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Old 03-26-2010, 09:28 PM   #51
spamandham
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And, you made this seeming nonsense into a comparison for the evolution of the baptism ritual. But, neither ritual is especially nonsensical, and they each can be explained with a little intuition without anything extraordinary.
...only by starting with an assumption that the last supper story is essentially historical and that the Baptism by John are essentially historical. This is certainly *not* the simplest explanation. In the case of the last supper, it requires that a multiple implausibilities be historical in order for it to make sense that the Eucharist really originated in the last supper:

- Jesus knew this was going to be his last meal. Even if he figured the authorities would be coming for him soon, to anticipate that this really was the last meal is extraordinary. It's also extraordinary that Jesus ( a real Jesus ) would sense this and not attempt to flee. There certainly are people like that, but they are very uncommon.

- That Jesus, who plays the role of the Paschal lamb really was sacrificed on the day the Paschal lamb is sacrificed (1 in 365 chance even if the theology is claimed to have followed the history).

Without these implausibilities, there is no longer anything significant about the last supper that would have incited codifying it into a ritual. Even if Jesus really did die at passover, there is still nothing to incite memorializing this meal, unless he really uttered the words that you and I both agree he didn't utter.

The simpler approach, which involves nothing implausible at all and merely presumes that Christians had been engaged in ritual meals just like every religion of the day, is that Jesus' words "do this in memory of me" are there to provide an ad hoc explanation for a pre-existing ritual.
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Old 03-27-2010, 12:09 AM   #52
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And, you made this seeming nonsense into a comparison for the evolution of the baptism ritual. But, neither ritual is especially nonsensical, and they each can be explained with a little intuition without anything extraordinary.
...only by starting with an assumption that the last supper story is essentially historical and that the Baptism by John are essentially historical. This is certainly *not* the simplest explanation. In the case of the last supper, it requires that a multiple implausibilities be historical in order for it to make sense that the Eucharist really originated in the last supper:

- Jesus knew this was going to be his last meal. Even if he figured the authorities would be coming for him soon, to anticipate that this really was the last meal is extraordinary. It's also extraordinary that Jesus ( a real Jesus ) would sense this and not attempt to flee. There certainly are people like that, but they are very uncommon.

- That Jesus, who plays the role of the Paschal lamb really was sacrificed on the day the Paschal lamb is sacrificed (1 in 365 chance even if the theology is claimed to have followed the history).

Without these implausibilities, there is no longer anything significant about the last supper that would have incited codifying it into a ritual. Even if Jesus really did die at passover, there is still nothing to incite memorializing this meal, unless he really uttered the words that you and I both agree he didn't utter.

The simpler approach, which involves nothing implausible at all and merely presumes that Christians had been engaged in ritual meals just like every religion of the day, is that Jesus' words "do this in memory of me" are there to provide an ad hoc explanation for a pre-existing ritual.
I would like to clarify a minor misunderstanding. My model does not require that Jesus knew this was going to be his last meal. I am sorry that I gave the wrong impression, however it may have happened. Christians very likely misquoted Jesus according to what they wanted to believe.

The second implausibility is not a misunderstanding, but it seems to be not the best argument. If the theology followed the history, then there is not a 1 in 365 chance that a man theologically representing a sacrifice is executed. It is sort like shooting an arrow on the wall of a barn and then painting a target around it with the arrow at the bull's eye. If you still see it as a huge stroke of luck, then consider that there were many theological elements to the Passover holiday beside the sacrificial lamb, and cult leaders were far more likely to be executed on the Passover than any other time of year--Jerusalem was filled with celebrants from all over the region, and it was an opportune time to stir up a rebellion.

Your proposition is still a possibility, but it seems unnecessary to propose a source from a previous tradition if you don't have evidence or details of any sort, especially if the implausibilities are not really all that implausible. Even just a documented comparison for such a thing may give the proposition a little substance.

