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The Historical Jesus
Posted: 05 May 2012 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 196 ]
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>>Sounds to me like you’ve got nothing better to say than “you .. don’t understand”. <<

Except in this instance, it would appear that you don’t understand.

With the criterion of embarrassment, nobody is saying “This is ironclad, here endeth the discussion.” What they are speaking to are probabilities. No more and no less. In the absence of primary sources (Which is a really HUGE problem in trying to prove the existance of a historical Jesus in the first place since there aren’t any!) this is about the best that anybody can do.

Now if somebody wants to prove something as “Definate” then by all means, bring on the primary sources. Until then, we’re stuck with what’s probable and have to deal with the possibility that it’s all just plain wrong.

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Posted: 05 May 2012 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 197 ]
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Wow

Yep. Misquoting Jesus, the first of his books I read and one that helped start me down the road to atheism.

That amazes me.  Unless someone was a biblical literalist as a believer I don’t understand how any book by Ehrman would lead one to atheism.  I guess we all react differently.

It’s amazing that there’s still so much discussion on an historical Jesus.  I think the greatest stumbling block is the miracles.  Some folks can’t seperate the man from the miracles for purpose of examination, which is necessary for the historical method to be applied.

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Posted: 05 May 2012 04:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 198 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 05 May 2012 08:06 AM

>>Sounds to me like you’ve got nothing better to say than “you .. don’t understand”. <<

Except in this instance, it would appear that you don’t understand.

I’ll leave you in the playground. You seemed settled there.

Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 05 May 2012 08:06 AM

With the criterion of embarrassment, nobody is saying “This is ironclad, here endeth the discussion.” What they are speaking to are probabilities.

No, they are not. Such probabilities don’t enter into analysis of a complex tradition. They are speaking to unfalsifiable assertions on which to conjure up justifications for personal bias.

One needs epistemology, not hermeneutics.

Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 05 May 2012 08:06 AM

No more and no less. In the absence of primary sources (Which is a really HUGE problem in trying to prove the existance of a historical Jesus in the first place since there aren’t any!) this is about the best that anybody can do.

Now if somebody wants to prove something as “Definate” then by all means, bring on the primary sources. Until then, we’re stuck with what’s probable and have to deal with the possibility that it’s all just plain wrong.

[ Edited: 05 May 2012 04:44 PM by spin ]
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Posted: 05 May 2012 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 199 ]
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canuckzap - 04 May 2012 11:39 PM

A great error was made just a few posts ago. 

“Mark’s gospel shows us that Jesus was elected at baptism, “you are my son”. “

  The oldest version we have says “This is my son who this day I have begotten”, but because it is not found in any other copy it can not be considered primary.

Perhaps you should write to the editors of the Novum Testamentum Graece and tell them of your discovery. They still have the following Greek:

συ ει ο υιος μου ο αγαπητος
you are my beloved son

εν σοι ευδοκησα
in you I am well pleased

I’m sure your input will be greatly appreciated.

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Posted: 05 May 2012 05:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 200 ]
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TimONeill - 04 May 2012 11:21 PM
canuckzap - 04 May 2012 10:55 PM

Ehrman has 2 books which I treasure above the others.  The first is called “Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium”.  This actually explains the Historical Method and how it tests things.  It’s a good read, as it gives the groundwork for why scholars generally accept an historical Jesus.

People often ask me which book I’d recommend to get them started on the question of who and what Jesus was - I usually recommend Ehrman’s Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium.  Schweitzer, who was one of the first scholars to put Jesus back into his First Century Jewish context as a failed apocalyptic prophet, once famously noted that people trying to work out who Jesus really was tend to come to conclusions that suit their own biases and ideological agendas.  So liberal Protestant German clergy tended to “find” a Jesus rather like a liberal Protestant German clergyman and conservative Catholic theologians “found” one rather like a conservative Catholic theologian.

This is still going on.  Crossan and the others of the “Jesus Seminar” went to great lengths to arrive a Jesus who was a bit like them - a liberal social reformer.  Even the Mythicists, who generally don’t “find” any Jesus at all, conform to this.  The New Age kooky ones like “Acharya S” just happen to “find” a Jesus made up of some of the more palatable bits of paganism.  And the anti-Christian activist ones “find” a Jesus who is as non-existent as they can possibly sustain and so is useful for undermining the faith they are so keen to dislike (this includes the ones who claim to be “agnostic” on the matter).

For people who read this last parenthesis without knowing the writer, it should be realized that it is pure polemic (consider “ones who claim to be”). I don’t respect these sorts of imputations by unqualified mindreaders. They have as much validity as statements of truth by Dick Cheney.

