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Old 12-17-2001, 12:25 AM   #1
uncle_onion
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Post Any ideas?

I spent the weekend with several Xtians. Eventually the topic came round to why I am having trouble accepting that Jesus is the messiah. I was given an article to read and I intend giving a full knockout response to it.Has anyone any ideas or URL addresses taht would be helpful to me please?

Here is the article:


Yet another series on TV has attacked the truth of the Gospel accounts of the life of the Lord Jesus. This time it claiyned that Jesus was just an ordinary prophet whom the Church a hundred years later made into a Christ whom they depicted as the divine Son of God, namely the Christ or Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.
It is interesting that one of the promoters of this programme was a Jewish rabbi who. of course, does not believe that Jesus was the Christ. But if it is admitted that the Old Testament does foretell such a person, whv is it not admitted that Jesus fulfilled all those scriptures? -
Is such criticism to be trusted? After giving an initial false report on the Dead Sea Scrolls before all the. contents had been properly translated and assessed, one critic wrote a repentan, correction 15 ye@irs later saying that he jumped to conclusions on pre-existent assumptions and gave a tabloid journalist a sensational type of report.

JESUS - MOST HISTORICAL OF ALL

1 continue to get letters or see in newspapers the assertion that the picture of Jesus in the New Testament is not a factual one. This is often backed up with the assertion that there is little in history about the man Jesus Christ.


Such statements are completely without foundation. They deceive only the people who have no knowledge of the facts.
The New Testament story of the Lord Jesus has three times more evidence of its accuracy than anything about any of the Roman emperors; and many times more written copies of the original accounts. Compared with any event of history, the New Testament has abundantly more reliable documents.
Professor F. F. Bruce of Manchester University says that Caesar's Gallic Wan with which many, students are familiar, has only nine old copies and the oldest of those is 900 years after Caesar's day, yet nobody questions those. In contrast, there are 5000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament in whole or in part. The oldest full copies go back to about AD 330 and part of St John's Gospel which has survived, actually goes back to within a few years of St John's original writing.. we also have fragments of St Mark's Gospel and St James's letter and 1 Timothy which ai-e around AD 68.
Of the works of the Roman historian, Livy, of Christ's time, only 20 old copies survive. The well-known Roman historian, Tacitus, has only four surviving old copies of his Annals. Contrast both of these with the 5000 old manuscripts of the New Testament.
Concerning the famous history by Herodotus, the oldest copy of the original is 1,300 years after it was written. Professor Bruce conunents,

'Yet no classical scho'lar would listen to an argument that the authenticitv of Herodotus was in doubt.'
He then'reviews the wealth of evidence we have for the New Testament and shows what a contrast it is to secular history.
A letter in the press from a sceptic questions whether Jesus Christ really figured in history. The answer is that He did. As many as eight non-
Christian historians of the first century refer to Jesus Christ. They were Tacitus. Suctonius. Serapion. Phlegon, Lucian and Josephus, as well as references by Pliny and Thallus. Also. there are nine antagonist
references to Jesus in the Jewish Talmud writings. In addition, the New Testament itself is more than sufficient evidence. Luke says that he wrote down his account from eyewitnesses carefully and accurately. That accuracy was confirmed by Sir Williarn R~ay. He started by being a sceptic. but he researched all the historical references and dates and incidents which Luke included in his account and found them completely accurate to the last detail.
Professor F.F. Bruce writes, 'Attestation of another kind is provided by allusions to and quotations from the New Testament books in other early writings.' The authors known as the Apostolic Fathers wrote chiefly between AD90 and 160, yet in
their works we find evidence for their acquaintance with most books of the New Testament.

This is an extract from the book 'Evidence for truth:
Archaeology'
by Dr E.K. Victor Pewee,
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Old 12-17-2001, 02:08 AM   #2
Phscs
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The number of copies is completely irrelevant.

It is the number of independent sources which counts, not the number of copies of a single source.

