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What Did Paul Know About Jesus? Not Much.

Apostle Paul in primitive styleFor being the founder of Christianity, Paul knew surprisingly little about Jesus.

Paul is our first and, for that reason, potentially our most reliable source of information on the life of Jesus. Let’s sift Paul’s writings for information about Jesus.

If we were to do this with the gospels, we’d have a long list—the story of Jesus turning water into wine, walking on water, raising Lazarus, the Prodigal Son story, curious events like his cursing the fig tree, and so on. But what information about Jesus does Paul give us?

We’ll start with that well-known passage from 1 Corinthians 15.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor. 15:3–8)

This tells us that

1. Jesus died “for our sins.”

2. Jesus was resurrected from the dead three days later, in fulfillment of prophecy.

3. Jesus made many post-resurrection appearances.

Though 1 Corinthians was written perhaps 20 years after the death of Jesus, some scholars argue that this 3-sentence passage was written with a different style and so is an early creed that preceded Paul’s writing, taking us back closer to the earliest disciples. Others use the same logic to argue the opposite conclusion: that it was a later scribal addition. (Our oldest copy of this passage comes from our earliest complete Bibles, written in about 350. That’s three centuries of party time during which changes could’ve been made.)

First, we’ll sift through Paul’s epistles to find confirmation of these first claims.

1. Confirmed—many verses report that Jesus was a sacrifice (see Rom. 3:25, 5:6–8, 8:3; 1 Cor. 5:7; and more). The passage above does not contain the word “Jesus,” but many other Pauline verses combine “Jesus” and “Christ.”

2. Confirmed: many verses report that Jesus was raised from the dead (see 1 Cor. 15:20; Rom. 1:4, 4:24; 2 Cor. 4:14; and more). Note, however, that there is no confirmation of the three days or the scriptural prophecy.

3. Not Confirmed: I could find no confirmation of the post-resurrection appearances in Paul’s epistles.

What other biographical details about Jesus can we find in Paul?

4. He was crucified: “we preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23; also 1 Cor. 2:2, Gal. 3:1, 2 Cor. 13:4, and more).

5. He was a descendant of David: “his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David” (Rom. 1:3).

6. He was betrayed: “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed” (1 Cor. 11:23; also 2 Tim. 2:8).

7. He asked that his followers eat bread and drink wine in remembrance of him (1 Cor. 11:23–6).

8. Jesus was killed by Jews: “the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus” (1 Thes. 2:14–15)

We can go further afield, into books that are almost universally rejected as authored by Paul. For example, 1 Tim. 6:13 places the trial of Jesus during the rule of Pontius Pilate, and Heb. 5:5 gives an adoptionist view of Jesus (that is, Jesus was a man adopted by God).

By the way, this list comes from my own search. Please point out any omissions.

If we stick to the reliably Pauline works and assume the authenticity of 1 Cor. 15, here is the Gospel of Paul:

Jesus died for our sins by crucifixion and was then raised from the dead three days later, according to prophecy. He was seen by many after the resurrection. He was a descendant of David, he was betrayed, he defined a bread and wine ritual for his followers, and the Jews killed him.

The End.

The Gospel of Paul is one brief paragraph. It arguably has the most important element—death as a sacrifice for our sins and resurrection—but very little else.

No parables of the sheep and the goats, or the prodigal son, or the rich man and Lazarus, or the lost sheep, or the good Samaritan. In fact, no Jesus as teacher at all.

No driving out evil spirits, or healing the invalid at Bethesda, or cleansing the lepers, or raising Lazarus, or other healing miracles. As far as Paul tells us, Jesus performed no miracles at all.

No virgin birth, no Sermon on the Mount, no feeding the 5000, no public ministry, no cleansing the temple, no final words, and no Great Commission. Paul doesn’t even place Jesus within history—there’s nothing to connect Jesus with historical figures like Caesar Augustus, King Herod, or Pontius Pilate.

Perhaps everyone to whom Paul wrote his letters knew all this already? Okay, but presumably they already knew about the crucifixion, and Paul mentions that 13 times. And the resurrection, which Paul mentions 14 times.

Paul indirectly admits that he knew of no Jesus miracles.

Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:22–3)

Why “a stumbling block”? Jesus did lots of miraculous “signs”—why didn’t Paul convince the Jews with these? Paul apparently didn’t know any. The Jesus of Paul is not the miracle worker that we see in the Jesus of the gospels.

But perhaps the problem is Jews demanding actual miracles performed in front of them, not merely stories of miracles. That shouldn’t be a problem either. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12). And, indeed, Luke (that is, the author of both Luke and Acts) reports that this happened. Peter healed a lame man (Acts 3:1–8) and raised a woman from the dead (Acts 9:36–42), Philip exorcised demons to heal people (Acts 8:5–8), and “the apostles performed many signs and wonders” (Acts 5:12).

Again, the Jesus of Paul isn’t the Jesus of the gospels. Robert Price questions whether Paul even imagined an earthly Jesus (Bible Geek podcast for 10/3/12 @ 1:15:10). I’ve written more about the evolution of the Jesus story here.

What would Paul have said about the philosophical issues that divided the church for centuries? These don’t mean much to most of us today because they’ve long been decided, but they were divisive in their day—whether Jesus was subordinate to God or not, whether Jesus had a human body or not, whether he had a human nature or not, whether he had two wills or not, whether the Holy Spirit was part of the Godhead, and so on. No one knows how Paul would have resolved them or even if they crossed his mind.

The Gospel of Paul is more evidence that the Jesus story is a legend that grew with time.

Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed.
Faith must trample underfoot
all reason, sense, and understanding.
— Martin Luther

Photo credit: Wikimedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Is it possible that you could write such a long and detailed analysis and miss the biggest factor in the whole question of what Paul knew about Jesus?

    You didn’t mention the Acts of the Apostles which even the most liberal scholars consider both one of the earliest books of the NT and the most historically accurate. It records that Paul was a traveling companion of the evangelists Luke and Mark, that he knew and consulted with Peter, James and John and the other apostles, and his knowing them personally is corroborated by Paul’s own writings.

    Why did you not mention the Acts of the Apostles?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Dwight:

      I did refer to Acts, though not to find support for the Paul story.

      I’d never thought of Acts as one of the earliest books of the NT. It was written after Luke, which is thought by scholars to have been written between 70 and 90. That distance from the Jesus story makes Paul (his epistles were written in the mid-50s) the more reliable source by far.

      I didn’t refer to Acts because Paul didn’t write it. The exercise was to make a summary of what Paul could be said to have reliably written. As for the pillars of the church, Paul doesn’t seem to think much of them (Gal. 2:2-6, 6:12-13) and trusted his own message.

      You could argue, of course, that Paul had a very similar view of the biography of Jesus to the gospel writers. This post obviously doesn’t prove that this tiny “Gospel of Paul” is all he knew. But it does put the burden on those who think that there was a single, consistent biography of Jesus, more or less shared by every disciple in the early church, to back up that claim.

    • http://manojpontificates.blogspot.com/ Manoj Joseph

      Fr. Dwight Longenecker said:
      “You didn’t mention the Acts of the Apostles which even the most liberal scholars consider both one of the earliest books of the NT and the most historically accurate.”

      Perhaps fundamentalist scholars consider it historically accurate. It is generally considered by liberal scholars to be a myth making exaggeration and late first century or second century work.

      For instance, according to Richard Pervo, ‘Acts is a beautiful house that readers may happily admire, but it is not a home in which the historian can responsibly live.’ Do read, “The Mystery of Acts: Unraveling Its Story” by Richard I. Pervo.

    • SparklingMoon

       The main stem of Christianity, which took care of and nurtured the development of Christian beliefs and philosophy in its early formative part was of Jewish stock. Jewish influence remained predominant throughout the early part of Christian history. The disciples of Jesus who learnt and understood Christianity directly from Jesus and witnessed it in the form of his life, belonged to this stock. They were the primary custodians of Christianity with deeply embedded roots in the holy soil of Jesus’ instructions and way of life. It was they who witnessed the Crucifixion and had seen Jesus survive from his attempted murder. One offshoot of James’ ministry were the Ebionites. They were the Jewish Christians, for whom Jesus took on the mantle of Messiah and not that of the ‘Son of God’. They followed the Mosaic law with great zeal, and had their own Gospel known in various contexts as the ‘Gospel of the Hebrews’, ‘Gospel of the Ebionites’ or the ‘Gospel of the Nazarenes’

      ” The source of the original teachings of the Ebionites, Gnostics, Manicheans, Sabians, Mandeans, Nestorians and Elkasites has been described as the Nazarene philosophy. They refer to Nazarene thought as: ”An orientation towards Jesus and his teachings which derives ultimately from the original Nazarene position, as articulated by Jesus himself, then propagated by James, Jude or Judas Thomas and their immediate entourage.’ Their beliefs were: 1). Strict adherence to the Mosaic Law. 2). Recognition of Jesus as Messiah. 3). Belief in the normal human birth of Jesus. 4. Hostility towards Pauline views.

      There is a collection of Arabic manuscripts kept in a library in Istanbul which contains quotes from a 5th or 6th Century text ascribed to the ‘al-nasara’, written in Syriac and found in a monastery in Khuzistan in south-west Iran near the Iraq border. It reflects the views of the Nazarene hierarchy escaping from Jerusalem after the destruction in 66 AD. It refers to Jesus as a human being and stresses the Judaic Law. Paul’s followers ‘abandoned the religion of Christ and turned towards the religious doctrines of the Romans.(The Messianic Legacy.M.Baigent,R Leigh,H.Lincoln,p 135–138)

      St. Paul acquired the most pivotal character in giving Christianity a new philosophy and ideology. There were fundamental differences of opinion between Paul and James the Righteous. While James looked after the Jerusalem Church, Paul was preaching in the West, particularly to the gentiles. The Western Church evolved along Pauline doctrinal lines, whereas the Church in Jerusalem developed along monotheistic teachings.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        It was they who witnessed the Crucifixion and had seen Jesus survive from his attempted murder

        That’s what the story says. As for what history says, that’s another matter.

        • SparklingMoon

          There are many testimonies of the Bible in support of Jesus’ escape from death on the Cross. On the morning of Sunday he first met Mary Magdalene, who at once informed the disciples that Jesus was alive, but they did not believe it. Then he was seen by two of the disciples when they were going out to the countryside; and last of all he appeared to the eleven when they were at their meal and censured them for their callousness and lack of faith: ”He said to them, “Why are you troubled? Why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is truly me. Touch me and see, for a spirit doesn’t have flesh and bones, as you see that I have.”When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.While they still didn’t believe for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”They gave him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.He took them, and ate in front of them ( Luke 24:38 43)
          Jesus himself showed to his disciples the flesh and bones of his body, and again, not only this, but there were also the pangs of hunger and thirst –necessities of the mortal body; otherwise, where was the need for him during the journey to Galilee to do such useless things as eating and drinking water, resting, and sleeping? Undoubtedly, hunger and thirst, in this world, are painful for the mortal body, which may even prove fatal if they become extreme. So there is no doubt that Jesus did not die on the Cross, nor did he acquire a new spiritual body: rather, he was in a state of death-like swoon.

          Now, to say that Jesus did all this with a spiritual body (which is supposed to be the nature of the body after death), which only the physical body was capable of doing, as, for example, eating and drinking, and sleeping, and making a long journey to Galilee which was at a distance of seventy miles from Jerusalem, is saying something impossible and quite against reason. The gospels clearly show that Jesus met his disciples in the ordinary mortal human body, and made a long journey on foot to Galilee; showed his wounds to the disciples, dined with them at night, and slept in their company.( Jesus in India)

        • Richard S. Russell

          There are indeed many testimonies, no 2 of which agree with each other, which is ample reason to doubt them ALL.

          Given the many ludicrous claims I’ve already seen here for what “spirits” or “spiritual things” are capable of, I must say it’s refreshing to run across someone who says “Don’t be silly. Only actual material people can eat, drink, etc.” It would be great if you held that position consistently about ALL claims dealing with spirituality.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Moon:

          Now, to say that Jesus did all this with a spiritual body (which is supposed to be the nature of the body after death), which only the physical body was capable of doing, as, for example, eating and drinking, and sleeping, and making a long journey to Galilee which was at a distance of seventy miles from Jerusalem, is saying something impossible and quite against reason.

          Speaking of “against reason,” this supernatural belief of yours is against reason. But let’s ignore that for now.

          The Bible makes clear that Jesus had a spirit body.

          “the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them …” (John 20:19).

          “At this point their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Then he vanished out of their sight.” (Luke 24:31)

          “While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them” (Luke 24:36).

        • Richard S. Russell

          Wow! David Copperfield IS Jesus!

        • Bob Seidensticker

          With long hair and a beard, maybe so!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

    Uh, what? King James has this as:

    And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

    I don’t get it. Was Paul a preemie, or born by Caesarean? And what would that have to do with Jesus H. Christ appearing to him?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      The NET Bible says, “The Greek word used here (ἔκτρωμα, ektrwma) refers to a premature birth, a miscarriage, or an aborted child. Paul uses it as a powerful figure of the unexpected, abnormal nature of his apostolic call.”

      I guess he’s trying to humble his position.

  • C.J. O’Brien

    “betrayed” is a shoddy English translation of παραδίδωμι (paradidomi, lit. “give over, deliver up”). Most versions have it precisely because it would seem to corroborate a detail from the gospels, but it was only one of the possible meanings of the term, which had a broad semantic field in the Koine. Its more common meaning was “to hand over, deliver up”. And we can see that Paul in no way uses the term consistently to mean “betrayed” because the actor in most of his other uses of the term is God. In 1 Cor 11, this is obscured because of the passive construction, but see e.g. Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up (paredoken, derived from paradidomi) for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Also see the gospels, where it is the word most often used for Judas’s betrayal, but it is also the word used in the synoptics for the Sanhedrin “handing over” Jesus to Pilate and for Pilate having Jesus flogged and then “handing him over” to be crucified.
    So unless God is the betrayer, Paul didn’t know anything about any betrayal, and in any case the evidence strongly suggests that the Judas angle is a later fiction, totally unknown in the 1st century epistles, Pauline and pseudepigraphical.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Interesting data point, thanks. Perhaps the Gospel of Paul is smaller still.

  • C.J. O’Brien

    the Acts of the Apostles which even the most liberal scholars consider both one of the earliest books of the NT and the most historically accurate.

    This is utterly false on both counts. No time now, but more later.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Acts is not “written after Luke” but are considered to be two parts of the same work written at the same time.
    The fact that the Acts of the Apostles does not record the Neronian persecution and the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul place the writing before their deaths in 65 AD making them among the earliest of the NT writings.

    Your point was that Paul didn’t know much about Jesus. It’s simply not true. Acts of the Apostles (written before 65) shows that he traveled with Luke and Mark and was colleagues with Peter, James and John. What do you think they talked about? Of course Paul knew everything there was to know about Jesus and your argument is about as leaky as Liza’s bucket.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Dwight:

      The fact that the Acts of the Apostles does not record the Neronian persecution and the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul place the writing before their deaths in 65 AD making them among the earliest of the NT writings.

      That’s an interesting clue, which does point to an early date, but as you know scholars aren’t unified on this subject. 65 CE? 80 CE or later? There’s a pretty big gray area on this matter.

      Your point was that Paul didn’t know much about Jesus.

      Not at all. My point was that Paul’s “Jesus” and the gospel “Jesus” are quite different. The way you state it is to assume that the gospel view was correct and Paul’s truncated Jesus was therefore incorrect. That’s not what I’m saying.

      Acts of the Apostles (written before 65) shows that he traveled with Luke and Mark and was colleagues with Peter, James and John.

      Again, let’s restate that the dating of Acts is unclear. Even if we take the 65 date, Paul’s epistles beat that by 10 years.

      But my point from the earlier comment was that Acts is simply a story with Paul as a character. Is this actual history? Maybe, but maybe not. You don’t bring in details from Acts without also bringing in the cloud of doubt of its provenance.

      And, of course, Paul’s epistles themselves aren’t immune from this. 300 years from autograph to our earliest copy of 1 Cor.? That’s a lo-o-o-ong time for hanky panky.

      • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

        Your point was that Paul didn’t know much about Jesus. Re-read the title of the post.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I see your point. Yes, the title does assume that the gospel story is correct and then measures Paul’s knowledge of Jesus against that.

        • Richard S. Russell

          Well, it was your title, so maybe you’re in the best position to interpret it, but I didn’t read it that way at all. I read it as saying that, compared to what I know about a real human being (my sister, as mentioned in my essay “That Deep, Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ”), hardly anybody knows hardly anything about Jesus. Paul didn’t know much, and really, the writers of the gospels didn’t know a whole lot, either. Millennia before Austin Powers, he was the original international man of mystery.

          And that’s not comparing him to some supposedly authoritative standard, like the Gospel of Mark, it’s comparing it to what we know of historical figures generally. Quick, name one characteristic of Napoleon. Name one facial feature of Adolf Hitler. Call up a mental image of what Alexander the Great looked like. Do we know ANY information like that about Jesus? Hell, we don’t even know if he was an actual person!

    • C.J. O’Brien

      The fact that the Acts of the Apostles does not record the Neronian persecution and the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul place the writing before their deaths in 65 AD making them among the earliest of the NT writings.

      Completely logically invalid. If it did accurately record some historical events, we would have to place the date of composition after those events, of course, but the converse is simply not true. Authors are free to narrate whatever events they choose, and set their narratives in whatever time period suits them.
      Not that you will own up to this, since you seem committed to the least tenable, most unreliable-tradition-bound credulousness about such matters as dating and authorship, but there is no evidence that Peter and Paul were ever at Rome or were martyred in a particular place on any particular date, or, in fact, at all. These are pious fictions.
      And finally you mistake the purpose of Acts entirely. It is an entirely programmatic narrative about what is by the time of writing a series of embellished legends about figures believed to have been instrumental in the foundation of the author’s faith tradition. The numerous contradictions between Paul’s own chronology in the Epistles as well as with Josephus where the author is making freewheeling use of that source show clearly that we are not dealing with a historian but with a propagandist with little to no concern with accuracy, even in instances where he had the resources to get things right.
      You’ll never do it of course, because it would involve critical thought and actually learning things, but I recommend you read The Mystery of Acts, by Richard Pervo, for a dose of what “the most liberal scholars” really say, in contradiction to your bald-faced lies about what they say in a forum where you think nobody will know any better.

      • smrnda

        I seem to recall many Christians telling me that the lack of reporting of Biblical events in other sources is no indication that they did not happen. To turn it around, the fact that a Christian source does not mention an event can therefore not be said to indicate that the event didn’t happen but just wasn’t reported.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Fr. Longenecker says that Paul is silent on many issues of the Jesus story, but that perhaps he still knew of them but simply didn’t write about them.

          And with Acts, he takes the opposite approach. He assumes that because Acts doesn’t talk about certain historical events, it must have been written beforehand, because it’s inconceivable that the author of Acts would be silent on those points.

          I think he’s undercutting one of these positions.

      • Paul King

        In my view Luke’s rewrite of the Olivet Discourse, compared to Mark and Matthew (Luke 21 5-36, Mark 13, Matthew 24) is good reason to assume that the author of Luke (or his source) did know of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD – and therefore cannot have been written earlier.

