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Old 23rd October 2011, 06:15 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by UnrepentantSinner View Post
This is my problem with the claim that everything in the Bible (or the Koran or Vedas) is a lie from word one to the final sentence. It simply isn't true. There are a number of verifiable historical references in every holy book that obviously reference actual persons or events. The question is do those actual persons and events reflect a supernatural influence on the world.

In the late '90s I noted in response to an apologist, that Schiemann had used the Iliad to find the supposedly legendary remnants of Troy. That archaeological fact didn't validate the Greek theology about Olympus, Achilles, etc. The mundane archaeological discoveries don't validate the supernatural claims. I might not have been the first to make such an observation in writing, nor the first to make it on the Internet, but it's one I came up with on my own and I'll stand by it.

Clearly the question to the OP is yes. The much more important question is do any of the supernatural questions stand up to scrutiny, and for me, the answer is no.
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Any bullshipper worth listening to will pepper the tallest of tales with geographical and historical fact, but the tale will still be bull.
The OT is a collection of ripping good yarns for the most part.
The supernatural crap is added to what facts there are, and some of these are very suspect, just to give some basic credence to the yarns about the big sky daddy.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 06:27 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by UnrepentantSinner View Post
This is my problem with the claim that everything in the Bible (or the Koran or Vedas) is a lie from word one to the final sentence. It simply isn't true. There are a number of verifiable historical references in every holy book that obviously reference actual persons or events. The question is do those actual persons and events reflect a supernatural influence on the world.

In the late '90s I noted in response to an apologist, that Schiemann had used the Iliad to find the supposedly legendary remnants of Troy. That archaeological fact didn't validate the Greek theology about Olympus, Achilles, etc. The mundane archaeological discoveries don't validate the supernatural claims. I might not have been the first to make such an observation in writing, nor the first to make it on the Internet, but it's one I came up with on my own and I'll stand by it.

Clearly the question to the OP is yes. The much more important question is do any of the supernatural questions stand up to scrutiny, and for me, the answer is no.
I wouldn't even go as far as the supernatural claims, but even the more mundane stuff is distorted beyond belief, or more pragmatically beyond the point of making it frikken useless for any historical purposes.

The most trivial example is basically the whole theme of their coming out of Egypt and conquering the unbelievers for the Lord, but the historical record just doesn't seem to show the kind of evidence you'd associate with an invasion. More likely at some point simply a group decided to be bigger a-holes about their god than on goatse, really. "Polytheism" was already mostly monolatry for most polytheists, they just were willing to leave each others' gods alone. What we see there is pretty much the first people who decided to be pricks, and got away with it.

Then that is embellished with all sorts of things which aren't quite supernatural, but are nevertheless bogus and misleading. E.g., their insistence of iron chariots, which had been obsolete for centuries at that point, and at most used in small specialized units. A chariot is a frikken scary thing if you're telling a scary story, and awe-inspiring if you're carving a monument, but in practice a chariot with 4 horses and 2 people out of which only 1 fights, less effective than 4 people on the same 4 horses and all 4 fighting. What people miss is that while 1 chariot beats 1 horse for shock and awe value any time, 4 horsemen beat 1 chariot every single time. Once a saddle that allowed fighting on horseback was invented, the chariot was simply obsolete for almost any other purpose than telling a scary story. So they embellished a fiction story with the kind of details that sound scary, but which are really bogus for historical purposes.

And then comes stuff like walls suddenly collapsing, and armies of the Jews just... deciding they don't want to conquer nation X (when the records of nation X actually say they kicked the Jews asses like a centipede with steel toed boots), and enemy armies suddenly disappearing as if by miracle (after actually being paid off), and cities they didn't like being wiped out (although later we see them still existing and kicking ass, e.g., Midian), and so on. Or then there comes rewriting of motives and causes, like instead of Cyrus's being a devout Zoroastrian and thus against slavery and for religious freedom, they rewrite it as some idiot of theirs convincing Cryrus that the Babylonian gods are bogus... never mind that as a devout Zoroastrian, he had that very idea from the start anyway. Or inventing having previously been some great empire, when archaeological evidence shows no trace of the infrastructure and economy that such an empire would need. Etc.

At the end of the day you have a text which occasionally uses some RL even as prop, but then rewrites it as something that doesn't even vaguely resemble the original. The value for any historical purposes is very close to zero even for the non-supernatural stuff as, even if by sheer chance alone, any particular detail of a significant event is more likely to be fiction than truth. You can find some general RL events and RL settings used as props and framework, but even for those, unless you already know what happened there, the safest bet is to not trust a single word. It's that frikken sad.

Even acknowledging that most of ancient historiography was propaganda and all, these guys take the cake. It's Velikovsky class of history reivention.

So, anyway, brief version: forget the supernatural stuff, it's even the mundane stuff that's in most cases BS

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Old 23rd October 2011, 07:06 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by Quad4_72 View Post
No idea what you are talking about. Everyone else was able to get the purpose of the thread and answer intelligently. Appears that you missed the bus though.
It's a very simple question.

The books of the Bible are full of references to places and events and people and objects and plants and so forth, thousands of them.

Are you seriously asking if there is any evidence for, say, the existence of Jerusalem?

That seems pointless to me.

If there is a point to this thread, you should be able to explain it.

It seems ridiculous to me. If it's not, I'd like to know why it's not.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 07:30 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
It's a very simple question.

The books of the Bible are full of references to places and events and people and objects and plants and so forth, thousands of them.

Are you seriously asking if there is any evidence for, say, the existence of Jerusalem?

That seems pointless to me.

If there is a point to this thread, you should be able to explain it.

