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Author Topic: Slipping Down the Slope
seekingprometheus
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Btw, I'm actually not a conspiracy theorist just because I mention that the two principal authors of the NT are known to be close cohorts who never actually knew Jesus, and weren't part of his inner circle.

I'm not even deviating from the traditional interpretation.

And I'm not suggesting that there was an actual plot to impose an Orphic narrative on the Jesus story, just that this is what seems to have happened. All that seems clear to me about Paul is that he was the ruthlessly ambitious zealot which he appears to have been.

The memes that got shuffled together are clearly all mixed up, and I wouldn't suppose that single individuals were as instrumental in determining what ended up getting attributed to them as the attributors would have us believe. What is attributed to Paul is just as much a product of centuries of churn as what is attributed to other authors.

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:
If you want a list of every gospel reference to Jesus claiming divine power, claiming the power to save and damn or claiming exclusive status as the Son of God I can provide them. Do you want that? Again it will take a day to put it together but I can provide it.

LOL. The question is DO YOU want to provide them? LOL. Or should I just take your word since you have a BA in Religion. [Smile]

Sure, put it together and provide it. I'm talking about difinitive claims of divine status as the son of God. Not talking about Messiahdom, or powers possibly granted by God to any old prophet. Was it Elijah who called down fire to consume the altar before the worshippers of Baal? Moses could part seas and bring water out of rock.

Then, cross reference these claims of divinity with appearances to large crowds, rather then to close inner circles, or before Sanhedral inquiries.

The last clause is impossible and takes us back to the imposibilty of saying anything difinitively about Jesus unless one has accepted to proposition that the gospels have authority.

If we were discussing stem cell research and you said you had a degree in biology I'd respect that. Show me the same courtesy.

My offer was legitimate and I don't apprecriate your response.

[ April 26, 2012, 10:54 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Btw, I'm actually not a conspiracy theorist just because I mention that the two principal authors of the NT are known to be close cohorts who never actually knew Jesus, and weren't part of his inner circle.
And the skepticism is fine. If you're not a believer there's no reason not to be skeptical. Just don't start cherry picking those same writings to prove Jesus agrees with you. If you're skeptical of the New Testament's validity fine, but that's it, don't start arguing the parts you like are valid at least other than by coincidence.
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:

If we were discussing stem cell research and you said you had a degree in biology I'd respect that. Show me the same courtesy.

My offer was legitimate and I don't apprecriate your response.

[Smile] I didn't mean to rankle you, VL. Of course I respect that you have a degree in Religion. But quite honestly, I respected you, and your opinions on the subject, before you told me that you had a degree in Religion.

If my humor came across as discourteous then I apologise. [Smile] I detest rudeness, but I find that I am not above a little jab at flaunted authority now and then. I assure you that I am more then likely the number 1 supporter of "authoritariansim", if you understand my meaning, that exists on this forum.

I would like to take up your original offer but at this point I think that our little foray together should come to an end, for now. Hakuna Matata.

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
Grant:

Personally, I don't subscribe to the idea that any of the New Testament text reflects what was actually said by the supposed authors.


? You mean the entire NT? I don't think you're referring to the epistles. You mean the characters in the gospels and in acts right? Not the authors, because the authors, the evangalists, were not actually in the gospels or in acts.

Believing that the gospels actually reflect what was independently written by the individuals to whom they are traditionally ascribed requires that one accepts, for example, that decades after Jesus died, the authors independently remembered Jesus' words virtually verbatim, and that they independently decided to record virtually the exact same narrative as each other--so much so that three of the four gospels are actually referenced in terms of being of the "same point of view."

So your evidence that the gospels are primarily fabricated is that the synoptic gospels... are too similar. Quite honestly I would think that their similiarities would be proof to the contrary. The beatitudes for instance, are a part of all three, but not perfectly similar. If Jesus did teach something like the beatitutudes, would it not make sense, that even 40 years after his death, or ascension, that his followers would recall some of the things that he said? Bear in mind, that in the intervening 40 years, all they have been doing is going around and telling stories about Jesus, starting from when? 40 days after his purported ascension, right?

I imagine there are some people on this forum that could remember some of the discussions they had on the forum many years ago. They may not remember it verbatum, but I bet they could make a pretty good recall. And these are not people that have spent the time inbetween doing nothing but telling stories of their discussions on the forum.

I think that the similarities between the three synoptic gospels are just as easily explained because that is what might actually have happened, or that is essentially what Jesus actually said.

Not only is such a reading uncritical to the point of delusion, it's actually willfully ignorant--it's an established historical fact that Roman authorities arbitrarily decided what to attribute authoritatively to the authors--hundreds of years after they died.

Uncritical to the point of delusion.. and wilfully ignorant. Sounds like Christians to me.

The story grew to become what it became in the old-school style--through centuries of rumors and arguments, until Rome arrogated the right to decide what had happened (which, surprisingly enough, left everyone in terror for their souls if they didn't do everything Roman officials told them to do), and then Rome tried (pretty successfully) to purge everything else that contradicted the version which--as everyone knows--is just what they themselves chose.


Well, that is what the Romans did. That is what they were best at and what their vision of civilization was. Unity and order... under Rome.


I have no idea what motivated Paul, it's just clear that the text that remains has far more to do with what he taught than whatever Jesus was really all about.

Then you're going to have to show me that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, John, and the non-pauline epistles, were all influenced by Paul. Because the text of those remain, and if Paul's teachings differed from Jesus's, then you need to show that Paul somehow influenced all those writers to present HIS version of Jesus rather then Jesus's version of Jesus. You know, I really can't see how you can say that "it's just clear", when I can't see it at all.

Even in the Pauline-flavored text, it's the difference between loving God and your neighbor, while helping the weak (and rejecting the hypocrisy of religious authority), and worrying about saving our souls which have been damned in a metaphysical battle of good and evil.

I think you are misatributing these supposedly negative conceptions of Christianity to Paul, when it seems to me that it was Augustine who really cracked open that box, Thomas Aquinas who solidified it, and Martin Luther who was obsessed by it. Really, alot of Christians don't go running around talking or worrying about being saved either. Just the ones you see the most on television do that.

The books were edited together by Romans, who simply and obviously selected (and edited) texts that supported the doctrines of the Roman dude, who arrogated unto himself the right to explain what Jesus meant in the first place.

The "roman dude" is Paul? Don't all evangalists or missionaries or priests abbrogate unto themselves the right to explain what Jesus meant? Isn't that what authors of revisionist history do every day? Isn't that what you are kinda doing? You're saying that Jesus did not mean this or that, but that is was made up by Paul.

None of this is actually a secret, but the plebes of the world have failed to look at history critically, and the highest authorities have done everything possible to enforce a specific historical interpretation of what happened.

See, when you say stuff like "plebes of the world", it makes you sound arrogant. I have to admit though that I like the way it sounds, and have no problem with a certain amount of cockiness [Smile] Yes, I'm well aware that "the highest authorities" have enforced specific historical interpretations over the past 2000 years, those dastardly dastards. That's what you do when you try to fight the idea of subjectivism. Confine debate to the inner circle, so that the outer circle does not begin to flake away, with everyone deciding on their own what is the truth.

...

It's worth mentioning that Orpheus isn't the son of God who overcame death in Orphism--he's just the messenger, the oracle who perfected the harmony of the divine strings, and taught the mystic truths to mankind.

And, btw, in my reading, Orpheus and Pythagoras are actually one and the same.

It's not actually a coincidence that Paul's teachings seem to come straight out of schools derived from Platonic thought (evolved, of course, over a few hundred years), or that Roman authority reified a decidedly Platonic metaphysics of of divinity--the ideas trace pretty clearly straight back to the Ionians (not the Hebrews) because Paul was an educated Roman.

Orphism and Pythagoreanism did not derive from Platonism. Maybe you are referring to other schools of thought. And I don't think that Platonism derived anything from Orphism or Pythagoreanism. I'm not sure of what Platonic metaphysics concerning diety you are referring to, could you specify?
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seekingprometheus
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quote:
? You mean the entire NT? I don't think you're referring to the epistles. You mean the characters in the gospels and in acts right? Not the authors, because the authors, the evangalists, were not actually in the gospels or in acts.
Yes, I'm referring to the entire text, but specifically to the attribution of the text.

I don't see any valid reason for believing that the texts of the various books were actually authored by the individuals to whom the texts are traditionally attributed. Why do we assume that the gospel of Mark accurately reflects what Mark may have written?

(Not a trick question--there is an answer: it's because a bunch of Romans declared that it was so.)
quote:
So your evidence that the gospels are primarily fabricated is that the synoptic gospels... are too similar.
First: I'm not actually supplying evidence--I'm applying critical thinking to the textual evidence (which, historically, is not only considered very rude, but for hundreds of years it was very much not allowed--and such cultural patterns of contraint retain inertia, as is in actual evidence in this thread [Wink] ).

But yes--I'm suggesting that it strains credulity that multiple authors would independently produce documents from their own memories of long-past sermons that feature the exact same sets of words, and feature narratives of identical sets of events.

This could be explained by the authors themselves discussing the events and coming to a general consensus as to what happened and what was said, but I can't see any valid reason to dismiss the probability that the folks who were choosing (and editing) the texts that were chosen wouldn't have had something to do with it--and this latter is certainly the simplest explanation for the remarkable confluence.

(And it is beyond remarkable, just so it's clear. The complexity of an entire ministry was condensed into narratives often containing virtually identical semantics and syntax--to a level that is either literally miraculous, or expressive of some form of collusion. Experiment with this, if you really think it's possible. No need to represent an entire ministry, or to wait for years. Listen carefully to a sermon with a friend, sleep on it, then write down what you remember as best as you can, and have your friend do the same. See how closely the majority of the words match, and more importantly, see if you have it in the same syntax. If you want to get a fraction closer to the improbability of the actual event, ask your friend to listen carefully, but don't tell him that he'll be expected to reproduce the sermon in textual form beforehand.)
quote:
Then you're going to have to show me that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, John, and the non-pauline epistles, were all influenced by Paul. Because the text of those remain, and if Paul's teachings differed from Jesus's, then you need to show that Paul somehow influenced all those writers to present HIS version of Jesus rather then Jesus's version of Jesus.
Paul didn't influence Jesus' disciples, to my mind. I see no compelling reason for believing that the disciples themselves ever reconciled with the stone-casting Saul. But Paul's followers (several generations removed) are the ones who chose which words would pass through history as the opinions of Jesus' disciples.

