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Old 06-06-2001, 06:09 PM   #21
Richard Carrier
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Well, maybe we will have our debate here instead after all, Meta. To be honest, I don’t see in your arguments enough depth of research or familiarity with the culture and materials, or experience with historical method, which really only comes from two things: years of formal training in method, and long experience dealing with difficult questions that you don’t have any predisposition to believe either way. That itself doesn’t make you wrong, but you should take note of how your need to prove your case affects your judgement, and how this habit is only broken by honing historiographical skill on matters outside your religious convictions--then, when you return to matters you care about, new and proper habits affect your thinking.

Meta => The problem here is that even if you are applying historical method properly and even if there is greater weight to be given to the sack of the library than to the empty tomb, that still in no way means that the evidence for the empty tomb is not strong enough to justify belief.

I agree that the form of the argument alone is independent of the absolute weights assigned, since I do talk about relative weights. But what I am saying is, from my point of view, when the absolute weights are measured, the scale for the empty tomb tips just barely into disbelief, and the scale for the Arab sack of the library tips a bit farther into belief. Don’t mistake me: I do not assert “there was no empty tomb,” for I am not that confident; rather, I say only that I have doubts and do not have enough reliable evidence to believe it. Perhaps an analogy will help: I don’t say “there was no haunted house at Athens” as one of Lucian’s friends describes in the Philopseudes, as I can see past the grandiose ghost story knowing that there are natural explanations for haunted houses and there is no particular reason why there absolutely couldn’t be such a house at Athens at the time, but given the context, the relayer of the tale, and what I know about the motif of the haunted house in antiquity, there is sufficient reason not to have enough confidence in it: I doubt it, and do not have enough reliable evidence to believe it.

Meta => There are good reasons why Paul never mentioned the empty tomb. That in no way indicates that no such tomb existed.

That alone does not, you are correct. But it does add a factor of suspicion and thus adds weight to a cumulative case (see my replies to others above).

First, he wasn’t telling them the Gospel story for the first time.

Yet he had many occasions to repeat in detail what his Gospel was and how he came to believe it, especially important things, and things people had the hardest time believing.

They knew about the tomb, there’s no reason why he would go into it.

But they should have known also what Jesus’ resurrected body was like, and what the central Gospel message was (that all will be resurrected), yet are so doubtful of even these things that he has to go to great length explaining it, even calling them fools for not believing it. And the empty tomb, even an indirect allusion to it, would be relevant to any discourse on what happens to the resurrected. There are other reasons he would have to hit upon it at least once (see replies to others above). For example, he has no particular reason to mention that they baptised people on behalf of the dead, yet he mentions it in passing all the same (incidentally, a practice forgotten even a generation after him and now not clearly understood). In contrast, something so powerful and impressive as the empty tomb would be a hard thing to avoid mentioning.

Secondly, the story of the 500 may well assume the tomb.

This is so hopelessly speculative you should know better than to even propose it. I could as well say that the story of the appearance to “the twelve” assumes Thomas sticking his fingers in the wounds. Legerdemain.

It’s merely arbitrary as to why the tomb must be mentioned in an epistle when no one ever denied it and no alternate version of the story ever existed.

You can make neither claim: we know neither fact. There could well have been all manner of unbelievers (Matthew point blank says there were, even some people who saw the risen Jesus didn’t believe). You are forgetting we only have the stories told by the victors: we have nothing from Paul’s opponents, for example, yet he names at least one of them and mentions several others. And that is among the believers. It is unreasonable to suppose the unbelievers wrote anything, or if they did that it would survive. There is nothing arbitrary about expecting at least an allusion to an empty tomb somewhere in the thousands and thousands of words Paul and the other epistolators wrote. That there is none does not secure the case, but you cannot deny it adds a pall of suspicion, and strengthens a cumulative case.

Meat => That argument was based over the head on Easter when I posted my argument against Louder, “The Louder they Protest.” Koster and Brown as well Crossan and several others demonstrate a Pre-Marcan passion narrative which dates to AD 50. It ends with the empty tomb, including it. Mark did not invent it.

Another example of why I find Crossan to be hasty in his unsourced conclusions. This is again pure speculation. There is no evidence of any kind to date any pre-Markan passion story even if there was one. You cannot even tell me what exactly is the pre-Markan part of the passion narrative. It is pure guesswork. Even the Q hypothesis has scraps of contextual and linguistic evidence to stand on, and I am not a firm believer in that, so I can’t put any more weight in this pre-Markan narrative, and certainly must put less. In history, you can’t invent a source like this. You are saying “Aha! We have a Pauline-period document that attests to the empty tomb!” when you have no document at all, not even a reconstruction based on objective textual analysis, and no way at all to know what was really in it, empty tomb or not. And people call my methods shoddy?

Meta => How many overall Palestinian historians have survived the first century? Jesephus does allude to the claim of the resurrection. That implies the empty tomb well enough.

Unfortunately, in an obviously tampered text. I myself find the passage to be so unlike anything Josephus writes elsewhere, so unconnected to his political and narrative agenda, and so suspicious for having first appeared in Eusebius, a very untrustworthy man--no earlier Christian writer cites it, even though Josephus was well known and often cited by other Christians--and so on, that it is really unbelievable that such a passage existed in any form in the original. But even granting it, Josephus wrote after the Gospels were written, and as historians know very well, footnotes about amazing things in historians are the least reliable things in their works, because they were least investigated by the authors who repeat them. In short, Josephus on Jesus, even if in any part genuine, is no more worthy of belief than Tacitus on the miraculous salvation of Thrasyllus (or the existence of the Phoenix). Finally, Josephus never mentions an empty tomb, even in the most embellished version of that passage that exists. A resurrection does not imply an empty tomb when that resurrection is described as “not of the flesh” and “not of the dust of Adam” but of the spirit only, as Paul says, and Josephus may well be reporting Pauline Christianity, if he was not suckered in by stories of the physicalist sect instead.

Meta =>Red Herring. It hardly matters who they were.

Certainly it does. An eye witness is stronger than a second-hand witness, who in turn is stronger than a third-hand witness, etc. But who are these guys? You don’t know. In a court of law, their testimony would have no merit whatever--historians are being charitable even to consider them. Moreover, you cannot assess anyone’s honesty or purpose or merit unless you know who they are, have other writings of theirs to check, know when they wrote, for whom, and from whom they got their information. For all we know, Mark’s entire Gospel, like John’s Revelation, came to him entirely in a dream on a road to Damascus. Indeed, Paul acts in Galatians as if that is the only true way it can come to someone. Thus, you cannot pretend that this point adds no weight to the scale on the doubt side, just as you cannot deny the other three facts also add a little weight, so that altogether that scale is starting to tip pretty good. Right? Be honest now.

The mere fact of the claim is enough to suspect that there was such a tomb.

Yes: the existence of a report gives the theory that there was an empty tomb prima facie merit. But prima facie merit is only enough to get a theory in the door. It doesn’t get it any farther. The mere fact of the claim that Judas’ head swelled to the size of a wagon trail, suppressing our suspicions of the incredible for a moment, gives it prima facie merit. But does it stand secunda facie? Hardly. Or take the claim that there was an entire legion of Christians in the army of Marcus Aurelius. Sure, the fact of the claim gives the theory prima facie merit, but it falls very quickly when you start looking at the context and evidence (and this is one claim that is almost as surely false as a historical claim can be).

Since to make the claim itself invites counter charges that no one remembers a tomb, no one ever saw it.

But few did--so why didn’t the Corinthians say this? Why didn’t Paul have to reassure doubters of the empty tomb there, men who clearly were eager to doubt even more fundamental things? So that there was no claim, and hence no empty tomb, explains this evidence even better, or you must admit at least just as well.

Moreover, the communities are authors and the witnesses, why must they bare the names in order to be taken seriously as witnesses? The fact of their names is unimportant. What matters is the tradition itself goes back to just 18 years after the events and was claimed in the same city where it happened. Had the mass populace had no recollection of the event the faith would have died at that point.

This is a non sequitur. None of this requires an empty tomb.

Meta =>Sure its Hagiography, so what?

So it immediately gets another acorn of doubt on the scale. Hagiography is a genre known to universally contain false stories of marvels, usually of symbolic or propagandistic function, and so the moment you see a marvel in a hagiography, the odds are that it is bogus. Again, not enough to trump the story by itself. But you cannot deny it adds that much more doubt. That scale sure is tipping even more now, yes?

That can be based upon historical fact, there’s no reason to assume it is false just for that reason. I’m sure there are embellishments. None of that is a reason to reject the claim.

It increases the probability that the emptiness of the tomb is, as you say, “an embellishment.” Surely you agree: a genre that embellishes more than any other (and that is charitable: hagiographies go way beyond mere embellishing) adds greater weight to the possibility that any dramatic detail in it is an embellishment. Correct?

There are tons of examples in history of folklore and embellishment in the midst of core facts which historians assume.

Well, maybe it would help if we studied one. Identify one of these “tons” of examples and lets see what we can reconstruct from it as trustworthy--and why. Then maybe you will understand where we historians are coming from.

Every ancient tomb of every king form Egypt to India gives a mythological account of his battles and his triumphs and no historian decides that the king didn’t exist for that reason.

Now this is a good example of a red herring. We are not saying Jesus didn’t exist here. We are talking about one of those mythological accounts of his triumphs, aren’t we?

Meta =>Why should Mark mention all the laws?

That is not my point. The entire plot seems to be written by someone completely ignorant of those laws. It is like the movie Gladiator: we historians know that the very instant that Maximus announced in the arena, before 80,000 law-abiding citizens, that he was not only a citizen, but an honestior, who by law was guaranteed immunity from all forms of torture, especially the games, the emperor would have had to release him at once or be universally loathed as an outlaw (and the character, as portrayed, could not have bore that). So we can be absolutely certain no such event ever happened, because the plot is impossible. Now, what I am saying with regard to Mark is not this strong (if it were, I could settle the case on this point alone), but it adds weight to the scale for the same reason: the women would not have acted as they did.

Moreover, it is a fallacious assumption that Jesus could not be in the tomb, since he was not tried on criminal charges, but for sedition.

Even though he would certainly have been condemned for blasphemy (the Gospels only say the Jews couldn’t execute the punishment, not that they didn’t find him guilty), it doesn’t matter. Any executed man, for any reason whatever (even if executed by a Gentile government: this is a case specifically mentioned), is dishonored by that very fact itself, and only gains his honor back when the flesh atones for the sin by rotting away. This required that the body sit in the Graveyard of the Hanged until the bones were free of flesh, at which time they could be gathered and placed in a family tomb (there were many other laws about crucifixion: the family of the crucified had to move out of town or, in large cities, move to the other side of town, until the bones attoned; etc.).

As a seditionist against Rome he would have had the respect of the peple and qualify for his place in an honored tomb.

I think you need to brush up on Jewish Law. First, the law was based on the fact that all bodies, even of the vilest of condemned criminals, were to be honored with burial (and a quick one at that: no one could hang over night). Second, crucifixion itself made the body anathema, it incurred sin from merely undergoing the ordeal, and it was like an uncleanness, which had to be attoned, no matter how noble the man may have been. Third, even if “the people” actually respected Jesus so much as to ensure he got an honored tomb (the choice of Barabbas, and the entire context of his supporters fleeing the city, suggest otherwise), the law did not truck with exceptions here: that honored tomb could only come to him after the flesh left the bones.

You are also assuming that Roman law applied to Jews.

I’m talking about Jewish Law, not Roman Law. External evidence, from Philo and Josephus among others, shows that the Jews were permitted most if not all their laws, even under Pilate (who, despite being the heartless bastard he was, actually acceded to Jewish demands that he remove the legionary standards from the city for violating the commandment against idols). I am happy now that you must agree with me, as you say “The Romans allowed Jewish custom to prevail in such matters.” Exactly. And that is what I am talking about.

Meta=>They would hardly think that if they knew there was no one to move the body, and if the above reasons were not the case.

I don’t understand what this is objecting to. The behavior of the women is strange, and therefore reads like a dramatic tale, not an actual event. That is my point. Add another acorn to the scale. Watch it tip further.

Meta =>Well, I’m not sure what to think about your approach to merely disputing the strength of the evidence without trying to deny it. On the face of it that seems like a fine strategy but it really just means that you are trying to shift the burden of proof.

No, it is explaining my degree of certainty. History is based on variations in degrees of certainty, not on black or white assertions. Most historical claims are only believable or unbelievable to one degree or another, and if you omit statements about level of belief you are oversimplifying the case. Since I do not think the empty tomb is believable, but at the same time do not think it definitely false, this means my degree of unbelief is relatively low, but it is unbelief nonetheless. There is nothing here about trying to shift the burden of proof: I am fully taking on that burden by demonstrating in detail why I hold the particular belief I do.

But the burden of proof is yours if the apologist does not try to insist that the empty tomb is certain proof of the resurrection.

I’m not sure what you now mean by “proof” -- proof of what? You see, I think you are confusing yourself here. When neither side can meet the burden of proof, then nothing is justified: neither firm belief nor firm unbelief, which by default means a weak unbelief is the only justified view (because unresolvable uncertainty is incompatible with belief). But I am more than meeting some burden of proof against belief in an empty tomb: surely you will grant that I have added several acorns to the scale, against which is weighed very little (just the story itself, really). Though I may not be meeting the burden required for a resolute disbelief, the acorns being small and only weighing a lot together, I have tipped that scale enough that one cannot say for certain that there was an empty tomb. Don’t you agree?

