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Old 15th June 2011, 04:18 AM   #281
phelix
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
This isn't so. A great number of historical narratives include things that are not true. The people at the time were clearly prone to magical thinking, and that needs to be worked with. Our sources for Pythagoras, Socrates and Apollonius include miracle accounts. Being raised from the dead is particularly common. The key is to know that they are not likely to be malicious lies, but rather sincere accounts from gullible people. It might be the equivalent of using a child as a historical source today.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
As we don't know the sources of any ancient historian. We can still make some decent guesses: We can say that there was probably a source called Q that was written down in Greek between 30-50AD and contained a number of speeches attributed to Jesus. That sort of detective work I find fascinating.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
I'd be interested to know on what grounds this is done? Is there not room for claiming various things were faked?

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
By comparison, WTH is actually Q? Who wrote it? When? Were they making it up?
Haha. Seems I predicted your questions. We don't have the foggiest who wrote it, but they were intelligent and Greek. Some apologists argue for a proto-Q that was even earlier and Aramaic, but the arguments aren't so much persuasive as "it's possible". The author of Q could have made it up, and in which case, we have lost the identity of the most engaging moralist of the time. Q is where we get the golden rule, and "judge not" from, along with a good number of the parables. It is indeed possible that the author made it all up, and despite his talents, was so humble as to say "Jesus said all this" instead of taking the credit.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
There are also some who claim confucius didn't exist. Given the huge number of lines falsely ascribed to him, it shouldn't surprise that this came about.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Can you treat those as an independent source of Nasreddin Hodja? No. They're made up fiction.
Correct. Well, they're probably made up fiction, and it is history that helps identify this probability.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.)
Argh! Metzger blunder! The adulterous woman story is referenced by Didymus the blind in 350AD as appearing in several copies. The vatican version of John also indicates that an alternative story was known, though it doesn't include it.
But anyway, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas was a 2nd century forgery. The gospel of Thomas is more interesting. I don't know why you used the word "even" as if to imply "they even has sayings gospels! Madness!" There are some who argue that Thomas is the same sort of thing as Q. There are some who argue that Thomas is a reader's digest version of everything that was available, for people who wanted to read all the other gospels but weren't interested in Jesus' life. At the end of the day, we don't really know what the Gospel of Thomas was.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
So how did Q originate? Is it just a collection of urban legends? Or what? There is no author cited or anything.
The philosophy and writing in Q is fairly consistent, and mostly pretty good. Is it a collection of urban legends? Is it faked? Hard to say.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.)
Q was definitely about Jesus, else Matthew and Luke wouldn't have simultaneously decided to use it. It is possible that a proto-q was not about Jesus, but you are then falling into the trap of everyone else who argues for proto-q. They say there was a proto-q which was written during Jesus' life and definitely traced back to Jesus. There could be. There could also be the opposite proto-q that you suppose, which was attributed to someone totally different. Ultimately, there is no argument for either being likely.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
The names of people back then were given with extra information in order to distinguish them. They didn't have surnames, so instead he would have been noted by profession (Jesus Christ) birthplace (Jesus the Nazarene, even though he "wasn't born in Nazareth" ) or father (Jesus son of Joseph). Both Matthew and Luke reckoned that Q referred to the Jesus they wanted, so one of these titles was likely used. It is still possible that there were a couple of people called Jesus who were viewed as the messiah, so got called Jesus Christ. This doesn't change history all that much. If someone hypothesised that there were two Platos and we do not know which stories are about which, I'd say fine. You're adding in extra characters, and it's possible, but it doesn't change much. If there were two Jesuses, fine. It breaks down Christian theology but there are much better arguments against Christianity than that, and it doesn't change much in the way of history.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
Saying that any similar sections are traceable back to only one of the independent sources isn't quite how history works, but supposing if it were, we still have a couple of things that are corroborated without being traceable back to a single source, such as Paul having Timothy as a disciple (both Paul and Luke give us evidence for this, although Luke is ignorant of Paul's writings) or Jesus being killed (all Mark, John, and Paul)

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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.
I think we need to use more helpful terms than "BS" because that would imply that absolutely nothing of value can be taken from the sources. The reasons you mentioned are only good reasons for why we cannot take the claims made for granted.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
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".
True. This is why I use terms such as "likely" and "probably". We can give weight to different possibilities over others, but in history there are never definitive answers.
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:22 AM   #282
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
Which one? You've made so many I'm losing track!


