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Old 03-21-2010, 09:59 PM   #21
arnoldo
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Hi Apostate Abe,

Thank you for this response. This scenario that you give was actually the first one that I thought of. Eusebius simply felt differently about John the Baptist's purification than Josephus. I gave it a little thought and realized that it was silly.
Hi Philsopher Jay,

It's quite a difficult endeavor to determine what exactly a different culture thought about this topic thousands of years ago. Different groups developed within the jews in ancient Israel concerning many issues including baptism, extrabiblical laws, customs, or even the existence of the soul/afterlife. Michael Satlow goes into great depth in the following podcast entitled From Israelite to Jew: 18: Jesus and Other Strange Jews. IIRC, he even makes a reference to Josephus's account of John's baptism in the lecture.
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:15 PM   #22
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Hi Apostate Abe,

Thank you for this response. This scenario that you give was actually the first one that I thought of. Eusebius simply felt differently about John the Baptist's purification than Josephus. I gave it a little thought and realized that it was silly.

Eusebius is going to state that John the Baptist baptized for sins and then he is going to refer his readers to the one historical source he has for John the Baptist that directly contradicts him and says that John baptized not for sins.

Imagine me saying "George Washington was not the first president of the United States. Here is a list of presidents on Wikipedia." When you go there it says that George Washington was the first president of the United States.

Or imagine someone saying, "There is no such thing as global warning. Go see the movie, "An inconvenient Truth"."

Or someone saying, "D.H. Lawrence never wrote about sex. He wrote the novel "Lady Chatterley's Lover"."

Or someone saying, "Rosario Dawson is really a man. Go see the movie "Alexander."

We may assume that Eusebius was insane for this to be the case, or we can more charitably say that he was drunk when he cited a source that contradicted his one statement about John the Baptist.

The problem is that we also have to assume the Origen was insane and/or drunk when he did the same thing, cited a source that directly contradicted his one statement on John the Baptist.

My theory does not rely on Eusebius being drunk or insane, but simply changing his mind on an important issue to himself. The issue of what John baptized for must have been important or it would not have been the most significant thing he mentions about John.

Thus we get this simple scenario that accounts for all the evidence in the simplest fashion.

Eusebius says John baptized for sins.
He interpolates the first lines about John in Josephus.

He is afraid that someone will catch his forgery, so he interpolates the same statements in Origen. (Note: also the discussion of John in Origen lacks sense in the position it is in) and he has Origen also citing Josephus in the exact way that he did, which proves that Origen saw it in Josephus. This is Eusebius' defense if anyone accuses him of forgery.

Later, because nobody, in fact has caught him, while writing his Church history, he goes to add the part about John baptized for sins. However he thinks about it, finds it theologically wrong and decides to say the opposite that John didn't baptize for sins.

Incidentally, it also seems to me that Eusebius, emboldened by the fact that nobody has caught his previous John forgery, adds the TF and even does a bit of tweaking of the James passage by adding (brother of the Lord) to help his theory that James was Jesus' brother).

Logically, this makes sense and is more reasonable to believe than that someone would cite a source against his own judgment about such an important issue. (Important because it is the one thing that Eusebius, Origen and Josephus says about John the Baptist - the meaning of his baptism).

As far as this being ad hoc, one might say that any deduction to the most logical choice is always ad hoc. In the movie, "the Maltese Falcon," it is hard to believe that Brigid O'Shaughnessy bumped off Sam Spade's partner Miles, as she is the most innocent looking of the desperate suspect that Sam meets. However, once he eliminates the other suspects, she is the only possible one left and so Sam can be sure that he is correct when he pins the murder on her, although he was not there to see it.

Warmly,

Philosopher Jay
Eusebius is going to state that John the Baptist baptized for sins and then he is going to refer his readers to the one historical source he has for John the Baptist that directly contradicts him and says that John baptized not for sins.

Imagine me saying "George Washington was not the first president of the United States. Here is a list of presidents on Wikipedia." When you go there it says that George Washington was the first president of the United States.


