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Old 14th June 2011, 04:05 PM   #241
phelix
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
It has already been explained why tattered 11th century manuscripts are unreliable evidence for events 1000 years prior.

Tacitus reports are only evidence that Christians existed, not evidence that Jesus existed.


GB
I think you may need to reread the claim
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Old 14th June 2011, 04:06 PM   #242
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
On what level does "Harry Potter was based on a real boy" or "A Nigerian stranger needs you to help with the transfer of eighty million" sound plausible?
Well, not just here, but for most of your attitude to it in this thread: try again without using the circular logic of getting historical if you already assumed historical, or fictive if you already knew it's fictive. A criterion for historicity or plausibility which only gets you what you assumed to start with, that's begging the question, or in other words a canonical fallacy.

The criteria for why Jesus is historical must be applicable to known historical and fictive characters, and tell you which is which correctly. In fact, they must work blind, and preferably double-blind, if that test is to mean anything. If you read a story and didn't know if it's historical or not, a working set of criteria should be able to hint that without prior knowledge of what conclusion you expect.

If you can't apply it to known fictive characters without getting the wrong results, and need to rationalize why it's not applicable to those, that should be your indication that your "criteria" are just glorified circular logic.

So to return to the topic, why wouldn't it be plausible that a story would be based on a real boy? After all Milne's stories are based on a real boy and a real teddy bear, and Lewis Carroll's Alice novels are based on a real girl. Of course, they didn't actually do any of the stuff ascribed to them in the novels, but they're based on real people. So what would tip you to the fact that Harry Potter isn't based on a real boy, if you didn't already know it's fictive?

Again, try to determine that stuff without prior knowledge.

Or for that matter, how would you know that Poe's mad arab Abdul Al-Hazred isn't based on some Arab by some similar name he's heard of, and who was into ancient occult stuff, if you didn't have that prior knowledge? I mean, sure, the original name would probably be without the double "the" in the middle, and be something more like Abdul Hazred or Abd Al Hazred, meaning "servant (or slave) of Hazred." It's plausible. In fact, it's a common name construct in the Arab world, and medieval muslims were quite heavily into scholarly research of ancient manuscripts, astrology, alchemy and occasionally occult stuff. So it's actually very plausible as a possible origin. It's also false.

How would you know if Buratino isn't based on some real doll (but not a Real Doll) or a lying and disobedient boy, if you didn't already know it's based on Pinocchio, which is itself a work of fiction?

Or if you had only the novels of Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras' and Alexandre Dumas, how would you know which deeds of d'Artagnan are real and which are fictional? I mean, sure, you can try to see which deeds are mentioned in both, or which get changed (as per the 'embarrassment criterion'). But ultimately the fact is that Dumas basically just wrote some fanfic based on the earlier author's novels, rather than any historical information. High quality fanfic that ended up a masterpiece in its own right, but ultimately still fanfic. Although the character is based on a real person all right, a lot of what would pass those criteria is actually fictive. And going by just what sounds plausible, even more ahistorical fiction in there is plausible.

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
You are correct in that plausibility can be quite subjective. For instance, someone might consider the faith healing explanation for a recovery at Lourdes to be plausible, while someone else might not.
But we already know that the same applied to a whole population is a fallacy, and means nothing at all. That's the argumentum ad populum right there. Why is then reducing it to a subjective personal criterion of one person worth anything at all, if even the averaged version of whole populations doesn't?

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
If we take plausibility to mean the ease with which you can hold a belief, then the number of questions that arise uniquely to that belief would be something of a benchmark as to how plausible it is. With the example of Harry Potter or the Nigerian 8million, there are quite a lot of pertinent questions associated with the beliefs, so I cannot believe you seriously consider them to be plausible.
This is still something of a subjective matter, but we at least are not totally in the dark.
But ultimately if there is an objective ease to holding a belief, that's measured in how many people believe it. Yet we also know that that's a BS fallacy, not something that actually makes that belief reality.

And to illustrate why it's bogus, consider this:

According to a poll, three quarters of Brits weren't convinced that the Battle of Blenheim (a major British victory) was real. Over half believed that Nelson commanded the British forces at Waterloo. Nearly half believed that Sir William Wallace was fictive. Over half believed that the Battle Of The Bulge, a major WW2 event, is basically Hollywood fiction. Nearly half believed that Custer's last stand and the Battle of Little Big Horn, or for that matter the Hundred Years War, were entirely fictive. About two thirds believed that king Ethelred the Unready was a fictive character. (And with a name like that, can you blame them?)

And when you move to one-person beliefs, you can land in such categories as the 11% who believed that Hitler was a fictive character, or conversely the 5% who believed that Conan The Barbarian was a real historical person.

In another poll, some 58% of the Brit teens believed that Sherlock Holmes was a historical person and actually lived at 221B Baker Street. Conversely some 47% believed that king Richard the Lionheart as fictional. Some 47% believed Eleanor Rigby was a real person rather than a creation of The Beatles.

