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Old 02-19-2001, 01:36 AM   #31
Bede
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Michael,

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Since the amount of "evidence" for miraculous behavior in Chinese sources is TONS greater than that for any Greco-Roman miracle-worker, you'd have to concede that they actually existed.</font>
Fine. I have no problem with acknowledging marvellous deeds by non Christians or even with this Appolonius being a magician. I still don't understand why this means Jesus did not exist.

Yours

Bede
 
Old 02-19-2001, 03:05 AM   #32
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Hi lpetrich,

lpetrich: Comparing this thread to another one on Mary Magdalene, I notice that some people (metaphorically) choke on the gnat of Jesus Christ having Mary Magdalene as his girlfriend while they swallow the camels of miracles and the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.

SecWebLurker: You can't blame em. The evidence for both the VB and the res. is much earlier and there is independent attestation for both.

lpetrich: Also, I consider the various attempts to discredit comparisons of JC's Virgin Birth to other miraculous conceptions to be the sort of hairsplitting that ex-President Clinton had been known for; he had allegedly claimed to have worked out from the Bible that oral sex is not cheating.

For example, the Buddha's mother having had sex with his father does not get in the way of the Buddha's conception being as non-sexual as JC's conception had supposedly been.

SecWebLurker: I already pointed out that this is irrelevant because its so late that there's definitely no case for borrowing. But also, its just not a virgin birth. You could say its a miraculous birth. But I've given examples of those in Judaism at the time. Philo is another example. He passed on a legend that the matriarchs concieved by a divine seed from God (not "virgin births" though).

lpetrich: Also, deity-human sex might be considered a form of miraculous conception; I understand that the Mormons believe in something remarkably similar, that God had had sex with Mary to conceive JC.

Even if we eliminate cases of previous sexual activity and deity-human sex, there are still some interesting sorts of conceptions, such as Danae being made pregnant by Zeus turning himself into a shower of gold dust and pouring himself onto her lap, and Mithras being born from a rock.

Now how does one have sex with a pile of gold? Or a rock?

SecWebLurker: More importantly, is the virginal conception of Jesus similar to a god being born out of a rock or from a shower of gold dust landing in someone's lap? I don't think so...They all fall within the broad category of miraculous births, but as said above, this is very Jewish - announcements of angels and all.

As far as splitting hairs, you yourself acknowledge that the details are important and engage in such "Clintonianism" when you try to distinguish between 'gods' and 'sons of god' in my Genesis 6 example (which btw, pretty much clears up the whole issue).

SecWebLurker
 
Old 02-19-2001, 05:55 AM   #33
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bede:
Michael,

Fine. I have no problem with acknowledging marvellous deeds by non Christians or even with this Appolonius being a magician. I still don't understand why this means Jesus did not exist.

Yours

Bede
</font>
Bede:

Miracle systems sort of cancel each other out, for one thing. The world could only have been created once, after all, so all miracle systems could not have been responsible. The Daoist alchemists that I wrote about elsewhere utilized a metaphysical system that rejected the possibility of what you would call a "miracle." They would have laughed at Jesus, and assumed he was some kind of fraud.

I guess you could reject the system, and accept the act, but I can't see how one can exist without the other.

But it doesn't mean Jesus didn't exist. It just (might) mean he wasn't god, or even a miracle worker. I find Jesus' existance doubtful because of other factors, like the derivative nature of Mark and his putative sayings. But new arguments or evidence could easily change my mind on that score.

Michael

 
Old 02-19-2001, 04:21 PM   #34
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Nomad: Since, for you, a virgin birth is simply "impossible", the rest of the discussion is, from your point of view, what?[/b]

Pleasant conversation?

Nomad: Seriously, once a person rejects an event as "impossible", they will reject any and all evidence made available to them. On that basis, you cannot be convinced of the verasity of this story regardless, and that, to me, looks pretty dogmatic.

Incorrect. Reasonable people consider virgin births impossible (or so unlikely as to be considered infinitely improbable) BASED on all available evidence. Some Christians seem to ignore the FACT that virgin births, as described in Matthew and Luke, DO NOT OCCUR; however, they WANT to believe so much that they will take ANY evidence, even if it is no more than an ancient story involving a dream some person is claimed to have had, to convince themselves. BTW, it is not "dogmatic" to ask for more evidence than mere claims made in a couple of ancient stories.

Nomad: I seem to recall certain priests that refused to look through Galileo's telescope as well... it seems that they already "knew" what they would see, so they didn't need to look.

