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Old 18th August 2019, 01:08 PM   #201
ArchSas
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
So just on the last part - firstly they are not "historians", and that is crucial. They are Biblical Scholars. And the difference is that almost all of them are practising Christians with a lifelong belief in Jesus, God, and the Bible.
As a person who actually has some experience in academic religious studies and with New Testament history (a minor during undergrad), you clearly have no idea how the field actually works. New Testament studies are general split between textual criticism and history; that is, people specialize in the study of textual analysis, or they're historians. The field absolutely does have historians, they just get lumped together with the textual people because that's how religious studies programs work. It's the same reason an archaeologist in the US will be in an anthropology department, or a paleontologist will be in geology. What you're doing is essentially saying something like "Ian Hodder doesn't know what he's talking about, he isn't even an archaeologist, he's an anthropologist," and frankly, it makes you look silly and uninformed about the field you seem to think you know a lot about.

That's how academia works: people specialize within wider topics/fields and topics that are related to each other get clumped together. Think of Classics, which bundles up textual studies, mythological analysis, and a specific genre of archaeology. Religious studies functions incredibly similarly: textual analysis and history get grouped together. If someone is a professor of "New Testament studies," for instance, it doesn't mean they're not a historian, they very well could be. Just like a person in a Classics department can be an archaeologist. And even someone that's a scriptural scholar probably has a solid foundation in the history of the period (because its necessary to explain what the text is talking about, and how people thought of it), just like a Classicist that studies mythology will tend to be pretty up-to-date on the relevant archaeology.

As for your second claim, that's nothing more than an ad hominem. I'm not even sure it's true; if it is, it wouldn't matter Prominent Biblical scholars with credibility in their field tend to be essentially areligious in the way they present themselves in their work and publicly. Some, like Bart Ehrman are outspoken agnostics and atheists. Even ones that are religious all know how to do their work objectively - that's the entire point of academia (seriously, read any random scholarly work on New Testament textual criticism or history - no one will be making religious arguments). The only ones who act like you describe are apologists, and you can find that kind of thing with any field (just look at any creation scientist or someone like Jeff Meldrum). Again, as someone that has experience with the field, you clearly don't understand it.

I'm not going to debate the evidence of a historical Jesus here (it's not hard to look into the evidence, and it doesn't seem like you're interested anyway; I'm just here to address your ignorant criticisms of biblical scholars), but you should probably reevaluate your heavily anti-academic position. Just because scholars don't agree with you, it doesn't mean they're all biased and wrong. You might balk at the comparison to climate change deniers, but that's exactly the kind of thinking I'm seeing. Like Belz said, experts are experts for a reason, you're not, you can't just dismiss them with ad hominems because it makes you feel better. I doubt you'll take any of this criticism seriously, but you really should understand what you're talking about before you make sweeping statements like the above.

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Old 18th August 2019, 06:11 PM   #202
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
Just out of passing interest - have you seen the book by Randel Helms (Gospel Fictions)?

In that book, Helms (who is a serous academic) shows numerous examples of where the gospel writers had taken messiah prophesies written hundreds of years before in the Old Testament, and re-written them as the stories of Jesus.

That's a pretty damning discovery, showing that the gospel writers (especially the two earliest and most important ones, g.Mark and g.Matthew) were using the OT as source to create stories of Jesus.


Randel helms, Gospel Fictions, Prometheus Books, New York, 1988

Who is Randel Helms? See this wiki link -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randel_Helms

“Randel McCraw Helms*(born November 16, 1942 in*Montgomery, Alabama)[1]*is an American professor of English literature, a writer on*J. R. R. Tolkien*and critical writer on the Bible. “


There is also a book by Dennis R MacDonald, who is himself a Biblical Studies professor in the USA (see link and quote below), called Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark, in which MacDonald attempts to show that almost everything written in g.Mark was in fact taken from the two works written by Homer around the 7th century BC (i.e. the Iliad and the Odyssey).

I'm less convinced by the examples in that book, since the parallels with what is written in g.Mark seem to be less clear, but it is in any case another example where an academic actually in the field of teaching Biblical Studies, claims to find what he describes as almost a complete source for all of the contents of g.Mark -


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_MacDonald

"Dennis Ronald MacDonald*(born 1946) is the John Wesley Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the*Claremont School of Theology*in*California.

MacDonald proposes a theory wherein the earliest books of the*New Testament*were responses to the Homeric Epics, including the*Gospel of Mark*and the*Acts of the Apostles. The methodology he pioneered is called*Mimesis Criticism. If his theories are correct then "nearly everything written on [the] early Christian narrative is flawed."[1]*According to him, modern biblical scholarship has failed to recognize the impact of Homeric Poetry.[1] "
I haven't read them. But it's clear that the Gospels particularly Matthew were written so they fulfilled Jewish prophecies. The number of times I've heard Christians use as a reason that Jesus was the son of God because he fulfilled prophecies is too many to count. They never seem to take into account the that a work of fiction can be written to fulfill prophecies.
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Old 18th August 2019, 06:14 PM   #203
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
Do you have any evidence to support your belief that Jesus probably existed?
None that will convince YOU, as we've discussed time and time again. I don't know what spending weeks discussing the very same evidence further will accomplish, in your mind.

