Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Historical Validity of the Gospels Grounding in Historical/Critical Methods, part 1

Photobucket



What ever happened to the Bible? Go on any message board where atheists congregate and start a discussion of any kind that invovles using the Bible as an authority and they will immediately say thing that sound as though the Bible doesn't even exist. The regard it as such a pile of crap they wont even tolerate the possibility that it might be defended. Today (Sunday) on CARM someone said that I have no way of distinguishing which passage are mythology and which are not. This is an atheist who knows me and knows I'm somewhat liberal. This guy as saying I can't distinguish true passages from ad ons but I just choose what I like. I listed a criteria for understanding mythology, it was a criteria based upon historical critical methods. This is what this other atheist responded. We also discussed the validation of the Bible as a historical artifact. I said the Gospels were historical artifacts that testify to the beliefs of the people who wrote them. That seems like a fairly a priori sort of statement--true by definition--but people are so bad at understanding logic they think that a priori must be a violation of logic instead a kind of logic, becuase they have been led to accept the phrase that teaches them to confuse try by definition with circular reasoning. So the second major issue for the day was historical life of Jesus and the inability of the Gospels to furnish any sort of historical documentation for the same. I listed three ways that we can validate the Gospels historically and this was one response:

Originally Posted by Westvleteren View Post
There is no method that allows the Bible to corroborate itself, as soon as you said that it nullified any possible argument you could make. Quite simply it is asinine. And no I could not care less that you are a PhD candidate as it has no bearing on the validity of your assertions.
I had said that by historical critical methods we can corroborate the Gospels as historical evidence of Jesus' existence. I also laid out an extensive criteria for determining what is mythology and what is not. I didn't claim the Bible corroborates itself. There is obviously a method or no book could ever corroborated. That method is called "historical critical method." This is so basic and these guys act like I made it up. They are practically saying there's no such thing as the historical critical. This more than more than anything shows the Orwellian nature of atheism. Anything that they can't out argue by reason or histircal fact they merely claim doesn't exist and make to go away becasue they don't like it. They just brain wash their mentions into thinking "there can't be such a thing as historical critical methods."

Doesn't it seem really imbecilic to think that there's this one book that can't be corroborated? I used three different senses in which a book can be corroborated in order to show how foolish it is to make the statment "no method could exist that would do this." Each sense in which the Gospels can be corroborated (use the Gospels since the historical Jesus was the issue) I use anaother another kind of book. Let's look at the three aspects of the historical critical method that verify the Gospels, and then at the criteria for understanding mythology from historically based writing. Three ways of corroborating the Gospels:

I. The authority of the teaching for the tradition



Most scholars point to the fact that the four canonical Gospels were already used by most of the chruch by the time of the canon[Martin Franzmann (The Word of the Lord Grows, St Louis: Concordia, 1961, 287-295)]. They bear the stamp of approval of those who were in charge of the teaching for the tradition. The problem is modern skeptics refuse to accept the facts, despise the truth, refuse to accept any sort of defense regardless of how good it is and basically refuse to even investigate the facts. If one actually examined the fact that is no way one can conclude other than that the four canonical gospels are the most logical choices of all the writings we have. Of the 34 lost gospels of which we have copies, fragments, theories, or any sort of inking only the four canonical Gospels makes sense as candidates for the canon. The Gospel according to Thomas has a historical core that probably goes back to the time of late first century. Yet it also has obviously late, maybe 3d century, heavily gnostic material. The Gospel of Peter had material that is corroborated as independent of the synoptic or of of John (see Ray Brown, Death of the Messiah) yet it encases this material in a clearly late framework. Only the canonical Gospels can be bore out as early dated, the trend is to even earlier dates, and at the same time has this vast body of attestation including the final inclusion in the canon. Skeptics also overlook the extent to which these 34 lost gospels supplement and corroborate the canonical Gospels. Most of the historical core of Thomas is in agreement with the synoptic.


American Theological Library Association

More than half of the material in the gospel of Thomas (79 sayings) is paralleled in the canonical gospels:

*

27 sayings are in Mark & the other synoptics;
*

46 parallel Q material (in Matthew & Luke)*
*

12 echo material special to Matthew; &
*

1 is only in Luke.

* [Q parallels include 7 sayings where Mark has a variant version]

Thomas is important for synoptic studies for two reasons:

*

Form: It proves that collections of Jesus sayings with no narrative were known in the early church. Thus, it gives indirect support to the hypothesis of a synoptic sayings source, Q.
*

Contents: Its version of some Jesus sayings is simpler than the synoptic parallels.

