Senate Christianity Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Community' started by Jabba-wocky, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Saying there's four separate organic accounts also doesn't deal with the problem of the two-source hypothesis. That is, Matthew, Mark, and Luke are so similar that it's more likely Matthew and Luke originate from Mark with some additions from another document -- the so-called "Q Document" -- which hasn't been found yet. And then we have the issue that John, the fourth Gospel, was initially seen as so funky and way-out compared with the others that one or two patriarchs called it a heretical text, on a par with the Gospel of Thomas, though it's unquestioned that by the time of Nicaea it was part and parcel of Christian teachings. And then we get into the fact that many of those texts -- including the four Gospels -- were not written solely as historical accounts; they were also intended as teaching texts and had purposes other than as simple historical accounts. You have to tread very carefully when you start looking at Biblical texts for historical accuracy, because they were not primarily written with that purpose in mind - not as compared with, say, someone like Josephus who, whatever his shortcomings as a scholar, was not intending on making philosophical or religious announcements as part of his accounts.
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  2. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Jun 2, 2007
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    The very concept of sin comes from the Bible. Christianity offers to solve a problem of its own making. Would you be thankful to a person who cut you with a knife in order to sell you a bandage?
  3. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Why are we agonizing so much over this? You are discussing a person who was dead, and then subsequently not dead. All his other words and deeds are utterly insignificant in comparison. At the same time, an otherwise flawlessly recorded biography that included such a detail about its subject would probably still not be accepted as terribly credible on that one point. Stop acting like we're debating the culpability of Mao Zedong versus the Gang of Four in the political prosecutions of the Cultural Revolution.

    The claims is that a guy came back to life. The two sides don't disagree about some tiny point of nuance.
  4. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    No, I'm talking about the historicity of the gospels which are the primary accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Without the resurrection, Jesus is just another backstreet messiah, of which there were legion in those times. The evidence in support of the resurrection of Jesus as told in the gospels is a very long daisy chain indeed when you consider that the account was told as an oral tradition for anywhere between 20 to 40 years before the first written account was discovered (which is Mark). But the earliest copy of Mark is dated the around 200 which is approximately 150 years after the original was first thought to be written. So you are talking about an oral tradition which was passed on from person to person for around 20 to 40 years, before it was ever documented in the first Gospel of Mark. Then the first Gospel of Mark was hand copied from scribe to scribe for decades and decades and decades and decades by unknown scribes of unknown origins and unknown credentials in literacy. The earliest copy is a copy of copies (all hand copied, line by line, word by word, letter by letter by hundreds of unknown scribes) which had been in copy circulation for around 150 years. So the earliest copy of Mark isn't even a copy of the original, its a copy of a copy of a copy of a story which itself had been passed on orally from campfire to campfire for decades and then translated from Greek into whatever language you are now reading them in.

    If you truly believe that the words in the gospels as your read them today accurately and faithfully reflect the actual events which the gospels purport to record, then you will believe anything.

    I guess it's because it is an extraordinary claim, requiring extraordinary evidence.This discussion is about evidence, nothing else.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Aug 12, 2013
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  5. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Jun 2, 2007
    star 6
    Since the story of Jesus was passed down orally for over 20 years before finally written down, it's not surprising that embellishments like the resurrection and later ascension into heaven were added. It's just another case of Purple Monkey Dishwasher.
  6. Skywalker8921 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    Pulling the Austin Cline articles out again, I see. As I pointed out in my earlier analysis of the so called inconsistencies in his "Trial" article, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not record the exact same details of Jesus' life and ministry, instead focusing on certain aspects, but taken as a whole the picture is remarkably coherent. I didn't address his "Resurrection" article before, but I will do so now.

    First Resurrection Appearance:

    In John 20:13-14, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene as she is weeping at the tomb, after her short conversation with the angels.
    In Mark 16:9 (not 14-15 as Cline claims), Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene. Though Mark does not indicate where, it was no doubt at the tomb as recorded by John.
    In Matthew 28:8-9, Jesus appears to the women as they are returning from the tomb. The early verses in Luke 24 must also be considered here. Luke records in 14:10 that Mary Magdalene was accompanied by Mary the mother of James(also in Matthew and Mark), Salome(Mark only), Joanna(Luke only), and several unnamed others. Jesus appears to the rest of the women after He appears to Magdalene.
    In Luke 24:13-25, He appears to the two on the Emmaus road later that day.

