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Old 02-27-2001, 04:13 AM   #11
Bede
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Toto,

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I read the Christian posts as admitting that there are some parallels but denying their significance.</font>
Initially we were quite impressed by the way MacD had presented things but once we actually looked at the texts themselves we realised there was nothing there at all.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Some of the complaints about McDonald appear to be based on the idea that his whole thesis is based on parallel comparisons, when in fact it is based on the interplay or reversal of themes, which McDonald describes as a common technique in mimesis.</font>
No, the objections are that there is nothing relating Mark to Homer than cannot be explained by either pure luck or a commonly used phrase.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Mark deliberately contrasts the lake in Galilee with the Mediterranean Sea. You may have storms on a lake that are fearsome - but 10 hours of sailing? This is much more likely to be a literary device than reported history.</font>
Why does he contrast it? And where does Mark does it say ten hours? What earthly reason is there, if he's making it up, not to use the Med?

Compare Mark to Homer and you find:

- No correspondence in the order of events;
- No use of obvious parallels that would allow Mark's first 2000 years of readers to latch on;
- No correspondence of characters. When MacD says that Legion means the Cyclops we still find that Legion is not doing the same as Cyclops but it is alleged someone else is;
- No correspondence of detail like animals (we had pigs instead of sheep) or geography (Galilee instead of the Med);
- Reverse parallels are not even reverses. It's not the opposite but usually just different which of course means nothing.
- You cannot start justifying the problems with the theory by appealing to Mark's inner mental state when you have no evidence for the theory in the first place.
- If you have conditions as slack as we have here it is dead esay to try and invent a connection between two unconnected things. Look at the Nostradamus prophecies and the Bible Code.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Mark did not label his twins as twins, but he did call them the sons of Thunder, a direct reference.</font>
Does the exact word used for the brothers appear in Homer. Otherwise you're whistling in the wind.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Is there any independent evidence that Jesus was a carpenter or any kind of lower class type?</font>
Yes, the criteria of embaressement which unlike MacD actually means something.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Is there any evidence that Mark is reported history, other than you say so?</font>
Yes. John, Paul, Q, M and L for starters.

Look, Toto. I know you like the theory and yes, it's a clever peice of lit crit. But if you believe this you have to also believe in Nostradamus, the Bible Codes, the Moby Dick codes and every other alleged paralell ever. It really is that weak. Remember what we said about falsifiability that you lot like so much. How could that be applied here? There is an arm waving explanation for all the problems that would not even be problems without the theory.

Anyone who buys into this theory has lost the right to ever call a Christian uncritical or preach scepticism again.

Yours

Bede

Bede's Library - faith and reason
 
Old 02-27-2001, 05:38 AM   #12
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Ah, Bede. Since you haven't read the book, you aren't in a position to criticize. You're not even sufficiently up on it to realize that the "Sons of Thunder" reference is not Homeric, but something else that MacDonald noted on his way to his theory.

You also didn't pay any attention to what we have said and said and said. The parallels I posted at my web site are [b]summaries[b] and thus, much of the detail is lost. You have to ....dare I say it?....read the book.

I guess, from your point of view, what we are looking at is a huge string of coincidences.
A very huge one.

Look, Toto. I know you like the theory and yes, it's a clever peice of lit crit. But if you believe this you have to also believe in Nostradamus, the Bible Codes, the Moby Dick codes and every other alleged paralell ever.

Yes, I suppose that we'll have to buy the "parallels" between Paul and the Gospels, too.

By the way, since it actually happened and MacDonald is wrong, why is it that Paul makes no mention of any of the episodes MacDonald claims are inventions of Mark cum Homer? Why don't you pull up some quotes from Paul showing he knew that Jesus walked on water? Not some vague allusions to 'signs and wonders" but something specific and irrefutable?

I read Nomad's post from the unnamed classical scholar in the other thread. It too missed the boat. Cracks like "And does anyone, even MacD himself, take seriously the suggestion that Jesus' prophecies of the Second Coming were suggested to Mark by his reading of Homer?" illustrate that the scholar has not understood MacDonald's thesis. He simply declared it invalid. His "refutation" of the Elpenor parallel is typical: "Ok, so one person falls from one place and dies and someone else falls from another place and survives." It might behoove him to stop and think why there should be two such stories in unrelated documents, out of the infinity of stories Mark could have related. There's a whole year of ministry there to draw on, after all.
Toto put it correctly: The strength of his argument is more in his ability to explain things in Mark that are otherwise problems.

Anyone who buys into this theory has lost the right to ever call a Christian uncritical or preach scepticism again.

