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Old 05-25-2001, 01:42 AM   #11
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lpetrich: This criterion could demonstrate that the deities of Mt. Olympus had existed, since they were not only shamelessly anthropomorphic, they had often behaved in shamelessly immature ways.

SWL: No it couldn't as anthropomorphism wasn't seen as an embarrassing quality as concerns the greek gods nor is there any recognizable tendency towards presenting them as flawless. You're imposing modern Western categories of diety onto the greeks and hence your examples are irrelevant.

SecWebLurker
 
Old 05-25-2001, 05:52 AM   #12
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I don't believe that the Criterion of Embarrassment is used all by itself to determine validity. Is this something that those who disagree are picking up on? It is used in combination with many other Criteria.

It is a valid methodology made necessary mainly in NT studies because people won't just accept the NT at face value. If you're going to examine the truth of claims this in depth, then new methods must be found and utilized...the Criterion of Embarrassment is one of those and is used with other Criteria to determine historical probability.

Also, someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that many of those on the Jesus Seminar use this criteria.

Ish

[This message has been edited by Ish (edited May 25, 2001).]
 
Old 05-25-2001, 08:22 AM   #13
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by madmax2976:

So far I have not seen any evidence of "effective unanimity" across all discplines in regard to the criterion of embarassment. I'm not sure how I would even go about ascertaining whether or not the unanimity exits. Do I take a poll? Do I assume that if a few of the more noted historians/scholars (who can be quote) think its valid that this means there is a concensus among all scholars of varied disciplines?</font>
Since I will not ask you to take my word for it, I would simply encourage you to contact (or look up, or however you wish to conduct your research) as many scholars from as many fields of study as are relevant to the discussion. If you can find any that think that the criterion of embarrassment is completely useless, then check their arguments against those that argue in its favour and decide for yourself. If you do not find one side or the other convincing, then such is your right.

At the same time, I would not mind if you addressed my examples in my original post and gave me some reasons why you would not find these reports to be embarrassing, and therefore more likely to be true.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As for appeals to authority I think they can serve some purpose, but they are not strong arguments in and of themselves. History is a soft science, full of maybe's and perhaps and very little, if any, certainty's. Because of this, I think appeals to authority are less forceful than they otherwise might be. (I've seen a LOT of appeals to authority in this forum lately.)</font>
History is not about the determination of certainty, but, probabilities. On that basis, using the arguments and opinions of experts in numerous fields takes on special significance, as they do posess the years of training and expertise that hopefully gives them a clearer view of the truth. Allow me to offer an example:

Very few people speak or read Koine Greek or Aramaic, the original languages used in composing the NT Canons. Since it would be useless for me to claim any kind of right to interpret these languages, I am required to depend on the expertise of scholars in these languages, and do my best to compare what various scholars say about given "controversial" passages. I do not rely only on Christian scholars, but also on classical historians (hopefully some of whom will be sceptics or even atheists), and if they all agree on the translation, then I consider it to be probably reliable. I do not know how else I could formulate an informed opinion on the matter.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> So, while I resepct your right to descent max, if you find yourself rejecting the research and conclusions of the overwhelming majority of scholars and experts in a field, especially when the claim is not beyond the
realm of natural possibility (IOW, no exraordinary claims are being made), what is the reason you give for doing this?


madmax: I first have to know that this "overwhelming majority" is a reality. I know a few scholars can be quoted here and there, but I don't know how an "overwhelming majority" can be determined to exist in regards to the criterion of embarrassment.</font>
As I have said, if you can find any that consider the criterion to be useless, compare their arguments against those that do use it, and decide for yourself who makes the better case. What I can assure you is that you will have to look long and hard to find even one that considers it to be completely useless, and those that do are deconstructionists that will tell us that we cannot know anything about anything in history. I consider such a view to be quite pessimistic.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">And I guess I just don't see the embarassment angle. Why is the baptism supposed to be embarrasing? Why isn't it just an example of the writer showing the humble nature of his hero in the effort to point out the good character of the hero and to serve as a lesson for others. (They should be humble as well.)</font>
The reason that the event is so embarrassing is that the Jews (who happened to be the first Christians, as well as the authors of virtually all of the Bible) had clearly laid out criteria that the Messiah was expected to meet. He was not seen as being subject to anyone on earth, and was literally God's annointed. Further, the authors of the NT argued that Jesus was not only the Messiah, but that He was God Himself, so the admission that Jesus was baptized (and by implication was also sinful) would have been incomprehesible to the first Christians.

On this basis, the most reasonable explanation that we can give for the evangelists recording this story (plus the very heavy use of apologetics employed by them to make it appear more "acceptable") was that it really happened. To the sceptical historian in particular, this event is enormously embarrassing to the evangelists, and helps them to rationalize that Jesus could not possibly have been God.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As for my own research, well...I find that I have to be a historian, a textual critic, a Greek linguist, a theologian, a papryologist, an expert on mythology and ancient cultures, and a helluva fast reader to boot.</font>
Since it is literally impossible for any of us to be experts in all of these fields, then this is why it is reasonable to build upon the work of others, and to evaluate the strength of their arguments to the best of our ability. If, at the end of the day, you do not find them convincing, then so be it. I can only present what I believe to be true, and why I believe it. I cannot compel anyone to accept my arguments.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I do the best I can with the time I have and ask questions when I get a chance. Like why is the embarrassment criterion to be a trusted tool other than just because certain experts say so.</font>
If I may ask a favour here: I do not mind that you are sceptical on this point, but I would ask that if you do intend to do any research on this point, that you try and find any scholars that reject it as a tool. Finally, I would appreciate it if you would address my original examples from the first post and tell me if you think that they are more or less credible. In other words, do they look embarrassing to you, and therefore more likely to be true.

Thanks,

Nomad

 
Old 05-25-2001, 08:42 AM   #14
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SecWebLurker:
SWL: No it couldn't as anthropomorphism wasn't seen as an embarrassing quality as concerns the greek gods nor is there any recognizable tendency towards presenting them as flawless. You're imposing modern Western categories of diety onto the greeks and hence your examples are irrelevant.
</font>
Read what Xenophanes had had to say about them. And read what Plato wanted done about the works of Homer and Hesiod in his Republic.
 
