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Old 06-16-2001, 05:59 PM   #1
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Post Nomad, Bede, Layman et all...

I will try to eliminate my normal flip writing style here and ask a serious question seriously.

Even if somehow it could be conclusively proven that "a" wrote "a" and a fragment for "a" was somehow sourced back to say 34CE rather than 70CE, how does this constitute any proof that the events written by "a" are in fact "gospel" truth (whoops, slipped already), rather than just another fiction?

I could probably, if I tried hard enough locate the original manuscript for "Catch 22". But this is certainly not proof that Yossarion ever existed, or that the events in the book ever took place.

So, does dating manuscripts early actually support the truth of what is written in the Bible? Or does it simply support the date that these books/letters were written?

Norm
 
Old 06-16-2001, 11:56 PM   #2
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I think that even if the "a" piece was dated back to 34c.e., it would still leave to question the merit of the writing. Many people make claims, but there is really no reason to believe any of it without researching it first.
 
Old 06-22-2001, 08:20 AM   #3
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by fromdownunder:

So, does dating manuscripts early actually support the truth of what is written in the Bible? Or does it simply support the date that these books/letters were written?</font>
Hi Norm, and interesting question.

Does an early date for the Gospels prove that they are true? The short answer is no.

What an early date for those Gospels DOES do, is make it a virtual certainty that eyewitnesses to many of the described events were used as sources for the stories. It puts those stories in the same time period as the writings of Paul, meaning that those that wish to argue that Paul's Gospel and that presented in the Canonicals differs would be in an untenable position. In other words, no one would be able to argue that Paul did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus. Finally, the Jesus was a myth theory would be dead, as even Earl Doherty admits. If Luke/Acts is from c. 62AD, then the game is up. In my opinion, all three of these consequences would be very good things, allowing us to get past many of the distracting scholarly speculations about the early Church, and we can then focus on the meaning of the stories found within the Gospels.

Be well,

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited June 22, 2001).]
 
Old 06-22-2001, 11:00 AM   #4
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">What an early date for those Gospels DOES do, is make it a virtual certainty that eyewitnesses to many of the described events were used as sources for the stories.</font>
How does that follow? An early date by itself only makes it possible that the story used eyewitnesses. According to most people, there is a substantive difference between "possible" and "virtually certain".

Now, you might want to say, "the early dating of Mark along with all the other evidence, makes it virtually certain that Mark is a record of eyewitnesses." However, I've never actually seen this other evidence.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">... meaning that those that wish to argue that Paul's Gospel and that presented in the Canonicals differs would be in an untenable position.</font>
Why would it be untenable that they would differ? The evidence of difference seems internal: Paul's letters seem very different than the gospels; the late dating provides only one possible explanation for that difference.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In other words, no one would be able to argue that Paul did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus.</font>
That's simply nonsense. One argues that Paul did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus because he doesn't ever appear to say he does; the existence of a contemporaneous gospel does not by itself show evidence of Paul's beliefs.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Finally, the Jesus was a myth theory would be dead, as even Earl Doherty admits. If Luke/Acts is from c. 62AD, then the game is up. In my opinion, all three of these consequences would be very good things, allowing us to get past many of the distracting scholarly speculations about the early Church, and we can then focus on the meaning of the stories found within the Gospels.</font>
The mythicist argument is only of technical importance to historians. Whether the christian religion was founded on Paul's hallucinations or references some guy who said a few smart things a couple of millennia ago is really of very little importance to the question of whether Yahweh actually exists and whether we should pay priests to tell us how He wants us to live.

[This message has been edited by SingleDad (edited June 22, 2001).]
 
Old 06-22-2001, 12:46 PM   #5
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My apologies. I did not think that anything I said in my last post was all that controversial. SD's post shows me that I should have gone into a bit more detail.

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

Nomad: What an early date for those Gospels DOES do, is make it a virtual certainty that eyewitnesses to many of the described events were used as sources for the stories.

SD: How does that follow? An early date by itself only makes it possible that the story used eyewitnesses. According to most people, there is a substantive difference between "possible" and "virtually certain".</font>
Of course there is a difference, but once a possibility reaches the point of being extremely likely, I classify it as being "virtually certain". After all, if the Gospels were authored while Peter, James, Paul and the rest were still alive, then NOT using witnesses would have been extremely odd (not to mention the reaction it would have brought from these apostles and their followers.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Now, you might want to say, "the early dating of Mark along with all the other evidence, makes it virtually certain that Mark is a record of eyewitnesses." However, I've never actually seen this other evidence.</font>
I am unclear what other evidence you are speaking of here. Do you mean the internal evidence within the documents, the archaeological record, the testimony of the Early Fathers?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: ... meaning that those that wish to argue that Paul's Gospel and that presented in the Canonicals differs would be in an untenable position.

