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Old 08-13-2013, 05:27 PM   #21
DCHindley
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You'd think Meier would argue that because the Xenu incident was so embarrassing it must've happened. In the mystery cult of Attis, he went mad and castrated himself. How embarrassing! Must've happened. Meier's claims are unfalsifiable.
What is so embarrassing about the massacre of billions of beings by atomic bombs? It will probably happen in our own time, but on the bright side rush hour traffic will not be a problem and all of our debts will be erased. I will feel 1000% better, yep!

Modern observers do seem to have a difficulty imagining what should have been embarrassing to early Christians, or Jews, or citizens of the Roman empire in general.

At the time it is spoken, "Your mama wears army boots!" is embarrassing to the little boy who wants to think of his mother as a proper lady, not a gender bender (or whatever bad thing the little boy thinks the phrase is meant to suggest). It may or may not be true, but no one is going to execute you because it was asserted. Few if any will bring it up in a passionate defense of one's right to live, or simply live unmolested.

A sarcastic "Nice two tone shoes!" is embarrassing to the kid who wears cheap plastic imitation leather shoes his mom bought from the Pay-More Shoe Store while the other boys wear "real" shoes that fail to display changes in color at wear points. But if someone wants to deport to a place of torment all persons who had a fashion challenged mom, or whose dad didn't drive the right car, or a parent who was not present due to moral defect, death or divorce, then I'd expect a spirited defense from those so accused. "I am not (now) embarrassed by what you say, those were circumstances beyond my control and I've come to terms with it. How is it that you are so shallow/ill-informed that you (still) find this kind of thing offensive?"

So, it is not what is embarrassing to the one being accused, but what is perceived as embarrassing to the accuser. The fact that a Christian was NOT embarrassed to be accused of being the follower of an executed rebel, or to hold some uncommon belief about resurrection, etc., means (s)he has already rationalized it away long ago, and throws it back at his accuser. "Ha! You are ill-informed about the man, let me explain ..." "You are shallow not to perceive that what you say about our beliefs is not so different to what you say about your own heroes and gods?"

This kind of defensive response is what Christian literature is all about, whether in form of a canonical gospel or an Apology by Justin, Aristides, etc.

DCH (Yes, I am not embarrassed to admit, I once wore plastic shoes, although since then I have graduated to poorly tanned shoes that smell when damp)
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Old 08-13-2013, 05:36 PM   #22
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I'm certainly no historian, but it seems to me that the criterion of embarrassment is useful in some ways when trying to evaluate the authenticity of bits of historical texts. Here's one example. In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus says things like This generation will not pass away before the Son of Man comes in his glory. If you give a late dating to the Gospels, and if you also think that the sayings like the one I just mentioned are about the parousia, then it's hard to see why the writers of the Gospels would include such statements, since they (writing after Jesus' generation) would know that the world hadn't ended. If you affirm the antecedents of that conditional statement, then shouldn't you think they included the sayings because they were truthfully reporting what they received? That involves a lot of hypotheticals, but that's how it is with history.
When the writer of Mark has Jesus saying "this generation shall not pass away" is the comment meant to reproduce something Jesus said, or to instruct the current generation of believers in the writer of Mark's own time?

Your comment also assumes that the writer of Mark intended his text as history. That is only how later readers came to regard it.

Vorkosigan
In Mark, Jesus says it to his disciples.
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Old 08-13-2013, 05:52 PM   #23
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I've been following this issue for over a decade. You?
Quality over duration ...
What have you read except for a review of Le Donne? Where would you apply the criteria?
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Old 08-13-2013, 07:27 PM   #24
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The stuff Christian apologists write is embarrassing - therefore it must be true.
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Old 08-13-2013, 07:54 PM   #25
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Quality over duration ...
Where would you apply the criteria?

I wouldn't. I don't have the skill set to do so accurately.
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Old 08-13-2013, 08:18 PM   #26
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When the writer of Mark has Jesus saying "this generation shall not pass away" is the comment meant to reproduce something Jesus said, or to instruct the current generation of believers in the writer of Mark's own time?

