Sunday, April 29, 2007

FRitz Von Eric and the Atheists

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Fritz Von Eric was a professional westler. His career spanned the 50's to the 70's. i think he retired about mid 70's maybe early 80s. He had a passle of sons, they were all champions and all but one died of drugs or sucide.He had a "brother" (Waldo Von Eric) who was not actually his brother. Anotehr totally unrelated guy also made a career move being Waldo's faek son, so false cousin "Lantz" wrestled in tag team wtih several real Von Eric boys, whose real name was Adkisson.Fristz was master of the "Iron claw" a move whereby he grabs hold of the temples with tung and index finger and squeez for all he's worth. We used to go around doing the iron claw on each other, my brother and I as kids. The thing is Fritz was a good guy in Dallas where he was part park promoter of the events. But in other oplaces he was a bad guy, even using chairs in the wring.The athist deconversion scams remind me of Fritz von Eric because they pretend to be humanists who care about truth. But in pulling thier decon scams nothing matters. they pull otu all th stopds to isprove christainity. Their major method for disproof is to pretend to have a dramatic antipconversion in which they came to "realize" there is no God. this si suppossed to coutner a conversion story because they dont' undersatnd faith anyway so they have no idaea why experinces mean something.all one can do is sign and say O wne will the bein to listen? well they wont until they want to. Pleanty of them wanted to. The iedea that some marginal "bleiever" who never really got born again can "lose" a fatih he never had proves nothing at all.The fact that one's life can change dramatically when that peroson had always been hlepless to cchange before proves a very great deal.In the spirit of subtrafuge which is the heart of th decon scam, probalby motived by the ouije cult, liar have decided that lying doesn't mater so they just pretend to be christians. when you call it them on it spout this half backed and badly misunderstood argument called true scottsman fallacywhich doesn't apply to belief systems anyway.It's really justa matter of wording the charg right. But unblief gives itsefl away in its non understanding of the nature of belief. We can tell who loves and knows God and who doesn't. by the way they talk. Someone whose faith is strong wont say "i deiced to pray god give me a banna split and make it appear before my eyes right now' just as an exercize so I coud believe more and he didn't, so there's no god.I can't think of anything more childiish and idiotic. Do you like being ordered abotu by selfish self aborbed people who don't listen to you to begin with? NO? why then expect God to put up with it?There are othr apspects f the decon scams but what really gets me is just the idea that losing your faith woudl prove something anyway. Obivously not finding God is never a proof that theer is no God, but its cleary how finging hmi would be a proof. ig you don't find something that doesn't mean it didn't exist. if you do find it that proves it does's my page on he No True scottsman. see what all the atheists get wrong the way they use it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Have Tomb, Will Argue

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I was off line on Easter, but PBS ran the show on "Secrets of the Dead" which focuses upon the Biddle's excavation of the Chruch of the Holy Seplechur (CHS) as the tomb of Christ, I thought this would be a good time to re-print this Blog peice. This is four long pages. thus like the Doherty critique I may break it up by other posts in between.

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

"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 Ediculead
"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 BiddleTomb of ChistIsrael Review of Arts and LettersWesite belonging to:Israel Ministry Foreign Affairsvisited 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."

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.orgThe 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 BiddleTomb of ChistIsrael Review of Arts and LettersIsrael 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 AdventCatholic EncyclopeidaHoly SeplechurA.L. MCMAHONTranscribed by Robert B. Olson
"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 AdventCatholic EncyclopeidaHoly SeplechurA.L. MCMAHONTranscribed 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.


"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."

