Thomas Paraphrased

Chris Tilling shared his own translation of John 20:25:

And Thomas said unto them, “Pics or it didn’t happen.”

What do you think? Does this preserve the gist of the text while expressing it in a modern idiom?

See my earlier post on this common expression for more on this topic.

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  • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

    I’m not a fan of the expression; it over simplifies the nature of evidence and observation.

    But it isn’t nearly as dubious as Jesus’ expression in John 20:

    “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”

  • Realist1234

    ‘And Thomas said unto them, “Pics or it didn’t happen.”‘

    No thats not a sufficient modern take. Photos and videos can easily be manipulated as has been shown time and time again.

    No, Thomas needed to physically meet the risen Jesus before he would believe He was physically resurrected from the dead, and that is still the equivalent even today. I have no doubt that because all of the apostles and many early disciples actually met the resurrected Jesus in person (and likely spoke with Him) explains the strength of their faith and why the early church became so fruitful – they couldn’t not talk about what they had witnessed.

    • John MacDonald

      Maybe the example of Thomas was invented by the Gospel writer as a tool to encourage and solidify the reader in their faith in Jesus’ resurrection?

      • Realist1234

        Except without the resurrection of Jesus there is no viable explanation for the birth of the church or the strength of the faith of its first disciples. If jesus’ life really did end with His death, there would be no church. History says otherwise

        • Erp

          A better statement might be a belief in the resurrection of Jesus; however, such beliefs aren’t necessarily accurate. Grief caused hallucinations are known to happen.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            Not to mention dreams, group visions of the Virgin Mary, and charismatic religious events, just to name a few possibilities.

          • Realist1234

            ‘Known to happen’ in some circumstances does not mean this was such a case. Numerous individuals attested to the fact of the resurrection, both on their own and in varying sizes of groups, and not just once but a number of times, in different locations over a very specific 40 day period. And they did not claim to have simply ‘seen’ Him, but actually spoke with Him and in at least Thomas’ case physically touched Him, and on one occasion He cooked them breakfast! It all speaks of physical reality.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            Actually, we only have the writing of one person, the apostle Paul, who claimed to see Jesus resurrected, and that alleged appearance was a vision of Jesus in heaven.

            Every single other claim of “seeing Jesus” is hearsay, and usually (in the case of the gospels) from completely anonymous writers, a generation after the supposed events took place.

            There are, quite literally, no eyewitness records of Jesus’ bodily resurrection.

          • John MacDonald

            We also have the pre-Pauline Corinthian Creed, which Paul quotes, that identifies resurrection appearances to Cephas and the 12.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            The “creed” (whatever that means) is not an eyewitness. It is a claim of eyewitnesses.

          • John MacDonald

            But Paul met with Peter for 2 weeks, so he would have been able to confirm with Peter what Peter alleges happened.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            There is a word for that. It’s called hearsay.

            Even if you find Paul credible, then all we know is that Peter told Paul that Jesus “appeared” to him. Paul makes that statement side by side with his own Jesus “appearance”. We have know idea what Peter’s “appearance” consisted of, but we know that Paul’s was a “vision”.

          • John MacDonald

            Paul knew Peter and Peter knew the twelve, so we have 14 people claiming witnessing the risen Jesus (whatever form that appearance may have taken). Whether these early accounts were lies or hallucinations or whatever, we have 14 early accounts of the risen Jesus.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            No. We have one man claiming that another man claimed that 11 other men claimed that Jesus “appeared” to them.

            We don’t have 14 accounts. We have one account of a vision, and then a bit of vague hearsay.

            People can judge Paul’s credibility (to a very small extent) by reading the letters legitimately attributed to him. But given, that Peter’s letters are forgeries, we have nothing by which to judge Peter’s credibility.

          • John MacDonald

            You seem to be being a little hyper-skeptical here. lol

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            Just stating the facts. We do not have a single written account by a witness to a bodily resurrection. We have one account by a witness to a vision “appearance”, who also passes on a bit of hearsay about other vague “appearances”.

          • John MacDonald

            You don’t believe Cephas and the twelve were claiming to have seen the risen Jesus? They may have been hallucinating, and they may have been lying, but I think it’s pretty solid history to believe they were claiming it.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            When it comes to the earliest history of Christianity, there is very little that I would call “solid history”. (Incidentally, weren’t you claiming Peter twice in your “14”. He was one of the “12”; that makes 13 with Paul.)

            All we can surmise is that, if Paul is credible, he knew at least one apostle claiming a Jesus “appearance” and heard 2nd and 3rd hand about other “appearance” tales. It’s impossible to trace what each individual member of the original 12 was going around claiming.

            Just look at the eight “witnesses” of the Mormon golden plates, listed by name in the book of Mormon. Some of these eight died early in the movement. Most of the rest became estranged from Joseph Smith and were excommunicated.

          • John MacDonald

            I’m not sure that Cephas was one of the twelve, because Paul quotes the Corinthian creed saying “He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

            You wrote ” It’s impossible to trace what each individual member of the original 12 was going around claiming.”

            I don’t think it’s impossible at all. Paul knew Peter, so he knew what Peter’s account was, and Peter would have been able to reliably tell to Paul what his twelve friends were claiming.

            These all might be lies, or accounts of hallucinations, but Paul probably had pretty reliable accounts of what Peter and the 12 thought of the appearances of the risen Jesus.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            That’s a new one to me. I’ve never heard anyone argue that there were 13 apostles.

            And no. There is a claim (second hand from Paul), that the 12 experienced an “appearance”, which could be anything from individual dreams, to ecstactic worship events (like modern pentacostals), to Jesus standing in front of them with holes in his body. Who knows what an “appearance is.

            But what the apostles were individually claiming or preaching, we don’t know. The “eight witnesses” of the Mormon faith are still pictured on the cover of many Books of Mormon, although many of them left the faith.

          • John MacDonald

            But still we have 14 claims that they had “experienced” the risen Jesus, even if these experiences ranged from , as you say, “individual dreams, to ecstactic worship events (like modern pentacostals), to Jesus standing in front of them with holes in his body.” We don’t know what these appearances were, or if they were even being honest, but there were 14 claims that Jesus had manifested himself (in whatever manner that may have taken).

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            Nope.

            Not only do we not have “14 accounts”; we don’t even have “14 claims”. We have one second hand report of 14 claims.

            For all we know, the original disciples were involved in an ecstatic charismatic moment of worship, in which Peter received a number of “amens” as he called for them to let open their hearts and “see” Jesus, or “experience” Jesus. I’ve heard Pentacostal preachers make outlandish claims based on less.

          • John MacDonald

            Except that Paul records Jesus appeared to Cephas first, then the twelve, implying Cephas wasn’t getting the “experience” of the manifested Jesus at the same time as the twelve were.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            Paul tells us that he met Peter, but we do not have a record of what Peter told him about any appearances. Scholars believe that the “creed” is not something Paul “reported” from experience, but rather something he quoted from other sources.

            Most scholars think that the first part of the “creed” was already established by the time Paul met with Peter. Paul didn’t need to prove anything to himself; by the time he met Peter, he was already committed to Christianity with his own visionary experience (in fact, he repeatedly insists on this in the epistles). He could easily have taken the individual points of the “creed” for granted.

            Paul had other issues to discuss with Peter; primarily the Greek Churches and requirements regarding circumcision and food offered to idols.

