Reasonable Doubt About the Resurrection

I will not be so bold as to say that I can prove the resurrection didn't happen but I will argue that it has not been proven that it happened and there is no reason to believe it happened based on the evidence. There are three other plausible hypotheses two of which are introduced in the Bible itself for what might have happened to the body of Jesus. It might have been stolen, or since Jesus was only on the cross for about six hours, he might not have been dead at all. The Koran tells us that he wasn't. Another plausible explanation is that the story of the resurrection might have been Folklore.


"Folklore whether oral or written is characterized by multiple existence and variation. The variation may be reflected in such details as different names, different numbers, or different sequences of lines" (Dundes, 7). This would also account for the different stories between Paul and the Gospels.

The argument as I understand goes like this.
Premise1: The Gospels are a testimony that the resurrection happened
Warrant1: We would expect testimony for something this important

Premise2: The gospels support each others testimony within reason
Warrant2: We would expect there to be variation in different testimonies.

Premise3: There is no body
Warrant3: There would be no body if he was taken up to heaven.

Premise4: People suffered and died to defend the idea of the resurrection
Warrant4: People would not suffer and die to defend if it were not true.

Conclusion: The resurrection happened.

There are strong and weak forms of evidence and argument. Testimony is regarded as weak evidence because it is based on a presumption of the honesty of the speaker. Presumptions from testimony are defeasible because they are not based on objective 'hard' evidence. They can be overturned by the introduction of new information. Corroboration can make testimony stronger. Expert witness testimony is stronger based on the presumption that the expert is in a "position to know". Objective or 'hard' evidence can make testimony stronger. First hand testimony is more plausible than second hand testimony. One way to test testimony is cross-examination. Cross-examination checks for consistency and plausibility. In a legal case, witnesses are required to swear to the truth of their statements introducing pressure on them to tell the truth under penalty of law (Walton). In the case of the Gospels, there is no clear pressure from consequences to tell the truth and the length of time from the source make it unlikely that a challenge would be issued among believers.

In the case of the scriptures, Paul (50-60CE) was the earliest account of the resurrection. His details don't match with the Gospels. Mark was second (65-80 CE), his don't match with what the other three said even if Matthew (80-100CE) and Luke (80-130 CE) copied Mark heavily to make their own. John (90-120CE) is farthest away from the incident, up to 90 years after the fact (Home). This is not corroboration, this is plagiarism and it would not have been a violation of the principles of canonization since they were not canonized yet. It is unlikely that the apostles or even eyewitnesses wrote any of the Gospels. That makes them at least second hand testimony.

Since Mark was probably not an eyewitness, he must have put his Gospel together from a source such as 'oral tradition'; stories he heard, collected and wrote down and/or other writings. He may not have realized that the major points of his resurrection story came from Daniel, especially chapter 6. The irony is that Daniel in the Lions Den is similar to Aesops Fable "The Lion and the Slave" written up to 500 years before (Aesop). Another characteristic of the Book of Daniel is that according to Tim Callahan, "in general the history in Daniel is so corrupted that it must be (written) by someone who lived much later and was unfamiliar with the specifics of a far-off time (Callahan, 335).

The points of similarity to Daniel 6 are as follows.
* The leader of a nation opposed to the spokesman for Gods people (Darius of Persia, Joseph of Arimathea)
* Yet one who reveres that spokesman (Daniel, Jesus)
* Though greatly distressed, feels obliged to place the spokesman into a pit in the ground and cover it with a stone (Lions Den, Tomb).
* An act that clearly means a permanent end.
* The Death of the spokesman is required by Law (Law of the Medes and Persians, the Law of Rome)
* The executor is reluctant to enforce it (Darius, Pilate)
* Despite reluctance and delay, late in the afternoon, both are placed in the pit
* Both are covered by a stone
* In both stories the one who put the stone in place has hope in the providence of God
* Early on a subsequent morning the pit is approached by those who care for the hero,
* Next comes joyful news
* The stone is removed
* death is miraculously overcome
* and deliverence is assisted by another entity
(Helms, 135)

Years later, Matthew and Luke evidently realized the source and modified Marks to create their own and make it match the Old Testament better. (Helms) Marks Gospel presented a problem because he had the women going to anoint the body and finding the body gone, a more plausible explanation than a resurrection would be that the body was stolen. Matthew 27:64 fixed this by having guards placed at the tomb to prevent that. This is called Redaction and typical of Folklore so this was not something necessarily deceitful.

So Paul was first, years after the fact. Mark was second even further after the fact. He said a youth told the women that Christ was risen, but they didn't tell anyone. Matthew Addresses the possibility that the body had been stolen, but changes the facts in his story to make that implausible, and changing the youth to an angel having the guards fall prostrate. Mark says that Jesus could not do miracles in home town because of their unbelief. Many of the best psychics have had that experience, especially in the midst of skeptics. Mark makes Jesus sound normal, and that his body was stolen. Mark was the closest to the event. There is no corroboration for Mark. Mark is unique. The most significant thing they agree on is that there was no body.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was on the cross for six hours or a little more. In fact, Pilate was surprised he was dead (Matt. 27). It appears to be unusual for six hours of crucifixion to kill a man. The historian Josephus wrote about pleading for a reprieve for two of his crucified friends and reports that one of them lived. Roman-style crucifixions usually resulted in the victim dying of suffocation after days. Ritual crucifixion happens in the Philippines, even in some cases using nails through the hands not resulting in death (Crucifixion). A New Scientist magazine article says that in some cases the time it takes to die could be short but overall the intent of crucifixion was torture till death and in some cases, the legs were broken to hasten death (Cross). The Bible tells us Jesus legs weren’t broken. Joseph of Arimethea went to ask for the body and got it. The Koran may be right in saying that Jesus wasn't dead yet:

4:157 And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain.

This would explain sightings after the fact, but it is not clear if he went straight to heaven, to Galilee or if he hung out in Jerusalem for a little while. It would make sense if he went straight to Galilee (Marks version) if he survived and was making an escape.

He was in the tomb less than 48 hours. Friday evening to Sunday morning is not 48 hours. Three days is seventy two hours. They were at least 24 hours short of seventy two hours. The sign of Jonah was three days not one day and two nights. To say that Jesus was in the tomb for three days requires a bit of equivocation on the meaning of "three days".

The Gospel of Mark is similar to Daniel in the Lions den, and Daniel in the Lions den is similar to Aesops "The Lion and the Slave". The characteristics of Folklore are multiple existence and variation

Premise1: The Gospels are a testimony that the resurrection happened
Warrant1: We would expect testimony for something this important
Rebuttal: The Gospels were not eyewitness testimony. The Gospels have characteristics of Folklore. They could just as well be folklore.

Premise2: The gospels support each others testimony within reason
Warrant2: We would expect there to be variation in different testimonies.
Rebuttal: The stories are all inconsistent in the details, show signs of significant plagiarism, and were written at least a decade apart from each other. This is a characteristic of Folklore.