Monday, April 09, 2007

part 4: Answering Doherty's "Evolution of Jesus"

Doherty assumes what we have just disproved, the latter development of Cross and tomb, in order to assert a fictional Q community that lacked knowledge of Jesus and set up the basic Q document:

"If, on the other hand, the "biography" of Jesus of Nazareth was something unusual which went against the grain of current knowledge and belief, one can understand how early versions of the Gospels, written around the turn of the century, would have enjoyed only limited use and isolated reworking for at least a generation."
The Gospels would certainly be limited in acceptance even if the cross and the tomb were early and well known. Doherty wants us to think its because something totally new is being introduced into a tradition that never had it before, and that is true, but that doesn't mean the new element is the cross/tomb part of the story, nor is it an earthly Jesus. What's new is the introduction of written sources as more authoritative than oral sources. Papias complains that he likes to hear the spoken word better than the written word, this indicates that even as late as the early second century some oral tradition was still lingering. The Gospels do not have to have been written by their namesakes to be inspired but even with Apostolic backing they would still take time to spread, and still take time to gain authority. No one thought of these sources as scripture. We have always known scripture, for the early church, meant the Old Testament, not what we call "the New Testament." The gospel authors didn't think of themselves as writing "the Bible." Of course the whole assertion has been disproved anyway because the early Christian writings were full of quotations and allusions to the Gospels.

At this point Doherty makes one of his most crucial moves, grounding the canonicals in the Q tradition. He tries to establish the primacy of Q as an older and more authoritative source, then he will try to separate it form Jesus completely and argue that the Christians took it over form some other group noting to do with Jesus to begin with. We shall examine this on the next page
The core of the historical Jesus precedes the Gospels and was born in the community or circles which produced the document now called "Q" (for the German "Quelle," meaning "source"). No copy of Q has survived, but while a minority disagree, the majority of New Testament scholars today are convinced that Q did exist, and that it can be reconstructed from the common material found in Matthew and Luke which they did not get from Mark.

Of course this is very misleading because there is no Q document. What we have are traces of some tradition, but it could as easily be a version of Matthew or Matthew's "Logia" (of which Papias speaks) or Thomas, or even non existent. A lot of scholarly movement is found back in the direction of anti-Q feeling, and one need not abandon Marcan priority to abandon Q (Mark Goodacre "Fallacies at the Heart of Q" and Alen J. MacNichol "Has Goulder Sunck Q?"). Trying to attach Q to a historical community is especially amazing since we don't even know what Q was.

Doherty rightly points out (according to theory) that Q was not a narrative but a "saying source," and in that sense not a conventional "Gospel" as we think of Gospels. It was filled with ethical sayings and prophetic utterances, but none of the statements about the cross or the tomb fall within the Q range of sayings. Of course that would be true because they are used in all three synoptics. If Q is automatically assumed based upon material shared by Matthew and Luke but not in Mark (of course they do allow for overlaps but that's another issue) then automatically the tomb and cross would be excluded because it's in all three. That in no way proves that it was missing from Q. Its' just a matter of dogmatically excluding such sayings from that which we call "Q." Since don't have a copy of Q it makes it very easy to say "the cross and the tomb were not in Q."

In accessing Q's origin Doherty says: "It was the product of a Jewish (or Jewish imitating) sectarian movement located in Galilee which preached a coming Kingdom of God." Koster warns to be careful of the assertion that it was from Galilee. The assertion is based upon the only place names in Q, but there could be other reasons why those are the only place names used:

Helmutt Koester (remember page 1? Doherty quotes him as an authority) warns us not to do exactly what Doherty is doing, assuming a fictional group based upon the cynical sounding nature of some Q passages!
Helmut Koester:

Q 10:13-15 announces the coming judgment explicitly with the view to two Galilean towns, Chorazin and Bethsaida: even Tyre and Didon will be better off in the coming judgment. And the same saying threatens that Capernaum will be condemned to Hades. Except for the lament over Jerusalem (Q 13:34-35) and the localization of John the Baptist's activity in the area of the Jordan (Q 3:3), these are the only names of places which occur in Q. It is, therefore, tempting to assume that the redaction of Q took place somewhere in Galilee and that the document as a whole reflects the experience of a Galilean community of followers of Jesus. But some caution with respect to such conclusion seems advisable for several reasons. One single saying provides a very narrow base. Polemic against the Pharisees cannot confirm Galilean provenance - Greek-speaking Pharisees could be found elsewhere in the Diaspora, viz., Paul who persecuted the church in Greek-speaking synagogues, probably in Syria or Cilicia. Even the sayings used for the original composition of Q were known and used elsewhere at an early date: they were known to Paul, were used in Corinth by his opponents, employed perhaps in eastern Syria for the composition of the Gospel of Thomas, and quoted by 1 Clement in Rome at the end of the 1st century. The document itself, in its final redacted form, was used for the composition of two gospel writings, Matthew and Luke, which both originated in the Greek-speaking church outside of Palestine. (Ancient Christian Gospels, p. 164).
Doherty links the first layer of Q with counter cultural non Christian movements, (as Koster warns against) hatching out for himself a bogus history for his fictional Galilean cynical non Jesus worshipping Q community:
Scholars have concluded that Q was put together over time and in distinct stages. They have identified the earliest stratum (calling it Q1) as a set of sayings on ethics and discipleship; these contained notably unconventional ideas. Many are found in Matthew's Sermon on the Mount: the Beatitudes, turn the other cheek, love your enemies. A close similarity has been noted (see F. Gerald Downing, "Cynics and Christians," NTS 1984, p.584-93; Burton Mack, A Myth of Innocence, p.67-9, 73-4) between these maxims and those of the Greek philosophical school known as Cynicism, a counterculture movement of the time spread by wandering Cynic preachers. (Mack has declared that Jesus was a Cynic-style sage, whose connection with things Jewish was rather tenuous.) Perhaps the Q sect at its beginnings adopted a Greek source, with some recasting, one they saw as a suitable ethic for the kingdom they were preaching. In any case, there is no need to impute such sayings to a Jesus; they seem more the product of a school or lifestyle, formulated over time and hardly the sudden invention of a single mind.
He's making the assumption that Q is the oldest Christian teaching, because it has an older strata. But that in no way means it's the oldest of Christian teaching. Just because Q goes through a development form cynical sounding ethical sayings to concrete history of Jesus life in no way indicates that the church's understanding went through that evolution. The PMR that embodied the Tomb/cross tradition could be just as old. Here we are comparing narrative action with ethical teaching. If one has only a concept of writing down teachings and sayings, not story lines, how does one include a narrative in a list of sayings? That doesn't prove the narrative didn't exist. All it proves is that Christian literary consciousness expanded. It moved from the static saying source to a dynamic narrative account, but this took several decades. No one had ever written a Gospel before, the communities that invented the Gospels invented the literary form. There is a good reason why the ethical saying would be older than the narrative too, because they originated out of Jesus own teachings while he was alive. That's a very good reason why the group of original disciples would have Jesus ethical says already memorized and already being copied before they got to any narrative action. They probably already had them memorize before Jesus went to the cross. So of course the body of ethical teachings could be set aside as a separate unit and preserved in the memory of the group apart from the story.

Let's consider this argument. We have indications that in the latter part of Jesus ministry he began to attract a lot of people. Women were following the camp and taking care of things (cooking, cleaning). Lots of people were always about. Jesus sends out 72 disciples (Matthew 13) to preach and work miracles. Where did he get them? From the body of followers that had began to surround him. Matthias replaced Judas. The Apostles said "he has been with us from the beginning." So clearly there were other disciples who followed Jesus and who made a camp and regularly around him. wouldn't these people, and new followers as well, want a list of the teachings they were signing up to learn and follow? Jesus was telling them how to live, so they were memorizing sayings about ethics and daily living. The Sermon on the mount was a classic example of Jesus' ethical teaching and thus we find ethical teachings in Q. What if Q represents a list of ethical teachings largely compiled before Jesus had even died? That would be a good reason for it to leave out the cross and the tomb. It may have been used to teach new camp followers about the ethical system Jesus was teaching. After Jesus died they would save the list, they would copy it and pass it on. It is our conditioning to think Jesus = Gospels, that conditioning tells us they had to add a narrative. There is a very good reason why they would not have added the narrative to the sayings list. They were not running a six o'clock news program, they all knew he died. They knew about the empty tomb. They were probably re-telling the women's finding of the tomb every night in their communal meals. There would be no need to add these things to list of teachings, but the sacrosanct nature of the teachings given by the Master before he died and went away would be reason enough to keep the list intact. I'm not saying this is anywhere near proven, but it's alternative that explain the situation without the radial conclusion that the early community did not have knowledge of the cross or the tomb.