            You can imagine, if you like, that he sat around while Peter regaled him with the particulars of each individual “appearance” – but that’s all it would be – your imagination.

          • John MacDonald

            So you think that in his two weeks with Cephas, Paul only talked about the Greek Churches and requirements regarding circumcision and food offered to idols? You don’t think Paul would have been fascinated to learn a first hand account of the details about Cephas’ experience of the risen Jesus, and that of the 12?

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            Paul spent two weeks in Jerusalem with a number of agendas. There is no indication that he spent the entire time with Cephas; we don’t even know how formal/informal that relationship was.

            If he had heard a fascinating first hand account of the details of each apostles’ experience, it’s awfully strange that he never shares any of those details. All he repeats to his readers are the vague words of a “creed” he didn’t write.

            You can imagine all sorts of conversations that might have happened while he was in Jerusalem. But you can’t assert as “solid history” what can only be imagined.

          • John MacDonald

            Paul seems to want to emphasize that his source is directly from Christ, not other humans, so it would be odd if Paul would go on a tangent and relate Peter’s tale of the risen Christ. Paul stated, “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). Later he offers evidence by pointing out that he didn’t meet with anyone to learn the gospel. “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus” (Galatians 1:15-17).

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            Exactly.

            He didn’t need details of other appearances to buttress his faith. He didn’t even seem to think any one else needed them either, other than what was stated in the “creed”.

          • John MacDonald

            Paul would have had reason in his letters to stay away from exploring the resurrection appearance Peter had (since he went to such trouble to argue his knowledge of the gospel came directly from Jesus), but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t have been of great interest to him personally – If you think the ancients didn’t love gossip, you didn’t read “The 12 Caesars” very closely lol.

            In 1 Corinthians Paul claimed he was an apostle in every sense that Cephas and the “other apostles” were. Paul claimed equal authoritative status with those he elsewhere appears to call the Twelve:

            “Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? (I Cor.9:1-5)”

            He seems to be saying here that the other apostles saw the risen Christ as he had, because Paul seems to think this is a requirement of being an apostle. This would agree with the Corinthian Creed.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            Again, you can suppose all sorts of things that Paul “would have” done, and you may be right about some of them, but you still can’t mistake supposition for “solid history”.

            Yes, Paul is arguing that he has the same authority as other apostles, but why do you say he “seems to be saying here that the other apostles saw the risen Christ as he had”. No he doesn’t! That’s no paraphrase! He says nothing of the kind in this paragraph! You might make that argument from the “creed”, but not this quotation.

            Look, you could make all sorts of conjectures about what Paul said or did with the other apostles, and some conjectures might be more plausible than others. My point is that they are conjectures.

            It’s fine to say “it’s plausible that Paul heard from each apostle about the appearances they experienced.” You could even say (though you’d have to have better evidence) “it’s likely that Paul heard from each apostle about the appearances they experienced.”

            But you can’t say “we have 14 early accounts of the risen Jesus”. That’s just false. Not even partly true; not debatable. Plainly false.

          • John MacDonald

            You seem to be arguing the hyper-skeptical position that historical reconstruction can only rely on eye witness testimony?

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            There’s nothing hyper-skeptical about separating what can be known from what can only be conjectured.

            You claimed that “we have 14 early accounts of the risen Jesus”.

            Sorry, but that is completely false. We only have one account of a vision of Jesus. He claims that others had similar experiences, but we don’t have the “accounts” of the others.

            I’m not saying people didn’t “experience the risen Jesus” (whatever that means); I’m just saying we can only make conjectures about what some people may have experienced based on what one person said based on second hand reports. We certainly don’t have the “accounts” of anyone but Paul.

          • Realist1234

            The Gospels are based on eyewitness testimony, with Mark and Luke written before AD 64, within 30 years of the events and whilst said eyewitnesses were mostly still alive. Not what I would call ‘hearsay’. And of course, as Luke himself says, there were other writings about the events of Jesus’ life already in existence before he put pen to papyrus.

            As for ‘anonymous writers’ that is another myth with no manuscript evidence to support it.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            The vast majority of scholars will tell you that Mark was written around 70AD and that Matthew and Luke followed in the 80s or 90s.

            Your notion that it is based on “eyewitness” testimony is pure supposition, especially given the numerous contradictions between the gospels. And, yep, Luke certainly did know of “other writings” given that a whopping 41% of Luke is verbatim from Mark and 23% is verbatim from Matthew. And even though they were copying from each other, they still contradicted each other!

            The anonymity of the gospels is hardly a myth, it’s basic scholarship. Outside of the appellations “The gospel according to …”, the authors never identify themselves in the text itself. In fact, much of the text would make no sense written by the named authors. (And why would the apostle Matthew need to copy verbatim the words of the later convert Mark?)

          • John MacDonald

            “And, yep, Luke certainly did know of “other writings” given that whopping 41% of Luke is verbatim from Mark and 23% is verbatim from Matthew.”

            So you think Luke copied Matthew, and there was no “Q” source? Bit of a maverick position, wouldn’t you say? lol

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            Not particularly maverick, there are plenty of scholars like Mark Goodacre who doubt the existence of Q.

            But add Q if you like. Just one more collection of anonymous sayings being bandied about. Do any of these sayings trace back to Jesus? Which ones?

          • John MacDonald

            Q1 just reflects sayings that have a common cynical tang to them. There is no reason to think they go back to a single sage, let alone the historical Jesus.

          • Realist1234

            A significant number of scholars disagree, with only John’s Gospel being dated to the AD 90s (the majority of scholars used to believe John was written mid to end 2nd century, until a fragment copy was discovered in Egypt, dating to around AD 120, placing the original likely in the 90s).

            I disagree that the Gospels as eyewitness testimony is ‘supposition’. You should read Richard Bauckham’s ‘Jesus and the Eyewitnesses’ for example (an updated version is due out later this year). You do not have to agree with everything Bauckham says to accept he makes a strong case.

            Yes, it seems Luke used both Mark’s and likely Matthew’s writings (though some scholars would disagree). If Luke believed both these sources were trust-worthy, why wouldnt he use them? But you seem to assume they were the only writings available. I doubt if they were, but I cant prove that view. Whilst there was a very strong oral tradition in 1st century Judaism between rabbi and pupil, I find it rather strange that noone following this great rabbi Jesus would have written down anything He was teaching. Although the general view given my doubters is that His disciples (I dont just mean ‘the Twelve’) were illiterate, that is hardly true. I strongly suspect some writings were made at the time or shortly thereafter, but these are no longer extant, or simply havent been found yet (probably the former). So when Luke says he was aware of other writings about Jesus, we can’t assume he was only referring to Mark’s or Matthew’s work. And of course in each Gospel there are parts unique to that Gospel.

            As for anonymity, we have extant manuscripts going back to the 2nd century with the words ‘The Gospel according to…’. But zero manuscript evidence for ‘anonymous’ Gospels. I wouldn’t expect to see the author’s signature on such an ancient writing. But it seems the early church were fully aware who wrote each Gospel, and therefore were not anonymous. If youre interested, Brant Pitre has written an excellent chapter in his book ‘The Case for Jesus’ on this, in which he pretty well demolishes the anonymous view as the likes of Bart Ehrman continue to perpetuate (Pitre was a former student of Ehrman). Re Matthew, although he could have been the apostle Matthew, I wouldnt insist on that, but ‘Matthew’ was still known to the early church members as the author of his Gospel.

