How Conversations Go with My Kids

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.

  • Thomas Tucker

    Wait a minute, you mean you actually read BOOKS?

  • Mark R

    Intellectual life was somwhat vibrant in the couple centuries before and after Christ, what with devout Jews producing what would later be collated as the Talmud, Sadducees and sectarian Jews producing what would be the Dead Sea Scrolls, lots and lots of Hellenized Jews doing the Hellenic thing.

  • The Deuce

    Here’s something to add to Mark’s article on St. John’s authorship of his Gospel:

    It’s truly amazing that anyone actually denies this, when the evidence is utterly overwhelming and there is really none against it. I think what it comes down to is, if the Gospel Of John is what it appears to be, then Christianity is true, so people who don’t want Christianity to be true have to come up with something (anything!) else to account for it, no matter how implausible the conspiracy theory needed to explain it away.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    I’ve always been struck by the fact that of the four canonical gospels, the Church only picked one by a Big Name Apostle. Surely, if they had been fabricated, they would have gone for the Gospel of Peter, or of Mary the BVM, or of James. Peter, John, and James were the big three. Instead we get Matthew? Who he? And Luke and Mark, the Nobodies of Theology.

    I also read Bauckham’s book and found it an excellent read.

  • Ben @ Two Men

    My ten year old son is getting “smart” like this.
    I say, “Stop touching your sister!”
    He says, “I didn’t touch her”
    I say, “I just saw you.”
    He says, “I touched her shirt; she just happens to be inside of it.”
    Pray for me.

    • Dr. Eric

      I’m about to touch your jeans with a paddle, you butt will just happen to be inside of them.

    • Gilbert

      >>>He says, “I touched her shirt; she just happens to be inside of it.”
      >>>Pray for me.

      Have you considered spanking his pants (while he just happens to be inside them)?

      • Ben @ Two Men

        Good one Gilbert & Dr. Eric! I still need prayers for patience. No one pushes my buttons like my kids; maybe its Gods way of showing us how we treat Him sometimes.

  • Loud

    The Gospel of Mark was written down by Mark, but many think it was dictated by Peter….
    Hey, dose anyone know if that has been proven or disproven?

    • Mark Shea

      Bauckham argues that Peter is the quite obviously the source of Mark’s information. But Mark is the author, not a secretary taking dictation. Still, the information is quite plainly coming from Peter’s mouth, supplemented by additional traditions from other sources.

  • Claire M.

    Wow I love this post. Love it. Reposting it to FB now. :) I love the logical argument! :)

  • Sheila Harding

    I’m sure you’d want to attribute the cartoon appropriately…

    Credit where it’s due, and all.