    • SparklingMoon

      Your point was that Paul didn’t know much about Jesus. It’s simply not true….. Of course Paul knew everything there was to know about Jesus.
      ——————————————————————————————
      Paul received no direct education and training from Jesus (peace be upon him) himself nor from his disciples,rather was a bitter enemy of Jesus (peace be upon him) during his sojourn in Palestine. But after the departure of Jesus,Paul,seeing a leadership opportunity in the horizon, grasped it with deception. Paul commenced his work saying,
      “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us: for it is written. Cursed is every one that hanged on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)
      In the very first stride he throws away the “yoke” of the Mosaic law from his shoulder. Next he declares:
      “For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? Whose damnation is just?” (Romans 3:7-8)
      In the third stride he says:
      “That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. ” (II Corinthians 11:17)
      These three quotes from Paul vividly explain that he was divorced from the beliefs and practices of Jesus (peace be upon him) and his true followers, and initiated the beliefs of original sin and its atonement, trinity and the like. Instead of transforming people according to the religion, he boldly changed and disfigured the religion to suite the beliefs and practices of the people. In fact, from the time of St. Paul onwards, as Christianity spread to alien lands and pagan faiths within the Roman Empire, it began to be powerfully influenced and bent by the cultures and mythologies prevalent in those lands and went further away from its nascent purity.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Paul knew everything there was to know about Jesus.

        But this is simply tradition. That might be true, but it’s hardly a certainty. When you dig for evidence for this claim (as I did above), you don’t find much.

        [Paul] was a bitter enemy of Jesus

        Again: according to the story. I have no interest in accepting this story without compelling evidence.

        BTW, why do you use what appears to be a King James version of the Bible?

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Paul traveled with Mark and was colleagues with Peter. Mark’s gospel is based on Peter’s preaching and experiences. Here’s the homework: http://jimmyakin.com/2012/12/whoa-1st-century-info-about-marks-gospel.html

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Been there, debunked that.

      Papias, Eusebius, and that whole story is beyond flimsy, sorry. Here’s my quick video rebuttal:

    • Greg G.

      Scholars have traced the roots of the passages from Mark to the Old Testament and Homer’s Odyssey. Robert M. Price, in The Christ Myth and Its Problems, combined all these studies to show that there is very little of Mark that doesn’t come those sources. For example, Randal Helms shows that many of the miracles of Jesus are exaggerations of the miracles of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha. Dennis MacDonald has found many twists on stories from The Odyssey. I think Mark is also based on Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Mark appears to have not had the texts of his sources but worked from memory.

      Mark reads like a fictional story. He uses the omniscient narrator mode in several places. Even Peter couldn’t have supplied that information. In ch. 10, he tells us that “bar” means “son of”. In ch. 14, he tells us “abba” means “father”. Now that we can work out what “Barabbas” means, we can see that there are two “sons of the father” and that one gets released like a scapegoat. That is story-telling.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    I read your ‘de-bunking’ of the Peter-Papias link once before and as was, as usual, totally unconvinced. You assume it’s all wrong and then set out to “prove” it.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Nope. I followed the evidence as best I found it, without an agenda. You think that I took a biased look at things? Show me.

      And I’m surprised that you would attack the messenger, when this is your chance to educate us. Tell us that, no, it wasn’t Papias to Eusebius to a Syriac translation but rather … what, exactly?

      You think my explanation is flawed? OK–I’m not perfect; I could be wrong. Show us the proper scholarship. You tell us what pedigree Christians assign to the gospel of Mark and why they do so.

  • Richard S. Russell

    One of the things I get a bang out of is the claim that Jesus was descended from David. That would be by way of Joseph, right? (That’s what it says in Luke 3:23–38 and Matthew 1:1–17.) Which is only relevant if Joseph were Jesus’s actual biological father. Which he wasn’t, according to an entirely different tradition that says Mary was a virgin and Joseph had nothing to do with the conception of Jesus.

    What we’ve got going here is the conflation, in one person, of 2 different “savior” traditions, 1 of which said that a human descendant of the great King David would come to use human techniques (politics and military force, presumably) to throw off the yoke of the foreign oppressor. (Echoes of this sentiment are found in the legend of King Arthur and Tolkien’s Aragorn.) This is the Jesus fathered by Joseph.

    The other tradition said that a human-appearing demigod would show up to use magical (divine) powers to lead the Chosen People to a new era of power and glory. This is the Jesus fathered by Yahweh.

    As usual, the priest class cites both traditions as accurate, and Jesus as the fulfillment of both prophecies, while never noticing that they are inherently contradictory, on the well demonstrated premise that none of the sheep will even notice the disparity, let alone question it. And they don’t.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Richard:

      Makes you wonder if your gospel story is a snapshot of a story in transition, from Jesus as righteous man, perhaps adopted by God, to Jesus as one part of the Trinity. That whole David thing would be a fossil from the old view that hadn’t been expunged, perhaps because it was too cherished by those early communities to discard.

      none of the sheep will even notice the disparity, let alone question it. And they don’t.

      If the bones of the earthly Jesus were discovered tomorrow, most Christians would muddle on. It would be like Animal Farm, where the truth is recast to adapt as necessary to new facts.

    • SparklingMoon

      Jesus is called in the Gospel the heir to the throne of David as is stated in Gospel Luke1:30-33
      ”The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and give birth to a son, and will call his name ‘Jesus.’ 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever.”

      In this prophecy Angel had told: ”The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David,” This throne of David was his spirituality that was promised by God to be given to the son of Marry.King David was the Prophet of God and the descent ion of a Prophet is always a spiritual descent ion. At the time of Jesus ( peace be upon him) although exists many people of Israel from the progeny of Prophet David but Mary (peace be upon her) was selected by God to give birth a child that bore a spiritual resemblance to his spiritual father David. In the sight of God the the people who had a spiritual resemblance are counted a family member of a prophet. There is an example of Prophet Nuh(peace be upon him) in the Quran to understand this prophecy of heir to the throne of David

      A son of Prophet Nuh was an unbeliever, and he had refused to come with them in the ark.Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) saw his son struggling in the water and tried once more to convince him to have faith and come into the ark. But he replied that he would go to top of a mountain and be safe there. In the meantime, a huge wave came and swept his son off forever. God had promised Prophet Nuh that his family and followers would be safe and now Prophet Nuh begged God to keep His promise and save his son.
      “And Nuh cried to his Lord and said, ‘My Lord! Verily my son is of my family, and verily Your promise is true and You are the most just of the judges.’ (God) said, ‘O Nuh, verily he is not of your family, his conduct is not righteous…” (Qur’an 11 : 45,46 )
      God told Prophet Nuh that he was not really his son because he did not show it by his deeds. This example makes it clear that Jesus was actually the spiritual heir of Prophet David who sit on his spiritual throne according to the Prophecy of God.

      • Richard S. Russell

        See, these are the kind of tortuous hoops that true believers have to jump thru to try to make sense out of the nonsense they’ve been handed to work with.

        If Jesus were really a spiritual descendant of King David, why not just say “Jesus was David’s spiritual son?”. Why rattle off all of the intervening generations? It’s obvious from your explanation of what “spiritual descendant” means that the 2 individuals involved don’t have to be biologically related at all. Indeed, the progenitor wouldn’t even have to be older than the progeny.

        As soon as you uncouple biology from the picture, you make it possible for anyone to claim “spiritual descent” from anyone else. I could claim to be the spiritual descendant of Socrates, for example, and who’s to say I’m not? The Dalai Lama pulls off something similar to this by claiming to be the reincarnation of the previous one, and the gullible Buddhists fall for it, because there’s no real-world way of testing the claim.

        But all you’ve done here is substitute an even more outrageous myth — the idea that there are such things as spirits or spirituality — for the implausible (but at least possible) myth that Jesus was heir to the throne.

        BTW, I have not previously encountered the use of “ion” outside of chemistry. Are you saying that Jesus was positively or negatively charged somehow?

        • SparklingMoon

          If Jesus were really a spiritual descendant of King David, why not just say “Jesus was David’s spiritual son?”. Why rattle off all of the intervening generations.
          ——————————————————————————-
          There may be more than thousand people existed at the time of Jesus who could be from the generation of Prophet David but Why did Jesus had been prophecied by angel to be selected as a heir of the throne of Prophet David ? Because it was he at that time among the people of Israel, bore the soul of holy spirit that was important to turn the people of Israel towards God and the real teachings of Mosaic Law.

          It is not a complicate matter to understand that in the prophecy by angel( Luke1:30-33) Jesus was appointed as a spiritual heir of Prophet David, otherwise her mother Mary was also informed by angel at the same time that she had a child without father as: Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?”(Luke 1:34) Mary had understood by this prophecy of the heir of the throne of David that a son with the holy spirit of David would be born in her home and later would be a prophet of God and would achieve a great respect like Prophet David.
          The real work of a prophet is always to bring people back to those morals that help them to develop human spirituality in the love of God. A prophet who is bestowed by God a great holy spirit infuses it to good nature people who live in his company. Jesus himself never had claimed to be a biological heir of Prophet David. He always claimed to be a Prophet of god sent for the reformation of the people of Israel : ”I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”(Matt. 15:26)

        • Richard S. Russell

          I guess you must have missed that “?” at the end of “Why rattle off all the intervening generations?”

        • Bob Seidensticker

          There may be more than thousand people existed at the time of Jesus who could be from the generation of Prophet David

          For descendants only down the male lineage, given 14 generations from David to Jesus, OK. But the descendants listed in Matthew’s genealogy aren’t all men. It’d be a lot more than 1000 people! Indeed, after 14 generations, who in Judah wasn’t a descendant?

        • SparklingMoon

           you make it possible foranyone to claim “spiritual descent” from anyone else. I could claim to be the spiritual descendant of Socrates, for example, and who’s to say I’m not? 
          —————————————————————————
          You are right that it makes possible for anyone to claim spiritual descent from anyone else. We have to turn to the works of Jesus (peace be upon him)to find reality and have to judge his works in the mirror of this prophecy that either his works show him a spiritual heir of the throne of Prophet David or not and as a spiritual heir had he fulfilled his duties or not.
          There are hundred example in the Gospels that make a stamp on the truth of this Prophecy that he would be bestowed by his God the spiritual throne of Prophet David and throughout of his life he had sincerely fulfilled the duties of this throne.He always claimed to be an appointed one by God a prophet: ”This is Eternal Life: to know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) ”I can of my own self do nothing, as I hear I judge and my judgement is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which has sent me.” (John 5:30)

          All coming reforming prophets are actually the spiritual heir of their previous prophets. Moses also had prophesied about his coming as Jesus had converted the attention of his opponents: ””For had ye believed Moses ye would have believed me;for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”(John 5:46-47)

          He was not only believer of Moses but also all the prophets of Israel who followed after Moses. He was bound by the Mosaic law and adhered to it.He declared:”Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I did not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, not one letter, not a dot, will dissappear from the law until all that must happen has happened. Anyone therefore who sets aside even the le ast of the law’s demands and teaches others to do the same, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them. the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”(Matt. 5:1 7-19)

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Instead of talking theology (which won’t convince anyone), how about making arguments that your worldview is correct?

        • SparklingMoon

          But all you’ve done here is substitute an even more outrageous myth — the idea that there are such things as spirits or spirituality.
          ——————————————————————————————-
          Spirit or spirituality are not myth but is a name of a higher state of human nature. Actually God had coded his attributes in human nature like seeds. when a person develops them according to the attributes of God in his love, then human nature get a resemblance to his God. This resemblance is called spirituality. All human beings has been given this ability to develop their morals and have spirituality.It is the real goal of human life in this world and very important to achieve , as it is the base that will give us a spiritual life after physical death. It is the reason that all prophets have always converted the attention of his people to improve their morals with love of God.
          Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has explained very beautifully:”When I reflect upon the Holy Word of God, it becomes clear to me how He bestows on man, through His teachings, rules for the reform of his natural condition and then gradually lifts him upwards and desires to raise him to the highest spiritual state,I realize that the principle of profound spiritual insight [underlying the following Divine Scheme] is that first God desires to teach man the rules of social behavior like sitting, standing, eating, drinking, talking etc., and thus to deliver him from a state of barbarism and distinguish him from the animals and thus bestow upon him an elementary moral state which might be described as social culture. He then desires to regulate his elementary moral habits so that they should acquire the character of high moral qualities. Both these methods are part of the same process as they are related to the reform of mans natural condition. There is between them a difference only of degree. The All-Wise One has so arranged the moral system that man should be able to rise from a low to a high moral condition.
          The Holy Word of God has classified mans natural faculties and desires and urges, as natural conditions. These, when they are consciously regulated and controlled and are brought into action on their proper occasions and places, become moral qualities. In the same way, moral conditions are not entirely distinct from spiritual conditions. When moral conditions develop absolute devotion to God and complete purification of self and, cutting asunder from the world, turn wholly to God and to perfect love and complete devotion and full serenity and satisfaction and complete accord with the Divine will, they become spiritual conditions.( The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam P20)

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Spirit or spirituality are not myth but is a name of a higher state of human nature.

          I encourage you to give more argument and less theology. You’re simply summarizing your beliefs here; this convinces no one.

        • Phil

          Moreover, without at least some piece of an argument, I doubt anyone is reading it.

        • SparklingMoon

          Richard S. Russell says:December 20, 2012 at 6:29 am
          I guess you must have missed that “?” at the end of “Why rattle off all the intervening generations?
          —————————————————————————————————–
          ” All the Intertvening generation” perhaps have never tried to read the, sayings of Jesus, that exist in the the Gospels” to understand his real person and message.
          According to the information of Gospels Jesus had always claimed :”I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.(Matt. 15:22-28) Children of Israel have twelve tribes. In Jerusalem,at the time of of Jesus There existed only two tribes of Israel. Other ten tribes of Israelites (who721 years before Jesus, )had been taken away as a a prisoner from Samaria by Shalmeneser (the King of Assur) and had been settled in various parts of Afghanistan Tibet and Kashmir. Jesus had to move to these ten tribes also to meet the lost sheep of the house of Israel to complete his divine mission. He had first started his ministry by the tribes of Jerusalem but their hard attitude and making him a criminal in the eyes of Roman government Jesus had to move earlier towards these ten tribes. Jesus had been accepted by these tribes with love and respect. He reformed them and maintained Mosaic Law among them. He also had informed his followers the coming of a next prophet after him with a complete teaching which would stay forever with mankind: ”Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will sent him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin,and of righteousness, and of judgment. .. I have yet many things to say unto you,but ye cannot bear them now. How be it when he,the Spirit of truth is come,he will guide you into all truth:for he shall not speak of himself but whatsoever he shall hear,that shall he speak.. and he will show you things to come.He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.”(John16:7-14) These followers of Jesus in Asia had accepted the next coming Prophet in the very early days of his advent according to the prophecy of Jesus and had turned to religion Islam. The rest people of the tribes in Jerusalem had neither accepted the message of Jesus (Except few people )nor the myth of St. Paul. Their generations still have been waiting the advent of Elijah from heaven who was expected before the coming of Messiah.

          The message of Mosaic Law was not a universal but a confined message only for the Children of Israel. From the very first verse to the last one the message of Mosaic Law speaks only to children of Israel :And the voice of the Lord came to Moses out of the Tent of meeting, saying, Give these orders to the children of Israel(Leviticus1:1,2)”These are the orders which the Lord gave to Moses for the children of Israel in Mount Sinai.’(Leviticus27:34)’ Jesus had always tried to reform and to maintain the Mosaic Law among the people of Israel.”Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:I did not come to destroy,but to fulfill.”(Matt.5:1 7)

          It was St. Paul who had invited other nations towards his myth in the name of Jesus. In other words this myth was already a part of these alien lands and pagan faiths within the Roman Empire. Saint Paul had brought no significant change in their culture but only had given the name of Christianity to their existed faiths. The positive point of this Paul’s Christianity was the introduction of Mosaic Law in their next generations . In spite of having faith in this myth they were satisfy and used to practiced the morals of Mosaic Law and this practice of morals had improved both their characters and societies day by day . The word of ”intervening generations ” may be applied to the people of this time who have realized their faith in the light of scientific facts,a nothing more than a myth and consequently has departed themselves also from high morals as a reaction .

        • Richard S. Russell

          Was it your impression that this was an answer to my question? Because you could have just said “blah blah blah” for 3 long, boring paragraphs and done just as good a job.

          This kind of crapola was what started to turn me off on religion in the 1st place.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and give birth to a son, and will call his name ‘Jesus.’

        And didn’t Matthew (peace be on him) say that his birth was the fulfillment of a prophecy in which his name was supposed to be Immanuel?

        Oops.

        “And Nuh cried to his Lord and said, ‘My Lord! Verily my son is of my family, and verily Your promise is true and You are the most just of the judges.’ (God) said, ‘O Nuh, verily he is not of your family, his conduct is not righteous…”

        Ouch! “Sorry–your son isn’t good enough to save”? Pretty strange morality.

        • SparklingMoon

          Ouch! “Sorry–your son isn’t good enough to save”? Pretty strange morality.
          ———————————————————————————————–
          A prophet is always sent by a God at a time when there is morally and spiritually a complete darkness and People stopped to practice morals on their proper occasions .Rich and haughty people get a control over a society and many other become a constant victim of these cruel people. This rough and pitiable condition calls the blessing of God and a prophet is sent by Him to free His poor people from the grip of this rough condition. As history of all religions shows that a prophet of God always calls people through verbally message with great kindness and patience towards right path and never uses a violence for the acceptance of his message. According to the teachings of God people have been given freedom in this world either to accept the message of a prophet or to reject it according to ones own thinking and reason.

          But there are some people who not only reject this prophet but also try to use violence to stop this voice of God. It is a tradition of God that those who try to abandon by force the message of God, are given punishment in this world also.A doctor sometimes cutc a harming part of body to save the other parts of a body and this action of his is never considered as an immoral because this cutting has a purpose and that is to save the other parts of the body. Human society is also like a body and when a person constantly disturbs a society and becomes constantly a danger for it then God takes it in His Own hand and removes the harming person, for the benefit of all other members of the society.

          Mirza Ghulam Ahmed has said:
          ”The Gospel emphasizes only the faculty of meekness and gentleness. Meekness and forgiveness are good qualities when exercised on the proper occasion but their use on every occasion would be greatly harmful. Our cultural life, which comprises the interplay of different kinds of tempers, demands that we should exercise all our faculties with discretion on the proper occasion. It is true that, on some occasions, forgiveness and forbearance would benefit materially and spiritually a person who has done us harm. On other occasions, the exercise of those faculties would encourage the offender to commit greater mischief and to do more harm.”

    • http://www.Yeshua21.com/ Wayne

      I call attention to that discrepancy in this article where I ask readers to consider that, in light of the virgin birth (whether symbolically or literally interpreted), the New Testament genealogies– which trace Jesus’ lineage from Abraham to Joseph (Matthew 1: 1-17) or from Joseph back to Adam (Luke 3:23-38) –tell us nothing of Jesus’ true origin which is better accounted for in the gospel of John (“bread from heaven”) on in Hebrews (“a preist foever after the order of Melchizedek”). Likewise Paul says:

      “…from now on know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet from now on know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:16-17).