So, yeah, those are all very plausible scenarios. In fact, not just plausible, but believed by a heck of a lot of people. If you asked merely whether they find some of those plausible, rather than outright historical fact, you'd likely get even higher numbers there.

And again if you move to one-person beliefs, you risk falling in such categories as the 1-in-5 who believed that Sir Winston Churchill was a fictional character.

That is why 'plausible' doesn't mean jack squat. Personal ease of believing something historical or not, doesn't actually make something historical.
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Old 14th June 2011, 04:21 PM   #243
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Originally Posted by kmortis View Post
I can't speak to the plausibility of Harry Potter, but apparently the plausibility of the 419 scams is about 1.5/1000.
Which incidentally is also not far off for how many people fell for Christianity in the first century CE. We even have Paul's own rant about how the wise find his gospel retarded, but it's God's retarded, dammit, which is, like, totally smarter than the wise men's smart. (Yeah, that's actual Paul logic in action for ya.)

Christianity was pretty much lost in the decimals until the early third century CE when all the big problems suddenly hit AND the clock started ticking towards year 1000 AUC. They expected something big to happen on the millennium, because humans are retarded like that when it comes to three zeroes in a row.

But, yeah, if you went to a first century Greek and told him Paul's message, chances are they'd look at you like someone would today if you went and gave them the good news that they can get 80,000,000$ if they give some Nigerian their account data.

Even in the second century, it was lost in the decimals, and dwarfed even by the similarly new cult of Mithras.

Originally Posted by kmortis View Post
The only reason most people find the story of Jesus as told in the gospels to be plauible is that they're raised on it. If I were to come to you and tell you the story of John Frumm, you'd laugh in my face. Yet, there are some Pacific Islanders who would be mighty put out by that attitude. And the story of John Frumm is just about as old for us, as the Gospels would have been when they were set to paper.
Yep.
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Old 14th June 2011, 04:48 PM   #244
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, not just here, but for most of your attitude to it in this thread: try again without using the circular logic of getting historical if you already assumed historical, or fictive if you already knew it's fictive. A criterion for historicity or plausibility which only gets you what you assumed to start with, that's begging the question, or in other words a canonical fallacy.
It has been claimed that the logic regarding the application of historical argument is circular, but no argument is every made as such without distorting the methods used. If it truly was something akin to the following:
We can only apply historical methods if something is historically reliable
A source is historically reliable
Thus we apply the historical methods and find it to be reliable

Or something like this, then it wouldn't be a case against the use of the historical method in this case, but would actually be a case against history itself.

With any source, fiction or non-fiction, you can identify things like writing style, form, theology, cultural context, date, inspirations, and with this you can make arguments as to the motive, and what potential historical value (or lack of this) it might have.
Once you know this you can start scouring the text with all the previously gained info, to find points of interest, and begin making arguments based on plausibility, cultural context, dissimilarity, what have you.
Once you have done that, you will have a list of claims made in the text, and possible things that might have been learned. They will range from almost certainly wrong, to likely wrong, to impossible to tell, to likely, to almost certainly right. Different scholars will assign slightly different probabilities to different claims.

This system does not catch competent fakes, as people have been overjoyed to mention in this thread. If every author faked their book, the historical method will be unable to identify all of these fakes (though it has found a couple. In the NT too.) And if the NT authors were sincere, but working from fakes, historical analysis will also not catch this. It is for this reason that the range of possibilities does not include "certainly right".
Note that the claim of faked source is a positive one though, and is not something historians are naturally drawn towards without reason.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The criteria for why Jesus is historical must be applicable to known historical and fictive characters, and tell you which is which correctly. In fact, they must work blind, and preferably double-blind, if that test is to mean anything. If you read a story and didn't know if it's historical or not, a working set of criteria should be able to hint that without prior knowledge of what conclusion you expect.
It would be nice if history were this easy, but alas it is not. We can make arguments based on one thing or another, but there is no checklist that historians use, where if something ticks 70% of the boxes it's historical, and if it doesn't it's a fiction book by JRR Tolkein, and the checklist always produces the right answer.
It's a slightly skewed challenge too, because if a fiction character is found to be real, that's game over for the test, but if a historical character is found to be fake... well... maybe he was fake. I cannot definitely prove otherwise.
So the formulation of such a test is a means of encouraging you to label as much as you possibly can as fiction. You would pass the double-blind test, and other challenges, but you would be wrong a heck of a lot of the time.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
So to return to the topic, why wouldn't it be plausible that a story would be based on a real boy? After all Milne's stories are based on a real boy and a real teddy bear, and Lewis Carroll's Alice novels are based on a real girl. Of course, they didn't actually do any of the stuff ascribed to them in the novels, but they're based on real people. So what would tip you to the fact that Harry Potter isn't based on a real boy, if you didn't already know it's fictive?
This is akin to the matrix. If it affects nothing then we should assume it doesn't exist. Dracula was a real person, but the real person had absolutely no bearing on the book Dracula, and so we can draw nothing useful from the book. To dismiss the book Dracula as fictional is not to say "everything in it is wrong" but rather "it has no historical value".