In that sense it just qualifies as a ground for faith. You have done nothing to shake that and I think to even suggest that you have might actually contradict your position about who does have the burden of proof.

If you think faith is something different than belief, you will have to explain how adding faith to the scale affects how it tips: what about “faith” makes a story more true or more believable? Beats me. If they are the same, then I cannot justify faith in the empty tomb: too many acorns are arrayed against it, it has tipped just too far to win that laurel.

There is some decent reason to think we know the tomb today. There is certainly reason to believe that the tomb was marked since the first century. So if they had a tomb in the first century that is probably the case that they had an empty tomb from the beginning. That’s not proof, but it does increase the probability.

First, it is universally agreed that the present venerated tomb is in the wrong place (the site “found” by Helen was actually moved by crusaders almost a thousand years later). Second, its emptiness even in Helen’s day (4th century) is moot: (1) If it were Joseph’s tomb, it had to be empty after the end of the Sabbath, by Jewish Law; (2) If it were his niche in the Graveyard of the Hanged, Jewish laws of reburial require the bones to be reburied elsewhere in an ossuary after the flesh is gone (this is so whether condemned or not), and bodies could not be lain next to bones, so bones always had to be moved. Thus, by law, Jesus could not be in the tomb he rotted in (unless elsewhere in that tomb--i.e. a large tomb had special niches for ossuaries--but since Jesus would have been in the Graveyard of the Hanged, it is unlikely he would be left there once he was elligible for an honorable reburial). So by then who would know where the body was even if there was one? (3) After the Jewish War, Jerusalem remained in ruins for many years (so much for marks), the Jerusalem church was completely destroyed (there is no longer any such church for centuries in any sources), and when Hadrian put down the Bar Kochba revolt in the 130’s, he banned all Jews from ever entering the city again--and recolonized it with veteran legionaires. It is unlikely Christians, as a Jewish sect (and certainly to some extent an illegal one), were allowed in the city again, which was completely rebuilt as a pagan religious center. This did not change until Constantine’s conversion, and once he reopened Jerusalem, for publicity he sent his mother, Helen, who conveniently advertised the new era (4th century now, two hundreds years having passed) by “finding” the true cross (indeed, all three crosses, lying next to each other) and the sepulchre--which had partly been converted to a temple to Venus, partly buried altogether. How did she know that was “the” tomb? Well, a miracle of course. No other explanation is given. I think you can see there is no reason, much less a “decent” one, to think we know the tomb today, and even if we did, this would mean nothing since by law the body couldn’t be there anyway.



[This message has been edited by Richard Carrier (edited June 06, 2001).]
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Old 06-06-2001, 07:25 PM   #22
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Brian,

See my posts above for a clearer picture of what I am arguing, and why the case is not at all comparable to the Muslim sack (for which there are no acorns on the doubt side, or if any, they are much fewer and smaller).

You also need to read my essay on Why I Don't Buy the Resurrection Story, lecture version, as that explains how Christianity likely began and there is no need of an empty tomb there. Indeed, as visions of a risen Christ are all that is needed, no empty tomb was required--we see that was all needed for Paul to convert, and as his is the earliest record of a conversion, and he speaks as though only such a conversion had authority, it is prima facie reasonable to conclude that the others may have converted this way, too.

There are also trivial things wrong with your reasoning:

(1) if I doubted the origin of Christianity in c. 30 AD, I could still believe in an empty tomb, so again the Arab analogy fails: I could not believe the library still existed and also that the Arabs destroyed it. On the one hand, whereas an Arab sack entails destruction, an empty tomb does not entail origin; on the other hand, whereas the best sources do not attribute the empty tomb as even remotely necessary to belief (if it were so powerful a proof as you claim, Paul or (Ps.-)Peter could not fail to bring it up), but instead assert visions, revelations, as the highest authority, providing a ready origin, we have no ready explanation for the vanishing of the library at conveniently the very time the Arabs took the city.

(2) I do not need to show there was another account of the haunted house of Athens to disbelieve in it, or another account of the salvation of Thrasyllus to disbelieve in that. You are not even thinking like a historian: you expect the evidence to be nice and neat, for any information you want to be available. Historians are never so lucky. In contrast, your whole reasoning fails: if the empty tomb was unimportant until Mark, why would there be any other story? You see, you have to assume your theory is true even before you can make this objection, an objection that in fact has little bearing. I agree if we had an alternate account (assuming it was itself credible) then the case against the empty tomb would be even stronger still--perhaps sufficient to justify asserting it false (this would depend on the independent weight of that other account). But one does not need a smoking gun like that, and in most cases there could never be one: how could there be "another" account of the salvation of Thrasyllus when it never even happened in the first place? Likewise, if the empty tomb was moot, there would be no stories at all, and that is just what we find in the pre-Gospel evidence.

(3) You seem hopelessly confused in attempting to analogize the Philopon conjecture with the authors conjectures. The Philopon conjecture is a rebuttal argument that I note is invalid, therefore it carries no weight. How you think that same reasoning supports the attributions of the Gospels to the named authors is beyond me. There are more examples of this inexplicable and strange reasoning.

(4) I have never here denied the burial account. Why you waste hundreds of words quoting scholars asserting it is beyond me.

As to the dates of the Gospels, it is wishful thinking alone that places them in Pauline times, for no epistolator ever mentions or quotes any of them or any parts of them or even acknowledges that texts of any sort existed. This makes it excruciatingly difficult to pretend those texts were arround, even in oral form, and yet never drawn from to illustrate or support any argument, never even mentioned as existing even in passing. Though indeed there may have been some sort of passion narrative going around orally, you have absolutely no idea what it said, apart from what few things Paul says. But this is all moot, since I agree the Arab and empty tomb stories both begin with the same status as prima facie accounts: that alone is insufficient.

Finally, my case for Paul's spiritual interpretation of the resurrection is thoroughly made elsewhere and one would have to address the entire case before dismissing it so casually. So are my cases for other things (like how the empty tomb implies an ascension motif), and I really do not have much respect for people who have the immaturity to ridicule me without even paying me the courtesy of reading what I have already written on the subject. If this is what Christianity has made of you, then it is a darn good thing I'm an atheist.

Let's look at the strange way you are trying to force something to look the way you want: I presented five reasons to doubt the empty tomb (and even then I only doubt, I cannot affirm it false), but five reasons to believe the Arab sack. Balanced against these are almost no reasons to believe the empty tomb apart from the assertions of the Gospels (assertions comparable to the assertions of the Arab sack), but no reason at all to disbelieve the Arab sack. How, then, can I believe the same thing about both? Your argument doesn't make any sense and clearly fails to even understand the most rudimentary nature of what I have said. The reasons I give against the empty tomb have no parallel with the Arab sack story, and the reasons I give for the Arab sack have no parallel with the empty tomb (apart from the mere fact of attestation).

(1) scholarship mysteriously ceases after the 7th century. Arabs took the city then.

The best explanation is that the one led to the other. But for Christianity this line of argument doesn't work.

"(1) Christianity mysteriously begins in the 1st century. There was an empty tomb."

No, this begs the question. Unlike my reason above, where the Arab taking of the city is a known fact, which correlates with the event, the empty tomb is not a known fact but the very point in dispute.

So the only adequate parallel is:

"(1) Christianity mysteriously begins in the 1st century. Jesus was seen risen."

Granted. But there is no empty tomb here. No such event is needed for Jesus to be seen risen.

So your analogy fails here.

(2) the story is no less prima facie reliable than any other.

I will grant both stories have this in their favor--but then, all stories do, that are not outright contradicted.

(3) It occurred in a Dark Age from which almost no sources survive. Therefore, we can expect few notices to survive.

Does this apply to the empty tomb? No. This was the opposite of a Dark Age: not only have many texts survived, some even specifically focussed on Jerusalem, but numerous other historians and scholars were around and writing at just this time, who would be around to take notice of Christianity, all of whom were available to later preserved apologists and Christian historians for the quoting had they in fact noticed anything. Josephus could hardly not have heard of something that riled the entire Sanhedrin to persecutions, a cult preaching constantly in the City itself for decades just as Josephus himself was growing up there; never mind Plutarch, who wrote hundreds of volumes and lived only a few days from the famous city of Corinth where Christians had one of their largest churches and who was actively interested in superstitions and foreign religions; and so on. Though you might say that Christianity was so insignificant, so hidden, that none of these dozens of authors noticed, that would be an ad hoc excuse for their silence: in contrast, in the Arab case, no ad hoc excuse is needed--we know the texts existed but didn't survive.

(4) the Philopon objection is false and therefore carries no weight.

There is nothing comparable here in the Christian case, unless you want to argue that the names of the Gospel authors are false.

(5) the Muslims at that time would do that sort of thing.

What relevance has this to the empty tomb story? That empty tombs would have the tendency to start resurrection religions? Certainly not.

When you combine all five lines of argument, it seems fairly certain that the library was destroyed by the Muslims--certainly, there is no good reason to insist the story is false. Indeed, arrayed against it is essentially no reason at all to doubt it.

But when we look at the empty tomb, we have only one of these five lines of argument (and that from a hagiography, not a history, with a motive for invention, etc.) in favor, and balanced against that five lines of argument against which have no parallel in the case of the Arab sack.

It is thus irresponsible, even dishonest, of you to suggest my belief should be the same in both cases, and I really wonder what sort of insulting game you think you are playing, or who you are trying to impress?


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Old 06-06-2001, 07:55 PM   #23
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Metacrock:
It still assumes the story eveyrone knew and just explains it away.It includes the cross, they are still admiting there was a cross they just reinterpret who was on it. That's just a take off of the original story it's not an alternate version.</font>
Metacrock, focus! We're talking about the empty tomb. Not the burial. Not the crucifixion.

TurtonM's points were only aimed at rebutting the claim that no stories minus an empty tomb existed: in contrast, he is noting that they did. And cut-off dates, besides risking arbitrariness, are not very useful when we don't really know how early some of those other texts were circulating, in oral or written form: some could well be early, and if you want to say Mark dates to 50, I can say the Account of Cerinthus dates to 50, too--Cerinthus himself certainly dates not much later than 100.

But I am not making this argument myself. It is very important for any layman to learn that historians do not side with a story simply because it is the only one. That is a fundamental and dangerous flaw of reasoning. Thus, it does not matter to me whether some non-empty-tomb stories were around that can be weighted as much as Mark: historians don't need that to doubt a story.



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Old 06-06-2001, 08:03 PM   #24
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
Sorry, I'll clarify.

If Paul believed in a physical resurrection from the dead, do you think that lends support for the historicity of the empty tomb?

That is, if 1 Cor. 15 presumes that Jesus' body was resurrected, does not that indicate the early existence of an empty tomb tradition?
</font>
Ah, now I get your question, and its a good one. The answer is yes: if the preponderance of evidence tips the scale toward belief that Paul believed Jesus's flesh-and-blood body was raised, that would add an acorn to the belief side of the scale for an empty tomb. Of course, his belief in such a case would not entail the truth of the empty tomb (thus it doesn't trump all opposing evidence), but that would not be necessary for it to have weight nonetheless.

As to why it does not entail the case but merely supports it: I always keep in my mind the Heaven's Gate cult: they firmly believed a spaceship was imaged beyond a comet, even after repeated imaging refuted this claim thoroughly. Thus, the lack of an empty tomb is not needed for one to be a true believer in it: if one even cared to check, they could make up any excuse for what they found (such as blame the Jews for trickery).
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Old 06-06-2001, 08:16 PM   #25
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
What Paul believed is of no account, since he witnessed nothing. ... No, 1 Cor. 15, even if interpreted as refering to a physical body, doesn't mean the tomb was empty. It merely means Jesus was somehow raised, either physically, or spiritually</font>
Before we get sidetracked on this, I must disagree. It is true that Paul's witness carries less weight than Peter's would if we had it (and if we do--the letters--the empty tomb is remarkably curious for its absence in 2 Pet.), but it is not true that it carries none. Paul we know was in communication with the supposed eye-witnesses and visited Jerusalem at least a few times, so the probability is lessened (though not eliminated) that he would believe it on hearsay alone, or that there would even be such hearsay at such a place and time without a basis in fact. Therefore, his report of an empty tomb (e.g. if we found a lost letter, say) would be notably stronger in value than any other we have now.

And although it is true that one can believe in a physical resurrection without there being an empty tomb, it does not seem possible to me for someone to believe in a physical resurrection without believing in an empty tomb.

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Old 06-06-2001, 09:57 PM   #26
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Richard Carrier:
[b]Well, maybe we will have our debate here instead after all, Meta. To be honest, I don't see in your arguments enough depth of research or familiarity with the culture and materials, or experience with historical method, which really only comes from two things: years of formal training in method, and long experience dealing with difficult questions that you don't have any predisposition to believe either way. That itself doesn't make you wrong, but you should take note of how your need to prove your case affects your judgment, and how this habit is only broken by honing historiographical skill on matters outside your religious convictions--then, when you return to matters you care about, new and proper habits affect your thinking.</font>
Meta =&gt; Well as you say, rather than have our debate here, you can't expect me to shoot my wad before we even set it up. As for the lecture in historical methods, why don't you reserve that for someone who isn't on the door step of a Ph.D. in history. As for your judgment that I don't demonstrate all this deep knowledge of something that I studied long before I went to seminary got a Masters degree in it, let's just get into the blow by blow and we'll see. Textual criticism and Biblical studies is not your field.You have no fromal training in it form what I can tell and I have. I've studied with world famous theologians and Bible scholars and I have spent long years studying it.Moreover, it was a very liberal seminary-- one of the most liber in fact- and I have no need to prove anything.You have no idea what my theology entials so let's leave the ad homs out because I can' the same thing about skepticism. That hardly nmakes you objective my new found sketpical friend. But I will observe, however, that you seem to confuse conviction with argument and to assume that caution means skepticism. Caution need not imply skepticism in the larger sense.

