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Old 06-04-2013, 03:01 PM   #111
stephan huller
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Most of those who have "no problem with the state of the evidence" have faith-driven agendas.
That's absolute nonsense. My parents were/are athiests and have no doubts that Christianity existed from the time of Jesus. I think most athiests believe that. I think most sensible non-agenda driven people accept the received understanding of Christianity developing from the first century. Pure nonsense.

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The state of the evidence is really bad, as normative scholar Bart Ehrman showed in his books on Christian fraud.
You are confounding two different questions - one of textual manipulation and the other of whether there was such a thing as Christianity before Nicaea. Only a deranged lunatic or a partisan could even entertain the idea of a massive conspiracy accounting for the evidence for Christianity before Nicaea.

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Yes Christianity existed Before Constantine, but how much more than that can we say with certainty?
Read a book on the subject. It will be surprisingly refreshing I hope for you to stop reinforcing your pre-existent notions of how 'things are supposed to be.' Lots and lots of evidence, mostly textually based.

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As the link I gave earlier on Christ the Magician explained, Christians mostly have a low level of interest in evidence, preferring instead to believe conventional fantasies.
Whereas you prefer unconventional fantasies.

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The evidence shows the reality is very different from the myths such as tossing to the lions, burning Rome, founded by Jesus, Exodus, flood, Eden, etc.
You attacking myths? My God, this is getting interesting. I will remind you about this post. Christianity's problem is that it was too accepting of myths. I can't wait to hear about the 'factual basis' to paganism and astro-theology in an upcoming thread.

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Your "Normative" Christian scholarship is precisely the problem,
Yes it finds your guru silly and always will.

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in that theology is an academic laughing stock, applying standards that are basically rejected by modern reason but are driven by ignorant fervor from the pews
You have obviously not read a lot of RECENT studies of theology. Stephen Carlson who used to post here now works at Uppsala University, Department of Theology. You can accuse him of many things being 'driven by ignorant fervor from the pews' is not one of them. Again, read more, talk less.

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the same fervor that enabled the orthodox to defeat the Gnostics and held back the rise of science.
Oh come on. Isn't this a little juvenile? All the Church did was bad things. All the Church did was to hold back the rise of science. I have been researching the survival of books and manuscripts and it can be equally well argued that the monasteries helped preserve the very books which used to found the universities in Italy and elsewhere to start the Renaissance. Attacking religion for the host of ills that afflict society is so stale. We live in a post-modern world now. The most we can do is attack Christianity for past sins. The dominion over the world has been handed to corporate interests and lobbyists. Are things really getting better? Is there any better chance of things improving? Maybe humanity is the real problem.

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Regarding Stephan's colourful language, his latest friendly phrases "execrable rabble", "hatred or hostility to Christianity" and "Mental illness" should have no place in this discussion.
I stand by my identification of hostility to Christianity as the motivation of most of the people who participate in this forum. As a non-Christian I essentially feel it is a dying religion, a relic from the past for which I have - as a complete outsider - some nostalgia.

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His capacity to distort reaches near-evangelical levels, as for example with his misuse of my comment about "surviving direct" evidence.
You are your own worst enemy. That is undoubtedly because you can't say what your real purpose is in these discussions - i.e. recruiting new members for your cult.

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My point was that the surviving early evidence is all indirect, since the early pious could not be bothered preserving anything from their alleged origins.
I don't even understand what you are saying. We have 'the pious' to blame from not preserving any evidence about the 'alleged origins' of Christianity. Are you saying that Christianity has no origins? Or are you accusing the pious of assisting in 'making up Christianity' a la mountainman? Maybe there is something in the drinking water in Australia.

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The archaeological story is, shall we say, incomplete, as in the non-existence of Nazareth and the Exodus. A hermeneutic of suspicion is fully justified regarding early Christian evidence.
Suspicion that Christianity never existed before the fourth century? Sure, that is completely justified. I can't wait hear your further discussion of this silly premise ...
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Old 06-04-2013, 03:27 PM   #112
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Originally Posted by Jeffrey Gibson View Post
Thanks for clarifying.