Premise3: There is no body
Warrant3: There would be no body if he was taken up to heaven.
Rebuttal: Jesus could have survived the crucifixion and had help getting out of the tomb. The story could also have been folklore.

Premise4: People suffered and died to defend the idea of the resurrection
Warrant4: People would not suffer and die to defend if it were not true.
Rebuttal: People suffer and die for Islam all the time.

Conclusion: The resurrection happened.

I think anyone would be justified in having a reasonable doubt about the resurrection.

References:

"Aesop". Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2007. 31 Mar. 2007.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesop

The Bible

Callahan, Tim. 2002. Secret Origins of The Bible. California. Millennium Press.

"Cross Examination". 1995. Richard Forrest Nottingham. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=lw195

"Crucifixion." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 2007. 31 Mar. 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion

Dundes, Alan. Holy Writ as Oral Lit: The Bible as Folklore. Lanham, Maryland. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

"Home".Early Christian Writings. Early Christian Writings, 2007. 31 Mar. 2007.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

Helms, Randel. 1988. Gospel Fictions. Amherst, New York. Prometheus Books.

The Koran 4:157.

Walton, Douglas N. 1992. The Place of Emotion in Argument. University Park, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania State University Press.



58 comments:

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

The trouble with the Resurrection story is not that it did not happen. That is obvious, even if you accept the 'possibility of the miraculous.' Let's look at the primary absurdity in it. And the best way to do that is the classic reductio ad absurdum.

Let's accept that Jesus is God, for the moment. That he came to Earth with a message for all mankind -- whatever that message was. That he -- and here the absurdity starts -- chose to incarnate himself as a poor carpenter's son in Galillee and chose to deliver the message by telling a relative handful of people about it, knowing they would go on to tell others after his death and resurrection.
Let's assume, as we have to, that this message was important to him, that he wanted as many people as possible to hear it and receive it. (If he truly loved mankind, he had to feel this. Maybe he accepted that there were many people he could not reach because of the problems of communication and transportation at the time -- and again I ask why he chose then to incarnate himself. Maybe he knew that there were hundreds of millions in Asia, in America, in Europe who would die without hearing his message because he couldn't reach them in time. But he had to want to reach and 'convert' as many people as was feasible, getting to the others later.)

He was born into the greatest empire of the time, one of the greatest of all times, and one which had made considerable strides in both communication and transportation. He has chosen to resurrect himself. Why does he not appear in front of Caiphas, and instantly convert the Jews? More, why doesn't he walk into Pilate's palace? "Hi there, remember me? The one who you crucified the day before yesterday? NOW do you understand that what I was teaching was real? C'mon, I know that you have the ear of the Emperor. Let's go to Rome and you can tell him what happened, no, we can go together and SHOW him. You can tell him who I was, and what happened, and we'll bring some of the Jews with us, and some of the soldiers who were at the Crucifixion. That way, we'll have the entire Empire spreading my message throughout its limits, and even beyond, because of all the tradesmen that hang out in Rome."

No, he chose instead to appear in front of his own followers, trusting eventually that they'd tell others, that Peter would get to Rome a few decades later. Even more, he then picks a rabbi who'd never even met him to be the one to explain the 'real' meaning of his message, and not even his own brother who'd apparently lived with him for thirty years and still 'didn't get it.'

And what excuse did he use for this particularly ridiculous way of getting the message through. We can only look at his words to Thomas, "blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed." Will some believer out there please explain to me how this makes any sense at all? Why is believing the testimony of someone else better than actually having evidence? (Especially since, supposedly, he warned that there would be many people falsely 'speaking in his name.' Why is it better to risk sincere believers being deceived rather than give them uncontrovertible evidence?)

In the next post I'll discuss some of the other events that are supposed to have occurred at that time. But for now I'll ask the question: So, did the resurrection occur?

My answer, to quote my favorite rationalist/detective:

Pfui!

Anonymous said...

A nonbeliever looks at the story of Easter and says the odds are too impossible!. A believer looks at the story of Easter and recognizes the miracle of overcoming impossible odds. Two different pardigms.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Mr. Anonymous:
If your comment was directed towards me, please go back and actually READ what I wrote, since I deliberately framed my comment to avoid this sort of response.
My entire point was that if you accept the resurrection in its own terms, the least you can convict Jesus of is extreme stupidity -- since he could at least have chosen to appear more publicly and given his message a greater impetus -- imagine if Caiphas had been the one to testify to the resurrection. At worst he can be accused of extreme callousness in that he could have convinced Pilate to have gone to Rome itself and testified to his resurrection, along with a cadre of soldiers and other witnesses. By failing to do that, he must be held responsible -- in the Christian frame of reference -- for those Romans who 'died without knowledge of the truth' between the time of the resurrection and Peter and Paul's arrival in Rome, and can even bear some blame for those Romans who did not accept the Christian truth because -- for two centuries -- it was only being preached by missionaries, when it could have been the Roman Emperor promulgating it, or the important Roman leaders -- as they were to do later, post-Constantine.
Either that, or you have to assume that Jesus did not consider his message important enough to have it spread the most efficiently, that he preferred the game of 'Chinese telephones' to allowing mankind to receive it.

Of course, as far as the actual event, I'll discuss the whole series of narratives of 'Holy Week" in my next post.

One Wave said...

I would recommend reading "The Case For Christ" by Lee Strobel and then comparing what you have read with what he has written.

One Wave said...

Wow Lee! What a great format, very readable and easy to follow.

I think the most important statement you made is that you believe Jesus could have survived the crucifixion.

If you believe that he was crucified I would be interested in what you have to say after delving into some research about that process. Would the Romans let a man down without being dead?

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Let's look at the reliability of the narratives about "Holy Week" that we find in the Gospels. Certainly if the evangelists got these things wrong there is little reason to accept their claims about an event that would require the utmost evidence to accept.

Let's look at three specific parts of the narrative, the time at Gethsemane, the Trial and the (miraculous) events that supposedly occurred during the Crucifixion.

Literalist Christian apologists repeatedly argue that 'the Gospels are the work of eyewitnesses, that they only wrote what they saw, and that the contradictions are those natural to eyewitnesses.' (On the other hand, most scholars would doubt all of the above, seeing Matthew and Luke as merely re-editings of Mark -- whether with or without a "Q," a listing of Jesus' sayings, and John as a much later creation, composed by someone who, had he been an eyewitness would have been in his nineties -- a much rarer age to reach then than now.)

Gethsemane certainly is a story that calls into question the idea of 'eyewitnesses.' It specifically states that Jesus took three disciples with him, Peter, James and John (according to Matthew and Mark, Luke just says 'the disciples', and John does not tell the story at all). But the story states that he was alone when he prayed, the first two versions having the 3 disciples falling asleep, the third, the one with the angel appearing happening out of the disciple's vision. This occurred directly before the arrest, after which there is no time when Jesus has a chance to talk with the disciples. How did the writers know what happened? Who was an eyewitness, except, possibly to the falling asleep of the disciples?