Produce a "telescope." I will be glad to take a look.

Nomad: Interesting, eh?

Not particularly.

Nomad: P.S. You still haven't answered my long ago asked question that if science ever successfully produces a true virgin birth, would you change your mind on what is and what is not impossible? I am very curious to know the answer to this question.

Do you mean the artificial insemination of a female that has never had sexual intercourse? If so, then the answer is YES.
But, as we both know, that is not the process described by Matthew or Luke.

Now, Nomad, since you brought up the subject of science, I have a few questions for you.

1. What does science say about the "Holy Spirit?"

2. What does science say about the "Holy Spirit" going into a female's womb?

3. What does science say about ancient stories of dreams and angels?

[This message has been edited by penatis (edited February 19, 2001).]
 
Old 02-19-2001, 05:16 PM   #35
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SecWebLurker: I guess I'm an impartial reader then. I certainly don't have a need to convince anyone of the impossible. But of course, a virgin birth miraculously brought about by God is not impossible.

1. Oh, but, you are not impartial. You show this by introducing the word "God." You have yet to demonstrate the existence of this god you are partial toward.

2. How do you KNOW what any god has done? How do you KNOW a god "miraculously brought about" a virgin birth? I contend you KNOW neither, but BELIEVE both, based on faith, not history.

penatis: It was included in Matthew's narrative to counter charges that Jesus was illegitimate (Mary was obviously pregnant when she married Joseph) and to make him literally a son of Yahweh.

SecWebLurker: I don't find this convincing. I think if there were charges that Jesus was illegitimate we'd see a lot more evidence of this in the Gospels and Paul, and in 2nd century apologetics. And Matthew could just as easilly have lied and said that he was the son of Joseph, as some know him in John's gospel (John 1.45,6.42). A mamzer would have been a lot harder to establish as the messiah than a crucified man, so I think it would have been much more of a point of contention.

penatis: Which of the following is more credible?
1. Mary became pregnant the natural way before she married Joseph. Since Jesus was illegitimate, stories were fabricated to counter the truth. Two Christian propagandists repeated two contradictory versions of the fabulous stories.

SecWebLurker: More credible according to what background beliefs/presuppositions? The above has no evidence in its favor.

Are you aware of the FACT that children are born illegitimately, every day? Are you aware of the FACT that children are NEVER born to virgins impregnated by the "Holy Spirit?" Furthermore, it is perfectly reasonable to think that Mary was pregnant BEFORE she married Joseph. These three things convince me that Jesus was conceived the natural way and that he was probably illegitimate. I have human history and science on my side. What do you have?

penatis: 2. Something known as the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary. Only two writers in the whole world deemed this fact important enough to mention.

SecWebLurker: Err...I don't think there were too many ancient writers present at the event. Ancient writers didn't take much notice of Jesus, period.

That is precisely my point! He was an ordinary person. Had he been extraordinary, NUMEROUS writers would have been interested in him, not just Christian propagandists.
For example, why didn't the following writers say SOMETHING about a man who was supposedly born of a virgin impregnated by the "Holy Spirit" and the "savior" of all humankind?

Philo-Judaeus
Seneca
Juvenal
Martial
Arrian
Petronius
Dion Pruseus
Paterculus
Appian
Theon of Smyrna
Phlegon
Persius
Plutarch
Justus of Tiberius
Apollonius
Quintillian
Lucanus
Epictetus
Silius Italicus
Statius
Ptolemy
Hermogones
Valerius Maximus
Pompon Mela
Quintius Curtius
Lucian
Pausanias
Valerius Flaccus
Florus Lucius
Favorinus
Phaedrus
Damis
Aulus Gellius
Columella
Dio Chrysostom
Lysias
Appion of Alexandria

penatis: I find option number one infinitely more credible. Furthermore, we should not forget that the Talmud and Celsus depicted Jesus as illegitimate.

SecWebLurker: And they give no evidence for this either. Nor are the Talmud or Celsus held to have ANY historical credibility in these claims by anyone. For good reason - they are too far removed.

There are scholars who think Jesus was illegitimate, based on what outsiders said of Jesus. The NT give JUST ONE SIDE, the Christian one. Obviously, there were those who did not agree with the propaganda.

penatis: According to R. Joseph Hoffman, "These polemical statements were long-lived and known to Celsus, who comments on the illegitimacy of Jesus and the absurdity of the story of the virgin birth...Undoubtedly, the bulk of this Jewish tradition can be traced back to a period before the formation of the written Gospels." Jesus Outside the Gospels, P. 40.

