How Reliable is the New Testament?

In previous discussions with a blogger who goes by the handle of “Scientific Christian,” a question related to the reliability of the New Testament came up. Since it’s a topic that cannot be answered in a few words (by believers or by non-believers), I have added this post and opened it up to any and all who wish to offer their claims/proof on either side of the issue.

Please try to keep the discussion “civil” and refrain from insults just because you don’t agree or because the other person may be using what you consider “questionable” sources to validate their belief. Simply refute the claims and provide your own proof.

I will most likely be absent as we are moving within a couple of weeks and there’s still much to be packed. I will, however, check in on occasion — especially if someone says something that demands a response. 😀

HAVE FUN!

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188 thoughts on “How Reliable is the New Testament?

  1. Reliable as what? It is perfect reliable in what it is. The real question is what is it? It is a collection of books. No one knows who wrote any of them. The original manuscripts are not available. The earliest copies we have are copies of copies and date to around the fourth century. It is what it is. The books are full of contradictions and errors, so the word “inerrant” cannot be used except by people who have an axe to grind. Characters in these books allude to the attitude of doing or saying anything if it furthers their cause, so some of those who are written about are fanatics. Ostensibly the NT is about the mission of Jesus and about his legacy. Jesus is quoted as having his church founded by Peter and leaves his brother James the Just in charge of the movement after his death, so Christianity ends up being shaped by Saul/Paul who never met Jesus and finds it important enough to have his words defending himself from charges of being a liar immortalized.

    It is what it is. Unfortunately many people do not accept that it is what it is and declare it to be something it is not.

    Reliable? As what?

    Liked by 5 people

    • I also have some questions about this idea of “reliable”. I’m willing to accept that each book was originally a reliable record of some ancient person’s ideas about what was true, at some point in history. As to whether those thoughts date to early christianity, or whether any of those ideas are actually correct, that’s a much bigger claim to tackle.

      And when we say NT, are we meaning a modern translation, the KJV translation, the Vulgate version, the Textus Receptus, some particular ancient manuscript, or the theoretical (an missing) “original manuscripts”. I’d want that pinned down before I would go any farther in the conversation.

      Liked by 4 people

    • “Reliable? As what?”

      That is, historically reliable. For comparison, one may argue that the Gospels are as reliable as other ancient and reliable sources we have, (like the works of the ancient historians Sallust, Tacitus, Cassius Dio, etc).

      In other words, do we have enough evidence for the historical reliability of the Gospels to read them as we would the writings of any other ancient historian?

      By the way, it’s totally false to say that we don’t know the author of any of the Gospel books. The majority of scholars are at least in agreement on a guy named Mark, who in turn was the interpreter of Peter, writing the Gospel of Mark, and a guy named Luke, who sometimes traveled with Paul, wrote the Gospel of Luke. The other two Gospels are a lot more uncertain among scholars. Again, this is the position of the majority of scholars, notwithstanding popular New Testament historians like Bart Ehrman. We don’t have the originals of the Gospels of course, nor do we have the originals of any other ancient figure, so this becomes a non-point.

      Anyways, if you’d like to take up this challenge against me, simply send a response.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If it is historically reliable, there will be historical events recorded in it that are confirmed by other documents.

        If 30% of the bibles events are confirmed elsewhere, is it reliable historically? What about 80%? What is the threshold that determines historical reliability?

        Liked by 1 person

        • “If 30% of the bibles events are confirmed elsewhere, is it reliable historically? What about 80%? What is the threshold that determines historical reliability?”

          It’s obvious that your definition of ‘historically reliable’ appears malformed here — very often, we only have single records describing entire eras, hence, corroboration is obviously not a necessary component of historical reliability.

          Anyways, it appears your interested in maintaining the position that the Gospels are not historically reliable. If so, you can accept my debate challenge and see how it holds up.

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        • If you were interested in a discussion you’d have answered the question instead of second guessing my motivations looking for a reason to not answer the question.

          Liked by 3 people

        • I don’t really think your question was actually valid in the first place, just take a look;

          “If 30% of the bibles events are confirmed elsewhere, is it reliable historically? What about 80%? What is the threshold that determines historical reliability?”

          First of all, where do these percentages come from? Where were they validated? How were they validated? I’ve never heard of these numbers, despite the fact that I’ve been reading the academic literature on this stuff for a while now.

          Anyhow, assuming the percentages are correct, the methodology behind your question is totally invalid. You basically say that if 30% of the events are corroborated, then 70% aren’t corroborated by historical records, and we must therefore ask how can the Bible be reliable?

          This is methodologically invalid, because the reliability of ancient documents isn’t determined by how much they are corroborated by other extant records. Sometimes, we only have single sources for an entire era in ancient times — these may be written by a good historian, but because they are our only record they by definition have no corroboration. Yet, historians take them with very high importance. That is because reliability isn’t determined by corroboration, even though corroboration can strengthen reliability.

          So the question really doesn’t work.

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        • The numbers are arbitrary. I’m asking a question so as to establish a starting point.

          I notice you can’t even do that without pre judging me. Doesn’t your bible have something to say about that?

          Liked by 3 people

        • “The numbers are arbitrary. I’m asking a question so as to establish a starting point.”

          You go on to say I “pre judged you”, which I don’t remember doing. Sorry if it came off that way. Anyhow, if the numbers are arbitrary, what are they supposed to signify? As I explained, corroboration is not a methodologically valid way of determining reliability, there are better ways to do that, although corroboration is certainly a good way to contribute to reliability as well.

          Much of the Bible is indeed corroborated. One example;
          http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/50-people-in-the-bible-confirmed-archaeologically/

          So, I don’t really know what you’re looking for.

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        • “So, I don’t really know what you’re looking for.”

          I’m looking for a value to baseline what is considered reliable. If I make 100 predictions and the 30 easy and obvious ones come true but none of the harder ones do, am I reliable at making predictions?

          “Much of the Bible is indeed corroborated.”

          Replace the word ‘much’ with a percentage that accurately states how much of what is stated in the bible is corroborated. The bible naming places that exist isn’t a great indicator of reliability, even fiction names places that exist. Names places that we have a hunch might have existed but can’t be sure isn’t a hit. Describing miraculous events that can’t be confirmed to have happened is a corroboration failure.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “I’m looking for a value to baseline what is considered reliable. If I make 100 predictions and the 30 easy and obvious ones come true but none of the harder ones do, am I reliable at making predictions?”

          When documenting reliability, we have to look at what they did know and get right when we wouldn’t have expected them to do if they weren’t otherwise reliable. The Gospels beat the scholarly claims many times — Pontius Pilates existence was once doubted, and then he became confirmed. Things like that — now, the validity of the Gospels, after the skeptics were trying from the 18th century to challenge but continuously failed to do, does seem to be accepted.

          The Gospels seem to get almost everything right when we can test them. That seems to be a pretty good indicator of historical reliability to me.

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        • “The Gospels seem to get almost everything right when we can test them. ”

          So the things that can be tested are typically correct. Places, peoples names etc.

          Except for the tower of babel, the flood, the existence of Bethlehem, the census, the killing of all the boys by herod to name just a few.

          If some testable locations or people are confirmed to be real, does that mean we should automatically believe that Jesus walked on water and fed thousands with a handful of bread and fish?

          Liked by 2 people

        • “So the things that can be tested are typically correct. Places, peoples names etc.”

          More then that, of course — just see this lecture to get the full thing I’m talking about:

          Great lecture, i gotta say.

          “Except for the tower of babel, the flood, the existence of Bethlehem, the census, the killing of all the boys by herod to name just a few.”

          Epic failure. The existence of Bethlehem? Give it up, that ones not even up for debate. As for the Tower of Babel, the Smithsonian Institute came out with this a few months ago:
          http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/videos/some-very-compelling-evidence-the-tower-of-babel-was-real/55877?auto=true

          There’s nothing to at all problematic when it comes to Herod’s killing of the boys (it fits in very well with what we know). The census is the only real issue out of the things you named.

          But anyhow, you doubted the existence of Bethlehem so it’s hard for me to give you a response instead of just laughing and going to the next guy.

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        • Not a single sentence in that link questions the existence of Bethlehem. There’s just some people disputing whether or not Jesus was really born there, which is totally irrelevant — we have seals of Bethlehem dating to 600-700 BC. It existed.

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        • “Jesus not being born where the bible days he was born is very relevant. It shows exactly how mixed up editing had created the book you now own.”

          The link does not prove that Jesus was born in Nazareth or Bethlehem of Galilee rather than the Bethlehem of Judea, it simply notes that this is what some scholars believe. That’s… All. No one has proven such a claim, I find more confidence in the Gospel accounts than these ‘reconstructions’ as do many other historians.

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        • Of course that’s what you’d say. You’re Christian so you have to take the bible amounts seriously. Do they deserve that though?

          As you state, documents don’t prove anything. That is also true for the bible accounts. To believe one over the when there isn’t enough evidence to decide is what religion does.

          The census is highly suspect to the point that it’s doubtful it occurred. The requirement to travel to a ancestral city equally so. The birth narrative is far more consistent with being retrospectively written to support old testament prophecy than reality.

          When examined scientifically, there lots to doubt about the birth of jesus and nothing to be certain of.

          Liked by 2 people

        • “Of course that’s what you’d say. You’re Christian so you have to take the bible amounts seriously. Do they deserve that though?”

          Given our evidence, I would say it is demanded that the Bible be taken seriously. Just to give you a bare dip into the evidence, just watch this:

          “The census is highly suspect to the point that it’s doubtful it occurred.”

          I can see why you (and many others) think that. I don’t think I can plausibly explain the census myself, in contrast to most other aspects of the Bible.

          But you can’t just look at one argument, you need to see the entire case before delivering the verdict. It might not be understandable how the census exactly works here historically speaking — but look at the other historical aspects of the Bible and see how they stack up as well. Look at the entire thing. And then I think one can objectively come to the conclusion that the Bible is good enough to trust as a Christian would want it to be.

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        • But you can’t just look at one argument, you need to see the entire case before delivering the verdict.

          Touché!

          That’s what most of the people on this blog are waiting for you to do …

          Liked by 1 person

        • Ref the Tower of Babel.

          between my mobile device and my work access, it’s highly unlikely I’ll be able to watch your video. However, I did find the following commentary on it.

          http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/smithsonian-channel-claims-babylonian-tablet-preserves-exactly-what-the-tower-of-babel-looked-like

          It would appear that your desire to see your Christianity confirmed you’ve forgotten to do scientific due diligence.

          What the Smithsonian actually claims to have found is the inspiration for the legend and not the actual thing itself. There is a critical and very significant difference.

          Liked by 1 person

        • As for the Tower of Babel, you say:

          “What the Smithsonian actually claims to have found is the inspiration for the legend and not the actual thing itself. There is a critical and very significant difference.”

          There is no claim whether or not it is in fact an inspiration or the actual thing. Certainly, we’re both looking at the same evidence here — it appears as if by default, whether or not you take it to be the actual Tower depends on your predispositions. But the evidence is more then available for making the full connection, which the Smithsonian totally supports allowing.

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        • SC, are you really this dense? Limey wrote, “If 30% of the bibles events are confirmed elsewhere, is it reliable historically? What about 80%? What is the threshold that determines historical reliability?”

          Did you notice the first word of his first sentence? Let me point it out — IF. You do know what a conditional clause is, right? He didn’t make any claims. He was merely asking a question. Perhaps you need to be in less of a hurry to respond and take the time to actually read — and comprehend — what others are saying to you.

          Liked by 5 people

      • I always thought Matthew was the tax collector? This is what we were told in Sunday school.
        We never discussed who ”John” was. Probably someone’s mad uncle who lived on the basement of Mary’s house.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Matthew is a tax collector. What’s up?

          “We never discussed who ”John” was. Probably someone’s mad uncle who lived on the basement of Mary’s house.”

          That’s a curious new approach.

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      • You still have not specified whether “historically reliable” refers to the documents as they were originally written, or some particular ancient manuscript, or to one of the translations we have now. It’s really easy to make a claim about “the gospels” but what you mean by that is not straightforward at all.

        Liked by 4 people

        • “You still have not specified whether “historically reliable” refers to the documents as they were originally written, or some particular ancient manuscript, or to one of the translations we have now. ”

          This is an amazingly curious question — historical reliability of a document refers to our current best understanding of what the document originally said. As in, our best reconstruction of the document based on our manuscripts.

          “It’s really easy to make a claim about “the gospels” but what you mean by that is not straightforward at all.”

          What I said is pretty straight forwards, don’t worry. I’m not trying to pull a fast one on you. Are you good now?

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        • No, not really. Because now all our assessments of “reliability” now have to be reduced by the amount of uncertainty we have about what the documents originally said. You may not be trying to pull a fast one on me, but the people who told you this was simple and straightforward may have been pulling a fast one on you. My understanding is that scholars despair of getting to a high confidence level about what the original documents said, and that right now they are settling for trying to get to some agreement about what they books said when they were selected for the bible several hundred years later.

          Liked by 3 people

        • ” Because now all our assessments of “reliability” now have to be reduced by the amount of uncertainty we have about what the documents originally said.”

          This uncertainty is so incomprehensibly small that it is possible to dismiss it outright. Perhaps you haven’t heard of textual criticism — it is the job of textual critics to determine, based on our manuscripts, what an author originally said. This has been done, we’re pretty sure what the Bible originally said, almost word for word, as we are with the writings of Sallust, Cassius Dio, Justin Martyr, Sappho, etc. There is no uncertainty here. This field has been advanced to such a degree that only particular tiny details throughout the New Testament books, with a handful of exceptions, are debated about the original.

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        • Having listened to some textual critics talk about the issue, your confidence is very misplaced. The uncertainty is not “incomprehensibly small”. You may need to believe that it is, to maintain your confidence in your religion.

          For comparison, imagine that you want to know about the life of Joseph Smith. But instead of a proper biography the only sources you have are propaganda brochures handed to you by a couple of young missionaries. Now add the problem that they have handed you four different brochures whose accounts don’t match. Now add the problem that the brochures were originally written in a different language than Joseph Smith spoke, by people who didn’t actually know Smith. Now add in the fact that we don’t have the original brochures, but copies of copies of copies, all written by people of different levels of skill, and with their own agendas about what they wanted the brochure to say, which influenced how they made their guesses about what somebody else’s bad handwriting said. And now you have to translate that language to your own to read them, so you have added not one but two layers of translation errors.

          If that were what I had to work with, I would want to compare what those brochures said with other third-party sources before I would consider any of it as possibly true. For Joseph Smith, we have those sources, written by people who weren’t trying to push a belief in his religion.

          Liked by 2 people

        • “Now add the problem that they have handed you four different brochures whose accounts don’t match.”

          But the accounts do match, there are very few places where differences in the Gospels aren’t outright reconcilable, especially considering our increasing knowledge about differences in the Gospels and their relationship to literary compositional devices rather than actual contradictions. Check this stuff out.

          The rest of your post simply exaggerates the problems we have — we have more manuscripts of the New Testament for any other ancient document, and our New Testament manuscripts are earlier than those for every other ancient manuscript. Less than 1% of variants in the manuscripts remain unresolved. We have a very good idea of what the original Gospels said (alongside the rest of the New Testament).

          “No accounts by anybody who said “sure I knew the guy” or “my cousin got his leprosy cured” or “some preacher sent some demons into my herd of pigs and they’re all dead!”

          This is virtually irrelevant, since we don’t have those kinds of records for any other ancient figures and events anyways. We just have ancient histories and biographies from general figures. Name me a single ancient document we have written by a farmer. Just one.

          “Without that, we have a twice-translated game of telephone, not reliable historical documents.”

          This is what I noted about the analogy to the telephone game elsewhere;

          Comparing the transmission of the manuscripts of the New Testament to the telephone game is obviously logically bolts. In a round of the telephone game, one person can only tell the next person the message one time, whereas when copying a manuscript, you can cross-check the original as many times as you want before copying it down. Furthermore, in the telephone game, you have to intentionally whisper the message to the person beside you, something that is totally unparalleled when a scribe copies from a manuscript. The objective of the telephone game is to corrupt the message, whereas the objective of manuscript transmission is to preserve the message. As the prestigious scholar, Daniel Wallace remarks, “…it’s a ridiculous comparison, frankly. For one thing in the telephone game the purpose is to skew the message so you can have a big laugh, and in fact the message is somewhat convoluted right to begin with, difficult to remember, and not something easily communicated.” In other words, the analogy of the telephone game falls apart when trying to challenge the preservation of the New Testament.

          These challenges to the New Testament just don’t seem to hold up. I guess they’re historically reliable.

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        • Not buying it. We have lot of detail about the lives of many other ancient people, from people who knew them, and from proper biographers who weren’t trying to sell us on their subject being a god-man. I think it’s necessary for christians to minimize the extent of the problems, because once you take an objective outside look, you wind up where many of us are, as ex-christians. And your church really doesn’t want that, so they tell you the problems really aren’t problems.

          Just as an example, here’s a challenge for you. Take all four gospels. Starting with the arrest of Jesus, write down a narrative of the sequence of all the events that happened, who said what, and when. Make sure that your timeline is consistent with all four of your gospels.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Your ‘buying it’ is irrelevant, because what I told you is a fact. Name me a single ancient figure, just one, in all of ancient history with four biographies written about them within a century of their death. Go on, then. Once you realize you can’t, that should make the rest self-evident — we simply don’t have the type of sources your talking about and that you think exist, they’re all in your head and not in the extant historical record. If you took an ‘outside’ look, you’d realize Christians aren’t trying to minimize these fictional problems, it becomes clear that the unbelievers are trying to pull them from thin air in order to actually make a case against obvious reality.

          As for making a single timeline from all four gospels, I simply don’t have that time right now but I know it’s been done before. Hence, this claim here falls apart as well.

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        • You can say “It’s a fact” all you want but I remain unconvinced. You don’t have serious “biographies” you have anonymous religious propaganda. And every person that I have seen attempting to create a timeline of just the trial, death and supposed resurrection of Jesus, that contains all the events of all four books, without any contradictions, has failed. Try it sometime, and see if you have more success. Horizontal reading like that is not usually encouraged in churches, because it highlights the differences in the accounts.

          I think that you must needs minimize the problems, or you might have to change what you believe. That doesn’t mean that the problems are small, it means that you are motivated to reach the answer of “there aren’t any problems”.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “You can say “It’s a fact” all you want but I remain unconvinced. You don’t have serious “biographies” you have anonymous religious propaganda.”

          It’s the virtual consensus of scholars that the four Gospels are Graeco-Roman biographies. This entire ‘religious propaganda’ shtick is totally crazy.

          “And every person that I have seen attempting to create a timeline of just the trial, death and supposed resurrection of Jesus, that contains all the events of all four books, without any contradictions, has failed. ”

          Considering you haven’t read a single harmonization attempt, this is rather absurd to claim.

          Again, cite me a single ancient figure in all ancient history with four biographies written about them within a century of their death. One. That’s all you need to do to show that my argument doesn’t completely erase your worldview.

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        • No, I’m done with you and your “facts” and “virtual consensus” that are only convincing to those within your religious bubble. I’m leaving you to Professor Taboo, and am looking forward to his closing statements.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Taboo? Look forwards to my closing as well. What I say is only convincing to those in the religious bubble? Interesting indeed, I’d wonder how scholars like Gerd Ludemann would like to be told their part of some religious bubble!

