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Old 05-06-2001, 06:30 PM   #1
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Post Comments on the Jesus Puzzle Debate

I started this thread so that Earl Doherty and Nomad could look here to see if anyone has any comments directed to them about their debate.

Resist the temptation to jump in and respond to a point that the other debater hasn't had a chance to respond to yet. Otherwise, I can't think of any clear rules for this thread.

Start your post with 'Question for Earl Doherty' or 'Comment to Nomad' or something if you wish them to notice. They are in no way obligated to read or respond to them, however.

Enjoy the debate!

PhysicsGuy (Ethan Blansett)
 
Old 05-06-2001, 07:47 PM   #2
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Question


Question for Earl Doherty

Earl,

could you clarify to us laymen what you
mean by "interpolated" WRT to the references
to Pilate?

Do you mean that the passage has been altered
from it's original form and that the editor
"interpolated" the meaning of the original
text? If so, what is the evidence for suspecting
this?

Thanks.
 
Old 05-06-2001, 08:01 PM   #3
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Question for Earl Doherty:

One counterargument is that there is no tradition among pagan and Jewish critics of Jesus Christ not existing. How much force does it have?

I have a possible answer, and I wonder how reasonable ED thinks it is. Who would have been in a position to tell whether or not there had been a historical JC? Most pagan and Jewish critics had lived decades after JC had died, lived a long distance from Palestine, or both. Of those who had lived in Palestine at the time, what would have caused them to consider whether there was a historical JC? According to ED's picture of Christianity's origins, the original "Christ" had been a sort-of god worshipped by an obscure sect of Hellenized Jews, and would have attracted as much attention as many oddball cults do today -- essentially none. And those who had paid attention would not have thought that there must be a human JC currently living.

This brings to mind one interesting oddity in the Gospels. They picture JC as being followed around by crowds of admirers and followers, but no outside historian mentions those crowds, not even Josephus, who had described several other self-styled prophets with similar followings at that place and time.


[This message has been edited by lpetrich (edited May 06, 2001).]
 
Old 05-06-2001, 10:04 PM   #4
Lance
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Exclamation

Here's some who should have noticed, but for some magical reason apparently didn't...

They Should Have Noticed

John E. Remsburg, in his classic book The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence (The Truth Seeker Company, NY, no date, pp. 24-25), lists the following writers who lived during the time, or within a century after the time, that Jesus is supposed to have lived:

Josephus
Philo-Judæus
Seneca
Pliny Elder
Arrian
Petronius
Dion Pruseus
Paterculus
Suetonius
Juvenal
Martial
Persius
Plutarch
Pliny Younger
Tacitus
Justus of Tiberius
Apollonius
Quintilian
Lucanus
Epictetus
Hermogones
Silius Italicus
Statius
Ptolemy
Appian
Phlegon
Phædrus
Valerius Maximus
Lucian
Pausanias
Florus Lucius
Quintius Curtius
Aulus Gellius
Dio Chrysostom
Columella
Valerius Flaccus
Damis
Favorinus
Lysias
Pomponius Mela
Appion of Alexandria
Theon of Smyrna

According to Remsburg, "Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ." Nor, we may add, do any of these authors make note of the Disciples or Apostles - increasing the embarrassment from the silence of history concerning the foundation of Christianity.
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Old 05-07-2001, 08:52 AM   #5
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Comments to Earl Doherty

First, I'd like to thank you for coming to debate. I think that the experience will prove interesting and educational for us all.

Second, I would like to comment briefly on the third and fourth paragraphs of your initial posting. I do not feel that I hold an "uncritical fundamentalist position", but I do disagree with much of your commentary on the transmission of the New Testament.

There is much generalization and too much emphasis on the negative aspects of the New Testament's trasmission in this third paragraph. For instance, I don't see mention of the well-documented Diocletian persecution (mentioned by Kurt Aland among other scholars) or of the environmental issues (most very early MSS found in text-material-preserving Egypt) as a likely explanation for the meager number of very early NT MSS.

