B.C II

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Jesus as a failed apocalyptic prophet.
« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2012, 07:52:29 am »
I see there is so much to comment on and hopefully I can in due time but the one thing that I wanted to comment on was Reincarnation.

My logic with that is simply that, if Reincarnation is true, then one basically has an infinite regress of past events and if that is certainly true then we need a universe for the past events to occur in. This brings up ultimately the question of an eternal universe, or a temporal and finite universe. There is no (to my mind and observation) evidence of eternal/infinite universe. Oddly, I figured nothing physical in nature (as the Universe is) could be 'eternal' (hence heat death)

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Fred

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« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2012, 11:32:27 am »

lapwing wrote:

Quote from: fredonly
We can't imagine how aliens could have come to earth, but we could come up with some ad hoc hypotheses like space warps or faster-than-light travel (routine assumptions is science fiction). It seems to me there's about as much evidence for this as there is for miracles: even if we assume a God exists, that doesn't imply he necessarily has any inclination to interfere with the natural workings of the universe he created.

Faster than light travel!

I'm assuming this is tongue in cheek - contrary to the laws of physics to which aliens from another planet would be subject. The God whom Christians worship is not limited in this way since He created and maintains the universe.

Tongue in cheek?! Nay, my friend. I take my science fiction seriously*! But I was being intentionally ad hoc. If you can't prove something to be physically impossible then you have to accept that it could possibly be true. Scientific theory is not provably true.

*idea for FTL space travel: inflaton drive; inflaton is the hypothetical field that is responsible for inflation in the early universe. During inflation, the universe was expanding at speed that were many orders of magnitude higher than the speed of light.

Regarding the God worshiped by Christians: your answer works fine for a Christian, but to a non-Christian the answer will seem as ad hoc as my inflaton drive. We have no reason to think God is impossible, and reason to think inflaton drive is impossible. There is no evidence for the existence of either.

lapwing wrote: Reincarnation

I don't think I actually rejected this. I tried to say that any evidence is going to be indirect unlike seeing the risen Jesus. I don't think the Bible says anything about reincarnation.

The evidence we have for the risen Jesus is indirect. You are assuming there were eyewitnesses at the root of the stories that made it into the Bible. You are free to do that based on your faith, but if you remove the faith-based assumptions, the evidence is more indirect than the evidence for Reincarnation.

The gospels vs current preaching on WWJD?

These are not the same: "would" is not the same as "did".

OK – it's not exactly the same thing, but it has some similarity. It is a hypothesis that some historians have presented to explain the differences between the various Gospels. The incompatibilities show that there must have been stories made up somewhere along the line. E.g. the genealogies of Jesus, the nativity narratives, Jesus' last words.

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Here's what I surmise from this:

  1. Luke believes Old Testament prophecies "have been fulfilled." This establishes a possible bias on his part.
  2. His reference to "just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses " - it is of note that he doesn't say that he received anything directly from the eyewitnesses. He is stating that he believes the origin of the information was the eyewitnesses, but there's no indication he verified this. He says he investigated everything, but gives no indication of what this investigation consisted of – however, his Gospel has a clear literary dependency on at least 3 sources (Mark, Q, and L). So it could be that this comprised his investigation – he sought out these sources and used them. We have no indication that Luke had any Aramaic sources, or that he could even speak or read Aramaic.
  3. Regarding " the certainty of the things you have been taught" – Luke is certifying that his Gospel confirms what Theophilus was previously taught. At minimum, this means that it confirms that Jesus engaged in a ministry, performed some "miracles" and was crucified and Resurrected. At maximum, it might imply Theophilus had been previously taught every single detail of the life of Jesus – but this doesn't really make sense, because this would mean that Luke's Gospel is unnecessary. It seems likely that Luke is providing a coherent narrative framework, as a historian or biographer might create, utilizing whatever information he had available. No historian would suggest that ancient histories or biographies were 100% accurate, nor even that they were absent of improvisation. Improvisation is necessary in order to make a narrative coherent, and this is true both in ancient and modern biographies. Luke wishes to convey the over-arching truth, as he sees it. If he believes Jesus worked miracles, he will not tend to question reports of miracles that he reads or hears about.

lapwing wrote: (Gnostic) Gospel of Judas etc.

The earliest documents are dated late 3rd/early 4th century and there is supposition that it may have been written mid 2nd century to fit with comments on it by Irenaeus. I think we have already discussed novelistic accounts of the apostles. The existence of such fictional accounts does not necessarily mean that the canonical gospels are also fictional - see the prologue to Luke's gospel above. They are distinguished by a lack of place names and other realistic details and their theology and image of Jesus is very different.

I'm not saying that the existence of these accounts necessarily mean the canonical gospels are fictional, I'm just using it to show that stories were indeed made up about Jesus for the purpose of making theological points. Therefore it is not far-fetched to think the canonical Gospels might include such practices. When formulating a hypothesis about a Gospel periscope, consider hypothesis A: a miracle actually occurred; or B: a story was made up about Jesus for theological purposes. Between the two of them B is the more plausible because we know stories were made up about Jesus, but we don't know that miracles occur. (Of course, if you believe in miracles to begin with, you will make a different judgment – but I'm questioning whether one can use the Bible to prove the truth of Christianity from the Bible without starting with the belief that it's true).

BTW, there are a number of non-canonical Gospels that are believed to have originated in 2nd century. E.g. the gospels of Thomas and Peter are believed to be from the 1st half of the 2nd century. It is undisputed that Marcion's re-write of Luke (the Gospel of the Lord) was written around 150.

lapwing wrote:

Only someone who believes miracles occur

Christianity is a matter of faith - this applies to the resurrection. it cannot be proved to have happened as is true for many events in history.

The Resurrection is different from the assassination of Caesar: to accept the possibility that the Resurrection is true requires accepting the existence of God and of miracles. The assassination of Caesar depends on no questionable assumptions.

Just because something is written doesn't (necessarily) imply it actually occurred.

I added "necessarily" to round off your statement. But it does imply that someone thought it important enough to preserve the account for posterity. This principle applies to any historical event.

I generally agree, but I'll point out that any writer of history has a point of view and an intent to his writing.

I completely disagree that people knew what constituted a miracle.

I can't agree with this. Writing from a much earlier era and a different culture, Thucydides and Herodotus show different attitudes to "fables" but clearly show they know what is miraculous and what is not. H is prepared to accept some miracles and T does not. I'm reading H at the moment - in 2.54-57 he gives varying accounts about the origin of two oracles and shows he knows what constitutes a miracle as an "obvious impossibility": giving a non miraculous explanation.

The word "miracle" or sign (semeion) of Divine authority (Vine) is used several times in the NT. Each time the event described is what we would understand now as a miracle (given the state of medicine at the time) without pre-knowledge of the NT.

I haven't read much of them. Do they believe floods, crop failures, and disease are natural? Did they suggest it was a waste of time to give offerings to the gods? Did they not believe in fate?

To the ancients the essence of religion was the rite, which was thought of as a process for securing and maintaining correct relations with the world of uncharted forces around man…sacrifices were offered to make wished for things happen or unwanted things to go away; a bargaining spirit long pervaded the Greek relations with the divine…Backgrounds of Early Christianity, pg 149-160

They believed supernatural forces were at constant play in the natural world

It is Christian doctrine that God maintains the universe by the "word of His power". This is not the same as God acting miraculously. C.S. Lewis' book Miracles is a possible reference for you on this.