Old 05-25-2001, 09:10 AM   #15
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Earl:

EARL: Except, of course, in a debate about Jesus' very historicity, in which case the use of the criterion would be obviously question-begging. Those scholars who use the criterion validly already believe on the basis of other reasons that Jesus was an historical person.

NOMAD: Prove this assertion please.

EARL: Ok. Take any use of the criterion of embarrassment. If the criterion is used to prove that someone existed, the use is circular and invalid. If, however, the criterion is used to prove what someone probably said or did, the use is valid.</font>
Since all we are talking about in the study of history is the determination of probabilities, then what is your problem Philip? I have not claimed that we can be "certain" about anything, only that some things are more probable than others, and accepting that a person makes a report that that is embarrassing to them personally is generally seen as being more probably true. I gave a number of examples in my opening post, perhaps you would care to address them.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD: Prove that the scholars I have used begin with the assumption that Jesus existed, then used their criteria of embarrassment to prove that he existed. It will be nice to see if you have actually read any of the sources that I have used in the debate.

EARL: Why on Earth would I want to prove that? Where did I say the scholars you cited used the criterion to prove that Jesus existed? Assuming they use the criterion validly, they use the criterion to show what Jesus said or did.</font>
You are still not getting this Philip.

The historians can ONLY determine first if Jesus said or did anything FIRST, THEN they decide if it is most reasonable to say that He existed. Unfortunately, you have your beliefs on this matter entirely backwards. After all, if the historian cannot determine with any degree of confidence that Jesus did or said anything at all, then this historian is most likely going to say that this person cannot be known to have existed at all. This is why the great majority of historians remain agnostic on the existence of Hercules, for example. We just do not know enough about him to say that he lived. This is not the case with Jesus.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> For example, on the assumption that Jesus existed the criterion could be used to show that Jesus was probably baptized by John. But the criterion cannot validly be used to show that Jesus existed, because the criterion assumes Jesus' existence. Thus your use of the criterion in your debate with Doherty was fallacious.</font>
Let me ask you Earl, how do you personally decide if someone probably existed in the past? Is it based on the belief that they actually did or said something, or on some other basis?

The books that I read, and the scholars that I study appear to think that we need to decide that a person actually did something or said something first. At that point the make a determination on the historicity of the events, words and people associated with them. What do you do?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> EARL: Nomad barely scratched the surface of Doherty's post, and apparently was doing his best J. P. Holding impression (the arrogance, the haughtiness, the abuse, the very selective treatment of his opponent's arguments, to which Nomad added arguments by assertion, sloppy over-generalizations, misrepresentations and blatant misuse of technical terms).

NOMAD: Ad hominem now? On the other hand, I have not read Holding's critique of Doherty, so I suppose I will have to take your word for it.

EARL: Do you know what the term "ad hominem" means, Nomad? If so, you'll understand the difference between attacking someone's tone in the presentation of her arguments, and attacking the individual herself irrespective of her presentation. Guess which one I did.</font>
OH!!! I see. You were attacking my tone, and calling my TONE arrogant, abusive, sloppy, dishonest (the real meaning of misrepresentation), but you certainly were not calling ME arrogant, abusive, sloppy, and dishonest. Thank you for the correction Philip. I withdraw my charge. Obviously you were not attacking me.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Regarding Holding, again if you actually read what I wrote you'll discover that I claimed that your approach and tone were similar to Holding's in general, not specifically to Holding's attack on Doherty. Holding uses the same approach and tone in all of his writings. Thus if you read Holding at all, you could have emulated his techniques.</font>
Well, I have my own techniques and style Philip. I suppose your belief that I emulated Holding was formed on the same basis that Christianity emulated somebody (we may not know who exactly, but we can be pretty sure that it had to be somebody right?).

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD: On the other hand, do you have a question for me Philip, or are you merely trying to cover Doherty's hiny as he exists stage right? (BTW, do you know that he has left? He has not informed me or anyone else of this bit, and if he has, I would rather move my discussion back to this forum and see if anyone wants to try and defend his arguments).

EARL: Doherty indicated at he end of his most recent post that is leaving the debate.</font>
Yeah, I saw that. I'll get to his post when I have time. It should not take long.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD: On the other hand, what did you find insubstantial in my post Philip? I would love to hear it.

EARL: Again, do you know what the term ad hominem means? How is a suspicion as to someone's strategy an attack on the individual herself?</font>
Sigh. Do not be so disengenuous Philip. You have no evidence as to what my motives and strategy were, so your speculations are just that. At the same time, your repeated efforts to try and portray me as the bad guy here, attacking poor Mr. Doherty (when all Mr. Doherty wanted to do was have a fair and open exchange of ideas so long as we stuck to his script) can be contstrued as attacks on me personally.

I guess you didn't know that, but now I hope you are more aware of what you are actually doing, and can refrain from doing it in the future.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> What did I find objectionable in your last post to Doherty? Mostly your abusive tone and your lack of a detailed point-by-point reply.</font>
How did you determine my "tone"? Second, since Earl's points were largely non-sequitor's why should I have to address all of them? I showed how he makes selective use of the evidence, appeals to authorities when it suits him, that I refuse to accept his Greek translations (since I still do not know his qualifications to translate the Greek... does anyone know what they are? I have not seen him offer them on the Jesus Mysteries boards either), and I have waited in vain for him to provide an example of what constitutes a clear example of an event taking place here on earth as opposed to on the Platonic heavenly plane.

Curiously, you have claimed that I have been the one that is sloppy in my methods (but happily, not that I am sloppy myself), abusive in my tone (but luckily, not that I am abusive), that I misrepresent his views and arguments (but not that I am a liar).

I wonder if you know what any of these things mean Philip.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I do think, though, that your objection as to the unfalsifiability of Doherty's arguments on Paul's Christ has some merit. Doherty responded to this objection in his most recent post, claiming that there simply aren't many references in Paul to an historical Jesus, and that therefore Doherty doesn't even have an opportunity to argue in an unfalsifiable way, which would require explaining away a whole batch of controversial references, not just four. I think Doherty is right about this, but Nomad's argument here could be pressed.</font>
I'm going to address this point when I reply to Earl, but I am curious: Why do you think that it is acceptable for him to refuse to offer an unfalsifiable argument?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I think also that Nomad's claim that Doherty is inconsistent in relying sometimes on scholarly consensus, such as regarding Q, but not at other times is not an irresponsible criticism. Nomad's use of this point, though, was too general. To be effective Nomad would have to demonstrate a real inconsistency at a greater level of detail, since obviously there are differences in believing that Q existed and that Jesus existed.</font>
Well, since Earl has fled the field, I have not had an opportunity to address all of the examples of his doing this on his website. I will begin that task on this board, however, and invite anyone who cares to try, to defend his work for him.

