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Old 9th December 2017, 05:02 PM   #201
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
Richard Carrier on Q: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12352

He is a little snarkier than usual in this post which, perhaps, undermines his credibility a bit. It still seems his point is valid. 1. No evidence of a Q document has ever been found. 2. There is no reason for the Q hypothesis since normal copying and restructuring was clearly done by the Luke and Matthew authors without a Q document so why did they need a Q document to do some of their rewriting, copying and creative writing? 3. The hypothesized Q document contains much more than just sayings and if you're going to hypothesize that it existed why not throw Mark into it as well? And at that point you can hypothesize just about anything and without evidence just about anything is possible.

ETA:
Mark Goodacre wrote a book arguing that Q didn't exist. This is a summary of ten reasons he put forth for that:
http://markgoodacre.org/Q/ten.htm
I haven't looked at your link yet, but I will say either Q existed in some form or Matthew just copied Luke (or vice versa). Q is just a hypothesis for where that shared material came from that wasn't in Mark.
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Old 9th December 2017, 06:29 PM   #202
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
...
Originally Posted by Brainache
He introduced the Christ concept to the non-Jewish Greco-Roman world.
I understand that..But so what? I mean you wouldn't mix me up wth Harry Potter or JK Rowlings if I wrote an afterword to the Half Blood Prince would you?
The thing with "the Christ concept" is that it is central to the Christian belief system. The idea of Jesus as "The Redeemer" the sacrificial "Lamb of God" who died to free the world of sin originated with Paul, not Jesus. Before Paul came along spouting about the mystical "Christ Jesus" the other guys like James were all about a stricter observance of the Mosaic Law. They were following "The Way" which was about living by "God's Law" and not straying at all - "Not one jot or tittle". The letter of James says: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend on one point, he is guilty of all." Whereas Paul says: "For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." James and his gang who were in it before Paul are pro "works" of the Law, Paul is against them.

The Church that we all know grew from Paul's ideas, not the strict Jewishness of Jesus and James. The concept of Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for all the world which Paul invented makes no sense to me, but this is religion, not logic, so people believe Paul's mystical mumbo-jumbo because it apparently satisfies them in some way other than logically.
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Old 9th December 2017, 07:01 PM   #203
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As to the OP, where is actual proof that any of them actually existed. Like the Nazi's, the Romans kept good records........yet.............(if you get my drift)!!
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Old 9th December 2017, 07:35 PM   #204
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
The thing with "the Christ concept" is that it is central to the Christian belief system. The idea of Jesus as "The Redeemer" the sacrificial "Lamb of God" who died to free the world of sin originated with Paul, not Jesus. Before Paul came along spouting about the mystical "Christ Jesus" the other guys like James were all about a stricter observance of the Mosaic Law. They were following "The Way" which was about living by "God's Law" and not straying at all - "Not one jot or tittle". The letter of James says: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend on one point, he is guilty of all." Whereas Paul says: "For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." James and his gang who were in it before Paul are pro "works" of the Law, Paul is against them.

The Church that we all know grew from Paul's ideas, not the strict Jewishness of Jesus and James. The concept of Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for all the world which Paul invented makes no sense to me, but this is religion, not logic, so people believe Paul's mystical mumbo-jumbo because it apparently satisfies them in some way other than logically.
There is so much I don't remember from the Bible. But even when I was a Christian I didn't understand the logic of elevating Paul's words as basically God's words, essentially equal to Jesus. In fact, I don't think I ever bought into the idea that the Bible as a whole was God's words. That always seemed ridiculous to me.

But you just touched kind of one of the core reasons I left the church. Jesus said he didn't come to change the law, but to fulfill it. And not to change a jot or a tittle of it. But Christians ignore the law en masse. Every explanation I ever heard regarding this point sounded like BS and a rationalization to me. Not that I think most of those laws were rational, but still, if God tells you to do something I thought we are supposed to obey and Paul doesn't have the right to change them. The contradiction was too damn big.

The one thing I think Christians do in masse is rationalize. It doesn't have to make sense because it is God. There is an excuse for every immoral and dumb thing God does. 'We can't fathom the mind of God. Its God's nature. He works in mysterious ways. He's God, he has the right to do what he wants.' (Might makes right.)

It ends up making God look stupid. God is all powerful, but he's a damn moron? If God wanted to forgive man, why didn't he just do it? Because the wages for sin is death? And who decided that?

But the Bible is supposed to be the 'Good Book' and morals come from God. Then why is God such a jerk? No parent would ever want their children to emulate the values displayed by God. He's petty, jealous, cruel, sexist, capricious and requires constant affirmation.

That's a God? Powerful enough to create the entire universe and every living thing and he's obsessed with a single specie on a single planet and cares whether we believe and praise him? Get serious. When you break the story down it's really really stupid.

Sorry, I sort of spun off on a rant.
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Old 9th December 2017, 07:44 PM   #205
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
ETA:
Mark Goodacre wrote a book arguing that Q didn't exist. This is a summary of ten reasons he put forth for that:
http://markgoodacre.org/Q/ten.htm
" for no-one thinks that Q has a Passion Narrative"

I think Ehrman argued that it probably did on his blog, actually.