          • Neko

            I read on Google Books available preview pages of Catholic apologist Brant Pitre’s chapter on the anonymity of the gospels, and let’s just say “demolishes” seems a tad overwrought. Pitre’s tone and hypotheticals don’t inspire confidence, and indeed the first thing I checked out–the entries for “2nd century” gospel manuscripts/fragments in a chart entitled “THE MANUSCRIPT EVIDENCE: NO ANONYMOUS GOSPELS”– confirmed my suspicions.

            Papyrus 4: late 2nd-early 3rd
            Papyrus 62: 4th century (!)
            Papyrus 75: late 2nd-early 3rd

            Even if Pitre hadn’t glossed or hopped over the date ranges, the earliest reference is from the late 2nd century, that is, after the gospels are said to have acquired titles.

            While Pitre outlines the theory of anonymity According to Bart Ehrman, he doesn’t present the reasoning or arguments behind it. Instead he launches into a rebuttal based on the manuscript evidence already mentioned and the “eyewitnesses.” (At that point the preview ends.)

            First impression of this “demolition” job: meh.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Here is a link to a review of Pitre’s book that I wrote a while back: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2016/02/brant-pitre-the-case-for-jesus.html

          • John MacDonald

            Some posit that the demons recognizing Jesus speaks to a high Christology (Mark 1:34)

          • John MacDonald

            Although Jesus didn’t become an object of worship until his exaltation by God.

          • Realist1234

            Indeed, even the demons know who Jesus is, unlike many humans it seems.

          • Neko

            Thank you for the link, I enjoyed reading your review a lot more that Pitre’s preview.

            As I mentioned I was put off by Pitre’s tone and tendentiousness, and if I wanted to read an apology for the divinity of Christ I’d look elsewhere. (Always so quick to judge!) But your (gracious) review suggests I may be missing something intriguing. :)

          • Realist1234

            Decent review, though I strongly disagree with your conclusion that the Gospels (and the rest of the NT) do not show Jesus to be divine, or that He believed Himself to be divine.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Lots of people disagree, so I think the obvious question to ask is, on what grounds do you disagree?

          • Realist1234

            In summary, when you compare the character, attributes, actions and abilities of Yahweh in the OT, they are reflected again in Jesus in the NT. Yet both O & N Ts confirm a single God, hence why the understanding of the Trinity developed.

          • John MacDonald

            Then why does Mark portray Jesus as a fallible human prophet who couldn’t perform miracles in his home town? :

            “4Then Jesus told them, ‘A prophet is without honor only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own household.’ 5So He could not perform any miracles there, except to lay His hands on a few of the sick and heal them.” Mark 6:4-5″

          • Realist1234

            You understand that as meaning Jesus was unable to perform miracles because of weakness on Jesus’ part. I think it means, as Jesus’ words imply, there was a definite lack of belief in Him from the people, so few actually came forward for healing. And His other words implied that sometimes faith was a factor in miracles, so that fact there was little faith meant few miracles. I am therefore not surprised He performed few miracles.

          • John MacDonald

            You think Jesus is God. So does this mean God only has power among the die-hard believers?

          • Realist1234

            No, you dont have to be a ‘die-hard believer’ to have the faith the size of a mustard seed (tiny).

          • John MacDonald

            So, you are still arguing God is impotent unless you have some small amount of faith?

          • Realist1234

            No, not at all. It seems to me that God does not use His power willy-nilly. If people are not interested (by not showing any faith (trust in Him)), why would He show His power? Basically what you’re arguing is that people can have the attitude: I don’t have time for you or what you’re saying, but I expect you to perform for me. That is the height of human arrogance.

          • John MacDonald

            But it doesn’t say Jesus “chose” to do no miracles in his home town, it says Jesus “couldn’t” do miracles in his home town (Mark 6:5).

            I think your position leads to a reductio ad absurdum. Socrates used to use this method of asking leading question until his interviewer’s viewpoint is reduced to an impossibility.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Right. The point is not whether healers mediate supernatural power, but the demonstrable fact that people experience psychosomatic healing in contact with people that have the reputation of being healers. And so it makes no sense to talk about “fraud” in this case, when it is entirely plausible and reasonable that Jesus believed that such people experienced healing as a result of divine power that was at work through him.

          • John MacDonald

            I think you posted this in the wrong spot. The comment you were responding to is further down the page. lol

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Oops, you’re right! Sorry!

          • Realist1234

            Do you really put all of the healings by Jesus in the category of ‘psychosomatic’? I find that implausible.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Obviously if it were possible to assume or even to conclude that all the miracle stories in the New Testament were precise factual depictions of what happened, then it would indeed be implausible to treat the healings as all psychosomatic.

            But that is obviously not something that one can conclude, or simply assume and expect others to share the assumption.

          • Realist1234

            He ‘couldn’t’ do them precisely because people did not come forward for healing due to their lack of any faith. In Matthew’s equivalent passage, he simply says Jesus did not do many miracles. Taken together, I think Im right in my understanding.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            It isn’t clear what you mean by “right,” since your understanding seems to ignore the fact that Matthew rewrote Mark at this point precisely because of the author’s discomfort with what he found in his source.

          • Realist1234

            Except you dont know if Matthew suffered ‘discomfort’ so that is hardly a ‘fact’, more a presumption on your part. I would argue he is simply summarising Mark’s account of the episode.

          • John MacDonald

            Matthew changes Mark’s characterization from Jesus could not do “any miracles,” to Jesus could not do “many miracles.” Matthew is deliberately changing the sense of Mark because of what it suggests about Jesus. Matthew envisions Jesus as “The New And Greater Moses,” and so presents Jesus with significant theological clout.

          • Realist1234

            Or Matthew considers direct physical healing as a miracle just like any other.

          • John MacDonald

            Mark feels Jesus could do no miracles in his home town, which is why he contrasts “miracles” with “laying on hands.”

          • John MacDonald

            The sense of the passage isn’t that Jesus couldn’t do great miracles because no one was there. Mark contrasts “miracles,” with simplistic “laying of hands,” which Jesus could do. Jesus couldn’t do great miracles for the people in his home town. This makes sense if Jesus was just a fallible human prophet, but not if Jesus is God. “Couldn’t” refers to Jesus’ abilities, not to a lack of people coming forward. Matthew is irrelevant here because Mark is Matthew’s source for the story.

          • John MacDonald

            You present a Jesus who is a bit of an amoral monster who lacks historical verisimilitude:

            (1). You think Jesus couldn’t do miracles in his home town because no one came forward. Don’t you think that Jesus, once he got to his home town, if he cared about people, would have immediately got information from his family about who in the community was in dire need of a miracle and would have gone to these people and asked if he could help? Surely these desperate people would have at least let Jesus try to do a miracle? It is far more likely than your account that Jesus “couldn’t” do miracles because no one showed up, that Mark had primitive accounts of people complaining that Jesus couldn’t perform miracles, and included this in Mark 6:5 and explained it away as something that occurs to most prophets: “Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is without honor only in his hometown, among his relatives, and in his own household (Mark 6:4).”

