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Old 04-19-2001, 08:35 PM   #1
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Post Humane conversation

It is crucial that posters from the full spectrum of Christianity are able to dialogue and argue evidence with each other without descending into rhetorical denigration of the other person's views.

Leaving aside the militant skeptical position for a moment, it seems to me there are at least two points of view active in discussions of theological and historical views of the gospels and what sorts of presuppositions are brought to the table. It would be useful for interested readers to see the integrity of both sides and for the participants to perhaps outline a middle ground that underscores the shared tradition of Christian faith from which we make our points.

I believe that the gospels are not to be read as history, that they lie in a stream of tradition and development that, when traced backwards, points to the words and deeds of a person in the first century that profoundly moved people's lives (and still does today). Others may believe that everything in the gospel accounts that can be taken literally and historically must be taken that way. Does this then mean that one side has less logic, critical thought or merely that the presuppositions are different?

Both sides have value and both sides have integrity. When either side characatures or denigrates the other's integrity and value, both sides go down.

Both sides, for example, could argue all day about whether the virgin birth was fact or fiction and both sides might well get nowhere. But maybe we miss the real point here. In the first century, many heroic men/gods were born of a virgin. Could we argue about gods instead? Talk about yours born in an animal pen from hardscrabble systemic poverty or yours born in a royal palace with gold furninshings and armed guards? What did the story of the virgin birth tell them then and tell us now--if we listen to it? What is the character of your god? Does your god want to kill me? Is your god with the poor and the farmers or with the power elite? These are fantastic questions for discussion....

The final point of my post is a recognition of a third group of posters. They claim they are arguing from history but they are only masquerading as historians. I can never tell if I am in a bona fide historical discussion or a theological/evangelical discussion disquised as history. They are aplologists in sheep's clothing and no trustworthy or truthful dialogue is possible with this bunch.

If you accept the New Testament accounts literally, then please say so and we can have a respectful dialogue on that basis. If not, present to an open viewing which sayings and deeds of Jesus you consider historical and which you consider non-historical. Let your yes be a yes and your no be a no: Did the evangelists create words and deeds for Jesus to say and to do to keep his presence alive with their communities?
If your answer is yes but no examples are forthcoming, then you are a literalist in disguise. If you are honest with yourself and to me then a respectful dialogue is certainly possible.

(And thanks to biblical scholars for this post for modeling integrity, truth and mistakes!)

[This message has been edited by aikido7 (edited April 19, 2001).]
 
Old 04-19-2001, 08:55 PM   #2
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points to the words and deeds of a person in the first century that profoundly moved people's lives (and still does today).

Correct, if you are speaking of Paul, the creator of Divine Theory of Jesus.

Wrong, if you are speaking of Jesus, he profound statements lacked any originality. Couldn't come close to any decent cult leader today.
 
Old 04-19-2001, 09:20 PM   #3
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Hello Aikido

I agree that only and all heroic men are born of a virgin. Better yet all heroic deeds are born of a virgin and are called ultruistic because of it! Since ultruistic deeds are not men they prove that all men can be born of a virgin. Whow, thank heavens for perpetual virginity!

Amos
 
Old 04-19-2001, 10:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by aikido7:
It is crucial that posters from the full spectrum of Christianity are able to dialogue and argue evidence with each other without descending into rhetorical denigration of the other person's views.

Leaving aside the militant skeptical position for a moment, it seems to me there are at least two points of view active in discussions of theological and historical views of the gospels and what sorts of presuppositions are brought to the table. It would be useful for interested readers to see the integrity of both sides and for the participants to perhaps outline a middle ground that underscores the shared tradition of Christian faith from which we make our points.
</font>

Meta =&gt; applause, applause! (seriously)


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I believe that the gospels are not to be read as history, that they lie in a stream of tradition and development that, when traced backwards, points to the words and deeds of a person in the first century that profoundly moved people's lives (and still does today). Others may believe that everything in the gospel accounts that can be taken literally and historically must be taken that way. Does this then mean that one side has less logic, critical thought or merely that the presuppositions are different?</font>

Meta =&gt; I am saying that I agree, the Gospels are not history books, although Luke had more of a historians consciousness than did the others, that is almost universally reocgnized among scholars. But being sermonic does not meant they they do not contain histoircally valid material.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Both sides have value and both sides have integrity. When either side characatures or denigrates the other's integrity and value, both sides go down.</font>