Now, do you think you could answer my questions, please?

Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
You've ignored all the actual evidence on this point.
If you think addressing your points is ignoring them, I don't know what else to tell you.
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Old 18th August 2019, 06:17 PM   #204
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
You don't want to talk about evidence of Jesus. But you're making a claim on a separate subject (the historical consensus). So you need evidence for that.
Normally, you'd be right. As you may have noticed, however, the task has been made impossible by the redefining of what constitutes an expert, or in fact evidence at all, on this topic. It's a clever game, I have to admit, but one that is definitely not conductive to discussion. And since my name is not Sisyphus, I don't care for rolling that particular boulder up.
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Old 18th August 2019, 06:21 PM   #205
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
I haven't read them. But it's clear that the Gospels particularly Matthew were written so they fulfilled Jewish prophecies. The number of times I've heard Christians use as a reason that Jesus was the son of God because he fulfilled prophecies is too many to count. They never seem to take into account the that a work of fiction can be written to fulfill prophecies.
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Old 18th August 2019, 06:32 PM   #206
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Originally Posted by ArchSas View Post
As a person who actually has some experience in academic religious studies and with New Testament history (a minor during undergrad), you clearly have no idea how the field actually works. New Testament studies are general split between textual criticism and history; that is, people specialize in the study of textual analysis, or they're historians. The field absolutely does have historians, they just get lumped together with the textual people because that's how religious studies programs work. It's the same reason an archaeologist in the US will be in an anthropology department, or a paleontologist will be in geology. What you're doing is essentially saying something like "Ian Hodder doesn't know what he's talking about, he isn't even an archaeologist, he's an anthropologist," and frankly, it makes you look silly and uninformed about the field you seem to think you know a lot about.

That's how academia works: people specialize within wider topics/fields and topics that are related to each other get clumped together. Think of Classics, which bundles up textual studies, mythological analysis, and a specific genre of archaeology. Religious studies functions incredibly similarly: textual analysis and history get grouped together. If someone is a professor of "New Testament studies," for instance, it doesn't mean they're not a historian, they very well could be. Just like a person in a Classics department can be an archaeologist. And even someone that's a scriptural scholar probably has a solid foundation in the history of the period (because its necessary to explain what the text is talking about, and how people thought of it), just like a Classicist that studies mythology will tend to be pretty up-to-date on the relevant archaeology.

As for your second claim, that's nothing more than an ad hominem. I'm not even sure it's true; if it is, it wouldn't matter Prominent Biblical scholars with credibility in their field tend to be essentially areligious in the way they present themselves in their work and publicly. Some, like Bart Ehrman are outspoken agnostics and atheists. Even ones that are religious all know how to do their work objectively - that's the entire point of academia (seriously, read any random scholarly work on New Testament textual criticism or history - no one will be making religious arguments). The only ones who act like you describe are apologists, and you can find that kind of thing with any field (just look at any creation scientist or someone like Jeff Meldrum). Again, as someone that has experience with the field, you clearly don't understand it.

I'm not going to debate the evidence of a historical Jesus here (it's not hard to look into the evidence, and it doesn't seem like you're interested anyway; I'm just here to address your ignorant criticisms of biblical scholars), but you should probably reevaluate your heavily anti-academic position. Just because scholars don't agree with you, it doesn't mean they're all biased and wrong. You might balk at the comparison to climate change deniers, but that's exactly the kind of thinking I'm seeing. Like Belz said, experts are experts for a reason, you're not, you can't just dismiss them with ad hominems because it makes you feel better. I doubt you'll take any of this criticism seriously, but you really should understand what you're talking about before you make sweeping statements like the above.
I think most of this post has merit. But I do believe you're underestimating the natural bias built into this type of study. It's not that these individuals don't attempt to remove their personal bias from their scholarship. I don't think for one minute that there is some kind of conspiracy to maintain a historical fraud.

I've read Bart Ehrman and it's clear that he believes there was a Jesus. But the evidence he cites is only mildly persuasive to me. I believe it is more likely than not there was a real person named Jesus. Far short of certainty. And just because the majority of experts say it is doesn't make it so. I'm not dismissing their scholarship, only the idea that fragments of documents written decades post hoc offers certainty regarding people and events.
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Old 18th August 2019, 06:34 PM   #207
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
"It's amazing how Agatha Christie always knew who the killer was, in all her books! She guessed correctly 100% of the time! She was a genius!"
I don't know how anyone could be so prescient.
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Old 18th August 2019, 06:39 PM   #208
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Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny aren't evidence for the existence of Christ. At best, they are evidence for the existence of Christians.
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Old 18th August 2019, 07:31 PM   #209
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
you're making a claim on a separate subject (the historical consensus). So you need evidence for that.
Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
the task has been made impossible by the redefining of what constitutes an expert, or in fact evidence at all, on this topic.
Is there a post I've missed where you offered a survey or other such evidence about what the experts think, which was then objected to? Or have you been withholding such a post because those objections were pre-emptive? Or are you not aware of such a thing yet but just expressing that it's not worth finding if such objections will be automatic anyway?