            (2) Jesus wouldn’t have faulted people for not believing if he didn’t perform miracles, since many people need to see miracles in order to believe. We see this with Elijah, and with Jesus’ portrayal in the wine miracle in the Gospel of John. Consider the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17:8-24 LXX. The widow of Zarephath, whose son has just died, upbraids the prophet: “What have I to do with you, O man of God?” (Ti emoi kai soi, 17:18). John has transferred this brusque address to the mouth of Jesus, rebuking his mother (2:4, Ti emoi kai soi, gunai). Jesus and Elijah both tell people in need of provisions to take empty pitchers (udria in 1 Kings 17:12, udriai in John 2:6-7), from which sustenance miraculously emerges. And just as this feat causes the woman to declare her faith in Elijah (“I know that you are a man of God,” v. 24), so does Jesus’ wine miracle cause his disciples to put their faith in him (v. 11).

          • Neko

            Or, Jesus was a faith healer, and faith healing depends on the afflicted’s faith in the healer.

            Certain eastern healing practices tap into compassion of the healer for the afflicted.

          • John MacDonald

            Jesus’ family knew there was nothing particularly “miraculous” about him (having been around him all his life), so they didn’t come to him for miracles.

          • John MacDonald

            It makes you wonder why everyone else thought Jesus was such a miraculous faith healer, when his family, who knew him his whole life, knew that he was nothing special?

          • John MacDonald

            Perhaps Jesus was just a sham faith healer, just like every other faith healer in history.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Couldn’t he just be a person through whom some people experienced healing on some occasions, just like every other faith healer in history?

          • John MacDonald

            Certainly, he could have. On the other hand, there is no such thing as a faith healer healing such things as regrowing an amputated leg, or curing leprosy. It’s perfectly reasonable to suppose that a charismatic healer was a fraud, although they might have been genuine. Who knows?

          • John MacDonald

            I guess the question is whether the healing stories about Jesus were just legendary embellishment, or whether Jesus was more like the faith healer Steve Martin played in “Leap of Faith,” duping the masses? :

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkMqRDBKUwM

            Maybe the faith healings of Jesus were all a show to help disseminate, and lend clout to, Jesus ethical message?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            As your analogy points out, and as evidence from the Gospels as well as other sources confirms, experiencing healing has nothing to do with whether the faith healer believes that they are capable of mediating divine power, or is conscious of being a fraud. And so it would seem best to keep those matters separate in this instance as well.

          • John MacDonald

            I don’t think historical inquiry can lead us to the answer of whether Jesus was a fraud, or honest. This line of questioning is just psychologizing.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            That is exactly what you would expect to be the case of a supreme agent within the context of a monotheistic religious framework, and it is precisely what we see in relation to supreme agent figures in the case of other Jewish literature. And so it seems problematic to suggest that in the case of early Christian literature alone this way of making sense of the literature does not apply.

          • Paul E.

            In addition, it seems a fair leap when Jesus never explicitly makes the claim, or was it made on his behalf, in Mark, Matthew or Luke.

          • John MacDonald

            And given Jewish Monotheism, you would think the author would need to make it pretty explicit if the reader was supposed to understand that Jesus was God.

          • Realist1234

            You seem to reject Jesus as Divine. Perhaps you could explain who you think He is?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            The Gospels in the New Testament depict Jesus as one whom God appointed, infused with divine power, and ultimately exalted, one who related to God as a son to a father. I take it that you do not mean any of those things when you say “divine” and so perhaps you could clarify in what sense you are using the term? What do you make of David Litwa’s case for the appropriateness of the term “divinized” in instances such as this?

          • Realist1234

            If you mean by ‘divinized’ as ‘a human being could participate in divinity so as to truly enter into the category of god/divine being’, then no it is hardly appropriate to Jesus, given the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament teaching. I assume your view is similar to Litwa’s.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            It doesn’t sound as though you know what Litwa’s view is, or what the evidence is for it.

            But sticking to the New Testament, Jesus is given all authority in heaven and earth by the one God. He is exalted to the right hand of the one God, and the one God bestows the divine name upon him. What term do you think best denotes what is depicted in these texts?

          • John MacDonald

            Would it be helpful to think of the art piece “The Apotheosis of Washington?” The Apotheosis of Washington depicts George Washington sitting amongst the heavens in an exalted manner, or in literal terms, ascending and becoming a god (apotheosis). The Apotheosis of Washington is the fresco painted by Greek-Italian artist Constantino Brumidi in 1865 and is visible through the oculus of the dome in the rotunda of the United States Capitol Building.

          • John MacDonald

            If the “Trinity” is the best explanation of the Jesus/God dynamic, what do you make of Jesus’ desperate prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark begging God to change His plan and release Jesus from his task of (a) suffering, or (b) dying (depending on how you read it)? Isn’t this an odd pericope if Jesus and The Father are ONE?

          • Realist1234

            Pl dont ask me to explain the Trinity! If you havent seen ‘Nuns on the Run’, Id recommend it for a hilarious explanation.

            All I would say is although God is one, yet there are 3 ‘persons’ within that same God, each having a relationship with the other. The ‘Son’ by definition, has a sonship role, obeying the Father, in love. It should also not be forgotten that the Son in Jesus is a human being, with a particular role to fulfill while on earth. I see no difficulty in Jesus, the Son, knowing the physical, mental and spiritual suffering to come asking for the Father ‘if there is another way…’. But Jesus knows, as does the Father, that there is no other way, as His obedience shows.

            Probably not a very good explanation.

          • John MacDonald

            If each individual is so different, in what sense are they “One?”

          • Realist1234

            The same Being. In discussing this in another blog, one atheist said 1+1+1 does not = 1. I suggested the relationship is more 1x1x1=1 . Or does that make it worse?!

          • John MacDonald

            Realist1234 said: “The same Being.”

            (A) What do you mean by “Being?”

            (B) In what way are the three individuals of the “Trinity” all the same “Being.” What traits to they share with one another?

            (C) I’m not sure what you mean with your math example. You say the 3 members of the Trinity are understood as 1X1X1=1. In multiplication, for instance, 3X5 = 15 means we have 3 groups with 5 in each group, for a total of 15 individuals. 1X1 means we have 1 group, with one in the group. I don’t see how this has anything to do with explaining the Trinity. Please clarify …

          • Neko

            John: here you go, straight from the magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church!

            The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and of Christian life. God alone can make it known to us by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

            262 The Incarnation of God’s Son reveals that God is the eternal Father and that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God.

            263 The mission of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of the Son (Jn 14:26) and by the Son “from the Father” (Jn 15:26), reveals that, with them, the Spirit is one and the same God. “With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified” (Nicene Creed).

            264 “The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as the first principle and, by the eternal gift of this to the Son, from the communion of both the Father and the Son” (St. Augustine, De Trin. 15, 26, 47: PL 42, 1095).

            tl;rd

            It’s a mystery.

          • John MacDonald

            (A) “God is the eternal Father and that the Son is consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and with the Father the Son is one and the same God”

            – What does it “mean” to say the Son is one and the same as the Father?

            (B) “263 The mission of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of the Son (Jn 14:26) and by the Son “from the Father” (Jn 15:26), reveals that, with them, the Spirit is one and the same God.”

            – What does it “mean” to say the Holy Spirit is one and the same as God?

            Your citation states “that” the Trinity is the answer, but not what it “means” for the 3 individuals to be consubstantial with one another?

            Their answer pertains to the “existentia (existential – ‘that being’),” but not the “essentia (essential – ‘what being’).”