Second, I don't see mention of the relatively "pure" (hardly modified over hundreds of years) Alexandrian family of MSS as compared to the proliferation of the harmonized Lucian text after Constantine became emperor.

I think these issues are important and would love to see them discussed. I don't think the issue is as black and white as the third and fourth paragraphs would have us believe.


Questions for Earl Doherty:

How late do you date Acts, and what are your reasons for dating it later than most scholars?

Do you believe Luke was the author of Luke and/or Acts?

Do you believe Acts is complete or partial fiction? Why?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Earl Doherty:
1. 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 (The Jews "who killed the Lord Jesus"). This is widely acknowledged by critical scholars to be an interpolation.</font>
Since I do not believe this is widely acknowledged as an interpolation, what scholars view it this way?

There is only one textual variant in verse 15 that I have been able to find and it doesn't affect the part of the phrase you quote. The only textual variant I see places a "their own" (greek 'idious') before the word prophets (and this variant doesn't seem to be represented in the Alexandrian family mentioned earlier).

The only other minor variant I see is in verse 16 where, again, the non-Alexandrian family MSS have "anger of God" rather than simply "anger".

Who are the scholars that believe the phrase you quoted to be an interpolation, and why do they believe this? Do you have any sources you might quote for us?

I am truly curious about how you arrived at your conclusions for The Jesus Puzzle and very much look forward to your answers.

Thanks!
Ish


[This message has been edited by Ish (edited May 07, 2001).]
 
Old 05-07-2001, 01:28 PM   #6
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I've been meaning to get around to Remburgs long list. 42 names so here goes:

Josephus - Does mention Jesus by name twice although one of these references is contraversial.

Philo-Judæus - An aristorcratic Jew from Alexandria who died in about 45AD. Thus he was dead before Christianity took off and would have come to his notice. Not a historian - the majority of his surviving work is theological.

Seneca - A Roman aristocrat who dabbled in philosophy and drama before committed suicide in 65AD. Not a historian and interested only in Roman matters.

Pliny Elder - Surviving work is Natural History written in 77AD. Difficult to see why Jesus would be mentioned.

Arrian - Wrote a history of Alexander the Great in the second century. Scope for Jesus's involvement therefore limited.

Petronius - Only a fragment of his Satyricon survives. As this concerns a drunken dinner party involvement of Jesus would not be expected. However does perhaps show knowledge of Gospel story.

Dion Pruseus - Popular orator died after 110AD. Eighty speaches survive but he does not mention Christianity.

Paterculus - Roman Historian whose short history ends in 29AD - just as Jesus got going. His presence on this list is therefore simply dishonest.

Suetonius - Roman Historian who mentions a Chrestus often assumed to refer to Jesus.

Juvenal - Sixteen satires of Roman life survive. No reason to mention the historical Jesus.

Martial - Roman comic poet beloved of undergraduates for his dirty wit. Jesus potential consequently rather low.

Persius - Another Roman satirist, six survive. Died in 62AD. Hard to see why he'd have mentioned Jesus.

Plutarch - Greek historian interested in the lives of Great Men. As Christianity wasn't widespread at the time none of its founders qualified as Great Men.

Pliny Younger - wrote famous letter to Trajan about Christians.

Tacitus - Mentioned Jesus and gives basic details about him.

Justus of Tiberius - Jew none of whose works survive. Didn't think Jesus was the Messiah but may have mentioned him.

Apollonius - Wrote books on grammar. Hard to see what Jesus has to do with this.

Quintilian - Wrote text book on rhetoric. Again, hard to see what Jesus has to do with this.

Lucanus - Poet wrote a history of the civil war between Pompey and Caesar. As this happened a century before Jesus lived his potential involvement is hard to fathom.

Epictetus - Stoic philosopher of whem four lectures survive.

Hermogones - Wrote on rhetoric in the early third century. Too late to be part of this sample and no reason to mention Jesus.

Silius Italicus - Wrote a bad and very long epic about the Punic Wars which took place hundreds of years before Jesus.

Statius - Wrote poetry about Greek myth. Jesus not part of Greek myth.

