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Old 01-31-2001, 07:41 PM   #31
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by jess:

You have no clue of the study I am talking about or if/how your 'example' relates to what I was saying. </font>
Umm... Jess? You have not given me a reference to look at. And secondly, since "studies" on crucifixions by definition cannot be done today, we are left with what the ancients told us about the practice and what happened to the victims. If you think that there is good scientific evidence for an individual to survive an actual crucifixion, then show us what it is.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You just contradicted me for the sake of saying 'you're wrong and I'm right--- nanny nanny goo goo!'.

Peace.</font>
Hmm... and don't bother trying to guess my motives. The only "scientific" studies done on actual human beings to see how crucifixion worked was done by Nazi doctors on Jewish prisoners in World War II. Needless to say, their results have not been replicated.

So stop playing the martyr please, and show us the study you are talking about. That would go a long ways towards demonstrating where and how you came by your opinion.

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Old 01-31-2001, 09:09 PM   #32
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EARL: I notice, Nomad, you didn't deal with any of the points I made in my reply. That's unfortunate. I have no intention of playing the game of appealing to a scholar or two. Reputable scholars can be quoted on both sides of the issue. You have not established that Brown's view on the burial story represents that of the overwhelming majority of scholars.



NOMAD: First, if you want to demonstrate that Jesus was NOT buried in a tomb, address the points raised by Raymond Brown please. The historicity is pretty much beyond scholarly debate now, beyond the interesting musings of Crossan and a small but very vocal group.

EARL: Do I read you correctly as saying here that the historicity of the burial story is "pretty much beyond scholarly debate now"? I consider that nonsense. Although I addressed most of your major points and you addressed none of mine, and even though I have no interest in appealing to authorities, I will now go through Brown's quotations as you asked. The following quotation from Brown you offered shows that he blatantly begs the question as to Mark's divine inspiration:

"...I suggested that "a respected council member who was also himself awaiting the kingdom of God" meant that Joseph was a religiously pious Sanhedrist who, despite the condemnation of Jesus by the Sanhedrin, felt an obligation under the Law to bury this crucified criminal before sunset. That Mark created such an identification is most unlikely since it runs counter to his hostile generalizations casting blame on all the members of the Sanhedrin for the injustice of sentencing Jesus to death (Mark 14:55,64; 15:1)...."

What Brown is saying here is simply that Mark's description of Joseph as a council member is most likely because Mark wouldn't have contradicted himself. That's just plain Christian bias. Any inconsistency could be explained away as highly unlikely in a similar way by saying simply that the author wouldn't have been so careless. On the other hand, let's grant that Mark wasn't contradicting himself. Why would Mark say Joseph was a member of the council when he had just stated that the whole council condemned Jesus? Perhaps because Mark never said Joseph was "waiting for the kingdom of God" prior to the council's sentencing of Jesus. This point relates to Brown's strongest argument for the burial's historicity, which is the question as to why Mark would have picked a member of the council as demonstrating righteous behaviour, given the anti-Semitism in Christian circles at Mark's time. Again, I grant that this is the strongest argument for historicity, and indeed it may well be sufficient. By providing so much objective evidence regarding Roman burial procedures and so forth, Brown himself offers so many reasons to doubt the historicity that I have to wonder whether Brown bases the "certain" historicity of the burial story solely on this point.

In any case, the flaw with this argument, in my view and that of the Jesus Seminar, is that this is an example of back-handed apologetics on Mark's part. Mark wanted to make a friend of Jesus' enemies after the damage had been done. This is precisely what Mark does elsewhere at 15:39 where he states that a Roman centurion "who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died…said 'Surely this man was the Son of God!'" Matthew does the same thing in his story of the faithful centurion whose unlikely faith Jesus praises (8:5-13). Another example of this is in the Gospel of Peter where a Roman guard at the tomb is converted outright to Jesus' side. The trick in Joseph's case is whether the meaning of "who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God" implies that Joseph had been waiting so for a long time. Perhaps Mark's point was that Joseph felt guilty after the sentencing, which he did indeed go along with as Mark specified, and subsequently converted to Jesus' side, or began to "wait" for the kingdom and to act in a righteous manner by seeing to Jesus' burial. The Greek for "waiting" is "prosdechomai," which can mean "looking," as in Luke 2:38 and Acts 23:21. In these cases there is no implication that those looking forward to something had to be doing so for a long time.

So perhaps Mark wasn't contradicting himself after all. He was simply engaging in a common form of apologetics in which the apologist turns her enemies into friends to prove the power of her message. Jesus was so obviously innocent and righteous, Mark wanted to say, that even one of the council members who condemned him subsequently converted and finally did the right thing by burying Jesus. Joseph then becomes a tragic figure: he reversed his own grave error (catch the pun?), but alas all too late. Matthew and Luke, however, didn't get Mark's point here, and thought he had indeed simply made an error. Thus they edited Joseph's character to clear up the perceived inconsistency.

These points I just made counter two of Brown's points in favour of the burial's historicity, including what seems the strongest one. Brown says, first, that Mark would not have made Joseph a council member if he was resorting to fiction because he wouldn't have contradicted himself so blatantly in saying that the whole council found Jesus guilty. To this I say Mark wasn't contradicting himself at all, (although he wasn't overly clear about his teaching on this point). Joseph had indeed found Jesus guilty but then repented and did the right thing.

And Brown says, second, that Mark wouldn't have made Joseph a Jew because of the Christian anti-Semitism at Mark's time. To this I say Mark's making Joseph a Jew was indeed a form of anti-Semitism, since according to my hypothesis Mark's goal was a cynical one in which he meant to transform Jesus' enemies, the Jewish authorities which he did indeed demonize by making them guilty of Jesus' death, into potential friends. Not only were the Jewish leaders guilty of condemning Jesus, but one of them even went so far as to ACKNOWLEDGE this guilt and take care of Jesus' body at his own expense. Mark's point, then, would have been that the Jews of his time should do the same.

***

The following quotation from Brown you offered is interesting for a number of reasons.

Brown says: "That Jesus was buried is historically certain. That Jewish sensitivity would have wanted this done before the oncoming Sabbath (which may also have been a feast day) is also certain, and our records give us no reason to think that this sensitivity was not honored…"

But what is hardly certain is whether Pilate would have given a damn about Jewish sensibilities. And Brown himself says that "Decisions in the provinces dealing with non-citizens were most often extra ordinem, so that such a matter as the deposition of crucified bodies would have been left to the local magistrate" (I'll provide the full context of this quotation below). So Jewish legal principles are simply irrelevant in deciding whether Jesus was buried, and they hardly add to any "historical certainty" on the question. In any case, as I pointed out in my last post, Josephus records the Jewish expectation, yes that hanged blasphemers should be buried, but that they should be buried "in an ignominious and obscure manner," in other words in a common grave not a private tomb. So the Jewish expectation runs against not with the gospel accounts.

Brown continues: "That this burial was done by Joseph of Arimathea is very probable, since a Christian fictional creation of a Jewish Sanhedrist who does what is right is almost inexplicable, granted the hostility in early Christian writings toward the Jewish authorities responsible for the death of Jesus."

I've addressed this point in detail above.

Brown continues: "Moreover, the fixed designation of such a character as "From Arimathea," a town very difficult to identify and reminiscent of no scriptural symbolism, makes a thesis of invention even more implausible… While probability is not certitude, there is nothing in the basic preGospel account of Jesus' burial by Joseph that could not plausibly be deemed historical."

The point about the naming of Joseph's home, Arimathea, doesn't prove Joseph was historical, since the naming of a fictional town could just be a literary device aiming at the character's verisimilitude. Perhaps the fact that the town was obscure may indicate that the word "Arimathea" was some sort of in joke. In any case, none of these points of Brown's justify his conclusion regarding the "high probability" or "certainty" of Jesus' burial. Indeed, Brown appears to back down from his declaration. First he says outright: "That Jesus was buried is historically certain." Very, very little is known to be "historically certain" as opposed to probable. Brown then says "while probability is not certitude…" But did he not just use the word "certain"? Which is it, certain or probable? He then introduces a further qualification with the word "plausible." Now he says there is nothing in the account of Joseph's burial that can't "plausibly" as opposed to "certainly" be deemed historical. Something funny is going on here. First of all, where is Joseph mentioned in any "preGospel" account"? In any case, the terms "certainty," "probability," and "plausibility" are not interchangeable, and yet Brown uses all three terms in evaluating the burial story. Brown himself appears uncertain as to which term to stick with.

***

You also quote Brown as saying: "the basic rules for how to treat the crucified was laid out in "The Digest of Justinian" 48:24 in which Ulipian tells us that the bodies of those who suffer capital punishment are not to be denied to their relatives, and this is extended by Julius Paulus to include any who seek them for burial."

Paulus' writings are from the late second century, so what is their relevance to Jesus' crucifixion? As I said, such matters as the handling of a crucified traitor's body would have been left completely in the hands of the local Roman authority, and in this case Pilate's. Brown himself makes exactly this point. Thus Brown should consider Ulipian's principles irrelevant in deciding whether Jesus was likely buried. And as I said, the evidence from Josephus and Philo is that Pilate didn't give a fig for Jewish "sensibilities." He was pragmatic not sensitive, and it would have been pragmatic to continue to make an example of Jesus--since that was precisely the purpose of crucifixion--by denying him burial and denying Jesus' followers the chance to venerate the tomb and thus continue the movement the crucifixion was meant to demolish. As Brown himself grants, "There was in this period an increasing Jewish veneration of the tombs of the martyrs and prophets" ("Death of the Messiah" 1280).

Here is the context of Brown's quotation on Roman burial principles. The following three paragraphs are from Brown's "Death of the Messiah." Note the many reasons Brown gives against the burial's historicity. In fact, after every point Brown makes against the burial's historicity I'll add an exclamation mark in square brackets.

"In investigating Roman customs or laws dealing with the burial of crucified criminals, we find some guidance in DJ 48.24, which gives the clement views of Ulpian and of Julius Paulus from the period CA. AD 200. The bodies of those who suffer capital punishment are not to be refused to their relatives (Ulpian) nor to any who seek them for burial (Paulus). Ulpian traces this attitude back to Augustus in Book 10 of Vita Sua, but he recognizes that the generous granting of bodies may have to be refused if the condemnation has been for treason (maiestas) [!]. The exception was verified a few years before Ulpian in the treatment of the martyrs of Lyons reported in Eusebius (EH 5.1.61-62): The bodies of the crucified Christians were displayed for six days and then burned so that the ashes might be scattered in the Rhone [!]. Christian fellow-disciples complained, "We could not bury the bodies in the earth...neither did money or prayers move them, for in every possible way they kept guard as if the prevention of burial would give them great gain" [!].

"If we move back from the 2d cent., what was the Roman attitude at the time of Jesus towards the bodies of crucified criminals? Despite what Ulpian tells us about Augustus, he was not always so clement [!]. Suetonius (Augustus 13.1-2) reports, with the obvious disapproval of 2d-cent. hindsight, that Augustus refused to allow decent burial for the bodies of those who fought for Brutus: "That matter must be settled with the carrion-birds" [!]. Since Augustus would have looked on Brutus as a traitor, the parallel to the question of what would happen to those convicted of treason (maiestas) is significant [!]. In the reign of terror that followed the fall of Sejanus (AD 31), Tacitus reports the actions of Tiberius: "People sentenced to death forfeited their property and were forbidden burial" (Annals 6.29) [!]. Beyond such imperial vengeance, severity is assumed to be normal by Petronius (Satyricon 111-12), as in Nero's time he writes the story of a soldier at Ephesus who neglected his duty of preventing the bodies of dead criminals from being removed from the cross. While he was absent in the night making love to a widow, the parents came stealthily, took the body down, and buried it, causing the soldier to fear the severest punishment. Evidently it was almost proverbial that those who hung on the cross fed the crows with their bodies (Horace, Epistle 1.16.48) [!].

