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Author Topic:   Interrogation of an Apostle
Jon
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Posts: 4256
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 31 of 48 (605069)
02-16-2011 7:53 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by ICANT
02-16-2011 3:41 PM


Re: Applying the Art of Lie-detecting to the Resurrection Accounts
Do you have any specific lies or truths recorded in the texts you presented that you would like to discuss?

If you do please present them for discussion.

From the OP:

quote:
Jon in Applying the Art of Lie-detecting to the Resurrection Accounts (Message 1):

For this thread, I'd like to examine some of the techniques used in detecting false accounts given multiple different tellings, and then apply those techniques to the post-resurrection appearance accounts in the gospels and try to determine whether the gospel accounts are trustworthy evidence of a resurrection or not. For this purpose, I think we can ignore the 'empty tomb' story, and just stick to the appearances, which occur in Matt. 28:1620, Luke 24:1353, and John 20:1121.1
__________
1 Perhaps to this list we could also add the short and long endings of Mark, even though they don't appear to be original to his gospel.


The purpose of this thread is to look at the accounts given and apply lie-detecting techniques to them to determine if there is a detectable lie. My question to you: When you apply some of the techniques laid out in the OP, do you find the accounts likely to be true or likely to be false, and why?

Jon


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Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

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Jon
Member
Posts: 4256
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 32 of 48 (605249)
02-17-2011 11:22 PM


N. T. Wright
Well, the library got a few of the Wright books in I requested; here is some of what he says on the matter regarding the resurrection and the unrecognizable Jesus:

quote:
Wright in Simply Christian (2006):

It is extremely difficult to explain the rise of Christianity, as a historical phenomenon, without saying something solid about Jesus's resurrection.
....
Nobody was expecting anyone, least of all a Messiah, to rise from the dead. A crucified Messiah was a failed Messiah. When Simeon ben Kosiba was killed by the Romans in ad 135, nobody went around afterward saying he really was the Messiah after all, however much they had wanted to believe that he had been. God's kingdom was something that had to happen in real life, not in some fantasyland.
     Nor was it the case, as some writers are fond of saying, that the idea of "resurrection" was found in religions all over the ancient Near East. Dying and rising "gods", yescorn kings, fertility deities, and the like. Buteven supposing Jesus's very Jewish followers knew any traditions like those pagan onesnobody in those religions ever supposed it actually happened to individual humans. No. The best explanation by far for the rise of Christianity is that Jesus really did reappear, not as a battered, bleeding survivor, not as a ghost (the stories are very clear about that), but as a living, bodily human being. (pp. 112113)


Wright, then, appears to put the emphasis of evidence for a resurrection not on the information contained in the text but in the social phenomena that followed shortly after Jesus' death: the continued belief in Jesus as Messiah, and the rise and spread of this belief as the Christian faith. On the accounts themselves, Wright goes on to say:

quote:
Wright in Simply Christian (2006):

But the body was somehow different. The gospel stories are, at this point, unlike anything before or since. As one leading scholar has put it, it seems the gospel writers were trying to explain something for which they didn't have a precise vocabulary. Jesus's risen body had many of the same properties as an ordinary body (it could talk, eat and drink, be touched, and so on), but it had others, too. It could appear and disappear, and pass through locked doors. Nothing in Jewish literature or imagination had prepared the people for a portrait like this. If the gospel writers had made something up to fit a preconceived notion, the one thing they would certainly have done is describe the risen Jesus shining like a star. According to Daniel 12:3 (a very influential passage in Jewish thought at the time), this was how the righteous would appear at the resurrection. But Jesus didn't. His body seems to have been transformed in a way for which there was neither precedent nor prophecy, and of which there remains no second example. (p. 113)


quote:
Wright in The Original Jesus (1996):

The stories they told about Jesus' resurrection are mostly quite breathless and artless (Mark 16); Matthew 28; Luke 24; John 2021). They are mostly much more like quick eye-witness sketches, with the details not even tidied up, than like carefully drawn portraits.
     An exception to this is the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:1335). They were walking home, deeply sad and troubled, believing their leader to be dead and gone. They were joined by a stranger, who professed not to know what was going on. When they told him, he began to explain to them, working from the biblical texts they already knew, that this had been God's secret plan all along, to liberate Israel and the world, by means of the Messiah suffering, dying, and rising again.
     Their hearts (as they said later) burned within them, as they began to realize the great possibility that after all his death might have been, so to speak, God's secret weaponthe last great move in the battle for the kingdom. God had been working in ways they never even dreamed of, even though they had been there all along in the scriptures.
     Then, when they got home, they invited the stranger in. He quietly assumed the role of host, and broke the bread for their evening meal. They recognized him. It was Jesus himself. Then, as strangely as he had come, he disappeared again. (pp. 7273)


So, regarding Wright's opinions, perhaps we can go on to discuss whether a few of his explanations for the textual oddities1 actually work. One of the first ones I quote is the notion that the strange nature of the accounts results from 'the gospel writers ... trying to explain something for which they didn't have a precise vocabulary'. Does this fit? If we assume that there was a little something inexplicable about the body of the raised Jesus, is this enough to account for the strangeness of the accounts and perhaps even the inconsistency?

The second one I'm interested in examining is Wright's claim that the resurrection accounts are 'like quick eye-witness sketches, with the details not even tidied up' as opposed to 'carefully drawn portraits'. Is it possible to explain away the oddities, vagueries, and initial lack of recognition by the apostles this way? And if it is possible, does it make sense to do so? Would we really see what we see in the text if the accounts were just 'sketches' with untidied details?