The existence or nonexistence of a single Q is definitely not a settled question though.
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Old 9th December 2017, 07:52 PM   #206
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
As to the OP, where is actual proof that any of them actually existed. Like the Nazi's, the Romans kept good records........yet.............(if you get my drift)!!
No I don't get your drift. It is impossible to imagine that more than a tiny fraction of records made by Romans have survived since that time. Apart from anything else, the main urban centres of that civilisation were destroyed around seventy CE, and only a few scraps of writing hidden away in caves survived past that period. The vast majority of works remaining from Roman times have been as copies made in the mediaeval period.
The oldest manuscripts of the works of Josephus in their original language of Greek date to the tenth and eleventh centuries.
That is typical, and how many writings didn't survive at all is impossible even to guess.
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Old 9th December 2017, 08:27 PM   #207
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
" for no-one thinks that Q has a Passion Narrative"

I think Ehrman argued that it probably did on his blog, actually.
I think he has a sort of standard view that it might exist although he doubts it will be found
Quote:

The existence or nonexistence of a single Q is definitely not a settled question though.
That is true, but I suspect that the scholarly consensus will move in the direction of a belief that there probably wasn't one.

I suspect that it wouldn't have even been dreamed up except that the scholars who thought up the idea preferred not to accept the simplest possible idea that the Matthew and Luke authors were just making stuff up. When there is little evidence to constrain speculation, a great many things might be possible. The simple answer with regard to the virgin birth stories is that a lot of gods had virgin birth stories associated with them and if you were at the fore front of creating stories to support your religion you're going to give the God you're writing about a virgin birth. And whoop de do (sp?) there's a sort of virgin birth story in the holy book that is already part of the religion you're writing copy for so you use it.

What's the point of Q to explain that? And why just Q? How about Q + M? and why stop there Maybe proto Mark + Q + M? or maybe proto Matthew and proto Luke? or whatever? There are an infinite number of possibilities because there is no particular evidence beyond the idea that somebody wanted to push a view that Matthew and Luke weren't just making stuff up. The hypothesis that there were earlier written sources for the Gospels is unfalsifiable and unverifiable unless an unknown source or mention of an unknown source is found. And given that it's been about 2000 years since the Gospels were written and there is no reliable evidence of any writings created between Paul's epistles and the writing of the Gospels having survived it seems unlikely that something is going to be found in the future. There have been many unexpected finds in those 2000 years regarding Christianity but they all post date the theorized creation date of Mark.
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Old 9th December 2017, 08:46 PM   #208
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
I think he has a sort of standard view that it might exist although he doubts it will be found

That is true, but I suspect that the scholarly consensus will move in the direction of a belief that there probably wasn't one.

I suspect that it wouldn't have even been dreamed up except that the scholars who thought up the idea preferred not to accept the simplest possible idea that the Matthew and Luke authors were just making stuff up. or so you use it.

What's the point of Q to explain that?
The reason why it has been dreamed up is evidence from analysis. M and L agree on some things and disagree on others. Where they agree they were either copying each other, or copying a previous source. One of their common sources corresponds to an extant work - Mark. Another common source is dominated by sayings of Jesus, and it is not irrational to suppose as a reasonable hypothesis that this once existed as an independent document, or as more than one such collection. Collections of sayings are common. The Gospel of Thomas is one. The Quran is another. The Q hypothesis is rational, and not simply arbitrary, given the nature of the agreements and divergences in the later synoptic texts.

When you say that M and L were "making stuff up", what do you mean? Sitting with blank sheets in front of them and letting their imagination loose? In that case they would have had no agreements. Coordinating their output? Then they would have had no disagreements.

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Old 9th December 2017, 08:47 PM   #209
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
...
I started a thread on the topic of Paul as a member of Herod's royal family, based on the ideas of Robert Eisenman. In that thread it is suggested that Paul was actively working against the early Jewish "Jesus Movement" which was mostly a political movement against Roman rule in Judea. Religion and Politics being indistinguishable for the people who eventually rebelled against Rome, Paul's gentile-friendly teachings can be seen as an attempt to subvert the more fundamentalist "not one jot or tittle" style of Jesus and James.

It's a long thread, but if you're interested... http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=267096
I missed this post the first time through the thread. It certainly is relevant but it seems like a giant rabbit hole and I have been in some sort of procrastination mode all day so I am going to resist a temptation to follow up on this for awhile. I did read through the first page and it seems pretty daunting as far as understanding the issues. Eisenman seems to pursue fairly speculative ideas for a scholar type of person.
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Old 9th December 2017, 08:49 PM   #210
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
I think he has a sort of standard view that it might exist although he doubts it will be found

That is true, but I suspect that the scholarly consensus will move in the direction of a belief that there probably wasn't one.

I suspect that it wouldn't have even been dreamed up except that the scholars who thought up the idea preferred not to accept the simplest possible idea that the Matthew and Luke authors were just making stuff up. When there is little evidence to constrain speculation, a great many things might be possible. The simple answer with regard to the virgin birth stories is that a lot of gods had virgin birth stories associated with them and if you were at the fore front of creating stories to support your religion you're going to give the God you're writing about a virgin birth. And whoop de do (sp?) there's a sort of virgin birth story in the holy book that is already part of the religion you're writing copy for so you use it.

