Responding to the Minimal Facts Argument for the Resurrection

Habermas Minimal Facts ResurrectionGary Habermas claims that the resurrection claim is well evidenced because most scholars accept it. That claim crumbles for many reasons (more here). Let’s move on to consider his larger argument, the minimal facts approach to the resurrection as documented in The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona (2004).

I like the idea. Habermas wants to minimize the number of facts necessary to build his foundation and use only claims granted by “virtually all scholars on the subject, even the skeptical ones.” He thinks four such “facts” are sufficient to show that the resurrection actually happened. (Going forward, I’ll use Habermas as a stand-in for the two authors.)

Let’s see if the argument holds up.

Fact 1: Jesus died by crucifixion. Habermas points to the gospels, which are first-century writings that all report a crucifixion. From outside the Bible, he gives Lucian, Mara Bar Serapion, and the Talmud, but these all appear to be second-century writings and don’t add a lot. An earlier non-Christian source is Josephus, but Josephus’s two references to Jesus appear to have been added or modified by later scribes (more here).

Habermas concludes, prematurely, “Clearly, Jesus’ death by crucifixion is a historical fact supported by considerable evidence.” The story does gradually became widespread, though this was long after the time of Jesus. That doesn’t make it “historical fact.”

Fact 2: The disciples believed that Jesus rose and appeared to them. The disciples went from cowards hiding from the authorities to bold proclaimers of the gospels, even to the point of martyrdom.

Yes, that’s what the story says, but let’s be skeptical about stories. We don’t take at face value the story about Merlin being a shape-shifting wizard. We don’t even unskeptically take the very un-supernatural claim that Arthur was king of England. Why then take elements of the supernatural Jesus story as history, even the natural ones?

In the second place, the “Who would die for a lie?” argument (that the disciples’ deaths is strong evidence) also fails. In brief, the historical evidence for apostles’ martyrdom is weak (more here).

Finally, the claim that the gospels document eyewitness history is also suspect when we don’t even know who wrote them (more here).

The gospel mentions emboldened disciples, but until we have good evidence otherwise, this is a story rather than history. Both “But they were eyewitnesses!” and “But they died for their faith!” are poorly evidenced claims.

The sources

Habermas gives Paul as one important source. It is rather incredible that Christianity was so strongly shaped by Paul, someone who wasn’t even a disciple of Jesus. Paul claimed to have known Peter, James, and John and claimed apostolic authority, but some random dude is just going to step in and declare that he’s got it all figured out, and he becomes part of the canon? Paul is authoritative, just because.

Habermas argues that 1 Corinthians 15:3–5 is an early creed and so is very close to the events it claims to document. But a creed is simply a statement that is taken on faith, not evidence or an argument. His argument that these verses look distinct from the rest of Paul’s epistle could just as easily argue that they were added later. Note also that Paul’s Jesus story reads as mythology and is not grounded in history (more here).

Other authorities are church fathers Clement and Polycarp. Habermas argues that they were taught by the apostles, but his evidence comes from 150 years after the death of Jesus.

The innocence of a child

The credulity of Habermas is a little hard to believe. He says:

[The disciples] denied and abandoned [Jesus], then they hid in fear. Afterward, they willingly endangered themselves by publicly proclaiming the risen Christ (p. 56).

It’s just a story, and an untrustworthy one at that since we have a poor view of the original events (more here). Is this history? Show us.

Habermas again:

The apostles died for holding to their own testimony that they had personally seen the risen Jesus. Contemporary martyrs die for what they believe to be true. The disciples of Jesus died for what they knew to be either true or false (p. 59).

Habermas says that what we read is consistent with apostles seeing a risen Jesus, but of course that’s begging the question. Habermas assumes what he’s trying to prove. The honest interpretation is that we just have a story about Jesus and his apostles, and the stories of martyrdom developed decades later. Neither is history.

Naysayers

Here’s a common error that Habermas repeats several times.

If the news spread that several of the original disciples had recanted, we would expect that Christianity would have been dealt a severe blow (p. 60).

This is the Naysayer Hypothesis—the idea that a false story would have crumbled after the corrections of naysayers, those people who knew the truth. Here again, Habermas starts with the assumption that the Jesus story is correct and then wonders what would happen in various situations. This is backwards. Instead, start with the documents that we know exist and see where the evidence points.

I list 10 reasons why the Naysayer Hypothesis is flawed. To give just one, ask yourself why anyone who knew that Jesus was not divine would spend his life stamping out the brush fires of Christian belief throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.

And one final quibble: notice the word “recant” above. The only people I’ve heard who suggest that the disciples deliberately invented the story (and had something to recant) are apologists. I presume that the Paul and the gospel authors honestly believed, just like Christians today.

Since the original disciples were making the claim that Jesus rose from the dead, his resurrection was not the result of myth making. His life story was not embellished over time if the facts can be traced to the original witnesses (p. 60).

And again Habermas starts with an assumption, this time that the gospels come from the disciples’ eyewitness accounts. Habermas acts as if he can’t tell a story from history.

Next time: The remaining “facts” in Part 2

Our objective is to arrive at
the most plausible explanation of the data.
— Habermas and Licona,
The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, p. 83

Photo credit: British American

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Greg G.

    Galatians 1:11-12
    11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

    Romans 16:25-27
    25 Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith

    Ephesians 3:3,5
    3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,

    5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

    Paul didn’t receive knowledge of Jesus through human contact but from the scriptures of the day. Even Pseudo-Paul who wrote Ephesians knew it. In 1 Corinthians 15, when Paul writes about Christ appeared to Cephas, the twelve, James, and the other apostles, he uses the Greek word “optanomai” which is the same word he uses for how Christ appeared to him as if he thinks the appearances are similar to his. When Paul defends his apostleship against the super-apostles.

    2 Corinthians 11:5-6
    5 I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 I may be untrained in speech, but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you.

    If Paul knew there were people who had known a real Jesus, how could he make that statement? The following is what he thought of the other apostles.

    Galatians 2:6-9
    6 And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

    Paul doesn’t help the argument of Habermas and Licona. The idea that Jesus was crucified in the first century didn’t arise until Mark wrote about it after the destruction of Jerusalem, when it was too late for Naysayer Argument. Even if the apostles died for their beliefs, it doesn’t help the argument because the beliefs of the apostles were not what Habermas and Licona think.

    • wtfwjtd

      Also note how Paul’s apostolic creed of I Corinthians 15:3-5 begins: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance”…
      How would this help Habermas’s case? Even taken at face value Paul is just a messenger boy. He’s merely “passing on what he received”, not what he saw or witnessed or experienced.

      • KarlUdy

        The “received/passed on” wording is the same as that used by someone who has been taught in Greek philosophical schools or Jewish rabbinical schools. It indicates that a process not dissimilar to an actor learning lines has happened. And it is part of the evidence that this is a quote of an earlier creed as opposed to a later addition.

        • Greg G.

          A creed is a statement of faith. It is recited in lieu of evidence. There is nothing in it that couldn’t have been “received” from OT scripture.

        • KarlUdy

          So you think that Christ dying, being buried, rising on the third day, and appearing to the twelve is something Paul received (ie memorized) from the OT?

        • Greg G.

          Yes, I was writing a different response to you that addressed this when you posted your question. The one part that doesn’t come from the OT is the interpretation of “appearing to” which is read backwards into 1 Corinthians from the gospels by Christians for over 19 centuries.

        • KarlUdy

          How could it have been read backwards from the gospels when it was written in 1 Corinthians before the gospels were written?

        • Greg G.

          Ephesians 3:5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
          Even the writer of Ephesians thought that what the apostles believed came from a mystery that was being revealed, not something they actually experienced. They believed that Jesus was a mythical figure who was crucified and resurrected in the deep past, much like the deeds of the Greek gods, for example. Many sects believed a Messiah was coming. Their sect believed that he came once at some undefined time in the past, but the fact that they were learning about it by this new way of reading the scriptures (that is, taking verses out of context) was a sign the Messiah was coming within their lifetimes. That’s what was revealed to them.
          After Mark wrote the story of a first century Jesus, people started reading that idea into 1 Corinthians. Before that, it had an entirely different meaning – that the other apostles experience and revelation were no different than Paul’s as he describes theirs the same way he describes his own.
          He also argues that his knowledge is equal to other apostles and he didn’t learn anything from them. If they had actually seen a risen Jesus, he would have been amazed, but they didn’t tell him anything he didn’t have revealed from scripture.

        • KarlUdy

          Where do you get these novel ideas from?

        • Greg G.

          The seed of doubt about the historicity of Jesus sprouted a few years ago but I didn’t embrace it because of the scholarly consensus. I began to study the material and their methods versus the methods of historians and the idea became less credible. I had read and heard Carrier but I also read a dozen books by Ehrman. I expected Ehrman to give the best possible case for the existence of Jesus, but it was very weak. So, I read Doherty’s The Jesus Myth (I think that’s the title of the book, but I have a feeling I’ve misremembered) and he made much better arguments.

          Then I read Price’s The Christ-Myth Theory. He shows that various scholars have accounted for nearly every passage in Mark having come from earlier sources, such as the most popular Greek literature and Hebrew literature. I have found that Mark also used Christian literature, too. Since there is nothing there that can actually be from the so-called “oral traditions”, it’s a created fiction. The other gospels rely on it, so they don’t have much “oral tradition” either.

          Read Dennis R. MacDonald’s The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark first to see how Mark uses mimesis to turn The Odyssey into Jesus’ travels around the Sea of Galilee and the Death of Hector in The Iliad into the Passion story. Then read Randel Helms’ Gospel Fictions to see how Mark has Jesus doing the miracles of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha. It becomes apparent that Mark is applying mimesis to the OT, too. Also, when Helms talks about Mark relying on traditions in the setting for the miracles, you realize that Mark is relying on Homer. Note: As far as I know, MacDonald and Helms are Christians and believe in a historical Jesus.

          Then when you read the non-miracle stories, even they don’t seem plausible anymore. Mark 7:1-19 seems to come from the argument between Paul and Peter in Galatians 2, but Paul voices Jesus’ argument against Peter and since Barnabas was led astray, Peter may have bested him, which doesn’t make sense that Peter would oppose the argument if Jesus used it. In Mark 2, the Pharisees popping up in a grain field on a Sabbath doesn’t sound plausible but Jesus’ complete misreading of 1 Samuel 21 is pretty pathetic.

          Notice that the early epistles do not support the Minimal Historical Jesus Theory in any way. They do not tell anything about a teacher or his teachings, a preacher or his preachings, or a single quote, or a single anecdote. They only talk about Jesus being crucified and resurrected but never give any details that cannot be found in Hebrew scripture of the day.

          The complete lack of evidence doesn’t tell you there was no Jesus. For that you just have to look at the epistles signs that they were imagining a hero from the past.

        • KarlUdy

          If Carrier and Price’s arguments are so compelling, why do they remain on the outer fringes of NT scholarship, and the vast majority of NT scholars reject their findings?

          Price is on record as being skeptical on Jesus’ historicity unless his skeleton or diary is found. Pity the historians and archaeologists who are forced to provide such a level of evidence of any ancient persons to establish their historicity.

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

          If Habermas’s arguments about the resurrection are so persuasive, why are Muslim scholars not convinced? They have no bias against the supernatural. And yet they reject it to a man.

          Perhaps it’s because religion is involved. Muslim scholars know that there are right and wrong answers, and they can’t follow the evidence where it leads.

          Same for Christian scholars?

        • KarlUdy

          I would agree that many Muslim scholars would reject the resurrection because they have a prior commitment to the teachings of the Koran.

          And many atheists reject the resurrection because they likewise have prior intellectual commitments. Just as no Muslim can conclude that Jesus rose from the dead and remain a Muslim, an atheist likewise cannot come to that conclusion and remain an atheist.

          Who then can judge rightly? Perhaps we should leave all these decisions to people who don’t think at all.

        • Kodie

          I would agree that many Muslim scholars would reject the resurrection
          because they have a prior commitment to the teachings of the Koran.

          And many atheists reject the resurrection because they likewise have
          prior intellectual commitments. Just as no Muslim can conclude that
          Jesus rose from the dead and remain a Muslim, an atheist likewise cannot
          come to that conclusion and remain an atheist.

          That doesn’t make a lot of sense. Many atheists are former theists with their prior commitment to the teachings of the bible and their church. You seem to be excluding and excusing a group of people on the basis that you agree with them, then they must have clear intellectual intentions and followed the “evidence” that you cling to. No, instead you blame people not believing this fairy story because they have already formed an opinion. You are forgetting that many atheists used to be Christians and followed without thinking, and then, like you, supported their opinions with weak apologetics in the form of this scholarly business.

          Who then can judge rightly? Perhaps we should leave all these decisions to people who don’t think at all.

          Or if they do, they think we’re really stupid. I have been reading your posts and other Christians’ posts here for a while, and you do try to think or try to act like you think. You read books, you study the scholarly accounts rather than merely be some fool for Jesus. You want to be right, and you think you can do that by making sure with the experts who rationalize all your beliefs in a scholarly format that you can bank on. But when it’s taken down for you, you protest. So, it’s pretty much, if they say it could have happened, then it could have, and anyone who says resurrection is impossible, you are only to say “prove it could not have happened” and “read this fat book and you might be convinced.”

          It’s still wishful thinking, do you know that? You want it to be true. If my white t-shirt turned blue in the washing machine and I told you it’s because a blue fairy lives in the laundry room and turns things blue randomly (it has happened before), you would say it’s probably the dye from the new blue socks that got in the wrong load of laundry. But if I don’t want that to be true, I could be like you and say other people in my apartment building have had their laundry turn blue and some believe it’s a fairy. The way you are talking is about the blue fairy. It’s what you want to be true so even if everything could have another cause, what you believe is documented and supported by others, and you have no reason to disbelieve it so far. You are saying atheists who don’t believe in blue fairies know it was probably the dye – or possibly another cause, like a vandal or something is wrong with our water supply, something realistic, even if less near-fetched than a blue garment running dye. And you are insisting that since it could also have been the documented and supported fairy belief, you are going with that because we can’t prove it’s not, but that people who deny it outright have already formed their opinions and are not open to accepting that it may have been blue fairies.

        • Greg G.

          Wait, are you referring to the Blue Fairy from the movie A.I.? David, the mecha, could see dead people (in a different movie) so his belief in the Blue Fairy should be taken seriously. The Blue Fairy had Meryl Streep’s voice and we know Meryl Streep exists, so…

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

          And many atheists reject the resurrection because they likewise have prior intellectual commitments.

          I suppose so, but don’t pretend there’s any parallel here. For a Muslim or a Christian, there are capital-letter Right and Wrong choices here. There’s Paradise vs. enjoying God’s Eternal Wrath™ in a lake of lava.

          It don’t work that way with atheists. Atheists have egos like anyone else and may not like admitting to mistakes, but they don’t have these big league issues holding them back from evaluating the evidence fairly.

          Just as no Muslim can conclude that Jesus rose from the dead and remain a Muslim, an atheist likewise cannot come to that conclusion and remain an atheist.

          Seriously? That’s a parallel?

          I’d be delighted to celebrate God’s existence and Jesus’s sovereignty. How about overwhelming evidence first? A fair thing to ask? There’s no atheist hell yawning out before me if I make the wrong decision.

        • Pofarmer

          What about the many former theists, including myself, who have become atheists? What were/are we invested in?

          And, as far as that goes, why do you accept the resurrection? What in your life indicates to you that someone reviving after two days clinically dead is possible? What makes this reasonable to believe?

        • MNb

          “many atheists reject the resurrection because they likewise have prior intellectual commitments.”
          Yes. My prior intellectual commitments are simple:
          1. Science works;
          2. When science conflicts with philosophy and or theology science wins. Period.

          The Resurrection provides an excellent example. Theology says it happened because of faith; science says it is a myth because it violates natural law and because we rather well can reconstruct how the myth developed.

        • Greg G.

          Hi Karl,

          Price’s request is akin to Nye’s debate response to the question of what it would take to change his mind – “evidence”. The historical Jesus proponents sound like Ham’s answer – “I have this book.”

          For example, if all we had about Pontius Pilate came from the gospels, I might be skeptical of his existence. If all we had was the inscripted stone with his name on it found in Caesaria in 1961, I would accept him as a historical person.

          I can’t read the minds of every scholar but if I may generalize from a small sample who have weighed in on the question, most often it seems they are comforted by concensus. Many have never even questioned the historical Jesus. They have not read Carrier, Price, and Doherty because they are considered fringe.

          Most scholars start out on fire for the Lord and enter the field to re-enforce their beliefs. When they find that scholarship doesn’t support their beliefs, they either drop out or become a biblical historian. If they question the existence of Jesus, they cannot even consider themselves a historian. If a scholar questions a fundamentalist belief, they will be forced to find work at non-fundamentalist universities and colleges. If they question the existence of God, they will be relegated to working in secular universities. If they question the existence of Jesus, well, there aren’t many schools willing to teach the New Testament as complete mythology. Consequently, without a scholarly job title, they would necessarily be classed as fringe.

          Many of the methods employed by Jesus scholars seem to be designed to confirm the assumption that Jesus exists, rather than to test whether he existed. The Criterion of Embarrassment works just as well to confirm the non-existence if you start with that assumption. Vridar.org has started a series discussing Casey: Taking Context out of Context. Casey argues that the reason Paul doesn’t have much to say about Jesus is that it was a “high-context” society, so Jesus didn’t need to be talked about (though Paul found it necessary to repeat the crucifixion and resurrection repeatedly). Even if that was true, the argument would argue for a Gnostic Jesus as well or better. But a high-context society would need to be insulated, monocultural, and old to establish the context, and the early Christian society was none of those, so it seems to me that those scholars who do argue against a mythic Jesus are grasping at straws.

        • Pofarmer

          “and the vast majority of NT scholars reject their findings?”

          Because they are invested in their opinion?

        • busterggi

          Some people will do or say anything to keep their jobs.

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

          Consider Mike Licona who said the wrong thing and lost his.

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

          Price is on record as being skeptical on Jesus’ historicity unless his skeleton or diary is found. Pity the historians and archaeologists who are forced to provide such a level of evidence of any ancient persons to establish their historicity.

          Now consider William Lane Craig: he has said that even with a time machine, he wouldn’t trust any evidence he would find because his own personal experience trumps that. Or consider Ken Ham, who in his recent debate said that nothing would change his mind. Even about a young earth, he said that it was impossible to show him convincing evidence against it because he knows such evidence doesn’t exist.

          Don’t facepalm because of Robert Price. You’ve got far worse examples within the Christian tent.

        • MNb

          “he made much better arguments.”
          You’re deluding yourself. I am familiar with his arguments and he provides zero evidence in the form of historical data. Now these are extremely hard to get, but a sceptical mind soon realizes that every single argument of Doherty applies to a historical Jesus with lots of myths and legends attached to as well. If we then realize that it was not common in Antiquity to make up entire fictional characters it becomes clear that Doherty’s myth theory falls under Ockham’s razor – it gives rise to several more questions he typically never asks.
          His methodology essentially isn’t better than Ken Ham’s of AIG: picking the stuff that seems to back his pre-determined conclusion.

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

          I’ve not gotten into the Jesus Myth debate. Have you read Price and Carrier on the subject? I wonder if they’re any more or less convincing.

          I’m sympathetic to the Ockham’s razor thing. That’s the glaring error with Habermas here (just to take one example): a plausible natural explanation is more than enough to dismiss a supernatural claim.

          And I see how it applies with the Jesus Myth theory: real men in history can give rise to legends. Not that hard to imagine. But I’m just on the sidelines here and haven’t read up on the subject.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus started out as a legendary resurrected, heavenly being, then became a human. That’s backwards of a real person becoming a legend.

        • avalpert

          Kind of like Superman instead of Batman?

        • busterggi

          And it must be noted that Superman, the god-like being, existed before Batman, the wonder-working human, was created – in direct response to the former’s growing popularity.

        • MNb

          Neither am I an expert. I have never heard of Price, but have followed Carrier’s blog for a while. I haven’t noticed he brought up new information or new arguments.
          After Doherty I had enough, to be honest. But I won’t contradict that Carrier might be up to something, simply because I’m not familiar enough with his writings.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t agree with everything Doherty argues but I don’t toss out everything he says because of what I disagree with.

          You argue against the mythical Jesus. What compelling evidence do you have for a historical Jesus and that the New Testament is about that person?

        • MNb

          What compelling evidence do you have for a historical Diogenes of SInope and that that source is about that person?
          What compelling evidence do you have that that Diary mentioned underneath is about Alexander the Great and not about someone else?
          Or take Socrates. How do we know Plato and that Greek general talk about the same person or about the Greek philosopher at all?
          Again: my point is that Jesus-mythologists only apply their methodology to one single persona. That’s pseudoscience.
          If Doherty were consistent he would at least argue that Diogenes of Sinope and Socrates are mythical too and probably Alexander the Great – the first biography we have dates from more than 200 years after his death.

          My other point is that they don’t answer questions following from a mythical Jesus:
          1. We know that there was no shortage of messias claimants. Why did the authors of the Gospels and Paulus take the effort to invent an entire fictional character iso picking one of those claimants? Note that that was highly unusual during Antiquity, so you better give an excellent reason, backed with evidence.
          2. How did the two (at least two according to the hypothesis of the Q-document, which Doherty accepts as well) independent authors of the Gospels manage to have that much of the story in common? Again: back your answer up with evidence.
          3. Why did those authors include silly stuff like Jesus’ prediction of his Second Come Back in the stories, when they already knew that these predictions had not come true when they wrote their stories down? This is called the Principle of Embarrassment btw, a well known, well tested method to find out the reliability of an account.

          Last point: there is a third account that confirms the historicity of Jesus: Polycarpus (whose historicity is beyond reasonable doubt) claimed to be the pupil of one of the apostles. Apostles without a messias don’t make sense.
          As soon, but not before, Jesus-mythologists address these points I’ll start to take them seriously.

          I am not sure if Jesus is historical, not as sure as about say Alexander the Great. When we apply the methods we used to establish the historicity of Alexander the Great and Diogenes of Sinope the hypothesis that explains the known facts best is a historical Jesus with many myths attached. I’d say we can be sure for at least 90%.

          Taking this doubt as an argument for a mythical Jesus is inconsistent with the scientific method as used in historical research.

        • Greg G.

          Again: my point is that Jesus-mythologists only apply their methodology to one single persona. That’s pseudoscience.

          The difference is that there is compelling evidence that Jesus was made up. There is no evidence that anyone in the early first century thought Jesus was a person who had existed in the first century unless you read the gospels the gospels back into the epistles. The gospels appear to be made up from existing myths and legends, not “oral traditions”.

          1. We know that there was no shortage of messias claimants. Why did the authors of the Gospels and Paulus take the effort to invent an entire fictional character iso picking one of those claimants? Note that that was highly unusual during Antiquity, so you better give an excellent reason, backed with evidence.

          I have been documenting that at length the past few weeks in the comments of CrossExamined. Paul never knew Jesus. Everything he knows about Jesus can be found in the Hebrew literature. He claims revelations from the scriptures about long hidden mysteries now being revealed. He says he has spoken to Cephas and James, but doesn’t think he has less knowledge about the gospel than they do. In1 Corinthians 15, he uses the same word for “appeared to” for Cephas and James and others that he used for himself, as if he didn’t think their revelation was any different than his own. These long hidden mysteries were from reading verses out of context as history. The Jews of that time were looking for the Messiah and at least one sect began to read that the Messiah had died for sins (Is. 53:5), was buried (Is 53:9), and rose on the third day (Hosea 6:2). They seemed to believe that the Messiah was going to return in that generation (1 Thessalonians 4:17) because this information was being revealed after all that time.

          The reason no other Messiah claimant would do is because they were expecting a grand entrance with trumpets and dead people rising, followed by the living.

          1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
          15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.

          1 Corinthians 15:51-54
          51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

          Philippians 3:20-21
          20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.

          How does he know this? The 1 Corinthians passage says it’s a mystery. The 1 Thessalonians passage says it’s from teh word of God. Every element of those three passages (except for the “twinkling of an eye” bit) can be found in

          Isaiah 26:19-21a
          19 Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise.O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a radiant dew, and the earth will give birth to those long dead.
          20 Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath is past.
          21a For the Lord comes out from his place…

          Daniel 7:11a, 13a; 12:2
          7:11a I watched then because of the noise of the arrogant words that the horn was speaking….
          7:13a As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven….
          12:2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

          Isaiah 25:8a
          8a he will swallow up death forever.

          2. How did the two (at least two according to the hypothesis of the Q-document, which Doherty accepts as well) independent authors of the Gospels manage to have that much of the story in common? Again: back your answer up with evidence.

          What common story elements are you referring to? Much of the common stuff likely came from the Gospel of Thomas.

          3. Why did those authors include silly stuff like Jesus’ prediction of his Second Come Back in the stories, when they already knew that these predictions had not come true when they wrote their stories down? This is called the Principle of Embarrassment btw, a well known, well tested method to find out the reliability of an account..

          The Principle of Embarrassment works well to confirm a historical Jesus if you assume a historical Jesus first. Matthew wrote that believing there had been a real Jesus, but the evidence points to him being wrong about that. The Embarrassment criterion is irrelevant.

          Last point: there is a third account that confirms the historicity of Jesus: Polycarpus (whose historicity is beyond reasonable doubt) claimedto be the pupil of one of the apostles. Apostles without a messias don’t make sense.
          As soon, but not before, Jesus-mythologists address these points I’ll start to take them seriously.

          What do you find compelling about Polycarp? He was born about 69 AD. It is claimed that he knew John the Apostle. His only surviving work is his Letter to the Philippians. He praises Paul alot. He quotes from Matthew and Acts but not Mark, Luke or John. He quotes from Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 2 Thessalonians, and heavily from 1 Timothy and 1 Peter. The only Johannine reference he makes is to 1 John 4:2 which says “For everyone who does not confess [that] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an antichrist”. ! John is thought to have been writen in the mid-90s to refute Gnosticism. the belief that Jesus was only spiritual, way too late to be of value for the historical. Paul said Jesus was descended from David because 2 Samuel 7:12 says he was supposed to be. He also said Jesus was born of a woman because Isaiah 7:14 says so and it sounds like a prophecy.

          The only writing attributed to Polycarp doesn’t give much hint that he actually knew John or his teachings. It doesn’t tell us anything about Jesus, or anything else, that doesn’t come from from Christian literature that was available in the 2nd century.

          What am I missing?

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

          If you listen to podcasts, I’ll recommend Price’s “Bible Geek” podcast. It’s a firehose (and isn’t the most efficient way to learn), but it can be quite interesting.

        • Pofarmer

          “real men in history can give rise to legends.”

          Which is true, but isn’t it at least as true that legends can arise with no man at all? Was John Henry a real person? Paul Bunyan? King Arthur? Hercules? I would guess the further back in time you go, the more of these mythical stories there were(or thinking about modern movies, maybe not?) but it was the way they explained things and promoted what were seen as positive character traits. That at least most of the Gospels were composed in Greek, by Greek speakers, based on Greek translations of the Bible, ought to give one pause, as well. And, Ehrman and Carrier and Price, I think, all agree on this. That certain parts of the Gospels, but especially the Sermon on the Mount, are based on mistranslations in the Greek Septuagint, and not on the Hebrew Pentateuch. The whole thing is a puzzle, but the real puzzle is why anyone today takes it seriously. Well, my theory is that it became very tightly ingrained back in the day when not believing could get you killed, and even today not believing can have social consequences, so we have essentially “selected” for believers, cause not being a believer could terminate your existence.

        • MNb

          Fictional characters were set in the past.
          Your theory is too simple and unspecific.

        • Pofarmer

          From the perspective of the writers of the NT, Jesus is both in the past and geographically distant.

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

          Paul’s Jesus is set in the indistinct past. But then with the (later) gospels, his life is put into focus. Sounds like a move from myth to legend to me.

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

          Good point. Perhaps it’s unclear what Ockham would strip away.

          John Henry was a real person. Arthur might’ve been–though Merlin obviously not. There’s a process done often enough that it’s given a name (I’m forgetting) where a god becomes “historical,” and that happened to Hercules, I’ve read.

          we have essentially “selected” for believers, cause not being a believer could terminate your existence.

          The example that comes to mind for me is the aftermath of a natural disaster like Haiti or Banda Ache. Lots of people have “miraculous” stories where they survived out in the ocean on a door for 3 days, or they held onto a tree while everyone else was swept away. All the people who could rebut that (“Oh, God saves people, does he? Well, he didn’t save me, and I’ve got 3 kids who depend on me!”) are all dead!

        • avalpert

          “The whole thing is a puzzle, but the real puzzle is why anyone today takes it seriously.”

          ” so we have essentially “selected” for believers”

          I really don’t see much of a puzzle in it at all. Human beings are programmed to see patterns and cause and effect where none exists because it served an important evolutionary role in protecting them from predators (better to assume every splash of orange in green is a lion than to not).

          As our language, curiosity, thought etc. developed further (ignoring for now the order and drivers) this ingrained trait was useful both for expanding our engineering/science capabilities and our mythology of the world.

          When you add in our social nature, which drives us to use markers that connect us socially be it skin color or overarching mythology, and our cognitive biases that drive us to dig in on our beliefs the development and entrenchment of religion within our social framework seems inevitable.

          That, in the relatively short time in the span of human history since the enlightenment we have broken that framework down as much as we have is something I find far more remarkable than the observation that the framework persists for most of humanity.

        • Greg G.

          Hi MNb,

          I am familiar with his arguments and he provides zero evidence in the form of historical data.

          What kind of evidence would you expect for someone who didn’t exist? There is nothing but the textual evidence in the New Testament for Jesus and Doherty shows that the epistles don’t say what believers think they say. If you reject the miracle Jesus of the gospels, you are left with the Minimal Jesus, but the epistles don’t support that theory at all.

          Now these are extremely hard to get, but a sceptical mind soon realizes that every single argument of Doherty applies to a historical Jesus with lots of myths and legends attached to as well.

          But when you peel away the myths and legends, you are left with an ordinary person with more myths and legends that is not described by the earliest writings. You have to star peeling back the story about the Pharisees popping up in a grain field on a sabbath (Mark 2), that Jesus declared the food laws invalid (Mark 7) but Peter argued against Paul when Paul got in his face for following them. So even the non-myths and non-legend stories don’t hold up either. Every story about Jesus in Mark comes from the literature of the day.

          If we then realize that it was not common in Antiquity to make up entire fictional characters it becomes clear that Doherty’s myth theory falls under Ockham’s razor – it gives rise to several more questions he typically never asks.

          Would you say that the prophecies about David’s seed would remain on the throne and the coming Messiah are not about a completely fictional character? That is the character that the early Christians believed in. Doherty says they believed that the Messiah had come at some undefined time in the past to be the suffering servant who was crucified and resurrection but was about to return during that generation because they were uncovering hidden mysteries in the scripture.

          His methodology essentially isn’t better than Ken Ham’s of AIG: picking the stuff that seems to back his pre-determined conclusion.

          Then you aren’t as familiar with his arguments as you thiknk you are. He argues against every verse and claim that are used to support the historical Jesus. From Now an eBook: Doherty’s Rebuttal of Ehrman’s Case for the Existence of Jesus:

          This book-length rebuttal by Earl Doherty to Bart Ehrman’s much anticipated and unexpectedly disappointing case for an historical Jesus (“Did Jesus Exist?”, published March 2012) first appeared in installments from March to August 2012 on the Vridar blog (under copyright), and is now being offered in e-book form, with extensive minor revisions.

          It addresses virtually every claim and argument put forward by Ehrman in his book, and demonstrates not only the faultiness and inadequacy of those arguments, but the degree to which the author has been guilty of a range of fallacy, special pleading, and clear a priori bias against the very concept of mythicism and those who promote it.

          What evidence do you have that you think supports a historical Jesus? I’d like to see something.

          EDIT: I would like to add that my position on the historical Jesus is opposite my a priori bias. I was persuaded by the evidence that Jesus was made up that was left over after rejecting all the poor evidence that Jesus was made up.

        • Greg G.

          This morning, the title of Doherty’s book came to me. It was The Jesus Puzzle.

        • Pofarmer

          What about appearing to the 500? What about the dead saints gallavanting through Jerusalem? You would think somebody would have recorded that. No way the Jewish leaders of the day could have just ignored it. Given the superstition of the day, you would think there would have been temples and shrines put up everywhere, and yet, it appears that christianity started outside of jerusalem.

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

          What about appearing to the 500?

          We know what the authors of the gospels thought about this “evidence”: not much. They either didn’t think it was historical or had never heard of it because it never appears in any gospel.

        • MNb

          If they thought about it at all – I’d rather say they didn’t know the concept of “evidence”.
          Note that it’s perfectly possible to state a historical Jesus and reject the empty tomb and the Resurrection. Those are the weak spots.

        • wtfwjtd

          But the idea that Paul had been taught about Jesus in “schools” flatly contradicts the way that Paul himself said he knows about the gospel of Jesus. He claims over and over that the gospel wasn’t revealed to him by “any human source”, it was by “revelation of a mystery”, and that Jesus appeared to him “last of all, as one abnormally born.” Does this sound familiar? It should–this is a strikingly similar way that Mohammed, Joseph Smith, and many others have received their knowledge from God about salvation.
          If Paul really was “schooled” about Jesus, either the teachers were lousy, or Paul was a terrible student. See Bob’s classic post “What did Paul know about Jesus?–not much” for more on this. He didn’t even know about the miracle stories of Jesus, among other glaring omissions. This would be unforgivable ignorance of Christianity’s core tenet, as Christianity’s very existence is literally based on the supernatural.
          A far more plausible explanation is also the simplest: Paul’s version of Christianity was one of many competing versions, and a few hundred (or more) years after his death, his writings and those of others who also had fairly compelling versions of Christianity were merged, in an attempt to create a more unified whole.

    • wtfwjtd

      This is a great post Greg, and got me to thinking. In the references you have given above, Paul makes it crystal-clear that he was given the message of the gospel by supernatural revelation. Why would he do this? My take on this is fairly straightforward; there is obviously some animosity that exists between Paul and Peter. Can you imagine, every time they meet anywhere, especially with a crowd, Peter pulls out the ol’ Ken(the Hamster) Ham canard: “Yes, the gospel of Jesus is great. So Paul, were you there? I was!” No doubt, this filled the vain and boastful Paul full of rage and envy any time it happened. How could he trump this? Simple: Paul can “see” Jesus after he was resurrected; even Peter wasn’t making this claim. This is where his apostolic authority comes from–the road to Damascus, etc. Plus, he can embellish on this tack even further–with out-of-body experiences, visions of heaven(see II Cor 11-12), even seemingly miraculous survival stories. This, along with being supernaturally gifted with his take on the gospel, outta put that uppity Peter in his place.
      Referencing any of this as “proof” of the resurrection is ludicrous. The gospel was divinely revealed to Paul, end of story. ….that is, if you believe the tales that Paul tells. I myself am a little skeptical, I’m afraid.

    • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

      That’s very interesting. One question, however. It was my understanding that “Peter” and “Cephas” are the same person, i.e. “the rock” in Greek and Hebrew respectively. So this reference to Peter and then Cephas confuses me. Was it translated that way, or did the original text have the name in both of these languages (assuming you know)?

      • Greg G.

        I asked Richard Carrier whether they might be two people and he was certain they were the same person. Bart Ehrman mentioned in a book that he questioned it when he was younger but found the name was rare so it’s quite unlikely for there to be two of them, which was also Carrier’s reasoning.

        Paul talks about Cephas in 1 Corinthians but Peter is only discussed in Galatians where Paul alternates using both names in a span of three or four verses.

        I have noticed that Paul talks about the reputed pillars in Galatians and that those three happen to be the three main sidekicks of Jesus. The argument in chapter 2 seems to be transformed into Mark 7:1-19. Galatians 5:14 reflects Rabbi Hillel’s statement about the Torah “Don’t do what your neighbor hates. All the rest is commentary.” Jesus says that is the second greatest commandment in Mark 12:31. So Mark may have taken the name Peter from Galatians.

        I have also noticed that Paul is extremely sarcastic in Galatians. In Galatians 5:12, he wishes circumcisers would go the whole way and emasculate themselves. In the opening he points out that he is sent by the Lord (as usual) but “not by men or a man”. He notes that James sends people to Antioch in chapter 2. So when he calls James “the Lord’s brother”, he is probably being sarcastic about him ordering people around the way the Lord does.

        So, when Paul calls Cephas “Peter”, I wonder if he is sarcastically using a nasty play on his name. Just a thought.

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          Hmm, that idea does make sense. I certainly noticed how the epistles portray Paul and Peter as rivals, something you don’t expect if they had served under a human Jesus (or if Peter was actually his designated successor, as the Gospels have it). Paul’s caustic personality comes across clearly these as well (or whoever wrote them).

  • RichardSRussell

    If anyone would like a PDF copy of my 4-page “Resurrection Chronology”, which summarizes the crucifixion and resurrection accounts of the 4 gospels in 4 adjacent columns, so you can compare for yourself just how raddled they are, e-mail me directly at
    RichardSRussell@tds.net

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

      That does make a clear and convincing case that the end game in each gospel is unique.

  • KarlUdy

    If you want to argue against Habermas’ minimal facts argument you need to either show that at least one of the facts doesn’t hold, or that together they can’t be used to come to the conclusion he does.

    Your response to the actual facts amounts to simply casting doubt by saying we can’t be sure. That Jesus was crucified is as well established a historical fact as just about any event we have from the 1st century. And you yourself say

    I presume that the Paul and the gospel authors honestly believed

    . So despite your wish to cast doubt on the fact of it, you seem to come to the same conclusion as Habermas.

    As to your comments regarding 1 Corinthians 15. I have pointed out previously that there are no variant readings of those verses, and that they appear in the earliest manuscripts, and are also in manuscripts and traditions from multiple locations all over the Mediterranean from Lyon to Alexandria. Furthermore you are ignoring the reasons that scholars believe it is a quotation of an early creed as opposed to a later addition.

    If you want to show that the facts together don’t form the conclusion Habermas comes to, then you are doing the whole discussion a disservice by breaking it up into two posts with two facts in each post. If you feel it is necessary to break it up into two posts then it would be better to have one post to argue the facts and another to argue the conclusions.

    • avalpert

      “That Jesus was crucified is as well established a historical fact as just about any event we have from the 1st century”

      No, it isn’t – not even in top 50. This is one of those silly throwaway lines that can only be spoken by someone who hasn’t given it a seconds worth of honest thought.

      How about this, when a contemporary Roman emperor makes an arch commemorating the event that survives to this day we can put it in the same league of other events in 1st century Judea, let alone the rest of the world.

      • KarlUdy

        By what means would a historian determine a Roman emperor’s reign to have been during the first century?

        • avalpert

          Is this a serious question?

          Coinage, contemporary busts of them, contemporaneous mentions of them within and outside of Rome, the accounts of 1st century historians, corroborating archaeological evidence…pretty much the full repertoire of evidence available to historians, none of which exist for Jesus’ life let alone specific events in his life.

          *note I am not suggesting that a first century Jewish cult leader named Jesus didn’t existed just that the evidence for it is far below that of many other people/events

        • Greg G.

          *note I am not suggesting that a first century Jewish cult leader named Jesus didn’t existed just that the evidence for it is far below that of many other people/events

          I wouldn’t doubt that either. Josephus lists 18 high priests from the Second Temple era and four of them are named Jesus. There may have been many religious leaders named Jesus and some of them may have been crucified by Pilate. I deny that the NT epistles are about any of them and the gospels are not about those Jesuses, either.

        • KarlUdy

          Granted, there are no busts of Jesus or coins with his image from the first century. However, there are accounts of first century historians, and supporting archaeological evidence. And textual evidence of Jesus’ death would eclipse that of any event associated with an emperor.

        • Greg G.

          Those accounts attest to there being people who believed that there had been an early first century Jesus, but they were in no position to know that for certain, but they may have read Mark or heard someone preach about it.

        • KarlUdy

          You talk about “knowing for certain”. What do mean?

          While Pliny probably fits the description you are talking about, Josephus and Luke are both close enough to the source to count as more than hearsay.

        • Greg G.

          Josephus was born circa 37, so it’s close but no cigar. He would have had to get his information from written material from the late first century. Luke is dependent on Josephus for a great deal of the information he doesn’t share with Mark and Matthew, so he is later still.

          Harry McCall posted Even if the Entire Testimony of Josephus on Jesus is Authentic, It’s Apologetically Worthless.

        • avalpert

          You realize Pliny was born ~30 years after Jesus’ supposed crucifixion – in what possible way could anything he said serve as a contemporary account of his life?

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

          By “eclipse,” are you referring to the thousands of copies of the same damn thing over and over?

          As for first-century historians, some of them record the doings of emperors with whom they were contemporaries. Not so for Jesus.

          For the son of God, he made a rather small splash.

        • avalpert

          Um, no there are no account of Jesus among contemporary first century historians – zero, zilch. And there is no archaeological evidence of Jesus’ life – again zero. And no, the textual evidence of his death does not eclipse that associated with even minor events of various emperors – in fact, the textual evidence of his death is entirely limited to writing in a later period by religious zealots who cannot in any way be considered reliable historical sources.

          Like I said, this is merely the ramblings of someone who has not given the issue a moment of honest thought.

        • Pofarmer

          I particularly like this from John E. Remsberg, “The Christ.”

          “Contemporary writers have left us not one word concerning him. For
          generations afterward, outside of a few theological epistles, we find no
          mention of him.

          The following is a list of writers who lived and wrote during the
          time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have
          lived and performed his wonderful works:

          Josephus

          Philo-Judaeus

          Seneca

          Pliny the Elder

          Suetonius

          Juvenal

          Martial

          Persius

          Plutarch

          Justus of Tiberius

          Apollonius

          Pliny the Younger

          Tacitus

          Quintilian

          Lucanus

          Epictetus

          Silius Italicus

          Statius

          Ptolemy

          Hermogones

          Valerius MaximusArrian

          Petronius

          Dion Pruseus

          Paterculus

          Appian

          Theon of Smyrna

          Phlegon

          Pompon Mela

          Quintius Curtius

          Lucian

          Pausanias

          Valerius Flaccus

          Florus Lucius

          Favorinus

          Phaedrus

          Damis

          Aulus Gellius

          Columella

          Dio Chrysostom

          Lysias

          Appion of Alexandria

          Enough of the writings of the authors named in the
          foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and
          Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a
          Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers,
          there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.

          Philo was born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived
          until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the
          Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on
          earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ’s miraculous birth
          and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his
          triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He was there when the crucifixion with
          its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the
          dead took place — when Christ himself rose from the dead, and in the
          presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven. These marvelous events
          which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really
          occurred, were unknown to him. It was Philo who developed the doctrine
          of the Logos, or Word, and although this Word incarnate dwelt in that
          very land and in the presence of multitudes revealed himself and
          demonstrated his divine powers, Philo saw it not.

          Josephus, the renowned Jewish historian, was a native of Judea. He was born in 37 A.D., and was a contemporary of the Apostles. He
          was, for a time, Governor of Galilee, the province in which Christ
          lived and taught. He traversed every part of this province and visited
          the places where but a generation before Christ had performed his
          prodigies. He resided in Cana, the very city in which Christ is said to
          have wrought his first miracle. He mentions every noted personage of
          Palestine and describes every important event which occurred there
          during the first seventy years of the Christian era. But Christ was of
          too little consequence and his deeds too trivial to merit a line from
          this historian’s pen.”

          It goes on at length.

          http://positiveatheism.org/hist/rmsbrg02.htm

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

          A great list, thanks.

    • Greg G.

      Fact 1: Jesus died by crucifixion.

      1 Corintihians 15:3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,

      Paul “received” this from

      Isaiah 53:5 (NRSV)
      5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
      crushed for our iniquities;
      upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
      and by his bruises we are healed.

      1 Corintihians 15:4a and that he was buried,

      Paul “received” this from

      Isaiah 53:9 (NRSV)
      They made his grave with the wicked
      and his tomb with the rich,
      although he had done no violence,
      and there was no deceit in his mouth.

      1 Corintihians 15:4b and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,

      Paul “received” this from

      Hosea 6:2 (NRSV)
      After two days he will revive us;
      on the third day he will raise us up,
      that we may live before him.

      Psalm 16:10 (NRSV)
      For you do not give me up to Sheol,
      or let your faithful one see the Pit.

      Psalm 41:10 (NRSV)
      But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
      and raise me up, that I may repay them.

      Paul tells us that he didn’t receive his gospel from any human (Galatians 1:11-12). Elsewhere he says it was from revelation through the scriptures. The verses he uses are taken out of context. As explained in my other post, Paul doesn’t think the other apostles “received” their information by a method different than his own. So Fact 1 is a completely imaginary event.

      Fact 2: The disciples believed that Jesus rose and appeared to them.

      My first post showed that this is not a fact either.

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

      Your response to the actual facts amounts to simply casting doubt by saying we can’t be sure.

      Right. You’re saying that I have to prove beyond any doubt that one of these “facts” is false?

      I’m simply saying that these facts are each too tenuous to support much of anything, let alone the remarkable claim of a resurrection.

      That Jesus was crucified is as well established a historical fact as just about any event we have from the 1st century.

      And I showed why I disagree.

      So despite your wish to cast doubt on the fact of it, you seem to come to the same conclusion as Habermas.

      Lots of people believe nutty things. What Paul one of them? Seems so to me.

      As to your comments regarding 1 Corinthians 15. I have pointed out previously that there are no variant readings of those verses, and that they appear in the earliest manuscripts, and are also in manuscripts and traditions from multiple locations all over the Mediterranean from Lyon to Alexandria.

      Yes, and … ? How does this dismiss the concerns that I raised?

      Furthermore you are ignoring the reasons that scholars believe it is a quotation of an early creed as opposed to a later addition.

      Remind me.

      If you want to show that the facts together don’t form the conclusion Habermas comes to, then you are doing the whole discussion a disservice by breaking it up into two posts with two facts in each post.

      As you pointed out, all I have to do is cast sufficient doubt on one fact. (I think I cast plenty of doubt on each, actually.)

      • KarlUdy

        Right. You’re saying that I have to prove beyond any doubt that one of these “facts” is false?

        I’m simply saying that these facts are each too tenuous to support much of anything, let alone the remarkable claim of a resurrection.

        You do not need to prove beyond any doubt to make your case. It would help if you could give enough to doubt to make a conclusion on the balance of probability, or even reasonable doubt.

        You say, re the first point

        The story does gradually became widespread, though this was long after the time of Jesus. That doesn’t make it “historical fact.”

        What is the time frame of the news of Jesus’ death becoming widespread? And what time frame would make it too slow for you to consider it historically credible?

        And re the second point, you say

        Yes, that’s what the story says, but let’s be skeptical about stories.

        Any historical account is a story – are you saying we should be skeptical of historical accounts in general? The idea that there should be an a priori presumption of skepticism or disbelief about what is reported as having happened is untenable in any field.

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

          If the conclusion is the resurrection, then a tiny bit of doubt in the facts that build the argument should be enough.

          I’m not making an issue about time frame/time period.

          As I noted about Merlin and Arthur, we are skeptical about stories about the past. If the issue isn’t of much importance (I dunno–what Julius Caesar had for his last meal, maybe), then you won’t find a lot of squabbling over the evidence. But if there is much at stake–the existence of a supernatural creator of the universe, say–then the evidence must be unimpeachable.

        • KarlUdy

          If the conclusion is the resurrection, then a tiny bit of doubt in the facts that build the argument should be enough.

          This is fallacious. Either the facts are dubious, or the argumentation is dubious, or the argument is sound. To reject an argument because you don’t approve of the conclusion is simply prejudice.

          I’m not making an issue about time frame/time period.

          Then why say:

          The story does gradually became widespread, though this was long after the time of Jesus. That doesn’t make it “historical fact.”

        • Kodie

          Even if you had stacks of actual lifetime evidence of a figure known as “the” Jesus we’re all talking about existing, the resurrection of that person is unbelievable. That so many people suspend their disbelief over these flimsy accounts of this man and his death and resurrection does not make it more believable. And furthermore, it’s not just that he supposedly resurrected, but in doing so, absorbed all the sins of humans of the world if we are to believe in him, this opens up another set of unbelievable circumstances you cannot prove. You wish it to be true. You think you have enough to show you that it is true or could be true, despite never such a thing being evidenced or possible.

          And then you charge atheists with a defect causing us not to believe in the impossible. This story is built into many scholarly efforts, giving you reason to believe people who know a lot more about it than you do have studied it very closely and report to you the firm truth! You don’t really know, but you fancy yourself smarter than the average Christian – effectively persuaded to the confidence of your belief by people pretending to be smart, making you feel smart.

          The only doubt you can cast on the atheist account of events is the length of time from one (alleged) event to its official documentation is sufficiently short to be merely possible that the story survived intact and unembellished, therefore never proven impossible. I’m not exactly sure about all the effort to expose Jesus as having never existed anyway, but if only to say if he never even existed, this extremely diminishes the chance that he ever resurrected, or even the tomb story where a body disappeared and everyone had an alibi, 2000 years ago. If Jesus did exist in fact, and for some reason, we also have historical confidence in every event starring him in the bible, relatively, you think you have us. Why would all his sermons and crucifixion, etc., be true, and then they went over the top with raising him from the dead? Christians like to use “he existed” to leap to the conclusion that he then resurrected to a real heaven and a real god, and all the attendant details like salvation.

          But the way you warp facts to your conclusion, so that’s ok? It’s wrong to dismiss a whole historical account because the conclusion is impossible (not unlikely, impossible), but it’s right to build up a series of poorly documented, unlikely, iffy, rumors and legends in order to support the impossible event of a god-man’s resurrection…. right? The details of his life, if he existed or if he did not, are not really relevant. You are not as concerned with the existence of Jesus’s neighbor who did not resurrect and promise you salvation.

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

          To reject an argument because you don’t approve of the conclusion is simply prejudice.

          Uh huh. Ain’t doing that.

          Then why say:

          The story does gradually became widespread, though this was long after the time of Jesus. That doesn’t make it “historical fact.”

          A widespread story doesn’t make it a “historical fact.”

          I think we have more interesting issues to worry about than your parsing my sentence structure.

      • Rick

        Seems like a pretty low standard, and you only meet it based on your own self-grading. That doesn’t sound very objective, nor consensus based, as you say you like to do. Actually, to defeat an argument, you need to show it to be false, not simply unlikely in your own subjective and biased judgment (as you admit to being an atheist opposed to Christian evidences), without presenting your own evidence. You must do much more than simply cast doubt on a single fact.

        Instead, though, your approach is frequently the use of arguments from your own sense of what is reasonable as if that is sufficient to overturn evidence that exists from the first century. The evidences of Jesus’ life and death by crucifixion are numerous even from non-Christian sources. See “Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources” for just one article on this topic. You can’t simply dismiss such evidence with a wave of your rhetorical prose.

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

          Seems like a pretty low standard, and you only meet it based on your own self-grading.

          I give my arguments, and my distinguished colleagues on the other side of the aisle can evaluate them or dismiss them or whatever. If there’s a better way to wrestle with these issues, let me know.

          That doesn’t sound very objective, nor consensus based, as you say you like to do.

          Consensus matters in science, as I’ve made clear. The “consensus of New Testament scholars” doesn’t mean much on issues of the supernatural.

          Actually, to defeat an argument, you need to show it to be false, not simply unlikely in your own subjective and biased judgment (as you admit to being an atheist opposed to Christian evidences), without presenting your own evidence. You must do much more than simply cast doubt on a single fact.

          When the argument is a chain of claims, each link is essential. When that argument is claimed to support an immense conclusion (like the one Habermas makes) then casting doubt on just one link is sufficient.

          But to make sure I understand your point, tell me what evidence you think I need to present.

          You can’t simply dismiss such evidence with a wave of your rhetorical prose.

          And you can’t dismiss my arguments with a wave, as you try to do here. I’ve made specific points in the post. If they’re wrong, show me.

        • Rick

          I didn’t dismiss your arguments. I didn’t even address them directly. I said what you confirmed. You have a very low bar set for your personal standards of argumentation. Everyone with whom you disagree seems to need a fully developed case. You only need to dream up some reason that to you seems sufficient to cast any doubt on their concept and poof you win. If someone here said the same thing to you, would you accept their challenge? Obviously not, since I suggested you didn’t meet my standard for disproving this particular topic, and you don’t seem to accept that as sufficient. You make my point. Thanks.

          By the way, since you brought it up, has anyone replying to you said that

          The “consensus of New Testament scholars” … [means] much on issues of the supernatural.

          I don’t recall reading that, though I don’t read everything here. Some do suggest that the consensus of New Testament scholars has bearing on what the text actually says and what it means. As for whether it is true, that is a different topic on which scholars have other means of validation.

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

          I didn’t even address them directly.

          Yes, that was my point.

          You have a very low bar set for your personal standards of argumentation.

          Uh, OK. I’d be curious to see what leads you to this conclusion.

          Everyone with whom you disagree seems to need a fully developed case. You only need to dream up some reason that to you seems sufficient to cast any doubt on their concept and poof you win.

          Since you didn’t address my last clarification, I guess I have to assume that you didn’t get it. Should I make it again? Habermas’s claim is immense. A little doubt is, indeed, all I need and poof, I win.

          That’s just the situation we’re in, whether you like it or not. Now, if you think I didn’t meet the standard of “a little doubt,” then you might have a case to show that my point is flawed.

          You don’t seem to be in the mood to respond to my arguments. If that mood ever strikes you, however, show me specifically how my argument did nothing to dent Habermas.

          If someone here said the same thing to you, would you accept their challenge?

          I’m not seeing this parallel situation where I’m the one in the hot seat. Habermas is making an insanely large claim, and I’m not.

          Asymmetric.

          You make my point. Thanks.

          Dang! You’re always cleverly turning the tables on me an making me look like a babbling idiot. How does that always happen? Probably ’cause you have Truth® on your side.

          I don’t recall reading that, though I don’t read everything here.

          Read more Gary Habermas and you’ll see it.

          This comes from my post responding to a silly Gary Habermas argument.

        • Rick

          You’re talking past my point. I’m not addressing Habermas or whatever you may have done to show there is doubt in his argument. My point was solely about your choice to avoid actually making a positive case for what you believe, and instead settling for the low bar of making up stuff that seems reasonable to you, and which you seem to think casts doubt on others’ positions.

          Someone comes up with a pretty good case, but you find fault with it. Since you don’t call into their talk show if they have one, you just blog your discovery of the fault to your fellow travelers — but it’s never answered by the one with whom you disagree. Shazam! You declare yourself the winner.

          You make no positive case for your uncaused universe including:

          >>Matter from poof nothing!

          >>Laws of physics and silly things like gravity and light bam fill in the blank (I, Bob have no clue)!

          >>Order in stars and planets and the frivolous little universe thingy from zing zilch!

          >>Information content in DNA from presto thin air!

          >>It all just gulp happened!

          >>And that is really the wait for it best explanation!

          Why? Because scientists say so! Really! But don’t expect solid answers because I (Bob) am above giving them… I only cast shadows of doubt.

          Sounds like different standard of proof for your side. Somehow, it hasn’t convinced me. I think that’s what really irritates you about Christians. We don’t necessarily wave a white flag and bow down to your prodigious blogosphere.

          There’s too much at stake. And you haven’t convinced all of us with your shadow of doubt minimalism in the face of so much evidence that all has to be wrong for your atheistic naturalism perspective to be correct.

          You might be right. But you haven’t been convincing. At least not to all of us.

          But most who oppose you have been driven away by the negativity and closed-mindedness here, or only (like me) drop by occasionally to see if anything has changed. Sadly, it hasn’t seemed to. But I keep hoping!

          So I’ll let you have the last word and be back in a while. Later!

        • Kodie

          It seems reasonable that all the things around you respond to the environment, then your straw man argument does not stand at all. In fact, it’s ridiculous stuff like that you can’t comprehend that makes it easy to find fault with a magical invisible omni-god making a dollhouse to play in, and everything that goes along with thinking that’s more reasonable. Try again, Rick! If you must!

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

          I’m not addressing Habermas or whatever you may have done to show there is doubt in his argument.

          OK, fair enough. Then I’ll assume we’re on the same page that I only need to show that one of his claims is doubtful for me to upset his argument.

          My point was solely about your choice to avoid actually making a positive case for what you believe, and instead settling for the low bar of making up stuff that seems reasonable to you and which you seem to think casts doubt on others’ positions.

          Done. See “OK, Smart Guy—YOU Tell Us What Happened” from 7/30/12.

          And, as part of this Habermas series, I’m planning to hit this again. Look for “So How Does an ATHEIST Explain the Resurrection Story?” (tentative title) in about a week.

          But I’m missing the “low bar” criticism. Habermas makes a claim; I show why the claim is flawed. I’m not sure your point—is this the easy way out? This is what a coward would do? Clarify.

          you just blog to your fellow travellers, your discovery of the fault is never answered by the one with whom you find fault.

          My goal is to get Christians to hang out here. I like having flaws shown to me. Have you encouraged any Christians to come here? If not, you’re not part of the solution.

          Shazam! You declare yourself the winner.

          Touche! My sole goal in life is to surround myself with sycophants who praise me. I’m planning on having four living creatures with wings who never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy is Bob Almighty.”

          (Whaddya think? We all need stretch goals, I figure.)

          You make no positive case for your lack of cause universe including:

          These sound familiar. Did you respond to my answers last time? Or is your goal just a drive-by?

          Matter from poof nothing!

          Not my view. Who says this?

          Laws of physics and silly things like gravity and light from wait for it fill in the blank!

          Wait for it … huh??

          If this is the Transcendental Argument, search here and you’ll find my response. If it’s not, I have no idea what you’re saying.

          Order in stars and planets and the frivolous little universe thingy from zing zilch!

          Again, your adorable snark is making me wonder what the hell you’re talking about.

          I’m guessing it’s this: Where did the universe come from? Answer: don’t know. Why–is this relevant?

          Information content in DNA from presto thin air!

          Are you asking about abiogenesis? There are intriguing hypotheses but no consensus. Tough problems take decades of work.

          Why? Because scientists say so! Really!

          I’ve clarified this point a dozen times and gotten nothing. I guess by asking the question you can walk away thinking that you’ve thrashed me good. Who wants to actually engage, right?

          But I’ll make it a baker’s dozen: you and I are laymen and have no option but to accept the scientific consensus (where there is one) as the best provisional explanation for that phenomenon.

          You got something better? Show me.

          But don’t expect solid answers because I (Bob) am above giving them… I only cast shadows of doubt.

          I’m loving the snark! Wear a black turtleneck—that would round out the persona. I’m already intimidated!

          As you’ve seen above, I have, yet again, given answers. Last time I got zilch in reply. Maybe you’ll deign to respond.

          I’ll pray.

          Sounds like different standard of proof for your side.

          More true than I think you realize!

          Somehow, it hasn’t convinced me. I think that’s what really irritates you about Christians. We don’t necessarily wave a white flag and bow down to your prodigious blogosphere.

          I’ve seen zero white flags. I don’t recall a single correction or concession from you in our 20 years of email discussions. Your concern is laudable, but I don’t hold my breath for you or any Christian to change your mind or even concede a single point.

          in the face of so much evidence that all has to be wrong for your atheistic naturalism perspective to be correct.

          You’ve changed the subject. If you want to go there, I await your list of evidence.

          But you haven’t been convincing. At least not to all of us.

          I’m certain that you will never change your mind. Congratulations–I’m sure you see that as a victory.

          But most who oppose you have been driven away by the negativity and closed-mindedness here

          I suspect that few Christians would enjoy hanging out at the site of the most gentle atheist interested in exploring the flaws in Christianity.

          Sadly, it hasn’t seemed to. But I keep hoping!

          Does evidence fuel this hope? I can’t imagine what that would be.

  • Joe

    Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

    Naysayers! Two whole cities of them, lol. Not to mention all the other naysayers in the Bible. Paul complained about naysayers all the time. It was like his favorite hobby or something. There I just disproved Jesus. You’re welcome, Christianity.

  • Jason Wexler

    Small quibble, but isn’t it more accurate to say that the Gospels can’t be placed earlier than the late first century (and the second century for John), rather than they were written in the late first century. My understanding is that the earliest reference we have to the Gospels is the early to mid second century, while many historically verifiable Christians from the turn of the second century seem to be both unaware of the Gospels and some reject that such a thing could or should exist.

    • Greg G.

      Luke’s dependence on Josephus puts Luke at the very end of the first century at the earliest but probably in the second century.