Even after the Romans purged the texts that didn't jibe with their version, we still have reams and reams of apocryphal texts attributed to the same authors--which tell quite different versions of the events. Why would you think that the synoptic gospels are more accurate reflections of what happened than the Gospel of Thomas, or any other of the hundreds of quite disparate texts that weren't selected as authoritative hundreds of years after everyone had already died?

Rumors and wildly different stories proliferated like concupiscent rabbits for generations, then a bunch of Romans who were practicing Paul's version declared which texts were the valid ones, and you think I need to explain how the minority of texts ascribed to people who actually knew Jesus that got selected to be sandwiched into the big book of Paul's teachings might not perfectly reflect what Jesus' disciples actually said?

The Romans chose which words to say were true, and most of the things they chose were from Paul and Luke! The texts they chose to go along with the Pauline doctrine can quite reasonably be assumed to have been chosen because they were the versions that best reflected the beliefs of the Pauline-biased Romans who chose them. (And there is still very little in the books written by people who knew Jesus that supports Paul's decidedly GrecoRoman flavored doctrines.)
quote:
I think you are misatributing these supposedly negative conceptions of Christianity to Paul,
I'm not. The soteriology and metaphysics which are central to all of post-Nicene Christianity comes from Paul. In the Roman-selected texts, the teachings attributed to Jesus regarding souls, and salvation and resurrection are sparse. The few times he addresses such topics, his words are cryptic and non-committal (not that there is a reason to believe that even the few mentions of such things weren't inserted into the texts by later supporters of Paul's version of Christianity.)
quote:
The "roman dude" is Paul? Don't all evangalists or missionaries or priests abbrogate unto themselves the right to explain what Jesus meant? Isn't that what authors of revisionist history do every day?
Yup.
quote:
You're saying that Jesus did not mean this or that, but that is was made up by Paul.
No. I'm pointing out that--even in the Pauline-biased version that was cherry picked by the Romans, Jesus isn't actually on the record teaching the same things that Paul taught.

If you look at the Paul's doctrines, and you take the texts of what Jesus said (which were quite presumably chosen because they reflected what the Pauline selectors believed), you still have quite distinct sets of teachings. I'm suggesting that there is no valid reason to assume that Jesus meant what Paul taught, because he isn't on record teaching it himself.
quote:
See, when you say stuff like "plebes of the world", it makes you sound arrogant.
[LOL]

Using the term "plebes" in any context will indeed do that.

But "arrogant" comes from the idea of assuming unto oneself that which does not properly pertain. Perhaps that's what you mean. I am quite disparaging my perception of the critical thought practices of the masses, in any case. Whether I personally think critically is an open question--if I don't, my criticism indeed makes me arrogant.

But I would suppose that the consensus by now is quite settled that I am indeed a cock, though to my mind, I'm just getting off a rock...

[Wink]
quote:

Orphism and Pythagoreanism did not derive from Platonism.

Yeah, it's the other way around. Pythagoras preceded Plato, and Platonic thought very much derives from Pythagorean thought. In turn, Paul's thought is heavily influenced by Platonic thought--particularly through Philo, specifically, and more generally, through the Stoic schools that thrived in Tarsus in Saul's day.

Saul was classically educated.
quote:
I'm not sure of what Platonic metaphysics concerning diety you are referring to, could you specify?
Christian metaphysics--from divinity to the concept of the soul--closely resemble Platonic concepts of divinity and the soul. In contrast, Christian metaphysics do not actually resemble Hebrew concepts of divinity and the soul--almost at all.

[ April 27, 2012, 02:42 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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LetterRip
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Grant this document explains some of the thinking behind the textual agreement between Matthew, Mark and Luke

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/q-exist.html

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Grant
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Thanks, LR. I was aware of the Q document theory and was going to mention it, but didn't really know if it was altogether necessary to put forth the argument that three different writers could write about key events 40 years in their past and get two thirds a similar result, when they had been indeed talking, probably every day for the past 40 years, about the very thing they were writing about. I think it is possible.

I'm not keen on using the Q theory as an exhibit because I consider it to be another WAG. I agree to the possiblity of a Q source, but I can just as well see that "Q source" was simply the dominant oral tradition that had arisen between Jesus's death and the writing of Mark. This dominant oral tradition may actually reflect what Jesus actually said and did.

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Grant
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---"Why do we assume that the gospel of Mark accurately reflects what Mark may have written?"

I don't think it is necessarily assumed. It is decided that since the book came out when Mark was presumably still alive, if he had not written it, he would probably have let everyone he knew that this was so. There would have been a sizeable oral tradition in place that Mark had not written it.

The alternative is for Christianity to be one big conspiracy on top of another. First, nobody could remember anything he said. Second, Paul simply presented his own view that did not acurately reflect Jesus's teachings or thought. Third, the Council of Nicea simply cherry picked whatever texts they wanted without thought to their authenticity. So on and so on. Nobody, in the entire chain, was trying to be honest.

---"First: I'm not actually supplying evidence--I'm applying critical thinking to the textual evidence (which, historically, is not only considered very rude, but for hundreds of years it was very much not allowed--and such cultural patterns of contraint retain inertia, as is in actual evidence in this thread"

LOL. Yes, I've called the Vatican and they should be sending an albino your way. The problem is that I think that your critical thinking is in error, not that I think that critical thinking is wrong. In fact, I would probably say that Christianity has had the most self-aimed critical thought aimed at it's own texts then any other religion on earth.

---"But yes--I'm suggesting that it strains credulity that multiple authors would independently produce documents from their own memories of long-past sermons that feature the exact same sets of words, and feature narratives of identical sets of events."

I don't think it is difficult at all, and does not strain my credulity. The sermons of Christ are not exctly Platonic dialogues. They are simple and to the point, and often contain easily remembered parables that Jesus may or may not have used several times. My guess is that like most preachers, Jesus probably used the same sermons multiple times. After three years of hanging out with him, I imagine that I could remember several key points from the ones that he used over and over.

In response to your experiment, I would ask you to record a lecture, or buy one from the Learning Company. Listen to five different 30 minute lectures, once a week, for three years. At the end of the three year period, get a teaching position and continue to regurgitate the professor's teachings for 40 years, every day. Then get two of your friends to do the same. After 40 years, write down what the professor taught. I volunteer to help be one of the other two, just let me know what lectures I need to listen to every day for the next three years. We should be ready to test around 2055. I'm due to die in 2050 so I may not be around, though.

---"Pythagoras preceded Plato, and Platonic thought very much derives from Pythagorean thought."

Could you be more specific? How did Pythogorean thought effect Platonism? What are the similarities?

---"Christian metaphysics--from divinity to the concept of the soul--closely resemble Platonic concepts of divinity and the soul. In contrast, Christian metaphysics do not actually resemble Hebrew concepts of divinity and the soul--almost at all."

You're saying that Christianity takes more from Plato then it does from Moses, yes? I understand that Paul may have been clasically trained, he spoke greek and had the Roman citizenship. But he was a Jew too.

Please show some difinitive similarities between Platonic metaphysics and early Christian metaphysics.

I believe that the synoptic gospels were chosen as the most authoritative, for the same reason that you dismiss them. They showed similarities. The other writings did not. If 100 witnesses come up to give testimony on an occurance, and three of them jived and the others did not, then my best bet would probably be in the testimony given by the three witnesses whose versions were similar. Add to this a couple of centuries of oral tradition that seemed to support these versions, and you have the Roman solution.

Now the Roman solution is obviously not the Greek solution, which would be to include all purported gospels into the New Testament, and allow the reader to decide which were valid. I'm sure that an even more fragmented Christianity, with a scripture that contradicted itself even more then it does now, would be amusing to watch.

[ April 27, 2012, 09:22 AM: Message edited by: Grant ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
---"First: I'm not actually supplying evidence--I'm applying critical thinking to the textual evidence (which, historically, is not only considered very rude, but for hundreds of years it was very much not allowed--and such cultural patterns of contraint retain inertia, as is in actual evidence in this thread"

LOL. Yes, I've called the Vatican and they should be sending an albino your way.

[LOL] [LOL] [LOL]
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kmbboots
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Sorry. Still crazy busy at work. If you really want to did into this, I recommend this book.

http://www.amazon.com/From-Jesus-Christ-Origins-Testament/dp/0300084579

From one of the reviews:
quote:
Fredriksen moves backward in time, beginning with the highly developed esoteric Christology in the gospel of John at the turn of the century back to the very Jewish, earthy, eschatological Mark, written between 65 and 75 AD. Carefully laying out the evidence of the texts, Fredriksen incisively reasons a very likely history of the development of the ideas of Jesus and takes us back to the most probable reconstruction of who the man of history truly was. She then evaluates Paul, who represents a sort of anomaly compared to the gospel development and demonstrates that the theological development wasn't necessarily as smooth a trajectory as one would presume.

In order to gain a proper understanding of the context all this takes place in and why indeed it even occurs one must have a modicum of knowledge about the history of Israel, and the development of messianism that began with the experience of the Babylonian Exile and the subsequent influence of Persian religious ideas on historical Judaism. Indeed it was this time, from the sixth century through the second, that proved formative to Jewish ideas, which when mixed with Hellenism produced the Christian religion that we know today, which subsequently greatly influenced Islam. (What an amazing time in history!) This book describes that process.