If that really seems unlikely to you, then consider that Origen and Eusebius were arguing against non-Christians, and Josephus was the only historical non-Christian source available who attests to John the Baptist. It was not central to their arguments that John baptized for the remission of sins. The central claim of the citation for Eusebius was that "John was a marvel to those who saw him." Origen takes a further step backward, and his central claim was "the existence of John the Baptist." They cited Josephus because they had almost no other choice. In my years of debate, I have seen sources abused by Christian apologists to a much greater extent. They have a name for it in the creation vs. evolution debates: quote mining. Quotes from evolutionary biologists and other scientists are taken from their original context to distort the meaning in favor of creationism. They trust that most of their readers will not check the original source and evaluate the intended meaning, and for good reason--their readers generally do no such thing. The behavior of Origen and Eusebius is somewhat analogous, though a little more forgivable--they don't imply that Josephus agrees with them on the details of John the Baptist. Your explanation is considerably more unlikely--we very much expect that an interpolation reflects the interpolator's interests, and the passage of Josephus plainly would not.
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:24 PM   #23
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I have read plenty of Ehrman, but also Van Voorst, much of the New Testament, about a third of Price's book, and thousands of posts in the BC&H.
You have barely touched the subject. You don't know what you don't know. That's a very dangerous position to be in.



And you assume that the reason he started his own journal was that other journals refused to publish his work? <facepalm>

Look at the references in Price's published works on theology.



It doesn't? Are earlier fictional works more likely to be historical??



No, it is not just as true.

.

This is unique, and wrong. But you need to be more specific, and perhaps write this up for a peer reviewed journal, since no one else seems to have made this argument. The alternate explanation is that earlier documents contain earlier theological views, which can become disfavored by later writers. This does not make the earlier views historically valid.



You will find that most NT writers engage in this sort of speculation, since there is hardly any real evidence.



Price is not writing a survey of all possible explanations (that would take an encyclopedia.) I don't find his treatment goofy, and he is hardly the only writer who has observed that Mark does not find the baptism by John to be embarrassing in the least.

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"But everything in the Bible has a theological basis."

And you are accusing me of having an unjustified assumption? Can we really ascribe a theological basis to EVERYTHING in the Bible? If we find embarrassing but historically-plausible claims in earlier sources that are either omitted or positively spun in later sources, then it is reasonable to conclude that those elements do not have a theological basis, unless there is an explanation that wasn't just pulled out of someone's hiney.
Yes, everything in the Bible has a theological basis of some sort. It is, after all, a work of theology, of sacred literature.

If you claim to have read lots of posts in BCH, you seem to have missed the many threads that demonstrated that the criterion of embarrassment is useless for determining history. Most mainstream scholars have quietly abandoned it as its flaws have been demonstrated. And you will notice that scholars are careful to speak only of evidence of an "early tradition," not evidence of actual history.

In short, what seems embarrassing to Matthew was not embarrasing to Mark - but this is only evidence of their different viewpoints, not of an underlying bit of history.
This is unique, and wrong. But you need to be more specific, and perhaps write this up for a peer reviewed journal, since no one else seems to have made this argument. The alternate explanation is that earlier documents contain earlier theological views, which can become disfavored by later writers. This does not make the earlier views historically valid.

I was a bit surprised to read you claim that you have not heard it, but, upon reflection, it seems to be something of my own creation, based on the arguments of others. For example, Price writes, as I quoted in the OP,
When you strip away the layers of edifying legend and controversial mythology, was Jesus baptized by John? A poll among New Testament scholars would no doubt yield a near-unanimous "yes" vote. The only item in the life story of Jesus considered equally secure is his crucifixion. And the reason for this is perfectly clear by now: the baptism was so embarrassing to Christians, both because it seems to subordinate Jesus to John and because it seems to cast Jesus as a repentant sinner, that the early church would never have fabricated it.
This is a statement of the criterion of dissimilarity. You can combine that with the "earlier is better" criterion.

You will find that most NT writers engage in this sort of speculation, since there is hardly any real evidence.

Not all speculations are equal. When Price speculates, it is often with absolutely no evidence at all, except maybe an analogy, such as when he claims, "...the story may simply have originated as a cultic etiology to provide a paradigm for baptism..." to explain the seeming ambivelence of Mark about John baptizing Jesus. Practically no evidence, but he takes it seriously as an explanation, omitting the more intuitive explanation that the Christian rhetoric was still young and less developed when Mark was written. That explanation actually has significant likelihood.

Price is not writing a survey of all possible explanations (that would take an encyclopedia.) I don't find his treatment goofy, and he is hardly the only writer who has observed that Mark does not find the baptism by John to be embarrassing in the least.