My point is that the supernaturalist world-view that was endemic to the culture had readily accepted the miraculous, because it was part of everyday life.

an accursed dead man could not be a messiah

Isaiah ch 53 has a different view on this. Do you have the OT ref to support your view?

Isaiah doesn't mention a messiah. I know the evangelists interpreted Isaiah's "suffering servant" to be Jesus, but this was not part of the Jewish expectations for a Messiah. A Messiah would be a king or a priest. Ancient and modern Jews tend to interpret Isaiah's suffering servant to be the people of Israel, not a messiah. See this article for very good description of the Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 53, an interpretatio n that a lot of liberal Christian scholars accept, BTW.

How many Jews do you think would have visited Jerusalem during the Pentecost period?

http://www.josephus.org/Pentecost.htm

Thanks for the link. Here's the relevant passages I found:

· When the festival called the Pentecost was at hand all the places about the temple and all the city were filled with a multitude of people that had come from the countryside, the majority of whom were armed.

· But on the approach of Pentecost, which is a festival of ours, so called from the days of our forefathers, many tens of thousands of men gathered together, who had come not only to celebrate the festival but also out of their indignation at the madness of Sabinus.

On this one particular Pentecost, with a war brewing, "many tens of thousands" were present. This doesn't give much of a clue regarding the typical influx in other years. Regardless of the absolute number, as I said previously – there can be no historical case for a miracle, because history can only decide what probably happened, and in the process, one must give greater likelihood to the plausible. The event can only be considered miraculous if it's implausible - hence the historical problem of miracles. It doesn't prove a miracle didn't happen, but the evidence nevertheless can't make a historical case for there having been an actual miracle.

For a thoughtful talk on the historicity of the resurrection you could listen to http://www.bethinking.org/bible-jesus/intermediate/the-historical-reliability-of-jesus-resurrection.htm

I will listen to it later, but if you have post some of the arguments that you think are most compelling, I'll respond. I have dealt with most of the issues in other threads in this forum, and brought up some of the issues in this very thread. For example, here's where I examined he empty tomb hypothesis. One of my overarching issues is described here.

« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 01:07:19 pm by modnoaccount »
Fred

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lapwing

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« Reply #32 on: April 24, 2012, 08:59:52 am »


   The evidence we have for the risen Jesus is indirect



   I meant direct as far as the disciples and other NT followers of Jesus, who witnessed the events according to the NT record, were concerned. I didn't mean direct evidence of Jesus' resurrection for us today. But my point is that direct evidence for a resurrection is possible; this is not possible for a reincarnation.



   fulfilled



   1. The Greek word (plerophoria) in Lk 1:1 is different from the normal one used in cases of fulfilling prophecy. A literal meaning is "full-carrying/bringing" or "full assurance". The other word often used is pleroo which has the meaning to fill up completely. The usual phrase is something like the Scripture is fulfilled referring to the OT. This verse is different from that normal usage.



   2. Directly - You're applying modern standards of evidence unsuitably to a different era. You don't know that Luke did not meet the actual eyewitnesses.





   canonical and Gnostic gospels



   I've already described the intrinsic differences between these. So your assumption that things were made up in both cases is unsafe.





   a Gospel periscope



   I think you mean pericope - or a novel theory about Jesus walking on water!



   



   the culture had readily accepted the miraculous, because it was part of everyday life.



   I still think you are wrong in your thinking. Today it is Christian belief that God can and does miracles and that God acts in the "everyday" such as rain etc in that he maintains the universe. But miracles by definition are not "everyday events". There seems to be a similar kind of belief in Herodotus. In a complex tale about the accession of Darius, the brother of his predecessor (Cambyses) is murdered but someone with the same name usurps C's throne. The person who C sent to murder the brother assures C that the usurper cannot be the murdered brother: "If dead men rise from their graves ... but if the course of nature continues unchanged, I can promise you that ... you will never have anything more to fear" Histories 3.62




   Isaiah servant=Israel



   Christopher Hays of Fuller Seminary (http://www.fuller.edu/academics/faculty/christopher-hays.aspx) has written in the recent Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Books of the Bible that the language of servanthood is used in different ways in Is ch40-66. When clear the referent is Israel in 40-48; an individual figure in 49-55 e.g. 49:5-6





   And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant



   to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength — he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”



   



   The Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 In Jewish And Christian Sources By Bernd Janowski, Peter Stuhlmacher gives an extended argument for Jewish identification of the Messiah with this servant song in a chapter by Jostein Ada

For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

"Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men"
"If the world refuses justice, the Christian will pursue mercy"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Fred

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« Reply #33 on: April 25, 2012, 09:11:45 am »



lapwing wrote: The evidence we have for the risen Jesus is indirect
   


   

I meant direct as far as the disciples and other NT followers of Jesus, who witnessed the events according to the NT record, were concerned. I didn't mean direct evidence of Jesus' resurrection for us today. But my point is that direct evidence for a resurrection is possible; this is not possible for a reincarnation.




Direct evidence for areincarnation could be possible.E.g. a parent noticing that his child is having recollections that can only have originated from a grandparent.But the real issue here is that indirect evidence is more suspect than direct evidence.The parent with the child I mentioned would be the only one with the direct evidence.Everyone he tells it to would have gotten the information indirectly.Same with the disciples – if they saw the risen Jesus, they had direct evidence, but after them it is all indirect.




lapwing wrote: more indirect (?)
   


   

Direct=without intervening agency is not a gradable adjective and so indirect=with no intervening agency.





OK, but the point I was getting at is that the further removed from the source, the more suspect the report, all other things being equal.The confidence in the report drops even further when the chain of transmission is unknown (it essentially becomes hearsay).  Every transmission from one person to the next is a potential source of distortion.

lapwing wrote: fulfilled
   


   

The Greek word (plerophoria) in Lk 1:1 is different from the normal one used in cases of fulfilling prophecy. A literal meaning is "full-carrying/bringing" or "full assurance". The other word often used is pleroo which has the meaning to fill up completely. The usual phrase is something like the Scripture is fulfilled referring to the OT. This verse is different from that normal usage.




I'm not sure what your point is.Does Luke believe the OT prophesied Jesus?Yes, I think he does – and therefore it makes sense that he would state this.However, his belief in this doesn't make it true.




lapwing wrote: 2. Directly - You're applying modern standards of evidence unfairly to a different era. You don't know that Luke did not meet the actual eyewitnesses.



Why is it unfair, if we're trying to ascertain the truth?I'm only suggesting we use common historical methodology, treating the NT the same as we would any other book.Luke specifically refers to the information being handed down by the eyewitnesses, which doesn't at all sound like he received anything directly from an eyewitness. The provenance of the information is unstated, so you are going beyond the evidence if you suggest we assume direct engagement with the eyewitnesses.Raymond Brown describes a plausible context for understanding the passage when he writes:



   


   
   

Brown wrote: Indeed, the whole flow of Luke-Acts suggests an endeavor to explain the status quo. In the three stages of salvation history, the Gospel comes after the Law and the Prophets because Jesus is loal to Israel -in him God has not changed the divine plan but fulfilled it. Acts follows as the third stage because the Spirit that comes after Jesus' departure makes the apostiles' ministry the legitimate continuation of Jesus' proclamation of the kingdom. The revelation to Peter…Jesus call of Paul, and the agreement of Paul, Peter and James at Jerusalem all legitimize Paul's ministry to the Gentiles as part of this continuation. ..The Gentiles addressed by Luke-Acts could thus be assured that their acceptance of Jesus was no accident or aberration but part of God's plan reaching back to creation…Also although they were evangelized by those who had not seen Jesus, the gospel they received went back to "eyewitness and ministers of the world." Thus, not apologetics against adversaries but assurance to fellow Christians was the goal101 as the author himself indicated at the start: "So that you may realize what certainty you have of the instruction you have received (Luke 1:4). If the author was a Gentile Christian addressing fellow Gentile Christians, he wrote with the assurance that "they will listen" (Acts 28:28) – An Introduction to the New Testament (Raymond Brown), page 272

   
   





lapwing wrote: canonical and Gnostic gospels
   


   

I've already described the intrinsic differences between these. So your assumptions that things were made up in both cases is unsafe.




