Monday, June 27, 2005

Extraordinary Claims require Extraordinary proof: Or do they?

Examining the dictim, often used as a hedge against any sort of justification argument for belief, the phrase is half baked at best. The following four precepts form the basis for my argument:


(1) "extraordinary" is in the eye of the beholder

(2) One would epxect the extraordinary to be a break with norms, such that we cannot think of the usual run of the mill daily concerns as extraordinary claims.

(3) One would think that any concept which holds presumption would pass teh test as an ordinary claim

(4) any view has presumpumption when it prestends a premia facie case.

Taking these four precepts, we can make two arguments such that the atheist hedge of the extraordinary claim is a half baked peice of "spin doctoring" rather than a sound philosphical prnicipel.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Argument (1): Religious belief is Normative.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Religious beilef is the norm for humanity:not only is this so but it is also the upshot of our body chemestry.

The vast majority of humans who ever lived have been religious. This is not only so today, when 90% of the world pop is religiouis, but it has always been the case as far back as we can recognize our distant cousins's ancestors (Neanderthal) as being human; human-like people have always been predominately religious.

Moreover, it is part of our make up to be religious:

(a) the "God pod" means that the concept of God is wried into our brains.

(b) psychological archetypes show up the world over on all psychoanalytical tests, indicating that the same symbolism world over is universal to humanity--including religious symbols.

(c) mental and physical health is much bettr for religious participants.

What all this means is that it is normative for humans to be religious. Thus it cannot be an extraordinary claim.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Argument (2) Presumption

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Religious beilef meets PF case

Empirical studies of RE estabish a PM case since they show us that the same affects are foud in all religioins the world over. This means that, while particular religiosu traditions are cultural constructs, the basic core idea of religion itself is part and pacell of human experine, is the norm and normative for human beings, and seems to indicate a co-dermeinate of God belif.

That frees the believer from any need to prove, because belief is prima facie. It is the job of the skeptic to now show that the evidence is inadequate and that the case has not been established.




--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Summary:That means it is the atheist who must get past the extraordinary claim problem. With 90% of huamnity beileving in some form of God it is an extraordinary calim to suggest that there is nothing beyond human experince that we might label "divine."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Reders from Intersting Places Continue

From my stats counter:


United States
22 22.45% United Kingdom
17 17.35% Australia
8 8.16% Canada
4 4.08% Unknown -
3 3.06% Singapore
2 2.04% Malaysia
1 1.02% Chile
1 1.02% Spain
1 1.02% Taiwan
1 1.02% India

Sunday, June 19, 2005

You Bring the Torches and Gasoline, I'll Bring the Popcron

Some idiots who like to fancy themselves as intellectuals have produced a list of "the most dangerous books." Their top 10 dangerous books includes:

(not in the order the present them)

You can see the list on Bede's blog

(1)Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx.
(2) Das Capital, ___________.
(3) Mine Komph, Adolf Hitler
(4) Quotations of Chairman Mao, Chairman Mao.
(5) Feminine Mystique, Betty Freedan.
(6) Kensey Report, Alfred Kensey
(7) Democracy and Education, John Dewey.
(8) Beyond Good and Evil, Frederick Neitzsche
(9) Course of Philosophy, August Compte.
(10)General Theory of Employment, John Maynard Keynes.

The very idea of producing a list of "dangerous books" is in itself objectionable, a bully tactic, and dangerous. It opens the door to censorship, condemns academic freedom, and sets up the inevitable next step, book burning. This is true regardless of the content of the books, and we should put a stop to it. we should demand that petty dictatorships not be allowed to interior with our intellectual freedoms.

The list of geniuses who prostituted their academic degrees to pull of this travesty is as follows:

This is in the electronic mag. Human Events online

"These 15 scholars and public policy leaders served as judges in selecting the Ten Most Harmful Books."

Arnold Beichman
Research Fellow
Hoover Institution

Prof. Brad Birzer
Hillsdale College

Harry Crocker
Vice President & Executive Editor
Regnery Publishing, Inc.

Prof. Marshall DeRosa
Florida Atlantic University

Dr. Don Devine
Second Vice Chairman
American Conservative Union

Prof. Robert George
Princeton University

Prof. Paul Gottfried
Elizabethtown College

Prof. William Anthony Hay
Mississippi State University

Herb London
President
Hudson Institute

Prof. Mark Malvasi
Randolph-Macon College

Douglas Minson
Associate Rector
The Witherspoon Fellowships

Prof. Mark Molesky


Each one of the entries is a classic of the right-wing's hate list of human thought. Fist, Mine Komph is there because the long standing association the right wing has tried to draw between Hitler and the left. They've been embarrassed abbot their loss since W.W.II and have tried repeatedly to identify Hitler with the left and with communism. Nothing could be further from the thrush. The Nazi brand of socialism at the time of its inception was called "right wing socialism" and it was listed with the second International as a product of the right. Every other work on this list is bonified a bulwark, a hallmark of the left/liberal thinking since the enligthement., except this one book. It's like they are saying "Ok let's through Hitler back, they can have him." But it's also like saying all the other books and ideas and policies of the left are linked with Hitler.

It's a shame and a scandal that they include Kenyes.It shows the real intolerance and pure hatred of the right wing. Nothing could be more legitimate than Keynes. His policies saved the country in the depression, they pure liberalism at it's most democratic and have nothing to do with Marxism or anything else that would destroy the capitalist gold mine these "go along get along types" cling to. But Keynes is on the danger list because his policies made right winners and conservatives pay more taxes; the great evil that has befallen humanity, the ever dreaded taxes! Making a rich guy pay taxes is the same as gassing six million Jews!

I might disagree with almost every work on the list. I agree that communism was a phrase and totally oppose it's anti-God spin, which was it's true undoing. But nothing justifies having such a list in the first place. Why not have a "disagreement" list? Why not try to be more fair about what you put on the "extreme" list. But a "dangerous book list" and so politically weighted, is a danger in itself.

Agust Compete is on the list because right wingers's hate sociology and social science. Right wingers want to believe that all human behavior is motive by ideals, by their ideals, except the behavior of the enemy left is motivated by the exact opposite, anti-ideals. They can't accept a science that would predict human behavior and would prove that people do things for reasons of socialization and not ideology. They love ideology. Basically right wingers are ideology addicts, they are addicted to it just like juncoes on Heroin. But more important, social sciences told us that people can't help what they do. Right wing thinking wants to blame humans for their total depravity and punish them with poverty for their lack of good morals and sound ecumenic beliefs (sound economic beliefs i.e. "let me get rig without any limits on my acquisitive nature"). Actually, I don't agree with Complete, and I dot' like him that much. I read him French when I was learning that language as my doctoral requirement. he's very easy to read, and I found amazingly enough that he had a strong belief in the human spirit. But to include him on a list with Hitler is insanity.

The political rape of the church will not go away. That's exactly what it is. The political rape of the church!

Arugment (2) on Empty Tomb: Pre Markan Redaction

The Gospel accounts of the resurrection were tramsmited faithfully from the very begining. How do we know this? The same way we know that any aspect of ancient world history is a probalbity: the documents are trustworthy. Now skepitics are probably spitting milk out their noses reading this, but its true.There are three areas of reiability, and two major misconceptions that have to be avoided. Let me start with the misconceptions:


(1) The idea that "reliable" means "realisitic."


I'm sure many skeptics reading this are saying, How can they be reliable when they speak of miracles?. But reliable doesnt' necessarily mean "realistic." This doesn't mean they aren't hard to believe, or that they don't require an assumption about metaphysics; reliable doesnt' mean true. What it does mean I'll get to in a minute.

big misconception number two:

(2) Faithful transmission of history would have to mean that we can prove that eye witnesses wrote the documents. Or worse, that the name sakes wrote the documents (John wrote John, Matthew wrote Matthew). None of that has to be the case.


faithful transmission means the content has been passed down from source to antoher for generations without significant alteration. Trustworthy doesn't mean "we can prove its ture," it means we can trust, within a reasonable estimation, that what we have recorded today is what we would find being transmitted in the earilest times. Here is how we know:


I. The evidence of the Manuscripts (Ms) and the stories themselves.

II. Early date of the Resurrection narrative.

III. Reliability of the Community.


I. The evidence of the Manuscripts (Ms) themselves.



I wont belabor the point about the documents, since that has been talked to death on message boards for years. See my pages on Bible: canonical Gospels for a lot of good info on this point. But, the often quoted statistic is that the NT MS are generally 98% reliable. What that means is, that to within 98% all the thousands of MS that we possess (24,000 of all types including fragments) say the same things. we don't find passages with wildly different events. There is no one secret passage somwhere that offers some totally different account of what happened. Such a Ms just doesnt' exist and there is no evidence that such a thing ever did exist. The closest we come to that is Secret Mark the fragment found by Martin Smith at Mar Saba; but even Secret Mark assumes the world of the Gospels, it assumes a particuar event recorded in Mark, it doesnt' change the basic facts of the story at all.

Now skeptics have been known to argue, "but they are just copying the same story." That's the point! If those events didn't happen, or at least if they were not been taught from the begining as "the truth," we should find other versions. NO program of erradication could take out all copies in the ancient world. Some fragment of a Gospel would have survived somewhere. If there was a version of the story in which Jesus didn't rise from the dead, or in which he rose on the 8th day, or whatever, we would have a copy of it. The fact that the manuscripts give a cooherent and unified testimony going all the way back as early as it can go (and not contradicted by 35 lost gospels we do possess) indcates that this is a good representation of what happened (see F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents,Are they Reliable?