Stay tuned.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Of course, Doherty doesn't ever JUST appeal to consensus, but always supports his position with arguments.</font>
Yes, but his arguments are mere assertions and hand waving much of the time. As just one example, he betrays his ignorance of the science of textual criticism, yet wants to use it to argue for his idiosyncratic belief in various interpoloations and mistranslations of the text. Either he gets consistent in his methodology, or he will be called for it.

I did that, he ran. C'est la vie.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I was not impressed, though, with Nomad's outright ignoring of Doherty's arguments. For example, Nomad simply repeated his point that John's gospel uses mystical language just like Paul's, and that therefore there's no point ini talking about Paul, even though Doherty already addressed this by pointing out the obvious differences between Paul and John. Only for John is a narrative about an historical individual central.</font>
You must not have been reading my posts Philip. I cautioned you about this before when you tried to criticize me in the past. Paul was not writing narrative, therefore we should not expect him to put narrative in his letters. But the language used by both Paul and John is virtually identical, and in John's narrative (but not his own epistles), he links these phrases to a clearly historical Jesus. Since Earl wants to focus on the letters, but not the narratives, he is simply beling selective in his use of evidence. No sceptic should be willing to let him get away with such tactics, but again, all I can do is point out when and how Earl did this. I cannot make anyone accept the truth of this matter.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> And Nomad completely ignored Doherty's point that the use of the criterion of embarrassment in a debate about Jesus' very historicity is circular.</font>
Of course it isn't circular Philip. If my son confesses to me that he broke a rule, then I will accept that he probably broke that rule. The fact that he has confessed to an embarrassing event gives credence to the claim. How is this circular reasoning?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">EARL: Now Nomad can claim that he won the debate by default because Doherty left.

NOMAD: Well... were I come from (yes, I know it is Western Canada, but I can't help that), when one side forfits a match (twice), then it is generally viewed as a concession.

You are free to look at it any way you wish of course.

EARL: Leaving a debate is obviously not equivalent to conceding defeat, although certainly a debater can leave, knowing she has no chance of winning but failing to concede in order to save face. I hardly think Doherty did that. I wish he would continue on, but I can understand the matter of time constraint. Doherty doesn't think the debate is worthwhile because of Nomad's unwillingness to debate matters in detail and without the prejudicial tone.</font>
Poor Doherty. I think it was Harry Truman who talked about heated kitchens and the like. If Doherty thought that this debate was hot, he should try and get in front of a genuinely scholarly audience and see what happens.

Now you know why he prefers to hang out in protected forums.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">EARL: This often happens in boxing matches. One fighter thrashes the other, but to save face the losing fighter fakes an injury or tries to get disqualified to avoid being knocked out.

NOMAD: Yes, well, I won't tell Earl that you said he faked an injury, but you may want to withdraw this point before he sees it. We both know how sensative he is.

EARL: You fail to understand the analogy. My point was that YOU are the one who "faked the injury" by arguing in an abusive and sloppy way you knew he wouldn't like, to end the debate early and claim an easy victory given that Doherty would consider continuing a waste of time. You are the one who didn't want to continue the debate so you ended the debate, in effect, by compelling Doherty to leave. That said, obviously Doherty wasn't too eager to spend his time debating in a flexible setting. Neither of the participants were willing to debate on the other's terms. Once again, I blame the lack of moderation for not setting up guidelines at the start. </font>
Are you blaming me or not Philip? It sure looks like you are blaming me for the end of the debate. For your information, I did not want this debate to end at all. I did not force Earl to flee. Once he realized that the debate was actually going to be about the historicity of Jesus, rather than his sophistry on Paul's epistles, I can understand his desire to beat a hasty retreat, but to then turn around and claim that I someone contrived to force him to end the discussion is ludicrous.

I suspected that Earl would not be willing to take the heat. I have watched him whine and moan about the moderator of the Jesus Mysteries Board, and recommend his removal as moderator, and censorship of his posts, and to be candid, it has been pathetic. But now you know why I wanted this debate to take place in public, in the light of day, where no one would be able to delete my posts, censor me, or ban me from the boards for putting my own arguments forward.

Earl did not have to come here in the first place. No one is going to make him stay against his will. But do not try and pass the blame for his retreat and cries of foul on me. He has no case, he knows it, and from this point forward anyone that wants to use him as a source on these boards had best be prepared to defend the very things that Earl himself refused to defend.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">EARL: I won't step into the breach because I'm not a mythicist per se. I'm agnostic as to whether Jesus existed. I believe the evidence is weak enough not to believe firmly one way or the other, but to forego judgment. On the other hand, I'm interested in Doherty's arguments, which is why I was eager to read the debate.</font>
If you want to see him argue his points, I would recommend that you sign up for the Jesus Mysteries Boards he advertises on his site. You can then join him in his calls for the moderator's head, since that moderator had the audacity to call Earl on his pathetic and self serving translations of Biblical Greek (and yes, the moderator is an agnostic on the question of the historical Jesus). Like he has with me, he cries foul, claims that he is not treated with respect, and refuses to address points from someone who is far too "abusive" for his liking.

As for me, I prefer to stay in a forum where Christians are clearly given a fair hearing, and I can expect to produce my arguments and beliefs without having scorn and derision heaped on my head.

In the meantime, I will bring the discussion on Doherty's views back to this board, and I will see who wants to try and defend him.

Brian Trafford (Nomad)

[This message has been edited by Brian Trafford (edited May 25, 2001).]
 
Old 05-25-2001, 09:16 AM   #16
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
The reason that the event is so embarrassing is that the Jews (who happened to be the first Christians, as well as the authors of virtually all of the Bible) had clearly laid out criteria that the Messiah was expected to meet. He was not seen as being subject to anyone on earth, and was literally God's annointed. Further, the authors of the NT argued that Jesus was not only the Messiah, but that He was God Himself, so the admission that Jesus was baptized (and by implication was also sinful) would have been incomprehesible to the first Christians.
</font>
You're doing it again, Nomad. You present the gospels as a monolithic, totally consistent entity without any internal development. I said this before, and I will say it again, and again, as necessary:

Mark does not consider Jesus to be God. You only claim that because his text is bundled with other, probably later texts partly based on his, that claim Jesus to be God. If all we had was Mark, you could never defend the position. At most, he considers Jesus to be a special messenger from God, gifted with miraculous powers. He receives these powers after his baptism. Nowehere does Mark say that Jesus was already the 'Son of God' before the baptism.

