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Old 02-20-2001, 04:23 PM   #31
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Toto:
All of Layman's and Nomad's posts only make it clear that neither one understands McDonald's thesis and neither one has read his book.

</font>
Powerful rebuttal. Difficult to respond to as well because it contains no substantive argument.

 
Old 02-20-2001, 06:51 PM   #32
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Turtonm,

Let me try to understand exactly what you believe on this topic. First, you don’t believe that Mark intentionally wrote his entire gospel as a complete fiction without using any sources other than the works of Homer as a framework. Its obvious that there is a large amount of information contained in Mark which is also contained in Paul. Therefore, if Mark wrote his work as a fiction, then he would have had to have been very creative in working around the information in Paul and making certain that his gospel didn’t contradict the info in Paul. It would also have been necessary for Mark to have been well acquainted with all of Paul's letters so that no contradictions appeared in Mark's gospel. Even most conservative scholars are skeptical about Mark knowing all of Paul's letters. Paul probably didn't finish his letters until around 60 C.E. and Mark was written about ten years later, which hardly seems enough time in that era for the entire Pauline corpus to have been gathered so that one person (Mark) had access to all of the letters. “So what?” you may ask. I think you underestimate the evidence of Paul’s writings. Layman’s list is good, but there are certainly more pieces of information which are common between Paul and the gospels.

There are other traditions (besides Mark) which pre-date Paul. We have the following parallels to gospel material found in Paul which span all four major gospel sources other than Mark (Q, M, L, and John):

Q Source

Matt 13:11/Luke 8:10 = 1 Corinthians 13:2. “Knowledge of the mysteries.” The first three verses of 1 Cor 13 are Paul’s comparison of known Jesus traditions. He is showing that while these sayings of Jesus are beneficial, the most important thing is love. Here are the other references to sayings of Jesus in those verses:
Matt 17:20 = 1 Corinthians 13:2. “Faith to move mountains.”
Matt 19:21 = 1 Corinthians 13:3. “Giving away possessions.”

Matt 5:38-48/Luke 6:27-36 = Romans 12:9-21. Paul is aware of the Sermon on the Mount.


M Source (material peculiar to Matthew)

Matt 16:16-20 = Galatians 1:15-16, Gal 2:7-9. Paul is aware of Jesus’ commissioning of Peter. It may not seem obvious at first, but look closely at Paul’s context. He is defending his apostleship against those who claim he is inferior to other apostles because the others were apostles before him. Here are the reasons why its obvious that Paul is aware of the same info as in Matt. First, there is a reference to “flesh and blood” which appears nowhere else in the synoptics and only one other place in Paul’s undisputed letters, so we know its not a common term. Second, the thought is of a divine “revelation” in both passages and the revelation is of God’s Son. Third, the revelation is related to mission work (“that I might proclaim him” and “will build my church”). Paul is defending himself against accusations that he is a second-class apostle by appealing to known traditions about Jesus' instructions to Peter.

Matt 17:20 = 1 Corinthians 13:2. See above regarding “faith to move mountains.”


L Source (material peculiar to Luke)

Luke 21:34-36 = 1 Thess. 4 & 5. Paul seems to be aware of Luke’s form of the eschatological discourse.
1. Paul mentions “the day of the Lord”, Luke says “that day”.
2. Paul says “they will not escape”, Luke says to pray “that you may have the strength to escape”.
3. Paul urges wakefulness, sobriety, etc., Luke warns against drunkenness, etc., and encourages alertness.
4. Paul says “sudden destruction”, Luke implies the same with the preceding speech of Jesus.
5. Also on a different note… based upon 1 Thess 5:1-5 we can assume Paul knows the parable of the thief (Luke 12:39,40/Matt 24:43,44 which is another Q passage)


John

John 13:34 = Gal 5:13, 6:2, Romans 13:8. The law of Christ is to love one another.
Gal 6:2 is the only place where Paul uses “the law of Christ”, and from reading the other two verses it seems likely that Paul was familiar with Jesus’ commandment to “love one another”.

To address your claim that Paul doesn't mention any specific miracles of Jesus, please see Romans 15:18-19 and 2 Cor 12:11-12. It seems likely that if Paul thought the apostles (himself included) could do miracles, then it would also be the same case with the person he worsipped. Also see 1 Cor 1:22 where Paul downplays those who want to see miracles. He doesn't want the focus to be on signs.