Meta =&gt; The problem here is that even if you are applying historical method properly and even if there is greater weight to be given to the sack of the library than to the empty tomb, that still in no way means that the evidence for the empty tomb is not strong enough to justify belief.


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I agree that the form of the argument alone is independent of the absolute weights assigned, since I do talk about relative weights. But what I am saying is, from my point of view, when the absolute weights are measured, the scale for the empty tomb tips just barely into disbelief, and the scale for the Arab sack of the library tips a bit farther into belief. Don't mistake me: I do not assert "there was no empty tomb," for I am not that confident; rather, I say only that I have doubts and do not have enough reliable evidence to believe it. Perhaps an analogy will help: I don't say "there was no haunted house at Athens" as one of Lucian's friends describes in the Philopseudes, as I can see past the grandiose ghost story knowing that there are natural explanations for haunted houses and there is no particular reason why there absolutely couldn't be such a house at Athens at the time, but given the context, the relayer of the tale, and what I know about the motif of the haunted house in antiquity, there is sufficient reason not to have enough confidence in it: I doubt it, and do not have enough reliable evidence to believe it.</font>
Meta =&gt;I think it's a lot simpler than that. You can't judge the truth of one historical event merely by comparing the evidence for it to that for another, especially when both are questionable. I also doubt that you have considered all of the evidence for the empty tomb. My guess is that you are only familiar with Craig and few other Evangelical apologists' arguments. But even if that's not the true the point still remains, you can't say "there is pretty good evidence for Boyle's having created the propaganda machine to sell the air pump, and that is so much better than Keith Thomas's argument that the witch trails increased due to the Reformation, therefore, there the evidence for the latter isn't good enough. The certainty of event " a" has nothing to do with that for event " b."

Meta =&gt; There are good reasons why Paul never mentioned the empty tomb. That in no way indicates that no such tomb existed.

That alone does not, you are correct. But it does add a factor of suspicion and thus adds weight to a cumulative case (see my replies to others above).

Meta =&gt;But it's difficult to make a cumulative case without it turning into the 10 leaky buckets fallacy. If there are good reasons why Paul doesn't mention it, and in fact he may well allude to it, than why would it be prudent to view his silence as any kind of proof at all?

First, he wasn't telling them the Gospel story for the first time.

Yet he had many occasions to repeat in detail what his Gospel was and how he came to believe it, especially important things, and things people had the hardest time believing.

Meta =&gt;Of course his own personal story was something he was witness to, was less well known and thus needed more of a mention, and more to point at hand. Moreover, since the issue in most of his epistles is Grace vs. Works he had a very good reason to keep harping on his version of the Gospel (I do not buy the notion that he actually wrote a Gospel). So that is reason for him to mention that; but that is doctrine not church history. He did not have much of an occasion to go into the early history of the faith, and had reason to assume that they knew that. But his mention of the resurrection body in 1 Cor 15 may well allude to the notion of the empty tomb, and his mention of the 500 certainly alludes to it. We would have to get into a close reading but I think the Doherty notion that he was preaching a bodiless res. is pretty lame and can be dismissed with some exegesis.

They knew about the tomb, there's no reason why he would go into it.

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But they should have known also what Jesus' resurrected body was like, and what the central Gospel message was (that all will be resurrected), yet are so doubtful of even these things that he has to go to great length explaining it, even calling them fools for not believing it. </font>
MEta =&gt; No. That's an assumption that is stretching things a bit. Why should they know that Jesus' resurrection body was like the resurrection bodies they would someday have according to Paul's theology of the eschatological resurrection? That's not a foregone conclusion. Paul may have been the only teaching that at the time. That is not known to have been a circulating doctrine universal to the faith before Paul brought it out.

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And the empty tomb, even an indirect allusion to it, would be relevant to any discourse on what happens to the resurrected. There are other reasons he would have to hit upon it at least once (see replies to others above). For example, he has no particular reason to mention that they baptized people on behalf of the dead, yet he mentions it in passing all the same (incidentally, a practice forgotten even a generation after him and now not clearly understood). In contrast, something so powerful and impressive as the empty tomb would be a hard thing to avoid mentioning.</font>
MEta =&gt;No, I think baptism for the dead is to the point, but my memory may be fuzzy on that point. Being a liberal I'm way too lazy to look it up. But the point is, even if that is true you just use an aside to argue that he should have put in an aside for the empty tomb. That is still just argument from silence. For one who harps on scholarly methods so much, and who prides himself on scholarly caution I would think you would avoid argument from silence all the more. Thinking that he had reason to mention it is not proof that his silence means anything. It's just supposition.

Secondly, the story of the 500 may well assume the tomb.


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This is so hopelessly speculative you should know better than to even propose it. I could as well say that the story of the appearance to "the twelve" assumes Thomas sticking his fingers in the wounds. Legerdemain.</font>
Meta =&gt;O look whose talking, my worthy opponent. Perhaps my worthy opponent doesn't grasp the significance of his own errors. But to argue from silence and than turn around and castigate for speculation is certainly rich! And no, saying that the story of the 500 ect is comparable to the other assumption is not analogous. It all depends upon how seriously one takes the nobody resurrection concept, which was totally unJewish and ignores most of what Paul says. (OK now I guess we have to call in Doherty to debate with him).

It's merely arbitrary as to why the tomb must be mentioned in an epistle when no one ever denied it and no alternate version of the story ever existed.

You can make neither claim: we know neither fact.


MEta =&gt;ahah, wait a minute. What you are saying now is 1) the mere fact of silence has to prove your point because no argument can be made to counter it since the silence is there and must be taken in this way and this way only; 2) only you can speculate. Anyone else speculating deserves a lecture on historical method, but when you speculate its just right up there next to the facts.

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There could well have been all manner of unbelievers (Matthew point blank says there were, even some people who saw the risen Jesus didn't believe). You are forgetting we only have the stories told by the victors: we have nothing from Paul's opponents, for example, yet he names at least one of them and mentions several others. And that is among the believers. It is unreasonable to suppose the unbelievers wrote anything, or if they did that it would survive.</font>
Meta =&gt;Ok, my worthy opponent shows himself to be quite worthy. I should not have phrased my argument in such absolute terms. But it still remains the case that we have no alternate stories, not until several centuries later. Now it doesn't have to be the product of an unbeliever; other believers would have reasons to write stories and had the facts not been well beyond dispute we should see somewhere some version different from the one in which he is crucified and resurrected and leaves an empty tomb. But we do not, in several hundred extra-canonical writings of early Christian-based groups we see no alternate versions at all--only a few late re-interpriations of the same version everyone told. It is unreasonable to think that no other version would survive anywhere.


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There is nothing arbitrary about expecting at least an allusion to an empty tomb somewhere in the thousands and thousands of words Paul and the other epistolators wrote. That there is none does not secure the case, but you cannot deny it adds a pall of suspicion, and strengthens a cumulative case.</font>
Meta =&gt;So how would that work? IN the middle of the second century people start talking about the empty tomb and no one has ever heard of it, and one says "O say, where did you get this empty tomb thing from?" That doesn't make sense. But I'll have to comb through first Clement but I think he does mention it. I know Ignites does and that is about 110, and that's really the only other writing outside of the NT to even compare to. As I pointed out before, most scholars leave the res claim in the core Passage of Joseph's, so that's not really a fair statement.

Meat =&gt; That argument was based over the head on Easter when I posted my argument against Louder, "The Louder they Protest." Koster and Brown as well Crossan and several others demonstrate a Pre-Marcan passion narrative which dates to AD 50. It ends with the empty tomb, including it. Mark did not invent it.

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Another example of why I find Crossan to be hasty in his unsourced conclusions. This is again pure speculation. There is no evidence of any kind to date any pre-Markan passion story even if there was one. You cannot even tell me what exactly is the pre-Markan part of the passion narrative. It is pure guesswork.</font>
Meta =&gt;Here my worthy opponent displays a lack of research familiarity with the topic and the material. This is not guess work, it is far from that. It is well proven and well documented; but one must have some familiarity with textual criticism. Crossan is not the big wheel the media has made him out to be, but Koester is. And These are not the only two to support such research. Add to that Ray Brown and about three other liberal type scholars, all of them top experts in Diatessoron studies. It is textual matter that involves the Diatesseron as well as Egatron 2 and some other documents. I will post separately some of the evidence on this.

But let me ask you this, do you buy the notion of Q? If you do than you don't have the right to argue that because the very same evidence that "indicates/proves" Q exists--which is also hypothetical is used in this area.

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Even the Q hypothesis has scraps of contextual and linguistic evidence to stand on, and I am not a firm believer in that, so I can't put any more weight in this pre-Markan narrative, and certainly must put less. In history, you can't invent a source like this.</font>
MEta =&gt;Ah! I see the ugly specter of "My discipline is the best" raising its head. I'm from an interdisciplinary program so I have learned to respect most disciplines. This is a matter for textual criticism and the evidence for the Passion narrative is just as strong or even stronger than for Q. Scraps of it can be found in the ediatesseron and in GPete and Egatron 2.

You are saying "Aha!

MEta =&gt;Well I did in fact say "ah" this guy is uncanny.

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We have a Pauline-period document that attests to the empty tomb!" when you have no document at all, not even a reconstruction based on objective textual analysis, and no way at all to know what was really in it, empty tomb or not. And people call my methods shoddy?</font>
Meta =-&gt;Well actually, I didn't say that. Close but your gift as a prophet is incomplete. I don't claim that we have a document, but we do have good evidence that there was such a document and it is textual evidence.Voila!

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from my website:
ME:
C. GPet follows OT for Passion Narrative and Res.
1) Use of OT passages for Passion narrative.

Gospel of Peter (GPet) follows the OT as a means of describing the passion narrative, rather following Matthew. Jurgden Denker uses this observation to argue that GPet is independent is based upon an independent source. In addition to Denker, Koester, Borwn, and the very popular Charles Dominik Corssan also agree (Koster, 218).

It is upon this basis that Crossan constructs his "cross Gospel" which he dates in the middle of the first century, meaning, an independent source upon which all the canonical and GPet draw. But the independence of GPet from all of these sources is also guaranteed by it's failure to follow any one of them.

2) GPet does not follow any of the canonical, but is in general agreement with them.


Brown, who built his early reputation on study of GPet, follows the sequence of narrative in GPet and compares it in very close reading with that of the canonical Gospels. He finds that GPet is not dependent upon the canonical, although it is closer in the order of events to Matt/Mark rather than to Luke and John.


Brown:
"GPet follow the classical flow from trail through crucifixion to burial to tomb presumably with post resurrectional appearances to follow. The GPet sequence of individual episodes, however, is not the same as that of any can canonical Gospel...When one looks at the overall sequence in the 23 items I listed in table 10, it would take very great imagination to picture the author of GPet studying Matthew carefully, deliberately shifting episodes around and copying in episodes form Luke and John to produce the present sequence." [Brown, Death of the Messiah, 1322]

Me:
As documented on the Jesus Puzzle II page, and on Res part I. GPet is neither a copy of the canonical, nor are they a copy of GPet, but both use a common source in the Passion narrative which dates to AD 50 according to Crosson and Koester. Brown follows the flow of the narrative closely and presents a 23 point list in a huge table wich illustrates the point just made above. I cannot reproduce the enire table, but just to give a few examples:

Brown:
"IN the Canonical Gospel's Passion Narrative we have an example of Matt. working conservatively and Luke working more freely with the Marcan outline and of each adding material: but neither produced an end product so radically diverse from Mark as GPet is from Matt." [Brown, 1325]


The unknown Gospel of Egatron 2 was discovered in Egypt in 1935 exiting in two different manuscripts. The original editors found that the handwriting was that of a type from the late first early second century. In 1946 Goro Mayeda published a dissertation which argues for the independence of the readings from the canonical tradition. This has been debated since then and continues to be debated. Recently John B. Daniels in his Clairmont Dissertation argued for the independence of the readings from canonical sources. (John B. Daniels, The Egatron Gospel: It's place in Early Christianity, Dissertation Clairmont: CA 1990). Daniels states "Egatron's Account of Jesus healing the leaper Plausibly represents a separate tradition which did not undergo Markan redaction...Compositional choices suggest that...[the author] did not make use of the Gospel of John in canonical form." (Daniels, abstract). The unknown Gospel of Egatron two is remarkable still further in that it mixes Johannie language with Synoptic contexts and vice versa. which, "permits the conjecture that the author knew all and everyone of the canonical Gospels." (Joachim Jeremias, Unknown Sayings, "An Unknown Gospel with Johannine Elements" in Hennecke-Schneemelcher-Wilson, NT Apocrypha 1.96).
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Meta =&gt; How many overall Palestinian historians have survived the first century? Josephus does allude to the claim of the resurrection. That implies the empty tomb well enough.


