Saturday, January 9, 2010

To the Jew First: No Human Sacrifice

Another common Jewish objection to the claims of Christianity is that the Mosaic Law prohibits human sacrifice. Thus, Jesus' death on the cross cannot be the sacrifice Christians claim it is. In order to qualify as the atonement for mankind's sins, Jesus must have perfectly upheld the Law, as New Testament authors readily admit. Yet, sacrificing a human, Jewish unbelievers argue, violates the very Law He is claimed to have perfectly upheld, thus disqualifying Him as the Messiah.

How can the Christian respond to this argument? Is it true that the Law prohibits human sacrifice, and thus that Jesus' death on the cross cannot atone for man's sins? (I would like to point readers to the Jews for Jesus website and the resources it lists under, "Was Jesus' death a violation of the commandment against human sacrifice?" My post below is mostly a repackaging of those resources for consumption by my readers.)

A Request for Prayer: Jehovah's Witnesses at the Door

I was re-reading an earlier post in my blog this morning when I heard a knock at my door. Two guesses: no, not LDS missionaries, a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses dropping off the latest copies of The Watchtower and Awake! magazines. I accepted them (and hope to find some apologetics usefulness therein), but asked if they were only interested in dropping off their material, or if they might additionally be interested in discussing our respective beliefs at some point in the future. They reluctantly agreed, saying they would come back next Saturday morning.

Now, I personally don't think it's likely they'll return. However, it's possible, and in the upcoming week I'm going to be preparing myself and praying that God would use me to open their hearts, if it's His will, to the truth of the historic Christian faith. Those of you who've read through my past posts may be able to tell that the religions of the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses are those I'm most equipped (at this time) to refute. Over the past couple of years in our new home I've been disappointed because they've always stopped by when I was not at home. Today, that has changed.

So with that, I humbly request your prayer for me and for them. Ultimately it is not I who will change their hearts, but God if it's His will to do so. However, the extent to which I am open to being led by God in this discussion--if it happens--rather than by trying to accomplish a change by my own strength, is the extent to which I will be an agent of God's will, whatever that may be. Those of you who know me know that while I have a fair amount of knowledge and logic at my disposal, I'm not always the easiest to communicate with personally. It is for this ability that I ask you to pray.

Please pray that I would be able to shed myself of any sense of arrogance or smugness; that I would share the truth of Scripture with love and with compassion, rather than a prideful desire to prove them wrong; that I would listen and be attentive to their words, patiently and humbly hearing what they have to say rather than merely waiting for my turn to speak. And please pray that, if it's God's will to change their hearts, He would speak through me and open their eyes.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Special Offer from Apologetics Academy

One of my favorite apologetics resources is the radio show. I noticed on their home page that they've got a special offer going for their Apologetics Academy. Each package is, for a limited time, half-off the normal cost. Here's the blurb from their homepage:

"The staff of is committed to not only teaching apologetics but equipping believers to go out and engage in the conversation for Truth. That's why we're pleased to announce the launch of the Apologetics Academy, an extension of our ministry where you can be trained in the art and science of Christian apologetics from your own living room."

You can click here for more information. I intend, if at all possible, to take advantage.

Reasoning with Rome: The Noble Bereans

Like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, Catholics teach that their Church--and only their Church--has the authority to properly interpret Scripture. An article at Catholic Answers online says this:

"In Catholic Answers’ seminars we try to emphasize the point that you should always demand that a missionary who comes to your door first establish his authority for what he is going to tell you, and only then proceed to discuss the particular issues he has in mind.

By 'authority,' we don’t mean his personal or academic credentials. We mean his authority to claim he can rightly interpret the Bible."

The Catholic Encyclopedia at puts it this way in their treatment of the topic, Apostles:

"The authority of the Apostles proceeds from the office imposed upon them by Our Lord...In the modern theological terms the Apostle, besides the power of order, has a general power of jurisdiction and magisterium (teaching)...The latter includes the power of setting forth with authority Christ's doctrine...Since the authority with which the Lord endowed the Apostles was given them for the entire Church it is natural that this authority should endure after their death, in other words, pass to successors established by the Apostles."