Please do not accuse me of assuming the conclusion unless that is clearly what I am doing. I see the accusation too often from people who are guilty of their own charge, such as Free Indeed in E/C. If you cannot imagine why I believe that historical elements can be discerned in the New Testament, then it is possibly because my assumptions (methodology) underlying my general study of history are different from your assumptions, not that my assumptions are the same as my conclusions. For example, mythicists and their allies tend to reject the criterion of dissimilarity as completely useless, and I do not.
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Old 03-27-2010, 09:44 AM   #53
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Why was Jesus' baptism by John only embarrasing to Christians after Mark was written?
It was embarrassing, I presume, ever since Christians regarded Jesus as the best person in the world (and the better of John the Baptist), which is reflected in the ideology of the gospel of Mark. But, the embarrassment becomes a motivation to adjust the history only after years of receiving ridicule from the Baptists and losing adherents to them.
But, when Jesus was about to be baptised by John, Jesus had not even started his ministry and there were NO so called "Christians" who believed in Jesus .

It is simply just not true at all that Jesus was regarded by Christians as the best person in the world when he was about to be baptised by John even in the NT.

And further, there is no historical source of antiquity, apologetic or not, that claimed the baptism by John of Jesus was embarrassing, in fact, in the story, it was the COMPLETE OPPOSITE even God was PLEASED about the events.

Matthew 3.16-17
Quote:

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well PLEASED.
It is complete propaganda and fallacy to claim the baptism by John was embarrassing when it is recorded that even God himself was PLEASED after the event.

The criterion of embarrassment is just simply an embarrassment that produces bogus results.
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Old 03-30-2010, 07:40 AM   #54
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Hi ApostateAbe,

I think that the explanation of quote mining is quite interesting. It is an alternative to forging. However, in this situation, we have to ask if Origen and Eusebius would both do the practice and come up with the exact same passage by coincidence. Would both of them have the same degree of certainty that nobody would check the passage of Josephus and find out that it contradicted them? Do we have other examples of quote mining by either Eusebius or Origen?

The explanation that Eusebius forged the passage in Josephus and forged the passage in Origen makes more sense to me. It requires that only one of the two be clever and dishonest. It does not require that two people separated by 75 years and brought up in different towns and entirely different circumstances be dishonest coincidentally in the same way about the same thing.

Examine the passages again:

Eusebius Demonstratio Evangelica, book 9 chapter 5:
Quote:
How, then, should they not have been naturally alarmed, when they saw a man, with the hair of a Nazarite of God, (c) and a divine face, suddenly appearing from the lonely wilderness clothed in a strange kind of dress, and after preaching to them going back again into the wilderness, without eating or drinking or mingling with the people, and must they not have suspected that he was more than human? For how could a man not need food? And so they understood him to be an angel, the very angel foretold by the prophet, in the words, "Behold, I send my angel before (d) thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee," a passage of Scripture which is quoted by the Evangelist Mark. And the Saviour also bears witness in the words, "John came neither eating nor drinking, and you say, He hath a devil." For it was just as natural that unbelievers, with minds hardened and shut against the truth, should thus blaspheme John because of his living as he did, as that those who were in accord with his noble character should reckon him an angel. Such, then, I understand to be the reasons why John was a marvel to those who saw him; and therefore they hastened from all sides to the cleansing of the soul, of which he preached.

Josephus, too, records his story in the Eighteenth Book (431) of the Jewish Archeology, writing as follows:

"Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army 1 came from God, and that very justly as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism. For so the washing would be (b) acceptable to Him."2


Origen, Anti Celsus 1:47
Quote:
I would like to say to Celsus, who represents the Jew as accepting somehow John as a Baptist, who baptized Jesus, that the existence of John the Baptist, baptizing for the remission of sins, is related by one who lived no great length of time after John and Jesus. For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite.
In the first text, Eusebius stops his quote with the idea that John baptized for the forgiveness of sin. He leaves out the next sentence in Josephus that explains "if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness."

So we have the contradiction in Josephus that he says that "so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him," and then immediately contradicts this idea by saying it was only a cleansing of the body. We may take it that both these ideas are two separate additions to the original text. Baptism has nothing to do with John being a good man and commanding Jews to exercise righteousness to one another. Josephus does not even stop to explain what baptism means.We may assume that Josephus would not bring up a ceremony that non-Christians would be baffled upon hearing the name with no explanation of the practice. The talk of baptism without a description or explanation of the meaning would only make sense to a Christian author talking to a Christian audience.

