Welcome to Questions & Answers where Dr. Pat Zukeran answers your questions!

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Can a Christian Practice Buddhism?

Dear Mr. Zukeran, As I was searching the net for local Buddhist temples I came across Probe’s website and as I was scanning down the page I came to your explanation of the differences between Jesus and Gautama. It was very eye opening, and I’ve never heard it explained that way before. I was raised in a Christian home but am also interested in Buddhism. Do you think there is a way for Christians to also practice Buddhism? Or is that not possible? Thank you very much for your time. -Sara

Dear Sara, Generally speaking, Christianity and Buddhism are built on two different worldviews. So at their foundations they teach contradictory positions. Northern Buddhism usually adheres to a pantheistic worldview while Southern Buddhism and schools like Zen Buddhism teach atheism. Buddhism may have some teachings that agree with Christianity such as some of the ethical teachings but at the basic level the two have contradictory teachings. For example what happens after death? Most Buddhist schools teach reincarnation while the Bible teaches Hebrews 9:7 “It is appointed for each person to die once, and then comes the judgment.” Jesus taught His disciples to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Buddha taught to relinquish all desires. The Bible teaches that life is found in a relationship with God through Christ. Buddha taught life is about the emptying of the self. Buddhism teaches that man is basically good and the answer to man’s problem is enlightenment. The Bible teaches that man is sinful and the answer to his problem is not within him but in a perfect savior who died for his sins, Jesus Christ. So at the foundational issues, the two systems are contradictory. Can a Christian study about Buddhism? Sure, but as in all things, one must be discerning and measure all teachings with God’s word, the Bible. Thanks for your question. Patrick Zukeran

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Is the Bible Inerrant?

Dear Mr. Zukeran, First of all, I’m sure you’re very busy and I want you to know from the outset that I very much appreciate your time. I recently caught your article at http://www.probe.org/content/view/39/77 and I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for a long time follower of Christ who is now having trouble with the Bible. I’m not having trouble with the Bible as a whole, but what I’m having a problem with is the claim that it is inerrant. With your impressive list of merits, degrees, etc, I was wondering if you could tell me what you think about this. The name of God has been used to influence people to do some pretty awful things. How do we know that the Bible was immune from political influence during its translation? Is there a line that you drew in the sand and just said, “even though I don’t understand it, I will claim this as truth”? In all your experience and learning, what is the one thing you hold to when everything else seems to falter? Thanks again for your time. Sincerely, Frank Ft. Worth, TX

Dear Frank, I did not grow up in a Christian home and throughout high school I attended a private Episcopal School. The priests were atheists or very liberal. Therefore, I grew up not believing in the Bible. Eventually I embraced Atheism. After hearing the gospel message at a small Baptist Church, I began to investigate the claims of Christ. From the evidence of creation, I could not deny the evidence for God’s existence. Then I studied the historical accuracy of the gospels and found them to be a very accurate historical work written by first century eyewitnesses. (For more see the article “Historical Reliability of the Gospels”) In the gospels, Jesus claimed to be the divine Son of God and confirmed his claims through his miraculous, sinless, life, death, and resurrection. We have good historical evidence that Christ did live a miraculous life not only in the gospels, but in several works of non-Christian literature as well. (For more information read the article “Uniqueness of Christ” and Resurrection: Fact or Fiction?”) Since Christ confirmed his claims to be the divine Son of God, what He taught was true. He taught the Bible was the inerrant word of God. Inerrancy applies to the original documents, not the copies. However, we have thousands of ancient manuscripts to confirm that our Bible today is very accurate to the original texts. How do we know the Bible was immune from political influence? The Bible was written in a historical context so it deals with the culture of its time. However, it’s message remains consistent with the character of God and is often a message that is counter to the culture and politics of the time. The Old Testament prophets spoke out against the leadership of Israel both political and religious and many were killed for their message. They were preaching a message counter to the politics and culture of their day but one that was consistent with God’s character. Christ condemned the religious leaders and rulers of his day preaching a message that was rejected by the leadership. Therefore, we can see the messengers of God were men of integrity who gained very little materially for their message and many lost their lives. Finally, I agree, there have been atrocities committed in history in the name of Christ. However, we should not discount the Bible because of the misinterpretation and misapplication of men in history. To those who have misapplied the text, we can point to the Bible and show where they have deviated from the biblical teaching and the example of Christ. The reason we know they were in error is that we can point out the error in the biblical text. The truth of the Bible should not be judged on the misapplication of certain people or organizations. We do not discount the value of the medical practice because we have had bad doctors who have used their practice for evil ends. The example we should look at is Christ the founder of our faith. Thanks for your question; great to interact with someone who is really thinking through the issues. Patrick Zukeran

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Is Jesus Michael the Archangel?

Dear Mr. Zukeran, Michael the archangel as Jesus Christ is a belief held in common by both the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists. While J.W.’s believe that this is additional proof that Jesus Christ was NOT God Almighty, S.D.A.’s believe he is both God Almighty and the “archangel Michael.” I realize that both denominations came from similar “roots,” and although many of their beliefs are very different from one another, some commonalities, such as death is “sleep” and “Michael the archangel as Jesus Christ” reflect their early common beginnings. Do you ascribe to either of these beliefs? If not, can you explain why? Thank You, Sean.

Dear Sean, I do not believe the Bible teaches that Jesus is Michael the Archangel. The Bible teaches that Christ is the eternal Son of God, the Second person of the Trinity. John 1:1 teaches that Christ is eternal and was with the Father from the beginning. Since the Word was “with” God, Jesus is not the Father but a distinct person, the divine Son of God the second person of the triune God. Matthew 1:23 identifies Jesus as “Immanuel” which means God with us. Hebrews 1 is a chapter that clearly teaches that Jesus is not an angel. Jesus is superior to the angels in every way. 1:4 states, “This shows that God’s son is far greater or superior than the angels. He has a name that indicates his superiority to them. Hebrews 1:5 states, “For to which of the angels did He (God) ever say, “You are my son, today I have become your Father?” This is a rhetorical question with an obvious answer. God has not said that to any of the angels. Only of His Son has He stated this to. Not only that God commands all the angels to worship the Son (1:6). God makes it clear that we are to worship Him alone (Exodus 20 and Matthew 4:10). Here in Hebrews 1:6 God commands that angels to worship Jesus something reserved only for God. From these verses I conclude Jesus is not an angel but the Divine Son of God. Patrick Zukeran

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Does Islam Teach a Paradise of Virgins and Wine?