Ptolemy - Famous astronomer and geographer. As likely to mention Jesus as Halliday and Resnick.

Appian - Roman Historian who could have mentioned Jesus in lost books of his history.

Phlegon - Historian none of whose works survive but said to have mentioned the darkness at Jesus's death.

Phædrus - Wrote animal fables like Aesop. Probably would not involve Jesus.

Valerius Maximus - Wrote poem about Jason and the Argonauts - not usual subject matter to expect Jesus to be in.

Lucian - Satirist who does attack Christians as being rather silly.

Pausanias - Wrote a description of Greece where Jesus never went.

Florus Lucius - Epitomised Livy's history that ends in reign of Augustus before Jesus's ministry.

Quintius Curtius - Another historian of Alexander the Great.

Aulus Gellius - Wrote the Attic Nights for the amusement of educated Romans who might well not have found Jesus amusing.

Dio Chrysostom - We've had him already as he's the same bloke as Dion Pruseus. Whoops.

Columella - Wrote poems about farming, bees, fishponds and gardens. Jesus not to be expected.

Valerius Flaccus - Extant work published 31AD so would not mention Jesus.

Damis - who? Anyone know?

Favorinus - Fragment of a treatise On Exile survives. Jesus for some reason not mentioned…

Lysias - Appears to have lived in the fourth century BC.

Pomponius Mela - Wrote a book on Geography which unsurprisingly finds no room for Jesus.

Appion of Alexandria - We've already had him too. See Appian above.

Theon of Smyrna - Greek who wrote book on algebra. Not prime Jesus material.

So in summary actually 40 names. Six may mention Jesus, about 25 who could not possibly be expected to mention Jesus by any stretch of the imagination and about ten who perhaps might but didn't. The extant works of all these guys would hard fill a book case let alone a library. Whatever else we can conclude that Remburg was either dishonest, ignorant or both so lets hear no more about him.

Yours

Bede

Bede's Library - faith and reason
 
Old 05-07-2001, 02:17 PM   #7
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Thumbs down

Ah, Bede the revisionist is at it again I see...

The point, dear Bede, is that a "NATURALIST" should have been just slightly interested in massive earthquakes, darkenings of the sky, and so on... (as hyperboled in the gospels no less...)

That none of the naturalists on the list bothered to include that is puzzling at least, suspicious at worst. To put it in perspective, don't we have ancient records, particularly Chinese, of ancient comets and strange sky phenomenia? Why not here?

Furthermore, consider what would have happened if the resurrection was truly a "historical event" as Nomad so blithely likes to assert. The stories, rumors, whisperings, and talk about it would have flown around the world on Eagle's wings and NOT taken 200 years to "get going". The fact that it took until, as you put it "Christianity got going" for facts about it to be available would to me indicate that first and foremost, the resurrection is later myth in line with the religious themes of those times. And secondly that it grabbed power the good old fashioned way, by being more ruthless than the next guy.

Again, it points out that the secular record is nearly blank considering Jesus. There are some references, some controversial. But very very sketchy.

So lets not discard it so fast Bede. I realize Christians like to discard things that might question their shaky faith, but the argument from silence of the entire ancient world is a pretty damning indictment that the past is not what you would have us believe it was.
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Old 05-07-2001, 02:57 PM   #8
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Great post Bede, one of your best, but the issues are more complex than that.

Drawing from:
http://www.lamp.ac.uk/~davidnoy/rome.htm

Plutarch - Greek historian interested in the lives of Great Men. As Christianity wasn't widespread at the time none of its founders qualified as Great Men.

c.46-c.120. Came from Chaeronea in Boeotia. Visited Rome but lived mainly in Greece. Prolific writer of biographies of famous Greeks and Romans and treatises on morals, ethics, philosophy, rhetoric.

Actually, Plutarch, for many years a priest at Deplhi, wrote extensively on religious issues....and mentioned the jews in a derogatory way.

Seneca - A Roman aristocrat who dabbled in philosophy and drama before committed suicide in 65AD. Not a historian and interested only in Roman matters.

