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Old 06-04-2001, 10:00 PM   #91
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Toto:

Josephus mentions John and his beliefs. If John the Baptist were only in the Gospels, he could be mythical.</font>
LOL! You don't even see the fallacies in your own arguments, do you Toto?

Tell me, how many people in the Gospels are mythical exactly? Josephus is not mentioned in any source outside of his own writings, and we do not have any extant copies of his writings until the 10th Century. Why do you believe that he existed, let alone John the Baptist? You did know that some people thought that Pontius Pilate was fictional at one time too, right?

Once you get over your personal prejudice against the Gospels as recorders of history, you may actually be able to carry on a conversation on topics like this Toto.

Until then, you still have a lot of work to do. For now, please give me your personal criteria to decide if anything from the ancients is historical. I would like to see what you use.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The Qumram community appears to have used baptism as a standard rite, so the Messiah would also be baptized.</font>
Well, since the Qumran community was not Christian, nor do we have any evidence that this community influenced early Christians (or vice versa), what does this matter? After 68 they had no effect on Jewish thought, and even prior to this date we have no evidence that they had an impact on general Jewish Messianic expectations.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You are making the assumption that the point of the Gospels was to prove to "the Jews" that Jesus was the Messiah. Do you have any proof of this?</font>
All of the books of the Bible, excepting possibly Luke/Acts was written by Jews, and primarily to Jews. All of the first Christians were Jews. The Church in Jerusalem was the most important in the Christian world at least until James was killed in 62AD. Jews constituted an important, and probable majority in the Christian community for it first half century of existence. Since this is the time fram within which much of the NT was written, including the Gospels, it is a pretty safe bet that it was written for the Jews.

Now, do you have any evidence that the principle audience for Mark or Matthew was Gentile?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> It appears more that the Gospels were recording the beliefs of a new religion, in which Jesus was a savior for all mankind who grew out of the Jewish Messiah. After all, the Jewish Messiah was supposed to be a military leader, and that route had failed.</font>
The first part is right, as is the second bit, and this is another embarrassment for the evangelists (and Paul) when they tried to preach to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. They did this inspite of the fact that he did not meet 1st Century Jewish Messianic expectations. How odd, no, especially if they were just making it up?

You continue to make good points, and ask good questions that point to a very historical Jesus. Thank you for that much Toto. Now please read more about the sources and material itself (and not all of it off the internet please), and show us that you can apply some genuinely sceptical thinking to the evidence.

Nomad
 
Old 06-04-2001, 10:07 PM   #92
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:</font>
Hello Michael

I once had a discussion with an individual that asserted that there was not such thing as true altruism. All of us (according to this person) were motivated solely by selfishness.

After a brief time I gave up attempting to reason with this person, since no example I could offer would disuade him from his nonsensical position. His circle was fully closed, and each time I offered a new example of altruistic behaviour, he would reply that since we could not really know the motives of the person doing the action, we could not be certain that he was not simply being selfish in his own way. After all, how does one prove the motives of another? Especially one who is long dead?

You have told me that Mark would not include any material that he found embarrassing in his Gospel. I have since learned that no amount of proofs or evidence will disuade you from your stated belief. I also respect that you have the right to your opinion, and will not attempt to change you mind. Quite frankly, I see no means by which to do that, and will not even bother to try.

I will ask one final question, however, is there any means you know of that could actually prove what motivated Mark about anything?

Thanks,

Nomad
 
Old 06-04-2001, 10:49 PM   #93
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I think it is about time to wrap up here Philip, so after this response, if you wish it, I will give you the last word on this thread.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Earl:

For example, you keep repeating that the Jews wouldn't have expected the Messiah to be baptized, so therefore Mark, a CHRISTIAN rather than a Jew, would have been embarrassed to include such a story in his narrative.</font>
I really do wonder at your reading comprehension skills when you offer such nonsense Philip. Where have I said that Mark was not a Jew? He was, of course, a Jewish Christian, as were all of the other authors of the Bible (possibly excepting Luke). On this basis, he thought like a Jew, and was familiar with the Jewish expectations for the Messiah. Having this Messiah submit to any power except for God alone was not one of those expectations, and any way you slice it, the baptism of Jesus shows Him submitting to another man.