Meta =&gt; I don't say that the Skeptics don't have integrity, some of them do. But it seems that the hero figures they choose to fly their colors are often not good scholars. There are good scholars they could choose from, but they often perfur a Dhortey to a Crossan, or, for the countless number who wave the words of Crossan as though they were a magic guarontee of truth, seem totally oblivous to the fact that Crossan is a believer and has his own form of faith.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Both sides, for example, could argue all day about whether the virgin birth was fact or fiction and both sides might well get nowhere. But maybe we miss the real point here. In the first century, many heroic men/gods were born of a virgin. Could we argue about gods instead? Talk about yours born in an animal pen from hardscrabble systemic poverty or yours born in a royal palace with gold furninshings and armed guards? What did the story of the virgin birth tell them then and tell us now--if we listen to it? What is the character of your god? Does your god want to kill me? Is your god with the poor and the farmers or with the power elite? These are fantastic questions for discussion....</font>

Meta =&gt; That is one of the sticking points of incredulity. If you comb the reral mythology, not the works of Dhortey and people trying to disprove Christainity, but the real schoalrs who just work with the actual myths has they have been handed down, none of those guys are born of Virigins. I'm not saying there were never any such stories, but most of the ones they choose to talk about are bs. Krishna was never said to be bron of a Virign, not that I can find. Mithra was born of a rock. Was the rock, was it a virigin rock? Osiris was bron of a mythological etherial goddess who was married to an etherial god=husband and was not a virgin, and so on.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
The final point of my post is a recognition of a third group of posters. They claim they are arguing from history but they are only masquerading as historians. I can never tell if I am in a bona fide historical discussion or a theological/evangelical discussion disquised as history. They are aplologists in sheep's clothing and no trustworthy or truthful dialogue is possible with this bunch.</font>
Meta =&gt; That's what I call Lowder, even though he has real academic credentials. But most peopel on these boards do not have academic credenitals. One really needs training to understand what history is about and how to be an histoiran. You can learn a lot form reading on your own, but without contract with real historians and observations of how they think and work, and wihtout discussions with other Granduate students there is just a limit to what can be done. The disrestect and incredulity toward chruch historians and theologians is very telling. Anyone who knew history is and read the works of the better schoalrs such as Stephen Niel, A.D. Knock, and Luke Johnson, would see immediately that they know what they are doing.

My Masters degree is in Theological Studies, and my concentration was in History of Christian Thought. That was at one of the most liberal seminaries in the country. I am a Ph.D. Candidate in History of ideas, University of Texas, I'm ABD, and I study Netwon and the rise of modern science in the enlightenement. But my hobby is textual criticism.I've practiced it since I was an atheist. Even as an atheist I loved to read the works of textual critics. I studied Greek for 3 years, I've read the NT in Greek plus many classical texts as well. I sutdied classical Greek not NT Greek. That's the real thing. NT is really just classical Greek (Attic is closet to Koine) with bad grammar. I will put my historical knowledge up against anyones any time. NOt that I think I'm better than everyone, but I will defend my knowoledge of being an histoiran agasint any comer. And I also do apologetics.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
If you accept the New Testament accounts literally, then please say so and we can have a respectful dialogue on that basis. If not, present to an open viewing which sayings and deeds of Jesus you consider historical and which you consider non-historical.</font>

Meta =&gt; Sorry. I applaude and agree with your attempt to establish a respectful dialouge and we can do that. I am all for that, and it can be done. But the problem with the way you are trying to introduce it is two fold: 1) too simplistic to make a sharp dichotomy between "Is it i literal, if not which statements are?" That is a much more complex task than you realize. 2) trying to say which statements are and aren't is too complex a task, not even major shcolars can do that, that's why the Jesus Seminar was so such a daring thing in the begining.

It's not enough to dichotomize between "literal" and "not literal" because the text itself is a compulation of redactions from unkonwn sources, many of them, and each of these follows ceratin forms. Just deciding wheather to use form criticism or materialist exegesis or some such approach is a task in itself.

The best way to approach it is through an examination of one passage at a time, rather than trying to strat topically and than throwing out gobs of passages to support some ideological view point (and I say that for both sides). Partly that is broght on by the skpetical approach, which usually takes the form of "here's a contradiction, and any contradiction undoes the whole thing." That conditions the apologist to work passage by passage, which is good, but the idea that one contradiction uspets the whole belief system is silly so usually those discussions go nowhere. But than we have the Dhorety kind of thing, where a case is being made that invovles exegesis of a broad range of passages. No time is given to the proper development of any one passage, and each side interprits through its rhetorical lense, and than both sides are speaking different languages, making different assumptions.