Thus, Catholics believe that while the Bible is divine in origin, and therefore authoritative, nevertheless the layperson hasn't the authority necessary to claim he can correctly interpret it. Only the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church has this authority, it having been passed down through apostolic succession. Though some may not come out and acknowledge it, what this means is that ultimately the authority of the Church--the Roman Catholic Church--is above the authority of Scripture itself when it comes to the indvidual believer.


Consequently, a meaningful discussion with a Catholic over the meaning of Scripture and proper doctrine could prove quite difficult. It really doesn't matter how well the non-Catholic can demonstrate that Catholic doctrine doesn't line up wh the Bible; the Catholic may simply respond, "By what authority do you claim your interpretation is correct?" The words, "The Roman Catholic Church is wrong" could appear in the Bible, and the Catholic would still say, "By what authority do you claim your interpretation is correct?"

In fact, one cannot even expect to have any success in demonstrating that the Catholic notion of authority is unbiblical. Consider the approach recommended by Catholic Answers in the article linked to above: "So before you turn to the verses he brings up, and thus to the topic he brings up, demand that he demonstrate a few things. First, ask him to prove from the Bible that the Bible is the only rule of faith." In a hypothetical conversation between an Evangelical Christian and a Catholic, the article depicts the Catholic saying, "I don’t believe the Bible claims to be the sole rule of faith. I mean the doctrine of sola scriptura is itself unbiblical. Please show me where the Bible claims such a status for itself."

What would the point be? Assume, for a moment, that the Evangelical could point to some passage in Scripture that said, "The Bible is the sole rule of faith." All the Catholic would need to do would respond, "By what authority do you claim your interpretation is correct?" And round and round she goes.


As a result, having little experience witnessing to Catholics, and having spent little time studying the topic of Catholic evangelism, I must confess I feel a bit hopeless. I know because of the Bible's perspicuity--that's a big word, I know; it simply means "clearness or lucidity"--that Catholic doctrine clearly veers from biblical truth in numerous ways. However, demonstrating this effectively seems a near impossible task.

Still, as Jesus said in Mark 10:27, "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." I may not be able to change the hearts of Catholic by my own power, but if my understanding of Scripture is correct, then if it's God's will to change their hearts through me, then He will. So, this series, "Reasoning with Rome," is as much for me as it is for you, my readers. I hope that through this journey we will become more competent evangelists to Catholics, and at the same time build greater confidence in our faith.


Before I end the introduction to this series, I would like to point to one passage that, though not definitive proof that the Bible is to be the ultimate rule of faith for the individual believer, nonetheless should serve to bolster our faith and approach to Scripture. In the book of Acts we're given this account of Paul's and Silas' evangelistic efforts:

"The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men." (Acts 17:10-12)

Notice here what is not said. If, as the Catholics claim, the Apostles had ultimate, unquestionable authority to interpret the Scriptures, it seems this would have gone a bit differently. Paul and Silas could have said, "We were given divine authority by Jesus, and He revealed to us the truth of His gospel in the Scriptures." In response, it might've been said of the Bereans that "these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, recognizing the authority of Jesus' apostles."

But that's not what we read. Instead, in addition to their great eagerness to receive the message of the apostles, the Bereans are said to have been more noble-minded than the Thessalonians because they were "examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." Note that neither the author, Luke, nor Paul and Silas give any indication that the Bereans were illegitimately interpreting the Bible on their own, ignoring the authority of the apostles. There's no sense of anything like that at all.

