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Old 06-09-2013, 05:39 PM   #1
ApostateAbe
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Default Abe's Case for the Historical Jesus (Part 3: Baptism by John)

Previous thread: Abe's Case for the Historical Jesus (Part 2: Nazareth)

Baptism by John

The four gospels each tell a story of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (JtB), but each with their own unique spin. From earliest to latest:
  • In the Gospel of Mark, JtB portrays himself as the predecessor to Jesus and as someone who is "not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals." JtB baptizes Jesus, and just then the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus, and a voice came from heaven saying, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."
  • The same spin is contained in the Gospel of Matthew, but with something extra: JtB initially objects to baptizing Jesus, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replies, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness."
  • In the Gospel of Luke, the births of both JtB and Jesus are foretold by angels, the Archangel Gabriel for Jesus and a lesser angel for JtB. When the pregnant mother of Jesus visits the pregnant mother of JtB, JtB leaps in the womb, which is taken as a sign with the exclamation, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." After the birth of JtB, the father prophesies that JtB "will go before the Lord to prepare his ways." In a remarkable shift of narrative, JtB does not actually seem to baptize Jesus in this gospel. JtB first goes to prison. Then Jesus is baptized. The miraculous events associated with the baptism per Mark is containted in Luke, but we have no idea who the baptizer was.
  • The Gospel of John's account is strangest of all. John praises Jesus with all the humility found in the synoptic gospels, but the baptism is omitted! Instead, only the events closely associated with the baptism are related by JtB.
    ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit." And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’
    No baptism!
So how do we explain these things? For almost all scholars, the best explanation is plain: Jesus was a follower of JtB. The cult of JtB is actually attested by Josephus (Jewish Antiqities 18.5.2), having a doctrine of baptism at odds with Christianity ("...not in order to the putting away of some sins, but for the purification of the body..."). The full explanation is that Jesus really was baptized by JtB, it was a well-known fact that Christians found embarrassing because they competed with the cult of JtB, so each gospel spun it in their own favor, each in their own unique way, always making sure that JtB was a great but secondary figure. This hypothesis is reinforced by a quote of Jesus in Matthew, saying, "...among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist...", something a cult follower would say of the cult leader.

How do mythicists explain this? The spin and embarrassment of the gospels (especially the later gospels) is much too plain to ignore, so they may grant at least the point that Christians were embarrassed by the belief in the baptism. It is still possible that it is a mere myth that somehow came about and it became embarrassing only later. It is not so often that mere myths become embarrassing to the cult, however. Rather, it is the rule for historical realities. No matter. Robert Price floats the idea that the character of JtB could have been inspired by the Semitic fish god Dagon (as does Arthur Drews), and possibly the baptism was inspired by Zoroaster immersing himself in water and being met by an archangel. The possibilities are endless, and Robert Price is indiscriminate with them.

Next thread: Abe's Case for the Historical Jesus (Part 4: Doomsday Prophecies)
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Old 06-09-2013, 06:47 PM   #2
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So how do we explain these things?
In every fish story, the fish always gets bigger...not smaller.
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:18 PM   #3
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So how do we explain these things? For almost all scholars, the best explanation is plain: Jesus was a follower of JtB.
JW:
Is your primary argument here an Argument from Authority?


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Old 06-09-2013, 07:46 PM   #4
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So how do we explain these things? For almost all scholars, the best explanation is plain: Jesus was a follower of JtB.
JW:
Is your primary argument here an Argument from Authority?


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No. Sorry, why would you think that?
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Old 06-09-2013, 08:14 PM   #5
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So how do we explain these things? For almost all scholars, the best explanation is plain: Jesus was a follower of JtB.
JW:
Is your primary argument here an Argument from Authority?


Joseph

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If it was, it would have sounded hypothetically like this.

"It is the consensus of modern scholarships that it is "fact:" that John baptized Jesus"

Not a explanation.
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Old 06-09-2013, 08:19 PM   #6
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having a doctrine of baptism at odds with Christianity)

I don't think we really know enough about JtB doctrine to state this with certainty.