          Four biographies within a century of the persons lifetime. If you can’t provide that, I’d have entirely demonstrated that there is no ‘problem’ that anyone’s trying to minimize.

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        • Sorry, the comments derped and posted before I was done. We have outside sources for the life of Smith, many sources. We have none to compare your gospels to. No accounts by anybody who said “sure I knew the guy” or “my cousin got his leprosy cured” or “some preacher sent some demons into my herd of pigs and they’re all dead! I wanted to sue him for the cost of the pigs, but he left town”. In a world where there were a lot of literate people, and we have a lot of preserved writings on many subjects, including personal correspondence, we have not one person writing about this miracle-working wandering preacher. Without that, we have a twice-translated game of telephone, not reliable historical documents.

          And now I’ll leave the rest of the discussion to Professor Taboo, who is doing a wonderful job on the details.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Just a quick comment — I googled “Reliability of the New Testament” and what a plethora of “proofs” offered by — you guessed it — Christians and their favorite apologists.

    However, I did come across this comment that James Still referenced:

    It is incorrect to argue that the entire NT is “divinely-inspired” or historically valid in every detail.

    Methinks this is a good starting point.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Nan. Thought I would jump in briefly here.

      Since we don’t have the original documents, it would be nonsensical to conclude that every detail is historically valid, nor that every single word from the copies necessarily inspired. No serious scholar doubts that there are variants installed by scribal error and interpolation. And, furthermore, the translators must sometimes employ interpolation where phrases are hard to translate, so there will be further variation from the original language to English or other language translations.

      What we have is a very good understanding of the original text based on the 25,000 + manuscripts and fragments going back to the second century, possibly the first (if latest findings are correct). We can cross reference the discrepancies and come up with a very accurate picture of the original. And as agnostic Bible scholar Bart Ehrman himself said in a Q&A section of his paperback copy of “Misquoting Jesus,” “Essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”

      We can also make the bar for reliability crazy high so we never come to a conclusion, but by normal standards it’s reasonable to say that the text we have is reliable.

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      • “Essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”

        Other than the fact that these ”essential beliefs” are all nonsense and built upon false premise of course. Isn’t that so, Mel?
        Therefore, you can cherry-pick Ehrman till the moo cows come home. A million extant manuscripts won’t make a blind bit of difference.
        We can conclude therefore,that from an honest person’s perspective they are only reliable in as much that they never fail to disappoint.

        You can relax, Mel. In this case don’t have to worry.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sorry, Ark, that’s not what cherry picking actually is. You should look it up and find out what it means instead of just throwing it out there whenever it suits you. I identified Ehrman as an AGNOSTIC scholar, and I don’t have cover every single doctrinal point he believes in order to properly quote him. I was simply clarifying the popular but erroneous conclusion that skeptics like to make about their poster boy, that he actually doesn’t believe the central tenets of the faith are compromised. That is a relevant statement to this discussion. Ironically, to exclude this position would be cherry picking or misrepresenting Ehrman.

          So take it as you wish. No worries here.

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        • I never said you misquoted him.
          Cherry picking, suppressing evidence, or the fallacy of incomplete evidence is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position

          You cherry pick him whenver it suits you.

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        • How is this misrepresenting his position? The subject was not what Ehrman believes about the Bible in general. And I’m pretty sure everyone here already knows what He believes, so I don’t have to cover that ground. That’s why I was pointing out that even Ehrman (who thinks the Bible is forged) believes the central tenets are not compromised. That is a valid point for this topic.

          Believe whatever you want. I’m not going to argue over such nonsense.

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        • The post concerns the reliability of the New Testament.
          As it is a fallacious collection of documents anything you believe is thus based largely on garbage.
          What has Ehrman’s statement got to do with anything?
          Surely you aren’t suggesting he lends any credence to the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection?

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        • No, I wasn’t suggesting that Ehrman believes in the virgin birth or resurrection. I was simply stating his position that the variations do not change any important Christian doctrine. Whether we believe the copies are all based on forgeries is a different matter. Most Bible scholars disagree with him there.

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        • I was simply stating his position that the variations do not change any important Christian doctrine.

          Well, no, in that case they probably don’t.
          If one starts with a lie then the variations only change the nature of lie, but the essential lie remains.
          For example: the virgin birth narrative in Matthew.
          As lies are what Christianity is based upon, then I guess we have no argument, do we?

          Liked by 1 person

      • Hello again Mel. Glad to see you here. 🙂 If I may…

        You stated above:

        What we have is a very good understanding of the original text based on the 25,000 + manuscripts and fragments going back to the second century, possibly the first (if latest findings are correct).

        But if the originals are lost, and the nearest-originals do not have as many additional events as the copies done 300-years later (which make up the vast majority of your 25,000+ manuscripts), what does that imply about the veracity of ANY manuscripts/testaments written AFTER Paul’s epistles about 52 — 60 CE? Wouldn’t this progression be similar/identical to the Chinese whisper/telephone game where the final story is convoluted or contaminated from its original content and meaning? Each later narrative/testimony becomes more and more diluted or embellished and increasingly INaccurate. Prime example: the Codex Sinaiticus’ gospel of Mark, one of the earliest copies, has no resurrection story whatsoever! Paul’s epistles — again the earliest extant copies about his post-Damascus conversion & trip to Arabia — also have no mention of any resurrection story! The implications for these critical omissions/oversights are HUGE for the veracity of synoptic gospels and beyond.

        Further still, biblical and historical scholars can derive a flowing, changing progression and adaptation of the New Testament manuscripts when they are embedded inside the broader, wider spectrum of known Roman events.

        For example, the very first known canonical gospel is Mark, written c. 70 CE or later and it was/is more like a documentary(?) of events. Then the other 2 synoptic gospels (Matthew & Luke written c. 85-90 CE) were drawn from Mark, BUT added (embellished?) more content (from someone) than was in the original Mark. The gospel of John was written c. 95-110 CE and is more about distinguishing the new splinter-movement into a non-Judaic-Christian theology and completely different independent movement. Why or why not? It is universal historical knowledge just how polarized the pure-Romans were to the Jews through and up to the end of the Jewish Wars/Rebellions, giving more probable reasons to change (embellished?) the original Messianism to a more Roman-conducive version, if for no other reason than survival under harsh Roman oppression or extinction ala Masada.

        To conclude, I guess what I’m respectfully suggesting to you Mel is the “cross-referencing” you mention MUST UNEQUIVOCALLY include an extensive understanding of not just the Roman Empire of the time, but equally Jewish Messianism from 8 BCE thru at least 70 CE. I will be happy to offer credible sources to both should you be interested.

        Thanks Mel.

        Liked by 4 people

        • Taboo, I see you’re not going to be slowing down anytime soon. Despite the fact that you make a number of points in this new comment to Mel that I consider completely in error, I’ll only address one, and an important one that I find here.

          “Wouldn’t this progression be similar/identical to the Chinese whisper/telephone game where the final story is convoluted or contaminated from its original content and meaning?”

          Comparing the transmission of the manuscripts of the New Testament to the telephone game is obviously logically bolts. In a round of the telephone game, one person can only tell the next person the message one time, whereas when copying a manuscript, you can cross-check the original as many times as you want before copying it down. Furthermore, in the telephone game, you have to intentionally whisper the message to the person beside you, something that is totally unparalleled when a scribe copies from a manuscript. The objective of the telephone game is to corrupt the message, whereas the objective of manuscript transmission is to preserve the message. As the prestigious scholar, Daniel Wallace remarks, “…it’s a ridiculous comparison, frankly. For one thing in the telephone game the purpose is to skew the message so you can have a big laugh, and in fact the message is somewhat convoluted right to begin with, difficult to remember, and not something easily communicated.” In other words, the analogy of the telephone game falls apart when trying to challenge the preservation of the New Testament.

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        • Be patient SC. This subject is not critical to everyone. I have had and will have a busy weekend. My response to you below (and forthcoming) will offer readers/followers here MORE info and questions to ask, consider, research, cross-reference, and explore to make their own decisions. We are merely offering extended information & history. 🙂

          Chat soon.

          Liked by 1 person

      • “I would be interested in the criteria used for delineating divinely inspired from non divinely inspired.”

        Likewise. it is this area where Christian claims fall over and reveal themselves to be utterly unreasonably held.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well the fact that the Gospels differ among themselves is not a good start for the reliability cause. In particular I have in mind the differing birth narratives between Luke and Matthew, the differing crucifixion narratives between John and the other Gospels and the differing post crucifixion narratives between Luke and Matthew.

    Of course apologists have found ways to ‘reconcile’ these differences, but the explanations require ‘inventive’ interpretations that do violence to the natural reading of the texts.

    Once we start addressing matters like the Garden of eden, the Flood and the Tower of Babel the apologist faces a choice, either chose a mythological interpretation or abandon scientific evidence.

    Liked by 4 people

    • The dicussion, of course, is on the New Testament, not the Garden of Eden, Flood or Tower of Babel (the tower most likely existed, the other two are questionable as to how the author of Genesis intended the story). But these are Old Testament stories, and the discussion is on the New Testament, or more preferably, the Gospels.

      Of course, if you argue against the reliability of the Gospels, one of the things you’ll try to bring up are the (supposed) contradictions. If you think you have enough arsenal against the reliability of the New Testament with these (supposed) contradictions, then, by all means, take up the challenge to debate the historical reliability of the Gospels.

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      • Aside from the plethora of contradictions — which are relevant, but not crucial for establishing unreliability; it does help — I feel the larger question, and hence deficiency of the NT veracity, is the gross lack of independent corroboration for events, teaching, and characters of the Synoptic gospels. See my comment-reply to you below.

        If you can provide a minimum of three independent corroborations, THEN you might have a decent apologetic chance.

        Thanks SC

        Liked by 3 people

      • I accept this is about the NT, however ..

        ” Tower of Babel (the tower most likely existed, the other two are questionable as to how the author of Genesis intended the story). ”

        can you can show us where the foundations are ? I’m sure there are archaeologists who’d love to investigate them.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Scientific Christian here. I’ll be debating for the historical reliability of, preferably, the Gospels. Any non-Christian who doesn’t think that the Gospels are valuable historical sources and thinks they can demonstrate it in a debate can take me up on my challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In a few different ways — at least on an introductory level — respectfully, that’s exactly what we are doing here. To be a lot more specific for you SC…

      For starters, please provide ANY independent sources/authors (i.e. 1st century CE non-Judeo-Christian authors) for the veracity of the resurrection, the veracity of the Synoptic gospels, and the earliest movement “The Way” (as it was known in the 1st century CE) and its pre-Paulinian theology. Further still, what extant artifacts/texts are NOT 2nd and 3rd century CE Greco-Roman-Constantinian “evidence”?

      Thanks SC.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Perhaps you misunderstood — the debate is to be organized between our blogs, where we will both posts introductory defenses for our claims, then two or three rebuttals, and finally concluding statements. A written dialogue/debate, so to speak. So, will you take me up on this challenge?

        As for the remainder of your comments, I will make some notes on them as you have not actually accepted my challenge yet, hence making this exchange just another online discourse for now where the poor skeptic has all his beliefs dismantled in front of his eyes.

        “…and its pre-Paulinian theology.”

        You’re clearly amazingly confused, as there is no such term as ‘Paulinian’. I can’t actually deduce whether or not you are trying to use complex terms to give the illusion to a reader that you’re well versed on the academic literature on the subject, or whether this blatant error comes from some different source, but indeed, there is no such term as ‘pre-Paulinian’. Scholars say ‘pre-Pauline’. You go on to make a similarly questionable statement;

        “…NOT 2nd and 3rd century CE Greco-Roman-Constantinian “evidence”?”

        Constantinian? Am I missing something? And since when was Constantine a 2nd/3rd century emperor? He became emperor 306 AD, which is the 4th century. These are minor but telling errors on your grasp of ancient Roman and Christian history.

        Now, let’s actually get to a few of your arguments/comments.

        “For starters, please provide ANY independent sources/authors (i.e. 1st century CE non-Judeo-Christian authors) for the veracity of the resurrection, the veracity of the Synoptic gospels, and the earliest movement “The Way” (as it was known in the 1st century CE) and its pre-Paulinian theology. Further still, what extant artifacts/texts are NOT 2nd and 3rd century CE Greco-Roman-Constantinian “evidence”?”

        Now, because this statement makes almost no grammatical sense and is highly vague, it’s hard for me to tell exactly what you’re looking for. But from what I can get at, you want a 1st century source written by a non-Christian substantiating the resurrection of Jesus and the historicity of the Gospels. For the historicity of the Gospels, almost all our 1st century Israelite sources qualify; an abundance of 1st century non-Christian sources confirm figures like Pontius Pilate really were procurators, that Tiberius reigned during the ministry of Jesus, that pretty much every location mentioned in the entire New Testament did in fact exist, etc, etc, etc. Furthermore, archaeology has substantially also confirmed the historicity of the New Testament accounts. To become more familiar with this, I can only recommend reading this magisterial paper from 2010 written by a world-class scholar in this field on the emerging relationship between archaeology and the Gospel of John.
        https://www.academia.edu/8789383/The_Historical_Jesus_in_the_Fourth_Gospel_A_Paradigm_Shift

        I’m sure that should satisfy you for the time being. But, before I move on, I have a scathing critique of your methodology. You specifically wanted non-Christian sources — in other words, you consider Christian sources historically unreliable for.. No explanation whatsoever. Considering that dismissing Christian sources only because they are Christian is totally crazy, your method is going to have to be ignored. Christian ancient sources are valuable, as agreed upon by all living historians, including all historians to ever live.

        We move on to the resurrection — obviously, we have a number of sources, all Christian, documenting the resurrection and details about it. Gospels, Paul’s epistles, pre-Pauline creeds, etc. But mentioning the resurrection itself is questionable, since the debate is about the reliability of the Gospels, not about proving the resurrection with history. If you were interested about the former, though, watch this:

        Now, this part of your comment:

        “Further still, what extant artifacts/texts are NOT 2nd and 3rd century CE Greco-Roman-Constantinian “evidence”?”

        To me, this statement makes absolutely zero sense, and so you’ll need to clarify.

        “Aside from the plethora of contradictions — which are relevant, but not crucial for establishing unreliability…”

        As has been demonstrated in recent years, the number of so-called contradictions is totally overblown, and has been heavily addressed. The most recent literature, through a greater understanding of ancient historical literature and literary compositional devices, has demonstrated that the number of contradictions in the Gospels is either rather small or non-existent. Just last year, in 2016, Oxford University Press published a landmark monograph titled ‘Why Are There Differences In The Gospels’. The author notes that the Gospels belong to the genre of Graeco-Roman biography (as demonstrated by Richard Burridge in the 1990’s), and so he analyzes the plethora of Graeco-Roman biographies written by Plutarch. Based off his observations of Plutarch’s compositional devices, the author discovered that a large number of differences between the same narrative are actually caused by literary compositional devices, not contradictions. The author then used his newfound understanding of these compositional devices and applied them to the differences in the Gospel accounts, and found that most of them sink.

        For the note, the author still thinks there are a few contradictions in the Gospels without reserve. He simply demonstrated to academia that most of them are actually not there at all. This groundbreaking book sheds much light on both Gospel differences and literary compositional devices from ancient times for scholars.

        Hence, contradiction accusations are totally overblown, as historians have demonstrated, and can’t conceivably challenge the reliability of the Gospels.

        Hopefully that will get rid of your annoying arrogance.

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        • Hopefully that will get rid of your annoying arrogance.

          Ahh, (hahaha) you had me a bit interested until this unwarranted childish remark. Disappointed, but not surprised. Your defensiveness was quite premature SC. There was nothing in my comments which should have caused your paranoia or a self-perceived need to bow-up your chest like that. 😉

          Nonetheless, I’ll “consider” your reply and at a later time determine its worthiness of time and effort, for both of us.

          Take care and اذهب مع إلهك

          Liked by 2 people

        • “Ahh, (hahaha) you had me a bit interested until this unwarranted childish remark. Disappointed, but not surprised. ”

          Your overconfidence and easy dismissal of the Gospels just slightly got on my nerves. Anyhow, at least I know you read the full comment, which is a good thing.

          As for whether or not you’re going to be able to rebut it — I don’t see that happening, but I’m at the very least interested in your thoughts. Perhaps I’m wrong.

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        • I certainly do not presume that the following reflections are scientific and objective;

          From the opening paragraph of your PDF link for Charlesworth.

          I stopped reading after this

          Liked by 1 person

        • Out of context, complete nonsense. Charlesworth’s insights (as well as those of many other scholars who published similar papers a year or two before him, especially P.N. Anderson) are now adopted as the new paradigm in academia. Hence, you might as well read the paper to know the current consensus as well as understand the new archaeological insights to the Gospel of John.

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        • “Okay … list of notable secular New Testament scholars who agree with your statement, please.”

          For one, James Charlesworth himself. It’s very hard to be more notable than Charlesworth. Furthermore, Paul N. Anderson for sure, who put together the John, Jesus and Archaeology symposium which is still ongoing, and some of the most important contributions to Johannine scholarship have been made in it in the last few years. He has also written out a similar paper, four years before Charlesworth (which means 2006), which also pushes for the same paradigm shift;
          http://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/ccs/95/

          And this third paper I’m aware of written in 2009 which pushes for the paradigm shift;
          http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/jats/vol21/iss1/6/

          The paradigm shift happened a few years ago, you missed it. Major volumes that helped contribute to this paradigm shift include, as I’ve noted earlier, the ongoing symposiums by P.N. Anderson and the major volume Jesus and Archaeology, over 700 pages long which is filled with a long list of contributions from countless different scholars (the overall monograph was edited by J.H. Charlesworth). You can search up the very influential volume. The entire thing happened and you missed it (to be fair, I only learned about it half a year ago or something). I suggest you read the three papers I posted and you’ll understand exactly what’s going on.

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        • Hey Nan I have another question. On the top of your blog, you have a page ‘Creative Blog’ which, when clicked on, just totally directly redirects to another blog right away. Do you know how I can embed a link into a page title like that?

          Like

        • Jim Charlesworth is a Christian. he is even an ordained Methodist minister.
          Beep! Oh dear, not secular. …. you lost. Well … thank you for playing.

          Anderson looks as if he is also a Christian but I can’t pin down his CV … yet.

          I strongly recommend that you learn to do some proper research, learn to understand what words and terms actually mean, and most importantly, develop some integrity before you post. That way you won’t make such a Nob of yourself.

          Have a day.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “Jim Charlesworth is a Christian. he is even an ordained Methodist minister.
          Beep! Oh dear, not secular. …. you lost. Well … thank you for playing.”

          Jim? You mean James. Secondly, actually read the paper I noted, Charlesworth thinks that part of the Gospel of John was written at one time and then the rest about two decades later — something a fundamentalist would lose their minds if they saw. Charlesworth is certainly a world-renowned scholar with a valid and unbiased analysis of the evidence, such as on a context like this discussion.

          “Anderson looks as if he is also a Christian but I can’t pin down his CV … yet.”

          Search him up on Google Scholar, he has some serious citations and a crazy publishing record on him.

          And this paradigm shift has already happened anyways, meaning there’s no excuse.

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        • I don’t give a flying spaghetti monster. I asked for secular scholars who back his position and you gave me two Christians.
          Stop being such an ignorant disingenuous Nob
          Now put up or piss off. You’re a fraud.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “I don’t give a flying spaghetti monster. I asked for secular scholars who back his position and you gave me two Christians.”

