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Old 05-16-2001, 12:34 AM   #21
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I have to stick to my point that if the baptism of Jesus is something you accept as real, when at the same time you accept Jesus is God, you yourself are happy reconciling these two issues. So how can you claim that these two issues combined lead to embarrasment? It is either an embarassment or it is not. If it is one to you, can you please explain which of the two issues is the false one? And if it is not an embarrasment to you, why maintain that it would have been one to the gospel writers?

Moreover, even if we assume that the gospelwriter(s) honestly believed that Jesus was baptised by John, because that was the oral tradition they were writing down, does tha mean that therefore this event must have happened? Don't you know how stories get changed and embellished over time, for a host of reasons?

Finally, can you please address the question of whether Jesus the Man could have been without sin? Part of being human is doing (some) of the things called 'sin' by the Christian church. If the gospel writers would have seen Jesus in this light, surely his baptism is not that far-fetched? I could accept that they thought he only became 'righteous' after having been filled with the Holy Spirit, immediately after his baptism by John. Who are you to state categorically that this line of thinking cannot possibly be true?

I am not saying that the baptism demonstrates that Jesus is a fictional person - not at all. But to claim that it proves that he is historical is stretching the argument beyond breaking point, because it is inconsistent and simplistic.

Had John the Baptist left us some writings, in which he descibes the baptism of Jesus, things would have been different. We don't have that. Admit it and move on, please.

fG
 
Old 05-16-2001, 01:35 PM   #22
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Originally posted by Nomad:
Alright, so the only evidence you are willing to consider is archeological evidence. Fair enough, but we still won't know anything about history Michael.

This is a non-argument. I DID NOT say it was the ONLY evidence I'd be willing to consider. I am not going to discuss your bizarre interpretations of plain English. Read the statement starting with "Even if....." again.

As for the letters from Cicero re: Caesar's assassination, we have already covered this off. Cicero was known to lie to advance his own cause, so we should not trust him as a source. And as for an archeological find in which an inscription refers to the asssassination, how naive can you get Michael?

Octavian/Augustus and Mark Antony won the war against the "assassins" and the Julian family and its successors ruled the empire for over a hundred years. If the inscription was made during this time frame, then obviously it was made with the permission-authorization of one of these two tainted sources. If it was later, then it is based on hearsay evidence that was almost certainly under the control of the Caesars.

Face it Michael, using your criteria, we just don't have any means to know anything about history.

Thanks for your thoughts however.

Nomad


What criteria? It's all in your head, Nomad.

Michael
 
Old 05-16-2001, 01:36 PM   #23
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
I'm having a hard time understanding the skeptic obsession with engravings and coins. It is not as if any of the witnesses of the assisnation of Ceasar (if it indeed occurred) ran out and personally carved any inscriptions themselves. In fact, the inscribers most likely are merely second, third, or fourth hand recipients of the knowledge of which they write.

Of course, proving who did the inscribing would also appear to be highly problematic. Are they anoynmous? If not, how can we verify they were who they claimed to be?

And it is a specious argument anyway. Whatever help some archeological finds may be, the fact is that historians DO rely heavily on the ancient writings about the Roman Empire. I have yet to see anyone publish a paper or book entitled, "The History of Rome Based ONLY On Engravings and Coins."
</font>
Like I said, I never said they didn't. &gt;sigh&lt;

Michael
 
Old 05-16-2001, 03:36 PM   #24
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
I'm having a hard time understanding the skeptic obsession with engravings and coins. It is not as if any of the witnesses of the assisnation of Ceasar (if it indeed occurred) ran out and personally carved any inscriptions themselves. In fact, the inscribers most likely are merely second, third, or fourth hand recipients of the knowledge of which they write.
</font>
Don't watch CNN, MSNBC, or any other news program anchored by a talking head. If you did, you'd be getting your information by third, fourth, or worse hand accounts of the news of today. And that just wouldn't do, would it?
 
