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Old 05-22-2001, 09:52 AM   #31
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I thought you were one of the more fair-minded skeptics.

I like to think so.

.. I'll have to revise that opinion.

Sorry to hear that, but I am interested in knowing why you revise it.

I nowhere said that the majority of scholars, in the United States or elsewhere, accepted that Jesus was the Son of God. The fact that you would suggest that I said that is just an outright lie.

A lie is a statement made with the full knowledge that the statement is false. Sorry, but I had no such knowledge. Perhaps you didn't notice, but I asked a question. I did not make an accusation (even though this is how you treat it)

The question was with the intent of understanding your objection to turtonm's statement. The only reason I pointed out the fact that billions of people don't accept Jesus as the son of God is because, it is quite reasonable to believe among those billions there are a good many scholars across all those disciplines.

Turtonm asserted what he did and you wanted to know why I didn't take exception to it since I did take exception to your statement that N.T. Wright supposedly says that "Europe" finds American radical criticism "laughable".

You haven't explained the Europe thing yet, but I am attempting to explain why I didn't see Turtonm's statement as a big problem. (You seem to equate the two statements)

So let me ask again: Do you find it unreasonable to believe that the majority of experts from all the disciplines mentioned world-wide don't believe in Jesus as the son of a God?

As for Turtonm's additional mention of the probability that belief in Jesus' existence hasn't been "conclusively" proven, I don't see why that is a problem either. Conclusive proof is hard to come by.

He didn't just say that most of the world doesn't believe that Jesus was the Son of God (and I certainly never claimed that most of the world believes that Jesus was the Son of God). But you knew that didn't you?

Of course I did, but I made the assumption that you would see the point and understand why I didn't think his statement was unreasonable. Apparently that was a bad assumption.

I can't see how you missed it since I included the same quote in the post you responded to. Are you intentionally distorting what he said to make it look more palatable, more reasonable, less in need of some evidentiary support?

Hopefully you now understand why I phrased the question the way I did.

So we are left with a double standard. I refer to a respected, leading New Testament scholar immersed in New Testament studies from Europe and America. But somehow that is arragont of Prof. Wright to characterize the scholarship with which he is so intimately familiar.

I suppose if your comparison were a good one this might be a valid point, but I don't see your statment of "Europe" finding something "laughable" at all comparable to Turtonm's general statement.

In any case this would not legitimize the statement that you made, it would only make me biased. Perhaps I am, though I try not to be.

But Mike can come along and make bold claims about the majority of scholars from all countries having some level of doubt about the existence of Jesus and that's okay because you agree with him.

Before you call people liars I suggest you first ask a few questions to clarify matters so that you don't wind up making an ass out of yourself.

I have found you to be a reasonable apologist and I haven't yet revised my opinion of that, though such harsh responses might convince me otherwise.

 
Old 05-22-2001, 09:55 AM   #32
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As the title of this thread is I want Jesus To Exist,I must admit that anymore I don't want Jesus to exist. No doubt that's just a phase. I hope to get to the state where I honestly don't care one way or the other, which should happen when I can conjecture with a fair degree of certainty how/where the synoptic gospels began. My present inclination against their historicity is just the result of coming to know how triumphalistic, sneaky and destructive Christianity can be and has been, as a wholly imperfect, human institution.

It shouldn't matter that one scholar says this or another says that, unless we've made a thorough study of the evidence ourselves and can counter a conclusion with "as good" evidence. Traditionally, religion hasn't invited examination because it's somehow threatening and unsettling to the religious "bureaucracy". But without examination, there wouldn't be a diversity of religious beliefs.

I'm just presently afraid of monolithic christianity, the same as a lot of people were afraid decades ago of monolithic Soviet Communism or American Capitalism. Those fears and hates are conclusions, not observations, and can really paralyze the thought process.

The synoptic Gospels are the defining history of Jesus. Without them, Jesus crawls even deeper into the shadows, maybe beyond historical legitimacy. In Liberating the Gospels 1996, Spong theorizes that these synoptics are midrashic expressions of the Jewish Liturgical Year, that the first Christians were wholly Jewish, and that Jesus is mythical, constructed out of Jewish Scripture, History and Tradition. His theories, built on Goulder's, are the first reasonable explanation I have personally read that explain the Gospels' existence, and when taken in the context of Roman/Jewish antagonism, make any sense. Without all the miracles, I really wouldn't care. But with those miracles, the gospels cry out for explanation in terms other than actual history.