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Unfortunately, in an obviously tampered text. I myself find the passage to be so unlike anything Josephus writes elsewhere, so unconnected to his political and narrative agenda, and so suspicious for having first appeared in Eusebius, a very untrustworthy man--no earlier Christian writer cites it, even though Josephus was well known and often cited by other Christians--and so on, that it is really unbelievable that such a passage existed in any form in the original.</font>
MEta =&gt;Very few scholars are willing to claim that the whole passage was made up out of whole cloth. The Arabic passage proves that there was a core passage.

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But even granting it, Josephus wrote after the Gospels were written, and as historians know very well, footnotes about amazing things in historians are the least reliable things in their works, because they were least investigated by the authors who repeat them. In short, Josephus on Jesus, even if in any part genuine, is no more worthy of belief than Tacitus on the miraculous salvation of Thrasyllus (or the existence of the Phoenix). </font>
Meta =&gt;I never try to argue that Jo's mention of these things proves them. He attests to the claim to the res. Showing that it was made before his time. Before Mark? Perhaps not, but certanly before 1 Clement and if he is silent about it than that demonstrates the value of your argument from silence.

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Finally, Josephus never mentions an empty tomb, even in the most embellished version of that passage that exists. A resurrection does not imply an empty tomb when that resurrection is described as "not of the flesh" and "not of the dust of Adam" but of the spirit only, as Paul says, and Josephus may well be reporting Pauline Christianity, if he was not suckered in by stories of the physicalist sect instead.</font>
MEta =&gt;No Paul never says "Of the Spirit "ONLY"" he says that the flesh is transformed, that's why he compares one kind of flesh to another, so obviously he's talking about a form of flesh. And the notion of a "resurrection" of nothing but a spirit is ghost, contrary to Jewish belief about resurrection and would impress no one. MM comes running in "there's good news, Jesus is a ghost," big deal. NO one would care about that. it's a totally anguish thing. It is totally reasonable to assume that resurrection implies bodily which necessities an empty tomb. That doesn't prove that they had one, but the concept is clearly necessitated in what they did have; which was a belief in bodily resurrection.

Meta =&gt;Red Herring. It hardly matters who they were.


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Certainly it does. An eye witness is stronger than a secondhand witness, who in turn is stronger than a thirdhand witness, etc. But who are these guys? You don't know. </font>
Meta =&gt;Fallacious to assume that only those two guys, Matt and John could be eye witnesses. The eye witnesses were the community and the Gospel is the production of the community.

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In a court of law, their testimony would have no merit whatever--historians are being charitable even to consider them.</font>
MEta =&gt; OH OH, my worthy opponent is having trouble being quite worthy enough. Come on now, we aren't a court of law. I'm not convinced that courts are even half way venues for logical argument. 6% of all convictions are of innocent people. But the real problem is, why a court room model? and moreover since you aren't a lawyer you are no judge of what would fly in a court. The irony is I have several friends who are lawyers and who argue on message boards, guess who one of them is? someone you all regularly think would not make it in a court of law, but he does and does quite well. But the thing is, he knows what would work in a court and you don't and he argues exactly what you say would not work in a court. Now the thing is historians are better judges of these things than lawyers anyway, so let's just leave courts out of this. That's Josh McDowell to brings courts in to it, know what I mean?

But I say you are being ethnocentric in excluding the word of a whole community just because you don't know their names. If we trace the Gospel accounts their origins they are not rooted in the imaginations of those four guys, they are rooted in the initial Easter hoopla of the people of canna, of Jerusalem and of Bethany. Peasants who say the events themselves and banded together to retell them and to spread the glorious word that had given them hope. There is no reason to suppose they did not see something! there's no proof as to what it was they did see, but there no reason to assume they did not have some basic sense of what happened or some notion of the events.

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Moreover, you cannot assess anyone's honesty or purpose or merit unless you know who they are, have other writings of theirs to check, know when they wrote, for whom, and from whom they got their information. For all we know, Mark's entire Gospel, like John's Revelation, came to him entirely in a dream on a road to Damascus. Indeed, Paul acts in Gelatins as if that is the only true way it can come to someone.</font>
MEta =&gt;That whole hoax thing is an absurd argument. The major world religion began as a hoax, that's kind of like the illuminate stuff. Maybe all of Boyles air pump experiments were just made up. That just doesn't fly. The first time they go to preach "hey you ever heard of this Jesus guy?" "NO" "they say he was famous and the whole city saw him and that his crucifixion was public knowledge I never heard of him, no one I know has ever heard of him why should I believe it?" that's kind of pushing it. Clearly it had to begin rooting in a community of supporters that followed someone they saw and heard and believed in. Even Gensa Vermese says that. And than to ask them to blaspheme, give up everything they had and share, to maybe be persecuted, in effect turn their backs on a faith they were very dedicated to, even though on one anywhere had ever heard of the things they are talking about although they say there happened in public and everyone saw it, who would buy it?

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Thus, you cannot pretend that this point adds no weight to the scale on the doubt side, just as you cannot deny the other three facts also add a little weight, so that altogether that scale is starting to tip pretty good. Right? Be honest now.</font>
MEta =&gt;So even though each one of those buckets leak when you put them all together they hold water, right?

The mere fact of the claim is enough to suspect that there was such a tomb.


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Yes: the existence of a report gives the theory that there was an empty tomb prima facie merit. But prima facie merit is only enough to get a theory in the door. It doesn't get it any farther.</font>
MEta =&gt;Out the door is as far as it has to go. And argument from silence is not enough to overturn premia facie presumption. You have no positive evidence, it's all argument from silence. Negative, lack of evidence. If that proves anything than its better not to have evidence.


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The mere fact of the claim that Judas' head swelled to the size of a wagon trail, suppressing our suspicions of the incredible for a moment, gives it prima facie merit. But does it stand secunda facie? Hardly. Or take the claim that there was an entire legion of Christians in the army of Marcus Aurelius. Sure, the fact of the claim gives the theory prima facie merit, but it falls very quickly when you start looking at the context and evidence (and this is one claim that is almost as surely false as a historical claim can be).</font>
Meta =&gt;O my worthy opponent has certainly learned a wealth of facts about the ancient world. But that hardly gives you any actul evidence on this point. It's still just argument form silence. When one examines the context one finds that the story makes no sense without an empty tomb. How it could get started long after the faith was established is very difficult to see, but that the faith would ever get going in the first place is even harder to see. It strikes me as absurd to even consider the notion that the empty tomb was not spoken of until 70 years or so after the events! Most scholars, like the vast majority, assume that Mark had some prior tradition to work with and it is absurdly absurd to think that he could just invent it out of whole cloth and everyone would accept it.

And again, if that could be done, and if there was no original historical event to play off of than why aren't there other versions? Why couldn't other make up that Jesus was stabbed? Or hung? Or stoned? And that is at least as silent as your silence so it must be good evidence.

Since to make the claim itself invites counter charges that no one remembers a tomb, no one ever saw it.


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But few did--so why didn't the Corinthians say this? Why didn't Paul have to reassure doubters of the empty tomb there, men who clearly were eager to doubt even more fundamental things? So that there was no claim, and hence no empty tomb, explains this evidence even better, or you must admit at least just as well.</font>
MEta =&gt;Paul didn't deny that there was an empty tomb, he just didn't mention it, that is just the original silence in question it's not evidence of anything.

I'm going to stop here and cut this into two, it's huge already




[This message has been edited by Metacrock (edited June 06, 2001).]
 
Old 06-06-2001, 10:46 PM   #27
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Richard Carrier:

See my posts above for a clearer picture of what I am arguing, and why the case is not at all comparable to the Muslim sack (for which there are no acorns on the doubt side, or if any, they are much fewer and smaller).</font>
Well, I happen to agree that the cases are not even close, but unfortunately it is for the opposite reasons that you believe. After all, when we get right down to it, the evidence for a Muslim sacking of a Library in Alexandria c. 7th Century is pretty weak and late. But I am not here to argue that particular issue. I am more concerned with your uneven and inconsistent use of your own methodology, and that is the point I would like to focus upon right now.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You also need to read my essay on Why I Don't Buy the Resurrection Story, lecture version, as that explains how Christianity likely began and there is no need of an empty tomb there.</font>
Yes, I have already read your lecture, and not surprisingly, I found it wholely unconvincing, and weakly argued. In any event, I am not interested in debating the Resurrection here either, and will stick with the discussion of the empty tomb exclusively.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Indeed, as visions of a risen Christ are all that is needed, no empty tomb was required—we see that was all needed for Paul to convert, and as his is the earliest record of a conversion, and he speaks as though only such a conversion had authority, it is prima facie reasonable to conclude that the others may have converted this way, too.</font>


I am stunned that so many fallacies can be contained in a single sentence Richard. One at a time:

1) Paul is the only convert needed in order to establish Christianity. This is patently absurd. In Paul’s day, the three largest Christian Churches were located in Jerusalem, Antioch and Rome. This is an historical fact. Further, it is equally certain that Paul did not found any of these Churches, and that at least Jerusalem and Antioch pre-exist his own conversion. This brings me to fallacy number 2;
2) Paul is the first recorded convert. No, if we go by the Gospels, the first converts are the disciples themselves. After that we can look at Cornelius, the Centurian and his family, and after that any number of the believers listed by Paul in his letters that were not converted by him personally.
3) Paul speaks as though only such a conversion had authority. Are you being serious here? Paul strives mightily to demonstrate that his conversion and apostleship are genuine, and does so by comparing it (albeit even as he admits that his is the least of the experiences of all the apostles) to that of Cephas/Peter, the rest of the Twelve and James, the Brother of the Lord.
4) It is prima facie reasonable to conclude that the others may have converted this way too. If I may ask Richard, in your opinion DID they convert this way or not? If they did not, then point (3) above fails. Paul tolerated no other Gospel but his own to be preached, so if the other apostles were preaching a different Gospel, they would be roundly condemned by him. Yet, if their Gospel were different (let’s say, it includes an actual physical resurrection, something you argue Paul NEVER preached), then why does he say that his mission to the Gentiles is the same as is the one that Peter and James take to the Jews?


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">There are also trivial things wrong with your reasoning:</font>
Were the things listed above the big ones then? I would rather not get side tracked, but seeing as you spent the bulk of your post on the “trivial” stuff, I must do the same. It would be unfortunate if we wasted too much time on the unimportant things, but I will say, that from my point of view, the material below is actually at the heart of our disagreement, and would like to pursue it further.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(1) if I doubted the origin of Christianity in c. 30 AD, I could still believe in an empty tomb, so again the Arab analogy fails: I could not believe the library still existed and also that the Arabs destroyed it.</font>
You have completely missed the point here Richard. Using your analogy, you could believe that the Library was sacked, but not by the Muslims, or not in the 7th Century, but rather later or earlier. If you accept that Christianity began c.30AD, you have to explain how this happened, and I do hope you would come up with something much better than Paul was all they needed.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> On the one hand, whereas an Arab sack entails destruction, an empty tomb does not entail origin;</font>
Anyone could have destroyed the Library any time. Tell me, please, is your theory about the Muslim sack of the 7th Century the ONLY theory accepted by respected historians? Or are there competing theories. IF there are other theories that are advanced by respected scholars, then I would place it on par with the empty tomb theory (since there obviously are serious scholars that dispute it). At this point I honestly do not know if any scholars dispute the Muslim sacking of the Library, but if you tell me that there are none at all, then I hope you do not mind if I do some checking of that claim on my own.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> on the other hand, whereas the best sources do not attribute the empty tomb as even remotely necessary to belief (if it were so powerful a proof as you claim, Paul or (Ps.-)Peter could not fail to bring it up), but instead assert visions, revelations, as the highest authority, providing a ready origin, we have no ready explanation for the vanishing of the library at conveniently the very time the Arabs took the city.</font>
I do wish that you would stop offering your opinions as if they were evidence Richard. Are you willing to engage on this issue or not? Obviously your reading of Paul and Peter is one of the theories advanced about the Resurrection, but it is not the only one, even by a mile. And many respected scholars argue powerfully for the empty tomb, INCLUDING sceptics and atheists. In their reading (and mine) Paul DOES talk about the physical resurrection, and I have even pointed you to one of the threads where this very issue is addressed and discussed. If you want to hash out that issue, then let’s do so, but right now I want to see why you think the evidence for the empty tomb is so weak.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(2) I do not need to show there was another account of the haunted house of Athens to disbelieve in it, or another account of the salvation of Thrasyllus to disbelieve in that. You are not even thinking like a historian: you expect the evidence to be nice and neat, for any information you want to be available.</font>
It is statements like this that leave me wondering if you are even being serious on this thread Richard. You have told us that one of the best reasons to accept that the Muslims sacked the Library is because we have no competing traditions to this story. Even assuming that this is true, all this shows is that no competing traditions is acceptable evidence of the historical likelihood of an event having occurred. Every source on the tomb for at least 300 years has it as being empty. I have not seen you deny this fact (since you cannot), so I am left to wonder why you reject it as a sound argument for the empty tomb, even as you have accepted it for the sacking of the Library.

I guess what I am trying to uncover is why you are inconsistent here Richard.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Historians are never so lucky. In contrast, your whole reasoning fails: if the empty tomb was unimportant until Mark, why would there be any other story?</font>
Is this a rhetorical question?