"Discerning Roman legal practice for a province like Judea is difficult. The law cited above (DJ) was juxta ordinem, i.e., customary law in Rome for dealing with Roman citizens. Decisions in the provinces dealing with non-citizens were most often extra ordinem, so that such a matter as the deposition of crucified bodies would have been left to the local magistrate [!]. Before Jesus' time, in Sicily, much closer to Rome, Cicero (In Verrem 2.5.45; #119) reports that a corrupt governor made parents pay for permission to bury their children. Philo (In Flaccum 10.83-84) tells us that in Egypt, on the eve of a Roman holiday, customarily "people who have been crucified have been taken down and their bodies delivered to their kinfolk, because it was thought well to give them burial and allow them ordinary rites." But the prefect Flaccus (within a decade of Jesus' death) "gave no orders to take down those who had died on the cross," even on the eve of a feast [!]. Indeed, he crucified others, after maltreating them with the lash."

So in these three paragraphs I count 10 distinct points against the burial's historicity. The question remains, then, after all this negative evidence what makes Brown so sure about the burial's historicity? I'm simply baffled how anyone can come to the conclusion from the evidence in Brown's quotations provided by Nomad and myself that the burial is "historically certain," and that there is currently no scholarly debate on the subject. As I said above, Brown may be relying most heavily on his strongest point regarding Christian anti-Semitism. But I've given an alternative account, so as far as I can see my conclusion stands. There is more than enough reason to doubt the historicity of the gospels' burial story.

I'll go through the rest of your comments even though they don't address my last post.



NOMAD: Second, you must already know that the vast majority of crucifixions took place in Palestine either before, or long after Jesus' death. In fact, in Josephus' writings we have no indications of crucifixions taking place in Jerusalem from the period 10AD to 60AD. So don't make the fallacy of wondering why the Romans would not treat a very rare crucifixion like that of Jesus very differently than they would those that took place during the great rebellions of the 1st Century BCE or during the seige and destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.

EARL: First of all the appeal to the lack of any reference in Josephus is simply an argument from silence. According to Joe Zias "during the times of Caligula - AD 37-41 - Jews were tortured and crucified in the amphitheater to entertain the inhabitants of Alexandria" (see his article "Crucifixion in Antiquity" at http://www.uncc.edu/jdtabor/crucifixion.html). And as quoted by Hanson and Oakman, "Philo recounts a story of how the governor Flaccus crucified ethnic Israelites in the theater in Alexandria, Egypt, in the early first century (Ag. Flacc. 82-85 [see http://www.stolaf.edu/people/kchanson/ptjexcerpt2.html ]). Indeed the only crucified skeleton ever found dates to the early first century (see Hanson and Oakman).

What we know for certain is that crucifixion was in general a very common Roman practice throughout the empire. As Zias summarizes, crucifixion "was widespread across the Roman Empire which included Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. It originated several centuries before the Common Era and continued into the fourth century AD when the practice was discontinued by Constantine." So even if there were fewer crucifixions during a certain number of decades around Jesus' time, that hardly means the Romans would have given Jesus special treatment. The fact remains that the Romans executed thousands of people by crucifixion, and their use of this method was well known and widely feared. They would hardly have forgotten how to carry out the practice. Indeed, if we are to believe the gospels' account of the Passover custom of releasing a prisoner, crucifixion would had to have been likely at least once a year during Passover in the time when Jesus lived. Otherwise, what would have been the point of this custom? Mark makes no mention of any special extension of this custom to free someone convicted of a capital crime, as though the custom normally applied only to minor criminals not facing crucifixion. He speaks as though freeing a prisoner facing crucifixion was the normal course of events at Passover.



NOMAD: Third, Brown himself notes that since the man found in the tomb WAS clearly crucified during this time of peace (i.e. circa 10AD) that this goes a very long way to disproving Crossan's theory that Jesus could not possibly have been buried in any more than a common grave.

EARL: Show me where Crossan speaks in such absolute terms ("not possibly") and I'll grant your point. Crossan argues only that burial would have been extremely unlikely, the exception rather than the rule.



NOMAD: Forth, Brown again notes that there was nothing unusually cruel about Pilote as compared to other governors of his time, and if we want to see just how sensative the Romans really were to the sensabilities of the Jews, consider the example of the Roman general who took the astonishing step of personally going to Rome in 41AD to convince the very mad Emperor Caligula not to put his statue inside the Temple in Jerusalem for fear of mass rioting in Palestine (the general was successful, and Caligula relented).

EARL: You're simply ignoring my quotations from Josephus and Philo regarding Pilate's attitude towards Jewish laws, and the fact that Pilate was removed from office for slaughtering Jews. Josephus goes so far as to say that at one point at least Pilate's intention was to "abolish Jewish laws"! The mercy shown by one governor has nothing to do with the character of another governor. You have to deal with the evidence we have on Pilate's concern for Jewish laws, not abstract principles or the behaviour of any other Roman governor.



NOMAD: Fifth, when engaged in historical revisionism, like trying to demonstrate that all four Gospels lied in presenting the empty tomb as fact, the burden of proof falls to the naysayers. In other words, where is their proof beyond mere conjecture?

EARL: Well that's a hoot! Oh Nomad, you gave me quite a laugh there. Trying to correct a potential case of historical revisionism as in the gospels is itself now a case of historical revisionism? Obviously you're begging the question at issue, since if I'm right claiming that Jesus wasn't buried is just setting the record straight and correcting the revisionist history practiced in the gospels. Furthermore--and I recall we've had this discussion before--neither I nor Crossan say the gospel authors "lied" regarding Jesus' burial, since they wouldn't have known for certain that Jesus wasn't buried and were therefore free to expect that God would have seen to the burial of such a righteous person. The naysayer would have the burden of proof only if the historicity of the gospels were assumed from the outset. Since it would be fallacious to assume this in a debate on this very point, I'm afraid I don't have any special burden of proof. On the contrary, given all the evidence against any regular Roman practice of handing over crucified bodies for burial, the burden of proof is on the one who would challenge this evidence in favour of the exceptional account offered in the gospels.



NOMAD: Let me finish up by quoting from yet another highly respected scholar on this subject:

"A straightforward reading of the Gospels' portrait of the burial has been challenged by revisionist scholars, who theorize that Jesus died in a mass crucifixion: the body was thrown into a common, shallow trench, to become carrion for vultures and scavenging dogs. This makes for vivid drama but implausible history. Pilate, after all, had been forced in the face of Jewish opposition to withdraw his military shields from public view in the city when he first acceded to power. What likelihood was there, especially after Sejanus' death, that he would get away with flagrantly exposing the corpse of an executed Jew beyond the interval permitted by the Torah, and encouraging its mutilation by scavengers outside Jerusalem?

EARL: So this is where you got your point about revisionism. The last point here is baffling. Chilton is saying that Pilate wouldn't have risked not giving Jesus a proper burial but would have risked executing Jesus in the worst way imaginable!? As Brown states, the Romans executed Jesus not for blasphemy, but for sedition, or claiming to be the king of the Jews, which wasn't a crime under Jewish law. (Brown: "Jesus was executed by the Romans not for blasphemy but on the charge of being the King of the Jews. Could this have been regarded as a death not in accordance with Jewish law and so not necessarily subjecting the crucified to dishonorable burial?" [1220].) Therefore the Jews would have been at least as outraged at a Roman governor for executing someone who might very well have been the long awaited Messiah and who in any case was convicted of a crime not recognized under Jewish law, as for simply leaving the body to rot. Unless I'm missing something elementary here, Chilton's point is a no-brainer.



NOMAD (quoting Chilton): "Revisionism can be productive. But it can also become more intent on explaining away traditional beliefs than on coming to grips with the evidence at hand, and I think this is a case in point. It is worth explaining why I go along with much of the Gospel's account of Jesus' burial, because doing so will help us grapple with the vexed question of what happened three days after his crucifixion.

"Time and again, the Gospels reveal the tendancy of the first Christians to shift the blame for Jesus' death away from Pilate and onto the Sanhedrin. Yet when it comes to taking on the weighty responsibility of burying Jesus, we find members of that same council taking the lead, while most of Jesus' disciples had beaten a hasty and ignominious retreat.

EARL: I've addressed this point above. Mark may have simply engaged in backhanded apologetics.



NOMAD (quoting Chilton): Joseph's and Nicodemus' public act cost them: they donated mortuary dressing and ointment as well as use of the cave. They also contracted uncleanness for seven days after the burial. On each of those seven days they would have had to explain to curious colleagues where and why they had come into contact with a corpse, a powerful source of impurity.

"Joseph's act went beyond mere display of ordinary decency. He ensured that Jesus was interred in one of the caves he had recently dug for himself and his family. The significance of this gesture is plain: there were those wihtin the council who had not agreed with Caiphas' condemnation of Jesus to Pilate." [Chilton, Bruce. "Rabbi Jesus: The Jewish Life and Teaching that Inspired Christianity", (New York: Doubleday, 2000) p. 270-272.]

EARL: Again, given that Mark was engaging in backhanded apologetics, it makes perfect sense that Mark would have written that Joseph made a lot of trouble for himself by burying Jesus, since this trouble would have proven all the more how guilty Joseph felt for condemning Jesus and how much he now recognized how worthy Jesus was of every bit of assistance he could muster. The lesson for Mark's audience would have been that Jesus' presence was so powerful that even one of the council members that condemned him eventually saw the light to such an extent that he willingly endured all the difficulties spelled out by Chilton. A fine piece of apologetics.



NOMAD: Last point now.

It is always possible to be sceptical about ANY historical event. Such is the nature of history. But excessive scepticism about even the very mundane and perfectly natural events speaks more of hyperscepticism as opposed to true critical thinking.

EARL: This is a personal attack that begs all the questions at issue, such as where the bulk of the evidence lies and how much weight the traditional interpretation should be given.



NOMAD: When it comes to the very basic question (as we find in this thread) "was Jesus buried in a tomb?", the most reasonable answer is yes. Any doubter must be expected to offer hard evidence to demonstrate why this could not have happened, and challenging some of the details of the burial do not do this. Thus far we have not seen anyone do this, and thus the opinion of Crossan remains very distinctly in the minority against Brown, Bultmann, Lane Fox, Grant and many others.

In my view, when a scholar of Brown's stature is prepared to say that the burial of Jesus is "historically certain", I think it is reasonable to demand some hard evidence from the sceptic to prove him wrong.

EARL: Strangely, Brown offers more reasons to doubt the burial's historicity than to accept it. And how do you know I haven't offered good reasons to doubt the burial's historicity, since you didn't scratch the surface of my last post?


[This message has been edited by Earl (edited February 01, 2001).]
 
Old 01-31-2001, 11:17 PM   #33
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Part I

EARL: I notice you didn't deal with any of the points I made in my reply. That's unfortunate. I have no intention of playing the game of appealing to a scholar or two. Reputable scholars can be quoted on both sides of the issue. You have not established that Brown's view on the burial story represents that of the overwhelming majority of scholars.

NOMAD: First, if you want to demonstrate that Jesus was NOT buried in a tomb, address the points raised by Raymond Brown please. The historicity is pretty much beyond scholarly debate now, beyond the interesting musings of Crossan and a small but very vocal group.

EARL: Do I read you correctly as saying here that the historicity of the burial story is "pretty much beyond scholarly debate now"? I consider that nonsense. Although I addressed most of your major points and you addressed none of mine, and even though I have no interest in appealing to authorities, I will now go through Brown's quotations as you asked.