What? You thought this was new information? [Wink]

[ April 27, 2012, 10:22 AM: Message edited by: kmbboots ]

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
What? You thought this was new information? [Wink]

What? You mean this isn't about SP's application of critical thinking on the textual evidence? [Wink]

Paul was the center of the first ever controversy in the history of Christianity. The idea that he's an apostate is definately not new. But apparently somebody gave him the stamp of approval at the Council of Jerusalem, but of course that could all just be Pauline propaganda.

From there, I have no problem agreeing that it is true that Paul left the greatest effect on the development of early christianity then any other disciple. But I do not necessarily agree that his effect was greater then Jesus himself [Smile] . I havn't really seen just how much the gospels and acts disagree with Pauline ideas.

The contention by SP is that apparently there is not a great deal of disparity because supporters of Paul's vision are the ones who chose which gospels to include. I agree that it is all very possible, but this of course means that there was basically a conspiracy at the Council of Nicea, etc, that buried anything that disagreed with Pauline views. I agree that could all be very possible as well, since that was the Roman way of doing things.

But all of it wrapped together as an argument for Apostacy seems that you are putting alot of "possibles" together in one bowl and trying to bake a theory. There is nothing hard in the recipe, as far as I can tell so far.

But since this is old news and I don't have to rely on my own weak mind, I guess I can now break out some guns.

http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/paul_invented_christianity.html

I found this website, but I have not read it completely, so I can't vouch for it's quality. Any religious website that's first button at the top left is "Answers for Atheists", I know will probably piss somebody off. It seems to be well written, but so do alot of things.

http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Origins-Christopher-Rowland/dp/0281053669/ref=lp_B001HMVA86_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1335544046&sr=1-6

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Adam Masterman
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I've always found the Jesus Seminar's findings to be the most compelling historical approach. Its worth noting, VL, that they do constuct a "Jesus" who has a specific message, one that differs from that of nearly every established church, and yet its not really just invented. There is a middle ground between dismissing the 4 Gospels as pure fantasy, and accepting them as authoritative. Specifically, it involves using all available historical documentation of Jesus, and using textual history and other techniques to make determine the probably origins of the different aspects of various texts.

This is not to say that their interpretation is "correct", and I agree that sp's argument is sloppy and ill-supported. However, it is possible to assert a Jesus different from the one supplied by Christianity, and it needn't be an arbitrary invention.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
There is a middle ground between dismissing the 4 Gospels as pure fantasy, and accepting them as authoritative. Specifically, it involves using all available historical documentation of Jesus, and using textual history and other techniques to make determine the probably origins of the different aspects of various texts.

This is not to say that their interpretation is "correct", and I agree that sp's argument is sloppy and ill-supported. However, it is possible to assert a Jesus different from the one supplied by Christianity, and it needn't be an arbitrary invention.

There's certainly more than two ways to do it, and not all of them could be called "middle ground." The left has as many folks as the right who want to make Jesus their political tool, a promoted of political change rather than spiritual and personal change. I've run into folks that take Jesus' forgiveness of and association with former harlots as a sign that Jesus approves of the sex industry. All that remains is for Coke and Pepsi to adopt him as their spokesperson.
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Grant
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I think it is just as easy to try and decide who the real Socrates is, which is to say that it's quite difficult.

Whose version is the real one? Plato's? Aristophanes'? Xenophon's? How do you decide and why?

Is Plato automatically assumed to have put his own words in Socrates's mouth? Is Aristophanes's version to believed more because it is unfavorable? Every single question can also be aimed at the gospels and acts. And I still think that the answers people are giving are simply guesses, that often are being made to support their own assumptions.

The problem that you have with Jesus is that you're talking about an individual whose followers have claimed was divine, and rose from the dead. God in human form with miracles. Right away if you are an atheist you have a problem. An atheist MUST say, "well, this is not what really happened, because there is no God, and people don't rise from the grave". I can respect that, because the Christians who were born to the religion often are coming up to the gospels with the same type of blinders on.

If you begin your critical analysis of the gospels with a preconcieved notion that they are either historical or unhistorical, based on other beliefs, then you've already poisoned the well.

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seekingprometheus
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Grant:
quote:
In fact, I would probably say that Christianity has had the most self-aimed critical thought aimed at it's own texts then any other religion on earth
[LOL]

You and I must be using different definitions for "critical thought."

The claims within the texts are the among the most extraordinary (my word would actually be "absurd," but I'll aim a bit more politic) ever made. "Critical thought" would first and foremost examine ways in which more mundane explanations for the extraordinary claims in the texts might be true.

Christianity does not look at the extraordinary claims in the texts critically--at all. The criticism you refer to is more at exegesis--it starts with the assumption that the most extraordinary of the claims are true, and then examines the textual evidence interpretively.
quote:
three different writers could write about key events 40 years in their past and get two thirds a similar result, when they had been indeed talking, probably every day for the past 40 years, about the very thing they were writing about.
Did you miss the part where I already said this?
quote:
SP:

This could be explained by the authors themselves discussing the events and coming to a general consensus as to what happened and what was said

My claim was that the documents are too similar to be realistically considered independent material.

This claim was made in support of my observation that the NT contains relatively little material by actual witnesses to Jesus' life--with the additional observation that the small portion of text that is attributed to such witnesses reads like the product of collaboration, rather than reflecting the unique and independent memories of the individuals who personally experienced Jesus' ministry.

Every time I point out instances that establish reasons for believing that evidence is a product of collaboration, you derogate such points by insinuating that I'm alleging conspiracy theories.

I'm actually just pointing out that it is historically clear that the texts reflect pre-established social consensus: "Here's what *we* have decided *together* happened."

If you want to smear what I'm saying with the connotations of paranoia there are attached to "conspiracy theories," then go for it (twisting the framework someone else is using is fair game, in my book.)

But try to comprehend what I'm saying a bit better before you circle back around to mock my argument for failing to demonstrate an understanding of points that are actually very much part of exactly what I've been saying.

I'm not talking about conspiracy theories. I'm talking about the uncritical acceptance of the claims of a charismatic zealot who asserted that he had the authority to explain Jesus' ministry, and the uncritical acceptance of the way authorities reified this explanation as the "Truth."

Somewhere underneath these criticisms is another, more fundamental criticism--of the mass hypnosis that has contributed to absurd magical myths getting uncritically accepted as historical truth--but we'll get to that when we get there, I suppose.
quote:
SP:

"Why do we assume that the gospel of Mark accurately reflects what Mark may have written?"

Grant:

I don't think it is necessarily assumed. It is decided that since the book came out when Mark was presumably still alive, if he had not written it, he would probably have let everyone he knew that this was so. There would have been a sizeable oral tradition in place that Mark had not written it.

The alternative is for Christianity to be one big conspiracy on top of another

"Conspiracy" continues to be a term of your own spin. I'm suggesting something much more mundane--that superstitions and pretentions to authority resulted in a widely accepted "historical" tale that is actually nothing more than the obvious myth that it is.

As for the Roman authorities using the superstition to seize power--they DID. This isn't some theory of a secret conspiracy--it's what happened, in the open, right in the history books.

A bunch of religious politicians got together and collaborated to decide what was true, and what wasn't. And their conclusions blatantly centered around reifying their own authority to determine not only truth, but the objective moral responsibilities of everyone in the world. And they anathematized the evidence that contradicted their conclusions.

None of this secret, none of this is hidden, none of this involves even a slight stretch of the imagination. This is the traditional, accepted version of history.

But, if you can stop measuring my head for a tinfoil hat, I'll remind you that what I asked was why it is assumed that the text is an *accurate* reflection of what Mark wrote.

And there are other, quite different versions of text that are also attributed to Mark. In fact, it is quite a reasonable assumption that even more versions of text that were attributed to Mark existed back then that have been lost to history (and fires set to protect an authoritative version of history).

It's not like there is any parchment still extant that people seriously consider to have been written by Mark's hand. And the version that got selected wasn't a photocopy of his original document either--the transcription process through which the texts were transmitted through history very much included other human beings writing with their own hands--and human hands have a funny tendency NOT to replicate text completely faithfully.

In fact, the whole point is that there indeed WERE very different versions of the gospel of Mark, and the Romans decided which one was authentic. (They seem to have scrapped it together from copying and pasting different versions, as a matter of fact.)

My point is that the version that was chosen reflects both the subjective beliefs and the entirely human motivations (which include political considerations) of the arbiters that chose which version to canonize. This is indeed an assumption, but not making such an assumption seems to me to pretty definitively be indicative of a failure of critical thinking...
quote:
In response to your experiment, I would ask you to record a lecture, or buy one from the Learning Company. Listen to five different 30 minute lectures, once a week, for three years. At the end of the three year period, get a teaching position and continue to regurgitate the professor's teachings for 40 years, every day. Then get two of your friends to do the same. After 40 years, write down what the professor taught. I volunteer to help be one of the other two, just let me know what lectures I need to listen to every day for the next three years. We should be ready to test around 2055. I'm due to die in 2050 so I may not be around, though.
[LOL]

I'll get right on that. We need to find a subject matter upon which everyone's eternal souls depend, and we should distribute them to various religious sects that can obtain tremendous moral authority by interpreting our documents--and we should insist that transcription of the documents be done entirely by hand, at the discretion of the leaders of the various cults. Then, in three hundred years, there should be a council to determine which versions best reflect the absolute truth...

[LOL]
quote:
Could you be more specific? How did Pythogorean thought effect Platonism? What are the similarities?
This is a hugely broad question. I'll acknowledge that it responds to an equally broad point that I made, but I think you need to research this some on your own. That Platonism derives in part from the influence of Pythagoreanism is well understood and widely accepted, though it requires familiarity with sets of assumptions of tremendous breadth to trace the evolution of the ideas.

Since my underlying point is about the imposition of Greek memes upon a Judaic narrative, it would probably be easiest to point you in the direction of Philo, who basically did the exact same thing that Paul did--translating Judaic ethics and metaphysics in terms of a set of established Greek ideas--just before Paul did it, though in explicitly philosophical terms rather than religious terms.