          Err… You mean only atheist scholars count? This is a strange position you’ve put me in, since the religion of the person making the argument has nothing to do with the argument. Anyhow, just look at the papers that cite these two studies I gave you, you should be more than fulfilled.

          “You’re a fraud.”

          Looks like you need Jesus, pal.

          Like

        • I read Charlesworth’s paper when you first offered it a while back.
          At that stage I did not know if he was a Christian or not and could not find any info. Bu the paper still left me feeling uncomfortable because I couldn’t find anyone supporting it.
          It was just by chance that I came across a video where the host introduced him and mentioned he was an Ordained Baptist Minister and THAT told me all I needed to know, and put everything about his paper into perspective.

          You finally blew your wad, you ingratiating little dipshit.
          And if anyone else wishes to engage you best of luck to them.
          As far as I am concerned you are a lying little toe rag.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “because I couldn’t find anyone supporting it.”

          Besides the fact that it was published into one of the leading journals on New Testament studies and the fact that it’s been cited 14 times, what makes you find a lack of support for this? And as I recounted earlier, Charlesworth has views about the composition of the Gospels that would drive an evangelical nuts, he’s certainly not biased in any such way as for his bias to shudder his scholarly credibility, and of course, let’s not forget the fact that Charlesworth is one of the worlds leading academics on what we’re talking about, about on Ehrman’s level of fame in the academic community.

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        • I can only recommend reading this magisterial paper from 2010 written by a world-class scholar in this field on the emerging relationship between archaeology and the Gospel of John.

          I’d be interested to read this… but using the link your provided, academia.edu wants access to my Google/Gmail contacts before I can download it, and I’m not about to provide that information. Can you point us to another place where this paper can be found?

          Like

        • “I’d be interested to read this… but using the link your provided, academia.edu wants access to my Google/Gmail contacts before I can download it, and I’m not about to provide that information. Can you point us to another place where this paper can be found?”

          Tell me if this PDF works;
          http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/docserver/14768690/v8n1_splitsection2.pdf?expires=1500056373&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=986F1BF09CC15316EC85893C785A2C61

          If not, go to this link and then click ‘read’ which is located in the upper right corner.
          http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/174551909×12607965419559

          Let me know if this works.

          Liked by 1 person

        • The new link to “The HIstorical Jesus in the Fourth Gospel” worked; thanks. I was able to download the article for my “to read” list.

          Like

  5. Reliable as historical documents? No. They report of miraculous things that we are not expected to accept as true.
    They are claimed to be of divine origin. They are either eye witness reports or they are passed down from the divine, but they can’t be both.
    I am waiting for demonstration of their divine origin.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If appearances speak for themselves, you appear to misunderstand the issue at hand. The debate challenge is not whether or not the New Testament is of divine origin, but rather if the New Testament is a historically reliable text. Historical reliability is not the same thing as divine inspiration, and these two concepts can’t be conflated with each other.

      For example, ancient Roman historians, particularly Sallust and Tacitus, are historically reliable (yet clearly not of divine origin). Comparably, can we say the New Testament is historically reliable in the same sense that we can say Tacitus is historically reliable? That is to say — if the Gospel of Luke told us that Jesus preached in the synagogues of Galilee, could we accept this as true just because it is reported in the Gospel of Luke, a fairly reliable ancient source? That’s the issue at hand, not inspiration of God.

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      • I didn’t understand the question because you didn’t like my answer.
        Take 2.
        First, those two historians you mention claim no divine inspiration for their works & to the extent there is contained miraculous deeds in those works, those portions are not treated as historical. Unless you can show where they report of things that are unlikely to have happened but historians treat those portions as historical, I will concede.
        2. The gospels give conflicting reports. If they are eyewitness reports they are not reliable historically. They talk of swine running to their death at a cliff which is unlikely to have happened, they make reference to OT stories which are stretched to confirm a particular story. They are not historical to those extents and more.
        3. You may want to run away from the question of divine inspiration but if they are not divine, they fall. The gospels can only be valid to the extent that it can be demonstrated they are divinely inspired. If you are willing to admit they are human artifacts, then the question of mistakes becomes a non issue.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Nice koala picture.

          “First, those two historians you mention claim no divine inspiration for their works & to the extent there is contained miraculous deeds in those works, those portions are not treated as historical.”

          The Gospel records nowhere explicitly claim to have been sent down from divine origin, and the fact that miracle claims are contained is irrelevant. Historians are analyzing the segments of the story that they can test as historical or ahistorical, only in rare cases can we historically examine a miracle claim.

          “Unless you can show where they report of things that are unlikely to have happened but historians treat those portions as historical, I will concede.”

          There are countless things that historians treat as historical in the Gospels. First of all, there’s the obvious of the obvious; figures like Pontius Pilate, Tiberius, Herod the Great, Herod Antipas all existed, as well as cities and villages mentioned throughout the Gospels like Magdala, Capernaum, Nazareth, Jerusalem, etc. Then, we have the fact that many specific figures of the Gospels, like Peter, John, etc, all existed. Jesus did visit Jerusalem as the Gospels narrate, he was baptized by John the Baptist, he was crucified by Pontius Pilate and then buried, etc, etc, etc. Tons of it is established history.

          “The gospels give conflicting reports”

          There are either very few or outright no contradictions in the Gospels, and all the contradictions that supposed do exist are in the peripheral details of the narrative. Anyhow, all ancient historians not only contradict other writers of the period — they contradict themselves, and so tiny contradictions here and there wouldn’t actually challenge the historical reliability of the Gospels.

          “They talk of swine running to their death at a cliff which is unlikely to have happened, they make reference to OT stories which are stretched to confirm a particular story. They are not historical to those extents and more.”

          LOL! Simply asserting that they aren’t historical in certain places is an argument I won’t let slyly pass by.

          “if they are not divine, they fall”

          This is totally bolts. But they are divine, since you asked, even if that’s not what we’re discussing (which makes it weird that you keep bringing it up).

          Like

        • I, too, like the picture.

          I think you meant bollocks. And no, I know we are discussing historical reliability. And I keep telling you when treating of the gospels, you can’t treat of them fully without answering the question of their origin.

          You want me to believe eyewitness report of the same occurrence should differ because historians contradict themselves all the time. The gospel authors make no claim to being historians, they are, if the bs is true, companions of the figure of whom they report and participants / actors in the narrative. Except for Luke.

          That a novelist writes of a historical place doesn’t make that work historical. Are we to believe Matthew when he mentions a historical place and then next tell us the dead walked out of their graves. So it must be historical because he mentions Jerusalem.

          War and Peace is a work of fiction. It mentions Napoleon, Tsar Nicholas and Moscow. By your standards, it’s a work of history!

          Liked by 2 people

        • “I too like the picture”

          Amen brother.

          “I think you meant bollocks.”

          I’ve been saying ‘bolts’ more recently. But yeah, I guess some of the stuff you’re saying is bullocks.

          “And no, I know we are discussing historical reliability. And I keep telling you when treating of the gospels, you can’t treat of them fully without answering the question of their origin.”

          But what do you mean by origin? The authorship of the book? The year it was written in? Whether or not it was delivered with a divine sticker on the cover? We can answer the historical reliability of the Gospels without answering the question of inspiration. Many ancient writers speak of miracles and the divine, yet they are also decreed as historically reliable.

          “You want me to believe eyewitness report of the same occurrence should differ because historians contradict themselves all the time. The gospel authors make no claim to being historians, they are, if the bs is true, companions of the figure of whom they report and participants / actors in the narrative. Except for Luke.”

          You’re totally shifting goalposts. My point was that contradictions don’t necessarily point to historical unreliability, which is still true. Although the Gospels do not claim to be written by historians, historians believe that Luke was written by a historian.

          “That a novelist writes of a historical place doesn’t make that work historical. Are we to believe Matthew when he mentions a historical place and then next tell us the dead walked out of their graves. So it must be historical because he mentions Jerusalem.”

          This is a total strawman of the argument — I simply began by pointing out the bare historical bedrock details of the Gospels. Never did I claim that mentioning Herod means Jesus rose from the dead (albeit, he did).

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        • Brothers us? I don’t think so. What have we in common?
          It’s bollocks not bullocks!
          Let’s see, if for a moment we were to say the gospels are historical, what is going to be your next claim?

          Liked by 2 people

        • “It’s bollocks not bullocks!”

          “Let’s see, if for a moment we were to say the gospels are historical, what is going to be your next claim?”

          Because they are historically reliable, we can take them at their words with a good degree of confidence when they tell us about events regarding the life of Jesus, such as that He preached throughout the synagogues of Galilee, that he was a travelling teacher with disciples, etc. Taking the Gospels are reliable texts, in my view, is a very good thing for Christianity.

          “And I need to add just for good measure, I have taken enough space on Nan’s blog & I am also tired of taking you along your wild goose chase for a thread to hang your Jesus story.”

          What do you mean by when you say, “I have taken enough space on Nan’s blog”?

          Like

        • Ah, so when they say he cursed a fig tree, walked on water, fed thousands, whipped people in the temple, we should believe it? I like your scholarly rigour. I must have gone to a bad school.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “Ah, so when they say he cursed a fig tree, walked on water, fed thousands, whipped people in the temple, we should believe it?”

          Of course, Jesus is Lord. But that isn’t relevant to what I’m talking about, I’m talking about the historical reliability of the Gospels which is a different question. You asked if the reliability is granted, what is the next step? This is what I said:

          Because they are historically reliable, we can take them at their words with a good degree of confidence when they tell us about events regarding the life of Jesus, such as that He preached throughout the synagogues of Galilee, that he was a travelling teacher with disciples, etc. Taking the Gospels are reliable texts, in my view, is a very good thing for Christianity.

          You’ll notice I didn’t cite any miraculous claims, although those did obviously happen (since it was the Son of God doing them, of course).

          Like

        • And I need to add just for good measure, I have taken enough space on Nan’s blog & I am also tired of taking you along your wild goose chase for a thread to hang your Jesus story.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. The dicussion, of course, is on the New Testament, …..

    …..these are Old Testament stories, and the discussion is on the New Testament, or more preferably, the Gospels.

    Odd that SC does not want to include any reference to the Old Testament inn this discussion.

    How is one able to provide a point of reference for the nonsense of the Virgin Birth is we cannot reference Isaiah 7:14 from where the writer of Matthew ripped-off this laughable piece of biological fantasy?
    SC has already stated that the last verse of John, for example is obviously an exaggeration ….

    Taking into account John’s obvious exaggeration that he intentionally made …

    So, Yahweh inspired the writer to tell white lies, did he?
    Hmmm … is this what inspired Eusebius, I wonder?

    If we cannot reference the Old Testament then how are we supposed to deal with Saul of Tarsus’s obvious belief in Adam and the origin of Original Sin?
    How are we to even discuss the supposed mission of the character Jesus of Nazareth if we are unable to bring to the table the biblical tale of the Exodus and mythological character of Moses, who Jesus of Nazareth was convinced was a real historical figure?
    In fact, the New Testament has absolutely no relevance if there is no Old Testament, for if we removed the Old from any such discussion, or more pointedly if it never existed, anyone reading the New or trying to discuss it would be stopping the conversation at almost every turn with the question:
    ”And just who the hell was he ?” Adam, Abraham, Moses,David, Solomon, King Ahaz, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job,etc …
    In fact, we would probably interject almost immediately with:
    ”Sorry, who was Yahweh?”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. For Scientific Christian —

    I think further explanation of Nan’s intent for this post is in order before I proceed with you.

    First and foremost, if you are able to refrain from childish, snide personal remarks/opinions about a stranger’s character and stay on topic (i.e. the veracity of the New Testament – NT), then I gladly accept Nan’s offer to us and everyone here to dialogue with you (here) about the Canonical NT… humbly and according to Nan’s stated parameters & conditions of etiquette. I’ll respectfully remind you that you and I know NOTHING personal about each other; we are complete strangers and as such, any snide jabs at a “complete stranger’s” person is utterly unnecessary toward the subject at hand. In fact, snide jabs reflect a particular maturity level; it’s best you check-it from here on out if you want to be taken serious. I believe too that Nan made this very clear, above, in her post. Let’s abide by it SC. Please do not take any of this personally. I’m merely repeating Nan’s initial intention for this post.

    Secondly, as I recall, Nan did not set any parameters on HER followers or participants here about…

    …the debate is to be organized between our blogs, where we will both posts introductory defenses for our claims, then two or three rebuttals, and finally concluding statements. A written dialogue/debate, so to speak.

    I will remain here and engaged with you and any others as long as you keep to the subject, follow the first condition of etiquette Nan stated above, and our exchanges remain informative for all concerned… for this controversial topic (the veracity of the canonical NT) is typically a VERY lengthy discussion/debate and requires exceptional patience, articulation, reasonable (not perfect) syntax, and common courtesy/decency between everyone involved. If you agree with Nan’s and my two conditions here, I am happy to proceed. So, assuming you abide by Nan’s parameters as well as mine, I will address 2 of your responses above.

    Prefacing sidenote — When I state the NT, henceforth I’m referring to the Greek-version of the 4th-century canonical New Testament. Realize also SC that by jumping only into the tiny, narrow topic of the NT as others here have pointed out, we are skipping many other major confusions & controversies about the historical context & conflict of Jewish Messianism dating back to the 8th-century BCE between several sects of Judiasm. Omitting this history in our discussion setups many problems with NT exegesis, especially Paul’s. Keep this in mind.

    Regarding clarification of “pre-Paulinian theology” I mentioned, on a chronological timeline, the resurrection story and Synoptic gospels were written, or they are dated, well after Paul’s epistles. Therefore, because the canonical NT is so heavily full of his epistles (8 to 13 of the 27 books: 48% – 30%? and by default his theology) and Christian followers today rely heavily on Paul’s earliest interpretations of the Messiah/Christ via word-of-mouth from the disciples/followers of “The Way” then thru Paul’s epistles… I distinguish this crucial dynamic about Paul’s letters to emphasize the serious rift between original Jewish Messianism (pre-Paulian) versus Paul’s “conversion” from the Pharisees and his subsequent learning of “The Way” (which likely includes his obscure years in Arabia where a Nasara-Nasorean sect existed) until his first extant epistle to the Thessalonians c. 52 CE. In other words, you should agree that Paul’s beliefs drastically changed from pre-Damascus Road to post-Damascus Road, yes? Thus, my additional distinction above.

    To further clarify, it’s worthy to note that Paul’s epistles never discuss, mention, or narrate many/most of the later Synoptic gospel’s events, nor the apparent magnitude of the “resurrection details” which would elaborate later pseudo-trinitarian theology. Again, the distinction between pre-Damascus Road Paul and post-Damascus Road Paul. Why is this so important? Paul’s “theology” is much different than “The Way’s” exegesis and Jesus’ closest original sect-members both outside and later inside Jerusalem. The implications of this divergence (also alluded to in the book of Acts) is critical in deciphering exactly WHO Jesus was and was not… i.e. Jewish Messianism or Paulinian (Arabian?) Messianism? Jesus’ JEWISH heritage, required for later “messianic prophecies,” can never be completely separated from him or our known teachings by him.

    Regarding clarification of my “Greco-Roman-Constantinian” reference, I assumed you knew well ancient history of the region, especially surrounding the formation of your faith and the canonization of your bible. My apologies.

    Judea and Jerusalem, after Persian rule, were ruled by the Greek Empire and Alexander the Great (332 BCE – 140 BCE), hence the Greco reference. It was followed by the Seleucid Empire which fell to Judea’s Hasmonean dynasty — I didn’t bother to note this time-period due to its brievity and insignificance to our purpose here.

    That was followed by the Roman Herodian Tetrarchy in 4 BCE. This was followed by TOTAL provincial rule of Rome and at the time of emperor Augustus in 6 CE. Between the Herodian Tetrarchy and complete domination of Judea-Jerusalem by Rome from the Roman penisula (c. 60 – 75 CE), this timeframe is utterly essential to understand when discussing Messianism! Hence the Roman reference.

    These are the contextual roots that later formed the well-known incessant upheaval, unrest, and Jewish (zealot) rebellions surrounding Jesus’ Jerusalem, and certainly after his death, up through the next two centuries into Emperor Constantine’s rule. Hence, the Constantine reference.

    This leads us/me to the highly misunderstood doctrinal and theological bickering/fighting among non-Diaspora Jews and earliest Christian leaders and followers that ended at the behest of Emperor Constantine’s First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. At Nicaea, some 300-years AFTER the events surrounding Yeshua/Jesus and Paul’s exegesis (which didn’t align with original Jewish Messianism), Constantine and his closest bishops threw out some 35-57(?) testaments & exegetical Yeshua’s/Jesus’ teachings and stories THEY felt, in THEIR time & context, best represented Greco-Roman-Constantinian Christianity, say… as opposed to Gnotic Christianity. This falls completely in line with Roman sociopolitical governing both on the penisula and in their distant provinces. Emperor Constantine followed this long-standing imperial tradition to the tee. Interestingly, he nor his bishops ever had any hint of 1st-century CE Judean culture involving scriptural Messianism, much less first-hand experience or an intimate understanding of Jewish Messianism which Jews fiercly protected from Gentiles. This strongly suggests (factual?) that all involved at the First Council of Nicaea could not have had precise knowledge & understanding of true Jewish Messianism making their canonization process contaminated, suspect at best.

    So finally we get back to my original question for you: offering INDEPENDENT 1st century CE non-Judeo-Christian sources for the corroboration of events in the NT Synoptic gospels. More importantly & specifically the resurrection story, a singular theological foundation of Christianity’s asserted uniqueness.

    In your response you misunderstood, saying:

    …from what I can get at, you want a 1st century source written by a non-Christian substantiating the resurrection of Jesus and the historicity of the Gospels.

    Not simply “non-Christian,” but sources NOT Judeo-Roman, not Judeo-Christian or not Gentile-Christian corroborating the resurrection. There are necessary distinctions and obvious loyalties in authorships. That said, my three distinctions cannot be (understandably) purely impartial to the events surrounding Jesus, the resurrection, and portions of the Synoptic gospels. For example, the brief mention(s) by Josephus regarding the events of the Synoptic gospels and a Christ/Messiah movement — despite that most all antiquity scholars today agree his accounts have been tampered with by the Church — are from a Roman-Jewish bias, thereby making his account(s) DEPENDENT rather than independent. And despite Josephus’ vague closeness to the events, the fact that he says so very little about the events surrounding the newer Messiah-Movement is noteworthy. It suggests the several prior occurences of claims to the Jewish Messiahship, common-place during the time, are not deserving of front-page headlines in Josephus’ account(s). Or to-date any other’s accounts. As a footnote, even a pure Roman-citizen’s account like a Praetor, Consul or Senator would suffice. There are a couple (along with many others much less relevant to the resurrection) that are cited by Christian apologists…

    The Roman senator Tacitus’ reference of a crucifixion of “a Christ” and his references of the ‘New-Movement’ or earliest-Christianity in his Annals (116 CE) helps corroborate 1st-century CE Messianism and a new splinter-movement (Christians) also portrayed in the Synoptic gospels, but it does not corroborate any resurrection stories, a monumental pillar of core Christian theology.

    The historian Thallus’ assumed reference ONLY to Jesus’ crucifixion and splinter-movement (via Eusebius, via Julius Africanus several decades later) is not only an unverifiable third-hand quote, but the timeframe when Thallus wrote the reference is highly debateable and hence unreliable.

