Thursday, November 06, 2008

Jesus Mythers Fail to Meet Burden of Proof Part I


On Carm one of my favorite dialouge partners ( say that seriously) from the Jesus myth camp has a huge tome directed against my arguments. His name is Grog and here is my answer to him:

There Major points I ask you to keep in mind before I put up Grog's argument:

I. I have eight arguments to prove Jesus existed. grog has never answered one of them. When I put them people have knit picked until the thread was crowded and ever got around to answering them.

II. The Jesus myth posiition has the burden of proof: Jesus existed as a man in history this is acceted as historical fact, it's in all major reference books, it's backed by all major historians and has been for 2000 years. No one ever questioned it until 1900 years after the fact.

By everything we mean when we use the word "fact" Jesus' existence as a man in history is historical fact! Those who seek to overtun that have the burden of proof. It is not enough for them to argue from silence. they must use positive proof.

III. Grog totally misses the point of the argument about Gospels as historical artifacts. He keeps arguing it from the stand point that there's not enough corroboration to show facts, But that totally misses the boat.

the argument is not that any one aspect of the story can be proven, the point is that the people who wrote it believed it to be historical fact. That means the story was accepted as fact from as early as AD 50 or so becasue the sources they worked from were being circulated in writing that early.

Gorg's argument:

I want to highlight this position because it still seems to lie at the base of foundational assumptions about who Jesus of Nazareth was as a person in history. From all quarters, I have observed the Gospels as cited as evidence for the basics of the Jesus story.

What I want to do here is demonstrate that this idea has been essentially discarded by modern scholarship.

This is far from being the case. I have sited Crosson, who is the probably the leading Bible scholar of the era, and I can and will site many others.I think we are talking at corss purposes. I think Grog is speaking of the accuracy of the stories in terms of the details, I am speaking of just the idea of Jesus existence per se.

In the latter sense the great overwhelming majority agree with Crosson who said:

My very general arguments are: (1) that existence is given in Christian, pagan, and Jewish sources; (2) it is never negated by even the most hostile critics of early Christianity (Jesus is a bastard and a fool but never a myth or a fiction!); (3) there are no historical parallels that I know of from that time and period that help me understand such a total creation. There is, however, a fourth point that I touched on in BofC 403-406. It is crucially important for me that Jesus sent out companions and told them to do exactly what he was doing (not in his name, but as part of the Kingdom of God). The most basic continuity that I see between Jesus and those companions was, as I put it, not in mnemonics, but in mimetics. In other words, they were imitating his lifestyle and not just remembering his words. I find that emphasized in the Q Gospel’s indictment of those who talk, but do not do, and in the Didache’s emphasis on the ways (tropoi) of the Lord (not just words/logoi). When, therefore, I look at a phrase such as "blessed are the destitute," and am quite willing to argue that it comes from the historical Jesus, I am always at least as sure that it represents the accurate summary of an attitude as the accurate recall of a saying. For analogy: If Gandhi had developed a large movement after his death of people who are living in non-violent resistance to oppression, and one of them cited an aphorism of Gandhi, namely "if you do not stand on a small bug, why would you stand on a Big Bug," I would be more secure on the continuity in lifestyle than in memory and could work on that as basis.

Several times in the last week I've quoted Kloppenborg (1996) on this

"...the simple link between the historical Jesus and any of the gospels had decisively been severed."
He is not speaking of the sheer existence of Jesus, he's speaking of the details of the story.

Grog goes on:

Rudolf Bultmann says:

"There is no question that the New Testament represents the Christ occurrence as a mythical occurrence." (Bultmann, 1952)

Bultmann said it was madness to say that Jesus didn't exist.

Bultmann"Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the Palestinian community."[Jesus and the Word (2nd ed.; New York: Scribners, 1958).p.13

We have no documented line of transmission between actual events in the first century and the written stories contained in the Gospels.

I don't know what he means by "line of transmission." I guess he means we don't know who wrote them. But yes, we do. the communities wrote them. The communities contained eye witnesses. see my essay on "Community as Author" There is a ton of strong evidence on this.

References to "communities' and "oral tradition" are speculative first, and, second, dependent upon the assumption that something really did happen in the 30's or so that inspired the story of Mark (the first Gospel).

such hypocrisy. the same scholars he's so proud of quoting to ditch the Gospels are the same one's who do these speculations.

Read the link!(above)

Metacrock makes a lot out of "pre-Mark" redaction without being specific as to the nature of what he is talking about.

a specificity he is not willing to meet. Balance that against his arguments form silence.

There is no question at all that in the evolution of the legendary Christ that there was also an evolution of stories, collections of sayings about that Christ. Kloppenborg warns against attributing anything from these sayings sources--which were composed documents, not oral tradition-to the actual person Jesus (whoever that may or may not have been).

