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Author Topic:   Anti-theist
anglagard
Member
Posts: 2335
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006
Member Rating: 6.4


Message 391 of 479 (886601)
05-26-2021 2:24 PM
Reply to: Message 389 by PaulK
05-26-2021 1:39 PM


Re: The Knowledge of Jesus is Available to All
PaulK writes:

His name would have been Yeshua or Yehoshua, transliterated into Greek as “Jesus” and his followers thought he was the Messiah (translated into “Christus” which became “Christ”)

That is why I used "or likely something similar." Granted, I should have made the "something similar" more definitive as in "definitely something similar, but I also wanted to include Jeshua and similar terms, which may have been used as well.

And I outright disagree with this:

quote:
....he made quite an impression on some classical figures, which doesn't tend to happen if you never existed.

None of those mentioned met Jesus or had any great knowledge of him - all of them but Josephus are primarily dealing with later followers.

I mentioned my sources and noted only Pliny's letter and parts of Josephus were primary. But Pliny does not mention Christ (or any Latin equivalent) in his letter. Josephus is not a primary source if and where he mentions Christ or the equivalent, or many other Biblical characters he mentions. He is a primary source when referring to Jewish customs, traditions, and religion.

Outside of the Gospels, which is religion and not history, there are no primary sources, just the nearest secondary sources.

In other words, I disagree with your disagreement based upon my scholarship.

(The “Chrestus” in Suetonius may indeed, have been someone else - named Chrestus)

That observation was noted long ago. The consensus of most Classical historians last I knew indicates Chrestus = Christ.

I still think there was such a person, but I think you’re overstating the evidence.

I think there was such a person, and stated my evidence. It appears we have agreement on the conclusion, but a disagreement over whether the evidence is "overstated."


The problem with knowing everything is learning nothing.

If you don't know what you're doing, find someone who does, and do what they do.

Republican = death


This message is a reply to:
 Message 389 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2021 1:39 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
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ringo
Member
Posts: 19251
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 392 of 479 (886602)
05-26-2021 2:33 PM
Reply to: Message 387 by Phat
05-26-2021 12:15 PM


Re: The Kingdom Of God Is Within You
Phat writes:

ringo writes:

And you put yourself above Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.


Nonsense. I respect other men who have done, endured, and learned far more than I have. All I'm saying is that I believe that Jesus is more than the character in the book.

And you're putting your version above theirs.

Phat writes:

I am not so quick to judge people who ignore what He said, for we all fall short.


We may all fall short but we don't all try to argue in favor of falling short.

Phat writes:

Reminding me what the book says is not going to help me suddenly decide to believe without questioning.


It isn't "reminding". It's pointing out that you're flat-out rejectig what Jesus said. It isn't for your benefit. It's to prevent you from leading others astray.


"I've been to Moose Jaw, now I can die." -- John Wing

This message is a reply to:
 Message 387 by Phat, posted 05-26-2021 12:15 PM Phat has acknowledged this reply

  
anglagard
Member
Posts: 2335
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006
Member Rating: 6.4


Message 393 of 479 (886603)
05-26-2021 3:09 PM
Reply to: Message 391 by anglagard
05-26-2021 2:24 PM


Re: The Knowledge of Jesus is Available to All
Anglagard writes:

Outside of the Gospels, which is religion and not history, there are no primary sources, just the nearest secondary sources.

Technically, even the gospels are not a primary source as they were "written" between 90 - 100 CE.

Figured I best jump on this before someone else does.


The problem with knowing everything is learning nothing.

If you don't know what you're doing, find someone who does, and do what they do.

Republican = death


This message is a reply to:
 Message 391 by anglagard, posted 05-26-2021 2:24 PM anglagard has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 397 by dwise1, posted 05-26-2021 4:17 PM anglagard has responded

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 4715
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.7


(1)
Message 394 of 479 (886604)
05-26-2021 3:19 PM
Reply to: Message 391 by anglagard
05-26-2021 2:24 PM


Re: The Knowledge of Jesus is Available to All
Josephus is not a primary source if and where he mentions Christ or the equivalent, or many other Biblical characters he mentions. He is a primary source when referring to Jewish customs, traditions, and religion.