GB
I said that Tacitus and roman sources help to verify some of the claims from Acts.
You responded by saying that Tacitus doesn't show Jesus existed at all.
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:23 AM   #283
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Originally Posted by amb View Post
DOC has morphed into phelix?
There is a pretty big difference between religious apology and the historical mainstream.
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:24 AM   #284
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Originally Posted by dafydd View Post
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?
Indeed! The names were whitebread Caucasian translations of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek versions of the names as passed down through Latin and eventually into English.


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Old 15th June 2011, 04:30 AM   #285
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
There is a pretty big difference between religious apology and the historical mainstream.
Actually as it turns out... No there isn't.

When your best work so far was to say "I don't want to dismiss X cause it would make me feel uncomfurtable" or "I can't think of a reason other than X" or "I'm willing to accept without evidence"

Then you are basically doing a guessing work of faith that's exactly like religious apology.
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:31 AM   #286
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
<snip>
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.
In other words, it's not going to be very useful on this thread.

It's a good thing we have Archaeology, Anthropology, a number of other "ologies," and multiple independent sources for a lot of ancient history.

(You REALLY should have read the post in which I laid out the REAL Historical Method).

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Old 15th June 2011, 04:32 AM   #287
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Even in the second century, it was lost in the decimals, and dwarfed even by the similarly new cult of Mithras.
What is your source for that statement? I don't think I've ever seen even an attempt to estimate the membership numbers of these cults.
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:33 AM   #288
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
That's the most honest representation of the argument from the other side that I've seen so far. Good going
Oh goody, crumbs of encouragement, clearly I am honoured

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
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.
Really ? At best you can attempt to infer which bits are a little less likely to be untrue.

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
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.
Can we even be remotely certain of those points without external validation ?

We're not even sure whether there was a John the Baptist or a Paul let alone where they were and what they did
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:33 AM   #289
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
I said that Tacitus and roman sources help to verify some of the claims from Acts.
You responded by saying that Tacitus doesn't show Jesus existed at all.
Well that's true, isn't it!!?

The other part has already been debunked by others.

GB
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:35 AM   #290
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
Well that's true, isn't it!!?

The other part has already been debunked by others.

GB
Well, it's true, but it has nothing to do with what I said.
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:37 AM   #291
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Originally Posted by dafydd View Post
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?
Besides that. All images of them and Jeebus are of blue eyed Swedes.
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Old 15th June 2011, 04:40 AM   #292
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
Well, it's true, but it has nothing to do with what I said.
Then you shouldn't have said it did.

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Old 15th June 2011, 04:55 AM   #293
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
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.
But that's ultimately irrelevant red herrings. If all you find true in the NT is that there was a guy called John The Baptist, or that some guy called Paul was in Ephesus, you fell quite short of the real question, which is about Jebus-onna-stick.

It's kinda like watching Sherlock Holmes proclaim he'll solve a case and show that Moriarty is the killer, then proclaim it a victory and call it a day after he found a cigar butt in an ashtray.

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Old 15th June 2011, 05:08 AM   #294
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Phelix, the burden of proof is with the claimant. And so far I've seen no proof of your claims whatsoever.
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Old 15th June 2011, 05:09 AM   #295
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
What is your source for that statement? I don't think I've ever seen even an attempt to estimate the membership numbers of these cults.
You reaaaally should have read the post in which I linked to this article:

Quote:
http://www.religionfacts.com/greco-r.../mithraism.htm

Archaeological finds indicate the extent of Mithraism included most of the Roman Empire, from Rome to Turkey to Britain. It was especially concentrated in Rome (35 Mithraic temples found) and its port of Ostia (15 temples). In total, over 400 archaeological find-spots related to Mithraism have been found, along with about 1,000 dedicatory inscriptions and 1,150 pieces of sculpture.

