A Not-So-Good Friday

Sorry, but I cannot let this Good Friday pass by without making a comment on my favorite topic: the resurrection of Jesus.

I am uniquely qualified to write about Good Friday, because, unlike most human beings, I have been crucified. Actually, technically, I crucified myself. That probably sounds horrific, or at least a bit kinky, but it is true, and, obviously, I lived to tell the tale.

In case you are not aware, nobody knows how crucifixion causes death. There are competing theories about this, of course. The most widely held theory is that crucifixion causes death by asphyxiation. However, as Dr. Frederick Zugibe has argued in The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry (2005), there are good reasons to reject this popular theory. The main reason to doubt this theory is that crucifixion experiments conducted by Dr. Zugibe on human volunteers failed to produce evidence of any difficulty in breathing for the “victims” who were crucified.

Perhaps I should clarifiy the term “crucifixion” now. Most people think that Jesus was “nailed to the cross” and that being nailed to a cross is what “crucifixion” means. This is a false assumption. First of all, as Jehovah’s Witnesses are fond of pointing out, crucifixion need not involve a cross. Someone can be crucified on a stake or a tree. Second, crucifixion need not involve nails. Victims of crucifixion were often tied or bound, rather than nailed.

So, no, I did not nail myself to a cross. Dr. Zugibe did not nail anyone to a cross either; he secured the hands of human volunteers to a cross by means of leather gauntlets created specifically for the experiment.

Zugibe’s experiments cast significant doubt on the asphyxiation theory, but there were a couple of deficiencies in his experiments. First, we don’t know the position of the crucifixion victims and whether crosses were the standard, so many victims of crucifixion, including Jesus, could have been suspended with their hands overhead, rather than suspended with arms outstreched to each side (as we see in typical depictions of Jesus’ crucifixion).

This is significant, because asphyxiation is supposed to occur more quickly if one is suspended by hands directly above one’s head. Second, because of pain experienced by the human volunteers, the suspensions in Dr. Zugibe’s experiments were only allowed to continue for a few minutes. Since victims of crucifixion were typically suspended for hours and even days, one could wonder whether a suspension lasting longer than a few minutes would result in asphyxiation.

For those reasons, I suspended myself from my hands, with my hands overhead, using gauntlets similar to those in Zugibe’s experiment. To avoid injuring or killing myself, I did not suspend my full weight this way. I began by suspending myself on a slight angle (about 30 degrees), and worked my way up in stages to closer to vertical (about 60 degrees). I tried to stay suspended for longer than the Zugibe experiments. I think I made it up to 15 minutes (I will have to check my notes on that). At any rate, having most of my weight suspended from my wrists and arms was painful. The pain is focused on joints: wrists and shoulders. I never experienced any difficulty in breathing. Some day I hope to try this again, take some pain killers, and remain suspended for an hour or so.

Based on Zugibe’s experiments, and my personal experience with crucifixion, I conclude that the asphyxiation theory is probably false.

Zugibe has his own theory about what caused Jesus to die, but his theory is based on an ignorant and naive view of the Gospels, with a large dash of imagination and wishful thinking thrown into the mix. In any case, Zugibe’s theory is not a general theory about how crucifixion causes death, and given the dubious nature of the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion, a well-established theory of this sort is required in order to establish that Jesus died on the cross.

No such theory exists. We don’t know how crucifixion kills people. As a result, it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove that Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday.

I can say with confidence, however, that if Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and if he was suspended from a cross (or stake) for a number of hours, then it was a not-so-good Friday for Jesus.

About Stephen Law
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    Dehydration?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Dehydration and exposure seem like plausible explanations of how crucifixion generally killed people. That theory fits well with the fact that victims of crucifixion usually took days rather than hours to die.

    If dehydration was the primary cause of death in crucifixion, then the nature of crucifixion cannot be used to prove that Jesus died on Good Friday, since according to the Gospels, Jesus was suspended on the cross for only a matter of hours.

    Based on the gospel accounts, Jesus was crucified sometime between 8am and 2pm, and he was removed from the cross sometime between 3pm and 6pm on the same day. Based on gospel accounts, Jesus was on the cross for at least one hour and for no more than ten hours.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17118793856670565857 Fortune’s Blog

    Mr. Dan Barker, I am glad, that I am able to write to you..

    May, I tell you a little about myself first…

    I was raised in the A.M.E. Chruch for 18yrs. Then became a Muslim for the next 15yrs, of my life hoping I am following the right religion..

    Then a preacher who told me,basicly if I didn't believe that Jesus was the only way to Heaven..that I didn't believe in Jesus, well that I was going to Hell !

    That made me very Hot/upset/angry, but then I searched the Book of Revelation, trying to discredit this person,but ended up finding out one thing, that Jesus was and is the Christ and the Son of God. He basicly opened my eyes…my heart..and my mind to His never ending love…and God saved me…

    He saved my life..and then shortly after my conversion to Christ, He called me to preach His Word, of salvation…

    Ok, now for your post on your blog…The Bible doesn't say that Jesus died from the cross…..That was NOT what killed Jesus..

    He you look closely, Jesus said, while on the cross, it is finished, and then HE gave up the Ghost…..

    The reason Jesus died is because of love for us….He controlled every part of His death….

    Thanks…..

    my blog is: googleinfo-fortune.blogspot.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    What you have failed to take into consideration from the Gospel account is the flogging Jesus received before His crucifixion. Historians tell us that the victims were often flogged until they passed out from pain and often were killed by the process itself. The fact Jesus experienced such a beating helps to account for the fact that he was only alive for around 6 hours after being crucified. Also, as it says in Luke 23:46, "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit." The purpose for which Jesus came to earth had been accomplished thus he gave up His spirit and died.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11389651479904502758 DM

    Atheists,

    GET OUT OF MY UNIVERSE

    you little liars do nothing but antagonize…

    and you try to eliminate all the dreams and hopes of humanity…

    but you LOST…

    THE DEATH OF ATH*ISM – SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF GOD

    http://engforum.pravda.ru/showthread.php?t=280780

    Einstein puts the final nail in the coffin of atheism…

    *************************************

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7vpw4AH8QQ

    *************************************

    atheists deny their own life element…

    LIGHT OR DEATH, ATHEISTS?

    ********************************
    ***************************LIGHT*********
    ************************************

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15885006269071565159 Imola

    Nice. I shall return time and again (though, most likely, silent…I am a bit of a loquacious taciturn…)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Nonfan34 said:
    "What you have failed to take into consideration from the Gospel account is the flogging Jesus received before His crucifixion. Historians tell us that the victims were often flogged until they passed out from pain and often were killed by the process itself. The fact Jesus experienced such a beating helps to account for the fact that he was only alive for around 6 hours after being crucified."

    It is certainly possible that Jesus was severely flogged prior to being crucified, and that the flogging caused him to die in a matter of hours.

    But in order to prove that somebody truly died and came back to life, you need to show more than that it is possible that the person in question died at a particular time.

    There are a couple of problems with your claim here. First, you need to provide strong historical evidence not only for the claim that Jesus was flogged, but also for the claim that he was flogged very severely.

    If you argue that flogging was a common part of crucifixion as practiced by the Romans in 1st Century Palestine, this would undermine your position, because most victims of crucifixion did NOT die in just six hours.

    On the other hand, if we assume that flogging was NOT a standard part of crucifixion as practiced by the Romans in 1st century Palestine, then you take on a significant burden of proof to show that flogging, although not a standard part of crucifixion, was used in the specific case of Jesus.

    The only significant historical evidence for this position is from the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion, and there are several reasons to doubt the reliability and accuracy of those accounts.

    Furthermore, even if we made the dubious assumption that the gospel accounts give us reliable info about the crucifixion of Jesus, they don't provide the sort of details that would indicate how severe that specific flogging was or the degree of physical injury that resulted to Jesus from the flogging.

    So, you might be able to provide weak and dubious evidence that Jesus was flogged to some extent, but I see no way for you to come up with strong evidence that Jesus was severely flogged.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Fortune's Blog said:

    "Ok, now for your post on your blog…The Bible doesn't say that Jesus died from the cross…..That was NOT what killed Jesus..

    He you look closely, Jesus said, while on the cross, it is finished, and then HE gave up the Ghost…..

    The reason Jesus died is because of love for us….He controlled every part of His death…."

    ========

    Response:

    You are basically asserting that Jesus' death was a miracle, not an ordinary death from physical causes.

    Such miracles claims require strong evidence, and you have provided no such evidence.

    There is also a big problem with claiming that Jesus' death was a miracle. The resurrection of Jesus is often used as a key argument for the truth of Christianity, esp. for the truth of Jesus' claims and teachings. Thus, the resurrection is usually put forward as the best evidenced miracle in support of Christian belief. The resurrection of Jesus is supposed to be the ice-breaker ship that plows through the doubts of skeptics like me.

    But in order to persuade me and other skeptics that Jesus rose from the dead, you need to first concvince us that Jesus truly died on the cross. If you insist that Jesus' death was a miracle, then you are admitting that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus rests on yet another miracle claim that is even more dubious and lacking in proof.