I had had two semesters of Koiné Greek (the Greek New Testament was our reading material). One day in the university library I decided to look up that Josephus reference to Jesus that the fundies kept boasting about and see what it really said in Greek.

I found a dual-language edition which had the original Greek text on one page and the English translation of the opposite page. When I went to the page for that quote, it wasn't there. Instead there was a footnote which stated that that reference to Jesus was not in the original, but rather had been added centuries later in Old Church Slavonic apparently by a monk.

 
In every claim I've heard of extra-biblical evidence for the existence of Jesus such as from Roman and other historians, it was always as a reference to there being a new religion in town and here's what they believed. Or, as in the Josephus case, it had been inserted much later.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 391 by anglagard, posted 05-26-2021 2:24 PM anglagard has responded

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PaulK
Member
Posts: 17008
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 395 of 479 (886605)
05-26-2021 3:54 PM
Reply to: Message 391 by anglagard
05-26-2021 2:24 PM


Re: The Knowledge of Jesus is Available to All
quote:
I mentioned my sources and noted only Pliny's letter and parts of Josephus were primary. But Pliny does not mention Christ (or any Latin equivalent) in his letter. Josephus is not a primary source if and where he mentions Christ or the equivalent, or many other Biblical characters he mentions. He is a primary source when referring to Jewish customs, traditions, and religion.

Which only reinforces my point. Jesus did not have any impact on any of your sources,

quote:
In other words, I disagree with your disagreement based upon my scholarship.

Then perhaps you should show some of this scholarship which shows that Jesus made a major impression on any of the authors you mentioned. You certainly haven’t done that here. Two - Pliny and Suetonius - don’t say anything that depends on Jesus existence at all.

quote:
That observation was noted long ago. The consensus of most Classical historians last I knew indicates Chrestus = Chris

Who obviously was not present to stir up the Jews in Rome - and died before the expulsion started. If it refers to “Christ” it is talking about the actions of Christians, not Jesus himself. (If it is not referring to some other would-be messiah - since Christus is merely a translation of the Jewish term).

quote:
It appears we have agreement on the conclusion, but a disagreement over whether the evidence is "overstated."

I haven’t seen any sign of this “impression”. Pliny is only interested in the Christians of his time, Tacitus in condemning the Christian religion, Suetonius in explaining the expulsion of the Jews from Rome. What Josephus actually wrote about Jesus - if anything - is uncertain, but unlikely to have been positive. There’s not much sign of an impact or even real interest. Indeed, as I said above, Pliny and Suetonius provide no support at all for the existence of Jesus.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 391 by anglagard, posted 05-26-2021 2:24 PM anglagard has responded

Replies to this message:
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anglagard
Member
Posts: 2335
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006
Member Rating: 6.4


Message 396 of 479 (886606)
05-26-2021 4:09 PM
Reply to: Message 394 by dwise1
05-26-2021 3:19 PM


Re: The Knowledge of Jesus is Available to All
I found a dual-language edition which had the original Greek text on one page and the English translation of the opposite page. When I went to the page for that quote, it wasn't there. Instead there was a footnote which stated that that reference to Jesus was not in the original, but rather had been added centuries later in Old Church Slavonic apparently by a monk.

In every claim I've heard of extra-biblical evidence for the existence of Jesus such as from Roman and other historians, it was always as a reference to there being a new religion in town and here's what they believed. Or, as in the Josephus case, it had been inserted much later.

That is why historians are reluctant to ascribe any reference to Christ in Josephus to Josephus. Later Christian insertions are definitely present in Josephus, the question of whether Josephus said it or was a later insertion may be determined by examining anything that appears out of place.

That is why Josephus is complicated. My main purpose is to state this is a primary source in determining the state of Judaism during the Flavian emperors, not that it is any direct evidence of the existence of Christ. Rather it sure is indispensable for understanding how this new religion developed out of the Essene branch of Judaism.

However, I do appreciate any additional material that I likely should have elaborated on further.


The problem with knowing everything is learning nothing.

If you don't know what you're doing, find someone who does, and do what they do.

