FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.

Go Back   FRDB Archives > Archives > Biblical Criticism - 2001
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 05:55 AM

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 05-25-2001, 01:01 PM   #111
Posts: n/a

Nomad - what's under debate here is "embarassment".
If Jesus baptism is seen as an entrance into the acolyte school of John the B, or as a baptism for repentance (what sins did Christ commit?) then there may be grounds for such embarassment.

But, if Jesus baptism is seen as an ordination rite into his own ministry, then there is no reason for embarassment at all. As I said, there'd be some concern if He didn't take part in such a rite: the early Jewish believers would've been embarassed by his lack of proper credentials. As it was they could affirm that he "fulfilled all righteousness".

To further confirm the 'ordination' aspect - note that the Father baptizes the Son with the HS at the same time - publicly and announcing that this is My Son..... thus starting the ministry. As for the shaving - it was obviously not needed in this instance.
Bottom line: No embarrassment at all. Big embarrassment if not done.

Old 05-25-2001, 01:08 PM   #112
Posts: n/a

Look at it this way -
what king does not have a coronation?
what prophet does not have the laying on of hands?
what priest does not have the ordination?

What about your own tradition - wouldn't it be embarassing if you proclaimed that you were a priest/preacher and had no credentials - no ordination take place? Even in the NT the idea of "ordination" is very important for a minister.

Jesus not ordained in some public fashion?

C'mon - very embarassing indeed.
Old 05-26-2001, 05:19 AM   #113
Posts: n/a

My apologies, MC, work calleth. I'm gone 36 hours and everything goes hog wild.

Does it have knowledge of other perspectives? Commitment to telling the historical truth?

Meta =>See there again you are trying to impose a modernistic criterion rather than allowing the text to speak of itself.

Yes, modernist, like Thucydides:

And as for the real action of the war, I did not think it right to set down either what I heard from people I happened to meet or what I merely believed to be true. Even for events at which I was present myself, I tracked down detailed information from other sources as far as I could. It was hard work to find out what happened, because those who were present at each event gave different reports, depending on what side they favored and how well they remembered.

Is there anything remotely resembling this attitude in Mark et al?

The whole trick to understanding textual crit is to allow the text to work for itself and the first step is to understand the genre. But you are impossing the genre because you are demanding of the text that it make modern assumptions about the importance of historical nerrative.

Not at all. The authors of the text show no awareness of other takes on their writings. They show no desire to understand or fairly report what they had heard second- and third-hand. The context of their reports is extremely superficial.

Meta =>Why should it be "objective"? that wasn't even a value in thier time. again impossing the desires of a modern reading upon the text.

See above.

Meta =>why should they critique their sources?

Because that's what people who are thinking about what they writing do, Metacrock. Mark simply uncritically wrote down stuff, made up stuff, and rewrote stuff. The writer(s) of John went whole hog, reworking the material and dressing up Mark's rough narrative in a stylish artificial structure. Does either ever say: well, I heard from X that Jesus did such-and-such, but Y told me Jesus never did any such thing.

Any dim sort of underlying "theory" of history?

Meta =ahahaahah, that is a ludicrous, absurd requirement of the text. YOu might as well ask if it learned anything at Woodstock. that is a totally modernist way of thinking. No one had a grand scheme of history in that day. Jospehus and Tacistus did not write history with a grande scheme of history, nor did they have many of hte other requreiments you are impossing including "objectivity." In fact that is a Hegenlian notion in the first place. You might as well ask if they had a theory of wage labor and capital or if they understood their role as workers in a modern industrial society.

Sorry, MC, but almost all the ancient historical writers in civilizations where they took history seriously, wrote with a "theory of history" that is either implicit or explicit in their works. Take Plutarch, who viewed history as a moral theater, or Thucydides, who saw power, fear and self-interest as the primary motivators of history. In China historians had a very definite ideal, the dynastic cycle, as their framework for history.
I knew you'd make this objection, without stopping to think about the reality of historical writing/thinking in antiquity, which was often quite sophisticated.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
As for your other (non)points, plenty of myths occur in concrete locations using pre-existent characters. Means nothing as far as truth is concerned.</font>
Meta =&gt; Really, you are just assuming that the characteristics of mythology are only oriented around the naturalistic elements in a sotry and the chronological ordering. That is not what makes something mythological. Mythology is related primarily to arche types. Mythology is set in mythological tiem. History is concrete, so when you can date it it not mythical time. That's why Gensis begins "In the beginnig" because it is mythologcial time. That's why Luke begins with references to the census, because that dates it in history.There are other things but you are so far out of he ball park this will do for now.

