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The main premise of this book is that the writers of the Gospels are creators of fiction; more precisely, it is suggested, they took material from a variety of sources, mostly the OT but a few pagan sources as well, in order to compose fictional stories about Jesus of Nazareth.
Before beginning the by-page analysis, we will lay out general replies to the major thesis of Gospel Fictions (hereafter GF) that the stories of the NT were stolen from the OT (and sometimes other sources). Helms' chief tactic is to search for Greek terms found in NT stories and find what he thinks are parallels in the OT. The secondary key, and what is commonly offered as a strong proof of fictionalization, is that Greek words found in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the OT, are also found in the NT stories.
Generally our replies are one of the following:
- In some cases, Helms simply overstates his case.
A conclusion is drawn from minimal evidence, a mere fingerful of words in the body of a text. In some cases these words are found in so many places that the correspondence in the two stories is statistically meaningless.
- Recasting of stories in terms of previous stories was a normal practice and admired skill in this day.
Helms assumes that there was no known (or unknown) history of Jesus and that the NT writers scoured the OT (and other sources) looking for material they could turn into a Jesus story. Never considered is the idea that the NT writers had an actual story of Jesus which they proceeded to retell, with skill, using as many allusions to the OT as they could.
This would have been a standard practice of the era and no point against the historicity of the text in and of itself. Historicity should be determined by the normal tests: i.e., "Is it plausible as history?" -- not by whether it contains imitations of another story.
Malina and Neyrey report in Portraits of Paul [89-90] that one form of support for testimony was "probabilities" -- verification from general experience. Rhetoriticians noted that when setting forth a statement to a judge or jury, orators should "pay attention to the question of whether he will find his hearers possessed of a personal knowledge of the things of which he is speaking, as that is the sort of statement they are most likely to believe." An appeal to common experience was always helpful to aid in understanding.
When Bible stories follow typical forms, they do so for this very purpose. Using words and phrases from the Old Testament accomplished a similar purpose. Material is phrased in such a way as to appear verifiable from experience. Of course this again says nothing about historicity, but it gives ancient writers every motive to report what they say, true or false, in terms recognizable from previous experience.
If the NT imitates the OT, it has every reason to do so, and thereby offer no reason why we should argue for fabrication on these grounds alone. (This relates as well to the ancient prejudice against anything new.) Casting new things in old terms or relating it to the old was a way of trying to gain acceptance for the new.)
Flemming Nielsen (The Tragedy in History: Herodotus and the Deuteronomic History), in an examination of the histories of Herodotus, notes in that writer a purposeful intention to duplicate the vocabulary, morphology and style of Homer, and the use of "deliberate Homeric quotations", places where Herodotus "deliberately plays upon his readers' awareness of particular passages of Homer" (as indeed Luke does, using a variety of Greek works). Nielsen notes further:
A particularly marked occurrence of this is seen in the Croesus-narrative, where the many quotations from Homer and the entire Homeric structure are far more than merely an artistic decoration, in that they create a backcloth for Croesus' and Cyrus' speeches by associating them in the readers' mind with Agamemnon and Achilles. The most critical events in the account of the Persian wars are likewise related to the Homeric account. In this manner, the Persian wars are shown no less important than the Trojan war, the Persian-Greek conflict being a repetition of the war between Achaens and Trojans.
And Albert Lord, a specialist in oral and mythic traditions, had this to say in The Relationships Among the Gospels :
Traditional narrators tend to tell what happened in terms of already existent patterns of story. Since the already existing patterns allow for many multiforms and are the result of oft repeated human experience, it is not difficult to adjust another special case to the flexibly interpreted story patterns....The fact that the Entry (of Jesus) into Jerusalem, for example, fits an element of mythic pattern does not necessarily mean, however, that the event did not take place. On the contrary, I assume that it did take place, since I do not know otherwise, and that it was an incident that traditional narrators chose to include, partly at least because its essence had a counterpart in other stories and was similar to the essence of an element in an existing story pattern....That its essence was consonant with an elements in a traditional mythic (i.e., sacred) pattern adds a dimension of spiritual weight to the incident, but it does not deny (not does it confirm, for that matter) the historicity of the incident.
Rhiannon Ash, in the book Tacitus, gives examples of how that great historian -- considered the most reliable in the ancient world -- followed this very system of thought : While modern historians might use footnotes to draw parallels between different events, a historian like Tacitus "embeds such points in the very language which he uses." These allusions crafted through "linguistic echoes and structural similarities"  would create points of discussion for the reading (or listening) audience.
