The Game of Telephone


In Chinese, “Whispers”

You don’t expect to find a game of Telephone in research, science or otherwise. But, that is what we get much of the time from scholars with predetermined thesis about our faith, Christianity.  I listened to a piece of discussion by Richard Carrier from a debate with William Lane Craig.

I love the road to Emmaus, the story of Jesus appearing to those on the way to Emmaus, the Emmaus Walk, anything to do with Emmaus.  Mr Carrier, in speaking about the thwarted expectations presented in the Gospel of Luke presents “facts” about the story of Jesus appearing to Cleopas biased towards concluding that the story was concocted by paralleling that account to a Roman myth.  One myth leads to another myth, right?

Mr Carrier played the game of Telephone with someone because the data he presents as fact in the debate aren’t reliable.  You can see his delivery in the video below starting at minute 25.

First, it is not inaccurate to pull data from the Old Testament books and align that data with events occurring in a later time.  That doesn’t make something detailed in the New Testament with a parallel in the Old Testament a myth.  In fact, in my view the exact opposite is true.  To New Testament writers and to us today, fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy is confirmation of Jesus’ identity.

Here are just some examples of not so truthful exposition of parallels.   He tells about the Roman myth of Romulus where Proculus is  journeying by road from Alba Longa to Rome after the Roman people have learned that the corpse of Romulus (Rome’s legendary founder) has vanished and meets on the way to Rome the resurrected Romulus.  This encounter supposedly parallels Cleopas in Luke meeting the resurrected Jesus on the way to Emmaus.  Mr Carrier that Proculus means “proclaimer” and Cleopas means “tell all.”  That’s similar, I will give him that but he goes into more parallelisms between events.

Mr Carrier says that in each story the travelers are going east to west, from a city on a mountain towards the sea, along the path of the sun, and traveling  he said the exact same distance, 14 miles.

Mr Carrier must have played the game of Telephone in his library with fellow scholars because the data in not correct.

Yes, the directions seem to be somewhat parallel, that is in a north westerly direction, but not by the path of the sun and not towards the sea in the case of the journey to Roma or Rome.  That would be on a path parallel to the sea and not towards it.   The distance of ancient Alba Longa to Roma may be 14 miles exactly but Emmaus to Jerusalem is at most 7.5 miles.

Jesus Meets Cleopas

It appears that the best research shows that Cleopas is an abbreviated form of “Cleopatros”, a Greek name meaning “glory of the father” (best known in the feminine form Cleopatra and is not close to proclaim or proclaimer per Proculus.

Why do deniers make light of our intelligence and faith?   If you are going to use data against Jesus and us, please check your facts.   Mr Carrier was way off the agreed upon topic of the debate with Mr Craig.  Maybe he should have stayed with the topics he agreed to discuss that night.

Though useful, this data has nothing to do with the reason why the historical Jesus came. The Larger Story remains along with the devastating condition of the world and the people around us. May we pursue those hurting most for relief and redemption.





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