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Old 6th December 2017, 04:05 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
What "credibility"? What matters is who wrote it, in what context, for what purpose. May I suggest reading up on the basics of historiography of ancient sources?
That's the point. We don't know who wrote the Gospels or the truth of them. We don't know if any of the Gospels were written by anyone with first, second, third or fourth hand knowledge. We don't know if the stories are the result of Paul making it all up and others rewriting his stories.
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Old 6th December 2017, 04:09 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
That's the point. We don't know who wrote the Gospels.
Sorry, what historiographical approach are you using that deals with "credibility" in this way? Or is this only a feeling you have, that the notion of "credibility" you present is historiographically meaningful?
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Old 6th December 2017, 04:13 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
From my perspective, we don't know the most important stuff about Paul with regard to the history of early Christianity. We don't know what sect he may have belonged to. We don't know what sect the people he was writing to belonged to. Was he writing to both Jewish and Gentile sects? He seems to claim that. Were they Hellenistic Jewish sects. We don't know much about the possible competitors to Paul. We don't know what Paul intended his message to be about Jesus.
Is it that dire though? Paul calls himself a Jew, a seed of Abraham and from the tribe of Benjamin. His 'gospel message' is clear: Jesus' death has relevance to the Gentiles. He was writing to churches in Christ outside Judea, made up of both Jews and Gentiles. He persecuted the early Christians (churches 'in Christ') in Judea, and then he converted after some kind of experience, to preach what the early Christians were preaching.

True, he doesn't spell out a lot of things, but again, if the letters were forgeries, why not spell them out?
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Old 6th December 2017, 05:02 PM   #84
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Sorry, what historiographical approach are you using that deals with "credibility" in this way? Or is this only a feeling you have, that the notion of "credibility" you present is historiographically meaningful?
I still don't get your point.

I've never been particularly interested in the historicity of Jesus as I find the question irrelevant. I do find the battle between groups over the narrative of the story interesting.

Nevertheless, what I do know is that the 4 canonical Gospels are anonymous. And that none were actually written until Paul was on the scene...So to speak.

I know that Matthew, Mark and Luke are so close in actual words, order of stories that either 1 was source material for the other 2 and I've read hypothesized that unknown documents (Q, M) were the source for all of these 3. John being the outlier. Regardless the source material of all these books is from oral tradition, a highly unreliable source for any historical accuracy.

So, you'll have to explain why it is not reasonable to compare the formation of more recent religions and posit the probability that ancient religions were likely created similarly.
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Old 6th December 2017, 05:14 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
So, you'll have to explain why it is not reasonable to compare the formation of more recent religions and posit the probability that ancient religions were likely created similarly.
Context
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Old 6th December 2017, 05:21 PM   #86
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Context
That's your answer?

Well, I'm sure you will understand why I find it unsatisfactory.
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Old 6th December 2017, 06:02 PM   #87
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
That's your answer?

Well, I'm sure you will understand why I find it unsatisfactory.
There's just too much. Our concept of "religion" did not even exist back then.

You don't do history through argument by analogy.
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Old 6th December 2017, 06:34 PM   #88
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
There's just too much. Our concept of "religion" did not even exist back then.
I grant you this. Religion was different. Just as it was different before and after Constantine.

Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
You don't do history through argument by analogy.
Why not? You don't think people were motivated by similar things such as greed, notoriety or power? Actual believers of the canonical stories are probably the worst sources as they feel a need to defend their teachings.
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Old 6th December 2017, 06:49 PM   #89
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
Why not? You don't think people were motivated by similar things such as greed, notoriety or power? Actual believers of the canonical stories are probably the worst sources as they feel a need to defend their teachings.
Are you serious? What you're suggesting is called "presentism". It's a cardinal sin of historiography.
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Old 6th December 2017, 07:20 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Are you serious? What you're suggesting is called "presentism". It's a cardinal sin of historiography.
No, it's not presentism. You could also say that Rome and the Roman Catholic Church has been engaged in presentism from day one. They chose and even edited the writings from centuries before. They chose what was canonical and what wasn't.