Old 05-16-2001, 07:14 PM   #25
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by faded_Glory:

I have to stick to my point that if the baptism of Jesus is something you accept as real, when at the same time you accept Jesus is God, you yourself are happy reconciling these two issues. So how can you claim that these two issues combined lead to embarrasment?</font>
To understand the embarrassment involved in the relationship of Jesus and John, we have to remember the context of the times, and of the Messianic expectations of 1st Century Jews.

From a purely historical point of view, there is no question that John the Baptist was a bigger fish in his day than was Jesus. Josephus credits the disasters associated with Herod Antipas with his execution of the holy man. By contrast, even if we took the Testimonium Flavius at face value, Jesus barely rates a mention. Josephus' only apparent interest in Jesus was really because He was related to James the Just (whose unjust execution helped trigger the Jewish Revolt of 66AD). If we were to look for a modern equivilant, think of the amount of attention history has paid to Joe Kennedy Jr. compared to that of his younger brothers John and Robert. On this basis it is little wonder that the evangelists have a big problem on their hands with John. He was a big name in the region, and at least a hero. Trashing him would have been impossible (since many of the followers of Jesus were also followers of JB), but they could hardly make him Jesus' equal.

And as for the problem of why Jesus' submission would be a problem for the supposed Messiah, this runs counter to Jewish expectations for the Messiah. No Jew would have expected their Messiah to have been subject to anyone, especially a mere prophet.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">It is either an embarassment or it is not. If it is one to you, can you please explain which of the two issues is the false one? And if it is not an embarrasment to you, why maintain that it would have been one to the gospel writers?</font>
It is not a problem or an embarrassment for me because I do not think that the Jews properly understood their Messianic prophecies. If I did, I would probably become a Jew. Remember that the big problem the first Christians had was convincing their fellow Jews. Before 62AD (when James was executed) Christianity was focused largely on converting Jews, and the head quarters was in Jerusalem. Having to admit that the Messiah that they were preaching did not live up to Jewish Messianic expectations created a big problem for them when trying to convince the Jews that Jesus was the one. Clearly the lack of success in converting Jews throughout history has served to underscore this fact, and to this day, the belief that Jesus did not fulfill prophecies in Hebrew Scriptures is the biggest stumbling block in evangelizing to the Jews.

Basically, the evangelists had no reason to make their own lives more difficult, and to make their message harder to sell to their fellow Jews. The only reason to explain why they did this was because it was not possible for them to deny the fact that Jesus was baptized by John.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Moreover, even if we assume that the gospelwriter(s) honestly believed that Jesus was baptised by John, because that was the oral tradition they were writing down, does tha mean that therefore this event must have happened? Don't you know how stories get changed and embellished over time, for a host of reasons?</font>
While it is true that stories would and could get changed, if that had happened in this case, Jesus would have ended up not being baptized at all (as we find in the 4th Century Gospel of the Nazarenes) or would have been the one to Baptize John.