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Old 18th August 2019, 07:57 PM   #210
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And no one has redefined what an expert is. Hell, we haven't even been told who the experts are we're supposedly rejecting. Only three names have been mentioned, I'm the one that cited them. And those three experts didn't explain how they determined there is a consensus.
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Old 18th August 2019, 11:46 PM   #211
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
Maybe. Particularly if the writings are about events 100 years before.

Imagine writing about Nathan Bedford Forest today and having nothing but oral stories? How much are you likely to get right? Tacitus, etc are just the last players in a 100 year game of telephone.
You are speaking of two different things: the date of the first manuscript and the date of the writing.

There is no problem with historians talking about facts after two hundred years or more. There is no problem if the first manuscript is three centuries after the writing. This almost always occurs in ancient history. The problem is the reliability of the sources.
One specific problem of ancient history is the scarcity of sources.
Notwithstanding, Tacitus, Pliny or Plutarch are usually considered as (relatively) reliable sources. The gospels do not. Why?

Criteria:
-Authorship versus anonimity. Interpolations, pseudoepigraphy...
-Connection with well known facts versus unlikely facts. Archaeological support, etc.
-Neutrality versus strong agenda. Hagiographies, flattery, propaganda...
-Genre: literature, history, chronicle, theology...

Orality in itself is not a problem. Many historical facts are studied by testimonies. For example, we know many things of the life in the death camps by survivors. Even the slaughter of Fort Pillow that you mention is well known from testimonies of two sides.

Therefore, the date of the manuscripts is not determinant in ancient history. It can be influential in the case of the date ante quem. And no more.

Conclusion: gospels are neither historical writings nor reliable testimonies according the above criteria. The manuscript dates are irrelevant in this case.
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Old 18th August 2019, 11:49 PM   #212
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny aren't evidence for the existence of Christ. At best, they are evidence for the existence of Christians.
They are not the same things at all!
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Old 18th August 2019, 11:55 PM   #213
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Originally Posted by ArchSas View Post
As a person who actually has some experience in academic religious studies and with New Testament history (a minor during undergrad), you clearly have no idea how the field actually works. New Testament studies are general split between textual criticism and history; that is, people specialize in the study of textual analysis, or they're historians. The field absolutely does have historians, they just get lumped together with the textual people because that's how religious studies programs work. It's the same reason an archaeologist in the US will be in an anthropology department, or a paleontologist will be in geology. What you're doing is essentially saying something like "Ian Hodder doesn't know what he's talking about, he isn't even an archaeologist, he's an anthropologist," and frankly, it makes you look silly and uninformed about the field you seem to think you know a lot about.

That's how academia works: people specialize within wider topics/fields and topics that are related to each other get clumped together. Think of Classics, which bundles up textual studies, mythological analysis, and a specific genre of archaeology. Religious studies functions incredibly similarly: textual analysis and history get grouped together. If someone is a professor of "New Testament studies," for instance, it doesn't mean they're not a historian, they very well could be. Just like a person in a Classics department can be an archaeologist. And even someone that's a scriptural scholar probably has a solid foundation in the history of the period (because its necessary to explain what the text is talking about, and how people thought of it), just like a Classicist that studies mythology will tend to be pretty up-to-date on the relevant archaeology.

As for your second claim, that's nothing more than an ad hominem. I'm not even sure it's true; if it is, it wouldn't matter Prominent Biblical scholars with credibility in their field tend to be essentially areligious in the way they present themselves in their work and publicly. Some, like Bart Ehrman are outspoken agnostics and atheists. Even ones that are religious all know how to do their work objectively - that's the entire point of academia (seriously, read any random scholarly work on New Testament textual criticism or history - no one will be making religious arguments). The only ones who act like you describe are apologists, and you can find that kind of thing with any field (just look at any creation scientist or someone like Jeff Meldrum). Again, as someone that has experience with the field, you clearly don't understand it.

I'm not going to debate the evidence of a historical Jesus here (it's not hard to look into the evidence, and it doesn't seem like you're interested anyway; I'm just here to address your ignorant criticisms of biblical scholars), but you should probably reevaluate your heavily anti-academic position. Just because scholars don't agree with you, it doesn't mean they're all biased and wrong. You might balk at the comparison to climate change deniers, but that's exactly the kind of thinking I'm seeing. Like Belz said, experts are experts for a reason, you're not, you can't just dismiss them with ad hominems because it makes you feel better. I doubt you'll take any of this criticism seriously, but you really should understand what you're talking about before you make sweeping statements like the above.
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Old 19th August 2019, 12:48 AM   #214
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
None that will convince YOU, as we've discussed time and time again. I don't know what spending weeks discussing the very same evidence further will accomplish, in your mind.

Now, do you think you could answer my questions, please?



If you think addressing your points is ignoring them, I don't know what else to tell you.

I am not asking you to convince me (or anyone here) by any evidence. I'm asking you about the people who you say are expert historians who are claiming to show evidence sufficient to conclude Jesus was probably real (or "certainly" real, as Ehrman insists). I'm just asking who you are talking about as these experts, and what you think they are offering as evidence.

Your question has been answered many times now, and others here have pointed that out to you as well.