Meta =&gt; Expert testimony is never mere appeal to authority. These are the guys that know. As for shows what the majority of scholars believe, you have the burden of proof. Because for 2000 the only view of it has been that Jesus had a tomb. No one ever argued otherwise before the 20th century, and the evidence that he didn't is far from compelling. In fact I dont' know of anyone who does argue that, although I'm sure there are some. Just to name a few who I know believe he did, both contemporary, and giants of the past: James Barr, Bill Farmer, Luke T. Johnson, Brown, Danker, Koster, Colter, Metzger, Streeter, Knock, Bassler, Westcott, Lightfoot, Hort, Ramsay, Harrison, Bruce, Koster, White, Genza Vermeise (Jewish), Cornfeld (Israeli), and the list could go on.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
The following quotation from Brown you offered shows that he blatantly begs the question as to Mark's divine inspiration:
"...I suggested that "a respected council member who was also himself awaiting the kingdom of God" meant that Joseph was a religiously pious Sanhedrist who, despite the condemnation of Jesus by the Sanhedrin, felt an obligation under the Law to bury this crucified criminal before sunset. That Mark created such an identification is most unlikely since it runs counter to his hostile generalizations casting blame on all the members of the Sanhedrin for the injustice of sentencing Jesus to death (Mark 14:55,64; 15:1)...."


What Brown is saying here is simply that Mark's description of Joseph as a council member is most likely because Mark wouldn't have contradicted himself. That's just plain Christian bias. Any inconsistency could be explained away as highly unlikely in a similar way by saying simply that the author wouldn't have been so careless. On the other hand, let's grant that Mark wasn't contradicting himself. Why would Mark say Joseph was a member of the council when he had just stated that the whole council condemned Jesus? Perhaps because Mark never said Joseph was "waiting for the kingdom of God" prior to the council's sentencing of Jesus. This point relates to Brown's strongest argument for the burial's historicity, which is why Mark would have picked a member of the council as demonstrating righteous behaviour, given the anti-Semitism in Christian circles at Mark's time. Again, I grant that this is the strongest argument for historicity, and indeed it may well be sufficient. By providing so much objective evidence regarding Roman burial procedures and so forth, Brown himself offers so many reasons to doubt the historicity that I have to wonder whether Brown bases the "certain" historicity of the burial story solely on this point.


In any case, the flaw with this argument, in my view and that of the Jesus Seminar, is that this is an example of back-handed apologetics on Mark's part. Mark wanted to make a friend of Jesus' enemies after the damage had been done. This is precisely what Mark does elsewhere at 15:39 where he states that a Roman centurion "who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he diedŠsaid 'Surely this man was the Son of God!'" Matthew does the same thing in his story of the faithful centurion whose unlikely faith Jesus praises (8:5-13). Another example of this is in the Gospel of Peter where a Roman guard at the tomb is converted outright to Jesus' side. The trick in Joseph's case is whether the meaning of "who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God" implies that Joseph had been waiting so for a long time. Perhaps Mark's point was that Joseph felt guilty after the sentencing, which he did indeed go along with as Mark specified, and subsequently converted to Jesus' side, or began to "wait" for the kingdom and to act in a righteous manner by seeing to Jesus' burial. The Greek for "waiting" is "prosdechomai," which can mean "looking," as in Luke 2:38 and Acts 23:21. In these cases there is no implication that those looking forward to something had to be doing so for a long time.


So perhaps Mark wasn't contradicting himself after all. He was simply engaging in a common form of apologetics in which the apologist turns her enemies into friends to prove the power of her message. Jesus was so obviously innocent and righteous, Mark wanted to say, that even one of the council members who condemned him subsequently converted and finally did the right thing by burying Jesus. Joseph then becomes a tragic figure: he reversed his own grave error (catch the pun?), but alas all too late. Matthew and Luke, however, didn't get Mark's point here, and thought he had indeed simply made an error. Thus they edited Joseph's character to clear up the perceived inconsistency.


These points I just made counter two of Brown's points in favour of the burial's historicity, including what seems the strongest one. Brown says, first, that Mark would not have made Joseph a council member if he was resorting to fiction because he wouldn't have contradicted himself so blatantly in saying that the whole council found Jesus guilty. To this I say Mark wasn't contradicting himself at all, (although he wasn't overly clear about his teaching on this point). Joseph had indeed found Jesus guilty but then repented and did the right thing.
And Brown says, second, that Mark wouldn't have made Joseph a Jew because of the Christian anti-Semitism at Mark's time. To this I say, Mark's making Joseph a Jew was indeed a form of covert anti-Semitism, since according to my hypothesis Mark's goal was a cynical one in which he meant to transform Jesus' enemies, the Jewish authorities which he did indeed demonize by making them guilty of Jesus' death, into potential friends. Not only were the Jewish leaders guilty of condemning Jesus, but one of them even went so far as to ACKNOWLEDGE this guilt. Mark's point, then, would have been that the Jews of his time should do the same.
***
The following quotation from Brown you offered is interesting for a number of reasons.
Brown says: "That Jesus was buried is historically certain. That Jewish sensitivity would have wanted this done before the oncoming Sabbath (which may also have been a feast day) is also certain, and our records give us no reason to think that this sensitivity was not honoredŠ"
But what is hardly certain is whether Pilate would have given a damn about Jewish sensibilities. And Brown himself says that "Decisions in the provinces dealing with non-citizens were most often extra ordinem, so that such a matter as the deposition of crucified bodies would have been left to the local magistrate" (I'll provide the full context of this quotation below). So Jewish legal principles are simply irrelevant in deciding whether Jesus was buried, and they hardly add to any "historical certainty" on the question. In any case, as I pointed out in my last post, Josephus records the Jewish expectation, yes that hanged blasphemers should be buried, but that they should be buried "in an ignominious and obscure manner," in other words in a common grave not a private tomb. So the Jewish expectation runs against not with the gospel accounts.
Brown continues: "That this burial was done by Joseph of Arimathea is very probable, since a Christian fictional creation of a Jewish Sanhedrist who does what is right is almost inexplicable, granted the hostility in early Christian writings toward the Jewish authorities responsible for the death of Jesus."
I've addressed this point in detail above.
Brown continues: "Moreover, the fixed designation of such a character as "From Arimathea," a town very difficult to identify and reminiscent of no scriptural symbolism, makes a thesis of invention even more implausibleŠ While probability is not certitude, there is nothing in the basic preGospel account of Jesus' burial by Joseph that could not plausibly be deemed historical."
The point about the naming of Joseph's home, Arimathea, doesn't prove Joseph was historical, since the naming of a fictional town could just be a literary device aiming at the character's verisimilitude.

Meta =&gt; That's the whole point! You only make a fictional town when it serves a purpose. No one would just make up a town for no reason! It serves no purpose, it fits no Biblical or midrashic patter, so why do it?

Perhaps the fact that the town was obscure may indicate that the word "Arimathea" was some sort of in joke.


Meta =&gt; that's just sheer speculation.


In any case, none of these points of Brown's justify his conclusion regarding the "high probability" or "certainty" of Jesus' burial. Indeed, Brown appears to back down from his declaration. First he says outright: "That Jesus was buried is historically certain." Very, very little is known to be "historically certain" as opposed to probable.


Meta =&gt; he says a high probabilty of certinaty, that's just pedantry.


Brown then says "while probability is not certitudeŠ" But did he not just use the word "certain"? Which is it, certain or probable?


Mta =&gt; Knitt picking! You are just twisting his words. Obviously he said a high probability of certainty, which means it is very likely to be true. When he says probability is not certidue he is admitting that it's not certian, becasue he said it's only probable. That is what he said. Maybe you can write him a letter and lecture him on the neuances of the word "certainty." I'm sure he would love to hear from you.


He then introduces a further qualification with the word "plausible." Now he says there is nothing in the account of Joseph's burial that can't "plausibly" as opposed to "certainly" be deemed historical. Something funny is going on here. First of all, where is Joseph mentioned in any "preGospel" account"? In any case, the terms "certainty," "probability," and "plausibility" are not interchangeable, and yet Brown uses all three terms in evaluating the burial story. Brown himself appears uncertain as to which term to stick with.
***</font>
Meta =&gt; who cares? I think we can all see he thinks it was likely.

MEta =&gt; Sorry you miscontrue that entire issue. Brown is not arguing that Mark tried to make Jo look good, or that he thought he was a follower, but quite the oppostie. IN fact he presents a couple of pages aimed at showint why Mark is putting Jo in a bad light. Jo was not a follower of Jesus' but probably voted to condemn him along with the rest. He did not agree to burry him out of guilt, but only to keep from profaning the holy day. He say it as a duty, not out of any sense of loyalty or out of any sense of guilt.


Earl:
You also quote Brown as saying: "the basic rules for how to treat the crucified was laid out in "The Digest of Justinian" 48:24 in which Ulipian tells us that the bodies of those who suffer capital punishment are not to be denied to their relatives, and this is extended by Julius Paulus to include any who seek them for burial."Paulus' writings are from the late second century, so what is their relevance to Jesus' crucifixion? As I said, such matters as the handling of a crucified traitor's body would have been left completely in the hands of the local Roman authority, and in this case Pilate's. Brown himself makes exactly this point. Thus Brown himself should consider Ulipian's principles irrelevant in deciding whether Jesus was likely buried. And as I said, the evidence from Josephus and Philo is that Pilate didn't give a fig for Jewish "sensibilities." He was pragmatic not sensitive, and it would have been pragmatic to continue to make an example of Jesus--since that was precisely the purpose of crucifixion--by denying him burial and denying Jesus' followers the chance to venerate the tomb, thus continuing the movement the crucifixion was meant to demolish. As Brown himself grants, "There was in this period an increasing Jewish veneration of the tombs of the martyrs and prophets" ("Death of the Messiah" 1280).


Meta =&gt; NO Brown's argument is not based upon Paulus. It is based upon a lot of evidence, he quotes many authorities, Rabbis, Joephus and others. The crucifiction of insurrectionists would not have been left in the hands of the Romans entirely, Brown documents very well that this was not done! The Romans had learned by this time to respect the religious customs of the day, and he quotes Josephus who had three freinds taken down and one burried (the other two survived) becasue it was nearing sunset! Vineration of the tombs of martyrs means that they would have wanted to vinerate the tomb of an insurrectionist. But it also has nothing to do with evidence against Jesus having a tomb.

Here is the context of Brown's quotation on Roman burial principles. The following three paragraphs are from Brown's "Death of the Messiah." Note the many reasons Brown gives against the burial's historicity. In fact, after every point Brown makes against the burial's historicity I'll add an asterisk in square brackets.
"In investigating Roman customs or laws dealing with the burial of crucified criminals, we find some guidance in DJ 48.24, which gives the clement views of Ulpian and of Julius Paulus from the period CA. AD 200. The bodies of those who suffer capital punishment are not to be refused to their relatives (Ulpian) nor to any who seek them for burial (Paulus). Ulpian traces this attitude back to Augustus in Book 10 of Vita Sua, but he recognizes that the generous granting of bodies may have to be refused if the condemnation has been for treason (maiestas) * . The exception was verified a few years before Ulpian in the treatment of the martyrs of Lyons reported in Eusebius (EH 5.1.61-62): The bodies of the crucified Christians were displayed for six days and then burned so that the ashes might be scattered in the Rhone

Meta =&gt; But that was a different time and different place. Christians at that time were not considered on the same level as the Jews. IT wasnt' their homeland, they weren't condiered an honorable religion but a strange cult that the Romans were not willing to grant the same privilages as the Jews.