Republican = death


This message is a reply to:
 Message 394 by dwise1, posted 05-26-2021 3:19 PM dwise1 has not yet responded

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 4715
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 397 of 479 (886607)
05-26-2021 4:17 PM
Reply to: Message 393 by anglagard
05-26-2021 3:09 PM


Re: The Knowledge of Jesus is Available to All
There is also a lot of variation in practically every verse of the New Testament. They themselves were derived from several manuscripts which added things, left things out, or changed things. My NT Greek class used the Bruce Metzger bible which contains extensive footnotes showing what manuscripts each verse came from and what the variations were between the manuscripts.

As a very minor example, most manuscripts left out Barabbas' name: Jesus Barabbas. "bar Abba" means "son of the father" or "son of the teacher". Jesus Junior? Guess some people could read more into that than it deserves.

What does Luke 2:14 say? "peace on earth, good will towards men"? Or "peace on earth among men of good will"? Or "peace on earth among men with whom God is pleased"? The phrase is "και επι γης ειρηνη εν ανθρωποις ευδοκιας", in which the key word is "ευδοκιας", but more important to the point is the case it's in. The word has a few meanings, so part of the translation problem is in word choice. "Good will", "favor", "being pleased with", "choosing".

But the thing is that some of those translations depend on "ευδοκια" being in the nominative case (ie, subject of the phrase) and certainly that is what the KJV's translation is based on. But in most of the manuscripts it's clearly "ευδοκιας" which is in the genitive case. That necessitates an interpretation like "men of good will" or "men of favor" or even "men of God's choosing". BTW, as I recall that final sigma denoting the genitive case is found in the older manuscripts which should make it more original.

Similarly, how does Mark end? Yeah, with Mark Chapter 16, but how many verses does it contain? Fans of KJV will tell you twenty (20), but they've been fooled by the "Long Ending" which was added later. Originally, there were only eight (8) verses in Mark, ending it with the women at the tomb having been told that Jesus had arisen and that they go to his followers to inform them, but they were too afraid to do so. That's the end. It was later that someone added the long ending, verses 9 through 20, with all the appearances by Jesus and the Pentecostal stuff about speaking in tongues and handling venomous snakes and drinking poison.

But my favorite bit of irony is the curse in Revelation 22:18-19:

quote:
22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of
the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these
things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in
this book:

22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the
book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the
book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things
which are written in this book.


Well, the Book of Revelation is just as full of variations as the other books of the Greek NT, so that curse didn't have much of an effect. Though Metzger doesn't list any variations for verses 22:18-19.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 393 by anglagard, posted 05-26-2021 3:09 PM anglagard has responded

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anglagard
Member
Posts: 2335
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006
Member Rating: 6.4


Message 398 of 479 (886608)
05-26-2021 4:22 PM
Reply to: Message 395 by PaulK
05-26-2021 3:54 PM


Re: The Knowledge of Jesus is Available to All
Now I see the problem. You are stating that the earliest acknowledgements of Christianity does not provide evidence of Christ. I am of the position that these earliest references imply a Christ. Well, it is a stretch to state implying is the same as stating, so point taken.

The problem with knowing everything is learning nothing.

If you don't know what you're doing, find someone who does, and do what they do.

Republican = death


This message is a reply to:
 Message 395 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2021 3:54 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 400 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2021 4:49 PM anglagard has responded

  
anglagard
Member
Posts: 2335
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006
Member Rating: 6.4


Message 399 of 479 (886609)
05-26-2021 4:40 PM
Reply to: Message 397 by dwise1
05-26-2021 4:17 PM


Re: The Knowledge of Jesus is Available to All
dwise1 writes:

There is also a lot of variation in practically every verse of the New Testament. They themselves were derived from several manuscripts which added things, left things out, or changed things. My NT Greek class used the Bruce Metzger bible which contains extensive footnotes showing what manuscripts each verse came from and what the variations were between the manuscripts.

That is why the Bible is not a history book, original text lost (if there ever was one), too many variations, too much added or deleted later for political purposes, no standard interpretation.

My posts are primarily about the earliest mention of Christianity from more secular sources, or in Josephus case, comprehensive first-hand knowledge of Judaism during his time. In doing so I implied early evidence of the existence of Christianity as a distinct religion was somehow synonymous with direct evidence of a Christ.

My unintentional mistake.


The problem with knowing everything is learning nothing.

If you don't know what you're doing, find someone who does, and do what they do.