As in its Persian form, Roman Mithraism was a religion of loyalty, contracts and friendship between men, especially between officials and rulers. There are no known women followers of Mithraism. The cult was supported by several emperors, including Commodus (180-92), Septimius Severus (193–211), and Caracalla (211–17). As part of an effort at renewing the Roman empire, Diocletian dedicated an altar to Mithra in Carnuntum (on the Danube near Vienna) in 307, designating the god patron of their empire (fautori imperii sui).

Most followers of Mithraism were Roman soldiers, minor government employees like customs officials, imperial freedmen or slaves. It was also adopted by the pagan aristocracy of 4th-century Rome, as part of a conservative movement in opposition to the new Christian empire based in Constantinople.




Relationship with Christianity

Mithraism is frequently said to have been a great rival to early Christianity, especially in popular books written by non-specialists. According to most academic sources, however, the archaeological evidence does not support this claim.

Although it was widespread in terms of geography, Mithraism never had great numbers. (Christianity was not terribly large or influential in this period, either.) A few hundred temples of Mithras have been discovered across the Roman empire, but they are all very small. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion:

Even if all were in service contemporaneously they would accommodate no more than 1 percent of the population - scarcely the great rival to Christianity that inflated views of the cult have sometimes made it.1
Whether or not they were rivals, it is certainly possible that these two contemporary communities had some influence on each other. In at least one area, it is clear that Christianity adopted an aspect of Mithraism - the celebration of the birth of Christ on December 25, a tradition that began in the 4th century. A Christian writer admitted this in 320 AD, explaining:

We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of him who made it.2
December 25 was also the birthday of the more popular Roman god known as the "Unconquered Sun" (with whom Constantine identified himself before his conversion to Christianity), who was closely associated with Mithras.

In considering claims for Mithraism's influence on Christianity, it is important to remember that Mithraism was a very secretive, initiatory cult whose beliefs, practices and imagery were not known to the outside world. So it would not have been as easy for Christianity to borrow ideas from it as one might assume.

It is also worth noting that two faiths developing in the same area of the world at the same time are likely to have similar ideas and practices, regardless of their level of interaction. Ritual communal meals and the theme of sacrifice for salvation, for instance, were common not only to Mithraism and Christianity but much of the ancient world.

As you can see, its numbers may have been equivalent to the (relatively small) numbers of Christianity, but the above indicates it certainly "Dwarfed" Christianity in the geographical extent and in its status in the Roman Empire.


GB
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Old 15th June 2011, 05:17 AM   #296
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
This isn't so. A great number of historical narratives include things that are not true. The people at the time were clearly prone to magical thinking, and that needs to be worked with. Our sources for Pythagoras, Socrates and Apollonius include miracle accounts. Being raised from the dead is particularly common. The key is to know that they are not likely to be malicious lies, but rather sincere accounts from gullible people. It might be the equivalent of using a child as a historical source today.
Yes. And that's exactly why we want independent confirmation for the non-miraculous parts too, instead of doing BS sophistry about why something in there can be trusted nevertheless.

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
As we don't know the sources of any ancient historian. We can still make some decent guesses: We can say that there was probably a source called Q that was written down in Greek between 30-50AD and contained a number of speeches attributed to Jesus. That sort of detective work I find fascinating.
Actually, no, you can't even say that. The earliest date that Q is even used at all is in Matthew, which is tentatively dated 80-90 AD. But the upper date is really set by the reference to Matthew in Papias of Hierapolis, anywhere between 100-140 CE, although what people seem to miss is also that we don't know if Papias referred to the same Matthew.

And we don't know where or in what form it was written, or even if it was written separately, or Luke just copied passages from Matthew, while keeping Mark as the more authoritative source. In effect, then Matthew is Q. We don't know anything about the document to exclude that.

