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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Issue of Extraordinary Claims

Consider the following:
  • 1.Christians admit that there is no way to confirm Mary’s virginity at the time of Jesus’ conception.
  • 2.Christians admit that there is no way to confirm the ages at which Adam and Noah (if they even existed) died.
  • 3.Christians admit that there is no way to confirm that Jesus, after suffering the ravages of brain death, spontaneously came back to life, suffering none of death’s nasty symptoms.
  • 4.Finally, we see that Roman Catholics also are unable to confirm that the wine in the chalice has become a dead man’s blood.

I suppose, at last, this is the question: Should manifestly extraordinary claims, such as talking non-human animals and asexual human reproduction, be accepted by faith or biblical revelation?

The answer is clear: No.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. When religions' devious designs effectively preclude empirical study, faiths betray the flimsy foundation upon which their assertions rest.



What If God Smoked Cannabis?



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80 Comments:

Blogger pissed off patricia said...

For too many people it's easier to accept a claim than to face the reality. I call that sort of person mentally lazy.

7/3/07 2:46 am  
Anonymous Little Pope said...

READ THE BIBLE. YOU CAN FIND ANSWERS THERE.

7/3/07 3:25 am  
Blogger under_the_mercy said...

lol pope, good try...

pop: its also hard for many to face responsibility.

7/3/07 5:39 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE patricia: And of course that is why it is called faith. I just wish they would accept that, and leave the rest of us alone.

7/3/07 9:05 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE little:

I have read the babble. All I have is more questions.

7/3/07 9:06 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Re: #1 & #3 - More appropriately, Christians do not say that it is a matter of "faith" per se that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus rose from the dead.

Christians accept the scriptural record as being accurate with regard to this. In other words that these are historical events.

Christian "faith" has more to do with what the implications of these events are - that Jesus' resurrection from the dead has some meaning for people other than himself. Christians also believe that Lazarus raised from the dead but they do not ascribe any personal benefit to themselves from this.

It is just as unscientific to ignore the Scriptural record of these historical events as it is to assume that they are false without collecting evidence that proves them false.

7/3/07 9:07 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE under:

When you stop looking for a pass mark from your invisible father in the sky, you can talk to me about responsibility.

7/3/07 9:07 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE gadfly:

You have faith that the scriptural record as being accurate with regard to this. You have faith that these are historical events.

I don't.

RE: "It is just as unscientific to ignore the Scriptural record of these historical events as it is to assume that they are false without collecting evidence that proves them false."

How does one test for supernatural claims? Show me the test and I will perform it.

7/3/07 10:32 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Gadfly: that these are historical events

Were that the case, then there'd be some supporting documentation, other than the stories written in the bible. The very best the bible can do for us is provide second hand accounts of these events. On top of that, the bible has been proven to be wildly inaccurate historically.

It is just as unscientific to ignore the Scriptural record of these historical events as it is to assume that they are false without collecting evidence that proves them false

Trouble is that we can't find any evidence to prove them true either and asserting that they are true without providing evidence other than hearsay is about as unscientific as it gets.

Sorry Gadfly, but unsubstantiated stories are nothing but hearsay and believing in them requires faith of an extraordinary kind.

7/3/07 10:38 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Ted, Beep, et al.
What do you do about the other Christian writings dating back as early as 50-100 ad which reference the NT and speak of Jesus in terms the NT uses.

e.g. The writings of Clement, The epistle to Diognetus, The Epistle of Polycarp, the Didache & the Shepherd of Hermas (this last is the most disputed as far as being early 2nd century).

These are early writings that are not considered canonical but are from a period overlapping the NT writings.

Do you just ignore them?

7/3/07 12:11 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: gadfly

The gospels are considered the definitive account of jesus, his life and work. So far, you have been unable to show me their origin.

And no one knows who wrote them, only to whom they are attributed.

7/3/07 12:29 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

The argument is shifting a bit - from whether or not the NT dates back to the first century to who wrote them.

Do you accept internal evidence? In other words - do you accept that Luke wrote his gospel & Acts and John wrote his?

Further, it is not a point of faith essential to Christianity that Matthew wrote the gospel attributed to him or that Mark wrote that one. It is what they say which is important.

Justin Martyr (early 2nd century) quotes Matthew pretty much exactly in chapter xiv. So that is just one instance of external support for that particular gospel (that's based on a quick scan. There's probably more that could be offered).

7/3/07 12:40 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Chapter xv in Justin not xiv - didn't see the chapter change in the page break.

7/3/07 12:43 pm  
Anonymous ted said...

Gadfly: 50-100 ad

Jesus died in 0ad. Eye witness accounts written/told 50 years after the event have never really managed to pass as fact in anything else. Why in this?

do you accept that Luke wrote his gospel & Acts

Both of these books are attributed to annonymous sources although it is possible that they were written by the same person. They were both orginally sent to a character by the name of Theophilus (we don't know who he was) and were both written about around the same time, prossibly as early as 59-63ad but more likely 70-80ad.

Jesus is supposed to have died in 0ad, 5ad at the latest. So if we assume that the author was indeed an eyewitness to the events, at the very best he could have been no more than a child at the time and I don't recall there being any children among the apostles, so it's doubtful to me that Luke was the author. It's an account of an account, third hand at best.

John is a little different because it is indeed attributed to the Apostle John, yet most scholars date it to around 85ad, along with 1 John. So once again, it's doubtful that it was written by an eye witness.

Further, it is not a point of faith essential to Christianity that Matthew wrote the gospel attributed to him or that Mark wrote that one. It is what they say which is important

Perhaps to someone with faith, but I'm afraid that "who wrote what and why" is extremely important when trying to ascertain or prove authenticity.

It would seem from what you said there though, that to a christian such as yourself, it is indeed "a matter of faith".

Christians do not say that it is a matter of "faith"

Your words betray you Gadfly...

7/3/07 1:41 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

The Didache, or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, is a second century document, dated around 120. It is generally considered a "pious fraud," meaning that it was fictitiously written in the name of the apostles for a pious reason.

Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. He makes more than 300 quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the four Gospels.

Rev. Giles says: 'The very names of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are never mentioned by him (Justin) - do not occur once in all his writings.'"