    When these non-resurrection accounts are joined with the fact that the earliest/oldest extant full gospel, Mark, inside the Codex Sinaiticus Bible (c. 350 CE) one of four 4th-century codices, also omits the events surrounding Jesus’ resurrection! In other words, one of the oldest complete versions of the FIRST written gospel account of Jesus’ teachings and death… leaves out any sort of resurrection story. Why is this so huge you and others may ask?

    If Paul never mentions any resurrection of Jesus in his epistles — which in theological terms erases divine, miraculous, paranormal qualities that were never part of original Jewish Messianism anyway — and there exists no non-Judeo-Roman, no non-Judeo-Christian, or no non-Gentile-Christian accounts to corroborate the resurrection story in the Synoptic Gospels, this is what is known as bias, not independent corroboration. Which leads me back to the heavy Greco-Roman-Constantinian influences upon sociopolitical and socioreligious practices within the 1st thru 4th-century CE Roman Empire, including the Levant:

    From Alexander the Great to Constantius I, it is a clear & known historical feature of imperial ruling that the Supreme Leader (Caesar in this case) take on Divine qualities, and yes, definitely by 305 CE. This ascension greatly assisted in not only keeping the empire’s masses subjugated, but aided in staving-off would-be usurpers. This strongly suggests WHY a divine resurrection story/myth gained more popularity post-3rd century CE as the Roman Empire began collapsing from within and without, ala the later two empires; seated in Rome & Byzantium-Constantinople.

    I am stopping here because the remainder of your above comment-response was about your “scathing critique” 😉 of my methodology, granted abbreviated, but which is now more extensively answered & explained here. It was followed by several personal conjectures on your part that, for the sake of time and space here, I will bypass.

    I leave you to it SC.

    Liked by 5 people

      • Hahaha. Are you partial to Fidoras? 😉

        If there are two dual themes/points I was trying to convey to SC and anyone else is this:

        1 — original Jewish Messianism is grossly misunderstood today, which is a vital part of Jesus’ background & his biographers. It was gradually hijacked by Greco-Roman-Constantinian ideals, losing its deep Jewish roots.

        2 — The severe lack of corroboration to resurrection stories by independent sources, including even the earliest bibles (e.g. Codex Sinaiticus!) are very serious blows to the core of all Christian-Paulinian theologies.

        Hope that is what is gleaned from my very lengthy explanation & clarification. 😛

        Liked by 3 people

        • Always learn something from your writing.
          Odd that they consider the bible ”Divinely Inspired” and ”God-breathed” yet they eventually slung out Barnabas’ epistle and the Shepherd of Hermes.
          Was Yahweh consulted before the edit, so you think?

          Interesting how the term Jesus the Nazarene is used at the end of Mark rather than Jesus of Nazareth.

          I always find these little details quite telling.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Thank you Ark. Yes, for the sake of reacreating a scene/narrative like forensic investigators & scientists do… and when one forces themself into as close-to-being-right-there a mindset as possible, understanding as many as possible influencing factors onto an event and/or character as is possible, naturally the more accurate the recreated narrative becomes proportionate to that available “pool” of data/info.

          Interesting how the term Jesus the Nazarene is used at the end of Mark rather than Jesus of Nazareth.

          I am so very happy you picked up on that Ark! 😀 As many of us who are less-enamored by the drama of the gospels & NT, it does seem to free-up more cognitive capacities to catch and explore “little details” like that. The NT is peppered throughout with those sort of name, place, group, character ambiguities. Just count the various forms of Mary to get the idea! Hahaha. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        • The NT is peppered throughout with those sort of name, place, group, character ambiguities.

          Ya we know this.
          As our blogpal Mel points out:

          …by normal standards it’s reasonable to say that the text we have is reliable.

          For any given value of normal, of course, then,yes, the bible is as normal as the next book … which just happens to be The Odyssey, and the one after that is The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the one after that is Alice in Wonderland.

          Liked by 1 person

        • You make a valid point there Ark. “Normal” and “reliable” in our case here SHOULD definitely be qualified! Normal by what or whose standard? Reliable by what or whose standard? For me personally, the best “standard” to-date is the cumulative/collective consensus of experts/scholars which is freely open for scrutiny and praise at any time for FURTHER refinement. Yes, this is indeed a relativist’s posture, but I am willing to embrace its hedging-power along with its universal (human) limitations: we can’t possible know ALL dynamics of a given event. But it damn sure beats dictators and tyranny! 😛

          So… I am clearly in disagreement with Mel, based on a much wider range of cumulative/collective consensuses of experts/scholars on this subject. Surprise, surprise, right? 😉

          Liked by 2 people

        • Every core tenet of the Christian religion is based upon presupposition with no verifiable evidence to support a single claim.
          And, besides, science etc refutes most if not all such claims

          And the bible being the primary source for all claims fails at every turn.
          Thus, all that remains is faith.
          And even this flounders when put up against the evidence, for how is it remotely honest to demand some form of special dispensation for their religion when all other religions and their claims are summarily dismissed as fraudulent and fictitious nonsense?

          Liked by 2 people

      • Ark many early Christians considered the Shepherd of Hermas to be inspired. Its exclusion was because a decision was made to restrict the NT to books ‘associated’ with an Apostle.

        Of course subsequently it has been concluded by Scholars that some of the Books supposedly associated with Apostles probably were mistakenly attributed, such as Hebrews and Revelation.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Looks like things can get started here.

      “First and foremost, if you are able to refrain from childish, snide personal remarks/opinions about a stranger’s character and stay on topic (i.e. the veracity of the New Testament – NT), then I gladly accept Nan’s offer to us and everyone here to dialogue with you (here) about the Canonical NT…”

      At last. Since we have to get started some time or later, and since this full debate will be taking place between our blogs, perhaps you’d accept the following debating format;

      Question: Are you Gospels historically reliable? (Scientific Christian: Yes | Professor Taboo: No)

      Taboo: Opening
      SC: Opening
      Taboo: First Rebuttal
      SC: First Rebuttal
      Taboo: Second Rebuttal
      SC: Second Rebuttal
      Taboo: Closing Argument
      SC: Closing Argument

      Any other type of format you’d like? I’m fine going first or second in the debate. Anyways, I totally agree on respecting one another. I’m also fine with Nan’s ‘rules’, so to speak. I’ll start by simply addressing your remarks;

      “In other words, you should agree that Paul’s beliefs drastically changed from pre-Damascus Road to post-Damascus Road, yes? Thus, my additional distinction above.”

      The only view of Paul that changed from before his experience with Jesus on the Damascus road to after is his belief in Jesus and his understanding of the Old Testament, it seems to me.

      “Why is this so important? Paul’s “theology” is much different than “The Way’s” exegesis and Jesus’ closest original sect-members both outside and later inside Jerusalem. ”

      Paul’s interpretation of Jesus and theology was actually identical to that of the original disciples, as we can confirm.

      Galatians 2:6-10 Now from those recognized as important (what they once were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism)—they added nothing to me. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter was for the circumcised, since the one at work in Peter for an apostleship to the circumcised was also at work in me for the Gentiles. When James, Cephas, and John—those recognized as pillars—acknowledged the grace that had been given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to me and Barnabas, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They asked only that we would remember the poor, which I had made every effort to do.

      Paul had relationships with the original followers of Jesus, and he came together with all of them to ensure that the gospel he was preaching was the same as the gospel preached by the pillars of the Church — John, Peter and James. Anyhow, you continue using the word ‘Paulinian’ which is still confusing. As I told you before, the term ‘Paulinian’ is inaccurate, it’s ‘Pauline’. You also misunderstood my criticism of your use of the term ‘Constantinian’ when you said “…2nd and 3rd century CE Greco-Roman-Constantinian “evidence”?” The problem with this phrase is that Constantine became emperor in the 4th century AD, not the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD, as you falsely state. I know I’m nitpicking here on a small error on your part, but you totally misunderstood my criticism and went off the rails trying to explain the full history from Alexander the Great to the end of the 1st century AD.

      “Constantine and his closest bishops threw out some 35-57(?) testaments & exegetical Yeshua’s/Jesus’ teachings and stories THEY felt, in THEIR time & context, best represented Greco-Roman-Constantinian Christianity, say… as opposed to Gnotic Christianity.”

      The depiction of what happened at the Council of Nicaea here is false in every step of the way. Constantine organized the Council of Nicaea but took no part in the actual debates or whatnot. He only gathered the council to try to unify the church and that was his only concern. Secondly, the bishops present were not Constantine’s closest bishops, they were some of the hundreds of top bishops throughout the Roman Empire. Constantine invited some 1,500 bishops overall, but only some 318 attended the council. So, rather than this being an event where Constantine slyly gathers his close bishops to create his secretly create own canon based on his preferences, what really happened was that several hundred bishops were gathered throughout Rome to debate the relationship between the Son and the Father.

      The canon of the New Testament was not discussed at all in the Council of Nicaea. Thus, Constantine and his sneaky bishops couldn’t have thrown out any “35-57(?) testaments & exegetical Yeshua’s/Jesus’ teachings and stories”, since that had nothing to do with their council at the first place. The only thing that came out of the Council of Nicaea was the following creed;

      “We believe…in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten from the Father, only-begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance (homoousios) with the Father, through Whom all things were made….”

      That’s really the only thing that came out of the Council of Nicaea. The canon wasn’t discussed at all, and so your claim that the Council of Nicaea created a “contaminated” canon is incomprehensible at best. Messianism also wasn’t discussed there, which makes your comment even more confusing. What is your source for any of this Nicaea stuff anyways?

      “For example, the brief mention(s) by Josephus regarding the events of the Synoptic gospels and a Christ/Messiah movement — despite that most all antiquity scholars today agree his accounts have been tampered with by the Church — are from a Roman-Jewish bias, thereby making his account(s) DEPENDENT rather than independent.”

      This is a total non-sequitur, “Josephus was a Jew, meaning he was biased towards Christianity (even though he wasn’t a Christian), and thus he was dependent on Christians” — none of this makes any sense whatsoever. Josephus account in Antiquities of the Jews XVIII.3.3 has been tampered with but is partially authentic nonetheless, and Josephus also mentions Jesus in Antiquities of the Jews XX.9.1 anyways, an entirely authentic passage, and even mentions John the Baptist in Antiquities of the Jews XVIII.5.2, another authentic passage. Josephus totally corroborates the Gospels. You then go on to say that Josephus doesn’t talk too much about Jesus much, so he must have thought that messianic claims were commonplace. This is another non-sequitur and doesn’t follow. Besides, historians don’t think messiah-claimaints were commonplace anyway. You then go on to point out that Thallus and Tacitus don’t talk about the resurrection, which is true enough, but it’s important to note I never cited them in the first place.

      Anyways, Mark clearly mentions the resurrection. Even assuming 16:9-20 is a later addition (which has been challenged in recent years), Mark mentions a resurrection. The women enter Jesus’ tomb, find it empty, and then are told by an angel “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.” Jesus also predicts his death and resurrection multiple times in the Gospel of Mark (8:31; 9:31; 10:34; 14:27–28), and tells the disciples that after he rises from the dead, he will go ahead of them to Galilee (14:28), and the disciples are reminded this after they visit the empty tomb by the angel (16:7). Therefore, it is clear that Mark was both fully aware of and mentioned the resurrection of Jesus. The Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John also speak about the resurrection at length.

      “If Paul never mentions any resurrection of Jesus in his epistles — which in theological terms erases divine, miraculous, paranormal qualities that were never part of original Jewish Messianism anyway — and there exists no non-Judeo-Roman, no non-Judeo-Christian, or no non-Gentile-Christian accounts to corroborate the resurrection story in the Synoptic Gospels”

      This just doesn’t work. For one, the gospel accounts corroborate each other — Matthew and Luke used independent resurrection traditions from Mark, and it’s already well-known that John is independent of the Synoptics. Secondly, Paul DOES mention the resurrection — a LOT. It’s all over his epistles. So Paul corroborates the resurrection. Then, you also have the pre-Pauline creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 which dates to a few years, if not months after the death of Jesus, further corroborating the resurrection. We have numerous sources that corroborate this overall thesis.

      Lastly, I need to draw attention back to your methodology. Apparently, you don’t accept any Roman, Christian or Jewish sources. This doesn’t work, because Roman, Christian, and Jewish sources are all valid. This was my scathing critique of your methodology, and you did not defend your (totally unwarranted) claim that such great sources are unusable. Lastly, your response made no mention of the large amount of corroboration for the Gospels I made note of in my previous response.

      Like

      • I have a fairly busy weekend SC, but I will most definitely be responding to this, hopefully this weekend some time.

        Nan, after I do reply (at length) would you be so kind again as to delete this message? Thank you Ma’am. ❤

        Like

      • Regarding the resurrection in the gospels: “For one, the gospel accounts corroborate each other — Matthew and Luke used independent resurrection traditions from Mark, and it’s already well-known that John is independent of the Synoptics.”

        …and those four conflict on the details of the alleged resurrection. If you haven’t run across Dan Barker’s “Easter Challenge” you should take him up on it. What was the sequence of events? Who/how many came to the tomb, whom did they find there (angels or men? how many?) and were they already there or did they appear after they arrived, was the stone already rolled away when they arrived, what did the people do next (whom did they tell), etc.?

        Even some well-known Christian biblical scholars (e.g. Dan Wallace) admit there’s no apparent solution to this. The pieces of these 4 narratives simply do not fit together into a single coherent sequence of events.

        Setting aside independent corroboration of the Bible’s extraordinary claim of Jesus’ resurrection, setting aside claims that the Bible is inspired by God and inerrant, and just looking at whether the gospel accounts of the resurrection are a coherent narrative — that’s a much lower bar to get over, and the Bible can’t manage even that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “…and those four conflict on the details of the alleged resurrection. If you haven’t run across Dan Barker’s “Easter Challenge” you should take him up on it. What was the sequence of events? Who/how many came to the tomb, whom did they find there (angels or men? how many?) and were they already there or did they appear after they arrived, was the stone already rolled away when they arrived, what did the people do next (whom did they tell), etc.?”

          As I’ve indicated elsewhere, recent advances in academia have now understood that many of these ‘contradictions’ are not contradictions at all, rather, they are just differences that arise through the use of literary compositional devices in the Graeco-Roman biography genre of ancient writing.

          Through an understanding of these devices, virtually all supposed resurrection ‘differences’ are immediately solved. Let the author of the recent monograph ‘Why Are There Differences In The Gospels’ (Oxford University Press) himself speak, for example, how many angels were at the tomb;

          Literary spotlighting is when an author mentions only one person performing an action while being aware of several others who are present. Of all the compositional devices I observed being used by Plutarch, literary spotlighting was perhaps the most common.

          There are occasions in the Gospels where literary spotlighting is likely at play. Take the resurrection narratives, for example. In Matthew and Mark, there is one angel at the tomb, whereas there are two in Luke and John. It seems likely to me that Mark, followed by Matthew, is shining his literary spotlight on the angel who announces that Jesus has been raised

          Read the full interview:
          https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2017/06/why-are-there-differences-in-the-gospels-an-interview-with-michael-r-licona/

          Moreover, another supposed problem is whether or not they were men or angels. Some Gospels say that there were men dressed in white, whereas others say there were angels dressed in white. However, white and shining clothing usually denotes heavenly visitation (Mark 9:3; Matt 28:3; John 20:12; Acts 1:10; 10:30), and so even if some Gospel authors used the term ‘men’ instead of ‘angels’, it’s still clear by their reference to this heavenly marker of white/shining clothing that they knew that these were angels. This shoots down some supposed contradictions. I’ll throttle some other of these supposed resurrection differences in my coming responses, but it is important to mention this here;

          1) All of these resurrection differences are regarding peripheral details, not the main subject of the narratives
          2) The differences of peripheral details doesn’t change the fact that the Gospels independently corroborate one another, making the objection anyways

          All four narratives are obviously coherent all together. The evidence supports the resurrection, and the resurrection is for sure corroborated.

          Like

        • Thanks for the pointer to the Licona article. He is clearly knowledgeable in this area, and his 700-page book “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach” has been recommended to me. Hopefully someday I’ll have time to read a book that big and deep.

          Licona apparently caused some controversy when he concluded that the Matt. 27 account of people coming out of the tombs and walking around after Jesus’ death didn’t actually literally happen? I’m not sure what to make of someone who apparently believes the Bible can’t be trusted to be literal history in that case, but totally can be as regards Jesus’ resurrection.

          Thanks also for your replies on apparent contradictions in the Easter accounts between the 4 gospels. I try to read the Bible charitably, and if there’s a reasonable explanation that explains apparent contradictions, I’m usually amenable. So I agree that something like “literary spotlighting” could explain 1 person vs. 2 people, etc.

          I’m not sure that “literary compositional devices” explain all of them, however.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. For Scientific Christian (SC) and continuing discussion above…

    I’m going to abbreviate your last above comments-replies to save time and space. I hope this laborious formatting works. :/ I also hope the web links work correctly too. Apologies in advance if this goes bad. Haha 😛

    You/SC stated last:

    Taboo: Opening
    SC: Opening
    Taboo: First Rebuttal
    SC: First Rebuttal…

    Me/PT:
    I doubt you’d be fine with going first, stopping silent & leave ME with the last/final rebuttal & closing argument. In my 27-years with these sorts of discussions, they rarely follow an exact rigid format like you’ve set out. I could be wrong about you. 😉 That said, it seems then we are already into the second-round(?) before closing arguments, and I’m fine with that.
    ******************************

    You/SC stated last:

    I’ll start by simply addressing your remarks;
    […]
    The only view of Paul that changed…

    Me/PT:
    It seems to me” would be correct. I think there is MUCH MORE to pre-Damascus Road to post-Damascus Road.

    If you choose to gaze through strictly one lens, that of Paul’s own epistles & perhaps selected NT passages about Paul, then your above view is understandable. So be it, that is a mainstream median Christian-preserving posture. However, I do disagree and argue, there are more than one valid, highly plausible-to-plausible collections of sources to gain a broader set of lenses, and hence, a more complete picture of Saul from Tarsus. For instance, the Jewish Encyclopedia (after all, Saul was a Hellenistic Pharisee versus a Hebrew/OT scholar), is one popular, common, reliable biographical source. Paul was also an epileptic, which by the way, in Antiquity most epileptics had frequent seizures. Regarding Paul’s conversion:

    There is possibly a historical kernel to the story related in the Acts (vii. 58-ix. 1-31, xxii. 3-21, xxvi. 10-19), that, while on the road to Damascus, commissioned with the task of exterminating the Christian movement antagonistic to the Temple and the Law (ib. vi. 13), Paul had a vision in which Jesus appeared to him, saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (comp. I Sam. xxvi. 18); that in consequence of this vision he became, with the aid of Ananais, one of the Christian seers, “a chosen vessel unto me [Christ], to bear my name before the Gentiles.” According to the Acts (vii. 58; ix. 2; xxii. 5; xxv. 1, 10-12), Paul was a young man charged by the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem with the execution of Stephen and the seizure of the disciples of Jesus. The statement, however (ib. xxii. 8-9), that, being a zealous observer of the law of the Fathers, “he persecuted the Church unto death,” could have been made only at a time when it was no longer known what a wide difference existed between the Sadducean high priests and elders, who had a vital interest in quelling the Christian movement, and the Pharisees, who had no reason for condemning to death either Jesusor Stephen. In fact, it is derived from the Epistle to the Galatians (i. 13-14), the spuriousness of which has been shown by Bruno Baur, Steck, and most convincingly by Friedrich Maehliss (“Die Unechtheit des Galaterbriefs,” 1891). The same is the case with Phil. iii. 5. Acts xxii. 17-18 speaks of another vision which Paul had while in the Temple, in which Jesus told him to depart from Jerusalem and go with his gospel to the Gentiles. Evidently Paul entertained long before his vision those notions of the Son of God which he afterward expressed; but the identification of his Gnostic Christ with the crucified Jesus of the church he had formerly antagonized was possibly the result of a mental paroxysm experienced in the form of visions.“*

    *[http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13232-saul-of-tarsus]

    Another good source is The Ancient History Encyclopedia:

    However, ‘convert’ [to Christ or Jesus] is not the most accurate term to be applied to [Paul]. Conversion assumes changing from one kind of belief to another. There are two problems with this concept as applied to Paul:

    1) at the time, there was essentially no Christian religion for him to convert to; and
    2) Paul himself is ambiguous when it comes to understanding what he would have considered himself.

