Foolproof Method for Separating History From Legend?

history legend jesusLet me share with you an article that I enjoyed. And when I say “enjoyed,” I mean, “was baffled by.”

The article is “The Bible and Miracles: Fact or Fantasy?” and it proposes rules for separating history from myth and legend. It concludes that the Bible’s miracles are history.

Four simple rules

1. Unlike myths, biblical miracles are presented in a historical context, that is, in conjunction with actual historical events, many of which can be verified by archeology.

Yes, myths are often unconnected with human history, but that’s a quibble for this conversation (more on the distinctions between myths and legends here). Let’s consider legends instead, which typically are presented in a historical context. For example, the legend of King Arthur and Merlin was set in England around 600. The legend of William Tell was set in Switzerland around 1300. The legend of Jesus the miracle worker could be set in Palestine around 30.

Archeology supports biblical miracles no more than it does the supernatural stories in the Iliad. Yes, there was a Jericho and yes, there was a Troy, but archeology gives no support to the supernatural.

2. Miracles are presented in a simple, matter-of-fact style. No fanfare, sometimes not even a comment.

I don’t think that Jesus’s miracles are treated any more matter-of-factly than Merlin’s magic, the gods’ supernatural actions in the Iliad, or Paul Bunyan’s overlarge feats.

3. Miracles occur in a framework of reason and logic. There are no miracles just for the sake of miracles. They are not performed for show; they are not “magic tricks” designed to entertain the reader.

The Bible’s miracles are not entertainment, but they are done to make a point. Jesus performed his miracles “so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Matt. 9:6).

4. Miracles are performed in the presence of hundreds, sometimes thousands of witnesses; and many of the witnesses are still alive at the time the events are written down.

No, the stories claim that miracles were performed in the presence of many eyewitnesses. There is no independent historical documentation of a single miracle. For example, I’ve pointed out the weakness of Paul’s claim of 500 eyewitnesses to the risen Jesus here.

Let’s test drive these rules

To illustrate a non-miracle, the author gives this example:

Even now, over 200 years after the fact, would anyone believe someone today who wrote that George Washington calmed the Delaware River and walked across it while his soldiers rowed?

We have the author’s own foolproof 4-part method to separate miracle from legend. Here’s an example; let’s try it out.

1. “Washington walked across the Delaware River” is in a historical context. No one doubts that the Continental Army crossed that river the night of December 25, 1776 to attack enemy forces in Trenton.

2. Matter of fact style? Check. It’s easy to imagine the story told in this style.

3. Not performed as a trick or entertainment? Check. Washington had to get across somehow, and he could’ve walked across the water as a morale booster for the troops.

4. Performed in the presence of hundreds of witnesses? Check. History records 2400 soldiers in the group that crossed with Washington.

According to the author’s own checklist, he would be obliged to accept this account of Washington walking on water as an actual miracle. Since this account would be written about our own country’s history in Modern English, it would be more reliable and accessible than gospel stories written in 2000-year-old Greek from an ancient culture.

Parallel the gospel story with a modern analogy

The author bristles at the concern that the gospel story is unreliable history because it was initially passed on as oral history and written long after the events. He proposes a parallel. Compare Jesus known only through gospels written decades after his death with Mahatma Gandhi known only through the film Gandhi, which was produced decades after his death.

To understand the early readers of the gospels, consider ourselves learning about Gandhi only through the film. But the author wants us to imagine a very different Gandhi. This Gandhi does the things that Jesus did: he proclaims himself divine, heals the sick, and multiplies loaves and fishes. Would you believe it?

Now go further. Would you believe that this Gandhi died and resurrected? That He died for your sins? Would you drop everything to accept this Gandhi’s call to follow Him?

Of course not. That’s a helpful parallel, and this Christian author has nicely demonstrated that the gospel claim is ridiculous.

[SFX: record scratch]

Nope, that’s not the conclusion of this author. He tries to pull the bacon out of the fire:

No one could have fabricated a story as that told in the gospels with the expectation that people would believe it. Yet believe it they did. Why? Because it happened, that’s why! And the apostles that preached the gospel must have demonstrated its truth by performing the same miracles. It’s the only answer that makes sense. No one in their right mind would have concocted those stories,* because no one in their right mind would believe them without reason.

* I argue that the gospel story is legend, not that it was deliberately invented.

Wow—you can’t make this stuff up. This author admits that the gospel story is crazy but tries to salvage his position by spinning this as a good thing. It’s like early church father Tertullian who is quoted as writing, “I believe because it is absurd.”

Yeah, seek out the absurdity. That’s a good way to find truth. Or not.

This reminds me of Sathya Sai Baba, another Indian leader who died a few years ago with millions of followers. He is claimed to have performed almost all of Jesus’ miracles, including raising from the dead. That the absurd stories are true is the only answer that makes sense, right?

The Son of God died:
it is wholly believable because it is absurd;
he was buried and rose again,
which is certain because it is impossible.
— Tertullian, early church father

Photo credit: kymillman

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About Bob Seidensticker
  • RichardSRussell

    Gotta quibble with you about one of your examples, Bob. Nobody today would believe that Washington walked across the Delaware River because nobody at the time (or shortly thereafter) claimed he did. This invalidates the comparison you’re trying to make.

    Instead, why not ask Christians if they buy into the quasi-historical “miracles” of Buddhism, Hinduism, or Islam? Many such claims also meet the 4-way test of this sad apologist. I’ve also heard a devout Mormon claim that the extra-wide streets in downtown Salt Lake City were the direct result of God revealing to Brigham Young that they’d be needed that way for the auto traffic of the 20th Century.

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

      The example of Washington crossing the Delaware came from the Christian author of the 4-item list. I agree it’s a dumb example, but it’s his example.

      • Pofarmer

        He’s a dumb author, I wouldn’t expect, pithy relevant examples. Look at all the Urban legends that constantly pop up. That’s really more consistent with the Jesus story. Bobs, uncle Billy’s cousin Greg said that so and so got a Pepsi with a finger in it, or whatever.

    • Jason

      Ha ha! If someone claims a miracle happened, it’s more likely to have happened. That’s funny!

      • RichardSRussell

        You are trying to construct a contrapositive but getting confused as to how to go about it.

        • Jason

          I was going more for laughs than logic. Your original point was valid, but it had silly implications: a Christian takes a miracle more seriously if someone claims it’s true.

          If Jesus walked on water and no one was around to see it, was it really a miracle?

        • RichardSRussell

          I was going more for laughs than logic.

          Ah. This puts you 2 up on Christian apologists, who seldom go for either.

    • UWIR

      “Nobody today would believe that Washington walked across the Delaware River because nobody at the time (or shortly thereafter) claimed he did.”

      How do you know no one did? How do you know people did make claims about Jesus shortly afterwards?

  • Lbj

    Let’s see. According to Craig Keener PHD scholar who has written a 1200 page book on miracles says that in the modern period alone there are reported around 300 million miracles by various people across the globe. Even if half could be explained by natural means there are still plenty that are not.

    “There is no independent historical documentation of a single miracle.” The resurrection of Christ is documented in the 4 gospels. No one in the past 2000 years has ever been to explain this event by any naturalistic means.

    A good way to disprove miracles is to prove atheism true. Now that has never been done.

    • MNb

      Let’s see. You’re a liar and I’m tired of showing for the gazillionth time the naturalistic explanation (fiction) plus proving atheism (no way of interacting; no reliable methodology). What never has been done is you addressing these points. Because you can’t.

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

      Bye.

    • SuperMark

      Of course with a Ph.D. in the NT there’s no way he’s bias…

    • Aristarchus

      “Even if half could be explained by natural means there are still plenty that are not.”

      Or even if all are explained by natural means there are still none that are not.

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

        Or even if some don’t yet have a natural explanation, that’s no justification for saying, “God dun it!”

      • Cafeeine

        You don’t even have go to other examples. I can recall apologists who will claim with a straight face that just because a purported miracle can be given a possible naturalistic explanation, doesn’t mean that God didn’t nonetheless intervene.
        That is the benefit of having a vague epistemology: You can stick God anywhere.

        • Aristarchus

          Yes, so true. I was just having a little word play on his choice of “half are explainable”, why not 80%, 99.9%? Why not all? Let’s just say all are explainable by natural means therefore none are of supernatural origin. There, I dismissed his argument by an arbitrary percentage of my own. But if all of the miracles are from natural causes and yet god intervened there as well, well I guess god is everything, everywhere, etc… And I have been calling him the universe this whole time :)

    • RichardSRussell

      Even if half have been explained by natural means there are still plenty that have not.

      There. I fixed it for you.

    • Jason

      It’s possible the other half was just made up. No natural explanation needed.

    • smrnda

      If I produced 10 eyewitness testimonies that I was able to deadlift 225 pounds (I weigh less than 105 lbs.) would you believe me? Or would you ask for some better evidence?

      If you wanted a parallel to these “300 miracle claims” given the population of the earth, you can probably find 300 million people who claim to have had *experiences* with ghosts, UFOs all kinds of things. Nobody would take this to be evidence of anything.

      • Greg G.

        I weigh 225 lbs. I’d like to see you lift me. Just so we don’t do the “dead” part, OK?

        • smrnda

          I haven’t done MMA in a while, but I could probably still throw someone much heavier than myself but that’s just because that’s how the techniques work. It’s more like tripping someone over your body. As for picking up someone, people, unlike weights, don’t have nice handles.

          At the same time, seriously, think of the level of recording and evidence we use for sports. We’re talking lots of video evidence, very precise timing – no miracle claim is subject to the scrutiny as times on a friendly 5k.

        • Pofarmer

          As an MMA fan, I’m-intrigued.

    • Nemo

      Atheism is the nullification of the claim “a god or gods or God exists”. But the claim is unfalsifiable, so the nullification, that is, that atheism is true, cannot be proven. This is not a black mark on atheism by the way. It is the theist who can keep moving the goalposts to stick God somewhere we cannot examine yet. Right now, God has been driven from the material world into some other realm outside space and time, from whence he occasionally reaches in and changes things in a way which is indistinguishable from how the world would operate anyway.

      “The resurrection of Christ is documented in the 4 gospels. No one in the past 2000 years has ever been to explain this event by any naturalistic means.”
      I can. The entire “sacrifice for our sins” is ex post facto rationalization about the death of a beloved icon. The resurrection was not documented by anyone at the time, only by writings decades later. The first claims of resurrection were by Paul, who only claimed to have a vision of such, not an actual, physical, he’s standing right in front of me alive experience. The empty tomb story doesn’t appear until the Gospels were written several decades after the alleged events.
      If there is no positive evidence in favor of magic, and those claims about it which can be tested end up being easily debunked, I feel well justified in saying magic doesn’t exist, even if I cannot “prove” it.

    • UWIR

      “I have 300 million arguments for my position, so even if the 99.99% of them are wrong, I still win!” So, basically your argument comes down to a Gish Gallop, except you’re not even going to bother producing the arguments. It’s a meta-argument by assertion. “I assert that I assert that my position is true!”

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

      And what if someone extrapolated 300 million experiences of UFOs? UFOologists would say that even if half could be dismissed, that means there are plenty that are not.

      Or replace UFO belief with belief in astrology or alchemy or something else that you think is bogus.

      A good way to disprove miracles is to prove atheism true. Now that has never been done.

      Translated: “Yeah, but proving miracles is really hard! How about if you prove that they don’t exist? ‘Cause that would be a lot easier for me.”

  • MNb

    So let’s apply this method to The Flying Dutchman.

    Historical context: bingo.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Fokke

    Simple matter-of-fact style: bingo.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Dutchman

    See the Barrington quote.

    Framework of reason and logic: bingo.

    Same Barrington quote.

    Somebody refers to unspecified eyewitness accounts: bingo.

    So the Flying Dutchman is historical.

    Oh – there is a naturalistic explanation as well.

    http://www.cracked.com/article_19418_7-famous-unsolved-mysteries-science-solved-years-ago.html

    Nr. 5.

  • Jason

    This Christian author breaks what I would consider the entry point for all historical methods:

    History assesses the past based on what we know about the present. So an event that seems to break the laws of nature as we understand them today can’t even enter into a legitimate discussion regarding what was likely to have happened in the past. Thus the idea of creating rules to filter true and false miracles for assessing history is absurd. By definition a miracle cannot be possible or probable in the past since it cannot be proved possible in the present. For example, as long as walking on water cannot be proved today, we can’t even begin to discuss whether Jesus (or anyone else for that matter) ever actually did it. It’s not that we know for sure that Jesus didn’t do it; we just can’t speculate about it and still be serious historians.