Ceasars war in Gaul is mentioned and described by many other independent sources, (e.g., Cicero). Jesus' only source is three suspect gospels, Mark, Mattew and Luke.

And it makes it very suspect that Mattew and Luke disagrees on several points (e.g., birth of Jesus). In addition, the "witnesses" Mattew and Luke depend strongly on Mark - making them also dependent sources.

regards

-phscs
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Old 12-17-2001, 04:03 AM   #3
b@rtleby
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uncle onion,
i'm always running into these arguments, which correct me if i'm wrong are similar to the one's lee strobel comes up with in his case for christ (a sceptical review of which exists on the internet if you're interested.
the bit that always bugs me is "They were Tacitus. Suctonius. Serapion. Phlegon, Lucian and Josephus, as well as references by Pliny and Thallus." when it is clear from reading these sources that none of them either met christ, was alive at the same time as christ or believed his claims to be the messiah. all they testify is that there were early christians which i feel is generally undisputed and that those christians held beliefs that disagreed with their own - hardly convincing evidence that the founder of the cult was actually the messiah.
the most interesting account is by josephus (the jewish historian) who was born in ad 37 or 38 in jerusalem. in the controversial passage that some have claimed is a later fake he writes how some thought jesus messiah or words to that effect (in fairness it's a long time since i've actually bothered having this conversation).
an amusing joke to play is after making the christian argue that josephus is clearly the most credible of the external witnesses both in terms of location and age, ask which josephus they're talking about the jewish one or the early christian one. the gag is that there is no early christian one because josephus clearly did not consider himself a christian and therefore their most credible witness didn't think jesus was the messiah either...

further the herodotus thing is a strawman. herodotus made a lot of wild claims about the things he had 'seen' which no historian would take seriously but that doesn't mean that one bad apple should etc. it's the same way with jesus - i have no problem accepting a historical character called jesus who behaved roughly the way the gospels portrayed but at the same time i am under no obligation to therefore believe he was the son of god.

sorry, got to do soem work now
hope this helps
bb
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Old 12-17-2001, 04:17 AM   #4
Vorkosigan
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Hi Uncle. It's much easier to talk to you here than at JM, since I can include editorial comments.

The New Testament story of the Lord Jesus has three times more evidence of its accuracy than anything about any of the Roman emperors; and many times more written copies of the original accounts. Compared with any event of history, the New Testament has abundantly more reliable documents.

This is, of course, horse manure....

Professor F. F. Bruce of Manchester University

A well-known conservative scholar...

says that Caesar's Gallic Wan with which many, students are familiar, has only nine old copies and the oldest of those is 900 years after Caesar's day, yet nobody questions those.

There is other independent evidence, including biographies of Caesar, attestations from other cultures, inscriptions, etc. Also, unlike Jesus, nobody has any incentive to invent Caesar stories, except Caesar himself, and perhaps his relatives, and his accounts have been worked over by scholars in search of contradictions, omissions, etc. In other words, the situation is exactly the opposite of what Bruce claims. Historians are just as quick to suspect lying and cheating in any document. IT's fun proving an ancient writer lied, and then deducing the real story.

In contrast, there are 5000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament in whole or in part.

Of these, only a handful, less than 150, go back before the 4th century. The vast, vast majority are from the middle ages. here's a detailed discussion

<a href="http://www.bowness.demon.co.uk/reli1.htm" target="_blank">http://www.bowness.demon.co.uk/reli1.htm</a>

The oldest full copies go back to about AD 330

In four different versions, all of which are different from one another.

...and part of St John's Gospel which has survived, actually goes back to within a few years of St John's original writing.

It is a fragment consisting of 70 words, no complete sentences, is different from the John we have, and we only reasonably assume it is from John.

we also have fragments of St Mark's Gospel and St James's letter and 1 Timothy which ai-e around AD 68.

