Thursday, December 01, 2022

Evidence For The December 15, 1977 Enfield Levitations

There's widespread agreement that the events of December 15, 1977 are among the most significant ones in the Enfield case. I've discussed much of the evidence for those events in previous posts, like this one that provides an overview of the day as a whole and this one focusing on an interview with one of the witnesses, John Rainbow. See here for a discussion I had with David Robertson in 2018 that was partly about the background to the events of that day. He explains what he was trying to accomplish and the reasoning behind it. Contrary to what people often suggest, there were more than two people outside the house who saw Janet Hodgson levitating that day. There were at least four who saw the levitation, and David told me, as quoted in the post linked above, that he suspects there were more than four. Keep in mind that the Hodgsons' house was directly across from a school, that the children were being let out of the school around the time of at least one of the levitations, and that the street the house is on is a very busy one. Anybody who's interested can read the posts linked above and other relevant ones in our archives for more about these issues. I don't want to reinvent the wheel here. What I want to do in this post is add some further lines of evidence for these December 15 events, including some that I don't recall having seen discussed before.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Slaughter Of The Innocents And The Weakness Of Many Appeals To Silence

"Examples abound of cases where we would think a certain writer would surely have reported a certain event or fact, yet he does not do so. Ulysses S. Grant in his memoirs never mentions the Emancipation Proclamation. Should this cause us to doubt other sources that tell us that Lincoln issued it? Obviously not. Two contemporary Romans who describe the eruption of Vesuvius fail to mention the destruction of Pompeii. The church historian Eusebius apparently deliberately suppressed the Emperor Constantine's brutal killing of his wife Fausta and his son Crispus. No doubt Eusebius had his political reasons for doing so, not wholly laudable, but the point is that his mere silence in no way means that Constantine did not carry out the killings. Grafton's highly regarded English Chronicles discuss the reign of King John but never mention Magna Carta. Marco Polo never mentions the Great Wall of China." (Lydia McGrew, The Eye Of The Beholder [Tampa, Florida: DeWard Publishing, 2021], 274-75)

I've sometimes cited Josephus' silence about the Slaughter of the Innocents as an example. Other non-Christian sources provide partial corroboration of Matthew's account of the Slaughter, and Josephus' silence makes sense under a scenario in which the Slaughter did occur. Josephus tells us that he's being selective in which misdeeds of Herod he reports, and the Slaughter has multiple implications supportive of Christianity that neither Josephus nor his Roman audience would want to acknowledge or promote. Why mention an event so supportive of Christianity when mentioning the event can so easily be avoided? See my article on the Slaughter here for further details. Josephus' silence weighs much less than the testimony of Matthew, including the internal evidence for Matthew's account, and the partial corroboration offered by some non-Christian sources other than Josephus. Again, see my first post linked above for more about those non-Christian sources.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

How Jesus' Relatives Shaped Our View Of His Childhood

Early beliefs about Jesus' childhood developed in a context in which relatives of Jesus, including some who lived with him for a long time and interacted with him in other contexts, were highly accessible and often involved in the life of the church. When I mention the earliest beliefs about his childhood, I'm not just referring to Christian beliefs. I'm also referring to the views of non-Christians. They, too, had access to Jesus' relatives (e.g., Mark 3:21-35, 6:1-6; Josephus, Antiquities Of The Jews, 20:9:1). Non-Christians didn't just have access to relatives of Jesus who were believers, but also had access to relatives who were unbelievers. Part of what we need to take into account when evaluating any view of Jesus' childhood is how well it addresses the influence of his relatives.

I want to recommend some resources on those relatives and make some points that are relevant to Christmas issues. Jesus' family is prominent in some modern Christmas contexts, such as theology and music. But there's been a lot of neglect of the role of his relatives in the context of the historical evidence pertaining to his childhood.