    Basing the questionable resurrection-of-Jesus claim on the dubious Jesus-death-was-a-miracle claim basically destroys any chance that you will be able to rationally defend your Christian faith.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    DM said:

    "Einstein puts the final nail in the coffin of atheism…"

    Apparently DM is unaware that Einstein rejected belief in God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    I was not arguing that all crucifixion victims were flogged, but that according to the Gospel accounts Jesus was flogged and that would help to account for the fact His death was quicker than most people that were crucified. Mark 15:19 reads, "And they kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting at Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. John 19:1-3 reads, Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him. "And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put in on His head, and arrayed Him in a purple robe; and they began to come up to Him, and say "Hail, King of the Jews!" and to give Him blows in the face.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    I do not think fortunes blog was claiming that Jesus' death was a miracle, but that once Jesus had accomplished the purpose for which He came to earth He freely and willingly gave up His spirit. It could be compared to a person who has a terminal illness such as cancer. If there is a family member they have not seen and they know they are coming they will fight to stay alive as long as possible in order to see them. Once they have seen them they can stop fighting. In the case of Jesus, he fought to stay alive long enough to fulfill everything which was prophesied in Scripture. Once He had accomplished that purpose He was able to stop the fight to stay alive and freely give up His Spirit to die. The fact He said He was thirsty and asked for drink was to be able to speak the last words that were necessary to fulfill Scripture and accomplish the task for which He came to earth, which was to reconcile sinful man back to God. The fact that John writes in John 19:34, "But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water." Is proof that Jesus was really dead. Blood and water coming forth is exactly the result one would expect from piercing the heart of a dead person.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    nolanfan34 said:

    I was not arguing that all crucifixion victims were flogged, but that according to the Gospel accounts Jesus was flogged and that would help to account for the fact His death was quicker than most people that were crucified. Mark 15:19 reads, "And they kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting at Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. John 19:1-3 reads, Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him.
    ==========
    Response:

    First, I don't see anything here indicating that Jesus was SEVERELY flogged.

    A second problem: What is the strength of your historical evidence? You need to answer some obvious questions:

    1. Who wrote the Gospel of Mark?
    2. Was Mark an eyewitness to these events?
    3. If not, where did the author of Mark obtain this information? Did the author of Mark interview an eyewitness of these events? Who was the alleged eyewitness?
    4. How soon after the events did the author of Mark interview the eyewitness? How reliable is that eyewitnesses?
    5. When was Mark composed?
    6. How reliable is the author of Mark as far as accurately transmitting information that he gathered about the trial and crucifixion of Jesus?

    Here are my answers to those questions:

    1. We don't know who wrote Mark, other than that he was a second or third generation Christian.
    2. The author was not an eyewitness to the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.
    3. We don't know if the author of Mark had direct contact with any eyewitness of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. The author never claims that he interviewed any eyewitness of these events. The author of Mark wrote in Greek and shows ignorance about the geography of Palestine, so the author probably was not close to the aramaic speaking first generation of Jesus' followers in Palestine.
    4. The gospel of Mark was written about 70 CE, four decades after Jesus' trial and crucifixion. Most adult eyewitnesses of the trial and crucifixion would be dead by then. Those still alive would have unreliable memories that would be contaminated by decades of Christian story telling.
    6. Since we don't have any written sources for the gospel of Mark, it is difficult to judge the reliability of this gospel in preserving whatever information or traditions were used as the basis for its account of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.

    The same questions can be applied to the Gospel of John, but the historical unreliability of John is greater than that of Mark, not to mention that their accounts of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus conflict at several points.

    So, your evidence for flogging of Jesus is weak, and your evidence for severe flogging is non-existent.

    Finally, the OT passage "By his stripes we were healed" (Isaiah, I believe) suggests that the flogging of Jesus might well be "prophecy historicized" – a detail derived not from any eyewitness, but inserted into the account on the basis of this OT passage.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    nolanfan34 said:

    I do not think fortunes blog was claiming that Jesus' death was a miracle, but that once Jesus had accomplished the purpose for which He came to earth He freely and willingly gave up His spirit. It could be compared to a person who has a terminal illness such as cancer.
    ============

    Response:

    It is true that Fortune's Blog did not clearly state that Jesus' death was a miracle, but this was strongly implied by the following comments:

    "The Bible doesn't say that Jesus died from the cross…..That was NOT what killed Jesus.."

    "The reason Jesus died is because of love for us….He controlled every part of His death…"

    These comments strongly suggest that Jesus death did not have a physical cause/explanation but rather a supernatural cause/explanation.

    Your analogy with the cancer patient does not fit with these comments. The cancer patient dies because of the cancer. You would not say "The cancer is NOT what killed the patient" even if the patient had some control over the precise timing of his/her death.

    Nor would you say that the cancer patient "controlled every part of his/her death" even if he/she had some control over the precise timing of his/her death.

    The will to live cannot extend the life of a terminal cancer patient indefinitely, and it is questionable whether a terminal cancer patient can will himself/herself to die in the early stages of the cancer. So, there is presumably a small window of time when such patients are very near death in which a cancer patient might have some choice over the precise time of his/her death.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17118793856670565857 Fortune’s Blog

    Bowen, your question's about who wrote the Gospel of Mark, and so on…

    1st. John Mark, who was with the apostle Paul and Barnabas wrote the gospel of Mark, and was he at the crucifixion= no, however, he received his information from (as most scholars believe) the apostle peter, also what you are forgetting is that the crucifixion was above a main road, therefore most people in Israel would have known this…..

    Was his info reliable ? Yes, of course it was, and when did he write this gospel…once again, Historians say that these gospel's where written, no more than 1-7yrs later….

    The bottom line is, when you really search the Scriptures, and get all the evidence you need it won't matter because unless you have a heart change of the Truth of the gospel..you still won't believe….

    Look back at the religious leaders of Jesus' day…all the evidence was there and especially judas…seen the miracles,first hand, the Pharisees did not deny that Jesus did the miracles, there problem is what they basically said, we will not have this Man rule over us….Heart problem, not evidence….

    Jesus loves you, will you trust Him now ? repent and believe the gospel ?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    Crucifixion held no terror for the earliest Christians.

    Here is Paul writing in Romans 13

    Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

    Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

    For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

    For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

    Jesus might have been flogged, whipped, mocked, beaten, stripped and crucified, and Paul could still write that the authorities do 'not bear the sword for nothing'

    Did Paul know what Jesus had gone through when he wrote 'For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.'

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    nolanfan34 said:

    The fact that John writes in John 19:34, "But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water." Is proof that Jesus was really dead. Blood and water coming forth is exactly the result one would expect from piercing the heart of a dead person.
    ========================

    Response:

    1. This point has no relevance to the issue of how crucifixion causes death. If you give up on trying to show how crucifixion and/or flogging caused victims to die, then your case for the death of Jesus will have to focus on diagnostic evidence for his death, derived from the gospel accounts.

    It is not absolutely necessary to prove a cause of death in order to prove that someone died at a particular time. However, there are several difficulties and problems that you will face in trying to establish Jesus’ death on the cross based primarily on a diagnosis of death. From my viewpoint, this strategy is not very promising.

    2. You make the assumption that the spear pierced Jesus’ heart. The passage from John does not give a specific location for the spear wound, so your assumption is at best an hypothesis, not a fact.

    The passage does not describe the type of spear, the shape and size of the spear tip, the depth of penetration of the spear tip, the width of the wound, the angle of the spear, the forcefulness of the spear thrust, nor the specific location on Jesus’ body where the spear tip made the wound. The lack of specific details makes it difficult, if not impossible, to confirm your hypothesis that the spear pierced Jesus heart (even granting the assumption that the account of this incident is historical and accurate).

    3. You assert, without any factual evidence, the medical claim that “Blood and water coming forth is exactly the result one would expect from piercing the heart of a dead person.”

    When it comes to medical claims, people often feel free to make up their own facts and theories to suit their wishes and desires, without having any solid scientific basis for their claims. This is especially true when people talk about the crucifixion of Jesus. So, I hope you will forgive me for being skeptical about your claim.

    I strongly doubt that you have any solid scientific evidence to back this claim up, and I also doubt that the claim is correct. Feel free to prove me mistaken by producing solid scientific evidence for your medical claim. I won’t hold my breath waiting for such evidence.

    (continued in another comment)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Response to nolanfan34 (continued)

    4. It is important to note that the spear wound story is only found in the gospel of John. A comparison of John with the other gospel accounts of the crucifixion reveals many inconsistencies between John and the synoptics.

    Furthermore, there are a number of inconsistencies that are closely related to the spearing incident. Only in John do we find: Jesus mother at the cross, the beloved disciple at the cross, Jesus speaking to his beloved disciple from the cross, Jesus speaking to his mother from the cross, the breaking of the legs of the other victims, the spearing of Jesus side, the blood and water from Jesus side (witnessed by the beloved disciple), and the resurrected Jesus showing a wound in side to his disciples, Jesus showing a wound in his side to doubting Thomas. None of this is reported in any other gospel.

    Furthermore, Mark and Matthew imply that the disciples went into hiding when Jesus was crucified and left Jerusalem before seeing the risen Jesus (implying that the first sightings of the risen Jesus took place in Galilee a week or two after the crucifixion.) Therefore, Mark and Matthew contradict the account in John, which has the disciples hanging out in Jerusalem for a week or more after the crucifixion, and the first sightings of the risen Jesus taking place in Jerusalem.

    My conclusion is that the doubting Thomas story is pure fiction, and that the rest of the events in this chain of related events are historically dubious.