Spong leaves the reader not with the possible history of a mythical Jesus but a credible explanation for the beginning of Christianity. I have zero idea of Spong's credentials, and they really don't matter here. It's his explanation of the evidence that's important, and whether that explanation holds up when the evidence is further scrutinized. It sets personal "faith" considerations aside to a large degree.
 
Old 05-22-2001, 10:10 AM   #33
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by madmax2976:
I thought you were one of the more fair-minded skeptics.

I like to think so.

.. I'll have to revise that opinion.

Sorry to hear that, but I am interested in knowing why you revise it.

I nowhere said that the majority of scholars, in the United States or elsewhere, accepted that Jesus was the Son of God. The fact that you would suggest that I said that is just an outright lie.

A lie is a statement made with the full knowledge that the statement is false. Sorry, but I had no such knowledge. Perhaps you didn't notice, but I asked a question. I did not make an accusation (even though this is how you treat it)

The question was with the intent of understanding your objection to turtonm's statement. The only reason I pointed out the fact that billions of people don't accept Jesus as the son of God is because, it is quite reasonable to believe among those billions there are a good many scholars across all those disciplines.

Turtonm asserted what he did and you wanted to know why I didn't take exception to it since I did take exception to your statement that N.T. Wright supposedly says that "Europe" finds American radical criticism "laughable".

You haven't explained the Europe thing yet, but I am attempting to explain why I didn't see Turtonm's statement as a big problem. (You seem to equate the two statements)

So let me ask again: Do you find it unreasonable to believe that the majority of experts from all the disciplines mentioned world-wide don't believe in Jesus as the son of a God?

As for Turtonm's additional mention of the probability that belief in Jesus' existence hasn't been "conclusively" proven, I don't see why that is a problem either. Conclusive proof is hard to come by.

He didn't just say that most of the world doesn't believe that Jesus was the Son of God (and I certainly never claimed that most of the world believes that Jesus was the Son of God). But you knew that didn't you?

Of course I did, but I made the assumption that you would see the point and understand why I didn't think his statement was unreasonable. Apparently that was a bad assumption.

I can't see how you missed it since I included the same quote in the post you responded to. Are you intentionally distorting what he said to make it look more palatable, more reasonable, less in need of some evidentiary support?

Hopefully you now understand why I phrased the question the way I did.

So we are left with a double standard. I refer to a respected, leading New Testament scholar immersed in New Testament studies from Europe and America. But somehow that is arragont of Prof. Wright to characterize the scholarship with which he is so intimately familiar.

I suppose if your comparison were a good one this might be a valid point, but I don't see your statment of "Europe" finding something "laughable" at all comparable to Turtonm's general statement.

In any case this would not legitimize the statement that you made, it would only make me biased. Perhaps I am, though I try not to be.

But Mike can come along and make bold claims about the majority of scholars from all countries having some level of doubt about the existence of Jesus and that's okay because you agree with him.

Before you call people liars I suggest you first ask a few questions to clarify matters so that you don't wind up making an ass out of yourself.

I have found you to be a reasonable apologist and I haven't yet revised my opinion of that, though such harsh responses might convince me otherwise.
</font>
I have not asserted, and do not assert, that "most" scholars believe that Jesus is the Son of God. There was no reasonable basis upon which to imply that I did.

And yes, there is a double standard. Mike can speak for a world full of scholars on his own accord, while I'm chided for referring to a leading European Scholar's characterization of the state of New Testament studies in Europe and America. If you don't like the " rather laughable" term, then try amused, somewhat perplexed by, or any number of similar statements. The point is that Mike offered yet another unsupported allegation, and I provided a response based on the statements of a respected European Scholar, who is in a better position than Mike to evaluate the state of European Scholars on this subject.


 
Old 05-22-2001, 10:50 AM   #34
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
I have not asserted, and do not assert, that "most" scholars believe that Jesus is the Son of God. There was no reasonable basis upon which to imply that I did.