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But we already know that the same applied to a whole population is a fallacy, and means nothing at all. That's the argumentum ad populum right there. Why is then reducing it to a subjective personal criterion of one person worth anything at all, if even the averaged version of whole populations doesn't?
You must keep in mind that plausibility isn't the only criterion we are working with. All historical criteria are logical fallacies if you take them on their own, and reword them to say they prove something. The fact is still that, all things being equal, if many people consider something in history to be plausible, that makes it more likely than an implausible alternative. (There will be counterexamples to this by the barrowful)

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But ultimately if there is an objective ease to holding a belief, that's measured in how many people believe it. Yet we also know that that's a BS fallacy, not something that actually makes that belief reality.

And to illustrate why it's bogus, consider this:

According to a poll, three quarters of Brits weren't convinced that the Battle of Blenheim (a major British victory) was real. Over half believed that Nelson commanded the British forces at Waterloo. Nearly half believed that Sir William Wallace was fictive. Over half believed that the Battle Of The Bulge, a major WW2 event, is basically Hollywood fiction. Nearly half believed that Custer's last stand and the Battle of Little Big Horn, or for that matter the Hundred Years War, were entirely fictive. About two thirds believed that king Ethelred the Unready was a fictive character. (And with a name like that, can you blame them?)

And when you move to one-person beliefs, you can land in such categories as the 11% who believed that Hitler was a fictive character, or conversely the 5% who believed that Conan The Barbarian was a real historical person.

In another poll, some 58% of the Brit teens believed that Sherlock Holmes was a historical person and actually lived at 221B Baker Street. Conversely some 47% believed that king Richard the Lionheart as fictional. Some 47% believed Eleanor Rigby was a real person rather than a creation of The Beatles.

So, yeah, those are all very plausible scenarios. In fact, not just plausible, but believed by a heck of a lot of people. If you asked merely whether they find some of those plausible, rather than outright historical fact, you'd likely get even higher numbers there.

And again if you move to one-person beliefs, you risk falling in such categories as the 1-in-5 who believed that Sir Winston Churchill was a fictional character.

That is why 'plausible' doesn't mean jack squat. Personal ease of believing something historical or not, doesn't actually make something historical.
And indeed, there went the counterexamples Of course, in all these cases, arguments can be made regardless of plausibility, so we wouldn't have to resort to using such logic. Plausibility is not high up in the list of historical priorities. When it is extreme negative then that starts to have an effect. But on its own, it is a weak little thing compared to great big giants like disinterested sources and legal documents.
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Old 14th June 2011, 05:23 PM   #245
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
On what level does "Harry Potter was based on a real boy" or "A Nigerian stranger needs you to help with the transfer of eighty million" sound plausible?
You are correct in that plausibility can be quite subjective. For instance, someone might consider the faith healing explanation for a recovery at Lourdes to be plausible, while someone else might not.

If we take plausibility to mean the ease with which you can hold a belief, then the number of questions that arise uniquely to that belief would be something of a benchmark as to how plausible it is.
Why would we take plausibilty to mean that?
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Old 14th June 2011, 06:54 PM   #246
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
In that particular line of the conversation, none of this was requested or even warranted. We don't know the authorship. I think the evidence actually rules against the eyewitness. The stories from the alleged eyewitness I don't think there is much sway one way or the other as to their truth.


Hey, people started grilling me on the sources for Luke, so I've replied with what much of critical history has to say about the matter. As I've said, the evidence for truth in the gospel accounts simply comes from critical historical analysis of the sources.
Which are the gospel accounts.

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Old 14th June 2011, 07:17 PM   #247
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
"evidence for probability of truth" and "evidence for truth" are the same thing. Evidence necessitates probability. If probability were not involved, then it would be "proof of truth", which is impossible.
This sentence would make sense if it didn't make sense therefore Evidence necessitates probability if it weren't probable then math would not exist but since 2=2 Jesus is real.
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Old 14th June 2011, 09:45 PM   #248
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
I think you may need to reread the claim
You mean this one:


Quote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ


In the Annals of the Roman historian Tacitus (ca 56 A.D. - ca 117 A.D.), in book 15, chapter 44, written ca. 116 A.D., there is a passage which refers to Christ, to Pontius Pilate, and to mass executions of the Christians.[1]
The passage describes the six-day fire that burned much of Rome in July of 64 A.D. and was thought by some Romans to have been set by Emperor Nero himself. [2]

Quote:
Tacitus:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Juda, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
The surviving copies of Tacitus' works derive from two principal manuscripts, known as the Medicean manuscripts, which are held in the Laurentian Library, and written in Latin. It is the second Medicean manuscript, 11th century and from Monte Cassino,[5] which is the oldest surviving copy of the passage describing Christians.
So, we have an historian writing roughly a hundred years after the fact. The oldest surviving copy is from the hands of 11th century Christian monks...well I think you get the picture.

At best, one can say that this is evidence that Christians existed, not evidence that Jesus existed.



