13 Reasons to Reject the Christian Naysayer Hypothesis

13 Reasons to Reject the Christian Naysayer Hypothesis July 6, 2015

Apologists tell us that the gospels were written at a time when many disciples—the eyewitnesses—were still alive. If they heard an inaccurate story, they’d say, “I was there, and that’s not the way it happened!” They’d shut it down. An incorrect version of the story would not have survived. Said another way, that our gospel story did survive means that it avoided the gauntlet of naysayers and must be true.

Let’s consider this alternate history, where the gospel story was false, and those in the inner circle successfully snuffed it out. It quickly falls apart under examination. Here are 13 reasons why I say nay to this Naysayer Hypothesis.

naysayer hypothesis

1. There would have been few potential naysayers. The gospel story does report thousands witnessing the miracle of the loaves and fishes, but these wouldn’t be naysayers. A naysayer must have been a close companion of Jesus to witness him not doing every miracle recorded in the Gospels. He would need to know that Jesus didn’t walk on water and didn’t raise Lazarus. A proper naysayer must have been one of Jesus’s close companions during his entire ministry, and there would likely have been just a few dozen.

2. We imagine a handful of naysayers who know that the Jesus story is only a legend, but that was in the year 30. Now the first gospel is written and it’s roughly forty years later—how many are still alive? Conditions were harsh at that time, and people died young.

And consider that the gospels were written after siege of Jerusalem in 70, which Josephus says killed 1.1 million people. More were scattered or enslaved. Few naysayers would’ve remained to critique gospel accounts.

3. A naysayer must be in the right location to complain. Suppose he lived in Jerusalem, and say that the gospel of Mark was written in Alexandria, Egypt, which historians say is one possibility. How will our naysayer correct its errors? Sure, Mark will be copied and spread, but there’s little time before our 60- or 70-year-old witnesses die. Even if we imagine our tiny band dedicating their lives to stamping out this false story, believers are starting brush fires of Christian belief all over the Eastern Mediterranean, from Alexandria to Damascus to Corinth to Rome. How can we expect our naysayers to snuff them all out?

4. The naysayers had no motivation for dedicating their lives to stopping the false Jesus story. So there’s yet another nut who thinks he has it all figured out—who cares? Your Judaism isn’t under threat from this tiny cult (and it was a tiny cult in the early years).

Consider a modern equivalent. Many atheists today spend much time responding to claims of Christianity, but that’s because Christianity is society’s bull in the china shop. It causes harm. In contrast, imagine a Christian who also believes in reincarnation. That’s a weird set of beliefs, but who really cares? No one would devote their life to stamping out that belief.

5. The naysayers wouldn’t know about the problem. Two thousand years ago, you couldn’t walk down to the corner bookstore to find the latest Jesus gospel. How were our naysayers to learn of the story? Written documents at that time were scarce and precious things. And the naysayers would be Jews who didn’t convert to Christianity. They wouldn’t have associated much with the new Christians and so would have been unlikely to come across the Jesus story.

6. There was another gulf between the naysayers and the early Christians: the early church was a Greek institution. The epistles and gospels were written in Greek, not the local language of Aramaic spoken by Jesus and the naysayers. To even learn of the Jesus story in this community, our naysayers must speak Greek, which is hard to imagine among the typical peasant followers of Jesus. How many could have done this? And to influence the Greek-speaking readers of the gospels for us to learn of the problem, a rebuttal would have to have been written in Greek—not a common skill in Palestine.

7. Imagine a naysayer knew the actual Jesus and knew that he was merely a charismatic teacher. Nothing supernatural. Now he hears the story of Jesus the Son of Man, the man of miracles, the healer of lepers and raiser of the dead. Why connect “Son of Man” Jesus with your childhood buddy Jesus? “Jesus” was a common name (actually, Joshua or Yeshua), and supernatural claims were common at the time. His friend Jesus didn’t do anything like this, so the story he heard must be of a different person. So even when confronted with the false teaching, he wouldn’t know to raise an alarm.

8. Consider how hard is it today for a politician, celebrity, or business leader to stop a false rumor, even with the many ways to get the word out. Think about how hard it would have been in first-century Palestine. How many thousands of Christians were out there spreading the word for every naysayer with his finger in the dike? Given the sensational story (“Jesus was a miracle worker who can save you from your sins!”) and the mundane one (“Nah—he’s just a regular guy that I hung around with when I was growing up”), which has more traction?

The Jews of the time of Jesus had far better evidence of his divinity than we could ever hope to have. A tiny handful found it compelling and became his followers, but the vast majority didn’t. If eyewitness testimony is relevant, as today’s Christian apologists claim, we should follow that majority.

Concluded in part 2.

If 50 million people say a foolish thing, 

it’s still a foolish thing.
— Anatole France

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 10/26/12.)

Image credit: erokism, flickr, CC

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  • MNb

    In addition to @4: “That’s a weird set of beliefs, but who really cares?”
    Literally everybody back then had one weird set of beliefs or another. They were used to it and had been so for centuries. So that wasn’t a reason for a naysaying campaign.

    @5: “Written documents at that time were scarce and precious things.”
    It’s quite likely that lots of potential naysayers couldn’t read and write.

    “And the naysayers would be Jews who didn’t convert to Christianity.”
    Not even them. Up to 70 CE proto christians were also jews. They lived in quite relaxed cohabitance. So in a sense all jews, including proto christians, were naysayers: they denied aspects of the other jewish sects. And if everybody is a naysayer nobody is.

    “They wouldn’t have associated much with the new Christians and so would have been unlikely to come across the Jesus story.”
    This is probably wrong. Proto christians were for instance allowed to visit the Temple of Jerusalem. No, non-christian jews (ie the pharisees, the sadducees, essenes and a fourth movement, likely the zealots) simply didn’t see proto christianity as something special that had to be disputed. That only began after 70 CE, when the pharisees (ie rabbinical judaism) and christianity were the only survivors. Sure enough the naysaying began, but if the pharisees did have eyewitnessing naysayers we simply don’t know them. Plus the christians simply would have dismissed them as anti propagandists.

    @7: “Why connect “Son of Man” Jesus with your childhood buddy Jesus?”
    It’s even better – why not? Back then it was so much easier to conform and accept the miracles. Even today suggestive propaganda is powerful. There is a reason integer interrogators avoid loaded questions. A christian naysayer after 70 CE would have been showered with loaded questions.

    • TheNuszAbides

      @7: “Why connect “Son of Man” Jesus with your childhood buddy Jesus?”It’s even better – why not?

      to impress the gullible fans, perfect.

  • Partial Mitch

    When any Christian makes an argument like this to me, I always* respond with, “So what about the Book of Mormon?”

    After all, if the Mormon religion can grow to such heights in so short amount of time, (Mormonism has definitely grown faster than ancient Christianity did) then surely ALL Christians must believe it, right?

    Of course not. And the fact that believers accept such arguments for their own dogma while blithely waving away identical arguments from different faiths is proof that all such arguments are utterly useless.

    More to the point, if Mormonism can grow so speedily now, in the relatively modern times of the past century and a half, then how much more likely is it that other false beliefs could have spread among our ignorant ancestors of 2,000 years ago?

    (*Unless I’m talking to a Mormon, in which case, I tend to mention JoHos, 7th Day Adventists or Muslims.)

    • crackerMF

      i use scientology. that way they can’t claim it’s the same god.

    • Yes, Mormonism beats conventional Christianity on each of the aspects of the historicity of the documents–recentness, quality of copies, time from event to autograph, time from autograph to our best copies.

  • Alicia

    The Christian movement was a way-below-the-radar sect until well after all the eyewitnesses had died. Today, if you know that your high school buddy is off running some random little cult, you’ll gossip about him with your other old friends, but you aren’t going to be publishing hard bound books about how he was a normal dweeb in high school, and if you do they won’t sell well enough that they are still circulating in used book stores in 2000 years.
    And that’s besides what MNb says: “Well, why wouldn’t he have said he was the Messiah? Half of Palestine was convinced they were the Messiah. Nothing special about that.”

    • RichardSRussell

      Supporting your point: Right now, in 2015, half of the Republican Party is convinced that they’re qualified to be president.

      • Well, yeah. God himself told each of them that they should run.

        • MR

          God having beers with Jesus: “Ha Ha Ha! I swear to Me! They fall for it every. single. election! Hee Hee Hee!”

  • Jack Baynes

    And if Jesus didn’t actually exist at all? Who would the naysayers be?

    “I was there and I don’t remember that particular preacher and his magic tricks.”

    • TheNuszAbides

      so not glamorous!

    • Pofarmer

      There not being any Jesus answers a lot more questions than apologists would like to admit.

      • TheNuszAbides

        i’d be surprised i don’t see more “Ockham’s Razor only applies to angels and demons!” except that i’ve spent very little time in Catholic-heavy environs where i suspect it would be the most prevalent. but i have seen how some eruditer-than-thou types insist very very hard that mythicism requires more assumption and presupposition than the alternatives. trusting i won’t require a dead language doctorate to reach a reasonable assessment of my own, but still haven’t taken the time to really sink my teeth into Carrier et al.

        • Pofarmer

          Check out Robert G. Price, Robert M. price etc. an excellent video series on youtune is “excavating the empty tomb”.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’ve seen Robert G. Price mentioned (usually when clarifying that Robert M. and Robert G. are two discrete Prices) and only just realized that you and Greg G. are not referring to George Robert Price, whose story and work already fascinate me a bit. stumbled over him while doing a paper that was partly about bio’ evolution and game theory. he overlaps various topics interestingly (add suicide and Christianity, for starters).

        • Pofarmer

          Any particular place to maybe check him out a little? Robert G. Price and his artcle on “The Gospel of Mark as Allegory” is one that reall stoked my doubts, and led me to Randal Helms, which led me to Richard Carrier, and then it was all over. He has another long paper in the Christ Myth Theory, but I need to not be reading it at midnight.

        • Greg G.

          I’m Pofarmer’s librarian. Ook ook!

          The Gospel of Mark as Reaction and Allegory), by R. G. Price
          How a Fictional Jesus Gave Rise to Christianity, by R. G. Price
          Jesus Myth – The Case Against Historical Christ by R. G. Price
          Jesus Myth Part II – Follow-up by R. G. Price
          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price

          Most of the scholars Robert M. Price references in the above article seem to accept the parts of Mark their studies don’t address as being historical, so I would recommend the book reviewed here first:

          Review of The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark by Richard Carrier

          Then read Gospel Fictions by Randel Helms. His Who Wrote the Gospels? is also good.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and what a handsome orangutang!

  • Peter_J88

    He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy…

  • Greg G.

    Perhaps it was all the naysayers whose denials of Jesus actually drove the spread of the religion. The Streisand Effect worked 2000 years ago.

    • MR

      That’s my theory about this whole gay marriage affair.

  • TheNuszAbides

    In contrast, imagine a Christian who also believes in reincarnation. That’s a weird set of beliefs, but who really cares?

    well, maybe if it were Da Pope …

  • Otto

    So a bunch of people who bought into the whole idea of this cult leader being God incarnate never denied any of the outlandish claims…yeah that’s never happened before.

    These apologists act like dishonesty, self-delusion and acting in self interest couldn’t have existed at that point in time.

    And if these weak assed arguments are what’s needed to ‘prove’ Jesus’ divinity that itself is pretty telling. Jesus appearing on toast is more compelling.

    • TheNuszAbides

      These apologists act like dishonesty, self-delusion and acting in self interest couldn’t have existed at that point in time.

      spikes in Bad Behavior always coincide with the lulls between Good Old Days, didn’t you get the memo? (and of course it only gets harder to bring about Righteous Times the farther we get from the Fallen Ur-Mega-Humans.)

    • wtfwjtd

      And, there’s always “the older I get, the better I was” syndrome at work. What better way to impress the young whipper-snappers than to allow the exaggerated claims about how great your buddy was to puff you up a little bit?
      “Did I ever tell you about the time that me -n- my ol’ buddy Jeez went down to Samaria…”

  • wtfwjtd

    Here’s a case in point: James Randi showed that Uri Geller was a fraud on national television on more than one occasion. It only made Geller more popular with his following, as they doubled-down on believing his nonsense. Naysayers rarely derail the crazy-train.

    • Otto

      And Peter Popov….James Randi has shown many to be frauds and they still find people to buy their nonsense.

      He has great stories where he shows people that what he does is a trick and they are still convinced that he has supernatural powers. So there you have a situation where the naysayer is the same person that supposedly did the magic and people are still convinced!

  • primenumbers

    “They’d shut it down. An incorrect version of the story would not have survived.” – let’s see how this works today…..

    For every chain email that passes on some ridiculous story, there’s some website or easily accessible evidence that shows it to be false. Bit every such chain email propagates freely and widely regardless of the thorough debunking it receives.

    We also see how hard it is to dislodge a false religious belief from a believer. And I’m not even talking about disbursing them of their religion entirely, just picking up on a single idea they’ve picked up from some apologist and regurgitated. Their belief doesn’t rest on this idea, yet they’ve used it in an argument with you and it’s as false as false can be, yet they stick to it, repeat it and use it again.

    By now you’d wonder why there’s any scientologist left believing after all the good books and the recent movie on the subject that demonstrate that scientology is utterly false. Yet still against that pressure they believe!

    There is therefore no good reason for us to believe that a naysayer would actually work, actually change anyone’s mind, or be able to “factually correct” early Christian beliefs.

    If an apologist uses this argument, we can go back to them and see what evidence they’d accept to change their views, perhaps even on this very argument and see if they change their mind. If they do change their mind it’s because we’ve demonstrated it false. If they don’t, then again we’ve demonstrated naysaying doesn’t work and hence the argument is false.

    • MNb

      Thanks, your last alinea is something I’m going to try.

    • InDogITrust

      Yep. Rearing its ugly head on Facebook these days: OH MY GOD THE GOVERNEMENT IS GOING TO GIVE YOUR CELL PHONE NUMBER TO TELEMARKETERS AND YOU’LL HAVE TO PAY FOR THE CALL!!!!!!!!!
      Seriously? FFS, people, that stupid story has been circulating since the advent of the cell phone.
      Yet this weekend a friend of mine posted it: DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THIS IS TRUE?!?!?!?!?!?

    • Or consider Snopes. Once Snopes shows the reality of the issue, you never hear of it again, right?

      Right?

      • Kodie

        In this situation, and maybe you have it in the next part, the believers have to hear the naysayers. Believer A does not know about Snopes and go out of their way to see if there is Naysayer B to debunk the story Believer A believes is true. Now, you get a 3rd Common Area, Blog C, Believer A says blogger is stupid and doesn’t know what he’s talking about, blah blah blah. Isn’t Blogger C taking story and using source to debunk story, the believer cannot be naysayed. Naysaid? Don’t drive or use machinery while taking Naysaid. Commenter D reports from Naysayer B and links to the source, and Believer A with accurate information refuses to believe that it is accurate. Their own source says that it is accurate!

        Brains are weird, confirmation bias is real. It is like, if you show someone a story and give enough factual-looking information, it flips a switch that cannot be unflipped with countering information. Although we are capable of learning new things, and trained from an early age to consider “learning” to be one of the amazing and purposeful facets of having a human brain, we are more like an animal and just easily trained. Once the rut is made in the surface from our training, we are imprinted and that becomes part of our understanding. It fits into the world as we see it.

        It may not even have a noticeable effect from someone else’s understanding. Take two sheets of paper side by side and put a tiny pebble on the surface of one, and then start stacking paper on each pile. One stack is flat, while the other retains a bump that gets a little higher the more paper is stacked up, and that anomaly becomes a more and more obvious impairment of their understanding of reality. It is also too deep to recover since look how many adjustments have had to be made in the flat surface of all the papers. Even if you recover the pebble, the paper there will stay dented. You can even go deep and find that rock, and the paper will stay dented there. If it is just a grain of sand, it still makes a slight difference that is irreconcilable at the root and does not impair perceptions too distinctly, but some people start off with a larger stone, and it really shows. This does not have to necessarily do with religious indoctrination, and the pebble may be introduced later with similar results.

        That’s my analogy for the day.

      • primenumbers

        Just yesterday there was one of these inaccurate memes posted by a Facebook friend. It took like 30s on google to find numerous news stories not just showing it false, but where and how the meme started and the initial mistake that was made. But the story fits in with the typical political biases of readers and hence it spreads without them bothering to fact check. To them, the story is immediately true in a “higher sense” and thus fact-checking is pointless. In such a way, a Jesus parable is true in a “higher sense” to the listener and thus irrelevant whether actually true or not regardless if they’re able to fact check it. The problem, as always, is psychology.

    • Peter_J88

      Blessed are the cheese makers… This is not meant to be taken literally but refers to any manufacturer of dairy products…

  • Re: #4:

    You couldn’t throw a stone in 1st Century Judea without hitting a cult leader or apocalyptic preacher or “Messiah.” Why would anyone care about yet another one popping up?

    • Greg G.

      Yes, the approach of just letting them prattle on was almost 100% effective.

      • TheNuszAbides

        “ignore it, maybe it’ll go aw–uh-oh …”

  • Clover and Boxer

    I think there might be another very important observation related to the topic of the disciples. For the sake of argument, let’s grant that Christians are correct when they assert that all the disciples believed they saw Jesus risen from the dead and then dedicated their lives to the idea. Christians think that’s their ace in the hole, but even taken at face value, it’s not very impressive. Why? Because cult members believe and do crazy things all the time.

    Again, all the disciples believed they saw Jesus risen from the dead and dedicated their lives to it? Fine. Even if that is the case, that still does not provide sufficient evidence that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead. Cult members believe and do crazy things all the time.

    • wtfwjtd

      Yes, if Christians really believed this were true, then all Christians would be Mormons. The attestation to the truth of the prophet Joseph Smith’s writings puts Christianity’s feeble “4 gospels and 12 eye witnesses” to shame.

  • RichardSRussell

    How successful were Jews in Weimar Germany at “shutting down” the vicious libels of Protocols of the Elders of Zion? How effective were slaves in the Old South at overcoming the “happy darky” image perpetrated by their owners? The bedrock principle here is that powerless people very seldom control even their own public image, let alone anyone else’s. 1st Century Jerusalem didn’t have an outpost of PolitiFacts.

    • TheNuszAbides

      even* the [Christ-on-sleeve] White Rose Society is more of a tragic symbol than an object lesson in anything being mightier than a national stranglehold.

      *not to say they were powerful per se, but their only ‘downtrodden’ marker at the time was having chiefly intellectual cachet.

  • crackerMF

    “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal”

    by christopher moore

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamb:_The_Gospel_According_to_Biff,_Christ's_Childhood_Pal

    i think you’d like it.

    • Kodie

      John Prine’s “Jesus The Missing Years,” irreverent in places, not hardly enough though.

    • MR

      Also recommend.

    • TheNuszAbides

      a good one; i find Moore’s other work to be of the ‘trying too hard’ or laughing-at-own-jokes to follow through on.

      • crackerMF

        “each to his own, said the farmer, as he kissed the cow’s ass”

        i like moore flavored cow’s ass.

  • crackerMF

    “… imagine a Christian who also believes in reincarnation.”

    read this in the voice of a stuffy, British 19th century priest:

    the RCC teaches the doctrine of “Resurrection of the Dead” which is “literal” re-incarnation, unlike that mamby pamby karmic cycle crap the wogs teach.

    silly mode off.

  • katta

    Jesus didn’t want to start a new religion. He stayed yew all his live. His teaching and preaching was just for the ears of the yews. So why should his jewish followers correct some story from outlandish people, who weren’t even jews to begin with?

    • K-9

      The yews? Were they the ones libeled in The Protocols of the Alders of Zion?

      • crackerMF

        no, i believe “yews” appear in j.r.r tolkien’s “Ents and Entmoots”.

  • Sophia Sadek

    What is even more interesting is how the gospels were used later on by Roman political interests. It was not until the fourth century that believing the magical stories about Jesus became far more important than what Jesus was said to have taught. A whole new class of “followers” arose as a result of Roman persecution that was philosophically remote from the original corps of students.

    • wtfwjtd

      Yet another amazing coincidence from the fourth century: The “tomb of Jesus” was actually “discovered.” How convenient, that just as Christianity gets government endorsement via the Roman empire, this gaping hole in the Jesus story gets “fixed.”

      • Sophia Sadek

        A physical hole was plugged, but literary holes were opened up with the burning of heretical texts.

  • TimWolf2

    Just watched “An Honest Liar” about James Randi. A particularly interesting segment is where Uri Geller was shown to be a complete fraud on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, one of (if not the) most watched show on the planet. But it was hardly even a speed bump for Geller who still maintains he’s a “psychic” even today. People believe what they want to believe, naysayers be damned.

    • I also saw that movie; it was great.

      And that’s a great example. I should’ve used it. Thanks.

  • Jim Jones

    Two thousand years ago, you couldn’t walk down to the corner bookstore
    to find the latest Jesus gospel. How were our naysayers to learn of the
    story? Written documents at that time were scarce and precious things.

    We don’t do so well now. Cassie Bernall.

    • jrb16915

      Most people learned about the Gospel by word of mouth, either one to one or in services of a sort.

      If Jesus wasn’t divine, then 2000 years after his crucifixion over 2 billion people are worshiping a poor Jewish carpenter who was executed for blasphemy and sedition as God. That is kind of a super natural outcome in its own right.

      • Kodie

        I think it had something to do with torture.

      • MR

        And billions of people worship Allah and Shiva and any number of other deities and beliefs. Are those outcomes just as supernatural?

        • jrb16915

          Are those outcomes just as supernatural? – Yes to Allah, and God the Father (as opposed to God the Son) are the same. And if a Billion people believe in Shiva, I would say there is something at work their, beyond observable rational explanation. So yes to that as well.

        • MR

          And billions of people worshiped Ra and Zeus and worshiped their ancestors. Does that make Ra, Zeus and your great-grandmother gods, too?

          Religion, the foods we eat, the clothes we wear, the languages we speak are all passed down generation after generation, sometimes for millenia. No supernatural explanation required.

        • jrb16915

          I don’t think Billions of people worshiped Zeus. At the time of Christ’s birth there were only an estimated 120 million people in the whole world. Belief in Zeus peaked before that. Same for Ra.

        • MR

          Oops, you’re right. I should have said millions. My point you didn’t answer stands, though.

      • Jim Jones

        No, people are worshiping Robin Hood – or Batman. Jesus never existed

      • adam

        “Most people learned about the Gospel by word of mouth, ”

        You mean like the game Telephone….

      • Kodie

        It is if you think Coca-Cola is also supernatural.

  • Agabu

    1. “A proper naysayer must have been one of Jesus’s close companions during his entire ministry, and there would likely have been just a few dozen. “

    Naysayers that saw the miracles but didn’t accept Christ, aren’t good enough. Naysayers that believed it for a while and then left it behind, not good enough Naysayers either. Only Bob’s made up naysayer fits the bill. O how will the Gospels meet these standards? Will they? Your guess is as good as mine.

    2. “Now the first gospel is written and it’s roughly forty years later—how many are still alive? Conditions were harsh at that time, and people died young.”

    Who knows? You tell me. You’re the one going on with these fictional naysayers.

    3. “A naysayer must be in the right location to complain.”

    R-i-g-h=t. Because there were no dedicated people trying to stamp out Christianity then much like Paul when he was still Saul or the persecuting Roman authorities who had agents in every corner of the empire they could unleash on perceived troublemakers.

    4. “The naysayers had no motivation for dedicating their lives to stopping the false Jesus story.”

    These fictional naysayers now have no motivation to stopping the allegedly false Jesus story? Just as well, they are too comfy to do anything about it. After all, when they exist only in the imagination you can make em do anything such as strip em of any motivation.

    5. “The naysayers wouldn’t know about the problem.”

    One moment they are aware of the allegedly false Jesus story but not in the right location to do anything about it or have no motivation to do so. The next moment they don’t know about the problem. These guys seem to be all over the place. Made up stuff seems to do whatever you want.

    6. “There was another gulf between the naysayers and the early Christians: the early church was a Greek institution.”

    Sure, because Christian communities were just made up of Greeks and nobody else. These naysayers seemed to lack the ability to communicate with their Roman occupiers somehow who didn’t speak their Aramaic language or they were unaware of thousands other Jews from across the empire who spoke different languages who made the yearly pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem. They could just never learn a second language because, peasants. Huh!

    7. “So even when confronted with the false teaching, he wouldn’t know to raise an alarm.”

    Ah, the Sanhedrin is busy giving them heat for their claims, but I can’t be bothered to help them out to put a stop to all this because I don’t know what this thing is. Many people are up in arms about it, but don’t know if its the same Jesus I was with.

    8. “Consider how hard is it today for a politician, celebrity, or business leader to stop a false rumor, even with the many ways to get the word out. Think about how hard it would have been in first-century Palestine.”

    I imagine very hard. How little people change. This rumour has been so promoted that Christian communities committed it to print on expensive papyri. Our naysayer is apparently over matched. Now apparently he is too old to deal with this crap. Just as well, with no motivation or the means to stop it, he seemed to prefer to not be involved in putting a stop to it thus leaving us without a trace of his existence.

    “The Jews of the time of Jesus had far better evidence of his divinity than we could ever hope to have. A tiny handful found it compelling and became his followers, but the vast majority didn’t. If eyewitness testimony is relevant, as today’s Christian apologists claim, we should follow that majority.”

    Sure, follow the majority because truth is established by counting noses. I’m sure that’s why you’re an atheist. Strength in numbers and all. Oh wait, this atheist group remains a minority for some reason, and the future doesn’tt look promising in that numbers department.

    Speculating much. The lack of evidence for this fictional bunch of naysayers is quite the hole in all this. Interesting thought experiment though.

    • You’re wasting my time. I didn’t find a single comment that directly responded to a point. When you want to actually respond, let me know.

  • factscount

    What is ever so telling about Jesus is, he was witnessed by thousands to be crucified on the cross. He died a horrible death, and Roman soldiers of that time were excellent executioners, so there is no doubt he was dead when taken from the cross. His dead body was even pierced with a spear in the side to make sure he would not revive. He was resurrected 3 days later and was seen by hundreds of people who verify who they saw was in fact Jesus. None, none, none of his followers who witnessed these things recounted their testimony, even when threatened with death. Not one decided to expose these events as a scam, and if it were a scam there would have been plenty of traitors to the coverup who would have come forward to spill the beans and save their own skins.