It seems ridiculous to me. If it's not, I'd like to know why it's not.
Where in my OP did I specify places? I specifically said events. Things such as Moses leading the slaves out of Egypt, the various wars, Noahs Ark, birth of Christ, etc etc. I want to know these things because I am very curious what kind of factual documentation, if any, can support any of the miraculous events that supposedly happened in the Bible. If you can't figure it out perhaps a critical thinking forum is not right for you.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 08:07 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Quad4_72 View Post
Where in my OP did I specify places? I specifically said events. Things such as Moses leading the slaves out of Egypt, the various wars, Noahs Ark, birth of Christ, etc etc. I want to know these things because I am very curious what kind of factual documentation, if any, can support any of the miraculous events that supposedly happened in the Bible. If you can't figure it out perhaps a critical thinking forum is not right for you.
Well, of course there's no substantiation for the miraculous events, because miracles by their very nature defy substantiation.

To paraphrase Bart Ehrman, a historian can never say that a miracle probably happened, because the odds of anything miraculous actually happening are infinitesimal... if they weren't, it would just be something weird that happened, and weird things happen all the time.

And historians can't investigate miracles, only reports of miracles. So the likelihood of alternative explanations for those reports -- fraud, misunderstanding, misperception, transcription errors, etc. -- are always greater than the odds that a miraculous event really occurred.

The folks who go around looking for Noah's ark, or the remains of the Nephilim, or the location of the Garden of Eden are cranks. They are not performing legitimate scholarship.

So we can dispense with the miraculous stuff here (although it's interesting in its own right, e.g. the link between the Noah story and the epic of Gilgamesh).

We can also dispense generally with the tales of the patriarchs and the exodus from Egypt.

That leaves some pretty boring stuff (to most people) such as the conquest of Canaan, the rule of the judges, various wars, the rule of the monarchy and establishment of the capital at Jerusalem, the fall of the northern kingdom, the rather brutal succession of the kings of Judah, the defeat by Nebuchadnezzar, the exile, the repatriation by Cyrus, the ensuing conflicts with the Edomites, the rebuilding of the Temple under Ezra and Nehemiah, the mission of John the Baptist, the crucifixion of Jesus by Pilate, the establishment of the Jerusalem church by James the brother of Jesus, and the establishment of churches by Paul.

All of those events are accepted by mainstream scholars, although not all Biblical accounts are accurate.

For example, in Joshua and Judges, we get two different accounts of the conquest of Canaan -- a complete rout in which Yahweh grants the Jews victory at every turn, and a partial conquest in which some battles are won and some are lost. Only the latter version is supported by archaeology.

And there are known errors in some of the years of succession of the kings of Judah.

In any case, now I have a much clearer idea of why you started the thread and what you're looking for. Thanks.

ETA: The Bible itself provides evidence for some events and practices, such as child sacrifice by ancient Hebrews (one ancient passage refering to it is preserved, and the skreeds against it indicate that it continued in some form after it had been officially outlawed) even where we have no other supporting evidence. Keep in mind that our best manuscripts of Biblical texts are themselves artifacts which can be studied like any other artifact.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 08:23 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Well, of course there's no substantiation for the miraculous events, because miracles by their very nature defy substantiation.

To paraphrase Bart Ehrman, a historian can never say that a miracle probably happened, because the odds of anything miraculous actually happening are infinitesimal... if they weren't, it would just be something weird that happened, and weird things happen all the time.

And historians can't investigate miracles, only reports of miracles. So the likelihood of alternative explanations for those reports -- fraud, misunderstanding, misperception, transcription errors, etc. -- are always greater than the odds that a miraculous event really occurred.

The folks who go around looking for Noah's ark, or the remains of the Nephilim, or the location of the Garden of Eden are cranks. They are not performing legitimate scholarship.

So we can dispense with the miraculous stuff here (although it's interesting in its own right, e.g. the link between the Noah story and the epic of Gilgamesh).

We can also dispense generally with the tales of the patriarchs and the exodus from Egypt.

That leaves some pretty boring stuff (to most people) such as the conquest of Canaan, the rule of the judges, various wars, the rule of the monarchy and establishment of the capital at Jerusalem, the fall of the northern kingdom, the rather brutal succession of the kings of Judah, the defeat by Nebuchadnezzar, the exile, the repatriation by Cyrus, the ensuing conflicts with the Edomites, the rebuilding of the Temple under Ezra and Nehemiah, the mission of John the Baptist, the crucifixion of Jesus by Pilate, the establishment of the Jerusalem church by James the brother of Jesus, and the establishment of churches by Paul.

All of those events are accepted by mainstream scholars, although not all Biblical accounts are accurate.

For example, in Joshua and Judges, we get two different accounts of the conquest of Canaan -- a complete rout in which Yahweh grants the Jews victory at every turn, and a partial conquest in which some battles are won and some are lost. Only the latter version is supported by archaeology.

And there are known errors in some of the years of succession of the kings of Judah.

In any case, now I have a much clearer idea of why you started the thread and what you're looking for. Thanks.

ETA: The Bible itself provides evidence for some events and practices, such as child sacrifice by ancient Hebrews (one ancient passage refering to it is preserved, and the skreeds against it indicate that it continued in some form after it had been officially outlawed) even where we have no other supporting evidence. Keep in mind that our best manuscripts of Biblical texts are themselves artifacts which can be studied like any other artifact.
Thank you for the good information.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 08:47 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Quad4_72 View Post
Thank you for the good information.
Btw, my apologies for the tone earlier. I was out of line and being counterproductive.

I actually didn't know what your specific intentions were until post 44, but now I do.

But yeah, you can drop the miracles and the clearly mythological stuff. There's no support for any of that.

There's a middling period where it's unclear what the mix of myth and reality is. Was there really a Moses, who later grew into this mighty uber-figure by having many traditions attached to him, or is he entirely fictional? We'll probably never know.

We do have external references to a military defeat of the "House of David", however, and current excavations are beginning to support the existence of fairly large palaces from the period immediately after Solomon, so perhaps there's evidence for Solomon's palace yet to be found in lower layers -- it seems much more likely now than it used to.

However, the very grand descriptions of the Davidic palaces and Temple are likely more reflective of the period of Old Testament redaction some centuries later than they are of the actual details of the architecture at the time.

We also have external references to Pilate, as well as the practice of crucifixion, and Roman execution of Jewish miracle workers who were perceived as rabble rousers.