Also, I'm not declaring my theory as fact, just a possible idea.
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Old 6th December 2017, 07:25 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Sorry, what historiographical approach are you using that deals with "credibility" in this way? Or is this only a feeling you have, that the notion of "credibility" you present is historiographically meaningful?
A bit earlier you claimed to have read much of Ehrman and then you ask a question like that? I suggest you re-read much of Ehrman; you would also be well-served to read Metzger who was one of Ehrman's primary mentors.
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Old 6th December 2017, 07:28 PM   #92
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
No, it's not presentism. You could also say that Rome and the Roman Catholic Church has been engaged in presentism from day one. They chose and even edited the writings from centuries before. They chose what was canonical and what wasn't.
That sort of jiggery-pokery was going on well before there was anything we would consider an organized church.
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Old 6th December 2017, 07:36 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by Peregrinus View Post
A bit earlier you claimed to have read much of Ehrman and then you ask a question like that? I suggest you re-read much of Ehrman; you would also be well-served to read Metzger who was one of Ehrman's primary mentors.
Ehrman explains historiography in incredibly basic terms for the benefit of laymen with no exposure to academia (which frankly makes much of his non-scholarly work a bit tedious to read and Early Christianity scholars have their own peculiar lingo at times. It's possible they use this terminology at times. But saying that an anonymous author makes the work "not credible" is nonsense if you don't go out of your way to explain precisely what you mean by "credibility". A fair number of ancient sources are anonymous or pseudepigraphic. Many ancient authors are only known from what they wrote, and most of the time we just have to rely on the text and context. Certain authors who wrote very vast corpuses can sometimes be understood inbterms of reliability, but this is a rare luxury indeed.
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Old 6th December 2017, 07:38 PM   #94
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
No, it's not presentism. You could also say that Rome and the Roman Catholic Church has been engaged in presentism from day one. They chose and even edited the writings from centuries before. They chose what was canonical and what wasn't.

Also, I'm not declaring my theory as fact, just a possible idea.
You can't "engage in presentism from day one". That's a contradiction in terms. Presentism is something like having your 21st century anti-Catholic bias colour your understanding of the gospels.
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Old 6th December 2017, 08:06 PM   #95
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
You can't "engage in presentism from day one". That's a contradiction in terms. Presentism is something like having your 21st century anti-Catholic bias colour your understanding of the gospels.

No, Day one would be from Constantine and Eusebius forward. This was 300 years after Christ. This is 4th century citizens of Rome coloring the history of 1st century Palestine.
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Old 6th December 2017, 08:20 PM   #96
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Originally Posted by Peregrinus View Post
That sort of jiggery-pokery was going on well before there was anything we would consider an organized church.
There was no organized Christian church until the 4th and 5th century.. One only needs to read the variety of non-canonical gospels and read about Marcion and the dimurge to understand that. Before it became the state religion of Rome Christian beliefs varied greatly. Many Christian churches didn't believe Jesus was flesh and blood. Some were polytheistic...ie Marcion.
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Old 6th December 2017, 08:29 PM   #97
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
No, Day one would be from Constantine and Eusebius forward. This was 300 years after Christ. This is 4th century citizens of Rome coloring the history of 1st century Palestine.
Almost all of the history of 1st century Palestine we know comes from Josephus. The Gospels don't really deal much with that.
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Old 6th December 2017, 08:55 PM   #98
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Almost all of the history of 1st century Palestine we know comes from Josephus. The Gospels don't really deal much with that.
The real question in my mind is how accurate could Josephus have been when Jesus was executed when Josephus was a toddler and wrote the Testimonium Flavianum about 50 years later? Also, it is is believed to be Christian interpolation by many scholars.