No, that doesn't directly imply the canonical Gospels contain made-up stories, but it does demonstrate that there were stories about Jesus that were made up.We don’t know how many people told and retold stories about Jesus prior to the writing of the Canonical gospels. We know that some people made up stories about Jesus.Explain how we can be confident that the canonical Gospels are immune from including such made-up stories?


Aside from this, the discrepancies among the Gospels are enough to demonstrate that things were made up in the very texts you are utilizing.




lapwing wrote: a Gospel periscope
   


   

I think you mean pericope - or a novel theory about Jesus walking on water!




Yeah – he really sank, but he was able to watch the guys on the boat using his periscope.(dang spell checker!)




lapwing wrote: the culture had readily accepted the miraculous, because it was part of everyday life.
   


   

I still think you are wrong in your thinking. Today it is Christian belief that God can and does miracles and that God acts in the "everyday" such as rain etc in that he maintains the universe.




The modern Christian acknowledges an indirect attribution to God – as the creator and sustainer of all, but it is starkly different from the views of the ancients. I've read a lot about this, and I'm pretty darn sure I have this right. Here's some references that back up my claims:




The sky hung low in the ancient world. Supernatural beings thronged the earth crowding themselves into the society of mortals...Gods were everywhere. Even among Jews, despite their strong monotheistic leanings, a wide variety of supernatural powers conditioned the experiences of men. In Palestine, as elsewhere, the sky was so near to the earth that angels traversed the intervening space with the utmost ease and in a brief period of time…so also a lower world existed under gorund not so far below the surface of the earth. Intercourse with these nether regions was no less real than heaven…The people of that age were untroubled by any science of geology or geography…The pious Jew in the time of Jesus had never been called upon to face the task of adjusting himself to a solar universe. For him both hell and heaven were as definitely local as the earth…In this three-story world of popular Jewish imagery naturalism found no room to breath…The natural world, in any modern sense of that term, was a concepti
   on quite unknown to popular Jewish thinking at the beginning of the Christian era. By common consent all of life's most treasured experiences and the solution of its gravest problems, were assigned to the sphere of the supernatural. – Experience With The Supernatural in Early Christian Times, (Shirley Jackson Case) pages 3-5).





With but very few adjustments of vocabulary in one direction or the other…the relation between the natural and the supernatural order could have been recognized by Jews, Christians, and devout pagans in the first century. It formed the common ground on which the apologists for Christian doctrine and their non-Christian opponents stood…The Christian fathers did not attempt to cast doubt on the supernatural character of the phenomena of Greek and Roman religion; instead they assigned these phenomena to the demonic province of the supernatural world…Of the superhuman beings that caused the "traffic between heaven and earth," those most inseparably connect to the gospel story were angels and demons. The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) , pages 132-133 (Jaroslav Pelikan)





Magic refers to the efforts to control supernatural forces for one's own ends by means that rest on some peculiar and secret wisdom. It differs from science in representing a different view of causality, supernatural versus natural…The boundaries between religion and magic are not sharply marked in the ancient world…Pliny the Elder said magic incorporated three arts: medicine, religion, and astrology (Natural History 30.1-2). Magic was a part of religion…
   


   

There was similar conflict in the ancient world over the interpretation of what was considered to be supernatural. Belief in miraculous deeds was common in antiquity: of done by one's own hero, they were attributed to divine power; if done by an opponent, they were attributed to magic…Jews and pagans said Jesus performed his deeds by magic (Justin, Apology 1.30; Origen, Against Celsus 1.38; Ps.-Clement, Recognistions 1.42-4, 58:1, 70.2). – pg 227



   

Pre-Christian Judaism had already begun to take over the word demon in that sense of intermediate evil beings which is so evident in the Christian Gospels. Belief in demon possession of individuals was widespread and led to the practice of exorcism to expel demons – by pagans, Jews, and Christians. (p 237) – Backgrounds of Early Christianity, Everett Ferguson







lapwing wrote: But miracles by definition are not "everyday events". There seems to be a similar kind of belief in Herodotus. In a complex tale about the accession of Darius, the brother of his predecessor (Cambyses) is murdered but someone with the same name usurps C's throne. The person who C sent to murder the brother assures C that the usurper cannot be the murdered brother: "If dead men rise from their graves ... but if the course of nature continues unchanged, I can promise you that ... you will never have anything more to fear" 3.62




   

I did some browsing through Herodotus' Histories, and see that he chronicles various appeals to the supernatural, and of the (pagan) religious practices of various peoples.For example, he references Croesus' appeal to the Oracle at Delphi in Book 1, chapter 47-49.I also found this review of a book about Herodutus, with the comments, "Jon D. Mikalson's … primary focus is on Herodotus' use of divine intervention as an explanatory mechanism for the events of the wars themselves…While he freely allows for the active intervention of the gods, it is a mark of Herodotus' piety that he refuses to identify which gods or heroes are responsible, except insofar as he credits his sources for their views."So I do not see that Herodotus in any way counters the position that I'm discussing about the supernaturalistic views of 1st century people.





lapwing wrote:
   


   

Isaiah servant=Israel


   

Christopher Hays of Fuller Seminary (http://www.fuller.edu/academics/faculty/christopher-hays.aspx) has written in the recent Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Books of the Bible that the language of servanthood is used in different ways in Isaiah40-66. When clear the referent is Israel in 40-48; an individual figure in 49-55 e.g. 49:5-6


   


   

And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant


   

to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength — he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”


   

The Suffering Servant: Isaiah 53 In Jewish And Christian Sources By Bernd Janowski, Peter Stuhlmacher gives an extended argument for Jewish identification of the Messiah with this servant song in a chapter by Jostein Ada




I read the Stuhlmacher article.His position is based on the assumption that Jesus understood himself to be the suffering servant and messiah, and also assumes that the Gospel stories about Jesus predicting his own imminent suffering and death are historical.These assumptions are based on assumptions that the Gospels are historically accurate with regard to the quotations of Jesus.The assumption that Jesus actually predicted his own suffering and death in particular seems rooted in Christian faith, and not a neutral historiography.The assumption that the relevant Jesus' quotations are historical is an optimistic assumption that goes against a great deal of other scholarship.What Stuhlmacher does not seem to do is to consider the impact of author bias (or faith, if you prefer) on the writings. Other analysts do.If Stuhlmacher has (at least some) beliefs in common with the author, he won't see bias – he'll see confirmation. While his interpretation serves to support a Christian's faith, I don't see that it has any force to overcome a neutral analysis that would typically discount claims of the incredible (prophecy of the future, aliens, reincarnation, etc).Interpretations of the data that are based on assumptions about Jesus, are fine for someone who has these assumptions, but they fail for someone who lacks these assumptions.So please understand that I'm not saying your view was wrong, but rather that they follow from assumptions that are based on faith.Interpreting the data from a starting point that lacks these assumptions, andyou will not be able to show that those assumptions are likely.