And yes, there is a double standard. Mike can speak for a world full of scholars on his own accord, while I'm chided for referring to a leading European Scholar's characterization of the state of New Testament studies in Europe and America. If you don't like the " rather laughable" term, then try amused, somewhat perplexed by, or any number of similar statements. The point is that Mike offered yet another unsupported allegation, and I provided a response based on the statements of a respected European Scholar, who is in a better position than Mike to evaluate the state of European Scholars on this subject.

</font>
I suppose in the end its all a matter of one's viewpoint.

You said that N.T. Wrights says that "Europe" finds "radical" criticism "laughable". I still don't see how you (or Wright) can legitimately speak on such a specific point for all of Europe. Unless you have some ready polls or estimates, (which would help) I don't see the reasonableness of this statement.

Turtonm says that he believes that a majority of experts from various discplines world-wide don't believe in Jesus as the son of a God. Given known world population estimates and the latest religious membership numbers with which I am familiar, I don't find this unreasonable.

I think it important to note that neither point is a strong argument in any case.
 
Old 05-22-2001, 10:56 AM   #35
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by madmax2976:
I suppose in the end its all a matter of one's viewpoint.

You said that N.T. Wrights says that "Europe" finds "radical" criticism "laughable". I still don't see how you (or Wright) can legitimately speak on such a specific point for all of Europe. Unless you have some ready polls or estimates, (which would help) I don't see the reasonableness of this statement.

Turtonm says that he believes that a majority of experts from various discplines world-wide don't believe in Jesus as the son of a God. Given known world population estimates and the latest religious membership numbers with which I am familiar, I don't find this unreasonable.

I think it important to note that neither point is a strong argument in any case.
</font>
Again Madmax, if all Turton had said was that a majority of scholars don't believe that Jesus was the Son of God, I would have agreed with him. But although I've quoted him three times, you seem to be ignoring the second part of his statement:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The vast majority of scholars across most disciplines (myth, history, comparative religion...) and from most countries would not regard Jesus as the son of god, and would probably agree that even his existence has not been conclusively proven. </font>
And again. I don't remember whether Wright used the term " rather laughable," but he is much more qualified to say that most European scholars think that American scholars are too skeptical than Turton is to say that the vast majority of scholars from most countries don't think that the existence of Jesus has been proven.
 
Old 05-22-2001, 11:04 AM   #36
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
Toto, your quote doesn't even come close to proving that Cambell thinks there was no human Jesus. Try again.

You truly want a cite from Professor Wright? I can get it for you, but my guess is you only want it to be spiteful. Do you really doubt he characterizes American and Continental scholarship as I have represented? On what basis do you so doubt?
</font>
I don't know what Campbell thinks of the historical Jesus, but I really liked that quote, and it certainly could be used to justify a stance that Jesus is mythical and was viewed as mythical by early Christians.

And yes, I really doubt that N.T. Wright said that about Continental scholarship, if he is such an unbiased expert. I know that there are some fairly radical schools of historical criticism in Germany and Holland, and the Journal of Higher Criticism links to some of them. And since you didn't provide an exact quote or the context, I would be interested to see the basis for his statement.

And spiteful, moi? What would spite have to do with asking you to prove your sources, the way you demand everyone else prove their sources?
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Old 05-22-2001, 11:10 AM   #37
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Toto:
I don't know what Campbell thinks of the historical Jesus, but I really liked that quote, and it certainly could be used to justify a stance that Jesus is mythical and was viewed as mythical by early Christians.

And yes, I really doubt that N.T. Wright said that about Continental scholarship, if he is such an unbiased expert. I know that there are some fairly radical schools of historical criticism in Germany and Holland, and the Journal of Higher Criticism links to some of them. And since you didn't provide an exact quote or the context, I would be interested to see the basis for his statement.

And spiteful, moi? What would spite have to do with asking you to prove your sources, the way you demand everyone else prove their sources?
</font>
Cambell's statement says nothing about whether there is a historical Jesus. You can pretend it does, but that doesn't make it so. In fact, I'm not sure that Campbell equates something being a myth with it being completely untrue.

I asked Mike (hardly everyone else) for his source because Mike provided a link supporting his assertion, but that link provides no support for that assertion.

I don't have my N.T. Wright books with me. You'll have to wait.
 
