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4 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2011 - 3:45AM #1
Community.beliefnet.comstone
Posts: 180
A whole lot of rationalizing is involved in coming up with argument after argument after argument for discounting passage after passage after passage in Josephus, in Tacitus, in the Mishnah, in Pliny, in Suetonius and on and on and on, until finally the huge series of sheer coincidences needed for discounting a whole array of NON-Biblical sources assumes ridiculous proportions.  These NON-Biblical sources all confirm a strictly and entirely human Jesus of Nazareth who was an itinerant preacher who got crucified by the Romans -- not a magic man as described in a number of the texts in the N.T.

OTOH, at the same time, as somewhat of a skeptic myself when it comes to religions per se if not the notion of deity itself, I have often been on the receiving end of some really gratuitous mistreatment by Christians, as well as living in a country, the U.S.A., where our time-honored freedoms are seriously threatened today by would-be theocrats whose Christianity aids and abets a myth that this country was founded as a Christian country -- a pernicious lie, since the Constitution is explicitly nondenominational and even safeguards the freedom of ALL kinds of belief, thank you very much.

Given all this, Christians in this country are now doing a whole lot of harm, and even threatening many people's lives -- like the lives of the doctors in planned parenthood clinics, or even the lives of certain Congressmen (for instance, Representative Gifford), etc.

9/11 was also an important wake-up call warning us that all religions, not just Christianity, can foster in the minds of believers the dehumanization of anyone who doesn't think exactly like them.

Now look: If I, a mere skeptic, can feel threatened by the brutality and fanaticism of crusading marauding believers of all religious stripes -- and I was right in mid-Manhattan on that heartbreakingly clear September morning when fanatics slaughtered 3,000 innocents nearly ten years ago -- just imagine what a downright atheist must be feeling!  Some better educated atheists wonder why certain other atheists convince themselves of these crank myther arguments against the historicity of the human Jesus -- and I say the HUMAN Jesus because, frankly, I really feel the NON-Biblical sources support the conclusion that Jesus was entirely human only with none of the miracles that are associated with him in the N.T.  Well, atheists convince themselves of these crank myther arguments because of the hell that many atheists have been put through at the hands of many Christians and of predominantly Christian communities, plus the many prevarications that atheists have experienced from many Christians as well.

Small wonder that many atheists on line -- not the better-educated atheists whom my atheist parents who were both working PhD'd professors in academe introduced me to growing up and who synthesized, as atheists, the NON-Biblical sources as pointing to the historicity of a strictly human and 100% non-miraculous Jesus of Nazareth -- automatically, if irrationally, believe that anything that anyone says impugning the accuracy of anything related to Christian history, no matter how plausible and NON-magic/NON-miraculous in character, must be true!  Even if, say, the N.T. were to consistently refer to most human hands as having five fingers and even if that assertion were to be continually referenced in NON-Biblical sources, all it might take to make certain ill-educated irrational uneducated atheists guess otherwise would be just one crank polemicist to suggest that our usually thinking that we have five fingers on each hand is merely an illusion fostered by our acculturation with the N.T. with its "insidious" suggestion that most hands have five fingers each.  That's how irrationally distrustful and resentful many in the less educated on-line atheist community have become.  Yes, it's a shame they have become so; but who can blame such irrational atheists, given the horrors fostered by Christians and Muslims and other religionists for thousands of years?

Some here may now write in saying that having five fingers does not entail some kind of miracle whereas an historical Jesus of Nazareth does.  That is actually a ludicrously irrelevant statement because the corroborating evidence for an historical Jesus of Nazareth comes from an array of NON-Biblical sources that actually confirm a strictly human and non-magic Jesus of Nazareth only.  Thus, the historical Jesus of Nazareth that my atheist parents and their fellow atheist colleagues in academe concluded was historical involved biographical details like being an itinerant preacher and being crucified by the Romans -- details no more miraculous or unlikely than each human hand usually having five fingers.  THE MAGIC JESUS OF THE N.T. IS A STRAW MAN IN THIS ARGUMENT OVER HISTORICITY.