Read up on Philo a bit, and see if you don't see a bit of a trail from Pythagoreanism->Platonism->Stoicism->something-very-much-like-Pauline-doctrine.

Remember that my real point isn't about a conspiracy, it's just that the set of ideas that characterize Chistianity seem to have been chosen by GrecoRoman authorities because they were intrinsic to GrecoRoman Orthodoxy long before Paul...

Paul's doctrine got picked up because it aligned with the cultural ideas that dominated the mainstream culture of the postHellenic world...
quote:

Please show some difinitive similarities between Platonic metaphysics and early Christian metaphysics.

Again, read about Philo.

But to give one simple and easy example: The Soul.

The Platonic Soul and the Pauline Soul are one and the same. And, again, these concepts are dissimilar from the Judaic soul.

How familiar are you with these concepts?

[ April 27, 2012, 08:19 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Is Plato automatically assumed to have put his own words in Socrates's mouth?
Umm. Yes. This isn't really an assumption, Plato wrote books that put words in Socrates' mouth. Assuming that those words were Socrates' actual words would be the bizarre assumption.

(hint, hint)

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
I've always found the Jesus Seminar's findings to be the most compelling historical approach. Its worth noting, VL, that they do constuct a "Jesus" who has a specific message, one that differs from that of nearly every established church, and yet its not really just invented. There is a middle ground between dismissing the 4 Gospels as pure fantasy, and accepting them as authoritative. Specifically, it involves using all available historical documentation of Jesus, and using textual history and other techniques to make determine the probably origins of the different aspects of various texts.

This is not to say that their interpretation is "correct", and I agree that sp's argument is sloppy and ill-supported. However, it is possible to assert a Jesus different from the one supplied by Christianity, and it needn't be an arbitrary invention.

The Jesus seminar doesn't make definitive statements about what Jesus did and didn't say, all they argue is that based on what they know about the time period they think certain things may or may not have been truly Jesus's words.

I have not been very impressed with the search for the historical Jesus. It's going from guessing to educated guessing.

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Grant
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--"The claims within the texts are the among the most extraordinary (my word would actually be "absurd," but I'll aim a bit more politic) ever made. "Critical thought" would first and foremost examine ways in which more mundane explanations for the extraordinary claims in the texts might be true."

At least I got ya laughing. I'm not sure if we're looking at "critical thought" in the same manner. I think in the above, you are thinking of scientific thought rather then critical thought. Scientifically, saying someone is divine or that they rose from the dead or they can change water into wine, multiply loaves of bread, etc etc etc... is pretty ridiculous.

From a purely critical standpoint, to dismiss these claims is to dismiss the possibilty of any supernatural phenomena, or for that matter undiscovered scientific phenomena. The reason it is unscientific is that it cannot be reproduced. The reason that people can still believe in such things is that it is impossible to entirely rule out that such things can happen.

--"Christianity does not look at the extraordinary claims in the texts critically--at all. The criticism you refer to is more at exegesis--it starts with the assumption that the most extraordinary of the claims are true, and then examines the textual evidence interpretively."

Again, difference of opinon as to what consitutes criticism. I stand by my claim that Christianity has spent a good amount of time looking inward and questioning itself.

--"Did you miss the part where I already said this?

My claim was that the documents are too similar to be realistically considered independent material."


Awesome! I guess we agree on something. [Big Grin] But you see, I don't really agree that is what happened. It's obvious that the authors of the gnostic gospels DID NOT have a Jesus seminar in 60 A.D. to decide what actually happened. I think that if that had occured then the gnostic gospels would be even MORE SIMILAR, or there would be a single gospel rather then multiple.

I stand by my assertion that it is possible for the material to be entirely independant, yet contrained by the dominant oral tradition that had arisen in the intervening years between the writing and the death of Jesus.

--"I'm actually just pointing out that it is historically clear that the texts reflect pre-established social consensus: "Here's what *we* have decided *together* happened."

Well I have no problem with that assertion. If I've misread you in any way then that's all on me. I'm glad you had the patience to clear it up with me. I still think it's possible that the disciples did not actually get together and formally decide "okay, this is our story". I think if they had the story would be more similar. I do agree that there was a dominant oral tradition that had been going around for the past 30 years or so.

--"Every time I point out instances that establish reasons for believing that evidence is a product of collaboration, you derogate such points by insinuating that I'm alleging conspiracy theories.

If you want to smear what I'm saying with the connotations of paranoia there are attached to "conspiracy theories," then go for it (twisting the framework someone else is using is fair game, in my book.)

But try to comprehend what I'm saying a bit better before you circle back around to mock my argument for failing to demonstrate an understanding of points that are actually very much part of exactly what I've been saying."


I take it all back. No conspiracy theories here. I have failed to understand your points, and for this I say "sumimasen".

--"Somewhere underneath these criticisms is another, more fundamental criticism--of the mass hypnosis that has contributed to absurd magical myths getting uncritically accepted as historical truth--but we'll get to that when we get there, I suppose."

I think, that if you believe in a God or the supernatural, then all things are possible. The idea that the belief in God is a form of mass hysteria or hypnosis is pretty well established in certain circles.

--"I'm suggesting something much more mundane--that superstitions and pretentions to authority resulted in a widely accepted "historical" tale that is actually nothing more than the obvious myth that it is."

That is the obvious conclusion if you are looking at the gospels from a purely scientific, purely natural, point of view. There are other points of view on it though. One thing that I won't do is say that the claims of Christianity can be supported by any type of emperical knowlege, proof, or scientific reasoning.

But I will come back to the point made before. If you believe in a God, then all things are possible.

"My point is that the version that was chosen reflects both the subjective beliefs and the entirely human motivations (which include political considerations) of the arbiters that chose which version to canonize. This is indeed an assumption, but not making such an assumption seems to me to pretty definitively be indicative of a failure of critical thinking..."

I can buy all of that as well. Entirely possible. I also believe it is entirely possible for an individual to seek truth without having political motivations or machinations. I can understand that the idea that an early christian bishop or roman emperor might have such attributes could stretch some people's imaginations.

"I'll get right on that. We need to find a subject matter upon which everyone's eternal souls depend, and we should distribute them to various religious sects that can obtain tremendous moral authority by interpreting our documents--and we should insist that transcription of the documents be done entirely by hand, at the discretion of the leaders of the various cults. Then, in three hundred years, there should be a council to determine which versions best reflect the absolute truth..."

Joking aside, I will continue to stand by my theory that an individual, after being repetatively exposed to certain teachings and witnessing certain events, can give an accurate representation of what was actually said and done. Even if the testimony concerns moral teachings.

"Remember that my real point isn't about a conspiracy, it's just that the set of ideas that characterize Chistianity seem to have been chosen by GrecoRoman authorities because they were intrinsic to GrecoRoman Orthodoxy long before Paul..."

I completely agree that Christianity, or Pauline Christianity if you prefer, better fitted the current schools of Greek (and Roman by extention) thought at the time, then traditional Roman and Greek religion. I will also agree that the concepts of divine beings in human form, or sons of god, were more greek and roman then hebrew. I will not go so far to say however, that this proves that the original story of Jesus was warped to better fit this view.

---"The Platonic Soul and the Pauline Soul are one and the same. And, again, these concepts are dissimilar from the Judaic soul.

How familiar are you with these concepts?"


Barely. If I remember right the idea of the Platonic soul was laid out in the dialogue were Socrates commits suicide. I don't remember the name of it, but I never did read that one anyways. I've been taught about the Platonic soul, but I seemed to have forgotten most of it. Most of what I remember concerning Plato concerns morality and politics and their relationships between each other.

I have no problem believing that hellenic conceptions of the soul had been picked up by the Jews in the 300 years since Alexander. I do however have no idea what the pre-hellenic jewish conception of the soul was, and what the source of this would be.

I never heard of Philo, but my cursory reading of him would lead me to believe there were alot of similarities between his philosphy and what Paul was doing. I would say that Philo was primarily of the stoic school, rather then the purely Neo-Platonic school, but I recognize that stoicism esentially rose out of Platonism. I believe that the stoics however, were not exactly on good terms with the Neo-Platonists.

[ April 28, 2012, 07:39 PM: Message edited by: Grant ]

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
---"The Platonic Soul and the Pauline Soul are one and the same. And, again, these concepts are dissimilar from the Judaic soul.

How familiar are you with these concepts?"

Barely. If I remember right the idea of the Platonic soul was laid out in the dialogue were Socrates commits suicide. I don't remember the name of it, but I never did read that one anyways. I've been taught about the Platonic soul, but I seemed to have forgotten most of it. Most of what I remember concerning Plato concerns morality and politics and their relationships between each other.

I have no problem believing that hellenic conceptions of the soul had been picked up by the Jews in the 300 years since Alexander. I do however have no idea what the pre-hellenic jewish conception of the soul was, and what the source of this would be.

In that the Hellenic concept of the soul would have been alien to Moses according to modern scholorship he'd be right. We have several problems after that.

King Saul went to the witch of Endor (that's the origin of that name, no Ewok jokes) and succesfully communicated with the Prophet Samuel.
1 Samuel 28:9-20
quote:
then the woman said to him, "Look, you know what Saul has done, how he has m cut off the mediums and the spiritists from the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?" 10 And Saul swore to her by the LORD, saying, "As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing." 11 Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" And he said, "Bring up Samuel for me." 12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, "Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!" 13 And the king said to her, "Do not be afraid. What did you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I saw n a 1 spirit ascending out of the earth." 14 So he said to her, "What is his form?" And she said, "An old man is coming up, and he is covered with o a mantle." And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down.

15 Now Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you p disturbed me by bringing me up?" And Saul answered, "I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and q God has departed from me and r does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do." 16 Then Samuel said: "So why do you ask me, seeing the LORD has departed from you and has become your enemy? 17 "And the LORD has done for 2 Himself 3 s as He spoke by me. For the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 t "Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD nor execute His fierce wrath upon u Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day. 19 "Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with v me. The LORD will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines."

