Ancient Historical Writing as the Atheist's Inerrant Scripture


One of my projects this week has been an examination of claims by one of the supposedly better-educated atheist critics out there. I'm finding that, as usual, even when they have degrees, the education these folks have pretty much stops at the tip of their own noses.


One of the arguments made by this character is that the Gospels don't deserve our trust because they lack certain features of what they take to be reliable histories. For example, they quote the following from Dionysius of Halicarnassus:


For perhaps readers who are already familiar with Hieronymus, Timaeus,
Polybius, or any other historian that I mentioned a short while ago as being careless in their works, when they do not find many things in my own writings that are mentioned in theirs, will suspect me of fabricating them, and will want to know where I learned of such things. Lest anyone should hold such an opinion of me, it seems better that I should state in advance what narratives and records I have used as sources.


According to this critic, the Gospels would have a lot more credibility if they included stuff like this where the authors discuss their sources.


Yeah, right. If you believe for one minute that any atheist would suddenly give the Gospels more credibility if only Matthew or Luke or whoever had gone on some skein like the one above, I have some land here in Florida to sell you. It's a great deal, you just have to evict the giant mouse living there right now.


That's the most obvious problem, but here are a few more. The first is that this amounts to a ridiculous argument that no author has e.g., made use of sources unless they say something like the above. The second is that while an author like Dionysius had plenty of scratch available to publish their works, the authors of the Gospels generally did not -- especially because they were publishing for a mass audience, whereas Dionysus was publishing for a small group of like-minded peers. I have yet to see an atheist critic take any serious accounting of the fact that this wasn't a world where you could pop down to Office Depot and buy a ream of paper for $5.59. This was a world where paper (or parchment or whatever) was an expensive luxury. Yet they have a fit when the Gospel authors don't expend their limited resources to lay out what amounts to methodological window dressing.


The last problem I'll note, though, is the most significant one, and it indicates a blind spot in atheist critics that is as serious as that of a KJV-Only fundamentalist. Basically, atheist critics often take a profession of critical examination (like the one above by Dionysius) and turn it into a citation from inerrant Scripture. You've seen it before: For example, all Carl Sagan had to do was babble, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," and suddenly he became a deity who could say and do no wrong, not even when it comes to his screwed-up history of the Library of Alexandria.


What escapes such critics is that a statement like the above is anything but a profession of objectivity and careful source-filtering. Basically, here's what it is really for: Dionysius is covering his backside in case he is called a liar. He is concerned about his personal honor, which was the primo #1 concern of members of honor-shame societies. What the critic takes to be an explanation by Dionysius of historical rigor is actually little more than an extended pre-emptive exercise in covering his own posterior and protecting his honor rating, and that undoubtedly from peers all too willing to savage it in a context where honor was seen as a zero-sum game.


There were plenty of other motives for Dionysius to say stuff like this, and a cynic who treated his work like the critics treat the Gospels might be apt to pull those out also. The basic description of Dionysius' work indicates that Dionysius "states that his objects in writing history were to please lovers of noble deeds and to repay the benefits he had enjoyed in Rome." Read that through the lens of that social world, and it amounts to him writing as a way to repay the favor shown to him by his patrons or others from whom he had received benefits. Put in a nutshell, his history was a work of quid pro quo.


The standard description also says that one of Dionysius' purposes was to "reconcile Greeks to Roman rule." That sure sounds like an objective measure, doesn't it? Sort of like, a 19th century slave owner writing tales of how happy all the slaves were as a way to "reconcile" their chattel to slavery. Yes, using that logic, we definitely have someone here who was writing the A-1 Steak Sauce Objective History of Rome, don't we?