OK, but it would help if Price would show how his explanations actually compete. It is something I have made into a habit whenever I engage in persuasive writing--what explanations are the opponents likely to accept, and why are my explanations better? You can see it all over my recent thread in the Evolution/Creation forum, for example. Anyone can concoct weird explanations to suit a pre-determined conclusion, but the winning explanations are the ones with the greatest relative probability.
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Old 03-22-2010, 06:27 AM   #24
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This is unique, and wrong. But you need to be more specific, and perhaps write this up for a peer reviewed journal, since no one else seems to have made this argument. The alternate explanation is that earlier documents contain earlier theological views, which can become disfavored by later writers. This does not make the earlier views historically valid.
I was a bit surprised to read you claim that you have not heard it, but, upon reflection, it seems to be something of my own creation, based on the arguments of others. For example, Price writes, as I quoted in the OP,
When you strip away the layers of edifying legend and controversial mythology, was Jesus baptized by John? A poll among New Testament scholars would no doubt yield a near-unanimous "yes" vote. The only item in the life story of Jesus considered equally secure is his crucifixion. And the reason for this is perfectly clear by now: the baptism was so embarrassing to Christians, both because it seems to subordinate Jesus to John and because it seems to cast Jesus as a repentant sinner, that the early church would never have fabricated it.
This is a statement of the criterion of dissimilarity. You can combine that with the "earlier is better" criterion.
But you wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abe
The conclusion that there was a historical core to the New Testament is not an arbitrary assumption; it follows largely from this pattern of the early Christian writings: later documents contain elements that are apparently favorable to Christians, early documents contain elements that are apparently not favorable to Christians, and there seems to be no good way to explain those unfavorable elements except with historical truth
When challenged, those who use the criteria of embarrassment usually back off and just claim that it is evidence of an "early tradition." You will find that there is an underlying assumption of a historical core to the gospels that is never justified.

Quote:
You will find that most NT writers engage in this sort of speculation, since there is hardly any real evidence.

Not all speculations are equal. When Price speculates, it is often with absolutely no evidence at all, except maybe an analogy, such as when he claims, "...the story may simply have originated as a cultic etiology to provide a paradigm for baptism..." to explain the seeming ambivelence of Mark about John baptizing Jesus. Practically no evidence, but he takes it seriously as an explanation, omitting the more intuitive explanation that the Christian rhetoric was still young and less developed when Mark was written. That explanation actually has significant likelihood.
Your evaluation of the likelihood of different explanations seems to be entirely subjective. Why would Christian rhetoric be still young in 70 CE if Mark's gospel were correct in dating Jesus' death to the time of Pilate, several generations before?

Quote:
Price is not writing a survey of all possible explanations (that would take an encyclopedia.) I don't find his treatment goofy, and he is hardly the only writer who has observed that Mark does not find the baptism by John to be embarrassing in the least.

OK, but it would help if Price would show how his explanations actually compete. ...
The Evolution debate is completely different. Evolution has a robust body of facts supporting it, with well developed theories. The historical Jesus has various "Quests" that have come up with ad hoc and unsatisfying theories based on slim evidence. Most of the readers in the field seem to realize this. For some reason you have grabbed onto one particular theory as the gospel truth and can't see the problems.
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Old 03-22-2010, 07:23 AM   #25
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.... For example, Price writes, as I quoted in the OP,
When you strip away the layers of edifying legend and controversial mythology, was Jesus baptized by John? A poll among New Testament scholars would no doubt yield a near-unanimous "yes" vote. The only item in the life story of Jesus considered equally secure is his crucifixion. And the reason for this is perfectly clear by now: the baptism was so embarrassing to Christians, both because it seems to subordinate Jesus to John and because it seems to cast Jesus as a repentant sinner, that the early church would never have fabricated it.
This is a statement of the criterion of dissimilarity. You can combine that with the "earlier is better" criterion.
This argument by Price is most absurd.

It must be completely obvious that if you strip away and remove all the information that show a story is fiction that you can then claim the story is true.

This is like a defense lawyer claiming that his client is innocent if we strip away or ignore all the evidence that confirms guilt.

The reasoning of these so-called "historians" are just pathetic beyond belief.
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Old 03-22-2010, 08:33 AM   #26
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I have read plenty of Ehrman, but also Van Voorst, much of the New Testament, about a third of Price's book, and thousands of posts in the BC&H.
What parts of the NT did you determine were less important to read than "thousands of posts in the BC&H"?
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Old 03-22-2010, 08:52 AM   #27
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I have read plenty of Ehrman, but also Van Voorst, much of the New Testament, about a third of Price's book, and thousands of posts in the BC&H.
What parts of the NT did you determine were less important to read than "thousands of posts in the BC&H"?
Reading any isolated part of the New Testament is less valuable than the commentary on it. Toto's posts are great. They are typically very valuable. Also, Rick Sumner's posts and Jeffrey Gibson's posts are pretty good. DCHindley's posts are enlightening. Philosopher Jay's posts can have some good insights. But of course there are some posters who write almost nothing valuable and I just glaze over them.