GB

ETA: Not to mention that there is some argument that the term Tacitus used was Chrestians not Christians.
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Old 14th June 2011, 10:32 PM   #249
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
I've said what the non-biblical sources for those claims are - Josephus on John the baptist, and there are a fair few sources for a number of the claims made in Acts, such as Roman official sources and Tacitus.
GB has posted up the Tacitus source, phelix and as we've seen repeatedly in the 'Other' thread, it doesn't support your claims.
We're still awaiting your mentioned 'Roman official sources'.
All in all, this is very slender outside 'confirmation'.
I daresay the cargo cults actually had more.



Originally Posted by phelix View Post
I don't think it is not the subject matter. There are times at which the NT writers are telling the truth, and external sources help to demonstrate this.
It is not like Charles De Gaulle in The Day of the Jackal, as much of the NT represents lore and not fiction.
Right.
Rather like the appendices of LOTR, then?
You don't like labelling the NT fiction.
Would you go for fanfic, then?


Originally Posted by phelix View Post
Yup. You cannot say definite travels, because "what if all the sources are fakes". History discovers the likely. With regards to Pauls travels, this is a case in which the NT writer is likely telling the truth. After all, he writes in his letter to the Corinthians that he visited them and was unhappy, so is hoping to address that. The possibility of the Corinthians standing around saying "whut. He never visited... and he thinks we're sexually deviant, what the heck is this?" is a comical one.
History covers the likely?
Possibly.
But the subject of this thread is about the evidence the NT writers were telling the truth.
Not whether it's likely they did so.


Originally Posted by phelix View Post
Yes, among other things. The doings of Paul are some of the better historical sources, even though he gives us very little to work with.
And plenty of contradictions, too.
Tell us about when Paul met Peter.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
...And again if you move to one-person beliefs, you risk falling in such categories as the 1-in-5 who believed that Sir Winston Churchill was a fictional character.

That is why 'plausible' doesn't mean jack squat. Personal ease of believing something historical or not, doesn't actually make something historical.
I'd add 'likely' to that 'plausible'.


Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
At best, one can say that this is evidence that Christians existed, not evidence that Jesus existed.
GB
ETA: Not to mention that there is some argument that the term Tacitus used was Chrestians not Christians.
Thanks for reposting the Tacitus text.
It's come up several times in the 'Other' thread and refuted without much fuss.
I still have hopes for those official Roman sources, though.
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Old 14th June 2011, 10:42 PM   #250
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Okay, I logged on today to find that several of my posts had been moved. Given my native guilty conscience I wondered what I had done wrong. Coming here I see I did not err, but I do not see why this thread should be split from the original. It's the same runaround, though Phelix is playing DOC's role.
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Old 14th June 2011, 11:18 PM   #251
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Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
Okay, I logged on today to find that several of my posts had been moved. Given my native guilty conscience I wondered what I had done wrong. Coming here I see I did not err, but I do not see why this thread should be split from the original. It's the same runaround, though Phelix is playing DOC's role.
Don't worry. I had the same thought at first also. This is just Part 2 of the original thread. I can't wait until we get to part 3. Maybe by then we'll actually have some evidence.

It seems like the Phelix = DOC theme is really starting to catch on.


GB
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Old 14th June 2011, 11:24 PM   #252
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Better get on the split thread just in case evidence is ever on the menu.
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Old 15th June 2011, 12:29 AM   #253
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nitpick : Abdul Al-Hazred is HP Lovecraft (Necronomicon) not Poe, isn't it ?
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Old 15th June 2011, 12:37 AM   #254
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Talking

Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
Okay, I logged on today to find that several of my posts had been moved. Given my native guilty conscience I wondered what I had done wrong. Coming here I see I did not err, but I do not see why this thread should be split from the original. It's the same runaround, though Phelix is playing DOC's role.
Welcome to the "Groundhog Thread".

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Old 15th June 2011, 01:20 AM   #255
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Originally Posted by pakeha View Post
History covers the likely?
Possibly.
But the subject of this thread is about the evidence the NT writers were telling the truth.
Not whether it's likely they did so.
<snip>
I'd add 'likely' to that 'plausible'.
Actually I have no problem with going on the path of they were likely writing the truth. But what this actually means is that the thread would be
"Evidence for why we know the New Testament writers likely told the truth"

The common occurance on these silly threads is that they first toss out the word "fact" without providing any evidence and when called out on this, they switch to the label "likely" as if that word is an automatic get out of jail free card to showing evidence.

If phelix wishes to claim likelyhood that's fine as long as he shows some evidence for it.

So far therewere none...
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Old 15th June 2011, 01:51 AM   #256
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Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
Coming here I see I did not err, but I do not see why this thread should be split from the original.
It's a server issue; threads over a certain size cause severe performance problems.
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Old 15th June 2011, 01:53 AM   #257
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Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
nitpick : Abdul Al-Hazred is HP Lovecraft (Necronomicon) not Poe, isn't it ?
Ugh, major brainfart on my part there. Thanks for the correction.
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Old 15th June 2011, 01:53 AM   #258
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Well I think I sort of kind of get phelix's argument - I just don't agree with it.