Unified Narratival Framework


The Gospel of Luke is greatly substantiated by artifacts and history, what about the other Gospels, espeically the first Gospel Mark? In the totallity of the Synoptic tradition we have a unified framework which is kept intact. We do not see the growth and elabortaion of myth. As Stephen Neil points out, quoting Edwin Clement Hoskyns (1884-1937) in The Riddle of the New Testament (p.104) Neil begins by saying,

"We hold with some confidence that Mark is the earliest of the Gospels and that both Matthew and Luke use him in the Composition of their Gospels, if there is any tendency to heighten the drama...we shall certaly find it in those points at which Matthew and Luke differ from Mark. Do we in fact find that this is the process which has taken place? After a careful survey of the evidence Hoskyns answers in the negative. Matthew and Luke have far more material than Mark...but essentially the presentation of Jesus is the same, and if there is any tendency it is not toward heightening the majesty and mystery of Christ it is rather in the opposite direction--Jesus is a little tamed, a little softened and brought a little nearer to ordienary categories of human existance" (p. 216). He then quotes Hoskyns himself: "In this process of editing they nowhere heighten Marks tremendous picture of Jesus. No deifying of a prophet, or of a mere preacher of righteousness can be detected. They do not introduce Hellonistic supersition or submerge in the light of later Christian faith the lineaments of Mark's picutre of Jesus.They attempt to simplify Mark, he is more difficult to understand than they are...."



Rather than seeing a myth spreading and growing and moving toward a deified Christ what we actually see is a stable framework of assumed and testified fact and a relatively stable explaination of what the facts mean. This is in sharp contrast to the skeptic's idea that the simple facts grew out of propotion with re-telling until they culmenated in the fantasical notion that Jesus rose from the dead!


II. Early Date of Resurrection Narrative.



A.Myth Takes Centuries to Develop


The importance of early claims is this. Myth takes time to develop. Legends might spring up over night, but they take time to assume a consistent form. William Lane Craig quotes prof. Sherwin-Whtite ("Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Rsurrection of Jesus Christ," Truth 1 (1985): 89-95)

"For in order for these stories to be in the main legendary, a very considerable length of time must be available for the evolution and development of the traditions until the historical elements have been supplanted by unhistorical. This factor is typically neglected in New Testament scholarship, as A. N. Sherwin-White points out in Roman Law and Roman Society tn the New Testament. Professor Sherwin-White is not a theologian; he is an eminent historian of Roman and Greek times, roughly contemporaneous with the NT. According to Professor Sherwin-White, the sources for Roman history are usually biased and removed at least one or two generations or even centuries from the events they record. Yet, he says, historians reconstruct with confidence what really happened. He chastises NT critics for not realizing what invaluable sources they have in the gospels. The writings of Herodotus furnish a test case for the rate of legendary accumulation, and the tests show that even two generations is too short a time span to allow legendary tendencies to wipe out the hard core of historical facts. When Professor Sherwin-White turns to the gospels, he states for these to be legends, the rate of legendary accumulation would have to be 'unbelievable'; more generations are needed. All NT scholars agree that the gospels were written down and circulated within the first generation, during the lifetime of the eyewitnesses."



B.Ressurection Claims Made Early



(1) Markon Account Very Early


The early date of the transmissions are borne out by the Texts themselves. They are clean and free of myth. The Markon version is especially pure. Consider the use of the phrase "on the third day" which we find in Paul's statement above about the 500 witnesses. Throughout the NT that phrase is used of the Resurrection. Even in Gospels latter than Mark's it is used. But not in Mark. In Mark we are receiving something from the purest strata of the early days. William Lane Craig, (The History of the empty Tomb ofJesus" New Testament Studies 21 (1985):39-67)


Gerd Theissen in The Gospels in Context, (pp. 166-167):

In my opinion, in Mark we can discern behind the text as we now have it a connected narrative that presupposes a certain chronology. According to Mark, Jesus died on the day of Passover, but the tradition supposes it was the preparation day before Passover: in 14:1-2 the Sanhedrin decided to kill Jesus before the feast in order to prevent unrest among the people on the day of the feast. This fits with the circumstance that in 15:21 Simon of Cyrene is coming in from the fields, which can be understood to mean he was coming from his work. It would be hard to imagine any author's using a formulation so subject to misunderstanding in an account that describes events on the day of Passover, since no work was done on that day. Moreover, in 15:42 Jesus' burial is said to be on the "preparation day," but a relative clause is added to make it the preparation day for the Sabbath. Originally, it was probably the preparation day for the Passover (cf. Jn 19:42). The motive for removing Jesus from the cross and burying him before sundown would probably have been to have this work done before the beginning of the feast day, which would not make sense if it were already the day of Passover. Finally, the "trial" before the Sanhedrin presupposes that this was not a feast day, since no judicial proceedings could be held on that day. It would have been a breach of the legal code that the narrator could scarcely have ignored, because the point of the narrative is to represent the proceeding against Jesus as an unfair trial with contradictory witnesses and a verdict decided in advance by the high priests.




(2)Gospel Phraseology implies early telling

"The use of 'the first day of the week' instead of 'on the third day' points to the primitiveness of the tradition. The tradition of the discovery of the empty tomb must be very old and very primitive because it lacks altogether the third day motif prominent in the kerygma, which is itself extremely old, as evident by its appearance in I Cor 15. 4. If the empty tomb narrative were a late and legendary account, then it could hardly have avoided being cast in the prominent, ancient, and accepted third day motif.{81} This can only mean that the empty tomb tradition ante-dates the third day motif itself. Again, the proximity of the tradition to the events themselves makes it idle to regard the empty tomb as a legend. It makes it highly probable that on the first day of the week the tomb was indeed found empty." (Caraig)



(3) Pauline Tesimony Earlier than written Gospels


Paul's statment about the 500 and the credal confession were written prior to any of the Gospels. This places the teaching about 20 years after the fact. That pushes the pre-Markon material in Mark back even fruther, to near the date of the events (because it took time to form into a credal statement).

"Undoubtedly the major impetus for the reassessment of the appearance tradition was the demonstration by Joachim Jeremias that in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-5 Paul is quoting an old Christian formula which he received and in turn passed on to his converts According to Galatians 1:18 Paul was in Jerusalem three years after his conversion on a fact-finding mission, during which he conferred with Peter and James over a two week period, and he probably received the formula at this time, if not before. Since Paul was converted in AD 33, this means that the list of witnesses goes back to within the first five years after Jesus' death. Thus, it is idle to dismiss these appearances as legendary. We can try to explain them away as hallucinations if we wish, but we cannot deny they occurred. Paul's information makes it certain that on separate occasions various individuals and groups saw Jesus alive from the dead. According to Norman Perrin, the late NT critic of the University of Chicago: "The more we study the tradition with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based." This conclusion is virtually indisputable."




[William Lane Craig,

Leadership University (Webstie) original "Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Truth 1 (1985): 89-95]


We can also include in along with this Pauline testimony Hebrews and 1 Peter. Accounts of points that corrospond to Gospels circulating by AD 70 (see Luke Timothy Johnson quotation under point I).


C. Pre Markan Redaction Pushes Date of original Writting to mid Century>

However the material upon which the Gospels are based dates back to an earlier period, and in a form which is essentially the same as that which is found in the Synopitics. This actually pushes the date of the Gospel story, including the death, burial and resurrection (including the empty tomb) to A.D. 50.

"Studies of the passion narrative have showen that the Gospel accounts are dependent upon one and the same basic account of the suffering, crucifixtion, death and burial of Jesus. But this accounted ended with the discovery of the empty tomb." Hemut Koster Ancient Chrsitian Gospels p. 231



(1) Diatessaron

The Diatessaron ..of Titian is the oldest known attempted harmony of the Gospels. It probably dates to about 172 AD and contains almost the entire text of the four canonicals plus other material, probably from other Gospels and perhaps oral traditions. It is attested to in many works and is probably the first presentation of the Gospel in syriac.

In an article published in the Back of Helmut Koester's Ancient Christian Gospels, William L. Petersen states:

"Sometimes we stumble across readings which are arguably earlier than the present canonical text. One is Matthew 8:4 (and Parallels) where the canonical text runs "go show yourself to the priests and offer the gift which Moses commanded as a testimony to them" No fewer than 6 Diatessaronic witnesses...give the following (with minor variants) "Go show yourself to the priests and fulfill the law." With eastern and western support and no other known sources from which these Diatessaranic witnesses might have acquired the reading we must conclude that it is the reading of Tatian...The Diatessaronic reading is certainly more congielian to Judaic Christianity than than to the group which latter came to dominate the church and which edited its texts, Gentile Christians. We must hold open the possible the possibility that the present canonical reading might be a revision of an earlier, stricter , more explicit and more Judeo-Christian text, here preserved only in the Diatessaron. [From "Titian's Diatessaron" by William L. Petersen, in Helmut Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development, Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990, p. 424]



While textual critics find it more significant that the early implications are for Jewish Christianity, I find it significant that the pre-Markan material in the Diatesseran includes a miracle story. Those miracles just never really fall out of the story. They are in there from the beginning. But for our purposes the most important point to make is that here we have traces of pre-Markan material. That is, Mark as we know Mark was not the earliest Christian Gospel written, it is merely the earliest of which we have a full copy. The date assigned to the composition of Mark is not the date assigned to the sources used to redact that composition. This pushes the written record of the Jesus story before A.D. 60 and makes it at least contemporaneous with Paul's writings. In other words it is clear that written Gospels with Jesus in an historical setting, and with Mary and Joseph the Cross and the empty tomb existed and circulated before the version of Mark that we know, and at the same time or before Paul was writing his first epistle (150'sAD).