Fred

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lapwing

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« Reply #34 on: April 25, 2012, 06:08:13 pm »

"Same with the disciples – if they saw the risen Jesus, they had direct evidence, but after them it is all indirect." Agreed

"a parent noticing that his child is having recollections that can only have originated from a grandparent" I disagree that this is direct evidence. "can only have originated" - this can't be proved.

Luke's prologue

My point is that Luke was not talking about fulfilment of the OT prophecies here: there is no mention of the "Scriptures". Luke is talking about what had happened among "us" i.e. the followers of Jesus. Lit. the matters having been fully carried in/among us. You've gone overboard with the word fulfilled.

I had changed my "unfair" to "unsuitable". I should have been clearer in my last post on this. My issue is with your statement that Luke didn't write specifically in the gospel that he received the information directly from the eyewitnesses.

handed down=paradoreo Lit give/bestow (as a gift) besides/near i.e. from a near position to the recipient. The donor and recipient are beside/near each other. This is strongly suggestive that the eyewitnesses gave the evidence directly to Luke according to Luke's statement.

canonical gospels

You've ignored the intrinsic differences between the canonical and non-canonical gospels that I've already explained in a previous posting e.g. no detailed place names/itineraries in the non-canonical gospels.

discrepancies

There are clearly differences in content between the gospels. What do you understand as the difference between the words "difference" and "discrepancy"? NB: This is an English language question. What is your definition of "discrepancy"? Do you have any particular examples of gospel discrepancies in mind?

"I've read a lot about this"

A disappointing lapse into AI behaviour. In effect you're saying "I'm right and you're wrong because I've read more than you/I'm cleverer than you/I'm better qualified than you etc." Very disappointing. How can your unsubstantiable claims ever be tested in an anonymous forum such as this? Remember we mustn't accept anything without proper evidence. After all you could be just making it up.

Ancient and modern view of miracles

I'll try again to explain my point. I have presented evidence that shows that Greek Historians of the 5th century BC and the NT writers knew the difference between a miracle and a normal natural event. The miracles described in John's gospel are miracles as we understand the word today. NB: I'm not talking here about the truth of these accounts or how such events were explained by these ancient writers. All I'm saying is that these ancient writers' understanding of what constitutes a miracle corresponds to our understanding. Are any of the events described as miracles in the NT not a miracle as we understand the word? Note I am not talking about the explanation just the nature of the event described. I don't know how I can make this point any plainer. Please don't confuse the issue again. Please forget the issue of divine explanation - it's irrelevant to this technical point I'm making.

Stuhlmacher article

I referred to the Jostein Adna article not Stuhlmacher's.

For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

"Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men"
"If the world refuses justice, the Christian will pursue mercy"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Fred

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« Reply #35 on: April 27, 2012, 06:48:12 am »
 

lapwing wrote:

 

"Same with the disciples – if they saw the risen Jesus, they had direct evidence, but after them it is all indirect." Agreed

 

"a parent noticing that his child is having recollections that can only have originated from a grandparent" I disagree that this is direct evidence. "can only have originated" - this can't be proved.

 

Consider yourself as the parent.  Assume you know something private about your father, that was just between the two of you.  Then your 5 year old son mentions this, out of the blue.  I believe you would consider this adequate proof – not proof in the mathematical sense, but as convincing as seeing someone alive who was believed to be dead.

 

lapwing wrote:  Luke's prologue

 

My point is that Luke was not talking about fulfilment of the OT prophecies here: there is no mention of the "Scriptures". Luke is talking about what had happened among "us" i.e. the followers of Jesus. Lit. the matters having been fully carried in/among us. You've gone overboard with the word fulfilled - maybe you need another periscope.

 

You're right – my mistake. It nevertheless fits well with Raymond Brown's interpretation.

 

lapwing wrote:  I had changed my "unfair" to "unsuitable". I should have been clearer in my last post on this. My issue is with your statement that Luke didn't write specifically in the gospel that he received the information directly from the eyewitnesses.

 

handed down=paradoreo Lit give/bestow (as a gift) besides/near i.e. from a near position to the recipient. The donor and recipient are beside/near each other. This is strongly suggestive that the eyewitnesses gave the evidence directly to Luke according to Luke's statement.

 

The complete phrase is  παρέδοσαν ἡμῖν –  "given/bestowed to us"  ἡμῖν is the dative first person plural pronoun.  It was given to the community, not specifically to Luke.

 

lapwing wrote:  canonical gospels

 

You've ignored the intrinsic differences between the canonical and non-canonical gospels that I've already explained in a previous posting e.g. no detailed place names/itineraries in the non-canonical gospels.



 

I agree that one may reasonably assume that a narrative discussing a trip of Jesus from one place to another usually has a reasonable chance of being historical, because in most cases there's no biased reason to make up such a thing – although there are exceptions, such as the alleged flight to Egypt in Matthew, and the birth in Bethlehem in both Matthew and Luke.   But more importantly,  each literary element in a book has to be analyzed - it's not all or nothing for the book.

 

   "serif";="" mso-fareast-font-family:"times="" roman""="">Why do you suggest this is an "intrinsic difference between the canonical and non-canonical gospels?"  Are you actually suggesting it IS all or nothing?  i.e. that this verisimilitude in the canonical Gospels somehow implies the content of each is thoroughly trustworthy?  Sorry to speculate on your position, but I've seen this argument by other Christian apologists (I am tempted to use your phrase about AI, but I'll try to be fair since you have not actually stated your position). I'm just wondering, because I can't see the relevance.   Whatever it is, I'd like you to more explicitly state what the standard is. I don't really see much difference between, say, the Gospel of John, and the Infancy Gospel of Jesus – with respect to details about travel travel.  Help me know what to look for.

 

lapwing wrote:  discrepancies

 

There are clearly differences in content between the gospels. What do you understand as the difference between the words "difference" and "discrepancy"? NB: This is an English language question. What is your definition of "discrepancy"? Do you have any particular examples of gospel discrepancies in mind?

 

I'm referring to incompatible details.  Examples: the genealogies in Luke and Matthew; the nativity narratives; Jesus' last words.  

 

lapwing wrote: "I've read a lot about this"

 

A disappointing lapse into AI behaviour. In effect you're saying "I'm right and you're wrong because I've read more than you/I'm cleverer than you/I'm better qualified than you etc." Very disappointing. How can your unsubstantiable claims ever be tested in an anonymous forum such as this?