In the Origen text, the author is not insisting that Josephus merely proves the existence of John but again insisting that Josephus proves that John baptized and that he baptized for the purity of sins.

We can take a leap based on the logic of the situation.

What we have an original mention of someone named John in the original text of Josephus. What Eusebius apparently adds to the text is the idea that John baptized.

We can picture events this way. John was a famous and popular political opponent of Herod mentioned by Josephus. John was an historical figure.

1) Certain Christians, followers of John, adopted a baptism ceremony, probably long after John was dead.
2) This baptism ceremony was later associated with John.
3) The followers of Jesus make up the story that John baptized Jesus in order to associate Jesus and John.
4) Eusebius first defends the idea that John baptized for the purity of sins
5) Eusebius defends the idea that John baptized Jesus.
6) Realizing that Jesus was not a sinner, Eusebius denies in the Church History that the baptism was for the purity of sins.

We can reconstruct the original passage in Josephus this way: The red in parenthesis is what Eusebius adds to Josephus.

Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, [that was called the Baptist]: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, [and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness.] Now when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were very greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, (for they seemed ready to do any thing he should advise,) thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it would be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure to him

This explains the contradiction of Eusebius and Origen both saying that Josephus says that John baptized for the forgiveness of sins, when the text now says the opposite.

Warmly,

Philosopher Jay

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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
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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 03-31-2010, 10:31 PM   #55
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The second implausibility is not a misunderstanding, but it seems to be not the best argument. If the theology followed the history, then there is not a 1 in 365 chance that a man theologically representing a sacrifice is executed.
That's true, but there is an a priori chance of only 1/365 that it would happen on passover. That such theology exists nonetheless can best be explained by only 2 possibilities:

1. It really happened on passover (1 in 365 chance) and so the theology follows

2. It didn't really happen on passover (364/365 chance), but the theology sets that day

So it's up to us to determine whether or not Christianity would be inclined to interpret the death of Jesus as a sacrifice and invent a story about the passover sacrifice or not. Since sacrifice theology is the entire focus of Paul's gospel (which is said to be the earliest record of Christian thinking), it seems reasonable that this is the case. There is a very high *probability* (nor plausibility) that Jesus was not executed on Passover, and a plausible explanation for why Passover would be selected as the sacrifice day.

That being the case, there is not any historical reason to memorialize the last supper.

Quote:
and cult leaders were far more likely to be executed on the Passover than any other time of year--Jerusalem was filled with celebrants from all over the region, and it was an opportune time to stir up a rebellion.
I'm certain you can't support this conjecture, and common sense says that authorities would not try to piss massive crowds off by executing cult leaders on their high holy days.

Even in the gospel story, Pilate goes out of his way to avoid executing Jesus. I'm sure the real Pilate could have cared less about the injustice of executing an innocent man, but the story may reflect some reality of the day nonetheless - the reluctance of Roman rulers to bring trial during such a period.

Quote:
Your proposition is still a possibility, but it seems unnecessary to propose a source from a previous tradition if you don't have evidence or details of any sort, especially if the implausibilities are not really all that implausible.
1 in 365 *is* a priori implausible. Can we at least agree on that much?
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Old 04-01-2010, 01:01 PM   #56
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Default More Evidence for the Historical John

Hi Spamandham,

I agree that the specific date Passover, where Jesus can be portrayed as the sacrificial lamb, is a marker for the fictional nature of the story rather than a marker for its historical nature. In the same way, Ebenezer Scrooge's change of heart on Christmas marks Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" as a work of fiction.

The real question is why do we have the time of year of Jesus' death, but not the year in three of the four gospels.

In ancient histories, the year is always given for events by relating it to some easily known date of a ruler (year x of the rule of king y or when x and y were Roman counsels) or to some event (the x year after the y Olympics).

For stories which are non-historical, the year is not important. What may be important to the story is the time of year.

For example, at the beginning of the Alfred Hitchcock movie "Psycho," we are told the location, Phoenix, Arizona, the date, Friday, December the Eleventh, and the time, 2:43 P.M. What is left out of the story is the year. This is also done on television series such as "Dragnet" and "Law and Order" Why?