The building projects of Herod the Great, including the expansion of the Second Temple, are verified by archaeology.

The universal census and the slaughter of the innocents are certainly false -- these were inventions created in order to place the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem rather than Nazareth.

The mission and popularity of John the Baptist are attested to by Josephus as well as some New Testament writers, although they disagree on what precisely he preached. The followers of Jesus paint him as a wilderness prophet preaching the coming Kingdom of God and railing against the establishment, while Josephus portrays him as focusing on baptism as a means of ritual purification.

They each have obvious reasons for skewing their stories in different directions, but we do know that baptism by immersion was practiced all over Galilee at the time. Immersion pools are ubiquitous in Galilean communities as public resources, as well as in the houses of the wealthy.

John was probably not the radical figure of the gospels, simply because if he were then he would not have been as widely popular as they and Josephus admit he was. On the other hand, if he were not somehow within the apocalyptic tradition, it's difficult to make sense of the lineage from him to Jesus to Jesus's followers. Perhaps he preached the coming of the Kingdom of God, but did not assert that it was immediately imminent, as the followers of Jesus believed.
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Old 23rd October 2011, 09:07 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
...
There's a middling period where it's unclear what the mix of myth and reality is. Was there really a Moses, who later grew into this mighty uber-figure by having many traditions attached to him, or is he entirely fictional? We'll probably never know.
I've heard people say that maybe it was just the Levites who came out of Egypt and that they were a remnant of Akhenaten's followers. Could this be true?

Quote:
...
The mission and popularity of John the Baptist are attested to by Josephus as well as some New Testament writers, although they disagree on what precisely he preached. The followers of Jesus paint him as a wilderness prophet preaching the coming Kingdom of God and railing against the establishment, while Josephus portrays him as focusing on baptism as a means of ritual purification.

They each have obvious reasons for skewing their stories in different directions, but we do know that baptism by immersion was practiced all over Galilee at the time. Immersion pools are ubiquitous in Galilean communities as public resources, as well as in the houses of the wealthy.

John was probably not the radical figure of the gospels, simply because if he were then he would not have been as widely popular as they and Josephus admit he was. On the other hand, if he were not somehow within the apocalyptic tradition, it's difficult to make sense of the lineage from him to Jesus to Jesus's followers. Perhaps he preached the coming of the Kingdom of God, but did not assert that it was immediately imminent, as the followers of Jesus believed.
I recently read somewhere (might have been J.D. Crossan) that the popularity of Baptisms as a means of purification was probably an economic thing; Much cheaper to wash yourself than to hand over perfectly good farm animals to the High Priest.

I can't recall if John The Baptist was supposedly the guy who came up with the idea or not...
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Old 24th October 2011, 02:40 AM   #49
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TBH I kinda doubt that they had anything to do with Akhenaten.

For a start, we're talking followers of very different deities. Now individual fanboys can feel betrayed and butthurt and skip over to the next master, but a whole church doesn't do that. You can't just come in front of the congregation and go, "you know, I had it up to here with Jesus, we're worshipping Kali starting next Sunday" and expect it to actually work.

Second, there was no real persecution of the followers of Aten by the Egyptians, as far as we know.

Nor really the other way around when Akhenaten was in power. Akhenaten's main beef seems to have been with Amen/Amun/Amon/however-you-read-it, to the extent of almost erasing his own father from history just for having Amen in his name(*), but he was pretty easy going about the other Gods. Sure, he didn't think they're real, but you could if you wanted to. You wouldn't wake up with the Egyptian inquisition at the door if the missus sacrificed to Isis. Even followers of Amen pretty much just got to exchange icons of their god in anthropomorphic form, for icons where he was represented by the solar disc of Aten... but which was one of the religious representations of Amen all along too, so most people just shrugged and went on with their lives.

(*) ... which is kinda funny because his dad, Amenhotep III, actually was himself a fan of Aten.

And at any rate, we see that nothing much happens after Akhenaten's death. Even his family stays jolly well in power. His son changes name from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamen and keeps the throne anyway. (Though later he'd get erased out of history anyway together with his dad.) Akhenaten's vizier keeps on being vizier. Smenkhkare keeps being co-ruler and although we have very little real idea who the heck Smenkhkare really was, it's possible it was a relative, possibly even an alias of Nefertiti. Etc. There is a pretty smooth transition back to polytheism, or rather, just acknowledging again that most of Egypt had never been anything else. And at any rate there is still the same family and court which introduced Atenism in the first place, who now phase it out and put the priesthood of Amen back at the top, so there is no real reason to believe that they'd now hunt down their own former followers.

It is possible however that some different people in Egypt's (former) sphere of influence got the idea from Akhenaten that a monotheistic theocracy was viable.
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Old 24th October 2011, 03:21 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by gnome View Post
I believe that the planet Earth really exists, it's mentioned in the Bible many times.
Well, no, not really.

The one mentioned in the bible was held up with pillars, had corners and a sun orbiting around it.

You believe that Earth exists?

Probably not.




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Old 24th October 2011, 06:27 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
I've heard people say that maybe it was just the Levites who came out of Egypt and that they were a remnant of Akhenaten's followers. Could this be true?
Could be, but I don't know of any evidence for it. I haven't dug very deeply into those hypotheses, but from what I've seen, there are a lot of could-be's which are themselves based on accepting other could-be's as premises.

It's much more likely that the stories regarding battles with Egyptians and captivity under Egyptians date from the periods of Egyptian presence in Canaan, and they were later re-interpreted as having actually taken place in Egypt.


Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
I recently read somewhere (might have been J.D. Crossan) that the popularity of Baptisms as a means of purification was probably an economic thing; Much cheaper to wash yourself than to hand over perfectly good farm animals to the High Priest.

I can't recall if John The Baptist was supposedly the guy who came up with the idea or not...
In my opinion, that does not hold water (pardon the pun).

Jews did not use the baptismal fonts for bathing. And doing so would have run against the grain of their ideas about cleanliness and purity.