I wish I had access to some more on-topic opinions by Wright; I looked over a selection of his books and noticed some that would be particularly relevant to this issue, so I will have to see if I can get my hands on them somehow. I hope this will do for now, though, and help to keep the discussion going!

Jon
__________
1 In this case, not necessarily their apparent disagreement, but perhaps just their 'breathless and artless' form, as Wright puts it.
__________
Wright, N.T. (2006) Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. New York: HarperCollins.
Wright, T. (1996) The Original Jesus: the Life and Vision of a Revolutionary. Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.


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Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

  
John 10:10
Member (Idle past 1068 days)
Posts: 763
From: Mt Juliet / TN / USA
Joined: 02-01-2006


Message 33 of 48 (605414)
02-19-2011 10:50 AM


Paul's Testimony
Perhaps you should add this account by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor 15,
quote:
1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

The best evidence as to whether the Apostle's testimonies/writings are true is whether the Gospel of Christ they proclaimed becomes true in your life!

Blessings


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Jon
Member
Posts: 4256
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 34 of 48 (606635)
02-27-2011 11:32 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by John 10:10
02-19-2011 10:50 AM


Re: Paul's Testimony
The best evidence as to whether the Apostle's testimonies/writings are true is whether the Gospel of Christ they proclaimed becomes true in your life!

Of course that's not evidence at alland if it were, it would only refute the truth of the apostles' writings.


Check out Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by John 10:10, posted 02-19-2011 10:50 AM John 10:10 has not yet responded

  
Jon
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Posts: 4256
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 35 of 48 (606643)
02-27-2011 1:47 PM


Maclaren
In an old, worn book sitting tucked away on my shelves I found a take on the resurrection accounts by Alexander Maclaren, who, little did I know, was apparently quite prolific on these matters back in his day.

Granted that this thread seems to be dying, but I figured I would give a little bit of Maclaren's view for anyone who might still be following along.1

quote:
Maclaren in Expositions of Holy Scripture: St. Luke (1944):

The divergences of the Evangelists reach their maximum in the accounts of the Resurrection, as is natural if we realise the fragmentary character of all the versions, the severely condensed style of Matthew's, the incompleteness of the genuine Mark's, the evidently selective purpose in Luke's, and the supplementary design of John's. If we add the perturbed state of the disciples, their separation from each other, and the number of distinct incidents embraced in the records, we shall not wonder at the differences, but see in them confirmation of the good faith of the witnesses, and a reflection of the hurry and wonderfulness of that momentous day. (pp. 318319)


This opinion seems very similar to Wright's, who attributed some of the oddities of the resurrection accounts to the shock and joy of the apostles (see Message 32). Whether these explanations are satisfactory or not in explaining the differences of the resurrection accounts cannot be certain, but I do believe I find the following explanations by Maclaren troubling and certainly without support:

quote:
Maclaren in St. Luke (1944):

Differences there are; contradictions there are not, except between the doubtful verses added to Mark and the other accounts. We cannot put all the pieces together, when we have only them to guide us. If we had a complete and independent narrative to go by, we could, no doubt, arrange our fragments. But the great certainties are unaffected by the small divergences, and the points of agreement are vital. (p. 319)


Here, Maclaren appears to simply discount the differences in the reports, with some belief that they can all be worked together to form a solid whole account. But this requires some pretty fancy interpretive gymnastics, as Maclaren shows:

quote:
Maclaren in St. Luke (1944):

Whether the group with whom this passage has to do were the same as that whose experience Matthew records we leave undetermined. If so, they must have made two visits to the tomb, and two returns to the Apostles,one, with only the tidings of the empty sepulchre, which Luke tells; one, with the tidings of Christ's appearance, as in Matthew. (p. 319)


Say what!? Maclaren's reconciliation has our characters running in circlesdoing things two times or more. This raises the question of just how 'different' two or more accounts must be before they can be considered contradictory. Is it contradictory when the angel tells the women two different things? Is it a contradiction when the resurrected Jesus appears in secret to two disciples first in one account, but to Mary first in another? Furthermore, how many differences are needed before we can reasonably consider the accounts to be contradictory, and after which we cannot justifiably reconcile the accounts by simply merging all of their qualities?

Afterall, the accounts are quite different; to get a sense of just how different, examine the parallel arrangement below of the discovery of the empty tomb:


Matt. 28:110
Mark 16:18
Luke 24:112
John 20:110

After the sabbath,When the sabbath was over
as the first day of the week wasBut on the first day of the weekEarly on the first day of the week,
dawning,at early dawn,while it was still dark,
Mary MagdaleneMary MagdaleneMary Magdalene
and the other Maryand Mary
the mother of James, and Salome
bought spices, so that they might
go and anoint him.
And very early on the first day of
the week, when the sun had risen,
went to the tombthey went to the tomb.they came to the tomb,came to the tomb
taking the spices that they had
prepared.
They had been saying to one
another, "Who will roll away the
stone for us from the entrance to
the tomb?" When they looked up,
And suddenly there was a great
earthquake; for an angel of the
Lord, descending from heaven,
they saw that the stone,They found the stoneand saw that the stone had been
which was very large,
came and rolled back the stonehad already been rolled back.rolled away from the tomb,removed from the tomb.
As they entered the tomb,
they saw a young man,
but when they went in, they did
not find the body. While they
were perplexted about this,
suddenly two men
and sat on it. His appearance was
like lightning, and his clothing
white as snow.dressed in a white robe,in dazzling clothes
For fear of him the guards shook
and became like dead men.
sitting on the right side;stood beside them.
and they were alarmed.The women were terrifid and
bowed their faces to the ground,
But the angel said to the women,But he said to them,but the men said to them,
"Why do you look for the living
among the dead?
"Do not be afraid; I know that you"Do not be alarmed; you are look-
are looking for Jesus who wasing for Jesus of Nazareth, who
crucified.was crucifed.
He is not here; for he has beenHe has been raised; he is not here.He is not bere, but has risen.
raised,
as he said.Remember how he told you,
while he still in Galilee, that
the Son of Man must be handed
over to sinners, and be crucified,
and on the third day rise again."
Come, see the place where he lay.Look, there is the place they laid
him.
Then go quickly and tell hisBut go, tell his
disciplesdisciples
and Peter that
'He has been raised from the
dead, and indeed
he is going ahead of you tohe is going ahead of you to
Galilee; there you will see him.'Galilee; there you will see him,
This is my message for you."
just as he told you."
Then they remembered his words,
So they leftSo they went out and fled fromand returning fromSo she ran
the tombthe tombthe tomb
quickly
with
for
fear and great joy,terror and amazement
had seized them; and they said
nothing to anyone, for they were
afraid.
and ran to tell his disciples.
Suddenly Jesus met them and
said, "Greetings!" And they came
to him, took hold of his feet, and
worshiped him. Then Jesus said to
them, "Do not be afraid; go and
tell my brothers to go to Galilee;
there they will see me."
they told all this to the eleven and
to all the rest.
and went to Simon Peter and the
other disciple, the one whom Jesus
loved, and said to them,
Now it was Mary Magdalene,
Joanna, Mary the mother of
James, and the other women with
them who told this to the apostles.
"They have taken the Lord out
of the tomb, and we do not know
where they have laid him."
But these words seemed to them
an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
But Peter got up andThen Peter
and the other disciple set out and
ran to the tomb;went toward the tomb.
The two were running together,
but the other disciple outran
Peter and reached the tomb first.
stooping and looking in, he sawHe bent down to look in and saw
the linen cloths by themselves;the linen wrappings lying there,
but he did not go in. Then Simon
Peter came, following him, and
went into the tomb. He saw the
linen wrappings lying there, and
the cloth that had been on Jesus'
head, not lying with the linen
wrappings but rolled up in a place
by itself. Then the other disciple,
who reached the tomb first, also
went in, and he saw and believed;
for as yet they did not understand
the scripture, that he must rise
from the dead.
then heThen the disciples
went home,returned to their homes.
amazed at what had happened.

Can all these differences be reconciled away? Is it honest of us as readers and interpreters to believe that the accounts, where different, represent only omissions by one another of the apostles? I don't think it is. To bring this back to one of the issues raised in the OP, how would an police investigator react to accounts as different as these?

Suppose there is a man, Chris, suspected of murder. His buddies have gotten together and decided to serve as his alibi, all agreeing to testify that he was with them in the coffee shop when Chris's wife was murdered. Upon further questioning, however, the investigators realize that despite giving similar testimony as to Chris's whereabouts, his friends fail to give corroborating accounts regarding what they did at the coffee shop, what was said, where Chris was sitting, or what they were drinking/eating.

Gathering up all the details of the accounts, it is possible to build a technically non-contradictory picture, but it requires some strange assumptions; for example, we might have to assume that Chris drank four different coffee drinks during their one hour visit to the shop, that Chris and his buddies regularly got up to switch chairs before proceeding on to the next topic of conversation, etc. Worst of all, though, might be the fact that despite Chris's buddies' claims that 25 other people were at the coffee shop who witnessed him there, none of these other people are able to say with any certainty that they did see Chris, and many of them cannot even be found for questioning!


While the stories of Chris's buddies match up on the crucial big picture, is it not faulty reasoning to assume their differing on the details to be unimportant and inconsequential? Suppose we have other rather good evidence that Chris actually went home during his lunch break and was with his wife when she died, that he used his control to open the garage door, and used his personal code to disarm their home's alarm system.

What we would have is the same thing we have in the case of Jesus' resurrection: a lot of good evidence to the contrary (e.g., the fact that people aren't raised from the dead) against piddly and inconsistent witnessing of the resurrected Jesus. Does this really make for a solid case in favor of the resurrection?

Moving on, Maclaren raises a couple if interesting points:

quote:
Maclaren in St. Luke (1944):

But apart from the complexities of attempted combination of the narratives, the main point in all the Evangelists is the disbelief of the disciples. 'Idle tales,' said they, using a very strong word which appears only here in the New Testament, and likens the eager story of the excited women to a sick man's senseless ramblings. That was the mood of the whole company, apostles and all. Is that mood likely to breed hallucinations? The evidential value of the disciples' slowness to believe cannot be overrated. (pp. 321322)


Maclaren unfortunately doesn't attempt to address the issues he raises in this short paragraph, at least not as far as I could find in any of the surrounding chapter. Nevertheless, I think the issue of hallucinations is well worth looking into, especially as Maclaren seems to suggest that at least some of the disagreements may be underlain by excitement-induced hallucinations.

It will be interesting to see what more Maclaren has to say when I read through the online versions of some of his books regarding the accounts given by the other apostles. I'll post some more if I find anything intriguing!