    When he says: “When among the gentiles, I acted as a gentile, and when among the Jews, I acted as Jew; I was all things to all men,” doesn’t help us resolve the question. In talking about what happened to Paul, it is probably better to say that he was called by God, in the tradition of the calling of prophets of ancient Israel.“*

    *[http://www.ancient.eu/Paul_the_Apostle/]

    These are just two of many cross-referencing sources. It is not any stretch to decide that Paul’s vision-conversion, for an epileptic, was powerfully dramatic as it is for any epileptic unable to receive modern medical aid/treatment.
    ******************************

    SC:

    Paul’s interpretation of Jesus and theology was actually identical to that of the original disciples, as we can confirm.” […]

    Me:
    You offered just Galatians 2:6-10. In contrast, if one reads further (v.11-16), we determine there was in fact dissension between Paul and at least Peter and Barnabas, and probably other leaders/apostles around Antioch which forced the matters to the Jerusalem Council:

    But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

    What Paul is explaining in verses 14-16 are what the ‘Judiazers’ Stephen, Peter, and James the brother (probably more) are and are not adhering to and misleading churches from the Laws of Moses that Paul (the Hellenist) is opposing. Paul, who never met Jesus face-to-face, in the flesh, never spent any length of time with Jesus during his ministry, is opposing and attempting to correct the “pillars” of the Jesus-Movement, Stephen, Peter, James the brother, and likely more! HAH! Dissension indeed.

    But I want to go even further with this, Acts 6:1 thru 8:4.

    Here we have a clear implication that there were TWO opposing camps: A) Paul’s Hellenistic-Gentile doctrines & theology, versus B) Jesus’ closest disciples, the ‘Judaizers,’ and their doctrines/theology. Acts 15 also corroborates this early rift. Because Paul did not win the arguments against the “pillars,” in anger he backtracks on his ‘expertise’ stating he is independent of any human exegesis, claiming his is thru a paranormal revelation from Jesus in the sky: Galatians 1:1-24. Paul’s hatred for Judaism, and now the ‘Judaizers’ (disciples/apostles) grows larger:

    Romans 2:21-24 — “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.

    Then perhaps his most hateful discourse on Judaism/Judaizers (inclusive of course to maligned disciples/apostles), is Romans 9 thru Romans 11 and slamming Judaism/Judaizers in 9:31. Paul’s antinomianism culminates in Galatians 3.

    For me SC, if anything can be inferred by these additional passages, is that the meaning and purpose of a Greco-Gentile-Christ (Paul’s Christ), with Jewish/Judaizer Messianism and OT Laws, and those two forced into a NT God and all becoming prestinely clear… is looking strictly at Paul through one single small lens while ignoring other NT passages and extraneous related sources.

    You’re correct about the reign of Constantine: you’re being very nitpicky. His reign was 306 to 337 CE. However, what I perhaps didn’t make perfectly clear (syntax, etc) was that the controversy, splintering, dissension amongst disciples, apostles, and eventually Roman bishops over WHO Jesus really was in relation to his Jewish background and teachings, and in relation to God, was vehemently argued from c. 40 CE (post-Pauline conversion) all the way up to c. 370 CE (during his reign), and after the Second Council of Nicaea. Splitting hairs. As the adage might go here, 1 or 2 tree-branches, but missing the forest. 😉
    *******************************

    SC:

    The depiction of what happened at the Council of Nicaea here is false…” […]

    Me:
    I think you are again missing the forest SC by focusing on 2 (personally?) preferred trees.

    To your first two paragraphs there, I ask, How did they know what to discuss about the Son, Father, and composing a Creed? I guarantee you and others here that those small group of bishops gathered at Nicaea (both times) could NOT have discussed with any reliability or progress the relationships between Christ, what “Christ” meant (i.e. Messiah/Christ/Messianism), the relationship between he and God, or condensed the debated points all into a ‘precise’ representation for Roman-Constantinian churches to memorize, learn, and unify. This begs the question: Where was the confusion/controversy coming from, originally? The answer: the many circulating manuscripts/testaments (35-47?) of Jesus’ teachings and then Paul’s contentious Hellenistic “scholarship” of anti-Judaism, i.e. probably why he focused (or was pushed to focus?) on the Gentiles and the Council of Jerusalem (the two most influential there, Peter & James the brother of Jesus) thought Paul would be better received out among the Gentiles than with the Judeo-Christians in the Levant. As we might exclaim today, “Go do your worst/best Saul!” but not here.

    Regarding further my number of 35-47 non-canonical manuscripts, here is a chart-graphic of just the ‘Big Six’ extraneous testaments about Jesus, the apostles, and church theology that are NOT in today’s NT.

    Here’s a portion of testaments/manuscripts NOT listed in the chart-graphic, in chronological order: the Essene letter to Alexandria, Q(uelle), the E-fragments, 1 Clement, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Matthias, Hebrews Gospel, Egyptian Gospel, Ebionite Gospel, Acts of Andrew, the four Apocyrphal Gospels of Judas, Nicodemus, James, and Philip (Coptic), and 2 Clement.

    It’s really no wonder why even 300-YEARS was never sufficient to intimately understand the origins of Christianity, let alone WHO Jesus was and his exact purpose. Ask yourself why and why not.

    Here’s a set of my primary sources or cross-references (not exhaustive) for my current conclusions on this subject:

    The 4th-century CE Canonical Bible (most any version)
    The Bible Through the Ages
    The Catholic Encyclopedia
    The Jewish Encyclopedia
    The Cambridge History of Christianity series

    And of course, I am not the ONLY person who has these conclusions on this subject. 🙂
    ***********************************

    SC:

    This is a total non-sequitur, “Josephus was a Jew, meaning he was biased towards…”
    […]
    “Anyways, Mark clearly mentions…

    Me:
    Non-sequitur? Starting out with our discussion here and given time-parameter constraints on you, me, Nan, and anyone else, I was utilizing some inductive reasoning to convey my questions, premises, and conclusions. I don’t think this VAST subject, covering 2,100+ years of antiquity, history, mystery, myths, gods, and legends can be exhaustively & contextually covered in a very brief debate here. Not at all actually. Besides, I’m doing this for other curious readers; not really looking to “convert” someone to anything. Merely hoping they’ll THINK and think expansively and objectively and decide on their own.

    Correction to you above: Josephus was a Roman citizen AND a Jew. But not just A Jew, but trained/taught by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Essenes (Qumran) of which Jesus and John the Baptist had ties. Hence, the bias when referencing him as a “non-Christian” source to the historicity of Jesus. His accounts MUST be weighed in this light. From the Jewish Encyclopedia – Importance for the Christian Church:

    The works of Josephus were rescued by the Christian Church, for whom, like Philo, the author occupies the rank of a Church father. The “Antiquities” was of importance because it illuminates the history of the New Testament and on account of the few notes which it contains dealing with Christendom. Josephus mentions John the Baptist; James, the brother of Jesus; and Jesus himself (“Ant.” xviii. 3, § 3). In its present form, this passage can not have originated with Josephus (see Jesus). Eusebius (“Hist. Eccl.” iii. 9, § 2) considers Josephus to have been the most learned man of his day [bias]; and Jerome (“Ep. xxii. ad Eustachium”) calls him “the Greek Livy.” [more bias] The Byzantine chroniclers based their writings largely upon Josephus; and his “Antiquities” was taken over into many works (see Hegesippus). It can not be denied that he possessed extraordinary literary talents; and his desire to glorify his people ought not to be accounted to his dishonor. It is true that he was disingenuous in his dealings with his people; but he wrote an exemplary apology for them. He was vain and self-seeking; but he also fought and worked much.

    [http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8905-josephus-flavius#anchor8]

    Josephus corroborates an existence of Jesus, his splinter-Movement, John the Baptist, and James the brother of Jesus, but his accounts are certainly NOT extensive documentaries about Christianity and its major players. And certainly not about any resurrection, the biggest component of Christian theology today that personally I am emphasizing. I think it very unfair/biased for you to say sweepingly “Josephus totally corroborates the Gospels” when that is not at all the general scholarly consensus.* How much of the Gospels are authentic is still very much a heated debate amongst the historical-biblical consensus, not the least of which regards the lack of resurrection stories in the earliest manuscripts.

    *[https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jesus/The-Jewish-religion-in-the-1st-century#toc222994]

    Other Messiah claimants (just prior to & during Josephus’ life & writings) in order from 4 BCE to 135 CE:

    Simon of Peraea, Athronges, Simon Magus, Simon bar Kokhba, Dositheos the Samaritan, and even Vespasian.*

    I think this indicates not only how fervently the 1st & 2nd-century CE Jews sought and yearned for their Messiah, but also shows that many claimed “Messiah” and made the spectacle common-place in Josephus’ time and opinion.

    *[Josephus’ Jewish War 6.312-313]

    In your last paragraph of this section, you’ve missed my point: not ALL the oldest, credible, extant Mark gospels continue beyond verse 8, e.g. Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus (4th century CE), both Codices highly regarded. This is why most credible gospel versions have an asterisk after Mark 16:1-8. Hence, verses 9-20 are LATER additions (after 300 CE) and not 100% reliable. Are there differences between risen, gone, resurrected or “an empty tomb”? See, I do not think it’s clear. And of course the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John are going to include the sociopolitical afterthought because they were written significantly LATER than Mark when the Movement/Church was increasingly divided on theological-doctrinal issues of WHO Jesus really was — and as I’ve alluded to with Paul’s Hellenist-Christ. And again, none of Paul’s epistles mention or discuss the literal resurrection story. Why? His epistles were written well before these two Codices.

    I’m sure you will disagree here with my contrasting viewpoint so we’ll just have to leave it at that.
    ******************************

    SC:

    This just doesn’t work. For one, the gospel accounts…”
    […]
    “Lastly, I need to draw attention back to your methodology. Apparently…

    Me:
    Ahhh, I see now that I initially should’ve clarified better what I meant by “resurrection.” There are many semantic variances with different words in context with different cultures and languages. In my haste and frequent interruptions (work & home) I failed to go far enough into this semantic confusion. My mistake. With informal discussions/debate like these I sometimes forget to explain the differences between empty tomb and resurrection. Most laypersons today don’t distinguish the two terms (as I just did, but) as I believe they have to be. For many today, they have the connotation of being synonyms. I accidentally used them that way. Sorry. In the end, I hope you and everyone else (still) following these dissertations 😉 will see how EASY it is to confuse and misunderstand these idioms as one.

    Grab snacks, a drink, and a recliner. This will take awhile…

    Many words/idioms in English (King James Version or modern) have degrees of variance in meaning, similar to synonyms. This is absolutely true with other languages both extant, near-extinction, or extinct but tangible-fragments and manuscripts have preserved their ancient use. This certainly factors into our discussion here. What “resurrection” means to modern Westerners today, means something slightly-to-entirely different to 2nd century CE peoples in and around the Levant. In ancient Judea, Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin were the four common languages and each of those had dialects based on community cultures. Here’s the pertinent question: does a word/idiom in ANY of those four languages translate PERFECTLY into English? No, not 100% of the time.

    Is risen identical to resurrection? Is raised from the dead identical to empty tomb? Are these four meanings different in English compared to Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic? Here lies the semantic variances that often are lost to or misunderstood by the layperson over time from manuscript translations or transcultural oral-stories. I believe for Paul’s Hellenist Christ, resurrection did not lead to an empty tomb. But as was customary in Jewish burial traditions, a dead body is not left to rot and decay in a tomb/grave. The second burial occurred about a year later (no more) when family members reentered the tomb, carefully took the bones of the deceased (once the flesh had completely decomposed), and placed them in a specially prepared, separate container known as an ossuary (from Latin os, “a bone”). This practice ended by the middle or end of the 3rd century CE. This Jewish burial process is important to keep in mind when reading/interpreting Paul’s epistles concerning resurrection and empty tomb. But we can’t stop here. More distinction is required.

    (apologies to everyone this subject/rebuttal is so damn long, intensive & about to get worse. :/ )

    Let’s consider Maccabean-Hasmonean (Hebrew) “resurrection” to later Hellenistic-Pauline resurrection.

    Mac-Has Rez for Messianic Hope–

    As a matter of fact, resurrection formed part of the Messianic hope (Isa. xxiv. 19; Dan. xii. 2; Enoch, xxv. 5, li. 1, xc. 33; Jubilees, xxiii. 30). Especially were those that died as martyrs in the cause of the Law expected to share in the future glory of Israel (II Macc. vii. 6, 9, 23; Yal?. to Isa. xxvi. 19; Midr. Teh. xvii. 14; Sibyllines, ii. 85). The very term used to express the idea of sharing in the future life is “to inherit the land” (?id. i. 10; Matt. v. 5, after Ps. xxxvii. 11; Sanh. xi. 1, with reference to Isa. lx. 21). The resurrection, therefore, was believed to take place solely in the Holy Land (Pesi?. R. i., after Ps. cxvi. 9 [“the land of the living,” that is, “the land where the dead live again”]; or Gen. R. lxxiv.: Yer. Ket. xii. 35b, with reference to Isa. xlii. 5 [“He giveth breath to the people upon it,” that is, upon the Holy Land only]). Jerusalem alone is the city of which the dead shall blossom forth like grass (Ket. 111b, after Ps. lxxii. 16). Those that are buried elsewhere will therefore be compelled to creep through cavities in the earth until they reach the Holy Land (Pesi?. R. l.c., with reference to Ezek. xxxvii. 13; Ket. 111a).“*

    Mac-Has Rez tradition vs. Jesus–

    The story of the resurrection of Jesus is the natural consequence of the belief of his followers in his miraculous powers as the subduer of Satan. Indeed, it is stated that it was not he alone who arose from the grave, but that many saints arose with him (Matt. xxvii. 52) just as many saints in Jewish folk-lore overcame death (Shab. 55b; Mas. Derek Ere?, i.); and resurrection is the proof of the working of the Holy Spirit (So?ah xv. 15; Cant. R., Introduction, 9; see Resurrection). The disciples and the women who had been his constant companions when he was alive beheld him in their entranced state as partaking of their meals and heard him address to them instruction and argumentation (Matt. xxviii. 9, 18-20; Luke xxiv. 27-49; John xx. 15-xxi. 23). Many apparitions of Jesus after his death were in the course of time related as having taken place during his lifetime. Thus the strange stories of his walking at night as a spirit upon a lake (Matt. xiv. 24-36; Luke ix. 28-36; and parallels), of his transfiguration and conversation with Moses and Elijah (Matt. xvii. 1-13), and others became current in those credulous times when all the Apostles had their visions and direct communications from their master, whom they beheld as “the Son of Man in the clouds” waiting for “his return with myriads of angels” to take possession of this earth. And so it came about that, consciously or unconsciously, the crystallized thought of generations of Essenes and entire chapters taken from their apocalyptic literature (Matt. xxiv.-xxv.) were put into the mouth of Jesus, the acme and the highest type of Essenism.“**

    *[http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12697-resurrection#anchor4]
    **[http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/8616-jesus-of-nazareth#anchor21]

    Hell-Paul Rez 1 Cor. 15:36-42 —

    How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

    So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

    If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

    I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

    Four possible meanings to Paul’s Resurrection doctrine(s):

    1 — The resurrection will leave the body of flesh unstirred, that resurrection involves the creation of a new and different spiritual body, leaving the physical body in the dust.
    2 — The resurrection will not leave the body of flesh unstirred but that resurrection will transform the current body entirely into a spiritual, non-material body that is not located in space and time.
    3 — The resurrection will transform the body into a supernatural, exalted flesh-and-bones body that retains material form.
    4 — The resurrection will bring the body back into the same form of living on Earth as previously. This is a view that is not actually held as a good description for Paul’s doctrine.

    Myself, along with other biblical-Pauline scholars, think #1 best suites Paul’s meaning of resurrection because in all of his attributed epistles he is SILENT about an empty tomb; this silence is more conducive for Judeo-Christians (Judaizers) of the time: it’s a varient of Jewish resurrection. Sadly for the Gentiles though — primarily Greek-Roman — this is HARD to wrap one’s head around! Staying loyal to his “calling to the Gentiles,” and inline with his tempermental bitterness toward Judaism and Judaizers:

    Paul, the Hellenist, however, knowingly or unknowingly, seems to have taken the [Greek-Gentile] heathen cult associations as his pattern while introducing new features into the Church. To him baptism is no longer a symbolic rite suggestive of purification or regeneration, as in Jewish and Judæo-Christian circles (see Baptism), but a mystic rite by which the person that enters the water and emerges again undergoes an actual transformation, dying with Christ to the world of flesh and sin, and rising with him to the world of the spirit, the new life of the resurrection (Rom. vi. 1-10).

    [http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13232-saul-of-tarsus#anchor13]

    But further still and at the very least, all of this shows quite well that a generic resurrection-empty tomb (i.e. no physical body after one year) — a misunderstood idiom which increasingly became a major conflict going forward into the 3rd and 4th centuries CE — was introduced/twisted or revamped in LATER manuscripts/gospels for the swelling Gentile-Christian initiate communities/churches, but convoluting & contaminating the original meaning and purpose of Jewish Messiah. As it was Gentile-Greeks related better to a mystical-divine Christ than a dead Jewish Messiah.

    Nevertheless, IMO, without INDEPENDENT corroboration of a literal, physical body gone from the tomb (empty) — to reiterate: not Judeo-Roman, not Judeo-Christian, and not Gentile-Christian sources — the matter about a LITERAL paranormal resurrection is inconclusive at best. And for a secularist/neutral person not emotionally bound, involved, & influenced by peer or familial pressures or the placebo-effect and/or halo-effect, while also considering that all possible sources to this veracity originate strictly within the NT and Church… cognitively and reasonably, it is not enough (or shouldn’t be enough) to convert to a Hellenistic-Pauline Catholic-Protestant religion purely on the premise of a (confused/confusing) 3rd and 4th century literal, bodily “resurrection” and ascension LEGEND. To emphasize again, this conclusion is aside from a theatrical emotional peer-assimilation or halo-reinforced “faith” effect.

    ⭐ — Final legal clause: there are probably spelling errors, syntax errors, formatting errors, etc., throughout this comment (dissertation?), but I hope they are few and trivial, not detracting from the content. 🙂

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    I hope I’ve helped someone following/reading to EXPAND their knowledge and curiosity rather than confused it or obliterated it. Hahaha. Either way, at least this little (incomplete) debate might inspire someone to research & investigate the history of what we’ve covered with a wide-open mind and from several more qualified as well as available not-so-popular, extraneous, scholarly sources.