It may even show that he was sinful (or in need of spiritual cleansing at the very least), although I do not hang my hat on this argument. Whatever the case may be, sceptical scholars have all agreed that this event is among the most embarrassing told by the evangelists, and I have tried to help you understand why this is the case. You have, instead, chosen to accept the Christian apologetic offered in the Gospels themselves to "prove" to your satisfaction that nothing embarrassing happened at all.

Such is your right, and as I have said before, I appreciate the irony of your argument, and welcome you to the Christian camp, at least on this point. That said, I find your inability to understand how 1st Century Jews thought about the matter to be most interesting.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> But as has been pointed out numerous times now, the OT doesn't (1) contain a moment by moment expected history of the Messiah,</font>
Since I have never argued that it did this, I have found this particular strawman to be quite interesting as well. Like all strawmen, of course, it is also irrelevant.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> (2) preclude baptism for the Messiah,</font>
I have asked you to show where Hebrew Scripture tells us that anyone needs to be baptized Philip. Your repeated refusal to offer such evidence (largely because there is none, of course, but it would help if you would simply say so) has been disheartening. I suppose you deny that the Jews had (and have) very specific criterion for what the Messiah will be like, and what he will do. An odd position to take for a sceptic, but it is yours to defend.

In any event, it would help if anyone here would offer a reason as to why, according to the Jews, the Messiah would be baptized (except for the Christian ones of course, after all, we would not want Christian apologetics to be acceptable evidence now, would we?).

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> and (3) assume the Messiah would be sinless, and therefore couldn't use a baptism or two.</font>
I thought you were arguing that John's baptism was not seen as being for the remission of sins. This is another of your troubling habits. I do not wish to continue shooting at moving targets Philip. I wish that you would pick a line of reasoning and stick with it.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Mark was not writing simply for Jews. Rather he was writing for people perhaps with a Jewish background but who were members of a brand new growing spiritual movement, or cult, called Christianity. Mark could very easily have said to himself "So those Jews don't like baptism, eh? Well, I think John was an important teacher, and I like the idea that Jesus was baptized by John, so I'm including the story anyway."</font>
LOL! Back to using your "if I can dream it up, then it just might be true arguments, eh Philip? I do wish you could offer some evidence for your theories however. It would make taking them more seriously at least possible.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">So why would Mark have liked the baptism story? For one thing, he might have wanted to connect John with Jesus, to give a nod to John but to downplay him at the same time. Why didn't Jesus give John the baptism then? Because everyone knew that John was the one who baptized people.</font>
Have you forgotten that Jesus' disciples also baptized people? How sloppy of your Philip. If you're going to dream stuff up (like you think Mark did here), then why not make it really good, and avoid even the appearance of a problem that later sceptics would use to beat Christianity?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> In fact, John introduced the notion of baptism to Judaism.</font>
False. The Essenes did this. Since their community dates back to c. mid 2nd Century BC, why did you think John invented it?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(Snip the interesting and probably true stuff on John's theology)</font>
Since the only evidence we have of John's theology is from the Gospels (Josephus never tells us what it was), I really am at a loss as to why you give any credence to these reports. You really are jeapordizing your sceptical credentials here I think.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Given this, if Mark was going to include John the Baptist in his narrative, he would had to have John baptize Jesus, assuming that such an event wouldn't blatantly have contradicted any of Mark's fundamental doctrines on Jesus, such as that Jesus was already sinless and John's baptisms by themselves were meant to work against sin. There would be no point at all in including John in a narrative about Jesus without having John do his thing and baptize everyone in sight.</font>
Come on Philip, you can do better than this. What more powerful symbol can Mark come up with than to have the Baptizer himself baptized by the Messiah? Even a half way smart apologist creating fiction could have seen the advantages of this one.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Since Mark wanted to address and subtly downplay John's popularity, and to have Jesus meet John and make some pleasant remarks about him, Mark had to say Jesus was baptized by the Baptizer.</font>
No he didn't. See above.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Since Mark wasn't writing for Jews,</font>
LOL! Offer evidence of this please.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> (Snip conclusory argument based on a faulty premise}