If I am agnostic as to the reality of Robin Hood, would my integrity be questioned, as this writer does? Sitting at a computer he has no grounds or evidence to assert motives to me, for it is to me that he is referring. He has used such ad hominems on other forums.

Modern analyses that question the existence of Jesus stem from scholarly responses to Schweitzer. Today there are views that assert the historicity of Jesus, those that assert the mythical nature of Jesus, and those who look at the material on which both base their assertions and find nothing to justify either position. We don’t have to decide on things that aren’t sufficiently supported by evidence.

TimONeill - 04 May 2012 11:21 PM

But a Yeshua ben Yusef...

No early sources use the name Yeshua ben Yusef. There are funerary inscriptions in Greek from Palestine which have Jesus and Joseph. The use of eisegetical forms such as this helps obfuscate the sources we are trying to understand.

TimONeill - 04 May 2012 11:21 PM

...who was a failed apocalyptic preacher and who went on to become first the postmortem focus of a Messianic sect and then the deity of a gentile cult, doesn’t really serve any modern agenda.  He is simply what comes out of an objective analysis of the evidence.  The fact that he doesn’t reflect the scholars and others who conclude he existed is a good indication that he is very likely to be historical in the way the other competing, ideologically-driven interpretations are probably not.

These are the sorts of assertions we expect from people convinced by historical jesusism, converting conjecture into probability. When pushed enough, historical jesusism falls back on nothing more than an interpretation of Gal 1:19.

This certainly doesn’t mean that Jesus did not exist. We simply don’t have any means to decide one way or the other, given the nature of the tradition material we have to work from. We cannot tell if a particular datum in early christian literature is based on reality or not, unless we have external corroborative sources. It may or may not be based on reality, but there is no way to know. We cannot test the quality control of the gatherers of early christian tradition, but there is a lot of stuff that we can dismiss out of hand as so unlikely to reflect reality. Hence clearly no apparent quality control. One cannot assume what’s left meaningfully refers back to any reality, even though it may. We have an epistemological quandary, ie we have no way to know what is claimed to be known. Attempts to find a historical Jesus founder here.

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Posted: 05 May 2012 07:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 201 ]
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No, they are not. Such probabilities don’t enter into analysis of a complex tradition.

The historians who are doing the work say otherwise. Since they’re the trained professionals who know the ground, I’m inclined to go with it.

If you have a problem with it, take it up with them.

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Posted: 05 May 2012 09:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 202 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 05 May 2012 07:23 PM

No, they are not. Such probabilities don’t enter into analysis of a complex tradition.

The historians who are doing the work say otherwise. Since they’re the trained professionals who know the ground, I’m inclined to go with it.

If you have a problem with it, take it up with them.

Who? Historians like the dilettante Ehrman? (Good text scholar, mind you, but his credentialism makes him a hypocrite.) If you’re seriously interested in inquiry, you can’t accept hegemony.

[ Edited: 05 May 2012 09:50 PM by spin ]
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Posted: 05 May 2012 10:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 203 ]
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Who? Historians like the dilettante Ehrman?

Ehrman is not a dilletante, though I can see why you would hang that tag on anybody who doesn’t toe your line. However, the first scholar and historian I read who explained the criterion of dissimilarity was Dr. Paula Fredriksen. See http://www.bu.edu/religion/faculty/bios/fredriksen/ She is by no means a dilletante.

(Good text scholar, mind you, but his credentialism makes him a hypocrite.)

Ahhhhh…I get it, when you disagree with his position, just attack his morality.

Really sir (or ma’am) if I want to see that sort of nonsense, I just watch the next election.

You might try providing evidence to the effect if you think he’s mistaken. He very well could be. Quite possible when you have no primary sources to go by and can only point to differing probabilities, but you won’t “make yer case” by resorting to ad hominum.

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Posted: 05 May 2012 11:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 204 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 05 May 2012 10:09 PM

Who? Historians like the dilettante Ehrman?

Ehrman is not a dilletante, though I can see why you would hang that tag on anybody who doesn’t toe your line. However, the first scholar and historian I read who explained the criterion of dissimilarity was Dr. Paula Fredriksen. See http://www.bu.edu/religion/faculty/bios/fredriksen/ She is by no means a dilletante.

“Paula Fredriksen” seems to be the one name that everyone in rs forums falls back on, the one of these people who seems to have any substantive historical training. Now cite me people outside religious studies who natter on about the criterion of embarrassment employed in similarly untestable sources of such complexity.

Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 05 May 2012 10:09 PM

(Good text scholar, mind you, but his credentialism makes him a hypocrite.)

