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Old 06-13-2001, 12:36 PM   #51
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Oh well, I'll use my double post since its here anyway...

James or anyone, can you provide a link to a website or a reference to a book that provides the Mithras story or stories?

I thought that I had read the actual account of Mithras at one time, but I don't remember anything about a cave (or vigin birth though I know you didn't say that), only that Mithras "morphed" from a rock into a boy, then an old man, and finally into a strong youth...

Ish

[This message has been edited by Ish (edited June 13, 2001).]
 
Old 06-13-2001, 01:31 PM   #52
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The Cosmic Mysteries of Mithras
by David Ulansey

http://www.well.com/user/davidu/mithras.html
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Old 06-13-2001, 01:46 PM   #53
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Toto:
[B]The Cosmic Mysteries of Mithras
by David Ulansey</font>
Yes, excellent source Toto thanks for pointing it out. He also published a clear and well-written article on the subject:

"Solving the Mithraic Mysteries," Biblical Archaeology Review, Sep/Oct 1994.

There was an academic journal on Mithraism (can't remember the name) but it ceased publishing after only about eight issues. However, a good research library at a major university should have them in its periodicals collection.
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Old 06-13-2001, 03:53 PM   #54
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by James Still:

Nomad, why are you so hostile?</font>
I am not hostile at all James, but I do find your double standards and lack of consistency to be very troubling. We will, with luck, get to the root of your reasons for this however.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> You wrote, "As for the case of Apollonius' copying of Jesus, the evidence speaks for itself." I replied that I doubted that Apollonius knew about Jesus and therefore did not copy him. You then take me to task, suggesting that "this is yet another example (out of many) in which you misread or misunderstood what I wrote." If you meant to say instead that Philostratus set out to make his hero a copy of Jesus then you should have said that rather than berate your poor readers for not reading your mind. In any case, a little charity goes a long way.</font>
Fair enough. Now that you do understand my point, then I would appreciate it if you would actually address it and my questions.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I have no intention of getting into a debate with you for one simple reason. You haven't read the "The Life of Apollonius of Tyana" and so are at a severe disadvantage.</font>
Do not worry yourself about what advantages you may have over me James. I will take care of myself. Right now I would like to know what evidence you have to support your beliefs. Since thus far you have produced nothing beyond the title of a book, that looks pretty weak don't you think?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As for whether or not Philostratus expanded on Damis' original story, I have no doubt that he did take liberties with some of the material. Of course, I have no doubt that the Synoptists took liberties with their material as well. If you consider it a "problem" that Philostratus did that, then I can well imagine the angst you must feel over the canonical gospels.</font>
I sincerely doubt that you know what kind of angst I feel about anything. I would rather remain focused on your own beliefs right now, and how strong the supporting evidence is for those beliefs. You claim that Philostratus had a primary source that came from an eye witness. To demonstrate that this is an opinion based upon solid evidentiary support, you need only produce your evidence. Right now I do not believe that you have any evidence at all (beyond Philostratus' testimony itself), and this is not sufficient unless you are prepared to concede the same amount of evidence exists for Luke.

Further, I notice that you have completely backed away from a discussion on the Gospel of John. This Gospel claims to be written by an eye witness himself. You have said that you reject this idea completely, yet have refused to offer a single argument or reason for your rejection. Please do this, as this will allow me to see the criteria by which you judge ancient texts.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: Do you know what a primary source is James? It is not a report of a report. Nor is it a story of a story. If there is a copy of the pre-existent story of Apollonius, then all that is needed is to produce such a document. That document would be a true primary source.

James: More condecension and hubris? Do yourself a favor and seek out the Loeb edition of the Life of Apollonius of Tyana. It is a primary source just as the gospels are primary sources.</font>
In this case the Gospels are not the kind of primary source that I am talking about (with the exception of John). A primary source will date back to the original witnesses themselves, and I am prepared to concede that we have no such primary documents for the Synoptic Gospels. I consider John to be a primary source, however, as it does claim to be from an eyewitness.