You mean like the way the Robin Hood myths date it to the period when John ruled England while Richard was off to the Crusades? Like the way the William Tell myth is dated precisely to 1296, when the perfidious Gessler (of whom there is no record) ruled his town? Of course, Tell is myth.

Also, MC, no census of the Roman world happened at that time.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
The issue is whether we can recover enough history from the material to make confident judgements. And we can't. It is myth -- an invented story written to give order and meaning to people's lives.</font>
Meta =That is a totally inadquate understanding of what mythology is. You are using the old cirucular reasoning again. You assume that it has to be written for a puropse that you deem worthy, and that it must therefore conform to that understanding. Than you lay out criteria according to that understanding, and than look to see if it fits your criteria and than decide since it does it must be myth. The problem is you are merely using the assumptions you read into it to prove that those assumptions are justified. There is no reason to assume that the story is merely invented,

There is plenty of reason to assume the story is invented. It is full of impossibilities, not merely in the miracles (which are obvious inventions -- I do not say the healings and exorcisms are), but also in the bizarre trial, which many have attacked as impossible in the form we have it, the geography which is often badly wrong and so forth. There isn't much reason to assume it is historical.

and once making that asusmption everything else falls apart. Archaeology confirms much of the world of Jesus' day,

And of William Tell's, and of Robin Hood's, and of the Vedas, and of the Daoist immortals…..

many of the actual pericopes, and to assume conscious barrowing or consciously flase construction of ficticious tale causes the whole the thing to fall apart. Who would beleive it as a religion if no one had ever heard of this guy before or any of the events spoken of.

Dunno. By that token all religions are true. Which, as I understand, is your belief anyway.

Look, I'm not denying that there is a figure(s) under all that myth. All I am saying is, you can't reliably get back to him.

You also assume that ancient world people didn't beleive their own mythology,

Quite a number of the better-educated and wiser did not in fact believe their own mythology.

and you discard the major criteria upon which real mythogrophers understand myth to be based. And why must we be able to dig out enough historicity from it to make some sort of confident judgment when deciding that it is written for the purposes of mythology is a foundational assumption and since you place that before the reading and fiilter all the reading through that you are merely mining the data.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Using the myths alone, can you deduce that Faust was a real person? The legend is about a concrete person in concrete places, culiminating in works in the 1580s in which Faust and Luther tussle (legitimation of Faust through linkage to known influential figure). </font>
Meta =&gt; Faust is not mythology. That you cannot understand the difference speaks volumes. The basic information in the Faust legond may actually be historical, so that is just beging the question. But it's not because it's based upon historicity that I say it isn't mythological, it's because it doesn't have it's mythos and because it doesn't have any of the archetypical aspects of mythology, it is folklore. It is not mythology, and since it has an historical foundation it doens't prove anything. In fact it argues against your view.

How interesting, because I got the information on Faust out of a book on mythology, Joseph Campbell's Creative Mythology. It most certainly is myth, and has become one of the most enduring ones of the Scientific age.

For the ceriteria that I use you can see Toward a Science of Mythology by Carl Karanye. (sp--never can spell that, but hey why start now?)

The mythmaking dates from 1543, or within a couple of years of his death. It became wildly popular and was appearing in books, plays, etc, within 15 years. Rapid growth of myth within two decades of a persons' death. Remind you of anything?

]Meta =&gt;Again begging the question sice it has an historical foundation.

I never said it didn't. But, again, looking just at the myth, what can you deduce about the real Faust? Not much. See how much was built, and how quickly, on a very slim historical foundation?

Moreover, there are differnt versions and the motvations for keeping the story stairhgt were not there.

There was motivation/punishment for sticking to/deviating from the Xtian story, certainly. Faust did not start a religion, so not the same motive. But we do not know how "the story" was arrived at.

