I present here the Einstein puzzle. It is said that you have to be a genius to solve it. If you use pure memory, then it is true. But if you make a diagram using colored pencils you should be able to solve it within half an hour. A few organizational skills are necessary. It helps to write out the remaining paired categories from the hints and then use the process of elimination.
I gave this to my high school English classes today to work on. Within 20 minutes, a few had figured out the order and color of the houses and a few other details. Some immediately jumped to a conclusion. They gave the wrong answer wanting me to tell them if their “guess” was correct. I told then they needed to show how they arrived at their answer, to show their work. I also told them I hadn’t solved the puzzle yet, so I couldn’t tell them the answer. Later, in the day it took me about 20 minutes to figure it out.
Supposedly, Albert Einstein wrote this riddle, and said 98% of the world could not solve it.
There are 5 houses in 5 different colors. In each house lives a man with a different nationality. The 5 owners drink a certain type of beverage, smoke a certain brand of cigar, and keep a certain pet. No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar or drink the same beverage.
The question is: “Who owns the fish?”
The Brit lives in the red house.
The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
The Dane drinks tea.
The green house is on the left of the white house.
The green house’s owner drinks coffee.
The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
The man living in the center house drinks milk.
The Norwegian lives in the first house.
The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
The man who keeps the horse lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
The owner who smokes Bluemasters drinks beer.
The German smokes Prince.
The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.
There are no tricks, pure logic will get you the correct answer. And yes, there is enough information to arrive at the one and only correct answer. If you think you know the answer, but are not sure, you haven’t solved the puzzle correctly. Once you solve it, you will know every color of every house, who lives in each house, what each man drinks and smokes, and which pets each owns.
So what has this to do with discerning Gospel truths?
It occurred to me while doing the puzzle that the five houses in Einstein’s riddle are a lot like the four Gospels. We are given hints in each Gospel that answer many questions as to the one reliable historical narrative of Truth. It’s necessary to look at the parts from different books to form a whole picture. I recently showed how one may demonstrate that the Apostles James and John were the first cousins of Jesus using isolated hints from four separate Gospels to come to this remarkable conclusion.
This method of comparing scripture with scripture revealed a truth that helps explain several other puzzles, such as why John is singled out as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and why according to Old Testament law did Jesus require John to take care of Mary as he would his own mother.
One may ask: Why didn’t the Gospel writers simply say: “Now James and John were Jesus’ first cousins”?
The answer to this question is found in Isaiah 28:10-13
“Whom will he teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message?
Those just weaned from milk?
Those just drawn from the breasts?
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.”
For with stammering lips and another tongue
He will speak to this people,
To whom He said, “This is the rest with which
You may cause the weary to rest,”
And, “This is the refreshing”;
Yet they would not hear.
But the word of the Lord was to them,
“Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little,”
That they might go and fall backward, and be broken
And snared and caught.
The method of interpreting the Bible requires that we know the whole Bible and let scripture interpret scripture. God dispenses truth as He sees fit. When encountering Bible difficulites, we have to understand that there are no short cuts or trick questions. There are also no contradictions, but many Bible difficulties. The reason why the difficulties are there is so that we may discover the self-authenticating truth of scripture.
The four evangelists wrote in such a way that when we search for agreement in passages that seem disparate, most of the time we will find a harmony of the Gospels that transcends what four human beings writing independently could have concocted. This harmony is placed there for two reasons:
1. The harmony of the Gospels shows us the reality of the divine and supernatural inspiration of scripture.
2. The harmony of the Gospels also points us to which books belong to the canon by virtue of the fact that they are self-authenticating.
Men wrote scripture, but the Holy Spirit directed them in such a way that there is no complete picture of the truth in any one narrative or letter. In putting the pieces of the puzzle together, we are left with the strong impression that these men did not conspire to create a puzzle for us to solve. Instead the Holy Spirit has revealed mysteries to those who will bother to search some of the “difficult passages” for a harmony.
The Higher Critics are like my students who wanted to use conjecture to immediately jump to a wrong conclusion. Liberals use the modern tools of criticism to interpret scripture, but in analyzing the parts they miss the whole. Jesus said it best when he criticized the experts in the Law in His own day, “You strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel.”
The skeptics are like those students of mine who insisted that the puzzle could not be solved or was too difficult to be solved. Since they reject inspiration from the outset, the Higher Critics are blind to the marvelous pattern of scripture in which truth becomes self-authenticating.
For instance, I wrote recently about the self-authenticating quality of the book of Acts. The narrative begins with a sermon preached by Peter to a crowd of thousands of Jews who had come from all over the world to visit Jerusalem on the feast of Pentecost. The converts who heard Peter’s sermon were the very ones who purportedly returned to their cities a few years later after being scattered during persecution. These were the people who would have been able to confirm the account of Acts 2 as genuine and accurate.
If the Book of Acts were not authentic and reliable, it immediately would have been perceived as pseudepigrapha by the purported eyewitnesses. In other words, if the men who witnessed the miracle of Pentecost had not returned to their own cities and founded churches, then there would exist only those in these same churches who would be able to reject these stories as unreliable. The very fact that the book of Acts was accepted and quoted by the earliest of the church fathers as scripture proves that eyewitnesses existed who confirmed the accounts.
The scenario proposed by the skeptics is that the Book of Acts was written under a pseudonym many years after the events. But this begs the question: Why would a man calling himself Luke, a companion of Paul, write an unreliable history and deliver it to people who would be in an immediate position to recognize it as spurious? Did the eyewitnesses of first century Christianity not live within the context of their own history or did they simply appear for a time convenient to the critics’ scenario and then vanish into thin air?
