Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How is my debate coming along?

I posted a speech I made in a debate with Doug Shaver, my friend on T. Web. I had to actually shave down the content (no pun) because of a word limit, so the version posted on this blog was not the real version that is seen on T-web. What I'm posting here today is my first rebuttal. This is as it appears on the site. That's why my responses are ground down to chopping little incomplete sentences. The whole thing is little more than an outline. you can see the entire debate, in all its glory, here.

I like Shaver he's a nice guy. The issue is "that the Gospels are no historical." I am on the negation of that resolution. I made a fundamental mistake, I assumed he would not be so brazen as to make the Gospel authors out to be mere fiction writers, as though they were ancient John Steinbecks, considered only with writing good fiction. Guess what? He actually does argue that. By the time I figured this out it was in rebuttals and as I had harped upon no new arguments in rebuttals I didn't want to brake my own rule. Still I think I covered for it nicely.

His comments are indented. Mine are marked by my name beside them. This is because on T-web his comments appear blue anyway so there's no question who says what. I don't want to take the time and trouble to color his comments blue here. I think it's clear enough.

Meta's first Rebuttal

I would like to thank Doug for his comments.

On the issue of author intent, Doug says this is the entire topic.
Doug: he says, "We don’t have to know the authors minds." Well, maybe not in the larger scheme of things, but that is the subject of our debate.”
The debate is the historical nature of the Gospels. That this means the author’s minds is his interpretation. My interpretation: events referenced in Gospels are historical, and some amount of literary license is fine. My intent is to support the basis for Christian belief in the historical nature of the narrative.

Doug:The difference between fiction and nonfiction is nowhere but in the mind of the author. I made that perfectly clear in my opening argument when I defined my terms.
Meta How is he going to show us their intentions? How will he get inside their minds? There is no great body of Hebrew fiction writing that’s for that purpose. Why would they start up a writer’s camp and all move in together just to produce a fictional work?
Don’t forget, the COMMUITIES were the authors not the individuals.
If the gospels are products of communities it doesn’t matter what the individual writers intended. The whole community had to intend to write fiction. Why would they?

Doug:Insofar as Metacrock can prove they had any such intentions, he wins the debate.
Meta: then I guess I win the debate.
How could the facts possibly fit the idea that they were writing fiction when they contradict that thesis every time we look at them?
(1) Obvioulsy a religious faith spread long before the Gospels existed, we see it in the writings of Paul, we know from them that not only Paul and his friends but also the Jerusalem church worked on spreading. It had already traveled to Damascus before Paul was converted. When he started persecuting Christians you would think they would say “it’s only fiction.”
(2) The evidence I lay out proves the same material that gets’ used in the Gospels, not original writing by Mark or Mat but the words of the communities were spreading, the same people building the religion were spreading those very same words, word for word, decades before AD 70. The readings themselves before they were in the Gospels were being circultated.

(3) The notion of the empty tomb was circulating in writing by mid century, two decades before the final version of Mark was written.
(4) Clement writes about Peter and Paul being killed for their fiction writing and says he knew people who knew them (implies he knew them) why did they die for fiction? How did it turn into a real faith by 95, just a couple of decades after it’s book signing at Waldon books?
(5) Fiction writers can write stories based upon real events but they usually don’t shape their entire narrative around history as the core of the story, including historical teachings as though they want people to live by them, without intending the story to teach something. So it’s real obvious the historical nature of it tells us something bout the actual intent.
He also seems to forget all the times I argued that it doesn’t matter what their intent was because the gospels are historical by and large.
(1) I show Paul had a historical base, he knew eye witnesses and met Apostles, he had a saying source. He shows the historical web.
(2) There’s only one version of the story not multiple as myths always are. That in itself proves it’s historical, it could only be that way if they knew not to change the facts.
(3) I show that writers like Polycarp and Papias and Clement knew the Apostles and other eye witnesses and passed on the knowledge to their students. They validate the historical nature of the Gospels.
(4) I also show Philip of Hieropolis and his daughters who acted as Church historians and they have a connect to Luke and Paul. They kept the events straight.
(5) I show that the empty tomb circulated mid century and that was within the sphere of eye witnesses, I show that the controlled telling in the communities assumed that the eye witnesses were heard and the events passed down correctly.
(6) I show that the basic story was confirmed by the “off brand” groups such as Gnostics who also present Jesus as a flesh and blood man in history making messianic claims, healing, teaching, and being crucified and risen.

on the power structure issue.