      • Jason Wexler

        That was kind of what I was getting at, the fact that Mark mentions the Jewish War puts him after 70 CE, and Matthew references Mark puts him after Mark, and Luke references Mark, Matthew and Josephus’ “Antiquities of the Jews” puts him after 96 CE. But those are only floors as it were, dates which can’t be made earlier by virtue of those references; it does not mean that Mark was written in 70 CE and Luke in 96 CE and Matthew at some indeterminate date (usually assumed to be 90 CE) between them. Given that Clement of Rome and another late first century bishop (whos name I would have to get by rewatching one of Richard Carrier’s lectures on the historicity of the Gospels) both specifically rejected the idea of Gospels in 98 CE and I think 106 CE respectively. The first reference to Mark is a fragment from Bishop Papias in 125, while Matthew is first mentioned in 130 also by Papias; Luke is directly attested by a fragment from 160ish and John also by a fragment from around 180. Further we know the oldest extant copy of the texts are in the Vatican codex from the fourth century, we know that numerous scribes and bishops in the late Roman era (third and fourth century) liked to add and delete text to support their ideas, most notably Eusibius who is probably responsible for the vandalism of Josephus, so its not outside the realm of possibility that the dating references currently used are forgeries themselves, which actually means the gospels could be both older or more recent than generally believed.

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

          Where does Mark reference the Jewish Wars (you mean like the siege of Jerusalem)?

          I understand that Luke could’ve used Josephus as a source, but that’s just educated speculation, isn’t it? I hesitate to adopt a view that’s not the consensus view among historians.

        • Jason Wexler

          My understanding is that the consensus among historians and other scholars of the subject is that Mark’s inclusion of a prophecy of the destruction of the temple is worded in a way to suggest that it’s retrodiction, written after the temple was destroyed in what you called siege of Jerusalem and I called the Jewish war.

          Most literary analysis and especially biblical scholarship is educated speculation, so yes while it’s possible that Luke used Josephus as a source, it isn’t known for certain. All but the last two or three sentences I wrote previously generally fall within the purview of the accepted consensus view of biblical scholars (who aren’t literalists). The speculation about textual vandalism is certainly plausible but rarely if ever discussed by biblical scholars, at least in the direct way I did.

        • Greg G.

          I see. When I read your post the first time, I thought you meant Jewish Wars by Josephus and it looked like Bob did, too.

        • Jason Wexler

          I apologize for being unclear, I often forget that Jewish War is a short hand name I give for that conflict because I can’t remember it’s actual name in the history books. Knowing that there is also a book by that title makes it all the more embarrassing.

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

          “The First Jewish-Roman War,” I believe.

        • avalpert

          It’s generally called the First Jewish-Roman War or first Jewish Revolt- so your name is close enough

        • Greg G.

          Luke 2:42-47 appears to come from Life of Josephus 2, which is thought to be from 97 or later.
          A few weeks ago in the comments of another article, someone quoted a couple of letters from the early church fathers to show that the gospels were in circulation in the early second century, one from Matthew and one from Luke, but I showed that each quote could have come from the Gospel of Thomas instead.

    • Jim Jones

      I like post 135 CE (the Bar Kochba revolt) as the time of the first gospel. It would provide the impetus for creating documents separating Christians from Jews.

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

        I’ve heard that, but that late dating makes me wonder how the prophecy of the end (“There are some standing here who will not taste of death until all these things come to pass”) could’ve still been put on Jesus’s lips. Wouldn’t there be some tweaking to address the obvious fact that Jesus was wrong?

        • Pofarmer

          It all kinda makes sense if it were a play.

          What if Mark really were a performance piece? Maybe one set before the fall of Jerusalem and the Temple, and performed after. It starts with Jesus being an adult, and covers a short time span, so you only need one set of actors. Then it ends with the women running away and telling no one that Jesus had arisen, which maybe could be used to explain why the great stuff never happened, because they didn’t tell anybody? You could perform the whole thing quite simply with common props.

        • Jim Jones

          > It all kinda makes sense if it were a play.

          Some have suggested that Mark is supposed to be read over part of a year as part of a religious service.

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

          Interesting. The theater was well established in Greece and Rome by this point, and I wonder how the gospel story compares to other fiction of the time.

  • ImRike

    I’m just reading another interesting view of the resurrection: “Doubting Jesus’ Resurrection” by Kris Komarnitsky. The more I read, though, the more I lean towards the side of mythicism.

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

      Intriguing. Personally, I find the Jesus Myth theory to be a diversion from the standpoint of my argument arsenal–it’s just too much of a diversion.

      Still, it looks interesting. I need to read more.

      • ImRike

        Oh, Komarnitsky obviously believes in a historical Jesus and he is quite convincing in his arguments about the resurrection. So you see, I have to keep reading, too.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Richard Carrier is recommending that as the best-stated case for a historical Jesus.

  • MNb

    Because of Dutch philosopher of religion Emanuel Rutte ao, who argues for chistianity because “scholars agree on the empty tomb” I suspect that apologetics a la Habermas are much more common then we atheists may assume. These apologists very conveniently forget something.
    Let’s for the sake of argument grant Habermas his points. Let’s assume his methodology is valid, his results reliable and his conclusion correct. So historical research conflicts with the natural sciences; apparently this is possible. Well, if it’s possible one time it’s possible twice or more often too. If natural sciences have to give way once, then more often. Not only the results of scientific research – and I cannot stress enough that historical research is a solid branch of science, while Habermas obviously makes a historical claim – have to be consistent, so has the methodology.
    Habermas, if being scientifically sincere and claiming to be rational, has to apply his methodology to similar islamic, hinduistic and boeddhist etc. claims as well. We’ll likely end up with a whole set of supernatural (ie defying natural sciences) claims, including Surinamese bakru’s and yorka’s.
    How is Habermas going to approach this problem? Let me guess – by putting his christian head firmly in faithist sand.

  • MNb

    We know that fundies have chosen biology as their battleground as they can’t accept evolution. It’s my impression that many liberal christians – liberal in the first place meaning that they accept a less strict interpretation of the Bible and thus do accept evolution – prefer history, especially History of Antiquity. It’s important indeed for us atheists to think about and develop a strategy to counter excessive christian claims, certainly the empty tomb but above all the Resurrection.
    So good job, BobS.

    • Castilliano

      I can’t say I even care about the empty tomb except it’s a good example of where the four gospel stories conflict, and at on important event where there should be no conflict.
      Okay, four conflicting stories agree a tomb was empty.
      Therefore Jesus rose from the dead? Wow, wait, what? You really think the most plausible reason a body goes missing is that the body moved itself?

      It’s like seeing a used, empty coffin in a graveyard. Therefore vampires!
      Or an empty Egyptian sarcophagus. Therefore The Mummy!
      Scientist’s cadaver missing? Frankenstein’s Monster! (duh)

      The “empty tomb” argument is one of the most horrible proofs ever constructed: it’s internally inconsistent and has no plausibility outside of faith’s presumptions.

      But I’ll give the fundies this, it does serve as a good distraction (caltrops argument) from their other flawed arguments.

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

        Fair enough, but keep in mind what you’re giving up with this concession (I realize that it’s just for the sake of argument). You don’t take a story halfway through as a given and then say, “OK, given that Dorothy’s house has just landed on a witch and she’s seen the Munchkins and the Good Witch, where else would the yellow brick road go to but Oz??”

        If the end part of the story is nutty, that doesn’t say much about the first part.

        • Castilliano

          What concession?
          I’m just highlighting the dead end of the road apologists are trying to plow.
          Why would they even go there?
          The evidence for the empty tomb comes from conflicting stories, therefore it’s actually excellent evidence of the unreliability of scripture, therefore unreliability of the empty tomb’s existence too.
          That should end their foolish tactics, but it doesn’t.

          So then why do apologists push so hard to prove there was a missing body when there are so many “not resurrected” reasons the body could be missing. Who jumps to such a conclusion, ever?
          Even a saint or Pope, if their body went missing, resurrection would not be the first hypothesis. (Though, sadly, it would likely turn up eventually.)

          It’s just silly, hence all the silly parallels I drew.
          It boggles my mind, especially as a former Christian, why an apologist, who is supposed to thinking tactically, would ever think bringing up the empty tomb would serve them any good.
          “Let me highlight some of the most obvious discrepancies in the Bible, so I can prove this room was empty because everyone knows a missing body means the body was resurrected.” /s
          *sigh*
          I really wish I’d been exposed to the “empty tomb” argument as a Christian, just so I could have been an atheist sooner.
          Cheers.

        • TheNuszAbides

          So then why do apologists push so hard to prove there was a missing body when there are so many “not resurrected” reasons the body could be missing. Who jumps to such a conclusion, ever?

          the endless supply of weak/lazy imagination, against which we all must struggle.

        • Kodie

          It was 2000 years ago, on a night just like tonight… the worst crucifixion I ever seen….

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RryZV8NK9-Q

      • MNb

        For someone who doesn’t care you lay out a quite detailed strategy to counter the empty tomb argument.

        • Castilliano

          :)
          I just made that up as I typed.
          Cheers.

  • Scott F

    That’s funny. Even Bart Ehrman accepts that Jesus was crucified. Unless you are a mythicist (in which case the crucifixion is WAY too late in the story to start your argument!) it is hard to explain why an executed messiah would be a useful addition to the legendary elements of the tale. Plus Romans crucified people all the time, so it is historically plausible. If you want made-up stuff, check out the rationalizations that the evangelists had to spin in order to explain the execution.

    As to the belief that Jesus had been “seen” by his followers, I see no reason not to accept Paul’s testimony of the EXISTENCE OF THE BELIEF – even if I don’t trust him to have all the details. Judging by Paul’s report of his own encounter with an supposedly risen Jesus, these “appearances” could be the product of all sorts of stress-induced psychological experiences that had been smoothed out in the retelling into a somewhat coherent mash-up. For all its conjectural aspects of my theory, given the lack of activity we have seen from this risen messiah in the last 2000 years, the dream/vision story is still a better explanation than an actual Son of God delivering on his promises.

    So, I grant Habermas and Licona two of their “minimal facts”. I just don’t see how it helps their argument much.

    • Ron

      I agree. I’ll grant apologists the existence of a historical man right up to the discovery of an empty tomb. But they’ll have to provide better evidence for a resurrected messiah—i.e. real empirical evidence, not ad hoc explanations and “just so” hypotheses. If this was the singular most important supernatural event in all of human history—as they like to assert—then you’d expect the omni-max deity who orchestrated it all to leave a trail of evidence convincing enough to extinguish all doubts about the historical certainty of that event. Yet it appears that this supernatural entity wasn’t even capable of keeping the original manuscripts describing the event congruent… or in circulation.

      • GubbaBumpkin

        I’ll grant apologists the existence of a historical man right up to the discovery of an empty tomb.

        I might grant it ad arguendo, but I would have to point out how absurdly slim the evidence for even that is. Ehrman failed badly in that book.

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

          Robert Price’s position, as I understand it, is that a historical Jesus would certainly be the default position, but there is now so much evidence supporting a mythical origin of Christianity that the burden of proof has now fallen on the person who argues for a historical Jesus.

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

      it is hard to explain why an executed messiah
      would be a useful addition to the legendary elements of the tale

      Say you worship Dionysus. Dionysus defeated death. Now you’re getting pretty excited about this new Jesus guy–maybe you should worship him instead. But what’s that? You say that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? Even Dionysus did that.

      Maybe this newly converted Christian will add some cool elements of his old religion before he passes the story along.

      • Pofarmer

        Yep. My God is more spectacular than your God.

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

          Not anymore–’cause I just changed the story, and now my God does all the stuff your god does, and more!

          Bam! Who just got pwned??

    • Greg G.

      There were sects of Jews who were looking forward to the Messiah, especially since the Maccabees era, and wanted it to happen in their lifetime, just like Christians and the return of Christ for centuries.

      One sect began to read about the suffering servant who died for the iniquities of others in Isaiah 53 as being a hidden mystery history and thought their new understanding was because it was being revealed to that generation because the Messiah was on his way.

      That suffering servant was not crucified as a criminal by the Romans so it doesn’t have that taint. The hope of the Messiah was their good news.

    • Jim Jones

      > Even Bart Ehrman accepts that Jesus was crucified.

      Ehrman wants it to be true. There’s no evidence for an actual Jesus, any more than there is for an actual Batman.

      • busterggi

        I’ve held bats, I’ve never held an angel.

        • avalpert

          I’ve held a pin so I’ve probably held thousands of angels

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

          (I’ve heard that the original was actually, “How many angels can dance on the point of a needle?” which makes for a substantially smaller dance floor.)

  • GubbaBumpkin

    An earlier non-Christian source is Josephus, but Josephus’s two
    references to Jesus appear to have been added or modified by later
    scribes

    Fucquinet. Josephus was not born until after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus H. Christ, and the brief alleged mention of Jesus H. Christ was not written until after 90 AD. So if Habermas or anyone else even thinks this is a contender for evidence, he is clearly out of touch with the standards of evidence.

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

      Agreed. And then, with a straight face, he’s going to add hearsay from even later sources and call that evidence?

      The guy’s desperate.

  • Kodie

    The incentive is built into the naturally unbelievable story – you can
    only get to god through me. Anyone who denies Jesus is sent to hell for
    failing to regard an unbelievable story as true. God’s not interested in
    leaving evidence. Only scholars are willing to delve into the subject,
    honestly understanding how unbelievable it must seem, well, I believe
    honestly… however much other incentives to keep it up may enter into
    it. What it comes down to, from my perspective, is that Christians have
    insecurity about how unbelievable and impossible it must seem, for it to
    be true, they have to piece together whatever clues they can. Note the
    difference between people who just use the bible to support their
    arguments and people who feel the need to study, write, or read in order
    to launch this legend into a status of historical event.

    From a gullible Christian perspective, this gives strength as the apostles dying for a lie – who would study their whole lives and publish with confidence if what they found did not support their unbelievable conclusion? Legends don’t form that quickly, oral education was different, they spoke to eyewitnesses! None of that matters. Jesus said you have to go through him to get to god in heaven after you die; he is dictating the terms of his will. If you want salvation, all you have to do is believe he has the magic powers, and oh, of course, he died gruesomely over some kind of heresy declaring himself the messiah…. but then he was laid to rest in a tomb, and disappeared! If I were making up a story, I would make sure to show all the necessary steps too. If you read fiction or watch movies or tv shows, you may note how sharp the dialogue is and how the story unfolds as it would, chance meetings, and other events or remarks that don’t make sense until they are called back, as if the characters or plot could have been any different. The author may not know where the story ends up until they get there, but they can and do change things around retroactively to fit a conclusion – even to the point of a formula for the kinds of stories people really like a lot. And if you took literature at the high school level, you know all about foreshadowing and theme.

    When people read the accounts of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection as if it happened in order and wasn’t authored to meet an amazing conclusion that only happens in movies and books (and only the ones with magical or science-fiction elements), I kind of have to wonder how stupid they are. Nothing in real life has ever shown anything similar. We live in a world where we become aware that some people are skilled liars and have ulterior motives, and yet, willingly let down our guard and constantly impress ourselves what good judges of character we are, and what fools someone else is who isn’t on board. They channel what should be embarrassment into a whole persecution complex. We’re prejudiced and bigoted against the people who hold magical beliefs and want to suppress it… sure, if you’re wanting to build the foundation of an entire government on magical beliefs.

    But I mostly find negatives in the little arguments that don’t make any sense, like, atheists are going to be sorry, or atheists should try living in a Muslim theocracy. These pathetic little cracks show desperation in their arguments, and I like to think they have to know that. As for having a god-shaped hole, I think a lot of people have an unmet need to be known truly and loved completely that can only be filled by an imaginary person. Their formula for marriage or morals in order to please god, who “knows them” inside, what they really want and like, and when they’re dissatisfied by their own choices in life, and how utterly jealous that they have to say atheists deny god so we can actually be ourselves, but then that the love of another person cannot compare, and happiness (or hedonism) in life cannot compare, I have to wonder what they think heaven is like and what they’re looking forward to. All they see is an ideal order of religion, that if everyone fell in line with god, there would not be so many problems in society; if they could control us through law, if nothing else, it would be their proof that life has to mean something, but the world as it is seems to be both evidence that god exists, and evidence that life on earth blows and heaven is going to rock.

    I don’t understand, if it’s so obvious, why we need scholars, except that it is obviously hard to believe and meant not to be believed except by self-selected people with the willingness to disregard reality for a bonus afterlife. The bible pretty much lays it out there – if someone said to you, “only a fool washes their clothes in a bargain-brand detergent,” doesn’t that make it sound like spending more money is worth it? A competing brand, “only a fool spends more than they need to on laundry detergent.” The ads are playing on the consumer’s ego – we want to spend our money smartly. People like to save money, but they also like to be validated in their intelligence to spend more on a brand product that isn’t conspicuous as a car or a pair of sunglasses, and admits it’s more expensive than other brands in the aisle of the store. The “objective” actors in the commercial are impressed with the product, so you should spend more. Maybe it is actually better, but after being persuaded, can you rationally decide? Can you break and try another brand to see if it’s worse? Is it worse? Will you rationalize spending more for identical (or worse) results because your ego won’t let all of this house of cards make you be a fool? And when you kind of know you’re a fool and people criticize you, just call them haters and keep believing the impossible to idiotic. When you die, you’re really going somewhere else, a much nicer place than earth. Only a fool turns that down! Only a fool ignores the advertisement for (free*) salvation!

    Scholarship on the subject (whether historical in these example, or scientific-like in the Discovery Institute or fine-tuned planet) only serves to raise this ridiculous fiction up to a superficially intellectual level for people who think they’re too smart to fall for an obviously strange and unbelievable tale on faith alone, or that we’re too stupid that we can’t compete with the “new” results of their investigation, and that we would simply prefer them to keep it quiet, keep this upsetting-to-atheism’s-agenda! information hidden from the public, because we aren’t actually interested in following the evidence and only are interested in turning everyone against god and establishing an atheist state. They are hypocrites to a fantastic degree, attempting to suppress the offense and threat of science and history in favor of seemingly academic and scholarly accounts that, even if they were true, still have the unignorable problem of “yadda yadda yadda”, salvation. They call us “brainwashed” and “indoctrinated” to deny Jesus, while creating a delusion about how important or factual their information would be if it were ever to get out into the schools.

    And we do know it would be dangerous. It not only has no factual basis and doesn’t belong garbaging up our education system, kids could and would be convinced. It has that air about it to the uneducated and vulnerable. By making these scholarly efforts to legitimize a fictional subject, people who might not otherwise be fooled are persuaded and convinced. What is actually dangerous is how this defeats the also-Christian value of ‘Murica. It’s delusional to believe that the reason the US persists as a world power is Jesus’s love. It boils right down to that. It doesn’t have to do with science, technology, or commerce (or whatever measure you can use). Our taxes (that churches don’t pay) go mostly to fund the military, our mighty world football team, and if we pray before the game, we’ll win. It’s so stupid. Being a nation other countries hate and make fun of doesn’t get through to them, it only fortifies them, as if we’re embarrassing ourselves to care about other people, to develop in any other area than Christianity. I wish we would be a lot more practical and a lot less delusional as a country, but even education emphasizes a lot more memorization and recitation and not as much thinking and comprehension.

    I guess this is long enough or too long. :)

    • Pofarmer

      Kodie, I read throught this in bits and chunks, because I read a part of it and go “aha” and want to reply and get distracted. And then, right above this great piece of prose, we have another whacked out apologist muslim comment by Sparkling moon, who would convert you forcibly if they could. But, anyway. Don’t you wonder how, in 2014, that anybody can believe that 2000 years ago and more people were rising from the dead? And it’s not just Jesus. Elijah raised the dead, and was supposedly assumed into heaven without dying. Daniel survived death by Lions, and Shadrach, Meesach, and Abed Nego survived the flames of the Babylonian ovens, among others. The world was full of miraculous stories that nobody believes anymore, and yet, with no evidence whatsoever, at least not in the scientifically verifiable kind, you have millions of people that believe that 2000 years ago a Jewish miracle worker died and absorbed all our sins. Let’s not even get into the conversation that sin is a concept that’s incongruent with reality. It’s on television, on the radio, people believing the most outlandish things, because of FAITH! The further I get from that faithful time in my life the more I shake my head and just go, “wow”. Yes, Christians do good things, but they could do those same things if they were not Christians. Civic organizations could provide every social function now provided by Chruchs. Church’s are misseducating and therefore causing harm to millions, probably billions, but that’s O.K., because JESUS! The whole thing is making me ill.

      • Kodie

        I was not brought up in any faith, and when I was young, I thought religion was sort of quaint or cultural, like a nationality – most people in America “come from” somewhere else, whether it was themselves or their parents or a long time ago. I thought having a religion was like that. I wouldn’t say I grew up in the most diverse neighborhood, but I was certainly exposed through a few people there and in school to a variety of nationalities and religions outside of European or Christianity, and through TV also, about the “melting pot” of America, so I was pretty tolerant of people having religions and even wished I had one. I didn’t at the time know that with my mind I could actually choose one any more than I could choose to be Chinese or Irish; it’s just something you’re sort of born with and traditions shared in families. We didn’t talk about atheism or religion much in my family – my grandfather was the atheist. My mother had said she was an atheist but I think she might have been lying, and my father is not an atheist, but, together, they did have strong opinions about “the magic show,” “holy rollers,” and “bible thumpers”. I guess most people in my area were Catholic, but even most people I knew grewing up didn’t talk about their beliefs either. Just enough that I knew they had them and some basics of Christianity, and enough to know that Christianity was the majority and the norm (just like people of white, European descent, like, duh).

        When I got older, and I gave it some real thought, I guess at some point, I became starkly aware that grown people actually literally believed some things. Not fundie literalist garbage either, stuff like the resurrection. I assumed most people acknowledged evolution, it was simply the Jesus part, the magical guy who knows you, talks to you, gives you advice, and will meet you in heaven when you die. What? Having previously thought this was kind of a nice story (not having actually read the bible), I get that people like to pray and when they have no power at all, it feels natural to say “thank god it all turned out ok!” I still, this is the most problem I have being an atheist, especially amongst other atheists who used to be Christians, who have studied the bible and can argue these finer points of history vs. fantasy. You get someone convinced, not of magic, but of written reports from a scholar who has dug into the history of an area and a people, where the magical event is buried in academic arguments. I just say A doesn’t seem to go straight to B like it might seem here; and anyway, people don’t just disappear and resurrect.

        What grown person believes that any of this could happen? Who are these people afraid of an invisible man in the sky, and asking him for favors? I had, in my late teens and early 20s (not having been taught at home or school), gone through a stage where I couldn’t distinguish between magic and reality, to say, because it wasn’t Christian, I thought psychics and ghosts and stuff like that were not entirely out of the question or in the same category, but I eventually realized. It is the kind of thing you’re supposed to grow out of, yes? Everyone wishes they could see the future or cast a spell of some kind to alter reality, and it’s just a superstition. That is where I consider the firm line between not really understanding religion and understanding it but being surprised.

        Consider how many theists seem to think we are against “religion”. I was all for it. To them, as to me when I was younger, religion is attendance in church, the going through the motions, maybe some quiet reflection on your place in the world as another of “god’s children” – you know, just human – and set a moment aside to feel love for your family even if the rest of the week they drive you nuts and you yell at them. I even get all the metaphors and agree with some of them. But then you get the protest against religion – “it’s a relationship”, now you’re talking crazy. That is the bad part. That’s where you, a grown person, are proudly admitting you see things and hear things that aren’t there, worried that I don’t, and aren’t just going through the innocuous motions. I used to like the tradition of holding hands in a circle and “thanking god” for whatever, hope we have a good show tonight, or for bringing loved ones together, and now I don’t. Now it creeps me out that some people think that’s actively summoning a deity for support.

        • Pofarmer

          ;”and now I don’t. Now it creeps me out that some people think that’s actively summoning a deity for support.”

          The last time we were at my wifes family, they all said the meal prayer, and then through in a hail Mary for good measure. I actually had a mild panic attack, thinking how nuts this is, and I’m in a room with 20 or 30 other people who vehemently believe this is a very “powerful” prayer.

    • Castilliano

      No worries about length, it’s tremendous writing.
      I would recommend you tailor it to a theist audience (not necessarily fundie) and get it published, even if only in a newspaper editorial or perhaps through social media. Please.
      Kudos.

      • Pofarmer

        Would love to see it as a lead post on a blog on Patheos.

      • Kodie

        I’m pretty sure I was just rambling from thought to thought again, but thanks. :)

  • SparklingMoon

    Jesus died by crucifixion. Habermas points to the gospels, which are first-century writings that all report a crucifixion.
    ————————————————————
    It was stated in the Holy Book (Old Testament) that whoever was hanged on the wood was accursed. According to the agreed view of all who know the language, ‘curse’ has reference to the state of one’s heart. A man would be said to be accursed when his heart, having been estranged from God, becomes really dark; when, deprived of divine mercy and of divine love, between him and God there arises hatred and contempt and spite and hostility, so much so that God and he become mutual enemies.
    It is clear that the significance of the word accursed, is so foul that it can never apply to any righteous person who entertains love of God in his heart. Can we say that Jesus’ heart was ever really estranged from God; that he had denied God, that he hated Him and had become His enemy? Can we ever think that Jesus had ever felt in his heart that he was estranged from God, that he was an enemy of God, and that he was immersed in the darkness of unbelief and denial? If, then, Jesus had never been in such a state of mind, that his heart was always full of love and the light of Divine Knowledge, is it for you, wise people, to ponder. It is a pity that once a man has given utterance to something, when he has taken his stand upon a particular belief, he is not inclined to give up that belief,however much the absurdity thereof be exposed.
    Let it also be noticed that this not only detracts from the prophet hood and apostleship of Jesus (as) but it is also derogatory to his claim to spiritual eminence, holiness, love, and knowledge of God, to which he has repeatedly given expression in the gospels that he is the Light of the world, that he is the Guide, and that he stands in a relation of great love towards God; that he has been honored by a clean birth, and that he is the loved Son of God. How then, in spite of these pure and holy relations, can a curse, with all its significance, be attributed to Jesus? No, never. Therefore, there is no doubt that Jesus was not crucified, i.e., he did not die on the Cross, for his personality did not deserve the underlying consequence of death on the Cross.Not having been crucified,he was spared the impure implications of a curse, and no doubt it also proves that he did not go to heaven, for going to heaven formed part of this whole scheme and was a consequence of the idea of his having been crucified.(Jesus in India)

  • busterggi

    Let’s see – zero contemporary written evidence that Jesus ever lived, contradictory accounts by later anonymous authors with theo-political agendas as to when the crucifition & resurrection happened as well as what happened afterwards, hearsay accounts of visions of a risen Jesus – whose followers don’t even recognise when they see him and first greatest follower, Paul, who never met the man.
    Pretty minimal.

    • MNb

      Let’s see – zero contemporary evidence that Alexander the Great ever lived or Diogenes of Sinope. Now what?

      • Wyatt

        The Babylonian Royal Diary, kept for millenia, mentions Alexander. This is why we are absolutely certain about the precise date of his death; the diary records the day that ‘The King Died’ to use its words. This is a day to day account of the most important events befalling Babylon/Babylonia, not a narrative historical account.

        There is a contemporary administrative document from Bactria, written in Aramaic, that records the moment of Alexander’s arrival in Bactria in pursuit of the main assassin of Darius III, Artaxerxes V or Bessus. Indeed, the same documents record the moment that Bessus reached Bactria too, and as the documents both name him as King Artaxerxes and Bessus we have absolute confirmation about his status as a usurper.

        These two references to Alexander by contemporary sources are indisputable in authenticity. It means that these days, we actually do have direct evidence of his existence.

        • MNb

          Can you show me a contemporary sample of that Diary? No? Then how do you know it’s a contemporary account?
          That’s the logic of Jesus-mythologists.

          Now the same questions for Diogenes of Sinope please.
          My point is that Jesus-mythologists are guilty of ad hoc arguments – they don’t apply their methodology to anyone else than Jesus.

        • busterggi

          You are god-of-the-gapping like crazy – apply your arguements to yourself and maybe you can see how enpty they are.

        • avalpert

          There is a world of difference between not having the contemporary copy of a contemporary account and not having a contemporary account.

          There is a world of difference between having independent corroborating evidence of existence across independent accounts and medium (such as coins, statues, inscriptions) as we do with Alexander and having no corroborating evidence across medium and what post-hoc accounts exist being quite contradictory as we do with Jesus.

          The comparison is weak, applying the same level of scrutiny across the two doesn’t put them in the same league at all. That of course doesn’t mean some cult leader named Jesus (or something close enough) didn’t exist in first century Judea but to pretend it is as certain as Alexander the Great is ridiculous and makes you look defensive. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for someone to embrace that a 1st century cult leader of a tiny sect won’t leave the same historical evidence for existence as an emperor conquering his way across the known world.

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

        I’ll add: coins with Alexander’s face and name. Dozens of cities named after him. Statues.

        Alexander had a substantial impact on the world during his lifetime. Not so Jesus.

        • MNb

          How do you know they are contemporary?
          And now the same question for Diogenes of Sinope please.

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

          I know little of Diogenes.

          I’ve read that the many Alexandrias popped up during Alexander’s brief rampage through Asia. I can’t point you to evidence for that.

        • MNb

          Perhaps I must make my points more clear.
          I brought up Alexander and Diogenes because of the Jesusmythologist (JM) argument that “there are no contemporary accounts of Jesus”. There are none of Alexander the Great and Diogenes either.
          Next is “but we have archeological evidence for Alexander the Great but not for Jesus”. Well, according to Jerry Coyne more than 97% of all fossils are lost for us forever. We are not going to reject (parts of) Evolution Theory because of this. Note that we also have a good secular explanation (just like we understand why we never will have than only few fossils) why there is no archeological evidence and why there are no contemporary sources on Jesus: the guy was unimportant and unimpressive during his life.
          All we have about Diogenes of Sinope are later quotes; certainly no archeological evidence (just like many transitional fossils will always be missing). Still no JM ever has argued that he is a myth too.
          The inevitable conclusion is that JM methodology sucks, because it’s just an elaborated ad hoc argument. And you know as well as I do that wrong methodology invariably gives us unreliable results.
          I cannot help but pointing out another similarity. Just like WLC has called Young Earth Creationism an embarrassment Richard Carrier has criticized many of his co-JM’s.
          Food for thought.

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

          I brought up Alexander and Diogenes because of the Jesusmythologist (JM) argument that “there are no contemporary accounts of Jesus”. There are none of Alexander the Great and Diogenes either.

          But with Jesus, you’d expect there to be. There were a handful of serious historians who lived during the life of Jesus who should’ve reported on Matthew’s solar eclipse during crucifixion or the zombies walking around.

          Are you saying the same was true with Alex?

          the guy was unimportant and unimpressive during his life.

          Of course.

          All we have ab out Diog enes of Sinope are later quotes

          As with Socrates, whom we know of only through the writings of Plato?

          The inevitable conclusion is that JM methodology sucks

          Not my view, though I don’t care much about the Jesus Myth theory.

          Just like WLC has called Young Earth Creationism an embarrassment Richard Carrier has criticized many of his co-JM’s.

          Right—he’s saying that there are a lot of weak arguments within JM. But he’s also saying that there are sufficient good ones to make it a viable hypothesis.

        • MNb

          “But with Jesus, you’d expect there to be. There were a handful of serious historians who lived during the life of Jesus who should’ve reported on Matthew’s solar eclipse during crucifixion or the zombies walking around.”
          You’re shifting goal posts. I’m not talking about solar eclipses during crucifixions or zombies walking around, I’m talking about a messias claimant named Jesus. Why would any serious historian pay attention to (from his point of view) some fool (out of many) walking around in some remote part of the Empire? He could meet such fools around the next corner.

          “Are you saying the same was true with Alex?”
          I don’t understand this question.

          “As with Socrates, whom we know of only through the writings of Plato?”
          Worse – there is also a Greek general who wrote about Socrates and completely contradicts Plato. So any JM arguing that Jesus must be a myth because of the contradictions should also argue that Socrates is a myth – if consistent, which I strongly doubt.

          “Not my view”
          Then your view is wrong. Any methodology designed for one special case and not applied to other cases is flawed and unscientific.

          “there are sufficient good ones to make it a viable hypothesis”
          Like I wrote I am not too familiar with Richard Carrier, so I’m willing to give him a break. From what I have read on his blog he only brings up negative evidence (to paraphrase: “the evidence for Jesus is seriously flawed, hence a myth”) and exactly zero positive evidence. Plus he refuses to apply his methodology on other cases. I seriously hope I’m wrong here because I think it a disgrace if an atheist scholar (like Doherty) claims to be rational and messes with science at the same time. After all we don’t accept all this from the IDiots from Seattle either.
          You always ask: where is the evidence for a divine being? If you are consistent you also should ask: where is the evidence for a mythical Jesus? Exegesis a la Doherty doesn’t cut it.

        • avalpert

          You doth protest too much. The evidence for the mythical Jesus is the gospels – heck, there should be no question that there is a mythical Jesus the only rational question is is there anything that is the non-mythical Jesus.

          Asking for evidence that there isn’t a non-mythical Jesus is exactly the same as asking for evidence that there is no god of any sort at all. What kind of positive evidence would you expect there to be? Isn’t that the words and deeds attributed to him are all derivative of others writings that predate the period in which Jesus is said to have lived not some sort of positive evidence for a mythical Jesus? Is it dispositive, of course not – but what dispositive evidence of the non-existence of a random dude named Jesus in the first century do you really expect to find?

          At the end of the day, it’s a distraction. Whether there is any non-mythical Jesus isn’t an interesting question – that the ‘Jesus’ of Christianity is a complete myth in any meaningful sense is all that matters.

      • cest_moi

        there are, however, no stories relating supernatural activities by either of those individuals to make any accounts questionable, contemporary or otherwise

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

          I’m not so sure. The Alexander Romances might’ve appeared shortly after the death of Alexander (dating is uncertain), and I think they make a lot of supernatural claims about him. Historians do indeed scrub supernatural claims out of history, but it still is a historical fact that these (false) claims were sometimes made about great men.

        • cest_moi

          true that ……. my comment was poorly phrased

          a better way to express it would be that any accounts relating supernatural activities and events to these men are universally accepted as embellishments as any stories witth those elements should be

  • TheNuszAbides

    holy comment lode!
    i hope a lot of these are short or easily skipped/skimmed.

    but mostly i wanted to praise the playmobil angel and the delicious chocolate-topped digestive biscuit that was miraculously uneaten by the Risen Whatsit.

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

      That “stone,” miraculously rolled away, does look rather tasty.

      • TheNuszAbides

        hrm… odd.
        when i posted that, the comment count was over 2,000.

        now it’s 148.

        bright side: timesaver!

  • Steve

    I applaud your faith, it is monumental. It has to be—- to believe what you do!

    • Kodie

      How monumental does someone’s faith in a person not rising up from the dead have to be? Believe it even though it doesn’t make any sense and there’s no credible evidence.

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

      Steve: Someone hijacked your Disqus account and used it to write a brainless, content-free comment!

      After you change your password, come back and give us something substantial to back up this position.

    • https://plus.google.com/103783311760679881592/about Ophis

      Has it escaped your notice that a certain other belief system has for centuries been justified by its adherents using explicit appeals to faith?

    • Greg G.

      Anybody know how to replace an irony meter on a Samsung hand-held? Mine is now toast.

    • Cognissive Disco Dance

      OMG worst case of projection ever.

  • Agabu

    Fact 1: Jesus died by Crucifixion

    I’ve come to deal with your “errors” surrounding the life, death and resurrection of Christ as agreed upon some time ago. Let’s deal with your challenges one at a time.

    You quote Gary Habermas saying, “Clearly, Jesus’ death by crucifixion is a historical fact supported by considerable evidence.” Your response to this is “The story does gradually became widespread, though this was long after the time of Jesus. That doesn’t make it “historical fact.” I don’t know what this is meant to prove. Is it alleging that Jesus’ death by crucifixion is made up or that the crucifixion is a later embellishment? Neither of these positions is tenable nor is the allegation that the story developed later. The simple fact is that Jesus death by crucifixion is a historical fact supported by the considerable evidence of for instance four independent gospel accounts written within a generation of the events happening as well as the fact of crucifixion being an actual form of punishment during the time Jesus Christ lived. Indeed, the crucifixion is consistent with the form of punishment the ruling Romans meted out on convicted criminals in that era. The gospel accounts have the Roman authorities with the sort of leadership hierarchy that existed at the time as one of the principal players in the crucifixion of Christ, since they had jurisdiction over the punishment of any people group that was under their governance.

    The story of Jesus being crucified becoming widespread long after the time of Jesus isn’t an argument against its historicity, let alone evidence that it is therefore not historical. If this is what you’re trying to establish here by relegating it to the realm of being legend, it’s a fail. It is the claim of New Testament literature that documents its happening as something historic as it is prophetically significant. All four gospel accounts are documentary evidence of the historicity of the crucifixion of Christ through the use of eyewitness testimony and divine attestation. The “it’s just a story claim” is an unsupported fancy that is nothing but question begging. This is error numero uno in fact one that you commit. We’ll get to the other facts you deal with after dealing with this one in our back and forth.

    • Pofarmer
    • Pofarmer

      The simple fact is that Jesus death by crucifixion is a historical fact
      supported by the considerable evidence of for instance four independent
      gospel accounts written within a generation of the events happening

      Then Hogwarts is also an historical fact. As is King Arthurs Round table and knights fighting dragons and werewolves. In fact, Hogwarts is much better attested than Jesus crucifixion.

      as well as the fact of crucifixion being an actual form of punishment during the time Jesus Christ lived.

      Pontius Pilate was actually pretty fond of beheading, from the accounts that we do have. Crucifixion in that period was pretty rare, leading some to believe that the story were written after 125 CE, when there were, indeed, a lot of crucifixions.

      The gospel accounts have the Roman authorities with the sort of
      leadership hierarchy that existed at the time as one of the principal
      players in the crucifixion of Christ,

      There’s a problem though. The Sanhedren wouldn’t have needed to go to Pilate to execute someone for Religious dissent, and Pilate wouldn’t have needed any cooperation from the Sanhedrin to execute someone for treason(or whatever) so the story doesn’t really jive there, either. It has the marks of historical fiction, written at some distance from the actual place.

      The “it’s just a story claim” is an unsupported fancy that is nothing but question begging.

      Actually, no. the “It’s just a work of historical/political/religious fiction” claim. Looks at all of the widely similar works that we have in the Ancient world and puts them in the same camp. The unsupported fancy is that out of all the similar stories, and miracle writings, and religious cults, that this ONE, and only this one, is the real deal. You’re gonna need to work harder.

      • Kevin K

        And Osiris. And Mithra. And Shiva. And every other god-on-earth whose adventures were written about by the locals. Heck, the cult of Osiris was around for thousands of years and totally believed as actual-and-real by its adherents.

      • Agabu

        The Hogwarts comparison is as silly as it is irrational. Comparing a twentieth century work of fiction with fantasy elements with first century works of history with an admittedly theological agenda is an apples to oranges comparison. Try again.

        The problem you allege is an assumption that pretends it knows that time and era better than the writers of the gospel accounts. The gospels are too aware of the inner workings of the Sanhedrin and Roman authorities to make up that sort of thing. You on the other hand are bending over backwards to prove your point, when the simplest explanation that makes sense of the facts is the Sanhedrin had no authority to execute any man under Roman rule. Furthermore, the Sanhedrin didn’t have Jesus crucified for mere religious dissent, they had him recast as a political agitator who was a threat to imperial Rome in order to provide the Roman authorities a basis for punishment. Religious dissent wouldn’t have been enough for Pilate to have Him killed. The Gospels in fact make that very clear. Your allegations that the story has the marks of historical fiction has no basis in reality. It is pure speculation that explains nothing except keep you skeptical for no good reason at all.

        The “It’s just a work of historical/political/religious fiction” claim has no basis. What other ancient works from that era with similar features as semi-autobiographical works of history with a theological agenda have been shown to be intentionally fiction utilising a historical backdrop? The Gospels don’t claim to be works of historical fiction, you’re the one claiming that about them. Provide solid evidence that that is the case. Otherwise, the four Gospels qualify as works of history with a theological agenda sketching for us an accurate portrait of Jesus Christ. The other so-called similar stories you point to are just a diversion from dealing with the more credible Gospel claims. So I don’t need to work harder here. The four Gospels are the real deal because they’ve stood the test of time, and still lend themselves to meaningful research and analysis. Give me a better critique than an unsubstantiated “it’s just a work of historical/political/religious fiction” schtick.

        • MNb

          “Comparing a twentieth century work of fiction with fantasy elements with first century works of history with an admittedly theological agenda is an apples to oranges comparison.”
          There is no need to read any further from here.
          First of all the Harry Potter series also has a theological agenda as Rowling admitted herself.
          In the second place the NT is not a work of history anymore than the Harry Potter series.
          In the third place bar very few exceptions all works of history (the biographies of Alexander the Great for instance) written during Antiquity are all full of fantasy elements.
          In the fourth place the comparison with the Harry Potter series actually works in favour of a historical (but not a divine) Jesus. “Harry Potter is fiction hence Great Britain wasn’t ruled by an elected Prime Minister”, “Harry Potter is fiction hence GB didn’t know cars, trains and planes in the 20th Century” are obviously totally incorrect.
          Thought experiment: we live in the 40th Century. Our only source on GB in the 19th and 20th Century is the Harry Potter series. It’s remarkable how much historically correct information you can get out of the books.
          You don’t understand how to argue for your own position.

        • Agabu

          The Harry Potter series isn’t a work of history. We’re not in the 40th century, and actually know that the series is fantasy literature. Of course, J.K. Rowling has an agenda for writing her series of books with underlying philosophical and/or religious assumptions that she herself has. The Harry Potter comparison remains ridiculous and silly because the Harry Potter series is intentionally fiction. J.K. Rowling nowhere claims that the events therein actually happened. So Alexander the Great’s biographies are full of what you call fantasy elements. So what? That tells you nothing about the nature of the Gospel accounts. The Gospels have a very different agenda from Alexander’s biographies. It would seem you overestimate the power of your arguments here. There are just not good.

        • Joe

          The Gospels have a very different agenda from Alexander’s biographies.

          Yes, and being an accurate reflection of history was not high on that agenda.

        • Agabu

          What part of that history is inaccurate? What evidence do you have that that is the case? Speculations just wont do here.

        • Joe

          Which part is accurate? What evidence do you have that it is the case? Speculations just won’t do here.

        • Kodie

          All you have is speculation that it did happen. Everything else is mountains and mountains of rationalizations so you can pretend to defend a fictional story as historical.

          Puh-lease. Just don’t with the weak theist “you can’t prove it didn’t happen.” You’re backed in the corner, and that’s all you have.

        • Agabu

          Not at all. All you have is speculation that it didn’t happen, and rationalizations that it’s all fictional. What we got are four independent Gospel accounts documenting what actually happened in an identifiable culture and historical setting.

        • Kodie

          Do you have any idea how many accounts of people who swear they’ve been abducted by aliens there are? Way more than four.

        • Agabu

          I’m sure there are many. But alien abductions are irrelevant here. The fact of the crucifixion of Christ according to four highly detailed Gospel accounts are the issue.

        • Kodie

          No, we were talking about the weak reasons you believe, and try to use to convince others, that something that didn’t happen is a historical fact, and how that’s all you got.

        • Agabu

          And what are those weak reasons? You’re the one claiming the fact of the crucifixion didn’t happen. Where’s your evidence for that claim? Sorry but alien abduction stories aren’t evidence because they have no bearing on the historicity of the Gospels.

        • Kodie

          See, you keep asserting something like “historicity of the Gospels” without support, and I’m just supposed to believe it like an alien abduction story. You don’t understand how that’s weak? Why it’s relevant to talk about testimony we don’t believe, no matter how many “eyewitnesses” testify that it happened?

          That’s where you have to start. You keep swatting away reasons not to trust the gospel accounts, because you simply choose to believe fiction, for no good reason. Don’t count on everyone to be so gullible.

        • Agabu

          Don’t evade the responsibility of showing actual evidence of your claim that the Gospels are fiction. Your easy believism that they’re fiction is something that you don’t seem to be skeptical about. You just believe it with no evidence whatsoever. That’s what’s really weak here.

          The historicity of the Gospels is well supported by an analysis of the Gospels themselves as independent accounts that tell about Christ from uniquely distinct vantage points, while corroborating each other thereby certifying the historical veracity of the Jesus story. Reading and studying them on their terms as well as understanding their culture and historical setting yields conclusions that support the claims they make not only about Christ but about the historical milieu they inhabit. It is gullible to simply dismiss them as fiction for no good reason at all other than “I just think they’re unreliable because many things in them are so improbable and hard to believe.”.

          I keep swatting away your reasons not to trust the Gospel accounts because they’re so silly that even you shouldn’t be so gullible as to believe such silliness.

        • MNb

          “Don’t evade the responsibility of showing actual evidence of your claim that the Gospels are fiction.”
          Repeating your stupid lie only makes it more stupid.
          Kodie’s and my claim is not that the Gospels are fiction. The claim is that they contain many elements of fiction and that we only can accept elements as fact if established with a reliable method. I for one think the crucifixion of Jesus is historical.
          It simply doesn’t follow that Jesus was the Christ (only that his followers thought he was) nor that he was resurrected.

        • Agabu

          Now who is following stupid lies? It simply doesn’t follow that Jesus was the Christ, when all four Gospels were written to establish that very point?

        • MNb

          Where did Kodie claim that the crucifixion didn’t happen?
          I never claimed it either.
          You don’t know anymore what you’re arguing against.

        • Dys

          But Kodie…it’s written in a book he likes! That makes everything in it factual. That’s how Agabu’s subjective reality works.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s interesting to read someone so immersed in his own bullshit.

        • MNb

          So you don’t even understand how history of Antiquity is done. It works the other way round. You are the one who has to demonstrate that the Gospels are historically accurate. Historians don’t make an exception for your favourite Holy Book like you wish to do.

          Anyhow, the infanticide as described in Matthew can only be accepted as historical by gullible and prejudiced christians with a theological agenda – ie someone like you.

          Another one is the geography in Marcus.

          “To go (as Jesus is said to in Mk. 7:31) from the territory of Tyre by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee “is like travelling from Cornwall to London via Manchester” (Anderson, 2, p 192). Again, Mark’s references to movements across the Sea of Galilee are impossible to trace sequentially. Mention of specific location near the sea are either unknown sites, such as Dalmanutha (8:10), or are patently inaccurate, as in the designation of the eastern shore of the lake as the country of the Gerasenes (5:1)” (Kee, loc cit). Gerasa is more than thirty miles southeast of the lake, too far away for the setting of the story which demands a city in its vicinity, with a precipitous slope down to the water.”

          http://www.answering-christianity.com/abdullah_smith/historical_errors_in_the_gospels-3.htm

          That means Jesus didn’t take that route and that means Marcus is historically inaccurate.

        • Agabu

          This response is hilarious. Its filled with claims without merit, arguments from silence, mere characterisations of fantasy and the credulity of someone without a hint of a healthy skepticism in his own claims. I mean, seriously, you actually believe this nonsense built on such flimsy evidence? In any case, the issue is the fact of the crucifixion of Christ.

        • MNb

          No, the issue is the fact of the crucifixion of Jesus, like I already told you.
          And some quite reliable historical method shows that one is historical, like I already have written a couple of times.
          It’s your salto mortale to a resurrection that I dispute.
          You don’t know yourself anymore what you’re arguing against. If you think my comment hilarious, which includes the conclusion that the crucifixion is hilarious then your comment is utterly ridiculous.

        • Agabu

          Well, that is settled then between us, the crucifixion is historical contrary to Bob trying to cast doubt on it in his article above.

        • MNb

          Unfortunately he can be quite ambiguous, but after I quite pressed him he wrote that he much less problems with the natural stuff in the NT (like the crucifixion) than the supernatural stuff (like the resurrection).
          What’s not settled is that you several times connected the crucifixion with the resurrection, claimed that the Gospels are 100% historically accurate and in general jumped to and fro from the natural reality to the supernatural without any justification.
          What you flat out refused to address is which method you use to separate fact from fiction in your favourite Holy Book, let alone to apply that method to other texts. So you’re still guilty of special pleading.

        • Agabu

          I’ll get to the fact of the Resurrection of Christ later as my initial response to Bob above illustrates. I was only dealing with the fact of the crucifixion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hello! Is there any Agabu there?

          You haven’t dealt with the crucifixion as a FACT. It isn’t even a half decent probability given all the texts.

          Regards you addressing the resurrection though… ????…any word of it?

          Have ya pissed off to Croydon and hit the big red reset button or are you actually going to get to the FACT of the resurrection and invoke mass conversions amongst the many non-believers on this site and by extension, further afield?

        • Ignorant Amos

          In any case, the issue is the fact of the crucifixion of Christ.

          Except it isn’t a fact at all. What if the gospel according to Mark is midrash?

          Jewish scholars of midrash have recognized that “midrashic” techniques, methods of interpretation of texts in the Hebrew Bible, have been creatively woven into Christian Gospel narrative and teaching material as much as Jews worked creatively with midrash in their own literature.

          http://vridar.org/2011/08/05/midrash-and-gospels-3-what-some-jewish-scholars-say-and-continuing-midrash-tales-of-the-messiah/

          Also consider John Shelby Spong, the Episcopal Bishop of Newark, New Jersey. His analysis of the Gospels as Jewish midrashic works began in his previous books: Born of a Woman, 1992, and Resurrection: Myth or Reality, 1994.

          A review of LIBERATING THE GOSPELS: Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes by John Shelby Spong can be read at… http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/spongrev.htm

        • MNb

          The NT isn’t a work of history and we actually know that the books contain a lot of fantasy because every book bar few exceptions from that period contains a lot of fantasy elements.
          Merely repeating your error without addressing my point only makes you look stupid. That impression is only increased by

          “We’re not in the 40th century”
          which demonstrates that you don’t understand how a thought experiment works.

          “So Alexander the Great’s biographies are full of what you call fantasy elements. So what? That tells you nothing about the nature of the Gospel accounts.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Those biographies are just an example of a general rule. It’s up to you to demonstrate that either that rule is wrong (impossible) or that the NT is an exception (impossible as well).

          “The Gospels have a very different agenda from Alexander’s biographies.”
          Irrelevant as I never made that claim. However the agenda of the Harry Potter series is quite similar to that of the NT.
          You still don’t understand how to argue for your position and unsurprisingly refuse to learn. That makes you look ridiculous.

        • Agabu

          Your thought experiment is a dud. The comparison with Alexander’s biographies is irrelevant. The supernatural elements there are of a different kind from what you find in the Gospels. So your general rule is also a dud. The Harry Potter series does not have the same agenda as the Gospels nor are they similar in any way to the Gospels. The Gospels are about establishing the fact that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. He is not a wizard. Last I checked J.K. Rowling isn’t claiming anywhere she wrote her series of Harry Potter books to convince the world that Harry is some kind of human/divine person who was sent to save the world through witchcraft and wizardry. Now whose really being ridiculous. Your argument demands are just plain silly.

        • MNb

          And …. yet another stupid lie.
          I don’t compare the Gospels with the Alexander biographies.
          Those biographies are an example of a general statement: every single document from Antiquity contains fantasy elements until shown otherwise.

          “The Harry Potter series does not have the same agenda as the Gospels.”
          I didn’t write that. I wrote that the agendas are similar, something Rowling herself has said in an interview. So you’re lying again and you’re stupid enough to think you understand the agenda of the Harry Potter series better than the author herself.

        • Agabu

          However you slice it, similar not the same, it’s still a dud. I don’t care about the Harry Potter series. If you love it, good for you. Grab a book and read through it again, and worship whatever witchcraft and wizardry deities the book tells you to.

        • Pofarmer

          the Sanhedrin had no authority to execute any man under Roman rule.

          Except that’s not correct. I’ve asked Richard Carrier about it directly when it was brought up in another forum, and he insists that the Sanhedrin could, and did, execute people for religious violations.

        • Agabu

          I’ll refine that a bit since you don’t seem to have gotten the point I was making. The Sanhedrin had no right to execute anyone outside of Roman law. Territories under Roman jurisdiction had to gain the consent of the ruling Roman authorities. So even if the Sanhedrin condemned someone to death on the basis of religious violations, it had to be within the perimeters of the Roman rule of law. Jewish tradition allowed only four types of capital punishment, none of which included crucifixion. Crucifixion was a uniquely Roman form of punishment imposed on enemies of the empire. The fact that Christ is crucified in the gospel accounts involving the Sanhedrin, the Judean king Herod and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate means Jesus wasn’t your regular run of the mill alleged criminal. How the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus are put together reads like history even though the circumstances are understandably unusual. The Sanhedrin conspired to have Him killed under Roman law as a political agitator. The Gospels make clear that the Sanhedrin condemned Him for blasphemy. For Pilate this was insufficient grounds for execution under Roman law. Jesus being crucified eased the pressure off the Sanhedrin from the masses that considered Jesus to be a prophet if not the Christ.

        • Joe

          Jesus wasn’t your regular run of the mill alleged criminal.

          I wonder who the other two criminals allegedly executed alongside him were then? They can’t have been ‘run of the mill’ either? What of the conveniently-named ‘Barabbas’? Seems like they crucified anyone in those days.

        • Agabu

          The Bible tells you who the two criminals were, thieves. Barabbas is named and a bit of his personal history is given as a rebel and insurrectionist. What’s convenient about that?. Yes they crucified many other convicted criminals in those days. But we’re not talking about them, we’re talking about Jesus Christ, who is unlike anyone else crucified as the accounts of His life show.

        • Joe

          Why? You said they wouldn’t crucify common criminals, yet there are three examples right there.

          It’s convenient that Barabbas translates as ‘Son of the father’. Another theatrical flourish.

        • Agabu

          I didn’t say that at all. I said Jesus wasn’t your run of the mill person. That’s why we have four semi-autobiographical accounts written about Him.

          So Barabbas has a meaning, so does Jesus’ name and many others in the accounts. It is characteristic of the times for people’s names to mean something. If his name is Barabbas, what’s the flourish? You change his name to anything else, he’d still be a terrorist, rebel and insurrectionist as well as the person the crowd asked to be released instead of Jesus.

        • Joe

          Those flourishes would be highly coincidental in real life. Two ‘sons of the Father’ awaiting crucifixion? Poetic license, most likely.

          The accounts aren’t autobiographical. They aren’t even biographical, as they tell us very little of the person. Only two have (very different) birth narratives.

          There was nothing really remarkable about Jesus. Davidic Messiah claimants, and itinerant rabbis were common at the time.

        • Agabu

          There are no two “sons of the Father” awaiting crucifixion. Christ wasn’t named Barabbas. Barabbas was named Barabbas. The name Jesus means “He saves.” Jesus was itinerant Rabbi and Barabbas was a rebel, terrorist and insurrectionist. The flourishes are only in your imagination.

          The Gospels are semi-autobiographical sketches of the life of Christ. The birth narratives corroborate each other. Joseph and Mary are in both accounts, and Jesus is born in Bethlehem in both accounts. In Matthew Joseph figures prominently while in Luke Mary figures more prominently. Differences are to be expected because the accounts have different emphases.

          Whatever other Messiah claimants they were, we don’t have Gospels written about them. But as for Jesus Christ we have four of them headlining the New Testament. Nothing really remarkable about Jesus? Are you kidding me? When you have time itself being separated into dispensations of BC and AD after you, that is one hell of a remarkable feat. How many people do you know with that sort of effect on the configuration of time in human history?

        • Joe

          “How many people do you know with that sort of effect on the configuration of time in human history?”

          I’m writing this on Wodan’s day, so that is kind of a self refuting question.

        • Agabu

          No it’s not. So some guy got a day named after him, or that ancient deity got that month named after him that’s nowhere near the feat of dividing history in half thereby defining the way we measure time between two eras. It is why this is 2016 AD we’re in. Once again, incredible.

        • Joe

          Well, you have Julius Caesar to thank for the calendar. Then again, he was divine, and performed miracles.

          All you have is an arbitrary date. No miracles, no magic. A calendar.

        • Agabu

          And yet for some reason the calendar isn’t named after him. What we have is a definite date around a wonder-working itinerant Jewish Rabbi who lived, died and rose again. This year isn’t randomly 2016. It is purposefully so developed around the birth of Jesus Christ.

        • Joe

          Or, who never existed. It is randomly 2016. The universe is 14.5 billion years old.

        • Agabu

          No its not. We’re in 2016. Jesus existed. No serious historian doubts that. The universe being 14.5 billion years doesn’t change the fact that Jesus was crucified.

        • Pofarmer

          No serious historian doubts that.

          Actually, they do.

          http://vridar.org/whos-who-among-mythicists-and-mythicist-agnostics/

        • Agabu

          Actually they don’t. Those that do are fringe scholars who often glory in deriding the majority of scholars because they’re not taken seriously by them.

        • Kodie

          You live in the deep end of the bullshit.

        • MNb

          Due to poor calculation skills of Dionisius Exiguus (for one thing he didn’t understand the number 0) the fact that Jesus existed has little to do with us living in 2016.

        • Dys

          And yet for some reason the calendar isn’t named after him.

          Except for quite a while, it was named after Caesar. From 45BC to 1582AD. Which means the Julian calendar was in use longer than the BC/AD convention has existed.

          You keep claiming to have things that you simply do not have. There is no definite date for when Jesus was born (if he actually existed) – the Gospels don’t provide it. Luke mentions a census that didn’t occur until 6AD, but Herod died in 4BC. What no one seriously contends is that Jesus was born on the 1BC/1AD border.

          What you actually have is an arbitrary date chosen by the church in 525AD based on religious tradition, not any history.

        • Pofarmer

          You beat me to it. The dating was set based on some celestial stuff that I don’t remember right now. That’s also the basis for some of the Church’s predictions of Jesus return.

        • Dys

          Next he’ll be insisting that Jesus was really born on December 25th…

          I don’t recall the actual method to determine the year either. A quick glance at wikipedia suggests it’s unknown.

        • Pofarmer

          Actually, the date was even set much later, to center around some celestial Phenomena. I think Aaron Adair talks about it.

        • MNb

          Eh? You think it incredible that some monk called Dionysius Exiguus developed a way to count years?
          That’s stupid even according to your standards.

        • Agabu

          The stupid obsession train is here again. Better run, lest it rub off on me.

        • Pofarmer

          The fact that Christ is crucified in the gospel accounts involving the
          Sanhedrin, the Judean king Herod and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate
          means Jesus wasn’t your regular run of the mill alleged criminal…………….Jesus being crucified eased the pressure off the Sanhedrin from the
          masses that considered Jesus to be a prophet if not the Christ.

          Except there’s no evidence of that guy. At all. Even Jesus Historicists realize that.

        • Agabu

          No evidence for which guy?

        • Joe

          The problem you allege is an assumption that pretends it knows that time and era better than the writers of the gospel accounts.

          You mean the writers we no absolutely nothing about? Not even a name.

        • Agabu

          Of course, we do. Matthew was a tax collector and one of the twelve apostles. Mark was a close associate to Simon Peter. Luke was a doctor, historian and travelling companion of Paul. John was a fisherman with a brother named James, a father named Zebedee and also one of the twelve apostles. What you think the Gospels wrote themselves or something?

        • Joe

          The names of the gospels were given by the church. The authors were anonymous. Nobody knows who wrote them. Or when exactly.

        • Agabu

          The Church didn’t name the Gospels, and they weren’t written anonymously. These are writings that were circulated widely in first century churches, and subsequent churches so designated the Gospels by the names we call them as the received wisdom from earlier first century churches that actually knew the people who wrote them.

        • Joe

          The earliest copies aren’t from the first century. The later gospels are dated to the second century.

          https://ehrmanblog.org/when-did-the-gospels-get-their-names/

          You come here and assert falsehood as fact, with only your circular reasoning and blinkered faith to support your claims.

        • Agabu

          That’s the thing, our earliest copies are acknowledged copies of other copies before them. It doesn’t mean the Gospels were written in the second century, let alone suggesting the events they record happening in that century too.

          Read Ehrman again. He says, “It is absolutely true to say that in the manuscripts of the Gospels, they have the titles we are accustomed to (The Gospel according to Matthew, etc.). But these manuscripts with titles do not start appearing until around 200 CE. What were manuscripts of, say, Matthew or John entitled in the year 120 CE? We have no way of knowing. But there are reasons to think that they were not called Matthew and John.” What does this mean? It is perfectly reasonable to say these names were assigned to the Gospels not as their titles but as acknowledgements that they were in fact written by these folks. Of course, there’s no reason to be dogmatic about it. The very fact that so early on the are assigned these names is why the anonymous allegation is a fraud.

