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Old 01-19-2001, 09:13 PM   #21
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penatis:

It is reasonable to think that a person writing a theologically-based narrative of someone's life would include something as unusual and significant as a virgin birth.

Again, the interpretation of Mark as theology and not history weakens this argument. However, I think the interpretive refutation will more damaging to later claims as historical truth.

Nomad seems to have forgotten that "Mark" wrote his narrative years BEFORE "Matthew" and "Luke" wrote theirs. The virgin birth myth could very well have originated AFTER "Mark" wrote.

This conclusion is entirely plausible.

Nomad: Mark had no reason to include the bith story in his Gospel. His audience was largely Greek and/or Roman, and would have had a limited knowledge of, or interest in Hebrew OT prophecies (hence the reason that Mark virtually ignores OT Scripture in his writings).

Nomad is SPECULATING, nothing more.


Nomads speculations are plausible, though, in this regard. And, I think there is evidence that Mark was targeting his writing to persuade rather than document.


Nomad:

Where is the evidence that the stories being circulated before Mark wrote them down were inconsistent with the Gospel of Mark? I would say that there is no such evidence, so we should consider Mark to be a good representation of those stories...

Yes yes! Mark is a good representation of the stories. Like you said, Mark is not trying to document history (even to the extent that his contemporaries do), he is trying to persuade. He is translating powerful stories to his Greek and Roman friends, so he's going to emphasize the parts of the stories he thinks his audience will find persuasive.
 
Old 01-19-2001, 09:15 PM   #22
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Nomad: We need something more solid than your speculations penatis. If you want to prove Mark contradicts the virgin birth story, you have to prove that Mark argued against it, not just that he didn't mention it.

1. Nomad has yet to present evidence that "Mark" knew of or cared about a virgin birth myth.
2. I DO NOT have to demonstrate that "Mark" argued against the virgin birth myth. That is Nomad's narrow definition of "contradiction." I use a definition found in Merriam-Webster's collegiate Dictionary: contradiction-a situation in which inherent factors, actions, or propositions are inconsistent or contrary to one another.
3. I contend that the earliest followers of Jesus DID NOT know of the virgin birth stories or they did not believe them. The narrative of "Mark" evidences this by its omission of this extraordinarily unusual and significant detail.
4. One of the earliest followers, Paul of Tarsus, makes no mention of any virgin birth story and even states very clearly that Jesus was conceived and born the way all men are.
5. Quotations from theologically-based dictionaries and commentaries, and the so-called church fathers, serve to convince only the person who is already a believer.

 
Old 01-19-2001, 09:18 PM   #23
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In closing...

To the extent that all of you, especially Nomad and penatis, stick to the actual evidence, I'm learning a lot about biblical interpretation.

To the extent that you insult and denigrate each other, I learn nothing.

It would help if you both make a case present your evidence, make your rebuttals and move on. Play to the jury, not the opposition's advocate.
 
Old 01-19-2001, 09:19 PM   #24
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Last, I can't participate in this discussion any longer. I have two forums to moderate, and my own writing here to do. Sorry.
 
Old 01-19-2001, 09:26 PM   #25
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SingleDad:

Mark does not show the same historical methodology as Heroditus, Thucydides, Josephus, or other ancient historians. But that's ok, Mark is not accurate history by our standards or his.</font>
Actually, none of them stack up by our modern standards. If any ancient author is considered to be reliable by modern standards, it's Luke, but why quibble eh?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The Apostles were quite famous by the time Mark was written (probably 65-70AD), and their letters, together with the basics of the Gospel (The Passion Narritive, the Q tradition, and probably even UrMark were all in circulation by this time).

Is there any mention in any of these documents of the virgin birth? If not, why not? Did all of them think the other would have written it? Did they all find it unremarkable?</font>
"Q" is a sayings Gospel, meaning that it has no biographical data in it at all. The Passion Narrative is about the Gospel endings dealing with the time frame from the Last Supper through to the death and burial of Jesus. None of them could be expected to include anything about the birth narrative. That is believed to belong to a seperate oral tradition (typically two separate ones, one Matt's, the other Luke's). The fact that we have two separate traditions is thought to be significant to scholars since independent attestation tells us that the traditions must have been old enough to develope along separate paths.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Since we have Matthew and Luke independently producing their stories of the virgin birth (no one thinks that Luke or Matthew used each other as sources), then it is very reasonable to assume that the virgin birth narrative was already known to the Christian community.

Then why do we hear nothing of it before Luke and Matthew?</font>
Because the only writings we do have from before the Gospels is the epistles, and these were not biographical documents.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Do not use arguments from silence.