    • Greg G.

      Those claims come from the gospels that were not written for decades after the story was supposed to have happened. If it didn’t happen, how could anyone claim it didn’t fifty years later?

      There are two epistles that take information from the gospels which proves they are much older than they could possibly be if they were not forgeries. Every other epistle only tells about Jesus in terms of Old Testament scripture.

      if it were a scam there would have been plenty of traitors to the coverup who would have come forward to spill the beans and save their own skins.

      Are you talking about the made-up stories when the different groups were competing for the best martyr story when apostolic succession became important because of their outlandish beliefs?

      Why would 2 Peter 1:16 deny that they were following “cleverly-devised myths” unless someone was accusing them of that. The next two verses are meant to support their claim but undercut it by citing one of Matthew’s most “cleverly-devised myths.”

    • The “500 eyewitnesses” claim is rebutted here:
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/04/500-eyewitnesses-to-the-risen-christ-9-reasons-why-its-not-likely/

      There are other relevant posts. I suggest searching if you are interested.

  • Clement Agonistes

    2. We imagine a handful
    of naysayers who know that the Jesus story is only a legend, but that
    was in the year 30. Now the first gospel is written and it’s roughly
    forty years later—how many are still alive? Conditions were harsh at that time, and people died young.

    One of the best examples of what you are talking about here comes from Paul, who points out that hundreds of people witnessed a resurrected Jesus. Paul challenges his readers to ask those who witnessed it to see if Paul is telling the truth. Paul writes, not 40 years later, but 20 years later – comparable to remembering the Monica Lewinski scandal today, as opposed to maybe the end of the Vietnam War for the Gospels.

    While average life spans may indeed have been short, as with modern times, infant and child mortality dragged down the average. As you point out, people did die young – very young. Those who lived beyond those factors that killed the young could easily live beyond the average.

    For the Ephesians, they might have been able to ask John, who supposedly was the Bishop of Ephesus decades after Paul’s death.

    Peter died around the same time as Paul – years after Paul’s first letters.

    Mark, who lived in Jerusalem, and probably included himself in the story of Jesus’ arrest (the “young man”), lived into the late ’60s, and was available to those in Alexandria to question Paul’s account.

    We have numerous accounts of problems in the early church, yet no one describes naysayers as one of those problems.

    • Michael Neville

      Paul says there were 500 witnesses in a letter to the Corinthians. According to this website [LINK] the distance between Corinth and Jerusalem is a mere 1385 km or 817 miles. Travel during Roman times was slow, difficult and expensive so exactly how many of Paul’s readers were going to take him up on his “challenge”?

      Bob wrote “500 Eyewitnesses to the Risen Christ? Not Likely.” [LINK] which discusses Paul’s claim.

    • Greg G.

      One of the best examples of what you are talking about here comes from Paul, who points out that hundreds of people witnessed a resurrected Jesus. Paul challenges his readers to ask those who witnessed it to see if Paul is telling the truth. Paul writes, not 40 years later, but 20 years later – comparable to remembering the Monica Lewinski scandal today, as opposed to maybe the end of the Vietnam War for the Gospels.

      Not really. You are reading the gospels back into the epistles. Paul is saying that Jesus died for sins and was buried, according to the scriptures. He says he rose on the third day, according to the scriptures. What scriptures? For the first claim see Isaiah 53:5, 9, 11-12. For the second claim, see Hosea 6:2. If you know of more likely scriptures, please present them.

      Paul says he didn’t get his gospel from human authority. His revelation comes from the prophets in scripture. He claims that his knowledge is not inferior to the knowledge of the “super-apostles”, a bold statement to make, which would be ridiculous under your reading. Earlier in that letter, he said:

      1 Corinthians 4:6 (NRSV)
      6 I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another.

      What Paul is referring to is the Old Testament writings, not the gospels, because they weren’t written. Does Paul follow his own advice? He does when it comes to Jesus. He refers to “Jesus” and/or “Christ” about once per six verses in the Greek so he loved to talk about him but he tells us nothing about Jesus that cannot be derived from the Old Testament.

      In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is saying that Cephas read those things as midrash from the scriptures, then twelve others did, then five hundred did, then James, and finally Paul. Perhaps Cephas convince four people who each convinced two others to make twelve, then those twelve went about preaching to crowds until 500 believed, then James came in and became their leader.

      For the Ephesians, they might have been able to ask John, who supposedly was the Bishop of Ephesus decades after Paul’s death.

      Paul mentioned John once, as a so-called pillar, so he mentioned him with sarcasm. Their group opposed Paul.

      Peter died around the same time as Paul – years after Paul’s first letters.

      Those legends came decades after aMark wrote.

      Mark, who lived in Jerusalem, and probably included himself in the story of Jesus’ arrest (the “young man”), lived into the late ’60s, and was available to those in Alexandria to question Paul’s account.

      The Gospel of Mark is attributed to him but it is probably not the same person.

      We have numerous accounts of problems in the early church, yet no one describes naysayers as one of those problems.

      There were accounts of those who claimed Jesus did not come in the flesh. You can read them in the epistles. Many believed the Messiah was going to come. Some believed he lived and died around Isaiah’s time, according to the scriptures, which would include Paul and the “super-apostles.” We don’t have any records of anyone believing that Jesus lived and died in the first century until after the Gospel of Mark.

      • Clement Agonistes

        I appreciate the length of your response. However, I lost count after about half-a-dozen unwarranted leaps of logic. To touch on just a few, the “John” being dissed in Paul’s letters (I disagree with your interpretation) is John The Baptist.

        And, yes, there wee theological topics in dispute between the groups (as we have discussed previously being the case with ALL Christians), but they were not core issues.

        If the ONLY information we have contradicts your beliefs, that is not grounds for rejecting it. The default should be to accept the only facts we have.

        The belief of Jesus not-in-the-flesh is Gnostic, and comes much too late.

        Paul states that the source of his gospel came from revelation from Jesus, probably during his 3 years in the desert after being run out of Jerusalem.

        Lost of Christians got run out of Jerusalem, especially after Stephen’s death. Paul’s letter to Rome is to a community which he had never met. He has nothing but praise for their beliefs.

        A staple of Christian theology is that the NT is a continuation of the OT. The OT points to Jesus. Paul’s main gripe is with those who insist Christianity is strictly a Jewish thing. He has to spend time convincing Jews that the OT points to God being a God of all humanity.

        • Greg G.

          I appreciate the length of your response. However, I lost count after about half-a-dozen unwarranted leaps of logic. To touch on just a few, the “John” being dissed in Paul’s letters (I disagree with your interpretation) is John The Baptist.

          It could be John the Baptist in Galatians but it is also John of the three primary sidekicks in gMark. aMark borrowed a lot from Galatians, including the those three names. Mark wrote a fictional story and the other gospel authors went along with him, perhaps because they didn’t know any better.

          See Galatians 5:11-12 to see the level of sarcasm Paul used toward the circumcision faction. See Galatians 2:11-12 to see who the leader of the circumcision faction was. See Galatians 1:1 for what Paul thought of people being sent by human authority. Paul was referring to the “pillars” in Galatians 2:6 and expressed his disdain, then named them in verse 9.

          And, yes, there wee theological topics in dispute between the groups (as we have discussed previously being the case with ALL Christians), but they were not core issues.

          The Epistle of James was a response to Galatians and Paul responded to parts of it in Romans. See Galatians 5:14, then read James 2:8-11 to see how James thought Paul meant not following the law meant committing adultery and murder. In Romans 13:6-10, Paul cites the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy and Exodus of the Ten Commandments (which are identical here) but in the same order as James, then uses stealing and coveting to show that love means not doing those things.

          In Galatians 3:6, Paul cites Genesis 15:6 as Abraham being justified by faith, then spends the rest of the chapter arguing that point.

          James 2:17-24 argues against that, saying that faith also requires works, which include following the law. Verses 21-23 argues that Abraham was justified by offering Isaac on the altar, then cites Genesis 15:6 (six consecutive words match Galatians 3:6, which also match the Septuagint) to show that Abraham was justified.

          Paul responds in Romans 4:1-12, citing Genesis 15:6 exactly as James 2:23 has it for ten Greek words but different than his quote in Galatians. Paul points out that Abraham was justified before he was circumcised (which was before Isaac was conceived), which blows away James’ argument.

          Galatians and James share 8 phrases and words that are not shared with any other book of the New Testament. Romans and James have 38 unique matches. Is it because Romans has 7111 words to Galatians’ 2230 words? No, not only does Romans and James have more unique matches than any gospel does with James, Romans has more than Matthew and Mark combined. More than Luke and John combined.

          If the ONLY information we have contradicts your beliefs, that is not grounds for rejecting it. The default should be to accept the only facts we have.

          I agree that we should stick to facts. But it is apparent that aMark is based on the literature of the day, so it is not a historical account. So you should not be substituting fiction for facts. aMark was using already centuries old but well-established literature, most of which have lasted to this day.

          The epistles are the best information we have for early Christianity and they never mention an itinerant preacher/teacher. They only talk about Jesus in terms of the OT scriptures.

          Philo tried to mesh the Logos from Greek philosophy to Jewish theology. The Greeks wondered how a purely spiritual god thingy could interact with a physical world. They came up with the Logos as an intermediary.

          The belief of Jesus not-in-the-flesh is Gnostic, and comes much too late.

          Josephus tells us that the Jews who fought to the end in Jerusalem held out because they expected the Messiah would come to save them. That was before any gospels were written. The coming Messiah goes back at least to Hasmonean times in Daniel. The not-in-the-flesh Messiah is plenty early enough. So is Philo’s Logos.

          It is hard to date Paul’s writings, though. The only historical reference we have is the mention of King Aretas but the last one ruled for almost fifty years, from about 9 BC to 38 AD, or so. But there was another King Aretas in the first century BC, too.

          Paul states that the source of his gospel came from revelation from Jesus, probably during his 3 years in the desert after being run out of Jerusalem.

          Paul thought the revelation from Jesus was coming through the scripture. See 1 Corinthians 14:21 quoting Isaiah 28:11-12, which ends with “says the Lord.” See how important the written word and scripture is to Paul in Romans 1:1-2, Romans 16:25-27, 1 Corinthians 4:6, and 1 Corinthians 9:8-10. If he got a direct revelation from Jesus, why doesn’t he tell us something about him that is not from the OT scriptures?

          Lost of Christians got run out of Jerusalem, especially after Stephen’s death.

          Who is Stephen? That appears to be a fictional account in Acts based on the death of James in Jewish Antiquities 20 about the death of James.

          Paul’s letter to Rome is to a community which he had never met. He has nothing but praise for their beliefs.

          Sucking up to them so he receives a warm and profitable greeting.

          A staple of Christian theology is that the NT is a continuation of the OT. The OT points to Jesus. Paul’s main gripe is with those who insist Christianity is strictly a Jewish thing. He has to spend time convincing Jews that the OT points to God being a God of all humanity.

          Sure. It points so much to Jesus that he had to be invented by midrash from the OT. But the early epistles only refer to Jesus in terms of already centuries old writings, not about a recent first century person.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I lost count after about half-a-dozen unwarranted leaps of
          logic. To touch on just a few, the “John” being dissed in Paul’s letters
          (I disagree with your interpretation) is John The Baptist.

          It could be John the Baptist in Galatians but it is also John of the three
          primary sidekicks in gMark. aMark borrowed a lot from Galatians,
          including the those three names. Mark wrote a fictional story and the
          other gospel authors went along with him, perhaps because they didn’t
          know any better.

          “half-a-dozen” . . . . and counting. Do you even see the irony of saying you rely on evidence, criticize ancient people for making things up, then turn around and make up stuff without evidence?

          See Galatians 5:11-12 to see the level of sarcasm Paul used toward the
          circumcision faction. See Galatians 2:11-12 to see who the leader of the
          circumcision faction was. See Galatians 1:1 for what Paul thought of
          people being sent by human authority. Paul was referring to the
          “pillars” in Galatians 2:6 and expressed his disdain, then named them in
          verse 9.

          You are literally the first person I have ever read say they thought that was sarcasm. I had to re-read those several times to even decipher what you might be talking about. There is no evidence to support your claims.

          The Epistle of James was a response to Galatians and Paul responded to parts of it in Romans.

          Again, a conclusion in search of evidence. There is no evidence that James ever read Galatians, nor anything in Romans to indicate Paul ever read James. Given the time frames of their writings, it is difficult to imagine either. FTM, I would have thought you would jump all over James as being written by anybody but James, and long after Paul’s death.

          And, so on and so forth. I could spend far more time pointing out the same thing about you other assertions, but we’d only get farther afield from the topic under discussion. Bob, likewise makes assertions (no living naysayers; only written Gospels count;) for which he has no evidence. Evidence is supposed to be you guys’ North Star. We are supposed to be the ones substituting wishful thinking for truth. Up your game (softball joke set-up).

        • Greg G.

          “half-a-dozen” . . . . and counting. Do you even see the irony of saying you rely on evidence, criticize ancient people for making things up, then turn around and make up stuff without evidence?

          What I see is that you have refused to consider the evidence. New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash [Link] by Robert M. Price shows that multiple scholars have independently discovered some of Mark’s sources, collectively, they have found sources that account for almost all of Mark being fiction. When the other three gospels repeat these fictions and do the same with other literature, it is clear none were writing history.

          When you stop reading the fiction of the gospels and Acts back into the epistles, you can see that they never refer to Jesus as a first century person. They don’t know anything about Jesus that doesn’t come from writings that were centuries old.

          You are literally the first person I have ever read say they thought that was sarcasm. I had to re-read those several times to even decipher what you might be talking about. There is no evidence to support your claims.

          You have never noticed the sarcasm in Galatians? I Googled “sarcasm in galatians” (no quotation marks) and here are the first ten links I got:

          https://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/corpus-paul/19990714/001185.html
          https://www.amazon.com/Irony-Galatians-Letter-First-Century-Context/dp/B002SG6I0K
          http://marknanos.com/Burton-review-of-Irony.pdf
          https://versebyversecommentary.com/galatians/galatians-512/
          the link below downloads and opens as a pdf.
          https://www.ajol.info/index.php/actat/article/download/55446/43917
          http://biblehub.com/galatians/5-12.htm
          http://biblehub.com/commentaries/galatians/5-12.htm
          https://emmanueljeanpierre.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/6-of-the-most-sarcastic-verses-in-the-bible/
          http://www.biblelimericks.com/limerick/galatians-516-circumcision-cf-separation/
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2017/02/christianity-sarcasm-satire-irony-jesus-paul.html

          Most of these focus on Galatians 5:12, but it isn’t hard to figure out who that is directed toward.

          Again, a conclusion in search of evidence. There is no evidence that James ever read Galatians, nor anything in Romans to indicate Paul ever read James. Given the time frames of their writings, it is difficult to imagine either. FTM, I would have thought you would jump all over James as being written by anybody but James, and long after Paul’s death.

          I presented three paragraphs of evidence. You refused to even look at it. Do you treasure your cognitive dissonance that much?

          And, so on and so forth. I could spend far more time pointing out the same thing about you other assertions, but we’d only get farther afield from the topic under discussion. Bob, likewise makes assertions (no living naysayers; only written Gospels count;) for which he has no evidence. Evidence is supposed to be you guys’ North Star. We are supposed to be the ones substituting wishful thinking for truth. Up your game (softball joke set-up).

          Look at the damn evidence!

        • Your comprehensiveness is impressive, but your patience is supernatural.

        • Pofarmer

          Dunning/Krueger really is a bitch.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Your evidence . . . . . isn’t. If a Christian were to present something this lame, you’d squash it like a bug. You wouldn’t take it seriously . . . . . and your be right not to do so!

          This is the stuff of conspiracy theories – like JFK assassination and fake Moon landings. Yeah, it appeals to your bias, but – again – wishful thinking is no substitute for fact. You present a quote from Galatians, say it is sarcasm, then to support this, you cite a search of ALL of Galatians, not the verse at issue. That is classic innuendo. To boot, you give me BLOGS – which lack any kind of scholarly standards – as if that qualifies. These are fringe views. Even the standard of “probability” fails here. These are not even mainstream scholarly opinions.

          And, of course, “It isn’t hard to figure out who the sarcasm is directed at [the fictional characters that never existed].” Commentaries see sarcasm all over Paul’s writings, but none of them see it here.

          You did not present evidence. You presented conclusions. You presented wishful thinking. Show me how ANYTHING your presented is fact, and not some sort of innuendo.

        • Greg G.

          It shows that you are not well-read on the subject. You said, “You are literally the first person I have ever read say they thought that was sarcasm.” I did a search and gave you the top ten search results. Now you have found many others. You can do the search and go to the second page. Many of those were scholarly commentaries on Bible sites. Not seeing the sarcasm in the verse for yourself shows that you are not reading the Bible for comprehension. Now that you have had the sarcasm pointed out, see where Paul is sarcastic elsewhere in the letter.

          You did not present evidence. You presented conclusions.

          I gave you one chain of the sarcasm. Galatians 3:1 has more sarcasm. You should read the Bible seriously instead of simply fawning over it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You cited Galatians 2:6-9. Show me that sarcasm. Show me the disdain.

          All those other claims you made – show me the facts. . . . . . not the wild-eyed speculation, not the correlation-cum-causation. Show me where you opinions are anything other than a fringe interpretation. Apply your own scientific standard that you would apply to a claim made by a Christian. FTM, show how Bob is right.

        • Greg G.

          You cited Galatians 2:6-9. Show me that sarcasm. Show me the disdain.

          Galatians 2:6-9 (NRSV)6 And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

          “And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me”: Paul is disrespecting their positions when he says it doesn’t matter to him.

          “God shows no partiality)”: possibly an allusion to Deuteronomy 10:17 or other OT verses that say that so he is justifying his disdain with scripture.

          Verses 7 & 8 shows who the circumcision faction/group is who is mentioned in verse 12 as the “circumcision (faction/group)” and who is the target of the sarcasm of Galatians 5:12.

          “those leaders contributed nothing to me”: In chapter 1, Paul said he spent a fortnight with Cephas and met with James right after saying he didn’t get his gospel from a human source, so he doubles down on that.

          “James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars”: Paul identifies exactly whose positions make no difference to him.

          Paul makes clear his disdain for “human authority:”

          Galatians 1:1 (NRSV)1 Paul an apostle—sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—

          This is not to day that Paul wasn’t a hypocrite as he used his human authority to send Timothy all over the place (1 Corinthians 4:17, Philippians 2:19, and 1 Thessalonians 3:2). Paul just didn’t want anybody to use human authority on himself.

          All those other claims you made – show me the facts. . . . . . not the wild-eyed speculation, not the correlation-cum-causation. Show me where you opinions are anything other than a fringe interpretation. Apply your own scientific standard that you would apply to a claim made by a Christian. FTM, show how Bob is right.

          Opinions on the Bible go from one extreme to another. What is fringe 40 years before becomes concensus later. Accusing someone of being on the fringe is just an ad hominem fallacy.

          Martin Luther called James “an epistle of straw”. I was seeing a lot of similarities in Galatians, James, and Romans and it was one of his arguments that pointed out to me that Paul won the argument over James regarding whether Abraham was justified by faith or works as Luther pointed out that Genesis 15:6, cited by Paul and James as proof of justification, happened before Abraham was circumcised which was before the work that James claimed justified Abraham.

          If we had bunch of posts to CE jumbled up, we could probably identify the author by the phrases and style. We often identify new sock puppets that way, too. We can also identify what a comment might be responding to either by common phrases or common topics. Scholars use these techniques to identify which Bible books are written by a common author.

          Scholars have written papers about the different ideas on common topics in Galatians, James, and Romans. It is not really controversial.

          Writings will have shared words and phrases because they are common usages of words. The larger the writing, the more shared phrases we would expect to find. Another factor is that an author’s style is to use certain phrases more often. Yet another factor is when one is referring to a different writing or has been influenced by it. The number of matches is limited more by the size of the smaller book.

          But rare words and phrases shared by two writings would indicate more cohesion between the two writings. I used unique phrases that are used nowhere else in the mGNT as an indicator. There may be some that are coincidence but that would be about the same rate with factors of the size of each writing and the style of the author(s).

          The lists below show the two books compared with the number of words per book in brackets. The next line shows the number of unique matches between each book and the overall number of matches between the two books.

          Notice that Romans and James have more unique matches than any other book shares with James. The second highest number of shared unique phrases is 26. One is 1 Corinthians, which also has a rather long phrase that appears to be original to James, and is a Pauline writing. The other is Matthew, the third longest book which also shows a lot of similarity with James regarding Jesus’ words. Twenty-two of the twenty-six shared unique phrases between James and Matthew are found in the words of Jesus.

          You can only say “it’s just a coincidence” so many times before it is a pattern that deserves an explanation. That one was influenced by the other is the simplest explanation, especially when you can do the same thing with coincidental topics in another language.

          [I removed all but the James stats due to an “internal server error processing your request”.]

          James and other books

          Matthew [18345] and James [1742]
          26 unique matches and 480 total matches

          Mark [11304] and James [1742]
          8 unique matches and 399 total matches

          Luke [19482] and James [1742]
          21 unique matches and 497 total matches

          John [15635] and James [1742]
          15 unique matches and 409 total matches

          Acts [18451] and James [1742]
          22 unique matches and 440 total matches

          Romans [7111] and James [1742]
          38 unique matches and 408 total matches

          1 Corinthians [6829] and James [1742]
          26 unique matches and 373 total matches

          2 Corinthians [4477] and James [1742]
          9 unique matches and 293 total matches

          Galatians [2230] and James [1742]
          8 unique matches and 251 total matches

          Ephesians [2422] and James [1742]
          5 unique matches and 247 total matches

          Colossians [1582] and James [1742]
          4 unique matches and 196 total matches

          1 Thessalonians [1481] and James [1742]
          2 unique matches and 177 total matches

          2 Thessalonians [823] and James [1742]
          5 unique matches and 159 total matches

          Philippians [1629] and James [1742]
          3 unique matches and 205 total matches

          Philemon [335] and James [1742]
          0 unique matches and 70 total matches

          1 Timothy [1591] and James [1742]
          3 unique matches and 177 total matches

          2 Timothy [1238] and James [1742]
          4 unique matches and 168 total matches

          Titus [659] and James [1742]
          2 unique matches and 120 total matches

          Hebrews [4953] and James [1742]
          7 unique matches and 328 total matches

          James [1742] and 1 Peter [1684]
          12 unique matches and 218 total matches

          James [1742] and 2 Peter [1099]
          0 unique matches and 166 total matches

          James [1742] and 1 John [2141]
          3 unique matches and 196 total matches

          James [1742] and 2 John [245]
          1 unique match and 72 total matches

          James [1742] and 3 John [219]
          0 unique matches and 68 total matches

          James [1742] and Jude [461]
          4 unique matches and 92 total matches

          James [1742] and Revelation [9852]
          22 unique matches and 322 total matches

        • Clement Agonistes

          Paul is establishing his bona fides. A problem he mentions is the divisions within the early Christian communities because various members put their teacher above their faith. Rather than identify as Christians, they identify as “follower of X”. All are equal in the sight of God. The teacher is no better than the newest member. Here, he points out that Peter teaches to the Jews and Paul the Gentile. Yet, everywhere Paul went, he first went to the Jews in that town before ever going to the Gentiles. So, it’s not a perfect rule.

          Elsewhere, Paul points out that while the Disciples were out spreading the word, he (Paul) was trying to kill Christians. Yeah, that is a strike against Paul’s bona fides. He is genuinely humbled when compared to these foundational supports of The Way. There is no sarcasm here. He is not belittling them. They gave him the hand of fellowship. They are his co-workers; his equals. If he tears them down, he tears down himself.

        • Greg G.

          Paul is establishing his bona fides.

          No, he isn’t. If he was doing that, he wouldn’t be distancing himself from them. He says he didn’t get his gospel from a human source just before he tells of spending time with them. He reiterates that in Galatians 2:6b-8. He recounts the disagreement he had with Cephas at Antioch. He calls them the “circumcision faction” and argues that they are wrong about it in Galatians 6:12-16. Don’t forget about Galatians 5:12. He is discrediting them, not sucking up.

          The Galatians have abandoned him. Who did they go to?

          Galatians 1:6-9 (NRSV)6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!

          If Paul agreed with Cephas and James, it wouldn’t make sense for him to use them as bona fides as the Galatians would have abandoned them as well.

          Galatians 3:1 (NRSV)1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified!

          But if the Galatians abandoned him for the gospel of Cephas and James, he would be pointing out the differences in order to argue against them.

          How do we know that Paul disagreed with James?

          James parallels many claims of faith in Galatians by citing works.

          Paul insists on the importance of faith throughout Galatians. James argues that faith without works is dead. Paul points out that Abraham was justified by faith citing Genesis 15:6. James also cites Genesis 15:6 but says it was the Binding of Isaac that justified Abraham. Paul brings up Abraham’s women and their faith and James counters with Rahab and her works.

          Children of God
          Galatians 3:26 “for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”
          James 1:27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

          I’ll you to search for articles from scholars on this stuff.

          Elsewhere, Paul points out that while the Disciples were out spreading the word, he (Paul) was trying to kill Christians.

          You are exaggerating again. Can you not be honest here? The phrase is “καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν ἐδίωκον” in Greek, which is often translated as “persecuted beyond measure” and some use “violently”.

          beyond: “καθ᾽” Strongs gives the root as “kata” which is very common.
          measure: “ὑπερβολὴν” This is where the word “hyperbole” comes from.
          persecute: “ἐδίωκον”

          I think some translators are using the fictional Acts story to influence their translation of the epistles.

          They gave him the hand of fellowship. They are his co-workers; his equals. If he tears them down, he tears down himself.

          He says they were friends. Now they are not. They had an agreement, now they have reneged on it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          No, he isn’t. If he was doing that, he wouldn’t be distancing himself from them.

