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Old 03-21-2001, 10:46 PM   #11
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For whatever it's worth, the passage with Jesus writing on the ground in John (7:53-8:11) is omitted in many ancient manuscripts and placed in Luke in some others. It almost certainly was not an original part of John.
 
Old 03-21-2001, 10:52 PM   #12
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">That the writings of Matthew, John, and Peter are eyewitness testimonies is confirmed both in the writings themselves and in the churches who received them. (cf. 1John1, 2Peter1, Irenaeus: Against Heresies, Book III) Read the old stuff! </font>
Tell me irenaeus, does the Qur'an "confirm" that it is the word of Allah because it says so? Do the hadith "confirm" that the Qur'an is the word of Allah?

Here's what E.P. Sanders has to say about the gospel accounts, including some choice words about your "confirming" testimonies:

We do not know who wrote the gospels.... Present evidence indicates that the gospels remained untitled until the second half of the second century....The gospels as we have them were quoted in the first half of the second century, but always anonymously (as far as we can tell from surviving evidence). Names suddenly appear about the year 180. By then there were a lot of gospels, not just our four, and the Christians had to decide which ones were authoritative. This was a major issue, on which there were very substantial differences of opinion....(emphasis mine)

(Sanders recounts the story of the battles that shaped the New Testament, which most fundamentalists would prefer didn't exist.)

To members of the winning party (those who wanted four and only four gospels), it was important to be able to attribute the 'right' gospels to people who, historically, were closely connected with Jesus or his greatest apostles.

(Sanders then describes how early Christians inferred authorship based upon clues. For example, the fourth gospel doesn't mention John by name, but it does mention a "beloved disciple." Since John was a key disciple, this must be him.)

The second-century acamedic/detective work was quite shrewed....The conclusions of second-century Christians about names, however, were a lot firmer than the evidence warrants....Why was our gospel not immediately attributed to John? The most probably answer is that the attribution was made quite late and was a guess rather than a well-established tradition.

It is unlikely that Christians knew the names of the authors of the gospels for a period of a hundred years or so, but did not mention them in any of the surviving literature (which is quite substantial). It is also intrinsically probable that the gospels were headed only 'the gospel [good news] about Jesus Christ' or something of the sort, and did not give the names of their authors.

(Sanders then states that anonymous works in the ancient world "implicitly claimed complete knowledge and reliability" in the sense that a text with a named author did not.)
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Old 03-22-2001, 02:14 AM   #13
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Opus1:
Here's what E.P. Sanders has to say about the gospel accounts, including some choice words about your "confirming" testimonies:
</font>
Is this the pick a writer who agrees with you game? Funny I disagree with him on nearly all points:

We do not know who wrote the gospels....
I do: Matthew and John the disciples, Mark companion of Peter, Luke companion of Paul.

Present evidence indicates that the gospels remained untitled until the second half of the second century....
I'm not entirely sure about this bit... but I thought that Mark had always been titled.

The gospels as we have them were quoted in the first half of the second century, but always anonymously (as far as we can tell from surviving evidence).
True.

Names suddenly appear about the year 180.
Hmmm, not really. Eusebius quotes Papias (c135AD) giving the names of the writers.

By then there were a lot of gospels, not just our four, and the Christians had to decide which ones were authoritative. This was a major issue, on which there were very substantial differences of opinion....
There were many gospels by this stage, but there was very little difference of opinion. Our four current gospels won by a mile, hardly a contest.

(Sanders recounts the story of the battles that shaped the New Testament, which most fundamentalists would prefer didn't exist.)
I'm quite sure most of them came straight out of his imagination. There were a few borderline books such as Revelation, and Hebrews. But by and large the Church simply declared what was already been used as canonical.

To members of the winning party (those who wanted four and only four gospels), it was important to be able to attribute the 'right' gospels to people who, historically, were closely connected with Jesus or his greatest apostles.
Nope. It is the non-canonical gospels with which this happened. The writers of those in attempts to make them sound legit gave them such names as the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Mary.

(Sanders then describes how early Christians inferred authorship based upon clues. For example, the fourth gospel doesn't mention John by name, but it does mention a "beloved disciple." Since John was a key disciple, this must be him.)
Perhaps Sanders is getting confused with current methods for assigning authorship? He's got a good imagination at anyrate.

The second-century acamedic/detective work was quite shrewed....
That's because this 'shrewed' stuff is actually fairly modern.

The conclusions of second-century Christians about names, however, were a lot firmer than the evidence warrants....Why was our gospel not immediately attributed to John? The most probably answer is that the attribution was made quite late and was a guess rather than a well-established tradition.
The most probable answer is that the gospel was immediately attributed to John and this was well known.

It is unlikely that Christians knew the names of the authors of the gospels for a period of a hundred years or so, but did not mention them in any of the surviving literature (which is quite substantial).
Quite substantial??? No. Arguments from silence are weak at best, and even weaker when there's few writings to be silent in.

It is also intrinsically probable that the gospels were headed only 'the gospel [good news] about Jesus Christ' or something of the sort, and did not give the names of their authors.
Anything's conceivable if you've got a good imagination. Tell me, what made everyone suddenly stop heading it 'the gospel about Jesus Christ' and put a new heading in? You'd think we'd have at least one copy if it was like that originally. Even a straight out command from the Church will always be disobeyed by some who will endevour to preserve the Church. (Just look at history, any time the Church has tried to change anything it has resulted in a split)

(Sanders then states that anonymous works in the ancient world "implicitly claimed complete knowledge and reliability" in the sense that a text with a named author did not.)
I then state that he is making it up.