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The earliest secure reference to this passage is found in the writings of the fourth-century Christian apologist and historian Eusebius, who used Josephus' works extensively as a source for his own Historia Ecclesiastica. Writing no later than 324,[53] Eusebius quotes the passage[54] in essentially the same form as that preserved in extant manuscripts. It has therefore been suggested that part or all of the passage may have been Eusebius' own invention, in order to provide an outside Jewish authority for the life of Christ.[55][56] Some argue that the wording in the Testimonium differs from Josephus' usual writing style and that as a Jew, he would not have used a word like χριστὸς (at Josephus' time being the Greek term for "Messiah"). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus
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Old 6th December 2017, 09:06 PM   #99
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
The real question in my mind is how accurate could Josephus have been when Jesus was executed when Josephus was a toddler and wrote the Testimonium Flavianum about 50 years later? Also, it is is believed to be Christian interpolation by many scholars.
The majority position among scholars is that the TF is an altered original passage. Supporting evidence for this is the later reference to James, the brother of Jesus, and the fact that some of the suspicious bits read a lot like incorporated margin notes (e.g. "if he can even be called a man" or however it goes).

Anyway Josephus is not the most important source on Jesus, although he is the only source for a lot of figures he mentions.

And, lest you have forgotten, a source written within a generation after the events is extraordinarily good as far as historical attestations go.
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Old 6th December 2017, 10:36 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
And, lest you have forgotten, a source written within a generation after the events is extraordinarily good as far as historical attestations go.
I'd like to come back to what you wrote to me earlier but this seems to be worth commenting on.

OK. So this is "is extraordinarily good as far as historical attestations go". Does that mean it's actually good or reliable in any sort of absolute sense?
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Old 6th December 2017, 10:53 PM   #101
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
I'd like to come back to what you wrote to me earlier but this seems to be worth commenting on.

OK. So this is "is extraordinarily good as far as historical attestations go". Does that mean it's actually good or reliable in any sort of absolute sense?
Please check out this thread and specifically this page (written by our very own and rather impeccable, Nick Terry) to find out the answer.

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...ghlight=vridar
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Old 6th December 2017, 11:45 PM   #102
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
I'd like to come back to what you wrote to me earlier but this seems to be worth commenting on.

OK. So this is "is extraordinarily good as far as historical attestations go". Does that mean it's actually good or reliable in any sort of absolute sense?
So let me try to give you a sense of it. Take Alexander the Great. Hard to think of a more famous and impactful figure, eh? Surely there must be scores of contemporary attestations! OK, here's an exhaustive list of contemporary attestations of Alexander:

1. An inscription containing a decree of Alexander's settling an obscure Thracian land dispute.

2. A fragmented Babylonian clay tablet, containing the phrase "Alexander and his troops".

3. BCHP 2, which is a Babylonian tablet that... well, just judge for yourself.

... That's it. That's literally it. So where does our knowledge of Alexander actually come from?

It comes from...

1. Diodorus Siculus, writing 300 years after Alexander's death.
2. Arrian, writing 500 years after Alexander's death.
3. Plutarch, also writing 500 years after Alexander's death.
4. Curtius, writing 400-500 years after Alexander's death.
5. "Justin", writing 400 - 700 [sic] years after Alexander's death. We have no idea who the guy was, his name just appears on a work.

These accounts, needless to say, all have their hosts of issues,and the better they are, the less they say. As a result, we are less certain of much of Alexander's life (what the relationship of Macedonia was with the Achaemenid Empire, if the famous battles really played out as said, etc). But, obviously, the broad strokes of his deeds speak for themselves.

So... yeah. I hope this gives some perspective of how amazing it is to have so many semi-independent sources written within a few decades of the death of a semi-obscure 1st century Jew from a Gallilean backwater.

On your question of how reliable in an absolute sense they are... Well, one unexpected advantage is that it is easy to anticipate and establish the biases of the authors. Even if we don't know exactly who they were, we know that they were devout followers of Jesus, writing for followers or potential converts, and they are rather ham-fisted about the narratives they push (e.g. Matthew's obsession with incredibly far-fetched 'fulfillment of prophecy', which is actually an old Jewish exegetical tradition). This is in a sense better than having to work with a biographer with his own personal views navigating a complex political landscape, appealing to patrons, et cetera.

