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Old 04-04-2010, 07:44 AM   #61
PhilosopherJay
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Default John gets the biographical treatment, Jesus the Mythological

Hi aa5874,

Good point. This may be considered another point in favor of the viewpoint that John was an historical personage and Jesus a fictional character painted over the earlier glorified portrait of John. The fact that the Romans defeated the Christian followers of John in two bloody wars would explain why they went for the reboot.

Warmly,

Philosopher Jay


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Hmmm. This is a very interesting point I've never considered. I'll accept at face value, for now, that only 1 of the 4 gospels indicates the year. This does seem odd.
Actually gLuke is the only canonical gospel that has a year for the start of John the Baptist's ministry, the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius, Luke 3.1, NOT the year of death of Jesus.

No gospel has the year of the death of Jesus.
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Old 04-23-2010, 05:58 PM   #62
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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."
Or do a Google search for Rosario Dawson nude. Multiple attestations to her pulchritude.


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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



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Simplest? Seriously? Your model seems far more complex than it needs to be. If the passage in Josephus was interpolated by Eusebius, then we expect a consistency, not a difference, in the accounts of why John baptized. If you explain the citation of Origen as yet another interpolation, then you are doubling down on the unlikelihood. And then you think Eusebius changed his mind between interpolating Josephus and Origen. It is something like what happens when evidence mounts against any unlikely theory--ad hoc explanations upon ad hoc explanations.

It is all based on a somewhat unnecessary set of interpretations. Neither the citation in Origen nor the citation in Eusebius imply that Josephus believed that John baptized for the remission of sins. Origen and Eusebius each state their own beliefs about John, which are reflected in Mark 1:4, and then they bring up Josephus to corroborate. Of course, yes, they forget to mention that Josephus believed something a little different about John the Baptist--these people were Christian apologists, after all.

My model does not involve interpolations. Interpolations should be the explanation when they have evidence and it is probable, as they so often are. They should not be the explanation when a simpler and more intuitive explanation is easily available.
I think we tend to forget anything and everything by Eusebius is subject to scrutiny. The oldest copy of his writing in Greek is from the 10th century which may not be in great condition. From what I have read scholars depend upon translations from some Syriac translations of his works. And even those dates are only based upon the flimiest postulations of paleographers. Also there has been way, way too much time for Orthodoxy to make him say what they want to.

I think the easiest explanation about Eusebius' mistakes is that he simply forgot what he previously wrote. A more modern example can be found on the Tolkien newsgroups. Even with all the modern advantages and editors, his works went through several revisions with each new printing. I think The Hobbit alone went through four different transformations.

It is not that far fetched to believe Eusebius had similar problems. If I am not mistaken he oversaw a group of scribes. He could well have told one scribe to change this in Josephus and another scribe that in Origin, and years later said something different to other scribes especially those working on Eusebius' own works.

Maybe we will get lucky one day and find something approximating Eusebius' originals including things he wrote after he abandoned Orthodoxy under some lava buried town. [Hope springs eternal.]
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Old 07-11-2010, 02:04 PM   #63
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I am resurrecting this thread, because a discussion in another thread drifted into the subject of this thread.
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...
I would love it if we could all agree on what "ad hoc" means and we could iron out the methodology about it. Do you think I should start a new thread on that?
No, I don't think that would be helpful.

There is an established definition here: "It generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and which cannot be adapted to other purposes."

There is nothing ad hoc about Price's observation (which has been made by other scholars) that Mark does not appear to be embarrassed by John's baptism of Jesus. There is nothing there than cannot be applied to any claim of embarrassment - in fact, every claim of embarrassment should be evaluated as to whether the fact was embarrassing to the author.

That's why your usage appears to indicate that you don't actually know what the phrase means and that you are shooting from the hip yet again (and shooting blanks, not to carry that metaphor too far.)
Toto, I have been familiar with the phrase for ten years, and I incorporate the concept into discussion and debate almost every day. If you find my usage of the phrase disagreeable, then it may be because you have a different way of thinking about it than I do. When I disagree with you, I presume that we have a difference in definitions or in general outlook. When you disagree with me, then you presume that I am a moron. I am almost out of patience with that kind of nonsense, which is appropriate since I am almost out of time.

You linked to a Wikipedia page that defines the phrase on the most general level, to include such things as "ad hoc committees," when you could have instead used the more specific and more relevant definition of "ad hoc hypothesis," which would cover science and history, defined as "the addition of extraneous hypotheses to a theory to save it from being falsified." Better still, you could have taken a definition not from Wikipedia but from historiographical scholarship. In the Argument to the Best Explanation, "less ad hoc" is defined as "fewer new suppositions about the past which are not already implied to some extent by existing beliefs" (Justifying historical descriptions, CB McCullagh, 1984).