The point here is that you accept that Philostratus had a primary witness given source. You do not believe that the Gospels had such sources. I would like to know why you accept the former, yet reject the latter.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Of course, I could demand that you produce the "true" primary source(s) that Luke used to compose his gospel but I won't because it's a silly demand.</font>
It is not silly, but it would be a demand that could not be met, with one exception. I accept that Mark was one of Luke's sources, and we do have his document. We also have John's Gospel, and this is a primary source. What we have regarding Apollonius is nothing beyond Philostratus' report that such a primary document existed.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: And once again you have misunderstood what I wrote. I did not say that the author of John had to be the disciple of the same name (although I believe that he was). I said, very plainly, that he claimed to be an eyewitness to the events he describes. My question to you was why you reject the possibility that he was, in fact, a witness to the life and miracles of Jesus.

James: What's this the third (or fourth) time I've woefully misunderstood what you've written?</font>
Before I move on to your next point, I wanted to point out that you did not address my point nor my questions here. Why is that?

But rather than answer my new question, simply answer the first one: Why do you reject John as having been written by an eyewitness, even as you accept that Philostratus was using a primary source that was written by an eyewitness?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I don't know about you but when I write something that a reader misunderstands I'm humble enough to admit that the fault lies with me and my writing rather than the reader.</font>
To each his own I suppose. In Richard's case he sees the misunderstanding of one of his points as a reason to exit the debate completely. For myself, when I see my post as having been very clear on a point, yet it is misunderstood, I merely point out the error of my opponent, offer further clarification of the point, then return to the original question.

Right now my only concern is to have you answer my question.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> ...I still say that whoever it was that wrote the Gospel of John was not an eyewitness to Jesus' ministry. And you know what? I have no intention of defending that bit of conventional bit of wisdom to you anymore than a teacher would entertain a student's request for a proof of a polynomial equation in a first-year calculus course.</font>
Conventional wisdom? Is that the best you can do? I'm sorry James, but this is as lame as it gets so far as debating goes. Conventional wisdom, as you well know, is often wrong. And conventional wisdom that is not understood by its believers is simply intellectual laziness. If you will not defend your belief, and prefer, instead, to fall back on this general appeal to authority, then such is your right, but that will not give you the right to claim that your basis for belief is more solidly rooted than is my own. Personally, I prefer to formulate my own arguments in defence of my beliefs.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Nomad: What I am asking, James, is that IF you are willing to say that Apollonius’ story was not copied from the Gospels, will you also concede that the Gospels did not copy from pagan sources?

James: I will say no such thing and my reasons are the same. We have no evidence for or against the notion that Philostratus copied from the gospels. It is possible that he might have in a few places but we just don't know. We do know that at the end of the third century some pagans promoted Apollonius as an alternative to the cult of Jesus. Yet, Philostratus completed his work at the beginning of the third century.</font>
This is very disingenuous of you, James, as it is thought that the authorities commissioned Philostratus to complete his work so that it could be offered in competition to Christianity and the Gospels. I covered this off in my earlier post to Richard. I will offer it again:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad June 12, 2001:

And as for what we know about the life of this Apollonius, it was recorded in the 3rd Century by Philostratus at the request of the empress Julia Domna.

From Britannica.com

Apollonius of Tyana a Neo-Pythagorean who became a mythical hero during the time of the Roman Empire. Empress Julia Domna instructed the writer Philostratus to write a biography of Apollonius, and it is speculated that her motive for doing so stemmed from her desire to counteract the influence of Christianity on Roman civilization. The biography portrays a figure much like Christ in temperament and power and claims that Apollonius performed certain miracles. It is believed that most of the biography is based more on fiction than fact. Many of the pagans in the Roman Empire believed what was said in this work, and it kindled religious feeling in many of them. To honour and worship Apollonius, they erected shrines and other memorials.

And what do scholars say about the attestation of the works of this Apollonius?