If you mean the question of why we should regard the Biblical Scholars (they are not historians) as likely to be biased when they conclude that Jesus was certainly real (and that is what Ehrman says they do all conclude , and I've quoted here where he clearly says that), then the answer is that almost all of these Bible Scholars are practicing Christians whose religious faith demands that they already believe that Jesus certainly must have existed ... their faith makes that inevitable even before they had any involvement in academia as Bible Studies teachers ...

... that makes it virtually impossible for them to look at the evidence (and that evidence which they are looking at is almost entirely from the bible) and conclude that their faith is wrong and that Jesus may not or probably did not exist ... that would be completely incompatible with their continuing Christian faith.

IOW, what you have here is a lot of highly religious people as the "experts", using the bible as their source of evidence, and concluding that the words of the bible reassure them they were right all along to be certain that Jesus was a real historical figure.

But it should go without saying that they are in major error to claim that the bible is a credible source for any historically reliable fact about Jesus. The bible has been thoroughly discredited by science slowly discovering that claims of miracles are mythical and not true ... a religious book filled with miracle claims is not credible as a source of evidence supporting the existence of Jesus.

As I said before - those experts do of course also claim that there is other evidence outside the bible in writing such as Josephus and Tacitus (those are by far their two main external sources). But neither of those two sources could possibly be credible as reliable evidence for a Jesus that neither author could possibly have met or known at all. And I have explained at length here why those two sources cannot be, as the Bible Scholars claim, a reliable source of fact for Jesus.

So the problem is that the "experts" who you are talking about, are relying on sources which are themselves completely inadmissible and not remotely credible as factual accounts for Jesus.
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Old 19th August 2019, 01:24 AM   #215
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Originally Posted by ArchSas View Post
As a person who actually has some experience in academic religious studies and with New Testament history (a minor during undergrad), you clearly have no idea how the field actually works. New Testament studies are general split between textual criticism and history; that is, people specialize in the study of textual analysis, or they're historians. The field absolutely does have historians, they just get lumped together with the textual people because that's how religious studies programs work. It's the same reason an archaeologist in the US will be in an anthropology department, or a paleontologist will be in geology. What you're doing is essentially saying something like "Ian Hodder doesn't know what he's talking about, he isn't even an archaeologist, he's an anthropologist," and frankly, it makes you look silly and uninformed about the field you seem to think you know a lot about.

That's how academia works: people specialize within wider topics/fields and topics that are related to each other get clumped together. Think of Classics, which bundles up textual studies, mythological analysis, and a specific genre of archaeology. Religious studies functions incredibly similarly: textual analysis and history get grouped together. If someone is a professor of "New Testament studies," for instance, it doesn't mean they're not a historian, they very well could be. Just like a person in a Classics department can be an archaeologist. And even someone that's a scriptural scholar probably has a solid foundation in the history of the period (because its necessary to explain what the text is talking about, and how people thought of it), just like a Classicist that studies mythology will tend to be pretty up-to-date on the relevant archaeology.

As for your second claim, that's nothing more than an ad hominem. I'm not even sure it's true; if it is, it wouldn't matter Prominent Biblical scholars with credibility in their field tend to be essentially areligious in the way they present themselves in their work and publicly. Some, like Bart Ehrman are outspoken agnostics and atheists. Even ones that are religious all know how to do their work objectively - that's the entire point of academia (seriously, read any random scholarly work on New Testament textual criticism or history - no one will be making religious arguments). The only ones who act like you describe are apologists, and you can find that kind of thing with any field (just look at any creation scientist or someone like Jeff Meldrum). Again, as someone that has experience with the field, you clearly don't understand it.

I'm not going to debate the evidence of a historical Jesus here (it's not hard to look into the evidence, and it doesn't seem like you're interested anyway; I'm just here to address your ignorant criticisms of biblical scholars), but you should probably reevaluate your heavily anti-academic position. Just because scholars don't agree with you, it doesn't mean they're all biased and wrong. You might balk at the comparison to climate change deniers, but that's exactly the kind of thinking I'm seeing. Like Belz said, experts are experts for a reason, you're not, you can't just dismiss them with ad hominems because it makes you feel better. I doubt you'll take any of this criticism seriously, but you really should understand what you're talking about before you make sweeping statements like the above.

OK, well firstly you do not need to lecture me about how academia works. I've spent a lifetime in academia as a theoretical physicist, so I'm well aware of what academia is like from the inside thank you.

But as far as what you say about Bible Studies lecturers also being "historians" - if they are employed as "Bible Scholars" and "New testament Scholars" as their official job title, and employed in departments of Biblical Studies, then they are definitely not university academic "Historians". All that you appear to be saying for them, is that they study historical documents and conduct research of historical documents (in some cases with attempts also at archeology of historical ancient sites and artefacts), and that makes them "Historians" ...

... well that does not make them historians! Just because anyone studies things from the distant past, that does not make them academic university historians ... they are not employed as "historians".

The only reason why Biblical Studies Scholars (for some reason they are always called "scholars") are studying anything from ancient history, is because the subject which they are interested in, ie the bible and Jesus, are things for which the evidence dates back to around the first few centuries AD. If the Bible and it's claims of Jesus had been written last year, then they would all be studying what was written just one year ago! .... they just happen to be focused upon things which happened 2000 years ago, and you are claiming that makes them the same as all other neutral academics that we call "historians" ... well it does not! ... they remain Biblical Studies Scholars who are studying material from the ancient past.