If JtB did shift ideas about baptism, it's more likely to have been a re-interpretation of its purpose.

In the ancient Hebrew culture and religion, moral purity and ritual purity existed at either ends of a spectrum, mixing a bit in the middle, but largely separated.

If you committed a ritual error, it was not a moral sin, and of course there were always ways of correcting the error via other rituals. In earlier Jewish traditions, baptism is a means of re-establishing ritual purity.

According to the New Testament tradition, JtB was touting baptism as a means of the "forgiveness of sins"... that is, as a means of moral purification.

If this were so, one can readily see how his ideas and practices would have become popular. And it would make sense of the lineage from John to Jesus to Paul, who converted pagans to Christianity by baptismal ceremonies in which "demonstrations" of the holy spirit were experienced by the participants.

The holy spirit was a kind of conduit between humans and God (because most humans could not withstand a direct experience of God).

So although we don't know what exactly happened during these baptismal conversions, the most likely explanation is that Paul and his disciples created a highly charged atmosphere of the type we currently see in charismatic tent revivals, snake handlings, "holy roller" pentecostal services, culminating in an ecstatic moment at the actual immersion.
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Old 24th October 2011, 06:30 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by Cainkane1 View Post
There is no evidence for the miracles but there is evidence for a few events described in the bible. Moses following the pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day is a good description of the eruption of the volcano at Santorini Island.
Except that the light wouldn't have been seen in Sinai, and the smoke would have been dispersed in the upper atmosphere, not a column, by the time it was "visible" in Arabia.
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Old 24th October 2011, 06:31 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
Although the timing of the erruption does not fit the early date of Exodus, there is no doubt the eruption would have been observable from the Eygptian coast
As a huge cloud of smoke.
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Old 24th October 2011, 07:19 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
...
In my opinion, that does not hold water (pardon the pun).

Jews did not use the baptismal fonts for bathing. And doing so would have run against the grain of their ideas about cleanliness and purity.

If JtB did shift ideas about baptism, it's more likely to have been a re-interpretation of its purpose.

In the ancient Hebrew culture and religion, moral purity and ritual purity existed at either ends of a spectrum, mixing a bit in the middle, but largely separated.

If you committed a ritual error, it was not a moral sin, and of course there were always ways of correcting the error via other rituals. In earlier Jewish traditions, baptism is a means of re-establishing ritual purity.

According to the New Testament tradition, JtB was touting baptism as a means of the "forgiveness of sins"... that is, as a means of moral purification.

If this were so, one can readily see how his ideas and practices would have become popular. And it would make sense of the lineage from John to Jesus to Paul, who converted pagans to Christianity by baptismal ceremonies in which "demonstrations" of the holy spirit were experienced by the participants.

The holy spirit was a kind of conduit between humans and God (because most humans could not withstand a direct experience of God).

So although we don't know what exactly happened during these baptismal conversions, the most likely explanation is that Paul and his disciples created a highly charged atmosphere of the type we currently see in charismatic tent revivals, snake handlings, "holy roller" pentecostal services, culminating in an ecstatic moment at the actual immersion.
So if JtB came up with the idea of Baptism to purify moral sins, whereas previously that could only be done by sacrificing livestock in the Temple, wouldn't that make the whole process a lot cheaper and allow more poor people to participate? How is that not economics?
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Old 24th October 2011, 07:26 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
So if JtB came up with the idea of Baptism to purify moral sins, whereas previously that could only be done by sacrificing livestock in the Temple, wouldn't that make the whole process a lot cheaper and allow more poor people to participate? How is that not economics?
You're right, we actually agree. I misread your intention in the phrase "wash yourself". My mistake.
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Old 24th October 2011, 07:37 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
You're right, we actually agree. I misread your intention in the phrase "wash yourself". My mistake.
I guess we can also infer why Mr Baptist wasn't very popular with the Powers That Be in Jerusalem, if he was telling people that they didn't have to spend their money in the Temple to get on God's good side...

And then he went and lost his head over a woman... typical!
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Old 24th October 2011, 07:39 PM   #57
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On an episode of The Atheist Experience, Jen Peeples reviewed an event (not miraculous, of course) that probably occurred in a way that is reasonably close to the version given in the bible. She was using it as an example of how a rational person can examine claims given in the bible, or any ancient text, and try to come to a reasonable conclusion about their truth or falsehood. It has to do with the fall of Jerusalem. Clip below, the portion I'm talking about is in the introduction to the show, from about 3:00 to about 12:00.

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Old 24th October 2011, 07:51 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by Leumas View Post
I was there in person standing in [b][i]
I personally was in King's Cross Station and stood on platform 8 and there was platform 9 right across. I could not find platform 8.5 but hey...give us time.....so is Harry Potter a real Wizard?
NEVER doubt Harry Potter.

http://kingscrossstation.com/?page_id=10

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Old 24th October 2011, 08:08 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
I guess we can also infer why Mr Baptist wasn't very popular with the Powers That Be in Jerusalem, if he was telling people that they didn't have to spend their money in the Temple to get on God's good side...

And then he went and lost his head over a woman... typical!
Point of fact, JtB wasn't executed by the powers in Jerusalem, but rather the powers in Galilee, specifically Herod Antipas. Jesus was executed by the powers in Jerusalem, specifically Pontias Pilate

I'm not convinced that JtB went so far as to assert that sacrifice was not also necessary, altho maybe he did.

I find much more support for the hypothesis that Jesus argued directly against the necessity of Temple sacrifice.
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Old 24th October 2011, 08:33 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by jasonpatterson View Post
On an episode of The Atheist Experience, Jen Peeples reviewed an event (not miraculous, of course) that probably occurred in a way that is reasonably close to the version given in the bible. She was using it as an example of how a rational person can examine claims given in the bible, or any ancient text, and try to come to a reasonable conclusion about their truth or falsehood. It has to do with the fall of Jerusalem. Clip below, the portion I'm talking about is in the introduction to the show, from about 3:00 to about 12:00.
Thanks very much for posting that.