Jon
__________
1 Maclaren's works, including the one quoted here, can be found at Project Gutenberg: Maclaren, Alexander, 18261910
__________
Maclaren, A. (1944) Expositions of Holy Scripture: St. Luke. Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Edited by Jon, : numbers


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Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

  
Kapyong
Member
Posts: 344
Joined: 05-22-2003


Message 36 of 48 (606666)
02-27-2011 4:11 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jon
02-09-2011 9:05 PM


Re: Applying the Art of Lie-detecting to the Resurrection Accounts
Gday Jon,

Jon writes:

What practices are used by investigators who must sift through numerous eyewitness accounts of an event

Jon -
do you believe we have numerous eye-witness accounts to Jesus?

In fact -
we do not have ONE single authentic claim to have met a historical Jesus.

Here are my notes on the subject :

Who claimed to have met a historical Jesus ?

It is frequently claimed that we have multiple eye-witnesses who claimed to have met Jesus.

This is probably why believers respond with cries of
"why would they die for a lie?"
"how could it all be a hoax?"
"that's just a conspiracy theory"
when a sceptic claims the Gospels are not true history.

Because -
believers are convinced we have numerous reliable claims from identifiable people that they met Jesus - thus if Jesus did not exist, then all those eye-witness claims must have been a "hoax". If Jesus was not historical, the claims to have met him must have been a "lie", If Jesus never lived then all those multiple claimed eye-witnesses must have been involved in a "conspiracy".

So, let's examine the evidence -

How many :
* identifiable people
* claimed to have met Jesus
* in authentic writing.
?

Paul
Paul never met a historical Jesus, and never claimed to.
He did claim to have had revelations "thru Christ" etc.
He did claim to have had a vision of Christ.
And others (Acts) claim Paul had a vision of Christ.

It is worth noting that Paul does not place Iesous Christos in history :
* No places - Paul never mentions Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, Calvary, etc.
* No dates - Paul never places Iesous Christos in time.
* No names - Paul never mentions Mary, Joseph, Pilate, Judas, Nicodemus, Lazarus etc.
* No miracles - Paul never mentions the miracles/healings of Jesus
* No trial/tomb - Paul never mentions the trial or the empty tomb etc.
Paul's Christos is a heavenly being, not a historical person.

the 500
Paul claims 500 others had a vision of Christ. The Gospels do not mention that, no other writer mentions that, and we have no names or evidence for any of the 500. Even IF it happened - they had a VISION like Paul - nothing historical.

G.Mark
The author of this book never identifies himself, and never claims to have met Jesus. According to traditon, Mark was a secretary of Peter and never met Jesus. This Gospel, like all of them, started out as an un-named book.

G.Matthew
The author of this book never identifies himself, and never claims to have met Jesus. According to tradition it was written by an apostle - but it never says so, and it mentions Matthew without the slightest hint that HE was writing it.

G.Luke
The author of this book never identifies himself, and never claims to have met Jesus. According to tradition it was written by a follower of Paul.

G.John
According to tradition this Gospel was written by the apostle John, and the last chapter says :
" This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true."
This is part of a chapter that was added to the Gospels, and it is clearly someone else making a claim for the book. It most certainly does not even come close to specific claim that anyone personally met Jesus.

Jude
This letter contains no claim to have met Jesus.

Johanines
1 John contains this passage :
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touchedthis we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our[a] joy complete.
Some believers assert this is a claim to have met Jesus.
What did he see and hear? He certainly never says it was Jesus. He just had a spiritual experience and wants to tell everyone about it - "God is light". Nothing here about any historical Jesus at all.

James
There is no claim to have met Jesus in this letter - supposedly from Jesus' BROTHER ! Yet it contains NOTHING anywhere about a historical Jesus, even where we would expect it. It is clear this writer had never even HEARD of a historical Jesus.

Revelation
No claim to have met Jesus.

the Petrines
2 Peter has this passage :
1.16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
Here we see Peter directly claim to have witnessed Jesus' transfiguration. The ONE and ONLY such direct personal claim in the entire NT.
But -
2 Peter is the very latest and most suspect book in the whole NT - scholars agree it is a forgery, so do many Christians, ancient and modern. A late and deliberate forgery that claims NOT to be based on "cunningly devised fables" - probably in direct response to critics claims. THAT is the one single book that contains a claim to have met Jesus.

Clement
Never claimed to have met Jesus or anyone who did.

Papias
Does not claim to have met Jesus or anyone who had.
He did claim to have met Presbyters who told him what some disciples had said.
Discusses two books of Matthew and Mark , not called Gospels, not quite like modern Gospels.

Polycarp
Never claimed to have met Jesus or anyone who did.
Irenaeus claimed Polycarp met discples who met Jesus

Ignatius
Never claimed to have met Jesus or anyone who did.

Justin
Never claimed to have met anyone who met Jesus.
Discusses UN-NAMED Gospels not quite like ours.

So,
the entire NT contains only ONE specific claim to have met a historical Jesus - from the most suspect forgery in the whole book.

There is NOT ONE reliable claim by anyone to have ever met Jesus.

But -
there is a vast body of CLAIMS by later Chrsitains - claims that are NOT supported by the earlier books, or by history.

So,
If Jesus wasn't historical, there is NO LIE, NO HOAX and NO CONSPIRACY required at all - because there are NO actual claims to have met Jesus to be a hoax or a lie or a conspiracy in the first place.

Just later books and claims, and claims about books.