Dear Mr. Zukeran I read your article on “What Happens After Death” and I am offended by your lack of knowledge as to what the Qu’ran (the proper spelling not Koran, you should at least know that) teaches about paradise. I am a Christian who has married a fine Muslim man. I am sure he does not believe in a paradise of wine and young virgins. One is not even allowed to drink wine as a Muslim so why would there be wine in paradise? This is the stereotype I find throughout the West. You should do better research on Islam before you say anything about it. Sharon.

Dear Sharon, There are several ways to spell the Islamic Holy Book. It can be spelled Koran, Qu’ran, or Quran. You will find these spellings when you study Islamic scholars. In regards to paradise, I am stating the beliefs of classical Islam. Since the death of Muhammad (There are several ways to spell his name as well) Islamic sects have been at war with one another. As you know two of the first four caliphs who succeeded Muhammad were assassinated and there have been numerous wars between the sects that continue to this day. Some sects will deny what the Koran and Hadith teach about paradise but because they deny it does not make that sect or person’s opinion representative of classical Islam. As in Christianity, the Bible is the standard for which every Christian must refer to as a guide to proper doctrine and belief. So every Muslim refers to the Koran as a guide to their beliefs. So let us take a look at what the Koran says regarding paradise. A similitude of the Garden which those who keep their duty (to Allah) are promised: Therein are rivers of water unpolluted, and rivers of milk whereof the flavour changeth not, and rivers of wine delicious to the drinkers, and rivers of clear-run honey; therein for them is every kind of fruit, with pardon from their Lord. (Are those who enjoy all this) like those who are immortal in the Fire and are given boiling water to drink so that it teareth their bowels? Sura 47:15 Surely for the godfearing awaits a place of security, gardens and vineyards and maidens with swelling breasts, like of age and a cup overflowing. Sura 78:30 Except for God’s sincere servants: for them awaits a known provision, fruits – and they high-honored in the Gardens of Bliss upon couches, set face to face, a cup from a spring being passed round to them, white a delight to the drinkers, wherein no sickness is, neither intoxication; and with them wide-eyed maidens restraining their glances. Sura 37:40-47 Surely the godfearing shall be in gardens and bliss… Reclining upon couches ranged in rows: and we shall espouse them to wide-eyed houris. ( Most beautiful virgins endowed with unfading youth) Sura 52:20-25 Classical Islam has taught these ideas regarding paradise. The Koran appears to teach this according to these passages. Patrick Zukeran

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Jehovah’s Witnesses are Known for their Honesty?

Dear Benjamin, Thank you for reading my article. Since my time is limited, I can only respond to your final point at this time. “I think one of the most notable attributes of Jehovah’s Witnesses is their honesty. Arguments for and against their beliefs are found in many of their publications. Many of the things cited in your articles with respect to false “prophecies” are well known and published among their members. I know of no other religious organization that so freely and candidly admits their mistakes. I do agree with you that there are many things that separate JW’s from the rest of Christendom. Adherence to the example of Christ for one. John 13:35 says that the disciples of Jesus would be identified by the love they have for each other. I have seen no other group show genuine fellow feeling in the unified way that Jehovah’s Witnesses do.” I would have to disagree with that point. One of the main problems I have found with the JW organization is their lack of honesty. When it comes to their record of prophecy, with such wide exposure because of their proselytizing and writings, the JW’s had no choice but to publicly apologize for their error. What else can the organization do with such an embarrassing record known publicly? Also, if you ready Deuteronomy 18:22, the passage reads, ” You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.” I do not find anywhere in that passage where it states, “but if the false prophet apologizes, everything is fine.” What concerns me is that false prophets have a nature of dishonesty. Here is another clear example of the dishonesty I find in the organization. In their magazine, “Should you believe in the Trinity?” they quote numerous church fathers as denying the Trinity; Justin Martyr, Iranaeus, Clement of Alexandria, etc…. If you look at these quotes, you find something very interesting, lots of dots (….) used and no footnotes or references. If anyone wanted to look up the quotes, where would they go? Why are there no footnotes? Any good, honest, and scholarly work should include references when quoting a historical work. In my article Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, I quote each one of these church fathers defending the doctrine of the Trinity or the deity of Christ. In fact Iranaeus and Tertullian are great defenders of the deity of Christ’s divine nature. The big difference between my article and the JW one is that my quotes have footnotes and references. I also do not utilize the dots (….). I have asked the Watchtower to send me the references, but have not received a reply. Can we call that honesty? Another example, the Kingdom Interlinear used by the Watchtower quotes Julius Mantey, one of the great Greek scholars. They use quotes from the Dana-Mantey Greek Grammer book to support their translation on John 1:1 and other texts. Dr. Mantey in an official letter to the Watchtower, a letter I have a copy of, demanded the Watchtower apologize for misquoting and misusing his texts. He concludes his letter, “In view of the preceding facts, especially because you have been quoting me out of context, I herewith request you not quote the Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament again, which you have been doing for 24 years. Also, that you not quote it or me in any of your publications from this time on.” Deliberately misquoting the church fathers, Greek scholars, and false prophecies. I hardly see this as an organization that displays honesty as one of its most notable attributes. I apologize but I cannot agree with you there. Patrick Zukeran

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A Buddhist Response

Dr. Zukeran: I read your comparative essay on Buddhism and Christianity. It was very interesting. However, it is quite obvious to me that you are bias toward Christianity. You raised an interesting point that the Buddha’s writings were written hundreds of years after his death, therefore, are not accurate and somewhat vague. You go on to say that Christianity has a more solid foundation being that there is a recorded history of Jesus during his ministry. There is one important fallacy in your logic that you failed to mention and/or consider–that the Jesus you speak of actually existed. And many historians would agree with me that the Gospels were not written until hundreds of years after the so called death of Jesus. I do not write this criticism to offend, but to develop dialogue. My family and my community have deep roots in Christianity and I myself want to be a Christian, but I cannot lie to myself and deny the knowledge that I have. Unfortunately, I have yet to meet someone who can present Christianity to me in a way that will allow me to embrace it. The reason being–it is based on lies and deception. Khafree….