So, the author of this text is not embarrassed. On the contrary, I posit he had Jesus baptised to clean away his sins up till that moment, so that he became sin-free and in the position to receive the Godly inspiration, or whatever you want to call it. This makes total sense, and is just as supported by the 'facts' (or lack of them) as your version.

If it was embarassing, why did he mention it at all? Why not start the narrative straight after the baptism and so make the best possible effort at de-emphasising the event? After all, he is happy to totally omit the virgin birth as well - why would he have done that? Wouldn't he have considered that essential if Jesus was the literal Son of God? Wouldn't that have impressed his audience, and have lent credibility for a claim that Jesus was God?

There is a simple way out of all this. May I suggest that for Mark, there was no virgin birth, Jesus was a man, and just a man, he got baptised by a historic person to give it a nice historical touch, and finally received divine inspiration and started doing his miracles.

Following writers expanded the story, perhaps to satisfy the theological needs of themselves or their particular audience, and inflated the Jesus figure, first into the Messiah, and eventually into God himself. Only by that time might there have been any embarrasment - and by then it was too late to cut out the baptism passage.

(However, as an aside, since you yourself don't seem to be all that embarrassed although you think Jesus was God, I am not at all sure that even the writers of the later gospels were necessarily embarrassed. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.)

You say that the Jewish Messiah would not have been subject to any man. Nor should he have died, let alone be executed like a criminal. So? To me, all this shows is that Mark had a different concept of Jesus than what you think he should have had. Why, if all these things really happened, should Mark still think of Jesus as the traditional Jewish Messiah? If Mark was an orthodox Jew, he would have steered clear of Jesus and not written anything. So, maybe Mark wasn't an orthodox Jew at all? So, if that is the case, maybe Mark's Jesus is nowhere as constrained by the Messiah characteristics as you claim? So, in other words, what you think should have been embarrassing to him, in actual fact was nothing like that at all?

Face it - we don't know anything about the writer of 'Mark', except his story. His motives, his background, his audience are totally unknown. All we can do is interpret him, based on his text alone. You choose to do that your way, someone else may choose to do that in another way. Who is right and who is wrong? Nobody knows. Your embarrasment criteria is no more than a 'just-so' story. It works for you, fine, but don't ever pretend that it proves the reality of a man behind the character in the story. There may be, or there may not - but this particular 'argument' is total bovine pooh.

(I know, you'll tell me that I am going against "the majority of scholars" - and by Jolly, do I love it )

fG


[This message has been edited by faded_Glory (edited May 25, 2001).]


[This message has been edited by faded_Glory (edited May 25, 2001).]
 
Old 05-25-2001, 09:27 AM   #17
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by faded_Glory:
[B] You're doing it again, Nomad. You present the gospels as a monolithic, totally consistent entity without any internal development. I said this before, and I will say it again, and again, as necessary:

Mark does not consider Jesus to be God. You only claim that because his text is bundled with other, probably later texts partly based on his, that claim Jesus to be God. If all we had was Mark, you could never defend the position. At most, he considers Jesus to be a special messenger from God, gifted with miraculous powers. He receives these powers after his baptism. Nowehere does Mark say that Jesus was already the 'Son of God' before the baptism.

So, the author of this text is not embarrassed. On the contrary, I posit he had Jesus baptised to clean away his sins up till that moment, so that he became sin-free and in the position to receive the Godly inspiration, or whatever you want to call it. This makes total sense, and is just as supported by the 'facts' (or lack of them) as your version.

If it was embarassing, why did he mention it at all? Why not start the narrative straight after the baptism and so make the best possible effort at de-emphasising the event? After all, he is happy to totally omit the virgin birth as well - why would he have done that? Wouldn't he have considered that essential if Jesus was the literal Son of God? Wouldn't that have impressed his audience, and have lent credibility for a claim that Jesus was God?

There is a simple way out of all this. May I suggest that for Mark, there was no virgin birth, Jesus was a man, and just a man, he got baptised by a historic person to give it a nice historical touch, and finally received divine inspiration and started doing his miracles.

Following writers expanded the story, perhaps to satisfy the theological needs of themselves or their particular audience, and inflated the Jesus figure, first into the Messiah, and eventually into God himself. Only by that time might there have been any embarrasment - and by then it was too late to cut out the baptism passage.

(However, as an aside, since you yourself don't seem to be all that embarrassed although you think Jesus was God, I am not at all sure that even the writers of the later gospels were necessarily embarrassed. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.)

You say that the Jewish Messiah would not have been subject to any man. Nor should he have died, let alone be executed like a criminal. So? To me, all this shows is that Mark had a different concept of Jesus than what you think he should have had. Why, if all these things really happened, should Mark still think of Jesus as the traditional Jewish Messiah? If Mark was an orthodox Jew, he would have steered clear of Jesus and not written anything. So, maybe Mark wasn't an orthodox Jew at all? So, if that is the case, maybe Mark's Jesus is nowhere as constrained by the Messiah characteristics as you claim? So, in other words, what you think should have been embarrassing to him, in actual fact was nothing like that at all?

Face it - we don't know anything about the writer of 'Mark', except his story. His motives, his background, his audience are totally unknown. All we can do is interpret him, based on his text alone. You choose to do that your way, someone else may choose to do that in another way. Who is right and who is wrong? Nobody knows. Your embarrasment criteria is no more than a 'just-so' story. It works for you, fine, but don't ever pretend that it proves the reality of a man behind the character in the story. There may be, or there may not - but this particular 'argument' is total bovine pooh.