(2) Papyrus Egerton 2

The Unknown Gospel (Egerton 2) preserves a tradition of Jesus healing the leper in Mark 1:40-44. (Note: The independent tradition in the Diatessaran was also of the healing of the leper). There is also a version of the statement about rendering unto Caesar. Space does not permit a detailed examination of the passages to really prove Koster's point here. But just to get a taste of the differences we are talking about:

Koster says:

"There are two solutions that are equally improbable. It is unlikely that the pericope in Egerton 2 is an independent older tradition. It is equally hard to imagine that anyone would have deliberately composed this apophthegma by selecting sentences from three different Gospel writings. There are no analogies to this kind of Gospel composition because this pericope is neither a harmony of parallels from different Gospels, nor is it a florogelium. If one wants to uphold the hypothesis of dependence upon written Gospels one would have to assume that the pericope was written form memory....What is decisive is that there is nothing in the pericope that reveals redactional features of any of the Gospels that parallels appear. The author of Papyrus Egerton 2 uses independent building blocks of sayings for the composition of this dialogue none of the blocks have been formed by the literary activity of any previous Gospel writer. If Papyrus Egerton 2 is not dependent upon the Fourth Gospel it is an important witness to an earlier stage of development of the dialogues of the fourth Gospel....[Koester , 3.2 p.215]


Koseter shows that the Gospels are based upon pre-markan material which dates from A.D. 50 and ends witht he empty tomb, the resurrection appearnces of Jesus he believes were added from other sources. In this theory is partially in agreement with Crossen who also believes that the pre-Markan material can be traced to A.D. 50 and includes the empty tomb. Koester also uses the Gospel of Thomas and Gospel of Peter and several other works to demonstrate the same point.[please see Jesus Puzzell 2 for more on this point] This puts the actual writting of the Gospel tradition just 20 years after the original events. There still many eye-witnesses living, the communities which had witnessed the events of Jesus' ministry would have still basically been intact. The events would be somewhat fresh, and plenty of oportunity for witnesses to correct mistakes.

Thus the basic historical validity for the Gospels can be upheld, since they are based upon material which actually goes back to within a mere 20 years of the original events. This means that many of he eye witnesses would have been in the community and able to correct any mistakes or fabrications which were put into the text.



Almost all NT scholars put the writting of the Synoptic Gospels within the plausable life span of eye witnesses, Mark around 65, Matt. around 70 and Luke 80. In Ancient Christian Gospels, (1991) Helmutt Koster identifies a proto-Gospel which underlies the synoptics and John, and which has traces in the Gospel of Peter. (Koster is a major textual critic and is certainly placed in the Liberal camp).


(c) Peter not copy of Matt.


"The Gospel of Peter is dependent upon the traditions of interpriting old testament materials, for the description of Jesus' suffering and death; it shares such traditions wtih the canonical Gospels, but is not dependent upon the canonical writtings....[Dominic Crosson] argues that this activity [interpretation of scritpure as nuleous of passion narrative]...resulted in the composition of a litterary document at a very early date, i.e. in the middle of the first century." (Koster, 218).

"The Gospel of Peter as a whole is not dependent upon any of the canonical Gospels. It is a composition which is analogous to the Gospels of Mark and John. All three writtings, independently of each other use an older passion narrative which is based upon a exigetical tradition that was still alive when these Gospels were composed and to which the Gospel of Matthew also had access...However, framgements of the epiphany story of Jesus being raised from the Tomb, which the Gospel of Peter has preserved in its entirety, were employed in different litterary contexts in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew." (Koster, 240).

(b) Passion account developed early


"The account of the passasion of Jesus must have developed quite early becasue it is one and the same account used by Mark (and subsequently by Matthew and Luke) and John, and as will be argued below, by the Gospel of Peter. However, except for the story of the discovery of the empty tomb the different stories of the appearence of Jesus after his ressurection in the various gospels cannot derive from one single source....each of the authors of the extant Gospels and of their secondary endings drew these epephany stoires form their own particular tradition, not form a common source." (Ibid. 220).

(c) empty tomb part of original story


"Stories of the passion narrative were dependent upon one and the same basic account of the suffering cruscifiction, death and burrial of Jesus. But this account ended with the discovery of the empty tomb....for the story of Jesus' burial and the discovery of the empty tomb the Gospel of Peter used the source that also that underlys Mark and John, which ended with the discovery of the empty tomb." (ibid.231).

William Laine Craig tells us:

" The presence of the empty tomb pericope in the pre-Markan passion story supports its historicity. The empty tomb story was part of, perhaps the close of, the pre-Markan passion story. According to Pesch,{79} geographical references, personal names, and the use of Galilee as a horizon all point to Jerusalem as the fount of the pre-Markan passion story. As to its age, Paul's Last Supper tradition (I Cor 11. 23-25) presupposes the pre-Markan passion account; therefore, the latter must have originated in the first years of existence of the Jerusalem Urgemeinde. Confirmation of this is found in the fact that the pre-Markan passion story speaks of the 'high priest' without using his name (14. 53, 54, 60, 61, 63). This implies (nearly necessitates, according to Pesch) that Caiaphas was still the high priest when the pre-Markan passion story was being told, since then there would be no need to mention his name. Since Caiaphas was high priest from A.D. 18-37, the terminus ante quem for the origin of the tradition is A.D. 37. Now if this is the case, then any attempt to construe the empty tomb account as an unhistorical legend is doomed to failure." (The History of the empty Tomb ofJesus" New Testament Studies 21 (1985):39-67)

"Like the burial story, the account of the discovery of the empty tomb is remarkably restrained. Bultmann states, '. . . Mark's presentation is extremely reserved, in so far as the resurrection and the appearance of the risen Lord are not recounted.' {55} Nauck observes that many theological motifs that might be expected are lacking in the story: (1) the proof from prophecy, (2) the in-breaking of the new eon, (3) the ascension of Jesus' Spirit or his descent into hell, (4) the nature of the risen body, and (5) the use of Christological titles.{56} Although kerygmatic speech appears in the mouth of the angel, the fact of the discovery of the empty tomb is not kerygmatically colored. All these factors point to a very old tradition concerning the discovery of the empty tomb."



III. Community as Author


We do not have to know the exact identity of the authors, because the original material comes from the community itself


A.Oral tradition was not uncontroled.

Oral tradition in first-century Judaism was not uncontrolled as was/is often assumed, based on comparisons with non-Jewish models. From pg. 53-55 in B.D. Chilton and C.A. Evans (eds.), "Authenticating the Activities of Jesus" (NTTS, 28.2; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998):


"...[T]he early form criticism tied the theory of oral transmission to the conjecture that Gospel traditions were mediated like folk traditions, being freely altered and even created ad hoc by various and sundry wandering charismatic jackleg preachers. This view, however, was rooted more in the eighteenth century romanticism of J. G. Herder than in an understanding of the handling of religious tradition in first-century Judaism. As O. Cullmann, B. Gerhardsson, H. Riesenfeld and R. Riesner have demonstrated, [22] the Judaism of the period treated such traditions very carefully, and the New Testament writers in numerous passages applied to apostolic traditions the same technical terminology found elsewhere in Judaism for 'delivering', 'receiving', 'learning', 'holding', 'keeping', and 'guarding', the traditioned 'teaching'. [23] In this way they both identified their traditions as 'holy word' and showed their concern for a careful and ordered transmission of it. The word and work of Jesus were an important albeit distinct part of these apostolic traditions.

"Luke used one of the same technical terms, speaking of eyewitnesses who 'delivered to us' the things contained in his Gospel and about which his patron Theophilus had been instructed. Similarly, the amanuenses or co-worker-secretaries who composed the Gospel of John speak of the Evangelist, the beloved disciple, 'who is witnessing concerning these things and who wrote these things', as an eyewitness and a member of the inner circle of Jesus' disciples.[24] In the same connection it is not insignificant that those to whom Jesus entrusted his teachings are not called 'preachers' but 'pupils' and 'apostles', semi-technical terms for those who represent and mediate the teachings and instructions of their mentor or principal.(25)


(22. O. Cullmann, "The Tradition," in Cullmann, The Early Church (London: SCM Press; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1956) 55-99; B. Gerhardsson The Origins of the Gospel Traditions (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979); H. Riesenfeld The Gospel Tradition (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970) 1-29; Riesner, Jesus als Lehrer.

23. Rom 6:17; 16:17; 1 Cor 11:2, 23; 15:3; Phil 4:9; Col 2:6-7; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6; 2 Tim 3:14; Titus 1:9; 2 John 9-10; Jude 3: Rev 2:13, 24. Cf. Abot 1:1; Philo, The Worse Attacks the Better 65-68. 24. John 19:35; 21:24-25; cf. 13:23; 18:15-16; 19:26-27; 20:1-10; 21:7, 21-23. Cf. J. A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976) 298-311. 25. On parallels with other rabbis and their disciples and other Jewish usage cf. Mark 2:18 = Luke 5:33; K.H. Rengstorf TDNT 1 (1964) 412-43;.TDNT 4 (1967) 431-55.

Also, there wasn't an necessarily a long period of solely oral transmission as has been assumed:


"Under the influence of R. Bultmann and M. Dibelius the classical form criticism raised many doubts about the historicity of the Synoptic Gospels, but it was shaped by a number of literary and historical assumptions which themselves are increasingly seen to have a doubtful historical basis. It assumed, first of all, that the Gospel traditions were transmitted for decades exclusively in oral form and began to be fixed in writing only when the early Christian anticipation of a soon end of the world faded. This theory foundered with the discovery in 1947 of the library of the Qumran sect, a group contemporaneous with the ministry of Jesus and the early church which combined intense expectation of the End with prolific writing. Qumran shows that such expectations did not inhibit writing but actually were a spur to it. Also, the widespread literacy in first-century Palestinian Judaism [18], together with the different language backgrounds of Jesus' followers--some Greek, some Aramaic, some bilingual--would have facilitated the rapid written formulations and transmission of at least some of Jesus' teaching.[19]" (p. 53-54)



------------------ 18. Cf. Josephus, Against Apion 2.25 204: The Law "orders that (children) should be taught to read."; cf. idem, Ant. 12.4.9 209; Philo, Embassy to Gaius 115, 210, Further, see R. Riesner, Jesus als Lehrer (WUNT 2.7; Tubingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1981; 4th ed., 1998) 112-15. 19. Jesus had hearers and doubtless some converts from Syria (Matt 4:25), the Decapolis (Matt 4:25; Mark 3:8; 5:20; 7:31), Tyre and Sidon (Mark 3:8; 7:24, 31; Matt 15:21).