Kapyong


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Jon, posted 02-09-2011 9:05 PM Jon has responded

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Jon
Member
Posts: 4256
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 37 of 48 (606670)
02-27-2011 5:07 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Kapyong
02-27-2011 4:11 PM


Whether a direct eyewitness, an indirect report drawn from direct eyewitnesses, or a fabricated account, we can still use the same techniquesapplied to the accounts themselvesto determine the likelihood of each one being true given the degree of variation we see across all the accounts.

As you may have noticed, I've made no attempt to determine the reliability or trustworthiness of the gospel writers as eyewitnesses; my concern is specifically with the accounts they've given. I'm also not looking for a sure and final answer to the matter, but am interested here in addressing only a small piece of the whole puzzle.

So, like I've said before, matters of primary and secondary source material aren't overly relevant to determining the truth or falsehood of an accountthe reliability and trustworthiness of the narrator, yes, but not simple veracity.

Jon


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Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by Kapyong, posted 02-27-2011 4:11 PM Kapyong has responded

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Jon
Member
Posts: 4256
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 38 of 48 (606674)
02-27-2011 6:18 PM


On Reliability and Truth
A lot has been made in this thread about the primacy (or lack thereof) of the gospel accounts. I've repeatedly made the point that our investigation here need not be concerned with whether or not the accounts we've available are direct or indirect; but as confusion seems to persist, perhaps I can say a little more to help clear some of it up.

There is a difference between a report being reliable and a report being true. Very reliable reports may not be true, and very true reports needn't be reliable. Reliability is a measure of how much trust wethe audienceplace in the reporter giving the account; it is often what we use to guess at the truth of a report based on previous testimony by the same reporter that has proven true. In this sense, once the truth of an account is determined, we no longer need to worry about how trustworthy the account is: reliability becomes a non-issue. Likewise, reliabilityor trustworthinessalone cannot be used to determine the truth of a claim; using reliability in such a way is, as we know, a fallacious order of reasoning.

To determine the truth of an account we can do only one thing: examine the account against physical evidence and check for corroboration in other accounts. In the case of the gospels, we've got nothing of physical evidence, and so must rely solely on corroboration criteria; likewise, this methodwhich is textual criticismis readily applied to both primary and secondary sources with identical results. To illustrate this, we can look at the following diagrams that show us how true accounts are identical to false accounts no matter where in the chain of sources the truth or falsehood is introduced:

|=True line of accounting
:=False line of accounting

1.

Eyewitness Sees Event
|
|
|
|
|
|
Eyewitness creates written record (100% true)

2.

Eyewitness Sees Event
|
|
Eyewitness retells event to recorder
|
|
|
|
Recorder creates written record (100% true)

3.

Eyewitness Sees Event
|
|
|
|:←Insertion of falsehood by eyewitness
|:
|:
Eyewitness creates written record ( true/ false)

4.

Eyewitness Sees Event
|
|
Eyewitness retells event to recorder
|
|:←Insertion of falsehood by recorder
|:
|:
Recorder creates written record ( true/ false)

5.

Eyewitness Sees Event
|
|
|
:←Suppletion of true account with false one
:
:
Eyewitness creates written record (0% true)

6.

Recorder fabricates account
:
:
:
:
:
:
Recorder creates written record (0% true)

What difference does it make if our account is transmitted by means 1 or 2? It is still 100% true. What difference does it make if our account is transmitted by means 3 or 4? It is still only half true. What difference does it make if our account is transmitted by means 5 or 6? It is still entirely false. How we determine what part of the account is false and what part is true does not require examination of the provenance of our records, but examination of the content of those records and evaluation of that content against available historical evidence or other, potentially corroboratory, accounts.

In this way, primacy of our sources is entirely irrelevant to how much true or false information they contain.

Jon


Check out Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

Replies to this message:
 Message 40 by NoNukes, posted 03-02-2011 12:06 AM Jon has not yet responded

  
Kapyong
Member
Posts: 344
Joined: 05-22-2003


Message 39 of 48 (606849)
02-28-2011 4:08 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Jon
02-27-2011 5:07 PM


Gday Jon,

Jon writes:

Whether a direct eyewitness, an indirect report drawn from direct eyewitnesses, or a fabricated account, we can still use the same techniquesapplied to the accounts themselvesto determine the likelihood of each one being true given the degree of variation we see across all the accounts.

There were NO eye-witnesses.
The stories were fabricated from OT episodes, the stories grow over time, the authors changed the stories to suit their theological agendas, the stories are wildly different, the stories conflist with known facts.

The likelihood has ALREADY been determined (what do you think NT scholars have been doing for these years and decades) ?
The resurrection did NOT happen.

Jon writes:

As you may have noticed, I've made no attempt to determine the reliability or trustworthiness of the gospel writers as eyewitnesses;

Yes we have noticed that you avoid the subject that we have NO eye-witnesses.
Meanwhile, NT scholars HAVE determined that NOT ONE of the NT books was written by anyone who ever met a historical Jesus.
You seem to be trying to avoid the subject entirely, and then pretending that there WERE eye-witnesses after all.

Jon writes:

So, like I've said before, matters of primary and secondary source material aren't overly relevant to determining the truth or falsehood of an accountthe reliability and trustworthiness of the narrator, yes, but not simple veracity.

There is NO primary material at all.
We have STORIES - stories fabricated from OT episodes, stories that grow over time; the authors changed the stories to suit their theological agendas, the stories are wildly different, the stories conflist with known facts.
This is why we know the resurrection did NOT happen.

Jon writes:

To determine the truth of an account we can do only one thing: examine the account against physical evidence

We've DONE that - the resurrection is impossible.