I’ve already proved that the Non Orthdox groups all show Jesus as a flesh and blood man in history; he claimed to be Messiah, was a great moral teacher, healer and was crucified and claimed risen form the dead. There’s one story and they all agree to it..

He asserts we are getting history from the winners but Orthodoxy that developed was shaped by the Gospels not vice versa, the fact that the 34 lost Gospels agree with the one and only Jesus story proves that the events were historical. The Orthodox power structure did protect their doctrines but in so doing also protected history.

throughout Europe between the fall of Rome and the invention of printing, no ancient document got copied unless some church official believed that it needed to be copied.
Ludicrous! No way could they prevent writing and copying of every single copy and fragment. Empirically proved by Nag Hammadi. To the mythers the best evidence for something is no evidence that’s a sure fact it existed if there’s no proof for it. The point is no examples of all this disproof among the counter Gospels, they all agree with the major story.

Metacrock reminds us that, according to the latest scholarly consensus, the conventional dating of the gospels (Mark ca. 70 CE, John 90-100 CE) applies only "to the finished product of redaction, … I am aware that some scholars think so. I have not heard that it is the new consensus
see this link (second paragraph)

My argument is that those who produced the documents as we now have them were not under the impression that they were producing works of history or biography. In that sense, the intentions of the authors' predecessors is irrelevant.
Wrong! Predecessors are extremely important because it makes author intension irrelevant.
(1) Indivudal authors did not produce the Gospsl so their intensions are irrelevant
(2) The depth of textual chain steraching backs to the beginning proves the historical nature of the narrative and It’s acceptance as religious truth. People didn’t spread that stuff because they loved literature, they did it because it was their religious faith!
(3) Every step that puts the material further back proves historicity and disproves the writers guild thesis.


Mark’s dating
He says
, " Yes, the earlier documents must have been circulating in the mid-first century if we assume Mark was written around 70. But the evidence does not support that assumption..

The only argument he can make is that 70 is arbitrary and chosen just to be early.

(1) The destruction of the temple is the key to dating Mark
(2) I have proved pre Mark redaction circulated mid century.
(3) All the major scholars agree on this: koester demonstrates with eight other scholars in Ancient Christian Gospels Crosson agrees, and others
(4) Kirby says it consensus.
(5) He has no evidence against it he’s only asserting that it’s not true notice,

(6) We also see Luke used a different Mark than Mat did so there were at least two floating around (that’s unanswered from first speech)
(7) His assertion just rests upon not knowing the traditional reasons for the dating, which are scientific and textual.
(8) There are a lot of complex reasons why they date them as they do, they are not arbitrary not because “they say so” it’s science and it’s proved.

on Clement ‘s quotes of mark and mat

…. what Clement's writings reveal was that some of the sayings attributed to Jesus were making the rounds within his community It does not follow that the documents themselves had been written
Any quote of Q or of Gospel material especially pre dating mark is a demonstration of a religious tradition that represents a community and it’s beliefs and we have to assume indicates a huge old line of passage going way back.

We do not need the name sakes for historicity. Doesn’t matter when the version of Matthew we know now was complied and began to circulate, the material in it goes way back, thus is is historical.

Paul’s use of it pushes it back to the 40s. With every push further back it becomes more probable that it’s historical.

