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Old 01-13-2018, 09:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wardendresden View Post
There are NO ancient stories that have NOT been "fiddled" with in terms of myth. The reason for myth (my wife is a niece of David Crockett) is because the impact that person had on those around them. The stories grew over time. In a couple of cases, the writers had enough time between Jesus and the actual writing that they began to see some of the criticisms that were being leveled that Jesus wasn't the Messiah, so they wrote to refute it in the same way John wrote to refute the idea that Jesus wasn't God and human at the same time (gnostic heresy).

A "Q" document has long been assumed, but I sometimes wonder about that. Ever notice how the same thing is said more or less, but backwards as in:

"For whoever is not against us is for us." Mark 9:40 vs
"He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth." Luke 11:23

I suspect both "quotes" came from a similar oral source but were written down differently. That wouldn't have happened (I don't think) if both shared the same written material. Some probably believe the statements were made at different times under different circumstances but I think the "circumstances" were simply a medium to record the differently heard phrases.

You also don't believe that a disciple named Matthew wrote the gospel in the years following Jesus' crucifixion do you? Or that Mark was the guy that followed Peter around and listened to Peter's stories, eh? It's far more likely that it was ORAL tradition that was passed on.

There are lots of myths built around the incredible frontiersman David Crockett. But you don't believe he killed a "b'ar" when he was only three do you? That Disney story (in the form of song) was to build up Crockett in the eyes of others so that he would seem beyond an ordinary man with extraordinary frontier savvy.

Just saying--there is both a myth and a man. Jesus wasn't ordinary but perhaps some of the storytelling about Him was to build up even more just how extraordinary He really was.
Of course I agree that legends build up around real figures. However, often we can correct those by consulting real written accounts. Or at least comparing rival accounts (like the Democrat and republican versions of the doing of the Earps) and we can come to a conclusion.

With people like Arthur or Al;eander and carsar we can decide that therte is a real person at base and (pretty easily) assign percentage unreliability.

But what I'm claiming is that were are in Tombstone territory with the gospels. We can compare the four and see how the process of adaptation was done. Oral tradition -claims are arrally orrelevant, just as wondering who the writers really were. But you can get some idea of what they were like and where they were coming from. Matthew was Greek. He may have had Jewish roots, -he was certainly concerned with going back to the OT, which he didn't understand or didn't want to. Because he couldn't read the scriptures in hebrew. he read it from the Septuagint. The proof is there in the debates in the temple where he quotes from the septuagint (Matth 21. 16). That means that Jesus could not have said that and I recall that Matthew is the only one to have the quote.

This is evidence that can only be ignored if one prefers denial. This is just one of many such evidences, and to say that we cannot find out anything fromn studying the text is either echoing the popular thought or hoping that nobody will even try.
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Old 01-14-2018, 02:28 AM
 
Location: Denver, CO
7,852 posts, read 4,594,535 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TRANSPONDER View Post
Of course I agree that legends build up around real figures. However, often we can correct those by consulting real written accounts. Or at least comparing rival accounts (like the Democrat and republican versions of the doing of the Earps) and we can come to a conclusion.

With people like Arthur or Al;eander and carsar we can decide that therte is a real person at base and (pretty easily) assign percentage unreliability.

But what I'm claiming is that were are in Tombstone territory with the gospels. We can compare the four and see how the process of adaptation was done. Oral tradition -claims are arrally orrelevant, just as wondering who the writers really were. But you can get some idea of what they were like and where they were coming from. Matthew was Greek. He may have had Jewish roots, -he was certainly concerned with going back to the OT, which he didn't understand or didn't want to. Because he couldn't read the scriptures in hebrew. he read it from the Septuagint. The proof is there in the debates in the temple where he quotes from the septuagint (Matth 21. 16). That means that Jesus could not have said that and I recall that Matthew is the only one to have the quote.

This is evidence that can only be ignored if one prefers denial. This is just one of many such evidences, and to say that we cannot find out anything fromn studying the text is either echoing the popular thought or hoping that nobody will even try.
Yet it remains true that we have more manuscript evidence that Jesus was an actual person than we have for Pythagoras, Robin Hood, King Arthur, Homer, or Lycurgus. Even the existence of Sun Tzu is anecdotal and his Art of War more likely a collection of individual pithy statements than the composition of a single individual. The NT itself has evidence that it was tampered with by later religious followers to make it more "orthodox."