Again, this is not definitive proof refuting the Catholic doctrine of authority. However, we as non-Catholic Christians can take solace in the fact that we are noble like the Bereans because we test what we're told, by Catholics or by anybody else, in light of Scripture. As we examine Catholic doctrine together, beginning with their claim to authority, let us do so with eagerness, open to the possibility that we are in error; after all, we're to "worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). But we must do so while "examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Exegetical Eschatology: A War Over Words

Before I start this post, I want to correct something I said previously in this series. In "Four Views of the Future," I stated that "Discussions over the timing...of Christ's return relative to the 'millennium'--premillennial, millennial, amillenial--are discussions about the chronology of future events from a futurist's perspective." This is not really true. Adherents to the other major views also hold certain positions regarding the thousand years of Revelation and its timing relative to the return of Christ--myself included. Please forgive my error.

Also, I said that in the next entry in this series "we'll look a bit more closely at the variations within futurism." I had intended at that time to discuss the pre-trib, mid-trib and post-trib views of the "rapture", and the pre-mil, a-mil and post-mil views of the "millennium" within the futurist camp. I've decided against this, however, as explaining these views this early on in the series is unnecessary, and requires introducing concepts I wish to save for later. So instead, I will discuss these schools of futurism when the relevant topics come up.

Now, in that introductory post I also said that coming up next would be a discussion of "a war over words regarding preterism." Indeed, that is the subject of this post. I feel this is an important addendum to the introduction to the four views of eschatology because the term "preterism" is often met with immediate concern by other Christians. This is because the term has been, as of late, associated with a recent eschatological position that places itself, by its beliefs, outside the orthodox faith of historic Christianity. This needs to be clarified, therefore, lest the orthodox view that historically goes by the term "preterism" be immediately dismissed by my readers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

God So Loved the World: Introducing the Gospel

Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees, secretly met with Jesus one night to ask Him some questions. Toward the end of the conversation, Jesus spoke what are perhaps some of the most well-known words among Christians:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)

For many, Jesus' words are an excellent summary of the gospel. Yet, if you ask 10 different professing Christians what the gospel is, you may very likely get 10 different answers. Many Christians are capable of reciting this and many other verses pertaining to the gospel, but don't have a fully developed understanding of what they mean.


Jesus said He was sent so that the world "might be saved," but just what is it the world needs saving from?Why is it that the world needs saving in the first place? Why does one "perish" if one does not believe? What does it mean to "perish?" What is the world saved unto? What is "eternal life?" Why did Jesus need to die for the world to be saved?

The question, "What is the gospel?" seems very simple, and in certain ways it is. But as we can see, there is much more to it than, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." As Christians, we ought to be able to answer these questions. If we cannot, can we really be certain we have eternal life at all? When we in prayer express our thanks to God, just how meaningful are those prayers if we don't really know what it is we're thanking Him for?


And if we don't know how to answer these questions, how can we hope to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19)? Jesus' words to Nicodemus might hold some meaning to those familiar with the tenets of the faith. But the West has become decreasingly Christian, increasingly secular. A growing number of people aren't familiar with the tenets of biblical Christianity. If a Christian simply parrots Jesus' words to Nicodemus to them, they're likely to respond like they did to Paul at Mars Hill: "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" (Acts 17:18)

In this series, we'll try and develop a full, biblical understanding of the gospel. We'll look at what the Bible has to say in answering the questions above, as well as what it doesn't say, refuting common, incorrect interpretations thereof. As a result, our love for God will be richer, our prayer life more powerful, our thankfulness more meaningful. And when we witness to unbelievers in an attempt to "make disciples of all nations," we can do so with confidence, capable of answering their questions coherently.

My Lord and My God: Introducing the Trinity

When the disciples of Jesus gathered after witnessing the resurrected Christ, Thomas was doubtful. "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe" (John 20:25). He soon got the proof he needed:

Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." (John 20:27-29)

When Thomas responded to Jesus' invitation to touch His wounds, he exclaimed, "My Lord and my God!" He didn't merely express shock in the way we today might say, "Oh my God!" No, he "answered" him. The word rendered "answered" is the Greek apokrinomai, and means "to give an answer." Thomas was specifically addressing Jesus and was calling Him his Lord and his God. And far from admonishing Thomas for improperly identifying Him as God, Jesus commends him for it, but assures a greater blessing for those who, like us today, have believed without seeing.