Jesus offered Israel Messianich redemption in the popular mind. When that failed in a political sense they had to explain why.

Unless you buy the "twin messiah" concept that some have advanced. Jesus might actually represent a composite or fusion of different ideas/figures/stories.

So the motivation was to keep the story since that is what they were trying to explian. But the Faust legond (which you still haven't established as mythology) was just an exciting tale, perhaps with a moral point to it. No real conseqeunces for changing detials. Now you are reading in the same kinds of assumption with the Gospels,

Yes and no. When I look at the gospels I see the same inventive flair as Faust. Mark's water walk is an obvious example of expanding the story. It's a fiction he added.

assuming you know their reasons for writing (did you know Mark? Did you talk to anyone who knew him?) and so forth.

So we can agree that Mark's motives for writing are no longer accessible to us. Does that mean you think that the embarrassment criterion is nonsense?

You are confussing myth with narrative. What makes it myth? Why is it essentially the same story they all tell? Why is there no divergence in any of the myriad of versions of Gosples up to the 3d or fourth century?

Confusing "myth" with "narrative." I knew you'd say that too, so I dug up Ruth Finnegan's book Oral Literature in Africa which was a reference for me when I taught lit in high school there. It's quite apropo. From pages 327-8:

In most European cultures, it seems natural to assume a distinction between 'myths' (narratives, believed in some sense or other to be true, and concerned with the origins of things or the activities of deities) and 'folktales' or ordinary stories (fictional narratives, taken much less seriously)….But -- and this is the point -- there are also societies in which this distinction between 'myth' and 'folktale' is not observed.

It would seem, MC, that your distinction between myth on one hand and folktale on the other is a convenience, and not an actual one.

Who is in confusion here? As we have seen, there is plenty of divergence, and a clear evolution of the Jesus-myth. (which may or may not be about a real person).

Meta =&gt;No there isn't. what you are calling "plenty of divergence" is merely minutia and details. I've spelled out what I condier to be the major outline of the story and so far you have not presented an single example of a source that offers one single difference in the accounts. I'm not talking about the number of women at the tomb, I mean:

2)under Pilate
3) in tomb 3 days
4)died in Jerusalem
6) same basic princples (the 12 and MM at center of he action)
7) raised.
8) left empty tomb
9)time relation to passover
10)hour of the day at time of death noon

One quibble: he wasn't in the tomb three days. "Plenty of divergence" refers to those writings, such as Thomas or the putative Q, which do not mention these events at all. We've already mentioned writings where Jesus was "buried in the sand." In many gnostic texts Jesus does not appear in bodily form after death, an important difference. In the Second Treatise of Seth somebody else dies in Jesus' place. In many of the sources Pilate is not mentioned. And so forth. In fact few of the writings contain all of these details. If we let the texts speak for themselves, as you ask….

That's enough for a basic outline. Other divergences like who spoke at his trial are minutia. number of women on the tomb, number of angles present, these things very because they are unimportant. The 10 points I outline above identify the story as an historical event because they are always kept the same. They are the basic facts that don't change. In other words, to know the number of women accurately one would have to have been there. But to know the place of crucifiction or the manner of death one need only hear the tale.

Sure. It seems this records a widely-recognized event about the figure underlying these stories. I believe that you are right, there is a good probability that the founder, whoever he was, was executed. But I don't buy the details. Since the Jesus myth was about crucifixion and resurrection, it is difficult to imagine that all stories would not contain those details.

Further, there is the problem of the independence of such written sources as we have.

But consider Cassie Bernall at Columbine. Supposedly, she said she believed in god and was martyred. All versions of the story preserve that detail, though of course it expanded as it grew into Christian legend. But that kernel remained. Is it true? No. The existence of a common thread of details in no way means that those details are true.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Your claims are nonsense. The gospels are myths, stories evolved over time that create order and meaning for people's lives, using recognizable archetypal figures who carry out heroic tasks.</font>
Meta =&gt; Than why are the 10 points I metion always the same in every retelling? why were there witnesses who cliamed to have known the principles and heard the stories and testify to their veracity? why does archaeology confirm some of the material? and stop calling them myths when you don't even know what the word means.