            The Catholic’s answer is certainly “CON”substantial. lol

          • Neko

            Dammit, John, you compelled me to dig up the arcana on “consubstantiality.” Geza Vermes proposed that the heretic Arius introduced the term homoousios (of one substance or essence) to the Christological debates attending Nicaea only to immediately reject it as inapt. In what would have been one of the most momentous acts of appropriation in history, the anti-Arians incorporated the term into the Nicene Creed. It affirmed Christ’s divinity, but as Vermes points out, conceivably left some latitude to the Arians who believed Christ was created by the Father and therefore had not co-existed with the Almighty for all time.

            Vermes goes on to say that Constantine strong armed the bishops at Nicaea into accepting the formulation. Thus a timeless truth of the Catholic Church was established by coercion.

            Btw the Holy Spirit is also homoousios with the Father.

          • John MacDonald

            lol
            Since time immemorial people have used convoluted, esoteric language when they get to a point in their ratiocinations where they really don’t have a clear idea of what they are talking about (such as the consubstantiality of The Father, Son, And Holy Spirit). It’s interesting that Catholics can be meticulous scholars of everything else about their faith, but when asked about the meaning of the Trinity they are comfortable in saying it is a “mystery.” “Mystery is a code word people use when they don’t understand something. It takes an outsider to point out the emperor has no clothes. As I said, the desperate prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane makes nonsense of the Trinity, regardless of what textual contortions one’s Catholic Concordance might try.

          • Neko

            There are many mysteries in the Catholic faith. In fact, “CHRIST’S WHOLE LIFE IS MYSTERY”:

            http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a3p3.htm

          • John MacDonald

            The Catechism states:

            “Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross,179 but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life:
            – already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty;180
            – in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience;181
            – in his word which purifies its hearers;182
            – in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”;183
            – and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.184″

            Wouldn’t you say, Neko, that “Redemption” is not really a “mystery” if the Catechism is describing exactly how it works?

            What is the definition of “mystery” in this work that you cite?

          • John MacDonald

            If I told you I had come up with a new Political Philosophy, and I wanted you to adopt it, would it be a good selling point if I said my Political Philosophy is “mostly a mystery?” Makes you wonder how Catholicism ever got off the ground? lol

          • Neko

            Huh? It’s religion!

          • John MacDonald

            I was making a joke with an analogy. lol – if religion was like politics …

          • John MacDonald

            I could tell you that I can imagine a “square circle triangle” image. If you ask me to describe it, I could say the square is consubstantial with the circle and the triangle. Not understanding what that means, you could ask me to draw it …

          • John MacDonald

            Which, of course, I couldn’t, because squares and circles and triangles are too different in their respective essences for me to be able to draw a single “square circle triangle” figure. By analogy, since The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit are so unique, it is meaningless to say that these 3 unique entities are also somehow “consubstantial,” as the desperate Gethsemane prayer illustrates.

          • Realist1234

            Not sure why you label Pitre a ‘Catholic apologist’. I would have just called him a scholar. Are you showing your bias?

          • Neko

            Do you deny Pitre is a Catholic apologist?

          • Realist1234

            Do you deny he is a scholar?

            Or if I quoted another scholar who was Protestant, would you have labelled him/her a ‘Protestant apologist’? I think not.

          • Neko

            Obviously Christian scholars aren’t necessarily apologists, but some are. I think it’s fair to say Pitre is an apologist. After all, his book concerns the divinity of Christ, and as a Catholic Pitre confesses the divinity of Christ.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            Whatever a “significant number of biblical” scholars” say, the majority agree with the date ranges I cited. They’re not that far off from your ranges anyway: as I said, a generation after the events, especially when you consider the short life expectancies of the time.

            I’ve read Bauckham, along with less religiously biased scholars. “Supposition” is exactly the right word.

            Sure, Luke used Mark and likely Matthew. Matthew used Mark as well, which begs the question why an apostle of Jesus would need to copy his bio from someone who never met him.

            “You wouldn’t expect to see the author’s signature on such ancient writing”?! Really? Why not? We have Paul’s signature on much earlier writings. We have numerous histories written by Greek and Roman writers with signatures dating in the same period and long before. We have Jewish writers like Josephus and Philo who signed their work. Clearly, there are plenty of ancient writers who don’t meet your expectations.

            And now you’ve hit on it in your final sentence. Matthew is obviously not the apostle Matthew (only apologists would make that bogus argument). We have names associated with gospels that most scholars consider anonymous. It’s possible the name associations are correct, but given their penchant for copying each other in Greek, it’s far from likely they are the biblical characters of the same name.

          • Erp

            Unfortunately a real resurrection (particularly of a body that apparently can appear in a locked room (John 20:19) or disappear (Luke 24:31)) is such an extraordinary event requiring the breaking of known physical laws that it requires an extraordinary level of evidence. If an alternative simpler explanation that doesn’t break physical laws exists, that is enough to make a supernatural explanation not acceptable. Human memory is malleable and the story of what happened after Jesus’s death (as well as what happened before) were written down many years later and, at best, by people remembering what people who were there told them. Stories get edited in the telling (the cousin’s company in the Silicon Valley gets bigger, she started with less and less capital, etc.).

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            “I dreamed about Jesus last night”
            “Peter saw Jesus last night.”
            “Jesus appeared to Peter last night!”
            “I told the other apostles about it and we prayed.”
            “I think I felt Jesus’ presence when we prayed.”
            “Me too!”
            “The apostles prayed and experienced the presence of Jesus among them”
            “Jesus appeared to the apostles!”

            Now continue this dialogue for 30 years and you begin to get the gospel stories.

          • Realist1234

            Nice try but that doesnt reflect the text at all. No mention of dreams, yet that is your starting point. There isnt even a hint of a ‘dream-like’ quality to the appearances as recorded. They are just matter of fact. And Jesus actually appeared to a woman first, not Peter. Another reason for believing the text – no 1st century Jew would have made up that a woman was the first witness to the resurrection. But hey, just ignore the facts!

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            Nice try but the only text even remotely close to the original experience is the vague text of 1 Corinthians 15.

            The gospels are fantastical, agenda driven tales told by noneyewitnesses a generation later. And as we know from characters like Esther, Deborah, and Ruth in the Old Testament, Jews quite often held up the contributions, words, and empowerment of women. Your assertion about Jewish attitudes towards women is nonsense.

            If you believe any supernatural story you read in an ancient text then you’re going to have to account for all the pagan miracle workers as well: Vespasian, Asclepius, Artemidoris, Apollonius, Peregrinus, Alexander … it’s an incredibly long list. Miracle workers were a dime-a-dozen in the ancient Greek and Roman empires.

          • Paul E.

            In addition, there is disagreement about to whom the appearances were made and in what sequence. Paul doesn’t mention the women, and says the sequence is Cephas, the 12, the 500, James, the apostles and then Paul. Mark has no appearances. Matthew says it was Mary M and the other Mary, and then the 11. Luke says it was the men on the road to Emmaus, then Simon and then the 11 and others with them. John says it was Mary M, then the disciples minus Thomas, and then the disciples with Thomas.

            Interestingly, Matthew says that some to whom Jesus appeared doubted, even after the appearance. If this were a flesh and blood appearance, it would seem difficult to doubt. If it were something more nebulous, doubt is far more explicable.