Republican = death


This message is a reply to:
 Message 397 by dwise1, posted 05-26-2021 4:17 PM dwise1 has not yet responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 17008
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 400 of 479 (886610)
05-26-2021 4:49 PM
Reply to: Message 398 by anglagard
05-26-2021 4:22 PM


Re: The Knowledge of Jesus is Available to All
quote:
Now I see the problem.

Apparently not. The problem is that - contrary to your assertion - Jesus himself did not make any impression on any of the authors.

quote:
You are stating that the earliest acknowledgements of Christianity does not provide evidence of Christ. I am of the position that these earliest references imply a Christ.

The earliest acknowledgements would be the genuine Pauline Epistles. And your sources aren’t even as old as the Gospels. If you want evidence of early Christian belief the Gospels are better than any of your sources - being earlier and directly representing (some) of those beliefs. I don’t rate the Gospels as accurate history but as expressions of Christian belief in the latter part of the 1st Century they’re fine (so long as we remember that there were likely a range of other beliefs in the community even then)

Further, I don’t think the existence of a group called Christians and worshipping Christ (without even mentioning the name “Jesus”) is much evidence of Jesus in itself. The mythicist idea of Jesus as a heavenly being would work just as well.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 398 by anglagard, posted 05-26-2021 4:22 PM anglagard has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 402 by anglagard, posted 05-26-2021 9:36 PM PaulK has responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


Message 401 of 479 (886611)
05-26-2021 6:51 PM
Reply to: Message 363 by AZPaul3
05-23-2021 4:00 AM


Re: Elvis has left the building.
Ok. So I watched this most recent video you posted, dear AzPaul, and have attempted as best as possible to synthesize Harris' main arguments here. As best as I can gather, he has three main arguments in this video, with a few tangential points I will also address. These main arguments seem to be:

#1) "This is Exactly How Christianity Appears To Someone Who Has Not Been Indoctrinated By It"

#2) Christianity Is Built On Evidence That Can't Be Trusted

#3) (Most of) Religion is based on the claim that God dictates certain books, why believe when the book could be improved easily?

Let's begin with his first argument.

#1) "This is Exactly How Christianity Appears To Someone Who Has Not Been Indoctrinated By It"

He starts by appealing to (what one assumes) is an audience of Christians, or at least Americans, using an example of Islam. He appeals to the idea that non Muslims do not lose an ounce of sleep ever thinking about whether or not they will burn in hell for eternity for not believing the Quran is the divine word of Allah (what he perceives as its central claim). Essentially, he concludes with a pretty powerful statement, seen above in my title for this point, to argue that christianity appears the exact same way to those who do not believe it.

It was a compelling comparison, I find the more I listen to Sam Harris the more I find him to be a pretty intellectually honest guy, and a solid, compelling public speaker. He has a refreshing commitment to facts and honesty that I can't help but enjoy.

Hermeneutical Diversity

That said, I find this argument lacking. He does well to make this comparison, as it is a powerful idea that would probably open the eyes of many more fundamentalist Christians to see how others perceive them, as well as opening the mental category that others exist in the world who see us in the same way we see them; with simple dismissal. This is a powerful exercise that could probably benefit us all, Christian, anti-theist, and Sikh alike. However, this argument doesn't really hold up well.

I see Harris doing exactly what I see you do AZPaul . He Has latched onto a specific hermeneutical approach to the Bible and rejected that approach as if the approach is the text itself. He not only assumes he even understands the central claim of Islam, he equates Christianity with Islam as if the central ideas/claims are exactly the same. In this way, he not only makes a lot of assumptions, but he also does not allow for what is called hermeneutical diversity.This is the concept that there exists a spectrum of interpretation for scripture; the Bible (and the Quran) are not static texts with only one simple meaning. To Harris, the central claim of the Quran is "if you do not accept the Quran as Allah's divine scriptures you will burn in hell for eternity." I am not a Muslim, so will not delve into the weeds here, but I will say I know a couple Imams that would probably say the central idea of the Quran is "Allah desires ٱلسَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ ٱللَّٰهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ ("peace and the mercy of God") for all people." This discrepancy exists because of the concept of hermeneutical diversity.

