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Author Topic:   Would Mary Have Been In Bethlehem?
Asteragros
Member (Idle past 960 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002


Message 136 of 156 (510579)
06-01-2009 3:24 PM
Reply to: Message 132 by Perdition
05-28-2009 12:30 PM


You say: We are bound, only, to accept that the event is plausible. We have no reason to accept it as "TRUE" merely because it could have happened and no one said it didn't. I have many works of historical fiction that are very plausible, and I don't know of any other works that explicity contradict them. Am I, in the absence of the author telling me they're fiction, to regard them as true?

So, when we have to decide an event is not only plausible but also an historical fact?
If the text isn’t presented like a fiction but as a chronicle of past events, we have no reason to accept it as true? Fine, doing so we have to delete the majority of ancient writers’ stories!

If you, a priori have doubt on the ancient writers’s reliability you are not able to know what is happened in the past (except but from archaeological discoverings).

Sorry, this is logic, simply.

I’ve yet explained (see my message 126) that there are many ancient essays that are figment of the writers’ imagination (poems, fables, allegories, et cetera). For these works […] isn’t important establish their historical reliability.

So, your claim I have many works of historical fiction that are very plausible and I don't know of any other works that explicity contradict them. Am I, in the absence of the author telling me they're fiction, to regard them as true? has very little to do with the argument we discuss.
We are discuss on Luke’s text. Luke presents his account as historical one, not fiction. His manner to cling his accounts to synchronistic data about men in power of his age shows that his story isn’t a fable or an allegory, but is a chronicle.

A legal writer (I. H. Linton in A Lawyer Examines the Bible, 1943, page 38) once observed: “While romances, legends and false testimony are careful to place events related in some distant place and some indefinite time, thereby violating the first rules we lawyers learn of good pleading, that ‘the declaration must give time and place,’ the Bible narratives give us the date and place of the things related with the utmost precision.
In proof he cited Luke 3:1, 2: “Now, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene. Annas and Cajaphas being the high priests, the word of God declaration came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.” [KJV].

There is no indefiniteness here as to time or place, but Luke names no less than seven public officials so that we can establish the time of the beginning of John’s ministry and that of Jesus.

I cannot but agree with A. Rendle Short (Modern Discovery and the Bible , 1955, page 211) when he said: ”It is one of the most searching tests of Luke’s historical sense that he always manages to achieve perfect accuracy.”

Sure, you may agree or not agree with this. But you cannot claim that Luke’s account is comparable to a fiction-story, or that “we have no reason to accept it as true”.

Quite the opposite, we have no reason (owing to his chronachistic account’s plausibility) to accept it as untrue.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 132 by Perdition, posted 05-28-2009 12:30 PM Perdition has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 137 by Perdition, posted 06-01-2009 4:10 PM Asteragros has not yet responded

    
Perdition
Member (Idle past 798 days)
Posts: 1593
From: Wisconsin
Joined: 05-15-2003


Message 137 of 156 (510588)
06-01-2009 4:10 PM
Reply to: Message 136 by Asteragros
06-01-2009 3:24 PM


If the text isn’t presented like a fiction but as a chronicle of past events, we have no reason to accept it as true? Fine, doing so we have to delete the majority of ancient writers’ stories!

Which, when the stories contradict experience, evidence, or common sense, we do. Do you think the Iliad is true? Do you think the Oddyssey is true? Do you think any of the Greek/Roman gods stories are true? How about the creation stories of the Hindu faith? How about the creation stories of the Australian aborigines? How about the creation stories of the various American Indians?

{qsWe are discuss on Luke’s text. Luke presents his account as historical one, not fiction. His manner to cling his accounts to synchronistic data about men in power of his age shows that his story isn’t a fable or an allegory, but is a chronicle.[/qs]

There is no indefiniteness here as to time or place, but Luke names no less than seven public officials so that we can establish the time of the beginning of John’s ministry and that of Jesus.