I could probably list about 20-30 other parallels between Paul and the gospels, but I think what I've said so far will suffice for our discussion. My point in listing this info is to show how widespread the Jesus traditions were at a very early date (less than 20 years after Jesus died). Therefore, it would have been impossible for Mark to compose a highly fictional work 40 years after Jesus which contained previously "never before seen" information. The entire main outline of the "Jesus story" had already been told even before Paul wrote any of his letters.

I think oral tradition is a key in understanding how all of this ties together. Prior to any writings, information was relayed by word of mouth as you mentioned as a possibility. The major traditions were already in place long before Mark wrote his gospel (or Paul wrote any letters) as is apparent by the massive amount of information on Jesus contained in Paul's letters from all sources (Q, M, L, John). In writing his gospel, Mark is simply arranging the traditions as he desires. I would concede that Mark possibly shaped some of his passages based on Homer, but these weren't stories that Mark created out of thin air. If anything, he re-arranged material or added small details to mimic the work of Homer. I'm still doubtful whether even that much is true.

Peace,

Polycarp


 
Old 02-21-2001, 12:52 AM   #33
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
Powerful rebuttal. Difficult to respond to as well because it contains no substantive argument.
</font>
It is difficult for you to respond because you really don't know McDonald's argument and haven't done your homework by reading his book. You have the idea that he has just pulled some parallels out of Mark and Homer, but his argument is much more complex and subtle, impossible to reproduce here with out repeating his entire book, which would violate copyright laws.

BTW Dennis McDonald is John Wesley Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Claremont Graduate School of Theology and co-director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christanity at the Claremont Graduate University, not, as you seem to assume, some nutcase looking for publicity.
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Old 02-21-2001, 07:01 AM   #34
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Polycarp:
Turtonm,

Let me try to understand exactly what you believe on this topic. First, you don't believe that Mark intentionally wrote his entire gospel as a complete fiction without using any sources other than the works of Homer as a framework. Its obvious that there is a large amount of information contained in Mark which is also contained in Paul.


And as you said, other sources. I have no trouble with Mark's dependence on sources such as extant tradition, Q, Jewish scriptures, etc. Mark wove a tapestry from many threads. As I said above, it is high time we dispensed with the ridiculous belief that a man who writes with bad grammar must also be stupid and uncreative. How odd that I'm the one *defending* Mark!

[b]{snipped} There are other traditions (besides Mark) which pre-date Paul. We have the following parallels to gospel material found in Paul which span all four major gospel sources other than Mark (Q, M, L, and John):

Q Source

Matt 13:11/Luke 8:10 = 1 Corinthians 13:2. "Knowledge of the mysteries." The first three verses of 1 Cor 13 are Paul's comparison of known Jesus traditions.

Here is Corinthians:
13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

You write of these:
He is showing that while these sayings of Jesus are beneficial, the most important thing is love.

The references from Mt and Lk contain the word "mysteries." In both Jesus continues into parables, not words about love. These two "links" are tenuous at best, showing only an extant tradition, which we've never disagreed on. I hope your others are better.

Here are the other references to sayings of Jesus in those verses:
Matt 17:20 = 1 Corinthians 13:2. "Faith to move mountains."
Matt 19:21 = 1 Corinthians 13:3. "Giving away possessions."


How does this contradict what I am saying? Still no sign of what MacDonald claims are fictions.

Matt 5:38-48/Luke 6:27-36 = Romans 12:9-21. Paul is aware of the Sermon on the Mount.

C'mon. Romans 12:9-21 contains no direct references to either, all three seem to be passages recommending "do good, because good is good to do." As Paul puts it, "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." These are too general, and can be traced to exhortations in existing ideas and documents, such as Book of Enoch. Polycarp, did you think I wouldn't look at these?


M Source (material peculiar to Matthew)

Matt 16:16-20 = Galatians 1:15-16, Gal 2:7-9. Paul is aware of Jesus' commissioning of Peter. It may not seem obvious at first,


That's for sure!

but look closely at Paul's context. He is defending his apostleship against those who claim he is inferior to other apostles because the others were apostles before him. Here are the reasons why its obvious that Paul is aware of the same info as in Matt. First, there is a reference to "flesh and blood" which appears nowhere else in the synoptics and only one other place in Paul's undisputed letters, so we know its not a common term. Second, the thought is of a divine "revelation" in both passages and the revelation is of God's Son. Third, the revelation is related to mission work ("that I might proclaim him" and "will build my church"). Paul is defending himself against accusations that he is a second-class apostle by appealing to known traditions about Jesus' instructions to Peter.