        • Joe

          We know nothing of the authors, apart from a name. We have no original copies. Dealing with theists is frustrating. You find a crumb and declare it a feast.

        • Agabu

          There are no crumbs here. Just you grasping at straws. We have the names. Ehrman the agnostic acknowledges the name attribution. No one is claiming when Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote their works they named them after themselves. Later generations called them by those names through a reliable tradition that passed that info along with very little disputes involved. We today may have no way of knowing for sure what the Gospels were titled in 120 AD but second century Christians did. And on their testimony we rely and really have no good reason to doubt them since they’re much closer to that time than we are.

        • Pofarmer

          What were manuscripts of, say, Matthew or John entitled in the year 120 CE?

          pssst. Probably nothing, because no other Christian authors actually mentioned them before that time. There is a reference to a Mathew, but it’s in Hebrew, not in Greek, so it’s not the Mathew that we know. There are very good reasons that the Gospels were originally dated mid 2nd century. Only modern apologists have attempted to push that dating further forward.

        • Agabu

          Nonsense. The internal testimony of all the Gospels is a line of evidence that puts them all squarely in the first century.

        • Pofarmer

          It puts the stories they tell squarely in the first century.

        • Agabu

          What are you trying to prove by this assertion?

        • Pofarmer

          Gone with the Wind wasn’t written during the civil war.

        • MNb

          Fantasy backed up by more fantasy.
          You demand evidence for us but can’t provide any evidence for these claims, simply because there isn’t any.
          So instead you rely on an ad hominem based on a false dilemma that immediately becomes a lie:

          “What you think the Gospels wrote themselves or something?”
          He already wrote “the writers we know absolutely nothing about”. Marcus, Mattheus, Lucas and Johannes are nothing but random names.

        • Agabu

          Evidence: four independent Gospel accounts that corroborate each other.
          Your Evidence: wild speculations about how its not evidence because its contents are allegedly fantasy.

          You don’t seem to understand what an ad hominem argument really is. That question to Joe was a rhetorical one trying to show the silliness of his position. You seem to have missed that..

        • Dys

          You don’t have four independent Gospel accounts.

          Your argument is nothing more than “I want to believe everything in the Gospels is true”, and refusing to engage any critical thinking that would contradict that dogma.

        • Agabu

          So there’s only one Gospel account in the New Testament? What is the name of this super Gospel account?

        • Dys

          So there’s only one Gospel account in the New Testament? What is the name of this super Gospel account?

          As I said before, you apparently have issues with reading comprehension, because I neither said or implied any such thing. Having four gospels doesn’t automatically mean they’re independent, especially when there’s evidence that Mark was used as a source for Matthew and Luke. That makes them dependent.

          You seem to want to pretend that the gospels were written with no one author having any knowledge of what the others had written. But that’s not supported, and extremely naive.

          But we both know you’re going to ignore textual criticism, because it doesn’t jive with what you want to believe. You’re just going to keep asserting that they’re independent accounts despite evidence and scholarship to the contrary.

        • Agabu

          Having four Gospels with distinct writing styles does set them apart from each other thereby making them independent works. That Mark may have been used as a source, which is possible, doesn’t militate against independent authorship. It is a line of thinking that has been explored by Scholars but it is certainly not the only one.

        • Dys

          If I write a paper that uses another book as a reference point, my paper can easily be said to be dependent upon it. You’re using a nonsensical notion of what constitutes an independent work, presumably to create the false impression of how impressive it is that the gospels manage to generally agree. Edith Hamilton wrote about Greek mythology in her own unique style, but her work was still dependent upon the Iliad and the Odyssey (and other works).

          You don’t have three independent authors giving the same story…you have two authors getting a story from the third and writing it in their own style. At least in the most realistic scenario (which is why it’s the consensus view).

          There’s simply no reason to presume that the authors of the gospels lived in a vacuum.

        • Agabu

          Of course, they didn’t live in a vacuum. The Gospels are independent accounts. It should be obvious to any one that the original twelve apostles would have been primary sources about the teaching of Christ. Jesus during His ministry spent more time with them than any other group of people. The book of Acts makes it very clear that the first generation of Christians dedicated themselves to the apostle’s teaching, spending a great deal of time learning from them about Christ.

        • Dys

          They’re not independent accounts. You keep insisting otherwise, but you don’t know what you’re talking about and clearly don’t care to actually investigate the issue. You want to take them as literal history not because you have a good reason to, but because you’re dogmatically obligated to. Which means you’re simply not equipped to analyze the gospels critically.

          The bible says it, you believe it, that settles it. That’s all you have. It’s blind faith, but you’re trying to pretend it’s something else.

        • Agabu

          It’s just you projecting on me dude, because it helps your silly argument.

        • Pofarmer

          ya know, the funny thing is, that’s what most Christians do, mash the Gospel accounts together to attempt to create a coherent story. It’s not until you read them seperately, that you can see the differences and contradictions, and it’s not until you read the Epistles separately that you can see the vast differences there, as well.

        • Agabu

          Differences, yes. Contradictions, no.

        • Pofarmer

          OH, no. There are pretty clear contradictions. Your nay saying not withstanding. It’s not a problem for an honest reader.

        • Agabu

          All you got are just claims of contradictions, and not actual proof of contradictions.

        • Pofarmer
        • MNb

          They are not independent. You reject what your cobelievers from the 19th Century, much smarter and knowledgeable than you, have found.
          Silly guy.

          It’s a false dilemma because you deliberately refuse to consider the option “the writers we know absolutely nothing about”.
          It’s an ad hominem because it’s an argument (“trying to show” against Joe by attempting to show “the silliness of his position” directed against him personally (“are you thinking”).
          Yup – you’re clearly a stupid liar.

          “four independent Gospel accounts that corroborate each other”
          Exactly none of them claims that the authors are named Marcus, Lucas, Mattheus and Johannes.
          So this is utterly stupid.

    • MNb

      “documentary evidence of the historicity of the crucifixion of Christ through the use of eyewitness testimony and divine attestation.”
      You contradict yourself. Divine attestation never can be documentary evidence of anything.
      It was not Christ who was crucified but a guy called Jesus.

      • Agabu

        What is the contradiction here? Who decides that divine attestation can never be documentary evidence of anything? What’s your evidence that a guy named Jesus was crucified and not Christ?

        • MNb

          “What is the contradiction here?”
          Divine attestations come from gods. Gods are immaterial. Evidence is material. That includes documentary evidence because documents also are material.

          “Who decides that divine attestation can never be documentary evidence of anything?”
          You theists who have defined your god as an immaterial entity.

          “What’s your evidence that a guy named Jesus was crucified and not Christ?”
          Christ refers to an eventual divine and hence immaterial nature of that guy. Crucifixions are material. Btw that’s not evidence, that simply refers to the Law of Non-Contradiction. Something cannot be both material and not material at the same time. Still that’s what you claim. There is an escape route for you though.
          Demonstrate how it’s possible to jump to and fro from our material reality to an eventual immaterial reality – which procedures are followed, which means are used. Until then you contradict yourself by using arguments that presuppose materialism (like documentary evidence for a certain crucifixion) to back up immaterial claims (the divine character of your Great Hero Jesus).

          “Deriving a divine world from our concrete world requires a salto mortale.”
          Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, theologian and apostate, end 19th Century.

        • Joe

          Who decides that divine attestation can never be documentary evidence of anything?

          Who decided it could ever be documentary evidence of anything? Apart from those with a vested interest in proving the existence of the deity in question, of course.

        • Agabu

          The fact that it actually happened in the way recorded in the Gospel accounts. When something happens no matter how unlikely or improbable and you’ve seen it happen, it’s happened. You writing about it is documenting it. The Gospels document what people saw and heard about Jesus Christ. Therefore, they are documentary evidence meeting for us today forensic as well as historical criteria. They do have an agenda indeed: to prove or establish the fact that Jesus is the Christ the Son God.

        • Joe

          So, the Quran is documentary evidence for Mohammed?

          You believe everything people claim to have witnessed, anywhere, actually happened?

        • Agabu

          I’m not a Muslim, so I can’t speak to the issue of the Quran. In any case, the Quran isn’t the issue here, the fact of the crucifixion of Christ is.

          I believe anything people claim to have seen and heard if there’s good reason to. The Gospels give very good reasons to take them seriously.

        • Joe

          What reasons?

        • Agabu

          Briefly, the way Jesus was conceived and the circumstances under which He was born. His itinerant teaching ministry filled with awe inspiring signs and miracles. His crucifixion and amazing resurrection from the dead. Nothing in all human history comes close to this Jewish Rabbi in a largely unremarkable corner of the world that actually changed the course of history while still challenging every generation to believe in Him or not.

        • Joe

          All of which is completely unconfirmed. Take away the supernatural claims, which we have no way of confirming, and you have just another failed messianic claimant.

          The claims are remarkable, which means they require a greater deal of evidence. The person really isn’t.

        • Agabu

          Don’t make me laugh. Four independent Gospel accounts confirm it all for you and me. Take it or leave it. That’s just the way it is. You may wish to take away the supernatural elements in the accounts, but there they are still. The Gospels include them without apology. Christians have never once tried to remove them from the Bible in order to make the Bible more palatable to succeeding generations. They remain as is for anyone to accept or reject. Christ and His deeds come as one package, if your Jesus performs no miracles, that’s your unremarkable Jesus and not the Jesus of the Gospels. How remarkable the supernatural elements of the Gospels are doesn’t at all mean that they require any greater deal of evidence. This is a smokescreen. All that is needed is just good solid evidence, which we have in the four independent accounts utilizing credible eyewitness testimony at a time and in a place that lends itself to historical research and analysis.

        • Joe

          How can you corroborate supernatural events using anonymous eyewitnesses written decades after the original events, by people with a vested interest in having you believe?

        • Agabu

          By carefully reading and evaluating the accounts on their terms or on their own merits without any unwarranted anachronisms, assumptions or misgivings as baggage imposed on them from the outside.

        • Joe

          You mean, ‘by complete credulism’. You don’t read any other mythology with the same bias.

        • Agabu

          Stop putting words in my mouth. I judge any work of literature on its own merits often trying to get understand what the author means. You’re the one who seems to have a tendency to accept as true with no evidence whatsoever that the Gospels are mythology. It don’t get more credulous than that methinks.

        • MNb

          “I judge any work of literature on its own merits”
          As long as you refuse to admit that the Gospels contain a lot of fantasy elements you don’t.

        • Agabu

          I’m not here to admit to what you want me to. The fantasy elements claims about the Gospels are yours. So you’re the one who has to provide evidence to that effect. Not me. If you don’t have any admit it.

        • MNb

          Addressed elsewhere on this page. For Antiquity the default is that documents contain fantasy. It’s up to you to demonstrate that the Gospels are an exception. Your refusal to do so shows that you’re guilty of special pleading, which was confirmed when you refused to apply your own arguments to the Quran.
          Also thanks for not answering my comment just underneath.

          Special pleading, an ad hominem (towards Joe) and contradicting yourself – you have nicely undermined your own position.

        • Agabu

          The Gospels speak for themselves without apology giving an accurate account of the life of Christ in all its natural and supernatural glory. This so-called default that you allege we must assume they contain fantasy is a modern anachronism. It is useless in determining the intent of the authors of the Gospels largely.

          As for you response below, its filled with wild speculations, anachronistic assumptions, non-sequiturs, arguments from silence and question begging. You really do have a fertile imagination. If only you used it wisely.

        • Pofarmer

          D.C. Comics speak for themselves, giving an accurate account of the life of Superaman, in all it’s natural and supernatural glory.

        • Agabu

          Is that what DC comics claims about Superman?

        • Joe

          Yes, by lots of independent authors.

        • Agabu

          All of them actually claiming that he’s actually real? Got a temple where people gather to worship superman?

        • Joe

          Who knows? Maybe in a hundred years or so?

          People believing in things is not evidence for those things being true.

        • Agabu

          80 years of superman and no adoring followers with special rites and rituals and a temple where the gathered worship him. Is an expedition planned to explore the remains of the planet krypton?

        • Dys

          The number of people that believe something has no bearing on whether that thing is actually true. You’re committing an ad populum fallacy.

          You’re also missing the point, but that’s your clearly your modus operandi.

        • Joe

          80 years of superman and no adoring followers with special rites and rituals and a temple where the gathered worship him.

          Give it time. The Christian church wasn’t really established until the second or third century.

          Is an expedition planned to explore the remains of the planet krypton?

          Yes, after the expedition to Heaven. Which is when, exactly?

          If the DC writers swore the story of Superman was real, and built temples in his honour that were visited by millions each day to worship, would that then make him real in your eyes?

        • Agabu

          It’s too late for that. 80 years have already passed and still no Kryptonian temple. We don’t even have the fortress of solitude.

        • Joe

          How long after the alleged death of Christ before the first church was built?

        • Agabu

          Within a year of His resurrection.

        • Joe

          Bullshit.

        • Michael Neville

          Let’s see some evidence for this quite unbelievable claim. Or admit that you pulled that straight out of your rectum.

        • Dys

          The Gospels speak for themselves without apology giving an accurate
          account of the life of Christ in all its natural and supernatural glory

          You don’t know that, you just believe it. Your attempts at constructing an argument to this point are no more substantive than “the bible says it, I believe it, that settles it”. But that’s not a rational or scholarly argument…it’s just a dogmatic faith-based assertion.

        • MNb

          “The Gospels speak for themselves.”
          Thanks for confirming that your position is based on circularity.

          “This so-called default that you allege we must assume they contain fantasy is a modern anachronism.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          It’s not what I allege. It’s what scholars – and not only historians, also Biblical Scholars and theologians – say. Many of them, if not the majority, are practicing christians.
          Thanks for sawing the last leg under your own chair.

          Just because I’m curious and you are entertaining: I wrote underneath for instance

          [You theists who have defined your god as an immaterial entity.]

          In which category does this belong? Is it

          A) a wild speculation
          B) an anachronistic assumption
          C) a non-sequitur
          D) an argument from silence
          E) an example of question begging
          or F) have you produced just another stupid lie?

          I predict that you will remain silent and then we’ll conclude F is the correct answer.

        • Pofarmer

          Here, go chew on these guys.

          http://vridar.org/2016/11/15/the-christos-mosaic-a-novel-about-the-christ-myth-hypothesis/

          But after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and the reestablishment of Roman hegemony, Mark sees the futility of a military messiah and cobbles together a spiritual redeemer . . . from pieces of other religious leaders, pagan magicians, messianic figures, and Paul’s letters. Why else does Christ talk sometimes like a Cynic, sometimes like John the Baptist, sometimes like a Zealot, sometimes like James the Just?

          Mark’s gospel was not a deliberate deception. It was part of a tradition. It was midrash — religious fiction. Allegory. Entirely acceptable at the time. Wasn’t Serapis a composite god? Weren’t the rites of Mithras grafted onto the Saturnalia? Even the Qumran community did the same thing in its own way: past scriptures were interpreted as though they applied to the first century AD. . . .

        • Agabu

          This is very colourful, but it is pure speculation with no evidence whatsoever. It doesn’t read Mark on his terms preferring to impose an outside methodology foreign to the text. What else is new? When you got nothing substantive too say, grab at anything you can project on Mark to make him say whatever you want him to say so as to prove your point. This just plain nonsense.

        • Pofarmer

          preferring to impose an outside methodology foreign to the text.

          That’s typically how you tell whether or not something is true.

        • Agabu

          No, that’s how one makes it say whatever crap one wants it to say to suit one’s fancies. Useless.

        • Pofarmer

          The way that you test the truth of a theory, or a text, is to compare it with things outside of itself to see if it jives with other works, or, ya know, reality. The Bible fails this test. The NT fails this test. I’m sorry, that’s just the way it is.

        • Joe

          This is very colourful, but it is pure speculation with no evidence whatsoever.

          It should be music to your ears then?

        • Agabu

          You’d think so but no. The truth of the Bible is better music to my ears. The rhyme and rythm is awesome.

        • Joe

          Well, they had plenty of poetic license to make things up, so I’m not surprised.

        • MNb

          They are not independent. Fun to read that you reject consensus of Biblical Scholarship established since the end of the 19th Century.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcan_priority

          Yup. This dependency was established by christian scholars.

        • Agabu

          They are independent. The hypothesis of Markan priority for instance is a point of debate and discussion for the documentary relationship among the synoptic Gospels especially. It’s not a rejection of their being written independently from each other.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Agabu has backtracked on his ignorant “the gospels are independent” trope. Today he claims what he really meant was that they still possess a degree of independence and this has been his point all along. Pure lies as anyone with basic literacy skills can see.

          Besides the sources you cite say “It is quite impossible to hold that the three synoptic gospels were completely independent from each other.” The point being they still possess a degree of independence, which has been my point all along. In that regard, they are independent accounts still.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/responding_to_the_minimal_facts_argument_for_the_resurrection/#comment-3006919321

          What a useless tool.

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’t it funny that nobody else noticed all these awe inspiring signs and miracles? The Jewish leadership right around him? You would think that all the Jews would have converted on the spot? But, no, Christianity actually grew faster among the Gentiles-which outta be a clue.

        • Agabu

          They did notice them. In fact the Gospels have them acknowledging the miracles of Jesus while maintaining unbelief in Christ. They just didn’t want to believe. Even actual tangible miracles didn’t produce automatic belief. Today, atheists like Matt Dillahunty and Dan Barker have gone on record to say that even if they ever found out that the God of the Bible actually existed, they still wouldn’t worship Him because they just think Him not worthy of their worship. Something tells me many avowed atheists may be thinking this way. Those that think different, thank God for them.

        • Joe

          Today, atheists like Matt Dillahunty and Dan Barker have gone on record to say that even if they ever found out that the God of the Bible actually existed, they still wouldn’t worship Him because they just think Him not worthy of their worship

          You either don’t know the difference between belief and worship, or you’re lying again.

        • Agabu

          Right! Because people worship what they don’t believe in. Get real Joe. Stop splitting hairs for no good reason.

        • Joe

          People don’t worship everything they do believe in. Do you believe McDonald’s exists? If so, do you worship it?

        • Agabu

          Don’t tempt me. Time to go get served with a big mac and mcnuggets by the priests and priestesses at the altar where money must be offered as a sacrifice with Ronald Mcdonald smiling down on us with divine glee.

        • Kodie

          Stop splitting hairs? That’s your answer? Why don’t you just admit you can’t read for comprehension. It’s not a secret.

        • MNb

          Thanks for admitting that your attitude towards your favourite Holy Book is just special pleading. Or the Quran would be an issue for you.

        • Agabu

          Like you’re special pleading for your credulous belief in the Gospels being fantasy? No thanks. If you want to know anything about the Quran, find yourself a Muslim and ask them. I don’t have to defend something I don’t believe in, which I have taken the time to look into and found wanting.

        • MNb

          Again you’re stupid, lying or both.
          I don’t have a credulous belief in the Gospels being fantasy. It’s a simple default position that with precious few exceptions every single text from Antiquity contains fantasy. That’s the task of the historian: to separate fact from fiction.
          For instance I think the crucifixion is historical. You are the one who makes me laugh writing that this thought of mine is special pleading for a credulous belief in the Gospels being fantasy, because it’s the very same thought you have as well.
          What I dispute is the salto mortale from crucifixion to resurrection.

          “I don’t have to defend something I don’t believe in.”
          Thanks for confirming that your defense of the Gospels is nothing but special pleading. My conclusion is that you’re a stupid liar indeed.

        • Agabu

          Now who is lying? You’re just making up excuses in order to pick and choose fact from fiction as you see it in the Gospels. The crucifixion is historical but the resurrection isn’t. This is playing fast and loose with the facts instead of treating the contents consistently. This is the sort of thing liars do. Indeed, you’re special pleading for one part being historical while another being fantasy or fiction within the same work. This is applying one rule to one feature in the same account and another rule to another feature in it, and then pretending it is a simple default position that historians allegedly ascribe to. It is really just a tool for you to twist the text to say what you want it to say so that you can conveniently dismiss it, and then pat yourself on the back for being so objective and reasonable.

          Now I want you to defend the Quran as the word of God. Oh wait! You won’t want to. Why? Because you don’t believe in it. These pretensions about special pleading are just diversions and bait and switch tactics. I aint gonna fall for it. I’m not that stupid, considering you reek of stupid.

        • Dys

          The City of Troy actually existed, therefore everything that happened in the Illiad is historically accurate, right? The Battle of Badon Hill affirms the entirety of Arthurian legend, and since Joseph Smith was a real person, Mormonism must be true.

          Because that’s precisely how inane and silly your argument is.

          This is playing fast and loose with the facts instead of treating the contents consistently.

          No, it’s dealing with the facts individually, on a case by case basis, instead of foolishly insisting that all claims must be accepted or denied together. Your all-or-nothing approach is ludicrous.

          You don’t have the first clue as to how to evaluate the bible in a historical context. You just think everyone should blindly accept the whole thing as accurate. Claims are evaluated based on a variety of factors, including how probable or extraordinary it is.

          People were crucified rather often back then. So claiming that someone was crucified is a mundane claim, not requiring a mountain of evidence. On the other hand, claiming that someone who was crucified then came back to life is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence. And there isn’t any…it’s just a claim in a book.

          Insisting that “both claims are in the same book, therefore you have to accept both of them” is illogical and irrational.

          The fact is that there are plenty of books containing historically accurate and inaccurate information. But you’re engaging in special pleading to exempt the bible for purely religious reasons.

        • Agabu

          Cutting and pasting a work that is a unit in the story its telling is irresponsible. This hack and slash and playing fast and loose with the Gospels’ contents is why you fail to understand and accept their message.

        • Kodie

          You really have no grasp of the difference between reality and fantasy. It is not unbelievable that a guy would pretend he’s the messiah enough to get punished for it, or that people would even make up some fanfic about a composite character. You would rather resist making sense about it. It’s for your own personal preferences that this has to be true, and you’ll defend the most ridiculous and unbelievable things for the weakest of reasons, and cling to it for dear life. I don’t know what you think you’re doing here. You just sound like a gullible fool, trying to get validation for believing something you know sounds pretty shaky in the real world. What’s it to you that we don’t find that story convincing?

        • Agabu

          Jesus pretended to be the Messiah? Wow, cosmic! That seriously never occurred to me. How did you arrive at that conclusion from a reading of the Gospels so that I have some proof of this in order to be done with all this Christianity? Please do tell.

        • Kodie

          Your standards for evidence are too low and very specific toward your preferred religion? That’s how.

        • Agabu

          Kodie, that’s no help at all. I didn’t get that proof from the Gospels I asked for. You huff and puff a lot and all I get is hot air.

        • MNb

          Circular logic that at beforehand excludes the possibility that (part of) the story is fantasy.

          “Therefore, they are documentary evidence meeting for us today forensic as well as historical criteria.”
          This is simply not true. Historians reject your circularity and special pleading.

        • Agabu

          Don’t make me laugh. There’s no circular logic here except in your imagination.

          There’s no special pleading either. There was no comparison to a similar work whereby I pleaded for different rules for the Gospels. What reputable historian rejects the historicity of the Gospels and has been peer reviewed to the point of general agreement of his views?

        • Dys

          There is no overall consensus concerning the historical reliability of the gospels, which also means that your unquestioning assumption that they are completely historically reliable is not the scholarly consensus. Not even close.

          You’re definitely engaging in faith-based special pleading.

        • Agabu

          There’s no special pleading or unquestioning assumption, just you hand waving the facts away because it’s inconvenient for your unbelief with zero evidence. The Gospels are evidently historical. They talk about certain people, at particular times and in given places. That’s history. This is why they’re so accessible for research and analysis, and entire fields have been developed to make sense of them.

        • Dys

          There’s no special pleading or unquestioning assumption, just you hand waving the facts away because it’s inconvenient for your unbelief with zero evidence

          You’ve done nothing but engage in special pleading so far. And you can’t even read properly. If you read what I actually stated, I pointed out that there is no consensus on the overall historical reliability of the Gospels. Which disqualifies your extremely uninformed and naive view as being any kind of reasonable default position. “I read it in a book I like” is not evidence, but that’s all you’ve got.

          I didn’t ignore facts at all – parts of the gospels are historically reliable. Others, not so much. This is not an all-or-nothing situation. A book can be partially true and partially false. But you’re making a special pleading case for the bible based on religious dogma, not reality.

          Given that you haven’t presented any actual evidence, it appears all you’re really doing is trying to pretend that your dogmatic assumption of the inerrancy of the bible has some basis in scholarship. But it isn’t supported by the evidence.

          You’d be better off just saying “This is what I believe, but I can’t demonstrate that any of it is true”. Because that’s the only thing you’ve managed to demonstrate so far.

        • Agabu

          “O Dys, the Bible is as good if not better than the Quran, the book of Mormon, Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas. Read it and you’ll see.I believe it you see. I can’t prove that any of it is true. I just take it on faith you see. You should too.” Now this would be special pleading. Your allegation to my points is useless hand waving.

          I’ll say it again, the evidence for the fact of the crucifixion (as well as the resurrection) is four independent accounts all testifying to its actual occurrence in history.

        • Dys

          You’re most definitely taking the bible on faith. You don’t have four independent accounts, and you don’t know the first thing about determining historicity.

        • MNb

          Joe: “Who decided it could ever be documentary evidence of anything?”

          Agabu: “The fact that it actually happened in the way recorded in the Gospel accounts” decides that it is documentary evidence that it actually happened in the was recorden in the Gospel accounts.
          It’s the simplest form of circularity.

          “There was no comparison to a similar work whereby I pleaded for different rules for the Gospels.”
          You’re stupid, lying or both.
          The comparison is right here on this page, only a few comments downward. With the Quran.

        • Agabu

          Your arguments would work if the Gospels colluded to tell us about Christ. But they are independent accounts that establish the fact that these things really took place. Once again, the claim of circular reasoning is only in your fertile but definitely not colourful imagination.

          The Quran is a work written six hundred years after the entire New Testament with a very different cultural and historical setting. Sorry but there’s no getting around that. Trying to compare the two is what’s idiotic, and ironically what is actually special pleading. It’s much more sane to make comparisons between Matthew and Mark or even alternative works with similar traits for instance because they have the same cultural and historical setting.

        • Dys

          The gospels are not independent accounts. Actual bible scholars and textual critics have evaluated the gospels, and the consensus is that the gospels are not independent, but used other writings as sources. Luke and Matthew both believed to have used Mark as a source.

          You don’t know what you’re talking about. You do not have independent accounts. You have dependent accounts.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You writing about it is documenting it.

          You should be a Mormon by that logic.

          The Gospels document what people saw and heard about Jesus Christ.

          Oh fer fecks sake…how can you be so asinine with just the one head?

          Therefore, they are documentary evidence meeting for us today forensic as well as historical criteria.

          Yeah, because in the history of human literature no one has ever made shit up. Or cribbed off other peoples made up shit. Especially those humans making religious shit up.

          You’re a funny dude.

        • Agabu

          Yeah, people have made stuff up, and they’ve been found out. The Gospels on the other hand stand the test of time. Attempts at trying to add stuff in there or expunge some have been exposed and done away with. The material remains as is, with scholars always working to keep it that way so that Ignorant Amos has essentially the same Bible as that dude and dudette in the second, third, fourth centuries etc..

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, people have made stuff up, and they’ve been found out. The Gospels on the other hand stand the test of time.

          Psssst.

          The Gospels have been found out, too.

          You might try something like “Gospel Fictions” by Randal Helms. Or you might try searching around Vridar.org.

        • Agabu

          No they haven’t. “Gospel Fictions” is hilariously fiction itself with enough of a thin veneer of truth to make it palatable to unsuspecting people. The skin of the truth stuffed with a great big lie. Selling and sensationalism is all the rage. Somebody’s gotta make a buck or two, ya know.

        • Kodie

          You know who rakes in a ton of tax-free money by attracting insecure gullible dummies like you? The church. You know who rakes in a ton of tax-free money by not only attracting insecure gullible dummies like you, but gets you to go out and sell their business without paying you? The church. You know who rakes in a ton of tax-free money without ever having to give you anything? That church!!

        • Agabu

          My God, you really hate the Church. Churches must not have money. They must give it all away whenever they have it. Churches must operate on kindness, and pay full time workers with goodwill. Churches must give everything they have for free, and only bask in just thanks. They should pay taxes though, and somehow pay for the upkeep of all their properties. Jeez, you whine like a spoiled little girl.

        • Kodie

          I don’t hate the church, I just recognize it as a business designed to fool people into giving money to do nothing for any of you but make you think you have to be there, and make you think I have to be there. If you’re so secure in your beliefs, why do you have to keep talking about them to people who don’t give a shit what fantasy you cling to?

          If god exists, why send you to teach us? It’s obviously how little you know about anything, you can’t even keep up and follow the conversation. You keep making excuses not to face reality, but why should you concern us with it? I’d like it to be none of my business how stupid you choose to be.

        • MNb

          Isn’t that what Jesus taught, silly? You object that someone points out that churches don’t do what your Big Hero taught?

        • MNb

          The Iliad you have is essentially the same Iliad as that due in the Fifth Century BCE. So what?
          Oh wait.
          It’s the Bible you discuss, not any other book.
          Special pleading all the way.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah, people have made stuff up, and they’ve been found out.

          Like Luke’s census by Quirinius for example?

          http://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/quirinius.html

          The Gospels on the other hand stand the test of time.

          No, they don’t. That is the problem. One you are ignoring.

          Attempts at trying to add stuff in there have been exposed and done away with.

          Your naivety is nothing but astounding.

          The material remains as is, with scholars always working to keep it that way so that Ignorant Amos has essentially the same Bible as that dude and dudette in the second, third, fourth centuries etc..

          There was no Bible in the second, third and fourth centuries ya clown. The scriptures being used by Christians during that period were all over the place. And there has never been one Bible, ever.

          Is this the level of your knowledge?

          Even holy rollers admit the problem you seem to can’t….

          Because what we have are copies of so many manuscripts, there is no single location where “the original Bible” is housed. The Bible text most often used by scholars and translators is a composite made from the oldest and most reliable of the ancient manuscripts. These old manuscripts are housed in several museums and other places all over the world.

          The gospels have stood the test of time? Not all of them. Have you not heard of the apocrypha? Your book is a compilation constructed by a committee.

          The Apocrypha are documents that were not accepted into the canon of the New Testament by the orthodox church. The New Testament Apocrypha are those writings that were written by ancient Christians that were not accepted into the New Testament, while the Old Testament Apocrypha consist of Jewish documents that were not accepted into the Old Testament. Here are the New Testament Apocrypha that are presented on the Early Christian Writings web site.

          http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/apocrypha.html

        • Michael Neville

          The fact that it actually happened in the way recorded in the Gospel accounts.

          What’s your evidence for this? Also how do you account for the various discrepancies between the gospels?

          When something happens no matter how unlikely or improbable and you’ve seen it happen, it’s happened.

          If you believe this I have some ocean-front property in Wyoming you might want to invest in. Richard Feynman had something to say about this: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

        • Agabu

          The fact that four independent Gospel accounts offer corroborating evidence thereby certifying that it did actually happen. As for the alleged discrepancies, they are accounted for by assessing the internal style and emphases of the accounts which reveal them to be evidence of, wait for it, corroboration.

          So how did thousands of people fool themselves into thinking Jesus Christ in all His natural and supernatural glory was real?

        • Pofarmer

          Who are these thousands of people you are referring to?

        • Dys

          That silly Agabu has confused having a story involving lots of witnesses with actually having witnesses.

        • Pofarmer

          Agabu is confused a lot.

        • Dys

          Trying to assert biblical inerrancy while insisting that’s not what you’re doing will have that affect. Cognitive dissonance is not his friend.

        • Agabu

          The thousands that Acts 2 refers to.

        • Dys

          Pointing out to you that having a story of thousands of witnesses isn’t the same thing as there actually having been thousands of witnesses is probably an exercise in futility, isn’t it?

        • Agabu

          I already know that for you, it can’t be true if its just in the book especially if no one else confirms it. I just can’t believe it because it just in the Bible and no where else, says you,

        • Dys

          That’s not what I said, actually. But I think it’s obvious to pretty much anyone that you don’t have any real criteria for whether something in the bible happened or not. You’re accepting that something happened because it’s in the bible.

          You’re allowing your religious faith to override any and all warranted skepticism of the events described in the bible.

        • Michael Neville

          As you’ve been told many times, the gospels are not independent. As to “corroborating evidence”, there isn’t any. Nice job of handing-waving the discrepancies away. Next time bring some evidence because your hand-waving is just hand-waving.

          So how did thousands of people fool themselves into thinking Jesus Christ in all His natural and supernatural glory was real?

          For exactly the same reasons why billions of Muslims and billions of Hindus fool themselves into thinking their gods are real. Once you’ve shown why they shouldn’t believe in their gods then you might be able to show why anyone should think your god is any more real than Allah or Vishnu.

        • Agabu

          Michael, I know you’re high up on your intellectual prowess. But dude, you’re not using it well here. All this crap about alleged discrepancies in the Gospels, there not being independent accounts when they clearly are, and using Muslims and Hindus as scapegoats to evade facing up to the Gospels on their terms. Huh! You are full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Thank you Shakespeare for that one.

        • Dys

          there not being independent accounts when they clearly are

          Translation: Agabu dismisses scholarship he doesn’t like out of hand.

          and using Muslims and Hindus as scapegoats to evade facing up to the Gospels on their terms

          Nothing makes your special pleading more obvious than when you go running away from all the other religions you don’t believe in. Also, you don’t know what the word ‘scapegoat’ means, because that’s not what’s being done.

        • Michael Neville

          Thank you for the ad hominem. Now do you want to try to rebut my claims or are you lacking in intellectual prowess to even attempt it?

        • Kodie

          I don’t think you know what corroborating means. You know how the police separate witnesses during questioning so they can determine if their accounts are similar enough before they’ve had a chance to get their stories straight? They did not have independent accounts, as you’ve been told, and spontaneously then came forth only to find out several others had the same experience. They don’t “corroborate” the story, they copied off the same story.

          How did thousands of people fool themselves? How did you fool yourself? Power of suggestion. You believe weak arguments, and this goes along with some suspicion that humans are too intelligent to make those sorts of mistakes. You can’t explain and you avoid trying to explain why Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists feel as strongly as you do that their stories are upheld by some kind of convincing story. Why do billions of Hindus disagree with you? It’s not because they’re not as smart as you are.

        • Agabu

          Here you go bring up Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. I thought you said you weren’t going to. O well, it was only a matter of time. This is the sort of nonsense one has to deal with.

        • Kodie

          Here you go staying fucking too stupid to keep up.

        • Pofarmer

          Divine attestation (or revelation) may be evidence for you. But it can never be evidence for me because I’m not privy to it. I only have your say so. Thomas Paine lays it out very well in “The Age of Reason.

        • Agabu

          Which is why you can’t claim to be objective. Divine attestation isn’t my say so or just evidence for me. It characterizes or pervades the content of the New Testament literature by what it’s able to do and has brought to bear in the lives of many; in teaching the truth, bringing a realisation of what’s really wrong in one’s life, correcting wrong thinking and behaviour, and in training one to do what is right. It prepares and equips people to do every good work for the common good. Putting it into practice is as accessible to you as it is to anyone willing to hear it out and doing what it says.

        • Pofarmer

          You do realize that people say the exact same thing about every other religion, righ?

        • Agabu

          No I don’t. But we’re not talking about those other religions. We’re talking about biblical teaching. Others can speak for own religious teachings.

        • MNb

          “But we’re not talking about those other religions.”
          Ie you want to stick to your special pleading.
          It’s a common way to test your method. You refuse to do so.

        • Agabu

          I’m sticking to what I believe and the issue at hand. I don’t care about religious teachings I don’t subscribe to. Your bait and switch tactics can be seen a mile away.

        • Kodie

          We know you’re sticking to what you believe, no matter how little sense it makes and the reasons not to believe it. None of us care about religious teachings we don’t subscribe to, and wonder why you think we should.

        • Agabu

          Then stop bringing them up. That’ll show that you don’t care. Your choir mates seem obsessed with them. If you don’t care about what I have to say, what are you doing commenting here? Grab a book or a bite or whatever rocks your boat and skip along to your “no God” delusions.

        • Kodie

          I care that gullible people keep trying to run things, and keep telling us what you think (of us and everything else) even when we weren’t talking about this shit. You are entitled to shut the fuck up first.

          But you won’t.

        • Agabu

          You got that right. No I won’t. Why? Because Bob decided to talk about this shit. So here we are.

          Gullible people running things? What, are you mad that Donald Trump won the election or something? There, there, he’ll make America great again, and provide you an enclave where you’ll get to run wild and free and revel in your “no God” delusions to your hearts content.

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

          What are your religious beliefs? I predict that Trump will be no friend of the evangelical. If that describes you, you’ll have to get back to us in a couple of years and tell us how Trump is working out for you.

        • Dys

          Agabu’s just trolling with biblical assertions now. He’s using paragraph upon paragraph to expound on the idiotic notion that the bible is true because it says so.

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

          Thanks for the feedback. I’ve been ignoring most comments for the past week or so (life is busy). If someone grossly crosses the line from useless to annoyingly so, that person may have to be put down for the good of all.

        • MNb

          America already is great according to the great Trump just because the great Trump is president.
          No slogan ever has been as meaningless as this one; you exactly demonstrate your gullibility by taking it serious.

          “provide you an enclave where you’ll get to run wild and free and revel in your “no God” delusions to your hearts content.”
          As an outsider I was under the impression that American atheists already had several such enclaves – like Seattle. So they don’t exactly need the Great Trump for it.

        • Myna

          If you don’t care about religious teachings you don’t subscribe to, how do you know the one you do subscribe to has any validity at all? I imagine this is why seminaries teach courses in comparative religion.

        • Agabu

          But here aint seminary.

        • Myna

          No, it isn’t, yet you enter into a discussion as though you are an authority against those here who have quite obviously done their share of study. Your lack of intellectual curiosity to explore information, Agabu, is astonishing…and after a time simply becomes tedious.

        • Agabu

          Hmmm…done their share of study. That one is quite hard to fathom especially with the level of ignorance if not pure falsehoods, fantasies and fabrications about Christianity available here.

        • MNb

          Ie you want to stick to your special pleading. Just like I wrote. No bait and switch within a radius of 10 miles.
          Plus you’ve added arguing for a predetermined conclusion with your “I’m sticking to what I believe”. Nothing can change your mind, no matter how bad your logical fallacies.
          Thanks for admitting.

        • Dys

          But it only really counts when Agabu does it. Because…reasons?

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve been told exactly the same thing about the Quran and the Buddhist Tripitaka. Why are you right and the Muslims and Buddhists wrong?

        • Agabu

          Really? In the exact same fashion? Jeez, how the heck do Muslims, Buddhists and Christians think so alike, when they make so many different claims about reality and the nature of their sacred texts? Dude, I’m having a hard time believing you on that one.

        • Pofarmer

          how the heck do Muslims, Buddhists and Christians think so alike, when
          they make so many different claims about reality and the nature of their
          sacred texts?

          Careful, you might just stumble down an alley where you learn something.

        • Agabu

          I did stumble down an alley and actually learnt something! And you know what I found there and learnt? That religions make so many wildly different and contradictory claims that similarities are merely superficial.

        • Michael Neville

          Yes, in exactly the same fashion, i.e, with hand-waving, tap-dancing, and pulling bullshit out of their asses, just like you’re doing here. The words may be different but the tune is identical.

        • Agabu

          And you get to be the judge, jury and executioner who gets to let us all know that we’re all full of crap, right? It must be something sitting on that high horse where you get to be king god determining truth for everyone else, eh?

          “Mirror, mirror on my wall, whose the smartest of them all?” Asks Michael. “You Michael. You” Says that magic mirror in your digs. “Damn straight!” Says Michael. Good grief, the hobgoblin of selfishness has really got you bad.

        • Michael Neville

          I see that ad hominem is your favorite fallacy. Now that you’ve sneered at me, are you even going to attempt to rebut my arguments or is that too hard for you?

        • Agabu

          There’s no ad hominem fallacy, there’s just Micheal tellin everyone else how full of crap they are, because he’s got all the answers. Telling me my tune is the same as some Muslim person you talked to that I don’t know isn’t an argument, It’s a useless anecdote. Your argument goes like, “You sound like this guy from some other religious group I know who gives me the same crappy reason, therefore you’re wrong.” Is this good enough of a rebut of your silly argument O high and mighty Micheal?

        • Michael Neville

          I’m supposed to take you seriously when you can’t even spell my name correctly?

          But thank you for proving that you don’t have rebuttals, you just have ad hominems. I don’t claim to have all the answers and the only person I’m saying is full of shit is you, Agabu. You don’t understand my argument that the bullshit you’re trying to sell is exactly the same as the bullshit other brands of goddists have to offer. What I told you to do was to show why we should accept your bullshit rather than Muslim or Hindu bullshit. You’ve failed to do so, I suspect because you know that you can’t. So instead you insult me and pretend it’s a refutation of what I wrote.

        • Agabu

          The only one full of insults and bullshit is you. That’s the only thing you’re really good at saying. Petulant outbursts, childish crudeness & complaining about typos. I’ve argued for the Gospels as evidence. Accept it or reject it. That’s your prerogative. Millions other people are persuaded by it every year all around the world, while a tiny group of self centered hacks who call themselves ex-Christians return to the vomit that is the non-Christian life.

        • Myna
        • MNb

          Yeah – when the all wise Agabu produces insults and bullshit he thinks they are pearls of wisdom. Like this:

          “the vomit that is the non-Christian life”
          Turn the other cheek was for Jesus, not for Agabu. Matth. 7:1-3 aren’t for Agabu either.
          Remarkable how christians wipe their judgmental asses with the best parts of their favourite holy book.

        • Michael Neville

          The collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible aren’t evidence for anything. All your whining and ad hominems can’t change that. And if Christianity is so persuasive then why don’t billions of Muslims and Hindus accept it?

        • Agabu

          Why don’t billions of Muslims, Hindus and others who worship an array of gods accept atheism if it is such a rational belief or lack of belief?

        • Michael Neville

          Possibly because atheists don’t proselytize like Christians or Muslims do. When was the last time you had a couple of atheists knock on your door to tell you to stop going to church?

        • Greg G.

          Religious people are not rational with regard to religion.

        • MR

          We’re indoctrinated from youth and never encouraged to think rationally about our religion.

        • Agabu

          The most irrational people to religion are atheists. Attheism is itself the most irrational thing anyone can cling to built on ignorance and excuses.

        • Michael Neville

          What a resounding rebuttal to Greg G.’s comment. Did you come up with it all by yourself or did your mommy help you?

        • Agabu

          My mommy came up with it. She’s always so handy. What pearls of wisdom has yours left you with big boy?

        • Michael Neville

          She said that you’re a stupid, ignorant, bigoted asshole. And guess what, she’s right. Anyone who thinks atheism is built on ignorance and excuses is stupid and ignorant and anyone who believes it is a bigot. QE fucking D!

        • Ignorant Amos

          And that’s being nice.

        • MNb

          Irrational Agabu claims that his opponents are irrational – two negatives make a positive, so thanks for confirming that we atheists are safe.

        • Greg G.

          This is from the guy who argues that when Matthew says there are 14 generations from the Exile to Jesus but only lists 13 names that he counts one of the names listed before the Exile a second time, just to keep from rejecting biblical inerrancy.

        • Kodie

          The threats.

        • Agabu

          And yet here you are living freely with your “no God” delusions.

        • Michael Neville

          If “no god” is a delusion then you can provide evidence that a god, any god or gods, exist. So where’s your evidence? Trot it out. This is a put up or shut up proposition.

        • Kodie

          Like everything else so far, that went over your head.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You really, really don’t know very much at all, do you?

        • Dys

          I’ve argued for the Gospels as evidence.

          Badly, relying on a conveniently dishonest definition of the gospels as independent accounts when almost every biblical scholar of renown agrees that they are interdependent.

          Your argument is no more substantial than “the bible says it in the gospels, so it has to be true”. All you’ve done is try to dismiss biblical scholarship, abandon the burden of proof, assert biblical inerrancy, and make it abundantly clear that you don’t actually care whether the bible is true or not. You’re just going to assume it is, and dismiss any and all criticism out of hand.

          Millions other people are persuaded by it every year all around the world

          Ad populum fallacy. There’s plenty of people that get persuaded to Islam as well. People can be persuaded to false beliefs.

          while a tiny group of self centered hacks who call themselves ex-Christians return to the vomit that is the non-Christian life.

          Spoken like the pathetic little ignorant apologist you are. Do yourself a favour…the next time you try to have a discussion/argument about the gospels, do some research. It’s clear that you don’t know what you’re talking about. If you just want to make baseless assertions, you’re in the wrong place.

        • Agabu

          I’ll repeat it again since you are so hard of hearing, the Gospels are independent accounts. Evidence for this is seen in the fact that when you examine them in their own respective right they are each different in nature, content, and the facts they include or exclude. The reason for the variations is that each author wrote to a different audience and from his own unique perspective. This is a fact no reputable biblical scholar denies, and one which you just conveniently ignore or dismiss. Matthew begins with a compilation of Jesus’ royal pedigree as a lead in to facts about Christ which he often underlines as significant from the perspective of prophetic fulfillment. Mark begins by announcing the good news about Jesus Christ briskly starting with His baptism by John. Luke begins by resolving to give an orderly account about Jesus Christ investigating the matter using eyewitness sources. John begins his Gospel by asserting the deity of Christ and then going on to give evidence to that effect. He does this by recalling moments where Jesus says and does certain things in order to establish that fact. All this to show the Gospels are resoundingly independent accounts. The primary sources of all four Gospels is the apostles and other relevant eyewitnesses who saw and heard Jesus Christ. Your criticisms are merely dismissive, skewed and just plain terrible.

          Plenty of people getting persuaded to Islam or people being persuaded to false beliefs isn’t an argument. This isn’t about numbers but about the fact that people are persuaded to make up their own minds to follow Christ, which they do freely without coercion. You haven’t shown anything in the way of Christian beliefs being false, and the thing is that isn’t even the point of discussion. Give me an example from anywhere in the world right now, of anyone being forced to be a Christian by a recognized mainstream Christian group or society through sanctioned familial threats of honour killings, the barrel of a gun or fear of being incarcerated because they allegedly broke some biblical law on apostasy, blasphemy, adultery, murder etc or banishment from public life for not being Christian and such. Otherwise, you’re full of nothing but complaints and hot air. Christians generally win converts by preaching the good news about Jesus Christ via persuasion that often respects any person’s right to accept or reject the message. Warnings about hell fire don’t count. For example, Saudi Arabia is an Islamic theocratic monarchy in which Sunni Islam is the official state religion based on firm Sharia law and non-Muslims are not allowed to hold Saudi citizenship. On the flip side the sub-Saharan African country of Zambia is the only explicitly declared Christian nation in the world. Ever heard any stories of people of other faiths there being forced by law or other means to become Christians or even being denied citizenship because they’re not Christian enough?

          You’ve huffed and puffed a lot about me allegedly making baseless assertions. The irony is this has been you all along. There’s been no real grasp of research, just groundless assumptions about biblical scholarship being on your side, which it isn’t. Your arguments have been arguments from silence, bombastic, caricatures, and complaints designed to be merely demeaning and dismissive of the evidence of the Gospels. I don’t much care if you insult me or call me names. Knock yourself out, if that’s what makes you feel big, better and right about your beliefs. My response: God’s grace to you and my continued hope that you truly seek God and perhaps find Him, so to speak. My argument once again isn’t “the bible says it in the gospels, so it has to be true” but rather the Gospels are proven true through the hallmarks that underwrite them as being historical, independent, scripture, testable, overt, reliable and unyielding in everything they tell us about. In the end, you’re the one who doesn’t really care about whether any of the things that are in them are true or not. Proof of this is your dismissal of the miracles therein because according to you they just can’t be true. These sort of things just don’t happen.

        • Greg G.

          You claim that the gospels are interdependent and independent. Those are mutually exclusive terms. Matthew and Luke used Mark verbatim in places. That shows they were not independent. Yet both felt free to alter the text for theological purposes. If Luke can do that with Mark, he could do it with Matthew so we don’t need the hypothetical Q.

          There are places where John follows Mark pretty much phrase for phrase if not word for word (Feeding of the 5000, for example).

        • Agabu

          A degree of interdependence doesn’t militate against independence. If Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source, it shows that Mark reliably passed on information about Christ using his own credible sources, which would be eyewitness testimony. Beyond that both Matthew and Luke seem to use multiple sources of eyewitness testimony for their reports about Jesus. An example of this with Luke is Luke’s telling of the birth of Jesus is from Mary’s perspective thereby signalling to us this is information he got from Mary herself. We are constantly told Mary treasured the things she experienced in her heart. The same is never said of Joseph for instance. The fact that Matthew begins with the geneaology and birth narrative of Christ means his source would have been more than just Mark and therefore he was writing independently of him offering his own unique perspective. It would seem that since Matthew tells the birth of Christ from Joseph’s perspective, the source of this information would have been Joseph himself especially when one considers Joseph’s dreams are written vividly with the detail of a very observant witness who knows what they’re talking about. Luke tells us in the opening verses of his work that he was writing about things he had carefully investigated from the beginning thereby also giving us his own unique perspective making his work a resoundingly independent account. Your allegation that Matthew and Luke used Mark verbatim in places shows they are not independent is without merit. For Matthew and Luke to simply have copied Mark and alter the text for what you call theological purposes is rather silly and simplistic. Here you merely offer generalities but never get to specifics of how Matthew and Luke would manage to do this mostly because there’s no actual evidence for this. You just assume it as mere speculation I must add. Sorry but this is not good enough. Both Matthew and John are apostle’s who were there when Jesus did most of the things he did during His ministry. Relying on Mark for things like feeding the 5000 and other stuff they may have in common with Mark isn’t necessary. The simple fact is the Gospels are each different in nature, content, and the facts they include or exclude as well as the style or grammatical construction in which each is actually written. Your criticisms here are therefore just shallow.

        • Greg G.

          A degree of interdependence doesn’t militate against independence.

          If Matthew and Luke used Mark, they are dependent on Mark. That is the opposite of being independent. Being partially independent is not independent.

          If Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source, it shows that Mark reliably passed on information about Christ using his own credible sources, which would be eyewitness testimony.

          No, it does not show that. It shows that Matthew had no better source. He used about 90% of Mark while omitting prts theological reasons. He left out such things the naked boy at Gethsemane and where Mark had Jesus repeating Paul’s explanation of divorce. Paul was writing to pagans whose law allowed women to divorce. Mark has Jesus saying that but Matthew had enough sense that it would have made no sense for Jesus to have said that to Judeans or Galileans.

          Luke tells us he used multiple sources but thought they needed to be corrected.

          Their other sources do not seem to be eye witness testimony. In the Sermon on the Mount and other soliliquies, Matthew has Jesus reciting topics that are covered in the Epistle of James. James did not quote Jesus which would have bolstered his argument. If they used a common source, it was not Jesus quotes. Parsimony points to James as the source, so Matthew is falsely attributing the topics to Jesus.

          Luke mostly follows Mark from about chapter three through nine, then for Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem, he follows Deuteronomy for about nine chapters while borrowing from Mark and Matthew here and there, and takes up Mark again for the Passion narrative. Since it is apparent that Matthew falsely attributes quotes to Jesus an Luke does, too, we can know that Luke used Matthew for his source and dispense with the hypothetical Q.

          Luke borrows from the Septuagint for Mary’s story. Mary’s song is based on the Song of Hannah from 1 Samuel 2:1-10, for example. Luke rejected Matthew’s genealogy for good reasons, which we have argued before and you had to claim that it was OK to count generations as many times as you like to make Matthew’s 14 generations claim stand up, showing that your belief in the reliability of scripture to be hollow.

          Your allegation that Matthew and Luke used Mark verbatim in places shows they are not independent is without merit.

          You are trying to say that Mark, Matthew, and Luke could independently come up with the same wording in the Greek for large portions of text even when Luke 1:1-4 flat out says he used other sources. That is an insane claim you are making. It shows how dishonest one must be with oneself and others to be a Bible inerrantist.

        • Dys

          I’ll repeat it again since you are so hard of hearing, the Gospels are independent accounts.

          We’ve already had this discussion, and the fact of the matter is that you’re wrong. The gospels are interdependent, not independent. The scholars disagree with you.

          Plenty of people getting persuaded to Islam or people being persuaded to false beliefs isn’t an argument.

          No kidding. Neither was your “lots of people convert to Christianity” silliness. It was merely to point out your ad populum fallacy, as I said.

          You’ve huffed and puffed a lot about me allegedly making baseless assertions.

          It’s all you have. The bible says it, you believe it. You don’t have anything else to offer.

          Your arguments have been arguments from silence, bombastic, caricatures, and complaints designed to be merely demeaning and dismissive of the evidence of the Gospels.

          Wrong on all counts. The problem is you don’t have the intellectual integrity to bother examining the bible critically. You just want to accept it wholesale because it’s the bible. It’s special pleading. The fact that the gospels are interdependent means you don’t have four individual, independent accounts. The fact of the matter is that there is no evidence to substantiate the miracles described in the bible. And the fact that they defy physics makes them extremely unlikely to be true.

          I don’t much care if you insult me or call me names. Knock yourself out, if that’s what makes you feel big, better and right about your beliefs.

          Stop being a sanctimonious twit, you hypocrite. You’ve been nothing but a condescending ass the entire time you’ve been here. So you can take your “makes you feel big” garbage and fuck off, because you’re just as guilty as anyone.

          Proof of this is your dismissal of the miracles therein because according to you they just can’t be true

          Thank you for proving that you can’t read. That’s not what I said. You’re either have problems with reading comprehension, or you’re a habitual liar. Pick one. What I did say is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. You don’t have extraordinary evidence – you have stories in a book you like. That doesn’t mean they definitely didn’t happen, it just means you don’t have any evidence that they did, and no real argument to support the idea that they did.

          This question of miracles isn’t so much a matter of history as it is an issue of worldviews.

          Sure. Like I’ve said multiple times, and you keep demonstrating the truth of, you’re not willing to examine the bible in anything other than a devotional context. So of course you’re going to accept what it says without any real question. I prefer not to be so gullible. You’ve already made it clear that you’re a biblical inerrantist, because you can’t even accept the possibility that the gospels contain contradictions. Your entire position is faith-based, not evidence-based.

          If Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead, the evidence of four
          independent Gospel accounts testifying to it is beyond question.

          Except they’re not independent accounts. It’s the same story, taken from Mark, and modified for the intended audience. That’s interdependence, not Independence. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

          You don’t have four different accounts at all. You have modified accounts from the original account. And they’re not sufficient to establish that someone came back from the dead. Just because something is written in the bible doesn’t make it true. The gospels aren’t history books, and they’re not ancient journalism. You keep trying to treat them that way because you’re not skeptical at all. Which is why you’ve been unable to deal with biblical criticism. All you can do is try to hand wave it away and just repeat what you believe.

        • Agabu

          The fact of the matter is that you’re the one who is wrong about the Gospels. They are independent accounts. Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience to prove to them that Jesus is indeed their Messiah. That’s why Matthew includes many of the teachings of Christ and makes numerous references to Old Testament prophecies. Mark wrote to a Greek or Gentile audience to prove that Jesus is the Son of God. Therefore, he makes his case by focusing on the events of Christ’s life. His gospel moves very quickly from one event to another, demonstrating Christ’s lordship over all creation. Luke wrote to give an accurate historical account of Jesus’ life. John wrote after reflecting on his encounter with Christ for many years. With that insight, near the end of his life John sat down and wrote the most theological of all the Gospels. This is a summary analysis of the nature and content of the Gospels. You’ve done nothing of the sort serve only to appeal to some nameless elite corps of biblical scholars that you claim supports your view probably naturalists like your self. Your criticisms are flimsy, baseless and terribly wrong and just products of your bland imagination and naturalistic worldview.

        • Dys

          You’ve done nothing of the sort serve only to appeal to some nameless
          elite corps of biblical scholars that you claim supports your view
          probably naturalists like your self.

          I kind of figured that’s why you’re trying to play both sides of the fence with the gospels…you sorta-kinda accept intertependence, but then immediately turn around and say they’re somehow independent as well. But you are, as per usual, completely wrong. Most bible scholars are believers. And you’re imagining that your ignorance is just as good as their knowledge.

          You continue to demonstrate quite clearly that you haven’t actually done much in the way of research. Even Augustine understood that the gospels were not independent, although his hypothesis is no longer the consensus (He thought Matthew was used to write Mark, and then both were used to write Luke). He also said “And however they may appear to have kept each of them a certain order of
          narration proper to himself, this certainly is not to be taken as if
          each individual writer chose to write in ignorance of what his
          predecessor had done…”.

          The truth is that the solutions to the synoptic problem were developed by Christians.

          Your criticisms are flimsy, baseless and terribly wrong and just products of your bland imagination and naturalistic worldview.

          They’re so flimsy and terrible, and yet you can do nothing to counter them except whine.

          Your worldview is faith based, not evidence based. Which is why all you can do is reiterate what you believe. You don’t have any evidence to provide, so you’re stuck pretending then gospels are independent accounts.

        • Kodie

          Seriously, it’s called reading comprehension.

    • Joe

      The story of Jesus being crucified becoming widespread long after the time of Jesus isn’t an argument against its historicity

      .
      No, but the fact that it wasn’t documented at the time it allegedly happened, by any historian, is a very good argument against it happening.

      • Agabu

        Nonsense. Four independent Gospel accounts say otherwise. Try again.

        • Joe

          You can’t use the gospels to support the gospels being true. That’s completely circular. I believe the example of Harry Potter has already been brought up.

        • Agabu

          Using Matthew to support Matthew would be circular. But using Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to speak to the life, death and resurrection of Christ is corroboration. Try again.

        • Joe

          They borrowed from the same source, Mark, and each other. Adding or subtracting along the way. They crib from each other, not support each other. They even get that wrong.

        • Agabu

          Where’s your evidence that that’s exactly what happened? Does Matthew and Luke tell us that they wrote from copying Mark? Does John? Each Gospel is written in the first person, confidently talking about significant events in the life of Christ as a matter of fact. What you think they get wrong is only what you’ve got wrong. Again, try again.

        • Pofarmer

          Where’s your evidence that that’s exactly what happened?

          It’s the scholarly consensus, for one.

        • Agabu

          Really? Scholarly consensus? This isn’t evidence. Scholars have hypotheses which function as discussion points for the documentary relationship among the Gospels. Many scholars in the twentieth century may have regarded as fact one particular hypothesis, fresh challenges however have proved influential enough for scholars to be more eager to explore all the alternatives on offer. In other words, simply saying scholarly consensus doesn’t prove your point. What scholars are in agreement over requires a detailed explanation that takes into account the alternatives they’re still actively exploring.

        • Pofarmer

          WHen you say “Scholars” I think what you really mean is “apologists” because that’s what seems to have largely taken over New Testament studies, especially.

        • Agabu

          And your point is what exactly?

        • Dys

          Scholars ≠ apologists.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh fer fucks sake.

        • Dys

          Really? Scholarly consensus? This isn’t evidence. Scholars have
          hypotheses which function as discussion points for the documentary
          relationship among the Gospels.

          In other words, you only accept the scholarly consensus when it aligns with what you want to believe, and dismiss it when it doesn’t. You referenced it in support of the notion that Jesus existed, but as soon as it’s turned against you to demonstrate that your view of the gospels is woefully inaccurate, all of a sudden the scholars’ views don’t matter any more. You’re engaging in special pleading.

          Which means you don’t have an argument – you’re just making assertions about what you want to be true. You want the gospels to be independent accounts, so despite evidence that they’re not, you just continue making the assertion that they are. You’re operating on blind faith, nothing more.

          Your entire viewpoint on the Gospels is a testament to wilful ignorance.

        • Agabu

          I didn’t say it doesn’t matter. I said scholar consensus isn’t evidence because there are a number of things to consider in view of what Scholars are in agreement about and why.

        • Dys

          The scholarly consensus exists because of the evidence. And you’re apparently disregarding it because it conflicts with your dogma. Which you haven’t actually defended, but just constantly repeated.

          The fact remains that you haven’t backed up your assertions in the slightest, and have tried to dismiss valid criticism with nonsensical arguments that amount to special pleading on behalf of the bible.