But the Trial is not merely unattested -- no disciples were actually in the various chambers where it supposedly took place -- it is so improbable that, whatever happened it couldn't have been what appears in the Gospels.

The Last Supper was a Passover meal, a seder. This is stated by all three Synoptics. The Passover, the holiest of Jewish holidays, had begun. Jews did not and do not work on the Passover. This includes courts and political bodies. The Sanhedrin also, according to its own laws, did not meet at night.
But we have it meeting in the middle of the night, on the Passover, to hold a trial -- even after supposedly saying that they would NOT arrest Jesus during the Passover. (Eyewitness? Who was there to hear the deliberations?)

Then Jesus is shuttled back and forth between the Jews and Pilate, the Jews accusing him -- in the trial that couldn't have happened -- of blasphemy. Pilate doesn't care about blasphemy, no Roman legate would, so they accuse him of claiming to be 'the king of the Jews, the Messiah.' Pilate still wants to release him, but the people -- the same people who, a few verses before would revolt if he were arrested -- cry out that he should be crucified. The contradictions continue, and again, there was no 'eyewitness' to any of this.

But the ultimate example of the unreliability of other parts of the story are the tales of the 'wonders' during the time on the cross.

Matthew: a darkness over the land, an earthquake, the temple curtain ripping, and dead people arising from their graves and wandering around Jerusalem, where 'many people saw them.' (Matthew is confusing, since he has the dead people waking up during the crucifixion, but coming out of their graves after the resurrection.)

Mark: darkness and the temple curtain tearing, no earthquake, no dead people

Luke: same as Mark

John: (who has it on the eve of Passover according to some translations) no wonders at all.

Now I'm sorry, but either there were a lot of dead people wandering around Jerusalem or there weren't.
(I mean, I'll go along with the idea that people didn't notice an earthquake, or forgot to mention it, but a whole bunch of dead people 'appearing to many' -- it's Matthew 27: 52-53 would have been noticed and remarked upon by all four Evangelists, and everybody else around. In fact, if it did happen, then the reappearance of Jesus would hardly have been the novelty it is supposed to be. 'Hi, Jesus, you came back too. Glad to see you, I saw Zvi ben Jehudah yesterday, if I see him again, I'll give him your best. Oh, sorry, didn't realize that you were the main one.')

Okay, you have a story that nobody saw that is there, you have a trial, again witnessed by none of Jesus' followers -- unless you argue that there were secret folowers in the Sanhedrin, and even they didn't go into Pilate's chambers -- that couldn't have happened according to everything we know about the Sanhedrin, and an earthquake and an invasion of walking dead people that only one evangelist noticed.
And these writers give us the ONLY evidence of a supposed resurrection -- Paul argues how important it was, but he never saw the risen Jesus or even the unrisen one. All Paul knew about Jesus came in a vision.

Again, there is no evidence of any of this outside the gospel. Even the (extremely arguable) passage in Josephus mentions the crucifixion, but not the resurrection, the tearing of the curtain, the earthquakes, or the walking corpses. Nobody else does either.

Again

Pfui!

Lee Randolph said...

One Wave,
I don't know if jesus lived,
I do know that it is highly unlikely that the resurrection story is true.
Would the Romans let someone down if they weren't dead? read the text of my article more closely and you will see that they did, documented by the famous Josephus (Christians love his 'evidence for christ') may or may not be intentionally, and who knows anyway at this point we are out in speculation land.
I would appreciate it if you would refute my rebuttal instead of posing rhetorical questions.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Prup,
That was an awesome couple of comments. I am really happy you added that.

One thing I would like to add, is that there is no extra-biblical corroboration for the darkness, earthquakes or dead walking when there should be for miracles that should affect more than the storytellers

On a different but related topic, the extending of the day in the old testament is not corroborated historically in any other part of the world. People on the opposite side of the should have noticed a really long night, not to mention all sorts or predictably related natural disasters that would have had to occur all over the world.

One Wave said...

I would love the opportunity to form a complete counter rebuttal or at least just a response, but it will take a couple of days.

Meanwhile you might be interested in this quote recorded by Julius Africanus from Thallus who was likely a first century historian:

"On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Savior falls on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth--manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period. (XVIII.1) "

I found this quote at christian-thinktank.com .

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

One Wave:
You are one of the believers I find worthy of respect. However, may I suggest that you cross-check your references. As soon as I saw your comment, since I was unsure of the reference, I searched the name at the Internet Sacred Text website -- and I again suggest that anyone here who is able support this wonderful compilation.

No, Julius Africanus was not a pagan historian, but rather an 'ante-Nicean father of the Church.' He is merely quoting Matthew and other Christian writers who may be lost to us -- we have only fragments of his writing itself left out of what was apparently a five-volume work. You can find it all at
http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/006/0060050.htm

He mentions Phlegon. Information can be found about him at several places in the archive, including
http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/007/0070262.htm
though his work is, except for quotes such as the one you give, 'entirely lost.'

(Interestingly enough, there is a reference to his work as being the inspiration of Goethe's Die Braut von Korinth in a work on the Vampire in Literature at
http://www.sacred-texts.com/goth/vkk/vkk07.htm)
You might find it useful to Google "Phlegon" at the site or in general. He hardly seems to be a reliable author, even from the few fragments we have of his work.

The great advantage of the Web, and of Google is that it is now possible to check a reference without spending weeks in dusty back-corners of libraries. Any time you see a quote like this, or the quotes I include, any time you see ANYTHING similar in a discussion on religion, check it out and don't take the simple assertion as fact.
(I happen to believe that you will find yourself amazed at the general accuracy of the anti-Christians, and even more amazed at the dubiousness of Christian quotes, but, of course, I am biased. Let us know, though.)

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave,
Thank you for you participation, I really appreciate it.

I checked out your reference, I don't have big library or the time to do the kind of research I'd like to. However, I do find wikipedia generally good source and I found some information there. The Journal Nature found Wikipedia to be a good source of information but was challenged by Encyclopedia Britannica. That’s understandable. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a.html

Sextus Julius Africanus died around 250 ad. He wrote a sort of 'encyclopedia' of the world. He put creation at ~5510 BCE. He was not in the right timeframe.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Africanus

Thallus was a historian in the first century so he was in the right timeframe. He is first mentioned around 180 ad by Theopilus Bishop of Antioch. The bishop wrote that "Thallus makes mention of Belus, the King of the Assyrians, and Cronus the Titan; and says that Belus, with the Titans, made war against Zeus and his compeers, who are called gods."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thallus_%28historian%29

So do you believe in Zeus and the Titans as well?

I've only seen one mention of an eclipse at 29ce but I'm looking for corroboration. What year was the crucifixion?

