Is Christianity a Made-up Myth Written by the Disciples?
by Rich Deem

Introduction

Bible as Myth

As a former agnostic, what really struck me in reading the Bible for the first time in my 30's was the degree of candor displayed in the writings. In fact, if I had been writing those kinds of stories, I would not have put all the non-complimentary stuff that one finds in the Bible. It turns out that the Bible's "heroes" do all kinds of stupid and immoral things. In addition, many of the doctrines of the Church are not what any normal male would make up...

Rich Deem

Skeptics say that the writings of the Bible have the character of mythology. In addition, stories of numerous miracles make it unlikely that the Bible is true. However, if God is powerful enough to have created the entire universe, He would certainly be able to perform miracles. Although there are miracles in the Bible, greater than 99% of the text describes non-miraculous events. So, who wrote the Bible? If the disciples made up the events in the Bible, would they write it in the way it is written?

Virgin birth

The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is one of the most unbelievable aspects of Christianity. It would have been very risky to document and claim that Jesus was born of a virgin. In the Middle East there were "honor killings" for women who conceived out of wedlock, so to speak of a virgin birth was extremely dishonorable. In fact, the Bible alludes to some disparaging remarks made by the religious opponents of Jesus.1 In addition, if you look at the anti-Christian literature at the time, much of it focused on this aspect of Christianity. This makes one wonder why, if Christians were just making up a religion, they say something that would offend virtually everybody in the Middle East. It makes no sense to make up something offensive - unless it were true.

The disciples

If I had been Jesus, I certainly wouldn't have chosen the band of misfits that He picked. There was Peter, the loudmouth, John, his main competitor (and Jesus' favorite, according to his own words) Matthew, the corrupt taxman,2 and Thomas, the ultimate skeptic.3 As a group, they were slow learners who constantly demonstrated a lack of faith in Jesus4 despite all the miracles He performed in their presence.

Peter was an interesting choice as the disciple to lead the early church.5 As an uneducated fisherman,6 he would often act first and think about it later. Peter himself admitted to Jesus that he was "a sinful man."7 In one instance, Jesus blessed Peter6 and not five verses later called him "Satan."8 Peter made the pronouncement that he would never leave Jesus, being even willing to die before denying Him.9 However, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times after He was arrested11 and fled12 to go into hiding with the rest of the disciples.13

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the GospelsJohn is thought of being a quiet disciple who was deeply devoted to Jesus. However, John had definite jealousy issues with Peter. After being told of Jesus' resurrection by the women who followed Him, John describes in his gospel racing Peter to the empty tomb - and winning!14 Peter was actively involved in this rivalry, being jealous of John at the last supper, asking Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?"15 Jesus solidly rebuked Peter, basically telling him to mind his own business.16 The rivalry among the disciples was not limited to just Peter and John. At one point, they all started to argue about which of the disciples was the greatest.17 Jesus suggested that those who would be greatest would serve others.17

The scandalous women

Jesus helped a number of women, many of whom followed Him, along with the disciples. After Jesus was arrested and crucified, the disciples all fled and hid, being afraid that they would suffer the same fate.13 However, the women wanted to finish the burial, which had been left unfinished because of the approaching Sabbath.18 So Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, wife of Zebedee, walked to the tomb early in the morning of the third day.19 However, they found the stone rolled away,20 the body of Jesus gone, and angels sitting in His place.21 The fact that the discovery of the empty tomb was made by women is not something that would have been fabricated, since, at the time, women were not considered to be reliable witnesses.

The Church is female!

This is going to come to a shock to most non-Christians (and maybe even some Christians), but God's people are referred to as female, not male. In the Old Testament, God's people are the "daughters of Zion."22 The Church or body of Christ (including us men) is referred to as the "bride" of Christ23 and God is said to be our "husband."24 Paul even describes the members of the church as being presented to her husband, Jesus, "as a pure virgin."23 Whenever referred to by sex, the Church is described as "she" or "her."25 In addition, the Greek word for "church" is a feminine noun.26 Obviously, if men had made up the Bible, they would have made the church a male!