What's the point of Q to explain that? And why just Q? How about Q + M? and why stop there Maybe proto Mark + Q + M? or maybe proto Matthew and proto Luke? or whatever? There are an infinite number of possibilities because there is no particular evidence beyond the idea that somebody wanted to push a view that Matthew and Luke weren't just making stuff up. The hypothesis that there were earlier written sources for the Gospels is unfalsifiable and unverifiable unless an unknown source or mention of an unknown source is found. And given that it's been about 2000 years since the Gospels were written and there is no reliable evidence of any writings created between Paul's epistles and the writing of the Gospels having survived it seems unlikely that something is going to be found in the future. There have been many unexpected finds in those 2000 years regarding Christianity but they all post date the theorized creation date of Mark.
This is spot on.
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Old 9th December 2017, 09:02 PM   #211
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
The reason why it has been dreamed up is evidence from analysis. M and L agree on some things and disagree on others. Where they agree they were either copying each other, or copying a previous source. One of their common sources corresponds to an extant work - Mark. Another common source is dominated by sayings of Jesus, and it is not irrational to suppose as a reasonable hypothesis that this once existed as an independent document, or as more than one such collection. Collections of sayings are common. The Gospel of Thomas is one. The Quran is another. The Q hypothesis is rational, and not simply arbitrary, given the nature of the agreements and divergences in the later synoptic texts.

When you say that M and L were "making stuff up", what do you mean? Sitting with blank sheets in front of them and letting their imagination loose? In that case they would have had no agreements. Coordinating their output? Then they would have had no disagreements.
They copied each other or one copied from the other and they made stuff up independently. No need for Q or any other hypothetical sources. If they wrote something that was known to be true but it is unlikely that they could have known about it without a source then there'd be a pretty good basis for speculating about a source. Obviously they both used Mark as a source and Luke is believed to have used Josephus. Again speculation, but based on tangible evidence. I don't see much point in speculating about sources that can't be shown to be necessary. Of course, they possibly existed but the simplest explanation for the facts in front of us is they didn't (IMO).

A note about IMO: I am in awe of the depth of knowledge of various historians that focus on the early Christian history. It is pretentious and naive of me to push my own opinions about this stuff given how much more real experts know. However, if I waited around until I had expert level knowledge I wouldn't have much to say. Mostly my opinions are how I understand the views of particular experts. If I have dreamed up a wild ass theory on my own I try to make it clear that I have done that.
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Old 9th December 2017, 09:27 PM   #212
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post

Sorry, I sort of spun off on a rant.
Nice rant. I liked it.

Here's Carrier in full on rant mode on the dating of Ignatius:
http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2...-vexation.html

I enjoyed it because it sort of paralleled my own non-scholarly efforts. I spent several years participating in these Jesus threads. For most of those years I argued for the existence of a historic Jesus. In order to find data to support my view, I would zealously chase down leads like some how I was going to find something of significance. And every lead would end in a maze of uncertainty. Altogether frustrating which is how I came to my current hyper skeptical view that almost nothing is knowable about early Christianity. Warrior Jesus, composite Jesus, non-existant Jesus, Jesus of a different time, who the frick knows?

Paul is a big clue, but without more info it's hard to figure much out from the clue. One of the ideas I wanted to explore in this thread is the possibility that the role of Paul is exaggerated. Who was he preaching to and what did they believe before he started preaching to them. He calls them Christians. How did they become Christians? Did post Gospel Christianity begin in Hellenized Jewish groups or in Gentile groups following some sort of Judaism based religion? Were the so called Christians that Paul claims to have met actually following some other religion that morphed into Christianity?
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Old 9th December 2017, 09:31 PM   #213
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
They copied each other or one copied from the other and they made stuff up independently. No need for Q or any other hypothetical sources. If they wrote something that was known to be true but it is unlikely that they could have known about it without a source then there'd be a pretty good basis for speculating about a source. Obviously they both used Mark as a source and Luke is believed to have used Josephus. Again speculation, but based on tangible evidence. I don't see much point in speculating about sources that can't be shown to be necessary. Of course, they possibly existed but the simplest explanation for the facts in front of us is they didn't (IMO).

A note about IMO: I am in awe of the depth of knowledge of various historians that focus on the early Christian history. It is pretentious and naive of me to push my own opinions about this stuff given how much more real experts know. However, if I waited around until I had expert level knowledge I wouldn't have much to say. Mostly my opinions are how I understand the views of particular experts. If I have dreamed up a wild ass theory on my own I try to make it clear that I have done that.
The big question I have is about Paul and what his motivation was. I have posited that he must be similar in some way to the all the other creators of other religions. Now, maybe that is unfair because of course it was different times. And maybe that's unfair and demonstrates my cynical nature.

The fact is Paul, like every preacher, is selling something. Maybe, he actually believes in his product, but if people aren't buying, Paul isn't eating. Something is motivating him. Is it really so wrong to suggest it might not have been eternal life, but something more worldly?
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Old 9th December 2017, 09:40 PM   #214
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
I spent several years participating in these Jesus threads. For most of those years I argued for the existence of a historic Jesus. In order to find data to support my view, I would zealously chase down leads like some how I was going to find something of significance. And every lead would end in a maze of uncertainty. Altogether frustrating which is how I came to my current hyper skeptical view that almost nothing is knowable about early Christianity. Warrior Jesus, composite Jesus, non-existant Jesus, Jesus of a different time, who the frick knows?
Almost as frustrating as it must be for historians to try to track down the source of Arthurian legends or the legends of Robin Hood. They end up suspecting, but without any certainty or proof, that these characters probably existed on some form, but were likely based on one or more earlier similar characters.
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Old 9th December 2017, 10:15 PM   #215
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
Nice rant. I liked it.

Here's Carrier in full on rant mode on the dating of Ignatius:
http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2...-vexation.html

I enjoyed it because it sort of paralleled my own non-scholarly efforts. I spent several years participating in these Jesus threads. For most of those years I argued for the existence of a historic Jesus. In order to find data to support my view, I would zealously chase down leads like some how I was going to find something of significance. And every lead would end in a maze of uncertainty. Altogether frustrating which is how I came to my current hyper skeptical view that almost nothing is knowable about early Christianity. Warrior Jesus, composite Jesus, non-existant Jesus, Jesus of a different time, who the frick knows?