    Now then, I believe this is the end of the Second Round and we are to the (short?) Closing Arguments, correct? Since this has been for the benefit (or torture 😛 ) of Nan’s readers, you are welcome SC to give your’s first if you’d like.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Fascinating!
      If Scientific Christian does not respond, be assured that I read it … all. I ate biscuits rather than a sandwich!

      I have never understood how Paul was afforded any credence whatsoever. After all, the disciples walked with The Man for up to three years ( depending on one’s interpretation)
      The Jesus cult already had a following, small maybe, initially led by Jesus of Nazareth himself and then the disciples, so why would the Son of God (sic) suddenly manifest to an epileptic and issue somewhat contradictory instructions after putting so much time and effort with The 12?

      And what the Gehenna was the intrepid Christian(sic) Hunter doing on the Road to Damascus? Had Jerusalem suddenly run out of Jesus Followers? Were James and Pete hiding in Mary’s basement?
      Makes absolutely no sense.

      When one reads the epistles and then Acts it reads as if someone is trying just a tad too hard to convince us of the,bona fides of this bloke, and, I’ll be honest I am not convinced that he was an actual historical figure. Certainly not based on much of Acts which reads like nonsense in many parts.
      And all the famous folk he encountered along the way? Hmmm… and not a single secular reference to this bloke who supposedly studied under Gamaleil.

      Someone wrote the ‘genuine’ epistles – I’ve read that it’s speculated it was Marcion, but even with the ‘genuine’ ones there was apparently a certain amount of cut-and-paste going on.

      And why is there is such major debate about the Resurrection of JC?

      Was the resurrection of smelly old Lazarus not enough of a party trick to be noticed?
      And for this one there were witnesses !

      I think it time some brave publisher puts out a bible with the opening line:

      Once upon a time ….

      Nice one, Prof.

      Liked by 2 people

      • If Scientific Christian does not respond …

        I added this comment to SB’s blog:

        It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that he [SC] seems to have a very high opinion of his intelligent level when it comes to Christianity — which is why he’s so willing to “debate” issues. Problem is, his knowledge level is actually at “kindergarten level” when it comes to true discussion. And like a five-year-old, he’s unable to progress beyond what he thinks he knows.

        Liked by 3 people

      • BISCUITS and not a sam-itch!? 😮 Hahaha. Anyway, thank you Ark.

        I have never understood how Paul was afforded any credence whatsoever. After all, the disciples walked with The Man for up to three years (depending on one’s interpretation)

        My theory on Paul and his epistles “stellar” rise to fame — and I am very happy with this theory after 12+ years of research & counter-referencing — is Roman (Hellenistic) sanctioning and military enforcement (First Jewish-Roman War/Rebellions 66 – 73 CE e.g. Masada), many of the Judeo/Judaizer ties to Jesus’ Essene-Nasorean background (Qumran & Dead Sea Scrolls) were wiped out along with their sect’s specialized teachings. The unforgiving power of Rome and her legions on this time and area CANNOT be overstated! Btw, there’s good, plausible scholarly theories that Paul is/was the leader of the “Sons of Darkness” referred to in the DS Scrolls the Essenes considered apostate. Hence, a number of reasons why the DS Scrolls were hidden so well for so long. For more general info see:

        [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/portrait/essenes.html]

        On the “new” more historical bible you suggest, I’d certainly by several copies! 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        • For Ark —

          I get the impression you believe Paul/Saul was a genuine historical character?
          What’s your take on the Marcion inference and how do you see Acts?

          I take it your question also refers to this portion of your previous comment(?)…

          Someone wrote the ‘genuine’ epistles – I’ve read that it’s speculated it was Marcion, but even with the ‘genuine’ ones there was apparently a certain amount of cut-and-paste going on.

          And why is there such major debate about the Resurrection of JC?

          First, regarding Paul/Saul as a genuine historical character. For the sake of political-religious respect & tolerance face-to-face, I am indifferent about his physical existence or non-existence. I will engage in thorough discussions about Paul with anyone — seems to always be one group: Fundy-Evangy Christians — as his significant part/character in the NT. In the context of the NT and Paul’s exegesis of Jesus portrayed in the gospels, you cannot avoid him, obviously. I/we MUST deal with the character Paul at the persistence (to put it mildly) of Christian apologists using languages, idioms, and concepts THEY understand, but for me with the additional expanded knowledge of…

          1) his imposed/intrusive Hellenist-Christ-Theology template onto a clearly Jewish Messianism he first despised and never really reconciled, if at all
          2) his (or the 3rd-4th century Church Father’s) neglect (ignorance?) of Jesus’ FULL background (today coming increasingly to light the last century-and-a-half) in association to the context of unrest, rebellion, and splintering of several Jewish sects in and around 1st-century Jerusalem over Messianism, and keeping in mind that it is very significant that Paul NEVER actually met Jesus in person or spent any time with Jesus on his reformation travels,
          3) modern Christians and some apologists have a very narrow shallow understanding of the origins of Paul’s Hellenist (Christ) Messianism and subsequent theology, e.g. historical & modern Jewish scholars and rabbis attribution of Greek Mysticism inside Paul’s Christ, and
          4) other non-canonical non-Hellenist manuscripts (e.g. Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran) give a much improved context of Jesus’ world than the NT and Christians are aware(?) of, don’t understand(?), or are in complete denial of those manuscript’s indisputable relevance.

          These four basic extensions are crucial and cannot be ignored. Therefore, reading my brief comments or dissertations on this subject, it MIGHT appear I consider Paul a real historical character. Not the case. I’m forced to deal with himby Christians, like it or not. Plus, there’s the small yet helpful thingy of my 3.5 years of education in a Christian seminary learning their “language.” 😉

          Regarding Marcion and your inference in relation to the authorship of Acts of the Apostles, this is a GREAT question/inference Ark! In the late 2nd century CE, Marcion of Sinope was NOT a widely popular early-Church Father! I’ll try to touch on a key point or two as to why and inline with Nan’s post.

          Here’s a quote to start with from one of my primary sources, The Bible Through the Ages, covering the 2nd century debates, dissensions, apostacies, and heretically classified manuscripts and teachings that were spreading along with “The Good News” Paul helped germinate:

          “Marcion’s Rejection of the Hebrew [Old Testament] Bible — Ultimately, the church began to specify its authoritative sources, in part as a reaction to the views of a man named Marcion. […] …sometime in the late 130’s [he] began to reconstruct the Christian message to conform to his own gnosticizing views. Most significantly he broke from tradition by repudiating the Hebrew Scriptures, claiming that they were inspired by an inferior, even wicked God. For Marcion, the Old Testament was entirely overriden and made irrelevant by the spiritual teaching of Jesus. Eventually Marcion founded his own church and developed a canon of texts.“

          Ark, here is where plausibly Marcion at least influenced a manuscript telling a story/actions of the Apostles… not unlike what many non-Catholic churches today have done and ever since the late 2nd century CE. The quote continues…

          Because of his gnostic denial of Jesus’ humanity, Marcion’s canon included only an edited version of Luke and excised from Paul’s letters any mention of Jesus’ incarnation or suffering. Marcion’s absolute rejection of Hebrew tradition assured his retention of texts such as Galatians that supported his claim that Christianity superseded Judaism. Marcion’s views were widely popular and his canon prompted the church to examine its need to establish a canon of its own.

          But when the 3rd and 4th centuries rolled around, Marcion’s canon was utterly rejected, see my above table “Canonical Debate” under sub-header “Marcion” and his accepted & rejected books. More directly to the authorship of Acts, no name(s) is given as the author. It is traditionally attributed to Luke, but this cannot be proven and no sources for the content of Acts are known…

          …but in three passages (Acts: 16:10-17; 20:5–21:18; and 27:1–28:16) the narrative inexplicably switches from third-person to first.

          And unlike the gospel of Luke, Acts is so much about the dramatic power of the Holy Spirit, the book could easily be renamed The Acts of the Holy Spirit, or perhaps Freaky Paranormal Happenings At and After Pentecost. 😛 I will mention this, I do see some thematic crossover between Marcionic-Gnosticism and that of Mysticism/holy spirit(s) in Acts.

          And finally, why “such major debate about the Resurrection of JC?” Do you mean debate in 2nd- and 3rd century CE Judea-Jerusalem-Rome, or today?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Excellent! Thanks. I get your angel on Paul. Yes, I see how you are forced to approach it in this fashion.
          While on Paul ….If I may.
          What’s your take n the fact he ( I beleive) never mentioned the word Hell (as Christians have been indoctrinated to believe) in any discourse throughout the Epistles or in Acts?

          My ref: to the Resurrection was why so much focus on the unwitnessed resurrection of JC ( yes, I know the dogmatic reason .. lol ) as opposed to the witnessed resurrection of Lazarus.
          If there was a case to piddle on the Cornflakes of Christians surely this was a peach? Yet there is no mention of it anywhere? It simply HAS to be Fox News Fake.

          Liked by 2 people

        • What’s your take on the fact he (I believe) never mentioned the word Hell (as Christians have been indoctrinated to believe) in any discourse throughout the Epistles or in Acts?

          First, you have here a good case in philology, delving into the elusiveness of cultural languages between various peoples, and attempting to manufacture a “purest of pure” golden NEW contextual language. That is difficult to do, if not near impossible. Primates are very, very stingy with their perceived group/tribal uniqueness and customs; they don’t feel the same height of worth and value against another group/tribe if nothing sets them apart. 😉

          Second, one can NEVER separate completely original Judaism from Judeo-Christianity (Judaizers) or Pauline-Hellenist-Christianity. In trying so, one greatly dilutes cultural contexts resulting in a maligned, amputated, perplexed (divinely mysterious?) religion.

          And third, “Hell” is an Anglo-Saxon (450 – 1066 CE) Medieval word and connotation (concept?) that means something different than “Ge’enna,” the ancient Greek word, or “Ge Hinnom” the very ancient Hebrew word. The Greek and Hebrew forms and their context represents a place and rite of passage, The Valley of Hinnom, where king’s literally sacrificed their own children by fire to appease Moloch (Joshua 15:8; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 2:23; 7 31-32; 19:2-6, 13-14) also a lake of fire (Matthew 5:22 & 18:9). Reference too:

          [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-cult-of-moloch]

          Therefore, without going into another dissertation (HAH! Right.), the philology should be sorted out and understood when or before reading/interpreting the final 4th-century CE — or is it the King James (medieval) Version? 😛 — epistles attributed to Paul. At the time Paul was preaching his Hellenistic-Messianism and writing his letters out to his patroned churches-synagogues, the concepts of Ge’enna and Ge Hinnom had changed again.

          That said, me personally, I think Paul, like in Matthew for example, was speaking of a literal-mystical Sheol/Hades lake of fire — for those aware of the Judeo-Hellenist-Christian concepts of course — to be punished for their “inappropriate” conduct. But I think it ridiculous to assume that people over on the continent of North or South America would be punished the same way in a similar, identical firey lake for the same sins.

          Liked by 2 people

        • I know about Gehenna and the way the redactors and scribes had a field day when it came to translations:
          ”Oh, Egbert, why dost thou vex me with such trifles, boy! Just put Hell for goodness’ sake. These bunch of goat defilers will never know the difference, by Zeus, and by the time they can read, Jesus will have returned.”
          ”Yes, Master. Er …who’s Jesus, Master? Ow!!! That hurt, Master!”

          But did Paul even use any of the popular words Translated naturally, Sheol, Hades, Gehenna?

          Or were his flowery orations merely allusions to what would happen if people were naughty? Or was he even aware of an eternal naughty place?

          Liked by 2 people

        • “But did Paul even use any of the popular words Translated naturally, Sheol, Hades, Gehenna?“

          Hahaha! Damn, you are trying to corner me, aren’t you!? 😉

          According to the (reliable? unreliable?) final 4th-century canonical Aramaic-Hebrew-to-Greek translated versions done by many 2nd, and 3rd generation Church Fathers of Paul’s attributed epistles, also wanting to set themselves distincly APART from all of Judaism… sure. The spelling of the words was fairly correct. 😛

          But backing away from that one microscopic lens and examing the entire laboratory of various equipment and additional afterlife evidence, some/much of it ongoing (e.g. neuroscience, Quantum physics), I think personally Paul had diagnosable psychotic episodes complicated by his epilepsy.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Hahaha… I’m not folding Ark. 😉 Just need to get out to my storage unit and dig-out my Greek-to-English Concordance of the NT — not used in about 8-10 years! — and answer you EXTREMELY specifically… as you deserve… in 110-degree heat… as you deserve… and rehydrate extensively upon entering a cool bath… as I would then deserve… so that I am not mentally incapacitated when I give you your deserved answer. 😛 Would that be alright, please? LOL

          Liked by 2 people

        • Finally done with reverifying the occurences of the exact word “hell” or hints of it in the Jewish Tanakh and into ANY of Paul’s epistles. This is an exhaustive list as far as I’m concerned with the 1st thru 4th century CE Greek words Ge’enna, Hades, a connotation of decision/judgment, and/or verbs “casting into” a torturous state… from my one Hebrew-to-English concordance/lexicon of the Tanakh then to my four different Greek-to-English concordances/lexicons. Note there is no Aramaic (a language Jesus spoke fluently as well) included in this list which might prove to be significant.

          The results:

          Ge’enna — 12 Occurences, none by Paul.

          Hades — 10 Occurences, none by Paul.

          Decision/Judgment — 48 Occurences, by Paul(?)… only 1 Tim 5:24:

          The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.” — NASB

          Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.” — KJV

          Cast into — 1 Occurence, not by Paul

          Liability Clause — if I have missed any words/passages, my apologies. Blame heat-exhaustion and Ark. We may then examine those missed words (by Paul?) in their expanded context and determine their inclusive-value here. Thank you.

          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

          (these next 2 paragraphs are primarily conveyed to a general audience Ark, not at all insinuating brain capacities or to question your good powers of deduction & inference — quite the contrary there 🙂 )

          What is inferred here Ark from my answers, or as you or anyone might discover through their OWN further philological research, and as I have learned from my extensive studies of this specific part/area of Antiquity, is the (great?) difficulty interpreting words and context from 3-4 different languages from a time between 8 BCE to 400 CE, with their likely context and meaning, then moving these interpretations in and out of 1-10 centuries (give or take) of a Roman region/province certainly embroiled in never-ending unrest, conflict, death, and EXTINCTION into an increasingly Hellenized Greek culture/language… and finally into a King James Version many centuries later and lastly into our modern languages.

          This begs the questions TODAY, is it honestly realistic for modern Christian apologists OR non-Christian skeptics alike, to expect 100% pure interpretive accuracy? Not in the least! Degrees of accuracy? Sure, but adjoined with inconclusives too. But infallibility? Hardcore monism? Harsh binary fundamentalism? NO. Those are mental conditions one finds in psych-wards or the fields of therapy or North Korea or areas with Sharia law. 😛 But humor aside, those personality-types are out there, everywhere in some places, and they are why I am typically VERY indifferent to Christian apologetics. FCA’s usually find it impossible to budge one iota from their granite-hardened modern(?) beliefs and perceptions based in a highly antiquated ideology and time. Until physicists and Quantum engineers invent safe, time-traveling machines, it is my personal opinion that there will NEVER be a method of pure, unadulterated, factual narratives from the far-distant past, especially 1st century CE Judea! HAH! 😛

          That said, what I’ve provided you above should help, I hope, yes? 😀 😉

          I’m curious and can’t remember, why have you pushed for this clarification?

          Liked by 1 person

        • The epistles precede the gospels.
          They are the earliest christian(sic) texts.
          Paul like Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew .
          As neither of these characters mention anything about eternal torment and damnation then where the Gehenna do the likes of Scientific Christian, Mel, Wally and every other indoctrinated Christian half-wit come with the idea of an eternal Hell?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Forgot to mention this the other day Ark, Nan, anyone…
          Read a good article in this month’s Smithsonian Magazine (of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.) by Clive Thompson entitled “The Whole World in Your HandsAre high-tech maps ruining our sense of direction… or giving us a new awareness of where we are?” Here’s the link to it:

          [http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/brief-history-maps-180963685/]

          I’m going to insert for the word map the word “narrative” into the article-quote I especially liked, and a bit appropriate for the topics here:

          No [narrative] entirely tells the truth. There’s always some distortion, some point-of-view.

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      • “While on Paul ….If I may.
        What’s your take n the fact he ( I beleive) never mentioned the word Hell (as Christians have been indoctrinated to believe) in any discourse throughout the Epistles or in Acts?”

        ? The word ‘hell’ is of 8th century origin, and therefore the reason why Paul doesn’t use the word ‘hell’ is because it didn’t yet exist at the time. Paul does say this though;

        Romans 2:6-8: He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and anger to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth while obeying unrighteousness.

        Romans 9:22: And what if God, wanting to display his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath prepared for destruction?

        That should settle that.

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        • “But nothing about eternal torture”

          Romans 2:6-8: He will repay each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and anger to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth while obeying unrighteousness.

          Romans 9:22: And what if God, wanting to display his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath prepared for destruction?

          Keywords: ‘eternal’, ‘wrath’, ‘destruction, ‘that settles it’

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        • The phrase was ”eternal torture”.
          And neither Saul of Tarsus nor the Lake Tiberius pedestrian used the term.

          And THAT settles it, you ignorant little Dipshit.

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        • “The phrase was ”eternal torture”.”

          The request for a certain phrase is totally arbitrary. Let’s get to the bottom of this. Do you think Paul believed in eternal life and eternal hell?

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    • Professor, it is so very readily apparent that you know your stuff! Research and reading does that for you, doesn’t it?

      What’s especially frustrating is that (as a general rule) Christians know only what comes from the pulpit, Sunday School classes, and (occasionally if they have any interest at all beyond the first two) Christian apologists. Few go anywhere near the scholarly works that truly delve into the history of the times and people and how this knowledge affects a true understanding of their faith. Yet they will endlessly “debate” with individuals like yourself and expect to sway you to “their side.” SMH

      I have to admit, however, that it wasn’t until I began to see the fallacies of the faith that I began the research that resulted in my book. So perhaps others must reach that point as well before they are able to break free from these sophisms.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Hello again, Taboo. I’ll begin by quoting you because you misunderstood my debate challenge;

      I doubt you’d be fine with going first, stopping silent & leave ME with the last/final rebuttal & closing argument. In my 27-years with these sorts of discussions, they rarely follow an exact rigid format like you’ve set out. I could be wrong about you. 😉 That said, it seems then we are already into the second-round(?) before closing arguments, and I’m fine with that.

      No! I did not mean a debate through some comment section — I meant that I, first (or you, it matters not who begins) post an opening argument defending the historical reliability of the Gospels on my own blog, and then you provide, on your own blog, an opening argument defending the thesis that the Gospels do not possess historical reliability. Then, I post a rebuttal on my blog, and then you post a rebuttal on your blog, etc. In that way, we can maintain an organized discourse that others will be able to go over if they so please, rather than a discourse between you and me wasted in the long comment sections of Nan’s blog. What we’re doing now is different, our discussion has already went completely off track from the main issue anyhow.

      The Jewish Encyclopedia and Ancient History Encyclopedia are good sources for understanding the basics of a subject, however, they’re hardly scholarly sources. I, myself, have published an article on Ancient History Encyclopedia (hereafter AHE). I totally reject the baselessly asserted notion that Paul was an epileptic, and furthermore, the AHE author that asserted that Paul didn’t really convert to Christianity is out of his mind. These two encyclopedias, as well as the Catholic Encyclopedia and book The Bible through the ages that you go on to cite, are all useless.