Once again, Paul says he "conferred not with flesh and blood." Meaning he didn't get advice from anyone living. Then he goes off to Arabia for a couple of years, and then back to Jerusalem. No reference to churches or Peter until 18, and then he just saw him. Galatians 2:7-9 refers to Peter, James and John as "pillars." It contains a discussion of circumcision. Again no references to Mt 16:16-20, which is the famous area where Jesus give Peter the keys to the kingdom. Where is even one line that says "And Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom, but I think……" or something similar?

Since you think a stray reference to "flesh and blood" is key, let me remind you of the reference to the word "calm" in Greek in the Synoptics and Odysseus, which is in the second example I posted at my site. How would you deal with that?

Matt 17:20 = 1 Corinthians 13:2. See above regarding "faith to move mountains."

So far, you are one for -- how many?

L Source (material peculiar to Luke)

Luke 21:34-36 = 1 Thess. 4 & 5. Paul seems to be aware of Luke's form of the eschatological discourse.
1. Paul mentions "the day of the Lord", Luke says "that day".
2. Paul says "they will not escape", Luke says to pray "that you may have the strength to escape".
3. Paul urges wakefulness, sobriety, etc., Luke warns against drunkenness, etc., and encourages alertness.
4. Paul says "sudden destruction", Luke implies the same with the preceding speech of Jesus.
5. Also on a different note… based upon 1 Thess 5:1-5 we can assume Paul knows the parable of the thief (Luke 12:39,40/Matt 24:43,44 which is another Q passage)

So they have an eschatology. What Jew of the time didn't? Further, I have no trouble with the parables. They don't concern MacDonald's argument. I don't like being asked to look up verse that have no connection to the task at hand, nor to find out that alleged connections exist in the imagination of the believer.

John

John 13:34 = Gal 5:13, 6:2, Romans 13:8. The law of Christ is to love one another.
Gal 6:2 is the only place where Paul uses "the law of Christ", and from reading the other two verses it seems likely that Paul was familiar with Jesus' commandment to "love one another".

Yes, and? I have no trouble with extant tradition. As I've said…..these constitute nothing that tells against MacDonald's case. MacDonald also has no trouble with extant tradition. "The earliest evangelist disguised his dependence by writing in prose, altering Homer's vocabulary, re-arranging episodes, and borrowing as well from Jewish scriptures," he says.

To address your claim that Paul doesn't mention any specific miracles of Jesus, please see Romans 15:18-19 and 2 Cor 12:11-12. It seems likely that if Paul thought the apostles (himself included) could do miracles, then it would also be the same case with the person he worsipped.

I don't understand how you can include these two. These are general statements that there were signs and wonders. Again, where are the stories that are fictions in Mark? The walk on water, etc? This is pure vague nothing, like everything except the "faith can move move mountains" cite, but that does nothing to MacDonald's case.

Also see 1 Cor 1:22 where Paul downplays those who want to see miracles. He doesn't want the focus to be on signs.

I can see why, since he didn't know of any!

I could probably list about 20-30 other parallels between Paul and the gospels, but I think what I've said so far will suffice for our discussion. My point in listing this info is to show how widespread the Jesus traditions were at a very early date (less than 20 years after Jesus died).

Perhaps there was some tradition floating around. However, Paul is unaware of any of Jesus' miracles.

Therefore, it would have been impossible for Mark to compose a highly fictional work 40 years after Jesus which contained previously "never before seen" information. The entire main outline of the "Jesus story" had already been told even before Paul wrote any of his letters.

This outline apparently did not contain any of the stories MacDonald notes, for they do not appear in Paul. Can you give me an unequivocal reference? Or is all you have smoke, as above? Polycarp, did you think I wouldn't go look? I resent being forced to waste my time sorting through such claims when they amount to nothing against MacDonald's case. Now go and find me an unequivocal reference in Paul to the walk on water. Or other miracle stories, such as demons into swine. And read MacDonald.

I think oral tradition is a key in understanding how all of this ties together. Prior to any writings, information was relayed by word of mouth as you mentioned as a possibility. The major traditions were already in place long before Mark wrote his gospel (or Paul wrote any letters) as is apparent by the massive amount of information on Jesus contained in Paul's letters from all sources (Q, M, L, John). In writing his gospel, Mark is simply arranging the traditions as he desires. I would concede that Mark *possibly* shaped some of his passages based on Homer, but these weren't stories that Mark created out of thin air. If anything, he re-arranged material or added small details to mimic the work of Homer. I'm still doubtful whether even that much is true.