In the same way, The Bible has an extremely large hermeneutical breadth, with the scholarly community agreeing upon some frameworks as more central, and others as more "fringe." While perhaps Jonathan Edwards, writing in the 1750's might agree with Harris' assumed position that the Bible, too, is a text all about "being sent to hell if you don't believe in its God," NT Wright, writing today, would probably say the Bible is "the story of how God is redeeming the world into what He originally created it to be." Edwards preached God's hatred of sinners, and repentance as a way to escape an eternally burning hell, while Wright would say Jesus breaks into history to rescue humans from hell, that is, the hell they have created for themselves with injustice, pollution, racism, etc.

All this to say, I think perhaps with this argument, Harris is latching onto a specific hermeneutic (the "if you don't believe this book you're going to hell" framework") that has been perpetuated by more fundamentalist conservative evangelicalism over the years, not recognizing that there is a whole range of other frameworks he might find more appealing. I will grant him, though, it was the Church itself that perpetuated this framework as the Christian idea, so the onus is on us for perpetuating such a harmful message.

Potential Cop Out? Maybe

Now, one might argue "hermeneutical diversity is simply a cop out for what the book clearly says." Sure, I hear that. However this isn't actually a foreign concept to us. For example, only last week new research emerged that any alcohol consumption actually harms the brain. This is a pretty big deal, however this study has yet to be peer reviewed. The peer review process has different credible scientists taking a look at the data presented, partly to confirm the research's conclusions/claims, but also in order to extrapolate meaning. Sure, the data can say something about alcohol, but does it then mean we cannot drink any alcohol without harming ourselves? One might argue this is not the role of scientists to ask this question, but rather an ethicist, or perhaps even an anthropologist or philosopher. But, in the real world, often scientists are both and.

As you have pointed out yourself, AZPPaul, the scientists themselves were the ones asking the ethical questions at the creation of the atom bomb. Anyway. Inevitably, no matter what happens in the peer review process, not all scientists will agree with the meaning of the data. Sometimes this means the data is not good, but usually it simply means there is a range, or spectrum of what a set of data can mean for people's lives.

In conclusion, (I spent way too much time here ) I find this argument to be pretty "meh." It is basically an appeal to emotion that uses a scarecrow and assumptions as a foundation, which, as I have shown, is a bit basic. I do not think though, that Harris thinks this is really a strong argument. He is a smart guy! I get the sense he knows this is simply an appeal to emotion, a "minds eye" sort of game even, and not an actual cogent argument. We will see his stronger arguments moving forward. Moving on then!

- Raph

Edited by Raphael, : grammar again baby

Edited by Raphael, : final polish

Edited by Raphael, : somehow you always still miss one LOL

Edited by Raphael, : sigh

Edited by Raphael, : ...


This message is a reply to:
 Message 363 by AZPaul3, posted 05-23-2021 4:00 AM AZPaul3 has not yet responded

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anglagard
Member
Posts: 2335
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006
Member Rating: 6.4


(1)
Message 402 of 479 (886612)
05-26-2021 9:36 PM
Reply to: Message 400 by PaulK
05-26-2021 4:49 PM


Re: The Knowledge of Jesus is Available to All
PaulK writes:

The problem is that - contrary to your assertion - Jesus himself did not make any impression on any of the authors.

Here is my answer:

quote:
Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome.

Your claim that Chretus is referring to someone other than Christ was not commonly accepted by historians 20 years ago, and I doubt much has changed since.

quote:
But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.

Seems a bit difficult to argue that Tacitus, seeming to supposedly know the details of Christ's demise, somehow is also failing to acknowledge someone named Christ was ultimately behind this event.

I stand by by current position and will move no further until I obtain more information.

That being said, you hinted that your acceptance someone approximately named Jesus Christ was an actual person from sources other than what I stated. What are these sources I am unfamiliar with, so I may judge their veracity according to my readings, however limited they may be.


The problem with knowing everything is learning nothing.

If you don't know what you're doing, find someone who does, and do what they do.