It is to help their audience get a sense of history, suspend their disbelief without actually telling them that what is being told is historical. So giving the time of year without the year works as a marker that the story could be true, and the audience should pretend that it is true, but the story really isn't.

It is only in the last Gospel, the Gospel of Luke (circa 200), apparently copying the gospel of Marcion that we get the year 29 as the date for the story.

Quote:
3.1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiber'i-us Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene. 3.2 in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness; 3.3 and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
The text seems intent on establishing a relationship between John and baptism and placing it into history.

Note also that Luke writes:
Quote:
4.1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit 4.2 for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil
Character A comes from the wilderness (desert) to the Jordan River,but it is character B who "returns from the Jordan River into the Desert. It may be deduced that Character "A" has simply been renamed as Character "B". So the original text is telling us about the historical John, which Josephus also does. This may be another indication that there was some historical material on John the prophet. He is being changed into the fictional character of Jesus by the pen of Luke.



Warmly,

Philosopher Jay

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Originally Posted by spamandham View Post
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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
The second implausibility is not a misunderstanding, but it seems to be not the best argument. If the theology followed the history, then there is not a 1 in 365 chance that a man theologically representing a sacrifice is executed.
That's true, but there is an a priori chance of only 1/365 that it would happen on passover. That such theology exists nonetheless can best be explained by only 2 possibilities:

1. It really happened on passover (1 in 365 chance) and so the theology follows

2. It didn't really happen on passover (364/365 chance), but the theology sets that day

So it's up to us to determine whether or not Christianity would be inclined to interpret the death of Jesus as a sacrifice and invent a story about the passover sacrifice or not. Since sacrifice theology is the entire focus of Paul's gospel (which is said to be the earliest record of Christian thinking), it seems reasonable that this is the case. There is a very high *probability* (nor plausibility) that Jesus was not executed on Passover, and a plausible explanation for why Passover would be selected as the sacrifice day.

That being the case, there is not any historical reason to memorialize the last supper.



I'm certain you can't support this conjecture, and common sense says that authorities would not try to piss massive crowds off by executing cult leaders on their high holy days.

Even in the gospel story, Pilate goes out of his way to avoid executing Jesus. I'm sure the real Pilate could have cared less about the injustice of executing an innocent man, but the story may reflect some reality of the day nonetheless - the reluctance of Roman rulers to bring trial during such a period.

Quote:
Your proposition is still a possibility, but it seems unnecessary to propose a source from a previous tradition if you don't have evidence or details of any sort, especially if the implausibilities are not really all that implausible.
1 in 365 *is* a priori implausible. Can we at least agree on that much?
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Old 04-01-2010, 06:04 PM   #57
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Hi Spamandham,

I agree that the specific date Passover, where Jesus can be portrayed as the sacrificial lamb, is a marker for the fictional nature of the story rather than a marker for its historical nature. In the same way, Ebenezer Scrooge's change of heart on Christmas marks Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" as a work of fiction.

The real question is why do we have the time of year of Jesus' death, but not the year in three of the four gospels.

In ancient histories, the year is always given for events by relating it to some easily known date of a ruler (year x of the rule of king y or when x and y were Roman counsels) or to some event (the x year after the y Olympics).

For stories which are non-historical, the year is not important. What may be important to the story is the time of year.

For example, at the beginning of the Alfred Hitchcock movie "Psycho," we are told the location, Phoenix, Arizona, the date, Friday, December the Eleventh, and the time, 2:43 P.M. What is left out of the story is the year. This is also done on television series such as "Dragnet" and "Law and Order" Why?

It is to help their audience get a sense of history, suspend their disbelief without actually telling them that what is being told is historical. So giving the time of year without the year works as a marker that the story could be true, and the audience should pretend that it is true, but the story really isn't.

It is only in the last Gospel, the Gospel of Luke (circa 200), apparently copying the gospel of Marcion that we get the year 29 as the date for the story.