          • Gary

            Elaine Pagels in “The Gnostic Gospels”, makes a good argument that since the NT accounts of resurrection support a range of interpretations, both literal (body), and spiritual (visions), there is a reason that orthodox Christians insist on the literal view only, with others being heretical. The doctrine of bodily resurrection serves both a religious and political function. It legitimizes the apostolic succession of bishops, the basis of papal authority. Gnostic Christians leaned more toward the spiritual resurrection, and were thus denounced as heretics.
            To recieve a share in the disciples’ authority, Judas Iscariot’s replacement had to witness the resurrection, according to Peter, Acts 1: 21 “Of the men therefore that have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us, 22beginning from the baptism of John, unto the day that he was received up from us, of these must one become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

            Probably another reason why John had poor Thomas feel the wounds of a resurrected Jesus. Bodily, not spiritually. So the main purpose was to declare Gnostic “spiritual resurrection” as heretical, and establish apostolic succession. As well as to counter The Gospel of Thomas as bogus. Politics existed in 100AD, as well as 2017AD.

          • Neko

            You wrote:

            The doctrine of bodily resurrection serves both a religious and political function. It legitimizes the apostolic succession of bishops, the basis of papal authority.

            Pagels has a point, but the Resurrection is not the foundation of papal authority in the Catholic Church. That would be the Confession of Peter, Matt 16:13-19. If you want to argue this section isn’t original to Matthew, have at it.

          • Gary

            You said “the Resurrection is not the foundation of papal authority in the Catholic Church”…

            Pagels said the resurrection legitimizes the apostolic succession of bishops.

            Two different things. Although I would concede that both you and she are correct.

            http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_cti_1973_successione-apostolica_en.html

            “II. THE ORIGINALITY OF THE APOSTOLIC FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH

            The apostolic foundation has this special characteristic: it is both historical and spiritual.

            It is historical in the sense that it comes into being through an act of Christ during his earthly existence: the call of the Twelve at the start of his public ministry, their commission to represent the new Israel and to be involved ever more closely with his Paschal journey, which is consummated in the Cross and Resurrection (Mk 1:17; 3:14; Lk 22:28; Jn 15:16). Far from destroying the pre-Easter structure, the Resurrection confirms it. In a special manner Christ makes the Twelve the witnesses of his Resurrection, and they head the list that he had ordered before his death: the earliest confession of Faith in the Risen One includes Peter and the Twelve as the privileged witnesses of his Resurrection (1 Cor).”

            Seems like pretty much what Pagels said.
            “Far from destroying the pre-Easter structure, the Resurrection confirms it.”

            I guess the only difference is that she says “bodily resurrection”.
            However, I don’t think the Vatican would recognize any other resurrection, other than “bodily”, for Jesus.

          • Neko

            Could you give me the page number you’re citing Pagels from? Thanks.

          • Gary

            Sure. Condensed from pages 6, 7, 8, and 9, Vintage Books Edition, Sept 1989, but it says copyright, 1979. Paperback.

          • Gary

            The John/Thomas thing is another book of Pagels. I forget the name of it now. She thinks John was written to counter the Gospel of Thomas. When I read it, it made good sense. But I don’t remember the details now.

          • Realist1234

            ‘ If an alternative simpler explanation that doesn’t break physical laws exists, that is enough to make a supernatural explanation not acceptable.’

            Thats very convenient. Simply because an alternative explanation is possible does not mean it is true, and the original false. If the alternative ‘natural’ explanation does not in fact explain the facts, then that should be rejected. As an ancestor of Spock once said ‘ when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth’.

            I would suggest the various ‘natural’ explanations proffered by atheists (eg the ‘swoon’ theory, the ‘it wasnt really Jesus on the cross’ theory, the hallucinations theory, the ‘his body was stolen from the tomb by his disciples’ theory, the ‘his body was stolen by the Romans’ theory etc etc) simply do not stand up.

            Occam’s razor or similar principles are not always appropriate or reflect reality.

          • John MacDonald

            Regarding two of the possible naturalistic explanations: that the disciples were hallucinating, or they were lying, what do you find objectionable about these two hypotheses?

          • Realist1234

            Of course, individuals can hallucinate, typically because of drugs in the body, or particular physical or mental illnesses. What evidence do you have that the various witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus had any of these?

            Can the meetings between Jesus and individuals and groups of people be explained by hallucinations suffered by all, in the case of groups experiencing the same hallucination? It doesnt add up.

            As examples, a woman meeting Jesus near his tomb. Two men walking along a road together. A group of disciples (the latter 2 instances involved Jesus having a meal with them). A disciple who had not originally been with the main group when Jesus first met with them, but who then saw Him and physically touched Him. A number of men fishing in a boat who subsequently have breakfast with Jesus along the shore (after He cooked it!). A meeting with His brother James, who seems to have not believed Jesus until after this meeting. Meeting with 500 people at once (according to Paul). So different people meeting with Jesus at different times and in different places. But over a very specific time – 40 days, and then they ceased. None of these appear to have any sense of ‘hallucinatory’ in nature. The opposite in fact.

            Re the disciples lying, that also doesnt make sense. They knew Jesus was dead and it seems many of them basically ran off and hid together (perhaps because they feared a similar fate?). It was only after Jesus physically appeared to them, in the different times and places listed above, that they were suddenly able to declare His resurrection in public, and were quite prepared to die for that sure belief. How many people’s behaviour would be so changed, knowing full well it was all a lie and not real?

            As Ive said before, the resurrection of Jesus is the only viable explanation for the birth, and continuance, of the church.

            As the Easter Acclamation asserts “The Lord is risen – He is risen indeed!”

          • John MacDonald

            Historian Dr. Richard Carrier characterizes the possibilities in the following way in a recent blog post:

            “Of course Habermas tries to sell Strobel on the tired apologetic line that “no one dies for a lie.” Surely not, “if they knew it was a hoax,” we hear said. This is a classic straw man. And as such, another lie. It’s one thing to ask how likely it is the resurrection appearance claims were a hoax. It’s altogether another to ask how likely it is they were like every other divine appearance experience in the whole history of all religions since the dawn of time: a mystical inner vision. Just as Paul tells us. Our only eyewitness source. Of course, a case can be made for the apostles dying even for a hoax: all they needed was to believe that the teachings attached to their fabricated claim would make the world a better place, and that making the world a better place was worth dying for. Even godless Marxists voluntarily died by the millions for such a motive. So the notion that no one would, is simply false.” see: http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12263

          • Neko

            The problem with the hoax theory is that it’s a conspiracy theory, and the problem with a conspiracy theory is that a number of bad actors have to act in concert to pull it off. What would be the payoff for the disciples?

            I read something by Robert Eisenman years ago about Paul being a Herodian agent of some sort. IIRC it was a quasi-conspiracy theory, but a pretty good one. :)

          • John MacDonald

            “Conspiracy” just means people withholding the real explanation about something. It happens all the time, like when your child asks if there is a Santa Claus.

          • John MacDonald

            As Dr. Carrier says, the payoff would be making the world a better place.

          • Neko

            Far-fetched.

          • John MacDonald

            You don’t think people would sacrifice themselves for a cause? I do.