    • smrnda

      This is a good point. Since miracles are these unique, one of a kind events, there can be no systematic investigation of miracles, and no systematic knowledge.

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

    (Justas399 has taken an unscheduled leave of absence.)

    • Pofarmer

      that’s tragic.

      • Greg G.

        Bob insisted Justas find a new hobby. His hobby seemed to be collecting personal PRATTs. (Points Refuted A Thousand Times)

    • busterggi

      I know how that is, my kitten spent last night at the vet’s office.

    • Guest

  • smrnda

    There are supernatural events in 12 Caesars, a history of ancient Rome. I’m certain that any modern historian just throws those out, even modest claims

  • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ Yǒuhǎo Huǒ Māo

    Harry Potter performed magical feats. Let’s see if it holds up:

    1. Harry Potter takes place in 1990s England. It’s understandable we wouldn’t remember the events taking place because we’re just muggles and we weren’t privy to the ways of magic.

    2. Magic is just a part of Harry Potter’s world. No real fanfare as to its happening. It just is. It’s got rules, it’s got laws, it’s like driving a car.

    3. Harry Potter’s magic wasn’t a trick or entertainment. It was the way he was going to have to deal with the world – at least until He Who Shall Not Be Named returned, at which point his magic was going to have to be used to fight evil.

    4. I don’t know how many students were at Hogwart’s, but Harry Potter did his magic in their presence, and it was certainly a good couple hundred students across all grades.

    • Ron

      The existence of Kings Cross Station is proof of the Hogwarts Express. And I saw i’ wi’ me own two eyes.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/file:GWR_'Hall'_5972_'Olton_Hall'_at_Doncaster_Works.JPG

      Tickets:

      UK Residents

      US Residents

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

        The existence of Kansas is proof of The Wizard of Oz. I’ve been there meself!

        • smrnda

          Is the existence of Dublin proof that Ulysses by James Joyce is factual? There aren’t even any supernatural elements really, so that should be a no brainer.

      • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ Yǒuhǎo Huǒ Māo

        Platform 9-3/4 exists too!

  • busterggi

    Richard Donner made me believe a man could fly, millions of other people saw it and are alive today. Therefor Superman is real.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    You need to come up with your own counter rules; in fact I suspect this will be your next post.

    My suggestion: Talking animals, other than parrots, indicates you are reading mythology, not history.

    • Ron

      Sheesh! You’ve obviously never heard of Mr. Ed and Francis the Talking Mule. The first had his own TV show and the second appeared in seven films.

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

      I did this one about a year ago:

      Separating Fact From Fiction: How Does Christianity Fare?

  • 90Lew90

    I’d like to present to you (the truly amazing) Dynamo. (He also levitates, walks on water, freezes ponds, puts mobile phones inside bottles, disappears into thin air, etc… I think he’s great!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGPL4bko7bw&feature=kp

  • James Walker

    imagine if you will a mentalist and showman with skills comparable to Criss Angel or Derren Brown, only this person is alive about 2000 years ago where there is no technology for people to pull apart and debunk the wonders performed.

    • 90Lew90

      As far as I’m aware there were pretty good illusionists around even in Ancient Egypt. It’s not implausible to suppose that some where very accomplished by Jesus’s time if we recognise the Ancient Egyptian period typically as having run from 3,000 to about 300 years before his birth. Dynamo, below, did his bread trick with fish. I think I’d prefer a fish to a loaf…

      • James Walker

        there is definitely a long history of sign and wonder-working prophets throughout the Middle East. it’s no stretch to think Jesus would have been one of those but evidently with some extra “stuff” in the messaging and the back-story that caught on more than with some of the previous (or even contemporaneous) ones.

      • wtfwjtd

        This was exactly what Celsus said about Jesus. He basically said that Jesus was a bastard child from Egypt that had learned his magic there, and then took his show on the road and practiced it in Palestine.
        It’s too bad his complete work doesn’t survive, it might make for some entertaining reading.

        • asmondius

          If what Celsus said could possibly be true, then logically there is an equal chance that the Gospels are true.

        • Pofarmer

          Actually not. We know magicians exist. Miracle workers and hordes of zombies, not so much.

        • asmondius

          I don’t see how you can possibly discern the validity of a religious belief if you are ignorant of what the belief is.

        • 90Lew90

          It’s simple. You’re Catholic. With that established, it’s quite easy to find out what you believe. Or at least what you’re supposed to believe.

        • asmondius

          Then I suggest you ‘find out’ before levying criticism.

        • 90Lew90

          I have, my friend. I have.

        • Greg G.

          No, they cannot both be true. One says they are isllusions and one says they are real miracles. It is a contradiction of terms.

          They could both be wrong, though. No contradictions there.

        • asmondius

          I am speaking through the lens of historical research.

        • 90Lew90

          Don’t make me laugh. Again. My sides are about to split. Must be your deadpan delivery.

        • Greg G.

          The lens of historical research sees no miracles. The lens of theological research would though.

        • asmondius

          It certainly does – these are events which are described in historical texts. Your personal choice to believe them has nothing to do with the existence of historic material.

        • 90Lew90

          Which historical texts are the miracles of Jesus described in outside of the Bible, which isn’t an historical text.

        • MNb

          These texts are the subjects of historical research, not the historical research itself. It tells us a lot about your claimed “rationality” (or rather the lack of) that you neglect the difference.

        • wtfwjtd

          Tell you what, take the gospel stories, throw out the miracles and stuff taken directly from the literature of the day, and then there might, maybe be an “equal chance” of the gospels containing as much truth as the writings of Celsus.

        • asmondius

          It’s instructive that apparently you take Celsus for ‘gospel’ when none of his original writing regarding Christianity survives – exactly the same issue others levy against the Christian Gospels. I always find it amazing to hear how the early Christians – the scum of the Roman Empire – managed to cobble together texts lifted from ‘the literature of the day’ and religious beliefs from distant lands. Did they obtain these from the local Public Library?

        • MNb

          “early Christians – the scum of the Roman Empire”
          Nonsense. The christians who could read and write per definition weren’t scum, but well educated. Exactly because they could it’s safe to assume they had access to all kinds of texts.
          So much for your rationality.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’m glad we are in agreement on this point then–since we have no originals of the “gospels”, we can consider them as accurate and truthful regarding history as Homer’s Iliad. Thanks for clarifying that you also consider the gospels are rubbish as far as relaying ancient history.

      • asmondius

        In response to your childish comment – please get someone to explain to you what an analogy is, and then get someone to explain to you what ‘context’ is. Then perhaps you can begin to learn the methods of historical provenance. If you wish to engage adults in conversation with big words, at least bother to understand what they mean. Good luck. By the way, you’re just SO impressive and original mocking Jesus Christ, using that worn out old magician schtick – It must be a jolly good substitute for what you lack in the real world.

        • Greg G.

          Right. You are calling another person childish for doubting the ancient tales of magic and miracles while you are claiming that some are true.

        • asmondius

          Please quote my ‘claim’ – otherwise you are simply fabricating an argument to suit your own purpose. I am not running a blog to disprove atheism.

        • Greg G.

          You have written of “Someone” who has risen and that Jesus was resurrected.

        • asmondius

          I called them childish for their behavior. If you had seen the post I was referring to you would understand where I was coming from.

        • 90Lew90

          What’s childish about relaying that some think it plausible that Jesus was merely an illusionist? You waded in on an exchange that didn’t even involve you, with both feet and a slew of insults. Maybe it’s you who needs to grow up. Maybe your mother should have given you less hugs and more manners.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “I called them childish for their behavior.”
          rather than simply calling the behavior childish. are you pursuing the sin or the sinner? looks like you’re comfortable with being judged, anyway – or wish to project the idea when you aren’t deflecting.
          “…as we forgive those who trespass against us… maybe with just a little tit-for-tat just before confession.”

        • 90Lew90

          I didn’t use any words I would call “big”. Maybe you just thought some of them were “big”? I know what analogies are and I know what context is. I’m not sure what you’re trying to get me to do here. In fact your little gut-rot plop of a posting there makes no sense as a response to what I wrote. What are “methods of historical provenance”? Perhaps you mean the methods of *discerning* historical provenance? I just love the way people who believe the most prima facie outrageous fairy tale keep counselling everyone who doesn’t buy it to get into “the real world”. Chortle.

        • asmondius

          Ah, all semantics and no substance – it’s so easy to out juvies on the blogs.

          Perhaps if your parents had given you a hug rather than a Thesaurus at Christmas, your purpose in life wouldn’t be a step above attempting to anonymously insult the beliefs of others.

        • 90Lew90

          So before I didn’t understand the language and now I’ve eaten a thesaurus? Note: nobody has any right to not be insulted. I do however have a right to criticise anything expressed in the marketplace of ideas, a market in which religion looms large. Perhaps I find your religious beliefs insulting. As a matter of fact I do. I find religion itself insulting to human dignity. And who is being juvenile here? Chortle!

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

          Nice insults! Is that all you’ve got? No actual ammunition so you just criticize people’s shoes?

          If you do actually have, y’know, arguments in favor of the Christian position, be sure to let us know. As it stands, you’re obviously impotent.

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

          My, don’t we have big balls? My suggestion: more arguments and facts and less bravado.

        • asmondius

          This was a reply to a comment from your friend in another blog – you are misjudging me simply because you are unaware of the context.

        • 90Lew90

          What are you talking about? Why reply here if you’re replying not only to a completely different post but a different post on a different site?! Gimme a break.

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

          I can’t imagine a context where schoolyard taunts would make sense. If, however, you’re now focused on arguments instead of insults, that would be a nice improvement.

        • asmondius

          Look around at comments directed at those disagreeing with your basic premise, Bob – schoolyard taunts are fairly common amongst your denizens. Crude language as well. That’s how I came to be here.

        • 90Lew90

          Everyone who comes here is met with courtesy. You were discourteous from the off. Patronising, rude, and though you happily level the charge at others, childish. Regarding the comments and the little battles that flair up; people do tend to lose patience when Bible-literalists and fundamentalists have things explained to them repeatedly and endlessly, only to come back as though nothing had been said at all, and then claim they’ve won the same argument they’ve plainly lost over and over and over.

          As a catholic, you’re a different kettle of fish, but as you’ll have gathered, what really gets the red mist descending on me is when catholics start trying to defend the indefensible, which is the litany of crime the good mother church has been up to its neck in, most remarkably but by no means exclusively against children and women.

          You needn’t be so limp-wristed about the crude language, most of which comes from me. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll rein in the expletives if you don’t try to “wallpaper” over the *fact* that your church has been involved in the enabling, perpetuating and covering up of industrial-scale child-rape and abuse by it’s employees. I’ll not swear if you don’t deny that your church’s favourite kind of government in the past hundred years has been fascist. There is no argument to be made against those facts unless you’re a purblind catholic sheep. Now, moving along…

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

      I agree with Lew that not only is this plausible, but we have evidence of such tricksters. Even more plausible IMO is that the Jesus story is just an accretion of legend.

      • James Walker

        most of the scholars I’ve read don’t really doubt the historicity of Jesus, that there was an actual person with the Hebrew or Aramaic version of that name who came from the area of Nazareth, gathered disciples and was eventually executed by the Roman governor for sedition. the question becomes whether that historical Jesus actually said or did all, some or even any of the things attributed to Him in the Gospel accounts. I think I agree with you that at least some of those were “borrowed” from some contemporaries (like, possibly, Mithras) or even invented from whole cloth to give extra weight to the new sect of Judaism that arose from His disciples and eventually became Christianity.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t think there were Actually 12 disciples, I think there were 3 main Apostles, Cephas, James, and later Paul, and a few others accumulated as the movement grew. I think the writings of Paul, form the earliest, most accurate picture of what was going on. I think Mark and the later Gospels then humanized the divine figure talked about by Paul. I think the figure of Jesus would need to be mo more historical than Romulus, or
          Apollo, or any of the other ehumerized Greek figures.

        • James Walker

          yep. there’s a reason I didn’t mention the number “twelve”. it’s far too tidy and has some numerological significance to Kabbalists.

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

          Adding 12 disciples is a nice addition given that culture. But that conflicts with the Judas (traitor) story. You can’t have 12 if one of them is gone. Paul (1 Cor. 15) falls into this trap.

          Seems that the Judas story collides with the 12 tribes/12 disciples one. I’ve heard snippets on this collision but would like to learn more.