N. T. Wright, critiquing the Jesus Seminar's view of oral tradition as uncontrolled and informal based on some irrelevant research done in modern Western non-oral societies writes:

"Against this whole line of thought we must set the serious study of genuinely oral traditions that has gone on in various quarters recently. [65] (p. 112-113)

--------------- 65. For example, see H. Wansbrough (ed.), Jesus and the Oral Gospel Tradition (JSNTSup 64; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991), referring to a large amount of earlier work; Bailey, "Informal Controlled Oral Tradition," 34-54. The following discussion depends on these and similar studies, and builds on Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, 418-43; and idem, Jesus and the Victory of God, 133-37.)


"Communities that live in an oral culture tend to be story-telling communities. They sit around in long evenings telling and listening to stories--the same stories, over and over again. Such stories, especially when they are involved with memorable happenings that have determined in some way the existence and life of the particular group in question, acquire a fairly fixed form, down to precise phraseology (in narrative as well as in recorded speech), extremely early in their life--often within a day or so of the original incident taking place. They retain that form, and phraseology, as long as they are told. Each village and community has its recognized storytellers, the accredited bearers of its traditions; but the whole community knows the stories by heart, and if the teller varies them even slightly they will let him know in no uncertain terms. This matters quite a lot in cultures where, to this day, the desire to avoid 'shame' is a powerful motivation. "Such cultures do also repeat, and hence transmit, proverbs, and pithy sayings. Indeed, they tend to know far more proverbs than the orally starved modern Western world. But the circulation of such individual sayings is only the tip of the iceberg; the rest is narrative, narrative with embedded dialogue, heard, repeated again and again within minutes, hours and days of the original incident, and fixed in memories the like of which few in the modern Western world can imagine. The storyteller in such a culture has no license to invent or adapt at will. The less important the story, the more the entire community, in a process that is informal but very effective, will keep a close watch on the precise form and wording with which the story is told. "And the stories about Jesus were nothing if not important. Even the Jesus Seminar admits that Jesus was an itinerant wonder-worker. Very well. Supposing a woman in a village is suddenly healed after a lengthy illness. Even today, even in a non-oral culture, the story of such an event would quickly spread among friends, neighbors and relatives, acquiring a fixed form within the first two or three retellings and retaining it, other things being equal, thereafter. In a culture where storytelling was and is an art-form, a memorable event such as this, especially if it were also seen as a sign that Israel's God was now at last at work to do what he had always promised, would be told at once in specific ways, told so as to be not just a celebration of a healing but also a celebration of the Kingdom of God. Events and stories of this order are community-forming, and the stories which form communities do not get freely or loosely adapted. One does not disturb the foundations of the house in which one is living."[B.D. Chilton and C.A. Evans (eds.), Authenticating the Activities of Jesus (NTTS, 28.2; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998) p. 113-115.]

Saturday, June 18, 2005

My Approch to "The Empty Tomb" book

The article below is one page out of four in which I deal withe the archaeological evidence that the tomb is under the Chruch of Holy Seplechur. That first page is found:

http://www.geocities.com/metacrock2000/Jesus_pages/Resurrection/Tomb_yes.html


than follow the links at bottom of pages.

Highlights:

(1) Archeaological proof
(2) Research of edicule proves site is that of consttantine
(3) name "Galgotha" clung to site before Constantine and after
(4) temple of venus found under the site, marker of ancinet Jewish Christian community


Tomarrow I will post my second argument, the readings of the Diatesseron and pre Markan redaction ground written sources about tomb as early as AD 50.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Have Tomb, Will Argue







In response to the empty tomb book published by the ensomble of internet infidels.My arguments are found in several pages that disprove any assertion of a late developing tomb myth.


http://www.geocities.com/metacrock2000/Jesus_pages/Resurrection/Tomb_yes.html


I have two major argments both of which demonstrate the historicity of an early claim of an existing empty tomb.

(1) The per Markan redactions includes story of empty tomb as early as AD 50

(2) archaeoloigcal evidence indicates the tomb is under the chruch of the Holy Seplechur.


this is the second argument:

One of the major Skeptical arguments against the Resurrection of Christ states that no tomb was ever venerated as the stie of the Resurrection until Constantine arbitrarily chose one in the foruth century;that the Chruch of the Holy Seplechur, the oldest traditional site, was just a fabrication. None of this is true. While it cannot be proven conclusively that the CHS is the actual tomb site, there is a strong probablity that it is, and there is good evidence to suggest this. The tradition can be traced back to the first century. Thus a tomb was venerated in the first century.

The Church of the Holy Seplechur is owned jointly by three major Christian denominations: The Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and the Arminian Orthodox. The site was chosen and "discovered" to be the orignal tomb of Christ by Constantine in 336 AD when he accompanied his mother to the Holy Land in search of the true cross and other artifacts.


My Argument is not that we can prove that the CHS is the tomb, but that the strong probablity that it was venertaed as the tomb in the frist century, destorys the skeptical claim in books such as The Empty Tomb.The skeptics contributing to that book must disprove the possiblity of the CHS before they can dismiss historicity of the empty tomb.


My arguments will be presented in three major areas:

I. The modern site of CHS is the site Constantine chose; its place in the sourrounding city is an exact fit for the physical and social envoriment of the tomb.


II. Oral tradition guided Constantine's choice, passed down from the Jewish Christian community to the Gentile Chrsitians.

III. Modern archeaology verifies the claims of this tradition.



I. The modern site of CHS is the site Constantine chose; its place in the sourrounding city is an exact fit for the physical and social envoriment of the tomb.



A.Validation of Constantine's site two sources:



(1) The Description of the site itself


The Descriptions given by Eusebius, and by Crusaders in the Middle ages, match the actual site.

Carbo Excavation.


Chruch of The Holy Seplechur--Government of Israel site, visited 6/7/01

http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH00v10


"This courtyard, outside the present-day Church of the Holy Sepulcher, is partly supported by a large, vaulted cistern. The northern wall of this cistern is very impressive, consisting of large blocks with dressed margins, still standing several meters high. It has been suggested that this early wall served as the retaining wall of the second century Hadrianic raised platform (podium). This appears to support Eusebius' statement that the Temple of Venus, which Hadrian erected on the site of Jesus' tomb, stood here before the original church was built."

"The Basilica: Early masonry below the catholicon of the Crusader period was exposed during the excavations. This made possible the reconstruction of the original design of the 4th century basilica. The position of the two central rows of columns in the basilica (out of the four rows) may be determined by the remains of their foundations, which can be seen along the northern and southern sides of the chapel of St. Helena. In a small underground space north of this chapel, a massive foundation wall of the early basilica was exposed. On a large, smoothed stone which was incorporated in this wall, a pilgrim to the original church left a drawing of a merchant ship and the Latin inscription: "O Lord, we shall go." Beneath the apse of the present-day catholicon, part of the apse that marked the western end of the original church was exposed. Eusebius described this apse as being surrounded by twelve columns, symbolizing the twelve apostles."

"The Rotunda and Sepulcher:The most important element of the complex is the rotunda which contains the sepulcher itself. The sepulcher stands in an elaborate structure within the rotunda, surrounded by columns supporting an ornamented, domed roof.Some masonry remains were revealed below the floor and around the perimeter of the rotunda. Wherever bedrock was exposed, there were indications of stone-quarrying in earlier periods. The quarrying operation lowered the surface level around the sepulcher, which thus stood well above its surroundings. An architectural survey of the outer wall of the rotunda - 35 m. in diameter and in some sections preserved to a height of 10 m. - shows that it maintains its original 4th century shape. The sepulcher itself is surrounded by a circle of twelve columns - groups of three columns between four pairs of square piers. It is possible that the columns for the 4th century rotunda were removed from their original location on the facade of the Roman temple. Renovation of the piers exposed evidence that the columns had originally been much higher and that the Crusaders cut them in half for use in the 12th century rotunda.The renovation of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is still in progress, but after generations of neglect, the building has already regained most of its former beauty.

"The survey and excavations were conducted by V. Corbo, Ch. Co√ľasnon, M. Broshi and others, on behalf of the Christian communities which control most of the Holy Sepulcher: the Roman Catholic; the Greek Orthodox; and the Armenian Orthodox."




(2) Description of the Edicule.


The Edicule is the little house put over the tomb to protect it, before the basillica was built. Constantine is known to have put up the first one, and it has been described and documented in many ways. Biddle Traces this developement and finds:


The History of the Edicule

ad communications.org.


"From the time of Constantine to the present day historians have been blessed with the archaeological evidence discovered showing the Edicule in its original form. The following list is only a fraction of what has been retrieved and the approximate dates of their origination.

Appearances of the Edicule (325-1009 ad)

1) 440 a.d.: on ivory casket side carving.
2) a Narbonne marble model (5th century).
3) Casket lid (6-7th century).
4) Pewter flask (6-7th century).
5) Pewter Medallion.
6) Glass Flasks.
7) Pottery Pilgrim Flask (shows Edicule and Golgotha).
8) Gold ring with the 3D Edicule on top.
9) Mosiac in the Church of St. Stephen in Jordan.
10) Bronze Censer casts (1009 a.d.)

Appearances of the Edicule (11th Century -1555)

1) Paintings.
2) Drawings.
3) Crusader Coins/Seals.
4) Models.

Appearances of the Edicule (1555-1808 ad)

1) Stone scale models.
2) Wooden models of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with Edicule model inside.
3) Engravings.
4) Pottery.



