Notes 2






  1. Philipp Mayring, Qualitative Content Analysis. Theoretical Foundation, Basic Procedures and Software Solution, (Klagenfurt, Austria: 2014), (accessed January 20, 2017). Mayring’s open-ended method persuaded me that to reach a wider audience, I had to consider alternatives to the more rigorous academic approaches that content analysis research demands. I took at heart his statement (my apologies if I misconstrued it) that content analysis is not a standardized instrument that always remains the same; it must be fitted to suit the particular object or material in question and constructed especially for the issue at hand. Throughout, my purpose was to distance myself from writing to an academic audience. I wanted to allow myself the use of occasional clichés and informal writing as well as switching tenses at times to become more personally involved with the reader. The approach I opted for may be considered anathema by strict academic standards. However, although I detoured to some degree from the paradigm posed by content analysis, I was aware that I had to provide a systematic approach that quantitatively and qualitatively would stand scrutiny, not by academic peers but by the average reader interested in knowing about Jesus.


1 – Who is the Public Jesus?

  1. Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy, (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1991), reprinted in Jewish Virtual Library, (accessed November 29, 2020); Louis Jacobs, Encyclopedia Judaica, The Gale Group, 2008, reprinted in Jewish Virtual Library, (accessed November 29, 2020). Some evangelical Christian scholars, however, have attempted to assert that the concept shows up in the Old Testament. Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Messiah in the Old Testament, Revised ed., (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995).
  2. NABRE Version, Nonetheless, the Evangelical Heritage Version uses the term Christ in Mark’s and Matthew’s Gospels instead of Messiah. The term does appear twelve times in the Old Testament version, however, as inserts in subheadings, not as part of the text.
  3. The terms secularization and secularism differ when they are theologically and a secularly defined. In this work neither term refers to the theological view. Thus, secularization refers to an ongoing historical process whereby religious authorities and institutions find themselves having less influence in society, namely because people are losing interest in religious matters. The significance of ecclesiastical authorities is waning in part because other social and cultural forces are at work, e.g., science, technology, and a predominant turn toward temporal realities that reject (willfully or not) religious authority or influence over a nation’s cultural and political institutions and activities. In some cases, this process stands for active opposition to religion, advocating instead the prevalence of agnostic or atheist beliefs and stressing the temporal world as the only reality. Secularism, meanwhile, refers to outcomes of secularization, particularly the separation of church and state in society. This separation, however, does not necessarily entail a diminishing role of religion in the culture of a nation. The existing legal and tacit understanding in secular societies grants autonomy to each sphere, thus, government does not have to seek permission from religious hierarchies to legislate; cannot favor one type of religion over another; or resort to attacks against one faith and/or denomination with the purpose of persuading people to oppose said faith. Additionally, secularism allows for religious freedom or religious pluralism, both as a means to avoid conflict and as a symbol of respect toward the personal faith of its citizens. Because of their affinities, the use of the terms may be confusing at times; however, in most instances I will be dealing more with the impact of secularization. In liberal democratic societies secularism has proven to be an ally of religion rather than an opponent.
  4. Judaism is a monotheistic religion with Abrahamic origins and the precursor of Christianity. Its beliefs at the time of Jesus were based on the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), the more extensive Tanak or Hebrew Bible, and the Talmud (Rabbinic teachings on Judaism). Gnosticism refers to a philosophical or quasi-religious movement, initially relying on Jewish and Christian views that centered on the supreme value of self-knowledge obtained from a personal relationship with the divine, and the belief that the physical world demeans God’s creation by responding to evil forces. Roman paganism primarily denotes polytheistic beliefs (various gods) and forms of pantheism or worship of nature that early Christians—including Jesus—attributed to those who did not believe in the one true God. Pelagianism was based on the belief that human free will was not adversely affected by Original Sin to the extent that it prevented humans from attaining salvation through their own efforts.
  5. Actualization of the texts does not imply only the use of different words so that the Gospels may be better understood. Although words do matter, the Gospels reflect a faith and a socio-political way of life that were very different than life in the twenty-first century. There are issues that were relevant then that are not relevant today, and issues that were non-existent that since then have become central to Christianity. In fact, we may surmise that if Christians today are expected to communicate and act in the same manner Jesus did toward his opponents, they would become insufferable at times. In this context actualization means having to modernize the Jesus in the Gospels as well as having to place and explain his teachings in a world that is much more secularized and relative than the one in which Jesus lived.
  6. Data gathered by the World Religion Database and published in National indicates that, “Religion is rapidly becoming less important than it’s ever been, even to people who live in countries where faith has affected everything from rulers to borders to architecture.” Although religion is experiencing fast growth, particularly in parts of Africa, the data shows that a new category of religious people unaffiliated with specific denominations referred to as nones, is rapidly surging. Today they constitute the second largest religious group in North America and most of Europe. According to recent studies, nones make up nearly twenty-five percent of the population in the United States, having overtaken Catholics, mainline protestants, and all followers of non-Christian faiths in recent decades.” Gabe Bullard, “The World’s Newest Major Religion: No Religion, National, 22 April 2016, (accessed 23 February 2016).

  1. Following in the footsteps of John Paul II, Pope Benedict XI intimates that, faith is first and foremost a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus. Benedict XI, General Audience at St. Peter’s Square, 21 October 2009,

(accessed 23 February 2016).

  1. The Gospels and Paul continuously refer to the mystery of God and the mystery surrounding God’s revelation. NABRE editors, henceforth NE, explain that God’s secret, known only to himself, is his plan for the salvation of his people … [and] that this secret involves Jesus and the cross (1Cor 2:1, Mt 11:25-27, Mt 13:10-13, Lk 9:43-45). NABRE, New American Bible Revised Edition, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2010, online,
  2. According to there are currently sixty versions of the Bible in English. Bible Versions, English, (accessed August 18, 2019).
  3. The following examples taken from seven versions at (six selected at random plus the NE version that is used throughout this work) reveal the degree of discrepancy. The term love appears 66 times (xt) in the 21 Century King James version (21KJ), 84xt in the Evangelical Heritage version (EH), 72xt in the Good News version (GN), 69xt in the International Standard version (IS), 68xt in the New Testament for Everyone version (NT4E), 100xt in The Voice version (V), and 66xt in the NE version; the term sin (that includes sinfulness plus all words containing those letters) appears 92xt in 21KJ, 163xt in EH, 128xt in GN, 170xt in IS, 117xt in NT4E, 163xt in V, and 134xt in NE; devil appears 76xt in 21KJ, 17xt in EH, 18xt in GN, 15xt in IS, 16xt in NT4E, 23xt in V, and 14xt in NE; faith appears 44xt in 21KJ, 41xt in EH, 57xt in GN, 41xt in IS, 37xt in NT4E, 92xt in V (it relies mostly on the term believe), and 52xt in NE.
  4. NE,


2 – The Roots of the Problem

  1. The Gospels indicate that Jesus was not illiterate, but rather a student of the Jewish religion, shown by his ability to quote from the Old Law. Moreover, nothing–other than his prolific debates and knowledge of the scriptures—suggests that he was a scholar in the modern sense of the term, i.e., he attended schools of higher learning. For a more precise understanding of Jesus’s social and intellectual background, see John P Meir, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Vol. I, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1 November 1991), 276-285.
  2. This does not mean that faith in God is merely a delusion; if it were, even scientists would be delusional too, as faith is not only an artificial construct but a trust one places in something or someone based on credible information. Those who study sociology of religion accept that people are reared in certain faiths, or acquire them, depending on various factors that include family, geography, and personal experiences. Hence, God’s role in the acquisition of faith remains somewhat of a mystery. For an interesting argument on the subject, see Peter Berger, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, (New York: Anchor, 11 July 1967); Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion, Reprinted edition, (New York: Anchor, Reprint Edition, 1 October 1990; Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Reprint Edition, (London: Penguin Books, 4 August 2009; Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, (Boston: Mariner Books, Reprint Edition, 16 January 2008).
  3. Information regarding approximate dates and authorship appears in the NABRE Version’s Introductions to the Gospels of Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John.
  4. The hypothetical Q Source that emerged at the turn of the twentieth century explains similar or identical sayings in the synoptics. Although the Q source does not extend to John’s Gospel, it becomes evident that similar events and sayings appear in all four documents. Anthony Maas, “Jesu Logia (“Sayings of Jesus”),” The Catholic Encyclopedia, henceforth, CE, Vol. 9, (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910), (accessed April 3, 2020).

  1. This process holds for any historical event, the difference usually lying on the veracity of the documents we possess. For example, what we believe to be the primary values and circumstances that led to American independence would hold to be true depending on whether we trust that we have in our hands the original signed and printed version of the Declaration of Independence and whether the writ-

ten word accords with historical events.

  1. Harry S. Stout, Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War, Reprint Edition (London: Penguin Books, 27 March 2007); James H. Moorhead, American Apocalypse: Yankee Protestants and the Civil War 1860-1869, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1 February 1978).
  2. For centuries, Protestantism has argued in favor of the individual reading and understanding of the Bible, believing that God would speak to those who wish to communicate with him, i.e., without intermediaries. For centuries too, and until very recently, Catholicism rejected this approach realizing the inherent difficulties in understanding the scriptures. Instead, it suggested relying on church mediators who could more aptly explain the mysteries in the Bible. In the end, Catholicism has been able to extract a concise and unified public understanding of the scriptures (whether correct or incorrect), while, to a large extent, the interpretation of the scriptures in Protestantism has multiplied and become largely dispersed, forcing specific denominations to write their own set of beliefs that would distinguish them from others; in effect, establishing themselves as intermediaries of their own viewpoints. Since Vatican II, however, Catholics have been urged to read the Bible: “Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful.” Second Vatican Council, “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation,” 18 November 1965, 22, There is also an opposite view. Philosophy professor David Kyle Johnson asserts that the quickest route to atheism is to study the Bible. This statement is offered without empirical evidence; other than anecdotal stories, no serious research study appears to have been undertaken to verify or disprove it. Moreover, at face value, the statement may be contradicted by millions who ‘study’ the Bible and yet continue to believe. Johnson’s statement, however, may have tacit validity depending on what it means “to study the Bible,” and how it is done. David K Johnson, “Book Review: Bart Ehrman’s Jesus Before the Gospels,” Psychology Today, 10 April 2016,

(accessed 16 March 2016).

  1. The Imitation Game, directed by Morten Tyldum, The Weinstein Company, 2014. During World War II, Turing led a team that was able to break German encrypted messages enabling the Allies to shorten and eventually win the war against Hitler, thereby saving countless human lives. Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma, (London: Walker Books, 2000).
  2. An article by Dr. Mark D. Roberts, Presbyterian pastor and Executive Director of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Seminary, provides an example of New Testament cryptography to facilitate the understanding of Jesus’s divinity. The author, however, admits to its limitations, indicating that some early Jews began to believe in Jesus because others regarded or exalted him as God. Roberts identifies several keys: tracing the use of two words marana tha in Paul’s 1 Cor 16:21-24 to the early days following Jesus’s death; a passage in Paul’s Phil 2:5-11 affirming Jesus’s divinity; Jesus’s affirmation of the Jewish Shema that appears in Deuteronomy 6:4-6; the Wisdom Tradition in ancient Judaism; John’s Gospel’ Jesus’s behavior, and others. He concludes that there isn’t one simple answer to the question of why the earliest Christians came to see Jesus as divine… What is pretty clear from the historical records is that Jesus was not, by and large, regarded as divine during his earthly life… Rather, Jesus’ true and full nature was revealed to the earliest Christians in a variety of ways and times, as they reflected upon the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus in light of the Old Testament, and as they served Jesus as Lord and even worshiped him. Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts, “Was Jesus Divine,” Patheos, 2011, (accessed 16 March 2016).

  1. The Catholic Church gives credit to a seventeenth-century priest, Richard Simon, and a converted Catholic, Jean Astruc, in the eighteenth century, for being among those who spearheaded the method. Pontifical Biblical Commission, “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church,Origins, 6 January 1994, I-1, History of the Method,  (accessed 18 March 2016).

  1. R.A. Torrey, A.C. Dixon, and others, The Fundamentals – A Testimony to the Truth, Vol 4, (Madison: AGES Software Rio, 2000) Version 1.0, AGES Digital Library,  (accessed 18 March 2016).

  1. Evangelicals are among those who follow a literalist interpretation of the Bible. According to a 2011 survey, fifty percent believe the Bible should be read literally, word for word while forty-eight percent believe not everything is to be interpreted literally. Pew Research Center, “Global Survey of Evangelical Protestant Leaders,” 22 June 2011, (20 March 2016). Another poll released in 2017 indicates that twenty-four percent of Americans said the Bible should be taken literally while nearly half of Americans do not take the Bible literally. Lydia Saad, “Record Few Americans Believe Bible Is Literal Word of God,” Gallup, 3-7 May 2017,

(accessed 9 September 2017).

  1. Oral transmission suggests entails having to memorize a detailed description of Jesus’s teachings and passing it forth intact while tradition involves a more loose activity that allows for differences while focusing on major themes of Jesus’s life. A detailed explanation of the various sources is found in Meier’s Marginal Jew, vol. 1, and in Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God, (New York: Harper Collins, 2014); additional information on the sources is found in Interpretation, I, A-1, History of the Method.
  2. The Catholic Church has declared that, since the Holy Spirit is said to be instrumental in the inspiration of the texts, the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, 1965, 11, (accessed 23 March 2016). Critics (even within the Church), however, sustain that passages in the New Testament amounting to “truths,” have changed throughout time.


3 – The Complexity of Understanding the Gospels

  1. Richard Simon, Critical History of the Texts of the New Testament, trans. Andrew Hunwick (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2013), xxvii –xxxvi. (accessed 8 April 2016).
  2. Protestant theologians and philosophers, namely from Germany, already had been using the historical-critical method since the late eighteenth century and likely played an influential role in the Catholic Church’s decision. Among them, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Ferdinand Christian Baur, and Adolf von Harnack.
  3. John Corbett, “The Biblical Commission,” (CE), (accessed 8 April 2016). The commission operates under the authority of the pope; it does not retain independent publication rights, and in 1971 became a consultative group to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith entrusted with preserving the integrity of the Catholic faith.
  4. Interpretation. Underneath the title of the document it reads, Presented by the Pontifical Biblical Commission to Pope John Paul II on April 23, 1993. The entire document is worth reading, although it may require a strong mental disposition to avoid being disillusioned by these scholars’ admission about the complexity of God’s message. Note: Citations are given according to their location within the body of the text and not the Table of Content, as the latter differs from the former.

  1. There are various translations of the Bible in contemporary English that attempt to facilitate its reading and understanding. None of these versions, however, have been historically and theologically actualized, i.e., given a modern interpretation of the significance or application of Jesus’ teachings in today’s world. See New Living Translation, (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers 2015), (accessed 8 April 2016). There is also a Catholic version consisting of a paraphrased translation: The Catholic Living Bible: Paraphrased – A Thought-for-Thought Translation, (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 1979). A third version, Eugene H. Peterson, The Message – The Bible in Contemporary Language, (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002).
  2. Interpretation, III, B-3, Role of Various Members of the Church in Interpretation; Commission’s emphasis.
  3. Ibid., III, B-3.
  4. Ibid., II, B-1, The Literal Sense.
  5. Interpretation is being defined as the actions we undertake to understand something. Understanding refers to the outcome of interpretation; that which is attained after successfully penetrating the essence or core of an idea, an action, or a text.
  6. The shift is most pronounced among young adults, indicating the trend is likely to accelerate in the years ahead. Saad, “Record Few Americans…” In Central and Eastern Europe religious observance is very low, although the majority of countries believe the Bible is the word of God. Pew Research Center, “Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe,” May 2017, (accessed 9 September 2017); Stoyan Zaimov, “Most Western Europeans No Longer Believe in Heaven and Hell, Survey Finds,” Christian Post, Dec. 2017,

(accessed 9 September 2017).

  1. Among the conclusions reached are the following:

– Church-attending Christians are in the minority in all countries except for Italy.

– While non-Church attending Christians do not believe in God “as described in the Bible,” they do tend to believe in some other higher power or spiritual force. A third group polled, those with no religious affiliation whatsoever (‘none’) averaging 24 percent, do not believe in any type of higher power or spiritual force in the universe.

– Non-Church attending Christians have more positive than negative views toward churches and religious organizations though less than Church attending Christians, saying they serve society by helping the poor and bringing communities together.

– Both Church attending and non-attending Christians are associated with higher levels of negative sentiment toward immigrants and religious minorities than ‘nones.’

– Non-Church attending Christians are less likely to express nationalist views than Church-attending Christians, but more than ‘nones.’

– Non-Church attending Christians (along with ‘nones’) tend to favor legal abortion and same-sex marriage, although there is still substantial support for these issues among the more conservative Church-attending Christians.

– Both Church-attending Christians and non-attending Christians are more sympathetic toward raising their children in the Christian faith. ‘None’ parents, however, tend to raise their children with no religion. Pew Research Center, “Being Christian in Western Europe,” May 2018,  (accessed 30 May 2018).

  1. To acquire a feeling of what is being done in this field today, refer to Interpretation, I-3 Description. Purposefully, I omitted the commission’s depiction of its methodology including semiotic analysis, for fear that the reader may despair. A description of semiotics is found in I, B-3 Semiotic Analysis.
  2. In the 1980s and 90s a colorful method of finding out what Jesus may have said emerged. Known as the Jesus Seminar, a group of about two hundred scholars discussed the Gospels and, following rigorous discussions of the issues, voted through colored beads on the degree of authenticity of hundreds of passages attributed to Jesus. Several books were published. The seminar completed its work in 1998 concluding that, about 18 percent of the sayings and 16 percent of the deeds attributed to Jesus in the gospels are authentic. The Jesus Seminar, Westar Institute,  (accessed 8 April 2016).


4 – New Methods to Examine the Gospels

  1. Bernard Berelson, Content Analysis in Communication Research, (Glencoe: Free Press, 1952); Ole Holsti, Content Analysis for the Social Sciences and Humanities, (Reading: Addison-Wesley, 1969).
  2. Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea in the fourth century, suggested that Origen (184 AD-253AD), today a Father of the Church, had castrated himself to prevent the sin of lust. Origen denied the charge, going as far as to denounce the literalist interpretation of Jesus’s words. John Anthony McGuckin, ed., The Westminster Handbook to Origen, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 65,  (accessed 24 June 2016).


5 – A Profile of the Public Jesus

Method note: The quantitative results appear in Tables 1A, B, and C. Column A in Table 1A shows a list of titles ascribed to Jesus that appear in the Gospels. Each one displays three subheadings: the title, how others perceive Jesus, and how Jesus perceives himself according to the title. Table 1B is a breakdown of how others perceive or address Jesus per title; and Table 1C, how Jesus perceives himself according to how he refers to himself or consents others to call him. Quantifying how Jesus perceives himself was complicated because it involved not only instances in which Jesus refers to himself explicitly by the title, but also having to assess when he implicitly acknowledges it by not refusing to be addressed by the title. The second and third lines in column B are most relevant for comparisons. Column C adds together the second and third lines and provides a powerful indicator of how the public Jesus interacted with others. This sum is used to rank the titles according to their significance warranted by disparities among the numbers themselves (Column D).

Unless noted, all numbers are expressed as (xt) indicating instances in which the titles are mentioned in the Gospels. The tally was done by separately copying and pasting each Gospel from the NEs’ Bible online in Word. The count that appears in is less accurate for purposes of this study because it tallies words that appear in headings as well as counting the same two words in one sentence as only one.

In some cases, title totals include sayings that allude to the title itself. This happens in Son of God, Messiah, Savior, and Redeemer, or Prophet, in which cases the passages are identified according to verse numbers. Other titles, such as Lord, Teacher, or Son of Man are much simpler to count. I search the title, assess if it refers to God or Jesus, assess if others or Jesus call out the title, and reasonably assess if Jesus acknowledges the title by not rejecting it or by continuing the conversation. When the results are extensive, these are provided online with the breakdown total per gospel author.

*The category Opponent of religious authority is stated in terms of p or passages in which Jesus’s opposition to the Jewish religious authorities is noticeable. For practical purposes, the numbers are similar to xt or number of times.


Son of God     

  1. Once each gospel is copy and pasted as if it were one lengthy paragraph (no blank lines), Word will indicate the approximate number of words of each text.
  2. Introduction to the Gospel of John, NEs’ Bible.
  3. For line by line comparison of the original Nicene Creed in 325 and changes made at the First Council of Constantinople in 381, see New World Encyclopedia Contributors, “Nicene Creed,” New World Encyclopedia, 8 January 2015, (accessed 18 December 2016).

  1. None of Paul’s letters cite that he was the subject of personal revelation from Jesus, other than his initial encounter with Jesus through a vision. Hence, Paul’s affirmations are only the outcome of his faith. Roberts view is found in, “Was Jesus Divine.” For his use of these keys see note 9 in Chapter 1.
  2. NEs’ note, Mk 1:1 states that some important manuscripts here (in the passage) omit the Son of God; another note on Mt 16:13-17 indicates that Matthew’s addition of this exalted title (Son of God) to the Marcan confession eliminates whatever ambiguity was attached to the title Messiah. That is, the terms Messiah and Son of God connote the same meaning, although this ‘revelation’ does not come across so clearly in some manuscripts relating to Mark. Moreover, they point to a note on Jn 1:49 in which they agree half-heartedly with Roberts indicating that this title (Son of God) is used in the Old Testament, among other ways, as a title of adoption for the Davidic king (2 Sm 7:14; Ps 2:7; 89:27), and thus here, with King of Israel, in a messianic sense.
  3. Henry Fairfield Burton, “The Worship of the Roman Emperors.” The Biblical World, vol. 40, no. 2, 1912, 80–91. JSTOR, University of Chicago Press Journals, (accessed 15 December 2016).
  4. For glimpses of cultural syncretism see Will Durant, Vol III, pp. 575-672.
  5. Bart Ehrman discusses several possible answers to the title of his book, all of which he claims to find some evidence in the historical past and the Gospels. His answers point to human, not divine, intervention: a) the human Jesus was exalted to be God by credulous followers with an agenda of their own; b) Jesus was human but his followers believed that at some point in time prior to his death he was adopted by God into his divinity; c) or that for political reasons (Emperor Constantine’s concerns about the stability of his empire) and the Church’s inability to theologically explain scriptural contradictions that had given rise to the Arian heresy, the theology of the Synoptic Gospels was marginalized in favor of the Gospel of John. Ehrman, How Jesus Became God.
  6. In Luke, Jesus replies to the Elders that he is the Son of Man who will be seated at the right hand of the power of God, but his answer to the question about being the Son of God would sound evasive in today’s era. Jesus makes a similar remark to Judas though in a different context: You have said so. NEs’ note, Mt 26:25 qualifies the remark as being a half-affirmative. Emphasis is laid on the pronoun and the answer implies that the statement would not have been made if the question had not been asked.
  7. Biblia Latinoamericana, (Madrid: Editorial San Pablo),

(accessed 15 December 2016).

  1. NEs provide an explanation that creates more doubt than certitude. In Mk 10:18 they state, Jesus repudiates the term “good” for himself and directs it to God, the source of all goodness who alone can grant the gift of eternal life. Does this mean that Jesus cannot do the same? If so, the statement seems to cast doubt on the concept of the Trinity.
  2. Ibid., note Mt 16:13-17.
  3. Catholic priest Raymond E. Brown, S.S., one of the first modern biblical scholars to utilize the historical-critical analysis, appears to have reached this view in “Does the New Testament Call Jesus God?” Theological Studies, 549, (accessed 15 December 2016). John’s Gospel appears to have been written forty to one hundred years following the death of Jesus. The Nicaean Council in 325 CE confirmed Jesus’s divinity as expressed in the Nicene Creed it issued. The creed appears on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website, (accessed 17 December 2016). The creed is shared by all major Christian denominations, albeit a significant controversy on the origin of ‘the Son’ that led to the East-West Schism in 1054 that remains to this date.
  4. While pointing out in the Introduction to John’s Gospel that this text was not the product of one author, NEs add that, to a much greater degree, it is the product of a developed theological reflection and grows out of a different circle and tradition. It was probably written in the 90s of the first century. Critical analysis makes it difficult to accept the idea that the gospel as it now stands was written by one person.



  1. NEs’ note on Luke 1:76 indicates that when Zechariah tells John the Baptist, you will go before the Lord, the Lord is most likely a reference to Jesus (Emphasis mine). However, in John 1:23, John the Baptist’s remark, I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord, is attributed to Isaiah 40:3, and NEs suggest that the Lord, in this case, is God.


Teacher/Rabbi or Master

  1. Meier, A Marginal Jew, vol I, chapter 9.


Son of Man

  1. (for the count); Emil G Hirsch, “Son of Man,” Jewish Encyclopedia, (accessed April 11, 2020).

2.Apologists indicate that during Jesus’s time, people did not seem to recognize or understand the term, and even today its meaning remains uncertain. “Jesus the Son of Man,” Loyola Press, (accessed April 11, 2020). According to Roberts, Jesus seems to take the attributes of God himself. Roberts, “Was Jesus Divine”; NEs agree that the term defines not only a human being but a unique figure of extraordinary spiritual endowments, who will be revealed as the one through whom the everlasting kingdom decreed by God will be established. Note, Mk 8:31.


Savior and Redeemer

  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “savior, redeemer.”
  2. Christ paid the price of his own sacrificial death on the cross to ransom us, to set us free from the slavery of sin, thus achieving our redemption. Glossary from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Diocese of Madison,  (accessed 22 March 2017). The statement, although coming from an official Catholic document likely finds agreement among all mainstream Protestant denominations.

  1. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever. (Lk 1:51-54).
  2. NEs’ note, Luke 1:68-79 reads, Like the canticle of Mary (Lk 1:4655) the canticle of Zechariah is only loosely connected with its context. Apart from Lk 1:7677, the hymn in speaking of a horn for our salvation (Lk 1:69) and the daybreak from on high (Lk 1:78) applies more closely to Jesus and his work than to John. Again like Mary’s canticle, it is largely composed of phrases taken from the Greek Old Testament and may have been a Jewish Christian hymn of praise that Luke adapted to fit the present context by inserting Lk 1:7677 to give Zechariah’s reply to the question asked in Lk 1:66. It should be noted that NEs attribute these insertions to the hands of humans to fit their narratives. Their motives question whether divine revelation takes place.
  3. Ibid., note on Mt 8:17 indicates that Matthew considers the infirmities as physical afflictions. However, Is 53:3-13 regards these infirmities as sins.
  4. Whether the term ‘many’ means that Jesus was limiting redemption to some people or not is unnecessarily confusing. Popes Benedict and Francis chose, for the sake of authenticity, to leave it confusingly rather than to actualize it. As it stands doctrinally, the term implies ‘for all,’ despite other passages in the texts that clearly indicate otherwise. Pope Francis’s explanation, however, gets in the way of what redemption means, suggesting a two-stage process. See “Pope Francis sides with Benedict by saying Christ shed blood ‘for many,’” Catholic Herald, November 4, 2017, (accessed 26 March 2017).
  5. NEs’ note, Lk 24:26.
  6. Ibid., note, Mark 10:38-40: In Jesus’ case, this involves divine judgment on sin that Jesus the innocent one is to expiate on behalf of the guilty (Mk 14:24Is 53:5). His baptism is to be his crucifixion and death for the salvation of the human race; cf. Lk 12:50.
  7. Although one single theandric operation, owing to its infinite worth, would have sufficed for Redemption, yet it pleased the Father to demand and the Redeemer to offer His labours, passion, and death. Joseph Sollier, “Redemption.” Catholic Encyclopedia (accessed 26 March 2017). As the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin is found in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 601, CCC (Vatican City: Vatican Editorial Library, English version, 1994), (accessed 26 March 2017).



  1. Genesis 3:15; 9:27; 12:2-3; 49:8-12; Numbers 24:15-19; and Deuteronomy 18:15-18. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “Jesus in the Old Testament,” Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, 2009,  (accessed 2 February 2017).

  1. NEs indicate in their Note on Lk 2:25 that the type of redemption both Simeon and Anna were expecting represents the hopes and expectations of faithful and devout Jews who at this time were looking forward to the restoration of God’s rule in Israel. They add the birth of Jesus brings these hopes to fulfillment. What exactly this last sentence means is difficult to say, as Jesus transforms his earthly messianic role into a completely different one.
  2. Ibid., John’s ministry is seen as God’s prelude to the saving mission of his Son, and that, John the Baptist is to prepare the way for him. Note on Mk 1:2-3. The editors, however, point out that Mark’s reference to Isaiah’s prophecy is not entirely correct: the text is a combination of Mal 3:1; Is 40:3; Ex 23:20; cf. Mt 11:10; Lk 7:27.
  3. Ibid., only in Luke is Jesus explicitly given the title ‘king’ when he enters Jerusalem in triumph, Note on Lk 19:38. Nonetheless, the crowd also refers to Jesus as the king of Israel in Jn 12:13.
  4. Despite clearly referring to the consolation of Israel, Simeon alludes to an enigmatic type of salvation that will be, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Lk 2:30-32). NE indicate that the political overtones of the title (Messiah) are played down in Luke and instead the Messiah of the Lord or the Lord’s anointed is the one who now brings salvation to all humanity, Jew and Gentile. Note Lk 2:11. NE do not explain why Jesus (or God) switches plans.
  5. NEs’ note, Lk 13:1 indicates that this episode is only known to Luke, adding that, from what is known about Pilate from the Jewish historian Josephus, such a slaughter would be in keeping with the character of Pilate.
  6. Ibid., note on Luke 24:26. It adds that the idea of a suffering Messiah is hinted at in Mk 8:3133. Emphasis mine.



  1. NEs’ note, Mt 27:11.
  2. Jesus considers pagan religious practices inferior or less righteous than his teachings; he prevents his disciples from going into pagan lands, seeking instead to save only the lost sheep of Israel; and he compares pagans to evil Jewish people who will persecute his followers (Mt 5:47-48, 6:7-8, 6:31-32, 10:5-6, 10:17-18).
  3. NE point out that the kingdom of the Son of Man in Mt 13:41 is distinguished from that of the Father’s in Mt 13:43, apparently accepting the idea of two separate kingdoms. Note on Mt 13:41.
  4. Luke’s passage refers to the multitude calling Jesus ‘king,’ but without the Davidic connection.
  5. NEs’ note, Lk 19:39.



  1. See Peter W. Stoner, Science Speaks: Scientific Proof of the Accuracy of Prophecy and the Bible, (Chicago, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, online revised edition 2002), (accessed 15 March 2017). Questioning aspects of the theory of evolution, Stoner mixes religious creationism with scientific probability and personal reasons for accepting Christian ‘truths.’ His chapter 3, “The Christ of Prophecy” seems to be statistically impressive; not being a statistician, however, I cannot vouch for its accuracy. Other works supporting the fulfillment of the prophecies include Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus, 1st edition, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998); Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publisher, 2017). Arguments advanced by critiques of Stoner’s and McDowell’s books appear online and are less persuasive. “Science Speaks by Peter Stoner and Robert Newman,” “Religious Lies Refuted,  (accessed 15 March 2017); Steven Carr, “Critique of Josh McDowell’s Non-Messianic Prophecies,”  (accessed 15 March 2017).

  1. The passage may also refer to Jesus speaking as the Son of God since Isaiah was referring to God.

3.Twice NEs point out that, the references to Elijah and Elisha serve several purposes … they emphasize Luke’s portrait of Jesus as a prophet like Elijah and Elisha; Note on Lk 4:18 and in Lk 4:25-26.

  1. The definition of a prophet is one who speaks in the name of God. NEs’ note, Mt 10:41.



  1. The exception appears in Lk 2:29 when the prophet Simeon, given the opportunity to see the child Jesus before his death calls God Master. The term is also used in Jn 15:14, 15:20, but the passages do not relate to the master in this section.
  2. According to NEs, the first conclusion recommends the prudent use of one’s wealth (in the light of the coming of the end of the age) after the manner of the children of this world, represented in the parable by the dishonest steward; note on NEs, Lk 16:8b-9. The second conclusion recommends constant fidelity to those in positions of responsibility; NEs’ note, Lk 16:10-12.
  3. Although this passage relates to the Israelites’ rejection of Jesus, the consequences are the same: the gate is narrow. Note on NEs’ note, Mt 8:11-12.
  4. Ibid., editors interpret this parable as suggesting that, Until then there must be patience and the preaching of repentance.
  5. Upon learning that based on the Gospels there might not be sexual intercourse in heaven (Mt 22:30), a cynical acquaintance said to me, ‘That’s why I’m trying to indulge in it while on earth.’


Son of David

  1. Anthony Maas, “Genealogy of Christ,” CE, (accessed 29 March 2017).
  2. NEs highlight that in several of the passages Jesus responds to the title while curing people, thereby associating the title to a healing Messiah. Nonetheless, it must be noted that Jesus cured others without responding to the term.
  3. Ibid., editors indicate that Jesus’s motive is not to deny the Davidic descent of the Messiah, but to imply that he is more than this. NEs’ note, Mark 12:35-37. In Mark this question is posed to people in the temple area; in Luke, it appears that he is addressing the Sadducees, or possibly to the scribes and the Pharisees; and in Matthew, the question is put to a gathering of the Pharisees.
  4. Christians United for Israel is an evangelical movement in the United States that seeks to defend and strengthen Israel politically and militarily basing its motives on biblical issues (accessed 30 March 2017)



  1. Anthony Maas, “Origin of the Name of Jesus Christ,” CE, Vol 8, (accessed 4 April 2017). Also (CCC) 430. The statement is not disputed by mainstream Christian denominations.

  1. Maas.
  2. Ibid.
  3. NEs indicate that some important texts leave out the designation Son of God next to the name; NEs’ note, Mk 1:1.
  4. NEs, however, point out that the verse in John was clearly added in the editing of the Gospel, indicating that Jesus nowhere else refers to himself as Jesus Christ. Note on Jn 17:3.
  5. Maas.
  6. (CCC), Index, Alphabetical Word List, (Go to Alphabetical occurrence distribution (by first letter), and look up the word).

Anyone wishing to explore what the Catholic Catechism is about can peruse this index. A partial review indicates that, aside from the prepositions, conjunctions, and impersonal pronouns, according to its term content, this text is mostly about God (2788xt), Christ (1699xt), Church (1382xt), Holy Spirit (1040xt), prayer-related (967xt), life (935xt), Jesus (866xt), Father (mostly God 803xt), sin-related (755xt), faith (737xt), Lord (689xt), Son (mostly Jesus 555xt), love (521xt), and salvation-related (431xt). Other notable terms that caught my attention include kingdom (212xt), Resurrection (193xt), and Mary (166xt). A count of personal pronouns and nouns that reflects today’s Church culture as it did in the decades following the New Testament is interesting, though not surprising: man/men (1104xt), woman/women (108xt), he (1414xt), she (237xt), him (894xt), her (405xt), himself (444xt), herself 38xt), his (2386xt), her (405xt).