Paul is a big clue, but without more info it's hard to figure much out from the clue. One of the ideas I wanted to explore in this thread is the possibility that the role of Paul is exaggerated. Who was he preaching to and what did they believe before he started preaching to them. He calls them Christians. How did they become Christians? Did post Gospel Christianity begin in Hellenized Jewish groups or in Gentile groups following some sort of Judaism based religion? Were the so called Christians that Paul claims to have met actually following some other religion that morphed into Christianity?

I tend to agree with you about Paul. I also think Paul has the easy job. He's preaching to the gentiles who are much more open and civilized compared to the Jews. Rome and Greece and Egypt were polytheistic up until that time and was inclusive of pretty much everyone's God. They had so many that they weren't policing theistic expression.

I know it is said that Paul was executed for his Christian beliefs. I don't know if that was true. But what if he was executed but not for exactly that reason. Maybe, he was considered a con artist or maybe the religious/political beliefs were simply another form of fomenting political unrest? That it wasn't Rome being intolerant of Christian's religious beliefs, but Christians being intolerant of Roman's?
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Old 10th December 2017, 12:20 AM   #216
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
I missed this post the first time through the thread. It certainly is relevant but it seems like a giant rabbit hole and I have been in some sort of procrastination mode all day so I am going to resist a temptation to follow up on this for awhile. I did read through the first page and it seems pretty daunting as far as understanding the issues. Eisenman seems to pursue fairly speculative ideas for a scholar type of person.
It is indeed a deep and scary rabbit hole. I urge you to keep with it, maybe skim some parts... The basic gist is that Paul was acting as an agent of the Herods trying to derail the fundamentalist/revolutionary Jesus movement.
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Old 10th December 2017, 02:46 AM   #217
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
I know it is said that Paul was executed for his Christian beliefs. I don't know if that was true. But what if he was executed but not for exactly that reason. Maybe, he was considered a con artist or maybe the religious/political beliefs were simply another form of fomenting political unrest? That it wasn't Rome being intolerant of Christian's religious beliefs, but Christians being intolerant of Roman's?
There is no good evidence for anything connected with Paul's death. For what it's worth, Acts 28 tells us that in Rome
30 ... Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
Of course one can simply ignore what little we have as evidence, and instead spout complete "what if?" speculations. But unless these are rooted in some source of information, one phantasm is as good as another, i.e. they're all completely valueless. For all we know to the contrary Paul might have died of malaria, or had a heart attack.
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Old 10th December 2017, 03:39 AM   #218
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
...

... Who was he preaching to and what did they believe before he started preaching to them. He calls them Christians.

...
Uh, no. He doesn't use the word, Christians. He uses various expressions to describe believers in Jesus Christ.
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Old 10th December 2017, 07:17 AM   #219
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
There is no good evidence for anything connected with Paul's death. For what it's worth, Acts 28 tells us that in Rome
30 ... Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
Of course one can simply ignore what little we have as evidence, and instead spout complete "what if?" speculations. But unless these are rooted in some source of information, one phantasm is as good as another, i.e. they're all completely valueless. For all we know to the contrary Paul might have died of malaria, or had a heart attack.
I'm pretty sure Eusebius wrote that Paul was beheaded and Peter crucified in Rome. And the Catholic Church says their tombs are under the Vatican
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Old 10th December 2017, 08:55 AM   #220
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
I'm pretty sure Eusebius wrote that Paul was beheaded and Peter crucified in Rome. And the Catholic Church says their tombs are under the Vatican
Eusebius is of value because he had access to materials since lost, but his trustworthiness has always been challenged, and no wonder, given some statements from his own pen.
Edward Gibbon openly distrusted the writings of Eusebius concerning the number of martyrs, by noting a passage in the shorter text of the Martyrs of Palestine attached to the Ecclesiastical History (Book 8, Chapter 2) in which Eusebius introduces his description of the martyrs of the Great Persecution under Diocletian with: "Wherefore we have decided to relate nothing concerning them except the things in which we can vindicate the Divine judgment. [...] We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity."
Some fragments of bone were found in 2002 in a fourth century sarcophagus under the Vatican
In June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced excavation results concerning the tomb. The sarcophagus was not opened but was examined by means of a probe, which revealed pieces of incense, purple and blue linen, and small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon-dated to the 1st or 2nd century. According to the Vatican, these findings support the conclusion that the tomb is Paul's.
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Old 10th December 2017, 09:08 AM   #221
acbytesla
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Eusebius is of value because he had access to materials since lost, but his trustworthiness has always been challenged, and no wonder, given some statements from his own pen.
Edward Gibbon openly distrusted the writings of Eusebius concerning the number of martyrs, by noting a passage in the shorter text of the Martyrs of Palestine attached to the Ecclesiastical History (Book 8, Chapter 2) in which Eusebius introduces his description of the martyrs of the Great Persecution under Diocletian with: "Wherefore we have decided to relate nothing concerning them except the things in which we can vindicate the Divine judgment. [...] We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity."
Some fragments of bone were found in 2002 in a fourth century sarcophagus under the Vatican
In June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced excavation results concerning the tomb. The sarcophagus was not opened but was examined by means of a probe, which revealed pieces of incense, purple and blue linen, and small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon-dated to the 1st or 2nd century. According to the Vatican, these findings support the conclusion that the tomb is Paul's.
Thanks for the info.
Seems incredibly absurd the idea that just because they found a tomb which contain bone fragments and colored cloth from the first or second century that they can draw a line to Paul.
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Old 10th December 2017, 11:50 AM   #222
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Originally Posted by davefoc View Post
I thought there would have been more of a consensus here on the basic facts of Jesus historicity and early Christian history. I expected the thread to focus more on Paul and various scenarios of the role he played if any on the formation of Christianity.