You also repeated the claim that there are no Jewish sources that state John was a prophet. Specifically you said "Josephus thought lots of people were good guys Philip, yet he never thought that they were prophets. I asked you for a source that said the Jews thought of John as a prophet, since the only ones we have are in the Gospels, well… is that your supporting evidence?" You ignored my point that John said specifically that the Jews were so offended by John's murder that they believed GOD sought retribution and vanquished Herod's army. Regardless of whether this story is true, the point is that Josephus, a Jew, implied that John was regarded by Jews as a prophet, a person very highly favoured by God. God would not destroy an army for just a "good guy."</font>
You must not have read my post carefully enough here. I specifically told you that Josephus also blamed all kinds of catastrophes (like the fall of Jerusalem) on the Jews killing James the Just. Yet no one argues from that that Josephus thought James was a prophet. Now, demonstrate from the writings of Josephus that he thought that John the Baptist was a prophet, and maybe we have something to talk about.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">But once again, this point is irrelevant since Mark wasn't writing for Jews.</font>
Unproven assertion again, so I have snipped the argument that was based upon it.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">There are of course scholars who think precisely this, such as Crossan.</font>
You understate the case here Philip. Just admit that all scholars (at least of the sceptical stripe, and that is all who matter, right?) believe that the baptism is HUGELY embarrassing.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Crossan and the Jesus Seminar believe that the early Christians wouldn't have made up this story because it made Jesus look inferior and subservient. These scholars evidently forget that Mark is the most theologically awkward and undeveloped of the gospels (for this reason I find Mark the most charming gospel). Matthew and Luke repeatedly edit Mark line by line for just this reason, as they do with the baptism story.</font>
But Matthew makes the story even more embarrassing by telling us that John the Baptist himself was never really convinced that Jesus really was the Messiah. And Luke says the same thing, leading your favorite scholars to conclude that it was a part of "Q" as well! So now we have a very early and embarrassing story milling about, one excluded by Mark (shameful isn't it, how Mark could try to cover this truth up). Where is your well developed sceptical sense of the conspiracy in action Philip? And since Matt and Luke were more than happy to leave out other bothersome details from Mark, why not just skip this one too?

You never do bother to answer my questions, and this is why I need to keep repeating myself. In your final post, perhaps you could address this last one.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad also says that Mark's readers would have been familiar with Paul's teachings, and that Paul taught that Jesus was born sinless. Actually, I don't recall reading where Paul says specifically that Jesus was BORN sinless.</font>
Romans 9:5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Philippians 2:5-11 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


Now, if you want to argue that Paul did not think that Jesus was God, then I would like to see your arguments. Perhaps that could be the discussion for another thread.

Thanks for the discussion Philip.

Nomad
 
Old 06-05-2001, 12:59 AM   #94
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As far as I can tell, Earl's assumptions are just as much, or little, supported by actual evidence as Nomad's.

Nomad has still not told us how he knows that:
a) Mark was a Jew
b) he was writing for Jews
c) he tried to mold his Jesus figure into the Jewish Messiah expectation.
d) he had access to / knowledge of Paul's letters
and
d) when and where the gospel of Mark was actually written.

Give us the facts, please, Nomad, or else stop being so damn arrogant.

The point of this thread has never been to prove that Mark has invented Jesus. It has only been to show that assertions about 'embarrasment' are only valid in the context of a pack of other assertions, none of which you have even come close to address, let alone establish as probably true.

fG
 
Old 06-05-2001, 06:19 AM   #95
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Nomad Watch: Post #95 Summary: Nomad has been unable to counter the points raised by Earl and others, and is desperately searching for a way to bail on the thread.