* . Christian fellow-disciples complained, "We could not bury the bodies in the earth...neither did money or prayers move them, for in every possible way they kept guard as if the prevention of burial would give them great gain"
* .
"If we move back from the 2d cent., what was the Roman attitude at the time of Jesus towards the bodies of crucified criminals? Despite what Ulpian tells us about Augustus, he was not always so clement

* . Suetonius (Augustus 13.1-2) reports, with the obvious disapproval of 2d-cent. hindsight, that Augustus refused to allow decent burial for the bodies of those who fought for Brutus: "That matter must be settled with the carrion-birds"
* . Since Augustus would have looked on Brutus as a traitor, the parallel to the question of what would happen to those convicted of treason (maiestas) is significant
* . In the reign of terror that followed the fall of Sejanus (AD 31), Tacitus reports the actions of Tiberius: "People sentenced to death forfeited their property and were forbidden burial" (Annals 6.29)
* . Beyond such imperial vengeance, severity is assumed to be normal by Petronius (Satyricon 111-12), as in Nero's time he writes the story of a soldier at Ephesus who neglected his duty of preventing the bodies of dead criminals from being removed from the cross. While he was absent in the night making love to a widow, the parents came stealthily, took the body down, and buried it, causing the soldier to fear the severest punishment. Evidently it was almost proverbial that those who hung on the cross fed the crows with their bodies (Horace, Epistle 1.16.48)


Meta =&gt; AGain that does not apply to the way they terated the Jews. IT does not apply to Palestine. the Romans did leave the bodies of theirown insurrectionists or trators up on the cross to rot, that in no way means they did this with the Jews. And the evidence overwhealmingly shows that they did not!
* .
"Discerning Roman legal practice for a province like Judea is difficult. The law cited above (DJ) was juxta ordinem, i.e., customary law in Rome for dealing with Roman citizens. Decisions in the provinces dealing with non-citizens were most often extra ordinem, so that such a matter as the deposition of crucified bodies would have been left to the local magistrate

Meta =&gt; Ignoring the Bown quote which shows that they did respect the customs of local conquered people's and besides that the Nazerath law also shows this.


* . Before Jesus' time, in Sicily, much closer to Rome, Cicero (In Verrem 2.5.45; #119) reports that a corrupt governor made parents pay for permission to bury their children. Philo (In Flaccum 10.83-84) tells us that in Egypt, on the eve of a Roman holiday, customarily "people who have been crucified have been taken down and their bodies delivered to their kinfolk, because it was thought well to give them burial and allow them ordinary rites." But the prefect Flaccus (within a decade of Jesus' death) "gave no orders to take down those who had died on the cross," even on the eve of a feast

Meta =&gt; That's just a descretionary action. So Pilate had discretion, he could well have done so. This is no evidence that he did not. AGain, you have the burden of proof.


* . Indeed, he crucified others, after maltreating them with the lash."

Meta =&gt; So what? That doesn't say anything about not burring them.


So in these three paragraphs I count 10 distinct points against the burial's historicity.


Meta =&gt; What are you talking about man??? Most of those examples dont' apply to Jews. IN fact only one of them did,and that was discretionary, and moreover, it is clealry implied that it was an exception rather than the rule. And you ignore the evidence in Josephus.


The question remains, then, after all this negative evidence what makes Brown so sure about the burial's historicity? I'm simply baffled how anyone can come to the conclusion from the evidence in Brown's quotations provided by Nomad and myself that the burial is "historically certain," and that there is currently no scholarly debate on the subject. As I said above, Brown may be relying most heavily on his strongest point regarding Christian anti-Semitism. But I've given an alternative account, so as far as I can see my conclusion stands. There is more than enough reason to doubt the historicity of the gospels' burial story.
I'll go through the rest of your comments even though they don't address my specific points.


Meta =&gt; First of all, you are ignoring Brown's strongest evidence and most of his points. You dont' say anything about the fact that the jews were allowed their own burrial customs, ignore the evidence in Josephus, don't come to terms with the fact that to the Jews an insurrectionist against Rome was a Hero rather than a law breaker, quote exceptions as though they are the rule, and ignore Brown's main overall point, which is that the Jews had a motive to burry him (to prevent profaning the day) and were mainly allowed their own customs. And most of the evidence you give is from other times and other places. You hardly have 10 points, I don't think you have one strong point. And Moreover, what you do have is the burden of proof. So just offering speculation and calling it an "alternative" hardly constitutes any sort of proof of your position. It could possibly be that they would have not burried him, but there is essentially not reason to believe that they did not.

NOMAD: Second, you must already know that the vast majority of crucifixions took place in Palestine either before, or long after Jesus' death. In fact, in Josephus' writings we have no indications of crucifixions taking place in Jerusalem from the period 10AD to 60AD. So don't make the fallacy of wondering why the Romans would not treat a very rare crucifixion like that of Jesus very differently than they would those that took place during the great rebellions of the 1st Century BCE or during the seige and destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.


EARL: First of all the appeal to the lack of any reference in Josephus is simply an argument from silence. According to Joe Zias "during the times of Caligula - AD 37-41 - Jews were tortured and crucified in the amphitheater to entertain the inhabitants of Alexandria" (see his article "Crucifixion in Antiquity" at http://www.uncc.edu/jdtabor/crucifixion.html). And as quoted by Hanson and Oakman, "Philo recounts a story of how the governor Flaccus crucified ethnic Israelites in the theater in Alexandria, Egypt, in the early first century (Ag. Flacc. 82-85 [see http://www.stolaf.edu/people/kchanson/ptjexcerpt2.html ]). Indeed the only crucified skeleton ever found dates to the early first century (see Hanson and Oakman).


Meta =&gt; Ok now show some evidence that they didn't allow them to be burried.

What we know for certain is that crucifixion was in general a very common Roman practice throughout the empire. As Zias summarizes, crucifixion "was widespread across the Roman Empire which included Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. It originated several centuries before the Common Era and continued into the fourth century AD when the practice was discontinued by Constantine." So even if there were fewer crucifixions during a certain number of decades around Jesus' time, that hardly means the Romans would have given Jesus special treatment.


Meta =&gt; certainly it does. That evidence is very clear and is provided by Brown and Harrison (as part of what you are ignoring) that they did allow the local customs to previal in matters of religion, and buriel was included. And for this I point again to the Josephus evidence, he did get three friends taken down before sun set and one of them burried. The Roman nature of it and the widespread nature of it is irrelivant, that has nothing to do with the way they dealt with it in Palestine.

The fact remains that the Romans executed thousands of people by crucifixion, and their use of this method was well known and widely feared. They would hardly have forgotten how to carry out the practice. Indeed, if we are to believe the gospels' account of the Passover custom of releasing a prisoner, crucifixion would had to have been likely at least once a year during Passover in the time when Jesus lived. Otherwise, what would have been the point of this custom?

Meta =&gt; You got that backwards. IT was the custom to grant the boon on the holy day, not to grant it every time or to withold punishments until the holyday!


Mark makes no mention of any special extension of this custom to free someone convicted of a capital crime, as though the custom normally applied only to minor criminals not facing crucifixion. He speaks as though freeing a prisoner facing crucifixion was the normal course of events at Passover.

Meta =&gt; So what? You are making a big mistake to treat Mark as though being wirtten first means that he has to have the most historical account and if his account is not historical than none of the others can measure up. Both of those points are fallacious. Luke is more historical than Mark, and probably in a sense John is also. But all four of them stemm from an ealier account that goes back to AD 50. Both Koester and Crossan demonstrate this. IT was a written source of the Passian narrative that comes form AD 50, just 18 years after the original event. The redaction process of each of the Gospels causes differing bits of info to be lost or re-distributed,but what all four agree upon is the crucifiction. IN fact all Gospels agree to this, every single one. There were no alternatives. And they all agree to the tomb as well. This I think is pretty much certain proof that there was a tomb. For if the whole community did not know this as actual fact than there probably would have been alternative accounts over time.

NOMAD: Third, Brown himself notes that since the man found in the tomb WAS clearly crucified during this time of peace (i.e. circa 10AD) that this goes a very long way to disproving Crossan's theory that Jesus could not possibly have been buried in any more than a common grave.
EARL: Show me where Crossan speaks in such absolute terms ("not possibly") and I'll grant your point. Crossan argues only burial would have been extremely unlikely, the exception rather than the rule.


Meta =&gt; But he also agrees with this ealry source for the passion narrative, and Koester says that source ends including the empty tomb! so just 18 years latter, the life time of many many eye witnesses, the empty tomb is a solid centerpeice of the story. And it is never contradicted, that can only mean a basis in historicity.

NOMAD: Forth, Brown again notes that there was nothing unusually cruel about Pilote as compared to other governors of his time, and if we want to see just how sensative the Romans really were to the sensabilities of the Jews, consider the example of the Roman general who took the astonishing step of personally going to Rome in 41AD to convince the very mad Emperor Caligula not to put his statue inside the Temple in Jerusalem for fear of mass rioting in Palestine (the general was successful, and Caligula relented).


EARL: You're simply ignoring my quotations from Josephus and Philo regarding Pilate's attitude towards Jewish laws, and the fact that Pilate was removed from office for slaughtering Jews. Josephus goes so far as to say that at one point at least Pilate's intention was to "abolish Jewish laws"! The mercy shown by one governor has nothing to do with the character of another governor. You have to deal with the evidence we have on Pilate's concern for Jewish laws, not abstract principles or the behaviour of any other Roman governor.

Meta =&gt; No, you have the burden of proof. You must show that Pilate did withold the granting of local customs, that he didn't allow burriel of crucifiction victims and so on.

NOMAD: Fifth, when engaged in historical revisionism, like trying to demonstrate that all four Gospels lied in presenting the empty tomb as fact, the burden of proof falls to the naysayers. In other words, where is their proof beyond mere conjecture?


EARL: Well that's a hoot! Oh Nomad, you gave me quite a laugh there. Trying to correct a potential case of historical revisionism as in the gospels is itself now a case of historical revisionism? Obviously you're begging the question at issue, since if I'm right claiming that Jesus wasn't buried is just setting the record straight and correcting the revisionist history practiced in the gospels.

Meta =&gt; NO you are trying to avoid your rightful burden of proof. WE don't have to prove that Jesus was burried in a tomb. Everyone knows that. There are no contradictions. NO one ancient author ever says the contrary, all Gospels, including apocryphal ones agreed to it, no one ever speaks agaisnt it, and there is no real evidence to the contrary. All there is is a fact about the Romans that doens't apply to their dealings with the Jews, and that is all you have. For 2000 years scholars have understood and assumed the tomb, and now just because the JS can speculate about it (and that's all they have) it suddenly becomes so doubtful? Hardly, prove it!


Furthermore--and I recall we've had this discussion before--neither I nor Crossan say the gospel authors "lied" regarding Jesus' burial, since they wouldn't have known for certain that Jesus wasn't buried and were therefore free to expect that God would have seen to the burial of such a righteous person. The naysayer would have the burden of proof only if the historicity of the gospels were assumed from the outset.

Meta =&gt; It is! I just got through asking more profs, secualr, non -Christian, many of them athesits. all professional historians. To a man they all said the Gospels have the historical presumption, and there is no real reason to doubt then in the general terms of what they record, only in the superantural claims. So why doubt them? Why should they not have historical presumption? We don't normally go to an histoircal text saying "how is this wrong, what is he mistaken about, I doubt that this text contains any real history." So why do it with these? It's prestented as a fact, secular and church historians of the day agree with it, all the other accunts agree with it, why doubt it on oridinary points like the major points of the story?

Since it would be fallacious to assume this in a debate on this very point, I'm afraid I don't have any special burden of proof. On the contrary, given all the evidence against any regular Roman practice of handing over crucified bodies for burial, the burden of proof is on the one who would challenge this evidence in favour of the exceptional account offered in the gospels.