  1. (CCC) 436.



Method note: The following terms were used to tally this category: gospel of Jesus Christ, gospel of God, gospel of the kingdom, the word, word of God, my words, words of mine, words of the kingdom, good news, good news of the kingdom of God, seed, the Word, and words of eternal life. Xt refers to the number of times these terms appear in the texts, and it is different from p, which refers to the number of passages.

  1. George Reid, “Canon of the New Testament,” CE, Vol. 3, (accessed November 15, 2019). All texts in the New Testament appear in the same order in the NABRE and the King James versions.
  2. Usage of the terms that appear in the method note varies slightly according to each version of the Bible.
  3. According to NEs, the term the Word has a profound connotation. Stemming from the Greek logos, this term combines God’s dynamic, creative word (Genesis), personified preexistent Wisdom as the instrument of God’s creative activity (Proverbs), and the ultimate intelligibility of reality (Hellenistic philosophy). Note on John 1:1.
  4. Timeline for Paul’s letters and the Gospels are taken from the introductory chapters to each text in NABRE.



Method note: This super-category includes the following categories: Sinfulness, Sins, Faith, Baptism, Repentance, Love, Mosaic Law, Forgiveness, Prayer, Poverty and Wealth, Non-violence, Humility, God’s Will, Righteous Sexuality, and Parables.

  1. There are numerical differences in this category when it comes to biblical versions. For example, the term righteousness appears far more times in the 21st Century King James Version (512xt) than in the NEs’ Version (294xt). The reason is that the NEs’ version uses other synonyms for righteous/righteousness, such as just/justice, innocent, and right in the Old Testament, while KJV21 relies on the word righteous. However, there is practically no difference between the two New Testament versions. Interestingly, comparing the two versions in the Gospels alone, NEs uses righteousness slightly more times than KJV21, as the latter uses just or justice at times instead of righteousness.


The Temporal World

Method note: References to the category Temporal World were searched by tallying terms such as world, flesh, human, natural, body, earth, and others closely related. Their total distribution is as follows: flesh 18xt, human 28xt, body 40xt, earth 47xt, world 104xt

  1. The Catholic version of the Creed: (accessed 10 October 2017); the Protestant version: (accessed 10 October 2017);

the Orthodox Christian version:  (accessed 10 May 2018). Jehovah’s Witnesses reject parts of the Nicene Creed while accepting others. “What do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe,”,  (accessed 10 October 2017); Mormonism (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) accepts certain aspects of the creed and rejects others, particularly the Trinity: Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, “Comparing LDS Beliefs with First-Century Christianity,” March 1988, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints website,  (accessed 10 October 2017).

  1. John Arendzen, “Gnosticism,” CE,

(accessed 10 October 2017); Ibid., “Manichaeism,” (CE),

(accessed 10 October 2017).

  1. For one hundred fifty years [Catharism] had a reasonable prospect of becoming the dominant religion. Church councils proved incapable of putting an end to the heresy and had to rely on military and inquisitorial power requested by the pope and carried out by French forces. Henry Charles Lea, A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, Vol. 2, (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1887), 107-108, online at (accessed 10 October 2017). See also Nicholas Weber, “Albigenses.” CE, (accessed 10 October 2017). According to this Catholic author, Pope Innocent III was justified in saying that the Albigenses were “worse than the Saracens“; and still he counseled moderation and disapproved of the selfish policy adopted by Simon of Montfort. Weber adds that what the Church combated were principles that led directly not only to the ruin of Christianity but to the very extinction of the human race.

  1. At the time of Jesus our planet was not known as Planet Earth, but was referred to simply as earth, or ground. Alastair Gunn, Ph.D., “How did Earth get its name?” Science Focus, (accessed February 19, 2020).
  2. Sarah Laskow, “How The World Looked When Jesus Was Born, According to Roman Geographers,”, December 16, 2015, (accessed 11 October 2017). Also, Strabo, The Geography, initially written in 7 BCE, trans. H.C. Hamilton, Esq., W. Falconer, M.A., Ed. (London: George Bell & Sons, 1903), Perseus Digital Library,

(accessed 11 October 2017).

  1. For a detailed look at the various civilizations and their beliefs existing before Jesus, see Chester G. Starr, A History of the Ancient World, Fourth Edition, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), chs 2-9.
  2. If Jesus considered himself divine, including possessing divine attributes, then he would have had to know that his mission transcended the Israelites and peoples surrounding Judea as well as the conditions that were to affect the growth of the kingdom of God.
  3. NEs’ note, Mk 4:26-29: Only Mark records the parable of the seed’s growth. Sower and harvester are the same. The emphasis is on the power of the seed to grow of itself without human intervention (Mk 4:27). Mysteriously it produces blade and ear and full grain (Mk 4:28). Thus the kingdom of God initiated by Jesus in proclaiming the word develops quietly yet powerfully until it is fully established by him at the final judgment. (Emphasis mine).
  4. Ibid., note Mt 13:18-23.
  5. Ibid., note Mt 13:18-23: In this explanation of the parable the emphasis is on the various types of soil on which the seed falls, i.e., on the dispositions with which the preaching of Jesus is received. The second and third types particularly are explained in such a way as to support the view held by many scholars that the explanation derives not from Jesus but early Christian reflection upon apostasy from the faith that was the consequence of persecution and worldliness, respectively. Others, however, hold that the explanation may come basically from Jesus even though it was developed in the light of later Christian experience.
  6. Whether symbolic or not, it suggests a form of spiritual and physical cannibalism widely accepted throughout the Christian world, although it was viewed—and still is–as a bizarre act among non-Christians. The difference in Christianity, particularly in Catholicism and Anglicanism, is that believers do not kill the body of Jesus but consume his live body as an act of worship that he had requested as a means for believers to stay close to him and to receive spiritual graces that would assist them during times of hardship. In cannibalism, the victimizers commit homicide for various reasons, including a symbol of victory over their enemies. It should be noted that there are examples of cannibalism in the Bible in which God would force such acts upon those who defied his commandments (Deut Ch 28, 2 Kings 6:28-29, Jeremiah 19:9.).
  7. In a Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Francis views the temporal world in a very different light than that expressed at times by Jesus. The document asserts that according to biblical faith, the origin of evil is not found in the material, corporeal world,… but that all the universe is good because it was created by God and that the evil that is most damaging to the human person is that which comes from his or her heart. The letter, however, leaves out the role of Satan and limitations imposed by an imperfect temporal world created by God in causing sin. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Letter Placuit Deo,” 4, February 22, 2018,  (accessed 12 May 2018).

  1. Ibid, 14, 15.


The Afterlife

Method note: Terms tallied suggesting the existence of an afterlife included the following: eternal life, redemption, rescue, shed blood,  ransom, resurrection, rise(n), salvation, save, secure life, save a life, lose life, live, paradise, enter, heaven, kingdom (of God), angel, voice of God, repentance, baptism, Spirit, condemnation (eternal), hell-related terms (fire, grinding of teeth), and Satan-related words (evil one, devil, ruler of the world). Additionally, the term God was counted (only as xt) while excluding it from the term kingdom of God (already above), to accentuate references to the divine in the texts. This approach still underestimates the true relevance of this category. Some passages focus on the afterlife in the Faith and Prayer categories and were included in the tally only when referring to a supernatural God; the term faith is not included if it simply means human trust that Jesus can heal the sick. Moreover, the term Father (standing for God) and Son of Man (that has divine characteristics) could have been added, all of which likely would have elevated the ranking of this category second to Righteousness. Adding these, however, ran the risk of double counting.

  1. The Catholic version of the Creed: (accessed 10 October 2017); the Protestant version: (accessed 10 October 2017);

the Orthodox Christian version:  (accessed 10 May 2018). Jehovah’s Witnesses’ version: “What do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe,”,  (accessed 10 October 2017); Mormon version: Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, “Comparing LDS Beliefs with First-Century Christianity,” March 1988, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints website,

(accessed 10 October 2017).

  1. Jesus tells the religious authorities, No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him on the last day; and again, Whoever eatsmy flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. When Martha tells Jesus that she knows that her brother Lazarus will rise, in the resurrection on the last day, Jesus seems to affirm the view saying, I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.
  2. In his De Virg., vel 1., written around 200, Tertullian synthesizes the articles of faith that were believed at the time, and includes as the last article, the following: destined to come to judge quick and dead through the resurrection of the flesh as well (as of the spirit). The words in parentheses are awkward as they suggest that the soul is not immortal and thus needs to be resurrected. Trinity in you. (accessed June 4, 2019).
  3. Some Christian denominations have attempted to unravel the mysteries of God, a reason for which there have been so many modern-day “prophets,” and divisions within Christianity. An example is the doctrine of Dispensationalism that claims to remove the cloud from the eyes of Christians by asserting that everyone else other than Dispensationalists are mistaken in the interpretation of the Bible. Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2007); about faulty “dispensationalism,” Pastor J. C. O’Hair, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ,

(accessed February 20, 2020).

  1. According to NEs, the Gospel of Mark ends in the most ancient manuscripts with an abrupt scene at Jesus’ tomb, which the women find empty (Mk 16:8). They add, other hands have attached additional endings after Mk 16:8; Introduction to the Gospel According to Mark. They indicate that the longer version (Mk 16:9-20), although officially defined as canonical by the Council of Trent may have been added during the second century; NEs’ note, Mk 16-9:20.
  2. At the time, only adults or those who were old enough to distinguish good from evil were baptized, as small children and babies lacked such capacity. Later on, the Catholic Church concluded that baptism constituted a spiritual immunization against the consequences of having being born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin that likely would predispose the believer to do evil. (CCC 1250).
  3. Below are examples of passages indicating the ambiguity of the term salvation as the outcome of faith, works, or both. Moreover, some passages underline the temporal nature of salvation while others its eschatological dimension.

Inconclusive passages:

– Mt 1:21, Mk 10:26-27, Lk 18:27-30, Mt 19:25-29.

Passages from the synoptic texts stressing that believing is necessary for salvation:

– Mt 8:10, 21:31-32, Mk 8:38), Lk 12:8-9, Mt 10:32-33.

Passages from the synoptic texts stressing that both believing and behavior (baptism/conversion) are necessary for salvation:

Mk 16:16, Mt 28:18-19, Mk 12:28-34, Lk 10:25-28, Mt 22:34-40, Mk 13:12-13, Lk 21:16-18, Mt 10:21-22, Lk 23:42-43.

Passages from the synoptic texts emphasizing that righteous or proper moral behavior in accordance with Jesus’s teachings are essential for salvation:

Mk 8:34-35, Lk 9:24-25, Lk 17:33, Mt 16:24-28, Mk 9:43-48, Mt 5:29-30, Mt 18:8-9, Mk 10:15, Lk 18:16-17, Mt 18:2-4, Mt 19:14, Mk 10:17-21, Lk 18:18-23, Mt 19:16-22, Mk 10:29-30, Lk 1:76-77, Lk 3:3-4, Lk 3:5-6, Lk 3:9, Mt 3:10-11, Lk 15:7, 10, 11-32, Lk 6:20-22, Mt 5:3-12, Lk 6:37, Mt 7:1-2, Lk 10:29-37, Mt 5:20, Mt 5:17-18, Mt 12:36-37, Lk 9:59-62, Lk 13:22-30, Mt 7:13-14, Lk 14:13-14, 16:19-31, Lk 19:1-9, Lk 24:47, Mt 4:17, Mt 5:34, Mt 5:44-48, Mt 6:1, Mt 6:14-15, Mt 13:43, Mt 13:47-48, Mt 16:27, Mt 25:34-40.

Passages in John’s Gospel that appear to stress behavior as opposed to believing:

Jn 1:23, Jn 5:29, Jn 12:25.

Passages emphasizing that believing is more significant than good works or righteous behavior: Jn 3:15-18, Jn 3:36, Jn 4:15, Jn 5:24, Jn 5:39, Jn 6:27, Jn 6:40, Jn 6:47, Jn 6:51, Jn 6:53-58, Jn 6:68, Jn 10-9, Jn 10:27-28, Jn 11:25-26, Jn 17:3.

  1. The terms nations and all nations, that supposedly includes Gentiles, appear numerous times in the Old Testament indicating that a) the Jewish people are the favored nation, and b) that, eventually, all nations will bow before the Lord. However, the existence of an afterlife in these passages is not clear since many seem to refer to the temporal world.
  2. Florentine Bechtel, “Judaizers,” CE, (accessed 18 May 2018).
  3. The attribution of the Parable of the Good Samaritan to Jesus, along with other parables, has been questioned by none other than Fr. John P. Meier, a Catholic priest, and an expert in the historical-critical analysis of the Gospels. If this view were to be accepted it would have radical consequences, and possibly a first step into the actualization of the Gospels. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume V: Probing the Authenticity of the Parables, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016).
  4. Ratzinger’s document proposed something similar: Theology today, in its reflection on the existence of other religious experiences and on their meaning in God’s salvific plan, is invited to explore if and in what way the historical figures and positive elements of these religions may fall within the divine plan of salvation…. The content of this participated meditation should be explored more deeply, but must remain always consistent with the principle of Christ’s unique mediation. Although participated forms of mediation of different kinds and degrees are not excluded, they acquire meaning and value only from Christ’s own mediation, and they cannot be understood as parallel or complementary to his. Hence, those solutions that propose a salvific action of God beyond the unique mediation of Christ would be contrary to the Christian and Catholic faith. Declaration “Dominum Iesus” on the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church, 14, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2000, (accessed 18 May 2018). (accessed 18 May 2018).

  1. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Letter Placuit Deo,” 2, 10, February 22, 2018, (accessed 18 May 2018).


Love (miracles excluded)

Method note: The category labeled Love Total Space Plus Miracles is an all-encompassing theme that adds together Love as a Term, Love Total Space Minus Miracles, and Miracles Total Passages. The Love as a Term category accounts only for instances in which the word Love and its rooted terms, e.g., loving, loved, appear in the texts. Initially, I hypothesized that if Love lies at the center of Jesus’s teachings today it would be among the highest tallied themes. It turned out that it does, and it does not. Love as a Term ranks as a less significant category. Nonetheless, there are other words, such as blessed, generosity, pity, mercy, compassion, caring, and forgiveness that are manifestations of love. Adding these words to the category Love as a Term presents a more accurate picture of the role of Love in the Gospels. As a category, Love Total Space Minus Miracles ranks much higher. The all-encompassing category Love Total Space Plus Miracles is somewhat of an artificial construct since it includes all miracles in the texts performed by Jesus, including his resurrection. It is based on the assumption that, although the primary purpose of Jesus’s purported miracles is to create faith and validate his existence as God’s son or messiah miracles are also an expression of Jesus’s love for the least ones. Although there is a separate Miracles category, I chose to concentrate on the Love Total Space Minus Miracles category, leaving it be up to the reader to decide if miracles ought to be considered for purposes of ranking. Special attention has been paid to avoid double counting in this category, so that miracle passages are avoided. The individual count and rankings of the terms blessed, generosity, pity, mercy, compassion, caring, and forgiveness also appear in Table 2. Their totals in some cases may not add to the Total Love Space category, namely because there are passages, for example, in the Forgiveness Category that includes non-forgiveness as part of the discussion.

  1. Ex 21, 22, 23.
  2. In Matthew and Mark, their respective passages indicate two distinct commandments while in Luke both love of God and love of neighbor constitute one commandment. In John, Jesus speaks to his disciples about the need to keep commandments, i.e. teachings, although twice he refers to a new commandment, to love one another as he has loved them. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that Jesus’s commandment to love one’s enemy is partially based on Matthew’s inaccurate citation of Jesus (otherwise it is Jesus’s mistake). Jesus teaches that enemies are to be loved in part because of the preceding sentence in the passage: You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ Nonetheless, as NEs point out, there is no Old Testament commandment demanding hatred of one’s enemy, but the “neighbor” of the love commandment was understood as one’s fellow countryman. NEs’ note, Mt 5:43-48; it adds that both in the Old Testament (Ps 139:1922) and at Qumran (1QS 9:21) hatred of evil persons is assumed to be right.).
  3. Some of Jesus’s miracles in John’s Gospel are not primarily motivated by pity or compassion, but namely to foster faith in him:: 2:1 Cana, 4:46 healing the official’s son, 6:5 feeding thousands, 6:16 walking on water, 9:1 healing the blind man, 11:1 raising Lazarus.
  4. Word Frequency Data, (accessed July 22, 2018).
  5. CE admits Christianity’s fertilization of ideas with the Roman world that Christianitydid not disdain to use, to transcend, and to transform. Cyril Charles Martindale, “Paganism,” CE, Vol. 11, (accessed on August 21, 2018).

  1. “Pontifex Maximus,” New World Encyclopedia, (accessed online August 21, 2018).  As regards the title Pontifex Maximus, especially in its application to the pope, there was further a reminiscence of the dignity attached to that title in pagan RomeGeorge Joyce, “The Pope.”  Catholic Encyclopedia Vol.

12, 1911),> (accessed online 21 Aug. 2018).

  1. Thomas Massaro SJ, Thomas A. Shannon, Catholic Perspectives on Peace and War, Chapters 1-2, (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003). On the prohibition of military force for preventive purposes see United Nations Charter, Article 2(4), online (accessed August 23, 2018).
  2. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, LXVII, The Ugliest Man, The Project Gutenberg EBook (accessed on August 4, 2018).

  1. Nowadays these extreme ideologies (that will rely on violence and actions to repress free speech) are identified with Nazism, white supremacy or white nationalism, alt-Right, and the KKK on one end, and the Antifa or anti-fascist groups made up of neo-Marxists, anarchists, and progressive elements on the other. interestingly, conservative and progressive Christians militate on both sides.
  2. Hesketh T, Lu L, Xing ZW., “The consequences of son preference and sex-selective abortion in China and other Asian countries,” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2011;183(12):1374-1377. doi:10.1503/cmaj.101368. (accessed August 15, 2018); Also, China’s ‘one-child’ policies led to forced abortion. Mei Fong, One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 5, 2016). In the United States and many developed and semi-developed countries, abortion has become legal for the reasons outlined in the document. Regarding infanticide, the US has the highest rates of child homicide (8.0/100,000 for infants, 2.5/100,000 for preschool-age children, and 1.5/100,000 for school-age children). The problem of child homicide transcends national boundaries. These rates of child murder are probably underestimated due to inaccurate coroner rulings and some bodies never being discovered. Other countries in addition to the United States that were part of the study included Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Susan Hatters Freidman, Phillip J Resnick, “Child Murder by Mothers: Patterns and Prevention.” World Psychiatry 6.3 (2007): 137–141, (accessed on August 15, 2018).

Euthanizing the disabled was practiced by Hitler’s regime prior to the genocide of Jews. See Michael Berenbaum, “T4 Program,” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., January 2, 2014, (accessed August 15, 2018); and Deborah Schurman-Kauflin Ph.D., “Killing the Disabled: The danger of the wolf pack mentality,” Psychology Today, June 19, 2012. (accessed August 15, 2018).

In terms of genocidal crimes on account of political ideology, we find the atrocities committed by the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, Ben Kiernan, The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79, First edition, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996); on account of ethnicity, see Gérard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide, (NY: Columbia University Press, 1997). As to recent religious conflicts, the ongoing Muslim Rohingya people is suffering from persecution by the Buddhist majority in Myanmar, the Uyghurs in China, Christians, and Yazidis at the hands of ISIS in Syria, Christians and Muslims in the Central African Republic, and the religious/ethnic conflict in which Serbian (Orthodox Christians) persecuted Bosnian Muslims in the Balkans during the 1990s, and Christian repression in North Korea and some Muslim countries.

  1. Conrad Hackett, David McClendon, “Christians remain the world’s largest religious group, but they are declining in Europe,” Pew Research Center, 5 April 2017. (accessed August 14, 2018); PBS, “World Religions Map,” (accessed August 14, 2018); Pew Research Center, “Global Christianity – A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population,” 19 December 2011, (accessed August 14, 2018).

  1. Becka A. Alper, “Why America’s ‘nones’ don’t identify with a religion,” Pew Research Center, August 8, 2018, (accessed August 17, 2018).


The Jewish Religious Authorities

Method note: Terms searched in his tally include, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, scholars of the law, Sanhedrin, chief priest, high priest, Jews (when related to the religious authorities), elders of the people, Caiaphas, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and other terms and passages that relate to the Jewish religious authorities. To establish an evaluation of how the texts refer to this group (positive, negative, or neutral), the tally included pronouns and other nouns that directly relate to the religious authorities. This evaluation appears underneath the category in Table 2. The content analysis tally indicates that the term Pharisee appears (89xt) followed by scribe (66xt), then Chief Priest (54xt), High Priest (29xt), elder (21xt), and Sadducee (9xt). That the Gospels refer so often to the Pharisees relative to the others is not surprising, since Luke himself in his Acts of the Apostles indicates that the Christian faith emerges directly from Pharisaic Judaism, or as a reaction to it (Acts 21:20; 22:3; 23:69; 24:1416; 26:28, 2223).

  1. NEs’ note, Mt 23:1-29.
  2. Ibid., note on Mk 2:10. The editors say that the use of Jesus’s moniker is one of many gratuitous insertions (similar to relying on poetic license) that Mark uses as a commentary to address people who already knew that Jesus was the Messiah.
  3. Not meant to be scientifically, often I have asked relatives and acquaintances with a cultural Christian background if they understand the parable; the answer is always No. Chance of understanding some of these parables would seem to increase among those who attend Bible classes. Nonetheless, one wonders, how would people know if Jesus seldom explains his parables publicly. Interestingly, Jesus seems to approve of fasting in Matthew as long as they do not seek to show others the sacrifice it takes to do so (Mt 6:16).
  4. NEs point out that the order of events in the gospel narratives is often determined by theological motives rather than by chronological data. Note on Jn 2:14-22. While such may be the case, personal discretion by the authors of the Gospels certainly confuse the average reader, particularly wondering how it is possible that God’s revelation can be rearranged to suit religious education without providing any explanation.
  5. “Ancient Jewish History: Pharisees, Sadducees & Essenes,” Jewish Virtual Library,,  (accessed 21 June 2018).

  1. James F. Driscoll, “Pharisees,” CE Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 11, 1911, (accessed 21 June 2018).

  1. Isidore SingerM. SeligsohnWilhelm BacherJudah David Eisenstein, “Scribes,” Jewish Encyclopedia, henceforth JE, (accessed 2 July 2018).
  2. James F. Driscoll, “Scribes,” CE, Vol. 13, 1912, (accessed  21 Jun. 2018).
  3. Shira Schoenberg, “Ancient Jewish History: The Sanhedrin,” Jewish Virtual Library, (accessed 26 June 2018).

  1. “Elder,” Jewish Virtual Library, (accessed 26 June 2018).
  2. Flavius Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, (Book XIII, Chapter 10, 6. Project Gutenberg e-book, trans by William Whiston, last updated Aug 9, 2007. (accessed 27 June 2018).
  3. In Martin Scorsese movie, The Last Temptation of Christ, (1988, Cineplex Odeon Films), based on a vividly imagined novel by the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis, Jesus rejects the temptation to become married, have children, and lead a safe live in order to fulfill the Father’s will.


The Jewish People

Method note: Searched terms included Jewish, Jew, Israeli(te), Israel, Judea, Jerusalem, or inhabitants of other Jewish towns Jesus visited. Additionally, the terms ‘crowd,’ and ‘people’ were included if they refer to the Jewish people. To establish a more realistic assessment of how the terms are used, the tally also included other words, pronouns, and phrases that refer to Jewish people. To establish an evaluation of how the texts refer to this group (positive, negative, or neutral), the tally included pronouns and other nouns that directly relate to the Jewish people. This evaluation appears underneath the category in Table 2. The geographical terms are tallied only if they indicate Jesus’s presence to preach to the people.

  1. NEs’ note, Mt 27:9-10 reads, Matthew’s attributing this text to Jeremiah is puzzling, for there is no such text in that book, and the thirty pieces of silver thrown by Judas “into the temple” (Mt 27:5) recall rather Zec 11:1213.
  2. Ibid., note John 9:22.
  3. Ibid., note Jn 1:11, editors point out that the phrase indicates his own people (the Israelites).
  4. Ibid., note on Jn 4:46-54 suggests that this is likely a different version of the same deed in Matthew, where the sick person is a servant, and in Luke where he is a slave.
  5. This is an awkward remark since Jesus, who claims to know human nature, realizes from the beginning of his mission that he must rely on signs, otherwise people would not believe.
  6. The feast may refer either to Passover or Pentecost according to NEs’ note, Jn 5:1. Moreover, John makes references to ‘a Jewish feast’ three times and twice to the Passover of the Jews; in the synoptic texts Pentecost is never mentioned, however, the Passover is mentioned sixteen times without the Jewish qualifier.
  7. NEs’ note indicates that verse 8:31 constitutes a rough editorial suture (sarcasm on the part of the author) since in Jn 8:37 they are described as trying to kill Jesus. However, there is no such indication about verse 8:30.
  8. Ibid., note on Mt 27:18, emphasis mine.
  9. Matthew sees in those who speak these words the entire people of Israel. NEs’ note, Mt 27:24-25. This statement, however, seems to be quite different than Pope Benedict’s explanation that Matthew’s reference to blood, does not cry out for vengeance and punishment; it brings reconciliation. It is not poured out ‘against’ anyone; it is poured out ‘for’ many. Benedict adds that Matthew’s statement has to be read in the light of faith, supposedly because otherwise it can be misunderstood (as it has). Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011), 187.
  10. Pope Benedict XVI, 185. Benedict insists that the crowd who supported the release of Barabbas were only his supporters, suggesting that none of those who shouted crucify him! included ordinary Jews. 185. This supposition would claim that all Jewish citizens in Jerusalem remained indifferent or fearful to take a stand and that in no way were persuaded to oppose Jesus. Is it plausible? After all, the great majority of the Jewish people did not side with Jesus or with his disciples; they remained with the religious establishment.
  11. The declaration states, What happened in His (Jesus) passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today…. the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy scriptures. “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate,” (4), Vatican II, 28 October 1965, (accessed June 8, 2018).
  12. NEs’ note, Jn 9:22 indicates: Rejection/ex-communication from the synagogue of Jews who confessed Jesus as Messiah seems to have begun ca. A.D. 85, when the curse against the mînîm or heretics was introduced into the “Eighteen Benedictions.”
  13. Nostra Aetate 4. Emphasis mine. How could Pope Benedict, who participated in the writings of Vatican II documents, have overlooked this statement?
  14. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy scriptures. Nostra Aetate,” (4),
  15. Bernhard Blumenkranz, “Church Fathers,” Encyclopedia Judaica, (accessed 12 June 2018).
  16. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Translated by Marcus Dods and George Reith. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight, (accessed 12 June 2018).

  1. C. Baur, “St. John Chrysostom,” Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910), (accessed 13 June 2018).

  1. John Chrysostom, “Against the Jews,” Homily 1, The Tertullian Project, II & III, This material was uploaded by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2011, and derives from a translation of unknown origin formerly hosted at the Medieval Sourcebook (accessed 12 June 2018).

  1. “Augustine’s ‘Treatise Against the Jews,’” posted by Roger Pearse in his blog, Thoughts on Antiquity, Patristic, Information Access, and More, (accessed 12 June 2018).
  2. 20. During his trip to Jerusalem in 2000 Pope John Paul II echoed such behavior as he followed a custom of inserting a note to God into the Western Wall. It read:”We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer. And asking your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the covenant. Deborah Sontag and Alessandra Stanley, “Ending Pilgrimage, the Pope Asks God for Brotherhood, The New York Times, March 27, 2000, (accessed 23 June 2018, emphasis mine).



Method note: For purposes of content analysis, and to obtain a broad picture of the role of Gentiles in the Gospels, the tallying takes into account the terms gentile and pagan as well as non-Jewish persons and groups of people Jesus ministers to (including pronouns), the names of non-Jewish towns and other geographical areas he visits that are inhabited mostly by Gentiles, parables, miracles involving Gentiles, and passages related to his trial and execution at the hands of the Romans. To assess the Gospels’ attitude toward Gentiles, all passages in this category were subjectively evaluated as being positive, negative, or neutral from the viewpoint of the authors’ and Jesus’s views toward Gentiles. The negative count corresponding to Gentiles is high, partially because of the inclusion of passages dealing with Jesus’s trial and crucifixion by the Romans.

  1. First records of the term Christians (followers of the resurrected Christ) appear in Acts of the Apostles 11:26 and 26:28. This is Luke’s second volume (after the Gospel According to Luke) written between 70 CE, after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and 80-90 CE. These converts are scattered out of Jerusalem following the stoning of Stephen by a crowd of Jews and their religious authorities, angered by Stephen’s belittling depiction of them (Acts 7:51-60). Some of these new Christians go to Antioch, near the modern city of Antakya in Turkey, where they establish a church. NEs, Introduction to Luke’s Gospel. Also, a single use of the term appears in Josephus’s Antiquities (near the end of the first century) where he describes Christians as a tribe; XVIII, 3, 3.
  2. “Gentile,” Jewish Virtual Library, (accessed April 26, 2019); Francis Gigot, “Gentiles,” CE, Vol. 6. (accessed April 26, 2019).
  3. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, online s.v. “gentile, pagan.”
  4. A traditional and well documented Catholic account indicates that these men belonged to the religious caste of the Medes in Persia, practiced Zoroastrianism, and were not kings. Interestingly, in Spanish culture, these men are known as magicians (festively referred to as reyes magos), likely because, at the time, magic and sorcery were traits identified with possessing wisdom, despite that their religion forbade it. Walter Drum, “Magi.” CE, Vol. 9. (accessed April 30, 2019). Nonetheless, the Spanish Bible translation uses the term magos or magicians. Mateo 2:1-16. Biblia Latinoamericana, (accessed April 30, 2019).

  1. Such a prohibition does not appear in Mark’s or Luke’s Gospels that, perhaps, not coincidentally were addressed to Gentiles. Hence, Jesus’s instruction in Mark and Luke not to go into Gentile lands would have been awkward, i.e., it would signify that Jesus was not interested in converting Gentiles. NEs suggest that the absence of this prohibition, indicate a certain adaptation to conditions in and outside of Palestine and suggest in Mark’s account a later activity in the church. However, once again, these issues raise legitimate questions concerning divine revelation, since there are numerous passages in the Gospels that were inserted after the initial texts were written. Hence, are such adaptations the authors or is it God making corrections at a later time?
  2. NEs admit that whether the servant is an individual or a collectivity is not clear …although in the early Church and throughout Christian tradition, these poems have been applied to Christ. Note on Isaiah 42:1-4.
  3. Ibid., note Matthew 7:6:  Dogs and swine were Jewish terms of contempt for Gentiles. This saying may originally have derived from a Jewish Christian community opposed to preaching the gospel (what is holy, pearls) to Gentiles. In the light of Mt 28:19that can hardly be Matthew’s meaning. He may have taken the saying as applying to a Christian dealing with an obstinately impenitent fellow Christian (Mt 18:17).
  4. CCC 60.


Mosaic Law

Method note: The words that were searched in this category were the following: Moses (39xt), law (referring to Mosaic Law, 73xt), righteousness, i.e., abidance to the law (36xt), tradition (originating within the context of the law, 40xt), fasting (practice pertaining to the law, 20xt), Sabbath (one of the commandments, 50xt), baptism (practiced originated by Jesus, 30xt), commandment (related to Mosaic Law, 23xt), blasphemy (contravention of the law, 15xt).

  1. It is generally acknowledged that Moses could not have been the author of the entire five books that constitutes the Torah or Jewish Written Law, also knowns as the Pentateuch in the Old Testament. For a summary of the complexity surrounding its authorship please refer to NEs, Introduction to the Pentateuch: (accessed February 8, 2019).

  1. “Judaism: The Written Law – Torah,” JVL, Jewish Virtual Library. (accessed February 8, 2019). Thomas à Kempis Reilly, “Mosaic Legislation,” CE, Vol. 10,1911, (accessed February 8, 2019).
  2. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “abolish.”
  3. Merriam-Webster Dictionary;, online, s.v. “fulfill.
  4. NEs suggest that Jesus establishes a new law because the gospel cannot be contained within the limits of Mosaic law. Note on Matthew 9:16-17.
  5. Luke (or Revelation?) states that Joseph and Mary completed their purification prior to presenting the newborn to the Lord according to the law of Moses. According to NEs, Mosaic Law does not mention purification of the husband; also, the woman who gives birth to a child is not allowed to enter the temple area until after forty days have passed; and, there is no requirement that the child be presented to the Lord at the temple. Note on Lk 2:22.
  6. The manner in which Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is worded indicates a slant that favors the man who, once he marries his wife, may become displeased with her if he finds in her something indecent and divorces her. The texts, however, do not explain what hardness of the heart means in the context of Jesus’s exchange with the Pharisees.
  7. For practical purposes Jesus amends the Law. Had there been someone without sin Jesus would have had to allow the woman to be stoned. On the other hand, since all humans are sinners, the law would carry no weight.
  8. The Jewish custom calls the Sabbath the first day of the week; it begins on Saturday after sunset. Following the resurrection of Jesus, the apostolic community began to informally observe the Sabbath on a Sunday (Act 20:7). In 336 CE during the Synod of Laodicea, Christians were forbidden to Judaize by resting on the Sabbath (the Jewish Sabbath), after which the practice to observe the Sabbath on Sunday (the day Jesus was resurrected) officially began. “Synod of Laodicea,” Translated by Henry Percival. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1900.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. (accessed February 13, 2019).
  9. Even Jesus’s followers keep observing the sabbath after his crucifixion (Mk 15:42-43, 16:1, Mt 28:1, Jn 19:31).
  10. “Jewish Holidays: Fast and Fasting Days,” JVL, (accessed February 11, 2009); James David O’Neill, “Abstinence,” CE, Vol 1, (accessed February 11, 2009).