One comment I'd like to make regarding that clip and its implications is that it demonstrates a subtle but important issue regarding the common skeptical approach to the Biblical literature, which is to separate it from all other artifacts and to treat it as something special and isolated which requires external verification, assuming that these external sources are somehow more reliable.

But this is not how historians approach the Biblical literature, because from a historical point of view there's nothing special or privileged about Biblical literary artifacts.

In fact, the accounts found in Biblical literature are (and should be) treated precisely in the same way that we treat other literary artifacts of the era.

That is to say, the Biblical literature, all the extra-Biblical Judaic literature, and all the extra-Biblical non-Judaic literature stand on the same footing. The same type of analysis pertains to all.

In each case, we have to ask ourselves what genre of writing we're looking at, what its purpose was, who its audience was, what its biases were, how close our manuscripts are (or aren't) to the originals, what sources it's relying on, how well it agrees with other sources, and so forth.

In other words, the Bible ain't special. And that cuts both ways. We don't start out assuming that it's right, and we don't start out assuming that it's wrong. And in some cases, such as the Song of Songs, the question of wrong vs. right doesn't even apply.

The Biblical literature is like any other artifact, any other product of human endeavor... a piece of evidence regarding human culture, which can only be understood in the context of all we know about human cultures.

That is the proper way to treat Biblical manuscripts.

If you start out believing that the Bible is literally true, and challenging others to prove it false, you're already making a mistake.

By the same token, if you start out assuming that the Bible is always wrong, and demanding that other sources prove it right, you're also making a mistake... and wasting an opportunity to put the Biblical literature to proper and productive use.
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Old 24th October 2011, 08:43 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
By the same token, if you start out assuming that the Bible is always wrong, and demanding that other sources prove it right, you're also making a mistake... and wasting an opportunity to put the Biblical literature to proper and productive use.
I'd like to think that one day the Bible will be regarded as what it is: A fascinating collection of ancient writings that tell us about certain aspects of human history, much like the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Egyptian Book of the Dead or the Iliad, rather than as an objective source of modern day morality.
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Old 24th October 2011, 08:53 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by Foster Zygote View Post
I'd like to think that one day the Bible will be regarded as what it is: A fascinating collection of ancient writings that tell us about certain aspects of human history, much like the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Egyptian Book of the Dead or the Iliad, rather than as an objective source of modern day morality.
It already is, brother. But only among a minority.
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Old 24th October 2011, 09:29 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
Point of fact, JtB wasn't executed by the powers in Jerusalem, but rather the powers in Galilee, specifically Herod Antipas. Jesus was executed by the powers in Jerusalem, specifically Pontias Pilate

I'm not convinced that JtB went so far as to assert that sacrifice was not also necessary, altho maybe he did.

I find much more support for the hypothesis that Jesus argued directly against the necessity of Temple sacrifice.
OK, Jerusalem or Galilee, it's all Hebrew to me.

Wasn't Jesus supposedly teaching in the same tradition as JtB anyway? Isn't that why the gospels mention him?

If Jesus was against Temple sacrifice and all in favour of Baptism, it seems reasonable to assume that he was continuing the teachings of JtB (if that's what Jtb was teaching).

JtB may not have caused a big ruckus in the Big City Temple, but isn't that because he spent most of his time out in the wilderness "Preparing the way..."?

Do you think there is anything to the idea that JtB, Jesus and James were associated with the community that left the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran?
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Old 24th October 2011, 10:01 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
OK, Jerusalem or Galilee, it's all Hebrew to me.

Wasn't Jesus supposedly teaching in the same tradition as JtB anyway? Isn't that why the gospels mention him?

If Jesus was against Temple sacrifice and all in favour of Baptism, it seems reasonable to assume that he was continuing the teachings of JtB (if that's what Jtb was teaching).

JtB may not have caused a big ruckus in the Big City Temple, but isn't that because he spent most of his time out in the wilderness "Preparing the way..."?

Do you think there is anything to the idea that JtB, Jesus and James were associated with the community that left the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran?
I'll start with the last question.... No, none of them were associated with the Essene community at Qumran, although they were all part of the widespread and fragmented apocalyptic tradition.

As I mentioned earlier, the vision of JtB as a wilderness prophet preaching the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God on Earth does not comport with his reputation (in Xian and Jewish sources) as a popular preacher.

But yeah, John spent his time in Galilee and never made it down to Judea. (His execution does seem to be related to his condemnation of the practices of Herod Antipas, although the New Testamant accounts are certainly not historical.)

Jesus's mistake was likely going to Jerusalem at passover and delivering his charismatic End Times message in the same way he was accustomed to doing up north.

Keep in mind that, at this time, there was no Roman presence in Galilee, which was still thoroughly Jewish. There were no Roman roads there, no evidence of any emperor cult, no evidence of Hellenistic culture at the popular level. Someone like Jesus could preach with impunity as long as he stuck to the rural areas, as all our accounts indicate that he did.

But passover in Jerusalem was a whole nother kettle of fish. Josephus recounts one passover melee which began when a Roman soldier positioned on a wall turned and farted on the Jewish crowds below, who began to throw things at him. Other soldiers responded to the disturbance, which drew more angry Jews to the scene, and things quickly spiraled out of control.

The Romans always reinforced the town during passover, and dealt quickly and brutally with any disturbances.

And they had a general policy of making short work of Jewish miracle workers who drew crowds and prophecied the downfall of the current powers. (It's notable that Josephus identifies several of these as charlatans, but characterizes JtB as a righteous man.)

It's not credible that Jesus scourged the Temple. But it is very likely that he created a disturbance there in protest of the sellers of animals and the money-changers (who were part of the establishment that fleeced rural farmers out of their meagre possessions in the name of God) and that this was the reason for his arrest and execution.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the Roman Christian church, which eventually came to dominate the new religion, shares many of its cultural characteristics with the Roman rulers of Jesus's day -- they were highly organized, absolutely authoritarian (bishops were to be obeyed just as one would obey the Lord himself) and tolerated no dissent. (Compare that with Paul's leaderless congregations, which were perpetually plagued with internal conflict, and it's easy to see why the Roman church won out.)