The oldest manuscript of with any Mark is much later than this, third century. Mark was almost lost, it was so neglected. I have no idea what this is in reference to. 1 Timothy is a later forgery of a Pauline letter. See Peter Kirby's site for the dates.

Of the works of the Roman historian, Livy, of Christ's time, only 20 old copies survive. The well-known Roman historian, Tacitus, has only four surviving old copies of his Annals. Contrast both of these with the 5000 old manuscripts of the New Testament.

All of them medieval, and all different from each other.

Concerning the famous history by Herodotus, the oldest copy of the original is 1,300 years after it was written. Professor Bruce conunents,

'Yet no classical scho'lar would listen to an argument that the authenticitv of Herodotus was in doubt.'


It is not the authenticity of the manuscripts that is in doubt, but the veracity of the story they tell. Where Herodotus, Tacitus or Livy seem to be telling fibs, historians are quick to point out that they suspect a fib. Likewise, where Christians are suspected of lying, faking, altering or omitting, historians are quick to identify those areas. Which in this case, happens to be most of the New Testament.

Actually, there is a strong double standard here that is obvious when you become familiar with the historical standards used in other cultures. For example, Chinese scholars do not sit around and debate over whether the ancient Taoists actually made gold, or whether the Prince of Huai-nan actually ascended into heaven with his retinue and livestock. They know it is bullshit. In the west we have to kow-tow to the fact that most people are Christians, and so people actually discuss holding open the possibility of biblical miracles in a serious manner. In any other culture, nobody would take the NT seriously as history; it would be seen for what it is: legends, myths, inventions.

Michael
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Old 12-17-2001, 05:58 AM   #5
Kosh
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Well, everybody already addressed the points
that immediately came to mind regarding the
article. The "5000" copies argument is hilarious.
Would you call that "Argumentum ad Copious"?

I think a good place to read a thorough refutaton
of this type of argument is here:

<a href="http://www.infidels.org/cgi-bin/offsite?http://www.magi.com/~oblio/jesus/StrobelIntro.htm" target="_blank">http://www.infidels.org/cgi-bin/offsite?http://www.magi.com/~oblio/jesus/StrobelIntro.htm</a>

It's Doherty's court-trial-like disection of
the 'case for christ' apologetics.

Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:
<strong>
In four different versions, all of which are different from one another.
</strong>
Michael - do you have any links to sites that
do a side-by-side comparison of these four versions?

Thanks.
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Old 12-17-2001, 08:58 AM   #6
Benjamin Franklin
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Hi Uncle_Onion, I enclose part of the essay from a reurrection debate by G.A.Wells which addresses the claim of Luke as careful historian

"In the discussion Miethe claimed that the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles (written, as is universally agreed, by the same author) have both been found to be 'reliable historical accounts . . . about the methods of travel, about the time it took to travel from place to place', so that it is quite unreasonable 'immediately to rule them out when they talk about something "spiritual" ' (p. 110). So if I write a story in which a man travels from one place to another in a plausible number of hours and by a feasible method of transport, I am to be believed if I say that persons who, on the way, touched his handkerchief were cured of disease (Acts 19:11-12). Miethe also claimed that, according to 'the testimony of scholars throughout the . . . world', Luke-Acts offers reliable information about 'what was happening politically'. In actual fact their author is in such complete confusion over the chronology of events that occurred in Palestine in the first half of the first century as to suggest that he was not close in time or place to them.