The initial premise of the original thread was to present Evidence for why we know the New Testament writers told the truth. phelix has attempted to do so, the argument goes something like this.
  • Some points in the NT are demonstrably true - for example Jerusalem existed
  • Some points are demonstrably false (for example catering for 5,000 with 5 loaves and two fish in phelix's opinion)
  • Many points are neither one nor the other and cannot be independently verified
  • phelix claims that analysis of the gospels, for example, show that they come from independent sources and so that it is unlikely that they came from a single fictitious source
  • Therefore, because of the agreement between the gospels there must be some truth in there
  • but we cannot tell which bits are true

Which brings phelix to the conclusion that some (but not all, not most, perhaps only a tiny bit) of the as yet unverified information in the New Testament must be true.


I do not agree with the process that got to this point but I reckon that I can concede that at least one tiny little bit of information which is in the New Testament but which has not yet been verified is true.

Of course the fact that we cannot determine which piece of information is true makes it an exercise in abstract thinking rather than something that produces a useful result.
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Old 15th June 2011, 02:04 AM   #259
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
It's a server issue; threads over a certain size cause severe performance problems.


Perhaps it got bogged down with the weight of all that evidence.



Umm . . .
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Old 15th June 2011, 02:04 AM   #260
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
And indeed, there went the counterexamples Of course, in all these cases, arguments can be made regardless of plausibility, so we wouldn't have to resort to using such logic. Plausibility is not high up in the list of historical priorities. When it is extreme negative then that starts to have an effect. But on its own, it is a weak little thing compared to great big giants like disinterested sources and legal documents.
Well, if you have any disinterested or even independent sources for Jesus, that's what we've been asking for, oh, only for several months now. Heck, not even for this thread, but I'm sure it would be the discovery of two millennia. Legal documents? Well, now that would be even better. I for one wasn't even hoping for that much. By all means, show your legal documents if you have any.

I mean, geesh, why didn't you do it from the start? This could have been settled some 7 pages ago by just listing those legal documents about Jesus.
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Old 15th June 2011, 02:11 AM   #261
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
You mean this one:




So, we have an historian writing roughly a hundred years after the fact. The oldest surviving copy is from the hands of 11th century Christian monks...well I think you get the picture.

At best, one can say that this is evidence that Christians existed, not evidence that Jesus existed.



GB

ETA: Not to mention that there is some argument that the term Tacitus used was Chrestians not Christians.
I think you should go back and read what I was saying
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Old 15th June 2011, 02:30 AM   #262
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
I think you should go back and read what I was saying


Not at all. You're doing exactly the same thing that DOC did for 2 years - providing evidence of Christians (or Chrestians, as the case may be)

Although not nearly as entertainingly.
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Old 15th June 2011, 02:34 AM   #263
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
I think you should go back and read what I was saying
I went back and read it again:

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
I think you may need to reread the claim
Umm....wow....I can't believe I missed that!


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Old 15th June 2011, 02:36 AM   #264
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Originally Posted by pakeha View Post
GB has posted up the Tacitus source, phelix and as we've seen repeatedly in the 'Other' thread, it doesn't support your claims.
We're still awaiting your mentioned 'Roman official sources'.
All in all, this is very slender outside 'confirmation'.
I daresay the cargo cults actually had more.
...I get the strong impression that people do not realise the Book of Acts is not about Jesus...
And as for the Roman official sources, we have inscription on Herod's temple confirming the prohibition of gentiles, the Delphi inscription (had to look that one up) confirms Gallio's role as proconsul, and his dating fits in perfectly with the life of Paul.

Originally Posted by pakeha View Post
Right.
Rather like the appendices of LOTR, then?
You don't like labelling the NT fiction.
Would you go for fanfic, then?
No. These things are all possible, but not something we should assume at will.

Originally Posted by pakeha View Post
History covers the likely?
Possibly.
But the subject of this thread is about the evidence the NT writers were telling the truth.
Not whether it's likely they did so.
Those two things are not mutually exclusive. Historical evidence only ever tells you the likely. In the John the Baptist case, it's possible that Josephus was writing fanfiction, so we can dismiss John's existence too. All of history could be fanfiction, but we don't have any good reason to believe that it is.

Originally Posted by pakeha View Post
And plenty of contradictions, too.
Tell us about when Paul met Peter.
I do not recall a story where Paul specifically meets Peter, so could you give me book refs for that one? If you're referring to Acts/Galatians, historians always prefer the letters of Paul over Acts, because Luke's theological message seems to be unaware of Paul's teachings. If the two authors met, and I don't think they did, it was not for long enough to establish anything significant. There is also the question of "if Paul saw all the apostles, why does he play down this fact and say he only briefly chatted with James?"
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Old 15th June 2011, 02:40 AM   #265
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Originally Posted by Akhenaten View Post
Not at all. You're doing exactly the same thing that DOC did for 2 years - providing evidence of Christians (or Chrestians, as the case may be)

Although not nearly as entertainingly.
Only I wasn't...