Republican = death


This message is a reply to:
 Message 400 by PaulK, posted 05-26-2021 4:49 PM PaulK has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 405 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2021 1:06 AM anglagard has responded

  
Raphael
Member
Posts: 171
From: Southern California, United States
Joined: 09-29-2007


(1)
Message 403 of 479 (886613)
05-26-2021 9:42 PM
Reply to: Message 363 by AZPaul3
05-23-2021 4:00 AM


Re: Elvis has left the building.
Alright, now moving onto his second argument. After listening a few times, Harris seems to be arguing here that:

Argument #2: Christianity is Built on Evidence That Can't Be Trusted

If I were a Christian, raised in Christian community to count on Biblical inerrancy (as I was ), I would imagine I might experience a slight bit of panic, or perhaps even defensiveness upon hearing this. The question would arise within, then, "well...why can't the evidence be trusted?" Harris has a few reasons:

1. There are thousands of discrepancies between manuscripts
2. There are no originals, only copies and copies of copies
3. The canon has shifted over the years (he uses the example of the book of Revelation and The Shepherd of Hermas)
4. They contain miracle stories, miracles can't be trusted especially when contemporary miracle stories are mostly ignored

As I have addressed similar things in years back here, I am hesitant to delve into paragraphs and paragraphs of things I could say in response to these arguments. Alas, school is a jealous mistress That said, I'll throw down a few responses in shorter fashion.

1. There are thousands of discrepancies between manuscripts

This one is a classic argument I have seen many places, made often as a reason why the manuscripts can't be trusted. However, and the first three of his reasons all follow a similar pattern; these reasons, in reality, reveal an ignorance of how the New Testament was created, rather than expose it. This is important; essentially none of the things Harris presents here are "skeletons in the closet" of Christianity. He brings them up as if these things are the "hidden dark secret" of the Bible, when in reality, anybody who has done any high level academic work in Biblical studies knows these things. What's more, New Testament scholars are the first to acknowledge gaps in knowledge, inconsistencies, and blind spots, and in fact it was NT Scholars who discovered these "discrepancies." I learned this stuff in my third year of undergrad studies lol.

Anyway, all this to say, an argument like this has a bit of "shock value" for your average American christian, but a reason like this doesn't really hold up to actual New Testament scholars. The reason for this is that essentially 98% of these "thousands of discrepancies" are punctuation & grammar. Essentially none are main ideas or significant parts of the text, and only an extreme minimum are actual differences or what one might perceive as a "contradiction." For example, we have a lot of evidence to suggest the latter half of what would become known as The Lord's Prayer in Luke 11 & Matt 6 was a later addition, the part that reads,

"...For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

This is significant, and it is the reason more contemporary, literal translations, like the English Standard Version and NASB do not include this portion in the main body of the text, and provide footnotes. However, not only is this extremely rare in the New Testament, NT Scholars are the first ones to notice places like this and are honest about them.

All this to say, when I encounter this argument in particular it simply reveals to me the person arguing has not done the scholarly work to understand what they are even talking about. It's something people say for shock value, but when you actually do the intellectual work you discover it doesn't really have as much weight as it appears. Are there inconsistencies in the manuscripts? For sure, nobody, least of all the community of biblical scholars would contest that. But do the inconsistencies expose some sort of "secret weak point" in our ability to trust in the Scriptures as authentic? Not really.

PS: A great resource for all these questions is: - Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism, Greenlee (1993) .

2. There are no originals, only copies and copies of copies

This reason falls within the same category as the first; the fact that we have no original manuscripts is not a secret to anyone in the scholarly community. This might seem like a big deal, until you recognize we do not have original manuscripts for around 80% (perhaps more) of all historical documents. Everything from a certain period backward is a copy. Literally everything. The reason is because paper/papyrus has a shelf life, and its usually not 2-3 thousand years .

Humor aside, this reason does seem pretty damning, but it is another example of selective language. He does not tell the audience we only have 7 (literally 7) copies (not originals, none exist). of Plato. We have 8 copies (no originals, none exist) of Suetonius. We have 49 copies (no originals, none exist) of Aristotle. In contrast, there are 5,686 copies of the New Testament, with more expected to be discovered.

In conclusion, this is another area that reveals some pretty selective language on the part of Harris, in order to present a case that sounds damning, but to any actual scholar only reveals his bias and reluctance to actually intellectually engage with all the information. For a guy who so often talks about intellectual honesty, I wish he would do a little better.