(I know, you'll tell me that I am going against "the majority of scholars" - and by Jolly, do I love it )

fG


 
Old 05-25-2001, 11:58 AM   #18
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by faded_Glory:

You're doing it again, Nomad. You present the gospels as a monolithic, totally consistent entity without any internal development. I said this before, and I will say it again, and again, as necessary:</font>
Whoa there fG. I have made no such claims, and have, in fact, made the opposite argument. In fact, in the rest of your post you appear to understand that fact, and address the point that the NT has a developing tradition with regards to Jesus, what you apparently have missed is that the Gospels were written in the midst of this developement, and not in some kind of vacuum.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Mark does not consider Jesus to be God. You only claim that because his text is bundled with other, probably later texts partly based on his, that claim Jesus to be God.</font>
Umm... no, his Gospel is mixed in with other almost certainly earlier texts, like the letters from Paul. The highest developed Christology, in fact, happens to be found in Paul's epistles, the Gospel of John, and Hebrews, all of which could conceivably predate Mark. Paul certainly predates Mark, and he very obviously considered Jesus to be God.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> If all we had was Mark, you could never defend the position. At most, he considers Jesus to be a special messenger from God, gifted with miraculous powers. He receives these powers after his baptism. Nowehere does Mark say that Jesus was already the 'Son of God' before the baptism.</font>
Hmm... this view is impossible to prove, or to refute, since Mark self evidently wrote the Gospel after he came to believe in Jesus being the "Son of God". Trying to determine when he reached this conclusion by using Mark in isolation from all other contemoraneous Christian thought is nonsensical. Quite simply, if Mark did not accept that Jesus was the Son of God before he ever wrote the Gospel, he would not have bothered to write it at all, so I am left to wonder what your argument is here exactly?

That Mark was actually an Ebonionite? Do you have any evidence of this?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">So, the author of this text is not embarrassed. On the contrary, I posit he had Jesus baptised to clean away his sins up till that moment, so that he became sin-free and in the position to receive the Godly inspiration, or whatever you want to call it. This makes total sense, and is just as supported by the 'facts' (or lack of them) as your version.</font>
Sadly, you are mistaken fG. You want to view Mark in isolation from the wider context of early Christian thought, and this is not reasonable. If Mark did not write his gospel until the late 60's-70's AD, then he was writing for a Church that had already been founded by Peter, Paul and the other apostles 30 to 40 years earlier, and from Paul's writings we can see that they had long since considered Jesus to be the Son of God, and God as well.

On this basis, your view makes no sense at all.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">If it was embarassing, why did he mention it at all? Why not start the narrative straight after the baptism and so make the best possible effort at de-emphasising the event? After all, he is happy to totally omit the virgin birth as well - why would he have done that? Wouldn't he have considered that essential if Jesus was the literal Son of God? Wouldn't that have impressed his audience, and have lent credibility for a claim that Jesus was God?</font>
All very good questions, and they help to prove my point perfectly. Historians ask these exact same questions, and have arrived at exactly the same conclusion that I have accepted. The events were too well known in the Jesus tradition for him to leave them out. He could skip the virgin birth narrative (we do not know why, perhaps it had not developed yet, perhaps he rejected it completely, perhaps he did not yet know about it), but Mark could not skip the baptism.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">There is a simple way out of all this. May I suggest that for Mark, there was no virgin birth, Jesus was a man, and just a man, he got baptised by a historic person to give it a nice historical touch, and finally received divine inspiration and started doing his miracles.</font>
And since you admit that you know nothing about Mark's motives, you accept that you are engaged in 100% speculation here fG. The problem, of course, is that you are trying to examine Mark as if he lived in an isolated world in which the teachings and beliefs of Paul (and Peter, and the author of Hebrews) had long since come to prevail in early Christian theology.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Following writers expanded the story, perhaps to satisfy the theological needs of themselves or their particular audience, and inflated the Jesus figure, first into the Messiah, and eventually into God himself. Only by that time might there have been any embarrasment - and by then it was too late to cut out the baptism passage.</font>
Why was it too late? Just burn Mark's Gospel, and write new one. More than one sceptic believes that Christians did this all the time. If Mark invented the baptism himself (BTW, you forgot to mention that "Q" has the baptism as well), then the story barely had 5 to 10 years to develop before Matt and Luke got their hands on it, and either or both of them could have easily left it out, just like they left out other stories in Mark.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">(However, as an aside, since you yourself don't seem to be all that embarrassed although you think Jesus was God, I am not at all sure that even the writers of the later gospels were necessarily embarrassed. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.)</font>
As I said in my post to Doherty, I am a Christian, and have accepted the Christian apologetic for the baptism. Sceptics who are not Christians reject this apologetic as nonsense, and see the historical record pointing to a much different picture of the historical Jesus. Personally, I do not have a problem with them doing this, and find debates on this point to be far more interesting than merely establishing the existence of a Palestinian holy man named Jesus of Nazareth.

Out of curiousity, why do you think that mythicists like Earl accept the power of the apologetic offered by the evangelists on the baptism of Jesus?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You say that the Jewish Messiah would not have been subject to any man. Nor should he have died, let alone be executed like a criminal. So? To me, all this shows is that Mark had a different concept of Jesus than what you think he should have had.</font>
My concept of what the Messiah should be like is irrelevant here. What is important is what did 1st Century Jews expect from the Messiah, and obviously it wasn't what Mark and the other evangelists and apostles had to say about Jesus. This was counterproductive to their goals, and if they were going to be making up a Messiah from pure myth, they could easily have done better than this.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Why, if all these things really happened, should Mark still think of Jesus as the traditional Jewish Messiah? If Mark was an orthodox Jew, he would have steered clear of Jesus and not written anything. So, maybe Mark wasn't an orthodox Jew at all?</font>
Of course he was not an orthodox Jew. The problem here is that he is trying to convince other Jews that his Messiah, Jesus, is THE Messiah. If he is going to make this character up as a theological fiction, all he has to do is make sure that his guy lines up with those expectations. With no historical Jesus to get in the way, then he could have done this quite easily, right?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> So, if that is the case, maybe Mark's Jesus is nowhere as constrained by the Messiah characteristics as you claim? So, in other words, what you think should have been embarrassing to him, in actual fact was nothing like that at all?</font>
Mark is preaching to Jews (just like Paul, and Peter and the other apostles before him). They all know what the Messiah is supposed to look like, and what he is supposed to do. Yet they include stories about Him that do not line up with these expectations. The most reasonable reason to explain why they did talk about these embarrassments was because they really happened.

Psalm 110:1-2 The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.

Daniel 7:13-14, 27 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.'


