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Old 12-16-2013, 07:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
That is true. The OP was about Christianity, rather than God or "God". And the validity of Christianity stands or falls on the reliability of the Gospels.

If Jesus was not who the Gospels claim and did not do and say what the gospels say he did and said, then Christianity (its validity, if not its actual persistence),crashes to the ground, even if a historical Jesus really existed.

The existence of the god described in the Bible does not depend on that of course. Both Jews and muslims believe in Biblegod, but neither accept the Christ -figure, though Islam does accept Jesus as a prophet.

The objections to the OT God depend on the reliability of the OT text, and it stands up no better than the Gospels.

A sortagod, a cosmic mind, First cause deist- god, the 'God' of Einstein, the computer that runs the universe, the finger on the button of evolution, the god of all religions and none, that is another argument altogether, and the only position I have on that is that there is no persuasive evidence for it, so I have to be agnostic about its existence.

I am not agnostic (in any realistic sense) about Biblegod, or Jesus as - Christ. They do not exist.

Ehrman (to return to topic) tries to get to the real Jesus, given that the gospels show signs of 'forgery' (I call it fabrication. as forgery implies a fake copy of a real original, and there isn't one - not a Christ - figure on which the gospels were based) But I have to say that I have only heard talk about Ehrman's books. I have not read a single one of them.

When I have finished mine, I may do so.
Very good post!

Interestingly writers from the second century pump up Jesus quite a bit.

The writers of the Gospels are unknown despite the titles that suggest an author. It is likely everything was fudged.

If Jesus really existed he was indeed a great man in the same vein as Socrates or Ché Guevara.
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Old 12-16-2013, 01:26 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post

Ehrman (to return to topic) tries to get to the real Jesus, given that the gospels show signs of 'forgery' (I call it fabrication. as forgery implies a fake copy of a real original, and there isn't one - not a Christ - figure on which the gospels were based) But I have to say that I have only heard talk about Ehrman's books. I have not read a single one of them.


When Ehrman speaks of forgery (and one of his books which I have not read is concerned exclusively with this topic) he is referencing additions to the gospels which cannot be classed as having come from the theoretical Q. By forgery Ehrman means that the early Christians had access to the Q source, modified it with their agenda fueled additions, and then tried to pass it all off as original and authentic.

I've read three of Bart Ehrman's books:
The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (I would describe this as a primer on what is out there, what happened to the non surviving gospels and who might have been responsible for writing what.)

Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know ) ( I would describe this work as very much aimed at other scholars in the field and must confess to skimming parts which were over my head due to the lack of familiarity with what was being referenced. It is primarily Ehrman presenting his arguments for and against what other scholars have written.)

Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.

This last book contains an introduction to the Q concept and is largely concerned with determining what were the actual goals and concerns of Jesus. This is the one I would endorse as the starter if you want to know what Ehrman is about. He is building and expanding on the work of Dr. Albert Schweitzer who was the first Biblical scholar, but did his investigation in an era before the Q concept evolved. The conclusion presented is that the historical Jesus was most likely a very intelligent and charismatic man who was deeply disturbed by what he saw as the selling out of the Hebrew faith by the Sadducees, the priestly upper class who, according to the thinking of Jesus, forfeited their place as the keepers of the Abraham covenant by accepting political power and social comforts from the Romans in exchange for ruling Judea on their behalf. The ministry of Jesus evolved, was clarified greatly by his encounter with John the Baptist, and at some point Jesus became a victim of his own success and the expectations of the crowds. It was not within his power to overthrow the High Priests and their Roman sponsors, so Jesus developed the idea that this would be handled by god, his job was to prepare everyone for this coming event, and it was going to be happening within the lifetime of his listeners. The failure of god to perform as predicted was a disappointing surprise to Jesus.



The nature of Ehrman's writing is such that I cannot imagine it offending anyone but an absolute fundamentalist who cannot accept any challenge to familiar dogma. Ehrman mocks no one, shows immense respect for religious belief and confines his presentation to the evidence and what the evidence seems to be suggesting. He is not Richard Dawkins, he is nothing at all like Dawkins. Ehrman is a historian.
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Old 12-16-2013, 08:18 PM
 
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Thanks, Julian and Grandstander. That was the explanation that the OP was looking for.

In fact, all the books I have read on the subject, or have read the Blurb on seem to be divisions on the same ground - reinterpreting Jesus' utterances as reported in the Gospels, and thus re- assessing what that makes him.

That is why I don't read their books, because nobody has gone back to basics and asked 'are they valid reports of what Jesus said?'

I can see why they do so because if not, they must feel they have no material to work with.

But, in fact, going back to the basics can tell you about what really matters - not what Jesus said and did, but how the writers of the gospels constructed their fabrications or forgery. And that in the end tells us what Jesus really did and said and that gives the reliable picture of the historical Jesus - or so I argue.

Incidentally, I am sure that 'Q' cannot be the basis for any gospel. It is common material shared by Matthew and Luke and they added that to a previous gospel common to all the synoptics.

There is also a body of material shared between Matthew and Mark, and that cannot be a gospel - basic work either, but must be added later material.
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Old 12-16-2013, 08:39 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post

That is why I don't read their books, because nobody has gone back to basics and asked 'are they valid reports of what Jesus said?'
.
Confused. That is why you don't read which books? The Q concept is all about eliminating the modifications so that we are left with what was, in theory, the earliest written biography of Jesus. Bart Ehrman came out last year with "Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics" which is him going back and asking your above question. There are numerous people who make their living going back and asking that question.

What basics are there to go back to further than the reconstructed Q writings? That would be the earliest written account and it exists as a theory that extractions from the gospels once formed the basis of a singular account.
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Old 12-17-2013, 06:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
Confused. That is why you don't read which books? The Q concept is all about eliminating the modifications so that we are left with what was, in theory, the earliest written biography of Jesus. Bart Ehrman came out last year with "Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics" which is him going back and asking your above question. There are numerous people who make their living going back and asking that question.

What basics are there to go back to further than the reconstructed Q writings? That would be the earliest written account and it exists as a theory that extractions from the gospels once formed the basis of a singular account.
The previous attempts to recover the 'real' Jesus. The problem they all seem to have is that they all seem to start with the unjustified assumption that what is in the gospels is substantially reliable. It clearly and evidently is not.

'Q' (at least the 'Q' I talk about) is material common to Luke and Matthew. Since it doesn't appear in Mark, it cannot be the 'Original' synoptic text. Just as the material common to Mark and Matthew but not in Luke cannot be the original. I may have mind -slipped what 'Quelle' originally was taken to be, so I'll look it up. But it doesn't matter. Whatever number or letter is given to the Luke -Matthew material (notably the sermon on the mount material) it cannot be the basis of the synoptic document.

Yep, I thought I had it right.

According to the Two Source Hypothesis accepted by a majority of contemporary scholars, the authors of Matthew and Luke each made use of two different sources: the Gospel of Mark and a non-extant second source termed Q. The siglum Q derives from the German word "Quelle," which means "Source."
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/q.html

I sorta agree that the 'other' source was 'Mark'. A basic synoptic document that all the three - Matthew, Mark and Luke used. That is to be found in the text common to all three synoptic gospels.

It cannot be Mark as we have it now, since Mark has Mark/Matthew material, e. g the Syrio - phonecian/Caananite woman, the 'other' feasting of the '4,000' and the quote from psalms on the cross, for that matter - none of which is in Luke, so it cannot represent original synoptic material.

In addition to this, Mark gets confused about the boat trip across Genessaret but the only way one can see that is to compare it with Matthew and Luke who have it correct. But if they had copied Mark, they would have the same direction of the travel. Also Mark has a few editorial additions of his own, such as Pilate asking whether Jesus could possibly be dead so soon, and the hired servants left to help old Zebedee with his fishing, which neither Matthew or Luke have, and one of then surely would have kept it in if one argues that it was 'omitted'.

Thus Mark also is not the original, so the 'basic' is the common text, give or take some tweakings, such as Luke changing 'gone before you into Galilee' to 'what he told you when he was in Galilee''

I call this 'proto - Mark' or 'proto Matthew' or 'the synoptic original'. And it does not exist anymore, but its existence is surely not to be reasonably denied and it can of course be recovered. It all can - proto synoptic, 'Q' material, 'Matthew -mark material and what I suspect may be 'floating' stories found in Luke and John (notably the evening appearance of the risen Jesus) and perhaps three of them - but not the fourth, like the otherwise inexplicable omission of the walking on the water from Luke.

Then there is material we find only in one writer, notably Matthew, inventor of fantastical tales, but also Luke to some extent.

It seems obvious procedure, and I think it must tell us much about the way the gospels were written. I cannot believe nobody else has done this, but I haven't read of anyone else doing it - and maybe that's why I don't read the books; if anyone else has beat me to it and done this already, I don't want to know.

Last edited by TRANSPONDER; 12-17-2013 at 06:41 AM.. Reason: the usual tidy -up
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:05 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
The previous attempts to recover the 'real' Jesus. The problem they all seem to have is that they all seem to start with the unjustified assumption that what is in the gospels is substantially reliable. It clearly and evidently is not.
If you start with the assumption that none of it may be trusted, you kill the whole field of New Testament scholarship because it is largely composed of two questions...1) Which portions of what we do have may be deemed the most reliable? and 2) Of those portions identified as most reliable, what do they really mean?

It is an industry which due to the limited nature of what is available to study, relies heavily on "if" and the first of those "ifs" is "If any of this stuff is credible." Answer no to that and the ballgame is over before it begins.

At bottom the best the field can do is and roll out an "if" burdened offering....based on what we have, based on what we guess might be credible, based on the best interpretation of what we have identified as most likely to be credible....this is what Jesus might have been about.

The payoff is "educated guess" which without the adjective is "guess." Despite this, the field attracts some first rate minds and people willing to devote their lives to the pursuit of that best guess. If your orientation is that of seeing Jesus as divine, it isn't difficult to dismiss the whole scholarship field. If your orientation is that Jesus was a human but nothing more, then you may enjoy the speculation game as long as you recognize that there isn't any means for determining the winners.

Last edited by Grandstander; 12-17-2013 at 07:18 AM..
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:56 AM
 
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That's why I don't read the previous field since I have read enough to know that it is is all founded of the false assumption of a reliable reported gospel text.

It is not rocket science to start again from no unjustified assumptions. Since it seems they are not willing to do that, I must do it myself.

Of course I could be wrong and am open to question, but I must say, the more I look into it, the more it falls into place and the Old Puzzles get answered, I may be fooling myself. I shall just have to self publish (if Trout-Dude will give me a pointer or two) and let others judge whether I have had a good insight or have simply talked myself into a delusion.

P.s I do not go in for 'what if's' and educated guesses, but what can be shown to be either true or false, on the basis on the internal evidence, to anyone who is not determined to believe what they want.

I'd say that the Nativities are the touchstone false stories and they give the motive, method and opportunity. That done, we see that the resurrection accounts are more of the same, and then the death of Judas, so often 'woven together' to form a coherent tale of suicide are actually more likely to be another example of concocted tales. In fact all the arguments I have read are about whether you can hang yourself and also fall headlong and burst open, and there have been ingenious hidden storied of Apostolic assassinations of the traitor Hidden in the text ...But nobody took the simple step of looking at the prophetic underpinnings and seeing how mangled and fiddled they were. That, rather than fanciful tales of the rope breaking and falling down a cliff is what discredits these accounts.

One principle that comes out is that of the omitted important fact. It is perverse and denialist to look at John leaving out the transfiguration and suggesting that he didn't think it important. If he left it out it is because he had never heard of it. And if it was in the synoptics, it was because the writer of the original synoptic text thought it would be nice confirmation to have another baptism type heavenly announcement to back up the messianic declaration after the feasting.

And yet nobody else seems to have even considered this. They have noted John's failure to confirm the Bethlehem birth, but don't seem to taken the principle any further.

And my 'game' is not guessing what Jesus was or wasn't, but seeing what of the gospels is credible and what isn't. When you are left with what is credible (and indeed confirmed by the only extra -Biblical reference to a historic Jesus worth a damn' - Tacitus), that will tell you what Jesus was, or wasn't.

Last edited by TRANSPONDER; 12-17-2013 at 08:14 AM.. Reason: cancel a few more brackets..
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Old 12-17-2013, 10:30 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
That's why I don't read the previous field since I have read enough to know that it is is all founded of the false assumption of a reliable reported gospel text.

.
But wasn't your conclusion that it is all based on unreliable texts the product of that "enough" reading that you did, which was written by the same people who you think are wasting their time?

I keep detecting a circular aspect to your positions here and remain confused about what you are trying to say. For example you wrote:
Quote:
P.s I do not go in for 'what if's' and educated guesses, but what can be shown to be either true or false, on the basis on the internal evidence, to anyone who is not determined to believe what they want.
Followed later by:
Quote:
That done, we see that the resurrection accounts are more of the same, and then the death of Judas, so often 'woven together' to form a coherent tale of suicide are actually more likely to be another example of concocted tales.
...which sure looks to me like an educated guess on your part.

I have been reading with interest the contributions you have made in other threads where as closely as I can tell, you have been relying on the work of scholars to refute those advancing claims that specific passages are literal, unassailable and subject to but one interpretation. Now you appear to be saying that those weapons you used in those other places, you regard as worthless.
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Old 12-17-2013, 12:59 PM
 
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No. In fact the reading I did was Hyam Maccoby, The Passover plot and Pentecost revolution, a book on Paul, 'The first Christian' and the speculative romp 'The Jesus scroll', Secrets of Golgotha, Oh, and a very good book on Matthew.

But I wouldn't say that what I am doing is based on them, although all of them have given me some ideas to follow up. I suppose the impetus was reading 'who moved the stone', and there was another book trying to reconcile the resurrection stories.

It was expressing doubts about the Gospels as true accounts, and talking about the discrepancies with a believer that set me off seeing whether they did fit together, because they seemed to have points of contact and other areas that seemed quite different.

I had come across redaction criticism, but it seemed that it was just something that theology students did, and then dismissed as explainable by human witness error. I was also familiar with the lists of discrepancies, but nothing was done with them other than say it wasn't inerrant.

So putting it all together I compared the gospels and began to notice some things. The whole thing started there and I really have not seen anyone else starting from 'no assumptions' and building up the case gradually.

It really is 'all my own work'.
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Old 12-17-2013, 01:12 PM
 
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No. In fact the reading I did was Hyam Maccoby, The Passover plot and Pentecost revolution, a book on Paul, 'The first Christian' and the speculative romp 'The Jesus scroll', Secrets of Golgotha, Oh, and a very good book on Matthew.

But I wouldn't say that what I am doing is based on them, although all of them have given me some ideas to follow up. I suppose the impetus was reading 'who moved the stone', and there was another book trying to reconcile the resurrection stories.

It was expressing doubts about the Gospels as true accounts, and talking about the discrepancies with a believer that set me off seeing whether they did fit together, because they seemed to have points of contact and other areas that seemed quite different.

I had come across redaction criticism, but it seemed that it was just something that theology students did, and then dismissed as explainable by human witness error. I was also familiar with the lists of discrepancies, but nothing was done with them other than say it wasn't inerrant.

So putting it all together I compared the gospels and began to notice some things. The whole thing started there and I really have not seen anyone else starting from 'no assumptions' and building up the case gradually.

It really is 'all my own work'.
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