As it was, the belief amongst historians is that the evangelists did the best that they could, and minimized John's role, and ascribed words to him that do not appear to be historical, all with the intention of making the baptism of Jesus less embarrassing than it already was.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Finally, can you please address the question of whether Jesus the Man could have been without sin? Part of being human is doing (some) of the things called 'sin' by the Christian church.</font>
Man was originally created perfect, and without sin. It was the sin of Adam and Eve that caused the Fall. But Jesus remained perfect His entire life, living as God had intended all human beings to live, in perfect accordance with His will. This is why Jesus repeatedly tells us that He is doing not His own will, but that of His Father in Heaven, and that we are to follow that example.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">If the gospel writers would have seen Jesus in this light, surely his baptism is not that far-fetched?</font>
I believe (as to most Christians) that Jesus' baptism serves as an example we are to follow, and by submitting to God's will, and undergoing the ritual of baptism for the remission of our sins, we are forgiven. At the same time, this message was rejected (and is still rejected by the vast majority of Jews to this very day) because it runs counter to their Messianic expectations. As I said above, the evangelists did not HAVE to include this story, but they did. The best explanation for them doing so was that they could not leave it out. Too many of their readers already knew about it.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I could accept that they thought he only became 'righteous' after having been filled with the Holy Spirit, immediately after his baptism by John. Who are you to state categorically that this line of thinking cannot possibly be true?</font>
This was actually the root of an early heresy called Donastism. Very briefly, they taught that Jesus as Christ appeared to only resemble a man, but was not actually a real human being. In other words, he was a kind of vessel for God the Son, but was not himself God. Very clearly, this idea is not Scriptural, and neither the Gospels, nor the NT epistles support this view.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I am not saying that the baptism demonstrates that Jesus is a fictional person - not at all. But to claim that it proves that he is historical is stretching the argument beyond breaking point, because it is inconsistent and simplistic.</font>
Actually, it is universally accepted by historians and theologians alike as one of the most powerful arguments for the historical Jesus. It links Him to another ancient known to us, namely John, and the embarrassing nature of the event of His baptism makes it a near certainty that it happened. If it had not happened, then it is a guarantee that the evangelists would not have wanted to invent it.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Had John the Baptist left us some writings, in which he descibes the baptism of Jesus, things would have been different.</font>
I doubt it. My guess is that the mythicists would simply tell us that it was a later Christian interpolation to make the event look like it really happened.

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited May 16, 2001).]
 
Old 05-16-2001, 07:22 PM   #26
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by sentinel00:
Don't watch CNN, MSNBC, or any other news program anchored by a talking head. If you did, you'd be getting your information by third, fourth, or worse hand accounts of the news of today. And that just wouldn't do, would it?</font>
Thank you for helping me to make my point Sentinel. I do generally accept the information , if not the spin, I get from the cable news channels.
 
Old 05-17-2001, 05:38 AM   #27
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Nomad,

If we accept Mark as the first, most 'original' gospel, it appears that Jesus was originally not understood to be God, but at most a messenger of God, ie. some kind of prophet. Nowehere in Mark does it say that Jesus is God, on the contrary, it says: "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God." The implication is clear. (By the way, talking about an embarrassing statement!- does this also 'prove' that Jesus existed? Or does it just prove that your concept of Jesus is quite a bit different from Mark's?)

Within this context it is quite possible to come up with one prophet, John, baptising the next one, Jesus. If Jesus is a fictional character, describing an interaction between him and John, a historical person, would lend strength to the claim that Jesus was historical as well - if this was Mark's purpose, he seems to have done a good job!

You are looking at this thing far too much with 20/20 hindsight, looking at the bible as one single monolithic entity.

Is Mark actually claiming that Jesus is the Messiah? Or is this again an later expansion, a further development of the person he presents? Once particular elements are part of the story it may be difficult to delete them, which is why we still have the baptism story in the later gospels, when Jesus has grown into much more than Mark may ever have intended. The embarassment may stem from the change in Jesus' role, rather than from an a priori contradiction.

You see, there are so many ways of interpreting why the baptism story is in there, that it hardly counts as decisive evidence.

You call my suggestion that Jesus only became 'righteous' after his baptism 'heresy'. Apart from the fact that this is a funny word to use in a supposedly historical discussion, it is again based on your a priori assumption that the various elements of the bible form one consistent entity, because they are true and the word of God. This, in case you forgot, is under discussion, so it cannot be used as an argument. For if Jesus never existed, all biblical traditions about him are necessarily fictional, and any basis for why they should form one consistent entity is lost.