Martin Biddle


Tomb of Chist

Israel Review of Arts and Letters

Wesite belonging to:Israel Ministry Foreign Affairs

visited 1/8/05


Biddle:Constantines edicule, the first of the four "little houses" which have covered and protected the remains of the tomb since its discovery in 325-6, was destroyed in 1009 and no fragment of it has been seen since. How then do we know what it looked like? The best evidence is provided by a replica standing about a metre high, cut in a block of Pyrennean marble, found at Narbonne in south-west France, and dating from the fifth or sixth century CE. Being cut in local marble it cannot be a direct copy of the edicule in Jerusalem, but must be based on some intermediate copy, probably itself a model rather than a set of drawings. Its evidence is therefore second-hand, but there are sufficient other sources to show that it is likely to be in architectural terms a close representation of the Jerusalem original. The other fifth to seventh-century sources are pictures in mosaic, moulded pewter flasks and medallions, the painted lid of a box of relics (found in the Lateran in Rome), images on pottery and glass, and the written records of pilgrims. All these sources present their own problems of date and interpretation, but it is a remarkable range of evidence in different media, more evidence perhaps than for any other vanished building of late antiquity. But the picture is confused by the parallel existence of completely fanciful representations, some of the highest artistic quality, in the form of ivory panels carved in Alexandria and Italy. These show idealized edicules, bearing no relation to reality, but they have confused generations of scholars. Only the objects made in Palestine, mostly probably in Jerusalem, for the pilgrim trade, or copying such local products, like the Narbonne marble, tell us what the edicule built by Constantine was really like.

Constantines edicule survived for 600 years until it was deliberately destroyed in 1009 by order of the Fatimid Caliph of Egypt, al-Hakim, in an insane and short-lived attack on the holy sites of Christianity. Within three or four years al-Hakim had relented, urged on by his mother, Maria, a Christian whose brother Orestes had been Patriarch of Jerusalem. By 1012 rebuilding had begun, and by 1014, Maria had "began to rebuild with well-dressed squared stones the Temple of Christ destroyed by her sons order."

The destruction had been very thorough: Constantines great church of the Martyrion was cut down and never rebuilt, but al-Hakims agents admitted that they could not entirely root out the tomb, and they left parts of the rotunda surrounding the tomb standing to a height of about 11 metres, as one can still see today. By the millennium of Christs crucifixion in 1030 or thereabouts, when thousands of pilgrims were again travelling to the Holy Land, the edicule and the rotunda had been put back into sufficient order for pilgrims to take part in the Easter liturgies and to observe the ceremony of the Descent of the Holy Fire.

William of Tyre, the great Crusader historian, who wrote in the 1160s and 1170s, says that the restoration was completed by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos in 1048. William is our only evidence for this, and his indications of date are inconsistent. No Byzantine chronicler believed this. John Skylitzes, writing in the mid-11th century, a strictly contemporary witness, noted that the Emperor Romanos III (1028-34) "strove eagerly to take the rebuilding in hand; but his death intervened and his successor completed the work." This was the Emperor Michael IV, the Paphlagonian, who reigned from 1036-41.



Biddle traces the full history in the article (see link).


The shapes and appearances have been correlated by the Biddle excavation using advanced thechnology wihch enable the archaeologist to see inside to the orignal layer. The Ediclues was repaced many times wiht scuceeding layers, until it became onionlike, hiding an original core of Constantine's Dome, which has now been penitrated by Biddle using the most advanced technology. There is virtually no doubt that the CHS is the site Constantine chose.


Secrets of the Dead (PBS)



In addition to the traditional methods used by archeologists to study buildings, including taking comprehensive and detailed photographs and studying ancient documents and drawings, archeologists Martin and Birthe Biddle and their colleagues employed a number of sophisticated scientific techniques to examine the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the edicule that purportedly houses the Tomb of Christ.

The primary technology used in their survey of the site was photogrammetry, which allows researchers to create two or three-dimensional images of a structure from any vantage point. The data from which the images are constructed comes from conventional or digital photographs. Not just any photographs, however; they have to include small, reflective "targets" stuck on walls or other surfaces with adhesive. The targets have cross-hairs, which allow their exact location to be measured with a surveying tool called a theodolite. From the location of the targets, an imaginary coordinate grid is constructed in and around the entire site -- within the edicule of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, for example. "When you take your photographs you have, preferably, four of these targets in each one," says Martin Biddle. The photographs are taken in "stereopairs," overlapping images that, when viewed in a certain way, form a three dimensional image of an object. "The stereopairs are set up in a photogrammetric plotter with the coordinate values you know from your survey. Thereafter, you can plot any point in the stereo image in terms of that coordinate grid. You know the x and y and z axes -- up and down and sideways," Biddle explains. "Once you have that data in, you can instruct the machine to print out a view looking up from underneath, or down from above -- whatever way you want."



http://www.bib-arch.org/barso99/roll2.html

B. Site's Physical and Social Fit in the Jerusalem Environment



(1)Site location is right in Relation to City Wall

One of the major means of identification is through the relation to the city wall. They know where the tomb was suppossed to be in relation to the wall and that gives a vector in which to begin searching. Than there are two other peices of crucial evidence, the description by Eusebius and artifacts which link the site with the tomb.

ad communications.org

The Tomb of Jesus, where is it?


"In 1963 Archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon while digging near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher proved that at the time of the Crucificion, the Church location was outside the walls of the Old City, during a dig a 49 ft. trench revealed a quarry which was in used between the 7th century b.c. and the first century. Additional support comes from the middle 1960's where repairs were given to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (floor) as well as a nearby Lutheran Church where quarrying evidence and pottery was uncovered. In addition to these discoveries the 1976 excavation by Dr. Christos Katsambinis revealed a cone-shaped grey rock with an incline (35 ft. high) probably the famed Golgotha which had two small caves that from a distance looked like a large skull (E.B. Blaiklock and R.K. Harrison)."




(2) Site was a Cemetary with Garden


Martin Biddle

Tomb of Chist

Israel Review of Arts and Letters

Israel Ministry Foreign Affairs


"It is not as if it was the only tomb there. Some eight rock-cut tombs have so far been found below the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Some have kokhim (Heb.), the deep niches at right-angles to the wall into which a body could be inserted as into the drawers of a modern mortuary. At least one of these tombs (now below the Coptic Patriarchate) seems to be very like the tomb whose remains are still today covered by the edicule. Perhaps Eusebius identified the tomb now preserved within the edicule as the Tomb of Christ because it was near to Golgotha. This is suggested in St. Johns Gospel when it says that there was a "garden" at the place of Crucifixion, and that in that garden there was a tomb. But it may also have been because of the features of the tomb then discovered: a movable rolling stone, a low entrance through which it was necessary to bend down to look in or enter, and a bench on the right-hand side where Christs body could have lain and the "angel" could have sat, matched those described in the Gospel."




(3) Name Galgotha Stuck to the Site.



"Some points are crucial to note. First, the site was outside the city walls at the date of the Crucifixion in 30 or 33 CE. Second, the tomb was in an existing Jewish cemetery of rock-cut tombs typical of the Jerusalem area in the Second Temple period. Third, the place-name Golgotha seems to have lived on in local memory, despite the vast changes in the area brought about by Hadrians foundation of Aelia Capitolina in 132 CE. Before the end of the third century, Eusebius wrote in his Onomastikon, the "Place-Names of Palestine," that: "... Golgotha, place of a skull, where the Christ was crucified ... which is pointed out in Aelia to the north of Mt. Sion."

"It is only in recent years that study of Eusebius text has shown that the writing of his Onomastikon should be dated to the late third century, perhaps to the 290s, long before Constantines workers cleared the Rock of Golgotha and uncovered the tomb.

There was thus a landmark to guide Constantines workmen. They removed the Roman temple covering the site and the masses of earth and rubble forming the platform on which it stood, cleared the Rock of Golgotha and then, to their surprise, found a tomb which fitted the Gospel descriptions. The position is best put by the Israeli scholar Dan Bahat, former City Archaeologist of Jerusalem:

"We may not be absolutely certain that the site of the Holy Sepulchre Church is the site of Jesus burial, but we certainly have no other site that can lay a claim nearly as weighty, and we really have no reason to reject the authenticity of the site."




II. Site Location Handed on by Oral Tradition.


No one really knows how Contantine chose the site. Biddle thinks it was by graffiti found on the walls. Most historians beileve that the Jewish-Christian community passed on an orgal tradition telling their Genitle counterparts how to find the location.



A. Location Handed Down From First Century Jewish Christians, To Gentile Christians, to Eusebius.


New Advent
Catholic Encyclopeida
Holy Seplechur

A.L. MCMAHON
Transcribed by Robert B. Olson

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07425a.htm


"But nearly all scholars maintain that the knowledge of the place was handed down by oral tradition, and that the correctness of this knowledge was proved by the investigations caused to be made in 326 by the Emperor Constantine, who then marked the site for future ages by erecting over the Tomb of Christ a basilica, in the place of which, according to an unbroken written tradition, now stands the church of the Holy Sepulchre."



The oral tradition makes the most sense because it would give the clearest marker. Of course it is true that Constantine could have just chosen the site at random, or for some other reason. But oral tradition is alluded to by Eusebius, and it is validated by modern archaeology. Before getting into that, let's explore the tradition itself.



B. Tradition linked to First Century.

Several issues that skeptics will raise include: 1)the tradition only began in the foruth century, 2) That Helena just chose the site arbitrarily, 3) that the site was moved in the middle ages, 4) that legonds and "traditions" are worthless. But all of these are false. The tradition can be linked to the first century..

New Advent
Catholic Encyclopeida
Holy Seplechur

A.L. MCMAHON

Transcribed by Robert B. Olson


1) Site remembered by Jewish Christian Community after departure from Jerusalem in 60.


"These scholars contend that the original members of the nascent Christian Church in Jerusalem visited the Holy Sepulchre soon, if not immediately, after the Resurrection of the Saviour. Following the custom of their people, those who were converts from Judaism venerated, and taught their children to venerate, the Tomb in which had lain the Foundation of their new faith, from which had risen the Source of their eternal hope; and which was therefore more sacred and of greater significance to them than had been the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David, which they had hitherto venerated, as their forefathers had for centuries. Nor would Gentile converts have failed to unite with them in this practice, which was by no means foreign to their own former customs.



2) Christian Community Re-established in Second Century.