In light of all that, it's more than a little laughable when critics downgrade the Gospels for being documents meant to encourage faith in Christ. Dionysius was writing for people who wanted to hear things they wanted to hear; a cynic might argue that he was under what amounted to a censor's control and that his history was therefore to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Therefore, it could be argued, his work is entirely untrustworthy. If anything, if we follow this logic to the end, the Gospels are clearly more objective histories than those of Dionysius, because at least the authors don't fill their text with a lot of self-serving descriptions of how gloriously competent they were, and they also at least were not in the pay of some patron who wanted them to make the local home team smell like a rose garden in order to placate the guys who were being compelled to spade the manure.


I'm not actually arguing that, of course. But I am pointing out just how easy it is to allow your ideology to govern the discussion. And that's exactly what atheist critics do when they complain that the Gospels deserve an F because e.g., they don't imitate Dionysius' self-serving rhetoric.



Comments

Anonymous said…
Why so coy about naming this "supposedly better-educated atheist critic"?

JPH: The first is that this amounts to a ridiculous argument that no author has e.g., made use of sources unless they say something like the above. The second is that while an author like Dionysius had plenty of scratch available to publish their works, the authors of the Gospels generally did not -- especially because they were publishing for a mass audience, whereas Dionysus was publishing for a small group of like-minded peers.

Part of the problem is that we have no way to separate hearsay from eye witness account. Some we can be sure of; no one imagines the author of Matthew witnessed the virgin birth. Did he personally see Jesus in Jerusalem after the resurrection, or is he repeating hearsay there too? Do you really think that makes no different to the reliability of the report?

JPH: This was a world where paper (or parchment or whatever) was an expensive luxury.

These guys were writing scripture that would be considered sacred through the ages, but you think they kept their accounts short to save on cash? It is a pity they did not have some all-powerful God aiding them. Oh wait...

JPH: Basically, here's what it is really for: Dionysius is covering his backside in case he is called a liar.

Yes he is. Academic papers even today are couched the same way, at least in part for the same reason. Sources are cited, opinions are expressed tentatively.

However, none of this devalues the work published.

JPH: The standard description also says that one of Dionysius' purposes was to "reconcile Greeks to Roman rule." That sure sounds like an objective measure, doesn't it?

No, it does not (as I am sure you agree). So what? That is a good reason to distrust Dionysius. And not a reason to put trust in the gospels.

JPH: But I am pointing out just how easy it is to allow your ideology to govern the discussion.

Heaven forbid any Christian should ever do that...

JPH: And that's exactly what atheist critics do when they complain that the Gospels deserve an F because e.g., they don't imitate Dionysius' self-serving rhetoric.

Fact is, self-serving rhetoric is more convincing when supported by evidence, and when the sources of evidence are provided. I may disagree with him, but I respect Joe for putting references in his posts; it allows other to verify his sources.

Compare to, well, this post, which carefully avoids even naming the "supposedly better-educated atheist critic"...
J. P Holding said…
>>>Why so coy about naming this "supposedly better-educated atheist critic"?

Why do you care? Is your life that boring? This from a guy who posts as "Anonymous". Maybe your drivers' license says "John X. Hypocrite."

>>>>Part of the problem is that we have no way to separate hearsay from eye witness account.

No, the problem is that this blithering disposal of "hearsay" is based on a totally imaginary problem based on Thomas Paine's horrifying ignorance. Try to think your way past that paper bag you live in. Who are the obvious witnesses to e.g., a virgin birth? Mary. Duh. Is she available as a source? Yes. Duh. Do you need everything spelled out for you in that much simplicity? How much assistance do you need feeding yourself?

>>>Do you really think that makes no different to the reliability of the report?

Yep. It's a totally invented problem courtesy of Thomas Paine, the guy who thought the bottom of his rum bottle was his best scholarly source.

>>>These guys were writing scripture that would be considered sacred through the ages, but you think they kept their accounts short to save on cash? It is a pity they did not have some all-powerful God aiding them. Oh wait...

(snore) That old canard. Next you'll ask why an all-powerful God doesn't change your TV channel or wipe for you on the toilet. Grow up.


>>>Yes he is. Academic papers even today are couched the same way, at least in part for the same reason. Sources are cited, opinions are expressed tentatively. However, none of this devalues the work published.