        • Pofarmer

          MY understanding is that there are stories of other holy men/whatever with 12 followers/disciples whatever, but I haven’t checked any of them out very closely. Obviously 12 was an important number. 12 hours in the day and in the night, 12 judges of the heavens in Astrology, etc.

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

          I see the 12 symbology. What surprises me is the Traitor story being allowed to (somewhat) disrupt this more venerable story. I don’t have a view of the Big Picture well enough to see how that might happen.

        • Greg G.

          Remember a month or so ago I was trying to find a link about the Twelve and you found it? Paul’s Cephas is Caiphas – Author of 1Peter and Hebrews is by A.A.M. van
          der Hoeven, the guy who wrote that other paper. Here he explains the Twelve and the five hundred in Christian terms. He says that some Dutch scholars have associated Paul’s Cephas as Caiaphas, the high priest in the gospels and in Josephus.

        • Greg G.

          My interpretation is that Paul thought Jesus had been betrayed, per 1 Corinthians 11:23 but not by one of the 12 because the 12 came in Paul’s time, centuries later than Paul’s Jesus

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, but where else does Paul really refer to a human Jesus? What is the chance of this being a later interpolation or addition?

          http://vridar.org/2007/03/14/pastoral-interpolation-in-1-corinthians-10-11/

        • Greg G.

          I tried to reply here but Disqus made me login again and went back to the main reply box.

        • Greg G.

          After thinking a while on it, it may be that Mark invented the Last Supper from Psalm 41:9 and Isaiah 53:12. The interpolater could have got it from Mark. The phrases match up in order but the 1 Corinthians passage had “do this in remembrance of me”. Mark uses “paradidomi” in Mark 14:21.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t know what it was invented or copied or borrowed from, but all of a sudden you have this matter of fact statement from Paul, “And on the night he was betrayed.” I never thought it really fit.

        • wtfwjtd

          I was reading Price’s “Shrinking Son of Man” today, and he referred to 1 Cor 15:44 & 50 as passages that indicate that Paul’s Jesus was celestial. He also feels that the first part of 1 Cor 15 is mostly later interpolation, and doesn’t really give any historical or useful info. FWIW.

        • Greg G.

          It seems to me that Paul is not referring to Jesus in that passage but about the believers when the big day comes.

        • wtfwjtd

          It’s not a specific reference to Jesus, but a reference to resurrection in general. And, in v 45, he refers to “the last Adam”, and v 47 “the second man from heaven.” So he is specifically generalizing the resurrection “principles” of Jesus to include believers, it appears.

        • Greg G.

          Paul explains it in the next four verses, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54. There’s a longer version of it in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and a shorter version in Philippians 3:20-21. The information in those three passages seems to come from Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 13, Daniel 12:2, and Isaiah 25:8 in roughly the same order.

          I think Paul’s Jesus was supposed to be the suffering servant in Isaiah 53:12 who is said to have died for the iniquities of others, who poured out his life and was buried with the rich. So he is talking about a resurrected being from centuries ago coming back from heaven.

        • wtfwjtd

          That does seem plausible, given that the idea of one man getting killed to save the tribe was a common motif of the day.
          Price also had a tidbit about the hymn from Philippians I think, that has the “every knee shall bow bit,” and how a careful reading shows that the messiah wasn’t given the name “Jesus” until after he is killed. This appears to be a bit of 1st century lore that slipped by the editors of the story, and takes a careful reading to pick up on. One of those interesting things that makes you stop and go, “hmmm…”

        • Greg G.

          Everything in the Philippians Hymn seems to come from Isaiah, except for the crucifixion as a cause of death.

          Here are some possible sources Paul used for the Philippians Hymn:

          5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
          1 Corinthians 11:1
          Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

          6 who, though he was in the form of God,
          Isaiah 52:14
          Just as there were many who were astonished at him
              —so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
              and his form beyond that of mortals—

              did not regard equality with God
          Isaiah 9:6
          For a child has been born for us,
              a son given to us;
          authority rests upon his shoulders;
              and he is named
          Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
              Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

              as something to be exploited,
          Isaiah 53:7
          He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
              yet he did not open his mouth;
          like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
              and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
              so he did not open his mouth.

          7 but emptied himself,
          Isaiah 53:12b
          because he poured out himself to death,

              taking the form of a slave,
          Isaiah 52:13a
          “See, my servant shall prosper”

              being born in human likeness.
          Isaiah 49:5
          and now the Lord says,
              who formed me in the womb to be his servant,

          And being found in human form,
          Isaiah 53:2
          For he grew up before him like a young plant,
              and like a root out of dry ground;
          he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
              nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

          8 he humbled himself
          Isaiah 53:3
          He was despised and rejected by others;
              a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
          and as one from whom others hide their faces
              he was despised, and we held him of no account.

              and became obedient to the point of death—
          Isaiah 53:10
          Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
          When you make his life an offering for sin,
              he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
          through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.

              even death on a cross.
          Deuteronomy 21:23 (per Galatians 3:13)
          23 his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree;
          you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a
          tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land
          that the Lord your God is giving you for possession.

          9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
          Isaiah 53:12a
          Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
              and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

              and gave him the name
          Isaiah 54:5a
          For your Maker is your husband,
              the Lord of hosts is his name;

              that is above every name,
          Isaiah 54:5b
          the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
              the God of the whole earth he is called.

          10 so that at the name of Jesus
          Isaiah 49:22
          Thus says the Lord God:
          I will soon lift up my hand to the nations,
              and raise my signal to the peoples;
          and they shall bring your sons in their bosom,
              and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.

              every knee should bend,
          Isaiah 49:23
          Kings shall be your foster fathers,
              and their queens your nursing mothers.
          With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you,
              and lick the dust of your feet.
          Then you will know that I am the Lord;
              those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.

              in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
          Isaiah 24:21-22
          21 On that day the Lord will punish
              the host of heaven in heaven,
              and on earth the kings of the earth.
          22 They will be gathered together
              like prisoners in a pit;
          they will be shut up in a prison,
              and after many days they will be punished.

          11 and every tongue should confess
          Isaiah 49:26b
          Then all flesh shall know

              that Jesus Christ is Lord,
          Isaiah 49:26c
              that I am the Lord your Savior,

              to the glory of God the Father.
          Isaiah 49:26d
              and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

        • Pofarmer

          “given that the idea of one man getting killed to save the tribe was a common motif of the day.[‘

          More?

        • wtfwjtd

          It was a common theme in other cultures, as well as Judaism. Other dying-and-rising savior gods many times did so to save the people by their sacrifice. Price was giving a few examples of this, but I don’t recall specific ones at the moment.
          Also, ever hear of the term “scapegoat”? Not a human sacrifice, but “putting” the sins of the people on an animal and either driving it into the wilderness or killing it was a common practice of Judaism.

        • Pofarmer

          The scapegoat analogy does work, doesn’t it.

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

          I’m not doubting that Jesus was a historical figure (though that he was is indeed debatable). I’m saying that the supernatural stuff could be legendary attachments on an actual Jewish teacher of the time.

        • James Walker

          yes. we’re agreed on that.

        • MNb

          “the question becomes whether that historical Jesus actually said or did all”
          This question is actually quite irrelevant for understanding the development early christianity. The Paulus/Petrus dispute on allowing gentiles is far more important for instance. Even the Gospels agree that Jesus had nothing to do with it.

        • Pofarmer

          And that’s one of the arguments that makes me favor pure myth. A “But Jesus Said” or “The Lord Wrote” argument woukd have settled it immediately, but we don’t get that from either side. Obviously, there were no writings from Jesus to refer to, and the Apostles outside of the 4 canonical Gospels, don’t quote or use his authority either.

        • Ron

          I’ve always found it strange that someone who’s purported to have been the most important man to walk the planet never bothered to write down his thoughts, or at least hire a scribe to do it for him.

          “Guys, you’d better write this down for posterity, because years from now people will become embroiled in major arguments about the things I’ve said and what they meant.”

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, Jesus was the smartest man evaarrrr, but he never penned a note worth keeping? We have lot’s and lot’s of writing preserved from the first century and before, yet, nothing for the most important figure to ever walk the planet? That seems kinda strange.

        • wtfwjtd

          Hell, why didn’t he just snap his fingers or something and produce a book by miracle? Since he was supposedly capable of instantaneous transmutation of matter, this should have been a simple feat. But no, we get nothing.

        • wtfwjtd

          And he supposedly had 12 dudes following him around, wherever he went, available to do any whimsical thing he wanted. What the heck were they doing all day, if not writing down and talking about this stuff? Surely being God and all, he had to know that it was going to be kinda sorta important, and that people would need a definitive reference of his teachings? You’d think, anyway….

        • Pofarmer

          To be fair, the disciples were kind of portrayed as morons.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, they were apparently pretty dense all right. I love that story about the demon they were unable to drive out, and Jesus told them that this kind can be “driven out” only by “prayer and fasting”. Who the hell were they supposed to pray to? Couldn’t they just ask Jesus to grant them the power and cut out the middleman?

        • asmondius

          They were simple people – not a sophisticated blogger such as yourself.

        • hector_jones

          Simple like you, you mean?

        • asmondius

          Well, it doesn’t require a great deal of sophistication to deal with puerile comments. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to demonstrate this.

        • hector_jones

          Funny but I found the same thing when it came to dealing with your puerile comments. You know what? You are kind of a … what’s the word I’m looking for? … asshole.

        • asmondius

          He wasn’t here to relieve you of the burden of faith – isn’t Salvation good enough?

        • hector_jones

          Salvation from what? From his own prison system? Sounds great. But it’s all imaginary anyway.

        • asmondius

          Well, such a basic question. If you don’t have any knowledge of that which your are trying to disprove, I’d say you are just another victim of Sisyphus Syndrome.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Salvation” from what? Infinite punishment of imagined finite offenses against a non-existent deity? Next, you’ll be telling me that this imagined god had to sacrifice himself, to himself, so he could bypass a rule that he made up. Yea, sounds great.

        • asmondius

          If He were truly ‘imagined’, you and your associates would not be expending so much time and effort here denying Him – that would be lunacy, wouldn’t it? After all, I don’t see any vociferous blogs trying to debunk Mickey Mouse.

        • MNb

          First this is not a reply to “Salvation from what”? So you are just the gazillionth dishonest believer who changes subject when he/she is not capable of giving an answer.
          Inthe second place your last sentence is bogus. Bring us millionths and billionths of people who claim that Mickey Mouse was divine and you’ll see how much effort those blogs will make to debunk it.
          But thanks for confirming my prejudice that christianity is a serious threat for human cogntivie skills.

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

          I see people denying Islam. I guess that means that Mohammed must truly be God’s last prophet.

        • asmondius

          I speak of God, you are speaking of a religious faith. See the diff? Islam and Christianity do not disagree on the existence of one God.

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

          No, I don’t see the “diff.” Your argument could apply to lots of other religions.

          The trick always is showing that your filter shows Christianity (and Christianity only) as correct and all the others to be manmade. Your “If He were truly imagined…” comment, yet again, fails in this way.

        • asmondius

          ‘Your argument could apply to lots of other religions.’
          That’s exactly my point. You are wasting your time thinking that debunking Christianity somehow defeats God.

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

          I’m missing your point. You’re saying that defeating all Christian arguments doesn’t mean that the Christian has no warrant for believing in God? You’ve lost me.

          And I still want to hear your algorithm for evaluating religious evidence.

        • 90Lew90

          That’s because the only people who perhaps think Micky Mouse is real are, well, kids. Go figure.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s because there aren’t people trying to maim and kill other people in the name of Mickey Mouse.

        • asmondius

          People main and kill in the name of many things, such as democratic ideals – do you deny democracy as well?

        • 90Lew90

          “People main and kill…”. I think you mean “maim”. Fighting for freedom and self-determination are not the same as fighting for Jesus, or Allah. Even if you’re prepared to admit that each is merely an idea, freedom and self-determination are of the good sort, Jesus and Allah are manifestly not.

        • MNb

          Fortunately I have relieved myself of the burden of faith a long time ago.

        • asmondius

          Are you asking for my help?

        • asmondius

          Perhaps He did and these were lost.

        • hector_jones

          The writings of the most important man to walk the earth, the son of god even, lost. Typical. Your God and his son would lose their heads if they weren’t glued on.

        • asmondius

          Alexander the Great ruled the known world of his day, yet I can’t seem to find his autobiography.

        • hector_jones

          Idiot.

