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Old 10-30-2001, 11:43 AM   #1
MOJO-JOJO
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Talking The NT as evidence in court

Are any of you familiar with this book?

"Evidence"

It amazes me that someone would actually make this claim. (ie; the NT says it's so, and that proof is evidence enough for us!)

Comments?

[ October 30, 2001: Message edited by: MOJO-JOJO ]
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Old 10-30-2001, 11:56 AM   #2
Berenger Sauniere
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Never heard of the book, but I'm sure it would be worth a chuckle. A must have for all kangaroo courts.
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Old 10-30-2001, 01:41 PM   #3
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Check out the book and its reviews on Amazon.

I found this review especially helpful, from William Neece:

Quote:
Evangelists like Lee Strobel and Hank Haandegriff often quote Simon Greenleaf in support of their belief the Gospels are accurate and historically reliable. What they fail to mention is that Greenleaf died nearly 150 years ago. His book is filled with inaccuracies and faulty logic. In his defense, he was obviously unaware of all the New Testament research which has been done over the past century and a half. For example, Greenleaf was unaware the authors of the Gosples are unknown. The names were merely assigned by the early church. He believed Matthew and John were actual eyewitnesses although those accounts were written 50-80 years after the death of Jesus. What court would accept as valid a report by unknown sources written several decades after the events? Greenleaf's book is very biased. He often refers to Jesus as "our Savior." His book is also filled with illogical assumptions. He assumes the authors are "good" men and would not lie. On the one hand he states the Gospels are trustworthy because they have discrepancies and contradictions and on the other hand they are believable because of their uniformity. Which is it? He states the disciples had a "vigorous unerstanding" of the sayings of Jesus. So why in the Gospels is Jesus constantly having to explain his parables to them? Greenleaf goes on to claim there was no possible motive for fabrication and that they were "eminently holy and of tender consciences." Again, assumptions are made with no supporting evidence.

Greenleaf does not undertake any kind of fair and rational examination of the evidence. Some examples of his groundless statements follow: "That the text of the Four Evangelists has been handed down to us in the state in which it was originally written that is, without having been materially corrputed or falsified, either by heretics or Christians; are facts which we are entitled to assume are true." How does he know this? No support or proof are offered. "It is always to be presumed that men are honest, and of sound mind, and of the average and ordinary degree of intelligence." The author also appears very naive. Another example: "It is quite erroneous to suppose the Christian is bound to offer any further proof of their (the Gospels) genuineness or authenticy." In summary this is an outdated book full of unsupported assumptions. It does not offer a serious examination of the Gospels by any legal means.
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Old 10-30-2001, 01:41 PM   #4
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from the federal rules of evidence, article III hearsay

Rule 802 Hearsay Rule
Hearsay is not admissible except as provided by these rules or by other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court pursuant to statutory authority or by Act of Congress.

Rule 803 Hearsay Rule Exceptions
(16) Statements in ancient documents. Statements in a document in existence twenty years or more the authenticity of which is established.


so, until someone can authenticate the authorship of any of the gospels i'd say the apologizers are shit outta luck.

(gawdamn i love the internet...)

-gary
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Old 10-30-2001, 03:57 PM   #5
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Re: Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) He wrote that book in 1846, and was/is such an expert on evidence that his "Treatise" on legal evidence (1842-1853 )is still cited in briefs in US Supreme Court cases. It might be worth a look since some of his language could be very usefull......though the laughs might outweigh the logic.....
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Old 10-31-2001, 03:01 PM   #6
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Hey Toto, I think the review is quite amusing.
Quote:
the authors of the Gosples are unknown. The names were merely assigned by the early church.
To quote the reviewer in reply, this "is very biased" and "full of unsupported assumptions". And to quote one of the other reviewers who responded to this review: "It's ironic that the review below would fault Greenleaf for making biased assumptions about the Gospels, yet in his own review he makes the very mistakes he accuses this book of."

Quote:
On the one hand he states the Gospels are trustworthy because they have discrepancies and contradictions and on the other hand they are believable because of their uniformity. Which is it?
What is this crap? Is the reviewer not intelligent enough to understand that different accounts can contain discrepancies contradictions and uniformity at the same time?

Quote:
He states the disciples had a "vigorous unerstanding" of the sayings of Jesus. So why in the Gospels is Jesus constantly having to explain his parables to them?
Has the explanation "that's how they got a vigorous understanding of the sayings" occured to the reviewer?

Quote:
Some examples of his groundless statements follow: "That the text of the Four Evangelists has been handed down to us in the state in which it was originally written that is, without having been materially corrputed or falsified, either by heretics or Christians; are facts which we are entitled to assume are true." How does he know this? No support or proof are offered.
But that of course does not matter since from our reviewer's brilliant education in modern scholarship he will know the essence of Greenleaf's statement here to be correct. Greenleaf is surely better to omit such things because his repetition of what modern scholarship can demonstrate better would make the book unnecessarily large and convoluted.

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Old 10-31-2001, 04:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tercel:
<STRONG>Hey Toto, I think the review is quite amusing.</STRONG>
I found it more informative, especially in pointing out the date of the work and giving some of the arguments. It obviously is rhetorical or sarcastic and written from a point of view that you oppose. I am glad you are so easily amused.

Do you dispute that the authors of the gospels are unknown? You may think you know, but the consensus of modern scholarship seems to be that they are not known, or at least cannot be proven.

You say: "Is the reviewer not intelligent enough to understand that different accounts can contain discrepancies contradictions and uniformity at the same time?"

If there are discrepancies and contradictions, there is by definition a lack of uniformity. I think that you mean to say that the discrepancies and contradictions are just the right amount so you can conclude that they are the result of normal transmission errors. This may make apologists feel better, but it is really just hand waving to get over the difficulties.