        • Agabu

          Not at all. Scholarly consensus follows certain lines of thought with hypotheses in mind. It isn’t “evidence” that that is exactly what happened, it is an analysis of features in the Gospels that suggests a “possible” single source. This doesn’t do away with other alternative lines of thought, let alone the fact that the Gospels do remain independent accounts that stand on their own. At the very least, the approach is within the realm of reason.

        • Dys

          And so you’re going with the gullible rube line of thought. Got it. Just keep repeating the independent accounts silliness. Blind faith is all you have, so mindlessly asserting it over and over again is your only tactic.

        • Agabu

          Not at all! Mindlessly repeating that they’re not independent accounts is your thing. It’s all you’ve got in your bag of tricks. Now it’s time to turn to alleging I got blind faith. Dys, you’re too much fun in your intellectual gyrations.

        • Dys

          Except the actual scholars agree that they’re not independent accounts. I actually have something backing up my opinion on the matter. It’s cute that you’re trying to turn things around on me, but the simple fact is that you’re dismissing the experts out of hand because they don’t agree with you.

        • Agabu

          There are no experts I’m dismissing. Just dismissing you and your pretensions about experts agreeing with you.

        • Dys

          They’re not pretensions – and it’s not the experts agreeing with me. It’s me agreeing with the experts. The fact remains – the gospels aren’t independent accounts, and it seems you’re being intentionally dishonest.

        • Pofarmer

          Actually, none of the authors tell us who they are, or what they did, or why they wrote. That’s later Church attribution. Or, maybe the attribution is original and the Gospels were written late.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But the four gospel accounts are not independent.

          Scholars have been aware of this since the get go.

        • Agabu

          Again, they are in fact independent accounts. The fact that there are no hints of collusion as well as some critics alleging that they contradict each other proves it.

        • Dys

          Again, no, they’re not. Just repeating it over and over again won’t make it true, no matter how much you want it to.

          The fact that there are no hints of collusion

          No one is asserting that the authors were in constant communication to write their gospels.

          as some critics alleging that they contradict each other proves it.

          Contradictions between Matthew and Luke would be expected, since they don’t appear to have used each other as a source. And while both Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source, that doesn’t entail a direct copy. And both gospels contain stories that are not in Mark.

          You’ve proven nothing…except you don’t really understand even the basics of textual criticism.

        • Agabu

          Thanks for actually confirming that they are in fact independent accounts by saying and I quote, “Contradictions between Matthew and Luke would be expected, since they don’t appear to have used each other as a source. And while both Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source, that doesn’t entail a direct copy. And both gospels contain stories that are not in Mark.”

          As for contradictions, they are none in there whatsoever. Every single so-called contradiction has a reasonable explanation.

        • Dys

          Thanks for actually confirming that they are in fact independent accounts by saying and I quote

          That doesn’t confirm that they’re independent accounts. You have difficulty with comprehension. I said both Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source. In other words, they’re both dependent on Mark. You’re simply wrong, again.

          There are plenty of contradictions. But silly people who don’t know what words mean think that if they can manufacture some excuse, no matter how flimsy, that somehow magically makes something not a contradiction.

          The only way anyone can declare that the bible has no contradictions is by blind faith.

        • Agabu

          It’s kinda fun to watch you gyrate and bend over backwards to prove your point. Please continue.

        • Dys

          I’ve proven my point, it just sailed over your head because you can’t read. It’s either that, or you were being dishonest. It has to be one or the other, since I didn’t say what you claimed I did.

          All you’ve exhibited to this point has been blind faith. You foolishly insist that the bible has to be completely historically accurate, insist that the gospels are completely independent of each other, and deny that there are any contradictions.

          All of your positions are contradicted by the evidence and scholarship, and are faith-based dogmatic presuppositions.

        • Agabu

          You haven’t proven squat. The Gospels are historically reliable, were written independently, have no legitimate contradictions and have a better grasp of the culture and time they’re set in than you or me or any person that lives in our century. Research and analysis of their claims must assume they know better about the era they inhabit and the Christ they talk about unless proven otherwise by the hard facts of archaeology and a genre analysis of the Gospels themselves.

        • Dys

          The Gospels are historically reliable

          Parts of them are, sure. Others, not so much.

          were written independently

          This is a faith based assertion, nothing more.

          have no legitimate contradictions

          This is another faith-based assertion.

          Research and analysis of their claims must assume they know better about the era they inhabit

          Just because something is written in the bible doesn’t mean it’s true. The same applies to any other book. You’re engaging in special pleading to exempt the bible. Having the same story of Jesus’s resurrection told slightly differently in the each gospel doesn’t constitute evidence that it actually happened. The bible is the claim, not the evidence.

          a genre analysis of the Gospels themselves.

          A genre analysis reveals that the gospels don’t belong to the genre of history. The bible is a religious text, not a history book. That fact that it contains some verifiably accurate historical information does not mean that the entire book is historically accurate. True in part does not imply true in whole.

          The problem you’re having is that you’re advocating for a devotional approach to the bible, and honestly don’t know how to handle those who take a critical approach to it. Your entire position is faith based, not evidence based, but apparently it’s very important for you to pretend otherwise.

        • Agabu

          Once again intellectual gyrations and useless criticisms.

          Calling my contention “they are independent accounts” a faith-based assertion is a mere dismissal without merit. You’ve already brought up the issue of “contradictions” and used them as an argument against the veracity of the Gospels. You’ve harped on about differences in the Gospels all the while ignoring the fact that this actually proves they are independent. Markan dependence is a hypothesis trying to ascertain the sources of the Gospels’ contents. It has its uses but it isn’t hard evidence that that’s exactly what happened. Luke for one tells us in abbreviated form who his sources were for his Gospel even as he gives a shout out to others also writing about Christ (Luke 1:1-4). Matthew’s starting point with a geneaology makes him stand apart from Mark as well as so many little details he includes that are just not in Mark thereby establishing his independence from Mark. John’s uniqueness marks him as very different from the other three and therefore very independent from them.

          I have nowhere claimed something is true because it’s in the Bible. I’ve advocated for testing the Gospels on their own terms. A genre analysis of the Gospels reveals they are partly autobiographical, partly historical and wholly gospel. They are grand reports or great announcements about Christ in view of what He did and taught until He was taken up into heaven after being raised from the dead as Luke puts it in Acts 1. The problem is you dismiss all this, because we’ve developed methodologies today that the Gospels just don’t meet. Sorry but this is anachronistic,and trying to force the Gospels to speak in modern terms instead of theirs. Your entire position is an excuse meant to sustain rank unbelief.

        • Dys

          Once again intellectual gyrations and useless criticisms.

          I know, I know. You’re not equipped to deal with having the weaknesses and gaping holes in your naive apologetics criticized.

          Calling my contention “they are independent accounts” a faith-based assertion is a mere dismissal without merit.

          No, calling it a faith based assertion is an accurate description. You haven’t actually backed up your assertion in the slightest.

          You’ve already brought up the issue of “contradictions” and used them as an argument against the veracity of the Gospels.

          Contradictions exist, whether you want to admit it or not. Your insistence that none exist is purely a religious belief, not a factual one.

          You’ve harped on about differences in the Gospels all the while ignoring
          the fact that this actually proves they are independent.

          No, no, no. You’re not paying attention. The fact that a story is reworded and told in the style of a different author is not proof that the author didn’t get the story from someone else. Edith Hamilton reworded greek myths into her own style, but her work is still dependent on other sources. And there are other retellings of Greek mythology that change some of the details as well. That doesn’t qualify them as evidence that the events they describe actually happened.

          Markan dependence is a hypothesis trying to ascertain the sources of the Gospels’ contents. It has its uses but it isn’t hard evidence that that’s exactly what happened

          It is a hypothesis that has substantially more weight than your incessant “the gospels are all independent accounts” ranting.

          Luke for one tells us in abbreviated form who his sources were for his Gospel

          Which means that Luke was dependent on those sources, one of which was almost certainly the gospel of Mark.

          I have nowhere claimed something is true because it’s in the Bible.

          It has been the underlining theme of your entire attempt at an argument. You’ve been trying to insist that the bible has to be taken as historically accurate, yet the fact is that there are serious issues with doing so, especially when it comes to miracles for which there is no evidence.

          They are grand reports or great announcements about Christ in view of
          what He did and taught until He was taken up into heaven after being
          raised from the dead as Luke puts it in Acts 1

          Yes, that is what the gospels claim happened. As has been repeatedly pointed out to you however, the bible is the claim of those events, not the evidence for them.

          Sorry but this is anachronistic,and trying to force the Gospels to speak in modern terms instead of theirs.

          In other words, you don’t like textual or historical criticism of the bible because it runs counter to the devotional approach you want to use.

          Your entire position is an excuse meant to sustain rank unbelief.

          Not at all. I just understand that the bible isn’t a history book, isn’t written as one, and has people, places, and events that can be verified, and has those that cannot. And the nature of the events and people that cannot be verified has to be taken into consideration when evaluating those claims. People rising from the dead is an extraordinary claim. Multiple copies of the same story written well after the claimed event are insufficient to warrant belief.

        • Agabu

          So much twisted logic here. So much intellectual gyrations and bending over backwards.

          The Gospels (and by extension all other works in the Bible) aren’t the claims, the Gospels are documents reporting the claims. As writings they are documentary evidence.

          Luke’s sources are principally eyewitnesses that he had access to. He wrote at a time when the apostles were still very much alive whom he could actually talk to. The likelihood of the Gospel of Mark circulating doesn’t negate dealing with actual eyewitnesses in the course of his investigations. Which means his work still has a degree of independence that Mark doesn’t dictate or impose on him. Sorry, your criticism here is a huge fail. Its no different than someone today writing about the fall of the Berlin wall 25 years ago using eyewitness reports complemented by a standard work on the subject that has been in circulation for some time. This fact would still mean his work is independent even if he uses that work as a reference tool. In any case, the first verses of Luke 1 position him as independently looking into these matters. The fact that you’re ignoring the text and nowhere quote anything from the Gospels to prove any of points is why your not independent position is untenable. It just hides behind scholarly consensus, as if an elite corps of specialists is what you always need to understand anything or everything in the Bible.

          I’ve looked at many so-called contradictions in the Bible. They just aren’t upon close examination. If you can find something in the Gospels like where one says Jesus was born in Bethlehem, while another claims he was born in Jerusalem. That would be a contradiction. But there’s nothing of the sort there. So your contradiction allegation is something you’re gonna have to prove beyond all reasonable doubt.

          To say that because the Gospels have miracles for which there’s no evidence is laughable. They document miracles. They gather up information and tell us about those miracles naming specific cases, when and where it happened, how it happened, who was present whether friend and/or foe. There miracle reports are never neat little tidbits colouring the narratives for easy believism purposes. They are reported on with sincerity, gravitas, dramatic flair as well as poignancy. I ask you to read the story of the man born blind in John 9 and how the episode unfolds and observe what it says or teaches about Jesus Himself. This is evidence based reporting which is the equivalent of our modern day footnoting practice for fact checking purposes. If your complaint is that we can’t now talk to these people that were healed, that would make as much sense as saying we’re not sure whether Chris Columbus discovered the new world, because we just can’t talk to him today. His writings are just his claims, and therefore not evidence. Sloppy thinking nonsense like its just a claim, or the Bible is the claim is ridiculous. Once again, an example of you not reading anything in the Bible on its terms.

          Textual and historical criticisms of the Bible is fine with me. I say bring it on. The Bible stands any scrutiny thrown at it. It always has, and always will.

          I never said anything about the Bible being a history book, I said the Gospels are historical. They report on things that happened. The Bible may not be a history textbook like we think of them today but it contains works of literature anchored in history thereby lending all its works to historical research and analysis. Because we have somethings in it that can not externally be verified doesn’t prove that it didn’t happen. Saying it didn’t happen because we don’t have outside verification is an argument from silence. At the very least the fact that it is reported there is documentary evidence that it did happen. As for the extraordinary claim of the Resurrection, all four Gospels report the fact of it happening providing a litany of eyewitnesses with identifiable names including a cross section of men and women, its location, its timing in proximity to Jewish Passover, the number of days Jesus appeared to a wide range of His followers under different circumstances. The Resurrection isn’t a neat little story with a no qualms no problems fairy tale ending, Its filled with drama, doubts, uncertainty and hard won conviction brought to bear on an initially fearful bunch with nothing to gain and all to lose in that cultural setting. The detail with which the Resurrection is reported on provides for us today documentary evidence we can look into very carefully to see if these things are really so. They are once again the Gospels’ way of footnoting. Your “multiple copies of the same story claim written well after the claimed event” claim is flippant and just an excuse that hasn’t really looked deep into these reports. It may be your reason for supposing the Gospels are insufficient to warrant belief, but that’s because those are the standards you’ve set for them. Your standards aren’t anyone else’s. And they may be dismissed as merely self-serving.

        • Myna

          Agabu, Agabu, Agabu. It is always a wonder to watch you hurl yourself so vigorously into misapprehension.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which means his work still has a degree of independence that Mark doesn’t dictate or impose on him.

          Ha ha ha…funny guy. So the goal posts are being shifted.

          Luke is partially independent now?

          And the bits that aren’t independent come from eyewitness sources because Agabu says so? Why?

          And your magical early dating of Luke is because?

          WTF?

        • Agabu

          The goal posts haven’t shifted my ignorant amigo. The likelihood of Mark being in circulation at the time Luke was writing doesn’t undermine Luke writing independently especially when his primary sources involved eyewitness with whom he could fact check. In fact he claims independence by saying he carefully investigated everything from the beginning (Luke 1:1-4)

        • Pofarmer

          Sounds like standard fiction, to me.

          So. Much. Stupid.

          Let’s look at your Berlin Wall example. The sources for the existence of the Berlin wall are almost endless. Including sources from multiple countries on either side of the wall. Not so for Jesus. All we have is religious hagiography by believers. Ditto the miracles, ditto the “triumphal entry” ditto the thousands. There is no outside confirmation of these occurrences, at all. And while Jesus was resurrected, if it was so important to believe in him, he could have just appeared to the Jewish leadership and settled it once and for all. He could have vanquished the Romans right then, but he didn’t. And, in fact, if you look at actual history, life went on pretty much as it always had in Jerusalem, except that there was this little sect peddling a new line of bullshit, a “revealed” savior, from the scriptures. Which is exactly what the Gospels are, Midrash of the older Jewish scriptures. Literally everything in them comes from the OT, and maybe a little bit of Homerk, and ideas from the writings of Paul(maybe). They are Greek stories with Greek forms, they don’t even look like transcribed oral stories. They were made from whole cloth, probably in the 2nd century, or, at least, that’s what the best evidence shoes. They aren’t considered documentary evidence because there is ZERO that corroborates them, and the completely look like fiction. We shouldn’t expect the miracles in the Gospels to be any more real than the miracles in the Alexander Romances, or the Odyssey, or the Wonders of Hercules, whom some of the Early Church fathers ALSO believe existed. There’s even a very good chance, looking at the writings of the very early Church fathers, and things like the Didache, that they very well knew that it was all made up “Revealed” in the scriptures. It wasn’t until much later that a “flesh and blood” Jesus was created, possibly by someone in Rome, because that better meshed with what the Romans and Greeks were used to worshiping, Vs the celestial diety that this Hebrew sect was pushing.

        • Agabu

          All this huffing and puffing, producing nothing but hot air left me wondering how a smart guy such as yourself can buy into all this speculative nonsense. Seriously dude, you need to come back down to earth.

        • Pofarmer

          So, anything that you dissagree with, anything that compares your text to other ancient texts, and common practices of the time, is speculative nonsense? But the miracles in YOUR book. Those are the genuine article. You’re a rube and a fool.

        • Dys

          the Gospels are documents reporting the claims. As writings they are documentary evidence.

          You are quite simply wrong in this, and it gives rise to all your other constant mistakes. You imagine that the bible is a history text, and it is not. You claim to know this, but then immediately revert to treating it as one. That is why I’ve repeatedly said that your position is the equivalent of “bible says it, you believe it, that settles it”.

          Because we have somethings in it that can not externally be verified
          doesn’t prove that it didn’t happen. Saying it didn’t happen because we
          don’t have outside verification is an argument from silence

          And just because the bible claims that miracles did occur doesn’t mean they happened either. That’s why every single miracle claim in the bible is a matter of faith, not evidence. The bible does not prove any miracle ever occurred. The fact that you want to just lump all the claims

          My original assessment was correct. Despite trying to portray your position as based on evidence, the reality is that you’re doing nothing more than just taking the bible’s word for it that all the events it describes actually occurred. You’re trying to defend a devotional reading of the bible, and are not dealing honestly with critical examinations of the bible.

          that would make as much sense as saying we’re not sure whether Chris
          Columbus discovered the new world, because we just can’t talk to him
          today. His writings are just his claims, and therefore not evidence.

          Now, if I were to employ your childish deflection tactics, I would simply (and falsely) claim that you’re trying to scapegoat Columbus and that he’s irrelevant to the discussion. But this example illustrates quite clearly the problem with your thinking, even if you don’t realize it.

          Christopher Columbus didn’t discover the New World, for one. The vikings beat him to it by quite a bit. And secondly, you are correct – Columbus’s writings are the claims. Not everything he wrote was accurate. Now, based on the nature of the claims he makes, they can be evaluated on a case by case basis, not the wholesale accept or reject nonsense you try to insist on for the bible. And I may be wrong in this, but I don’t believe Columbus’s writings involve miracle claims. But for one example, Columbus reported seeing mermaids in his explorations. That is a claim (or if you like a documentation of a claim). But the fact that he recorded it doesn’t make it true. And we know he was wrong.

          Textual and historical criticisms of the Bible is fine with me. I say
          bring it on. The Bible stands any scrutiny thrown at it. It always has,
          and always will.

          Dismissing it all out of hand, as you keep attempting to do, isn’t actually dealing with it. Dogmatic stubbornness isn’t a defense.

          It may be your reason for supposing the Gospels are insufficient to
          warrant belief, but that’s because those are the standards you’ve set
          for them. Your standards aren’t anyone else’s. And they may be dismissed
          as merely self-serving.

          My standards on the topic do tend to be a bit more objective on it, and generally tend to correspond to the experts who actually study the text. And the fact that I have standards for the text that reach beyond “it says it in the bible so it must be true” elevates it quite a bit further than yours.

          I don’t suppose I need to tell you that your last paragraph reeks of projection, do I?

        • Agabu

          “And just because the bible claims that miracles did occur doesn’t mean they happened either. That’s why every single miracle claim in the bible is a matter of faith, not evidence.”

          This sums up the ineptitude in your thinking. When arguments from silence don’t work, resort to characterizing it as rumor or hearsay with no basis from the Gospels themselves. At no time have you even interacted with anything in the Gospels to make any of your points except constant sit on some high horse saying crap like, “The Bible isn’t a history book.” It just can’t be true because it’s a miracle, and miracles are a matter of faith, says you. The thing is there is no I heard from so and so who heard from so and so that so and so got miraculously healed by Jesus from this ailment in the Gospels. That’s what would be hearsay. The Gospels document first hand accounts about significant events in the life of Christ. You don’t believe the miraculous elements of the Gospels not for a lack of evidence, but because you’ve already decided ahead of time that there’s no way they could have happened because “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. That sorta thing just don’t happen.” That type of anachronistic thinking is kinda hard to back out of aint it?

        • Dys

          This sums up the ineptitude in your thinking.

          It’s not ineptitude. It’s basic logic, and the perfectly reasonable counter to your wishful thinking. It’s simply true, whether you like it or not. Just because the bible says something happened doesn’t mean it actually happened.

          It just can’t be true because it’s a miracle, and miracles are a matter of faith, says you.

          I didn’t say that. What I have said is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and miracles don’t have any.

          The Gospels document first hand accounts about significant events in the life of Christ.

          You don’t know that, you just believe it.

          You don’t believe the miraculous elements of the Gospels not for a lack
          of evidence, but because you’ve already decided ahead of time that
          there’s no way they could have happened because “I’ve never seen
          anything like that in my life. That sorta thing just don’t happen.”

          You’re just making excuses now. I could just as easily say that you only believe in miracles because your religious beliefs give you a cognitive bias that makes you gullible.

          That type of anachronistic thinking is kinda hard to back out of aint it?

          Not really, because it’s not anachronistic. You really should stop using words you don’t know the meanings of. I don’t doubt that the people back then were superstitious. That doesn’t mean their superstitions are real. You want to believe in magic, especially the magic described in the bible. You don’t actually have a good reason for doing so, and you obviously have no evidence, so your only avenue is to go on the offensive and hope no one notices.

        • Agabu

          You may insist “Just because the bible says something happened doesn’t mean it actually happened.” But that isn’t proof it didn’t happen either. This is mere skepticism. Going on to claim that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and miracles don’t have any shifts the issue from history and makes it an issue of worldviews. Calling Christ a magic man who violated the laws of physics is shoehorning the the miraculous claims of the Gospels into some worldview model that characterizes them as such. In the Gospels, Christ isn’t a magic man that violated the laws of physics. He is rather the Son of God who demonstrated power of things in the natural world with the power of God not silly sleight of hand magic tricks or the wave of a wand. Your worldview rather than historical analysis is what is leading you to deny the miracles. You may claim that you are not saying that miracles absolutely didn’t occur, but characterizing Christ’s miracles as magic that violated the laws of physics says otherwise. Suggesting also there’s no good reason to suppose miracles did happen has nothing to do with history but a blatantly naturalistic worldview opposed to miracles. Your “I don’t doubt that the people back then were superstitious” line is nothing but patronizing crapiola shown by you persistently referring to miracles as superstition and magic when the ancients were well aware of such things and could actually tell the difference between superstition and supernatural signs, magic and miracles.

          The whole Saganist extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence thing makes no sense whatsoever. It may be catchy and fine-sounding to say but it is a ridiculous standard. I should ask,“What the hell constitutes extraordinary evidence anyway?” Can you give me an example from history with a known extraordinary claim with that sort of evidence that everyone accepts. If you can’t provide any such evidence, stop imposing such ridiculous standards on the Gospels and by extension the Bible that aren’t imposed on anything else at any time in all of history. I’m here reminded of the late Christopher Hitchens who every now and then stated claims without evidence may be dismissed without evidence. This extraordinary claims crap falls in that category, because in the end all you need for any happening whether extraordinary or otherwise is just good old fashioned evidence.

          Your allegation that the Gospels are just slightly different retellings of the same story rather than independent accounts is a mere generality with nothing in the way of specifics of how this actually is from a well reasoned analysis of each of the Gospels. It actually has no support among credible biblical scholars or internally in the Gospels themselves. The simple fact is a careful study and analysis of the four Gospels reveals that they are each different in nature, content, and the facts they include or exclude. You may huff and puff and insinuate that I just want to believe in magic, especially the magic described in the bible. I don’t believe in any such thing. You may say that I don’t actually have a good reason for doing so, and that I obviously have no evidence, so that my only avenue is to go on the offensive and hope no one notices. The truth is this is your conveniently characterizing me thus because that’s what works for you. It doesn’t substantively deal with anything. It is a generality with no specifics except to attack me personally by speculating about my motives. If that’s all you’ve got, knock yourself out, but real issues still stand.

        • Dys

          You may insist “Just because the bible says something happened doesn’t mean it actually happened.” But that isn’t proof it didn’t happen either. This is mere skepticism.

          Correct, it’s skepticism. Skepticism is a tool to combat gullibility, especially for stories that make extraordinary claims but don’t have enough evidence to support them. Like the miracles in the gospels.

          Going on to claim that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and miracles don’t have any shifts the issue from history and makes it an issue of worldviews.

          Not at all. It points out that you haven’t actually justified that the miracles described in the bible are historical. Your worldview means you want to believe that they are, but you haven’t actually defended that belief beyond “it says it happened in the bible”. Which is fine if you’re going to place faith over evidence. But that runs into problems with special pleading.

          The whole Saganist extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence thing makes no sense whatsoever.

          I get the general impression that you don’t understand it, and are yet again trying to casually dismiss something that undermines your unquestioning acceptance of the bible.

          Can you give me an example from history with a known extraordinary claim with that sort of evidence that everyone accepts. If you can’t provide any such evidence, stop imposing such ridiculous
          standards on the Gospels and by extension the Bible that aren’t imposed
          on anything else at any time in all of history.

          Can I think of any instance where someone makes a claim that something magic happened, and everyone accepts? No. And that’s the point. It’s not a ridiculous standard at all…you’re just trying to find a way to justify believing something for which you have no evidence.

          I’m here reminded of the late Christopher Hitchens who every now and
          then stated claims without evidence may be dismissed without evidence.
          This extraordinary claims crap falls in that category, because in the
          end all you need for any happening whether extraordinary or otherwise is
          just good old fashioned evidence.

          Then you’re simply naive and admitting to being a gullible rube. Different claims have a different burden of proof depending on the nature of the claim being made. A claim that my pet dog died requires a lot less evidence than if I said my pet magically came back to life.

          Your allegation that the Gospels are just slightly different retellings
          of the same story rather than independent accounts is a mere generality
          with nothing in the way of specifics of how this actually is from a well
          reasoned analysis of each of the Gospels. It actually has no support
          among credible biblical scholars or internally in the Gospels
          themselves.

          Actually, while they might disagree with my wording, it’s precisely what the biblical scholars think happened.

          The simple fact is a careful study and analysis of the four Gospels
          reveals that they are each different in nature, content, and the facts
          they include or exclude.

          Which doesn’t negate the fact that they are interdependent, not independent.

          You may huff and puff and insinuate that I just want to believe in
          magic, especially the magic described in the bible. I don’t believe in
          any such thing.

          So now you don’t believe the miracles described in the bible happened? Or are you going to whine about miracles being described as magic, even though they’re functionally identical?

          You may say that I don’t actually have a good reason for doing so, and
          that I obviously have no evidence, so that my only avenue is to go on
          the offensive and hope no one notices.

          I said it because it’s exactly the behaviour you’re exhibiting. Hand waving away criticism, and repeating yourself ad nauseum.

          It doesn’t substantively deal with anything. It is a generality with no
          specifics except to attack me personally by speculating about my
          motives. If that’s all you’ve got, knock yourself out, but real issues
          still stand.

          You have offered nothing substantive. All you have offered, to date, has been assertions about what you believe. The only issue remaining is why you’re still around when you can’t deal with having your beliefs criticized. All your other attempts at an argument have been more than adequately dealt with.

        • Agabu

          All you have is mere skepticism, and the kind that doesn’t combat gullibility but serves to rein-enforce baseless unbelief and uphold rationalistic pretensions. The miracles of the Gospels are well passed on, reliably documented and clearly recorded for easy examination.

          I have actually shown that the miracles described in the Gospels are historical via the Gospels document things actual eyewitnesses saw and heard in the life of Christ. Your worldview hiding behind the extraordinary claims crapiola means that you may suppose that they didn’t happen. It’s convenience is its selling point. Faith over evidence isn’t my appeal. It’s merely characterizing my position for your purposes. I’m dismissive of the Saganist extraordinary claims crapiola because like even you admit, “Can I think of any instance where someone makes a claim that something magic happened, and everyone accepts it? No.” Since you got nothing in that regard, this criticism is a dud and inadmissible here as criterion. And no magic is being claimed here just miracles. Sleights of hand and supernatural signs over nature are not the same thing. There’s a big world of difference between the acts of David Copperfield and the miraculous acts of Jesus Christ. This sort of confusion of categories is typical of your sloppy analysis.

          Different claims have a different burden of proof depending on the nature of the claim being made. No they don’t. All claims just have a burden of proof that must simply be met in order to be accepted as true. Your claim that my pet dog died requires a lot less evidence than if I said my pet magically came back to life is bullshit. People may accept without question that your dog died and just simply take your word for it, which people often do, but that doesn’t mean that’s all the evidence that is there. If somebody bothers to ask for it, the evidence you need to show that your dog died is producing its lifeless carcass and/or pictures or personal testimony from others of your dog with you while still alive and have those other people confirm it as witnesses to its death, particularly if you can’t be bothered to dig up after burying it already. A dog dead may seem easy enough to prove on the surface, until someone starts asking questions because of doubts they bring up about whether you even owned a dog in the first place since they haven’t seen it. On the other hand, the evidence you need to show that your dog died but “magically” came back to life is reliable documentation via witnesses like one or two other people besides yourself one of whom may be a vet which is a plus although doesn’t necessarily have to be so to certify that your dog really died as well as actually having a living breathing dog with you proving that it is indeed alive well with you. How the dog came back to life may be a mystery that seems to defy logic. But that it “magically” came back to life would be an undeniable fact that should be reasonably accepted the living dog is right there before you.

          There’s no substantive criticism here again except bald dismissals and unsubstantiated claims about scholars not agreeing with your wording but “magically” agreeing with what the silly wording asserts is what happened. These clever gyrations are as hilarious as they come and as terrible in equal measure. Contrary to your speculations, careful analysis and research has shown fairly conclusively that the gospels are in fact independent accounts. There is just no reason to suppose that the Gospel authors took creative liberties with the events they recorded, to the point of fabrication or outright plagiarism. On this point it should be added that since claims of anonymity are often put forward for the Gospels one has to ask how is it you suppose that “Matthew” and “Luke” would choose to use an anonymous document like Mark as a source? Mark could not be recognized as authoritative until it was known what source it came from; yet if you are right, “Mark” was considered authoritative enough to use not by just one, but by two others working independently of one another. My point here is that there are more serious problems that defy reason with your position than you would care to admit

        • Dys

          The miracles of the Gospels are well passed
          on, reliably documented and clearly recorded for easy examination.

          This is entirely a faith-based belief. The bible says it, you believe it. You are simply incapable of critically examining the bible.

          I have actually shown that the miracles described in the Gospels are
          historical via the Gospels document things actual eyewitnesses saw and
          heard in the life of Christ.

          No, you haven’t. You keep trying to treat the gospels as history books or journalism, when they’re neither. But I get it…it’s in the bible, so you accept it without question. And you’re unable to rationally respond to anyone that disagrees with that level of gullibility.

          Different claims have a different burden of proof depending on the
          nature of the claim being made. No they don’t. All claims just have a
          burden of proof that must simply be met in order to be accepted as true.

          So you’re a Mormon then? They have multiple witnesses who never recanted their testimony regarding the Book of Mormom, so it must be true. And you’ve got to believe in alien abductions…multiple accounts sharing many of the same details.

          Your claim that my pet dog died requires a lot less evidence than if I
          said my pet magically came back to life is bullshit. People may accept
          without question that your dog died and just simply take your word for
          it, which people often do, but that doesn’t mean that’s all the evidence
          that is there.

          As per usual, you miss the point. Saying that my dog died is inherently more believable because it is a mundane claim. But based on your paltry standards for evidence, all I need to do is get four people to lie about it coming back to life, and you’ll accept that it must have happened because you’ve got four independent accounts verifying it.

          Contrary to your speculations, careful analysis and research has shown
          fairly conclusively that the gospels are in fact independent accounts.

          Actual analysis and research has shown that you are completely wrong. Of course, since your definition of “independent” can include dependent works, it’s more than fair to that your definition is worthless.

          There is just no reason to suppose that the Gospel authors took creative
          liberties with the events they recorded, to the point of fabrication or
          outright plagiarism.

          Except the gospels aren’t history books or journalism. I think I see part of the problem…you mistakenly think that if you reword a story told by someone else with some additional details (manufactured or otherwise), you somehow have an account independent of the original source. That’s not how it works…if you got the story from another document, your version is dependent on the original.

          The authors of the gospels may have believed what they were writing was true. But that doesn’t make it true.

          On this point it should be added that since claims of anonymity are
          often put forward for the Gospels one has to ask how is it you suppose
          that “Matthew” and “Luke” would choose to use an anonymous document like
          Mark as a source?

          They might have known who the author was. The fact remains that we do not.

          “Mark” was considered authoritative enough to use not by just one, but by two others working independently of one another.

          But since they both relied upon Mark, they are, by definition, not independent. Thanks for admitting it.

          My point here is that there are more serious problems that defy reason with your position than you would care to admit

          The real point is that you ignore scholarship you don’t like, and you have no real argument. You just have faith based assertions.

        • Greg G.

          But I get it…it’s in the bible, so you accept it without question.

          Agabu is worse than that. I criticized Matthew’s genealogy where Matthew makes a big deal that there were three sets of 14 generations. The second set omits four generations that are in the OT genealogy and the last set lists only 13 generations unless the Exile is counted as a generation. He argued that 18 is OK because it is at least 14 and that the last guy in the second set should be counted again in the third set and didn’t retract it when I showed from the Bible where that person never returned from Babylon, making his Bible inerrancy insane. Agabu could just as easily be a Dodecatarian, as easily as a Trinitarian, by counting God, Jesus, and Casper the Friendly Ghost four times each, using his theory of numbers.

        • Dys

          Agabu is a self-hating biblical inerrantist. He most definitely is one, and it’s a faith-based position, but he also definitely doesn’t want to admit to being one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Its no different than someone today writing about the fall of the Berlin wall 25 years ago using eyewitness reports complemented by a standard work on the subject that has been in circulation for some time. This fact would still mean his work is independent even if he uses that work as a reference tool. In any case, the first verses of Luke 1 position him as independently looking into these matters.

          Who were the “eyewitness reports” from, and what was the “standard work on the subject” used by the author of Luke at the time that infer Luke used them?

          Between both these inferences you have demonstrated that you haven’t a clue what it means to be an independent account. Independent primary accounts, to use the technical term, do not use other sources. Using other sources makes them dependent secondary accounts and much less reliable to the historian. Luke is NOT an independent primary account for all the reasons being pointed out to you here and some, by more than one interlocutor on this site, including your own statements.

          Luke plagiarised previous work and we know he made his own shit up, it’s as simple as that.

        • Agabu

          Saying it with all the gusto you can muster, don’t make it so. Luke plagiarized? HA! This is a quite a low, even for you. But then again, you’re Ignorant Amos.

        • MNb

          And once again you demand evidence from others but don’t provide any evidence yourself. Special pleading all the way.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Saying it with all the gusto you can muster, don’t make it so.

          Spoinnnngty, spoiiingity, spoiiinng, spoing, spoing!

          That’s the sound of a bag of irony meters exploding.

          Luke plagiarized? HA! This is a quite a low, even for you. But then again, you’re Ignorant Amos.

          You are too fucking dumb for words. Everyone is an ignoramus ya moron, it’s knowing ones limits that counts, something you don’t understand.

          So, with that in mind. Let’s see what a Christian expert says, remembering that plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.

          Here is what Bible.org says about the subject, in case you try to assert a bias in my sources….

          It is quite impossible to hold that the three synoptic gospels were completely independent from each other. In the least, they had to have shared a common oral tradition. But the vast bulk of NT scholars today would argue for much more than that. There are four crucial arguments which virtually prove literary interdependence.

          https://bible.org/article/synoptic-problem

          By….

          Daniel B. Wallace has taught Greek and New Testament courses on a graduate school level since 1979. He has a Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and is currently professor of New Testament Studies at his alma mater.

          His Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Zondervan, 1996) has become a standard textbook in colleges and seminaries. He is the senior New Testament editor of the NET Bible. Dr. Wallace is also the Executive Director for the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

          But let’s go back a ways further than that….say to St. Augustine of Hippo in the 5th century.

          Augustine was the first author to give a detailed scholarly textual analysis of the three texts’ interdependence, and to articulate a theory for the express purpose of explaining this fact.

          Now fuck away off with your ignorant fuckwittery.

        • Agabu

          Sorry dude, literary interdependence isn’t plagiarism. It’s literary interdependence. Plagiarism is stealing someone else’s ideas and passing them off as your own in print. None of the Gospels do that sort of thing. All four Gospels compile and report their information using all the sources available to them using their own unique style of writing. Besides the sources you cite say “It is quite impossible to hold that the three synoptic gospels were completely independent from each other.” The point being they still possess a degree of independence, which has been my point all along. In that regard, they are independent accounts still.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah, good to see ya didn’t bother your arse with the source to which I linked.

          Sorry dude, literary interdependence isn’t plagiarism.

          It is if you are taking earlier ideas and passing them off as ones own. Which the gospels do. Often using the same verbiage.

          “One of the most persuasive arguments for the literary interdependence of the synoptic Gospels is the presence of identical parenthetical material, for it is highly unlikely that two or three writers would by coincidence insert into their accounts exactly the same editorial comment at exactly the same place.”

          It might help to understand what the word plagiarism means. Especially in antiquity.

          http://www.academia.edu/10228961/De_novis_libris_iudicia_Scott_McGill_Plagiarism_in_Latin_Literature._Cambridge_University_Press_Cambridge_New_York_2012

          Plagiarism is stealing someone else’s ideas and passing them off as your own in print.

          Partially right.

          The point being they still possess a degree of independence, which has been my point all along.

          Nope, now you are just lying. No one here would have argued the point with you had that been your original position. Baby Jesus is crying.

        • MNb

          The remarkable thing is that during Antiquity almost all educated people didn’t have any problem with plagiarism at all. Some christian intellectuals stressed this by remaining anonymous. For them the message was important; the messenger didn’t matter at all.
          Isn’t it funny how Agabu refuses to read his favourite Holy Book on its own terms?

        • Dys

          Literary interdependence isn’t independence. You’re changing definitions so you can try to avoid being wrong. No one was claiming that the gospels were copy/paste jobs of each other. And when people have pointed out that the synoptic gospels are interdependent, your previous replies were to deny it outright, play the self-defeating “you weren’t there” card, and baselessly assert that the gospels were completely independent of each other.

          So no, the gospels are not independent accounts in that regard. You’re just playing semantics so you can pretend to be right. Except the rest of your comments give the game away as complete BS.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Agabu is out of his depth here. And by fuck it doesn’t half show.

        • Agabu

          Whatever rocks your boat. The only thing you got are silly complaints.

        • Agabu

          You’ll just say anything to be right. You’re not. No definitions have been changed. But of course, that’s what works for you in order to maintain your nonsense so as to remain in your wretched unbelief.

        • Dys

          You’ve changed what you mean by independent, to literally say that interdependent accounts are independent of each other. You’re dishonest.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Luke for one tells us in abbreviated form who his sources were for his Gospel.

          And there you have it. In your own words and admission. Luke tell’s us he used sources and that means he was not, repeat NOT, independent ya cretin.

          That is known as being hoist by one’s own petard, scoring an own goal, shooting oneself in the foot, being a dumb ass pure and simple.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No one I know says they colluded, so that is a fine straw man you are whacking off.

          They contradict each other though. Even a dumb twat like me can see that.

          http://infidels.org/library/modern/paul_carlson/nt_contradictions.html

          But fortunately it isn’t just a dumb twat like me that is saying so.

          http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124572693

          Of course the art of biblical apologetics was conceived to address such issues and pretzelmania employed is hilarious. It wouldn’t be tolerated if applied to any other writing.

        • Agabu

          Please! They don’t contradict each other at all. Only lazy readers who exert no real effort to read the Gospels responsibly harp on about imaginary contradictions. When you don’t really care about the theological agenda of the Gospels, and are in fact opposed to or deny said agenda “contradictions” are seen everywhere even in places they don’t exist like in the two Geneaologies of Christ in Matthew and Luke. How can Joseph have two Father’s? O my God, contradiction!. Not! Just intellectual laziness and ineptitude.

        • Pofarmer

          Only lazy readers who exert no real effort to read the Gospels responsibly harp on about imaginary contradictions.

          So, Bart Ehrman then?

          When you don’t really care about the theological agenda of the Gospels,
          and are in fact opposed to or deny said agenda “contradictions” are seen
          everywhere even in places they don’t exist

          See, that’s just stupid, because what makes the Gospels interesting in their own right is seeing the theological differences inherent in them. Trying to mash them all together is just a tactic to hide these facts from view.

        • Agabu

          Yes, Bart Ehrman is. He may be a good textual critic, but he is terrible at interpreting Scripture. I’m not talking about mashing the Gospels all together. I’m talking about responsibly interpreting them in their own right and on their own terms. The alleged contradictions often disappear when one simply does this.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m not talking about mashing the Gospels all together.

          Which is what ya have to do to get Jesus last words in all the gospels to be Jesus last words.

          Early Christian’s did exactly that. Mashed the gospel’s together. Tatian’s Diatessaron springs to mind.

          And the school nativity of course. But let’s not tell the kiddie winkles, best not to confuse their young malleable minds with details.

          I’m talking about responsibly interpreting them in their own right and on their own terms.

          Ah, yes, let’s not parallel compare the gospels. That makes things a tad awkward and requires a plethora of excuses. You just want to deal with contradiction within the same authors work…right? How convenient.

          The alleged contradictions often disappear when one simply does this.

          Whaaaa? OFTEN disappear? Not ALWAYS disappear?

          But, but, but didn’t you say there are NO contradictions?

          Which is it Ag’s?

        • Greg G.

          Early Christian’s did exactly that. Mashed the gospel’s together. Tatian’s Diatessaron springs to mind.

          Paul D. has a recent article that mentions the Diatessaron and cites an example from David Carr where bits of Matthew 19:24-28, Mark 10:23-29, and Luke 18:24-49 were used.

          Reading the Fractures of Genesis: Noah’s Flood

          I think the gospels were written in a similar way using various sources but with more imagination.

        • Agabu

          You know what I mean. But for you, it’s just gotta fit into your inept way of thinking. Ignorant Amos indeed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Holy fuck…the “theological agenda” is not what is being discussed here ffs. We know that the gospels are all about a theological agenda, but theological agendas have nothing to do with them being history or accurate.

          If Jesus is God, or God’s son born of a virgin, then what ta fuck is any genealogy about? Theological mumbo jumbo in order to get Jesus to a descendant of David in order to fulfil prophecy…we get it, you apparently do not.

          When Matt wrote his list for his audience and Luke wrote his list for his audience, the detail was less important than the story. They hardly expected their writings to become what they did become 2,000 years later, let alone be compared to someone else’s list for comparison of detail. The eventual apologetic to try and square the discrepancies would not have been a consideration to the authors at the time writing independent of each other using a common source for inspiration.

        • Agabu

          It’s really interesting how you try to think for the Gospel authors. You don’t accept their message, but somehow you know what was more or less important to them. How you know that the eventual apologetic to try and square (your alleged) discrepancies would not have been a consideration to the authors at the time writing independent of each other using a common source for inspiration with zero evidence escapes me.

        • MNb

          “It’s really interesting how you try to think for the Gospel authors.”
          Silly Agabu loves to remain silly.
          During that time constructing genealogies was a wide spread hobby. Many Romans claimed to descend from Romus, Heracles or whatever mythological hero they fancied. The two genealogies in the Gospels belong to the same category and serve an obvious goal: to argue that Jesus was the rightful heir to jewish leadership.
          But you are so fond of your special pleading that you undoubtedly will answer that you don’t care for what the Romans did. It would rob you of course from the opportunity to throw around random wild accusations, which seems your main specialty.
          It makes you look silly.

        • Agabu

          Constructing geneaologies was a widespread hobby? O man, hehehe! An actual hobby? Why you don’t care about your family tree, and how may be Poseidon and Aphrodite are in there somewhere along the way? So the Romans did genealogies, so what? The Gospels give two geneaologies with the goal of showing that Jesus is indeed a descendant of David and thus the promised Messiah. Accept it or reject it. That’s the way it goes.

        • MNb

          ” So the Romans did genealogies, so what?”
          Thanks for making my prediction come true.

          [you undoubtedly will answer that you don’t care for what the Romans did.]

          “Accept it or reject it. That’s the way it goes.”
          Nope. It isn’t. It’s only the way it goes for special pleaders like you, not for folks who aspire to understand history.

        • Agabu

          You, aspiring to understand history? Give me a break. You’ve been busy gyrating and bending over backwards with rational pretensions.

        • MNb

          Coming from someone like you that’s a compliment.
          So thanks.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh my giddy aunt. If it had have been an important consideration then the two lists would not be so far out of kilter with each other.

          See here’s the problem. According to the overall story, Jesus was allegedly born of a virgin, so couldn’t be a literal descendent of David. Who is Jesus father?

          According to the stories, Joseph was not Jesus’ father, so any genealogy involving Joseph is moot. This only matters today because it shows the stories as being made up nonsense. It didn’t matter at the time, it wasn’t relevant. People were less interested in such details. Much like the fiction of today.

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

      You quote Gary Habermas saying, “Clearly, Jesus’ death by crucifixion is a historical fact supported by considerable evidence.” Your response to this is “The story does gradually became widespread, though this was long after the time of Jesus. That doesn’t make it “historical fact.” I don’t know what this is meant to prove.

      That the death by crucifixion is hardly historical fact. Maybe it happened, but the evidence Habermas puts forward enough to say that it was definitely historical fact.

      death by crucifixion is a historical fact supported by the considerable evidence of for instance four independent gospel accounts written within a generation of the events

      Four religious biographies written 40+ years after the supposed events makes it historical fact? You’ve got quite a generous attitude for your evidence. How much of the Mormon’s story do you accept? (Or do you have tougher criteria for them?)

      Yes, as you suspect, I’m saying that the gospel story is legend. We don’t know what of it is historical and what isn’t. I’ve written more on the legend point in another post. Let me know if you can’t find it.

      • Agabu

        “That the death by crucifixion is hardly historical fact. Maybe it happened, but the evidence Habermas puts forward enough to say that it was definitely historical fact. “
        The fact is there’s nothing in the crucifixion that is foreign to the way these things happened then. There’s nothing in history that disputes it.

        “Four religious biographies written 40+ years after the supposed events makes it historical fact? You’ve got quite a generous attitude for your evidence. How much of the Mormon’s story do you accept? (Or do you have tougher criteria for them?)”
        Nope! The four Gospels document it, and therefore confirm its historicity. Mormonism claims are irrelevant here. The Gospels stand or fall on their own merits.

        “Yes, as you suspect, I’m saying that the gospel story is legend. We don’t know what of it is historical and what isn’t. I’ve written more on the legend point in another post. Let me know if you can’t find it.”
        Then you gotta explain how this legend could develop so quickly within a generation while many eyewitnesses were still around with zero evidence for so many other different versions or adaptations vying for people’s attention. While you’re at it, give me an example of a legend in ancient times that developed that quickly in some 40 plus years without so much as competing versions or adaptations.

        • MNb

          “Mormonism claims are irrelevant here. The Gospels stand or fall on their own merits.”
          Yeah yeah, we already know how much you love your special pleading and hence refuse to apply your method to other cases.

          “Then you gotta explain how this legend could develop so quickly within a generation.”
          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Human imagination. Legends regarding 9/11 developed within a week.
          Oh wait, my bad. You’re the champ of special pleading. How legends could develop regarding 9/11 is irrelevant here. It must stand on its own merits or something similarly void.
          Consistency and coherence are your enemy.

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

          Rule of thumb: if the story has insanely unbelievable elements to it (like a resurrection from the dead, just to take a random example), the entire story is suspect.

          “Four religious biographies written 40+ years after the supposed events makes it historical fact? You’ve got quite a generous attitude for your evidence. How much of the Mormon’s story do you accept? (Or do you have tougher criteria for them?)”
          Nope! The four Gospels document it, and therefore confirm its historicity. Mormonism claims are irrelevant here.

          The Mormon claims are very relevant as a test of your stance. You accept the flabby claims of Christianity? Fair enough—then show us that you accept the far-better-attested Mormon claims.

          I’ve made a handy list so you’ll know how to defend your new religion here.

          Then you gotta explain how this legend could develop so quickly within a generation while many eyewitnesses were still around with zero evidence for so many other different versions or adaptations vying for people’s attention.

          Huh? You can find a story in the newspaper today that got a story from yesterday wrong, and you’re puzzled at how 40 years of oral history in a primitive culture could grow?

          Read more on Jesus as legend here.

          As for the Naysayer Hypothesis (“If the gospels were wrong, people were there to correct it! :-)”), I tear that apart here.

          While you’re at it, give me an example of a legend in ancient times that developed that quickly in some 40 plus years without so much as competing versions or adaptations.

          Huh again? You’re amazed that we have just one Jesus story? In the first place, we don’t. The 4 gospels record slightly different stories (only Matthew has the zombies, for example). Even more so, we evidence of radically different Christianities that were suppressed or that died out—the Ebionites, Marcionites, Gnostics. And if the question is why don’t we have more information (or why aren’t those thriving sects within Christianity today), the different groups weren’t happy with the others. You know what “heretic” means, right?

        • Greg G.

          It’s not just 4 gospels, either. It seems that making up gospels has been a going concern for centuries.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Gospels#Apocrypha_and_pseudepigrapha

          Apocrypha and pseudepigrapha[edit]

          Gnostic gospels[edit]

          Main article: Gnostic Gospels
          Gospel of Thomas – possibly proto-Gnostic; 1st to mid 2nd century; collection of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus, 31 of them with no parallel in the canonical gospels
          Gospel of Marcion – 2nd century; potentially an edited version of the Gospel of Luke or a document which predates Luke (see: Marcionism)
          Gospel of Basilides – composed in Egypt around 120 to 140 AD; thought to be a gnostic gospel harmony of the canonical gospels
          Gospel of Truth (Valentinian) – mid 2nd century; departed from earlier gnostic works by admitting and defending the physicality of Christ and his resurrection.
          Gospel of the Four Heavenly Realms – mid 2nd century; thought to be a gnostic cosmology, most likely in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples.
          Gospel of Mary – 2nd century
          Gospel of Judas – 2nd century
          Greek Gospel of the Egyptians – second quarter of the 2nd century
          Gospel of Philip
          Pseudo-Gospel of the Twelve – A Syriac language gospel titled the Gospel of the Twelve. This work is shorter than the regular gospels and seems to be different from the lost Gospel of the Twelve.[1]
          Gospel of Perfection – 4th century; an Ophite poem that is only mentioned once by a single patristic source, Epiphanius[2] and is referred to once in the 6th century Gospel of the Infancy
          The Gospel of the Lots of Mary – 6th century.

          Jewish-Christian gospels[edit]

          Main article: Jewish-Christian gospels
          Gospel of the Hebrews
          Gospel of the Nazarenes
          Gospel of the Ebionites
          Gospel of the Twelve

          Infancy gospels[edit]
          Armenian Infancy Gospel[citation needed]
          Protoevangelium of James
          Libellus de Nativitate Sanctae Mariae (Gospel of the Nativity of Mary)
          Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew
          History of Joseph the Carpenter
          Infancy Gospel of Thomas
          Latin Infancy Gospel (Arundel 404)[citation needed]
          Syriac Infancy Gospel

          Other gospels[edit]
          Gospel of the Lots of Mary (Coptic collection of 37 oracles; ca. A.D. 500)[3]

          Partially preserved gospels[edit]
          Gospel of Peter

          Fragmentary preserved gospels[α][edit]
          Gospel of Eve – mentioned only once by Epiphanius circa 400, who preserves a single brief passage in quotation.
          Gospel of Mani – 3rd century – attributed to the Persian Mani, the founder of Manichaeism.
          Gospel of the Saviour (also known as the Unknown Berlin gospel) – highly fragmentary 6th-century manuscript based on a late 2nd- or early 3rd-century original. A dialogue rather than a narrative; heavily Gnostic in character in that salvation is dependent upon possessing secret knowledge.
          Coptic Gospel of the Twelve – late 2nd century Coptic language work – although often equated with the Gospel of the Ebionites, it appears to be an attempt to re-tell the Gospel of John in the pattern of the Synoptics; it quotes extensively from John’s Gospel.

          Reconstructed gospels[β][edit]
          Secret Gospel of Mark – suspect: the single source mentioning it is considered by many to be a modern forgery, and it disappeared before it could be independently authenticated.
          Gospel of Matthias

          Lost gospels[edit]
          Gospel of Cerinthus – ca. 90–120 AD – according to Epiphanius[4] this is a Jewish gospel identical to the Gospel of the Ebionites and, apparently, a truncated version of Matthew’s Gospel according to the Hebrews.
          Gospel of Apelles – mid-to-late 2nd century; a further edited version of Marcion’s edited version of Luke.
          Gospel of Valentinus[5]
          Gospel of the Encratites[6]
          Gospel of Andrew – mentioned by only two 5th-century sources (Augustine and Pope Innocent I) who list it as apocryphal.[7]
          Gospel of Barnabas – not to be confused with the 16th century pro-Moslem work of the same name; this work is mentioned only once, in the 5th century Decree of Gelasius which lists it as apocryphal.
          Gospel of Bartholomew – mentioned by only two 5th-century sources which list it as apocryphal.[8]
          Gospel of Hesychius – mentioned only by Jerome and the Decree of Gelasius that list it as apocryphal.[9]
          Gospel of Lucius[9] – mentioned only by Jerome and the Decree of Gelasius that list it as apocryphal.
          Gospel of Merinthus[10] – mentioned only by Epiphanius; probably the Gospel of Cerinthus, and the confusion due to a scribal error.
          An unknown number of other Gnostic gospels not cited by name.[11]
          Gospel of the Adversary of the Law and the Prophets[12]
          Memoirs of the Apostles – Lost narrative of the life of Jesus, mentioned by Justin Martyr. The passages quoted by Justin may have originated from a gospel harmony of the Synoptic Gospels composed by Justin or his school.

          Fragments of possibly unknown or lost (or existing) gospels[α][edit]
          Papyrus Egerton 2 – late 2nd-century manuscript of possibly earlier original; contents parallel John 5:39–47, 10:31–39; Matt 1:40–45, 8:1–4, 22:15–22; Mark 1:40–45, 12:13–17; and Luke 5:12–16, 17:11–14, 20:20–26, but differ textually; also contains incomplete miracle account with no equivalent in canonical Gospels
          Fayyum Fragment – a fragment of about 100 Greek letters in 3rd century script; the text seems to parallel Mark 14:26–31
          Oxyrhynchus Papyri – Fragments #1, 654, & 655 appear to be fragments of Thomas; #210 is related to MT 7:17–19 and LK 6:43–44 but not identical to them; #840 contains a short vignette about Jesus and a Pharisee not found in any known gospel, the source text is probably mid 2nd century; #1224 consists of paraphrases of Mark 2:17 and Luke 9:50
          Gospel of Jesus’ Wife – 4th century at the earliest.
          Papyrus Berolinensis 11710 – 6th-century Greek fragment, possibly from an apocrpyhal gospel or amulet based on John.
          Papyrus Cairensis 10735 – 6th–7th century Greek fragment, possibly from a lost gospel, may be a homily or commentary.
          Papyrus Merton 51 – Fragment from apocryphal gospel or a homily on Luke 6:7.
          Strasbourg Fragment – Fragment of a lost gospel, probably related to Acts of John.

          Medieval gospels[edit]
          Gospel of the Seventy – a lost 8th–9th-century Manichean work
          Gospel of Nicodemus – a post 10th-century Christian devotional work (or works) in many variants. The first section is highly dependent upon the 5th century “Acts of Pilate”
          Gospel of Barnabas – a 16th-century harmony of the four canonical gospels, probably of Spanish (Morisco) origin, or possibly Italian

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

      Use paragraphs.

      It took many decades of adaptations before Merlin became the wizard of Arthurian legend we know him as today.

      Say it took not decades but just a week. Would you believe the Merlin story then? Or would the supernatural elements make you skeptical?

      You don’t build arguments on ignorance.

      Then, since we don’t have reliable information about the deaths of the apostles, don’t tell me that they died proclaiming the truth of the gospel story.

      It’s already a matter of record that Christians were experiencing severe persecution from beatings, confiscation of property, beheadings, imprisonments, being fed to wild animals to crucifixions in the first century.

      Uh huh. Which does nothing to support the supernatural claims.

      New Testament scholars have an enormous amount of ancient manuscript evidence.

      Been there, trashed that. Let me know if you can’t find the post where I talk about the 25,000 manuscripts.

      For an anonymous author to have penned a Gospel, and have it accepted as from the hand of one of the Quartet or any authoritative person

      Read a little more widely and see how the scholars dismantle this claim.

      2 Peter might’ve come from the Petrine school, but it wasn’t written by Peter. The epistles of John likewise weren’t written by the author of the gospel of John. A well-loved gospel of unknown (or uninteresting) authorship could easily have its “authorship” change over time.

      Can you explain how these logistic difficulties were overcome?

      Can you show me how this kind of authorship mixup is impossible?

      never get down to the specifics of how Joe Gentile could have managed to pull off such a hoax

      Who said it was a hoax? I mean, besides you and apologists eager to deceive?

      • Agabu

        “Say it took not decades but just a week. Would you believe the Merlin story then? Or would the supernatural elements make you skeptical?”
        In answer to your thought experiment, that would depend on the lines of evidence for it. In any case, the simple fact of reality is there’s just no way the Merlin story would be fully submerged in the legend, presented with many of the fantastical elements we’re familiar with in a week. Ancient myths and legends evolved naturally and instinctively, passed along by word of mouth, from person to person and from generation to generation until it had been told and retold millions of times and existed in a hundred different versions. This is just not the case with the contents of the Gospels. You insist on being skeptical towards all of those supernatural elements included in the Gospels because they just obviously couldn’t be true. The problem here is that you start with the conclusion and then work backwards.

        “Then, since we don’t have reliable information about the deaths of the apostles, don’t tell me that they died proclaiming the truth of the gospel story.”
        We do have reliable information. All you have are doubts and claims of ignorance. You discount the evidence on the pretext that since it comes from the Church, we can’t trust it because, you know, bias. Which is more likely, Christians preserving this information in these matters or non Christians with no interest in Christian concerns doing so? My reference to the persecution of Christians had nothing to do with trying to support supernatural claims but to establish the plausibility of the apostles dying for their faith. Bob, shifting the goalposts now?

        Read a little more widely and see how the scholars dismantle this claim.
        2 Peter might’ve come from the Petrine school, but it wasn’t written by Peter. The epistles of John likewise weren’t written by the author of the gospel of John. A well-loved gospel of unknown (or uninteresting) authorship could easily have its “authorship” change over time.
        Give me an example of a scholar who “dismantles” the claim and whose views on the matter are widely accepted even by his or her scholarly opponents instead of giving me some nebulous read more widely mere assertion. As for 2 Peter not being written by Peter or the epistles of John not being written by John, really? That’s just crazy talk. You seem to confuse doubts about authorship with actual evidence these are in fact not the authors. Claiming authorship could have easily changed over time isn’t evidence that it did change. Now that’s just speculation.

        “Can you show me how this kind of authorship mixup is impossible?”
        Really? Sorry but this is your burden to prove, because it’s your claim and not mine. Give actual evidence of how this may have happened with considerable scholarly support to boot for your position. And you still gotta answer the questions I posed to you about, which really greatly undermine your your speculations about authorship mix-ups.

        • MNb

          “This is just not the case with the contents of the Gospels.”
          You do enjoy your blinkers, don’t you?

          “The problem here is that you start with the conclusion and then work backwards.”
          Almost correct. The problem is that we rely on the scientific method and Hume’s philosophy that grounds it. Both have a serious problem with supernatural explanations indeed.
          The other problem is yours – your method consists of special pleading, no matter how often you deny it; you insist on applying your method to one and one subject only (namely the NT). That method has been shown totally unreliable. You confirm that over and over again.

          “Give me an example of a scholar who “dismantles” the claim….. As for 2 Peter not being written by Peter”
          Here you are:

          http://www.willibrordbijbel.nl/?p=page&i=71334,71334

          “Introduction to the Second Letter of Petrus.

          ….
          The letter is inspired by the Letter of Judas. It must have been written at the beginning of the Second Century. Where it has been written is anyone’s guess.”

          This is the Dutch translation of the Bible authorized by the Vatican. Those guys aren’t exactly stupid. Neither are they atheists. Still according to you they produce “crazy talk”. Hmmmmm, given your comment history it looks more likely to me that the crazy talk is entirely yours.

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

          Ancient myths and legends evolved naturally and instinctively, passed along by word of mouth, from person to person and from generation to generation until it had been told and retold millions of times and existed in a hundred different versions.

          Yes.

          This is just not the case with the contents of the Gospels.

          It’s exactly what happened to the gospels. Jesus dies in 30CE, and 40 years elapse before the first is written. And then, years later, the others. They’re simply snapshots of the beliefs of the church in that particular time in Rome, Alexandria, Damascus, or wherever.

          You insist on being skeptical towards all of those supernatural elements included in the Gospels because they just obviously couldn’t be true. The problem here is that you start with the conclusion and then work backwards.

          My working hypothesis is that if it’s supernatural, it’s false. Maybe it’s true—I’d better check with those who declare that it is to see how good their arguments are.