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Old 03-22-2001, 08:25 AM   #14
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Thank you tercel for providing absolutely no substantial refutations to Sander's points, other than pointing out that I made a typo in the word "shrewd."

The single point you made was that Eusebius quoted Papias writing around 135. But there's no way to verify this reference, as nothing by Papias is extant. So basically your evidence boils down to a Christian writing in the 4th century quoting another unverifiable Christian writing in 135, which is still 60 years (at least) after mark, and 100 years after Matthew was written if one assumes apostolic authorship.

You state that "our four gospels won by a mile" with hardly a contest. That depends on what group you're talking about. If you mean the Pauline orthodoxy in 150, then yes. By that time, all the Jewish Christians under James had been killed or expelled. But the gnostics in Egypt kept using "apocryphal" texts several centuries later.

Everything else you write is argument by assertion or criticizing Sanders for having an overactive imagination.

An argument from silence is quite valid when it's Christian silence. As Sanders says, Christian references to the gospels are quite substantial, but always anonymous until the middle of the 2nd century. Do you think that some bigwig issued a memorandum at that time saying "Guys, let's start calling the gospels by their names, which we've known all along but not used for god-only-knows-what reason"?

Your arguments are very weak, and while they are probably sufficient to convince you, they do not convince skeptics or scholars, who base their arguments on probabilities and likelihoods, not by assuming the inerrancy of the Bible.

Lest you think I'm only picking on the Bible, this type of analysis is done on other ancient texts as well. Most scholars believe that the Odyssey is the product of multiple traditions edited together at a later date. But tradition attributes it to a blind poet named Homer. A Greek mythology fundamentalist could probably ignore current scholarship, or make semi-plausible evidence against it. After all, it says it's written by Homer, all the ancient writers believed it was written by Homer, how could it not be? But of course nobody does this, because there are no Greek mythology fundamentalists. Thus scholars are free to pursue their research based upon fallible and imperfect tools of analysis, without being criticized at every turn for their "wild imaginations" or use of "arguments from silence." Hopefully the same will be true for Christianity some day.
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Old 03-22-2001, 10:18 AM   #15
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We do not know who wrote the gospels....
I do: Matthew and John the disciples, Mark companion of Peter, Luke companion of Paul.

The narratives are anonymous and anyone who says he KNOWS who wrote them is blowing smoke. Where is the evidence to back up your claim? And don't present what someone else thinks; present evidence.

rodahi

 
Old 03-22-2001, 10:08 PM   #16
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by rodahi:
The narratives are anonymous and anyone who says he KNOWS who wrote them is blowing smoke. Where is the evidence to back up your claim? And don't present what someone else thinks; present evidence.

rodahi

[/B]</font>
I present the unanimous writings of the early Church on the subject. If you wish to ignore these please give one of the following:
1) A reason for the Christian writers who believe a religion which extolls good deeds, love, and truthfullness to lie.
2) A reason for them to be unknowledgeable about their subject matter, or a reason for their inability to obtain true information.

As for 2), it seems obvious that they would have hade access to 100s of times the documents we have now on the matter. Papias lived early enough to be able to have talked to people who had known the gospel writers. Furthermore these are the leaders of the Church writing here - they would have had access to all Church records, teachings, people etc.

Of course you could always claim they were lying, but I hope you realise just what you would be claiming by this - that these great figures/leaders/scholars were going against all that their own religion stood for.
 
Old 03-22-2001, 10:50 PM   #17
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I really must say that the New Testament is far from a supporter of critical inquiry; consider the abundance of vituperative comments made about those who did not agree with the makers of those comments.

As Bertrand Russell had pointed out, Socrates and Buddha did not denounce those who refused to listen to them in such vituperative tones as "blind guides" and "snakes and brood of vipers" who cannot escape being sent to Hell.
 
Old 03-22-2001, 11:03 PM   #18
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In fact, Bertrand Russell finds fault with the Jesus Christ of the NT for believing in eternal damnation; as BR points out, JC seemed to enjoy the thought of people he dislikes suffering eternal torment.

Socrates, by comparison (at least according to Plato), expected either a dreamless sleep or getting to meet the likes of Homer and Hesiod -- and he certainly didn't threaten anyone who disagreed with him with an eternity of torment in Tartarus.

And the Buddha had certainly believed in no such thing.
 
Old 03-22-2001, 11:09 PM   #19
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The Gospels contain evidence of rewritten history; consider he varying prohibitions of divorce. Mark and Luke make it absolute; Matthew makes an exception for sexual mischief. With history-rewriting like this, I would not be surprised that the attributions of the Gospels are completely bogus. And rewriters of history generally consider themselves correctors of the historical record.

And Jesus Christ was certainly unloving toward:

* Those sent to Hell
* Scribes and Pharisees
* A certain fig tree
* A certain herd of pigs
 
Old 03-22-2001, 11:21 PM   #20
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What do you all make of this early 4th c. quote by Peter of Alexandria:

"Now it was the preparation, about the third hour, as the accurate books have it, and the autograph copy itself of the Evangelist John, which up to this day has by divine grace been preserved in the most holy church of Ephesus, and is there adored by the faithful." (Peter of Alexandria, Ante-Nicene Fathers VI, p.283)

Does this not lend evidence for John delivering his eyewitness testimony to the life, death, resurrection of Jesus to the church in Ephesus and for that church reasonably accepting it and faithfully preserving it for at least two hundred years?
 
 

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