          I can’t read that into Pauls’ letters. He is pointing out that Peter and John got their information from Jesus, and so did Paul – he is their equal. He is critical of those who demand Gentiles become Jews, but points out that P&J are in agreement with him. His criticisms are of non-Apostles who claim credibility from those who taught them (P&J?). Clearly, people are claiming that P&J have stronger credentials that Paul, and therefore Paul should be ignored. Paul is pointing to his own – independent – credibility that depends on no human being’s words, and is every bit as strong as P&J.

          But if the Galatians abandoned him for the gospel of Cephas and James

          A fact not in evidence.

          Elsewhere, Paul points out that while the Disciples were out spreading the word, he (Paul) was trying to kill Christians.

          You are exaggerating again. Can you not be honest here? The phrase is “καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν ἐδίωκον” in Greek, which is often translated as “persecuted beyond measure” and some use “violently”.

          Are you arguing that he only wanted them stoned a little bit?

          BTW, before we get too far into the weeds, how does this relate to Bob’s assertion of fact that is our topic?

        • Greg G.

          I think you are not reading for comprehension because of your cognitive dissonance. Here are some recent comments in a single subthread:

          Ctharrot
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/03/god-debate-fiction/#comment-3809429781

          Bob Seidensticker
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/03/god-debate-fiction/#comment-3811886984

          epicurus
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/03/god-debate-fiction/#comment-3812720040

          Ctharrot
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/03/god-debate-fiction/#comment-3811960699

          A fact not in evidence.

          The Galatians did abandon him for another Christian sect who didn’t agree with him. (Galatians 1:6-9)
          James disagreed with him about the need to do works, which was following the OT law and being good to widows and orphans. (James 1:1-5:20)
          Paul identifies them as circumcisers which he disagrees with. (Romans 2:25-29; Romans 3:1; Romans 3:30; Romans 4:9-12; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Galatians 5:2-3; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 5:11-12; Galatians 6:12-15)
          Whoever it was bewitched the Galatians so much that Paul had to demonstrate to them why he knew Jesus was crucified and it doesn’t involve just asking James and Peter but a series of quotes of OT scripture. (Galatians 3:1-14)
          Paul says “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.” He is saying that the circumcision faction is who reject the crucifixion claim because they don’t want the persecution. (Galatians 6:12)
          James ignores circumcision and crucifixion altogether. (James 1:1-5:20)
          And why not? Circumcision is what Jews did for centuries and Paul’s reasoning for crucifixion is weird. How does he get from “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” (Galatians 3:10, quoting from Deuteronomy 27:26) to “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”” (Galatians 3:13, quoting from Deuteronomy 21:23 LXX, where the Greek word for tree, wood, or cross is used in Deuteronomy and Galatians, rather than the Hebrew version which uses the Hebrew word for “tree”.)

          Are you arguing that he only wanted them stoned a little bit?

          No, he may have been a teenager who was persecuting them with sarcasm, a la Dinsdale Pirahna. You know how Christians exaggerate persecution. It’s persecution when they can’t force other people to pray or put up Ten Commandment monuments in courthouses.

          BTW, before we get too far into the weeds, how does this relate to Bob’s assertion of fact that is our topic?

          You were reading the gospels into the epistles.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Here is the parallel in I Corinthians 15:

          9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

          Paul is self-depreciating. He is humble. He is not even worthy to be mentioned as an Apostle. And, they all preach the same thing. Case closed.

          Are you arguing that he only wanted them stoned a little bit?

          No, he may have been a teenager who was persecuting them with sarcasm

          Paul was in his mid-20s when he helped with the stoning of Stephen. Later on, he is on his way to Damascus with an order to arrest and bring Christians back to Jerusalem for the same. So, no.

          how does this relate to Bob’s assertion of fact that is our topic?

          You were reading the gospels into the epistles.

          To the contrary, I was contesting Bob’s point about naysayers having to be 30 years or more (Gospels) after Jesus’ miracles. I pointed to Paul’s (epistle) mention of the miracle of resurrection and opening the door for naysayers 20 years after the event.

        • Kodie

          For obvious reasons, naysayers didn’t make it into canon NT. Isn’t the existence of Judaism naysaying enough for you?

        • Greg G.

          Paul is self-depreciating. He is humble. He is not even worthy to be mentioned as an Apostle. And, they all preach the same thing. Case closed.

          Paul brags, “No, I worked harder than all of them.” Then humble brags that God thinks he’s special, “yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”

          Paul was in his mid-20s when he helped with the stoning of Stephen. Later on, he is on his way to Damascus with an order to arrest and bring Christians back to Jerusalem for the same. So, no.

          That’s fiction from Acts. It’s like an excuse to have a speech from Stephen, the same basic speech everybody in Acts gives.

          To the contrary, I was contesting Bob’s point about naysayers having to be 30 years or more (Gospels) after Jesus’ miracles. I pointed to Paul’s (epistle) mention of the miracle of resurrection and opening the door for naysayers 20 years after the event.

          You read it as the 500 seeing a resurrected Jesus. Paul is just saying the saw it in the scriptures. Paul wrote “according to the scriptures” two times describing what they saw. Do you remember the scriputres Paul was referring to?

        • Michael Neville

          Paul was very proud of his humility. He bragged about it several times.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Paul brags, “No, I worked harder than all of them.” Then humble brags
          that God thinks he’s special, “yet not I, but the grace of God that was
          with me.”

          Yet, in spite of his hard work, he is still (present tense) less than the others. Paul specifies elsewhere that one should not brag about themselves, but God working in them . . . . . which clearly is what he is doing here. It is “not I”, but “God that was in me” which has done anything good through Paul. That is still being humble.

        • Greg G.

          “God works through me” is a humble brag.

        • Clement Agonistes

          In the same sense that anybody who gives credit to someone else for their success is still talking about success. Paul goes on at length about “lest we boast”.

        • Greg G.

          I learned long ago at work that when I fixed something, I gave all the credit to the other person. That way, the next time it happened, they would call the other person and not bother me. But nobody can do that with God. If you say “God worked through you,” they still come to you for problems, just as if you said you did it by yourself, because you did. It’s great if you get paid by the job instead of by the hour.

          I think they teach that the humble brag about God is not bragging, but it is to anybody not in that religion.

        • I find the most compelling single argument against the 500 is that if it were actually a good argument, the gospels would’ve used it. They didn’t, so I have 4 canonical authors telling me that they’d never heard of it or they heard of it and knew it was flawed.

          (And that’s just if we’re assuming that telling accurate history was the gospel authors’ goal, which is an assumption that must be made explicit.)

        • Greg G.

          I don’t have a problem with the 500 as Paul tells it. It is the idea that Paul is trying to say that they saw a risen Jesus that I reject. Paul says that they saw that Jesus died for sins, was buried, and was raised, but he says it was “according to the scriptures”. How could they tell that a person died for sins? Isaiah 53 says the Suffering Servant died for sins.

          Mark just ended it with Jesus disappearing and not appearing to anybody. Maybe the other gospel authors didn’t read 1 Corinthians.

        • Clement Agonistes

          A fact not in evidence.
          The Galatians did abandon him for another Christian sect who didn’t agree with him. (Galatians 1:6-9)

          a. How many abandoned him? All? Half? Some? Your assertion is absolute.
          b. Did they abandon him for Peter and John? The “other sect” is . . . . . taught by who?
          c. In I Corinthians, Paul says his teachings are the same as the Disciples.

        • Greg G.

          a. How many abandoned him? All? Half? Some? Your assertion is absolute.

          Obviously more than a few. He addressed the letter to the churches (plural).

          Galatians 1 (NRSV)1 Paul an apostle—sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the members of God’s family who are with me,To the churches of Galatia:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—

          b. Did they abandon him for Peter and John? The “other sect” is . . . . . taught by who?

          He primarily addresses Cephas and James. John is barely mentioned so there’s only guilt by association.

          c. In I Corinthians, Paul says his teachings are the same as the Disciples.

          No, he says he agrees with a little, that Jesus died for sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day. He does not mention circumcision, crucifixion, nor following the law and works beyond faith.

        • Clement Agonistes

          a. How many abandoned him? All? Half? Some? Your assertion is absolute.

          Obviously more than a few. He addressed the letter to the churches (plural).

          So, we’re thinking multiple house-chruches, where less than 20 people meet. Paul has heard from someone (so, all cannot have deserted) in the area who is reporting that some:

          A. Unnamed persons(s) – who you know to be Peter/John

          B. Is teaching some unspecified number of groups

          C. The abandoning is present tense, and an ongoing process, not a completed one.

          We’re on the same page so far, right? AB&C are good, right?

          6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who
          called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—

          C. The “one” being deserted is . . . . . Paul? Or God/Jesus/Holy Spirit? (Hint: The second, as the next verse specifies)

          The parallel I provided from I Corinthians clarifies that the gospel comes from Christ (not Paul), AND that P&J are teaching exactly the same gospel, not a “different” one. The only mention of P&J is in a different thought – that Paul met with Peter after receiving the gospel from Jesus. There is no mention of conflict.

          c. In I Corinthians, Paul says his teachings are the same as the Disciples.

          No,
          he says he agrees with a little, that Jesus died for sins, was buried,
          and was raised on the third day. He does not mention circumcision,
          crucifixion, nor following the law and works beyond faith.

          He doesn’t draw a line anywhere in that. The quote is: 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

          When you say, “Jesus died for sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day”, THAT is the good news; the gospel. Anything that is not in harmony with that principle is false.

        • Greg G.

          So, we’re thinking multiple house-chruches, where less than 20 people meet.

          Most of the New Testament is based on such letters, either as authentic or imitations or fictional stories.

          A. Unnamed persons(s) – who you know to be Peter/John

          I think the people are named but it’s Cephas and James, or their agents. Bart Ehrman once wrote a paper that Cephas and Peter from the Galatians letter were different people but changed his mind later. Paul uses the name “Cephas” several times in Galatians and four times in 1 Corinthians but “Peter” is only used a couple of times in his most sarcastic letter. Perhaps Paul is making a bilingual allusion to an erect penis, in effect, calling him a dick. Maybe he is calling him hard-headed.

          Why do you keep dropping James and inserting John?

          B. Is teaching some unspecified number of groups

          Yes, but it is a plural number, significant enough to bother writing a letter, probably a majority, otherwise he would just tell those still with him to not even eat with the others as he does in 1 Corinthians 5:11 in a rant against sinners.

          C. The abandoning is present tense, and an ongoing process, not a completed one.

          That’s your cognitive dissonance talking. It sounds more like the historical present tense. He hopes he might be able to salvage some of them.

          From http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/Mark-Literary.htm

          Use of the “historical present” in narration:
            Throughout Mark’s Gospel, the Evangelist prefers the grammatical present tense while narrating past events;

            in contrast, Matthew and Luke often switch to a past tense in their versions of the same stories;

            for example, contrast the Greek text of Mark 1:12 with Matt 4:1 and Luke 4:1; or Mark 1:21 with Matt 4:12; Luke 4:31; and John 2:12

          C. The “one” being deserted is . . . . . Paul? Or God/Jesus/Holy Spirit? (Hint: The second, as the next verse specifies)

          And in the verse after that, Paul says, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed!” How is that for humble?

          The parallel I provided from I Corinthians clarifies that the gospel comes from Christ (not Paul), AND that P&J are teaching exactly the same gospel, not a “different” one.

          It comes from the OT. Paul says so twice. And it is very limited. It is not the complete belief system. There are a few places where Paul says that something came from the Lord, but it is obviously from the scripture, so Paul doesn’t really distinguish between reading scripture and getting a revelation from the Lord.

          The only mention of P&J is in a different thought – that Paul met with Peter after receiving the gospel from Jesus. There is no mention of conflict.

          There was probably no conflict then. They agreed on all they discussed, assumed they agreed on things not discussed, and divided up the territory. Then disagreements became apparent over the years, perhaps decades. If they were not in frequent communication, they would each have new insights. Schisms are inherent to Christianity. It goes back to Paul and James and continues to the present day with over 45,000 different denominations.

          He doesn’t draw a line anywhere in that. The quote is: 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

          Right. Both Paul and the Jerusalem group preached the death for sins, burial, and resurrection. They probably agreed on more things, too, more at the beginning and less twenty years later.

          When you say, “Jesus died for sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day”, THAT is the good news; the gospel. Anything that is not in harmony with that principle is false.

          Paul’s version was that you just had to have faith. James said you still had to follow the Jewish Law. Paul tells us that Cephas was willing to engage with the locals in Antioch until people from James were watching. He called Cephas out over that. Cephas apparently won the argument in Barnabas’ eyes. But Barnabas reconciled with Paul so he must have discovered more things he disagreed with in the belief system of the Jerusalem sect.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Perhaps Paul is making a bilingual allusion to an erect penis, in
          effect, calling him a dick. Maybe he is calling him hard-headed.

          Wow, talk about imposing a 21st century interpretation on 1st century writing . . . .

          OTOH, given what passes for intellectual exchanges in this conference (you, be a notable exception), I can see where this might be assumed to be the norm.

          Why do you keep dropping James and inserting John?

          In our initial exchange on this thread, you stated:

          Paul mentioned John once, as a so-called pillar, so he mentioned him with sarcasm. Their group opposed Paul.

          You identified John as the leader (with Peter) of the group Paul is criticizing.

          B. Is teaching some unspecified number of groups

          Yes, but it is a plural number, significant enough to bother writing a letter, probably a majority,

          Except for the (unsupported) leap of logic to assume a majority, that is a good point. The number was significant enough to address the problem. Even assuming a majority, you overstated the case.

          C. The abandoning is present tense, and an ongoing process, not a completed one.

          That’s your cognitive dissonance talking.

          There is no question that it is present tense. You state is as past tense. How is it not your CD causing you to change the facts to fit your narrative? You point to other writers as suggesting that this is Paul’s style. The only evidence we have points to an ongoing (hence reversible through writing) problem.

          And in the verse after that, Paul says, “But even if we or an angel from
          heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed
          to you, let that one be accursed!” How is that for humble?

          It isn’t. But it isn’t bragging, either. It makes no stand one way or another. It is, however, consistent with the gospel coming from God, as Paul had – humbly – asserted.

        • Greg G.

          Wow, talk about imposing a 21st century interpretation on 1st century writing . . . .

          OTOH, given what passes for intellectual exchanges in this conference (you, be a notable exception), I can see where this might be assumed to be the norm.

          There are plenty of euphemisms for the penis in the Bible. The Hebrews used “foot”, “feet”, and “thigh”.

          You need to have your mind opened up. You are too used to having the Bible read only one way that you are missing a lot.

          In our initial exchange on this thread, you stated:

          “Paul mentioned John once, as a so-called pillar, so he mentioned him with sarcasm. Their group opposed Paul.

          You identified John as the leader (with Peter) of the group Paul is criticizing.

          No, I didn’t. I said he was mentioned once. If you ever read Galatians, you would see that the three are named in Galatians 2:9 followed immediately by “who were acknowledged pillars”. That is the only mention of John and he was named third. If you read Galatians 2:11-12, it says that Cephas ate with Gentiles until some people sent by James came, then he retreated due to fear. So that tells us James was probably more important than Cephas. He never mentioned John nor James again in the other letters we have but Cephas was mentioned four times in 1 Corinthians. But that may have been because he spent more time with him in Jerusalem and didn’t know the others so well.

          Except for the (unsupported) leap of logic to assume a majority, that is a good point. The number was significant enough to address the problem. Even assuming a majority, you overstated the case.

          He doesn’t qualify it with “some of you”. He says that are “quickly deserting [ταχέως μετατίθεσθε]”. If it was less than half, it wouldn’t seem so quick.

          There is no question that it is present tense. You state is as past tense. How is it not your CD causing you to change the facts to fit your narrative? You point to other writers as suggesting that this is Paul’s style. The only evidence we have points to an ongoing (hence reversible through writing) problem.

          I said it was the “historical present” tense. Bible Hub has 28 translations and 8 of them use the past tense http://biblehub.com/galatians/1-6.htm , so it isn’t cut-and-dried present tense.

          It isn’t. But it isn’t bragging, either. It makes no stand one way or another. It is, however, consistent with the gospel coming from God, as Paul had – humbly – asserted.

          Paul is saying that he should be believed over an angel from heaven. That is not humility.

        • Clement Agonistes

          In our initial exchange on this thread, you stated:

          “Paul mentioned John once, as a so-called pillar, so he mentioned him with sarcasm. Their group opposed Paul.

          You identified John as the leader (with Peter) of the group Paul is criticizing.

          No, I didn’t. I said he was mentioned once.

          You asked where I got John from. Am I confusing you with someone else? Is that quote from someone else? Did I misquote you? John is a pillar . . . . their group opposed Paul. If it helps move things along, I will quit referring to him.

          He doesn’t qualify it with “some of you”. He says that are “quickly deserting [ταχέως μετατίθεσθε]”. If it was less than half, it wouldn’t seem so quick.

          He doesn’t quantify it at all. From the text, there is no evidence to draw a conclusion about quantity. Are we now setting aside the requirement for evidence for conclusions?

          And, we have absolutely NO evidence to suggest that Peter/James were the ones teaching the wrong gospel.

          Paul is saying that he should be believed over an angel from heaven. That is not humility.

          Nope. He says that the angel would be lying. If you called me a liar, would that be you bragging about yourself? Once again, you are taking a statement on another topic and wishing it to fit your bias.

        • Greg G.

          You asked where I got John from. Am I confusing you with someone else? Is that quote from someone else? Did I misquote you? John is a pillar . . . . their group opposed Paul. If it helps move things along, I will quit referring to him.

          John doesn’t play much of a role in the Pauline epistles. I just wondered why you didn’t include James.

          He doesn’t quantify it at all. From the text, there is no evidence to draw a conclusion about quantity. Are we now setting aside the requirement for evidence for conclusions?

          He used the word “ταχέως”, which is “tacheōs”, part of “tachometer” and “tachycardia”. If it had happened a year later, it wouldn’t be ταχέως, so we can conclude he had been there fairly recently and they weren’t an established churches. If only 10% fell away, that would be good news. But they weren’t just leaving the churches, they had taken up a different form of Christianity. He wasn’t writing to people who left the churches, he was writing to the people who were still going. He wouldn’t be complaining unless the churches had switched.

          And, we have absolutely NO evidence to suggest that Peter/James were the ones teaching the wrong gospel.

          So why bring up the Antioch argument if Cephas wasn’t involved with the churches in Galatia? Why keep harping on circumcision? Why keep harping on faith? Why does the Epistle of James argue for works vs faith for topic after topic that were brought up in Galatians? There is plenty of evidence. He doesn’t argue against anybody else.

          Nope. He says that the angel would be lying.

          No, he does not say the angel would be lying. He says we or an angel from heaven would be accursed if either proclaimed a contrary gospel. He is putting himself at the level of an angel from heaven.

          Once again, you are taking a statement on another topic and wishing it to fit your bias.

          You are projecting.

        • Clement Agonistes

          He used the word “ταχέως”, which is “tacheōs”, part of “tachometer” and
          “tachycardia”. If it had happened a year later, it wouldn’t be ταχέως,
          so we can conclude he had been there fairly recently and they weren’t an
          established churches. If only 10% fell away, that would be good news.
          But they weren’t just leaving the churches, they had taken up a
          different form of Christianity. He wasn’t writing to people who left the
          churches, he was writing to the people who were still going. He
          wouldn’t be complaining unless the churches had switched.

          Good points, all, but not relevant. We know the church was having problems, or else we wouldn’t have the letter. We know that something wrong was being taught, but we don’t know what or how many Christians were being mislead. You, without evidence concluded the magnitude, and the perps behind it.

          I’m nit-picking for a reason here, Greg. You are leaping to one bad conclusion, and then using that to make the next leap of logic, and so forth. By the end, you’ve got a magnificent house of cards that clear-headed logic would have prevented.

        • Clement Agonistes

          And, we have absolutely NO evidence to suggest that Peter/James were the ones teaching the wrong gospel.

          So why bring up the Antioch argument if Cephas wasn’t involved with the
          churches in Galatia? Why keep harping on circumcision? Why keep harping
          on faith? Why does the Epistle of James argue for works vs faith for
          topic after topic that were brought up in Galatians? There is plenty of
          evidence. He doesn’t argue against anybody else.

          I
          thought this was a particularly good point, and wanted to think on it
          for a while before answering. We, of course, have no evidence that
          either man read the letters of the other. One of the stated reasons for
          a late dating of Acts is that Luke seems not to have access to Paul’s
          letters, despite being immersed in pauline churches. We don’t know how
          quickly the letters of Paul or James were copied and/or circulated.

          I think Paul brings up Peter for 2 reasons:

          1) Peter has authority within the group advocating for Judaism.
          2) Peter agrees with Paul.

          Paul references those who point to one Apostle or the other as their
          authority, saying that even pointing to Paul is a bad thing. This
          suggests that at least some of the Jewish contingent is using Peter as
          its authority. Acts suggests that at some point in Peter’s ministry, he
          viewed Christianity as Judaism, and a revelation through a dream
          changed his view.

          Timing and communication of
          that change become issues. Did the change occur before or after
          Galatians? Were Peter’s judaizing disciples able to get the word of the
          change? Paul suggests that Peter had changed his view before the
          meeting in Antioch. Peter was being hypocritical to say one thing, yet
          do another. Paul called him out for his hypocrisy. The Apostle – Peter
          – that the Jewish contingent pointed to did not agree with them. If
          Peter is their authority, then they need to adapt to his changed view on
          the subject. Either the group didn’t know about the change, or they
          were so enamored of the old view that they went rouge. Peter would only be communicating Judaism to the Galatians indirectly. There is no evidence that Peter made a personal appearance there. There is nothing in the Bible nor tradition to suggest otherwise.

          You are correct that Paul harps on circumcision because it is the hallmark of Judaism. I think when Paul says (a different) “gospel”, he means “doctrine”. I’ll get back to you on James’ epistle later (Paul emphasizes behaviors as well, but I don’t want to impose my own views until I feel more confident).

        • Greg G.

          We, of course, have no evidence that either man read the letters of the other.

          We don’t have video evidence of either writing their letters but we can see the similarities in them. There are similarities between the topics in Galatians and James, as if James was using Galatians topical outline. Romans has many unique matching phrases with James.

          I define a unique matching phrase as a word or a phrase that is shared between two books of the New Testament and found in no other books of the New Testament. Some unique shared phrases are likely by chance which increases with the size of each book. Books by the same author should have more due to a common style. But a number beyond chance makes it likely that one was influenced by the other and the author wasn’t trying to hide it.

          Mark and James have 8 unique matching phrases and I will use that as a baseline. Romans has 63% as many words as Mark but has 38 unique matching phrases. Romans has as many unique matching phrases with James 1 and James 5, each, that Mark has with the whole book, and Romans has twice as many unique matching phrases with James 2 as Mark has with the entire James.

          1 Corinthians has 26 unique matching phrases with James. The other five Pauline letters considered to be authentic total 21 unique matching phrases with James so the phrases that match in Romans and 1 Corinthians do not appear to be due to similar writing styles nor chance.

          One of the stated reasons for
          a late dating of Acts is that Luke seems not to have access to Paul’s
          letters, despite being immersed in pauline churches. We don’t know how
          quickly the letters of Paul or James were copied and/or circulated.

          Mark has 2 unique matching phrases and John had 5 with Colossians while Luke has 13 and Acts has 29 so Mark and John probably didn’t have Colossians but Luke did. Mark had zero unique matching phrases with Philemon and John had 5, Luke had 4, and Acts had 6. Mark has 16 and 6 with Galatians and Ephesians which are similar sizes. Luke has 13 and 23 and Acts has 31 and 37, so Luke was likely influenced more by Ephesians than Galatians.

          All of the gospels appear to be influenced at least by Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Galatians, but Luke and Acts show many more unique matching phrases with many epistles than the other gospels do.

          That is one way to possibly measure the spread and collection of the epistles.

          I think Paul brings up Peter for 2 reasons:

          1) Peter has authority within the group advocating for Judaism.
          2) Peter agrees with Paul.

          Maybe 1). I think the Galatians knew Peter. But Paul features his disagreement with Peter in Galatians 2.

          Paul references those who point to one Apostle or the other as their authority, saying that even pointing to Paul is a bad thing. This suggests that at least some of the Jewish contingent is using Peter as its authority. Acts suggests that at some point in Peter’s ministry, he viewed Christianity as Judaism, and a revelation through a dream changed his view.

          Perhaps some of the others were trying to push Paul out so he was trying to include himself with the “superapostles”. Acts is fiction. Luke wrote it to make parallels for Peter and Paul. Compare Acts 10:10 and Acts 22:17 to see how he gave them both trances. Peter’s shadow healed people and Paul’s snot rag healed people.

          Timing and communication of that change become issues. Did the change occur before or after Galatians? Were Peter’s judaizing disciples able to get the word of the change?

          There was no change. Luke made it up to reconcile them. Even Barnabas was influenced by Cephas’ side of the argument.

          Paul suggests that Peter had changed his view before the
          meeting in Antioch. Peter was being hypocritical to say one thing, yet
          do another. Paul called him out for his hypocrisy. The Apostle – Peter
          – that the Jewish contingent pointed to did not agree with them. If
          Peter is their authority, then they need to adapt to his changed view on
          the subject.

          I think Cephas was not so strict with the laws but he didn’t want it to get back to James. But the way Paul rants about circumcision in Galatians indicates that Cephas thought that had to be done once, though.

          Either the group didn’t know about the change, or they
          were so enamored of the old view that they went rouge.

          Rouge? Like they started wearing make-up?

          Peter would only be communicating Judaism to the Galatians indirectly. There is no evidence that Peter made a personal appearance there. There is nothing in the Bible nor tradition to suggest otherwise.

          Paul writes as if the Galatians knew Cephas and James. Somebody was pushing ideas contrary to Paul’s. Paul argues against the points that he accuses James and Cephas of holding. The points that are not specifically pointed out as held by Cephas and James are not directed at any other person. The Epistle of James defends against the points that were not directed at James and Cephas. So it seems that someone brought the teachings of James and Cephas to the Galatians. Paul found out about what they were taught and recognized it as what James and Cephas taught. If someone notified him of the details of what was taught, they likely would have named who brought the teaching to them. Paul doesn’t mention that person unless it was James and/or Cephas. Paul mentions other apostles in 1 Corinthians but nobody was named in Galatians besides James, Cephas, and John, though John seemed to be mentioned in passing.