Nor does it devalue it if said butt-covering is lacking. Thank you for conceding just how meaningless that whole argument is.

>>>No, it does not (as I am sure you agree). So what? That is a good reason to distrust Dionysius. And not a reason to put trust in the gospels.

Not an unpredictable response. You'd flush all of history down the toilet just to preserve skepticism towards the Gospels. That's ideology at work.

>>>Heaven forbid any Christian should ever do that...

As long as I don't, who cares, bonehead?

>>>Fact is, self-serving rhetoric is more convincing when supported by evidence, and when the sources of evidence are provided.

Fact is, idiots like you raise the bar of "evidence" arbitrarily high to suit your purposes.

>>> Compare to, well, this post, which carefully avoids even naming the "supposedly better-educated atheist critic"...

You said it...."Anonymous". Moron. :D
Joe Hinman said…
the whole problem could have been avoided if they had just had footnotes.

you have a good point JP, The list of sources thing is not as objective as it seems,It's not foot notes. There is a difference in culture between the authors being compared. That has to be taken into account.

Joe Hinman said…
These guys were writing scripture that would be considered sacred through the ages, but you think they kept their accounts short to save on cash? It is a pity they did not have some all-powerful God aiding them. Oh wait...

No they weren't. They had no idea that's why they were writing. For them scripture was the Torah and Tenach and it was unthinkable that any other scripture would be put with it especially their writings. They were just distilling teachings for their local communities.

Part of the problem is that we have no way to separate hearsay from eye witness account. Some we can be sure of; no one imagines the author of Matthew witnessed the virgin birth. Did he personally see Jesus in Jerusalem after the resurrection, or is he repeating hearsay there too? Do you really think that makes no different to the reliability of the report?

we do know from Luke that they had a community that began living communally and that they studied Hebrew scripture to find prophetic backing for the events of Jesus life, that the community included eye witnesses, and that Luke consulted previous accounts associated with the group. We know they had input from the Apostles.
Joe Hinman said…
Fact is, self-serving rhetoric is more convincing when supported by evidence, and when the sources of evidence are provided. I may disagree with him, but I respect Joe for putting references in his posts; it allows other to verify his sources.

Compare to, well, this post, which carefully avoids even naming the "supposedly better-educated atheist critic"...


thanks buddy i appreciate that. The problem is the people who wrote the Gospels had the limitations they had. God didn't choose the great thinkers of the age to tell the story. He chose the people who wanted to tell it and who were there.
Anonymous said…
JH: No they weren't. They had no idea that's why they were writing. For them scripture was the Torah and Tenach and it was unthinkable that any other scripture would be put with it especially their writings. They were just distilling teachings for their local communities.

From an atheist position, I agree. These guys were not historians, likely had to particular training or experience of the sort of writing, and as you say, they would not have considered what they wrote to be scripture. But that is not what Christianity claims. Christians usually claim that the Bible was inspired by God, that it is, in some sense, "The Word of God". Did God not know these works would still be in use 2000 years later?

JH: we do know from Luke that they had a community that began living communally and that they studied Hebrew scripture to find prophetic backing for the events of Jesus life, that the community included eye witnesses, and that Luke consulted previous accounts associated with the group. We know they had input from the Apostles.

Apostles or disciples? Paul was an apostle, and he never met Jesus.

With regards to "they studied Hebrew scripture to find prophetic backing for the events of Jesus life", this is actually quite damning to your cause. Some scholars maintain that the events of the passion narrative were built up from verses in scripture, rather than what anyone actually saw. The disciples fled Jerusalem, and so none actually saw what happened to Jesus; they just made it up from the Old Testament. As Paul says, Jesus rose on the third day according to scripture, not according to what anyone actually saw.

JH: The problem is the people who wrote the Gospels had the limitations they had. God didn't choose the great thinkers of the age to tell the story. He chose the people who wanted to tell it and who were there.