Doherty is also assuming from the outset, dogmatically, that they are not Christians in the sense of having a Jesus story. He assumes that Jesus emerges from their ranks and the sect was already going as a cynical group oriented around some body of ethical teaching. He has absolutely no reason to assume this whatsoever, and it seems the Galilee is a major part of his assumption, and of that Koester warns us not to make too much. Of course that's convenient for Doherty because it "explains" why Jesus would come from Galilee. The group put him forward, Doherty will argue because they needed a heroic figure to counter John the Baptist. But we will get to that latter. The fact of the saying having a cynical flavor in no way means they were not Jesus' teachings or that there was any original group to which Jesus belonged. It could just as well be that the cynics were on to something and Jesus' actual teachings coincide with theirs. Of maybe he liked the cynics. That doesn't create Doherty's fictional group. Actually, the sayings are not that close to the cynical mind set. They no more the cynics than any number of ethical view points. At that point Doherty has no reason to assume that these sayings were taken over by a Jewish group with eschatological expectations. He needs this to explain the rise of the Jesus myth form this group (the need for a leader). But there is no reason to assume it. He can't show a reason why a Jewish eschatologically oriented group would be concerned with cynical teachings.

There probably had to be a group that produced the Q document (assuming there was a Q document) but to assert that it was cynical, that it was pre Christian, that it knew nothing of Jesus, is all uncalled for and to assert that it did not know Jesus death is just plain wrong. The Burton Mack assumption that Q lacks a death of Christ is totally wrong, and this opens the door to the notion that the cross was expunged from Q material. But be that as it may, there is good reason not to understand these cynical sounding Q statements as indication of a group producing Q material prior to a Christian group.

David Seely argues that the cynical expression had become so popular among Greek speaking Jews that it could be found everywhere, and that it was used as a means of framing the Jewish understanding of prophetic death. Jesus death was then dealt with by early community in way that the deaths of the OT prophets were dealt with, which means framing it in a cynical outlook:

David Seeley


[This article first appeared in New Testament Studies 38 (1992) 222-34; it appears here by permission of Cambridge University Press. The Greek of the original has been transliterated.]
The Sayings Gospel Q is notable for lacking an account of Jesus' death./1/ It is surprising that one early Christian document is apparently so indifferent to an event which plays a profound role in others (e.g., Romans, Mark). Scholars have, to be sure, observed that the issue of persecution and/or death is often referred to in Q, and many have come to believe that these references are casting an implicit glance at the death of Jesus himself. According to this line of thought, early Christians would have used the deaths of the prophets to connect Jesus' death with those of his followers. I do not intend to argue against this. Rather, I will propose that there is also another view according to which Q related Jesus' death and those of his followers. This view involved common, Cynic-Stoic ideas of the time.

The Deuteronomistic-Prophetic Understanding of Jesus' Death in Q In Q, there are six passages which deal with the issue of violent persecution and/or death (Q 6:22-23, 6:27-29, 11:47-51, 12:4, 13:34-35, and 14:27)./2/ Three of these mention the prophets./3/ Q 6:22-23 cautions Jesus' followers not to sorrow over being persecuted, for the prophets received similar treatment. Q 11:47-51 refers to the deaths of the prophets and apostles. Q 13:34-35 refers to the deaths of the prophets alone. These verses imply that Q may have understood Jesus' death in terms of the deaths of the prophets. This implication has grown easier to follow in light of O. H. Steck's work. Steck has argued that, by the first century CE, two important ideas had coalesced: 1) a belief that prophets were habitually killed by the recalcitrant Israelites; 2) the deuteronomistic view of Israel's repeated disobedience against God's laws./4/ Steck has termed this coalescence the deuteronomistic-prophetic view. According to it, the Israelites would sin, God would send his messengers to admonish them, and the people, compounding their sin, would kill those messengers. Nehemiah 9:26 provides important evidence for Steck's argument: "[the Israelites] were disobedient and rebelled against thee [God] and cast thy law behind their back and killed thy prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to thee, and they committed great blasphemies."