The Jews were not expecting a dying God-man, nor were they expecting someone that would be subject to anyone except God Himself. If we want to know if a thing is embarrassing to someone, we must first learn what they expected, and see if the things they report line up with those expectations and beliefs.

Mark and the other Gospel writers refer directly to these and other prophecies, so they were "orthodox" in the sense of what Jews expected the Messiah to be like. As you asked yourself, why, given these expectations, would they want to talk about Jesus (their Messiah) being less than God, less than ruler of the World, and less than a prophet like John?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Face it - we don't know anything about the writer of 'Mark', except his story. His motives, his background, his audience are totally unknown. All we can do is interpret him, based on his text alone.</font>
No fG. We must examine Mark in the context of his times, and the beliefs that he and the people of those times would have shared. It would be nonsensical to try and examine any book without trying to comprehend what the people of that books time thought, so do not make that error with Mark and the other Gospels.

Peace,

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited May 25, 2001).]
 
Old 05-25-2001, 12:35 PM   #19
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"Out of curiousity, why do you think that mythicists like Earl accept the power of the apologetic offered by the evangelists on the baptism of Jesus?"

Nomad - could you explain this? Earl Doherty laughed at your apologetics.
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Old 05-25-2001, 01:02 PM   #20
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NOMAD: The historians can ONLY determine first if Jesus said or did anything FIRST, THEN they decide if it is most reasonable to say that He existed. Unfortunately, you have your beliefs on this matter entirely backwards. After all, if the historian cannot determine with any degree of confidence that Jesus did or said anything at all, then this historian is most likely going to say that this person cannot be known to have existed at all. This is why the great majority of historians remain agnostic on the existence of Hercules, for example. We just do not know enough about him to say that he lived. This is not the case with Jesus.

EARL: You should have no trouble then finding a scholar who uses the criterion to prove that Jesus existed. Can you quote from a scholar who says something like "Because the Church would not have kept this information were it not well-established in the tradition as historical, therefore the information is historical and Jesus existed"? The reason this is invalid is because, as Doherty pointed out and Nomad ignored, if we assume that Jesus did not exist, the material would no longer have been very embarrassing, and at best would have been embarrassing within a literary framework. Take the statement above, "Because the Church would not have…" The first part of that statement is an assumption. The claim that the Church "would not have" kept the embarrassing material already assumes that Jesus existed, because the pressure on the Church that would have forced them into what they "would not have done" is none other than the effects of an historical Jesus. If we remove that assumption, as must be done in a debate about Jesus' historicity, the extreme embarrassment vanishes and all that is left is embarrassment in a literary setting. In Mark we don't even find that. All of this was pointed out by Doherty and ignored by Nomad.



NOMAD: Let me ask you Earl, how do you personally decide if someone probably existed in the past? Is it based on the belief that they actually did or said something, or on some other basis?

The books that I read, and the scholars that I study appear to think that we need to decide that a person actually did something or said something first. At that point the make a determination on the historicity of the events, words and people associated with them. What do you do?

EARL: Your very question here is circular. You ask "Is it [the decision as to whether someone existed] based on the belief that THEY actually did or said something, or on some other basis?" Your question boils down to "Is the decision as to whether someone existed based on the belief that the person who existed did or said something?" From what I've read on the subject, the scholars decide that Jesus is historical based more on (a) a feeling for all the evidence combined, for the "ring of authenticity," (b) the utility of the assumption of historicity in explaining all the evidence taken as a whole, (c) relatively unproblematic references to the individual rather than necessarily to the individual's deeds or sayings, and (d) confessional interests, the feeling that Jesus still exists and is personally related to people.

Looking at the stories about someone's sayings and deeds, by lending plausibility, can support belief in someone's historicity, but the criterion of embarrassment is circular. Doherty's alternative use of the criterion proves as much.



NOMAD: OH!!! I see. You were attacking my tone, and calling my TONE arrogant, abusive, sloppy, dishonest (the real meaning of misrepresentation), but you certainly were not calling ME arrogant, abusive, sloppy, and dishonest. Thank you for the correction Philip. I withdraw my charge. Obviously you were not attacking me.

EARL: I was attacking the tone of the arguments that you wrote. My comments were directed at the arguments not the person making them irrespective of the arguments. If you knew what the fallacy is you would understand the difference between commenting on someone's argument and directing attention away from the arguments themselves and towards the person who made them. Since my comments depend for their defense on attention squarely focussed on what you wrote, the comments are not ad hominem. By Nomad's confused definition of the fallacy every single comment about an argument would be ad hominem, because all arguments are written by an author and therefore all comments are indirectly about the author. Once again, Nomad misuses technical terms, and he does so again below.



NOMAD: Well, I have my own techniques and style Philip. I suppose your belief that I emulated Holding was formed on the same basis that Christianity emulated somebody (we may not know who exactly, but we can be pretty sure that it had to be somebody right?).

EARL: Either that or a comparison between the tone of your writing and that of Holding. I'll say, though, that I don't blame you for your approach or "style." If I were a conservative Christian and believed that Satan really does exist and deceives people in order to keep them from heaven, I would surely believe that a committed mythicist is in league with Satan. Hence, there would be no reason whatsoever for a respectful attitude when debating a mythicist. There is no commandment in the bible that I'm aware of that states "Be kind, courteous and fair to Satan." Nomad and Holding simply call a spade a spade, from their perspective. Doherty didn't know how confessional Nomad's approach is, and if he did he wouldn't have entered the debate because he's interested only in tightly regulated, scholarly debates. It's his fault, though, for not making this clear enough to the moderators and demanding a guideline from the start. At the very least, there should have been a limit to the number of posts, to make certain that the participants keep to their case and attack the opponent for fear of running out of time.



NOMAD: On the other hand, I am curious to find out how you knew that he had left before he actually made this announcement. I am not suggesting anything, but I do find it interesting that you proved to be so prescient on this point.

EARL: I read his post first before I wrote mine. Mine was posted on May 25, 2001 12:58 AM, whereas Doherty's was on May 24, 2001 10:13 PM.



NOMAD: Sigh. Do not be so disengenuous Philip. You have no evidence as to what my motives and strategy were, so your speculations are just that. At the same time, your repeated efforts to try and portray me as the bad guy here, attacking poor Mr. Doherty (when all Mr. Doherty wanted to do was have a fair and open exchange of ideas so long as we stuck to his script) can be contstrued as attacks on me personally.