I have disagreed with quite a bit of what has been said so far and without responding to anybody in particular I would like to express what I think the situation is.

A There are roughly 4 overlapping groups with regard to Jesus historicity and early Christianity history.
1. Religious historians with a mostly religious view of Jesus and Christian history
2. Religious historians who attempt to review the available data with an eye to getting it to confirm their overall views of Christian history but still attempting a degree of secular objectivity
3. Secular historians that believe it is likely to certain that Jesus existed
4. Secular historians that believe the available evidence suggests it is likely that a flesh and blood Jesus didn't exist.


The religious historians pretty much promote what is the standard religious view of Jesus and the origins of Christianity. They spend a lot of time trying to tease facts out of the New Testament to provide more insight into the life of Jesus.

The religious historians that attempt a secular view of early Christian history. These people find proof of Jesus in many different sources that are pretty much rejected by more secular historians. They make claims of archeological support for Jesus and claims that second century historians who mention Christians provide proof that Jesus existed. They may have a somewhat more secular view of the Gospels than the fully religious historians but they still see the Gospels as providing significant proof of Jesus.

B. The mythicists and the non-mythicist historians agree on a great deal. They reject the idea that the various second century writers advance the case of an historical Jesus. They both advance a very skeptical view of the Gospels. The standard view is that they weren't written by the authors ascribed to them and the authorship is unknown. They fully accept that the Gospels contradict each other, that they contain geographical errors that places their authorship outside of the Jerusalem area, that they contain historical errors introduced intentionally because the authors new they were writing fiction, and it is not known when and where they were written. Usually they agree that Mark was the first Gospel written and the other Gospels accounts of the key accounts of Christian belief were based on Mark so at the most there is one independent witness to events contained in the Gospel, however most would not see Mark as a source of reliable history either.

The issue of the historicity of Jesus is obviously the main issue that divides the groups 3 & 4. But that is not as important a distinction as it might seem. Neither groups believes in the supernatural nature of Jesus or that Jesus was a significant first century religious leader that founded Christianity in any important way. Nothing reliable is left of what Jesus's message might have been or how much of that message was incorporated into the future religion of Christianity. It is not clear that Christianity didn't die out entirely at some point only to be revived by the groups that wrote the Gospels. Jesus did not influence in any clear cut way what became the message that he was credited with in the Gospels.

As to the interpretation of the evidence that separates the mythicists and the historicists:

Josephus
Most mythicists (maybe all) believe the Testimonium Flavium is a pure interpolation and the reference to James the brother of Jesus was not what was originally written and the Jesus referred to is Jesus bar Damneus a character already introduced by Josephus. The historicists may continue to believe that Josephus may contain a reference to the Jesus of Christianity. I think the evidence is against the historicists here.

Paul
Some mythicists, maybe most believe that Paul probably existed. Carrier and Doherty believe that Paul did not intend to reference a real human Jesus. Obviously historicists do. I don't know. I think even if Paul existed and he intended to reference a real human Jesus it is still possible that a real human Jesus didn't exist.

C. Regardless, I would respectively suggest that any secular historian tha doesn't acknowledge the tenuous nature of the evidence for an historic Jesus is not objectively characterizing the evidence of an historic Jesus.


If I recall correctly you and I have mostly agreed about the Historicity of Jesus in the various previous threads here (threads where all of this was discussed in vast detail). But just as comment on the three highlighted paragraphs above -


A. Bart Ehrman and the other HJ writers who have been quoted so often as pro-HJ authorities in these threads, are not historians. They would like people to think they are typical academic “historians” (because it lends them greater credibility), and Ehrman has often described himself as a “historian”. But they are not historians in the normal sense of that term meaning neutral un-biased academics teaching and researching in university mainstream history dept's. They are instead NT Bible Studies Scholars.

The difference is important, and it is this – they are rarely if ever teaching in mainstream university history dept's, and they did not come into their profession as neutral unbiased observers with an interest in the wider area of historical studies in general. Instead they are invariably teaching in dept's specifically devoted to biblical and religious studies, and they “all” (i.e. virtually literally “all” of them) came into that profession as devout Christians already convinced of the existence of God, Jesus and the truth of the miracles in the words of the holy bible.

That is very different indeed from any other type of university academic (inc. actual historians), who enter their profession as a university lecturer from an unbiased objective post-doctoral research background and without any preconceived basis of faith belief in miracles, the supernatural, and holy books that have been given to us by God to guide us in this earthly life and onwards to everlasting happiness in heaven.

All of which we already discussed to death in the previous HJ threads, where I listed many times the academic & professional background qualifications of people like Bart Ehrman, Bruce Metzger, Dominic Crossan and all the other well known HJ writers, showing beyond any doubt that all of them (literally ALL of them), entered this profession as extremely devout evangelizing Christians with absolute belief in God, Jesus, the bible and the miracles etc.


B. There is a missing Elephant-in-the-Room here (two in fact). Namely (and firstly) - the main reason why mythicists and mythicist-authors such as Carrier, Wells, Doherty etc. ought to reject the gospels as any kind of credible writing about Jesus is not merely because of their anonymous late (centuries later) authorship, but because of the far more obvious & crucial fact that virtually every significant mention of Jesus is either the description of an impossible miracle, or else a scenario that leads up to an impossible miracle. On which point it's essential to keep in mind that until as recently as about 150 years ago almost everyone did believe that miracles actually happened (especially the biblical miracles), and it's only since the advance of science over that that last century or two that educated people have now realised that miracle stories such as those in the bible cannot ever have been true.