Ahhhhh…I get it, when you disagree with his position, just attack his morality.

You can get whatever you like. I respect Ehrman as a text scholar. His historical excursion appears to be a moneymaking exercise for lightweight audiences who know no better.

Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 05 May 2012 10:09 PM

Really sir (or ma’am) if I want to see that sort of nonsense, I just watch the next election.

You should read your responses to me: that’s quicker.

Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 05 May 2012 10:09 PM

You might try providing evidence to the effect if you think he’s mistaken. He very well could be. Quite possible when you have no primary sources to go by and can only point to differing probabilities, but you won’t “make yer case” by resorting to ad hominum.

You shouldn’t be hasty with accusations of “ad hominem”. You’ve already given me a few. If you are calling “ad hominem” my comment about Ehrman the dilettante historian, you don’t seem to have read what he says about Price and Thompson in his “Did Jesus Exist”. Pure hypocrisy, when Ehrman is not qualified or credentialed in history, yet is writing a book ostensibly on a historical topic.

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Posted: 06 May 2012 04:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 205 ]
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Sorry Spin, I’m not playing your game. So far, your approach with scholars/historians who disagree with you appears to be to cop a scornful and superior attitude as well as variations of the No True Scotsman fallacy (If youre a REAL rationalist, then fill in the blank) and attacks up their person or integrity to say nothing of the tu quoque fallacy (If you are calling “ad hominem” my comment about Ehrman the dilettante historian, you don’t seem to have read what he says about Price and Thompson in his “Did Jesus Exist”. Pure hypocrisy) rather then discuss their evidence and whether or not their conclusions are valid. Ehrman could very well be a hypocrit about something but that is NOT a justification for you to do the same.

If you think Ehrman is mistaken, I have no problem with that. Fredriksen could be mistaken, Crossen could be mistaken, any number of Old and New Testement scholars/historians (They really aren’t seperate as a practical matter and can’t be.) could ALL be mistaken….and YOU could be mistaken.

If you want to discuss evidence to one point of view or another, I’ll be happy to give you a hearing. (You may be right about something and I see that as a learning opportunity.)

If all you’re going to do is resort to the same silly name calling which politicians resort to in their usual games of mudslinging, because the man disagrees with you then I’m done with you.

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Posted: 06 May 2012 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 206 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 06 May 2012 04:39 AM

Sorry Spin, I’m not playing your game.

I’m sure you’d appreciate the irony of you saying this, if you thought about it somewhat objectively.

You may at some stage wish to talk about matters directly related to the thread topic and not continue to play the “my experts game”, the “I’m offended by your not playing by my rules game” and the “inappropriate labels game”. If you don’t really want to talk about the notion of a historical Jesus and the relevance of any theoretical tools for doing the job I will understand, but I won’t continue with the sort of pseudo-academic sideshow that follows.

I am interested in dealing with the subject, not with the incessant injection of opinions of other people who are not here to respond for themselves.

So far, your approach with scholars/historians who disagree with you appears to be to cop a scornful and superior attitude as well as variations of the No True Scotsman fallacy (If youre a REAL rationalist, then fill in the blank) and attacks up their person or integrity to say nothing of the tu quoque fallacy (If you are calling “ad hominem” my comment about Ehrman the dilettante historian, you don’t seem to have read what he says about Price and Thompson in his “Did Jesus Exist”. Pure hypocrisy) rather then discuss their evidence and whether or not their conclusions are valid. Ehrman could very well be a hypocrit about something but that is NOT a justification for you to do the same.

If you think Ehrman is mistaken, I have no problem with that. Fredriksen could be mistaken, Crossen could be mistaken, any number of Old and New Testement scholars/historians (They really aren’t seperate as a practical matter and can’t be.) could ALL be mistaken….and YOU could be mistaken.

If you want to discuss evidence to one point of view or another, I’ll be happy to give you a hearing. (You may be right about something and I see that as a learning opportunity.)

If all you’re going to do is resort to the same silly name calling which politicians resort to in their usual games of mudslinging, because the man disagrees with you then I’m done with you.

[ Edited: 06 May 2012 02:37 PM by spin ]
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Posted: 07 May 2012 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 207 ]
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I’m sure you’d appreciate the irony of you saying this, if you thought about it somewhat objectively.

I have looked at it objectively, and without resorting to attacking the credentials of the partisans in the debate.

The criterion of dissimilarity doesn’t deal with the complexity of a given tradition or story, it deals with the fact that it is bone jarringly out of place in a collection of traditions and because of that, may be authentic to the real person or persons behind the whole Jesus myth.