SecWebLurker: LOL, that is utter garbage.

You are entitled to your biased opinion.

SecWebLurker: This "tradition" barely peeps its head in the gospel of John. If it was present prior to the Gospels, we should see the church combatting it all over the place in the earliest writings, as it would have been one of their biggest problems. We don't. Furthermore, there would be no reason to make up a virgin birth. Matthew could have just said Joseph was the real father.

Matthew could have said anything, but what he did say was that Joseph had a dream and that Mary was pregnant before they married.

SecWebLurker: As far as the Son of God issue, Jesus could still be both Messiah and God's Son in a Jewish context without fabricating a virgin birth, as is the case in Paul and the other synoptics, if your theory is true. Furthermore, I don't think Matthew or any other text believes Jesus BECAME God's Son at His conception.

penatis: It is true that many Judeans believed that the future Messiah could be "God's Son" in a non-literal sense, but I don't think the writers (interpolators?) were typical Judeans.


SecWebLurker: That's a moot point. They had categories for divine sonship related to royal Davidic descent. And there is no evidence that Matthew thinks Jesus all of a sudden *became* God's son at the VB.


Fine. I don't find your argument convincing.

penatis: Also, logical consistency was not of prime importance to them. Hoffman states: "[T]he doctrine of virgin birth nullifies the two different Davidic genealogies in Matt. 1:1-7 and Luke 3:23-34 and makes Joseph merely the foster father of Jesus." Ibid, P.42. In my view, the writers wanted hearers to believe that Jesus was literally the "Son of God" and literally the "son of David" (through Joseph). The impossibility of this was no more a concern than the impossibility of the virgin birth.

SecWebLurker: Hoffman just pointed out another reason why a virgin birth wouldn't have been INVENTED, *ESPECIALLY* by the two gospel authors who are trying harder than any other to establish Davidic descent!

Okay. Matthew and Luke in their brilliance tell stories of Mary being impregnated by the "Holy Spirit" and that Joseph descended from David. Only Christians can find logical consistencey here. Paul said that Jesus was "born of the flesh" and was descended from David. It seems no one knows for sure what the circumstances of Jesus conception and birth were.

penatis:
Ostensibly, Luke knows of a different myth. In his story, Joseph does not have a dream. Rather, Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel and told that she will conceive Jesus via the Holy Spirit. Christians have two conflicting stories to believe. One involves a dream and the other involves an angel. One is just as incredibly absurd as the other. I do have a question for those who pretend the stories depict history: Who witnessed the Holy Spirit (whatever that is) going into Mary's womb?

SecWebLurker: That's all fine and well. The differences in the accounts argues for independent traditions, which is never a bad thing historically. There are possible harmonizations but if you don't accept it, you don't. The virgin birth is, and always will be, a matter of faith.

penatis: Yes, the virgin birth is a matter of faith, not history. BTW, do you personally believe that Mary was impregnated by anything other than human sperm?

SecWebLurker: I do indeed believe in the virgin birth of Jesus.

Why?

SecWebLurker: The issue I was addressing was that of 'borrowing' so this is all sort of a non-sequitur. As far as witnessing the Holy Spirit going into Mary's womb - Sorry, can't help there. :-)

penatis: 1. Yes, but you called the OTHER virgin births "alleged." I merely wished to point out that one virgin birth is just as "alleged" or mythical as another.

SecWebLurker: And that is simply a non-sequitur. I said they are "alleged" in the sense that it is "alleged" that they are VIRGIN births, not in the sense that it is "alleged" that they occured.

Okay. Granted. I still consider all virgin birth stories to be myths.

 
Old 02-19-2001, 05:33 PM   #36
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
Do you even read real N.T. scholars such as J. Crossan, J.P. Meier, or N.T. Wright? If there is a strong case to be made them make. However, given source and form criticism's discovery that Mark is relying on inheritid and varied traditions, I find it impossible to think he simply ripped his story off from Homer. Mark's gospels protrays a very Jewish Jesus, and shows little, if any, pagan influence. Moreover, it completely overlooks the congruence between Paul's undisputed epistles and Mark's basic outline of Jesus' life.