          Not so crazy when you actually see how I do it, is it? In fact, I would imagine you’re just a teeny bit skeptical of supernatural claims from other religions. No?

          “Then, since we don’t have reliable information about the deaths of the apostles, don’t tell me that they died proclaiming the truth of the gospel story.”
          We do have reliable information.

          Jesus Christ, this isn’t hard. When there are multiple accounts of the deaths of many of the supposedly martyred inner circle, we don’t have reliable information.

          My reference to the persecution of Christians had nothing to do with trying to support super natural claims but to establish the plausibility of the apostles dying for their faith. Bob, shifting the goalposts now?

          Why should I? I can give that laughable claim a good thrashing.

          Give me an example of a scholar who “dismantles” the claim and whose views on the matter are widely accepted even by his or her scholarly opponents instead of giving me some nebulous read more widely mere assertion. As for 2 Peter not being written by Peter or the epistles of John not being written by John, really?

          ?? Look it up in Wikipedia. When you get your nose smacked by a rolled-up newspaper and then say, “Yeah, but Wikipedia isn’t necessarily right!” then follow up on the references.

          And you still gotta answer the questions I posed to you about, which really greatly undermine your your speculations about authorship mix-ups.

          Face your questions head-on? Heck, no! I’d rather face a firing squad than your very, very, very difficult questions.

        • Agabu

          “It’s exactly what happened to the gospels. Jesus dies in 30CE, and 40 years elapse before the first is written. And then, years later, the others. They’re simply snapshots of the beliefs of the church in that particular time in Rome, Alexandria, Damascus, or wherever.”

          Sorry but there isn’t enough time for any of this to happen. 40 years isn’t even worth two generations. The Church is still largely filled with first generation Christians who lived through the Christ event. The myth or legend hypothesis is a tenuous one. Snapshots of the beliefs of the Church? Ah, not so much. The Gospels constitute a new type of literature. Although they are set in history, they are not pure history. They contain biographical material, but they don’t give us a complete summary of the life of Christ. They’re not sufficiently didactic to be called the opinions of their writers. The chief purpose of the Gospels is to create faith in Christ on the part of their readers, who may or may not be believers. Nothing exactly like them can be found either in the OT, to which their writers referred frequently, or in the Hellenic and Roman literature contemporary with them.

          “My working hypothesis is that if it’s supernatural, it’s false. Maybe it’s true—I’d better check with those who declare that it is to see how good their arguments are.
          Not so crazy when you actually see how I do it, is it? In fact, I would imagine you’re just a teeny bit skeptical of supernatural claims from other religions. No?”

          Not a good hypothesis. Still working backwards with a predetermined conclusion. You don’t start with guilt. You presume innocence, until proven guilty. Your hypothesis is crazy and unfairly biased because it kinda undermines the whole follow the evidence wherever it leads. I hear claims about supernatural claims from other religions, I’d rather withhold judgment until all the facts are on the table to see if it is really so. That works best for the truly unbiased person.

          “Jesus Christ, this isn’t hard. When there are multiple accounts of the deaths of many of the supposedly martyred inner circle, we don’t have reliable information.”

          While not as much information has survived about the fates of the apostles with some cases giving differing accounts about the way they may have been killed, but there’s unanimity available from all the various sources, including the New Testament itself, apocryphal texts, early Christian historians, legends and lore that every single one of the apostles was martyred for their faith except for John. People may quibble about the manner of their martyrdom, but no one doubts that they were actually martyred

          .”Why should I? I can give that laughable claim a good thrashing.”

          Because you got nothing man. The only thing laughable is you patting yourself on the back while dreaming you’ve actually thrashed anything. Your piece is as hilarious as someone trying to thrash the wind with a stick thinking it’s gonna put a stop to it.

          “When you get your nose smacked by a rolled-up newspaper and then say, “Yeah, but Wikipedia isn’t necessarily right!” then follow up on the references”.

          Amazing how you believe your own crapiola. That echo chamber you’re in surely makes your voice sound so awesome hey?

          “Face your questions head-on? Heck, no! I’d rather face a firing squad than your very, very, very difficult questions.”

          Just as I suspected, you really got nothing except mere complaints and irrational doubts masquerading as healthy skepticism. But you’re fun to read, and a good reminder of why Christians have got nothing to fear from ineptly laid out “criticisms,” especially if they know their Bibles as well as they ought to.

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

          Sorry but there isn’t enough time for any of this to happen.

          This isn’t that A.N. Sherwin-White thing, is it? I destroy that here.

          And in the second place, a story can get seriously muddled in a single telling. Imagine if you told someone the entire gospel story. How long would that take you—an hour minimum, I’d think. And then they’re going to tell someone else without introducing major changes, just by memory? I suppose that’s conceivable, but it’s certainly not guaranteed.

          But 40 years? And you’re going to guarantee me that no story could be significantly changed as it spreads through a culture?!

          The Church is still largely filled with first generation Christians who lived through the Christ event.

          Oh, dear Lord. I slap the Naysayer Hypothesis silly here.

          The myth or legend hypothesis is a tenuous one.

          I know, right? I mean who’s ever heard of someone telling a long story to someone else imperfectly?

          12 Reasons Why Jesus Is a Legend

          Nothing exactly like them can be found either in the OT, to which their writers referred frequently, or in the Hellenic and Roman literature contemporary with them.

          Fabulous. And I should believe them as history . . . why?

          Not a good hypothesis. Still working backwards with a predetermined conclusion. You don’t start with guilt. You presume innocence, until proven guilty.

          Walk the walk. Tell me that you assume that every Muslim or Hindu miracle story is true first. As evidence trickles in, you’ll reconsider your initial assumption, but it’s true until proven false.

          And every cult miracle claim. And every ghost and UFO story. And every Bigfoot, Nessie, and other weird creature claim.

          Show me that you’re consistent.

          Your hypothesis is crazy and unfairly biased because it kinda undermines the whole follow the evidence wherever it leads.

          Let me tell you how we at the adult table do it. There is a null hypothesis, and we start there. Then we’re open minded enough to consider that that starting point may be wrong.

          You kids these days! I don’t know what nutty epistemology you’re using. But anyway, that’s how we do it.

          I hear claims about supernatural claims from other religions, I’d rather withhold judgment until all the facts are on the table to see if it is really so.

          You withhold judgment? You truly have no initial idea whether Hindu statues drink milk? It’s 50/50 for you? Or do you begin with a null hypothesis that miracles don’t exist?

          While not as much information has survived about the fates of the apostles with some cases giving differing accounts about the way they may have been killed

          Right. So we obviously can’t know their fate.

          That wasn’t hard, was it?

          there’s unanimity available from all the various sources, including the New Testament itself, apocryphal texts, early Christian historians, legends and lore that every single one of the apostles was martyred for their faith except for John.

          That so? Show me. Show me the sources that say this. The only one that I know is Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, from the 16th century, I believe. If that’s your source, you really need to reconsider if you want to lean on it.

          Need some help? I’ve written about that, too.

          People may quibble about the manner of their martyrdom, but no one doubts that they were actually martyred

          Many, many people doubt that they were martyred for that very reason! How thick are you? Because the stories are so wildly contradictory, the very premise is suspect.

          Your piece is as hilarious as someone trying to thrash the wind with a stick thinking it’s gonna put a stop to it.

          I await your response to that post will ill-concealed impatience.

          Just as I suspected, you really got nothing except mere complaints and irrational doubts masquerading as healthy skepticism. But you’re fun to read

          Fun to read? Not so fun to rebut, though, apparently.

        • Agabu

          Sorry if this seems a bit long.

          “This isn’t that A.N. Sherwin-White thing, is it? “

          No. I don’t know who that is.

          “a story can get seriously muddled in a single telling.”

          If you hear a story once, and are asked to retell it, most likely

          “Imagine if you told someone the entire gospel story. How long would that take you—an hour minimum, I’d think. And then they’re going to tell someone else without introducing major changes, just by memory? I suppose that’s conceivable, but it’s certainly not guaranteed.”

          In the way you put it, its not guaranteed. Things happened differently in that culture though. They were mechanisms in place that actually guaranteed the preservation of information deemed important.

          “ But 40 years? And you’re going to guarantee me that no story could be significantly changed as it spreads through a culture?”

          Yes my friend, there were great mechanisms which were such an integral part of that culture in place that were used that ensured that all future generations would receive the unadulterated truth about Jesus Christ.

          “Oh, dear Lord. I slap the Naysayer Hypothesis silly here. “

          The problem with your treatment is its lack of knowledge and understanding of how learning and education in Jewish society in first century A.D. occured.

          “I mean who’s ever heard of someone telling a long story to someone else imperfectly?”

          Yes people can tell stories imperfectly. But they can also tell a story accurately as well provided they are invested enough in it with the right reason and motivation to tell it properly and accurately for their intended audience. This is an anecdotal sidebar, but its worth passing on to you to show that cultures use every mechanism available to them to accurately preserve information they deem important or sacred. Back in a rural village in Zambia, which is a Sub Saharan African, country, I met a group of non college educated folks who committed to memory who books of the Bible in their local dialect, and could rehearse verbatim without changing anything from beginning to end. This phenomenon wasn’t unique to this area, but was a common practice among many Christian rural folks like them. The reverence they had for the Good Book ensured they worked at conveying it accurately without changing it.

          “Fabulous. And I should believe them as history . . . why? “

          Because the story was carefully preserved by an entire generation of people from different cultural backgrounds that included many who witnessed it, experienced it fand included also those that heard first hand from the ones that were entrusted and could be trusted with accurately propagating it in truth. I know that that may not completely set aside your doubts, which is fine as far as it goes, but it is only fair to give Gospel claims the benefit of the doubt unless proven otherwise by any hard facts that emerge.

          “Walk the walk. Tell me that you assume that every Muslim or Hindu miracle story is true first. As evidence trickles in, you’ll reconsider your initial assumption, but it’s true until proven false.
          And every cult miracle claim. And every ghost and UFO story. And every Bigfoot, Nessie, and other weird creature claim.
          Show me that you’re consistent.”
          .
          You seem to have misunderstood my use of legal language. Presuming innocence, isn’t equivalent to presuming truth. It’s equivalent to giving the claim the benefit of the doubt. This is why I said that I withhold judgment until all the facts are in. I neither conclude a claim’s falsity or truthfulness beforehand. Dismissing a claim without hearing it out and the evidence it may have is stupid. Believing it without evidence is credulous. Weighing and considering to see if it is so is prudent.

          “Let me tell you how we at the adult table do it. There is a null hypothesis, and we start there. Then we’re open minded enough to consider that that starting point may be wrong.
          You kids these days! I don’t know what nutty epistemology you’re using. But anyway, that’s how we do it.”

          Well this adult table should learn a thing or two from children who look first before they leap rather than jump around in circles where every act considered supernatural is null and void from the get go because of its improbability and rarity. Some grown ups forget that childhood glee and wonder of reaching out for the rare and improbable because the probable and regular points to it. Settling for the probable will leave you running around in circles. Every kid knows that gets dull and uninteresting fast because there’s nothing more to learn and be excited about.

          “You withhold judgment? You truly have no initial idea whether Hindu statues drink milk? It’s 50/50 for you? Or do you begin with a null hypothesis that miracles don’t exist? “

          Seriously, I’ve never thought about it. Do Hindu statues drink milk? I have no idea. I’ll have to look into it.

          “Show me. Show me the sources that say this. The only one that I know is Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, from the 16th century, I believe. If that’s your source, you really need to reconsider if you want to lean on it.”

          Most of the information about the deaths of the apostles is derived from early church traditions. While tradition is unreliable as to small details, it very seldom contains outright inventions. The tradition of apostles’ martyrdom goes back at least to the beginning of the third century. In his third commentary on Genesis, Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.) writes that the apostles divided up the work of evangelizing the world between them. Of course, Scholars debate as to where Origen picked up his information. Eusebius (260-341 A.D.) wrote perhaps the most complete history of the apostles, though he merely quoted other bishops for his authority. Are these sources reliable? Can we stand on the testimony of these early church fathers to make the case for these martyrdoms? We can, if we accept that in the first couple centuries of the church, much of the Christian story was passed on by word-of-mouth, and bishops of the church would guard these stories zealously—especially with heretical sects threatening the church. Admittedly though, the martyrdom of some of the apostles is more certain than others. For instance, historians don’t dispute the martyrdom of Peter, Paul, or James. Many of the other accounts have decent historic validity as well, but some raise the eyebrow and prompt agnosticism. However, when boiled down to their least common denominator, it is feasible to believe that all but one of the apostles suffered a martyr’s death, even if we can’t be sure of the exact details.

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

          “This isn’t that A.N. Sherwin-White thing, is it? “
          No. I don’t know who that is.

          He’s the source (via William Lane Craig) of the idea that oral history can’t lose the kernel of historic truth in 2 generations.

          “a story can get seriously muddled in a single telling.”
          If you hear a story once, and are asked to retell it, most likely

          Yep. And not much better if you hear 5 somewhat-similar versions from 5 different people.

          In the way you put it, its not guaranteed. Things happened differently in that culture though. They were mechanisms in place that actually guaranteed the preservation of information deemed important.

          So I tell the hour-long gospel story to you, and then you think it’s a great story, and you tell it to someone else a week later—that would be illegal or something?

          Yes my friend, there were great mechanisms which were such an integral part of that culture in place that were used with such skill and effectiveness that they ensured that all future generations would receive the unadulterated truth about Jesus Christ.

          Fascinating! I didn’t know that every single person had these “great mechanisms” at his disposal and that there were zero instances of transmission via what we’d call the gossip fence.

          One marvels at the boneheads in other cultures into whose stories legend did creep.

          The written records relied on memory that employed techniques that properly harnessed the powers of the mind with skill and ingenuity. The records themselves are filled with abbreviated phrasing, wordplay, repetition and the art of story telling so that every relevant thing about Christ could be easily remembered.

          Pardon me, but I am completely unconvinced that any human mechanism prevented legend from creeping into a story told all across the ANE over 40-70 years until written into the canonical gospels. Can you convince me? Or is this just a faith statement?

          “Oh, dear Lord. I slap the Naysayer Hypothesis silly here. “
          The problem with your treatment is its lack of knowledge and understanding of how learning and education in Jewish society in first century A.D. occured.

          Which does nothing to resolve the Naysayer Hypothesis.

          Yes people can tell stories imperfectly. But they can also tell a story accurately as well provided they are invested enough in it with the right reason and motivation to tell it properly and accurately for their intended audience.

          This faith statement is unconvincing. Suppose we took you right now into a room and demanded that you write down the gospel story. We gave you as much time as you wanted. How many imperfections would we find when we later compared it against the written gospels?

          I met a group of non college educated folks who committed to memory whole books of the Bible in their local dialect, and could rehearse verbatim without changing anything from beginning to end.

          Prove that that’s how every instance of the transmission of the gospel went in the first century, and I’m on board. Otherwise, you’ve got nothing.

          You’re actually imagining that someone would be sequestered while he memorized the gospel story so that he’d transfer it perfectly, first time every time? I’m envisioning instead someone hearing it once and telling a friend, “You gotta hear this!” No? Never happened?

          Because the story was carefully preserved by an entire generation of people from different cultural backgrounds that included many who witnessed it, experienced it and included also those that heard first hand from the ones that were entrusted and could be trusted with accurately propagating it in truth.

          So-o-o many mistakes.

          The scripture was preserved carefully. The New Testament writings in the first century and beyond weren’t scripture.

          We have no idea who wrote the gospels; your claim about eyewitnesses is unevidenced.

          it is only fair to give Gospel claims the benefit of the doubt unless proven otherwise by any hard facts that emerge.

          What does that mean? The gospels are full of the supernatural, and we’re to just assume that they’re true?

          Presuming innocence, isn’t equivalent to presuming truth.

          Innocence isn’t relevant to this conversation. We’re talking about the truth of documents.

          Dismissing a claim without hearing it out and the evidence it may have is stupid.

          Sathya Sai Baba (died 2011) is said to have been able to be in two places at once.

          Your initial judgment: true or false? Or are you saying, “Go-o-olly, I have no idea! I’ll just have to put this one aside until I can get serious evidence on both sides of this issue”?

          In my world, we have in many cases a null hypothesis that we start with—think of the null hypothesis in a criminal trial, for example.

          You’ll say that you’ll render judgment after you consider it, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

          Well this adult table should learn a thing or two from children who look first before they leap rather than jump around in circles where every act considered supernatural is null and void from the get go because of its improbability and rarity.

          I’m guessing we’re talking about different things. I fear that it might be deliberately different on your part.

          Yes, we evaluate it. Not what I’m talking about.

          Seriously, I’ve never thought about it. Do Hindu statues drink milk? I have no idea. I’ll have to look into it.

          Before you do so: what evaluation do you give this claim. Likely true? Likely false?

          Most of the information about the deaths of the apostles is derived from early church traditions. While tradition is unreliable as to small details, it very seldom contains outright inventions.

          Which is obviously not what I’m talking about.

          You said, “every single one of the apostles was martyred for their faith except for John.” The only place I’ve seen this is in Foxe (16th c.). I want you to justify your statement and tell us how reliable Foxe is, if that’s one of the sources you depend on for this statement.

          The tradition of apostles’ martyrdom goes back at least to the beginning of the third century.

          Yeah, Hippolytus, as I pointed out in the post. Close to 200 years after the fact is better than Foxe, I’ll admit, but not much.

          Eusebius (260-341 A.D.) wrote perhaps the most complete history of the apostles

          A poor source, scholars will tell you. FYI.

          Are these sources reliable? Can we stand on the testimony of these early church fathers to make the case for these martyrdoms? We can, if we accept that in the first couple centuries of the church, much of the Christian story was passed on by word-of-mouth, and bishops of the church would guard these stories zealously—especially with heretical sects threatening the church.

          Seriously? Don’t you see what your determination to stick to the party line is doing to you?

          The evidence is so weak that it can’t support anything. If you want to say that the apostles might have been killed for defending the gospel story, OK. But now the argument isn’t worth much.

          Admittedly though, the martyrdom of some of the apostles is more certain than others.

          When I said that before, you could’ve just said, “Yes, exactly” or something similar.

          historians don’t dispute the martyrdom of Peter, Paul, or James

          What does “martyrdom” mean here? Just that they were killed for being Christians? OK, though I’d wonder what the exact law they broke was (it wasn’t sedition or rabble rousing or being a pain in the ass?).

          it is feasible to believe that all but one of the apostles suffered a martyr’s death, even if we can’t be sure of the exact details.

          And I await something substantial, as noted above.

        • Agabu

          “Yep. And not much better if you hear 5 somewhat-similar versions from 5 different people.”

          Not at all Bob. This is such a simplistic way to think for someone like you committed to thinking through stuff. You’re better than that my friend. I think you underestimate how people are able to recall with precision highly significant events that change the world around them and/or their very lives. The Gospels codify material that is living, active, colourful, vivid, and engaging, and therefore easily amenable to remembering accurately especially when one hears it over and over again for many years across a generation.

          Notice for example the visual aids Jesus uses for His disciples in breaking bread as a symbol for His broken body and drinking wine as a symbol for His shed blood, and then that very night He dies broken in body and nailed to a cross with His blood spent. This is something that’s going to be unforgettable for the rest of one’s life if you’re living in that era, especially if you’re a disciple that loved and adored Him. It’s the equivalent of where were you and what were you doing when JFK got shot, or the day Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon or when the twin towers got destroyed on 9/11. Many people remember these sort of things vividly and precisely with no small amount of emotion. These things are indelibly etched on their minds as if they only happened yesterday. The memory of these world changing events are preserved by repetitively playing them out in their minds and telling it over and over to friends and family who may also have been part of the experience so that those that weren’t there can trust the testimony of many witnesses.

          There’s nothing forgettable about the events in the life of Christ, His teaching, His miracles, His death, and of course His resurrection and the numerous people He appeared to. How could Mary and Joseph ever forget caring and tending for a child that was so unusually born to them as parents complete with such dazzling sights and sounds of angels, shepherds, magi and a murderous king? Would you if you were in their shoes? The Gospels as a genre contain within them tried, tested and true memorization techniques characteristic of cultures that largely learned important things orally that accurately preserve core truths about the life and teaching of Christ:
          1. Creating associations between things (Matthew 26:26; Luke 24:30-31; John 13:3-11)
          2. Combining everything into one big picture with the Story Method (Matthew 1, Mark 1:1; Luke 1:1-4; John 1).
          3. Associating events with familiar locations. ( Matthew 2:1; Mark 5:1; 19:28-29; John 7:1)
          4. Associate certain things with the objects one needs to memorize (Matthew 8:16-17; Mark 1:1-5; John 2:1-11).
          5.Things that are easy to associate with numbers. (The Geneaology of Jesus in Matthew 1, the Twelve Apostles, the 10 Lepers, the Parable of the 10 virgins etc)
          6. Laying out the structure and making the flow of information more clear (Luke 1-1-4; John 20:31; Acts 1:1-3).
          7. Creating visual depictions of abstract things (Matthew 5:29-30; Mark 3:23-29; John 6:26-27).

          Think about it, if you see a man’s sight restored who from birth was totally blind and you knew about Him as a fixture at a place you frequented, how does one forget an itinerant Rabbi doing this sort of thing in such a public way ever even forty or so years later? Another example of a more mundane sort, the mere mention of the parable of the Good Samaritan, has anyone with a vested interest who’s read or heard it numerous times remember the events in the story with no embellishment, and all without having to open the Bible. This is typical of any Christian who seriously reads their Bible regularly. Now imagine a first century Jew and later Gentile converts to Christ and His way hearing that story orally not once or twice but several times over, over the course of the three year ministry of Christ, and His inner circle of followers retelling it after He’s gone for the next 15 or so years, would he or she really forget the story, let alone muddle it in retelling it to someone who never saw or heard Jesus personally especially if he or she had a very high regard for Jesus as the Christ the Son of God?

          In the Gospels Jesus Christ is very much a public figure. His miracles are performed publicly both in the sight of friend and foe. Notice that for thirty years of His life, He leads an ordinary and obscure life with zero fan fare. There are no miracles Jesus performs from birth to age thirty. If the Gospels were embellishing His life with supernatural signs, it sure is strange to leave such a huge chunk of Jesus life without any miracles whatsoever. Early Christians resoundingly rejected apocryphal gospels that tried to have Jesus performing miracles as a child. Those gospels are guilty of real embellishment. Not so much the four Gospels.

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

          I think you underestimate how people are able to recall with precision highly significant events that change the world around them and/or their very lives.

          Oh? Show me. Handwaving won’t do it.

          As for memory, let’s keep in mind that a vivid memory and an accurate memory are very much not the same thing. Read some of my posts on memory.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/09/human-memory-vivid-doesnt-mean-accurate/

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/11/fallible-memories-and-the-development-of-legend/

          At best you’re saying that the gospels could have made it through decades of oral history intact. OK. Now show me that they did.

          Notice for example the visual aids Jesus uses for His disciples in breaking bread as a symbol for His broken body and drinking wine as a symbol for His shed blood, and then that very night He dies broken in body and nailed to a cross with His blood spent. This is something that’s going to be unforgettable for the rest of one’s life if you’re living in that era, especially if you’re a disciple that loved and adored Him.

          It’s a story. You seem to have turned it into history.

          It’s the equivalent of where were you and what were you doing when JFK got shot, or the day Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon or when the twin towers got destroyed on 9/11.

          Vivid vs. accurate.

          These things are indelibly etched on their minds as if they only happened yesterday.

          Which is absolutely the reverse of what memory researchers tell us. But perhaps you can prove your point. Go.

          There’s nothing forgettable about the events in the life of Christ, His teaching, His miracles, His death, and of course His resurrection and the numerous people He appeared to.

          It’s a story. You say it’s history? Show me.

        • Agabu

          “Oh? Show me. Hand-waving won’t do it.
          As for memory, let’s keep in mind that a vivid memory and an accurate memory are very much not the same thing.”

          There’s no hand-waving away anything here. Defaulting to flashbulb memory is your attempt at trying to hand-wave the facts I’ve already outlined. Your argument may work only if all the Gospels rely on a single individual’s memories. But they don’t. Appealing to the difference between a vivid memory and an accurate memory only serves to muddle the issue, because you can’t even pick any passage from the Gospels that shows or exemplifies this sort of difference. Cutting and pasting the ordinary stuff from the extraordinary stuff won’t do. It’s clarity and detail wont allow it. I already gave you in brief seven ways the Gospels show us accurately passed on knowledge about Christ by the way things are stated in them. Your article on vivid and accurate memory isn’t applicable.

          “At best you’re saying that the gospels could have made it through decades of oral history intact. OK. Now show me that they did.”

          No, I’m saying they did make through the years of oral history intact pointing to features that illustrate memory dynamics that virtually guarantee the accuracy of the Gospels besides the divine characteristics they also show. It should be noted that there is no consensus on dating for any of the Gospels, just ranges. The conservative range for Mark is around 50 A.D. on wards not 70 A.D. like you suggest. The 50s A.D. range is eminently defensible. A. T. Robinson, a liberal, actually argues for dating the entire New Testament before 70 A.D. The late dating of the NT books is based on presuppositions, not evidence.

          “It’s a story. You seem to have turned it into history.”

          The irony here is that you’re the one actually turning something historical into just a story. This isn’t a rebuttal, but cavalier dismissal that doesn’t deal with the issue. Anyone can do this. I can do this, and just say its just a story and be self satisfied about it and pretend I’ve achieved something.

          Vivid vs. accurate.

          Not at all. Vivid as well as accurate. Reasons being Jesus ministry happened over a span of more than three years thus giving it a familiarity that made remembering anything about Him easily accurate. Jesus often met tangible needs that people easily made sense of. A careful reading of the Gospels reveals that He just did not work crowds into altered states of consciousness, use the mob mentality for His own ends, exploit expectations or take advantage of people’s suggestibility.

          Which is absolutely the reverse of what memory researchers tell us. But perhaps you can prove your point. Go.

          The Gospels hardly contain merely vivid recollections. While modern studies reveal that in flashbulb memories we recall the experience of learning about an event, not the factual details of the event itself. The Gospels focus more on the Christ event itself than any witness learning about Christ and the circumstances surrounding that learning, and as such your vivid vs accurate thing just doesn’t work here. It may work for one isolated individual not for every individual in the account.

          It’s a story. You say it’s history? Show me.

          First saying it’s a story is a mere assertion that lacks any support. I don’t say its history. I treat it as history because there are good reasons to do so from an analysis of the Gospels themselves as well as what Scholars concede about them.
          1. ‘Gospel’ constitutes a genre all its own, a surprising novelty in the literature of the ancient world.
          2. The Gospels seek to faithfully transmit, retell, explain, interpret and elaborate on the significance of the person of Christ.
          3. Historians subject the gospels to critical analysis, because they actually lend themselves to this sort of thing.
          4. Almost all scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed
          5. Critical scholars have developed a number of criteria to evaluate the probability, or historical authenticity, of an attested event or saying represented in the gospels.
          6. Scholars use textual criticism to determine which gospel variants could theoretically be taken as ‘original’.
          7. The Gospels use independent sources for the information contained within them. Matthew and Luke possess a degree of independence as accounts because they contain information within that is unique to them. John and Mark are completely independent accounts.

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

          There’s no hand-waving away anything here. Defaulting to flashbulb memory is your attempt at trying to hand-wave the facts I’ve already outlined.

          I didn’t refer to flashbulb memories, nor will I. The idea that a powerful situation creates a vivid and accurate memory is not widely accepted, if I understand the work of Elizabeth Loftus.

          Your argument may work only if all the Gospels rely on a single individual’s memories.

          ?? You are the one with the argument. You’re saying that the story might have passed through decades of oral history intact. And I agree. I think it’s very unlikely, especially given that it’s full of the supernatural, but it’s possible.

          Ball’s in your court.

          Scanning through the rest, it looks like you’re simply doubling down on your previous argument. You point to the gospel story as if it’s history. Yes, I realize that showing that it’s history is very difficult. Not my problem.

          You argue that some sort of mechanism allowed the gospel to survive the oral history period. Show me that this is the widely held of New Testament scholars (no, not just conservative scholars).

          You’ve given the usual early dating of Mark, a minority view. Doesn’t bother me. 20 years or 70—the oral history problem remains.

          More uninformative assertions …

          I’d be fascinated to see you take this flabby, low-bar-of-evidence approach to some other religion.

        • Agabu

          “I didn’t refer to flashbulb memories, nor will I. The idea that a powerful situation creates a vivid and accurate memory is not widely accepted, if I understand the work of Elizabeth Loftus.”

          Let’s be clear about this first. The Gospels don’t exist because they’re as a result of a merely powerful situation. The Gospels exist because of what some ordinary people saw and heard concerning Jesus Christ in the ordinary course of events, which also included a blaze of supernatural signs and wonders. “Without independent corroboration, we can’t really know for sure if a memory is true or false,” says Elizabeth Loftus. The story of Christ passes this test decisively because it’s been passed on to us via independent sources that the Gospel accounts drew on thereby providing us with independent corroboration. Human memory is malleable. Inaccuracies creep in: through imperfect perception, or biased inferences or conflation with details from other events. But we’re also still very capable of remembering things accurately. The fact is, the Gospels especially when talking about the same events don’t suffer from inaccuracies through imperfect perception, or biased inferences or conflation with details from other events. All four Gospels talk about the death of Christ and His resurrection. There’s no evidence of imperfect perception, or biased inferences or conflation with details from other events. There’s virtual agreement about when and how the events unfolded. There’s no Jesus is alive because I dreamed about Him, or I had a vision of Him therefore He is alive. There’s we saw, heard and touched Him for real over the course of days.

          “?? You are the one with the argument. You’re saying that the story might have passed through decades of oral history intact. And I agree. I think it’s very unlikely, especially given that it’s full of the supernatural, but it’s possible.
          Ball’s in your court.”

          I’m not saying the story might have passed through decades of oral history intact. I’m saying the story did pass through years of oral history intact. A careful and proper analysis of the Gospels reveals this. Using the presence of the supernatural in the story to discount the story is a problem of presuppositions, not evidence. The fact is we just don’t have competing versions of the story of Christ from the first century that give us one story that has a miracle working Jesus and another that is bereft of them. All four Gospels give us the same portrait of Christ in all His natural and supernatural glory.

          “Scanning through the rest, it looks like you’re simply doubling down on your previous argument. You point to the gospel story as if it’s history. Yes, I realize that showing that it’s history is very difficult. Not my problem.”

          I’m not pointing to the Gospel story as if it’s history, and neither am I asking you to treat it as if its history. The Gospels are historical by their own accounts and would have us treat them on those terms. The Gospel story in them is told with an identifiable context, cultural background and historical milieu. A critical analysis of the story simply seeks to find out whether the story generally comports with facts we know about the era the story is set in.

          “You argue that some sort of mechanism allowed the gospel to survive the oral history period. Show me that this is the widely held of New Testament scholars (no, not just conservative scholars).”

          Jewish culture largely passed on information orally and people relied on accurate memorization of important things. The Scriptures were often publicly read out loud in synagogues and/or churches. First century Christians dedicated themselves to the witness and teaching of the apostles (Acts 2:42), a group consisting of people that had actually traveled with Jesus—from the time he was baptized by John the baptist until the day he was taken from them. They were all witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. The simple truth is oral tradition benefited transmission of cultural values and first-hand historical events in a way that made listeners more active participants in receiving information. This helped people retain what they learned and generated individuals who were capable of continuing these oral traditions. The use of oral tradition as a means of passing along stories and histories kept the human element intact within the events that occurred. It granted a first-person perspective or a collective look at the conditions of a people during a specific period and related details that created emotional responses among listeners.

          “You’ve given the usual early dating of Mark, a minority view. Doesn’t bother me. 20 years or 70—the oral history problem remains.”

          The dating of Mark is a range, and not about consensus. The so-called oral history problem isn’t a problem. It may pose a problem for your accepting the message but it is well-grounded in the discipline of biblical criticism.

          ‘More uninformative assertions …”

          ?? One could say the same thing about your dismissals, but the issues remain.

          “I’d be fascinated to see you take this flabby, low-bar-of-evidence approach to some other religion.”

          It remains interesting to me that you constantly run for cover to other religions when they’re really not the issue. That is just the way it is. Other religions make their own peculiar claims and have different contexts that have to be judged by their own merits within their own cultural and historical framework. I have no reason to speak to Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu or whatever other religion. The onus is on the adherents of those faiths to explain and defend their worldviews, and not on me. As for you, the use of this tactic is an evasive manouvre that is bound to confuse categories and take away from a proper analysis of Christian claims. As such, it is your vantage point that ultimately uses a ‘flabby, low bar of evidence approach.’

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

          The Gospels exist because of what some ordinary people saw and heard concerning Jesus Christ in the ordinary course of events, which also included a blaze of supernatural signs and wonders.

          Ah—much simpler. Simply assuming your conclusion does shorten the argument.

          The story of Christ passes this test decisively because it’s been passed on to us via independent sources that the Gospel accounts drew on thereby providing us with independent corroboration.

          The Book of Mormon includes testimony from 3 men and then 8 men who saw the golden plates. That’s far more reliable evidence than something written 2000 years ago for which we only have copies of copies. I assume you’re on board with these Mormon claims?

          we’re also still very capable of remembering things accurately.

          But how do you know? How do you tell them apart?

          I’m not saying the story might have passed through decades of oral history intact. I’m saying the story did pass through years of oral history intact.

          Without evidence. Yes, I understand that.

          Using the presence of the supernatural in the story to discount the story is a problem of presuppositions, not evidence.

          Experience has shown all the rest of us that supernatural elements in a story is a clue that it’s bullshit. I’ll accept that you’re the lone holdout when you apply that to other religions’ supernatural claims.

          The fact is we just don’t have competing versions of the story of Christ from the first century that give us one story that has a miracle working Jesus and another that is bereft of them.

          Your argument is poorly documented and you’re bragging about that?

          Yes, it’s from the first century. Of course there will be little written about it.

          I’m not pointing to the Gospel story as if it’s history, and neither am I asking you to treat it as if its history.

          One wonders then why you’re so confident if the evidence you’re sifting through isn’t history.

          Jewish culture largely passed on information orally and people relied on accurate memorization of important things.

          So then no one simply heard the gospel story and then ran off to tell it to someone else. Ever. Once they heard the marvelous tale, they were sequestered for a month until they could prove that they’d memorized the one, correct version.

          Prove it.

          The Scriptures were often publicly read out loud in synagogues and/or churches.

          ?? The New Testament wasn’t Scripture!

          It remains interesting to me that you constantly run for cover to other religions when they’re really not the issue.

          Your lack of consistency is the issue. You propose ridiculously gullible rules that no one (and, here’s the punch line: including you) uses to evaluate the other guy’s religion.

          Sathya Sai Baba (d. 2011) cured himself of a stroke with healing magic and could be in two places at once. Believe that.

        • Agabu

          “Ah—much simpler. Simply assuming your conclusion does shorten the argument. “

          No conclusions have been assumed from my end, you already admitted to doing just that yourself in saying, “My hypothesis is if it’s supernatural, it’s false.”

          “The Book of Mormon includes testimony from 3 men and then 8 men who saw the golden plates. That’s far more reliable evidence than something written 2000 years ago for which we only have copies of copies. I assume you’re on board with these Mormon claims?”

          So it does. I’m not convinced, that story has very serious problems. Mormons try to claim a link to first century Christianity almost 2000 years removed from that era on that back of Joseph Smith’s visions via angelic visitations that no one else saw but him except claims about having golden plates. I don’t take Mormonism seriously for that reason. The four Gospels utilized eyewitness testimony from hundreds of disciples whose core witnesses to the resurrection were the twelve apostles who traveled with Jesus from the time He was baptized by John until the day He died, rose again on the third day and then appeared to hundreds of them over a 40 day period til the day He ascended back into heaven. We got no visions or isolated individuals claiming some special angelic visitation that couldn’t be confirmed by anyone else. The Gospels offer far more credible and substantial evidence than the Mormon mirage. Your copies of copies thing isn’t a rebuttal. It’s a cop out.

          “But how do you know? How do you tell them apart? “

          I already explained this. We know this by analyzing the contents of the Gospels. Evidence of memory techniques which preserve core truths about Christ as a line of evidence are discernible in the texts. Beyond that, critical analysis of the Gospels also yields an understanding of their structural complexity. different original audience, distinct writing styles and purposes for writing. Their unique and distinct approaches to the Gospel story coalesces into an amazingly well corroborated account in spite of the inherent differences in emphasis..

          “Without evidence. Yes, I understand that.”

          Actually, with evidence. You just dismiss it without any good reason.

          “Experience has shown all the rest of us that supernatural elements in a story is a clue that it’s bullshit. I’ll accept that you’re the lone holdout when you apply that to other religions’ supernatural claims.”

          Your experience has shown you that supernatural elements in a story is a clue that it’s bullshit? Not good enough. It’s just your experience. There are far more people in history as well as today who claim experience of the supernatural than the niche group who claim to not have experienced it all according to their own concocted peculiar standards that are often designed to keep it all out. Note here that I’m not just talking about miracles, but also the experience of knowing God in the ordinary course of events. The sheer scope and influence of religion in human history and people’s continuing engagement with it is a clue to the reality of the supernatural.

          “Your argument is poorly documented and you’re bragging about that?
          Yes, it’s from the first century. Of course there will be little written about it.”

          My argument is well-documented. The four Gospels are documentary evidence, precisely because they are written accounts organizing pertinent information about Christ in order to confirm the truth about Him. There’s nothing poor about that no matter your flimsy dismissals. The rapid growth of Christianity and a whole body of New Testament literature emerging from it says opponents had all the time in the world across two generations to offer sustained rebuttals that questioned the story that poked holes in the claims. Opponents are acknowledged in the accounts as well as some of their lackluster counter claims. The ‘Of course there will be little written about it’ line is useless hand waving theatrics that merely begs the question.

          “One wonders then why you’re so confident if the evidence you’re sifting through isn’t history.”

          I already explained that the Gospels would have us treat them as historical. After all, they describe things that happen in identifiable places, to identifiable people at specific times.

          “So then no one simply heard the gospel story and then ran off to tell it to someone else. Ever. Once they heard the marvelous tale, they were sequestered for a month until they could prove that they’d memorized the one, correct version.
          Prove it.”

          This is just plain silly. There was a method to the way the gospel story was passed on that was intentional, well-organized and methodical. It was largely oral in nature of course in the beginning, until literature that organized and codified these cherished truths emerged. Nobody was sequestered or whatever irrationality you want to impose on the folks so as to keep your unwarranted skepticism or doubts going. The proof is in the entire body of New Testament literature that preserves the crystallized essence of biblical Christianity whose claims can be investigated, studied and analyzed because it actually has a lot going for it.

          “?? The New Testament wasn’t Scripture!”

          The emerging writings were regarded as Scripture very early on. The dedication that went into preserving them early on is a line of evidence of this.

          “Your lack of consistency is the issue. You propose ridiculously gullible rules that no one (and, here’s the punch line: including you) uses to evaluate the other guy’s religion.
          Sathya Sai Baba (d. 2011) cured himself of a stroke with healing magic and could be in two places at once. Believe that.”

          You haven’t shown at all that I lack consistency. You just allege it. You’re the one who is pretty inconsistent. if not outright contradictory, particularly in your claims about not ruling out the supernatural from the outset, when in fact you do. Appealing to other religions is a simple confusion of categories. Why? Because the various religions have too many differing claims that set them apart from each other that one has to treat them separately considering them on their terms in order to understand them properly. We of course have to use the tools of critical analysis available that make sense of them as well as analyse the lines of evidence they posit for their claims so that we may be able to determine their validity. I’ve got no reason to believe that Sathya Sai Baba did the things you allege he did, because no line of evidence has been offered. Give me reliable sources that credibly prove that He actually healed himself of a stroke with healing magic, and a bunch of reliable eyewitnesses who can establish that he was really in two places at once (one group that saw and heard him in one place, with the other group seeing him in the other requisite place), and I’ll believe it. Presuming if you even have this credible evidence at all, why don’t you believe?

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

          More theology. I’m looking for evidence.

          I think we’re done. Thanks.

        • Agabu

          If you say so Bob. Thanks for the back and forth. I really did enjoy it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Robert G. Price, commenting on the “oral tradition” trope at Vridar has this and more to say…

          All of this nonsense about oral tradition will ultimately be disproven and relegated to the dust bin. The reason is obvious. Claims for oral tradition can never stand up to the solid proof of literary dependence. Ultimately, “oral tradition” is unprovable and will always be unprovable, but literary tradition is not. And once virtually every aspect of the Gospels is explained via literary tradition, as is currently in progress, then there will be no room left for claims of “oral tradition”.

          In my mind anyway, I’ve already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Gospel of Mark has no basis in oral tradition whatsoever, as I’ve basically provided a literary basis for virtually every single passage in the Gospel of Mark, and shown that the context is clearly based around events in 70 CE, and thus cannot even loosely be based on older oral traditions.

          Also, I didn’t want to mention this, but I’ll go ahead and say it. I’m working on a project to pass each of the Gospels through plagiarism software against the rest of the Bible. I’ve already run some tests and it’s been very informative. The idea that the Gospels are based on oral tradition is simply provably false. The literary dependencies are overwhelmingly extensive and easily demonstrable.

          http://vridar.org/2014/12/29/how-do-we-know-there-was-an-oral-tradition-before-the-gospels/

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

          Interesting. I’ll have to read that entire article to get the full picture. And I’ll have to rethink how oral tradition fits into my argument.

          I assume the punch line is that, oral tradition or literary tradition, the gospels aren’t history.

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

          Thanks for the article. Quite provocative.

          He says to simply throw oral tradition out the window. It’s not relevant.

          But I’m still not totally on board. He says that he thinks everything in the gospels can be traced back to a literary (not oral) tradition.

          Greg G has been making this point, so I wonder if he’d care to comment as well. Can we conclude that oral tradition had nothing to do with what’s in each of the gospels? Wouldn’t the disparate churches that the 4 authors came from have tweaked the story? At the very least, out of the zillions of anecdotes in the ANE milieu, there had to be some process to pull out the much smaller number that made it into each book. Did the authors not benefit at all from his community’s tradition?

          That is, even if every pericope from every gospel can be traced back to a literary tradition, couldn’t oral tradition have had at least some input?

        • Greg G.

          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash shows what Price is referring to. He has references of other scholars who have traced the origins for Mark to some literature that existed in the realm. The only significant gap is the parables in chapter 4. Many of the parables there are very much like Gospel of Thomas sayings but some of the Thomas sayings are more like Luke. Were the sayings in Thomas taken from the gospels or was there some give in take, as if Mark had a proto-Thomas. It would be remarkable if every source of Mark existed to this day, but with so much that appear to be identified, it makes it less likely that the few inconclusive sections are free of a literary source.

          But even if you allow some form of oral tradition, you can’t know if the tradition is based on historical fact. Price has pointed out that anything worth repeating as oral tradition is worth making up and attributing it to oral tradition. It’s like Yogi Berra’s books title, The Yogi book: I really didn’t say everything I said!.

          Lately, I have been looking at how Luke used Mark and Matthew. Luke mostly followed the order of Mark, with a few little adjustments from Matthew, from chapter 3 to near the end of chapter 9 but adding in discourse from Matthew. From Luke 9:51 to 18:14, the trip to Jerusalem is based on allusions to Deuteronomy with pericopes from Matthew, with a few adjustments from Mark, with no allegiance to the narrative order. Then the Passion narrative is back to using Mark as earlier.

          Luke’s copy of Mark seems to have been missing quite a bit of material where Luke 9:18 jumps from Mark 6 after the Feeding of the 5000 but before the Walking on Water where Jesus is going to be alone on the mountain and saying goodbye to being asked the question from the Pharisees in Mark 8:27, right in mid-sentence, as if he didn’t realize that material was missing. There are a few other gaps where Luke skipped multiple pericopes and used a few of them in the central section with Matthean modifications.

          John also skips from after the Walking on Water in Mark 6 to conversation in Mark 8 but he seems to have known something was missing as it is filled with the Bread of Life discourse, which may have been inspired by Mark’s Last Supper narrative.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That is, even if every pericope from every gospel can be traced back to a literary tradition, couldn’t oral tradition have had at least some input?

          Of course. But what came first?

          If one assumes the gospels as biographical, then the oral tradition is likely a precursor to the story in the gospels with embellishment. But if the gospels are midrashic Christian haggadah, which the other Bob Price of the McNair kind hypothesises and supports extensively, then the extra bits, the filler if you like, is just part of the literary convention that storytellers use to link plot themes.

          The line is thin between extrapolating new meanings from ancient scriptures (borrowing the authority of the old) and actually composing new scripture (or quasi-scripture) by extrapolating from the old. By this process of midrashic expansion grew the Jewish haggadah, new narrative commenting on old (scriptural) narrative by rewriting it. Haggadah is a species of hypertext, and thus it cannot be fully understood without reference to the underlying text on which it forms a kind of commentary. The earliest Christians being Jews, it is no surprise that they practiced haggadic expansion of scripture, resulting in new narratives partaking of the authority of the old. The New Testament gospels and the Acts of the Apostles can be shown to be Christian haggadah upon Jewish scripture, and these narratives can be neither fully understood nor fully appreciated without tracing them to their underlying sources, the object of the present article.

          Earlier scholars (e.g., John Wick Bowman), as many today (e.g., J. Duncan M. Derrett), saw gospel echoes of the ancient scriptures in secondary coloring here or redactional juxtaposition of traditional Jesus stories there. But the more recent scrutiny of John Dominic Crossan, Randel Helms, Dale and Patricia Miller, and Thomas L. Brodie has made it inescapably clear that virtually the entirety of the gospel narratives and much of the Acts are wholly the product of haggadic midrash upon previous scripture. Earl Doherty has clarified the resultant understanding of the gospel writers’ methodology. It has been customary to suppose that early Christians began with a set of remarkable facts (whether few or many) and sought after the fact for scriptural predictions for them, the goal being to show that even though the founding events of their religion defied contemporary messianic expectation, they were nonetheless in better accord with prophecy, that recent events clarified ancient prophecy in retrospect. Thus modern scholars might admit that Hosea 11:1 (“Out of Egypt I have called my son”) had to be taken out of context to provide a pedigree for the fact of Jesus’ childhood sojourn in Egypt, but that it was the story of the flight into Egypt that made early Christians go searching for the Hosea text. Now it is apparent, just to take this example, that the flight into Egypt is midrashic all the way down. That is, the words in Hosea 11:1 “my son,” catching the early Christian eye, generated the whole story, since they assumed such a prophecy about the divine Son must have had its fulfillment. And the more apparent it becomes that most gospel narratives can be adequately accounted for by reference to scriptural prototypes, Doherty suggests, the more natural it is to picture early Christians beginning with a more or less vague savior myth and seeking to lend it color and detail by anchoring it in a particular historical period and clothing it in scriptural garb. We must now envision proto-Christian exegetes “discovering” for the first time what Jesus the Son of God had done and said “according to the scriptures” by decoding the ancient texts. Today’s Christian reader learns what Jesus did by reading the gospels; his ancient counterpart learned what Jesus did by reading Joshua and 1 Kings. It was not a question of memory but of creative exegesis. Sometimes the signals that made particular scriptural texts attractive for this purpose are evident (like “my son” in Hosea 11:1), sometimes not. But in the end the result is a new perspective according to which we must view the gospels and Acts as analogous with the Book of Mormon, an inspiring pastiche of stories derived creatively from previous scriptures by a means of literary extrapolation.

          A lengthy article to be sure, but deep in detail…

          http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/art_midrash1.htm

          It’s just not necessary to rely on an oral tradition.

          Can we conclude that oral tradition had nothing to do with what’s in each of the gospels?

          Given the time between each writing, it’s not necessary in the strict sense of an original source. If one posits the the subsequent addition of all the bells and whistles as a result of Chinese Whispers/Telephone, rather than literary embellishments to improve the character, then a suppose we should conclude nothing. But there is no doubt that the gospels are built in large part on ancient stories. Stories themselves without basis in history and many of which are based on older stories still.

          The earliest Christian documents tell us the author used older Jewish scripture. Apparently a common thing to do at the time. It doesn’t know of a biographical central figure. Without reading the gospels back into the Pauline corpus what does Paul tell us about Jesus the man?

          Did the authors not benefit at all from his community’s tradition?

          The presumption is that the community’s tradition came first then the author wrote the text. This could be the case. Presuming what the author wrote is accurate to the oral tradition. There were other ideas and texts about Christ that conflicted with the story that won out.Those were destroyed as heretical. Whose to say those ideas were not closer to the original tradition?

          As you know, there are a lot more gospels than the big four. And we know there were They are all variations on a theme. If I may use my Sherlock Holmes analogy, there are many variations on that theme too, all derivative of a fictional figure in a single text.

          There were folk around near the time that believed the crucifixion of Jesus happened 100 years before the gospel accounts.

          Jeshu is said to have been the disciple of Joshua ben Perachiah, who was certainly a historical figure, being one of the most prominent rabbis of the time. During the persecution of the Pharisees by Alexander Jannaeus, which began around 94 BCE, Joshua ben Perachiah fled with Jeshu to Alexandria in Egypt, where Jeshu is said to have learned magic. Described as a learned man, Jeshu was expelled for heretical tendencies from the school over which Joshua presided. He became a religious teacher, had several disciples, and preached to ordinary people. He was accused of practising sorcery, deceiving Israel and estranging people from God. After being tried and convicted, he was stoned to death and his body was then hung up as a warning to others.

          http://www.davidpratt.info/jesus.htm

          It seems to me that if there was indeed an early oral tradition, the fidelity in transference of the story must’ve been pretty suspect for such diversity to arise. So what use?

          Greg G is much better at this topic than I am, so yeah I’d enjoy his input….my old memory is shot.

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

          Thanks!

        • MNb

          “Ultimately, “oral tradition” is unprovable and will always be unprovable.”
          Great.
          Price doesn’t understand how science works.
          Nothing is provable.

          “In my mind anyway, I’ve already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Gospel of Mark has no basis in oral tradition whatsoever.”
          Greater. Oral tradition is unprovable, but is disprovable. The guy is incoherent.

          “it’s been very informative.”
          Greatest. The guy is kicking in an open door. Our own Greg G did something like this, which produced 100s of boring comments. I checked it by asking a scholar; it’s common knowledge that Jesus hardly said anything, if anything at all, that doesn’t come from the OT.
          Price has invented a new way to test Ohm’s Law. How informative. I call it warmed up leftovers.

        • adam

          “The Gospels exist because of what some ordinary people saw and heard
          concerning Jesus Christ in the ordinary course of events, which also
          included a blaze of supernatural signs and wonders. ”

          Nope

          . https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b8e21f4f245797969c0947a765da8794c812826b9b5e6d1a040a884b1ee550af.jpg

          It is more like Spiderman

        • Ignorant Amos

          All this diatribe has shown us is that you’ve been to Croydon to press the big red…

          http://nicoleodell.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/PanicButtoniStock_000011406179XSmall1.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Gospels exist because of what some ordinary people saw and heard concerning Jesus Christ in the ordinary course of events, which also included a blaze of supernatural signs and wonders.

          But no one thought to write any of it down until at least 40 years later.

          Or if you are saying they did, then why…

          I’m not saying the story might have passed through decades of oral history intact. I’m saying the story did pass through years of oral history intact.

          Is it a “belt & braces” thing?

        • Ignorant Amos

          WTF is all this oral tradition nonsense? Is it not your position that the Gospel authors were eyewitnesses to the events who decided to wait 60-100 years before getting a scroll out and getting this incredible tale down on papyrus?

          Make up yer mind ffs.

  • Agabu

    Fact 2: The disciples believed that Jesus rose and appeared to them.

    The disciples went from cowards hiding from the authorities to bold proclaimers of the gospels, even to the point of martyrdom. Yes, that’s what the story says you, and then you go on to insist that let’s be skeptical about stories. I agree only if all we had was one account that told us this sort of thing and whose dating was over 80 years later than the events described. But we have four Gospels, each different in nature, content, and the facts they include or exclude. You say that we don’t take at face value the story about Merlin being a shape-shifting wizard. No we don’t. But the problem with the Merlin being a shape-shifting wizard story is that we know It took many decades of adaptations before Merlin became the wizard of Arthurian legend we know him as today. There’s nothing about the Gospels that is the product of many such adaptations. The fact that we have four Gospels that don’t give us significantly different versions of Jesus Christ militates against all that. For instance, we don’t have one Gospel with a Jesus that performs no miracles and another where He does. All four Gospels have Christ doing both ordinary as well as extraordinary things. Merlin was created as a combination of several historical and legendary figures. Writer Geoffrey of Monmouth is credited with creating Merlin in his 1136 AD work. None of the writers of the Gospels are credited with creating Jesus Christ. We may doubt the ordinary claim that Arthur was even king of England. But that would be because there’s good reason to, such as the fact that there’s sparse historical background for him and that details of Arthur’s story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention. This state of affairs is why Arthur’s historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians. Asking why then take elements of the supernatural Jesus story as history, even the natural when we’re not certain about the historicity of king Arthur merely serves to cloud and confuse the matter. We already know why there are debates and disputes about Arthur’s historical existence. Jesus Christ on the other hand has four Gospels that clearly sketch for us the His life in all its natural and supernatural glory. Rejecting the supernatural elements of the Gospels on the basis of their improbability, meaning these sort of things just don’t happen is a modern anachronism that ignores what the Gospels are. The fact is the Gospels report the occurrence of miracles in the life of Christ not as glowing appraisals to simply make Jesus look good but as things people actually saw and heard as He went about His ministry. It would be no different if you and two other witnesses saw a person you knew to be a paraplegic in the Stephen Hawking mold walk again right before yours eyes after a Christian minister prayed for him or her to get up. It would be a shocking and amazing thing to see, but if it happened right before your eyes with say a dozen or so other people there along with you but no video cameras, your testimony along with other eyewitnesses would be all everyone else would go on. This is what we have in the Gospels. There’s nothing secretive about Jesus’ miracles. Almost all of them have people who observe them happen before their very eyes often to their shock and amazement, who like you , have a hard time believing what they see happening, because that sort of thing was out of the ordinary or difficult to imagine even back then.

    Secondly, you allege that the “Who would die for a lie?” argument (that the disciples’ deaths is strong evidence) also fails. In brief, you say that the historical evidence for apostles’ martyrdom is weak. The point here for you being that we’re not certain at all if the apostles even died in the first place. Of course this tactic works for you because if there’s no one to die, the defense fails right at the very start there. The problem is that it avoids the question. In fact your response to the question, “I dunno” isn’t an answer to anything but your ignorance. You don’t build arguments on ignorance. This argument from ignorance, which is what it really is, evades the question while using that very ignorance as a reason to reject the apostles’ matyrdom for what they held to be true. Sorry but you can’t have it both ways here. It’s already a matter of record that Christians were experiencing severe persecution from beatings, confiscation of property, beheadings, imprisonments, being fed to wild animals to crucifixions in the first century. Traditions in the Church that hold that the apostles died as Martyrs aren’t stories without merit let alone foreign to anything that was already going on back then. They are things passed on off the heels of realities that Christians had to live with in a culture and climate that was largely hostile to them. Christians of all walks of life were being badly persecuted. This is an acknowledged fact of historians. The martyrdom of the apostles was never passed on as some kind of unique experience that no one else but the apostles went through thereby privileging them over others. Paul for instance acknowledges his imminent death writing while in prison to Timothy in his second epistle to him. The “Tradition holds that” or “The Church tells us that” is never enough line of reasoning is a flimsy dismissal that is better discarded because it ignores the realities that many Christians had to live with at the time.

    Finally, your allegation that the gospels document eyewitness history is suspect is ridiculous. New Testament scholars have an enormous amount of ancient manuscript evidence. The documentary evidence for the New Testament far surpasses any other work of its time. We have over 5000 manuscripts, and many are dated within a few years of their authors’ lives. Here are some key documents. An important manuscript is the Chester Beatty Papyri. It contains most of the New Testament writings, and is dated around 250 A.D. The Bodmer Papyri contains most of John, and dates to 200 A.D. Another is the Rylands Papyri that was found in Egypt that contains a fragment of John, and dates to 130 A.D. From this fragment we can conclude that John was completed well before 130 A.D. because, not only did the Gospel have to be written, it had to be hand copied and make its way down from Greece to Egypt. Since the vast majority of scholars agree that John is the last gospel written, it can be affirmed its first century date along with the other three with greater assurance. A final piece of evidence comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls Cave 7. Jose Callahan discovered a fragment of the Gospel of Mark and dated it to have been written in 50 A.D. He also discovered fragments of Acts and other epistles and dated them to have been written slightly after 50 A.D. Another line of evidence is the writings of the church fathers. Clement of Rome sent a letter to the Corinthian church in 95 A.D. in which he quoted from the Gospels and other portions of the New Testament. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, wrote a letter before his martyrdom in Rome in 115 A.D, quoting all the Gospels and other New Testament. letters. Polycarp wrote to the Philippians in 120 A.D. and quoted from the Gospels and New Testament. letters. Justin Martyr (150 A.D.) quotes John 3. Church fathers of the early second century were familiar with the apostle’s writings and quoted them as inspired Scripture. Early dating is important for two reasons. The closer a historical record is to the date of the event, the more likely the record is accurate. Early dating allows for eyewitnesses to still be alive when the Gospels were circulating to attest to their accuracy. The apostles often appeal to the witness of the hostile crowd, pointing to their knowledge of the facts as well (Acts 2:22, 26:26). Also, the time is too short for legends to develop. Historians agree it takes about two generations, or eighty years, for legendary accounts to establish themselves. From the evidence, we can or should conclude the Gospels were indeed written by the authors they are attributed to.

    Furthermore, this whole “the eyewitness thing about the Gospels is suspect” allegation hinges on the claim that we don’t even know who wrote the Gospels. The thing is it is doubtful that the Gospels could have gotten anywhere unless they were certainly attributable to someone who was recognized as knowing what they were writing about. On the other hand, I must say that you without warrant let alone evidence assume a high degree of gullibility in the first-century church. For an anonymous author to have penned a Gospel, and have it accepted as from the hand of one of the Quartet or any authoritative person, would have required them to first produce the Gospel, then present it as the work of another; they would have to concoct some story as to how it came peculiarly to be in their possession; get around the problem of why a work by such a person disappeared or was previously unknown; then get the church at large, first in his area and then throughout the Roman Empire (and would not the claimed discovery of such a document cause a sensation, and controversy?), to accept this work as genuine. Can you explain how such logistic difficulties could be overcome? You do well in offering generalities, but you never get down to the specifics of how Joe Gentile could have managed to pull off such a hoax on the church as a whole. Is there any parallel to this in secular history, where an enormous group at large was bamboozled by (and continued to be bamboozled by) not just one forgery, but four, attributed in a couple of cases to members of an inner circle, in widely separated places and times?

    The Gospels do indeed mention emboldened disciples, and because they’re so well attested we really do have good evidence that this isn’t just a story, it is truly history. Therefore, your allegation that both “But they were eyewitnesses!” and “But they died for their faith!” are poorly evidenced claims is pure fabrication and fiction.

    • Dys

      Bob’s already dealt with the “who would die for a lie” issue: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/01/who-would-die-for-a-lie-another-weak-christian-argument/

      Oh, and you don’t have four independent accounts. But keep pretending.

      Your “facts” are just articles of faith.

      • Agabu

        “You don’t have four independent accounts. Actual bible scholarship disagrees with you. But keep pretending.”
        I don’t have four independent accounts. The Bible has four independent accounts each with its own distinct title, style, and priorities for being written. Only you have pretensions of actual biblical scholarship agreeing with you.

        “The fact is that there are very good reasons to reject the miracle claims in the gospel- there’s no evidence for them”
        It’s not a fact, there are no good reasons, and you haven’t provided any. Saying there’s no evidence is just saying.

        “and they violate physics.”
        This is your assumption and how you deal with reality as you see it as drawn from your naturalistic worldview. Where does the Bible teach this is what a miracle is and does?

        “Just because you have the stories repeated in the gospels (which they borrowed from Mark) doesn’t magically constitute evidence that these things actually happened.”
        If you put it that way, of course it doesn’t “magically” constitute evidence. But we’re not talking about your speculations of magic and such about the Gospels.

        “The only person who’s intentionally ignoring what the gospels are is you, presumably so you can keep pretending they’re essentially journalism.”
        Clever albeit duplicitous. You got no real position on what the Gospels are, so disingenuously spouting what they’re not is easier.