   

I had no illusion that my statement about having read about this provides any convincing support for my position, I was just conveying my exasperation with you for (seemingly) denying an aspect of the culture that I'm pretty sure is well known.   Interesting that you react to this statement and ignore the support I DID give – the pertinent quotations from some books.  Since I actually gave you some documented support, it seems disenguous for you to suggest my claim is "unsubstantiable."[sic].

lapwing wrote: Ancient and modern view of miracles

 

I'll try again to explain my point. I have presented evidence that shows that Greek Historians of the 5th century BC and the NT writers know the difference between a miracle and a normal natural event. The miracles described in John's gospel are miracles as we understand the word today. NB: I'm not talking here about the truth of these accounts or how such events were explained by these ancient writers. All I'm saying is that these ancient writers understanding of what constitutes a miracle corresponds to our understanding. Are any of the events described as miracles in the NT not a miracle as we understand the word? Note I am not talking about the explanation just the nature of the event described. I don't know how I can make this point any plainer. Please don't confuse the issue again. Forget the issue of divine explanation - it's irrelevant to this technical point I'm making.

 

I agree that the ancient writers knew that certain things (like resurrections) were miracles.  But they also believed some natural activities were acts of God – such as disease and flooding. This was the basis of my response to you on your point.  Now please respond to my point, which is simply that the ancients had a supernaturalist world view, that the supernatural had an ongoing interaction with the world, and therefore they were less skeptical (more credulous) about reports of supernatural acts (including miracles). It is important to understand the frame of reference of the authors in order to do a valid interpretation of the text.

 

lapwing wrote: Stuhlmacher article

 

I referred to the Jostein Adna article not Stuhlmacher's.

 

I read the article, and am surprised you consider this support for your position. The support is very indirect and weak. Maybe I'm overlooking something that you're seeing. Please explain.

Fred

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« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2012, 02:59:02 pm »

"Assume you know something private about your father, that was just between the two of you"

Now let's imagine the heir to a fortune goes missing, presumed dead. The fortune is held in trust but then the supposed heir returns in person and is identified by large numbers of people who will not benefit in any way. Would (s)he come to his fortune? Now let's say that we're in a country that believes in reincarnation and a child is produced for whom it is claimed is a reincarnation of the dead heir. The conditions of the will specify that a reincarnation of the heir can inherit. Will the legal authorities find it so easy to award the fortune to the reincarnation claimant? I don't think so but maybe you do? What if there were multiple heirs apparently back from the dead. How could you decide which one had the valid claim. What if there were multiple reincarnation claimants. How would you decide between them? Please try to lay aside your prejudice against the truth of the resurrection when answering this question. I'm trying to ask this as a separate question. You could also ask yourself whether countries, where belief in reincarnation is held, have wills that pass estates to their later reincarnations if there are no children or other willed beneficiaries.

"given/bestowed to us" Agreed though later Luke goes on to say that he is the one who undertook to write the gospel.

"the Gospel of John, and the Infancy Gospel of Jesus". There are criteria other (e.g. means just one example!) than use of place names: I noticed you dropped the Gospel of Judas which doesn't have any place names I believe. The IGoJ includes Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Egypt, Judea, Nazareth. So you could argue it is merely derivative of the canonical gospels. It frequently used the phrase "another city" (nfi) for specific detailed incidents: this is different from the canonical gospels. There are other issues though. The miracles in the canonical gospels all have a practical and/or theological reason though there may be one exception (can you find it?). This is far from the case with some events in the  IGoJ e.g.

Again on another day the Lord Jesus was with some boys by a river and they drew water out of the river by little channels, and made little fish pools. 17 But the Lord Jesus had made twelve sparrows, and placed them about his pool on each side, three on a side. 18 But it was the Sabbath day, and the son of Hanani a Jew came by, and saw them making these things, and said, Do ye thus make figures of clay on the Sabbath? And he ran to them, and broke down their fish pools. 19 But when the Lord Jesus clapped his hands over the sparrows which he had made, they fled away chirping. 20 At length the son of Hanani coming to the fish-pool of Jesus to destroy it, the water vanished away, and the Lord Jesus said to him, 21 In like manner as this water has vanished, so shall thy life vanish; and presently the boy died.

"The apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas (2:1–5) tells us that the five-year-old Jesus played at a pool and there moulded twelve clay sparrows. It was the Sabbath Day, and Joseph rebuked Him for desecrating the Sabbath. Jesus clapped His hands, and said to the clay sparrows, “Be gone!” They immediately flew away chirping. Later (4:1–2) a child ran into Him, hitting Him on the shoulder. Jesus was angry and said, “You shall not go further on your way,” and immediately the child fell down and died.  In the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy (40) some boys with whom He was playing hid from Him, so He turned them into little goats. The effect of these and other stories is to portray the child Jesus as an enfant terrible. We are struck less by the piety of the child than by His destructiveness. In short, the Apocryphal Gospels give us no help on the “hidden years” of Christ" David Macleod Emmaus Journal Winter 1999

"I agree that the ancient writers knew that certain things (like resurrections) were miracles"

At last though it was certainly like getting blood out of a stone. You have never cited one NT miracle that is not a miracle to our understanding. I was only talking about the nature not the ascription of a miracle. I think  agree that "the ancients had a supernaturalist world view" though I'm n ot sure what you mean. I believe that is a separate issue from what constitutes a miracle. Were any non miraculous activities of Jesus ever described as miraculous? NB: I'm only talking about the descriptions not their veracity. The ancients knew what constituted a miracle.

My position on the servant songs in Isaiah

I don't know what you think my position is except to disagree with your earlier assertion that the servant=only Israel in all cases, but maybe you didn't mean that?

   font-family:?times="" roman?,?serif?;="" times="">The word "Israel" in Is 49:3 is missing from some Hebrew manuscripts and is regarded by some as a gloss. To identify the servant with Israel is hard to justify in 49:5,6 where the implication is that the servant's mission is on behalf of Israel and there is strong evidence that an individual is intended (e.g. "formed me in the womb").

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« Reply #37 on: April 27, 2012, 11:08:42 pm »
 

lapwing wrote: "Assume you know something private about your father, that was just between the two of you"
Now let's imagine the heir to a fortune goes missing, presumed dead. The fortune is held in trust but then the supposed heir returns in person and is identified by large numbers of people who will not benefit in any way. Would (s)he come to his fortune? Now let's say that we're in a country that believes in reincarnation and a child is produced for whom it is claimed is a reincarnation of the dead heir. The conditions of the will specify that a reincarnation of the heir can inherit. Will the legal authorities find it so easy to award the fortune to the reincarnation claimant? I don't think so but maybe you do? What if there were multiple heirs apparently back from the dead. How could you decide which one had the valid claim. What if there were multiple reincarnation claimants. How would you decide between them? Please try to lay aside your prejudice against the truth of the resurrection when answering this question. I'm trying to ask this as a separate question. You could also ask yourself whether countries, where belief in reincarnation is held, have wills that pass estates to their later reincarnations if there are no children or other willed beneficiaries.

 

I agree that in this scenario it would be easy to verify that a resurrected person is who he/she is claimed to be, and a reincarnated person is not. This is beside the point regarding the plausibility test. Of course different types of phenomena could be best verified in different ways. This is irrelevant.  You have still failed to provide me criteria that would result in judging the alleged Resurrection of Jesus is plausible, based on the actual evidence that is available to us, whereas reports of my list of phonemena (all of them, not just one) are not plausible based on the evidence available to us.   I asked for such criteria over 2 weeks ago, in post#18.  You have yet to offer anything other than to construct hypothetical scenarios with hypothetical evidence that would allow differentiation. You need to deal with the evidence that we actually have available, not on hypotheticals.  

 

You have no reasonable basis for calling me prejudiced unless you can find some basis to argue that I'm treating the Resurrection evidence differently than the evidence for the other phenomena.  (the evidence that actually exists, not in some fictional scenario you may construct).