          You are correct that Paul harps on circumcision because it is the hallmark of Judaism. I think when Paul says (a different) “gospel”, he means “doctrine”.

          I agree that Paul meant “doctrine.” Paul harps on circumcision because Gentiles were being compelled to do it.

        • Clement Agonistes

          We, of course, have no evidence that either man read the letters of the other.

          We don’t have video evidence of either writing their letters but we can see the similarities in them.

          Peter, by contrast, does specifically reference Paul’s letters, and respectfully so. My point about Luke is that even decades later, Paul’s letters were not widespread. A better case would be that this is a common topic of conversation among early Christians, and the letters merely reflect ongoing topics. James’ emphasis on works would, at best, be an indirect endorsement of judaizing. Today, Catholic thought puts more emphasis on works, but they by no means are advocating judaizing.

          I think Paul brings up Peter for 2 reasons:

          1) Peter has authority within the group advocating for Judaism.
          2) Peter agrees with Paul.

          Maybe 1). I think the Galatians knew Peter. But Paul features his disagreement with Peter in Galatians 2.

          I respect that is your opinion, but there is nothing in Galatians that says that. IMO, they knew of him. Paul never says that Peter, himself, visited the region. 100% of the evidence has Peter in the region of Judea during this period, only venturing to Antioch for a specific purpose.

          Perhaps some of the others were trying to push Paul out so he was trying to include himself with the “superapostles”. Acts is fiction. Luke wrote it to make parallels for Peter and Paul. Compare Acts 10:10 and Acts 22:17 to see how he gave them both trances. Peter’s shadow healed people and Paul’s snot rag healed people.

          You certainly could be right, but there is no evidence for your conclusion. You would have to be a psychic, reading the minds of people who died thousands of years ago. Speculation is a wonderful, and fun, thing, but your stated criteria is facts. The only facts we have don’t support your conclusion. You dismiss those that disagree with your conclusion. That’s not very scientific.

          Timing and communication of that change become issues. Did the change occur before or after Galatians? Were Peter’s judaizing disciples able to get the word of the change?

          There was no change. Luke made it up to reconcile them. Even Barnabas was influenced by Cephas’ side of the argument.

          I wasn’t referring to that event, although – again – the only available evidence contradicts your conclusion. I was referring to Peter being a hypocrite. One can only be a hypocrite if one espouses one thing, but does another. For Peter to be hypocritical, he had to say that Jewish customs were not necessary, but then turn around and adhere to Jewish custom because it was necessary.

          Either the group didn’t know about the change, or they
          were so enamored of the old view that they went rouge.

          Rouge? Like they started wearing make-up?

          Or, like the Star Wars movie, “Rouge One”. They are heteronyms. Surely, you have seen people who become so convinced that they are right that they stick with their belief even when proven wrong? So, these people who pointed to Peter as their authority either didn’t know that Peter changed his mind, or simply couldn’t let go of their conviction that they were right. They were not behaving properly . . . . . like an elephant made of make-up.

        • Greg G.

          Peter, by contrast, does specifically reference Paul’s letters, and respectfully so.

          Peter did not. A forger used his name for 2 Peter and may not have been the first forger to do so. 2 Peter 1:17-18 uses the Matthew 17:1-13 version of the transfiguration episode to argue against the apparent accusation that they followed myths by professing being at one of the most obvious myths in the gospels.

          My point about Luke is that even decades later, Paul’s letters were not widespread.

          It doesn’t matter whether the letters were widespread, only that they were collected in certain places. Mark apparently had some subset, Matthew had some that included James, John had some of the earlier letters, and Luke had several of them.

          A better case would be that this is a common topic of conversation among early Christians, and the letters merely reflect ongoing topics.

          That doesn’t explain the exact wording for many phrases between Romans and James but nowhere else in the New Testament. If common topics can explain the wording, they would be in many letters, not just those two. If it was just similar pet phrases, we should see similar percentages of matches in all of Paul’s letters instead of just a few.

          James’ emphasis on works would, at best, be an indirect endorsement of judaizing.

          James 2:8-11 does specifically endorse following the Jewish Law so there is no other way to see the other examples as being indirect.

          100% of the evidence has Peter in the region of Judea during this period, only venturing to Antioch for a specific purpose.

          How much of that 100% of the evidence is red herring fiction? The Epistle of James argues specifically against points Paul raised in his Galatians letter, so it is very apparent that James had an interest in the Galatians churches, and Paul seems to have known that when he wrote Galatians. Paul also had an idea that Cephas was involved, too. Since he wrote a letter instead of visiting them to straighten it out, he was probably not there, which we can infer that he learned through a letter from someone in one of the Galatians churches, who may have mentioned James and Cephas. I can make an inference about how Paul knew James was associated with the change in beliefs of the Galatians but it is in the letter that he thought James and Cephas were involved.

          You certainly could be right, but there is no evidence for your conclusion. You would have to be a psychic, reading the minds of people who died thousands of years ago. Speculation is a wonderful, and fun, thing, but your stated criteria is facts. The only facts we have don’t support your conclusion. You dismiss those that disagree with your conclusion. That’s not very scientific.

          In Acts 8:9-24, Peter meets a sorcerer named Simon who made himself out to be a great one. Acts 13:4-11, Paul traveled to Cyprus where he met a sorcerer who was a Jew.

          Antiquities of the Jews 20.7.2
          But for the marriage of Drusilla with Azizus, it was in no long time afterward dissolved upon the following occasion: While Felix was procurator of Judea, he saw this Drusilla, and fell in love with her; for she did indeed exceed all other women in beauty; and he sent to her a person whose name was Simon one of his friends; a Jew he was, and by birth a Cypriot, and one who pretended to be a magician

          This is not an isolated coincidence. Acts (and the parts of Luke that don’t come from Mark and Matthew) have dozens of connections to Antiquities of the Jews and Vita. Luke used that passage to invent parallel adventures for Peter and Paul. That is why Luke/Acts cannot be trusted for any of the described events. You don’t have to be a psychic to see what was going on there in the writing of Acts.

          As to Galatians, we can dismiss the theory that Paul referred to James and Cephas to establish his bona fides because he criticizes them. He also criticizes the Galatians. That is hard to dismiss as coincidence. We have the Epistle of James that attacks examples of faith used in Galatians and used examples of works in their place, even quoting the same OT scriptures. Maybe Paul has made you blind for a season as he did to the sorcerer in Acts 13.

          I wasn’t referring to that event, although – again – the only available evidence contradicts your conclusion. I was referring to Peter being a hypocrite. One can only be a hypocrite if one espouses one thing, but does another.

          It is all the same incident in Antioch.

          For Peter to be hypocritical, he had to say that Jewish customs were not necessary, but then turn around and adhere to Jewish custom because it was necessary.

          hypocrite – Wiktionary
          https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hypocrite
          Noun. hypocrite (plural hypocrites) Someone who practices hypocrisy, who pretends to hold beliefs, or whose actions are not consistent with their claimed beliefs.

          Paul says Cephas ate with the Gentiles until some Jews from James arrived, then he ate with the Jews. Cephas’ actions were different when his religious buddies weren’t around and then became sanctimonious when they arrived.

          Or, like the Star Wars movie, “Rouge One”.

          Sarah Palin’s memoirs should have been called Going Rouge.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Peter, by contrast, does specifically reference Paul’s letters, and respectfully so. Peter did not. A forger used his name for 2 Peter and may not have been the first forger to do so.

          I pointed out earlier my shock that you granted James authenticity, something even Christian scholars hesitate to do. Again, it looks as if your criteria is whatever fits your narrative. We, since the evidence offers no other alternative, are discussing what disciples of Peter were teaching in Galatia. The convention at that time (and even today in articles written by grad students, but credited to professors) was for students to write pseudonymously in the name of his teacher. Even if we deny it is Peter, it can be argued it is still petrine – the issue. It wasn’t (isn’t) considered “forgery”. 2 Peter is considered to be the closest book in terms of content to 1 Peter. It would have reflected either Peter’s 1st-hand sentiment, or that which he had communicated to his student/author.

          Again, we are obliged to go with the evidence we have. We presume horses, not zebras.

          It doesn’t matter whether the letters were widespread, only that they
          were collected in certain places. Mark apparently had some subset,
          Matthew had some that included James, John had some of the earlier
          letters, and Luke had several of them.

          Again, I have stated my taste for speculation, even of the wild-eyed variety. Your opinion is driving your facts. On its best day, your “facts” are a stretch, without anything approaching solid.

          A better case would be that this is a common topic of
          conversation among early Christians, and the letters merely reflect
          ongoing topics.

          That doesn’t explain the exact wording for many phrases between Romans and James but nowhere else in the New Testament.

          Neither is a perfect explanation. Mine is just a better explanation. Yours is less plausible (bordering on impossible). At least the oral version allows for timely propagation and transmission (through intermediaries or in person). Thoughts would be verbalized before being written.

          James’ emphasis on works would, at best, be an indirect endorsement of judaizing.

          James 2:8-11 does specifically endorse following the Jewish Law so there is
          no other way to see the other examples as being indirect.

          In that case, then Paul is a judaizer, as well – he says the same thing. Nowhere does James say anything about circumcision or dietary practices – the specific topics at issue. There is simply no support for your assertion of fact. This isn’t even you pounding a square peg into a round hole. You can’t hit this hard enough to even pretend it fits.

          In Acts 8:9-24, Peter meets a sorcerer named Simon who made himself out to be a great one. Acts 13:4-11, Paul traveled to Cyprus where he met a sorcerer who was a Jew.Antiquities of the Jews 20.7.2

          . . . .and therefore, crowing roosters cause the sun to rise – science. Coincidence is not causation.

          As to Galatians, we can dismiss the theory that Paul referred to James and Cephas to establish his bona fides because he criticizes them. He also criticizes the Galatians. That is hard to dismiss as coincidence.

          1) It does not follow that one cannot both establish one’s bona fides and criticize one’s colleagues. Paul references Peter and James multiple times in a positive tone, establishing that they offered him their friendship, praised his work, and recognized him as the apostle to the gentiles.

          2) His criticism of Peter (et.al.) is – again – for his hypocrisy. He said one thing, but did another. Peter said behaving like the Gentiles was OK, but didn’t do it when social pressure was applied. In just a couple of sentences, Paul praises Peter for what he says, and criticizes him for not doing it – bona fides are established and criticism is delivered. They are not mutually exclusive.

          3) Your point about the coincidence of Paul criticizing both Peter/James and the Galatians is totally lost on me. No, it’s not coincidence – Gentile vs Jewish Christianity is the topic. Dismissing it is a straw man since I am not doing that. It’s a total non-sequiter since it doesn’t relate to establishing Paul’s bona fides. If anything. both enhance his bf since Paul is the one being true to his (and Peter’s) beliefs. FTM, if Peter is telling Gentiles it’s OK to be Gentile and Christian (he is), then Paul looks even more authoritative for saying the same thing.

          For Peter to be hypocritical, he had to say that Jewish customs were not
          necessary, but then turn around and adhere to Jewish custom because it
          was necessary.

          hypocrite – Wiktionary
          https://en.wiktionary.org/w
          Noun. hypocrite (plural hypocrites) Someone who practices hypocrisy, who pretends to hold beliefs, or whose actions are not consistent with their claimed beliefs.

          Paul says Cephas ate with the Gentiles until some Jews from James arrived,
          then he ate with the Jews. Cephas’ actions were different when his
          religious buddies weren’t around and then became sanctimonious when they
          arrived.

          To all outward appearances, you are agreeing with my characterization. Yet, you present this as if it contradicts me somehow. What am I missing?

          Sarah Palin’s memoirs should have been called Going Rouge.

          So, by your reckoning, her book is about make-up? You do grasp the speculation that some of Peter’s students could have been going against Peter’s teachings, right? We’ve traveled pretty far, chasing down this “make-up” thing while evading the point.

        • Greg G.

          I pointed out earlier my shock that you granted James authenticity, something even Christian scholars hesitate to do. Again, it looks as if your criteria is whatever fits your narrative. We, since the evidence offers no other alternative, are discussing what disciples of Peter were teaching in Galatia. The convention at that time (and even today in articles written by grad students, but credited to professors) was for students to write pseudonymously in the name of his teacher. Even if we deny it is Peter, it can be argued it is still petrine – the issue.

          I take into consideration what the scholars say about the writing styles. I also consider the topics discussed, the shared phrasing, and the relationships to other writings of the day. There are three accounts of the transfiguration in the gospels. 2 Peter has Matthew’s version in a particularly absurd passage, which puts it too late to be a work from a first century person. Jude has remarkable similarities with 2 Peter which was noticed by scholars throughout history, but I haven’t worked out if one copied the other or came from the same forger.

          Many New Testament scholars think that 1 Peter and 2 Peter are both forgeries because the gospels present Peter as a fisherman and infer that he was illiterate. I think the gospels are fiction and that 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 is telling us what Cephas (Peter) read in Isaiah and Hosea, so he was not illiterate. So 1 Peter could be written by Cephas/Peter or not IMHO but 2 Peter is not because it refers to a passage from Matthew, plus some scholars have pointed out the difference in style between 1 Peter and 2 Peter which indicates they were not written by the same person.

          It wasn’t (isn’t) considered “forgery”. 2 Peter is considered to be the closest book in terms of content to 1 Peter. It would have reflected either Peter’s 1st-hand sentiment, or that which he had communicated to his student/author.

          As I recall, Ehrman discussed that in his book on forgery in the New Testament. Such things were often considered forgery back then. That might account for 1 Peter but 2 Peter is after Matthew which depended on Antiquities of the Jews which puts 2 Peter at the very end of the first century even without assuming time for Antiquities and Matthew to be written and distributed.

          Again, we are obliged to go with the evidence we have. We presume horses, not zebras.

          You are closing your eyes to the stripes. Scholars comment on the quality of the Greek used by James as opposed to the rest of the New Testament. I think that accounts for why James didn’t borrow a lot of phrasing from the less eloquent Galatians but it would explain why Paul would have used his phrasings for Romans and 1 Corinthians, for example. Paul was not dropping the names of Cephas and James for credibility because he was criticizing them. The specific beliefs he criticized are defended in the Epistles of James and the claims Paul espoused are criticized in James. Romans then addresses several of those points in James and we find many phrases shared between those two letters that are found nowhere else in the New Testament.

          So it is apparent that James was a response to the Galatians letter and Romans responded to the James letter. Whether James and/or Cephas went to Galatia is a side issue but best accounted for if Paul had heard that they were the people who confused the Galatians.

          Neither is a perfect explanation. Mine is just a better explanation. Yours is less plausible (bordering on impossible). At least the oral version allows for timely propagation and transmission (through intermediaries or in person). Thoughts would be verbalized before being written.

          I am looking at the internal evidence in the letters and the inter-relationship of the letters that are not found elsewhere. The speculation is a secondary explanation.

          In that case, then Paul is a judaizer, as well – he says the same thing. Nowhere does James say anything about circumcision or dietary practices – the specific topics at issue. There is simply no support for your assertion of fact. This isn’t even you pounding a square peg into a round hole. You can’t hit this hard enough to even pretend it fits.

          Galatians 5:14 is from the Rabbi Hillel school of thought. James rejected it. Paul speaks of specific examples. James emphasizes following the whole law which includes circumcision and food laws. He is more concerned that following Paul’s ideas would result in committing murder and adultery, which he seems to have thought were bigger issues than circumcision and food laws. He would have thought slavery was OK because it was permitted by Jewish law while the laws about murder, adultery, circumcision, and eating must be followed, just because they were in the law. To James, committing murder or eating passover with an uncircumcised penis broke the whole law.

          . . . .and therefore, crowing roosters cause the sun to rise – science. Coincidence is not causation.

          You can only say “coincidence” so many times before it is obvious that they are not just coincidences. A pattern of coincidences shows a relationship. The nature of the relationship shows causation. Luke used Josephus as an encyclopedia using the names and offices of people as mentioned by Josephus and using names associated with them in Josephus for no reason except possibly for similitude. He has Gamalial talking about characters mentioned in Josephus in consecutive paragraphs as if they were well know in the fourth decade though one was from about four decades earlier and the other was a decade in Gamalial’s future.

          1) It does not follow that one cannot both establish one’s bona fides and criticize one’s colleagues. Paul references Peter and James multiple times in a positive tone, establishing that they offered him their friendship, praised his work, and recognized him as the apostle to the gentiles.

          If they had begun preaching to Gentiles, then that is a criticism, as he is pointing out that they had gone back on their word.

          2) His criticism of Peter (et.al.) is – again – for his hypocrisy. He said one thing, but did another. Peter said behaving like the Gentiles was OK, but didn’t do it when social pressure was applied. In just a couple of sentences, Paul praises Peter for what he says, and criticizes him for not doing it – bona fides are established and criticism is delivered. They are not mutually exclusive.

          Paul points out that he didn’t learn from any human authority just before he mentions meeting them in Jerusalem and again to the pillars specifically in Galatians 2:6.

          3) Your point about the coincidence of Paul criticizing both Peter/James and the Galatians is totally lost on me. No, it’s not coincidence – Gentile vs Jewish Christianity is the topic. Dismissing it is a straw man since I am not doing that. It’s a total non-sequiter since it doesn’t relate to establishing Paul’s bona fides. If anything. both enhance his bf since Paul is the one being true to his (and Peter’s) beliefs. FTM, if Peter is telling Gentiles it’s OK to be Gentile and Christian (he is), then Paul looks even more authoritative for saying the same thing.

          Somebody told the Galatians that they had to get circumcized and apparently that Jesus was not crucified, either. Paul had to explain the crucifixion theory to them in Galatians 3 and he associates it with the circumcisers in Galatians 6:12-23 (or thereabouts). Paul didn’t think the Gentiles had to become Jews but somebody else did.

          To all outward appearances, you are agreeing with my characterization. Yet, you present this as if it contradicts me somehow. What am I missing?

          I agree mostly with what you said but I think “hypocrite” is appropriate.

          So, by your reckoning, her book is about make-up? You do grasp the speculation that some of Peter’s students could have been going against Peter’s teachings, right? We’ve traveled pretty far, chasing down this “make-up” thing while evading the point.

          It was a joke. We were having fun with your misspelling of “rogue”. That is all.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I take into consideration what the scholars say about the writing styles. I also consider the topics discussed, the shared phrasing, and the relationships to other writings of the day. There are three accounts of the transfiguration in the gospels. 2 Peter has Matthew’s version in a particularly absurd passage, which puts it too late to be a work from a first century person. .

          You take into consideration what scholars who agree with you say, and reject those that don’t. You determine that similar accounts are the result of copying rather than accounts from 2 or more different witnesses which would validate the historicity of the event alluded to. How do you know neither is a historical account? Well, the event never happened, therefore they are copying each other. How do you know the event never happened? Well, you just believe that to be the case. It’s circular logic applied on a conspiratorial scale. It’s absurd because you have chosen to believe it is absurd.

          Many New Testament scholars think that 1 Peter and 2 Peter are both forgeries because the gospels present Peter as a fisherman and infer that he was illiterate.

          I doubt that he was illiterate (fishing makes one drunk, not illiterate), but illiterate or not, most writers of the time would have used secretaries – like Paul did – anyway. It would be irrelevant.

          As I recall, Ehrman discussed that in his book on forgery

          I respect Ehrman, but even he admits “dumbing down” the material for general audiences. “Forgery” was a great example of him knowing better.

          Somebody told the Galatians that they had to get circumcized and apparently that Jesus was not crucified, either. Paul had to explain the crucifixion theory to them in Galatians 3

          I disagree with your summary here. In Galatians 3, Paul explains WHY Jesus was crucified, and says nothing to establish the fact of his crucifixion. He assumes they already believe the fact. There is certainly nothing anywhere that suggests Peter, John, or James was teaching that Jesus was never crucified. If that was what was being taught, then we have completely removed the judiazers from the sphere of P,J, and J. They truly would be preaching a different gospel, not merely different doctrines.

          Galatians 5:14 is from the Rabbi Hillel school of thought. James rejected it. Paul speaks of specific examples. James emphasizes following the whole law which includes circumcision and food laws. He is more concerned that following Paul’s ideas would result in committing murder and adultery, which he seems to have thought were bigger issues than circumcision and food laws. He would have thought slavery was OK because it was permitted by Jewish law while the laws about murder, adultery, circumcision, and eating must be followed, just because they were in the law. To James, committing murder or eating passover with an uncircumcised penis broke the whole law.

          OK, I have found nothing in James that mentions circumcision or food (or eating Passover with Gentiles). Paul and James both point to the same OT passage as a core of their teaching. Both of them point to the importance of the 10 commandments. You are inferring something which simply is not explicitly there. Your conclusion is driving the “facts” which lead to that conclusion. The facts only exist because your conclusion manufactures them.

          I read 6 different commentaries on the passage you directed me to. Only one mentioned your spin, and that only to dismiss it as absurd.

          To all outward appearances, you are agreeing with my characterization. Yet, you present this as if it contradicts me somehow. What am I missing?

          I agree mostly with what you said but I think “hypocrite” is appropriate.

          Not “but”; “and”. We agree that Peter was a hypocrite. We agree it was an appropriate term.

        • Greg G.

          You take into consideration what scholars who agree with you say, and reject those that don’t. You determine that similar accounts are the result of copying rather than accounts from 2 or more different witnesses which would validate the historicity of the event alluded to. How do you know neither is a historical account? Well, the event never happened, therefore they are copying each other. How do you know the event never happened? Well, you just believe that to be the case. It’s circular logic applied on a conspiratorial scale. It’s absurd because you have chosen to believe it is absurd.

          Since you are accusing me of doing things I do not do instead of critiquing my actual methods, I will take your comments as an endorsement of my methodology.

          Only fools and theologians would take the transfiguration to be a real event. The events in Mark are almost all immediate. The mGNT version has “εὐθὺς” used 41 times in Mark while the Textus Receptus has “εὐθὲως” 32 times, plus a few other versions of the word for each. But Mark 9:2 says “after six days” and that stands out. There was a six day wait in Exodus 24:13-18 when Moses was on a mountain in a cloud with Joshua (which is spelled “Jesus” in the Septuagint, BTW). The clothing described in Mark 9:3 is like Daniel 9:7. Elijah enters the picture in Mark 9:4 as like the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:15 or Malach 4:5-6. Mark 9:7 has the cloud from Exodus 24:15-16 and 40:34, “you are my son” from Psalm 2:7, and the “listen to him” from Deuteronomy 18:15. Mark 9:9 harks back to Mark 1:11 and Mark 8:30 when he said to not tell anybody. Mark 9:11-12 comes from Malachi 4:5-6, Psalm 22:7, and Isaiah 53:3. Matthew 17:1-8 us based on Mark’s story but Matthew takes the words from the sky from Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1:11, which is the distinguishing characteristic mentioned in 2 Peter that he used Matthew’s version.

          The story is cobbled together from older literature. It is typical of the gospels.

          I doubt that he was illiterate (fishing makes one drunk, not illiterate), but illiterate or not, most writers of the time would have used secretaries – like Paul did – anyway. It would be irrelevant.

          Most people were illiterate back then. I think Ehrman gave an example of an ancient author writing that a certain person was not illiterate because he could write his name. The rare literate person would fare better exploiting that ability than fishing.

          I respect Ehrman, but even he admits “dumbing down” the material for general audiences. “Forgery” was a great example of him knowing better.

          The emphasis he put on that point is what I remember most about that book. He was arguing against the claims of other scholars on that point. He said it was considered forgery back then and gave several examples. Nevertheless, today, a writing claiming to be written by someone who did not write it is a forgery, even if it was written at a time when it was not considered forgery.

          I disagree with your summary here. In Galatians 3, Paul explains WHY Jesus was crucified, and says nothing to establish the fact of his crucifixion. He assumes they already believe the fact.

          Galatians 3:1 (NRSV)1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified!

          How would you publicly exhibit that a person was crucified? I think Paul reiterates how he inferred the crucifixion from the scriptures and how he previously publicly demonstrated it. If you admonish someone for being foolish and bewitched, you either give an example of what they do not believe or something foolish that they do believe. Since we can rule out the latter in this case, the former makes more sense.

          But Paul’s argument fails twice in Galatians 3:10-13, once on the equivocation of the word “curse” as opposed to the use in Galatians 3:13 and the second time on the equivocation of the Greek word in the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy 27:26 that can mean “tree,” “wood,” or “cross” but is the word for “tree” in the Hebrew version. Paul never supplies a logical sequence for how dying while being cursed would remove the curse of the law.

          There is certainly nothing anywhere that suggests Peter, John, or James was teaching that Jesus was never crucified.

          Galatians 6:12 (NRSV)12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.

          Paul associates the rejection of the crucifixion with the circumcision faction. He identified the circumcision faction in Galatians 2:11-12 with James as their leader who sent the men to whom Cephas cowed.

          1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NRSV)22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

          Paul separates himself from the Jews and proclaims that we (Paul and Sosthenes) proclaim that Jesus was crucified but the Jews have a problem with that idea.

          If that was what was being taught, then we have completely removed the judiazers from the sphere of P,J, and J. They truly would be preaching a different gospel, not merely different doctrines.

          There is nothing in the early epistles about the Jesus of the gospels. The epistles only give information about Jesus that can be found in the OT. They didn’t know anything about a first century Jesus, only the one they made up by deliberately misreading the Suffering Servant. They read about the death for sins, burial, and resurrection in Isaiah 53. If Cephas and James knew a first century Jesus, they surely would have mentioned that fact when Paul visited Cephas for a couple of weeks. If Paul knew that they had, he wouldn’t be able to claim that his knowledge was not inferior to the “superapostles” as he did in 2 Corinthians 11:4-6 and 2 Corinthians 12:11. Paul shows that his knowledge came from revelation which he associates with getting knowledge from the scriptures.