If they are not 'myth' then what are they? Obviously they are not history. They are narratives, but that refers to the structure -- at least of the Synoptics. They are myth, stories built around a core "truth" either concrete or ideal or a mix of both.

There are several reasons why the story might always be the same (since it is obviously not a true story). One, as Crossan has posited, is the existence of another written source containing a primitive passion story.
Because the Jesus myth was committed to vellum within a few years, and its development frozen by Church order (although the myth continues to evolve in slow-mo)…imagine the opposite case, where no Church militant guarded the mythology, nothing was written down for a couple of hundred years, like Bhudda. What would your myth look like now?

And what was [the Jesus Seminar's] means of looking? Well, they put up little colored balls to show their votes. That's about it. They have no method, they have critical faculties.

As I said, when they don't agree with you, you claim they are not real scholars. You shout that there is a consensus, and when I pull up fourscore scholars who disagree, you claim they are not scholars.

Meta =&gt;I didn't say they aren't scholars, I said they are getting an easy ride and not doing jobs well. They are lax scholars, they are media scholars. Those criticims are made by other scholars who are very familiar with their work; Luke Timothy Johnson for example.

As Crossan pointed out, methodologically, NT studies are extremely suspect

Meta =&gt; Yea mainly because of guys like him.

I'll take this as a confession that Crossan is correct.

After all, if NT Wright can forthrightly claim that his historical inquiries are guided by his faith, and be accepted as a scholar, the field can't be really very tough methodologically, can it?

Meta =&gt; It's the fraud who tries to prtend total objectivity and is not upfront about his biases. It is the true shcolar is who is open and up front about the biases that wll blind him. The latter demonstrates honesty and the former ignorance of scholalry caustion.

It's one thing to have bias, to be, for example, an American trying to explore our country's role in the Cold War. But it is quite another to admit, at the beginning, that you will not be guided by the facts, but in fact you will refuse to recognize any facts that might undermine your thesis. That's not a confession of bias, but a statement of intent.

[Would you please learn to read? I haven't said whether it is new or even true. People keep clubbing me over the head with a presumed consensus, only there isn't one, is there?

Meta =&gt; Sorry. It's just that you keep droping these indications that you have a little knowledge, enough to be a dangerous thing. For example,you seem to think that redaction is proof in itself of falsehood. Or that different voices within the text is a guarontee of fiction.

Will you quit confusing "falsehood" with "myth?" I doubt the redactors were writing what they saw as lies. But why was redaction necessary or even possible, if the document already contained "truth?"

Meta =&gt; I don't understand why we have to prove the healing thing was really part of Jesus ministry before we prove he eixted. That seems a bit backwards. It seems to me that if we prove a basic historicity than one can assume the healing bit on faith. It's a faith thing anyway right? I mean no one is going to claim as just historical fact that someone was really healed. But again, you allow your assumptions to dictate to the text rather than letting the text tell you what it is about. Why should we worry about that in the first place? What reason do we have to doubt that Jesus was credited with miralces? Josephus says he was, no one disagrees with it. There is no counter evidence to suggest that he wasn't. And it's not a determining factor in his historicity, but must follow from his historical existence anyway.

Sure, whatever figure lies underneath the gospel stories, was probably a healer of some kind.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
That's the problem when dealing with myth. Some myths are based on real people, like Wovoka, the Paiute Messiah (who died a silent movie actor), or the Zulu oral histories of Shaka the Great. Others are pure fiction, like the Hongs' mythical founder. Some appear to be composites, like Robin Hood. Others appear to have taken off so far they no longer relate to the original figure, like Faustus. Others whole religions have been built around them, and origins are completely obscure, like Hercules. Which of these is Jesus? I can't tell. Can you?</font>
Meta =&gt;But we are arguing about Dhortey's theory right? So he assumes Jesus was made up, and that the concete historical aspects of the narrative were attached to his identity latter. So that's the point of contention. It's not important in deciding on the truth or falsity of Dhortey's views which of those paradigms is true of Jesus, if we establish a basic historical validity. That in itself rules out the theory. But, yea there is no reason to supposse that he was composite. NO doubt some of it is embellished, but the basic outlines I've metioned plus his rep as miracle worker (with the previso that it is not proof but sign) are what I suggest as probable.

