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Old 03-19-2001, 12:26 PM   #11
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:

Oh please, Nomad, do you seriously want anyone to write a book for you explaining the success of one strain of Christian belief over all others, as well as over previous religions?</font>
Not a book, just a basic outline of what you think happened between the death of Jesus, and the beginnings of Christianity in the days after His crucifixion. I would like to know how much, if any, thought the non-believer has given to this.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> What are you going to do if we can't, crow that Christianity succeeded in converting the smallest and least technologically and socially advanced of the world's major empires of the time because god intended it to be that way?</font>
Not at all. Like I said, I am only interested in hearing what you think happened. If you do not know, that is cool.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As I said, the reasons for Christian success are entirely mundane and unteleological.</font>
Actually, you have done nothing of the sort Michael. Offering a theory requires at least some supporting arguments, and thus far you have produced neither a theory, nor any supports outside of claiming that it has happened in other places. If that's the best you've got, that is, as I said before, cool.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> If you have some other explanation, put up some claims and then evidence, and we'll discuss. The default position of history is non-teleology. If you think history has a moral dimension, it is up to you to prove it.</font>
Please reread my opening post. I am assuming that the Resurrection as described in the Bible did not happen. Now, as a person who does not know what happened, I would like to hear some theories and supporting evidence. If you have none, that is alright, but I would still like to know what others think.

Thanks,

Nomad

 
Old 03-19-2001, 12:29 PM   #12
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
"Within his own lifetime, Mohammed was recognized as a messenger of god. The religion he founded united a diverse group of warring tribes, a much greater feat than taking over an empire, and founded the greatest Empire of its time, that stretched from China to Spain. It may now be the fastest growing religion in the world today. How did this happen?"

Well. Basically, Mohammed claimed that Allah had revealed his word to him. Mohammed did not claim to be divine or perform miracles. Some people believed him. Those that believed him started killing those that didn't. Eventually, more people starting joining than were being killed.

That pretty much explains the beginnings.
</font>
"That pretty much explains the beginnings."

...of both Xtianity and Islam. Do you think it is some coincidence that the two bloodiest religions in human history have a common root?

"Mohammed did not claim to be divine or perform miracles."

No, he just claimed to be the last prophet of god, visited heaven, talked with angels, and various other non-miraculous things. Today a non-holiday is held by muslims on various dates to not celebrate the non-miracle of the Ascension into heaven.

Layman, you and Nomad do fine so long as you stick to the 25 books you know and stay within 150 miles in any direction of the Mediterranean Coast.

Michael
 
Old 03-19-2001, 12:33 PM   #13
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
4) Within days of that event, Jesus closest friends, followers and even some of His family members were saying that the tomb was empty and that Jesus was alive again. They believed this against all opposition, and eventually (about 300 years or so) the religion that they founded swept over the Empire, replacing virtually every other religion the Western World had known to that point.

</font>
I see that my previous post only peripherally addressed the question. Let me try to continue then. It seems that after Constantine accepted Christianity, it's success was much more assured. So the issued would be how Christianity became successful in the years of about 30-300 CE. Well, Paul's exuberance certainly gave it a good framework. We have a foundation laid quickly for it's further spread right there. It certainly promised quite a great reward for remaining faithful to it (eternal life) coupled with a tremendous penalty for apostasy (damnation). Couple this with it's rather odd syncretist/anti-syncretist tendency in that it adopted terminology from surrounding philosophies and religions while at the same time being completely intolerant of practicing other religions with Christianity. The potential believer was therefore able to keep at least some elements that made them comfortable with their former religions (e.g. saints 'replacing' polytheistic worship, some festivals, Greek philosophical terminology) while at the same time being absolutely forbidden from practicing their former religions.