Jeffrey
Had you asked for clarification in a civil, adult manner, Jeffery, I would gladly have provided it. I claimed no authority in my post which any reasonable person would have seen as only an observation.
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Old 06-04-2013, 03:41 PM   #113
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Originally Posted by Tristan Scott View Post
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Originally Posted by Jeffrey Gibson View Post
Thanks for clarifying.

Jeffrey
Had you asked for clarification in a civil, adult manner, Jeffery, I would gladly have provided it.
Of course you would have!

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I claimed no authority in my post which any reasonable person would have seen as only an observation.
So, leaving aside the slight that I'm not a reasonable person, isn't this another admission that there was nothing to provide?

Jeffrey
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:11 PM   #114
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Originally Posted by Jeffrey Gibson View Post
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Originally Posted by Tristan Scott View Post

Had you asked for clarification in a civil, adult manner, Jeffery, I would gladly have provided it.
Of course you would have!

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I claimed no authority in my post which any reasonable person would have seen as only an observation.
So, leaving aside the slight that I'm not a reasonable person, isn't this another admission that there was nothing to provide?

Jeffrey
So let me clarify. I made an observation that religions are used by states as a means of controlling their populations, including their armies, which I said that Constantine PROBABLY did early on. I was referring to his reported use of Christian imagery in his battle for the control of Rome. I'm not sure which book I read that in, I've read a lot of books, just not any that deal solely with Constantine.

From this you have decided to wage some kind of personal war against me claiming I don't know what I'm talking about, etc. The truth is, I probably don't. I've already said I'm no authority and there is nothing in my post that would leave any reasonable person to believe that I thought I was. If you disagree that Constantine saw Christianity as a control tool, say so, but I will continue to post my observations, and when I post an authoritive one I'll give referrences.

The only question I can see here is WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM Jeffery?
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:35 PM   #115
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Originally Posted by Tristan Scott View Post
.

[you claimed] I don't know what I'm talking about, etc. The truth is, I probably don't.
Thanks! I'll remember that next time you make global claims about early Christianity.

Jeffrey
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Old 06-04-2013, 04:44 PM   #116
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I agree with these points -
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Originally Posted by Robert Tulip View Post
... Yes Christianity existed Before Constantine, but how much more than that can we say with certainty?

.... The evidence shows the reality is very different from the myths such as tossing to the lions, burning Rome, founded by Jesus, Exodus, flood, Eden, etc.

... theology is an academic laughing stock, applying standards that are basically rejected by modern reason but are driven by ignorant fervor from the pews - the same fervor that enabled the orthodox to defeat the Gnostics and held back the rise of science.

... the surviving early evidence is all indirect, since the early pious could not be bothered preserving anything from their alleged origins. The archaeological story is, shall we say, incomplete, as in the non-existence of Nazareth and the Exodus. A hermeneutic of suspicion is fully justified regarding early Christian evidence.
Key issues are the state and nature of early Christianity: eg. how much as it was developing and changing in conjunction with the Gnostics
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:32 PM   #117
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Originally Posted by spin
It's on the other side of the river. On a campaign to attack Sassanid Persia you want to have a touristic visit to a ruined city. You must be joking.

So would you like to propose that specifically christian soldiers crossed the river set the paste against the wall of the particular building, let it dry, applied the painting and then just left them there. As I said, you must be joking.
1. Your comment is not unreasonable.
2. You may be ABSOLUTELY correct, and I may be completely wrong.
3. I rely not upon erudition, but upon reading other's ideas, opinions, and data. I have no facility, nor experience, myself, with creative or original research.
4. Here's what these guys WROTE; (not me, genuine "scholars")

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Julian decided to turn south into Babylonia and proceeded along the Euphrates, coming to the fortress of Cercusium at the junction of the Abora and Euphrates Rivers around the first of April,[[104]] and from there he took his army west to a region called Zaitha[[105]] near the abandoned town of Dura where they visited the tomb of the emperor Gordian which was in the area. On April 7 he set out from there into the heart of Babylonia and towards Assyria
Let's review.