He also had an agenda. We can't just accept, at face value, everything Luke says. He had a vested interest in convincing others of his story. It would have been incompetency in the utmost for him to make a story that misuses famous people that any aware person would have been aware of. If my aim is to prove the existence of a person, would it not behoove me to work in as much established fact as I could get my hands on?

As I stated before, when we have no corroboration, we are left with more tentativity than if we have some. One source, written with an obvious bias, does not convince me of it's TRUTH, regardless of when or where it was written.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 136 by Asteragros, posted 06-01-2009 3:24 PM Asteragros has not yet responded

    
Asteragros
Member (Idle past 960 days)
Posts: 40
From: Modena, Italy
Joined: 01-11-2002


Message 138 of 156 (510592)
06-01-2009 4:30 PM
Reply to: Message 135 by Michamus
05-29-2009 9:26 AM


Every forums gives us the possibility to present to an international audience our viewpoint, our arguments, and our convinctions.
This is the great advantage of this system of communication.
I have no claim to persuade anyone.
I have only the privilege to present what I believe are the arguments in Bible support. Then, the forum readers so have the opportunity to weigh up the arguments presented and draw inferences from them.
My purpose is only this. Nothing else.

I’m surely interested to what others tell me, obviously, also if in a debate manner; while the personal attacks, regardless of facts, it leaves me cold.

So, I will present now some final arguments that - added with the previous ones yet discuss – will complete this debate (from my viewpoint, granted).

I will confine myself to cite excerptions of an interesting study, intersperse sometimes with some mine introductions.

First of all, this scholar presents another linguistic interpretation of Luke’s account:
“[…] the linguistic data of the last few decades indicates that Luke 2:1 should be translated 'BEFORE the census of Quirinius' instead of the customary 'FIRST census of Quirinius' (see Nigel Turner, Grammatical Insights into the New Testament, T&T Clark; 1966, pp. 23, 24 and Syntax, p. 32. This would 'solve the problem' without even requiring two terms of office for Quirinius.
And, while we are talking about Greek here... the term Luke uses for Quirinius' 'governorship' is the VERY general term hegemon, which in extra-biblical Greek was applied to prefects, provincial governors, and even Caesar himself. In the NT it is similarly used as a 'wide' term, applying to procurators--pilate, festus, felix--and to general 'rulers' (Mt 2.6). [The New Intl. Dict. of New Test. Theology (ed. Brown) gives as the range of meaning: "leader, commander, chief" (vol 1.270)...this term would have applied to Quirinius at MANY times in his political career, and as a general term, Syria would have had several individuals that could be properly so addressed at the same time. Remember, Justin Martyr called him 'procurator' in Apology 1:34, which is also covered by this term.]” […]

Now he precises the chronological developments of the events:
“Remember, the census in AD 6 is NOT the one of Luke 2.2 (of 8-6 BC.)...but the census of AD 6 DID hit the Jews pretty heavily...at least 600 talents as a nation acc. to Josephus (Antiq. 17.320; Jewish War 2.97--cited in Jeremias' Jerusalem in the Times of Jesus: An investigation into the economic and social conditions during the New Testament period, Fortress: 1969). As a national tax, it DID effect the Jewish folk--loads like this are ALWAYS 'distributed to the people'(!) in addition to the already oppressive tax structure of the Herods...
And Luke does NOT place the 'worldwide census' at the time of the AD 6 tax... but rather puts it some time BEFORE the Syrian-based one in 7-5 BC...
But more accurately, Luke was probably not referring to a taxation census at all--simply a "registration". Registrations were normally associated with (1) taxation (above discussion); (2) military service (Jews were exempt) and (3) special government "ballots". We have conclusive evidence that an empire-wide (in decree, not necessarily execution, of course) registration occurred in the time frame described by Luke!”