"One of the most famous in this succession of Pythagorean philosophers was a man named Apollonius, of the Greek city of Tyana in the Province of Cappadocia, in what is today eastern Turkey. Although he lived in the second half of the first century A.D., we have little direct information about Apollonius, except for this biography by Philostratus of Lemnos, written much later, i.e., around A.D. 218.
When the emperor Caracalla was on his way to capture the territories to the East, he stopped at Tyana to pay tribute to 'the divine Apollonius,' even donating the funds to build a temple to him there. And Caracalla's mother, Julia Domna, commissioned one of the professional writers in her entourage to publish a fitting account of Apollonius' life. "
[David R. Cartlidge (Editor), David L. Dungan (Editor), Documents for the Study of the Gospels, (Fortress: 1994[2nd ed]) pg. 208]
</font>
As we can see, the evidence appears to directly contradict your belief on this matter. What evidence do you have to support your opinion James?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> That's why I said that your manifesto is too broad. Let me give you an example. Eusebius tells us that Jesus was born in a cave, a story that was also told about Mithras. Did the story about Jesus come over from paganism?</font>
I swear, each time I get into these discussion with sceptics on pagan mythology, raising red herrings appear to be the norm.

Eusebius was writing in the 4th Century, and was not quoting from the Gospels, but, rather, offered his own speculations. For all we know he WAS using Mithras as a template. But since Eusebius didn't write the Gospels, and the Gospels clearly do NOT have Jesus born in a cave, your point and question are irrelevant.

As I said before, I would prefer to stick with your beliefs and why you hold to them. I am especially interested in the views you hold on Apollonius of Tyana. Hopefully you have at least some evidence to back up your claims. Thus far you have not shown us anything at all, and this is very disappointing (and no, telling us to read a source that you refuse to quote is not offering evidence. Anyone can play that game).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Maybe. But then again maybe Jesus was said to have been born in a cave and Mithraism borrowed it. You can't just make sweeping statements about these primary sources.</font>
Now I know that you do not know what a primary source is. Eusebius is not a primary source. His story of Jesus' birth came out about the same time as did that for Mithras. I doubt that we can know who copied from whom either, but since the Gospels predate both of them, it is irrelavent. Further, we are talking about Apollonius and his miracles, and were they copied from the Gospels or not. I would prefer to stay focused on this issue for the moment.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> You have to take each story within them on a case by case basis. So it is certainly not obvious to me in the way that it is to you that Philostratus copied from the Gospels. If you know of some reasons why I should reconsider then by all means let me know. </font>
I have been giving you some of the reasons to reconsider your views, but for the moment, I am primarily interested in knowing what evidence you used to form what you believe right now. Thus far I am obviously not very impressed, but if you will give me something to look at, then perhaps we can begin a real dialogue here.

Nomad
 
Old 06-13-2001, 04:49 PM   #55
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Nomad,

I did not say that the gospels had no written sources and I don't know why you keep ascribing that view to me. I specifically mentioned the Q gospel as an example of one such source. There may have been others, such as the "sayings of the Lord" to which Papias refers. Luke tells us in his prologue that he was aware of the attempts others had made before him. I regard these testimonies as good evidence of sources that predate the gospels. I have never said otherwise. What I did say was that we don't know whether any of these sources are from eyewitnesses. That's a very different matter altogether.

Philostratus tells us that he received from the Empress an autograph from Damis, a disciple of Apollonius. He also used other written sources and cautions us to avoid one other biography that had been written by an opponent of Apollonius. I argued that the existence of Damis' autograph should be taken seriously because we know that she was a patron of philosophy and had the monetary means to keep a library of her own. You seemed to agree. Further, when I read Philostratus I find that this testimony has a ring of truth to it and I have no good reason to doubt that Philostratus did indeed receive such a manuscript from the Empress. But perhaps after you obtain a copy of The Life it will not ring true for you. But it is incumbant upon you at least to look at the book before you go any further in this line of reasoning. Otherwise how can you make any argument at all about it?

I have quoted nothing from our previous exchange because it is too jumbled and vague. That doesn't mean there aren't important things tucked inside of that mess. If what I have written here does not clear up my position for you then by all means ask me to clarify. But please be specific. Also, if you persist in childish taunts then I will not respond at all.