 

lapwing wrote:  "given/bestowed to us" Agreed though later Luke goes on to say that he is the one who undertook to write the gospel.

 

The point is that this does not state that Luke received the information directly from the disciples.

 

lapwing wrote:  "the Gospel of John, and the Infancy Gospel of Jesus". There are criteria other (e.g. means just one example!) than use of place names: I noticed you dropped the Gospel of Judas …

 

You just seem to be looking for differences between some of the non-Canonical Gospels and the Canonical.  You have addressed none of my points.  We went off on this tangent because I pointed out that stories were made up about Jesus.  The non-canonical Gospels demonstrate this, as do the discrepancies among the canonical Gospels.  Please answer these questions:

 

Do you agree that historians should treat all historical documents the same  (i.e. subject them to source criticism)?

 

Do you agree that no historical document should automatically be read at face value, and that the material must be analyzed in order to attempt to derive some historical information from it?

 

Do you agree that a historical document may contain some historically accurate information but still contain inaccurate information?

 

Do you agree the canonical Gospels should be treated as standard, historical documents and that the evidence should be followed where it leads, rather than choosing an answer and rationalizing the answer through interpretations that support the preconceived answer?

 

lapwing wrote:   "I agree that the ancient writers knew that certain things (like resurrections) were miracles"

 

At last though it was certainly like getting blood out of a stone. You have never cited one NT miracle that is not a miracle to our understanding. I was only talking about the nature not the ascription of a miracle. I think  agree that "the ancients had a supernaturalist world view" though I'm n ot sure what you mean. I believe that is a separate issue from what constitutes a miracle. Were any non miraculous activities of Jesus ever described as miraculous? NB: I'm only talking about the descriptions not their veracity. The ancients knew what constituted a miracle.

 

How about reciprocating and respond to MY questions?  To wit:

 

Do you agree that the ancients attributed some natural phenomena to acts of God?

 

Do you agree that the ancients had a worldview that more readily accepted reports of supernatural acts?

 

Do you agree that an author's worldview will influence what he writes?

 

lapwing wrote:   My position on the servant songs in Isaiah

 

I don't know what you think my position is except to disagree with your earlier assertion that the servant=only Israel in all cases, but maybe you didn't mean that?

 

The word "Israel" in Is 49:3 is missing from some Hebrew manuscripts and is regarded by some as a gloss. To identify the servant with Israel is hard to justify in 49:5,6 where the implication is that the servant's mission is on behalf of Israel and there is strong evidence that an individual is intended (e.g. "formed me in the womb").

 

I'll note that you are again not answering my question.  You mentioned a paper that supposedly supported your position, although you failed to say how it did.  After I read it, and challenged you on it, you're sidestepping.  Did you actually read the paper? If you actually read it, and really feels it supports your position, then please describe how it does so.

 


My general point throughout, is not that a Christian interpretation is necessarily wrong, but rather that a neutral view of the evidence does not imply the Christian interpretation is correct.  The problem I see with your approach is that you assume you know the answer, and interpret the evidence to fit the answer.  Even worse, you select the evidence that best fits your preferred interpretation (such as deciding the Hebrew manuscripts that lack "Israel" in 49:3 are the correct ones).  

Fred

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« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2012, 02:30:45 pm »

criteria that would result in judging the alleged Resurrection of Jesus is plausible

I'm only claiming that it is possible to witness a resurrection with certainty. If you saw someone you knew well being crucified, dying, being laid in a tomb and then met that person three days later to include seeing that person eating etc. then you would know that he/she rose from the dead. The problem is not that, but that the alleged event occurred c2000 years ago, so we have to rely on documentary rather than direct evidence. Agreed?

I had already said "I'm not saying that the evidence for the resurrection is 100% certain - how can it be from such a long time ago." Quoting myself from another thread: "If you go to adult baptisms where people confess their faith, you will rarely hear someone say that they studied the literary and historic credentials of the NT and that alone convinced them to become a Christian. Much more often people will talk about how God drew them to faith." But given that 100% certainty (and I don't think that other percentage figures are particularly meaningful) is impossible you can always appeal to "plausibility" to cast doubts on the Resurrection. That's your choice. "For we walk by faith, not by sight" 2 Cor 5:7

"this does not state that Luke received the information directly from the disciples"

You're being too prescriptive again. It doesn't say it didn't either.

The non-canonical Gospels demonstrate this - Agreed

as do the discrepancies among the canonical Gospels - You haven't made this point yet. Canonical gospel "discrepancies" and fictionalised gospels are not the same thing.

Do you agree that historians should treat all historical documents the same (i.e. subject them to source criticism)? I'm not a professional historian so I'm not qualified to answer. "All" may be too stringent.

Do you agree that no historical document should automatically be read at face value, and that the material must be analyzed in order to attempt to derive some historical information from it?

I think "no" may be too strong. Have you subjected your birth certificate to this? Have you checked its accuracy?

Do you agree that a historical document may contain some historically accurate information but still contain inaccurate information? Given the word "may" I agree.

Do you agree the canonical Gospels should be treated as standard, historical documents and that the evidence should be followed where it leads, rather than choosing an answer and rationalizing the answer through interpretations that support the preconceived answer?

This question is too loaded. You are covertly attacking people with whom you disagree. I can agree with "Do you agree the canonical Gospels should be treated as standard, historical documents when studied as such"

Do you agree that the ancients attributed some natural phenomena to acts of God? Yes, many people still do though I prefer the action of God.

Do you agree that the ancients had a worldview that more readily accepted reports of supernatural acts? I don't know how you are measuring this. You have to take into account everyone's views, not just your own. The question seems to be too ego-centric.

Do you agree that an author's worldview will influence what he writes? It may do but one cannot necessarily prescribe how. It is quite possible to write something that goes against your own worldview.

My position on the Isaiah servant

I still don't know for sure what you mean by this. I think I was mistaken to think that you were saying that Jews identify the Isaiah servant exclusively with Israel. "Isaiah doesn't mention a messiah (apart from Cyrus). I know the evangelists interpreted Isaiah's 'suffering servant' to be Jesus, but this was not part of the Jewish expectations for a Messiah.  A Messiah would be a king or a priest.  Ancient and modern Jews tend to interpret Isaiah's suffering servant to be the people of Israel, not a messiah. I apologise for not reading your posting properly. I cited the Adna article as an example of a Jewish view which does not exclusively view the Isaiah servant as Israel though I admit that it doesn't support the evangelists' view of Isaiah ch 53. I wasn't making that particular point. Adna also devotes much of his article to the targum rather than the Hebrew.

deciding the Hebrew manuscripts that lack "Israel" in 49:3 are the correct ones

I didn't say that as you know but I believe it should be borne in mind. It was disappointing that the article you cited (and the one I cited!) did not mention this. But it's not v3 but the later verses (49:5,6)that indicate the Israel in v3 is unsafe as I have already explained. I disagree that discussing 49:1-6 is "sidestepping" - it is one of the Isaiah servant songs - do you agree
    with that?

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« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2012, 08:21:57 am »
 

lapwing wrote: criteria that would result in judging the alleged Resurrection of Jesus is plausible

 

I'm only claiming that it is possible to witness a resurrection with certainty. If you saw someone you knew well being crucified, dying, being laid in a tomb and then met that person three days later to include seeing that person eating etc. then you would know that he/she rose from the dead. The problem is not that, but that the alleged event occurred c2000 years ago, so we have to rely on documentary rather than direct evidence. Agreed?