At this point this scholar cites another expert (Martin):
"A[nother] reason for placing the nativity of Jesus in 3 or 2 B.C. is the coincidence of this date with the New Testament account that Jesus was born at the time when a Roman census was being conducted: "There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the […] world should be registered" (Luke 2:1).
Historians have not been able to find any empire-wide census or registration in the years 7-5 B.C., but there is a reference to such a registration of all the Roman people not long before 5 February 2 B.C. written by Caesar Augustus himself: "While I was administering my thirteenth consulship [2 B.C.] the senate and the equestrian order and the entire Roman people gave me the title Father of my Country" (Res Gestae 35, italics added). This award was given to Augustus on 5 February 2 B.C., therefore the registration of citizen approval must have taken place in 3 B.C. Orosius, in the fifth century, also said that Roman records of his time revealed that a census was indeed held when Augustus was made "the first of men"--an apt description of his award "Father of the Country"--at a time when all the great nations gave an oath of obedience to Augustus (6:22, 7:2). Orosius dated the census to 3 B.C. And besides that, Josephus substantiates that an oath of obedience to Augustus was required in Judea not long before the death of Herod (Antiquities I7:4I-45).
This agrees nicely in a chronological sense with what Luke records. But more than that, an inscription found in Paphlagonia (eastern Turkey), also dated to 3 B.C., mentions an "oath sworn by all the people in the land at the altars of Augustus in the temples of Augustus in the various districts." And dovetailing precisely with this inscription, the early (fifth century) Armenian historian, Moses of Khoren, said the census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem was conducted by Roman agents in Armenia where they set up "the image of Augustus Caesar in every temple.''. The similarity of this language is strikingly akin to the wording on the Paphlagonian inscription describing the oath taken in 3 B.C. These indications can allow us to reasonably conclude that the oath (of Josephus, the Paphlagonian inscription, and Orosius) and the census (mentioned by Luke, Orosius, and Moses of Khoren) were one and the same. All of these things happened in 3 B.C."
What this means is that we have very, very clear evidence of an empire-wide registration in the time frame required!”

Now, I cite you the finale summary of this scholar:

“A couple of concluding points:


  • That Augustus MIGHT HAVE issued a world-wide census decree (a record of which is only preserved in Luke's gospel) is ALTOGETHER reasonable and plausible. The data about Augustus' 'propensity' to count and tax is well known. For example, he documents, in his own records, how he counted the Roman nation some three times (Res Gestae Divi Augusti , 8--from Roman Civilization--SourceBook II: the Empire, eds. Lewis and Reinhold, p 12)., and increasingly levied detailed taxes throughout his reign--with the attendant increase in bribery and vice (see Gibbons'Rise and Fall). As vain as he was, it would not be surprising at all for this to have occurred.

  • It was also customary for the Roman empire to take a census when there was a change of local government (e.g. when Archelaus was deposed in AD 6, one of Quirinius' first tasks was to liquidate his estate and hold a census to determine the tribute load.) The implication of this pattern for our discussion is that when Varus became governor of Syria in 7 BC, one of his first acts would have been to take a census (the one which would have produced the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem for Joseph/Mary.)

  • We KNOW Augustus instituted a 14-year census-cycle for EGYPT in 10/9 BC...(SourceBook II, above, p. 388)...Not only does this give us more confirmation that Augustus was a "countin' sorta guy'" but it may reflect a local execution of a 'worldwide decree' of Augustus.

  • To assert that Augustus did not make such a decree is an affirmative historical statement. And, "the burden of proof, for any historical assertion, always rests upon its author" (Hacket, Historians' Fallacies, Harper: 1970, p 63.).

  • And to argue that Luke was wrong because there was NO worldwide decree (because we don't have a record of the specific decree) is to make a common mistake in historical method--arguing from 'slim' silence (some silence-arguments can be made to work, though). Hacket again:
    "evidence must always be affirmative. Negative evidence is a contradiction in terms--it is no evidence at all. The nonexistence of an object [read: "worldwide decree"-gmm] is established not by nonexistent evidence [read: "we can't find the decree so far"-gmm] but by affirmative evidence of the fact that it did not, or could not exist [e.g. a document that says it did not happen--gmm]" (above, p62)

  • And, in spite of the above methodological and background problems, we DO HAVE CONCRETE EVIDENCE of an empire-wide Augustian registration--literary, archeological, iconographic.