I would prefer to think "everyone read what I was saying wrongly" than "everyone thinks Acts is a book about Jesus"
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Old 15th June 2011, 02:47 AM   #266
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
...I get the strong impression that people do not realise the Book of Acts is not about Jesus...


Eventually that will be replaced by an even stronger impression that you've completely underestimated the participants here.

Although to tell the truth, why you'd expect people generally to think that a book called The Acts of the Apostles is all about Jeebus is a bit of a mystery.
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Old 15th June 2011, 02:48 AM   #267
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
  • Some points in the NT are demonstrably true - for example Jerusalem existed
I get that too, but that's so fully irrelevant that it boggles the mind. I mean, equally New York exists, but that isn't evidence that anything else in Spiderman is real. Transylvania is real, but that doesn't make anything of substance in Dracula real. Moskow and the Napoleonic Wars in War And Peace are demonstrably true, but that doesn't make Count Piotr Bezukhov historical.

Setting historical fiction in the context of some real historical places and events isn't even new. Homer used it too. And before him the story of Wenamun used real places as a setting, but it is historical fiction. So, yeah.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
  • Some points are demonstrably false (for example catering for 5,000 with 5 loaves and two fish in phelix's opinion)
Which, however is a good reason to doubt anything else in there. They say insanity is doing the same thing ten times and expecting a different result. If someone blatantly lied to your face about nine thing, just believing him about the tenth without any independent confirmation, is insane.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
  • Many points are neither one nor the other and cannot be independently verified
Which is reason enough to take them by default as likely false, in a document which lied about so many things we can verify.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
  • phelix claims that analysis of the gospels, for example, show that they come from independent sources and so that it is unlikely that they came from a single fictitious source
1. BUT, and that's a big but, we don't know what those sources are, and by what criterion they were connected to the Jesus of the NT.

By comparison for example, as I've said before, while we no longer have the primary sources for Alexander, the secondary sources cite the primary sources. We don't have to guess where something came from. We can know what parts came from Aristoboulus, and we can know who he was, or that he was an eyewitness.

By comparison, WTH is actually Q? Who wrote it? When? Were they making it up?

Collections of fictive smart sayings of some fictive character are as old as the world and still going. E.g., the whole Nasreddin Hodja set of parables. While he was a real teacher and cleric, most of the parables told about him are made up by people who didn't even know who he was: he was just the traditional guy to use when you need to put smart words in someone's mouth. In fact, people are still making up new Nasreddin Hodja stories in Azerbaijan. There were whole magazines dedicated to periodically publishing new Nasreddin Hodja stories.

Can you treat those as an independent source of Nasreddin Hodja? No. They're made up fiction.

In the case of Jesus we know that they made up stories and sayings about him. There were literally dozens of gospels written about him, one more fantastic than the other. One even has him subdue dragons as an infant. (The Infancy Gospel Of Thomas.) They even had whole sayings gospels. (E.g., the Gospel Of Thomas, not to be confused with the infancy one.) It didn't even stop there. They continued adding smart Jesus stuff, waay into the middle ages. (E.g., the story of the woman taken in adultery.)

So how did Q originate? Is it just a collection of urban legends? Or what? There is no author cited or anything.

Was it even originally written about Jesus, or just repurposed stories that were originally about other wise men? (Yes, they had a Nasreddin Hodja kinda thing already going for centuries. Smart sayings of some wise or holy man were doing the rounds all around the Mediterranean.)

Even if we assume it was about someone named Jesus -- which, again, is not a given for a document nobody even saw or mentioned as existing back then -- which Jesus? Just count the Jesuseseses in Josephus. It was as common a name as Joshua is in the USA.

2. But there is something even more perverse in there. Even granting multiple sources, we don't actually have independent confirmation. Just about any given event or saying actually comes from only one source. Either it's in Mark (and copied from there by Matthew and/or Luke), or it's in Q, or only in Matthew, or only in Luke. Even additional sources like the Gospel Of The Hebrews or the Gospel Of Thomas, actually don't add much, as basically they too either have different material or you can tell it's copied from the same source as the canonical ones. E.g., a bunch of material in the Gospel Of Thomas comes from Q too, so really at most it confirms the existence and content of Q (and possibly IS Q), not the reality of the events in Q.

We have different sources all right, but they don't actually corroborate each other almost at all. They tell different things, wherever they didn't copy from each other. In fact, they even contradict each other all over the place.

I.e., it's BS.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
  • Therefore, because of the agreement between the gospels there must be some truth in there
No, there is no such thing as there "must" be anything more than can be supported. While the previous points were debatable, this one is plain old stupid nonsense.

There might or they might not be more true details in there, but there is no such thing as "must".