    5. Since the spear wound incident is only reported in the gospel of John, it is of critical importance to evaluate the historical reliability and accuracy of this gospel.

    Most of the leading Jesus scholars agree that the Gospel of John is an unreliable source of the words and teachings of Jesus. To put the point bluntly, the gospel of John puts words into Jesus’ mouth that were never spoken by the historical Jesus.

    If the leading Jesus scholars are correct on this point, and I believe they are, then this also casts doubt on the historical reliability and accuracy of other details found in the gospel of John. If the words of the man believed to be the one and only incarnation of the all-knowing all-powerful creator of the universe were distorted and altered by the author(s) of the gospel of John, why should we trust him/them to provide reliable and accurate details about the crucifixion?

    Given the numerous inconsistencies between the account of the trial(s), crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus in the gospel of John as compared to the synoptic gospels, and given that John was composed later than the other gospels (six or seven decades after the crucifixion), and given that there is a consensus among leading Jesus scholars that the Gospel of John is an unreliable source of the words and teachings of Jesus, there is good reason to view the evidence that you have provided (from the gospel of John) for the spear wound incident as being weak and highly questionable.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The claim that Jesus died and then came back to life approximately 36 hours later is an extraordinary claim, so you must provide extraordinary evidence that Jesus in fact died on the cross.

    You have failed to provide extraordinary evidence for this claim, and instead have provided weak and dubious evidence for it.

    This leads me to believe that you accept this extraordinary claim not on the basis of reason and evidence, but on the basis of some irrational prejudice, perhaps wishful thinking or groupthink.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    I offer the following evidence that Jesus was severely flogged. Lee Strobel was the legal editor of the Chicago Tribune and an atheist. In 1979 he began his own investigation into the claims of the Bible and whether they could be deemed true. The result was he turned from atheism to Christianity. He recounts his journey in the book The Case For Christ. In order to examine the reliability of the medical evidence he interviewed Alexander Metherell, M.D., Ph.D. The following is what he said. You may reference this in Chapter 11 of The Case for Christ, if you so desire.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    Metherell says the following, "The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which could cut the flesh severely. The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed by the deep, deep, cuts. The whipping would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to the back, the buttocks, and the back of the legs. It was just terrible."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    Metherell continues, "One physician who has studied Roman beatings said, 'As the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh.' A third-century historian by the name of Eusebius described a flogging by saying, 'The sufferer's veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure.' Metherell continues, "We know that many people would die from this kind of beating even before they could be crucified. The the least, the victim would experience tremendous pain and go into hypovolemic shock." According to Metherell hypovolemic shock does four things. "First, the heart races to try to pump blood that isn't there; second, the blood pressure drops, causing fainting or collapse; third, the kidneys stop producing urine to maintain what volume is left; and fourth, the person becomes very thirsty as the body craves fluids to replace the lost blood volume." When asked by Strobel if there was evidence for this type of beating in the Gospel accounts, Metherell's reply was yes. He states, "Jesus was in hypovolemic shock as he staggered up the road to the execution site at Calvary, carrying the horizontal beam of the cross. Finally Jesus collapsed, and the Roman soldier ordered Simon to carry the cross for him. Later we read that Jesus said, 'I thirst,' at which point a sip of vinegar was offered to him. Because of the terrible effects of this beating, there's no question that Jesus was already in serious to critical condition even before the nails were driven through his hands and feet."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Response to nolanfan34:

    The statements made by Metherell appear to simply indicate that flogging could in SOME cases be severe and deadly. If that is the claim, then this does not support your claim that Jesus was severely flogged.

    There is some unclarity of quantification here. If Metherell is saying that Roman flogging was ALWAYS very severe, then he does not know what he is talking about. Obviously, there can be various degrees of severity with flogging, and there were.

    If Metherell is saying that Roman flogging was ALMOST ALWAYS very severe, then he needs to provide historical evidence to back this up.

    If flogging was always or almost always used on people who were going to be crucified, then the above strong claims would undermine your argument, because victims of crucifixion usually took days, not hours, to die.

    If flogging was a standard part of crucifixion, then the above strong claims would imply that a severe flogging does NOT usually shorten death by crucifixion to a day or less.

    If Metherell is saying that this was USUALLY the case with flogging, he might be right, but he still needs to provide historical evidence to back this up.

    Suppose he could prove that 8 times out of 10, Roman floggings would be very severe (and I don't think he could prove even this much). There would still be problems for your case:

    1. An 80% chance that Jesus was severely flogged is not strong enough to be evidence for a miracle claim. If Jesus was truly seen walking around on Easter Sunday, then that would be very strong evidence that Jesus had NOT been severely flogged on Friday. So, you need to establish with near certainty that Jesus was severely flogged on Friday, in order for your argument to work.

    2. An 80% chance that a person who was flogged was severely flogged would NOT imply that there was an 80% chance that Jesus was severely flogged, because we don't know that Jesus was flogged.

    There is some historical evidence in support of the claim that Jesus was flogged, but that evidence is dubious and questionable, so it can only provide some modest degree of probability for this claim. If by some miracle of historical research you could prove there was an 80% chance that Jesus was flogged on Good Friday prior to being crucified, then the chance that Jesus was severely flogged would be .8 x .8 = .64 or about 6 chances in 10.

    I strongly doubt you will be able to get near that level of certainty, but in any case, a 6 in 10 chance that Jesus was severely flogged prior to being crucified is nowhere close to the sort of evidence required to establish a miracle claim.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    nolanfan34 said:

    When asked by Strobel if there was evidence for this type of beating in the Gospel accounts, Metherell's reply was yes. He states, "Jesus was in hypovolemic shock as he staggered up the road to the execution site at Calvary, carrying the horizontal beam of the cross. Finally Jesus collapsed, and the Roman soldier ordered Simon to carry the cross for him. Later we read that Jesus said, 'I thirst,' at which point a sip of vinegar was offered to him. Because of the terrible effects of this beating, there's no question that Jesus was already in serious to critical condition even before the nails were driven through his hands and feet."
    ================

    Response:

    According to Metherell Jesus "staggered up the road to the execution site at Calvary, carrying the horizontal beam of the cross" and then Jesus "collapsed". The gospels do not say that Jesus staggered nor do they say that Jesus collapsed. So, Metherell supports his hypothesis by inventing details that aren't there in the text.

    Jesus did fall, according to the synoptic gospels (contrary to the gospel of John), and somebody was forced to carry Jesus' cross according to the synoptic gospels (contrary to the gospel of John), but the gospel accounts don't give us details about Jesus' condition nor do they explain why somebody else was forced to carry Jesus' cross.

    The crossbeams were usually heavy, and anyone carrying a heavy beam for a significant distance would be likely to become fatigued and to fall. This is hardly proof that Jesus was in hypovolemic shock!

    It is uncertain that Jesus did fall and it is uncertain that someone was forced to carry the cross for Jesus. As I pointed out, the gospel of John says nothing about Jesus falling and nothing about somebody being forced to carry Jesus' cross. Because the gospels are inconsistent on this point, we can hardly be certain that these details are historical.

    Furthermore, there are many reasons for doubting the accuracy and reliability of the gospel accounts of the trials, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. They were written decades after the events. It is unclear whether any author of any gospel ever spoke to an eyewitness to these events. Even if one or more gospel authors did speak with an eyewitness, this conversation probably occurred decades after the events so the memories of the eyewitness would be contaminated by many years of listening to Christian storytelling about these events.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    response to nolanfan34 (continued):

    Finally, there are no footnotes or indications in any gospel as to whether a particular detail is based on eyewitness accounts. So, even if 80% of the details in the crucifixion account of Mark, for example, came directly from an eyewitness account, we have no way of knowing which specific details are part of that 80% and which are not.

    Once again we see the impossibility of acheiving a degree of certainty that would approach what is needed to prove a miracle claim.

    The testimony of an eyewitness does not give us 100% certainty in even the best of conditions. Given that eyewitness testimony in this case would be unreliable because the memories would be decades old, and because the memories would be contaminated by decades of storytelling, I cannot imagine that details from the most honest and sincere eyewitness should be any more than 80% reliable.

    So, even if I granted the dubious assumption that 80% of the details in Mark were based directly on eyewitness testimony, and even if I granted the generous assumption that such eyewitness testimony would be 80% reliable, the chance that any given detail would be true would be .8 x .8 = .64. In other words, there would be about 6 chances in 10 that the detail would be true, and about 4 chances in 10 that it would be false.

    This is nowhere near the kind of proof required to show that a miracle happened.

    Metherell points to Jesus saying "I thirst" from the cross. He infers from this that Jesus was in fact thirsty. That is probable, but not certain. Jesus might have been trying to express some spiritual truth by use of an analogy. This is something Jesus frequently did in his ministry. Lets assume that Jesus was in fact thirsty. So what. People get thirsty. I get thirsty every day. I make three or four trips to the water fountain at my job every day. Does that mean that I am hypovolemic? Does that mean that I have been severely flogged every work day? No. Clearly Metherell is making a hasty conclusion.