And God was unable to guide them to do it properly, it would seem.
Joe Hinman said…
Anonymous said...
JH: No they weren't. They had no idea that's why they were writing. For them scripture was the Torah and Tenach and it was unthinkable that any other scripture would be put with it especially their writings. They were just distilling teachings for their local communities.

I have qualify my statement,the canon wasn't closed on the OT in Jesus' day they did value documents we don't include but the general body of work was there.

From an atheist position, I agree. These guys were not historians, likely had to particular training or experience of the sort of writing, and as you say, they would not have considered what they wrote to be scripture. But that is not what Christianity claims. Christians usually claim that the Bible was inspired by God, that it is, in some sense, "The Word of God". Did God not know these works would still be in use 2000 years later?

that doesn't mean they knew they were writing the Gospels

JH: we do know from Luke that they had a community that began living communally and that they studied Hebrew scripture to find prophetic backing for the events of Jesus life, that the community included eye witnesses, and that Luke consulted previous accounts associated with the group. We know they had input from the Apostles.

Apostles or disciples? Paul was an apostle, and he never met Jesus.

in that previous utterance when I refer to Apostles I mean the original 12 minus Judas.

With regards to "they studied Hebrew scripture to find prophetic backing for the events of Jesus life", this is actually quite damning to your cause. Some scholars maintain that the events of the passion narrative were built up from verses in scripture, rather than what anyone actually saw.




The disciples fled Jerusalem, and so none actually saw what happened to Jesus; they just made it up from the Old Testament. As Paul says, Jesus rose on the third day according to scripture, not according to what anyone actually saw.

JH: The problem is the people who wrote the Gospels had the limitations they had. God didn't choose the great thinkers of the age to tell the story. He chose the people who wanted to tell it and who were there.

Real scholars don't say that,Atheists on message boards do. because the non scholars assume the writers were looking for a model and cant think for themselves. The scholars know the way Hebrews really thought, they could compare real events to scripture they would not just make up the events to fit scripture.

there are two old independent traditions, one correlates with psalms the other is synoptic, they both cover the same events, there;s is obviously an original set of events that is the basis of the narrative.



And God was unable to guide them to do it properly, it would seem.

that's a meaningless statement. you seem to be saying God id't tell them about foot notes,no he seems this thing about letting us do stuff ourselves. alsmost like he wants us to be human.
J. P Holding said…
The Anonymous Hypocrite is still a fundamentalist. His whole rendition of how the Bible should have been written is just a brick shy of the automatic writing of KJV Onlyism. No wonder he's a moron.
Anonymous said…
JH: that doesn't mean they knew they were writing the Gospels

No, but that was not my point. I am saying God knew, and God was inspiring them to write the "Word of God" (according to Christianity). I am not asking why the gospel writers wrote as they did, I am asking why God had them do it that way.

JH: Real scholars don't say that,Atheists on message boards do. because the non scholars assume the writers were looking for a model and cant think for themselves. The scholars know the way Hebrews really thought, they could compare real events to scripture they would not just make up the events to fit scripture.

Some scholars do.

Helmut Koester: Features of the passion narrative that are developed from passages of the Old Testament reveal their scriptural origin still more clearly. For example, Gos. Pet. 16 says, "Give him gall to drink with vingar"; this feature is developed from Ps 68:22.

See also:
Donahue concludes that the passion narrative was generated from Scripture passages such as Isaiah 53, Zecharia, and the psalms of the suffering righteous. ... Mack considers the Markan passion nattative a scribal fabrication, generated from psalms and other passages.
Similarly, J.D. Crossan concludes the disciples knew only that Jesus had been crucified outside Jerusalem by a conjuction of Jewish and Roman authorities. The disciples then applied Scripture to this bare-bones knowledge and began to generate the passion narrative.


JH: there are two old independent traditions, one correlates with psalms the other is synoptic, they both cover the same events, there;s is obviously an original set of events that is the basis of the narrative.

Agreed. And at least some scholars believe that comes from scripture, not from winesses.