Basically "detective work" doesn't mean making up BS out of thin air, just because you'd like it to be so. Sorry.

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
I'd be interested to know on what grounds this is done? Is there not room for claiming various things were faked?
Yes, but see the independent confirmation part again. If two authors quote Aristoboulus as saying the same thing, we can take it that he did say that. And if Aristoboulus and some other primary source (similarly reconstructed) both say something about Alexander, then it might just be independent confirmation.

We do have more there than about Jebus.

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
Haha. Seems I predicted your questions. We don't have the foggiest who wrote it, but they were intelligent and Greek. Some apologists argue for a proto-Q that was even earlier and Aramaic, but the arguments aren't so much persuasive as "it's possible". The author of Q could have made it up, and in which case, we have lost the identity of the most engaging moralist of the time. Q is where we get the golden rule, and "judge not" from, along with a good number of the parables. It is indeed possible that the author made it all up, and despite his talents, was so humble as to say "Jesus said all this" instead of taking the credit.
All the good points were actually older than Jesus and already in wide circulation, and the rest are platitudes. In fact most of the "smart" Jesus stuff is only "smart" because the author tells you so, and has to tell you so, because otherwise you might notice the contrary. So there wasn't even that much to take credit for.

But again, they did that all the time for other people too. Wherever someone wrote a smart speech of Caesar or Alexander, they put such smart stuff in their mouth instead of taking credit themselves. So I don't see any problem with it being done for Jesus.

For making moralizing or political points, it's still done, because putting it in the mouth of someone important gets it more accepted. "Washington said X" gets the point more accepted than "I, Joe The Plumber said X". Again, I fail to see why you think it would be unusual back then when trying to sell a point or sell a messiah for that matter.

Heck, it was used even as a literary device. E.g., Plato invents some great philosopher Timaeus to spew his points, instead of writing them as "I said that." Apparently just because he liked to put them in a dialogue format.

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
There are also some who claim confucius didn't exist. Given the huge number of lines falsely ascribed to him, it shouldn't surprise that this came about.
Yes. Confucius is just an arbitrary figure of authority spewing some postulates for conformism.

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
But anyway, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas was a 2nd century forgery.
Actually, many date it in the 1st century too. But yes, it's just fanfic by someone who had read Luke and didn't even know more about Judaea than what he read there. But that's actually the whole point. People did write Jesus fiction. Wholesale.

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
Q was definitely about Jesus, else Matthew and Luke wouldn't have simultaneously decided to use it. It is possible that a proto-q was not about Jesus, but you are then falling into the trap of everyone else who argues for proto-q. They say there was a proto-q which was written during Jesus' life and definitely traced back to Jesus. There could be. There could also be the opposite proto-q that you suppose, which was attributed to someone totally different. Ultimately, there is no argument for either being likely.
Again, you can only say "definitely" when you can support that.

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Old 15th June 2011, 05:27 AM   #297
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Interestingly enough, the Golden Rule existed at least 500 years before Jesus' time. The saying was attributed to the alleged Confucius long before it was attributed to the alleged Jesus.

Another interesting point which will resonate with many on this thread, the alleged Confucius had the same ambiguous stance regarding slavery as the alleged Jesus.


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Old 15th June 2011, 06:20 AM   #298
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Originally Posted by amb View Post
Besides that. All images of them and Jeebus are of blue eyed Swedes.
That has always puzzled me.
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Old 15th June 2011, 06:27 AM   #299
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Originally Posted by amb View Post
Besides that. All images of them and Jeebus are of blue eyed Swedes.
Are you sure about that?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_of_Jesus
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Old 15th June 2011, 06:36 AM   #300
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Oh goody, crumbs of encouragement, clearly I am honoured
It's a willingness to consider and engage that is rare, but appreciated.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Really ? At best you can attempt to infer which bits are a little less likely to be untrue.
This is the same thing surely? Something 99% likely to be true, is 1% likely to be untrue. Something 1% likely to be true, is 99% likely to be untrue.
Unless you are saying that our scale can only go between untrue and "don't know". That the evidence limits us to suggestions between 1% likely and 50% likely? In which case, I disagree.
The "almost definitely not true" limit never changes with respect to the evidence. If we have lots of evidence, we can conclude something to be "almost definitely not true" and if we have hardly any evidence, we can still conclude something to be "almost definitely not true".
With the top limit, we are dependent on the quality and quantity of sources. If we have every source there could possibly be, the top limit would be near as damnit 100% likely to be true. As our sources for claims become worse and worse, this limit approaches 50%, but doesn't get there until we have absolutely no sources at all. Even with only one source (say, Philemon) we can still draw from above 50% and say a claim is "more likely than not" (for instance, the claim that Paul believes in God).