Try this:

According to your theory, Paul, Peter and the gang are preaching a non-physical resurrection as the Gospel. Paul condemns ALL alternative stories as works of Satan and the anti-Christ. Now, let’s take the traditional dating of Mark to c. 65-75AD. This means that within 1-10 years of both Paul and Peter dying, Mark changes the Gospel 180 degrees and there is not so much as a hiccup in the historical record. How could this be? And why didn’t Matthew or Luke or John question the “new” Gospel, presenting it pretty much as is from Mark? Finally, why don’t we have a single account from anyone telling us that there was no empty tomb and the Resurrection was purely spiritual until the 18th Century? Are you actually this credulous Richard?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> You see, you have to assume your theory is true even before you can make this objection, an objection that in fact has little bearing.</font>
I do not have to believe any such thing Richard. I am surprised that you advance this argument, since it can just as easily be applied to ANY claim we care to make about history. Please try to be consistent, this is all that I am asking. The claim that the tomb was empty was made within 30-40 years of the event. The claim that the Muslims sacked the Library was how close to the event again? Both claims are clearly very naturalistic in nature. We do not have to believe in God, or a Resurrection or anything else to accept that either could be true. Even you have admitted as much. There are no competing claims to either story (I know that this is true of the empty tomb, I have accepted it on faith from your post that this is true about the Library) at least for hundreds of years after the fact, and none have any reason to be treated as credible.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Likewise, if the empty tomb was moot, there would be no stories at all, and that is just what we find in the pre-Gospel evidence.</font>
Seeing as you have failed to argue the case for the pre-Marcan Passion Narrative (beyond your mere assertions that there is no such thing), and have refused to address my own arguments for an earlier dating of the Gospels themselves (beyond hand waving that is, and that is hardly an argument at all), then what relevance does this point have here? Please do not pretend to address evidence when you very obviously have not done anything of the sort.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(3) You seem hopelessly confused in attempting to analogize the Philopon conjecture with the authors conjectures. The Philopon conjecture is a rebuttal argument that I note is invalid, therefore it carries no weight. How you think that same reasoning supports the attributions of the Gospels to the named authors is beyond me. There are more examples of this inexplicable and strange reasoning.</font>
I have yet to see why you consider the “Philopon” argument to have any evidentiary value in your argument at all. At least with the evangelists, if it can be established that one or more of them was an eye witness to the life of Jesus, and especially of the empty tomb, then the case for the historicity of the empty tomb goes up significantly. I am sure that even you would admit to this.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(4) I have never here denied the burial account. Why you waste hundreds of words quoting scholars asserting it is beyond me.</font>
I see you engaging in the kind of scholarly speculation and revisionism that I find so distasteful. You have no evidence in support of your claims about Paul’s beliefs (beyond your own special reading of selected passages from his epistles that is), and you feel entitled to dismiss large amounts of evidence that we do have, largely with the wave of your hand. The fact that this evidence contradicts your own pet theories only makes your cavalier dismissal of such evidence all the more suspect, and I find your methodology fundamentally flawed.

You are a student of history Richard, so I hold you to a very high standard. The fact that you cannot remain consistent in your use of even your own criterion of argumentation tells me that you reach conclusions based largely on ideology, and not objectivity.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As to the dates of the Gospels, it is wishful thinking alone that places them in Pauline times, for no epistolator ever mentions or quotes any of them or any parts of them or even acknowledges that texts of any sort existed.</font>
If this is the best argument that you can put forward for not dating the Gospels to a pre-70’s period, then so be it. I hope you will not mind my asking you how close to the 7th Century your own primary evidence for the sacking of the Library happens to be. Is it within 100 years? 200? 300?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> This makes it excruciatingly difficult to pretend those texts were arround, even in oral form, and yet never drawn from to illustrate or support any argument, never even mentioned as existing even in passing.</font>
You mean like Jesus dying on a cross and rising again from the dead? Or sayings like those found in James and Paul’s epistles? Or that Jesus was descended from David? Is this the kind of “passing” references you are talking about? If that is the case, then I hope that you will withdraw this ridiculous assertion, and if it is not the case, then we will have much more to talk about, I am sure.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Though indeed there may have been some sort of passion narrative going around orally, you have absolutely no idea what it said, apart from what few things Paul says.</font>
Once again I am wondering if you are being serious here Richard. I have argued for a good number of things being in the pre-Gospels Passion Narrative, and offered evidence. Will you consider these arguments and evidence, or simply engage in more hand waving and assert that they mean nothing?

This is another of your common methods that I find troublesome: You often act as if counter arguments do not exist at all, or are so absurd to begin with that they are not even worth addressing. The theory of an early passion narrative that predates the Gospels is one that is widely held. Are you prepared to actually debate it or not?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> But this is all moot, since I agree the Arab and empty tomb stories both begin with the same status as prima facie accounts: that alone is insufficient.</font>
Why? See why I want you to be consistent now?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Finally, my case for Paul's spiritual interpretation of the resurrection is thoroughly made elsewhere and one would have to address the entire case before dismissing it so casually.</font>
I have not dismissed it casually, but, rather, told you that it is irrelevant to the discussion of the empty tomb (at least for the purposes of this thread). Further, I have argued against your views extensively on other threads, and referred you and other readers to those threads. If you feel that you have anything to contribute to those discussions please do so. All of the relevant threads are still active and easily found.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> So are my cases for other things (like how the empty tomb implies an ascension motif), and I really do not have much respect for people who have the immaturity to ridicule me without even paying me the courtesy of reading what I have already written on the subject.</font>
I have read what you have written Richard. The point is that it is not relevant to this discussion. If, however, you wish to talk about any of these issues on other threads, I will be happy to read what you write there as well.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> If this is what Christianity has made of you, then it is a darn good thing I'm an atheist.
</font>
Feeling superiour Richard? On the other hand, I hope you are at least willing to grant the possibility that you may even be wrong on a point or two.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Let's look at the strange way you are trying to force something to look the way you want: I presented five reasons to doubt the empty tomb (and even then I only doubt, I cannot affirm it false), but five reasons to believe the Arab sack.</font>
Actually, I did not see you actually cite any primary evidence in your arguments Richard, but since I had no intention of debating the historicity of the sacking of the Library I accepted your claims on faith. If, however, you wish to challenge my own evidence to believe the empty tomb, then it will only be fair to ask you to produce evidentiary supports for your claims on the Library as well.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Balanced against these are almost no reasons to believe the empty tomb apart from the assertions of the Gospels (assertions comparable to the assertions of the Arab sack), but no reason at all to disbelieve the Arab sack. How, then, can I believe the same thing about both?</font>
It is hard to give you the benefit of the doubt here Richard, because if I do, then I will be forced to conclude that you are being disingenuous. Are you actually saying that I have offered no evidence to believe in the empty tomb account? Further, are you claiming that you have offered any actual evidence to support the claim that the Library was sacked? I saw only opinions a speculation from you on that front. This is what prompted me to write my original post, as once I saw how your opinions and beliefs were formed, I was left to wonder why you had not been consistent in your formulation of your beliefs about the empty tomb.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(1) scholarship mysteriously ceases after the 7th century. Arabs took the city then.
</font>
Check. Christianity mysteriously appears c. 30AD. Jesus died at this time. The ONLY claim made about his death was that He rose again, and by implication or direct statement, that the place in which he was buried was found empty.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The best explanation is that the one led to the other. But for Christianity this line of argument doesn't work.</font>
Of course it works for Christianity. All you have to do is be consistent, and remove your own ideological blinders. You know that you can believe in the empty tomb and the start of Christianity and still be an atheist scholar right? Grant, Sherwin-White and Lane Fox did it, so can you.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">"(1) Christianity mysteriously begins in the 1st century. There was an empty tomb."

No, this begs the question. Unlike my reason above, where the Arab taking of the city is a known fact, which correlates with the event, the empty tomb is not a known fact but the very point in dispute.</font>
Once again I will ask, do ANY reputable scholars dispute the Arab sack of the Library c. 7th Century. Please be honest here.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> (2) the story is no less prima facie reliable than any other.

I will grant both stories have this in their favor--but then, all stories do, that are not outright contradicted.</font>
Fair enough. But this does make this argument look rather weak wouldn’t you say? I mean, if all stories that are not outright contradicted are prima facie reliable, then what point is there in using it as an argument at all?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(3) It occurred in a Dark Age from which almost no sources survive. Therefore, we can expect few notices to survive.

Does this apply to the empty tomb? No. This was the opposite of a Dark Age: not only have many texts survived, some even specifically focussed on Jerusalem, but numerous other historians and scholars were around and writing at just this time, who would be around to take notice of Christianity, all of whom were available to later preserved apologists and Christian historians for the quoting had they in fact noticed anything. Josephus could hardly not have heard of something that riled the entire Sanhedrin to persecutions, a cult preaching constantly in the City itself for decades just as Josephus himself was growing up there; never mind Plutarch, who wrote hundreds of volumes and lived only a few days from the famous city of Corinth where Christians had one of their largest churches and who was actively interested in superstitions and foreign religions; and so on. Though you might say that Christianity was so insignificant, so hidden, that none of these dozens of authors noticed, that would be an ad hoc excuse for their silence: in contrast, in the Arab case, no ad hoc excuse is needed--we know the texts existed but didn't survive.</font>
So, from this silence you wish to argue what exactly? After all, we have plenty of first century accounts about Jesus, most of them are in the Bible of course, but I would hope that you would not argue that this makes them automatically non-historical. And of those accounts, not one tells us that the tomb was not empty. Even the anti-Christian sources concede this point, or do not talk about it at all.

Now, how many sources do not talk about the sacking of the Library from say 650AD to 900AD? Have you counted them? And if there are a good number, why did you not mention this fact in your posts?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(4) the Philopon objection is false and therefore carries no weight.

There is nothing comparable here in the Christian case, unless you want to argue that the names of the Gospel authors are false.</font>
Many scholars have done this based on scholarly speculation. I am happy to see that you do not wish to make that argument here.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(5) the Muslims at that time would do that sort of thing.

What relevance has this to the empty tomb story? That empty tombs would have the tendency to start resurrection religions? Certainly not.</font>
Well, if you could demonstrate that Paul’s vision (and other supposedly like it) account for the starting of Christianity, then you might have a point. Thus far I have not seen you explain who founded the churches in Jerusalem, Antioch or Rome (since it obviously wasn’t Paul), nor have you explained how the only acceptable Gospel preached by Paul, James, John, Peter and the other 1st generation Christians was so casually, and easily tossed aside, and a WHOLE NEW GOSPEL was preached by Mark, Matt, Luke and John (and all of their successors), and all within 1-30 years of Paul’s death.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">When you combine all five lines of argument, it seems fairly certain that the library was destroyed by the Muslims--certainly, there is no good reason to insist the story is false. Indeed, arrayed against it is essentially no reason at all to doubt it.</font>
Well, the Library does look to have been destroyed. After all, it isn’t there any longer. By the same token, Christianity is also an historical fact that can be traced back to before the first half of the 1st Century. Beyond that, if you do not have much more evidence to offer, the case for the Muslim sacking of the Library does look pretty weak right now.

The case for the empty tomb, on the other hand, looks much stronger.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">It is thus irresponsible, even dishonest, of you to suggest my belief should be the same in both cases, and I really wonder what sort of insulting game you think you are playing, or who you are trying to impress?</font>
It is not dishonest to expose your fallacious reasoning Richard, nor your uneven and inconsistent use of your own methods. I do not consider the arguments put forward for the historicity of the sacking of the Library by the Muslims c. 7th Century AD to be even remotely convincing. I accepted it on faith because the issue is of little interest to me, and your accounting seems plausible. What I have found curious, however, is that when we apply the same standards to the story of the empty tomb, you do a 180, and reject it pretty much out of hand.

I have hoped for some better arguments from you Richard, but seeing as you have not engaged me on many of the most important issues and evidence (beyond assertions on your part, but I hope you agree that your opinions are not evidence here), I still do not see why you reject the empty tomb.

Perhaps if you should offer more evidence on the Library, or actually offer counter evidence to my own arguments, then we can find out why you hold such differening levels of belief on these two questions.

Brian (Nomad)


[This message has been edited by Brian Trafford (edited June 06, 2001).]
 
Old 06-06-2001, 11:49 PM   #28
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Richard Carrier:
Part II of answer by Meta </font>


Moreover, the communities are authors and the witnesses, why must they bare the names in order to be taken seriously as witnesses? The fact of their names is unimportant. What matters is the tradition itself goes back to just 18 years after the events and was claimed in the same city where it happened. Had the mass populace had no recollection of the event the faith would have died at that point.

This is a non sequitur. None of this requires an empty tomb.

Meta=&gt;No,it does not necessitate an empty tomb; but it means that the lack of knowledge of specific authorship is not very important. The claims of Easter arose out of a community, we can assume that the claims of Easter arise out of the experiences of not merely one person, but a host of people, a whole community, a public, and that is probably why there are no other versions. Not that doesn't' prove the events happened, of course not. But it is a good reason to believe that it was not merely the invention of one man, and if the whole community did witness it we have a community of witnesses. That would be the 500. Why else would there even be a claim of 500? Who where they supposed to be?

I don't have time to lay it out properly as an argument due to the length of the posts.

Meta =&gt;Sure its Hagiography, so what?

So it immediately gets another acorn of doubt on the scale.

Meta =&gt;So historians measure doubt in nuts? Hmmmmmm...