  1. “Tradition,” JVL, (accessed February 12, 2009).
  2. “Ablution,” JVL, (accessed February 12, 2009).
  3. Officially, the extent of the commandment in the Catholic hierarchy is limited because of its opposition to gay sexual behavior in marriage and gay adoptions (while it accepts gay tendencies and identification). On transgenderism, there has been no official pronouncement beyond Pope Francis’s view that the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created, (not clear if it applies only to the physical aspect while excluding the psychological identity), and the official words of the U.S. bishops reflecting Vatican doctrine that consistently affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person and advocates for the wellbeing of all people, particularly the most vulnerable. See “The Many Faces of Pope Francis: A Five-Year Timeline of His LGBT Record,” New Ways Ministry. (accessed February 14, 2019). Other Christian denominations would seem to share mixed views regarding faith, ethnicity, gender, status, or nationality. When it comes to Christian believers’ positions on love and each of these categories, however, it appears (through observation) that unrequited love is not extended to all, including one’s enemies. See, for example, Christian Americans’ view of Muslims in “U.S. Muslims Concerned About Their Place in Society, but Continue to Believe in the American Dream: Findings from Pew Research Center’s 2017 survey of U.S. Muslims,” Section 7,  How the U.S. general public views Muslims and Islam. Pew Research Center Religion and Public Life, July 26, 2017,

(accessed on February 14, 2019).



Method note: The words used in this search included reason, understand, think, wisdom, mind, know, comprehend, explain, learn, and realize. The Parables category is added since parables constitute teaching lessons through which Jesus appeals to human understanding and wisdom. NEs’ note, Matthew 13:11 indicates that parables demand reflection for understanding, even if such understanding is a gift that God gives only to a few. Each parable is tallied as 1xt and added to the above words or terms to express Total xt, except when the above words appear in a parable, in which case the parable is not counted as xt. All parables, however, are added to the total as (p) and (sp). The distribution of these terms in the synoptics seems proportionate to their length, although all four authors show a preference for three words: think, know, and understand account for about eighty-six percent of all terms related to the category. The term know appears 245xt, by far the most, but largely because of the lopsided use in John’s Gospel, (113xt), as opposed to (30xt) in Mark, (53xt) in Luke, and (49xt) in Matthew. In the Gospels, Reason appears 12xt only; however, other terms are more numerous: think 38xt, understand 43xt, realize 25xt; altogether terms related to this category appear 440xt in the Gospels.

  1. I realize that science tends to analyze the whole by breaking it down into specialized areas. Without getting involved in the argument of whether there exists something we refer to as the mind as an independent object where behavior is initiated (as opposed to simply there being a brain where all activity takes place), or how many parts coexist in the mind, I am simplifying matters by distinguishing only between reason or cognition and emotions or affections. Some have referred to a third part of the mind labeled conation, defined as an inclination or impulse to act purposefully. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “conation.” For purposes of this study, conation refers to the outcome of conscious or subconscious exchanges that take place between reason and emotions or between the cognitive and affective sources of human behavior.
  2. Jesus’s accusations against the religious authorities are not merely rants but constitute concrete charges that he considers to be evil. The term word is used 80xt in all four Gospels (37xt in John); it stands also for ‘reasonable’ explanations about the kingdom of God and God’s plan of salvation. None of these are used in tallying this category except for The Word in Jn 1:1, 5 whereby it refers to Jesus, connoting wisdom as the ultimate intelligibility of reality (Hellenistic philosophy) according to NEs’ note, Jn 1:1. If Jesus’s attacks and the term word had been used, the Rationality category would have increased its ranking, although it would not have affected the results radically; that is, no category would have shifted from Highly Significant to Insignificant, or vice-versa.
  3. A rough comparison suggests that in proportion to their lengths, the New Testament emphasizes Reason and related words far more than the Old Testament. The Old Testament in the 21 Century King James Version is about 4 to 4.25 times longer than the New Testament; the NEs’ Catholic version of the OT is longer, as it includes several books that the Protestant version chose not to include in its Bible: “How Many Pages Are There in the Bible,”, February 2016, (accessed March 15, 2020). The data extracted from both Bible versions are still similar enough to confirm the more ‘Rational’ nature of the NT. Thus, relying on data from, despite that the OT is 4xt longer than the NT, the number of times the word Reason shows in the OT and the NT are almost similar in both Bible versions; Know appears only 1 ½ to 2 xt more in the OT; Knowledge, 3xt more; Understand, equal to 2.5 xt more; Think, .5 to 1.5 xt more; Learn, equal to 2.5 xt more; Mind, equal to 2xt more; Explain, equal to .5xt more; Comprehend, almost equal in both versions. Only the term Wisdom shows great disparity, as it is used 5xt more in the OT than in the NT in the Catholic Bible, and only 3xt more in the Protestant version.
  4. Oxford English Corpus, (accessed July 22, 2018); Word Bank of 1200 High-Frequency Writing Words, (accessed July 22, 2018); Word Frequency Data, (accessed July 22, 2018).

  1. The abilityto make good judgments based on what you have learned from your experience, or the knowledge and understanding that give you this ability. Cambridge Dictionary, online, s.v. “wisdom.”
  2. NEs’ note, Lk 23:34 signal that this portion of Lk 23:34 does not occur in the oldest papyrus manuscript of Luke and other early Greek manuscripts and ancient versions of wide geographical distribution.
  3. Ibid., Book of Wisdom, Introduction.
  4. The plight of humankind is clearly one of ignorance, unless the “holy spirit” is sent from God, explain NEs. Ibid., note, Wis 9:15.
  5. Caleb Scharf is the director of the multidisciplinary Columbia Astrobiology Center at Columbia University in New York. In his article, “This is What We Don’t Know About the Universe,” he suggests that it’s relatively easy to focus on what we know, yet to me the wonder of the cosmos, the awesomeness, is never greater than when we contemplate all that we don’t know. Scientific American, (2014), (accessed July 21, 2018).
  6. A search for the terms understand and realize throughout the Gospels indicate that on several occasions the disciples fail to understand Jesus, leading him to the point of becoming exasperated with them.
  7. NEs’ note, Job 28:1-28. A passage in this chapter in Job reads partially, As for wisdom, where does she come from? Where is the place of understanding?…. Mortals do not know her path, nor is she to be found in the land of the living…. But God understands the way to her; it is he who knows her place. For he beholds the ends of the earth and sees all that is under the heavens….
  8. Ibid, note on Mk 6:52. Mark is the only one who provides this interpretation. In Matthew, once Jesus identifies himself, Peter doubts it is him and asks him to prove it by ordering him to walk on water; Peter becomes frightened and begins to sink. Jesus rescues him, and mildly chastises him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? (Mt 14:25-31); in John, Jesus merely says, it is I, don’t be afraid (Jn 6:16-21).
  9. In Catholicism, the following were among various practices mandated: no meat (and preferably fish) had to be consumed during Lent on Fridays; communion could not be received in the hands, and those receiving it had to abstain from eating anything hours before.
  10. NEs’ note, Mt 16:12.
  11. Ibid., The idea of a suffering Messiah is not found in the Old Testament or other Jewish literature prior to the New Testament period, although the idea is hinted at in Mk 8:3133. NEs’ note, Lk 24:24-26. That God somehow could misguide Luke is yet another of the many surprising human revelations found in the Gospels.
  12. Ibid., note on Mt 11:16.
  13. If the parables were so easy to understand, maybe Fr. John Meier, one of the foremost experts in Jesus, has wasted his time writing a 464 pages volume questioning many of them. John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Volume V: Probing the Authenticity of the Parables, (New Haven: The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library, 2016).
  14. NEs’ note, Mt 16:2.
  15. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “intelligibility.”
  16. There are simply too many uses of the ‘I’ pronoun in John’s Gospel to illustrate the point. However, through the word ‘I’ is identified, and readers may be able to see for themselves the extent to which Jesus relies on ‘I.’
  17. NEs’ note, Mt 13:11.1.



Method note: There is in Table 2 two distinctive categories for faith. The content analysis tally initially sought to isolate faith from other categories to explain its nature. It searched for the terms, faith, belief/ve, accept, embrace, acknowledge, persevere, remain, etc., insofar as they point to Jesus’s request to trust God, and him, because of his close relationship with God. The term faith appears by itself in Table 2 as a highly ranked category. In the Gospels, however, faith is much broader than what its synonyms may indicate, because almost everything that appears in the texts is, ultimately, a matter of faith. Faith encompasses other themes that when added together create a super-category. This super-category consists of Prayer since it is presumed that no one prays to a supernatural being without believing in its existence; narratives about the kingdom of God and God’s Will, basically for the same reason; the God as Everyone’s Father category that tallies passages in which the reader is asked to believe in an intimate God that is close to people’s lives; and the Resurrection of Jesus that, as the definitive miracle, people can only accept through faith. Each one is also separately subsumed in Table 2. There should be no overlapping of passages in the tallying.

  1. The term supernatural, as used in this work, indicates the existence of a reality that transcends human phenomena or is beyond scientific explanations and usually associated with divine beings (including satanic entities). It does not include the possible existence of non-divine extra-terrestrial beings.
  2. Line by line comparison of the original Nicene Creed in 325 and changes made at the First Council of Constantinople in 381, at New World Encyclopedia Contributors, “Nicene Creed,” New World Encyclopedia, 8 January 2015, (accessed 18 December 2016).

  1. The longer ending of Mark’s text 16:9-19 appears to have been written during the second century but was accepted as part of the gospel centuries later at the Council of Trent. NEs’ note, Mark 16:9:20.
  2. Snake handlers have died while wishing to prove to others that the passage in Mark ought to be taken literally as a sign of faith in God. Accordingly, the response is that if the snake handler dies it is because God wished it or because he/she did not have enough faith, an example of sophistry at its worst. For evidence that God may have wished some to die or that they lacked faith see: Lisa Alther, ‘They shall take up serpents,’ The New York Times, 6 June 1976, (accessed July 8, 2018); Ashley Fantz, “Reality show snake-handling preacher dies — of snakebite,” CNN, 18 February 2014, (accessed July 8, 2018); Brian Handwerk, “Snake Handlers Hang On in Appalachian Churches,” National Geographic News, 7 April 2003, (accessed July 8, 2018); Robert Winston, “Why do we believe in God?” extracts from his book The Story of God, published in The Guardian, 13 October 2005, (accessed July 8, 2018).

  1. NEs’ note in Mt 13:18 explain that scholars question the veracity of Jesus’s words in this parable.
  2. Ibid., editors indicate that Satan steals away their faith because they are people who never acceptthe word of the kingdom. This is quite different than having their faith taken away because they do not understand it. Note, Mt 13:19.
  3. A similar view prevailed during the French Enlightenment even among individuals with a strong Christian background, largely because the Catholic Church supported despotic French monarchs, its intolerance regarding non-Catholic denominations, and strong opposition to individual human rights. Among them stand out Jean Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract) and Voltaire (Treatise on Tolerance on the Occasion of the Death of Jean Calas, Questions on Miracles). In the nineteenth century, Friedrich Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil, The Anti-Christ) and Karl Marx (A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right) are among the most notable representatives of this view. Today this view has been propounded by Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell, (London: Penguin Books, 2007); Christopher Hitchens, god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, (New York: Twelve, 2009); Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason; (New York: W.W. Norton, 2005); Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, (New York: Mariner Books, 2008).
  4. Dawkins describes the God of the Old Testament as arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniac, sado-masochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. Although Dawkins’ quote sounds as if he is enraged (likely he is), it is difficult to deny his characterization after reading many passages in the Old Testament that may leave the reader wondering what type of Maker we are likely to meet. Dawkins, The God Delusion, 51.



Method note: The words searched for this category include: pray/prayer, worship, ask (as in petitioning), knock (as in calling on God), may (as part of prayer), blessing (as in giving thanks to God or asking for God’s grace), praise (to God), glorify, and instances of actual praying in the texts. The word that is mostly used in the synoptics is pray (61xt) followed by blessing (55xt) while John’s Gospel relies more on the terms glory (34xt), worship (13xt), and ask (12xt).).

  1. It is interesting to observe how closely related are Jewish and Christian views on prayer. In Judaism, prayer is based on the conviction that God exists, hears, and answers (Ps. 65:3; cf. 115:3–7) – that He is a personal deity. In a sense, it is a corollary of the biblical concept that man was created “in the image of God” (Gen. 1:26–27), which implies, inter alia, fellowship with God. Although prayer has an intellectual base, it is essentially emotional in character. It is an expression of man’s quest for the Divine and his longing to unburden his soul before God (Ps. 42:2–3 [1–2]; 62:9[8]). Hence prayer takes many forms: petition, expostulation, confession, meditation, recollection (anamnesis), thanksgiving, praise, adoration, and intercession. “Prayer,” JVL, (accessed February 28, 2019).
  2. Similar passages appear throughout the texts:

I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them

  by my heavenly Father (Mt 18:19).

Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive (Mt 21:22).

I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these because I

  am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the

  Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it (Jn 14:12-14).

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you (Jn 15:7).

Whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you (Jn 15:16).

 Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you (Jn 16:23).

  1. Pew Research Center, “Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe,” May 2017, (accessed 9 September 2017); Stoyan Zaimov, “Most Western Europeans No Longer Believe in Heaven and Hell, Survey Finds,” Christian Post, Dec. 2017,  (accessed 9 September 2017). Pew Research Center, “Being Christian in Western Europe,” May 2018,  (accessed 30 May 2018); Conrad Hackett, David McClendon, “Christians remain world’s largest religious group, but they are declining in Europe,” Pew Research Center, 5 April 2017. (accessed August 14, 2018); PBS, “World Religions Map,” (accessed

August 14, 2018); Pew Research Center, “Global Christianity – A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population,” 19 December 2011, (accessed August 14, 2018); Becka A. Alper, “Why America’s ‘nones’ don’t identify with a religion,” Pew Research Center, August 8, 2018,

(accessed August 17, 2018); Already in 2015, Millennials in the United States (ages 22 to 37 in 2018) regarded Christmas as more cultural than a religious holiday, (forty percent of Millennials saw Christmas as a religious holiday compared with fifty-six percent for Baby Boomers): Michael Lipka, “Many Millennials see Christmas as more cultural than a religious holiday,” Pew Research Center, December 18, 2015. (accessed on December 13, 2018). Another Pew poll’s title is indicative of this trend: “Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life,” December 12, 2017. (accessed December 13, 2018); Lydia Saad, “Record Few Americans Believe Bible Is Literal Word of God,” Gallup, 3-7 May 2017,  (accessed 9 September 2017).

  1. Ngala Killian Chimtom, “Prayers won’t eradicate Boko Haram, education will, says Nigerian bishop,” Crux, October 21, 2017, (accessed October 27, 2017).
  2. Clare Foran, “Texas governor calls for action after shooting to ‘make sure this tragedy is never repeated,’” CNN Politics, May 18, 2018. (accessed May 18, 2018).
  3. The question he left hanging, unstated but clear to everyone present, was, “Why didn’t you help?” John L. Allen Jr., “Celebrating one of history’s most refined, and recognizably human, popes,” Crux, October 12, 2018, (accessed October 15, 2018).



Method note: The search for this category concentrated on the words synagogue, temple, church, assembly (if referring to a gathering of believers), house or room, i.e., a dwelling, house indicating a community or nation of believers, and deserted or open areas (where Jesus often prays and teaches), all suggesting church ministry.

  1. Although the Protestant version is identical to its Catholic counterpart (a few may use congregation or assembly), it differs regarding the type of authority that Jesus gives to Peter; a crucial issue in the existing rift within Christianity.
  2. According to NEs, the offensive words appear to be a reflection of the conflict between Jews and early Jesus’s followers in a local Matthean church and may not have been said by Jesus at all. If this is the case, it is Matthew who ascribes such words to Jesus in reference to Gentiles and tax collectors. NEs’ note, Matthew 18:15-17. Once again, we must ask if such insertions are part of God’s revelation or gratuitous insults that Matthew attributes to Jesus.
  3. Ibid., note on Mt 16:18. NEs only suggest that there might be several possibilities for an Aramaic original.
  4. Ibid., note on Acts 2:4-6. According to NEs, in this initial stage there was little or no thought of any dividing line between Christianity and Judaism. Also, it must be noted that nearly all of Jesus’s followers at the time were Jewish Christians. Non-Jewish Christians (Gentiles) begin to appear largely through the work of Paul, and the numbers increase following Peter and James’s decision in 50 CE at the so-called Council of Jerusalem that allow Gentiles not to follow Mosaic Law (with some exceptions) as a prerequisite to conversion. Florentine Bechtel, “Judaizers,” CE. Vol. 8. (accessed April 19, 2019).
  5. “Ancient Jewish History: The Ark of the Covenant,” JVL, (accessed April 11, 2019).6. Although Jews use the synagogue for community prayer services, they can pray anywhere except for certain prayers that require the presence of ten adult men. The synagogue can be used as well as a center of study, education, social hall, and charitable activities (quite similar to Christian churches today). “The Synagogue: Background and Review,” JVL, (accessed April 11, 2019).
  6. Lawrence H. Schiffman, “The Second Temple,” Bible Odysee, (accessed April 12, 2019). According to Schiffman, sacrificial offerings and prayers were performed twice daily, in the morning and late afternoon, with additional rites on Sabbaths and festival days. Offerings were tendered for forgiveness of sin, purificationfrom contact with the dead and other ritualimpurities, and expressions of gratitude to God. These and other offerings involved pure (kosher) animals such as cows, sheep, goats, and birds, grain offerings, or the first fruits of each season.
  7. Josephus, Book XV, Chapter 11, 3.
  8. Barnabas Meistermann, “Temple of Jerusalem,” CE, Vol. 14, (accessed April 12, 2019).
  9. The religious authorities’ view of the sacredness of the Temple is different; it is based mostly on Mosaic Law and human tradition. An example of the rigidity of following the Law occurs when Judas returns the thirty pieces of silver he was paid for handing Jesus to the chief priest and the elders; they refuse to accept it because, it is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury, for it is the price of blood. So, they use it to buy a burial plot for foreigners (Mt 27:3-6).
  10. It is possible that part or much of Jesus’s critique of the religious authorities, although well-founded according to NEs, is conditioned (and perhaps even misattributed to Jesus) because of the existing conflict between Pharisaic Judaism and the Matthean church. NEs’ note, Matthew 23:1-39.
  11. Ibid., NEs’ note, Matthew 17:24-27. The editors indicate that the accuracy of this account is questionable, as it is heavily influenced by conditions prevailing within the Matthean church that at this time is made up mostly of Jewish Christians.
  12. It may be accurate to say that, according to the Gospels, Jesus is not involved in conspiracies; his attacks against the religious authorities and his people for rejecting his teachings are visibly public. On the other hand, the texts indicate that Jesus spends an inordinate amount of time with his disciples to teach them about the mission they will embark, once he is no longer around. A quick search for the phrase his disciples indicates how often Jesus is alone with his disciples. The phrase appears 120 times in all four Gospels. In a few instances, the phrase does not apply to this point; it is, however, in almost 100xt. During these private moments, he tells his disciples that they get to know more about God’s kingdom than the rest of the people who are taught through parables, some of which are less enlightening (even meant to confuse) than what his disciples get to learn (See section on Parables).
  13. [John Chapman, “Didache,” CE, (accessed April 18, 2019).
  14. Theologian Alister McGrath suggests that the early Christians were, for a time, following Jewish law; [they] seemed to regard Christianity as an affirmation of every aspect of contemporary Judaism, with the addition of one extra belief, that Jesus was the Messiah. The qualifying phrase every aspect might be an overstatement given that McGrath makes this assertion within the context of the practice of circumcision that some of the disciples sought to impose on converts. Jesus, however, had taught his disciples that the law was meant to serve human beings, not the other way around. Thus, likely these Jewish Christians were, indeed, following some but not all of the Old Law. Alister E. McGrath, Christianity: An Introduction. (Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell Publishing 2006), pp172-175; Adrian Fortescue, “Jerusalem (A.D. 71-1099).” CE, Vol. 8, (accessed April 18, 2019).


Divine Providence

Method note: There are no particular words or phrases that point to divine providence. Generally defined as God’s active participation in human affairs, the search focused on passages that allude to instances in which the texts suggest that God is, indeed, involved in his own creation.

  1. Although the same passages in other Bible versions do not use the term providence, their substance is similar. (Job 10:12 in NEs and New King James Version). The Book of Wisdom does not appear in Protestant versions of the Bible as it is considered of dubious origin, or likely not being divinely inspired. The term Providence, however, may appear as a title or subtitle to a particular chapter throughout the Bible, but it is not tallied because it is not part of the original passage. Contrast Psalm 33:1 in NEs and NKJV in
  2. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, online, s.v. “providence.”
  3. Throughout history, even pagan religions have accepted some form of divine providence. Leslie Walker, “Divine Providence.” Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 12. (accessed July 16, 2019).
  4. Ibid.
  5. CCC 321.
  6. Ibid., 302. The Catechism quotes from Vatican Council I, Dei Filius1: DS 3003: By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made, “reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and ordering all things well”. Empirical reasoning would require clarification regarding the phrase ordering all things well.
  7. Ibid., 309-314.

8.There have been Christian religious and political leaders that, relying on the Old Testament, accept the premise that God punishes humans for their iniquities, including the innocent. Warren J, Blumenfeld, “God and Natural Disasters: It’s the Gays Fault?” February 2, 2016. (accessed July 18, 2019); John Gallagher, Chris Bull, Perfect Enemies: The Religious Right, the Gay Movement, and the Politics of the 1990s, Chapter 1, The Washington Post, 1996. (accessed July 18, 2019). The view that natural disasters, such as the fourteenth-century Black Death plague, constitute God’s punishment for human sin has prevailed throughout Christian history, even though this notion has been rejected by the Church’s hierarchy.

  1. CCC 299-301.



Method note: Specific words, such as predestined, preordained, destined, determined, predetermined, chosen, the elect, were searched in this category. Also, any passage that connotes the view that human salvation is predetermined or predestined by God since creation.

  1. Some non-Catholic versions include two additional instances, (Eph 1:5, 11) while others do not include any.
  2. Joseph Pohle, “Predestination,” CE Vol. 12. (accessed June 13, 2019).
  3. The Catechism pays negligible attention to this concept. It states that God establishes his eternal plan of predestination” with his plan of salvation (a confusing definition); CCC 600. The catechism also quotes Rom 8:28-30, CCC 2012.
  4. NEs’ note, John 1:13.
  5. Says Augustine: But that what was hidden may come to light, and what was unpleasant may be made agreeable, is of the graceof God which helps the wills of men; and that they are not helped by it, has its causelikewise in themselves, not in God, whether they be predestinated to condemnation, on account of the iniquity of their pride or whether they are to be judged and disciplined contrary to their very pride if they are children of mercy…. Now this same Lord of ours has never yet refused, at any period of the human race, nor to the last judgment will He ever refuse, this His healing to those whom, in His most sure foreknowledge and future loving-kindness, He has predestinated to reign with Himself to life eternal. Augustine of Hippo, On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sins, and the Baptism of Infants, Trans. Peter Holmes and Robert Ernest Wallis, and revised by Benjamin B. Warfield. Book II, Chapter 26, 47. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 5. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing

Co., 1887). (accessed June 12, 2019). Emphasis mine.

  1. The Council of Trent, Chapter XII. (accessed June 18, 2019).
  2. John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, (1509-1564) trans. Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1845). Book First, Chapter 16, par. 3. (accessed June 12, 2019).

  1. Ibid., Book First, Chapter 16, p. 8.
  2. Ibid., Book Third, Chapter 21, p. 5.
  3. Ibid., Book First, Chapter 16, par. 8.
  4. Pohle.
  5. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God (Col 1:1); giving thanks to the Father, who has made you (Colossian disciples) fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light (Col 1:12); But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles (Col 1:26-27); Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will (Eph 1:3-6)… Emphasis mine.

Moreover, it is interesting that NEs use the phrase destined us for adoption; all other 27 English translations show either predestined, foreordained, had already decided, or in advance. The Jerusalem Bible translates the phrase as determining that we should become his adopted son.

13.Pohle, Par. “Notion of Predestination.”

  1. The remote preparation for this gathering together of the People of God begins when [God] calls Abraham and promises that he will become the father of a great people. Its immediate preparation begins with Israel’s election as the People of God…. They would be the root on to which the Gentiles would be grafted, once they came to believe. CCC 762, 64.
  2. Ibid., 218, 219.
  3. Ibid., 599, 600. Furthermore,, when the Catechism states that God has adopted us as his children (2782), it suggests that us means humanity (redemption), although it may be referring only to those who have accepted Jesus in faith.
  4. NEs’ note, Mark 4:26-29.



Methodology note: Searched words included repentance, conversion, baptism, rebirth, transform, acknowledge sins, crying, and forgiveness (if related) since at the time these terms presumed an attitude of repentance.

  1. While Merriam-Webster Dictionary emphasizes internal conversion or change of attitude, Cambridge Dictionary stresses only a sense of regret or sorrow for one’s misdeeds. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online; Cambridge Dictionary, online, s.v. “repent.”
  2. A pious explanation by a modern-day apologist would insist that the gates of a father’s house are never too narrow for his children, no matter how obese they get. There have always been more good people than bad ones, and not all who have done wrong are ill intentioned.
  3. The decision to extend the Christian faith outside Judaism is the result of Paul’s discussions with Peter and James at the so-called Council of Jerusalem in 50 CE (Acts 15:1-33). The Gospels offer no adequate explanation for the sudden and similar endings at the end of the synoptics in which Jesus urges his disciples that his teachings be spread to all nations of the world rather than only to the Jewish people (Mk 16:15-20, Lk 24:47, Mt 28:18-20). Although Jesus threatens the Israelites to take away salvation if they do not accept his version of God’s message, there is no explanation why he opens the path to salvation to all humanity.
  4. According to NEs, the harsh language about Gentile and tax collector probably reflects a stage of the Matthean church when it was principally composed of Jewish Christians. If so, this is not Jesus’s teaching, and instead reflects an early Christian form of derogatory comments toward Gentiles and sinners, the bulk of Christianity’s base.
  5. This is NEs conclusion; note, Lk 13:22-30.
  6. It is interesting that on the issue of blasphemy Thomas Aquinas begs to differ from Jesus as he concludes that, considered in itself this sin (blasphemy against the Holy Spirit) is unpardonable, although God can pardon it. Aquinas’s conclusion would make sense since God supposedly can do anything he wishes, including forgiving the unforgiven, out of mercy, or because of his understanding of human nature. Thomas Aquinas, “Question 14 – Of Blasphemy Against The Holy Ghost, Article. 3 – Whether the sin against the Holy Ghost can be forgiven?” Summa Theologica, II/II, p 2778 in pdf format.  (accessed online September 25, 2018).

  1. Among the most notable politicians in the United States that glorify not having to apologize on behalf of the nation are George H. W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Donald Trump. Bush is known for his remark following the United States accidentally shooting down an Iranian commercial airline saying, I will never apologize for the United States of America, ever. I don’t care what the facts are. CSpanClassics, December 20, 2010, Courtesy the C-Span Archives, August 1988, Mitt Romney in his book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, chastised Barack Obama for his admissions of America’s misdeeds overseas, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010). Donald Trump, feeling that America is the greatest fighting force, told U.S. Naval Academy graduates that we are not going to apologize for America. We are going to stand up for America. No more apologies. Mel Leonor, “Trump proclaims ‘we are not going to apologize for America’,” Politico, May 25, 2018, (accessed online September 10, 2018). On the opposite end stands Richard Nixon, who despite colluding with North Vietnam to get himself elected to the US presidency, did apologize for his Watergate misdeeds. John A. Farrell, “When a Candidate Conspired With a Foreign Power to Win An Election,” Politico Magazine, August 6, 2017, (accessed March 2, 2020). Nixon apologized for Watergate during an interview with David Frost in 1977, Brian Stelter, “David Frost, Interviewer Who Got Nixon to Apologize for Watergate, Dies at 74,” The New York Times, September 1, 2013, (accessed March 2, 2020). John McCain admitted mistakes for his involvement in the Keating 5 financial scandal and for not condemning the Confederate Flag during his run for the presidency in 2000. Lauren Gambino, “John McCain: 10 moments that will shape the senator’s legacy,” The Guardian, August 25, 2018, (accessed March 2, 2020). Barack Obama acknowledged US misconduct throughout history toward Europe and the Arab and Muslim worlds. Affan Chowdhry, “Fact or fiction: Is Obama the ‘apologist’ president?” The Globe and Mail, May 8, 2018, (accessed March 2, 2020). Pope John Paul II issued an apology in 2000 for errors committed by the Catholic Church throughout its 2000 years of history, including religious intolerance and injustice toward Jews, women, indigenous peoples, immigrants, the poor, the unborn, and persecution of Catholics by other faiths. Alessandra Stanley, “Pope Asks Forgiveness for Errors of the Church Over 2,000 Years,” The New York Times, March 13, 2000, (accessed March 2, 2020).



Method note: Searched words were those rooted in forg, e.g., forgave, forgiving, unforgiving, etc. Passages that relate to the act of forgiveness are included even if the term is not present. Miracles that appear in passages dealing with forgiveness are not included in tallying (sp) since they are counted in the overall category of Total Love Plus Miracles.

  1. The belief that forgiveness is only up to God seems to have become a meme in secular culture. The phrase ‘may God forgive you because I won’t,’ has been used in films equating un-forgiveness with toughness: God Forgives, I Don’t, dir. by Giuseppe Colizzi (1967, Italy, Produzioni Atlas Consorziate (P.A.C.); in the film Man on Fire, dir. by Tony Scott, (2004, 20th Century Fox, USA), there is a line uttered by Denzel Washington that reads, Forgiveness is between them and God, my job is to arrange the meeting; Only God Forgives, dir. by Nicolas Winding Refn, (2013, Radius-TWC, Denmark). In music, Rick Ross, God Forgives, I Don’t (2012; Maybach . Slip-n-Slide . Def Jam, 2012). Ross, an American rapper, sends a cryptic religious message through the songs in the album. In one of the songs, “Pray for Us,” the lyrics ask for forgiveness for the sins they (African Americans) will commit in the future as a result of how they are currently being treated. (accessed online September 12, 2018). The meme has surfaced in politics too. reports that Variations of the phrase “to forgive the terrorists is up to god, but to send them to him is up to me” have been circulating for several years. In 2001, the quote was incorrectly attributed to General Norman Schwarzkopf. While we haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact origins of the phrase, we previously noted that the phrase could be a misremembering of a message commonly told to soldiers in ROTC training in the 1980s: Your enemy’s duty is to die in defense of his country. Your duty is to see that your enemy does his duty. Dan Evon, “The Last Putin Hero,”, 19 November 2015,, (accessed online September 10, 2018). Additionally, many of today’s’ action movies and television programs portray revenge as daring, exciting, courageous, and necessary.
  2. A few examples may suffice to learn about the inroads into studying forgiveness: “Using Conflict Resolution Skills: Trying to Forgive and Move Forward,” Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School, June 25, 2020, (accessed September 11, 2020); Frank D. Fincham, Steven R. H. Beach, Joanne Davila, “Forgiveness and Conflict Resolution in Marriage,” Journal of Family Psychology, Vol. 18, No, 72-81, 2004, American Psychological Association, Inc. 2004, Vol. 18, No. 1, 72–81, (accessed September 11, 2020); Ellen F. Kandell,

“Managing Conflict Through Forgiveness,” November 2, 2012, (accessed September 11, 2020);

Deborah S. Butler, Fran Mullis, Butler, D. S., & Mullis, F. (2001). Forgiveness: A conflict resolution strategy in the workplace. The Journal of Individual Psychology, 2001, 57(3), 259–272, (accessed September 11, 2020); Nava Löwenheim, “A haunted past: Requesting forgiveness for wrongdoing in International Relations,” Review of International Studies, July 2009, 35(3), 531-555; Yehudith Auerbach, “Conflict Resolution, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation in Material Identity Conflicts,” Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, vol. 29, no. 2, 2005, pp. 41–80. JSTOR, (accessed 11 Sept. 2020).

  1. These writings are not part of the Hebrew Bible or accepted by Protestants. They are, however, regarded as canonical by the Catholic church. NEs’ note, “Introduction,” Sirach.
  2. This view is controversial. It alludes to Jesus’s role as savior and redeemer, except that it is not known who he is supposed to save: he sheds his blood for many (Mk 14:24), or for you (Lk 22:20); gives up his life as ransom for many (Mk 10:45); comes into the world to seek and to save what was lost (Lk 19:10); saves his people from their sins, without knowing whether it refers to the Israelites or humankind (Mt 1:21); offers himself as the sacrificial Lamb of God (Jn 1:29), his flesh for the life of the world (Jn 6:51), and gives his life for the sheep (Jn 10:15), i.e., the Jewish people, his disciples, or others.
  3. The question of whether Jesus equates physical illness with sinfulness is provocative. Particularly in modern times, it has given way to Christian preachers blaming human sinfulness for natural and human disasters, which would seem a perversity on God’s part to victimize the innocent along with guilty, although God resorts to such punishment in the Old Testament. There are passages in the Old Testament that suggest a direct relationship between illness and sinfulness (Ez 18:18-20); and in John, Jesus’s disciples seemingly believe it too, when they ask him whether the blind man or his parents’ sins were responsible for his disability. In this instance, Jesus replies that the man’s blindness is providential, neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him (Jn 9:1-3). Other instances appear to lend support to the view that the opposite may be true. For example, in John’s Gospel, he cures a crippled man and later tells him, Look, you are well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may happen to you (Jn 5:14). Possibly, Jesus may be telling the man that sinning (doing evil) may lead to him being jailed or killed, as opposed to being victimized by God. In Luke, there is a telling passage in which Jesus is made aware of atrocities committed by Pontius Pilate. Jesus relates such calamities to sinfulness and warns the crowd (twice), But I tell you, if you do not repent,you will all perish as they did! (Lk 13:1-5). On the other hand, he tells the crowd that the great peril of sinning is not that it may bring about physical death. Instead, people ought to be afraid of the devil that has the power to send them into eternal condemnation; I tell you, be afraid of that one, he tells them (Lk 12:4-5).
  4. Forgiving also means having to overcome the contempt we feel toward relatives and friends to tolerate values we enormously abhor. I include myself in this category, often having to explain (to myself) the choices I face: either I tolerate alien values among those I love or to isolate myself from them. It is likely as agonizing to me as it is probably to them.
  5. An interesting article by psychiatrist Anna Fels cites historian Rick Atkinson illustrating how during WWII hatred was used by the Allies as the emotional engine needed to drive troops into battle for that “just war.” Allied officers were constantly fretting that the troops’ hate levels weren’t high enough. A memorandum urged commanders to “teach the men to hate the enemy — to want to kill them by any means.” George Patton’s aide praised him as “a great hate builder.” Dwight Eisenhower bragged, “I am not one who finds it difficult to hate my enemies.” Anna Fels, “The Point of Hate,” The New York Times, April 14, 2017. (accessed online 8 September 2018).
  6. “Mahatma Gandhi Forgiveness Quotes,” Success Story, (accessed online September 12, 2018).
  7. Alessandra Stanley, “Pope Asks Forgiveness for Errors of the Church Over 2,000 Years,” The New York Times, March 13, 2000.