Yes, we've already agreed oral tradition is important. Unfortunately, it contains nothing to substantiate your case. I suspect I could find remarks about faith moving mountains in pre-existing jewish literature as well, only I don't know where to look. Help, anyone?

Michael


 
Old 02-21-2001, 07:18 AM   #35
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Mike originally said"
First, the *why* of discovery is always a problem. {Snip invention examples}

Nomad:
I'm sorry Michael, but we are not talking about invention here. We are talking about Bible studies,


Yes, thank you Nomad, I'd forgotten how Bible studies is an amazing and special human endeavor unlike any other and exempt from the normal conditions of human existence.

and contrary to what you might believe, there was a TON of study that went into the works of the Early Father's for example. And no, this was not all loves and kisses stuff either. I would refer you to the works of Origen, Jerome, Augustine, Iraeneus, not to mention all the heretics that kept trying to steal from the Canons and non-Canonical works alike.[/B]

Hmmm, wish I could remember saying or believing this. This is a fairly typical passage for you, mischaracterizations, a back-handed slap or two and a total failure to deal with the point made.

Nomad
See what I mean about conspiracy theories?
And you thought I was just making this stuff up. And to be serious, I do think that you are pretty
new to the Jesus-Myth debate, but trust me on this one, there are tons of conspiracy theorists out there. As a side note, most of the pagan material we do have was preserved by Christians, and not all of
it (like Tacitus and Celsus for example) was very flattering to Christianity or Jesus. And on that same note, we have lost almost all of the works of many of the ancient Fathers as well, so let's not play the "suppression card" too seriously please.


First, I'm a conspiracy nut for believing that things were suppressed. This is followed, in your typical pattern, by a haughty slap at my presumed lack of knowledge, then with another of your typical patterns,
a concession by backhanded slap that I am right -- oh! there *were* things suppressed, and Christian stuff was lost too! We'll see this little game again later.

This passage is followed by another slap at my presumed lack of knowledge, then

Mike's original quote
Why was Q only discovered in this century? Heck, you could ask your question about any advance in gospel studies this century!

Nomad replied:
Well, I wouldn't necessarily call all of them advances. After all, some of the more "out there" ideas that have cropped up of late (see my comments on Barbara Thiering and her Dead Sea Scrolls nonsense) have also cropped up in the last few years, gain steam and a following for a bit (she was the rage in the early 90's), then kinda vanish.

"Concession" by backhanded slap once again. So new things have appeared recently.

Of course, as you say, since there is nothing new under the sun, why bother with scholarship.

Historical parallels are neat, but they do not pertain. So far, your argument consists of nothing more than indignation and haughtiness. I expect to see some meat, Nomad, like a unequivocal quotes from Paul.

Michael
 
Old 02-21-2001, 08:28 AM   #36
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Toto:
It is difficult for you to respond because you really don't know McDonald's argument and haven't done your homework by reading his book. You have the idea that he has just pulled some parallels out of Mark and Homer, but his argument is much more complex and subtle, impossible to reproduce here with out repeating his entire book, which would violate copyright laws.

BTW Dennis McDonald is John Wesley Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Claremont Graduate School of Theology and co-director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christanity at the Claremont Graduate University, not, as you seem to assume, some nutcase looking for publicity.
</font>
Ya know what, if nothing else I think I've demonstrated that I can speak for myself. And I never sid he was a nutcase looking for publicity. I've responded to his arguments as they are presented on this board. I don't go read every book spouting every theory that every skeptic brings up on a webpage. I've seen nothing yet that warrants further investigation or time committment on my part.

Do you go read every book Christians throw at you as "proving" their theory? Of course not. If I must read MacDonald's book, do you have to read Ben Witherington's, The Christology of Jesus, N.T. Wright's, Jesus and the Victory of God, or John P. Meier's, A Marginal Jew?


Well, do unto others as you would have them ... err ... nevermind, forgot I was talking to a skeptic.

If you guys can't make MacDonald's theory coherent on a discussion board that is not my concern. I've seen the skeptics admonish a theist for daring to post links to an article to support his argument. He was quickly denounced and informed that we don't do such things on this board, that it is incumbent on the arguing party to make the case on this board.
 
Old 02-21-2001, 08:33 AM   #37
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I hope this hasn't been stated before (don't feel like checking, sorry)...

I have a serious problem with MacDonald's theory. Since the use of Homer was so wide-spread and well-recognized during the time the gospel of Mark was written (as MacDonald seems to argue), wouldn't Mark's gospel have been recognized for the supposed work of fiction that it was? Or did it take until the 21st century for MacDonald to decode and unravel Mark's brilliant work!?