Where do these sources come from? exactly, a different culture far removed from the actual events who had their own theological motive and could not play John as a equal teacher, could they?


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they competed with the cult of JtB


Are you that sure Jesus just didn't take over Johns work in a fashion that would not result in his head being cut off?
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:42 PM   #7
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JW:
Is your primary argument here an Argument from Authority?


Joseph

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No. Sorry, why would you think that?
JW:
Authority is the only category of External Evidence you have referenced. If it is not your primary source of evidence than Internal Evidence must be. Your Argument from Embarrassment is a Literary Criticism argument. If you are looking at Literary Criticism than you also have to look for evidence of fiction (which has been explained to you in detail many times here). The extent of the Impossible/Improbable specifically in the Baptism story and in "Mark" in general is exponentially better evidence for fiction than your Argument from Embarrassment. So only considering Literary Criticism, the better explanation is fiction. You need the supposed External evidence to try and help you here.

You keep trying to proof-text HJ despite the types of corrections above. You have to look at ALL categories of evidence for AND against history. You have been shown this so many times that I have to wonder if either you do not understand what a proper Methodology would be or are incapable of doing so. Instead of trying to give answers and arguments you should be giving questions and researching what a good methodology would be.

If we do not know the Provenance of "Mark", who wrote it, why was it written, when was it written, etc., Literary Criticism has relatively little weight, exponentially so, with all the Impossible/Improbable. You also can not ignore that "Mark" is anti-historical witness. History may still be a better explanation than fiction but that conclusion would be so weak that it may be misleading to make it. Why not just say that the evidence is so weak, it is uncertain if it was history? You seem to be afraid that that is evidence for MJ. It's not, that would still have to be proven.


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Old 06-09-2013, 09:46 PM   #8
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No. Sorry, why would you think that?
JW:
Authority is the only category of External Evidence you have referenced. If it is not your primary source of evidence than Internal Evidence must be. Your Argument from Embarrassment is a Literary Criticism argument. If you are looking at Literary Criticism than you also have to look for evidence of fiction (which has been explained to you in detail many times here). The extent of the Impossible/Improbable specifically in the Baptism story and in "Mark" in general is exponentially better evidence for fiction than your Argument from Embarrassment. So only considering Literary Criticism, the better explanation is fiction. You need the supposed External evidence to try and help you here.

You keep trying to proof-text HJ despite the types of corrections above. You have to look at ALL categories of evidence for AND against history. You have been shown this so many times that I have to wonder if either you do not understand what a proper Methodology would be or are incapable of doing so. Instead of trying to give answers and arguments you should be giving questions and researching what a good methodology would be.

If we do not know the Provenance of "Mark", who wrote it, why was it written, when was it written, etc., Literary Criticism has relatively little weight, exponentially so, with all the Impossible/Improbable. You also can not ignore that "Mark" is anti-historical witness. History may still be a better explanation than fiction but that conclusion would be so weak that it may be misleading to make it. Why not just say that the evidence is so weak, it is uncertain if it was history? You seem to be afraid that that is evidence for MJ. It's not, that would still have to be proven.


Joseph


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At least he is making a stand and forming his own hypothesis <edit>


Its where my hat goes to Earl for being one of the few who provides a complete replacement hypothesis. Even though I don't agree with him, I respect him.
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:50 PM   #9
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but its not a hypothesis - its a mix of poorly related premises. Not even a decent formal argument
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:52 PM   #10
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There is no claim whatsoever in any Gospel in the Canon that the baptism story is an historical account or was intended to be historical.

It is already known that parts of the baptism story must be fiction.

The Holy Ghost bird and the voice from heaven were made up.

Now, without the Holy Ghost bird and the voice from heaven the baptism would not make much sense.

There is no corroboration of the supposed baptism without the Ghost bird and Heaven's Voice.
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