Influential in early part of Nero's reign but forced to suicide in 65. Wrote many treatises on ethics, morals and Stoic philosophy, and a collection of letters. They provide some incidental details about life and events at Rome.

Martial - Roman comic poet beloved of undergraduates for his dirty wit. Jesus potential consequently rather low.

Actually, Martial (AD 40-104?) DOES mention Jews. For example, he chides a young woman for finding no Roman to her liking, yet not shunning the "loins of the circumcised jews." Perhaps the early Christians were so well-behaved he could find nothing bad to skewer them with.

Juvenal - Sixteen satires of Roman life survive. No reason to mention the historical Jesus.

But he did poke fun at the Jews....

Quintilian - Wrote text book on rhetoric. Again, hard to see what Jesus has to do with this.

Yes, but Quintilian alluded to Moses as the founder of that pernicious race, the Jews...

As you can see, things are a bit more complex than what you posted, Bede.

The Perseus Project, out of Tufts, also has a focus on the classics with lots of detailed, cross-linked entries.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin...c=1999.04.0004

BTW, Appian did mention the Jews in a fragment, so who knows what he might have said in the lost books?

It's not a really strong point, I'll grant you, but it is interesting that in all these writings that contain much incidental detail about the Roman world, so little is said of Christianity.

Still, it could be explained away by noting that most Romans probably couldn't tell the difference between Jews and christians.

Michael



[This message has been edited by turtonm (edited May 07, 2001).]
 
Old 05-07-2001, 03:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
Great post Bede, one of your best, but the issues are more complex than that.

Drawing from:
http://www.lamp.ac.uk/~davidnoy/rome.htm

Plutarch - Greek historian interested in the lives of Great Men. As Christianity wasn't widespread at the time none of its founders qualified as Great Men.

c.46-c.120. Came from Chaeronea in Boeotia. Visited Rome but lived mainly in Greece. Prolific writer of biographies of famous Greeks and Romans and treatises on morals, ethics, philosophy, rhetoric.

Actually, Plutarch, for many years a priest at Deplhi, wrote extensively on religious issues....

Seneca - A Roman aristocrat who dabbled in philosophy and drama before committed suicide in 65AD. Not a historian and interested only in Roman matters.

Influential in early part of Nero's reign but forced to suicide in 65. Wrote many treatises on ethics, morals and Stoic philosophy, and a collection of letters. They provide some incidental details about life and events at Rome.

Martial - Roman comic poet beloved of undergraduates for his dirty wit. Jesus potential consequently rather low.

Actually, Martial (AD 40-104?) DOES mention Jews. For example, he chides a young woman for finding no Roman to her liking, yet not shunning the "loins of the circumcised jews." Perhaps the early Christians were so well-behaved he could find nothing bad to skewer them with.

Juvenal - Sixteen satires of Roman life survive. No reason to mention the historical Jesus.

But he did poke fun at that Jews....

As you can see, things are a bit more complex than what you posted, Bede.

The Perseus Project, out of Tufts, also has a focus on the classics with lots of detailed, cross-linked entries.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin...c=1999.04.0004

BTW, Appian did mention the Jews in a fragment, so who knows what he might have said in the lost books?

It's not a really strong point, I'll grant you, but it is interesting that in all these writings that contain much incidental detail about the Roman world, so little is said of Christianity.

Michael
</font>
I'm curious Mike, how many of these guys referred to Paul? He was all over the Med., preaching a strange new religion and reportedly healing people. He came into conflict and contact with various Roman and Jewish authorities. His Christian ministry lasted about ten times as long as Jesus' ministry.
 
Old 05-07-2001, 03:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
I'm curious Mike, how many of these guys referred to Paul? He was all over the Med., preaching a strange new religion and reportedly healing people. He came into conflict and contact with various Roman and Jewish authorities. His Christian ministry lasted about ten times as long as Jesus' ministry. </font>
None. That's why, as I said, it's not a strong point.

In any case, before your "Jesus-Myth" antenna signal a five-alarm fire , my real point was that Bede had drawn his descriptions too narrowly to cover what is actually a more complex case than he made it appear.

Michael
 
 

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