If merely researching and writing about things from ancient history made you a "historian" (as one poster above claimed to define it), then virtually everyone in this thread would be a "historian"! Because most posters here have read very extensively about the roots of this subject, and most have written and spoken a great deal about it. Any 12 year schoolboy who goes to a library and reads the first few pages of a history book and then writes a two page essay for a school project would also qualify as a "historian" upon that sort of definition.

Yes, of course Biblical Scholars like Bart Ehrman, J.D. Crossan, E.P.Sanders have studied the history of writing about the Bible and Jesus, do you think anyone here has ever denied that? But that does not make them "historians" in the usual sense of saying they are neutral academics employed as History professors in the History department of a recognised university.

There may be some actual historians who have written on this subject of Jesus historicity, because after all there are tens of thousands of university academic historians all over the world, so some of them probably have written about it. I'm just asking who those actual historians are, and what they are claiming to have used as evidence if they say that the evidence shows Jesus existed ... and their evidence had better not be the Bible + Tacitus and Josephus!

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Old 19th August 2019, 02:00 AM   #216
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Originally Posted by ArchSas View Post
As a person who actually has some experience in academic religious studies and with New Testament history (a minor during undergrad), ....

... etc...

Just one more general point on this subject (and I've only truncated your above post, not to be critical or dismissive of it, but because I've already replied to it) -

- the reasons why Bart Ehrman and his colleagues in biblical studies want to call themselves "historians" is because they think it adds credibility to their position. And that's also why throughout the ten years or more of threads on this subject, supporters of a HJ (or whatever you would like to call them) have constantly posted describing them as historians ... they think it makes Ehrman and the others look far more credible as "experts" ... they want to portray these particular academics and what they say about Jesus, as entirely objective and impressively researched with completely neutral conclusions etc ...

... but whilst Ehrman and his colleagues are quoting the bible as their main source, it should be obvious to any honest educated person (inc. all posters here), that they are not operating as entirely neutral objective academics. Because no honest educated person could reasonably believe that a source like the bible is at all credible as objective independent factual evidence for Jesus.

And I'm only mentioning Bart Ehrman so often, not to criticise him as a person, or even as an academic. I'm just taking him as the example because he is by far the most well known writer on this subject. And he is also the single person most often named (by far) by people on the internet who argue for the likelihood of a real Jesus.

The problem here is only that it needs a vastly better source of evidence than the bible for anyone to honestly or accurately conclude that such evidence shows Jesus to have been real.

It needs a source that is completely independent of the bible, and which has at least some semblance of factual accuracy. But afaik, there simply is no such properly independent reliable source for anything to do with Jesus.

Does that mean he could not have existed. No. Of course not. he might have existed. But there is simply no decent evidence of it. And unfortunately, to the contrary, what there is, is a huge abundance of evidence showing that the biblical writing is most definitely filled with untrue claims of people witnessing Jesus ... ie the evidence is very decidedly against what was said about Jesus in that biblical source …

… and that is a huge problem for anyone (such all these biblical scholars) claiming that Jesus is shown to be real upon that same biblical source as their evidence.

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Old 19th August 2019, 02:47 AM   #217
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
Is there a post I've missed where you offered a survey or other such evidence about what the experts think, which was then objected to? Or have you been withholding such a post because those objections were pre-emptive? Or are you not aware of such a thing yet but just expressing that it's not worth finding if such objections will be automatic anyway?
I think I've made clear why I don't want to discuss the evidence at all.

A) I'm currently much more interested in what we consider authorities on the matter and what constitutes evidence.
B) Ian and the others are well aware of what's presented as arguments or evidence of HJ as they've participated in every major thread on the topic over the years. To the best of my knowledge no new evidence has surfaced so there's no need to re-post evidence that they do not find convincing -- or in this case, that they deny even exists.
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Old 19th August 2019, 02:53 AM   #218
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
I am not asking you to convince me (or anyone here) by any evidence.
Good, so let's move on.

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Your question has been answered many times now, and others here have pointed that out to you as well.
Not this one (rephrased): do you think that people who have spent decades studying and working professionally in a field know better than you or I what constitutes evidence in favour or against a hypothesis relating to that field?

Quote:
... that makes it virtually impossible for them to look at the evidence (and that evidence which they are looking at is almost entirely from the bible) and conclude that their faith is wrong and that Jesus may not or probably did not exist ... that would be completely incompatible with their continuing Christian faith.
Ad hominem. I'm not interested in how one can characterise other people in order to ignore their conclusions.

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But it should go without saying that they are in major error to claim that the bible is a credible source for any historically reliable fact about Jesus. The bible has been thoroughly discredited by science slowly discovering that claims of miracles are mythical and not true
Sure, but we're not talking about miracles. We're talking about what parts, if any, of the story have any historical merit. There are ways to determine that with some degree of confidence, but although the process is similar to that of science, it's not quite the same for reasons detailed at length in other threads in which you participated.