Helms simply asserts that the copying is equal to fiction-making. But this was not the praxis for the ancients, nor for Judaism: Words did not create events, but events called out the words. And what he and others call "fiction" is actually deliberate allusion of the sort Herodotus employs.
Let's make this more concrete with a hypothetical example that we have already noted: parallels between the Lincoln and Kennedy assassination.
If a writer about Kennedy wanted to invoke the thought of Lincoln, he might first find events in their lives that paralleled each other, as I did in the link. (This would be easiest if Kennedy himself had been trying to portray himself as a "new Lincoln," just as Jesus portrayed himself as a new prophet such as that of old, or John the Baptist portrayed himself as a new Elijah.) The writer would then seek out a popular and well-known biography of Lincoln (as we have, that one written by Oates, used in our Harmonization essays), just as the NT writers used the OT. (There is of course a break in the analogy here, since no one does such in-depth study of Oates' book, or uses it as a manual for life on a daily basis, or recites long portions of it from memory.)
They would then look for key phrases that could be taken from the Lincoln bio and used in a Kennedy bio. Thus, a person could take phrases from the Lincoln bio, dealing with Lincoln's assassination: "gunshot rang out," "frozen instant," "enveloped in smoke," "slumped forward," "deranged, incomprehensible terror," "screams, a medley of voices," and so on, and construct a perfectly serviceable (and entirely accurate) account of Kennedy's assassination.
This is all that the NT writers did, only with much greater artistry...and a subject much more inclined to imitate the past for a purpose, within the context of a society that looked for this kind of thing for authorization. (For more on this art, see my comments on MacDonald's Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark.) It is wrong to claim that imitation proves we "can never know what actually happened" or the like.
Related to this is another issue:
- Deliberate imitation as praxis.
Skeptics may scoff, but certainly it is taught within Scripture that some of the typological repeats, and other relevant signs, are ordained by God Himself. As Jesus said that the man born blind was born that way not because of any sin of his parents, but so that God's purpose might be made manifest through his healing, so is it not reasonable to suggest that typological parallels find their actions in the will of Deity, for the purpose of our own direction and edification?
But even without any appeal to the supernatural, in this world of ideas it would also be natural for a Jesus or any prophet to "re-enact" what others prior to them did, in order to create a new message.
- Oral tradition procedures encouraged patterns of imitation as aids to memorization.
When there is only a matter of a very few words, it is quite possible to take this tactic too far, as Helms has done. A later historian examining accounts of the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations could easily presume, based on the number of common words between the descriptions and similarity of themes, that much of what is written about Kennedy's death is a "fiction" designed to link him to Lincoln.
However, the unalterable fact is that similar situations REQUIRE similar words in order to be described - as we note, for example, in our critique of Werner Kelber's evaluation of Mark's healing stories. And in an oral society, where 95% of the people were illiterate, one way to aid in the memorization of new stories was to have each of them follow a given pattern, already resting as a "template" as it were in the brain.
In this light two stories of healings might be at hand; the newer one could be "shaved" of elements to make it more like the first one and easier to memorize (as well as invoking the praxis of deliberate imitation for reasons stated above). Thus let us say we have two stories:
Healing Story One
- The man was blind.
- He came to the prophet.
- He asked for help from the prophet.
- The prophet agreed.
- The prophet laid hands on him.
- The prophet healed him.
- The man left happy.
Healing Story Two
- The man was deaf.
- He went to doctors who were of no help.
- He came to the prophet.
- He asked the prophet if he could heal deafness.
- The prophet said he could.
- The man asked for help from the prophet.
- The prophet agreed.
- The man thanked the prophet.
- The prophet laid hands on him.
- The prophet healed him.
- The man asked the prophet if he could serve him in any way.
- The prophet declined.
- The man left happy.
By shaving off elements in bold, we would have Story Two seem like a mere imitation of Story One, never knowing that there was far more in the background unreported. This would also validate a principle of responding to claims of similarity with notes of differences, for the more differences there are between two stories, the easier it would have been for the composer of the later story to draw parallels to the antecedent.