        “Your entire argument relies on the false belief that the gospels represent completely independent accounts and are completely trustworthy in everything they say. The only problem is that you can’t, and haven’t, actually defended that belief with anything other than bluster.”
        I’ve argued for a degree of independence not complete independence. Yes, they are completely and utterly trustworthy in everything they say. Give me anything in there that has actually flat out been proven wrong by modern research and analysis that even the most conservative of scholars has acknowledged is so without offering a viable alternative explanation. I’ve given a few citations from some recognized scholars above, and you haven’t even so much as given one in any of your responses except claim some nebulous elite corps of biblical scholars. Raving, ranting and bellowing has been more your thing.

        “Your “facts” are just articles of faith.”
        They would be if you had proven your case. But you haven’t.

        • MNb

          “Give me anything in there that has actually flat out been proven wrong by modern research”
          Your dishonesty can’t be any clearer than with this request. No matter what anyone (including christian scholars) bring up, you will reject it without any further do with something like “you make me laugh”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And that’s the reason that the cockwomble needs the bannhammer. He is merely cluttering the place up now with his cretinous verbal diarrhoea outpourings.

        • Agabu

          Just give me that darn thing that’s been proven wrong instead of engaging in prejudice.

        • MNb

          Thanks for confirming your dishonesty. I did give you that goddamn thing. You laughed it away without any further do. On this very page. What you call prejudice is actually experience from the recent past.

        • Dys

          The bible says it, you believe it, that settles it. You have no argument, no evidence, no case. You have blind faith.

          Yes, they are completely and utterly trustworthy in everything they say.

          And this bit of faith-based tripe confirms that my criticisms of you have been completely on the money. You’re working from a faith based position, and cannot handle any critical examination of the bible, because you will inevitably resort to just asserting biblical inerrancy.

          Thanks for playing.

        • Greg G.

          The bible says it, you believe it, that settles it.

          He seems to be of the type who says, “I said it, God believes it, that settles it.”

        • Dys

          He comes off as such a sanctimonious Dunning-Kruger poster boy, you’re probably right.

        • Agabu

          Blah blah, blah! There’s been no real criticisms from you, just over the top complaints, caricatures, sanctimonious bluster, and scientific pretensions.

        • Dys

          I’ve offered plenty of criticisms, so have others. You hand wave them away instead of dealing with them honestly. Your various unsubtantiated assertions make it clear you have no argument. You’re just repeating articles of faith and pretending it’s an argument.

          You take the bible on blind faith. We don’t. And you have no real argument to support your case. Everything you’ve offered is just a cover for “the bible says it so it must be true”.

        • Agabu

          I don’t take the Bible on blind faith, and neither do I believe just because something is in the Bible therefore it must be true. If you’d ask me how I take the Bible, I would have told you. Instead prejudice is all you went with.

        • Dys

          I don’t take the Bible on blind faith, and neither do I believe just
          because something is in the Bible therefore it must be true.

          Multiple assertions you have made expose this as a lie. Because the fact is that you’ve claimed to know things about the bible that absolutely must be taken on faith.

          If you’d ask me how I take the Bible, I would have told you.

          I already took you at your word. And what you’ve made abundantly clear is that you unquestioningly accept everything the bible (and especially the gospels) as completely true.

          Your gullibility is not a virtue, but it’s the basis for everything you’ve said. You’re just a devoted believer, pretending that you’re taking criticisms of your position seriously, when in reality you’re not considering (or countering) any of them in the slightest.

          Instead prejudice is all you went with.

          Oh please…you’re a massive hypocrite. I refer you to your previous comment of “the vomit that is the non-Christian life” and politely request that you go fuck yourself.

          I’m prejudiced against idiocy, and you possess it in spades, You don’t have any good arguments, and when they’re criticized, you don’t deal with it honestly, but reject the criticism out of hand and then reiterate your faith-based position.

          You don’t take a skeptical or critical approach to the bible, you take a devotional one. And you’ve demonstrated time and again now that you don’t know how to handle approaches different than your own with any honesty.

          I understand that you believe the gospels are completely accurate and reliable. What you haven’t done is provide any real reason why anyone else should accept that conclusion that doesn’t rely on faith.

        • MNb

          At beforehand you have declared all criticism not real, so shrug.

    • Dys
      • Greg G.

        Matthew 14:23
        Matthew 26:36-46
        Mark 1:35-36
        Mark 6:46
        Mark 14:32–42
        Luke 5:16
        Luke 6:12-13
        Luke 9:18
        Luke 22:39-46
        John 6:15

        Did I miss any?

        • Dys

          Matthew 4:1-11…Jesus tempted in the wilderness. Jesus wasn’t alone, but I’m pretty sure the devil wouldn’t give Jesus the courtesy of writing things down for him.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Was the Devil there? Or was that a made up device in a made up story? After all, if the author is already making the shit up, and all that jazz.

      • Agabu

        It would work if you assume Jesus never talked about it and what He actually prayed for to His inner circle of disciples/apostles. But as it stands your one track thinking is adorably hilarious.

        • Dys

          Oh no, it just shows that your inanely naive “they documented what they saw” nonsense is wishful thinking.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hoist by his own petard…AGAIN!

          It’s like shooting fish in a barrel when a dumb fuck like Ag’s pops in for a visit.

        • Agabu

          Of course, a liar like yourself only quotes some of my statement, conveniently leaving out the “and heard” part of the statement. What else is new?

        • Dys

          conveniently leaving out the “and heard” part of the statement.

          I’m sorry I left out something else you’re taking entirely on faith, but are pretending is incontrovertible evidence. It doesn’t matter…there’s no record of Jesus relating the stories where he was by himself.

          Of course, a liar like yourself only quotes some of my statement

          I didn’t lie. Go learn what words mean…you keep misusing them. And while you’re at it, take a course in reading comprehension and critical thinking so you won’t continue embarrassing yourself.

        • Agabu

          You did lie, and did it again in this response and made excuses for it by claiming it doesn’t matter.

          Liar: false witness, deceiver, fabricator, perjurer.
          hmmm…what do you know? Lesson learned.

        • Dys

          hmmm…what do you know? Lesson learned.

          The only lesson learned is that you’re a serial projector and lack self-reflection. You project your poor understanding, bad reasoning, and thickness on people you disagree with. You can’t even deal honestly with the examples people have brought forward that expose your constant special pleading.

          You can’t deal with criticism honestly, and you haven’t defended your position with anything other than faith-based assertions, which can dismissed because you don’t have evidence.

        • Greg G.

          It would work if you assume Jesus never talked about it and what He actually prayed for to His inner circle of disciples/apostles.

          Do you think Jesus was dictating his prayer in Gethsemane as he was being arrested and hauled off for trial?

          The Omniscient Narrator is a literary device often used in fiction.

          Mark as an Omniscient Narrator

          •Knows Thoughts, Feelings, and Plans
          ◦Mark 1:34
          ◦Mark 1:41
          ◦Mark 2:6-7
          ◦Mark 2:8
          ◦Mark 3:5
          ◦Mark 5:28
          ◦Mark 6:2
          ◦Mark 6:6
          ◦Mark 6:19
          ◦Mark 6:20-26
          ◦Mark 6:34
          ◦Mark 6:49-52
          ◦Mark 8:2
          ◦Mark 8:11
          ◦Mark 8:14
          ◦Mark 8:17
          ◦Mark 8:25
          ◦Mark 9:6
          ◦Mark 9:32
          ◦Mark 10:2
          ◦Mark 10:14
          ◦Mark 11:12
          ◦Mark 11:18
          ◦Mark 11:21
          ◦Mark 12:12
          ◦Mark 12:34
          ◦Mark 14:4
          ◦Mark 14:35-36
          ◦Mark 14:40
          ◦Mark 15:10
          ◦Mark 15:15
          ◦Mark 16:8
          •Knows About Secret Meetings
          ◦Mark 3:6
          ◦Mark 6:21-29
          ◦Mark 14:1-2
          ◦Mark 14:53-72
          ◦Mark 15:1-19
          ◦Mark 16:1-8
          •Knows About Simultaneous Events in Separate Places
          ◦Mark 14:53-68
          •Knows About Jesus Praying Alone
          ◦Mark 1:35-36
          ◦Mark 6:46
          ◦Mark 14:32-42

          Matthew as an Omniscient Narrator

          •Knows What Angels Say in Joseph’s Dreams
          ◦Matthew 1:20
          ◦Matthew 2:13
          ◦Matthew 2:19
          ◦Matthew 2:22
          •Knows Thoughts, Feelings, and Plans
          ◦Matthew 9:20-22
          ◦Matthew 9:36
          ◦Matthew 13:53-57
          ◦Matthew 14:26
          ◦Matthew 16:5
          ◦Matthew 16:8
          ◦Matthew 17:23
          ◦Matthew 19:3
          ◦Matthew 21:15
          ◦Matthew 21:18
          ◦Matthew 21:45
          ◦Matthew 26:8
          ◦Matthew 27:3
          ◦Matthew 27:18
          ◦Matthew 28:8
          •Knows About Secret Meetings
          ◦Matthew 12:14
          ◦Matthew 14:3-12
          ◦Matthew 26:2-5
          ◦Matthew 26:57-68
          ◦Matthew 27:11-14
          ◦Matthew 28:11-15
          •Knows About Jesus Praying Alone
          ◦Matthew 14:23
          ◦Matthew 26:36-46

          Luke as an Omniscient Narrator

          •Knows Thoughts, Feelings, and Plans
          ◦Luke 4:40-41
          ◦Luke 6:6-11
          ◦Luke 7:49
          ◦Luke 9:43
          ◦Luke 9:45
          ◦Luke 10:29
          ◦Luke 19:47
          ◦Luke 20:19
          ◦Luke 22:3
          ◦Luke 24:4-5
          ◦Luke 24:8
          •Knows About Secret Meetings
          ◦Luke 3:19-20
          ◦Luke 22:2
          •Knows About Jesus Praying Alone
          ◦Luke 5:16
          ◦Luke 6:12-13
          ◦Luke 9:18
          ◦Luke 22:39-46

          John as an Omniscient Narrator

          •Knows About the State of Being Before There Was an Earth
          ◦John 1:1–18
          •Knows Thoughts, Feelings, and Plans
          ◦John 5:6
          ◦John 5:13
          ◦John 6:19
          ◦John 9:22
          ◦John 11:33
          ◦John 12:6
          ◦John 13:1-3
          ◦John 13:21
          ◦John 13:27-29
          ◦John 19:38
          ◦John 21:17
          •Knows About Secret Meetings
          ◦John 11:46
          ◦John 11:47-52
          ◦John 18:29-38
          ◦John 19:5-16
          •Knows About Simultaneous Events in Separate Places
          ◦John 18:13-27
          •Knows About Jesus Praying Alone
          ◦John 6:15

        • Ignorant Amos

          Evidence?

          You expect that fuckwit to be swayed by evidence?

          All the best with that tactic.

        • MNb

          Evidence according to Agabu: whatever confirms his predetermined conclusions.

        • Agabu

          “Do you think Jesus was dictating his prayer in Gethsemane as he was being arrested and hauled off for trial? “
          Nope! Jesus did stay forty days with His disciples after His resurrection, which is more than enough time to talk about that occasion to them. Your shortsightedness is the problem here.

          “The Omniscient Narrator is a literary device often used in fiction.”
          Yeah it is, if your talking about novels or historical fiction. The Gospels are neither novels nor historical fiction nor even mere history books. They are uniquely Gospels telling about a one of a kind person unlike any in history in a manner befitting the circumstances, at a particular point in time, and in a specific place.

          All the verses you quote telling about events you assume shouldn’t be known to the authors point to one thing: the Gospels are the word of God. If indeed this is the case, one would expect things in them that evince divine agency. And such are these Scriptural citations you’ve taken the time to list out. It is easy and convenient to dismiss these occasions as fabrication and fiction, because your naturalistic worldview won’t allow it. But Scripture isn’t written to appease a worldview with scientific and rationalistic pretensions. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John nowhere claim to be “psychic.” These are evidence that point to the fact these works in their original form were really written with aid of God’s Spirit, like Christ stated in John 14-16.

        • Greg G.

          Nope! Jesus did stay forty days with His disciples after His resurrection, which is more than enough time to talk about that occasion to them. Your shortsightedness is the problem here.

          None of the “independent” gospels say that. John suggests a week and a half or so. Mark ends with the women being too afraid. Matthew has Jesus say three sentences.

          Acts 1:1-2 says it was all about what Jesus did and taught before he was received up, as in Luke 24:51. Acts 1:11 has Jesus received up forty days later. Luke even writes in the two men in white clothing, apparently the same ones from GLuke 24:4. Maybe they were the two angels in white from John 20:12, with Luke being dependent on GJohn.

          Have you tried to reconcile the New Testament resurrection stories with who went to the tomb and when, what the saw, who they spoke to, what they heard, without omitting any details and keeping them all in order? I’d like to see that.

          Yeah it is, if your talking about novels or historical fiction. The Gospels are neither novels nor historical fiction nor even mere history books. They are uniquely Gospels telling about a one of a kind person unlike any in history in a manner befitting the circumstances, at a particular point in time, and in a specific place.

          Yet they use the Omniscient Narrator device like a fictional novel. But it is not the only literary device they use.

          All the verses you quote telling about events you assume shouldn’t be known to the authors point to one thing: the Gospels are the word of God. If indeed this is the case, one would expect things in them that evince divine agency.

          Certainly, but the writings show it to be the work of men with lots of editing to erase inconvenient details. The later gospels appear to have been improvements on the embarrassing parts of the earlier gospels.

          Matthew, Mark, Luke and John nowhere claim to be “psychic.”

          But you apologize as if you think they are, as in the next block quote.

          These are evidence that point to the fact these works in their original form were really written with aid of God’s Spirit, like Christ stated in John 14-16.

          Nope. The fact that so many sources for the gospels can be identified that have little to nothing to do with Jesus shows they are fiction.

          John 14:16 does not support your contention. What passage do you mean?

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

          Agabu said, “Jesus did stay forty days with His disciples after His resurrection.”

          Read Luke. He says it was one day.

        • Agabu

          Where does Luke say it was actually one day?

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

          Give Luke to an objective observer and ask him how long Jesus stayed on earth afterwards.

        • Greg G.

          Luke 24:13-51

        • Agabu

          “None of the “independent” gospels say that. John suggests a week and a half or so. Mark ends with the women being too afraid. Matthew has Jesus say three sentences.
          Acts 1:1-2 says it was all about what Jesus did and taught before he was received up, as in Luke 24:51. Acts 1:11 has Jesus received up forty days later. Luke even writes in the two men in white clothing, apparently the same ones from GLuke 24:4. Maybe they were the two angels in white from John 20:12, with Luke being dependent on GJohn.”
          The “none of the independent gospels say that” line is an argument from silence. John nowhere suggests a week or so. His Gospel is open ended. Mark’s ending still doesn’t go against Jesus spending an additional forty days with His disciples. Matthew’s ending simply summarizes the time Jesus spent with His disciples after His resurrection without actually giving any specifics thereby leaving it open ended. Luke supplies the 40 days time frame. Since he wrote both Luke and Acts, these two books are in essential agreement.

          “Have you tried to reconcile the New Testament resurrection stories with who went to the tomb and when, what they saw, who they spoke to, what they heard, without omitting any details and keeping them all in order? I’d like to see that.”
          I realise this is one of those favorite skeptical arguments from silence (such-and-such a Gospel only mentions so-and-so, which therefore is the same as affirming that so-and-so was alone) folks of your ilk like to bring up. The problem is that we know that isn’t the case. For example, John only mentions Mary Magdalene of the women going to the tomb, which some critics take to mean that John indicates Mary was alone. But when Mary reports to the disciples, she says “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Mary wasn’t alone, it’s just that John only mentions her by name and not the others. It wasn’t an important detail for him. Likewise, in Luke 24:12 it mentions that Peter ran to the tomb to check it out. Does that mean Peter went alone? No, because later in v. 24 the Emmaus disciples are recounting the events and they say, “Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” Remember, this is from the same chapter of the same book, it isn’t two different accounts. But then when you read John’s independent account in John 20:3-4, you find out that the beloved disciple ran to the tomb when Peter did. Luke didn’t mention the other disciple in the narrative, because it wasn’t an important detail. But it shows up in the Emmaus encounter and dovetails nicely with John’s account. Which is also a reason why arguments from silence are quite often bad arguments. They also happen to be a staple of shortsighted Gospel critics.

          “Yet they use the Omniscient Narrator device like a fictional novel. But it is not the only literary device they use.”
          Using what you call “the Omniscient Narrator device” like a fictional novel says nothing about it actually being fiction. This is just you thinking that it’s just gotta be fiction. Can’t be anything else, because reasons.

          “the writings show it to be the work of men with lots of editing to erase inconvenient details. The later gospels appear to have been improvements on the embarrassing parts of the earlier gospels.”
          You gotta give me examples of what you allege to be inconvenient details. What are these embarrassing parts of earlier gospels that had to be improved upon?

          “The fact that so many sources for the gospels can be identified that have little to nothing to do with Jesus shows they are fiction. “
          What sources are you talking about that have nothing to do with Jesus Christ when the Gospels themselves have everything to to do with Him?

          “John 14:16 does not support your contention. What passage do you mean?”
          I mean John chapters 14, 15 and 16 read together one after the other.

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

          Luke supplies the 40 days time frame. Since he wrote both Luke and Acts, the two books are in essential agreement.

          Or not. Luke 24 makes clear that it’s one day. There’s the road to Emmaus story (which begins “Now that same day,” referring to the discovery of the empty tomb). Then those disciples “returned at once to Jerusalem” and met with the rest of the disciples. “While they were still talking about this” Jesus teleported in, showed his hands and feet, performed the magic trick of eating fish, and gave them a mind meld. And then it ends: “When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.”

          One day.

          Doesn’t it frustrate you when people make Bible claims that are plainly not supported and which could be clarified with a simple reading and a good pray? Must piss you off. It certainly does me.

        • Agabu

          “Or not. Luke 24 makes clear that it’s one day.”

          No he doesn’t. But lets point by point separate fact from fiction in your surprisingly simplistic reading of the text.

          “There’s the road to Emmaus story (which begins “Now that same day,” referring to the discovery of the empty tomb). “

          I agree, This happens on the first day of the week or the third day like the two on the road make clear also (Luke 24:21). However, Luke 24:29 makes it very clear also that it was also happening very much late in that very day. It was nearly evening and that day was almost over , and Jesus went in to “stay” with them for an unspecified yet considerable amount of time come evening. The simple fact is Jews always had their meals in the evening. The start of evening marked a whole new day altogether. One day Bob? Not at all! Seriously dude, you really don’t seem to be very good at reading the Gospels man, since you seem to miss tiny little details like this one. Jesus breaking bread with them implies preparing the meal first before one can even set it up to eat it.

          “Then those disciples “returned at once to Jerusalem” and met with the rest of the disciples. While they were still talking about this” Jesus teleported in, showed his hands and feet, performed the magic trick of eating fish, and gave them a mind meld.”

          This incidence wasn’t happening on the first day of the week at all anymore seeing as it was now evening already and as such the day after the first day of the week. Unless you think sitting down to break bread and then walking to a place that is 7 miles away can all take place so quickly as to all still be before the evening of another day that’s almost here. These two fellas weren’t superhero speedsters like the flash.

          “And then it ends: “When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.”
          One day.
          Doesn’t it frustrate you when people make Bible claims that are plainly not supported and which could be clarified with a simple reading and a good pray? Must piss you off. It certainly does me.”

          You’re absolutely right Bob. It is frustrating when people make Bible claims that are plainly not supported. But for your sake, frustrated or pissed off I am not however. With you I’d rather be patient and just point to your misreadings that seem to blind you to some of the small details which flew past you in the text that blow apart the wrongheaded “one day assumption.” The thing is, your one day claim is flat out “plainly not supported” as I have already shown with the small details you’re blind to. But again, this part of the passage further kills this silly one day thing by introducing an altogether different time. It’s easy to assume that this event happens on that first day, let alone the now second day of week because it follows Jesus appearing to His disciples. The thing is there is no, “After he finished saying all these things he led them to…” here. It is simply “When He had led them to…” The “when” time marker really gives us an unspecified time frame here separate from everything that came before it. Again, the time between this briskly documented particular appearance to His disciples, and the greatly summarized ascension event is unspecified. If all we had was the Gospel of Luke it would be easy to assume any number of days from 3 to what ever. But we don’t have to because the same author in his next account, the book of Acts, tells us Jesus appeared to them over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3). All in all, Luke consistently abbreviates the events he decides to talk about in Luke 24 putting a few time line details here and there as he does here again with his “when.”

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

          One day Bob? Not at all!

          I was counting days as we do.

          Unless you think sitting down to break bread and then walking to a place that is 7 miles away can all take place so quickly as to all still be before the evening of another day that’s almost here.

          Don’t blame me. I didn’t write this shit.

          The thing is, your one day claim is flat out “plainly not supported” as I have already shown with the small details you’re blind to.

          Is that your argument? “Aha! You missed the Jewish day rollover moment, so it was actually two days before Jesus flew up to heaven!”

          I didn’t miss the rollover; I was assuming 1 day = 24 hours. Not a crazy concept since Jewish timekeeping isn’t how we do things today. But if you want to say that Luke and Acts conflict because Luke has 2 days rather than 1 day, that’s fine.

          It is simply “When He had led them to…” The “when” time marker really gives us an unspecified time frame here separate from everything that came before it.

          And would the objective reader grant you that 40 days could fit into that slot? I’d think not.

          You say Luke allows for 40 days only because you know the “correct” answer. Without Acts, you’d accept the same plain reading as I am.

        • MR

          Back when I was a Christian, would I have accepted his excuse if such a discrepancy had appeared in, say, the Koran? Of course, not! I’d have pounced on it as bullshit weaseling!

        • Agabu

          “I was counting days as we do.”

          Count days as Luke would in his own time. He wasn’t writing to 21st century people.

          “Don’t blame me. I didn’t write this shit.”

          I fault you for failing to read the author on his terms. No you didn’t write any of this, so read it according to the intent and purposes of the writer.

          “Is that your argument? “Aha! You missed the Jewish day rollover moment, so it was actually two days before Jesus flew up to heaven!”
          I didn’t miss the rollover; I was assuming 1 day = 24 hours. Not a crazy concept since Jewish timekeeping isn’t how we do things today. But if you want to say that Luke and Acts conflict because Luke has 2 days rather than 1 day, that’s fine.”

          If you didn’t miss the rollover then you’d mention it or take it into account. But you didn’t, and that doesn’t make you an objective reader. My argument is Luke covers an unspecified period of time from the first day of the week to the ascension of Christ. He mentions only the first two days, and thereafter is unspecified. Your assumption about 1 day = 24 hours is foreign to the text. In case you need reminding, Luke wasn’t written in the 21st century. How we do things now isn’t how they did things then, and the really objective reader reads any material in terms of the era it’s written in. Luke and Acts don’t conflict, except only in your mind. Same person wrote the books anyway.

          “And would the objective reader grant you that 40 days could fit into that slot? I’d think not.
          You say Luke allows for 40 days only because you know the “correct” answer. Without Acts, you’d accept the same plain reading as I am.”

          I’ve already explained that reading Luke on its own leaves you with an unspecified period of time from the first two days to the ascension of Christ. Without Acts I still wouldn’t accept your allegedly plain reading, because it’s actually still foreign to the text. It is a purely subjective and anachronistic reading of it.

        • adam

          “I fault you for failing to read the author on his terms.”

          And I fault YOU https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8638fdedfe8fad3b245ca0981085794967c878d6bfba020d03d8b426a1c98936.jpg

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

          Count days as Luke would in his own time. He wasn’t writing to 21st century people.

          Irrelevant. Do you use base-60 positional notation when writing about Babylonians?

          I fault you for failing to read the author on his terms.

          If I erred in that area, that would be relevant. You’ve shown me nothing to think that I did.

          If you didn’t miss the rollover then you’d mention it or take it into account.

          Should I have dressed like Luke when doing this analysis? Should I have traveled to the Middle East before making my comment?

          If not, then I don’t have to take Jewish calendar rules into account. When you said that Acts claims 40 days for Jesus’s stay on earth after the resurrection, I noticed the glaring absence of the asterisk to your comment, “Luke said ‘40 days,’ so let’s hesitate before we assume that’s 40 days as we would compute it. It could mean 40 sunrise-through-sunset periods, or maybe just 40 sunsets (that is, day rollover moments). Let’s be cautious and say that it was 40 days (as we count them) plus or minus 1.”

          Please make this correction in the future.

          But you didn’t, and that doesn’t make you an objective reader.

          There’s a lot of that going around, apparently. Or perhaps this “You didn’t count days as Luke would’ve!!!!” argument is irrelevant.

          Luke and Acts don’t conflict, except only in your mind.

          Ain’t Christianity marvelous?! You just assume your answer and hammer everything else to fit. And there are no contradictions when contradictions are declared at the outset as impossible.

          Without Acts I still wouldn’t accept your allegedly plain reading, because it’s actually still foreign to the text.

          Uh huh. The text clearly implies that there was a lo-o-o-ong time gap in there. Or not.

        • Agabu

          “Irrelevant. Do you use base-60 positional notation when writing about Babylonians?”

          Of course, you’d say that. It kills your one day nonsense. Alas, it remains very relevant no matter your protestations. As for the Babylonians, I’d deal with them according to their own peculiar culture and customs. They’re best understood that way.

          “If I erred in that area, that would be relevant. You’ve shown me nothing to think that I did.”

          It is relevant, and you did err. I detect a dose of stubbornness for its own sake creeping up here.

          “Should I have dressed like Luke when doing this analysis?”

          Hmmm…that’s not such a bad idea. I’m sure you’d rock it. First century fashion sense may be the envy of Versace and Gucci.

          “Should I have traveled to the Middle East before making my comment? “

          Who knows, that may do you some good. Some Middle Eastern fresh air aint so bad. I hear they have a killer locust delicacy.

          “If not, then I don’t have to take Jewish calendar rules into account. When you said that Acts claims 40 days for Jesus’s stay on earth after the resurrection, I noticed the glaring absence of the asterisk to your comment, “Luke said ‘40 days,’ so let’s hesitate before we assume that’s 40 days as we would compute it. It could mean 40 sunrise-through-sunset periods, or maybe just 40 sunsets (that is, day rollover moments). Let’s be cautiou s and say that it was 40 days (as we count them) plus or minus 1.”
          Please make this correction in the future.”

          Grasping at straws aint doing you any favours here. Your one day thing is a corpse. Bury it.

          “There’s a lot of that going around, apparently. Or perhaps this “You didn’t count days as Luke would’ve!!!!” argument is irrelevant.”

          The resurrection appearances mentioned in Luke 24 happened across two days. Deal with it.

          “Ain’t Christianity marvelous?! You just assume your answer and hammer everything else to fit. And there are no contradictions when contradictions are declared at the outset as impossible.”

          This coming from a guy who invalidates the supernatural from the outset. Contradictions still just live in your mind, because reasons. I didn’t do anything of the sort.

          “Uh huh. The text clearly implies that there was a lo-o-o-ong time gap in the re. Or not.”

          How funny. You create a straw man, and then destroy him. Sure Bob, I’ll destroy him with you. Die lo-o-o-ong time gap straw man. Die I say. The text simply doesn’t specify, leaving it open ended. It could be long. It could be short, we just don’t know from the text. But thankfully Luke wrote another account to the most excellent Theophilus and clarifies it for us.

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

          Of course, you’d say that. It kills your one day nonsense.

          What’s my “one day nonsense”? That, if we consider timekeeping as the Jews did, it would actually be two days? I don’t see this as being a big deal.

          As for the Babylonians, I’d deal with them according to their own peculiar culture and customs. They’re best understood that way.

          Oh? Then answer my question directly. Tell my, “Yes, indeed, one must always use base 60 in any article about the Babylonians. I would say that there are 10 minutes in an hour, for example.”

          Hmmm…that’s not such a bad idea. I’m sure you’d rock it. First century fashion sense may be the envy of Versace and Gucci.

          Can’t answer this question either, I see.

          Grasping at straws aint doing you any favours here. Your one day thing is a corpse. Bury it.

          Happy to. Let me correct myself by stating: “The gospel of Luke says that Jesus stayed one day before flying up to heaven (or quite possibly two days in some interpretations of Jewish timekeeping). Either one makes mincemeat of the claim in Acts that he actually stayed here for 40 days (plus or minus, if you are converting into Western timekeeping).”

          I fear you’re straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

          This coming from a guy who invalidates the supernatural from the outset.

          Wrong.

          The text simply doesn’t specify, leaving it open ended. It could be long. It could be short, we just don’t know from the text. But thankfully Luke wrote another account to the most excellent Theophilus and clarifies it for us.

          Unlike your strawman, I’m happy to consider the supernatural. I do it daily. Are you equally happy to consider that the Bible might be contradictory in this instance? Ask an impartial observer how many days (and don’t tell him the correct answer beforehand). See what you get.

        • Agabu

          “What’s my “one day nonsense”? That, if we consider timekeeping as the Jews did, it would actually be two days? I see this as being a big deal.”

          It isn’t one day, it’s across two days. Luke’s resurrection appearances cover two identifiable days and an undefined period of time from those two days to the ascension of Christ. Even if the Jews start their days at sundown, they still measure the same kind of day we do that has a sunrise and a sunset. Nobody was walking around with a Rolex back then.

          “Oh? Then answer my question directly. Tell my, “Yes, indeed, one must always use base 60 in any article about the Babylonians. I would say that there are 10 minutes in an hour, for example.”

          I don’t have to answer this. It’s a deflection moving us away from the real issues. It’s just plain silly.

          “Happy to. Let me correct myself by stating: “The gospel of Luke says that Jesus stayed one day before flying up to heaven (or quite possibly two days in some interpretations of Jewish timekeeping). Either one makes mincemeat of the claim in Acts that he actually stayed here for 40 days (plus or minus, if you are converting into Western timekeeping).”
          I fear you’re straining at gnats and swallowing camels.”

          No it doesn’t. From the second day of the week to the ascension of Christ, that space of time is undefined. I already gave a thorough-going explanation before, which you haven’t addressed except hand-wave it away. Straining gnats and swallowing camels, sounds more like you. I get it. Keeping the contradiction going gives your criticisms an aura of legitimacy. The problem is that only flies in a schoolyard, not in the arena of real critical analysis.

          “Wrong.”

          You don’t seem to keep track of what you say, eh?. I’ll say it again, You invalidate the supernatural from the outset. You said so yourself, and I quote, “Rule of thumb: if the story has insanely unbelievable elements to it (like a resurrection from the dead, just to take a random example), the entire story is suspect.” Or again, “My working hypothesis is that if it’s supernatural, it’s false.”

          “Unlike your strawman, I’m happy to consider the supernatural. I do it daily. Are you equally happy to consider that the Bible might be contradictory in this instance? Ask an impartial observer how many days (and don’t tell him the correct answer beforehand). See what you get.”

          As shown above, you seem to speak with two mouths about the supernatural. I’m happy to consider that the Bible might be contradictory here. However, it just isn’t. An “impartial observer’s” reading is irrelevant, what the passage actually says in context within the perimeters of its genre is the issue. The Gospels are susceptible to misreading or misinterpretation even by so-called “impartial observers. Could I be misreading it, possibly. That can only be determined by showing what it conflicts with in the immediate passage or the entire context of the whole book of Luke. Your reading is inconsistent with day numeration in Luke offering interpretations which cut and paste him rather than try to treat him responsibly on his terms. You ignore small details in the text that show time sequencing and such, and breaks that introduce a different setting like the time marker that propels us forward to the time of the ascension of Christ without readily identifying when this actually happened. At this point, Luke’s concern is that it happened. If the most excellent Theophilus had questions about the length of time from the resurrection to the ascension, Luke decisively answered that question almost right off the bat at the very beginning in Acts 1:3.

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

          From the second day of the week to the ascension of Christ, that space of time is undefined. I already gave a thorough-going explanation before, which you haven’t addressed except hand-wave it away.

          Nope. I asked for the critique of an impartial observer. No handwaving required.

          You don’t seem to keep track of what you say, eh?. I’ll say it again, You invalidate the supernatural from the outset. You said so yourself, and I quote, “Rule of thumb: if the story has insanely unbelievable elements to it (like a resurrection from the dead, just to take a random example), the entire story is suspect.” Or again, “My working hypothesis is that if it’s supernatural, it’s false.”

          And the problem is . . . ? I’d be quite surprised if this wasn’t the way most Christians approach supernatural claims from other religions.

          The Gospels are susceptible to misreading or misinterpretation even by so-called “impartial observers.”

          Huh? Just how hard is this book of yours to understand?!

          If you’re saying that there are idioms or cultural issues that may be relevant, yes, of course.

          46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

          You need a scholar to understand the subtleties of the bold part?

          At this point, Luke’s concern is that it happened.

          The duration of Jesus’s stay on earth after the resurrection is immensely important. If he stayed for a day, doing little more than saying goodbye, that’s one thing. If he stayed for weeks, then one wonders what else he taught. The entire story is finally laid out. What could Jesus build on that platform? In John’s second ending, he talks about the miracles of Jesus’s life not being containable in a world of books. What wouldn’t you give to have been able to witness his teachings after his resurrection?

        • Agabu

          “Nope. I asked for the critique of an impartial observer. No handwaving required.”

          Your ‘impartial observer’ may conclude what you assume about the text, and perhaps he or she may not be misinterpreting the text but s/he is not an authority on the fact that the text is to be read that way. The author of the work is. Your appeal to your so-called ‘impartial observer’ is fallacious. In the end, reading Luke for all his worth is the issue.

          “And the problem is . . . ? I’d be quite surprised if this wasn’t the way most Christians approach supernatural claims from other religions.”

          The problem is you claim to allow for supernatural claims, when these quotes from you suggest otherwise. Your inconsistency here is greatly problematic. I can’t speak for other Christians, but I don’t approach supernatural claims from other religions in this way. I neither presume their falsity nor their truth before considering their lines of evidence. After all, the evidence will speak for itself if it is at all credible. I’m yet to encounter anything of the sort from other religions.

          “Huh? Just how hard is this book of yours to understand?!
          If you’re saying that there are idioms or cultural issues that may be relevant, yes, of course.”

          It’s not about how hard it is. It’s about its susceptibility to misinterpretation. You don’t seem to grant that you may be misreading Luke at all, which is the problem. Your misinterpretations abound in this section of Luke due to ignoring or overlooking certain details as well as presuming your interpretation is the right one because it just is.

          “46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

          You need a scholar to understand the subtleties of the bold part?”

          You need all the available tools of interpretation, particularly if you come across somebody who offers a different interpretation of the text, instead of assuming your reading as the ‘obvious’ one for no reason other than it just is. A scholar is one resource that may be used, if needed to bring some clarity. After all, you are reading or quoting a Bible that was translated by people professionally trained and skilled in the original languages as they were spoken in the first century. In other words, you’re still tacitly relying on scholars.

          “The duration of Jesus’s stay on earth after the resurrection is immensely important. If he stayed for a day, doing little more than saying goodbye, that’s one thing. If he stayed for weeks, then one wonders what else he taught. The entire story is finally laid out. What could Jesus build on that platform? In John’s second ending, he talks about the miracles of Jesus’s life not being containable in a world of books. What wouldn’t you give to have been able to witness his teachings after his resurrection? “

          The Gospels tell us what Christ taught after He rose from the dead. There’s enough information in the four Gospels and in Acts for instance to give us a sense of what Jesus talked about over the 40 days after His resurrection. This my friend is enough for me. The entire story is laid out well in the New Testament documents that it lends itself meaningful study and analysis. It’s very accessible to anyone anywhere on earth. Jesus built the Church made up of people from every known language, ethnicity, nation and tribe, through the emissaries He commissioned to teach everything He’d commanded them. To this day, there are Christians drawn from virtually every people group on earth anywhere where there’s an identifiable human society that remains unmatched in degree by anything else. Christianity is the most evenly spread out faith on the planet consistently growing through a dynamic missionary and evangelistic enterprise.

        • adam

          ” After all, the evidence will speak for itself if it is at all credible. I’m yet to encounter anything of the sort from other religions.”

          And yet unable to provide anything of the sort for your own religion. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dfa1d5f877fc039ad3bd7801686b0d520ea5900bfcc9474012fdaaa5dbe69773.jpg

        • Agabu

          I already have. You just seem too thick to get it. That line of people wanting a reassuring lie, it pretty much describes you to a tee. The fact of a God that will judge you for everything you do, is always an inconvenient truth. It’s more reassuring to pretend He doesn’t exist.

        • adam

          “The fact of a God that will judge you for everything you do”

          But you’ve not demonstrated that YOUR “God” is anything but IMAGINARY..

          ” It’s more reassuring to pretend He doesn’t exist.”

          ONLY if it is a MONSTER….

          It wouldnt be reassuring IF there was a Loving God.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/53ec94e8083d59120089cc69072da442139819ed8f409d30ac86093d1acf7ba9.jpg

        • MNb

          That part is correct. The prospect that your god’s judgment will be me sharing eternity with you and your ilk is anything but reassuring and convenient.

        • Agabu

          Which is your prerogative Mnb. You are privileged with deciding these things for your self. I’d rather you avoided the doom that awaits the unbelieving, but the choice is yours and yours alone.

        • Susan

          I’d rather you avoided the doom that waits the unbelieving.

          Stop. Seriously. I am laughing so hard that I can hardly breathe.

          (Whew!) OK… getting my typing fingers back.

          MNb explained why heaven, even if taken seriously, (and there is thus far no reason to take it seriously) would be an abysmal place. An eternity with you sounds infinitely dismal.

        • Agabu

          It’s not eternity with me. I’m not God. It’s eternity with the great and glorious God. If you are there with me enjoying the awesomeness, beauty and excellence of God, why would that be a bad thing when God is the point of it all, not me. Do you seriously wish me that much ill? I certainly do not wish you any such ill will. I still would rather have you experience God’s wondrous unmerited favour in an exceedingly beautiful, exciting, and joyous new reality all at the cost of your pride and selfishness before the throne of God because of Christ’s death and resurrection on your behalf if you choose to accept it. Otherwise, damnation awaits. Laugh it off, ignore it, refuse it or whatever, this is the deal.

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

          It’s eternity with the great and glorious God.

          And all those people frying in hell? You just don’t pay attention to their screams? There are billions down there–wouldn’t that bother you? Or is your bliss so great that you just don’t give a shit about anyone else?

        • Agabu

          Nobody will be frying in hell Bob. Fire is just a metaphor for very real bodily torment as well as very real mental and psychological anguish, regret and sorrow of an unending sort. Why would people getting what they actually deserve bother me? That’s actually something to rejoice in. We actually do that now when unrepentant bad people finally get their cummupins. We celebrate when good triumphs over evil. If somebody is in hell that doesn’t deserve it, that would bother me. But thank God that is never going to be the case. God is reliably and unwaveringly just.

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

          Why would people getting what they actually deserve bother me? That’s actually something to rejoice in.

          I needed that tough love. Thank you, brother. Those people who are forever in “very real bodily torment as well as very real mental and psychological anguish, regret and sorrow of an unending sort” got what they deserved. Fuck ’em.

          I remember the rich man saying, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” A trillion years from now, we can laugh at the rich man still in agony. I mean, seriously, fuck him, amirite??

          We actually do that now when unrepentant bad people finally get their cummupins.

          (I assume you mean “comeuppance.”)

          But no, punishment on earth is not even close to what God has created for the unrepentant. On earth it’s in proportion to the crime. God’s Justice 2.0® is infinite and very disproportionate. We’ve got a long way to go before we understand that as just.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Talking more bubbles a see. You do realise folk around here are just laughing at your preaching at this point, don’t ya?

        • MNb

          No, you’d not rather me avoided the doom. According to you no matter what I choose, doom awaits me. Sharing eternity with you and your ilk is a form of doom.

        • Agabu

          Choose life through Christ and live or else not and suffer the consequences that come with it.

        • MNb

          Exactly. The consequence of choosing life through your christ will mean suffering the company of you and your ilk – and if you’re right forever and ever. There isn’t a darker and worse doom than that. With every comment your write you confirm that.
          See, I know how that doom looks like.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_Belt_(Netherlands)

          I’ve seen people like you, who have made your choice. They already live in a metaphorical lake of fire. And according to you it only gets worse after I die, no matter what my choice is.
          Fortunately I think I’ve a third option.

          1. Agabu is right and I make his choice: doom awaits me.
          2. Agabu is right and I don’t make his choice: doom awaits me.
          3. Agabu is wrong so I don’t make his choice: things will turn out OK.

        • Michael Neville

          Why do so many Christians resort to threats when talking to atheists? “Yer goin’ ta Hell ’cause ya don’ believe” is a threat. If your god is going to punish me for not believing in him then he doesn’t deserve my belief. And it doesn’t say much about you that you actually worship a narcissistic bully.

        • Agabu

          Is that what you think I was doing? The elucidation of impending judgment isn’t a threat, it’s a warning that’s about informing anyone willing to listen of that doom. If you care about the well-being of anyone at all, wouldn’t telling them about this fact be the responsible and loving thing to do? If there is a hell (and there is), where one is going to suffer anguish, sorrow and torment for the evil things one has done, wouldn’t you want to be spared such endless punishment? Wouldn’t it be a travesty, to keep this from you, especially when there is a way to avoid it all via faith in Christ?

        • Michael Neville

          You call it a warning, I call it a threat, a terrorist threat from your god. I don’t believe in negotiating with terrorists.

          It still doesn’t say much about you that you worship a terrorist.

        • Agabu

          I worship the only true God. He is sovereign, holy and majestic. He is full of compassion, abounding in love, merciful, good and kind. He always ever rejoices in the truth. He loves what’s right but hates all evil. He gives grace to the humble but opposes the proud and arrogant. He delights in the righteous but punishes the wicked. The terrorist you describe is none other than the devil himself and everyone he deceives into disregarding God, and not God. If I worshiped a terrorist, the God of the Bible is the last one I’d choose. In the kind of world we live in, the only persons perpetuating terrorism are folks much like that reflection staring back at you in the mirror.

        • Michael Neville

          According to your own propaganda your god is a sadistic, narcissistic bully who kills people just because he can. You prove this by admitting that I’ll be punished forever because I don’t believe in your thuggish god. That’s not loving, that’s abusive. And it still doesn’t say much for you that you’re actually proud of worshiping a terrorist god.

          And fuck you for calling me a terrorist, asshole. Please, just fuck yourself in every orifice because you’re just like your god, a hatefilled pustule on the ass of humanity.

        • Agabu

          Give me a specific instance from anywhere in the Good Book where the good Lord kills people just because He can for no good reason whatsoever. Let’s have a look at it and responsibly analyse it to see if it is really as you say.

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

          You mean like the good Lord in Job? He stood by while Satan killed Job’s children and servants.

          His response to Job’s complaint was basically, “You talking to me, bitch? Yeah, get back to me when you’ve created a fucking planet. Until then, I’ll do what I feel like.”

        • Agabu

          I’ll give you one thing here Bob, you really cracked me up with how you characterize God’s response to Job’s complaint. I was in stitches. Oh man, hallelujah!

          Anyway, God didn’t stand by while Satan killed Job’s children and servants. God calls Job “my servant” (Job 1:8) and Satan acknowledges that God has placed a hedge of protection around him (Job 1:10). All this to say, God was always with Job. God took everything Job had in response to a challenge that sought to impugn Job’s character as well as God’s character (Job 1:11). This was what was at stake. Satan accused Job of looking out for himself, which was also an assault on God’s claims about Job being a man of complete integrity (Job 1:8). The glory, honour and integrity of God was at stake. Through Job, God was challenged to vindicate Himself. This is essentially what the book of Job is all about. Job’s sufferings, Satan’s challenges and Job’s wife and friends responses are all assaults on the glory, goodness and righteousness of God. Here you are insinuating that God acted un-righteously towards Job, his children and servants in agreement with Satan no less who is a lying moron in the story. The reality is He didn’t.

          You are right in saying that God challenged Job to produce a natural wonder like he could, like as you say creating “a fucking planet”. Job of course couldn’t. The point being, there’s a big difference between you and I little man. I’m God and you’re not. I know a great deal more than you do. Conclusion: God made everything including you. So He doesn’t owe you explanations for anything, let alone have to answer to you. Since He’s the Creator and you’re the creature trust Him to do right because not only does He know more than you do but He knows everything better than you do. He is God plain and simple above and beyond everything in all creation. So it’s not a matter of God doing what He feels like, but a matter of God doing what is just, right and true under any circumstances because that is what is in His nature to do.

        • Michael Neville

          First of all, there is no “Good Book”. That’s an ignorant slang term for the Bible, used by ignorant bible thumpers who pretend their god is “good”.

          In Exodus your god kills a whole bunch of children because Pharaoh won’t listen to a political lobbyist. Why won’t Pharaoh listen, because Yahweh “hardened his heart” (Ex 9:12). Yahweh set Pharaoh up to fail and then killed children just for grins and giggles.

          There’s also the drowning of the whole world, including children, just because Yahweh is feeling pissed off. Nuking Sodom and Gomorrah killed a lot more kids. As I said, Yahweh kills people just because he can. The terms “innocent bystander” and “collateral damage” mean nothing to your sadistic terrorist god.

          As for you responsibly analyzing anything, that’s a joke. You’re in love with your thuggish god so mere facts and logic don’t mean shit to you. Your analyzing will consist of you saying “yer rong”.

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

          Yahweh set Pharaoh up to fail and then killed children just for grins and giggles.

          Actually not. Pharaoh capitulating too easily wouldn’t make his collapse grand enough. Yahweh deliberately set him up for the biggest fall possible for his own glory.

          Ex. 10:1-2 says: “I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them 2 that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”

        • Michael Neville

          That makes sense, considering that Exodus was almost certainly Hebrew propaganda, basically a small, uninfluential country saying, “Our god is a bigger badass than the gods of the local superpower.”

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

          Now, now, let’s be fair. Elisha was mocked for his baldness. If 42 goddamn kids did that to me, I’d feel totally justified in calling down celestial whoop-ass on them.

        • Michael Neville

          I can see Elisha flopping on his knees and saying: “Lord, these kids are being snotty to me. Time to do some smiting! Amen.”

        • Kodie

          I’ll play a little devil’s advocate and say it was just a coincidence the bear showed up.

        • Michael Neville

          Two bears actually. She-bears if you want to be precise. But even so, Elisha strikes me as a whiner.

        • Kodie

          Of course he is, and let’s call it an example in the bible when god is a vending machine. I thought patience was a virtue, I mean, god’s “answer” could have easily also been to tell Elisha that kids are assholes sometimes and grow up and rise above it like a grown-up. We could have gotten a lesson there, but no, we got the equivalent of some thin-skinned 2nd Amendment open-carry his rapid-fire machine gun on a bunch of children for calling him bald. Elisha, you are bald, deal with it.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ4Rq245wy0

        • Ignorant Amos

          I love some of the apologetics on this one. The children were not so much children, but juveniles or young men. The prophet wasn’t elderly either, so being mocked for being bald so young was particularly hurtful. Like that makes it okay under those criteria.

          Then there is this one, if the “young men” and “youthful bald prophet” trope isn’t cutting it…

          So, Elisha’s curse was not simply a case of a temperamental guy getting bit touchy about his appearance and calling down curses upon a group of kids for drawing attention to his baldness. Rather, it was a prophetic sign—at the very beginning of his service as God’s spokesperson—of YHWH’s displeasure at Israel’s covenantal disobedience, a warning that, without repentance, the other curses stipulated in the covenant were soon to come. Granted, modern sensibilities tend to be at odds with any sort of divine retribution—”How dare God kill anyone!” (Then again, a rather high percentage of people tend to die at the end of their lives anyway, suggesting it’s just a matter of when God chooses to “kill.”) This tends to be even more the case when involving children. But such a complaint involves more of a problem with the essential worldview reflected in the Bible at large; this is by no means a problematic passage if one is willing to take the worldview reflected in the text and accept God’s authority as judge. It is also important to note that God is the one who defends himself/his prophet here—no human being is taking into his/her own hands to defend God or himself against others in a violent manner. Elisha’s curse simply marks yet another occasion in which Israel’s rejection of God results in receiving the curses of the covenant, yet another milestone on the downward path towards the final, most serious of covenantal curses promised for disobedience—being scattered among the nations in exile.

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

          Why does God always need people to apologize for him? Why can’t he get up off the couch and do it himself?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed.

          If I was such a lazy bastard, the very least I would do would be to get some competent people to do the apologising. After all, he was able to get a 600 year old man to build a big boat and gather up at least two of everything to put inside it. A few decent apologist should be wee buns for an omnipotent, omniscient big I Am. But then I’m just a mere mortal.

        • Susan

          According to your own propaganda your god is a sadistic, narcissistic bully who kills people just because he can

          Not just people. Our felllow hominids (who are extinct at this point). Not just killed them but chose natural selection when it plucked reality out of metaphysical nothingness and tortured unimaginable life forms to death for hundreds of millions of years to death just so morons like Agabu could warn us about hell.

          A hatefilled pustule on the ass of humanity

          Yes. All that suffering just to make Agabu happy forever.

        • Myna

          I worship the only true God.

          Ain’t that Krishna grand?

          Bhagavad Gita 7.7: There is nothing higher than myself, O Arjun. Everything rests in me, as beads strung on a thread.

        • Susan

          If there is a hell (and there is)

          You’re hilarious.

        • Agabu

          I’m glad I could crack you up. Laughter, after all, is good medicine. But it’s no laughing matter. There is a hell for real and all evildoers are going there as their just dessert.

        • Susan

          it’s no laughing matter.

          But it is. Except when you terrorize children with the concept.

          There is a hell for real.

          I don’t believe you. You haven’t provided a single reason to take your claims (including the hell claim) seriously.

          all evildoers are going there

          I don’t believe you. That does not make me an evildoer. I haven’t done anything evil in the longest time.

          as their just dessert

          There is nothing “just” about the concept of hell.

          You’re hilarious.

          I’m going to sic my invisible fire-breathing dragon on you if you don’t cut it out.

        • Agabu

          “But it is. Except when you terrorize children with the hee concept.”

          What children are terrorized by the hell concept? What are the statistics available about these kids who are so traumatized by it that they’re in an asylum terrified to live their lives with other people in the real world?

          “I don’t believe you. You haven’t provided a single reason to take your claims (including the hell claim) seriously.”

          Of course, I haven’t. There hasn’t been an opportunity to lay it out clearly. It’s therefore understandable that you don’t believe me. I’m not asking you to take my word for it, believe it on account that Christ unapologetically taught it as the final abode of the unbelieving.

          “I don’t believe you. That does not make me an evildoer. I haven’t done anything evil in the longest time.”

          You haven’t done anything evil in the longest time? So you do admit to doing something evil at some point. How did you make up for it? How do you know that it isn’t something held against you anymore thereby giving you a clean slate where you’re not considered an evildoer anymore? Who is this supreme authority greater than yourself that guarantees that you’re forgiven of all your evil deeds and that you will never ever answer for them because somebody else took the punishment for them on your behalf?

          “There is nothing “just” about the concept of hell.
          You’re hilarious.”

          What’s not “just” about some people getting their just desserts? Hell is a place where evil or wickedness is justly and fairly punished, so what “unfairness” are you alleging?

          “I’m going to sic my invisible fire-breathing dragon on you if you don’t cut it out. “

          Wow! You got an invisible dragon? Send me a pic of it breathing fire. At least the fire ought to be very visible, or else you sitting on top of it seemingly hanging in mid air will suffice as long as you can establish the fact that the pic isn’t doctored.
          Unlike Carl Sagan, the only sensible approach isn’t to tentatively reject the dragon hypothesis out of hand, but to tentatively withhold belief until such a time credible evidence is made available within reasonable limits over a specified period of time. If said evidence isn’t forthcoming at all in any meaningful way, then and only then should one actually dispute whether this dragon is real at all other than just being in the claimants imagination.

        • Myna

          What children are terrorized by the hell concept?

          http://new.exchristian.net/2015/02/the-rapture-and-other-bedtime-stories.html

          What are the statistics available about these kids who are so traumatized by it that they’re in an asylum terrified to live their lives with other people in the real world?

          Susan never suggested anything of the sort.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Agabu is just acting like an ignorant arsewipe.

          The Doctrine of Hell Terrorizes!

          Below are testimonies of individuals who had been exposed to the teaching of a Hell of everlasting torment and what destruction it caused in their lives. These testimonies can easily be multiplied by the hundreds of millions.

          http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/hell_terrorizes.htm

          Anyone with half a brain cell already knows the Hell concept is terrifying to believers…adults, not just children…but Agabu just love being a dickhead.

        • Myna

          Agabu is just acting like an ignorant arsewipe.

          It is inherent in the nature of the self-aggrandizing troll who delights in controlling the message, I imagine. Cognitive dissonance combined with a lack of critical insight and basic comprehension is troubling enough, but it’s the outright lies that are starting to get to me, Amos. The deplorable twisting of words and meanings. I’m sick of it.

        • Susan

          What children are terrorized by the hell concept?

          I was and I know many others who were.

          Here’s the thing:

          If an adult says to a child, “If you and/or the people you love don’t believe exactly as I say and do exactly as I say… I will set them and/or you on fire”, it is obvious why that
          would terrorize.

          But if you say, “If you and/or the people you love don’t believe and do exactly as I say, an omnipotent being will set you on fire forever and ever and ever”, apparently I need to provide data to explain why that is terrorism.

          ‘Cause you’re an idiot.

          You are trying to scare us with your make-believe threats but we’re grownups who’ve either always known or who have learned how lame these threats are.

          Seven-year-olds don’t have that advantage.

          so what “unfairness” are you alleging?

          Eternal punishment for a non-eternal harm is insane. Not just.

          Wow! You got an invisible dragon? Send me a pic of it breathing fire

          I already did. It breathes invisible fire. Here’s another pic. (You didn’t watch the video, did you?)

          At least the fire ought to be very visible, or else you sitting on top of it seemingly hanging in mid air will suffice as long as you can establish the fact that the pic isn’t doctored.

          Ya think? So, there should be evidence that supports my claim when I threaten people?

          Unlike Carl Sagan, the only sensible approach isn’t to tentatively reject the dragon hypothesis out of hand

          But you’ve done that without blinking, haven’t you?

          Do you accept the invisible fire-breathing dragon hypothesis?

          I don’t have a picture, so you sound sceptical. I have zero evidence so you responded by dismissing my claim.

        • Agabu

          “Here’s the thing. If an
          adult says to a child, “If you and/or the people you love don’t believe exactly as I say and do exactly as I say… I will set them and/or you on fire”, it is obvious why that
          would be psychologically damaging.
          But if you say, “If you and/or the people you love don’t believe and do exactly as I say, an omnipotent being will set you on fire forever and ever and ever”, apparently I need to provide data to explain why that is terrorism. ‘Cause you’re an idiot.
          You are trying to scare us with your make-believe threats but we’re grownups who’ve either always known or who have learned how lame these threats are.
          Seven-year-olds don’t have that advantage.”

          I would agree with you if that’s how things really were. The thing is they’re not. All you’ve given here is ad hominem attacks, caricature and straw man arguments.

          “Eternal punishment for a non-eternal harm is insane. Not just.”

          What do you mean by non-eternal harm?

          “I already did. It breathes invisible fire. Here’s another pic. (You didn’t watch the video, did you?)”

          The video gave me nothing in the way of evidence for your dragon.

          “Ya think? So, there should be evidence that supports my claim when I threaten people?”

          Yes of course, at least of some people’s corpses who’ve been burned to a crisp by your invisible fire breathing dragon.

          “But you’ve done that without blinking, haven’t you? Do you accept the invisible fire-breathing hypothesis?I don’t have a picture, so you sound sceptical. I have zero evidence so you responded by dismissing my claim.”

          I asked for evidence, you gave me none. You’ve now admitted that you have none. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that your invisible fire breathing dragon is most likely a figment of your imagination. Because, if you really had this dragon there would be some kind of evidence for it.

        • Susan

          I would agree with you if that’s how things really were

          So far, that’s how they show themselves to be.

          The thing is, they’re not.

          You’ll have to show us how they’re not. Glad to see that you would agree if you can’t show that that’s how things really are. That’s important.

          All you’ve given here is ad hominem attacks, caricature and straw man arguments.

          You’re free to click on my comments, post them and show that that’s all I’ve given You can right click on the time stamp next to the comment, copy it and paste it into a combox and support that accusation.

          What do you mean by non-eternal harm?

          Give me an example of eternal harm. You’re threat is of eternal punishment and your justification is “justice”.

          I asked for evidence. You gave me none.

          I gave you exactly as much evidence as you provided when you threatened grownups with hell.

          Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that your invisible fire breathing dragon is most likely a figment of your imagination.

          at least of some people’s corpses who’ve been burned to a crisp by your invisible fire breathing dragon.

          It only burns their souls.

          if you really had this dragon there would be some kind of evidence for it.

          Yep.

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

          Unlike Carl Sagan, the only sensible approach isn’t to tentatively reject the dragon hypothesis out of hand, but to tentatively withhold belief until such a time credible evidence is made available within reasonable limits over a specified period of time.

          Someone tells you about a dragon and you’re going to sit on the knife edge with absolutely no gravitation to one side or another until you get evidence? Maybe it exists; maybe it doesn’t; you’ve got no preconceptions either way?

          Bullshit.

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

          Yep. Infinite torture is the fair response to not believing something that’s unbelievable.

        • Susan

          Infinite torture is the fair response to not believing something that’s unbelievable.

          What else could justice possibly mean?

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

          Is he so far gone that he can’t tell theology from argument?

        • Susan

          Is he so far gone that he can’t tell theology from argument?

          Judging from his commenting history, yes.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yip. Way, way far so gone.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A bubbling cockwomble.

        • MNb

          Then “your money or your life” isn’t a threat either.

          “If there is a hell, where one is going to suffer anguish, sorrow and torment for the evil things one has done, wouldn’t you want to be spared such endless punishment?”
          Yeah, spending eternity in the company of you and your ilk equals suffering anguish, sorrow and torment. Because I’d rather be spared from such endless punishment you won’t convert me.

        • Kodie

          It would be a travesty, wouldn’t it, for, as you put it “god has opted to” keep this from us, if it is true, by leaving it up to confused and befuddled gullible idiots like you to garble it up? YOU ARE NOT A CREDIBLE SOURCE. You are a fool. You sound like a nut. What you share is not gospel, it’s fiction. You are not a messenger, you are an egotistical idiot who has been appealed emotionally by a CORPORATION that is using you as a pawn. You get nothing, you promise nothing, and you warn nothing.

          That the god you worship has allowed you to blabber and sputter about this instead of make himself known, to me that’s indication that he doesn’t exist, and to you, you think, if there were anything to correct, he’d surely step in? Go the fuck away and think about how stupid people think you are for thinking what you think. You have no perspective on this.

        • adam

          ” If you care about the well-being of anyone at all, wouldn’t telling them about this fact be the responsible and loving thing to do? ”

          Loving thing to do?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f6edead041781202f80c75d015d387e6cc53a861b9cb5dd846e0f4dd40a5805a.jpg

        • adam

          “If there is a hell (and there is), where one is going to suffer anguish, sorrow and torment for the evil things one has done, ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/05cafdf4e54d70a9410dfd45f846304eb9891592e53b7561d59d1be03b899362.jpg

        • Kodie

          Inconvenience isn’t the reason atheists don’t believe your superstition. Thanks for threatening us with the judgment of a figment of your imagination, which is actually just your butthurt loser superstitious whining about what you wish would happen to people who don’t validate your sincere delusion. You can’t burn people with your wishes for making fun of your childish beliefs, so you wish up a guy you can pretend will do it for you.

        • Agabu

          No threats, just a word of warning that you can either accept or reject as you wish. Whatever you decide to make of it, it still stands offering eternal commendation for heeding its warning or else everlasting condemnation if you ignore it.

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

          I’m rather surprised that you’re so easygoing about this. What about Buddhist hell? I’ve been to the monasteries and seen the pictures. It ain’t pretty.

          So you’ve got that base covered? You’re living your life as a good Buddhist?

        • Agabu

          If the Buddhists actually have a more accurate approximation of reality, then I guess I’m going there since I’m such an unbeliever. But I gotta ask, “How the heck is there a heaven and hell without a supreme being to arbitrate and decide who is actually good and who is bad? Why is the Buddha worth trusting on his claims about heaven and hell as he conceived of them?”