For the past 40 years scholars have debated whether Thomas is directly dependent on the synoptic gospels or not. Some have maintained the traditional view that Thomas is a 2nd or 3rd c. gnostic composition whose author extracted Jesus sayings from a Coptic translation of the NT & edited them to fit a gnostic worldview. Most recent experts on Thomas, however, regard it as an early sayings collection based on oral tradition rather than any canonical text.

There are four main reasons why scholars who have studied Thomas conclude that it is independent of synoptic tradition:

*

No narrative frame: If the compiler of Thomas drew these sayings from the canonical narrative gospels, he removed every trace of the stories in which the synoptic writers embed them.
*

Non-synoptic order: If the compiler of Thomas drew these sayings from the synoptic gospels, he totally scrambled them, separating adjoining sayings & scattering them at random. No one has yet proven that the sayings in Thomas are arranged according to any logical pattern.
*

Random parallels: Sayings in Thomas sometimes echo Mark, sometimes Matthew, sometimes Luke. There is no clear pattern of dependence on any one text.
*

More primitive form: Sayings in Thomas are often logically simpler than their synoptic counterparts. If the compiler drew these sayings from the synoptic gospels, he edited out the traits characteristic of each writer. While some synoptic parallels in Thomas have gnostic embellishments, these are easily removed.

Together these traits of Thomas make it highly unlikely that any synoptic gospel was used as its source. In fact, the random, eclectic character of the contents of Thomas makes it a more primitive composition than the synoptic sayings source that scholars call "Q." While many individual sayings in Thomas may be of late gnostic origin, the core of the collection (sayings with synoptic parallels) is probably as old or older than the composition of the canonical gospel narratives (50-90 CE). To date this gospel any later makes it hard to explain the general lack of features dependent on the synoptics.(Copyright © 1997- 2008 by Mahlon H. Smith
All rights reserved.)

[For more details see Crossan, J.D. Four Other Gospels (Sonoma CA: Polebridge Press, 1992) pp. 3-38 or Patterson, S. J. in Q-Thomas Reader (Sonoma CA: Polebridge Press, 1990) pp. 77-127.]


The old independent core of Peter supports the idea of guards on the tomb, meaning it also supports the crucifixion, the tomb, and the resurrection, empty tomb.

What this means for us so far is that the stamp of approval given by inclusion in the canon means several things:

(1) it means the church as a whole already recognized those books as valid based upon the teaching handed down from the Apostles through the Bishops.

(2) That is corroborated historically and can be verified by the extra canonical materials that agree with the readings, such as Thomas and Peter.

(3) The very fact inclusion in the canon is a priori testament to this fact, since apostolic affirmation was part of the criteria.

An examination of how the canon came to be will bear this out. This is written by me based upon the Franzman source above. It's found on my website Doxa> Bible> The Canon: how do they know the got the right books?


Martin Franzmann (The Word of the Lord Grows, St Louis: Concordia, 1961, 287-295) traces the development of the canon in three stages:

*First Stage: 100-170:

In this stage there is no discussion of a canon. There is informal use of the NT writings but their usage indicates authoritative status. "What we do find in the Writings of the So called Apostolic Fathers (Clement of Rome, Epistle of Barnabas, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas, the Teaching of the Twelve) is first a witness to the fact that the books destined to become the New Testament canon are there, at work in the church from the first...the influence of all types of New Testament writings (Epistles, Gospels,Johannine works, Pauline letters, catholic letters) is clearly decreeable. To judge by the evidence of this period the four Gospels and the letters of Paul were everywhere the basic units in the emerging canon of the New Testament." (Franzmann, 288)

Franzmann doesn't mention it directly but by implication (see quotation above) other books were also read in this period, but their use was unevenly speared through different churches. Each local church had it's own canon. They shared most of the New Testament writings but also preferred their own "local books," for example The Shaped of Hermas was popular in Rome (it's place of origin) and The Didache in Syria (Streeter, the Primitive Church).
At the end of this period the church is forced to deal with the question of a canon directly for the first time. The Heretic Marcion rejected the OT and revised the book of Luke. He presented a canon consisting only of his revised Luke and the letter of Paul minus the Pastoral Epistles.