He's speaking of the Gosepl of Thomas and stuff he's not talking about Matt or John. "saying source" he's talking about Q. that doesn't pertain to Apostolic authority for the Gospels in the canon. Most importantly, this statement in no way contradicts what Koester and Crosson say about the pre Mark redacting being mid century. Here Grog is trying to pull a fast one by mis applying it to something it's not speaking of. The fact that G.Thomas, G.Peter, Egerton 2 and others can be shown to share an early background with the canonical Gospels is absolutely proven and is not contradicted by this statement.

When we look at these collections of sayings and pieces of possible narrative, we do not find the full blown Gospel story. In the sayings, there is no crucifixion, resurrection, etc. The narrative, a passion narrative, is based on an amalgam of OT "prophecy"--Psalms 22 and Isaiah amongst others and pagan practices common to the area in which the passion narrative evolved. Paul references this drama play when he says in Galatians.

He's talking about saying sources like Q. of course you are not going to find narrative pieces in a saying source. It's just a list of sayings. why do you think they call it saying source!??

that is very disingenuous. It certainly doesn't apply, It applies to Q but not to GPete or the canonical gospels. There were early narrative just as there were early saying sources, although the saying sources were probably written first. That's the whole point of Crosson's Cross Gospel.

literary allusions to OT were a habit of Jewish writing they are not proof that they made it up and were unoriginal and patterned it after the OT.

Quote:Grog quoting Galatians in evidence of the previous point:
Gal 3:1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.

There is no hint in Paul that the actual event of Jesus's crucifixion was a) recent or b) by the Romans.
you just quoted it.

Nor does their need to be. Galatians was written between 54 and 59, so how recent is that in Paul's consciousness? He wasn't even around when it happened. There just is no reason to think Paul would reflect upon the events in the same way that those who lived them would have. Why would he mention the Romans as crucifying Jesus when his audience was Greek, Roman and Turkish? Paul was culturally Roman he didn't see the Romans with the kind of animosity that the Jews of Jerusalem did.

The details of the Jesus story only emerge in conjunction with the advent of the Gospel tradition. Early christians do not have a clear and consistent picture of Jesus until after (and it seems well after) the supposed time of the traditional dating of the Gospels(70-100).

That's true in a sense. That in no way proves it didn't happen before that, but it true that the canonical gospels were told in oral from and then written and redacted and circulated with in closed circles of their own community and only began to emerge by the end of the century. But that certainly doesn't prove the events didn't happen. The Koester stuff about passion narrative disproves the whole myther nonsense. It proves that the Jesus story, with empty tomb was circulating by ad 50 or there about. I have already demonstrated that most scholars (the scholars he tries to enlist on his side take the canonical as artifacts that indicate belief. But Grog only listens to them when they back him up, when they say stuff like Mark was written in 70 they don't know anything).

Most scholars believe mark was written in 70. But new sources push the dates back to the 60s. The pre Mark stuff pushes it back to the 40s.

1 Clement is clearly aware of the story and the Gospels. It quotes from Matt and Luke and uses quotes form the Ot in the way that Mark uses them.

But what he doesn't get is that the grounding of narrative in OT passages does not mean that they were unoriginal and made them up by patterning them after the old testament. They are siting he passages in an allusion for prophecy they are not trying to pull a fast one and write the same story in a new form.

I documented in an earlier response to Metacrock the divergent views of early Church Fathers. Metacrock's challenge was based on flawed information, which I demonstrated as well.

He demonstrated by mentioning that he disagreed, not by presenting evidence. of course he' ignoring the arguments I used that he didn't even answer.

(He asked for reference on Origen, and I did find the reference to Jesus being invisible in de pincipiis, on the incarnation (shapeshifting I did not find which may be a flawed remembrance or I just didn't find it. I remember reading a passage somewhere, but I will let go of that one).

there is no quote where he says Jesus was a shape shifter! that's crazy. Quote it to me here! I can't believe you would actually say that.

So we first hear of Pilate in relation to the execution of Jesus from a non-gospel source through Ignatius in the early second century. No other detail of the Life of Jesus is to be found before this time (sayings, yes, details no): no cleansing of the Temple, no flogging, no Pilate, no Caiaphas, no Mary of Bethany, no virgin birth, etc., etc.

(1) He totally ignores that fact that Pilate is accepted as historical because he is mentioned in secular history twice.

(2) he just pretends the gospels didn't exist. see how backward myther thinking is? clearly the gospels written much earlier are being discussed and martial in them spoken of decades latter by latter writers. but by pretending they didn't exist and just taking out of reality they can pretend tha those discussing the material in them mention that material for the first time.