      Notice the implication is that what is important is knowing Christ “after the Spirit” and that this new life in the Spirit applies not just to Jesus but to those all those who in Christ. This is consistent with Jesus’ word in the Gospel of John:

      “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8).

      http://jeshua21.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/the-word-made-flesh/

  • Hilary

    I have a possible reason for why Paul kept stressing Jesus as the messiah/Christ who “died for our sins” as the most important part of what he did. The fact is, Jesus was, has been, and still is a total fail by Jewish standards as a Messiah. The Jewish expectation of the Messiah is a human leader who will bring about peace, for EVERYBODY, in this world here. Since Jesus totally failed to stop the Roman occupation of Israel, most Jews back then would be disillusioned and not inclined to join his followers. If Paul was to try and sell Jesus as a Jewish Messiah, he’d be laughed at, and if I recall he did get kicked out of several synagoges. So he had to change the rules, create new expectations for a messiah that couldn’t be so easily disproved. “Died for our sins” is a statement of belief. “Ended Roman occupation, restored the Temple, got everybody to worship G-d according to the Torah and live side by side in peace and harmony without want or greed” is a statement describing something that didn’t happen. That would deffinatly be a stumbling block to Jews, that and the implied canabolism of communion. Drinking blood – even pretending to drink blood – is so not kosher.

    Hilary

    • smrnda

      I’m definitely in agreement with the idea that, by the standards of the Messiah, that Jesus was an epic fail. Of course, some Christians will argue that Jesus is going to deliver the goods with the second coming, but that just seems like a sleight of hand.

      Just wondering what your read is on Paul’s motivations. I find it pretty credible that the Jesus story borrows from other pagan deities and stories. Was Paul just starting another mystery cult?

      • Hilary

        Smrnda

        I’m going to answer you in a new post at the bottom, rather then in ever-diminishing reply boxes. BTW, I like reading what you say around Patheos.

        Hilary

        • Hilary

          Check back tomorrow night. It’s 11:30 pm, and I need to go to bed, but I can’t pass up this chance to share some idea’s about the intersection of Judaism and the start of Christianity.

          TTYL

          Hilary

  • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

    As far as the fact that Paul did not speak of miracles, my first reaction is that they would be huge, “yea… and?”‘s. If the person had knowledge of Paul or would accept testimony about Paul, the person would believe that Paul had performed miracles in the name of Christ (cf. Romans 15:19). In such a case, why should Paul say, “Hey, look, Christ could do miracles TOO!”? It would almost seem counter-intuitive. “I can do miracles in the name of Jesus”, to me, at least, seems like a much more powerful statement than “Jesus did miracles in the name of Jesus”.

    Why “a stumbling block”? Jesus did lots of miraculous “signs”—why didn’t Paul convince the Jews with these?

    But the stumbling block to the Jews was that Jesus seems to be violating the law and cursed; signs had nothing to do with it. Their thought, in short, is, “If Jesus was holy, then why was he cursed by God (Deut. 21:23)?” And that is assuming they are not going by a raw “gospel of wealth” view on the matter.

    No parables of the sheep and the goats, or the prodigal son, or the rich man and Lazarus, or the lost sheep, or the good Samaritan. In fact, no Jesus as teacher at all.

    I think your challenge is to show that this information was necessary. Considering the miracles of Paul, I think you have your work cut out for you.

    Perhaps everyone to whom Paul wrote his letters knew all this already? Okay, but presumably they already knew about the crucifixion, and Paul mentions that 13 times. And the resurrection, which Paul mentions 14 times.

    Again, no one stumbled over the miracles. Either they were believed, they were believed but credited to someone/something else (people thought Jesus was possessed, people thought Paul was Hermes), or they were discounted entirely (Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?). They did, however, stumble over the doctrine of the resurrection.

    The thought does occur though: none of these letters were written to a non-Christian community. Would it really have been cost-effective for Paul to send a letter full of miracles stories when he could get the point across faster by addressing the problems in the community directly? The Corinthians were at each other’s throats because they were each trying to “follow” a specific apostle who came through. Would “Blessed are the peacemakers” really have been more effective than, “Are you baptized in the name of Apollos?”

    • Greg G.

      The thought does occur though: none of these letters were written to a non-Christian community. Would it really have been cost-effective for Paul to send a letter full of miracles stories when he could get the point across faster by addressing the problems in the community directly?

      Did you see the 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 quote in the article? Paul thought it was cost-effective to tell the Corinthians that he didn’t teach miracles or wisdom.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      As far as the fact that Paul did not speak of miracles, my first reaction is that they would be huge, “yea… and?”‘s.

      … And Paul’s epistles are the first small step in the Paul-through-John evolution of the Jesus story.

      If the person had knowledge of Paul or would accept testimony about Paul, the person would believe that Paul had performed miracles in the name of Christ (cf. Romans 15:19).

      “I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in order to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit of God” (Rom. 15:18–19).

      We already know (1 Cor. 1:22–3) that he had no “signs” by which to satisfy the Jews. Perhaps this passage simply means that God’s hand in bringing many gentiles to faith is miraculous.

      “I can do miracles in the name of Jesus”, to me, at least, seems like a much more powerful statement than “Jesus did miracles in the name of Jesus”.

      Agreed. And 1 Cor. 1 reports that he never said that.

      But the stumbling block to the Jews was that Jesus seems to be violating the law and cursed; signs had nothing to do with it.

      Are we talking about the same passage (1 Cor. 1:22-3)?

      Considering the miracles of Paul

      Again: what miracles?

      The thought does occur though: none of these letters were written to a non-Christian community. Would it really have been cost-effective for Paul to send a letter full of miracles stories when he could get the point across faster by addressing the problems in the community directly?

      Paul has more followers than he can handle, and he’s only worried about doctrine and discipline? That’s a nice problem to have. I would’ve thought that a few reminders of how fabulous Jesus was (he peppers his writings with the resurrection—how about mixing it up a bit?) would be useful.

      • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

        We already know (1 Cor. 1:22–3) that he had no “signs” by which to satisfy the Jews. Perhaps this passage simply means that God’s hand in bringing many gentiles to faith is miraculous.

        Doubtful. When the words “signs” and “wonders” were commonly used, they are a reference to clearly supernatural events (prediction of the future, miraculous healing of oneself, etc.). If you are to argue that he had some other intended meaning then you really do have an uphill battle. Especially in light of Hebrews 2, which implies that signs wonders and miracles are grouped. (Interestingly, Hebrews 2 also implies that miracles were common among the Christian community).

        Are we talking about the same passage (1 Cor. 1:22-3)?

        Yes, and I would argue that my interpretation is a more accurate read. The Jews did not believe the signs offered because of how Christ died. The signs they saw they explained away much as Paul (and the Pharisees) explains that signs and wonders can reflect the works of the devil (2 Thessalonians 2, Mark 3:30).

        Further, I would argue that your interpretation that “there were no signs” does not match the text. The Jews looked for signs, but they found the stumbling block of the cross. This does not say that they found no signs, it says that they found something they did not expect.

        Again: what miracles?

        Paul said he did miracles in Romans 15 and 2 Corinthians 12. The text in 2 Corinthians is fairly unambiguous, by the way.

        Paul has more followers than he can handle, and he’s only worried about doctrine and discipline? That’s a nice problem to have. I would’ve thought that a few reminders of how fabulous Jesus was (he peppers his writings with the resurrection—how about mixing it up a bit?) would be useful.

        Again, the miracles were never questioned, the resurrection was.

        If you knew that a group of people agreed with you about X and Y but not Z, how much time would you spend trying to convince them or even reminding them of X or Y? I would expect little or no time at all. Tell me, if you were to debate a creationist, would you debate them on whether the earth turned on its axis or whether the planets circled the sun? Would you feel it important to remind them of these facts? Or would you spend your time discussing the things which you disagreed on?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          IT:

          When the words “signs” and “wonders” were commonly used, they are a reference to clearly supernatural events

          Sorry–Paul precludes this interpretation. He says that he’s unable to satisfy demands for miraculous signs.

          If you are to argue that he had some other intended meaning then you really do have an uphill battle.

          I have no interest in making sense of this. All I’m saying is it ain’t a miraculous sign because Paul said as much.

          I would argue that my interpretation is a more accurate read.

          I think my interpretation is the plain and obvious one–Jews demand signs, but he’s unable to provide them. How you’re able to imagine signs in that verse when Paul says that Jews’ demand for signs is a “stumbling block” is beyond me.

          My breakdown of 1 Cor. 1:22-3: “Jews demand A and Greeks demand B. Unfortunately, our story is Christ crucified, which satisfy neither Jews nor Greeks.” Jews demand signs and don’t get them.

          Paul said he did miracles in Romans 15 and 2 Corinthians 12.

          And Paul said he didn’t in 1 Cor. 1.

          We could hypothesize reasons for the contradiction. Since Rom. and 2 Cor. were written later, maybe Paul did miracles later than 1 Cor.

          If you knew that a group of people agreed with you about X and Y but not Z, how much time would you spend trying to convince them or even reminding them of X or Y? I would expect little or no time at all.

          So Paul’s miracles are common knowledge? This is just an everyday occurrence in Paul’s church? I certainly don’t get this impression from reading his epistles.

        • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

          My breakdown of 1 Cor. 1:22-3: “Jews demand A and Greeks demand B. Unfortunately, our story is Christ crucified, which satisfy neither Jews nor Greeks.” Jews demand signs and don’t get them.

          But that isn’t what’s written. The crucifixion is a stumbling block, not a negation. The cross is foolishness which negates the other wisdom. At most you can say that this is sign-neutral, not sign-denying.

          And Paul said he didn’t in 1 Cor. 1.

          Even if I cede that 1 Cor. 1 is sign-neutral, that interpretation is not entirely consistent with the rest of the letter. He speaks of members of the Corinthian church who have been given the power to speak in tongues, heal, work various miracles (1 Cor. 12). Does it seem reasonable to say that the stumbling block was absence?

          So Paul’s miracles are common knowledge? This is just an everyday occurrence in Paul’s church? I certainly don’t get this impression from reading his epistles.

          When was the last time you read 1 Corinthians 12? I know quite a few groups who view that passage as meaning that miracles really were almost daily.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          IT:

          The crucifixion is a stumbling block, not a negation.

          Paul wants to provide signs, but his message is a stumbling block to providing those signs. Therefore, he can’t provide those signs. He obviously wants to provide what his audience demands, because he wants to make converts. Therefore, he doesn’t have the signs.

          that interpretation is not entirely consistent with the rest of the letter. He speaks of members of the Corinthian church who have been given the power to speak in tongues, heal, work various miracles (1 Cor. 12).

          Yes, that does seem to be a contradiction.

          The letter was passed around for 3 centuries before our oldest version. Maybe monkey business by a scribe? Or maybe just hyperbole on Paul’s part.

          I know quite a few groups who view that passage as meaning that miracles really were almost daily.

          Or that this was artistic license on Paul’s part.

          People say the same thing today, and no one imagines that an objective observer would see miracles at that church.

        • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

          The letter was passed around for 3 centuries before our oldest version. Maybe monkey business by a scribe?

          Do you have anyone who argues that this is an insertion? I’ve not seen anyone argue that 1 Corinthians 12 is an insertion.

          Or maybe just hyperbole on Paul’s part.

          If someone sent a letter to my parish saying, “You people are performing miracles every day!” I would think they were off their gourd. 1 Corinthians is specifically saying, “These are things which you are doing which should be done in a more-ordered sense”. Just like it doesn’t make sense to make rules on the proper care of water-proof toasters, it also doesn’t make sense to make rules concerning the proper placement of miracles which aren’t happening.

          You can argue that what they said were miracles weren’t miraculous, but arguing that Paul wasn’t talking about what their church viewed as actual miracles contradicts the text.

          Or that this was artistic license on Paul’s part.

          License? Unless he is talking about actual events which were actually believed to have happen that is outright insanity.

          Either way, it makes the argument “there are no signs” difficult as these people believed that there were signs among them. Again, you can say the signs weren’t significant, but you can’t say Paul thought that they didn’t see signs.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          IT:

          you can’t say Paul thought that they didn’t see signs.

          What is your argument? As best as I can tell, it’s, “I don’t much like what I’m reading in 1 Cor. 1:22-3, so let’s set that aside. Chapter 12 of the same epistle refers to signs, so therefore there were signs. QED.”

          My approach is the opposite: 1 Cor. 1:22-3 makes clear that Paul didn’t have what he needed to convince the sign-demanding Jews. Yes, I see that chapter 12 suggests that there were signs. I can dismiss that in the ways that I have (people talk about miracles today, but if you bring a team of scientists there to investigate, you’ll find nothing; same thing with chapter 12), though I’ll admit that that doesn’t resolve all the loose ends.

          But I don’t have much hope that this conversation is going anywhere.

        • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

          My approach is the opposite: 1 Cor. 1:22-3 makes clear that Paul didn’t have what he needed to convince the sign-demanding Jews. Yes, I see that chapter 12 suggests that there were signs. I can dismiss that in the ways that I have (people talk about miracles today, but if you bring a team of scientists there to investigate, you’ll find nothing; same thing with chapter 12), though I’ll admit that that doesn’t resolve all the loose ends.

          The important part, however, is that even if these signs were all myths, even if they are all “Holy Cow! When I throw sodium into water it explodes! That must be magic!”, heck, even if it is all “The Virgin Mary showed up on my french toast” people still believed that signs happened in their midsts. “The Jews will only believe signs” would have been met with “But what about this piece of cheese in the shape of an altar, surely that must be a sign!”

          This is not an argument that signs exist or whether what are purported to be signs are from God or not. Whether the ancient Church had miracle workers is irrelevant to my statement. I rely solely on the text when I say that denial of the belief in miracles and that they were happening is a dishonest read of the book.

          But, say the Corinthian Church were performing miracles every day. Say, every day the local bishop would gather a large number of pots of water in the public square and he would wave his hand and they would all become wine. Do you believe that the Jews would have seen that as a sign pointing to the authority of Christ?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          “The Jews will only believe signs” would have been met with “But what about this piece of cheese in the shape of an altar, surely that must be a sign!”

          And yet Paul doesn’t. He admits that he doesn’t even have a cheese sandwich to convince the Jews.

          I rely solely on the text when I say that denial of the belief in miracles and that they were happening is a dishonest read of the book.

          And you point to chapter 12 to make this point. I get it. But you’re left fumbling with the 1:22-3 passage.

          But, say the Corinthian Church were performing miracles every day. Say, every day the local bishop would gather a large number of pots of water in the public square and he would wave his hand and they would all become wine. Do you believe that the Jews would have seen that as a sign pointing to the authority of Christ?

          Is this a trick question? Paul says that Jews demand signs. Turning water into wine would be a sign.

          Are you wondering who would be seen by the Jews as being behind this? That is, is this a sign from Christ or Dionysus or Baal or some other demon/god?

        • Richard S. Russell

          “say the Corinthian Church were performing miracles every day. Say, every day the local bishop would gather a large number of pots of water in the public square and he would wave his hand and they would all become wine. Do you believe that the Jews would have seen that as a sign pointing to the authority of Christ?”

          No comment on that specific question, but I’ll bet that some of the Corinthians would have paid attention to it and written something down about it.

          That’s the problem with miracle stories in general: No impartial witnesses, no independent testimony, certainly no videotape or live TV. And, in the case of the apostle-era wonder-workers, no written records from any contemporary source at all.

          This gap in the historical record is perhaps most egregious in the case of all the bang-up events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus, notably the (unnoticed) earthquake and (unremarked upon) zombie apocalypse. Surely somebody other than the gospel writers would have made note of them, wouldn’t you think?

        • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

          Surely somebody other than the gospel writers would have made note of them, wouldn’t you think?

          Since my point has to do with what the author of a document thought people believed (something clearly knowable) instead of what actually happened (far more dubious) and since we have a direct testimony to the specific belief, I really don’t see how this is relevant.

  • Greg G.

    Some of the correspondences you might count in favor of Paul knowing some of the Gospel story may be the other way around. Mark seems to have been acquainted with the Letter to the Galatians. Compare Gal. 4:6 and Mk 14:36 for “Abba, Father”. Check Gal. 5:14 and Mark 12.31 for “Love your neighbor as yourself”, which comes from Lev.19:18. James 2:8 also quotes that passage which lends support that it was written in opposition to Paul, or vice versa.

    But the characters of James, John, and Peter seem to be drawn on how Paul presents them in chapters 1 & 2. They are “esteemed as pillars” in Gal. 2:9 and James and John want to sit at either hand of Jesus in glory, in Mark 10:35-45, and James power reaches from Jerusalem to Antioch as we see in Gal. 2:11-13. Peter is wishy-washy in that passage and in Mark by denying Jesus. These characters play major roles in Mark. Andrew and Judas pop up in one story each after chapter 3 while the other disciples are mentioned only once.

    But in Mark 7:19, Jesus abolishes the food laws. If this really happened, Peter and James would have known that rather than Paul. Peter wouldn’t have worried about what James thought about eating with Gentiles. This shows that it was Mark stealing Paul’s point and putting it into Jesus’ mouth.

  • Greg G.

    The Eucharist may have been introduced by Paul (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Justin Martyr tell us that the mysteries of Mithras were stolen from the Christians for they had bread and a cup of water in their rites. But Plutarch (~45 – 120 AD) tells us, in his biography of Pompey, that the pirates of Cilicia performed sacrifices and secret rites for Mithras which continue to the present time.

    Paul came from Tarsus and the capital of Tarsus was Cilicia.

    Mark may have taken it from 1 Corinthians.

  • Michael

    This bit has always intrigued me: “He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.” Paul seems to be unaware that Judas was dead and Christ appeared only to “the Eleven”.

    • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

      Paul seems to be unaware that Judas was dead and Christ appeared only to “the Eleven”.

      There are a few of ways to explain this without saying “Paul didn’t know therefore it is false!”. Here are the ones I could think of (in the order I would choose them):
      1.”The Twelve” was the name of the group, even if the number in the group was not 12.
      2. Paul was using a gloss so as not to say the more cumbersome, “the eleven remaining of the twelve” or “the twelve without the betrayer.” (I view this as the second most likely)
      3. Christ actually appeared to the 11 remaining from the 12 as well as Matthias (I suppose that strictly speaking Paul does not say “the Twelve and only the Twelve”, that does not seem to be a terribly compelling argument, however).

      I think the evidence for these is thin:
      4. Paul made a mistake (much like you might mistakenly forget a capital letter in a password) (admittedly, only certain denominations can allow for this, and most of those will go with #1).
      5. Acts 1 is not chronological and Matthias was added before the ascension (same issue as present in 4).

      In #4, it seems unlikely that Paul would have made such a mistake. In #5 we have little evidence to suggest that Acts was not largely chronological, even if a good portion of it is a series of glosses. I have encountered no one who was of the opinion that Acts 1 was scrambled somehow and the text does not suggest that otherwise.

      Any one of those strike me as more likely than:
      6. Paul was ignorant of the events.
      7. Judas never died/was still among the Twelve/never was.

      In #’s 6 and 7 the problem is that Paul speaks of a traitor among Jesus’s followers. It seems unlikely that he would have known that detail without knowing that the traitor was close to Jesus/one of the twelve. Further, the gospel evidence (admittedly much later, but still valuable testimony because of their agreement on this point) says that Judas was labeled as “the traitor” and that at the end of all four Gospels he remains unreconciled.