What is surprising is the Roman church's remarkably un-Roman obsession with sexual purity, especially celibacy.

So, was Jesus continuing the traditions of JtB? Well, yes and no.

If he had been faultlessly continuing the tradition, then his followers would have been followers of JtB, just as the disciples of Paul considered themselves followers of Jesus rather than Paul, and the authors of 2nd and 3rd Isaiah considered themselves followers of Isaiah.

The fact that they considered themselves followers of Jesus, and that their literature went out of its way to portray John as a precursor, if not servant, of Jesus rather than his teacher, indicates clearly that Jesus made a break with John in some significant way(s). Perhaps Jesus disagreed with John on the timing of the arrival of the Kingdom of God on Earth, for example.
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Old 25th October 2011, 01:06 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
I'll start with the last question.... No, none of them were associated with the Essene community at Qumran, although they were all part of the widespread and fragmented apocalyptic tradition.
Everybody is so sure about this, why?

Have you read any of Robert Eisenman's stuff? http://www.roberteisenman.com/

Is he as kooky as they say? I'm going to go all CT nutjob crazy for a moment and suggest that maybe the original group of Catholic Scholars who were tasked with translating and publishing the DSS, were less than enthusiastic in releasing their work to the public...One or two scrolls in Forty Years is a bit slow, even for Academe isn't it?

Anyway, why does everyone say the Qumran Community were Essenes? They look more like Zealots to me. This is from a PDF I downloaded, ...10 Mb later: WARNING BIG PDF!!!
http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.e...ons%5D,_EN.pdf
Originally Posted by The War Rule
1.
]Isaiah the prophet: [ The thickets of the forest ] will be cut [ down
2.
with an axe and Lebanon by a majestic one will f]all. And there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse [
3.
] the Branch of David and they will enter into judgement with [
4.
] and the Prince of the Congregation, the Bran[ch of David ] will kill him [
5.
by stroke]s and by wounds. And a Priest [ of renown (?) ] will command [
6.
the s]lai[n ] of the Kitti[m ]
Transcription and translation by G. Vermes
Apparently the nature of the fragment from which the above translation was made, makes it ambiguous as to whether the "Branch of David" is being killed or is doing the killing...

Baptism was pretty important to them as well...

Quote:
As I mentioned earlier, the vision of JtB as a wilderness prophet preaching the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God on Earth does not comport with his reputation (in Xian and Jewish sources) as a popular preacher.

But yeah, John spent his time in Galilee and never made it down to Judea. (His execution does seem to be related to his condemnation of the practices of Herod Antipas, although the New Testamant accounts are certainly not historical.)
Something to do with Herod Antipas marrying his own niece?

Quote:
Jesus's mistake was likely going to Jerusalem at passover and delivering his charismatic End Times message in the same way he was accustomed to doing up north.

Keep in mind that, at this time, there was no Roman presence in Galilee, which was still thoroughly Jewish. There were no Roman roads there, no evidence of any emperor cult, no evidence of Hellenistic culture at the popular level. Someone like Jesus could preach with impunity as long as he stuck to the rural areas, as all our accounts indicate that he did.

But passover in Jerusalem was a whole nother kettle of fish. Josephus recounts one passover melee which began when a Roman soldier positioned on a wall turned and farted on the Jewish crowds below, who began to throw things at him. Other soldiers responded to the disturbance, which drew more angry Jews to the scene, and things quickly spiraled out of control.

The Romans always reinforced the town during passover, and dealt quickly and brutally with any disturbances.

And they had a general policy of making short work of Jewish miracle workers who drew crowds and prophecied the downfall of the current powers. (It's notable that Josephus identifies several of these as charlatans, but characterizes JtB as a righteous man.)
And Josephus was a General in the Jewish Revolt before he was captured and turned Translator, wasn't he?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus
Originally Posted by wiki
...Josephus was a descendant of the High Priest Jonathon. Jonathon may have been Alexander Jannaeus, the High Priest and Hasmonean ruler who governed Judea from 103 BC-76 BC. [11] He was born and raised in Jerusalem. Josephus was educated alongside his brother. [12]

He fought the Romans in the First Jewish-Roman War of 66–73 as a Jewish military leader in Galilee. Prior to this, however, he was sent as a young man in his early twenties for negotiations with Emperor Nero for the release of several Jewish priests. He later returned to Jerusalem and was drafted as a commander of the Galilean forces.[13] After the Jewish garrison of Yodfat fell under siege, the Romans invaded, killing thousands; the survivors committed suicide. According to Josephus, however, in circumstances that are somewhat unclear, Josephus found himself trapped in a cave with forty of his companions in July 67.
And a fan of JtB...

Quote:
It's not credible that Jesus scourged the Temple. But it is very likely that he created a disturbance there in protest of the sellers of animals and the money-changers (who were part of the establishment that fleeced rural farmers out of their meagre possessions in the name of God) and that this was the reason for his arrest and execution.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the Roman Christian church, which eventually came to dominate the new religion, shares many of its cultural characteristics with the Roman rulers of Jesus's day -- they were highly organized, absolutely authoritarian (bishops were to be obeyed just as one would obey the Lord himself) and tolerated no dissent. (Compare that with Paul's leaderless congregations, which were perpetually plagued with internal conflict, and it's easy to see why the Roman church won out.)

What is surprising is the Roman church's remarkably un-Roman obsession with sexual purity, especially celibacy.
Could this have been in reaction to the Early Christians' reputation for nude baptisms and drunken orgies?

Quote:
So, was Jesus continuing the traditions of JtB? Well, yes and no.

If he had been faultlessly continuing the tradition, then his followers would have been followers of JtB, just as the disciples of Paul considered themselves followers of Jesus rather than Paul, and the authors of 2nd and 3rd Isaiah considered themselves followers of Isaiah.