        • TheNuszAbides

          actually worth considering, and one of my favorite themes in medieval fantasy gaming.

        • MNb

          “And that’s one of the arguments that makes me favor pure myth”
          And that’s a non-sequitur. So is

          “there were no writings from Jesus to refer to”
          Somehow I doubt if you apply this argument to Socrates and Diogenes of Sinope. So you’re inconsistent.

        • Pofarmer

          I think the difference is, that there are plenty of contemporary references to those writings. For Jesus, you have none of that. No writings, and no reference that there ever were any.

        • MNb

          I think this attempt of yours shows your ignorance. Socrates did not write anything. We know Socrates via Plato and Xenophon, who totally contradict each other.
          About Diogenes we only have a vague claim that he wrote. We know Diogenes’ teachings only via quotes; none of them are contemporary. His main biographers, Plutarchus and Diogenes Laertius lived several centuries after his death.
          The methodology of JM is an ad hoc one, hence unreliable. Its skepticism, as you show nicely yourself, is totally onesided: hyperskeptical towards the theory it tries to refute and nonskeptical towards the theory it tries to prove.
          Very much like creatinoism.
          For instance you say “that’s one of the arguments that makes me favor pure myth” but don’t wonder in the least if it actually contradicts a historical Jesus. It doesn’t, so this can’t be used to argue for or against one of the competing theories. That’s the same method as creationists arguing that design proves a Grand Old Designer – they don’t wonder either if there is a naturalistic explanation for it.

        • Pofarmer

          I am happy to be corrected.

        • Greg G.

          There are methods that can be applied in Jesus’ case that are not possible for most characters in history due to the fact that we have a great deal of the literature that was available and common in the Christian community. A method that takes advantage of this might be ad hoc but it doesn’t make it unreliable.

          We can see that most of the deeds attributed to Jesus and exaggerated by Mark had been done by OT characters and Homeric characters.

          The Minimal Jesus Hypothesis infers that Jesus was a Jewish preacher/teacher from Galilee who was crucified by Pilate. The earliest writings about Jesus are the Epistles but they don’t support the preacher/teacher from Galilee nor Pilate being a part of the story. All the epistles support are details from the OT. It is not just Paul, either. 1 Peter 2:21 says “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” That would be a good place to give an example from the Jesus of the first century. Instead, the next four verses quote from Isaiah 53, about the suffering of the Suffering Servant.

          The best evidence for Jesus seems to be literary creations. Josephus wasn’t around in the early first century so he can’t give first-hand accounts but we can’t rule out that he read some of Paul’s letters and the Gospel of Mark or their derivatives.

          I think the level of our acceptance of facts should be proportional to the strength of the evidence. Much of history could be simply agreed upon fictions. We can’t go back to verify.

          It doesn’t matter to me so much whether Socrates was a real person because we can still use the Socratic method and contemplate the ideas attributed to him even if he wasn’t real.

          It doesn’t matter to me whether Jesus was a real person. It’s just that the version of Jesus of the late first century who was supposed to be from the early first century doesn’t correspond well with the early first century version of Jesus who seems to be a character in Isaiah.

        • James Walker

          while I agree with you about the relevance to Christianity’s evolution, it is relevant to the questions posed in the OP (how do we discern which bits are history, which bits are legend and which bits are outright invention).

        • Greg G.

          If you compare the deeds of Jesus in Mark with the literature of the day, you find that nearly everything had been attributed to others. Randel Helms shows that the miracles seem to be copies and exaggerations of the miracles of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha. Dennis MacDonald shows that Jesus’ travels around the Sea of Galilee are like tales in the Odyssey and the Passion narrative is like the death of Hector in the Iliad. Mark has other stories that are similar to Old Testament stories and blend with the Homeric parts. Matthew uses out-of-context verses just to make them sound like fulfilled prophecies, even if they don’t make sense. Luke has material that comes from Josephus. John has some of Mark’s fictions and stories that rely on the Greek language in discussions with Pharisees so they aren’t likely to be real.

          I think the problem is more about finding any bits in the Gospels that might be real. The Jesus Seminar voted 80% of the stories as fiction but they left in the story in Mark 2 about the Pharisees popping up in a grain field and Jesus defeating them in an argument by citing 1 Samuel 21 and getting nearly every detail wrong about it.

        • asmondius

          Oh yes, we can be certain that Jews in Galilee were well versed in the Iliad and the Odyssey.

        • hector_jones

          We can be certain that whoever wrote the gospels were well versed in the Illiad and the Odyssey, the gospels being written in highly literate Greek.

        • asmondius

          That is factually incorrect.

        • Pofarmer

          The author of Mark isn’t claimed by anyone to have been a jew from Galilee, even in ancient times, it was believed to have been written in Rome.

        • asmondius

          The question is the source of the material, not the individual who compiled it. Can you show me a copy of Hamlet in Shakespeare’s own hand?

        • Greg G.

          The region became Hellenized when Alexander the Great conquered it. The Decapolis were ten Greek cities in the region of Galilee. Their culture would have influenced their neighbors of the centuries. They didn’t have movies and television back then, don’t you know. They watched plays and listened to story-tellers. The Homeric stories were the most popular of the day.

          Homer’s works were used as text books for learning to read and write in Greek, especially in Greek composition. The whole New Testament was composed in Greek.

          In John 3, Jesus has a conversation with a Pharisee named Nicodemus who is confused by “born from above” and “born again”. This is humorous in Greek because the word for either meaning sounds similar. There is no other language that the error could be made. So either it is a fictional account written by a Greek author or Jesus and the Pharisees spoke Greek. If you want to salvage John 3:16, you must accept that Greek was commonly spoke in Jerusalem at the time. Otherwise, you must give up Christianity’s favorite verse.

        • Pofarmer

          Hold on a minute Greg. Are you claiming that a conquering culture would affect the culture it submitted? Maybe the ideas of the conquering culture would get worked into the ideas of those on the losing side? I mean, that’s crazy talk.

        • Greg G.

          I know, I must have been insane to think the Hellenized world could possibly be Hellenized.

          It was suggested to me by asmodius that I should do something where I have talent. I’m pretty good at missing the pot when I pee but I can’t even match asmodius in that field either.

        • Pofarmer

          The sad part to me, is that it seems like there are an unlimited number of fundies, all with the same bad information.

        • Greg G.

          All knowledge outside the Bible is superfluous. The parts of the Old Testament that don’t support the New Testament as fulfilling prophecy is irrelevant. If you don’t understand that last book now, just wait.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m sure many/most of them are perfectly nice people, they are just living in a world slightly out of phase with reality. I know my world came into focus considerably when I shed religious beliefs and started looking at the world a different way.

        • Greg G.

          I know the feeling. Everything that seemed either miraculous or mysterious suddenly seem like nothing more than the edges of the bell curve of normal everyday events.

          Today’s Jesus and Mo is in that vein.

        • asmondius

          The New Testament as we know it – as critics like to point out – was not compiled or actually scribed by Jesus or the Apostles. It seems a tad incredulous that poor, simple Jewish fishermen in a Roman backwater were well tutored in Greek culture, doesn’t it?. You seem to have assigned a mistaken notion to the term you call ‘Hellenized’. The Jews had certainly not adopted Greek religious beliefs or familial customs, for example. Greek was the lingua franca within Palestine, if you understand what that means. Knowing enough to barter did not make one well versed in literature. Furthermore, that version of Greek was not the same as would be used to scribe the Gospels. As is the case with your friend Celsus, no original writings of the original subjects survive but do appear as references in other works. That obviously does not mean that originals ever existed.

        • 90Lew90

          You’re not half patronising are you. This is just wrong: ” It seems a tad incredulous that poor, simple Jewish fishermen in a Roman backwater were well tutored in Greek culture, doesn’t it?. You seem to have assigned a mistaken notion to the term you call ‘Hellenized’. The Jews had certainly not adopted Greek religious beliefs or familial customs, for example.”

          Jewish culture became steeped in Greek culture. Greek clothing and food became common among Jews. The Greek language came to replace to a very large extent Hebrew and Aramaic. Jews used Greek names for travel and business, and Hebrew at home. They were immersed in Greek culture. Speaking of going to the library; the very earliest mention of the Library at Alexandria appears in the Letters of Aristeas. Aresteas was a Jewish scholar. Alexandria was a Jewish centre to rival Jerusalem itself, and there was much travel and commerce going on between them. Maybe you should check out some actual history before parading your ignorance. You can read about Hellenistic Judaism here http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/7535-hellenism
          and here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellenistic_Judaism for a start.

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

          Indeed, the Maccabean War came out of a civil war between Hellenized and traditional Jews, aggravated by the Seleucid Antiochus Epiphanes. This was around 170 BCE that some Jews were scolding others for being too Greek.

        • 90Lew90

          I love the way these people come along and routinely take pot-shots about literacy, historical knowledge, religious knowledge etc, and then blindly make pronouncements from absolute ignorance. Catholics tend to be the most aloof of the lot. The good thing about debating them is that they’re a lot more hemmed in by doctrine than simple Bible-believers, a lot of which they’re ignorant. A bit of Catechism and Canon Law usually sends them on their way. Or else witness some very creative wriggling…

        • TheNuszAbides

          seems to me it’s usually predicated on their supposed ability to fall back on centuries of theological archives (as a belief/thought system this is surely where ‘they’ have many other perspectives ‘beat’). as you indicate, the better-read Catholics may or may bear their burden with a grain of humility, but the sort which asmondius appears to be in a couple of Bob’s comment sections makes their contemptuous amusement/bemusement clear right off the bat, casually lumps together attitudes and motives he apparently hasn’t made the effort to accurately ascertain*, and pretends he was ‘holding the mirror up’ all along when his cheapest shots meet with retaliation.

          *(to be fair, we can’t pretend he’s always given much to work with, but in such cases his compassion and patience are surely called into question.)

          as far as any Learned Catholic [im]balance of erudition:arrogance, ‘Ye Olde Statistician’ is the most exceptional entity i’ve encountered online – in fact i attribute the advancement of [my universal curiosity and motivation to exchange ideas over the past four years] to his carriage over about 7 months of the commentary that ensued after nonbelievers had spent a couple of weeks trashing a fairly pompous (though hardly outrageous) book review (fair warning! neither the review, nor by a LONG shot the commentary, is a short read or even a short skim, but YOS’s posts are among the longest and should stand out if you care to sample one or two): https://web.archive.org/web/20101206122431/http://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/04/believe-it-or-not

        • Greg G.

          Paul mentioned Peter, James, and John in Galatians and held their positions in disdain. Mark went even further and made them fishermen in his story. It’s a fictional allegory.

          Bart Ehrman mentions that a man in the ancient writings was called literate because he could write his name. That’s not the kind of literate we’re talking about.

          Are you suggesting Justin Martyr couldn’t make more sense than a character he made up?

        • asmondius

          You are confusing classical Greek with the form of Greek used in Judea at the time. You are also placing troubadours in Palestine during the 1st century – I doubt this is a realistic viewpoint.

        • Greg G.

          None of the gospels were written in Jerusalem. The type of Greek spoken there is irrelevant to their composition. But the conversation in John 3 is in Koine Greek. So what is your argument here? I am saying the John 3 conversation is unlikely because it could only occur in Greek, the kind of language you seem to be saying wouldn’t have been used. Your are looking for contention and disagreement but your argument is with John.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ll go another step further. I think that the whole execution and crucifixion is also made up to ehumerize the risen celestial messiah of Paul. There would be precedents in Egyptian religions of the day, and possibly others. The story of Gods dying, or nearly dying, and rising wasn’t uncommon. I think the strongest evidence against the idea of a historical execution, is the complete lack of tomb veneration until Constantine declared a tomb site in the 4th century. In Ancient Palestine, the site where someone rose from the dead would have been instantly holy.

        • James Walker

          the story in the gospels sort of hand-waves that away with the borrowed tomb and burial in secret so none but the closest followers knew the location. I’m not sure which way I lean because I just don’t know enough about the graveyards and what may or may not have survived intact after the Maccabean insurrection and subsequent Roman sacking of Jerusalem.

        • Pofarmer

          The thing of it is, if there were large numbers of people venerating someones tomb for rising from the dead before 70 A.D., surely one of the historical works of the time would have recorded ot, and all the authors are silent.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, this is a big deal in my mind too. Tomb veneration predates the pyramids by tens of thousands of years, and worshiping at a prophet’s tomb was very common in 1st century Palestine. In fact, for me, this one missing vital piece of physical evidence alone disqualifies the entire crucifixion/burial narrative from being historical. It’s the one piece of physical evidence at minimum that we would expect, no, demand, the story would have, and it’s MIA. There’s nowhere to go with the story without it, except to the “legend” bin.