James
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Old 06-14-2001, 11:08 PM   #56
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Hello James

I have no problem changing my posting style to accommodate you. Traditionally I have used the point by point response because it is comfortable for me, it insures that I address each of the issues raised by the person with whom I am conversing, and it offers the context of the comments that I am making. Since it is also a very commonly used method (not only by me, but my a great many members on all sides), I have not typically found many who object to my using it. All of that said, I will drop it, as you appear to find it confusing.

A great many issues are coming up in our discussion, but chief among them, in my opinion, is your belief that Polystratus used a primary eyewitness source for his work about Apollonius, while at the same time rejecting that any of the Gospels did this. There are a number of reasons to question your faith in the primary source for Polystratus, and also a good number of reasons to believe that the Gospels had such primary eyewitness sources. Right now, you have failed to offer even a single supported argument in favour of your beliefs on either subject. A general appeal to “conventional wisdom” regarding John’s Gospel not being written by an eyewitness is hardly convincing. I do not know of a single reputable scholar that considers the issue to have been irrefutably settled against such authorship. More than one has concluded that John was produced by a witness. Thus, your dismissal of the argument with a wave of your hand is insufficient. Similarly, your rejection of the idea that Luke used sources that came from eyewitnesses is highly suspect. Luke was almost certainly written at a time when such witnesses could have been known to the author (i.e. 30-50 years after the events themselves). Certainly the availability of written and oral traditions that dated back to such sources is not out of the question. Yet you have not given us any solid reasons for rejecting that Luke had access to primary witnesses. By contrast, Polystratus enjoyed no such possibility. Apollonius had been dead over a hundred years by the time he put quill to papyrus. Nor have you produced any evidence that such a source existed for Polystratus, beyond his testimony that he did. If there were any written sources, we have no textual evidence for it, placing the level of evidentiary support for its existence at no better than what we have for “L” or the Aramaic Gospel of Matthew. Quite simply, a document cannot serve as the only evidence for its sources. At the very least, we should demand one or more other external and independent sources. For this reason, I do not accept as “proven” that “L” existed, nor do I see any reason to accept that a primary witness source existed for Polystratus.

My next concern centres around the fact that we cannot possibly know how much redaction and embellishment Polystratus applied to ANY of the sources he may have had. Quite frankly, given the lack of evidence that he even had a source, we cannot even rule out that he made up the entire thing out of whole cloth. With the Gospels, we at least have multiple independent reports, allowing us to compare the various stories, and in doing so, attempt to uncover which stories are most likely to have predated those Gospels. This is how the “Q” theory gained so much credibility in the first place. In the absence of an actual text or fragment of a “Q” document, this is the best we can hope to achieve. Similarly, we can attempt to construct a pre-gospel Passion Narrative by comparing the accounts given in the Synoptics, as well as in John. By contrast, given that we have no other stories about Apollonius, then we cannot make such an extrapolation through comparison of the text. On this basis, your confidence in the stories handed down to us by Polystratus strikes me as unwarranted, especially in view of the fact that you attach no such credibility to the Gospel stories about Jesus. You cannot have it both ways.

Finally, my third serious concern focuses on your unwillingness to admit that the Gospel accounts could not have possibly borrowed from the stories of Apollonius, nor will you admit that Polystratus could very easily have borrowed liberally from the Gospels when he put together his own book. I have offered clear evidence that supports the belief that he (or his sponsors) would have wanted him to borrow from Christian traditions. Yet, you have refused to address this evidence, and insisted that I must first read “The Life of Apollonius of Tyana” in order to participate in the discussion. Such an insistence is meaningless, of course, since you will not even bother to offer a single quotation from that work (or any other kind of argument for that matter) to show how Polystratus wrote his account independent of the Gospels. I could just as easily tell you that until you have read all of the books on the subject, you would be an unworthy debating opponent. To me, we come to these discussion boards as much to talk with one another, and to learn as for anything else. You tell us that Damis was interested in Apollonius, and had the means to find and maintain early works on the life of his life. But this is hardly very convincing. Plenty of people had such means and interests, yet none of them has left any written record that predates Polystratus. On this basis, to accept that such sources existed requires a degree of faith that I believe is unjustified, at least so long as you refuse to accept as equally probable that there were pre-Gospel sources for the Passion Narrative, Birth Narrative, “L”, and “M”. To believe in one, without accepting the other is inconsistently selective in the acceptance of the available evidence.