    Yes, it is possible that Jesus had been severely flogged prior to being crucified. Yes, it is possible that he was hypovolemic on the cross. But none of this is certain, and because there are good reasons to doubt the reliability and accuracy of the gospel accounts, and because the gospels provide few details relevant to making a medical diagnosis of Jesus' condition, we are stuck with little more than educated guesses, plausible hypotheses, and at the very most some modest probability claims.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Fortune's Blog said:

    "Was his info reliable ? Yes, of course it was, and when did he write this gospel…once again, Historians say that these gospel's where written, no more than 1-7yrs later…."

    ====================

    Response:

    I don't know about the crowd you hang with, but around here "Of course it was" is not considered an argument or evidence for the historical reliablity of a book or document about Jesus, unless you happen to be a recognized expert on the historical Jesus or on the NT.

    However, any recognized scholar in these areas would not need to be reminded that facts and evidence are required to support such historical generalizations, so no such expert would ever dream of saying "Of course it was" without also providing a truckload full of facts and data to support such a claim. Therefore, I am completely confident that you have no scholarly expertise in this area.

    Your next comment removes all doubt about this conclusion.

    I am not aware of ANY NT scholar who dates ANY of the four gospels as "no more than 1-7 yrs" after the crucifixion.

    Perhaps you meant to say 1-7 DECADES after the crucifixion? Even so, the gospel of Mark is believed to be the earliest gospel by most NT scholars, and it is usually dated 65-70 CE, which is about four decades after the crucifixion.

    Thus even the much weaker claim that the gospels were written 1-7 DECADES after the crucifixion is NOT something that NT or Jesus scholars would generally agree with, and I think you would be hard pressed to find more than a few legitimate NT scholars who would date Mark prior to 60 CE, 3 DECADES after the crucifixion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Fortune's Blog said:

    "1st. John Mark, who was with the apostle Paul and Barnabas wrote the gospel of Mark, and was he at the crucifixion= no, however, he received his information from (as most scholars believe) the apostle peter…"

    1. What is your evidence that John Mark, who was with Paul and Barnabas wrote the gospel of Mark?

    2. What is your evidence that the gospel of Mark is based directly on the testimony of Peter?

    3. What is your evidence that Peter was an eyewitness to the Roman trial and crucifixion of Jesus?

    4. What is your evidence that the testimony of Peter would have been accurate and reliable testimony?

    5. What is your evidence that the author of Mark carefully preserved the testimony of Peter and did not add several details to the accounts of the trials and crucifixion which did not come from Peter, but were added either for dramatic or theological purposes (fictional details) or on the basis of decades-old legends (dubious details)?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    A bit of needed perspective for noloanfan34 and Fortune's Blog from a fellow believer who has devoted his entire adult life to defending the resurrection and other basic Christian beliefs:

    It is naive and outdated to simply trot out the dilemma "Liar, Lunatic,or Lord" and adduce several proof texts where Jesus claims to be the Son of God, the Messiah, and so forth. The publicity generated by the Jesus Seminar has rendered that approach forever obsolete. Rather, if an apologetic based on the claims of Christ is to work, we must do the requisite spadework of sorting out those claims of Jesus that can be established as authentic, and then drawing out their implications. This will involve not only mastering Greek, but also the methods of modern criticism and the criteria of authenticity. Far from being easy, historical apologetics, if done right, is every bit as difficult as philosophical apologetics. The only reason some people think historical apologetics to be easier is because they do it superficially. But, of course, one can do philosophical apologetics superficially, too! My point is that if we are to do a credible job in our apologetics, we need to do the hard thinking and the hard work required, or at least to rely on those who have. – William Craig

    (Reasonable Faith, revised edition, 1994, p. 253)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Lets engage in a little bit of fantasy, and suppose that nolanfan34 and Fortune's Blog teamed up and did "the hard thinking and the hard work required" to provide a solid historical case for the following claims:

    1. Peter was very probably (probability = .9) an eyewitness to the Roman trial and crucifixion of Jesus.

    2. If Peter was an eyewitness to the Roman trial and crucifixion of Jesus, then his testimony about the details of those events would be very reliable (about 90% of the details would have been correct).

    3. It is very probable (probability = .9) that the accounts of the Roman trial and crucifixion in the gospel of Mark are based directly on the testimony of Peter about those events.

    4. The author of Mark carefully preserved the testimony of Peter about the Roman trial and crucifixion of Jesus (so that 90% of the details come from Peter's testimony, and only 10% are fictional or legendary or corruptions of his testimony).

    It is extremely unlikely that anyone will ever succeed in establishing these strong historical claims. Certainly, no one has managed to do so in the past twenty centuries. But what if nolanfan34 and Fortune’s Blog stumbled upon new evidence and new powerful arguments to support these claims? What would be the outcome?

    The probabilities need to be multiplied because each assumption plays a role in determining the overall reliability of the accounts of the Roman trial and crucifixion of Jesus as found in the gospel of Mark:

    .9 x .9 x .9 x .9 = .81 x .81 = .6561 or about 2 chances in 3.

    This amazing feat of historical scholarship would allow nolanfan34 and Fortune’s Blog to justify the following claim:

    Jesus was probably (2 chances out of 3) flogged before he was crucified.

    Notice that this is not even proof that Jesus was SEVERELY flogged, which would be needed to make a strong case for the death of Jesus on the cross. That stronger claim could only be established at some lower degree of probability (perhaps a probability of .4 or .5).

    This is nowhere near the sort of certainty required to support an extraordinary claim, such as that a man died, remained dead for about 36 hours, and then came back to life.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    You keep harping on the fact that the Gospel accounts do not all tell the same story. Let us take the following example. Five people witness an automobile accident. When the police interview each witness, they should not expect to get the same testimony from each witness. In fact if they did, that would seem to indicate some kind of colussion. Each witness is going to describe the accident from their own unique perspective and point of view. Different people have a different eye for details. It is only by taking all of the witnesses testimonies into account that the police will get the most accurate picture of what happened. It is the same with the Gospel accounts. Each of the Gospel writers remember different aspects of the crucifixion story, but when the four Gospel accounts are read together we get the most accurate picture of what occurred that weekend. Just because John's Gospel does not mention that Jesus fell while carrying His cross does not mean that it did not happen. That would be like saying in the example of the car wreck that four of the witnesses mention the person that caused the wreck was sending a text message and one did not. Does that mean that the police disregard the testimony of four people who mention it just because one did not. I would say not. The same applies for the Gospel accounts. Just because John does not mention that Jesus fell does not mean it did not happen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    Therefore just because the Gospels do not all say the same thing, does not mean they are not accurate as to the information presented within them. Just as I mentioned in the previous example. If the Gospel accounts all said the same thing, then you would have what would appear to be colussion. That would seem to be a more valid argument for questioning their reliability than the fact they do not all tell the same story verbatim down the line.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    noloanfan34 said:

    "Each of the Gospel writers remember different aspects of the crucifixion story, but when the four Gospel accounts are read together we get the most accurate picture of what occurred that weekend."

    ========

    Response:

    The authors of Mark and Luke were clearly NOT eyewintesses of the trials and crucifixion of Jesus. So, your analogy (with multiple eyewitnesses of a car accident) is a poor one.

    If the same is true of the authors of Matthew and John, then your analogy is completely broken.

    My view is that none of the Gospels, including Matthew and John, were written by an eyewitness of the trials and crucifixion of Jesus. So, from my viewpoint, your analogy is completely broken.

    Let's consider the authorhip of Matthew:

    "The bottom line is that very few scholars believe this Gospel was written or compiled by Matthew, the disciple of Jesus. The Gospel itself makes no such connection, and the Church's tradition to this effect seems relatively late and confused. Most scholars think that this Gospel uses Mark as a principle source. If its author had the advantage of having been an eyewitness to the events that Mark reports, we would expect him to offer greater detail, filling in the blanks left by Mark's sketchy accounts. But this is not the case. The Gospel of Matthew adds very little of a historical nature to Mark's report of Jesus' ministry."
    (Mark Powell, Fortress Introduction to The Gospels, p.71-72)

    So, it is very unlikely that Matthew (the disciple of Jesus) wrote the Gospel of Matthew.

    Suppose, however, that most NT scholars are mistaken, and that the Gospel of Matthew was in fact written by the disciple of Jesus named Matthew. It does not follow that the Gospel of Matthew was written by an eyewitness to the Roman trials and crucifixion of Jesus.

    (continued in another comment)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Response to nolanfan34 (continued)

    If the Gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew the disciple of Jesus, then we would need to take very seriously the report of the Gospel of Matthew that when Jesus was arrested, "all the disciples deserted him and fled." (Matt. 26:56). We would need to take very seriously the fact that the Gospel of Matthew does not report the presence of any of the twelve disciples of Jesus at the Roman trial, the crucifixion, or the burial of Jesus, but does mention the presence of some women who were followers of Jesus at the crucifixion and the burial of Jesus.

    This information strongly suggests that the twelve disciples went into hiding after Jesus was arrested. It only makes sense that they would fear for their lives and try to avoid the very fate that awaited Jesus.

    But in this case, Matthew,being one of the inner circle of twelve male disciples of Jesus, would have been in hiding during the Roman trial, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus, and thus not an eyewitness to these crucial events.

    In conclusion, as most NT scholars believe, the Gospel of Matthew was very probably NOT written by the disciple Matthew. But even if these NT scholars are mistaken, Matthew the disciple of Jesus was probably not an eyewitness to the crucial events of the Roman trial, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus.

