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Old 05-15-2001, 03:51 PM   #1
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Post Earl D's Argument from Silence

Earl Doherty: …What we can do with more security is establish patterns and overall features across the entire record… But my 'argument from silence'…

ChristianSkeptic: One of the criteria to evaluate the strength of an argument from silence is to ask how likely is it that the writer would mention this event in this document?

It is precisely when you take the NT as a whole and take notice of “establish patterns and overall feature across the entire record” that your argument from silence becomes obviously untenable.

Taken, as a whole there is a five-fold division of the NT.

1). The first four books are historical and give us the history of redemption. It is Christ manifested in the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth. The first four books give you his life, death and resurrection.

2). The book of Acts is a book of proclamation of what was manifested in the first four.

3). The next thirteen books tell us what it all means. They are theological and explain such topics as justification, sanctification and calling.

4). The next eight books are of application. These are books of practicality-where the rubber meets the road. Here you will find the books of Peter written from experience (who lost his courage, but not his faith) and James (the role of deeds).

5). Revelation is a book of expectation centered on the return of Christ.

Given the clear intent of the authors of these books, Earl Doherty your argument from silence is hopelessly untenable because we do not expect a detailed description of the resurrection story in those books that follow the first five; although there are [allusions], for example, Paul’s formula in 1 Corinthians 15 (I think) implies an empty tomb and I think [I John] asserts that they were “eye witnesses to Jesus.”

[This message has been edited by ChristianSkeptic (edited May 15, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by ChristianSkeptic (edited May 17, 2001).]
 
Old 05-15-2001, 05:56 PM   #2
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I don't think that ChristianSkeptic gets the point. ED's point is why don't the letters mention many of the things that the Gospels mention when it would be appropriate to do so? For example, why do they make no mention of JC raising Lazarus from the dead? Especially when it would be excellent "proof" that JC has triumphed over death.

And there are other bits of questionable history, like King Herod ordering the killing of a large number of baby boys in order to kill JC. Only the Gospel of Matthew contains that, and none of the rest of the NT even mentions that supposed incident. One might expect Herod and Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas to be listed as examples of the "demon powers" that have persecuted JC, but they aren't.
 
Old 05-16-2001, 01:38 PM   #3
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Lpetrich:…ED's point is why don't the letters mention many of the things that the Gospels mention when it would be appropriate to do so?

ChristianSkeptic (CS): Hello Lpetrich

You are missing ED’s point. He wrote, “…establish patterns and overall features across the entire record, …It’s what makes the use of an argument from silence valid. When there is a vast and pervasive silence in one segment of the record when compared with another…”

My point, which you do not deny, is that the authors intent must be taken into account when asking the question how likely is it that the writer would mention this event in this document? We see given my summary of the authors’ intent it’s inappropriate to expect the epistles to mention what is at issue here the historicity of Jesus in detail. It’s taken for granted.

Lpetrich ..For example, why do they make no mention of JC raising Lazarus from the dead? Especially when it would be excellent "proof" that JC has triumphed over death.

CS: Because as I wrote, “the epistles are theological books that explain such topics as justification, sanctification and calling etc. etc.

Also I did make the point, which you do not deny, that the epistles do make other allusions to Jesus. So while they do not mention Lazarus, there are allusions to other events (the empty tomb, post burial appearances).

Lpetrich: And there are other bits of questionable history, like King Herod ordering the killing of a large number of baby boys in order to kill JC. Only the Gospel of Matthew contains that, and none of the rest of the NT even mentions that supposed incident.

CS: That’s because the Gospel according to Matthew’s is the prophetic and historical bridge between the First and New Covenant while the other Gospels are written with a different intent. Take two other books of the NT for example, the book of Hebrew is the ceremonial bridge and the book of Romans is the theological bridge to the First Covenant. Given the intent of these books we would expect they, like Matthew would make more references to the First Covenant than the other books of the NT, which is the case.
 
Old 05-16-2001, 02:39 PM   #4
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I marvel at the ingenuity of ChristianSkeptic's rationalizations. Either he or his favorite authors must have spent a large amount of time on them.

I wonder how he figures out the authors' intents; as I see it, the epistles' omissions are conclusions that follow from their authors' intents as worked out from what they had written. In that rising-from-the-dead example, one would expect the epistle authors to discuss in detail Jesus Christ's various triumphs over death such as the miracle of him raising Lazarus from the dead. But they don't.

And this hypothesis of Matthew as a link between the Old and the New Testaments does not explain that troublesome silence about those slaughtered baby boys.

 
Old 05-17-2001, 09:29 AM   #5
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Lpetrich (LP): I marvel at the ingenuity of ChristianSkeptic's rationalizations.