Dear Khafree, Thanks for reading my article and your response. I appreciate your honesty regarding the writings of Buddha. I was raised in the Japanese Buddhist tradition and many members of my family are still active members of the Buddhist community. In my studies of Buddhism, that was a question I often wrestled with and would ask the priests at the temple. I came to believe in Christ because of the compelling evidence for Christ. I came to learn He was unique and indeed the divine Son of God. The four Gospels present an accurate historical record of Christ. Your assertion that the Gospels were written hundreds of years after the death of Christ is incorrect. I believed that claim for many years until I studied the evidence. Presently, due to the evidence we have found, I do not think you will find many historians today agreeing with your assertion. There is strong internal and external evidence that the gospels were written by eye-witnesses in the lifetime of the eye-witnesses. Here are just a few evidences. We have numerous ancient manuscripts that uphold a first century date. The Chester Beatty Papyri contains most of the New Testament and is dated 250 A.D. Since it is a copy of the entire New Testament, we can safely concluded the original books of the New Testament were written well before, probably in the late first or early Second century A.D. The Bodmer Papyri dates to 200 A.D. and contains most of the book of John, the last gospel written. Since this is a copy, the original was probably written earlier and since Matthew, Mark and Luke precede John, they are written even earlier. Finally, we have the Rylands Papyri which is a fragment of the book of John which dates 120 A.D. and this fragment was found in Egypt. We can conclude that John was written within the first century since he wrote from Asia Minor and this copy had made its way from there down to Egypt where it was found. Since Matthew, Mark, and Luke precede John, we can conclude these books were written within the first century A.D. The manuscript evidence alone silences the assertion that the gospels were written centuries after Christ’s death. Then we have quotes from the early Church Fathers. Clement of Rome wrote a letter to the church in Corinth in 90 AD and quotes from all four Gospels. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch writes a letter from Rome in 115 AD and quotes all four Gospels. Polycarp writes to the Philippians in 120 A.D. and quotes from all the Gospels. I could go on but I will stop here. The fact is the Church Fathers from the first three centuries are already familiar with the writings of the Apostles and are already quoting them as inspired scripture. So the assertion that the gospels are written hundreds of years after the death of Christ is a false assertion. For more information, please read my article titled, “The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.” Patrick Zukeran

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Dating Questions

Dear Pat, I just read your on-line article, “Most Asked Questions on Dating.” My daughter recently met a young man that said, “I have dated more girls than I can remember.” However, he seems polite, educated, and religious. I feel very strongly that my daughter should only date men that are pure. How and when should she ask this young man if he is pure? They have only known each other for 2 weeks. Thank you.

Dear Concerned Mother, Let me offer three words of advice. First, the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth (John 16). If you do not have the peace of God, if there are signs of concern, seriously pray about it and if you really are seeking after God’s will, He will lead you to the right path. Second, I would warn against getting involved with a person who says he has “dated more girls than he can remember.” From this comment I would conclude he does not seriously care for the other girls he got involved with. He was not concerned about their feelings, nor the hurt the break up caused. He obviously is not committed and is quite self-centered seeking to satisfy his interests and then move on when the other person no longer is of interest to him. Finally, on the issue of purity, if it is of concern, it should be asked. God commands that we be pure and holy. This is an important question and if he is truly seeking to obey the Lord, this young man should not be afraid to answer truthfully this question. Hope this helps. Patrick Zukeran

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After Death?

Hello, My name is Noah.I am a 14 year leadership member in my church. I was reading your article on what happens after death. Unfortunately I saw some things that were questionable, I would appreciate it if you would try to clear these up for me. Firstly The issue of gods presistance in his being god is unchanging so the sentence out of you article that I quote “Despite Saul’s disobedience to God, God made an exception here” From the previous quote I ask how you explain the point of view Secondly The issue of eternal security ” Saul at this point in his life was out of God’s will and because the Spirit of God had left him, he could not receive any word from God” If god is dwelling in you then god can always work through you and I believe that once you accept god then he will stay with you for all time. Thirdly You stated that everyone will be judged from their works and god will credit their works on the day of judgment but this is not the message in this parable the message is revealed to me as we will be judged by how we use the gifts that god has given us but if we don’t use the gifts that god has given us then we will lose those gifts and the ones blessed with many gifts and use them wisely will also receive our gifts because he has proved himself responsible. You said “The lesson for the Christian is that each of us will give an account for our time here on earth. This is not the same as being judged on our salvation status. Christ’s death on the cross allows all who believe to enter God’s kingdom. We will be judged on our works done since the time of our salvation.” I would appreciate it if you would get back to me. In his love, Noah