Pix
Joe Hinman said…
Anonymous said...
JH: that doesn't mean they knew they were writing the Gospels

No, but that was not my point. I am saying God knew, and God was inspiring them to write the "Word of God" (according to Christianity). I am not asking why the gospel writers wrote as they did, I am asking why God had them do it that way.

we would have to be God to know that. But I think part of the problem is the expectations you might bring to the text in thinking about what inspiration means. I wish you would read my thing on Biblical inspiration.

JH: Real scholars don't say that,Atheists on message boards do. because the non scholars assume the writers were looking for a model and cant think for themselves. The scholars know the way Hebrews really thought, they could compare real events to scripture they would not just make up the events to fit scripture.

Some scholars do.

name them, name their works.

Helmut Koester: Features of the passion narrative that are developed from passages of the Old Testament reveal their scriptural origin still more clearly. For example, Gos. Pet. 16 says, "Give him gall to drink with vingar"; this feature is developed from Ps 68:22.


Koester does not believe that they made up the story to fit those passages,that is not what he;s saying. They look at what happened to Jesus and find passages that seem to fit to quote in reference to it. They don't look at the psalm, and say "here's one with drinking vinegar I'll say they gave him vinegar on the cross."

See also:
Donahue concludes that the passion narrative was generated from Scripture passages such as Isaiah 53, Zecharia, and the psalms of the suffering righteous. ... Mack considers the Markan passion nattative a scribal fabrication, generated from psalms and other passages.
Similarly, J.D. Crossan concludes the disciples knew only that Jesus had been crucified outside Jerusalem by a conjuction of Jewish and Roman authorities. The disciples then applied Scripture to this bare-bones knowledge and began to generate the passion narrative.

give me a link to them saying that I bet that is not what they say. that is not the say textual criticism works.

JH: there are two old independent traditions, one correlates with psalms the other is synoptic, they both cover the same events, there;s is obviously an original set of events that is the basis of the narrative.

Agreed. And at least some scholars believe that comes from scripture, not from winesses.

Pix

No theydon;t, not what scholars are saying,

4/01/2017 07:14:00 AM Delete
Joe Hinman said…
when Raymon Brown argued in death of the Messiah that Peter is is not derived from Matthew because it follows the psalms he i snot saying they made up the story to fit the pslam. He was saying no one copies ms a piece at a time so they had to have another source that didn't follow a matt,

You miss my point, they both have the same historical facts but one derived them from making up ideas accordion to random passes in psalms? UT THEY GET THE SAME ELEMENT? that MEANS THEY HAD TO HAVE AN ORIGINAL NARRATIVE THEY BOTH FOLLOWED,
J. P Holding said…
Now he's piping for the moronic "they based it on the Old Testament" routine??? Good grief. Grow up and read some social science scholarship, it's just the opposite. They sought out texts that they thought related to the events after the fact.

That's how stupid you get when you follow the Farrell Till School.
im-skeptical said…
I think that the provenance of a story becomes more important when the document in question purports to be an eye-witness account or relates the story of an eye-witness.

It would seem that a master librarian such as yourself would know that what historians typically like to see as an indicator of historical reliability is a multiplicity of sources. And that implies having different sources that don't refer back to a common origin.
J. P Holding said…
Isn't that nice. Then idiots like the type you are parodying say that anyone can just get provenance info, or use it if they've been there before; then they dismiss it is as irrelevant to whether the document is historically accurate.

This "master librarian" knows every trick and excuse fundy atheists like the you parody use. That's why I also know that while historians appreciate more sources, it's gravy on top and not required to accept claims as historical. You were right to qualify by saying "LIKE". Of course they like it. But they don't ashcan a single source by reason of it being a single source.

Can you also do a parody of Donald Trump?
im-skeptical said…
it's gravy on top and not required to accept claims as historical
- Actually, corroboration is more than just "gravy". It is a key element of historical verification. Here is a chart for students of history. Notice the section on corroboration. Whole you're at it, you might want to pay attention to the rest of what this chart tells you, because from what I see, this is ALL new to you.