Whoever the unnamed “other disciple, whom Jesus loved” was, the Biblical evidence proves that he cannot have been the Apostle John.
www.TheDiscpleWhomJesusLoved.com is a free eBook that presents the Biblical evidence that rules out John and this is done by comparing the FACTS found in the plain text of the Biblical record – facts about John and “the twelve” which are mutually exclusive with facts that we are told about this unnamed “other disciple”.
If fact beyond John, there is Biblical evidence actually rules out any of “the twelve” (which by the way explains why he designated himself the “other” disciple because he was “other” than “the twelve”).
You started with a false premise (“James and John were the first cousins of Jesus”) so it is not surprising to see a false conclusion. Your reasoning of course fails to explain why John would be singled out this way as opposed to James. But leaving that aside, the fact is that it is clear in scripture that James and John have no knowledge of who Jesus is when they are introduced to him (and the same is the true of their business partner Peter). This is not the case when we see an actual relative of Jesus meet him in scripture – for John the Baptist (who WAS related to Jesus) evidences prior knowledge of Jesus.
Moreover when James and John try to jump ahead of the other apostles and get the seats on either side of Jesus, none of the other apostles evidence any knowledge of some family connection that might entitle James and John to these seats. What we see is in fact quite the opposite and NO WRITER OF SCRIPTURE ever tries to communicate the idea to his readers that James and John were physically related to Jesus.
Your ‘first cousin’ error is based on the false assumption that all the gospel descriptions of those at the cross are necessarily totally inclusive of all who were present and then differing accounts by different writers are said to ‘prove’ this idea. However numerous passages of scripture reveal that just because one account lists a person or persons as being present at an event they cannot be assumed to be the ONLY person(s) present UNLESS the text itself specifically says this was the case. And in the case of those at the cross this is proven again, because those who would read the records of the first three gospels and assume that there was no one else present would be WRONG – for the fourth gospel tells us that the unnamed “other disciple, whom Jesus loved” was also there. But no one reading any of the first three gospels would ever know this fact.
So it is clear that the writers of the other three gospels DID NOT INTEND TO list all of those who were present. Therefore you cannot assume that those listed in the varying gospel accounts are the only ones present, which is why your assumption that the mother of James and John is the sister of Jesus’ mother is a false conclusion.
It's not an original idea. It's long been the traditional view in the Catholic church and many Protestant commentators have come to this conclusion as well.
On the premise that the disciple whom Jesus loved is John -- almost every commentator agrees with this -- and it can be easily demonstrated. I'll write on that soon.
One or my basic rules in discerning Bible teaching is that if a doctrine is new, it probably isn't true. However, both of these ideas have been taught for a long time. Neither of these is a doctrine upon which a major tenet of faith is hinged, so while I welcome debate, it is an extremely non-essential idea.
Lazarus is one of the named disciples whom Jesus loved along with Mary of Bethany and Martha (and most would say John too).
However, to accept Lazarus as the author of the Gospel of John is also to make him the author of 1,2&3 John, letters which, even if you doubt John wrote them, are unmistakably of the same style.
Not only does this contradict the testimony of the early church fathers, such as Polycarp, but it is a theory that has appeared out of thin air. No one has taught this in 2000 years until this author.
And further if you really think that the Lazarus wrote four New Testament books, why are you afraid to say so?
The fact is that there is not even a single verse that would justify teaching the John idea — not one verse — and yet this man-made tradition is presented AS IF it were Biblical! But beyond this the facts preserved for us in the Biblical record prove that John cannot possibly be the unnamed “other disciple, whom Jesus loved” because this would require the Bible to contradict itself, which it cannot do.
Some people like to pretend that arguing against alternate suggestions as to who this disciple somehow justifies teaching the John idea, but of course it does not. There is still the problem of promoting the man-made John idea AS IF it were Biblical, since those who do so cannot cite even one verse that would justify teaching this idea. They are reduced to pointing to this-or-that non-Bible source but the fact that they have to rely on non-Bible sources and cannot cite even one verse that justifies what they are presenting should make anyone who knows Ps. 118:8 think twice about rushing to parrot this tradition.
If you care about the truth, then put first things first. Instead of starting out trying to identify the author (or to challenge the Lazarus idea) first heed the Biblical admonition to “prove all things” as concerns the John idea. Search the scriptures (as opposed to the opinions found in non-Bible sources) to see if this thing is so. If you do you will find that the John tradition is not so - because the Bible cannot be wrong.
I want to hear your idea on this.
Not everyone reading this is going to read the book.
Read Pr. 25: 2. Also Jesus spoke in parables and that was NOT in order to make it easier for everybody to understand. Neither so we find God’s inspired writers distilling down the truths they wrote about down to one or two sentences so that no one would have to bother reading the rest of scripture. So for those who would prefer to stay on a milk diet rather than moving on to meat, I say again that they reap what they sow.
The Biblical evidence that disproves the John idea preserved for us in the plain text of the Biblical record and while the book referenced above does not predigest the Biblical text for the reader it does present this evidence together in one place. However there will be some who will simply peek at the back of the book first and rush to judgment on material they haven’t even read but so be it.
I leave off commenting here except to say that if one will go back and simply read the fourth gospel from the beginning with the honest question “Who would I conclude the author was based on JUST THE FACTS FOUND IN THE TEXT?”, then they will NEVER come to the conclusion that this was John because NONE of the evidence in this text points toward John.