In A Short History of the Bible, Keeler says, "The books [canonical gospels] are not heard of till 150 A.D., that is, till Jesus had been dead nearly a hundred and twenty years. No writer before 150 A.D. makes the slightest mention of them."

Mangasarian states: "The church historian, Mosheim, writes that, 'The Christian Fathers deemed it a pious act to employ deception and fraud.'

[Ecclesiastical Hist., Vol. I, p. 347.] Again, he says: 'The greatest and most pious teachers were nearly all of them infected with this leprosy.' Will not some believer tell us why forgery and fraud were necessary to prove the historicity of Jesus. . . .

Another historian, Milman, writes that, 'Pious fraud was admitted and avowed by the early missionaries of Jesus.'

'It was an age of literary frauds,' writes Bishop Ellicott, speaking of the times immediately following the alleged crucifixion of Jesus.

Dr. Giles declares that, 'There can be no doubt that great numbers of books were written with no other purpose than to deceive.'

And it is the opinion of Dr. Robertson Smith that, 'There was an enormous floating mass of spurious literature created to suit party views.'"

In one of his works, Eusebius provides this handy chapter entitled: "How it may be Lawful and Fitting to use Falsehood as Medicine, and for the Benefit of those who Want to be Deceived."

7/3/07 8:30 pm  
Blogger Coffee Messiah said...

That following all of this and seeing the state that people deal or don't with others, leaves me no doubt, that to follow any of this, isn't a path to be taken or looked up to! ; (

7/3/07 11:00 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Ted -- Just a quick question - I am on my way to work.

Why do you say Jesus died in 0 A.D.? He is normally attributed with being born somewhere between 05 BC - 01 AD. His death is normally attributed to about 30-33 AD.

Is there a source somewhere that I am not familiar with that shifts that dating?

7/3/07 11:07 pm  
Anonymous gadfly said...

Beep - I will respond later when I have time - in the interval>

1. Could you provide a couple of references for these quotes - I am not familiar with some of the names.

2. On a personal side - when you say you are a "stand up philosopher" does that mean you have published works - would you send me an email or otherwise let me know what titles are out there - I will purchase one and publish a review if you wish.

3. As you well know - we can each pull up secondary sources and quote people on opposite sides of the fence all day.

I'll respond with particulars later.

8/3/07 12:20 am  
Anonymous ted said...

Gadfly: Is there a source somewhere that I am not familiar with that shifts that dating?

No, there isn't, I made a mistake. That'll teach me to write 2 posts at once...

8/3/07 8:33 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

The term "stand-up philosopher" comes from the Mel Brooks movie 'History of the World Part 1'.

8/3/07 9:06 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

'It was an age of literary frauds,' writes Bishop Ellicott, speaking of the times immediately following the alleged crucifixion of Jesus.

This is really a weird opinion to have. If you read the gospels and the accounts of the teachings and parables of Christ, it is obvious to me (maybe not as obvious to others) that Jesus said some really radical things.
Often times, the disciples look rather foolish in the texts. They ask Jesus questions that have nothing to do with what Jesus was actually talking about. Jesus has to explain himself more than once in order to get the disciples to understand the deeper, spiritual issues Jesus is discussing.
Also, some of things Jesus says are difficult for people to practice--like loving your enemies and turning the other cheek.
Why would the authors of the gospels make those things up? Why would they want to make the disciples look ignorant or foolish by recording their questions to Jesus?
Why would they include Jesus' more difficult challenges? Why not make righteousness more humanly possible?

8/3/07 9:18 am  
Blogger Dikkii said...

Ted wrote:

John is a little different because it is indeed attributed to the Apostle John, yet most scholars date it to around 85ad, along with 1 John. So once again, it's doubtful that it was written by an eye witness.

Ted, just to complicate things, John and also 1 John are usually attributed to a guy named "John the Evangelist".

Traditional opinion appears evenly split as to whether John the Evangelist and John the Apostle were one and the same, although given a timeframe of 90-100 AD for these, it would appear that John the Apostle could not possibly have written it.

What we do know, though is that the Gospel according to John was modified and edited a lot less than the other gospels, with a few exceptions, most notably that notorious pious fraud known as the Johannine Comma.

8/3/07 9:37 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

1. N. Feldmeth. "The Anti-Nicene Church." Class lecture. Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary. 1998; CCEL Intro. Teaching Twelve.

2.'The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' - Edward Gibbon.

3. 'In The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You to Read' - John Remsburg

4. Ecclesiastical History, vol. i. - J. L. Mosheim

5. Rev. Dr. Giles, 'Hebrew and Christian Records,' vol. ii.

6. Ecclesiastical History, vol. i. - J. L. Mosheim

8. Gieseler, 'Ecclesiastical History', vol, i.

9. Milman's 'Gibbon,' vol. ii.

10. Cambridge Essays for 1856 - Bishop Ellicott

8/3/07 9:52 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Beep: Re: 'The very names of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are never mentioned ....

...."The books [canonical gospels] are not heard of till 150 A.D., that is, till Jesus had been dead nearly a hundred and twenty years. No writer before 150 A.D. makes the slightest mention of them."

Just a few quick comments:
Just because a writer does not mention the name of the book he is quoting doesn't mean the quote is not recognizable by those who have heard it before.

In Lincoln's second inaugural he quotes Matthew but does not give the citation. He knew that everyone would recognize the quote.

Clement - whom we have already mentioned (30-100 ad) does quote the NT in at least four places (chapters 13, 14, 36 & 43, I can provide the quotes if you like). He does not give the citation but he is writing to the Corinthians, a church founded by Paul and probably visited by Peter. These are folks who already know the quote.

Tatian's harmony of the gospels (latest date 170 ad) is an harmony of all four gospels which means that those gospels were well known by that time and there was some question about how they fit together.

8/3/07 9:56 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie:
This is really a weird opinion to have.
Actually, no it isn't. There was the Acts of Pilate (aka the Gospel of Nicodemus), the Gnostic gospels, the gospel of the infancy - it seemed that anyone who could write was drawing up all sorts of nonsense. 3 versions of the Gospel of Peter (the Ethiopian version had the gates of hell thrown open at the end, & everyone got to go to heaven), gospel of Mary Magdalene. There was even a lot of discussion as to whether or not Revelation should even be included. I think the Samaritans even pitched in their 2¢ worth in.
Ergo, there were the councils of Nicene, Jamnia, & Trent, if memory serves.
It was a venerable cornucopia of pseudipigrapha.

8/3/07 9:58 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

One more thing - I am not certain why the emphasis on the gospels. No one disputes that they are not the first writings of the NT.

Generally I hold that James and the first Pauline letters appeared somewhere around 40-55 ad. The second Pauline letters, the Gospel of Mark, somewhere around 55-60, Matthew and Luke around 60-70 along with Hebrews. I think John wrote his Gospel somewhere in the 70's and I think he was still alive around 90 AD when the book of Revelation was written.

The reason for the Gospels is pretty plain. The synoptics were written because the apostles began to be killed off and it was prudential to preserve their teaching. John was written to add further dimensions to what was written in the synoptics.

8/3/07 10:02 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Just for historical accuracy
RE: Ergo, there were the councils of Nicene, Jamnia, & Trent, if memory serves. it was a venerable cornucopia of pseudipigrapha.

Council of Nicea was 325 AD - it was to address the issue of Jesus' divinity.

Jamnia was a Jewish council, not Christian, called to re-establish the Rabbinical traditions after the fall of the Temple

Trent was a Roman Catholic Council called in the 16th century to respond to the Reformation.

8/3/07 10:06 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

The Epistles of Clement often referred to as 1 Clement and 2 Clement are two letters, addressed to the Christians in the city of Corinth from the early second century. They were not accepted in the canonical New Testament, but they are part of the Apostolic Fathers collection. Neither is it clear that they were written by Pope Clement I, as is traditionally believed.

The letter does not contain Clement's name, instead being addressed by "the Church of God which sojourneth in Rome to the Church of God which sojourneth in Corinth."

A second epistle, written in Rome in the middle of the second century, has been traditionally ascribed to Clement, but recent scholarship discredits his authorship. Some of the citations appear to derive from the Greek Gospel of the Egyptians.

Examined closely, the epistle is clearly less of a genuine letter and more a tract on maintaining communal discipline and priestly authority. It attributes to the Apostles themselves foreknowledge of career rivalry among Christians – who consequently institute "Apostolic succession" to maintain the peace of the Church (Clement 44). This alone suggests a 2nd century date.

The epistle, important as it is in the gathering up of papal authority, says nothing of an historical Jesus. Its fancies include reference to the "500-year-old phoenix bird".

"There is a bird, which is named the phoenix. This, being the only one of its kind, liveth for five hundred years; and when it hath now reached the time of its dissolution that it should die, it maketh for itself a coffin of frankincense and myrrh and the other spices, into the which in the fulness of time it entereth, and so it dieth." – The Epistle of St Clement to the Corinthians

"Clement" (or, rather, the coterie of pseudonymous fraudsters) authored further nonsense throughout the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries, notably the Clementine Recognitions.

8/3/07 11:03 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Tatian's harmony of the gospels (latest date 170 ad) is an harmony of all four gospels - and is one of the first, if not THE first substantial evidence of a written gospel.

A Syriac harmony of all four gospels called the 'Diatessaron' was created in AD 172. In Syriac this gospel was called 'The Gospel of the Mixed'. The Diatessaron was attributed by ancient writers to Tatian. Eusebius, Epiphanius and Theodore bar Koni all mention the Diatessaron and they report that Tatian was a Christian from the land of Assyria who studied in Rome as a disciple of Justin Martyr. No manuscript copy of the Diatessaron gospel survives.

The early date of the four gospels translated from Greek into Syriac, (before 323 AD). These were called 'The Separated Gospels' in Syriac to distinguish them from the earlier Diatessaron gospel harmony.

All the Gospels were originally anonymous, as were also 1 Clement and the Epistle of Barnabas. Of the latter, he says, "The author is but its instrument, the channel through which it flows to the readers of his writing." Of the transition from anonymity to pseudonymity Aland surprisingly finds the key in the Didache. Since the writer knew himself to be, and was acknowledged as, a charismatic, "the written word received the same credence as the charismatically spoken word, and thus the Didache achieved recognition in the Church of those days". In other words, the work was attributed to the twelve apostles because of the evidence of its charismatic character.

"Charismatic character" essentially means - it sounded like it was said by someone who was inspired. Or my version, if it sounds like a good idea - we'll claim it as divinely inspired and attach an authorship to it later.

Irenaeus (Greek: c. 130–202) Against Heresies (Ante-Nicene Fathers): "It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the 'pillar and ground' of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sitteth upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit."

Regarding Tatian: Concerning the date and place of his birth, little is known beyond what he tells about himself in his Oratio ad Graecos (Ante-Nicene Fathers, that he was born in "the land of the Assyrians"; Current scholarly consensus is that he died c. 185, perhaps in Assyria.

Irenaeus (Greek: c. 130–202) decided that their should be four gospels because "there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds."

Tatian's (died supposedly in 185 CE) His "Diatesseron", is not four gospels but is described as a harmony of the gospels.

Where is the evidence of the existence of the four gosples prior to this date? It seems more likely to me that the "Diatesseron" was expounded upon in order to create separate gospels which fitted the ideas of Irenaeus.

All the Gospels were originally anonymous. Authorship was attributed at later dates.

In other words, the gospels are "attributed" to people who were decided by religious decree to be "apostolic".

"Attributed" doesn't mean that those people definitely wrote them, nor does it mean that they witnessed anything, nor does it mean that the people to whom the works were attributed, actually existed.

8/3/07 11:46 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

The early "christian writers" display an inability to impartially decide what is "baby" and what is "bathwater."

That they wrote and concocted what they believed to be "inspired dissertations" suggests that the authenticity of much of the early writings upon which the gospel is based is highly questionable.

The huge amount of pseudepigrapha and apochropha are testimony to their inability to ascertain truth from fiction.

8/3/07 12:08 pm  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

KA--
Sorry, you lost me.
:)

8/3/07 12:19 pm  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie:
Sorry, dear.
The short version: there was a whole lotta forgery goin' on in those days.
Where did I lose you exactly?

8/3/07 4:07 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Re: A Syriac harmony of all four gospels called the 'Diatessaron'

Exactly - an harmony is an attempt to take existing documents (in this case all four gospels) and meld them into a single, usually chronological, sequence. The Gospels were in place, widely read, obviously being discussed and this was an attempt to meld them together. Dating of early documents is fluid... since Tatian died in 172 I imagine it was several years earlier.

The Diatesseron was not first.

RE: Clement's epistle - the point is that it is or should be dated as early as 80 ad. It quotes the NT in several places. Yes it speaks of the Phoenix but it was not unusual (even in the NT) for people to draw on secular analogies. I make no claims about it other than it does point toward an early date for the NT writings.

The writings of Paul predate the Gospels and he claims to have (1) seen the Lord, (2) spoken with the apostles. He claims the Lord rose from the dead and that he knew of 500 people who had seen him.

These are early writings which are during the time frame immediately after Jesus' death and resurrection.

9/3/07 12:07 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Re: All the Gospels were originally anonymous. Authorship was attributed at later dates.

Can't say I agree with you there. As far as I know every copy or fragment we have has the "kata Matthios" or "according to Matthew (or Mark)" as a heading.

9/3/07 12:11 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

I'm aware that some web sites have Tatians death later than 172. Brittanica says 173 and Early Christian Writings says 172. Brittanica is confident that he wrote the Diatesseron

9/3/07 12:19 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Regarding who wrote the Letter to the Corinthians: Brittanica says

originally titled Letter To The Church Of Corinth; also called I Clement, a letter to the Christian Church in Corinth from the church of Rome, traditionally ascribed to and almost certainly written by St. Clement I of Rome, c. AD 96. It is extant in a 2nd-century Latin translation, which is possibly the oldest surviving Latin Christian work. Regarded as scripture by many 3rd- and 4th-century Christians, it was transmitted in manuscripts with a sermon known as the Second Letter of Clement, written c. 125–140 by an unknown author.


Note - the unknown author spoken of here is about the second letter not the first.

9/3/07 12:23 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "Exactly - an harmony is an attempt to take existing documents (in this case all four gospels) and meld them into a single, usually chronological, sequence."

It was called a harmony in retropect. Remember that authorship and the original title of many of the early christian writings is unknown. The early christian fathers fiddled with the writings and each other's writings to such an extent that no one is absolutely sure who wrote what.

Writings were included based on whether or not they were deemed to be "insprired" (whatever that means - but it certainly is a subjective process where it is just based on an opinion.

There has been much controversy as to the identity of the Clement to whom the first Epistle is attributed. In early days he was supposed to be the Clement mentioned in the Epistle to the Philippians (4:3), [128:2] but this is now generally doubted or denied, and the authenticity of the Epistle has, indeed, been called in question both by earlier and later critics. It is unnecessary to detail the various traditions regarding the supposed writer, but we must point out that the Epistle itself makes NO MENTION OF THE AUTHOR'S NAME.

It merely PURPORTS to be addressed by "The Church of God which sojourns at Rome to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth"; but in the Codex Alexandrinus the title of "The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians" is added at the end. Clement of Alexandria calls the supposed writer the "Apostle Clement"; Origen reports that many also ascribed to him the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews; and Photius mentions that he was likewise said to be the writer of the Acts of the Apostles. We know that, until a comparatively late date, this Epistle was quoted as Holy Scripture, and was publicly read in the churches at the Sunday meetings of Christians. It has, as we have seen, a place amongst the canonical books of the New Testament in the Codex Alexandrinus, but it did not long retain that position in the canon, for, although in the Apostolic Canons of the sixth or seventh century both Epistles appear, yet in the Stichometry of Nicephorus, a work of the ninth century, derived, however, as Credner has demonstrated, from a Syrian catalogue of the fifth century, both Epistles are classed among the APOCRYPHA.

Great uncertainty prevails AS TO THE DATE at which the Epistle was written. Reference is supposed to be made to it by the so-called Epistle of Polycarp, but, owing to the probable INAUTHENTICITY of that work itself, no weight can be attached to this circumstance. The first certain reference to it is by Hegesippus, in the SECOND HALF OF THE SECOND CENTURY, mentioned by Eusebius.

The great mass of critics, therefore, have decided against the earlier date of the episcopate of Clement, and assign the composition of the Epistle to the end of the first century (A.D. 95-100). Others, however, date it still later. There is no doubt that the great number of Epistles and other writings falsely circulated in the name of Clement may well excite suspicion as to the authenticity of this Epistle also, which is far from unsupported by internal proofs.

I am not interested in Paul, I want the origin of the gospels and specifically historical reference to Matthew, Mark, Luke and john which is not peppered with pious fraud. The gospels WERE ATTRIBUTED WITH THEIR NAMES. WHO WROTE THEM? FOR WHAT REASONS AND UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES.

My suspicion is that there is inconclusive evidence to suggest that the gopels existed BEFORE the early church fathers decided to create documentaiton to assist in "fleshing out" the supposed life of jesus.

9/3/07 1:00 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

gadfly:
He claims the Lord rose from the dead and that he knew of 500 people who had seen him.
Excuse me, but repeating that sophistry doesn't make it any better of a point.
Who took the head count? Who were these people? Got names? Got proof? Oh, right, we should just take Paul's word for it.
I can find 500 people back in the day who'd say that Lizzie Borden 'took an axe, & gave her parents X amount of whacks', it doesn't mean they were right. Lizzie was found innocent of all charges.
I can find 500 people who believe something ridiculous in this day & age, doesn't lend it credence.
"If a million people say a foolish thing, it's still a foolish thing." - Anatole France.

9/3/07 3:58 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

KA--
Well, I was talking about the weird contradiction between a man made religion and a religion that doesn't make sense to us. I was saying that why would men sit down and make up the teachings of Jesus when they go against our human nature and then I gave examples--revolutionary ideologies like loving your enemy or turning the other cheek. Jesus also talked of sin like a nasty thought is the same as adultry in God's sight or a hateful thought is the same as murder--why would men right such unattainable righteousness?
It would make better sense if the rules were easier to follow--then i could understand why you think some dudes made it up.
You didnt address these points in your response. So you lost me.

9/3/07 4:40 am  
Anonymous gadfly said...

Re: The great mass of critics, therefore, have decided against the earlier date of the episcopate of Clement, and assign the composition of the Epistle to the end of the first century (A.D. 95-100).

OK - not sure what this is supposed to mean. I have said that he died c. 100 ad. I think he may have written the letter as early as 80 but if you want to quibble about 15 years then I'll grant it.

The point is - this early document quotes or paraphrases the NT at least four times. That, along with the Diatesseron argues for existing NT documents dating to the first century.

9/3/07 5:58 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie:
Well, I was talking about the weird contradiction between a man made religion and a religion that doesn't make sense to us.
All religions are man-made.
I was saying that why would men sit down and make up the teachings of Jesus when they go against our human nature and then I gave examples--revolutionary ideologies like loving your enemy or turning the other cheek.
You realize that these aren’t revolutionary by any means – the Golden rule predates JC by a few centuries? Buddhism is very pacifistic in nature (Theravada).
Jesus also talked of sin like a nasty thought is the same as adultry in God's sight or a hateful thought is the same as murder--why would men right such unattainable righteousness?
Again, this isn’t anything new at all. Hinduism/Buddhism has similar platitudes in place. Again, predating JC.
It would make better sense if the rules were easier to follow--then i could understand why you think some dudes made it up.
Since when has humanity ever done anything the easy way?
My point here was that the whole situation was a mess. It still is. & there’s been too many cooks in the kitchen, then & now. For an allegedly ‘definitive moment’ in the history of Man, it defies certitude. The book in question was under lock ‘n key for centuries. Interpolations abound, both from w/in & w/out.
You didnt address these points in your response. So you lost me.
Sorry.
Why would the authors of the gospels make those things up? Why would they want to make the disciples look ignorant or foolish by recording their questions to Jesus?
In any cult of personality, the head honchos have to be above those they lead. History abounds w/such anecdotes. Note the apostles didn’t really ‘record’ anything – it’s all 3rd person narrative. To have the students as smart as the instructor? Not much of an instructor there.

9/3/07 8:16 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE gadfly

"The point is - this early document quotes or paraphrases the NT at least four times. That, along with the Diatesseron argues for existing NT documents dating to the first century."

The point is that no one is sure of who wrote it.

The point is that no one is sure when it was written and for what purposes.

The point is that the jury is out as to its date.

The point is that there are so many Clemtentine pious frauds that all of the writings are questionable.

The point is that it is classified as apocrypha.

The point is that how can something classified as apocrypha, be considered the basis of the gospels.

The point is that neither Matthew, Mark, Luke or John are mentioned in it and yet they are considered to be the first hand accounts of jesus's life.

9/3/07 11:42 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: The Diatesseron

It mentions apostles, but not Mark or Luke. The John mentioned is John the Baptist not John the Evangelist, or John the Apostle.

So, the only apostle from the 4 gospels who is mentioned is Matthew.

The apostles mentioned are - Simon (Cephas), Andrew (Cephas's brother), James, John, Phillip, Bartholmew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James, Judas the Iscariot.

"And he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve; and they are those whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Cephas, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip and Bartholomew, and Matthew and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon which was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas the Iscariot, being he that had betrayed him. And Jesus went down with them and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and the great multitude of people. And these twelve he chose to be with him, and that he might send them to preach, and to have power to heal the sick and to cast out devils." - The Diatesseron


Victor of Capua was completely in doubt as to the authorship of the compilation (Diatesseron), which had come in his way, and as to whether he should ascribe it to Ammonius or to Tatian. Finally, upon mere conjecture, he decided in favour of Tatian.

Victor was not certain that the harmony he used was identical with the Diatesseron of Tatian. The discovery of the text of the latter work and recent investigation have made it clear that this Latin harmony used by Victor was drawn up about A.D. 500. The anonymous author of this work simply substituted the Latin of St. Jerome's Vulgate for the Greek of Tatian, and at times changed the order or inserted additional passages.

We have no external evidence that the original Diatessaron was the work ascribed to Tatian and, as has already been fully stated, nothing could be more difficult than the identification of an anonymous compilation of this kind.

There is no extant copy of Tatian's Diatessaron, so reconstruction of this "early Gospel harmony" has had to resort to generally medieval translations, an always imperfect road for the textual critic. While the original language of the Diatessaron is still debated, it is widely accepted that Tatian, a native Mesopotamian educated in Rome, wrote or trans- lated it into Syriac at a very early stage, for the Diatessaron was the Gospel for the Syriac-speaking church for several centuries.

More than likely in my opinion, 'The Diatessaron' was used as the basis to create the four gospels as christians now know them.


So, what have we got?

1. No extant copy of the Diatessaron.

2. No way to verify who wrote it.

3. No way to verify who wrote it and no extant copy means no way to date it.

4. It is also termed apocrypha.

9/3/07 12:56 pm  
Anonymous brad said...

BeepBeep, you have got to check out this "agnostic christian" versus fundamentalist discussion:

http://krichert.wordpress.com/2007/03/07/old-lady-dirty-looks/#comment-43

9/3/07 6:22 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Re: "in my opinion" ... used to create..

I personally know of no scholar, atheist or otherwise, that holds this opinion, however I would like to know if there are some.

Occam's Razor would say that the simplest explanation would be that the gospels pre-existed the Dia... because what useful purpose would be served from creating four separate accounts from one unified whole?

No one is more demanding of textual issues than textual critics who spend their lives doing it.

http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/vol01/Baarda1996rev.html

I prefer using resources from my library but perhaps this one might help. These guys cannot be considered Evangelical Christians by any stretch of the imagination. Their purpose in life is to deconstruct the NT. There is probably plenty of ammo at this site for you to throw at Evangelicals.

But even these guys thinks the Dia was around 170 and that the general writings of the NT were all in place and accepted by that time.

10/3/07 3:40 am  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Thanks for answering my questions, KA. I see where you're coming from now. However, Christians believe you get one shot in life to be like Christ and Buddhism allows for many chances through reincarnation. They can afford to set the bar high for man because you have lots of opportunities to reach Nirvana, right?

10/3/07 4:20 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

sadie:
However, Christians believe you get one shot in life to be like Christ and Buddhism allows for many chances through reincarnation.
As an atheist, I only get 1 shot too. Time for a chorus of "I gotta be meeee." hehehehe.
They can afford to set the bar high for man because you have lots of opportunities to reach Nirvana, right?
Sure, but I think it's viewed as more of an investment. It's not an automatic 'do-over': there's 3 kinds of karma: akarma, karma, vikarma. Akarma are the actions that help someone rise above the cycle of rebirth, karma's the rut (where you stay), & vikarma are acts that make you go backwards.
I think that's from the Upanishads.
So in reincarnation, you get a sort of 'interest' built up in the afterlife.

10/3/07 7:27 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Occam's Razor would say the meaning of life is life.

Christian scholars think that the Dia was around prior to the gospels. Well, that is a shock.

I see nothing to convince me that the writers of the gospels were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There is no record of their existence outside "religious history" - and they seem to appear from the mind meanderings of the early church leaders, who, by all acounts, had a very unprofessional way of determining what should be part of the new religion and what shouldn't. They used an incredible amount of "creative licence" which was puntuated far too often, with blatant acts of pious fraud.

That they made up huge swathes of whatever they deemed to be "apostolic" or "inspired" in order to promote and promolgate the new religion which afforded them GREAT political power, I have little doubt.

That the sections of the Roman Empire fought amongs themselves as to what was "religiously inspired" and competed with each other to see who could perpetrate the most acts of pious fraud, I have little doubt about either.

10/3/07 6:37 pm  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

I see nothing to convince me that the writers of the gospels were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There is no record of their existence outside "religious history"
******
That they made up huge swathes of whatever they deemed to be "apostolic" or "inspired" in order to promote and promolgate the new religion which afforded them GREAT political power, I have little doubt.

"Mark" "Luke "John" and "Matthew" were not the "real" men that wrote the gospels but "they" stood to gain political power?
What are you saying? Were they real men or not?

12/3/07 2:29 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Sadie, Ask gadfly.

12/3/07 9:54 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

If gadfly is honest, he will acknowledge that there is no evidence for the existence of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John outside of religious claims for their existence.

The books [canonical gospels] are not heard of till 150 A.D., that is, till Jesus had been dead nearly a hundred and twenty years. No writer before 150 A.D. makes the slightest mention of them.

In reality, the four gospels selected for inclusion in the New Testament do not make any appearance in the literary and archaeological record until the last quarter of the 2nd century, between 170 and 180 C.E., and even then they are not much mentioned for a couple of decades. In this regard, Church Fathers and archbishop of Constantinople John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) stated that the names traditionally attached to the canonical gospels were first designated at the end of the second century.

13/3/07 11:14 am  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

I miss my Pooh Bear pipe...

13/3/07 8:58 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

lol michael

13/3/07 11:47 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Beep:
RE -

If gadfly is honest, he will acknowledge that there is no evidence for the existence of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John outside of religious claims for their existence.

The books [canonical gospels] are not heard of till 150 A.D., that is, till Jesus had been dead nearly a hundred and twenty years. No writer before 150 A.D. makes the slightest mention of them.

Had not checked this thread for a while so I just found this.

Now that honesty is being challenged, I seem to remember that your original position was that the gospels were fabricated in the 3rd century on a previous thread. Now you maintain, counter to every other scholar that I know of, atheist or otherwise, that the gospels were fabricated from the dia... rather than it being a synthesis or harmony of them.

Against such authorities as the Brittanica, you maintain the Clement was probably not the writer of Corinthian epistle which is the only way you can cling to the idea that there is no reference to the gospels prior to 150 ad.

15/3/07 6:47 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I maintain that the early church fathers made up a lot of stuff and attributed it to whoever they pulled out of their half baked brains.

The evidence of the early church fathers suggests that fraud wasn't fraud, if it was fraud perpetrated in promoting the new religion. They even had to coin a term for it - "pious fraud." Or a lie/lies told for the supposed better good. Sounds a lot like Plato's "Noble Lie" to me and just as immoral and dodgy.

I don't trust any of them and a quick little look at church history should be enough to make other people's warning bells go off as well.

There is no evidence of the gospels as we know them prior to around 300CE (as per my original post)

There is scant evidence of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as well until the church fathers competed with each other to see who could make up the most "inspirational" stories.

The Jesus story needed "fleshing out" - and they were happy and willing accomplices to it.

15/3/07 6:27 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Beep; Re - your last comment

In summary- there exists among scholars a range of opinions about how much, if any, of the Gospels as we have them date back to the first century.

What can be said is that there are a few who hold that all is so date able, most hold that some of them is, and another few that none of them is.

Among those who hold that some of them is so date able, the largest percentage hold that most of the writings are so date able - the disputed passages are those like the longer ending of Mark & the pericope of the woman caught in adultery in John.

Within this continuum the scholars do not consider it a matter of intellectual "honesty" to differ with one another.

You side with one side, one of the extremes. I side with the majority in the middle.

It is not a matter of intellectual honesty.

16/3/07 12:11 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Oh, but it IS ALL about intellectual honesty. For thousands of years prior to the creation of christianity, mankind in various societies and cultures were documenting the everyday lives of their culture along with the religious beliefs, tax records, history, business transactions and accounts of trade.

I will be generous. Let's say that the gospels in written form originated in 150CE. That is still approximately 120 years after his supposed death.

Yet the oldest known copies of the written gospels are not until the mid 4th century. These are the oldest known copies of the christian bible and the new testament which includes the gospels.

These are the oldest known versions of what christians call the "new testament."

The following old Greek manuscripts contain most of the Bible or the NT:

1. The Vatican manuscript 350 AD= Bible.
2. Codex Sinaiticus 350 AD= NT.
3. Codex Alexandrinus 425 AD= Bible.
4. Manuscript of Ephraem 450 AD= NT.

What did they do for the 120 years after the supposed death of jesus? Talk about it a lot before they wrote down SPECIFICALLY what it is claimed jesus and these supposed apostles said?

NO other ancient culture that I am aware of is this lax in presenting "the facts" about its religion.

Unless, of course, they had a lot of religious writings to plagerize and to make up in the mean time.

16/3/07 3:36 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

I have responded to this list of manuscripts before. These are all Codices (sp?) - they are the earliest collection of books bound together that we have. That does not mean that we do not have other documents that date significantly earlier.

Just one example that I mentioned earlier is the Bodmer papyrii which contain extensive portions of the gospels (http://www.cronaca.com/archives/004901.html

16/3/07 11:15 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Given that existing fragments that we have date no earlier than 170 AD which is disputed, still it is ridiculous to assume that we have a copy dating to the very date it was written, perhaps even the original.

Secondly, you apply a double standard. I know of no other ancient documents, such as the writings of Aristotle for example, who are held to the standard of having copies dating back to within 100 years of the writing. A supposedly "scientific" approach to warrant should apply equally. Whether one accepts the content of the documents as authoritative or not, the criteria applied to determine the date of writing should be the same.

Unless of course the desire to prove something wrong removes objectivity from all considerations.

16/3/07 11:21 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Thirdly, I asked before if you accept internal evidence concerning the writings.

Who wrote Matthew & Mark? is a question debated inside Christianity and out. The authorship of Luke and John not nearly as much. John speaks of himself as an eyewitness reporting what his eyes have seen and his hands have touched (1Jn. 1:1, cf. John 21:24). Luke shifts to first person plural in the book of Acts when he speaks of events when he himself was present. His Gospel opens with a stated intention to write things more clearly concerning things about which other authors have written.

16/3/07 11:28 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

The idea of a massive con-job, writing a set of gospels which have such a fundamental continuity between them yet which differ in details is ludicrous on face value.

It would require an organization and control of materials which simply did not exist earlier than about 400 AD at the earliest and probably not before Pope Gregory in the 600's.

Like most conspiracy theories it presumes way too much. You have never been able to account for the other Christian religious traditions, such as the Coptic and Byzantine, which honor the same scriptures and could not, under any circumstances, be considered subject to the central control of a single religious authority like Rome became later.

16/3/07 11:33 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

RE: NO other ancient culture that I am aware of is this lax in presenting "the facts" about its religion.

I challenge this assertion.
Present the "facts" about the other ancient religions for which we have copies that date closer than 150 years to the religious events described. If I remember correctly it was 400 years or so after his death that anything was written down about the Buddha.

A quick survey confirms that the same can be said about Zoroaster.

Christianity is distinguished from other ancient religions by the degree to which its earliest writings are attested. The number of fragments and copies are in the thousands. You do not find nearly that amount of evidence documenting the religion of the Druids, yet they were Celtic, a race that prided itself on its literacy.

If its all about honesty then lets apply the standard equally.

16/3/07 11:48 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "Just one example that I mentioned earlier is the Bodmer papyrii which contain extensive portions of the gospels (http://www.cronaca.com/archives/004901.html "

They contain extensive portions of something. What that something is or was, we are left wondering. It certainly did not come attached with any apostle's name.

In short, we don't know who wrote it.

We don't know the date of it's publication unless it has been scientifically dated, dated according to church theology doesn't count in my book.

And we don't know from which original document it belongs.

It has no provenance. Only a porvenance which the church claims as its own.

And the date of such article? (as per the site you gave.)

"Collectively known as the Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV, the documents date to 175-225 A.D. and consist of 51 leaves from a manuscript that originally consisted of 72 leaves folded in the middle to form a single quire."

Seems like the earliest supposed copy of Luke dates from the time period I mentioned. Maybe 200 years after the supposed eath of christ. Took a long time to write it, didn't it..

17/3/07 1:23 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "Secondly, you apply a double standard. I know of no other ancient documents, such as the writings of Aristotle for example, who are held to the standard of having copies dating back to within 100 years of the writing. A supposedly "scientific" approach to warrant should apply equally. Whether one accepts the content of the documents as authoritative or not, the criteria applied to determine the date of writing should be the same."

Aristotle isn't telling me that I will go to hell if I don't believe that a virgin gave birth to a man who died and then came back to life.

So, whether we have original writings of Aristotle or not, doesn't make a great deal of difference to anyone.

Afterall, Aristotle was just a man. A smart man by all accounts, but a man nonetheless. The church fathers, however were dealing with the supposed written testimony of those who ministered with A GOD!

How lax it was of them to not take good care of the apostles writings so that they didn't show up in bound form until around 350CE.

17/3/07 1:29 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "NO other ancient culture that I am aware of is this lax in presenting "the facts" about its religion."

The egyptians spring to mind. They wrote down nearly everything pertaining to their culture and employed thousands of scribes to do it.

It was done during the time period of each Pharoah. We didn't have to wait 200 years for the scribes to write about the religion that Aknathen espoused.

17/3/07 1:43 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "The number of fragments and copies are in the thousands. You do not find nearly that amount of evidence documenting the religion of the Druids, yet they were Celtic, a race that prided itself on its literacy. If its all about honesty then lets apply the standard equally."

There are thousands of fragments.

Let's get this in perspective. We don't know who wrote them. We don't know their date according to carbon dating techniques. We don't know their provenance.

The so-called thousands of fragments are predominately fragments from the Hebrew traditions.

The small % which are supposedly from the christian tradition, have most probably been interpolated from some other tradition, primarily from the jewish traditions and used to create the new religion of christianity.

17/3/07 2:15 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

The Four Gospels were unknown to the early Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, (100 – 165CE) wrote about the middle of the second century.

If he had the written gospels in his possession as proof of the divinity of Christ, he would have mentioned them.

He makes more than 300 quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the four Gospels.

Rev. Giles says: 'The very names of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are never mentioned by him (Justin) - do not occur once in all his writings.'

17/3/07 2:21 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

Justin Martyr mentions Matthew, Mark, Luke and John how many times?

Zero.

17/3/07 2:28 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Re: The so-called thousands of fragments are predominately fragments from the Hebrew traditions. The small % which are supposedly from the christian tradition, have most probably been interpolated from some other tradition, primarily from the jewish traditions and used to create the new religion of christianity.

This is just wrong. There are over 5000 existing witnesses to the NT. Don't confuse the Dead Sea Scrolls and other late finds, including the Bodmer Papyrii with the totality of existing witnesses. The Medieval scholars such as Erasmus worked from ancient texts when coming up with their new translations.

17/3/07 4:49 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

RE: Justin Martyr mentions Matt... how many times?

By name or by direct quote?
You grant that J.M. lived post 100 so therefore he did not personally hear Jesus speak.

Yet note what he says:
Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judaea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove.

JM then goes on to offer up a whole series of paragraphs on the teachings of Jesus, quoting explicitly from the NT that we have.

17/3/07 5:03 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Here's the first section entitled:

CHAP. XV.--WHAT CHRIST HIMSELF TAUGHT.

Concerning chastity, He uttered such sentiments as these: "Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart before God." And, "If thy right eye offend thee, cut it out; for it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of heaven with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into everlasting fire." And, "Whosoever shall many her that is divorced from another husband, committeth adultery." And, "There are some who have been made eunuchs of men, and some who were born eunuchs, and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake; but all cannot receive this saying."

These are from Matthew 5 (Sermon on the Mount) and 19.

17/3/07 5:06 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

JM goes on with a whole series of paragraphs on specific topics each stating what "our Christ" has taught on these subjects. Each one is full of quotations from the NT gospels and referred back to Jesus.

The apology is directed to Titus. He does refer by name to quotations from various Pagan authors with whom Titus would have been acquainted, and perhaps to OT Hebrew documents which may also have been known.

But when he refers to the teachings of the NT he refers to the ultimate source not the intermediate scribe.

17/3/07 5:12 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

For anyone to maintain that JM did not have the gospels as a source to draw from they must entirely close their mind to Justin's own words.

His familiarity with the specific statements, particularly in Matthew, cannot be denied if one actually looks at what he wrote. The quotes are direct, not paraphrases, which means that the literary tradition from which he drew is directly related to ours.

17/3/07 5:15 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

JM goes on to detail the manner in which the apostles went out, "being ignorant men" and proclaimed to the whole world.

he says -
But our Jesus Christ, being crucified and dead, rose again, and having ascended to heaven, reigned; and by those things which were published in His name among all nations by the apostles, there is joy afforded to those who expect the immortality promised by Him

Sounds to me like there was no need for a late 2nd or 3rd century revision or creation of a body of doctrine to support Christianity. JM gives a very concise summary of it in that one paragraph.

And you have already stated that he lived in the mid 100's - this body of doctrine and the teachings on which it was based were already in place.

17/3/07 5:24 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Re: He makes more than 300 quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the four Gospels.

That statement appears to be false. I agree that there are no attributions to Matt/Mrk/Lk/Jn - but as I have provided, just because he did not footnote doesn't mean he didn't quote.

17/3/07 5:31 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

Further in JM we find this statement:

For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me,this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone.


How does your source handle this passage? Is there some explanation for why this does not constitute a direct reference to the NT Gospels?

17/3/07 6:22 am  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

finally - this from wikpedia
To Justin
Not less divine, (than the OT), is the teaching of the apostles, ...
The word of the apostles is the teaching of the Divine Logos, and reproduces the sayings of Christ authentically. As a rule he uses the synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – but has a few unmistakable references to John. He quotes the Book of Revelation as inspired because prophetic, naming its author.... Distinct references are found to Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians, and possible ones to Philippians, Titus, and 1 Timothy. It seems likely that he also knew Hebrews and 1 John. The apologetic character of Justin's habit of thought appears again in the Acts of his martyrdom (ASB, Apr., ii. 108 sqq.; Thierry Ruinart, Acta martyrum, Regensburg, 1859, 105 sqq.), the genuineness of which is attested by internal evidence.

17/3/07 6:31 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "Don't confuse the Dead Sea Scrolls and other late finds, including the Bodmer Papyrii with the totality of existing witnesses. The Medieval scholars such as Erasmus worked from ancient texts when coming up with their new translations."

It is the evidence of these witnesses that I am questioning. It is the evidence of these ancient texts that people supposedly worked from. Where are they? Where are the writings of the gospels prior to the mid 4th century? I mean SPECIFICALLY the evidence of these writings. Not a few fragments that have been found hundreds of years later and are then attributed to being wirtiien by Matthew, mark, Luke and John.

If these gospels were so important, why is it that we see nothing of them prior to the mid 4th century? Why is it that we have no evidence of the existence of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John OUTSIDE of the church's insistence that they existed and that they witnessed a living, talking and breathing god?

Why is there very little if not NO reference to these gospels and these men specifically by many of the early church fathers? The gospels are the crucial testimony upon which the christian bible is founded. The gospels are the foundation stones of christianity. They are supposedly the eyewitness accounts that these 4 men had of a living god. As they were, and are so important in this regard, they are conspicuous by their absence.

I wish to remind you that I am not refering to later church fathers who spoke about "the gospels", or who spoke about some "apostles or disciples", I am asking for evidence of the existence of these writings prior to the mid 4th century.

I am not asking for small fragments from ancient hebrew texts. I am not asking for small fragments which have words which can be identified as part of the gospels.

In the latter case, fragments of text do NOT provide provenance. In other words, they do not tell us who wrote them, when they wrote them, and for the purposes for which they were written. That the church rationalizes any fragment find in a post hoc manner, is not evidence of authorship or date.

Let me repeat this so you understand the perspective of my argument. I know that Justin Martyr mentions a Jesus. I can read these articles from the early fathers as much as anyone else can. I didn't ask if he mentioned Jesus, I want to know WHY he does not mention the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as these supposedly firsthand accounts are what most christians consider to be the prima facie evidence for the literal existence of Jesus.

Not only that, but they are supposed to be the prima facie evidence from a firsthand perspective that a man called Jesus was a god and that he literally died and came back to life.

The gosplels are the lynch-pin of christianity. The christian religion is based supposedly on this firsthand testimony. Yet there is no evidence for the existence of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John outside of the church's subsequent writings about them. There is also a lack of evidence for the existence of these written gospels PRIOR to the mid 4th century.

I want to make this clear. By evidence I do not mean early church fathers using the word "gospel" in a sentence to another early church leader. I mean direct physical evidence for the existence of these writings.

17/3/07 11:56 pm  
Anonymous Gadfly said...

If direct quotes which are attributed to Jesus and correspond to the specific words in the gospels do not constitue "physical evidence for the existence of these writings" then there is no basis for any kind of rational discourse concerning them.

If fragments which include folio leaves of large sections of the gospels that date back to the second century do not constitute physical evidence that they existed then there are no rules for proof.

If the attitude toward evidence is such that "I will not countenance anything that a Christian Scholar has to say" then there is no possibility of conversation between Atheists and Christians.

And yet you charge Christians, and me in particular, with not being honest.

18/3/07 12:27 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "If fragments which include folio leaves of large sections of the gospels that date back to the second century"

Which large folios?
Which large sections of the gospels?
How do we know the authorship attributed to them?
How do we know the date attributed to them?

Remember that large %s of christians believe that persons literally called Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, LITERALLY WROTE the gospels.

18/3/07 1:15 am  

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