MacDonald's argument is not that Mark is doing Homer with the serial numbers filed off. It is much richer and more subtle. First, there is no conflict with Mark drawing on Homer and Jewish sources at the same time, that is the brilliance of Mark, just as Yeats drew on 19th century mysticism, Irish history, and greek mythology, or Kurosawa combined Shakespeare and Japanese myth. Not difficult, all creative types do it. Rather, what Mark did is take episodes from Homer and re-present them with Jesus as the protagonist instead of Odysseus, in a jewish framework, and with jesus beating the heck out of Hector and Odysseus. I beg you to read him, I can't begin to describe how good the book is. I have not read Maier, but I have read Wright and Crossan, and Brown's Intro to the New Testament would be sitting on my shelf, if my neighbor hadn't borrowed it and moved away. It's not that I find them unconvincing or not; to me they are simply irrelevant. They are like those people out there today who attempt to demonstrate that Sai Baba is really doing miracles and can read thoughts, except that the latter have not yet acquired the imprimatur of a university program to advance their psuedoscientific conclusions. Note that I differentiate between the very real knowledge required to understand uncials and copyists errors, and the history of papyrii, and the claim that Jesus was real.
There is no connection between the two. If Maier tells me that an extent manuscript is written in a certain script, I am all ears, but if he then claims Jesus is really god, he's got no more expertise than I do. It's a particular and very dangerous fallacy, that when someone is an 'expert' on issues of fact, their opinions on other matters carry weight. I would be more impressed if a real miracle worker, like a stage magician or a taoist adept, showed me that jesus' miracles were impossible to replicate, but alas, all evidence indicates that jesus' miracles are
rather mundane, and many have performed them.
You see, no matter how much experience you have with papyrii, you're not qualified to make judgements about miracles.

Frankly, I am really not that interested in comparing "my scholars" to "your scholars" as if we were two teenagers whipping out our schlongs in a high school locker room. If you are really misguided enough to think that Jesus actually performed genuine miracles,
and that he was the son of god, you can. But
all evidence of history and human behavior
is against you.

Michael
</font>
I wasn't trying to say "my" scholars were better than "yours." Crossan is definitely not one of "my" scholars, but I was interested in seeing how well read you were. I put forth a cross-section of the most respected N.T. scholars from their various camps: liberal, moderate, and conservative. I'm a conservative, but I have a lot of respect for, and disagreement with, Crossan and Meier. I haven't heard of MacDonald.
 
Old 02-19-2001, 06:58 PM   #37
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
respect for, and disagreement with, Crossan and Meier. I haven't heard of MacDonald. </font>
Neither had I, 'til Carrier pointed him out.
It's a new book, just out about eight months ago. judging from cites of his own work in the back, the stuff he's been working on wouldn't really touch on the interests of the list too much.

Michael

 
Old 02-20-2001, 12:00 AM   #38
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by penatis:

Nomad: Seriously, once a person rejects an event as "impossible", they will reject any and all evidence made available to them. On that basis, you cannot be convinced of the verasity of this story regardless, and that, to me, looks pretty dogmatic.

Incorrect. Reasonable people consider virgin births impossible (or so unlikely as to be considered infinitely improbable) BASED on all available evidence.</font>
Well, considering the fact that your argument is purely circular (you have decided that virgin births are impossible, so any evidence offered for a virgin birth, like in the Gospels is ruled out a priori), you haven't really proven much here.

Consider the words of a true scholar on the subject:

"...an a priori rejection of extraordinary or miraculous foreknowledge is a handicap (note: the same could be said of a priori rejections of any miraculous event). This rejection also distorts the quest for history. Historicity should be determined not by what we think possible or likely, but by the antiquity and reliability of the evidence; and as far back as we can trace, Jesus was known and remembered as one who had extraordinary powers."
(Raymond Brown, Death of the Messiah, Volume 2, New York, 1994, pg. 1468)


The methodology and rejection of a priori assumptions outlined by Brown regarding the passion narrative and prophesy can also be applied to the probably historicity of the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke. Your position can lead you to only one conclusion, and that is the tell-tale sign of a closed mind.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Some Christians seem to ignore the FACT that virgin births, as described in Matthew and Luke, DO NOT OCCUR;</font>
Allow me to explain again that your opinion is no more FACT than is my opinion, or anyone elses penatis.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> however, they WANT to believe so much that they will take ANY evidence,</font>
And you want to NOT believe so much that you will REJECT any evidence...