            And we know the religious people of that time were constantly lying to get their message across. Just read Bart Ehrman’s two books:

            (1) Forged: https://www.amazon.com/Forged-Writing-God-Why-Bibles-Authors/dp/0062012622/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493169026&sr=8-1&keywords=forged+ehrman
            and
            (2) Forgery and Counter Forgery: https://www.amazon.com/Forgery-Counter-forgery-Literary-Christian-Hardcover/dp/B00IGYT3OG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493169095&sr=1-1&keywords=forgery+and+counter+forgery+ehrman

          • Neko

            I read Forged years ago. I guess I forgot the details. It’s on my shelf, though. :)

          • Neko

            Of course people sacrifice themselves for a cause! That is the Christ story and its endless iterations!

          • John MacDonald

            Well there you go. People will die for a cause. Isn’t creating a better world a good enough cause? After all, Socrates died for moral reasons, didn’t he?

            And anyway, we don’t have any reason to believe the apostles died for a lie, or for beliefs in the resurrected Jesus. See Carrier’s post here: http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/9978

            Maybe the disciples were hallucinating. Maybe they were lying. Maybe the risen Jesus actually visited them post mortem. Who knows?

            And anyways, as Nietzsche said in “Human, All Too Human,”

            “Being Satisfied: That maturity of understanding has been reached is manifested when one no longer repairs to where the rarest roses grow among the thorniest hedgerows, but is satisfied with the field and the meadow, in the understanding that life is too short for the rare and the extraordinary.”

            I’m getting back to my chicken wings lol.

          • Neko

            Nietzsche is such a drag.

          • Neko

            I read Carrier at your link. He was not so oppressive this time (thank God) and even entertaining. I don’t dispute it’s possible people will die for a lie (though I can’t think of an historical person who died for a lie they knew was a lie), or that the martyrdoms of the apostles are largely legendary. But I don’t think the Jesus movement was a conspiracy. And apparently, neither does Carrier.

            As an aside, I don’t have much confidence in Carrier. He’s slapdash. For instance:

            And even that one ridiculous account for Peter has him officially killed for not praying to Roman gods (in other words, for not renouncing his Judaism), not even for failing to recant that he saw a vision of Jesus (much less touched his body).

            Come on now. Even I know the Romans tolerated the Jews not worshipping the Roman gods. As an aside, I used to think it was because Judaism was a venerable religion, but in that video McGrath posted the other day Larry Hurtado explains the Romans associated god-allegiances with ethnicity, or ethnic nationalism. The Romans disapproved of Christians because they were trans-ethnic, transnational upstarts. (Ironic considering current US ethnic nationalists are Christians.)

          • John MacDonald

            Neko wrote: “But I don’t think the Jesus movement was a conspiracy. And apparently, neither does Carrier.”

            Actually, as I have quoted repeatedly, Carrier does think a case can be made that it was all a hoax. In Carrier’s words:

            “Of course, a case can be made for the apostles dying even for a hoax: all they needed was to believe that the teachings attached to their fabricated claim would make the world a better place, and that making the world a better place was worth dying for. Even godless Marxists voluntarily died by the millions for such a motive. So the notion that no one would, is simply false.” see: http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12263

            It’s just a “possibility.” Another possibility is that the disciples were hallucinating. Another possibility is that the risen Jesus did appear to the disciples.

          • Neko

            Right. I grasp Carrier’s indignation at the apologetic “who would die for a lie” and his argument that dying for a lie is entirely plausible. Fine. But does Carrier think the disciples (knowingly) lied about the Resurrection? He seems to think they had religious experiences of some sort that manifested as belief in a risen Christ.

          • John MacDonald

            I think he treats the two possibilities independently: (a) maybe it was a Noble Lie – and there is a hermeneutic that goes along with this; and (b) maybe it was hallucinations – and there is a hermeneutic that goes along with this.

          • Neko

            OK John!! :)

          • John MacDonald

            lol

          • John MacDonald

            I don’t agree with a lot of what Carrier says – especially about mythicism. But then again I used to think Doherty had an interesting argument, until Dr. McGrath dismantled Doherty’s theory. I think Dr. McGrath does a wonderful service here bringing expert analysis to the internet.

          • Neko

            Agree!

          • Realist1234

            Given that Carrier disputes the very existence of Jesus of Nazareth, I dont pay much attention to what he has to say. But unsurprisingly I disagree with what he has written in your quote. Even the godless Marxists still believed in what they believed. They were not believing a ‘lie’ in their own minds. That is quite different from saying that the first Christians knowingly asserted that the crucified Jesus had been physically raised from the dead and they had met, ate with him and been further taught by him, when in fact they knew full well that simply wasnt true. Particularly as the resurrection of Jesus quickly became the cornerstone of the faith.

            So I reject Carrier’s argument.

          • John MacDonald

            Dying for a hoax would just mean the Original Christians would be dying for the ethical cause of making a better world by duping people into believing Jesus was risen. It would be a more ethical, more hopeful world. Socrates, after all, died for his ethical beliefs.

          • Realist1234

            You seem to be arguing purposefully lying to other people makes the world a ‘more ethical’ place! Truly bizarre. Do you not see the fundamental contradiction there? And what ‘hope’ are the disciples spreading when they know Jesus’ life ended terribly on a Roman gibbet and that was the end of him, despite the fact He claimed He would rise again? Really?!

          • John MacDonald

            The Jews believed in justified lying. For instance:

            God lies by putting lying spirits in the mouths of his prophets:

            And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him … I will go forth and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him and prevail also; go forth and do so. 1 Kings 22:21-22

          • Paul E.

            Certainly the noble lie theory is a better historical explanation for Christian origins than the reanimation of a corpse, but it still seems to me a pretty poor explanation. I’m interested to see if my mind could be changed about this. Are there any mainstream scholars who treat it seriously?

          • John MacDonald

            I have outlined the theory in a blog post along with the reader comments here: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.ca/

            It’s just one secular option, along with the other option that the disciples were hallucinating.

          • Paul E.

            Thanks, I’ll check it out!

          • John MacDonald

            Sure! It’s just speculation, like the theory that the disciples were hallucinating, or the theory that the disciples actually saw the risen Jesus – but it’s fun to speculate. I don’t think there is any reason to argue that any of these options are historically probable, since that goes beyond what the evidence can sustain, but it’s fun to make guesses. lol

            Of course, as Dr. Bart Ehrman pointed out in his debate with William Lane Craig, any naturalistic explanation that fits the evidence is inherently more probable than positing that a miracle occurred.

          • Realist1234

            Again you cannot use probability theory to determine a miracle or not, by definition.

          • Realist1234

            Have a read of this from a historian who knows what hes talking about-

            http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/12/24/4154120.htm

          • John MacDonald

            I liked the article. Thanks for sharing! I disagree with Carrier and Lataster that Jesus started out as a myth.

          • Erp

            For the record I also disagree with Carrier and do not think that Jesus started as a myth though I do think that many of the stories that accrued to him are legend (e.g., the birth narratives) much like stories accrue to other historical figures (e.g., young George Washington and the apple tree).

          • Erp

            You’ve ignored one big reason that some people may hallucinate, grief. Or are you suggesting the disciples weren’t grieving?

            Note that stories we have were written down many years later. Eyewitnesses can misremember details (a classic example is people learning about the Columbia shuttle explosion, a professor had college students write down how each found out very shortly after the accident and then followed up over several years, the individual stories changed sometimes drastically). In the case of the New Testament accounts we don’t even have the eyewitnesses’ accounts (other than Paul but his Jesus is a vision) but rather at least one layer of intermediaries.