      As I noted in my previous response, the theology of Paul was identical to the theology of the pillars of the Church, John, Peter, and James, as demonstrated by Galatians 2:6-10. That’s that, their theology is in harmony. You try to draw attention to Galatians 2:11-16 where Paul rebukes Peter and then perform several exegetical backflips to try to identify some sort of different gospel between the Christians.

      In Galatians 2, we see Peter eating with the Christian Gentiles, but as the Jewish Christians start entering, Peter becomes hypocritical and stops eating with the Gentiles and starts only eating with the Jews, basically caving in. The Jews separate themselves from the Gentiles, essentially creating two divided groups of Christians during eating (Gentiles and Jews). Paul quickly realizes what’s going on and rebukes Peter for distorting the gospel and acting as a hypocrite. During the later Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), Peter says this;

      “Brothers and sisters, you are aware that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the gospel message and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he also did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now then, why are you testing God by putting a yoke on the disciples’ necks that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus in the same way they are.”

      Then, James goes on to say this;

      “Brothers and sisters, listen to me. Simeon has reported how God first intervened to take from the Gentiles a people for his name. And the words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written: “After these things I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again, so the rest of humanity may seek the Lord—even all the Gentiles who are called by my name—declares the Lord who makes these things known from long ago.”

      In Galatians 2, we see that there is some sort of hypocrisy towards the gospel going on with the Judaizers, however, the advent of the Jerusalem Council put a permanent end to this problem where we see all the pillars coming together, including Paul, Barnabas, and the others, and all conform on their view of the Gentiles. Therefore, the theology of Paul is identical to that of the pillars (including Peter and James as seen), and all the Jerusalem Council demonstrated this (as well as that it demonstrated Peter responded to Paul’s rebuke, since Peter defends Paul in the Jerusalem Council).

      “To your first two paragraphs there, I ask, How did they know what to discuss about the Son, Father, and composing a Creed? I guarantee you and others here that those small group of bishops gathered at Nicaea (both times) could NOT have discussed with any reliability or progress the relationships between Christ, what “Christ” meant (i.e. Messiah/Christ/Messianism), the relationship between he and God, or condensed the debated points all into a ‘precise’ representation for Roman-Constantinian churches to memorize, learn, and unify. This begs the question: Where was the confusion/controversy coming from, originally? The answer: the many circulating manuscripts/testaments (35-47?) of Jesus’ teachings and then Paul’s contentious Hellenistic “scholarship” of anti-Judaism, i.e. probably why he focused (or was pushed to focus?) on the Gentiles and the Council of Jerusalem (the two most influential there, Peter & James the brother of Jesus) thought Paul would be better received out among the Gentiles than with the Judeo-Christians in the Levant. As we might exclaim today, “Go do your worst/best Saul!” but not here.”

      Again, none of this is true. The Council of Nicaea is well-documented, and nothing comprehensibly similar to what you describe occurred. The creed, twenty principles, and letter that came as a result of the 318 gathering bishops at the Council can be viewed here;
      http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3801.htm

      The Council of Nicaea had nothing to do with the 35-47 “testaments” you allude to, nor did they discuss the messianic advent of Jesus. The following masterful video perfectly documents what happened at the Council of Nicaea;

      You move on back to your claim regarding some “35-47 testaments” — as your own diagram illustrates, virtually every apocryphal work was almost unanimously rejected by the early Christians, and other apocryphal texts (like the Gospel of the Hebrews and Gospel of Thomas) were so adamantly rejected that they didn’t even acquire a mention on the diagram. But the diagram is clearly totally incomplete because it omits the canons of early Christians like Clement of Rome who also demonstrate great acceptance of a number of New Testament canonical books. Then, the diagram includes people like Marcion, a complete heretic. Excluding Marcion, notwithstanding the other problems of your diagram, it shows that only a single book of the New Testament was ever once considered non-canonical (Hebrews) by a single author (Tertullian), and also shows the apocryphal works were overwhelmingly rejected and ignored.

      As for Josephus, again, Josephus was not a Christian and hence was not biased towards Christianity. Josephus corroborates John the Baptist (as well as a number of particular Gospel details about him), that Jesus had a brother named James, and that Jesus was championed by his followers as the Messiah.

      “Other Messiah claimants (just prior to & during Josephus’ life & writings) in order from 4 BCE to 135 CE: Simon of Peraea, Athronges, Simon Magus, Simon bar Kokhba, Dositheos the Samaritan, and even Vespasian… I think this indicates not only how fervently the 1st & 2nd-century CE Jews sought and yearned for their Messiah, but also shows that many claimed “Messiah” and made the spectacle common-place in Josephus’ time and opinion.”

      This list easily demonstrates just how rare claiming to be the Messiah was. From 4 BC to 135 AD, a span of almost a century and a half, only six recorded people ever claimed to be the Messiah besides Jesus. In other words, one person every two decades. This is amazingly rare, there were twice as many Roman emperors between 4 BC to 135 AD than there were messiah claimants.

      In your last paragraph of this section, you’ve missed my point: not ALL the oldest, credible, extant Mark gospels continue beyond verse 8, e.g. Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus (4th century CE), both Codices highly regarded. This is why most credible gospel versions have an asterisk after Mark 16:1-8. Hence, verses 9-20 are LATER additions (after 300 CE) and not 100% reliable. Are there differences between risen, gone, resurrected or “an empty tomb”? See, I do not think it’s clear. And of course the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John are going to include the sociopolitical afterthought because they were written significantly LATER than Mark when the Movement/Church was increasingly divided on theological-doctrinal issues of WHO Jesus really was — and as I’ve alluded to with Paul’s Hellenist-Christ. And again, none of Paul’s epistles mention or discuss the literal resurrection story. Why? His epistles were written well before these two Codices.

      As I’ve demonstrated in my previous response, even if one accepts that vv. 9-20 are later additions to Mark’s Gospel (which, again, has been challenged in recent years), Mark still clearly mentions a resurrection. As I noted earlier in our discussion:

      The women enter Jesus’ tomb, find it empty, and then are told by an angel “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.” Jesus also predicts his death and resurrection multiple times in the Gospel of Mark (8:31; 9:31; 10:34; 14:27–28), and tells the disciples that after he rises from the dead, he will go ahead of them to Galilee (14:28), and the disciples are reminded this after they visit the empty tomb by the angel (16:7). Therefore, it is clear that Mark was both fully aware of and mentioned the resurrection of Jesus.

      As for Paul’s epistles, they clearly endlessly discuss the resurrection. Just take a look at 1 Corinthians 15. You say that Paul doesn’t mention a “literal resurrection”, but just read the Greek text of 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul uses Greek terms like ἀνάστασις (anastasis) and ἐγείρω (egeiró) to reference Jesus’ resurrection, Greek terms that only apply to physical bodies getting out of a tomb and coming back to life (see embedded links to their Greek definitions). The idea of spiritual resurrection in the Pauline epistles is increasingly rejected in academia because 1) It contradicts the concept of resurrection in ancient Jewish, pagan, Greek, Roman thought, etc, 2) Clearly is incompatible with what Paul tells us, and 3) Contradicts the very Greek terms used by Paul to refer to Jesus’ resurrection. We have tons of corroborating sources for the resurrection, a bunch of Gospels, Paul’s letters, and then the early creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 dating to a few years if not months of the crucifixion of Jesus. You go on to claim that Paul doesn’t mention an empty tomb, however, Paul explicitly implies the existence of such an empty tomb where Paul says, about the body of Jesus, “that he was buried, that he was raised” (1 Cor. 15:4), and even more recently, the journal New Testament Studies published an excellent paper titled ‘Resurrection in Paganism and the Question of an Empty Tomb in 1 Corinthians 15’ by John Granger Cook, demonstrating that Paul could not have even believed that Jesus had been raised, lest he believed there was an empty tomb. Again, this claim about spiritual resurrection in Paul’s epistles is a dying breed among scholars, the latest and most extensive literature on the subject rightfully rejects this notion that is totally incompatible with all our evidence.

      In conclusion for all of the points aforementioned; 1) Paul’s theology is the same as those of the pillars, 2) The Council of Nicaea did not do anything remotely similar as you describe, 3) Mark’s Gospel clearly has a resurrection, and 4) Paul mentions the physical resurrection and his epistles necessitate that there was an empty tomb.

      Likewise, we’ve also seen that Josephus corroborate some details of the Gospels, the independent traditions throughout the Gospels corroborate each other, as well as further resurrection corroboration by both Paul and the early Pauline creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7. Furthermore, archaeology clearly corroborates the Gospels as well. Just two decades ago, scholars tried to claim that synagogues didn’t exist in Palestine before 70 AD and so the Gospels were wrong when they mention Jesus preaching in Galilean synagogues, however, we have now found several pre-70 AD synagogues throughout Palestine (such as the one in Magdala). There is also an emerging relationship between the Gospel of John and archaeology in particular that I mentioned before. In 2008, Richard Bauckham demonstrated that the ratio of names found in the Gospels amazingly correlates to the historical ratios of names throughout Palestine in Jesus’ time, further showing that wherever we can historically test the Gospels, they come out accurate (interestingly, the second century apocryphal works have no such correlation, showing this is not just any sort of coincidence but demonstrative of valid history writing). The only possible conclusion given all our knowledge is that the Gospels are historically reliable, as acknowledged by many historians.

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      • SC — your comment went into moderation because of too many links. Suggest you try the Professor’s method in future dissertations.

        BTW, your suggestion to have a discussion “between blogs” is ridiculous. That’s like having one person talking about a subject in one room and another person in another room offering his/her rebuttal. People are not going to go “back and forth” between rooms to listen/read what someone has to say.

        I’ve offered my blog for the discussion. If you don’t want to use it, fine. Go post your stuff on your blog, but I can pretty much guarantee none of my followers are going to visit there to read what you have to say.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Calm down Nan, I’m more than grateful for you letting us use your blog. I suggested the blog discourse so we can document our posts for further looking back. I didn’t mean to sound abrasive in my post if that’s what happened. However, I do take issue with this;

          It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that he [SC] seems to have a very high opinion of his intelligent level when it comes to Christianity — which is why he’s so willing to “debate” issues. Problem is, his knowledge level is actually at “kindergarten level” when it comes to true discussion. And like a five-year-old, he’s unable to progress beyond what he thinks he knows.

          Kindergarten level? That’s an interesting one — I’ve published a professional article on the worlds most widely read historical encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia (a source that Professor Taboo tries to cite as rather authoritative in his previous reply to me). I can’t say the same about everyone else here, though, a number of people seemingly trying to attack my credibility. I’ve extensively read scholarly literature on the issues I discuss as well, hopefully, I’ve demonstrated that at this point. These ad hominems do not help two different sides meaningfully discussing and advancing an issue, it is totally counter-productive.

          Anyhow, if you’re interested, I’ve written my most recent blog post challenging the idea that an eternity of destruction in the afterlife isn’t in the Old Testament. I believe I’ve submitted enough evidence to defend myself on that front.

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        • Let me explain my comment — to me, your remarks are “kindergarten” level because you repeatedly refer to scripture to defend your position. This is far from a position of scholarly standing and becomes apparent to me (and I believe others as well) that you have little else to defend the reliability of the New Testament than bible contents. For example, in your most recent counter comment to the Professor, you repeatedly referenced Galatians to “prove your point.”

          You simply cannot use the bible to prove the bible (or its reliability) in a serious debate.

          Liked by 4 people

        • “Let me explain my comment — to me, your remarks are “kindergarten” level because you repeatedly refer to scripture to defend your position.”

          This is totally not characteristic of my arguments. I’m simply citing the historical method and applying it to our 1) biblical texts 2) non-biblical texts and 3) archaeology. If you have any critique about any specific argument of mine that you think I acted at ‘kindergarten level’ — bring it to my attention, and we can discuss it and see if I went wrong. I’m always looking for new insights to fine-tune my arguments to get them as solid as possible.

          So, taking that into consideration, quote my exact words where I “use the bible to prove the bible” and I’ll retract my argument. But I don’t think I did this and I’m pretty careful when I make my arguments.

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        • Quotes from your response to the Professor:

          1. As I noted in my previous response, the theology of Paul was identical to the theology of the pillars of the Church, John, Peter, and James, as demonstrated by Galatians 2:6-10.

          2.In Galatians 2, we see Peter eating with the Christian Gentiles

          3. During the later Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), Peter says this …

          4. In Galatians 2, we see that there is some sort of hypocrisy

          5. Mark still clearly mentions a resurrection …

          6. Jesus also predicts his death and resurrection multiple times in the Gospel of Mark (8:31; 9:31; 10:34; 14:27–28)

          7. As for Paul’s epistles, they clearly endlessly discuss the resurrection. Just take a look at 1 Corinthians 15.

          Liked by 2 people

        • It looks as if you might have missed the particulars of my discussion — in every single example you reference aside from 1, they can all be dismissed. Why? Because Taboo brought up 2-7, not me.

          2-4: Taboo brought up Paul’s issues with Peter and used these references as his source. Thus, I was simply replying to how he used the biblical sources and demonstrated that his arguments from Galatians 2 and Acts 15 don’t stack up to repudiate that Paul’s theology was identical to the theology of the Church pillars.

          5-6. Again, Taboo tried to claim that Mark doesn’t mention a resurrection — I was simply showing that Mark does mention a resurrection. He brouoght this one up, not me.

          7. Taboo of course, also brought this one up. He claimed Paul doesn’t mention a literal resurrection, I showed that Paul does mention a literal resurrection.

          Points 2-7 is simply me showing Taboo’s use of the New Testament documents doesn’t stack up to validate his arguments. You can read my response in full to see exactly how I dispatch his use of these sources.

          1. This is the only time I quoted one of Paul’s epistles to actually demonstrate something. Taboo initially claimed that Paul’s theology contradicted that of the other Church pillars, so I demonstrated that Paul mentions that he met up with all the disciples and made sure his gospel was in harmony with theirs. This is Paul simply telling us about some things he did — I’m not aware of any historian who thinks that the events in Galatians 2 didn’t happen. Ehrman dates the events of Galatians 2 about 2-3 years after the crucifixion. I’m not trying to prove any resurrection or Christian doctrine with this text, I’m simply showing that Paul himself took to ensuring his gospel was in harmony with the gospel of the Christian leaders (disciples of Jesus).

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        • SC, so this is your Bio at Ancient History Encyclopedia? …

          I’m a 6’3 tall Canadian from Syria, pretty religious dude, indebted to many acquintances and professionals for my current understanding of ancient history (especially that of the ancient near east, my favorite type!), and, although have not put history into my professional career, have been thankful for the many academics that have helped me develop an, at least basic understanding of the past that I’d hopefully be able to hold up when taking to a real professor in this field. I also run a blog on theology!

          Also, is it up-to-date and current? Thanks.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I believe I’ve submitted enough evidence to defend myself on that front. Sorry to disappoint, but far from it. You continually use scripture to defend scripture … and then you add in your personal interpretation. Sorry, but the only people you’re going to “convince” are other believers — especially those who don’t know enough to dispute your statements.

          Liked by 2 people

        • The claim that I’m arguing in a circle needs substantiation, otherwise there’s no reason for me to take seriously your accusations. This is the second time in a row now that you’ve outright made a negative assertion about my argumentation that you haven’t backed up. Show me where this happened, and then we’ll see whether or not I really argued in a circle. Can you do this? The clock is ticking.

          Like

        • Yeah, that bio is up-to-date so far as I’m concerned. Anyhow, I thought I already did give my final response. I’ll entirely let you make the following choice; either you can have the last response in your next reply, or you can make another response and then I’ll give the final response. Totally your choice. All on you.

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        • Ah, ok. I’m being halfway funny (unserious) here about your ironic or uncanny last name! Did you know about Saint Issa in ancient India-Hindu-Buddhist history? If not, here’s a starting point, if interested of course. I had a brief (respectful) chuckle when I read your bio. 😉

          Jesus’ Lost Years May Finally Have Been Found

          [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-davids/jesus-lost-years-may-fina_b_179513.html]

          I will not have time to formulate my Closing Remarks/Argument tonight; again, too busy. I might have a chance tomorrow, but it is more likely to be Tuesday, July 18th when I can draft & post. Fyi.

          Regards to you SC.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “Ah, ok. I’m being halfway funny (unserious) here about your ironic or uncanny last name! Did you know about Saint Issa in ancient India-Hindu-Buddhist history? If not, here’s a starting point, if interested of course. I had a brief (respectful) chuckle when I read your bio. 😉”

          Ah, my brother, but there’s something else. As my bio notes, I’m from Syria — as in I’m Arab. I can speak some Arabic, too. In Arabic, ‘Isa’ is the English equivalent of ‘Jesus’. Check out the etymology on that one. My last name is ‘Issa’ — I wonder where that came from? I’m Christian in the blood my friend.

          As for Jesus being in India sometime from his age 12-30… It’s conceivable, but I think the best solution is to simply say that Huffington Post writer might be out of his mind.

          Anyhow, thanks again. But I didn’t get your response — do you want to have the very final response, or am I going to do that after you give your next response? Again, as I said in my last comment, it’s all your choice.

          Regards to you to Prof.

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        • Just to politely clarify SC…

          As I stated at the very beginning, I was merely half-joking with the designation, albeit completely fictional, not precise, and used as pseudo-parody and humor; that’s all. And yes, I was not insinuating you are from India and I’m aware of the many contrasts between India and Syria, not just literal geographical distance. I am aware of the different spellings too; wasn’t meaning to change or confuse your family name. I just thought it strangely funny. 😉

          …but I think the best solution is to simply say that Huffington Post writer might be out of his mind.

          Well, seeing that ALL humans are subject to forms & degrees of psychosis at any given time under any given circumstances, that assertion MIGHT be true, however highly remote your guess might be. I’ll give you that. But did you read Mr. Paul Davids’ biography & credentials? I’ll go WAY OUT on a limb here, but the man obviously has stellar CV/dossier, that’s for damn sure! A graduate of Princeton University. Nonetheless, I was only mentioning the irony (near irony) of 3-4 letters of Saint Isa/Issa and you. It was NOT intended to be an erudite connection. 😛

          Regarding Final/Closing remarks/argument, as I said above in my previous reply-comment, I cannot do mine until tomorrow, but most likely Tuesday, July 18th. If you don’t care to wait until then with your’s, you are certainly welcome to proceed, or “bust-a-move” as they say in the inner-city American hoods. 😉

          Good night SC.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “As I stated at the very beginning, I was merely half-joking with the designation, albeit completely fictional, not precise, and used as pseudo-parody and humor; that’s all. And yes, I was not insinuating you are from India and I’m aware of the many contrasts between India and Syria, not just literal geographical distance. I am aware of the different spellings too; wasn’t meaning to change or confuse your family name. I just thought it strangely funny. 😉”

          ? I never took it that way — I just saw that you were making a connection that came to your mind between two familiar terms. No problem dude! But the only way I can forgive you is if you tell me how to insert emojis into my comments!

          Anyways, good night. I’ll wait till your next response, I’m busy myself until 4pm the next few days. Anyhow, I will give Paul credit for his CV.

          Like

        • But the only way I can forgive you is if you tell me how to insert emojis into my comments!