Phlegon mentions the darkness, but since there was full moon that makes the eclipse unlikely if not impossible. Also, an important aspect of checks and balances in scholarship and science is the consensus of experts. Seneca, Pliney, Josephus and other historians failed to record this event (Carrier, Richard. 1999. Thallus: an Analysis.
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/thallus.htm)

I find your quote highly suspect.

Hi Prup,
I will take your advice and consider supporting that site.
thanks for the info!

Anonymous said...

Hi Prup! Anon here (BTW, it's Miss Anon)...Why would you write your comment to avoid a response such as mine? Jesus spoke of the existance of two very distinct and antagonistic viewpoints regarding the spiritual realm/God. I think sites like this testify to the validity of such a truth.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, after the dead people arose, the centurions said: "Surely this man must have been the Son of God."

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Miss Anon: I shaped my argument because I am used to the believer's cry of "Credo quia incredible," (we believe because it is impossible, or, as you said "A believer looks at the story of Easter and recognizes the miracle of overcoming impossible odds.")
My entire point was that even if we accept the possibility, we are left with the absurdity or stupidity of the way the resurrection and appearences supposedly occurred. Even within your paradigm, the story doesn't make any sense. Again, please reread what I wrote.

To Anonymous the Epigrapher: ordinarily it does little good to quote homilies at us. At another point you said something ending in 'undeniable' -- it's too late now to chase it down. But we do deny it, and give reasons why it is deniable, and rather than wasting your typing fingers, it might be good to at least argue and not just state things.

However, sometimes you do at least provide a good target, and your comment above is an example. You ignore my point that if there were all these dead people in Jerusalem, it would have been talked about and written about for years, you ignore the fact that if it had occurred, somebody else, Mark, Luke, John or Paul would have used it but they ignored it. But you go ahead and quote the words of the Centurion -- a Roman soldier, probably a polytheist, to whom the phrase "the Son of God" would have had no meaning. Please, if you are going to throw a homily at us, at least throw one less easy to dismiss.

Anonymous said...

Prup, thanks for clarifying that for me. You said, you are used to the believer's cry of "Credo quia incredible," (we believe because it is impossible) - but that is not why I believe. I believe because God is real and He still travels Damascus Roads. Thanks, again, Prup.

Miss Anon

One Wave said...

Prup,
My reference for the quote is here:
http://www.christian-thinktank.com/jrthal.html. I first read about J.A in The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel, which has been an excellent book to use as a springboard for further study.

There's a book I am dying to quote from but I am waiting for permission from the publisher to use it.

Yes, I am aware that J.A. was possibly a "church father". I don't see what bearing that has unless you are inferring that he would have alterior motives and was under pressure from the church.

Phlegon and others who left fragments:
Do you only rely on complete works to establish credibility? Lee, Julius African agreed about the timing of the eclipse, of course I would have to say that because I believe in miracles the darkness was a supernatural intervention that could possibly have been an eclipse - if God created He's got the know how, and allegedly said, "In the third book of his history, Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse of the sun--wrongly in my opinion." (5.50)

I can't verify the context of Thallus' comment about the Titans, whether it was literature or history or weaving of the two...if only I didn't have to sleep and eat I'd be getting all of these references but like you I am depeding in part of the works of others who I try to examine critically but for now have no choice but to put some faith in.

I have no problem with some Phlegon's work being an inspiration for a Vampire work. If the Literature on Vampire was trying to make a connection between the darkness after the crucifixion and bats turning into vampires then I would have a problem.

Corroboration...so far we have three authors outside of the scriptures who evaluated the darkness in light of their own understanding. In A Case For Christ, Lee Stobel also mentions Tertullian. Lee Strobel's source in mentioning Tertullian is a book by Paul Maier published in 1968 and titled "Pontius Pilate".

When I find out if I can quote from "The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is" by N.T. Wright, I will put my counter rebuttle together and put it here. I'm going to stay away from this thread until then or I'll want to devote time to whatever else comes up.

Anonymous said...

Dismiss what you would like, but interesting that the only time people arose from the dead were through Jesus. I don't think the other gospels included it because it doesn't have anything to do with Jesus' life. If you READ the bible, at the end of Johns gospel, it says that many miracles were not written down.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Sorry, Mr. Anonymous, but other religios have their own tales of resurrection, with as much corroboration as this one does. (By the way, do you include Paul's resurrection of the youth that he put to sleep by preaching too long, and who fell out of a third story window and died? It's Acts 20:7-10 if you don't know it.)

I don't see how you can reasonably argue that what must have been the greatest miracle of all, the mass raising of the dead, would simply be ignored by the other evangelists. More, how can you claim that if 'they went into the holy city and were seen by many people,' that no other writer would mention it. Josephus was born shortly before or after these events. Wouldn't he have heard talk about it and written something about it? Wouldn't it have been mentioned in the Rabbinic Literature? Wouldn't Paul have used this common memory, or the other apostles, as a key item of their preaching?

And what about the rending of the temple veil. We aren't talking about a curtain the size of the ones on your windows.

The temple was the size of a football stadium. It was decorated extremely ornately -- even though there was nothing behind this curtain as is shown by Josephus, the curtain must have been gigantic. Again, if it had needed to be replaced, there would be some mention of this somewhere other than the Gospels.)

Anonymous said...

Yes a lot of people have predicted that they would die and rise three days later and actually do it. You just keep dodging the truth. The entire purpose of the gospels is Jesus and only Jesus. Nothing else matters, it doesn't matter to me if the others were ressurected or not, just that Jesus died for my own faults and mistakes.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

One Wave:
I really value your contributions and your presence here. You do attempt to engage us, and, to reverse Father Greene's words to me -- in my post above -- we need theists like you to keep the atheists on our toes.

Having said this, I still have to argue with you. You originally described J.A. as a 'first-century historian.' Had that been true, his comments would have been valuable, since he might have witnessed the darkening, or spoken with people who had, or, as a historian, would have, ideally, used his sources well.
But he was much later, so he had no first-hand knowledge of the events. And why it matters that he was a 'theologian' (a "Father of the Church") is how he treats his sources. If you check out the original --
http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/006/0060050.htm -- you'll see both that he takes a totally credulous view of the Bible, even accepting that Noah was 600 years old at the time of the Ark, and that his only source for the story of the darkness, except for a mention supposedly in a volume of a history by Thallus, is the Gospels.
This is, in the strictest term, hearsay. It adds no independent attestation.

As for Phlegon, I will admit that this is somewhat confusing. There seem to have been several Phlegons (one is supposedly even a pen name for the Emperor Hadrian), and we do not have any of the writings available, only passing mentions in other works. (I don't know whether the 'vampire-Phlegon' is the same one as the one you reference.) Again, we don't have the material available to consider this confirmation.