Thus, it is my wish that you address each of these points. If you claim that none of the Gospels had access to eyewitness accounts, tell us why you reject John as coming from such a primary source, and also why the Synoptics (and especially Luke) did not have such sources. As you do this, please show how you are being consistent in your application of your methods of inquiry, since you have stated very clearly that Polystratus did have access to such sources. At the same time, please tell me why you have more confidence that the story relayed by Polystratus contains fewer embellishments than do the Gospels, and especially why you do not believe that he used the Gospels themselves as a source. Finally, please refrain from offering your beliefs as if they are self evident truths, especially since you know that they are not. Appeals to conventional wisdom do not equate to proven facts, and this is merely a truism. So long as there is reasonable doubt on a matter, rational debate can take place. None of your opinions expressed in this thread come even close to being treated as prima facie facts or truths, so when I ask for evidence to support your opinions, I would appreciate either an actual response, or a concession that you do not wish to engage the debate.

Thank you for your time James. It is my hope that we can explore your beliefs, and the evidence that supports them. I believe that this is still possible, and look forward to your response.

Be well.

Nomad
 
Old 06-15-2001, 01:16 PM   #57
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Nomad, I'm happy to clear up right away a fundamental confusion that keeps popping up in this discussion. You write that:

"A great many issues are coming up in our discussion, but chief among them, in my opinion, is your belief that [Philostratus] used a primary eyewitness source for his work about Apollonius, while at the same time rejecting that any of the Gospels did this."

I thought I had explained myself last time but evidently I did not. Let me try again. I accept the position (call it a working hypothesis) that Philostratus worked from a manuscript written by an eyewitness. My reasons are as follows:

(1) Sometime at the end of the second and beginning of the third century, Philostratus was commissioned by Empress Julia Domna, wife of the Syrian ruler Severus, to update an existing biography she had in her possession.

(2) The biography was said to have been written by Damis, a Syrian Greek and disciple of Apollonius; however, Greek was not Damis' first language and the writing was a little on the rough side and so needed the sort of polish that a rhetorician like Philostratus could bring to it.

(3) The Empress was herself a patron of philosophy and had the monetary means and desire to keep a library.

(4) Philostratus knew of other manuscripts as well but with the exception of another extant biography he does not tell us who wrote them.

(5) Quite simply, he tells us that he made use of a manuscript by a disciple of Apollonius -- not evidence on its own of course but at least he makes the claim and so we must consider it.

Philostratus tells us these things in a very straightforward manner and it seems quite plausible, given the immense popularity of Apollonius, that there would be several writings about him. For these reasons I accept Philostratus' version of the events as a working hypothesis. I have no reasons to be overly skeptical about the matter but if there are good reasons to abandon the hypothesis, then I am all ears. I do not want to hold to a false view.

Here's the frustrating part. You again accuse me of "rejecting that any of the gospels did this [use primary eyewitness sources]." I have done no such thing and I will again say that I have no idea why you keep ascribing this view to me. For the record I do not reject the claim that the gospels used sources that were authored by eyewitnesses. Of course, neither do I affirm it. While it is possible that the evangelists made use of sources written by eyewitnesses we have no evidence for that hypothesis from within the internal evidence one way or another. Absent any reason to think that they did, and given the fact that their authors make no mention of using sources by eyewitnesses, we should remain agnostic about the matter. It is one thing to have an author tell us that he made use of an eyewitness account, as in the case of Philostratus, and it is quite another matter to have an author tell us that he is himself an eyewitness (John) or to make no such claim about either themselves or their sources (the Synoptists). If you want to say that one or more of the evangelists did make use of an eyewitness source then I am eager to listen. I do not want to remain ignorant of an important fact.

