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Old 05-15-2001, 05:26 PM   #11
Toto
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It seems clear that the foundations of this "debate" should have been clarified.

I don't think anyone expected a "winner", but the rules of who should address whose arguments in what time frame probably (in hindsight) should have been made clear at the start.

I do not see why Doherty has to carry such a heavy burden of proof, just because his theory is somewhat unusual. I think a mere preponderance of the evidence should be enough.

I do not agree that Nomad has prevailed, but if he wants to pretend he did, he can be a legend in his own mind.

As for a few points from Nomad's last post, I consider the field of apologetics to be an exercise in finding arguments to support the Bible that usually do not stand up to rational scrutiny, and at most give believers the feeling that their belief is not insane. I consider the criterion of embarassment so laughable that I don't see how anyone can seriously defend it. I don't think that you have produced any credible evidence for Jesus's baptism. Doherty has already written a long piece on why neither quote from Josephus proves Jesus' existence.

I have emailed Doherty and asked him not to throw in the towel. I haven't heard anything so far. I suspect that Physicsguy is involved in schoolwork. Perhaps if he gets back, things might resume.

(edited to say I see Physicsguy is here on another thread.)

[This message has been edited by Toto (edited May 15, 2001).]
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Old 05-15-2001, 05:49 PM   #12
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Toto,

I really don't care what Doherty has on his website. Or what's in his book. There are dozens of websites discussing the historicity of Josephus' references to Jesus. But can Doherty defend his position in this debate?

There is no "burden of proof" being imposed on Doherty. It is the nature of his claim that results in his difficult position. He is making a postive assertion that Jesus did not exist. He's not just saying Paul didn't believe in Jesus, or that the Johannine community didn't believe that Jesus existed, he's arguing that Jesus did not, in fact, exist.

Not a Theist is right. Doherty can make plausibe arguments about Paul. He can make plausible arguments about John's epistles. He can make plausible arguments about the epistle to the Hebrews. But if Nomad shows that Josephus refered to the human Jesus, or that one of the traditions preserved in the gospels is genuine, then all of Doherty's arguments are futile: there was a Jesus.

Your thoughts on the criteria of embarassment are noted, but irrelevant. You have yet to explain why it is difficiently applied in this case. Especially in light of the fact that the experts in the field rely on it across the board.

I am actually open to the view that it has no probative value regarding Jesus' baptism, but neither Doherty or you have attempted to offer a counterexplanation. I have read many skeptics, liberals, and moderates and I haven't seen a specific rebuttal.
 
Old 05-15-2001, 05:51 PM   #13
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LAYMAN: The question we all thought was being addressed in this debate was whether or not Jesus really existed.

EARL/PHILIP: No, Layman. That was not the subject of the debate. The debate was supposed to be about MYTHICISM, and in particular Doherty's arguments. Nomad was supposed to refute Doherty's case for Jesus' ahistoricity. The debate was supposed to be focused around Doherty's case, not the general question of whether Jesus existed. How do we know this? Because (1) Doherty is the star of the show. He was asked to come to defend his views in a public debate--HIS VIEWS, you know, all those arguments on his web site and in his book. Doherty's arguments were supposed to be the target. And (2) the thread is called "The Jesus Puzzle Debate" not "Did Jesus exist?" The difference is in the focus. The former is focussed around one of the sides on a question, the point being for one of the participants to defend that side and for the other participant to try to refute that side. The title, "Did Jesus Exist?" however, is focussed on a middle ground question with the purpose of having each participant lay out his case on either side of the question.

I'm not speaking, by the way, as a biased follower of mythicism. As I said before, I'm not a mythicist, but I am interested in Doherty's arguments and I wanted to see Doherty defend those arguments. I did not want to see Doherty attack Nomad's paltry case for Jesus' historicity. Do you understand that a debate can be focussed around a set of arguments rather than around a general question? In this case, Doherty's arguments were the focus of the debate. That's why Doherty came to the Secular Web, and that's why Nomad was allegedly happy to get a chance to debate DOHERTY in particular, and not just any skeptic or mythicist. This was how Doherty framed his first post: he laid out HIS arguments, expecting Nomad to address some of them. Nomad never did so, but instead indulged himself in irrelevant matters. In his last post, he did indeed make relevant arguments to the question of Jesus' existence, but that doesn't mean he fulfilled his role in the debate. He was supposed to demolish Doherty's arguments. That what I for one wanted see, whether Doherty could successfully defend HIS CASE for Jesus' non-existence.
 
Old 05-15-2001, 06:00 PM   #14
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Earl,

This is nothing but rubbish. I can't believe you guys. Doherty refuses to discuss Josephus' references to Jesus and you claim that Nomad is out of line? Doherty won't continue the debate unless Nomad abadons some of his strongest lines of attack? And Nomad is out of line?

Doherty's theory is not just that Paul alone believed in a mythical Christ, it is that all early Christians believed in a mythical Christ. He argues that there was no historical Jesus.

If Josephus refers to a historical Jesus, Doherty's theory fails. If the gospels contain authentic historical traditions about Jesus, Doherty's theory fails. If Acts is right that the early Jerusalem church preached about a human Jesus, Doherty's theory fails.

I really don't care "how" Doherty arrives at his conclusion if he neglects to, or cannot, deal with these basic issues.



[This message has been edited by Layman (edited May 15, 2001).]
 
Old 05-15-2001, 06:14 PM   #15
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Layman,

Did I anywhere say Nomad couldn't bring up Josephus' references to Jesus, John's baptism of Jesus, and early Christian practice? Of course Nomad was allowed to raise these issues, but he should have done so in the context of Doherty's own discussion of them. He should have raised these issues by attacking Doherty's arguments regarding them. That's what it means to have a debate focussed on one of the sides in the discussion, in this case Doherty's mythicism.