Others here may write in with the usual rehash of the forced arguments trotted out by robot mythers against the clear indications of the HUMAN Jesus of Nazareth's historicity in the NON-Biblical sources like Suetonius, Josephus, etc.  Of course, doing this will once again ignore the onus that is on mythers to explain away the sheer coincidences involved in arguing that we must discount a PLETHORA of NON-Biblical sources, not just one.  It's one thing to rehash some crank argument against one writer, say against Josephus.  But that's ultimately useless in making the myther argument convincing, because arguing against each writer by himself doesn't begin to address the ad hoc nature of a whole ludicrous array of ludicrously coincidental ad hoc arguments as a group(!) against a whole ARRAY of NON-Biblical sources.  Bluntly, each of these NON-Biblical sources point to a similar conclusion of a strictly HUMAN and non-magic Jesus of Nazareth having been historical.  The problem that mythers have is their unwillingness to see the whole array of fortuitous coincidences that is involved in their having to discount text after text after text of a NON-Biblical nature before they can even begin to make the myther case less than ludicrous.

For a myther to only address one text at a time is no longer rational today.  We are living in the second decade of the 21st century, and statements of faith no longer cut it.  Instead, mythers now have to address all such NON-Biblical texts together as a group, and they must find one parsimonious reason for discounting all of them as a class in a way that does not stub its toe on the principle of Occam's Razor, before their case can be anything other than a ludicrous statement of knee-jerk faith.

One poster I read some while back wrote in

"Well, the mythicists have explanations for all these passages. You could read "The Jesus Puzzle". For myself, I don't feel qualified to judge. I merely note that at least two qualified historians without a confessional interest feel that the mythicists have the better of it as far as the historical method is concerned."

As I understand it, "historians without a confessional interest" means "historians who are not Christians"(?).  Fine.  The problem is that, as I see it, surely an historian who is actually a Christian could conceivably come off as having much better credibility in arguing against his own inclinations that all the NON-Biblical sources can still be uniformly and coincidentally discounted.  In the same way, only an historian who is not a Christian can have better credibility in arguing against his own inclinations that the NON-Biblical sources still uniformly confirm that a certain Jesus of Nazareth was historical.

Now, I've seen instances of the latter, but never instances of the former.  What does that tell us?

Do you see now how the fanaticism and prevarication of religionists everywhere has only unleashed a curse that has helped turn people of all sides into irrational polemicists, plane-jackers and mythers alike?  Go and Google the Aesop fable about the boy who cried "WOLF!".  That boy could just as well be many a Christian.  Having told one lie too many, he was no longer believed when actually telling the truth.

It is human nature to accept desired positions without question.  It is also human nature to do other things as well: It is human nature to steal something valuable that may make someone materially better off than before; it is human nature to make someone else feel small and useless if it makes one feel important, and so on.  Humans, though, also have the gift of reason that can sometimes fend off against actions that are not wise in the long term.  Thus, we have the capacity to reach for reason and not just faith or our gut instinct in evaluating the pros and cons of stealing or of making someone else feel small and useless.

Similarly, we can use our reason to evaluate the apparent consilience of NON-Biblical sources as a whole in weighing the relative possibility of this or that set of events.  Thus, we can use our reason in evaluating alternate desired positions that we might otherwise accept without question.  When we desert that use of reason and accept alternate positions merely because they are desired, and in the teeth of opposing evidence like the apparent consilience of NON-Biblical sources as a whole in the historicity of a normal human Jesus of Nazareth, we desert the full potential of our humanity.  It is a betrayal both of our reasoning faculties and our humanity.

Many thoughtful people sincerely view a sole dependence on faith as a serious betrayal, a betrayal of the highest potential of our humanity and its capacity for reason, and it is for those reasons that many such thoughtful people are deeply troubled by the notion of religion.  Unfortunately, while religionists might arguably be viewed as simply betraying part of their humanity's fullest potential through a heavy dependence on faith without reason, nonbelievers who are mythers are betraying something else in addition and are therefore much worse: They are also betraying a solemnly professed adherence to reason and rationalism, which my atheist parents happened to take very, very seriously indeed.  In rejecting reason by ignoring the consilience of NON-Biblical sources evidencing an historical entirely human Jesus of Nazareth, the myther betrays both his humanity and also his own professed dependence on reason at one and the same time by depending wholly on faith for his absurd myther position in the face of the consilience of NON-Biblical sources!

The imputation of hypocrisy is thus valid against such an atheist; not just the betrayal of humanity's reasoning faculties.  An atheist who is a myther becomes a gibbering faith-dependent addict, without even the courage and honesty to say so, unlike an honest religionist, who at least has the honesty to admit to being faith-dependent, thereby placing himself one notch above the hypocritical myther who pretends that he is not faith-dependent at all when he very well is.