Ministering to Mormons: The Restoration of the Priesthood

In the previous entry in this series, A Pattern of Prophets, we saw that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints teaches that God has always led His people through prophets, without which the Church lacks proper direction. In contrast, we discovered that the Bible teaches that the Church was founded upon the message of prophets and priests from the past, but that whereas they were finite and temporal servants of an inferior ministry, Jesus Christ is the infinite, everlasting servant of the superior ministry that replaced it. He is the ultimate priest and prophet, the fulfillment of the types and shadows from the past, and His Holy Spirit indwells the Christian, revealing to him the truth contained within Scripture. Thus, the Bible teaches, we have all the guidance we ultimately need in Jesus.

However, the doctrine of authority peculiar to Mormonism is complex and multifaceted, and is argued to be supported by more scriptural evidence than we've looked at thus far. They believe that prophets are bestowed a particular kind of authority, that of the priesthood, and that the Bible indicates that this pattern of priests handed down by God, like the alleged pattern of prophets, is to continue to this day. Let's take a closer look.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Discussing Destiny: Determinism Versus Libertarianism

As a young believer, new to the faith--I suppose "newer" would be more appropriate; today I'm still less than a decade old in terms of being born again--I was blissfully unaware of a debate that has long raged within the Christian Church when it comes to the notion of "free will." Looking back, I'm not sure how I missed a couple of very peculiar words found in the New Testament. It's almost as if my brain shut down while my eyes skimmed over them; not until I was introduced to the debate did it even strike me that they were there.

First is the word "elect," found, for example, in 1 Peter 1:1 which reads (in the NIV), "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God's elect." I was familiar with the word when used as a verb: to "elect" someone is to choose which of multiple candidates will hold some position. The word "elect," then, used as a noun referring specifically to believers--all believers, and only believers--ought naturally to invoke in one's mind the thought of God's choosing them to "hold" that "position."

Second is the still more striking word "predestined." It appears in Acts 4:27-28 where Peter and John, speaking to God, said, "There were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur." The implications of the word "predestined" seem obvious: it was by God's prior choice to destine them to gather against Jesus that they did, in fact, gather against Jesus. Where this becomes a problem, however, is when it refers to a believer's state, such as in Ephesians 1:5 where it is said of us Christians, "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself."

A surface reading of the text suggests something amazing, if not a little frightening: that God elects those who, as a result of that choice, are predestined to trust in Jesus Christ. But what would this say about our cherished notion of "free will?" If God chooses those He wishes to believe in His Son, do they have the option of rejecting Him? Conversely, if God doesn't choose others to follow the Son, do they have the capacity to choose Him anyway? At a fundamental level, this is the nature of the debate.


The alternate views within this debate go by a variety of names. To those not terribly familiar with each, perhaps "Calvinism" and "Arminianism" are most likely to ring a bell. Of course, the schools of thought that go by those names are far more complex and encompass a much greater breadth and depth of doctrine than just this question of being chosen versus being able to choose. Further, the teachings of Jacobus Arminius and his followers lead me to question whether their being offered up as the opposite to those of Calvin is truly proper regarding this question.

Another common choice of words for distinguishing these two major views is "determinism" and "libertarianism" (or "libertarian free will"). The former is used to describe the position that God determines those He chooses to be saved and destines them to that end; the latter is used to describe the belief that humans have complete liberty to exercise their free will in choosing to either follow or reject God. To the extent that the words summarize these positions in this way, they serve their purpose. However, when one looks at both positions closely, one finds that neither is accurately characterized by these terms and the meanings they imply.

Application of the term determinism to the one view implies that it allows for no concept of a person's free will to choose one thing over another. Categorizing the other as libertarianism suggests it has no room for the notion that one's choices are influenced by either nature, environment or by God. Yet, adherents to the former camp do recognize the role free will plays in the choices people make, and those who hold to the latter view acknowledge that people are influenced by various factors, including God--like most Christians, many even pray that God would open the hearts of unbelievers.

