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Old 11-02-2001, 02:15 PM   #11
Toto
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tercel:
<STRONG>
No. Remember, he's looking at it from a legal point of view. It is quite regular for even eye witness accounts to differ quite significantly and contradict in the details yet still have overall uniformity. . . .

Toto, this guy is one of the most famous lawyers of all time: If HE can't assess correctly the required level of discrepancies vs uniformity then no one can - especially not you.

</STRONG>
I think you're making this up as you go along. Eyewitness testimony is admissible in court, although we know scientifically that eyewitnesses are often unreliable. But the legal system is stuck with eyewitness testimony unless there is better evidence, like DNA. A certain lack of uniformity is tolerated, given that eyewitnesses are so unreliable.

But you cannot elevate that to some kind of legal standard that has not changed in the 150 years since Greenleaf was the last word on evidence. We know a lot more these days about how human perception works.

In fact, the way the legal system handles discrepancies in witness testimony is to turn the whole mess over to a jury and cover its eyes. Jurors get to use their own common sense (which is pretty uncommon) to decide which witness testimony is true. The result is what we have now - verdicts that get overturned years later because the unreliable eyewitness is later contradicted by scientific DNA evidence.

Quote:
<STRONG>
The point is that you are trying to take something out of a book which the author hasn't put in it. He's a lawyer, not a scholar. If you want a scholarly work analysing the evidence for accurate transmition of texts then you go to a scholar. Expecting a lawyer to provide you with that is silly to say the least. Surprisingly enough, since he's a lawyer, he's written a book about law, and where scholarly results are required he's taken those as assumptions.

Tercel</STRONG>
Remind me not to go to you for legal advice. Not only would it be 150 years out of date, you don't seem to even know what the question is.

It's the assumptions that cause the problems. Lawyers can't assume anything - they have to have admissible evidence. I don't think any part of Biblical scholarship would make it into court as a science, if you had to prove the truth of the events of the Bible. It would all be dismissed as junk science or speculation, multiple hearsay piled on hearsay.
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Old 11-02-2001, 05:49 PM   #12
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Toto,

The most fascinating thing about this thread is to see you so critical of a book you have never read. In fact, your entire opinion seems to be based soley on a review by some poster on Amazon.com.

When one of your ideas or books are under attack--say claiming that the Gospel of Mark is based on Homer or that Acts was written in the "late" second century--your defense always collapses into, "You should read the book if you want to criticize it."

Anyway. I just thought that was very funny.

Ha ha.

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Old 11-02-2001, 06:25 PM   #13
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Layman - I guess you don't have any substantive criticisms of my analysis, and it looks like even you can't rescue Tercel from the pickle he's got himself into.

In the case of McDonald's work on Mark, or Doherty's work on the Jesus Puzzle, the only two cases where I've said you had to read the book to criticize it, I tried to give enough of a plot summary to counter your misimpressions of what the book said. Is the summary of Greenleaf's thesis incorrect? Or have you read the book?
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Old 11-03-2001, 07:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Layman:
<STRONG>Toto,

The most fascinating thing about this thread is to see you so critical of a book you have never read. In fact, your entire opinion seems to be based soley on a review by some poster on Amazon.com.

When one of your ideas or books are under attack--say claiming that the Gospel of Mark is based on Homer or that Acts was written in the "late" second century--your defense always collapses into, "You should read the book if you want to criticize it."

Anyway. I just thought that was very funny.

Ha ha.

</STRONG>
Layman, one very funny thing about this thread, is for you to not manage to be up to Toto's post of November 2 at 3:15 p.m..
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Old 11-04-2001, 02:50 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Toto:
Layman - I guess you don't have any substantive criticisms of my analysis, and it looks like even you can't rescue Tercel from the pickle he's got himself into.
I'm in a pickle?

Quote:
I think you're making this up as you go along. Eyewitness testimony is admissible in court, although we know scientifically that eyewitnesses are often unreliable. But the legal system is stuck with eyewitness testimony unless there is better evidence, like DNA. A certain lack of uniformity is tolerated, given that eyewitnesses are so unreliable.
So you're now admitting that a lack of complete uniformity is acceptable? I suppose that must mean you're dropping your objections to the Gospel accounts on the uniformity/ descrepancy issue.