SD: Why would it be untenable that they would differ?</font>
Again, Paul very clearly states that the Gospel that he is preaching is the ONLY acceptable one, and that it is the same as that which is taught by James, John, Peter and the other apostles.

IF the message that they taught was one of a non-physically resurrected Jesus, then having the ONLY written Gospels to emerge from the 1st Century ALL speaking of a physically resurrected Jesus would be incredibly unlikely. I would call it virtually impossible, since such a difference of opinions between what the apostles were teaching and what the evangelists writing the Gospels taught would have produced a far more apparent conflict between the two groups. Considering the author of Luke/Acts is also claiming to be a companion of Paul's, then having him directly contradict the apostle on this central issue, and do so while Paul was alive strikes me as impossible.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The evidence of difference seems internal: Paul's letters seem very different than the gospels; the late dating provides only one possible explanation for that difference.</font>
There have been a number of threads on the reported differences between what Paul and the Gospels taught. Perhaps you would care to choose one of them and tell us how you see them as contradicting one another. One that I might recommend would be Paul and the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus. We had a very in depth discussion of Paul's views on the physicallity of the Resurrection, and the thread is still active. If you have any questions or comments, I would be happy to read them.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: In other words, no one would be able to argue that Paul did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus.

SD: That's simply nonsense. One argues that Paul did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus because he doesn't ever appear to say he does; the existence of a contemporaneous gospel does not by itself show evidence of Paul's beliefs.</font>
Of course Paul is talking about a physically resurrected Jesus. The special readings and interpretations that became something of a scholarly rage is there, but really it doesn't amount to much more then scholarly speculations. Rather than rehash that debate, however, I would recommend you to the earlier thread and invite comments.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: Finally, the Jesus was a myth theory would be dead, as even Earl Doherty admits. If Luke/Acts is from c. 62AD, then the game is up. In my opinion, all three of these consequences would be very good things, allowing us to get past many of the distracting scholarly speculations about the early Church, and we can then focus on the meaning of the stories found within the Gospels.

SD: The mythicist argument is only of technical importance to historians. Whether the christian religion was founded on Paul's hallucinations or references some guy who said a few smart things a couple of millennia ago is really of very little importance to the question of whether Yahweh actually exists and whether we should pay priests to tell us how He wants us to live.</font>
I am unsure what your argument was here SD. My point went directly to the historical questions about the existence of Jesus, and what His teachings mean to us from that historical point of view. The nonsensical idea that Jesus was a pure mythical creation, or that Paul founded Christianity and the like only make discussion of such (for me) interesting questions more difficult. After all, if we cannot even agree on the bare minimum of what we do know about the past, we can hardly talk about what those things mean, can we?

Nomad
 
Old 06-22-2001, 08:13 PM   #6
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I'm not making an argument, Nomad. I'm saying you leap to the most amazing conclusions from the thinnest of evidence. Your response gives me no reason whatsoever to modify my opinion: You're a vastly better apologist than you are an historian or scholar.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">After all, if the Gospels were authored while Peter, James, Paul and the rest were still alive, then NOT using witnesses would have been extremely odd (not to mention the reaction it would have brought from these apostles and their followers.</font>
That's like saying "If Gone With the Wind were authored while Rhett and Scarlett were still alive..."

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I am unclear what other evidence you are speaking of here. Do you mean the internal evidence within the documents, the archaeological record, the testimony of the Early Fathers?</font>
The internal evidence is at best highly controversial, the archaeological evidence completely absent, and you have a completely idiosyncratic definition of "testimony".

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Again, Paul very clearly states that the Gospel that he is preaching is the ONLY acceptable one, and that it is the same as that which is taught by James, John, Peter and the other apostles.</font>
&lt;shrugs&gt; Differences are differences.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">IF the message that they taught was one of a non-physically resurrected Jesus, then having the ONLY written Gospels to emerge from the 1st Century ALL speaking of a physically resurrected Jesus would be incredibly unlikely.</font>
Unlikely only in your own mind. You seem fond of ascribing fact to your personal opinion. You are presuming all of these writings are true and thus all these people must have been working together if they were contemporaries. However, if you don't already believe all the supernatural junk, dating them contemporaneously doesn't really rule out the possibility that it's contemporaneous fiction rather than non-contemporaneous fiction.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The evidence of difference seems internal: Paul's letters seem very different than the gospels.

There have been a number of threads on the reported differences between what Paul and the Gospels taught. Perhaps you would care to choose one of them and tell us how you see them as contradicting one another.</font>
In typical Nomad fashion, you put words in my mouth and then rebut the straw man. You actually confirm my comment and then take me to task for drawing a conclusion I didn't actually draw. You never fail to amuse me!