The fact that they considered themselves followers of Jesus, and that their literature went out of its way to portray John as a precursor, if not servant, of Jesus rather than his teacher, indicates clearly that Jesus made a break with John in some significant way(s). Perhaps Jesus disagreed with John on the timing of the arrival of the Kingdom of God on Earth, for example.
I think it might have been the idea of a Good Samaritan:

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Old 25th October 2011, 03:39 AM   #66
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Just off the top of my head:

No body of the famous Jesus, that most biblical scholars believe existed, has ever been found in 2000 years.

The ossuary of Caiphus who was the religious leader who gave Jesus to the Romans has been found recently.

And here is some more evidence:

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...46#post5959646

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...25#post6366925

Last edited by DOC; 25th October 2011 at 03:42 AM.
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Old 25th October 2011, 03:57 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by DOC View Post

No body of the famous Jesus, that most biblical scholars believe existed, has ever been found in 2000 years.

The ossuary of Caiphus who was the religious leader who gave Jesus to the Romans has been found recently.
You seem to be saying that Caiphus is more likely to have existed than Jesus.

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Old 25th October 2011, 04:37 AM   #68
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
So if JtB came up with the idea of Baptism to purify moral sins, whereas previously that could only be done by sacrificing livestock in the Temple, wouldn't that make the whole process a lot cheaper and allow more poor people to participate? How is that not economics?
Not really. The precedent of washing to purify oneself after certain stuff already existed in the Tanakh, and the pharisees had already taken it to the logical conclusion. I mean, if you can wash to purify oneself after touching a woman on her period, then it means god forgives stuff if you wash, so you can wash to have other sins forgiven too, right? Ok, ok, so their idea of "logical" isn't exactly the same as ours

But at any rate, we can see traces of the Pharisee obsession with cleanliness for God even in the gospels or Acts.

And by the time of the Roman occupation, a lot of people got the idea that, basically, God likes squeaky clean people so dipping in the river lots will make God like them really really lots, and kick the Romans' asses for them. Compulsive washing sects were popping up all over the damned place. Think like all the doomsayers and prophets in Life Of Brian, except all along the bank of the river and Sea Of Galilee.

John The Baptist would be just one of countless such nutters. Maybe a more charismatic sect leader than others, or maybe a more radical one, who knows? SOMETHING about him must have ticked off the king, but it likely wasn't his dipping people in the river. If it were just that, probably nobody would even know his name.
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Old 25th October 2011, 04:52 AM   #69
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
Everybody is so sure about this, why?

Have you read any of Robert Eisenman's stuff? http://www.roberteisenman.com/
Not Eisenman again. We've been through this at least twiice before.
Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
Is he as kooky as they say?
Yes. Possibly more so.

Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
I'm going to go all CT nutjob crazy for a moment and suggest that maybe the original group of Catholic Scholars who were tasked with translating and publishing the DSS, were less than enthusiastic in releasing their work to the public...One or two scrolls in Forty Years is a bit slow, even for Academe isn't it?
Dealt with before. The conspiratorial allegations are indeed nutjobbery.
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Old 25th October 2011, 05:48 AM   #70
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Originally Posted by anduin View Post
NEVER doubt Harry Potter.

http://kingscrossstation.com/?page_id=10

Muggle.

EXCELLENT....wow....undeniable proof .... I am a Harry-Potterist now....hail Voldemort....oops isn't that the wrong guy?
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Old 25th October 2011, 07:06 AM   #71
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Originally Posted by DOC View Post
Just off the top of my head:

No body of the famous Jesus, that most biblical scholars believe existed, has ever been found in 2000 years.

The ossuary of Caiphus who was the religious leader who gave Jesus to the Romans has been found recently.

And here is some more evidence:

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...46#post5959646

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...25#post6366925


Hey DOC….you really do not understand what constitutes EVIDENCE do you?

Queen Victoria's historicity is undeniable…….but concluding from it that Sherlock Holmes is a real guy because he actually worked for her in one of his cases IS STUPID.

King’s Cross station is a REAL PLACE….. but concluding that Harry Potter is a real guy because he went there in his chronicles IS STUPID.

Do you think people can fabricate stuff????? Here is a proof for platform 9ĺ at King’s Cross, also here is 221B Baker Street………are these real? Have they been fabricated by people ACCORDING to the story AFTER they read the story? Do you think someone could have FABRICATED some of the evidences you are talking about AFTER THE FACT???????

Imagine if thousands of years from now someone excavated King’s Cross and found the wall and sign in this picture and then concluded that it is conclusive evidence of the veracity of Harry Potter….how stupid would they be……do you understand DOC???


Imagine if some CHARLATAN FORGED stuff to sell to the public or to CONVINCE the public....is it possible that charlatans have been fabricating stuff to "PROVE" LIES for centuries now?

Here is a list of some Biblical hoaxes.

And here is the quintessential biblical hoaxer and forger.

Here are some more hoaxes. Read about some FAMOUS people who also carried out hoaxes.


Watch this video and LAUGH...
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Old 25th October 2011, 07:15 AM   #72
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
Everybody is so sure about this, why?

Have you read any of Robert Eisenman's stuff? http://www.roberteisenman.com/

Is he as kooky as they say? I'm going to go all CT nutjob crazy for a moment and suggest that maybe the original group of Catholic Scholars who were tasked with translating and publishing the DSS, were less than enthusiastic in releasing their work to the public...One or two scrolls in Forty Years is a bit slow, even for Academe isn't it?

Anyway, why does everyone say the Qumran Community were Essenes? They look more like Zealots to me. This is from a PDF I downloaded, ...10 Mb later: WARNING BIG PDF!!!
http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.e...ons%5D,_EN.pdf
The Zealots were intent on driving out the unclean people.

The Qumran community were an apocalyptic group that had a beef with the Temple.

Two very different groups.

Yeah, the publication of the scrolls was slow, but keep in mind that they were caught up in complex battles over who owned them, where they would be kept, who would have access to them, who had publication rights, and so forth. Then there's the problem of piecing together the jigsaw puzzle of fragments, no small task.