Quote:
I don't think any part of Biblical scholarship would make it into court as a science, if you had to prove the truth of the events of the Bible. It would all be dismissed as junk science or speculation, multiple hearsay piled on hearsay.
Are you saying here that Biblical scholarship would be dismissed as junk science or speculation???

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

Would they be allowed by their creeds to conclude otherwise?
Yes. Plenty of Christians deny the traditional authorship of many of the books of the Bible. It doesn't make them less Christian.

Quote:
Claiming that one knows the answers in advance is not good scholarship.
Agreed. That's why I think that some of the extreme atheists who want in advance to conclude that the Bible is a collection of fabricated myths created as far as possible after the real events, don't make good scholars!

Quote:
Actually, this raises another interesting question. Have you noticed that a large number of qualified modern biblical scholars are former Pastors and were formerly "extremely conservative Christians" before their research lead them to the inevitable conclusion that this was nothing more than an ancient myth and supersticion elevated to the level of supernatural reality?
"inevitable conclusion"
There certainly are a reasonable number of such people around this website, however any supposition that suggests that this website is in any way representative of people as a whole is rather lacking in sense. In other words, I think there are rather fewer of such people that you probably think.
However, such people certainly do exist, and I think the explanation lies in the tendency of many acedemic institutions to accept uncritically the current "fashions" in scholarship which, over the last while, have been extremely liberal - though I think this is changing now. It is hardly surprising that when extremely conservative Christians are confronted in their theological college with supposed "modern" scholarship (which is tragically so often little more than a rehashing of some of the outdated and long discredited Enlightenment theories) saying that the Bible is nothing but myths, that some of them would lose their faith. That's my opinon on the subject at anyrate...

Tercel
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Old 11-04-2001, 07:34 PM   #16
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Tercel: I don't know how to explain it in words of fewer syllables.

There are discrepancies in most eyewitness testimony. There are discrepancies in the Gospels. It is an astounding leap of faith and logic to go from those two statements to say that the Gospels are therefore valid eyewitness testimony.

Lawyers are not necessarily experts on how to evaluate eyewitness testimony. They leave that question to the jury. Historians and folklorists, however, have looked at the Gospel accounts and concluded that the pattern of discrepancies is not characteristic of different eyewitnesses, but of legendary development - one person hearing a story, and passing it on with a few embellishments.

And is Biblical scholarship junk science? I don't think that it qualifies as any kind of real science. Christians who are scientists and atheists who are scientists do the same science - they look at the same experiment and interpret the results the same. I don't think you can say the same thing about Biblical scholarship.
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Old 11-04-2001, 08:24 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ion:
<STRONG>
Layman, one very funny thing about this thread, is for you to not manage to be up to Toto's post of November 2 at 3:15 p.m..</STRONG>
Reason number 435 why I don't post here that often. Childish taunting.
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Old 11-04-2001, 08:32 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Toto:
Layman - I guess you don't have any substantive criticisms of my analysis, and it looks like even you can't rescue Tercel from the pickle he's got himself into.
No, I don't have any substantive criticism of your "analysis." I didn't come here to "rescue Tercel.

Quote:
In the case of McDonald's work on Mark, or Doherty's work on the Jesus Puzzle, the only two cases where I've said you had to read the book to criticize it, I tried to give enough of a plot summary to counter your misimpressions of what the book said. Is the summary of Greenleaf's thesis incorrect? Or have you read the book?
During our debate on Acts you tried to drag some other scholar in too. You tried to give enough of a "plot summary"? Were we talking about novels?

I had no "misimpressionos" of what the books said, I disagreed with their conclusions and explained why. When I moved beyond your ability (or willingness) to respond, you bailed and said, "just read the book, you can't refute it until you read it."

I have not read Greenleaf's book. I have heard of it. But I have no intention of reading it. My criticism of the whole notion of using the rules of evidence to evaluate the Gospels is that I don't have much faith in the judicial system as an truth determinator. There are all kinds of values at interest in the judicial system and finding out the "truth" is really only one of them. And, in my book, its too far down on the list. Too much information is kept out. The "fact finder" is unskilled, largely uneducated, and inexperienced. They are also unaccountable. The use of expert testimony is deeply flawed in many cases. Direct and cross-examination are generally lousy ways to communicate. Defendants in criminal actions have many rights (too many in my book) that are actually designed to impede fact finding. The talent of the legal guns can vary widely. Trial judges are too concerned with reversal. Appellate judges are too concerned with policy. On and on I could go.