Why did Celsus among others not immediately recognize and condemn it as a spin on Homer since Homer's works were so well-known?!

Was Mark really so brilliant that it escaped this observation for 2000 years?

Sorry, but to me this seems like pop-scholarship to make a buck...

Ish
 
Old 02-21-2001, 09:36 AM   #38
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
And as you said, other sources. I have no trouble with Mark's dependence on sources such as extant tradition, Q, Jewish scriptures, etc. Mark wove a tapestry from many threads.
</font>
Well, I wrote out a whole, long response and my computer locked up. I hate it when that happens !!! Lets cut to the heart of the discussion and I'll bring up the issues I had in mind if they come up again. Its not really clear exactly where we disagree. If you simply think that Mark used Homer as an outline to shape some of his stories, then I'll concede that as a possibility. However, as you seem to have acknowledged, its completely implausible to say that Mark wrote the entire Jesus story as a fiction.

Parallels do not equal fiction. Here's an example... Mark says that John the Baptist was executed by Herod and he specifies beheading as the mode of execution. Josephus also says that John the Baptist was executed by Herod, but he doesn't specify the mode of execution. MacDonald tries to show the differences between Mark and Josephus can be attributed to Mark's use of Homer. This certainly doesn't lead to the conclusion that John the Baptist was not executed by Herod. In fact, the different accounts are highly likely to be independent accounts since Josephus was written later and, if he were simply copying Mark, Josephus wouldn't have left out the alleged "Homer" details. I'm assuming you believe John the Baptist was actually executed by Herod as the overwhelming majority of scholars agree. So why should the other episodes in Mark be any different? Mark had existing stories that he may have shaped with the use of allusions to Homer, but he wasn't creating events out of whole cloth. The "John the Baptist" example clearly demonstrates this.

My point in writing my last post was to show the broad range of traditions already in place at the time of Paul. It wasn't to specifically address MacDonald's argument. I think this quote of MacDonald you cited sums up the issue

"The earliest evangelist disguised his dependence by writing in prose, altering Homer's vocabulary, re-arranging episodes, and borrowing as well from Jewish scriptures,"

In other words, his theory is unfalsifiable just like every other conspiracy theorist who has written on this topic. Its impossible to disprove his theory because he can always appeal to something like, "Well, Mark re-arranged things to disguise his use of Homer." Gimme a break ! Anytime someone raises a contradiction between Homer and Mark, you can claim, "Mark disguised his plagiarism so you wouldn't know." So MacDonald is the only one with the insight to figure this out because everyone else isn't tapped into reading Mark's mind like MacDonald is? We could do this sort of thing with lots of literary works as has already been shown. I find it ironic that I cited several Paul/Gospel parallels far closer to each other than most of the Homer/Mark ones and you dismissed many of them out of hand despite the fact that Paul is an acknowledged member of the very community from which the traditions would have originated while Mark's relation to Homer is pure speculation.

Peace,

Polycarp
 
Old 02-21-2001, 10:38 AM   #39
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McDonald discusses your questions about why no one has noticed this before. His thesis appears to be that Mark wrote his story in a way that would have made it obvious to the Greek-speaking readers of the times, that he was basing things on Homer. It was later picked up by people who lacked the cultural context to see the references. The modern literary deconstruction of the Gospels is still in its infancy.

As far as parallels between Paul and Mark - Paul has only a broad outline of Jesus that is more or less compatible with the idea of Jesus as pure spirit or Jesus as a person who lived centuries before. Paul does not mention any details of Jesus's birth, childhood, life, or trial.

Mark's work may be analogous to "Shakespeare in Love" - he may have woven a drama around what he thought was a real person. Or it may be analogous to Star Wars, a drama around a non-exitant hero who represents the heroic archetype. But there is no way is it analogous to a story in the New York Times.

Layman - you don't have to read the book, but it's your loss.
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Old 02-21-2001, 11:01 AM   #40
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Toto:
"His thesis appears to be that Mark wrote his story in a way that would have made it obvious to the Greek-speaking readers of the times, that he was basing things on Homer."

Then why, Toto, are there no references in anti-Christian works to the "obviousness" of Mark's reliance on Homer? Why, when they knew the greek language and the Homeric epics probably better than we do, does no one use this in arguments against early Christians?

Once again, why did it take until the 21st century to suddenly go, "Oh yeah, that gospel of Mark smacks of Homer!"?

Ish
 
 

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