          Hahaha, that was funny SC (applause). Here ya go, my link to WordPress emojis:

          [https://en.support.wordpress.com/emoji/]

          But I’ve seen some WP-users use much more extensive emojis that I have not found/discovered. Continue searching.

          Final g’night SC.

          Like

      • Hahahaha! 😛 Thank you kindly Sir, but I STILL will not eat figgy-pudding with you atop Maracanã stadium when Brasil or Fluminence play no matter how well you flatter me! NO.

        However, if you buy me season tickets… that’s another story. hehe 😉

        Liked by 2 people

        • If one is also given to all my aforementioned teachers and mentors, then I’ll consider it. 😉

          As I stated here earlier a few days ago, I am indifferent when it comes to this subject and all related to it. In my many world travels, meeting all sorts of cultures and social systems, etc, then comparing them to MY home state and country, particularly the bible-belt South, people EVERYWHERE no matter color, nationality, or creed… will ALWAYS (e.g. 7 out of 10 times) will do exactly what they themselves want to do based on how it benefits them or hurts them, short-term, mid-term, and as far as they can humanly imagine… long-term. That’s firmly established in human DNA going back 100,000 or 160,000 years! LOL 😛

          However, if someone genuinely wants to know, with the affect of intense curiosity, asking tons of questions THEN LISTENS, quietly…
          I’ll go with them to the ends of the Earth, no accolades required. ❤

          But thank you kindly Robert.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you Nan. ❤ I have to also give due credit to my under-grad years at a Christian college and those bible, history, and philosophy professors, then my 3.5 years at Reformed Theological Seminary (Jax, MS) and those acclaimed professors of Divinity, etc., my years as a deacon and Single's Ministry at Presbyterian churches along with oogles of informal, home bible-studies for my Xian knowledge and formal exegetical experience & training. Since then (1990), everything has been self-teaching with 4 different post-grad courses in applicable areas of this subject. So see… I certainly cannot take all the credit.

    Nonetheless, similar to you, all of this hard work and study and discussing/debating have paid off many many times with ex-Christians disillusioned by… well, many wrong things, behavior, doctrines, theology, and hypocricy that I've helped FIND their liberation from Total Depravity taught by the canonical Bible, churches, ministers/priests (etc), and actually EMPOWERED them to become more whole, tolerant, loving human beings. Like a ‘human-family’ homecoming! 😉

    I can relate with you Nan and empathize. So very happy you’re another arrival into our Earthling human-family!!! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  10. My Closing Remarks/Arguments between myself and Scientific Christian —

    As our discussion/debate centered on three topics:

    1) the veracity or reliability of the New Testament, in particular the “Resurrection” (or empty tomb) accounts,

    2) the reliability or veracity of the Apostle Paul’s authentic Epistles/exegesis of the Gospel stories regarding Jesus as we have them today 2,000+ years later in the NT Canon, and

    3) my primary contention of #1 and #2 not having extraneous or fully INDEPENDENT unbiased corroboration for many/much of the stories and teachings as found in the canonical Gospels

    My final conclusion is that at minimum the NT (as a whole) is unnecessarily difficult to sort out and fully comprehend for any average modern person who is NOT a combined PhD professional in:

    Philology (and by default modern linguistics)
    Archaeology
    History
    Anthropology
    Theology (or Eschatology & biblical Hermeneutics) and…
    A creative-to-very-creative Imagination.

    And at most the NT (as a whole) is better untangled and more discernable for someone today with combined PhD’s in:

    Philology… with Anthology
    Archaeology… with Romanization of the Mediterranean & Judaism of the Levant
    History… with Sociology & Chronology
    Anthropology… with applied Psychology
    Theology… with applied Ecclesiology, Eschatology & biblical Hermeneutics of Judaism, Messianism, Sectarianism & Paulianism

    Thaumaturgy… with Metaphysics and…
    Time… Lots of it. An unbelievable amount of time in your life!

    Why this minimum-maximum constrast? Glad you asked! 😉

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Dilution, Convolution, Contamination —
    Along with the #3 topic in my intro above, the approximate 27 books and epistles of the NT attempt to narrate a Jewish splinter-movement, its progression — after its leader was prematurely executed — followed by its successor’s attempts to keep the teachings/concepts alive and valid (as was possible or impossible) under severe OPPRESSIVE Roman laws and intolerance, over a 400-year period, AND keep it all accurate. Monumental task, but simply not possible. And it gets worse, MUCH worse.

    Chronology —
    What compounds the difficulty and confusion of this 400-year drama called the New Testament is that the approximate 27 books are not sequenced in order by date-written, they give sketchy inferred time-windows, or fail to designate an exact author(s), but are arranged in such a way to “tell a particular version of a story!” These four factors can NEVER be precisely confirmed today about the original narrative of events with 100% certainty, primarily because the Roman Empire and her efficient military machine was a violent, destructive, intolerant empire to her enemies/rebels throughout its whole existence. The consequences of such a form of governing and subjugation means MANY people die — along with their “stories” and legacy — and many artifacts (like scrolls, papyrus, jars, tablets, libraries, etc.) get destroyed, lost forever. Those items “hidden” exceptionally well from Rome may never be recovered. Yet, millions of Christians readily accept the jumbled order of the NT drama not asking anywhere NEAR enough questions.

    Oil and Water, Bouncers and Nitroglycerin —
    Roman anniliation also caused the smaller, less known Jewish ascetic groups — living outside of Jerusalem & opposed to Romanized Hellenized Jewish sects, e.g. Qumran & Masada — to be (almost) erased from history. ‘United you/we stand, but divided — like the 1st century Jewish sects were — you/we fall.‘ And so as the adage goes, “The victors always write history.” Rome’s better bigger legions, including their Hellenized Gentile associates from powder-keg Judea, write their approved version of history. Why? Because the opposition is either dead, scattered, or culturally-politically assimilated.

    In the case of our NT (surviving) characters discussed here between c. 33 CE (Jesus’ death) and the Jewish Wars/Rebellions to c. 75 CE, very few of the ascetic Jewish sects outside Jerusalem (ala Masada, Qumran and any others not Hellenist like Jesus and John the Baptist; cousins), survived long enough to “preserve” THEIR authentic teachings. Those who did not survive would have been the people who knew very intimately the meaning and purpose of Messiah and Jewish Messianism. Like oil in water, Jewish Messianism DID NOT MIX with Hellenistic Mysticism. Period. They still don’t today in their original forms and contexts. Thus, incompatibility severely compounded the 400-year drama problems even more.

    The residual effects of these three additional compounding conditions upon the roots and infancy of the NT can now be evidenced by the number of splinter-denominations first in the early-Church, then the Medieval-Catholic church, Eastern Empire churches, Anglican churches, and finally the endless number of Protestant churches. There’s essentially only ONE or TWO sources for such wide-spread distortion, fragmentation and disunity of Jesus’ original reformations. Pick your poison:

    1) Rome and Hellenization (the victors)

    2) The practical extinction of correct (pure) Jewish-Jesus Messianism of which Paul (and his epileptic ego?) completely tweaked, contorted, and/or overhauled from its original purpose and form.

    I believe if anyone following these comments and discussion from day one, or those who later review and read previous comments down to my and SC’s closing remarks, can at the very least recognize they should ask more questions, a TON of questions not only from your current trusted sources, but wisely from INDEPENDENT sources not related in anyway to a or your own Christian church. Asking many questions from many sources, experts, and points-of-view I think you’ll be surprised, maybe astounded, about what you’ve ASSUMED was true (by orthodoxy), told to you or taught at face-value. It is not the whole story or picture, especially about true Jewish Messianism relative to Jesus. The fact that there was even a necessary canonization process covering 300-years speaks (a Library of Congress) volumes!

    Think about this: traditionally, Paul’s attributed epistles (and influence on modern Christian theology) make-up over approximately 44% of the NT, making him by individual author-comparisons ‘Majority Owner.’ And keep in mind that Paul — according to the canonical NT — NEVER met Jesus in person or spent any time with him during his real life. Consider those major implications! Paul’s only authoritative source was first his ONE private paranormal “vision” coupled with his estrangement and dissension with the closest disciples/apostles to Jesus… the “pillars” successors of Jesus’ teachings who were the Jerusalem Council. And how much time exactly did Paul spend with them as a silent student? How much do you really know about the members of the Jerusalem Council? The New Testament will NOT provide you much information, and worse still, much less INDEPENDENT information. The 400-year drama called the NT is HEAVILY one-sided in its own 4th-century CE (not 1st-century!) box.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Regarding SC’s forthcoming Closing Remarks/Argument, I let him have the last words. Therefore, I will let everyone and anyone here respond to his closing. However, should someone want to specifically ask me questions (besides SC) about what I’ve stated here, I’m happy to respond.

    Thank you very much Nan for hosting this discussion! This has been interesting to say the least. ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • You’re most welcome — and thank you for such a very well thought-out discussion/debate with an abundance of references and credits.

      It would seem (to me, at least) that anyone reading this and being a true seeker would be motivated to do their own research to verify (or deny) what you have put forth.

      Thank YOU, Professor, for taking the time and energy to participate. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hello again, Taboo. Taboo very nicely gave me the last word, and I must give him credit for his detailed arguments (which I think are totally wrong). Once more, the debate regards the reliability of the New Testament (and the Gospels in particular), as well as the veracity of our early Christian resurrection sources. So,

      Think about this: traditionally, Paul’s attributed epistles (and influence on modern Christian theology) make-up over approximately 44% of the NT, making him by individual author-comparisons ‘Majority Owner.’ And keep in mind that Paul — according to the canonical NT — NEVER met Jesus in person or spent any time with him during his real life. Consider those major implications! Paul’s only authoritative source was first his ONE private paranormal “vision” coupled with his estrangement and dissension with the closest disciples/apostles to Jesus… the “pillars” successors of Jesus’ teachings who were the Jerusalem Council. And how much time exactly did Paul spend with them as a silent student? How much do you really know about the members of the Jerusalem Council? The New Testament will NOT provide you much information, and worse still, much less INDEPENDENT information. The 400-year drama called the NT is HEAVILY one-sided in its own 4th-century CE (not 1st-century!) box.

      Paul’s letters actually don’t make up 44% of the New Testament, they make up 44% of the books of the New Testament. The following source records the number of words per New Testament book;
      [http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/NT-Statistics-Greek.htm]

      Accordingly, there are more than 138,000 words in the entire New Testament, but only over 32,000 of them come from Paul’s letters — meaning that Paul’s letters make up less than a fourth (or 25%) of the entire New Testament, smaller than the 44% you claimed.

      Secondly, Paul’s source was not only limited to his appearance of Jesus, Paul obviously had numerous other sources as well. For example, we know that he was associated with early disciples like Peter, John, and James and that he made sure his gospel was in harmony with their own, and we know that Paul made us of many early creeds dating to within a few years if not months after the crucifixion of Jesus (including 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Phillipians 2:6-11, Romans 1:2-5, Romans 10:9, etc), which are all different sources Paul used. These sources are early and go back to the original Jerusalem apostles. They’re good, they provide us with means of corroborating our New Testament accounts (Gospels included). We can have confidence in Paul’s letters.

      Along with the #3 topic in my intro above, the approximate 27 books and epistles of the NT attempt to narrate a Jewish splinter-movement, its progression — after its leader was prematurely executed — followed by its successor’s attempts to keep the teachings/concepts alive and valid (as was possible or impossible) under severe OPPRESSIVE Roman laws and intolerance, over a 400-year period, AND keep it all accurate. Monumental task, but simply not possible. And it gets worse, MUCH worse.

      You go on to claim that Rome’s oppressive laws and persecution of the early Christians would make it not possible to keep all their accounts accurate over a “400-year period”. But the Christians totally didn’t need to keep it all accurate for a 400-year period. Seriously, the time between Jesus’ crucifixion (30 AD) and the earliest complete manuscript of the New Testament (Codex Vaticanus 300 AD) including the legalization of Christianity in Rome (325 AD) is only about 300 years in the first place, not the (amazingly curious) figure Taboo gives us of 400. Furthermore, the New Testament was composed in the first century AD, meaning that the Christians had to keep all of it accurate for upwards 60 years before we know they’d had it written, and after it’s written, preserving it becomes a lot easier as all the Christians would need to do is simply keep copying their manuscripts. And we know that the Christians did a great job at copying their manuscripts. Bart Ehrman himself admits, “The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.” Despite the large number of variants in our tens of thousands of Greek, Roman, Latin, Aramaic (etc) New Testament manuscripts, textual critics can resolve the vast majority of them to get a good understanding of what the original writers initially wrote to us. See;

      Therefore, the claim that Christians keeping the New Testament accurate is not “possible” simply has nothing to do with what we know from the extant historical record.

      Therefore, as we’ve seen, there is absolutely no strong argument challening the reliability of the New Testament and what we have to support this, such as the following that I’ve recounted elsewhere;

      As for Josephus, again, Josephus was not a Christian and hence was not biased towards Christianity. Josephus corroborates John the Baptist (as well as a number of particular Gospel details about him), that Jesus had a brother named James, and that Jesus was championed by his followers as the Messiah.
      Likewise, we’ve also seen that Josephus corroborate some details of the Gospels, the independent traditions throughout the Gospels corroborate each other, as well as further resurrection corroboration by both Paul and the early Pauline creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7. Furthermore, archaeology clearly corroborates the Gospels as well. Just two decades ago, scholars tried to claim that synagogues didn’t exist in Palestine before 70 AD and so the Gospels were wrong when they mention Jesus preaching in Galilean synagogues, however, we have now found several pre-70 AD synagogues throughout Palestine (such as the one in Magdala). There is also an emerging relationship between the Gospel of John and archaeology in particular that I mentioned before. In 2008, Richard Bauckham demonstrated that the ratio of names found in the Gospels amazingly correlates to the historical ratios of names throughout Palestine in Jesus’ time, further showing that wherever we can historically test the Gospels, they come out accurate (interestingly, the second century apocryphal works have no such correlation, showing this is not just any sort of coincidence but demonstrative of valid history writing). The only possible conclusion given all our knowledge is that the Gospels are historically reliable, as acknowledged by many historians.

      And as for the resurrection, we yet again find ourselves with an abundance of accounts that are both independent, early, and corroborate each other. All four Gospels record the resurrection using different sources (hence their resurrection accounts are independent), and so they all corroborate each other within only 30-60 years of Jesus’ death. Taboo originally tried to claim Mark doesn’t record the resurrection if you don’t include vv. 16:9-20 in Mark’s Gospel, but vv.16:6-7 clearly and explicitly mention Jesus’ resurrection after the women enter the tomb to find it empty, and furthermore, Jesus’ predicts his own resurrection in Mark many times (8:31; 9:31; 10:34; 14:27–28) and so we can say with certainty that Mark records the resurrection. Taboo tried to challenge the resurrection accounts in Paul elsewhere, but I think the words I wrote in my previous response (which Taboo didn’t bother to defend himself from) say enough on this issue;

      As for Paul’s epistles, they clearly endlessly discuss the resurrection. Just take a look at 1 Corinthians 15. You say that Paul doesn’t mention a “literal resurrection”, but just read the Greek text of 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul uses Greek terms like ἀνάστασις (anastasis) and ἐγείρω (egeiró) to reference Jesus’ resurrection, Greek terms that only apply to physical bodies getting out of a tomb and coming back to life (see embedded links to their Greek definitions). The idea of spiritual resurrection in the Pauline epistles is increasingly rejected in academia because 1) It contradicts the concept of resurrection in ancient Jewish, pagan, Greek, Roman thought, etc, 2) Clearly is incompatible with what Paul tells us, and 3) Contradicts the very Greek terms used by Paul to refer to Jesus’ resurrection. We have tons of corroborating sources for the resurrection, a bunch of Gospels, Paul’s letters, and then the early creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 dating to a few years if not months of the crucifixion of Jesus. You go on to claim that Paul doesn’t mention an empty tomb, however, Paul explicitly implies the existence of such an empty tomb where Paul says, about the body of Jesus, “that he was buried, that he was raised” (1 Cor. 15:4), and even more recently, the journal New Testament Studies published an excellent paper titled ‘Resurrection in Paganism and the Question of an Empty Tomb in 1 Corinthians 15’ by John Granger Cook, demonstrating that Paul could not have even believed that Jesus had been raised, lest he believed there was an empty tomb. Again, this claim about spiritual resurrection in Paul’s epistles is a dying breed among scholars, the latest and most extensive literature on the subject rightfully rejects this notion that is totally incompatible with all our evidence.

      Therefore, I think we can conclude given our evidence that 1) There is not any good reason to think that the Gospels aren’t reliable, 2) There are good reasons to think that the Gospels are reliable, and lastly, 3) We have tons of independent sources originating from a plethora of early Christian authors describing and corroborating different aspects of the historical resurrection. I don’t see how Taboo’s arguments, many of them which include errors such as his reconstruction of what happened at the Council of Nicaea and his claims about how much of the New Testament is Paul, can challenge this. Taboo told us that what we have in the New Testament is the result of the “winners” of the (supposed) early Christian battles, but he just didn’t give us any reasons besides his own words to believe that. As was said by my opponent, ask questions. But don’t just ask questions, ask questions about your questions. Don’t just look at the skeptical case, read the scholarly rebuttal as well.

      *********************************************************
      Thanks to all readers, Nan for hosting this discussion, and Professor Taboo for engaing in this long and thorough discourse with me.

      I’d love to do this again with anyone, and I’ll, of course, respond to any questions anyone may have for me, Taboo included.
      -Scientific Christian

      Like

      • **quick note** When I wrote “including the legalization of Christianity in Rome (325 AD)” — I actually meant 313 AD. It looks like my mind jumbled the date of the Council of Nicaea with the date of the Edict of Milan. Could this be fixed Nan? (and if you do fix that also delete this comment)

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  11. According to the bio of one, Scientific Christian ….

    “I’m a 6’3 tall Canadian from Syria, *pretty religious dude,

    *my emphasis.

    How pretty is debatable. Not my cup of tea. But if SC is linked to Grindr, I did here about this hot,long haired carpenter who’s to die for. He might be just the type of guy to get nailed? He’s Jewish, though? I hope that’s not a problem?

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  12. @ Scientific Christian

    reliable
    rɪˈlʌɪəb(ə)l/
    adjective
    1.
    consistently good in quality or performance; able to be trusted.
    “a reliable source of information”
    synonyms: dependable, good, well founded, well grounded, authentic, definitive, attested, valid, genuine, from the horse’s mouth, sound, true;

    Of these (minimal) New Testament events listed below one would reasonably expect to find at least some mention within independent sources especially as we are dealing with the birth, life and death of the Creator of the Universe, Therefore, please list any independent source that corroborates some or all of the following:

    The Three Wise Men and the Wandering Star
    Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents
    Feeding of the 5000
    Feeding of the 4000
    Resurrection of Lazarus
    Mention of the life and deaths of any of the 12 disciples, including corroborating independent testimony.
    Paul’s missions, including his arrest and deportation to Rome.

    Please note. We are discussing the biblical character, the miracle working, Jesus of Nazareth , and not an itinerant eschatological 1st century rabbi who may have been called Yeshua.
    Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. OK. For the most part, any “serious” debate/discussion on the reliability of the new testament ended up being between The Professor and Scientific Christian (a misnomer if I ever heard one). And since both have presented their POVs and closing remarks, I’m going to close comments on this topic.

    However, since I would love to hear SC’s response to Ark’s last entry, I’m going to open a new post with this as the leading question.

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Comments are closed.