    Let's do a litte math on the probabilties here. The Gospel of Matthew was very probably (probability = .8) not written by Matthew the disciple of Jesus. That still leaves some chance that it was written by Matthew the disciple of Jesus (.2).

    If Matthew was written by Matthew the disicple of Jesus, then it is probable (probability = .7) that Matthew the disiciple of Jesus was NOT an eyewitness to the Roman trial, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus. That still leaves a chance that Matthew the disciple of Jesus was an eyewitness to one or more of those events (.3).

    Based on these assumptions, what is the probability that the Gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew the disciple and that Matthew the disciple was an eyewitness to one or more of the crucial events (i.e. Roman trial, crucifixion, burial)?

    .2 x .3 = .06

    = about 1 chance in 10.

    So, we can set aside the three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) as not being written by eyewitnesses of these crucial events: Roman trial of Jesus, crucifixion of Jesus, burial of Jesus. That leaves only the Gospel of John to be considered. But your analogy is already broken, since it requires the comparison of two or more eyewitness accounts.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Bradley Bowen (yours truly) said:

    The probabilities need to be multiplied because each assumption plays a role in determining the overall reliability of the accounts of the Roman trial and crucifixion of Jesus as found in the gospel of Mark:

    .9 x .9 x .9 x .9 = .81 x .81 = .6561 or about 2 chances in 3.

    This amazing feat of historical scholarship would allow nolanfan34 and Fortune’s Blog to justify the following claim:

    Jesus was probably (2 chances out of 3) flogged before he was crucified.
    ============
    Comment:

    This is a bit of an oversimplification, so I will now attempt to deal with some of the complexities here.

    The actual conclusion supported by the strong historical claims (that I imagined nonlanfan34 and Fortune's Blog finding new evidence and arguments to prove) is this:

    It is very probable (i.e. probability = .8) that Mark's account of the Roman trial and crucifixion of Jesus is somewhat reliable (i.e. about 80% of details are correct).

    This conclusion still supports my skepticism about the possibility of establishing the death of Jesus on the cross to the degree of certainty required for proving the extraordinary claim that Jesus died on a Friday afternoon and then came back to life about 36 hours later, early on Sunday morning.

    But this conclusion leaves open a few significant questions, for example:

    What is the overall probability that Mark's account of the Roman trial and crucifixion is at least 80% reliable?

    What is the overall probablility that Mark's account of the Roman trial and crucifixion is at least 90% reliable?

    To answer these questions, we need to consider other possibile combinations of circumstances besides the "hoped for" circumstance (i.e. Peter was an eyewitness of these events, and Mark's account is based primarily on Peter's eyewitness account).

    Assumptions that need to be considered:

    1. Peter was an eyewitness of the Roman trial of Jesus.

    2. Peter was an eyewitness of the crucifixion of Jesus.

    3. Mark's account of the Roman trial of Jesus is based primarily on Peter's testimony.

    4. Mark's account of the crucifixion of Jesus is based primarily on Peter's testimony.

    Each of these assumptions might be true or might be false, and that gives several logical possibilities:

    1 2 3 4

    T T T T
    T F T T
    F T T T
    F F T T

    T T T F
    T F T F
    F T T F
    F F T F

    T T F T
    T F F T
    F T F T
    F F F T

    T T F F
    T F F F
    F T F F
    F F F F

    One possibility is that Mark's account of the Roman trial was based primarily on Peter's testimony, but Peter was not an eyewitness to the Roman trial. That particular set of cirucmstances would presumably result in a lower level of reliability than if Peter had been an eyewitness to the Roman trail.

    Another possibility is that Peter was an eyewitness to the Roman trial, but Mark's account is NOT based primarily on Peter's testimony. This would not necessarily mean that the account of the Roman trial was unreliable, because the account in Mark might be based on some other person's eyewitness testimony. So, there is at least the logical possibility that a "non-hoped for" set of cicrumstances would actually mean increased, rather than decreased reliability.

    For example, suppose that Mark interviewed several eyewitnesses of the Roman trial, and suppose that Mark was a genius at detective-like reasoning, so that Mark was able to carefully compare the different and sometimes conflicting testimonies and come up with an account that was even more reliable than the reliability of any one single person's testimony.

    The problem with such an ideal set of circumstances, however, is that there is no good reason to believe that such a possibility was actually realized. But, it does show that there is a greater level of complexity to the evaluation of the reliability of Mark's account of the Roman trial and crucifixion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Since a key issue is whether Jesus was severely flogged prior to being crucified, we can focus in on the question of the reliability of Mark's account of the Roman trial, and thus reduce some of the complexity that I mentioned in the previous comment.

    The four assumptions that I mentioned can be reduced to two (assuming that the flogging was part of the account of the Roman trial of Jesus):

    1. Peter was an eyewitness of the Roman trial of Jesus.

    2. Mark's account of the Roman trial of Jesus is based primarily on Peter's testimony.

    Now we can look at just four logical possibilities:

    (1) (2)

    T T

    T F

    F T

    F F

    The fist row represents the possibliity that (1)and (2) are both true. This is the "hoped for" condition, from the point of view of Christian believers who wish to provide a rational defense of the belief that Jesus rose from the dead.

    We can also modify the reliability-focused historical claims to focus in on the account of the Roman trial:

    3. If Peter was an eyewitness to the Roman trial, then Peter's testimony about the Roman trial would be 90% reliable (about 90% of the details would be correct).

    4. If Mark's account of the Roman trial is based primarily on Peter's testimony, then 90% of the details in that account correspond to Peter's testimony (only about 10% coming from other sources, like legend, imagination, or corruptions of Peter's testimony).

    Under the "hoped for" conditions, where (1) and (2) are true, Mark's account of the Roman trial would be about 80% reliable (about 80% of the details in the account would be correct).

    Based on the ideal situation described previously (where nolanfan34 and Fortune's Blog discover new evidence to support claims (1) and (2) as each being very probable (probability = .9), then they could argue that it was likely (probability = .8) that Mark's account of the Roman trial was about 80% reliable.

    Let's consider the three other logical possibilities.

    It could be true that Peter was an eyewitness of the Roman trial, but false that Mark's account of the Roman trial was based primarily on Peter's testimony.

    In this case, it is difficult to assign a likely level of reliability to Mark's account of the Roman trial. If Mark had contact with some other eyewitness of the events, then his account of the Roman trial could be just as reliable as if it were based on Peter's testimony (about 80% reliable). But if Mark's account of the Roman trial was based primarily on a combination of legend and imagination, then it might be completely unreliable (say, 20%-30% reliable).

    If we don't know the source of Mark's information, then we need some other way of judging reliability to make a reasonable estimate of the reliability of Mark's account of the Roman trial (such as by evaluating Mark's reliability concerning other events or aspects of Jesus' ministry, if possible).

    What if Peter was NOT an eyewitness to the Roman trial, but Mark's account was based primarily on Peter's testimony about the Roman trial. Obviously, this is a less ideal situation, from the point of view of defenders of the resurrection. If Peter was not an eyewitness, then his testimony is unlikely to be highly reliable.

    Peter presumably had access to some eyewitnesses of the Roman trial, so it is likely that most of his beliefs about those events were based on testimony from eyewitnesses. But introducing a "middle man" between the eyewitness and the author of Mark increases the likelyhood of false or inaccurate details in the account of the Roman trial.

    So, on this scenario the reliability of Mark's account of the Roman trial would need to be reduced a bit, from 80% to about 70%, assuming that Peter was careful to preserve the information that he received.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    The fourth possibility is that Peter was not an eyewitness to the Roman trial and that Mark's account of the Roman trial was not based primarily on Peter's testimony. This is the view of most NT scholars, and the possibility that I believe is most likely to be the case.

    Once again, if Peter was not the primary source for Mark's account of the Roman trial of Jesus, then it is difficult to determine the likely degree of reliability of this account.

    On the one hand, the author of Mark might have had access to some other eyewitness of the Roman trial, and thus produced an account just as reliable as in the "hoped for" condition (where Peter was an eyewitness and the primary source of info for Mark's account of the Roman trial).

    On the other hand, the author of Mark could have based his account on oral traditions, legends, and his own imagination, producing an account that was very unreliable (say, 20%-30% reliable).

    So, we can make a reasonable estimate of the reliability of Mark's account of the Roman trial in two of the four possible cases, but in the other two cases, we have a wide range for the reliability (between 20% and 80%).

    In order to arrive at an overall conclusion with some degree of usefulness, I'm going to assume a smaller range for the problematic cases. I will assume that Mark's account would be between 30% and 70% reliable (or 50% plus or minus 20%) in the two cases where Peter was not the primary source of information for the account of the Roman trial.