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Can we even be remotely certain of those points without external validation ?

We're not even sure whether there was a John the Baptist or a Paul let alone where they were and what they did
For John, I've mentioned Josephus as an external validation. Josephus gives the same outline of John's life as that found in the synoptics, and they even differ on a key point for which there are reasonable arguments for Josephus being wrong and the synoptics being correct (this is the only time where, if I had to pick sides and bet my life on one or the other, I would side with the NT over the account of a contemporary historian.)
Of course, it is always possible that Josephus' writings were faked, and it is possible that Josephus didn't exist. Same deal with Paul. Possible he didn't exist. Possible absolutely nobody in history existed.
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Old 15th June 2011, 07:01 AM   #301
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Originally Posted by dafydd View Post
That has always puzzled me.


^ Jesus, courtesy of the Ethiopian church
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Old 15th June 2011, 07:30 AM   #302
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
There is a pretty big difference between religious apology and the historical mainstream.
Doesn't look like it so far.
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Old 15th June 2011, 07:38 AM   #303
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Originally Posted by GrandMasterFox View Post
That article is basically correct. Groups tend to model their graven images of Jesus on their own likeness.

As an example see this model found outside the Holy Church of Lecherous Adulterers in Miami.

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Old 15th June 2011, 07:40 AM   #304
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
It's a willingness to consider and engage that is rare, but appreciated.
No, it's just that almost everyone else is sharper than me. I have to restate the problem so I know what I'm attempting to consider.

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
This is the same thing surely? Something 99% likely to be true, is 1% likely to be untrue. Something 1% likely to be true, is 99% likely to be untrue.
Unless you are saying that our scale can only go between untrue and "don't know". That the evidence limits us to suggestions between 1% likely and 50% likely? In which case, I disagree.
The "almost definitely not true" limit never changes with respect to the evidence. If we have lots of evidence, we can conclude something to be "almost definitely not true" and if we have hardly any evidence, we can still conclude something to be "almost definitely not true".
With the top limit, we are dependent on the quality and quantity of sources. If we have every source there could possibly be, the top limit would be near as damnit 100% likely to be true. As our sources for claims become worse and worse, this limit approaches 50%, but doesn't get there until we have absolutely no sources at all. Even with only one source (say, Philemon) we can still draw from above 50% and say a claim is "more likely than not" (for instance, the claim that Paul believes in God).
Without corroborating evidence there is no way to tell whether something is true or not. Assigning a percentage to it is giving the illusion of accuracy when all you are doing is guessing.

In any case, "don't know" isn't the same as 50% likely to be true, it just means "don't know". Without corroborating evidence it's always going to be "don't know" unless you're going to make a guess.

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
For John, I've mentioned Josephus as an external validation. Josephus gives the same outline of John's life as that found in the synoptics, and they even differ on a key point for which there are reasonable arguments for Josephus being wrong and the synoptics being correct (this is the only time where, if I had to pick sides and bet my life on one or the other, I would side with the NT over the account of a contemporary historian.)
Of course, it is always possible that Josephus' writings were faked, and it is possible that Josephus didn't exist. Same deal with Paul. Possible he didn't exist. Possible absolutely nobody in history existed.
I'm pretty sure that someone in history must have existed unless we were created ex nihilo.