 

I had already said "I'm not saying that the evidence for the resurrection is 100% certain - how can it be from such a long time ago." Quoting myself from another thread: "If you go to adult baptisms where people confess their faith, you will rarely hear someone say that they studied the literary and historic credentials of the NT and that alone convinced them to become a Christian. Much more often people will talk about how God drew them to faith." But given that 100% certainty (and I don't think that other percentage figures are particularly meaningful) is impossible you can always appeal to "plausibility" to cast doubts on the Resurrection. That's your choice. "For we walk by faith, not by sight" 2 Cor 5:7

 

You seem to be at least partly agreeing that one will not derived the truth of the Resurrection from a a neutral analysis of the New Testament - am I right?  

The evidence for the resurrection is considerably less than 100%, in fact I think I've shown that it's no better than the evidence for at least some of those other phenomena I listed.   Consequently I take serious objection to your prior charge that I am prejudiced against the Resurrection. Unless you can show that I'm treating the Resurrection evidence differently from the evidence for the other phenomena, then your charge is unfounded.


lapwing wrote: "this does not state that Luke received the information directly from the disciples" You're being too prescriptive again. It doesn't say it didn't either.
 

As Jurgen Spiess correctly pointed out in the link you gave me earlier, historical research is like detective work.  In historical analysis, one follows the evidence, and in this case the evidence is not suggestive that Luke received information directly from eyewitnesses.  To suggest that he did, on the sole basis that "it doesn't say it didn't" is not following a historical approach.


lapwing wrote: The non-canonical Gospels demonstrate this - Agreed  

as do the discrepancies among the canonical Gospels - You haven't made this point yet. Canonical gospel "discrepancies" and fictionalised gospels are not the same thing.

 

The nativity narratives in Matthew and Luke are incompatible, so at least one of them is fictionalized. Besides this fictionalized narrative, one can find clear evidence of authorial coloring of the material – for example, consider the passion presentation of Luke with that of Mark.  Luke's presentation leans toward Docetism, whereas Mark's more clearly displays the humanity and human suffering.  This is exemplified in the choice of Jesus' last words: Mark depicts Jesus crying out in anguish, asking why God has forsaken him, while Luke depicts a stoical Jesus matter-of-factly stating, "into your hands I commend my spirit."  

 

 

lapwing wrote: Do you agree that historians should treat all historical documents the same (i.e. subject them to source criticism)?<
   /span> I'm not a professional historian so I'm not qualified to answer. "All" may be too stringent.

 

Do you agree that no historical document should automatically be read at face value, and that the material must be analyzed in order to attempt to derive some historical information from it?

 

I think "no" may be too strong. Have you subjected your birth certificate to this? Have you checked its accuracy?

 

Do you agree that a historical document may contain some historically accurate information but still contain inaccurate information? Given the word "may" I agree.

 

Do you agree the canonical Gospels should be treated as standard, historical documents and that the evidence should be followed where it leads, rather than choosing an answer and rationalizing the answer through interpretations that support the preconceived answer?

 

This question is too loaded. You are covertly attacking people with whom you disagree. I can agree with "Do you agree the canonical Gospels should be treated as standard, historical documents when studied as such"

 

Isn't this the proper way to read them if you're trying to derive history from them as opposed to reading them for devotional purposes, to derive divine meaning?  

 

lapwing wrote:

 

Do you agree that the ancients had a worldview that more readily accepted reports of supernatural acts? I don't know how you are measuring this. You have to take into account everyone's views, not just your own. The question seems to be too ego-centric.

 

The question states my opinion and asks if you agree with it. I think that the average person in the 1st century was more willing to accept a reported supernatural act than the average person in the 21st century.  My opinion is based on the type of information I posted previously, the quotations I included from books regarding the role of the supernatural in the daily lives of the people. Honestly, I didn't think my opinion was controversial – but I could be jumping to conclusions. I'd like to hear your opinion.

 

lapwing wrote:  Do you agree that an author's worldview will influence what he writes? It may do but one cannot necessarily prescribe how. It is quite possible to write something that goes against your own worldview.

 

No, one can't necessarily prescribe how – but it is often feasible to figure some things out about the author's perspective.  To the degree that this can be determined, it is appropriate to do so – and to use this in evaluating the writing.  We can certainly get it wrong, and reach incorrect conclusions, but such is the difficulty of trying to determine history – particularly when the data is sparse.  

   

Regarding your suggestion that someone can write something that is against his worldview: I think this would be rare, and it would be generally clear that the author disagrees are at least makes it clear that the position is not his own.  For example, he may write "they believed xyz" or "it was commonly believed…" but unless the writing is a deliberate attempt to deceive (or be satirical), the author is not going to state things the author believes to be false. Of course, this doesn't preclude an author from modifying his prior views, and writing from the new perspective.


lapwing wrote:
 

My position on the Isaiah servant

 

I still don't know for sure what you mean by this. I think I was mistaken to think that you were saying that Jews identify the Isaiah servant exclusively with Israel. "Isaiah doesn't mention a messiah (apart from Cyrus). I know the evangelists interpreted Isaiah's 'suffering servant' to be Jesus, but this was not part of the Jewish expectations for a Messiah. A Messiah would be a king or a priest. Ancient and modern Jews tend to interpret Isaiah's suffering servant to be the people of Israel, not a messiah. I apologise for not reading your posting properly. I cited the Adna article as an example of a Jewish view which does not exclusively view the Isaiah servant as Israel though I admit that it doesn't support the evangelists' view of Isaiah ch 53. I wasn't making that particular point. Adna also devotes much of his article to the targum rather than the Hebrew.

 

deciding the Hebrew manuscripts that lack "Israel" in 49:3 are the correct ones

 

I didn't say that as you know but I believe it should be borne in mind. It was disappointing that the article you cited (and the one I cited!) did not mention this. But it's not v3 but the later verses (49:5,6)that indicate the Israel in v3 is unsafe as I have already explained. I disagree that discussing 49:1-6 is "sidestepping" - it is one of the Isaiah servant songs - do you agree with that?

 

Yes, I agree with that – and thank you for your acknowledgments about Isaiah. My primary position about it is that Isaiah doesn't directly support the truth of the New Testament.  That being said, I take no exception to a Christian holding the belief that it does confirm his view - because the Christian brings additional beliefs to his interpretation, beliefs that a non-believer can't be expected to hold.  

 

This gets into my general views about the topic we've been discussing. I believe that a strictly neutral reading of the New Testament, treating it as a set of historical documents, without beginning with faith-based beliefs,  will not lead one to conclude the truth of the Resurrection. By that same token, it will not prove the Resurrection did not occur. I have no problem with a Christian confirming his beliefs by reading the Bible – but in so doing, he is not performing neutral historical research.  It can still be valid research, but it should be borne in mind that such research is contingent upon the truth of the faith-based assumptions. It makes little sense to argue that E.P. Sanders’ (or Bart Ehrman’s) conclusions about the historical Jesus are wrong based on research derived from an analysis of the New Testament that is rooted in faith-assumptions.  