Can you also do a parody of Donald Trump?
- You're doing a fine job of it. All bluster - no content.


Joe Hinman said…
m-skeptical said...
it's gravy on top and not required to accept claims as historical
- Actually, corroboration is more than just "gravy". It is a key element of historical verification. Here is a chart for students of history. Notice the section on corroboration. Whole you're at it, you might want to pay attention to the rest of what this chart tells you, because from what I see, this is ALL new to you.

We have tons of corroboration for the Gospel narratives. 8 levels of verification
im-skeptical said…
We have tons of corroboration for the Gospel narratives. 8 levels of verification

How can so much evidence be so unconvincing?
JBsptfn said…
IMS
How can so much evidence be so unconvincing?


When you are a biased fundy atheist, that's how. You never refute anything. You just use scientism as a barometer to judge the Gospels and Christ's resurrection.
im-skeptical said…
When you are a biased fundy atheist, that's how. You never refute anything. You just use scientism as a barometer to judge the Gospels and Christ's resurrection.

Yeah. As I said: "Scientism!" they shout. "Atheists just don't see the whole story. They are blind to the truth. They are idiots". See my post on Refried Epistemology.
Anonymous said…
JBsptfn: When you are a biased fundy atheist, that's how. You never refute anything. You just use scientism as a barometer to judge the Gospels and Christ's resurrection.

Ah the shrill cry of "scientism". Where would Christianity be without it? Perhaps what we need to do is forget science, and think instead of law. What evidence is there for the resurrection that would stand up in a court of law? Let's looking at Joe's eight levels, shall we?

1. The original pre-Mark redaction, except we do not actually have it, we just have theories of what it contained, and that could have been derived from scripture, rather than witness account.

2. The Pauline corpus (which Joe counts as 3 levels), although Paul saw only a bright light, and his letters are sufficiently vague that some use them to suggest Jesus never even existed.

3. Extra canonical Gospels such as Peter and Thomas that were even rejected by the church.

4. Oral tradition, that is now entirely lost to us (besides what we can guess at from other things in this list).

5. The Gospels themselves, all of which can be traced back to 1 account. And that we know got edited at later dates (eg ending of Mark and the Pericope Adulterae), so who knows how they changed before that. Plus, we have Mark and Peter saying Jesus went ahead of the disciples to Galilee, and the later works contradicting that to claim actually Jesus saw the disciples in Jerusalem.

Now, which of these would stand up in a court of law to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus was walking around Jerusalem after being crucified do you think?

Pix
J. P Holding said…

"Actually, corroboration is more than just 'gravy'. It is a key element of historical verification."

It's both, but as a parody of a fundy atheist you would of course act like there isn't any difference. Good imitation!

>>> Here is a chart for students of history. Notice the section on corroboration.

Yes, of course, it says absolutely nothing about it being required or you throw a source out, it's just a bare list of options. Very good parody. A fundy atheist would simply read the chart like a fundy and assume each element has exactly the same value and necessity.

>>>this is ALL new to you.

Nah, old news. Your act is also getting a little stale, but it's not your fault, fundy atheists have stale brains by nature. Maybe you could add a new dimension, like becoming a 9-11 truther?
J. P Holding said…
>>Now, which of these would stand up in a court of law to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus was walking around Jerusalem after being crucified do you think?

Of course it helps a whole lot to stack the deck by making up your own literary evolution of the process. But please be less stupider: Historical documents in a court of law would not be the entirety of a hypothetical trial. Moron.
im-skeptical said…
Yes, of course, it says absolutely nothing about it being required or you throw a source out, it's just a bare list of options. Very good parody. A fundy atheist would simply read the chart like a fundy and assume each element has exactly the same value and necessity.