          It is a curious thing, that the only one who gets to let us in on all this is the Buddha. a mere man who passed away long ago, who was first written about some 500 hundred years after he lived.

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

          http://www.lizaphoenix.com/demons/images/buddhisthell.jpg

          Buddhism is a big tent. It has no gods and lots of gods, depending.

          It is a curious thing …

          No, the curious thing is that your approach to Buddhism is exactly as skeptical as mine. You’re raising the kinds of questions that I would. And you’d do the same for Mormonism, Scientology, and so on.

          But you handle your own religious beliefs with kid gloves. I understand why, of course. No mystery here. But that is the elephant in the room, and you’re doing your best to pretend it doesn’t exist.

        • adam

          “The good news is at least I wont be there forever until I spring out to reborn again”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ca9775db9e9cd1970bf86b87154c7eefb1c8db8ce2eaba244aeb12366eb5f5c9.jpg

        • Susan

          No threats, just a word of warning that you can either accept or reject as you wish. Whatever you decide to make of it

          I make of it exactly what you make of the threat of my invisible fire-breathing dragon.

          And you havent provided a single reason to make anything else of it.

        • Agabu

          Totally up to you Susan. Heed and change course onto the straight and narrow or keep heading towards that perilous ditch at the end the wide road you’re on.

        • Susan

          Heed and change course.

          Watch out for my invisible fire-breathing dragon.

          It gets overprotective when people threaten me with nonsense.

        • Agabu

          That dragon sounds like quite a sweetie. Ride that thing to the gates of hell. Ride it hard Susie, and make a helluva an entrance before the sizzle fizzles into oblivion.

        • Susan

          Ride that thing to the gates of hell. Ride it hard Susie, and make a helluva an entrance before the sizzle fizzles into oblivion.

          You’re adorable.

        • Pofarmer

          So Agabu is into complete asshole proselytizing mode now. Isn’t that sweet.

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

          He can’t win the intellectual argument so he resorts to the lessons he learned in the schoolyard. “Oh yeah? You’ll be sorry when you’re dead! Then you’ll know that I’m right!”

        • adam

          “Ride that thing to the gates of hell. Ride it hard Susie, and make a
          helluva an entrance before the sizzle fizzles into oblivion.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e71894366d405a2560c124d806904b75ddf8371641ab58bc4449b6c60b966fb8.jpg

        • Rudy R

          And thats the ultimate message of all religions, either your with us or you’ll rot in Hell. And aren’t you the lucky one who worships the real god.

        • adam

          “Heed and change course onto the straight and narrow or keep heading
          towards that perilous ditch at the end of the wide road you’re on.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3d5d4a2909d67c62c518e6574ff1a0b42f6295b335ae8fd4039f6f765cefb813.jpg

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

          I marvel at your calm in the face of impending disaster.

          http://www.lizaphoenix.com/demons/images/buddhisthell.jpg

        • Kodie

          I’ll wait for a credible source. You are just a guy on the internet who fell for a scam.

        • adam

          “No threats, just a word of warning that you can either accept or reject as you wish”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/474299198fa468cb412454dc5c43a24444b671b390af392fb7d2e088f0031e1d.jpg

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

          It’s not about how hard it is. It’s about its susceptibility to misinterpretation.

          Just how tongue-tied is this god of yours? You’d think he could do a better job.

          There’s enough information in the four Gospels and in Acts for instance to give us a sense of what Jesus talked about over the 40 days after His resurrection. This my friend is enough for me.

          I’m sure it is. You’ve found an angle that gives you what you want, so you’re sticking with it. Where you fail is going from one possible interpretation to the only interpretation.

          Christianity’s scope and influence remains unmatched in degree by anything else.

          And . . .? When Islam’s scope and influence surpass Christianity’s, are you going to switch allegiance?

          As for the rest, you’re going in circles. I don’t think there’s any more from me that you’d be interested in reading.

        • Agabu

          “Just how tongue-tied is this god of yours? You’d think he could do a better job.”

          Nothing to do with God being tongue-tied. People confuse things, misinterpret and such. That’s the problem. God has elected to simply have us think through things and make up our minds about it as moral agents with the power of self-determination. Nothing is forcing you to believe the Gospel. You can accept it or reject it. That’s the beauty of it. But lets not pretend it’s for a lack of evidence.

          “I’m sure it is. You’ve found an angle that gives you what you want, so you’re sticking with it. Where you fail is going from one possible interpretation to the only interpretation.”

          I’m stick with it because it’s what squares with the facts. The point is always to get at the right interpretation.

          “And . . .? When Islam’s scope and influence surpass Christianity’s, are you going to switch allegiance?
          As for the rest, you’re going in circles. I don’t think there’s any more from me that you’d be interested in reading.”

          Not likely. Islam remains heavily concentrated in certain parts of the world only and is virtually absent in some parts of the world with no adherents whatsoever. How many Eskimos or indigenous Amazonian tribes men or pygmy peoples in the Congo basin or the Saan people in the Okavango in Botswana to name a few do you know who are Muslims? All these people groups I’ve mentioned have actual Christian representatives from among them. This is the spread I was talking about not mere numbers however inflated as if that proves anything. At least, it shows that Christianity reaches anyone anywhere who takes its truth claims seriously.

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

          People confuse things, misinterpret and such. That’s the problem.

          Which is why it’s obvious to me that a History of the Jewish People isn’t how God would convey his message.

          Nothing is forcing you to believe the Gospel. You can accept it or reject it. That’s the beauty of it.

          Forcing anyone to believe the gospel is very, very much not what anyone is talking about. Except maybe you.

        • Agabu

          “Which is why it’s obvious to me that a History of the Jewish People isn’t how God would convey his message.”

          Did God clue you in or something that He’s incapable of conveying His message through any humans whatsoever, seeing as it’s next to impossible for Him? Thankfully, it’s just “obvious” to you, and obviously something else to so many others throughout history whose lives have been changed by the contents of those remarkable sixty-six books.

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

          Since I’m not getting it, you’ll have to show me how a hodge-podge of inconsistent books written across 1000+ years would be God’s preferred way of communicating rather than a simple, unambiguous constitution.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If you want to use the ad populum fallacy as an answer, then two can play at that nonsense. You need to explain why a lot more people throughout human history didn’t get it than did, and why today more people don’t get the message than do, given that it is so obvious and all that?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not everyone’s lives have changed for the better through the content of those unremarkable sixty-six books.

          BTW, not all buybulls have 66 books. Some have as many as 81 books, the Catholics use one with 73 books…if you are using a 66 book buybull, you might not be getting ALL the obvious message. That’s if you are even one of the very few that has bothered to read the feckin’ thing.

        • Agabu

          Still tacitly admitting that some people’s lives have been changed for the better I see. Your mumblings about how many books in the Bible, irrelevant here. And yes, I have read the Good Book from cover to cover.

        • adam

          “Thankfully, it’s just “obvious” to you, and obviously something else to so many others throughout history whose lives have been changed by the contents of those remarkable sixty-six books.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/576b5354eb99d2993f45ae1c298d7ea1beb6be63a081a92e69a99632f9b856b3.jpg

          How remarkable.

        • Agabu

          Hmmm…I’d like for you to give me a passage in the Bible that says you should saw off the arms of a baby when the voice of God tells you too in a dream.

        • adam

          Unfortunately for baby Dena, the angels never came to stop her mother.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a87a9a131b668e45054b7bc51c1685306bf874cafb9126fcf8203ace8c765be8.jpg

          “7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

          8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

          9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

          10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/70b005e9c45ed58956f939fb051a847fca6981354646be103ef95c432658ced9.jpg

        • Agabu

          This is your proof? I didn’t see anything here that says one should kill a child if the voice of God says so. Man, you’re full of it.

        • adam

          Hey, when God speaks to you, who are you to disobey?

          THAT the lesson of Abraham, God can test your ‘faith’ by commanding you to kill your own child.

          Look, he killed his own son.

          God of the bible obviously has it out for children: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2cc44055c5339231f0c74be689bfcd26b4a683baa74097f02aaa9746f70099e4.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7bf2c5903bd31c63ade7c2254ddea26df3b1fa938214c6c4db160ffe36546367.jpg

        • Agabu

          That’s the lesson you derive from the Abraham story? Seriously dude, you got issues. One wonders why there’s no denomination among the thousands that stipulates killing one’s children at God’s behest using the Abraham and his boy Isaac story.

        • adam

          “That’s the lesson you derive from the Abraham story? ”

          Well, that is what the bible says:

          “17By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
          18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
          19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”

          “One wonders why there’s no denomination among the thousands that
          stipulates killing one’s children at God’s behest using the Abraham and
          his boy Isaac story.”

          No, it is an easy answer, those denominations have better morals that the ‘God’ they claim to worship.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f661dbb0086fe8af53b2ce2c5f79fee4d79a39be875ddded1bf36ba78fc4b5cf.jpg

        • Myna

          At least, it shows that Christianity reaches anyone anywhere who takes its truth claims seriously.

          You are talking about isolated peoples who live in cultures easily prey to superstition. Christianity has brought more misery to these people than prosperity. Giving only one example among many, it has severely damaged the textile industry in Africa.

          Here’s a link to the spread of Christian manure and the damage it has done: http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/mission.html

        • Agabu

          How insulting you are of other people Myna. This sort of racist tendency, bigotry and prejudice you’re exhibiting is why Christianity grows among many groups even in remote places unlike the real manure that is western atheism that almost no indigenous cultures ever embrace to any degree whatsoever. It’s sits on a high horse of alleged intellectual honesty, while looking down its nose at others who are derided at holding to superstition because western secularists have it all figured out.

          There’s no such thing as people who easily fall prey to superstition. There’s just people who choose to believe what they want to believe because they are moral agents with the power of self-determination. We’re not dealing with immature children here without the ability to make up their own minds. The struggles on the African continent have less to do with Christianity and more to do with the evil that men do. Biblical Christianity has always had a civilizing influence. The evils you speak of have no sanction anywhere in the Bible. Give me a teaching anywhere in the Bible that says that if you fail to convert anyone to the Christian faith kill them, otherwise you’re full of it.

          The link you provided is nothing more than rants against missionaries, who as human beings made many mistakes, which is to be expected. That doesn’t say anything about the Christian worldview itself or whether it even tolerates the misdeeds of some missionaries. Absent in any of this raving and ranting is the quotation of any portion of the Bible that actually promotes certain vices as good things. We conveniently don’t get anything in the way of that. You got do better than that.

        • Myna

          What the fuck are you talking about, you ignorant, babbling sot. Where are you from? Where have you traveled? What have you seen? What peoples have you provided medicine to? How many people have you buried? How many cultures have you seen dying or destroyed? Fuck you, and the ass you rode in on.

        • Agabu

          “What the fuck are you talking about, you ignorant, babbling sot.”

          Slavery in the OT.

          “Where are you from? ”

          Neither here nor there.

          “Where have you traveled?”

          Here and there.

          ” What have you seen?”

          Plenty.

          “What peoples have you provided medicine to?”

          I’m not a doctor dammit. Unless you count my missionary travels to distant lands to provide food and medicine to some rural folk experiencing drought and famine.

          “How many people have you buried?”

          Why, you think I’ve never lost someone ever to death? You really gotta learn to reign in that prejudicial tendency.

          “How many cultures have you seen dying or destroyed?”

          Are you blind? This sorta thing is happening all around us.

          “Fuck you, and the ass you rode in on.”

          Thanks. I guess you needed to get that off your chest. But leave the donkey out of it. The beast has served me well. What, you hate animals or something?

        • Myna

          Just another bullshit blathering without any substance from Agabu. You are so full of shit, you reek of it. Snort out more inane idiocy if you wish, it makes no difference to me.

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

          “any portion of the Bible that actually promotes certain vices as good things.”

          You mean like the slavery part? Lev. 25:44-46 is fun bedtime reading.

        • Agabu

          How is the slavery mentioned here a vice? What mistreatment is being promoted towards “slaves”? What sort of pain is to be inflicted on said “slaves” without cause just for the fun of it?

          This is the problem of quoting isolated passages from the Bible without considering everything said on the matter and its cultural setting, you end up with glib and flimsy insinuations alleging evil. While I’d love to talk about “slavery” in the OT, as well as its reality in NT times that is subject matter worth a book length treatment. So I digress.

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

          How is the slavery mentioned here a vice? What mistreatment is being promoted towards “slaves”?

          They’re slaves. Do I have to explain why this is a bad thing? Or are you splitting hairs and calling slavery sinful or evil (say) instead of a vice?

          This is the problem of quoting isolated passages from the Bible without considering everything said on the matter and its cultural setting, you end up with glib and flimsy insinuations alleging evil.

          Uh, no, no need to worry about flimsy insinuations of evil. God gave slavery for life two thumbs up. That’s pretty messed up.

        • Agabu

          Yeah, you need to explain why this is bad. It bothered me once especially in view of colonial Europe and the Americas form of enslavement, which was horrendously wicked, until I looked into it a bit more closely and found that there was nothing bad, evil or wicked about the “slavery” in the OT. It’s just not the vice critics make it out to be because something else entirely is going on here that shows God’s goodness and grace towards especially poor non-Israelites of that era.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah, you need to explain why this is bad.

          How much training do you put in to be such an asinine asshat?

          So, you would be fine with yourself and your family being a slave in the sense of that of the OT?

          When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.

          However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.

          If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever.

          When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.

          Owning people and beating them is wrong. It might have been okay in OT times, but today, most people see it as wrong. The omniscient YahwehJesus doesn’t seem to know this even though he says, “Do to others what you would want them to do to you.”

        • Agabu

          “Owning people and beating them is wrong.”

          Ya think? Even the Bible tells you that. No person is owned. It is their servitude that is in view. This is why the text makes it clear that if you beat a slave and they die you get punished. If they survive after a day or two, you lost their service in that period, therefore no further punishment needed. If you actually owned “owned” the person like livestock, you’d be given rights to slaughter them whenever you liked as food or whatever. We have nothing of the sort being encouraged in any of the cases you cite.

          Notice how there is actually no passage which sanctions beating “slaves” or promotes it as a good thing to do, let alone something a “master” is entitled to do. One was always liable under OT law for hurting another human being, even if that person was your “slave.” This is biblical jurisprudence delineating case law under certain circumstances highlighting God’s protection, care and concern for people in any situation.

          It would seem God knows far more and better than you do, and actually responsibly applies the Golden Rule even in the “slave/master” relationship. There’s nothing here except your misunderstanding my ignorant amigo.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Even the Bible tells you that.

          Yeah…but the Buybull is full of contradictions, so pah!

          No person is owned.

          You and I must have a different idea of what owning something means.

          Slavery is a legal or economic system in which principles of property law are applied to humans allowing them to be classified as property, to be owned, bought and sold accordingly, and they cannot withdraw unilaterally from the arrangement. While a person is enslaved, the owner is entitled to the productivity of the slave’s labour, without any remuneration. The rights and protection of the slave may be regulated by laws and customs in a particular time and place, and a person may become a slave from the time of their capture, purchase or birth.

          The Buybull describes slavery ya fuckin’ moron…grow a set of balls and own it.

          It is their servitude that is in view.

          Oh ffs, not this contrived apologetic again.

          servitude:- the state of being a slave or completely subject to someone more powerful.

          : – a condition in which one lacks liberty especially to determine one’s course of action or way of life

          Using a different word is just playing semantics.

          This is why the text makes it clear that if you beat a slave and they die you get punished. If they survive after a day or two, you lost their service in that period, therefore no further punishment needed.

          Well, that makes it all okay then.

          But wait a wee minute, how can this be? Rules for beating slaves? Did you not clearly say no one is owned and there is nobeating…coz the Buybull sayz it somewhere?

          If you actually owned “owned” the person like livestock, you’d be given rights to slaughter them whenever you liked as food or whatever.

          Seriously? You are going with this line of shite? Have you ever owned a dog? You do know you are not allowed to beat a dog to death, right? Heck, there are even rules on the humane destruction of livestock for food in most civilised societies. That’s because we recognise that unnecessary suffering should be avoided.

          We have nothing of the sort being encouraged in any of the cases you cite.

          Listen ya fuckin’ clown. Humans don’t treat all their possessions equally. We tend to look after certain possessions better than others depending on their value and usage. Livestock for food was breed to eventually be destroyed. Slaves, were not so much. Your analogy is a false equivalence.

          The purpose of slaves is not to be slaughtered for food. Different rules apply.

          “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.”

          Yes, I know, the verses on slavery in the Buybull all over the place. Nevertheless, the book has rules on how one should manage ones slaves…rules allegedly handed down by the big I Am.

          Notice how there is actually no passage which sanctions beating “slaves” or promotes it as a good thing to do, let alone something a “master” is entitled to do.

          Ag’s, you said there was no slavery, so why would there be a passage not sanctioning beating the no slaves.

          The Buybull doesn’t use scare quotes when it refers to slaves and their masters, why do you?

          I guess if beating ones slaves was the normal behaviour of the day, which by all accounts, it was, then why would there need to be specific sanctions to do so? Certain rules for what should happen when certain things go wrong while beating ones slaves, say dying on day one, or putting an eye out, or knocking a tooth out, I could see a need for clarification.

          One was always liable under OT law for hurting another human being, even if that person was your “slave.”

          But according to you, there was no slaves, so moot. Except you are talking a loada bubbles. Under the OT Law, there was rules for when one was liable for hurting others and when one was not…including the penalties.

          “Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely. If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve.”

          This is biblical jurisprudence delineating case law under certain circumstances highlighting God’s protection, care and concern for people in any situation.

          Biblical jurisprudence for Hebrews ya mean.

          There are 19 mitzvot on how to deal with ones “Employees, Servants and Slaves

          Hebrew servants are not to be treated ruthlessly. In comparison to what do you think? Well let’s have look….

          Leviticus states…

          39“ ‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.

          44“ ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

          Yip…slavery in the Buybull alright.

        • Agabu

          “Slavery is a legal or economic system in which principles of property law are applied to humans allowing them to be classified as property, to be owned, bought and sold accordingly, and they cannot withdraw unilaterally from the arrangement.

          I see this is the definition of slavery you’re bringing to the Bible. The problem is that isn’t the Bible’s definition of the “slavery” God instituted for Israel. First, recognize that the Bible does not say God supports slavery. In fact, the slavery described in the Old Testament was quite different from the kind of slavery we think of today – in which people are captured and sold as slaves. According to Old Testament law, anyone caught selling another person into slavery was to be executed: “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16)
          So, obviously, slavery during Old Testament times was not what we commonly recognize as slavery, such as that practiced in the 17th century Americas, when Africans were captured and forcibly brought to work on plantations. Unlike our modern government welfare programs, there was no safety-net for ancient Middle Easterners who could not provide a living for themselves. In ancient Israel, people who could not provide for themselves or their families sold them into slavery so they would not die of starvation or exposure. In this way, a person would receive food and housing in exchange for labour. This is important and worth keeping in mind.

          “While a person is enslaved, the owner is entitled to the productivity of the slave’s labour, without any remuneration. The rights and protection of the slave may be regulated by laws and customs in a particular time and place, and a person may become a slave from the time of their capture, purchase or birth.”

          I know this is one of those favourite skeptical pet peeves to keep perceived errors in the Bible going, because reasons. The thing is your criticisms are all over the place lacking in coherence and consistency. You assume capture, when the Bible expressly forbids it as stated earlier. You assume that I make beating slaves ok, when I already pointed out that it isn’t. Try to understand my ignorant amigo that although there are rules about “slavery” in the Bible, those rules exist to protect the slave, not to create an industry of enslavement. Injuring or killing slaves was punishable – up to death of the offending party. Hebrews were commanded not to make their slave work on the Sabbath, slander a slave, have sex with another man’s slave, or return an escaped slave. A Hebrew was not to enslave his fellow countryman, even if he owed him money, but was to have him work as a hired worker, and he was to be released in 7 years or in the year of jubilee (which occurred every 50 years), whichever came first. In fact, the slave owner was encouraged to “pamper his slave”.

          “Slavery” in the OT was a welfare mechanism for poor people. No person lost their rights as human beings in the practice. It was never even instituted as a form of punishment for convicted criminals. It was simply designed to help people in unfortunate circumstances. It was an ancient Middle Eastern contract one entered into willingly with duties and obligations for a specified period of time. The “slave” isn’t a pawn that is forcibly sold into “slavery” against their will. Many of the nations around Israel treated slaves in very uncivilsed ways. The treatment of “slaves” in ancient Israel emphasized human dignity unlike the nations around that often emphasized the master’s prerogatives at the expense of the well-being of the person.

        • Kodie

          God isn’t the only thing you’re fooling yourself about. That’s what I get out of this bullshit slavery “explanation” you parrot.

        • Agabu

          There, there Kodie. Take it easy. I know your “no God” delusions lead you into saying all kinds of gibberish.

        • Kodie

          You have an imaginary friend like a child, so I don’t take your opinions seriously.

        • adam

          “First, recognize that the Bible does not say God supports slavery. In fact, the slavery described in the Old Testament was quite different from the kind of slavery we think of today – in which people are captured and sold as slaves.”

          LIAR

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

          If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him.
          If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly
          pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

          Notice how they can get a male Hebrew slave to become a permanent slave by keeping his wife and children hostage until he says he wants to become a permanent slave. What kind of family values are these?

          The following passage describes the sickening practice of sex slavery. How can anyone think it is moral to sell your own daughter as a sex slave?

          When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to
          marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

          So these are the Bible family values! A man can buy as many sex slaves as he wants as long as he feeds them, clothes them, and has sex with them!

          What does the Bible say about beating slaves? It says you can beat both male and female slaves with a rod so hard that as long as they don’t die right away you are cleared of any wrong doing

          When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

          You would think that Jesus and the New Testament would have a different view of slavery, but slavery is still approved of in the New Testament, as the following passages show.

          Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

          Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to
          obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

          http://www.evilbible.com/evil-bible-home-page/slavery/

        • Agabu

          I miss the part where it says you may kidnap and capture people in order to enslave them. All I see here is God saying you may treat slaves you purchase from foreigners among you as your property. I know the assumptions you’re bringing to all this. Slaves? Property? Oh no He didn’t! Lies, lies, lies.

        • Kodie

          It’s obvious you’re in denial of what slavery is out of superstitious fear of your abusive deity. You can just buy as many slaves as you want and own people as long as you don’t swipe them off the street. I mean, there are laws against stealing, after all.

        • adam

          “I miss the part where it says you may kidnap and capture people in order to enslave them.”

          God is very clear on that, you purchase them from foreigners who, he clearly has no problem with them kidnapping and capturing people for his slavery.

          However:

          If you want sex slaves:
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a7fa5d70d6da7527cd92f964c6c5edc847ab120e7685622c95ae59c9c31c305b.png

          “All I see here is God saying you may treat slaves you purchase from
          foreigners among you as your property. I know the assumptions you’re
          bringing to all this. ”

          That we both understand what slaves and property are…

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a3ac9f7ed84299d16306f7b7297cd75b7a698c7ae27d27411e6b1984ae61fb79.jpg

        • Agabu

          Shifting goal posts now to alleged sex slaves? You still haven’t provided anything in the way of kidnapping or capturing people for slavery. Give me that Scripture that says you ca do this, because Exodus 21:16 says that’s a big no-no.

        • adam

          “Shifting goal posts now to alleged sex slaves? ”

          Sex slaves are still slaves

          “You still haven’t provided anything in the way of kidnapping or capturing people for slavery. ”

          Yes, I did:

          God is very clear on that, you purchase them from foreigners who, he
          clearly has no problem with them kidnapping and capturing people for his slavery. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fc08e92607fbb10ca5d9fec66168d9bf582a2748fa716fdb4283c37e046c25e1.jpg

        • Agabu

          Ah, no you didn’t. You just assume purchasing slaves from foreigners involves capturing and kidnapping. Not good enough amigo, Your alleged sex slaves still not the issue. Those goal posts are shifting everywhere. Now we gotta deal with the death of the first born of Egypt.

        • adam

          ” You just assume purchasing slaves from foreigners involves capturing and kidnapping.”

          In this case, I have, but it doesnt matter.

          All I see here is God saying you may treat slaves you purchase from foreigners among you as your property.

          So God approves of purchasing slaves from foreigners as property.

          What are you missing?

          “Those goal posts are shifting everywhere. ”

          Not from me, you seem to be the one who agrees with the character God in the bible, and yet disagrees at the same time.

          So God approves of purchasing slaves from foreigners as

          property.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/eebd45617bab8d92d91d1c4ca577f710607463496bdf7872d4d028810bdf9d41.jpg

        • Kodie

          Holy shit, you turd. Even though Susan was kind and patient enough to point you to the chapter and verse about kidnapping and capturing slaves, let’s pretend all slaves signed up voluntarily. You’re still talking about an economic system that was so dire that your god, instead of straightening that out with some instructions like how to treat people so they are not left in the dirt begging, left instructions on how to OWN PEOPLE, and how to use them and not let them go to waste by beating them to death. Your religion makes you a scary warped person if you had to adjust your thinking to make that ok.

        • Greg G.

          Is Exodus 21:16 really about slavery or about kidnapping in general? If it is not about kidnapping in general, then where is the Bible law that forbids kidnapping for ransom? Josephus reports that kidnapping for ransom was done in the first century.

          Kidnapping for slavery would not be necessary in ancient biblical society because slaves were already plentiful and a dime a dozen. There were biblical legal ways of acquiring permanent slaves. Deuteronomy 15:12-17 and Exodus 21:2-6 give explicit instructions about how to take a young, naive indentured servant and use “family values” against him to make him a permanent slave. The children are born slaves and are permanent slaves. Keeping the children of slaves as slaves is morally equivalent to kidnapping but it is not called that because the Bible sanctions it.

          Deuteronomy 20:10-14 is a form of kidnapping a city.

          Your church-installed cognitive dissonance prevents you from recognizing what is tantamount to kidnapping in the Bible.

        • MNb

          And now your god is saying it you’re OK with treating slaves you purchase from foreigners among you as your property?

        • Agabu

          You may treat the slaves you purchase from foreigners among you as your property. What’s your issue here? What’s your blood pressure rising in ire for?

        • adam

          “You may treat the slaves you purchase from foreigners among you as your property. What’s your issue here?”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/60865103a336b5d68f96eb3254e706491af8f8a5dbd80dafef9edf2beab0319d.jpg

        • Agabu

          Thank God the Bible’s moral doesn’t depend on a bunch of atheists for its legitimacy. It just speaks for itself and multiplied millions don’t care what people with “no God” delusions think.

        • adam

          “Thank God the Bible’s moral doesn’t depend on a bunch of atheists for its legitimacy. It just speaks for itself”

          On that we can agree.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/398eee168a95a1c3714d1513e1274d5c0eb7136e6f5206bb94180f68ef55410d.jpg

        • Kodie

          The issue is OWNING PEOPLE. TRADING AND BUYING AND OWNING PEOPLE. Kidnapping and capturing people isn’t what slavery is, although that is bad. OWNING PEOPLE and using them for whatever you need them to do, not treating them as fellow humans, not paying them, not giving them a choice to go free because YOU OWN THEM – that’s the issue.

        • Agabu

          This is your issue. Don’t read it into the Bible. The Bible is dealing with something very different from this “OWNING PEOPLE. TRADING AND BUYING AND OWNING PEOPLE” thing you describe.

        • Susan

          (sigh)

          Deuteronomy 20

          10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies.

          It gets worse from there.

        • Agabu

          I still miss the part where it says kidnap and capture other people for enslavement purposes. It’s not even the reason for war here. Forced labour imposed on enemy combatants in a time of war aint slavery. Something else entirely is going on here. Susie, you best get back to riding that invisible fire breathing dragon.

        • Kodie

          What else entirely could it be? You are so fucked up with your fear of god that you can’t even recognize that owning people is owning people. Just because you invade their land, they’re just supposed to now be your property? Belief in god makes people evil to justify that. They’re people. OWNING PEOPLE AS PROPERTY IS SLAVERY.

          I have to wonder what the fuck is up with moron Christians like you who think that atheists are the ones with no morals. Justifying slavery like you do just to win an argument is so fucking nasty. I bet you’re going to tut me about the language, like language is so harsh, and slavery is fine as long as there is a protocol to follow. GOD IN THE BIBLE GAVE A PROTOCOL TO FOLLOW. That is the fucking issue. Instead of saying “don’t own people,” he gives a protocol, and you gullible idiots think that makes it ok.

        • Agabu

          Sorry but owning people in the strictest sense aint what’s going on here honey. They are in “bondage” (i.e. under contract) to meeting obligations to serve for a specific period of time. The sort of slavery you describe is wrong. But that’s just not what’s in the OT.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Right Bob, is it not near time this condescending misogynist arsehole was put in the fuckin’ sack?

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZI-Uu94vINg

          His sexist fuckwittery with Susan and Kodie is even starting to annoy me now.

        • Dys

          The sort of slavery you describe is wrong. But that’s just not what’s in the OT.

          Only if you ignore all the verses making it clear that it’s exactly what’s going on in the OT.

          Unfortunately, the moral difficulty of squaring slavery with an omni-benevolent God has caused many apologists to try and dishonestly state that the slavery in the OT was just indentured servitude by confusing the two systems of servitude described in the bible and declaring it was all the same.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A Christian interpreting a Jewish document erroneously to rescue an immoral state of affairs condoned by their imaginary immoral monster god. What a cockwomble.

          Jewish Concepts: Slavery

          The Hebrew term for slave, eved, is a direct derivation from the Hebrew verb la’avöd (“to work”), thus, the slave in Jewish law is really only a worker or servant. The eved differs from the hired worker (sakhir) in three respects: he receives no wages for his work; he is a member of his master’s household; and, his master exercises patria potestas over him – for example, the master may choose a wife for the slave and retains ownership of her and he has proprietary rights in him.

          To see the break down read on at….

          http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/slavery.html

          The pretzelmania contortions of Agabu are hilarious to watch. The worse thing about it all is his seriousness in the nonsense he is trying to push.

        • adam

          “. They are in “bondage” (i.e. under contract) to meeting obligations to serve for a specific period of time.”

          LIAR

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          Do you not know what the word “bondage”means?

          i.e. under contract

          WTF? “under contract”, my arse.

          bondage:- slavery or involuntary servitude; serfdom.

          If one is being held against their will, working without being paid, and being beaten, sometimes to death…they are slaves.

          You can play semantics until the cows come home, but what is being described in the buybull is slavery. It is a state of affairs that neither you nor I would wish to be held in, nor anyone we cared about either. So wise ta fuck up ya clown.

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

          Uh, no. Non-Israelites were slaves for their entire fucking lives. There was no “specific period of time.” Didn’t you wave your finger at me for my abysmal Bible knowledge? In this case, it’s not me who needs to go back and read the crazy “Good Book.”

        • Myna

          Leviticus 25:44-46

          44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, [shall be] of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.

          45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that [are] with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.

          46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit [them for] a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Isn’t hard to take anything Agabu says with even a smidgen of seriousness?…He’s a rocket.

        • Agabu

          You’re doing it again Bob. Exhibiting abysmal Bible knowledge. This pet peeve of cherry-picking Bible verses that fit one’s narrative while ignoring or overlooking everything else that the Bible says on a matter which many Bible critics often engage in is illustrative of the rank incompetence that so mires their interpretative methodology. You think I’m not aware of foreign “slaves?” When you’re not concerned about reading the Bible for all its worth, you can twist and make it say whatever you like, since what suits you is what matters more than what the Bible is actually saying on its own terms. This twisted approach to the Good Book is everywhere in evidence here.

          So Leviticus 25:44-46 provides that the Israelite may take to himself “slaves” of “foreigners” or “temporary residents” that live among them; and that to folks like this the law of the periodic release in the year of Jubilee didn’t necessarily apply. Foreigners were as you put it ” slaves for their entire fucking lives.” Of course, your issue is that they;re slaves forever or slaves at all in the first place. The moral indignation here is palpable. “You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance.” is bothersome, hey? Newsflash, OT “slavery” had nothing to do with race, religion, ethnic background or language like the terrible 17th century kind. The Egyptians before even then forcibly enslaved Israel with hard labour simply because they were Israelites, whom they traditionally discriminated against simply because they were shepherds. The “slavery” that God instituted and regulated for Israel was a welfare programme designed to help and protect the poor and destitute. It had nothing to do with providing cheap labour or forcibly enslaving entire groups of people because they were 3/5 of what an Israelite was as a human being annd such vileness. There are no commandments in the Bible to turn Girgashites, Perizzites or Amalekites or whatever else people group Israel encountered into slaves on the basis of their tribe, race or religion.

          The Bible everywhere views non-Israelites as full human beings. This is seen in its insistence to treat even foreigners or temporary residents in the land justly and fairly in all situations and dealings. Indeed, it is to be borne in mind that even in such cases the law which commanded the kind treatment of all the strangers in the land would apply(Leviticus 19:33-34); so that even where “permanent slavery” was allowed it was still placed under very humanising restriction. Notice that no “slave” markets are talked about anywhere in the Bible, let alone encouraged. Slave markets to be sure existed even then. They were built on capturing, kidnapping and selling people to the highest bidder. Slave trading is expressly forbidden in the OT. This may shock or surprise you to hear. But person to person agreement over one becoming a “slave” to the other isn’t slave trading,. The simple fact is that in every case that purchasing “slaves” is spoken of in the OT, it is an agreement entered into either by the person selling him or herself into it i.e. selling his or her SERVICE or else a family to family arrangement. This made it a very private or personal affair with economic, business and social considerations

          If you conveniently ignore everything else said on the matter of “slaves”, you’re going to conclude with moral pretensions like, “Non-Israelites were slaves for their entire fucking lives.” Of course, you may huff and puff about the text saying things like “treat them as your property” or pass them on as your “permanent inheritance” and assume this is nothing but chattel slavery. The thing is that sort of crazy wooden interpretation works if you ignore context and the provisions made everywhere else about the fair treatment of “slaves” as human beings. Calling them “property” didn’t suddenly make them less human without access to due process in case of grievances or unfair treatment. Context is everything, and in context, “slaves” were people involved in an arrangement that was designed to protect them as human beings while also promoting their welfare in case of difficulties in gaining a meaningful livelihood.

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

          You’re doing it again Bob. Exhibiting abysmal Bible knowledge.

          Oh? Let’s see who doesn’t know his Bible.

          This pet peeve of cherry-picking Bible verses that fit one’s narrative while ignoring or overlooking everything else that the Bible says on a matter which many Bible critics often engage in is illustrative of the rank incompetence that so mires their interpretative methodology.

          Let me explain how this work. I’ll type slow so you can follow. If I find a single verse that, taken in context, means something that embarrasses you, I will happily trot it out and display it. My goal usually is to show that the Bible, in one place, says X. (Sometimes, I might argue that the Bible predominantly says X or that the Bible says exclusively X rather than not-X, but those would be different arguments.)

          You, on the other hand, have another set of rules you must follow. If you bring out a verse, your context is the entire Bible. This would only not be the case if you were trying to show that there were one instance where the Bible said X (which wouldn’t matter to most arguments I would make). If you counter my X verse with three not-X verses, you’re simply making the argument that the Bible is unreliable or contradictory. OK, I can accept that.

          You think I’m not aware of foreign “slaves?”

          I did indeed. An honest person would jump into the conversation (in the earlier comment) acknowledging the elephant in the room.

          So there are two possibilities: you either didn’t know about Lev. 25:44-46 or . . . no that couldn’t be it.

          When you’re not concerned about reading the Bible for all its worth, you can twist and make it say whatever you like

          Agreed. The Bible says just about every possible thing. Makes your life difficult, I think.

          what suits you is what matters more than what the Bible is actually saying on its own terms.

          The Bible is actually saying on its own terms that God is A-OK with slavery for life (just so long as it’s those other people, of course).

          Of course, your issue is that they’re slaves forever or that they’re slaves at all in the first place.

          My issue is that this is the same kind of slavery as Africans experienced in the US.

          Newsflash, OT “slavery” had nothing to do with race, religion, ethnic background or language like the terrible 17th century kind.

          ??

          The Egyptians before even then forcibly enslaved Israel with hard labour simply because they were Israelites, whom they traditionally discriminated against simply because they were shepherds.

          God is A-OK with slavery for life, remember? (Or are there different rules based on tribe/race?)

          The “slavery” that God instituted and regulated for Israel was a welfare program designed to help and protect the poor and destitute.

          You’re talking about Israelites enslaving fellow Israelites? That’s like indentured servitude, the other kind of servitude that America had. God is now 2 for 2 in anticipating American slavery–awkward.

          There are no commandments in the Bible to turn Girgashites, Perizzites or Amalekites or whatever other people group Israel encountered into slaves on the basis of their tribe, race or religion.

          You mean because they were to kill them? Yeah, that’s an improvement.

          The Bible everywhere views non-Israelites as full human beings. This is seen in its insistence to treat even foreigners or temporary residents in the land justly and fairly in all situations and dealings.

          And Lev. 25:44-46 remains the steaming turd on the table. Tuck in!

          even where “permanent slavery” was allowed it was still placed under very humanising restriction. Notice that no “slave” markets are talked about anywhere in the Bible, let alone encouraged.

          You’re just Chatty Cathy, aren’t you? You’ve got all sorts of random trivia.

          I’m not sure why this is difficult.* God supported slavery for life. If you didn’t like it in the Americas, then you shouldn’t like it in biblical times. QED

          *Kidding! Of course I know why this is difficult. God is like the corpse upstairs in the bedroom in Psycho, but you’re convinced that he’s really alive. He can’t explain things for himself (y’know, because he doesn’t exist), so you eagerly step into the breach. You have your conclusion, not especially well grounded on evidence, but you’re determined to put a good face on it and argue with gusto.

          But person to person agreement over one becoming a “slave” to the other isn’t slave trading.

          It’s also not what we’re talking about, Cathy. Maybe I was hasty when I withdrew the option (above) that dishonesty could explain your actions.

          Of course, you may huff and puff about the text saying things like “treat them as your property” or pass them on as your “permanent inheritance”

          Guilty. I’m funny that way. In fact, on our planet, you’ll find that almost all people in modern societies are also outraged at slavery for life.

          Calling them “property” didn’t suddenly make them less human without access to due process in case of grievances or unfair treatment.

          Which was also true in the case of American slavery. Look in the law code for Southern states, and you’ll find laws that said that random, unwarranted abuse of slaves got you the same punishment as the identical treatment of white people.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          You think I’m not aware of foreign “slaves?”

          So Leviticus 25:44-46 provides that the Israelite may take to himself “slaves” of “foreigners” or “temporary residents” that live among them;

          OT “slavery” had nothing to do with race, religion, ethnic background or language like the terrible 17th century kind.

          Except where the rules of slavery were different for foreigners: people of a different ethnic background.

          The rest of your defense of slavery is as adequate. I could explain but I have the feeling that you already have your conclusion and that will “explain” away every and all problems with it.

        • Greg G.

          The Egyptians before even then forcibly enslaved Israel with hard labour simply because they were Israelites, whom they traditionally discriminated against simply because they were shepherds.

          The archaeological evidence in Egypt, in Israel, and in the Sinai desert shows that that Exodus never happened. There were never large numbers of Hebrew slaves in Egypt, there was no mass escape, and the superstition of not eating pigs developed in Canaan.

          The Bible everywhere views non-Israelites as full human beings.

          Except you are missing where punishments for harming slaves are paid to the owner, not the slave, where the punishment for the same harm to an Israelite is “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.

          Indeed, it is to be borne in mind that even in such cases the law which commanded the kind treatment of all the strangers in the land would apply(Leviticus 19:33-34); so that even where “permanent slavery” was allowed it was still placed under very humanising restriction.

          Leviticus 25:44-46 abrogates that because it says specifically that foreign slaves could be treated like slaves, then says the Hebrew servants were not to be treated harshly, omitting any restrictions against the foreign slaves being treated harshly.

          Context is everything,

          Context in important but what the words actually say is important, too. The words disagree with the crap you are spewing and the context doesn’t help you.

        • adam
        • Rudy R

          I’m sensing a conversion to Atheism here.

        • Agabu

          Conversion to “no God” delusions? Not likely. Too irrational. The falsehoods, pomposity and group think mentality it often engenders don’t do it any favours.

        • Kodie

          I laughed so hard! You are hilarious!

        • Greg G.

          The falsehoods, pomposity and group think mentality it often engenders don’t do it any favours.

          That is projection. It is what you have now.

        • Rudy R

          That was the best conclusion I could draw. Many theists that visit atheist forums do so because they can question the precepts of their worldview where they would otherwise receive condemnation from their own religious community.

        • Agabu

          You think I’m here because I can’t question my Christian worldview in my own community? You don’t know that. I’m more drawn to truth. So far, there’s a drought and famine of it here. The falsehoods of “no God” thinking are in full display here. Pretentiously clever arguments with a very thin veneer of reason against Christianity neither impress nor count. This is something of a trait of “no God” delusions.

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

          Slavery is a little harsh, but you’re really over the line with all the f-bombs.

        • Ignorant Amos

          For a moment I actually thought you were chastising Kodie there and went and counted the fuck’s…am a dopey bastard ffs…lol.

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

          Aaaah! More f-bombs!

        • Susan

          Forced labour imposed on enemy combatants in a time of war aint slavery.

          Ah, Booboo. (I resolve to call you that every time you call me Susie). So, “making peace” means “if you don’t submit to us and allow use to force you into labout, we will put the sword to all the men in your city and take your women, your children and your livestock as plunder.”

          And “taking as plunder” means “we will adopt them and treat them with affection”.

          Susie, you best get back to riding that invisible fire breathing dragon.

          Booboo, every time you make fun of my dragon, you look more like an arse as you can provide nothing to distinguish your claims from my claims.

          It’s very clear that your position is that “evildoers” doesn’t apply to people who threaten to slaughter all the men in a city and take their women, children and livestock as plunder.

          Strangely, it applies to people who don’t believe an idiot on the internet making wild assertions that they can’t support.

          My dragon might be invisible but at least, it’s not completely psychotic.

        • Agabu

          Susie, you were basically just raving and ranting and reading things into the Good Book e.g. “So, “making peace” means “if you don’t submit to us and allow us to force you into labour, we will put the sword to all the men in your city and take your women, your children and your livestock as plunder.” A smart gal like yourself should know better than that.

          The text already tells us that in case they come up against a city, they’re to set terms to the foes of what will happen to them with respect to the offer of peace and as to their refusal to surrender. Nothing bad happens here. The passage simply outlines how war should be carried out, and what terms to offer foes.

        • MNb

          Always nice to see when a christian bigot claims the moral high ground but can’t show even the respect to spell a name properly.
          That’s another reason not to convert, Booboo. I don’t want to become a piece of shit like you are.

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

          “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”

          ― Abraham Lincoln

        • adam

          “Even the Bible tells you that. No person is owned. ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

          Yet, the bible says they are owned.

        • adam

          “Notice how there is actually no passage which sanctions beating “slaves” or promotes it as a good thing to do, let alone something a “master” is entitled to do. ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ae1afb4336eb43eac4eb6542320889b4c9068fa20364f91b3a3a3b8f6e3a0f88.png

        • Kodie

          It seems that the bible was written by humans about their cultural opinions at the time they had them. Using slaves was economical, but you still aren’t advised to beat them so they can’t work. I mean, sure, they’re your property, I think, do whatever you want if it’s your legal property, who is going to punish you, but if you believe in god, he’ll punish you if you beat your slaves to death. Guess what the punishment is? You’re out a slave and have to pay to replace that slave, just like if you beat your cow to death, and you have to buy a new cow to get milk, or if you beat your washing machine to death, and you have to buy a new washing machine. It’s not practical, but if you’re willing to pay the price to replace your appliance or livestock, nobody is going to punish you in any other way.

          It doesn’t seem like ANYONE in the bible considered slaves to be fellow humans, and advice on their care was not “humane” advice, but as I said, how hard you can beat your appliance if it doesn’t obey before it stops functioning, except when the team you’re supposed to root for was enslaved.

          Yeah, it’s kind of obvious that it’s ok with god to enslave people, and to pretend you’re doing them a favor, and to get upset when your community is subject to enslavement by others. The key word is “others”. If you are “others” to them, I don’t see what’s the problem, if you are ok with slavery when you are the master. If you don’t get compassion from realizing humans called Jews who were slaves, we’re supposed to feel sorry for them and identify with them (even thousands of years ago!!!), but not bat an eye when the Jews are the masters.

          The bible basically says, if you’re one of our tribe, the mafia, you’ll be taken care of very well (unless you’re a woman*), but if you are not in our tribe, watch your back.

          *It was terrible treatment of women, but I guess the best any woman could hope for, i.e., it’s better to be chattel to one man than concubine/floor scrubber/ wet nurse, whatever to some slave holder. It’s not like you’re not, as a woman, doing all those things for your husband anyway, and you’re not free to walk.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ag’s doesn’t get that.

          He doesn’t get that slavery was a common thing throughout all cultures until fairly recently.

          Slavery was much in evidence in the Middle East from the beginning of recorded history. It was treated as a prominent institution in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi of c. 1750 BC. Slaves were present in ancient Egypt and are known to have been murdered to accompany their deceased owners into the afterlife. It once was believed that slaves built the great pyramids, but contemporary scholarly opinion is that the pyramids were constructed by peasants when they were not occupied by agriculture. Slaves also are mentioned prominently in the Bible among the Hebrews in Palestine and their neighbours.

          https://web.archive.org/web/20070223090720/http://www.britannica.com/blackhistory/article-24156

          But because it is such an embarrassment to the likes of Agabu, he buries his head in the bucket of shite that is his apologetics. Some Christians have accepted the fact of Biblical slavery. But Ag’s can’t, because it questions his perfect omniscient god’s objective morality. So he insists on trying to defend the indefensible and he is making himself look like a prize dickhead in the process.

          He’s hilarious…and pathetic.

        • Greg G.

          Well, I should have read this before I posted http://disq.us/p/1ed9aio . You stole my thunder.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Certainly not at all….and not that Agabu is gonna get it anytime soon, but if it is said enough times from numerous sources, the penny might just drop.

          Anyway, you waxed so lyrically, it would’ve been a shame not to have commented.

        • MNb

          One of the most hilarious points is that he claims we’re doomed if we don’t make his choice and decide “to live our lives throught Christ” while he has doomed himself.

        • Greg G.

          Agabu sugar-coats slavery to make the Bible palatable, after he swallowed it whole. Most people would spit out a sugar-coated turd but Agabu, like many Christians, is too proud to do that.

        • MNb

          Hard to say. Maybe he has learned to appreciate the turd as well.

        • Greg G.

          Good point. Maybe Agabu is a Scarabaeus sacer, a dung beetle.

        • Agabu

          Read brief response above to Susan.

        • Susan

          applies the Golden Rule even in the “slave/master” relationship.

          Explain how the Golden Rule provides for or allows slave/master relationships.

        • Agabu

          No body was allowed to treat “slaves” harshly or to oppress them. God established laws about the fair treatment of “slaves” and laws of justice surrounding kidnapping and murder of “slaves” which imposed the death penalty on both counts. Point being, “slaves” weren’t things or domesticated animals one could do with however one pleased. They were people who were ultimately covenanted or contracted to SERVE for a specified period of time as per terms agreed upon, and as provided for in the law of the land at that time. In the “slave/master” relationship, the Golden Rule very much applied in this particular way.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You said there was no slaves in biblical Hebrew times and then keep using the word slaves in scare quotes like it means “not slave slaves”. You are an asinine rhubarb and nobody can be reading your nonsense with a straight face.

        • Greg G.

          You have been shown the verses that show you do not understand biblical slavery. There were indentured servants who were Hebrews contracted for six years. There were hired hands. Then there were slaves bought with money. They were treated like property. They could be treated harshly, like slaves, because they were not fellow Hebrews.

          Compare what Christians say about biblical slavery to what the Bible says about biblical slavery. It shows that you cannot trust Christians to talk about the Bible.

        • Agabu

          You have been shown the verses that show you do not understand biblical slavery.”

          Not at all. You’ve merely quoted passages you assume teach a form of slavery, you’re only to happy to object to. I understand OT “slavery” just fine. All you have are moral pretensions against it because of a sustained antipathy towards the Bible in general. You know what that means? Nothing’s ever going to convince you that you’re wrong. And the thing is, you are wrong.

          “There were indentured servants who were Hebrews contracted for six years.”

          Yes they were. This doesn’t argue against my point. At least we agree on something.

          “There were hired hands.”

          This is irrelevant, because they’re not classified as “slaves (i.e. Bond servants).” It’s just people with regular jobs.

          “Then there were slaves bought with money. They were treated like property. They could be treated harshly, like slaves, because they were not fellow Hebrews.”

          Talk about somebody not knowing what they’re talking about. This right here is why you’re wrong. They were no slaves bought with money as if Israelites were told to go buy slaves at some slave store or a slave market. The simple fact is that in every case that purchasing “slaves” is spoken of in the OT, it is an agreement entered into either by the person selling him or herself, that is, selling his or her SERVICE or else a family to family arrangement. This made it a very private or personal affair with economic, business and social considerations. Treated like property? Which kind? Furniture, livestock or other household goods? The fact is they are none of these kinds of property my Bible misinterpreting friend. They are only “property” in the sense that they are bonded servants who are still very human, a point that is still lost on you. This is as a result of the craziness, pomposity and rank irrationality that characterizes your worldview.

          The Israelites were never sanctioned to force anyone into slavery. They were simply given leeway to enter into this sort of arrangement with WILLING PARTIES with the understanding that a bond servant was still very human no matter their place of origin. This fact destroys the nonsense you’re spewing suggesting one could oppress their foreign “slave.” Individual Israelites (not Israel as a nation) were given leeway to purchase “slaves” from among the nations as need arose not on the basis of race, religion, gender or language. In the end, because actual marriages could happen between the master and a bond servant, the idea that they were merely property that could be treated any way one liked is ridiculous and a flat out lie.

          “Compare what Christians say about biblical slavery to what the Bible says about biblical slavery. It shows that you cannot trust Christians to talk about the Bible.”

          I’m comparing what you’re saying on the matter, and it’s as stupid as they come. A Christian reveres the Bible. You, a non-Christian do not. Someone who appropriately reverences something will tend to treat it with the respect it deserves and go out of his or her way to deal with it rightly and responsibly. Someone who has no reverence whatsoever isn’t likely to do so. Conclusion: no one should trust anyone like you to talk about the Bible rightly and treat it responsibly. And I mean no one. In the end, I’m not here to build trust in me. I’m here to point to the veracity of the Bible. I have zero trust in you or Bob’s arguments in this regard. I’ve read enough of your sanctimonious ravings and rantings to know this is the case. There’s too much falsehoods, pomposity and group think, which is often perfectly illustrated in the responses in this comments section through constantly resorting to vitriol, personal attacks, circular reasoning and such. None of this phases me mind you, because folks with “no God” delusions often confuse insults & ridicule with actually having well reasoned arguments. There are a few kernels of truth here and there, but nothing really that actually challenges anything in the Bible seriously.

        • Greg G.

          “Then there were slaves bought with money. They were treated like property. They could be treated harshly, like slaves, because they were not fellow Hebrews.”

          Talk about somebody not knowing what they’re talking about. This right here is why you’re wrong. They were no slaves bought with money as if Israelites were told to go buy slaves at some slave store or a slave market. The simple fact is that in every case that purchasing “slaves” is spoken of in the OT, it is an agreement entered into either by the person selling him or herself, that is, selling his or her SERVICE or else a family to family arrangement. This made it a very private or personal affair with economic, business and social considerations. Treated like property? Which kind? Furniture, livestock or other household goods? The fact is they are none of these kinds of property my Bible misinterpreting friend. They are only “property” in the sense that they are bonded servants who are still very human, a point that is still lost on you. This is as a result of the craziness, pomposity and rank irrationality that characterizes your worldview.

          I have shown you this before but you cannot read well enough to comprehend.

          Exodus 12:43-45 (NRSV)43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance for the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but any slave who has been purchased may eat of it after he has been circumcised; 45 no bound or hired servant may eat of it.

          Leviticus 22:10-11 (NRSV)10 No lay person shall eat of the sacred donations. No bound or hired servant of the priest shall eat of the sacred donations; 11 but if a priest acquires anyone by purchase, the person may eat of them; and those that are born in his house may eat of his food.

          These passages show that purchased slaves were not indentured servants. See the difference yet? There are indentured (bound) servants who are Hebrews who serve six years. Those bought with money are slaves and property of the owner.

          The Israelites were never sanctioned to force anyone into slavery. They were simply given leeway to enter into this sort of arrangement with WILLING PARTIES with the understanding that a bond servant was still very human no matter their place of origin.

          Deuteronomy 20:10-14 (NRSV)10 When you draw near to a town to fight against it, offer it terms of peace. 11 If it accepts your terms of peace and surrenders to you, then all the people in it shall serve you at forced labor. 12 If it does not submit to you peacefully, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it; 13 and when the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword. 14 You may, however, take as your booty the women, the children, livestock, and everything else in the town, all its spoil. You may enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you.

          Here those parties are given a choice: slavery or death. That is the greatest force there is. You know these verses. Stop lying.

          But they have insidious methods of tricking fellow Israelites into permanent slavery using “family values”.

          Deuteronomy 15:12-17 (NRSV)12 If a member of your community, whether a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and works for you six years, in the seventh year you shall set that person free. 13 And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. 14 Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today. 16 But if he says to you, “I will not go out from you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his earlobe into the door, and he shall be your slave forever.You shall do the same with regard to your female slave.

          Exodus 21:2-6 (NRSV)2 When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6 then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.

          The Exodus passage gives an explicit strategy for making indentured servants into permanent slaves.

          I’m comparing what you’re saying on the matter, and it’s as stupid as they come. A Christian reveres the Bible. You, a non-Christian do not.

          I don’t revere the Bible but I read it. You are the one who is lying about what it says. You make claims that you wish were the case. I keep showing you the verses that refute your claims while supporting mine. If you were honest, I would only have to show the verses once.

          It is more respectable to abandon a religion than to be a liar for it.

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

          Agabu seems to simultaneously be aware of Lev. 25:44-46 and unaware of what it means. I don’t know if he’s stupid or ignorant or duplicitous or what.

        • Greg G.

          It’s cognitive dissonance caused by religious brain damage.

        • Agabu

          Ha ha ha! This is hilarious. Greg, you are extremely terrible at reading the Bible for comprehension. If I was a professor at a Bible Seminary, I would take great joy in giving my students your rantings and have them dissect and dismantle your wild speculations and very sloppy approach to interpretation. Anyway, enough of the hilarity of poor Bible interpretation. Let me give you one example from the crap you’ve written above to show you that you my Bible misinterpreting friend have made. You write:

          “Deuteronomy 20:10-14 (NRSV)
          10 When you draw near to a town to fight against it, offer it terms of peace. 11 If it accepts your terms of peace and surrenders to you, then all the people in it shall serve you at forced labor. 12 If it does not submit to you peacefully, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it; 13 and when the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword. 14 You ma y, however, take as your booty the women, the children, livestock, and everything else in the town, all its spoil. You may enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you.

          Here those parties are given a choice: slavery or death. That is the greatest force there is. You know these verses. Stop lying.
          But they have insidio us methods of tricking fellow Israelites into permanent slavery using “family values”.”

          There’s no illegitimate force here contrary to your grandstanding nonsense alleging this is the greatest force there is. Israel is at war with some other nation. This isn’t a campaign to enslave anyone. The passage even tells you, “when you draw near to a town to FIGHT AGAINST IT, offer it TERMS OF PEACE. You are quite good at ignoring the fact that the text says, “offer terms of peace.” Forced labour here isn’t slavery. It’s forced labour as war reparations. This is what happens in some measure at least even today. When Germany, Italy and Japan lost the second world war, what do you think happened? They moved on and owed nothing to no one? They were forced to pay war reparations by the victors, the allied forces. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Germans, Italians and the Japanese had to work to pay back everything the victorious international forces imposed on them. However, you slice it. It’s forced labour. But you and I know that it’s not slavery. Forced labour is a perfectly legitimate term of peace over an adversary. God tasked the Israelites to engage their foes in a civilized way. There’s no willy nilly we here to destroy you or enslave you approach. Remember, OFFER TERMS OF PEACE. This is what civilized people do. God shows how good He is and the expectations He places on the Israelites.

          You just don’t read the Bible for real comprehension, because you don’t seem to care about consistency. There’s nothing but lies and deceit in your criticisms. It is more respectable to treat any worldview with consistency, even when you don’t agree with it. Once again, you’re a very poor Bible interpreter. I still have zero trust in your handling of Scripture. Too many inconsistencies in your approach.

        • Greg G.

          You are polishing turds again.

          First of all, I offered Deuteronomy 20:10-14 in response to your claim that “The Israelites were never sanctioned to force anyone into slavery. They were simply given leeway to enter into this sort of arrangement with WILLING PARTIES with the understanding that a bond servant was still very human no matter their place of origin.” Note in verse 14 that the when the people rejected the “Terms of Peace”, the women and children were forced into slavery. They were not “willing parties.”

          You saw “terms of peace” and the cognitive dissonance set in so you cannot see what the passage is talking about. In the context of the passage, the Hebrews are the aggressors in the war. They want the land, the property, the livestock, the women, and the children. The Hebrews want to “annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites” (Deuteronomy 20:17, the third verse after the passage in question.)

          You are really polishing the “forced labor” turd like it was a walk in the park. Concentration camps were forced labor, too.

          Deuteronomy 20:15-18
          15 Thus you shall treat all the towns that are very far from you, which are not towns of the nations here. 16 But as for the towns of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. 17 You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded, 18 so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against the Lord your God.

          Please understand that the Hebrews were not on a mission of peace in Deuteronomy 20. It is pathetic that you cannot help but read it as a peace mission.

        • Agabu

          You’re straining at gnats and swallowing whole camels Greg. The women and children weren’t forced into slavery. They were to be taken in as plunder, which assumes that they are taken into Israelite society. You seem to conveniently ignore the fact that their lives are spared rather than destroyed. Remember, all the men in their society have been killed, God tasks Israel to actually assume the responsibility of taking care of them. I’m sure you’re now quibbling over the fact they are to be taken as plunder or as “the spoils of war,” but war has broken them away from an exceedingly corrupt culture that practiced abhorrent things. Tell me what good would it be for children to be left in a culture that practiced child sacrifice in burning furnaces no less. And here you are thinking taking children as plunder into an Israelite society were they could live free of being most likely sacrificed to some false god is still bad. Your moral pretensions aren’t doing you any favours. Methinks you’re the one constantly giving inconsistent thoughts here.

          I didn’t say Israel was on a peace mission. They were at war. But God directed them to offer terms of peace first before going to war, which is the civilized thing to do. The choice was peace or destruction.

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

          You seem to conveniently ignore the fact that their lives are spared rather than destroyed.

          The details really matter, don’t they? Thanks for highlighting this. The women and children could’ve been killed by the genocidal god, but they were spared, so it was actually a happy day when they were taken into captivity, perhaps as slaves, sex slaves, unwilling wives, and so on. Heck, that’s a lot better than being dead, right??

          Tell me what good would it be for children to be left in a culture that practiced child sacrifice in burning furnaces no less.

          I know, right? They had a tiny chance of being a child sacrifice in their previous society, but instead they were orphaned or killed on the orders of a genocidal god. What’s not to like about that?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Heck, that’s a lot better than being dead, right??

          Not only a contradictory arsehole God…but inconsistent too.

          The “innocent” victims of other “evil” cleansing by God in the story book didn’t fair so fortunately.

          It’s almost like the stories are human inventions as opposed to perfect God inspired creations.

        • Michael Neville

          You are really polishing the “forced labor” turd like it was a walk in the park. Concentration camps were forced labor, too.

          https://oneway2day.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/auschwitz-gate-arbeit-macht-frei_thumb.jpg?w=583&h=400

        • Ignorant Amos

          Anyway, enough of the hilarity of poor Bible interpretation.

          Pssst! There are a variety of hermeneutics and they are all problematic.

          During the General Conference Session in San Antonio, David Ripley, Ministerial Secretary for the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, made a speech noting that the Adventist Church lacks a unified biblical hermeneutic (methodology for interpreting Scripture). Ripley said that this more than any other issue divides the Adventist Church, and he insisted that the church conduct a study of hermeneutics to clarify the denomination’s method of biblical interpretation.

          The hilarity is that you think you have thee correct interpretation of such a bastardised scripture.

          “Jesus condemned the Scribes and Pharisees for replacing the original intent of the Scriptures with their own traditions. Jesus took a literal approach to interpretation which took into account the literary type of the passage.”