Originally posted by Nomad:
Hello Michael
You have told me that Mark would not include any material that he found embarrassing in his Gospel.


What misrepresentation! Again! The same misrepresentation twice! All I said was the inclusion of the story is prima facie evidence that Mark did not find the story embarrassing. That's it. Find some evidence that Mark found the story embarrassing. I'd be happy to accept evidence, if you have any.

I have since learned that no amount of proofs or evidence will disuade you from your stated belief. I also respect that you have the right to your opinion, and will not attempt to change you mind. Quite frankly, I see no means by which to do that, and will not even bother to try.

Translation: I have no evidence that Mark thought the story embarrassing. I have no way to counter facts like (1) there is no expectation in the OT the messiah would be sinless (2) there is no prohibition of baptism for messiah in the OT (3) some groups of jews/christians indeed thought jesus divinity began at his baptism (4) some groups of jews actually practiced baptism as a purification ritual (5) John was apparently a major figure whom Mark may have simply wanted to link Jesus to. (6) There are many known embarrassing stories from myth and history which are in fact pure invention.

I will ask one final question, however, is there any means you know of that could actually prove what motivated Mark about anything?

I'm not the one who has to furnish evidence of Mark's motives. You do. And yes, there would be a number of means by which Mark's motives could easily be settled. But I am not going to help you by mentioning them.

It is you, Nomad, not me, who has leaned on this ridiculous criterion of embarrassment to try and draw the nuggets of history out of this complex pile of invention, myth, theology, exaggeration and tradition that we call the gospels. You are thus forced to supply evidence which can reliably demonstrate that Mark was embarrassed by Jesus' baptism. So far, you have not.

The fact is that the criterion of embarrassment cannot be applied to writings contain a substantial amount of myth, tradition and invention, like the gospels.

Michael
 
Old 06-05-2001, 09:13 AM   #96
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I'm afraid you still have not understood the arguments that have been presented fG, and I am unsure how much more information I can give you that would help you better understand why the baptism was embarrassing. I have offered all of the arguments put forward by the best sceptical minds, and you do not find them convincing. I have offered you suggested reading material from actual Jewish historians that could probably better explain their arguments than I can. You have refused to persue them on the grounds that you do not wish to do this. Finally, you offer questions that I have already answered a number of times. I will cover them one last time, and then, unless you have something new to add to the discussion, we are about done here.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by faded_Glory:

Nomad has still not told us how he knows that:
a) Mark was a Jew</font>
The clear number od Semitisms offered in his Gospel (requiring explanations for the non-Jewish readers that Mark also hoped to reach) makes it all but certain that Mark was a Jew. I have never seen any evidence offered by anyone that he was a Gentile. Do you have such evidence?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">b) he was writing for Jews</font>
This is simply a prima facia fact. The earliest Christians were Jews, and Mark was writing to the earliest Christians. I have no idea how to demonstrate that he would not have wanted his Gospel read to Jews, but given his stated purpose from Mark 1:1, I have worked from the assumption that he wanted everyone to read his Gospel.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">c) he tried to mold his Jesus figure into the Jewish Messiah expectation.</font>
Again, Mark 1:1 tells us that this is his purpose, yet he includes many details that run directly counter this stated objective. The best reason availabe to us as to why he would include such stories that run counter to his interest is that they were too well known to be excluded.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">d) he had access to / knowledge of Paul's letters</font>
He did not, at least not based on the evidence, nor have I claimed that he had such access. BTW, this helps to establish that there were multiple independent traditions about the historical Jesus in circulation, and this is yet another criterion used by historians to help prove various events probably happened.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">d) when and where the gospel of Mark was actually written.</font>
I have linked to the thread on this enough times, and given my reasons for my belief that Mark was written c. 55-60AD. Thus far not one person has stepped forward to counter my arguments, so I must assume that people have accepted them as reasonable.