To summarize this section on the 'the missing census of 7/5 BC': I HAVE affirmative evidence and good arguments for such a census:[list]

  • Augustus was this 'type of person' with repeated, known actions along this line.

  • These kinds of events occurred at major changes in ruling personnel--a situation that obtained in Palestine at the time Luke indicates.

  • Parallel events occurred in other Roman-controlled areas, in roughly the same time (i.e. Egypt 10/9 BC).

  • There is not a scrap of contrary data.

  • Quirinius' participation is such an event (along with Varus) is not only possible, but highly likely.

  • We have positive evidence of an empire-wide decree of Augustus within a year or two of the required date.”

    Now, I (Asteragros) think all the arguments have been debated.

    Then, I allow the international forum audience to draw inferences from all the arguments presented.

    Personally, this is my last message in this topic, because for me it’s time to pass to another topic inside this forum.

    Thanks to all.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 135 by Michamus, posted 05-29-2009 9:26 AM Michamus has not yet responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 140 by PaulK, posted 06-01-2009 5:07 PM Asteragros has not yet responded
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  • deerbreh
    Member (Idle past 453 days)
    Posts: 882
    Joined: 06-22-2005


    Message 139 of 156 (510595)
    06-01-2009 4:56 PM
    Reply to: Message 123 by Peg
    05-28-2009 5:09 AM


    'it would mean 30 plus up to 12 months'

    Sorry, you can't read it that way either. "About 30" means Luke did not know. Could have been less than 30, could have been more than 30, could have been exactly 30. Luke did not know and neither do you, no matter how much you wish it to be "30 plus up to 12 months."

    For someone who claims to "respect the Word of God" you sure do read it just the way you wish it to be and not what is actually written there.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 123 by Peg, posted 05-28-2009 5:09 AM Peg has not yet responded

      
    PaulK
    Member
    Posts: 13231
    Joined: 01-10-2003
    Member Rating: 1.9


    Message 140 of 156 (510600)
    06-01-2009 5:07 PM
    Reply to: Message 138 by Asteragros
    06-01-2009 4:30 PM


    As usual you are relying on the claims of apologists, rather than true scholars.

    Every source I have seen rules out the reading of Luke as indicating a census prior to that of Quirinius,

    Quirinus could not have held the position of procurator at the time Jesus was born (it was restricted to those of equestrian rank only) - If Justin Martyr said otherwise, he was wrong.

    Going over your "concluding" points:

    quote:

  • That Augustus MIGHT HAVE issued a world-wide census decree (a record of which is only preserved in Luke's gospel) is ALTOGETHER reasonable and plausible. The data about Augustus' 'propensity' to count and tax is well known. For example, he documents, in his own records, how he counted the Roman nation some three times (Res Gestae Divi Augusti , 8--from Roman Civilization--SourceBook II: the Empire, eds. Lewis and Reinhold, p 12)., and increasingly levied detailed taxes throughout his reign--with the attendant increase in bribery and vice (see Gibbons'Rise and Fall). As vain as he was, it would not be surprising at all for this to have occurred.

  • Thus is barely relevant - it doesn't even touch on the problems of assuming a census prior to 6AD.

    quote:

  • It was also customary for the Roman empire to take a census when there was a change of local government (e.g. when Archelaus was deposed in AD 6, one of Quirinius' first tasks was to liquidate his estate and hold a census to determine the tribute load.) The implication of this pattern for our discussion is that when Varus became governor of Syria in 7 BC, one of his first acts would have been to take a census (the one which would have produced the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem for Joseph/Mary.)