      • Richard S. Russell

        I can totally understand Point #1.

        I live in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Wisconsin Badgers, champion of the Big Ten, uh, Eleven, um, Twelve … ah, would you believe Fourteen? No, it’s still the Big Ten.

      • C.J. O’Brien

        Paul speaks of a traitor among Jesus’s followers.

        Where would that be, exactly? Paul doesn’t even speak of Jesus having followers, much less of any of their actions or characteristics. Apostolos means “messenger, herald”. You’re reading the gospels back into Paul and destroying the plain sense of the letters.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed” (1 Cor. 11:23; also 2 Tim. 2:8).

          That’s not quite the same thing, but it’s close.

        • C.J. O’Brien

          Not “betrayed”, “handed over, Delivered up”. By God. Recall my comment of yesterday regarding paradidomi and variants.

        • Greg G.

          Most of what Paul knows about Jesus, he seems to get from the Old Testament. He may have been thing about Psalm 41:9:

          9 Even my close friend,
            someone I trusted,
          one who shared my bread,
            has turned[b] against me.

          but I reckon that verse inspired Mark, too.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      It’s easy. Judas was immediately replaced by Matthias. Read the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles.

      • Greg G

        Not so fast! It’s not that easy. After the two disciples met Jesus on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, we find:

        33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. 36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

        So the Eleven were gathered in verse 33 and while they were still talking in verse 36, Jesus appears to them. That’s how the story evolved. First there were twelve, then Judas became the betrayer, then they started trying to work out the math later. It’s silly to say, “No, no. no, they are all right” when the contradictions are so clear.

      • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

        Judas was immediately replaced by Matthias. Read the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles.

        I realize that this is pedantic, but if we are to take Acts as purely chronological, then the election of Matthias takes place after the Ascension and before Pentecost. This would have meant that from Good Friday until after Christ returned to the Father there would have been only eleven in the Twelve. He would not have been able to appear to the Twelve as a full set.

        That said, I think that saying the passage “first to Cephas… unnaturally” is being taking extremely literally which strikes me as diametrically opposed to the author’s intent: generalize the events to demonstrate the bizarre case of his elevation to the apostleship. Obviously a number of appearances were left out. 500 looks very much like a generalization (did they have a sign in sheet?).

        Actually, now that I’m thinking about it (and if this is too off-topic (Bob or father), perhaps you (father) could contact via email), “first” in the New Testament often does not mean “chronologically before everyone else.” Immediately, the listing of the Apostles comes to mind: Peter is labeled “first” even though that title belongs to Andrew chronologically. Now, if that is how Paul meant “first”, I think that would both be an amazing testimony to primacy. A modern writer might have put it, most importantly Christ appeared to Peter, next in importance is the Twelve, they are followed by the 500, who are followed by the bizarre case: me.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      One interpretation (I’m not sure how widespread this is among scholars) is that in the NT we’re seeing two conflicting stories—12 loyal disciples vs. a traitor in the inner circle.

      Matt. 19:28 supports the first story: “…You who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Also note that Paul’s 1 Cor. 15 talks about Jesus appearing to the Twelve, but Mathias didn’t replace Judas until after Jesus’s postmortem appearances.

      More in this video.

  • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

    And yet Paul doesn’t. He admits that he doesn’t even have a cheese sandwich to convince the Jews.

    What is the pedigree of your interpretation? Did you come up with it yourself? If you got it from someone else, where? If not why is it not conspicuous that you are the first one to think of it in the atheist community? It certainly is not in the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, it is not obvious in the atheist section of about.com, and I can find no other reference to it online. I find this odd as this would most definitely be something which I would expect other places, yet there is no reference to it. If this is the clear and correct reading of the text, why is that interpretation not more prominent?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Originally, from Robert Price (I have a link to that source above–it’s only a few minutes). And then I checked it out myself.

      I’m open to the idea that I’m misinterpreting it, but your alternate explanation makes no sense.

      • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

        Originally, from Robert Price (I have a link to that source above–it’s only a few minutes)

        Just as a note: Price’s standing in New Testament studies is about as reliable as Kent Hovind’s position among biologists.

        I will partially concede. My explanation was definitely lacking. And, strangely enough, you have more of a point than I was willing to admit.

        Apparently the stumbling block has to do with two issues. First, the Messianic expectations of the first century Jew was that the Messiah would have been a political victor (this was the most common of four different versions of the Messianic expectation and it looks like it is one of the later ones). The crucifixion would have been seen not only as a denial of this, but many would actually consider it blasphemous. In addition to that there is the problem of Deuteronomy 18, which says that a prophet will be verified by predictive ability. Since someone claiming to be Christ could not have been crucified, it means that his standing of a prophet would have been completely rejected outright (“you said you were Christ, Christ will be a political victor, you are not a political victor, therefore you can be ignored.”).

        So, the long and the short is that we are both right. In the broader sense there were definitely signs and wonders going on (1 Cor. 12), but in the more narrow, Jewish sense the evidence was seen as self-contradiction. Basically: there could have been any number of healings, wonders, and miraculous events, but none of them would count if someone was convinced that the crucifixion violated the prophesy.

        • Richard S. Russell

          To repeat, as an aid to better communication:
           • prophesy (-SIGH, with an “s”) is the verb
           • prophecy (-SEE, with a “c”) is the noun

        • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

          To repeat, as an aid to better communication:
          • prophesy (-SIGH, with an “s”) is the verb
          • prophecy (-SEE, with a “c”) is the noun

          Well. Egg on my face then.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          IT:

          Just as a note: Price’s standing in New Testament studies is about as reliable as Kent Hovind’s position among biologists.

          Guess again. Kent has a lot of hot air; Price has two relevant doctorates. Biologists rightly see Kent as a joke, but NT scholars dismiss Price at their peril.

          the Messianic expectations of the first century Jew was that the Messiah would have been a political victor (this was the most common of four different versions of the Messianic expectation and it looks like it is one of the later ones).

          I’ve heard this, but I’ve never seen what grounded their beliefs. I don’t think this is in the Bible, is it? Maybe noncanonical writings? I’d appreciate some background on this, thanks.

          Since someone claiming to be Christ could not have been crucified, it means that his standing of a prophet would have been completely rejected outright

          This is the argument that Wm. Lane Craig makes–that Jesus was not at all what they expected. Who’d make up something like this?? Gotta be true.

          But then that contradicts Matthew (in particular) who cites prophecy after prophecy that Jesus fulfilled.

        • Greg G.

          Apparently the stumbling block has to do with two issues. First, the Messianic expectations of the first century Jew was that the Messiah would have been a political victor (this was the most common of four different versions of the Messianic expectation and it looks like it is one of the later ones). The crucifixion would have been seen not only as a denial of this, but many would actually consider it blasphemous. In addition to that there is the problem of Deuteronomy 18, which says that a prophet will be verified by predictive ability.

          They had a prophecy that the seed of David would sit on the throne forever but the Babylonians ended that as well as other nations. The prophets said it was because Yahweh was still mad that they didn’t sacrifice properly for a long time.

          Eventually, they began to wonder why they were still being punished by not having their own king in power. They went to the scriptures and found they could cherry-pick verses that let them believe a conquering Messiah was coming. They fact that these messages were being revealed was an indication to them that the Messiah was imminent. When people began to die off, they started believing those would be resurrected.

          By the first century, some were still looking for more prophecies in the scriptures to explain why they were still waiting. They began to pick verses on suffering as referring to something the Messiah had done long before. These are the same verses Christian point to as prophecies of the crucifixion. Again when they began to read these prophecies into the text, they thought this revelation told them that the Messiah would be coming soon. You can find some of their writing under the name “Epistles of the New Testament”.

          By the time Mark wrote a midrashic narrative to explain the fall of Jerusalem in terms of that Messiah, some of that generation were thinking the Epistle Jesus had been on Earth. The other gospel writers took Mark as the gospel truth (pun intended).

        • Hilary

          Hey guys, Greg, Bob, I. Theo, do you mind if I add to your conversation? I actually am Jewish, as you may have guessed from my posts with Smrnda, and I’ve studied this part of Jewish/Christian history a bit, from both sides.

          One reason that Jews would have rejected Paul that no one has brought up yet is that he was teaching heretical theology. Regardless of weither or not Jesus fulfilled the prophesies for the Messiah – which some of you have already noted that he didn’t, by Jewish standards – what Paul taught about sin, atonement and the law makes no sense compared to how Jews understand them, then or now. Reading the letters of Paul, he comes across as foreign, Other, to me as a Jew – it’s hard to understand where he’s coming from. It’s not just because his work is 2,000 years old, I’ve read moral and theological work of Jewish sages from the same time as Paul that I understand, even if I don’t agree with them.

          For example, we don’t consider the Law a curse, we see it as a blessing. The rabbi’s then considered it a blessing and a gift. There was never the expectation that it had to be followed perfectly, and that one mistake would condem you forever. The Hebrew word is mitzvot, and in our prayers we recite “asher kidshanu b’mitvzotav, v’tzivanu” roughly meaning “that which makes us holy, our commandments, and we’re commandanded to . . .” or more simply said “who has hallowed us with mitzvot, and commanded us to . . .” So what Paul is saying regarding the Law being a curse is about as convincing to a Jewish audience, then or now, as someone saying to a Christian audience that communion and baptism is meaningless.

          If any of you are interested I’ll explain why Paul dosen’t make sense by Jewish standards on sin and atonement, but I know you’re all busy with Christmas, so I’ll check back over the next couple days after the holiday. Merry Christmas!

          Hilary

        • Richard S. Russell

          Hey, Hilary, Thanks for the cheerful thots. As an atheist, I celebrate Xmas day with my annual holiday movie blitz. I hit the multiplex for the 1st show of the day, and as soon as it’s over I walk back to the box office, see what’s up next, and buy a ticket for that. So, yeah, I’m kind of busy anyway, enjoying my favorite medium for fiction (IE, not the Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita, Zend Avesta, Book of Mormon, etc., which are badly written and too far-fetched for this SF/fantasy fan to find credible).

          Kind regards back to you, and remember to keep the X in Xmas. 8^D

  • Rick Townsend

    This is an example of the classic Argument from Silence Fallacy. Wikipedia could use it as an example of the error.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      If I said “Paul doesn’t say that Jesus did miracles; therefore Jesus didn’t do miracles,” that would be a great example. Unfortunately for Wikipedia’s list of examples, this post didn’t say that.

      Your link has this: “Other scholars such as David Henige state that, although risky, such arguments can at times shed light on historical events.” That was my goal. I’m simply saying, “Paul’s ‘Jesus’ looks to be pretty limited. Didja ever think that he had a radically different idea of Jesus than the gospel writers did?”

      • Rick Townsend

        You said that Paul didn’t cover a lot of issues, and then conclude he didn’t know about them. This is an argument from silence. Your post listed omissions such as evidence Paul was talking about someone other than the Gospel version of Jesus. You said,

        Jesus did lots of miraculous “signs”—why didn’t Paul convince the Jews with these? Paul apparently didn’t know any. The Jesus of Paul is not the miracle worker that we see in the Jesus of the gospels.

        My point is that you are simply making an argument from silence concerning what Paul knew or didn’t know.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          My point is that you are simply making an argument from silence concerning what Paul knew or didn’t know.

          No, this isn’t an argument from silence. Paul says that he can’t convince the Jews because of what the Jews demand: signs. If he had signs (miracles), he’d have shown then.

          I guess he didn’t have them.

        • Rick Townsend

          At least you are admitting it is a guess. In this case, a guess based on what isn’t mentioned. Any way you parse it, you are still making an argument (or a guess, more accurately) from silence.

          Thanks for confirming that.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Why is everything adversarial with you? I’d prefer to discover the truth through discussion, but you seem to see life as a zero-sum game. If you’re to win, I must lose. (I’ve heard that that was Genghis Khan’s motto, FWIW.)

          Let’s review our information: Paul said, “Jews demand signs,” which he called “a stumbling block.” My conclusion: he didn’t have the signs by which to satisfy the Jews.

          So you spin that however you want, by adding “guess,” “admission,” “retrenchment,” “concession,” “sobbing with his worldview crashing around him,” and so on as needed.

        • Rick Townsend

          This is sort rich. You asked,

          Why is everything adversarial with you?

          I was under the impression you wrote a book and started a blog for the specific purpose of attacking my belief system, and for answering your claims, I am adversarial? Interesting rules to the game you play! If you didn’t want adversaries, then write on gardening, perhaps.

          Let’s review our information: Paul said, “Jews demand signs,” which he called “a stumbling block.” My conclusion: he didn’t have the signs by which to satisfy the Jews.

          Your original article made the claim that since Paul didn’t talk about Jesus’ miracles, he (Paul) didn’t know that those miracles took place. You are simply in error to make that conclusion from the data cited. It is an argument from the silence of what Paul’s writings didn’t say to the understanding that he didn’t know about these things. You have received posts from folks pointing this out in various ways, which you reject instead of saying, “Gosh, that’s a great point. Thanks. I may be wrong here.” Those are words and an attitude I don’t hear from you nor see in your responses. Paul spent time with the apostles and clearly knew what his contemporaries knew. The quote about Jews seeking signs was in reference to their wanting a magic show instead of seeking truth. Paul was providing truth.

          Paul himself did miracles as well. Here is a partial list from Acts:
          Paul converted, claims to have had a vision; Road to Damascus; 9:1-9
          Paul heals a cripple; Lystra; Acts 14:8-10
          Paul casts out a spirit of divination; Philippi; Acts 16:16-18
          Paul and Silas’s prison doors opened by an earthquake; Philippi; Acts 16:25-26
          Paul communicates the Holy Spirit; Corinth; Acts 19:1-6
          Paul heals multitudes; Corinth; Acts 19:11-12
          Paul restores Eutychus to life; Troas; Acts 20:9-12
          Paul shakes off a viper ; Malta; Acts 28:3-6
          Paul heals the father of Publius and others; Malta; Acts 28:7-9

          The fact that Paul doesn’t trumpet these events in his own writings ought to be evidence of his humility, not his lack of knowledge. of such things. But clearly Paul knew miracles existed, and though he doesn’t mention doing miracles, his purpose was to set out theology and mentor those he was training, not provide a history lesson.

          Not sure why it is so hard for you to admit that you are guessing about what Paul knew. You surely are. You have no direct evidence to the contrary. Sorry to be adversarial, but that is the way I see it.

        • Richard S. Russell

          Rick, you have a tiny granule of truth here which you are trying to inflate to the size of a Nebraska silo. The “argument from silence” is most appropriately invoked when there is COMPLETE silence on a subject. Example:
          X: What did George Washington have to say about the production of yak milk in Peru?
          Y: So far as I can tell, nothing whatsoever.
          Z: Well, he must have been totally opposed to yak milk, then.

          Here’s a slight variant on that:
          X: What did George Washington have to say about the production of cherries in Virginia?
          Y: Um, nothing in particular, other than a single reference to chopping down a cherry tree, which may be apocryphal.
          Z: Well, he must have been totally opposed to cherries, then.

          I hope you will grant that there is SLIGHTLY more evidence for Washington’s opposition to cherries than for his opposition to yak milk, yes? And, if so, then the “argument from silence” admits of gradations, in which some conclusions have a higher percentage probability of being justified than others. I will stop here (for the time being) with GW analogies until I determine whether we have consensus on this point.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Interesting rules to the game you play!

          If my reaction makes no sense to you, I can’t imagine that you’d understand them if I explained them.

          Your original article made the claim that since Paul didn’t talk about Jesus’ miracles, he (Paul) didn’t know that those miracles took place.

          More that Paul’s admission that he had nothing to satisfy the Jews’ demand for signs was his explicit statement that he knew of no miracles.

          Paul spent time with the apostles and clearly knew what his contemporaries knew.

          And what was that? Our only source is Paul and, as I’ve tried to summarize, he doesn’t say much. Did Paul know about the water-to-wine miracle? Feeding the 4000? Raising Lazarus? To make that claim is simply an argument from silence (within Paul’s writings).

          Paul himself did miracles as well. Here is a partial list from Acts:

          Yes, I understand that we have these claims in Acts. Since Acts was decades later by many historians’ accounts, my goal was to look at our earliest and supposedly most reliable records to see what Paul said. He explicitly says very, very little as the Gospel of Paul (above) makes clear. The door slams shut IMO with his “stumbling block” statement.

          Does that prove anything? Not in my mind. But it raises one very plausible explanation of the facts: Paul, our earliest source, had a very limited view of Jesus; in particular, Paul had no knowledge of miracles performed by Jesus or performed in his name. Then, decades later, the evolving oral stories culminate in the much more elaborate story that was written in the gospels and Acts.

          But clearly Paul knew miracles existed

          Why is this clear? How do we know that the Acts accounts aren’t embellished?

          If you’re saying that you can weave an alternate explanation of the facts with this as a conclusion, OK, I’ll grant that. Now we compare the two explanations to see which is the more plausible.

        • Greg G.

          Paul converted, claims to have had a vision; Road to Damascus; 9:1-9

          Just as we often quote cliches from Shakespeare without realizing their source, Luke seems to have done that in the third version of Paul’s conversion story in Acts 26:14 where we see a cliche about “kicking at the pricks”. This cliche came from Euripides Bacchae and appears in other Greek writings. So we have Luke quoting Paul quoting Jesus quoting Dionysus, the Greek god. Would Resurrected Jesus really quote Greek gods from Greek literature?

          Paul and Silas’s prison doors opened by an earthquake; Philippi; Acts 16:25-26

          This Deus-ex-machina also comes from Bacchae. Luke also uses it in Acts 5:19 and 7:12.

          Paul restores Eutychus to life; Troas; Acts 20:9-12

          This is a twist on the story of Elpenor from Homer’s Odyssey.

          Paul heals the father of Publius and others; Malta; Acts 28:7-9

          The shipwreck that puts Paul on Malta is remarkably like the shipwreck that put Josephus on that island. When I first compared the accounts, I thought they were both on the same ship. Then I saw that Steve Mason showed how many similar coincidences there were in Luke and Acts that it became obvious that Luke was using Josephus as a source and a muse.

          We can see the fiction in Acts.

        • Greg G.

          Oops! The phrase “and appears in other Greek writings” was added to the wrong paragraph. It may be true but I’m not certain. It should have gone onto the the first sentence of my second paragraph about the chains falling off people in the Bacchae.

        • Richard S. Russell

          This calls to mind a standard sig line I haul out whenever I encounter some naive religionist who insists that their sacred papers were handed down in pristine purity from generation to generation, because who would dare tamper with holy writ? Here ’tis, suitable for copying and pasting for the rest of your life: “True believers have engaged in child rape, torture, mayhem, murder, and genocide, all for the greater glory of the Biblical God. What on Earth makes you think their consciences would bother them so much that they’d draw the line at mere lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and forgery?”

        • Rick Townsend

          To Richard Russell,

          This calls to mind a standard sig line I haul out whenever I encounter some naive religionist who insists that their sacred papers were handed down in pristine purity from generation to generation, because who would dare tamper with holy writ?