EARL: "Disingenuous"? Since when can a "suspicion" be frank? I don't claim that you prophesied the future and knew for certain that Doherty would pull out given your approach, but I don't rule out that you hoped this would happen. The only evidence we have is that you knew Doherty was touchy on this since he almost pulled out for good earlier on, complaining about your approach, and yet you didn't oblige him with a detailed examination of any of his arguments, such as his long argument about Q and John the Baptist in direct reply to one of your objections. And once again, you were absolutely free to argue in any way you wished since there was zero moderation. Your fault, therefore, was entirely informal. You could have respected your opponent's wishes at least for the sake of keeping the debate going. But you probably have little interest in that, what with your necessary disrespect for the committed mythicist relative to your belief that such a person is deeply committed to Satan and deceiving people into going to hell. Were you to have shown Doherty more courtesy you would indeed have deserved extra praise, because of your initial belief that Doherty is especially evil (active in Satan's project of deception).



NOMAD: How did you determine my "tone"?

EARL: By reading such lines from your post as:

"Given that Earl has nothing but contempt for the science of Textual Criticism, coupled with the fact that he does not understand the criteria of embarrassment (or dissimilarity) leaves me wondering why he expects to be taken seriously by the scholarly community at all. If his purpose is to appeal to the anti-intellectual biases like some kind of populist, then that is fine."

"Sadly, there is no other way to look at Earl's efforts except to label them as extremely amateurish especially since the arguments are so clearly driven by his theory that Jesus was a purely mythological construct."

"Sadly, evidence that contravenes one's theory is generally seen to have disproved that theory, and in spite of Earl's rationalizations to the contrary, the number and clarity of references to Jesus is far too great to allow us to give his theories more than passing interest."

"So, why won't I debate these kinds of passages with Earl? Quite simply, I can read."

"As I said before, I do not argue sloppy translations with true believers."

"If you can do these things, and give us legitimate reasons not to find the events that I have listed as being historically probable, then we can make some progress in this discussion. If you cannot, or will not, then I will understand your desire to withdraw from the discussion, and I will pursue these questions with others that do wish to challenge me and my evidence."

****

In looking through your post to locate those abusive remarks I was also reminded of two of your serious blunders from that post. I'll comment on these here:

(1) Regarding Jesus' baptism, Nomad quotes Doherty as saying, "I personally have no doubt about the existence of John the Baptist, based on the Josephus passage. But it is almost embarrassing to have to point out to Brian that the historical authenticity of a character who appears within a piece of writing that may be fiction or contain fictional elements (to assume them as fact is to beg the question) says nothing about the historical authenticity of any other element of that piece of writing. If I write an historical novel about Adolf Hitler, his authenticity doesn't establish the authenticity of any other character in the novel. I don't need to belabor the point that this piece of "evidence" for the baptism of Jesus is completely worthless, and that this is probably the crudest and most naïve fallacy in the catalogue of logical contraventions."

Doherty's point is that proof of John's existence has no bearing on whether John baptized Jesus. Nomad claims that "Earl has failed completely to understand the point I was making with regards to the baptism of Jesus, and how it helps to demonstrate the historicity of Jesus. Here is my first example of this failure," and then he quotes Doherty's passage above.

Nomad then says "In Earl's very first sentence here we have the crux of my argument in a very nice nutshell. The existence of John the Baptist is undisputed, even by Earl, and this based on one lone passage about him from Josephus."

Here Nomad's point is that Doherty is guilty of inconsistency in agreeing that John existed but not Jesus, even though there are more independent references to Jesus than John.

So what was Nomad's original point about the Baptist? Did Nomad make the mistake Doherty says he made or did Nomad make this point about inconsistency, what he now calls "the crux" of his argument? When we go back to Nomad's earlier post where he brought up John the Baptist, we find Nomad saying "Scholars of every stripe admit that this event actually happened. Why?….Well, first of all, besides being mentioned in all four of the Gospels, the existence of John the Baptist is confirmed by an undisputed passage written by the Jewish historian Josephus."

And then Nomad quotes Josephus' passage that has bearing only on John's existence not his baptism of Jesus. Thus Nomad did indeed make exactly the mistake Doherty accused him of making: Nomad argued that scholars accept the EVENT of Jesus' baptism because the EXISTENCE of John is confirmed in Josephus. That was a major blunder on Nomad's part, pure and simple.

Probably realizing this blunder subsequent to Doherty's criticism, Nomad replies with the blatant misrepresentation, "As to his argument that associating one person with another does not automatically make either person automatically historical, this is simply a truism. I would hope that Earl's thinking would be a bit more subtle than this however. After all, I expect that he would not reject a person as being historical simply because that person IS linked to another person of the same period of time."

Doherty's point was not that a source that associates Jesus with John doesn't make John or Jesus historical. Doherty's point rather was right on target: proof of someone's existence is not proof of an event, something the person allegedly said or did, or what Doherty called "any other element of that piece of writing." At best Josephus shows that John existed not that John baptized Jesus. Nomad tried to forget that he made that blunder, and misrepresented Doherty's objection.

But Nomad also moved the goal posts, mutating "the crux" of his argument about John. Nowhere in Nomad's original post about John do we find a direct statement of the argument from inconsistency, let alone any emphasis on this, the "crux" of his argument. The only passage that is close to the argument from inconsistency is this: "Interestingly, it is on the basis of this lone passage that historians accept the historicity of John the Baptist as being certain. Given that the claim that a holy man by the name of John preached and baptized people in the Jordan is in no way extraordinary, this amount of evidence is more than sufficient." But this is hardly the "crux" of Nomad's case or even an explicit statement of the objection, since Nomad then goes on to use the criterion of embarrassment to show that John baptized Jesus, an entirely separate argument.

(2) Regarding Nomad's line of criticism that Doherty surprisingly takes side with evangelical literalists and Christian apologists in explaining away the embarrassment of Jesus' baptism, and that if the skeptics were consistent they would chastise Doherty for this adherence to Christian strategy, Nomad's whole argument is spectacularly off the mark for one obvious reason: Doherty's point in explaining away the embarrassment of the baptism is radically anti-Christian. His point is that Jesus didn't exist in the first place! Hardly an evangelical Christian conclusion. And yet Nomad spends an awful lot of time making this J. P. Holdingian argument. At one point he says "The biggest problem I have with (the second) Earl's entire argument here is that he buys into the apologetic effect and force of the evangelists because it suits his purposes."