Dear Noah, Thanks for reading my article. You ask some great questions. Let me first address the issue of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit was not given to all believers until Pentecost in the Book of Acts. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would rest upon the prophets or the kings of Israel but the Holy Spirit could also depart from those individuals. That is why David prays in psalm 51 “…take not your Holy Spirit away from me.” In the Old Testament, the dwelling of the Holy Spirit was not permanent. That promise was prophesied and fulfilled in the New Testament. In regard to Saul, he had walked away from God and there was no prophet to speak to him. In desperation he turns to the witch of Endor. The vision she sees is Samuel the Prophet. Some believe this was a demonic counterfeit. This may be true. I believe it was Samuel for he makes a prophecy that comes true. In this case, God allowed Saul one last word as an act of His mercy but of judgment as well. God allowed Saul to here a word from God but this was a word of judgment. Finally in regard to spiritual gifts. The New Testament teaches that the Holy Spirit indwells believers permanently (Ephesians 1:13). Along with the Holy Spirit are the gifts He gives. I do not believe the gifts are taken away from believers who do not use them. I believe they remain unused and will be accounted for on the day Christians are judged for their rewards. Thanks for reading the article. Write again any time. Patrick Zukeran

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Subject: Uh oh! If you can believe in translations made by biased theologians, you can’t argue with a fossil that you can actually see, here, now. It’s carbon-dated the same way or old Greek manuscripts were. So you can’t argue that, right? So, there goes creationism, right? Do you really think Noah had one of these on his boat? So did Jesus really suffer? Seems he recruited Judas, his good buddy. He fooled a lot of people! It’s a good thing we found this important document, huh? I’m interested to see how you spin/dance around these bits of reality. Benjamin

Dear Benjamin, Thanks for visiting our web site. I enjoy discussing issues with non-Christians. However, to have a productive dialogue, there must be maturity and basic courtesy. Also, please present your own research and evidence for your case. To simply state my reasons are false and without presenting your own research does very little. When attacking an issue, it helps to do careful research and think through the issues. For example, the first argument you present is that of a fossil Tiktaalik roseae which is a fish. You claim this somehow discredits that account of Noah and the flood because Noah would not be able to fit this on his ark. Since you are a biochemistry major from Wisconsin, I will not have to have a long explanation. First, the Tiktaalik Rosae is a fish and fish live in water. According to the Genesis flood story, it rained and flooded the earth. When it floods, water covers the land. Fish, live in water and Tiktaalik Rosae is a fish that lives in water. Why does a fish need to be rescued from water? Noah does not need to rescue any fish from the flood because fish live in water. So, of course, I do not think Noah had one of these on his ark. He does not need to rescue fish from the environment they live in. If you have any research that shows fish need to be rescued from water and brought to safety on land, I would enjoy reading about it. Since most of your arguments are of this nature, I do not see the need to address them at this time. If you would like to present some of your own research for your positions, I would enjoy looking at them. Thank you Patrick Zukeran

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Is it wrong to cremate the body at death?

The practice of cremation is connected with pagan burial practices. Pantheists such as Buddhists and Hindus believe the body is bad and that the true self (sometimes refereed to as the soul) is trapped in the body. Therefore, cremation symbolizes the deliverance from the prison house of the body and dissolving of the individual personhood. There are a few occurrences of cremation in the Bible but the reason is that the body was desecrated (1 Sam. 31:12). Under normal circumstances, Jews and Christians buried the body. For Christians the body is buried because the body is good and created and given by God (1 Cor. 6:19). We also await the resurrection of the body, which will occur when Christ returns and our bodies will be resurrected in their new glorified state (1 Thess 4:16-18).

Having said that, cremation is not the unpardonable sin. God will recreate the body no matter what state it may be in, that is no problem for Him. Burial is the Christian practice for the reasons I stated and as a general rule we want to honor God in our death and burial and not associate with pagan practices. However, there are times where cremation may be necessary or preferred and I am sure God grants grace in those circumstances. I hope this helps. Pat Zukeran

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Response to “The Pagan Connection” Article

This email concerns your article on the internet titled “The pagan connection:Did christianity borrow from the Mystery Religions”i will copy and paste some of your statements with my comments below.

From you:Proponents of this view lump together pagan religions as if they are one religion when making comparisons to Christianity. An attempt is made to show strong parallels by combining features from various religions.{4}However, when the individual myths themselves are studied, the reader soon finds major differences and very little commonality.
From me>>We will see a little farther along if your statement in the last 3 lines above are true or false.
From you:A third fallacy is the chronological fallacy. Supporters of the theory incorrectly assume that Christianity borrowed many of its ideas from the mystery religions, but the evidence reveals it was actually the other way around.
From me>>I will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the evidence will show that your last line above is a lie.
From you:There is no archaeological evidence that mystery religions were in Palestine in the first century A.D.
From me>>It is a known fact that worship of Mithra began in the Roman Empire about 70 B.C.therefore christianity was not earlier,Mithraism was.
From you:Christianity gains its source from Judaism, not Greek mythology.
From me>>Agreed most of it’s sources are from Judism,but the O.T.
does not teach a burning hell,that comes from Greek mythology.
From you:To sum up, the claim that Christianity adopted its resurrection account from the pagan mystery religions is false. There are very few parallels to the resurrection of Christ. The idea of a physical resurrection to glory is foreign to these religions, and the stories of dying a rising gods do not appear till well after Christianity
From me>>To sum it up the above is a plain simple lie,you use the word false above which means a lie.I am going to use quotes from  an early church father that proves your statement above a bare faced lie.His name is Justin Martyr he wrote around 150 a.d.why christianity wants to lie and say paganism copied from christianity is the most ignorant thing you can do,i guess you hope no one will research your claim.When trying to convert the pagan Trypho to christianity here is what Justin admits.

Justin Martyr:
“When we say that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.” Apology 21 by Justin Martyr

From me>>Justin Martyr here admits # 1.That he was writting to a pagan and admitting Jupiter(or Jove)a Sun God was earlier than the Jesus claim.# 2.Justin admits also that Jupiter was supposedly born of a virgin(without sexual union).# 3.Jupiter was crucified and died,just like the Jesus claim.# 4.Jupiter rose again,just like Jesus.# 5. He(Jupiter) ascended to heaven,just like Jesus.# 6.In fact then Justin says that Jesus was no different than Jupiter,well Jupiter was a Sun God therefore Jesus being just like him (no different)was a Sun God also.
Next is a Justin Martyr paste that shows when you elesewhere claim Greek gods were only vegatation gods that you lied again,Dionysus below is a Greek god.