A man who believes that Jesus actually cast demons into swine and then let the swine drown themselves is in no position to make remarks like this. That's obviously a fictional story. The only question is: what kind of fiction is it?

I'm still waiting, after many posts in two threads on this issue, for the devastating disproof from the words of Paul.....

Michael
 
Old 02-27-2001, 05:53 AM   #13
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I'm still waiting, after many posts in two threads on this issue, for the devastating disproof from the words of Paul.....</font>
Hi Michael,

I take it then, that you'll now accept that Paul proves Jesus was a real Jewish man who preached and was crucified shortly before Paul's time. He does not prove that all of Mark is accurate history but you were saying you didn't think Jesus was real. That is where Paul proves you wrong. If you still insist that Jesus himself is fictional then you remain on the wrong planet.

As for Mark and Homer, I'll check the book out in good time but I'm off to Nepal for a fortnight on Friday so it won't be a for a while.

Glad to note that the Sons of Thunder isn't a Homeric parallel either despite Toto saying it was 'a direct reference'. Also I fear your dismissal of a genuine Classical scholar will have to be a bit more in depth.

You mention an infinity of things that Luke could have mentioned. The fact is that you have a near infinity of things to draw parallels between - two complete Homeric epics and the entire New Testament. That one can find a single non-parallel is so completely unsurprising that it isn't even worth mentioning.

Yours

Bede

Bede's Library - faith and reason
 
Old 02-27-2001, 06:42 AM   #14
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Bede:
As for Mark and Homer, I'll check the book out in good time but I'm off to Nepal for a fortnight on Friday so it won't be a for a while.

Sorry. I am too overwhelmed with jealously to reply. Say hello to'em in Dhulikel for me.
And send me an email about your trip (turton@ev1.net). I loved Nepal and always regretted that I didn't have more than a couple of weeks to spend there.

Michael

 
Old 02-27-2001, 09:24 AM   #15
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:

Ah, Bede. Since you haven't read the book, you aren't in a position to criticize.</font>
Just so that I am clear on what this argument means exactly, if any apologist quotes from a book that you have not read personally, will you (or other sceptics) be permitted to comment on it, let alone criticise its conclusions?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You also didn't pay any attention to what we have said and said and said. The parallels I posted at my web site are [b]summaries[b] and thus, much of the detail is lost. You have to ....dare I say it?....read the book.</font>
And this argument is simply pathetic. If the parallels are as apparent as you would have us believe, then summaries of arguments will at least give us something to look at. Your argument looks no better than what we get from Doherty, Freke, Grady & Co. when they trot out their nonsense, and when us poor apologists are simply too dense to understand the true brilliance and complexity of the arguments being offered to us... well, forgive us for being so thick.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I guess, from your point of view, what we are looking at is a huge string of coincidences.
A very huge one.</font>
Thus far we haven't seen a parallel that comes even close enough to be called a reasonable coincidence yet Michael. With as much material as MacDonald has to work with we are expecting to see something really astonishing.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Bede: Look, Toto. I know you like the theory and yes, it's a clever peice of lit crit. But if you believe this you have to also believe in Nostradamus, the Bible Codes, the Moby Dick codes and every other alleged paralell ever.

Michael: Yes, I suppose that we'll have to buy the "parallels" between Paul and the Gospels, too.</font>
Do you?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">By the way, since it actually happened and MacDonald is wrong, why is it that Paul makes no mention of any of the episodes MacDonald claims are inventions of Mark cum Homer? Why don't you pull up some quotes from Paul showing he knew that Jesus walked on water? Not some vague allusions to 'signs and wonders" but something specific and irrefutable?</font>
You mean like the resurrection?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I read Nomad's post from the unnamed classical scholar in the other thread. It too missed the boat. Cracks like "And does anyone, even MacD himself, take seriously the suggestion that Jesus' prophecies of the Second Coming were suggested to Mark by his reading of Homer?" illustrate that the scholar has not understood MacDonald's thesis. He simply declared it invalid.</font>
So does this mean that you are not going to address the points he raises in his review?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> His "refutation" of the Elpenor parallel is typical: "Ok, so one person falls from one place and dies and someone else falls from another place and survives." It might behoove him to stop and think why there should be two such stories in unrelated documents, out of the infinity of stories Mark could have related. There's a whole year of ministry there to draw on, after all.</font>
And just so that I understand your argument here, Luke should not have used this story (please do read the review rather than sticking with your Mark thesis all the time), and it has some extremely vague parallels to be found in the MOUNTAINS of work produced by Homer, Luke shouldn't have used it? Even if the event was actually historical?