What all this indicates is that whether religious or secular, ancient writings must be read with a critical eye and with wisdom. To me it appears that most fundamentalists cannot do that, nor accept that perhaps some "miracles" weren't so miraculous but an over emphasis on some event.
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Old 01-14-2018, 09:52 AM
 
Location: Western Washington
6,506 posts, read 6,495,972 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wardendresden View Post
Yet it remains true that we have more manuscript evidence that Jesus was an actual person than we have for Pythagoras, Robin Hood, King Arthur, Homer, or Lycurgus. Even the existence of Sun Tzu is anecdotal and his Art of War more likely a collection of individual pithy statements than the composition of a single individual.
What an interesting collection of figures to choose as comparisons.

Nobody seriously believes that Robin Hood or King Arthur existed.

Homer is very much in doubt as a person who wrote the Iliad and Odyssey, “Homer” may have been a person or group of people who collected oral folktales. In any case, we don’t care too much about Homer himself, it is his work, which undeniably exists, that is important. A more apt comparison would be to equate Homer with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We don’t really know who wrote the gospels, we know that they exist, and the names that they are attributed to are merely representative.

The same can be said for Sun Tzu.

Lycurgus is a legendary king, the better comparison would be to Romulus and Remus, Tullus Hostillius, or Ragnar Lothbrok. There were kings in those days, we don’t know anything about any of them, so we create a figure and attribute great deeds to them. No serious historian believes the legendary kings exist as more than a set of stories.

I had to look up Pythagoras. Obviously I was familiar with the Theorom, but could not recall anything else. He is the best analogy to Christ, in that he was the leader of a school of philosophy that could have turned into a religion. It was suppressed and failed.

So to say we have more manuscript evidence for Christ than people who are acknowledged as legendary, or a failed philosopher, is a really low bar.

By using “manuscript evidence”, you are acknowledging that we don’t have any real evidence. It is fairly easy to prove the existence of other major historical figures of the era, Christ is an anomaly in being a major figure without proof.

Last edited by fishbrains; 01-14-2018 at 10:37 AM..
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:20 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
13,735 posts, read 7,633,442 times
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We are drifting away from topic here, so I'll just put in that any belief system that puts forward a legend as literal reality is making an unsupported (and largely unsupportable) truth claim, which is morally bankrupt.

I would in fact say that it is morally wrong to be disparaging "worldly" or "mere human" wisdom as if there's more than one kind. Either one's epistemology tends toward an increasingly accurate model of reality, or away from it. Deliberately proposing a model with no tether to reality but rather some eldritch connection to an asserted, alternative reality is exactly like Kellyanne Conway offering up "alternative facts". There are only facts, and non-facts, and candidate facts. There are no "alternative" facts and there is no "alternative" reality.

I'll leave it for the reader to ponder whether there's any connection between alternate "supernatural" realities and the ability to give the time of day to "alternative facts".
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Old 01-14-2018, 11:22 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
14,961 posts, read 6,925,523 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
What an interesting collection of figures to choose as comparisons.

Nobody seriously believes that Robin Hood or King Arthur existed.

Homer is very much in doubt as a person who wrote the Iliad and Odyssey, “Homer” may have been a person or group of people who collected oral folktales. In any case, we don’t care too much about Homer himself, it is his work, which undeniably exists, that is important. A more apt comparison would be to equate Homer with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We don’t really know who wrote the gospels, we know that they exist, and the names that they are attributed to are merely representative.

The same can be said for Sun Tzu.

Lycurgus is a legendary king, the better comparison would be to Romulus and Remus, Tullus Hostillius, or Ragnar Lothbrok. There were kings in those days, we don’t know anything about any of them, so we create a figure and attribute great deeds to them. No serious historian believes the legendary kings exist as more than a set of stories.

I had to look up Pythagoras. Obviously I was familiar with the Theorom, but could not recall anything else. He is the best analogy to Christ, in that he was the leader of a school of philosophy that could have turned into a religion. It was suppressed and failed.

So to say we have more manuscript evidence for Christ than people who are acknowledged as legendary, or a failed philosopher, is a really low bar.

By using “manuscript evidence”, you are acknowledging that we don’t have any real evidence. It is fairly easy to prove the existence of other major historical figures of the era, Christ is an anomaly in being a major figure without proof.
I might approach this slightly differently, although I agree with you in a very basic way.

Did Robin Hood or King Arthur exist? My guess is that their legends are based on someone who did something that got built up beyond all proportions to reality. But that's about all we can say about them. And you're right...that's a pretty low bar.

I don't think there's much doubt that Jesus, as a person, existed. The question to me is -- what of his story is true versus that same "built up beyond all proportions" part of his story. What is missing from the accounts of Jesus are the "objective eyes". In a time where we have some Americans viewing FOX News as fact and MSNBC News as fiction, and other Americans believing just the opposite...well, to think that stories written by those who followed Jesus are fact is being awfully gullible since there seems to be no "objective eyes". I am all too much reminded of the famous line from the film "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence": "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." And although this may seem to be a minor point, when you have Christians portraying Jesus as looking like Jeffrey Hunter...well...it just shows that they are not being at all realistic about their "savior".
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:09 PM
 
Location: Western Washington
6,506 posts, read 6,495,972 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phetaroi View Post
I might approach this slightly differently, although I agree with you in a very basic way.