So, what is your historical evidence that Mark didn't think of 'his' Jesus as a man, who at some point in his life became filled with the Holy Spirit and from then on acted as a messenger from God to mankind?

fG


 
Old 05-17-2001, 09:50 AM   #28
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by faded_Glory:

If we accept Mark as the first, most 'original' gospel, it appears that Jesus was originally not understood to be God, but at most a messenger of God, ie. some kind of prophet.</font>
No, Mark is absolutely positive that Jesus is the Messiah, and this, to 1st Century Palestinian Jews meant the Son of God (see the opening line from Mark 1:1, then the description of John in verses 2-4, see also Peter's confession of 8:29, as well as Jesus' confession of 14:61-62. It is also accepted that the Son of David and Son of Man descriptions given in Mark and the other Gospels was common parlance for the Messiah). Whether or not Mark also saw Jesus as God Himself is another question, but not important in the discussion of an historical Jesus. On this question there can be no doubt that Mark thought that Jesus was a very real human being. (On another issue, but one that I would prefer to save for my discussion with Earl, we are also going to be looking at what the pre-Gospel traditions thought about Jesus. There were the sources used by Mark, Matt, Luke and John, and at the end of the day it is here that we are going to exect to come closest to seeing who Jesus was, and what He and His disciples thought about Him.)

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Nowehere in Mark does it say that Jesus is God, on the contrary, it says: "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God." The implication is clear. (By the way, talking about an embarrassing statement!- does this also 'prove' that Jesus existed? Or does it just prove that your concept of Jesus is quite a bit different from Mark's?)</font>
Mark and Jesus tells us that He is the Messiah, the Christ. That was the purpose for the Gospel in the first place, that those that read it would know this fact. And yes, the statement where Jesus rebukes people for calling Him good is seen as very embarrassing, especially by liberal theologians and secular scholars. Christian exegesis on this passage is a bit more complex. Interestingly, for different reasons, it is considered to be one of the most certain and genuine statements to be attributed to the historical Jesus.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You are looking at this thing far too much with 20/20 hindsight, looking at the bible as one single monolithic entity. </font>
No fG, I am looking at the text as would a 1st Century observant Jew. For them the Scripture was a unity, the Word of God. Mark and the other evangelists had to connect Jesus to that Scripture, or their claim was going to be rejected. Embarrassments like the baptism of the supposed Messiah is viewed by scholars as historical exactly because it is so unexpected, and so counter to the interests of the evangelists and their message. The fact that a majority of Jews rejected Jesus' Messiaship because of these embarrassments lends further credibility to the belief that the story had to be reported because it was too well known in the early oral traditions to be ignored.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Is Mark actually claiming that Jesus is the Messiah?</font>
Yes. See the passages I have offered above, as well as the Son of Man sayings (which connect Jesus to the Messianic prophecies found especially in Daniel).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You call my suggestion that Jesus only became 'righteous' after his baptism 'heresy'. Apart from the fact that this is a funny word to use in a supposedly historical discussion, it is again based on your a priori assumption that the various elements of the bible form one consistent entity, because they are true and the word of God.</font>
When we are talking about the historical Jesus and the NT Canons, you must remember that they were all written by religious people for religious people, all of whom accepted the Hebrew Scriptures as a coherent and united whole that represented the true Word of God. Embarrassing details that appear out of place with the Hebrew Scriptures, but were included regardless of this problem are seen as being in the original story because it happened, and could not be ignored.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> This, in case you forgot, is under discussion, so it cannot be used as an argument. For if Jesus never existed, all biblical traditions about him are necessarily fictional, and any basis for why they should form one consistent entity is lost.</font>
The Gospels and NT epistles were not a part of Scripture at the time they were written. That did not happen until much later, and even then they were obviously rejected as Scripture by the Jews. At the same time, clearly the NT authors did want to connect their message to the Hebrew Scriptures, and show that Jesus was the prophecied Messiah. That they reported things about Jesus that did not line up with these expectations rooted in Hebrew Scripture can only be chalked up to the fact that the stories were so well known (IOW they happened), that they could not be left out of the Gospel accounts of the historical life and ministry of Jesus.

Remember, if Matt, Mark, Luke and John were making Jesus out of whole cloth, then they would have been much more careful to make sure that the story did not have any elements that were embarrassing, or undermined the claim that Jesus was the Messiah.