If you wish to read it again, the thread is called Redating the books of the New Testament. Please note that I have given reasons for dating all of the Gospels to the period 55-70AD.

Please do not assert that I have failed to do something that I have clearly done fG. And if you disagree with my ideas, please offer some reasons and evidence for your disagreement. I do not appreciate having my arguments and views so blatantly misrepresented.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Give us the facts, please, Nomad, or else stop being so damn arrogant.</font>
Address my arguments, or like I have done with Michael, Toto, Jubal and Earl/Philip, we will have to conclude our discussion here. I will say that at least Toto and Earl tried to address my arguments and asked questions. With you, I do not even see evidence that you have been reading my posts.

Nomad
 
Old 06-05-2001, 09:27 AM   #97
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Nomad,

Once again you make bold assertions without ever admitting that things are not as clear cut as you claim.

Let me quote from Bede's website:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
As we have mentioned, Papias claimed that Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome after the departure (or death) of Peter. The Gospel certainly appears to be intended for a Gentile audience as Mark explains Jewish customs. He makes enough mistakes himself to cast doubt on whether he was even a Jew, let alone from Palestine.

Bede's website
</font>
This is completely different from your opinion that Mark was almost certainly a Jew, and was writing to Jews.

Come on now, do you think we are fools? Differences of opinion such as these, between intelligent and informed Christians, totally confirm my point that the data is clearly insufficient to justify making any absolute statements about who Mark was and what his audience was.

I do read your posts, Nomad. Fortunatley, I also read other things, so I am not at risk to be misled by your one-sided opinions disguised as 'facts'. I just hope that all your readers are aware of the dangers of relying too much on your statements. If there are any misrepresntations here, Nomad, I think they are to be found in your posts.

fG
 
Old 06-05-2001, 09:35 AM   #98
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Cool

Oh, I agree with Nomad that the debate has run its course. But I agree with fG and Michael that he hasn't come close to proving his thesis.
 
Old 06-05-2001, 09:51 AM   #99
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by faded_Glory:

Come on now, do you think we are fools? Differences of opinion such as these, between intelligent and informed Christians, totally confirm my point that the data is clearly insufficient to justify making any absolute statements about who Mark was and what his audience was. </font>
I do not think that you are a fool fG, but I do believe that when it comes to investigating questions about the Bible and ancient history, you are lazy. Your appeal to Bede's authority is interesting, yet when I invited you to have a discussion on this matter, you refused to do so on the grounds that you did not think it was important or worthwhile from your point of view. The fact that you will not directly address my own arguments, misrepresent me by saying that I have not done the very things that I have clearly done (i.e. offered arguments for an early dating of the Gospels), and offer assertions that say that my arguments are not convincing, even as you refuse to offer evidence or arguments of your own, makes discussion very nearly impossilble.

You believe that I am a liar. Such is, of course, your right, but I had hoped that you would at least engage in a discussion rather than level unfounded accusations against me.

I had hoped for better from you, so yes, I am disappointed.

Nomad
 
Old 06-05-2001, 11:43 AM   #100
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Smile

Appeal to authority????



I will spell it out one more time.

I am not saying that Bede is right and you are wrong. I am not saying that Mark was a Jew, or a non-Jew. Etc. etc.

I am simply pointing out that there isn't enough hard data to draw the kind of firm conclusions you are constantly doing. I illustrate this by showing that there are clearly incompatible opinions about these things, even between intelligent and informed believers.

I am also pretty sure that you are fully aware of this, but somehow don't want to admit it. Instead, you use expressions such as 'prima facia [sic] fact' for something that clearly is just a possibility, an opinion, no more.

Yes, I do consider it misleading if you pretend something is a hard fact when you probably know only all too well that it is an interpretation, disputed by others in the same field.

Lesson #1 in science: separate data from interpretations. Lesson #2: estimate uncertainties associated with the measurements.

It is not a pretty sight to see you squirm, so I'll let you off the hook and throw you back into the pond. Happy swimming, Nomad.

fG

 
 

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