        • asmondius

          There was no need to venerate the tomb of Someone Who had risen – obviously.

        • Pofarmer

          Then why is the site considered one of the holiest places in Christianity today? Millions go there. Why did Constantine even look for the supposed tomb?

        • asmondius

          The discussion here concerns whether it was so at the very beginning of Christianity. The answer to your question lies in elapsed time and the changing circumstances of the religion in relation to the societies where it as practiced. Incidentally, it was Constantine’s mother who sought out locations from the New Testament.

        • Pofarmer

          Tomb veneration was common in the Ancient world. Each ressurection story has at least a few people who know the location of the tomb. Jesus is around on earth after that for at most 40 days according to the Gospels and Acts. So why wouldn’t early christians venerate the spot where their savior rose from the dead? It seems like kind of a big deal.

        • Greg G.

          No need to venerate the tomb of someone who was thought to have risen back in Isaiah’s writings, either. Look at how important Isaiah 53 is in the earliest epistles to the writing of Acts.

        • Pofarmer

          Or someone who was believed to be an Angel, risen in the heavens.

        • asmondius

          Isaiah’s is a prophecy. The importance is that Christ fulfilled prophecy, not the location of his tomb.

        • Greg G.

          The early epistles refer to and quote Isaiah more than any other writing. They don’t talk about a preacher or a teacher. The suffering servant quotes read like they took it as history.

        • asmondius

          Example?

        • Greg G.

          But they should have venerated the site of the one and only resurrection that saved mankind from hell, dontcha think?

        • asmondius

          Jesus’ resurrection did not save mankind from Hell.

        • Greg G.

          Oh, you don’t want to talk about why the tomb wasn’t venerated?

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes–obviously. I mean, there were so many other dying-and-rising savior gods running around, no one would care about actually verifying the story or the place where it happened, would they? This resurrection thing was common as rain in the ancient world, people saw them all the time. No big deal at all.

        • asmondius

          Hmmm – how many world religions are based upon that notion today?

        • MNb

          Let me give you the answer you desire. One. What exactly does that prove? That christians managed to exterminate the other religions quite effectively?

        • wtfwjtd

          Ah yes, the old Christian popularity=absolute truth fallacy. You’d better be careful here–Islam has nearly as many followers as Christianity, maybe more. When it has more than your made-up religion, then you’ll have to convert to it, because it will then be “most true” religion.

        • asmondius

          I am referring to an obvious historical fact of existence, not the number of followers. Christianity began with a very small group of people, thus its survival is obviously is due to more than ‘popularity’.

        • asmondius

          Jews?

        • TheNuszAbides

          especially Jews. i mean, who bought Philo’s silence?

        • asmondius

          Why would someone venerate a tomb when the living presence of Christ was with them each day? I don’t see how you can criticize a belief that you have little to no knowledge of.

        • 90Lew90

          How do we know they had the “living presence of Christ” with them? And Catholics venerate all sorts of things, from bits of cloth to bits of bone to caves.

        • asmondius

          Because the Eucharist is at the central core of early Christianity/Catholicism. Catholics do not ‘venerate’ caves, not sure where you picked that up from. Just as Americans do, they regard with deep respect reminders of certain individuals or events of the past. People do not venerate the fields and trees of Gettysburg per se, they honor the memory of those who fought there.

        • 90Lew90

          Catholics venerate relics is what I was getting at. Bits of cloth. Severed heads. Bits of bone and dried dead flesh. And given the number of them who flock to Lourdes each year, I’d call that veneration of a damn cave.

        • Pofarmer

          Is that reply supposed to make sense?

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’ve heard similar interpretations, but also that the region was ‘Hellenized’ enough that an ‘authentic’ Hebrew/Aramaic name wouldn’t have been essential.

        • asmondius

          Many of you seem to sing the ‘Hellinized’ tune, yet you apparently have no Earthly idea of what the term means.

        • 90Lew90

          “Many of you seem to sing the ‘Hellinized’ tune, yet you apparently have no Earthly idea of what the term means.”
          I refer you again to the sources I gave you. And I presume you’re not much of a boffin either, given your botched spelling of the term. Psst. It’s “Hellenised”.

        • TheNuszAbides

          addressing a group (whether actual and cohesive, or poorly-abstracted) rather than an individual might be one the problems you are having with your particular attempts at exchanging ideas.

      • asmondius

        It’s even more plausible that your theory is a secretion of jealousy.

        • TheNuszAbides

          if you could articulate the difference between envy and jealousy without looking either of them up, your petty insults might actually achieve a sting one day.

        • asmondius

          If the shoe fits – wear it.

        • TheNuszAbides

          gee, that’s a new concept. don’t bother advising me on this one, i’ve done years more self-reflection than your would-be-snark evinces.

        • asmondius

          Are you looking for some applause here?
          OK – clap, clap, clap.

        • TheNuszAbides

          don’t quit your day-job.

    • asmondius

      Imagine that the world then did not resemble that which you live in.

  • Nemo

    Christianity promised infinite happiness (just ignore the implications) to believers, and commanded followers to go out and recruit. Only one other religion in history had both of these, and Christianity and this other religion are, not coincidentally, the two largest religions on Earth. In the elitist Roman Empire, the story of Jesus was compelling on an emotional level to an entrenched underclass who already had their own superstitions anyway. The spread of Christianity is not beyond explanation, except by those who don’t want it explained.

    • asmondius

      Name another religion spread by ignorant Jewish fisherman.

      • Pofarmer

        Christianity was initially spread greatly by Paul, supposedly a trained theologian, and Cephas and James, who we don’t know much about.

        • asmondius

          Hmmm – I wonder who trained him?

        • 90Lew90

          Care to venture a guess?

        • asmondius

          Certain of the Apostles. Christianity was not spread merely by one person.

        • 90Lew90

          Oh come on big guy. Stop being so coy.

        • asmondius

          You have my answer..

        • 90Lew90

          Nicely ducked. Or not. Who trained Paul? It’s a very simple question. Or would you be trying to conceal a blunder?

        • wtfwjtd

          Can you back up that bold assertion with any references in your holy book?(Hint: In Gal 1:12, Paul flatly contradicts your assertion by stating that “he did not receive the gospel of Christ from any man”. Unless you want to call Paul a liar, perhaps?)

        • 90Lew90

          Guess he wondered into that one.

        • Pofarmer

          It actuallu looks like it was spread by 3 main apostles initially. Cephas, James, and later Paul.

        • asmondius

          He’s referring to his conversion.

        • 90Lew90

          You’re walking along and twist and break your ankle in a pothole. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just get up and trot along so easily in real life?

          “What broken ankle?! My ankle is unbending! I believe in it!”

          The sane answer would be:

          “Umm no. Your foot’s hanging off and no matter how much you believe in your ankle, the blood coming from it is actually toxic, so we’re putting you in quarantine.”

        • Greg G.

          Paul says he was a Pharisee and advanced for his age.

        • Pofarmer

          Paul says he was a trained Pharisee.

        • asmondius

          Yes, he probably was – yet I doubt that was the training which allowed him to later preach Christianity.

        • Pofarmer

          Paul says emphatically he didn’t recieve any training from any earthly source. Do you have other information?

        • asmondius

          Where, exactly, does he say this?

        • wtfwjtd

          Idiot. If you weren’t so obsessed with trolling, and actually read a few of our posts for content, you might learn a thing or two. But in the interests of discussion, I’ll repeat what was posted, maybe you can actually take a moment from your trolling and read (and comprehend) a bit of it:

          Galatians 1:11-12–”11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

          –Paul

          Got it?

        • asmondius

          I already addressed this – he was obviously referring to his conversion. Christianity is indeed not of human origin.

        • wtfwjtd

          Right–”gospel I preached” now means “conversion”, and “I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it” means ” I was taught it by men that I despise”. And, “received it(the gospel I preach) by revelation from Jesus Christ” now means “I went to rabbinical school in Jerusalem, and learned it there”. Got it, that’s perfectly clear, and makes perfect sense. Obviously.

        • Pofarmer

          Galatians 1

        • Pofarmer

          Galatians 1

        • asmondius

          er, that is not exactly what he says. He states that the source of what he preaches is not the creation of man. Let me provide a few different translations in order to help you:

          ‘For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man.’

          ‘But I make known to you, brothers, concerning the Good News which was preached by me, that it is not according to man.’

          ‘But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.’

          I don’t see the word ‘training’ in there anywhere.

        • Pofarmer

          Exactly, and Paul mentions it nowhere else. He says he doesn’t receive Christs teachings from any man. I would rather assume that also means no one trained him to deliver it.

        • 90Lew90

          You intimated that you knew who trained him. Do tell.

        • asmondius

          ‘supposedly a trained theologian’ – this was your friend’s comment. Ask them.

      • Greg G.

        Name one religion that was spread by ignorant Jewish fishermen. Christianity was spread by men trained in Greek composition.

        • wtfwjtd

          Now, hang on there a minute, Greg. Next, you’ll be telling me that we don’t even know who wrote the gospels, or several New Testament books.

        • Greg G.

          All those have the authors’ names at the top. They were put there by the early church fathers and we know they knew what they were doing? :-j

          I like the authors named Acts and Revelation the best.

        • wtfwjtd

          Ah, of course, that settles it then. Those guys wouldn’t steer us wrong! It’s not like they had an agenda or anything.

        • Pofarmer

          Well they are eye witness accounts and admissable in a court of law

        • wtfwjtd

          Sure they are! I mean, after all, aren’t all eye witness accounts written in third person narrative, using popular literature of the time, anonymously, decades after the events? Sounds like a formula for absolute reliability and trustworthiness to me…

        • asmondius

          ‘Popular literature of the time’? Available on scrolls in newsstands and bookstores throughout Palestine? Or perhaps published online on CamelNet?

        • wtfwjtd

          Some of this popular literature was call the “Hebrew Scriptures”. Are you familiar with these?

        • asmondius

          Yes, but unfortunately the majority of the population were illiterate. And any form of writing was very expensive to obtain.

        • Greg G.

          Those who could compose writings could also read. They learn to read by reading things. Learning to compose Greek rhetoric required that they read literature.

          Also, since they didn’t have TV and movies and most people couldn’t read, there were public performances.

        • asmondius

          ‘They learn to read by reading things.’ First of all, there wasn’t much at hand to read – only the wealthy could afford to obtain scribed material. Secondly, consider how we educate children – we do not lock them in a room with books and expect them to emerge as competent readers. Third, there is only one amphitheater known to have existed in Jerusalem during the time, build by Herod. Here again, only the wealthy attended. Common Jewish people were apparently not big fans of Greco-Roman theater. Finally, the version of the Greek language commonly used in Judea was a shorthand, pidgin version which, while useful for commerce, did not lend itself to perusing the Classics.

        • MNb

          Only the wealthy could afford to learn to read and write. Those who weren’t had to spend all their time suriviving. You don’t make much sense.

        • asmondius

          That pretty much sums up Judea at the time – take a look at any current 3rd World country and you’ll get a sense of what it was like.

        • asmondius

          There is no rule which says that the convention had to conform to modern practice.

        • Greg G.

          We know. That was the joke.

        • asmondius

          We know the source of the material, that is much more meaningful than who placed ink on paper.

        • wtfwjtd

          So much for your “the gospels were written by eyewitnesses” claim.

        • asmondius

          Arguing with yourself again.

        • Pofarmer

          Actually, we don’t know any sources. That’s rather the point.

        • asmondius

          Of course we do. Or perhaps you believe that all of our knowledge concerning ancient history is dependent upon having copies of original source documents..

        • Pofarmer

          It’s generally agreed that we don’t know who wrote the majority of the NT.

        • asmondius

          Author and scribe are two different things.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, if we don’t know who wrote a document, and that document isn’t attributed to anyone by said document, then it would generally be considered to be of unknown origin.

        • asmondius

          The New Testament plainly attributes it material back to the source.

        • Pofarmer

          Where is the attribution for the Gospel of Mark.

        • Pofarmer

          Who is the Gospel of Mark attributed to within the writing?

        • asmondius

          “As Peter had preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had followed him for a long time and remembered well what he had said, should write them out. And having composed the Gospel he gave it to those who had requested it. When Peter learned of this, he neither directly hindered nor encouraged it.”
          – Clement

        • Pofarmer

          Within the writing. You have third hand, at best, evidence here, with no other support.