    I can do one set of calculations using the 50% reliability estimate for the problematic cases, and another set of calculations using the 70% reliability estimate for those cases, and a third set of calculations for the 30% reliability estimate, and then we can consider and compare the three overall conclusions.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    Your standard for determining whether information is reliable or not (at least as it concerns the Bible) seems to be that the Gospel writers were eyewitnesses to the Passion weekend events. Do you maintain the same standards for what you read in the newspaper, watch on television, or read on the internet. The information one gets from the newspaper and evening news is usually not eyewitness testimony from the person who writes the article or gives the story on the news, that is why it is called reporting. The news anchors and newspaper writers have interviewed eyewitnesses and are reporting what they saw. The same is true for the Gospels. The Gospel writers took what they witnessed first hand along with the eyewitness testimony of other people to compose an accurate and 100% true account of the birth, live, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    You continue to claim that I make assumptions based upon Scripture. Are you not doing the same? You say Matthew and Mark imply that the disciples went into hiding when Jesus was crucified and left Jerusalem before seeing the risen Jesus (implying that the first sightings of the risen Jesus took place in Galilee a week or two after the crucifixion.) All Matthew says is "Then all the disciples left Him and fled." Matthew 26:56 Mark says the same, "And they all left Him and fled." Mark 14:50 This does not mean that the disciples fled Jerusalem. It only means they fled the Garden of Gethsemane. For you to imply that the disciples left Jerusalem is not stated in the text. Since John tells us the Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room the evening of His resurrection, then the truth of the matter is the disciples did not indeed flee Jerusalem, but only fled from the garden. You also claim that the fact John states that when Jesus was stabbed with the spear and out flowed blood and water is not proof that Jesus died on the cross. John 19:32-34 reads, "The soldiers therefore came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water. The Romans adopted crucifixion from the Assyrians and perfected it as their form of capital punishment. The Roman soldiers knew how to kill a person and what a dead person looked like. John's statement that Jesus was pierced and out flowed blood and water is proof Jesus was dead and his death occurred while hanging on the cross. When the pericardial sack around the heart was punctured with the spear the fluid from the sack would have come out of the wound as well as the blood from the heart.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Nolanfan34 said:

    "Your standard for determining whether information is reliable or not (at least as it concerns the Bible) seems to be that the Gospel writers were eyewitnesses to the Passion weekend events. Do you maintain the same standards for what you read in the newspaper, watch on television, or read on the internet. The information one gets from the newspaper and evening news is usually not eyewitness testimony from the person who writes the article or gives the story on the news, that is why it is called reporting."
    ================
    Response:

    Good question.

    1. It is not a black-or-white matter of reliable vs. unreliable. My point is that any reasonable assessment of the reliability of the Gospel accounts of the Roman trial will allow for a degree of reliability, but that the highest degree that one can reasonably assign to those accounts falls significantly short of 100% thus making the accounts insufficiently reliable to use as proof of a miracle claim.

    2. Most of what is reported in the news does NOT constitute extraordinary claims or miracle claims. So, I apply the same skepticism to newspaper reports, recognizing that they too fall significantly short of 100% reliability, but because only ordinary claims are at issue (most of the time), this lower degree of reliability is acceptable and sufficient for forming reasonable beliefs on those issues.

    If my local news station reports that somebody died, remained dead for about 36 hours, and then came back to life, I would similarly conclude that the 80% to 90% reliability of news broadcasts is insufficient to verify such a claim.

    I would not say that my local news station was unreliable, just that the degree of reliability that one can reasonably assign to that station is not anywhere near what is required to establish such a miracle claim.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Nolanfan34 said:

    "The Gospel writers took what they witnessed first hand along with the eyewitness testimony of other people to compose an accurate and 100% true account of the birth, live, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ."

    ================
    Response:

    Your wishing that the authors of the Gospels were eyewitnesses of the Roman trial, the crucifixion, and the burial of Jesus does not make it true that they were eyewitnesses of those events.

    If you take the time to do the hard thinking and hard work required to arrive at reasonable historical conclusions, you will find that NT scholars do not believe that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses of those events. You will also find that there is not much in the way of evidence that would support your assumption to the contrary.

    You are free to believe whatever tickles your fancy, but your wishing that something is the case doesn't count as a reason or evidence that it is the case.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Nolanfan34 said:

    "You continue to claim that I make assumptions based upon Scripture. Are you not doing the same?"

    Response:

    If by "Scripture" you mean the Gospels, then both you and I make conclusions or inferences about Jesus on the basis of the Gospels. There is not much choice about this, because the Gospels are the best historical sources that we have about Jesus.

    You, however, naively and incorrectly assume that the Gospel accounts are 100% accurate and reliable. They are not, and there is no good reason or evidence showing that they are that accurate and reliable.

    I believe that it is probable (but not certain) that the Gospels are somewhat reliable (in the 70% to 80% range). So, I can draw conclusions from the Gospel accounts, but those conclusions are almost always (with a few exceptions) only probable to some degree (.6 or .7 or .8).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Nolanfan34 said:

    "You say Matthew and Mark imply that the disciples went into hiding when Jesus was crucified and left Jerusalem before seeing the risen Jesus (implying that the first sightings of the risen Jesus took place in Galilee a week or two after the crucifixion.) All Matthew says is "Then all the disciples left Him and fled." Matthew 26:56 Mark says the same, "And they all left Him and fled." Mark 14:50 This does not mean that the disciples fled Jerusalem. It only means they fled the Garden of Gethsemane. For you to imply that the disciples left Jerusalem is not stated in the text."
    =================

    Response:

    The conclusion that the disciples left Jerusalem before seeing the risen Jesus is based on more than just the passages indicating that the disciples fled when Jesus was arrested.

    Why did they flee? Why did they not show up at the crucifixion? Why did they not help remove Jesus from the cross or bury Jesus? Were they all sick and in bed? Did they all get drunk and have really bad headaches? Did they all take a hike and get lost?

    The hypothesis that they went into hiding explains a number of details.

    As for the first sightings of Jesus being in Galilee, other passages need to be considered:

    "But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." (Mark 12:28)

    "He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee." (Mark 16:6-7)

    See also Matthew 28:5-10 and 16-17.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Nolanfan34 said:
    "Since John tells us the Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room the evening of His resurrection, then the truth of the matter is the disciples did not indeed flee Jerusalem, but only fled from the garden."
    ==========

    Response:

    Your conclusion would be justified if there was good reason to believe that the Gospel of John was highly reliable, but as I previously pointed out, most NT scholars and Jesus scholars agree that the Gospel of John is a highly unreliable source for the words and teachings of Jesus.

    If the fourth Gospel is an unreliable source for the words and teachings of Jesus, that gives us good reason to doubt the reliability of this Gospel in relation to other historical matters.

    Furthermore, almost all NT and Jesus scholars agree that John was the last of the Gospels to be written, and that it was probably composed about six or seven decades after the crucifixion of Jesus.

    So, when there is an apparent inconsistency between John on the one hand and Mark and Matthew on the other, the accounts of Mark and Matthew should be given preference, other things being equal.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Nolanfan34 said:

    "John's statement that Jesus was pierced and out flowed blood and water is proof Jesus was dead and his death occurred while hanging on the cross. When the pericardial sack around the heart was punctured with the spear the fluid from the sack would have come out of the wound as well as the blood from the heart."

    ==========
    Response:

    1. I doubt that Jesus was pierced with a spear.

    The Gospel of John is an unreliable historical source, and no other Gospel mentions the spear incident.

    No other Gospel mentions any of the several related events surrounding the spear incident that are reported in John(beloved disciple at the cross, Jesus talking from the cross, breaking of the legs, spearing, wound in the side, Jesus showing the wound in his side, Jesus showing wound to doubting Thomas).

    The breaking of the legs of the other victims can be explained as "prophecy historicized", and the flow of blood and water can be explained as fiction for the purpose of theological symbolism
    (communion and baptism, atonement and the spirit, ordinary birth and supernatural rebirth).

    John's account of the breaking of the legs is inconsistent with the account in other Gospels, because according to John, Pilate had the legs of the crucified men broken in order to kill them quickly (Jn. 19:31-34), but in Mark's account when Joseph of Arimathea asks for Jesus' body, Pilate does not know whether Jesus was dead or not, and asks a centurion to check (Mark 15:42-45)

    If John's account was accurate, then Pilate would have already given the order to have the crucified men finished off, and would not be in doubt about whether Jesus was dead. In John's account Pilate has no doubts or hesitation about whether Jesus was dead, and he immediately authorizes Josephus to take Jesus body (Jn. 19:38).

    2. If Jesus was pierced by a spear, we don't know precisely where the spear wound was or how deep it was, so we don't know whether the spear tip came close to Jesus' heart or not.

    3. I'm still waiting for solid scientific evidence that supports your medical claim that "Blood and water coming forth is exactly the result one would expect from piercing the heart of a dead person."

    What is your evidence for this claim?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    When the pericardial sack which protects the heart was punctured with the spear the fluid from the sack would have come out of the wound as well as the blood from the heart. Thus John's claim that blood and water flowed from the wound would be valid. You are now contradicting your own argument. You continue to say that for the Gospel accounts to be true, they must be eye witness testimony. John confirms in chapter 19 verse 35 of his Gospel, he was indeed an eyewitness to the death of Jesus. John 19:35 reads, "And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe." Then again in 1 John 1:1-5, John confirms he was an eye witness to Jesus' entire life and ministry. John 1:1-5, "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life– and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us– what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. This provides proof John was indeed an eyewitness to the death of Jesus, and from your line of reasoning the Gospel of John should be the most reliable of the Gospel accounts since there is proof of him being an eyewitness. Using this line of reasoning, all of the events you want to discount because they are only in John's gospel (the spear, breaking of legs etc.) would be expected to be the kind of additional information provided by an eyewitness.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    In John's account the Jews come to Pilate asking that the legs be broken to hasten their deaths in order that the bodies would not be on the cross during the Sabbath. Your argument that Mark and John conflict does not hold water. In John, the Jews come and ask that their legs be broken. Pilate gives the command not knowing whether any of the victims were already dead. In Mark when Joseph comes asking for the body, Pilate has given the command to have the legs broken if necessary, but still does not know who if any of the victims are dead. Thus he asks the centurion to find out whether Jesus has indeed died. This agrees with the Gospel of John because John says Joseph of Arimathea comes and asks for the body after the legs are broken and Jesus is speared. When Pilate finds out that Jesus is indeed dead using the information from Mark, he then grants Joseph request to have the body. As I mentioned before, each of the Gospel writers just as eyewitnesses in a car accident have a different perspective from which they saw events and all of the Gospel accounts must be read together to get the full picture of what occurred that weekend.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    The two key claims are as follows:

    (1)Peter was an eyewitness to the Roman trial of Jesus.
    (2)The author of Mark used Peter’s testimony as the primary source for his account of the Roman trial.