Kingdom of God

Method note: The terms that were searched for this category included any specific word or phrases such as kingdom of God, heavenly kingdom, or kingdom (when referring to God’s kingdom), enter into, i.e., entering into eternal life, eternal life, and salvation (suggesting entrance into the kingdom), eternal dwellings, and life (in John’s Gospel when referencing salvation or entering into the kingdom). Parables referencing God’s kingdom, even when the term does not appear, are included. Indirect references, such as You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter (Mt 23:13) are also counted. Luke uses kingdom of God (32xt), far more than the others. Matthew is the only one who uses the term kingdom of heaven (32xt), in deference to devout Jewish audiences who avoided the name “God” (NEs’ note, Mt 3:2). John’s Gospel hardly uses the term kingdom (5xt). Instead, the text uses the terms life (18xt) and eternal life (17xt).

  1. There is no consensus of the exact dates of the various book s in the Bible. In this work, the approximate chronology of the books of the Bible is taken from NABRE’s introductions to “The Pentateuch,” “Genesis,” and “the Book of Wisdom.” See also Jonathan Petersen, “When was Each Book of the Bible Written?, February 1, 2016, (accessed March 1, 2019).

  1. Alexander the Great was given the title Lord of Asia following his victorious invasion of the Persian Empire (331BCE). The title emperor acquires significance following the creation of the Roman Empire in 27 BCE, and thus it was not known at the time. Also, the Seleucid Empire (312 BCE to 63 BCE) that had dominion over territories conquered by Alexander the Great is initially governed by a king. Franz Schühlein, “Seleucids,” CE, Vol. 13, (accessed February 17, 2019).

  1. In Exodus, the Lord suggests to Moses that he is establishing something resembling a kingdom on earth occupied by his people (the Israelites): You will be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites (Ex 19:6). In Isaiah, Hezekiah, one of Judah’s kings, intimates that God is the supreme ruler of the universe: You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth, and it is you who made the heavens and the earth (Is 37:16). In the Book of Wisdom (50 BCE), there is a verse that reads, They shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the LORDshall be their King forever (Wis 3:8); and another one, in which Wisdom, i.e., God, shows Jacob the kingdom of God and gave him knowledge of holy things (Wis 10:10). In the Books of Samuel (6-5 BCE), The LORD said: Listen to whatever the people say. You are not the one they are rejecting. They are rejecting me as their king (1 Sam 8:7). In the Book of Daniel (2 BCE), there are two references: a vision by the author revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon indicating that God will set a kingdom on earth that that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people (Dan 2:44), and someone calling himself the Son of Man reigning over a kingdom that will include all peoples (Dan 7:13-14). The Book of Wisdom is rejected by the Protestant King James Bible and it is not part of the Jewish canon. The Book of Daniel is accepted as part of the Hebrew Bible.
  2. This is the interpretation given by NEs note on Mt 11:11.
  3. Somehow, NEs see this outcome as indicating that despite initial opposition the coming of the kingdom will have enormous success. Note on Mat 13:3-8.
  4. Luke stresses there is an urgency to accept the present opportunity to enter because the narrow door will not remain open indefinitely. Ibid., note, Lk 13:22-30.
  5. Ibid., NEs point out that the passage suggests that the seed grows mysteriously and without human intervention. Note on Mk 4:26-29.
  6. Ibid., note on Mt 13:24-30.
  7. The harmful effects of not controlling weeds are probably not well-known except to farmers and governments. For quickly shortening the learning curve the reader may go to the following sites: “Effects of Weeds on Wheat,” Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Ministry,$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/crop1280 (accessed on February 26, 2019); Dwight D. Ligenfelter, “Introduction to Weeds: What are Weeds and Why do we Care?” Department of Agronomy, Penn State University. December 2009. (accessed on February 26, 2019); “Weeds in Australia – Impact of Weeds,” Australian Government. (accessed on February 26, 2019); H.R. Cates, “The Weed Problem in American Agriculture,” US Department of Agriculture. (accessed on February 26, 2019).


Jesus’s Mission

Method note: There are specific phrases in the texts that relate to Jesus’s mission. Passages denoting reasons, needs, or duties he is asked to fulfill, were selected for this category. As there are no specific words to be searched, the same number of passages (p) is assigned to xt. The formula for (sp) remains the same.

  1. Mark misattributes the prophecy. According to NEs, the attribution of the prophecy to Isaiah refers to a combination of Mal 3:1Is 40:3Ex 23:20. Note on Mark 1:2-3.
  2. Ibid., NEs’ note, John 1:11 suggests that the termwhat was his own indicates property or possession, probably referring to Israel, while his own people refer to the Israelites. NEs indicate that Jesus will create a new people of God. The words new people suggest that God is renewing his bonds with his children, the Israelites. Note, Mark 1:8-9.
  3. The Torah has little to say about the afterlife. Nonetheless, in Judaism the belief in afterlife is less a leap of faith than a logical outgrowth of other Jewish beliefs. If one believes in a God who is all-powerful and all-just, one cannot believe that this world, in which evil far too often triumphs, is the only arena in which human life exists. Telushkin, “Jewish Concepts: Afterlife,” reprinted in JVL, (accessed May 8, 2020).
  4. NEs interpret Mark’s opening sentence, The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God] to signify the “good news” of salvation in and through Jesus, crucified and risen, acknowledged by the Christian community as Messiah (Mk 8:2914:6162) and Son of God (Mk 1:119:715:39), note Mk 1:1. This definition of Jesus’s mission does not stem from the Old Testament in any clear fashion; it is at best a post-resurrection interpretation in which the term salvation implies a supernatural event. Moreover, the name Christ next to Jesus suggests a latter insertion after the initial manuscript is written. (See Chapter 3, Profile Database on Jesus, sub-section Christ – The Missing Title).
  5. NEs indicate that the idea of a suffering Messiah is not found in the Old Testament or in other Jewish literature prior to the New Testament period. Note, Luke 24:26. This annotation is significant because it casts doubt on the role of Jesus as Messiah as well as on the role of divine revelation.
  6. NEs’ note, Mark 10:38-40 suggests that in Jesus’ case this involves divine judgment on sin that Jesus the innocent one is to expiate on behalf of the guilty (Mk 14:24Is 53:5). His baptism is to be his crucifixion and death for the salvation of the human race; cf. Lk 12:50.
  7. Telushkin, “Jewish Concepts: The Messiah,” 1991, reprinted in the JVL by permission of the author, (accessed April 22, 2019).
  8. David Flusser, “Messiah,” in JVL, (accessed April 22, 2019).
  9. Gerald J. Blidstein, “Messiah,” in JVL, (accessed April 22, 2019.
  10. NEs awkwardly contend that Jesus’s sermon, according to Luke, not only inaugurates the time of fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy; Jesus’s ministry fulfills Old Testament hopes and expectations. Note, Luke 4:21.
  11. Telushkin, “The Messiah.” The most basic reason for the Jewish denial of the messianic claims made on Jesus’s behalf is that he did not usher in world peace, as Isaiah had prophesied: ”And nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). In addition, Jesus did not help bring about Jewish political sovereignty for the Jews or protection from their enemies.
  12. 12. Because of that heavy allegorizing, some scholars think that it does not in any way go back to Jesus, but represents the theology of the later church. That judgment applies to the Marcan parallel as well, although the allegorizing has gone farther in Matthew. There are others who believe that while many of the allegorical elements are due to church sources, they have been added to a basic parable spoken by Jesus. This view is now supported by the Gospel of Thomas 65, where a less allegorized and probably more primitive form of the parable is found. NEs’ note, Matthew 21:33-46.


Jesus’s Conflicting Personality

Method note: This category focuses on passages from the Gospels in which Jesus’s behavior and teachings differ from the apologetic view as explained in the text. Passages are equally tallied in xt and p columns while sp is tallied according to rules of space.

  1. The theological explanation deserves attention even though it does not seem to exculpate Jesus’s behavior. NEs’ note, Mk 11:12-14.
  2. According to the dictionary the definition of cursing includes, to execrate and imprecate, utter profanity, and blaspheme. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “cursing.”
  3. The activities going on in the temple area were not secular but connected with the temple worship. Thus Jesus’ attack on those so engaged and his charge that they were making God’s house of prayer a den of thieves constituted a claim to authority over the religious practices of Israel and were a challenge to the priestly authorities. NEs’ note, Mt 21:12-17.
  4. Jesus expects that his teachings would be a divisive element; perhaps remarkably similar to the political and cultural polarization being experienced today in many parts of the world, except that it is happening among Christians themselves, even within the same denomination.
  5. To unbelievers the kingdom is presented in parables to hide the truth. NEs’ note, Mk 4:11-12.
  6. The saying has been interpreted in ways that have nothing to do with Jesus. Robert K. Merton, “The Matthew Effect in Science,” reprinted from Science, January 5, 1968, Vol. 159, pp 56-63, (accessed April 29, 2020);

Alexander M. Petersen, Woo-Sung Jung, Woo-Sung; Jae-Suk Yang, Eugene H. Stanley, “Quantitative and empirical demonstration of the Matthew effect in a study of career longevity,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, January 4, 2011, vol. 108,1 (2011): 18-23. doi:10.1073/pnas.1016733108, (accessed April 29, 2020).

  1. NEs’ note, Mt 13:12.
  2. Ibid., note, Luke 13:23-30.
  3. Ibid., note, Matthew 10:14.
  4. Ibid., note, Lk 17:7-10. The passage seems to counter Jesus’s proclamation in Matthew 19:29: And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.
  5. Jews would use the terms dogs and swine to make insulting remarks about Gentiles. Ibid., note, Mt 7:6. Nonetheless, NEs question whether Jesus made these remarks. This attitude prevailed within the early Matthean Church, and even in Paul. Ibid., note Mt 18:17. This is still another issue that raises questions regarding the true nature of God’s revelation.
  6. A normal, polite form of address, but unattested in reference to one’s mother. Ibid., Jn 2:4.
  7. Apologists could not overlook this image without expressing ‘human certainty’ (not the same as Revelation, but merely a supposition that makes sense) that Christian tradition is confident that Jesus appeared first to his Mother after rising from the tomb, as a reward for Mary’s faith and suffering. Somehow, the author of this pious document attests that as Jesus bids farewell to his disciples, with them was the Mother of Jesus. J. A. Loarte, “Life of Mary (XVII): Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension,” Opus Dei, March 17, 2014, (accessed March 27, 2019).
  8. There are (at least) two passages related to the concept of eternal punishment succinctly: Isaiah 66:24 and Daniel 12:2.
  9. Interestingly, this passage may have been added much later into Luke’s text, since the phrase does not occur in the oldest papyrus manuscript of Luke and in other early Greek manuscripts and ancient versions of wide geographical distribution. NEs’ note, Luke 23:34.



Method note: The tally in this section includes words and phrases that stand for, allude to, or are more or less the Gospels’ equivalent of hell. They include wailing and grinding of teeth; condemnation (pertaining to eternal damnation); eternal fire; eternal punishment or eternal life; fire (pertaining to hell); fiery furnace; Gehenna; netherworld; outer darkness; save his life or forfeit his life or a variation of any of these terms that suggest eternal condemnation.

  1. In March 2018, a press release by an atheist friend of Pope Francis indicated that according to his recollection of an unrecorded chat in which no written notes were kept by either side, Pope Francis indicated he did not believe in the existence of hell. John L. Allen, “Ferment over pope’s supposed Hell bombshell mounts in Italy,” Crux, Apr 5, 2018, (accessed 8 April 2018). Days later, following media headlines that shook many around the world, the pope issued a document that, although it did not pertain to the question at heart, insisted that the devil does exist: we should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable. Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete Et Exsultate of the Holy Father Francis On The Call to Holiness in Today’s World, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, March 19, 2018, 161, (accessed 8 April 2018). The media reacted as if Francis had dealt with the initial question and gave the pontiff a pass. Nonetheless, a review of the document indicates that Francis did not refer specifically to the question of whether hell exists or not. The term evil appears 40xt; Devil shows up 15xt; but the term hell appears only 1xt, referring indirectly to the place where the eternally damned go. We may contrast Pope Francis’ usage of the term hell with that of Pope John Paul II. While briefly speaking to a General Audience in 1999, John Paul II’s talk totaled 888 words. He mentioned hell 8xt and damnation 5xt as specific terms.  (accessed 8 April 2018). Francis’s document, meanwhile, was 19,750 words long, and no references were made explicitly to the existence of hell. This in no way means that Francis does not believe in the existence of hell; only that he chose—consciously or subconsciously—not to deal with the subject.
  2. The tally according to each author: Mark: 12xt/4p/28sp: hell 0xt; Wailing and grinding of teeth 0xt; Condemnation (when related to eternal damnation) 2xt; fire (pertaining to hell) 2xt; Gehenna 3xt; save his life or forfeit his life 3xt.

Luke: 15xt/11p/112sp: hell 0xt, Wailing and grinding of teeth 1xt; Condemnation (when related to eternal damnation) 2xt; eternal punishment 1xt (punish); fire (pertaining to hell) 2xt; Gehenna 1xt, netherworld 2xt; save his life or forfeit his life 5xt; more tolerable for Sodom 1xt.

Matthew: 36xt/18p/266sp: hell 0xt, Wailing and grinding of teeth 6xt; Condemnation (when related to eternal damnation) 2xt; eternal fire or eternal punishment or fire (pertaining to hell) 5xt; fiery furnace 2xt, Gehenna 7xt, netherworld 2xt, outer darkness 3xt, save his life or forfeit his life 4xt.

John:  22xt/13p/60sp: hell 0xt; Condemnation (related to eternal damnation) 9xt; eternal life 12xt, fire (related to hell) 1xt.

  1. Executive Committee of the Editorial Board., George A. Barton, Kaufman Kohler, “Resurrection,” JE, (accessed May 15, 2020); Emil G. Hirsch, “Sheol,” JE, (accessed May 15, 2020); Kaufman Kohler, Ludwig Blau, “Gehenna,” JE,

(accessed May 15, 2020);

Solomon Schechter, Emil G. Hirsch, “Fire,” JE, (accessed May 15, 2020).

  1. The Book of Henoch (Ethiopic), 1907, CE, (accessed 10 February 2018). The date is subject to a great deal of speculation ranging from the second to first century BCE. It was highly regarded by the early Fathers; it is quoted in the Epistle of St Jude in the New Testament and is disregarded after the ninth century.
  2. James Tabor, “What the Bible says about Death, Afterlife, and the Future,” The Jewish Roman World of Jesus, (accessed December 14, 2013); Bart D. Ehrman, “What Jesus Really Said About Heaven and Hell,” Time, May 8, 2020, (accessed May 16, 2020).
  3. Kaufman Kohler, “Immortality of the Soul,” JE, (accessed May 16, 2020).
  4. Some mainstream Christian denominations believe that the soul separates from the body and continues to exist ‘alive’ upon death; others hold that the soul remains in deep slumber until Jesus’s Second Coming. Still, other denominations believe that body and soul remain together until the resurrection of the dead.
  5. The University of Oregon, “Belief in hell, according to international data, is associated with reduced crime,” Science Daily, June 19, 2012, (accessed May 17, 2020).
  6. A Catholic Cardinal in the United Kingdom rejects the image of the fiery furnace as having been simply the product of the Church’s iconography and not part of its official teaching. Affirming the existence of hell, the prelate indicates that it would be up to a person who by making a final, deliberate, irrevocable decision to reject any notion, any response, any willingness to be open to God, would separate himself/herself from God. “Cardinal says Church teaching doesn’t put any specific person in hell,” Crux, Mar 31, 2018. (accessed 8 April 2018).



Method note: Terms searched in this category were devil, Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebul, Baal, Legion, demon, tempter, the one, power of darkness, the evil one, unclean spirit, ruler of the world, or ‘possessed.’ The search includes pronouns and other direct references, such as quotes by the devil.

  1. 1.
  2. God forces the snake to move on its belly and henceforth will be considered the most cursed and repulsive of all creatures. Additionally, the passage suggests that humanity will mortally oppose it. NEs’ note, Gen 3:15: Christian tradition understood the passage as the first promise of a redeemer for fallen humankind, the protoevangelium. Nonetheless, in Christianity, the Fathers’ tradition does not carry the same weight as divine revelation. The enormous consequences of the snake’s act would have called for more than simple poetic symbolism so that it would be clearly understood by human beings. In the absence of more clarity, the Fathers’ tradition becomes an apologetic extrapolation.
  3. According to Christian belief, the unsettling of human moral faculties is a disease caused by Original Sin (CCC) 2515. Nonetheless, God’s punishment to Adam and Eve, as described in Genesis 3, does not indicate that humans will develop a propensity toward wickedness (only death, pain, and hard labor), even though wickedness begins to happen. A general description of this tenet shared by other Christian denominations is found in (CCC) 390-406.
  4. Joseph Jacobs, Ludwig Blau, “Satan,”, (accessed May 29, 2020).
  5. Job remains loyal to God despite the calamities that befall him because he is unaware that God is behind the plot with the satan. Also, it is surprising that Christians do not regard the idea that the satan can outwit God as being preposterous.
  6. Book of Enoch, trans. M. Knibb, Introduction and Notes by Andy McCracken, 15:8-16:1, (accessed 9 February 2018). In its Introduction, Presbyterian Pastor Andy McCracken points out, it is clear that this book was well known and studied in many countries well before the time of Jesus. The date is subject to a great deal of speculation ranging from the second to first century BCE. It was highly regarded by the early Fathers and it is quoted in the Epistle of St Jude in the New Testament and is disregarded after the ninth century. Also, The Book of Henoch (Ethiopic), 1907, CE, (accessed 10 February 2018).
  7. The Book of Jubilees, trans. by R. H. Charles, (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1917), Scanned and Edited by Joshua Williams, Northwest Nazarene College, (accessed 10 February 2018). Charles dates the book to the second century in his Introduction.
  8. In Matthew, the verse reads, and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one. Although exegetes have not been able to decipher the true meaning of the “final test,” to be subjected to temptation by God, has no reasonable spiritual or temporal objective.
  9. NEs’ note, Lk 13:16. Jesus’s claim that a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years by an evil spirit signifies that affliction and infirmity are taken as evidence of Satan’s hold on humanity.
  10. In John, Jesus indicates he has other sheepthat do not belong to this fold that he will lead until all come together into one flock under one shepherd (Jn 10:16). NEs’ note, Jn 10:16 speculate that it may refer to Gentiles, the dispersed children of God in Jn 11:52, or to “apostolic Christians” at odds with the community of the beloved disciple. However, a former Vatican chief astronomer has offered interesting remarks suggesting that intelligent life at peace with God—thus not requiring redemption–may exist in the universe, in which case Jesus may have been referring to other beings as the lost sheep in need of a pastor; “Vatican astronomer cites possibility of extraterrestrial ‘brothers’,” New York Times, May 14, 2008, (accessed 14 May 2018).
  11. NEs’ note, Lk 13:16: The healing ministry of Jesus reveals the gradual wresting from Satan of control over humanity and the establishment of God’s kingdom.
  12. NEs’ note, Lk 10:18, indicating that the dominion of Satan over humanity is at an end, seems inexplicable given the continued power of evil on earth.
  13. Julia Logan, LCPC, “The Psychological Power of Prayer,”, June 20, 2017, (accessed May 30, 2020). References to studies in this article are the following: on prayer providing the individual with the cognitive resources necessary to avoid temptation: Piercarlo Valdesolo, “Scientists Find One Source of Prayer’s Power,” Scientific American, December 24, 2013, (accessed May 30, 2020); on reducing anger: C. Munsey, “Prayer takes the edge off, a new study suggests,” American Psychological Association, June 2011, Vol 42, No. 6, (accessed May 30, 2020); on religious people being less prone to depression and anxiety. This study suggests that, given religious divisions in society, it might be possible to replace religion with secular communities built on a common moral foundation….although such societies will still need many of the components of religion, including a belief that we’re all part of the same moral community and, therefore, should make sacrifices that benefit the greater good: Beth Azar, “A reason to believe,” American Psychological Association, December 2010, Vol 41, No. 11, (accessed May 30, 2020).



Method note:  The words that were searched in this category include truth/true; falsehood and lie/liar as behavior he condemns; honesty, the way (when applicable), light as a synonym for truth, and darkness implying falsehood. Hypocrisy is included since it is a form of deception of truth.

  1. NEs’ note, Luke 12:2-9.
  2. Ibid., they suggest that comprehend may be another translation for overcome. Note on John 1:5.
  3. There seems to be some interest in the topic. Although not a reliable metric, despite forty-four percent of the world‘s population not having access to the internet, and presuming that interest in the topic is found among people above 15 years of age (about 4.6 billion in the world), in 2019 there were over one billion searches in Google related to truth and nearly one billion searches related to the question “What is truth?” “Current World Population,” Worldometers, (accessed June 8, 2019); “Internet Users in the World,” Internet World Stats, (accessed June 8, 2019); “Population ages 15-64, male (% of total),” The World Bank, (accessed June 8, 2019); Google search, “Truth,” and “What is Truth?”
  4. Dallas Willard, “Truth in Trouble,” The Veritas Forum, December 7, 2003,

(accessed June 8, 2019).

  1. Michael Glanzberg, “Truth,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,(Fall 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), (accessed May 31, 2020).


The Heart

Method note: Tally of this category was based on searching the word heart in the Gospels.

  1. There are slight variations in the numbers according to Bibles translated into English, Spanish, French, or Italian. These differences occur when the term compassion or similar words are used instead of heart, or when the translators choose to add the term heart. Nonetheless, neither the differences in number nor in the usage of the term alter the overall results or its explanation. The following compares several translations in terms of the number of times the word heart appears: in NEs, Mk 14xt, Lk 20xt, Mt 18xt, Jn 6xt; in 21st Century KJV, Mk 15xt, Lk 22xt, Mt 17xt, Jn 6xt; in the American Standard Version, Mk 13xt, Lk 21xt, Mt 16xt, Jn 6xt; in the Evangelical Heritage Version, Mk 13xt, Lk 21xt, Mt 16xt, Jn 6xt; in the New Living Translation, Mk 12xt, Lk 15xt, Mt 17xt, Jn 9xt. “Topical Index,”, (accessed July 26, 2019).

  1. Donna Christiano, “Can You Live Without a Liver?” (reviewed by Saurabh Sethi, MD, MPH),, November 30, 2018. (accessed on July 23, 2019).
  2. Stacy Sampson, DO, “What do the lungs do, and how do they function?”, June 27, 2018, (accessed July 23, 2019). Although it is feasible to live with only one lung, it is not (yet) possible to survive beyond days without both lungs. John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP, “Can You Live Without Both of Your Lungs,”,; (accessed July 23, 2019).

  1. Tim Verstynen Ph.D., “Do We Really Need a Brain,”, March 26, 2013, (accessed July 23, 2019); Joe Schwarcz, Ph.D., “Can You Live Without a Brain?” McGill Office for Science and Society, March 20, 2017, (accessed July 23, 2017).

  1. Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, RN, CNE, COI, “The Heart: All You Need to Know,”, January 10, 2018, (accessed July 23, 2019).
  2. Aristotle, On the Parts of Animals, trans William Ogle, Classics Archive, Book II, Part 10, Book III, Parts 3 & 4, (accessed July 28, 2019); Aristotle, De anima, Book I, Part 5, Book II, Part 4, Book III, Parts 3, 8 trans J.A. Smith, Classics Archive, (accessed July 28, 2019).
  3. Among some students of this matter, intentions are the by-product of the brain: Rick Hanson, Ph.D., “Wholesome Intentions,” 2007, (accessed July 30, 2019); others seem to be less certain: John J. Medina, Ph.D., “The Neurobiology of Conscious Intent,” Psychiatric Times, February 10, 2011, (accessed July 30, 2019).
  4. HeartMath Institute, “Science of the Heart: Vol 1 (1993-2001) Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance,” (accessed August 1, 2019). This institution claims that the heart is capable of thinking: Our research and that of others indicate that the heart is far more than a simple pump. The heart is, in fact, a highly complex, self-organized information-processing center with its own functional “brain” that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system, and other pathways. Whether these conclusions would hold following strict scientific peer-reviewed evaluations remains to be seen. The method appears to be based on some type of biofeedback that may or may not work depending on the individual’s diligence. This is different from the conclusion that the heart can think.
  5. Rachael Rettner, “Heartbeats Hint at Personality Traits,” Live Science, March 8, 2012, (accessed July 27, 2019); another study suggests that our personalities develop around basic needs along with accumulated experiences … and is not simply about traits we’re born with.; American Psychological Association, “Personality: Where does it come from and how does it work?” Science Daily,  (accessed July 28, 2019); two studies suggests that the individual’s personality originates in the frontoparietal network in the brain that generates its unique matrix similar to having unique sets of fingerprints. Susan Scutti, “Where Does Personality Reside In The Brain? The Frontoparietal Network Makes You Who You Are,” Medical Daily, April 18, 2016., (accessed August 1, 2019).

  1. Emily Mullin, “A Simple Artificial Heart Could Permanently Replace a Failing Human One,” MIT Technology Review, March 16, 2018. (accessed July 23, 2019).



Method note: This section identifies and includes every specific miracle attributed to Jesus in the Gospels as symbols of his power. Their totals appear in Table 2. Words searched include the following: power, might, authority, command, follow, order, rule(r), drive out, speak languages, pick up serpents, drink deadly drinks, heal, sign, wealth/riches. The word signs (48xt) is unique in John’s text; it stands for mighty deeds or miracles done by Jesus, while in the synoptics, in most instances, the word does not indicate deeds but signals of things to come, e.g., wars, earthquakes, stars falling from the sky, etc., and few instances in which the Pharisees ask Jesus to do a miraculous deed to legitimize his claim. Other passages suggesting any of these words are identified, counted as a single xt, and added to the totals. Each passage describing a miracle, no matter its length, is tallied as 1xt and is equivalent to 1p as well. The category ranks high, mostly because of space (sp) allocated to the many miracles narrated in the texts.

  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “miracle.”
  2. The term “supernatural” is most commonly used to characterize a miracle. This use presupposes at least two realms of existence, the natural or physical, and the supernatural. At least one modern philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, rejected the traditional interpretation of miracles as described in the Gospels, mainly because for him there is no realm other than the natural; everything, including God, exists in this realm. Writing in his own convoluted style, Spinoza would argue that Jesus’s miracles and those that appear in the Old Testament may have taken place within the confines of nature, except that knowledge of how they took place continues to elude human reason and scientific inquiry. For Christians, the tendency is to believe in miracles, and for non-Christians to be skeptical or to reject them as mere superstition. Baruch Spinoza, A Theological-Political Treatise, Part 2, Chapter VI, “Of Miracles.” The Project Gutenberg EBook, (accessed January 18, 2019).
  3. (Mk 3:7, 5:24, 11:9, Lk 5:15, 7:9, 9:11, 11:8-10, 18:42, 19:37 Mt 4:25, 8:1, 12:15, 14:13, 19:2, 20:29, 34, 21:9, Jn 6:2).
  4. Inside a synagogue in Nazareth he claims that he has the Spirit of the Lord upon him and will seek the liberty of captives and the oppressed to go free (Lk 4:16-21). For unknown reasons, he abstains from attaining what are perhaps the most political or revolutionary aspects of his agenda, except perhaps in the spiritual sense. Furthermore,, he claims that Satan will be driven out (of the world?) through his resurrection (Jn 12:31-32) and will no longer have power over him (Jn 14:30). These claims are difficult to interpret given the continued existence of evil in the world.
  5. The lament on Jerusalem appears only in Luke. NEs’ note, Lk 19:41-44.
  6. The view that the drive for power as means to attain specific ends (and as an end in itself) is inherent in human nature, and is crucial in understanding the world of politics, is generally attributed to Niccolò Machiavelli. His views appear in the concise but well-known treatise, The Prince, and in a more elaborate work, The Discourses of Levy, both published posthumously in 1532 and 1531 respectively.
  7. Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1973), Fifth Edition, p. 4, p. 29. As a pioneer in this area, initially he had written Scientific Man versus Power Politics, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946).
  8. NEs’ note, Lk 10:18. In another note, Lk 13:16, NEs once again suggest that affliction and infirmity are taken as evidence of Satan’s hold on humanity. The healing ministry of Jesus reveals the gradual wresting from Satan of control over humanity and the establishment of God’s kingdom. A similar passage appears in John where Jesus is quoted as saying, Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this worldwill be driven out (Jn 12:31). What exactly are the temporal (historical) implications of this viewpoint is not clear.
  9. – Nathanael believes once Jesus foretells his character (Jn 1:45-49);

– John insists that the disciples begin to believe following his first miracle at Cana (Jn 2:11);

– In Jerusalem, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing (Jn 2:23);

– Nicodemus acknowledges that Jesus must come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him (Jn 3:1-2);

– Jesus himself realizes that people will not believe unless they see signs (Jn 4:48);

Although a royal official who asks Jesus to save his child initially accepts without proof that the child will live, he and his whole household came to believe after they saw it with their own eyes (Jn 4:53);

– The crowds also follow him because they see signs he is performing on the sick (Jn 6:12, 10:41-42);

– Toward the end of the text, John acknowledges that although Jesus did many other signs the ones recorded in the text have a single purpose: that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name (Jn 20:30-31).

  1. NEs’ note, Jn 6:14.
  2. Isaiah’s prophecy occurs in Matthew and John, however, within different contexts and/or motives. Although NEs provide examples in John to indicate that there is no negation of freedom in the fulfillment of the prophecy (Jn 3:20, 12:42), the wording itself suggests the opposite.
  3. Estimate is based on a 2015 study. Conrad Hackett, David McClendon, “Christians remain world’s largest religious group, but they are declining in Europe,” Pew Research Center, (accessed March 24, 2020).


On Justice and Divine Retribution

Method note: Searching for Jesus’s conception of justice requires combing through the texts for words or instances that denote justice or injustice such as, judge/judgment, righteous, sin/sinner, reward, punishment, save/salvation, or condemn. The texts are replete with these words, particularly sin, salvation, and condemnation. Adding all these terms to the justice category would result in a disproportionate count that would meaninglessly affect its ranking. Instead, I opted to focus primarily on passages that reflect the above terms, counting each passage as (1xt), as I have done with other categories. Although this approach reduces the number of xt, it still indicates how prominent Jesus’s conception of justice is in the Gospels, as it ranks quite high among all categories.

  1. Dictionaries do not offer much assistance. Cambridge Dictionary defines justice as fairness in the way people are dealt with. But fairness is a subjective term that responds to a specific set of values, beliefs, and norms that may vary from one society to another. Merriam-Webster defines it as the impartial administration of what is just; except that what is just, again may depend upon a society’s sets of values, beliefs, and norms. Oxford Dictionary defines it as the quality of being fair and reasonable, and as the process of administering law and authority. Cambridge Dictionary, online; Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, online, s.v. “justice.”
  2., “justice,” in NABRA Bible.
  3. NEs’ preface to The Prophetic Books: They focus on public morality, the treatment of the poor and disadvantaged, and the abuse of power, especially of the judicial system. They pass judgment in the strongest terms on the moral conduct of rulers and the ruling class, in the belief that a society that does not practice justice and righteousness will not survive.
  4. Mark J. Perry, “New US homes today are 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973 and living space per person has nearly doubled,” Carpe Diem Blog, June 5, 2016. (accessed March 12, 2019). Emphasis mine.
  5. The term little ones does not necessarily refer to children; it may also refer to good, trusting people that are enticed by others (or by social structures and institutions) to commit all sorts of crimes. See NEs’ note, Mt 18:6. Also refer to Jesus’s list of sins in the Sinfulness category, most of which deal with social injustice.
  6. Ibid., note, Mt 13:24-30.
  7. In Mark 11:12-14 and Matthew 21:19-20 Jesus does not appear to be kind; instead, he curses the fig tree.
  8. NEs’ note, Mk 10:15.
  9. Lumen Gentium, Chapter 1, 16.


Poverty and Wealth

Method note: The objective in this category is to find out how much the Gospels refer to the matter of poverty and wealth and what they say about it. The words poor/poverty, hungry/hunger, suffering, persecution, oppression, wealth/riches, ailment, and others denoting characteristics inherent to this category appear numerous times in the Gospels. Nonetheless, other passages relate to wealth and poverty that are difficult to dissect. The choice was to count each passage as 1xt, hence the numbers of xt correspond to the numbers of p. This method will diminish xt, however, it will be offset by increased sp. The tally includes passages involving miracles that Jesus does on behalf of the poor. Table 2 also shows an assessment of the way Jesus (or the texts) refers to these two concepts; passages including poverty and wealth were evaluated and quantified as being positive or negative. In most instances, positive remarks concerned the poor but also included moneyed tax collectors who have repented, and at least two possibly affluent members of the Sanhedrin, e.g. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who befriended Jesus.

  1. For some reason, in Mark and Matthew the commandment is broken into two commandments: The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. Matthew’s version is similar, including the ending:The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments (Mk 12:28-31, Mt 22:35-40). In Luke, Jesus presents one commandment made up of two parts: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Lk 10:25-28).
  2. God considered Job a righteous man, and God allowed him to be quite wealthy by Old Testament standards: he had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yokes of oxen, five hundred she-donkeys, and a very large household so that he was greater than anyone in the East (Job 1:3, 2:3); Psalm 128:2 suggests that those who fear the Lord will prosper and will enjoy the fruit of their labor; Isaiah 3:10 seems to predict that good fortune awaits the just. Incidentally, neither passage has proven to be historically correct.
  3. Christopher J. H. Wright, “The Righteous Rich’ In The Old Testament,” The Other Journal – An Intersection of Theology and Culture, The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, August 5, 2010, (accessed January 10, 2019).