At the same time, Christianity filled a void in the ancient world at it's time. The 'old' religions seem to have been on the decline, many not taking their polytheistic deities seriously any longer (hence many of the other cults springing up in Greece and Rome.) A foundation for monotheism in Greece and Rome had already been lain by the Greek philosophers and the diasporas of the Jews and yet Judaism was to exclusive and Greek philosophy to impersonal. Christianity combined just the right elements: monotheism which had already grown in intellectual respectability, a personal God, a eternal reward (life after death), missionary zeal, a universal vision, intolerance of multi-religious practice (the downfall of many overly syncretistic religions- the danger being a watering down of them to the point of loss of identity). In spite of the persecution, the very cosmopolitanism of the Romans provided a means of ready transport for the gospel; travel was relatively safe and easy compared a few centuries before. In short, Christianity took advantage of a very fertile ground.

Written before I saw your reply, let me read your reply, and I'll respond to it.


[This message has been edited by not a theist (edited March 19, 2001).]
 
Old 03-19-2001, 12:37 PM   #14
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
"That pretty much explains the beginnings."

...of both Xtianity and Islam. Do you think it is some coincidence that the two bloodiest religions in human history have a common root?

"Mohammed did not claim to be divine or perform miracles."

No, he just claimed to be the last prophet of god, visited heaven, talked with angels, and various other non-miraculous things. Today a non-holiday is held by muslims on various dates to not celebrate the non-miracle of the Ascension into heaven.

Layman, you and Nomad do fine so long as you stick to the 25 books you know and stay within 150 miles in any direction of the Mediterranean Coast.

Michael
</font>
You equate the beginnings of the two?

Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire as a peaceful religion. By persuasion, not be force. Mohammend himself lead his people in raids and in war. From its very beginnings Islam spread through conquest.
 
Old 03-19-2001, 12:37 PM   #15
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:

Actually, Earl Doherty has a more far-reaching hypothesis:

The earliest Christians, including Paul, preached a cosmic divinity without an earthly history, in the fashion of some pagan deity. Paul seems ignorant of the content of the Gospels, even though much of that content would suit his purposes admirably. Jesus Christ raising Lazarus from the dead is something that he'd gladly have mentioned as proof that JC has conquered death, for example. So why would Paul not have mentioned the Gospels when his successors for nearly two millennia have never tired of doing so???</font>
Hi lpetrich

We have beent through quite a few posts on whether or not Paul believed in a physical Jesus that lived and died on a cross, then rose again physically from the dead. I have not seen you contribute to those threads, so I am going to stick with the assumptions of my thread here. If you think that Jesus was only a myth, and reject the conclusions of the preponderance of scholarship available to us today that is your right of course. On the other hand, trying to build a convincing case that Jesus was constructed as a myth out of whole cloth within about 3 years of his supposed life and death is nothing short of preposterous, and requires some supporting evidence.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The writer of Mark created an Old-Testament-inspired allegory, a Midrash, about him, which eventually became "understood" as a literal biography.</font>
Fair enough, but what about Paul's accounts of Jesus life, death and resurrection? Or Peter's, or John and James and the Jerusalem Church?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The writers of Matthew and Luke added the "Q" sayings, some of which were ultimately Cynic sayings and some of which were answers to those who rejected them.</font>
There is no "Q" in the passion narratives, so this is irrelevant. If you wish to talk about "L" and "M" material, please do so. Did Doherty address them, and if so, how?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The resurrection accounts were added in order to fit in with Paul's dying and resurrected Christ; the four Gospels have four different resurrection accounts which are likely separate compositions.</font>
I thought Matt and Luke were dependent on Mark, and John and Paul were independent? Remember, just as Paul shows no awareness of the Gospels, the Gospels show no awareness of Paul. This argument from silence cuts both ways, so we cannot really pretend that the Gospel's used Paul can we?

Nomad
 
Old 03-19-2001, 01:02 PM   #16
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
You equate the beginnings of the two?

Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire as a peaceful religion. By persuasion, not be force. Mohammend himself lead his people in raids and in war. From its very beginnings Islam spread through conquest.
</font>
Mohammed was luckier. He got his hands on the political reins in his own lifetime. Christians had to wait a while. Of course, the early peaceful spread didn't mean much later, did it?