  • This is doubly false. Firstly there was no rule that a new governor would hold a census - most would not. A governorship lasted around 3 years. See your statement below that the Romans only held a census in Egypt every fourteen, Secondly because Judaea was not part of Syria when Varus took over, and the government of Judea did not change at that time (Herod was still king).

    quote:

  • We KNOW Augustus instituted a 14-year census-cycle for EGYPT in 10/9 BC...(SourceBook II, above, p. 388)...Not only does this give us more confirmation that Augustus was a "countin' sorta guy'" but it may reflect a local execution of a 'worldwide decree' of Augustus.


  • This not only contradicts your preceding point, it gives the wrong date for you.

    quote:

  • To assert that Augustus did not make such a decree is an affirmative historical statement. And, "the burden of proof, for any historical assertion, always rests upon its author" (Hacket, Historians' Fallacies, Harper: 1970, p 63.).

  • It is less clearly such a statement than the assertion that there was such a census. And you clearly fail to meet the burden of showing that there was.

    quote:

  • And to argue that Luke was wrong because there was NO worldwide decree (because we don't have a record of the specific decree) is to make a common mistake in historical method--arguing from 'slim' silence (some silence-arguments can be made to work, though). Hacket again:
    "evidence must always be affirmative. Negative evidence is a contradiction in terms--it is no evidence at all. The nonexistence of an object [read: "worldwide decree"-gmm] is established not by nonexistent evidence [read: "we can't find the decree so far"-gmm] but by affirmative evidence of the fact that it did not, or could not exist [e.g. a document that says it did not happen--gmm]" (above, p62)

  • That's just nuts. There SHOULDN'T be a document that says it didn't happen - we don't go writing lists of all the things that didn't happen in a year.

    quote:

    To summarize this section on the 'the missing census of 7/5 BC': I HAVE affirmative evidence and good arguments for such a census:

  • Augustus was this 'type of person' with repeated, known actions along this line.

  • Neither affirmative evidence. nor a good argument.
    .

    quote:

  • These kinds of events occurred at major changes in ruling personnel--a situation that obtained in Palestine at the time Luke indicates.

  • Only true if you accept that Luke meant the 6 AD census. If you don't it is disproven by your own reference to the 14 year Egyptian cycle which is clearly less frequent than the changes in the govenorship.

    quote:

  • Parallel events occurred in other Roman-controlled areas, in roughly the same time (i.e. Egypt 10/9 BC).


  • Too early, and only one area.

    quote:

  • There is not a scrap of contrary data.


  • Neither affirmative evidence, nor a good argument even if it were true.

    quote:

  • Quirinius' participation is such an event (along with Varus) is not only possible, but highly likely.


  • This should be established via evidence - which is clearly lacking.

    quote:

  • We have positive evidence of an empire-wide decree of Augustus within a year or two of the required date.”


  • False,

    Let us note that Christian apologists are biased and prone to invention and misrepresentation. I see no reason to assume that Luke's story was not a similar invention,

    Edited by PaulK, : No reason given.

    Edited by PaulK, : No reason given.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 138 by Asteragros, posted 06-01-2009 4:30 PM Asteragros has not yet responded

        
    ramoss
    Member
    Posts: 3043
    Joined: 08-11-2004
    Member Rating: 3.0


    Message 141 of 156 (510686)
    06-02-2009 2:02 PM
    Reply to: Message 138 by Asteragros
    06-01-2009 4:30 PM


    I have seen this line of reasoning.. about 'before'. However, there are a number of problems with it. The first one, there is no historical record of any census of Judah happening by the Roman empire before 6 c.e.

    Before 6 c.e. , Judah was a country that paid tribute to Rome, but was not taxed directly. The census was for tax purposes, and Rome did not directly tax Judah until 6 c.e.

    That is trying to distort the words written down to a large degree, and then ignore the history, laws and structure of Rome at that time to try to make an excuse.