(1) 1 Clement quotes all the Synoptics dated 95AD
(2) Matt. vi. 12–15, Matt. vii. 2; Luke vi. 36–38.
(3) The Didache clearly quotes Mat and is pattered after it (dated 100AD).
(4) Egerton 2 ; some place it earlier than Mark. It quotes a huge number of parallels with all the Gospels:

Parallels between Egerton 2 and Canonicals

Debate over Credentials (l. 1-24) John 5:39, 5:45, 9:29, (John 3:2, 5:46-47, 7:27-28, 8:14, 10:25, 12:31)
Attempt to Seize Jesus (l. 25-34) [Further Violence Against Jesus (l. 89-94)] John 7:30, 7:44, 8:20, 8:59, 10:30-31, 10:39, Luke 4:30
The Healing of the Leper (l. 35-47) Mt 8:2-4, Mk 1:40-44, Lk 5:12-14, 17:12-19, (John 5:14, 8:11)
Debate with False Questioners (l. 50-66) Mt 22:15-22, Mk 12:13-17, Lk 20:20-26, (Mt 15:7-9, Mk 7:6-7, Lk 6:46, John 3:2)
Miraculous Fruit (l. 67-82) No exact parallels, but words and reminiscences.

Many scholars date Egerton in middle of the first century:


Metacrock claims that P52 is not the only known early fragment of John's gospel. It is, however, the only fragment that has been authoritatively dated any earlier than 200 CE. The last I checked, every other extant fragment of any canonical writing is not known to have been written before the third century. And as I have mentioned, at least one authority thinks P52 could be that late as well.
Wrong. You are using biased obsolete sources:

(1) Rylands (52) is all we need, most scholars put it at 135, and push the date of comp. to mid 90s.
(2) New trend in Europe is to put John in the 60s. he also forgets about the source that shows 60 scholars showing it early.
(3) Egerton 2 is clearly patterned after John. The major modern movement for dating puts Egerton 2 first century.
(4) Epistles of Ignatius clearly show allusion to Johannine passages and ideas.
(5) Justin Martyr quotes John probably from Memory (120).
(6) A lot of stuff on date of John from Doxa

Metacrock claims there is a quotation in the Talmud proving Matthew was written around 70 CE, …there is no way the authors of the Talmud could have had any factual knowledge relevant to a determination of when Matthew wrote his gospel
They have a record of the Rabbi quoting Matthew, They know when the Rabbi wrote that piece its part of a larger piece already dated.

He claims no unambiguous proof of Gospels before Irenaeus.


"In the case of the gospels, not even their existence is clearly and unambiguously attested before Irenaeus, ca 180 CE."
Again, that is an argument for fundies about namesakes. I don’t care about the name sakes. We DO NOT NEED THE NAMESAKES TO ESTABLISH HISTORICITY!

I established the existence of the material of the Gospels going all the way back. That’s all we need.

Then we get: "the material in Paul demonstrates his use of a saying source that is heavily synoptic and his allusions to narrative demonstrate the story was intact in the form we know it by AD 50 or so." This was in response to my claim that Well, now who is going against the scholarly consensus?
YOU ARE! The BS that the Gospel were written second century went out with high button shoes. That is 19th century. The majority of scholars laugh themselves silly. I linked to evidence on that. He said nothing about it? He has no answer.

These anti-academic guys want you to believe that schlars have no reasons for their views. Just because the armatures don’t know the reasons doesn’t mean they don’t’ exist.

He plays the myther “Paul doesn’t know the story of the gospels” card

(1) I prove textual tradition goes all the way back. Multiple saying sources establish the body of Jesus’ teachings going all the way back
a. GThomas
b. G.Peter
c. Paul
d. Eg2
e. Didache
f. Clement

All of that requires prior development and that proves they were circulating.
As for Paul’s knowledge of the narrative
(1) my chart showed at least 12 allusions to synoptic narrative
(2) Hebrews (Pauline circle) shows knowledge of Jesus life
(3) Clement shows knowledge of narrative (Mary, v brith, resurrection)
(4) Eg2 does as well
(5) One story, the 11 things I point out are never changed by any group that’s backed by the 34 lost gospels.