So the best appraoch would be to begin with a discussion of one's basic assumptions abut the text.

Let your yes be a yes and your no be a no:


Meta =&gt; too simplistic.


Did the evangelists create words and deeds for Jesus to say and to do to keep his presence alive with their communities?


Meta =&gt; NO! They were redacting forms, that is stories that were told over and over and that were fitted into certain forms, such as "miracle stories" "resurrection apperances" "eschatological sayings" and so on. I don't know of any scholar who thinks that the actual authors made any of it up.



If your answer is yes but no examples are forthcoming, then you are a literalist in disguise. If you are honest with yourself and to me then a respectful dialogue is certainly possible.

Meta =&gt; That litmus test trades on the simplistic dichotomy.

(And thanks to biblical scholars for this post for modeling integrity, truth and mistakes!)


Meta =&gt;


 
Old 04-20-2001, 06:28 PM   #5
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Meta--

Thank you for an attentive and responsive post and for not descending to anger and denigration. A measure of my faith has been restored!

There is one important point I failed to make clearer: my concern is not with the die-hard skeptics (especially the ones who start with the fact that Jesus never existed). My exasperation is with those on these boards who "talk the talk" of historical methodology but do not "walk the walk." They claim to accept the principles of biblical scholarship's historical standards yet in case after case they consistently throw them out with the bathwater. When the focused questions come to the fore, these posters ignore them and end the thread or immediately dive in to begin their invective and sarcasm and thus effectively sidestep any fruitful excange.

Not only does this method lack integrity and manners, it quickly becomes very tiresome.
 
Old 04-22-2001, 06:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by aikido7:
It is crucial that posters from the full spectrum of Christianity are able to dialogue and argue evidence with each other without descending into rhetorical denigration of the other person's views.

Leaving aside the militant skeptical position for a moment, it seems to me there are at least two points of view active in discussions of theological and historical views of the gospels and what sorts of presuppositions are brought to the table. It would be useful for interested readers to see the integrity of both sides and for the participants to perhaps outline a middle ground that underscores the shared tradition of Christian faith from which we make our points.

I believe that the gospels are not to be read as history, that they lie in a stream of tradition and development that, when traced backwards, points to the words and deeds of a person in the first century that profoundly moved people's lives (and still does today). Others may believe that everything in the gospel accounts that can be taken literally and historically must be taken that way. Does this then mean that one side has less logic, critical thought or merely that the presuppositions are different?

Both sides have value and both sides have integrity. When either side characatures or denigrates the other's integrity and value, both sides go down.

Both sides, for example, could argue all day about whether the virgin birth was fact or fiction and both sides might well get nowhere. But maybe we miss the real point here. In the first century, many heroic men/gods were born of a virgin. Could we argue about gods instead? Talk about yours born in an animal pen from hardscrabble systemic poverty or yours born in a royal palace with gold furninshings and armed guards? What did the story of the virgin birth tell them then and tell us now--if we listen to it? What is the character of your god? Does your god want to kill me? Is your god with the poor and the farmers or with the power elite? These are fantastic questions for discussion....

The final point of my post is a recognition of a third group of posters. They claim they are arguing from history but they are only masquerading as historians. I can never tell if I am in a bona fide historical discussion or a theological/evangelical discussion disquised as history. They are aplologists in sheep's clothing and no trustworthy or truthful dialogue is possible with this bunch.

If you accept the New Testament accounts literally, then please say so and we can have a respectful dialogue on that basis. If not, present to an open viewing which sayings and deeds of Jesus you consider historical and which you consider non-historical. Let your yes be a yes and your no be a no: Did the evangelists create words and deeds for Jesus to say and to do to keep his presence alive with their communities?
If your answer is yes but no examples are forthcoming, then you are a literalist in disguise. If you are honest with yourself and to me then a respectful dialogue is certainly possible.

(And thanks to biblical scholars for this post for modeling integrity, truth and mistakes!)

[This message has been edited by aikido7 (edited April 19, 2001).]
</font>
For what it is worth, aikido7, I heartily agree with you.

rodahi

 
 

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