Your comment also assumes that the writer of Mark intended his text as history. That is only how later readers came to regard it.

Vorkosigan
In Mark, Jesus says it to his disciples.
Texts in antiquity were read aloud to audiences. Again, do you think the writer was sending a message to readers/listeners of his own day ("let the reader understand...") or faithfully recording what Jesus said?

Vorkosigan
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:13 PM   #27
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Texts in antiquity were read aloud to audiences.

Vorkosigan

So true.

Some more then others. I know Hebrews makes more sense in that context.
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Old 08-13-2013, 10:54 PM   #28
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I
John P. Meier, in his book A Marginal Jew, describes the purpose behind this criterion (p. 168):

....

This criterion is rarely used by itself, and is typically one of a number of criteria, such as the criterion of discontinuity and the criterion of multiple attestation, along with the historical method.

....
The Gospel of John goes further and simply omits the whole story of the Baptism.

So something is historical if it is 'multiply attested'

And something is historical if it is not multiply attested - if one of our sources never says it happened, then it happened.

Mark was written 30 years or more after Jesus died.

For 3 decades, Christians had been taunted with people pointing out that Jesus had been baptised.

Just how dumb was Mark and the other early Christians that after 30 years or more of being mocked and embarrassed that Jesus had been baptised, he still could not find a way to spin away the embarrassment?

Do Biblical scholars ever think?

Do they seriously imagine that after 30 years of being mocked, the author of Mark would have had the sense not to write embarrassing things?
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Old 08-14-2013, 04:40 AM   #29
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Just finished reading Rafael Rodriguez' paper on the Crit of Em in Le Donne, book cited by Toto in #2 above. Rodriguez attacks Meier and other proponents of this Criterion for neglecting the fact that EVERYTHING in the gospels has already been interpreted. There is no way to detach "data" from the way the data are represented, even as "early" as in Mark. Reminds me of Nietzsche's "there are no facts, only interpretations." Everything in those works served "post-crucifixion theological and ideological perspectives" (R. accepts that there was a Jesus who was crucified). We deceive ourselves to think that something in there "embarrassed" the very people putting out those accounts. R. reminds us that even as early as Paul (he accepts the authenticity of most of the epistles, apparently), the "embarrassment" of the cross was a big selling point - Paul revels in it.

@Andrew - good point about Alcibiades as an embarrassment about Socrates. Too complex to get into here, but thanks for reminding me. I was thinking about Socrates' "by the dog," since it seems to have provided material for Polycrates' accusations, and that phrase in Plato tails off after having been common in supposedly early dialogues. But this will get us way off topic.
Adding to Andrew: criterion of embarrassment, even if it were a good methodological tool, would get nowhere with Soc's "by the dog," since Plato puts that phrase in his mouth in texts that have to postdate Polycrates' pamphlet.
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Old 08-14-2013, 07:14 AM   #30
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I definitely do assume that the writers of the Gospels did not want to tell obvious falsehoods to their readers. If for no other reason (but other reasons abound) than that it would make them look bad. Maybe they were mistaken in what they believed, but it's not a live option (for me) to think that they didn't care about the truth. So I think that, if we assume them to be late, those sayings of the sort I mentioned couldn't have been about the parousia, even though some of them appear to be at first glance.

To the second point, I did give you an example: the saying about Jesus not knowing the precise time of the parousia. Another one would be the mysterious cry on the cross, "Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?" Another might be be Jesus saying, "why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone."
In the NT, it cannot be assumed a character is human if it is NOT God or Good.

May I remind everyone that in the NT, Satan, Angels, and Evil Spirits were also capable of NOT being Good and were regarded as figures of history.

In Revelation, there was War in heaven and Satan and his Angels were cast into the earth.

Revelation 12:7 KJV
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And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.
Revelation 12:9 KJV
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And the great dragon was cast out , that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Effectively, in gMark, of all the heavenly creatures ONLY God was Good.
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