If you get a better reference for the passage in Tertullian, I can check this out, but unlike the others, we have too MUCH Tertullian available to check his reference easily.

(If you are curious, the works of Tertullian can be found starting at
http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/003/
He too was not a contemporary but was born in 150, was converted about 185, and lapsed in 200. He is, if he mentions this, either using the gospels as witness, or repeating an event that occurred 150 years before he wrote, when no witnesses were still alive.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

On the other hand, Mr. Anonymous, you seem to be unable to confront what I have said.
You state that Christ "would die and rise three days later and actually [did] it." (Actually, even your gospels say it happened after a day and a half. Was he too impatient to wait this long?)
The only evidence you have for this is the gospels. I have shown that at least one gospel describes events -- the mass resurrection -- that DID NOT HAPPEN. And you say 'it doesn't matter'???

I've also argued that if Jesus WAS resurrected and wished the world to know that it had happened, there were several ways he could have made sure of this -- appearing in the Temple Courtyard, or in front of the Sanhedrin, or to Pilate and convincing him to travel to Rome and testify to the resurrection -- and what better impartial eyewitness could have been found than the one who condemned him.
I argue that the fact he didn't do this demonstrates that the event never happened -- or that Jesus was simply incredibly dumb or didn't care if anyone believed in his resurrection.

Your response? Nothing but the continual parroting of homilies. Why should we, or even you, listen to you?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave,
Corroboration...so far we have three authors outside of the scriptures who evaluated the darkness in light of their own understanding.
As far as eclipses go, none were even close. It had to be Folklore or divine intervention.
Here's the info so you can look for yourself.
Jerusalem is 31.46N 35.13E according to google earth.
Nasa's catalog of solar eclipses
http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/SEcat5/SE0001-0100.html

This does not refute the likelihood that the gospel of mark is folklore. All this is pure speculation unless you can effectively refute my conclusion or propositions.
Should you throw more quotes at me, I must say, that I am not inclined or feel obligated to go on any more paper chases refuting your quotations. I made my case. I'll defend my propositions and conclusion.

Hi Prup,
You go boy!

TJ said...

Personally I think this is all red herring stuff. It's pretty clear to me that you can't take the Gospels as literal truth, and I question whether they were actually intended to be taken as literal history. Thus those who interpret the whole thing literally and believe it, and those who assume it was intended to be taken literally and refuse to accept it, are both making a category mistake.

My view is that whether literally true or not, Christianity has behind it millenia of human wisdom and insight into the human condition. If the Bible is understood in the correct light and taken to contain truths, rather than "the truth", there is much that is rewarding, personally helpful and even transformative. For this reason I am a Christian. Although I am sure there are many Christians and non-Christians who would argue with that.

Shygetz said...

But TJ, you can pick up a philosophy text and find human wisdom and insights into the human condition that are not 2000+ years out of date. So, should you make a religion out of them?

TJ said...

"Should" you make a religion out of them? Not necessarily, but you can if you want to. Yes, you can find human wisdom and insights into the human condition in all sorts of places. Once of those places is in the Bible. Another is in Church. Other such places probably include Mosques, synagogues, the tops of mountains.

I was an atheist until not long ago, by the way. I'd say I'm almost one now - but not quite.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

TJ: If all believers thought like you do, there would be little need for a site like this. (I'm not a Myers-Dawkins type who finds nothing but evil in religion.) As I said in my introduction, this was the atmosphere when I grew up, and it looked like the literalist/fundamentalists were a dying breed. Sadly, they aren't, or they are fighting hard as they pass away. Look around you, at the Middle East (google Hagee) at the "Left Behind" foolishness, at the White House and at the many examples of religiously inspired bigotry that go on.

For that matter, take a look at the Christian Reconstructionist movement (Google Rushdoony and Gary North) that wants to change our legal system into one based on a (literal) reading of the Old Testament. Realize that their plan starts with the idea of home-schooling, and realize how many Christian Homeschoolers are out there (and look at Patrick Henry University and how many graduates of that are in government -- and look at Monica Goodling to see a graduate of Falwell's Liberty University in the highest area of the Justice Department).

And, as Shygetz implies, there are many other good ideas that are found outside of 'religion' that come without the trappings that religions do.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

And, while this may be whacking him outside the doors of the glue factory, I can't resist one last shot at Mr. Anonymous, since I was glancing at Enslin's CHRISTIAN BEGINNINGS last night, and this quote was so relevant to his comment about Jesus predicting his resurrection:
"The stubborn fact of the dismay of his disciples, their flight back to Galilee, their feeling that the last word had been spoken and that that last word was failure make very difficult the view that he had foreseen and openly predicted an event which was to vindicate in so startling a manner his mission, and which could scarcely fail to arouse joyful anticipation, not abject terror. ... [S]uch a view can scarcely fail to reduce the intelligence of his closest followers to the vanishing-point..."
(p. 167)

TJ said...

Hi Jim,
Well I'm in England, and we don't really have that kind of thing going on, but I can quite appreciate your point of view, and mine is that a site like this almost does as much service to Christianity as to atheism. So keep up the good work.

Shygetz said...

Yes, you can find human wisdom and insights into the human condition in all sorts of places. Once of those places is in the Bible. Another is in Church. Other such places probably include Mosques, synagogues, the tops of mountains.

Similarly, TJ, if that is your viewpoint that you and I have no serious disagreement. Kudos to you on making an informed decision on what works for you, and realizing that it others' mileage may vary. I can't speak for others, but I welcome those like you in this venue.

Anonymous said...

This is an example of what you are saying Prup. Say that a friend that you decieved and lied to pushed you out of the way of a bus, and into a bicycle, and he himself was killed. Afterwards you say, if he really cared for me why didn't he push me away from the bike?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Prup, the disciples didn't understand Jesus' purpose until after he reappeared to them and again when they recieved the holy spirit.

Shygetz said...

Afterwards you say, if he really cared for me why didn't he push me away from the bike?

Or you could say if he was so all-powerful, why didn't he get us both out of the way of the bus, or have the bus go somewhere else, or make me impervious to buses, etc., etc.

Or you could say if he was so all-knowing, why didn't he just tell me that a bus was coming, so don't walk in the street, or tell the bus driver to slow down so he wouldn't hit me, etc., etc.

Even a crappy analogy works against you.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you missed the point. Jesus died for us so that we DONT face God's judgment, which we deserve.

Tommy said...

No, you don't get the point, which is that Jesus did not die for ANYBODY and there is no God watching over us looking to judge us.

You people have so warped your minds into thinking we are "steeped in sin" and that the wrath of some supreme being hangs over us like some sword of Damocles.

Just lead a life adhering to simple virtues. Do not harm others. Don't spend more than you earn. Don't be a slave to conspicuous consumption. Be a good parent to your children and a good son or daugher to your parents. Stand for justice, fairness and equality. What more is needed than that?

Shygetz said...

Looks like you missed the point...