          Feel free to haul out whatever you want, but no argument like you made up has been asserted in this conversational thread. Strawman.

          Here ’tis, suitable for copying and pasting for the rest of your life: “True believers have engaged in child rape, torture, mayhem, murder, and genocide, all for the greater glory of the Biblical God. What on Earth makes you think their consciences would bother them so much that they’d draw the line at mere lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and forgery?”

          Why would you conclude that those who commit child rape, torture, mayhem, murder and genocide are true believers? Stalin, Mao, Che, Castro and Hitler were atheists or arguably worshippers of the occult. The present wave of violence in the world is perpetrated principally by radical Islamists, communists or egomaniacal dictators. You atheists have a lot of explaining to do about violence.

        • RichardSRussell

          “Why would you conclude that those who commit child rape, torture, mayhem, murder and genocide are true believers?”

          Lollipops are a type of candy.
          That doesn’t mean that all candy is lollipops.

          You are reading backwards from what I actually wrote.

        • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

          Sorry, don’t have enough time for all of it, but this comes to mind immediately:

          This cliche came from Euripides Bacchae and appears in other Greek writings. So we have Luke quoting Paul quoting Jesus quoting Dionysus, the Greek god. Would Resurrected Jesus really quote Greek gods from Greek literature?

          That is quite possible. The phrase was also used in the Psalms of Solomon and while those do not have a pristine pedigree, they were commonly known in the first half of the first century AD. It is more than possible that the phrase entered into common usage before before that (after all, the Judeans were in contact with them for a century and a half before Christ was born). It also appears in the Didache and the writings of Ignatius of Antioch. The fact that Christ, Paul, or Christ-through-Paul-through-Luke used such a phrase is no more surprising than a Christian man using the word “Tuesday” even though it was named after Týr, a Norse god. It is a part of the language and had been for some time.

          Actually, this rather reminds me of the people who get all hot and bothered by the use of “literally” in the context of hyperbole: it’s been that way for more than a half century why are they whining about it?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Rick:

          You atheists have a lot of explaining to do about violence.

          And that’s what I tell the vegetarians. They have a lot of explaining to do about Hitler, one of their own.

  • Hilary

    Smrnda

    The best understanding of Paul that I’ve come across is from the book “A Jewish understanding of the New Testament” by Rabbi Samuel Sandmel, Professor of Bible and Hellenistic Liturature, Hebrew Union College, copyright 1956. It is a book explaining the NT for Jews, by a Jew, which is helpful beause it explains Christianity with the baseline understanding from a Jewish POV. IMO it does a better job then the recent “Jewish Annotated New Testament” although that’s good too. This book gives the only explaination of Paul that is sympathetic to both his spiritual issues and how difficult he is to understand from a Jewish POV. It is a very good book.

    I think Paul was caught between two worlds, Jew vs Greek, couldn’t reconcile between them and thus created a new way through newly emerging Christianity. That he was a Jew and Pharisee of Tarsus, not Palastine, meant that he had to somehow reconcile Judaism with Greek philosophy. That set up a crisis of faith that would not have happened had he been from Palastine, and could not be reconciled by traditional Jewish teachings at the time. Paul was deeply conflicted by the dichotomy of the physical versus the spiritual, which is part of the Greek culture around him. Sandmel spends time comparing Paul to Philo, another Greek Jew. Here, this sums up a lot:

    “For Philo, observence of the laws of Judaism was the soul’s path to salvation. The essential difference between this point of view andthat of Palestinian Judaism ithat P.J. never concieved of man as requiring such salvation. Traditional Judaism to this day had no such doctrine, since it never accepted the Greek premise that the material world is evil, but insisted that it was good. But for Paul and Philo, who were Jews inclined by by the Greek atmosphere towards the goal of transcending physical nature, salvation from the material world was the very focus of religious aspiration. Philo paved his road to salvation with an alleforical midrash on the meaning of Jewish Law. Paul found his salvation in his interpretation of the meaning of the career of Christ.” (p51)

    The other quote that always comes to mind for me with regards to Paul is one from a paper I read in high school about Martin Luther. After about 8 pages of going over Luther from different view points, historical, theological, and psychoanalytical, the paper concluded by saying that quote “there are grave difficulties with psychoanalyzing the dead.”

    I don’t know if the pun was intentional, but I’ve never forgotten it and I think that’s a good thing to keep in mind when trying to understand dead dudes from long ago.

    Hilary

    • Hilary

      sorry for the typo’s. typing one handed with a cat on my lap – I never seem to catch all of them.

      • smrnda

        THanks for posting anyway, and I type with cats on my lap hands and shoulders enough to know. You did a great job explaining how some concepts more or less totally alien to Judaism became part of Paul’s worldview. I’ll check out the sources.

  • Greg G.

    5. He was a descendant of David: “his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David” (Rom. 1:3).

    Richard Carrier recently posted about a radio debate he had with Mark Goodacre. He says:

    4. What about those two passages about his birth? I didn’t have time to address (beyond generally) two other facts Goodacre mentioned, that Paul does indeed say Jesus’ flesh was “descended from the seed of David” (actually Paul says “born/made,” not “descended”) and “talks about [Jesus] being born of a woman.” I remarked that these claims are also explicable on mythicism, but didn’t elaborate. In the second case (Gal. 4:3-5) Paul is speaking allegorically (Gal. 4:23-26); and in the first, prophetically (the Christ must have been Davidic, so that was simply assumed–hence Paul does not mention how he knows Jesus was Davidic, like mentioning who his father was; yet to effect an incarnation God can make any seed he wants, including a seed from David: 1 Cor. 15:36-38). See Thomas Verenna’s chapter on this (and other evidence in Paul) in Is This Not the Carpenter? (which I reviewed in July). I don’t agree with Verenna’s every point, but he adequately illustrates how ambiguous these references are when understood in context.

  • SparklingMoon

    Bob Seidensticker says: December 22, 2012 at 12:15 am
    The Bible makes clear that Jesus had a spirit body.
    ————————————————————————————————

    According to the Bible if jesus has a spirit body after cross then there is question that why Jesus had kept this miracle a secret and forbade others also to disclose it? If it is argued that he was afraid of being caught,then there is again a question that the decree of God when had descended upon him, and he had, after suffering death, come to life again, assuming a spiritual body, what fear did he now have of the Jews? If he was a spirit,surely the Jews had no power over him. He was now beyond and above mortal existence?

    It is surprising that on the one hand, it is said that he was made to live again and assume a spiritual body, the time he met the disciples and went to Galilee and went to heaven, he is nevertheless afraid of the Jews for quite trivial things and, in spite of his spirit body, he fled secretly from the country, lest the Jews discover him; he made a journey of seventy miles to Galilee in order to save his life and time and again asked the people not to mention this to others. Are these the signs and ways of a spirit body?

    Second you have written the reference:
    Jesus came and stood in the middle, and said to them, “Peace be to you.”When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad when they saw the Lord. ( John19-20)
    There is no word that he descends from sky as a spirit but the word ‘came’ and the purpose of Jesus to show his hands was to make them believe that he is with the same physical body with wounds on it, which had been saved from death. As he had still the fear of the Jews, Jesus, making use of all precautions, left the land in the search of other lost sheep(the ten tribes of Israel) after appointing his followers to preach in the people of Israel in his place as it states in the next verse:“Peace be to you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. ( John19- 22)

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Moon:

      The New Testament says that he had a spirit body (John 20:19, Luke 24:31-36). But of course many Christian apologists will insist that it was physical (Luke 24:38–43, John 20:24-29).

      Conclusion: the Bible is contradictory. That’s hardly a good sign for a book that claims to be supernaturally inspired.

      • SparklingMoon

        Bob Seidensticker says: December 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm
        The Bible is contradictory. That’s hardly a good sign for a book that claims to be supernaturally inspired.
        —————————————————————————————–
        A revealed book is superior to a man-made book because we can assume that the revealed one will not lead us into error. God is sheer guidance and a book revealed by Him we may expect to find only light and truth, no darkness or error. Belief in a book entails belief that that book is free from error. It is possible, however, that a book originally revealed by God may come to suffer from human interference. If the contents of a book have suffered additions and subtractions at human hands, then that book can no longer serve as a guide.

        For example ,the followers of the Old Testament regard it as a revealed book. Christians also describe it as a Book of God,and Muslims also think that it was a revelation. But it is one thing for a book to be revealed, and quite another for that book to retain intact its revealed text. No doubt, all the three peoples-Jews, Christians and Muslims, agree that God spoke to the Prophets of the Old Testament. But they no longer believe, and external and internal evidence no longer support the view, that the record of the Old Testament as we possess it today constitutes the word of God as it was first revealed.

        The same reality can be applied to New Testament as it can not claim that its all words are a revealed one (as the writers of New Testament had written the teachings and circumstances of Jesus later in their own words).Second,what is written in the Gospels is mostly read by his followers through the Glasses of Saint Paul and in the light his theory Trinity.It is the reason that the words of Jesus are mostly changed into new complicated explanations and this trend turn his simple and clear words into an implausible myth.

        • Richard S. Russell

          “A revealed book is superior to a man-made book because we can assume that the revealed one will not lead us into error.”

          I heartily agree with this and cite as my evidence the following:

          “(1) This sacred book was revealed by Kush to his prophet, Rocko S. Fitch, who wrote it down word for word and added the punctuation later.
          “(2) This book is absolutely 100% completely true, and if you fail to believe any part of it, you will be cursed forever by an itchy spot in the middle of your back right where you can’t scratch.” —The Sacred Book of Kush, Chapter 1

          Kush also warns about being led into error:

          “(1) Kush points out that all the stuff you hear about this so-called supreme being, God (alias Yahweh, Elohim, Allah, Ahura Mazda, etc.), is simply a fraud perpetrated by people who ought to know better.
          “(2) Don’t believe a word of it.
          “(3) Kush is the one and only original supreme being.” —The Sacred Book of Kush, Chapter 4

          Since this came from a revealed book, SparklingMoon, I’m sure you agree with every word of it, right? Wouldn’t want to be led into error, after all.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Since Kushites existed 3000 years before the Book of Kush, I wonder if that’s further proof of the divinity of the book. Or perhaps it’s a curve ball thrown by Kush to test our faith.

          My faith will not be shaken!

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Moon:

          A revealed book is superior to a man-made book because we can assume that the revealed one will not lead us into error.

          Agreed. Now: show me a book that the evidence clearly shows is revealed. I’ve seen nothing but take-it-on-faith claims.

          For example ,the followers of the Old Testament regard it as a revealed book.

          Yeah, and the followers of the Book of Mormon think of that as a revealed book. They’re wrong, so why imagine that Jews’ thinking that the OT is revealed is any stronger a claim?

          But they no longer believe, and external and internal evidence no longer support the view, that the record of the Old Testament as we possess it today constitutes the word of God as it was first revealed.

          In the first place, religious Jews and Christians do believe that the OT accurately holds the word of God. In the second, why imagine that the Koran is any better?

    • Richard S. Russell

      This would all have been so much easier to understand if God had just thot to send along with the resurrected Jesus a companion with a video camera. I guess being all-knowing kind of limits your incentive to document events for history, tho, doesn’t it?

  • Rick Townsend

    And that’s what I tell the vegetarians. They have a lot of explaining to do about Hitler, one of their own.

    Well thought out, deep response to a serious problem on your side.

    • Richard S. Russell

      You think guilt by association is a serious problem but a claim of returning from the dead ISN’T?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Serious problem? You’ll have to tell me more. You said:

      Stalin, Mao, Che, Castro and Hitler were atheists or arguably worshippers of the occult.

      So these people either did believe in the supernatural (the occult worshippers) or didn’t (the atheists). OK–it’s hard to argue with that. And you’re saying that they did some bad stuff. Again, we’re on the same page.

      Now, what do we do with that? You won’t point the finger at vegetarians because of what Hitler did. You won’t point the finger at lefties because of [fill in the blank of some terrible left-handed person here] did. So why point the finger at atheists (or not-atheists) because of what these bad men did?

      • Rick Townsend

        In context, my answer was in response to one of your contributors, who accused Christians of these crimes. My reply was that eh charge was more fitting for atheists.

        As for the atheistsor occult characterization, since you need it spelled out,

        Atheists: Mao, Che, Stalin, Castro
        Occultists: Hitler (if the History Channel documentary and other sources are to be believed, otherwise he was an atheist.)

        Hope that clears it up.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I was already pretty clear about who fit into what bin, but it’s good to get your confirmation.

          And we’re still back to “Stalin the atheist did bad stuff, so whaddya think that says about atheists??” being of the same form as “Hitler the vegetarian did bad stuff, so whaddya think that says about vegetarians??”

          Vegetarians don’t have a holy book or guiding dogma, and neither do atheists. “Vegetarian” is a label for someone who doesn’t eat a certain thing, and “atheist” is a label for someone who doesn’t believe a certain thing.

          Assuming we’re still on the same page, I return to your list of (mostly) atheists and your conclusion, “You atheists have a lot of explaining to do about violence.” Still seems to be a non sequitur.

        • Rick Townsend

          No, it’s not a non sequiter that atheists have been responsible for the worlds greatest atrocities. But perhaps that’s just because they are striving to be the fittest who survive.

          But for balance, I’m sure you will take Mr. Russell to task for his similar attack on Christians. Should I hold my breath?

        • Richard S. Russell

          Rick, I’m not sure why you pull some random characteristic out of a hat and assume that it was that particular characteristic that had something to do with genocides. After all, both Hitler and Stalin had distinctive mustaches. Does that mean we need to worry about Geraldo Rivera and Tom Selleck? No, because their mustaches had nothing whatever to do with their policies and actions. Religious animus, OTOH, had everything to do with the atrocities of the Catholic Church. They were specifically out to screw people for no other reason than that they weren’t Catholic (or perhaps weren’t Catholic enuf, no matter how much they screamed their devotion to the faith as the flames licked higher).

          FWIW, Hitler professed lifelong devotion to the Catholic Church, and he specifically singled out a particular religious group — Jews — as the main target of his atrocities, so it appears that there was some religious motivation to the Nazi atrocities as well. Stalin, OTOH, just offed people by the boatload regardless of their religion, including shitloads of his fellow Communists, who also professed to be atheists like him, so it doesn’t appear that religion (or lack thereof) had diddly-squat to do with whom the Communists chose to butcher. Ditto for Mao.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          FWIW, Hitler professed lifelong devotion to the Catholic Church, and he specifically singled out a particular religious group — Jews — as the main target of his atrocities, so it appears that there was some religious motivation to the Nazi atrocities as well.

          Don’t forget that our old pal Martin Luther wrote On the Jews and their Lies. I imagine that anti-Semitism colored German thinking and that Hitler’s approach wasn’t completely foreign to those involved with the Final Solution.

  • Rick Townsend

    To Richard Russell,

    … I’m not sure why you pull some random characteristic out of a hat and assume that it was that particular characteristic that had something to do with genocides. After all, both Hitler and Stalin had distinctive mustaches.

    You brought up Christianity and made an unsubstantiated charge that “True believers have engaged in child rape, torture, mayhem, murder, and genocide, all for the greater glory of the Biblical God. ” You might tell me why you had the audacity to think that it was OK to pull this one particular characteristic out of a hat and assume that it was that particular characteristic that had something to do with the crimes you cited.

    I was just responding to your allegation. Find my comment absurd? Look at yours.

    Mao didn’t have a mustache, by the way.

    • Richard S. Russell

      Are you serious? The Bible alone is festooned with instances of those atrocities, and that was only the warm-up act, the “good example” subsequently followed by the Crusaders, the Inquisition, the Holocaust, the witch trials, the pedophilia, the Spanish child sales, the Irish convent peonage, the genocide of the Arawaks and other indigenous peoples of the America, and on and on and on. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the relentless censorship (of which the ILP was just the tip of the iceberg), the persecution of Galileo and other scientists, and all the other assaults on intellectualism. And misogyny? World without end, indeed. And you seriously have never heard of any of this? Wow.

      • Rick Townsend

        Why would you conclude I hadn’t heard of them? I don’t attribute them to true believers. I’ve made that distinction clear. Why do you write in total denial of the point I made? Have you not read my responses? I don’t intend to repeat them.

        You have yet to answer for atheist atrocities, though. And social Darwinism that preceded them had a direct philosophical link making allowance for those very ideas such as survival of the fittest, no absolute right and wrong, and defining our own moral behavior, all of which which led to those atrocities.

        • Richard S. Russell

          Why would you conclude I hadn’t heard of them? I don’t attribute them to true believers. I’ve made that distinction clear. Why do you write in total denial of the point I made? Have you not read my responses?

          Speaking of total denial, do you recognize the author of these words? You brought up Christianity and made an unsubstantiated charge that “True believers have engaged in child rape, torture, mayhem, murder, and genocide, all for the greater glory of the Biblical God.”

          There is nothing remotely unsubstantiated about those charges! Nothing! The historical record is crystal clear. You are in complete denial of reality if you think otherwise. Let me give you just one name, out of the thousands of culpable Christian true believers behind this endless string of bloodthirsty, perverse atrocities: Arnaud Amalric. Read up on him and tell us all how he doesn’t meet your definition of a true believer! What, you think only guys like Mohammed Atta qualify?

        • Rick Townsend

          Wow. You had to go back to the 1200′s. No, he isn’t what I would call a believer, true or otherwise. A true believer of Christ would follow His teachings. Mr. Almaric doesn’t qualify in my book. Thanks for asking.

        • Rick Townsend

          And just out of curiosity, I have no idea how Mohammad Atta got into the discussion of a true believer of Christianity. Another scattershot blast that doesn’t fit, I’m afraid.

        • Richard S. Russell

          Well, I’ll give you points for consistency. Christianity in general says “Whenever anything good happens, God gets the credit; whenever anything bad happens, Satan gets the blame.” Pretty clearly your personal idiosyncratic definition of “true believer” lets you justify any atrocity committed by any Christian at any time in history as “not one of us, so we don’t get the blame”. Neat. Not very persuasive, and certainly no testament to your intellectual integrity, but I guess it enables you to live with yourself.

          I cited Mohammed Atta to find out if, in your peculiar worldview, he qualified as a “true believer”, since he (a) was a fanatic Muslim, (b) led the airplane hijackers who destroyed the World Trade Center on 9/11, (c) did so for the great glory of Allah, and (d) wasn’t a Christian, which to you apparently constitutes a “get out of jail free” card good for all eternity.

        • Rick Townsend

          Atta was a true believer of Islam and carried out what his (radicalized) beliefs indicted he should. Your attacks previously were directed against Christian true believers, so he is a square peg in this round hole of a discussion. Once again, world view does have a causal relationship to actions. Thanks for making my point.

        • S73

          Here’s the bottom line. Paul saw a vision that he was willing to die for & claimed the vision was Jesus. it also caused him to change his life and spread Christianity through out the world for the rest of his life until executed for his beliefs.

          I don’t know about anybody else, but I have things that happen to me that keep me motivated for about 2 days and then it’s same old same old. He saw something that motivated him for life regardless of the consequences.