    As near as I can tell, the sequence is like this: Mary Magdalene and the others go to the tomb and find it empty. The other women leave, but Magdalene remains behind at the tomb. Jesus then appears to her there, then appears to the other women, then appears to the two on the Emmaus road.

    There are no contradictions if all the Gospel accounts are taken together as a whole and studied carefully, which is what Cline is failing to do here.

    I'll discuss the other inconsistencies later, after I get my day going.
    Last edited by Skywalker8921, Aug 13, 2013
  7. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Not necessarily. I decided to look into it a little. As a preface, I don't doubt that there has been some embellishment of the stories, thanks to the handing down orally of stories, but the objection you are making is in essence the Classic Form Critical Theory of oral tradition which was prevalent back in the 19th and early 20th century. It rested on four assumptions: (1) that the early Christian movement was entirely illiterate; (2) that oral traditions cannot pass down extended narratives; (3) that orally dominated communities had little historical interest; and (4) that individuals play little role in organisation, transmission, and regulation of oral traditions, i.e. that because a community has propriety in a story, it's nobody's property and the story therefore is wrong.

    None of these four assumptions necessarily hold. There's evidence that literacy around 1st century AD in the Roman Empire if not Palestine was not confined to the rich; that oral traditions taking 25 hours and thus several days to perform exist; that oral tradents are/were concerned with historical fidelity; and that usually a tradent is assigned to hold the fidelity of the story -- quite literally the storyteller. (The source for all this is this article, which seems to have been written by a faith-based organisation, so take that as you will.) Wish I could get this book instead, because it looks a bit more thorough on the subject. This article might be more level-headed and makes most of the same points the previous one does.

    Even taking that lot with a grain of salt, it's an exaggeration to say it's exactly like Chinese Whispers. That is to see the practice of oral traditions through our frame of reference, which is a highly literate society that does not have to rely on auditory memory to anywhere near the same extent as what I think we can comfortably call ancient cultures. Taking a single study of a bunch of laboratory students trying to convey a rumour across a lab, failing miserably, and thereby concluding human beings can't convey an accurate story in the manner of an oral tradition does not acknowledge the fact that many of these oral tradition cultures were specialised within limits to conveying that information in that form. It's like sending an aviation student onto a 747, watching him crash the plane, and therefore concluding that a 20-year veteran of Boeing therefore could not possibly pilot the same plane successfully. It's a similar concept to the proposition in our own time that our long-term memory as human beings is degrading because of the easy access to information via the Internet: we no longer have to store that information for ourselves, so our brain shifts to use that headspace for something else. The plasticity of the brain is pretty well-known.

    The other thing is that the tradition Jesus and the early Christians were born into contained a significant degree of oral tradition. Indeed for the Jews of Palestine in that period it was an integral part of their religious traditions: there was the written Torah, the centre of which was the Ten Commandments; and then there was the oral Torah, handed down in Jewish tradition by word alone to Moses and passed down orally from generation to generation among the Israelites. (The oral Torah was eventually written down due to the endangerment of the entire Jewish culture following the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70. That was completed around 200 AD, called the Mishna, eventually forming part of the Talmud.) And even around Jesus' time there were different views about whether the oral Torah was appropriate -- the Sadducees and Pharisees differed, among other things, on the interpretation of the oral Torah, and then there were the Essenes who rejected many of the oral traditions in any event. The culture into which Jesus was born was primed to a certain extent for reasonably efficient transmission of information by oral tradition.

    This is not to say that what was conveyed to become the Q Document, John, and Mark (and thus, later, the Gospels) were fully historically accurate or word-for-word conveyances of the stories initially told about Jesus. (In particular the Q Document is hypothesised to look a lot like the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus). In particular it seems the reciters of oral traditions are often given a certain degree of latitude to alter the story to suit local issues, themes, needs of the community -- but those same oral traditions also tend to have specific principles or things the teller is not to transgress, and which the community at large if not those who know the tradition in the community police. We know even on basic Biblical scholarship that the different Gospels were likely written to appeal to or address different audiences -- Mark to Greek-speaking Christians and Jews in the Diaspora; John (it's thought) to Hebrews living outside Palestine; Matthew for a Jewish Christian audience in Palestine, and so on.