Where do you folks come up with these ideas?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Toto put it correctly: The strength of his argument is more in his ability to explain things in Mark that are otherwise problems.</font>
Which problems exactly? That Jesus perfomed miracles?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Bede: Anyone who buys into this theory has lost the right to ever call a Christian uncritical or preach scepticism again.

Michael: A man who believes that Jesus actually cast demons into swine and then let the swine drown themselves is in no position to make remarks like this. That's obviously a fictional story. The only question is: what kind of fiction is it?</font>
Once again you are making a philosophical statement now, as opposed to an historical inquiry. I do wish you all would not confuse these two issues. Christians are not asking sceptics to believe all of our stories, but we do wish that you would stop drawing tortured parallels through selective readings of the text. MacDonald's theory is going to be confined to the shelves with Doherty, Thiering, Wells, Freke, Grady and other curiosities unless we something far more substantial than has been offered to date.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I'm still waiting, after many posts in two threads on this issue, for the devastating disproof from the words of Paul.....</font>
Start with the resurrection, then we'll move on from there. In the meantime, please do address the objections we have raised thus far. Eventually it becomes very tiring to continue to ask for serious arguments, and to be constantly told that we just don't understand the seriousness of the situation.

So here's hoping.

Nomad
 
Old 02-27-2001, 09:37 AM   #16
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"By the way, since it actually happened and MacDonald is wrong, why is it that Paul makes no mention of any of the episodes MacDonald claims are inventions of Mark cum Homer? Why don't you pull up some quotes from Paul showing he knew that Jesus walked on water? Not some vague allusions to 'signs and wonders" but something specific and irrefutable?"

For someone who values rationality so much you are making a whopping mistake in your reasoning. None of us have tried to demonstrate that Mark was literarily dependent on Paul's letters. In fact, we admit and argue that Mark most likely was completely unaware of Paul's letters. What we are arguing is that both Paul's letters and Mark's gospel are derived from early Christian reports and traditions about Jesus. Moreover, I believe we have demonstrated that every time that Paul refers to the life of Jesus, he is congruent with Mark's gospel.

Additionally, you again ignore the obvious about the nature of Paul's letters. They were letters, not biographies or gospels. I can see that you have not read my post on Paul and the Birth of Christ. Please do as it is relevant to this discussion. I'll repeat a relevant portion:

"It is commonly assumed that Paul had no interest in the "human" Jesus. While Paul does have a rather high Christology, he by no means lacked all interest in the "human" Jesus (if Paul even made such a distinction). Moreover, it is commonly assumed that Paul was unaware of the tradition of the virgin birth presereved in Matthew and Luke. Such a definitive statement is unsupportable.

To think that we have preserved in Paul's letters an exhaustive list of his beliefs, or even the Jesus tradition of the early church is naive. Yet time and again I have seen some argue that Paul never wrote about some particular aspect of Jesus' ministry, so it must have been unknown to him and all other early Christians. This is a naive view.

It is a fallacy to assume that deposited in Paul was the sum total of early Christian knowledge about Jesus. It is likewise a fallacy to assume that the sum total of Paul's knowledge about Jesus was deposited in his occasional letters. Moreover, even were we to assume that the sum total of Paul's beliefs were represented in his letters, we can be sure that we do not have all of Paul's epistles.

No scholar believes we have every letter Paul wrote to the various churches. Additionally, Paul's letters were occasional. Skeptics are found of saying that the Gospels were not biographies of Jesus. Yet many skeptics turn around and point to various things that Paul's letters do not discuss as proof that they were invented later. I do not believe that such "analysis" is probative. Paul wrote his letters, by and large, in order to resolve particular events in particular places involving particular people."

[This message has been edited by Layman (edited February 27, 2001).]
 
Old 02-27-2001, 05:42 PM   #17
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Just a few points:

Bede had asked why Mark didn't use the word "twins". Mark used the term "sons of Thunder", which is not Homeric but is a direct reference to the twins Castor and Polydeuces of Greek mythology. The connection between the sons of Zebedee and the mythological twins was made in 1913 by J. Rendel Harris, although Harris did not follow this lead to discover other classical references.

I had asked what evidence there was that Jesus was a carpenter, and the only evidence is "embarassment." I take that as no evidence at all.

I went back and reviewed the Christian arguments on the other thread. They seem to boil down to denying that there is a real parallel or claiming that it is a coincidence, or saying "so what?" You refuse to see a connection even where two narratives change from the first person to the third person at the same point in the story. So I think arguing about this is hopeless.

The unnamed friend who sent the note to Nomad clearly has not read the book. He complains about the parallel that McDonald draws between an incident in Acts where Eutychus falls from the roof with the story of Elpenor, because the incident wasn't in Mark. He says that the fact that the two names start with E is not significant. McDonald makes a much stronger argument.