But, ultimately, your question is hard to answer. Historians often take a bit of an easy way out in saying that history is about working with what we can establish and infer using the sources we have, not about "finding the truth about the past". Of course, there are cases where we are able to more or less definitely confirm something, e.g. through archaeology or discovery of much better sources. In this way, historians have certainly been able to refine the methods used to evaluate ancient sources. And I think that's about as good as it can get - using the standard approaches that have yielded the knowledge you'll find in your average textbook on ancient history, it is reasonably certain that Jesus existed. The implications of this, and the conclusions one reaches when working with the sources, generally conform with what we expect from experience working with other "personality cult" movmeents in antiquity and how various literary traditions functioned. There is not really any way to work with the available evidence and conclude that he did not exist, except to start from that conclusion and work to systematically explain away every available piece of evidence, and it is hard to see what the nonexistence of Jesus would explain; why one would find this conclusion, so to speak, 'desireable'.

It's always possible that there was an incredibly elaborate conspiracy to start a chain of events that would, to historians 2000 years later, look exactly like compelling evidence for the existence of an original charismatic leader of an initially small religious movement and not like cults surrounding certainly mythical characters (e.g. Hercules), but certainly nothing to suggest it.
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Old 7th December 2017, 12:07 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
[...]

I don't think any apocryphal gospel is remotely as close in time as the original four, but certainly some of them might contain true attributions. [...]

[...]
Ha! Which original four?

Say good-bye to your credibility.
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Old 7th December 2017, 12:14 AM   #104
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
A couple examples please?
Bump.
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Old 7th December 2017, 12:14 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
Ha! Which original four? John, Paul, George, and Pete Best Ringo?

Say good-bye to your credibility.
As noted a few posts down, that should be "canonical" four.

But yes, this is about the level of discourse, banal gotcha:ism, that I'd expect from mythicists.
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Old 7th December 2017, 12:15 AM   #106
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Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
Bump.
Multiple have been given.
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Old 7th December 2017, 12:35 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Are you serious? What you're suggesting is called "presentism". It's a cardinal sin of historiography.
Argumentum ad dogmatism?

Go ahead and cite me for talking back.
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Old 7th December 2017, 12:38 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Multiple have been given.
Then you should have no problem providing one.
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Old 7th December 2017, 12:47 AM   #109
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Originally Posted by Rougarou View Post
I don't know if Paul communicated with anyone who actually knew Jesus.
We can't know if he did. We are told that he communicated with "Peter", and with "James the Lord's brother", who resided in Jerusalem. These are the same names as those of an Apostle and a brother of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels, so we have to decide if they were the same people.

Most commentators assume that they are, and I am inclined to accept this as true; but can we "know" this in the sense of proving it? Certainly not.
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Old 7th December 2017, 01:16 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
Then you should have no problem providing one.
Seriously? You obviously read the thread, so this is nothing but abject dishonesty, much like your earlier reply on a misstatement I had already corrected a few posts down.

Here:
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...4&postcount=64
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Old 7th December 2017, 01:17 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
Argumentum ad dogmatism?

Go ahead and cite me for talking back.
Argumentum ad you're doing the historical equivalent of proving the Earth is flat by placing a ruler on the ground.
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Old 7th December 2017, 03:45 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
We can't know if he did. We are told that he communicated with "Peter", and with "James the Lord's brother", who resided in Jerusalem. These are the same names as those of an Apostle and a brother of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels, so we have to decide if they were the same people.

Most commentators assume that they are, and I am inclined to accept this as true; but can we "know" this in the sense of proving it? Certainly not.
Richard Carrier argues that it was a different Jesus and James Josephus is writing about.
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Old 7th December 2017, 03:58 AM   #113
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Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
Ha! Which original four?

Say good-bye to your credibility.
Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
As noted a few posts down, that should be "canonical" four.