Now, if you still think that I am misapplying the phrase to the arguments of Robert Price, where he brings up, "cultic etiology to provide a paradigm for baptism" or "a credential, an authorization, even without an explicit endorsement of Jesus by John, in much the same way President Clinton cherished the videotape showing a youthful version of himself shaking hands with President Kennedy" and "There may well have been a period (or geographical areas) in which no Christians perceived the followers of John the Baptist as rivals," instead of explaining the gospel account of the baptism of Jesus as a historical baptism of Jesus, then I think you will have to explain how those things are not "new suppositions." I don't think you can seriously do that, so I think the best thing for you to do is to accept that they really are ad hoc claims and they still count as effective refutations of the established historicist explanation. Sometimes, ad hoc claims are OK, because they are better than all competing explanations.
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Old 07-11-2010, 02:19 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
.... If you find my usage of the phrase disagreeable, then it may be because you have a different way of thinking about it than I do. When I disagree with you, I presume that we have a difference in definitions or in general outlook.
That is a really, really bad way to approach this debate. We are both supposedly approaching this from a scientific, rational point of view.

Quote:
When you disagree with me, then you presume that I am a moron. I am almost out of patience with that kind of nonsense, which is appropriate since I am almost out of time.
When I disagree with you, I try to point out why - some facts or argument that may be inconsistent with your position. I wish you would do the same instead of engaging in insults and attempts to read others' minds.

Quote:
...

Now, if you still think that I am misapplying the phrase to the arguments of Robert Price, where he brings up, "cultic etiology to provide a paradigm for baptism" or "a credential, an authorization, even without an explicit endorsement of Jesus by John, in much the same way President Clinton cherished the videotape showing a youthful version of himself shaking hands with President Kennedy" and "There may well have been a period (or geographical areas) in which no Christians perceived the followers of John the Baptist as rivals," instead of explaining the gospel account of the baptism of Jesus as a historical baptism of Jesus, then I think you will have to explain how those things are not "new suppositions." I don't think you can seriously do that, so I think the best thing for you to do is to accept that they really are ad hoc claims and they still count as effective refutations of the established historicist explanation. Sometimes, ad hoc claims are OK, because they are better than all competing explanations.
You specifically described Robert Price's observation that the Baptism of Jesus was not embarrassing as ad hoc, and that is what I objected to. The whole basis of the historicists' belief in the reliability of the baptism is based on this idea of "embarrassment." To counter this, Price need only show that it is not embarrassing and that there are alternative explanations that are at least as probable. It's all about probability, right?

Other statements of Robert Price might fit the definition of ad hoc, as could much of mainstream Biblical scholarship. But not this argument on the historicity of the baptism of Jesus.
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Old 07-11-2010, 02:46 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
.... If you find my usage of the phrase disagreeable, then it may be because you have a different way of thinking about it than I do. When I disagree with you, I presume that we have a difference in definitions or in general outlook.
That is a really, really bad way to approach this debate. We are both supposedly approaching this from a scientific, rational point of view.
OK, this is a debate that will benefit both of us. We are both ideally approaching the historical debates from a scientific, rational point of view. Does it really follow that it is a really, really bad way to approach the debate to presume that we have mere differences in outlook or in definitions if we disagree with each other? If we had the same way of thinking about this stuff, if we had the same fundamental methodologies and philosophies, like the critical scholars in New Testament studies, then I would say that the answer is yes. But, between you and me, there seems to be some very relevant differences in ways of thought, and those differences are apparent almost any time we cross each other. For example, you think that a sufficient level of uncertainty about the explanations for the evidence justifies a refusal to form conclusions. To you, that seems common and completely justified. But, I don't. I believe that there is no field of intellectual inquiry, be it history or any other field, where such a paradigm is accepted. It is easy to see how such a difference can lead us to have differences in opinion about what counts as "ad hoc" and what doesn't. To you, maybe the explanations that I would view as "ad hoc" are to you evidence of the uncertainty of any conclusion about the history of early Christianity.

It turns out, though, in this topic of discussion, that it really seems to be about a miscommunication, and I'll explain.
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Originally Posted by Toto View Post
When I disagree with you, I try to point out why - some facts or argument that may be inconsistent with your position. I wish you would do the same instead of engaging in insults and attempts to read others' minds.

Quote:
...

Now, if you still think that I am misapplying the phrase to the arguments of Robert Price, where he brings up, "cultic etiology to provide a paradigm for baptism" or "a credential, an authorization, even without an explicit endorsement of Jesus by John, in much the same way President Clinton cherished the videotape showing a youthful version of himself shaking hands with President Kennedy" and "There may well have been a period (or geographical areas) in which no Christians perceived the followers of John the Baptist as rivals," instead of explaining the gospel account of the baptism of Jesus as a historical baptism of Jesus, then I think you will have to explain how those things are not "new suppositions." I don't think you can seriously do that, so I think the best thing for you to do is to accept that they really are ad hoc claims and they still count as effective refutations of the established historicist explanation. Sometimes, ad hoc claims are OK, because they are better than all competing explanations.
You specifically described Robert Price's observation that the Baptism of Jesus was not embarrassing as ad hoc, and that is what I objected to. The whole basis of the historicists' belief in the reliability of the baptism is based on this idea of "embarrassment." To counter this, Price need only show that it is not embarrassing and that there are alternative explanations that are at least as probable. It's all about probability, right?