Meta =&gt; Sorry, you don't understand the rules of debate. The one who seeks to change the status quo always has the burden of proof, look in any standard highschool debate handbook, cult the National Forensic league, ask a debate coach, a logic book or anything about rhetoric and argumentation. That is just standard procedure. The established view always has presumption until overturned. That's the problem I find with all the secptics on the net, they all have it backwards. they all think that skepticism has presumption and that the believer has to prove belief. NO, that's false. The established view has presumption, the one seeking to change the established view has the burden of proof.

NOMAD: Let me finish up by quoting from yet another highly respected scholar on this subject:
"A straightforward reading of the Gospels' portrait of the burial has been challenged by revisionist scholars, who theorize that Jesus died in a mass crucifixion: the body was thrown into a common, shallow trench, to become carrion for vultures and scavenging dogs. This makes for vivid drama but implausible history. Pilate, after all, had been forced in the face of Jewish opposition to withdraw his military shields from public view in the city when he first acceded to power. What likelihood was there, especially after Sejanus' death, that he would get away with flagrantly exposing the corpse of an executed Jew beyond the interval permitted by the Torah, and encouraging its mutilation by scavengers outside Jerusalem?


 
Old 01-31-2001, 11:17 PM   #34
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Well, here we go again, War and Peace II

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Earl:

...You have not established that Brown's view on the burial story represents that of the overwhelming majority of scholars.</font>
Appeals to authority are rarely valid argumentation, and therefore should not be used. However, when an argument is presented, and then the counter argument, it is possible to assess which is the better. Brown does this better than almost any other scholar of any type I have read on any subject. More on this later in the thread.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD: First, if you want to demonstrate that Jesus was NOT buried in a tomb, address the points raised by Raymond Brown please. The historicity is pretty much beyond scholarly debate now, beyond the interesting musings of Crossan and a small but very vocal group.

EARL: Do I read you correctly as saying here that the historicity of the burial story is "pretty much beyond scholarly debate now"? I consider that nonsense.</font>
I am not certain if you keep up with debates on subjects like this or not, but I assure you, in spite of his vocal and well publicized efforts, J.D. Crossan remains in a very small minority of scholars regarding the question of the historicity of the empty tomb. His argumentation is fatally flawed, and one of the greatest reasons for this is Crossan's common tactic of refusing to address the counter arguments offered by his opponents. (More on this as well later in the post).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> ...The following quotation from Brown you offered shows that he blatantly begs the question as to Mark's divine inspiration:</font>
We are not arguing inspiration here Earl. We are arguing about a simple naturalistic question:

Was Jesus buried in a tomb or not?

That's it. According to Brown and many others, myself included, the answer is an unqualified yes.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">What Brown is saying here is simply that Mark's description of Joseph as a council member is most likely because Mark wouldn't have contradicted himself. That's just plain Christian bias.</font>
I am going to ask you a very simple question Earl, and it will help me a great deal in this discussion. I hope you will tell me:

Do you actually own, or have you actually read R.E. Brown's "The Death of the Messiah"?

My suspition is that you have only read selected quotes from a web site that supports your currently held view, and again, I will get into this later in the post. If I am mistaken, however, I apologize.

Just so that you know, the reason that I am asking this question is largely due to your puzzlement as to how Brown can offer so many arguments against the burial tradition of Jesus, and still conclude that the burial tradition is "historically certain". My question also arises from you writing off Brown's explanation as being nothing more than "plain Christian bias". What I can assure you is that when Brown encounters a contradiction, he does not hide it, nor does he white wash it in any fashion. He calls a spade a spade, and this is why he remains one of the most respected NT scholars on all sides of the theological debate (except amongst fundamentalists for obvious reasons).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> ...This point relates to Brown's strongest argument for the burial's historicity, which is why Mark would have picked a member of the council as demonstrating righteous behaviour, given the anti-Semitism in Christian circles at Mark's time. Again, I grant that this is the strongest argument for historicity, and indeed it may well be sufficient.</font>
Actually, Brown does not, in my opinion, base the historicity of the burial in a tomb primarily on the historicity of Joseph of Arimathea, nor his supposed motives. I am curious how you reached this conclusion yourself, since Brown concedes that while the burial itself is historically certain, the existence of Joseph of Arimathea is no more than historically probable.

Brown's strongest argument for the historicity of the burial in a tomb (as opposed to having Jesus left in a shallow grave or on the cross), is that this would have lead to rioting in Jerusalem.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> By providing so much objective evidence regarding Roman burial procedures and so forth, Brown himself offers so many reasons to doubt the historicity that I have to wonder whether Brown bases the "certain" historicity of the burial story solely on this point.</font>
If you have not read the full treatment Brown gives these arguments (and not just the reasons to doubt the burial tradition), then I can understand your bewilderment. Basically, Brown believed in presenting all evidence both for and against an argument, then presented his reasons for his conclusions (if he makes any). Since you have only offered one side of the argument here, then perhaps you have not had a chance to see the problems that he has with each of the arguments you quote in your post.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In any case, the flaw with this argument, in my view and that of the Jesus Seminar, is that this is an example of back-handed apologetics on Mark's part.</font>
Hmm... thought you weren't gonna appeal to authority Earl?

On the other hand, since you do not actually quote their arguments, nor the arguments against their views, I guess this is simple name dropping instead.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">{Snip speculations on Mark's possible motives}</font>
While interesting, speculation is hardly going to get us to the truth here is it Earl?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">These points I just made counter two of Brown's points in favour of the burial's historicity, including what seems the strongest one. Brown says, first, that Mark would not have made Joseph a council member if he was resorting to fiction because he wouldn't have contradicted himself so blatantly in saying that the whole council found Jesus guilty.</font>
Actually, this is not Brown's argument. Brown finds Joseph of Arimathea unlikely to be an invention of a Christian apologetist like Mark or the other Gospel authors because of the anti-Semitism common to the communities for which these men wrote. By the time the Gospels were written, in Brown's view and my own, there is no way that a Christian community would have accepted a member of the Jewish high council as helping Jesus when His own disciples had all abandoned Him.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">To this I say Mark wasn't contradicting himself at all, (although he wasn't overly clear about his teaching on this point). Joseph had indeed found Jesus guilty but then repented and did the right thing.</font>
This explanation, while possible, flies in the face of the known hostility that existed between the Jews and Christians of the late first Century. Don't forget that one of the biggest arguments of the sceptics against the Gospels is their obvious anti-Semitism. You really can't have it both ways Earl.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">And Brown says, second, that Mark wouldn't have made Joseph a Jew because of the Christian anti-Semitism at Mark's time. To this I say, Mark's making Joseph a Jew was indeed a form of covert anti-Semitism, since according to my hypothesis Mark's goal was a cynical one in which he meant to transform Jesus' enemies, the Jewish authorities which he did indeed demonize by making them guilty of Jesus' death, into potential friends.</font>
Is your hypothesis built on anything more than pure conjecture Earl? You have already accused Mark of inventing (lying) Joseph of Arimathea (a lie that is accepted by Matthew and Luke, and propogated independantly by John in his gospel as well). Now you accuse him of cynicism.

I ask you Earl, how did you get to know these men so well that you could read their motives 1900 years after they had died?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The following quotation from Brown you offered is interesting for a number of reasons.

Brown says: "That Jesus was buried is historically certain. That Jewish sensitivity would have wanted this done before the oncoming Sabbath (which may also have been a feast day) is also certain, and our records give us no reason to think that this sensitivity was not honored…"

But what is hardly certain is whether Pilate would have given a damn about Jewish sensibilities.</font>
Again, Brown and others deal with this exact question in depth. Did you not know this because you have not read it on the web sites you visit, or because you did not wish to consider his arguments?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> And Brown himself says that "Decisions in the provinces dealing with non-citizens were most often extra ordinem, so that such a matter as the deposition of crucified bodies would have been left to the local magistrate" (I'll provide the full context of this quotation below). So Jewish legal principles are simply irrelevant in deciding whether Jesus was buried, and they hardly add to any "historical certainty" on the question.</font>
Once again you have failed to address Brown's supporting arguments for his conclusions. Why is that? Do you know what they are?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> In any case, as I pointed out in my last post, Josephus records the Jewish expectation, yes that hanged blasphemers should be buried, but that they should be buried "in an ignominious and obscure manner," in other words in a common grave not a private tomb. So the Jewish expectation runs against not with the gospel accounts.</font>
I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but do you understand why Josephus cannot be used to show that Jesus was not buried at all? Or that the criminal cannot be buried in a common grave unless he is convicted of blasphemy? (a charge for which Jesus was never convicted).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Brown continues: "That this burial was done by Joseph of Arimathea is very probable, since a Christian fictional creation of a Jewish Sanhedrist who does what is right is almost inexplicable, granted the hostility in early Christian writings toward the Jewish authorities responsible for the death of Jesus."

I've addressed this point in detail above.</font>
Yes you have, but sadly you have missed the details in why Brown drew this conclusion. I admit that I have not typed them all out for you yet, but before I do that (after I get home of course), I would like to know if you have even considered them first.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Brown continues: "Moreover, the fixed designation of such a character as "From Arimathea," a town very difficult to identify and reminiscent of no scriptural symbolism, makes a thesis of invention even more implausible… While probability is not certitude, there is nothing in the basic preGospel account of Jesus' burial by Joseph that could not plausibly be deemed historical."

The point about the naming of Joseph's home, Arimathea, doesn't prove Joseph was historical, since the naming of a fictional town could just be a literary device aiming at the character's verisimilitude. Perhaps the fact that the town was obscure may indicate that the word "Arimathea" was some sort of in joke.</font>
It is when you offer flippant comments like this that I wonder if you are serious about the subject under discussion Earl. Personally, I would like to spend less time on idle speculation (that can never be proven one way or another) than I would on looking at the text as it reads.

Assume that Mark is serious in his identification of Joseph and the town of Arimathea. The invention of such a place is extremely improbable because it contains no apologetic value at all. Since it cannot be viewed as a construct (based on OT prophesy for example), then it is very likely to be a simple statement of fact by Mark and the other Gospel authors.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> In any case, none of these points of Brown's justify his conclusion regarding the "high probability" or "certainty" of Jesus' burial.</font>
I hope by now that you realize that Brown's conclusions are based on his reasons for rejecting the objections. Since you have not presented those reasons, I am not sure if you know what they are. Do you?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Indeed, Brown appears to back down from his declaration. First he says outright: "That Jesus was buried is historically certain." Very, very little is known to be "historically certain" as opposed to probable.</font>
I found his statement of "historically certain" to be remarkable for this exact reason. Brown almost never uses it in his books. As a result, when he IS this conclusive, one can be assured that he believes it very strongly, and is confident in his position.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Brown then says "while probability is not certitude…" But did he not just use the word "certain"? Which is it, certain or probable?</font>
For anyone that deals with a topic like history, as opposed to mathematics, using the word "certain" as opposed to "probable" is basically telling the reader that the evidence is effectively irrefutably in favour of one position over another. To be honest, it is, my concern remains whether or not you know why Brown was so forceful in his conclusion on this question.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> He then introduces a further qualification with the word "plausible." Now he says there is nothing in the account of Joseph's burial that can't "plausibly" as opposed to "certainly" be deemed historical.</font>
And here Brown reverts to type for him. While being "certain" that Jesus was buried in a tomb, Brown is merely confident that Joseph of Arimathea had a role in it. Thus the qualifier that it is "probable". For me, this is scholarly prudence at work, as opposed to going for the easy and cheap declaration you so commonly see from less circumspect scholars.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Something funny is going on here. First of all, where is Joseph mentioned in any "preGospel" account"? In any case, the terms "certainty," "probability," and "plausibility" are not interchangeable, and yet Brown uses all three terms in evaluating the burial story.</font>
The burial is "certain".
Joseph of Arimathea is "probable".
The burial account given in the Gospels is "plausible".