[This message has been edited by Earl (edited May 15, 2001).]
 
Old 05-15-2001, 06:26 PM   #16
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Earl:
Layman,

Did I anywhere say Nomad couldn't bring up Josephus' references to Jesus, John's baptism of Jesus, and early Christian practice? Of course Nomad was allowed to raise these issues, but he should have done so in the context of Doherty's own discussion of them. He should have raised these issues by attacking Doherty's arguments regarding them. That's what it means to have a debate focussed on one of the sides in the discussion, in this case Doherty's mythicism.


[This message has been edited by Earl (edited May 15, 2001).]
</font>
Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

All your argument boils down to is that Nomad can only attack issues if and when they are raised by Doherty.

Doherty's theory is vulnerable on many fronts. Nomad is not obliged to avoid them until Doherty is ready, or willing, to defend them.



[This message has been edited by Layman (edited May 15, 2001).]
 
Old 05-15-2001, 06:53 PM   #17
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LAYMAN: All your argument boils down to is that Nomad can only attack issues if and when they are raised by Doherty.

EARL/PHILIP: False. Nomad can raise any issue he likes and when he likes, but in doing so he has to address Doherty's arguments on the subject, if indeed Doherty does have arguments on the subject, whether found in his website, his book, or summarized in his first post. Again, that's what it means to debate Doherty's mythicism, the debate's topic as indicated by the debate's title, and the relative star power of Doherty compared to Nomad. We wanted to see Doherty defend his views against strong objections. Nomad has indeed raised objections to mythicism in general, but he hasn't indicated any willingness to address Doherty's arguments in detail. He really did brush off Doherty's arguments about Paul as irrelevant to the question of Jesus' existence. In the present thread Nomad actually says "I'm not interested in getting side tracked into a separate discussion on how Paul and the first apostles preached this Jesus as Christ, and God." Thus Nomad calls one of Doherty's major mythicist arguments a "side track." Nomad is free to consider Doherty's arguments weak or even irrelevant, but it's a simple category mistake to call them a "side track." Since the debate was supposed to be about Doherty's mythicism, by definition Doherty's arguments and only those arguments are the main course, not a side dish.

I propose that some moderator or other come up with some new guidelines for the formal debate, especially a proposition to be affirmed or denied, to get the debate back on track. At this point, the debate is foundering because of the confusion between these two propositions: "Did an historical Jesus live?" and "Is Doherty's mythicism true?" The two questions are, of course, related, but the emphasis is different, as I explained in my previous posts in this thread.
 
Old 05-15-2001, 06:53 PM   #18
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Toto writes:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I consider the criterion of embarassment so laughable that I don't see how anyone can seriously defend it.</font>
Well, I hope you are not asserting that it is only or even predominantly Christian apologists who use the criterion of embarassment (really just a type of the criterion of dissimilarity). It is considered one of the most important and determinant criteria in historical Jesus research. Stein writes of the criterion:

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">"It may in fact be the single most valuable tool for authenticity, for if a saying or action of Jesus in the gospel tradition meets the demands of this criterion, the likelihood of it being authentic is extremely good."[R. H. Stein, "The 'Criteria' for Authenticity," in R. T. France and D. Wenham (eds.), Studies of History and Tradition in the Four Gospels (Gospel Perspectives 1; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1983) p. 244]</font>
The logic of the criterion is straightforward -

A source that reports against its own agenda, at least on that particular point, is probably not fabricating the information being presented.

Would you like to tell me why this is "laughable"? Would you like to offer us some better criteria for deciding what is and isn't authentic tradition concerning Jesus?

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Old 05-15-2001, 07:05 PM   #19
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Earl,

I realize that Doherty may enjoy espousing his novel views on Paul's theology, but why should Nomad be forced to respond to arguments if he believes that he has stronger, clearer arguments that would be more convincing to his audience?

It is called a demurrer in state forums, Earl. It means, "Okay, even if all that is true, your theory still loses because ___."

Even so (ha ha), Nomad's theories do relate to Doherty's interpretations of Paul. If Josephus really is referring to human Jesus and his brother, this would effect our understanding of Paul and Paul's reference to James, "the brother of the Lord."

Your animus towards Nomad is completely unjustified. Even if Doherty had some views about the debate that obligated Nomad to respond to every point he raised before raising any of his own, Nomad obviously was not aware of any such representations.

And Nomad is not the one threatening to call off the entire debate unless it takes place on his own, previously unexpressed, terms. Early D. is. If he was mislead at the nature of the debate, then shame on those responsible. But it in no way reflects poorly on Nomad.

 
Old 05-15-2001, 07:26 PM   #20
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Exactly Layman.

And that should be readily obvious to anyone. All this bunk about "Oh, Nomad didn't address Earl's Pauline quibbles" is irrelevant. Earl can fudge around with the Paulines all he wants and serve us up some alternate unfalsifiable possibilities (that's all his Platonic speculation amounts to). But if historical points concerning Jesus can be established independent of that nonsense, the balance of probability shifts in those areas as well and Paul's discussion of Jesus, the brother of James, the Jewish Messiah, 'born of a woman, born under the law', cicumcised, 'descended from David according to the flesh', and crucified (yet divine and currently exalted - functionally equivalent to the Holy Spirit) become intelligible along the same order as that in the Gospel of John (as Nomad's entirely relevant examples show).

Nomad took the best possible route in a debate like this. Earl D. caught wind of it and ran away whining.

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