The reviewer said "He states the disciples had a "vigorous understanding" of the sayings of Jesus. So why in the Gospels is Jesus constantly having to explain his parables to them?" You roll your eyes and say "Has the explanation "that's how they got a vigorous understanding of the sayings" occured to the reviewer?"

If you read Mark, you find that the disciples seem to continually not get it, in spite of all explanations. Matthew makes the disciples a little less clueless, one of those discrepancies you have to wave your hands over to make disappear. In fact, the disciples don't really appear to get it until Acts.

And you seem to be clueless about the last quote - why can you assume as true that the gospels have been transmitted in the state in which it was originally written? You may choose to decide that is the case after looking at the evidence (others would disagree) but there is no way you could get an ancient document admitted as evidence with that argument to a judge.
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Old 11-01-2001, 05:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Toto:
Do you dispute that the authors of the gospels are unknown? You may think you know, but the consensus of modern scholarship seems to be that they are not known, or at least cannot be proven.
What is a "consensus of modern scholarship" exactly? After all the vast majority of qualified Biblical scholars are probably extremely conservative Christians who would probably associate all the books of the Bible with their traditional authors and probably Hebrews with Paul and Revelation with John the disciple at that.
Or do you perhaps mean simply the liberal/atheist scholars who you read?
In short, yes, I do dispute the statement that the Gospels authors are unknown.

Quote:
You say: "Is the reviewer not intelligent enough to understand that different accounts can contain discrepancies contradictions and uniformity at the same time?"

If there are discrepancies and contradictions, there is by definition a lack of uniformity.
No. Remember, he's looking at it from a legal point of view. It is quite regular for even eye witness accounts to differ quite significantly and contradict in the details yet still have overall uniformity. If any two accounts are exactly the same then they are suspect because of likely collusion, as is mentioned above.
He is pointing out that the gospels give the required level of uniformity whilst at the same time giving their own accounts.

Quote:
I think that you mean to say that the discrepancies and contradictions are just the right amount so you can conclude that they are the result of normal transmission errors. This may make apologists feel better, but it is really just hand waving to get over the difficulties.
Toto, this guy is one of the most famous lawyers of all time: If HE can't assess correctly the required level of discrepancies vs uniformity then no one can - especially not you.

Quote:
And you seem to be clueless about the last quote - why can you assume as true that the gospels have been transmitted in the state in which it was originally written? You may choose to decide that is the case after looking at the evidence (others would disagree) but there is no way you could get an ancient document admitted as evidence with that argument to a judge.
The point is that you are trying to take something out of a book which the author hasn't put in it. He's a lawyer, not a scholar. If you want a scholarly work analysing the evidence for accurate transmition of texts then you go to a scholar. Expecting a lawyer to provide you with that is silly to say the least. Surprisingly enough, since he's a lawyer, he's written a book about law, and where scholarly results are required he's taken those as assumptions.

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Old 11-02-2001, 01:33 PM   #9
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Exclamation

Quote:
from Tercel

What is a "consensus of modern scholarship" exactly? After all the vast majority of qualified Biblical scholars are probably extremely conservative Christians who would
probably associate all the books of the Bible with their traditional authors and probably Hebrews with Paul and Revelation with John the disciple at that. Or do you perhaps mean simply the liberal/atheist scholars who you read?
Actually, this raises another interesting question. Have you noticed that a large number of qualified modern biblical scholars are former Pastors and were formerly "extremely conservative Christians" before their research lead them to the inevitable conclusion that this was nothing more than an ancient myth and supersticion elevated to the level of supernatural reality?

I'm talking about the scholars who have PhD's in Theology, Religious Studies and Christology, and who are always willing to have their theses and dissertations peer reviewed by anyone and everyone (not just others that hold their beliefs?). People that come to mind are Farrell Till, Dan Barker, Robert Price, and just about EVERYONE that is a fellow of the Jesus Seminar, as well as many others that finally awoke from their Christian slumber. To label them liberal/atheist scholars is somewhat of a misnomer because it automatically dumps them in a class of people like Richard Dawkins, Michael Martin or others that never had a biblical scholar background.
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Old 11-02-2001, 01:48 PM   #10
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Thumbs down

Tercel:
What is a "consensus of modern scholarship" exactly? After all the vast majority of qualified Biblical scholars are probably extremely conservative Christians who would probably associate all the books of the Bible with their traditional authors and probably Hebrews with Paul and Revelation with John the disciple at that.

LP:
Would they be allowed by their creeds to conclude otherwise? Claiming that one knows the answers in advance is not good scholarship.And would Tercel take such arguments seriously if they were offered in defense of other creeds? Would he take seriously the claim that the Koran had existed eternally in Heaven before being revealed to Mohammed, and that it was faithfully copied ever since? That is what the sorresponding sort of "qualified Koranic scholars" would claim.

Tercel:
Or do you perhaps mean simply the liberal/atheist scholars who you read?

LP:
These scholars have much less fundamental doctrinal stake in exactly who wrote what in the Bible?

Tercel:
... It is quite regular for even eye witness accounts to differ quite significantly and contradict in the details yet still have overall uniformity. If any two accounts are exactly the same then they are suspect because of likely collusion, as is mentioned above

LP:
However, the Gospels do contain parts with word-for-word identity, and such identity is generally accepted as evidence of plagiarism -- something that a legal scholar ought to be aware of.
.
Tercel:
Toto, this guy is one of the most famous lawyers of all time: If HE can't assess correctly the required level of discrepancies vs uniformity then no one can - especially not you.

LP:
However, Simon Greenleaf's track record implies that that apologist is one of many examples of people leaving their brains at the church door. The author of a treatise on legal evidence ought to have been aware of what counts as evidence of plagiarism.
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