Actually we were discussing the criterion of embarrassment and how it could only have any validity if you assumed the gospels were history to begin with. We ranged pretty far afield from there. My own views are somewhat different than Doherty's. I would argue only for the possibility of his theory, since I know of a couple of historical examples -- the Hongs of China, who invented a mythical founder figure. The Daoists also invented a savior figure.

Old 05-26-2001, 06:34 AM   #114
Posts: n/a

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by jmcanany:</font>
Hi again jm

I asked you some very simple questions. Did Jesus fulfill the laws of Numbers 8 that YOU yourself brought up.

Please answer my questions, then we can decide if your belief that the baptism fulfilled those laws (all of them, of course, since there was a group of them) has any merit.


Old 05-27-2001, 10:35 AM   #115
Posts: n/a

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Metacrock:

Now what? I agree with you. As an historian i can't say that I know with absolute ceratinty that Jesus really existed, but that's because all history is probabalistic. I can't say with absolute certainty that Barbarossa existed either; but no historian on the face of the earth would ever dream of questioning his existence.

And most don't take seriously the effort to prtend that jesus didn't exist. Most historians accept Jesus' existence becasue there is no good reason not to.

The original statement Layman made may have been over stated, but he's basically right; the probablity is extremely high, high enough to give it presumption.
It seems you have given your opinion about Layman's opinion.


Old 05-27-2001, 10:49 AM   #116
Posts: n/a

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Layman:
So tell me Rod, were you posting under the name Omnedon? I really am curious. I know that you have jumped names in the past and your tactics are suspiciously similar.

Are you suggesting that I have been using a "tactic" simply because I pointed out that you made a mistake by saying "Jesus existed" without proof?

I came here a few months ago. At that time I posted under the name "Penatis." When I became a voluntary moderator, I took the name "rodahi." It is a name I used on AOL's Christian boards. At no time have I used any other UserName.

Layman: You want to have good faith discussions with me and thought such a thing was possible. Well it is, but not when you don't act in good faith.

As you know, I am not into the "faith" thing. Can we not argue in a civil manner by just presenting evidence?

Layman: You asserted that the statement "Jesus existed" went "beyond the boundaries set by historians." In effect, you made an appeal to authority. But when asked to produce what those boundaries are and which historians set them, you just pretend that you have nothing to prove.

I have stated numerous times that historians deal with probabilities--not certainties. Surely you understand this. I am not pretending anything here. If you feel certain that Jesus existed, then just present proof. I am very comfortable in saying that I think there is evidence suggesting that Jesus probably existed. I am not comfortable with the absolute statement "Jesus existed."

Layman: If you realize that your statement was overreaching, just admit it.

I have nothing to admit. I have stated very clearly what I meant and I stand by everything I have said to this point. You said Jesus existed and left it at that. If you feel certain that Jesus existed, then fine. Just prove it.


Old 05-27-2001, 10:52 AM   #117
Posts: n/a

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Layman:
Don't let Rodahi's hyperbole fool you. All I said was "Jesus existed." </font>
You said "Jesus existed" and you accuse me of being hyperbolic? This is absurd.


Old 05-27-2001, 06:46 PM   #118
Posts: n/a

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by rodahi:

You said "Jesus existed" and you accuse me of being hyperbolic? This is absurd.</font>
Did Layman actually say that he was certain that Jesus existed?

Personally, I do not see the statement "Jesus existed" to be hyperbole, any more than it is hyperbole to say that John the Baptist existed, or Hannibal existed. In itself it certainly should not require someone to enter into a lengthy discussion for them to believe this.

Old 05-27-2001, 06:57 PM   #119
Posts: n/a

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:
Did Layman actually say that he was certain that Jesus existed?

Layman not only said that he was "certain" that Jesus existed, but that he'd give 10 to 1 odds to anyone who wanted to take the opposite opinion. A meaningless gesture, of course, since the question will never be definitively answered, but it most certainly a hyperbolic one.