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Hagiography is a genre known to universally contain false stories of marvels, usually of symbolic or propagandistic function, and so the moment you see a marvel in a hagiography, the odds are that it is bogus.</font>
Meta =&gt;Of course that depends upon your presuppositions, since you would deny any supernatural event regardless of the evidence that charge doesn't really carry as much weight. But more importantly, to label the whole thing Hagiography is a mistake. The Gospels are their own unique Genre, there are no other documents quite like them. That's an argument from association. Moreover, it doesn't bother me if there are embellishments. To trump up embellishments into "it was all made up by one guy" is a tall order. Remember now, I'm arguing that it wasn't made up by Mark, or rather, that the assumption is too great an assumption to accept. I am not trying to prove the resurrection here, nor do I care about inherency.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Again, not enough to trump the story by itself. But you cannot deny it adds that much more doubt. That scale sure is tipping even more now, yes?</font>
Meta=&gt;The base of it is getting pretty wet from all the leaking, but I'm not sure how much water you actually carried in your leaky buckets. The problem is, we never laid any ground rules and this post is too long to develop the argument properly and still stick in a bunch of informational statements about my assumptions. That whole approach, "the doubt is adding up" merely shows, no offense, a lack of any real training in theology. That is not the way anyone in any sort of Biblical studies field would look at it. It's not a matter of cumulative doubt or faith. It's not harming my belief system one iota to find embellishments or problems in the text. that is beside the point. All that really matter is just the basic reasonability of assumptions. And where would all this doubt be accumulating anyway? That assumes that the inherency of the text has to be kept intact. It does not. I don't care if they made the whole thing up, so long as there is good reason to accept a basic core to the story, but the case for trusting the documents is much stronger than just clinging to one or two core points. I don't have time to outline what I think is historically viable but I think the basic core points of Messianic claims, miracle claims, ethical etching, crucifixion and claims of resurrection are fairly solid.

That can be based upon historical fact, there's no reason to assume it is false just for that reason. I’m sure there are embellishments. None of that is a reason to reject the claim.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
It increases the probability that the emptiness of the tomb is, as you say, “an embellishment.” Surely you agree: a genre that embellishes more than any other (and that is charitable: hagiographies go way beyond mere embellishing) adds greater weight to the possibility that any dramatic detail in it is an embellishment. Correct?</font>
MEta =&gt;But I dot' agree that it can be lumped into a genre with other hagiographies. The Sandinista martyrologies were hagiographies and they were currently based upon real people. Why would there even be a belief in the first place if there was not empty tomb?

Look you don't need to suppose that Mark made up the empty tomb to be a skeptic. It's quite plausible that someone moved the body for some reason and you can say that and be a skeptic. That has nothing to do with faith per se. It's just less reasonable to assume that they could drop in this new basic tenet of faith 70 years later and it wouldn't cause any problems.

There are tons of examples in history of folklore and embellishment in the midst of core facts which historians assume.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Well, maybe it would help if we studied one. Identify one of these “tons” of examples and lets see what we can reconstruct from it as trustworthy--and why. Then maybe you will understand where we historians are coming from.</font>

Meta=&gt;The Alamo. WEeeeell, I'm from Texas. That's our only myth. Ok I guess "You historians" (I guess we History of ideas guys dot' get in the club) want ancient world examples. So how about Alexander the Great? You really think he had horns? But he did exist, and he did probably go to India. The Indians even have their own legends about him. Yet there is a lot about his story that is clearly mythical.


Every ancient tomb of every king form Egypt to India gives a mythological account of his battles and his triumphs and no historian decides that the king didn't exist for that reason.

Now this is a good example of a red herring. We are not saying Jesus didn’t exist here. We are talking about one of those mythological accounts of his triumphs, aren’t we?


Meta =&gt; No we aren't. Because I'm not saying I'm proving the resurrection. I'm saying how foolish it is to think that Mark made up the empty tomb. I'm not claiming to prove it was empty because he rose from it. That is something no one could prove without going back in time, and since the Dr. has suspending my Tardis riding privileges I'll have to content myself with faith. But the point is, the faith is not misplaced beause the claims were made from the beginning, and it is merely a matter of one's own existential sense of the infinite as to whether one will trust them. IN that sense one speaks not as a historian, but as a believer. IN this debate, however, I am not arguing for belief.

Apologetical arguments, in my view, are about the platform, they are not about the gap. You see? The gap we jump over in the leap of faith. Apologetics can do nothing more than built a better platform from which to dive. So the discussion is about the platform, the diving part is up to the listener in his/her heart.

Meta =&gt;Why should Mark mention all the laws?


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
That is not my point. The entire plot seems to be written by someone completely ignorant of those laws. It is like the movie Gladiator: we historians know that the very instant that Maximus announced in the arena, before 80,000 law-abiding citizens, that he was not only a citizen, but an honestior, who by law was guaranteed immunity from all forms of torture, especially the games, the emperor would have had to release him at once or be universally loathed as an outlaw (and the character, as portrayed, could not have bore that). So we can be absolutely certain no such event ever happened, because the plot is impossible. Now, what I am saying with regard to Mark is not this strong (if it were, I could settle the case on this point alone), but it adds weight to the scale for the same reason: the women would not have acted as they did.</font>
Meta =&gt;MY my, you historians certainly know a lot of history. I do so admire my worthy opponent's ability to recount endless examples from Greco-Roman history, that prove so much about first century Palestine. I do so wish I was an historian. As Lightfoot once observed in his discussion with Leslie Stephen, "it's all in the assumptions, old boy." Be that as it MAY, Brown does a good job of demonstating the behavior of the women. I think Edersheim also through some light on that one. This is a fallacious assumption. You are merely trying to leach off the strength of the irrelevant example to bolster the feeble nature of this argument, which again, is an argument from silence. That take on the nature of those laws assumes some things about the charges which one need not assume.

Moreover, it is a fallacious assumption that Jesus could not be in the tomb, since he was not tried on criminal charges, but for sedition.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Even though he would certainly have been condemned for blasphemy (the Gospels only say the Jews couldn't execute the punishment, not that they didn't find him guilty), it doesn't matter. Any executed man, for any reason whatever (even if executed by a Gentile government: this is a case specifically mentioned), is dishonored by that very fact itself, and only gains his honor back when the flesh atones for the sin by rotting away.</font>
MEta =&gt;I'm afraid that I must ask my worthy opponent to document that assertion. Becasue Brown disputes it. He says that one who was excited for sedition against Rome could be buried on sacred ground by the Jews. There is no statement that Jesus was found guilty of blasphemy. It's true they would have loved to find him guilty of that, but Rome wouldn't have cared and so they had to stick him with the charge of sedition. There is no evidence that he was stuck with blasphemy. Now are you talking about Roman laws or Jewish laws? Because the Jewish ones apply and not the Roman, and Brown shows that they Jewish laws would allow for honored burial for sedition against Rome, in fact that in itself would be badge of honor.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
This required that the body sit in the Graveyard of the Hanged until the bones were free of flesh, at which time they could be gathered and placed in a family tomb (there were many other laws about crucifixion: the family of the crucified had to move out of town or, in large cities, move to the other side of town, until the bones atoned; etc.).
</font>
MEta =&gt;disproven by Brown.

As a seditionist against Rome he would have had the respect of the peple and qualify for his place in an honored tomb.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I think you need to brush up on Jewish Law. First, the law was based on the fact that all bodies, even of the vilest of condemned criminals, were to be honored with burial (and a quick one at that: no one could hang over night). Second, crucifixion itself made the body anathema, it incurred sin from merely undergoing the ordeal, and it was like an uncleanness, which had to be attoned, no matter how noble the man may have been. </font>
MEta=&gt;I think Borwn is an expert and he doesn't need to brush up. And I think the second example is just wrong and I'm sure you wont have any trouble documenting it if you are right.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Third, even if “the people” actually respected Jesus so much as to ensure he got an honored tomb (the choice of Barabbas, and the entire context of his supporters fleeing the city, suggest otherwise), the law did not truck with exceptions here: that honored tomb could only come to him after the flesh left the bones.</font>
Met =&gt; You guessed it (Brown)

You are also assuming that Roman law applied to Jews.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I’m talking about Jewish Law, not Roman Law. External evidence, from Philo and Josephus among others, shows that the Jews were permitted most if not all their laws, even under Pilate (who, despite being the heartless bastard he was, actually acceded to Jewish demands that he remove the legionary standards from the city for violating the commandment against idols). I am happy now that you must agree with me, as you say “The Romans allowed Jewish custom to prevail in such matters.” Exactly. And that is what I am talking about.</font>
MEta =&gt;You are disproven by Brown and tthink by Edersheim.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">"The charge against the prisoner is what would determine where his remains came to rest. If he was a criminal found worthy of death because he committed a crime he would be buried ignominiously in a common grave. However, political desenters crucified by the Romans did not come under this stricture. The Innocent crucified unjustly by foreign powers (Romans) could be given honorable burial."(Ibid. p.1210).

2) Jesus was not exicuted on criminal charges.

Jesus was executed not for criminal charges, but for political insurrection. Thus he would not come under the strictures of the crucified guilty but could be given a decent burial in an honored tomb.

Jesus was executed by the Romans, not for blasphemy, but on the charge of being the King of the Jews. Could this have been regarded as a death not in accordance with the Jewish law and so not subjecting the crucified to dishonorable burial? [Ibid., p. 1211]

</font>
Meta=&gt;They would hardly think that if they knew there was no one to move the body, and if the above reasons were not the case.

I don’t understand what this is objecting to. The behavior of the women is strange, and therefore reads like a dramatic tale, not an actual event. That is my point. Add another acorn to the scale. Watch it tip further.

Meta =&gt;The behavior of the women is not so strange at all. What makes it difficult is the nature of the account. If you are just talking about Mark alone, we don't have the ending we can't be sure what it originally said. Probably more than just the ending has been truncated. The whole fear reaction is probalby a false ending since there is clearly something missing from the end of the account. That in itself is reason enough to suppossed that there was a previous account that Mark was following. At least the "Mark" we know as Mark.

Meta =&gt;Well, I'm not sure what to think about your approach to merely disputing the strength of the evidence without trying to deny it. On the face of it that seems like a fine strategy but it really just means that you are trying to shift the burden of proof.

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No, it is explaining my degree of certainty. History is based on variations in degrees of certainty, not on black or white assertions. Most historical claims are only believable or unbelievable to one degree or another, and if you omit statements about level of belief you are oversimplifying the case.</font>
MEta =&gt;Ture enough, but the overall problem with your appoach is in trying to read the account as though it should be actual history. As though Mark should have a sense of what historical writing is. He should not. Even Jospheus didn't know what historical writing is as we know it.So it is not histoircal writing, but that doesn't mean it isn't based upon real events. You are trying to decide that the core events can't be there merely because it's not historical writing. That's an illogical assumption. Moreover, and worse, you are trying to decide that this was the first account of this story, that it has no prior versions based merely upon the lack of historical writing, which makes no sense at all.

[/QUOTE]
Since I do not think the empty tomb is believable, but at the same time do not think it definitely false, this means my degree of unbelief is relatively low, but it is unbelief nonetheless. There is nothing here about trying to shift the burden of proof: I am fully taking on that burden by demonstrating in detail why I hold the particular belief I do. [/QUOTE]

MEta=&gt; I don't think I said that the empty tomb is unbelieveable. I said it can't proven,it's a matter for faith, but what is highly probable is that Mark was not the first person to think of it. I don't see any reason to assume that; the logic is really based upon the argument form silence and the assumption that the first mention we have must be the first enstance of mention ever. That is just not very likley.

But the burden of proof is yours if the apologist does not try to insist that the empty tomb is certain proof of the resurrection.


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I’m not sure what you now mean by “proof” -- proof of what? You see, I think you are confusing yourself here. When neither side can meet the burden of proof, then nothing is justified: neither firm belief nor firm unbelief, which by default means a weak unbelief is the only justified view (because unresolvable uncertainty is incompatible with belief). But I am more than meeting some burden of proof against belief in an empty tomb: </font>
MEta =&gt;No I think you are confussed about what we are even arguing about. I'm just trying to argue that it is highly unlikey that Mark made it up himself. You are assuming, I think, that I'm trying to prove the resurrection or something; or trying to prove that the empty tomb really existed. To prove my case that it is unlikely that Mark made it up all I need do is show that it is likely that there were prior reprots of it. I have done that in many ways:
1) NO other versions
2) the fact of the community witness
3) passion narrative as single shared source for all four Gospels plus GPete.

Just to name a few.

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surely you will grant that I have added several acorns to the scale, against which is weighed very little (just the story itself, really).</font>
Meta=&gt;Well, you are doing great at mixing metaphors anyway. Fist they were buckets now they are acorns. I think the buckets leak and the acorns have been roasted (do people roast acorns?)


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Though I may not be meeting the burden required for a resolute disbelief, the acorns being small and only weighing a lot together, I have tipped that scale enough that one cannot say for certain that there was an empty tomb. Don’t you agree?</font>

Meta=&gt;No, the proposition is unlikely on its face. To think that a document we have, the first one we know was written no less, is the first mention of the empty tomb is just wildly unlikely. Espeicially when we know the beleif existed before the document, the general beleif in Jesus as risen saviour anyway, and where did he rise from but a tomb.I think unless you are willing to assume no Jesus, or no corss, it is a puzzellment what anyone believed or how Christianity even got going as a faith if there was no resurrection story. And if there was a resurrection story, what did he rise from? I think the no-body res is a silly idea and contradicts all we know about Jewish Messianich expectation.

In that sense it just qualifies as a ground for faith. You have done nothing to shake that and I think to even suggest that you have might actually contradict your position about who does have the burden of proof.