However, there is a second point here which is almost as damning. Namely that authors like Randel Helms (who is a perfectly credible secular university academic author - see Randel Helms "Gospel Fictions") have shown how many of the gospel stories of Jesus are actually adaptions taken from various messiah prophesies in the Old Testament. IOW – Helms and others have shown how the gospel writers were using material written in the OT from 500 BC, to create new testament stories about Jesus in the 1st century AD.


C. Bart Ehrman, who has already been mentioned in this thread (and who is by far the best known Christian academic “expert” on the Historicity of Jesus) has written numerous books in which he openly acknowledges how scant and tenuous the evidence is for Jesus. But that did not prevent him writing a 2013 book (“Did Jesus Exist”) in which he repeatedly said that the existence of jesus is/was a certainty! … and that is a book in which he was specifically claiming to produce all the evidence that made the existence so “absolutely certain” … but as I and others have pointed out in great detail in all the previous HJ threads - if you read that book then you find that he gives only two pieces of evidence for the existence of Jesus … the first item of evidence is something that he described to an audience at the book launch as “too complex to explain here”, and which iirc was concerned with the use of certain Aramaic expressions rather than Greek expressions in some of the earliest remaining copies of fragmented gospels, and the second and far more substantive and less opaque point was just to very lamely claim that he believed the author known as “Paul” where in one of the letters Paul said “other apostles saw I none, save James, the Lords brother”, which Ehrman simply takes to be literally true at face value saying “You would think James would know that his own brother was real!” … it should go without further explanation what an absurd and incredibly weak claim of evidence that is (we did of course discuss that to death in all the other threads).

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Old 10th December 2017, 12:46 PM   #223
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
If I recall correctly you and I have mostly agreed about the Historicity of Jesus in the various previous threads here (threads where all of this was discussed in vast detail). But just as comment on the three highlighted paragraphs above -


A. Bart Ehrman and the other HJ writers who have been quoted so often as pro-HJ authorities in these threads, are not historians. They would like people to think they are typical academic “historians” (because it lends them greater credibility), and Ehrman has often described himself as a “historian”. But they are not historians in the normal sense of that term meaning neutral un-biased academics teaching and researching in university mainstream history dept's. They are instead NT Bible Studies Scholars.

The difference is important, and it is this – they are rarely if ever teaching in mainstream university history dept's, and they did not come into their profession as neutral unbiased observers with an interest in the wider area of historical studies in general. Instead they are invariably teaching in dept's specifically devoted to biblical and religious studies, and they “all” (i.e. virtually literally “all” of them) came into that profession as devout Christians already convinced of the existence of God, Jesus and the truth of the miracles in the words of the holy bible.

That is very different indeed from any other type of university academic (inc. actual historians), who enter their profession as a university lecturer from an unbiased objective post-doctoral research background and without any preconceived basis of faith belief in miracles, the supernatural, and holy books that have been given to us by God to guide us in this earthly life and onwards to everlasting happiness in heaven.

All of which we already discussed to death in the previous HJ threads, where I listed many times the academic & professional background qualifications of people like Bart Ehrman, Bruce Metzger, Dominic Crossan and all the other well known HJ writers, showing beyond any doubt that all of them (literally ALL of them), entered this profession as extremely devout evangelizing Christians with absolute belief in God, Jesus, the bible and the miracles etc.


B. There is a missing Elephant-in-the-Room here (two in fact). Namely (and firstly) - the main reason why mythicists and mythicist-authors such as Carrier, Wells, Doherty etc. ought to reject the gospels as any kind of credible writing about Jesus is not merely because of their anonymous late (centuries later) authorship, but because of the far more obvious & crucial fact that virtually every significant mention of Jesus is either the description of an impossible miracle, or else a scenario that leads up to an impossible miracle. On which point it's essential to keep in mind that until as recently as about 150 years ago almost everyone did believe that miracles actually happened (especially the biblical miracles), and it's only since the advance of science over that that last century or two that educated people have now realised that miracle stories such as those in the bible cannot ever have been true.

However, there is a second point here which is almost as damning. Namely that authors like Randel Helms (who is a perfectly credible secular university academic author - see Randel Helms "Gospel Fictions") have shown how many of the gospel stories of Jesus are actually adaptions taken from various messiah prophesies in the Old Testament. IOW – Helms and others have shown how the gospel writers were using material written in the OT from 500 BC, to create new testament stories about Jesus in the 1st century AD.


C. Bart Ehrman, who has already been mentioned in this thread (and who is by far the best known Christian academic “expert” on the Historicity of Jesus) has written numerous books in which he openly acknowledges how scant and tenuous the evidence is for Jesus. But that did not prevent him writing a 2013 book (“Did Jesus Exist”) in which he repeatedly said that the existence of jesus is/was a certainty! … and that is a book in which he was specifically claiming to produce all the evidence that made the existence so “absolutely certain” … but as I and others have pointed out in great detail in all the previous HJ threads - if you read that book then you find that he gives only two pieces of evidence for the existence of Jesus … the first item of evidence is something that he described to an audience at the book launch as “too complex to explain here”, and which iirc was concerned with the use of certain Aramaic expressions rather than Greek expressions in some of the earliest remaining copies of fragmented gospels, and the second and far more substantive and less opaque point was just to very lamely claim that he believed the author known as “Paul” where in one of the letters Paul said “other apostles saw I none, save James, the Lords brother”, which Ehrman simply takes to be literally true at face value saying “You would think James would know that his own brother was real!” … it should go without further explanation what an absurd and incredibly weak claim of evidence that is (we did of course discuss that to death in all the other threads).
We have indeed been over all of this before. People cite Bart Ehrman a lot, as if he is the only person who thinks there was a Historical Jesus, but he isn't. You mention Academic University based Historians; do any of them think the Historical Jesus didn't exist? Note: Randell Helms is not a Historian either.