        • asmondius

          You are mistaken if you believe that the ancients practiced modern publishing methods with an overleaf for the author, etc.. ‘Third hand evidence’ is considered a gold mine when researching history during this period. Mark took knowledge from Peter, who walked with Christ, and compiled this into writing several decades after Jesus ascended.. Plutarch compiled various tales about Alexander, from first and second hand accounts, and put them in writing some 400 years after Alexander’s death. Do we believe Plutarch when he states ‘it is said…’???
          You see, you have the same disease many of the others here have – you can’t conceive of a world different than your own. You insist that the past conform to the circumstances you are familiar with. It doesn’t work that way.

        • Pofarmer

          Not at all. Plutarch tells is is sources( which are no longer extant) as part of his work. We find none of that with the bibles. All you have are e beginings of Apologetics.

        • TheNuszAbides

          assumption is not knowledge.

        • asmondius

          But deduction is the precursor to knowledge, so we are in safe territory.

        • Pofarmer

          Deduction requires evidence.

        • asmondius

          Christianity. There is no doubt that it began in Jerusalem and environs.

        • wtfwjtd

          “no doubt?” Wow, such confidence. Too bad you can’t back your bold dogma with any credible evidence.

        • asmondius

          There is ample historical evidence. What a silly comment.

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, richard carrier domonstrates in “not the impossible faith” that Christianity indeed grew faster outside of Jerusalem, and they converted far more Pagans than Jews.

        • asmondius

          How is that relevant to where Christianity started? I think you got on the wrong bus somewhere. All of the Apostles preached outside of Jerusalem, by the way.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, simce Christianiy was an offshoot of judaism, you would have expected it to start around there, but it actually grew faster away from Palestine.

        • asmondius

          It’s more correct to say that it expanded outward from Palestine.

        • Pofarmer

          Not really. There was a large Christian center very early on in Alexandria, and obviously Christianity grew in Rome, and what is now modern day Turkey. Palestine remained largely Jewish, well, until the Romans leveled most of it.

        • asmondius

          Various ancient texts and traditions placed the epicenter as Jerusalem – the first Christian was martyred there, for example. We know for certain that the first Christians were Jews. As far as evidence which exists for this time period in general, it is sufficiently credible.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Various ancient texts”–oh yeah, like Mark, Luke, Acts, Galatians–and “traditions” –of the early Christian church– all assure us of the absolute truth of all its claims, including yours. Yeah, sure, a variant of the early religion that later came to be called “Christianity” likely originated in the Jerusalem area in the early 1st Century. So what? Paul, pretty much the earliest Christian writer, spent virtually no time in Jerusalem, only visiting there occasionally, as he spent most of his time on the road preaching to the Gentiles. The gospels are thought to have been written in Rome or some other locale, and the pseudo-epigraphical nature of several other epistles demonstrates that a variety of chaotic belief systems later came together to form what we now call Christianity. The idea that one, unified religion sprang up in Jerusalem, and rapidly spread outward from there, is not supported by the (scant) available evidence.

        • Greg G.

          Yes it did but it wasn’t illiterate fishermen.

        • asmondius

          Ah, so some Greek scholars decided to ghost write a new religion using illiterate Jews as their dramatis personae.

        • Greg G.

          One did. A generation later, it was the only story about a first century Jesus but people wanted more so Matthew improved it theologically and added some teachings. Luke used both of them. John borrowed stories that were probably related orally.

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

          Might’ve. The story certainly talks about Jerusalem, but none of the gospels are thought to have been written there. Do any of the epistles come from there? Maybe it started elsewhere.

        • asmondius

          The text we have on hand carries slightly more historical weight than conjecture. For the moment, at least.

      • Nemo

        Paul, the guy who made Christianity more than a cult of uneducated Jews, was a Roman citizen who was well versed in Greek and Roman ideas. Your argument’s premise doesn’t even hold up.

        • asmondius

          Once again, Paul was only one person. Andrew was martyred in Greece. Phillip preached in Asia. Bartholomew was in what is now known as Armenia. Peter went to Rome. And so forth. And Paul, as a good Jew of an upper class, received most of his education at a rabbinical school in Jerusalem. As he described himself: ‘the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.’

        • Nemo

          Does not the Bible itself describe Paul as the major preacher who went outside the Jewish community? Are not Paul’s writings the earliest written books of the New Testament? You stated that no other religion was spread by ignorant Jewish fishermen. I pointed out that the Bible itself claims it was spread by an educated Roman citizen (who happened to be Jewish).

        • asmondius

          ‘Does not the Bible itself describe Paul as the major preacher who went outside the Jewish community? ‘
          ‘A’ major preacher. That does not make him the sole driver for the spread of Christianity.

          ‘Are not Paul’s writings the earliest written books of the New Testament?’ Not necessarily. They are the earliest we can confirm today.

          ‘the Bible itself claims it was spread by an educated Roman citizen..’ No it doesn’t. And Paul was largely a rabbinical student, not a Roman bon vivant.

        • Pofarmer

          Rabbinical student?

        • asmondius

          He studied under a rabbi, not a counsel.

        • Pofarmer

          He says he was a pharisee, advanced for his age. Where does it say he was a “rabbinical student”? Are you saying Paul exagerated his credentials?

  • Sophia Sadek

    Jesus would never have walked on water if Orion had not preceeded him in the feat. A divine spirit would never have descended upon him like a dove had not a similar event occurred to Semiramis. Mary would never have had a divine impregnation had not Alexander’s mother received one first. Christians have no problem dismissing these thing when it comes to Orion, Semiramis, or Alexander but to think it legend in the case of Jesus is to court lightning bolts from out of the blue.

    • James Walker

      it goes back even further than that, though. much of Jewish story and ritual was lifted from other faiths around them. Christianity follows in a long tradition of acquiring the teachings of surrounding cultures and “correcting” them by placing the invisible and unknowable God in the center of them. it is that feature, I believe, that has enabled these faiths to evolve and survive.

      • wtfwjtd

        Not only is he invisible and unknowable, but he’s also unfalsifiable. And, right on cue, this is a borrowed feature as well.

    • asmondius

      Let’s examine the last of your claims, regarding Alexander. Alexander’s supposed divine origin is only preserved in one place, by Plutarch who mentions it in passing:
      ‘The story goes on to tell how Philip lost one of his eyes with which he peeped through the chink of the door and spied upon the god (Zeus Ammon – my note), who, in the form of a serpent, was couched with his wife. According to Eratosthenes, when Olympia was sending Alexander forth to war, she confided to him in private the secret of his birth and exhorted him to preserve a mind worthy of his high descent. Others assert that she repudiated the whole story as impious and used to exclaim: “Will Alexander never cease to embroil me with Hera?”

      Alexander is said to have been born a year after Olympia’s marriage to Philip of Macedonia. Plutarch is writing this material around 100 AD, some 400 years after the death of his subject.
      Jesus’ earthly parents are not powerful royalty. His mother is betrothed, not yet fully married, when she bears Him. His followers have formed a strong community, are preaching His word, and the story of His life has already been written down before Plutarch ever places stylus upon paper. This is less than a century after His death.

      Case closed.

      • Sophia Sadek

        Your thoroughness of research into the ancient world is truly amazing. I am quite surprised that you missed the references to Alexander’s divine generation in the remnants of the Cynic tradition. That tradition predates both Plutarch and Jesus by a few centuries.

        Case reopened.

      • TheNuszAbides

        it’s like you’re smearing wishful thinking all over the walls and windows and doorknobs in some petulant attempt to pre-empt the notion that someone who doesn’t Believe might know any piece of significant information that you don’t know (or would invariably dismiss as insignificant). “Case closed”? hilarious. please post that glamour shot with your Absolute Expertise credentials.

        • Pofarmer

          Asmondius is just another Catholic with a ginormous chip on his shoulder for anyone who might deny the all powerful truthiness of the One True Church.

        • TheNuszAbides

          he certainly must wish he could drop pearls one-tenth as apt and illuminating as those from Ye Olde Statistician… unless of course he has ~issues~ with Thomism?

      • Pofarmer

        Isn’t it interesting that Paul seems to know nothing of Jesus birth, and Mark finds it unremarkable enough not to mention it? We don’t get a birth story till Mathew and Luke, which, strangely enough can’t agree on the details, and add a lot of nonhistorical baggage to it.

        • asmondius

          The fact that the four Gospels cover the same basic territory yet do not agree on all of the details is actually considered evidence that there is some historical validity there. All of which has absolutely nothing to do with my post, by the way.

        • Pofarmer

          All kinds of crazy things are considered evidence of historical validity, many of them seemingly unique to Jesus “scholarship.” But, still, saying that Plutarch wrote a biography of Alexander 400 years after is death, while the Jesus story was already being written. What is that supposed to mean? Plutarch was relying on older, already penned biographies as his source material. We know that because he tells us. What it appears that you have is Cephas, James, and then Paul, running around preaching a Gospel of a Crucified messiah. They don’t appear to know much about the earthly Jesus, and, in fact, any words or deeds of Jesus are without mention. Paul even laments that he has no deeds, only Christ Crucified. Wouldn’t the guy running around stamping out Christianity know something about it? When he argues with Cephas and James, there is never a “But Jesus Said” moment. These guys appear to know very little about any earthly Jesus. And, then, later on, some one pens the Gospel later called Mark. It uses adoptionist theology wherein Jesus becomes fully the Son of God upon his Baptism “This is my Son, with who I am well pleased.” By the Gospel of John, you have the theology of “In the beginning was the word, blah, blah, blah.” These are not Gospels covering the same basic territory, these are different theologies, and are theologies advancing as we get further from events. Jesus goes from “Born of a woman, under the Law.” in Paul, to “Born of a Virgin” in Matthew and Luke, to “The very word of God” in John. What I am saying, is that you have a nice narrative, but it doesn’t really fit the evidence.

  • Greg G.

    That’s interesting. Whoever wrote 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 probably got it from Psalm 41:9 for the bread and Isaiah 53:12 for the wine being poured out. I was trying to connect the diviving among the strong with breaking bread. In conversation with TruthSurge, he argues that the Greek paradidomi means handed over rather than betrayed. But a form of that word seems to be used in the Septuagint version of Isaiah 53:12. I suppose it corresponds to the dividing but it’s all Greek to me.

    • Pofarmer

      So the handing over is another OT device based on the Greek septuagint and Isiah?

      • Greg G.

        I’m not a scholar and I don’t know the languages so I try to read between the lines of the translations. Psalm 41:9 seems to have a Hebrew idiom that literally translates to “lift heel” which apparently means a betrayal. The Septuagint has more words to translate it.

        Isaiah 53:12 has “and he shall divide the spoil with the
        strong” and there is a word like a root of “paradidomi” about where I would expect a word for “divide” to be.

        Mark 14:21 and 1 Corinthians 11:23 use “paradidomi” at the beginning of the Last Supper passages.

        That’s a little more than I actually know.

        • asmondius

          I suggest you invest time in something where you have some talent.

        • Greg G.

          Thank you for the suggestion.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i get it now; asmondius has grown accustomed to showing humility only in the sacred enclosure of its own personal relationship with jesus+. no surprise that it leaps at the opportunity to attack human-based humility.

    • wtfwjtd

      Price thinks the Lord’s supper is probably a rip-off of Dionysus and maybe Isis I believe. These ancient gods of grain already had a beer-and-bread ritual that predates Christianity by centuries, all they did was substitute wine for beer and viola! you have the Lord’s supper.

      • Greg G.

        Jeremiah 7:18
        18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.

        Jeremiah 44:15-18
        15 Then all the men who were aware that their wives had been making offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: 16 “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we are not going to listen to you. 17 Instead, we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her, just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials, used to do in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. We used to have plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no misfortune. 18 But from the time we stopped making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, we have lacked everything and have perished by the sword and by famine.”

        They seem to have had similar rituals in Judea 700 years earlier.

        • Pofarmer

          And there would seem to be some similarities with the passover rituals, as well, which kind of makes you go, hmmmm.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus was like a two-year old. If the other gods were getting bread and wine offerings, he wanted them, too.

        • asmondius

          Only it was Jesus who offered the bread and wine to others. Oooooops!

        • Greg G.

          The Three Bears served porridge, too, in the fictional story. Haven’t you read the “do this in remembrance of me” passages?

        • asmondius

          What of them?