No, you missed the point. If God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent, then why did he set humans up in a crooked game where he knew the evil outcome? Why did he put the apple and the serpent in the garden with people who didn't know right and wrong? Why did he then decide to punish people who weren't even born at the time of this error? Why did he then decide that, to make things more fair, he would stop appearing to people at all and make them essentially choose the correct religion by lottery? Why did he make it to where he would have to kill Jesus? Why didn't he do it sooner, so more people could be saved? Why didn't he do it later, so the miracle would be recorded and accessible to the masses? Why doesn't he come back and set the record straight?

Either God is stupid, impotent, evil, or non-existent.

Tommy said...

And would a powerful and intelligent being capable of creating the entire infinite universe and everything in it really require humans to kill animals to please him?

The Bible betrays the very small mindedness and parochialism of the people who wrote it.

One Wave said...

Thank you Lee and Prup for welcoming me to a serious discussion of the resurrection.

I have been examining my motives in this and want to be clear that I do not intend to debate. I've been there, done that, and seen that it doesn't go anywhere because at some point there is an impass. My intention is to dig and learn and discuss for the sake of exploring viewpoints.

Instead of setting forth a formal counter rebuttal all at once, I am going to have to do my best with one point at a time.

Thank you Lee for not giving up on me, I was not trying to make you chase down rabbit trails and I'm sorry if you feel that it's been a waste of your time. Personally I like to examine both sides of an issue so I was throwing out things for you to examine on your own w/o my opinions about them.

All that said I'll get to business and keep to the form.

Point 1

Premise1: The Gospels are a testimony that the resurrection happened
Warrant1: We would expect testimony for something this important
Rebuttal: The Gospels were not eyewitness testimony. The Gospels have characteristics of Folklore. They could just as well be folklore.

Laying this wide open from what I have learned, the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, are traditionally accepted as the authors of the books that bear their names but the books themselves do not name an author. According to a man named Papias who is dated to about 125 A.D., Mark recorded Peter's eyewitness testimony. Papias also credits Matthew with writing down teachings of Jesus. Irenaeus also wrote, in about 180 A.D. that Matthew wrote his gospel to the Hebrews, in thier language, while in Rome when Peter and Paul were preaching there. He also wrote that Mark was a disciple of, and interpreter for Peter and that Mark wrote down Peter's teaching. He also wrote that Luke recorded Paul's preaching and mentions John writing his gospel as well. (Ireneaus,Adversus haereses)
The fact that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew is disputed with many saying that his Greek Gospel would have been a translation of the Aramaic or that there was no mention of a Hebrew text. Wikepedia has some information on this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Matthew

It is generally thought that Matthew and Luke did copy portions of Mark. In Lee Strobel's book, A Case For Christ, he presents the opinion of Craig L. Blomberg, PH.D.. Mr. Blomberg's opinion is that it is possible, because Peter was one of the three closest disciples of Jesus, that Matthew may have wanted to make sure his facts lined up with Mark's and then change or add anything that was more accurate coming from Peter who would have been Mark's source. Luke may have done the same thing. This is certainly plausible in light of the culture and the times. These men were friends, there would not have been any pride of ownership over the gospel story and they would have wanted to be as accurate as possible whiles still giving their own perspective. Especially considering that none of them were especially educated except for Luke, possibly.

If you read the opening of Luke, he says he is recording what was handed down by witnesses and that he investigated everything. Which would be a good reason to test his account against Matthew's.

I think that any similarities between the resurrection and the account of Daniel are just similarities. Holes in the ground with a stone over them were most likely common, and all throughout scripture many people in government positions persecuted God's people.

I don't know about Tim Callahan's assessment of Daniel, I would have to research the history of Daniel.

Oral tradition: I'm sure you already know this and I don't mean to be redundant, but there are to this day, Jews who have memorized large portions of the O.T.. Some Rabbis, in those times, would memorize the whole thing, word for word. There are other people groups who do the same thing, it's worth a little looking into.

In conclusion:

Premise1: The Gospels are a testimony that the resurrection happened
Warrant1: We would expect testimony for something this important
Rebuttal: The Gospels were not eyewitness testimony. The Gospels have characteristics of Folklore. They could just as well be folklore.

Counter: The Gospels were based on eyewitness accounts by Peter and Matthew. Luke and Matthew could possibly have copied portions of Mark in order to ensure accuracy. It is plausible that oral tradition can be reliable if it is possible for people to memorize stories and events accurately and pass them down.

Tommy said...

Counter-rebuttal:

Unfortunately, I am doing this on my lunchbreak at work from memory, so I apologize in advance for any errors.

1. Memorizing texts is one thing. Memorizing a lengthy sermon that was, to our knowledge, given only once, is another thing all together. This is the Sermon on the Mount I am talking about. There are other extended dialogues in the Gospels that are too lengthy and detailed to recall from memory years later.

2. How did Matthew get the story from the point of view from the three magi from the east? We're talking at least 40 years after their alleged journey to pay homage to the baby Jesus. For instance, it says in Matthew that an angel appeared to them and told them not to go back to Herod but to take another route home. How could the author of Matthew possibly have obtained this information. And if he by some miracle tracked down one of the actual magi, it follows that he should have been able to provide us with more information about them such as who they were and precisely where they came from.

3. There's the mentionin in Luke of fetus John the Baptist "leaping for joy" in his mother's womb as she comes near the pregnant Mary carrying fetus Jesus. On what basis does Luke distinguish between a fetus literally leaping for joy inside a womb (assuming such a thing is even physically possible) and a fetus child kicking in the mother's womb, which happens to pregnant women in the later stages of pregnancy all of the time?

4. Since it is believed that Mary lived for some years after the death of Jesus, why don't we have more about Jesus before he began preaching? I mean, if we are to believe that Matthew was able to find out what the guards outside of Jesus tomb spoke to one another in a hushed, private conversation, it should have been a relatively easy thing to interview the neighbors of the parents of Jesus in the Galilee to find out more about him before he took up preaching.

5. It is very telling that Christianity met with greater success outside of Galilee and Judea than within it. Since these are the regions where Jesus allegedly preached, healed, drove out demons, walked on water, and rose from the dead, and where dead saints supposedly walked around Jerusalem amid a great darkness and tremor, then Jesus and his followers should have had greater success in their native land. Instead, the religion catches on with greater success in places where there were no alleged eyewitnesses to Jesus. Of were the early Christians in Judea suffer the fate of pop metal bands like Quiet Riot, which still managed to sell out stadiums in Japan while being relegated to playing in bars in America?

My break is up now, so I have to cut this short, but I wanted to throw some questions out there for you all to chew on.

One Wave said...

Tommy,
1) Do you think it could be possible that Jesus also spoke these same things to his disciples in private and/or that He did it more than once? The crowds that Jesus preached to were described as being large, sometimes thousands of people. If that's the case it would make sense that there could have been scribes sent by the pharisees to record what He said or that there were others who wrote it down. Remember that when Rome was sacked, a lot of books and records were burned.

