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The Fictitious Missionary Journey of the Disciples

By Michael Runyan ~

When an author produces fiction, he often tries to make his account seem realistic if the goal is to have people believe it actually happened. Generally, this is what the authors of the gospels strove to do.  Some of what they wrote was actually based on something they read or heard, but clearly a lot of it was simply made up by their imagination.  When Mark, the first gospel writer, wrote about Jesus sending his disciples out two by two to preach his message, he introduced plenty of elements letting us know that it never happened.
Mark 6:7-13Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.  And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Here are the reasons to doubt this story:
  • Jesus almost certainly would not have sent his followers away at any time, given that they gave him protection.  Jesus wandering about by himself would have been suicidal.
  • Even if the disciples were sent, what would have been their message?- “we are following a man who claims to be a prophet and he is working some miracles?”  That would be about all they could say.  Obviously, at this time, they knew nothing of the ultimate doctrine that Jesus was to die for the salvation of mankind.
  • Jesus gave them ‘authority over impure spirits,’ that is, he gave them authority over things we now know don’t exist.
  • He tells them to take nothing for the journey other than sandals and a shirt.  This is embarrassingly unrealistic, unreasonable, and completely unnecessary to their purported mission.  He is improperly burdening other people who will end up having to provide for his men.
  • He tells them to dust off their feet as a testimony against those who appropriately reject their message.  The author of Matthew added even more venom to this threat when he copied this story from Mark (Matthew 10:15- Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.)
  • They drove out many demons (that don’t exist) and anointed sick people with oil ( having no curative value).
This story could have been written in a much more realistic manner, but even at the start, there was no need to even posit that such a venture would have happened in the first place.  In other areas of the Bible, we are led to believe that the disciples were unlearned, rather dull people who were very slow to understand Jesus’s divinity and message, and yet Jesus sent them out by themselves to preach? That Jesus went solo for what, several weeks or months? This doesn’t whisper, this doesn’t speak, this doesn’t shout, no, it screams FICTION.