Julian arrives at junction of Rivers Euphrates and Khabur. Contrary to what spin had written, these two scholars state in black and white, that Julian turned SOUTH, not East, at this point in time, "and proceeded along the Euphrates", and from there, where did Julian go next?

WEST, not east, as spin had written.

Ok, so maybe these two "scholars" are WRONG. could be, of course.
But, shouldn't spin offer a quote from his source, rather than simply asserting that I err?

I showed you mine. Where's yours?

Did Julian travel WEST from the Euphrates to reach Gordian's cenotaph? Where is, or was, the cenotaph located, with respect to Dura Europos? Yes, close, but close on the east bank, or close on the west bank? From a psychological point of view, does it make sense, for a military commander to visit a cenotaph of a relatively unimportant teenage emperor, AND NOT visit (pay his respects to) the last resting place of one of Rome's most famous Legions, buried in Dura Europos? Hundreds of soldiers, including some brave officers, died there, and Julian is going to ignore their sacrifice on the eve of a bloody battle to be?

I am puzzled, here: What kind of message would that convey to the commanders of Julian's army? I simply cannot imagine Julian ignoring Dura. Where is the evidence that he did NOT visit Dura? The fact that a particular reference does not state in black and white, that Julian visited Dura for an afternoon, will prove a simple omission, not a crime against humanity.

Even today, 150 years later, descendants of civil war veterans honor their distant relatives, by visiting the actual battle sites from the USA civil war, where those relatives lost their lives.

YES, to answer spin's question. ABSOLUTELY. No doubt in my mind, at all, that several of the Roman soldiers, 40 years after Constantine proclaimed Christianity the national religion, did in fact, accept the "laws" of Christian praxis of that era. One of those diktates, proselytizing, may be seen more clearly by studying the Mormons, all of whom are instructed to go forth and spread the good word. According to spin, Christianity was already thriving in second century, therefore, one could conclude that knowledge of the "house church" in Dura Europos WAS WELL KNOWN to all Christians in the middle of the third century. Inside this famous church were paintings. Surely this would have been known to Christians of that era. For them, it would have been a holy mission, to recover the art work.

So, a couple, or ten or fifty soldiers, waiting around for Julian to give the marching orders, with a week of free time on their hands, commence digging out the sand that had been placed there by the defenders, plus one century worth of wind deposition. They find the Jewish synagogue, with its lovely paintings, and attempt something similar, albeit a tad more amateurish in a nearby dwelling.

One of them, leaves a graffito on the wall, "Procope was here", if memory serves me well.

That's not the kind of message one leaves behind, facing imminent death at the hands of the enemy. It certainly is not the kind of message which the owner's of the house would have tolerated in 350 CE. But, one hundred years later, that is precisely the kind of message one would leave, "passing through" the ghost town.

The "christian" paintings are clumsy, inept, and HURRIED. Why were they painted in a rush? Those soldiers had a war to fight, surely, such clumsiness would not have been acceptable, had the paintings been composed five years earlier, for example, before the invasion/destruction of the fortress. Back then, say, 250 ce, six years before the destruction, the painter could have diligently, carefully, and painstakingly revised all the compositions, to make them not simply a representation of the new testament, but also attractive works of art, as we observe in the paintings of the Synagogue, "a block away".

I propose that we have no firm evidence supporting spin's assertion that Dura Europos lay undisturbed for 1700 years.

I have no evidence, either. What I do have, is logic, psychology, and military history. It may be that I err. Maybe none of Julian's soldiers encountered Dura Europos, or, if they did, maybe none of them touched a shovel. I guess I just have trouble understanding why so many folks in Europe and USA/Canada visit Normandy cemetary every year.
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Old 06-04-2013, 05:45 PM   #118
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Originally Posted by MrMacSon View Post
I agree with these points -
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Tulip View Post
... Yes Christianity existed Before Constantine, but how much more than that can we say with certainty?

.... The evidence shows the reality is very different from the myths such as tossing to the lions, burning Rome, founded by Jesus, Exodus, flood, Eden, etc.