20 Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no food all day or all night.

So here we already have the concept of a disembodied soul which lives on in the afterlife. The text is pre-Christian but from what I've been able to surmise, post Babylonian exile and probably post Alexandrian conquest.

While there are many references to the soul in the OT this is one of the clearer examples of the idea of man having an immortal discorperal state as opposed to "soul" being explained as one's sense of an emotional self.

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seekingprometheus
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Grant:

quote:
At least I got ya laughing.
[LOL]  

Hush this humor, it hints at heresy!  Haven't you heard?--religious indignitaries are wrathfully after my laughter, they blast the theme as blasphemy, and advocate anathemy...

[Big Grin]

But seriously, I'm just happy whenever it seems that someone else is still half as amused as me.

I hope we're all here at least partly for the chuckles.  (Honestly, this "hope" is more like ornery "faith"--it's a praxis of principle, an unwrit ritual of personal religious orthodoxy for me--my exegesis on Genesis holds that after God's declaration that his creation was "good," He also sacredly whispered a Divine Aside:  "...at least for a laugh.")

[Big Grin]

 I get that folks sometimes rather flatter our ethereal gibber gabber as a solemn matter,  but I would hope that the gas we pass would mostly crack out from the gut,  rather than seethe in the spleen.

(And I pray that it's understood that I'm speaking humorously.)

As I see it, keyboard discourse junkies are just funny monkeys--it's not like we're really gonna rewrite Shakespeare, no matter how long we bang at these keys.  

[Wink]

In fact, every time I get riled up enough to vent some verbal steam, the baboonic babble that immediately streams (largely from me) seems to release all the seethe like howls of wind freed from a busted gut--which means: this chatter quite cracks up this nut.

Speaking of which, if I get sent to hell (which is rumored to be footnoted in certain subtextual indices, here [Wink] ), it'll be for my manner of not revering God's solemnity entirely seriously.  We could call my sin idolatry: I just can't help but wring religious substance into figurings of brazen irony.

[Big Grin]

quote:
I think in the above, you are thinking of scientific thought rather then critical thought. Scientifically, saying someone is divine or that they rose from the dead or they can change water into wine, multiply loaves of bread, etc etc etc... is pretty ridiculous.
Well, there's this and then there's that.  "Science" doesn't really quantify the value of ridiculability, but observations of how absurd certain claims might seem may indeed be related to the context through which science has modified our modes of perceiving the world.
quote:
From a purely critical standpoint, to dismiss these claims is to dismiss the possibilty of any supernatural phenomena, or for that matter undiscovered scientific phenomena.
[LOL]

Not really.  I'm not actually disputing the possibility of goo in the gaps, and I'm really not the one declaring that all that there is to know is already God-Given Writ, I'm just pointing out the improbability of specific sets of myths being based in pure fact.

A purely critical perspective isn't about definitively dismissing claims, it's about exposing claims to a certain type of scrutiny.
quote:
The reason that people can still believe in such things is that it is impossible to entirely rule out that such things can happen
There are literally infinite possibilities that are impossible to disprove.  People's beliefs can only reasonably be constrained by probabilities, not possibility.

But, in this case, the probability that the Christian narrative is true isn't actually any higher than any of the other of the absurdly unrealistic mythological narratives that were typical of the ancient environment in which these myths took shape.

This is to say--we do actually understand that the superstitious ancients invented plenty of wildly improbable magical tales.  We even understand something of the historical processes through such which mythemes developed, and some of the historical, sociological, and psychological  factors that have lead to the belief that such absurd claims are actually true.

A critical thinker who is literate in ancient mythology can quite easily see that this set of myths follows a very well-known pattern that is characteristic of all the fantastical stories of antiquity--in fact, one can even pick out the strands of thought that evolved into this particular set of beliefs.

Meanwhile, the persistent belief in the absurd Christian narrative is quite clearly the product of coercive authority abusing socially receptive minds.

This isn't just about Roman politicians--it pervades the entire western culture.  Parents have taught children that this ridiculous narrative is true, teachers have framed the worldview of students with this blatantly invented pseudohistory--for two thousand years.

The very fabric of western society has been stitched together out of a pattern reifying the absurd claims of the Judeochristian narrative.

This goes so deep into the social consciousness that everybody actually thinks that I'm being unsocial and rude here for insisting that this is an absurd distortion of humanity's historical vision, and that it is unethical to coercively teach children that these myths are historically true.

It is actually embedded in our perception of manners that criticizing the acceptance of this story is inappropriate--that's how deeply social authority has distorted moral reality.

I get a kick out of the way people seem to see certain things I say as unconscionably rude--so I tend to highlight such ideas, to reify them--bringing to the surface the subtextual memes that SP is being an unpardonable boor.  It's funny, to me.  But I'll put it on record that I'm not actually acting unethically here--what is unethical regarding this topic is that parents and teachers continue to use their authority to brainwash the next generation of children to misunderstand history and reality.

This nonsense doesn't actually need to be disproved.  It's so untenably improbable that all that is needed is for figures of social authority to stop inculcating the malleable minds of children with the authoritative truth of the nonsensical memes.

The reason people still believe it is just because half of the western world abuses social authority to insist that it's true.

(The last 3 paragraphs here aren't specifically aimed at you, Grant--so it's clear.)
quote:

I stand by my claim that Christianity has spent a good amount of time looking inward and questioning itself.

I don't dispute that Christians aim criticisms inwardly--they clearly do: they take a prepossessed "objective morality" and are harshly critical of failures to conform to it, for instance.  This is clearly a form of self-criticism.

What they don't do is expose the absurd claims of the narrative to critical thought.  On the contrary, they hold the absurd claims sacred to protect them from criticism, they frequently act like such criticism is unpardonably rude, and they dismiss criticisms that seem quite valid on the basis of the fact that such criticism doesn't definitively disprove the absurd claims.
quote:

But you see, I don't really agree that is what happened. It's obvious that the authors of the gnostic gospels DID NOT have a Jesus seminar in 60 A.D. to decide what actually happened.

This isn't what I've implied.  I've been suggesting that the texts do not reflect the independent memories of the purported authors--that the information in the texts clearly reflects a socially preestablished consensus.
quote:
The idea that the belief in God is a form of mass hysteria or hypnosis is pretty well established in certain circles
Personally, I believe in God.

But myths are myths, and socially coercive scripts are socially coercive scripts.
quote:
 I also believe it is entirely possible for an individual to seek truth without having political motivations
I think you're wrong here.  Our social motivations impact all of our behaviors on some level.
quote:

Joking aside, I will continue to stand by my theory that an individual, after being repetatively exposed to certain teachings and witnessing certain events, can give an accurate representation of what was actually said and done. Even if the testimony concerns moral teachings.

This doesn't really apply to the specific criticism to which you seem to be responding.

This is a broad enough statement to be reasonable.  The specific details of the instance in question are not so broad.

...

I'll happily discuss the history of the western idea of the "soul" some more when I have more time.

[ April 30, 2012, 08:13 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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VL: 

Are you serious?

You don't understand that the text you've provided entirely supports my point?

You have a non-Jewish eastern mystic giving a demonstration of a view of the soul that not only didn't exist in Judaism--it was actually a prohibited belief!

It blows my mind that you somehow read this incorrectly enough to provide it as evidence against my claim that the Christian metaphysics of the soul come from a Greek remixing of ancient Babylonian religious memes.

I get that you're trying to say that Judaism had been exposed to the metaphysics from which Christianity derives before Jesus lived, but can you really not see that you're proving my point about where the Christian memes come from?

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Viking_Longship
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SP

Which point SP? You've taken so many of them its hard to know what you're arguing.

Who's arguing that the memes can't be from non-Jewish sources? I certainly am not. I NEVER challenged you on the idea that there were Greek concepts incorperated into Christianity.

I AM arguing that your argument that these were alien concepts introduced by Paul is weak. There is plenty of evidence that they were already there.


Judaism wasn't a vacum and returned from Babylon with all sorts of new ideas from Babylon and Persia long before Jesus was born. (For example the gradual creation and change of Satan's role as Judaism was influenced by Zoroastrianism.)

I don't see your argument that Jesus was somehow more orthodox in his Judaism than Paul was. According to the Bible Jesus spent a portion of his childhood in Egypt where he might have picked up all sorts of interesting notions. Now you can argue that too is a Roman idea planted in the gospels, but I don't see the politcal value of it.

Have lost track of whom you're debating which point with?
(Although if someone is taking up the literalists POV on this thread I don't know whom that individial might be, but it is not me.)

[ May 01, 2012, 10:59 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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djquag1
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For what it's woth, SP, I don't find your arguments or the way you state them to be rude at all.
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Rev. Samuel Weddington
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There is a lot to this thread, but if I can, I thought I might introduce some things that might help:

1. "Arguments against the divinity of Christ/Paul invented it."

Whether or not Christ was divine is really a matter of faith. My logic, nor yours, can establish this truth claim one way or another. By definition, it is a matter of faith and how you interpret the evidence. As a believer and a Presbyterian pastor, I believe the truth claim, on faith, and in turn, attempt to use reason to bolster my faith in that claim. As the great St. Augustine would put it, I am engaged in the process of "faith seeking reason."

For those who are placing their faith in the work of the Jesus Seminar, I would say that you have not escaped this conundrum. The Jesus Seminar is simply a panel of educated when who are really guessing what may or may not be authentic. Sure, they are using historical evidence, textual clues, etc., but in the end, it is really a matter of their interpretation. Don't believe me? Then let's take a non-canonical gospel, like the Gospel of Thomas. If you think the standard NT is strange, take a peak here. It's even stranger. It also seems to be quite ancient. Other also use it, along with Mark, Matthew, and Luke to form the hypothetical "Q" document that, from the Seminar's point of view, is the most "authentic" and closest to Jesus' actual words. Strangely enough, there is very little in Thomas that I resonate with, and even in it, I see a "layering" of Hellenism that is lacking when compared with Matthew. Yet, the Jesus Seminar constantly points back to these "new finds" and new "hermeneutic" devices to bolster their claim. In the end, this is their interpretive focus based on a set of assumptions they are making, and by and large, those assumptions are not shared by the majority of critical scholarship on the NT. In the end, if you "side" with the Jesus Seminar, just be sure to realize that you are no closer to "truth." You have made an interpretive choice. My faith leads me to other choices.