3. The canon has shifted over the years (he uses the example of the book of Revelation and The Shepherd of Hermas)

This third reason, while in a similar vein to the first two, is an example of interesting framing on Harris' part. Again, the fact that the canon has shifted over the years is no surprise to anyone in the higher levels of biblical work, rather, we see it as an extremely important, dare I say crucial part of the authentication of scripture. Talks of the Shepherd of Hermas (a really interesting read btw!) or the Gospel of Judas (a little more on the wacky side lol) might, again, surprise nominal christians or people who do not understand how the Bible was compiled, but to scholars it comes as no surprise. The process of weighing the content, discerning credible authorship, comparison in message to earlier documents, and prayer are critical parts of the scholarly work of canon.

I have found the canonization of the scriptures to be, in general, one of the more common critiques and fears about The Bible in my conversations with people. For good reason too, for the idea that a secret, shadow council of ancient guys came together and arbitrarily picked which books were "in" and which were "out" would be terrifying. That would make for a very interesting movie! However, the truth is really more mundane. In reality, the work of canon is more about discerning the things that are central, and those that are peripheral. I believe I have mentioned this in a response to Percy at some point. There exists within Biblical scholarship the concept that certain things are "central," while others are "peripheral" or "non essential." Think of this as two circles, a smaller one within a larger one, with the smaller one being "central." Biblical scholars are, at least 98.9% of them, in agreement that all books in the canon are central to the message of the Bible. That said, there do exist other works that scholars recognize have been spiritually meaningful to people over the years. The Shepherd of Hermas is one of those works.

I'm rambling lol. A few final points in summary,

First, Harris frames the shifting canon as a reason for why the Bible cant be trusted. However, to real scholars, the shifting canon is a crucial part of Biblical work because it inherently creates 1) accountability within the community 2) the ability to be intellectually honest about a document rather than revere it as "untouchable" and 3) a healthy open-handed approach to scripture. The fact that Revelation was not included in the canon for awhile, and then was later officially accepted shows a non-dogmatism and intellectual openness that is crucial when studying the Bible.

Second, books like the Shepherd of Hermas are not secrets to the scholarly community and, on the contrary, have their place in Christian literature history and are valued for what they are.

In conclusion, I found this reason to be the strongest so far, but upon deep inspection, does not quite hold up as well as perhaps Harris hoped. Biblical scholars value the work of canon, and anyone who understands the process of canon would as well. It is, rather, the person who does not understand this process that views it as suspicious.

4. They contain miracle stories, miracles can't be trusted especially when contemporary miracle stories are mostly ignored

My rebuttal to this last reason I do not think will be agreed with Haha. I essentially have the same thing to say here as I did to AZPaul in our last major debate, about the scientific method. I won't rehash that all, but maybe provide a slightly different take.

Competing Definitions of The Axiological Limitations of Science

What we are essentially dealing with here, I perceive, are competing definitions of the axiological boundaries of science and the scientific method. Said another way, "what is science for?" and more specifically, "what does it have the tools to study?" Harris (this is an assumption, correct me if I am wrong) would probably say that miracles and the supernatural are within the boundaries of the scientific method, meaning, science is able to study supernatural phenomenon in order to determine if they are supernatural or not. Then, using this data, one is able to apply the conclusions to the historical method, and interpret history based on that framework.

The Harris View

Said a more simple way, Harris doesn't believe the text can be trusted because the text includes miracles. Miracles can be tested, and none have ever really been seen. Therefore, whenever we read something claiming to be historiography (history), and it includes something supernatural, it is therefore either not history or some other category of peudohistory, like myth, embellished history, historical fiction, propaganda, etc. In this way, Harris approaches the New Testament with an inherent historical method bias where he discounts anything supernatural, because he assumes miracles are within the scope of science's ability to observe. This is a faith assumption and not necessarily true.

The Biblical View

In response, the Biblical view (I don't like this name lol but it is the most clear) posits that science is axiologically limited. This means that the supernatural (including miracles) are outside of the boundary of what it is able to test. Science can attempt to study miracles, but since supernatural phenomenon are outside of its axiological scope, it has no tools to either verify or falsify them. Therefore, when we read the text, we are asked by the author to trust that their testimony is true, or, in other words, believe by faith. This faith decision is, in part, simple faith, but also an intellectual decision based on evidence.