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So the problem is that the "experts" who you are talking about, are relying on sources which are themselves completely inadmissible and not remotely credible as factual accounts for Jesus.
According to you. That's the reason I asked my question above.
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Old 19th August 2019, 03:17 AM   #219
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I think I've made clear why I don't want to discuss the evidence at all.

A) I'm currently much more interested in what we consider authorities on the matter and what constitutes evidence.
B) Ian and the others are well aware of what's presented as arguments or evidence of HJ as they've participated in every major thread on the topic over the years. To the best of my knowledge no new evidence has surfaced so there's no need to re-post evidence that they do not find convincing -- or in this case, that they deny even exists.
I think you guys are talking past each other. It appears that they are asking you to provide evidence that there is a consensus of historians who believe a HJ existed and to what that consensus is and why they believe it to be the case.

I think there is a prima facie credibility problem with Bible Scholars concluding Jesus existed in the same way there is a credibility problem with academics who teach complementary medicine concluding that it works. So to resolve that I think you only have two options:

1. Show that those guys are doing good scholarship, using accurate methods and their conclusions hold weight or

2. Set them aside and see what you have left in terms of a weight of evidence and consensus.

On the other hand, what you do not obviously have is any significant group of scholars who seem to be insisting that the claimed consensus is incorrect. So that does give it some credence.

So I think what might be missing here is a shortlist of credible historians that conclude Jesus existed. We have one name Bart Ehrman so far, who else is on that list? I think that is all you are being asked.
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Old 19th August 2019, 03:23 AM   #220
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
There are ways to determine that with some degree of confidence, but although the process is similar to that of science, it's not quite the same for reasons detailed at length in other threads in which you participated.
This is where I struggle because the process does not seem in the least bit robust to me absent confirmation from extra-Biblical sources.

I don't see how you can determine which parts of the Spiderman comics, Sherlock Holmes novels or legend of King Arthur are historically accurate solely by reference to the works themselves.

It simply seems like guesswork. Educated guesswork perhaps, but still guesswork.
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Old 19th August 2019, 03:34 AM   #221
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
Do you have any evidence to support your belief that Jesus probably existed?

You have repeatedly claimed that "experts" who are "historians" have provided evidence to show that Jesus was real... can you provide the evidence to backup your claims about these "expert historians", where are they? ...

... it's your claim of having expert historians with the evidence, so the "burden of proof" is definitely upon you to tell us who those individuals are and tell us what they are claiming as the evidence for Jesus.

Your other excuses are all exhausted (long ago) -

Who are these expert historians, and what is their evidence?
IanS, The affirmative claim is that there once was some bloke in the Levant called Jesus.

What do you find to be extraordinary about such a claim?
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Old 19th August 2019, 04:09 AM   #222
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Originally Posted by Archie Gemmill Goal View Post
I think you guys are talking past each other. It appears that they are asking you to provide evidence that there is a consensus of historians who believe a HJ existed and to what that consensus is and why they believe it to be the case.
Ian's been asking me both: evidence of a consensus, and evidence for HJ. The latter's outside of what I want to discuss here, and the former has been defined out of existence.

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This is where I struggle because the process does not seem in the least bit robust to me absent confirmation from extra-Biblical sources.
Well, there is some extra-biblical stuff, but not for Jesus directly. In any case, that we individually are convinced or not about the evidence that exists, weak as it is, is irrelevant to the larger point I'm trying to make.
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Old 19th August 2019, 04:10 AM   #223
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
IanS, The affirmative claim is that there once was some bloke in the Levant called Jesus.
To me it's not even that. The name's irrelevant. To me the question is whether there is a person or persons who were the inspiration of the Jesus stories, or whether they were built wholecloth or from earlier mythologies. HJ vs MJ.
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Old 19th August 2019, 04:51 AM   #224
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
Is there a post I've missed where you offered a survey or other such evidence about what the experts think, which was then objected to? Or have you been withholding such a post because those objections were pre-emptive? Or are you not aware of such a thing yet but just expressing that it's not worth finding if such objections will be automatic anyway?
Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I think I've made clear why I don't want to discuss the evidence at all.

A) I'm currently much more interested in what we consider authorities on the matter and what constitutes evidence.
B) Ian and the others are well aware of what's presented as arguments or evidence of HJ...
I ask about evidence for the claim that most experts think he was real, and you answer in reference to evidence for the claim that he was real. You're fleeing from the subject you claim to want to focus on, right back into the one you claim to want to avoid.

Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
do you think that people who have spent decades studying and working professionally in a field know better than you or I what constitutes evidence in favour or against a hypothesis relating to that field?
Not necessarily, in a field with a known tendency for dogma (and even preconceptions that haven't been fully let go yet even by someone who has walked away from most of the dogma) to squash or constrain honest diligence.

Of course, any historian who chooses that particular place & time as the part of history to focus on has some chance that (s)he's primarily interested in it because of coming from a Christian background, so some degree of potential for bias can't be avoided. But if someone were to actually try to do a survey to support or refute the claim that most relevant experts think Jesus was real, they could at least avoid the deeper & more obvious bias-traps by only surveying secular university history departments, not Christian think tanks & seminaries and departments of Bible Studies or Theology. Have they? Does any kind of survey anywhere near any of this, no matter how flawed its methods might be, even exist yet? And if it does, then why do those whose argument is based on it keep avoiding that question instead of just saying "Yes; here it is"?