While Greenleaf might make useful analogies to the legal system, I think the notion of using the Rules of Evidence to prove the case of Christianity is misplaced.
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Old 11-04-2001, 08:36 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Toto:
Tercel: I don't know how to explain it in words of fewer syllables.
AH yes. The "my opponenet can't just disagree with me, he has to be an idiot tact."

Quote:
There are discrepancies in most eyewitness testimony. There are discrepancies in the Gospels. It is an astounding leap of faith and logic to go from those two statements to say that the Gospels are therefore valid eyewitness testimony.
I'm quite sure that not all "discrepancies" can be explained by eye-witness divergences, but I think that some of it can. Especially between the Gospel of John and the Synoptics.

Quote:
Lawyers are not necessarily experts on how to evaluate eyewitness testimony. They leave that question to the jury. Historians and folklorists, however, have looked at the Gospel accounts and concluded that the pattern of discrepancies is not characteristic of different eyewitnesses, but of legendary development - one person hearing a story, and passing it on with a few embellishments.
Legendary development? I don't think all historians and "folklorists" would agree with you that that's the only option. Unless you are simply equating "legendary development" with redaction, which I think would be a mistake.

[ November 04, 2001: Message edited by: Layman ]
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Old 11-05-2001, 08:08 AM   #20
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Tercel, regarding contradictions, this essay by Dan Barker is worth reading and thinking about (if you haven't already).

Leave No Stone Unturned

Particularly relevant is this excerpt:

"Another analogy sometimes used by apologists is comparing the resurrection contradictions to differing accounts given by witnesses of an auto accident. If one witness said the vehicle was green and the other said it was blue, that could be accounted for by different angles, lighting, perception, or definitions of words. The important thing, they claim, is that they do agree on the basic story--there was an accident, there was a resurrection.

I am not a fundamentalist inerrantist. I'm not demanding that the evangelists must have been expert, infallible witnesses. (None
of them claims to have been at the tomb itself, anyway.) But what if one person said the auto accident happened in Chicago and
the other said it happened in Milwaukee? At least one of these witnesses has serious problems with the truth.

<STRONG>Luke says the post-resurrection appearance happened in Jerusalem, but Matthew says it happened in Galilee, sixty to one
hundred miles away! Could they all have traveled 150 miles that day, by foot, trudging up to Galilee for the first appearance, then back to Jerusalem for the evening meal? There is no mention of any horses, but twelve well-conditioned thoroughbreds racing at breakneck speed, as the crow flies, would need about five hours for the trip, without a rest. And during this madcap scenario, could Jesus have found time for a leisurely stroll to Emmaus, accepting, "toward evening," an invitation to dinner?
Something is very wrong here.</STRONG>

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, none of these contradictions prove that the resurrection did not happen, but they do throw considerable doubt on the reliability of the supposed witnesses. Some of them were wrong. Maybe they were all wrong.

This challenge could be harder. I could ask why reports of supernatural beings, vanishing and materializing out of thin air, long-dead corpses coming back to life, and people levitating should be given serious consideration at all. Thomas Paine was one of the first to point out that outrageous claims require outrageous proof.

Protestants and Catholics seem to have no trouble applying healthy skepticism to the miracles of Islam, or to the "historical" visit between Joseph Smith and the angel Moroni. Why should Christians treat their own outrageous claims any differently? Why
should someone who was not there be any more eager to believe than doubting Thomas, who lived during that time, or the other disciples who said that the women's news from the tomb "seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not" (Luke 24:11)?

Paine also points out that everything in the bible is hearsay. For example, the message at the tomb (if it happened at all) took
this path, at minimum, before it got to our eyes: God, angel(s), Mary, disciples, Gospel writers, copyists, translators. (The Gospels are all anonymous and we have no original versions.)

But first things first: Christians, either tell me exactly what happened on Easter Sunday, or let's leave the Jesus myth buried next to Eastre (Ishtar, Astarte), the pagan Goddess of Spring after whom your holiday was named."

If you have any reasonable explanations, we'd be happy to entertain them.

[ November 05, 2001: Message edited by: MOJO-JOJO ]
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