  1. It is accepted, that at least four of the apostles, Peter, Andrew, James, and John (sons of Zebedee) were fishermen, the latter two seemingly better off economically than Peter and Andrew, given that their fishing enterprise included hired men. The odd figure among the twelve is Matthew, also known as Levi, who happens to be a tax collector, a profession the Pharisees (and Jesus) considered sinful. Jewish people despised tax collectors for their unjust demands for taxes and their deceptive practices of keeping a portion of the revenue. About tax collectors or publicans, see James F. Driscoll, “Publican,” CE. Vol. 12, (accessed January 10, 2019). Biographical data (what little there is) for each apostle also appears in CE. Also, modern scholarship cannot produce much reliable information beyond plausible conjectures.
  2. A Jew and Roman citizen (in itself a temporal honor), Paul had a trade as a tentmaker and attended the school of Gamaliel, a member of the Sanhedrin and a doctor of Jewish Law. Ferdinand Prat, “St Paul,” CE, (accessed January 10, 2019).
  3. A few Catholic bishops in Europe, Latin America, and the United States reside in stately homes typical of well to do families; some lead a lavish lifestyle. Of the thirty-four active Catholic archbishops in the United States, in 2018 ten lived in houses worth over $1 million. Most Catholic and Protestant clergypersons in developed countries earn anywhere between $35,000 and $45,000 per annum. The median salary for Catholic priests in the United States is between $21,000 and $26,095; for Protestant pastors, it is $31,234 (in 2012-2014). Megachurch pastors are in a different category earning over $100,000 per year and some have a net worth in the millions of dollars. Daniel Burke, “The lavish homes of American archbishops,” CNN,

(accessed January 11, 2019); “Pastor Salaries in the United States,” (accessed January 11, 2019); Brian Palmer, “What Type of Clergy Get the Highest Salaries?” Slate, January 12, 2012. (accessed January 11, 2019); “Fast Facts about American Religion,” Hartford Institute for Religious Research, (accessed January 11, 2019); Karen Bennet, “The Shocking Net Worth of These 10 Richest Pastors Will Blow Your Mind,”, June 4, 2018. (accessed January 11, 2019). Nuns, although not considered part of the clergy, devote their time to the Church, and may earn much less since, not only do they take a vow of poverty, but usually they also turn their earnings over to their religious orders. Mary Nestor-Harper, “Catholic Nun Salary,” Career Trend, September 16, 2017, (accessed April 6, 2020).

  1. Says Nietzsche: This Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate gospel of love, this “Redeemer” bringing salvation and victory to the poor, the sick, the sinful—was he not really temptation in its most sinister and irresistible form, temptation to take the tortuous path to those very Jewishvalues and those very Jewish ideals? Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, trans. by Horace B. Samuels, M.A., (Edinburgh and London: T.N. Foulis, 1913), Project Gutenberg. (accessed January 12, 2019).

In The Antichrist, he continues with his argument: What is good?—Whatever augments the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself, in man. What is evil?—Whatever springs from weakness. What is happiness?—The feeling that power increases—that resistance is overcome…. What is more harmful than any vice?—Practical sympathy for the botched and the weak—Christianity…. (p. 43). Christianity has taken the part of all the weak, the low, the botched; it has made an ideal out of antagonism to all the self-preservative instincts of sound life; it has corrupted even the faculties of those natures that are intellectually most vigorous, by representing the highest intellectual values as sinful, as misleading, as full of temptation. (p. 45). The Antichrist, trans. by H.L. Mencken, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1918), Project Gutenberg. (accessed January 12, 2019). Favoring pagan values, Nietzsche accused Jesus (correctly in my view) and the Jews of transvaluation, i.e., turning Nietzsche’s superman’s values upside down. Such a transvaluation must not have lasted long in modern times, as it may be observed today in social culture, economics, politics, and human relations in general.

  1. Helaine Olen, “Why Don’t America’s Rich Give More to Charity?” The Atlantic, December 16, 2017, (accessed January 14, 2019). In this article, Olen adds that, according to The Philanthropy Roundtable (an organization of philanthropic groups), proportionately, people with fewer earnings would donate more money to charity than wealthier people. She adds: A survey by The Chronicle of Philanthropy releasedin 2014 reached a similar finding: Those earning $200,000 or more per year reduced their giving during the Great Recession and its aftermath by 4.6 percent, while those bringing home less than $100,000 upped their donations by very nearly as much—4.5 percent, to be specific. In fairness, even people within the $50-$100,000 bracket are not poor by world standards; just less wealthy.

Nonetheless, another study in 2010 by Paul K. Piff and Michael W. Kraus provided an even more significant conclusion: lower-income people were not only more generous, charitable, trusting, and helpful to others than were those with more wealth, but that their empathy and compassion diminished as they become wealthier. The study added that wealthy people could be “educated” to become more compassionate: if they were instructed to imagine themselves as a lower classIf they were primed by, say, watching a sympathy-eliciting video, they became more helpful to others — so much so, in fact, that the difference between their behavior and that of the low-income subjects disappeared. Judith Warner, “The Charitable-Giving Divide,” The New York Times Magazine, August 20, 2010, (accessed January 14, 2019).

Still, another article surveying various studies point out their conclusions as follows:

– The rich tend to be more self-centered: they rationalize their advantage, and believe that they deserved it. They pursue their self-interest and moralize greed easily.

– The poor are more characterized by their empathy: Poorer people are more likely to notice, engage with, pay attention to and empathize with other humans, compared to the rich.

– The rich seem to view the external environment quite differently: they are not very good at reading emotions of the others and lack empathy and compassion. This deficit stems primarily from their lack of dependence on others. 

– The rich appear to possess a sense of entitlement: A study of the attitude of car owners showed that more expensive

cars were more likely to block and cross other cars, and less likely to yield to pedestrians who had the right of way. The rich paid lower taxes and were more prone to evade taxes and hide their wealth; the rich were more likely to adopt questionable accounting and business practices and sidestep ethical practices; and the rich were more likely to use their powers to perpetuate illegal and unlawful activities. Uma Shashikant, “Why poor people tend to be more generous than the rich,” Economic Times, July 23, 2018, (accessed January 14, 2019).

  1. Deborah Hardoon, “An economy for the 99%,” Oxfam International, January 16, 2017, (accessed January 14, 2019).

  1. Andrew Soergel, “An Antidote to Extreme Poverty: Generous Billionaires,” U.S. News and World Report, January 22, 2016,

(accessed January 14, 2019).

  1. NEs’ note, Mark 10:23-27.
  2. There are various interpretations to the meaning of the term “eye of a needle” whose discussion might be of little help in understanding Jesus. All interpretations point toward something very difficult to attain, in this case, salvation for those who are greedy and selfish. The passage that follows (in Mark 10:23), however, appears to be unintelligible in and of itself, and as a segue to the previous one: Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. It is not clear what those who practice self-denial will receive now in this present age, other than eternal life. In Matthew 19:30 the passage reads more clearly. Both passages are in line with Mary’s praise of God stemming from Old Testament temporal promises that God makes: He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. (Luke 1:52).
  3. NEs’ note, Mt 21:12-17.
  4. Karl Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848, trans. by Samuel Moore and Frederick Engels in 1888. Chapter 1. (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1969), (accessed January 27, 2019).
  5. Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847, trans. from the French by the Institute of Marxism Leninism, 1955, Chapter 2, Part 5, (accessed January 27, 2019).
  6. “Ancient Jewish History: The Great Revolt (66-70 CE),” JVL, (accessed March 22, 2020). Josephus does not relate the movement to Jewish Christian, Book XVIII, Chapter 1.
  7. Since the inception of Catholic social doctrine by Pope Leon XIII in his encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891, other popes have followed with teachings reinforcing and advancing Jesus’s preference for the poor by Jesus. Notable among these are, Pope Paul VI’s Populorum Progressio in 1967 with his emphasis on justice as the road to peace; in Pope John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens in 1981 and Centesimus Annum in 1991, he uses terminology that may be interpreted as having been taken from Marx’s works.


Mary and Pilate

Method note: Searched words for the Mary category included Mary, mother, and wife when referencing Jesus’s mother, virgin as well as pronouns referring to her. Searched words for the Pontius Pilate category included his name and governor in addition to pronouns referring to him.

  1. Although Catholic devotion to Mary has a long history, recent popes have stressed Mary’s role in the redemptive process. Pope John Paul II’s motto totus tuus (completely yours) is reflected in his 1997 encyclical “Redemptoris Mater,” . For the role of Mary in Orthodox Christianity see Archbishop Dmitri (Royster), “The Veneration of the Virgin Mary in the Orthodox Church, January 2, 2013, Orthodox Christianity, taken from The Dawn, Newspaper of the Diocese of the South Orthodox Church in America,, (accessed 22 January 2018).
  2. They believed Christians should pray to the God revealed in Jesus Christ. Mary was a historical person upon whom God’s favor shined, and she should be admired and perhaps imitated. But anything more is a serious problem. Kevin P. Considine, “What do Protestants Think of Mary,” U.S. Catholic, May 2016, (Vol. 81, No. 5, 49),  (accessed 22 January 2018).

Protestants and Catholics are half right and half wrong in their views, I think. Protestants deny a considerate and proper veneration of Mary while the Catholic Church continues to allow a religious frenzy over Mary’s supposed mysterious apparitions—over thirty throughout history–because it creates religious piety it deems healthy. Perhaps, it is Jesus who ought to be blamed; one wonders why is it not Jesus the one who appears, and why does he not do it publicly?

  1. Jayson Byassee, “What About Mary?” The Christian Century, December 14, 2004, (accessed July 27, 2020). This article also provides the Protestant perspective, including changes undergoing in the veneration of Mary.

  1. Quote by Pope Francis in John Allen’s, “Pope on New Year’s: If you want peace, start with Mary and the crib,” Crux, January 2018, (accessed 22 January 2018). A new feast declaring Mary as the “Mother of the Church” was instituted by Pope Francis in March 2018. It will be celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost. John Allen, “Pope Francis establishes new feast of Mary as ‘Mother of the Church,’” Crux, March 3, 2018, (accessed 3 March 2018).
  2. Scot McKnight, “The Mary We Never Knew – Why the mother of Jesus was more revolutionary than we’ve been led to believe,” Christianity Today, November 2006. Article is adapted fromThe Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus, (Brewster: Paraclete, 2006),  (accessed 22 January 2018). NEs, however, note that Mary was not the author of the Magnificat, citing that it may have been a Jewish Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story. The editors add that the loose connection between the hymn and the context is further seen in the fact that a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker. NEs’ note, Luke, 1:46-55. See also, Tim Perry, Mary for Evangelicals: Toward an Understanding of the Mother of our Lord, (Westmont: InterVarsity, 2006).

  1. A synthesis of the council’s proclamation is well detailed in Pope John Paul II’s talk published in L’Osservatore Romano, December 1996, (accessed 22 January 2018).
  2. NEs justify Jesus’s behavior and his reply to his mother, indicating that obedience to God is far more important than family ties. NEs’ note, Lk 2:49. While perhaps true, humanly speaking Jesus’s action suggests an uncharacteristic youthful insensitivity toward his mother.
  3. According to NEs’ note, Jn 2:4, the term woman is a normal, polite form of address, but unattested in reference to one’s mother. As for the phrase how does your concern affect me, NEs indicate that taken literally, it constitutes a Hebrew expression of either hostility or denial of common interest, found in passages in the Old Testament (Jgs 11:12; 2 Chr 35:21; 1 Kgs 17:18 Hos 14:9; 2 Kgs 3:13), and used by demons to Jesus (Mk 1:24; 5:7)
  4. CCC, 922, 1618, 1619.
  5. For an ample view of the struggle within Evangelicalism over the issue of virginity see: Abigail Rine, “Why Some Evangelicals Are Trying to Stop Obsessing Over Pre-Marital Sex,” The Atlantic,  23 May 2013, (accessed 23 January 2018); Sara J. Moslener, “Evangelicals’ obsession with “sexual purity” has nothing to do with sex,” Salon, 8 July 2015,, (article originally appeared on Religion Dispatches)  (accessed 23 January 2018); Brandi Miller, “The Evangelical Social Construction of Virginity,”  The Salt Collective,  (accessed 23 January 2018).

  1. “In Europe, Debate Over Islam and Virginity,” The New York Times, June 11, 2008,  (accessed 23 January 2018).

  1. Harriet Marsden and Narjas Zatat, “These are the most adulterous countries in the world,” Indy 100, (accessed 23 January 2018). Also, Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D., “Is Everything We Think We Know About Adultery Wrong. Psychology Today, Jul 17, 2013, (accessed 23 January 2018).
  2. Such is the astonishing admission by NABRE Editors that leads to anti-Semitism, and which runs contrary to the popular opinion of the Christian world. NEs’ note, Mt 27;18. In their note on Lk 23:1-5, they state that twice Jesus is brought before Pilate in Luke’s account, and each time Pilate explicitly declares Jesus innocent of any wrongdoing (Lk 23:4, 14, 22). This stress on the innocence of Jesus before the Roman authorities is also characteristic of John’s gospel (Jn 18:38; 19:4, 6). Luke presents the Jerusalem Jewish leaders as the ones who force the hand of the Roman authorities (Lk 23:12, 5, 10, 13, 18, 21, 2325).



Method note: Words searched included joy, rejoice, happiness, cheerfulness, laughter, pleasure, pleasing, satisfaction, and blessed; and, passages that convey a sense of joy or happiness or provide a feeling of hope and of inner peace, both of which are manifestations of joy. The words happiness, bliss, cheerfulness and similar terms do not appear in the texts. Instead, joy, rejoice, blessed, pleased, satisfied, peace, gladness, and laughter do, although the terms have both a positive and negative connotation at times.

  1. Dr. Cheryl A. MacDonald, “Is there a Relationship between Happiness and Joy?” Health Psychology Center,; “What is the difference between joy and happiness?,”,;

Todd Phillips, “Happiness vs Joy | Why You Should Stop Trying to Be Happy,”, February 27, 2017, (accessed May 29, 2019); David Brooks, “The Difference Between Happiness and Joy,” New York Times, May 7, 2019,;

Rev. Dr. Christopher Benek, “God can be found in difference between happiness and joy,” The Island Packet, October 7, 2014, (accessed May 29, 2019); Sandra L. Brown M.A., “Joy-vs- Happiness,” Psychology Today, December 18, 2012,;

Lawrence Samuel Ph.D., “Happiness Versus Joy,” Psychology Today, October 2, 2018,

(all accessed May 29, 2019).

  1. “What is happiness,” Psychology Today, (accessed May 29, 2019).
  2. Gary Zimak, “The Secret to Happiness,” Catholic Digest, September 12, 2017, (accessed May 30, 2019).

  1. Catholic theologian Charles Camosy cites his colleague Bill Mattison suggesting that both St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas understood that happiness lies in the love of God and love of neighbor: Charles Camosy, “What is Happiness,” Catholic Moral Theology, March 27, 2011, (accessed May 30, 2019). Michael Maher, “Happiness,” CE, Vol. 7, (accessed May 30, 2019). Its entry on Joy consists of citing Thomas Aquinas’s disputation: Thomas Aquinas, “Joy,” Question 28, Article 1, Summa Theologica, in CE, (accessed May 30, 2019).
  2. Courtney Ackerman, “What is Happiness and Why is it Important,” Positive Psychology Program, February 16, 2019. (accessed May 29, 2019).
  3. The Handbook of Positive Psychology states: the field of positive psychology at the subjective level is about positive subjective experience: well-being and satisfaction (past); flow, joy, the sensual pleasures, and happiness (present); and constructive cognitions about the future—optimism, hope, and faith. Martin E. P. Seligman, “Positive Psychology, Positive Prevention, and Positive Therapy,” p. 3, (accessed May 30, 2019); see also, Barbara L. Fredrickson, “The Value of Positive Emotions: The emerging science of positive psychology is coming to understand why it’s good to feel good,” American Scientist, Vol 91, No. 4 (July-August 2003), pp 330-335, (accessed May 30, 2019).

  1. Cambridge Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, online, s.v. “joy.”
  2. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “joy.”
  3. Maher, “Happiness.”
  4. “Word Frequency Data,” Corpus of Contemporary American English, (accessed May 30, 2019).

  1. “Happiness,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (accessed May 30, 2019); “Joy,” Ibid, (accessed May 30, 2019).
  3. Quite often there is joy among people in loving and forgiving one’s enemies, and in being merciful and compassionate toward people we dislike. Nonetheless, these terms are not included because they would unnecessarily dilute the category. Miracles, however, are included because they generate hope and faith among believers.


Holy Spirit

Method note: Tallying this category was based on searching the terms Spirit, holy Spirit, and Advocate. In Table 2, xt represents the number of times these words appear in the texts.

  1. Although not being privy to this mystery, the concept of the Trinity is not difficult to imagine if we were to light up three matches and join them together to form one flame. Nonetheless, other Christian denominations do not believe in the Trinity, among them Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church), Christian Scientists, and other Unitarian churches. Furthermore,, some mainstream Protestant denominations, while accepting the Trinity, differ from Catholic beliefs regarding its precise meaning.
  2. It is difficult to tell if citations in the Old Testament refer to an individual entity with personal characteristics or to God’s spirit (as in something that is an integral part of God: a) Or who can know your counsel, unless you give Wisdom and send your holy spirit from on high? (Wisdom 9:17); b)But they rebelled and grieved his holy spirit (Isaiah 63:10); c) Do not drive me from before your face, nor take from me your holy spirit (Psalm 51:13); d) Could we find another like him,” Pharaoh asked his servants, “a man so endowed with the spirit of God? (Genesis 41:38); e) When Balaam looked up and saw Israel encamped, tribe by tribe, the spirit of God came upon him (Numbers 24:2); f) As he listened to this report, the spirit of God rushed upon him and he became very angry (1 Samuel 11:6); g) Then the spirit of God clothed Zechariah, son of Jehoiada the priest (2 Chronicles 24:20). In the above examples only (a) appears to refer to a separate entity.
  3. An entry in the indicates that, although distinct from God, the Holy Spirit is created by God, thus different than Jesus’s holy Spirit: although the Holy Spirit is often named instead of God (e.g., in Sifre, Deut. 31 [ed. Friedmann, p. 72]), yet it was conceived as being something distinct. The Spirit was among the ten things that were created on the first day (Ḥag. 12a, b). Though the nature of the Holy Spirit is really nowhere described, the name indicates that it was conceived as a kind of wind that became manifest through noise and light. Joseph Jacobs, Ludwig Blau, “Holy Spirit,” The Jewish, (accessed September 25, 2019).
  5. NEs’ note, Matthew 22:41-46 and 42-44.
  6. Ibid., note, Matthew 12:31.
  7. Pope John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem – On the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Churchand the World,” St. Peter’s, Rome, May 18, 1986, (accessed September 26, 2019). The explanation, however, would seem to apply to any sin in which the sinner does not wish to repent, which in principle could be forgiven if God is prepared to override the sinner’s sentiment for reasons he alone would know.

  1. NEs’ note, John 3:1-21.
  2. Ibid., note, John 16:8-11.



Method note: Tallying was conducted by searching the terms baptism/baptize, born of water, or other passages denoting the practice and effects of baptism.

  1. In 1439 Pope Eugene IV declared in Exsultate Deo at the Council of Florence that, Holy Baptism holds the first place among the sacraments, because it is the door of the spiritual life; for by it we are made members of Christ and incorporated with the Church. And since through the first man death entered into all, unless we be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, we cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven, as Truth Himself has told us. William Fanning, “Baptism,” CE, Vol. 2, (accessed on October 22, 2019). Writing in his Small Catechism in 1529 Martin Luther shows similar views: Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word… It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare… It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. In The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Lutheran Church,, (accessed October 22, 2019).
  2. Some fundamentalist denominations tend to reject the necessity of baptism indicating that to insist on its necessity suggests that Jesus’ death on the cross was not sufficient to purchase our salvation. “Is baptism necessary for salvation?” GotQuestions.Org.,, (accessed January 20, 2018). The views of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, a conservative Christian ministry with Calvinist tendencies, are similar, although they go further in declaring that neither water nor a ceremony is necessary for salvation since we are justified by faith; Matt Slick, “Is baptism necessary for salvation?” CARM, Nov 22, 2008,, (accessed January 20, 2018). Some internet entities have conducted their own research on the practices of baptism, and they tend to conform to one another, with some exceptions: “Compare Religions: Baptism,”, (accessed October 24, 2019); Beverly Beyer, “Which Religions Practice Baptism? Which Do Not?,” (updated July 29, 2019),, (accessed October 24, 2019). Regarding the statement that baptizing children violates human rights and amounts to creating infant conscripts (a most inane statement in my personal view) by a former Catholic President of Ireland, see Charles Collins, “Ex-president of Ireland says baptism creates “infant conscripts,”” Crux, June 23, 2018, (accessed June 30, 2018).

  1. “ Old Testament references to Holy Baptism with water,” New Apostolic Church International, (accessed July 13, 2020); Brian Pizzalato, “Baptism foreshadowed in Old Testament,” Catholic News Agency, (accessed July 13, 2020).

  1. Circumcision, although it is the sign of God’s covenant with the Jewish people, only applies to men. Nonetheless, its significance lies in that God regarded the uncircumcised as having their soul cut off from his people (Gen 17:7-14).
  2. NEs’ note, John 3:25.
  3. The passage appears in Matthew too; however, the term baptism does not appear.
  4. “Atonement,” Encyclopedia Judaica, Jewish Virtual Library,, (Accessed October 23, 2019).
  5. Jesuit priest James Martin refers to baptism as the most familiar but misunderstood sacrament…. It’s become a rite of passage for the family rather than what it really means — an incorporation into the Christian community. So, some parents don’t realize why it takes place during a Mass or why godparents should be Catholics. They are surprised that preparation is involved. Cathy Lynn Grossman, “Baptism rates slide despite high-profile boosts,” National Catholic Reporter, Oct 24, 2013, (accessed October 24, 2017).


Righteous Sexual Behavior – Marriage, Celibacy, Chastity, Virginity

Method note: The category Sexuality in the Gospels consists of tallying and ranking anything denoting righteous or sinful sexuality, and others such as pregnancy, birth, purification, circumcision, eunuchism, or erectile dysfunctionality, and the absence of marriage and sex in heaven. There is no narrative for this category, since it is broken down into two, Righteous sexual behavior, which discusses marriage, celibacy, chastity, and virginity in this section; in a further breakdown, Marriage appears as a single category in Table 2 while the other three are shown together as one category, celibacy, chastity, virginity, Tallying marriage entails the word itself as well as passages indicating the union of two persons or a wedding. Additionally, it includes passages where divorce and adultery are discussed since these cannot happen unless one of the parties is married. In these cases, each passage that mentions adultery or divorce (but not marriage) is counted as 1xt for each.

  1. Leviticus, chapters 15, 18, 20; Deuteronomy, chapter 22.
  2. See tally online.
  3. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans by E.B. Pusey, Books 2, 3, 8, Project Gutenberg, online (accessed November 8, 2019).

  1. NEs’ note, Matthew 1:25.



Method note: As the term seldom appears in the Gospels, the Content Analysis search focused on other words that closely suggest similar connotation, such as promise, await, reward, and longing, that relate to the kingdom of God or the afterlife

regardless of whether their intent is temporal or eschatological.

  1. Two views on the human aspect of hope: Hope is not just a feel-good emotion, but a dynamic cognitive motivational system. Under this conceptualization of hope, emotions follow cognitions, not the other way around. Hope allows people to approach problems with a mindset and strategy-set suitable to success, thereby increasing the chances they will actually accomplish their goals. Scott Barry Kaufman, “The Will and Ways of Hope,” Psychology Today, December 26, 2011, (accessed November 28, 2019); If I could find a way to package and dispense hope, I would have a pill more powerful than any antidepressanton the market. Hope, is often the only thing between man and the abyss. As long as a patient, individual or victim has hope, they can recover from anything and everything. However, if they lose hope, unless you can help them get it back, all is lost. One thing I can tell you is that hope is an emotion that springs from the heart, not the brain. Hope lays dormant until it’s amazing strength is beckoned, supplying a sheer belief that you will overcome, you will persevere and you will endure anything and everything that comes your way. Dale Archer M.D., “The Power of Hope,” Psychology Today, July 31, 2013, (accessed November 28, 2019).
  2. Hope keeps man from discouragement and sustains him during times of abandonment, CCC 1818. Nonetheless, according to CE, distinctions arose during the Reformation regarding the scope of hope. Both Luther and Calvin believed that to hope for an afterlife reward, or to hope out of fear of being condemned, was not considered pure and selfless behavior, so both opposed the Catholic version. JosephDelany, “Hope,” CE,Vol. 7, (accessed November 28, 2019).

  2. Both Luther and Calvin believed that to hope for an afterlife reward, or to hope out of fear of being condemned was not considered pure and selfless behavior, a reason both opposed the Catholic version. JosephDelany, “Hope,” CE,Vol. 7, (accessed November 28, 2019).
  3. James A. Bourgeois, MD, OD, MPA, “Delusional Disorder,” Overview, Medscape, November 14, 2017, (accessed December 10, 2020).

  1. Much has been debated about the trilemma apologetic argument attributed to C S Lewis in which he combatively concludes that Jesus is the Son of God since he cannot be either a lunatic or the devil. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book 2, 4, (accessed December 10, 2020). Lewis not only left out the possibility that Jesus could have been delusional, a different type of mental illness than being a lunatic, but also that the texts may have been altered to make him look and sound as being divine.
  2. Bourgeois, Clinical Features.



Method note: The Content Analysis approach to this category searched for the words prophecy and prophet, fulfill, as it is written, and scriptures (insofar as they lead to a prophecy); and the names of prophets that appear in the texts (if indirectly or directly relevant to prophecy), including Jesus when he issues a prophecy. At times, the prophecy shows up in the texts without mentioning the prophet, in which case the name is obtained by going to the Old Testament. To avoid double-counting in statements such as, as it is written by the prophet Isaiah, rather than to count it as it is written, prophet or Isaiah, only the name of the prophet is tallied along with the prophecy is itself. A prophecy is taken into account when its fulfillment spans decades, centuries, or more. Thus, Elizabeth’s statement of revelation in Luke regarding Mary being the mother of my Lord (Lk 1:42-43) and Mary’s pious evocation of God’s prowess in her canticle (Lk 1:46-55) do not appear in the count. There is an exception to this rule in John the Baptist that is briefly explained in the section. Although in some instances the names of prophets appear without being referenced to a prophecy, they are counted (including pronouns) to indicate the scope of their significance in the texts, and because they work to validate Jesus’s authority on basis of his relationship with the Old Testament.

  1. Prophet or prophecy: 7xt in Mark; 29xt in Luke; 33xt in Matthew; 13xt in John. Fulfillment, including as written and scriptures: 10xt in Mark; 12xt in Luke; 19xt in Matthew; 13xt in John. John the Baptist: 35xt in Mark; 37xt in Lk; 47xt in Matthew; 53xt in John. Moses: 9xt in Mark; 10xt in Lk; 7xt in Matthew; 14xt in John. Abraham: 1xt in Mark; 16xt in Luke; 3xt in Matthew; 11xt in John. Elijah: 10xt in Mark; 7xt in Lk; 11xt in Matthew; 2xt in John. Isaiah: 2xt in Mark; 2xt in Lk; 6xt in Matthew; 4xt in John. Jesus: 2xt in Mark; 3xt in Luke; 4xt in Matthew; 5xt in John (although understated since there are numerous times in which Jesus prophesizes that whoever believes in him will be saved). Simeon: 8xt in Luke. Isaac: 1xt in Mark; 3xt in Luke; 2xt in Matthew. Jonah: 4xt in Luke; 2xt in Matthew. Anna: 4xt in Luke. Jeremiah: 3xt in Matthew. Angel Gabriel: 2xt in Luke. Micah, Hosea, Daniel, and Zechariah: 1xt each in Matthew. Elisha: 1xt in Luke.
  2. “Jewish Concepts: Prophets,” JVL, (accessed March 3, 2019).
  3. The prophet was the interpreter and supernaturally enlightened herald sent by Yahweh to communicate His will and designs to Israel. His mission consisted in preaching as well as in foretelling. He had to maintain and develop the knowledge of the Old Law among the Chosen People, lead them back when they strayed, and gradually prepare the way for the new kingdom of God, which the messiah was to establish on earth. Jean Marie Calès, “Prophecy, Prophet, and Prophetess.” CE, Vol. 12, (accessed March 3, 2019).
  4. Arthur Devine, “Prophecy,” CE, Vol. 12, (accessed March 3, 2019).
  5. NEs’ note, Mt 8:17 indicates that this fulfillment citation from Is 53:4follows the MT, not the LXX. The prophet speaks of the Servant of the Lord who suffers vicariously for the sins (“infirmities”) of others; Matthew takes the infirmities as physical afflictions.
  6. Rachel is the wife of Jacob whom Judaism regards as a matriarchal figure embodying Israel. Yishai Chasidah, “Rachel,” Encyclopedia of Biblical Personalities. (Brooklyn: Shaar press, 1994), in “Rachel,” JVL, (accessed March 4, 2019).

  1. NEs’ note, Hosea 11:1: Hosea dates the real beginning of Israel from the time of the exodus. Mt 2:15applies this text to the return of Jesus from Egypt.
  2. Ibid., note on Mt 27:9-10: Matthew’s attributing this text to Jeremiah is puzzling, for there is no such text in that book, and the thirty pieces of silver thrown by Judas “into the temple” (Mt 27:5) recall rather Zec 11:1213
  3. Ibid., note on Mt 13:35: The quotation is actually fromPs 78:2; the first line corresponds to the LXX text of the psalm. The psalm’s title ascribes it to Asaph, the founder of one of the guilds of temple musicians. He is called “the prophet” (NAB “the seer”) in2 Chr 29:30, but it is doubtful that Matthew averted to that10. Ibid., note on Mt 21:7.
  4. Matthew’s verse reads, They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. NEs conclude that sitting on two animals presents an awkward picture resulting from Matthew’s misunderstanding of the prophecy. NEs note on Matthew 21:4-5.
  5. Ibid., note Mt 2:23.
  6. Ibid., Mt. 13:35.
  7. Patrick Healy, “Pope Benedict XIV.” CE, Vol. 2, (accessed March 5, 2019).
  8. Devine.
  9. Ibid. In his article, the author seems to contradict himself arguing that one indication of a true prophet is that the recipient of the gift of prophecy should, as a rule, be good and virtuous, for all mysticalwriters agree that for the most part this gift is granted by Godto holy persons. But he adds, the disposition or temperament of the person should also be considered, as well as the state of health and the brain. The problem with this indicator is that anyone prophesizing today that the sky will fall will have his mental sanity seriously questioned, which would include Jesus himself. Another indicator is that the prophecy must be conformable to Christian truth and piety because if it proposes anything against faith or morals it cannot proceed from the Spirit of Truth. This indicator also presents problems because the Catholic Church would want to authenticate the prophecy, and Protestants, or even many Catholics, may not agree with papal pronouncements.
  10. Charles Ellicott, a nineteenth-century Christian theologian, offers such a traditional explanation in his commentaries to the Gospels. Charles Ellicott, “John 10:8,” Ellicott’s Commentaries for English Readers, (accessed April 5, 2019). John Gill, an eighteenth-century Baptist pastor, offers a similar account, saying that this passage must be understood with some restrictions. John Gill, “John 10:8,” John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, (accessed April 5, 2019). NEs limit themselves to indicating that the words “before me”are omitted in many good early manuscripts and versions; a factual statement that still leaves the reader guessing about what to believe the passage means. NEs’ note, John 10:8.
  11. NEs’ note, Lk 24:26.
  12. Ibid., note, Isaiah 13:1-22: Although attributed to Isaiah (v. 1), this oracle does not reflect conditions of Isaiah’s time.


God’s Will

Method note: Search for the term will of God is part of the tally as well as other passages that may refer to the category. Accordingly, except for John’s Gospel (due to the numerous sayings about Jesus doing God’s will), (xt) and (p) receive the same values while (sp) is independently tallied according to allocated space in the synoptics. In John’s Gospel, each saying is tallied as 1xt).

  1. The Roman Church had held to the concept that there is no salvation outside the Church. Catholicism continues to insist on this view, although it makes room for those who are inculpably ignorant of the Gospel to be saved. Protestantism may agree with this view after redefining the Church as those who believe in Jesus Christ without having to recognize papal authority. Ad Gentes – on the Mission Activity of the Church, Vatican II Council, 1.7, December 7, 1965 (accessed July 9, 2020); Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, Vatican II Council, 16, December 7,

1965, (accessed July 9, 2020); “A sermon by Martin Luther from his Wartburg Church Postil, 1521-1522,” 27, (accessed July 9, 2020);

Q & A by, (accessed July 9, 2020).

  1. The following are examples of Jesus not taking credit for his teachings:

I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me (Jn 5:30);

I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me (J 6:38);

My teaching is not my own but is from the one who sent me (Jn 7:16);

I say only what the Father taught me (Jn 8:29);

– [I know the Father] and I keep his word (Jn 8:55);

–  I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak

– So what I say, I say as the Father told me (Jn 12:49-50);

I do as the Father has commanded me (Jn 14:31);

I glorified you on earth [Father] by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do (Jn 17:4).

  1. It is revealing that passages on the temptations of Jesus do not appear in John. And in Mark, angels are said to minister to Jesus and supposedly help him with Satan’s temptations (Mark 1:12-13). If so, such assistance likely would be welcomed by humans, who often seem to be on their own.
  2. In Mark’s and Matthews’s texts the issue becomes more complicated. Jesus advises that he should follow basic commandments (You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother). However, according to Mark, he does not include the greatest of all commandments in the passage (which appears in 12:28-31). Instead, Jesus inserts an addendum telling the scholar that he lacks one thing, Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me (Mk 10:21). As previously discussed, relating God’s will with having to renounce one’s possessions places an unrealistic burden on most human beings; something that has never become an integral part of the Christian dogma on salvation. In Matthew, Jesus does include love of neighbor, but simply as one of several commandments and without embracing love of God (that appears in 22:34-40). Then, he adds an addendum similar to Mark’s in which renouncing one’s possessions becomes only an ideal and not a prerequisite for salvation (Matthew 19:16-21).
  3. NEs acknowledge (rather harshly) that Mary’s natural kinship with Jesus counts for nothing; only one who does the will of his heavenly Father belongs to his true family (Matthew 12:46-50).


Christianity as the Opium of the People

Method note: Following the physical effects of opium as a drug, this category searched for passages that denote parallel side-effects in human behavior.

  1. Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, (1843), Introduction, trans. Joseph O. Malley, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), (accessed June 28, 2019).

  1. Helen Askitopoulou, Ioanna A Ramoutsaki, Eleni Konsolaki, “Archaeological evidence on the use of opium in the Minoan world,” (Abstract). International Congress Series, Vol 1242, Elsevier, December 2002, (accessed June 30, 2019); S. Norn, PR Kruse, E Kruse, “History of opium poppy and morphine,” (Abstract), 2005, National Center for Biotechnology Information, (accessed June 30, 2019).

  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “somniferous.”
  2. “Opium,” Alcohol and Drug Foundation, June 26, 2019, (accessed June 28, 2019). A list of additional effects appears in Bronwen Jean Bryant, Kathleen Mary Knights Pharmacology for Health Professionals, 3rd ed (Sydney: Mosby Elsevier, 2011) 290-91, (accessed June 30, 2019).