Walther
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4 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2011 - 10:32AM #2
teilhard
Posts: 51,195

Yes ... Ironically, while EVERYONE writes from and to a Point of View and " ... lives and moves and has her/his being ... " in a concerted World-View, NOT everyone is inclined to KNOW this -- and admit to this -- openly, or even to themselves ...


The "Historicity" Question (re: "Jesus") is a FAR Different one than the Religious-Faith Commitments (re: "Christ") ...


Mar 8, 2011 -- 3:45AM, Community.beliefnet.comstone wrote:

A whole lot of rationalizing is involved in coming up with argument after argument after argument for discounting passage after passage after passage in Josephus, in Tacitus, in the Mishnah, in Pliny, in Suetonius and on and on and on, until finally the huge series of sheer coincidences needed for discounting a whole array of NON-Biblical sources assumes ridiculous proportions.  These NON-Biblical sources all confirm a strictly and entirely human Jesus of Nazareth who was an itinerant preacher who got crucified by the Romans -- not a magic man as described in a number of the texts in the N.T.



THE MAGIC JESUS OF THE N.T. IS A STRAW MAN IN THIS ARGUMENT OVER HISTORICITY.


As I understand it, "historians without a confessional interest" means "historians who are not Christians"(?).  Fine.  The problem is that, as I see it, surely an historian who is actually a Christian could conceivably come off as having much better credibility in arguing against his own inclinations that all the NON-Biblical sources can still be uniformly and coincidentally discounted.  In the same way, only an historian who is not a Christian can have better credibility in arguing against his own inclinations that the NON-Biblical sources still uniformly confirm that a certain Jesus of Nazareth was historical.




Similarly, we can use our reason to evaluate the apparent consilience of NON-Biblical sources as a whole in weighing the relative possibility of this or that set of events.  Thus, we can use our reason in evaluating alternate desired positions that we might otherwise accept without question.  When we desert that use of reason and accept alternate positions merely because they are desired, and in the teeth of opposing evidence like the apparent consilience of NON-Biblical sources as a whole in the historicity of a normal human Jesus of Nazareth, we desert the full potential of our humanity.  It is a betrayal both of our reasoning faculties and our humanity.



Walther




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4 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2011 - 12:29PM #3
Community.beliefnet.comstone
Posts: 180

Mar 8, 2011 -- 10:32AM, teilhard wrote:


Yes ... Ironically, while EVERYONE writes from and to a Point of View and " ... lives and moves and has her/his being ... " in a concerted World-View, NOT everyone is inclined to KNOW this -- and admit to this -- openly, or even to themselves ...


The "Historicity" Question (re: "jesus") is a FAR Different one than the Religious-Faith Commitments (re: "Christ") ...



 


Oh, a few of the mythers do get the distinction between the entirely human Jesus of Nazareth and the magic man called Christ.  But they often pretend that it doesn't exist and that Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ are one and the same in order purely to confuse.  Keep in mind that they are not real scholars in that they are out to frame the data around an a priori point of view rather than arrive at a point of view through examining all the data first.  The latter is what an honest scholar does.  The former is what a propagandist does and is what many a myther does.  In fact, the former is very much like the judge in Alice In Wonderland, who announces "Verdict first, evidence afterwards".


It's time to drop the other shoe and let readers know what I was after in the previous thread that devolved into a pissing contest and was locked (community.beliefnet.com/go/thread/view/4...).


I had cited the following remarks from an apparent myther I had encountered on the Web --


"There are earlier references, but they aren't any good. They either   just repeat what Christians were telling them -- Christians who were   just riffing on the New Testament -- or they're actually fabricated by   Christians themselves and the most famous example is a whole paragraph   in the early Jewish historian, Josephus, which nearly everybody agrees   was snuck into that book by a later Christian scribe, who was evidently annoyed that Josephus forgot to mention Jesus, so when he copied the   book out he made sure to -- you know -- just add a paragraph. You   generally don't have to add paragraphs to other people's history books   for a guy who actually existed. Pretty much if you're inserting a guy   into history who wasn't there before, usually that means he really   wasn't there before. Now that leaves us just with the New Testament..."