Do you not see how closely you resemble that which you most hate?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> even if it is no more than an ancient story involving a dream some person is claimed to have had, to convince themselves. BTW, it is not "dogmatic" to ask for more evidence than mere claims made in a couple of ancient stories.</font>
I agree, and I have not asked you to accept the accounts as presented in the Gospels. What I challenge is your a priori assumption that has lead you to this as the only possible conclusion. This is not good historical inquiry penatis. It is unfortunate that you simply cannot see this.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: I seem to recall certain priests that refused to look through Galileo's telescope as well... it seems that they already "knew" what they would see, so they didn't need to look.

Produce a "telescope." I will be glad to take a look.</font>
Would you believe what you saw is the only remaining question. So long as you rule virgin births to be impossible, then like the priests who would not see that the earth revolved around the sun "because this was impossible", you are trapped within your dogmatic worldview.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: Interesting, eh?

Not particularly.</font>
Once again my hopes are dashed. Happily, I wasn't holding my breath here, so no worries.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: P.S. You still haven't answered my long ago asked question that if science ever successfully produces a true virgin birth, would you change your mind on what is and what is not impossible? I am very curious to know the answer to this question.

Do you mean the artificial insemination of a female that has never had sexual intercourse?</font>
Good grief!!! What does it take to get a sceptic to answer a question with a straight answer around here?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> If so, then the answer is YES.</font>
On the other hand, I can live with this.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">But, as we both know, that is not the process described by Matthew or Luke.</font>
Ahhh... but we do not KNOW how God impregnated Mary. Only that He did, and that she remained a virgin throughout. So if humans will one day be able to do it, then why not God?

I seem to recall a statement attributed to Arthur C. Clarke about miracles and technology and such...

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Now, Nomad, since you brought up the subject of science, I have a few questions for you.

1. What does science say about the "Holy Spirit?"</font>
Nothing.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">2. What does science say about the "Holy Spirit" going into a female's womb?</font>
Nothing again.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">3. What does science say about ancient stories of dreams and angels?</font>
Once again, nothing.

Nomad
 
Old 02-20-2001, 05:31 PM   #39
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by penatis:
Nomad: Seriously, once a person rejects an event as "impossible", they will reject any and all evidence made available to them. On that basis, you cannot be convinced of the verasity of this story regardless, and that, to me, looks pretty dogmatic.

penatis: Incorrect. Reasonable people consider virgin births impossible (or so unlikely as to be considered infinitely improbable) BASED on all available evidence.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nomad: Well, considering the fact that your argument is purely circular (you have decided that virgin births are impossible, so any evidence offered for a virgin birth, like in the Gospels is ruled out a priori), you haven't really proven much here.

No, you are incorrect again. My argument is NOT of a "purely circular" nature. I have concluded that virgin births are impossible BASED on all available evidence. Originally, years ago, I believed the virgin birth myth to be historical. That is, until I read the narratives of Matthew and Luke. They are the ONLY evidence available. In other words, two pieces of ancient Christian propagandist literature claiming that: a) Joseph had a dream, and b) Mary was visited by an angel, ARE THE ONLY TRACES of evidence suggesting that Jesus wasn't conceived the natural way. You can believe the virgin birth nonsense, based on this evidence, but I don't.

Now, if you have more evidence than the above, present it.

Nomad: Consider the words of a true scholar [Raymond Brown]...

I agree that the late Roman Catholic Father, Raymond Edward Brown, was considered a famous biblical scholar. But, his interests were far removed from strictly historical scholarship, however. His goal, thoughout his lifetime, was to convert people to Christianity. So, I hope you will forgive me if I do not share your enthusiasm for the late Father's opinions.


Nomad:...on the subject [Brown says]:

"...an a priori rejection of extraordinary or miraculous foreknowledge is a handicap (note: the same could be said of a priori rejections of any miraculous event). This rejection also distorts the quest for history. Historicity should be determined not by what we think possible or likely, but by the antiquity and reliability of the evidence; and as far back as we can trace, Jesus was known and remembered as one who had extraordinary powers."
(Raymond Brown, Death of the Messiah, Volume 2, New York, 1994, pg. 1468)


Rev. Brown was in no better position to determine what Jesus did or did not do than either you or me. He, as a Roman Catholic, simply expressed his biased opinion.


Nomad: The methodology and rejection of a priori assumptions outlined by Brown regarding the passion narrative and prophesy can also be applied to the probably historicity of the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke. Your position can lead you to only one conclusion, and that is the tell-tale sign of a closed mind.

This is the only position Christian apologists can take. They continually resort to this nonsense because they have no evidence.