Justin Martyr:

For when they say that Dionysus arose again and ascended to heaven, is it not evidence the devil has imitated the prophecy?”
– Justin Martyr, church father. [22:55]

From me>>Here again Justin admits another Sun God(actually there were dozens) before Jesus arose and ascended to heaven,the similarities between earlier dying and resurrecting sun gods was bothering Justin so much that all he could think of was blaming it on the Devil knowing the prophecies of the O.T. in advance of god’s supposed plan and imatating(counterfeited) them before god did.It takes a complete mind controlled idiot to make such a lying claim that paganism copied off of christianity when every tale about Jesus in the N.T.can be found centurys earlier than christianity told about sun gods.Even Mithra which christianity likes to claim copied off of christianity began in the Roman Empire about 70 or 80 B.C.or about 130 years before Jesus was claimed to be crucified.So who copied off of who?

Justin Martyr:

For when they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by [Jupiter?s] intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that [the devil] has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses?

From me>>Here is shown more similarities between the Jesus tales and earlier sun god tales,remember John 15:1-6 about Jesus being the vine,well above it shows the Jesus wine tale was told earlier in sun god mysteries.
Another paste from Justin:

Justin Martyr:

And these things were said both among the Greeks and among all nations where they [the demons] heard the prophets foretelling that Christ would specially be believed in; but that in hearing what was said by the prophets they did not accurately understand it, but imitated what was said of our Christ, like men who are in error, we will make plain. [First Apology

From me>>Again Justin must make excuses because the sun god tales(paganism)were earlier than christianity and the Jesus tale so similar.Even your Bible shows you a liar when you claim pagans copied off the N.T.claims.Christmas(same custom not yet named Christmas)was celebrated as a pagan custom and shown in Jer.10:2-5 later the Roman Catholics copied this pagan custom into the Jesus birth tale calling itCHRISTS-MASS,same custom re-named.Easter(Ishtar or Estorte) was a pagan custom way back in the time Ezekiel was written in Ezek.8:14-16 you see this was a pagan custom condemned by god,but at an Easter Sunrise service you see this same custom observed by christianity you face the sun in the East for an Easter sunrise service,so again this proves pagans did not copy off of christianity it proves christians copied off of paganism.You can claim you are observing Christs resurrection even though he didn’t tell you to observe his resurrection but actually you are observing centurys earlier than christianity a pagan custom.Another Justin Martyr quote shows christianity also nearly surely copied the Last Supper from pagan Mithra worshippers.If not from Mithra you can find this custom in other sun god customs long before christianity.

[First Apology, Chap 66]:
“For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.”

From you:Our study of the mystery religions reveals very few parallels with Christianity. For this reason, the theory that Christianity copied its major tenets from the mystery religions should be rejected.
From me>>I suggest that you if you want to tell the truth(which you don’t) that you change the idiotic claim that paganism copied from christianity,Justin Martyr shows you a liar very,very plainly.Christianity that includes you will twist supposed Holy scriptures in an effort to claim an inerrant,infallible,god inspired Bible,you will twist ancient history the same way in a vain effort to try and get it to agree with your supposed but far from it god inspired Bible.Try telling the truth. 


Dear Jay,

Thanks for reading my article.  I enjoy a good critique and criticism of my work. However, there is no need for name calling and personal attacks.  These are unwarranted and demonstrate a lack of maturity and character.  It reflects very poorly on the individual who needs to use such words and tactics.  I enjoy discussions with mature individuals who can give a good critique and interact like an adult.  I hope you will be able to do so in the future.

Time does not allow me to address all your points but let me address just a few. You stated the following.  “Even  Mithra which christianity likes to claim copied off of christianity began in the Roman Empire about 70 or 80 B.C.or about 130 years before Jesus was claimed to be crucified.So who copied off of who?”

I stated in my article that, “Mithraism flowered after Christianity.”  In other words, Mithraism arose about the first century B.C. but it gained popularity or “flowered” after Christianity.  Since it had a small following in the First Century B.C., and its teachings are contrary to Christianity, it is highly unlikely Christianity borrowed from this religion.  According to most historians the major beliefs of Mithraism developed about 100 A.D., decades after the founding of Christianity.[1] As it developed, ideas were borrowed from Christianity not the other way around.  As I mentioned in my article, there is very little parallel between Mithraism and Christianity.  There is no parallel in the alleged virgin birth.  Mithra appears out of a rock. Some versions teach he was stuck in the rock and shepherds pulled him out.  These are hardly parallels to Christ’s birth.  Where we see Mithraism borrowing from Christianity is in doctrines like the resurrection.  As I stated, there is no teaching of a death or resurrection of Mithra until after Christianity.  The Greeks had no teaching of a physical bodily resurrection of man after death.  The Greek writer Aeschylus sums up the Greek view of , “When the earth has drunk up a man’s blood, once he is dead, there is no resurrection[2].

For your point to be true, you need to show that the story of Mithra dying and rising from the dead is found in manuscripts predating Christianity.  Please present the documents that support your position.  Yes, Mithraism, was started in the First Century B.C. but it did not flourish till after Christianity and did not develop its teachings such as a resurrection till after Christianity.  If you can show that there is manuscript evidence that shows the death and resurrection of Mithra appears in ancient documents dating prior to Christianity, your conclusion would be true. So my statement that many pagan myths such as Mithraism borrowed from Christianity is correct and not a “lie” as you accuse.