Why would you bet your life on the authenticity of one account of a possibly fictitious event over another account of a possibly fictitious event ? You're going on gut feel rather than evidence.

Josephus' writings may not necessarily have been faked, they may just have been based on the same collection of myths and rumours that formed the basis for the gospels. Likewise with Paul, we have a collection of writings whose provenance is difficult to determine.
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Old 15th June 2011, 07:50 AM   #305
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Originally Posted by Lothian View Post
That article is basically correct. Groups tend to model their graven images of Jesus on their own likeness.

As an example see this model found outside the Holy Church of Lecherous Adulterers in Miami.


He gets around that bloke, but he's a bit of a wanker.


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Old 15th June 2011, 08:03 AM   #306
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
Of course, it is always possible that Josephus' writings were faked, and it is possible that Josephus didn't exist. Same deal with Paul. Possible he didn't exist. Possible absolutely nobody in history existed.


They definitely did, but they all died while they were waiting for the evidence.
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Old 15th June 2011, 08:06 AM   #307
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
In other words, it's not going to be very useful on this thread.

It's a good thing we have Archaeology, Anthropology, a number of other "ologies," and multiple independent sources for a lot of ancient history.

(You REALLY should have read the post in which I laid out the REAL Historical Method).

GB
Actually Phelix might have a point here : it is called history, not historology. In other word
it is art, litterature, passion, feelings, but neither reason/logic nor science.





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Old 15th June 2011, 08:09 AM   #308
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Originally Posted by tsig
Originally Posted by phelix View Post
There is a pretty big difference between religious apology and the historical mainstream.


Doesn't look like it so far.


I'm starting to think phelix has created a hybrid that more or less says "I haven't got any evidence but if I did, this is what it would look like."
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Old 15th June 2011, 08:47 AM   #309
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
No, it's just that almost everyone else is sharper than me. I have to restate the problem so I know what I'm attempting to consider.
Don't do yourself down, you're engaging on a good level so far. I certainly prefer it to "lying for the cause"



Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Without corroborating evidence there is no way to tell whether something is true or not. Assigning a percentage to it is giving the illusion of accuracy when all you are doing is guessing.
There is no way to tell, which much certainty, but you can still pick on probabilities can you not? In my example, can you not say the claim is "more likely than not" or are you required to say that we have been given no information?

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
In any case, "don't know" isn't the same as 50% likely to be true, it just means "don't know". Without corroborating evidence it's always going to be "don't know" unless you're going to make a guess.
This really depends on your standards for knowledge, and whether or not probability counts. I don't think weighting possibilities over others is the same as guesswork. If someone tells you they live at house number 72, and you head along with your wife and she asks what number house it is, do you have to respond "don't know"? You have no corroborating evidence. In order to justify your belief that they live at 72, you have to make claims regarding plausibility and so on, and then give the belief probabilities. Very probable that he does live at number 72, possible but unlikely that he got it wrong, extremely unlikely that he full on lied to you.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
I'm pretty sure that someone in history must have existed unless we were created ex nihilo.
True, but no specific person needed to have.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Why would you bet your life on the authenticity of one account of a possibly fictitious event over another account of a possibly fictitious event ? You're going on gut feel rather than evidence.
I wouldn't bet my life on it. I meant if I had to make a decision. If I was on a particularly odd Japanese gameshow in which I had to give one answer or the other, and a wrong answer means I get killed, and not answering or saying don't know means I get killed, then I would go with the NT over Josephus in that particular instance. The "evidence" is the argument over which account, if true, best explains the existence of the other. If John the Baptist was really killed for being way too moral, and getting people to be moral, and spreading morality, then why would the Gospel authors choose instead to say he questioned the legality of Herod's marriage? If, on the other hand, John the Baptist questioned the legality of Herod's marriage, it is clear why Josephus would prefer a narrative in which John is something of a martyr.

Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Josephus' writings may not necessarily have been faked, they may just have been based on the same collection of myths and rumours that formed the basis for the gospels. Likewise with Paul, we have a collection of writings whose provenance is difficult to determine.
True. But of course we do run into a problem about what is considered an independent corroborative source. If we declare something fake, then no corroborative sources are now good enough. They are now all based on the same, ultimate falsehood.