2) Is it possible that because Matthew was a disciple, he would have heard Jesus relay his own story? Is it possible that the magi were still in town when they had the dream and they alerted Joseph and Mary possible danger? And that God confirmed this to Joseph in a dream also? According the account of Mary's revelation to Joseph that she was pregnant, Joseph did not seem ready to believe strange things readily.

3) In the Bible I have in front of me, which is the New American Standard, it is stated this way:
Luke 1:41 "And it came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spririt." I hope this doesn't sound self gratifying because I can experience this and you can't, but I have been pregnant 5 times and there is a difference between being kicked and a baby responding to stimulus. One time, when I was about 7 months pregnant, my husband and I went to a bar/restaurant that was playing very loud music and I had to leave because our baby was reacting so strongly...more than kicking. So I wonder if John leaping was that kind of response, a powerful moving of his whole body??

4) I don't know about this myself, but do we have reliable records of any well known person's childhood from that time period? Alexander the Great seems to have a little of his childhood woven in his story but it doesn't stand out as having a lot of detailed descriptions. They didn't keep baby books but Mary did "treasure these things in her heart" and relay the most unique events she could remember. As a mother or father I think it would be safe to say we don't remember a lot of details from our children's youngest years unless we write it down. The things we do remember would be big moments. Another thought is that because Jesus was considered illegitimate by the Jewish community, there was probably some shunning and the family would maybe not have been as socially involved as others.??
And why interview when there was his childhood was not in question? People were focused on larger issues.


5) I would point out here that it was the eyewitnesses who went and told the outlying regions about what had happened. Jesus said that a prophet is not welcome in his home town. What do you think it means that there was greater acceptance in outlying areas, if that is the case? Do you think it's possible that there was a greater threat of being persecuted close to home?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to faith, hate us all you want but we're going nowhere until Christ returns. No matter what I say, you will never believe because an Athiest provides physical evidence, as if saying.
"If there is some great God out there, come to ME so that I can believe."

Tommy said...

Who here "hates" you Anonymous? I don't. And I perfectly accept that you're going nowhere, especially because Christ will never return. Yep, we're stuck with you. But you know what? You're stuck with us too!

Anonymous said...

This is not my home, and I am no longer living.

"For it is I who no longer live, but Jesus Christ in me!"

Tommy said...

Okay, right. Time to take your meds now.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave,

My Presumptions:
* Jesus didn't use teenagers as disciples
* he was crucified around 30ce
* Scholarship is more accurate and useful than tradition
* that we both agree that Wikipedia is useful for information in this discussion.

Premise1: The Gospels are a testimony that the resurrection happened
Warrant1: We would expect testimony for something this important
Rebuttal: The Gospels were not eyewitness testimony. The Gospels have characteristics of Folklore. They could just as well be folklore.

Laying this wide open from what I have learned, the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, are traditionally accepted as the authors of the books that bear their names but the books themselves do not name an author.

Scholarship does not accept them as being the original authors. What does it mean to traditionally accept something?
Here is the definition of Tradition from The American Heritage Dictionary:

tra·di·tion (trə-dĭsh'ən) pronunciation
n.

1. The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication.
2.
1. A mode of thought or behavior followed by a people continuously from generation to generation; a custom or usage.
2. A set of such customs and usages viewed as a coherent body of precedents influencing the present: followed family tradition in dress and manners. See synonyms at heritage.
3. A body of unwritten religious precepts.
4. A time-honored practice or set of such practices.
5. Law. Transfer of property to another.

I don't see anywhere in the any mention of anything that would make me feel better about the accuracy or verifiability of a fact, or even a compelling reason to continue it.
Traditions like traditional medicine have been abandoned for the most part for scientifically developed medicine and practice.
In fact I don't think you would go for a traditional approach to treating your headaches or cancer would you?

Academics and scholars look for evidence and corroboration, they spend a lot of time and effort and get paid for research. There is a presumption that what they are doing is useful and worthy of a paycheck. They have peers that review, who are also experts and when there is a consensus, that is as good as it gets until new information come along to challenge the consensus.

I disagree because peer reviewed research is more likely to be accurate than oral tradition or any kind of tradition


According to a man named Papias who is dated to about 125 A.D., Mark recorded Peter's eyewitness testimony.


* According to scholarship, Peter would have had to have been roughly 50-60 assuming Jesus didn't use teenagers as disciples and that he was crucified around 30ce.
* Mark is not mentioned anywhere that I can find as being an apostle. Prior to the wide use of sewage systems the average life expectancy was 20 - 35 years
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy
* Why didn't Jesus tell us how to make sewers? But I'll save that for my article on why it is likely that jesus wasn't god.

I disagree because Mark was not an apostle and Peter is unlikely to have been alive in 65ce


Papias also credits Matthew with writing down teachings of Jesus.


If that is the case, then Mathew should have been eighty something when he wrote his gospel. Not likely. And his contains more of Mark than the others.


Irenaeus also wrote, in about 180 A.D. that Matthew wrote his gospel to the Hebrews, in thier language, while in Rome when Peter and Paul were preaching there.


If this was the case then Peter and Paul would have had to have been 60 - 80 years old. Pretty spry old men, wouldn't you say?
Not likely. And do you think that Peter corrected Paul on how many of the apostles he appeared to after the resurrection?


He also wrote that Mark was a disciple of, and interpreter for Peter and that Mark wrote down Peter's teaching.

I won't commit to that but I don't have anyway to dispute it and I don't see it as relevant in challenging my rebuttal.

He also wrote that Luke recorded Paul's preaching and mentions John writing his gospel as well. (Ireneaus,Adversus haereses)

Luke was not an apostle, Paul would have had to have been older than about 70 if we assume the John wrote his in the lower portion of his timeframe.
Not Likely.


The fact that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew is disputed with many saying that his Greek Gospel would have been a translation of the Aramaic or that there was no mention of a Hebrew text. Wikepedia has some information on this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Matthew

I won't commit to that but I don't have anyway to dispute it and I don't see it as relevant in challenging my rebuttal.

It is generally thought that Matthew and Luke did copy portions of Mark. In Lee Strobel's book, A Case For Christ, he presents the opinion of Craig L. Blomberg, PH.D.. Mr. Blomberg's opinion is that it is possible, because Peter was one of the three closest disciples of Jesus, that Matthew may have wanted to make sure his facts lined up with Mark's and then change or add anything that was more accurate coming from Peter who would have been Mark's source. Luke may have done the same thing. This is certainly plausible in light of the culture and the times. These men were friends, there would not have been any pride of ownership over the gospel story and they would have wanted to be as accurate as possible whiles still giving their own perspective. Especially considering that none of them were especially educated except for Luke, possibly.
If you want me to accept that possibilities are fair game, then you must accept the possibility that they are wrong, which nullifies your proposition. Therefore your proposition is irrelevant, because it refutes itself.
I don't accept possibilities, I accept probability, any you should to.
Their scenario ignores the fact of the wide disparity in their ages.
I really don't want to graph them all out, but I encourage you to so to support your claim.
If they were friends, then they should have all had the same story wouldn't you think?
On this point I appeal to the precedent of the 'group report' or the 'research paper' that are published in peer reviewed journals.