Nomad, the argument from silence is not fallacious. It may be wrong, but it's significant. Don't just dismiss it.</font>
The problem with this argument from silence is that it stands only if we do ignore the fact that we do have additional independently generated Gospels that DO include this story. If you want to make a case that Mark didn't know about the virgin birth, you are still a long ways from proving that the story was not believed by Christians very early on.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">That is why you are an atheist ex-Christian after all.

Don't complain about penatis crawling into your head and then in the same message try to get into his.</font>
I've already ammended my position to calling him an ex-Christian sceptic, so no worries.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Since the Greek Orthodox Church and the ancients who used Greek as one of their first languages seem to think Jesus never had any brothers, I take that pretty seriously as an argument that He never had any brothers.

I don't find this persuasive.</font>
Why not? Do you typically argue with people that use a language as their first language? How about when you don't know it at all? If your answers are yes to these questions I find that a very odd position to take.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You are aware, penatis, that adelphos has more than one definition I hope.

Definitional arguments are lame, especially when both usages in dispute are legitimate.</font>
Lame eh? Penatis did not mention that adelphos can and is used in multiple connotations and definitions, including by Mark himself. You chose not to call him on this for your own reasons. So if the people that were there think it meant one thing, and someone that cannot read the language thinks it means something else 2000 years later, who do you believe?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Mark 3:31-35 (KJV)

I read this five times and I get the same sense that penatis did. Jesus' mother and biological siblings come to him, and he renounces them and calls his followers his real brothers.</font>
With all due respect SD, unless you or penatis can demonstrate a good understanding of Koine Greek, I hope you will forgive us for not considering your opinion to be an expert one. As I said before, I have no official position on whether or not Mary remained a virgin, but the fact that adelphos does not always mean brothers related through both parents (another example is that all half-brothers are also called adelphos without distinction, see the relation of Herad Antipas and Philip) is important. And the additional fact that Jesus entrusts his mother to someone who is certainly not a brother (the beloved disciple) is also powerful, and unrefuted by anyone so far as I am aware.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The analysis from the New American Bible is more on point. Even so, using a sense of adelphos as "cousin" from Mark 3:31-35 weakens that verse considerably. It becomes more: Jesus renounces his biological cousins and calls the crowd his real cousins. How lame.</font>
Not really. Jesus is still telling us that blood relations are not central to his beliefs, and this is big news for a Jew.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Mark is, overall, a better writer than this.</font>
Stylistically Mark is pretty basic, but that is not central to the discussion.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Second and third century theological commentary really does not illuminate our understanding of Mark as he wrote it. This whole section makes little sense and does nothing to refute penatis' evidence that Mark's writings fit well the actual theology of early christians.</font>
Of course it refutes penatis' unsupported claims. I do wish you would be more even handed in your evaluation of evidence, but if you check his posts, penatis has offered nothing beyond assertions about what any early Christians believed from any century, let alone the 2nd and 3rd Centuries.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Is there evidence of contemporaneous accounts of Jesus' life? We can probably assume Mark was "hooked in" to some extent with the Jesus crowd. The hermaneutic of Mark as theology rather than history is a good counter to that (of course, it will bite them in the ass in the long run! )</font>
From the standard of ancient accounts of an actual person, Jesus' life is as well documented as we get. As for your last comment, bite away, I'd love to hear your explaination for your curious belief here.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Who came first? Paul or Mark? Is it fair to restrict your commentary to only Paul and Mark? Do we need Acts as well?</font>
Paul almost certain came first (his writings are generally dated from late 40's to his death in 65-67AD). Mark is generally thought to be dated mid 60's to 70AD. Luke/Acts is dated after Mark (75-85AD is the most common range, but some argue for dating much earlier (see Wallace and Guthrie for example).

Nomad
 
Old 01-19-2001, 09:40 PM   #26
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by penatis:

Nomad: We need something more solid than your speculations penatis. If you want to prove Mark contradicts the virgin birth story, you have to prove that Mark argued against it, not just that he didn't mention it.