  1. Although Marx refers to religion in a few of his writings, he never writes a specific treatise about it. His early life experiences and studies, however, are likely to have influenced his attitude. Having been born Jewish, his family converts to Protestantism to escape Christian-induced anti-Semitism. Living under a divided and contentious Christian conglomeration of German political states also gives him some notion of the side-effects of religion. His dictum at the early age of 25, is ultimately a product of the materialist views of human life he has developed and his (quasi-scientific) reaction to Georg W F Hegel’s philosophy of idealism.
  2. Arguing in favor of the Beatitudes, Fr. Jeffrey Kirby echoes Pope Francis’s belief that the Beatitudes can lead to man’s inherent happiness because of their universality among people of goodwill presuming they possess a poor spirit, sorrow over loss or evil, meekness, a keen desire for righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, working for peace, and a willingness to suffer persecution for what is right and just. While agreeing with Fr. Kirby, there are problems in defining people of goodwill by relying on Christian criteria. If the term includes atheists and members of other religions, who is responsible for putting these values in their hearts and minds? Can people of goodwill disagree with the Beatitudes? Are the Beatitudes the only measure of people of goodwill?
  3. While Matthew emphasizes the poor in spirit (suggesting spiritual poverty), Luke (who is more concerned with real deprivation) simply writes Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours (Lk 6:20).
  4. Marx, Critique.
  5. It is perhaps ironic that in Marxism-Leninism, the party is supposed to pursue the interest of all workers and society thus making the party the servant of the people. In Leninism, once in power, the party demands absolute obedience, thus turning the people into servants. However, the concept of attaining political power to alter socio-economic and political structures is not necessarily alien to Christian political thought in its pursuit of a just society.
  6. A study in 2010 by Paul K. Piff and Michael W. Kraus provided a significant conclusion: despite lower-income people being more generous, charitable, trusting and helpful to others than were those with more wealth, their empathy and compassion diminished as they become wealthier. Judith Warner, “The Charitable-Giving Divide,” The New York Times Magazine, August 20, 2010, (accessed January 14, 2019). Another article surveying various studies indicate that,

– The rich tend to be more self-centered: they rationalize their advantage, and believe that they deserved it. They pursue their self-interest and moralize greed easily.

– The rich seem to view the external environment quite differently: they are not very good at reading emotions of the others and lack empathy and compassion. This deficit stems primarily from their lack of dependence on others. 

– The rich appear to possess a sense of entitlement: A study of the attitude of car owners showed that more expensive cars were more likely to block and cross other cars, and less likely to yield to pedestrians who had the right of way. The rich paid lower taxes and were more prone to evade taxes and hide their wealth; the rich were more likely to adopt questionable accounting and business practices and sidestep ethical practices, and the rich were more likely to use their powers to perpetuate illegal and unlawful activities. Uma Shashikant, “Why poor people tend to be more generous than the rich,” Economic Times, July 23, 2018, (accessed January 14, 2019).


Violence and non-Violence in Jesus

Method note: The ranking in Table 2 is not the outcome of passages (not words) depicting violence and non-violence in the texts. As done with other categories, the numbers for (xt) conform to the number of passages (p) while (sp) depicts space allocated to the category.

  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “violence.” Both Cambridge and Oxford dictionaries offer similar definitions.
  2. These are synonyms of violent behavior that appear online. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “violent.”
  3. NEs assert that this event is not known historically outside of Luke’s Gospel. Notes on Luke 13:1 and 13:4. In the same passage, Jesus also relies on an accident that kills several people to warn that the same fate awaits those who do not repent.
  4. Ibid., note, Mt 11:12. NABRE exegetes characterize the meaning of these sayings as difficult, suggesting thatprobably the opponents of Jesus are trying to prevent people from accepting the kingdom and to snatch it away from those who have received it.
  5. Ibid., Jesus was probably using figurative language about being prepared to face the world’s hostility, note, Lk 22:38.
  6. Ibid., the peace Jesus offers is the peace that comes through salvation, according to NEs’ note, John 14:27. What exactly this means is uncertain; if salvation is attained in the afterlife, it means that only then may believers find peace.
  7. Today, in many parts of the world the term preemptive action has been adulterated to signify support for preventive measures that traditionally and by international norms and laws are morally and legally unjustifiable. Many governments, including the United States, have pursued policies that are more predisposed toward violence as a first course of action by calling them preemptive action.
  8. The historical rumor that Judas Iscariot may have been a secretive Zealot who becomes disappointed that Jesus has no intention of opposing the Romans carries less weight when he returns the thirty pieces of silver and is overridden by guilt commits suicide (Mt 27:3-4).
  9. Josephus, Book XVIII, Chapter 1, 1. & 6. Although Josephus uses the terms zeal and zealous numerous times (74xt and 48xt respectively), he never refers to these people as Zealots. He writes about the founder of the movement (a philosophy, he calls it), Judas, a Gaulonite, of a city whose name was Gamala who, taking with him Sadduc, a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them (the Jewish people) to a revolt. He charges them with sedition and murder of their own people and famine, and ultimately blames them for the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. See also, Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy, (NY: William Morrow and Co., 1991), in “Ancient Jewish History: The Great Revolt (66-70 CE),” JVL, (accessed April 6, 2019).

  1. The type of weed referenced in Matthew is said to be darnel, a poisonous weed that in its first stage of growth resembles wheat. NEs’ note, Matthew 13:25. It is possible (though doubtful) that farmers at the time might not have had enough information about this weed. Today it is acknowledged that even a few grains of this plant will adversely affect crop quality. Its seeds are poisonous to people and livestock. It is very difficult to separate the seeds of L. temulentum (darnel) from those of wheat and other small grain crops as they are similar in size and weight. L. temulentum can be a host to a variety of crop pests and diseases. The best form of invasive species management is prevention. If prevention is no longer possible, it is best to treat the weed infestations when they are small to prevent them from establishing (early detection and rapid response). BioNET-EAFRINET, “Lolium temulentum (Darnel Ryegrass),” (accessed April 7, 2019).

  1. NEs’ note, Matthew 13:24-30: The refusal of the householder to allow his slaves to separate the wheat from the weeds while they are still growing is a warning to the disciples not to attempt to anticipate the final judgment of God by a definitive exclusion of sinners from the kingdom. In its present stage, it is composed of the good and the bad. The judgment of God alone will eliminate the sinful. Until then there must be patience and the preaching of repentance.
  2. The Romans begin to retaliate against Jewish uprisings by 66 CE; in the year 70 CE they destroy Jerusalem, and it is estimated that up to one million Jews are killed. Telushkin, “The Great Revolt.”



Method note: This category searched for passages with words that denote humility, such as, humble, meekness, slave, servant, children, and poverty; and terms suggesting an opposite attitude such as arrogance, pride, hypocrisy, rich, and wealth. Accordingly, the xt count in Table 2 tallies passages as 1xt each.

  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, Lexico/Oxford, online, s.v. “humble,” “humility.
  2. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, Lexico/Oxford, online, s.v. “humiliate,” “humiliation.”
  3. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, Lexico/Oxford, online, s.v. “meekness.” The passage in Mt 11:29 is variously translated into English as gentle, lowly, peaceful, as well as meek., (accessed June 21, 2009).
  4. Cambridge Dictionary, online, s.v. “noblesse oblige.”
  5. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “arrogant, haughty.”
  6. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “lordly, overbearing.”


War and Peace

Method note: Searched words and terms included peace, war, nations rising against nations, persecutions, insurrections, and passages connoting violence, including domestic disturbances or civil wars.

  1. The question of whether warfare occurred prior to recorded history seems to be opened to questions; archeological findings point to these types of conflicts going as far back as nine to ten thousand years ago. Bret Stetka, “Prehistoric Carnage Site Is Evidence of Earliest Warfare,” Scientific American, January 22, 2016,

(accessed July 25, 2020).

  1. (accessed December 9, 2019).
  2. Interestingly, Jesus is no stranger to military strategy. While preaching on the wisdom of following his teachings, he relies on a metaphor about a king who would not dare march into battle without first knowing if he has enough troops to face the enemy (Lk 14:28-32).
  3. The activities of both merchants and money changers were legitimate since they supplied the material resources (animals and currency exchange) that worshippers needed in their sacrifices and offerings. It is also said that the reason Jesus undertakes this action was to question the authority of the religious leaders. NEs’ note, Matthew 21:12-17. The zeal depicted in the texts suggests (at least to me) that Jesus was angered by actions that desecrated the Temple.
  4. It may be said too, that religious-political responsibilities emanating from Paul’s view of political authority, and existential matters, e.g. the physical security of the Church compel the papacy to accept military power.
  5. The saying is typical of Jesus’s mystifying personality that unnecessarily allows for several interpretations. NEs note that its meaning is difficult to decipher, suggesting that opponents of Jesus are trying to prevent people from accepting the kingdom and to snatch it away from those who have received it. Matthew 11:12. On the other hand, the Evangelical Heritage Version translates the saying as the kingdom of heaven has been advancing forcefully and forceful people are seizing it, suggesting a clash between a Jesus’s brigade and others that oppose it. Nonetheless, the historical record does not indicate that Jesus proposes any type of religious or political uprising. If anything, his peaceful surrender to the religious authorities is evidence of the opposite.
  6. NEs’ note, Mt 13:24-30.
  7. Ambrose of Milan, On the Duties of the Clergy, Book 1, chapter 36, par 179,,_Ambrosius,_De_Officiis_Ministrorum_Libri_Tres_[Schaff],_EN.pdf (accessed December 18, 2019).

  1. Main contributors to the Just War Doctrine include Ambrose, and Augustine in the fourth century, Aquinas in the thirteenth century, Vitoria and Suárez in the sixteenth century, and Protestant philosophers Grotius and Pufendorf in the seventeenth century.
  2. John M. Mecklin, “The War and the Dilemma of the Christian Ethic.” The American Journal of Theology, vol. 23, no. 1, 1919, pp. 14–40. JSTOR, (accessed on December 12, 2019).
  3. Pope Francis’s encyclical, Fratelli Tutti – On Fraternity and Social Friendship, questions the long-standing Just War Doctrine as originally formulated by St Augustine. Franciscus, Fratelli Tutti – On Fraternity and Social Friendship, 258, (Assisi: October 3, 2020), (accessed October 6, 2020). It is not clear whether his words amount to complete rejection. If Francis is suggesting a rejection of the doctrine without replacing or refining it, it may be taken as his fervent desire to avoid warfare. He is correct in his critique of the Just War Doctrine—that nations are disguising their intentions by hiding behind moral rationalizations to go to war and calling them just. Nonetheless, historically, the most fervent desires and prayers have failed to eradicate warfare, and there is nothing on the horizon that may be expected to change this panorama. Given that there is certain soundness to the doctrine, insisting on its criteria along with zealous opposition to those that disingenuously seek to disguise evil may be a rational alternative. This approach would be no different than what Christian churches rely on today to educate their followers on sinfulness. Nonetheless, since there is no unity among Christians, much less on issues of warfare, Christian churches have been reluctant to openly condemn governments that violate the doctrine and to organize an energetic opposition to illegal and immoral warfare. At the same time, it is to be observed that even Catholic prelates continue to demonstrate ignorance of their own teachings. In their almost silent critique of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the American bishops referred to the planned actions of the US Government as being preemptive, despite that sound reasons would have characterized the actions that were going to be taken as a preventive attack, i.e., an immoral and illegal war. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Statement on Iraq, 2002,” November 13, 2002, (2nd par), (accessed October 6, 2020).



Method note: The words that might disclose Jesus’s desire for unity include one, divided, united, together, and remain, insofar as they relate to his presumed need of the sheep being under one shepherd. Other passages that imply unity (or division as being undesirable) are included too.

  1. The name Peter appears 103xt in all four Gospels (without counting pronouns that reference him). No one, except for Jesus, whose name appears 643xt, is so publicly displayed in the texts. If Jesus is the main character in the Gospels (according to the numbers), Peter is clearly the second most important person.


Mystery in the Gospels

Method note: Tallying this category is done according to (p) and (sp). The search seeks to identify passages in which the mysterious nature of the kingdom is acknowledged directly through the term itself or indirectly through words such as hidden, conceal, secret, or in passages denoting restrictions that either God or Jesus place on revelation that keep human beings in the dark, as well as passages, indicating failed attempts by the disciples and others to understand Jesus’s teachings.

  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, online, s.v. “mystery.”
  2. The following are some of the mysteries included in the Catholic Catechism under Mystery:

of Christ, 280, 512-60, 639, 654, 1067; of the Church, 770-76; of the Church’s unity, 813-16; of creation, 287, 295-301; of the existence of evil, 309, 385, 395; of faith, 2558; of God, 42, 206, 234, 1028, 2779; of man, 359; of man’s salvation, 122.

  1. NEs’ note, Matthew 13:35.
  2. Ibid., note, Mark 4:1-34.


Miracles in the Gospels

Method note: The tallying in this category was not based on searching for the term miracle; instead it recorded the total number of times that miracles are said to take place in the texts in terms of (xt) and (p) followed by a complete description of each miracle (sp).

  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, online, s.v. “miracle.”
  2. CCC 547. The Catholic Catechism does not provide a formal definition of the term miracle. It indicates, however, that miracles are the most certain signs of divine Revelation that provide motives of credibility, i.e., contribute to faith (156).
  3. Jesus’s reproach to the religious authorities and their followers’ for refusing to believe in his works (Jn 10:25-26, 37-38) does not suggest that they refuse to accept the works that take place, but rather decline to acknowledge that the works they witness signify that he is the Messiah.
  4. NEs’ note, Mark 2:5.
  5. Although evaluating passages to conform to specific themes involve a certain amount of subjectivity, in this case it may be fairly easy to notice that many miracles attributed to Jesus do not indicate that he makes faith a requisite for the deed. There are cases in which the recipient of the miracle begins to believe afterwards, not before; however, I give faith the benefit of the doubt and tally the passage as related to faith. The tally is as follows: miracles attributed to Jesus in which faith plays little or no role: Mark (13): 1:21-28, 29-33, 32-34, 40-45, 3:1-6, 7-12, 4:35-41, 5:1-20, 6:45-52, 53-56, 7:31-37, 8:1-9, 16:1-20. Luke (19): 4:31-37, 38-39, 40-41, 5:1-11, 12-16, 6:6-11, 17-19, 7:11-16, 18:22, 8:22-25, 26-39, 9:12-17, 28-36, 37-43, 11:14-20, 13:10-17, 14:1-6, 22:47-51, 24:1-53. Matthew (23): 4:23-25, 8:1-4, 8:14-15, 16-17, 23-27, 28-34, 9:1-17, 32-33, 35-36, 12:9-15, 12:22-28, 14:13-21, 22-33, 34-36, 15:29-31, 32-38, 17:1-9, 14-18, 19:1-2, 20:3-34, 21:14, 28:1-20. John (6): 2:1-11, 5:1-14, 6:1-14, 6:16-21, 9:1-39, 20:1-29. Miracles attributed to Jesus in which faith might be a requisite: Mark (12): 1:35-39, 2:1-12, 5:21-43x2m, 6:1-5, 6:7-13, 34-44, 7:24-30, 8:22-26, 9:3-8, 14-29, 10:46-52. Luke (9): 5:17-26, 7:1-10, 8:40-56x2m, 9:1-6, 10-11, 13:53-58, 17:11-19, 18:35-43. Matthew (5): 8:5-13, 9:18-25x2m, 27-31, 15:21-28. John (3): 4:45-53, 11:1-44, 21:1-23.
  6. The belief is based on the Old Testament: Ex 20:5; Dt 5:9. NEs’ note, Luke 5:20.
  7. Tacitus, The Annals, Book XV, (109 C.E.), trans. Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb, The Internet Classics Archive, (accessed September 14, 2019).
  8. Pliny the Younger, Letter 96 to the Emperor Trajan, Book 10, trans. J.B.Firth (1900),, (accessed September 14, 2019).

  1. C. Suetonius Tranquillus, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars, (In the chapter on Tiberius Claudius Drusus Caesar, XXV), The Project Gutenberg EBook, trans. Alexander Thomson, M.D., last updated 2016, (accessed September 14, 2019).

  1. Josephus, Book XX, Chapter 9, 1, and Book XVIII, Chapter 3, 3, (accessed September 14, 2019).
  2. Conrad Hackett, David McClendon, “Christians remain world’s largest religious group, but they are declining in Europe,” Pew Research Center, April 5, 2017, (accessed September 14, 2019).


The Resurrection of Jesus

Method note: These words searched in this category include rise, risen, and raise as well as other terms related to Jesus’s resurrection, such as, appear, met them, greeted them, look at my hands, touch me (to see he is real), recognized him, and I will see you again. Passages in which Jesus seems to predict his passion and the grain of wheat metaphor in John are also part of the count, along with the lengthy passages dealing with the resurrection and post-resurrection at the end of each Gospel. The purpose is to gauge how much interest the authors devoted to this event.

  1. In one instance, in Capernaum, many of Jesus’s disciples (except the twelve) stop accompanying him because they cannot understand his teachings (Jn 6:52-66).
  2. (Mk 8:31, 9-9, 9:31-32, 10:32-34, 14:27-28, Lk 9:22, 18:31-34, 24:6-7, Mt 16:21-23, 17:9, 17:22-23, 20:17-19, 26:31-32, 28:6, Jn 2:22, 12:23-24, 16:16-23).
  3. Jesus states at least twenty times that his mission entails doing God’s will (Table 2) while not mentioning any other motive



Method note: Terms and phrases that stand for the Parousia, known also as the Second Coming, were used to tally and rank this category. They include, harvest, comes in glory, has come in power, the Son of Man, gather the wheat, on that day, final test, day of judgment, end of the age, last day, and until I come, in addition to certain parables that address the Parousia. The Resurrection of Humans category would fit the Parousia since it is at the end of time that the resurrection will occur. However, I chose to limit this category to passages that strongly allude to Jesus’s Second Coming. Passages tallied as (xt) will be the same as (p).

  1. The Book of Daniel refers to what is to happen in the last days (Dn 2:28), but he provides no description. In chapter 7, Daniel refers to visions that include a Son of Man that terrifies him (Dn 7:15). NEs point out that the events narrated in Matthew refer to his assurance that they must happen (see Dn 2:28LXX), for that is the plan of God. Note, Mt 24:6.
  2. The following passages acknowledged the events that will precede the Parousia:

– the Gospel shall be preached throughout the world; [this is taking place today and it is likely that it has reached all nations of the world through different venues].

– the conversion of the Jewish people; [although Jews convert to Jesus at times, mass conversions are not taking place].

– the return of Enoch and Elijah; [humans are not aware of a timetable although supposedly God may ordain their return on a moment’s notice].

– many or most Christians will abandon the faith; [the process of secularization has contributed to a reduction in the number of Christians, although in some cases it does not mean they have entirely lost the faith].

– a person, group of people or a force representing the antichrist will persecute the church; [different political regimes and rulers have persecuted the church and Christians throughout history, including popes; Protestantism traditionally has regarded the papacy as the antichrist too].

– there will be wars, famine, earthquakes; [these episodes have been taking place throughout history including today.

– false messiahs and false prophets will appear performing signs that will deceive even the chosen ones (Mt 24:24); [already humanity has had its share of them].

– there will be a general conflagration induced by God that will not annihilate creation; [it is difficult to determine what type of conflict this sign refers to].

– just prior to the end of time the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. People then will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory to judge the living and the dead (Mt 13:24-26, 25:31-46).

– following the above occurrences, the dead will be resurrected; [Jesus’s disciples believed (including Paul, 1 Thes 4:15) that it would happen during their lifetime].

John McHugh, “General Judgment,” CE. Vol. 8, (accessed July 9, 2019).

  1. NEs’ note, Mt 24:15. Jesus points to the desolating abomination that the prophet Daniel said will occur as a sign pertaining (supposedly) to the Parousia. However, the desolating abomination refers to a previous event that takes place in the year 167 BCE, prior to the Book of Daniel (167-164 BCE). Matthew uses Jesus’s reference to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE as the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy.
  2. Ibid., note, 2 Thes 3:6. Paul’s view of an imminent Parousia appears in Romans and Philippians, both written between 55-58 CE, according to NEs (Introduction). Paul then becomes aware that the Parousia is not imminent and writes in 2 Thessalonians that people cannot remain idle waiting for the Second Coming. Thus, he writes that those who do not work shall not eat. If this is a correction to his earlier letters, it must have happened after 58 CE. NEs indicate that 1 Thessalonians is said to be written between 51-52, but they do not suggest a date for the second letter. Paul’s statement in 2 Thes 3:6-10 appears to be of dubious origins. NEs point out that confusion over the timing of the Parousia has to do either with Paul’s distorted thinking or to a forged letter.
  3. Ibid., note, Mt 16:28, 13:41. Deferring to biblical experts to solve the riddle, NEs indicate that the coming does not refer to the Parousia, but the manifestation of Jesus’ rule after his resurrection; in other words, pointing out that the reference is to Jesus’s kingdom as opposed to God’s kingdom.
  4. Ibid., note, Mt 24:34. The difficulty raised by this verse cannot be satisfactorily removed by the supposition thatthis generationmeans the Jewish people throughout the course of their history, much less the entire human race. Perhaps for Matthew it means the generation to which he and his community belonged.
  5. Ibid., note, Mt 10:23. Even NEs find it difficult to understand what Matthew may have understood, suggesting that he may have been referring to the “proleptic parousia” of Mt 28:1620, or the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, viewed as a coming of Jesus in judgment on unbelieving Israel.
  6. Ibid., note, Lk 19:11-27.
  7. Factual data on the types of death the Apostles suffered is greatly lacking. A sample of the literature on the internet shows the following: apologists accept traditional beliefs that most of them were martyred for their faith: Brian Kelly, “How did the Apostles Die?”, April 12, 2016, (accessed July 12, 2019); Jack Wellman, How did the Twelve Apostles Die? A Bible Study,” What Christians Want to Know, (accessed July 12, 2019); a less apologetic and more scrutinized article on the subject matter yet arriving at a similar conclusion, Sean McDowell, “Did the Apostles Really Die as Martyrs for Their Faith? By Sean McDowell,”, (accessed July 12, 2019); a rather argumentative (even petulant), yet informative and reasonably persuasive piece, argues that there is not enough sound historical data that would allow us to assert that the Apostles died as martyrs for their faith, thus leading the already pre-disposed atheist author to question the belief, Richard Carrier, Ph.D., “Did the Apostles Die for a Lie?” April 7, 2016, Richard Carrier Blogs, (accessed July 12, 2019); from a Catholic standpoint, a critic of the extent of Christian martyrdom questions the martyrdom of Peter and Paul; Candida Moss, “Nero, the Execution of Peter and Paul, and the Biggest Fake News in Early Christian History,”, July 23, 2017, (accessed July 12, 2019). In this article, as in her book, she argues that Nero could not possibly have persecuted Christians because there were no Christians at the time; only Jews who were followers of Jesus. Though technically correct (Jesus’s followers might not have been publicly known as Christians yet), more than likely these “Jewish Christians” would have been identified as a unique group according to the god they followed as well as by the way they worshipped him. Additionally, according to Paul’s Letter to the Romans, there were Gentile Christian congregations in Rome alongside Jewish Christians. Hence, although Nero might not have persecuted “Christians” he may have persecuted “Jewish and Gentile Christians.”

  1. NEs’ note, Mt 24:45-51.
  2. Ibid., notes, Luke 12:35-48 and 12:45.
  3. Ibid., note, Mt 19:28. According to NEs, it is more likely that what the Twelve are promised is that they will be joined with Jesus then in judging the people of Israel.



Method note: The search in this category focused on actual parables (rather than on the word itself) and includes any type of figurative language, i.e., similes, metaphors, allegories, and similar narratives that Jesus utilizes to instruct his disciples or the crowds. Passages in which Jesus explains the use of parables are included too. Therefore, as previously done with other categories, each passage (p) is treated as 1xt.

  1. “Figurative Language,”, (accessed May 22, 2020); “Figurative Language,” The NROC Project, (accessed May 22, 2020).

  1. An approximate breakdown of figurative language in the Gospels is as follows: Mark (11xt): 2:19-20, 2: 21-22, 3:23-27, 4:2-20, 4:21-25, 4:26-29, 4:30-32, 7:14-23, 9:49-50, 12:1-12, 13:1-2, 13:5-31. Luke (27xt): 5:33-38, 8:4-15, 8:16-17, 10:25-37, 11:5-8, 11:17-22, 11:33-36, 11:39-44, 54, 12:13-21, 12:35-48, 13:6-9, 13:18-19, 13:20-21, 14:7-14, 14:15-24, 15:3-7, 15:8-10, 15:11-32, 16:1-8, 16:19-31, 17:7-10, 18:1-8, 18:9-14, 19:12-27, 20:9-19, 21:5-6., 2:29-33. Matthew (25xt): 5:13-16, 7:24-27, 9:14-17, 12:25-29, 13:3-23, 13:24-30, 13:31-32, 13:33, 13:44, 13:45-46, 13:47-50, 13:51-52, 15:10-20, 18:12-14, 18:21-35, 20:1-16, 21:28-31, 21:33-45, 22:1-14, 23:13-33, 24:1-2, 24:3-36, 24:45-51, 25:1-13, 25:14-30. John (6xt): 1:1-7, 4:7-14, 6:35-36, 10:7-17, 15:1-7, 16:20-22.
  2. NEs’ note, Mark 4:1-34.
  3. Ibid., note, Matthew 13:35.
  4. Going through various articles about Jesus’s parables, the reader immediately notices that understanding them requires time and at least an average level of intelligence. “The Parables of Jesus,” Christian Bible Reference Site, (accessed May 22, 2020); Hampton Keathley IV, “Introduction to the Parables,”, (accessed May 22, 2020); R.T. Kendall, The Parables of Jesus: A Guide to Understanding and Applying the Stories Jesus Told, (Ada, Mi: Baker Publishing Group, 2008);  Jay A. ParryDonald W. Parry, Understanding the Parables of Jesus Christ,” Deseret Books, (accessed May 22, 2020); John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus: Probing the Authenticity of the Parables, Vol V, (New Haven: The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library, 2016).
  5. NEs’ note, Mark 4:11-12 reads: It is against this background that the distinction in Jesus’ method becomes clear of presenting the kingdom to the disbelieving crowd in one manner and to the disciples in another. To the former, it is presented in parables and the truth remains hidden; for the latter, the parable is interpreted and the mystery is partially revealed because of their faith.
  6. “What did Jesus mean when He said, “He who has ears to hear”?” Got Questions. Your Questions. Biblical Answers, (accessed May 14, 2019).
  7. Meir, Vol V.


Supernatural Occurrences

Method note: The search includes all supernatural incidents in the texts except for Jesus’s miracles. Xts are tallied in correspondence with p.


God as Everyone’s Father

Method note: The search in this category focuses on the ways Jesus refers to God as everyone’s father. Terms such as your heavenly Father, your Father, our Father, the Father.



Method note: The search in this category was limited to the term justified/justification since there are no other words that have a similar connotation.

  1. “Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres, and Atrocities Before the 20th Century,”  (accessed October 29, 2019). This site provides various reference sources estimating the number of people that died during these wars.

  1. Although the Catholic Church corrupted the practice, properly granting indulgences for the remission of sins is within the exercise of the Church’s faculties through the application of the superabundant meritsof Christ and of the saints, and for some just and reasonable motive. William Kent, “Indulgences,” CE, Vol. 7, (accessed October 29, 2019).

  1. There is a discrepancy in the count of Paul’s use of the term justified/justification. According to the NABRE version, my count shows 19xt in Romans while the Bible Gateway version shows 17xt; My count indicates 9xt in Galatians while Bible Gateway version shows 7xt; two other additional appearances of the term are 1xt in 1 Corinthian and 1xt in Titus.
  2. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “exalted.”



Method note: In addition to searching for the word grace, tallying this category included other terms that amounted to a similar meaning, such as blessed, favor, pleased, or passages that indicate the presence of grace.

  1. There is not much variance in the numbers in other Bible translations; in some cases, some translations add the word once, in Luke, or use the term kindness.
  2. The numbers in Paul’s letters are very similar in other translations. For example, the term appears 80xt in the International Version of the Bible, 95xt in King James Version, 92xt in 21st Century King James Version, and 83xt in the Evangelical Heritage Version.
  3. Nearly all Christian denominations accept the concept of grace as a supernatural element through which God touches and directly moves the heart of the person. Moreover, there is agreement that without grace human salvation would not be possible. Differences arise in terms of who receives grace from God and the extent to which grace may work on its own or whether it requires human cooperation.
  4. The term that is most used by the Protestant NKJ21 and the Catholic NABRE versions is favor, instead of grace. Still, there are considerable differences; NKJ21 uses favor 82xt while NABRE uses it 177xt. NKJ21 uses grace 37xt while in NABRE it appears 10xt.
  5. NEs’ note, John 1:16 states, replacement of the Old Covenant with the New (cf. Jn 1:17). Other possible translations are “grace upon grace” (accumulation) and “grace for grace” (correspondence).
  6. CCC 2015. Seemingly, most Protestant denominations would agree with the statement.
  7. Ibid. Likely, there are differing viewpoints among and within all Christian denominations regarding this statement.
  8. Ibid., 1266.

9.This view was abrogated in the Second Vatican Council in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1964. The Council declared that the plan of salvation includes those who acknowledge the Creator; those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience; or those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life, (accessed on October 14, 2019). Some Protestant denominations share the updated version.



Method note: The words that were searched included redemption/redeem, savior, ransom, shed blood, liberate/liberty, rescue, and other passages that connote these terms, regardless of whether they pertain to Jesus or God.

  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “redemption.”
  2. Joseph Sollier”Redemption.”CE. Vol. 12, (accessed November 20, 2019); CCC 613, 615. According to the Catholic Catechism, the account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man (CCC 390). Who exactly demands such ransom and to whom is it paid is open to interpretation among Christian denominations, although it is surmised that our foreparents’ offense to God is being satisfied by the death of his son (CCC 602, 603, 604).
  3. “Salvation,” (redirected from Redemption), (accessed November 20, 2019).
  4. Kaufman Kohle, “Atonement,” Jewish Encyclopedia, (accessed November 20, 2019).
  5. Rabbi Aron Tendler, “The Meaning of Redemption,” October 27, 2005, (accessed November 20, 2019).

7.NEs’ note, Lk 1:76 suggests that the term Lord is most likely a reference to Jesus (contrast Lk 1:1517 where Yahweh is meant). Such differentiation does not appear that clear to me as a reader, and the phrase most likely is not very reassuring.

  1. Ibid., note, Matthew 8:17.
  2. Ibid., note Luke 24:26.


The Soul

Method note: only the word soul was tallied in this category. Categories such as the resurrection of humans, the afterlife, salvation and condemnation, eternal life, and kingdom of God, suggest the presence of an element that continues to exist after death, presumably the soul. It would not be methodologically wrong should the reader wishes to add these categories to the soul, in which case it would increase its ranking considerably. Nonetheless, it would signify a big leap since the process entails the presupposition that the Gospels are referring to the soul in each of the above categories.

  1. Michael Maher, Joseph Bolland,”Soul,”CE, Vol. 14, (accessed November 2, 2019).
  2. CCC 363, 33, 366.
  3. A minority view (Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh Day Adventist, and few others) holds that the soul of those that are not saved will cease to exist.
  5. CCC 363.
  6. James Tabor, “The Jewish Roman World of Jesus,” (accessed December 14, 2013); Kaufmann Kohler, “Immortality of the Soul,” Jewish Encyclopedia, (accessed November 2, 2019); also, the Encyclopedia Judaica indicates that Jewish theology has no clearly elaborated views on the relationship between body and soul, nor on the nature of the soul itself. … Whether the soul is capable of living an independent, fully conscious existence away from the body after death is unclear from rabbinic sources. Encyclopedia Judaica, 2008, “Body and Soul,” in Jewish Virtual Library, (accessed November 2, 2019); also, NEs acknowledge that Hebrew anthropology did not postulate body/soul dualism in the way that is familiar to us. Note on John 12:25. The article on the Soul (above) in the Old Catholic Encyclopedia (1907-1914) makes the following statement that seems to contradict the Catechism: it is evident that the Old Testamentthroughout, either asserts or implies the distinct reality of the soul.
  7. Mahler and Bolland; Kaufman Kohler, Isaac BroydéLudwig Blau, “Soul,” Jewish Encyclopedia, (accessed November 5, 2019). See Hendrik Lorenz, “Ancient Theories of Soul,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(Summer 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <> (accessed November 7, 2019).
  8. Neuroscientist George Paxinos suggests that the soul provides insufficient explanatory capability for human behavior because all cognitive and sensorial manifestations come from the brain. The statement, from a scientific viewpoint, seems correct. Nonetheless, it may be argued that such a view is the conclusion of a materialist inclination. Such an approach cannot definitively negate the existence of the soul, since it is possible that what resides inside the brain (commonly known as the mind) is a feature of the soul. “Why psychology lost its soul: everything comes from the brain,” Elsevier, October 2016, (accessed November 5, 2019).


Sinfulness Total Space

Method note: The Sinfulness Totals category is all-encompassing, being comprised of the sum of the categories Teachings about Specific Sins and Sinfulness as a Term. Teachings about Specific Sins incorporates every instance in which an identifiable sin, e.g., hypocrisy, murder, blasphemy, adultery, etc., appears in the Gospels. Each sin is individually discussed in this work, then tallied and ranked separately. Sinfulness as a Term, on the other hand, includes all occurrences in which the term sin, its root, and words analogous to sin show up in the texts. The following words were tallied in Sinfulness as a Term: sin-rooted terms (sin, sinful, sinner), evil (as in deeds), wickedness, wrongness, darkness, iniquity, defile, transgression, repentance, forgiveness, and baptism (insofar as the terms relate to sins). For ranking purposes, it seemed reasonable to add these two categories together, not only because both relate to sin, but also to indicate how important sinfulness was to the authors of the Gospels.


Sinfulness as a Term

Method note: The tally for this category included synonyms of terms such as sin, evil, defile, repentance, forgiveness and baptism if related to sinfulness, transgression, wrongness, darkness, goats (in Matthew), and iniquity. The term sinfulness and its synonyms appear 261xt, as opposed to love 276xt (Table 2 online). Overall, the category ranks lower than the Love category. However, once the tallying of specific sins is added, Total Sinfulness becomes much more significant than Total Love (Table 2).