There is also an interesting contradiction in Helms' methodology and that of Skeptics in general. It is often objected that NT writers badly used or misused OT passages, or used them out of context. As seen here, they did so doing nothing their contemporaries regarded as erroneous or abnormal. Yet if this is indeed the issue, how can it then be objected on the other hand that the NT writers created "fiction"? If they had to "stretch" the meaning of the OT "out of context" then isn't this a pointer to them having to do so to fit a historical situation? Helms is sometimes burning both ends of this candle.
There is one more related point:
- To do things like this was an admired skill and perfectly natural.
As Malina and Rohrbaugh note in their Social Science Commentary on the Synoptics [293-4], there was a process of oral poetry in the ancient world, and this process offers a far better explanation for such correspondences to the OT text as Helms finds. They write:
To be able to quote the tradition from memory, to apply it in creative or appropriate ways to the situation of daily living, not only brings honor to the speaker but lends authority to his words as well. The song of Zechariah, the so-called Benedictus, in Luke 1:68-79 is an example. It is stitched together from phrases of Psalms 41, 111, 132, 105, 106, and Micah 7. The ability to create such a mosaic implied extensive, detailed knowledge of the tradition and brought great honor to the speaker able to pull it off. [Emphasis added.]
Socially, then, the answer Helms offers of "fiction" is off the mark. Rather than arguing, i.e., that Jesus' betrayal and prayer at Gethsemane was divinely prefigured in the life of David, it is contextually more correct to suppose that Jesus, in light of his betrayal, composed a prayer that was stitched together from elements of the OT tradition; and rather than say that the NT writers scoured the Old Testament for events in the life of the important figures, then adapted those stories to fit Jesus, it is contextually more accurate to say that the NT writers, especially one like Matthew who was well-trained in the OT traditions, scoured their memory for OT texts that could be adapted to describe the daily life of Jesus.
To say otherwise, and to accuse on such grounds the NT writers of inventing history, is to assume Western reportage values upon people with entirely different means of communication.
We now proceed to a page by page critique of Helms' GF. Readers are expected to use this as a reference manual, either having a copy of GF or else knowing the page number a claim is drawn from.
This, of course, is not at all true, even under late-date premises. But what about the pre-70 dates we have suggested? Helms reports in a footnote that he is aware of the case presented by J.A.T. Robinson for earlier dates of the Gospels - but he says that it "does not convince me."
Does not convince him? That's a very interesting observation on Helms' personal views, but it hardly does the job when it is in regards to a keystone in his arch.
In terms of the difference between Eli and Eloi, Helms' suggestion is overstated. Does Helms suppose that the two very similar words "Eli" or "Eloi", without any contextual clues as was the case with other things said from the cross, would have been found to be any more distinct when said by a man hoisted on a cross ten feet above the ground, suffocating to death, dying of thirst with his tongue swollen, bloodied, beaten and possibly barely conscious? Can we assume that Aramaic was Mark's native tongue and that he wrote as he did to make the words more intelligible to his readers, rather than hypothesizing psychological constructs of i.e., Matthew "self-consciously" changing the text to reflect Ps. 22 better?
Helms is also in error re languages: Jesus did speak Aramaic, but Hebrew was used in speech as a language of religious matters, and it is far more likely that Jesus spoke Hebrew when he quoted the Psalm.
On invention of speeches in Acts, see here
- "heaven opened" Ezekiel 1:1, LXX (enoich hoi ouranoi); Acts 10:11 (ten ouranon anegmenon)
- "eat" Ezekiel 2:9, Acts 10:3 (phage)
- "By no means, Lord" Ezekiel 4:14, Acts 10:14 (medamos, Kyrios)
- "uncleanness" Ezekiel 4:14, Acts 10:14 (alcatharton)
It is fairly easy to see that this case is overstated. Helms must range rather widely in Ezekiel in order to make his point. That's bad enough, but in one case (#1) the parallel is dubious; in most of these cases, the words cited are so commonly used in the OT and the NT, and so regularly in conjunction with events in the Bible overall (the opening of heaven, eating and uncleanness, addressing God as Lord) that they are practically meaningless in terms of what Helms is trying to prove and only support the idea that Luke (or Peter) is making creative application of the OT text in accord with the data above.
Let's see how:
- "heaven opened" Ezekiel 1:1, LXX (enoich hoi ouranoi); Acts 10:11 (ten ouranon anegmenon) -- the same or similar language is found in Gen. 7:11 (of rains), Matt. 3:16, and Rev. 19:11.