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Old 19th August 2019, 04:59 AM   #225
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Originally Posted by Delvo View Post
I ask about evidence for the claim that most experts think he was real, and you answer in reference to evidence for the claim that he was real.
Sorry, I misread your question.

But as I've already said, participants in this thread have poisoned the well to the point where any source that claims that a consensus exists is dismissed out of hand. So I don't know where I would get the evidence you're asking for that would not be so dismissed. As I also said before, it's quite clever. Devious, but clever.

Quote:
Not necessarily, in a field with a known tendency for dogma (and even preconceptions that haven't been fully let go yet even by someone who has walked away from most of the dogma) to squash or constrain honest diligence.
But has it demonstrated that tendency, or are we just assuming that these people are hopelessly biased because of our own biases against theists?

It's like when you go to a mechanic who identifies a problem with your car, and you dismiss his concerns because 'mechanics are there to make money' and you think he's just trying to con you.
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Old 19th August 2019, 05:25 AM   #226
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Ian's been asking me both: evidence of a consensus, and evidence for HJ. The latter's outside of what I want to discuss here, and the former has been defined out of existence.



Well, there is some extra-biblical stuff, but not for Jesus directly. In any case, that we individually are convinced or not about the evidence that exists, weak as it is, is irrelevant to the larger point I'm trying to make.
as far as i can see you have not really provided what has been asked of you. or attempted to. you have pointed to a consensus but failed to substantiate it.

what is the larger point you are trying to make? because you dont seem to be making it very well.
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Old 19th August 2019, 05:29 AM   #227
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
To me it's not even that. The name's irrelevant. To me the question is whether there is a person or persons who were the inspiration of the Jesus stories, or whether they were built wholecloth or from earlier mythologies. HJ vs MJ.
To me there is only a pedantic difference between an entirely fictional character or one based on a person that did or said nothing that the bible claims but i struggle to see any methodology that could distinguish the two without further contemporary evidence.
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Old 19th August 2019, 05:43 AM   #228
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Originally Posted by Archie Gemmill Goal View Post
as far as i can see you have not really provided what has been asked of you. or attempted to.
As I've stated before (and I don't know why I have to repeat myself over and over) other posters have made the task impossible even in principle. So why bother?

Quote:
what is the larger point you are trying to make?
Primarily that despite the fact that laypeople can certainly view the evidence and arguments and draw their own conclusions, there's a reason why we have experts in various fields, and that's that these people are better equipped to determine what constitutes evidence in that field and how various pieces of evidence interact. And I think everyone kind of agrees with that larger point, but on this specific topic there's a persistent effort to discredit said experts, first because they're not "genuine" experts or not true historians, or because of their religion or, more circularily, because the evidence does not support their conclusions despite what I said above.

I'm trying to disentangle all that, but it hasn't been easy, in part, in my view, because there are posters here who find the very idea that anything in the bibble might be based on anything real to be so distasteful and unacceptable that their only possible response to that suggestion is total denial of everything that could lead to it.
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Old 19th August 2019, 05:43 AM   #229
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Good, so let's move on.



Not this one (rephrased): do you think that people who have spent decades studying and working professionally in a field know better than you or I what constitutes evidence in favour or against a hypothesis relating to that field?



Ad hominem. I'm not interested in how one can characterise other people in order to ignore their conclusions.



Sure, but we're not talking about miracles. We're talking about what parts, if any, of the story have any historical merit. There are ways to determine that with some degree of confidence, but although the process is similar to that of science, it's not quite the same for reasons detailed at length in other threads in which you participated.



According to you. That's the reason I asked my question above.

If you do not accept that they are using sources that are inadmissible as reliably knowing bout Jesus, then what sources are they using?

Why don't you tell us what sources they are using?

Who are these people? (so we can check their background), what sources are they using (so we can check those sources for ourselves), and what are they claiming as evidence from those sources to conclude Jesus was real?
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Old 19th August 2019, 05:45 AM   #230
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
If you do not accept that they are using sources that are inadmissible as reliably knowing bout Jesus, then what sources are they using?
First of all: inadmissible according to who?

Also:
Do you think that people who have spent decades studying and working professionally in a field know better than you or I what constitutes evidence in favour or against a hypothesis relating to that field?
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Old 19th August 2019, 06:01 AM   #231
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
IanS, The affirmative claim is that there once was some bloke in the Levant called Jesus.

What do you find to be extraordinary about such a claim?

I don't think it would be at all extraordinary if Jesus existed (although obviously not as the miraculous son of a supernatural creator of the universe).

If the question is "Is it possible that person X existed in the early first century?", then answer is that of course it's possible.