          Paul also met w/ James and Cephas to receive 1st hand accounts about Jesus most likely between 30-40 CE (most likely within the decade of Jesus’s death). Why do I know this? B/c Paul mentions that King Aretas of the Nebateans wanted to prosecute him for his Christian beliefs and he died in 40CE. So Paul’s conversion happened well before 40CE and he visited James and Cephas 3 years after his conversion. That makes him a convert and & puts him meeting w/ Cephas & James within the same decade of Jesus’s death. So he has a 1st hand account within a few year of the crucifixion from James and Cephas.

          As for no miracles? I would say rising from the dead is pretty high up there. Again, told to him by James and Cephas (if he didn’t already know) something they believed in so much so they too were willing to die for. You might find looneys that are willing to die for certain causes, but you won’t find anyone, let alone a dozen plus people willing to die for a hoax or something they know to be myth.

          Saying he did not exist is a modern notion and we as a modern society seem to be getting more and more arrogant in saying that we don’t need God. In essence almost putting ourselves above God.

          Did anyone on here ever wonder why the US historically has been the most Christian nation in Earth’s history and has seemed to be blessed above all others? Just saying’

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Let me suggest an alternative bottom line: all we have are copies of Acts + letters written by Paul. We’re not exactly sure what he said and what’s been added. That the epistles say something doesn’t mean that it’s actually true.

          He saw something that motivated him for life regardless of the consequences.

          Yes, it says that. No, that doesn’t mean that it actually happened.

          You can search for “die for a lie” to find a post that undercuts that Christian apologetic as well.

          modern society seem to be getting more and more arrogant in saying that we don’t need God.

          Let’s first decide if God exists or not. I see very little evidence.

          Did anyone on here ever wonder why the US historically has been the most Christian nation in Earth’s history and has seemed to be blessed above all others? Just saying’

          Did you toss that out as an actual serious argument or just chum?

          Just sayin’.

        • Richard S. Russell

          Rick, your response about how “well, they’re not ‘true believers’ in my book if I don’t approve of them, regardless of what they thot of themselves, their stated motivations, how they held themselves out to their contemporaries, or the uniform assessment of history” kept ringing a bell in the back of my mind. “I’ve heard that somewhere before,” I kept thinking to myself. Last night in bed it finally came to me where from. Here’s a historical re-enactment of the original quotation, captured on videotape, and performed by Frank Langella in the movie
          Frost/Nixon.

        • Rick Townsend

          Haven’t seen the movie you cited. No cause and effect there.

  • Rick Townsend

    FWIW, Hitler professed lifelong devotion to the Catholic Church, and he specifically singled out a particular religious group — Jews — as the main target of his atrocities, so it appears that there was some religious motivation to the Nazi atrocities as well.

    Don’t forget that our old pal Martin Luther wrote On the Jews and their Lies. I imagine that anti-Semitism colored German thinking and that Hitler’s approach wasn’t completely foreign to those involved with the Final Solution.

    These are sidetracks to the issue at hand. If you want to contend that Hitler was a true believer of Christianity, feel free to make your case. Luther is a rabbit trail. He is reputed to have some anti-semitic attitudes, but didn’t commit any crimes against them that I know of. Child rape, torture and genocide were the topics here. Luther isn’t in play.

    Another dodge. Change of subject, anyone?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Another dodge. Change of subject, anyone?

      Tangents come up. Sometimes I follow them. No, not a dodge.

      But while we’re on the subject of dodges, as I recall RBH had lobbed a bunch of balls into your court in comments to the “Tips for Dealing with Creationists” post. If you dislike dodges, I encourage you to go and follow up on those.

      • Rick Townsend

        Some tangents are easier to follow than others. Sometimes I follow them immediately. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I do research before following them. All in due time.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Follow them or not as the mood strikes you. Just don’t accuse me of trying to change the subject to avoid getting beaten in an argument.

        • Rick Townsend

          Bob, whether or not I have time to answer a post in a timely manner is totally disconnected from you changing the subject to avoid getting beaten in an argument. If you do that, and I have time, I will call you on it. Period. I am under no obligation to answer anything. But it is your blog, so if you misspeak, you are under obligation to own up to it. Totally different standard for you, whose job it is (by your own choice) to be responsive. I don’t have to do that. My timeliness is totally unrelated to your change of subjects.

          But you have changed it again from your failure to answer the issue of atheism leading to genocide while true believers of Christianity have not.

          Still a dodge on your part. Why perpetuate the charade by continuing it and trying to shine a spotlight on me that doesn’t matter? Why berate your contributors rather than staying on point? Makes it look like you don’t really want to stay on point.

          And it’s still an argument from silence post. That subject hasn’t been answered satisfactorily either with all the sidetracks.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          If you do that, and I have time, I will call you on it. Period.

          Obviously. I invite you to do so. You imagine that I’d object?

          But it is your blog, so if you misspeak, you are under obligation to own up to it. Totally different standard for you, whose job it is (by your own choice) to be responsive. I don’t have to do that. My timeliness is totally unrelated to your change of subjects.

          You’re reading a different Rules of Blogs than I am. You’re in the Twilight Zone here–I control the horizontal, and I control the vertical. I have no obligation to do anything. (And, of course, readers are under no obligation to stay if they don’t like the environment that I create here.)

          That said, your and my expectations of me look to be in alignment.

          No, you don’t have to respond to balls lobbed over the net to you. However, I may point out any instance where you have made a claim, where that claim has been slapped down, and a decent amount of time has elapsed with no rebuttal from you.

          Why we’re discussing this I can’t understand. You want me to listen to input and improve my arguments as weak points are shown to me. Surely you want the same for yourself. You are an enthusiastic observer of evolution; where you have misspoke, I’m sure that you want to never again use that flawed argument. Am I right?

          For years you’ve complained that I have no interest in engaging you in evolution. And now, in RBH, you have a thoughtful antagonist who can respond to your claims. You should be over the moon.

          But you have changed it again from your failure to answer the issue of atheism leading to genocide

          Wow–this really is the Twilight Zone. Haven’t we been over this? Correlation is not the same thing as causation.

          Yes, Stalin was bad; yes, Stalin was an atheist. What’s your point? If you’re saying that atheism causes genocide, prove it.

          And it’s still an argument from silence post.

          Repeat it enough and people believe it–is that the strategy here?

          You need to respond to my previous points with new information or ideas or insights. If I respond with just a cut and paste of what I said last time, we’re wasting time.

          Paul said that “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” My interpretation is that Paul came up short (he hit a “stumbling block”) when he tried to convince the Jews; therefore, he didn’t know of “signs” (miracles).

          If you want to show an alternate interpretation, that’d be fine. I’d like to hear it. But that’s an aside. The challenge that you’ve set up for yourself is to show that my interpretation is not simply (1) not unique, not simply (2) not the best interpretation, but (3) an invalid interpretation.

          Go for it.

        • Rick Townsend

          Perhaps it’s hard not to jump into conversations, but Mr. Russell brought up the correlation of Christians to various crimes, I didn’t. I merely responded that his post was much more deserved to be targeted at atheists, who have actually committed them. I’m still waiting for you to correct him on causation versus corellation. Oh, wait, you only correct those on the other side of the arguments.

          Your beef is with him. I just responded to his prompt. Pick your battles. And your targets.

          But since you brought it up, there is clear correlation between belief systems and actions. But that wasn’t the topic of this discussion.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Mr. Russell brought up the correlation of Christians to various crimes, I didn’t.

          Yeah, and you said, “You atheists have a lot of explaining to do about violence.” That’s what I’m responding to.

          his post was much more deserved to be targeted at atheists, who have actually committed them.

          OK, but don’t forget the vegetarians and left-handed people! Let’s not let them get off the hook.

          I’m still waiting for you to correct him on causation versus corellation.

          Wait–you’re dodging here, aren’t you? I thought you hated dodging. No?

          Does Mr. Russell need a good whack on the nose with a newspaper? Let’s take a look. I assume you’re referring to this statement of his:

          [Richard Russell:] True believers have engaged in child rape, torture, mayhem, murder, and genocide, all for the greater glory of the Biblical God. What on Earth makes you think their consciences would bother them so much that they’d draw the line at mere lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and forgery?

          I’m missing the correlation/causation problem. The pattern I’m looking for is “Person X did a bad thing; Person X was in category Y; therefore, category Y is bad” or “Bad thing A correlates with category B (that is, the stronger a B you are, the more A we see); therefore, category B is bad.” I don’t see that pattern. Show me what I should be looking for or if you have another statement in mind.

          Pick your battles. And your targets.

          You’re my target. You said, ” You atheists have a lot of explaining to do about violence.” Is there some problem with my responding to this inflammatory claim of yours? I mean, besides your not being able to justify it?

          there is clear correlation between belief systems and actions.

          Even if there were, who cares? There’s a correlation between height and weight, but I can’t grow taller by getting heavier.

        • Rick Townsend

          I care. Your sidestep analogies don’t work for me. Atheist world view has an outworking that leads to violence. Left-handed or overweight people is a non sequiter in this context. The causation is well established. Way to avoid the subject.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Your sidestep analogies don’t work for me.

          I remember Kent “Dr. Dino” Hovind using the same kind of technique in a radio interview. Say what you will about his biased approach to science, he was experienced and effective in radio debates against scientists who were easily blindsided by his rhetoric.

          In response to a scientist’s comment, he said, “Oh, that’s been thoroughly debunked. What else ya got?” I don’t remember the scientist’s response, but he had me going for a second before I saw through the smoke screen.

          And in a similar way, you need to show why my point doesn’t work. Simply asserting that it’s wrong doesn’t get you any points.

          Atheist world view has an outworking that leads to violence.

          You’ve mentioned Stalin and other Stalin-esque bad guys, and you’ve said this violence thing. I don’t know what “an outworking that leads to violence” means. That an atheist worldview inevitably leads to violence? Or what?

          If you have anything interesting here, then show us.

          Left-handed or overweight people is a non sequiter in this context.

          They are a non sequitur in the sense that they don’t cause violence, but they’re right on target as examples of categories, like atheism, for which cause and effect with violence hasn’t been established.

          The causation is well established.

          Golly–case closed, then?

          Deign to show me the causation. I missed the memo.

          Way to avoid the subject.

          Ah, so it’s me who’s playing games here? Good to know!

        • Rick Townsend

          Kent “Dr. Dino” Hovind

          Why bring up yet another rabbit trail when you haven’t dealt with what I raised effectively? Oh, yes, sidestep.

          I don’t know what “an outworking that leads to violence” means.

          OK. Kerby Anderson writes: “Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. He is a retired West Point professor, Army Ranger, and an expert in the study of violence in war and killing. He was also an instructor at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, and was one of the first on the scene of the Jonesboro, Arkansas school shootings.

          He saw the devastation wrought by the shootings–not just the five dead and ten wounded. He saw what happens when violence intrudes into everyday life. And he knows where that violence comes from. He says, “Anywhere television appears, fifteen years later, the murder rate doubles.”

          He says, “In the video games, in the movies, on the television, the one behavior that is consistently depicted in glamorous terms and consistently rewarded is killing.” Media violence may not explain every shooting, but it certainly seems correlated to the school shootings in the past (in Pearl, Mississippi, in West Paducah, Kentucky, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, in Springfield, Oregon, and in Littleton, Colorado).

          Dave Grossman goes into some detail in showing how violence in films, videos, and television can affect us. The parallels in his book, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, and what is happening in the media today are chilling. Two factors are desensitization and operant conditioning. Show soldiers (or children) enough visual images of violence and they will become desensitized to it. Practice shooting targets of people and conditioning will eventually take over. In some ways it doesn’t matter whether it’s soldiers doing target practice at a range or kids using point-and-shoot video games. The chilling result is the same: the creation of a killing machine.

          He further documents this in his book, Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence. Violence in the media and violent video games may not explain all these shootings, but they are certainly a contributory factor in many of them.

          You have also been directed previously to the worldview of the Nazis and Communists and how that led to their respective genocides, but you have rejected it. That is different from refuting it. Saying order of events is not the same as causation only sounds good. The causation link has been established.

          Deign to show me the causation.

          I did. You ignored it. I’m not going to repeat it.

          Ah, so it’s me who’s playing games here? Good to know!

          Yep. I’d have thought it would be good to act on as well, but you only choose to know it and act as if you don’t. Disappointing but not surprising, I’m afraid.

        • Rick Townsend

          I’ll share another causation-backing article that I just came across. You can deny it as usual, or you can think carefully about the evidence. Your choice. See Why did he Kill All Those Children?

        • Richard S. Russell

          Yes, Bob, if you live in wacko world, like Rick, any attempt to introduce reality looks AT BEST like game playing. AT WORST, the introducer is a tool of Satan and deserve to die — but only in the most loving way, you understand.

        • Rick Townsend

          …if you live in wacko world, like Rick…

          Way to deal with a challenge with a serious response. No comment is merited.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Oh, yes, sidestep.

          Wrong again.

          Dave Grossman goes into some detail in showing how violence in films, videos, and television can affect us.

          I’ve heard arguments that this supposed effect is nonexistent, but I have no interest in getting into this discussion.

          To your point: you don’t like violence in the media. I get that. How does that support your point “Atheist world view has an outworking that leads to violence”? Or are you sidestepping the issue?

          You have also been directed previously to the worldview of the Nazis and Communists and how that led to their respective genocides, but you have rejected it. That is different from refuting it.

          What evidence are you referring to? You mean in the distant past? Could’ve been, but I can’t respond to something that we don’t have in front of us.

          Give me a chance to refute it. I’m certain I won’t convince you, but perhaps the discussion will be helpful for the onlookers.

          Without any compelling argument, all we have is your impotent claim that atheism is bad. Zero points, I’m afraid.

          Saying order of events is not the same as causation only sounds good. The causation link has been established.

          Good–show me.

          I did. You ignored it. I’m not going to repeat it.

          Translation: my evidence won’t convince anyone, so I’m going to try stonewalling instead and see how far that gets me.

          So this is your argument? You just make a vague claim about violence and Stalin and then, when asked repeatedly for evidence, you just take your football and go home?

          It’s as clear that you have nothing as if you’d just come out and said it. As a sage once observed, “Thanks for confirming that.”

          Yep. I’d have thought it would be good to act on as well, but you only choose to know it and act as if you don’t. Disappointing but not surprising, I’m afraid.

          You’re preaching to the choir, bro. Reminds me of your claim in the “Tips for Dealing with Creationists” thread where you brought out that old standby, “evolution is random.” It was made clear that that was incorrect, which opened the door for you to say, “Y’know–my bad. I won’t be using that claim again.”

          Didn’t happen. Not surprising, I’m afraid.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Way to deal with a challenge with a serious response. No comment is merited.

          OK, so this is how it works: this type of response is effective only if you are impeccable in this regard yourself. You would be careful to give evidence for a claim when you make the claim (or quickly in response to a request for such evidence), you would back down gracefully from a statement that you made that you later realized was wrong (hey–we all make mistakes), and so on.

          But when you have a terrible record in that area, as you do, this kind of statement backfires. To those who’ve been paying attention, the irony of the pot calling the kettle black makes you look worse.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I’ll share another causation-backing article that I just came across.

          “Instead of scapegoating gun manufacturers, legislatures should require the violent video game industry to put big, clear warnings on their products as cigarette companies are forced to do.”

          Yeah, that’s the right balance! Who’d ever imagine that there was anything negative about the role of gun manufacturers in events like this?

          OK, we’ve had our moment of levity. Now let’s get back on target. No one (but you) wants to talk about media violence. It’s (dare I say it?) a sidestep.

          It’s weird how you get to change the subject, but I get my knuckles rapped for doing so. Nevertheless, I’ll toss out my own not-causation based article:

          Wow–it’s scary how autism and organic food sales track. It’s a clear correlation!

          But so what? This is trivia. There’s no reason to imagine that organic food consumption causes autism.

          And in a similar way, that Hitler was a vegetarian or that Stalin was an atheist do nothing to show causation. You’ve mentioned bad world leaders and violence in connection with atheism. Is there a cause-and-effect relationship here? If so, make it. If not, clarify what you did intend to say.

        • Rick Townsend

          I provide evidence of cause and effect, as you requested, and you say I’m changing the subject. Unbelievable. I give up. You win. I’m always wrong (in your eyes) and no amount of evidence will ever be accepted. I provide. You reject. THAT is how YOU play the game.

          I’m done being your pawn.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          You provide cause and effect to a completely unrelated issue! No one is talking about media violence.

          Yes, I want to see evidence of cause and effect, but on the topic that you raised. Does media violence and Sandy Hook somehow relate to Stalin and atheism?!

          Hey, people–am I the crazy one here? Is it all of a sudden kosher to provide cause-and-effect evidence for an unrelated topic and then somehow imagine that you’ve shouldered your burden for a different question?

        • Richard S. Russell

          Bob, Bob, you’re missing Rick’s point altogether here. Video games killed the Jews. Do we really have to spell it out in such detail for you?

  • SparklingMoon

    Richard S. Russell says: December 31, 2012 at 7:39 pm
    “(1) This sacred book was revealed by Kush to his prophet, Rocko S. Fitch, who wrote it down word for word and added the punctuation later.
    ————————————————————————————————-
    The words of a revealed book,in their appearance, seems as simple one as usually used in human written book but there exists , in reality,a huge difference between both of them. The real revealed words of God,actually,bear a hidden treasure of knowledge that always exposes itself on its time on people to guide them who meditate on their words. A seed of a fruit seems just a simple physical tiny thing and a person can not guess by its outwardly appearance the great unseen ability hidden inside of it. People come to know about its abilities when this tiny seed after having the pair of soil begins to turn in to a big tree and gives fruits for a time and produces further thousand seeds with the same ability of becoming trees for next future time ….I mean revealed words seems simple in appearance but have many many deep meanings and after having the soil of true wisdom of a righteousness person show its hidden meanings and benefits to guide a people.

    Second, the prophets of God are also physically human beings like ordinary people but their great holiness turns their human nature into a spiritual one and makes it possible for them to have a relation with the Spirit of God. Their spiritual nature on one side relates to the spirit of God and on the other side because of a physical being connects to human beings , becomes a source to draw the blessing of God for the people in the form of revelation.

    There is no comparison in the status of prophets and other common people (or this man of Rocko S. Fitch.) Many people get respect in their life and some after their life also but the great respect and love the prophets of God enjoy that is incomparable and a true sign of their truth. Prophets of God,in spite of physically passing away, live in the hearts of people and their followers always ready to give all sacrifice for them and for their teachings. Prophet Krishna was a prophet of God in India, about five thousand years ago but still is the beloved of millions people and millions are ready to give their lives for him. Is there any person who can made a claim of such a great respect in this world except the prophets of God.

    Why do all people are so interested in this person Jesus, who had passed away more than two thousands years ago ?And What urge is there,deep in the hearts of people, that bring them on these web sites to talk about him, to find a glimpse of truth about his person or to bring the real Messiah out who has hidden beneath the heaps of myths? Very simple and very straightforward answer and the fact is ; the great love Jesus has for his followers as a prophet .This great love of a prophet never finishes, in spite of physical death, for his people and incarnates in the person of other prophets or poise people again and again to guide his followers. This great love is an eternal part of prophet hood because a prophet is always selected by God on the condition of his immense love that he has for his people,otherwise the fulfillment of this big responsibility of Prophet hood with many sacrifices is impossible.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Moon:

      The real revealed words of God,actually,bear a hidden treasure of knowledge that always exposes itself on its time on people to guide them who meditate on their words.