As for Paul "making up" the divinity of Christ...well, that's just ignorant and is straight out of Dan Brown and the DaVinci Code. I'm sorry if that sounds insulting, but ignorance isn't something that is hurled as insult, but rather, something to be overcome.

It is very clear from the evidence that the early church believed Jesus was divine. Philipians 2:5-11 is know as an early Christ hymn. It's easy for people to say, "oh, this is Paul inventing Jesus' deity" until you realize that Paul is quoting another source in this section. Yes, that's right, these aren't Paul's words. They are, from what we can gather, one of the earliest hymns (actually sung) by the early church attesting to Jesus' divinity.

Moving on to another point: Not all the Christian communities were heavily influenced by Paul. This is very clear if you take time to read Acts 15 very closely. Evidently, the Jerusalem Jewish-Christians didn't get along with Paul in the sense that Paul wanted to evangelize the Gentiles. At stake in this debate isn't the idea of Jesus' divinity- instead, it's about who is included in the covenant and whether Christ was sent primarily to evangelize the Jews.

If you accept this idea, then you have a framework: There was an entire church tradition in various regions that did not trace their apostolic lineage back to Paul. Conversely, Paul's particular theological views didn't heavily influence their own theology. With that said, in each and every one of these communities, the fact that Jesus was somehow divine was never a contentious issue.

From Coptic Christians, Antiochian, to Greek, to Roman Christians, all of them (with big variations on a theme) attributed the divine as being present and in Jesus.In fact, if you look at the Gospel of John (especially the prologue), you get one of the highest divine theologies of Jesus anywhere in the New Testament...and it turns out that John probably originated from a scholar/churchman in the Alexandrian church which was neither planted, visited, or influenced directly by Paul.

In other words, if Paul invented Jesus' divinity, then you would expect this to be downplayed in other areas/regions that were not influenced by Paul. There is no evidence of this. In fact, we have the opposite.

Back to Dan Brown. Some might point to heretics like Marcion, Arius (Nicene Creed) or Nestorius (Council of Ephesus) and the great controversies they engendered as evidence that the divinity of Jesus was a real question put before the church. This is a canard. Marcion, Arius and Nestorius all believed in the divinity of Christ, they only disagreed on degree. For Marcion, Christ was divine, but must be divorced from the God of the OT. For Arius, the Son was divine, but lower than the Father. For Nestorius, Christ was divine, but not "con-substantial", or "mixed" with the human nature of Christ. Again, for each of these thinkers, though orthodoxy rejects them, Christ was divine.

Of course, there were the Ebionites, and they, it seems, rejected the divinity of Jesus. Or did they?

In fact, while the Ebionites rejected that Jesus was divine, they did affirm that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead, and that God has fundamentally transformed who Jesus was. While for them Jesus was a prophet, not divine, God's raising him from the dead changed him into Christ as a sign/symbol that ushered in the new age in anticipation of the kingdom. In other words, the most staunch of ancient authorities against the divinity of Jesus actually pose Jesus as being "divinized" through the resurrection. Which leads to another point...

2. Witnesses and Resurrection
This conversation is kind of fruitless in the sense that we have not examined the most critical observation. No matter what your stance on the divinity of Jesus, you must agree to a few guiding principles:
a. Jesus had followers- maybe they believed he was divine, maybe Jesus didn't claim it, maybe he was just a man... all of it speculation, but let's assume the worse
b. Those followers were with him and received teaching from him.
c. Those followers were confronted with a resurrected Jesus. If you don't accept a physical resurrection, then I would simply point out that you are rejecting the eyewitness accounts of those who knew Jesus. Even if you don't like Paul, Paul knew the disciples, and the disciples claimed to have seen him. Not only did they make this claim before Paul, they made the exact same claim to communities that they helped found.
d. Witness of the Resurrection Jesus convinced them that something had changed in the world. They felt called to be something... the church.

We can go around and around the historical debate bush all day long. In the end, we come face to face with a central question: Do we believe the witnesses? Was Jesus raised?

Even Paul claims this as the central question. (1 Corinthians 15:12-20)

If you accept it, then questions of if, when, how, in what manner Jesus was divine really become secondary (in a historical sense, not in terms of orthodox theology) to the question of whether this is firm ground upon which to stand.

If you reject it, then I only have a few questions. Why? What are your reasons? Historicity? Remember, even Josephus and Cornelius Tacitus (contemporary non-Christians) are sources that lend historical evidence that a man named Jesus existed and his followers believed he was raised from the dead. In other words, there were a lot of people claiming to have seen a risen Jesus, and we can establish that with a fair level of certainty.

The disciples were ignorant, superstitious fishermen? Actually, I would argue that these "plain" folk lend credence to the idea. No theologizing, no invention of grand religious ideas, but simple claims to have seen a man raised from the dead.

It's not credible, scientifically? Really? How do you know? I share a scientific mind, and I am no flat-earther. At the same time, I also believe that there is much about the world/universe that we don't know. Furthermore, I believe in God, and that if God exists, then things of this nature are not impossible.

To sum it up: Whether or not you believe Jesus to have been divine before or after the fact, or not all all, you must take into account the critical factors of why Christians believe as they do. It's not just fabricated. It, fundamentally, is based on the witness of people, like you and I. Our faith only confirms this fact for us through the influence, we believe, of the Holy Spirit.

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Rev. Samuel Weddington
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also, @seeking prometheus: actually, the question of the immortality of the soul, resurrection, and the nature (if any) of an after-life were alive and well in Jewish circles long before Jesus was even born. The fundamental distinction between Pharisees and Sadducees falls along this point.
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Viking_Longship
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Welcome to Ornery, Rev, you're wrong (not about anything in particular, it's just how we greet new people here.)
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Rev. Samuel Weddington:
There is a lot to this thread, but if I can, I thought I might introduce some things that might help:

1. "Arguments against the divinity of Christ/Paul invented it."

Whether or not Christ was divine is really a matter of faith. My logic, nor yours, can establish this truth claim one way or another. By definition, it is a matter of faith and how you interpret the evidence. As a believer and a Presbyterian pastor, I believe the truth claim, on faith, and in turn, attempt to use reason to bolster my faith in that claim. As the great St. Augustine would put it, I am engaged in the process of "faith seeking reason."

[Cool]

That's an awesome quote. Almost thou persuadest me to be a Augustinian.

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Whether or not Christ was divine is really a matter of faith. My logic, nor yours, can establish this truth claim one way or another.
Is it a similar matter of faith whether or not e.g. Hernán Cortéz was divine? Or for that matter Charles Manson? Or are questions regarding *their* divinity supposed to have definitive factual answers?

quote:
As a believer and a Presbyterian pastor, I believe the truth claim, on faith, and in turn, attempt to use reason to bolster my faith in that claim.
Such a tactic might serve to make people happy with the conclusions they've already determined to reach, I don't think it serves to ensure the conclusions they reached are indeed true ones.

Arguing backwards is always easier than arguing forwards, with the conclusion to be reached as yet undetermined.

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Rev. Samuel Weddington
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quote:
Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:
quote:
Whether or not Christ was divine is really a matter of faith. My logic, nor yours, can establish this truth claim one way or another.
Is it a similar matter of faith whether or not e.g. Hernán Cortéz was divine? Or for that matter Charles Manson? Or are questions regarding *their* divinity supposed to have definitive factual answers?

quote:
As a believer and a Presbyterian pastor, I believe the truth claim, on faith, and in turn, attempt to use reason to bolster my faith in that claim.
Such a tactic might serve to make people happy with the conclusions they've already determined to reach, I don't think it serves to ensure the conclusions they reached are indeed true ones.

Arguing backwards is always easier than arguing forwards, with the conclusion to be reached as yet undetermined.

Thanks for looking at the post. In respect, I would only suggest that you are applying a very narrow criterion for truth. I don't know if you are familiar with philosophy, but just in case, let's use a very popular notion of what constitutes truth. We'll use a basic idea from something called "Logical Positivism."

In a nutshell, Logical Positivism states this: "Something is true if, and only if, it can be, under some imaginable circumstance, empirically verified."

Pretty straight forward and easily digestible by most of us moderns who have grown up in the scientific age. But let's look closely at the assumptions this definition is making.

If empirical verification is the basis for truth, then the obvious question is, "Where is the maxim that all truth claims are empirically verifiable" written in stone? Is it possible to verify the truth content of this claim?

Of course, we could default to concepts of "common sense," "it works," or some such...But in the end, a true philosopher or scientist must always lay their truth claims upon the altar of limited human experience and scope of vision.

You are right. I don't believe Charles Manson is the second coming. I believe that people who do believe that are kind of nuts. I can also see that you believe that any faith in Christ is equally as nuts. Fair. But in the end, please just admit that you are making a choice. You are, quite literally, placing your faith/trust upon truths that you feel to be self-evident given the evidence that you have at hand.

As I claimed in the post, I am attempting to do the same. I am claiming evidence of the original witnesses to the resurrection, bolstered by what I believe is the authoritative witness of the truth of Scripture given by the Holy Spirit. If you don't believe that, it is certainly fine with me. I'm just not holding absolute standards of truth as a bat to beat others over the head (and I know that you don't intend to as well, I'm just putting this out there to contrast myself with other "unreasonable" people of faith that you might have come across). I believe in absolute standards of truth, and for me, the only measure for it is God Almighty, and I am certainly not God, nor could I ever hope to understand the mind of God.