...

I don't think there's much doubt that Jesus, as a person, existed. The question to me is -- what of his story is true versus that same "built up beyond all proportions" part of his story.
We agree. There probably was a living person, or group of people that formed a composite character, that served as the basis for Jesus Christ.

So what? That doesn’t prove the miracles, the divinity, or the theology. It simply means there was a kernel of truth behind the stories. The same is true for every religion though. Mohammed existed, that doesn’t prove Islam as divine truth. Same thing for Joseph Smith, and a dozen other prophets or holy men.

Comparing your god to fictional characters and saying that they are equally well supported isn’t an argument for theism, it is an argument for agnostic atheism.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:18 PM
 
30,489 posts, read 6,376,957 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wardendresden View Post
Yet it remains true that we have more manuscript evidence that Jesus was an actual person than we have for Pythagoras, Robin Hood, King Arthur, Homer, or Lycurgus. Even the existence of Sun Tzu is anecdotal and his Art of War more likely a collection of individual pithy statements than the composition of a single individual. The NT itself has evidence that it was tampered with by later religious followers to make it more "orthodox."

What all this indicates is that whether religious or secular, ancient writings must be read with a critical eye and with wisdom. To me it appears that most fundamentalists cannot do that, nor accept that perhaps some "miracles" weren't so miraculous but an over emphasis on some event.
No we don't. I know that it is claimed that there is a lot of extra -biblical support for Jesus, but really there isn't. There is Tacitus, who only confirms an executed founder of a religious movement. Of which he doesn't think much, clearly. There is possible a reference in Josephus to James the brother of Jesus, which I once believed was good evidence for Jesus, then I came to think it wasn't the same James, and then Pneuma sorta made me think it might be, again. I think I made him see at at least that there were good reasons Not to credit the Flavian testimony as anything but a total forgery.

And apart from the gospels and Paul (and I take Paul as a real person, thus the disciples as real people and thus Jesus as a real person) that's IT. Really. I admit that is more historical sources than most religious figures, but on a par with Washington and Lincoln, he ain't.
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:48 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
14,961 posts, read 6,925,523 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
We agree. There probably was a living person, or group of people that formed a composite character, that served as the basis for Jesus Christ.

So what? That doesn’t prove the miracles, the divinity, or the theology. It simply means there was a kernel of truth behind the stories. The same is true for every religion though. Mohammed existed, that doesn’t prove Islam as divine truth. Same thing for Joseph Smith, and a dozen other prophets or holy men.

Comparing your god to fictional characters and saying that they are equally well supported isn’t an argument for theism, it is an argument for agnostic atheism.
I don't think Joseph Smith (who began the Mormon religion in my home town, and whose farm was literally just over a hill from my boyhood home) quite belongs to that group. No, not divine, but much about Smith is well documented.
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:15 PM
 
Location: Western Washington
6,506 posts, read 6,495,972 times
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Originally Posted by phetaroi View Post
I don't think Joseph Smith (who began the Mormon religion in my home town, and whose farm was literally just over a hill from my boyhood home) quite belongs to that group. No, not divine, but much about Smith is well documented.
I think it is merely a matter of degree.

We can definitely document Joseph Smith as a person who lived in the 19th century. He was definitely a real person. Therefore, he has one up on Jesus Christ, who is only probably a real person.

However, we still have to address the miracles. Whether it is talking to the angel Moroni and receiving golden tablets, talking to the angel Gabriel and receiving the dictated Koran, talking to God the Father and dying on the cross, or whatever other miracle you choose to discuss, at its core we are talking about people with claims of the miraculous.
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:18 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
14,961 posts, read 6,925,523 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
I think it is merely a matter of degree.

We can definitely document Joseph Smith as a person who lived in the 19th century. He was definitely a real person. Therefore, he has one up on Jesus Christ, who is only probably a real person.

However, we still have to address the miracles. Whether it is talking to the angel Moroni and receiving golden tablets, talking to the angel Gabriel and receiving the dictated Koran, talking to God the Father and dying on the cross, or whatever other miracle you choose to discuss, at its core we are talking about people with claims of the miraculous.
Agreed, I was just saying he was a well documented person.

BTW, when I was a kid and we would come home via NY-21 and pass Hill Cumorah...I thought the statue was Macaroni.
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