Nomad, there isn't really anything very interesting in the spread of a missionary religion. One need only examine Buddhism.
Christianity was able to spread precisely because Rome was an empire; if Jesus and Paul had been born stone-age tool users in Kenya, the incoming Bantu-speakers would have killed them all. Rome had good communications, a common political culture, political stability and so forth. Of course, if god had caused jesus to be born in China, imagine how much more effective he would have been. You guys are right, the lord DOES work in mysterious ways.

Too, one must think of the time. Christianity was hardly the only religion spreading throughout the Roman Empire. And it seems there is some cussedness to humankind that causes some people to convert to any religion, no matter how stupid. Look at the success of Mormonism, the JWs, the Taipings, the Krishnas, the TMers, etc etc.

I don't think I need go further, there is nothing very mysterious or unusual about the spread of a missionary religion in an imperial state. There are several examples from history. It would be far more interesting if people converted even though Xtians never sent out missionaries anywhere.

Michael
 
Old 03-19-2001, 01:15 PM   #17
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
Actually, the time frame for Nomad's question is decidedly PRE-Constantine. Specifically, you fail to provide a historically informed naturalistic explanation for the resurrection, and utterly fail to discuss the first 300 years of Christianity's rapid expansion. While many conversions after Constatintine can no doubt be explained by the emperor's influence, what explains its spread, for example, when Nero was busy using Christians as so much kindling?</font>
Layman, I am not ignorant of history. And I made two A's in my World History classes in college. If I remember correctly, Emperor Constatine's conversion happened in the year 313. (For some reason, that number sticks in my head.) Regardless, or whether that date is accurate, I know it happened before the Council of Nicea which was 325. So both his conversion and the Council of Nicea happen well within Nomad's given 300 years.

Furthermore, I do not need to give a "historically informed naturalistic explanation for the resurrection", whatever that may be, because one, Nomad said that for purposes of this particular discussion he was assuming the ressurrection didn't take place, and two, the points that I stated doesn't require.

Plain and simply, Christianity, the religion, is one based on fear. It is a relgion of fear and exclusion and thrives on the "us vs. them" mentality. (This quite the irony because much of what Jesus taught about was love. However, what Jesus taught and what Christianity became are two different things.) Built on the roots of Judaism's "chosen people" mythos, Christianity takes this self-righteous position to new levels. It even took the persecution of people like Nero as signs that they were right. "See, God must be on our side and we must be right if we are pissing everyone else off. They must be wrong." It is the fanaticism of the early Christians that enabled them to survive and won them followers. The whole "us vs. them" mental frame is very stong and convincing.

However, I don't think Christianity would have survived that much further had it not become the state religion of the Roman Empire following the conversion of Emperor Constantine. Christianity had only survived up until that point. And I believed it survived because many of the other religions were polytheistic, and therefore accepting/tolerant of new religions. What was Jesus but another godman to add to the pantheon? After its instition as the state religion, it thrived. It thrived because it wasn't tolerant of other religions. Believe in our one God or else! Quite convincing argument there.


So yes, I did answer Nomad's questions with my thoughts. And yes, I did keep it within his 300 years(apx.) timeframe.

-Spider

 
Old 03-19-2001, 01:16 PM   #18
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Actually, I'd like to take my alternative narrative of post-Crucifixion events one step at a time if that's okay with you. My concern is that I'll construct a ten part theory only to have you find an error at part two or three and then have to re-construct it from that point on.

So I'll start at this point, just to see what options I have open as I proceed on to further steps in the theory/hpothetical narrative.
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">2) Josephus tells us that when he tried to rescue three of his friends from crucifixion, even given the best medical care at the time, two of the three died in any event. This argues strongly that survival on the cross was extremely unlikely.
</font>
2 out of 3 ain't bad!
But it does at least leave open the possibility of someone surviving crucifixion. That actually gives better odds than I expected. Without jumping ahead any in the argument or trying to reconcile the condition Jesus would have been in had he survived and without taking into account anything that might have happened after he was removed from the cross (I'll work on that in the next step if we get past this one); would you concede that it was at least hypothetically possible that he was removed from the cross while still barely alive? The very fact that we have Josephus record seems to show this is possible. Will you stipulate this? Not that it's probable, just possible.
 