[QUOTE}
If you think faith is something different than belief, you will have to explain how adding faith to the scale affects how it tips: what about “faith” makes a story more true or more believable? Beats me. If they are the same, then I cannot justify faith in the empty tomb: too many acorns are arrayed against it, it has tipped just too far to win that laurel.[/QUOTE]

Meta=&gt;Look, it's not that it makes it more true or more believeable, but that total proof is not requried to have faith. All that is requried is that one find it believeable. That doens't have to proceed based upon histircal evidence per sey. All that is needed is the possibilty of it. That is where the historical evidence comes in. But once the possibility is established it's just up to the individual as a matter of faith as to what is "believeable" or not.

There is some decent reason to think we know the tomb today. There is certainly reason to believe that the tomb was marked since the first century. So if they had a tomb in the first century that is probably the case that they had an empty tomb from the beginning. That’s not proof, but it does increase the probability.


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First, it is universally agreed that the present venerated tomb is in the wrong place (the site “found” by Helen was actually moved by crusaders almost a thousand years later).</font>
MEta =&gt;That's not true. It is most certainly not universal. Cornfeld argued that it was traced to at the least the fourth century and probably the first. The Corbo expidition confirmed the site in 1968.The site was defiled by the Romans and that helped to mark it. But I'm not sure we are talking about the same site, there are three of them. I mean the Chruch of the Holy Seplecure.


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Second, its emptiness even in Helen’s day (4th century) is moot: (1) If it were Joseph’s tomb, it had to be empty after the end of the Sabbath, by Jewish Law; (2) If it were his niche in the Graveyard of the Hanged, Jewish laws of reburial require the bones to be reburied elsewhere in an ossuary after the flesh is gone (this is so whether condemned or not), and bodies could not be lain next to bones, so bones always had to be moved. Thus, by law, Jesus could not be in the tomb he rotted in (unless elsewhere in that tomb--i.e. a large tomb had special niches for ossuaries--but since Jesus would have been in the Graveyard of the Hanged, it is unlikely he would be left there once he was elligible for an honorable reburial). So by then who would know where the body was even if there was one? (3) After the Jewish War, Jerusalem remained in ruins for many years (so much for marks), the Jerusalem church was completely destroyed (there is no longer any such church for centuries in any sources), and when Hadrian put down the Bar Kochba revolt in the 130’s, he banned all Jews from ever entering the city again--and recolonized it with veteran legionaires. It is unlikely Christians, as a Jewish sect (and certainly to some extent an illegal one), were allowed in the city again, which was completely rebuilt as a pagan religious center. This did not change until Constantine’s conversion, and once he reopened Jerusalem, for publicity he sent his mother, Helen, who conveniently advertised the new era (4th century now, two hundreds years having passed) by “finding” the true cross (indeed, all three crosses, lying next to each other) and the sepulchre--which had partly been converted to a temple to Venus, partly buried altogether. How did she know that was “the” tomb? Well, a miracle of course. No other explanation is given. I think you can see there is no reason, much less a “decent” one, to think we know the tomb today, and even if we did, this would mean nothing since by law the body couldn’t be there anyway.</font>
MEta =&gt;Palestinian Christianity did not cease to exist. There were always Christians in Palestine,and in Bethlehem and other places near to Jerusalem up to the 1948 war when the Israelies masacured the lot of them. I've spoken with their decendents.I know this is ture. There always people who could mark the spot. The corbo evidence indicates that we have the right site. The point about it being empty is not improtant. The point is they had a tomb from the first century. That should counter the argument from silence. I've seen the argument made, I think by you, that no tomb was venerated,and that is not so. I said it didn't prove it by itself, it's an anti-acorn.

And against an argument from silence a postive peice of evidence should go a long way.


 
Old 06-08-2001, 11:08 AM   #29
Richard Carrier
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: California, USA
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Meta =&gt; Well as you say, rather than have our debate here, you can't expect me to shoot my wad before we even set it up.

This kind of remark bothers me. Do you think this is a game? A man after the truth, after understanding, does not care where it is done, so why do you? It should not matter whether your case is made here or in the Modern Library, so why are you holding back, as you put it, your "wad"? Is this about secret surprises, concealing information or arguments to unfurl at the last moment to astound the crowds? Or is this about understanding each other's perspective and learning new facts?

As for the lecture in historical methods, why don't you reserve that for someone who isn't on the door step of a Ph.D. in history.

Because they don't need it. You do. You don't even look up basic facts in current reference books. To draw an example from our other debate on the census, you are wont to cite hugely outdated scholarship without taking even a few hours to visit a library and consult recent work (or even a standard reference book in the field). Here, you think I'm talking about Roman Law when I'm talking about Jewish Law (and seem entirely unaware of any of this material), you don't even look into the history of the Holy Sepulchre (that one could get from a mere encyclopedia) before making rather bold claims about it, and you act as if you've never heard a historian say we can't be sure a story is false but we have enough reason to doubt it--you even try to argue that one can't make such an argument (!). You mispell very, very basic names, and cite ancient passages you clearly did not even read. Whereas I draw from examples of historical method outside the topic to illuminate this one, you seem oblivious to the way historians do things in any other field, and are making no effort to find out. You import no examples from a neutral topic as benchmark analogies for your reasoning or claims about method. Instead, you are focussed so intently on "winning" this debate that you aren't even making an effort to learn.

As for your judgment that I don't demonstrate all this deep knowledge of something that I studied long before I went to seminary got a Masters degree in it, let's just get into the blow by blow and we'll see.

Yet you make rather oversimplified statements like that Jesus was tried for sedition, not criminal charges (never mind that there isn't any difference) -- as a Biblical scholar with an M.A. (or M.Div.?) you surely ought to know that the charge is a matter of speculation and conjecture only: we don't in fact know for sure what he was executed for, or whether he was condemned for blasphemy as well. Yet, instead of honestly admitting that there is a valid and unresolved dispute here, that there are no certain facts, you assert this as if it were an unchallenged fact I should have known about (as if I would never have heard of this!). Can you see why I am having a problem with your manner and approach?

Textual criticism and Biblical studies is not your field.You have no fromal training in it form what I can tell and I have.

I do in fact have formal training in palaeography and textual criticism (in classical texts), and have taken courses in the New Testament (and have read the entire thing in the original Greek), I also have formal training in papyrology, classical religions, and of course in historical source and text analysis and comparative methodogy, which is all I need here--for everything we are talking about now is squarely in the historical camp. Instead, here you act so petty, as if you have to respond to my observation with another in kind. This isn't a game: no one is keeping score but your conscience.

so let's leave the ad homs out because I can' the same thing about skepticism.

First, I did not argue you were wrong because you were inexpert (even though, now I can justly call you a hypocrite, you said exactly this about me in regards the Big Bang). To the contrary, I went out of my way to state I wasn't arguing that: yet once again, you don't even pay attention to what I wrote. Second, it is not an ad hominem to note that someone lacks expertise in a field so their unsourced opinions carry less weight: as I noted in the other thread, this does not make us wrong, but it does mean we need to be more humble and cautious than you are behaving.

Meta =&gt;I think it's a lot simpler than that. You can't judge the truth of one
historical event merely by comparing the evidence for it to that for another,


For the second time now: this is not my argument. I am only comparing them to show examples of different relative weights of belief. I am not basing my judgement on either from my judgement in the other. I am using the same exact method for both. Until you get this, I can't help you.

I also doubt that you have considered all of the evidence for the empty tomb. My guess is that you are only familiar with Craig and few other Evangelical apologists' arguments.

Unless you know about some papyrus or hidden book I don't, I am fully aware of all the texts and physical evidence that bear on the case. It is not like some obscure scholar is going to include in his pages some piece of evidence I've never seen. And if by some queer chance this is so, surely you would have pointed it out by now. So what is the point of this objection other than another exhibition of petulence?

If there are good reasons why Paul doesn't mention it, and in fact he may well allude to it, than why would it be prudent to view his silence as any kind of proof at all?

The fact of the matter is that his silence (and not just his, but all the epistolators--esp. 2 Pet. which is especially strange) is in some measure peculiar. To deny that would be an irrational refusal to face facts. You can adjust how far that weighs as you like, but you can't logically deny that it has no weight at all.

MEta =&gt; No. That's an assumption that is stretching things a bit. Why should they know that Jesus' resurrection body was like the resurrection bodies they would someday have according to Paul's theology of the eschatological resurrection? That's not a foregone conclusion.

You are missing the point: they doubted the resurrection generally (whether they accepted that of Jesus or not), yet that is a fundamental piece of the Gospel. So "they knew about it already" is of no relevance in such a case, meaning it does not work as hard as you think in the case of the empty tomb either. And I'll keep repeating myself because I know you don't pay attention: all this only leads to a small weight of suspicion, but a weight nonetheless.

you just use an aside to argue that he should have put in an aside for the empty tomb.

Only because you denied that such a thing could happen. The fact is the letters constitute thousands of words on a large range of subjects: the absence of even a passing reference to the empty tomb is in some measure peculiar. I do not say it is impossible (if I could, then I could settle the case on this point alone). You need to focus, Metacrock, and pay attention to what I am arguing, and stop arguing against some straw-Doherty that I am not.

That is still just argument from silence.

There is nothing wrong with an argument from silence: this is a valid component of any cumulative case. An argument from silence can even in some cases settle an issue, but, and I'll repeat this again because you don't pay attention, this is not one of those cases, and I agree with you that epistolary silence on the empty tomb alone does not entail it is fiction, so stop arguing against a position I don't even hold. Rather, silence is not a given, is slightly peculiar, and is consistent with fiction, therefore it supports an argument for fiction (however much, that can be your call, but surely you must admit it does to some extent). The case requires all the acorns, not just this one, and even then is not decisive, just enough not to have faith that there was an empty tomb just as I have no faith that there was a haunted house at Athens as Lucian's friend describes.

For one who harps on scholarly methods so much, and who prides himself on scholarly caution I would think you would avoid argument from silence all the more.

Now once again you demonstrate that most basic ignorance of historical method I warned you about in the beginning. If you think an argument from silence is not a standard, accepted tool in every historian's toolbox, you are even more naive than I thought. Or are you merely issuing insincere objections, knowing full well that actual historians use arguments from silence all the time? (Or is your reading life so restricted you've never read any works of history outside of Christian subjects?) An argument from silence needs to be properly constructed (there are at least six kinds of evidence that support it, for example (absence, context, peculiarity, analogy, implausibility, and unreliability), and its strength is measured by the strength of all six available for any given case), but it is by no means invalid as you seem to think (or dishonestly assert, I don't know).

When some of these six arguments apply, and only weakly, against no real positive evidence apart from the story itself, there is not enough confidence to have faith (but not enough confidence to deny it either). In contrast, none of these factors applies to the Library case. That is why the story itself is believable--indeed, it instead has five small positive weights, making it more believable than the empty tomb is unbelievable.

Thinking that he had reason to mention it is not proof that his silence means anything. It's just supposition.

It does mean something--maybe I should not criticise you for careless hyperbole? It is not supposition: the silence of all the epistolators is a fact, not a supposition, whereas it is not a fact (though I admit it is a plausible conjecture) that they would never have mentioned it or would never have benefitted from doing so in any of their counter-heretical arguments or apologetics, etc. Therefore, silence here not only is consistent with no empty tomb, it adds some small weight to a case for it. What would be supposition is to assert that Paul implied an empty tomb in 1 Cor. 15 (that is completely ad hoc: it is based on nothing but the bare possibility). In contrast, it is not supposition to assert that 2 Peter's argument would have been stronger and made more sense if the empty tomb were mentioned there.

Meta =&gt;nobody resurrection concept, which was totally unJewish and ignores most of what Paul says. (OK now I guess we have to call in Doherty to debate with him).

Actually, I agree with Doherty on this one point, and this is one issue I have studied very thoroughly (though I need to dive even further into it when I get the chance), and most of my arguments on it are a matter of public record. Others have backing in other scholarship (for example, the "non-Jewish" charge is not only fallacious--baptisms for the dead is non-Jewish, but Paul felt no compulsion to defend it--it is false: a product of Evangelical word games and omission of sources, but that's off-topic).

It's merely arbitrary as to why the tomb must be mentioned in an epistle when no one ever denied it and no alternate version of the story ever existed.

Same with the transfiguration, yet 2 Peter has call to mention it nonetheless, but not the empty tomb.

MEta =&gt;ahah, wait a minute. What you are saying now is 1) the mere fact of silence has to prove your point...

Once again I will repeat myself because you do not pay attention: nowhere have I ever argued this. Stop wasting words arguing against something I have never said. Pay attention. Think. Make some effort to understand where I am coming from and stop trying to play some sort of childish score game. I outgrew that decades ago.

because no argument can be made to counter it since the silence is there and must be taken in this way and this way only; 2) only you can speculate.

Wrong. I have never said you can't speculate at all. Rather, no speculation can stand on thin air. Speculations can be made when reasons can be advanced for them (other than more speculations), and those speculations will only carry as much weight as the reasons advanced for them. Once again, you betray your naivety, and you seem totally incapable of escaping a black and white view of things. And instead of trying to understand my point of view, all you look for is any trivial way to force my words to contradict each other--which prevents you from ever seeing how they in fact harmonize with eachother instead. You will never learn an important thing in your life so long as that is how you approach the world. In fact, you do not even seem to be trying to learn something about why I believe what I do. You seem intent on winning and nothing else. Why?

But it still remains the case that we have no alternate stories, not until several centuries later.

And I have never denied this. Since when do we need alternative stories to doubt a story?

It is unreasonable to think that no other version would survive anywhere.