Old 05-27-2001, 09:44 PM   #120
Posts: n/a

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by DennisMcD:

Layman not only said that he was "certain" that Jesus existed, but that he'd give 10 to 1 odds to anyone who wanted to take the opposite opinion. A meaningless gesture, of course, since the question will never be definitively answered, but it most certainly a hyperbolic one.</font>
Alright, I went through this thread to see exactly where Layman said this, and it appears that people are bringing what he said in one thread into the discussion on this thread. Normally I wouldn't have too much of a problem with this, but it does tend to distort the context considerably in some cases.

So, I am going to repost all of Layman's original post, the one that appears to have started this whole flap, and then ask what the problem is. To me, he appears to have offered evidence in support of his belief, and that is, after all, what was demanded of him in the first place. What more are those questioning him asking for?

In any event, here is Layman's post in full:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Originally posted by Layman May 22, 2001 at 2:01PM (Page 1 of this thread):

Mike, the basis of your opinion is simply that because incredible things are asserted about Jesus that the references to him are simple "fictions" or "myths." This is an absurd position to take.

And I'm still waiting for the Cambell statement that Jesus did not exist. John has two fictions from Mark. Both together in the same section. Either John hit upon exactly the same fictions, with largely the same language, or Jesus really walked on water. Since the second assertion is absurd, the obvious inferences is that John knew of, and used either Mark or an identical tradition. This is what, the fifth time I've repeated this? Can you explain how John and Mark hit upon exactly the same fictions?

First, the majority of New Testament scholars reject your opinion. For perhaps the most comprehensive treatment of John as containing an independent "signs source" and "passion narrative," see Robert Fortna's, The Gospel of Signs or his later update, "The Gospel of John and Its Predecessor."

Second, you utterly failed to respond to my point that even if you could demonstrate John's relationship to Mark, or a common independent tradition, as to two events, the vast majority of his gospel would still be independent of Mark. John has a different chronology, has differences in his Passion Narrative, and completely forgoes mentioning exorcisms, the Baptism by John, and the Eucharist.

Third, you are assuming that the two events are fictions. This is based solely on your assumption that such events cannot occur. Even so, such events could very well be manufactured, but preserved by independent traditions.

Fourth, if, as you suggest, Mark and John are relying on a tradition common to both of them, then Doherty's theory is in trouble. There is a clear, early attestation regarding a human Jesus which predates Mark and John. The only reasonable common point is the Jerusalem Church.

Q has healing stories, which are quite common in myths and of no importance either way. Does Q have a death- and-resurrection story?

Miracles are also commonly circulated around nonmythical persons, such as Benny Hinn, for example. In fact, Benny Hinn is largely known for his alleged miracles. Many people believed them. And, he's a real guy!

Q also contains an exorcism, which were performed by real people in First Century Palestine. Father Malachi Martin performed dozens of exorcisms, but guess what, he's a real guy to!

In fact, the performance of such miracles and exorcism presupposes a human Jesus. Which is the point.

The point is not whether the Q miracle stories are, in fact, authentic. The point is whether Q presupposes and teaches a human Jesus. It clearly does. Thus, we have a source which predates all of the gospels which clearly teaches that Jesus was a human, not just a figment of Paul's imagination.

And, as a matter of fact, Q does presuppose and refer to Jesus' death on the cross. In fact, Q presumes familiarity with the Passion Narrative. Werner G. Kummel, Introduction to the New Testament, at 74.

We have Jesus' command to his disciples, "Take up your cross and follow me." Luke 14:27. He have Jesus' say, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to to gather your chidren together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings but
you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'" Luke 13:34-35. Herefers to his death in the parable of the mustard seed which speaks of being put into ground so that the tree (the kingdom of God) could grow from it. Luke 13:18-21.

Additionally, when the above statements are conjoined with the Son of Man sayings (about the Son of Man returning in power), Q presumes an eschatological figure who will be persecuted and rejected, but then return in power. In other words, it presumes the Passion Narrative. Accordingly, "[t]he view that Q reflects an early form of the Jesus movement that did not care about the cross and resurrection is not sustainable. The eschatology of Q presumes Jesus' death and resurrection." R. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside of the New Testament, at 174.

Walk on water? You're right, we have been over this before, and you didn't have any case. Mack confidently assigns John's appearance in Q to mythologizing -- his position is one that I sketched out above, that John is there to make Jesus legit. He concludes "...this implies that the authors created this story about John and Jesus in the light of their experiences in the 60s, not with any interest in accurately describing circumstances appropriate to the 20s." In any case, John's appearance in Q, as Mack makes clear, in no way invalidates the mythicist case.