Please note what this lecturer is doing.  He strongly implies that the extant text of Josephus's Antiquities only provides one mention of Jesus of Nazareth, not two!  That is the plain implication in "a later Christian scribe, who was evidently annoyed that Josephus forgot to mention Jesus".  Forgot to mention Jesus of Nazareth?  Even if we take one of Josephus's TWO mentions of Jesus of Nazareth as interpolated -- the myther's favorite fall-back position -- this lecturer is still referencing only one of the two mentions as being scribally interpolated, not both.  How sloppy -- or sneaky.  This lecturer plainly references this meddling scribe only in connection with a "paragraph", which clearly points to the mention of Jesus of Nazareth in Antiquities 18 only, since the other one, in Antiquities 20, is a sentence, not a paragraph.  The lecturer is strongly implying here that in the absence of his scribally interpolated mention in Antiquities 18, no further mention of Jesus of Nazareth exists in the extant text of Antiquities at all!  How sloppy this lecturer is, at best, and at worst, what a bald-faced liar.  What this lecturer strongly implies as a result is simply and manifestly wrong.  There IS another mention of Jesus of Nazareth in Antiqs., and it's in the form of a sentence, not a paragraph, and it's in Antiq. 20, not Antiq. 18.


Now the mention in Antiq. 18 has already occasioned some general doubts among peer-reviewed surveys,  due to certain turns of phrase that seem rather unlike Josephus.   Josephus's other Jesus mention in Antiq. 20 has not occasioned the same  kind of peer-reviewed doubts at all, and how suspiciously convenient that our lecturer here completely ignores this second mention entirely -- in fact, seems to imply that the second mention in Antiq. 20 doesn't even exist in the extant text of Antiqs. at all!  How very, very, VERY convenient -- and seemingly  deliberate -- for our lecturer to imply so strongly that the only Jesus  mention in Josephus is the one -- in Antiq. 18 -- for which there are already some  peer-reviewed doubts!  To seem to pretend that the less questioned  Antiq. 20 doesn't even exist is highly misleading at best.  I wanted to see if anyone would spot that.  No one here did.


Ironically, though, another poster in the locked thread ended up doing something quite similar!  So I called him on it.  And he replied "The reference in Book 20 is so obviously an interpolation and certainly not about Jesus, I didn't even think of it."  I have no reason to believe he's not being entirely candid here.  Mythers like him and the lecturer I referenced in my OP have gotten so used to assuming that their bizarre opinions are fact that they sometimes don't think twice in coming out with their more absurd statements.


It's time to identify the lecturer I was referencing in my OP at community.beliefnet.com/go/thread/view/4... It was Richard Carrier in a video'd lecture at www.youtube.com/watch?v=pX4LvKvIWJw.  The remarks I quote come at 01:48 - 2:31.


Walther


Mar 8, 2011 -- 3:45AM, Community.beliefnet.comstone wrote:

A whole lot of rationalizing is involved in coming up with argument after argument after argument for discounting passage after passage after passage in Josephus, in Tacitus, in the Mishnah, in Pliny, in Suetonius and on and on and on, until finally the huge series of sheer coincidences needed for discounting a whole array of NON-Biblical sources assumes ridiculous proportions.  These NON-Biblical sources all confirm a strictly and entirely human Jesus of Nazareth who was an itinerant preacher who got crucified by the Romans -- not a magic man as described in a number of the texts in the N.T.



THE MAGIC JESUS OF THE N.T. IS A STRAW MAN IN THIS ARGUMENT OVER HISTORICITY.


As I understand it, "historians without a confessional interest" means "historians who are not Christians"(?).  Fine.  The problem is that, as I see it, surely an historian who is actually a Christian could conceivably come off as having much better credibility in arguing against his own inclinations that all the NON-Biblical sources can still be uniformly and coincidentally discounted.  In the same way, only an historian who is not a Christian can have better credibility in arguing against his own inclinations that the NON-Biblical sources still uniformly confirm that a certain Jesus of Nazareth was historical.




Similarly, we can use our reason to evaluate the apparent consilience of NON-Biblical sources as a whole in weighing the relative possibility of this or that set of events.  Thus, we can use our reason in evaluating alternate desired positions that we might otherwise accept without question.  When we desert that use of reason and accept alternate positions merely because they are desired, and in the teeth of opposing evidence like the apparent consilience of NON-Biblical sources as a whole in the historicity of a normal human Jesus of Nazareth, we desert the full potential of our humanity.  It is a betrayal both of our reasoning faculties and our humanity.



Walther




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4 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2011 - 1:40PM #4
teilhard
Posts: 51,195

Absolutely ...


There ARE Historical-Critical Scholars who are measured, meticulous, careful in stating the (possible) CONCLUSIONS from their Studies ... But the FIRST Duty of ANY Scholar is to KNOW and be openly CLEAR about The Assumptions, Pre-Suppositions, Point-of-View OF the Scholar ...