I understand the modern proclivity for easy answers and pat answers, but sadly history rarely works in such a manner. Brown earned the respect of his collegues because he never resorts to such simplistic and propagandistic tactics, even though it probably would have helped him to sell more books if he had.

The argument is a long and involved one Earl, and definitely worth pursuing. Especially if one is interested in discovering the truth.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> You also quote Brown as saying: "the basic rules for how to treat the crucified was laid out in "The Digest of Justinian" 48:24 in which Ulipian tells us that the bodies of those who suffer capital punishment are not to be denied to their relatives, and this is extended by Julius Paulus to include any who seek them for burial."

Paulus' writings are from the late second century, so what is their relevance to Jesus' crucifixion?</font>
Paulus' writings are believed to be the codification of the traditions passed down to him from the first Century. Brown explains this in his book.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> As I said, such matters as the handling of a crucified traitor's body would have been left completely in the hands of the local Roman authority, and in this case Pilate's.</font>
Brown is not convinced that Jesus was convicted as a traitor. This is also in the book.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Brown himself makes exactly this point. Thus Brown himself should consider Ulipian's principles irrelevant in deciding whether Jesus was likely buried.</font>
Please do not over simplify Brown's position. He was not stupid enough to think that Ulipian's principles did not apply to Jesus, and at the same time base the majority of his argument on the fact that the Romans would have certainly respected Jewish sensabilities in the early part of the First Century AD.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> And as I said, the evidence from Josephus and Philo is that Pilate didn't give a fig for Jewish "sensibilities."</font>
Hmmm... why is Philo reliable when even you admit his biases regarding Pilote, but the four Gospel accounts are not reliable on this question? Is it because his biases correspond to your own?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> He was pragmatic not sensitive, and it would have been pragmatic to continue to make an example of Jesus--since that was precisely the purpose of crucifixion--by denying him burial and denying Jesus' followers the chance to venerate the tomb, thus continuing the movement the crucifixion was meant to demolish.</font>
Where is your evidence that Pilote thought Jesus was even the head of a movement at all? This is quite a leap.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> As Brown himself grants, "There was in this period an increasing Jewish veneration of the tombs of the martyrs and prophets" ("Death of the Messiah" 1280).</font>
Yes there was, but in Brown's view this was not a major issue for Pilote regarding Jesus' possible burial. Do you know why?

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Here is the context of Brown's quotation on Roman burial principles. The following three paragraphs are from Brown's "Death of the Messiah." Note the many reasons Brown gives against the burial's historicity. In fact, after every point Brown makes against the burial's historicity I'll add an asterisk in square brackets.

{Snip reasons. Anyone that wishes to read them can do so in Earl's post}

So in these three paragraphs I count 10 distinct points against the burial's historicity. The question remains, then, after all this negative evidence what makes Brown so sure about the burial's historicity?</font>
I am going to offer a theory as to why you are baffled as to how Brown could decided that the burial was historically certain in spite of these "10 arguments":

I do not think you know why he presented each of these arguments, since Brown did this as a device to show the argument against burial, then he deals with each in turn to show why they do not apply in Jesus' case.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but I have seen the web site where these exact quotes are offered, and you have not shown that you know any more than what you have copied and pasted from that site.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> I'm simply baffled how anyone can come to the conclusion from the evidence in Brown's quotations provided by Nomad and myself that the burial is "historically certain,"</font>
Yes I know. Perhaps I am mistaken in my theory about your bafflement, but I do not think so.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> and that there is currently no scholarly debate on the subject.</font>
Please do not misrepresent my statement. There will always be a debate, especially as long as J.D. Crossan is alive. But Crossan has failed to convince the great majority of his collegues.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> As I said above, Brown may be relying most heavily on his strongest point regarding Christian anti-Semitism.</font>
His supports run much deeper than this, I will have to wait until I return home to start typing them out however.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> NOMAD: Second, you must already know that the vast majority of crucifixions took place in Palestine either before, or long after Jesus' death. In fact, in Josephus' writings we have no indications of crucifixions taking place in Jerusalem from the period 10AD to 60AD. So don't make the fallacy of wondering why the Romans would not treat a very rare crucifixion like that of Jesus very differently than they would those that took place during the great rebellions of the 1st Century BCE or during the seige and destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.

EARL: First of all the appeal to the lack of any reference in Josephus is simply an argument from silence. According to Joe Zias "during the times of Caligula - AD 37-41 - Jews were tortured and crucified in the amphitheater to entertain the inhabitants of Alexandria" (see his article "Crucifixion in Antiquity" at http://www.uncc.edu/jdtabor/crucifixion.html).</font>
Please re-read my quotation (especially what is in bold). Alexandria is not in Palestine. And it is well known that the Romans treated Jews very differently from other minorities in their empire, especially regarding their religions and customs (up until 66AD when Jerusalem rebelled of course)

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> And as quoted by Hanson and Oakman, "Philo recounts a story of how the governor Flaccus crucified ethnic Israelites in the theater in Alexandria, Egypt, in the early first century (Ag. Flacc. 82-85 [see http://www.stolaf.edu/people/kchanson/ptjexcerpt2.html ]).</font>
Same point. There was a vast difference between Alexandria and Jerusalem in the ways that Rome treated these two cities.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Indeed the only crucified skeleton ever found dates to the early first century (see Hanson and Oakman).</font>
Yes, and it was found outside of Jerusalem.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> ...So even if there were fewer crucifixions during a certain number of decades around Jesus' time, that hardly means the Romans would have given Jesus special treatment. The fact remains that the Romans executed thousands of people by crucifixion, and their use of this method was well known and widely feared.</font>
Yes it was, and the fact was that in a great many cases, the Romans allowed relatives and friends to bury the crucified.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">EARL: Show me where Crossan speaks in such absolute terms ("not possibly") and I'll grant your point. Crossan argues only burial would have been extremely unlikely, the exception rather than the rule.</font>
Crossan presents his argument as conclusive, and disregards contradictory evidence and theories. The reader is left with the impression that Crossan's conclusion is therefore the only reasonable one.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD: Forth, Brown again notes that there was nothing unusually cruel about Pilote as compared to other governors of his time, and if we want to see just how sensative the Romans really were to the sensabilities of the Jews, consider the example of the Roman general who took the astonishing step of personally going to Rome in 41AD to convince the very mad Emperor Caligula not to put his statue inside the Temple in Jerusalem for fear of mass rioting in Palestine (the general was successful, and Caligula relented).

EARL: You're simply ignoring my quotations from Josephus and Philo regarding Pilate's attitude towards Jewish laws, and the fact that Pilate was removed from office for slaughtering Jews.</font>
Actually, do you know the story behind that slaughter and how it came about? (It bears directly on my point, so I would like to know if you know it).

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Josephus goes so far as to say that at one point at least Pilate's intention was to "abolish Jewish laws"! The mercy shown by one governor has nothing to do with the character of another governor. You have to deal with the evidence we have on Pilate's concern for Jewish laws, not abstract principles or the behaviour of any other Roman governor.</font>
The overall attitude of the Empire towards the unique status of Jews bears directly on this question. I have not brought up the incidents in Alexandria for this exact reason, they have no real bearing on the situation in Jerusalem in this time frame.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD: Fifth, when engaged in historical revisionism, like trying to demonstrate that all four Gospels lied in presenting the empty tomb as fact, the burden of proof falls to the naysayers. In other words, where is their proof beyond mere conjecture?

EARL: Well that's a hoot! Oh Nomad, you gave me quite a laugh there. Trying to correct a potential case of historical revisionism as in the gospels is itself now a case of historical revisionism? Obviously you're begging the question at issue, since if I'm right claiming that Jesus wasn't buried is just setting the record straight and correcting the revisionist history practiced in the gospels.</font>
In order to "correct" a history, one must have some proofs to support one's position. Testimony, or hard evidence must be offered in place of speculations. That is what you have offered to us, together with only one side of Brown's argument (while ignoring why he rejects these arguments). I am asking you to do better than this Earl. That has been the point of this discussion.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> ...The naysayer would have the burden of proof only if the historicity of the gospels were assumed from the outset.</font>
The Gospel accounts are in full agreement on the central questions of the burial tradition. Further, we know that this burial tradition predates the Gospels, and comes from as early as 3-5 years after Jesus' execution. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that the naturalistic elements, like a tomb for example, are true. Without contrary evidence all we have is speculations offered by the vivid imagination.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> NOMAD: Let me finish up by quoting from yet another highly respected scholar on this subject:

"A straightforward reading of the Gospels' portrait of the burial has been challenged by revisionist scholars, who theorize that Jesus died in a mass crucifixion: the body was thrown into a common, shallow trench, to become carrion for vultures and scavenging dogs. This makes for vivid drama but implausible history. Pilate, after all, had been forced in the face of Jewish opposition to withdraw his military shields from public view in the city when he first acceded to power. What likelihood was there, especially after Sejanus' death, that he would get away with flagrantly exposing the corpse of an executed Jew beyond the interval permitted by the Torah, and encouraging its mutilation by scavengers outside Jerusalem?

EARL: So this is where you got your point about revisionism. The last point here is baffling. Chilton is saying that Pilate wouldn't have risked not giving Jesus a proper burial but would have risked executing Jesus in the worst way imaginable!?</font>
Did you actually misunderstand Chilton this badly? The means of execution, crucifixion, was pretty standard. The fact that Pilote could have granted the request to bury Jesus after such an execution is not at all unreasonable. The revisionism you see from Crossan is simply reaching to prove a previously held belief, and ignoring a good chunk of evidence in the process. Sadly, you have done much the same thing in your very long post. I am hoping we can correct that in the course of this thread.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> ...Therefore the Jews would have been at least as outraged at a Roman governor for executing someone who might very well have been the long awaited Messiah and who, in any case, had been executed for a crime not recognized under Jewish law, as for simply not allowing the crucified body's proper burial.</font>
I hope that you are not arguing that you believe the majority of Jews actually thought Jesus might be the Messiah here.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Unless I'm missing something elementary here, Chilton's point is a no-brainer. </font>
Unfortunately, you missed it Earl.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD (quoting Chilton): "Revisionism can be productive. But it can also become more intent on explaining away traditional beliefs than on coming to grips with the evidence at hand, and I think this is a case in point. It is worth explaining why I go along with much of the Gospel's account of Jesus' burial, because doing so will help us grapple with the vexed question of what happened three days after his crucifixion.

"Time and again, the Gospels reveal the tendancy of the first Christians to shift the blame for Jesus' death away from Pilate and onto the Sanhedrin. Yet when it comes to taking on the weighty responsibility of burying Jesus, we find members of that same council taking the lead, while most of Jesus' disciples had beaten a hasty and ignominious retreat.

EARL: I've addressed this point above. Mark may have simply engaged in backhanded apologetics.</font>
The problem is that you can offer no evidence to support your theory. This is called speculation, and is something you would never permit to an apologist.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> NOMAD (quoting Chilton): Joseph's and Nicodemus' public act cost them: they donated mortuary dressing and ointment as well as use of the cave. They also contracted uncleanness for seven days after the burial. On each of those seven days they would have had to explain to curious colleagues where and why they had come into contact with a corpse, a powerful source of impurity.

"Joseph's act went beyond mere display of ordinary decency. He ensured that Jesus was interred in one of the caves he had recently dug for himself and his family. The significance of this gesture is plain: there were those wihtin the council who had not agreed with Caiphas' condemnation of Jesus to Pilate." [Chilton, Bruce. "Rabbi Jesus: The Jewish Life and Teaching that Inspired Christianity", (New York: Doubleday, 2000) p. 270-272.]

EARL: Again, given that Mark was engaging in backhanded apologetics, ...</font>
Seeing as you are so casual about dismissing Mark as engaging in apoletics (and doing so without supporting your conclusion with anything beyond your own speculation), this is extremely weak argumentation.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD: Last point now.