If you read the opening of Luke, he says he is recording what was handed down by witnesses and that he investigated everything. Which would be a good reason to test his account against Matthew's.

I think that any similarities between the resurrection and the account of Daniel are just similarities. Holes in the ground with a stone over them were most likely common, and all throughout scripture many people in government positions persecuted God's people.


I don't think your assessment is in line with a consensus of Experts.
I'll go with the experts.

I don't know about Tim Callahan's assessment of Daniel, I would have to research the history of Daniel.

Oral tradition: I'm sure you already know this and I don't mean to be redundant, but there are to this day, Jews who have memorized large portions of the O.T.. Some Rabbis, in those times, would memorize the whole thing, word for word. There are other people groups who do the same thing, it's worth a little looking into.


I don't dispute that at all. I know that I have memorized things sometimes accurately, sometimes not. I also know that research into memory shows that it is not reliable. Remember the 'supressed memory' phenomena a decade or so ago, when all of a sudden there was a rash of sexual abuse? Have you looked into research about how easy it is to plant memories that the subject will stubbornly defend at the end of the experiment? Do you recognize that one persons memory is not as useful in testimony as two exactly because it is fallible?
the following is the description of folklore from wikipedia, notice the term 'oral tradition'.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folklore

folklore
For the Nelly Furtado album, see Folklore (album).

Folklore is the body of expressive culture, including tales, music, dance, legends, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, customs, material culture, and so forth, common to a particular population, comprising the traditions (including oral traditions) of that culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The academic and usually ethnographic study of folklore is sometimes called folkloristics.


In conclusion:

Premise1: The Gospels are a testimony that the resurrection happened
Warrant1: We would expect testimony for something this important
Rebuttal: The Gospels were not eyewitness testimony. The Gospels have characteristics of Folklore. They could just as well be folklore.

Counter: The Gospels were based on eyewitness accounts by Peter and Matthew. Luke and Matthew could possibly have copied portions of Mark in order to ensure accuracy. It is plausible that oral tradition can be reliable if it is possible for people to memorize stories and events accurately and pass them down.


I refute this by asserting
* their ages make it unlikely, that it was first hand testimony.
* If they were working together they would likely be more similar, and I use the precedent of the 'group report' or the 'research paper' that are published in peer reviewed journals. And it is based on a possibility so it refutes itself.
* your argument for oral tradition depends on memory which has been shown to be unreliable and easy to manipulate.
* your argument depends on oral tradition, which is a characteristic of folklore

I claim that the facts make the explanation of folklore more plausible

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave,
I realized that there is some wiggle room in the definition of 'folklore' so I will tighten up my claim.

I claim that the facts make the explanation that it is a type of fiction based in a historical setting more plausible.

One Wave said...

Hi Lee,
I can't do justice to your post until next week.

Thanks for clarifying your definition of folklore, that helps to know where you are coming from.

Hope you enjoy your weekend!

Lee Randolph said...

You too!
I hope you all have a happy easter. Catch an easter sunrise service for me. I used to like those.

Anonymous said...

As I wrote on anothe post before it was deleted:

1 Corinthians 1:18

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Lee Randolph said...

.....and for what reason should I believe that?

One Wave said...

Lee, I won't be able to continue this for now. We've had a crisis this weekend and I won't have free access to a computer for I'm not sure how long.

Lee Randolph said...

Hey One Wave,
No Problem, we can agree to disagree.
And there will be plenty of time for you to refute me! All my arguments boil down to two or three things so if you stick around and get to know me you can seize the opportunity!
Good luck with whatever it is you are dealing with!

One Wave said...

Hi again Lee,
I just spent half an hour responding with my points and somehow lost it. I'm using someone else's computer so I think I pushed the wrong button on the mouse, never used one like this before.

Anyway,
My main two points were dating and life span.

There are many examples of long life in ancient Rome. I'm listing only names and ages this time to save on time but you can look them up if you like.

Lucius Livius Andronicus: around 60-80 years

Cicero: around 63 years

Josephus: around 63 years

Livy: around 7 years

Polybius: around 80 years

etc.... the stats you gave are based on a mean, not a median, life span. I can get you a reference to this later or you can google "ancient roman life span" and find a site that opens to a chart which explains how those numbers originated. Basically, the high infant mortality rate is figured in which brings the life expectancy down considerably.

Ah, here it is: (thank goodness for cookies)

http://www.utexas.edu/depts/classics/documents/Life.html

Dating:
The accuracy of C14 dating is not accuracy in terms of a day and a year. Accuracy in terms of C14 dating is give or take up to about 40 years. I'll have to search for this again and give you the site or you can see if you can look into it yourself. For Christians or otherwise to claim that the scriptures were written during an exact Gregorian calendar year is misleading.

http://www.c14dating.com/agecalc.html

go to the bottom of the page and read about the accuracy of c14 dating if you are interested.

I'm sorry I have to cut this short but I will be reading what you say. It's very interesting.

And, thank you for your kind wishes toward us.

One Wave said...

Oops, I was wrong about the +or- 40 years, C14 can vary more than that...take a look at this discussion:

http://www.physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-132852.html

Lee Randolph said...

Nice rebuttal!
Please, give me a chance to look this over and check back.
thanks, I hope everything is going ok for you.

One Wave said...

oops again, Livy was 76 years :)

Lee Randolph said...

Hi One Wave,
First off I want to apologize if any case you find the tone of my comments curt. I try not to, but the rushed method I use to write them kind of makes them choppy and obviously cut and pasted.

anyway...
I'm willing to give you up to 65 yrs for peter because wikipedia says so. ;-), I'm going to get my subscription to brittanica back so I have a way to corroborate.

but if Mark wrote his Gospel from memory of what peter said, marks gospel is the least flattering and missing some stuff that appear in the other gospels. After doing a little more research, I can't find any relationships that would make the other possibilities you mentioned in your earlier comments more plausible.

and the Carbon dating, as I understand it, would not be very useful for this kind of work. From what i understand Textual criticism is more useful, and wikipedia notes some ways that Mark and Matthew were dated. i wouldn't have thought they used carbon dating anyway. I always hear about carbon dating in relation archeology, anthropology, earth sciences etc.

Micky said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
Micky

Rocky said...

"I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.”"

This sounds believable. But it doesn't prove a thing. The internet is also loaded with testimonials by people who sincerely feel they were saved by faith in Buddha, Muhammed and the sweat bath ritual.