*Second Stage, 170-220

The elements already present are firmed up. "Fourth fifths of the Chruche's eventual canon is already established beyond debate (Franzmann). The major documents which attest to the canon in this period are a report form the church's in Vienne and Lyon of a persecution they had undergone, sent to Asia Minor, and a work by Theophilus Bishop of Antioch in Syria. Neither list includes all 27 books, but they are substantially identical to the list we have today, and since the subject of neither work was specifically canonicity we cannot be sure why certain books aren't mentioned. The major church "Fathers" of this period are Irenaeus of Lyon, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian of Carthage. Their writings include all the 27 books except 2nd Peter. They show that there was unanimous agreement on all the books accept those that latter were disputed at the council of Niecia: Hebrews, Revelation, James, second Peter, second and third John, Judea and Revelation (which is why all of these are at the Back of the NT).

The other major document of this period is the Moratoria Fragment: The document was discovered by a Librarian in Milan in 1740, the librarian's name was Moratoria. It gives us a complete picture of the church at Rome in AD 170. The Muratorian includes 22 books, those omitted are Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, James, and one of the shorter letters of John. The document also includes a Revelation of Peter, Although it notes "some of us don't want it read in church." The Wisdom of Solemn is included but the Shaped of Hermas is rejected for it's early origin. But it is noted as not used in church.

*Third Stage: 220-400:

Origen, an Alexandrian theologian of the 3d century knew all 27 books of the Canon and was the first to take note of 2 Peter. Dionysius of Alexandrian, Origen's student, doubts the Johonnine authorship of Revelation but accepts its authority. When Euesbius, the first great historian of the Chruch discusses the canon in his Ecclesiastic Histories (325) he still has no official body of decision to appeal to. He doubts the works that were contested, Hebrews, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, Hebrews. But what he does not doubt is the tradition that establishes the truth of Christ. He documents all ancient sources he can find, mainly Papias and Ireaeus, and others, the Bishop's lists, and expresses faith in the handing on the knowledge of truth. Cyril of Jerusalem in 350 recommends a 26 books canon (excluding Revelation) as "books recommended by all" (Franzmann 293).

"The 27 book canon...established itself in the early centuries of the church and maintained itself in the continued life of the church...they [the books of the canon] are what Athenasius called them, 'the wellsprings of salvation.' (Franzmann, 295).

The canon was the product of a process that developed over time. It was not something adopted in a weekend. The stories about putting out the lights and stealing the copies not favored by the power structure are just BS. I've tried find historical proof such going's on and there are none.


II. Eye witness testimony backing the material

There are two aspects to this issue:

(A) Community as Author.

Sketpics make a big thing out of the fact that no Gospel can be corroborated as the product of its namesake, Matthew can't be proved to have written by Matthew, and John cannot be proved to have written by John. Therefore, skeptics conclude, there's no authority of eye witness testimony. yet the skeptics are ignorant. These books don't have to have been written by members of the twelve Apostles to contain eye witness testimony. Moreover, these works are not the product of a single individual. Scholars have for some time now recognized that the true authors are whole communities (see Luke Timothy Johnson, Writings of the New Testament). This means the community was the witness. We know that these early communities lived together communally. People are aware of the old saying that the early Christians sold their goods and moved in together but no one stops to think what it means. It means they developed the story together as a community. The force of truth, the power of the eye witnesse would have prevails in dominating the discussion. Eye witnesses would have been authorities and new comers would have been students.

The Jews of the first century had an oral culture, meaning it was their tradition to pass on knowledge by word of mouth. There are various works such as Cullman's The Johanine circle. and the Student Ph.D. dissertation the Matthew School (University of Dallas) that show historical basis for the communal theory, but its' rooted in the book of Acts. Skeptics think of the spread of the Gospel through oral tradition as wild rumors in which there was fomentation time for things to speak out of control This is just a fancy out of touch with the facts. The communal setting would have offered a controlled setting in which the information could have been kept straight, the oral culture would have provided the framework; these people knew how to keep oral tradition intact.

Stephen Neil (scholar)

"No one is likely to deny that a tradition that is being handed on by word of mouth is likely to undergo modification. This is bound to happen, unless the tradition has been rigidly formulated and has been learned with careful safeguard against the intrusion of error" (The Interpretation of the New Testament: 1861-1961, London: University of Oxford Press, 1964, p.250)

Neil adds in a fn: "This is exactly the way in which the tradition was handed on among the Jews. IT is precisely on this ground that Scandinavian scholar H. Risenfeld in an essay entitled "The Gospel Tradition and its Beginnings" (1957) has passed some rather severe strictures on the form cuticle method.