          OK, I have found nothing in James that mentions circumcision or food (or eating Passover with Gentiles). Paul and James both point to the same OT passage as a core of their teaching. Both of them point to the importance of the 10 commandments. You are inferring something which simply is not explicitly there. Your conclusion is driving the “facts” which lead to that conclusion. The facts only exist because your conclusion manufactures them.

          Why are you having so much problem reading James 2:10?

          James 2:10 (NRSV)
          10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

          He is saying that if a person keeps 612 of the 613 Jewish laws but picks up one stick on the sabbath, that person is accountable for everything in the law. Failing to eat passover does the same thing. Eating passover with an uncut penis does the same thing. It is not that complicated.

          I read 6 different commentaries on the passage you directed me to. Only one mentioned your spin, and that only to dismiss it as absurd.

          Commentaries are written by professional theologians. If they go too far from present theology, they tend to become no longer professional, whether they signed a faith statement or not. See Thomas Brodie, Michael Licona, or Tommy Thompson.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Only fools and theologians would take the transfiguration to be a real event.

          Do you see the logical fallacy in that statement?

        • Paul B. Lot

          Only fools and theologians would take the transfiguration to be a real event.

          Do you see the logical fallacy in that statement?

          False Dichotomy?

        • Clement Agonistes

          LOL.

          Be sure to tip your waitresses, people. He’ll be here all week.

        • Greg G.

          Only fools and theologians would take the transfiguration to be a real event.

          Do you see the logical fallacy in that statement?

          Do you see the hyperbole in that statement?

        • Clement Agonistes

          I asked first.

          I guess I should ask if wild exaggerations are a characteristic of your assertions. Maybe I have been making the mistake of taking what you say as sincere.

        • Clement Agonistes

          illiterate or not, most writers of the time would have used secretaries – like Paul did – anyway. It would be irrelevant.

          Most people were illiterate back then. I think Ehrman gave an example of an
          ancient author writing that a certain person was not illiterate because
          he could write his name. The rare literate person would fare better
          exploiting that ability than fishing.

          You miss the point. Literate or illiterate, the use of a secretary to do the actual writing was common. The word choice might not even be that of the speaker, but that of the scribe. Did you ever wonder why scribes were included in the lists of people who were misleading people about the nature of God? They added their own 2 cents’ worth.

          Galatians 3:1 (NRSV)
          1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified!

          How would you publicly exhibit that a person was crucified?

          The translation you chose does not do the Greek justice. The Greek word means something to the effect of applying paint in the creation of a painting. Several translations use the word “portrayed”. Paul had painted a mental image for them. I think if you will read some of the commentaries, it would be really helpful in avoiding misunderstanding what is being said.

          crucified.

          Galatians 6:12 (NRSV)
          12
          It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to
          compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for
          the cross of Christ.

          Paul associates the rejection
          of the crucifixion with the circumcision faction. He identified the
          circumcision faction in Galatians 2:11-12 with James as their leader who
          sent the men to whom Cephas cowed.

          You misunderstand what is written. The judaizers do not want to be persecuted by Jews. Muck like Peter’s appeal to them in Antioch, they are trying to go along to get along – “make a good showing in the flesh” . . . . that they (the judaizers) may not be persecuted (by Jews) [because they are Christians]”. There is no rejection of the crucifixion by these people – they just want to obey Jewish law.

          1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NRSV)
          22 For Jews demand
          signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a
          stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who
          are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the
          wisdom of God.

          Paul separates himself from the
          Jews and proclaims that we (Paul and Sosthenes) proclaim that Jesus was
          crucified but the Jews have a problem with that idea.

          The Jews have a problem with a Messiah who does not conquer and raise Israel to the most powerful nation on Earth. Judaizers have no problem with this. Their concern is on the cultural side of Judaism.

          But, this passage does not address the issue you need to have addressed. This one might be comparable to a modern politician pointing out that both Republicans and Democrats oppose him, so he must be right.

          If that was what was being taught, then we have completely
          removed the judiazers from the sphere of P,J, and J. They truly would be
          preaching a different gospel, not merely different doctrines.

          There is nothing in the early epistles about the Jesus of the gospels

          We’ve touched on this before, and I didn’t give it the attention it needed. Atheists absolutely love the wrathful God portrayed in (some of – they ignore the parts that don’t fit their narrative) the OT. Christians view the OT as pointing to Jesus. You seem to think it is some sort of great insight that so many NT scriptures point back to the OT. You are discovering what Christians have been saying since Day One – that Jesus was predicted by the OT.

          At times (gJohn, i.e.), they seem to bust their chops to make Jesus fit OT prophesies. It’s a gigantic “I told you so.” They seem to delight in the fact that it was right under their noses the entire time, but they didn’t see it until it their noses were supernaturally rubbed in it.

          When I joined in the comments about this column of Bob’s, I pointed out that Paul mentions post-resurrection appearances of Jesus decades before the Gospels were written. He mentions other events – ripping the Corinthians for screwing up the Lord’s Supper, for instance. So, yeah, there was some stuff.

          The epistles wouldn’t even exist, except for problems in the young church. The epistles weren’t meant to be Gospels. They were meant to solve problems. The assumption they all share is that the readers were already familiar with the story of Jesus (as “portrayed” by Paul and others). There is no need to re-tell the story. A refrigerator manual doesn’t need to tell how refrigerators came to exist.

          ames 2:10 (NRSV)
          10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

          He is saying that if a person keeps 612 of the 613 Jewish laws but picks
          up one stick on the sabbath, that person is accountable for everything
          in the law. Failing to eat passover does the same thing. Eating passover
          with an uncut penis does the same thing. It is not that complicated.

          He is saying . . . . . . the exact same thing Paul says. He is saying that if the Law is your pathway to righteousness, you will fail to achieve righteousness. No human can avoid breaking a law. Therefore, trying to obtain righteousness through obeying the law perfectly will fail. Failing even one law means imperfection.

          And, both Paul and James say obeying the 10 commandments is expected. If a person says he has faith, yet does not obey the 10Cs, then he is lying; his faith is not real.

          NOWHERE does James say ANYTHING about passover OR circumcision. That is all you. You are putting words in his mouth without evidence that James ever said them. The ONLY evidence we have (James’ letter)contradicts you.

        • Greg G.

          You miss the point. Literate or illiterate, the use of a secretary to do the actual writing was common. The word choice might not even be that of the speaker, but that of the scribe. Did you ever wonder why scribes were included in the lists of people who were misleading people about the nature of God? They added their own 2 cents’ worth.

          Sure, that’s an amanuensis. Paul made a point that he was writing in his own hand in Galatians 6:11. He writes something similar in 1 Corinthians 16:21. The writing style is consistent enough in seven letters to distinguish itself from the style of the Deutero-Pauline letters, as well as the subject matter discussed. So, maybe the authentic Pauline epistle were written by Tertius, per Romans 16:22. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says Cephas was the first to see that according to the scriptures that Christ had died for sins, was buried, and rose on the third day. That indicates that Cephas could read at a greater level than barely functional. The Epistle of James shows great knowledge of the scripture which implies knowledge achieved through study and the ability to read.

          The unique shared phrases in the letters beyond the number expected by chance if unrelated is high between Galatians and Romans, which we would expect from a common author. But the unique shared phrases between Romans and James is far greater than those between James and Galatians. Whoever wrote James was not using the language from Galatians but was addressing the topics. Whoever wrote Romans was probably the same who wrote Galatians and he was using the wording of James quite often, as well as addressing the arguments. It shows that Paul knew that the letter from James was referring to his letter to the Galatians.

          The translation you chose does not do the Greek justice. The Greek word means something to the effect of applying paint in the creation of a painting. Several translations use the word “portrayed”. Paul had painted a mental image for them. I think if you will read some of the commentaries, it would be really helpful in avoiding misunderstanding what is being said.

          That is an interesting point I had never considered. Strong’s shows this definition:

          I. to write before (of time)
            A. of old set forth or designated before hand (in the scriptures of the OT)
          II. to depict or portray openly
            A. to write before the eyes of all who can read
            B. to depict, portray, paint, before the eyes

          I will have to think some more about this but I think definition “I. to write before (of time)” might be the actual meaning. That meaning is also used in Romans 15:4 where it refers to the Romans 15:3 quote of Psalm 69:9. Paul proceeds to show what was written before, quoting many OT verses from Galatians 3:6-14 to show that Jesus was crucified.

          You misunderstand what is written. The judaizers do not want to be persecuted by Jews. Muck like Peter’s appeal to them in Antioch, they are trying to go along to get along – “make a good showing in the flesh” . . . . that they (the judaizers) may not be persecuted (by Jews) [because they are Christians]”. There is no rejection of the crucifixion by these people – they just want to obey Jewish law.

          I certainly do not understand this. Why would the position on a particular crucifixion have any bearing on the obesience of Jewish law? Many Jews believed a Messiah was coming in the first century. At least one sect believed this Messiah would be a previously resurrected human. At least Paul thought this Messiah would be a previously crucified resurrected human.

          The Jews have a problem with a Messiah who does not conquer and raise Israel to the most powerful nation on Earth. Judaizers have no problem with this. Their concern is on the cultural side of Judaism.

          But, this passage does not address the issue you need to have addressed. This one might be comparable to a modern politician pointing out that both Republicans and Democrats oppose him, so he must be right.

          I am short on time and I am not getting your point so I am moving on.

          We’ve touched on this before, and I didn’t give it the attention it needed. Atheists absolutely love the wrathful God portrayed in (some of – they ignore the parts that don’t fit their narrative) the OT.

          A psychpathic killer who helps old ladies cross the street is still a psychopathic killer.

          Christians view the OT as pointing to Jesus. You seem to think it is some sort of great insight that so many NT scriptures point back to the OT. You are discovering what Christians have been saying since Day One – that Jesus was predicted by the OT.

          I know that is what Christians say but they think it is prophecy. I think the early Christians didn’t know anything about a Jesus except what they read into the scriptures. Sure we see unqualified promises that David’s throne would last forever, then conditions that must be obeyed, and then the throne fell but it would be restored eventually. The early early epistles only make references to the OT Jesus, not to any first century Jesus. They imagined the Jesus and the next generation imagined that the imaginary Jesus was a first century person.

          At times (gJohn, i.e.), they seem to bust their chops to make Jesus fit OT prophesies. It’s a gigantic “I told you so.” They seem to delight in the fact that it was right under their noses the entire time, but they didn’t see it until it their noses were supernaturally rubbed in it.

          Matthew does it, too. They went through the OT scriptures to make up material that fulfilled them.

          When I joined in the comments about this column of Bob’s, I pointed out that Paul mentions post-resurrection appearances of Jesus decades before the Gospels were written. He mentions other events – ripping the Corinthians for screwing up the Lord’s Supper, for instance. So, yeah, there was some stuff.

          Paul is telling what they saw in the scriptures. That is what “according to the scriptures” the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 died for sins, was buried, and resurrection is implied by his intercession for sins and Hosea 6:2 confirms it by saying it was on the third day.

          The epistles wouldn’t even exist, except for problems in the young church. The epistles weren’t meant to be Gospels. They were meant to solve problems. The assumption they all share is that the readers were already familiar with the story of Jesus (as “portrayed” by Paul and others). There is no need to re-tell the story. A refrigerator manual doesn’t need to tell how refrigerators came to exist.

          Paul loved to talk about Jesus. He used “Jesus”, “Christ”, of combinations of the words about once for every five verses. If he knew more than what was in the OT, surely he would have mentioned it. But it is the same in the other epistles, too. Only 1 Timothy and 2 Peter report what was in the gospels. 1 Timothy mentions Pontius Pilate which indicates it came from Luke, the only gospel with his first name because Luke got it from Antiquities. 2 Peter used Matthew.

          He is saying . . . . . . the exact same thing Paul says. He is saying that if the Law is your pathway to righteousness, you will fail to achieve righteousness. No human can avoid breaking a law. Therefore, trying to obtain righteousness through obeying the law perfectly will fail. Failing even one law means imperfection.

          He is not. Galatians 5:14 says you follow the whole law by following Leviticus 19:18. James 2:8-10 is saying Leviticus 19:18 is a good start but you have to actually follow every bit of it.

          And, both Paul and James say obeying the 10 commandments is expected. If a person says he has faith, yet does not obey the 10Cs, then he is lying; his faith is not real.

          Paul says you do not murder nor commit adultery nor steal nor covet if you just love your neighbor in Romans. But loving your neighbor doesn’t get you circumcised, does it? You have to follow the whole law to get to that. Paul doesn’t think you have to follow that part of the law but James insists that you do.

          NOWHERE does James say ANYTHING about passover OR circumcision. That is all you. You are putting words in his mouth without evidence that James ever said them. The ONLY evidence we have (James’ letter)contradicts you.

          Passover and circumcison are part of the law. James says if you fail any point of the law, you fail the whole law. He wasn’t obsessed with any particular point of the law like Paul was in Galatians. He was only obsessed with the whole Torah.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Whoever wrote Romans was probably the same who wrote Galatians and he
          was using the wording of James quite often, as well as addressing the
          arguments. It shows that Paul knew that the letter from James was
          referring to his letter to the Galatians.

          If we are going with the mainstream of scholarship here (in several cases, you aren’t, so this point may not be valid from your POV), Galatians was one of the earliest letters of Paul, and Romans was written within a year later. James was written almost 20 years later. Paul couldn’t have written Romans with a knowledge of James.

          Let me set up this next thought (one I have made previously, but you have glossed over). I may have mentioned that I have a brother (who is an atheist – irrelevant for this discussion). We talk politics all the time. We also participate in an online politics forum. Many times, i find i am using his wording to express an opinion. He finds the reverse (my wording). Our oral discussions end up in our written communications. Given the importance of oral communication in the culture of the 1st century, it makes far more sense that both Paul and James had been engaged in countless discussions with others and each other over these issues. Surely, they could not be the only ones having them?

          I think i am offering you an “out” here to make your theory work with a timeline that prohibits it. When these far away early churches had these problems, surely the problems are discussed orally as they are developing, and then finally in writing as they become serious enough. In Paul’s letters and in Acts, you get the sense of emissaries constantly going back and forth between the various principals and locations. An example would be the judaizers who James, ostensibly, was sending to the Galatians – he would be sending verbal instruction, not written. This should be an easy concept for you to accept since your evidence depends on it happening.

          As I read James, I don’t see that much conflict with Romans/Galatians. I see James trying to emphasize that faith will never occur without works. Even today, there are Christians who will publically say they have faith, but continue living their lives as if nothing has changed. Don’t we love the story of the hypocritical preacher? Each of the Gospels has some nuance that they think the others are missing. Yeah, that creates some friction, but not at the core. At their core, James and Paul do not conflict. Paul may not give as much emphasis to works (he give a lot, IMO) as James.

          I certainly do not understand this. Why would the position on a
          particular crucifixion have any bearing on the obesience of Jewish law?
          Many Jews believed a Messiah was coming in the first century. At least
          one sect believed this Messiah would be a previously resurrected human.
          At least Paul thought this Messiah would be a previously crucified
          resurrected human.

          The Jews have a problem with a
          Messiah who does not conquer and raise Israel to the most powerful
          nation on Earth. Judaizers have no problem with this. Their concern is
          on the cultural side of Judaism.

          But, this passage does not
          address the issue you need to have addressed. This one might be
          comparable to a modern politician pointing out that both Republicans and
          Democrats oppose him, so he must be right.

          I am short on time and I am not getting your point so I am moving on.

          All of this is related. Clearly, James, Peter, and Paul are being pressured by the Jewish leadership (of Judaism, not Christianity). James is executed by them. Paul is severely beaten numerous times. We have contemporaneous Roman gov’t accounts of violence between Jews and Christians. If Paul is teaching Jewish converts that it is OK to eat Gentile food, Jews have a problem with this. If he is teaching Gentiles that they can join this Jewish cult without becoming Jewish, they have a problem with that, too.

          Within Judaism, itself, there are sects with wildly different beliefs. But, they all agree on diet and circumcision. If Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity will adhere to Jewish diet and circumcision, the problem – persecution – goes away. The judaizers – who believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected – are saying, “Just observe Jewish diet and circumcision, and you will not be persecuted.” Paul teaches that Jesus’ death negates all that. Going back to all those unnecessary laws means losing Jesus’s laser-like focus on Truth for all mankind – it defeats the purpose. Jesus died in order to free Mankind from that.

          Think of it as 3 species: Christians, Jews, and the hybrid – Judaizers. Christians do not adhere to the 600+ laws. Jews do not accept that Jesus was the son of God. Judaizers accept Jesus and the laws. Jesus’ death and resurrection is a problem (“stumbling block”) for Jews becoming Christian. They can’t make that leap, but they can accept (not persecute) if the new cult obeys the laws.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Christians view the OT as pointing to Jesus. You seem to think it is some sort of great insight that so many NT scriptures point back to the OT. You are discovering what Christians have been saying since Day One – that Jesus was predicted by the OT.

          I know that is what Christians say but they think it is prophecy. I think the early Christians didn’t know anything about a Jesus except what they read into the scriptures. Sure we see unqualified promises that David’s throne would last forever, then conditions that must be obeyed, and then the throne fell but it would be restored eventually. The early early epistles only make references to the OT Jesus, not to any first century Jesus.

          At best, one wouldn’t be able to tell the difference – are prophesies being fulfilled, or is the whole thing a fiction that is defined by OT writings? However, we do have Paul referring to Jesus’ multiple appearances after His death – including that to Peter. The conspiracy gets more and more complicated as we are forced to abandon the most logical explanations for convoluted plots. I’ve seen atheists who avowed – with the same confidence you exude – that Peter was a fictional character created by Paul. You, at least still accept that Peter and James were real people. But, Peter and James must have told Paul about what they saw. Their experiences are 1st century Jesus-events that don’t fit OT prophesies.

          Now, maybe the plot twist is that it isn’t mentioned is that Paul spotted this flaw in his earliest (was “early early” a typo, or a point?), and it was only much later, in I Corinthians, that he corrected it. I Corinthians was within a year of Galatians, so that theory doesn’t work.

        • Greg G.

          At best, one wouldn’t be able to tell the difference – are prophesies being fulfilled, or is the whole thing a fiction that is defined by OT writings? However, we do have Paul referring to Jesus’ multiple appearances after His death – including that to Peter.

          I feel like I am repeating myself. Paul is not saying that Jesus appeared to anybody. He is saying they read “according to the scriptures” that the Suffering Servant died for sins, was buried, and was resurrected on the third day. It was the handwritten text that they saw, not an apparition or a physical manifestation of Jesus.

          Paul doesn’t say he ever saw Jesus, dead or alive. He says he had a vision of the third heaven once but not Jesus. Yet in 1 Corinthians 15, he writes of his own “appeared to” just as he did the others, and we can see that everything Paul says about Jesus can be traced to the old scriptures. He doesn’t think that Cephas, the 12, the 500, nor James saw anything different. He insists that his knowledge is not inferior to the “superapostles” so he doesn’t think they had any additional insight like spending time with a live gospel Jesus.

          If you saw three people being crucified and dying, how can you tell that one of them died for sins? You can’t. You can only read that in a scripture that is misinterpreted.

          The conspiracy gets more and more complicated as we are forced to abandon the most logical explanations for convoluted plots.

          What is convoluted? A century or two earlier, some read about the throne of David prophecies and concluded that someone would claim it. Every generation tried to come up with reasons to think their generation would see this happen. Cephas read about the Suffering Servant metaphor as a historical person from centuries earlier who had for sins, was buried, intercessed for sins, and resurrected on the third day. They took that as a revelation and since the revelation came during their generation that the Messiah would come to that generation. Paul tacked on some additional theology to market it to Gentiles. Two or three decades later, someone wrote a fictional story about that Jesus had actually existed in the first century.

          That is less convoluted than believing those stories about a magic man who came back to life. It is less convoluted than believing in a being that is omnipotent and omnibenevolent yet allows sentient beings to suffer.

          Their experiences are 1st century Jesus-events that don’t fit OT prophesies.

          They had first century experiences and imagined a Jesus from a past century.

          Now, maybe the plot twist is that it isn’t mentioned is that Paul spotted this flaw in his earliest (was “early early” a typo, or a point?), and it was only much later, in I Corinthians, that he corrected it. I Corinthians was within a year of Galatians, so that theory doesn’t work.

          The epistles are dated with Acts in mind. Acts is fiction, loosely based on Paul’s epistles. The only datable reference in Paul’s letters is the mention of King Aretas in 2 Corinthians 11:32. King Aretas !V ruled from about 9BC to 40AD. There is nothing that rules out King Aretas III who ruled from 84 to 60 BC. Mark wrote his gospel after the war and put the setting of his story a generation before the war. Perhaps he tried to align it with Aretas but with a rule that lasted a half century, it is a target that could be hit with ones eyes closed. I think the best that can be done is to work out a sequence here and there. Some of his epistles have few shared unique phrases with James and some have many. I think those with many probably came after James was written, which includes Romans and 1 Corinthians.

        • Clement Agonistes

          At best, one wouldn’t be able to tell the difference – are
          prophesies being fulfilled, or is the whole thing a fiction that is
          defined by OT writings? However, we do have Paul referring to Jesus’
          multiple appearances after His death – including that to Peter.

          I
          feel like I am repeating myself. Paul is not saying that Jesus appeared
          to anybody. He is saying they read “according to the scriptures”

          IF we take Paul at face value, that is exactly what he is saying – that these were literal, personal appearances. You look at “according to the scriptures” and read that as, “as was first reported by the scriptures”. I read that as, “as the scriptures predicted it would happen”.

          Yes, you are repeating yourself. Repeating yourself does not cause your interpretation to become correct. Your interpretation would be the fringe of the fringe in terms of the number of people who share it with you. Objective readers would take Paul at face value that he is referencing real events, predicted by the OT.

          I’m going to confess that I’m not even sure which OT scripture Paul is talking about. There are plenty that predict Jesus’ death on the cross, but I’m at a loss to come up with any that say Jesus will be resurrected, much less make multiple, personal appearances. That may be a reflection of my lack of Bible knowledge. However, you know your stuff and I want to be educated if there is such a thing.

          If there is not such a reference, then the quote from I Corinthians would seem to only be talking about Jesus death being in accord with OT predictions. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” [stop thought, and start the next one – without the “according to the Scripture” applying] .

        • Greg G.

          IF we take Paul at face value, that is exactly what he is saying – that these were literal, personal appearances. You look at “according to the scriptures” and read that as, “as was first reported by the scriptures”. I read that as, “as the scriptures predicted it would happen”.

          You are reading the fictional gospels back into the epistles.

          I’m going to confess that I’m not even sure which OT scripture Paul is talking about. There are plenty that predict Jesus’ death on the cross, but I’m at a loss to come up with any that say Jesus will be resurrected, much less make multiple, personal appearances. That may be a reflection of my lack of Bible knowledge. However, you know your stuff and I want to be educated if there is such a thing.

          I have told you many times to read Isaiah 53. It is 12 verses long. It’s in the Old Testament. See also Zechariah 3. It seems to pick-up at the third day with a person in dirty clothes, as if crushed, appears before God. His name is Jesus in the Septuagint, if you are curious where they got the name. That’s 10 verses. It’s in the Old Testament, too.

          If there is not such a reference, then the quote from I Corinthians would seem to only be talking about Jesus death being in accord with OT predictions. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” [stop thought, and start the next one – without the “according to the Scripture” applying] .

          Isaiah 53:5 (NRSV)5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,    crushed for our iniquities;upon him was the punishment that made us whole,    and by his bruises we are healed.

          Isaiah 53:9 (NRSV)9 They made his grave with the wicked    and his tomb with the rich,although he had done no violence,    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

        • Clement Agonistes

          You are reading the fictional gospels back into the epistles.

          Doesn’t that demand that you know what the non-fiction version is? To me. this kind of assertion has the ring of a conspiracy nut asserting that 9/11 was actually executed by the US Government. Since you have knowledge that no human being can possibly posses, you can know with absolute certainty that the only facts available were a cleverly contrived fiction.

          It’s one thing for me to admit that I can’t know with certainty, but it’s quite another for you to say that you can know with absolute certainty that the opposite is true.

          If we applied this same standard to every event in ancient history, none would survive. Not only would we have to reject that they ever happened, we’d have new, fanciful versions in which the Persians defeat Alexander (a fictional stand-in for incompetent generals) in battle.

          I have told you many times to read Isaiah 53. It is 12 verses long. It’s
          in the Old Testament. See also Zechariah 3. It seems to pick-up at the
          third day with a person in dirty clothes, as if crushed, appears before
          God. His name is Jesus in the Septuagint, if you are curious where they
          got the name.

          The irony of this is that you have determined that I have not looked into this. You assume that no knowledgeable person could possibly disagree with you (an argument which appeals to anyone’s ego). Not only did I finish a study of both books about 4 months ago, I even researched the very “Jesus” point you raise here. I’ll have to look up the source that debunked your theory here, but suffice it to say that it just doesn’t fit (too many – implausible – assumptions).

          So, the issue I raised is still on the table. IF Paul got Jesus’ resurrection from the OT, where did he get it from? The death of Jesus – which is in proximity in your quote from Paul – is mentioned, multiple times. You at least have plausibility on that count. However, if there is no mention of resurrection in the OT, then your theory has a massive gaping hole in it. A conspiracy theory is like a gambling parlay – it cannot fail even once in order to win. The more convoluted the conspiracy theory, the more difficult it is for it to be correct. If there was no OT scripture which says what you claim, then you house of cards collapses.

          If there is not such a reference, then the quote from I
          Corinthians would seem to only be talking about Jesus death being in
          accord with OT predictions. “Christ died for our sins according to the
          Scriptures” [stop thought, and start the next one – without the
          “according to the Scripture” applying] .

          Isaiah 53:5 (NRSV)
          5
          But he was wounded for our transgressions,
          crushed for our iniquities;
          upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
          and by his bruises we are healed.

          Isaiah 53:9 (NRSV)
          9
          They made his grave with the wicked
          and his tomb with the rich,
          although he had done no violence,
          and there was no deceit in his mouth.