Old 03-19-2001, 02:44 PM   #19
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:

Nomad, there isn't really anything very interesting in the spread of a missionary religion. One need only examine Buddhism.
Christianity was able to spread precisely because Rome was an empire; if Jesus and Paul had been born stone-age tool users in Kenya, the incoming Bantu-speakers would have killed them all. Rome had good communications, a common political culture, political stability and so forth.</font>
Alright, on the one hand we have the existence of the Roman Empire accounting for Christianity's success in its first 400-500 years (working with your theory), but then the Western Roman Empire collapsed completely in 476, and still without the benefit of all the things you listed Christianity continued to spread throughout Western Europe?

Unlike the Muslims, Christian missionaries in this period had no armies, and unlike China when the Buddhists arrived, it didn't have an organized political structure either. So how can you credit the existence of an organized Empire with Christian success on the one hand, then claim that the destruction of this same Empire into the anarchy of the Dark Ages (c. 500-800AD) made Christian success a guarantee?

In neither case did Christians enjoy the benefits of control of the state or large armies to assist in its spread.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Of course, if god had caused jesus to be born in China, imagine how much more effective he would have been. You guys are right, the lord DOES work in mysterious ways.</font>
I don't think that the Chinese have a concept of a Messiah figure. Your theory here is interesting however. Would you say this is why Buddhism succeeded in China?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Too, one must think of the time. Christianity was hardly the only religion spreading throughout the Roman Empire. And it seems there is some cussedness to humankind that causes some people to convert to any religion, no matter how stupid. Look at the success of Mormonism, the JWs, the Taipings, the Krishnas, the TMers, etc etc.</font>
What is your point here please? Christianity wiped out every other religion in the Western World (except Judaism), and anything else that came after it was more or less a branch of Christianity. All of this was done during periods when organized empires did not exist in Europe (i.e. 500-800AD) or when being actively opposed by the Empire that was there (i.e. 33-313AD plus the reign of Julian in 362-3).

Even when the Church did have official sanction, it seemed to have to protect itself from it's rulers almost as much as when it was officially opposed by these same states (see example of Roman emporers promoting Arianism against Church orthodoxy). Don't you find this even a bit curious?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I don't think I need go further, there is nothing very mysterious or unusual about the spread of a missionary religion in an imperial state. There are several examples from history. It would be far more interesting if people converted even though Xtians never sent out missionaries anywhere.</font>
How about when Christians sent out missionaries into hostile countries (without any army to help them) in which the local authorities opposed them?

Serious question: Were Buddhist monks killed in large numbers by the local Chinese authorities when they were spreading Buddhism around 500 to 100BC?

Nomad
 
Old 03-19-2001, 03:18 PM   #20
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by not a theist:

Actually, I'd like to take my alternative narrative of post-Crucifixion events one step at a time if that's okay with you. My concern is that I'll construct a ten part theory only to have you find an error at part two or three and then have to re-construct it from that point on.</font>
Oaky, this sounds like a reasonable approach to me nat. Once both of us have agreed that we have covered off the point sufficiently, then we can move to the next. At the same time, I think we should look to come to an understanding of which theory looks more reasonble, yours or mine.

On this particular point, namely did Jesus die on the cross, I think you have a very tough case to make. Let me cover it off very quickly why I think so (especially if you are going to stick to the swoon theory as your principle thesis).

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">nat: So I'll start at this point, just to see what options I have open as I proceed on to further steps in the theory/hpothetical narrative.

Nomad: 2) Josephus tells us that when he tried to rescue three of his friends from crucifixion, even given the best medical care at the time, two of the three died in any event. This argues strongly that survival on the cross was extremely unlikely.

nat: 2 out of 3 ain't bad!
But it does at least leave open the possibility of someone surviving crucifixion. That actually gives better odds than I expected.</font>
Before we get too excited here, allow me to quote from the actual statement from Josephus, and why I think it does not help your case much.