Jon writes:

and check for corroboration in other accounts.

We've DONE that - the stories are different, and came from the OT anyway.

Jon writes:

In the case of the gospels, we've got nothing of physical evidence, and so must rely solely on corroboration criteria; likewise, this methodwhich is textual criticismis readily applied to both primary and secondary sources with identical results.

There are NO primary sources at all.

All we have is later STORIES by unknown persons who never met Jesus - stories lifted from the OT, filled with magic and supernatural events and divine intervention.

This story did not happen in history.
The only people who believe it did are BELIEVERS.

Kapyong

Edited by Kapyong, : Added answers in 1 post

Edited by Kapyong, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by Jon, posted 02-27-2011 5:07 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 41 by Jon, posted 03-02-2011 12:07 PM Kapyong has responded

    
NoNukes
Member
Posts: 5642
From: Central NC USA
Joined: 08-13-2010
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 40 of 48 (607096)
03-02-2011 12:06 AM
Reply to: Message 38 by Jon
02-27-2011 6:18 PM


Re: On Reliability and Truth
Jon writes:

There is a difference between a report being reliable and a report being true. Very reliable reports may not be true, and very true reports needn't be reliable. Reliability is a measure of how much trust wethe audienceplace in the reporter giving the account;

I think you mean credibility rather than reliability. Reliable reports must be truthful or capable to be relied on even if we ultimately we don't or won't rely on them. On the other hand, credibility indicates how much trust the audience should have in an account. False reports may be credible but by definition, they are not reliable.

There is a good reason why real investigations prefer live testimony of witnesses over affidavits from witnesses. Most of the indicators of credibility (particularly witness demeanor, slip ups during cross examination, eye contact, etc.) are simply absent from written testimony.

quote:
To determine the truth of an account we can do only one thing: examine the account against physical evidence and check for corroboration in other accounts.

I think ignoring the credibility of the accounts is a huge mistake. No investigator would do this.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 38 by Jon, posted 02-27-2011 6:18 PM Jon has not yet responded

    
Jon
Member
Posts: 4256
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 41 of 48 (607178)
03-02-2011 12:07 PM
Reply to: Message 39 by Kapyong
02-28-2011 4:08 PM


Primacy and Truth
There were NO eye-witnesses.

Agreed. So what? Even if we find the credibility of the reporter lacking, even if we think the account hard to believe; we can still examine the report itself both against physical evidence and against other reports in order to discern the veracity of the account.

Our findings in such an investigation will not be absolute; our findings will likely not even be too specific or detailed. But, this should not keep us from trying.

The resurrection did NOT happen.

Agreed. So what? The purpose of this thread is not to argue back and forth whether it happened or not. I'm interested in looking at the accounts themselves to see whether there are signs of fabrication or not (recall: just because a source is not primary does not mean the report is fabricated; just because a source is primary does not mean it isn't fabricated).

You seem to be trying to avoid the subject entirely, and then pretending that there WERE eye-witnesses after all.

I'm doing no such thing; I do not believe the writers were themselves eyewitnesses. But this is not important here; we can still apply techniques of textual criticism to help determine the historicity of an account. If you believe we can discern nothing from the accounts themselves regardless of who wrote them, then you are sadly mistakenthe accounts are all we have, and are by no means invaluable. The throw-our-hands-up-in-the-air-and-fuggedaboutit approach gets us nowhere.

We have STORIES - stories fabricated from OT episodes, stories that grow over time; the authors changed the stories to suit their theological agendas, the stories are wildly different, the stories conflist with known facts.
This is why we know the resurrection did NOT happen.

Actually; we can be pretty certain that the resurrection didn't happen simply because people don't come back from the dead. But... so what? People can believe that people come back from the dead, and they can tell other people that they saw someone come back from the dead. And we can evaluate their accounts, or the second-hand reports of their accounts to determine whether they fabricated the stories or not. Even if the claims are clearly false (for the obvious reason mentioned), we can still figure out whether or not the stories are fabricated. Afterall, someone can tell the truth and still be wrong:

quote:
Jon in Message 1:

When we interrogate the apostles, do we find them lying or telling the truth?


So even if we have good reason to doubt their stories, we should not be so quick to assume that they are necessarily lying.

The stories were fabricated from OT episodes
...
We have STORIES - stories fabricated from OT episodes
...
We've DONE that - the stories are different, and came from the OT anyway.
...
stories lifted from the OT

This would be interesting evidence for you to present. If the investigators find the alibi full of events and sequences of events that are very similar to a well-known movie, then it increases the likelihood that the witnesses aren't being truthful.

This story did not happen in history.
The only people who believe it did are BELIEVERS.

Your belief or disbelief is not the topic of this thread.

Jon


Check out Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by Kapyong, posted 02-28-2011 4:08 PM Kapyong has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 42 by Kapyong, posted 03-02-2011 4:17 PM Jon has responded

  
Kapyong
Member
Posts: 344
Joined: 05-22-2003


Message 42 of 48 (607226)
03-02-2011 4:17 PM
Reply to: Message 41 by Jon
03-02-2011 12:07 PM


Re: Primacy and Truth
Gday Jon,

Jon writes:

Agreed. So what? Even if we find the credibility of the reporter lacking, even if we think the account hard to believe; we can still examine the report itself both against physical evidence and against other reports in order to discern the veracity of the account.

We HAVE examined it !
The Gospels are the most analysed books in history.
But you act like they fell out of the sky yesterday, and that you're the FIRST to suggest we analyze them.