ChristianSkeptic (CS): My initial post consists of what anyone could learn from a good adult Sunday school class.

As for me, I still have trouble cutting along the lines and I keep getting Elmers’ glue on my fingers when I paste the animals on the ark.

LP: Either he or his favorite authors must have spent a large amount of time on them.

CS: You are correct because I did spend a lot of time listening over and over again to an audio tape series entitled "The Structure of the Bible" by Dr. Robert Morey who himself alludes to other authors.

Also, my points can be derived from any study bible.

LP: I wonder how he figures out the authors' intents;

CS: The intent of the author can be derived from the book's theme. Matthew’s Gospel is historical, at least that's how it sees itself, as evidenced by its starting point of the genealogy of Jesus beginning with Abraham.

LP: as I see it, the epistles' omissions are conclusions that follow from their authors' intents as worked out from what they had written.

CS: The omissions of the epistles are a reflection of the fact that they are letters. To paraphrase Pete Williams, Ph. D., and Lecturer in Ancient Languages at Cambridge University, England (emphasis mine), “ These are letters which aren’t meant to prove anything since in almost every case the people being address are already Christians …the letters are about how to hold service, food laws… they seek to explain the message…”

Since the epistles message is centered on Jesus we should not expect allusions to the likes of Lazarus or King Herod, but instead since the epistles seek to explain what was preached in the Gospels (what Jesus' resurrection means) then we should expect allusion to his resurrection, which is what we find (see: Romans 6:4; Galatians 1:1; I Peter 1:3; I John 1:1,2).

LP: …one would expect the epistle authors to discuss in detail Jesus Christ's various triumphs over death…

CS: Jesus’ ultimate triumph over death, to be preached for all time, was his resurrection. His miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead was evidence to those at that time.

It is interesting to note at this point that you do not deny my criterion for judging the strength of Earl D’s argument from silence, [you do not deny my point that the author's intent must be taken into account] and you have not directly address my point that while the epistles do not address the specific [examples] you raise they do allude to other points of the Gospels.


[This message has been edited by ChristianSkeptic (edited May 17, 2001).]

[This message has been edited by ChristianSkeptic (edited May 20, 2001).]
 
Old 05-17-2001, 09:46 AM   #6
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Where is Earl D? he wrote, "...the argument from silence becomes legitimate. I'm sure we'll get to all of that."

OK let's party
 
Old 05-17-2001, 10:55 AM   #7
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I hesitate to add anything. CS seems to be the main one posting to his own thread, and I doubt if Doherty is going to show up here.

Doherty's arguments go beyond the silence in Paul. There is also silence about the historical Jesus in early church writings and contemporary pagan literature. And it's not just silence - it's silence where you would have expected the writer to quote some words of Jesus, or refer to some well known event in his life. He has made these arguments in a very detailed fashion in his book, and you do not address his arguments.
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Old 05-17-2001, 11:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Toto:
I hesitate to add anything. CS seems to be the main one posting to his own thread, and I doubt if Doherty is going to show up here.

Doherty's arguments go beyond the silence in Paul. There is also silence about the historical Jesus in early church writings and contemporary pagan literature. And it's not just silence - it's silence where you would have expected the writer to quote some words of Jesus, or refer to some well known event in his life. He has made these arguments in a very detailed fashion in his book, and you do not address his arguments.
</font>
I haven't read his book. Does he explain why Acts is silent about Paul's letters?
 
Old 05-17-2001, 11:41 AM   #9
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ChristianSkeptic's argument that the epistles are centered on Jesus Christ does not make any sense, because the Gospels also are. And the Gospels discuss Herod, Lazarus, etc. Which makes it especially curious that Paul does not discuss the Lazarus miracle as an example of what JC will do for his faithful followers.
 
Old 05-17-2001, 11:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by lpetrich:
ChristianSkeptic's argument that the epistles are centered on Jesus Christ does not make any sense, because the Gospels also are. And the Gospels discuss Herod, Lazarus, etc. Which makes it especially curious that Paul does not discuss the Lazarus miracle as an example of what JC will do for his faithful followers.</font>
Because that is NOT what Jesus would do for his faithful followers. "The Resurrection" which Pharisiac and common Jews, as well as early Christians, were expecting was completely different than the resurrection of Lazarus. No one has ever argued that Lazarus was "resurrected" in the sense that Jesus was
"resurrected." Lazarus was his same old self and simply had a few more years to live. Jesus was transformed into a new KIND of body, and would live for eternity.

The best example of what Jesus would do is what happened to Jesus. That is why Paul uses the resurrection of Jesus as the template. For if Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, our faith is in vain.

Lazarus is irrelevant to the point.
 
 

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