No marriage or sex in heaven

Jesus was asked a complicated question about heaven by the Sadducees (a religious sect that did not believe in the resurrection of the dead) that directly leads us to the conclusion that there will be no marriage or sex in heaven.27 The Sadducees gave a scenario of a woman who married 7 men (sequentially, since they all died prematurely) in her lifetime. They asked whose wife she would be in heaven. Jesus answered:

"You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:29-30)

In other words, there will be no marriage or sexual differences among those in heaven, since reproduction is unnecessary. This concept is supported by other biblical verses that indicate that males and females are spiritually equal.28 Obviously, if the disciples (who were men) had created a fictitious story about heaven, it would most certainly have included sex (probably with multiple virgin sexual partners), as is found in several other religions.

However, in heaven, we will be "married" to Jesus, who will be our spiritual "husband."29 A marriage is described in heaven. The "bride" is composed of all believers in Jesus Christ. The "groom" is none other than Jesus Himself. This kind of idea seems okay for women, but tends to make us men a little nervous. I find it difficult to consider myself as a bride. The disciples would have never come up with the idea of being the bride of Jesus. There is no way that that was made up!

Other not quite perfect Bible leaders

Paul (or Saul)

Paul, the apostle who first took the gospel to the gentiles,30 began life as a super-religious Pharisee.31 However, when Christians were preaching their gospel in Damascus, Paul sought to get letters from the high priest in order to bring the Christians to Jerusalem to stand trial as heretics.32 Paul was present at the stoning of Stephen,33 and "was in hearty agreement with putting him to death."34 Paul readily admitted his former unrighteous acts of persecution against the early Christians.35 However, Paul personally met Jesus on the road to Damascus in a rather spectacular way,36 at which point he became the primary spokesman for Christianity. As with the disciples and other Christian and Jewish leaders, Paul is presented as a real person - complete with his faults, including being an accessory to murder.

Other leaders in the Bible

Conclusion Top of page

Skeptics often claim that the New Testament was fabricated by the disciples. Although the Bible contains many stories of miracles, it also includes doctrines that the average male would not have included, if they were making up a religion. For example, in other religions, heaven consists of males engaging in eternal sex with multiple virgins. However, in the Bible there are no sexual relationships in heaven, but believers are "married" to Jesus. Realistically, no males I know of (including myself) would ever make up the Christian concept of heaven. To make the picture complete, the members of the Church are described as being female. How insulting that would be to the average male ego? Another doctrine that would be considered offensive in first century Jewish culture is the virgin birth of Jesus. In addition, first century Jewish culture considered women to be unreliable witnesses, making the discovery of the empty tomb by women unlikely to have been fabricated. The leaders in the Bible are presented realistically, with all their faults and shortcomings. When presenting themselves, most people tend to tell about their positive traits, eliminating negative traits, such as drunkenness, adultery, and murder. The inclusion of the good and the bad of God's leaders indicate that the biblical accounts are not just fabricated stories.