Yet it is reasonable to think this if there was no tomb--in fact, it is necessarily the case that there would be no "other" stories if there was no story at all. Until you get that, I can't help you.

Meta =&gt;So how would that work?

I will not repeat myself. I already gave several generalized examples above.

I know Ignites does and that is about 110, and that's really the only other writing outside of the NT to even compare to.

I hope that is a type-o. I can't believe an M.A./M.Div. could possibly make that bad a spelling mistake or have so poor a memory about so basic a fact in his discipline.

As I pointed out before, most scholars leave the res claim in the core Passage of Joseph's, so that's not really a fair statement.

Yet there is no empty tomb there. One can import it, but one can also import a "resurrection not of the flesh or the dust of Adam but of the Spirit," so this tips the scale neither way.

Meta =&gt;Here my worthy opponent displays a lack of research familiarity with the topic and the material. This is not guess work, it is far from that.

Assert what you like, I have in fact studied the case quite a bit. I am speaking from experience. I stand by my statement.

It is well proven and well documented;

!!!

Knowing the very arguments you are discussing, I find this an appalling hyperbole. If this is the way you intend to debate, I shall see no point in continuing. Tone down the rhetoric.

but one must have some familiarity with textual criticism.

As I do. More than mere familiarity in fact.

It is textual matter that involves the Diatesseron as well as Egatron 2 and
some other documents.


Which if you really know anything about, you cannot have such blind and excessive confidence as you are putting on here.

MEta =&gt;Ah! I see the ugly specter of "My discipline is the best" raising its head. I'm from an interdisciplinary program so I have learned to respect most disciplines. This is a matter for textual criticism and the evidence for the Passion narrative is just as strong or even stronger than for Q. Scraps of it can be found in the diatesseron and in GPete and Egatron 2.

Which again, if you know anything about, you would know this is not so hot a recommendation. Once again you refuse to read what I write and even this time get some strange idea out of it about what I said that doesn't even remotely resemble my words. The evidence for Q is weak. It is nevertheless stronger than any evidence for any particular Pre-Markan passion narrative (as opposed to an unspecified narrative of uncertain content--I will grant that: in fact I am fairly certain some passion narrative existed in Paul's day, we just don't know what). Therefore, I cannot conscionably believe in the one as much as I do in the other, and I do not hold that much faith in the other to begin with. And don't act like I haven't read the arguments. I have. I know the methods and arguments and materials well. My judgement remains what it is.

I don't claim that we have a document, but we do have good evidence that there was such a document and it is textual evidence.

Perhaps this is a lack of familiarity with jargon. When we say document we do not necessarily mean a physical text (that is called a manuscript). I did not say you claimed to have a mss. As one trained in textual criticism, you should know these terms, surely.

Regarding your quotations, nothing new. None of those arguments even suggest a date, nor establish what existed at any particular date. I should not have to educate you on the basics of textual analysis, but just in case you are forgetting them: textual analysis can establish dependency or mutual relationship, but a specific relationship (without error statistics or objective dating) is generally impossible. Moreover, comparative textual analysis does not produce a date. Dates require other measures (internal or external). Moreover, because of the problems of cross-contamination, retrodiction, and normalization, among other things, reconstructed documents are rarely established with much confidence in categories where these phenomena are highly frequent--such as Christian texts: the rate of these phenomena is in fact remarkably higher in the Christian genre than in any other, with the possible exception of the vulgate Homeric texts and some similar examples. The Diatessaron is especially plagued with these problems. In fact, in documents for which only a few parts or exemplars exist, these problems are far more vexing--it is only because of the huge number of families of texts and the lucky coincidence of a split between Eastern and Western traditions, that as much confidence in the canonical texts can be established as we have been able, though even there there are countless headaches.

But despite your hyperbole, you know all this. So are you being dishonest with me? Are you being insincere?

The unknown Gospel of Egatron 2 was discovered in Egypt in 1935 exiting in two different manuscripts.

Ummmm....you are aware that this is in fact only one mss., comprised of four scraps of papyrus constituting only thirty to fifty legible lines (about ninety in all), clearly bits of two leaves in the same codex? You didn't even seem to notice it contains no part of the passion narrative. It is therefore wholly and utterly irrelevant here. Why, then, bring it up? Why do you think it has anything to do with reconstructing a pre-Markan passion narrative?

Worse, this makes three times now you have spelled it "Egatron." I thought the first time was a type-o. The second, maybe. But not a third (and more: even in an exact quote from Daniels no less! And the title of his dissertation as well). How can a scholar be making this mistake? Is it a coincidence that this misspelling is repeated twice in only one other place online: your webpage! Are you, then, cribbing from that and not actually reading anything carefully on this mss.? How is it possible that you don't know it is P.Egerton 2, named after Dr. Egerton, the one who found the papyrus leaves in question? How do you expect me to take you seriously if you aren't even taking your research seriously?

MEta =&gt;Very few scholars are willing to claim that the whole passage was made up out of whole cloth. The Arabic passage proves that there was a core passage.

See how naively black and white everything is to you? The Arabic text proves there was a core passage? Hyperbole again? I will admit the Arabic text lends credence to the core theory, but it does not entail it by any means, as the example of the Slavic mss. of the JW demonstrates.

Meta =&gt;I never try to argue that Jo's mention of these things proves them. He attests to the claim to the res. Showing that it was made before his time.

But no one disputes that the resurrection of Jesus was claimed before Josephus wrote.

MEta =&gt;No Paul never says "Of the Spirit "ONLY"" he says that the flesh is transformed, that's why he compares one kind of flesh to another, so obviously he's talking about a form of flesh.

That is disputable, not a given fact. If you want to argue against my case for this, write a rebuttal to the relevant sections of my essay on the resurrection and submit it to infidel@infidels.org.

And the notion of a "resurrection" of nothing but a spirit is ghost,

I wouldn't 'assume' that "ghost" meant the same thing as a resurrected spirit in antiquity. The ancient categories were different in concept than today's.

contrary to Jewish belief about resurrection and would impress no one.

Contrary only to Pharisaic Judaism, not Essene or other fringe sects. Essene resurrection eschatology held that bodies could not inherit the kingdom and that souls are resurrected. Even Pharisaic eschatology allowed this doctrine into its theology, but accomodated it by distinguishing the End Times resurrection and the taking up of the spirit into heaven or hell. But this distinction was not so clear cut in other sects, and in fact was absent from Essene theology. The fact that Paul has to spend so much time explaining it is consistent with the fact that he is not holding the standard Pharisaic view (which would not be surprising, as he rejected many other Pharisaic doctrines when he converted).

Meta =&gt;Fallacious to assume that only those two guys, Matt and John could be eye witnesses.

So could Lucian's friend be an eyewitness of the haunted house, or the onlookers of Rome be an eyewitness of the resurrected spirit of Peregrinus. Anyone can claim they are an eye witness, but when a document has someone claim to be an eye witness yet who never even says who he is, gives no name or biographical information (and never distinguishes what he saw from what he was told--for surely he couldn't have seen everything), you are not entitled to be confident this is an eye-witness document. Matthew certainly is not an eyewitness--his retelling of the death of Jesus is almost as fantastic as a legend can get.

The eye witnesses were the community and the Gospel is the production of the community.

Now if you know anything about recent studies on oral history in faith communities, you should know this is no hot recommendation.

MEta =&gt; OH OH, my worthy opponent is having trouble being quite worthy enough. Come on now, we aren't a court of law.

Yet you are acting as if your evidence is impugnable, when in fact it fails one standard of admissability altogether. You need to learn the lesson of history: court rulings are fairly reliable because of their high standards; history lacks such high standards thus its rulings are less reliable, and historians long learn to deal with this: history is chock full of uncertainty. You still can't escape a black and white view of historical claims. I have tried and tried to enlighten you, but you remain willfully ignorant even now. A man who pays me no respect, makes no effort to understand me, is not someone I care to debate. It would be a waste of time, as even you must agree.

I'm not convinced that courts are even half way venues for logical argument. 6% of all convictions are of innocent people.

And yet history's conclusions are even less reliable than that. Now do you get it? If only all historical judgements could be 94% trustworthy! But few are.

But the real problem is, why a court room model? and moreover since you aren't a lawyer you are no judge of what would fly in a court.

No judge? I am tiring of this childish, petulant hyperbole. Any one who gives a damn about his citizenship ought to study the democratic and legal system he has inherited from his forefathers, and as a patriot I have done so quite a bit. Haven't you? Stop all this stupid "you don't know so you're wrong" baloney--if I'm wrong, show me the contrary evidence. Otherwise, I'm telling you what I know, and it is ridiculous of you to impugn me for knowing it and to deny that I could.

The irony is I have several friends who are lawyers and who argue on message boards, guess who one of them is? someone you all regularly think would not make it in a court of law, but he does and does quite well. But the thing is, he knows what would work in a court and you don't and he argues exactly what you say would not work in a court.

And he says what about unsigned documents?

Now the thing is historians are better judges of these things than lawyers anyway, so let's just leave courts out of this.

Judges, not lawyers per se, and not individual judges, but countless judges in developing an evolving system of precedents, and the rules of court procedure have developed over 3000 years of practice and trial and error, evolving through natural selection into the most exacting method of inquiry outside of science. Its standards are in fact too high for most questions of the world, and for a reason: they can't afford to make more mistakes than historians.

But I say you are being ethnocentric in excluding the word of a whole community just because you don't know their names.

Ethnocentric!!!???

Now you are really going too far with baloney rhetoric. You aren't even attempting to give my position an ounce of attention and respect.

If we trace the Gospel accounts their origins they are not rooted in the imaginations of those four guys, they are rooted in the initial Easter hoopla of the people of canna, of Jerusalem and of Bethany.

Indeed, but this tells us nothing about what details are original and what not. That is the only point at issue here. Pay attention. Focus.

Peasants who say the events themselves and banded together to retell them and to spread the glorious word that had given them hope. There is no reason to suppose they did not see something!

And yet I have never, ever denied that they did. Once again you ignore my own argument, my own statements, my own position, and criticise me for beliefs I don't even have.

MEta =&gt;That whole hoax thing is an absurd argument.

Who said anything about a hoax? Paul got the Gospel from a revelation, alone, on the road to Damascus. That didn't have to be a hoax: since Paul admits it fully, he clearly believed that was a legitimate way to learn it; in fact, he even assumes that it was the most legitimate way to learn it. Mark may well have shared this attitude completely, and have actually learned it all in visions. No hoax is necessary. And this has nothing to do with whether there was some true story behind it--it only has to do with the details Mark decided to testify to.

MEta =&gt;So even though each one of those buckets leak when you put them all together they hold water, right?

You aren't even getting it. The buckets don't leak--at best, even granting everything you say, all that changes is that they carry less water. They still carry some in the end and that is my point. You have never conceded so simple a point, and that suggests to me that you are insincere.

MEta =&gt;Out the door is as far as it has to go. And argument from silence is not enough to overturn premia facie presumption.

It certainly can be, and until you understand this, I can't help you.

When one examines the context one finds that the story makes no sense without an empty tomb.

Nonsense. Paul's story makes sense without it: he died, was buried, and appeared to Peter. Are you saying that doesn't make sense?

How it could get started long after the faith was established is very difficult to see

I adress this in both my Resurrection essays.

Most scholars, like the vast majority, assume that Mark had some prior tradition to work with and it is absurdly absurd to think that he could just invent it out of whole cloth and everyone would accept it.

You have no problem, I assume, with Matthew inventing an eclipse and earthquake and hoarde of zombies descending on Jerusalem, and everyone believed that. Why, then, would they disbelieve something far less marvelous in Mark?

And again, if that could be done, and if there was no original historical event to play off of than why aren't there other versions? Why couldn't other make up that Jesus was stabbed? Or hung? Or stoned?

What does that have to do with an empty tomb? Focus, Metacrock. Pay attention.

Since to make the claim itself invites counter charges that no one remembers a tomb, no one ever saw it.

If anyone of that category was around anymore, had the means to be heard, had his texts copied and recopied for centuries by the Orthodox who didn't want to hear it, and could somehow convince this sect of True Believers not to buy it. Not so simple. In contrast, we have several examples of legends quickly arising despite plenty of witnesses still living who could naysay it. My essays cover some of those examples, even cases where no surviving naysayers exist. I've mentioned one above already, and there are many others (from Roswell to the Cargo Cult).

But you should know these things. Why don't you?


[This message has been edited by Richard Carrier (edited June 08, 2001).]
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Old 06-08-2001, 11:11 AM   #30
Richard Carrier
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Metacrock,

I do not see any effort on your part to try to understand me, you are making all kinds of inexcusable errors (the two misspellings above being just the strangest examples), are not contributing anything new to the discussion, no analogies from outside the case, no new facts, you keep misreading what I write, you engage in rampant hyperbole, you keep denying that historians can argue the way they nevertheless all do, you often confuse the weight of an argument with its form, accuse me of not knowing things that in fact I have studied, show no awareness of Jewish Law, and somtimes don't even read the ancient sources you cite for an argument. When I began this I thought you were sincere, respectful, and had done some research into this and understood how historians worked their craft. You have revealed yourself to be quite the opposite. I am not going to continue this debate. It is not educational. I am weary of repeating myself over and over again and being misunderstood over and over again and being nitpicked over and over again. There is nothing productive in your approach and I don't see how it benefits anyone but your ego.

[This message has been edited by Richard Carrier (edited June 08, 2001).]
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