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some Christians seem to ignore the FACT that virgin births, as described in Matthew and Luke, DO NOT OCCUR;
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nomad: Allow me to explain again that your opinion is no more FACT than is my opinion, or anyone elses penatis.

Please allow me to correct you, Nomad. Virgin births, as described in Matthew and Luke, DO NOT OCCUR. This is not "opinion." This is a scientific FACT. If you have evidence to the contrary, present it. Otherwise, the FACT remains.

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
however, they WANT to believe so much that they will take ANY evidence,
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nomad: And you want to NOT believe so much that you will REJECT any evidence...

This is ludicrous. The ONLY evidence available are two narratives penned by Christian propagandists. One describes a dream and the other describes a visit by an angel. Yes, I do REJECT this evidence. I find it incredible.

Nomad: Do you not see how closely you resemble that which you most hate?

DO NOT misrepresent me or my position. I DO NOT, NOR HAVE I EVER indicated that I hate anyone, much less those with whom I disagree.


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
penatis: even if it is no more than an ancient story involving a dream some person is claimed to have had, to convince themselves. BTW, it is not "dogmatic" to ask for more evidence than mere claims made in a couple of ancient stories.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nomad: I agree, and I have not asked you to accept the accounts as presented in the Gospels.

What other evidence do you have?

Nomad: What I challenge is your a priori assumption that has lead you to this as the only possible conclusion.

I REPEAT. I have arrived at my conclusion BASED on all available evidence: Virgin births, as described in Matthew and Luke, do not occur. AGAIN, if you have evidence to refute my claim, then present it!!!

Nomad: This is not good historical inquiry penatis. It is unfortunate that you simply cannot see this.

I challenge you to demonstrate how your "historical inquiry" methods are somehow superior to anyone elses.


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nomad: I seem to recall certain priests that refused to look through Galileo's telescope as well... it seems that they already "knew" what they would see, so they didn't need to look.
penatis: Produce a "telescope." I will be glad to take a look.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nomad: Would you believe what you saw is the only remaining question. So long as you rule virgin births to be impossible, then like the priests who would not see that the earth revolved around the sun "because this was impossible", you are trapped within your dogmatic worldview.

I REPEAT: Produce a "telescope." I will be glad to look through it.


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
But, as we both know, that is not the process described by Matthew or Luke.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nomad: Ahhh... but we do not KNOW how God impregnated Mary. Only that He did, and that she remained a virgin throughout. So if humans will one day be able to do it, then why not God?

Ahhh... but we do not KNOW anything about Yahweh beyond what is stated in ancient Hebrew and Christian MSS. What is CLAIMED by ancient superstitious people should convince no one. Unfortunately, you have fallen for it--hook, line, and sinker.

Nomad: I seem to recall a statement attributed to Arthur C. Clarke about miracles and technology and such...

And...


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now, Nomad, since you brought up the subject of science, I have a few questions for you.
1. What does science say about the "Holy Spirit?"


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nomad: Nothing.

Then why did you bring the subject of science up?


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2. What does science say about the "Holy Spirit" going into a female's womb?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nomad: Nothing again.

Then why did you bring the subject of science up?


quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. What does science say about ancient stories of dreams and angels?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nomad: Once again, nothing.

Then why did you bring the subject of science up?



[This message has been edited by penatis (edited February 20, 2001).]
 
Old 02-21-2001, 01:31 AM   #40
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1. Oh, but, you are not impartial. You show this by introducing the word "God." You have yet to demonstrate the existence of this god you are partial toward.

SecWebLurker: LOL, come on penatis. Did I attempt to prove that God exists or did something? No. I said that God DOING something is not impossible. Of course, that entails that His existence is not impossible. And it certainly isn't in the broadly logical sense. So your implicit statement was unfounded. Does an abiogenesis researcher have to have evidence that life originated from simple abiotic precursors, in a completely naturalistic manner, before he says that it is POSSIBLE that it did? Of course not.

penatis:
2. How do you KNOW what any god has done? How do you KNOW a god "miraculously brought about" a virgin birth? I contend you KNOW neither, but BELIEVE both, based on faith, not history.

SecWebLurker: These are all red herrings penatis. I already said I believe the VB, and I never claimed to KNOW that it occured (as in "I can PROVE the VB! Its an undeniable FACT!"). Is my belief based on history? To even answer that begs the question of whether or not the accounts are accurate. I believe the accounts. Its that simple.