At most for Helms, Luke has adopted a stereotypical phrase signifying the occurrence of a vision, which does not place into question the historicity of the vision itself; more likely, the opening the heavens are a proper mode of operation for such a vision to begin with, especially for someone on a roof (which Ezekiel was not; nor was his vision a thing like Peter's).
- "eat" Ezekiel 2:9, Acts 10:3 (phage) -- this word is found only (!) 97 times in the NT and refers to an everyday action. It is also accompanied by a command to rise and kill, with no parallel in Ezekiel, and the word "eat" (found 500+ times in the OT) is used of Ezekiel eating a scroll and there is no similarity in menu or in reason for eating.
- "By no means, Lord" Ezekiel 4:24, Acts 10:14 (medamos, Kyrios) -- Only this has any uniqueness, but it is a word used by Luke four times (also Luke 11:36, 12:4). This rather dulls any possibility of connection with Ezekiel, but is just as well Peter using his skill as a religious Jew to model his own refusal. At best for Helms it is Luke rewriting Peter's "no thanks" which hardly puts a dent in the historicity of Peter refusing to eat.
- "uncleanness" Ezekiel 4:14, Acts 10:14 (alcatharton) -- not only does Helms ignore that Peter uses two words (koinos, common), he also isn't aware that the word here is used 30 times in the NT, and in a world where ideas of ritual purity, and of cleanness and uncleanness, were dominant. At most again Peter is recalling Ezekiel's words; at best for Helms, Luke adds the word which has a meaning already implicit in the prior word "common".
Regarding the term euangelion; Helms also broadbrushes the word "Savior" similarly with no concern for what these figures "saved" from and "atonement" with no concern for what is being "atoned for".
In that respect Mark follows the normal practice of ancient biography: Ancient biographies, because they were not strictly history, arranged material either chronologically or topically, depending on the author's purpose.
The abrupt ending can only be appealed to fallaciously, since it is probably not the original ending; and moreover, if it were, would make by Helms' reckoning Mark more "primitive" than Paul, who offers a full bodily resurrection 20 years earlier than Mark.
The claim that "modern concepts of historical research did not exist" is simply false. The art was in its infancy, but the concept of reporting that which was true was in existence; see link for page 24 above
The first and third are thought by the critics to have been written some 10-30 years before Mark, and some will allow that Hebrews and 1 John were written that early as well. We have proof (from Paul, John and Peter) that the doctrine that Jesus was sinless was promulgated quite clearly and unequivocally within 20 years of Jesus' death and resurrection.
Few doubt that Mark or anyone else invented the account of Jesus' baptism by John, so this means that the alleged "dilemma" Helms thinks existed, existed already when Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians; it means that it existed when Peter wrote his first epistle, and it means that it existed before either of these men wrote, and that it probably was part and parcel of Christian catechism from the very beginning, for we can be fairly sure that neither one invented the doctrine on the spot, and certainly not independently of one another. And Helms would have us believe that this "dilemma" sat around in the pot for some thirty to fifty years before Matthew (or, as some critics prefer, his alleged "community" for which there is not a shred of literary, archaeological, or sociological evidence) recognized the "dilemma," and at once "corrected" Mark's version of events with the little cameo by John the Baptist.
Then, after this, we are to suppose that Matthew's "community" went on their way, problem solved, while Mark's "community" apparently didn't care about the problem and never did anything about it, at least not in writing, but certainly nothing leaving any evidence. (Or maybe, like Burton Mack's mysterious Q community, they simply vanished off the face of the earth before they could do anything about it.
Or maybe the critics want to tell us that Peter and Paul didn't know that Jesus was baptized by John, and it only came out later?
Actually even in Mark the "dilemma" does not exist: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." In the context of the gospel, this verse -- which appears in some form in all three Synoptics -- is quite clearly supposed to allude to Jesus. Jesus is someone greater than John, more powerful than John, someone so important that John isn't even fit to tie his shoes for him, someone who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
Who could possibly exercise such control over the Holy Spirit as John exercises over water? Can someone with sin, or any mere mortal, exercise or be given such enormous control over the Holy Spirit? Would God trust such intimate and blanket control of the Holy Spirit to any old shmoe who had a laundry list of sins in his past? Of course not! And so it is that the sinlessness of Jesus, and the fact that he did not come to baptized because he "needed" it, is clear from the very beginning in Mark to anyone who bothers to read what the text is saying.