If you don't like the way Ehrman argues the case for HJ, you could try contacting any of the University based Academic Historians of the Ancient Near East and find out why just about all of them accept the HJ as the most plausible explanation for the evidence we have.

That evidence is text and as such requires a fair amount of critical analysis. That is what Historians do all day. You won't find too many of them who will say that the HJ is a 100% certainty because virtually nothing in Ancient History is 100% certain. It's all about plausible explanations for the available evidence. Carrier's Mythical Jesus is even less plausible than a Historical Jesus...

Now this thread is about Paul's historicity, not Jesus. Any thoughts on that?
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Old 10th December 2017, 01:20 PM   #224
TubbaBlubba
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
A. Bart Ehrman and the other HJ writers who have been quoted so often as pro-HJ authorities in these threads, are not historians. They would like people to think they are typical academic “historians” (because it lends them greater credibility), and Ehrman has often described himself as a “historian”. But they are not historians in the normal sense of that term meaning neutral un-biased academics teaching and researching in university mainstream history dept's. They are instead NT Bible Studies Scholars.
Yes, this is a huge problem, just like all the Classicists in the Classics department who are obviously not real historians, only pushing the supposed "existence" of people like Socrates or Alexander. Clearly Classical Greece never existed.
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Old 10th December 2017, 02:11 PM   #225
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Do I have any thoughts on the existence of Paul?

No, not really. Obviously someone (or various different people) did write the letters known as Paul's Epistles. But who that was, we really do not know … and afaik, there can be no reliable guesses about it either. Because -

- firstly; we do not have any original letters written by any such person as “Paul”. Instead what we have are various copies that were apparently written by unknown people 150 or more years later.

Secondly; of 12 or 13 letters that were originally claimed to have all been written by Paul, even Christian bible scholars and bishops etc, now agree (all of them, afaik) that about half of the letters were written by various different unknown people. Though how anyone could tell which ones were actually written by “Paul” seems to be impossible. - at best all you could say is that about 6 or 7 appear to have been written by one person (i.e. similar writing style etc.), but whether those 6 or 7 are the real “Pauline letters", or whether they are the ones written by someone else, it's surely impossible to tell … e.g., perhaps one of the other 6 or 7 “fake” letters was actually the only one ever written by a 1st century preacher named Paul.

Thirdly – with almost half of the letters now agreed to be later “fakes”, that really puts a big question mark over the veracity and credibility of all those letters.

Fourth – in the letters the author very specifically never claims to have met anyone called Jesus anyway. Instead he simply believes that a divine revelation from God has shown him the true meaning of the ancient OT messiah prophecies whence it was revealed that the long awaited messiah had come to Earth in the unknown past in the form of a man named Iesous (Jehoshua, or in later middle English “Jesus”) ... he himself, along with hundreds of other “apostles” had been apparently been granted a vision of this messiah as proof that the past figure was indeed the true messiah from heaven.

But Paul never met any such living person … and he never says that anyone else ever told him about anyone who had ever met Jesus … according to Paul, they all believed through the same sort of spiritual visions.


Did Jesus exist? I have no idea. But the evidence claimed for 2000 years by the church, and still claimed today by almost all bible scholars, is now so seriously discredited that almost all of it has to be disregarded. And that in itself shows Christians and bible scholars who continue to claim the biblical writing as evidence for Jesus, to be naïve or seriously unrealistic at best, or at worst duplicitous and simply dishonest in their arguments.

Did Paul exist? Again, I have no idea. Though there might be some better evidence in his case, eg from written accounts of his death perhaps? But in any case (to repeat) – afaik the only reason anyone today is likely to be interested in Paul, is for whatever evidence they think Paul provides for Jesus … and in that aspect he actually provides no evidence at all except for his belief in spiritual visions and divine revelation.

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Old 10th December 2017, 02:14 PM   #226
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Did Alexander the Great exist? I have no idea. But the evidence claimed for 2000 years by the Greeks, and still claimed today by almost all Classics scholars, is now so seriously discredited that almost all of it has to be disregarded. And that in itself shows Graecophiles and Classicists who continue to claim the Classical writing as evidence for Alexander, to be naïve or seriously unrealistic at best, or at worst duplicitous and simply dishonest in their arguments.