When I...saw many prisoners who had been crucified, and recognized three of my acquaintances among them, I was cut to the heart and came and told Titus with tears what I had seen. He gave orders immediately that they should be taken down and receive the most careful treatment. Two of them died in the physician's hands; the third survived.
(Life of Flavius Josephus 420-21)


From this brief account we can already see some serious problems in comparing what happened to Jesus to what happened to these men.

First, no one asked to have Jesus taken down early. The only reason we know of as to why he was given to Joseph of A. was because he was thought to already be dead.

Second, Jesus did not receive any medical care at all. Instead, he was wrapped up in a cloth and put in a tomb with a large stone rolled in front of it.

Third, Jesus had been severely beaten before he was crucified, making his survival even more problematic.

Fourth, Jesus was stabbed by a spear, and blood and water poured from the wound. This did not happen to any of the men in Josephus' report.

To help the discussion, I found a very good article that goes into considerable detail as to how we can know Jesus died on the cross, and most likely from what as well. I would recommend that you go through it, and respond to the key points before we conclude that there was a reasonable probability that Jesus survived the cross.

(This also saves me having to type out huge sections from Raymond Brown's excellent The Death of the Messiah, Vol. 2, and that is a very good thing from my point of view ).

From On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ:

(The bulk of the article dealing with Jesus' actual death is found at the bottom 1/4 of the page)

Jesus' death after only three to six hours on the cross surprised even Pontius Pilate.' The fact that Jesus cried out in a loud voice and then bowed his head and died suggests the possibility of a catastrophic terminal event. One popular explanation has been that Jesus died of cardiac rupture. In the setting of the scourging and crucifixions with associated hypovolemia, hyperemia, and perhaps an altered coagulable state, friable non-infective thrombotic vegetations could have formed on the aortic or mitral valve. These then could have dislodged and embolized into the coronary circulation and thereby produced an acute transmural myocardial infarction. Thrombotic valvular vegetations have been reported to develop under analogous acute traumatic conditions. Rupture of the left Ventricular free wall may occur, though uncommonly, in the first few hours following infarction.

However, another explanation may be more likely. Jesus' death may have been hastened simply by his state of exhaustion and by the severity of the Scourging, with its resultant blood loss and preshock state. The fact that he could not carry his patibulum supports this interpretation. The actual cause of Jesus' death, like that of other crucified victims, may have been multifactorial and related primarily to hypovolemie shock, exhaustion asphyxia, and perhaps acute heart failure. A fatal cardiac arrhythmia may have accounted for the apparent catastrophic terminal event.

Thus, it remains unsettled whether Jesus died of cardiac rupture or of cardiorespiratory failure. However, the important feature may be not how he died but rather whether he died. Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between his right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death (Fig 7). Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Without jumping ahead any in the argument or trying to reconcile the condition Jesus would have been in had he survived and without taking into account anything that might have happened after he was removed from the cross (I'll work on that in the next step if we get past this one); would you concede that it was at least hypothetically possible that he was removed from the cross while still barely alive?</font>
I would need to seem some convincing arguments before I would grant even this much nat. Given the report from the doctors on the page I have listed, together with the probable historicity of both Jesus' inability to carry his own cross to Golgotha and the spear piercing his side, I would say it is far more reasonable (in fact the only reasonable) position to argue that Jesus died on the cross before his body was taken down.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The very fact that we have Josephus record seems to show this is possible. Will you stipulate this? Not that it's probable, just possible.</font>
Given the critical differences in the condition of men in Josephus' account, coupled with the fact that they received the best medical treatment available in its day (which wasn't great to begin with), I don't think we can grant this possibility just yet.

Do you have any evidence of someone surviving crucifixion without the benefit of medical treatment, or of the Romans actually botching a crucifixion so that the individual actually survived?

Nomad
 
 

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