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Switch to Forum Live View What kind of books are the gospels?
6 years ago  ::  Nov 20, 2007 - 9:28AM #91
whatson2nd
Posts: 2,936
[QUOTE=Melancthon;82162]I'm not sure what "historical record" you're referring to.

What I'm saying is that the progression that can be seen in the surviving texts go counter to your trajectory.  For instance, one commonly cited track is the idea of Jesus as Messiah.  In Paul's letters, it appears that Paul views Jesus as having been annointed as Messiah at his resurrection.  In Mark's gospel, Jesus is proclaimed as Messiah at his baptism.  In Matthew and Luke, Jesus is announced as Messiah from his conception.  By the time we get to John's gospel, Jesus is the pre-existent Christ.  He isn't getting more human in this progression, he's getting more divine.[/QUOTE]


It was Philo that most likely influenced the author of gJohn. Read on:

Philo of Alexandria (20 B.C.E.-50 C.E.)

Philo of Alexandria, a Hellenized Jew, is a figure that spans two cultures, the Greek and the Hebrew. When Hebrew mythical thought met Greek philosophical thought in the first century B.C.E. it was only natural that someone would try to develop speculative and philosophical justification for Judaism in terms of Greek philosophy. Thus Philo produced a synthesis of both traditions developing concepts for future Hellenistic interpretation of messianic Hebrew thought, especially by Clement of Alexandria, Christian Apologists like Athenagoras, Theophilus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and by Origen. He may have influenced Paul, his contemporary, and perhaps the authors of the Gospel of John (C. H. Dodd) and the Epistle to the Hebrews (R. Williamson and H. W. Attridge). In the process, he laid the foundations for the development of Christianity in the West and in the East, as we know it today. Philo's primary importance is in the development of the philosophical and theological foundations of Christianity. The church preserved the Philonic writings because Eusebius of Caesarea labeled the monastic ascetic group of Therapeutae and Therapeutrides, described in Philo's The Contemplative Life, as Christians, which is highly unlikely. Eusebius also promoted the legend that Philo met Peter in Rome. Jerome (345-420 C.E.) even lists him as a church Father. Jewish tradition was uninterested in philosophical speculation and did not preserve Philo's thought. According to H. A. Wolfson, Philo was a founder of religious philosophy, a new habit of practicing philosophy.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/p/philo.htm


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6 years ago  ::  Nov 20, 2007 - 12:39PM #92
BillWitt
Posts: 2,622
[QUOTE=Melancthon;81124]This is, of course, fallacious reasoning. [/QUOTE]

Where the heck did this syllogism come from?  It has no resemblance to the one I have been continually expressed.  Try the one below;   

A.  Mythology are a type of story (definition) which can either be true, or can be fiction.
B.  Fiction are stories which are not factually true. 
C.  Fiction may (or may not) be based on events which actually took place in history, but not as described in the story. Example:  Fictional character in war stories of battle which actually took place.
D.  The Gospels are mythology according to the definition.
E.   Some stories in the Gospels can be determine to be false, others parallel stories from other sources, and they contain contradictions and false statements.
F.  The stories in the Gospels are not factually true.
Therefore, they classify as fiction.   

2A.  Even though the Gospels classify as fiction, there might be some parts which are true.
2B.  There is no external evidence available (at least you haven't given any) to determine which parts might be true, if any. 
Therefore, the Gospels can't be used to determine historical information about Jesus from what you have presented so far.

Don't call this fallacious reasoning.  The one you gave is, but not the one I've continually expressed all the way through these discussions.  Don't you think I haven't taken (or maybe taught) courses in logic? 

[QUOTE=Melancthon;81124]I am using Luke's words to try to comprehend what Luke was trying to say. [/QUOTE]
 
One thing we are trying to determine is how trustworthy Luke's words are.  You don't determine this by listening to Luke's words.  This would be like accepting the word of a con-man who says, "Trust me, I'm telling you the truth. This is the true historical account."  You determine how trustworthy the author is by closely examining his writings to see if they are trustworthy. 

Listen to Luke's words (writings) and you would comprehend that he did not intend to give a historical record of Jesus.  It is right there in his writings.  He wrote stories which he knew were not true, wrote stories which appear to be borrowed from other sources, and included contradictions and false statement in his writings.  Listen to his writings if you want to comprehend his intent, it's right there in his writings. What was the author's intent for including all these problems in his writings?

[QUOTE=Melancthon;81124]If you saw a movie that began by making a statement that the movie was based on a true story and then after investigating you found a factual error in the story, would you then conclude that the movie couldn't have really been based on a true story? [/QUOTE]

If it were just one or two factual errors, no.  When you find them in almost every part of the stories which are supposedly historical events, YES.  Even more so, when entire parts (like Luke 2:1-6, or the trial by the Jews) do not conform to reality.  What was the author's intent for including these stories in his writings?

[QUOTE=Melancthon;81124]I'm simply claiming that he intends his story as being based in things that actually happened [/QUOTE]

I disagree.  If he wanted his story to be based on things which actually happened, he would have written them in a way that they could have actually happened.  Why didn't he?