"The Christians who were in Jerusalem when Titus laid siege to the city in the year 70 fled, it is true, across the Jordan to Pella; but, as the city was not totally destroyed, and as there was no law prohibiting their return, it was possible for them to take up their abode there again in the year 73, about which time, according to Dr. Sanday (Sacred Sites of the Gospels, Oxford, 1903), they really did re-establish themselves. But, granting that the return was not fully made until 122, one of the latest dates proposed, there can be no doubt that in the restored community there were many who knew the location of the Tomb, and who led to it their children, who would point it out during the next fifty years. The Roman prohibition which kept Jews from Jerusalem for about two hundred years, after Hadrian had suppressed the revolt of the Jews under Barcochebas (132-35), may have included Jewish converts to Christianity; but it is possible that it did not. It certainly did not include Gentile converts."



3) Tradition past from Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem to Gentile Christians.


"The list of Bishops of Jerusalem given by Eusebius in the fourth century shows that there was a continuity of episcopal succession, and that in 135 a Jewish line was followed by a Gentile. The tradition of the local community was undoubtedly strengthened from the beginning by strangers who, having heard from the Apostles and their followers, or read in the Gospels, the story of Christ's Burial and Resurrection, visited Jerusalem and asked about the Tomb that He had rendered glorious."



C.Trial of Witnesses from Second Century to Contantine.


1)Pilgrims.

[Ibid]

"It is recorded that Melito of Sardis visited the place where "these things [of the Old Testament] were formerly announced and carried out". As he died in 180, his visit was made at a time when he could receive the tradition from the children of those who had returned from Pella. After this it is related that Alexander of Jerusalem (d. 251) went to Jerusalem "for the sake of prayer and the investigation of the places", and that Origen (d. 253) "visited the places for the investigation of the footsteps of Jesus and of His disciples". By the beginning of the fourth century the custom of visiting Jerusalem for the sake of information and devotion had become so frequent that Eusebius wrote, that Christians "flocked together from all parts of the earth". It is at this period that history begins to present written records of the location of the Holy Sepulchre. The earliest authorities are the Greek Fathers, Eusebius (c.260-340), Socrates (b.379), Sozomen (375-450), the monk Alexander (sixth century), and the Latin Fathers, Rufinus (375-410), St. Jerome (346-420), Paulinus of Nola (353-431), and Sulpitius Severus" (363-420).



2) Eusebius.

[Ibid]
Of these the most explicit and of the greatest importance is Eusebius, who writes of the Tomb as an eyewitness, or as one having received his information from eyewitnesses. The testimonies of all having been compared and analysed may be presented briefly as follows: Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, conceived the design of securing the Cross of Christ, the sign of which had led her son to victory. Constantine himself, having long had at heart a desire to honour "the place of the Lord's Resurrection", "to erect a church at Jerusalem near the place that is called Calvary", encouraged her design, and giving her imperial authority, sent her with letters and money to Macarius, the Bishop of Jerusalem. Helena and Macarius, having made fruitless inquiries as to the existence of the Cross, turned their attention to the place of the Passion and Resurrection, which was known to be occupied by a temple of Venus erected by the Romans in the time of Hadrian, or later. The temple was torn down, the ruins were removed to a distance, the earth beneath, as having been contaminated, was dug up and borne far away. Then, "beyond the hopes of all, the most holy monument of Our Lord's Resurrection shone forth" (Eusebius, "Life of Constantine", III, xxviii). Near it were found three crosses, a few nails, and an inscription such as Pilate ordered to be placed on the Cross of Christ. The accounts of the finding of the Holy Sepulchre thus summarized have been rejected by some on the ground that they have an air of improbability, especially in the attribution of the discovery to "an inspiration of the Saviour", to "Divine admonitions and counsels", and in the assertions that, although the Tomb had been covered by a temple of Venus for upwards of two centuries, its place was yet known."


Of course, Corfeld says that these pagan monuments, intended to defile the site and make it unfit for veneration, only served to mark the location, so that Christains could remember where it was by marking the pagan monument.There are more serious considerations which I do not have time to address here. I suggest that the reader click on the link above and read the entire article. But the point here is that, unlike many skeptics try to claim, the situation is not that no one ever heard of the site before Contantine; he did not pull it out of think air. There is a traceable tradition going back to the fist century.


D. Site not questioned until 18th century.

[Ibid]
"It was not until the eighteenth century that the authenticity of this tomb was seriously doubted. The tradition in its favour was first formally rejected by Korte in his "Reise nach dem gelobten Lande" (Altona, 1741). In the nineteenth century he had many followers, some of whom were content with simply denying that it is the Holy Sepulchre, because it lies within the city walls, while others went further and proposed sites outside the walls. No one, however, has pointed out any other tomb that has a shred of tradition in its favour."

Why I Do Not Find Authorship a Compelling Issue

I do not consider it necessary that the gospels be written by their namesakes in order to consider them properly canonical and inspired by God. The major reason for looking at it this way is because the Gospels are not products of any one author. This is the way modern scholarship approaches the Gospels (see Luke Timonty Johnson--Ancient Christian Writtings). Due to the redaction process, and prior to redaction the fact that the Gospel material is extracted from an oral tradition which wound up in pre Markan saying sources, each Gospel is seen as the proaction of a community rather than an individual.

This communal authorship works both for and against an Evangelical position. Adjacent an Evangelical faith, it argues that the Gospel text is not inerrent, that it has mistakes and is transmitted by unknown persons whose identities cannot be pinned down. Indeed, to many atheists that's just the same as saying the authorship credentials are worthless and the Gospels cannot be verified. It works for an Evangelical faith commitment in that it grounds authorship not in specific personalities but in whole communities. The communal nature of early Christianity is well known, but often misunderstood. The transmission of the Gospel story is seen through the eyes of skeptics as the random transmission of wild rumors. Bautlmann's work on form criticism is understood as a condemnation to any eye witness appeal, and the Gospels are dismissed as a mass of unintelligible gibberish. But in reality, a lot of good work has been done on understanding early community as a controlled environment for the dissemination of information.

The best work for beginning this process of understanding is that of Oscar Cullman's The Johannine Circle(Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976) that first proposed the Johoninne community as a control environment, and much has been done sense then on that theme (see also:Robinson, James M. "The Johannine Trajectory," in: idem and Helmut Koester, Trojectories Trhough Early Christinity, Fortress Press 1971).A Doctoral dissertation at University of Dallas in the 1980s, The Mattrnew School, analyzed Matthew as the product of a community. When I say community I mean a commune. We know from Acts that the early Jerusalem church pooled their belongings and lived together and broke bread daily to study the teachings of Jesus and the OT prophets. Most scholars today argue that it was out of this time and place that the understanding of Jesus as messiah and his death as atonement were worked up and applied to the tragic events that galvanized the community of his followers, and having discovered this happy spin, some scholars argue, the resurrections stories for were forged. Of course that assumes the resurrection even didn't happen. On the other hand, there is no particular reason why one can't reverse the process; out of the realization of a risen savior the church used this communal structure to being a process of transmission which safeguarded the testimony of the community.

Oral cultures do not create oral traditions Willie Nile. Oral traditions are both constructed and passed on out of a very careful process. The passing of oral tradition is highly contextualized. They don't just allow anybody to stand on a street corner and make up some new story. Only officially recognized bards or story tellers can pass on the information. In cultures where the oral tradition is more than bardic, the information is relied through Rabbinical or other teaching authority. It is highly likely that the early communities, as they fragmented around Jerusalem, Samaria, and Antioch the verus members of that original community split off and went to live with the verus Christian communities. They guarded the transmission of the events surrounding Jesus' life and death and resurrection and most likely corrected errors of misspellings. The main thing is, this only had to go on for 20 years. After that point the testimony became written and the safeguarding was all in the test.

Of course I can't prove that this is really the way it happened. But it is most likely because there was a whole community, if we believe that Gospel accounts which witnessed the risen Christ and that's probably where Paul's 500 come in. This was the community Bethany where Jesus and his disciples stroll in the last couple of chapters of Luke just before the assignation. We also have a community in the Galilee where much of Jesus ministry took place, and we have one in Jerusalem where the last part took place. In each of these locations whole groups of people would have been part of the events and witness to Jesus preaching and teaching, and miracle working. It is the whole community of the early faithful that produced the Gospels through this process of oral tradition and redaction, and they were working from a carefully controlled process through which real eye witnesses corrected the mistakes of transmission.

Evangelicals do not like this idea because it departs from the old familiar truth tree. The truth tree was asserted by Josh McDonnell and seemed to give a much needed credibility to the Gospels. That was a major factor in getting my attention as a young college atheist, way back when. But the truth tree was an old argument which McDowell resurrected. It was first established by second century Orthodoxy and was never as clear cut and dried as McDowell would have us believe. Be that as it may, there are indications that some authoritative eye witnesses stand behind each of the Gospels, yet they do not have to be the ones traditionally assigned. For example, I am convinced that the author of John was an eye witnesses to Jesus life and ministry but that he was not the Apostle John. Clearly he was someone to whom the original community attached a great deal of significance, someone who had seen the original events unfold. The Elders of the community make a big deal out of who he was, and material of John is so heavily redacted it seems clearly to be the production of a greatly debated body of teaching that had been circulating through its respective community for a long time. I think the most likely candidate for authorial of the fourth Gospel is the Elder John of whom Papas speaks. He was a disciple although not the Apostle. He may also be the author of the epistles of John, who does call himself "the Elder." The difference in style is accounted for by the redaction process. the Elders of the community at the end of the book make it clear that they are compiling the teachings of this amazing person, this beloved disciple. So they are not recycling his words like notes at a college lecture. They are unpacking the summary of a very long and intenseness berate process that has torn a community apart. I'll say more on that but one can read about it on my John Page.

Matthew was most likely a narrativeal structure placed over the oriental saying source constructed by the Apostle Matthew. That can't be proven, but it makes sense given the testimony of Papias concerning the "loggia." But it is not necessary for the actual Apostle Matthew to have had anything to do with the book for it to be inspired. Even if we can't defend the specific personalities involved, there is no reason to about the basic information based upon the idea of community as author.