Mike. Do you really believe that I don't have "any case?" None? That is rather incredible given the number of New Testament scholars that also criticize Mack's kind of Q reconstruction, accept both of Josephus' statements as referring to Jesus, and believe in the historical Jesus.

Additionally, I'm unconcerned with Mack's confidence. I'd be more interested in his evidence. So far I have seen none offered.

Is 'L' widely accepted? is it even strongly defensible? Do we know when it was written? Who wrote it? Why? In any case, have we even discussed "L?" Can't recall. Is it a
historical source written by someone attempting to find out what really happened, and tell the facts as he or she knows them? No. It's still myth. So we have myth constructors referencing other myths. And you think this is "evidence" for anything?

Your attitude is very revealing Mike. You have no idea about scholarship regarding L, but conclude that it must be myth so it is no evidence.

But, in fact, L is evidence that Jesus existed as a human being. You simply label it "myth" as if that means something or provides some explanatory power. It does not. It is your assertion. It boils down to, "it includes references to the miraculous so it cannot provide us with historical evidence."

The most recent exhaustive treatment of the L material is by Kim Paffenroth in his 1997, "The Story of Jesus according to L." Dr. Paffenroth analyzes the form and content of L and concludes that there is a coherent, unified source which was written by Jewish-Christians in Palestine sometime between 40-60 CE.

There is a concise overview of the scholarship on L. Kevin Giles' "L" Tradition in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Joel B. Green is the editor.

There are several german scholars I could provide you with, but as far as I know their works have not been translated into English yet and I doubt you are seriously interested in looking into the topic.

Or it is an interpolation. Not exactly a settled question. In any case, Josephus is writing late in the century.

Actually, the second reference to Jesus is a rather settled question. Liberal, Atheist, Jewish, and Christian scholars accept it as genuine. And most take the first reference as an original reference to Jesus with some later embellishments added by later Christians. The fact that some desparate skeptics with their own website still resist these conclusions isn't a very persuasive counter-argument.

Yes, Josephus writes late in the first century. So what? He writes about many things commonly accepted by historians which occurred even before Jesus' time. Are you saying that historians should not accept sources who write 60 years after the events they describe? Is this a common historical method?

Moreover, Josephus was a resident of Palestine for many years, and even commanded Jewish soldiers in Galilee. There is no sign of Christian influence in his original statement, and indications that he was ignorant of basic Christian beliefs that would have accompanied the crucifixion story.

My position is clear. Doherty argues that there is enough evidence to prove Jesus a myth-construction. You presuppose that Jesus is real. I argue that there is not enough evidence to permit me to chose between those two views, since all the evidence we have, includin Q and L, are mythology and not history.

Again with the conclusory assertions with no support. You classify them as myth as if that means something, as if it has any explanatory power. It does not. A theory that explains everything explains nothing.

Myths, all, or references to myths. I'm supposed to take myths as evidence of anything? Paul never met Jesus. Whether or not he thinks of him as a real person is arguable, and certainly he knows little about him.

Just because something is arguable doesn't mean it is legitimately in dispute. Again, however, your only response is that they are myths so they contain no history. The fact that Paul knows and interacts with Jesus' brother and chief disciple is powerful evidence that Jesus existed. Of course, the Jerusalem Church could have staged the whole thing and lied outrageously to Paul, but that is not Doherty's theory, nor yours as far as I can tell, nor any scholar I have ever read.

So those writers concieved of Jesus as a real human? And? Many writers of Robin Hood and William Tell believed those people
existed. Consider this passage from a site on Robin Hood sources:


Would you take any of this as actual evidence for a real Robin Hood? What would qualify as evidence for the existence of mythical people?

You haven't given me enough information to make such a determination. It would depend on who wrote them, when, what potential sources they had, what actual sources they had, their predispositions, their audience, and other factors. The fact that you think this simplistic point proves anything only underscores your historical naivity.

Remember when they thought Pilate was an invention? And then somebody discovered an inscription......I remind you that you laugh at the skeptic "obsession" with inscriptions, until you actually need one to prove the existence of someone.