NOMAD: Second, since Earl's points were largely non-sequitor's why should I have to address all of them?

EARL: Can you quote where you demonstrated in detail that one of Doherty's arguments commits the non sequitor fallacy? The word "sequitor" is found only once in the entire debate, where you say "Alright, time to briefly talk about Earl's last non-sequitor. He wanted to talk about the Gospels apologetic embellishments of the character of Joseph of Arimathea. What does he say?"

Here you say this is Doherty's "last" non sequitor, which means that you must have discussed earlier non sequitors from Doherty. I can't find any demonstration from your posts that supports this accusation. Do you demonstrate that Doherty's conclusion about Joseph doesn't follow from his arguments? Not at all. Rather you fly all over the map with evasive arguments. First we have the accusation that Doherty appeals to authority, even though Doherty appeals rather to various arguments in support of his position, such as his argument (which I myself made in my debate with you and SWL) that Mark would likely have come up with a figure like Joseph merely to fill the gap between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Here Nomad confuses the fallacious and the non-fallacious appeal to authority, the difference being that the latter SUBSTITUTES for argument or appeals to the wrong authority or a non-authority.

Next, we have Nomad's declaration that a discussion of Joseph's historicity is irrelevant to the debate, even though Doherty stated clearly his discussion of Joseph was a matter of giving an example of progressive redaction of the gospels, an important point for mythicism.

Next we have what Nomad calls "the really big problem," namely the criterion of embarrassment argument.

Then Nomad goes ahead and admits that after all Jesus' burial is indeed "controversial in the scholarly community," and states that that's the reason he didn't bring in Joseph to prove that Jesus existed.

Finally we have what Nomad calls the "biggest problem" with Doherty's entire argument, the grossly irrelevant and confused objection that Doherty argues like a Christian apologist. There's no demonstration here that Doherty's conclusion about Joseph is a "non sequitor." What we have instead is Nomad's all-too familiar misuse of technical terms.



NOMAD: I showed how he makes selective use of the evidence,

EARL: And he refuted your argument from inconsistency. For example, he pointed out that the quality not the quantity of the sources is important when evaluating evidence. Thus the evidence for Jesus in Josephus is different from the evidence for John in the same source.



NOMAD: appeals to authorities when it suits him,

EARL: And here you confuse the fallacious and the non-fallacious appeal to authority. There's nothing inconsistent, by the way, in agreeing with the consensus of scholars at some times but not others. There is no obligation that a scholar must agree with scholars every time they form a consensus or not at all. This is not an all or nothing, black or white game. Doherty is free to agree sometimes with the consensus and not at other times, so long as he supports his position with arguments. There's no automatic inconsistency here, although Nomad relies on the accusation itself to win his point rather than on a demonstration of inconsistency on Doherty's part.



NOMAD: that I refuse to accept his Greek translations (since I still do not know his qualifications to translate the Greek... does anyone know what they are? I have not seen him offer them on the Jesus Mysteries boards either),

EARL: Here you rely on an anti-debate fallacious appeal to authority, whereas all you have to do is give the reasons why Doherty's translations are invalid. If the consensus of translators carries weight, you could simply demonstrate in detail where Doherty's translations go wrong. Instead you appeal to consensus in general and give no detailed objections to Doherty's translations. In other words, you avoid the debate.



NOMAD: and I have waited in vain for him to provide an example of what constitutes a clear example of an event taking place here on earth as opposed to on the Platonic heavenly plane.

EARL: Doherty addresses this objection in his last reply.



NOMAD: Curiously, you have claimed that I have been the one that is sloppy in my methods (but happily, not that I am sloppy myself), abusive in my tone (but luckily, not that I am abusive), that I misrepresent his views and arguments (but not that I am a liar).

[SNIP]

EARL: And I stand by all three statements. Your last post was very sloppy, evasive, abusive, and misrepresentative. That is why Doherty left the debate, not because you demonstrably refuted him.



NOMAD: Yes, but his arguments are mere assertions and hand waving much of the time. As just one example, he betrays his ignorance of the science of textual criticism, yet wants to use it to argue for his idiosyncratic belief in various interpoloations and mistranslations of the text. Either he gets consistent in his methodology, or he will be called for it.

EARL: Doherty doesn't betray any ignorance of "the science of textual criticism." What Doherty claims is that this is a very soft (subjective) science, and that there is therefore a lot of room for an historian of the ancient world to maneuver.



NOMAD: You must not have been reading my posts Philip. I cautioned you about this before when you tried to criticize me in the past. Paul was not writing narrative, therefore we should not expect him to put narrative in his letters. But the language used by both Paul and John is virtually identical, and in John's narrative (but not his own epistles), he links these phrases to a clearly historical Jesus.

EARL: What you fail to see is that Doherty is free to argue that John chose to write a narrative because his belief in Jesus' historicity was central to him, whereas Paul chose to write only abstract theology because his belief in Jesus' historicity was at best optional if not non-existent. Your point is that it was possible to use the abstract theology and believe in Jesus' historicity since that's what John did. But since Paul doesn't give substantial references to an historical Jesus, at most we have the possibility that he believed Jesus was historical with no evidence of that. Thus I don't see your point as strong enough to justify forgoing a discussion of Doherty's arguments about Paul.



NOMAD: Since Earl wants to focus on the letters, but not the narratives, he is simply beling selective in his use of evidence. No sceptic should be willing to let him get away with such tactics, but again, all I can do is point out when and how Earl did this. I cannot make anyone accept the truth of this matter.

EARL: Far from being arbitrary in his selection of evidence Doherty focuses on the earliest, most independent, and thus the most important evidence, Paul's letters.



NOMAD: Poor Doherty. I think it was Harry Truman who talked about heated kitchens and the like. If Doherty thought that this debate was hot, he should try and get in front of a genuinely scholarly audience and see what happens.

Now you know why he prefers to hang out in protected forums.

[SNIP]

EARL: The problem wasn't just your abusive and hostile language. The problem was that this language mostly substituted for detailed arguments on your part.

I'll give the last word in this thread to you.



[This message has been edited by Earl (edited May 25, 2001).]
 
 

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