See also M. Dibelius... Neil goes on to say that there is some "flexibility" in the transmission, but nothing that would change the basic facts or the thrust of the teaching otherwise, "But there is a vast difference between recognition of this kind of flexibility, of this kind of creative working of the community on existing traditions, and the idea that the community simply invented and read back into the life of Jesus things that he had never done, and words that he had never said. When carried to its extreme this method suggests that the community had far greater creative power than the Jesus of Nazareth, faith in whom had called the community into being." (Ibid.).


Oral tradition in first-century Judaism was not uncontrolled as was/is often assumed, based on comparisons with non-Jewish models. 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.(53-55)(corrosponding fn for Childton and evans")

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)



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)**


"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.



In the Handbook of Biblical Social Values (2000), Jerome Neyrey says,

The people in the bilbical world are dyadic. This means that individuals basically depend on others for thier sense of identity, for their understanding of their role and status in society, for clues to the duties and rights they have, and for indications of what is honorable and shameful behavior. Such people live in a world which is clearly and extensively ordered, a system which is well known to members of the group. Individuals quickly internalize this system and depend on it for needed clues to the way their world works. . . The tradition handed down by former members of the group is presumed valid and normative. . . Group orientation is clearly expressed in the importance given to authority. (p.94-7)

see also
- Bruce Malina & Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on the Synoptics, and Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel on John.
- See also John Pilch, Jerome Neyrey, and David deSilva. The Context Group publications are listed here.

Be sure and tun in again on Wednesday for part 2.


16 comments:

SPR said...

This happens to me allot, I have come to the conclusion that atheists do not want any evidence.

Like you said "Magical King X" rides in and bails out the atheist out of any evidence put up by the Theist.

I would rather trust the Bible on being historically correct in relation of Jesus, than many other historical sources for other key figures.

Metacrock said...

The impression I have been given over the years is that many people don't care about truth as long as they get their way.

Brap Gronk said...

"I said the Gospels were historical artifacts that testify to the beliefs of the people who wrote them."

I have no difficulty agreeing with that statement, but where arguments for Christianity fall apart for me is when people equate the beliefs of the authors with history, and consider written beliefs to be evidence for something actually occurring.

In fact, your community as author argument has a point I totally disagree with:

"The force of truth, the power of the eye witnesses would have prevails in dominating the discussion."

The power of groupthink can easily overpower the truth, especially when a few persuasive individuals dominate the discussion. And I'm sure you don't need to be convinced of the weakness of eyewitness testimony. Regarding the 500 witnesses to the resurrected Jesus, I believe that to be just a fabricated element of the resurrection story, much like the other people who were resurrected in Matthew 27.

Metacrock said...

Brap Gronk:

quotes me:
"I said the Gospels were historical artifacts that testify to the beliefs of the people who wrote them."

BG:

I have no difficulty agreeing with that statement, but where arguments for Christianity fall apart for me is when people equate the beliefs of the authors with history, and consider written beliefs to be evidence for something actually occurring.

They can be. For example why would people writing in 50AD believe in a flesh and blood Jesus if Doherty is right and they just started to give him a concrete history early in the second century? Obviously that destory's Doherty's time table if not his whole theory.

The fact that the early followers were speaking of an empty tomb just a few years after the death of Jesus might be a good indication that empty tomb did not evolve slowly as myth. Granted that doesn't prove it was real but it's a step in that direction. It's part of an over all case.


In fact, your community as author argument has a point I totally disagree with:

"The force of truth, the power of the eye witnesses would have prevails in dominating the discussion."

The power of groupthink can easily overpower the truth, especially when a few persuasive individuals dominate the discussion.

why are you equating eye witnesses with group think? Obviously there were several groups, that's why we have four different versions of the dame material. So while there undoubtedly would have been some form of "group think" (which one finds in atheism too) there were also outlets for differing views.



And I'm sure you don't need to be convinced of the weakness of eyewitness testimony.

that's a fallacy. Obviously it's not weak its the only way to know what happened; it's the only way we can check our perceptions, it's a basic part of our natural epistemic instincts, and it's the backbone of the legal system.

what you are confusing is that eye witnesses differ becuase human perceptions are subjective and differ, with the idea that it's somehow not worth using. That doesn't make it not worth anything. If so why do they still use it in courts?



Regarding the 500 witnesses to the resurrected Jesus, I believe that to be just a fabricated element of the resurrection story, much like the other people who were resurrected in Matthew 27.

why? If eye witness testimony is so weak why do you need to get rid of the 500?

Ultimately you must be the witness. Your own existential encounter with the Divine is the only one that will convince you so you must be the witness.

free your own inner witness by being open to the reality.