It is always possible to be sceptical about ANY historical event. Such is the nature of history. But excessive scepticism about even the very mundane and perfectly natural events speaks more of hyperscepticism as opposed to true critical thinking.

EARL: This is a personal attack that begs all the questions at issue, such as where the bulk of the evidence lies and how much weight the traditional interpretation should be given.</font>
Since you have failed to offer any evidence to support your speculations regarding Mark's motivations, for example, nor have you addressed Brown's counter arguments to the very quotations that you have posted, I am left to wonder if you actually know the other side of the argument at this point.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">NOMAD: When it comes to the very basic question (as we find in this thread) "was Jesus buried in a tomb?", the most reasonable answer is yes. Any doubter must be expected to offer hard evidence to demonstrate why this could not have happened, and challenging some of the details of the burial do not do this. Thus far we have not seen anyone do this, and thus the opinion of Crossan remains very distinctly in the minority against Brown, Bultmann, Lane Fox, Grant and many others.

In my view, when a scholar of Brown's stature is prepared to say that the burial of Jesus is "historically certain", I think it is reasonable to demand some hard evidence from the sceptic to prove him wrong.

EARL: Strangely, Brown offers more reasons to doubt the burial's historicity than to accept it.</font>
Are you serious? Now I very seriously do wonder if you have read his book.

I will dig up the relevant quotations, and post them. Unfortunately that will have to wait until I get home and have time. That should be this weekend.

Nomad
 
Old 01-31-2001, 11:39 PM   #35
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Earl and Nomad, part II


EARL: So this is where you got your point about revisionism. The last point here is baffling. Chilton is saying that Pilate wouldn't have risked not giving Jesus a proper burial but would have risked executing Jesus in the worst way imaginable!?


Meta =&gt; The latter was not a risk, it was SOP, but the former was a risk becasue it went agaisnt policy.


As Brown states, the Romans executed Jesus not for blasphemy, but for sedition, or claiming to be the king of the Jews, which wasn't a crime under Jewish law. (Brown: "Jesus was executed by the Romans not for blasphemy but on the charge of being the King of the Jews. Could this have been regarded as a death not in accordance with Jewish law and so not necessarily subjecting the crucified to dishonorable burial?" [1220].) Therefore the Jews would have been at least as outraged at a Roman governor for executing someone who might very well have been the long awaited Messiah and who, in any case, had been executed for a crime not recognized under Jewish law, as for simply not allowing the crucified body's proper burial. Unless I'm missing something elementary here, Chilton's point is a no-brainer.


Meta =&gt; That's aburd. they knew to expect crucifiction for insurrection! They also expected to have the body for burrieal...the reisk would have been denying that request.

NOMAD (quoting Chilton): "Revisionism can be productive. But it can also become more intent on explaining away traditional beliefs than on coming to grips with the evidence at hand, and I think this is a case in point. It is worth explaining why I go along with much of the Gospel's account of Jesus' burial, because doing so will help us grapple with the vexed question of what happened three days after his crucifixion.


"Time and again, the Gospels reveal the tendancy of the first Christians to shift the blame for Jesus' death away from Pilate and onto the Sanhedrin. Yet when it comes to taking on the weighty responsibility of burying Jesus, we find members of that same council taking the lead, while most of Jesus' disciples had beaten a hasty and ignominious retreat.
EARL: I've addressed this point above. Mark may have simply engaged in backhanded apologetics.

NOMAD (quoting Chilton): Joseph's and Nicodemus' public act cost them: they donated mortuary dressing and ointment as well as use of the cave. They also contracted uncleanness for seven days after the burial. On each of those seven days they would have had to explain to curious colleagues where and why they had come into contact with a corpse, a powerful source of impurity.
"Joseph's act went beyond mere display of ordinary decency. He ensured that Jesus was interred in one of the caves he had recently dug for himself and his family. The significance of this gesture is plain: there were those wihtin the council who had not agreed with Caiphas' condemnation of Jesus to Pilate." [Chilton, Bruce. "Rabbi Jesus: The Jewish Life and Teaching that Inspired Christianity", (New York: Doubleday, 2000) p. 270-272.]


EARL: Again, given that Mark was engaging in backhanded apologetics, it makes perfect sense that Joseph would have made a lot of trouble for himself by burying Jesus, since this trouble would have proven all the more how guilty Joseph would have felt for condemning Jesus and how much he now recognized how worthy Jesus was of every bit of assistance he could muster. The lesson for Mark's audience would have been that Jesus' presence was so powerful that even one of the council members that condemned him eventually saw the light to such an extent that he willingly endured all the difficulties spelled out by Chilton. A fine piece of apologetics.

[b][Meta =&gt;/b] That is a total misconstruel of Borwn's evidence and is based upon getting what he said wrong. there is no way that Jospeh would have gotten in any trouble by burrying Jesus, they all would have been up the creek had he not burried him. Not only from his followers and the majority of the people, but also from the standpoint of having prfained a holy day. He was obligated to burry him.

NOMAD: Last point now.
It is always possible to be sceptical about ANY historical event. Such is the nature of history. But excessive scepticism about even the very mundane and perfectly natural events speaks more of hyperscepticism as opposed to true critical thinking.
EARL: This is a personal attack that begs all the questions at issue, such as where the bulk of the evidence lies and how much weight the traditional interpretation should be given.

NOMAD: When it comes to the very basic question (as we find in this thread) "was Jesus buried in a tomb?", the most reasonable answer is yes. Any doubter must be expected to offer hard evidence to demonstrate why this could not have happened, and challenging some of the details of the burial do not do this. Thus far we have not seen anyone do this, and thus the opinion of Crossan remains very distinctly in the minority against Brown, Bultmann, Lane Fox, Grant and many others.
In my view, when a scholar of Brown's stature is prepared to say that the burial of Jesus is "historically certain", I think it is reasonable to demand some hard evidence from the sceptic to prove him wrong.


EARL: Strangely, Brown offers more reasons to doubt the burial's historicity than to accept it. And how do you know I haven't offered good reasons to doubt the burial's historicity, since you didn't scratch the surface of my last post? &gt;&gt;


Meta =&gt; NO he dosen't! Numerical reasons are unimportant. What matters is the stength of the evidence. You have none. All you have is speculation. Brown has clear and irrefutable evidence for assuming the possibility of Jesus being burried. Not only emprically form Jopehus, but the motive, means and opprotunity in the law and Roman custom. NOne of your examlpes deal with the Roman's and how they burried curcified Jews in the time of christ in Palestine. For that you go all over the mediteranian and everywhere but Palestine, and the one time you deal with crucifiying Jews (in Egypt) you never present any evidence that they weren't burried (and that was more than 30 years before Christ as well). The whole case agaisnt the tomb is based entirely on circumstantial evidence, misconstrual of how the Romans dealt the Jews, informal fallacies like the black is white slide (the Chrsitans were like the Jews so the way they dealt with Chrsitans applies to the way they dealt with Jews) but mainly just good old speculation. this is not proof. You have no proof for your postion and in fact you deny the logical burden of proof that you rightfully should bear. You have the argument that you advance, Jesus had no tomb, so it is up to you to prove it. And you have not.

&gt;&gt;

 
Old 01-31-2001, 11:52 PM   #36
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by jess:
ok, I should not be doing this, I should be going to bed---

Jewish Law required that the sun not go down on the crucified victim--- Roman law required that the victim hang until dead (3 days, a brutal nasty aweful three days)

So the Romans compromised--- they would break the legs of the Jewish convicts to hasten their death to the one day.

Then the bodies were dumped in a pit, to be eaten by dogs.</font>


Meta =&gt; No! NOt necessarily. That's what the sec web articles say, it's not what the evidence says. Brown presents it at length. Jewish law requried that the bodies be burried with their ancesstors. They had to have burriel, and since Jesus was not convicted as a breaker of the Moseic law, he would have been given hornable burriel.


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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Apparently, J of A made arrangements to have the body sealed in his tomb. He was a powerful man, and was granted Jesus' body...

However, Jesus 'died' before his legs were broken--- thus they weren't broken--- Jesus died after just a few hours of what normally took days, and wasn't made sure to be dead by breaking his legs, just by running the spear in his side. This supposedly fufills propecy, but the Jews question where the Christians got that idea...</font>
MEta =&gt; Ps 22


Meta =&gt;
Anyway, I put died in quotes up there becuase using modern science, some doctors have analysed the crucifiction tale and fave found it to be highly accurate--- as a crucifiction which sent the victim into a crucifiction coma. This would be fatal, had the body stayed up for the three days or if the legs had been broken. Otherwise, the victim had a 25% chance of dying if left untreated.

MEta =&gt; with a gaping sper wound in his side? Show me that data please? Where is it published? Who did it? And moreover, who moved the stone for him? He couldn't move it himself bound in grave clothes and bleeding form the side. Roman spears weren't tooth picks you know.

 
Old 02-01-2001, 12:02 AM   #37
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Ish:
Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see anyone reference the Jewish Mishnah as a source to explain why Jesus body would have been taken off the cross before sundown. I may be mistaken, I'll have to look again, but I think there's something in there. The Mishnah was put to paper around 200 A.D. in Sepphoris, but I believe most scholars think it accurately reflects the "supplemental oral traditions" that were in practice during the 1st century.

The Romans would more than likely have not attempted to leave the bodies on the crosses at least during the Jewish Sabbath for fear of revolt. If you are going to invade someone's land, you had better be willing to put up with some things they are willing to die for or you will be driven out or forced into killing all your new tax-paying subjects...

P.S. - As already mentioned by others, the tomb was provided by Joseph of Arimathea (as stated in the Bible) so the body could be quickly buried before sundown.

Ish
</font>

4) Roman Respect for Jewish Customs
 
"During the Roman period decrees were promulgated which prohibited the removal of the stone coverings of tombs and the mutilation of their contents." [R.K. Harrison Archaeology of The New Testament, New York: Association Press 1964, p. 31]

There is an inscription of such a law, called "The Nazareth law" found on the stone covering the entrance to a tomb, which dates to Claudias' time (about AD 41). This may have been in response to the claims of Jesus' resurrection. Brown does not regard that as a serious argument, however, although it does show that the Roman's were willing to respect the Religious practices of the Jews. We do know this from other instances in fact, that exceptions were made to honor the specific religious requirements of the Jews whenever possible. Thus there would probably have been no insistence that Roman custom be followed with regard to the bodies on crosses. IN fact Browns gives an example of three friends of Josephaus' who were crucified and Josephus was able to have them taken down on the insistence that leaving them up violated their religious customs.
 
 
While it is true that in some cases the Romans did leave the bodies of crucified victims on crosses for extended periods of time (typically to horrify rebellious locals), the basic rules for how to treat the crucified was laid out in "The Digest of Justinian" 48:24 in which Ulipian tells us that the bodies of those who suffer capital punishment are not to be denied to their relatives, and this is extended by Julius Paulus to include any who seek them for burial (see R.E. Brown, "Death of the Messiah, Vol. 2, pg. 1207).

Note: this is not when the laws were enacted, it's one source that reprots on them.


Basically, the Romans successfully held their empire together in no small part by remaining sensative to local sensibilities, especially in times of general peace and tranquility as we find in Palestine in the first half of the First Century. Adding credence to the historicity of the burial tradition offered in the Gospels is the nature of Jewish Law on the matter, the probable historicity of Joseph of Arimathea himself, and the general lack of legendary development in the account by the Gospel authors themselves.