Evangelical apologists are sometimes uncomfortable with this notion of communal authorship. Some of them site the notion that its' too "liberal" (the evil buzz word). It caters to the enlightenment notion that the Bible has to have verification of logic, reason, and historicity. But when we look at what Evangelical scholars are doing, they are more often than not using these same ideas to verify the autoharp. That's why Layman is doing, and I dot' think he would have a problem with doing that, to the extent that it can be done; as I have no problem with asserting one's faith in the authorship of the namesakes. It's all a matter of what we think will reach people. I have never seen obscurantism reach any skeptic. It's true because it's the word of God and that's you need to know, is not a useful apologetic ploy. Either defending traditional authorship or not, I have no problem either way. But I dot' find it necessary to do so.

a more detailed expalination from my stie "Doxa."


Community as Author


We do not have to know the exact identity of the authors, because the original material comes from the community itself


A.Eye Witness check in Community.


B.Oral tradition was not uncontroled.

Oral tradition in first-century Judaism was not uncontrolled as was/is often assumed, based on comparisons with non-Jewish models. From pg. 53-55 in B.D. Chilton and C.A. Evans (eds.), "Authenticating the Activities of Jesus" (NTTS, 28.2; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998):


"...[T]he early form criticism tied the theory of oral transmission to the conjecture that Gospel traditions were mediated like folk traditions, being freely altered and even created ad hoc by various and sundry wandering charismatic jackleg preachers. This view, however, was rooted more in the eighteenth century romanticism of J. G. Herder than in an understanding of the handling of religious tradition in first-century Judaism. As O. Cullmann, B. Gerhardsson, H. Riesenfeld and R. Riesner have demonstrated, [22] the Judaism of the period treated such traditions very carefully, and the New Testament writers in numerous passages applied to apostolic traditions the same technical terminology found elsewhere in Judaism for 'delivering', 'receiving', 'learning', 'holding', 'keeping', and 'guarding', the traditioned 'teaching'. [23] In this way they both identified their traditions as 'holy word' and showed their concern for a careful and ordered transmission of it. The word and work of Jesus were an important albeit distinct part of these apostolic traditions.

"Luke used one of the same technical terms, speaking of eyewitnesses who 'delivered to us' the things contained in his Gospel and about which his patron Theophilus had been instructed. Similarly, the amanuenses or co-worker-secretaries who composed the Gospel of John speak of the Evangelist, the beloved disciple, 'who is witnessing concerning these things and who wrote these things', as an eyewitness and a member of the inner circle of Jesus' disciples.[24] In the same connection it is not insignificant that those to whom Jesus entrusted his teachings are not called 'preachers' but 'pupils' and 'apostles', semi-technical terms for those who represent and mediate the teachings and instructions of their mentor or principal.
[25]

------------------ 22. O. Cullmann, "The Tradition," in Cullmann, The Early Church (London: SCM Press; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1956) 55-99; B. Gerhardsson The Origins of the Gospel Traditions (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979); H. Riesenfeld The Gospel Tradition (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970) 1-29; Riesner, Jesus als Lehrer.

23. Rom 6:17; 16:17; 1 Cor 11:2, 23; 15:3; Phil 4:9; Col 2:6-7; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6; 2 Tim 3:14; Titus 1:9; 2 John 9-10; Jude 3: Rev 2:13, 24. Cf. Abot 1:1; Philo, The Worse Attacks the Better 65-68. 24. John 19:35; 21:24-25; cf. 13:23; 18:15-16; 19:26-27; 20:1-10; 21:7, 21-23. Cf. J. A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976) 298-311. 25. On parallels with other rabbis and their disciples and other Jewish usage cf. Mark 2:18 = Luke 5:33; K.H. Rengstorf TDNT 1 (1964) 412-43;.TDNT 4 (1967) 431-55.

Also, there wasn't an necessarily a long period of solely oral transmission as has been assumed:

"Under the influence of R. Bultmann and M. Dibelius the classical form criticism raised many doubts about the historicity of the Synoptic Gospels, but it was shaped by a number of literary and historical assumptions which themselves are increasingly seen to have a doubtful historical basis. It assumed, first of all, that the Gospel traditions were transmitted for decades exclusively in oral form and began to be fixed in writing only when the early Christian anticipation of a soon end of the world faded. This theory foundered with the discovery in 1947 of the library of the Qumran sect, a group contemporaneous with the ministry of Jesus and the early church which combined intense expectation of the End with prolific writing. Qumran shows that such expectations did not inhibit writing but actually were a spur to it. Also, the widespread literacy in first-century Palestinian Judaism [18], together with the different language backgrounds of Jesus' followers--some Greek, some Aramaic, some bilingual--would have facilitated the rapid written formulations and transmission of at least some of Jesus' teaching.[19]" (p. 53-54)

------------------ 18. Cf. Josephus, Against Apion 2.25 204: The Law "orders that (children) should be taught to read."; cf. idem, Ant. 12.4.9 209; Philo, Embassy to Gaius 115, 210, Further, see R. Riesner, Jesus als Lehrer (WUNT 2.7; Tubingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1981; 4th ed., 1998) 112-15. 19. Jesus had hearers and doubtless some converts from Syria (Matt 4:25), the Decapolis (Matt 4:25; Mark 3:8; 5:20; 7:31), Tyre and Sidon (Mark 3:8; 7:24, 31; Matt 15:21).

N. T. Wright, critiquing the Jesus Seminar's view of oral tradition as uncontrolled and informal based on some irrelevant research done in modern Western non-oral societies writes:

"Against this whole line of thought we must set the serious study of genuinely oral traditions that has gone on in various quarters recently. [65] (p. 112-113)

--------------- 65. For example, see H. Wansbrough (ed.), Jesus and the Oral Gospel Tradition (JSNTSup 64; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991), referring to a large amount of earlier work; Bailey, "Informal Controlled Oral Tradition," 34-54. The following discussion depends on these and similar studies, and builds on Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, 418-43; and idem, Jesus and the Victory of God, 133-37.


"Communities that live in an oral culture tend to be story-telling communities. They sit around in long evenings telling and listening to stories--the same stories, over and over again. Such stories, especially when they are involved with memorable happenings that have determined in some way the existence and life of the particular group in question, acquire a fairly fixed form, down to precise phraseology (in narrative as well as in recorded speech), extremely early in their life--often within a day or so of the original incident taking place. They retain that form, and phraseology, as long as they are told. Each village and community has its recognized storytellers, the accredited bearers of its traditions; but the whole community knows the stories by heart, and if the teller varies them even slightly they will let him know in no uncertain terms. This matters quite a lot in cultures where, to this day, the desire to avoid 'shame' is a powerful motivation. "Such cultures do also repeat, and hence transmit, proverbs, and pithy sayings. Indeed, they tend to know far more proverbs than the orally starved modern Western world. But the circulation of such individual sayings is only the tip of the iceberg; the rest is narrative, narrative with embedded dialogue, heard, repeated again and again within minutes, hours and days of the original incident, and fixed in memories the like of which few in the modern Western world can imagine. The storyteller in such a culture has no license to invent or adapt at will. The less important the story, the more the entire community, in a process that is informal but very effective, will keep a close watch on the precise form and wording with which the story is told. "And the stories about Jesus were nothing if not important. Even the Jesus Seminar admits that Jesus was an itinerant wonder-worker. Very well. Supposing a woman in a village is suddenly healed after a lengthy illness. Even today, even in a non-oral culture, the story of such an event would quickly spread among friends, neighbors and relatives, acquiring a fixed form within the first two or three retellings and retaining it, other things being equal, thereafter. In a culture where storytelling was and is an art-form, a memorable event such as this, especially if it were also seen as a sign that Israel's God was now at last at work to do what he had always promised, would be told at once in specific ways, told so as to be not just a celebration of a healing but also a celebration of the Kingdom of God. Events and stories of this order are community-forming, and the stories which form communities do not get freely or loosely adapted. One does not disturb the foundations of the house in which one is living."[B.D. Chilton and C.A. Evans (eds.), Authenticating the Activities of Jesus (NTTS, 28.2; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998) p. 113-115.]


Summary:

In addition to all of this we have corss referencing with the Pauline Corpus and with extra cononical sources. What all of this tells us is that the transmission process kept a stable and reiable body of inforiation in circulation to the time of writitng the texts. This time of texts Kosters places at AD 50 and Corsson and others back him on this. See Helmutt Koster's Ancient Christian Gospels for a brilliant exposition on these sources. What all of this amounts to is the unfolding of a complete defense of the historicity of the Gospels without the truth tree of torch passing from teacher to student. Becasue the studnets are the community tiself, and the community then becomes the teacher. But all of thse had to be kept in place only 20 years, and to that point eye witnesses would still have been alive. There is validation in the historical sources of the Pauline Cropus. IN other words we know there was a Peter, and Peter was a major player in the original events, he lived in Paul's time, met Paul and was able to relate his information to Paul. Thus the total body of sources backing the histoircity of Godples includes:

(1) Texts themselves
(2) community as author
(3) Pauline corpus
(4) extra cononical works themselves
(5) Pre Markan redaction refleted in readings of the Diatesseron
(6) works of Apostlic fathers.

If all of this seems far too empirically bassed for the pure of heart, it is the bread and butter of modern apologetics. In short, liberal textual ciriticism is useful. Stop throughing stones and start making use of it.

About the Gay Issue

I havent' said this because I feel that I shouldn't have make protestations about my own oreintation. If I do, it looks like I"m defensive. But now I will becasue I have a point to make. (Nuc nuc nuc).

I have always had a visseral reaction round gays (when more than one is present).I can with one indiviudal friend who is gay the topic never comes up and we have a good converstation. But in a crowd of gay people, or in the home of a gay couple, when they began rubbing and stuff, I feel very uncomfortable. I used to have occasion to hand out with gays in my political activist days because they were an important part of our little leftie coalition in Dallas. You can well imagine how, in Dallas Texas, a leftist coalition can ill afford to lose any members.