In conclusion Seely argues that the framing of Jesus death in this way would have been a very widespread element throughout Jewish culture of the time.
This article has done three things. First, it has pointed out that Q 14:27 does not match the deuteronomistic-prophetic interpretation of Jesus' death, even though the verse seems to address that death more directly than other Q passages. Second, it has proposed that 14:27 does match Cynic-Stoic views on the nature of a teacher's death and its relationship to disciples' deaths. Third, the article has asserted that this kind of influence is plausible from a cultural, chronological, and social standpoint. Though the arguments presented here are obviously not the only ones that can be entertained concerning this verse, they nevertheless deserve serious reflection./50/
He moves on to the next stage in the development of Q. He's trying to hitchhike his bogus notion of the fictional Jesus story being born out of this evolution of the Q group. He's trying to graft one on to the other.
This formative stage of Q scholars call "sapiential," for it is essentially an instructional collection of the same genre as traditional "wisdom" books like Proverbs, though in this case with a radical, counterculture content. Later indications (as in Luke 11:49) suggest that the words may have been regarded as spoken by the personified Wisdom of God (see Part Two), and that the Q preachers saw themselves as her spokespersons.

Here he is making several major assumptions not in evidence. He's making a connection that shouldn't be made, he wants us to think that because some wisdom traditions embodied a personification of wisdom, that must be the case with all wisdom literature. Solomon's Ecclesiastes is a wisdom tradition and that uses the vehicle of the wise but flesh and blood Solomon as it's author, not some idealized wisdom figure. Doherty wants to splice together these ideas of the idealized personification of wisdom with the eternal Jesus because group needed a wisdom figure. But this way of doing it is so clumsy and so contrived. I want Doherty to show me one example of any group anywhere in the world that ever did things this way. As I have argued before, he has mythology running backwards. No group first exists as an amorphous blob loosely connected to some set of ideas, decides that it needs a mascot to focus it's ideology and then drafts some ethereal being and then shapes it into a concrete historically bound story.

One also wonders what the group was about in the first place. He has a group of cynics, apparently organized around a set of sayings, and those saying are taken over by a Jewish eschatological group, which then has a crisis of leadership and needs to make up a wisdom figure to embody the sayings and give the group a new leader after the loss of the old one (John the B) but wouldn't the first set of sayings require a leader to say them to begin with? How could they just take over this group of sayings from a pagan religion and then work them into the fabric of their group separate and apart form the teachings of their own leader, then cram them into the mouth of their new fictional leader. How would all work for group cohesion in real life?

He pulls this splicing of ethereal Jesus with need or wisdom figure in the coincidence of the prophetic layer of Q.

The next stratum of Q (labeled Q2) has been styled "prophetic," apocalyptic. In these sayings the community is lashing out against the hostility and rejection it has received from the wider establishment. In contrast to the mild, tolerant tone of Q1, Q2 contains vitriolic railings against the Pharisees, a calling of heaven's judgment down on whole towns. The figure of the Son of Man enters, one who will arrive at the End-time to judge the world in fire; he is probably the result of reflection on the figure in Daniel 7. Here we first find John the Baptist, a kind of mentor or forerunner to the Q preachers. Dating the strata of Q is difficult, but I would suggest that this second stage falls a little before the Jewish War.
Here He has the community turning to the prophetic as a means of attack against the rejection they have already encountered. Who would reject and who would identify with this amorphous blob oriented around a few sayings of the Greek cynics? If there was pre Christian Q community that was oriented around the Greek cynics, they would probably have been placid and boring; the cynics were akin to the stoics, they took everything in stride and avoided emotions, if they lived in a Rodenberry universe, they would be Vulcans. Why were they rejected exactly, prior to finding this mascot (Jesus) what drew them together as a group? Just for a few cynical sayings? I think we have to do better than this. Of course its much more likely that Jesus emerged as a real flesh and blood person out of Galilee because that was a political hotbed rife with revolutionaries. It's far more likely that Jesus had this burning concept of the prophetic because real people who actually lived in Galilee thought that way, not like the placid cynics or stoics; It's really much more likely that Jesus was into this prophetic frame of mind because the Jews were into that way of thinking at that time, and because the Galilee was the hotbed of such thinking. The placid nature of a group oriented around cynicism would not fit the revolutionary zeal of the Galilee. Cynicism was popular and could fit into a larger background, but Doherty is assuming the group was oriented around the Q sayings which are cynical in nature, but he can't furnish us with a notion of the nature of the original group. Of course one might argue that if Jesus existed Christians must accept that he really thought those things so he had to more than just a revolutionary, but a thinker deeper than mere politics. That's true, but it works better with a real person. That's the kind of inconsistency one finds in real people. It's harder to see how it would it capture the imagination of a group without a real leader.