SecWebLurker: More credible according to what background beliefs/presuppositions? The above has no evidence in its favor.

penatis: Are you aware of the FACT that children are born illegitimately, every day?

SecWebLurker: Yeah, this says nothing against God bringing about Jesus' birth miraculously.

penatis: Are you aware of the FACT that children are NEVER born to virgins impregnated by the "Holy Spirit?"

SecWebLurker: No, I'm not actually. And neither are you. The only fact you are aware of is that you've never seen such a thing occur. And as I said above, this says nothing against God bringing about Jesus' birth miraculously.


penatis: Furthermore, it is perfectly reasonable to think that Mary was pregnant BEFORE she married Joseph. These three things convince me that Jesus was conceived the natural way and that he was probably illegitimate. I have human history and science on my side. What do you have?

SecWebLurker: Sorry, human history doesn't make monopolistic metaphysical claims about what CAN AND CANNOT happen, and neither does science. History tells us, very tentatively, what is known to be the case in the past. And science studies how things operate normally. I never said it was unreasonable to believe Mary COULD HAVE been pregnant before marrying Joseph. There's just no evidence that Jesus was illegitimate.

penatis: 2. Something known as the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary. Only two writers in the whole world deemed this fact important enough to mention.

SecWebLurker: Err...I don't think there were too many ancient writers present at the event. Ancient writers didn't take much notice of Jesus, period.

penatis: That is precisely my point! He was an ordinary person. Had he been extraordinary, NUMEROUS writers would have been interested in him, not just Christian propagandists.

SecWebLurker: HAHA! And every writer who says something about how extraordinary he was is what? A Christian propagandist! Round and round we go...

penatis: For example, why didn't the following writers say SOMETHING about a man who was supposedly born of a virgin impregnated by the "Holy Spirit" and the "savior" of all humankind?

SecWebLurker: Uh, probably because the virgin birth was, for obvious reasons (i.e., it raises the accusation of Jesus being a mamzer), not really something Jesus went around bragging about. Nor did Paul. And as far as Jesus being the savior of all mankind, that's something His followers said about Him after having resurrection experiences. The exalted self-understanding of Jesus in the Gospels, as evinced by his own words, is in particularly cryptic language, much of it which non-Jewish people wouldn't even grasp (i.e., 'Son of man' sayings). Arguments like these just don't work anyway because within years Jesus' followers were proclaiming these things about him all over the place, and to the extent that it is strange that we don't see Him mentioned by these historians, it is equally strange that we don't see mention of these Christians, whose existence and proclamations no one doubts. Of course neither are strange, as no historian of the time could have percieved what would come of Christianity and this poor itinerent urban preacher whom they would have seen as a mere magician. J.P. Meier, in his amazing work on the "historical Jesus", points out that what is MOST surprising is that we have ANY reference to Jesus at all:

“When we look for statements about Jesus from non canonical writings of the 1st or 2nd century A.D., we are at first disappointed by the lack of references. We have to remember that Jews and pagans of this period, if they were at all aware of a new religious phenomenon on the horizon, would be more aware of the nascent group called Christianity than of its putative founder Jesus. Some of these writers, at least, had direct or indirect contact with Christians; none of them had had contact with the Christ Christians worshiped. This simply reminds us that Jesus was a marginal Jew leading a marginal movement in a marginal province of a vast Roman Empire. The wonder is that any learned Jew or pagan would have known or referred to him at all in the 1st or early 2nd century."[John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus (New York: Doubleday, 1994)]

In his book, "The Historical Figure of Jesus", E.P. Sanders (considered one of the greatest american Jesus scholars) writes: “Most of the first-century literature that survives was written by members of the very small elite class of the Roman Empire. To them, Jesus (if they heard of him at all) was merely a troublesome rabble-rouser and magician in a small, backward part of the world” (1993, p. 49)

Sanders compares Jesus to Alexander the Great, stating that Alexander "so greatly altered the political situation in a large part of the world that the main outline of his public life is very well known indeed. Jesus did not change the social, political and economic circumstances in Palestine...the superiority of evidence for Jesus is seen when we ask what he thought."(Ibid. p. 3)

Meier also notes that knowledge of most of what ancient people believed is "simply not accessible to us today by historical research and never will be."(1994, p. 23)

As far as your big list of historians...I don't have time to address them all in detail, but I think the above covers most of it, and the fact that most of them are so late they wouldn't have access to independent info. about Jesus anyway. Whatever they said they would've gotten from Christians and we know that they had access to that, but didn't reiterate it (i.e., Appian, Arrian, etc.). Here's my take on a few.