If you really want to know what I think, I would say this: "Truth" in the sense that we, as human beings, can apprehend it, is dialogical. It is in the exchange of ideas and refinement of our thinking that we come closer to gaining insights to the truth. Whether we are discussing philosophy , science, or religious belief, I believe that this model is pretty standard. In scientific circles, they call it peer review. In philosophical circles, maybe it's a symposium. In religious circle, it's hermenuetics and theological engagement. As such, all our insights are imperfect, but they are heading in a direction (what I believe to be their "ground" or source), and the more we do to exorcise our hubris, the closer we come to discovering that we don't have all the answers.

[ May 05, 2012, 09:30 PM: Message edited by: Rev. Samuel Weddington ]

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Rev. Samuel Weddington
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
quote:
Originally posted by Rev. Samuel Weddington:
There is a lot to this thread, but if I can, I thought I might introduce some things that might help:

1. "Arguments against the divinity of Christ/Paul invented it."

Whether or not Christ was divine is really a matter of faith. My logic, nor yours, can establish this truth claim one way or another. By definition, it is a matter of faith and how you interpret the evidence. As a believer and a Presbyterian pastor, I believe the truth claim, on faith, and in turn, attempt to use reason to bolster my faith in that claim. As the great St. Augustine would put it, I am engaged in the process of "faith seeking reason."

[Cool]

That's an awesome quote. Almost thou persuadest me to be a Augustinian.

What must I do to persuade you? [Smile]
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Paladine
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Welcome to Ornery, Reverend, and thank you for some very interesting and thoughtful contributions.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:
quote:
Whether or not Christ was divine is really a matter of faith. My logic, nor yours, can establish this truth claim one way or another.
Is it a similar matter of faith whether or not e.g. Hernán Cortéz was divine? Or for that matter Charles Manson?
The Mormons would say that all humans have some of the divine in them, and that Jesus Christ is the key to unlocking that potential.
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seekingprometheus
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VL:

Sorry for prolonged absence.  My interest in this thread greatly exceeds my recent participation--but my Ornery time keeps impacting my work and personal life, and this convoluted subject seems to require more time to untangle than I have of late.
quote:
Which point SP? You've taken so many of them its hard to know what you're arguing.
[LOL]

My apologies for hoarding hordes of points--that's certainly not my intent.

We do actually seem to share some points here.  For instance, we both seem to agree that the best representation of the Christian concept of the (metempsychotic) doul in the Old Testament is by a non-Judaic mystic.

To me, it's just a bit ironic that you cite an experience of Saul--an apostate Jew, if you will--consulting a practitioner of decidedly unkosher rites and beliefs, as the best presentation of the Christian view of the Soul in the Old Testament.

This text very much demonstrates my point--the Christian idea of the soul doesn't jibe with the Judaic religious beliefs--the idea existed in Babylonian religions, but it was actually proscribed by Judaism. (Lev 20:6, Isaiah 8:19-22)

In any case, I'm certainly not arguing that Judaism wasn't influenced by the religious ideas of Babylonian derivation--on the contrary, it seems clear to me that half of the Old Testament is a pretty clear plagiarism of longstanding Akkadian-derived  mythemes.  This doesn't even appear to be hidden--the God of the Old Testament is only partly based on Yahweh, the bloodthirsty tribalistic God of the Israelites--half of the stories are explicitly related through narratives of the mythology of Elohim (the multiple versions of El, Most High God of all the Akkadian civilizations of the ancient world).
quote:
I don't see your argument that Jesus was somehow more orthodox in his Judaism than Paul was.
Neither do I.  This is probably because I haven't made any such argument, so it isn't here to be seen, but it deserves mention that many people have faith in things which are not seen, so...

But no, I'm not making any pretense of knowing what Jesus was really about--all we've got to go by is a highly scrambled set of texts that were transcribed and selected by followers of Paul...

What I have said is that even on the Pauline selected texts, Jesus doesn't really invoke ideas that can be traced directly through Greek memes.

Paul, on the other hand, basically quotes the Platonists in his ascetic ethics, and his dualistic flesh/spirit view is of an explicitly metempsychotic soul that reads like its straight from the Greek.

I went back to see if I could find what I had written that makes you think I claim to explain what Jesus actually meant--this is all I could find:
quote:
 Jesus and his followers were Jews. They didn't really mince Greek ideas into the things the Romans decided to insist they said. Paul was Jewish, but he was also a classically educated Roman, and he imposed a Hellenic set of morals and metaphysics on his teachings of the meaning of Jesus
Do you see that I'm not actually speaking as to what Jesus really meant--I'm just pointing out that there is no clear evidence that his teachings were directly influenced by Hellenic memes (specifically Orphism/Pythagoreanism)?

In contrast, the religious ideas in Paul's teachings are clearly influenced by this exact Greek lineage of memes.

But I've already explained this:
quote:
The soteriology and metaphysics which are central to all of post-Nicene Christianity comes from Paul. In the Roman-selected texts, the teachings attributed to Jesus regarding souls, and salvation and resurrection are sparse. The few times he addresses such topics, his words are cryptic and non-committal (not that there is a reason to believe that even the few mentions of such things weren't inserted into the texts by later supporters of Paul's version of Christianity.)

...so I do find it curious that you keep suggesting that I'm trying to explain what Jesus was really on about...
quote:
I AM arguing that your argument that these were alien concepts introduced by Paul is weak
[LOL]

I'm not the one who actually needs a strong argument here.  I'm the guy who is pointing out that the text Christians believe in all centers on the teachings of a guy who never knew Jesus or experienced his ministry.  

This isn't claim which is under dispute.

I'm the one pointing out that the guys who actually knew Jesus disagreed that Paul was teaching exactly what Jesus meant.

This isn't a claim that is under dispute.

I'm the one pointing out that the folks who both transcribed and selected the texts which contain "Jesus'" teachings were folks who obviously religiously bought into Paul's teachings.

This claim isn't under dispute.

I don't need to show strong evidence of discrepancies between what Paul taught and the words that Paul's followers ascribed to Jesus' actual followers about what Jesus said--the narrative reads exactly how it reads--a guy who didn't know Jesus simply claimed the right to speak for him.

The natural assumption here isn't actually that Paul's doctrine is representative of what Jesus meant--such an idea is a relic of uncritical thought about history.

The burden is actually on you, bub.  Since we're on the Christian soul, why don't you show the part of the (Pauline) text where Jesus breaks down the metempsychosis of the soul, and explains the dualistic struggle between the passions of the body and the purity of the spirit?

Here's something funny for you: I can show you texts that demonstrate that Paul's ideas about the soul seem to mimic the words of Greek philosophers in their discourses on the soul.  Can you show that Paul's  ideas on the soul were mapped out by Jesus (even using the texts selected by Pauline followers)?

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seekingprometheus
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Samuel:
quote:
1. "Arguments against the divinity of Christ/Paul invented it."

Whether or not Christ was divine is really a matter of faith. My logic, nor yours, can establish this truth claim one way or another. By definition, it is a matter of faith and how you interpret the evidence. As a believer and a Presbyterian pastor, I believe the truth claim, on faith, and in turn, attempt to use reason to bolster my faith in that claim. As the great St. Augustine would put it, I am engaged in the process of "faith seeking reason."

Hmm.

I don't see a conflict here.

You seem to be saying that there is no way to know that Jesus was or wasn't divine, and that you choose to believe that he was.

I definitely agree that there is no way to disprove an incomprehensible claim, and I definitely agree that this is something that people simply choose to believe...

I'm just questioning the validity of the reason for such a choice.  It seems to me that it's clear that there is substantial obvious motivation to believe such a thing (chance at eternal happiness, don't have to fear death, point to life etc), and there is social pressure to believe such a thing, but there isn't really an epistemologically valid reason for believing such an extraordinary thing--people believe it because they want to, and because they're taught to believe it.

You're actually making my exact point--Christians don't think critically about their beliefs, they choose to believe what they want to believe, and they use reason (or critical faculties) only to bolster the choice...
quote:
It is very clear from the evidence that the early church believed Jesus was divine. Philipians 2:5-11 is know as an early Christ hymn. It's easy for people to say, "oh, this is Paul inventing Jesus' deity" until you realize that Paul is quoting another source in this section. Yes, that's right, these aren't Paul's words. They are, from what we can gather, one of the earliest hymns (actually sung) by the early church attesting to Jesus' divinity.
[LOL]

It's a Pauline epistle, Sam.  It's from Paul, to a congregation of his followers.  You're suggesting that Paul's citation of a liturgical elements known by parishioners whom he had taught proves that the doctrine didn't come from Paul.

[Roll Eyes]
quote:
Moving on to another point: Not all the Christian communities were heavily influenced by Paul. This is very clear if you take time to read Acts 15 very closely. Evidently, the Jerusalem Jewish-Christians didn't get along with Paul in the sense that Paul wanted to evangelize the Gentiles. At stake in this debate isn't the idea of Jesus' divinity- instead, it's about who is included in the covenant and whether Christ was sent primarily to evangelize the Jews.
No, still the same sourcing--Acts is written by Luke, a close companion of Paul who also did not know Jesus.

But--to obviate this line of thought--where did you get the idea that someone is arguing that Paul is necessarily the only one who thought that Jesus was divine?
quote:
Of course, there were the Ebionites, and they, it seems, rejected the divinity of Jesus. Or did they?

In fact, while the Ebionites rejected that Jesus was divine, they did affirm that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead, and that God has fundamentally transformed who Jesus was. While for them Jesus was a prophet, not divine, God's raising him from the dead changed him into Christ

Well, first: it isn't necessarily true that the Ebionites disbelieved in the divinity of Jesus.  Texts on their beliefs aren't extant--and the stuff that is, like the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions, is just as presumably pseudoepigrahical as is the text of the New Testament.

There really isn't any reason for us to accept documents that clearly were exposed to centuries of politically-motivated rewrites as accurate representations of what was originally believed--the fact that a mutating mess of widely divergent Apocrypha sprang forth is simply a testament to what a ridiculous game of textual "telephone" the whole thing became.