    But at the same time, it's not quite an exercise in the story becoming unintelligible from its origins. Oral traditions tended to have safeguards in place precisely for those reasons. Exactly what those safeguards were in the early Christian community and how closely they were attended to, we don't know; but given the practice held across other oral traditions worldwide and the immense importance of the oral Torah at the time of Jesus' birth is itself a fairly compelling suggestion it probably held for the Jewish/early Christian oral tradition as well.
    Last edited by Saintheart, Aug 13, 2013
  8. Skywalker8921 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    Continuing on.

    Who sees Jesus first?

    As noted in Matthew, Mark, and John, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb. He then appears to the other women who accompanied Mary(Matthew), the two on the Emmaus road(Mark and Luke), and then not just once, but SEVERAL times, to the eleven before His ascension. The only odd out here is His appearance to Simon; this Simon has to be a different Simon from Simon Peter. I would guess that He appeared to this Simon after His appearance to Cleopas and his companion on the Emmaus road, before He appeared to the eleven for the first time. Either that or else Cleopas' companion's name was Simon.

    No contradictions.

    Jesus' behavior:

    His commission in Mark is set just prior to the ascension, so those verses don't make any difference.

    Jesus forbids Mary to touch Him(John); when He appears to the other women(Matthew), He simply makes no protest; He invites Thomas to touch His wounds because He knows the disciples won't believe otherwise.

    No contradictions.
  9. Skywalker8921 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    Apologies for the double post; the edit limit on the previous one ran out before I could finish.

    I didn't address all of Cline's points, but I addressed enough that it should be clear his claim of contradictions in the Gospels does not hold up. He evidently didn't bother to study the "supposed" contradictions in depth, but just read the verses and assumed they contradicted each other.

    In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul writes:

    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
    1Co 15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
    1Co 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
    1Co 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
    1Co 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
    1Co 15:8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

    Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
    1Co 15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
    1Co 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.
    1Co 15:15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
    1Co 15:16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.
    1Co 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
    1Co 15:18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
    1Co 15:19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
    1Co 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

    Pretty conclusive to me that Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, took the burden of our sins on Him as He died on the cross. If we believe that He died in our place for our sins, that He was resurrected on the third day; if we realize that our sin separates us from God and that only one thing - accepting Jesus as our Savior - will reconcile us to Him; if we "confess with our mouth and believe in our heart that He was raised from the dead" - then we will spend eternity in heaven with the Lord.

    I rest my case.
  10. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    You miss my point almost entirely. Of course the discussion is about evidence. But, as SkywalkerNumbers has demonstrated through her assiduous attention to detail, the sort of objections being raised don't seriously impeach the credibility of the gospels. At the same time, Even is correct in noting that even historical records as they were recorded circa the mid- to early twentieth century wouldn't constitute high quality evidence for taking such a miraculous event as credible. Let alone documents dating from the early Roman Empire. The reality, then, is that you are furiously debating details that aren't actually relevant to the topic you purport to discuss. There are many cases where the available evidence doesn't allow us to examine the questions we are most curious about. This is one of them.
  11. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    How can you "rest your case" on the historical accuracy with one book from one source whose purpose, as Saintheart pointed out, was not to describe historical events but to serve as a religious text?

    Is there anyone who saw Jesus alive after his crucifixion and wrote about it anywhere other than the Bible? If not, the historical accuracy of the resurrection accounts is far from proven. The existence and crucifixion of the man Jesus of Nazareth, yes; his divinity and resurrection, nope, not at all.

    Unless, of course, I can take a mythology book and prove that Atlas carried the Earth on his shoulders.
  12. Skywalker8921 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    Of course we should look for archaeology inscriptions, ect., to find support for the events mentioned in the Bible, but until such material is found, it is a matter of faith regarding the Bible and always has been. We either believe it is God's divinely inspired Word, even with very little material evidence to support it, or we don't. It's that simple. For my part, I believe the Bible is true and accurate. Saintheart is right that the Bible is meant to serve overall as God's ultimate plan for humanity's salvation, but the historical aspects should not be dismissed so lightly either. You're trying to twist the intended use of the Bible around to support your own views that science and not faith has the answers, but it doesn't work like that. Science should support the Bible, not the other way around.