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Of course Paul is talking about a physically resurrected Jesus.</font>
Of course!? Good grief! It is by no means obvious that Paul is talking about a physical resurrection! It is certainly true that you have come to that conclusion for theological reasons and are retrojecting on the evidence.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The special readings and interpretations that became something of a scholarly rage is there, but really it doesn't amount to much more then scholarly speculations.</font>
By "special readings and interprations" you obviously mean any opinion other than your own.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The nonsensical idea that Jesus was a pure mythical creation...</font>
Again, you seem to mean "nonsensical" to mean differing from your own opinion.

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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">After all, if we cannot even agree on the bare minimum of what we do know about the past, we can hardly talk about what those things mean, can we?</font>
Like I said, technical discussions of ancient history have very little to do with my life, one way or the other. I just get irritated from time to time by your ridiculous mangling of simple evidentiary arguments.

[This message has been edited by SingleDad (edited June 22, 2001).]
 
Old 06-22-2001, 08:55 PM   #7
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SingleDad:

Nomad: After all, if the Gospels were authored while Peter, James, Paul and the rest were still alive, then NOT using witnesses would have been extremely odd (not to mention the reaction it would have brought from these apostles and their followers.

SD: That's like saying "If Gone With the Wind were authored while Rhett and Scarlett were still alive..."</font>
umm... so here you are saying that James, Peter and Paul did not exist, just like Rhett and Scarlett didn't exist? Are you being serious here SD? I am hoping that you just slipped.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: I am unclear what other evidence you are speaking of here. Do you mean the internal evidence within the documents, the archaeological record, the testimony of the Early Fathers?

SD: The internal evidence is at best highly controversial, the archaeological evidence completely absent, and you have a completely idiosyncratic definition of "testimony".</font>
And you can demonstrate that you actually know or have examined any of this evidence how exactly? Don't you see how your conclusions drive your search for "truth"? On the other hand, if you could talk in anything beyond generalities, that would help a lot. So once again I will ask, which evidence are you talking about here? And what do you know about it personally?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: Again, Paul very clearly states that the Gospel that he is preaching is the ONLY acceptable one, and that it is the same as that which is taught by James, John, Peter and the other apostles.

SD: &lt;shrugs&gt; Differences are differences.</font>
LOL! Good answer! On the other hand, you didn't say anything here.

Now, do you know how Paul treated those that disagreed with him or not? If not, just ask. If you do, then what are you talking about here, and why didn't you address the point?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: IF the message that they taught was one of a non-physically resurrected Jesus, then having the ONLY written Gospels to emerge from the 1st Century ALL speaking of a physically resurrected Jesus would be incredibly unlikely.

SD: Unlikely only in your own mind. You seem fond of ascribing fact to your personal opinion. You are presuming all of these writings are true and thus all these people must have been working together if they were contemporaries.</font>
Sigh. SD? What are you talking about? Do you deny that James, Paul and Peter actually existed? If that is the case, then we are probably about done here. If not, then what evidence do you have that they believed differently than did the Gospels? Further, IF the Gospels were written when these men were alive, why would you doubt that these men knew of them, or influenced them?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> However, if you don't already believe all the supernatural junk, dating them contemporaneously doesn't really rule out the possibility that it's contemporaneous fiction rather than non-contemporaneous fiction.</font>
As I told nat on another thread, this is very true. My point, however, is that if they were authored when the apostles were alive, it is very likely that the apostles knew of them.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">SD: The evidence of difference seems internal: Paul's letters seem very different than the gospels.

Nomad: There have been a number of threads on the reported differences between what Paul and the Gospels taught. Perhaps you would care to choose one of them and tell us how you see them as contradicting one another.

SD: In typical Nomad fashion, you put words in my mouth and then rebut the straw man. You actually confirm my comment and then take me to task for drawing a conclusion I didn't actually draw. You never fail to amuse me!</font>
Then correct me please. You said that Paul and the Gospels differ. You have failed to show how they differ. And where I come from, differences are often called contradictions, so how did I construct a strawman?

On the other hand, if you are backing away from your original argument, that is cool.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: Of course Paul is talking about a physically resurrected Jesus.

Of course!? Good grief! It is by no means obvious that Paul is talking about a physical resurrection! It is certainly true that you have come to that conclusion for theological reasons and are retrojecting on the evidence.</font>
Please demonstrate what you know of the evidence and what it says on this subject SD. Right now I do not know if you know anything about this evidence one way or another (outside of the fact that you do not like my interpretation of this evidence).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: The special readings and interpretations that became something of a scholarly rage is there, but really it doesn't amount to much more then scholarly speculations.

SD: By "special readings and interprations" you obviously mean any opinion other than your own.</font>
Actually, no, this is not what I mean. Right now I am still looking for what evidence you have considered in forming your opinions. Thus far you have produced nothing, and I would appreciate it if you could demonstrate that your views are based on more than that.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: The nonsensical idea that Jesus was a pure mythical creation...