  1. There is hardly any difference between Catholicism and Protestantism regarding the role of conscience. Among protestant denominations, the individual’s conscience’s understanding of the Bible is decisive in judging good and evil. Such understanding paves the way for an ‘anything goes’ type of decision-making in moral behavior. In Catholicism, the role of individual conscience is no less ambiguous. For example, a Catholic philosophy professor has argued that a “crisis of truth” prevails within the Church pitting divine law as interpreted by the hierarchy against individual freedom of conscience and religious freedom, suggesting that an autonomous conscience cannot be used to judge good and evil unless it is in line with the teaching authority of the Church; otherwise the prevalence of such “creative conscience” would seriously undermine the concept of natural law and the hierarchy’s role in interpreting it; in effect, become Protestant morality. Dorothy Cummings McLean, “Saint JP II warned against ‘creative conscience’ that rejects God’s laws: Angelicum prof,”, 23 May 2018, (accessed online 24 May 2018). The issue suggests a conflict without easy solutions. The discussion in Chapter 3 pointed to the difficulties the Teaching Authority of the Church faces in reaching absolute moral truths, particularly exegetes, upon whose expertise the hierarchy depends for its understanding of the scriptures. Moreover, the Catholic Catechism establishes that a person’s conscience ought to be in line with or subordinated to a law (Natural Law) that God has inscribed in each human being (CCC 1776 -1782). However, the efficacy of human ability to discern Natural Law is questionable since this law may not be perceived by everyone clearly and immediately (CCC 1960). Hence, it cannot be argued that there is a sinful action behind every evil deed if the Catechism itself indicates that there are instances in which the person is not sinfully accountable for his action (CCC 1793). Additionally, the Catechism asserts that Conscience is man’s most secret core, and his sanctuary (CCC 1776), adding that such conscience must be properly formed if it is to be effective. It does not say, however, whether a properly formed conscience requires degrees in theology and philosophy or Sunday catechism. The hierarchy’s claim of infallibility (since before the dogma was declared) offers little assistance given that through the ages it has erred or made changes while dictating moral behavior. Thus, the directive that in the search of salvation the individual must abdicate personal responsibility to the teachings of the hierarchy even if his/her conscience opposes it, may be as unethical as it is absurd to presume that anyone can make an unqualified interpretation of the scriptures by themselves.
  2. Such is the Catholic interpretation of sinfulness. CCC 1857, 1859.
  3. Ibid., 2515. From a temporal standpoint, this is akin to holding a person accountable for not being able to walk or run properly because he/she became disabled after being pushed down a flight of stairs.
  4. NEs’ note, Mt 13:11 indicates that To understand is a gift of God, granted to the disciples but not to the crowds. In Semitic fashion, both the disciples’ understanding and the crowd’s obtuseness are attributed to God. The question of human responsibility for the obtuseness is not dealt with, although it is asserted in Mt 13:13.
  5. Money exchange was necessary for foreigners to be able to purchase animals that were going to be sacrificially offered in the Temple. NEs’ note, Mt 21:12-17.
  6. Ibid., note Mt 12:38-42.
  7. While it is possible that some people bent on ignorance and hatred will overlook tangible reality, it seems highly improbable today that most of humankind would ignore eternal peril after being shown such a spectacularly empirical feat as the resurrection of the body along with other miracles.
  8. When John the Baptist asks people to repent, they have no idea of their sins, so they ask him what they should do, and the Baptist has to tell them (Lk 3:10-14). A passerby (whom Luke identifies as a scholar of the law) appears not to know what to do to attain eternal life and has to ask Jesus who tells him to observe the commandments (Mt 19:16-20). And, in some instances, Jesus even charges his own disciples with hardness of heart.
  9. I think it is possible for philosophy along with the assistance of the physical and social sciences to garner consensus on certain universal moral truths based on improved knowledge of human nature and behavior. Pope Francis’s encyclical letter on Fraternity and Social Friendship, is a close example of elaborating a social and political philosophy based on secular realities behind which are moral values that humanity might be willing to explore. Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, Assisi, October 3, 2020, (accessed October 6, 2020).

  1. Despite its convoluted meaning, Natural Law has been utilized by church authorities, agnostic, and atheist philosophers to support their personal views while most believers and non-Christians tend to disregard it largely because they do not understand it. Natural Law has been used since the times of Aristotle and Cicero, and by Christians of various denominations and non-believers to espouse religious, social, political, and economic beliefs and theories, at times at variance with one another. For example, the American Founding Fathers based their concepts of rights by appealing to the existence of Natural Law and God. Without denying the possibility that such a nebulous concept can be apprehended by all humanity, its contentious and undiscriminating use to sustain almost any point of view suggests that, as a theory, Natural Law lacks any operational capability. Should anyone feel inclined to delve into this concept, a traditional primer is still Heinrich A. Rommen, The Natural Law: A Study in Legal and Social History and Philosophy, trans. Thomas R. Hanley O.S.B., Ph.D., (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998), (accessed 25 May 2018).
  2. Exodus 20:5, you shall not bow down before them or serve them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their ancestors’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation (Ex 20:5). NEs’ note on this passage indicates that other Old Testament texts repudiate the idea of punishment devolving on later generations (cf. Dt 24:16; Jer 31:2930; Ez 18:24). Yet it is known that later generations may suffer the punishing effects of sins of earlier generations, but not the guilt.
  3. NEs’ note, Jn 9:2 indicates that the infirmity in this passage is providential.
  4. Ibid, note on Jn 5:14.
  5. An overall description of the various positions on evolution assumed by various religious faiths appears in, Pew Research Center, “Religious Groups’ Views on Evolution,” updated February 2014, (accessed online October 2, 2018); the Catholic Church position accepting the theory of evolution appears in, International Theological Commission, Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God, 63, (the Vatican, 2004), (accessed online October 2, 2018); Orthodox Christianity’s views, however, vary: S.V. Bufeev,

”Why an Orthodox Christian Cannot be an Evolutionist,” trans. by Dr. Evgeny Selensky, (accessed online October 2, 2018);

Fr. Lawrence Farley, “Evolution or creation Science?” Orthodox Church in America, 2012, (accessed online October 2, 2018);

Fr. George Nicozisin, “Creationism versus Evolution,” Orthodox Research Institute, 2017. (accessed online October 2, 2018). Mainstream Protestantism tends to accept the main tenets of evolution similarly to Catholicism, the exception possibly being Fundamentalist evangelical groups that rely on Creationism as an explanation of the origin of human beings: Ekklesia staff, “Churches Urged to Challenge Intelligent Design,” February 20, 2006, (accessed October 2, 2018).

  1. Christopher West, The Theology of the Body Explained: A Commentary on John Paul II’s “Gospel of the Body,” (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 2003), 67. John Paul II does not refer to myths as fables or stories of events that never happened; he defines the term in the context of modern thought, for example, as clarified by Giambattista Vico when stating that, Myths are not false narratives, nor are they allegories. They express the collective mentality of a given age. Alasdair MacIntyre, “Myth,” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. 5, (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1967), 435.
  2. In the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, the Catholic Church indicates that,” God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. “God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.” (CCC 1730). Quotation from the Pastoral Constitution appears in Gaudium et Spes 17; Sir 15:14.


Teachings About Specific Sins

Method note: This section incorporates exact words/terms (xt) that constitute sins, e.g., theft, killing, adultery, hypocrisy, and others that appear in the Gospels with their corresponding passages (p) and total space (sp). This category is the second of two independent categories that together comprise Sinfulness Total Space. The results in Table 2 show that Teachings about Specific Sins is also among the most significant categories after Righteousness, Faith, and Totals about Sinfulness. Tallying specific sins presents problems. There are passages in the Gospels indicating attitudes and behavior that Jesus does not identify by specific names despite being sinful. This is the case with the Selfishness/self-centeredness category; neither term appears in the texts, and yet Jesus regards both as among the worst sins. There are also specific behavior patterns that are related to selfishness/self-centeredness, for example, theft, greed, or tax collectors (whose sin is greed). At times, passages (p) count as 1xt, thus, xt and p often will be the same. This approach diminishes xt to a degree, but it appears to be the best possible method to tally each sinful behavior.

Moreover, some passages that appear in this category may have shown up under the previous Sinfulness as a Term category. In such cases, to avoid double-counting such passages have been eliminated. Hence, the totals for this category is the sum of each sin as they appear in Table 2 minus passages that have been eliminated to prevent double counting. Whenever the texts refer to specific sins, they are tallied and ranked by their names as independent categories.

  1. The hierarchy adds a nuanced explanation: even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 4, Pope Paul VI, November 1965. (accessed on October 4, 2018).


Anger and Hatred

Method note: This category involves words and passages that denote anger, hatred, cursing, mistreatment, despising, mocking, insulting, wounding, persecuting, arraigning, handing over, beating, kingdoms, and nations against each other, and similar instances. Despite their close relation, murder and killing constitute a separate category that may be added together to hatred if the reader so wishes, although in this section they are treated as separate categories. This section also includes passages that relate to the level of hatred and anger by the Pharisaic religious authorities and their followers and by the Roman authorities toward Jesus as well as his anger (perhaps even hatred) toward the Pharisees (Mk 3:1-5). It includes anti-Semitic sentiments shown by the authors of the Gospels. This behavior is included because the texts’ authors thought it was important to disclose that Jesus­’­s death is the result of these attitudes. The authors never say that Jesus’s crucifixion is sinful, although they implied in graphic terms the extent to which hatred can drive humans.

  1., online, s.v. “anger,” “hatred.”
  2. Although in John Jesus refers to his ‘commandments’ while addressing his disciples, other than to love one another (which is never stated regarding other people), he does not identify any other commandment.
  3. In the synoptics, the following passage appears, You will be hated by all because of my name, in a possible reference to the Parousia in Mark and Luke. Matthew, however, does not relate the passage to the Parousia. According to NEs, the phrase refers to each individual’s death (Note on Mt 10:22). Altogether, it becomes difficult to estimate the number and kind of people that the phrase hated by all refers to (MK 13:13, Lk 21:17, Mt 10:22).
  4. NEs suggest that the Spirit of Truth is a moral force put into a person by God, as opposed to the spirit of perversity. In John this Spirit is more personal; it will teach the realities of the new order (Jn 14:26) and testify to the truth (Jn 14:6). It is not clear how John’s Spirit of Truth differs from Natural Law that is said to be infused in every human being since birth and is supposed to be intuitively recognized.
  5. The cry of going to battle against Jesus’s enemies inspired the Christian Crusades in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. Relying on creative rhetoric, Pope Urban II delivered what Will Durant characterizes as the most influential speech in medieval history. Addressing his fellow French countrymen, Urban appealed to them to discard all hatred and quarrels and instead enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulcher; wrest that land from a wicked race, and subject it to yourselves…. The royal city, situated at the center of the earth, implores you to come to her aid. Undertake this journey eagerly for the remission of your sins and be assured of the reward of imperishable glory in the Kingdom of Heaven. The crowd replied God wills it. Citation in F. Ogg, Book of Medieval History, 1907, 282-8, in Will Durant, Vol IV, p. 587.

For the most part, Christianity has overcome this behavior. Although Islamic culture and its ideological component lag seven hundred years behind Christian theology, it appears that part of its leadership is making strides toward a more humanistic interpretation of the Quran. The term humanistic is defined in this work as meaning as increased caring and concern among human beings toward each other.



Method note: A Content Analysis of the category included words such as murder, killing death, blood, crucify, and perish, in addition to passages related to Jesus’s death. The tally of this category does not include instances that pertain to killings that Jesus attributes to God in his parables. Such retribution or punishment by God for sinful behavior will be analyzed under the Violence/non-violence and Justice categories.

  1. Kant’s imperative is attained through pure practical reason, suggesting that whatever is deemed to be good is because it is good in itself without necessitating other explanations (a variation of Natural Law). In the Gospels, Jesus voices God’s commandment that does not require any type of rational explanation since it is issued by divine mandate. Kant’s detailed discussion of categorical imperatives is found in chapter 2, Immanuel Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, 1785, online version in pdf, (accessed October 13, 2018).
  2. Instances of God killing humans abound in the Pentateuch and other parts of the Old Testament: Gen 6:5-8, 19:1-29, Ex 12:29-30, Lv 10:1-2, Nu 11:31-34, 16:30-32, 35, 21:2-3, 44-49, Deut 20:17, Joshua 6:17-20, in King James version.
  3. In Mark, passages related to killing appear 32xt; 17xt relate to Jesus’s killing and 15xt to criminal, thus sinful, acts. In Luke, 36xt, of which 16xt are about Jesus’s killing and 20xt related to sinfulness. In Matthew, 47xt, of which 23xt are about Jesus’s killing and 24xt concern sinfulness. In John, 30xt, of which 22xt are about Jesus’s killing and 8xt concern his teachings. Overall, words related to this category appear 145xt; 78xt refer to Jesus’s killing and 67xt to sinful behavior.
  4. For current conditions in cities worldwide, see Lianna Brinded (Business Insider), “The 33 cities with the worst quality of life in the world,” The Independent, May 20, 2016. Confirmation about the statement that about half the cities were in predominantly Christian nations is found on the internet, (accessed October 16, 2018). The research done in this study does not include countries in Latin America. Yet two reports indicate that conditions in this region are as bad as those in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East: Amanda Erickson, “Latin America is the world’s most violent region. A new report investigates why,” The Washington Post, April 25, 2018. (accessed October 16, 2018); “Latin America is the world’s most dangerous region. But it is turning a corner,” World Economic Forum, 14 Mar 2018. (accessed October 16, 2018). For a similar study on Europe see Lianna Brinded (Business Insider), “The 17 most unsafe cities in Europe,” The Independent, 25 February 2016, (accessed

October 16, 2018). Regarding the United States, where a conservative type of Christianity prevails, a 1997 report found to have equal validity today indicates that the United States clustered with other industrial countries in crime rate, but head and shoulders above the rest in violent death, because of the number of guns. Zack Beauchamp, “America doesn’t have more crimes than other rich countries. It just has more guns,” Vox, updated February 15, 2018. (accessed October 16, 2018). Studies also have been done about wars throughout history detailing the approximate number of deaths. Perhaps the most current detailed work on the subject is Matthew White, Atrocities: The 100 Deadliest Episodes in Human History, (NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013). For a quick online view, Lincoln Riddle, “Casualties of War – Deadliest Conflicts in Human History,” War History Online, June 2017, (accessed on October 15, 2018). It is also significant that among the deadliest conflicts, several have taken place in Asia (particularly in China) where Christianity has been unable to make inroads.

  1. Plato refers to the existence of abortion in his dialogue Theaetetus while describing the symbolic and actual role of the midwife: Plato, Theaetetus, trans. Benjamin Jowett, The Project Gutenberg EBook of Theaetetus, released online on November 17, 2008, (accessed October 25, 2018); Abortion was practiced on a regular basis among the poor, slave, merchant and royal classes. To ancient peoples and the Romans an abortion was amoral. There was nothing in Roman law or in the Roman heart that said, “It is wrong to kill your baby in the womb,” writes Sandra Sweeny Silver, “Ancient Roman Abortions & Christians,” Early Church History, (accessed October 25, 2018); also, Thomas Bokenkotter, A Concise History of the Catholic Church, Doubleday, 1990, p. 51, taken from “What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?” Christian Bible Reference Site, (accessed on October 25, 2018).
  2. Pope John Paul II recognized the gap, writing that the texts of Sacred Scripture never address the question of deliberate abortion and so do not directly and specifically condemn it. But they show such great respect for the human being in the mother’s womb that they require as a logical consequence that God’s commandment “You shall not kill” be extended to the unborn child as well. Evangelium Vitae: on the Value and Inviolability of Human Life, 61, Rome, March 25, 1995, (accessed on October 25, 2018). The Didache, a rudimentary catechism for believers written anonymously between the late first and early second centuries, is the first document that mentions abortion as sinful behavior: You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish,2,2, (accessed on October 25, 2018); also, the Letter of Barnabas, written between first and second centuries, considers abortion a crime: trans. J.B. Lightfoot, (19:5) Early Christian Writings, (accessed on October 25, 2018). See CCC 2270, 2271.
  3. The phrase a Christian reflection as applied to abortion appears in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae: on the Value and Inviolability of Human Life, 54, 55, given in Rome, March 25, 1995, (accessed on October 25, 2018).
  4. The concept of a Just War doctrine is part of the Catholic Catechism 2307-2317. In 2016 a Vatican conference hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace called for the rejection of the doctrine; Joshua J. McElwee, “Landmark Vatican conference rejects just war theory, asks for an encyclical on nonviolence,” National Catholic Reporter, Apr 14, 2016, (accessed on October 18, 2018). Despite its questioning by church authorities regarding its validity during the nuclear age, the doctrine remains in effect. The church’s moral view on individual self-defense and its distinction from murder appear in the Catholic Catechism 2263-2269. For the Catholic Church’s new position on the death penalty see, Chico Harlan, “Pope Francis changes Catholic Church teaching to say death penalty is ‘inadmissible’,” The Washington Post, August 2, 2018, (accessed on October 18, 2018).
  5. In Leviticus 24:10-16, God authorizes a blasphemer to be stoned to death. The texts do not point out that the religious authorities judged Jesus according to this passage; only that members of the Sanhedrin indicate that Jesus is blaspheming by taking upon himself prerogatives that belong to God, which they consider blasphemous.
  6. The same attitude is observed among reasonably intelligent persons that, as a result of cognitive dissonance or ideological stubbornness, reject the evidence provided by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community regarding climate change.



Method note: This category is an abstract construct. It brings together passages denoting selfishness and self-centeredness as observed in the Gospels that are in accordance with contemporary definitions. Unless specific words such as greed or envy appear, passages suggesting selfishness are tallied as 1xt. The (p) and (sp) tallies in this category are lower since they have been excluded to avoid double-counting, as they appear in the Sinfulness as Term category.

  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “selfishness,” “self-centered.” Some schools of thought regard selfishness as virtuous; Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, (New York: Signet/Penguin Random House, 1964); or as a natural, i.e., ‘normal’ human behavior, Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, originally published in 1651, (New York: Penguin Classics, 2017). As everything one does is usually done to attain desired ends, it is easy to conflate any type of behavior with acting selfishly; however, proceeding in this manner distorts the precise meaning of the term. In Christianity, selfishness considers other people almost exclusively as being less important or inferior to a selfish person. There is in selfishness an almost complete disregard for the wellbeing of others that is aptly described as caring only about oneself. This does not mean that it would be sinful to care about or be concerned with one’s desires, needs, or interests; such daily concerns is the trait of a self-sustaining responsible person.
  2. Although usury, long considered among the worse sins, is still unlawful in the United States and other countries, it has become legalized usury through political schemes. For example, in the United States, federal usury laws set limits to interest rates on borrowed money; however, laws and Supreme Court decisions allowing each state to write its own laws are used as legal means to circumvent limitations to interest rates charged by credit card companies and nationally chartered banks by registering in states where the highest interest rate is legally allowed. By these standards, the most usurious state in the United States is likely Delaware. Investopedia, “Usury Laws,” (accessed on October 6, 2018).

  1. Robert A. Stebbins, “The Social Psychology of Selfishness,” Canadian Review of Psychology, Vol 18, Issue 1, February 1981, 82-92, Wiley Online Library, The author writes, Selfishness is an imputation hurled at perceived self-seekers by their victims…. It may be understood as a violation of certain rules of etiquette or courtesy that relate to fairness and consideration of others…. In terms of common sense the moral standing of selfishness is clear: ‘It is one of the most generally agreed judgments of ordinary morality that unselfishness is to be commended and selfishness condemned (Downie and Telfer, 1969: 39).
  2. William Berry, LMHC., CAP., “You’re So Selfish,” Psychology Today, 16 April 2016,

Berry indicates that often people are unaware of selfishness. Along the lines of an evolutionary theory of human sinfulness, he points out that: Recent research indicates no decisive conclusion regarding whether humans are “fundamentally generous or greedy and whether these tendencies are shaped by our genes or environment.” (Robison, M; 2014). Studies seem to indicate we are both, and the reasons are genetic, evolutionary, and environmental.

  1. Cambridge Dictionary, online, s.v. “self-absorbed.”
  2. The priest and the Levite were religious representatives of Judaism who would have been expected to be models of “neighbor.” NEs’ note, Lk 10:31-32.
  3. Max Weber identified the ascribed relationship between Protestant values and capitalism early in the twentieth century in his book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, (London: Penguin Books, 2002); regarding Catholic apologists of American capitalism see Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, (New York: December 1990); George Weigel, ed., A New Worldly Order: John Paul II and Human Freedom, (Lanham: February 1992).
  4. While a macro-level outlook suggests that living standards are gradually increasing worldwide, multiple studies have concluded that economic inequality has risen as well. Increasing the inequality gap, aside from exacerbating inequities in health, education, mortality, environmental sustainability, and social upheavals, slows down economic growth and the process of lifting people out of poverty. “Reward Work, Not Wealth,” Oxfam, January 2018,; “Fiscal Monitor: Tackling Inequality,” International Monetary Fund (IMF), Washington, October 2017,; Era Dabla-NorrisKalpana KochharNujin SuphaphiphatFrantisek RickaEvridiki Tsounta, “Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality: A Global Perspective,” International Monetary Fund, (Washington, D.C.: 15 June 2015),; “World Inequality Report 2018,” The World Inequality Database, (all accessed 11 June 2018).

  1. In many countries under the semblance of being ‘just a game,’ children are subliminally taught about greed and avarice through games such as Monopoly, Monopoly Deal, Acquire, or the Game of Life.
  2. “Self-Interest,” Investopedia, An interesting take on economic behavior appears in David R. Henderson, “Income Inequality Isn’t the Problem,” Hoover Institution, 20 February 2018, (accessed 11 June 2018). Henderson argues that the trickle-down approach (that Jesus denounced in his parable about Lazarus and the Rich Man, Lk 16:19) is a most effective way to reduce poverty, or at least not to make it worse. He delves into economic behavior by observing that (based on self-interest economic behavior), if governments were to tax high incomes or wealth there would be fewer people trying to make high incomes and get wealthy. This rationale suggests that people would prefer to opt-out from making $10 million if they knew they would be left with only $6 million. This is akin to saying that the person would prefer not to eat an apple pie unless it can eat as much as he/she want to. This rationale indicates that self-interest as a driving force of progress may be also self-destructive. The study by Oxfam listed above, for example, illustrates that the wealth accrued by an insignificant number of billionaires in 2017 ($762 billion), was sufficient to end extreme poverty (those earning less than $1.90 per day) seven times over. p 10. Henderson, however, adds, seemingly complacent, that poverty worldwide has declined, so that fewer than one billion people now live in extreme poverty. Presumably, these must be great numbers; after all, it’s only one … billion, that live while earning, about $2.15 daily, a number that makes the use of the Gini coefficient approach economically pleasing, although physically, emotionally, and morally unsuitable.


Refusal to Accept Jesus or God – Conspiring Against God’s kingdom

Method note: This category, like the previous one, is constructed not based on specific words but rather on passages denoting Jesus’s denunciation of two sinful behaviors: refusal to accept Jesus or God and conspiring against God’s kingdom. As a result, in this category (as with other artificial categories) the number of (xt) is the same as the number of (p); space (sp), however, still refers to the total number of lines that selected passages occupy in the text. The term unbelief, suggesting a refusal to accept Jesus, and actively seeking to oppose God’s kingdom, are typical behaviors identified in this section. In the synoptics the term unbelief plays a minor role; not so in John’s Gospel where “to believe” or not is central to the text. I identified passages that indicate unbelief, and a few others that suggest that belief is necessary, thereby indicating that unbelief in John’s Gospel is considered sinful. To avoid duplicating the count, passages already included in the Sinfulness category are omitted in this section, a reason for which, likely, Refusal to accept Jesus or God/Conspiring against God’s kingdom will be undercounted in the overall ranking.

  1. Every poll that appears in this work has outlined the toll that Christianity has taken on account of secularization in the United States and Europe. In 2020, most people living in the most prosperous nations, Western and Eastern Europe, the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Australia felt that it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral; the opposite holds in less prosperous nations. Christine Tamir, Aidan Connaughton, Ariana Monique Salazar, “The Global Divide,” Pew Research Center, July 20, 2020, (accessed October 30, 2020). Already in 2015, Millennials in the United States (ages 22 to 37 in 2018) regarded Christmas as more cultural than a religious holiday, (forty percent of Millennials saw Christmas as a religious holiday compared with fifty-six percent for Baby Boomers): Michael Lipka, “Many Millennials see Christmas as more cultural than a religious holiday,” Pew Research Center, December 18, 2015, (accessed on December 13, 2018). Another Pew poll is indicative of this trend: “Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life,” Shrinking majority believes the biblical account of the birth of Jesus depicts actual events, December 12, 2017. (accessed December 13, 2018).


Egotism – Pride, Self-Righteousness, Hypocrisy

Method note: Searched words included, hypocrite, and instances that denote pride, arrogance, or self-righteousness. In cases where the word does not appear each passage is tallied as 1xt, 1p, and whatever line space it occupies at 2sp per line.

  1. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term (with a slightly different meaning) was first used in 1714. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “egotism.”
  2. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “hypocrisy,” “pride,” “self-righteousness.”
  3. Joseph Delaney, “Pride,” CE, Vol 12, (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911), (accessed online November 2, 2018).

  1. The kernel of democracy (in its broadest sense) lies in the conception that all citizens are equal before the law. Hence, whether through memes, ethos, or long-standing norms, citizens in a democracy abhor anyone (particularly public elected officials or wealthy people) who boasts of being superior to them. In this sense, the term elitism at times is understood to be synonymous with snobbishness and is particularly disliked too.
  2. The relationship between U.S. President Donald Trump and his most ardent followers appears to be an exception to this view. President Trump, more than any other president in the history of the nation, boasted about being superior to anyone else, whether military leaders, politicians, elites, scientists, or financiers. He might be considered the most conceited politician in US history as indicated by his populist speeches. Nonetheless, boasting about his supposed superiority appears to have pleased his followers who seemed thrilled to feel inferior to him.
  3. Jesus possibly meant to say, “do not be like the hypocrites,” as in (Mt 6:2, 5, 16).
  4. Jillian Jordan, Roseanna Sommers, Paul Bloom, David G. Rand, “Why Do We Hate Hypocrites? Evidence for a Theory of False Signaling,” SSRN (formerly Social Science Research Network), January 11, 2017, (accessed online November 3, 2018). For an interesting study about hypocrisy seen from a series of scientific behavioral studies see, Olga Khazan, “Inside the Mind of a Hypocrite,” The Atlantic, June 21, 2017, (accessed online November 4, 2018).


Sinful Sexuality

Method note: This category considers attitudes and behavior (including thought or feelings) that Jesus deemed to be sinful, such as divorce, adultery, lust, licentiousness, and prostitution, each of which appears in Table 2. No other act, such as premarital sex, orgies, rape, masturbation, sadomasochism, child molestation, incest, oral sex, anal sex, or bestiality are mentioned in the Gospels. The terms searched included any word or passage denoting divorce, adultery, lust, licentiousness, or prostitution.

  1. Chapters 15 and 18 in Leviticus are the prototypes of God’s attempt to regulate sexual behavior by divine edicts that provided harsh penalties including death by stoning and strangulation. Such deterrence seems to have had little effect on human behavior (or perhaps it may have slowed down its ill-effects). Some of these regulations and punishments possibly have done more to create anxiety disorders than to eliminate the proscribed behavior. Practices dealing with sexual cleanliness dictated in Leviticus 15, for example, today would likely lead to an obsessive-compulsive disorder, and possibly could provide effective natural birth control methods, i.e., abstinence, by regarding as filthy what is a natural biological function. Leviticus 18 deals mostly with the prohibition of incest or sexual intercourse with close relatives, adultery, and bestiality, but does not mention pedophilia. Today, Christian heads would spin upon learning that the allegory in Ezekiel 16:3-8 suggests that a girl entering puberty (between 10-12 years) may have sexual intercourse. Among the regulations, cross-dressing is forbidden (Deut 22:5). In Exodus, God tolerates bigamy as Sarah, Abraham’s wife who is unable to have children, gives her maid, Hagar, to him as a wife, and advises him to have intercourse with her; Abraham and Hagar paid dearly for following her recommendation (Gen 16), after which God decides to miraculously impregnate Sarah and continue with the Jewish branch of descendants (Gen 21:1-8). The Song of Songs is another allegory, detailing the beauty of love. Chapter 7, dealing with the splendor of woman and lovemaking upgrades eroticism to virtuous levels, although it may very well be forbidden in today’s Christian and public high schools.
  2. Because of the importance ascribed to the institution of marriage, all Christian denominations likely prefer that divorce would never happen. Cultural reality, however, has imposed changes in the regulation of marriage. Protestant Christianity allows divorce, some denominations being laxer than others. The Catholic hierarchy consents to a de facto or civil divorce insofar as none of the spouses remarry without first having the marriage annulled. Annulment, however, is a post-Jesus formulation that seeks to find a human aspect that might have invalidated the union, thus a decision that sacramental (not physical or emotional) marriage never existed in the first place. Nonetheless, despite consenting to a civil divorce, Catholicism considers divorce a grave offense and immoral¸ although like other denominations, it does not equally blame the spouse that is unjustly abandoned by the other. CCC 2384-2386.
  3. In Matthew, Jesus leaves room for divorce if the previous marriage is unlawful (Mt 19:9).
  4. Thomas Aquinas, “Question 154, Article 3, The parts of lust,” Summa Theologica, II/II, (accessed online December 6, 2018).


Betraying Jesus

Method note: This section searched passages showing how Judas Iscariot was characterized in the Gospel in contrast with Peter. Mark’s passages about Judas’s betrayal are 3:19, 14:10-11, 14:17-21, 14:42-46; Luke’s passages are 6:16, 22:1-6, 22:21-23, 22:47-48; Matthew’s passages are 10:4, 26:14-16, 26:21-25, 26:47-49, 27:3-5; John’s passages are 6:64, 6:70, 12:4, 13:1-2, 13:10-11, 13:21-27, 18:1-5, 21:20. Mark’s passages about Peter’s denial are 14:28-31, 14:66-72; Luke’s passages are 22:31-34, 22:54-62, Matthew’s passages are 26:31-35, 26:69-75; John’s passages are 13:36-38, 18:15-18, 18:25-27.

  1. A rough evaluation based on today’s American silver dollar (99.93 percent silver weighing 1oz) suggests that at 2020 prices averaging $12 per ounce, thirty silver coins would fetch around $360.
  2. In John’s Gospel, Mary appears to be Lazarus’s and Martha’s sister. In the other Gospels, the woman is not named and is described as a sinful person. NEs’ note, John 12:1-8. Once again, the oral transmission fails to deliver as the voice of God.
  3. In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke provides a different account, indicating that he died an accidental death: He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out (Acts 1:18). Still, another instance of divine revelation being revealed differently.



Method note: Search on this category was limited to the term blasphemy and its corresponding passages.

  1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, online, s.v. “blasphemy.” Synonyms include denigrate, disparage, bad-mouth, or deprecate.
  2. The Catechism of the Catholic Church considers blasphemy to be gravely illicit, in and of (itself), independently of circumstances and intentions (CCC 1756) as it is contrary to the second commandment. Depending on the situation, all Christian denominations probably would regard blasphemy as a serious sin. It must be said, however, that throughout the ages some cultures have incorporated phraseology that disparages religions, God, or Jesus to the extent that people might not even be aware that they are ‘bad-mouthing’ the divine.
  3. Pope John Paul II dealt with the specificity of this sin in Dominum et Vivificantem – On the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World, no. 46, Rome: May 18, 1986. (accessed on December 15, 2018).
  4. Thomas Aquinas, “Question 14 – Of Blasphemy Against The Holy Ghost, Article. 3 – Whether the sin against the Holy Ghost can be forgiven?” Summa Theologica, II/II, p 2778 in pdf format.  (accessed online September 25, 2018).

  1. “Blasphemy,Jewish Virtual Library, (accessed on December 15, 2018).
  2. In Matthew, the Pharisees call Jesus an agent of the demon (Mt 12:24); in Mark, it is the scribes; and in Luke is someone among a crowd (Lk 11:15). This is another example of the inaccuracies that God has allowed to permeate the Gospels.
  3. According to the religious authorities, Jesus drives demons by the power of Beelzebul, not by the holy Spirit. It is Jesus, however, who says, that their remarks were against the holy Spirit.
  4. According to John’s Gospel, the religious authorities accuse Jesus of blasphemy for making himself the son of God. Jesus engages them saying, Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecratedand sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? (Jn 10:34-36). The Jewish authorities fail to understand (or reject) this point, and there is mutual recrimination. Irrational behavior cannot be excluded from the authorities’ actions, presuming they have witnessed Jesus’s miracles and still refuse to accept him (John 10:32).


The Lesser Sins

Method note: Search in the next categories was limited to specific words denoting the sin, and to passages indicating a direct relationship.


Inducing Others to Sin

Method note: Tallying this category is limited to passages in which Jesus specifically mentions this type of sin.

  1. NEs point out that it is the location of the passage relative to the previous one dealing with children (Mt 18:1-5) that may lead the reader to make such a connection. NEs add that, it is difficult to know how Matthew understood the logical connection between these verses (Note on Mt 18:8-9).In Mark and Luke, there is no such connection although both authors stress the seriousness of inducing others to sin (Mk 9:42-48, Lk 17:1-2).
  2. Although John Paul II and Benedict XVI sought to silence and disregard some notable Liberation Theology writers, Pope Francis has rehabilitated some of them, personally meeting with Gustavo Gutierrez, among the first ones to write on the issue of sinful structures.
  3. Andrew Basden, “The Variety of Structural Evil in Western Society,” (accessed on December 19, 2018).

  1. Sinful social structures existed, and continue to exist, in dictatorial countries with a communist past. Scarcity of resources, due to planned misallocations and corruption resulted in the flourishing of the black market, in which people were ‘forced’ to engage in lying and stealing to lessen their impoverished conditions.


Sinning with the Hand, Foot, or Eye

Method note: Tallying this category is limited to passages in which Jesus specifically mentions this type of sin.


Harboring Evil Thoughts

Method note: Tallying this category is limited to passages that cite the specific sin.


Dishonoring One’s Parents

Method note: Tallying this category is limited to passages that cite the specific sin.

  1. In their note on John 2:4, NEs point out that although the term woman, is a normal, polite form of address, it is highly unusual (unattested) in reference to one’s mother. Jesus’s reply, How does your concern affect me? is a Hebrew expression of either hostility (Jgs 11:122 Chr 35:211 Kgs 17:18) or denial of common interest (Hos 14:92 Kgs 3:13). Cf. Mk 1:245:7used by demons to Jesus.


Making False Oaths

Method note: Tallying this category is limited to passages that cite the specific sin.