    And I challenge you to so lightly dismiss what Paul wrote; he said over five hundred people saw Jesus after his resurrection, and last of all he did himself. This man was once a notorious Pharisee who persecuted Christians and dragged them before the authorities in chains. Why did he change so that his former collegues later wanted to kill him and he was brought in chains before Nero Caesar, if it wasn't for his encounter with the risen Lord? Hmmm? Can you answer that?

    There have been errors made by copyists and translators over the centuries, yes. Witness the glaringly obvious differing ages given for King Ahaziah of Judah in the Books of Kings and Chronicles. Does that mean the Bible is in error? No. It was SCRIBAL ie. HUMAN error. The difference with the original authors, as I have said before, was that they were inspired by God and wrote down His words as He told them to. The later copyists and translators had no such privilege, so erros naturally crept in, but that in no way dimishes the Bible's credibility and authority.
  13. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    You're right--either we believe the Bible true in spite of the lack of evidence, or we don't, which is precisely why you can't "rest your case" that Jesus' resurrection happened based on the Bible; you can only say you believe it did.

    As far as the idea that science should support the Bible--that's your opinion based on the fact that you believe the Bible is true in spite of the lack of evidence. I don't understand the concept of dismissing scientific theories that are supported by evidence simply because the theories don't mesh with religious theories backed by no evidence, but that's your prerogative.

    As far as Paul, yeah, I'm not buying that 500 people saw a resurrected Jesus just because he said it happened, and I don't care who wanted to kill him. If he actually wrote everything the Bible says he wrote, he was a sexist homophobic ***hole anyway and I wouldn't trust him with much of anything.
  14. I Are The Internets Chosen One

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    Nov 20, 2012
    star 7
    Jesus was not the messiah, he was a very naughty boy.
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  15. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    That's only because a judge forced him to change his name.
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  16. I Are The Internets Chosen One

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  17. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    Jul 2, 2004
    star 7
    His existence isn't proven either, merely asserted.
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  18. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

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    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    I always found Paul to be rather convenient as well as a little contradictory. Wasn't Paul both a Roman citizen AND a Jew? I thought those were mutually exclusive.
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  19. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    That's cool, I certainly can't prove that he existed. I do believe that such a man did exist but was not divine, born of a virgin, etc.
  20. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    There is actually historical proof outside the Bible that Jesus existed. I think Tacitus and Josephus mention him. How divinity, on the other hand, is something else entirely...
    Last edited by Katana_Geldar, Aug 14, 2013
  21. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    star 7
    Josephus' account is what I was basing my beliefs on.
  22. Skywalker8921 Jedi Grand Master

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    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    Yes to your question.
  23. Ghost Chosen One

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    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    All the Jews in the 1st century were Romans, unless they lived outside of Palestine and the Roman Empire.
  24. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

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    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    But were they Roman citizens? Most people who lived in the Roman Empire were not. Roman citizenship was not given to all and sundry.
  25. Saintheart Chosen One

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    Roman citizenry could be passed by birth. Paul's citizenry is said to have been passed by his father, who was stated in Acts to be a Roman citizen. Admittedly there isn't much evidence of Paul outside the Bible, but the various ways Paul manipulates Roman law to his advantage because of his citizenry do point to it. That goes even so far as the tradition which says Paul was beheaded -- Roman citizens could not be crucified, only given that more "merciful" punishment -- while Peter, who wasn't a Roman citizen, was crucified upside-down.

    There is at least a little archaeological evidence of Paul: In June 2009, Benedict announced excavation results concerning the (traditionally) tomb of Paul at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. The sarcophagus was not opened but was examined by means of a probe, which revealed pieces of incense, purple and blue linen, and small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon dated to the 1st or 2nd century. According to the Vatican, these findings are consistent with the traditional claim that the tomb is Paul's. The sarcophagus was inscribed in Latin saying, "Paul apostle martyr".