Paterculus-His work was published in 30 AD when Jesus was just starting His ministry.

Martial- All we have are some poems and epigrams. Why should he mention Jesus in them?

Persius- LOL, yeah, we've got a few sentences from this guy.

Petronius - Gaius Petronius? Don't we only have fragments of a novel from this guy? I suppose he should've slipped Jesus into the "Acknowledgements" section?

Quintillian - We have some books on oratory from this guy. Why should he mention Jesus in them?

Quintius Curtius - He wrote a history of Alexander the Great. What does Jesus have to do with this? Nothing.

Justus of Tiberius - Er, we don't have his works. You might point out Photius who claims to have read the works of Justus in the 9th century and not to have found reference to Jesus, but since we DON'T have these works, we can't verify this, we can't study the content/context of his works to know whether or not he SHOULD have mentioned Jesus.

Statius - More poetry...

Phaedrus - Uh, didn't this guy write fables?

Silius Italicus- Jesus didn't fight in the Punic War, why should Silius mention him?

&lt;snip rest - noooo time&gt;

SecWebLurker: And they give no evidence for this either. Nor are the Talmud or Celsus held to have ANY historical credibility in these claims by anyone. For good reason - they are too far removed.

penatis: There are scholars who think Jesus was illegitimate, based on what outsiders said of Jesus. The NT give JUST ONE SIDE, the Christian one. Obviously, there were those who did not agree with the propaganda.

SecWebLurker: They think Jesus was illegitimate because they think the virgin birth didn't occur. The "outsiders" they're talkign about are NOT Celsus or the Talmud, penatis. These outsiders are in the Gospel of John and they make a statement that IMPLIES that Jesus is illegitimate, but like I said, if this were known to be the case we'd see completely different reactions from the early Gospels and epistles, and there'd be no reason to make up a virgin birth to cover for it.

penatis: According to R. Joseph Hoffman, "These polemical statements were long-lived and known to Celsus, who comments on the illegitimacy of Jesus and the absurdity of the story of the virgin birth...Undoubtedly, the bulk of this Jewish tradition can be traced back to a period before the formation of the written Gospels." Jesus Outside the Gospels, P. 40.

SecWebLurker: LOL, that is utter garbage.

penatis: You are entitled to your biased opinion.

SecWebLurker: Show me the BULK of the Jewish tradition. Where's it at? You can throw the word "bias" around all you want. I'm not afraid of it. I know that its hollow. I say something the skeptic doesn't like and I'm biased. I must be biased. If I wasn't, how could I come to such conclusions? Bias is an elusive substance. Someone's bias isn't anything anyone has access to unless someone is upfront about it themselves. And from that point, we have no way of knowing
whether or not it is the evidence that has led them to the presuppositions they work from, or their bias which led them to that particular presuppositional stance that governs their consideration of the evidence.

So vague accusations of "bias" really don't serve to tell us much of
anything - other than that yet another internet atheist is chanting the
familiar mantras.

SecWebLurker: Hoffman just pointed out another reason why a virgin birth wouldn't have been INVENTED, *ESPECIALLY* by the two gospel authors who are trying harder than any other to establish Davidic descent!

penatis: Paul said that Jesus was "born of the flesh" and was descended from David. It seems no one knows for sure what the circumstances of Jesus conception and birth were.

SecWebLurker: Jesus was born of the flesh. I don't think Paul says he was concieved of the flesh.

SecWebLurker: I do indeed believe in the virgin birth of Jesus.

penatis: Why?

SecWebLurker: It makes me feel like a rebel ;-)

SecWebLurker: The issue I was addressing was that of 'borrowing' so this is all sort of a non-sequitur. As far as witnessing the Holy Spirit going into Mary's womb - Sorry, can't help there. :-)

penatis: 1. Yes, but you called the OTHER virgin births "alleged." I merely wished to point out that one virgin birth is just as "alleged" or mythical as another.

SecWebLurker: And that is simply a non-sequitur. I said they are "alleged" in the sense that it is "alleged" that they are VIRGIN births, not in the sense that it is "alleged" that they occured.

penatis: Okay. Granted. I still consider all virgin birth stories to be myths.

SecWebLurker: That's ok, penatis. We know... ;-)

SecWebLurker


[This message has been edited by SecWebLurker (edited February 21, 2001).]
 
 

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