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Old 15th June 2011, 09:31 AM   #310
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
Don't do yourself down, you're engaging on a good level so far. I certainly prefer it to "lying for the cause"
Awwww bless, thank you

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
There is no way to tell, which much certainty, but you can still pick on probabilities can you not? In my example, can you not say the claim is "more likely than not" or are you required to say that we have been given no information?
Not really if those probabilities are based on guesswork. There is an awful lot of documented "evidence" for vampires but I wouldn't conduct a meta-analysis on it to say that it's 83% (or some other arbitrary figure) true because the same themes keep cropping up.

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
This really depends on your standards for knowledge, and whether or not probability counts. I don't think weighting possibilities over others is the same as guesswork. If someone tells you they live at house number 72, and you head along with your wife and she asks what number house it is, do you have to respond "don't know"? You have no corroborating evidence. In order to justify your belief that they live at 72, you have to make claims regarding plausibility and so on, and then give the belief probabilities. Very probable that he does live at number 72, possible but unlikely that he got it wrong, extremely unlikely that he full on lied to you.
I suppose it comes down to what claim is being made.

If I claim that there's a banjo-playing pink unicorn at number 72 then I'm going to require more evidence.

In the case of the New Testament we have a set of core claims that run counter to out current understanding of the universe and which can be explained by more mundane means:
  • Immaculate conception - or what she just knocked up
  • Performing miracles - or was stuff just exagerated and/or made up
  • Son of God - or just (one of man, many people) claiming to be the Messiah
  • Rising from the dead - or just a made up story

Against this background of dubious claims we are then asked to consider this to be a reliable source on other (more mundane, less contentious) uncorroborated matters. The typical MO would then be to claim that this makes the dubious claims true too.

Typical exchange:

Believer : Skeptics claim everything in the Bible is false
Skeptic : No, there is some true stuff in there by accident
Believer : Aha ! so everything in the bible is true
Skeptic : I never said that

.....and repeat ad-nauseam

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
I wouldn't bet my life on it. I meant if I had to make a decision. If I was on a particularly odd Japanese gameshow in which I had to give one answer or the other, and a wrong answer means I get killed, and not answering or saying don't know means I get killed, then I would go with the NT over Josephus in that particular instance. The "evidence" is the argument over which account, if true, best explains the existence of the other. If John the Baptist was really killed for being way too moral, and getting people to be moral, and spreading morality, then why would the Gospel authors choose instead to say he questioned the legality of Herod's marriage? If, on the other hand, John the Baptist questioned the legality of Herod's marriage, it is clear why Josephus would prefer a narrative in which John is something of a martyr.
I have no idea, maybe the stories got crossed, maybe people were making up a bunch of stuff and attributing meaning to it (look in the Conspiracy Theory sub-forum to see how people do that).

Originally Posted by phelix View Post
True. But of course we do run into a problem about what is considered an independent corroborative source. If we declare something fake, then no corroborative sources are now good enough. They are now all based on the same, ultimate falsehood.
Which takes me back to an earlier point. The New Testament makes some pretty remarkable claims about a variety of things and provides a narrative to the early years of the Christian church. There is no supporting evidence for the wildest claims and there is precedent for groups of people to massage or indeed invent stuff so that they appear in the best light.

In light of this, can the New Testament be reliable about the facts of Jesus's life (up to, and including the existence of such an individual) ? Is it a reliable source about the early history of Christianity (when we know that people embellish and we certainly know that the Bible has been extensively edited over time) ?