Old 05-22-2001, 11:25 AM   #38
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Again Madmax, if all Turton had said was that a majority of scholars don't believe that Jesus was the Son of God, I would have agreed with him. But although I've quoted him three times, you seem to be ignoring the second part of his statement:

Nope. I mentioned that part at least twice I think. I find nothing unreasonable about saying most experts (from those various disciplines on a world-wide scale), would say that Jesus's existence hasn't been proven conclusively. Conclusive proof is very hard to come by. (I'm not sure it is even possible in soft sciences like history or textual criticism.)

And again. I don't remember whether Wright used the term " rather laughable," but he is much more qualified to say that most European scholars think that American scholars are too skeptical than Turton is to say that the vast majority of scholars from most countries don't think that the existence of Jesus has been proven.

Ah, well if its "European scholars" as opposed to just "Europe", that might be more reasonable. If thats what you meant, then I would probably withdraw my objection.

 
Old 05-22-2001, 11:25 AM   #39
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Layman:
I know we've been over these points. But you are wrong about them. You have done no literary examination or discussion of John at all. The only reason you believe that John relies on Mark is because there are a couple of similar stories, which is exactly what we would expect from an independent source about the same man. Even if it could be shown that John did rely on Mark for a couple of his stories, the majority of his Gospel would still be independent.

Umm...no. John has two fictions from Mark. Both together in the same section. Either John hit upon exactly the same fictions, with largely the same language, or Jesus really walked on water. Since the second assertion is absurd, the obvious inferences is that John knew of, and used either Mark or an identical tradition. This is what, the fifth time I've repeated this? Can you explain how John and Mark hit upon exactly the same fictions?

Q is not just a sayings Gospel. It has two miracle narratives and a discussion of John the Baptist and his relationship to Jesus. We've been over this but you seem to ignore this fact.

Q has healing stories, which are quite common in myths and of no importance either way. Does Q have a death-and-resurrection story? Walk on water? You're right, we have been over this before, and you didn't have any case. Mack confidently assigns John's appearance in Q to mythologizing -- his position is one that I sketched out above, that John is there to make Jesus legit. He concludes "...this implies that the authors created this story about John and Jesus in the light of their experiences in the 60s, not with any interest in accurately describing circumstances appropriate to the 20s." In any case, John's appearance in Q, as Mack makes clear, in no way invalidates the mythicist case.

My position is clear. Doherty argues that there is enough evidence to prove Jesus a myth-construction. You presuppose that Jesus is real. I argue that there is not enough evidence to permit me to chose between those two views, since all the evidence we have, includin Q and L, are mythology and not history.

You completely ignore "L" which is another independent sources which contains sayings and narrative about a human Jesus.

Is 'L' widely accepted? is it even strongly defensible? Do we know when it was written? Who wrote it? Why?

In any case, have we even discussed "L?" Can't recall. Is it a historical source written by someone attempting to find out what really happened, and tell the facts as he or she knows them? No. It's still myth. So we have myth constructors referencing other myths. And you think this is "evidence" for anything?

Josephus provides independent confirmation as well.

Or it is an interpolation. Not exactly a settled question. In any case, Josephus is writing late in the century.

M. Paul. Hebrews.

Myths, all, or references to myths. I'm supposed to take myths as evidence of anything? Paul never met Jesus. Whether or not he thinks of him as a real person is arguable, and certainly he knows little about him.

Do you really buy Doherty's theory? If you do, just say so.

I think I've said about four times now that I find it compatible with such evidence as we have, but don't believe the evidence that we have is sufficient to allow us to make choices.

For example, did Arthur exist? How about Lancelot? Guinevere? Did Gunnar of Hliderend exist? How about Flosi and the Burners? How do we know that the Vikings made it to N. America? Not because of the stories they made, but because of hard evidence. Do you believe Daoists flew through the air? Did Yin Cheng really teach Wei about alchemy? Did Roland really fall at Roncesvalles? How about Ogier the Dane? Did William Tell exist (after all, the argument against him is an argument from silence)? Maybe there is a reality under each of these stories. Is it accessible? No. Is Jesus' accessible? Also, no.

If you don't you are still dealing with references to the human Jesus in Paul and Hebrews.

So those writers concieved of Jesus as a real human? And? Many writers of Robin Hood and William Tell believed those people existed. Consider this passage from a site on Robin Hood sources:

Robin Hood originated in the form of folk tales, but was later recorded onto paper. The oldest written reference to Robin Hood is an indirect one, The Vision of Piers Plowman (1378), while the first direct reference is in a Yorkshire place-name, The Stone of Robin Hood (1322).