        • asmondius

          You need to revisit those passages and stop taking snippets out of context.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus was teaching them to do this in the story.

        • asmondius

          Your interpretation of the Eucharist as a human offering to Jesus is about as far from the truth as one can get. ;
          ‘This is my body…’ – He’s asking people to offer His body to Himself???

          Disbelieve Christianity as you will, but for heaven’s sake understand the premise hose beliefs first.

        • Greg G.

          When you bring up questions like that it reminds us of the self-cannibalism aspect of the ritual.

        • asmondius

          yah, Passover didn’t happen until after Jesus, right?

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, no, that’s rather the point.

        • asmondius

          Which is……..

        • Pofarmer

          That the Eucharist uses elements of the passover meal.

        • asmondius

          er, the Last Supper was held during Passover. Thanks for alerting us to the fact that Jesus was a Jew.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, so you have this “new” sacrament, combining elements from the passover celebration, and possible combining elements of mithratic origin, with some old testament writing about wine being “the blood of grapes” etc, etc. There’s nothing really all that earth shattering about the whole thing.

        • asmondius

          Let’s do this again, step by step. Jesus was a Jew, he formulated the Eucharist based upon the Jewish Passover, which has absolutely nothing to do with any other religion. Drinking wine and eating bread is not a uncommon practice across all the peoples of the Earth. It does not mean that their practices come from the same source. Finally, since their is no existing legacy of ‘mithratic origin’, I’d say you would be hard pressed to compare it to anything.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, we’re getting there. The passover was in remembrance of the Exodus, a mostly biblical story. The Eucharist was instituted from parts of the passover, in remembrance of a mostly mythical Jesus.

        • asmondius

          Oh, I see – Jesus was remembering Himself.

          Very clever fellow.

        • Pofarmer

          Clever Authors.

        • asmondius

          Yes, they managed to communicate most of the pertinent events which had occurred.
          Your simple equation is that ‘if I don’t agree with the text it must be fiction’. Not very scientific.

        • Pofarmer

          Ah, but that’s not my contention at all. It doesn’t matter whether I agree with a text or not if it has the hallmarks of fiction. Miracles and miraculous deeds? Hallmarks of fiction. A story getting more complex as you get further from events? Hallmarks of fiction. Third person omniscient narrative? Hallmarks of fiction. Lack of attribution or very, very loosely attributed (acts, revelation). Hallmarks of fiction. Disagreement between texts on similar incidents? Culd go either way, honestly.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and the mormons borrowed most of their rituals from the masons…
          i wonder how much of scientology is repurposed Supernature Theatre and how much LRH & Co. thought they were revealing original procedures from whole cloth…

        • Greg G.

          You must be used to that whooshing sound by now. It’s caused by points going over your head.

        • asmondius

          More likely it is just a gush of hot air. When the opponent finally resorts to simple insults, I know we are near the end.

        • Greg G.

          You breezed in with vacuous Twitter-like comments and expect to be taken seriously?

        • asmondius

          Well I honestly can’t take seriously anyone who sees an origin to the Last Supper anywhere the words ‘drink’ and ‘bread’ appear.

        • Greg G.

          But it is bread and drinks being offered to gods and you refuse to see a connection.

        • asmondius

          The Eucharist is not an offering at all – you have it almost entirely backwards.

        • 90Lew90

          No, the Eucharist is where bread and wine become, literally, the flesh and blood of Christ — transubstantiation — one of the daftest things catholics are given to believe. Then you eat his flesh and drink his blood to be in “communion” with him. It’s pretty macabre. And gruesome. And stupid.

          What does Jesus say when he wants to be remembered? “Eat me.”

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, let’s let Jesus tell us exactly what your Eucharist is:

          John 6:53-56–”53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”
          Furthermore, Paul states in 1 Cor 11 that “whoever eats and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning” and “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep”.

          Really? As rational man, your claim anyway, can you really claim to be rational if 1) You accept the cannibalistic ritual that Jesus orders his followers to indulge in, and 2) You believe that sin really causes illness and death? Do you really believe these Biblical “truths?” Please, do tell.

        • asmondius

          And just what was going on with the people of Israel at this point of time?

        • Greg G.

          What they happened to be doing then is irrelevant to the discussion but if you are curious, you should read Jeremiah for comprehension.

        • asmondius

          The kingdom of Israel ceases to exist for all practical purposes during this time. The first passage you cited is a complaint regarding apostate Hebrews who have taken up the practices of their conquerors. To say that this is somehow the basis for the Christian Eucharist is ludicrous.

        • Greg G.

          Justin Martyr says the Mitras cult had a similar ritual. Plutarch reports the pirates of Cilicia were Mithrans who had rituals in the first century that continued until his time and the rituals originated with them. Paul says he visited Cilicia. There is circumstantial evidence that the Eucharist could have come from there. My argument is that offering bread and wine is a ritual that predates the Mitras cult.

          Your incredulity is not evidence that all those practices were unrelated. Saying Jesus came up with it makes him seem so unoriginal.

        • asmondius

          The Eucharist was obviously established by Christ as an extension of the Jewish Passover meal. To say that Passover is somehow a copy of a Roman mystery cult is to ignore history. The Eucharist was already in place before Paul’s conversion.

        • Greg G.

          I was debating whether the 1 Corinthians 11 story came from Luke who got it from Mark or if Mark got it from 1 Corinthians. You made a good point that the ritual is not an offering but that still wouldn’t mean that it does not come from the offering rituals. I have come to the conclusion that Mark originated it.

          1 Corinthians 10:14-22 establish a pattern of an exhortation, questioning, and and answer using the same metaphor as the question.

          But we don’t get the third answer until 1 Corinthians 11:30-31 or so. (I’m on vacation and don’t have my notes.) That’s a sign of interpolation so the 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 passage is called into doubt. There is a discussion of a dinner which may have been Mark’s inspiration to combine Psalm 41:9 and Isaiah 53:12.

        • asmondius

          And oh – Justin is writing in the 2nd Century, Plutarch at the end of the 1st. The Christian Eucharist precedes both.

        • Greg G.

          Yes. Plutarch was writing of things that happened a century and a half before and says the Mitras rituals were started by them and continue to his day. Justin identifies the Eucharist ritual as being similar to the Mitras ritual. Plutarch would have no inherent bias on the matter but Justin would have a religious bias.

      • asmondius

        Methinks you should stop letting others from doing your thinking for you.

        • Greg G.

          Today’s dimming of the sun was caused by the power drain of solar-powered irony meters around the world.

        • asmondius

          It’s not the Sun that is dim here.

        • Greg G.

          The average IQ drops wherever you go.

        • asmondius

          Yes, I can see that very clearly in this forum.

        • TheNuszAbides

          yes, you’ve so obviously gone over its history with a fine-toothed comb. are you a would-be statistician?

        • wtfwjtd

          …and I think you need to open your mind to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Christianity is just another man-made religion that was cobbled together from bits and pieces of other mystery religions of its day.

        • asmondius

          As a rational person, I would need much more than just your say so. For one thing, monotheism was not exactly in vogue in the ancient world.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes,Christianity is far from monotheism. You have God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Satan, demons, angels, Mary, Saints…the list goes on and on. Yep, you are right, Christianity looks a lot like the other surrounding polytheistic religions of its day.

        • asmondius

          Ah, now I see your problem. You dislike Christianity out of simple ignorance. Let me help. The Christian God is a triune God – that is, one God with three aspects (Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit). Of the list you cobbled together, Christians only worship God. Angels are non-corporeal entitles created by God. Christians do not worship them. Satan and demons are a subset of angels. They are worshipped only by some non-Christians. Mary and the saints were just as human as you and I. They are not worshipped by Christians any more than Americans worship George Washington and Lincoln. Hope this clears it up for you in terms that you can understand.

        • 90Lew90

          Yes, that slew of utter rationality clears everything about you up nicely. Read it back to yourself and then keep a straight face and claim you’re rational again.

        • wtfwjtd

          Oh now, come on Lew, that triune God thing makes perfect sense–you know, three in one, one in three? They’re separate, but equal, like the three branches of US government. And how silly, everyone knows that Catholics don’t worship Mary, or any other saint, and the Catholic church never venerated her, or anything crazy like that. What would I do if I didn’t have these rational, oh-so-smart(ass) Christians trolling Bob’s blog to set me straight with made-up nonsense about Christianity’s made-up nonsense?

        • 90Lew90

          I know. It’s so unreasonable of me to just not get it.

        • asmondius

          Not at all.

        • asmondius

          Please specify in which part of any Christian liturgy where Mary or saint is worshipped. I’m assuming you undertook this type of research in order to arrive at your conclusion. By the way, veneration and worship are two completely different actions.

        • wtfwjtd

          Worship–”the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”

          Venerate–”verb–

          regard with great respect; revere.

          “Mother Teresa is venerated as a saint”

          synonyms:revere, regard highly, reverence, worship, hallow, hold sacred, exalt, vaunt,adore, honor, respect, esteem”

          Most English dictionaries classify “venerate” and “worship” as synonyms. You are on pretty shaky ground to claim they are “two completely different actions”.
          That said, the Catholic Church hasn’t deified Mary to my knowledge yet, although there is a strong movement within the ranks to do so. Since most Catholics pray to Mary, and the saints, on an on-going basis, this sounds suspiciously like deity worship to me. Since Christianity is clearly polytheistic–God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit–there’s nothing amiss about praying to one of the “lesser gods” of Christianity, those being the saints or Mary.
          The Trinity doctrine was a centuries-later invention in a word-game attempt to circumvent the obvious fact that Christianity is indeed polytheism. You won’t find it laid out in any original (non-interpolated) biblical passage in either the New or Old Testament.

        • asmondius

          Now you are simply engaging in semantics. Americans venerate those lost on 9-1-1, but no one is worshipping them. The Spirit is mentioned right at the beginning of Genesis, by the way. You can’t really expect Jesus to appear until after His birth.

        • 90Lew90

          “Americans venerate those lost on 9-1-1, but no one is worshipping them.”
          Different sense. Who’s playing semantics? Come on, who are you trying to kid? Catholics pray to Mary all the time, likewise the saints. Prayer is an act of worship, is it not? Doctrine on “veneration” refers to veneration of relics and places of pilgrimage.

        • asmondius

          ‘Different sense.’
          By George, you’ve got it!

        • 90Lew90

          And for tackling the argument? Nil Pwah!

        • asmondius

          There is no argument – you made assertions about Catholicism which are untrue and then attempted to make them true with mere semantics. The fact remains that Catholics practice what they believe their religion to be, not what you and a dictionary say. Prayer is a form of worship when directed at God, but prayer can also simply be a request for aid from those no longer here with us. Feel free to quote the Catholic catechism or other Catholic volume which equates a prayer to a saint with worship of God. Now you can either educate yourself and make an argument based upon those facts or continue a lost cause. It’s up to you.

        • 90Lew90

          What did I say about Catholicism that was wrong? I’ve been clear on the distinction between veneration and worship, and indeed prayer. My point is that a lot of catholics in praying to saints don’t appreciate the distinction. Now what was it that I was wrong about? I’m pretty well up on my Catholicism. Lost causes? Maybe it’s you who should be giving St Anthony a tinkle.

        • asmondius

          You made the invalid and worn-out old claim that Catholics worship Mary, saints, etc.. That’s wrong.
          Now you presume to ‘know’ what many other people are thinking as they pray.
          What’s in my pocket?

        • 90Lew90

          Show me where I said catholics “worship” Mary. I was quite clear on the distinction between veneration and worship. What I did say was that since prayer is an act of worship, to a lot of catholics not au fait with their catechism (most of them), their prayers to Mary/whoever are tantamount to worship. You may be confusing me with Mnb on this, who did get it wrong, but you can’t blame a Dutch ex-protestant for not being versed in the vagaries of Catholicism. They’re vague indeed, those catholic vagaries.

        • asmondius

          As a clarification of what Christians worship or nor worship, it is perfectly rational.

        • Pofarmer

          The Virgin Mary is most certainly worshipped, and the Saints are most certainly prayed to. The whole triune God thing is certainly not clear in any of the biblical literature, and it’s pretty clearly contradicted by the Gospels. Especially Mark. But, go ahead and keep explaining to the ignorant here.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, our wise ol’ pal asmondius here was telling me yesterday how that “venerating” someone is vastly different than “worshiping” someone. When I pointed out the dictionary definitions of these words, and showed him they were listed as synonyms, he accused me of playing word games. Go figure.