But, accepting your premise of the validity of the claims regarding Ebionite beliefs is fine with me, here--aside from disputing the literal divinity of Jesus, the putative beliefs of Ebionites very much reify my over-arching point here--the Ebionites held that Paul was a heretic, that Jesus' brother James was the true chosen leader of his cult-following, and they paint a picture of Paul as exactly the ruthless political usurper that I've been pointing out that he appears to be, even if you just think about the Pauline sources alone with an ounce of critical thought.
quote:
c. Those followers were confronted with a resurrected Jesus. If you don't accept a physical resurrection, then I would simply point out that you are rejecting the eyewitness accounts of those who knew Jesus. Even if you don't like Paul, Paul knew the disciples, and the disciples claimed to have seen him. Not only did they make this claim before Paul, they made the exact same claim to communities that they helped found.
No.  There are no extant eyewitness accounts.  There are texts purported to be copies of the accounts written by eyewitnesses.  

And I've already mentioned that I disbelieve that Paul actually was actually associated with Jesus' disciples.  The only evidence of such an association is in the claims Paul and his followers, and the texts they selected as representative of what folks who knew Jesus had written.
quote:
If you reject it, then I only have a few questions. Why? What are your reasons? Historicity? Remember, even Josephus and Cornelius Tacitus (contemporary non-Christians) are sources that lend historical evidence that a man named Jesus existed and his followers believed he was raised from the dead. In other words, there were a lot of people claiming to have seen a risen Jesus, and we can establish that with a fair level of certainty.
What do think this means?  There were a lot of ancient cults that are known to have believed ridiculous things.  Are we compelled to treat all the documented superstitions of the time period as well-founded likelihoods that need disproving, or is it just the superstitions that the Roman authorities institutionalized to assert cultural power over everyone's souls?
quote:
also, @seeking prometheus: actually, the question of the immortality of the soul, resurrection, and the nature (if any) of an after-life were alive and well in Jewish circles long before Jesus was even born.
[LOL]

Yup, the Jews were very much influenced by the civilized religions of the day.  But my point is just that these were clearly not originally Judaic beliefs--they were ideas that clearly trace from outside of the Jewish religion.

[ May 07, 2012, 03:11 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Evidently, the Jerusalem Jewish-Christians didn't get along with Paul in the sense that Paul wanted to evangelize the Gentiles.
Not "wanted to," it's what Paul did.

But why would we assume that the texts accepted by the Pauline sect regarding the dispute between Saul and the actual disciples of Jesus are the ones that accurately represent the real dispute and the convenient (for Paul) resolution?

Bizarre absence of critical thought...

[ May 07, 2012, 03:36 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Viking_Longship
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SP

Don't use that bloody laughing icon if you want to be treated with respect. Do it again and I'm complaining to the mod. I mean do it to anybody, not just me. Laughing in someone's face is not a rebuttle, it's an insult.

quote:
I'm the guy who is pointing out that the text Christians believe in all centers on the teachings of a guy who never knew Jesus or experienced his ministry.

This isn't claim which is under dispute.


You have no evidence of Paul's relationship with Jesus or lack thereof after you dismiss the New Testement. Your own arguments make this point invalid.

quote:
This isn't claim which is under dispute.

I'm the one pointing out that the guys who actually knew Jesus disagreed that Paul was teaching exactly what Jesus meant.


If one believes the New Testament the one point of disagreement they had was over whether Christ's teachings could be shared with Gentiles. God intervened on the part of the Gentiles with Peter's dream.

If we dismiss the New Testament as tainted then you don't know what the 12 believed about anything. So again your own positions makes this point unsupportable or disputable. We jsut have nothing to go on other than your conjecture about what 1st Century Jews probably believed.

quote:
I don't need to show strong evidence of discrepancies between what Paul taught and the words that Paul's followers ascribed to Jesus' actual followers about what Jesus said--the narrative reads exactly how it reads--a guy who didn't know Jesus simply claimed the right to speak for him.

The natural assumption here isn't actually that Paul's doctrine is representative of what Jesus meant--such an idea is a relic of uncritical thought about history.


If one reads the narrative Paul claims to have had direct experience with the resurrected Christ,so if one accepts the narrative at face value this statement is wrong.

If we dismiss the New Testament outright we really have no way of knowing that Jesus wasn't every bit as hellenized as Paul. (And honestly considering the vast gaps we have in the gospels in Jesus's life we really don't know that Jesus wasn't as hellenized as Paul.)


quote:
Jesus and his followers were Jews. They didn't really mince Greek ideas into the things the Romans decided to insist they said. Paul was Jewish, but he was also a classically educated Roman, and he imposed a Hellenic set of morals and metaphysics on his teachings of the meaning of Jesus
This assertion is completely unprovable, even if you DID use the New Testament as a reference. And yes this is you asserting that Jesus was a more orthodox Jew than Paul.


quote:
The burden is actually on you, bub.
Because Christians must always debate on the defensive? I'm not arguing for Christian doctrine right now. I'm arguing that your argument in regards to Paul is inherently flawed. I'm attacking your argument. I'm not making any positive arguments about Christianity one way or the other. The burden is still on you.

The problem with debating you is you treat this like a game you're going to win at all costs. You never concede that you're making a flawed argument. You just try and reframe the debate so it looks like you were right all along.


quote:
Here's something funny for you: I can show you texts that demonstrate that Paul's ideas about the soul seem to mimic the words of Greek philosophers in their discourses on the soul. Can you show that Paul's ideas on the soul were mapped out by Jesus (even using the texts selected by Pauline followers)?
I would need to know what you think Paul's ideas about the soul were to even respond to this.

[ May 07, 2012, 10:46 AM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
You're actually making my exact point--Christians don't think critically about their beliefs, they choose to believe what they want to believe, and they use reason (or critical faculties) only to bolster the choice...

Which is exactly what you're doing with even less to go on.
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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Thanks for looking at the post. In respect, I would only suggest that you are applying a very narrow criterion for truth. I don't know if you are familiar with philosophy, but just in case, let's use a very popular notion of what constitutes truth. We'll use a basic idea from something called "Logical Positivism."

In a nutshell, Logical Positivism states this: "Something is true if, and only if, it can be, under some imaginable circumstance, empirically verified."

That puts the cart before the horse. I support empirical verification because it allows me to discover truth, I don't define truth as whatever it is that's supported by empirical verification -- after all people knew the difference between true statements and false statements far before they had the concept of the scientific method.

Here's my own definition of truth: "A statement 'X' is true if, and only if, X."

E.g. (example taken from the lesswrong wiki) "The statement 'snow is white' is true if, and only if, snow is white."

quote:
"Where is the maxim that all truth claims are empirically verifiable"
I don't believe that all truth claims are empirically verifiable. Empiricism is merely the best tool we have towards the discovery of truth, not the sole tool (Occam's razor is another such tool for example).

Also to confuse the truth with the discovery of the truth is a very basic map-territory confusion. Truth is the territory -- our discovery thereof is the map.

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:

But why would we assume that the texts accepted by the Pauline sect regarding the dispute between Saul and the actual disciples of Jesus are the ones that accurately represent the real dispute and the convenient (for Paul) resolution?

Because there is no evidence that the Apostles who did know Jesus opposed Pauline doctrine. There is no oral tradition or writings that contradict the version of the Council of Jerusalem that is presented by Luke in Acts. There is no evidence of a sudden schism between followers of the 12 and followers of Paul following the council. There are no writings or oral tradition that present a dissenting opinion among the 12 that is opposed to Paul's teaching.

The existing writings by the Apostolic fathers who may or may not have had contact with the original 12, sometimes differ on the lack of Greek philosophy that is so obvious in the Gospel of John, but basically fall in line with the synoptic gospels.

The opposing (critical) view is that Luke decided to leave out the true level of dissention between the leaders of the early jewish christians, and Paul. Luke spun the story, and buried the truth. If there existed opposing writings by those who knew Jesus, then those were buried and distroyed by early christian leaders who did so in order to better support their own view. The apostolic councils and the council of Nicaea destroyed and buried early christian writings by those who knew Jesus, that did not support Pauline doctrine.

Basically, the critical view is a cynical view. It falls in line with the concept that the authors of the snoptic gospels could not possible be presenting the ministry and sayings of Jesus with any kind of accuracy.

There are so many different aspects of what Paul taught, and how it built on the snyoptic gospels, that it is hard to seperate it all. According to the critical view, how exactly did Paul's teachings differ from the teachings presented in the synoptic gospels, or even the gnostic gospels? In terms of the greek philosphy, judaic hellinism, I can't dissagree. There certainly is a synthisis. It continues with Augustine and Aquinas. Augustine sythesized Plato, and Aquinas sythesized Aristotle.

Now I realize that you can argue that since Jesus never presented philosphical concepts, that Jesus would not agree with such concepts if you asked him about it. Most christians today do the same thing today, they synthesize the teachings of the OT and NT with modern scientific discoveries. The majority of Christians believe in evolution. Jesus and the authors of the OT did not touch on evolution in their teachings, which of course leads the minority of Christians to dispute evolution.

The lack of teaching on evolution does not mean that Jesus or Moses oppose evolution. The majority of Christians who believe that the teachings of Jesus are compatable of the science of evolution. Most Christians synthesize science and reason, and faith. In the same way, the early Christians tried to synthesize the NT with Philo, Plato, Aristotle, and Stoicism, since they were the dominant thinkers and schools of thought among the Greek and Roman world. But the point was to sythesize, not hijack.

You've brought up the concept of the immortal soul being contrary to traditional Judaic philosophy. But others have showed some evidence that the Jews did understand a concept of spirit at least. There is no doubt that Christianity presented some serious differences with traditional Judaism as of 30 AD. But at the time, Jews themselves did not agree on what constituted Judaism. Jesus was not exactly a traditionalist Jew when it came to his teachings.

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