Would you take any of this as actual evidence for a real Robin Hood? What would qualify as evidence for the existence of mythical people?

Remember when they thought Pilate was an invention? And then somebody discovered an inscription......I remind you that you laugh at the skeptic "obsession" with inscriptions, until you actually need one to prove the existence of someone.

Since that selective quote taken out of context is all you have read of Wright,

Wrong on both counts....

I'd suggest getting a better grasp of him before claiming to understand his historical method.

What for? Re-read his point about history and faith. Can you honestly say that he is a scrupulous scholar, not letting his faith interfere in his scholarship?

Moreover, it is irrelevant. He is a leading New Testament scholar. His knowledge of the field of New Testament studies is much, much broader than yours could ever hope to be. He, much more than you, is in a better position to describe the trends of Continental and American scholarship. That was all I was referring to him for. His "faith" is irrelevant to that understanding.

Yes, I'm sure he is an expert in trends in the fields of comparative religion, sociology and psychology of religion, myth & literature, cognitive science and so on. As I said, his point about mythicism being a response to rising fundamentalism is cute, but a transparent attempt to place his cult in some sort of "reasonable" position in the middle. Actually, his position is not "reasonable," but a pre-supposition based on his own faith. In any case the mythicist position long predates the recent rise of fundy-ism in the States.

Speaking of Wright, does he accept Q? And shouldn't his superior knowledge enlighten your own position? Or is it that when you need him, you rely on his authority, and then dismiss it once he has served his purpose?

Michael
 
Old 05-22-2001, 01:01 PM   #40
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Mike, the basis of your opinion is simply that because incredible things are asserted about Jesus that the references to him are simple "fictions" or "myths." This is an absurd position to take.

And I'm still waiting for the Cambell statement that Jesus did not exist.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Umm...no. John has two fictions from Mark. Both together in the same section. Either John hit upon exactly the same fictions, with largely the same language, or Jesus really walked on water. Since the second assertion is absurd, the obvious inferences is that John knew of, and used either Mark or an identical tradition. This is what, the fifth time I've repeated this? Can you explain how John and Mark hit upon exactly the same fictions? </font>
First, the majority of New Testament scholars reject your opinion. For perhaps the most comprehensive treatment of John as containing an independent "signs source" and "passion narrative," see Robert Fortna's, The Gospel of Signs or his later update, "The Gospel of John and Its Predecessor."

Second, you utterly failed to respond to my point that even if you could demonstrate John's relationship to Mark, or a common independent tradition, as to two events, the vast majority of his gospel would still be independent of Mark. John has a different chronology, has differences in his Passion Narrative, and completely forgoes mentioning exorcisms, the Baptism by John, and the Eucharist.

Third, you are assuming that the two events are fictions. This is based solely on your assumption that such events cannot occur. Even so, such events could very well be manufactured, but preserved by independent traditions.

Fourth, if, as you suggest, Mark and John are relying on a tradition common to both of them, then Doherty's theory is in trouble. There is a clear, early attestation regarding a human Jesus which predates Mark and John. The only reasonable common point is the Jerusalem Church.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Q has healing stories, which are quite common in myths and of no importance either way. Does Q have a death- and-resurrection story? </font>
Miracles are also commonly circulated around nonmythical persons, such as Benny Hinn, for example. In fact, Benny Hinn is largely known for his alleged miracles. Many people believed them. And, he's a real guy!

Q also contains an exorcism, which were performed by real people in First Century Palestine. Father Malachi Martin performed dozens of exorcisms, but guess what, he's a real guy to!

In fact, the performance of such miracles and exorcism presupposes a human Jesus. Which is the point.

The point is not whether the Q miracle stories are, in fact, authentic. The point is whether Q presupposes and teaches a human Jesus. It clearly does. Thus, we have a source which predates all of the gospels which clearly teaches that Jesus was a human, not just a figment of Paul's imagination.

And, as a matter of fact, Q does presuppose and refer to Jesus' death on the cross. In fact, Q presumes familiarity with the Passion Narrative. Werner G. Kummel, Introduction to the New Testament, at 74.