Quoting from "The Death of the Messiah, Vol. 2" (Doubleday, 1994):
...I suggested that "a respected council member who was also himself awaiting the kingdom of God" meant that Joseph was a religiously pious Sanhedrist who, despite the condemnation of Jesus by the Sanhedrin, felt an obligation under the Law to bury this crucified criminal before sunset. That Mark created such an identification is most unlikely since it runs counter to his hostile generalizations casting blame on all the members of the Sanhedrin for the injustice of sentencing Jesus to death (Mark 14:55,64; 15:1)....
Raymond Brown, DMV2, pg. 1239
The "laws" that Brown refers to include (Joshua 8:29, 10:27, II Samuel 2:12-14; Tobit 1:17-19; 2:3-7; 12:12-13; Sirach 7:33; 38:16) as mentioned by Josephus in Jewish War 4.5.2; #317 "The Jews were so careful about funeral rites that even those who are crucified because they were found guilty are taken down and buried before sunset." These practices arise especially Mosaic Law (as was mentioned by Metacrock).
Deuteronomy 21:22-23 "If there shalle be against someone a crime judged worthy of death, and he be put to death and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree; but you shall bury him the same day, for cursed of God is the one hanged."
Further, we have from Josephus again mentioning of the command to bury on the same day one who has been hung on a tree after being stoned to death, in a first-century context Antiquities 4. 202 and Jewish War 4. 317.
In his concluding remarks on the burial of Jesus, Raymond Brown had this to say:
"That Jesus was buried is historically certain. That Jewish sensitivity would have wanted this done before the oncoming Sabbath (which may also have been a feast day) is also certain, and our records give us no reason to think that this sensitivity was not honored. That this burial was done by Joseph of Arimathea is very probable, since a Christian fictional creation of a Jewish Sanhedrist who does what is right is almost inexplicable, granted the hostility in early Christian writings toward the Jewish authorities responsible for the death of Jesus. Moreover, the fixed designation of such a character as "From Arimathea," a town very difficult to identify and reminiscent of no scriptural symbolism, makes a thesis of invention even more implausibleŠ While probability is not certitude, there is nothing in the basic preGospel account of Jesus' burial by Joseph that could not plausibly be deemed historical."
(R.E. Brown, DMV2, pg. 1240-41)
One of history's most liberal theologians concurs. Commenting specifically on Mark 15:42-47:
"This is an historical account which creates no impression of being a legend apart from the women who appear again as witnesses in v. 47, and vs. 44-45 which Matthew and Luke in all probability did not have in their Mark."
R. Bultmann, "History of the Synoptic Tradition", (New York: Harper & Row, 1963), pg. 274.


 
Old 02-01-2001, 12:34 AM   #38
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EARL: Unfortunately my window of time available to carry on this debate is gone, so I'll have to give Metacrock and Nomad the last word. I will, though, quickly clarify some basic points and offer some brief replies on points that stick most in my craw, as it were.

I used to have copies of Brown's two volumes and I have read some of them. To clarify, though, I never said that Brown offers in those two books more reasons against historicity than for it. That would indeed have been stupid of me. What I said is that of those arguments you, Nomad, quoted from Brown in this thread there's little to back up his claim as to the "historical certainty" of Jesus' burial. I'm aware the 2 volumes are gigantic and that Brown goes into great detail and is a very well respected and relatively objective scholar. Notice that I didn't say all of Brown's arguments are from "Christian bias." Only that one comment of his struck me as involving a presupposition about the unlikelihood of error in the NT in general.

Regarding the name "Arimathea," this name adds verisimilitude precisely because it has no obvious apologetic value. It's also an obscure name so the question as to whether a particular person named Joseph originated from there could not have been easily falsified. So I don't think the choice of this name counts so heavily in favour of the burial's historicity.

Regarding Mark's backhanded apologetics, I certainly did offer more than speculation. I looked at the Greek word for "waiting" and gave parallel cases, such as Mark 15:39, Matt.8:5-13 and the Gospel of Peter. Nothing has been said against my interpretation, and I think it makes some tidy sense of several problems, such as Mark's apparent inconsistency on Joseph.

Regarding Chilton, Nomad you didn't show that I misunderstood him. Saying that the means of crucifixion was "standard" does nothing to refute my point that if Pilate was so worried about offending Jews by not burying a crucified body, he wouldn't have crucified the person in the first place, especially if the crime wasn't recognized by the Jews, such as sedition against Rome. What an absurd scenario Chilton seems to picture: some Jews would have complained that Jesus wasn't buried, but they wouldn't have complained about Jesus being crucified in the first place? Anyone not worried about the former, such as Pilate, would not have been worried about the latter.

Also, Nomad, I would have wished that you actually addressed the points from my first post. For example, where does Philo talk about the Passover custom? And what about Josephus' qualification that crucified victims should be buried in an "ignominious and obscure manner"? And what about Josephus' stories about Pilate's disrespect of Jewish law? What about the legendary developments in the burial story I pointed out, such as those regarding Joseph?

For Metacrock: you say I ignored Josephus. What about Josephus' statements that Pilate in particular acted so as to "abolish Jewish law," took money from the Temple funds to build an aqueduct, and was removed from his position for slaughtering Jews? And what about Josephus' statement that those hanged for blasphemy should be buried but in an "ignominious and obscure manner"? This points to a common grave not a private tomb. What about Philo's characterization of Pilate?

If the Romans favoured the Jews in general they certainly did not favour anyone convicted of sedition, which is why they crucified them. So I don't see why the Romans' general attitude towards the Jews would have automatically applied to the case of a Jew convicted of sedition. But perhaps I should take another look at Brown's 2 volumes.

Regarding the burden of proof issue, one piece of hard evidence that has been overlooked is that there was no veneration of any tomb until the fourth century when Constantine wanted to know where Jesus was buried. That's highly unusual if Jesus was miraculously resurrected from a private tomb in a garden known to Jesus' followers. Also, why didn't Paul appeal to the empty tomb argument in favour of Jesus' resurrection? Nomad said the "burial tradition" goes back to Paul, but at most the single word "burial" goes back to Paul, and this term is susceptible to a figurative rather than a literal interpretation given 1 Cor.15:3-4, that Paul received his information on the gospel from the scriptures, and Gal.1:11-12, that Paul received the gospel by a private vision rather than a public tradition. In any case, none of the details from the gospel accounts are found in Paul.

Anyway, thanks for the debate guys.



[This message has been edited by Earl (edited February 01, 2001).]
 
Old 02-01-2001, 04:11 AM   #39
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Earl,

I too enjoyed reading the debate.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Regarding the burden of proof issue, one piece of hard evidence that has been overlooked is that there was no veneration of any tomb until the fourth century when Constantine wanted to know where Jesus was buried.</font>
This simple and if you don't know the answer it betrays a lack of all round knowledge on the subject. Titus demolished Jerusalem in 70AD and would have built over the site of the tomb. We have no idea about what and where Christians venerated prior to 70AD and we are told they fled Jerusalem prior to the Roman sacking. So, the lack of a venerated tomb is not surprising because it was under a few feet of concrete and a Temple of Saturn. There is NO WAY AT ALL they could have venerated it.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">That's highly unusual if Jesus was miraculously resurrected from a private tomb in a garden known to Jesus' followers. Also, why didn't Paul appeal to the empty tomb argument in favour of Jesus' resurrection?</font>
And you should know the answer to this too. Paul was not engaged in evidential apologetics in any of his extant letters. Therefore he did not give this evidence (or anything else like this). You are arguing from a silence that isn't remotely surprising.

Yours

Bede
 
Old 02-01-2001, 04:29 AM   #40
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Ah, EARL (aka Peter Kirby) defending his new argument against the empty tomb ;-)

E: Regarding the burden of proof issue, one piece of hard evidence that has been overlooked is that there was no veneration of any tomb until the fourth century when Constantine wanted to know where Jesus was buried. That's highly unusual if Jesus was miraculously resurrected from a private tomb in a garden known to Jesus' followers.

SecWebLurker: Hmmm...doesn't seem to be highly unusual. There's nothing in there. Nothing at all. A trip to the empty tomb for Christians is just a short stop on the tour of the places Jesus visited in His miraculous stay on earth. I wouldn't expect special attention payed to it by early Christians on a much larger scale than any site where an important event or miracle of Jesus took place-the incarnation (certainly a major event, God becoming man in a manger and all), the crucifixion (climax in all of the Gospels, defeat of Satan), etc. Oh wait, but there's the tradition of tomb veneration in Israel. Right, but we don't have any tradition of empty-tomb veneration. The significance of venerating the tomb was probably associated w/the fact that a part of the actual person that was to be resurrected lay therein. It's quite a clever argument from silence, and I commend you for the way you advance it. I just don't personally see it as having that much force, nor do I see Craig's exploitation of the lack of veneration as arguing persuasively in favor of his case either. We really don't know who did or didn't venerate what. The tomb was possibly soon occupied by another. Joseph probably would not have left it empty perpetually, considering that it costed a pretty penny. Maybe Joseph, being a "secret disciple...because of the Jews", still wanting to lay low, instructed others to stay away from his tomb at all costs. The situation may have been such that Christians were simply scared to visit it after Jesus' death . Even if the empty tomb is a late fabrication, why is there still no attempted veneration in the first century, on the part of believers, after the myth spread? They didn't know where it was? Nobody asked around? They just accepted that the location had been lost forever? Seems very unlikely to me. More likely IMO, no one was really interested in it.

E: Also, why didn't Paul appeal to the empty tomb argument in favour of Jesus' resurrection?

SecWebLurker: Who says he didn't? Jeff Lowder? He might have done so on several occasions. All we have in 1 Cor. 15 is a tiny snippet where he breezes through the burial, death, and appearances. Its not meant to be exhaustive. Paul's talking to people who are already Christians. He assumed they knew the story and the purpose of 1 Cor. 15 is to assert his apostolic authority. This isn't the first time they are hearing about the resurrection. He's not arguing FOR the resurrection. We can't assume there were Internet Infidels amongst the Corinthians. We also can't assume that Paul is Bill Craig. Paul probably wouldn't have seen the empty tomb as an argument for anything. He didn't have his copy of ETDAV on him, or centuries of refutation of "the disciples stole the body" argument in back of him - which, if he were using it in an argument, he'd have the most trouble with, as some other early Christians obviously were already facing this accusation. He couldn't appeal to himself as a witness of the empty tomb like he could for the appearances. And he probably couldn't make convincing arguments as to the character of the apostles, extreme risk they would be taking in still preaching the res. though they had stolen his body, the obvious lack of motive for doing such a thing, the way in which it cut across their worldview, etc. as those of us centuries removed with our historical method can attempt. The proof, rather, is in the appearances. Paul possibly didn't even WANT to emphasize the physicality of the resurrection by mentioning the empty tomb to those having trouble with it, but rather, preferred to remain ambiguous on the issue of the 'resurrection body', as many have suggested, so as to secure his converts.

E: Nomad said the "burial tradition" goes back to Paul, but at most the single word "burial" goes back to Paul, and this term is susceptible to a figurative rather than a literal interpretation given 1 Cor.15:3-4, that Paul received his information on the gospel from the scriptures,

SecWebLurker: Eh, doesn't say that...It says that those events occured according to the scrips., as in fulfillment of prophecy.

E: and Gal.1:11-12, that Paul received the gospel by a private vision rather than a public tradition.

SecWebLurker: I don't think Paul's referring to burial of Jesus when he speaks of "the gospel" here. I think he's talking about the resurrection of Jesus. This line I suppose could be used to argue that all Paul's info. is from a "private vision", but certainly no scholar would argue anything of the sort. A majority of the JS says the formula in 1 Cor. 15 is a creed Paul probably recieved in Jerusalem within a decade of the crucifixion.

E: In any case, none of the details from the gospel accounts are found in Paul.

SecWebLurker: Exactly. And the broad outline matches up perfectly w/Mark and w/the preaching of Peter recorded in Acts.

E: Anyway, thanks for the debate guys.

SecWebLurker: Take care Pete ;-)

 
 

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