Ever since they took those stupid logic classes there’s been no living with them.
On the other hand, this sort of reasoning has always seemed to me to be rather, well, reasonable when people tell me that the entire witness of the gospels and the New Testament is worthless because people back then were 2000 years dumber than a population suckled on Jersey Shore. The impression I get when I read the New Testament is not of a pack of clearly delusional liars, but of normal people reporting something extraordinary that happened to them–personally and right in front of their faces, not in cloud cuckoo land. I think it’s smarter to assume that when the witnesses give largely unanimous accounts of the same events, with only the sort of variation you expect from eyewitnesses, something rather than nothing happened. And the something does seem to look uncommonly like what they say happened.
I’m reading a terrific book called Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, in which Richard Bauckham really nails down the powerful and impressive evidence that the gospels are, in fact, the eyewitness accounts of people who saw and heard the events of Jesus’ life and are not the anonymously reworked yarns of “faith communities” cooked up decades afterward in order to meet the weird psychological needs of people who never saw or heard Jesus. I’ve been aware for a long time, through my own studies of the texts that the internal evidence for this is pretty powerful, but Bauckham goes much further in pinning that down. I can no longer take seriously at all the dunces who say that Jesus never existed or who try to reduce the gospels to myths or mere folk tales. The longer I read them, the more obviously they are clearly a kind of theologized memoir, primarily dependent on the testimony of the apostles and supplemented by the witness of various other figures in the early Palestinian Church. That’s why we get figures such as Jairus or Bartimaeus named in the gospels: because they are the source of that particular story. The gospels are, in fact, very obedient to the conventions of ancient Greco-Roman history and not at all obedient to the conventions of folk tales. If you want to have an awful lot of contemporary twaddle in New Testament media blather blown away, check out Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.