... theology is an academic laughing stock, applying standards that are basically rejected by modern reason but are driven by ignorant fervor from the pews - the same fervor that enabled the orthodox to defeat the Gnostics and held back the rise of science.

... the surviving early evidence is all indirect, since the early pious could not be bothered preserving anything from their alleged origins. The archaeological story is, shall we say, incomplete, as in the non-existence of Nazareth and the Exodus. A hermeneutic of suspicion is fully justified regarding early Christian evidence.
Key issues are the state and nature of early Christianity: eg. how much as it was developing and changing in conjunction with the Gnostics
We can only deal with the existing evidence and develop theories with what is available.

The present available evidence support a 2nd century start for the Jesus story and cult.

We have the DSS--the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius--there is simply no evidence of characters called Jesus Christ, Peter or Paul or any Jew who started a new religion before c 70 CE.

Josephus and Philo wrote about madmen, loners, like Carabbas and Jesus son of Ananus yet appear to have forgotten about the Jesus cult supposedly with THOUSANDS of followers and Paul with Churches "all over the Roman Empire"

It is in the 2nd century that there are arguments against the Jesus stories by non-apologetics.

It was at least 120 years after the time of Pilate that we see arguments between apologetics themselves arguing about the nature of Jesus.

It is in the late 2nd century, at least 120 years after Pilate, that Apologetics argued among themselves whether Jesus had Flesh.

The arguments about the nature of Jesus most likely started very close to the time when the Jesus story was known.

See "On the Flesh of Christ" attributed to Tertullian.
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Old 06-04-2013, 07:03 PM   #119
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Originally Posted by avi View Post
Here's what these guys WROTE; (not me, genuine "scholars")
The guidelines are clear about citing material: you need to "Cite exact references for the materials you give as evidence, so that readers can consult the material themselves."

I haven't got a clue where you got this material or who "these guys" are. That's shocking. You may as well not have referred to them at all for the lack of utility you have provided.

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Originally Posted by avi View Post
Quote:
Julian decided to turn south into Babylonia and proceeded along the Euphrates, coming to the fortress of Cercusium at the junction of the Abora and Euphrates Rivers around the first of April,[[104]] and from there he took his army west to a region called Zaitha[[105]] near the abandoned town of Dura where they visited the tomb of the emperor Gordian which was in the area. On April 7 he set out from there into the heart of Babylonia and towards Assyria
Let's review.

Julian arrives at junction of Rivers Euphrates and Khabur. Contrary to what spin had written, these two scholars state in black and white, that Julian turned SOUTH, not East, at this point in time, "and proceeded along the Euphrates", and from there, where did Julian go next?

WEST, not east, as spin had written.
I'm sorry, but why do you need to outright lie? Contrary to what you have written, I said nothing of the sort that you claim.

Quote:
Originally Posted by avi View Post
Ok, so maybe these two "scholars" are WRONG. could be, of course.
But, shouldn't spin offer a quote from his source, rather than simply asserting that I err?

I showed you mine. Where's yours?
What have you shown, beside obvious falsehood in your misrepresentation of me?

Here is G.W. Bowersock (Julian the Apostate, Harvard 1978, pp.110f) on Julian's movements:
Once the army had crossed the Khabur and left Roman territory behind them, Julian had the bridge removed so that no one would think of turning back.

Another omen portended disaster. The corpse of a provisions officer, who had been condemned by Salutius the prefect and executed, was discovered, perhaps washed up on the shore of the Euphrates. The army next passed the tomb of Gordian III who || had perished on his campaign against the Persians, and it then passed opposite the deserted city of Dura-Europos, high above the river on its west bank.
Quote:
Originally Posted by avi View Post
Did Julian travel WEST from the Euphrates to reach Gordian's cenotaph? Where is, or was, the cenotaph located, with respect to Dura Europos? Yes, close, but close on the east bank, or close on the west bank?
See Bowersock above for the cenotaph. Here's Dodgeon and Lieu's note (The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars, Routledge 1991, p.303):
According to the evidence of Ammianus and Zosimus, the monument would have been situated about twenty miles south of Circesium. The location of this monument in Persian-held territory may be significant as it might well have marked the actual place of his death and argues against the Persian claim that Gordian died in battle at Meshike. This was not the actual grave of Gordian, as his remains were taken to Rome
Incidentally, in Dodgeon and Lieu's summary of Julian's movements in the campaign, they say (p.202): The army passed the deserted city of Dura (Europos) on the opposite bank on 6 April. Within five days further down the river, "Anatha was captured on 11 April after a show of strength." This is over 50 miles further downstream.