Been there, done all that ...


One of my own Favorites is Walter Brueggemann ...


He is a genuine Scholar who is also a Person of DEEP Personal Faith, whose Scholarly Writings WELL illustrate that there IS no necessary CONFLICT between "Faith" and "Scholarship" ...


E.g., see his Recent Book:


"Disruptive Grace: Reflections on God, Scripture, and The Church." (2011, Fortress) ...


from p. 296 --


"Imagination is the capacity to picture (image!) the world out beyond what we take as established given.


Imagination is an ability to hold loosely what the world assumes and to walk into alternative contours of reality, which we have only in hint and trace.


Imagination is the peculiar province of artists, artists of all kinds; it is for that reason that artists are always at the edge of causing trouble, always seen to be troublemakers whom establishment types view with suspicion.


The vocation of the artist is to provide a sub-version of reality that insistently subverts the ordinary."


 


Then ... see ... The "Material-ist" Skeptic will almost immediately JUMP upon Brueggemann's Invocation of "Imagination," proclaiming triumphantly, "See !!!  SEE ???  Even Brueggemann himself openly ADMITS that it's ALL 'imaginary,' made-up, FICTIONAL ... !!!" ... thus missing entirely what the Author actually SAID ...


Hence ... the IMMENSE Gulf of Dis-Connect that passes for "Discussion" in this "kind" of Forum (which "Forum" more often resembles a Venue for Gladiators than an Open Space for Open Conversations) ...


Better ... in my Experience and Opinion ... to seek comprehensive Deep UNDERSTANDING rather than a "Win" listed in the ongoing (distracting !!! FALSE !!!) Culture-War Battles ...


See, counter-intuitively, ironically, THESE Days the "establishment types" (as per Brueggemann, above) are The Materialist-Skeptic Devotees who assume and assert THEIR (now received) "World-View" as "given" ...


The "artist - troublemakers" (again, as per Brueggemann, above) are the intuitive-imaginatively inclined "Post-Modern" Interpreters who say, "Not so fast ... " when The (supposed) Triumphs of 19th Century "Scientific-History" are trotted-out ...


Mar 8, 2011 -- 12:54PM, Community.beliefnet.comstone wrote:


Mar 8, 2011 -- 12:42PM, teilhard wrote:


Yes ... The interesting Dilemma of course arises in the Fact that "Modernity" encompasses Its OWN "Mythos" revolving around (supposed) Scientific-Historical "Objectivity" and Reliable Veracity religiously offered-up by ITS Devotees ... 


The "Modern" hubris is that we ASSERT more than we can or do actually KNOW "as if" Assertion IS Fact (until "proved" otherwise) ...




Frankly, that is only what pseudo-researchers like the mythers do.  That is not what the more serious and responsible scholars like Ehrman do.  Not only are the latter always careful never to be dogmatic in what they say, but they are usually conscientious in stressing that they are presenting what appears to be the most likely, given the extant data.  They rarely make a claim for certainty, only for greater likelihood.


Candidly,


Walther





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4 years ago  ::  Mar 26, 2011 - 11:34AM #5
RJMcElwain
Posts: 2,955

Just a heads-up.


This thread is rapidly moving in the direction of lock-up.

Robert J. McElwain

"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." (Supposedly)Thomas Jefferson

"He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral."
St. Thomas Aquinas

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. Plato
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3 years ago  ::  May 31, 2011 - 12:10PM #6
teilhard
Posts: 51,195

The Meta-Questions always haunt any Discussions such as these ...


One's "World-View" gives a Paradigm or Structure or Filter to one's Thoughts and Directions that often pre-Determine what one will even CONSIDER seriously ...


For Example, "Conspiracy Theories" (and their Proponents) I almost NEVER take seriously ...


I DIDN'T take Immanuel Velikovsky ("Worlds in Collision") seriously  AT  ALL for a long Time ... BUT ... Now the generally accepted Orthodoxy is that The Earth-Moon System originated from a Collision of Earth and a "Mars-Size" Object ... And only a couple Weeks ago, Astronomers have announced Discoveries indicating that "Orphan Planets," i.e., in Orbit around NO Star, may not be all that uncommon ... So ... Velikovsky WASN'T wrong about EVERYTHING ...


In some Respects, The Biblical Story World is  ALL  ABOUT  "Realities-in-Collision" ...

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