1. Nomad has yet to present evidence that "Mark" knew of or cared about a virgin birth myth.</font>
Why? I have said a number of times that Mark may not have known the story. That still does not make it possible for him to be used as a positive argument AGAINST the tradition.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">2. I DO NOT have to demonstrate that "Mark" argued against the virgin birth myth. That is Nomad's narrow definition of "contradiction." I use a definition found in Merriam-Webster's collegiate Dictionary: contradiction-a situation in which inherent factors, actions, or propositions are inconsistent or contrary to one another.</font>
Penatis, the challenge is simple. Offer an early Christian tradition (beyond assertion) that shows that Christians did not believe in the virgin birth. In the absense of such a thing (especially since you have refused to counter the translations of Paul's writings on this subject), your argument is built on conjecture and special pleading.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">3. I contend that the earliest followers of Jesus DID NOT know of the virgin birth stories or they did not believe them. The narrative of "Mark" evidences this by its omission of this extraordinarily unusual and significant detail.</font>
Umm... no it doesn't. I have given you a ton of reasons why Mark might not have included the virgin birth story. For your part the best you have come up with is speculation that he didn't know about it, and from that you have concluded it was not believed early on. You need to do much better than this penatis, at least offer us some positive evidence to support your claims.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">4. One of the earliest followers, Paul of Tarsus, makes no mention of any virgin birth story and even states very clearly that Jesus was conceived and born the way all men are.</font>
we heard this assertion from you before. I have offered a refutation from a scholar. Thus far you have offered us your opinion.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">5. Quotations from theologically-based dictionaries and commentaries, and the so-called church fathers, serve to convince only the person who is already a believer.</font>
You're showing your prejudices again penatis. I know you don't see them, but to rule out a source a priori, without considering or refuting their arguments at all is very lame. As usual, you need to do much better than this.

Nomad
 
Old 01-20-2001, 05:28 AM   #27
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by penatis:
Nomad: We need something more solid than your speculations penatis. If you want to prove Mark contradicts the virgin birth story, you have to prove that Mark argued against it, not just that he didn't mention it.

1. Nomad has yet to present evidence that "Mark" knew of or cared about a virgin birth myth.


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Nomad: Why? I have said a number of times that Mark may not have known the story. That still does not make it possible for him to be used as a positive argument AGAINST the tradition.

For the sake of argument, I will pretend that virgin births take place: If Mary, as a virgin, had been impregnated by the "Holy Spirit" and Jesus was the product of that union, who among his family and followers would not have been aware of that MOST EXTRAORDINARY historical fact? Answer: NONE.
On the other hand, if it was just a late mythical story, then we would expect that his family members would not believe it. And his earliest followers would not believe it either. For family and early followers would know the truth about his natural conception and birth.

What are the facts? Well, the earliest stories about Jesus do not mention a virgin birth. This extremely vital detail is MISSING where it would be expected to be found--in a biographical narrative of his life. There is not the slightest hint that Jesus was born in any way but the natural way. He has a natural mother, natural brothers, and natural sisters. No father is mentioned.


 
Old 01-20-2001, 05:55 AM   #28
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2. I DO NOT have to demonstrate that "Mark" argued against the virgin birth myth. That is Nomad's narrow definition of "contradiction." I use a definition found in Merriam-Webster's collegiate Dictionary: contradiction-a situation in which inherent factors, actions, or propositions are inconsistent or contrary to one another.
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Nomad: Penatis, the challenge is simple. Offer an early Christian tradition (beyond assertion) that shows that Christians did not believe in the virgin birth. In the absense of such a thing (especially since you have refused to counter the translations of Paul's writings on this subject), your argument is built on conjecture and special pleading.

"One of the earliest examples derives from the opening verses of Paul's letter to the Romans, in which he appears to be quoting a bipartite christological creed: '[Christ Jesus...] who came from the seed of David according to the flesh, who was appointed Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead' (Rom 13-4). That the text embodies a pre-Pauline creed is evident on both linguistic and ideational grounds: terms such as [Greek]('appointed') and [Greek] (Spirit of holiness) occur nowhere else in Paul, nor does the notion of Jesus' Davidic descent. In particular, the idea that Jesus received a divine appointment to be God's Son at his resurrection is not at all Pauline. What has struck a number of scholars in this connection is that the highly balanced structure that one normally finds in such creedal fragments is here broken by a phrase that is distinctively Pauline, [Greek]. Once this Pauline feature is removed, a balanced structure is restored, and one is left with a christological confession that appears to pre-date the writings of our earliest Christian author, or at least his letter to the Romans (dated usually in the late 50s C.E.), a confession that acknowledges that Christ attained his status of divine sonship only at his resurrection." Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, P. 48.

Bart Ehrman, to my knowledge a Christian scholar, takes a historians' view of the NT. In other words, he wishes to find out what actually took place in history. He is less interested in apologetics.

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3. I contend that the earliest followers of Jesus DID NOT know of the virgin birth stories or they did not believe them. The narrative of "Mark" evidences this by its omission of this extraordinarily unusual and significant detail.
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Nomad: Umm... no it doesn't. I have given you a ton of reasons why Mark might not have included the virgin birth story.

