—and this was a point in my article—conveys a cluster of heavenly and terrestrial events happening in conjunction with each other (e.g. Joel 2, Mt 24, Luke 21, Rev 6). Not piece meal. Which explains why it terrifies the wicked. Meteorites, volcanoes, and perhaps some other catastrophe most certainly will cause this.
And that's an accurate description of both. In a solar eclipse, the sun turns black (except for a fiery halo or annulus), while the moon turns red.
See my comments above. Moreover, the biblical description conveys (1) that this is not some normal eclipse that lasts mere moments or minutes, and (2) it conveys a universal phenomenon, not a local region (e.g. "Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free...” Rev 6:15)
iii) As for volcanic eruptions, how would volcanic ash have a differential effect on sunlight and moonlight? It would block out both, right?
Yes, of course, which is interesting that Matthew's account has the moon "not to give its light." But volcanic ash can cause the moon to have a reddish color. Heavenly-terrestrial catastrophes will not last for a mere moment. The biblical description conveys that this is an unprecedented event, lasting more than a moment.
iv) Even assuming, moreover, that it had a differential effect, if it's thick enough to block out sunlight, it will be more than thick enough to block out moonlight. The sun is far brighter than the moon, so what blocks sunlight will certainly block moonlight–which is dimmer to begin with. And if it's thin enough to let some light filter through, that would be sunlight rather than moonlight.
Steve is assuming some constant effect as well as only being perceived in a single, local region. The way the sun and the moon will appear to someone in say America will likely be perceived at a greater or lesser degree in Europe.
v) Although the NASA pictures are spectacular, they don't show a blackened sun and a reddened moon.
Sure it did, at least the sun. Further, the thicker the clouds of ash, the more it would block out the moon, the lighter the more likely to give it a red tint. And this gets me back to my point in my article. Lunar eclipses do not cause the reaction we see in the Bible from the celestial disturbances (notice the plural). God's eschatological harbinger will not be an atomized luminary event—it will be a cluster of events warning the wicked of his impending wrath.
vi) Didn't ancient people regard solar and lunar eclipses as very ominous (in both senses of the word). They took celestial prodigies seriously.
Not sure what Steve's point is. Ancient as well as modern people regard them as ominous. (1) I am sure Steve is not a preterist. I am almost certain he interprets the celestial disturbances in Mt 24 happening in the future. So not sure how "ancient people" is relevant since this is a prophetic description of a future people's reaction. (2) Again, the harbinger is a cluster of celestial-terrestrial events, not a isolated blimp on the radar.
vii) Perhaps Alan's unstated objection is that it's physically impossible to have a solar and lunar eclipse simultaneously, inasmuch as sun, moon, and earth must occupy different relative positions respectively:
My stated objection is what is more plausible:
"It is phenomenological language— that is, from our human perspective. So, what will be the exact nature of these celestial events? It is likely that the falling stars refer to meteors and the moon turning blood red and the sun darkening will be caused by an earthly cataclysmic disaster, possibly volcanoes (or worse, a singular super volcano). In any case, it will not be a single celestial event. It will be multiple events functioning together as a salvo of havoc, signaling the day of the Lord as unmistakable (page 63)."
In a solar eclipse, the moon comes between the sun and the earth: sun>moon>earthIn a lunar eclipse, the earth comes between the sun and the moon: sun>earth>moonBut that just means the imagery isn't realistic. It's stock, eschatological imagery. Indeed, John saw this in a vision.
John saw a vision of a harbinger that God will use to warn the world of his impending wrath. This harbinger is obviously nature, where John uses imagery to describe a unique cluster of heavenly-terrestrial events that will happen just before the day of the Lord.
viii) Finally, I'll conclude with some eyewitness accounts of volcanic ash:
Steve selectively left out eyewitness accounts of seeing a reddish moon caused by volcanic ash.
So my point is that no one can read the biblical accounts of the harbinger in Joel 2, Mt 24, Luke 21, and Rev 6 and walk away thinking that there is going to be a single, isolated lunar eclipse. Yet Mark Biltz popularizer of the blood-moon theory wants us to think so.