Just because several Santa stories agree about the North Pole residence or his coming on Christmas eve, and the North Pole and Christmas exist, doesn't mean there "must" be any other truths in Santa stories. Same here. There is no "must". That's unsupportable nonsense.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
  • but we cannot tell which bits are true
Which by itself would make the whole exercise irrelevant. But was already irrelevant anyway, because the previous step is just wishful thinking. Without that one, not only we don't know which or how many other details are true, we don't even know if there are any at all.

Last edited by HansMustermann; 15th June 2011 at 02:53 AM.
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Old 15th June 2011, 02:50 AM   #268
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
Originally Posted by Akhenaten View Post
Not at all. You're doing exactly the same thing that DOC did for 2 years - providing evidence of Christians (or Chrestians, as the case may be)

Although not nearly as entertainingly.


Only I wasn't...


Your response seems to imply that I was talking about a particular post of yours but it's actually more like one of those body of work things that you often hear talked about.
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Old 15th June 2011, 02:50 AM   #269
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
...I get the strong impression that people do not realise the Book of Acts is not about Jesus...
And as for the Roman official sources, we have inscription on Herod's temple confirming the prohibition of gentiles, the Delphi inscription (had to look that one up) confirms Gallio's role as proconsul, and his dating fits in perfectly with the life of Paul.
Yes, and? So what? Using real historical places or characters in fiction doesn't mean anything else in there must be true.

As I keep saying, just that we have independent confirmation of New York, isn't evidence of Spiderman.
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Old 15th June 2011, 03:01 AM   #270
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, if you have any disinterested or even independent sources for Jesus, that's what we've been asking for, oh, only for several months now. Heck, not even for this thread, but I'm sure it would be the discovery of two millennia. Legal documents? Well, now that would be even better. I for one wasn't even hoping for that much. By all means, show your legal documents if you have any.

I mean, geesh, why didn't you do it from the start? This could have been settled some 7 pages ago by just listing those legal documents about Jesus.
Reread the statement made please
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Old 15th June 2011, 03:14 AM   #271
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I get that too, but that's so fully irrelevant that it boggles the mind. I mean, equally New York exists, but that isn't evidence that anything else in Spiderman is real. Transylvania is real, but that doesn't make anything of substance in Dracula real. Moskow and the Napoleonic Wars in War And Peace are demonstrably true, but that doesn't make Count Piotr Bezukhov historical.

Setting historical fiction in the context of some real historical places and events isn't even new. Homer used it too. And before him the story of Wenamun used real places as a setting, but it is historical fiction. So, yeah.



Which, however is a good reason to doubt anything else in there. They say insanity is doing the same thing ten times and expecting a different result. If someone blatantly lied to your face about nine thing, just believing him about the tenth without any independent confirmation, is insane.



Which is reason enough to take them by default as likely false, in a document which lied about so many things we can verify.



1. BUT, and that's a big but, we don't know what those sources are, and by what criterion they were connected to the Jesus of the NT.

By comparison for example, as I've said before, while we no longer have the primary sources for Alexander, the secondary sources cite the primary sources. We don't have to guess where something came from. We can know what parts came from Aristoboulus, and we can know who he was, or that he was an eyewitness.

By comparison, WTH is actually Q? Who wrote it? When? Were they making it up?

Collections of fictive smart sayings of some fictive character are as old as the world and still going. E.g., the whole Nasreddin Hodja set of parables. While he was a real teacher and cleric, most of the parables told about him are made up by people who didn't even know who he was: he was just the traditional guy to use when you need to put smart words in someone's mouth. In fact, people are still making up new Nasreddin Hodja stories in Azerbaijan. There were whole magazines dedicated to periodically publishing new Nasreddin Hodja stories.

Can you treat those as an independent source of Nasreddin Hodja? No. They're made up fiction.

In the case of Jesus we know that they made up stories and sayings about him. There were literally dozens of gospels written about him, one more fantastic than the other. One even has him subdue dragons as an infant. (The Infancy Gospel Of Thomas.) They even had whole sayings gospels. (E.g., the Gospel Of Thomas, not to be confused with the infancy one.) It didn't even stop there. They continued adding smart Jesus stuff, waay into the middle ages. (E.g., the story of the woman taken in adultery.)

So how did Q originate? Is it just a collection of urban legends? Or what? There is no author cited or anything.

Was it even originally written about Jesus, or just repurposed stories that were originally about other wise men? (Yes, they had a Nasreddin Hodja kinda thing already going for centuries. Smart sayings of some wise or holy man were doing the rounds all around the Mediterranean.)

Even if we assume it was about someone named Jesus -- which, again, is not a given for a document nobody even saw or mentioned as existing back then -- which Jesus? Just count the Jesuseseses in Josephus. It was as common a name as Joshua is in the USA.

2. But there is something even more perverse in there. Even granting multiple sources, we don't actually have independent confirmation. Just about any given event or saying actually comes from only one source. Either it's in Mark (and copied from there by Matthew and/or Luke), or it's in Q, or only in Matthew, or only in Luke. Even additional sources like the Gospel Of The Hebrews or the Gospel Of Thomas, actually don't add much, as basically they too either have different material or you can tell it's copied from the same source as the canonical ones. E.g., a bunch of material in the Gospel Of Thomas comes from Q too, so really at most it confirms the existence and content of Q (and possibly IS Q), not the reality of the events in Q.

