— Discontinued Literature —

Servants' News no longer distributes literature for Commonwealth Publishing or John McCaulley. During the last few months we have become aware that both are now actively promoting the ideas contained in Darrell Conder's book Mystery Babylon and the Lost Ten Tribes in the End Time. This book concludes that the Gospels are "totally mythological in origin" (p.148) and denies the existence of any kind of Savior who walked the earth, performed miracles and died for our sins. This book does bring up interesting history and textual issues. The New Testament text is not as certain as many Christians think it is, but it is not anywhere near as bad as Conder presents it. Conder's book has so many half-truths and erroneous conclusions that we do not believe it is of much value. Page 2 contains the following near-blasphemous statement:

I will say that you are going to find in this book a truth that has been effectively hidden from the lost Ten Tribes since the downfall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel over 2500 years ago! However, to make it perfectly clear that the words and statements contained in this book are by no means my own, I can say that I did and do have an all-powerful Ally Who happens to be the Creator of Israel!

An "ally" is someone who works together with you. The Eternal should be our Creator, Ruler, Father and Teacher.

Chapter two of the book goes to great extent to talk about the great variety of versions of early Gospels and the many other gospel-like books that never made it into the canon of Scripture. He makes a great effort to show that they are all unreliable. Yet, later he claims they were all concocted by Simon Magus and his successors to get people away from the true religion. On page 146 he makes the statement:

Into this solution add the historical fact that the church had complete editorial control over the Gospels.

If the church had such great control over all of these writings, why did they create so many completely different gospels? The many accounts of the life of Jesus indicate that there was a story that many people wanted to tell—each as they saw it. We are continually amazed to see Conder put down Bible books for which there are dozens of over-1500-year-old manuscripts, yet accept without question secular history for which there are only a few manuscripts of much later origin. He spent almost no time justifying the origins of the manuscripts around which he builds his case. Even if we assume all of the history he quotes is accurate, many of his "proofs" just do not make sense. From page 23 we quote, adding numbers in brackets []:

We can further understand the alien authorship of the Gospels by not only citing these additional facts: [1] in Luke 5:19 there is mention of a paralytic who was let down through the tiles of the roof to Jesus. Manfred Barthel writes, "houses with tile roofs were common enough in Athens and Rome, but houses in Galilee were simple, one-room structures with a thatch of reeds and hemps laid over the rafters. [2] Just as Mark uses the Roman system of reckoning time—'the fourth watch of the night'— Luke uses the Greek system of counting days of the week when he writes, 'And Jesus came into Capernaum on the second day.' This doesn't mean that he was on the road for two days, but that he arrived on a Monday, which is still called 'the second day' in modern Greek." [3] In a note about Zacharias writing on a tablet in Luke 1:63, Barthel writes: "Whereas a wax tablet (Which could be written on with a pointed stylus and erased by scraping off the top layer of wax) would have been a common enough household object in Greece, it would have been a rare and expensive luxury in Palestine."

Consider these answers to the above:

1) We could go to many third-world countries today where the houses are mostly one-room with thatched roofs. But we will always find some more wealthy people who can afford to imitate the western style houses. We would certainly expect to find wealthy people in first-century Palestine having Roman or Greek-style houses. When our Savior was healing and teaching great crowds, where would it make sense to go, to a one-room hut or someone who had a large Roman-style house? We have examples of our Savior asking for facilities when he needed them (Luke 19:5).

2) In our modern day, we find numerous religious writings that give dates and times according to the commonly accepted Gregorian calendar of our day. We usually use our standard local time, though shortwave radio and certain other activities may use Greenwich Mean Time. Only for specific religious subjects do we use Biblical calendars or times. Should it be a shock to us that the gospel writers would use some of the date and time systems that were in commercial use in their day?

3) Zacharias was a priest in the temple. If anyone in Jerusalem would have need or access to wax tablets, it would most likely be the priests.

Conder devoted little or no space to the many places there the Gospels do accurately reflect what archeology has discovered about life in first century Palestine. Conder's book is full of other arguments little better than the above one. We cannot cover them all here.

Conder and McCaulley have asked to submit rebuttles to these Servants' News articles, but we do not believe they would be of interest or benefit to enough people. Anyone desiring more information may contact Conder at PO Box 11476, Salt Lake City, Utah 84147-0476. McCaulley's address is PO Box 132, Broomall, PA 19008.

While it is quite easy to get lost in the mass of world religious history, we have been particularly troubled that several brethren have embraced Conder's concept so quickly. Conder does not believe that we receive the holy spirit from being baptized in the name of Jesus or Yeshua. When asked what Old Testament scripture they used to show they had the holy spirit, persons embracing this teaching did not have any answers. They do not believe temple sacrifices are necessary to atone for sin. The whole issue of forgiveness from sin and the Eternal's purpose for our lives now is not clearly explained.

One of the reasons that people depart from Christianity is because those who profess it do not exhibit the power that we see in the New Testament. Those of us who believe in the power of the Eternal and His Son, need to pray that His light will shine through us much brighter so that we may reach those that are in doubt.

—Norman S. Edwards

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