Metacrock said...

Look at this watch, you are getting sleepy...sleepy,...obey the group.

zzzzzzzzzzzz

Brap Gronk said...

Part 1 of 2:

Brap (previously): "where arguments for Christianity fall apart for me is when people equate the beliefs of the authors [of the gospels] with history, and consider written beliefs to be evidence for something actually occurring."

Meta: "They can be."

My point is that the gospels should be considered primarily a record of what some people believed at the time. If additional evidence or sources can corroborate a particular story, then that story (and only that story, not the entire contents of all four gospels) moves toward the truth column. If Joseph Smith's golden plates were on display at the Mormon Tabernacle today, I would still only consider them to be a record of what Joseph Smith believed. (Well, at least what he wanted others to believe.)

Meta: "For example why would people writing in 50AD believe in a flesh and blood Jesus if Doherty is right and they just started to give him a concrete history early in the second century?"

Agreed. I'm not a Jesus myther.

Meta: "The fact that the early followers were speaking of an empty tomb just a few years after the death of Jesus might be a good indication that empty tomb did not evolve slowly as myth."

My theory, which is just another silly atheist hunch probably unsupported by any facts, is that the empty tomb myth (along with the resurrection myth) evolved quickly after Jesus' followers struggled to explain the meaning of his crucifixion.

Meta: "why are you equating eye witnesses with group think?"

I'm not. You claimed the power of eyewitness testimony would have prevailed in group discussions. I disagree with that, because people can easily be persuaded into believing they saw something they didn't see, or saw something slightly different, etc. The mind warps the perception of an event over time, filling in gaps, tweaking things here and there as the story is retold and finalized, even without outside influence. Imagine what the mind can do with the perception of an event in a group situation, where people are often reluctant to let it be known they are in the minority.

Brap Gronk said...

Part 2 of 2:

Brap (previously): "And I'm sure you don't need to be convinced of the weakness of eyewitness testimony."

Meta: "that's a fallacy. Obviously it's not weak its the only way to know what happened;"

Just because it's the only way to know doesn't mean it isn't weak. There is an entire spectrum of ways to know something, from strong to weak. If one of those at the weak end of the spectrum is the only one available for a particular event, it's still weak.

"it's the only way we can check our perceptions,"

Eyewitness testimony _is_ perception, which is modified by the mind over time. I'd prefer audio and video recording to check my perceptions, actually.

"it's a basic part of our natural epistemic instincts, and it's the backbone of the legal system. what you are confusing is that eye witnesses differ becuase human perceptions are subjective and differ, with the idea that it's somehow not worth using. That doesn't make it not worth anything. If so why do they still use it in courts?"

When that's all you have, then that's all you have. It is unfortunate that many innocent people have been sent to death row based solely on eyewitness testimony that was later proven false based on things like DNA evidence. I suspect eyewitness testimony is relied upon less when there is good video evidence of an incident. I would also suspect that physical evidence gathered at a crime scene sometimes supports and sometimes contradicts eyewitness testimony.

Brap (previously): "Regarding the 500 witnesses to the resurrected Jesus, I believe that to be just a fabricated element of the resurrection story, much like the other people who were resurrected in Matthew 27."

Meta: "why? If eye witness testimony is so weak why do you need to get rid of the 500?"

Because people give eyewitness testimony more weight when it is corroborated. I'm suggesting it wasn't corroborated by a crowd of 500, so I have no need to claim a group hallucination occurred.

Meta: "Ultimately you must be the witness. Your own existential encounter with the Divine is the only one that will convince you so you must be the witness. free your own inner witness by being open to the reality."

I'm open to any reality outside my mind that doesn't need my mind in order to exist. I'm not aware of any evidence of God's existence, nor any rationally warranted reason to believe in God's existence, outside the human mind.

Metacrock said...

Blogger Brap Gronk said...

Part 1 of 2:

Brap (previously): "where arguments for Christianity fall apart for me is when people equate the beliefs of the authors [of the gospels] with history, and consider written beliefs to be evidence for something actually occurring."

Meta: "They can be."

My point is that the gospels should be considered primarily a record of what some people believed at the time.

Meta:>>>
OK, that's how I see them. That doesn't mean they are not historically based.I'm arguing for the historicity of the OUTLINES not every single thing in the text.



If additional evidence or sources can corroborate a particular story, then that story (and only that story, not the entire contents of all four gospels) moves toward the truth column.

Meta>>>
I didn't say the whole thing is proved to be historical. I said we have authority in the teachings.