We have different sources all right, but they don't actually corroborate each other almost at all. They tell different things, wherever they didn't copy from each other. In fact, they even contradict each other all over the place.

I.e., it's BS.



No, there is no such thing as there "must" be anything more than can be supported. While the previous points were debatable, this one is plain old stupid nonsense.

There might or they might not be more true details in there, but there is no such thing as "must".

Just because several Santa stories agree about the North Pole residence or his coming on Christmas eve, and the North Pole and Christmas exist, doesn't mean there "must" be any other truths in Santa stories. Same here. There is no "must". That's unsupportable nonsense.



Which by itself would make the whole exercise irrelevant. But was already irrelevant anyway, because the previous step is just wishful thinking. Without that one, not only we don't know which or how many other details are true, we don't even know if there are any at all.
Errrm....I thought The Don was being sarcastic.

But I could be mistaken.

In any case you made a great argument.


GB
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Old 15th June 2011, 03:16 AM   #272
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
Reread the statement made please
Which one? You've made so many I'm losing track!


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Old 15th June 2011, 03:32 AM   #273
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
Errrm....I thought The Don was being sarcastic.

But I could be mistaken.

In any case you made a great argument.


GB
Not so much sarcastic as trying to understand phelix's argument. HansMustermann manages to take apart that argument very well.
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Old 15th June 2011, 03:50 AM   #274
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Not so much sarcastic as trying to understand phelix's argument. HansMustermann manages to take apart that argument very well.
He does doesn't he!

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Old 15th June 2011, 03:52 AM   #275
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
Errrm....I thought The Don was being sarcastic.

But I could be mistaken.

In any case you made a great argument.


GB
Well, I wasn't arguing with The Don but really with phelix. Basically The Don put up a good summary of phelix's argument, which saves me the bother of hunting the bits of it all over 7 pages myself to address the inherent silliness in it.
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:03 AM   #276
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DOC has morphed into phelix?
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:03 AM   #277
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, I wasn't arguing with The Don but really with phelix. Basically The Don put up a good summary of phelix's argument, which saves me the bother of hunting the bits of it all over 7 pages myself to address the inherent silliness in it.
I know what you mean, I still haven't figured out which post he wants me to read again.


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Old 15th June 2011, 04:04 AM   #278
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Originally Posted by amb View Post
DOC has morphed into phelix?
That's the meme I've been trying to get started. It looks like it's catching on.

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Old 15th June 2011, 04:11 AM   #279
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The disciples,if they ever existed, would have been Aramaic Jews. Surely they wouldn't have had whitebread Caucasian names like Thomas,Peter and James?
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:17 AM   #280
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Well I think I sort of kind of get phelix's argument - I just don't agree with it.

The initial premise of the original thread was to present Evidence for why we know the New Testament writers told the truth. phelix has attempted to do so, the argument goes something like this.
  • Some points in the NT are demonstrably true - for example Jerusalem existed
  • Some points are demonstrably false (for example catering for 5,000 with 5 loaves and two fish in phelix's opinion)
  • Many points are neither one nor the other and cannot be independently verified
  • phelix claims that analysis of the gospels, for example, show that they come from independent sources and so that it is unlikely that they came from a single fictitious source
  • Therefore, because of the agreement between the gospels there must be some truth in there
  • but we cannot tell which bits are true

Which brings phelix to the conclusion that some (but not all, not most, perhaps only a tiny bit) of the as yet unverified information in the New Testament must be true.
That's the most honest representation of the argument from the other side that I've seen so far. Good going
On the penultimate point, this is not always the case. It might be that there are some things that a single author seems to know a lot about (Luke getting parliamentary divisions correct) and so we might use him to identify similar info. It might be that an author's only reasonable motivation for writing something would be its truth (Paul calling for the Corinthians to stop attacking his apostleship). With each of these, there is only one author, but the claims could still be valuable.
We cannot tell definitely which bits are true (for the last bullet point) but we can have a darn good stab at it.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
I do not agree with the process that got to this point but I reckon that I can concede that at least one tiny little bit of information which is in the New Testament but which has not yet been verified is true.

Of course the fact that we cannot determine which piece of information is true makes it an exercise in abstract thinking rather than something that produces a useful result.
It can never prove a definite result, in the same way that science can, and so many arguments will be built on the back of a number of claims that one scholar or another might disagree with. I wouldn't say it's not useful though. You can introduce high levels of doubt for whichever historical sources you wish, but tackling the sources available helps us build up a better understanding of what probably happened in the past.
Even if all you take from the NT is "John the Baptist worked in the river Jordan" that is an improvement. Even if all you take from the NT is "Paul hung out in Ephesus" that is an improvement.
Of course you could then doubt the usefulness of this knowledge, but then I would do the same with any ancient history. It's a subject of passion more than one of utility.
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