That’s it.

Nobody I know of is claiming it’s a certain sure thing, and any scholar/historian worth his or her salt knows that it could be wrong. It’s anything but perfect but until somebody finds primary sources buried in the sand somewhere (This is the Gold Standard for any historical inquiry) we’ll just have to make do.

Why is this so hard to understand?

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Posted: 07 May 2012 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 208 ]
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canuckzap - 05 May 2012 11:01 AM

Wow

Yep. Misquoting Jesus, the first of his books I read and one that helped start me down the road to atheism.

That amazes me.  Unless someone was a biblical literalist as a believer I don’t understand how any book by Ehrman would lead one to atheism.  I guess we all react differently.

Like I said, it started me down that road. I wouldn’t say I was a bible literalist because I never bought the creation & flood fables or much of the other epic tales of the OT. But I did accept nearly all of the NT and reading Erhman showed me clearly for the first time how the sausage was made, so to speak. Once I started doubting the veracity of the NT scriptures, things began to slowly unravel. If you can’t trust that your holy book contains truth, then there is little left of the religion other than going through the motions. So yes, reading that book was instrumental in the fact that I started out a fundamentalist christian and have now arrived here an unabashed atheist.

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Posted: 07 May 2012 11:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 209 ]
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Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 07 May 2012 08:05 AM

I’m sure you’d appreciate the irony of you saying this, if you thought about it somewhat objectively.

I have looked at it objectively, and without resorting to attacking the credentials of the partisans in the debate.

The irony is that you were complaining about games while playing quite a few yourself. The irony was naturally lost on you. Hence your claim of objectivity hasn’t been validated.

You are simply confused about the proceeding. I can happily ridicule Ehrman for being an ass about credentials, given that he has none in history. Your appeal to his use of hermeutics is a separate issue. In it you are merely appealing to authority and not giving any credibility to the criterion itself. Look, X uses it and so does Y. They might even use the same shampoo. It doesn’t help us with the criterion. I have shown two cases in which it has been applied and failed, the case of Nazareth and regarding the baptism. If you want to defend it, you need to show its validity. And that would be an interesting effort.

Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 07 May 2012 08:05 AM

The criterion of dissimilarity doesn’t deal with the complexity of a given tradition or story, it deals with the fact that it is bone jarringly out of place in a collection of traditions…

I’ve seen the way it is employed and you simply exaggerate with your term “bone jarring”. That’s for effect of course. Otherwise the flimsiness of the whole use of it draws a big yawn.

Traditions change. The changes can seem dramatic according to the preconceptions of the observer. It has nothing to do with the events on the ground.

Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 07 May 2012 08:05 AM

...and because of that, may be authentic to the real person or persons behind the whole Jesus myth.

I don’t understand why you feel the need to bring Jesus myth into this discussion. It only obfuscates what is going on. We are interested in the possible historicity of Jesus. One needs to mount the evidence for such historicity, not waste time looking

Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon - 07 May 2012 08:05 AM

That’s it.

Nobody I know of is claiming it’s a certain sure thing, and any scholar/historian worth his or her salt knows that it could be wrong. It’s anything but perfect but until somebody finds primary sources buried in the sand somewhere (This is the Gold Standard for any historical inquiry) we’ll just have to make do.

Why is this so hard to understand?

It’s not. It’s just that you have missed the discussion totally. Personal feelings of probability (which is behind your thought here) are subjective and don’t have any impact on giving Jesus historicity. Both historicists and mythicists fail to understand that the evidence that is available does not unveil what came before, as it has all been mashed into christian tradition and, once you remove the fantasist dross, such as raisings of dead and walking on waters, you are left with a bland pap that doesn’t provide any clues as to the veracity of the material. And the mythicists and historicists say, “that doesn’t matter; I have my ontology; who needs an epistemology? My opponents are wrong anyway.”

I’ve recently said elsewhere, until you can show how you know what you know, you don’t actually know anything. We don’t have any keys to help us discriminate regarding the remnant christian tradition.

Here is a cut-and-paste from another of my discussions:

Imagine you are standing in a church that has a poor box. The only other people there, two of them, are standing huddled in front of it with their backs to you—call them Mythicist Writer and Realist Writer. You hear two coins thud as they fall into the box one at a time and they walk off. You go over and peer in (it has perspex sides). How do you decide which coin was dropped by Mythicist Writer and which by Realist Writer or worse if only one of them dropped both coins? This is the basic problem facing you with the evidence concerning Jesus. There is no way available to anyone of distinguishing real factoids from bogus ones once they have entered the tradition.

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