[QUOTE=Melancthon;81124]Yes, and it's this for which I don't believe you have previously offered any evidence.
[/QUOTE] 

Neither have you given any evidence that it was his intent, except for his own claim.  One thing that is open to question is whether his claims are trustworthy.  Why should we take his word for it, the rest of his writings suggest that we should not?  Of course, you were the one who made the initial claim, and you had the burden to show your interpretation was correct.  All I did was to question whether your claim was true or not.

The evidence which suggest (not prove) this was not his intent is in his writing, his accounts are not as they would happen historically, and the use of opening (and closing) passages commonly used by other authors to try to make them appear more authoritative.   

[QUOTE=Melancthon;81124] What I am claiming is that he believed that Jesus was a real person who lived in Judea and was crucified, and that the story he is telling is the story of this real Jesus.[/QUOTE]

He probably did believe this, he had read the writings in Mark, and at the time he wrote, stories about Jesus had been circulating for a number of years.  Just because people believe certain things, does not make them true.  Some people believe in Bigfoot and space aliens.  This does not act as evidence of their existence.
The same standard should be applied to the Gospels.

Because of the problems in the author's writings, it sounds more like a story made-up by the author, or someone else, about a person they believed existed, but really had no knowledge of whether he actually did exist, or not.  Much like stories made up about Bigfoot around a campfire, or ones made-up by the old-boys religious network of story tellers.   

[QUOTE=Melancthon;81124]The examples you quote after this speak more to the question of pseudonymous authorship, which I don't dispute, than they do to the question of Luke's intentions, [/QUOTE]
 
Please reread them.  They also indicate they were giving an accurate account of the events which took place.  This is the same thing the author of Luke did in his opening passage. 

[QUOTE=Melancthon;81124]What I am claiming is that he believed that Jesus was a real person who lived in Judea and was crucified, and that the story he is telling is the story of this real Jesus. [/QUOTE]

Yes, he probably did believe this, but this does not act as evidence for a real Jesus.  People believe in a lot of things, as you well know.  The question is not whether he believed this, the question is whether there was a real Jesus.  With the many problems in the Gospels (as I have pointed out), they do not appear to be stories about a real person.  Besides these questionable stories, do you have any evidence to show that he was a real person?

Are you sure you're not starting with an underlying assumption that Jesus did exist, and then interpreting the writings using this assumption, to show that Jessus did exist?  I'm not sure, but when I see statements like, "the story he is telling is the story of this real Jesus' I start to wonder if this might be the case.  It is extremely hard for most Christian to avoid this problem.
"Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived." - -Isaac Asimov
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6 years ago  ::  Nov 20, 2007 - 2:44PM #93
Melancthon
Posts: 140
[QUOTE=BillWitt;82981]Don't you think I haven't taken (or maybe taught) courses in logic?[/QUOTE]

Maybe taught?

Honestly, I don't know if you've taken or taught courses in logic.  I don't know anything about you.  I did a google search to rectify that, and I found out that you are a 7th degree black belt, you were born in New Jersey in 1921, you are President of Wittco Systems, you ran for Oregon state senator in 2002, you wrote an article on basic meditation techniques in 1987, and you are an Anglican lay theologian living in the Pittsburgh area.  ;)

But more to the point, the syllogism you offered is rather convoluted and not very to the point.  I would think you could drop everything but F and not change the reasoning much.  I think the problem there is that you are using a rather rigid and anachronistic definition of fiction, and I'm not sure what you gain by defining the gospels as fiction in that manner.

In your second syllogism, I reject the claim that because there is no external evidence the gospels can't be used to determine anything about the historical Jesus.  They can't be used to prove anything with certainty, but we can make some reasonable educated guesses based on the gospels and external contextual information.


[QUOTE=BillWitt;82981]One thing we are trying to determine is how trustworthy Luke's words are.  You don't determine this by listening to Luke's words.[/QUOTE]

That's not the point I was arguing when you accused me of circular reasoning.  I was discussing Luke's intentions.


[QUOTE=BillWitt;82981]You determine how trustworthy the author is by closely examining his writings to see if they are trustworthy. [/QUOTE]

So you can use the text itself to draw conclusions about the text?  I agree.


[QUOTE=BillWitt;82981]Listen to Luke's words (writings) and you would comprehend that he did not intend to give a historical record of Jesus.  It is right there in his writings.  He wrote stories which he knew were not true, wrote stories which appear to be borrowed from other sources, and included contradictions and false statement in his writings.  Listen to his writings if you want to comprehend his intent, it's right there in his writings. What was the author's intent for including all these problems in his writings?[/QUOTE]

Once again, I think you are applying an anachronistic standard here.  When you say Luke did not intend to give a historical record, do you not mean that he did not intend to give what we might call an objective, journalistic report?

I'm not claiming that Luke intended to give an objective report free from his own personal interpretation and elaboration.  But that doesn't speak to the question of whether he is telling you the story of a historical person.

I honestly think you haven't grasped what kind of literature I've been saying the gospels are.