I would say that in light of the above, it should be treated as suspect at best.
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Old 15th June 2011, 09:32 AM   #311
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
Don't do yourself down, you're engaging on a good level so far. I certainly prefer it to "lying for the cause"


It's not in the same league as your very own "withholding evidence" though, is it?
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Old 15th June 2011, 09:38 AM   #312
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Originally Posted by Akhenaten View Post
I'm starting to think phelix has created a hybrid that more or less says "I haven't got any evidence but if I did, this is what it would look like."
It does seem that way.

phelix,

If you have a point, could you please make it concisely? Do you have evidence for the truth of the New Testament? If not, perhaps you could contribute your thoughts to another topic here?
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Old 15th June 2011, 09:53 AM   #313
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Originally Posted by amb View Post
Luke, or whoever wrote that gospel had Mark in front of him, and perhaps the hypothetical document called Q. Luke just added or subtracted what he thought was relevant to his version and to whomever he was writing the gospel for.
And that addition would be quite valuable considering Luke was a traveling companion of Paul. And we know Paul had a 14 day meeting with Peter and other apostles as reported in Acts by Luke. That would be like an author who was writing about the Civil War being the traveliing companion of someone who had a two week meeting with Robert E. Lee. Do you think that author might have picked up some useful information from his traveling companion.

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Old 15th June 2011, 09:55 AM   #314
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Here DOC - I have a couple of extras.

? ? ? ? ? ? ?
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Old 15th June 2011, 09:58 AM   #315
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Originally Posted by carlitos View Post
It does seem that way.

phelix,

If you have a point, could you please make it concisely? Do you have evidence for the truth of the New Testament? If not, perhaps you could contribute your thoughts to another topic here?
which bit in the new testament? I've referenced Josephus for some of the truths in the gospels, referenced roman official sources and tacitus for some of the truths in Acts, and given arguments for some of the truths we can get from Paul's letters.
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Old 15th June 2011, 10:11 AM   #316
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Old 15th June 2011, 10:15 AM   #317
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Originally Posted by DOC View Post
And that addition would be quite valuable considering Luke was a traveling companion of Paul. And we know Paul had a 14 day meeting with Peter and other apostles as reported in Acts by Luke. That would be like an author who was writing about the Civil War being the traveliing companion of someone who had a two week meeting with Robert E. Lee. Do you think that author might have picked up some useful information from his traveling companion.
What convinces you that Luke was a travelling companion of Paul? The two often contradict in theology, and when Luke gives descriptions of what Paul is doing, this often contradicts Paul's own views.
For instance, Paul thinks that circumcision is pointless, maybe even that it is bad (Galatians) while Luke tells us that Paul circumcised Timothy.
As for the meeting with the apostles, why didn't Paul mention this? He speaks only of a brief stay at Peter's house, and a quick chat with James (which he reports nothing from). Why would Paul play down an alleged meeting, in a letter to people who questioned his status as an apostle anyway?
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Old 15th June 2011, 10:17 AM   #318
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
which bit in the new testament?
The juicy bits.
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Old 15th June 2011, 10:20 AM   #319
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Originally Posted by phelix View Post
Paul circumcised Timothy.
So creepy. "Hey, I'd like to take you with me on my adventures, but first we have to mutilate your schlong in case people check."
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Old 15th June 2011, 10:44 AM   #320
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Originally Posted by Lord Emsworth View Post
The juicy bits.
I've had a think, but nothing seems to fit the bill, sorry

If you're interested in a bit of non-factual juiciness that not many people know - Eve wasn't made out of Adam's rib, but his penis bone. The original word that's used is best translated as "side branch" but that doesn't help, and totally could mean rib, so the argument is instead one of aim.
The whole story of the garden of eden is aiming to explain why things are the way they are. Why are there animals? Why is it ok for us to treat them so badly? Why do snakes crawl? How come women are so blatently inferior to men? and other questions relevant at the time.
So why would they have put rib? They could see dead human and animal skeletons, and knew that we had the same number of ribs. Also why does it say that god covered up his handiwork with a flesh seam? There's no seam around one of our ribs.
For the positive argument, humans are lacking a penis bone, unlike the other animal skeletons. If the reason for this was God removing it, then it does look like he covered it up with a flesh seam (on the underside).
This would also explain why the author used such a horrible euphemistic term for the body part. Overall, it seems most likely that Eve was made from Adam's penis bone.
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