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    ochaye
    Member (Idle past 2799 days)
    Posts: 307
    Joined: 03-08-2009


    Message 142 of 156 (512091)
    06-14-2009 6:01 AM
    Reply to: Message 141 by ramoss
    06-02-2009 2:02 PM


    The faith that this Jesus of Nazareth provoked spread largely within the Roman Empire, and eventually, after continued persecution by same, forced it to abandon its own religions in favor of a version of itself (albeit a version that, under the surface, had striking resemblance to those previous religions). Now how did that occur, if the very authority cited by Luke failed to point out a simple factual error of this importance? How is it that Luke's account apparently remained unedited?
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    PaulK
    Member
    Posts: 13231
    Joined: 01-10-2003
    Member Rating: 1.9


    Message 143 of 156 (512103)
    06-14-2009 6:50 AM
    Reply to: Message 142 by ochaye
    06-14-2009 6:01 AM


    The answer is simple. Luke is clearly talking about the 6 AD census. The error, then, is made by those who insist that he meant a fictious earlier census.
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 142 by ochaye, posted 06-14-2009 6:01 AM ochaye has responded

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    ochaye
    Member (Idle past 2799 days)
    Posts: 307
    Joined: 03-08-2009


    Message 144 of 156 (512119)
    06-14-2009 9:57 AM
    Reply to: Message 143 by PaulK
    06-14-2009 6:50 AM


    That word 'clearly'. :)
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 143 by PaulK, posted 06-14-2009 6:50 AM PaulK has responded

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    PaulK
    Member
    Posts: 13231
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    Member Rating: 1.9


    Message 145 of 156 (512122)
    06-14-2009 10:41 AM
    Reply to: Message 144 by ochaye
    06-14-2009 9:57 AM


    Can you give a good reason to suppose that Luke DIDN'T mean the 6 AD census ?
    This message is a reply to:
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    ochaye
    Member (Idle past 2799 days)
    Posts: 307
    Joined: 03-08-2009


    Message 146 of 156 (512128)
    06-14-2009 1:07 PM
    Reply to: Message 145 by PaulK
    06-14-2009 10:41 AM


    If it's clear, the question is unnecessary.

    No personal pronouns, btw.


    This message is a reply to:
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    PaulK
    Member
    Posts: 13231
    Joined: 01-10-2003
    Member Rating: 1.9


    Message 147 of 156 (512129)
    06-14-2009 1:48 PM
    Reply to: Message 146 by ochaye
    06-14-2009 1:07 PM


    quote:

    If it's clear, the question is unnecessary.

    On the contrary, the question is made necessary by your apparent disagreement. It gives you the opportunity to state your case. If you have one.

    Since Luke explicitly identifies his census as being carried out under Quirinius why should we doubt that he is indeed referring to the well-known census carried out under Quirinius ?


    This message is a reply to:
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    ochaye
    Member (Idle past 2799 days)
    Posts: 307
    Joined: 03-08-2009


    Message 148 of 156 (512150)
    06-14-2009 6:00 PM
    Reply to: Message 147 by PaulK
    06-14-2009 1:48 PM


    Oh dear.
    This message is a reply to:
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    AdminNosy
    Administrator
    Posts: 4753
    From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Joined: 11-11-2003


    Message 149 of 156 (512154)
    06-14-2009 7:27 PM
    Reply to: Message 148 by ochaye
    06-14-2009 6:00 PM


    Expectations
    I need to remind you ochaye that you are expected to conduct yourself in an intellectually honest way.

    You are expected to carry on a real debate. If this isn't what you want to do then please find somewhere else.


    This message is a reply to:
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    ochaye
    Member (Idle past 2799 days)
    Posts: 307
    Joined: 03-08-2009


    Message 150 of 156 (512172)
    06-15-2009 4:55 AM
    Reply to: Message 147 by PaulK
    06-14-2009 1:48 PM


    'On the contrary, the question is made necessary by your apparent disagreement.'

    I have not disagreed, for one thing. For another, there are 140 posts here that bellow that things are not clear, before the deafening impact of millions of scholarly words generated by this subject is considered. It is impossible to conduct a conversation if people cannot see what exists, and invent what does not.


    This message is a reply to:
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