Fred

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« Reply #40 on: May 01, 2012, 03:55:19 pm »

Hi Fred,

Wow! I didn't mean "Please try to lay aside your prejudice against the truth of the resurrection when answering this question" to be taken as a personal insult. I was definitely not implying that you were a generally prejudiced person over and above the average person. So I'm sorry that I wrote something to which you have taken serious objection. I will respond more substantively later.

lapwing

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« Reply #41 on: May 01, 2012, 09:08:10 pm »
lapwing wrote:

Hi Fred,

Wow! I didn't mean "Please try to lay aside your prejudice against the truth of the resurrection when answering this question" to be taken as a personal insult. I was definitely not implying that you were a generally prejudiced person over and above the average person. So I'm sorry that I wrote something to which you have taken serious objection. I will respond more substantively later.

I didn't take it as a personal insult, I just wish you could understand the difference between  believing a proposition false, and lacking a belief in the proposition.  If I were convinced in the falsity of the Resurrection, IMO this qualifies as a prejudice.  Alternatively, if I rationalized a failure to believe by special pleading, this would imply a prejudice.  But if I evaluate the evidence the same way you would evaluate the evidence for other phenomena, I would hope you would recognize that this isn't prejudice.


I honestly think it is possible Jesus rose from the dead, but that the evidence in support of this is not strong enough to overcome my general skepticism, a skepticsm that I try to apply consistently.

Fred

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« Reply #42 on: May 04, 2012, 05:11:16 am »

"neutral analysis of the New Testament"

Do you think that is possible to be "neutral" when evaluating the truth or accuracy of the NT? Of course, historians etc. will claim neutrality to bolster what they say but I'm not convinced it is possible, or at least, it is very difficult.  "He who is not with me is against me" Mt 12:30 NIV. When discussing the historicity of the NT, especially the Resurrection, the implications are personally important for the historian etc. This is not the case, say, for questions such as what happened to the Princes in the Tower, though that is a case of where strong contradictory opinions are held by professional historians who claim to be neutral and to follow objective historical methods; and there may well be much better examples. So I don't believe that one can ever know with certainty what happened one can't repeat the experiment unlike science. So each person has to set their own skepticism threshold, make their own decision and accept the consequences whatever they may be. But, as I've said earlier, this kind of evaluation of the historical accuracy of the NT is rarely the sole reason for someone to become a Christian.

Luke's gospel

According to Acts, Luke would have had opportunity to meet eyewitnesses of Jesus' ministry

When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Acts 21:17,18 NIV. James here is the brother of Jesus.

"the average person in the 1st century was more willing to accept a reported supernatural act than the average person in the 21st century."

The problem I have with this is the common tacit atheist assumption that the views of people in Africa and South America, where many believe in Jesus, are less valid than those in more secular countries. There is a suggestion that believers in poorer countries are simple minded buffoons that have been deceived by church leaders. I hope you will disown this discriminatory idea (discriminatory against the believers).

BTW You have duplicated your postings 40 and 41. It would look better if you removed one of them.

For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

"Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men"
"If the world refuses justice, the Christian will pursue mercy"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Fred

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« Reply #43 on: May 04, 2012, 07:40:02 pm »
 

lapwing wrote:

 

"neutral analysis of the New Testament"

 

Do you think that is possible to be "neutral" when evaluating the truth or accuracy of the NT? Of course, historians etc. will claim neutrality to bolster what they say but I'm not convinced it is possible, or at least, it is very difficult.  "He who is not with me is against me" Mt 12:30 NIV. When discussing the historicity of the NT, especially the Resurrection, the implications are personally important for the historian etc. This is not the case, say, for questions such as what happened to the Princes in the Tower, though that is a case of where strong contradictory opinions are held by professional historians who claim to be neutral and to follow objective historical methods; and there may well be much better examples. So I don't believe that one can ever know with certainty what happened one can't repeat the experiment unlike science. So each person has to set their own skepticism threshold, make their own decision and accept the consequences whatever they may be. But, as I've said earlier, this kind of evaluation of the historical accuracy of the NT is rarely the sole reason for someone to become a Christian.

 

I agree – no one can be neutral, but it's the ideal.  Reasonable people, with differing opinions, can move toward greater neutrality through dialogue. Consider the dialogue you and I have had in this thread: we've criticized each other's statements, and we've each accepted some of the criticism as sound.  I believe this has led us to find a good bit of common ground.  If we can make progress on this, in an informal discussion, historians can certainly do this.  

   

I also agree that we can rarely know with certainty about the past – as you said, we can't conduct scientific experiments.  Historiography is about making guesses.  

 

I also agree that everyone must set his own skepticism threshold and make his own decision.  See!  Lot's of common ground.

 

lapwing wrote: Luke's gospel

 

According to Acts, Luke would have had opportunity to meet eyewitnesses of Jesus' ministry

 

When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Acts 21:17,18 NIV. James here is the brother of Jesus.

 

I imagine you're assuming that Luke was a travelling companion of Paul's.  This is disputed by a number of scholars who have studied this point. Raymond Brown said:

 

Brown wrote: …it is not impossible that a minor figure who had traveled with Paul for small parts of his itinerary wrote Acts decades after the apostle was dead, if one makes the allowance that there were details about Paul’s early life he did not know, that he simplified and reordered information (even as he did in the Gospel what he took over material from Mark), and that as a true theologian he rethought some of Paul’s emphases that were no longer apropos. We have no way of being certain that he was with Luke…there is nothing to contradict Luke’s having been with Paul in the places and time indicated by the “we” passages [of Acts], and he fits the profile of a minor figure.” - (p326 of An Introduction to the New Testament).


lapwing wrote: "the average person in the 1st century was more willing to accept a repo
   rted supernatural act than the average person in the 21st century."

 

The problem I have with this is the common tacit atheist assumption that the views of people in Africa and South America, where many believe in Jesus, are less valid than those in more secular countries. There is a suggestion that believers in poorer countries are simple minded buffoons that have been deceived by church leaders. I hope you will disown this discriminatory idea (discriminatory against the believers).

 

No problem: I disown it. I don't generally judge the validity of anyone else's beliefs.  I primarily engage in discussions to test the validity of my own beliefs.  In so doing, I often criticize what I see as error is reasoning, but I generally refrain from criticizing beliefs (unless someone insists I explain why I don’t believe them).  For example, even though I think Craig makes some errors in his arguments – I don't criticize the beliefs he holds.

 

I think we're winding down.  Although we've had some heated moments, due to our respective passions about the subject, I've enjoyed the exchange.  Let me know if you ever come to Houston and I'll buy you a beer (or a coffee - if you're one of those kinds of Christians).

Fred

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lapwing

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« Reply #44 on: May 05, 2012, 03:21:02 am »

"I imagine you're assuming that Luke was a travelling companion of Paul's.  This is disputed by a number of people who have studied this point."

I prefer "people" in this statement to "scholars". I think we may agree that a number of people who have studied this, as objectively as they can, may have come to different conclusions.

"I think we're winding down.  Although we've had some heated moments"

I agree about winding down. Heated moments? I was not offended by anything you said. I strongly defend and affirm your right to hold beliefs contrary to my own, but claim my right to disagree with you.

Houston - I will let you know. I'm hoping to take a butterfly/dragonfly holiday in USA and I believe coastal Texas is good for that - but not for a year or two at least. I live in Cheltenham - the largest town in the Cotswolds - a small but perfectly formed part of England imho. I've also found our exchange enjoyable and worthwhile.

For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

"Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men"
"If the world refuses justice, the Christian will pursue mercy"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer