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Switch to Forum Live View "Eyewitnesses would have objected if the Gospels were untrue"
2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 10:02AM #1
Athlyes
Posts: 9
I see this argument come up sometimes. It basically states that at the time the Gospel accounts were being composed that if they contained 'falsehood', then eyewitnesses at the time would have spoken up and disagreed, and the Gospel writers would have changed their story.

I know there is a lot of issues with this statement but am finding it difficult to know where to start. What do you think the problems are with this statement?
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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 10:36AM #2
Blü
Posts: 24,855

Athiyes


this argument [...] states that at the time the Gospel accounts were being composed that if they contained 'falsehood', then eyewitnesses at the time would have spoken up and disagreed, and the Gospel writers would have changed their story.


The first problem is that we find not one eyewitness account of anything, let alone of an historical Jesus, in the NT.  An eyewitness account, you'll recall, is a statement written in the first person by an identified witness who describes what he or she personally saw (and heard) at a particular place at a particular time, omitting hearsay, opinions, dreams, visions &c.


The second problem is that a number of parts of the NT are undoubtedly fiction (though many are intended to edify nonetheless).  Examples are all the miracle tales and a high to very hight percentage of the fulfilment-of-prophecy stories.


The third problem is that the gospels aren't written with a sense for the historical style but arguably rather in the style of Jewish exposition of OT text found at that time, where fact wasn't important but spiritual message was.


The fourth problem is that Paul never met Jesus and the earliest gospel, Mark, was written around 75 CE, more than forty years after the traditional date of the crucifixion, so that having regard to life expectancy in those times, the chance of encountering an eyewitness would have been very small.


If there was an historical Jesus, then that leaves the question of what if any tales, sayings and messages can be attributed to him with any accuracy.


The Jesus Seminar, and Crossan in The Historical Jesus, and others have tried various approaches to see what can be found, and on what arguments it might be more credibly thought original, or less so.

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 11:25AM #3
jonny42
Posts: 6,704

May 4, 2012 -- 10:36AM, Blü wrote:


Athiyes


this argument [...] states that at the time the Gospel accounts were being composed that if they contained 'falsehood', then eyewitnesses at the time would have spoken up and disagreed, and the Gospel writers would have changed their story.


The first problem is that we find not one eyewitness account of anything, let alone of an historical Jesus, in the NT.  An eyewitness account, you'll recall, is a statement written in the first person by an identified witness who describes what he or she personally saw (and heard) at a particular place at a particular time, omitting hearsay, opinions, dreams, visions &c.


The second problem is that a number of parts of the NT are undoubtedly fiction (though many are intended to edify nonetheless).  Examples are all the miracle tales and a high to very hight percentage of the fulfilment-of-prophecy stories.


The third problem is that the gospels aren't written with a sense for the historical style but arguably rather in the style of Jewish exposition of OT text found at that time, where fact wasn't important but spiritual message was.


The fourth problem is that Paul never met Jesus and the earliest gospel, Mark, was written around 75 CE, more than forty years after the traditional date of the crucifixion, so that having regard to life expectancy in those times, the chance of encountering an eyewitness would have been very small.




Mark could have been written much earlier, so the chance of encountering an eyewitness would have been very great.

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 11:56AM #4
JimRigas
Posts: 2,950

The gospels were writen for a world that did not include many, if any, eyewitnesses of some unremarkable events that took place in a very small area.  Even if there was someone who had disagreed with the truthfulness of the writings, how would we know about it?  You read in the papers every day editorials and opinions that examie events so onesided that they can be considered falsehoods. 

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 1:24PM #5
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

It's a mistake to assume that the date of a document's creation is the same as the date of the creation of the information the document contains.


Even though Mark was put to writing in the form we have it around 70 CE (Blu's date of 75 is the high end of the range of dates I've seen), there is no reason to assume that some guy who may or may not have been named Mark sat down and made the whole thing up at that time. Instead, it's more likely that the author's community maintained an oral tradition (as well as possibly some other written texts that have not survived) that derives ultimately from contemporary eye-witness.


That is not to say that the gospels do indeed exihibit a great deal of contradiction, signal decay, and poetic license and later interpolations.


The argument in the OP, however, is facilie apologetics and serves only to shore up the wavering faith of the converted.

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 1:36PM #6
davelaw40
Posts: 19,669

To me the more interesting question is where did the gospels originate? In  communities that  had first had experience with Jesus or places like Antioch and beyond;where they had second hand accounts and converted.

Non Quis, Sed Quid
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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 2:40PM #7
newsjunkie
Posts: 5,743

The claim in the title of the thread makes it sound like ancient stories were subjected to fact-checking like today's nonfiction is. Why even think that ancient texts or stories passed down orally were scrutinized for factual errors?

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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 3:12PM #8
Ed.W
Posts: 9,434

May 4, 2012 -- 2:40PM, newsjunkie wrote:


The claim in the title of the thread makes it sound like ancient stories were subjected to fact-checking like today's nonfiction is. Why even think that ancient texts or stories passed down orally were scrutinized for factual errors?




Why think they were not?  Not even the Jews of the first and second centuries tried to write a competing history to debunk the Gospels.  They responded by changing the MT at about that time so that the fulfillment of prophesy would be more vague.  Which rather proves the Christian case.


Example:


Deuteronomy 32:43 (Pre Advent)


43 Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God  worship him; [sound familiar?] rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people.




Find that in YOUR Bible.  (You will not.)


NAB:


43


Exult with him, you heavens, glorify him, all you angels of God; For he avenges the blood of his servants and purges his people's land.  (Angels there, but gentiles gone)


MT


43 "Sing out, you nations, about his people! For he will avenge the blood of his servants. He will render vengeance to his adversaries and make atonement for the land of his people." (not an angel or a gentile in sight)


KJV


Rejoice, O ye nations, [with] his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, [and] to his people.  (Angels and gentiles, gone)






Or this, Isaiah 42,4 (then)


4 He shall shine out, and shall not be discouraged, until he have set judgment on the earth: and in his name shall the Gentiles trust.


MT (now)


4 he will not weaken or be crushed until he has established justice on the earth, and the coastlands wait for his Torah."


NAB (now)



4



3 Until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.


footnote "3" whispers the word "gentiles" thus:


3 [4] Coastlands: the lands of the Mediterranean. In the Old Testament the word often refers to the pagan lands of the west.






Or another:


Psalm 40,6 (then)


6 Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me: whole-burnt-offering and sacrifice for sin thou didst not require.


And now (Jewish MT)


6 Sacrifices and grain offerings you don't want; burnt offerings and sin offerings you don't demand. Instead, you have given me open ears;


KJV


Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.




Have you got anything I can sink my teeth into?
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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 4:34PM #9
Iwantamotto
Posts: 8,154

Have you heard that "the Jews" were obstinate and offensive and rebelled against the Truth that was Jesus?


There you have it.  The people who use the "argument" in the title like to forget that's EXACTLY what happens according to that self-same bible.  People DID object!


This was "fixed" by calling the protesters lying sacks of Satan shit.

Knock and the door shall open.  It's not my fault if you don't like the decor.
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2 years ago  ::  May 04, 2012 - 4:58PM #10
mainecaptain
Posts: 21,783

GREAT, post Iwanta. Bravo. Sincerely

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. Aristotle
Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. Plato..
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives" Jackie Robinson
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