          • Paul E.

            The descriptions (or lack thereof) of some of the appearances are rather interesting as well. For example, in Paul, our earliest source, they are not described. In Mark, our next earliest source, there are none. In Matthew, some of the disciples doubted even after Jesus “appeared” to them as a group. In Luke, the men on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus, even though he walked, spoke and ate with them. In John, Mary M did not recognize Jesus and thought he was a gardener. In Acts, the appearance to Paul was a light and a voice. Just like today when people “see” Jesus or the Virgin Mary, etc., the experiences seem quite diverse and can be in many different settings.

          • Realist1234

            You make a fair point re grief – my mum has very recently passed away so I know all about it. But again, the sort of experiences that people have reported at such times do not appear to me to be at all similar to those described regarding the resurrection of Jesus, as I have outlined above.

          • Erp

            Different people have different experiences.

            “Thus, it is not unusual for bereaved individuals to dream of their deceased loved ones, to half look for them in crowds, to sense their presence, feel them watching out for or protecting them, to rehearse discussions or “speak” to them. Auditory or visual hallucinations of the deceased person are often seen during acute grief.” …
            “When asked, most widows and widowers reported that they had felt or had been touched by their dead spouse, had heard their voice, seen them, or smelled their presence. The misidentification of their dead spouses in a crowd was common.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2691160/

            I have two concerns. First the phenomena has not been carefully studied and it may be tricky to study it (it isn’t considered an illness and asking close questions about it of recently bereaved people skirts the ethical line unless they bring up that they’ve experienced it). Second I think it has been studied even less cross-culturally (i.e., does it happen in other cultures, is it expressed differently). In particular do the various cultures of 1st century CE have any other accounts that could be describing post-bereavement hallucinations.

          • Neko

            Excellent post.

      • Neko

        And maybe in response to charges that the risen Christ was a ghost or vision and hadn’t resurrected in the flesh.

        • John MacDonald

          I only accept self-serving, underhanded explanations for the motivations of the ancients! lol

          This may have to do with the fact that I grew up in a non-religious home, and the first major exposure I had of the morals of the ancients was the racy, packed with gossip, dramatic and sometimes amusing “The Twelve Caesars” by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. lol

          • Neko

            Ha! Never read ’em, but sounds like my cup of tea. :)

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            It’s not too difficult to wade through English translations of Suetonius, but it may be more fun to read Robert Graves novelized take on the lives of the Caesars, “I Claudius”!

          • Neko

            I did crack the spine of “I Claudius” some years ago and watched the entire TV series on Netflix. Thank you for reminding me of it–I may just pick up that book after I get through my stack (if ever).

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            That series is great! It was clearly low budget and dated in production values, but the acting is amazing! Especially Derek Jacoby as Claudius.

          • Neko

            “The true story of the family that put the word ‘nasty’ in ‘dynasty’…” !!

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB3YiO8l-JM

          • John MacDonald

            I Claudius was one of my favorites. Even Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame makes an appearance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ADx7k3D-zc

    • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

      Yes, photos and videos can be manipulated almost as easily as ancient religious texts.

      • Realist1234

        Except without the resurrection of Jesus there is no viable explanation for the birth of the church or the strength of the faith of its first disciples. If jesus’ life really did end with His death, there would be no church. History says otherwise.

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          Well, that’s just false. It’s like saying,

          “Without the appearance of the angel Moroni, there is no viable explanation for the birth of Mormon ism.”

          “Without the appearance of Lord Krishna as the avatar of Vishnu, there is no viable explanation for the birth of Hinduism.”

          “Without the revelation of the Holy Qur’an by Allah to the prophet, there is no viable explanation for the birth of Islam.”

          Saying it doesn’t make it remotely true.

          • John MacDonald

            I personally believe Muhammad ascended to heaven, but that’s just because I don’t believe in gravity.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            And I personally would like to believe in the Angel Moroni, just because his name makes me laugh…

          • Neko

            But his taste in literature! “It is chloroform in print.”

  • Jeff Carter
    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Excellent!

  • Gary

    Since the gospel of John was referenced in downplaying Thomas’ faith, I think it is only fair to mention the Gospel of Thomas.

    https://youtu.be/3qStnWn3jCA

    Whether early or late (40-140 AD), whether original oral sayings of Jesus or added sayings later, there seemed to be a group of people thinking they were worth writing down. Rather cryptic. But people hearing the sayings and believing them – also may explain why the same people believed that Jesus performed healing and miracles. Rather unexplainable. But then we have Scientology, Mormonism, riding a comet to a home planet by suicide, in modern times. Unexplainable. I am not implying that Jesus didn’t perform healing and miracles. Only that it may be a different subject as to what people actually believed in 100AD. Reinterpretation?

    • Gary

      Even more interesting – the people that believed in the Gospel of Thomas were not just uneducated peasants. Obviously there were also some educated monks, who could read and write, who wrote or copied the texts.

    • Neko

      Mark Goodacre makes a persuasive case in “Thomas and the Gospels” that the Gospel of Thomas was composed c. 140 AD.

      • Gary

        Composed may be the wrong word. There are a lot of other scholars who say some of the oral sayings were early. Some may have been added late. I don’t know what Mark Goodacre means by “composed”. But I personally doubt that someone actually sat down one time, and wrote them all down. They may have evolved as a composite conglomeration. There again, Pagels and some others thought that John and Thomas were about the same time, with John being after. John being written to counter Thomas (or the part that existed at that time). I don’t know. But Mark Goodacre, as I remember, aligns more with apologetics. I may be wrong on that. Also though , some people think Q may have something to do with it. Very confusing subject. But one thing is certain. Some monk living around Nag Hammadi thought Thomas was worth saving from the orthodox movement, for whatever reason.

        • Neko

          “Composed” is my word and means when the text we call “Gospel of Thomas” was…composed. Obviously if Goodacre thinks the gospel dates c. 140 AD, and since Thomas appropriates verses from the synoptic gospels (particularly Matthew and Luke), then Thomas inherited sayings already in circulation.

          Goodacre is not an apologist. I have little tolerance for apologetics posturing as disinterested scholarship. I’ve actually read Goodacre’s book on Thomas (though handicapped by my inability to read koine Greek), and it is closely argued on the evidence and persuasive.

          • Gary

            Haven’t read it. Who’s to say the verses from Matthew and Luke don’t come from Q, or the oral sayings that ending up in Thomas? That’s used by some to connect Thomas with Q. I’ll have to read Goodacre’s book sometime. I don’t know.

          • Gary

            If that’s the case, I don’t see how a date of 140AD could be assigned to it, especially since they are just “sayings”.
            Guess I won’t be reading Mark Goodacre’s book. Just checked. He has no books in my local library. A book has to be a MAJOR desire of mine, for me to actually pay money for it.

          • Neko

            Prof. Goodacre must be crushed he doesn’t make the cut with you. But I checked, and that book is expensive. Ouch. I think it went up.

          • Gary

            All I can say is that my library has many books from Pagels, Ehrman, etc. Too many to justify buying something myself, unless I really see a need. Since I saw that Goodacre doesn’t buy into Q, (saw his book was “the argument against Q), sorry, but then I can’t buy into him. I am sure he will survive without my interest. At least until he gets some books in my local library.