Other statements of Robert Price might fit the definition of ad hoc, as could much of mainstream Biblical scholarship. But not this argument on the historicity of the baptism of Jesus.
I did not specifically describe Robert Price's observation that the baptism of Jesus was not embarrassing as ad hoc, at least that is not what I intended. To me, an ad hoc claim is not a denial of a competing explanation, but it is in part a positive explanation intended to replace a competing explanation. Robert Price gave three such explanations for why the gospels claim that Jesus was baptized, and those explanations are what I had in mind when I said that Robert Price apparently thinks that "any set of ad hoc explanations pulled out of anyone's ass counts as 'easily refuted.'"

Instead of thinking that I had no idea what "ad hoc" means, you could have just considered that either I haven't made myself entirely clear (my fault), you just have not understood me properly (your fault), or a balance of the two. Isn't such an explanation better than thinking I am an idiot? Have I really left the impression with you that I am some kind of dolt? If I have, then I have little idea of what led you to that impression, but I would understand how it make you think that my lack of intelligence is a better explanation than anything else.
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Old 07-11-2010, 04:14 PM   #66
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... But, between you and me, there seems to be some very relevant differences in ways of thought, and those differences are apparent almost any time we cross each other. For example, you think that a sufficient level of uncertainty about the explanations for the evidence justifies a refusal to form conclusions. To you, that seems common and completely justified. But, I don't. I believe that there is no field of intellectual inquiry, be it history or any other field, where such a paradigm is accepted. ....
First of all, that is not what paradigm means.

And that is the normal practice in every scientific field of endeavor - if you don't have any evidence, you can't reach a conclusion. If you have some, ambiguous evidence, you might reach a tentative conclusion, but there is no call to ridicule those who point out the lack of sufficient evidence, as you do continually.

Quote:
..

I did not specifically describe Robert Price's observation that the baptism of Jesus was not embarrassing as ad hoc, at least that is not what I intended.
This is a copy and paste from your post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ApostateAbe
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert M Price
... Such reasoning is understandable, but it is also easily refuted, as long as one recalls that what offended one generation did not offend another. Mark seemingly had little enough trouble with a repenting Jesus. He appears not to have regarded himself "stuck" with the notion. Anyone who saw nothing amiss in it could have made it up if there were something useful in the story and there was. As some have suggested, the story may simply have originated as a cultic etiology to provide a paradigm for baptism: "Are you able to be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?"
Yeah, Price apparently thinks that any set of ad hoc explanations pulled out of anyone's ass counts as "easily refuted," I guess, because, yeah, it really is easy to do.
I can't see any other way of reading this. You were mocking Price's point that the baptism was not embarrassing to Mark. Apologists argue that Mark could not have just made this up because it was embarrassing to have Jesus baptised by John, making him subordinate, or that it was embarrassing because Jesus was sinless. Price responds that it was not embarrassing, and give a plausible reason for Mark to have invented the scene.

The historicist case is based on the lack of any other plausible reading of the text. So any plausible reason defeats the claim that the text must be historical.

Quote:
To me, an ad hoc claim is not a denial of a competing explanation, but it is in part a positive explanation intended to replace a competing explanation.
I can't make any sense of this. You seem to assume that the historicist case is so well established that every criticism has to overcome some burden of proof. But Price is not making a case for mythicism in this book. He is pointing out that the historicist case is built on bad logic.

Quote:
Robert Price gave three such explanations for why the gospels claim that Jesus was baptized, and those explanations are what I had in mind when I said that Robert Price apparently thinks that "any set of ad hoc explanations pulled out of anyone's ass counts as 'easily refuted.'"
But somehow you skipped over the basic point about whether it was embarrassing to start off with.

Quote:
Instead of thinking that I had no idea what "ad hoc" means, you could have just considered that either I haven't made myself entirely clear (my fault), you just have not understood me properly (your fault), or a balance of the two. Isn't such an explanation better than thinking I am an idiot? Have I really left the impression with you that I am some kind of dolt? If I have, then I have little idea of what led you to that impression, but I would understand how it make you think that my lack of intelligence is a better explanation than anything else.
You were the one who proposed starting a thread on the meaning of ad hoc. I merely pointed out that there is no great controversy over what it means.

I don't think you are a dolt. But it is clear that you have formed an abnormal attachment to a badly argued case for the historical Jesus, so much that you seem to be unable to see its problems.

Part of your problem is that you started off thinking that the case for a mythical Jesus was somehow the same as Creationism. I don't know if you have gotten beyond that error.
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