When one member of a team studying the scrolls jumped the gun and pronounced that there were references to a crucified messiah, the other members of the team quickly announced their opposition to this idea, and it didn't take long for it to be debunked. I have the cites in my home office and can post them later, if you like.
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Old 25th October 2011, 07:19 AM   #73
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
I guess we can also infer why Mr Baptist wasn't very popular with the Powers That Be in Jerusalem, if he was telling people that they didn't have to spend their money in the Temple to get on God's good side...

And then he went and lost his head over a woman... typical!
.
Many a year ago, on the tv, the story of JtB was done, with Eartha Kitt as Salome.... absolutely the best Salome ever!
When the head of the Baptist was brought to the king, she kissed it, and said.."I can kiss you now, Johanahan!"... he'd spurned her while he was in prison.
The king shouted... "KILL that woman!" And it came to pass... he'd kinda liked the Baptist...
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Old 25th October 2011, 07:20 AM   #74
Piggy
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Originally Posted by Brainache View Post
Could this have been in reaction to the Early Christians' reputation for nude baptisms and drunken orgies?
You do see a lot of exhortations to strict morality in early Xian writings, in some cases explicitly in order to provide a sort of living refutation to the scandalous rumors that were spread about Christians, and in other cases to ensure that Xians would not be in a state of spiritual impurity when the Son of Man returned.
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Old 25th October 2011, 07:41 AM   #75
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
You're kidding, right?

Everything?

The existence of Jerusalem, for example?

I mean, seriously....

Do you mind if I ask you, what is the purpose of this thread?
Did you catch the answer?
Quote:
No idea what you are talking about. Everyone else was able to get the purpose of the thread and answer intelligently. Appears that you missed the bus though.
When you introduce the meaning of "everything" by example to a fundy athe, he suddenly loses his wits and goes into the usual no comprende mode. LOL.
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Old 25th October 2011, 08:27 AM   #76
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Originally Posted by gnome View Post
I believe that the planet Earth really exists, it's mentioned in the Bible many times.

I'm pretty sure about the Red Sea, too.
I think the OP title "Evidence that substantiates ANYTHING that happened in the Bible" doesn't mean to question the existence of places where the biblical stories took place. Red Sea doesn't happen - it just exists - but the partition of the body of water is what the Bible claims have happened. The same goes for the Jerusalem argument mentioned elsewhere.
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Old 25th October 2011, 10:46 AM   #77
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Originally Posted by DOC View Post
No body of the famous Jesus, that most biblical scholars believe existed, has ever been found in 2000 years.

The ossuary of Caiphus who was the religious leader who gave Jesus to the Romans has been found recently.
Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
You seem to be saying that Caiphus is more likely to have existed than Jesus.

Hans
No, I think he's saying that the fact that Caiaphas' body was found proves that Caiaphas existed, and that the fact that Jesus' body was never found proves something else (probably that he was God). He takes it on faith that Jesus existed.
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Old 25th October 2011, 11:20 AM   #78
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Originally Posted by DOC View Post
No body of the famous Jesus, that most biblical scholars believe existed, has ever been found in 2000 years.
Good to know they found the bodies of the two robbers nailed up with him.

Or are you saying something else?


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Old 25th October 2011, 12:26 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by DOC View Post
Just off the top of my head:

No body of the famous Jesus, that most biblical scholars believe existed, has ever been found in 2000 years. . . . (snip) . . .
This statement can be taken two different ways:

1) Since his body has never been found, do we know he even existed?

However. I suspect what you are arguing is the second alternative.

2) Since his body has never been found, he was physically resurrected.

Neither assertion really holds up. We also don't have the bodies or even skeletal remains of most people who lived, unless they were specifically mummified. Thus, the lack of a body doesn't support either a conclusion they never existed nor an evidence of resurrection.

A a criminal condemned of treason, Jesus may not have even been given a decent burial. His body might have been thrown into a mass grave / refuse pit, covered with lime and subsequently covered with dirt, other bodies and rubbish.

However, let us say, for the sake of argument, that Jesus was buried in the family tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Even if we could find and identify such a tomb, how would we prove that the bones in a given ossuary really belonged to a given individual? Of course, the problem of finding and identifying such a tomb would likely be insurmountable. In the year 70, the Romans utterly flattened Jerusalem. The tomb may itself have been flattened, if it were a free-standing structure. Were it dug into a hillside, it would have been buried in rubble. Jerusalem was eventually rebuilt, minus its temple, but was destroyed again in 136, following the Bar Kochba revolt. After that, the Romans built a classical Greco-Roman city, complete with a temple to Zeus, which they called Colonia Aelia Capitolina, on top of the ruins.

It wasn't until the fourth century that Empress Helena, Constantine's mother, discovered what she thought was the True Cross, the actual instrument on which Jesus was crucified. Of course, it wasn't. Nor are any of the sites one might visit in Jerusalem today - the Via Dolorosa, the upper room where the Last Supper took place or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - in any way genuine. The upper room was flattened along with everything else in the year 70, built over and flattened again in 136, built over as again, etc.

The point then, of this archaeological excursion is that the absence of any remains identifiable as those of Jesus proves absolutely nothing.
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Old 25th October 2011, 11:48 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by Piggy View Post
One comment I'd like to make regarding that clip and its implications is that it demonstrates a subtle but important issue regarding the common skeptical approach to the Biblical literature, which is to separate it from all other artifacts and to treat it as something special and isolated which requires external verification, assuming that these external sources are somehow more reliable.
I don't know that that was really the point of the segment. It seemed to me more that she was stressing that if an ancient text is to be believed, it should be backed up by something other than itself. I don't think that she was claiming that the Babylonian records were more trustworthy than the bible, but that the existence of multiple sources from different cultures confirming one another was a strong piece of evidence in favor of the event having happened. That seems like a reasonable way of approaching any document that is filled with supernatural events and that clearly contains non-supernatural historical falsehoods.
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