There is nothing below that needs a response. There is no evidence in it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by avi View Post
From a psychological point of view, does it make sense, for a military commander to visit a cenotaph of a relatively unimportant teenage emperor, AND NOT visit (pay his respects to) the last resting place of one of Rome's most famous Legions, buried in Dura Europos? Hundreds of soldiers, including some brave officers, died there, and Julian is going to ignore their sacrifice on the eve of a bloody battle to be?

I am puzzled, here: What kind of message would that convey to the commanders of Julian's army? I simply cannot imagine Julian ignoring Dura. Where is the evidence that he did NOT visit Dura? The fact that a particular reference does not state in black and white, that Julian visited Dura for an afternoon, will prove a simple omission, not a crime against humanity.

Even today, 150 years later, descendants of civil war veterans honor their distant relatives, by visiting the actual battle sites from the USA civil war, where those relatives lost their lives.

YES, to answer spin's question. ABSOLUTELY. No doubt in my mind, at all, that several of the Roman soldiers, 40 years after Constantine proclaimed Christianity the national religion, did in fact, accept the "laws" of Christian praxis of that era. One of those diktates, proselytizing, may be seen more clearly by studying the Mormons, all of whom are instructed to go forth and spread the good word. According to spin, Christianity was already thriving in second century, therefore, one could conclude that knowledge of the "house church" in Dura Europos WAS WELL KNOWN to all Christians in the middle of the third century. Inside this famous church were paintings. Surely this would have been known to Christians of that era. For them, it would have been a holy mission, to recover the art work.

So, a couple, or ten or fifty soldiers, waiting around for Julian to give the marching orders, with a week of free time on their hands, commence digging out the sand that had been placed there by the defenders, plus one century worth of wind deposition. They find the Jewish synagogue, with its lovely paintings, and attempt something similar, albeit a tad more amateurish in a nearby dwelling.

One of them, leaves a graffito on the wall, "Procope was here", if memory serves me well.

That's not the kind of message one leaves behind, facing imminent death at the hands of the enemy. It certainly is not the kind of message which the owner's of the house would have tolerated in 350 CE. But, one hundred years later, that is precisely the kind of message one would leave, "passing through" the ghost town.

The "christian" paintings are clumsy, inept, and HURRIED. Why were they painted in a rush? Those soldiers had a war to fight, surely, such clumsiness would not have been acceptable, had the paintings been composed five years earlier, for example, before the invasion/destruction of the fortress. Back then, say, 250 ce, six years before the destruction, the painter could have diligently, carefully, and painstakingly revised all the compositions, to make them not simply a representation of the new testament, but also attractive works of art, as we observe in the paintings of the Synagogue, "a block away".

I propose that we have no firm evidence supporting spin's assertion that Dura Europos lay undisturbed for 1700 years.

I have no evidence, either. What I do have, is logic, psychology, and military history. It may be that I err. Maybe none of Julian's soldiers encountered Dura Europos, or, if they did, maybe none of them touched a shovel. I guess I just have trouble understanding why so many folks in Europe and USA/Canada visit Normandy cemetary every year.
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Old 06-04-2013, 07:51 PM   #120
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OK - you've had your chance.

The claim that Constantine invented Christianity has been done to death, and this thread will be closed.

(The claim that Constantine made significant changes in Christianity or the course of Christian history is probably too commonplace to provoke an interesting discussion.)

:angry: Staff Warning!

:down: In accordance with the stated rules governing the BC&H discussion board, management does not consider repeated and colorful expression of personal opinions, unqualified assertions or broad generalizations, to be advancement of the discussion.

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