          Here those parties are given a choice: slavery or death.

          But you repeatedly tell us that there is no slavery in the Bible.

          Is it your suggestion that the choice was actually indentured servitude or death? Against what we know about slavery in the world in general at the time? Which is a principle of hermeneutics that Christians want to ignore when it doesn’t suit their purposes.

          I guess the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt were just indentured servants too then.

          That is the greatest force there is.

          So?

          You know these verses.

          Yes he does.

          Stop lying.

          It is you who is lying…to yourself…in order to convince yourself that the God whose arse you like is not the nasty piece of shite that the texts show him to be.

          You just don’t read the Bible for real comprehension, because you don’t seem to care about consistency. There’s nothing but lies and deceit in your criticisms. It is more respectable to treat any worldview with consistency, even when you don’t agree with it. Once again, you’re a very poor Bible interpreter. I still have zero trust in your handling of Scripture. Too many inconsistencies in your approach.

          Spppooooiiiiinnng!

        • Agabu

          “Pssst! There are a variety of hermeneutics and they are all problematic”

          Shhh! Don’t shoot ya self in da foot mon. Dat means ya hermeneutics are just as problematic.

          “The hilarity is that you think you have thee correct interpretation of such a bastardised scripture.”

          Not as hilarious as you thinking bastardised Scripture still grants ya a right interpretation you can pretend is crazy. Those straw men r quite some ting, ay mon?

          “But you repeatedly tell us that there is no slavery in the Bible.”

          Nah! I repeatedly drew on thee Bible’s own understanding of “slavery” wit involved indentured servitude (Israelite servants covenanted for 6 yahs) and bonded servitude (foreign servants covenanted for life).

          “Is it your suggestion that the choice was actually indentured servitude or death? Against what we know about slavery in the world in general at the time? Which is a principle of hermeneutics that Christians want to ignore when it doesn’t suit their purposes.”

          In da case ya speak of, “slavery” or servitude isn’t da issue. Terms of peace or war reparations if ya will are. I see ya interpret da Bible as it suits ya anti God agenda.

          “I guess the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt were just indentured servants too then.”

          Nah! Dis is just you being silly now. I said nuttin of da sort. Da Hebrews were enslaved by force by da Egyptians simply becoz day were Hebrews. Day were oppressed against daya will, ya see mon?

          “ It is you who is lying…to yourself…in order to convince yourself that the God whose arse you like is not the nasty piece of shite that the texts show him to be. “

          I’d be lying to ma self mon, if I agreed wit ya nonsense that God sanctioned oppressive enslavement of people and den apologise for it. But dat isn’t wats going on here. Servitude for da purposes of helpin da poor and destitute is. All I see is an ignorant mon bendin over backwards to makin da gud Lord look bad so dat he can sit on is high horse pretending he got a superior morality. Dat superior morality ya pattin ya self on da back for is da cow dung dat “no God” thinken is only capable of producin. Ya reek of a self centered superiority complex. For shame.

        • Greg G.

          Terms of peace

          Don’t be so naive. They were not on a peace mission. Their objective was Deuteronomy 20:17 You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded. That verse is in the same paragraph as “terms of peace”.

        • Agabu

          There you go again using a text as a pretext for your terrible reading of Scripture. I never said they were on a peace mission. Israel is at war with its enemies. But God directs them to offer terms of peace. Verse 11 of this chapter tells you if they accept the terms of peace subject them to forced labour. Verse 12 if they refuse, lay siege to the city. Of course, annihilate them. These Perizzites, Hittites and Amorites like 18 says did abominable things. And you want such thoroughly corrupt civilizations to thrive. Let’s not forget one of the very worst of the evils they practiced was sacrificing children by hacking them to death on an altar to their god and burning their remains in fire. One wonders why you are apt to defend such evil civilizations. Seriously dude, your moral bearings are all over the place.

        • Greg G.

          You think that it was OK to slaughter them because they were accused of sacrificing children? But if they surrendered, you think it would be right to allow the child sacrificers to return to their habits? You are all over the place with this. I am not defending the slaughter at all but you are.

          It is easier to get your army to attack visciously if you demonize the enemy with propaganda. Did that never occur to you? It also makes your side look better when you justify the slaughter in tales with made-up stories when your actual motive was to steal their land and property.

        • Agabu

          Correction: they were not accused of sacrificing children. they were sacrificing children among other abominable evils. God the Creator of everything judged these wicked civilizations and used Israel as His instrument of judgment. People like you are constantly whining about how God doesn’t do anything about evil, and yet when He acts in truth and with justice in the Good Book, you whine about it still. This is what makes Him so awesome and terrifying. The un-tamable God, He judges the nations not as you or I see fit, but as He sees fit. You don’t like it? Tough! He does as He pleases. Get on board or get lost.

          The Israelites didn’t demonize anyone. These are your moral pretensions not found anywhere in the biblical text. “No God” delusions tend to make you read all sorts of nonsense into the text. I don’t have to make anything look better. I don’t have to justify any slaughter. If the stories are made up, what are you complaining about? Nobody really died then. Otherwise your self centered moral high horse is just plain nauseating.

          The fact is nobody stole anyone’s land. The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it. You do evil things in the land where you live, He’s got every right to get rid of you from the land you’re corrupting with your heinous evil behaviors as He sees fit. Sweet divine justice. The God of the OT sorts out many of the thoroughly wicked nations. Sanctioning terms of peace shows that He does offer mercy to those that accept it. If you refuse, you get what you deserve. I for one rejoice in the God who doesn’t suffer terribly corrupt human idiocy forever.

        • Ignorant Amos

          God the Creator of everything judged these wicked civilizations and used Israel as His instrument of judgment.

          Why?

          What a cunt…you and God.

          People like you are constantly whining about how God doesn’t do anything about evil, and yet when He acts in truth and with justice in the Good Book, you whine about it still.

          Your omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God is a useless cunt. He is the equivalent of a carpet bombing or nuclear strike, rather than a laser guided J-Dam. Not very precise at all.

          This is what makes Him so awesome and terrifying. The un-tamable God, He judges the nations not as you or I see fit, but as He sees fit.

          Yeah, we get that you are suckered in by all this ballix, but you are floundering severely at convincing anybody here with you fuckwittery here. So much for awesome when the best messenger is a cockwomble like you on here.

          You don’t like it? Tough! He does as He pleases.

          Not very well though.

          Get on board or get lost.

          Yeah, it’s near time ya fucked off…or got fucked off.

          If the stories are made up, what are you complaining about?

          Wait a wee minute knob-jockey…you came here remember. You are the one complaining that folk here are pointing out that your precious book is a lot of ballix. You are the one the doesn’t like it.

          Nobody really died then.

          It is the millions of people who have died off the back of the nonsense that is the problem. Because gullible arsewipes like you believe it is true and over the millennia have insisted that everyone else to the same on pain of death.

          Otherwise your self centered moral high horse is just plain nauseating.

          Sppppoooooiiiiinnng!

        • Michael Neville

          It also makes your side look better when you justify the slaughter in tales with made-up stories when your actual motive was to steal their land and property.

          We all know what those Perizzites are like. I hear they sacrifice their children to their god by throwing them into a furnace alive. Folks like that don’t deserve to own their own land and possessions. We should teach them the error of their ways by killing them and taking their stuff. Oh yeah, Da Lawd thinks exactly the same way about the Perizzites. Let’s go and do some smiting!

        • Susan

          I hear they sacrifice their children to their god by throwing them into a furnace alive.

          And I heard the Jews held late night secret ceremonies where they sacrificed christian babies and drank their blood.

          Both obvious cases of propaganda (without supporting evidence) but dagnabbit! Propaganda has always worked and still works.

          Somehow, if it’s written in one of teh biblez, it’s Troof.
          .
          Instead of the lies it usually is. .

        • Susan

          I am not defending the slaughter at all but you are

          I hate to repeat myself.

          But I think it’s kind of a key point that Booboo (I owe him for an earlier Susie) seems to suggest that we are “evildoers” because we don’t accept his assertions because he can’t make an argument to save his life and so falls back on threatening us with the prospect of hell..

          Translation:

          Don’t tell Agabu he’s right? Eternal fire and damnation for you.

          But somehow, “a peace offering” that translates to “do what we say or we’ll kill all your men and take you as plunder” is a perfectly nice thing.

          Translation:

          A medal of honour from Yahwehjesus.

          I don’t even.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Let’s not forget one of the very worst of the evils they practiced was sacrificing children by hacking them to death on an altar to their god and burning their remains in fire amongst other horrible deeds.

          Who said they did this? The same contradictory arsehole God that demanded child sacrifice?

          And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. Genesis 22:2

          Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me. Exodus 22:29

          No devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both of man and beast … shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD. None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 27:28-29

          From the Book of Numbers

          Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

          And divide the prey into two parts; between them that took the war upon them, who went out to battle, and between all the congregation: And levy a tribute unto the Lord … one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves, and of the asses, and of the sheep: Take it of their half, and give it unto Eleazar the priest, for an heave offering of the Lord. … And Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses. And the booty … was … thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him … of which the LORD’s tribute was thirty and two persons.

          Can you not see the obvious flaw in sacrificing a groups own children?

          Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah … And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands…. And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child…. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back. And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth…. And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed. Judges 11:29-40

          Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites…. The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul … And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD….And after that God was intreated for the land. 2 Samuel 21:1, 8-14

          Then there is the ultimate child sacrifice…Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. 1 Corinthians 5:7

        • Myna

          Ya reek of a self centered superiority complex.

          Holy shite, look in the mirror, Agabu. The epitome of self-aggrandizement!

        • Agabu

          And yet here you are promoting yourself as the arbiter of self-aggrandizement. Oh the irony!

        • Myna

          Stop making things up, Agabu. Stop being a liar.

        • Agabu

          See, now you’re all entangled in your own web of lies and deceit. I’ll help you disentangle if you let me, or else I’ll tip toe by to safety. That black widow don’t take no prisoners girl.

        • Myna

          Stop making things up, Agabu. Stop being a liar.

        • Michael Neville

          Agabu thinks he’s a wit. He’s half-right.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think you give him too much credit.

        • Michael Neville

          The really pitiful thing about your self-aggrandizement, Agabu, is it’s based on exactly nothing. You’ve yet to show us anything about yourself or your beliefs that might be worthy of praise.

        • Agabu

          I aint here to promote myself O high and mighty Mike. Your intellectual prowess never ceases to amaze me. Self-aggrandizement, based on exactly nothing? Hilarious! The “no God” frame of thinking is truly riddled with irrationality and delusions of grandeur. I’ve written a lot. You’ll find some of my beliefs in my responses to the main article above or wherever else I’ve responded to the superficialities presented.

        • Michael Neville

          I aint here to promote myself O high and mighty Mike.

          No, you’re here to promote your superstitious nonsense about a fictitious god.

          And you do not have the right to call me Mike. You should address me as Sir.

          I’ve written a lot.

          Almost all of it silly and ignorant bullshit trying and failing to promote your religious beliefs. You’re nowhere near as smart or knowledgeable as you like to think you are. See Dunning-Kruger Effect.

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

          I repeatedly drew on thee Bible’s own understanding of “slavery” wit involved indentured servitude (Israelite servants covenanted for 6 yahs) and bonded servitude (foreign servants covenanted for life).

          Ah–now I get it!

          Foreign slaves for life in the Bible is completely different than foreign slaves for life in America. Much clearer now, thanks.

        • Agabu

          Yeah, very different. In case ya didn’t notice mon, Israel in the OT & da United States in the 17th century not the same nation and certainly not governed da same way. Israel: theocratic monarchy. America: constitutional republic designed by men for a religious and moral pipo. See da difference now? Thousands of years removed. Conflating da two, not doin ya any favours mon. But hey, gotta keep da falsehoods going, for da sake of “no God” dalusions. I know, I know, pesky tings those dalusions.

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

          What’s with the Jamaican dialect? Shove your ganja up your ass–you’re hard enough to understand when you’re actually trying.

          You forgot the most important thing: slaves in America came from West Africa, and slaves in Israel came from the Middle East.

          Oh, wait a minute–that is completely irrelevant. As is the government/society that hosts the slavery.

          Or was your point that it’s one thing for slavery to be instituted by fallible men (in America) but quite another for it to be sanctioned by God (in Israel)? That does show God in a pretty bad light.

        • Agabu

          You managed to get a little something right. But to refine it a bit: Slavery in America instituted by fallible men (for class, ethnic or racial reasons) and “slavery” or rather servitude (for personal welfare reasons) was very different. Your moral pretensions notwithstanding, there’s nothing in the OT about servitude that shows God in a bad light. Your attempts at equivocation with colonial era slavery are a fail, and so is your misplaced moral indignation at the OT regulation of servitude.

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

          Slavery in America instituted by fallible men (for class, ethnic or racial reasons) and “slavery” or rather servitude (for personal welfare reasons) was very different.

          Liars for Christ? Yeah, I’m sure Jesus is smiling on you now.

          I’m getting tired of going over this. I’ve read the passages in the Bible about slavery, so if you think that lying to me will confuse me on the issue, forget it. Lev. 25:44-46 in the good book is not about servitude for personal welfare reasons. It’s slavery for life, y’know, just like in the good ol’ U S of A. Southern pastors defended slavery from the Bible because they could. In fact, some even accused Northern pastors of apostasy for rejecting the plain reading of the Bible.

          there’s nothing in the OT about servitude that shows God in a bad light.

          Wow. Lev. 25:44-46 came from God’s own mouth. Slavery for life is A-OK with God.

          You think those verses don’t show God in a good light? Make a sampler of it and put it on your wall. God sounds nothing more and nothing less than an ordinary person of the time justifying an existing institution.

          Let’s close our lesson with that passage. After all, all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, right?

          44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

        • Agabu

          “Liars for Christ? Yeah, I’m sure Jesus is smiling on you now.”

          Imagine that! Somebody who is anti-Christ speaking for Christ, and thinking he’s not lying for Him.

          “I’m getting tired of going over this. I’ve read the passages in the Bible about slavery, so if you think that lying to me will confuse me on the issue, forget it.”

          I know, I know, you’ve got it all figured out. There’s just no way you could be wrong. Sure, you’ve read those passages in the Bible about slavery, and nothing about how you understand them is wrong, anything to the contrary has got to be wrong, because you just can’t be. You just can’t. Get real Siedensticker! Your foot stomping isn’t helping your cause. But hey, you may “happily” live with your falsehoods, if that’s what you’re cool with.

          “Lev. 25:44-46 in the good book is not about servitude for personal welfare reasons. It’s slavery for life, y’know, just like in the good ol’ U S of A. Southern pastors defended slavery from the Bible because they could. In fact, some even accused Northern pastors of apostasy for rejecting the plain reading of the Bible.”

          This sort of delusional thinking about the biblical text is why you’re wrong. Leviticus 25:44-46 isn’t about slavery for life. It’s about God making an allowance for Israelites to buy male or female foreigners to WORK FOR THEM as verse 39 before makes clear. This is SERVITUDE, bonded servitude. The length of time of this arrangement is a term set for it as per agreement. Getting all high and mighty about it being for life is why you’re so confused about “slavery” in the Bible. The arrangement being for life isn’t the main point. The main thing is the servitude itself. The other thing is God doesn’t require Israelites buy foreigners. Rather, He merely gives them the permission to as need arose while giving regulations if or when it occurred. The very concept of buying suggests a legal agreement entered into by two parties namely, the buyer and the seller which inherently precludes any sort of force or compulsion. So for Israelites to acquire for themselves male or female “slaves” from the nations around Israel, permanent servitude is a term of the agreement foreigners were well aware of thereby granting them the freedom to reject it if perhaps they didn’t like it or agree with it. The fact is during those times, all things considered, a “slave” was often someone who voluntarily served others and held in a permanent position of servitude.

          As for southern pastors defending colonial era slavery from the Bible, they were wrong. Their “plain reading of the Bible” doesn’t prove anything other than they just read the Bible that way. Whether the Bible actually provided support for the kind of slavery going on during their era is another matter entirely. In any case, the fact that you acknowledge that other Christians disagreed with them proves that the issue wasn’t so clear cut, and not “the plain reading of the Bible.” Ultimately Christians like William Wilberforce and President Abraham Lincoln among so many others fought against colonial era slavery on biblical grounds. The colonies, and later the United States, weren’t the ancient nation of Israel. The United Kingdom wasn’t either, as were other European countries embroiled in colonial era slavery. This kind of slavery existed because the powers that be wanted it for their own ends, and not because the Bible said that it should.

          “Wow. Lev. 25:44-46 came from God’s own mouth. Slavery for life is A-OK with God.”

          You conflate “slavery” in the OT with colonial era slavery. Not the same thing. Why? Because no colonial era nation trading in slaves was or could even legitimately claim to be the ancient nation of Israel in covenant with God under the auspices of the Old Covenant. But of course, the delusions of “no God” thinking wont let you think any different.

          “You think those verses don’t show God in a good light? Make a sampler of it and put it on your wall. God sounds nothing more and nothing less than an ordinary person of the time justifying an existing institution.”

          I think nothing of the sort. I see the excellence, kindness and goodness of God even more clearly. Your poor handling of Scripture is on full display though. The shoddiness with which you carry on with it is as clear as day.

          “Let’s close our lesson with that passage. After all, all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, right?”

          Oh look at that. You got a little something right. Unfortunately, not for the right reasons. The problem is what you’re teaching is error. You’re not in a position to rebuke any Christian, because you’re not a leader in any local Church. There’s hardly anything useful that should correct anyone in your ramblings, because, unlike inspired Scripture, your rants are the product of a flawed ordinary person of this era trying to justify his wrongheaded disagreements with Scripture. You training in righteousness on this matter? HA!

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

          Somebody who is anti-Christ speaking for Christ, and thinking he’s not lying for Him.

          So I am the liar?

          Have an objective observer read your critique of slavery in the Bible and mine. See if he thinks that it’s me who’s the liar.

          you may “happily” live with your falsehoods, if that’s what you’re cool with.

          No evidence. Noted.

          Leviticus 25:44-46 isn’t about slavery for life. It’s about God making an allowance for Israelites to buy male or female foreigners to WORK FOR THEM as verse 39 before makes clear.

          Verse 39 is talking about indentured servitude for “fellow Israelites.” Verse 44 is talking about “slaves . . . from the nations around you.”

          This is SERVITUDE, bonded servitude.

          I’d call it slavery, but the word isn’t the point. It’s slavery for life, just like in the South in the U.S.

          The arrangement being for life isn’t the main point. The main thing is the servitude itself.

          “Now, you’re going to be a slave for life. You’re going to be property and can be sold or beaten at the whim of your owner. But that’s really not the point. The point is servitude itself.”

          That’s a helpful clarification. Thanks.

          The other thing is God doesn’t require Israelites buy foreigners.

          God isn’t forcing you to own another person, he’s just allowing you to.

          Another helpful clarification, thanks.

          permanent servitude is a term of the agreement foreigners were well aware of thereby granting them the freedom to reject it if perhaps they didn’t like it or agree with it.

          You’re saying that the slaves for life entered as slaves voluntarily? That they weren’t war captives, for example?

          Prove it.

          As for southern pastors defending colonial era slavery from the Bible, they were wrong.

          Two people read the same passages and come to radically different conclusions. Seems to me that whoever “inspired” this document was a moron if he can’t convey his message clearly.

          And I wonder at your hubris. You couldn’t be wrong? I thought I was the only one who is always right.

          the fact that you acknowledge that other Christians disagreed with them proves that the issue wasn’t so clear cut, and not “the plain reading of the Bible.”

          Wrong again. Christians get their morality from society and their own conscience. When the Bible says something completely insane (like allowing slavery for life), they have to reconcile what they know to be morally true with their desire to help poor ol’ God out so that he doesn’t look like a bastard. The result are crazy interpretations like this.

          Ultimately Christians like William Wilberforce and President Abraham Lincoln among so many others fought against colonial era slavery on biblical grounds.

          I’m not so sure about Lincoln being a Christian, but let’s ignore that for now. Christians used the Bible as a sock puppet to serve their needs. Y’know, like the Westboro Baptist Church.

          The colonies, and later the United States, weren’t the ancient nation of Israel.

          Even among God’s chosen people, slavery was a thing. If God didn’t like it, you can be sure he would’ve said so. And we had to wait until the 1800s before society got rid of slavery.

          Don’t tell me Christianity is on the right side of the slavery issue when it took them almost 2000 years to figure out that “Don’t enslave people” was a really important principle. And if they couldn’t get this trivial question right, why look to the Bible for wisdom on any other moral issue?

          Because no colonial era nation trading in slaves was or could even legitimately claim to be the ancient nation of Israel in covenant with God under the auspices of the Old Covenant.

          Seems a subtle distinction. Are you saying that slavery for life was OK in Israel but not in the US? Why not? God is OK with it.

          I see the excellence, kindness and goodness of God even more clearly.

          God allows slavery for life? Beating of slaves? Demands genocide? If that’s godly kindness and goodness, you can keep it.

        • adam

          ““Yeah, I’m sure Jesus is smiling on you now.””

          Nope Jesus is DEAD.

        • adam

          “After all, all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, right?””

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d847b56ebbadef26109dd089aff25d700a12bea14a3633357cbcd68640eaaf95.jpg

        • Greg G.

          No, no, no, no. You have to go back to verse 35 to see that it is referring to your kin folk. If you go back to verse 25, that is confirmed. Trying to dodge the issue with the verse 39 diversion earns apologists the “Liar for Christ” title.

          Biblical slavery was like colonial slavery in more ways than you will even look at. The “well, they weren’t Israelis” is a horrible excuse. Slaves had fewer rights, could be owned for life and bequeathed in a will, their families could be torn apart, they could be beaten, and they could be beaten to death. The colonists got all that from the Bible. Biblical slavery was very much like colonial slavery except in the trivial ways you try to inflate. Such antics only make you look dumb and desperate.

        • Greg G.

          There was no United States in the 17th century. But the slavery system of the colonies was based on the Old Testament. Slaves bought from foreigners, slaves for life, six years for indentured servants, I have even seen wills bequeathing slaves to the widow using terminology from Leviticus 25:46. They were Christians following the Bible.

        • MNb

          Not if Agabu says they weren’t.
          /sarcasm.

        • Agabu

          Still grasping at straws Greg. Based on the OT doesn’t mean it is the same as OT servitude. OT servitude was a civil/social matter within the nation of Israel under the auspices of the Old Covenant as distinct from other nations at that time. Slavery in colonial era America was a man made institution misapplying OT teaching for the masters’ of slaves’ own ends. How do I know this? Because colonial era America (which consisted mostly of white Europeans) couldn’t claim to be the ancient nation of Israel with whom God had a covenant with through Moses and all the laws he gave from God. You know very well that they were not. Quoting OT passages doesn’t prove anything other than people were quoting the Bible. Whether it actually applied in that particular situation is another matter entirely.

          For the Christian, the New Covenant through Christ supersedes the Old Covenant, introducing a new dynamic in person to person relationship. The Christian Church isn’t a Geo-political state confined to a specific location somewhere on earth. Christians come from and live in every nation on earth with the sober responsibility of prudently living under the laws of each land so far as they don’t burden the individual Christian with violating biblical morality. The United States and the Christian Church aren’t synonymous, and neither is any other Geo-political country on earth.

        • Greg G.

          Again, the United States did not exist until the late 18th century. Slavery was established a couple of centuries earlier by Christians who, as you understand, thought they had a new covenant and that they were the heirs of the parts of the Old Testament they liked and discarded what they didn’t want under the New Covenant argument. If the New Testament rejected something, “dietary restrictions, for example”, it was not part of the NC. If the New Testament endorsed something, the Ten Commandments, for example, they embraced it. Slavery was endorsed and never rejected in the New Testament. They thought the Jews of the first century had rejected the New Covenant. The 16th century Christians had a New Covenant manifesto which they considered to be authorization to institute slavery according to the Old Testament, along with Jesus’ endorsements for beating slaves and not even thanking them for their service.

          How do I know this? Because colonial era America (which consisted mostly of white Europeans) couldn’t claim to be the ancient nation of Israel with whom God had a covenant with through Moses and all the laws he gave from God. You know very well that they were not. Quoting OT passages doesn’t prove anything other than people were quoting the Bible.

          Then look at the New Testament.

          Romans 2:28-29 (NRSV)
          28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. 29 Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.

          Galatians 6:15-16 (NRSV)
          15 For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! 16 As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

          See also Hebrews 8:6-13.

          Christians thought they were the new Jews, from Paul’s time until the present.

        • Agabu

          “Again, the United States did not exist until the late 18th century.”

          Alright, alright it didn’t.

          “Slavery was established a couple of centuries earlier by Christians who, as you understand, thought they had a new covenant and that they were the heirs of the parts of the Old Testament they liked and discarded what they didn’t want under the New Covenant argument.”

          Slavery wasn’t established a couple of centuries earlier by Christians. Get your facts straight Greg. The kind of slavery that existed then was a residual vestige of the Old Roman empire, which had the practice long before Christianity came on the scene. In Roman times, a slave could refer to someone who voluntarily served others. But it usually referred to one who was held in a permanent position of servitude. Under Roman law, a slave was considered the owner’s personal property. Slaves essentially had no rights and could even be killed with impunity by their owners.

          “If the New Testament rejected something, “dietary restrictions, for example”, it was not part of the NC.”

          Not exactly. Certain things under the auspices of the Old Covenant weren’t “rejected.” Rather, they were set aside because they were obsolete and therefore not applicable under the auspices of the New Covenant.

          “If the New Testament endorsed something, the Ten Commandments, for example, they embraced it.”

          The NT wasn’t in the business of endorsing anything but setting forth a nuanced articulation of the ramifications of the truth of the Gospel of Christ in view of the fulfillment the law and the prophets as the New Covenant era dawned.

          “Slavery was endorsed and never rejected in the New Testament.”

          This is an outright falsehood. Philemon, Galatians 5:28, Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, Titus 2:9-10, 1 Peter 2 all prove this idea of yours as hopelessly untrue.

          “They thought the Jews of the first century had rejected the New Covenant.”

          Doesn’t matter what they thought. What matters is what Christ’s appointed heralds articulated in the canon of NT literature.

          “The 16th century Christians had a New Covenant manifesto which they considered to be authorization to institute slavery according to the Old Testament, along with Jesus’ endorsements for beating slaves and not even thanking them for their service.”

          Again, what some people thought is irrelevant. What the canon of NT literature set forth is the issue. Jesus nowhere endorses slavery. Picking an element in one of His parables is rather silly, because a parable is an illustration using things people are familiar with to make a larger point. The point of Jesus’ parable isn’t slavery is good or that you can beat your slaves, if you have them. The parable isn’t even about slavery, but about being ready for Christ’s return in view of what one has been entrusted with. This thing about Jesus endorsing beating slaves is a figment of your imagination. In the parable, a slave being beaten is a figure for just punishment for not fulfilling his duties or taking care of his responsibilities as he should. Today, the equivalent would be getting fired if you don’t do the job you’re paid for.

          “Christians thought they were the new Jews, from Paul’s time until the present.”

          Again, what some Christians thought isn’t the issue, What the NT actually teaches is. The passages you cite don’t have any bearing on the matter anyway.

        • adam

          “This is an outright falsehood. Philemon, Galatians 5:28, Ephesians 5,
          Colossians 3, Titus 2:9-10, 1 Peter 2 all prove this idea of yours as
          hopelessly untrue.”

          And Jesus proves your idea is hopelessly FALSE.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ae1afb4336eb43eac4eb6542320889b4c9068fa20364f91b3a3a3b8f6e3a0f88.png

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

          I think I’m starting to get it. It was OK for ancient Israel to endorse slavery for life, but it wasn’t for America to, because God said so.

          You’ll have to tell me where he said that it was bad for America.

        • Agabu

          You don’t get it. Indeed it would seem you probably don’t want to get it because it takes away from the usual baseless atheist complaints against biblical Christianity. Once again, there are two kinds of “slavery” in the OT, indentured servitude for native Hebrews, and bonded servitude for foreigners or non Hebrews. The servitude in both cases was designed as a personal, economic and welfare mechanism. It was bad for America and other European colonialists because they propped up slavery for their own ends, and couldn’t claim anything in OT civil law because they weren’t the nation of Israel.

          In the 17th/18th century black people were enslaved simply because they were black and even regarded as three-fifths of a person. Now give me any passage from anywhere in the Bible that clearly teaches that Israelites or Christians could enslave people because they were of another skin colour, another language, tribe, or just plain not fully human. If you’ve got nothing, then all you’ve got is misplaced moral outrage at something that isn’t anything you make it out to be. That boogeyman or more appropriately straw man you’re indignant towards isn’t what’s in the OT.

        • Greg G.

          Once again, there are two kinds of “slavery” in the OT, indentured servitude for native Hebrews, and bonded servitude for foreigners or non Hebrews.

          You are finally getting it. We have been hammering that into your head.

          The servitude in both cases was designed as a personal, economic and welfare mechanism.

          Now you are back to making sutff up. Bond servitude was for life. It was not welfare. It was designed for the benefit of the owner.

          It was bad for America and other European colonialists because they propped up slavery for their own ends,

          Indentured servitude was a way to get passage to the New World, often to escape persecution from other Christians. Biblical slavery was for the slave owners own ends, too, so they were alike.

          and couldn’t claim anything in OT civil law because they weren’t the nation of Israel.

          They were Christians who considered themselves to the new Jews because the Jews had rejected the new covenant. It is irrelevant what the religious overtones were but they did follow the Bible instructions for slavery.

          In the 17th/18th century black people were enslaved simply because they were black and even regarded as three-fifths of a person.

          No, they were bought because they were for sale in the slave trade in Africa. When that market opened up, the slave market grew in Africa.

          Now give me any passage from anywhere in the Bible that clearly teaches that Israelites or Christians could enslave people because they were of another skin colour, another language, tribe,

          Geez, how many times do we have to point out Leviticus 25:44-46? It says FOREIGNERS. It does not specify skin color, language, or tribe. It could be any of them.

          or just plain not fully human.

          Leviticus 25:46a You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property.

          Exodus 21:21b for the slave is the owner’s property

          Exodus 21:28-32
          28 When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall not be liable. 29 If the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not restrained it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. 30 If a ransom is imposed on the owner, then the owner shall pay whatever is imposed for the redemption of the victim’s life. 31 If it gores a boy or a girl, the owner shall be dealt with according to this same rule. 32 If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall pay to the slaveowner thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

          [Note who gets the 30 shekels. Hint: not the slave.]
          [That could be a death penalty offense unless it a slave, then it is just a fine.]

          Not from the Bible but it is how Jewish law was actually practiced, according to Encyclopedia Judaica: Witness

          (2) Slaves

          Witnesses must be free Jewish citizens (Benei Ḥorin u-Venei Berit; BK 1:3), excluding both slaves and non-Jews (BK 15a; Yad, Edut 9:4; Sh. Ar., ḤM 34:19). The evidence of non-Jews is admitted if secular law so requires (Maggid Mishneh, Malveh 27:1), as well as to attest or identify documents made in non-Jewish courts, or whenever the court sees no reason to doubt their objectivity (Tashbeẓ 1:78; Beit Yosef ḤM 34, n. 22; Baḥ ḤM 34:32; Keẓot ha-Ḥoshen 68, n. 1; Tos. to Git. 9b).

        • Agabu

          Bonded “slaves” for a Hebrew’s own ends? Not! Your twisted logic is the problem here.
          Foreigners=language, tribe or race?
          Slaves as property=not fully human?
          Seriously Greg, your “no God” delusions have done quite a number on your thinking process. This is a great example of fallacious reasoning. You sure know how to read whatever you like into these things.

        • Greg G.

          Bonded “slaves” for a Hebrew’s own ends? Not! Your twisted logic is the problem here.

          The value of a slave was somewhere between 15 shekels (Hosea 3:2) and 30 shekels (Exodus 21:32). A shekel was worth about two days pay for a laborer so slaves could work for the rest of their lives for two month’s pay, unless it was paid to the slave trader. The owner needed labor and slave labor was cheaper than indentured labor which was cheaper than day labor.

          Foreigners=language, tribe or race?

          Foreigners speak a different language. Foreigners are unlikely to be from the same tribe. If the person was a different race, they would be a… I’ll give you a hint… it starts with an “f”. Why is this so difficult for you. Colonial slavers bought African slaves because they were foreigners. Colonial owners had indentured servants who were usually from their home country, ie. not foreigners. Are we going to fast for you, Agabu?

          Slaves as property=not fully human?

          Slaves had fewer rights than Hebrew women who were sold, and the women had fewer rights than free Hebrew men. Slaves could be bought and sold like livestock. Laws that punished someone for hurting a person was diminished for the same thing against a slave. If you think that is how someone who is fully human should be treated, then the Bible has damaged you.

        • Agabu

          Hahaha! “Slaves” were cheap labour with a 30 shekel price on their head? O man, you’re full of crazy talk & more fallacious reasoning. When individual Israelites purchased the servitude of foreigners, they were responsible for all their necessities like food, shelter and clothing as well as their health and wellbeing. Does that sound cheap to you? Of course your selective picking of things that prove your point like they were worth 30 shekels of silver is all you care about, another fallacy. More hilarious fallacious crapiola like foreigners speak a different language therefore they were enslaved for racial purposes is the best you can do? Please stop embarrassing good sense and demeaning sound reasoning. Won’t you please? Oh man, oh man. Even more straw grasping by likening “slaves” to livestock (which they weren’t), crazy talk about them having fewer rights than Hebrew women who were sold (which they did with respect to human worth and dignity), and it all meaning they were 3/5 a person an Israelite was somehow. Your crappy explanations are really the product of a terrible thinking process that just doesn’t want to be wrong. Like I said, “no God” delusions are the problem here, and not the biblical text.

        • Greg G.

          Hahaha! “Slaves” were cheap labour with a 30 shekel price on their head? O man, you’re full of crazy talk & more fallacious reasoning. When individual Israelites purchased the servitude of foreigners, they were responsible for all their necessities like food, shelter and clothing as well as their health and wellbeing. Does that sound cheap to you?

          Yes. Paying a hired hand a half-shekel a day, six days a week for 10 years would be 1560 shekels. Food, shelter, and clothing is less than a half-shekel per day per slave as the hired hand could apparently afford to feed, house, and clothe a family for that much. An indentured servant would cost the same as a slave for six years but then you are expected to send him away with something according to Deuteronomy 15:13-14. You don’t do that with a slave. Do you not understand economics and math, either?

          More hilarious fallacious crapiola like foreigners speak a different language therefore they were enslaved for racial purposes is the best you can do? Please stop embarrassing good sense and demeaning sound reasoning.

          You said, “Now give me any passage from anywhere in the Bible that clearly teaches that Israelites or Christians could enslave people because they were of another skin colour, another language, tribe.” That was an absurd request. The skin color, language, and tribe is irrelevant when it comes to enslaving people. Leviticus 25:44-46 sanctions buying slaves from foreigners with no restrictions about their skin color, language, or tribe.

          Oh man, oh man. Even more straw grasping by likening “slaves” to livestock (which they weren’t), crazy talk about them having fewer rights than Hebrew women who were sold (which they did with respect to human worth and dignity), and it all meaning they were 3/5 a person an Israelite was somehow.

          Do you even know why the slaves were counted as 3/5 of a person? It was only for the census which was used for taxation and seats in the House of Representatives. The slaves couldn’t vote anyway. Even with that, slave states had a lot of power in the House but they didn’t want to be taxed per slave, either. It had nothing to do with dignity or rights.

          Your crappy explanations are really the product of a terrible thinking process that just doesn’t want to be wrong. Like I said, “no God” delusions are the problem here, and not the biblical text.

          My crappy explanations finally got you to understand that Bible slavery was not Bible indentured servitude. You should be paying me for this education.

        • Agabu

          Your crappy explanations haven’t been very useful or insightful. If I were paying to be educated, I’d ask for a refund. Bible “slavery” is distinctly indentured servitude for Israelites and bonded servitude for foreigners. In none of the cases is anyone forced to enter into it or told they are not fully human while in it.

          Your acknowledgement that the slave states didn’t want to be taxed per slave so they regarded them as not fully human proves that American slavery had nothing to do with the Bible. Notice how even you don’t cite the Bible for that colonial era nonsense, and neither did they.

        • Greg G.

          In none of the cases is anyone forced to enter into it or told they are not fully human while in it.

          Go back and read the passages where an indentured servant could be made into a permanent slave by giving him a slave wife. At the end of the six years, he had to choose between giving up his wife and children or becoming a slave. However, the children belonged to the master, they had no choice in the matter. They were forced into slavery.

          Read the passages where it says a slave owner could buy the children of alien residents. Since the children of slaves belonged to the master, the residents could not sell their children if they were not free. The children would then be forced into slavery whether they wanted it or not. Since the alien residents were not Israelis, the new slaves could be treated like slaves, without the restriction of having to not treat fellow Israelis harshly.

          Women could be sold into slavery, too, though there were restrictions against selling Israeli women into prostitution. The women had no choice. There is nothing about indentured servitude for women.

          Thieves and debtors could be forced into slavery for a limited time dependent on their crimes and debts.

          If you think the foreign slave traders were selling volunteers, you have the mind of a child.

          Your mind is decaying from Bible rot.

          Your acknowledgement that the slave states didn’t want to be taxed per slave so they regarded them as not fully human proves that American slavery had nothing to do with the Bible. Notice how even you don’t cite the Bible for that colonial era nonsense, and neither did they.

          The 3/5 stuff had nothing to do with the colonial era. Colonial slavery followed the Bible from the beginning and changed over time. The fact that you keep trying to compare slavery from near the end of the slave era with OT slavery is telling. That you can only point to trivialities between OT slavery and colonial slavery also tells us you have no argument.

        • Kodie

          When individual Israelites purchased the servitude of foreigners, they were responsible for all their necessities like food, shelter and clothing as well as their health and wellbeing. Does that sound cheap to you?

          Yeah, I’m sure it was a hardship for the slaveowners but the right thing to do, as paying workers to do jobs and letting them leave freely was the much cheaper option. Next thing you know, you’ll be saying sweatshops are a much better alternative for children than schools, after all, nobody’s paying the kid to attend school.

        • Agabu

          The people under servitude were well taken care of as per OT law requirements. Those sweatshops are just another way to conflate with OT servitude so that you may carry on with your “no God” delusions and moral pretensions against the alleged evils of OT servitude.

        • Ignorant Amos

          When individual Israelites purchased the servitude of foreigners, they were responsible for all their necessities like food, shelter and clothing as well as their health and wellbeing.

          Yeah…imagine that, sorta straw grasping by likening “slaves” to livestock (which they were), isn’t it? Ya fuckin’ dopey clown.

        • Kodie

          The servitude in both cases was designed as a personal, economic and welfare mechanism.

          Why didn’t the slaveowners just pay workers and treat them like humans? What motivation did they have? What economic circumstances are you inherently excusing where people were so desperate they had to offer themselves up to be owned like livestock? I mean, I get that jobs were scarce, but they weren’t really scarce.

          It was bad for America and other European
          colonialists because they propped up slavery for their own ends, and couldn’t claim anything in OT civil law because they weren’t the nation of Israel.

          So you’re saying slavery was ok if you were the nation of Israel. How is that saying anything other than they propped up slavery for their own ends… in the bible? You are admitting god condones slavery as long as you are the nation of Israel, propping yourselves up at the literal expense of other people instead of paying them fairly and treating them as humans instead of livestock. When Israelites were the ones enslaved, I bet they didn’t like it one bit.

        • Agabu

          No, I’m saying servitude in the OT is the issue and unique to the nation of Israel under the auspices of the Old Covenant. The whole mechanism was set up for the benefit and welfare of the poor and destitute.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, that sounds like god condoning slavery to me. You’re the one who pretends it’s not.

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

          Other Christians are watching you. They see you lying, trying to prop up your religion. You’re embarrassing yourself.

        • Agabu

          Whoever these Christians are, you claim are watching me, haven’t said anything to me so far about lying. Until then, your lies about OT servitude are the only embarrassing thing here.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          Well, there are two sides here isn’t it. Either Bob Seidensticker is lying or you are. So does the bible condone slavery?

          Condoning means to treat something as acceptable. Slavery is the practice of buying and/or owning human beings as property.

          So does the bible treat buying and owning human beings as property as an acceptable practice? It does .

          So who is telling what lies?

        • Agabu

          The Bible doesn’t treat buying and owning human beings as property as an acceptable practice. OT “slavery” is servitude with personal, economic and social considerations. Insisting that the Bible’s version of it is about buying and selling slaves—thus treating them as objects or livestock is an outright falsehood.

        • TheMarsCydonia

          “45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.
          46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen forever:

          This is Leviticus 25:45-46. So who should we trust when it comes to what the bible treats as acceptable?
          Leviticus 25:45-46 that uses words such as “buy”, “possession” and “inheritance”? Or you that assert that the bible does not say “buy”, “possession” and “inheritance”?

          The outright falsehood is yours. How should we explain that you are not able to admit to the words the text plainly uses? Do you suffer from a “god” delusion?

        • Greg G.

          Maybe TMC is on to something quoting from a different Bible version. I have quoted Leviticus 25:44-46. Perhaps your brain has an immunity to that particular version. Here is the list from Bible Hub:

          Leviticus 25:44-46

          New International Version
          44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

          New Living Translation
          44 “However, you may purchase male and female slaves from among the nations around you. 45 You may also purchase the children of temporary residents who live among you, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, 46 passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat them as slaves, but you must never treat your fellow Israelites this way.

          English Standard Version
          44 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. 45 You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. 46 You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.

          New American Standard Bible
          44 ‘As for your male and female slaves whom you may have– you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. 45 Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. 46 ‘You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another.

          King James Bible
          44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. 46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

          Holman Christian Standard Bible
          44 Your male and female slaves are to be from the nations around you; you may purchase male and female slaves. 45 You may also purchase them from the foreigners staying with you, or from their families living among you–those born in your land. These may become your property. 46 You may leave them to your sons after you to inherit as property; you can make them slaves for life. But concerning your brothers, the Israelites, you must not rule over one another harshly.”

          International Standard Version
          44 “As for your male and maid slaves who will be with you, you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations. 45 You may also buy from resident aliens who live among you and their families who are with you, whom they fathered in your land. They may become your property. 46 You may give them as inherited property to your children after you, to own as properties in perpetuity. You may make bond slaves of them, but no one is to rule over his fellow Israeli with harshness.

          NET Bible
          44 “‘As for your male and female slaves who may belong to you–you may buy male and female slaves from the nations all around you. 45 Also you may buy slaves from the children of the foreigners who reside with you, and from their families that are with you, whom they have fathered in your land, they may become your property. 46 You may give them as inheritance to your children after you to possess as property. You may enslave them perpetually. However, as for your brothers the Israelites, no man may rule over his brother harshly.

          New Heart English Bible
          44 “‘As for your male and your female slaves, whom you may have; of the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers who sojourn among you, of them you may buy, and of their families who are with you, which they have conceived in your land; and they will be your property. 46 You may make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession; of them may you take your slaves forever: but over your brothers the children of Israel you shall not rule, one over another, with harshness.

          GOD’S WORD® Translation
          44 “You may have male and female slaves, but buy them from the nations around you. 45 You may also buy them from the foreigners living among you and from their families born in your country. They will be your property. 46 You may acquire them for yourselves and for your descendants as permanent property. You may work them as slaves. However, do not treat the Israelites harshly. They are your relatives.

          JPS Tanakh 1917
          44 And as for thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, whom thou mayest have: of the nations that are round about you, of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them may ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they have begotten in your land; and they may be your possession. 46 And ye may make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession: of them may ye take your bondmen for ever; but over your brethren the children of Israel ye shall not rule, one over another, with rigour.

          New American Standard 1977
          44 ‘As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. 45 ‘Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. 46 ‘You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another.

          Jubilee Bible 2000
          44 Both thy menslaves and thy maidslaves, which thou shalt have, shall be of the Gentiles that are round about you; of them shall ye buy slaves. 45 Ye may also buy of the children of the strangers that live among you and of those of their lineage that are born in your land, who are with you, and they shall be your possession. 46 And ye shall possess them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit as a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever; but over your brethren, the sons of Israel, ye shall not rule over one another with rigor.

          King James 2000 Bible
          44 Both your male and female slaves, whom you shall have, shall be of the nations that are round about you; of them shall you buy male and female slaves. 45 Also of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall you buy, and of their families that are with you, whom they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. 46 And you shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your slaves forever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, you shall not rule one over another with harshness.

          American King James Version
          44 Both your slaves, and your bondmaids, which you shall have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall you buy slaves and bondmaids. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall you buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. 46 And you shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your slaves for ever: but over your brothers the children of Israel, you shall not rule one over another with rigor.

          American Standard Version
          44 And as for thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, whom thou shalt have; of the nations that are round about you, of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they have begotten in your land: and they shall be your possession. 46 And ye shall make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession; of them shall ye take your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel ye shall not rule, one over another, with rigor.

          Douay-Rheims Bible
          44 Let your bondmen, and your bondwomen, be of the nations that are round about you. 45 And of the strangers that sojourn among you, or that were born of them in your land, these you shall have for servants: 46 And by right of inheritance shall leave them to your posterity, and shall possess them for ever. But oppress not your brethren the children of Israel by might.

          Darby Bible Translation
          44 And as for thy bondman and thy handmaid whom thou shalt have — of the nations that are round about you, of them shall ye buy bondmen and handmaids. 45 Moreover of the children of them that dwell as sojourners with you, of them may ye buy, and of their family that is with you, which they beget in your land, and they shall be your possession. 46 And ye shall leave them as an inheritance to your children after you, to inherit them as a possession: these may ye make your bondmen for ever; but as for your brethren, the children of Israel, ye shall not rule over one another with rigour.

          English Revised Version
          44 And as for thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have; of the nations that are round about you, of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they have begotten in your land: and they shall be your possession. 46 And ye shall make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession; of them shall ye take your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel ye shall not rule, one over another, with rigour.

          Webster’s Bible Translation
          44 Both thy bond-men, and thy bond-maids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are around you; of them shall ye buy bond-men and bond-maids. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. 46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession, they shall be your bond-men for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigor.

          World English Bible
          44 “‘As for your male and your female slaves, whom you may have; of the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves. 45 Moreover of the children of the aliens who live among you, of them you may buy, and of their families who are with you, which they have conceived in your land; and they will be your property. 46 You may make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession; of them may you take your slaves forever: but over your brothers the children of Israel you shall not rule, one over another, with harshness.

          Young’s Literal Translation
          44 And thy man-servant and thy handmaid whom thou hast are of the nations who are round about you; of them ye buy man-servant and handmaid, 45 and also of the sons of the settlers who are sojourning with you, of them ye buy, and of their families who are with you, which they have begotten in your land, and they have been to you for a possession; 46 and ye have taken them for inheritance to your sons after you, to occupy for a possession; to the age ye lay service upon them, but upon your brethren, the sons of Israel, one with another, thou dost not rule over him with rigour.

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

          Agabu reminds me of the dog in this video. He’s simply not going to allow his mom to tell him that he has to go home from the dog park.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSu9mgGnkhk

        • MR

          That’s what makes all the aggravation worthwhile in the end.

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

          the New Covenant through Christ supersedes the Old Covenant

          How was that possible? The Old Covenant was everlasting.

        • Agabu

          Are you now trying to shift the goalposts from slavery to matters about the covenants?

        • Greg G.

          You brought up the subject of covenants.

        • Agabu

          No I didn’t.

        • Greg G.

          No I didn’t.

          In http://disq.us/p/1ek9lu9 you mentioned the Old Covenant twice and the New Covenant once. That is the post to which Bob S was replying. He even quoted you referring to each.

          That is what the practice of apologetics does to the brain. It makes you blatantly wrong about most everything.

        • Agabu

          I mentioned the covenants with respect to “slavery.” Bob’s question went beyond that. It had nothing to do with the issue, and is therefore opening up a whole new topic.

          Seems like “no God” delusions are the only thing that have made you go after those pesky hobgoblins that are nothing but card stacking to no end. The what about this, and this, and this, and this mentality. Those hobgoblins are always the preoccupation of little minds.

          Notice how we’re so off topic and not even talking about the minimal facts argument for the resurrection. You dig? This is what “no God” delusions do to the brain, always looking for excuses to keep thinking that way for blatantly selfish reasons. O yeah, I said that again. Why? Because, what other reasons have you got when you’re the center of your universe?

        • Greg G.

          Jesus still thought beating slaves was the proper thing to do, just like under the Old Covenant. Why split hairs over irrelevancies?

        • Agabu

          No He didn’t. We’ve already talked about that. Your tortured interpretations on the parable were a failure. They’re only “right” in your head.

        • Michael Neville

          It’s obvious to everyone, including you (though you try to pretend otherwise), that your Bible, inspired by your god, condones slavery. When specific rules are given for the treatment of slaves, when specific rules are given for who can or can’t be a slave, when specific rules are given for manumitting slaves, then your Bible and your god has no problem with slavery. All of your song and dance doesn’t change that.

        • Agabu

          No high horse riding Mike, the God of the Bible doesn’t condone slavery. He set up OT servitude as a safety net mechanism to help the poor and destitute. Your intellectual prowess which is saddled with “no God” delusions and moral pretensions doesn’t want to grasp that.

        • Michael Neville

          The Bible gives RULES on treatment of slaves. If your god didn’t condone slavery he would have made a simple, straightforward statement: “Thou shalt not own slaves.” Since that didn’t happen then he’s okay with slavery. Own it and stop pretending otherwise, Aga.

        • Agabu

          That’s your argument? Some naive and stupid thing like ” a simple straightforward statement: “Thou shalt not own slaves.”? Really? This level of pomposity isn’t at all surprising coming from the likes of you o high and mighty Mike.

          I don’t need to pretend there’s something in the Bible that just isn’t there. You want me to agree with you that the Bible condones slavery (your version of it), it doesn’t. Your wretched “no God” delusions keep you pretending that it does.

        • Michael Neville

          Well, Aggy, considering your denial of Biblical slavery is “nope, didn’t happen ’cause I say so” you can’t expect a sophisticated rebuttal to your simplistic argument. While sticking your fingers in your ears and saying, “La la la I can’t hear you” is a popular Christian apologist response to atheists’ arguments, it doesn’t actually show anything but your refusal to face reality. But you’re a Christian apologist, you and reality aren’t even nodding acquaintances.

          EDITED because Discus went wonky on me.

        • Agabu

          Sophisticated rebuttal? You, high and mighty Mike, don’t give sophisticated rebuttals. Insults and personal attacks is more your repertoire, window-dressed with some big words here and there in order to give it a thin veneer of intellectual rigor. Those are the only things available in your stockpile of intellectual weaponry due to your “no God” delusions. Your reality is built on lies and half-truths. As a Christian, I certainly aint gonna be nodding acquaintances with reality as you see it.

          Denying your ridiculous version of slavery you confuse with servitude in the Bible is fairly easy to do. People such as yourself with anti-Christian tendencies and “no God” delusions bring these biases to the Bible so foreign to it. These are the sort of things that have you erecting straw man arguments all over the place, which you harp on about rebutting with sophistication. Please.

        • Michael Neville

          The guy who calls me “high and mighty Mike” is whining about insults and personal attacks. Introspection and self-awareness aren’t your strong points. I make you an offer, stop attacking me and I’ll stop thinking that you’re an ignorant, stupid asshole. You’ll still be an ignorant, stupid asshole but I’ll make an effort not to think that you are.

          And you still haven’t rebutted my “if god didn’t like slavery he would have said so” argument. Calling it a strawman just shows that, like other ignorant, stupid assholes, you don’t actually know what a strawman argument is. A non-ignorant, non-stupid asshole would attempt to explain why his god didn’t outlaw slavery. I guess you’re not knowledgeable or intelligent to come up with such an explanation.

        • Agabu

          Vitriolic high and mighty Mike on cue. What else is new? Smugly reveling in and then making stupid offers about not engaging in insults and personal attacks while doing so is the perverse preoccupation of a thin-skinned individual with a very little mind.

          As for your dim-witted “if god didn’t like slavery he would have said so” argument, it has been rebutted by a simple and plain appeal to the Bible’s characterization of it as servitude largely for the benefit of the poor and destitute, and not abhorrent enslavement due to racial or sexual prejudices. Is that clear enough for you o high and mighty Mike?

        • Michael Neville

          I see, you do want me to think you’re an ignorant, stupid asshole. Actually I don’t think that, I know it because you still haven’t explained away Ol’ Yahweh’s approval of slavery. Pretending that chattel slavery was a welfare program is dumber than dirt. But since you are dumber than dirt it’s no wonder you pulled such a weak argument out of your anus.

        • Agabu

          I miss the part where my explanation is dumb and weak, unless of course your “no God” delusions and moral pretensions just won’t let you concede since you actually don’t have a legitimate argument other than mere bluster ans vitriol.

        • Michael Neville

          Slavery isn’t a welfare program. It isn’t designed to benefit the slaves, it’s designed to benefit the slave owners. Officially declaring “no big deal” if a slave is beaten to death but takes more than a couple of days to die is not what welfare is all about. Even an ignorant, stupid asshole should be able to figure that out.

          Also my argument has nothing to do with whether or not your magic sky pixie exists. It has to do with what a specific book says about slavery. Even an ignorant, stupid asshole should be able to figure that out too.

          You like to think that your magic sky pixie is all good and so you try to hand-wave away any examples of the magic sky pixie’s evil. So far your arguments are “slavery is really a welfare system beneficial for the slaves” and “nope, yer rong.” Even an ignorant, stupid asshole should be able to figure out how weak those arguments are.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I miss the part where my explanation is dumb and weak, …

          Yeah…we all can see that, but there is only so many times and ways to point out a thing before you are deemed a lost cause. That train has left the platform long since.

        • MNb

          Yeah – when poor silly Aggy uses words like naïve, stupid, pomposity, wretched, window-dressed, thin veneer, lies, half-truths, delusions it’s not an instult or personal attack. It’s the divinely inspired TRUTH, received by him via personal RELEVATION. Because poor silly Aggy KNOWS.
          In the meantime everyone else sees right through it and recognizes the sheer arrogance that discredits his own belief system, that preaches humility.

        • MNb

          And that’s how our dear Aggy sails …. if someone presents a simple explanation he doesn’t even try to address it, but prefers to sprinkle words like naïve, stupid, pomposity, wretched. And hear him whining that nobody takes him seriously anymore!
          Poor silly Aggy.

        • Agabu

          Explanation already addressed. When it comes to high and mighty Mike, HIS IDEAS and manner of speaking exhibit all those things. Have you ever taken anything seriously? I;m still yet to get a concession, let alone a simple I could wrong about this from your end. None has been forthcoming. I certainly don’t hear it even in this response of yours.

        • MNb

          “Explanation already addressed.”
          Just using words like naïve, stupid, pomposity, wretched may constitute an explanation in your mind, but not in a rational mind.

          “I certainly don’t hear it even in this response of yours.”
          My comment was about something else – your debating style. It sucks. Badly.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There are many ways a creative, all-knowing, and all-powerful deity could make it clear that slavery is immoral while, for instance, giving the Israelite economy a grace period to let slavery “wind down”, should that be necessary. The passages concerning slavery from the Pentateuch (e.g. Exodus 21:2-7, Leviticus 25:44-46), by contrast, provide guidelines that allow for slavery to continue indefinitely. New Testament writers, too, who had an opportunity to overturn or clarify the Pentateuch’s instructions, did not do so.

          Also it seems improbable that a God who was capable of assassinating Israelites by the thousand if they did not follow his instructions to the letter would balk at telling them to give up slaves.

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_Bible

        • Greg G.

          Thousands were killed a message about slavery but David interpreted it as a result of him taking a census.

        • Greg G.

          It says foreign slaves could be treated like slaves, then exempts fellow Israelis only from harsh treatment. You are denying the Bible by denying what it says.

        • Agabu

          Nonsense Greg. We’ve been through this go around already. You’re only good at misreading the Bible for your own ends amigo and then pat yourself on the back for your misinterpretations.

        • Greg G.

          Once again, the passage that makes your eyes blurry:

          Leviticus 25:44-46 (NRSV)
          44 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. 45 You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. 46 You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, BUT as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.

          The possessions have been exempted from not being treated harshly. It only applies to fellow Israelites.

          It takes a twisted mind to interpret that verse any other way. Your interpretation of this passage proves that your apologetics are dishonest.

        • Myna

          At this point, Agabu is simply being contrary for the sake of it. Whether he’s being anachronistic on the slavery issue out of genuine ignorance (ie: “servitude as a safety net”) or simply getting off on the attention is difficult to say. Probably a combination of both, but would guess it tips more to the latter.

        • Greg G.

          He has turned into Steve K.

        • MR

          You know, I haven’t followed Agabu, but from you guys’ reactions I wouldn’t be surprised. Where’s Kodie, she’s good at this shit…. Yo…, Kodie?

        • Greg G.

          I don’t think he is SK. His topics are much different. He is now arguing to be arguing without bringing pertinent facts in. That reminds me of SK

        • Greg G.

          The parable uses the beating of slaves as a positive point. That is condoning the beating. Is that your favorite turd? You like to polish it.

        • Agabu

          I don’t need to polish anything. You on the other hand, as you continue to be saddled with “no God” delusions and snowflake morality, see only what you want to see. Condoning the beating of anyone isn’t the point of the parable. But it is the desperate attempt of a man without a real argument to claim a point the parable doesn’t even make for him. Face it Greg, you are a hopelessly terrible Bible reader with biases that cripple your ability to deal with it responsibly. You try sometimes, but you’re just not good at it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          …snowflake morality…

          Spoing! There goes another one.

        • MR

          You must get a massive discount on those things.

        • Greg G.

          Agabu may be the solution to global warming. We hookup several solar-powered Irony Meters. When Agabu posts, the energy draw on the meters should dim the sun enough to offset the heat trapped by carbon dioxide.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Thank feck they’re free. They number that I go through when there is a glut of cockwombles in attendance, if they cost then I’d be bankrupt and in the poor house.

        • Greg G.

          If the parable had been against something and used slave beating as something that should not be done, then it would not be condoning the practice. Using slave beating as an acceptable practice to make a point is condoning it.

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

          You’re becoming a tiresome, waste-of-time asshole. You need to up your game to avoid being banned.

        • james

          hello Greg, if jesus did not think the ot laws about beating slaves were applicable, he would have never made a positive point out of it? so jesus was all for the old cov?

        • Greg G.

          Luke 12:47-48 is probably based on Matthew 24:48-51 but toned down in light of Deuteronomy 25:2 for the severe beating and Leviticus 5:17 for the light beating, though the OT verses are not about slavery. Matthew’s version had the master cutting the slave to pieces. Luke objected to that rhetoric but did not object to the beating of slaves since he put those words in Jesus’ mouth instead.

          The Covenant is Jewish theology and the Old and New Covenant are Christian theology. Israeli and Egyptian archaeology show that there were never large numbers of Hebrew slaves, there was no Exodus, and that the Hebrews just had a different religion than their fellow Canaanites.

          You find a little in Mark 14:24 which is based on Exodus 24:8 and Jeremiah 31:31. The whole passage in Mark appears to have combined Psalm 41:9 for the “bread” and “betrayal” with Isaiah 53:12 for the “breaking” and the “pouring out”.

        • Greg G.

          You brought up the covenants as if the New Covenant differed from the Old Covenant regarding slavery. He refuted that by pointing out that the Old Covenant was supposed to be everlasting, which means Old Testament slavery would still be in effect. He was not off topic or changing the subject. You did that by not answering his question in the context that it was asked.

          If you cannot answer his question, then concede.

        • Agabu

          Please! He didn’t refute anything. He nitpicked a small detail in the response. There’s a solid answer to the question that actually get’s us into an entirely new discussion that has very little to do with “slavery” in the Bible, one which even you’ll be too happy to nitpick to no end.

        • Greg G.

          If the old covenant is everlasting, there cannot be a new covenant. It makes an omniscient god into a liar. Bob pointed that out with regards to the slavery issue after you brought it up. You dodged the issue.

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

          It makes you blatantly wrong about most everything.

          And it makes you determined to justify your God conclusion, regardless of the facts.

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

          Just trying to follow the trail of errors. If you’ll check, I’m pretty sure you’ll find it was you who brought up the New Covenant®.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I see you’ve went full on imbecile.

        • Agabu

          I see you didn’t respond to anything my ignorant amigo. name-callin don’t count as a rebuttal mon.