Regarding your quotes of Justin Martyr, we need to first understand the context of Justin’s writings.  One cannot simply take quotes out of context but must always look at the context of the writing.  Justin is writing in 150 A.D. when Christians are being persecuted by the Roman Empire.  He states several reasons why the Romans should extend tolerance to the Christians.  Here are just a few.  First, Christians live worthy lives. Second, Christian teachings are true and virtuous which makes for worthy citizens.  Third, if the Romans tolerate Greek pagan beliefs which promote immoral lifestyles, why can they not tolerate Christian doctrines which teach truth and encourage believers to live virtuous lives? 

When Justin points out similar concepts, he is not saying the concepts are identical nor is he saying Christianity borrowed from these pagan myths.  Those who assume that are reading too much into Justin Martyrs writings.  As I stated in my article, there are few parallels between the Greek myths and Christianity and I am sure Justin knows this.  He is asking that if the Romans will tolerate these false and immoral Greek myths, they should also tolerate Christianity whose teachings present doctrines that are true and noble. There are similar concepts but not identical concepts and Christianity is a religion based on facts and teaches virtuous character not immorality like the pagan myths.  Throughout his writings, he denounces these myths as immoral and untrue.

“But far be such a thought concerning the gods from every well-conditioned soul, as to believe that Jupiter himself, the governor and creator of all things, was both a parricide and the son of a parricide, and that being overcome by the love of base and shameful pleasures, he came in to Ganymede and those many women whom he had violated and that his sons did like actions. But, as we said above, wicked devils perpetrated these things. And we have learned that those only are deified who have lived near to God in holiness and virtue; and we believe that those who live wickedly and do not repent are punished in everlasting fire.” (First Apology Ch. XX)

Now let me address a few of your quotes from Justin Martyr.  Your first quote from Justin is, “When we say that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.” Apology 21 by Justin Martyr.

You then conclude,

“Justin Martyr here admits # 1.That he was writing to a pagan and admitting Jupiter(or Jove)a Sun God was earlier than the Jesus claim.# 2.Justin admits also that Jupiter was supposedly born of a virgin(without sexual union).# 3.Jupiter was crucified and died,just like the Jesus claim.# 4.Jupiter rose again,just like Jesus.# 5. He(Jupiter) ascended to heaven,just like Jesus.# 6.In fact then Justin says that Jesus was no different than Jupiter,well Jupiter was a Sun God therefore Jesus being just like him (no different)was a Sun God also.”

First, Justin is not saying Jupiter was virgin born, that he died, rose and ascended to heaven.  In fact if you read the previous chapter (ch. XX) carefully, Justin states, Jupiter was the son of a parricide. In Greek mythology he is Zeus and the son of Chronus and Rhea and married to Hera.  So your first premise is incorrect.  Justin is referring to the “sons of Jupiter” as he stated in his final sentence.  I do not believe there is a myth of Jupiter dying and rising from the dead.  Justin is not drawing any parallel to Jupiter.  Jupiter was believed to be the Sun God as you state, but Justin never taught Jesus was a Sun God like Jupiter. Christianity teaches Jesus is the Son of God, the creator of the universe. You have misunderstood Justin Martyr’s quote here.  He is pointing to the “sons of Jupiter”

Justin is saying, there are similar concepts of gods, the sons of Jupiter being born without sexual union, dying gods who rise etc…  He states there are those concepts in these false, immoral religions that you tolerate, therefore, you should tolerate Christianity which is a true, historical, and moral faith.  However, he is not saying the teachings of Christianity are identical to the Greek myths.  As I showed in my article, the “virgin birth” and “resurrection” of the Greek gods are vastly different from the resurrection of Christ.

Your next statement is:

“Next is a Justin Martyr paste that shows when you elsewhere claim Greek gods were only vegatation gods that you lied again,Dionysus below is a Greek god.” You later quote Justin Martyr again, “For when they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by [Jupiter?s] intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that [the devil] has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses?”

From these quotes you draw several conclusions.  First, conclude, “Here again Justin admits another Sun God(actually there were dozens) before Jesus arose and ascended to heaven,the similarities between earlier dying and resurrecting sun gods was bothering Justin so much that all he could think of was blaming it on the Devil knowing the prophecies of the O.T. in advance of god’s supposed plan and imatating(counterfeited) them before god did.It takes a complete mind controlled idiot to make such a lying claim that paganism copied off of christianity when every tale about Jesus in the N.T.can be found centurys earlier than christianity told about sun gods.”  You then also add later, “Here is shown more similarities between the Jesus tales and earlier sun god tales,remember John 15:1-6 about Jesus being the vine,well above it shows the Jesus wine tale was told earlier in sun god mysteries.”

Once again, as I stated in my article, when you study the myth of Dionysius, there are few parallels to Jesus.  One version of the myth teaches Zeus has sex with Semele, and Hera in a jealous rage tears up the baby.  Zeus finds the heart, places it in his thigh and the embryo grows to maturity and thus Dionysius is born.  Dionysius thus died, and was “resurrected” and “ascends” and learns about wine.  In his lifetime he wanders and has several lover including men and women.  Once again, what parallel is there to Jesus virgin birth, death and resurrection?  Justin in the context of his writing is saying, you Romans have myths of gods like Dionysius dying and rising from the dead.  If you can believe and tolerate these myths, why can you not tolerate we Christians who believe in the Son of God who died and rose again.  Why should we be persecuted for this faith when you tolerate many false myths?  Justin is not saying Dionysius’ story is identical to Christ.  That is a false reading of Justin.  Justin states that these religions are counterfeit lies from Satan.  He states this because he knows them to be false and untrue stories.  Also, these myths are filled with immoral conduct from the gods who serve as poor examples to men as Justin repeatedly points out.  Both the false nature and immorality of the gods is what Justin points out.  There is nothing strange with this conclusion he draws.