      You do not want to get Russell started on the marvelous wisdom that pours from the book of Kush, like a neverending stream of cool, satisfying spring water.

      Many people get respect in their life and some after their life also but the great respect and love the prophets of God enjoy that is incomparable and a true sign of their truth.

      And dare we imagine the multitudes who will sing earnest praises of Rocko S. Fitch a thousand years from now?

      Prophet Krishna was a prophet of God in India, about five thousand years ago but still is the beloved of millions people and millions are ready to give their lives for him.

      I think you have a very different perspective on him than they do. You might think of him as a prophet, but the Indians call him a god.

      the great love Jesus has for his followers as a prophet .

      How do you know that he’s a prophet? Just faith or do you have evidence?

  • SparklingMoon

    Bob Seidensticker says: January 1, 2013 at 9:34 am
    In the first place, religious Jews and Christians do believe that the OT accurately holds the word of God.  In the second, why imagine that the Koran is any better?
    ————————————————————————
    The book of Torah was no doubt a divine book of God that was revealed for the sake of Children of Israel about fourthousand years ago and it was consisted of very high divine teachings and the followers of its teachings had attained spiritual heights and had became the Prophets of God. The Quran affirms the truth of all previous revelations and their being a source of guidance for the people of their time :”Before it was the Book of Moses for a model and amercy”(Quran46:12) “We gave unto Moses the Scripture, and We appointed it a guidance for the Children of Israel, saying: Choose no guardian beside Me.” Qur’an 17:2) But the Quran also makes aware that they had been changed later by their some followers: “The transgressors changed the word from that which had been given them.”(Quran2:59)

    These books are in a need to amend them and to sort out the words of God from the humans words and for it they are in a need of a saved revelation that provides a standard to judge right to wrong and the book of the Quran is a revelation of God that claims to be saved by God . As God Himself has promised to safeguard the integrity of His Word for all times to come: “Verily, it is We Who have sent down this Exhortation,and most surely We are its Guardians.”(Quran15:10)

    God says in the Quran that there are no people in the world to whom He had not sent a prophet.He verifies the truth of all previous prophets and their teachings: ”We have revealed to you, as We revealed to Noah and the prophets who came after him.And We revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac,Jacob, the Descendents, Jesus, Job,Jonah, Aaron,and Solomon. And We gave David the Psalm.” (Quran4: 163)
    The Quran verifies the truth of all previous prophets and their revelations but in the sense that first it presents the original teachings of these previous religions that had been revealed to their prophets. It is a great beneficence of the Quran to the followers of other religions that its revelation has freed all previous prophets and all holy books from all human made entries and false accusal and unjust condemnation that had been entered later by people for their own worldly purposes.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Moon:

      The book of Torah was no doubt a divine book of God

      I doubt it. Show evidence.

      God says in the Quran that there are no people in the world to whom He had not sent a prophet.

      You know that I’m an atheist, right? I have no god belief. This is just theology. Not convincing.

      • SparklingMoon

        (The book of Torah was no doubt a divine book of God.)
        Bob Seidensticker says: January 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm I doubt it. Show evidence.
        ——————————————————————————————————-
        The chief purpose of a Book of God is to rescue its followers from a life of sin and to improve them morally to such a high degree that their human nature turns into a spiritual one that they can establish a holy relationship with God in this very life. It is not the purpose of a religious book to teach people subjects of secular study or to instruct them in worldly inventions. When we see with this view of point the teachings of Torah (that were originally revealed to the Prophet Moses )we come to know that it had fulfilled the real purpose of its revelation . Many people among the children of Israel, by following the teachings of Torah, had reached to a high spiritual position and had become the beloved of God and some of them the prophets of God.

  • SparklingMoon

    Bob Seidensticker says: January 1, 2013 at 9:34 am
    In the first place, religious Jews and Christians do believe that the OT accurately holds the word of God.
    —————————————————————————————————
    There have crept into the Bible thousand statements which are immoral and irrational in their import. In the presence of these statements, it seems impossible to call them a revelation of God or to relate them to His Prophets. There is following only one example to guess either Old Testament is a completely a revealed one or human hand has finished its reliability and accuracy for human guidance. It states inGenesis 19 : 30-36:

    ”And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him ; for he feared to dwell in Zoar : and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. And the first born said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night : and the first born went in, and lay with her father ; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the first born said unto the younger, Behold I lay yester night with my father : let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also : and the younger arose, and lay with him ; and he perceived not when she lay down nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

    No comment is necessary on this terrible narrative. It offends our sense both of the factual and the moral. But the present Torah does not hesitate to attribute this to a Prophet. From this we have to conclude that the Torah, as we know it today, is not the Torah revealed to Moses. It must have been composed later by Jewish scholars at a time when they had developed hatred for the sons, real or supposed, of Lot, Moab and Ammon. The faith of these Jewish scholars had become so weak, their hearts had become so hardened that to defame Moab and Ammon they did not hesitate to attribute to the Prophet Lot conduct which is reprehensible in the extreme and the attribution of which to any Prophet is entirely in intolerable. Is the Christian and the Jewish world today prepared to hear such things attributed to the Prophets of God. If they are, it is only further evidence that we should have had a book which corrected the depraved mentality of our day.

    • Richard S. Russell

      Dude, NONE of it was “revealed”. It was all made up by human beings, every last bit of it. It’s a story (well, more properly, an anthology of many stories). It’s fiction. There may be some factual basis to some of it, but you can bet your bottom dollar that all the woo-woo stuff was just thrown in by the priest class to wow the rubes and keep the shekels rolling into the collection plate. How much of it was written by God? Easy answer: the world’s neatest, roundest number.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      It must have been composed later by Jewish scholars at a time when they had developed hatred for the sons, real or supposed, of Lot, Moab and Ammon.

      What’s hard to figure out? Gen. 19:37-8 says that the two children that resulted from this incest became the founders of two hated tribes, the Moabites and Ammonites. It’s an insult to them and an explanation to the Jews why those other tribes are so bad.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com.au/ Tim O’Neill

    “Please point out any omissions.”

    You seem to have omitted Paul’s mention of Jesus’ friend Peter and his brother James, who he says he met and consulted with in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:18-19). The fact Paul mentions (in passing) meeting Jesus’ friend, who he refers to by the Aramaic form of his nickname, and Jesus’ brother shows that Jesus was more than a legend and that Paul knew he was a historical person. That alone cuts the ground from under old Bobby Price and the rest of the “Jesus Myth” brigade.

    Yes, Paul says very little about much of the later Jesus tradition. And yes, this could indicate that some or even much of it represents later accretions (as most scholars accept). But no, Jesus was not *purely* legendary. Paul knew he was a recently deceased preacher who had been executed not long before Paul’s own conversion.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Tim:

      Yes, that’s an interesting point, though it doesn’t expand Paul’s definition of Jesus.

      The fact Paul mentions (in passing) meeting Jesus’ friend, who he refers to by the Aramaic form of his nickname, and Jesus’ brother shows that Jesus was more than a legend and that Paul knew he was a historical person. That alone cuts the ground from under old Bobby Price and the rest of the “Jesus Myth” brigade.

      And the fact that Dorothy came from Kansas (which really exists–I’ve been there) shows that that whole Oz thing must be true?

      Paul’s writings say things. Doesn’t mean that they’re true.

      But no, Jesus was not *purely* legendary.

      How do you know?

      • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com.au/ Tim O’Neill

        “And the fact that Dorothy came from Kansas (which really exists–I’ve been there) shows that that whole Oz thing must be true?”

        Bad analogy. Galatians is a letter to a community of people Paul knew, so its genre alone means the analogy with Baum’s novel begins to break down before we go any further. If we look at what this letter says, Paul is arguing a case – he’s maintaining that he did not get his authority from any of the Jesus sect in Jerusalem and so is not subordinate to them. This is because it appears the Galatians had been visited or contacted by people from the Jerusalem community who were undermining his authority and claiming he was subordinate to them.

        But in trying to make this case, Paul has a problem – he can’t deny that he did go to Jerusalem soon after his conversion to the Jesus sect. And he also can’t deny that he *did* consult with some of the Jerusalem community while there. But tries to limit the impact of this by only admitting talking to two of the leaders there – Peter and James, the brother of Jesus.

        So his mention of meeting Peter and James undercuts the argument he is trying to make, but he mentions it because he knows he can’t deny it. It makes the most sense that he does this because (i) it happened and (ii) it was known to have happened, so it’s pointless pretending it didn’t. That makes the meeting of Paul with Jesus’ friend and Jesus’ brother historical. Which makes Jesus historical as well, since myths don’t have friends and brothers.

        “How do you know?”

        “Know” is a big word when we are dealing with ancient history. Historians work towards the argument to the best explanation. The best explanation of Paul’s mention of meeting Peter and James is that it happened, because it undercuts the argument he is trying to make. Trying to pretend it’s in the same category as Baum partially setting his fiction in Kansas is briefly glib, but doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Tim:

          Wizard of Oz is fiction. Everyone knows it. I don’t imagine that Galatians was written as fiction, though that doesn’t mean that it’s true. My point is that just because it’s written down doesn’t mean that it’s accurate history–even if the original author thought it was.

          It makes the most sense that he does this because (i) it happened and (ii) it was known to have happened, so it’s pointless pretending it didn’t.

          Wait–you’re saying that you know that this meeting happened? How?

          Which makes Jesus historical as well, since myths don’t have friends and brothers.

          You go from a claimed meeting on a piece of paper for which our earliest copy is 150 years after the autograph and conclude that Jesus is historical? That’s one interpretation, I’ll admit, but it’s just a data point.

          And when you say that Jesus was historical, is that the man Jesus or the god Jesus?

          “Know” is a big word when we are dealing with ancient history.

          Yeah, that was kinda my point.

          Historians work towards the argument to the best explanation.

          And what do historians do with miracle claims in the lives of, say, Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, or Alexander? They dismiss them. Every one.

          What do you think historians do with the Jesus story? Is this the one exception where they’ll accept the supernatural claims?

        • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com.au/ Tim O’Neill

          “My point is that just because it’s written down doesn’t mean that it’s accurate history–even if the original author thought it was.”

          I’ve given the reasons that the meeting with Peter and James it mentions makes most sense as something that happened. Can you give a similar set of reasons why this is *not* the case that establishes it as more likely to be non-historical? Because merely saying that it *might not* be counts for pretty much nothing.

          “Wait–you’re saying that you know that this meeting happened?”

          No – read what I said again. I said the most likely reason Paul mentions this meeting, despite the fact it partially undermines the argument he is trying to make, is that it happened and was known to have happened. The fact he mentions this awkward element is evidence that the meeting is historical.

          “You go from a claimed meeting on a piece of paper for which our earliest copy is 150 years after the autograph and conclude that Jesus is historical?”

          It is one good piece of evidence that he was historical, yes. And by the standards of ancient texts, a copy a mere 150 years after the original is remarkably close. Compare that to, for example, the gap between the composition and earliest mss of Tacitus, for example. I also can’t see the relevance of this point anyway.

          “And what do historians do with miracle claims in the lives of, say, Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, or Alexander? They dismiss them. Every one.”

          ‘I met two guys in Jerusalem a few years ago’ isn’t a “miracle claim”. Another bad analogy.

          “And when you say that Jesus was historical, is that the man Jesus or the god Jesus?”

          I’m an atheist, and I have studied this stuff and ancient history in general for the last 25 years. I don’t care if Yeshua bar Yusef existed or not. But I know the evidence very well, have read widely in the relevant scholarship and have examined the arguments of the “Jesus Myth” enthusiasts in great detail. The best explanation of the evidence is that there was an apocalyptic preacher who was the point of origin for the “Jesus Christ” figure of the later texts. The arguments that there wasn’t fail at multiple points, which is why almost no scholars take them seriously.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Tim:

          Because merely saying that it *might not* be counts for pretty much nothing.

          This small nit doesn’t much interest me. When it does get interesting is a bunch of “facts” like this put together with the conclusion, “Ta dah! The supernatural exists!” That’s where, IMO, the delusion happens.

          No – read what I said again.

          OK, let’s. You said, “because (i) it happened and (ii) it was known to have happened, so it’s pointless pretending it didn’t.” Perhaps you can see how I thought that you were making a definite statement.

          I now see your point.

          The fact he mentions this awkward element is evidence that the meeting is historical.

          OK–criterion of embarrassment.

          This is an interesting data point although, again, I’m pretty skeptical of a set of these data points put together with a supernatural conclusion.

          It is one good piece of evidence that he was historical, yes. And by the standards of ancient texts, a copy a mere 150 years after the original is remarkably close.

          Granted. That said, that’s not much on which to build a supernatural conclusion (sorry for the broken record thing).

          I also can’t see the relevance of this point anyway.

          I hope you do now. Things get interesting when we get to the punch line: Jesus was resurrected (or some other supernatural claim).

          ‘I met two guys in Jerusalem a few years ago’ isn’t a “miracle claim”. Another bad analogy.

          I’m (desperately) trying to move along to the punch line.

          The best explanation of the evidence is that there was an apocalyptic preacher who was the point of origin for the “Jesus Christ” figure of the later texts.

          Is that where you’re going? I have little interest in the Christ myth theory. I can’t argue it one way or the other and (at the moment anyway) have no interest in doing so.

        • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com.au/ Tim O’Neill

          “I’m pretty skeptical of a set of these data points put together with a supernatural conclusion.”
          So am I. But ‘one First Century Jew seems to have reluctantly mentioned meeting two other First Century Jews because this meeting happened’ is not a supernatural conclusion. It’s not even a vaguely remarkable one. It;s perfectly reasonable. And it means you can add something to your list of things Paul seems to have known about Jesus – that he existed as a recent historical person. The evidence indicates that Josephus knew this too.

          “I can’t argue it one way or the other and (at the moment anyway) have no interest in doing so.”

          Fair enough. Having studied the evidence very carefully for a quarter of a century and having spent many years now examining the arguments of the Jesus Myth hobbyists, I can. It’s crap.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Tim:

          And it means you can add something to your list of things Paul seems to have known about Jesus – that he existed as a recent historical person.

          Gal. 1 says that he met with disciples. Yes, one interpretation is that these were disciples of someone that they thought was real. I don’t see how that rules out other interpretations.

          The evidence indicates that Josephus knew this too.

          Josephus knew that Jesus was a real person? Where do you get that?

          Having studied the evidence very carefully for a quarter of a century and having spent many years now examining the arguments of the Jesus Myth hobbyists, I can. It’s crap.

          OK, that’s another data point. This question isn’t one I care much about.

        • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com.au/ Tim O’Neill

          “Yes, one interpretation is that these were disciples of someone that they thought was real. ”

          He says one of them is “the brother of the Lord”. That means *HE* considered this particular disciple to be one of a man who was real, his brother. And that’s the key point.

          “I don’t see how that rules out other interpretations.”

          It doesn’t rule them out. It just makes them far less likely. Occam’s Razor.

          “Josephus knew that Jesus was a real person? Where do you get that?”

          In *Antiquities* XX.9 Josephus details the deposition of the High Priest Hannan ben Hannan. This was a significant event in the young Josephus’ life – he was a 25 year old at the time and had just returned from his first political appointment as a young aristocrat of the priestly caste: an embassy to the Roman Senate. As a member of the priestly caste, the deposition of Hanan was a major event – a bit like the resignation of Nixon for an up-and-coming Republican senator’s son. Josephus details this event and its aftermath and tells us it was triggered by the illegal execution of several people.

          The point here is that he mentions one of them by name: James “the brother of that Jesus who was called Messiah”. He was a contemporary of this James. He lived in a “city” which had, by modern standards, the population of a small town. He was in Jerusalem when the execution of this James accidentally caused the biggest political upheaval of his young life. And how does he identify James? By reference to his more famous brother – “that Jesus who was called Messiah”.

          That’s about as close as we can expect to get to first hand testament to the existence of a peasant preacher like Jesus. It takes a special kind of contrived bullshit to make that clear evidence go away.

          ““born of a woman,” it says. (Also, “according to the flesh” in Rom. 1:3.) Why mention that?”

          Because he, like many Jews of his time, believed the Messiah was a heavenly being with a heavenly pre-existence. So he is highlighting the contrast between Jesus’ earthly existence as a preacher and prophet with his more important status as Yahweh’s heavenly anointed. He did not believe Jesus WAS Yahweh (as a devout Jew that idea would have been anathema to him), but his emphasis was on the post-Resurrection revelation of this preacher’s “true” status as the Anointed One.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Tim:

          The point here is that he mentions one of them by name: James “the brother of that Jesus who was called Messiah”.

          There’s another interpretation of that. I summarize it in this post.

          He did not believe Jesus WAS Yahweh (as a devout Jew that idea would have been anathema to him), but his emphasis was on the post-Resurrection revelation of this preacher’s “true” status as the Anointed One.

          Also anathema to a monotheistic Jew would’ve been the idea of Jesus as co-equal with Yahweh.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com.au/ Tim O’Neill

    A more comprehensive list of things Paul seems to have known about Jesus are that Jesus was born as a human, of a human mother and born a Jew (Galatians4:4). He repeats that he had a “human nature” and that he was a human descendant of King David (Romans1:3). He refers to teachings Jesus made during his earthly ministry on divorce (1Cor. 7:10), on preachers (1Cor. 9:14) and on the coming apocalypse (1Thess. 4:15). He mentions how he was executed by earthly rulers (1Cor. 2:8) and that he died and was buried (1Cor 15:3-4). And he says he had an earthly, physical brother called James who Paul himself had met (Galatians1:19).

    And that’s sticking purely to letters that are generally regarded as actually by Paul himself and not the pseudepigraphica.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Jesus was born as a human, of a human mother and born a Jew (Galatians4:4).

      “born of a woman,” it says. (Also, “according to the flesh” in Rom. 1:3.) Why mention that? A rebuttal to Marcionism or Docetism?

      Thanks for the references.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com.au/ Tim O’Neill

    “There’s another interpretation of that. I summarize it in this post.”

    There are some very good reasons actual Jospehan scholars don’t buy that idea. Before I show you why that is, doesn’t it ring a bit of a sceptical alarm bell for you that the only people who argue against the authenticity of *Antiquities* XX.9.1 are not only amateur hobbyists like Carrier and Fitzgerald but also just happen to be anti-Christian activists? When the only people who argue that the Holocaust never happened just happen to be amateurs who are anti-Semites, that rings my alarm bell even before I begin dismantling their arguments. Ditto with the amateur fundamentalists who deny evolution. Or the ones who deny global warming. There’s always something fishy about a tiny handful of amateurs opposing a solid scholarly consensus because of an agenda.

    There are two reasons the idea that “who was called Messiah” was a marginal note that became part of the text doesn’t work. The first is that fact the text as it stands is quoted not once, not twice but three times by Origen. He does so in *Contra Celsum* I.4 , *Contra Celsum* II:13 and in *Commentarium in evangelium Matthaei* X.17. This means that the text read as it reads now as early as the mid-Third Century – that’s very early for anyone to be adding a reference to Jesus to the text, given that at that stage Christianity was not only a small sect but an illegal one..