Let me give examples. In Acts 5, where the scene is Jerusalem about the mid-30s, Gamaliel reviews bygone Messianic risings and mentions that of Theudas. But we know from the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (who lived in this first century AD) that Theudas' Messianic promises were made when Fadus was procurator (AD 44-46) and so could not have been known to Gamaliel at the time when he is represented as speaking. So conservative a Christian as F. F. Bruce--who is appealed to at every turn by Habermas and his supporters--does not think that Josephus had got the date wrong, but supposes instead that there was another Theudas, who did much the same as the one in Josephus, but a few decades earlier.[2] Gamaliel continues by saying that after Theudas there was a Messianic rising under Judas the Galilean at the time of the census. Luke knows of only one census, that under Quirinius (Luke 2:1-2) of AD 6--forty years before Theudas. In his gospel Luke compounds the muddle by dating this census of AD 6 under Herod, who died in 4 BC. The Catholic scholar Fitzmyer concedes that such serious errors in the dating of Palestinian events of the first half of the first century show that 'on many of these issues Luke's information was not the best'.[3] Habermas, however, unhesitatingly accepts (p. 109) the verdict of writers like Sir William Ramsay, the archaeologist who began his book St Paul the Traveller (1895) by declaring Luke to be as reliable a historian as Thucydides.
"
<a href="http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/g_a_wells/resurrection.html" target="_blank">http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/g_a_wells/resurrection.html</a>

Tjun Kiat
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Old 12-17-2001, 09:00 AM   #7
Teutonic
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Jesus, according to the Jews then and now, did not fulfil the role of the expected Messiah. Think of this - if an alien came to the planet and was given ONLY a copy of the Old Testament in the alien's language so he could read it, do you think the alien would know about Jesus, the Trinity, the doctrine of Original Sin, about the Holy Spirit, etc.?? Think carefully now.... most of the 'prooftexts' in the OT are found after one reads the NT...
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Old 12-17-2001, 09:24 AM   #8
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There are two issues at stake here. Firstly whether or not there was an historical Jesus and secondly if the gospel accounts of his life are literally true.

Based on my own study I would say yes to the first question and no to the second. There is sufficient evidence to indicate that Xianity had a founder and that that founder was an itinerant peasant preacher named Yeshu'a ben Yosef. I see nothing controversial about this unless one is hell bent on proving that Xianity does not have such a founder in order to shore up some atheological argument. The references to early historians such as Josephus are useful, but only for establishing that there was a Jesus and nothing more. It is possible that Jesus is a complete fabrication, but this is not the most parsimonious hypothesis in my opinion given the fairly substantial attestation we have. It is important to remember that the gospels, pauline and pseudo-pauline epistles and catholic epistles, sprung up mostly independently, with the exception of some significant borrowing in the synoptics. They were not part of any canonical anthology officially until aprroximately the 4th century and even then there were disputes as to which documents were to be considered canonical (the dispute over the the Apocalypse of John lasted centuries and was a major difference between the western and eastern branches of the church). Given that it seems reasonable to accept the different NT accounts as multiple attestation.

That being said, none of that has anything to do with Jesus being the messiah of Hebrew mythology or not. It seems pretty clear that Jesus was not the messiah of Hebrew mythology. He doesn't fit the job description except through some very elaborate theological hoop jumping on the part of Paul and the evangelists. Nowhere in the OT does it say the messiah will be rejected and come again in power. This whole doctrine is largely a conflation of the traditional view of the messiah (i.e. a human Jewish military leader and king, anointed by god to return the temple and the Jewish homeland to its previous hegemony and establish an eternal paradise on earth under Jewish rule) and the "suffering servant" of Isaiah. The two do not seem, upon careful analysis, to be related in my opinion. It seems pretty clear that the suffering servant in Isaiah refers to the nation of israel itself and not an individual person least of all the messiah. Plus sprinkled into the messanic claims of Jesus' followers (I am uncertain whether Jesus considered himself the messiah) are other weird bits like the prophecy in Isaiah of a child born of a young woman which has absolutely zero to do with Jesus some 700 years later.

In my opinion the best evidence of the human origin of the NT and the humaness of Jesus are the gospels themselves. A careful study of the synoptic problem and text-critical analysis of the gospels shows all the earmarks of human authorship and development. I'm not really prepared to go into a full blown argument in support of that premise here unless someone wants me to.

In the end though, it is up to the claimant, i.e. the beleiver in Christ, to provide an argument in support of his claim. Up to now all such arguments I have seen have fallen short. But then I'm just a hard hearted heathen.
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