The only real clue Doherty can give us about the nature of the group is that it would be Jewish, and thus oriented around some notions of Messianic expectations of the end times. To that extent it seems a contradiction in character that their whole ethical teaching would be based upon the cynics. Now one might argue, "hey but Jesus has the same problem." But Jesus was as a real flesh and blood man could draw criticism and be seen as a challenge to authority and gain the ire of others, but as a fictional mascot who knows? Doherty assumes that the Q group would delve into the end times, understands that the son of Man comes from Daniel but seems oblivious to the fact that this was a standard epithet for the Messiah. So when Jesus speaks of himself as "son of man" in third person he is actually saying "I am the Messiah." This would have been a commonplace for the Jews.

There is good reason to conclude that even at this stage there was no Jesus in the Q community's thinking. That is, the wisdom and prophetic sayings in their original form would have contained no mention of a Jesus as speaker or source. They were pronouncements of the community itself and its traditional teachings, seen as inspired by the Wisdom of God.

one can only wonder why, Out of a hotbed of revolutionary zeal a placid cynic-stoic group (cynicism and stoicism when hand in hand) with a bland message (Love your neighbor) suddenly feels put upon, when in reality they would have been totally ignored in the revolutionary world of the Galilee? One wonders why they would muster prophetic sayings anyway with nothing more than "love your neighbor" and the like as the center of their group identity.

Doherty hitchhikes on the back of Q in seeking to play textual critic. He tries to show a disjunction between the persona of Jesus of Nazareth and the ethical says and the "son of man" statements of Jesus. He's arguing that these statements are being put in Jesus mouth, and this is supposed to prove that the Q group existed without any Jesus in their ranks and separately from any idea of a flesh and blood earthly rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth.

For while Matthew and Luke often show a common wording or idea in a given saying core, when they surround this with set-up lines and contexts involving Jesus, each evangelist offers something very different. (Compare Luke 17:5-6 with Matthew 17:19-20). This indicates that Q had preserved nothing which associated the sayings with a ministry of Jesus, a lack of interest in the source of the teaching which would be unusual and perplexing.

Or it could indicate that the evangelists organized their material in terms of the needs of their contemporary community. That's what scholars think they did, how then can this be evidence for the addition of a fictional Jesus? I think what he's talking about is what scholars call "pericopes" (per-ic-op-pees) which are independent units of story. An example would be Jesus healing the leper. That can be taken out and put in any number of places and not ruin the flow of the overall narrative. We find this happening all the time. For example In John Jesus cleanses the temple at the beginning of this ministry, in the synoptics he does it at the end as part of the Eastern weekend, and high drama leading up to the arrest. For John cleansing the temple serves to kick off Jesus ministry, for the synoptics it serves as a plot device to lead to the arrest. The evangelists weren't too concerned with chronology of each saying or each incident. They had more or less a free flowing narrative. Doherty sees this as proof that there is no history to the Jesus story, most scholars see it as an indication that these guys were not historians but preachers. They did not have a concept of writing history but were writing sermons for the community. Moreover, this device, the pericope was brought out by Bautlmann in his development of form criticism. It probably developed in this manner as indicative of oral testimony. In trying to memorize a long story one works with small independent units. Then in writing it down the redactors realized that they could play with the chronology of the units. Again this is proof, not that the Jesus story evolved over time as though it was fiction, but that the church learned, little by little, how to write.