However, if the question is "Can Bible Scholars tell from the Bible that the figure known as Jesus certainly existed?", then I think the answer is "No!". But even if they just claimed it was likely that he existed (e.g., as Belz has put it at 60% likelihood), then we'd have to ask what sources they were using to determine it as likely? ... and the answer cannot be that their source is the Bible (because that's just not remotely credible).
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Old 19th August 2019, 06:06 AM   #232
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
Belz has put it at 60% likelihood
I already said that 60% was NOT a hard figure arrived via calculations but just an expression of how my I leant towards that conclusion. Please don't give the impression that it means anything more. Hell, even acbytestla, who disagrees with me on this issue, is at 70%.
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Old 19th August 2019, 06:09 AM   #233
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
As I've stated before (and I don't know why I have to repeat myself over and over) other posters have made the task impossible even in principle. So why bother?
Because there's no point going on and on if you won't move the conversation forward.

Quote:
Primarily that despite the fact that laypeople can certainly view the evidence and arguments and draw their own conclusions, there's a reason why we have experts in various fields, and that's that these people are better equipped to determine what constitutes evidence in that field and how various pieces of evidence interact. And I think everyone kind of agrees with that larger point, but on this specific topic there's a persistent effort to discredit said experts, first because they're not "genuine" experts or not true historians, or because of their religion or, more circularily, because the evidence does not support their conclusions despite what I said above.

I'm trying to disentangle all that, but it hasn't been easy, in part, in my view, because there are posters here who find the very idea that anything in the bibble might be based on anything real to be so distasteful and unacceptable that their only possible response to that suggestion is total denial of everything that could lead to it.
But we don't just accept the word of experts in other fields. I can find you a consensus of CAM experts to tell you it works and you won't believe them either. I think it's legitimate in that case to ask 'hmm... what do actual doctors think rather than those with a vested interest in the conclusion?' so when it comes to HJ I think its also valid to ask 'what do actual historians think rather than Theologians?'

If the response to the enquiry on CAM was 'why are you ignoring the consensus of the CAM experts in the field? You are defining away their expertise' would you take it seriously as a legitimate counter?
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Old 19th August 2019, 06:11 AM   #234
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Sorry, I misread your question.

But as I've already said, participants in this thread have poisoned the well to the point where any source that claims that a consensus exists is dismissed out of hand. So I don't know where I would get the evidence you're asking for that would not be so dismissed. As I also said before, it's quite clever. Devious, but clever.



But has it demonstrated that tendency, or are we just assuming that these people are hopelessly biased because of our own biases against theists?

It's like when you go to a mechanic who identifies a problem with your car, and you dismiss his concerns because 'mechanics are there to make money' and you think he's just trying to con you.

The highlight - No! Nobody here has poisoned any such well.

I'd instantly accept evidence showing that Jesus was probably a real person, providing any decent genuine evidence was produced.

But the problem is that the Biblical Scholars who are the ones pronouncing upon this subject, have never produced any such evidence. They have not produced anything remotely credible at all!

What they have produced is the Bible!
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Old 19th August 2019, 06:15 AM   #235
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Originally Posted by Archie Gemmill Goal View Post
Because there's no point going on and on if you won't move the conversation forward.
Yes, that's what I said.

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But we don't just accept the word of experts in other fields.
No, but we do tend to accept their collective opinions. We also don't dismiss them out of hand because of their potential biases or financial considerations.
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Old 19th August 2019, 06:16 AM   #236
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
I'd instantly accept evidence showing that Jesus was probably a real person, providing any decent genuine evidence was produced.
I'm sure you would. The question is what would you consider as evidence, or rather, why you disagree on what constitutes evidence with either myself or the (so-called) experts on the matter?

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Nobody here has poisoned any such well.
I think I've made my case as to why I think it is the case.
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Old 19th August 2019, 06:17 AM   #237
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I already said that 60% was NOT a hard figure arrived via calculations but just an expression of how my I leant towards that conclusion. Please don't give the impression that it means anything more. Hell, even acbytestla, who disagrees with me on this issue, is at 70%.
That's fair enough but you (and others) arrived at the conclusion that it is more likely than not. So it's a legitimate question to ask what sources of information you (and they) have used to reach that conclusion, true?

Correct me if I am wrong, but the whole thing seems to collapse down to the fact that we can be pretty sure Christians existed around the time of Christ and it seems unlikely that they would have existed had there not been some kind of person that sort of fits the bill of Jesus?
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Old 19th August 2019, 06:18 AM   #238
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
No, but we do tend to accept their collective opinions.
No, we don't. And I just gave an example of where we don't. CAM. We dismiss the whole field and everyone who works in it. And you haven't taken that point on board it appears.
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Old 19th August 2019, 06:22 AM   #239
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I'm sure you would. The question is what would you consider as evidence,
I think he has been clear - credible, reliable, non-Biblical corroboration.
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Old 19th August 2019, 06:22 AM   #240
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
I haven't read them. But it's clear that the Gospels particularly Matthew were written so they fulfilled Jewish prophecies. The number of times I've heard Christians use as a reason that Jesus was the son of God because he fulfilled prophecies is too many to count. They never seem to take into account the that a work of fiction can be written to fulfill prophecies.
This is one of the lines of reasoning for why Jesus probably existed. The Gospels are so clearly written to make seem like Jesus was fulfilling prophecy. If he were just fictional, it would have been a lot more....cohesive story. Things like the trip to Bethleham and the Roman census are mean to shoe horn a Nazerene into the old testament prophecies. If you were just going to make it up, you'd start with a family from Bethleham. There's some other stuff like that off course.
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