The inscription was not needed to prove that Pilate existed, the Gospels had already proved that. The inscription only provided yet another hammer blow to unreasonable skepticism's obsession that the gospels were/are nothing but "myth."

And you really seem to have missed my point about inscriptions. I don't doubt that they have historical value, I just think that the skeptic is being simple minded when he says, "Oh, it was written on a rock instead of on paper, so it must be true." Or, "Oh, it is on a coin, so it must be true. And that means eagle's carry arrows when they fly."

What for? Re-read his point about history and faith. Can you honestly say that he is a scrupulous scholar, not letting his faith interfere in his scholarship?

Sure he is a scrupulous scholar. He submits his reasoning and rationale for all to criticize and respond to. He listens to the criticism and responds to it. He doesn't label it as "true" (or, in the parrallel Star Trek universe, "myth") and pretend that the issue is settled.

Yes, I'm sure he is an expert in trends in the fields of comparative religion, sociology and psychology of religion, myth & literature, cognitive science and so on. As I said, his point about mythicism being a response to rising fundamentalism is cute, but a transparent attempt to place his cult in some sort of "reasonable" position in the middle. Actually, his position is not "reasonable," but a pre-supposition based on his own faith. In any case the mythicist position long predates the recent rise of fundy-ism in the States.

He is an expert in the field of the historical study of Jesus. To that extent, he is much more familiar with the state of European scholarship than you are.

The Anglican Church is a cult? Oh yea, I forgot, all Christians churches are cults. Except maybe those Unitarians.

As for the preexistence of the mythicist position. N.T. Wright was talking about the current state of New Testament scholarship, not what some passed writers have published. He did not say that the mythicist position was a new invention. He said that American scholarship's excessive liberalism was a response to fundamentalism.

The fact that previous writers have suggested that Jesus was a myth is irrelevant to this point. The point is the state of modern scholarship . And, to be fair, his criticism was largely targetted at excessively liberal scholarship, rather than the Jesus did not exist camp.

But believing that Jesus-is-myth theories are unfounded would hardly have to be a presupposition of Wright's faith. Other scholars, atheists in fact, are equally dismissive of the mythicist opinion:

But above all, if we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we would apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned.... To sum up, modern cirtical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars.' In recent years 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus' - or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.

Michael Grant, Jesus, at 199-200.

Speaking of Wright, does he accept Q? And shouldn't his superior knowledge enlighten your own position? Or is it that when you need him, you rely on his authority, and then dismiss it once he has served his purpose?

You are confused. As I explained above, accepting the theory of Q in no way means accepting Mack's unsupported speculation as to multi-Q stages. As I understand Wright's position, he accepts the existence of Q as a useful hypothesis explaining the common sources of Matthew and Mark. So do I. He believes, however, that reconstruction attempts such as Mack's are flawed.

And what is the skeptic obsession with references to leading New Testament scholars? Somehow because I believe N.T. Wright about his characterization of New Testament studies in Europe I have to agree with him on everything or my reliance on him for the former position is somehow disengenuous? That is yet another absurdity.

I agree with Wright on a lot of things. Things he's convinced me he is right about. I don't agree with him on others. And many I haven't decided yet.

Jesus existed. It's not that threatening of a concept. Unless, of course, it is. </font>
Now, this post was 9 pages long when I copied it to Word. Word count showed 5,010 words, of which a good chuck were Layman's. Out of all of this, rodahi decided to pick the very last sentence, take it as if it was an unsupported blanket assertion, then question Layman on it ever since. Also, I believe that his statement that "Jesus existed" came long before madmax asked for people to place bets.

On the basis of his post, I cannot imagine how ANYONE would accuse him of making unsupported assertions. No one has to buy any of his arguments, but he did make them. If people were willing to challenge his arguments, then that would be one thing, but to act as if he never made them at all? What's up with that?

Perhaps one of the sceptics here would like to clarify this for me.


Brian (aka Nomad)

P.S. To Dennis. I have missed you on the Was Julius Caesar Assassinated thread. Do you believe that he was? I would like to know.

[This message has been edited by Brian Trafford (edited May 27, 2001).]

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:19 PM.


This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.