Clearly, you are no historian. I didn't say it was an absolute requirement. However, independent corroboration lends credibility to a historical account, and without it, there may be reason to doubt its veracity. Especially in the case of the gospels, which have unknown provenance, which make extraordinary claims of supernatural events, which are known to be revised, which contain significant disagreements about various events, which show a distinct evolution of the narrative when you look at them in chronological order of authorship. If a real historian takes all these factors into account, he would be well justified to conclude that the historical accuracy of these accounts is highly dubious at best.
Joe Hinman said…
Skep your basic support for corroboration is absolutely right from a historiographical standpoint. But JP is essentially correct in that the original text is not an example of using other sources to corroborate so much as it is name dropping.
J. P Holding said…
>>>Clearly, you are no historian.

But I am well-schooled!

>>>I didn't say it was an absolute requirement. However, independent corroboration lends credibility to a historical account,

That's exactly what I said! It's gravy. Better be careful, your parody is wearing off.

>>> and without it, there may be reason to doubt its veracity.

Yeah! Good job following up with the usual laundry list of fundy atheist sound bite canards there. That's a little more in line with the parody. I'll play along for funsies.


>>>Especially in the case of the gospels, which have unknown provenance,

No they don't. I kicked that to sleep in Trusting the New Testament.


>>>>which make extraordinary claims of supernatural events

Nah. False dichotomy; no such thing as the supernatural, that's an invented category. Extraordinary = subjective and is just Hume fumes talking, go read John Earman/

>>>which are known to be revised,

Not significantly and not in any important way. Shown in TNT, again.

>>>which contain significant disagreements about various events,

Nope that's just a fundy atheist soundbite. They contain much less alleged disagreement than even 4 modern bios of Lincoln do.


>>>which show a distinct evolution of the narrative when you look at them in chronological order of authorship.


Nah, for one thing the idiots you parody have the chronology wrong and also just make up crap about alleged behind the scenes activity that is supposedly what these "evolved" texts are showing. Booooring.

>>>If a real historian takes all these factors into account,

I don't know of any historian who does who wasn't a committed atheist first. Actually the last time real historians looked at stuff like Q and Marcan priority, they laughed their butts off. Anyway, you get a B for the parody this time. Good job rattling off generalist soundbites but you almost caved and admitted I was right about something. Pay closer attention or you won't be believable as a parody any more.
Don McIntosh said…
"Moron."

I have to disagree here, JP. Pix (like IM Skeptical) may be wrong, even tragically wrong, but he seems pretty intelligent to me, hardly deserving of the label "moron."
J. P Holding said…
"...but he seems pretty intelligent to me..."

Oh?

"Part of the problem is that we have no way to separate hearsay from eye witness account.

"These guys were writing scripture that would be considered sacred through the ages, but you think they kept their accounts short to save on cash? It is a pity they did not have some all-powerful God aiding them. Oh wait."

"That is a good reason to distrust Dionysius. And not a reason to put trust in the gospels."

"Heaven forbid any Christian should ever do that..."

Do you think you can convince him to go back to that mode? Because right now it looks like someone needs to exorcise Farrell Till or DarkMatter2525 from his body.


Anonymous said…
JPH: Now he's piping for the moronic "they based it on the Old Testament" routine??? Good grief. Grow up and read some social science scholarship, it's just the opposite. They sought out texts that they thought related to the events after the fact.

I am currently reading "Ancient Christian Gospels", by Helmut Koester, a book Joe cites often. From page 224:

"One can assume that the only historical information about Jesus' suffering, crucifixion, and death was that he was condemned to death by Pilate and crucified. The details and individual scenes of the narrative do not rest on historical memory, but were developed on the basis of allegorical interpretation of scripture."

Wiki describes Koester:

Helmut Koester (December 18, 1926 – January 1, 2016) was a German-born American scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School. His research was primarily in the areas of New Testament interpretation, history of early Christianity, and archaeology of the early Christian period.

Apparently this respected scholar of the New Testament is also "piping for the moronic "they based it on the Old Testament" routine" if we believe the librarian...

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