          Those do not support resurrection – the issue here. They do support death, and I have already agreed with you on this point – it is not at issue. The Christian assertion is that the proper interpretation of Paul is of the OT predictions being fulfilled. Christians are surprised by Jesus’ resurrection. No one saw that coming. You, however, did. You claim that Jesus’ resurrection was something Paul saw in the OT. This is the point you need to support. It still does not address the interpretation issue, but your assertion of fact demands it be there.

        • Greg G.

          Doesn’t that demand that you know what the non-fiction version is?

          Do you think Star Wars is fiction? Do you think Lord of the Rings is fiction? Do you have the non-fiction versions?

          It’s one thing for me to admit that I can’t know with certainty, but it’s quite another for you to say that you can know with absolute certainty that the opposite is true.

          Do you think The Aeneid by Virgil is fiction? We can tell it is because it is based on the Homeric epics. It is the same with the Gospel of Mark. We can identify the sources for at least 80% of Mark nearly 2000 years later, including parts based on the Homeric epics. That means the other gospels have some of the same miracles that Mark invented from the literature of the day so the other gospel authors didn’t get their information from oral tradition, they got it from Mark.

          If we applied this same standard to every event in ancient history, none would survive. Not only would we have to reject that they ever happened, we’d have new, fanciful versions in which the Persians defeat Alexander (a fictional stand-in for incompetent generals) in battle.

          Probably, so why would anybody use your strawman version?

          The irony of this is that you have determined that I have not looked into this. You assume that no knowledgeable person could possibly disagree with you (an argument which appeals to anyone’s ego). Not only did I finish a study of both books about 4 months ago, I even researched the very “Jesus” point you raise here. I’ll have to look up the source that debunked your theory here, but suffice it to say that it just doesn’t fit (too many – implausible – assumptions).

          So, the issue I raised is still on the table. IF Paul got Jesus’ resurrection from the OT, where did he get it from? The death of Jesus – which is in proximity in your quote from Paul – is mentioned, multiple times. You at least have plausibility on that count. However, if there is no mention of resurrection in the OT, then your theory has a massive gaping hole in it. A conspiracy theory is like a gambling parlay – it cannot fail even once in order to win. The more convoluted the conspiracy theory, the more difficult it is for it to be correct. If there was no OT scripture which says what you claim, then you house of cards collapses.

          Paul wrote, “according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles.” Paul’s use of scripture shows a lot of cherry-picking for the hidden parts. When you did your study, did you concentrate on the camouflage or what Paul thought was the hidden mysteries? If you disagree that Paul was referring to, please show me an alternative source in the “prophetic writings”.

          The last three verses of Isaiah 53 imply that the Suffering Servant will be doing things after death, which implies resurrection. That leads to Hosea 6:2 with the raising up after three days (or on the third day?). Then you have Zechariah 3. Remember that they use midrash and the ancient holy scriptures, not reason and historical documents, so they could cherry-pick because the Lord was giving them revelations. They really wanted the Messiah prophecy to be true and they wanted to see it fulfilled while they were alive. Midrash afforded them that superstitious hope.

          Those do not support resurrection – the issue here. They do support death, and I have already agreed with you on this point – it is not at issue.

          How many times do I have to refer you to Hosea 6:2? If you don’t think it is that verse, then show me a better passage that Paul means by “according to the scriptures”.

          The Christian assertion is that the proper interpretation of Paul is of the OT predictions being fulfilled. Christians are surprised by Jesus’ resurrection. No one saw that coming.

          In the fictional gospels, there is surprise. Not in the epistles where they start with the premise of a resurrected first fruit as proof that resurrection is possible.

          You, however, did. You claim that Jesus’ resurrection was something Paul saw in the OT. This is the point you need to support. It still does not address the interpretation issue, but your assertion of fact demands it be there.

          Why is so hard about this? It is not my claim that Paul got the resurrection from the scriptures, Paul frickin’ says it comes from the scriptures:

          1 Corinthians 15:4b (NRSV)
          … and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,

          I don’t need further support but here are some places that Paul could be referring to: Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10, and Hosea 6:2. I’m pretty sure the “third day” comes from Hosea. If you disagree that he got it from these scriptures, please show me which scriptures Paul is referring to.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Doesn’t that demand that you know what the non-fiction version is?

          Do you think Star Wars is fiction? Do you think Lord of the Rings is fiction? Do you have the non-fiction versions?

          So what is it that separates non-fictions versions from fiction versions? That the NF version is the truth, and the fictional versions are not true, right? So, how do you know that your version is true, and the other (Christian) version is not? The only way you can know that your version is true is to know that the truth is, and see that your version fits, and theirs doesn’t. Since you know with absolute certainty that you are right and everyone else is wrong, then that means you know the objective truth about this subject.

          Yet, as you admit, there is no video of the events. In fact, the only evidence we have states the opposite of your conclusion. You are able to dismiss that evidence based on the fact that your version of events is the truth. It’s true because you say it is true, and you are saying it is true because you are right. Once a person knows the truth, evidence appears as if out of nowhere. All roads lead to your conclusion.

          the other gospel authors didn’t get their information from oral tradition, they got it from Mark.

          We don’t really know that, do we? We accept the current-day analysis, which itself is highly speculative. We’re talking probability, at best. Yet, you freely use speculation as if it were concrete fact.

          If we applied this same standard to every event in ancient history, none would survive. Not only would we have to reject that they ever happened, we’d have new, fanciful versions in which the Persians defeat Alexander (a fictional stand-in for incompetent generals) in battle.

          Probably, so why would anybody use your strawman version?

          Well, du-uh, because they need Alexander to be a fictional character to validate their view of reality. The accounts we have of him are based on the literary conventions of the day, and that similarity proves Alexander was fictional. I can repeat that multiple times to cause it to become true if you’d like.

        • Greg G.

          So what is it that separates non-fictions versions from fiction versions? That the NF version is the truth, and the fictional versions are not true, right? So, how do you know that your version is true, and the other (Christian) version is not? The only way you can know that your version is true is to know that the truth is, and see that your version fits, and theirs doesn’t. Since you know with absolute certainty that you are right and everyone else is wrong, then that means you know the objective truth about this subject.

          There are lots of ways to write fiction and lots of ways to write non-fiction. You can write fiction about a real person and you can write ficitionalized accounts about real events but you don’t have to do that. Fiction can be imaginary.

          Epistle Jesus is based on a prophecy about the throne of David that lots of mid-first century Jews believed but with an imaginary person from centuries past based on a metaphor for the nation of Israel. Gospel Jesus is a fictional account of the Epistle Jesus existing in the first third of the first century. There is no non-fiction version.

          Yet, as you admit, there is no video of the events. In fact, the only evidence we have states the opposite of your conclusion. You are able to dismiss that evidence based on the fact that your version of events is the truth. It’s true because you say it is true, and you are saying it is true because you are right. Once a person knows the truth, evidence appears as if out of nowhere. All roads lead to your conclusion.

          Right, no video evidence. But we do have a lot about Epistle Jesus and all of it can be traced to OT writings. They don’t say anything about a first century Jesus.

          I am not saying it is true because I say it is true. I am saying that it is far more likely that it is a fictional story based on the evidence that the writers used other fictional stories than there were real events that followed the events described in the literature of the day.

          We don’t really know that, do we? We accept the current-day analysis, which itself is highly speculative. We’re talking probability, at best. Yet, you freely use speculation as if it were concrete fact.

          When we say we know something, I do not think we mean absolute certainty. If I have 99.99% certainty about a million things, I am probably wrong about 100 of them. We see lots of superstition in the ancient writings. Most of them didn’t know where the sun went at night but they had hypotheses with few valid observations. There were tales of magic men doing astounding things. There were tales of healings. There was propaganda about Vespasian healing a blind man with spit. There were stories about resurrections, going into the earth to the world of the dead and coming back.

          All of those other tales are definitely fiction and myth. But your favorite story with elements from each is true. Or are you trying to say it is probably true? No, in reality, it is probably false, too.

          So the question that I am curious about is how the story came together. If I find an OT verse that explains a NT verse but the author doesn’t quote or allude to it anywhere else, I hold on to a level of skepticism about it. But if it is something the author quotes from elsewhere, I have confidence in it.

          Well, du-uh, because they need Alexander to be a fictional character to validate their view of reality. The accounts we have of him are based on the literary conventions of the day, and that similarity proves Alexander was fictional. I can repeat that multiple times to cause it to become true if you’d like.

          If you need something that lame-brained for an excuse to be a Christian, then have at it, Hoss. Historians toss out the miracles and let the physical evidence support or discount the rest. With Jesus, we have no physical evidence. We can toss out the miracles as superstitious nonsense or we can toss out the miracles because they appear to be modeled on the literature of the day. We can toss out the non-miracle parts of the Jesus story for that same reason. That leaves a skeleton of going to and fro for no reason.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, the issue I raised is still on the table. IF Paul got Jesus’ resurrection from the OT, where did he get it from?

          Paul wrote, “according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles.” Paul’s use of scripture shows a lot of cherry-picking for the hidden parts. When you did your study, did you concentrate on the camouflage or what Paul thought was the hidden mysteries? If you disagree that Paul was referring to, please show me an alternative source in the “prophetic writings”.
          The last three verses of Isaiah 53 imply that the Suffering Servant will be doing things after death, which implies resurrection. That leads to Hosea 6:2 with the raising up after three days (or on the third day?). Then you have Zechariah 3. Remember that they use midrash and the ancient holy scriptures, not reason and historical documents, so they could cherry-pick because the Lord was giving them revelations. They really wanted the Messiah prophecy to be true and they wanted to see it fulfilled while they were alive. Midrash afforded them that superstitious hope.

          OK, this confirms my suspicion – you don’t have a specific OT passage that Paul would have relied on for his information. Your Hosea passage refers to “us”, so it isn’t Jesus who is being raised. The SS in Isaiah, after dying, “justifies many”, and bears their iniquities. Is that what you mean? That doesn’t say what you need it to say.

        • Greg G.

          OK, this confirms my suspicion – you don’t have a specific OT passage that Paul would have relied on for his information.

          Paul says it is according to the scripture but he is making allusions. Isaiah 53 explains a lot. Hosea 6:2 explains “the third day”. Sometimes he quotes a passage and sometimes he mentions the author. He quotes Isaiah more than any other book. In Romans 9:25, he says he is quoting Hosea and he quotes Hosea 2:23, then quotes Hosea 1:10 in the next verse. In the next two verses, Romans 9:27-28 he says he is quoting Isaiah and he quotes Isaiah 10:22-23. In Romans 9:29, he cites Isaiah and quotes Isaiah 1:9. In Romans 9:33, he says “it is written” and quotes from Isaiah 8:14 and Isaiah 28:16. In Romans 10:16, Paul quotes from Isaiah 53:1.

          So we know Paul read Hosea and quotes from it in conjunction with Isaiah to boot. We know he read Isaiah 53. There are many reasons to think Paul was alluding to Isaiah 53 and Hosea 6. I am willing to listen to a better suggestion that Paul was referring to.

          Your Hosea passage refers to “us”, so it isn’t Jesus who is being raised.

          They played fast and loose when they did midrash. They didn’t exactly use logic. Paul seemed to use word association and equivocation. The LXX is plural but I can’t tell if the Hebrew was. I am willing to listen to a better suggestion that Paul was referring to.

          The SS in Isaiah, after dying, “justifies many”, and bears their iniquities. Is that what you mean? That doesn’t say what you need it to say.

          Yes, you see it elsewhere in his theology, too.

          Romans 4:25 (NRSV)25 who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

          Romans 5:16, 19 (NRSV)16 And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 19 For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

          Romans 8:34 (NRSV)34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

          Psalm 110:1, 5 is where “at the right hand of God” comes from.

        • Clement Agonistes

          OK, this confirms my suspicion – you don’t have a specific OT passage that Paul would have relied on for his information.

          Paul
          says it is according to the scripture but he is making allusions.
          Isaiah 53 explains a lot. Hosea 6:2 explains “the third day”.

          Whenever you’ve had a passage that you thought was strong, you quoted from it. You have mentioned Hosea 6:2 multiple times now without ever quoting it. Here is what it says:
          After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.

          In addition to 3 days, It mentions 2 days, so that “allusion” fails. It mentions “us”, and that “we” will live in God’s presence. For your view to be confirmed, it needs to be singular, and it needs to be some sort of messianic figure. It is neither. It fails.

          And, that would be just to jump over the “allusion” threshold. Even then, it would be far from what your theory demands.

          The SS in Isaiah, after dying, “justifies many”, and bears
          their iniquities. Is that what you mean? That doesn’t say what you need
          it to say.

          Yes, you see it elsewhere in his theology, too.

          So, after Jesus died, He justifies many, and bears their iniquities. It’s not just Paul’s theology; this is mainstream Christianity. Jesus, from heaven, is able to do these things on an ongoing basis. Your Suffering Servant needs to be doing these things on Earth if he is “doing these things [by appearing to the Apostles]”. The fact that Jesus is doing these things from heaven fits Isaiah, but not your interpretation of Paul with regard to Jesus’ post-crucifixion personal appearances.

          Psalm 110:1, 5 is where “at the right hand of God” comes from

          You are wrong (it was a common expression throughout the ancient world), but I will grant it since it is meaningless to your case.

        • Greg G.

          Whenever you’ve had a passage that you thought was strong, you quoted from it. You have mentioned Hosea 6:2 multiple times now without ever quoting it. Here is what it says:
          “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”

          It’s an allusion. If you have something better, let me know. Show me a commentary that points to OT verses regarding what Paul meant by “according to the scripture” that has anything about the third day. If it doesn’t have that, it probably is what Paul referred to. I’ve seen commentaries mention the Psalm verses I noted and Jonah but mostly Hosea 6:2. Hosea actually says “the third day”, just as Paul did.

          Paul referred to the scriptures. That would be the Old Testament scriptures. Many tout about how little the Old Testament has changed. I haven’t seen anybody saying that any Old Testament passages have been lost since the first century.

          I think Hosea was writing about the people of the nation, so he used the plural. The Suffering Servant represented the nation but was spoken of as one person. It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to equate them.

          Remember that Paul said it was “according to the scriptures”. It is just a matter of identifying the verse. If the verse upsets you, find another. You don’t have to tell me. There are few possibilities. I think Hosea 6:2 is the best fit. Whether I am right or wrong about the particular verse, remember, Paul said it was “according to the scriptures.”

          Christians today use OT verses as prophecies whether the OT verse was or not. Apparently things haven’t changed at all.

          In addition to 3 days, It mentions 2 days, so that “allusion” fails. It mentions “us”, and that “we” will live in God’s presence. For your view to be confirmed, it needs to be singular, and it needs to be some sort of messianic figure. It is neither. It fails.

          It says “AFTER two days.”

          Q: What comes after two days?
          A: The third day.

          ETA: {The text was not divided up into verses. The spaces between words were added much later. Punctuation was added later. It was just a page of letters. A line break might be in the middle of a syllable. So they were not looking at the verse we look at. They would have read it a thought at a time. His revelation may been something like “raisedthirdday”. }

          So, after Jesus died, He justifies many, and bears their iniquities. It’s not just Paul’s theology; this is mainstream Christianity. Jesus, from heaven, is able to do these things on an ongoing basis. Your Suffering Servant needs to be doing these things on Earth if he is “doing these things [by appearing to the Apostles]”. The fact that Jesus is doing these things from heaven fits Isaiah, but not your interpretation of Paul with regard to Jesus’ post-crucifixion personal appearances.

          Epistle Jesus died, was buried, and was resurrected in heaven. He never appeared to anybody on Earth. He was expected to come and the Kingdom of Heaven/God would begin. The only thing that appeared to the apostles was the writing in the text and they had a brainstorm that they pretended was a revelation. Paul expected it to happen while he was alive.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”

          It’s an allusion. If you have something better, let me know. Show me a
          commentary that points to OT verses regarding what Paul meant by
          “according to the scripture” that has anything about the third day. If
          it doesn’t have that, it probably is what Paul referred to. I’ve seen
          commentaries mention the Psalm verses I noted and Jonah but mostly Hosea
          6:2. Hosea actually says “the third day”, just as Paul did.

          Paul referred to the scriptures. That would be the Old Testament scriptures.
          Many tout about how little the Old Testament has changed. I haven’t seen
          anybody saying that any Old Testament passages have been lost since the
          first century.

          Sometimes when I read your (and other people’s) comments, you will quote me touching on several points and say something to the effect of “that is wrong” (I get this a lot). What you mean is, “Of the points, A, B, and C, I’m OK with B and C (2 of them), but dispute A”. In your mind, you knew what you meant, and the words addressed it precisely. As it reads, however, it is confusing – it reads as if all 3 points are being disputed.

          Maybe that is what Paul is doing here. He lumps 2 thoughts into that sentence where in the previous sentence he only had one. He has burial and resurrection. Could it possibly read, Jesus was buried in harmony with the OT (that fits like a glove). . . . . . and resurrected (for which there is no support)? A. but not B?

          You bring up OT changes, which could be possible. You point out, correctly, IMO, that he would have been using the Septuagint. We know that that looks like, so it can’t come from there. There are, however, other OT books. Some of them are referred to in the Gospels. Maybe he is referring to some non-canonical books. I’m not sure they had a rigid canon.

          Allusion – especially, >i>this far removed, only works if we have a pattern of distant references. The references to the Suffering Servant being executed on a tree, and buried in a rich man’s tomb are pretty explicit. Then, we are left grasping at “3 days” as meaning “brought back from the dead”? 3 days isn’t the headline; resurrection is. You don’t bury the lead so deep that no one can find it.

          In addition to 3 days, It mentions 2 days, so that
          “allusion” fails. It mentions “us”, and that “we” will live in God’s
          presence. For your view to be confirmed, it needs to be singular, and it
          needs to be some sort of messianic figure. It is neither. It fails.

          It says “AFTER two days.”

          Q: What comes after two days?
          A: The third day.

          “After 2 days”, we are “revived”; 3rd day we are “restored” – 2 separate events separated by a day. And, you dodged the plural, when Jesus is singular. One leap, maybe. 2 leaps, no. Look, i want Paul to be clear here. It’s not the only time he leaves me scratching my head. A simple, clear line works for both of us, but there is not one here. What does science do when the experiment disproves the hypothesis? (We find a new hypothesis that does fit)

          Epistle Jesus died, was buried, and was resurrected in heaven. He never appeared to anybody on Earth.

          So, using the hypothesis analogy, what should the first hypothesis be? IMO, taking Paul at face value should be the 1st hypothesis tested. In the passage we have been discussing for months no, Paul says – in his epistle – that Jesus appeared to the Apostles. You have stated that Paul knew Peter and James. He references Apostles who are preaching to some of the same constituents. We have evidence suggesting that at least John and Phillip were in the region of Turkey where some of Paul’s churches were.

          That makes it extremely possible that Paul’s source for this assertion was 1st-hand. Paul’s report is of an earthly appearance. It is explicit. The first hypothesis is a perfect fit. It is not a distant allusion. It is not an interpretation of OT passages. There is no need to proceed to a 2nd – stretch – hypothesis. I am puzzled that you can even make such an absolutist assertion in the face of an explicit contradiction. It makes it look as if you are so married to your theory that no facts can dissuade you from your conviction that you are right. What am I missing here?

        • Greg G.

          “After 2 days”, we are “revived”; 3rd day we are “restored” – 2 separate events separated by a day. And, you dodged the plural, when Jesus is singular. One leap, maybe. 2 leaps, no. Look, i want Paul to be clear here. It’s not the only time he leaves me scratching my head. A simple, clear line works for both of us, but there is not one here. What does science do when the experiment disproves the hypothesis? (We find a new hypothesis that does fit)

          Have you never read the Old Testament? It is the way the Hebrews wrote. It’s a form of poetry. They say the same thing in two different ways. You are making the same mistake Matthew makes putting Jesus on two donkeys because of the the wording.

          So, using the hypothesis analogy, what should the first hypothesis be? IMO, taking Paul at face value should be the 1st hypothesis tested. In the passage we have been discussing for months no, Paul says – in his epistle – that Jesus appeared to the Apostles.

          You are reading the “appeared to” as a physical manifestation rather than a textual revelation.

          You have stated that Paul knew Peter and James. He references Apostles who are preaching to some of the same constituents.

          I accept that certain epistles came from one person who referred to real people. He refers to Jesus in very different ways giving information about him only in OT terms. The early epistles are the most reliable information in the New Testament for the time period they were written. Where they rely on the OT, not so much.

          We have evidence suggesting that at least John and Phillip were in the region of Turkey where some of Paul’s churches were.

          Where does it say that? Acts is horribly unreliable.

        • Pofarmer

          We have evidence suggesting that at least John and Phillip were in the region of Turkey where some of Paul’s churches were.

          Where does it say that? Acts is horribly unreliable.

          Indeed. My understanding is that there is zero evidence for any of the “original” disciples.

        • Greg G.

          The word “disciple” is never used in the epistles. Paul called Cephas, James, and John “pillars” in Galatians so I presume those are among the “superapostles” he refers to in 2 Corinthians. Those happen to be the three main sidekicks of Jesus in Mark and the other gospels. I think Mark modeled those disciples on those named in Galatians, but he turned them into fishermen.

          It’s those kinds of things that make me wonder if Mark intended for his “gospel” to be taken seriously.

          Many names in Jewish Wars are given as “the son of” somebody. I noticed that those fathers mentioned that way happened to correspond to the names of disciples and other characters in Mark. I have seen a suggestion that Bartholomew could mean “son of Ptolemy” and there is a Ptolemy who was described in the early chapters on the first war.

        • Pofarmer

          But you have the tradition that the disciple Mark founded this or that Church Peter was supposed to be the first Bishop of Rome, but to my knowledge there’s no actual evidence for any of it.

        • Greg G.

          It seems that the churches were competing on who had the most renowned apostolic lineage, then they started one-upping with whose apostolic lineage had the most noble death. They seem to get carried away with all of that.

        • Pofarmer

          Is there any idea when those associations occurred?

        • Greg G.

          I haven’t looked at the church development in the second century. I would think it would be after Matthew was written since I have seen about four different death accounts for him.

        • How’s that for dedication? Matthew died four times for Jesus!

          It’s gotta be true.

        • Greg G.

          Of course he died four times. There are four corners of the earth and four winds. It couldn’t be any other number.

        • richardrichard2013

          maybe u realised this before but paul says that jesus was raised 3 days AFTER burial. so when did he die? he doesn’t say three days after death. is this a major problem for inerrancy ?

        • Greg G.

          The passage is worse than that for inerrancy. Matthew has Jesus talking about three days and three nights. If you count a few minutes of the first day and a few minutes of the third day in the gospel accounts, you can have three days but there is no way there is three nights.

          I don’t think Paul knew anything about Jesus but what he read in the Old Testament.

        • Pofarmer

          So, then why would the Gospel writers not just have him rise on Monday to meet the “prophecies”?

        • Greg G.

          Mark wrote it as the third day disappearance. Matthew is the only one with the Jonah reference (I think, too tired to get out of bed to check).

        • The Bible says buried 3 days and 3 nights (Matt. 12:40). Sounds like inerrancy is out the window if he was dead for a day and a half.

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, using the hypothesis analogy, what should the first
          hypothesis be? IMO, taking Paul at face value should be the 1st
          hypothesis tested. In the passage we have been discussing for months no,
          Paul says – in his epistle – that Jesus appeared to the Apostles.

          You are reading the “appeared to” as a physical manifestation rather than a textual revelation.

          Again, “face value” (a literal reading) should be the 1st hypothesis tested. It is the simplest, and therefore, if verified, most likely explanation.

          “Rather than” implies your hypothesis has been proven true. It has not. You assertion here is that Paul never said anything about 1st century events. Peter, James, and John, by your own admission are 1st century persons. Their experiences have to be 1st century. This assertion must fit, and here, it does not.

          This demonstrates why a more convoluted hypothesis will always be the more difficult to verify. There are so many steps that require leaps of logic. There are so many facts which must be dismissed. These appearances are some of those facts. You have to assert that they could not have been real events . . . . . . because your hypothesis is correct – circular reasoning.

          You see Paul referring to the OT and determine that his information is not about 1st century current events. I look at the same texts, and conclude that he sees 1st century events as fulfillment of OT predictions. We’re looking at exactly the same texts and drawing 2 different conclusions. But, here, we have Paul referring to events which cannot come from the OT. The facts fit my hypothesis, but not yours. Your solution is to change the data, rather than follow them – terrible science.

          You have stated that Paul knew Peter and James. He references Apostles who are preaching to some of the same constituents.

          I accept that certain epistles came from one person who referred to real people.

          . . . . real, 1st century, people, experiencing events which do not fit OT scripture. Their experiences took place in the 1st century. You assert they did not. These people did not live in another century. Any event in their lives must take place in the 1st century. Factually, these are 1st century events. It’s not arguable. Yet, you assert that is not the case. The facts contradict your assertion. Therefore, your assertion is not true.

          We have evidence suggesting that at least John and Phillip were in the region of Turkey where some of Paul’s churches were.

          Where does it say that? Acts is horribly unreliable.

          I’m not citing the Bible. Wikipedia says,

          According to Church tradition, after the Assumption of Mary, John went to Ephesus. From there he wrote the three epistles attributed to him. . . . .

          In Against Heresies, Irenaeus relates how Polycarp told a story of

          John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.”[46]

          It is traditionally believed that John was the youngest of the
          apostles and survived them. He is said to have lived to an old age,
          dying at Ephesus sometime after AD 98.[47]

          So, John is in Ephesus, famous for Paul’s letter to the church there.

          And, modern archaeology has Philip’s tomb in Hierapolis:

          HIERAPOLIS, Turkey – A tomb believed to be that of St. Philip the Apostle was unearthed during excavations in the ancient Turkish city of Hierapolis.

        • Greg G.

          Again, “face value” (a literal reading) should be the 1st hypothesis tested. It is the simplest, and therefore, if verified, most likely explanation.

          You just habitually read the gospels into it.

          “Rather than” implies your hypothesis has been proven true. It has not. You assertion here is that Paul never said anything about 1st century events. Peter, James, and John, by your own admission are 1st century persons. Their experiences have to be 1st century. This assertion must fit, and here, it does not.

          Their experiences are first century. They didn’t have experiences of a physical Jesus.