If Joseph Smith's golden plates were on display at the Mormon Tabernacle today, I would still only consider them to be a record of what Joseph Smith believed. (Well, at least what he wanted others to believe.)


Meta>>>
why is Joseph Smith your standard? were you a Mormon?



Meta: "For example why would people writing in 50AD believe in a flesh and blood Jesus if Doherty is right and they just started to give him a concrete history early in the second century?"

Agreed. I'm not a Jesus myther.


Meta>>>
good!


Meta: "The fact that the early followers were speaking of an empty tomb just a few years after the death of Jesus might be a good indication that empty tomb did not evolve slowly as myth."

My theory, which is just another silly atheist hunch probably unsupported by any facts, is that the empty tomb myth (along with the resurrection myth) evolved quickly after Jesus' followers struggled to explain the meaning of his crucifixion.


Meta>>>
OK you better watch those wild speculations. ;-)

Metacrock said...

Meta: "why are you equating eye witnesses with group think?"

I'm not. You claimed the power of eyewitness testimony would have prevailed in group discussions. I disagree with that, because people can easily be persuaded into believing they saw something they didn't see, or saw something slightly different, etc.


Meta>>>
that's an unfounded assertion. show some studies.


The mind warps the perception of an event over time, filling in gaps, tweaking things here and there as the story is retold and finalized, even without outside influence.


Meta>>>
yes but that's not the same as saying "I saw this guy who was dead walking around alive." That's a bit of a stretch.



Imagine what the mind can do with the perception of an event in a group situation, where people are often reluctant to let it be known they are in the minority.


Meta>>>
what would their motive be to begin with? Why would they go on as a group? why would they want to convince anything they saw Jesus alive?

trying to fill in gaps with psychology that's not documented not proved not based upon proven theores is jsut futile. what if everythings's a life.

when I was an atheist I used to sit around thinking up "ways it could have hapepned." One day it occurred to me we don't need little arguments like that. I can just assert it did happen in some way but not the way the Christan's say and cut tot he chase and deny the possibility merely becuase it is Christian and that way I don't have to strain my brain about it.

Problem is its a two edge sword. As a Christian I realized if I know that God is real and I have a relationship with God in my current beliefs then I have a reason to believe that it did happen the bible and there is a truth to it because I know there's truth on this end.

If the historical facts coincide to some extent that makes it stronger. We are talking about validation not proof. Nothing is every going to replace leap of faith. you will have to make a leap of faith regardless.

Metacrock said...

8:13 PM
Delete
Blogger Brap Gronk said...

Part 2 of 2:

Brap (previously): "And I'm sure you don't need to be convinced of the weakness of eyewitness testimony."

Meta: "that's a fallacy. Obviously it's not weak its the only way to know what happened;"

Just because it's the only way to know doesn't mean it isn't weak.


Meta>>>
It's not that week. A bunch of saw something, basically the same thing that's a good reason to think they saw something. You can always doubt because you didn't see it. If you did see it you would be saying something different. You would be saying "I know what I saw!"


There is an entire spectrum of ways to know something, from strong to weak. If one of those at the weak end of the spectrum is the only one available for a particular event, it's still weak.

Meta>>>
Ok that's good. this is ONE way, this not a cut and dired It's all proved becuase of Josh McDowell. It's one aspect of the nature of belief.

I don't even see why we need the historical anymore, except I think it's there. It's better with it. What if we didn't have any historical evidence. that would be a reason to be believed based upon my own experiences. That they line up is even better.


"it's the only way we can check our perceptions,"

Eyewitness testimony _is_ perception, which is modified by the mind over time. I'd prefer audio and video recording to check my perceptions, actually.


Meta>>>
on the net go around I'll get the apostles to take a video camera. Hey I think Matthew had one of those real thin cell phones with a camera in it. But it was one of the early ones so the picture wasn't very good.

"it's a basic part of our natural epistemic instincts, and it's the backbone of the legal system. what you are confusing is that eye witnesses differ becuase human perceptions are subjective and differ, with the idea that it's somehow not worth using. That doesn't make it not worth anything. If so why do they still use it in courts?"

When that's all you have, then that's all you have. It is unfortunate that many innocent people have been sent to death row based solely on eyewitness testimony that was later proven false based on things like DNA evidence.

Meta>>>
bzzzZZZZZzzz! argument from analogy = fallacy.


I suspect eyewitness testimony is relied upon less when there is good video evidence of an incident.