We have Jesus' command to his disciples, "Take up your cross and follow me." Luke 14:27. He have Jesus' say, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to to gather your chidren together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings but
you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes
when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'" Luke 13:34-35. Herefers to his death in the parable of the mustard seed which speaks of being put into ground so that the tree (the kingdom of God) could grow from it. Luke 13:18-21.

Additionally, when the above statements are conjoined with the Son of Man sayings (about the Son of Man returning in power), Q presumes an eschatological figure who will be persecuted and rejected, but then return in power. In other words, it presumes the Passion Narrative. Accordingly, "[t]he view that Q reflects an early form of the Jesus
movement that did not care about the cross and resurrection is not sustainable. The eschatology of Q presumes Jesus' death and
resurrection." R. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside of the New Testament, at 174.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Walk on water? You're right, we have been over this before, and you didn't have any case. Mack confidently assigns John's
appearance in Q to mythologizing -- his position is one that I sketched out above, that John is there to make Jesus legit. He
concludes "...this implies that the authors created this story about John and Jesus in the light of their experiences in the 60s,
not with any interest in accurately describing circumstances appropriate to the 20s." In any case, John's appearance in Q, as
Mack makes clear, in no way invalidates the mythicist case. </font>
Mike. Do you really believe that I don't have "any case?" None? That is rather incredible given the number of New Testament scholars that also criticize Mack's kind of Q reconstruction, accept both of Josephus' statements as referring to Jesus, and believe in the historical Jesus.

Additionally, I'm unconcerned with Mack's confidence. I'd be more interested in his evidence. So far I have seen none offered.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Is 'L' widely accepted? is it even strongly defensible? Do we know when it was written? Who wrote it? Why? In any case, have we even discussed "L?" Can't recall. Is it a
historical source written by someone attempting to find out what really happened, and tell the facts as he or she knows them? No. It's still myth. So we have myth constructors referencing other myths. And you think this is "evidence" for anything? </font>
Your attitude is very revealing Mike. You have no idea about scholarship regarding L, but conclude that it must be myth so it is no evidence.

But, in fact, L is evidence that Jesus existed as a human being. You simply label it "myth" as if that means something or provides some explanatory power. It does not. It is your assertion. It boils down to, "it includes references to the miraculous so it cannot provide us with historical evidence."

The most recent exhaustive treatment of the L material is by Kim Paffenroth in his 1997, "The Story of Jesus according to L." Dr. Paffenroth analyzes the form and content of L and concludes that there is a coherent, unified source which was written by Jewish-Christians in Palestine sometime between 40-60 CE.

There is a concise overview of the scholarship on L. Kevin Giles' "L" Tradition in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Joel B. Green is the editor.

There are several german scholars I could provide you with, but as far as I know their works have not been translated into English yet and I doubt you are seriously interested in looking into the topic.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Or it is an interpolation. Not exactly a settled question. In any case, Josephus is writing late in the century. </font>
Actually, the second reference to Jesus is a rather settled question. Liberal, Atheist, Jewish, and Christian scholars accept it as genuine. And most take the first reference as an original reference to Jesus with some later embellishments added by later Christians. The fact that some desparate skeptics with their own website still resist these conclusions isn't a very persuasive counter-argument.

Yes, Josephus writes late in the first century. So what? He writes about many things commonly accepted by historians which occurred even before Jesus' time. Are you saying that historians should not accept sources who write 60 years after the events they describe? Is this a common historical method?

Moreover, Josephus was a resident of Palestine for many years, and even commanded Jewish soldiers in Galilee. There is no sign of Christian influence in his original statement, and indications that he was ignorant of basic Christian beliefs that would have accompanied the crucifixion story.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> My position is clear. Doherty argues that there is enough evidence to prove Jesus a myth-construction. You presuppose that Jesus is real. I argue that there is not enough evidence to permit me to chose between those two views, since all the evidence we have, includin Q and L, are mythology and not history. </font>
Again with the conclusory assertions with no support. You classify them as myth as if that means something, as if it has any explanatory power. It does not. A theory that explains everything explains nothing.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Myths, all, or references to myths. I'm supposed to take myths as evidence of anything? Paul never met Jesus. Whether or not he thinks of him as a real person is arguable, and certainly he knows little about him. </font>
Just because something is arguable doesn't mean it is legitimately in dispute. Again, however, your only response is that they are myths so they contain no history. The fact that Paul knows and interacts with Jesus' brother and chief disciple is powerful evidence that Jesus existed. Of course, the Jerusalem Church could have staged the whole thing and lied outrageously to Paul, but that is not Doherty's theory, nor yours as far as I can tell, nor any scholar I have ever read.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> So those writers concieved of Jesus as a real human? And? Many writers of Robin Hood and William Tell believed those people
existed. Consider this passage from a site on Robin Hood sources:

&lt;snip&gt;

Would you take any of this as actual evidence for a real Robin Hood? What would qualify as evidence for the existence of mythical people? </font>
You haven't given me enough information to make such a determination. It would depend on who wrote them, when, what potential sources they had, what actual sources they had, their predispositions, their audience, and other factors. The fact that you think this simplistic point proves anything only underscores your historical naivity.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Remember when they thought Pilate was an invention? And then somebody discovered an inscription......I remind you that you laugh at the skeptic "obsession" with inscriptions, until you actually need one to prove the existence of someone. </font>
The inscription was not needed to prove that Pilate existed, the Gospels had already proved that. The inscription only provided yet another hammer blow to unreasonable skepticism's obsession that the gospels were/are nothing but "myth."

And you really seem to have missed my point about inscriptions. I don't doubt that they have historical value, I just think that the skeptic is being simple minded when he says, "Oh, it was written on a rock instead of on paper, so it must be true." Or, "Oh, it is on a coin, so it must be true. And that means eagle's carry arrows when they fly."

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> What for? Re-read his point about history and faith. Can you honestly say that he is a scrupulous scholar, not letting his faith interfere in his scholarship? </font>
Sure he is a scrupulous scholar. He submits his reasoning and rationale for all to criticize and respond to. He listens to the criticism and responds to it. He doesn't label it as "true" (or, in the parrallel Star Trek universe, "myth") and pretend that the issue is settled.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Yes, I'm sure he is an expert in trends in the fields of comparative religion, sociology and psychology of religion, myth & literature, cognitive science and so on. As I said, his point about mythicism being a response to rising fundamentalism is cute, but a transparent attempt to place his cult in some sort of "reasonable" position in the middle. Actually, his position is not "reasonable," but a pre-supposition based on his own faith. In any case the mythicist position long predates the recent rise of fundy-ism in the States. </font>
He is an expert in the field of the historical study of Jesus. To that extent, he is much more familiar with the state of European scholarship than you are.

The Anglican Church is a cult? Oh yea, I forgot, all Christians churches are cults. Except maybe those Unitarians.

As for the preexistence of the mythicist position. N.T. Wright was talking about the current state of New Testament scholarship, not what some passed writers have published. He did not say that the mythicist position was a new invention. He said that American scholarship's excessive liberalism was a response to fundamentalism.

The fact that previous writers have suggested that Jesus was a myth is irrelevant to this point. The point is the state of modern scholarship . And, to be fair, his criticism was largely targetted at excessively liberal scholarship, rather than the Jesus did not exist camp.

But believing that Jesus-is-myth theories are unfounded would hardly have to be a presupposition of Wright's faith. Other scholars, atheists in fact, are equally dismissive of the mythicist opinion:

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> But above all, if we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we would apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned.... To sum up, modern cirtical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars.' In recent years 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus' - or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary. </font>
Michael Grant, Jesus, at 199-200.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Speaking of Wright, does he accept Q? And shouldn't his superior knowledge enlighten your own position? Or is it that when you need him, you rely on his authority, and then dismiss it once he has served his purpose? </font>
You are confused. As I explained above, accepting the theory of Q in no way means accepting Mack's unsupported speculation as to multi-Q stages. As I understand Wright's position, he accepts the existence of Q as a useful hypothesis explaining the common sources of Matthew and Mark. So do I. He believes, however, that reconstruction attempts such as Mack's are flawed.

And what is the skeptic obsession with references to leading New Testament scholars? Somehow because I believe N.T. Wright about his characterization of New Testament studies in Europe I have to agree with him on everything or my reliance on him for the former position is somehow disengenuous? That is yet another absurdity.

I agree with Wright on a lot of things. Things he's convinced me he is right about. I don't agree with him on others. And many I haven't decided yet.

Jesus existed. It's not that threatening of a concept. Unless, of course, it is.

[This message has been edited by Layman (edited May 22, 2001).]
 
 

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