What Metacrock is saying, at most, is that IF the gospels had existed in Paul's time, THEN he could have gotten some of his material from them.
No, he misconstrues my entire argument. I never said Paul knew the Gospels. I said the Gospels are based upon older material the exact readings show up in the gospels but they were circulating before the gospels we know were written.

Still gaps? Of course, liberals don’t’ mind gaps. We don’t need total knowledge only the basic knowledge which we have in spades.

On 34 lost Gospels he asserts I can’t prove contents

(1) I’ve read man of them such as Egerton 2 and others
(2) I quote scholars who have read them they say clearly they all agree to the same story. That’s in the link if he had read it!
He then says:

“he needs to demonstrate that whatever was in them, it would not have been in them unless the canonical authors had intended their work to be nonfiction.”
No no no! I don’t have to prove that, he doesn’t’ get it. They all show Jesus as a flesh and blood man in history, even the Gnostic ones! They all show him doing what he did in the canonicals and they all show him being crucified and raised form the dead. So they document the fact that there is one story. They don’t offer another version of the story so there’s one version unlike myth which has many.

He’s the one who makes much of the fact of non Orthodox groups early on, now the scholars who study their books say they agreed with the Orthodox on the story.

He tries to answer the one version argument by saying he’s not arguing myth. But that’s not the point, he’s not concentrating. The point is if the story was myth it would have many versions. They always do. Myth always has many versions. The fact of one story is a good reason to believe it’s historical. That’s the argument. Friedman

He doubts multiple versions I deny him to show me a myth that doesn’t have at least 2. They all do. Freidman backs it up, in fact the concept of multiple versions is endemic to the modern concept of myth

He tries to argue multiple stories

To pull that off he has to demand that any little obscure detail is another version. I stated quite clearly the guide lines it was not inclusive of little silly differences such as redaction would allow for. I said mother Is Mary his side kick is Peter, he is always crucified it’s always at noon and other things. That’s’ the kind of thing I listed 12 of them, he can’t’ show a single multiple version from that list.

Papias talks about Mark and Matthew writing something about Jesus. Orthodoxy has assumed that the documents to which he refers must have been canonical gospels attributed to Mark and Matthew, and for no better reason than that Irenaeus assumed as much.
To atheists and mythers probability doesn’t’ exist. Its’ foolish and totally improbable to think they had a different book in mind. There si no such book that qualifies, Irenaeus would have known which book since he studies with Papias and the biggest one of the all, if it differed from Plycarp’s book, Irenaeus knew him too, then Irenaeus would have seen the contradiction and been turned off from the faith. The odds that they were discussing a different book are ridiculous.

Again if it was a different book why are there no stories? why are not multiple myths hu? You cant’ kill mythology they way mythers think you can destroy all copies that’s twilight zone time. Not realistic.

he sloughs off the Luke argument bout the preface by saying:

Then he says we have no reason to doubt the claim Luke makes in his preface. Maybe not, if his claim were the only relevant datum. Our conclusion on this matter has to explain all of the evidence, all at once.

Meta:We cannot just take one statement out of one document and build our whole theory of Christian origins around it
He hasn’t been able to answer one yet, Iv’e given about 50. This is another one, far from the only one I’ve given this is clearly a slough.

Then we get the assurance that "We can construct the whole of NT theology from extra canonical sources outside and way before Eusebius, from early second century and late first century sources.
I didn’t argue that. I said we have all the theology we need in the NT from the passages that can be validated.

on protecting Orthodoxy

But the very issue here is whether their saying it happened is sufficient reason by itself for us to believe it happened. Shakespeare wrote about the assassination of Julius Caesar.
he argues we need other evidence. He’s just ignoring my arguments. The reason for presumption is not because they say it:

(1) I’ve demonstrated about six different lines of transmition through which the same material that makesu p the Gospsl was circularing through the church from very early.
(2) I show that we see that turning up in a whole bunch of documents and textual traditions involves long periods of time. So there’s an unbroken chain that forms the link to the Gospels
(3) That gauntest the material is historical it also proves obviously that these lines of transmission are what shaped Orthodoxy.
(4) We see that orthodoxy, which did not have a power structure when the pre Mark redaction was starting and most of the time it was firming up, into the post Mark redaction (after 70) no power structure.
(5) Obviously this material shaped the Orthodoxy and not vice versa
(6) Don’t forget the points of agreement with all other rogue and heterodox sects in the 34 lost Gosples.

on historical presumption:

"The consensus of historians is what constitutes historical presumption," he tells us. That presumption is what you have to go on before you get a look at the evidence for yourself, and before you have learned how that consensus was formed
That is irresponsible debate. He’s trying to worm out of the fact that evidence in this debate is totally against him. He has no facts, he has to deny the vast majority of even liberal and secular scholars to even hold his position. He has constantly denied the science of textual criticism without really understanding it.

I’ve explained his understanding of Kuhn is wrong, he doesn’t’ get a paradigm shift just someone doubts.


• According to Metacrock, I implied "that all Biblical scholarship comes from evangelicals." No, I did not. My only reference to possible bias in the scholarship was in noting that "a substantial fraction of the competent authorities are adherents of Christianity." I do not assume that Christian equals evangelical. I do assume that, if even most atheists presuppose certain historical data that are consistent with the historical orthodoxy, then Christians will presuppose the same.
but he clearly ignores completely the liberal tradition and modern liberal contributions. In Chucking Historical presumption I do not mean the presumption of religious Orthodoxy I mean that of secular liberal history[/b[ because that’s who he’s ignoring! Those are the textual critics. That’s the camp the anti-academics are dumping[/b]

• Further on in a couple of places, he accuses me of denying that the Peter whom Paul mentions is the same Peter who appears in the gospels. I do not. I simply note that Paul does not attest to Peter's having been personally acquainted with Jesus during Jesus' lifetime. And that is a fact. Paul attests to nothing of the sort.
He used that possiblity as an answer to an argument I made, that Paul met Peter, so the only way that answers my argument is if you take it seriously as a real possibility, then to assert that he didn’t mean it as such is just irrational. It doesn’t’ do him any good unless you assert it’s true, which means you are accepting groundless assertions.

• Metacrock claims that I quote Polycarp's claim to have known the apostle John. I don't, and I could not, and I say why I could not. We don't have that claim in Polycarp's own words. What we have is Irenaeus claiming that Polycarp told him about knowing John.
We do have it in his own words, quoted by an eye witness whom he said it to! That’s’ no different than a reporter quoting a source on the scene. When you read a paper and the reporter say “s source at the scene told us ‘this was a big fire’” you dot’ say “O that’s not proved, that’s not form the source’s own words.” Yes it is.

• According to Metacrock, "He asserts he was just a kid he remembered it wrong." Again, I was talking about Irenaeus, not Polycarp, and I did not say he remembered it wrong. I suggested that we are not justified in assuming that his memory of their conversation was reliable.
He forgets my other answer, that’s one incident Irenaeus was talking about (I know who said it) he did not say “I never saw again after that time.” No that was one instance. You have to read the rest of the docs he wrote. He speaks of repeatedly studying under him.

• Finally, he refers to my "assertion that if he [Josephus] learned it from Christians it must be wrong." I made no such assertion. All I asserted was that if we assume, as it is entirely reasonable to assume, that Christians were the source of his information, then his testimony does not constitute any sort of corroboration of what Christians were saying at that time.
That makes no sense at all. If he got it form Christians it doesn’t’ show what they believed at the time? That’s crazy, why wouldn’t it?

All we're entitle to suppose is that he took their word for it, unless we have clear evidence that he conducted an independent investigation of their reports.
(1) he ignores my argument that many scholars believe Josehus and Acts both use the L source (go to Jospehus home page). The L source was not part of any Orthodox power structure. The L community would be less centeral than the Q source community or the Mat community.
(2) All they have to do is say what they believed that’s what he ‘s talking about, why can’t they just say what they believed?

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