We therefore need to be careful not to allow our categorization of these views to unfairly paint them into corners in which they don't belong. Nevertheless, I'll use these terms throughout this series for the purpose of identification, but so that I'm clear, here are the two major positions we'll be discussing:

  • Determinism: The view which holds that, because of the effects of original sin, humans will always, if left to our own devices, freely choose to reject God. The reason any place their faith in Jesus Christ is because God chose to intervene. From eternity past God chose those whom He wishes to be saved, not in response to anything they would do or believe in life, but solely according to His own perfect will. In life, those whom God chose are "regenerated" such that, having previously operated from the sinful human nature inherited from Adam and Eve, they now operate from a new life in the Spirit, and place their faith in Jesus Christ as a result of that work of God.
  • Libertarianism: The view which holds that, despite the sinful nature inherited from Adam and Eve, humans have the liberty to act and believe contrary to their natural inclinations in opposition to God, instead turning to Him in faith. Though our choices are influenced by our nature, our upbringing, our environment and other factors--including God--we ultimately have the freedom to do that which we are not influenced to do. Without the genuine capacity to choose God or to reject Him, we cannot legitimately be made justified for the former, nor held responsible for the latter. God knew beforehand from all eternity past what choices we would make, but He did not make those choices for us.


What does the Bible teach? To what extent do we have "free will?" To what extent are we "predestined" to faith? What impact might these views have on our life and on the practice of our faith? We'll look at all these questions and more as time goes on. With this introduction in place, in this series we will thus be "discussing destiny."

Monday, January 4, 2010

To the Jew First: The Throne of David

One Jewish objection to the claims of Christianity has to do with Jesus' ancestry, as it relates to His having been born of Mary, the virgin. First, generally accepted Messianic prophecies include that He would be a descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16, Psalm 89), and thus qualify to sit upon David's throne. Joseph's lineage was traced through David, but Joseph was not Jesus' biological father, and so Jesus cannot be said to be a descendant of David. Second, the Messiah was to be of the tribe of Judah (Isaiah 11:1, Micah 5:2), and again, though Joseph was affiliated with this tribe, his adopted son, Jesus, would not have been. Therefore, Jesus' lineage does not meet the requirements for holding the throne of David, and thus He is disqualified as the Messiah.

What is the Christian to make of this argument? Should we, in fact, rethink our decision to put our faith in Jesus since the Davidic throne and affiliation with the tribe of Judah could only have been passed on through Joseph, who is not Jesus' biological father?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Silencing Skepticism: Jesus, the Pagan Copycat

A popular claim from skeptics is that the story of Jesus recorded in the New Testament is merely a repackaging of ancient pagan myths. When one compares what is recorded of Jesus, they'll argue, with figures from myths and mystery religions that appear to predate Him, such as Mithras or Horus, one sees that their alleged lives are largely identical. Rather than being the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy, Jesus' life as recorded by His disciples is merely a retelling of pagan mythology wrapped in a Jewish veneer.

On pages 55 and 56 of their book, The Laughing Jesus: Religious Lies and Gnostic Wisdom, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy wrote:

Each mystery religion taught its own version of the myth of the dying and resurrecting Godman, who was known by different names in different places...In Egypt, where the mysteries began, he was Osiris. In Greece he becomes Dionysus, in Asia Minor he is known as Attis, in Syria he is Adonis, in Persia he is Mithras, in Alexandria he is Serapis, to name a few.

This summarizes well the argument: Mystery religions predating Christianity each had their own version of the Jesus figure, the God in human flesh who was born of a virgin, died and rose again. We modern humans are accustomed to the concept of plagiarism; we tend to know when we see a claim that clearly copies another, older one. It stands to reason that, if the authors of the New Testament merely copied contemporary (to them) pagan mythological figures in their presentation of their alleged Messiah, their testimony is questionable at best.