SD: Again, you seem to mean "nonsensical" to mean differing from your own opinion.</font>
I'm all ears SD. If you think that you can demonstrate that Jesus was a mythological construct, I would like to see your evidence.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: After all, if we cannot even agree on the bare minimum of what we do know about the past, we can hardly talk about what those things mean, can we?

SD: Like I said, technical discussions of ancient history have very little to do with my life, one way or the other.</font>
Gotcha. Thanks for the discussion. At least you kept it light (as in content free).

Nomad
 
Old 06-22-2001, 09:47 PM   #8
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Gotcha. Thanks for the discussion. At least you kept it light (as in content free).</font>
Well, I wanted you to be able to participate as an equal.
 
Old 06-22-2001, 10:04 PM   #9
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But seriously, Nomad. I really don't know much about ancient history because I'm not deeply interested. However, I do have some interest, and thus I read these threads to learn.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Right now I am still looking for what evidence you have considered in forming your opinions.</font>
This is what you seem unable to understand, despite dozens of disclaimers. I don't have any particular opinions about ancient history. I have no idea if Jesus actually existed or not. All I have is a general skepticism about all claims.

What I find amusing is your attitude that the burden of proof is on anyone who doesn't kiss your ass and automatically agree with everything you say. Contrary to your monumental ego, your opinions are not the default position.

I am not advocating a particular position regarding ancient history. The only time I jump in is when you make blatantly stupid statements like "What an early date for those Gospels DOES do, is make it a virtual certainty that eyewitnesses to many of the described events were used as sources for the stories." This is such a pure non-sequitor that felt compelled to comment. I'm criticizing your methodology, not your conclusions.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: The nonsensical idea that Jesus was a pure mythical creation...

SD: Again, you seem to mean "nonsensical" to mean differing from your own opinion.


I'm all ears SD. If you think that you can demonstrate that Jesus was a mythological construct, I would like to see your evidence.</font>
I'm not making the point that it's true or false (I don't really care), I'm talking about whether or not it's nonsense. IOW, Earl Doherty has irrefutably made the prima facie (look it up) case for the mythicist position. Unless you are coining brand new word meanings (which wouldn't surprise me tremendously) "nonsense" means the prima facie case has not been made (e.g. Jesus was a 7' tall transexual from Zimbawe).

There is a difference between "wrong" and "nonsense". Philogiston or the luminiferous ether are wrong, but they're not nonsense. Concluding that the writing of a work is or is not historical fiction based on the date it was written is, however, nonsense of the most obvious sort.

[This message has been edited by SingleDad (edited June 22, 2001).]
 
Old 06-23-2001, 04:18 PM   #10
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Nomad, thanks for your response. If this appears to be simply a rehash of my first post, feel free to ignore it. I think you and SD have covered the basic elements the point I was trying to establish, and that additional discussion can only take us further away from the basic question I asked.

But as it was my thread, I feel obliged to make further comment.

We know that many fictions have convinced many people of the "truth" of the events described. I guess the LDS would be the most famous example, but there are also the crackpot writings of Von Daniken and the believers of the "Bermuda Triangle", Edgar Case, Madame Blavatski (heaven forbid) and other whackos.

We know that fruitcakes like the Branch Davidians, Jim Jones' followers, the mass death in Africa by burning down a church, the Halle Bopp group and others can gather followings even though their doctrines smack of lunacy.

We know what effect Orson Welles "War of the Worlds' radio broadcast had on many thousands of people. We also know the effect, particularly on the young and ignorant, of the various Nostrodamus TV specials and the "Did Man Land on the Moon?" nonsense.

And we know or have source dates for all of the above documents/shows.

How much easier would it have been 2000 years ago to convince a downtrodden people of events that may not have occured that would promise them happiness in the near future?

And to get only a few major political players of the day on-side would be a major coup which would ensure the spread of whatever belief was desired.

Opponents would either have to shut up or they would become fairly dead.

So early dating, despite the enjoyable debate it generates (and one I admit I am not remotely qualified to participate in) is, as Nomad intimated, only proof that the stories pertaining to Jesus spread far and wide, and quite quickly.

(Edited further to add: WHOOPS, I just re-read this, and it is a misinterpretation of what Nomad said. My apologies to Nomad, but I will leave it here stet, as others may have already read it (or do I flatter myself), so to me it is part of the record)

(And before anyone wades in I also realise that people use the "dating" of the books as arguments that the events simply could not have occured)

But, belief in the truth and accuracy of those events still requires faith. Nothing else, for without this no one would care when the books or letters were first written.

Norm

(edited for spelling)

[This message has been edited by fromdownunder (edited June 23, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by fromdownunder (edited June 24, 2001).]
 
 

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