McDonald discusses this incident in his first chapter as an example of mimesis, before he gets into discussing Mark. (He is not confused about who wrote it.) Elpenor was a household word, used as an example by Clement of Alexander in his advice to avoid drunkenness, and not an obscure part of Homer. The parallel that McDonald draws is that Elpenor was known as unlucky, while Eutychus's name means "Lucky". This is part of a pattern of reversal, to show that Christiany trumps Homer. The letter E had nothing to do with it.

I think Nomad and Layman are too set in their positions to budge, but I hope that any lurkers will be inspired to read the book. While it is unmistakably scholarly, it is still accessible to a general reader (especially if you can at least sound out the Greek words) and it leaves you with a feeling of aha - at last I understand.
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Old 02-27-2001, 06:29 PM   #18
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Toto,

Once again you have failed to even realize what my objections were. While I believe Nomad and Bede have made excellent points, my main focus has been that the independent Christian traditions (Paul, Hebrews, John, M, L, and Q) contain parrallels in Mark that you, turtonm and MacD claim were derived from Homer. Moreover, the relative wealth of independent traditions of Jesus raises the obvious question as to why Mark would have to borrow from Homer, if the miracles of Jesus, the selection of the twelve disciples, many of the teachings of Jesus, the Last Supper, the involvement of Jewish and Roman authorities in his death, his death by crucifixion, his burial, his physical resurrection, his appearances to the 12 and other disciples, and more than I'm tired (with this thread) to go retrieve.

I have not been impressed with the parrallels, and appreciate Bede and Nomad's posts on them. What I find incredible, is that we are being asked to believe that Mark, although in possession of a pre-existing and rich tradition about Jesus, chose instead to invent another Jesus out of Homer. And, moreover, we are asked to believe that he did so in such a way that he agrees, but does not conflict, with other independent traditions of Jesus contained in Paul, Q, L, M, Hebrews, and John, despite the fact that he was almost certainly unaware of these traditions. This would be like a blind man scoring 100% on an eye test.

And, furthermore, we are asked to believe that Matthew and Luke, who already possessed their own independent traditions about Jesus, chose to incorporate Mark, which they would have known did not originate from the Christian community, into their own gospels.

Have you, or any other Homer, offered explanations for these things?

No. In fact, despite my repeated postings hammering this point, you don't even seem to understand it.

[This message has been edited by Layman (edited February 27, 2001).]
 
Old 02-27-2001, 07:51 PM   #19
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Okay, Nomad -

Cite the independent traditions that make Jesus a carpenter. Cite the independent traditions that put Jesus on a boat, anywhere, or that have him walking on water. Where are the independent traditions for the details of any particular miracle?

Mark had to fill in a lot of details to come up with his story. Where did he get them?
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Old 02-28-2001, 07:50 AM   #20
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Toto:

Cite the independent traditions that make Jesus a carpenter. Cite the independent traditions that put Jesus on a boat, anywhere, or that have him walking on water. Where are the independent traditions for the details of any particular miracle?

Mark had to fill in a lot of details to come up with his story. Where did he get them?</font>
Hello again Toto

Your question is too narrowly focused in order to address the broader objections raised by Layman, Bede and me. If the argument is going to be that Mark made up 90% of his Gospel, not just specific incidents, but entire episodes of Mark's work are going to have to be made up out of whole cloth, and this simply defies the imagination. The evidence of the independence of John, Q, M, L, Mark and Paul is so overwhelming as to really be beyond debate (not to mention Josephus), and ALL of these traditions attest to the fact that Jesus was believed by all of them to have performed miracles. Further, it is now accepted that the Passion Narrative found in Mark predates him significantly, so even if he did use Homer to help with the structure and some of the details (an assertion that is looking weaker and weaker by the day), then he was still compelled to make the facts as he knew them to line up with Homer's stories. As we have said before, just because we find coincidences, or even copying from previous works for dramatic effect, the truth or historicity of the story as a whole is not in serious doubt.

In the words of Michael Grant, a first rate classical historian, and atheist, eventhouth he rejected the miracle stories, he admits that SOMETHING had to have happened at the time (like at the feeding of the 5,000 for example) to lead his disciples to believe in Jesus.

So my question to you is the same as it is to Michael, what books besides MacDonald's (and possibly Doherty's) have you read about the Gospels and Paul? Knowing this would help a lot.

Peace,

Nomad

P.S. For another scholarly review of MacDonald's work, take a look at:
Homer or Not Homer? Mark 4:35-41 in Recent Study
 
 

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