But yes, this is about the level of discourse, banal gotcha:ism, that I'd expect from mythicists.
It's really a reasonable question. There are 3 dozen Gospels and 3 of which that were somewhat modified copies of the first or some other unknown document or document and your argument is that this means that those 4 are the most credible. Is it a surprise that believers of the religion are fully accepting of what is canonical and totally dismissive of what is not? I don't find it surprising. Now I'm not arguing for a mythicist position, or for non-canonical writings just that decisions on what was true was led by bias then and bias now.
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Old 7th December 2017, 04:35 AM   #114
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Off-hand the only apocryphal gospel I know to be close in time to the canon (excluding the Apocalypse and non-Pauline epistles) is the Gospel of Thomas. We see development of the proto-canon quite early. So yes, unless you have some evidence you're sitting on, I would take the synoptics as the "most credible", less so John.

Regardless I'm not sure it really matters. The evidence we have is far, far beyond sufficient. In fact, the existence of apocrypha presenting different traditions in the early 2nd century only makes it more likely, not less, that Jesus existed
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Old 7th December 2017, 04:40 AM   #115
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
Richard Carrier argues that it was a different Jesus and James Josephus is writing about.
Richard Carrier has a very fanciful imagination, and somehow fails to apply the hyperskepticism he directs at the conventional.views to his rather fantastical assertions, or sometimes outright inventions.
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Old 7th December 2017, 04:51 AM   #116
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Off-hand the only apocryphal gospel I know to be close in time to the canon (excluding the Apocalypse and non-Pauline epistles) is the Gospel of Thomas. We see development of the proto-canon quite early. So yes, unless you have some evidence you're sitting on, I would take the synoptics as the "most credible", less so John.

Regardless I'm not sure it really matters. The evidence we have is far, far beyond sufficient. In fact, the existence of apocrypha presenting different traditions in the early 2nd century only makes it more likely, not less, that Jesus existed
Spoken like a true believer. Nobody can accuse you of not drinking the kool-aid.
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Old 7th December 2017, 05:06 AM   #117
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
Spoken like a true believer. Nobody can accuse you of not drinking the kool-aid.
Physician, heal thyself.
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Old 7th December 2017, 05:06 AM   #118
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
Richard Carrier argues that it was a different Jesus and James Josephus is writing about.
I haven't raised that question. I propose that the James and Peter Paul encountered in Jerusalem are the same James and Peter mentioned in the Gospels as respectively a brother and a disciple of Jesus.

Of Josephus references to Jesus and James, I reject the So called TF as entirely interpolated, and accept the other one as probably authentic. My grounds are that the later commentator Origen notices the second, but not the first.

Previously I was prepared to accept that a different Jesus was involved, as a Jesus son of Damneus is mentioned in the Josephus text; but now I think it more probable that the reference is to the Nazarene, and that it constitutes a notice of James independent of Paul. That inclination of mine is tentative and not held with absolute tenacity.
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Old 7th December 2017, 06:49 AM   #119
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Physician, heal thyself.
Do you think laying on hands will work?
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Old 7th December 2017, 07:02 AM   #120
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
I haven't raised that question. I propose that the James and Peter Paul encountered in Jerusalem are the same James and Peter mentioned in the Gospels as respectively a brother and a disciple of Jesus.

Of Josephus references to Jesus and James, I reject the So called TF as entirely interpolated, and accept the other one as probably authentic. My grounds are that the later commentator Origen notices the second, but not the first.

Previously I was prepared to accept that a different Jesus was involved, as a Jesus son of Damneus is mentioned in the Josephus text; but now I think it more probable that the reference is to the Nazarene, and that it constitutes a notice of James independent of Paul. That inclination of mine is tentative and not held with absolute tenacity.
My position is I don't know. I believe it is much more likely that Josephus is repeating stories that he has heard as actual history. Its not like there was a daily newspaper in Jerusalem that was published where as an historian he could go back through old archives. Just imagine the absurdity of trying to write about events that happened 60 years earlier without a written record.
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