Jon writes:

Our findings in such an investigation will not be absolute; our findings will likely not even be too specific or detailed. But, this should not keep us from trying.

Our findings ARE certain - the resurrection did NOT happen.
Even you AGREE it didn't happen :

Jon writes:

Agreed.

Jon writes:

So what? The purpose of this thread is not to argue back and forth whether it happened or not

What?
First you say you are trying to determine whether it happened,
then you agree it didn't happen,
then you say you're NOT interested in whether it happened,
then you say you're interested in seeing if they were fabricated !
Frankly, I have NO IDEA what your point is any more - your flop around like a wet fish.

Jon writes:

I'm interested in looking at the accounts themselves to see whether there are signs of fabrication or not


Pardon?
But you just said you were NOT interested in arguing whether it happened or not! After admitting it did NOT happen.

Anyway - It HAS been done already !
The Gospels HAVE been analysed. The result is clear :
The reports did NOT happen. The resurrection did NOT happen.

Jon writes:

But this is not important here; we can still apply techniques of textual criticism to help determine the historicity of an account.

We HAVE done so!
But you act like the Gospels arrived yesterday.
In fact - we HAVE determined that the resurrection did NOT happen - like you agreed.

Jon writes:

The throw-our-hands-up-in-the-air-and-fuggedaboutit approach gets us nowhere.

Pardon? What are you talking about?
Who did that?
Not me - nor any historian either - I have, and many historians have, investigated the Gospels - NO-ONE used this : "throw-our-hands-up-in-the-air-and-fuggedaboutit approach" ! You just made that up it seems.
The Gospels are the most analysed books in history. They have been examined and investigated for MILLENIA.
The jury is in : the resurrection did not happen, the accounts are NOT historical.

Jon writes:

And we can evaluate their accounts, or the second-hand reports of their accounts to determine whether they fabricated the stories or not. Even if the claims are clearly false (for the obvious reason mentioned), we can still figure out whether or not the stories are fabricated.

There are NO "reports". There are merely religious stories.
We know the stories did NOT happen.
But you still ask whether they may or may not have been fabricated ?
We KNOW they did not happen. It's already been determined.

Jon writes:

So even if we have good reason to doubt their stories, we should not be so quick to assume that they are necessarily lying.

Lying? No-one said anything about lies here at all. May I suggest you pay more attention to what people write. You seem to believe there are exactly two types of claims :
* truth
* lies
This is complete nonsense - Is Shakespeare a lie? Is Tolkein a lie? is J.K. Rowling a liar? Is the book of Job a lie? Of course not - a book can be untrue without being a lie.
The Gospels are NOT true. We know that. You agree the resurrection did not happen.

Jon writes:

Your belief or disbelief is not the topic of this thread.

Wow!
I didn't say ANYTHING about MY belief !
You don't actually seem to read or comprehend what people write - what a waste of time this turned out to be. I doubt I will be wasting any more time on you, Jon.

Kapyong


This message is a reply to:
 Message 41 by Jon, posted 03-02-2011 12:07 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
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Jon
Member
Posts: 4256
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 43 of 48 (607285)
03-02-2011 11:02 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by Kapyong
03-02-2011 4:17 PM


Re: Primacy and Truth
I am very sorry. My attempts to clarify the topic have clearly failed.


Check out Apollo's Temple!
Ignorance is temporary; you should be able to overcome it. - nwr

This message is a reply to:
 Message 42 by Kapyong, posted 03-02-2011 4:17 PM Kapyong has not yet responded

  
Jon
Member
Posts: 4256
From: Minnesota, U.S.A.
Joined: 12-29-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 44 of 48 (618743)
06-05-2011 10:56 PM


Jesus, John, and Joseph
Over in Reconstructing the Historical Jesus, I brought up the issue of Jesus being regarded, during his lifetime, as the resurrected form of someone else:

quote:
Jon in Message 277 in Reconstructing the Historical Jesus:

I find it interesting that the synoptics mention a belief in Jesus as a resurrected John the Baptist or prophet (Mk 6:1416; Lk 9:7919; Mt 14:12).


As I stated in that post, I think this can be related to the unrecognizable Jesus as recounted in Luke and John:

quote:
Jon in Message 277 in Reconstructing the Historical Jesus:

In addition, the gospels state the inability of Jesus' followers to recognize his physical form post-resurrection (Lk 24:1316, Jn 20:1417).


If we combine these matters, I think we can come up with a plausible explanation for the resurrection that doesn't involve the disciples inventing the entire thing wholesaleafterall, it was far more typical for the followers of failed Messiahs to simply disband or attach to a new leader, not to continue following the failed one. To do this, we need to examine further on a few of the ideas.

First, the mention of Jesus as a resurrected someone else hints at the popularity of the belief that resurrected individuals didn't have to look like their pre-death form. Thus, reincarnation and resurrection appear to be treated as indistinguishable; or reincarnation appears to be treated as being equal in effect to resurrection, with no (or a low) requirement being placed on physical similarity.1

Next, our resurrection accounts in the canonical gospels come in two forms:2

  1. An unrecognizable figure appears to only a select number of the followers immediately, or shortly after, the discovery of the empty tomb, one who is regularly described in ethereal terms, involving orders against touching the body or disappearing acts (Lk 24:1335, Jn 20:1418, 21:425).
  2. A recognizable figure appears to all of the closest followers an indeterminate number of days after the discovery of the empty tomb, one who is always described in physical terms and whose physical nature is emphasized by invitations to touch and feel the body (Lk 24:3643, Jn 20:1929).