No, Nomad has presented the opinions of Christians, not historians. Big difference.

Nomad: For your part the best you have come up with is speculation that he didn't know about it, and from that you have concluded it was not believed early on. You need to do much better than this penatis, at least offer us some positive evidence to support your claims.

See Ehrman's statement above.


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4. One of the earliest followers, Paul of Tarsus, makes no mention of any virgin birth story and even states very clearly that Jesus was conceived and born the way all men are.
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Nomad: we heard this assertion from you before. I have offered a refutation from a scholar. Thus far you have offered us your opinion.

See Ehrman's statement above.


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5. Quotations from theologically-based dictionaries and commentaries, and the so-called church fathers, serve to convince only the person who is already a believer.
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Nomad: You're showing your prejudices again penatis. I know you don't see them, but to rule out a source a priori, without considering or refuting their arguments at all is very lame. As usual, you need to do much better than this.

Nomad is a Christian with a Christian bias. ALL of his "evidence" derives from the opinions of those who have a Christian bias. I have read and studied their opinions and do not find them convincing. I do find the views of historians convincing.





 
Old 01-20-2001, 06:07 AM   #29
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mark 3:31-35 (KJV)
SD: I read this five times and I get the same sense that penatis did. Jesus' mother and biological siblings come to him, and he renounces them and calls his followers his real brothers.


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Nomad: With all due respect SD, unless you or penatis can demonstrate a good understanding of Koine Greek, I hope you will forgive us for not considering your opinion to be an expert one. As I said before, I have no official position on whether or not Mary remained a virgin, but the fact that adelphos does not always mean brothers related through both parents (another example is that all half-brothers are also called adelphos without distinction, see the relation of Herad Antipas and Philip) is important. And the additional fact that Jesus entrusts his mother to someone who is certainly not a brother (the beloved disciple) is also powerful, and unrefuted by anyone so far as I am aware.

1. Nomad fails to mention here that his ability to read Greek is on par with that of SingleDad and myself.
2. I have clearly demonstrated the fact that the writer of "Mark" used the Greek word "adelphos" to mean "male sibling" in ALL instances but one. In that one exception he distinguishes his biological family (mother, brothers, and sisters) from that of his followers, whom he dubs "my mother, brothers, and sisters." The FACT that he makes a distinction conclusively demonstrates the error of Nomad's argument.
It is irrelevant that the Greek word "adelphos" is used by OTHERS in ways not used by "Mark."
3. The words spoken by Jesus during his execution are disputed; therefore, anything he supposedly said is conjecture, not evidence.

 
Old 01-20-2001, 01:03 PM   #30
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Well, I can see you are stuck like a broken record, and don't have much to add to the discussion, so unless you come up with anything new, we can wrap up these last three posts here and then move on.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by penatis:


For the sake of argument, I will pretend that virgin births take place: If Mary, as a virgin, had been impregnated by the "Holy Spirit" and Jesus was the product of that union, who among his family and followers would not have been aware of that MOST EXTRAORDINARY historical fact? Answer: NONE.</font>
Just to help penatis. No one thinks Mark was part of Jesus' family. His argument here is interesting, but of course, Mary and Joseph did know that Jesus was a virgin birth, so I don't know what he was trying to say. We all agree I suppose, so thanks for the thought penatis.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">On the other hand, if it was just a late mythical story, then we would expect that his family members would not believe it. And his earliest followers would not believe it either. For family and early followers would know the truth about his natural conception and birth.</font>
Well, I don't know if Jesus talked about His birth or not. None of the Gospels show that He did. And since we cannot prove for a fact that Mark was among Jesus' personal friends, it seems possible to me that he may not have known about it, or did not see it as being important to his Gospel if he did know about it. You have stuck doggedly to your argument from Mark's silence, but you have failed to shed any light onto how or why you think Mark should have shared your motivations to relate the birth narrative at all.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">What are the facts? Well, the earliest stories about Jesus do not mention a virgin birth.</font>
Yup.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> This extremely vital detail is MISSING where it would be expected to be found--in a biographical narrative of his life.</font>
Why is it vital? You have not addressed this question at all. Remember John? He doesn't mention it either, and his gospel is seen as being very late.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> There is not the slightest hint that Jesus was born in any way but the natural way.</font>
You mean in Mark or in John?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> He has a natural mother, natural brothers, and natural sisters. No father is mentioned.</font>
Don't present your unfounded opinions as facts please. BTW, since no father is mentioned, can we assume this means Jesus didn't have one? Just curious sport.

Nomad
 
 

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