          This demonstrates why a more convoluted hypothesis will always be the more difficult to verify. There are so many steps that require leaps of logic. There are so many facts which must be dismissed. These appearances are some of those facts. You have to assert that they could not have been real events . . . . . . because your hypothesis is correct – circular reasoning.

          It doesn’t require belief in magic. That makes it less convoluted than any religious belief.

          You see Paul referring to the OT and determine that his information is not about 1st century current events. I look at the same texts, and conclude that he sees 1st century events as fulfillment of OT predictions. We’re looking at exactly the same texts and drawing 2 different conclusions. But, here, we have Paul referring to events which cannot come from the OT. The facts fit my hypothesis, but not yours. Your solution is to change the data, rather than follow them – terrible science.

          I used to see it that way. I got over it.

          . . . . real, 1st century, people, experiencing events which do not fit OT scripture. Their experiences took place in the 1st century. You assert they did not. These people did not live in another century. Any event in their lives must take place in the 1st century. Factually, these are 1st century events. It’s not arguable. Yet, you assert that is not the case. The facts contradict your assertion. Therefore, your assertion is not true.

          I think you misunderstood me or maybe I wasn’t clear.

          In Against Heresies, Irenaeus relates how Polycarp told a story of

          John, the disciple of the Lord

          Yes, I have read Irenaeus’ account. I think he forged Polycarp’s letter to justify the books he named that ended up as the New Testament canon. It’s like there is a quote from each one. But the letter doesn’t say much about John. Polycarp may have actually known John, he just doesn’t recount anything.

          It seems that the reason we have four gospels comes from Irenaeus:

          The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are. Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel, and the Spirit of life, it fittingly has four pillars, everywhere breathing out incorruption and revivifying men. From this it is clear that the Word, the artificer of all things, being manifested to men gave us the gospel, fourfold in form but held together by one Spirit. As David said, when asking for his coming, ‘O sitter upon the cherubim, show yourself ‘. For the cherubim have four faces, and their faces are images of the activity of the Son of God. For the first living creature, it says, was like a lion, signifying his active and princely and royal character; the second was like an ox, showing his sacrificial and priestly order; the third had the face of a man, indicating very clearly his coming in human guise; and the fourth was like a flying eagle, making plain the giving of the Spirit who broods over the Church. Now the Gospels, in which Christ is enthroned, are like these.

          I don’t trust Irenaeus nor his intellect.

          I don’t know that Philip actually existed either. There is an account that he was crucified upside down in Hierapolis. Another said he was beheaded in Hierapolis. The writings are thought to have been written in the 4th century.

          There seems to have been a tourist industry for Christian tourists long ago. They have been producing fake artifacts for centuries. Maybe it started with Queen Helena, Constantine’s mother.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Again, “face value” (a literal reading) should be the 1st
          hypothesis tested. It is the simplest, and therefore, if verified, most
          likely explanation.

          You just habitually read the gospels into it.

          OK, let’s review. Here are your claims that I am addressing:
          But we do have a lot about Epistle Jesus and all of it can be traced to OT writings. They don’t say anything about a first century Jesus.”

          In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is saying that Cephas read those things as midrash from the scriptures, then twelve others did, then five hundred did, then James, and finally Paul.

          We don’t have any records of anyone believing that Jesus lived and died in the first century until after the Gospel of Mark.

          Epistle Jesus died, was buried, and was resurrected in heaven. He never appeared to anybody on Earth.

          they had a brainstorm that they pretended was a revelation

          Now, I’ve pointed out that there are numerous fringe theories like yours out there. Some say Paul made up all the characters in the NT, Peter included. Some day the resurrection was faked by the Disciples. Some say another person was substituted for Jesus (maybe “the twin”, Thomas). None of them, yours included find anything but fringe support among experts – atheists included – in this area. The consensus – even among atheists – is that Jesus was a real, 1st century person. So, what you consider to be so true that you cite your conclusion to me as already established as fact is not persuasive to any but a handful of the most knowledgeable experts.

          But, hey, experts can be wrong, right? So,

          1) We know with near-certainty that the written Gospels were preceded by oral versions. Paul, himself , says he was teaching a version of the gospel. Therefore, we don’t need written records of anyone believing Jesus was a real, 1st century person – merely knowing that the information existed orally for decades prior is sufficient. The overwhelming evidence contradicts your claim.

          2) Nothing says Peter (et.al.) got their account of Jesus’ appearances form OT Scripture. And, in fact, nothing in OT Scripture describes anything even remotely like those. There is nothing to get them from. As an assertion of fact, you have zero evidence to support your claim that Peter got his appearance story from the OT.

          3) You have no evidence that Peter then convinced others that they had shared or similar experiences. You have no evidence that they “brainstormed” (conspired) to concoct the story.

          4) Paul specifically says Jesus appeared to those people. He does not say that Jesus was only resurrected in heaven (where he could not appear to them). The evidence contradicts your assertion.

          5) And, no, Paul doesn’t specifically say that Jesus was a 1st century person, but neither does he say Jesus was a figure from 4 centuries earlier (you specified Isaiah’s time). He doesn’t give any time frame at all. One would have no expectation that Paul would have to keep mentioning that he was talking about modern events rather than historical ones. When people discuss Bill Clinton, they don’t have to keep mentioning that they are talking about the one from 20 years ago, not 400 years ago.

          Without evidence, yours are just speculations, and wild ones at that. They require dismissing far more probable, contradictory evidence. That is why, for all practical purposes, no one who knows what they are talking about agrees with you.

          I don’t have to “read the Gospels into it”. I merely have to follow a logical, scientific methodology to conclude that taking Paul at face value best fits the evidence sitting before us. 99% of objective readers would come to the same conclusion I came to. The Gospels confirm my conclusion.

        • Clement Agonistes

          In Against Heresies, Irenaeus relates how Polycarp told a story of

          John, the disciple of the Lord

          Yes, I have read Irenaeus’ account. I think he forged Polycarp’s letter to justify the books he named that ended up as the New Testament canon. It’s like there is a quote from each one. But the letter doesn’t say much about John. Polycarp may have actually known John, he just doesn’t recount anything.

          I don’t trust Irenaeus nor his intellect.
          I don’t know that Philip actually existed either. There is an account that he was crucified upside down in Hierapolis. Another said he was beheaded in Hierapolis. The writings are thought to have been written in the 4th century.
          There seems to have been a tourist industry for Christian tourists long ago. They have been producing fake artifacts for centuries. Maybe it started with Queen Helena, Constantine’s mother.

          1. The issue isn’t a complicated one – were there eyewitnesses of Jesus preaching in Turkey? Here, we have multiple data points which state that was the case. Your evidence that Philip didn’t exist is that accounts of his death differ. Regardless of which account (including possible others), the man had to exist in order to die. We have a tomb with modern archaeology confirming the tradition. You asked why I believe such a thing – it is because there is evidence confirming it.

          2. Which brings us to another point I have been making – look at the lengths you have to go to in order to make your hypothesis viable. Here, you have to question the intellect of Irenaeus, and speculate about Constantine’s mother faking the evidence (which itself demands evidence). ALL evidence which contradicts your hypothesis MUST be dismissed, and even baseless speculation is sufficient for you. As I said, your problem is that you hypothesis is so convoluted that it requires so many leaps of logic (I’ve lost count). Any small blip along the way, and the whole thing collapses. My hypothesis only requires the one leap of logic – accepting that reality includes more than just the natural.

        • Clement Agonistes

          How many times do I have to refer you to Hosea 6:2? If you don’t think it is that verse, then show me a better passage that Paul means by “according to the scriptures”.

          The Christian assertion is that the proper interpretation of Paul is of the OT predictions being fulfilled. Christians are surprised by Jesus’ resurrection. No one saw that coming.

          1) Hosea doesn’t says what you claim it says.
          2) My next sentences addressed your other point – Christians have no scripture that predicts Jesus’ resurrection . . . . . hence their surprise. Christians don’t make the claim you assert Paul made. There is no OT scripture that he could refer to for this. It has to be a current event. You are challenging me to provide evidence for your theory. I don’t think that is the way this works. I am not asserting that Paul “got” Jesus’ resurrection from scripture. I am asserting that Paul sees OT prophesies about Jesus fulfilled by real events which have taken place. I don’t think there is an OT prophesy of the resurrection.

          I google this, and couldn’t find anything. In one of the Gospels, Jesus mentions the sign lf Jonah (who spent 3 days in the whale/fish), but we have no way of knowing if Paul ever heard (the oral version) this quote or not. In his writings, Paul cites the OT numerous times on various topics, but none about this.

        • Greg G.

          1) Hosea doesn’t says what you claim it says.

          Paul says that the scripture says that. You tell me what he is talking about if you disagree. They did midarsh on holy scripture. How could their revelations be wrong?

          2) My next sentences addressed your other point – Christians have no scripture that predicts Jesus’ resurrection . . . . . hence their surprise.

          The only ones who were surprised were the fictional and fictionalized characters in the gospels. I have given you OT scriptures that suggest that. If someone who was crushed and buried was going to assume David’s throne, that someone would have to be resurrected.

          You are challenging me to provide evidence for your theory.

          No, Paul says there is scripture that says that. I found some that fits the claims. You dispute it. I’m asking you to what Paul is referring to. If you give me something I think is better, I will start citing that scripture instead.

          Here is a Christian source. It mentions many references to scriptures that were even written when Paul was active but some of the OT scriptures are the ones I cite.

          https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_1Cr/1Cr_15.cfm

          He counts Jonah as a possible reference to the three days, and Matthew definitely used it, but “the third day” points to Hosea. Jonah’s three days and three nights fails for the gospel account because it was more like two nights and one day. For three days and three nights, the resurrection would be on the fourth day. But it seems to be an expression, not an exact count.

          Remember, Paul says it is “according to the scriptures”. Matthew wasn’t written so Paul could not be referring to that.

        • Clement Agonistes

          1) Hosea doesn’t says what you claim it says.

          Paul says that the scripture says that. You tell me what he is talking about if you disagree. They did midarsh on holy scripture. How could their revelations be wrong?

          I’m not the one claiming that Paul says the appearances to Peter, James, and the 12 are “according to Scripture”, and not reports Paul actually heard. Paul does not say those appearances were according to Scripture. You claim the opposite. I am asking you for your support for your claim. You’ve been all over the map except supporting this claim. No Christian claims those appearances were predicted by the OT. You do.

          2) My next sentences addressed your other point – Christians
          have no scripture that predicts Jesus’ resurrection . . . . . hence
          their surprise.

          The only ones who were surprised were the fictional and fictionalized characters in the gospels

          So, you’ve been discussing how Paul is pissed at Galatians for listening to a fictional character (Cephas)? The mainstream of scholarship accepts the historicity of Jesus and at least the non-miraculous pasts of the Gospels. You are rejecting the consensus of experts. . . . . . because it doesn’t fit your narrative.

          If someone who was crushed and buried was going to assume David’s throne, that someone would have to be resurrected.

          Speaking of which, your fuzzy “allusion” to Yeshua being “crushed” didn’t pan out. His clothes were not filthy because he had been crushed, but because he had shit on him. Yeshua was Israel, and was being put in a fire (Babylonian captivity?) after which he (it) would be tempered (stronger than before).

          In Christian theology, a flesh-and-blood Jesus will assume an Earthly throne (lie David’s) toward the endtime.

          Here is a Christian source. It mentions many references to scriptures
          that were even written when Paul was active but some of the OT
          scriptures are the ones I cite.

          https://www.blueletterbible

          I looked those up, and they sound as pathetically married to this idea as you do. This is the company you keep on this issue. You are intellectual equals – good luck with that. None of those cites appear on the radar of what you must have them explicitly say. No objective reader would agree with you on this. I’m assuming some fringe scholar is your source of this, so I will not assert that no scholar agrees with you. But, they could all ride to the Fringe Convention in the same Yugo.

          Remember, Paul says it is “according to the scriptures”. Matthew wasn’t written so Paul could not be referring to that.

          That’s why I specified that it would have to be the oral version that pre-existed the written version. Some sources put the Gospels are early dates – far more than there are experts who agree with your theory. While I might wish that Matthew be that early, I defer to the consensus of scholars.

          The consensus is also that Q was the source of the Jesus quotations (like this one) used in the Gospels, and Q pre-existed them. Even at that, we have no evidence that Paul read Q, and I doubt would have called it “Scripture”. I was trying to throw you a bone.

        • Clement Agonistes

          NOWHERE does James say ANYTHING about passover OR
          circumcision. That is all you. You are putting words in his mouth
          without evidence that James ever said them. The ONLY evidence we have
          (James’ letter)contradicts you.

          Passover and
          circumcision are part of the law. James says if you fail any point of the
          law, you fail the whole law. He wasn’t obsessed with any particular
          point of the law like Paul was in Galatians. He was only obsessed with
          the whole Torah.

          So, you’ve got some sort of hazy, indirect allusion to circumcision . . . . . . even though it is at the very core of the fierce debate James is having with Paul? No, it would be a priority. It would be #1 on his list of topics he needs to communicate. It is high on Paul’s list, therefore it must be high on James’ list. James doesn’t mention any of the things you say are of supreme importance to him. His letter reads like someone who is in agreement with Paul:

          So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
          – Romans 7:12.

          . . . . . . therefore, by your reasoning, Paul advocates circumcisions for Christians.

        • Greg G.

          So, you’ve got some sort of hazy, indirect allusion to circumcision . . . . . .

          If you went to court for not having license plates on your car and the judge told you that all cars are required to have license plates and registration, would you argue, “Sure, the law says all cars have to have license plates but where does it say that red cars have to have license plates?”

          “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.”
          – Romans 7:12.

          . . . . . . therefore, by your reasoning, Paul advocates circumcisions for Christians.

          There’s your problem, you can’t read the Bible honestly. Read for context and comprehension.

          Romans 7:4-6 (NRSV)4 In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

          The verses in between is Paul explaining that the law is good for defining sin for you. He is not advocating following the law to be following it.

        • Pofarmer

          At some point you have to wonder – Is there anything the Bible doesn’t contradict itself on?

        • That fact is pretty embarrassing … but if you can get past that, you have a Book for All Seasons. In quantum physics fashion, the Bible is the union of all answers, and Christians get to pick the ones they need at the moment.

        • Greg G.

          What about the name of God? Yahweh. Y*hw*h. Jehovah. Jealous. I am….

          There’s nothing that contradicts Balaam losing an argument with his donkey.

        • Pofarmer

          He is pointing out that Peter and John got their information from Jesus, and so did Paul – he is their equal.

          Yeah, that’s not what he says.

          Quote it.

        • Susan

          This is the stuff of conspiracy theories – like JFK assassination and fake Moon landings

          Then, show the parallels.

          The stories of the resurrection sound as made up as the JFK assasination and the fake Moon Landings. Worse, even. They sound like Leprechaun tales.

          What is the distinction?

          You did not present evidence.

          Lol.

          Show me how ANYTHING you presented is fact, and not some sort of innuendo.

          You can’t be serious.

          Are you going to hold yourself to the same standard?

          If so, then when?

      • Clement Agonistes

        Oh, great – 9 more examples of flawed logic I have to shoot down before there is any hope of having my previous comment addressed.

        1. The Definition Game. When the facts go against you, change the facts. The personal appearance by a flesh-and-blood Jesus can be made into something different; more atheist-friendly. You don’t have the facts on your side, so you simply insinuate that there is something else there . . . . without actually stating it as if it were fact. It’s just throwing mud in the otherwise crystal-clear water.

        2. “Names and addresses” . . . . . . because they may still be home in 2018. We can just drop in on them and ask. These people would have been all over the place, each telling their account of what had happened. We see Christians popping up all over the place due to people other than Paul. Someone(s) is blabbing all over the place. Paul was not a witness to this event – SOMEONE (a witness) would have had to have told him about it. You have presented your 2nd absurd argument.

        3. “How many alive?” Well, we don’t know. Neither do you. Paul says that some have died. You insinuate that ALL have died. And, for good measure, – somehow – you dictate that they all have to be in Jerusalem (although no mention is made of the location Paul had in mind). Giant leaps of (unwarranted) logic being made here.

        4. “Who could make the trip?” Because 100% of these people HAD to be in Jerusalem. Not even ONE could be in Turkey, Syria, or Greece. Again, a massive leap with no basis.

        5. “Corinth – no many and who travels?” Corinth was a cosmopolitan trading city at a crossroads for commerce. Tons of people were travelling through it daily, going from Point A to Point B. Paul spent over a year there, something he did not do if converts were not being won. While there, he meets Jewish refugees from an expulsion from Rome by Claudius.

        6. “Who would challenge Paul?” You declare him to be the “founder” of Christianity, a conspiracy “fact” with no support. Biblical accounts show people challenging Paul ALL THE TIME. It is a common theme in his letters. We might not have some letters were it not for this.

        7. “What did eyewitnesses see?” As is the pattern, you pad you numbers by double counting – #1, in this case.

        8. “So what?” double counting #6.

        9. “Compelling evidence?” None of the Gospels (written later) mention this story. The Gospels mention numbers in some cases, but not in others, and also mention “more” appearances without specifics. John’s appearance in the Sea of Galilea (not Jerusalem, BTW) has the fishermen in boats (where’d they come from?), Jesus cooking fish onshore (purchased from nearby?), and a count of the fish (because the nearby port is a market town in a heavily-populated region?), but no mention of a limited number of observers.

        Bob, you cite yourself as your source. That is bad form. In this case, it was super-easy to shoot down each one of these. The only evidence we have doesn’t support your conclusions. Yet, you evade discussing one blog’s flawed conclusion by pointing to other flawed conclusions. And, you are the clear-thinking leader of this gaggle. You are making mistakes that you would never tolerate coming from a Christian.

        Smart Money says being shown your bad thinking will only make you embrace your bad thinking all the more strongly – human nature, and all.

        • Oh, great – 9 more examples of flawed logic I have to shoot down

          The trials life throws at you are truly beyond endurance.

          In this case, it was super-easy to shoot down each one of these.

          You’re a funny guy. That must explain why it’s so enjoyable talking with you.

          Thanks for taking the time to share. If you actually have responses, let me know. Otherwise, this is classic Clement—lots of confidence but little content.

        • Clement Agonistes

          – says the guys who cites himself as a source.

          Your evasion is duly noted.

        • Michael Neville

          Bob didn’t cite himself as a source, he gave a link to a post he made years ago on the subject under discussion. If you’re going to accuse someone of duplicity then find something that’s actually dishonest instead of just evading the issue by false accusations of deception.

        • Stand up to your withering barrage? Nope–no one is that tough.

          Imagine how tough you’d be if you used reason and evidence instead of petulance and bullshit.

        • Clement Agonistes

          From time to time, you have articles which touch on bad thinking. That is why I am so hopeful that you can apply your own advice to your own thoughts. Here, you presented poorly-thought-through arguments. You leap to unwarranted conclusions. “Why, it is IMPOSSIBLE of anyone to challenge what early Christians are saying in Greece because NO ONE from Judea ever goes to Greece. The people saying these things ARE THERE. What you say cannot happen has demonstrably happened. You’re not thinking through what you are saying.

          And, yeah, it is embarrassing to have someone point this out. I’m sorry I had to point it out to you. Your choice is to get better, or embrace your bad thinking even more strongly – a point you have made about people you disagree with, but can’t seem to apply to yourself.

          So, I get name-calling as your “rational”, “factual” response. Well, I’m going to lose sleep over that one tonight, huh?

        • you presented poorly-thought-through arguments. You leap to unwarranted conclusions.

          You will doubtless disbelieve me, but I am happy to have someone point out my errors. I fix them (or even discard a hopeless argument), and then my position is stronger. You’re doing me a favor when you point out my errors.

          The problem is that I’ve wasted enough time responding to comments of yours when you have no interest in correcting your errors. I point out that you are unable to summarize my arguments . . . and then you (yet again) misstate my arguments.

          And, yeah, it is embarrassing to have someone point this out. I’m sorry I had to point it out to you.

          No, and no. You’re welcome to point stuff out (I’m sure I’ll get over the painful embarrassment). And you weren’t sorry.

          So, I get name-calling as your “rational”, “factual” response.

          You get name calling because you’re a waste of time.

        • says the guys who cites himself as a source.

          Seriously? Any of us typing into a comment box are principally typing our own opinions. Linking to a place where we have previously written those opinions is a short-hand for that. Unless you are suggesting that linking to the original article is bad form, but it would have been OK for Bob to copy and paste his entire article into the comment box?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Bob tells me I am wrong because . . . . . “here’s the link”.

          1. His link does not address my point.
          2. His link is as full of illogical leaps as the point I was commenting on. You see how little he enjoyed having those flaws pointed out. He recognized a lost cause and ran away from it as quick as he could.
          3. “Running out” was the point of the link. He used innuendo to imply there was something there . . . . . that wasn’t there.
          4. Bob’s point was that the Gospels brought up the subject so late that NO ONE could be left alive to challenge them. 30 years (marked down from the previous “60” – there must be a sale) is far too long for any human to have lived back then. But (my point), Paul is writing 10 years earlier, a time frame comparable to today’s memories of Bill Clinton’s presidency (nobody remembers that, right?). The 30-yr point was weak; the 20-yr, even moreso. His point is laughable – hence his speedy retreat.
          5. I went through each of the 9 points in his diversion, thinking that would bring Bob back to actually addressing my initial point. Not only did he not return, he stated that I had addressed NONE of his points. Even if they had been lame responses, they nevertheless existed. Let’s just say Bob is being less-than-sincere and leave it at that.

        • 4. Bob’s point was that the Gospels brought up the subject so late that NO ONE could be left alive to challenge them.

          Which I never said. You’ve really got a problem with this paraphrasing thing, don’t you? I wonder—is it deliberate erecting a straw man? Is it carelessness? Is it ineptness? I dunno, but you really ought to work on this if you care about moving out of the Pointless Asshat category in people’s minds.

          hence his speedy retreat.

          Ah, right. It’s my problem, not yours.

        • Clement Agonistes

          It’s the logical implication, Bob. Life expectancy was 40, the naysayers in their 20s, and the Gospels written 30 years after the event. Conditions were harsh. People died young. Do the math – they’d have to be at least 50 yrs old, but life expectancy was only 40 – they’d all be dead.

          same for the distance argument – because Jerusalem is so far away from places where the gospel is being read (it was never spoken), NO ONE could ever travel that kind of distance. It was friggin IMPOSSIBLE.

          And, where are you going to find people who speak Greek? Egypt, where the Ptolemys had ruled for 300 years? Seleucid Syria? Hellenized Galilee? NOBODY spoke Greek.

        • This isn’t a hard concept: you paraphrase people wrong more than once, and they get annoyed. When your argument sucks and it’s in response to something I never even said, then I quickly see that you’re an unrepentant asshole.

          Pro tip: quote people and do it accurately. You’re incapable of paraphrasing.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I have specifically addressed your points, and your response is name-calling. ‘Nuff said.

        • Susan

          I have specifically addressed your points.

          No. Bob just explained that you haven’t. He used specific language to tell you that:

          “you paraphrase people wrong more than once, and they get annoyed.

          When your argument sucks and it’s in response to something I never even said..”

          He added:

          “Pro tip” quote people and do it accurately. You’re incapable of paraphrasing.”

          And your only response is that you addressed his points and his only response is name-calling.

          ‘Nuff said.

          As usual, you said nothing relevant to the concepts people are asking you to address.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I have specifically addressed your points.

          No. Bob just explained that you haven’t. He used specific language to tell you that:
          “you paraphrase people wrong more than once, and they get annoyed.

          1. That is an assertion, not an explanation.

          2. I went through each of his points, enumerating them, and got no discussion; no “explanation”. His “paraphrase” comment was in response to another post. . . . . also with no explanation.

          Bob doesn’t want to talk about this topic, and I understand why. He is presenting a “What are the odds . . . ” argument, merely trying to cast doubt on another person’s argument. He doesn’t know that odds (No one does, and he knows that – it’s the charm of this tactic), and doesn’t care what they might be.

        • Kodie

          How goddamned fucking stupid are you? Bob is dismissing you because you bring NOTHING.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s just – Wow level stupid.

        • In a charitable mood, I’d say that Clement’s problem is a bad case of Dunning-Kruger. But I’m not in a particularly charitable mood.

        • Kodie

          Is Dunning-Kruger a mental illness we need to tiptoe around and be sensitive about? Oh, shhh, he just has Dunning-Kruger, he can’t be held responsible for thinking he’s smarter than he is.

        • Greg G.

          It’s the logical implication, Bob. Life expectancy was 40, the naysayers in their 20s, and the Gospels written 30 years after the event. Conditions were harsh. People died young. Do the math – they’d have to be at least 50 yrs old, but life expectancy was only 40 – they’d all be dead.

          Life expectancy is an average age. For every infant that dies, a person could live to be 80, or two could live to be 60, etc. which makes the average age at death to be 40. If the calculation doesn’t include infant mortality, then every death at 20 means someone lived to be 60 or two live to be 50.

          There is usually a great divide between what is a logical implication and what you infer as a logical implication.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Bob’s point (question actually, he’s only trying to create doubt, not present facts) was, “how many are still alive?” He never gives us the answer to that question. He doesn’t know the answer (it would be a fact), and neither does anyone else.

          Bob follows it up by pointing to the demographic that, “Conditions were harsh at that time, and people died young.” As you (and I,BTW) point out, the demographic for adults witnessing the events would be much better. The “harsh” conditions and “dying young” points must have had significance to Bob, or else he would not have mentioned them as points of support. Both are meant to suggest that not many of the original witnesses would have been alive. He also mentioned the slaughter in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The slaughter-ees have to be witnesses, and have to live in Jerusalem before any opportunity to naysay the gospel that would communicated ONLY in writing. The death of potential naysayers is the entire point. Dead men tell no tales.

        • Christians are the ones making the assertion that there were 500 witnesses, just because Paul wrote it down. Obviously Paul wouldn’t have written it if it weren’t true, since people could have checked it. Therefore there were 500 witnesses. That’s the claim, as I’ve heard it.