The accounts of the second form appear to stem from the same tradition, with specific additions made by each of the authors (Luke and John) based on their own theological motives. The second unrecognizable Jesus from John's gospel doesn't appear shortly after the discovery of the empty tomb, but at least a handful of days later (depending on what the 'this' is that the events are after, since chapter 21 doesn't appear to belong where it is).

Thus, we have four reported Jesus sightings: The Jesus Mary sees, the Jesus who is walking on the road to Emmaus, the Jesus who shows the disciples his hands, and the Jesus who fishes with the disciples. Two of the accounts seem incompatible, though they involve a similar rundown in events:


Type of Event
|
Luke 24:1331
John 20:1417

An unrecognizable man appears after the tomb has been discovered empty.|Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. (1316)When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. (14)
|
The man asks what has just happened.|And he said to them, 'What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?' They stood still, looking sad. (17)Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?' (15a)
The man is told something about the events.|Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, 'Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?' He asked them, What things?' They replied, 'The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.' (1824)Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.' (15b)
|
The man does something that makes his follower(s) think he is Jesus.3|When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; (3031a)Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbouni!' (which means Teacher). (16)
|
A reference is made to the stranger's 'ethereal' nature.|and he vanished from their sight. (31b)Jesus said to her, 'Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. (17a)

Chapter 21 of John contains a similar account, where a stranger approaches some of the disciples and is only credited as being Jesus after performing some sort of Jesus-like action (in this case a miracle); in this story, though, the stranger never acknowledges his identityindeed, his identity is never even questioned:

quote:
John 21:12 (NRSV):

Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, 'Who are you?' because they knew it was the Lord.


In Matthew 28 we have a Jesus who, like in John (20:1923),4 is physically recognizable as Jesus.

Finally, we have the story of the man who reportedly took Jesus' body to entomb it. In the synoptics, he does this by himself with only some of the women looking on or following (Mk 15:4247, Lk 23:5056, Mt 27:5761). In John (19:3842), he is also accompanied by Nicodemus of 'born again' fame. The story of Jesus' entombment, then, doesn't take place with any notable onlookers; and the only consistently-reported witnesses (the women) are the same folk who discover the tomb empty! The same people who reportedly see Jesus' body set in the tomb are also the first to find it empty.

Is it possible that these accounts can be better explained not as inventions by the disciples but as genuine sightings (however embellished) of 'Jesus' after his resurrection? Perhaps several people pretending to be Jesus, one or more of whom actually looked like Jesus, began to move in on Jesus' disciples, cashing in on the opportunity?

Does anyone find this more plausible than a totally fabricated resurrection account? I'm not yet sure. I mean...

Perhaps the women invented it all?

Jon
__________
1 These accounts could also be explained, of course, as a side-effect of the capabilities of the communication media of the day, where people often hear a lot about important figures without necessarily having seen them. Afterall, no one alive at the time would have seen any of the Jewish prophets of old. Thus, these claims of resurrection may not have involved a known difference in physical appearance. Elsewhere, resurrections are always accompanied by a revival of the physical body of the dead person, recognizable by friends and family (e.g., Mk 5:3543, Jn 11:3844).
2 Categorizing the account in Matthew (28:1620) seems a little problematic. It appears as though the disciples instantly recognize Jesusthus implying him to be recognizable, i.e., in his pre-death physical formexcept for the small mention of 'but some doubted' (v. 17). What can be made of this is hard to say; perhaps Matthew is attempting to downplay the failure of the disciples to recognize Jesus, which may have been common (but embarrassing) elements of the Jesus tradition, while still maintaining enough to avoid challenges to the story's integrity. In such case, the story would be doubly classified, perhaps drawing on the more expanded traditions and compacting them into what amounts to little more than a blurb at the end of the gospel.
3 Despite using words like 'recognized' (or perhaps more accurately, 'knew'), there is not really any mention that the the stranger has changed form to make himself look like Jesus, or that the followers now see him as looking like Jesus; we only read that the followers came to think that the stranger was Jesus resurrected, and perhaps resurrected in the same was as John was believed to be resurrected: in a body not his own.
4 I think it reasonable to include Luke as one of the gospels presenting a recognizable Jesus story (Lk 24:3643), even though it is possible at the time of the second sighting that the disciples are merely recognizing the stranger seen earlier as Jesus, that is, it is possible that the second sighting doesn't involve a figure that actually looked like the pre-resurrected Jesus.


Love your enemies!
Replies to this message:
 Message 45 by GDR, posted 06-06-2011 2:29 AM Jon has not yet responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 3799
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 45 of 48 (618767)
06-06-2011 2:29 AM
Reply to: Message 44 by Jon
06-05-2011 10:56 PM


Re: Jesus, John, and Joseph
I'd like to go back to N T Wright. Simply Christian was a book written for a general audience. He often writes for NT scholars and historians where he goes into considerably more detail. He has often been in debate with Ehrman as well as other members of the "Jesus Seminar" such as Crossan and Borg.

I posted this link before and you mentioned you had trouble opening it and I was subsquently chided by admin for posting a bare link. The trouble is that the whole essay has to be read in context and trying to pick out a paragraph or two would be useless.

Here is the link I posted earlier. Hopefully it opens ok for you.

The Resurrection of Jesus as an Historical Problem

Also here is a link to a web site with links to many talks and essays.

http://www.ntwrightpage.com/

Hope this helps.


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