Personal and Practical Conclusions

In conclusion, this argument by Harris is also pretty strong. To me though, it all comes down to recognizing our own inherent biases. Have you examined your historical method bias and recognized it is built upon a faith assumption? Have I examined my biblical bias and recognized my holding community brought me up to accept these stories as true? In my view, it is only after acknowledging these biases, these ways we assume the validity of certain things, can we ever experience an authentic search for truth. My experience is, guys like Harris are quick to point the finger at the biases of believers while never acknowledging their own. Are miracles real? Nobody knows for certain. You certainly don't. And while I believe they happen, neither do I. After getting that out of the way, we can ask the real questions, like,

- If the miracle stories were false, why do we not find any documents or evidence from the era of people debunking them?
- If the miracle stories, in particular, the story of the resurrection, were fiction, how would a fictitious story spread as truth with as much potency as the early church did? Surely at least one alleged eyewitness would admit the truth that they made it up, such as what happened with the Manson Family (eventually his followers gave up & turned themselves in).
- Why were these stories so compelling to a group of people that they were willing to die by the thousands, for the validity of them?

This has been quite the journey! I am exhausted lol. Will wait on tomorrow for the final rebuttal Until then,

- Raph

Edited by Raphael, : you already know


This message is a reply to:
 Message 363 by AZPaul3, posted 05-23-2021 4:00 AM AZPaul3 has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 410 by PaulK, posted 05-27-2021 12:49 PM Raphael has not yet responded
 Message 412 by Percy, posted 05-28-2021 9:21 AM Raphael has responded

  
anglagard
Member
Posts: 2335
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006
Member Rating: 6.4


Message 404 of 479 (886614)
05-26-2021 9:58 PM
Reply to: Message 370 by Phat
05-23-2021 3:40 PM


Re: Point Taken
Phat writes:

Touche! But I never really ignore Him. I hear Him in my conscience. I just get mad when people who dont even believe He is alive insist that I listen to a character in a book. It seems like a fellow student trying to teach the class.

Phat, I don't consider you hateful, if that is of much condolence. My concern is that you are the very definition of fear and fear+hate = Trumpism, Nazism, Facism, intolerance, etc.

I have something on YouTube, I want you to watch, if you need to take a break from reading. Not a specific video, but rather an entire channel called Overly Sarcastic Productions. Blue is history, red is mythology. Never caught them in a lie, good to go is my reference. Oh, it is not Eurocentric. Might be helpful, blue does a video on early Christianity, may want to start there.

Enjoy, as a great sage once said.


The problem with knowing everything is learning nothing.

If you don't know what you're doing, find someone who does, and do what they do.

Republican = death


This message is a reply to:
 Message 370 by Phat, posted 05-23-2021 3:40 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 406 by Phat, posted 05-27-2021 1:58 AM anglagard has responded

  
PaulK
Member
Posts: 17008
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 405 of 479 (886615)
05-27-2021 1:06 AM
Reply to: Message 402 by anglagard
05-26-2021 9:36 PM


Re: The Knowledge of Jesus is Available to All
quote:
Your claim that Chretus is referring to someone other than Christ was not commonly accepted by historians 20 years ago, and I doubt much has changed since

My claim is that it quite possibly refers to someone else - and even if it does refer to Jesus it cannot be the case that Jesus personally is stirring up trouble in Rome at that time. He never went there, and died years earlier.

Let us also note that this is no indication of Jesus making any impression at all on the author.

quote:
Seems a bit difficult to argue that Tacitus, seeming to supposedly know the details of Christ's demise, somehow is also failing to acknowledge someone named Christ was ultimately behind this event.

I take the view that Tacitus is likely repeating Christian belief. It fits in with his prejudices and purposes and I see no other likely way he could have got this information. (I repeat also that “Christ” is a title, not a name - so if Tacitus were claiming otherwise he would be wrong).

quote:
That being said, you hinted that your acceptance someone approximately named Jesus Christ was an actual person from sources other than what I stated.

Indeed, I have already mentioned that the Gospels and the Pauline Epistles are more important sources, being earlier and giving a fuller account of Christian belief. From that account of Christian belief we can infer that there likely was a historical person behind the story.

quote:
What are these sources I am unfamiliar with, so I may judge their veracity according to my readings, however limited they may be.

Interesting how you got that so wrong when I’d already mentioned those sources.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 402 by anglagard, posted 05-26-2021 9:36 PM anglagard has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 447 by anglagard, posted 06-02-2021 1:10 AM PaulK has responded

  
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