Matthew's John cameo, whether you take it as a genuine recollection of an apostle or a witness, or whether you think he made the whole thing up, serves (in line with Matthew's purpose as a "teaching" gospel) as an explicit explanation of what is already clearly implicit in Mark's Gospel: This person to come isn't someone whom John would consider a candidate for baptism. The only way he would be baptized would be for a different purpose -- which is, as is obvious from the divine voiceover that follows in all three versions, because of obedience: The Father wanted Jesus to be baptized, and this would be in line with the idea that Jesus set an example for others to follow (as in the footwashing episode) as leader of the ekklesia.
This is too much made of such things. Leather belts were, after all, standard wear in this time for desert-dwellers, and where else would you wear them but around your waist? But under the rubrics first described above, the common inclination in Judaism would be to take purposeful, dynamic and obvious actions in order to draw a purposeful parallel and thereby deliver a message: Jesus purposely chose 12 disciples to represent the 12 tribes of Israel, and stayed 40 days in the wilderness to purposefully parallel the Exodus. Similarly today, a hunger striker may fast 14 hours, one for each of 14 prisoners being held against their will. Symbolic acts such as these, created to invoke a particular point, are part of normal human communication.
With that in mind, it is not improbable that John the Baptist himself purposefully did things to invoke the "spirit of Elijah." In doing so, he would clearly be asserting fulfillment of OT prophecy. Our own 21st century minds find such demonstrative actions difficult to comprehend - perhaps because we are over-saturated with television advertisements that try to do much the same thing.
We must, however, look at this from the perspective of the culture of the NT, realizing that such intentional invocation of a given concept was par for the course, and that the "truth" of the identification would be proved by other means - to wit: If John wished to invoke the "spirit of Elijah," then he would be tested to see if he deserved to do so - as indeed he was questioned by the religious leaders of his time. Rather than Mark inventing symbolic history, we have John enacting symbolic history.
This is far from clearly a virgin birth.
Given such license to hop from any story to any story, it would be possible to concoct any thesis of "borrowing" and declare any later element inauthentic. All Helms has to do is find a bare similarity and ignore the differences.
Helms admits that the Jeremiah passage Matthew uses is "strangely irrelevant" to the Slaughter of the Innocents, which in turn should have told him that it is more likely that Matthew called out the oracle to describe rather than create history.
Helms also thinks it odd that having another Herod in Galilee made it as dangerous as Judaea; he obviously is unaware of the fact that Archaelaeus was a much more dangerous ruler than Antipas, the former having to be deposed, the latter ruling with great stability for a longer period. On Matt. 2:23 see here
The phrasing is imprecise, but can hardly be considered erroneous. Helms does not suppose that the Samaritan would return to a Samaritan priest and not a Jewish one. Nor does he suppose that someone just might come back and thank someone who healed them.
As for Mark 8:23-5, if Helms thinks this would be embarrassing, why did Matthew and Luke not remove other instances of Jesus' ignorance, like not knowing when the end of the age would be, and who touched him in the crowd?
He does not see that to speak of "modifications of the pattern" with Ruth, Saul, and Jesus begs the question of the "type scene" (versus real life) and changes the theory to fit the facts -- scenes that fit he mold are "type scenes"; scenes that do not fit are not considered to be not-type scenes, but rather are "modifications" on the type scene.
On the anointing women see here.
The vast differences, and the likely inaccessibility of the Pyramid Texts Helms appeals to (to John especially), are not explained; the point that John would hardly record a story he did not believe were historical, are explained away by appeal to the unproven theory that John used a previous source, which only moves the problem back to another person.
In other words, to explain the lack of substantiation for his theory, Helms merely hypothesizes an unknown prior source that WAS informed of the method, then supposes someone forgot or removed this information, and that Mark never knew or noticed, but that Matthew was more "aware" and restored the information Mark lost.
When does the threshold pass "fiction" and when does Helms' theory actually get disproven by the facts?
Not that it matters, for Helms' connections to Elijah fleeing Ahab are overdone:
- "In both stories the prophet knows the rulers seek his arrest and death."
Is it utterly impossible that any such thing as an arrest and execution could be repeated> Of course since even secular history says that Jesus was executed by authorities (and therefore must have been arrested) it is odd that Helms cannot see this as a parallel made by real history.
- "In both, the prophet leaves behind his servant or disciples and seeks solitude under a tree or in a garden among olive trees"
Note how Helms equivocates here; he equates a single "servant" with "disciples"; he ignores that Elijah's servant plays no role while Jesus' disciples accompany him; he equates one tree with many, which are not even mentioned in the text.