          Bob’s response, as I read it, is a probabilistic one: It is unlikely that anyone ever checked it, and if they did check it and find it false it is unlikely that they would be able to stop the continued copying of 1 Corinthians that means it is present today. I think you have turned it into an absolute argument (“It was impossible for a naysayer to check Paul’s claim”) and refuted that argument – but, as Bob and others have said, that looks to me like nothing but a bad paraphrase. Probabilistically, I think it most likely that no-one ever checked the claim, so the fact that they theoretically could have makes no difference. And since we are unable to check the claim personally, all we can do is assess the probability.

          In my opinion, this “refutation” of Bob’s argument doesn’t help your original argument either. It sounds like you are saying “It is theoretically possible that a naysayer could have checked Paul’s claim of 500 witnesses – therefore there were 500 witnesses”. That doesn’t follow at all (unless there is more to the argument that I’m missing?)

          This is an argument I was extremely skeptical of while I was a Christian, long before I had read a word of Bob’s blog. I think Bob summarises the problems with it well.

          It seemed to me a good indication of how people approach a problem. To me, 500 witnesses seemed much more likely to be an exaggeration, so as a believer I would have preferred it to say something like 50. Really, if it said “1,000” would it be more compelling than “500”? How about “2,000”? “10,000”? At what point does it become ridiculous?

          But since you clearly love proof by self-quoting link, here’s part of what I wrote elsewhere (HERE):

          I see the following problems with the idea of 500 believers seeing the resurrected Christ:
          * It’s a highly improbable claim.
          * It’s not supported by the gospels.
          * Acts seems to contradict it.
          * Paul can’t have verified it.

        • Thanks for the helpful addition to the conversation.

          Not only does the “But Paul could never have made the 500-eyewitness claim if it weren’t true!!” argument fail by itself, the fact that the gospels don’t use it is particularly damning. Either they’d heard it and knew it was a weak argument or they’d never heard of it. The gospels themselves tell us that it’s a poor argument.

        • Clement Agonistes

          personally, all we can do is assess the probability.
          In my opinion, this “refutation” of Bob’s argument doesn’t help your original argument either. It sounds like you are saying “It is theoretically possible that a naysayer could have checked Paul’s claim of 500 witnesses – therefore there were 500 witnesses”.

          Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my point. I was addressing Bob’s assertion that the best-case scenario was that potential naysayers would not even know there was anything to nay-say until 30 years after Jesus’ death. He assumes that the absolute first time anyone would have been reporting miracles related to Jesus would be when the Gospels were written down.

          1. Since Paul is writing to people who have already heard (and he makes reference to others doing the same) what he has to say, it’s doubtful (a key word for both sides here) that this would be the first time the resurrection of Jesus had been out there for someone to call “BS”.

          2. Accepting Bob’s premise, Paul is writing about this miracle 10 years earlier than the earliest dating for the Gospels. This reduces the “improbability” argument’s viability significantly.

          We really need stats to make the improbability case. What we’ve got is more like “muddying the waters” – not so much debate as heckling. We don’t know how many potential naysayers would be out there, coming in contact with recent converts, nor how many it would take. Both arguments are speculative in nature. Our own experience says even one whistle-blower could be enough to have a large effect.

        • Not really. Paul writes to people who he says has heard from him – not from anyone else. This was in a letter to Corinth, a long way from where the events were said to have happened, and in a completely different culture. What naysayers do you expect to be there? And how quickly do you expect a letter to Corinth to have made it to other places where naysayers would have been more likely to be? And would those hypothetical naysayers then have gone back to the source and tried to catch all the spreading copies of 1 Corinthians?

          This is part of why I think it’s important that this number receives no support from the gospels and appears to contradict Acts: We have both internal and external reasons to question it as a startling and implausible assertion. It’s an odd place for a genuine claim to turn up in and never be repeated. And when it occurs in a place where the founder’s word is likely to be accepted without question, I just don’t buy the naysayer argument (note: I don’t think Paul founded Christianity, just that he founded the church in Corinth – and I suspect that was also what Bob meant when he said “the founder of the church”, not the “conspiracy “fact”” that you paraphrased and then condemned).

          In referring to Lewinsky and Vietnam earlier for memory lengths, you also invoked a “public notability” test, but I just don’t think that applies here. It’s questionable whether the events were notable even in Judea – I think it’s a massive stretch to assume they were notable in Corinth or the surrounds.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I agree that Paul is addressing people who have heard from him (although Paul mentions helpers). He also gripes about outsiders. His letter to the Romans was to a group he did not found.

          I do not expect Paul’s letters to be widely dispersed that early. The dating of Acts is 80 – 90 A.D., but the author’s account does not mesh with some of Paul’s facts, suggesting even that author did not have access to Paul’s letters 40 years after they were written. However, Greg has suggested that James had access to at least one of Paul’s letters in time to write his letter before dying about the same time.

          The Gospels make reference to a couple of specific events that might have allowed for 500 witnesses. They also reference “other” appearances. My suspicion would be that Paul is hearing about these from other people who were there and could have exaggerated. Actually witnessing a miracle in person would be notable. Listening to someone claiming one when I was there to see otherwise would not be blown off.

          As a point in support of Christianity, this one is pretty weak, IMO, matched only in weakness by Bob’s shoot-down.

        • Well, you think it a weak point in support of Christianity. So do I (weak to the point of non-existence). So how about we give it a rest?

        • Clement Agonistes

          I was hopeful we would have done so by now. My point here is not how strong the (naysayer) argument ever was, but how poor the reasoning that went into shooting it down was. We all need to be working on improving our thought process. If Bob’s points were this weak, and yet none of you noticed, how strong is your thought process? I am totally OK with skepticism about Christianity. But, skepticism must be universal if we are to be good thinkers. At a minimum, have a self-awareness of your double-standard.

        • Well, if that’s your larger point, forget it. I don’t think Bob’s argument is weak. I just think you misunderstand it and try to demolish a probabilistic argument with an absolutist axe.

          As I think I’ve already stated, I came up with this argument independently while a Christian, and as a result stopped using the Christian argument this is attempting to refute. If any bias was present there, it certainly wasn’t a “double-standard” or somehow trying to reject Christianity. That came later.

          I suspect each reader has come to this blog through different reasoning and a different journey, so I’d suggest dropping the simplistic “I, Clement, declare the argument weak, therefore every approving reader of the blog has double standards and lacks a strong thinking process”.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Great – you think it is “not-weak”. I think it is, and laid out why I think so. Jump in any time your want. Just saying “I think it isn’t weak” is kind of pointless. The rationale behind it would be better. If you think Bob’s point about 40 years is valid, make the case.

        • I’ve already pointed out why multiple times: Bob has made a probabilistic, cumulative case, and you are trying to discredit individual arguments without considering what effect that has on the cumulative case.

        • Susan

          As a point in support Christianity, this one is pretty weak.

          Why not provide something that isn’t?

          matched only in weakness by Bob’s shoot-down

          You mean by your strawman of Bob’s article.

        • I suspect that was also what Bob meant when he said “the founder of the church”

          Clement likes to quote paraphrases. I’ve asked him to show me where I said “founder of the church” and got nothing, so I don’t even have anything to respond to.

        • Greg G.

          “Paraphrase-mining” is extreme “quote-mining”.

        • How lucky for us that we can learn from the master.

        • Paul B. Lot

          If the International Olympic Committee would just return my calls, we might get Extreme Quote Mining added to the next Summer Games. 🙁

        • Well, that one is a direct quote (because it came from me, not from Clement…). Point 6 on the “500 eyewitnesses” article had “If the founder of the church says something, who’s likely to question it?” I assume you meant Paul founded the church in Corinth, which is a perfectly reasonable point. Clement, on the other hand, put it as “You declare him to be the “founder” of Christianity, a conspiracy “fact” with no support.”

        • Thanks for giving a source for the original quote.

          Yes, you’ve got it. That was my point. It’s hard to imagine that that was out of Clement’s reach.

        • And BTW, I think you’re completely missing Bob’s overall argument in this post by focusing on point 2 in isolation. Just have a look at point 1: Part of what makes the gospels valid fodder for a naysayer is they claim principally to be a recounting of historical events about a real person called Jesus. There are plenty of events included, and it is possible for a sufficiently well-informed naysayer to comment on which events happened and which doesn’t.

          A small passage in 1 Corinthians is a completely different story. The entire letter seems to form a combination of theological work and church instruction manual. What naysayer is likely to be reading through to near the end to find a few thin verses of historical claims? Particularly when those claims also contain semi-theological overtones (repitition of “in accordance with the scriptures”), and seem partly to be just a chain of transmission attempting to justify the authority of the founder of the church of Corinth.

        • Clement Agonistes

          All of his points were weak. Point #1 was defining the terms in a friendly way to Bob’s thesis. Point #2 was especially vulnerable since the story was being told orally before it was written down, and we have written evidence of that 20 years before Bob considers it possible.

        • I don’t think Bob’s points are weak. But leaving that aside, they are building a cumulative case, and it’s not enough just to dismiss each point individually (to your satisfaction). In this case, I really don’t see how oral transmission of the story weakens the argument. If a potential naysayer would have difficulty finding a written document and getting it retracted, how are they going to stop wrong information spreading by word of mouth? (and growing in the process).

          As I stated, it is not even clear whether that story spreading in the form that is in 1 Corinthians would be supposed to be talking about a historical event (as the gospels were) rather than a theological event.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I really don’t see how oral transmission of the story weakens the
          argument. If a potential naysayer would have difficulty finding a
          written document and getting it retracted, how are they going to stop
          wrong information spreading by word of mouth?

          1. Bob asserts that the 40-yr time period before the 1st Gospel is written is crucial because of the 40-yr average lifespan. As Greg and I have pointed out, infant and child mortality explains much of the reason for the low number. Even Bob points out that “people died young”. Paul is writing about a miracle 20 years prior to that 1st Gospel being written. And, he is referencing accounts that were transmitted orally a decade earlier. So, we know they exist. Bob’s point relies on the Gospels being the only account(s) to be nay-said. Those facts destroy this point. Calling the 40-yr point “weak” is being very generous.

          2. Everything spread by word-of-mouth in a mostly-illiterate culture. Granted, Jews were more literate because of the need to be able to read scripture, but the medium – paper, if you will – was limited. One would be selective about what one wrote. Negative information would spread just as fast as positive. One gets the impression that there were so many stories about supernatural events going around that these just blended into the background noise. Yet, how many had legs?

          Bob’s tactic here is not to present facts that shoot down the argument, but to cast doubt on it. That is a far easier task than building an entire argument. He is nay-saying. Bob is preaching to an audience that is already hostile to Christianity, and therefore much more likely to embrace bad news that agrees with their bias (human nature). 1st century naysayers would be preaching to an audience which is also hostile to Christianity. Jews certainly want to squelch the new cult, and Greeks & Romans believed preaching against their gods brought misfortune on their cities.

          3. Paul is discussing theological concepts – you are correct. However, in this case, he references historical events as evidence supporting his theological point (why we believe in our own resurrection). Paul also touches on that church’s observation of the Lord’s Supper, which would be based on a historical event. In the context of a letter to an already-established church, Paul is building on an established foundation of historical knowledge. The members had heard the story, and have issues with the implications. Theological naysayers are causing trouble in several of these early churches. Naysaying works.

        • epeeist

          Otherwise, this is classic Clement—lots of confidence but little content

          Actually this is Clement, or at least this is what Clement does.

        • Susan

          1. The Definition Game

          Who is changing definitions? Paul claimed that Jesus appeared to him as a vision. Not as flesh and blood.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I didn’t say “changing” definitions. I said he’s playing the same game you do – pretending we don’t know the definition of commonly used words. The Disciples (et.al.) ate with resurrected Jesus, hugged Him, and Thomas even put his finger in the wound of Jesus. This takes place over time. It doesn’t have the characteristics of hallucinations. In Galatians, Paul describes spending 3 years in the desert with Jesus as the source of his knowledge.

        • Greg G.

          It doesn’t have the characteristics of hallucinations.

          Those are from gospel accounts and they have the characteristics of a fictional story.

          In Galatians, Paul describes spending 3 years in the desert with Jesus as the source of his knowledge.

          No, he doesn’t. You don’t read for comprehension. He said he went to Arabia. The only use of any form of the word “desert” in the NIV Pauline epistles are for the verb in the sense of abandoning.

          He says he didn’t get his gospel from other humans but from a revelation from Jesus. What kind of revelation? You are reading the fiction of Acts back into the epistles. In Paul’s other letters, he makes it clear that he gets is information from the OT scriptures which he associates with being from Jesus, where he quotes Isaiah 28:11-12 and says “says the Lord”. (1 Corinthians 14:21)

        • Clement Agonistes

          I stand corrected. Paul spent 3 years in the tropical rain forest of Arabia, not the desert.

          While Acts has some differences with Paul’s accounts (one guesses Luke did not have access to the letters 30 years later that James managed to get before the recipients), it gives details that are helpful. Historians like having multiple sources.

        • Greg G.

          I stand corrected. Paul spent 3 years in the tropical rain forest of Arabia, not the desert.

          Arabia is a big place. The other places he says he went to are Damascus and regions of Syria and Cilicia, all of which are to the north of Judea where it is not so arid.

          While Acts has some differences with Paul’s accounts (one guesses Luke did not have access to the letters 30 years later that James managed to get before the recipients), it gives details that are helpful. Historians like having multiple sources.

          But using a fictional account is the opposite of helpful. It gives false confidence. I think Luke did have some letters and constructed a story around them which makes the confirmed details from Acts circular. Luke’s reliance on Matthew and Antiquities of the Jews with Matthew’s reliance on Antiquities of the Jews from the mid-90s puts Luke no earlier than the turn of the century and probably much later.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Syria and Cilicia aren’t Arabia. Generously, it is “wherever Arabs live” – the desert of Iraq, the desert of Jordan, and the desert of Arabia. Hay, even Israel, but he would have just said that.

          “Antiquities” – yeah, I got a chuckle out of that. Since Luke MUST have used Antiquities, then Acts HAS to be from after Antiquities was written. The leaps of logic you make are stunning.

        • Greg G.

          Syria and Cilicia aren’t Arabia. Generously, it is “wherever Arabs live” – the desert of Iraq, the desert of Jordan, and the desert of Arabia. Hay, even Israel, but he would have just said that.

          He says he went to Arabia, then returned to Damascus, which would suggest he passed through Damascus along the way, which would be the more populated parts of Arabia. Syria and Cilicia were a different trip. If you are saying that Paul went to the cities north of Damascus, we agree but saying “desert” instead of what Paul actually wrote implies three years in the desert wilderness, like a Bedouin nomad. I just wanted to clarify that point.

          “Antiquities” – yeah, I got a chuckle out of that. Since Luke MUST have used Antiquities, then Acts HAS to be from after Antiquities was written. The leaps of logic you make are stunning.

          Steve Mason wrote a whole book about the coincidences between Josephus and Luke/Acts. If it was just coincidence, we would expect them to be spread evenly throughout the gospel but they are concentrated in the 30% that is not taken from Mark and Matthew. The story of Jesus being at the temple at age 12 is very much like Josephus’ story in Vita, his biography that is thought to be later than Antiquities, about discussing the law and impressing the adults at the temple at age 14.

          There are 34 historically verified New Testament characters and twenty of them are from Luke and Acts with seventeen of the twenty being mentioned by Josepus with many of those verified only by Josephus. Five are in Luke, all mentioned by Josephus, and fifteen in Acts. There are only two other historically verified characters mentioned by only one author in the rest of the New Testament.

          You can play the “just a coincidence” card five or ten times but when you have to do it a few dozen times, you have to admit there is a pattern.

          But it is not just the frequency. Many of the people play no role in the story and seem to be mentioned by name simply because they are associated with an active character in Josephus’ writings. In Acts 5:34-39, Gamaliel is giving examples of bad guys who came to a bad fate. He mentions two historically verified characters, both of whom are known to us only from Antiquities. But Gamaliel had to go back about four decades to come up with Judas the Galilean, and he had to go a decade into the future for Theudas, which is an indication that the passage is fiction. But Josephus mention the two in consecutive sections – Antiquities of the Jews 20.5.1-2.

        • epeeist

          He says he went to Arabia

          A well known term in Roman times being made up of Arabia Deserta (or Arabia Magna), Arabia Felix, and Arabia Petraea (I have always fancied this book but have never been able to justify buying it, even second hand).

        • Paul B. Lot
        • Greg G.

          From what I learned the past couple of days, this one looks like it is from the second century:

          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dd/Roman_Empire_125_political_map.svg

          Does the “125” represent the year?

        • Paul B. Lot

          *sheepish shrug*

          I am not knowing.

        • Greg G.

          I saw that book mentioned when I looked to see where Paul was talking about going. I noticed several cities in the narrow northern part of Arabia Petraea, all north of Damascus.

        • Pofarmer

          $800 Holy crap.

        • Greg G.

          It is sold out at that price.

        • epeeist

          Yeah, the Folio Society books are nice (I have a fair few) but I don’t think I could get that one passed my wife’s eagle eye.

        • Clement Agonistes

          He says he went to Arabia, then returned to Damascus, which would suggest he passed through Damascus along the way, which would be the more populated parts of Arabia. Syria and Cilicia were a different trip. If you are saying that Paul went to the cities north of Damascus, we agree but saying “desert” instead of what Paul actually wrote implies three years in the desert wilderness, like a Bedouin nomad. I just wanted to clarify that point.

          Paul “returned” to Damascus because he had been there before. He had been on the road to Damascus when his life changed. There was a long Jewish tradition of the desert being a special place. I don’t know why you mentioned Syria and Cilicia.

          Acts is dated between 80 – 90; Antiquities to 93. The math simply does not work.

        • Greg G.

          I mentioned Syria and Cilicia because Paul said he went there four verses after he said he went to Arabia and Damascus. Have you ever read and tried to understand Galatians?

          Acts is dated between 80 – 90; Antiquities to 93. The math simply does not work.

          Do you know how they date writings? They are assuming that it is not fiction and it was written by who they attribute it to so they have to put it within a human lifespan. But some try to say it was written in the 60s. So 80-90 AD is a compromise between the absurd and the realistic.

          There are no direct internal clues for the date. We can look for works that it is based on. Antiquities can be dated to 94 or 95 AD as it says it was finished in the third year of Trajan as emperor.

          The absurd claims in Acts shows it relied on Antiquities and Vita. Luke is dependent on Matthew and Matthew was dependent on Antiquities and Acts was written after Luke. One must assume rapid transmission of each to even get Acts in the first century.

        • Clement Agonistes

          I mentioned Syria and Cilicia because Paul said he went there four verses after he said he went to Arabia and Damascus.

          We agree on that. I don’t grasp the significance you attribute to it. AFTER he goes to Damascus, he goes into Turkey (possibly visiting family?). Our discussion was about where Paul went Before he went to Damascus.

          Do you know how they date writings? They are assuming that it is not fiction and it was written by who they attribute it to so they have to put it within a human lifespan. But some try to say it was written in the 60s. So 80-90 AD is a compromise between the absurd and the realistic.

          If your logic were indisputable, the date would be after 93. It could not be earlier. One might even say 90-100. The consensus is 80-90. Your author’s theory is not held in high esteem by experts in the field. Experts get proven wrong all the time, and that could very well happen here. But, so far, it hasn’t. For the time being, that puts you squarely in the “not realistic” camp. Could the author of Acts have even had the opportunity to read Antiquities. How widely was it published? How many years would it have taken for him to get access to a copy? Could Luke have spoken with his fellow historian, Josephus and gotten the information prior to its completion?

          Yes, you do assume rapid transmission. . . . . and a lot of other things for which we have no evidence. Evidence, evidence, evidence. Not wild-eyed speculation, or circular reasoned coincidence, but evidence.

        • Greg G.

          We agree on that. I don’t grasp the significance you attribute to it. AFTER he goes to Damascus, he goes into Turkey (possibly visiting family?). Our discussion was about where Paul went Before he went to Damascus.

          Everywhere Paul went was north of Jerusalem. Why assume he went east into an inhospitable area without evidence?

          It is possible he visited family but we don’t have anything to back up the claim from Acts that he was actually from Tarsus. I think Luke inferred it from the mention of Cilicia in Galatians.

          If your logic were indisputable, the date would be after 93. It could not be earlier.

          Korrekt.

          One might even say 90-100.

          Incorrect. After 93.

          The consensus is 80-90.

          There is no consensus.

          Could the author of Acts have even had the opportunity to read Antiquities. How widely was it published? How many years would it have taken for him to get access to a copy?

          Those are excellent questions. That’s why some think Luke and Acts were around the middle of the second century. But when you look at all the coincidences between Josephus’ writings and Luke/Acts, the question is “When?” not “If?”

          Could Luke have spoken with his fellow historian, Josephus and gotten the information prior to its completion?

          Probably not. Matthew based his nativity story on Josephus’s account of the Moses nativity and Luke used Matthew, not the imaginary Q document. Acts was written after the Gospel of Luke. So Matthew had to get a copy of Antiquities first, then Luke had to get a copy of Matthew and Antiquities, in addition to a copy of Mark. He would also need a set of OT passages along with a complete version of Deuteronomy, both in the Septuagint.

          Yes, you do assume rapid transmission. . . . . and a lot of other things for which we have no evidence. Evidence, evidence, evidence. Not wild-eyed speculation, or circular reasoned coincidence, but evidence.

          We would need the originals or verifiably dated copies to set earlier dates. The coincidences between Luke/Acts and Josephus are overwhelming evidence that cannot be honestly denied when all are considered. Luke borrowed information from nearby passages. He starts off with a rejection of Matthew’s nativity with the baby killing and comes up with the census from Antiquities 18, chapter 1 and goes from there.

    • Pofarmer

      One of the best examples of what you are talking about here comes from
      Paul, who points out that hundreds of people witnessed a resurrected
      Jesus.

      Yeah, he says that Jesus “Appeared to” the 500, the same way that they appeared to Paul, using the same word, and also Cephas and James. Aka, Jesus appeared to them, in the scriptures, if it’s not simply an interpolation. It’s the only mention of the 500 anywhere.

      For the Ephesians, they might have been able to ask John, who supposedly was the Bishop of Ephesus decades after Paul’s death.

      Peter died around the same time as Paul – years after Paul’s first letters.

      Mark,
      who lived in Jerusalem, and probably included himself in the story of
      Jesus’ arrest (the “young man”), lived into the late ’60s, and was
      available to those in Alexandria to question Paul’s account.

      All of this is kind of Church apologetics. But even many Catholic theologians admit that this is Church legend, and there isn’t any real proof for any of it.

      We have numerous accounts of problems in the early church, yet no one describes naysayers as one of those problems.

      “Against Celsus” certainly deals with at least on naysayer.

      • Clement Agonistes

        Maybe I mis-read Bob’s column. I understood him to be talking about eyewitnesses to Jesus’ miracles. The naysayers would have been those saying, “BS, I was there, and no such thing ever happened.” Celsus was 200 years after the event.

        • Pofarmer

          How many naysayers are there to “Gone with the wind?”

        • Clement Agonistes

          So, I understood Bob correctly?

    • richardrichard2013

      “Paul challenges his readers to ask those who witnessed it to see if Paul is telling the truth. Paul writes, not 40 years later, but 20 years later – comparable to remembering the Monica Lewinski scandal today, as opposed to maybe the end of the Vietnam War for the Gospels.”

      did they check ? you didn’t inform on that part,
      paul also uses a lot of IF statements which don’t make sense if there were hundreds who actually saw and touched a body which came back to life.

      12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

      one second, they KNOW of people who saw a RESURRECTED body which eat and had wounds ,none of the above was necessary. if stephen hawkins was seen by 500 3 days after his death , no one would want to make ARGUMENT for resurrection , no one would need faith.

      unless paul knows nothing about johns eating and drinking post resurrected jesus and it was all vision which could not be touched or felt.

      i found this discussion at reddit very interesting

      https://www.reddit.com/r/AskBibleScholars/comments/8baz2z/did_paul_believe_in_a_spiritual_resurrection/?st=jfz9195y&sh=e1af9767

      according to nicolos covington , 20 years is enough for turning dream in to mass vision

      quote :

      Roughly 25 years after Emperor Constantine’s conversion, Eusebius wrote that the cross had appeared to Constantine in the sky in front of his entire army! But we know this is a myth because we have a report from Lactantius, an adviser to Constantine, who wrote only three years after the conversion, says only that Constantine had a dream about the cross the night before the battle! Eusebius’ mass vision story is a complete myth. Now think about: Eusebius wrote 25 years after Constantine’s vision, Paul wrote about 25 years after the alleged resurrection of Jesus, and most scholars agree that the appearance to the 500 is Paul’s addition to the list (thus it does not date back to within 3 years of Jesus’ death as other parts of the creed may), so it isn’t reliable evidence of anything. The Constantine example also completely destroys Strobel’s assertions that it takes two generations or more for legends to grow up. Not so: in 25 years you can turn a dream into a mass vision.

      https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RMASEPRDBHYBL/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0310350573

      • Clement Agonistes

        “Paul challenges his readers to ask those who witnessed it to see if Paul is telling the truth. Paul writes, not 40 years later, but 20 years later – comparable to remembering the Monica Lewinski scandal today, as opposed to maybe the end of the Vietnam War for the Gospels.”

        did they check ? you didn’t inform on that part,

        We don’t know. That is, at least in part, Bob’s point in this article. Even today, such a tactic is a bold one. The implication is that it is such a bold claim that only the person confident of being validated would make it. OTOH, a person who is desperate, and certain to lose an argument might make it too, hoping to pull victory out of the jaws of defeat.

        Bob asserts that checking up on the claim borders on impossible, so a desperate Paul could have a level of confidence that his claim could not be disproven. Christians claim that no one stepped forward to crush the seedling religion with the claim, “They’re lying! I was there and nothing like that happened.

        paul also uses a lot of IF statements which don’t make sense if there were hundreds who actually saw and touched a body which came back to life.
        12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead,

        IF Paul were preaching to eyewitnesses, this would be a silly tactic. One presumes people who witnessed such a thing would not need to be told about it, and would already be as convinced as was possible. Paul’s audience were not eyewitnesses. As a teaching tool, this kind of rhetorical point is still effective today: “If you’ve been taught X, why are you arguing something which does not follow logically from X?”