  1. Swearing by YHWH could be used as a synonym of adhering to Him. Menachem Elon, “Oath,” Encyclopedia Judaica, in Jewish Virtual Library, (accessed on December 28, 2018).
  2. An oath, says the Catholic Catechism, is the invocation of the divine name as a witness to truth, and cannot be taken unless in truth, in judgment, and in justice. CCC 2153, 2154.
  3. In 1975 Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons recorded the pop song Swearin’ to God to high acclaim; OMG (Oh my God) has become part of texting acronyms nowadays; and the word god, supposedly referencing the Almighty, has become a casual expression denoting sexual ecstasy.



Method note: Tallying this category entails identifying passages that denote folly.

  1. Oxford Dictionary, online; Cambridge Dictionary; Merriam-Webster Dictionary, online, s.v. “folly.”


7 – Contemporary Significant Categories

Method note: As may be noticed in Table 2, the Contemporary Significant Categories are not tallied or ranked, namely because they do not owe their origin to the Gospels. Instead, they emerge due to later developments led in many instances by non-Christians. Nonetheless, the case can be made that certain passages or values observed in the texts present indirect parallels suggesting that Jesus’s teachings may not necessarily oppose the temporal recognition of these categories.

  1. Oxford Dictionary, online, s.v. “evolution.”
  2. The Gospels, and the rest of the New Testament, cannot be considered either progressive, liberal, conservative, or traditionalist by today’s standards. These seem to be ideological positions that Christians assume based on preferences related to their understanding of the scriptures, their fears and insecurities, their self-righteousness, and above all, because of the incongruences found in the texts that lead each group to their own interpretations.


On Temporal Freedom

  1. The Catholic Catechism defines freedom as the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one’s own responsibility, thus referring to it as free will, by which one shapes one’s own life (CCC 1731). Temporal freedom is defined in its last paragraph in the section as the respect that all humans owe to each other to the right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, as an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person that must be recognized and protected by civil authority(CCC 1738). Martin Luther also saw freedom, not in terms of its external behavior, but as originating internally as a desire to do God’s will, for which the self needs to be disciplined by subjugating anything that detracts from Christ’s teachings. Rev. Travis Loeslie, “On the Freedom of a Christian,”, March 20, 2016, (accessed January 10, 2020).

  1. Bernard Green, Christianity in Ancient Rome: The First Three Centuries, (London: T & T Clark, 2010); an overview of the period is presented by James W. Ermatinger, Daily Life of Christians in Ancient Rome, (Westport: Greenwood, 2006); for reasons and extent of persecutions see Will Durant, Vol. III, Chapter XXX; as for the scale of martyrdom by early Christians see Candida Moss, The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom,(San Francisco: Harper One, 2014).
  2. Aurelius Augustine, The City of God, trans. Rev. Marcus Dods, M.A., (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1871), Project Gutenberg’s, (accessed January 10, 2020).
  3. There are three instances in the Gospels (Lk 15:11-14, Mt 20:1-16, Jn 2:9-10) in which the word free appears. The word seems to be used colloquially, i.e., without impediments, in Luke and John. However, in Matthew, Jesus’s Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard places God in the position of acting freely to choose between being generous with his money if he so chooses. This seems to be the only indication of free will in the Gospels.
  4. NEs’ note, John 8:35. Ishmael was the son of Abraham and Hagar, a slave woman, who eventually is set free. Isaac was Abraham’s son with Sarah; he was set to be sacrificed under God’s orders to test Abraham’s faith but was set free from his binding at the last minute.
  5. Temporally speaking, there is little doubt that even if free will is humanly impossible, civil society would have had to create it (as it has done), since without it there would be no accountability for human behavior and laws would be rendered meaningless, in effect returning humanity to a beastly state of nature.
  6. Thomas Aquinas, Summa, Part I-II, Q 90, A 4.
  7. Popes Eugene IV in his bull Sicut Dudum in 1435 is critical of the enslavement of black natives, and Paul III in a pontifical decree Sublimis Deus in 1537 addresses the human condition of the Indians in South America. Other popes, including Gregory XIV in 1591, Urban VIII in 1639, Innocent XI (1691-1700), Benedict XIV (1741), Pius VII (1815), and Gregory XVI (1838) continued their denunciations of slavery. Fr. Joel S. Panzer, “The Popes and Slavery: Setting the Record Straight,”, (accessed January 5, 2020). Francisco de Vitoria, a Catholic theologian writing in the sixteenth century (way before the Golden Age of the Enlightenment), follows in the footsteps of Aquinas but makes unprecedented inroads in the concept of temporal freedom by writing (still within the confines of Natural Law) about popular sovereignty or the natural freedom of the peoples, and arguing in favor of the rights of aborigines in the Americas to be free from slavery. Francisco de Vitoria (1557), De Indis De Jure Belli, Relectiones Theologicae XII; Part 2– On the Indians Lately Discovered, ed ca. 1917 James Brown Scott, (New York: Wildy & Sons Ltd, 1964), (accessed January 14, 2020). Francisco Suarez, another theologian, writing in the seventeenth century defends the right of aborigines to not be coerced into accepting the Christian faith (although heretics could), and rejects the power of the temporal monarch and that of the pope to abrogate any proper precept of natural law, nor truly and essentially restrict such a precept, nor grant a dispensation from it. He goes further to declare that by virtue of the very fact that he is created and has the use of reason—possesses power over himself and over his faculties and members for their use, man is naturally free possessing too the faculty of self-government, in consequence whereof it also possesses power and a peculiar dominion over its own members. Francisco Suarez, A Treatise on Laws and God the Lawgiver (1612), first quote from Ch 14.8, 15; second quote from Ch 3.6, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2015), (accessed January 14, 2020).

9.. John Arendzen, “Manichæism,” CE, Vol.9, (Accessed January 19, 2020); William Barry, “Arianism,” CE, Vol. 1, (accessed January 14, 2020); Adrian Fortescue, “The Eastern Schism,” CE, Vol. 13, < (accessed January 14, 2020); Nicholas Weber, “Cathari,” CE, Vol. 3,

(accessed January 14, 2020); Weber, Nicholas, “Waldenses.” CE, Vol. 15, (accessed January 14, 2020); Francis Urquhart, “John Wyclif,” CE, Vol. 15, (accessed January 14, 2020); Joseph Wilhelm, “Jan Hus,” CE Vol.7, (accessed January 14, 2020); Johann Peter Kirsch, “Girolamo Savonarola,” CE, Vol. 13, ` (accessed January 14, 2020);

  1. Joan Acocella, How Martin Luther Changed the World,” The New Yorker, October 23, 2017, (accessed January 21, 2020). On the unintended effects of wildfires, Laurie L. Dove, “How does a forest fire benefit living things?,”, (accessed January 20, 2020); T. J. Blackman, “The Ecological Benefits of Forest Fires,”, (accessed January 20, 2020).

  1. On the Protestant Reformation in general, see Durant, The Reformation, Vol VI, Books I, II; Hans J. Hillerbrand, The Reformation: A Narrative History Related by Contemporary Observers and Participants, (Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, reprint edition 1981); Henry Ganss, “Martin Luther,”CE, Vol. 9, (accessed January 14, 2020); Klemens Löffler, “Pope Leo X,” CE Vol. 9, (accessed January 14, 2020); Richard P. McBrien, “Leo X, The Lives of the Popes, pp. 272-274, (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1997).

  1. Leo Gershoy, The French Revolution and Napoleon, Chapters 2, 3, (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1964).
  2. Declaration of Independence: A Transcription, National Archives, (accessed January 15, 2020).
  3. Gregory Fremont-Barnes, Encyclopedia of the Age of Political Revolutions and New Ideologies, 1760–1815, (Westport:

Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007),  p. 190, (accessed January 15, 2020).

  1. There is Spanish writer Josefa Amar (1749–1833). Her charges in a male-dominated Spanish society on men’s discriminatory and enslaving practices against women, and her willingness to publicly question the Catholic Church’s values on women, would be the envy of Western feminist movements that would realize how late they came into the public mainstream. Josefa Amar y Borbón, “Discourse in defense of the talent of women, their aptitude for governing, and other positions in which men are employed,” 1786, Antología del Ensayo, Edición de Carmen Chaves Tesser (basada en la versión publicada en Memorial Literario VIII, No. 32 [Agosto de 1876]: 400-430), publicada en Dieciocho 3.2 (1980): 144-159, (accessed January 16, 2020); Luigi Muratori (1672-1750), Catholic priest and theologian who was regarded as a thorn in Rome for his views, showed his independent-minded attitude by questioning limitations posed by the papacy on freedom regarding religious matters. Johann Peter Kirsch, “Luigi Antonio Muratori.” CE, Vol. 10, (accessed January 16, 2020); and theologian Ferdinand Sterzinger who along with a few others led a crusade against superstition, namely the belief in the existence of witches and the possibility of humans making pacts with the devil. These and other prominent members of a Catholic Enlightenment are the subject of a book: Ulrich L. Lehner, The Catholic Enlightenment: The Forgotten History of a Global Movement, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.)
  2. McBrien, “Benedict XIV,” p. 323.
  3. Ibid., p. 325.
  4. Ibid, pp. 329-330.
  5. United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (accessed January 3, 2020); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (accessed January 3, 2020); International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, (accessed January 3, 2020).

  1. For decades the Catholic hierarchy viewed the rights being approved in these documents with distrust. Although temporal freedoms are defended during the Second Vatican Council in 1965 in Gaudium et Spes (nos. 26, 41, 60, 68, 71, 73-76, 88), and despite that Christianity owes its earthly existence in no small part to legalized protections promoted by secular bodies, there is no mention whatsoever of the term human rights in the pastoral constitution. The Catholic hierarchy made a turnabout years later by fully endorsing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In his address to the General Assembly in 1979, Pope John Paul II called it the “fundamental document,” the “basic inspiration and cornerstone of the United Nations Organization,” and a “milestone on the long and difficult path of the moral progress.” Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, on “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Foundations, Achievements and Violations,” United Nations Headquarters, New York, 4 December 2018, Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, (accessed January 13, 2020). In 2020, Pope Francis’s encyclical letter on Fraternity and Social Friendship added to the Catholic Church’s teachings on social and political philosophy based on secular realities. Pope Francis’s thinking seems to be that there are moral values within secular society that might be worth exploring. Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, Assisi, October 3, 2020, (accessed October 6, 2020).


On Slavery

  1. “Why was slavery allowed in the Old Testament?”, (accessed January 4, 2020).
  2. A cursory search in shows that in the NABRE version, which is the one being utilized in this work, the term slave occurs 21xt in the Gospels while the term servant shows up 85xt; in the 21st Century King James Version, however, the term slave is non-existent while servant shows up 97xt (results for the traditional King James Version are similar). Other versions show similar results: in the Christian Standard Bible the term slave in the Gospels occur only 6xt while the number for servant is 102xt; in the Evangelical Heritage Version the results are 5xt for slave and 110xt for servant; in the International Children’s Bible, 7xt for slave and 140xt for servant; in the American Standard Version, 0xt for slave and 92xt for servant. Differences are notably more striking when contrasting slave and servant in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament version of the American Standard Bible, the term slave appears only 3xt; in the King James Versions, servant occurs 739xt. A reason why many Bible versions prefer not to use the term slave and instead rely on bondage or bondservant may be that today bondage does not seem to have the same evil connotation as slavery. Note: Content Analysis results in this work are not based on numbers provided by Instead, I rely on my own process that eliminates the terms from headings and subheadings, thereby making my count more accurate.
  3. Augustine, for example, follows in the steps of Paul acknowledging the reality of slavery as being a punishment for sin enforceable by natural law. Although he argued against cruel treatment, he added that, despite being physically enslaved, humans can nevertheless remain spiritually free. Margaret Mary, “Slavery in the Writings of St. Augustine,” The Classical Journal, vol. 49, no. 8, 1954, pp. 363–369. JSTOR, (accessed January 5, 2020); John Chrysostom argues that slavery is the product of sin too, the fruit of covetousness, of degradation, of savagery, and preaches against unfair treatment, though he does not call for its abolition. “Homily XXII, Ephesians vi. 5–8,” (accessed January 5, 2020); Thomas Aquinas adds to Augustine’s views. He states that slavery is a conditionof the body, since a slaveis to the master a kind of instrument in working. He indicates that some types of slavery are ordained by nature (through positive law), although slaves in some circumstances possess some rights. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, “Question 52. The impediment of the condition of slavery,” CE, (accessed January 5, 2020).
  4. Initial denunciations begin with Pope Eugene IV in his bull Sicut Dudum in1435 on the enslavement of black natives, and Pope Paul III in a pontifical decree Sublimis Deus in 1537 on the human condition of the Indians in South America. However, between these two papacies, Nicholas V issues a bull in 1452, Dum Diversas, to the king of Portugal in which he supposedly authorizes the enslavement (or imprisonment) in perpetuity of all Saracens conquered in North Africa. “Dum Diversas (English Translation)” Unam Sanctam Catholicam, February 5, 2011, (accessed January 21, 2020); Gregory XIV in 1591, Urban VIII in 1639, Innocent XI (1691-1700), Benedict XIV (1741) and Pius VII (1815), and Gregory XVI (1838) furthered their denunciations of slavery against Christian traders despite opposition to the latter by the American hierarchy. Fr. Joel S. Panzer, “The Popes and Slavery: Setting the Record Straight,”, (accessed January 5, 2020). Fray Bartolome de las Casas, a Dominican Friar, persuaded Emperor Charles V in 1542 to approve the New Laws of the Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians, although the laws were met with stiff resistance by slaveholders in the Americas and eventually were abrogated. Christopher Minster, Ph.D., “Spain and the New Laws of 1542,”, September 3, 2018, (accessed January 21, 2020).

  1. English, French, Dutch, and Portuguese shipping companies participated in the selling of African blacks. The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) allowed Spain to transfer the rights to supply Spanish colonies with slaves from France to England. The English took over two million negroes to America between 1680 and 1786. Durant, Vol. 9, pp. 67-68. Slavery is abolished in Portugal in 1773 but allowed to continue in its colonies. Durant, Vol 10, p. 269. In Denmark, slavery was legal within the country until 1792, becoming the first European nation to abolish it in its territories. Ibid, p. 649. The French Chamber of Commerce quote is found in Durant, Vol. X, p. 935.
  2. Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes, no. 29, (accessed January 5, 2020).

  1. Sheep, cattle, men-servants, and maid-servants were all possessions to be sold as it pleased their masters. Durant, Vol. VI, P. 449. Martin Luther, “The Freedom of a Christian Man,The Protestant Reformation, Hans J. Hillerbrand ed., (New York; Harper & Row, 1968), pp. 4-28.
  2. “’All Things Turned Upside Down’” – Calvin on Slavery,” Political Theology Network, January 30, 2014, January 21, 2020).

  1. Somewhat detached from the Reformation Movement, Katharine Gerbner presents the concept of Protestant Supremacy, a mixture of Bible Christianity, politics, and economics, that leads to support of the practice in the Americas. Slaveholders even oppose the religious conversion of slaves because they deemed them unworthy of the faith Missionaries seeking their conversion end up becoming entangled in the practice in order to accomplish their objectives. Katharine Gerbner, Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018).
  2. Durant, Vol. X, pp. 732-733; on Wesley, Vol. IX, pp. 133-137.
  3. Ibid, p. 645.
  4. This point is well argued in Thomas N Tyson, David Oldroyd, “Accounting for slavery during the Enlightenment: Contradictions and interpretations,” Sage, March 19, 2018. (accessed January 7, 2020).

They indicate that slave owners endorsed those Enlightenment principles which stressed national well-being, moral development, economic progress, and work discipline to sustain their business models, maintain their lavish lifestyles, bolster their views on the superiority of the White race, or simply to counter abolitionists. Alternatively, the clear majority of those calling for the end of slavery consistently prioritized the principles of humanity, justice, benevolence, and virtue. Slave owners invoked the utilitarian/pragmatic side of the Enlightenment in the abolition debates, whereas abolitionists emphasized the more abstract humanist/moral dimension. The Enlightenment ideal of the natural rights of man played a key role in the abolition of the slave trade by Britain and the United States toward the end of the period (1807) and in the later abolition of slavery altogether (1834 in the British Empire and 1863 in the United States); notwithstanding that, former slaves were rarely afforded the rights and opportunities that were commensurate to those of the White citizenry.

  1. John Locke, Two Treatises of Government,ed. Thomas Hollis (London: A. Millar et al., 1764).,, (accessed January 6, 2020).
  2. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “John Locke,” revised May 1, 2018, (accessed January 7, 2020).
  3. Rosseau states, seemingly unequivocally, that from whatever aspect we regard the question, the right of slavery is null and void, not only as being illegitimate, but also because it is absurd and meaningless (Ch 4). However, he argues his views from the perspective of natural law and political submission to authority, without expressing opposition to race-based slavery. On the other hand, he is forgiving of the Christian religion for not opposing other types of slavery (indicating his lack of awareness to denunciations by the popes), since Christianity as a religion is entirely spiritual, occupied solely with heavenly things (Ch 8). Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract and Discourses, trans G.D.H. Cole (London and Toronto: J.M. Dent and Sons, 1923, (accessed January 7, 2020). Montesquieu is critical of slavery, indicating, the state of slavery is, in its own nature, bad. It is neither useful to the master nor to the slave; not to the slave, because he can do nothing through a motive of virtue; nor to the master, because, by having an unlimited authority over his slaves, he insensibly accustoms himself to the want of all moral virtues, and from thence becomes fierce, hasty, severe, choleric, voluptuous, and cruel (Book XV.1). Despite being critical of racism by Christian predators (Book XV.4), he nonetheless favors a form of natural slavery that is to be limited to some particular parts of the world, since in all other countries, even the most servile drudgeries may be performed by freemen (Book XV.8), while arguing that the system ought to be regulated to prevent abuses (Book XV.10). For references to Hume, Spinoza, and Kant, see Chris Meyns, “Why Don’t Philosophers Talk About Slavery?” Essays, October 2018,, (accessed January 7, 2020). Marxism also had little influence in advancing the abolition of race-based slavery in Europe and the United States in the nineteenth century, largely because it did not oppose it on moral grounds. In its analysis, Marxism incorporates its denunciation of slavery in terms of a nefarious socio-economic component of rogue capitalist structures that contributed to wealth. Furthermore,, its atheist underpinnings and its attacks on private property were seen as challenging the very ideological and political foundations of these countries. A sample writing of Marxist denunciation of slavery appears in Ken Lawrence, Karl Marx on American Slavery,, (accessed January 7, 2020).

  1. Meyns.
  2. Megan Gannon, “Race is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue, Live Science, February 5, 2016,, (accessed January 7, 2020).
  3. The Thomas Reuters Foundation indicates that human slavery takes different forms today, such as prostitution, forced labor, begging, criminality, domestic servitude, forced marriage, and organ removal. India has the largest number of slaves globally, with 8 million, followed by China (3.86 million), Pakistan (3.19 million), North Korea (2.64 million), Nigeria (1.39 million), Iran (1.29 million), Indonesia (1.22 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1 million), Russia (794,000) and the Philippines (784,000). Arantxa Underwood, “Which countries have the highest rates of modern slavery and most victims?” Thomas Reuters Foundation, July 30, 2018, (accessed January 7, 2020).


On Equality

  1. Joseph Castro, “Do Animals Murder Each Other,”, September 16, 2017, (accessed July 31, 2020).

  1. Sex differences in personality and behavior are real, argues psychologist David P. Schmitt, “The Truth About Sex Differences,” Psychology Today, November 7, 2017, (accessed August 1, 2020); Diane F. Halpern, past president of the American Psychological Association, agrees in, Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities: 4th Edition, (not read), (London: Psychology Press, 2013);

Bruce Goldman, “Two Minds – The cognitive differences between men and women,” (accessed August 1, 2020). The research on this topic on the internet is extensive as well as some of its conclusions.

  1. “What does it mean to be human,” Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, January 17, 2020, (accessed January 23, 2020).
  2. The Catholic Church affirms that Christ died for all men without exception: “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.” CCC 605.
  3. In John’s Gospel the message is somewhat different but the authors directed it (decades later) to everyone, not only to the Jewish people: Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name (Jn 20:30).
  4. Based on the xt count of the three words, I took an average of other categories exhibiting as high as 190xt and as low as 100 xt to suggest possible numbers for p and sp. Additionally, as a real tally, utilizing the term whoever in John’s Gospel alone, its numbers would increase from 5xt/4p/18sp to 44xt/24p.100sp. Nonetheless, it does not change the view that equality in the Gospels is for the most part a supernatural and not a temporal term.


On Democracy

  1. Politics is being defined in this work akin to Harold Laswell’s classic, Politics: Who Gets What, When, and How, (New York: The World Publishing Company, Twelfth printing 1972); however, the definition in this work goes beyond Laswell’s study of specific elites as influencers. The involuntary role of the masses, the media, foreign and domestic events, and random groups that appear in the political scene as reactions to social issues, among others, in my view find little consideration in Laswell’s work, yet they wield considerable influence in the political process.
  2. This is a description of values observed within most democratic republics, and does not apply to a specific nation.
  3. Catholics and Protestants objected to the democratic model, as they all opposed any political system that could dilute their theocracies in Europe. Pope Gregory XVI (1832) condemned freedom of conscience, freedom of the press, separation of church and state, and religious liberty while supporting temporal monarchical authority, despite denouncing slavery and the slave trade. McBrien, pp. 338-339. In 1864, Pope Pius IX reiterated Gregory’s denunciations and created the Syllabus of Errors, a compendium of statements deemed to be erroneous, such as rationalism, liberalism, religious liberty, secularism, and Protestantism. Ibid., p. 346. In Europe, although Protestants were not in total agreement with the papacy, it should be noted that the first signs of democratic principles appear in the United States, Britain, and France in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when slavery is abolished, women’s suffrage becomes legalized, and all (adult) citizens are allowed to vote. In the United States, the basis of democracy expressed as one man or woman, one vote, does not take place until the passing of the 13th Amendment (1865) forbidding slavery, the 14th Amendment (1868) granting citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, the 15th Amendment (1870) denying the right to vote on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, and the 19th Amendment (1920) guaranteeing women the right to vote.


On LGBTQ Rights

  1. In writing this section I have had to carefully navigate through the maze of new terms used to deal with the issue of gay rights. I realize that the term homosexual has been used in the past in a derogatory fashion and have sought to avoid it except when I am extracting the term as it is discussed in a publication. Neither English dictionaries nor the thesauruses have been updated regarding proper terminology. It is understood in this work that gay sexuality, for sake of simplicity, refers to lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons as expressed through the acronym LGBTQ.
  2. Ancient Greece and Rome have often been invoked as models of advanced civilizations that accorded same-gender relations considerably higher status and freedom of display than most subsequent Western societies did until very recently, writes Thomas K. Hubbard (ed.) in his Preface. Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: A Sourcebook of Basic Documents, First Edition, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003); he argues, however, that acceptance did not mean there were no disagreements among writers, orators, artists, poets, and philosophers regarding the issue. His book discusses each period followed by actual documents that were written at the time, containing depictions of art expressing gay behavior, including pederasty. The Didache, a primitive version of a Christian catechism written between the end of the first century and beginning of the second century CE, although non-canonical, contains a brief phrase prohibiting sodomy. However, although it may be assumed that the prohibition included same-sex relations, there are no references to gay behavior or other sexual practices indulged by heterosexuals. The Didache, (accessed August 21, 2020). A different translation is more specific; instead of sodomy, it explicitly states the prohibition of pederasty, which is defined as sexual activity between a man and a boy. The Didache,, (accessed August 21, 2020).
  3. Craig A. Williams, Roman Homosexuality: Second Edition, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), p 307, note 34.
  4. Ibid., p 393, note 182.
  5. See footnote 2, Sexual Sins category.
  6. If sexual orientation were to be a matter of personal choice, heterosexual people could easily choose to become gay, however, it does not seem to happen. The question of sexual orientation has been the subject of numerous scientific studies. Among the most recent ones regarding the historical data is, Julien BarthesPierre-André Crochet, and Michel Raymond, “Male Homosexual Preference: Where, When, Why?” PLos One, August 12, 2015, (accessed January 29, 2020); another study, this one attesting to the non-existence of a ‘gay gene,’ was led by Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jonathan Lambert, No ‘gay gene’: Massive study homes in on genetic basis of human sexuality,” August 29, 2019, (accessed January 29, 2020). Neither the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Academy of Science nor its Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences has issued scientifically-peer reviewed conclusions on the issue.

  1. Aengus Carroll, “State-Sponsored Homophobia: a World Survey of Sexual Orientation Laws: Criminalization, Protection, and Recognition,” 11th ed., October 2016, International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex


(accessed January 29, 2020).

  1. The Global Divide on Homosexuality, Pew Research Center, June 4, 2013, (accessed January 29, 2020).

  1. Same-Sex Marriage Around the World, Pew Research Center, October 28, 2019, (accessed January 29, 2020).
  2. David Masci, Michael Lipka, “Where Christian churches, other religions stand on gay marriage,” Pew Research Center, Fact Tank, December 21, 2015, (accessed January 29, 2020).
  3. Some people believe that Satan is behind the rise of homosexuality, and link the threatening advance of Islam too, to the spread of homosexuality. Steve Jalsevac, “MUST VIEW: Peter Kreeft on the simultaneous rise of homosexuality and Islam,” November 30, 2018, (accessed January 29, 2020).
  4. Non-fundamentalists regard the story of creation in Genesis to be a mythical narrative about a real event.
  5. In 2020 Pope Francis indicated that while the Catholic doctrine regarding same-sex behavior as sinful continues to be upheld, he favors legalizing civil unions for the sake of gays being able to enjoy equal rights protections. Chico Harlan, Michelle Boorstein, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Pope Francis calls for civil union laws for same-sex couples,” The Washington Post, Oct 21, 2020, (accessed November 11, 2020). Although his words seemed to raise eyebrows and concern throughout the Christian world, he already had done even more on his visit to the United States in 2015. In full view of television cameras inside the Vatican Embassy in Washington, DC, he embraced a long-time friend who is gay as well as his partner. The moment, transmitted throughout the world later, was as close a papal blessing as a pope could offer, since it visually changed the optics about the issue.


On Feminism

  1. Jennifer Polland, “The 10 Most Read Book in the World,” Business Insider, December 27, 2012,,over%20the%20last%2050%20years (accessed November 11, 2020); “Best-Selling Book,”, (accessed November 11, 2020).

  1. Barbara E. Reid, “Women and Paul: Was Paul an egalitarian or a chauvinist?” America, November 10, 2008, (accessed November 12, 2020).
  3. NEs’ note, Luke 10:39.


On Abortion

  1. Angelina E. Theodorou, Aleksandra Sandstrom, “How abortion is regulated around the world,” Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, October 6, 2015, (accessed January 31, 2020).
  2. David Masci, “Where major religious groups stand on abortion,” Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, June 21, 2016, (accessed

January 31, 2020).

  1. Masci, “American religious groups vary widely in their views of abortion,” Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, January 22, 2018, (accessed January 31, 2020).
  2. Susheela Singh, Lisa Remez, Gilda Sedgh, Lorraine Kwok, Tsuyoshi Onda, “Abortion Worldwide 2017: Uneven Progress and Unequal Access,” Guttmacher Institute, March 2018, (accessed August 6, 2020).
  3. Rachel B. Vogelstein, Rebecca Turkington, Abortion Law: Global Comparisons, Council on Foreign Relations,

Updated October 28, 2019,,allow%20the%20procedure%20without%20restriction (accessed August 6, 2020).

  1. Pope John Paul II indicates that the Genesis narrative is a mythical story in the modern philosophical sense of the term, i.e., it does not mean that it is a fable, but merely an archaic way of expressing a deeper content. Christopher West, The Theology of the Body Explained, (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2003), p. 67. The analogy is that of a movie that is based on real events.
  2. There are no peer-reviewed scientific studies concluding that human life, i.e., biological life, does not begin between conception and fertilization. “Life Begins at Fertilization,”,,from%20after%20fertilization…%22&text=%22The%20development%20of%20a%20human%20begins%20with%20fertilization%2C%20a%20process,new%20organism%2C%20the%20zygote.%22 (accessed August 6, 2020); Maureen Condic, Ph.D., “A Scientific View of When Life Begins,” Charlotte Lozier Institute, June 11, 2014, (accessed August 6, 2020).

  1. W. den Boer, Private morality in Greece and Rome: some historical aspects, (Leiden: Leiden E. J. Brill, 1979), chapter 12, pp 272-75. Aristotle, Politics, Book VII, Part XVI, trans By Benjamin Jowett, The Internet Classics Archive,, (accessed November 12, 2020); Plato refers to the existence of abortion in his dialogue Theaetetus while describing the symbolic and actual role of the midwife: Plato, Theaetetus, trans. Benjamin Jowett, The Project Gutenberg EBook of Theaetetus, released online on November 17, 2008, (accessed October 25, 2018). On a different view, Sandra Sweeny Silver says that abortion was practiced on a regular basis among the poor, slave, merchant and royal classes. To ancient peoples and the Romans, an abortion was amoral. There was nothing in Roman law or in the Roman heart that said, “It is wrong to kill your baby in the womb,” writes Sandra Sweeny Silver, “Ancient Roman Abortions & Christians,” Early Church History, (accessed October 25, 2018).
  2. den Boer.
  3. “Issues in Jewish Ethics: Abortion,” Jewish Virtual Library, (accessed August 7, 2020).
  4. Joe Kral, “Dear Whoopi Goldberg: What the Bible Has to Say about Abortion,” Truth and Charity, (accessed January 31, 2020).
  5. 12. You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born. In this chapter, abortion appears separate from magic and witchcraft. On the other hand, chapter 5, “The Way of Death,” which lists several types of evil behavior that appear in Chapter 2, and considerably expands the list to include other sinful behavior, does not mention abortion again. The Didache, com, various translations in English, (accessed January 31, 2020).
  6. Michael J. Gorman, “Abortion and the Early Church,” Ancient Faith Store, (accessed January 31, 2020).

  1. NEs’ note, Exodus 21:22.
  2. The issue has split our understanding of human life. Those who identify as being Pro-Life regard themselves as being deeply religious (and politically conservative), which is why they fiercely oppose the termination of the life of the unborn baby. And yet, many among them tend to favor (or not oppose) preventive military conflicts (that are morally wrong by Christian standards and illegal by international law). They also tend to be less concerned about the plight of poor migrants, defamation and discrimination of minorities, or racial, economic, and political inequalities, all of which relate directly to living human beings. Those who favor the Pro-Choice position, on the other hand, including Christians and humanists, tend to identify with liberal or progressive causes that defend the dignity of living humans, including minorities, poverty, and social justice programs; they are also less eager about engaging in military conflicts that kill lives. Yet, their concern for living humans does not extend to the life of the unborn baby, basing their positions on their unwillingness to force their views upon others (despite having done so on issues involving slavery, women’s suffrage, and gay rights). Interestingly, I have read about activists who defend the rights of animals more eloquently than the rights of the unborn.
  3. Preamble, The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription, National Archives, (accessed August 7, 2020).

  1. Preamble, The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription, National Archives, (accessed August 7, 2020).

  1. Negro slaves were regarded either as property, particularly by southern states where slavery had become an economic institution, or as persons of lesser value for purposes of a compromise at the constitutional convention. The three-fifths clause was inserted in the U.S. Constitution, under Art 1, Sect 2. Some authors seeking to camouflage racism as being at the roots of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution suggest that, since the terms race or slavery do not appear in either document, the argument cannot be advance that the documents were racist. David Azerrad, Ph.D., “What the Constitution Says About Race and Slavery,” December 28, 2015, The Heritage Foundation, (accessed November 18, 2020). To be sure, racism is not necessarily motivated by hatred. However, the definition, as it applied to Negroes, indicates the cultural, religious, political, and economic tolerance and legitimization of slavery on account of race. The fact that neither term appears in the documents is irrelevant and specious, since both documents while taking slavery as a given, dealt with other significant political issues. Nonetheless, both documents upheld the physical and human reality of slavery. Many of the most illustrious Founding Fathers were slave owners and did not notice, or chose not to notice, the incongruence between slave ownership and their convictions regarding human freedom. For an opposite view, Paul Finkelman, “Slavery in the United States, Persons or Property?”, (accessed November 18, 2020); Roy W. Copeland, “The Nomenclature of Enslaved Africans as Real Property or Chattels Personal: Legal Fiction, Judicial Interpretation, Legislative Designation, or Was a Slave a Slave by Any Other Name.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 40, no. 5, 2010, pp. 946–959. JSTOR,, (accessed 18 Nov. 2020).
  2. Woman does not wish to turn aside from her higher work, which is itself the end of life, to devote herself to government, which exists only that this higher work may be done. Can she not do both? No! Lyman Abbott, “Why Women Do Not Wish the Suffrage,” The Atlantic, September 1903 issue,

(accessed August 8, 2020); Linton Weeks, “American Women Who Were Anti-Suffragettes,” NPR, October 22, 2015, (accessed August 8, 2020).


On Climate Change

  1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “Climate Change: How Do We Know?” (accessed August 15, 2020); IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II, and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri, and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, (accessed August 15, 2020). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was created in 1988, endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly, and tasked with providing policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation options. It gathers peer-reviewed scientific studies from all over the world as the basis to formulate recommendations to all nations.
  2. Building the Earth, by Jesuit Catholic priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, was among the earliest work praising the temporal human endeavor; (Wilkes-Barre: Dimension Books, 1965).
  3. Moira Fagan, Christine Huang, “A look at how people around the world view climate change,” Pew Research Center – Fact Tank, April 18, 2019, (accessed August 15, 2020).
  4. Yale School of the Environment, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology,, (accessed August 15, 2020). The topic received the backing of the Catholic Church in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato si’on Care for Our Common Home, May 2015.
  5. “Only 11 (10) Years Left to Prevent Irreversible Damage from Climate Change, Speakers Warn during General Assembly High-Level Meeting,” United Nations General Assembly, Seventy-Third Session, March 28, 2019, (accessed August 15, 2020).
  6. Bryan Walsh, “Antarctic Glacier Loss Is ‘Unstoppable,’ Study Says,” Time, May 12, 2014, (accessed August 15, 2020); (NASA), “Is it too late to prevent climate change?” (accessed August 15, 2020).


On Secularism and Secularization

  1. Brian A. Catlos, Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain, (New York: Basic Books Publishers, 2018).
  2. Ulrich L. Lehner, The Catholic Enlightenment: The Forgotten History of a Global Movement, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016).
  3. Ironically, John Locke, considered to be among the forefathers of religious tolerance, excluded Catholics and atheists from being tolerated in his Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). Mark Goldie, ed., John Locke: A Letter concerning Toleration and Other Writings, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010) (accessed August 10, 2020).


8 – Toward a Conclusion

  1. Pope John Paul II wrote a book titled Sign of Contradiction referring to Jesus as someone who encountered opposition and hostility despite being a holy man.