Its' a mania, it's a disease its crazy.I cant' tell you how grossly absurd this whole contagion is.

After the emergence and dispersion of the Gospel stories, references to details about Jesus's life become common. It is often argued that the earliest Christians had no need to refer to the story of Jesus because it was so well-known, still fresh in the memory, but this assumption (necessary to maintenance of the normative paradigm), is seriously flawed and must, if you are holding it, be examined thoroughly.

First, is it common that, even if an event is well-known it is not referred to? No, in fact, it is the other way around. You find references in the literature. People refer to what happened as a source of inspiration. People retell and retell

(1) Of course again he's leaving out the whole trajectory of the Gospels. take them out of reality put them in a little bubble they didn't' exist and those who wrote them didn't' believe anything and had no effect on the community.

(2) after this pretense they just ignore aspects of the story mentioned in other works of the day: Paul, who does mention details of the gospels, but the mythers just totally ignore them and pretend they don't' say them because they don't' say the one's the are looking for Mary, and the manger and all this stuff. the crucifixion is a detail form Jesus life that Paul meantions and they of course totally pretend he does not.

(3) Hebrews, 1 Clement, The Dideque, (Teaching of the twelve) gospel of the savior, Egerton 2, 34 lost gospels, all of these mention details of the narratives in the canonical gospels. Somehow they just manage not ignore them completely.

(4) they would have had uneven and combined development of knowledge. In other words. The Gospels weren't just dispatched to Rome the day they were written. They circulated in the community for yearsa nd were unknown in other parts of the church. It took time for them to be circulated outside of their communities. It was that period where no one knew much that we are talking about. They jsut begin to show up in wide circulation around the 90s. that's why it appears they just making up the details of the story that late, becasue the particular telling just made it there then.

but they knew some details before that as we see in Pauline writings.

Remember that great catch by Lynn Swann over Rod Perry (was it Perry?)? And they write about it. That Paul just didn't need to retell the story of Jesus to the Galatians or the Romans because it so permeated society that there was no need is a thinly disguised rationalizatoin for the lack of references to the story until the second century. Paul when describing the burdens he carries for Christ doesn't refer to Simon the Cyrene? No. Not because he thinks everybody's heard the story so he doesn't have to recount it, but because the story doesn't yet exist.

They didn't all have the same sets of info at the same time. that's just a simple fact of the reality of the ancient world. The writings we know as the canonical gospels were unknown to Paul, but the basic story line was not. He says nothing to substantially contradict it. We have tons of indications that this is the case. The time that it starts to catch up in terms of dissemination of the Gospel writings is the late first century, tah make sit look to the mythers like they are just making it up then.

of course those guys don't need any real facts.

The secondary assumption that the story was common and needed no retelling is undermined by the fact that there is no reference to it in the contemporary literature. Philo does not reference this story about Jesus of whom his followers claimed was the Son of God, the very intermediary that Philo had written so much about. Either for or against, one would expect Philo to say something. Josephus makes no mention, at least in his earliest work, it ever. Seneca--no mention. No one who was contemporary with time recorded this event.

foolish and dishonest argument. I've told you before, and I've proven it by documenting tom the life of Philo, he was not in Alexandra in the time Jesus did his thing.

That means he could not have heard of Jesus until latter, and he was not important to him that through your head. you don't know what you are talking about that's Jesus myther dishonesty. distorting the facts. the facts.

this is from my website Doxa:

Quote:Metacrock: Doxa
First century Sources that don't mention Jesus.

[form JP Holding--Teckton Apologetics]

"A final consideration is that we have very little information from first-century sources to begin with. Not much has survived the test of time from A.D. 1 to today. Blaiklock has cataloged the non-Christian writings of the Roman Empire (other than those of Philo) which have survived from the first century and do not mention Jesus. These items are":

* An amateurish history of Rome by Vellius Paterculus, a retired army officer of Tiberius. It was published in 30 A.D., just when Jesus was getting started in His ministry.

* An inscription that mentions Pilate.

* Fables written by Phaedrus, a Macedonian freedman, in the 40s A.D.

* From the 50s and 60s A.D., Blaiklock tells us: "Bookends set a foot apart on this desk where I write would enclose the works from these significant years." Included are philosophical works and letters by Seneca; a poem by his nephew Lucan; a book on agriculture by Columella, a retired soldier; fragments of the novel Satyricon by Gaius Petronius; a few lines from a Roman satirist, Persius; Pliny the Elder's Historia Naturalis; fragments of a commentary on Cicero by Asconius Pedianus, and finally, a history of Alexander the Great by Quinus Curtius.