Eventually I came to realize that I felt that visseral reaction becasue I'm not gay. That doestn' mean they are bad, it means that's not for me. Being the mature person I am, I don't confusse that sense of turned offness with any kind of actual proof about God's will or the eternal state of gay people.

I think the real acid test of knowing you aren't gay is that you aren't attracted to people of your own sex. But I find in arguing with certain funamenatlists, they seem to constantly imply that I am gay! They just assume so, even when I flatly deny it. This is the frsit time I defended this position that the Bible doesnt' condmen it. I denfeded it on a popular Christian message board, and some of the other side kept sticking in little implications. One guy thought he had to keep making brave manly statments like "we wont let you corrupt our children."

This same guy blurted out "that's why you hate the book of Jude." (!)(???) where that came from I will never know. I said nothing about hating the book of Jude, and I promise, I do not hate the book of Jude. I have opinions on it, some I'ms sure our stalward defender of sexual morality will not appreciate, but I certainly don't hate it.

the thing is, this peranoid reaction tells me more about him than it does about the issues. I mean so much peranoid knee jerk reaction one starts to get the idea that they are trying to convence themselves. "I'm not gay! Not like you are, no! Nope! no I'm not, don't even think that, I'm reallly not!" What does that suggest?


The Biblicality of the issue revolves around the status of impurity vs. real sin. In trying to research this topic I discover that there aer only a couple of impurities which have death penutly as their prescrition. But there is only one that is in Numbers or Leviticus and not repeated in Dueteronomy. That would be this activity. So while the issue is very serious, since in one book death is the penalty, that still doesn't make it a sin. I wonder if the real upshot of that isn't a civil matter. In other words it was considreed a civil violation and not a religious one.

btw I don't like watching hetero couples who are on the verge of making out in public either, but I think that's a different thing. I feel that they are showing off.

OK I have a sudden urge to watch a Judy Garland movie now.

God argument no1

Now go through the steps one by one and show me what's wrong with my logic?

Being Has to Be.



A. Logic of the Argument.

P1)Nothingness as a putative state of affiars (PSA) is impossilbe;it is a contradiction in terms since a PSA is something and thus cannot be total absolute nothingness.

P2)The concept of Nothingness as PSA is incoherent; What would total absolute nothingness mean? Even when Physicists speak of "nothing" they don't mean real absolute nothingness.

P3) If Nothingness were the PSA nothing could ever come to be; it cold not rise in time because time is something and thus the PSA would already contradict itself; it could not rise beyond time, since there is no change or causality beyond time.

P4) Thus, Nothingness cannot be a PSA, and therefore, something must have always been for all eternity.

P5) Since this "Something" has to be eternal, it must be necessary and without cause; Being Itself is the logially necessary candidate since the nature of Being is to be.

P6)Therefore, Being Itself, or the Ground of Being is eternal, uncreated, necessary being, and must be the thing that has given rise to all other things that come to be.

P7) These attrbutes, necessary, eternal, fist cause, creator of all that is, are the very crucial attributes of God.

P These attributes are mutually exclucive, that is, they could only be held by one enetity, and cannot shared in the same way at the same time; this can be seen immidately from the logic of he case; how could there be two grounds of being? How could there be two first causes or two things that are logcially necessary to have been the PSA?

P9) Therefore, God and the Ground of Being, or Being Itself must share identity.

P10) Since we Know that Being is, we know that God is.
Metacrock: Have Theology, Will Argue!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

New Controversy

Something I've been studying, becasue I've seen so much animosity unfolding in the chruch.

We have reached a time in the history of the chruch when we have got to stop tearing the chruch apart in a civil war over conflicting issues of morality. We must simpley cease demonizing those who do not think as we do. We must cesase meaningless prattle about how clear the truth is and strating to understand the other person. Try to think "maybe they have a reason for seeing that way."


OK Im still not committed to a position, but in the interest of showing people that nothing is as cut and dried as we sometimes think they are, as a cautionary tale against pride in the clear cut, I will show that the verses that seem the most anti-gay really give pause.


Romans 1: 18-32

the problem here is that the words used to suggest the moral status of homosexual acts are actually not words connoting sin, but impurity. You probalby assume as I once did that impurity equals sin, such is not necessarily the case. for example, going to a furneral would make a Jew unclean, or impure. Now does that mean we are going to hell everytime we go t a funeral? We have to get square again to get back in God's grace form the wretched abominable state of funeral going?

How many Evangelicals mix two fabrics in the same garment? Let their wives go to chruch in new dreses with make up and jewelry? These are things that were described as impurity in the Levitical code. Why do we not morun and put a stop to them and call those who do them inhuman and austrocize them?


"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness (asebeia) and wickedness (adikia) of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is palin to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

"Therefore God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts to impurity (akatharsia), to the degrading (atimazesthai) of their bodies among thmeselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Notice at this point they already had the sin, and homosexuality is not counted among the sinful things, but as impurity. First they had the sin, then they are given over to impurity. The upshot of impurity is no holiness=not knowing God. Note, given over to impurity it says they didn't know God. But it doestn' count with the actual sins.

"For this reason God gave them up to degrading (atimias) passions. Their women exchanged natural (physiken) intercourse for unnatural (para physin), and in the same way also the men, giving up natural (physiken) intercourse with women, were consumed with passion one for another. Men comitted shameless (dishonorable)(aschemosyne) acts with men and recieved in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled (pepleromenous) with every kind of wickedness (adikia), evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God's decree, that those who do such things deserve to die-- yet they not only do them but applaud those who practice them."



Of course we all know that only gays are prideful and ruthless, foolish ect ect. right? certinly hetero's are never that way. Of course you know I"m kidding. So we all know gays that do NOT fit this discrition, we all know heteros who do. So that is NOT a sing or a way to tell, it is not indicative of what gayness leads to.

But he's talking about human deprativty he's going to wind up telling the reader that we are all depraved and we cannot make ourselves rigetous by keeping the law. along the way he dsecribes a degeration of humanity from knwoing God to idolotors, but we read ito the mix the assumption that homosex is the very worst thing, and so when it comes to that he must be describing the worst thing on earth, right? Wrong.

Its not that clear cut because the words that pertain to homosexual relations used above do not petain to actual sin. The verse Paul speaks of lesbians is the only one in the bible that pertains to them.

The words pertain to that which is unnaural. We assume unnatural equals sin, but that can never be demonstrated in scripture. Moreover, it doesn't mean "Unnatural" In the sense that it's agaisnt physicla nature, it means unnatural for us in a cutlural sense.

taken for example the word (physiken) that is used to describe the kinds of realtions given up by the women in exchange for the wrong kind, the woamn on woman which is (para physin). Both come from the word "phsysis" or Phusys, meaning the natural or relam of nature. (we get our workd "phsics" from those words). para Phyusin just means "not natural." para has many meanings but it can mean the oppossite of something. Well this term doesnt' mean necessarily natural as in contrary to the laws of nature. But means natural as in easy, expected, appropriate. In other words, if it is ashamed for a man to have long hair, it isn't because his hair wont grow, it's because it is normal and expected that he should cut it.

in other words, the term applies to that which is culturally acceptabel. Para Physin applies to that which is not culturally acceptabel. So he's saying that after beign loaded up with iniquity because they turned their backs on God, they then turned to starnge pracitces which the Jews find wired, but not necessarily saying those practices are sinful.

the point of his discourse is not to show homosexuality is wrong, but to show us that we are not capable of bineg holy without God's grace. That is why he ends the passage by saying "you who criticize these people for these things do you do things just as bad, "you are not an idolotor, do you rob temples?"


Another verse that seems on the surface, the way it's translated to issue a blanket statment that homsexuals are among the most viel and will go to hell, turns out ot be very ambiguous and not at all clear cut.





1 Corinthians -10





"Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, {1Cr 6:10)
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."


Let's look at two key words in this text:


Effiminate = Malakos:


soft, soft to the touch
metaph. in a bad sense
effeminate
of a catamite
of a boy kept for homosexual relations with a man
of a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness
of a male prostitute



Homosexual = arsenokoites:

"abusers of self with minkind" or more intelligent than Strong's "those who defile themselves with other men."

Do we know that that is actually talking about Gays? Well, it could be. But if you consider male prostitutes or the kinds of relationships the greeks had, it's not necessarily just talking about any "gay" men. It may not even really be refurring to homosexuals at all, but giving the translators some benifit of a doubt, it could be more speicific than just any gays.

That's the out that I see on either passage; it could be talking about prostitutes and not faithfull metro chruch goes who remian monogomous with each other.







Here's another odd thing about the issue. In the verse under discussion above Paul uses the term Malakos (effeminate). One possible defintion is that of a boy kept for homosexual purposes by an older man. So he says this guy wont make it into the kingdom. But, why not the older man? Why would the boy be the villian? Why not the older guy?

That could be what he means by "those who abuse themselves with others." But then this could change the interp either way. It lends credence to the idea that the homosexual act itself is wrong. It also means Paul is speaking specifically about the kinds of relationships the greeks had and not just any gay relationship.

The latter is more likely, since the only reason to conclude the former would be to put the emphasis upon the act itself, but I dont' know that the word does that; by including both the members of the pair, he seems to be condmen whole relationship, which was maked by force, impossition of a powerful figure upon a socially weak figure who had no choice, and inapproriate age grouping, where older man uses young boy. By including both members he seems to be commenting more on the dynamic of the relationship rather than the actual act.

So the upshot is:

(1) where Paul discusses the actual beahviors and desires of homosexuality, he seems to conmden them only as violations of impurity laws, not as actual sin.

(2) where he does condmen homosexuality as sin it seems to pertian more to the reltaionship dynamic found in ancient greaco-roman soicity not just any homosxual desire per se. To that extent, the use of a young boy as a male prosititute seems to be the kind of things he's condmening.

To that extent are we so sure about condmening some gay couple who faitfully attend a metro chruch, who truely believe in christ and who are not invovled in a wild and gross life? Of course we can believe they all are and let our imaginations run wild, that tells me more about us than it does "them."