        • Pofarmer

          Catholic theology is so convoluted that they have to rely on very “precise” definitions to salvage it. Like the difference between venerating and worshiping. Or, like using the Aristotlean idea of accidents and substance to validate transunstantiation, although that idea of alchemy was dissproven 600 or so yearz ago. They are rather slow to movd on. Or, hell, on another thread he’s making sure the distinction is clear between raping pre pubescent or pubescent children.

        • TheNuszAbides

          go wrap your head around the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. then come back once you’ve caught up a bit with the subsequent centuries of philosophical and scientific inquiry, so you actually have a shot at not wasting everyone’s time. (hint: copy-pasting Plantinga won’t cut it.)

        • asmondius

          Since responding to a post is voluntary, you can only waste your own time.

        • TheNuszAbides

          actually, a few of yours even take more than a second to read; it’s not all about responding (though you can perhaps be forgiven for having no other conception of purpose here).

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          I find the trinity confusing. It’s one God, right? So that means that the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are the same entity? Unless you mean that God is a group consisting of Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit like an army is a group consisting of soldiers.

        • TheNuszAbides

          or a super-sparkling, all-powerful jewel of three facets.
          or a 3-fold moebius strip.
          don’t expect it to ever be put succinctly into scientific language by anyone who benefits from Yet Another Great And Holy Mystery. enthusiastic cheerleaders will try, of course, but it was never meant to be fully explained, and therefore can’t be. (those who claim otherwise should be extensively queried as to the particular tenets and volume of whatever sect they’ve managed to rally around whatever they fancy passes for explication of righteous/ineffable supernature.)

        • asmondius

          It is very confusing and not completely within human comprehension, but I will try to explain in my own simple way (which is not ‘official’).

          A woman may be a doting mother at home, an exacting attorney at work, and a loving daughter to her parents. Her children, parents, and colleagues each probably experience a somewhat different person, yet she is still just one single being. Three persons in one single being, you might say. I hope this helps.

        • Pofarmer

          Interesting analogy. Can one of them die to appease one of the other ones?

        • Gehennah

          So you are saying that god sent himself to the earth to sacrifice himself to himself to that he, himself is able to forgive people for not living up the the unreasonable expectations that he himself set knowing exactly what would happen to begin with?

        • 90Lew90

          “As a rational person…”. I have one thing to say to that: transubstantiation? [Tssk.]

        • asmondius

          Well, look, do you deny Christ in general or do you just have a laundry list of items that you find difficult to believe?

        • 90Lew90

          Sore spot?

        • asmondius

          You brought it up, did you not?

        • 90Lew90

          I just find it extraordinary to witness a grown adult claiming to believe all this wacknut stuff and then proudly declare himself “rational”. It’s comical. Angels and demons and relics and zombies and three really being one and vice versa. And eating a wafer you believe is *literally* the body of Christ. Call it whatever you want. Macabre springs to mind. Whatever it is it’s not rational. Believing it is not rational. That means that on this at least, you’re not rational.

        • asmondius

          Yes, I know it’s just a tad complex to comprehend at first.

        • 90Lew90

          It’s not intended to be understood. It’s supposed to be a mystery. It’s supposed to be taken on faith. And you are supposed to expect to be mocked for believing it. Don’t come trying to make out it all becomes clear if you’ll just make the effort. No, you’re instructed to take a leap of faith. Meanwhile, to anyone taking a straightforward look at it, it’s so stupid it’s insulting.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not complex to comprehend at all. It’s a vestige from before we had a better understanding of the world around us.

        • MNb

          My laundry list of items that I find not difficult, but impossible to accept is so long that I have no choice but denying christ in general.

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

          Methinks you should make an actual argument or show in clear and simple terms why someone else’s argument is flawed.

        • asmondius

          No need for an argument – we just need some simple and well known facts. Jews did not drink beer during Passover, for one thing. Price was interested in how the Eucharist possibly evolved from the social convention of the common meal. To say he simply thought the Eucharist was ‘rip-off of Dionysus ‘ is an insult to the man’s intelligence and research. Unless your friend can provide a direct quote.

  • https://anodeofranvier.wordpress.com/ Steven Rowlinson

    Sorry I’ve not had my coffee yet. I read: ‘Paul Bunyan’s overlarge feet.’
    I was confused for about five seconds then fell off my chair laughing at my own stupidity. Moral; don’t skim read.

  • asmondius

    So much effort to deny Christ – how sad. How afraid you must be in order to expend such effort avoiding what you know must be true. You remind me of a group of adolescent boys seeing a picture of a naked woman for the very first time, and each desperately trying to outdo the others by expressing his deep ‘knowledge’ of what ‘that part’ is and what it does. Thanks for the entertainment.

    • Pofarmer

      Afraid of what?

      • asmondius

        Only introspection can reveal that – give it a try.

        • MNb

          Done so. Nope – I’m not afraid, like you suggested above.

        • Pofarmer

          Ditto.

        • asmondius

          Then why do you waste so much time whistling past the graveyard?

        • Pofarmer

          Because there are so many of you out there seeking control?

        • MNb

          Is it any of your business how I prefer to waste my time and why? You confirm that Pofarmer underneath is right – you’re seeking control over me.

    • wtfwjtd

      Insults and snark with no arguments–how typically Christian of you. Too bad you don’t have a shred of credible evidence to back even the most basic assertions of your cherished Christian doctrines and dogmas. Thanks for the entertainment.

      • asmondius

        And I suppose someone who devised the clever sobriquet of ‘wtfwjtd’ expects to be treated seriously?

        • wtfwjtd

          I know you aren’t capable of treating anyone seriously who asks you for evidence to back your bold Christian claims. That’s typically Christian though–since all you got is “faith” –your belief without evidence–you just hurl insults and vindictiveness at anyone who calls you out on your Christian BS. How very Christ-like of you.

        • asmondius

          My, my – such resentment.

        • NK cell

          He’s trolling you . best ignore him …

        • asmondius

          As you so ably demonstrate.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yep, Christian trolls are common here. We get the occasional thoughtful one, but most only have insults and vacuous, dogmatic assertions while peddling their typical rubbish.

    • MNb

      I deny Christ (not Jesus though). See? Didn’t take any effort at all.

      • asmondius

        Then you may have a poor memory, as it appears you need to repeat it frequently in a public manner.

        • MNb

          Nope, I don’t need to. I denied it because you requested it in your post above – as a favour to you. Of course it’s too much to expect any gratitude from a christian like you. But still there is a small chance you actually learn something:

          “So much effort to deny Christ”
          is nonsense.

        • asmondius

          Your reasoning seems to be entirely emotional.

        • NK cell

          And yours delusional :-D

        • asmondius

          It seems to me that a delusional activity might be investing large amounts of time in blathering on about something you don’t believe.

        • 90Lew90

          Given the very great impact that religion has had and continues to have in the world, I think it would be foolish and rather ignorant not to take an interest in it.

        • asmondius

          But you don’t exhibit any interest in ‘religion’, you are simply as a group casting aspersion on a particular religion.

        • 90Lew90

          Being as this blog is called Cross Examined, and our host’s stated aim is to subject the Bible and Christianity to critical scrutiny, we’re on topic. If it seems like shooting fish in a barrel, that’s because it is. Between the board contributors there’s a good store of knowledge being exchanged, played with, picked apart, which also draws me. For what its worth, I hold the other two ugly sisters, Islam and Judaism, in just as much contempt as Christianity. They are a bane and a millstone around humanity’s neck. Everywhere they go there’s trouble. My interest in religion is deep. I’ve been at the rough end of it in more ways than one.

        • asmondius

          Why the focus on Christianity then? Other than the cleverly slick title of ‘Cross Examined’ (sounds better than ‘Islamic Interrogation’?).

        • Pofarmer

          The focus of this particular blog is christianity, although general deism sometimes comes into focus. It’s not a hard concept. Most of the posters here, including myself, were christians at one time.

        • asmondius

          This is group therapy for Buyer’s Regret?

        • MNb

          No, or I wouldn’t have been admitted. I even never have been baptized.

        • asmondius

          By design or circumstance?

        • MNb

          Both. I was in the circumstance that my parents designed my upbringing without baptism.

        • asmondius

          Interesting.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s generally a respite from assholes, where some actual scholarship can be explored, and folks can express their opinions among other like minded folks.

        • asmondius

          I’ve seen no scholarship of note here. Just another set of web cruisers repeating the same-old same-old. The crude language seems to be par for the course as well. But I understand the value of opinions and will gladly depart if I am upsetting or threatening all of you .

        • hector_jones

          No no, please don’t go. By all means, stick around and school us with your arrogance, insults and profound erudition.

        • asmondius

          Just let me know a topic I can assist with.

        • TheNuszAbides

          so, you came here after a ‘sniper’… to what, indulge in a sniping contest? substance (and even volume, at least for a while) from newcomers gets the full treatment; uninspired potshots get what they (you, so far) deserve.

        • asmondius

          Fear not – no one is looking to take your sniper crown.

        • TheNuszAbides

          no fear or crown involved.

        • TheNuszAbides

          projecting your sense of competition onto me (you truly have no idea how absurd that is) looks like great therapy. feel better! kisses!

        • 90Lew90

          Threatening? Now you’re at my funny bone again. Crude language? Sometimes people need to know the level of esteem in which they’re held. Sometimes people need to know how offensive they are, so if the odd curse word offends you, job fucking done.

        • asmondius

          I’m afraid the reflection is entirely upon the person who resorts to it.

        • Greg G.

          No, it’s only in the eye the person who considers it crude.

        • asmondius

          Like someone’s Mom?

        • 90Lew90

          Oh come on! You were accusing people of being juvenile?

        • Greg G.

          Are you a mama’s boy?

        • Pofarmer

          Threatening? Not particularly. Boring? probably. Same old mindless trope is all I’ve seen thus far. Crude language? Let me show you to my fainting couch.

        • asmondius

          Mindless seems to be in vogue.

        • Greg G.

          It looks great on you, though. < Dangerfield eyeroll>

        • TheNuszAbides

          good thing you protect whatever scholarship you would deem ‘of note’ from us swine. wouldn’t want to waste that typing time!

        • asmondius

          Thanks for backing me up with a prime example.

        • TheNuszAbides

          through your laughable mental filters, i suppose. good luck getting better at ‘assessing the motivation’.

        • 90Lew90

          The subtitle reads: ‘Clear thinking about Christianity’. The topic is Christianity, that’s why the focus is on Christianity. Maybe it’s because Christianity is the dominant religion in the US and the one which causes most trouble there. Why the stupid questions?

        • asmondius

          Just trying to assess the motivation.

        • 90Lew90

          The clue is in the title. And the subtitle. And the “About” section. Where’s that Geneva stuff?

        • MNb

          Don’t worry. A couple of times a muslim has shown up. They got the same treatment as you. Hindus and Buddhists are equally welcome.

        • asmondius

          Thanks for the insight.

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

      Got any good arguments in favor of the Christian claims? Share them.

      • asmondius

        First off, I apologize for crashing your blog. I was merely in pursuit of a sniper who unfortunately appears to be among your regulars here. And then I got a little carried away, but I do admire the fact that you are open to alternative opinions. First off, please tell me whether your disbelief includes God in general or just Christianity. There is no point in debating the latter if the former is true.

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

          Yes, I’m open to alternative ideas and corrections to my posts. I’ve seen some Christian bloggers who seem to similarly be open, though not many.

          I have no supernatural beliefs, not in Yahweh or Zeus or ghosts.

        • asmondius

          I am going to read through some of your posts and offer comments. You are free, of course, to accept or reject or ignore them as you will.

          I am curious as to why you have singled out Christianity as the premise for your blog, since you hold no supernatural beliefs at all.

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

          You don’t believe in Allah; does that mean that Islam could never be a concern to you?

        • asmondius

          I would still need a concrete reason to choose Islam as opposed to something else. Your work seems exclusively focused on Christianity.

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

          There are many problems in the world. Religion is just one, and Christianity is just one of those. Let’s get Christianity fixed and we can worry about the remaining problems later.

        • asmondius

          The problem is you refuse to reveal why your focus is on Christianity.

        • TheNuszAbides

          he’s supposed to do this on every page? your failure of imagination and/or follow-through is not a mod’s problem (not directly, anyway).

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

          Everyone understands … except perhaps you. I guess we’ll just have to soldier on without your understand this one bit of trivia.

        • TheNuszAbides

          sadly for you, there can be a point even if you are unaware of it. (in other circumstances, quite the convenient position for a theist to take.)


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