Meta>>>
Naturally. where's your video evidence of Jesus not raising form the dead?

Can't you see that trying to indict 500 eye witnesses on the basis of s standard arguments about the unreliable nature of eye witnesses is just second rate schlock? It's way beneath you. That is not a basis for doubting the res.

If if the point was to PROVE it happened I drag in the empty tomb and the guards. That's not really the issue for me when people talk about "validation."

But speaking of that there's more than just "people saw it" there's the concrete fact of the tomb. They take people to it they could point to it. There's the concrete fact of the guards. they knew they were there. they saw them. they new they were put there. There's probably a lot of talk because they were bribed to keep quite they probably couldn't.

how else cold they have gotten the movement started? why didn't the get the body and show it them and say "there he is he's still dead?" Why didn't they go to a tomb, any tomb and say "it's still sealed."

the people knew where the tomb was. they knew that particular tomb was guarded and sealed, now the its' open and empty and there are rumors the guards say the angles came down he rose.

Metacrock said...

8:13 PM
Delete
Blogger Brap Gronk said...

Part 2 of 2:

Brap (previously): "And I'm sure you don't need to be convinced of the weakness of eyewitness testimony."

Meta: "that's a fallacy. Obviously it's not weak its the only way to know what happened;"

Just because it's the only way to know doesn't mean it isn't weak.


Meta>>>
It's not that week. A bunch of saw something, basically the same thing that's a good reason to think they saw something. You can always doubt because you didn't see it. If you did see it you would be saying something different. You would be saying "I know what I saw!"


There is an entire spectrum of ways to know something, from strong to weak. If one of those at the weak end of the spectrum is the only one available for a particular event, it's still weak.

Meta>>>
Ok that's good. this is ONE way, this not a cut and dired It's all proved becuase of Josh McDowell. It's one aspect of the nature of belief.

I don't even see why we need the historical anymore, except I think it's there. It's better with it. What if we didn't have any historical evidence. that would be a reason to be believed based upon my own experiences. That they line up is even better.


"it's the only way we can check our perceptions,"

Eyewitness testimony _is_ perception, which is modified by the mind over time. I'd prefer audio and video recording to check my perceptions, actually.


Meta>>>
on the net go around I'll get the apostles to take a video camera. Hey I think Matthew had one of those real thin cell phones with a camera in it. But it was one of the early ones so the picture wasn't very good.

Metacrock said...

"it's a basic part of our natural epistemic instincts, and it's the backbone of the legal system. what you are confusing is that eye witnesses differ becuase human perceptions are subjective and differ, with the idea that it's somehow not worth using. That doesn't make it not worth anything. If so why do they still use it in courts?"

When that's all you have, then that's all you have. It is unfortunate that many innocent people have been sent to death row based solely on eyewitness testimony that was later proven false based on things like DNA evidence.

Meta>>>
bzzzZZZZZzzz! argument from analogy = fallacy.


I suspect eyewitness testimony is relied upon less when there is good video evidence of an incident.

Meta>>>
Naturally. where's your video evidence of Jesus not raising form the dead?

Can't you see that trying to indict 500 eye witnesses on the basis of s standard arguments about the unreliable nature of eye witnesses is just second rate schlock? It's way beneath you. That is not a basis for doubting the res.

If if the point was to PROVE it happened I drag in the empty tomb and the guards. That's not really the issue for me when people talk about "validation."

But speaking of that there's more than just "people saw it" there's the concrete fact of the tomb. They take people to it they could point to it. There's the concrete fact of the guards. they knew they were there. they saw them. they new they were put there. There's probably a lot of talk because they were bribed to keep quite they probably couldn't.

how else cold they have gotten the movement started? why didn't the get the body and show it them and say "there he is he's still dead?" Why didn't they go to a tomb, any tomb and say "it's still sealed."

the people knew where the tomb was. they knew that particular tomb was guarded and sealed, now the its' open and empty and there are rumors the guards say the angles came down he rose.



I would also suspect that physical evidence gathered at a crime scene sometimes supports and sometimes contradicts eyewitness testimony.


Meta>>>
the physical evidence here as I just pointed out, supports it.


Brap (previously): "Regarding the 500 witnesses to the resurrected Jesus, I believe that to be just a fabricated element of the resurrection story, much like the other people who were resurrected in Matthew 27."
\

Meta>>>
Of cousre, if you didn't you have a great big hunk of cognitive dissonance to deal with. Since we know where they came from it becomes very possible they did exist. I don't see how they could have gotten the movement going without them.

major non Christian scholars have been convenience by that.