[QUOTE=BillWitt;82981]If it were just one or two factual errors, no.  When you find them in almost every part of the stories which are supposedly historical events, YES.  Even more so, when entire parts (like Luke 2:1-6, or the trial by the Jews) do not conform to reality.  What was the author's intent for including these stories in his writings?[/QUOTE]

Have you seen the movie Luther?  It is chock full of made up stories.  It's got Luther doing things he actually didn't do.  It's got characters of which there is no historical record.  It's simply not "factually true".  But it is based on a true story, and, in fact, conveys a sense of the significance of Luther's life rather well, probably better than a "factually true" script would have.



[QUOTE=BillWitt;82981]Neither have you given any evidence that it was his intent, except for his own claim.  One thing that is open to question is whether his claims are trustworthy.  Why should we take his word for it, the rest of his writings suggest that we should not?[/QUOTE]

Do you see the change you made here.  You went from talking about his intent, which is what I was using his prologue to establish, to questioning his trustworthiness, which I was not using his prologue to establish.



[QUOTE=BillWitt;82981]He probably did believe [Jesus was a historical person], he had read the writings in Mark, and at the time he wrote, stories about Jesus had been circulating for a number of years.[/QUOTE]

Alright!  Now we're getting somewhere.  This is what I'm saying: Luke believed Jesus was a historical person, he collected the existing stories about Jesus and put them in his gospel.  This gets us a step closer to the historical Jesus.  The oral traditions about Jesus are a step closer to the historical Jesus than the gospels.


[QUOTE=BillWitt;82981]Are you sure you're not starting with an underlying assumption that Jesus did exist, and then interpreting the writings using this assumption, to show that Jessus did exist?[/QUOTE]

I'm quite certain that I'm not doing that.  I didn't realize you were still trying to argue that Jesus was not a historical person.  The topic of this thread is the nature of the gospels, and that's what I've been discussing.

I've concluded that Jesus did exist based on my evaluation of an accumulation of evidence (the appearance of a group who seem to have believed he was a real person who had lived very recently, the fact that contemporaries of this group such as Josephus and Tacitus don't seem to question their belief that he was a real person, the plausibility of what I take to be the basic outline of the story, and the absence of any reason to believe that he was not a historical figure).  It's not absolute water-tight evidence, but it's as good as the evidence we have for most historical figures.

Having concluded that Jesus did exist, I am using the gospels to try to determine what can be known about him.
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6 years ago  ::  Dec 26, 2007 - 2:48PM #94
hoknes
Posts: 66
Yes the 4 gospels contradict each other.  That may not be a bad thing EXCEPT that most Christians believe God actualy wrote these gospels "himself".   So contradictions should proove that God did not influence the writings.  Once we realize regular men wrote these and there are major errors than we realize the stories were passed down and either got mixed up or exaggerated. 

It does appear to me that stories were told thousands of years ago to entertain and prove moral points but that the supernatural elements were included to make the stories more fantastic.  That is why historians can't figure out whats real and whats truly myth in all the old writings of all cultures.  So its likely that the OT and the  NT are based on some facts of reality but totally dressed up with the "religious" concepts just to prove points.

It does seem to me that if Jesus were real and truly "God" or the "Son of God"  that his impact would be great but the NT clearly states he  was only seen by disciples and friends and one particular time he was in public and seen by a generic 500 people.  This doesn't have much impact on his culture or especially the world to listen and/or follow God.   

Josephus does mention Jesus but its been suggested that a Christian added it in later.   Jesus may have been a real human person but the story of the NT totally overdoes it in trying to find ways to match Jesus up with prophecies from the OT.  If Jesus was truly connected with God, the writers would not have to try so hard to prove their point. 

It is possible that all the people,places,events in Israel during the NT are true events and that the mythical Jesus was simply placed into them - or exaggerated.

I've been heavily researching origins of Christianity and where it branched off from. It appears that almost every culture and religion has earlier roots and they all seem to stem back to primitive man worshiping the Sun in the sky and December 25th marks the day the Sun begins to rise after its death/lowest point on Dec 22nd. Today the sun is resurrected and its been 5000 years since we know man worshipped the Sun who has been transformed over time into a man named Jesus. Look forward to discussing this with others!
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 24, 2008 - 1:10PM #95
Annie1654
Posts: 74
The Gospels of the Bible is a History Lesson of the Life of Jesus Christ & His Disciples.  It branches off into how the Romans & Jews treated the Christians.  It even goes into how Chrisitans should live & act after the Death & Rising of Jesus from the Dead until His 2nd Coming.  Which some Scholars say it's close at hand.  Whom Am I to Know?  All we have to do is be ready for Him & His Angels.  That's the kind of Books the Gospels are history & life story of our Saviour, Lord Jesus Christ.
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 24, 2008 - 1:10PM #96
Annie1654
Posts: 74
The Gospels of the Bible is a History Lesson of the Life of Jesus Christ & His Disciples.  It branches off into how the Romans & Jews treated the Christians.  It even goes into how Chrisitans should live & act after the Death & Rising of Jesus from the Dead until His 2nd Coming.  Which some Scholars say it's close at hand.  Whom Am I to Know?  All we have to do is be ready for Him & His Angels.  That's the kind of Books the Gospels are history & life story of our Saviour, Lord Jesus Christ.
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