You write:

"There are a number of reasons to question your faith in the primary source for Polystratus, and also a good number of reasons to believe that the Gospels had such primary eyewitness sources. Right now, you have failed to offer even a single supported argument in favour of your beliefs on either subject."

I gave you my reasons above, which are nothing new since they are a summary of what I had written earlier. So it is flat wrong to accuse me of not providing you with my reasons for believing that Philostratus worked with a manuscript from an eyewitness. You may not like them and you may find them invalid but I have provided them to you nonetheless. As for your curious charge that I should provide you with reasons to think that the gospel authors made no use of eyewitness accounts my only response is "why?" The evangelists do not make the claim and you are the one here saying that they did. The burden rests with you. Also, you may not like my appeal to conventional wisdom regarding the skepticism that John's Gospel was written by the beloved disciple or the disciple of the same name but I am not here to convince you of it. I accept it as a working hypothesis (as do the majority of scholars) and do not feel any compulsion to change that hypothesis. Perhaps you have a good reason why I should change my mind. I would gladly consider it.

We move on to another of your concerns:

"Finally, my third serious concern focuses on your unwillingness to admit that the Gospel accounts could not have possibly borrowed from the stories of Apollonius, nor will you admit that Polystratus could very easily have borrowed liberally from the Gospels when he put together his own book."

Despite your penchant for extremes, I have never said that I am unwilling to admit that Philostratus "could not have possibly borrowed" from the gospel stories. If you go back and read what I wrote I said that "I don't want to make such sweeping claims." I also said that it was possible that Philostratus knew about Jesus or the gospel stories and he very well might have borrowed from some of them. But a lot of things in life and history are possible. What is possible is uninteresting, I'm more interested in what is probable. If you want to say that Philostratus copied from the gospel stories, then the burden rests with you to provide at least one or two reasons why I should consider your thesis. Again, the burden rests with you. You do make something of an attempt when you write:

"The question is whether or not his biographer, Philostratus, had such knowledge, and here the answer is almost certainly yes. On that basis, and especially given the motives of his sponsor (namely to compete successfully against Christianity), the likelihood that he copied from the Gospels is very good."

I wish I had your confidence. Maybe Philostratus knew about Jesus but then again maybe he didn't. Maybe he'd heard the name but it was one of dozens of teachers and he had no interest in finding out more. There is certainly no evidence that Domna had the motives you ascribe to her. The burden rests with you to back up this very strong claim with something more than the likelihood being "very good." As a friend once reminded me when I made a similarly sweeping declaration on very skimpy evidence, "the superstructure of your conclusion is crushing the weight of your argument." It seems to me that you must either back up this argument or withdraw it. Right now it is being crushed.

You take me to task for insisting that you obtain a copy of the primary source in question:

"Yet, you have refused to address this evidence, and insisted that I must first read “The Life of Apollonius of Tyana” in order to participate in the discussion. Such an insistence is meaningless, of course, since you will not even bother to offer a single quotation from that work...."

Let me say that for me it's a matter of principle. When I studied at the university (and on my own before that) I spent long hours in the library struggling with this material. I learned the hard way that your professors will ridicule you to your face if you make the sort of sweeping declarations that you have made here without first going to the source and consulting it. In fact, it is a tenet of scholarship that we must inform ourselves about a source as best we can before formulating arguments about it. So if I seem unduly harsh or rigid it is only because I had to pay my dues and I don't want to see you cheated out of the opportunity to struggle with the text yourself. It's the least you can do before dismissing it out of hand don't you think?
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Old 06-16-2001, 08:11 AM   #58
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Hello again James, and thank you for your posts.

I would say that we are about done here, and will give you the last word if you wish it. I will close by summarizing my concerns about your beliefs and your arguments.

First, all of the evidence you appear to have that Philostratus used a primary eyewitness source is the internal evidence from Philostratus telling us that he had such a source. Since this is plausible (given the Empress’ interest in such matters, and that she had the means to acquier the necessary documents), you take it as being prima facie reasonable to accept that he is telling the truth. I actually would not have too much difficulty with your belief in this matter, were it not for the way you then treat the sources for the Gospels.