Metacrock said...

Meta: "why? If eye witness testimony is so weak why do you need to get rid of the 500?"

Because people give eyewitness testimony more weight when it is corroborated. I'm suggesting it wasn't corroborated by a crowd of 500, so I have no need to claim a group hallucination occurred.


Meta>>>
gain saying the evidence. Paul is he source of it. Or the Pauline circle. Paul is known to have had early inside info--as his saying source. He's a good strong tie to the early chruch. he's validation for the Gospels.



Meta: "Ultimately you must be the witness. Your own existential encounter with the Divine is the only one that will convince you so you must be the witness. free your own inner witness by being open to the reality."

I'm open to any reality outside my mind that doesn't need my mind in order to exist. I'm not aware of any evidence of God's existence, nor any rationally warranted reason to believe in God's existence, outside the human mind.


Meta>>>
do you want to be? You should be. you are not listening very intently becuase I'm put down some pretty impressive stuff.

if we were arguing about something you don't have a stack in not buying I bet I would convince you.



I would also suspect that physical evidence gathered at a crime scene sometimes supports and sometimes contradicts eyewitness testimony.


Meta>>>
the physical evidence here as I just pointed out, supports it.


Brap (previously): "Regarding the 500 witnesses to the resurrected Jesus, I believe that to be just a fabricated element of the resurrection story, much like the other people who were resurrected in Matthew 27."
\

Meta>>>
Of cousre, if you didn't you have a great big hunk of cognitive dissonance to deal with. Since we know where they came from it becomes very possible they did exist. I don't see how they could have gotten the movement going without them.

major non Christian scholars have been convenience by that.


Meta: "why? If eye witness testimony is so weak why do you need to get rid of the 500?"

Because people give eyewitness testimony more weight when it is corroborated. I'm suggesting it wasn't corroborated by a crowd of 500, so I have no need to claim a group hallucination occurred.


Meta>>>
gain saying the evidence. Paul is he source of it. Or the Pauline circle. Paul is known to have had early inside info--as his saying source. He's a good strong tie to the early chruch. he's validation for the Gospels.



Meta: "Ultimately you must be the witness. Your own existential encounter with the Divine is the only one that will convince you so you must be the witness. free your own inner witness by being open to the reality."

I'm open to any reality outside my mind that doesn't need my mind in order to exist. I'm not aware of any evidence of God's existence, nor any rationally warranted reason to believe in God's existence, outside the human mind.


Meta>>>
do you want to be? You should be. you are not listening very intently becuase I'm put down some pretty impressive stuff.

if we were arguing about something you don't have a stack in not buying I bet I would convince you.

Metacrock said...

Brap why do you have to write so much? I can't get thing to post long long long deals. I lost a huge amount of this I don't want to back and back track it. I lost a lot of the stuff because it just wont post it when it's so long. even chopping it down it still just wont post certain things.

Brap Gronk said...

Meta: "Brap why do you have to write so much?"

For starters, I try to answer every question asked of me in discussions like this. I know people get frustrated when their questions are never answered, which usually leads to a communication breakdown. Then I have a tendency to also explain why I disagree with statements used to present the case for the opposing viewpoint, and, yeah, it does get lengthy at times.

Rather then reply point by point to your most recent responses, I will just answer one of your questions:

Meta: "why is Joseph Smith your standard? were you a Mormon?"

No, I never was a Mormon, and I didn't know anything about the history of the Mormon church until two or three years ago. The reason I like to bring up Joseph Smith occasionally is that although there are significant differences between Protestantism and Mormonism, Mormonism serves as an excellent example of how an influential person or persons can fabricate stories about the divine, get people to believe it to the point where they are willing to sacrifice and even die for it, and start a movement that remains a major worldwide religion to this day.

The holes in Mormonism are huge and easily refuted, yet Mormons are blinded by their faith and refuse to come to the logical conclusions about it. I recently came to the realization that becoming an apostate from any religion might be very similar to, or perhaps worse than, losing your closest family member. An apostate stands to lose not only his most important relationship, but also his way of life, even family and friends. I can only assume it's natural to fight such a loss with all of one's being, much like the fear of falling is hard to suppress.

Metacrock said...

you are through I enjoy your posts. ordinarily I wouldn't mind them being so long but I just can't get everything I answer posted. I always lose some becuase it wont take it and I have to cut it up then wind up losing stuff at the bottom.

Smith is not analogous to Christianity in general. It's very bad to get in the habit of arguing by analogy.