    There are four logical possibilities concerning the truth or falsity of these claims:

    12

    TT
    TF
    FT
    FF

    I.Peter was an eyewitness and the primary source for Mark’s account.

    Since it is probable that Peter and the other male disciples in the inner circle of the twelve were in hiding during the Roman trial, it is probable (probabilty = .7) that Peter was NOT an eyewitness to the Roman trial. So, there is only a low probability (=.3) that Peter was an eyewitness to the Roman trial.

    Suppose, however, that Peter was in fact an eyewitness to the Roman trial. What is the probability, on this assumption, that Peter was Mark’s primary source of info about this event? That depends primarily on how probable it is that the ancient Church tradition that the Gospel of Mark was written by an associate of Peter’s who used Peter as the main source of information for his Gospel. NT scholars generally doubt this claim, though it is not considered to be disproved or completely excluded.

    Also, if it is true that the author of Mark was an associate of Peter, and that Peter was an important source of information for the Gospel of Mark, this does not mean that the account of the Roman trial was based primarily on Peter’s testimony. Mark could have used other sources of information for that particular event in addition to, or instead of, Peter’s testimony. I would estimate that it is probable (=.6) that the author of Mark did NOT use Peter’s testimony as his primary source for his account of the Roman trial, even assuming that Peter was an eyewitness of the Roman trial. This means that it is somewhat improbable (=.4) that Peter was the primary source for Mark’s account of the Roman trial.

    So, the probability of the “hoped for” condition I, is .3 x .4 = .12
    or about 1 chance in 10.

    We previously saw that in this "hoped for" condition, the reliability of Mark's account of the Roman trial would be about 80%.

    So, I estimate that there is about 1 chance in 10 that the "hoped for" condition was the case and in that case the reliability of Mark's account of the Roman trial would be about 80%.

    II. Peter was an eyewitness of the Roman trial but Mark did NOT use Peter's testimony as the primary source for his account of the Roman trial.

    I have already estimated the probability that Peter was an eyewitness of the Roman trial to be low (=.3) and I have estimated that is was somewhat probable that Mark did NOT use Peter's testimony as the primary source for his account of the Roman trial (=.6). So the probability that logical possibility II is the case can be calculated as follows:

    .3 x .6 = .18

    or about 2 chances in 10.

    For logical possibility II, it is difficult to pin down a reliability estimate for Mark, but I previously suggested that we use a range of reliability here (50% plus or minus 20%).

    Thus, there is about 2 chances in 10 that conditions were such that Mark's account of the Roman trial would be between 30% and 70% reliable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    III. Peter was not an eyewitness to the Roman trial but Mark used Peter's testimony as the primary source for his account of the Roman trial.

    I previously estimated that it is probable (=.7) that Peter was not an eyewitness to the Roman trial. Assuming that he was not an eyewitness, this would make it somewhat less likely that Mark would use Peter's testimony as the primary source for his account of the Roman trial.

    However, Peter probably had access to eyewitnesses of the Roman trial, and Peter was a leader in the early Church and a prominent evangelist, so his not being an eyewitness to the Roman trial would not be a powerful or overwhelming consideration for the author of Mark. Therefore, I would only modestly lower the probability that Mark used Peter as his primary source for the Roman trial based on Peter's not being an eyewitness (lowering the probability from .4 to .3).

    The estimated probabability that logical possibility III holds is as follows:

    .7 x .3 = .21

    or about 2 chances in 10.

    On this scenario, I previously estimated the reliability of Mark's account of the Roman trial to be about 70%. So, there would be 2 chances in 10 that conditions would be such that Mark's account of the Roman trial would be about 70% reliable.

    IV. Peter was not an eyewitness of the Roman trial and Mark did not use Peter as the primary source for his account of the Roman trial.

    It is probable (=.7) that Peter was not an eyewitness to the Roman trial. Given that Peter was not an eyewitness of this event, it is probable (=.7) that Mark did not use Peter as the primary source for his account of the Roman trial.

    The probability that logical possibility IV is the case is as follows:

    .7 x .7 = .49

    or about 5 chances in 10.

    Once again, since Peter is not Mark's primary source on this scenario, it is difficult to assign a level of reliability here. I suggest we use the same range of reliability as with logical possibility II: 30% to 70%.

    So, there is about 5 chances in 10 that conditions were such that Mark's account of the Roman trial has a reliability between 30% and 70%.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    We can combine the conclusions about logical possibilities I and III as follows:

    There are about 3 chances in 10 that conditions were such that Mark's account of the Roman trial would be between about 70% and 80% reliable.

    We can also combine the conclusions about logical possibilities II and IV as follows:

    There are about 7 chances in 10 that conditions were such that Mark's account of the Roman trial would be between about 30% and 70% reliable.

    These conclusions do not show that Mark's account of the Roman trial is unreliable and of no historical significance, but these conclusions do show that the level of reliability that one can reasonably assign to Mark's account of the Roman trial is not sufficiently high to base a miracle claim on the information found in that account.

    There are other ways to try to evaluate the reliability of the accounts of events found in the Gospels besides trying to determine whether a particular account comes directly from an eyewitness, so this is not the end of the story.

    But since Nolanfan34 and Fortune's Blog both want to base claims about the reliability of Gospel accounts on claims about those accounts being written by eyewitnesses or being based directly on eyewitness testimony, I think the above reasoning shows that this strategy is unlikely to work.

    They will not be able to establish a high enough level of reliability to support a miracle claim.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    It has become obvious that to continue this discussion based on Scripture and logic is futile, because Scripture is only valid and trustworthy when used in support of your arguments. When used in support of the death and resurrection it cannot be trusted. Therefore, I propose a new approach. Let's turn our attention to non-biblical sources. I challenge you to support your claim that the death and resurrection of Jesus is not valid based on facts provided by non-biblical sources and I will attempt to prove the claims are valid doing the same. This means that the information needs to be verifiable facts and not the opinion of the historical critical Bible scholars. I provide the following evidence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    Josephus in The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, Section 3 writes the following: (63) Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works-a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; (64) and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that love him at the first did not forsake him for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    Josephus includes the following dates. Jesus was condemned by Pilate April 3, A.D. 33 and was resurrected April 5.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History provides the following in Book 2, Chapter 2. It is entitled How Tiberius was affected when informed by Pilate, respecting Christ. (1) The fame of our Lord's remarkable resurrection and ascension being now spread abroad, according to an ancient custom prevalent among the rulers of the nations to communicate novel occurrences to the emperor that nothing might escape him, Pontius Pilate transmitted to Tiberius an account of the circumstances concerning the resurrection of our Lord from the dead, the report of which had already been spread throughout all Palestine. (2) In this account, he also intimated that he ascertained other miracles respecting him and that having now risen from the dead, he was believed to be a God by the great mass of the people. Tiberius referred the matter to the Senate, but it is said they rejected the proposition in appearance because they had not examined this subject first, according to an ancient law among the Romans, that no one should be ranked above the gods unless by a vote and decree of the Senate; in reality, however the salutary doctrine of the gospel needs no confirmation and cooperation of men.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Nolanfan34 said:

    You continue to say that for the Gospel accounts to be true, they must be eye witness testimony. John confirms in chapter 19 verse 35 of his Gospel, he was indeed an eyewitness to the death of Jesus. John 19:35 reads, "And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe."

    Response: NT scholars are aware of this verse, but most NT scholars reject your conclusion.

    "As with the other Gospels it is doubted by most scholars that this Gospel [John] was written by an eyewitness of the public ministry of Jesus." (An Introduction to the New Testament by Raymond Brown, p.368-369)

    "AUTHOR DETECTABLE FROM THE CONTENTS [of John]: One who regards himself in the tradition of the disciple whom Jesus loved." (An Introduction to the New Testament by Raymond Brown, p.334)

    "A common understanding of the Beloved Disciple is that he is a person who heard and followed Jesus, although he was not one of the Twelve. …He exercised a role of leadership in one group of early Christian congregations, probably gathering a group of disciples around him. One (or more) of his disciples wrote the Gospel [John], but preserved, shaped, and interpreted the witness of his master, the Beloved Disciple, who had in turn interpreted the teaching of the Master himself." (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, p. 370, from the article "John, Gospel of" by M.M. Thompson.)