Nomad
 
Old 05-17-2001, 10:44 AM   #29
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Why is it embarassing to have the Messiah baptized by another? I can see the logical problem if Jesus is God and born without sin, because then then there is no reason to baptize to remove the sin. But the Jewish Messiah is conceived by Jews as a person with a political mission, not a god or a part of god. The Messiah (translated as the Anointed One, which translates into Greek as the Christ) has to be anointed by someone.
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Old 05-17-2001, 12:37 PM   #30
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Nomad:
Remember, if Matt, Mark, Luke and John were making Jesus out of whole cloth, then they would have been much more careful to make sure that the story did not have any elements that were embarrassing, or undermined the claim that Jesus was the Messiah.

Not necessarily.

First of all, you misunderstand (I think deliberately so) "myth." Something like Asimov's _The Foundation Trilogy_ is made up out of whole cloth. I don't think any of us who take the position that the NT is largely myth takes the position that Mark sat down one day and dreamed it all up. Rather, "Mark" had an existing corpus of myth that he reworked using his imagination and background, as did all the gospel writers. That is why "myth" differs from "fabrication." Fabrication has an element of deliberate artifice that "myth" does not. Myth is an organic outgrowth of complex sociological and cultural elements. Myth has no one author, and there is no one story.

Myths that convey legitimacy on mythologized figures by linking them to other mythic (i do not mean "fictional") figures are not exactly uncommon (look at all the Kings who descended from the gods). In fact, the messiah tradition of the hebrews itself does this, by demanding that the messiah be of the line of David!


A "mythic" explanation of JtB's baptism of Jesus is all-too-easy to come by -- Mark would have had to explain how, if Jesus was really the Messiah, why a really major figure like JtB didn't recognize him somehow. You can imagine what the skeptics would be saying if JtB hadn't baptized Jesus: "Hey! Explain why the prominent rebel John the Baptist never ran into Jesus, even though they were preaching at the same time in the same place!"

The existence of a multitude of highly plausible alternatives shows why the embarrassment criterion is only an "embarrassment" to its wielders.

Further, where in the OT does it say that the Messiah will not baptized?

Nomad, we do not know what would be acceptable to first-century jews who had strong folk traditions of magic, prophecy, exorcism, and healing, as well as nursing a messianic savior cult and a deadly grudge against their colonial overlords. Further, we do not know what would be acceptable to Mark's audience (Mark was writing for someone), and we do not know what was acceptable for Mark. We can't just make sweeping statements "jews wouldn't do X" when in fact there might be jews who would do X from time to time, and others who would make a habit of it. People just don't fit into neat categories.

Another issue is that indeed some people were recognized as messiah from time to time. Simon Bar-Cochba, the rebel who got the jews annihilated in 135, was proclaimed messiah by the famous Rabbi Akiba, so, yes, it would appear that the messiah needed to be recognized and proclaimed by lesser mortals.

Of course, the Jews did not accept Jesus as a Messiah, the Christians did. Messianism continued, going through revivals as Jewish fortunes waxed and waned. The Christian position is that the Jewish messiah came but the Jews somehow missed it. The Jews in fact rejected Jesus, by and large. So to explain Jesus in terms of what first-century Jews would or would not do about their messiah is problematic. We only know what first-century Christians did, and they accepted a tradition that JtB had baptized Jesus and incorporated it into their burgeoning Jesus mythos. We know that first-century Christians did other un-jewish things, like set aside dietary laws, make circumcision optional, make no distinction between jews and outsiders under god, recognize someone as messiah who did not come from the Davidic line, usher in an era of world peace and hold the kingship over the jewish state, and so on. Obviously the Christians did not consider themselves strictly bound by the jewish scriptures, customs and beliefs.

In sum, many plausible stories could be constructed, and there is not enough evidence to conclude that such an event did or did not actually occur.

Michael




[This message has been edited by turtonm (edited May 17, 2001).]
 
 

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