Let's examine the two passages Doherty mentions:
Luke 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

Luke 17:6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

Mat 17:19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

Mat 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

These are clearly very similar statements but not identical. For one thing Jesus might actually used these two different illustrations at different times. Of course the structure of the statement is close enough that they are clearly following a pattern. No one talks in such a way as to use the very same syntax over and over again. Still the fact that there is a minor difference (one is dealing with a tree, the other a mountain) might indicate that there is a reason why similar statements are put in two different contexts. To just conclude "O well its' because it's all made up and there' no history to base it on" is absurd. Looking at the context one can see that the notion of fitting the statement to the needs of the community is probably the answer.

Doherty sees the content of Gospel discourse infused with material from a pre-Christian sect devoted to Jewish prophetic expectations in Greek cynical format. He finds that the "son of man" sayings are indicative of this barrowing. The "son of man" is a common euphemism for Messiah, it probably comes from the statement in Daniel that the prophet saw in a vision "one like unto a son of man" (meaning he was extraterrestrial but looked human). Doherty sees the third person usage of this terminology as barrowing because it is as though Jesus is referring to someone else:
Nor are the apocalyptic Son of Man sayings (about his future coming) identified with Jesus, which is why, when they were later placed in his mouth, Jesus sounds as though he is talking about someone else. When one examines John the Baptist's prophecy at the opening of Q (Luke 3:16-17), about one who will come "who is mightier than I," who will baptize with fire and separate the wheat from the chaff, we find no reference to a Jesus or an enlightened teacher or prophet who is contemporary to John. Rather, this sounds like a prophecy of the coming Son of Man, the apocalyptic judge, a prophecy put into John's mouth by the Q community.
What Doherty is unwittingly doing here is stumbling onto Jewish Messianic expectations, since he doesn't know anything about them, he's making assumptions based upon surface appearance. First of all, the statements about the "son of man" as they would be used in Daniel and in inter testamental literature would not be connected to any particular person. Secondly, of course there is a link between John's "one who is coming" and the son of man, of course both do represent the Messiah. John does not detach them from Jesus. They were detached as they appear in other venue, but since John questioning Jesus directly he's connecting them to Jesus. That just leaves the mystery as to why Jesus speaks of the "son of man" In third person. It could be a sort of royal we. I have always felt this is what I call 'signature fulfillment.' Certain things Jesus did that make no sense except as a way of leaving a finger print; he's saying 'I am the Messiah!' One example is before the arrest telling the disciples to guy a sword so they would be numbered among transgressors. What a useless idea, and they didn't even intend to use it. why would he do that? To be numbered among transgressors was a Messianic expectation. Why does he go out of his way to make a self fulfilling prophecy? Because he's signing his name, he's saying "I am the one about whom this was written." So in referring to himself as "son of man" he's saying "I am the son of man." Would we have him speak in an awkward fashion and say "I will come, btw I am the son of man" rather than "when the son of man comes." He doesn't have to add "that's me folks" because we know by the fact that when we read it we think "hey but that's him, why is he speaking of it in third person when it's him?" Doherty's argument about it proves the point, it's efficacy in forcing one to confront the signature. It serves its purpose when it makes us think, but wait, the "son of man" is supposed to be him, so why is he using third person?"

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I shall return

I apologize for taking such a long time to put up a new blogpiece. But my anti-spyware program began to thin it was Richard Nixon.It made an enemies list and began zapping half the programs on hard drive as spy ware. Unfortuantley, aol was one of them.NO computer now. I had to kill it before the new ai brewing in the spyware program accessed NORAD and took over the world.

Geting on from library is slow and not fun. But I shall return.

I shall return

I apologize for taking such a long time to put up a new blogpiece. But my anti-spyware program began to thin it was Richard Nixon.It made an enemies list and began zapping half the programs on hard drive as spy ware. Unfortuantley, aol was one of them.NO computer now. I had to kill it before the new ai brewing in the spyware program accessed NORAD and took over the world.

Geting on from library is slow and not fun. But I shall return.