References Top of page

  1. Then they asked him, "Where is your father?" "You do not know me or my Father," Jesus replied. "If you knew me, you would know my Father also." (John 8:19)
    "You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God." (John 8:41)
  2. As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector's booth; and He *said to him, "Follow Me!" And he got up and followed Him. (Matthew 9:9)
    After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi [Matthew] sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, "Follow Me." (Luke 5:27)
  3. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." (John 20:24-25)
  4. "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! (Matthew 6:30)
    He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. (Matthew 8:26)
    Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31)
    But Jesus, aware of this, said, "You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? (Matthew 16:8)
    And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. (Matthew 17:20)
    And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (Mark 4:40)
    And He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, "Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?" (Luke 8:25)
    "But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! (Luke 12:28)
  5. "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. (Matthew 16:18)
  6. Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. (Matthew 4:18)
    As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. (Mark 1:16)
    and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. (Luke 5:2-3)
  7. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8)
  8. And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17)
  9. But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." (Matthew 16:23)
    But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." (Mark 8:33)
  10. But Peter said to Him, "Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away." Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You." All the disciples said the same thing too. (Matthew 26:33-35)
    But Peter said to Him, "Even though all may fall away, yet I will not." And Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times." But Peter kept saying insistently, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And they all were saying the same thing also. (Mark 14:29-31)
    Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You." (John 13:37)
  11. Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about." When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man." A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away." Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know the man!" And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, "Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:69-75)
    As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Nazarene." But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you are talking about." And he went out onto the porch. The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, "This is one of them!" But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, "Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too." But he began to curse and swear, "I do not know this man you are talking about!" Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, "Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." And he began to weep. (Mark 14:66-72)
    Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance. After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them. And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, "This man was with Him too." But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know Him." A little later, another saw him and said, "You are one of them too!" But Peter said, "Man, I am not!" After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, "Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too." But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about." Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62)
  12. "But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets." Then all the disciples left Him and fled. (Matthew 26:56)
    And they all left Him and fled. (Mark 14:50)
  13. So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." (John 20:19)
  14. So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; (John 20:3-4)
  15. Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?" So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?" (John 21:20-21)
  16. Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!" (John 21:22)
  17. An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great." (Luke 9:46-48)
  18. It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. (Luke 23:54-56)
  19. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. (Mark 16:1)
  20. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. (Matthew 28:2)
    Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. (Mark 16:4)
    And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, (Luke 24:2)
    Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. (John 20:1)
  21. The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. (Matthew 28:5-6)
    Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. (Mark 16:5-6)
    but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead? "He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, (Luke 24:3-6)
    But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. (John 20:11-12)
  22. Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth, Say to the daughter of Zion, "Lo, your salvation comes; Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him." (Isaiah 62:11)
    "Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," declares the LORD. (Zechariah 2:10)
    Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)
  23. For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. (2 Corinthians 11:2)
    Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7)
    And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." (Revelation 19:9)
    The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)
  24. For your Maker is your husband-- the LORD Almighty is His name-- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5)
  25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25)
    that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:27)
  26. Thayer Greek Definitions
    ekklēsia εκκλησία (Strong's #G1577)
    1. a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly
      1. an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating
      2. the assembly of the Israelites
      3. any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance, tumultuously
      4. in a Christian sense
        1. an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting
        2. a company of Christian, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order's sake
        3. those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body
        4. the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth
        5. the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven
    Part of Speech: noun feminine
    A Related Word by Thayer's/Strong's Number: from a compound of G1537 and a derivative of G2564
    Citing in TDNT: 3:501, 394
  27. On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Him and questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'IF A MAN DIES, HAVING NO CHILDREN, HIS BROTHER AS NEXT OF KIN SHALL MARRY HIS WIFE, AND RAISE UP AN OFFSPRING TO HIS BROTHER.' "Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. "And last of all, the woman died. "In the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her." But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:23-30)
  28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
  29. for the Lamb [Jesus Christ] in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:17)
    "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." (Revelation 19:7)
    "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Revelation 19:8)
    And he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." (Revelation 19:9)
    And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I shall show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:9)
    FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32)
    "For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5)
  30. But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:15-16)
    To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8)
  31. although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. (Philippians 3:4-6)
  32. Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2)
  33. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. (Acts 7:58)
  34. Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. (Acts 8:1)
    For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1 Corinthians 15:9)
  35. For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; (Galatians 1:13)
    although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. (Philippians 3:4-6)
    I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; (1 Timothy 1:12-13)
  36. As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" And He said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do." The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." And the Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight." But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake." (Acts 9:3-16)

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Last Modified October 2, 2008

 

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