Unfortunately throughout your writing, you are making the terminology fallacy I explained in my article.  The context of Justin Martyr’s writings is that he is pleading with the Roman government for tolerance of Christianity.  The teachings of Christianity are true, moral, and good.  When he shows similarities between Christianity and the Greek myths, his is speaking in very general terms.  He is saying the teachings of Christianity should not seem so foreign since the general concepts of non sexual procreation, resurrection from death, are not completely foreign to Roman thinking.  That is really all he is saying.  A careful reading of Justin Martyr reveals this.  He states,

And that this may now become evident to you–(firstly) that whatever we assert in conformity with what has been taught us by Christ, and by the prophets who preceded Him, are alone true, and are older than all the writers who have existed; that we claim to be acknowledged, not because we say the same things as these writers said, but because we say true things: and (secondly) that Jesus Christ is the only proper Son who has been begotten by God, being His Word and first-begotten, and power; and, becoming man according to His will, He taught us these things for the conversion and restoration of the human race: and (thirdly) that before He became a man among men, some, influenced by the demons before mentioned, related beforehand, through the instrumentality of the poets, those circumstances as having really happened, which, having fictitiously devised, they narrated, in the same manner as they have caused to be fabricated the scandalous reports against us of infamous and impious actions, of which there is neither witness nor proof–we shall bring forward the following proof. (First Apology Chapter XXIII).

Here Justin states, the writings of the prophets precede “all the writers who existed…”  Christianity derives its source from Judaism whose writers precede the Greek poets.  Second, he is not saying the same things as the Greek writers.  Third, Jesus is the only true Son of God who became a man.  Fourth, the teachings and life of Christ are true and based on historical facts not mythology like the Greek myths.  Finally, men inspired by demons fabricated myths and false allegations against the Christians.  Justin understands that Greek myths are false, and contrary to Christian teachings.  It is a stretch to allege that Justin’s work proves Christianity borrowed from pagan myths.

It is inaccurate to conclude that the pagan teachings are identical to Christianity and that Christianity borrowed from the pagan myths.  Time does not allow me to answer the rest of the quotes.  However, from the first few I have evaluated, it is evident that your conclusions are in error.  Perhaps a more careful reading of my article and Justin’s works would be helpful.

Patrick Zukeran

[1] Walter Burkett, Ancient Mystery Religions (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), 7. 

[2] Geisler, Norman L.: Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, Mich. : Baker Books, 1999 (Baker Reference Library), S. 492

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How do I reach a Japanese Buddhist Student?

I would like a suggestion for a good resource for a friendship family who is connecting with a Buddhist Japanese student. I know that there are probably several good resources available, but I would like for someone who has experience with Buddhist Japanese students to give me a recommendation for one that would be especially good for a friendship family.


Dear Patsy,

It would be good to gain a general understanding of what kind of Buddhism the student follows by asking the 8 worldview questions.  Often, Japanese Buddhist are Buddhist by culture but they are not really sure of what they believe so find out what kind of Buddhist he is, Pure Land, Jodo Shinshu, Zen, Sokka Gakkai, etc… By asking the eight worldview questions, the person often realizes they may not know really what they believe or what their tradition teaches.

  1. What is the nature of God?
  2. What is the nature of the universe?
  3. What is the nature of man?
  4. What is the mankind’s problem?  Why does evil exist?
  5. What is the solution to mankind’s problem? (Salvation)
  6. What happens after death?
  7. What is the nature of truth?
  8. What is the meaning of history?

Listen carefully to the answers and that will help you discover what their worldview and general beliefs are.

Next, share how Christ confirmed his claims to be the divine Son of God through His miraculous sinless life, death, and resurrection and that He came to rescue the world from sin and death not just Americans or the West. Show how Christ is greater than Buddha or the mythical gods of Pure land Buddhism.

Finally, invite him into a personal relationship with God.  In Buddhism, there is no concept of a personal relationship with God, that is a big void in the Buddhist tradition.  That is very intriguing to a Japanese Buddhist.  A good book is God’s Samurai by Fuchida.  He led the attack on Pearl Harbor and later came to Christ.  The idea of God dying for us is what brough him to Christ. Patrick Zukeran

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The Eastern Mindset and Evidential Apologetics

Hi Pat, Thanks again for teaching here in the Philippines. I have a question for you. When you were here in the Philippines you mentioned that evidential type apologetics is not suited for Asian/Eastern mind. Am I correct? If so, how do you characterize an Asian mindset in contrast to western mindset? What type of apologetics will suit Asian mindset? Thanks for the help. Gerry

Dear Gerry, Evidential apologists include scholars such as Gary Habbermas and Josh McDowell. These are fine scholars and the evidentialist approach is a fine approach. They usually begin with the resurrection of Jesus and once they prove Jesus is the divine Son of God, they then proceed to build their case for Christianity from there. Since many in the East are pantheist, they often conclude that Jesus is another holy man and will add them to their pantheon of gods or holy men who have attained enlightenment. I believe classical apologetics is most effective. We must first show we live in a theistic universe. Once you show we live in a theistic universe, then the worldview of Pantheism is false. From there we show that God uses miracles to confirm His message and His messengers. Then we can show Jesus is the unique Son of God through His miraculous life death and resurrection. I believe the best place to start is at worldviews before we go on to Christian apologetics. Pat Zukeran

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Witnessing to Mormon and Jehovah Witness Friends

Hi Pat,
I have a close friend who is a Mormon and cousins who even served in their ministry. I would like to see how an apologist approach them in sharing our Jesus.

I also have close family members who are Jehovah’s witnesses but I don’t know where to start the conversation on Jesus.

May I have some ideas?



Hi Sue,
I wrote several articles that will help you on Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness. Go to www.evidenceandanswers.org or www.probe.org and you can download these articles and they give you great information.

For a Mormon, they believe they are Christians and will do all they can to convince you they are Christians. So you need to show them there is a significant difference between the God of Mormonism and the God of the Bible. You must also show the Mormon Jesus is very different from the Jesus of the Bible. You must also show the Mormon Gospel is different from the Gospel taught in the New Testament. Finally, they will appeal to the Book of Mormon and you can then show the Book of Mormon is not a historical document but a work of fiction. The articles “Mormon Doctrine of God”, “Mormon Doctrine of Jesus,” and “Examining the Book of Mormon” are great articles that will give you the information you need.

Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the doctrine of the Trinity. JWs put their faith in their organization as God’s organization who alone has the authority to interpret scripture. Therefore, you must first show their organization has made significant errors. One area is false prophecy. In the article, “Witnessing to the Witnesses” you can get a pdf copy of their original articles that predict the return of Jesus in 1914, 1925, and 1975. Another effective avenue is to show that Jesus is God the Son and the Holy Spirit is also God. The article gives you passages in the New Testament that demonstrate Jesus is God the Son and the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. Another great article is “Why You Should Believe in the Trinity.” This article answers a lot of the JW arguments given in their magazine that attempts to refute the Trinity. These articles are a great place to go.

Also you can go to Evidenceandanswers.org and listen to interviews I did on Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness. I present my approach but I also interview experts in the cults who share their approaches as well. So there are some good resources for you.


Patrick Zukeran

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Virgin Birth of Alexander the Great and Jesus

Dear Patrick,

My name is Michael. I recently watched an old movie called Alexander the Great with Richard Burton as the lead actor. In this movie which was done presumably in the 50’s or 60’s there are several allusions to Alexander as being unnaturally born with supposedly a star in the sky marking his birth(comet)? And that supposedly he was from the gods. I even heard him say “to you I commend my spirit”. This prompted me to read the book you referenced by Wallace, Sawyer,etc. The book did reference Plutarch: Life of Alexander. I was wondering if the author who wrote your article about Hellenism (I believe his name is Patrick and he’s a Hawaiian radio show host has done any research on this movie and if Alexander ever said “to you I commend my spirit”; I believe he says in the section concerning the death of King Darius, or if this Hollywood theatrics. I would also like to know if skeptics use this supposed parallelism w/alex as a weapon vs. Christianity (2 Cor 10:3-6)? thank you and I look forward to your response.


Dear Mike,

In regards to the life of Jesus, we have very accurate historical records. The New Testament represents the earliest accounts, most of which are first generation, eyewitness accounts. For example, 1 Cor. 15:3-5, is an early creed that we can date to within five years of the resurrection. Paul’s letters are written prior to his death in 64 A.D. The Gospels are written prior to 70 A.D. There are also nearly a dozen non-Christian historical works that affirm numerous events and characters of the New Testament. We also have over five thousand ancient manuscripts which assure us the New Testament has been accurately preserved. So when it comes to the life of Jesus, we have a very accurate historical record. (For more see the article, “Historical Reliability of the Gospels” at probe.org)

For the life of Alexander there are much less historical materials, which come much later after his death. The earliest accounts from Plutarch, Arrian, Quintus, and Diodorus are more than three centuries after the life of Alexander. Historical research shows that legends arise two to three generations after the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. Historians agree that there are non-historical anecdotes in these biographies.

In regard to Alexander’s birth there are various accounts of events. For example Plutarch records that on the day that Alexander was born, the temple of Diana at Ephesus burned down. In regards to any kind of supernatural virgin birth, there is very little parallel to Christ’s birth. Plutarch states that the night before her wedding, Alexander’s mother Olympias dreamed a bolt of lightning fell upon her womb. Later Alexander’s father Philip supposedly saw a serpent lying next to her. Philip suspected his wife had been impregnated by the serpent and his love for her dwindled. This story most historians take as fiction, hardly parallels the birth of Jesus.

Alexander died a tragic death at 32 years old. I do not find in any of the records he stated, “to you I commend my spirit.” This is probably Hollywood embellishment. There is little parallel between the life of Alexander and Jesus. Alexander accomplished a remarkable achievement in his conquests. However, any miracle accounts are most likely fiction. He does not perform supernatural miracles as Jesus did, and in the end he died of poisoning. Alexander may have conquered the Middle East and Europe, but he could not conquer death, unlike Jesus who defeated the unbeatable foe of sin and death through His resurrection.

Thanks for your question,

Patrick Zukeran

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The Teachings of Marcus Borg

Hi Dr. Zukeran,

I am writing to ask you if you are familiar with Marcus Borg and his beliefs and teachings.  My sister and her family have recently started attending a church and Borg’s book Reading the Bible Again For the First Time has been chosen by the pastoral leadership as the text for a class that is “highly recommended” for new and old members.

After looking up information on Borg online, I am disturbed by some of the things I am reading, and I’m not sure if Borg’s ideas are in line with biblical teaching.  This is especially disturbing as this is the first time my sister and her family have decided to attend a church.

I would appreciate any information you could provide.  I really enjoy listening to your radio program “Evidence and Answers” and am planning to purchase your books for my family to read this summer. My children are teens now and I feel that they would really benefit from having the evidence and answers to support their own faith.

Thank you for your time,


Greetings Erin,

Marcus Borg is a liberal New Testament historian and one of the leaders of the liberal Jesus Seminar. He believes the Jesus of the New Testament is a Jesus of myth. He rejects most of the Gospels as unhistorical and views most accounts as legendary based on sources such as Greek mythology.  He believes the historical Jesus was simply a teacher. Borg rejects the possibility of miracles and views the miracles of Jesus as legend. Therefore, he rejects the resurrection of Christ. This results in him rejecting the deity of Christ. Marcus Borg rejects key doctrines of the Christian faith.

Borg’s foundation is built on a naturalistic worldview that rejects miracle accounts a priori. Instead of examining the evidence, he rejects miracles from the start because of his worldview. If one reads Borg without knowing the facts, one’s Christian faith would be destroyed. A good Bible teaching pastor should never recommend a liberal like Borg.

I studied under liberals like Borg. A young Christian will become confused and quickly disillusioned if they are not equipped.

I hope this helps. Thanks so much for writing and listening to the show.

Aloha ke Akua,

Patrick Zukeran

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