    Was the beloved disciple the fourth evangelist? Such an argument is still common in some circles of scholarship, but remains unlikely. It would seem presumptuous of the author to have claimed that special status for himself and far more likely that it is a status given to the revered founder of the community. …
    Connected with this question is the query as to whether or not the author was an eyewitness to the historical Jesus. The supposition that the author was one and the same with the beloved disciple is often advanced as a means of insuring that the evangelist did witness Jesus’ ministry. Two other passages are advanced as evidence of the same—19:35 and 21:24. But both falter under close scrutiny. 19:35 does not claim that the author was the one who witnessed the scene but only that the scene is related on the sound basis of eyewitness. 21:24 is part of the appendix of the gospel and should not be assumed to have come from the same hand as that responsible for the body of the gospel. Neither of these passages, therefore, persuades many Johannine scholars that the author claims eyewitness status.
    (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, from the article “John, the Gospel of.” by Robert Kysar )

    Despite the designation of him as “the one who has written these things” (21:24a), the BD [= Beloved Disciple] is hardly the literal author of the Gospel of John. That an early Christian leader would write himself into the gospel under such a pretentious title as “beloved disciple” is scarcely to be imagined. It is far more likely that the community, which revered him as founder and guide, conferred the epithet upon him (perhaps posthumously) and that in due course their representative in the shape of the Evangelist wrote him into the gospel. It could be that the BD was responsible for a collection of traditions in distinctly Johannine form which served as the Evangelist’s primary source. But the Greek phrase ho grapsas tauta need not imply any written activity on the part of the BD, since it can be taken in the causative sense and understood simply as designating the BD’s witness as the ultimate source and authority for the written gospel.
    (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, from the article “Beloved Disciple” by Brendan Byrne)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Nolanfan34 said:

    It has become obvious that to continue this discussion based on Scripture and logic is futile, because Scripture is only valid and trustworthy when used in support of your arguments. When used in support of the death and resurrection it cannot be trusted.
    ===========

    Response:
    You are implying that I use a double-standard concerning the reliability of the Gospel accounts, but you give no evidence or examples to support your accusation.
    Your accusation is false and unfair.

    You tried earlier to make me out as inconsistent in how I treat the Gospel accounts vs. how I treat the news media, and I clearly explained how I treat both in a similar manner: as somewhat reliable but not sufficiently reliable to be used to prove a miracle claim.

    My position is not that the Gospels are all completely unreliable, but rather that the synoptic Gospels are somewhat reliable, and the that Gospel of John is somewhat unreliable.

    I don't evaluate the Gospel of John as having the same reliability as Mark, and so I treat these Gospels differently. There are good reasons to doubt the reliability of the Gospel of John, so this is not a case of applying a double-standard. There are real and significant differences between these Gospels, and an examination of those differences justifies assigning a different degree of reliability to Mark than to John.

    Mark is the earliest and most reliable of the four Gospels, but the reliability of Mark is, as I have argued in previous comments, not sufficient to provide evidence that would prove a miracle claim.

    If I am correct in viewing John as less reliable than Mark, then your attempt to prove that Jesus died on the cross based on details that are found only in the Gospel of John is bound to fail.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Nolanfan34 said:

    Therefore, I propose a new approach. Let's turn our attention to non-biblical sources. I challenge you to support your claim that the death and resurrection of Jesus is not valid based on facts provided by non-biblical sources and I will attempt to prove the claims are valid doing the same.

    ============
    Response:
    The Gospels are the best historical sources we have on Jesus, and especially on the crucifixion of Jesus.

    So, if you give up using the Gospels, then you have given up trying to prove that Jesus died on the cross, and thus given up trying to prove that Jesus rose from the dead.

    I'm not trying to prove that Jesus survived the crucifixion. I'm only trying to show you, and others, that the sketchy and unreliable evidence that we have is not sufficient to prove a miracle claim.

    The level of reliability of the Gospel accounts would be sufficient to show that some man had been killed by a certain means, as an ordinary historical claim.

    But you are not simply making an ordinary historical claim. You want to make the extraordinary claim that Jesus died on the cross, remained dead for about 36 hours, and then came back to life. Such an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence, and no such evidence exists.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    More on the author of the Gospel of John:

    The key to any discussion of authorship of the Gospel [John] is the Gospel’s own evidence about the relationship between the beloved disciple and the author of the Fourth Gospel. The “disciple whom Jesus loved” first appears at 13:23 and plays a prominent role in the last chapters of the Gospel (19:26-27; 20:3-10; 21:1-14, 20-24; see also 19:35). It is difficult to imagine that the author of the Gospel, who is so insistent on maintaining the anonymity of the disciple, would nonetheless refer to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” More important, there are two verses that explicitly distinguish the witness of the beloved disciple from the work of the author. Both 19:35 and 21:24 use a third-person pronoun to refer to the beloved disciple and his testimony and stress that this testimony is true. John 21:24 is especially important in this regard, “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.” The author of the Gospel thus claims eyewitness authority for the accounts in the Gospel, but points to another, the beloved disciple, as the source of that witness. The beloved disciple, therefore, is not the author of the Gospel, but is presented as the authorizing voice of the traditions that are recounted in the Gospel. (The New Interpreters Bible, Volume IX, p. 500, from “The Gospel of John” by Gail O’Day).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    More on the author of John:

    The Beloved Disciple is not the author of the Gospel–neither of chaps. 1-20 nor of chap. 21. This we deduced from the first mention of his name in 13:23 and from the implications of 21:21-24, despite the first impression which 21:24 may make. The texts in which the disciple features present him as the witness on which the Gospel rests, not its author.

    (Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 36: John, second edition, p. lxxii, by George Beasley-Murray)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    More on the author of John:

    My own view is that the main author [of John], whom I call 'the evangelist', tries to unite his community by transmitting the testimony of the beloved disciple.

    (The Oxford Bible Commentary, p. 961, from the section of the commentary on John, written by Rene Kieffer)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Concerning the passage quoted from Josephus…

    1. Why would Josephus, who was a Jew and not a Christian believer, make these comments?

    "a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works"

    "He was [the] Christ"

    The text of this passage appears to have been altered by Christian copyists who inserted their own comments (and beliefs) into the original text.

    2. Was Josephus present at the
    Roman trial of Jesus? at the crucifixion of Jesus? at the burial of Jesus? No, he never makes any such claim.

    3. Did Josephus get his information directly from an eyewitness who was present at the Roman trial, or at the crucifixon? No, he never makes any such claim to have spoken with an eyewitness to these events.

    4. Does Josephus provide details about the Roman trial or crucifixion, such as details that would confirm your key claim that Jesus had been SEVERELY flogged prior to being crucified? No, he does not provide such details.

    So, you have presented us with a corrupted text of the writings of a person who was not an eyewitness to the crucial events, and who makes no claim to have spoken to any eyewitnesses to those events, and who offers no details that would support your view that Jesus died on the cross (such as that Jesus was severely flogged or that Jesus was stabbed in the heart with a spear).

    This is pitiful!

    One more time, please consider William Craig's advice:

    Far from being easy, historical apologetics, if done right, is every bit as difficult as philosophical apologetics. The only reason some people think historical apologetics to be easier is because they do it superficially. But, of course, one can do philosophical apologetics superficially, too! My point is that if we are to do a credible job in our apologetics, we need to do the hard thinking and the hard work required, or at least to rely on those who have.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    nolanfan34:

    Thank you for your comments, arguments, and objections on this subject.

    I plan to go into silence for awhile, because I will be busy working daily on an article in the area of philosophy of religion, for the next month or two.

    You will probably see more posts from me in July or August. I hope to hear from you again.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    I was not giving up on trying to prove from Scripture that Jesus died on the cross or that he resurrected. As it says in 2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, correction, and training in righteousness." Therefore, I am convinced that Scripture is 100% accurate and true as to its historical facts. My point was that there are non biblical sources which also attest to the fact that Jesus died by means of crucifixion and was resurrected on the third day. As Eusebius wrote, the man responsible for giving the order to crucify Jesus, Pontius Pilate, testified to the fact that Jesus did indeed die on the cross and was resurrected when he transmitted a report to Tiberius. Pilate also attested to other miracles performed by Jesus.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    If Jesus did not die and was resurrected, how do you account for the change in the life of Paul? Paul was an opponent and persecutor of the early Christians. Paul clearly points out that the risen Jesus appeared personally to him. Paul makes this claim more than once (1 Cor. 9:1 & 1 Cor 15:8). Luke in the book of Acts, which gives the history of the early church, corroborates Paul's testimony in Acts 9:1-8, 22:3-11, and 26:9-18. Paul was persuaded he had seen the risen Christ, therefore he was an eyewitness to his own experience.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16260284316204500301 nolanfan34

    Or how about the remaining 11 disciples. What about the transformation in their lives? They were so convinced they had seen Jesus resurrected, all of them with the exception of John died a martyrs death for their faith. John was exiled to the isle of Patmos because of his faith. Therefore, all of the original 12 were persecuted and suffered because of their confession of Christ. Ultimately, whether one accepts the death and resurrection of Christ comes down to belief and faith. You can go through the gospels and point out what you consider inconsistencies, although I believe it is possible to harmonize all of them, or you can believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. As John wrote in John 20:30-31, "Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His Name." The decision is up to you. Will you step out in faith and believe what has been revealed in Scripture, or continue to find reasons not to believe?


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