    The other reason this claim doesn’t work is the grammar of the sentence. It’s very odd and slightly clumsy Greek. That’s because it contains a grammatical construction called a “casus pendens” – a very rare form in Greek and rather awkward here. But we find the “casus pendens” form used throughout Josephus’ work because it is a very common construction in Semitic languages, including Josephus’ native Aramaic. Jospehus tended to write Greek with this kind of Aramaic construction and the phrase “αδελφος Ιησου του λεγομενου Χριστου” (the brother of that Jesus who was called Messiah”) is a classic example of the kind of Aramaicism we find in his work. Which means it makes most sense if this phrase is original to Josephus and not a later addition.

    Finally, the idea that Josephus originally referred to a Jesus without any further appellation and then later in the same passage referred to him against as “Jesus, son of Damenus” is contrary to every single example of how Josephus refers to people in his work. I’ve actually read both *Antiquities* and *The Jewish War* cover to cover noting every single use of names and appellations in both works specifically to check this – I can assure you he NEVER does this at any point in his works. So why would be suddenly do it here?

    Carrier’s claim fails. As for Fitzgerald, you can find my detailed critique of his rather hopeless (self-Published) Jesus Myth book here :http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com.au/2011/05/nailed-ten-christian-myths-that-show.html

    “Also anathema to a monotheistic Jew would’ve been the idea of Jesus as co-equal with Yahweh.”

    Which is why Paul never claims Jesus was anything of the sort. In fact, he makes it clear Jesus was not.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      doesn’t it ring a bit of a sceptical alarm bell for you that the only people who argue against the authenticity of *Antiquities* XX.9.1 are not only amateur hobbyists like Carrier and Fitzgerald but also just happen to be anti-Christian activists?

      1. It does. I try to be particularly skeptical of things that appeal to me the most.

      2. I’m also skeptical that those that claim Josephus is important for the Christian position are all pretty much, y’know, Christians, especially since even a charitable interpretation of Josephus says nothing interesting to support the gospel’s incredible claims.

      3. Carrier is a historian. The kind with a PhD. How does the label “amateur hobbyist” fit?

      And where are you coming from? You’re an atheist who criticizes atheist positions?

      When the only people who argue that the Holocaust never happened just happen to be amateurs who are anti-Semites, that rings my alarm bell even before I begin dismantling their arguments.

      So what’s the general lesson here? I’m missing it.

      There’s always something fishy about a tiny handful of amateurs opposing a solid scholarly consensus because of an agenda.

      … except in the domain of religion.

      The consensus of Muslim scholars–the ones who understand Islam the best–is that Islam is correct. Does that give you pause? Do you stop before blundering in and saying that Islam isn’t correct? I doubt it.

      This means that the text read as it reads now as early as the mid-Third Century – that’s very early for anyone to be adding a reference to Jesus to the text, given that at that stage Christianity was not only a small sect but an illegal one..

      You’re saying that it’s difficult to imagine a pro-Christian scribal addition before 250? Help me out with that.

      The other reason this claim doesn’t work is the grammar of the sentence. It’s very odd and slightly clumsy Greek.

      The structure of the sentence is:

      “the brother of Jesus,
      who was called the Christ,
      whose name was James … ”

      You’re saying that that is clumsy? Yeah, I agree. That was my point. Or are you saying that it’s clumsy with the middle clause removed?

      Finally, the idea that Josephus originally referred to a Jesus without any further appellation and then later in the same passage referred to him against as “Jesus, son of Damenus” is contrary to every single example of how Josephus refers to people in his work.

      Appellation like what? So “brother of Jesus” in the case of James, for example?

      Carrier’s claim fails.

      Just like that? Seems a rather curt and confident dismissal.

      As for Fitzgerald, you can find my detailed critique of his rather hopeless (self-Published) Jesus Myth book here

      I remember scanning a critique of the book to which Fitzgerald gave a lengthy reply. Could this have been it? It’s been a while …

      Which is why Paul never claims Jesus was anything of the sort. In fact, he makes it clear Jesus was not.

      OK. My point was that Paul’s Jesus doesn’t bear much resemblance to the gospel of Jesus.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com.au/ Tim O’Neill

    “3. Carrier is a historian. The kind with a PhD. How does the label “amateur hobbyist” fit?”

    It fits because he holds no teaching or research position at an accredited university or equivalent institution. That’s what makes a professional historian. Carrier has no job at all and seems to basically be a full time anti-Christian activist, supported financially by his wife.

    “So what’s the general lesson here? I’m missing it.”

    The general lesson is we should be particularly sceptical of positions that are held by zealots with an axe to grind in the face of a scholarly consensus held by experts from a wide range of backgrounds.

    “The consensus of Muslim scholars–the ones who understand Islam the best–is that Islam is correct. Does that give you pause? ”

    The consensus that a historical Jesus existed is held by scholars from all backgrounds, not just Christian ones. Jewish scholars like Geza Vermes and Paula Fredriksen and atheist/agnostic scholars like Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey are leaders in the field. So that is another bad analogy.

    “You’re saying that it’s difficult to imagine a pro-Christian scribal addition before 250?”

    I’m saying that the evidence in Origen makes it far *less likely* that this text was added to. Christians formed a tiny, persecuted minority in that period and were hardly in a position to be adding to texts like this one at this early stage. Then there is the fact that there are zero manuscript variant indicators of interpolation. In the case of the fairly clumsy additions to *Antiquities* XVIII.3.4 we have variant texts which don’t contain the additions. This is a clear indication of later interpolation. We have nothing like that for *Antiquities* XX.9.1. Without that kind of evidence, the idea that the words “who was called Christ” are an interpolation is simply wishful thinking by Jesus Mythers who want this inconvenient piece of evidence to go away. Because it on its own sinks their whole thesis.

    “You’re saying that that is clumsy?”

    I’m saying its an awkward construction grammatically in Greek. That’s because it’s an Aramaic-speaker imposing his native language’s grammar on his Greek. Josephus himself admitted that his Greek wasn’t very good and this is an example of why. The construction is evidence that the sentence was written by Josephus and so is original the text.

    “Appellation like what? So “brother of Jesus” in the case of James, for example?”

    Yes. Josephus is completely consistent in the way he uses these appellations, patronymics and gentilics to make it clear who he is talking about. He has to be, since he often refers to different people who have the same names, as he is doing in this passage. Nowhere in his work does he introduce someone by their first name without an appellation and then later in the same passage refer to them with an appellation. But Carrier’s argument requires him to do this here, when he does it nowhere else. This is more evidence that Carrier is wrong.

    “Seems a rather curt and confident dismissal.”

    I’ve given you the evidence that backs my dismissal up. And I have every Josephan scholar in the world on my side, so I think I’m pretty comfortable with my position.

    “I remember scanning a critique of the book to which Fitzgerald gave a lengthy reply. Could this have been it?”

    Yes. His snooty and abusive reply was total garbage. I’ll be responding to it on my blog soon.

    “My point was that Paul’s Jesus doesn’t bear much resemblance to the gospel of Jesus.”

    That would be news to no-one except conservative Christians. Even most liberal Christian scholars would agree with you on that.

  • Albert

    #3 CONFIRMED:
    1 Cor 15:4-8
    4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
    ~Paul

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      By “Confirmed,” I mean that it was confirmed somewhere besides this passage, which is suspect.

  • Albert

    Also, just wanted to clarify your point on Jesus being a stumbling block to the Jews. Paul does not mean that Jesus was a stumbling block because the Jews wanted miracles and that Jesus didn’t perform any. What he means is that, as he says in the verse, the message of “Christ crucified” is the stumbling block to the Jews. For the Jews, they had been (and are still) waiting for a Messiah who would save them not just spiritually but also politically. They wanted a king who would free them, from Roman rule and establish a new earthly kingdom. But what was the message of the Gospel? It was that Jesus was killed and crucified on a cross. To the Jews, it was incomprehensible that the Messiah could be crucified, “for a hanged man is cursed by God” (Deut 21:22-23). Many Jews had begun to follow Jesus precisely because He did perform many miracles. However, the moment Jesus was crucified, almost all of them turned away because they saw it as this savior being defeated.

    But history shows that ALL the initial Christians were Jews! How do you explain the sudden change? It’s because they saw this Jesus die, but then saw Him come back to life! Ultimately, the resurrection was the greatest miracle the Jews would ever see that would make them believe, even to the point of death…

    • Albert

      …The question of whether or not Jesus historically, physically came back to life is at the center of Christianity. If Jesus would have stayed dead, then Christianity would have stayed dead with Him. In fact, it would never have even begun, as the term Christianity only was coined after people were going around saying they saw the resurrected Jesus.

      Nothing upsets me more than Christians who think it wouldn’t be a big deal if Jesus’ bones were actually found (not the host of hoaxes we’ve seen to this day). Nothing would be stupider than for a Christian to continue to believe that Jesus was who He said He was, if He in fact didn’t resurrect.

      Paul knew this:
      1 Corinthians 15:14, 19
      And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain… If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

      • Albert

        …Therefore, it all comes back to that question of “Did Jesus really resurrect from the dead?” Was the tomb indeed empty?

        In all my research and searching, it’s only made me more and more certain that the answer to that question is a definitive YES!

        If Jesus didn’t resurrect, or if the disciples stole the body, or all this was a myth that was made up, it makes no sense how Christianity would have ever begun back in that 1st century. How would the disciples have gone from begin complete cowards to becoming martyrs? Why would they have died for something they knew to be a lie? The life of Paul would make ZERO sense! How does a Jew who hated and went around killing Christians, suddenly become a Christian? But if they saw someone come back to life, it can be the only thing that explains these sudden changes.

        I would check out this debate on this very issue:
        http://youtu.be/Ksa8uGe21rw
        This debate is old but the content is good.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ve responded to the crucifixion story here. And I don’t think much of the naysayer hypothesis (“If the story were false, eyewitnesses would’ve snuffed it out”); more here.

          if the disciples stole the body, or all this was a myth that was made up

          No one says that it was invented. The only group that advances the “they stole the body!” hypothesis is Christians eager for a straw man.

          it makes no sense how Christianity would have ever begun back in that 1st century.

          And how do you explain the thousands of other religions that appeared? Does it also make no sense that they could appear and not be historically grounded?

          How would the disciples have gone from begin complete cowards to becoming martyrs?

          ‘Cause it’s a legend! Do you believe that Merlin actually was a real wizard?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        If Jesus would have stayed dead, then Christianity would have stayed dead with Him.

        What?? You’re saying that every religion’s existence is proof of the truth of the supernatural claims it makes about its beginnings?

        Let me propose an alternate interpretation of the facts: Jesus was a charismatic rabbi. After his death, stories of his exploits grew with the retelling until documented decades later in the gospels.

        Nothing upsets me more than Christians who think it wouldn’t be a big deal if Jesus’ bones were actually found

        First, of course: many would reject the claim (quite possibly me!) because the evidence from so long ago would be flimsy. But even to a Christian who believed this, so what? This is a bump in the road for Christianity when you think of what it has weathered so far. Christianity is like an amoeba that changes shape as necessary. The earth actually isn’t the center of the universe but is actually an insignificant dust speck in some forgotten corner of just one of 100 billion galaxies? Not a problem. And so on.

      • RichardSRussell

        “Paul knew this:”

        More accurately, “People who translated the transliteration of the translation of the transcription of the original oral tradition claimed that the guy who claimed to be Paul claimed to know this:”

        Hey, can I interest you in some aluminum siding? I know for a rock-solid fact it’s the best deal you’ll ever get in your entire lifetime.

        • Rick

          You totally twist what the previous writer said and mock him and his comment, then smugly act as if you had made a cogent point. This kind of lack of seriousness and derision is why I seldom comment in the hostile environment of this blog. You mistake insults for conversation. Not very inviting for others to seriously participate.

        • RichardSRussell

          You are mistaken.
          I do not lack derision.

          Frankly, anybody who can claim — straight up, without irony — that Paul “knew” anything deserves to be derided.

          One of my many problems with Christians is their bizarre interpretation of the word “know” as applying to things that can’t possibly be known, and I’m sorry that you can’t see the relevance of that to the conversation when I call them out on it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      The Jews want signs? Not a problem–tell them about all the signs.

      … or perhaps Paul doesn’t know any.

      The only explanation for a new religion is a miracle? Lots of new religions have appeared through history. I’m sure there are lots of explanations besides just this one.

      As for “to the point of death,” is this the “why would they die for a lie?” argument? I don’t think much of it.

    • RichardSRussell

      “But history shows that ALL the initial Christians were Jews! How do you explain the sudden change? It’s because they saw this Jesus die, but then saw Him come back to life!”

      History also shows that ALL the initial Mormons were Christians! How do you explain the sudden change? It’s because they saw this Joseph Smith guy die for what he believed in, so he must have been sincere, right? No need to go to all the extra trouble of returning from the dead; just dying alone was able to do it.

      Google “the Great Disappointment” and find out how the followers of William Miller abandoned him in droves when his prediction of the end of the world failed to materialize in 1844. Ha ha, only kidding. Their faith became stronger than ever, and they eventually coalesced into the denomination now known as the 7th-Day Adventists.

      Hell, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels died for what they believed in, too, and for the next half century there were true-believing Nazis who were convinced they were hiding out somewhere in Latin America and would return to lead the Fourth Reich to its justly deserved glory.

      If we’ve learned anything about cognitive dissonance, it’s that true believers will cling tenaciously to what they believe despite its utter ludicrousness or complete discreditation, because the certainty and familiarity are more important to them than the truth — or, in some cases, than life itself.

      For insights into this reality-denying mindset, you cannot do better than Eric Hoffer’s 1951 book The True Believer.

      • Rick

        History also shows that ALL the initial Mormons were Christians!

        Do you have data to back up this bold assertion?

        • RichardSRussell

          At least as much as the original claim that all initial Christians were Jews. Why is it, prithee, that you expect me to meet a standard that you don’t hold out for the claims of Christians? Could this possibly be yet another example of the logical fallacy known as “special pleading” (QV)?

  • Elvic Geo

    The teaching that jesus was sent to die for our sins is
    not true, it is all made up by the apostles to hide the truth that jesus was
    punished by God through the beatings of men for pretending to be a son of God.
    More than that, the Almighty God has a law in “Fathers shall not be put to
    death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is
    to die for his own sin.

    Deuteronomy 24:16 (NIV)

    “each is to die for his own sin” – each man will answer for his own
    sin, no one is to be punished for another’s sin. So to say that God allowed
    jesus to die for us is to make God a liar because you made it appear that He
    broke His own law in deut.24:16 and even made HIM an unrighteous God because He
    allowed a so-called sinless man to be killed like a “beast” for the
    sins of others. Everyone who has committed sin will pay for it. Let us read the
    elaboration…

    The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of
    the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness
    of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked
    will be charged against him.

    Ezekiel 18:20 (NIV)

    We will be responsible for our sins we commit to God and to other men. Do we
    still need Jesus for our sins to be forgiven?

    “But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and
    keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he
    will not die.

    Ezekiel 18:21 (NIV)

    We cannot say that jesus was without sin – for he was born of a woman and a man
    born of a woman cannot claim that he is without sin?

    How then can a man be righteous before God?

    How can one born of woman be pure?

    If even the moon is not bright

    and the stars are not pure in his eyes,

    how much less man, who is but a maggot –

    a son of man, who is only a worm!”

    Job 25:4-6 (NIV) We are all born free, with freedom to make choices, no one may
    say that he had not committed sin in his lifetime. The question now is what was
    jesus death for? There is a Word of God about Jesus-the descendant/offspring of
    King David that we should know:

    2 Samuel 7:12-14 (NIV)

    12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up
    your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish
    his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will
    establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he
    will be my son. WHEN HE DOES WRONG, I WILL PUNISH HIM WITH A ROD WIELDED BY
    MEN, WITH FLOGGINGS INFLICTED BY HUMAN HANDS

    In the said verses: 2 Samuel 7:12-14 – we can read that God speaks of a coming
    offspring of David and not a literal “son of God” as what the
    religions preach.

    Is it really true that Jesus was a descendant of David?

    …to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of
    David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Luke 1:27 (NIV)

    Jesus’ true father is Joseph who belongs to the house of David. So if we are to
    believe the teaching of the religions that Jesus is the “son of God,” then it
    should be Mary who should belong to the house of David.

    And in:

    You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the
    name Jesus.

    Luke 1:31 (NIV)

    And who was Jesus’ father?

    He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will
    give him the throne of his father David. Luke 1:32 (NIV)

    “will be called” – As you have read it, Jesus was only a son or a
    descendant of David not a real son of God;” he was just a man.

    Is it true that Jesus is a son of David? Let us read in:

    A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham-
    Matt 1:1(NIV)

    Now we can see that the prophecy in 2 Sam7:12-14 about a coming descendant of
    David and not a son of God has been fulfilled.

    Considering the prophecy in II Samuel 7:12-14 that if the descendant of David
    commits a wrong or an iniquity, he will be punished with the rod of men. Was
    Jesus-the descendant of King David punished by the rod and floggings of men?

    All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our
    children!” Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged,
    and handed him over to be crucified. Matthew 27:25-26 (NIV)

    Indeed, Jesus was flogged by men which when we read again what God stated in
    the prophecy in 2 Sam 7:14: “I will be his father, and he will be my son. WHEN
    HE DOES WRONG, I WILL PUNISH HIM WITH A ROD WIELDED BY MEN, WITH FLOGGINGS
    INFLICTED BY HUMAN HANDS”

    We can discover for ourselves that based on what God said in the prophecy that
    the real reason why He allowed Jesus -the descendant of king David to be beaten
    by men was not for our sins but for his (Jesus) own wrongdoing.

    What you are reading now about Jesus as only a son of David who was punished by
    God by the floggings of men and not a son of God is what Jesus wants all of us
    to know about him as this is his testimony in Revelation 22:16

    “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am
    the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

    Revelation 22:16 (NIV)

    Jesus said in Revelation 22:16 that he has sent an “angel” or a
    messenger who will testify or show to us that he is only a root and offspring
    of David and the bright morning star- When Jesus said “he is a root and
    offspring of David,” this means he is not a literal son of God; but only an
    offspring or descendant of David. Jesus also said he is the “bright
    morning star” which means he was the man described in Isaiah 14:9-20 as
    the man whom the whole world will shockingly know as one who was punished by
    God for claiming to be god (Isa.14:12-16)

    Before you reply on this-it is best that you read the full Bible revelation of
    Teacher Erano Martin Evangelista in this link:

    http://www.thename.ph/thename/revelations/jesusspeaks-en.html

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I’m not familiar with your religion/philosophy. What’s it called?

    • RichardSRussell

      Man, blood, floggings, beatings, crucifixions, death, misery … You sure know how to lure in the customers, don’t you?

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/ClericiBobby Bobby Clerici

      ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
      You guys are no different and your own religion is no closer to the mark than the Roman Catholic church.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/ClericiBobby Bobby Clerici

    Who knows what Paul really thought about Jesus?
    None of his original writings survive – only copies and translations. As things stand alone, Paul never met Jesus or was subjected to his teachings – whatever they really were.
    Again, none of the original writings survive.
    One thing we do know is that the Jesus myth predates christianity in pagan religions just like the Jewish kings and such were actually borrowed from Egyptian stories.
    Religion can’t face these truths, because fanaticism is the brother of doubt.

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