Wow! Argument by assertion is so easy!
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Old 10th December 2017, 02:16 PM   #227
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
Thirdly – with almost half of the letters now agreed to be later “fakes”, that really puts a big question mark over the veracity and credibility of all those letters.
I don't follow your reasoning (possible because you present none). If anything the existence of "fakes" would point toward the existence of relatively widespread "originals".
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Old 10th December 2017, 02:35 PM   #228
Craig B
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
... the author known as “Paul” ...
I take from this that you have reservations about the authenticity of Paul. This is a thread about that very subject, so it would be both appropriate and enlightening if you could let us know your position on Paul and his supposed, or real, works.
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Old 10th December 2017, 02:42 PM   #229
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
Though there might be some better evidence in his case, eg from written accounts of his death perhaps?
Which death? Christian's claim two very different accounts of his death. If there were good evidence of his actual death I'd have though they've eliminated one of these by now.
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Old 10th December 2017, 03:00 PM   #230
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
I don't follow your reasoning (possible because you present none). If anything the existence of "fakes" would point toward the existence of relatively widespread "originals".
Of course not. Fakes don't require originals.
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Old 10th December 2017, 06:08 PM   #231
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Yes, this is a huge problem, just like all the Classicists in the Classics department who are obviously not real historians, only pushing the supposed "existence" of people like Socrates or Alexander. Clearly Classical Greece never existed.
It's not the same. Your analogy is absurd and ignores the inherent problem that if a classicist historian discovers what was previously viewed as real is actually legend, the discovery isn't world view altering. OTOH, religious people are so vested in a specific narrative they are naturally going to be resistant to other evidence or another narrative.

As a former Christian and someone who has had hundreds of discussions with Christians about the belief, I have found pretty much a universal cognitive dissonance. And that included me as a Christian. We rationalize and apologize for it. And true believers that go beyond atrending church 2 to 20 times are by far, the worst offenders.
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Old 10th December 2017, 06:15 PM   #232
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Originally Posted by RecoveringYuppy View Post
Of course not. Fakes don't require originals.
So what is the point of faking Paul letters if there were no actual Paul letters?
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Old 10th December 2017, 06:17 PM   #233
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
It's not the same. Your analogy is absurd and ignores the inherent problem that if a classicist historian discovers what was previously viewed as real is actually legend, the discovery isn't world view altering. OTOH, religious people are so vested in a specific narrative they are naturally going to be resistant to other evidence or another narrative.

As a former Christian and someone who has had hundreds of discussions with Christians about the belief, I have found pretty much a universal cognitive dissonance. And that included me as a Christian. We rationalize and apologize for it. And true believers that go beyond atrending church 2 to 20 times are by far, the worst offenders.
What does this matter with regard to their scholarship anyway? Academia is hideously competitive. Whatever bias may exist is surely overshadowed by their desire to one-up one another. Or do you think they're so blinded by bias they cannot see flawed reasoning in the scholarship of their peers?
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Old 10th December 2017, 06:45 PM   #234
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
So what is the point of faking Paul letters if there were no actual Paul letters?
Fan fiction: Paul-letters were a fad, a genre, some hopped on the streetcar named "Paul".
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Old 10th December 2017, 06:55 PM   #235
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
What does this matter with regard to their scholarship anyway?
You're kidding right?
Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Academia is hideously competitive. Whatever bias may exist is surely overshadowed by their desire to one-up one another. Or do you think they're so blinded by bias they cannot see flawed reasoning in the scholarship of their peers?
Yes. Because they are almost all viewing it through the same Christian first glasses. This isn't science. There is a lot of subjective reasoning happening.


Watch this clip of John Cleese defending the movie Life of Brian and then tell me that cognitive dissonance on this subject isn't a giant hurdle for its scholars.

https://youtu.be/ySnm78Tbj8E
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Old 10th December 2017, 07:02 PM   #236
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
Fan fiction: Paul-letters were a fad, a genre, some hopped on the streetcar named "Paul".
But if there were no real Paul letters there was no streetcar to hop on to. By the way, fads, genres and streetcars are three very different things. Which are you claiming the letters were?
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Old 10th December 2017, 07:04 PM   #237
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
You're kidding right?
Yes. Because they are almost all viewing it through the same Christian first glasses. This isn't science. There is a lot of subjective reasoning happening.


Watch this clip of John Cleese defending the movie Life of Brian and then tell me that cognitive dissonance on this subject isn't a giant hurdle for its scholars.

https://youtu.be/ySnm78Tbj8E
So what are all the non-christian Historians at secular Universities saying about it? Are they all just accepting the biased Christians' word for it all, or are they possibly also looking at the question and reaching the same conclusions?

There are a lot of Historians in the world.
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Old 10th December 2017, 07:14 PM   #238
TubbaBlubba
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
You're kidding right?
Yes. Because they are almost all viewing it through the same Christian first glasses. This isn't science. There is a lot of subjective reasoning happening.


Watch this clip of John Cleese defending the movie Life of Brian and then tell me that cognitive dissonance on this subject isn't a giant hurdle for its scholars.

https://youtu.be/ySnm78Tbj8E
Most Classicists are viewing the world through lenses in which Greece and Rome were incredibly important too, so I'd say they'd be about equally biased with regard to the question of whether the Greeks or Romans existed.
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Old 10th December 2017, 07:18 PM   #239
acbytesla
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
So what are all the non-christian Historians at secular Universities saying about it? Are they all just accepting the biased Christians' word for it all, or are they possibly also looking at the question and reaching the same conclusions?

There are a lot of Historians in the world.
Lots of things. Richard Carrier for example is highly dismissive of much of the evidence that has been for a long time widely accepted as proof.

I'm not sure we can really know what scholastic opinion would be until the religion has been discarded by most like Zeus or Wotan. As long as the major scholars view the story so personally, I don't think we can reasonably say that their bias hasn't influenced the body of the opinions held.
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Old 10th December 2017, 07:20 PM   #240
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Originally Posted by TubbaBlubba View Post
Most Classicists are viewing the world through lenses in which Greece and Rome were incredibly important too, so I'd say they'd be about equally biased with regard to the question of whether the Greeks or Romans existed.
I'm sorry. I strongly disagree with that analysis.
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