Quote:
3.1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiber'i-us Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene. 3.2 in the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness; 3.3 and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Hi Philosopher Jay,
Thank you for your insight into this subject re dating. It is particularly troublesome that the supposed earlier gospels aren't as specific towards dating as the gluke (circa 200) was. We should learn from this and begin to specify dates of historical events in our era. For example, it is common to simply state 9/11 without specifying the year. Perhaps it's taken for granted that the year this event took place is common knowledge. In any event, two hundred years from now this event may begin to be referenced with the specific year. Fast forward two thousand years. In the year 4010 a historian may doubt the historicity of 9-11 due to the lack of specific dates in the earlier accounts. It is a glaring oversight that the gospel writers failed to be more specific in dating the events mentioned in the narratives.
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Old 04-01-2010, 06:52 PM   #58
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Hi Arnoldo,

In this case, we have to assume that the gospel writers were writing for an audience unfamiliar with the events. When people use the term 9/11 in contemporary discourse the great mass of people are aware that it happened in 2001. However most news articles now published relating to 9/11 now give the full date of September 11, 2001. For example, here

On the other hand, assuming the events were historical, why would anybody outside of Jerusalem have known when it took place or if it took place? There were no newspapers or mass media circa 30 C.E..

Michael Moore's film: Capitalism: a Love Story was released in 2009 and described well known events that took place in 2008. Yet, he names the year and month of each event in the movie. Almost any news report or historical report of an event that happened more than a year in the past is referenced by naming the year, or naming a date including the year.

Gospel writers could not have known where their writings would end up, so if they were relating true historical events, they would have included the year. The fact that they did not do so and nobody else mentioned a year until Marcion's gospel (post 150) indicates that the events related were not intended to be considered historical.

Warmly,

Philosopher Jay


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Originally Posted by PhilosopherJay View Post
Hi Spamandham,

I agree that the specific date Passover, where Jesus can be portrayed as the sacrificial lamb, is a marker for the fictional nature of the story rather than a marker for its historical nature. In the same way, Ebenezer Scrooge's change of heart on Christmas marks Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" as a work of fiction.

The real question is why do we have the time of year of Jesus' death, but not the year in three of the four gospels.

In ancient histories, the year is always given for events by relating it to some easily known date of a ruler (year x of the rule of king y or when x and y were Roman counsels) or to some event (the x year after the y Olympics).

For stories which are non-historical, the year is not important. What may be important to the story is the time of year.

For example, at the beginning of the Alfred Hitchcock movie "Psycho," we are told the location, Phoenix, Arizona, the date, Friday, December the Eleventh, and the time, 2:43 P.M. What is left out of the story is the year. This is also done on television series such as "Dragnet" and "Law and Order" Why?

It is to help their audience get a sense of history, suspend their disbelief without actually telling them that what is being told is historical. So giving the time of year without the year works as a marker that the story could be true, and the audience should pretend that it is true, but the story really isn't.

It is only in the last Gospel, the Gospel of Luke (circa 200), apparently copying the gospel of Marcion that we get the year 29 as the date for the story.


Hi Philosopher Jay,
Thank you for your insight into this subject re dating. It is particularly troublesome that the supposed earlier gospels aren't as specific towards dating as the gluke (circa 200) was. We should learn from this and begin to specify dates of historical events in our era. For example, it is common to simply state 9/11 without specifying the year. Perhaps it's taken for granted that the year this event took place is common knowledge. In any event, two hundred years from now this event may begin to be referenced with the specific year. Fast forward two thousand years. In the year 4010 a historian may doubt the historicity of 9-11 due to the lack of specific dates in the earlier accounts. It is a glaring oversight that the gospel writers failed to be more specific in dating the events mentioned in the narratives.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:47 PM   #59
spamandham
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Hi Spamandham,
I agree that the specific date Passover, where Jesus can be portrayed as the sacrificial lamb, is a marker for the fictional nature of the story rather than a marker for its historical nature. In the same way, Ebenezer Scrooge's change of heart on Christmas marks Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" as a work of fiction.

The real question is why do we have the time of year of Jesus' death, but not the year in three of the four gospels.
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.
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Old 04-03-2010, 11:15 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by PhilosopherJay View Post
Hi Spamandham,
I agree that the specific date Passover, where Jesus can be portrayed as the sacrificial lamb, is a marker for the fictional nature of the story rather than a marker for its historical nature. In the same way, Ebenezer Scrooge's change of heart on Christmas marks Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" as a work of fiction.

The real question is why do we have the time of year of Jesus' death, but not the year in three of the four gospels.
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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