- "where he prays to be delivered" --
Did Jews seldom if ever pray for deliverance by Yahweh?
- "In both, an angel appears to strengthen him (telling Elijah to 'arise'; as Jesus tells his followers to 'arise')" --
The difference in who is told to arise and why (prayer/sleep) is ignored.
- "the prophet then goes forth to meet his fate" --
Which Jesus did do historically (see point 1).
All in all, only the angel giving strength is any sort of unusual parallel, and that is nought but the typical role of angels in the Jewish paradigm.
It is therefore baseless to claim that the Gospel accounts had "not yet been invented" based on what 1 Cor. 15 does not say. Helms is also in error about the nature of resurrection in Paul.
The comparisons to Daniel in the lion's den are somewhat overdone:
- "the leader of a nation opposed to a spokesman for God's people (Darius of Persia, Joseph of Arimathea)" -- note again that Helms does not explain how such invented actions could be attributed to a prominent person like Joseph, and how he also adds "of Persia" to Darius in order to create an extra semblance of a parallel not found in the text; furthermore, he has collapsed Darius (a king) and Joseph (a Sanhedrin member) down into the word "leader", thus generalizing to a lower common denominator to achieve a parallel
- "yet one who in his heart reveres that spokesman" -- here again an illicit collapsing of terms; to describe both Darius and Joseph as "revering" Daniel/Jesus is generalizing to achieve a parallel
- "though greatly distressed, feels obliged to place the spokesman into a pit in the ground and cover it with a stone" -- there is no sign that Joseph was distressed; the "obliged" in both cases would be a matter of legal/historical record (the Sanhedrin, as noted by Byron McCane, would be obliged to provide a burial place), and next we will hear that the Jewish practice of using stones over graves was done because of what is recorded in Daniel.
Note the equivocation of prepositions as a Jewish grave is hardly a "pit" and it is not "in the ground". That Helms must equivocate to make a parallel points towards Matthew using real history, whether he is alluding to Daniel or not
- "an act that clearly meant the spokesman's end" -- as would be with any execution.
- "In both cases the death of the spokesman is required by law" -- once again, illicit generalization. There is no parallel in Jesus' case to a law of the Persians forcing the Sanhedrin's hand, and if Helms agreed that the historical Jesus was crucified, then he must admit that the "required by law" part is real history
- "in both, the executor of the law is reluctant to enforce it" -- now Helms must free-range from Joseph to Pilate to make the parallel, but he is wrong about Pilate being reluctant, and his motives were far different from Darius' -- see here
- "late in the afternoon both heroes are placed in the pit" -- they obviously had to be placed in at some time; if it were different, Dennis McDonald or Helms would claim it was a "transvaluation". Beyond that nowhere does it say it was late afternoon when Daniel was put in the den.
- "In both stories a stone is put over the opening" -- again, presumably, we will hear that the Jewish practice of using stones over graves was done because of what is recorded in Daniel?
- ""in both the placer of the stone has hope in the providence of God" -- Helms equivocates with terminology again, for he uses the note that Joseph "looked forward to the Kingdom of God" and this is not said at all in relation to putting Jesus in the tomb; beyond that, every Jew "looked forward to the Kingdom of God"
- "Early on a subsequent morning" -- note how Helms collapses down the difference between Daniel's next day and the Gospel's two days with the word "subsequent".
- "the pit is approached by those who care deeply for the hero" -- now Helms free-ranges so that Darius, formerly paralleled by Darius, then Pilate, is now matched by the women. Note as well that a grave is not a "pit" or a den, and "care deeply" is vague and generalizing language that could describe an enormous range of human behavior
- "Next comes joyful news" -- more vague generalizing, as the content of the news is very different, and in any event the "joyful news" is proclaimed long before the Gospels were published, in Helms' view
- "the stone is removed" -- by entirely different agencies, of course
- "death is miraculously overcome" -- by far different means, and Daniel was never dead
- "deliverance is assisted by an angel" -- no, the angels in the Gospels "delivered" no one -- they pushed a rock, they gave a message. No parallel. If Matthew is using Daniel, it is in such a way that he could use Daniel to report genuine history, as described in our points above.
On the formula as an interpolation see here.
Conclusion: Helms' arguments carry very little weight, for they are drawn from the slenderest evidence and are uninformed by numerous and relevant sociological considerations. For our critique of Helms' second book, go here.