All parts of the New Testament can be valuable, but my knowledge of the New Testament is debate-driven, so I arrive at my knowledge at a need-to-look-up basis. It is far better than just reading the New Testament with no good motivational framework, because the New Testament and the rest of the Bible to a modern reader like me appears somewhat obscure in meaning and disorganized--so many people who read the Bible cover to cover retain disappointingly little of it in their knowledge. They glaze over the passages relevant to a certain topic, like every other passage. It is somewhat like reading the full instruction manual for a Topcon GTS-105N Digital Total Station, not having access to the instrument and knowing little if anything about land surveying.
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Old 03-22-2010, 09:26 AM   #28
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...
This argument by Price is most absurd.

....
Just to be clear, that is not Price's argument. He is reporting on the argument that NT scholars make.
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Old 03-22-2010, 12:49 PM   #29
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Imagine me saying "George Washington was not the first president of the United States. Here is a list of presidents on Wikipedia." When you go there it says that George Washington was the first president of the United States.
Wasn't there a President under the Articles of Confederation?
The Articles created a Confederation, called the United States of America. The following is a list of those men who were ... President of Congress while the United States operated under the Articles:

•Samuel Huntington (Mar 2 1781 - Jul 6 1781)
•Thomas McKean (Jul 7 1781 - Nov 4 1781)
•John Hanson (Nov 5 1781 - Nov 3 1782)
•Elias Boudinot (Nov 4 1782 - Nov 2 1783)
•Thomas Mifflin (Nov 3 1783 - Nov 29 1784)
•Richard Henry Lee (Nov 30 1784 - Nov 22 1785)
•John Hancock (Nov 23 1785 - Jun 5 1786)
•Nathaniel Gorham (Jun 6 1786 - Feb 1 1787)
•Arthur St. Clair (Feb 2 1787 - Jan 21 1788)
•Cyrus Griffin (Jan 22 1788 - Apr 30 1789)
Note: Huntington was the President of the Continental Congress when it recognized the ratification of the Articles and converted to the Confederation Congress. Huntington resigned due to ill health, and McKean was selected to replace him. Hanson was the first person specifically elected to the position after ratification. http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_arti.html
So, the first President of The United States of America was Samuel Huntington, while the first elected President was John Hanson. The terms of the discussion were not set narrowly enough. Your statement that the first President of the United States was not George Washington is incorrect when referring to the United States of America under the Constitution, but would be correct for the United States of America under the Articles of Confederation.

Amen.

DCH
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Old 03-22-2010, 03:53 PM   #30
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Eusebius is going to state that John the Baptist baptized for sins and then he is going to refer his readers to the one historical source he has for John the Baptist that directly contradicts him and says that John baptized not for sins.

Imagine me saying "George Washington was not the first president of the United States. Here is a list of presidents on Wikipedia." When you go there it says that George Washington was the first president of the United States.


If that really seems unlikely to you, then consider that Origen and Eusebius were arguing against non-Christians, and Josephus was the only historical non-Christian source available who attests to John the Baptist. It was not central to their arguments that John baptized for the remission of sins. The central claim of the citation for Eusebius was that "John was a marvel to those who saw him." Origen takes a further step backward, and his central claim was "the existence of John the Baptist." They cited Josephus because they had almost no other choice. In my years of debate, I have seen sources abused by Christian apologists to a much greater extent. They have a name for it in the creation vs. evolution debates: quote mining. Quotes from evolutionary biologists and other scientists are taken from their original context to distort the meaning in favor of creationism. They trust that most of their readers will not check the original source and evaluate the intended meaning, and for good reason--their readers generally do no such thing. The behavior of Origen and Eusebius is somewhat analogous, though a little more forgivable--they don't imply that Josephus agrees with them on the details of John the Baptist. Your explanation is considerably more unlikely--we very much expect that an interpolation reflects the interpolator's interests, and the passage of Josephus plainly would not.
We don't have any of the original text of Josephus, the only ones that we have are the copies made by Christians. The issue of the significance of John's baptism is a murky one. Did John's baptism cleans the flesh or soul? Some jewish groups in the first century didn't even believe there was a soul to begin with. Michael Satlow states in a lecture that John baptised to consecrate the flesh because it was presupposed that the soul has already been cleansed by the individual's repentance. Then again in Act we read that; Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." If John was a fictional character developed in the second century or beyond that would explain a lot of things.
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