Thus, for example, you reject as being most probable that Luke had such sources, when he tells us in his prologue that he also was using sources that came from the first witnesses, and that he was writing to Theopholis, a man with the means to have acquired such sources, or at the very least to be familiar with them. Further, since we can examine other documents that appear to have used many of the same sources as did Luke (i.e. especially Mark and Matthew), plus we have numerous external references to such sources (i.e. Papias and the sayings Aramaic Gospel” of Matthew), plus we have actual textual evidence of the existence of Mark (long accepted as a source for Luke), we at least have external evidence for Luke’s sources.

With Philostratus we have nothing of the sort on either count. There is no physical evidence of his source, nor do we have other contemporaneous documents that use those same sources, allowing us to compare them against Philostratus and thus determining how faithfully he adhered to the original story. Finally, the Gospels were probably written within the lifetime of some of those witnesses (I assume you accept the traditional dating of the Gospels), while Philostratus obviously did not do this. As with many of my arguments, this is yet another point where you do not address what I see as a legitimate issue. You do not even bother to explain why you refuse to do this.

Quite simply, I do not understand your inconsistency on these points, and you do not even appear to see it.

The problem of your inconsistency in accepting internal evidence is compounded by the fact that you will not address the question of John being written by an eyewitness. John says that it was written by an eyewitness. You assert that it is not. This is fine, but when I have asked you (more than once) to offer even a single reason to reject John’s authorship by an eyewitness you have seen fit to appeal to conventional wisdom, and what a majority of unnamed and unquoted scholars believe. Since anyone can play the appeal to authority card, this strikes me as incredibly weak. Perhaps where you went to university, that was all the evidentiary support you were expected to offer on a question like this. When I was in university we were expected to do much more. Once again, I cannot compel you to go further, and actually present your arguments, but the fact that you will not do this is both curious and extremely telling to me. I cannot imagine a theist being allowed off the hook so easily on these boards. Perhaps in the future I need only assert that my beliefs are conventional wisdom, but quite honestly, very often they are not, and I prefer to engage the arguments themselves. Who believes what is far less interesting to me personally than why they believe it.

Your contradiction is made all the more curious by your closing statements to me on possibilities. You said:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> But a lot of things in life and history are possible. What is possible is uninteresting, I'm more interested in what is probable.</font>


You have given us no reason to treat your belief that Philostratus used an eyewitness account is more probable than other possibilities (including that he made up pretty much the whole thing, including the existence of Damis and Damis’ story about Apollonius). You have further refused to tell us why you think that John being written by an eyewitness is less probable. Appeals to authority are not proof or even evidence of anything. Finally, you have not told us why Luke telling us that he used earlier eyewitness accounts is not probable enough in your view for you to accept it as being more likely than not. Since the evidence to support Luke’s claim is at least as good (and actually is a good deal better) as is Philostratus’ claims, then your rejection of Luke and acceptance of Philostratus is puzzling.

Your confidence in your beliefs is obviously based on something James. I am glad that you feel you have researched this question, and find your answers satisfying. What has frustrated me is that you have not applied your standards evenly to Philostratus and the Gospels, nor have you seen fit to give me even the semblance of an argument for some of your most confidently held views. Just so that I am clear here, your opinions and arguments are interesting, but in the absence of actual evidence (preferably external and independent) that supports your opinions, I have found them to be no more than that. Since I do not see your opinions (or even those of scholars) as being self evident truths, I have found your responses wholly unsatisfying.

Thank you again for your time. And be well. I leave you with the last word.

Peace,

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited June 16, 2001).]
 
Old 06-16-2001, 08:23 AM   #59
James Still
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Pacific Northwest (US)
Posts: 527
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Fair enough Nomad. I do not wish to have the last word (we'll have to agree to disagree). I will say that since my silence on John troubles you so much I will post my reasons for thinking that the Gospel of John was not direct from the pen of an eyewitness.
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