As a personal aside, I can testify to the prevalence of this view, both outside the Church and within. In the former case, only a few months ago an atheist brought this up in a debate on Facebook. For her this was strong evidence that the Christian faith is misplaced, no different than belief in any other mythological figure or fairy tale. In the latter case, early on in my faith I went on a sort of retreat with other young Christians (at the time I was in my early twenties), and another professing Christian youth made this claim, too. She said it "had been proven" that Christianity "borrowed" from these mystery religions in their depiction of Jesus. Consequently, though she claimed to believe in Jesus, that in which she claimed to have faith was vague, nebulous and hard to define. It seemed to me as though for her, faith in "faith" was all that mattered.

How should the Christian respond to this claim? Is there legitimate and sufficient cause to question the truth of one's faith?


Skeptics will list numerous alleged similarities between the accounts of the life of Jesus in the New Testament and the stories of other divine figures who died and rose again. But the Christian needn't be shaken, for several reasons. First, despite claims to the contrary, most--if not all--mythological figures claimed to have been the source of Christianity's "dying and resurrecting Godman" find their origin after the authoring of the New Testament. Accounts of the alleged death and resurrection of Adonis appear no earlier than 150 AD, for example. Tales of Attis, allegedly responsible for the death and rebirth of plant life, no earlier than 200 AD. Stories of Mithras bearing an even remote resemblance to Christianity do not exist prior to the second century. Accounts of Jesus could not have borrowed from tales that didn't exist until decades or centuries later.


Second, even among accounts of such figures that are believed to have their origin before the New Testament, there are no clear parallels between their lives and the life of Jesus. Skeptics like to apply Christian terminology to these stories to make them seem similar, but they're inescapably and powerfully different. Tales of Osiris, for example, claim his brother killed him and cut him into pieces, and scattered them around the world. Isis tries to find the pieces to properly bury Osiris, but cannot find all of them, so she assembles those she finds and buries Osiris. He is not brought back to life in this world, but rather is made god of a gloomy, shadowy underworld. Mithras is not born of a virgin, he's born of a rock; he doesn't sacrifice himself, he sacrifices a bull; he doesn't die and rise again, in fact no tales exist of his death. The life of Jesus simply bears little, if any, resemblance to the lives of these figures from pagan mythology, no matter how similar the skeptic tries to make them by using Judeo-Christian terminology.


Third, even if there were accounts of similar mythological figures predating those of Jesus recorded in the New Testament--and there are not--there would still be no evidence that the latter copied the former. Instead, the only source material the authors of the New Testament could be argued to have copied was the Hebrew Scriptures comprising the Old Testament. They went to great length, in fact, in proving that Jesus is the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy. This is true of His birth from a virgin (Matthew 1:18-25 and Isaiah 7:14); His being sold out by one of His disciples (Matthew 27:1-10 and Zechariah 11:12-13); His death by crucifixion (1 Corinthians 15:3 and Isaiah 53:5-12) and abandonment by His disciples (Matthew 26:31 and Zechariah 13:7); and His resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:4 and Psalm 16:8-11). In fact everything about the life of Jesus that skeptics claim was copied from pagan mystery religions is instead clearly Jewish in nature and origin.


Despite the popularity of the claim among skeptics that Jesus is merely a copycat of ancient pagan myths, this theory has been widely discredited and no longer accepted among scholars, Christian and secular alike. The historical evidence shows that tales of such pagan figures bearing any resemblance to those of Jesus were written decades or centuries after the New Testament, and thus could not have been its source material. Despite skeptics' application of Judeo-Christian terminology, stories of ancient pagan figures are not at all similar to those of Jesus, making accusations of plagiarism empty. And it is clear that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are thoroughly Jewish in nature, not pagan, and thus the New Testament has its roots in a tradition that goes back further than any tales claimed to have been copied by its authors.


My treatment of this topic above is very cursory. Visit these resources for additional information: