Dating the Gospels: Harder than You Might Think (2 of 2)

Dating the Gospels: Harder than You Might Think (2 of 2) December 23, 2015

In part 1, we looked at the conservative Christian argument for an early dating of the gospels (using a blog post from Jim Wallace to represent that position). These Christians are eager to minimize the time from events to the chronicling of those events in the gospels. With a little sleight of hand, they can reduce this time gap for the gospel of Mark to about twenty years.

Now let’s turn to the scholarly consensus. Bart Ehrman says, “Scholars debate [whether Mark was written before or after the Jewish War with Rome], but the majority (outside of fundamentalists and very very conservative evangelicals) think the answer is ‘afterward.’” We will explore some of the ideas that support that conclusion.

Dating the gospelsMaybe the gospel authors did know about the Temple

The gospels show Jesus alluding to the Jewish-Roman War and the destruction of the Temple.

Jesus said [referring to the Temple], “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down” (Mark 13:1–2).

When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near…. There will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20–24)

The Parable of the Great Banquet (Matthew 22:1–14) and the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (Mark 12:1–12) tell of a king and a landowner, respectively, who play the role of God. After being treated unfairly, the king/landowner destroys those who wronged him.

Each of these examples sound like they were written from a time when the extent of the destruction was known because it had already happened.

Do you really want to leave a prophecy unfulfilled?

The early daters cling to the idea of an accurate Jesus prophecy, but this falls apart when we analyze it. Consider two options. Option one: Jesus foretold the destruction of the Temple, and the author of Mark knew that this had already happened. This is the scholarly consensus.

With option two, Jesus foretold the destruction of the Temple, but the author of Mark didn’t know this had happened. Wallace picks this option because he can’t imagine that the author wouldn’t have turned down the chance to brag about it, but it’s not smart to add an unfulfilled prophecy that could look embarrassing in the future.

And why expect that the gospel authors would underscore the obvious? If the Temple had been destroyed just a few years earlier, why bother adding, “and, as you know, this indeed happened”? Good writers don’t explain the punch line.

Clues to late dating in the gospels

The gospels themselves argue that the gospels were late. Luke begins, “Many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.” The phrase “from the beginning” suggests a good amount of time has passed. And what about the reference to “many” prior accounts? Even with the hypothetical lost gospel of Q, the first century didn’t have many gospels (as far as we know). This sounds more like the second century, when “many” would accurately describe the number of gospels.

At the end of Matthew, we read, “So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day” (Matt. 28:15). This phrase also suggests a good amount of time, not shortly.

Other clues

  • Bart Ehrman calls Paul “extraordinarily well-traveled and well-connected” and yet says that the lack of any hint of the gospels in his epistles suggests that they came after his time. Wallace imagines that there were several gospels to choose from, but Paul wouldn’t have bothered to guide his flock through the question of which were accurate.
  • Mark writes about an Israel that didn’t yet exist in the time of Jesus. He writes about a handwashing ritual in Mark 7:1–4 that was accurate around 70 CE but wasn’t true in the time of Jesus (see Randel Helms, Who Wrote the Gospels? p. 10). Mark also refers to synagogues being common and the title “Rabbi,” each of which was only true decades after Jesus (see the Bible Geek podcast for 9/17/13 @19:00).
  • The author of Luke is often praised as a historian. He’s said to be accurate because the facts in Luke match those in Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews (93 CE), but one easy explanation is to suppose that the author of Luke copied Josephus. After all, the author had no problem copying nearly 80% of Mark.
  • Acts has clues that point to a late date. In it, Paul says, “After my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:28–9). This could refer to heretical teachings such as those from Marcion (mid-second century).

How close to a date can we get?

Randel Helms in Who Wrote the Gospels? (p. 7–8) makes a compelling argument for a date for Mark.

Mark includes obvious apocalyptic* elements, and the “Little Apocalypse” in Mark 13 refers to the “abomination of desolation” from Daniel. Daniel pretends to be written in the sixth century BCE and prophecies the end of the world in 164 BCE, but, like other apocalyptic books, things are best explained if we imagine it written a few years before this point.

Mark puts into the mouth of Jesus a prediction of the war that will be the “birth pains” of the new godly age. This war is one that the author of Mark has just experienced, and he predicts the imminent end this way:

[Jesus said:] But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven…. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.… You too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Mark 13:24–30)

If the book of Daniel is the template, Mark would have used its end times dating method. During the last week of years (that is, seven-year period), the “abomination of desolation” happens halfway through, and then three and a half years later comes the end of this age. The destruction of the Temple in 70 would be the abomination of desolation, so the end predicted by Mark—the one with the stars falling to earth—should happen in roughly 74. That places the authorship of Mark between those two dates.

The takeaway here is that there are a handful of indefinite clues for dating the gospels. You’re on solid ground if you say that they could have been written as early as the mid-first century or as late as around 150 when Justin Martyr quotes from the four gospels (though there’s even debate here about whether those quotes had to have come from the gospels). To reduce this range from a century to a decade, all you can manage is an educated guess.

Even giving the apologists their earliest date for the authorship of Mark, that still leaves two decades of oral history, plenty of time for legend to grow.

When he [asked] what separates Hitler from Mother Teresa,
 I really wanted to say a mustache.
— Rachal Davidson

*Apocalypticism sees two time periods, the evil one that we’re living in now, and the good one that God will violently usher in any day now. This belief had been an element within Judaism for a couple of centuries by the time of Mark.

Photo credit: liz west, flickr, CC

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  • KarlUdy

    You’re on solid ground if you say that they could have been written as early as the mid-first century or as late as around 150

    As to the start date, I don’t think anyone is dating the gospels earlier than mid-first century. As to the end date, there is a fragment of John’s gospel which is dated to 125AD. As John is generally accepted to be the latest of the gospels, this must be the outer limit for dating the gospels.

    • buttle

      Given its tiny size the date of P52 is far from a settled fact, it could be from the later second century and still be the earliest fragment of any gospel. One of the text used as comparison by Roberts was the Egerton gospel, which was abruptly revised to the third century once a new fragment from the same manuscript was found (but in reality it could still be from the second), and the other comparisons are hardly “foolproof”. I recommend a reading of the paper “The Use And Abuse of P52” by Brent Nongbri ( http://people.uncw.edu/Zervosg/Papyrology/Nongbri%20p52%20Misuse.pdf ).

      An early dating of John raises more questions than it solves: why are there no quotes or mentions of it at least until Justin? How could it have been widely circulated in Egypt since at least 100CE and yet not leave a trace in any record, particularly if it was composed far from Egypt, such as in Syria? Consider Papias, writing in about 125CE (but wasn’t he writing after Hadrian?): he goes around in Phrygia asking the elders and other christians that didn’t know any better than him what they knew about these gospels (because he didn’t trust the texts! how recently were they introduced there?), and yet we only know that he mentioned Mark and Matthew, not Luke or John.

  • wtfwjtd

    Another interesting tidbit: The village of Nazereth has only been dated to the late first century, or early second century. If this holds, it’s a rather embarrassing and devastating blow to those who maintain it as the hometown of Jesus, as the Bible claims.

    http://www.nazarethmyth.info/

    • Pofarmer

      Well, also round stones to seal tombs weren’t common until at least the 2nd century, I think.

    • I understand Nazareth was inhabited earlier than the time of Jesus as well as later but, like you said, the archaeological evidence does point to it being abandoned during the claimed time of the life of Jesus.

      Like the examples of Mark, the birth narratives pull in facts that were true in the later 1st century but not in the first years.

      • Greg G.

        AIUI, the area was populated for a long time until the Assyrians invaded in the 7th or 8th century BC.

  • Yonah

    The audience of Daniel were those Jews living under the oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes and they knew very well that both they and the author were not living in the 6th c B.C.

    In the same way, the author of Revelation makes allusions to the Antiochus Epiphanes era and again both audience and writer knew they were currently suffering under the Romans, and not the Greeks.

    lol

    • As for Daniel, that’s not how I understand it. The name “Daniel” was chosen because he had credibility from centuries past, just like other names of apocalyptic books during the intertestamental period, like Baruch or Enoch. The first readers thought that the book was ancient, even though it came from their own time.

      • RichardSRussell

        When I hear a pithy quotation that I vaguely remember from an earlier time, I usually chalk it up to William Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, or H. L. Mencken, depending on how cynical or playful it is. Sometimes I’m right.

      • Yonah

        No. The entirety of Daniel 11 and 12 is a metaphoric narrative upon the Jewish war with Antiochus Epiphanes. It’s not nice to call Jews of the 2nd century BCE stupid.

        You want to make theological/political books into history tomes like Tom Brokaw’s.

        Luke/Acts was not a historical work. It was political….an attempt to clean up and smooth over the underlying intra-Christian conflicts of the very early Church displayed in the Pauline corpus and then in the Jewish-Christian works of James, Hebrews, and Revelation.

        • buttle

          “No. The entirety of Daniel 11 and 12 is a metaphoric narrative upon the Jewish war with Antiochus Epiphanes.”

          Well Daniel 11 spans several centuries… It may be a “metaphoric narrative”, but still as prophetically told by the ancient prophet Daniel: can you really distinguish between a metaphoric narrative and a disguised post-facto prophecy? Why would Daniel make up all that stuff from ancient Persia then? Or are you claming that 11 and 12 are from a different author who wasn’t planning at all to attach it to an earlier and shorter Daniel? But allusions to the second century BCE are also in Daniel 7, 9, etc.. so most of Daniel is like that, he was deliberately misleading.

          “It’s not nice to call Jews of the 2nd century BCE stupid.”

          I don’t know how Daniel was received in the second century BCE, since it appeared out of nowhere it surely was rejected by some, but many/most first century CE jews were sufficiently stupid to mistake it for a very ancient prophetic book, Josephus being one of them. Is there actual evidence of their precedessors being any smarter?

          “In the same way, the author of Revelation makes allusions to the Antiochus Epiphanes era”

          That’s not exactly the same way, the author of Revelation doesn’t claim to be writing centuries before his time, he talks about Rome now, around the flavian period.

          “Luke/Acts was not a historical work. It was political….”

          Political sure, but disguised as a fake historical work, and was interpreted as such by contemporary christians and ever since. To paraphrase the former Pope: “why should we doubt that in her older age Mary told the apostles his story of the apparition, which was later reported to Luke, who then actually wrote an historical account?”.

        • Yonah

          The author of the Book of Daniel, the character of Daniel in the book, and the historical memory/oral tradition of the prophet Daniel are all different things.

          Your critique follow’s Bob’s methodology of needing a fundamentalist foil to make the critique work. For, if the texts you are concerned with are not, really, “claims” in the form of historical record, but in fact theological and political tracts…you have a stumbling block. The real situation is that the theology and the politics of the texts bear witness to a history…a flesh and blood history which is ongoing. I am surprised that you do not find stronger warrant in the theological pluralism of the NT and the early Church generally to all the more direct your critique…”if the message is real…why was it so differently heard and understood and spread?”

          On the other hand, then you would have the Question to answer:

          Why, then, have both Christianity and Judaism survived? You might chalk the Christian survival to political alliances of Christendom with various political orders…but, that is now largely and rapidly fading to the past.

          The canary in the coal mine question is:

          Why are there still Jews?….after the Holocaust, and the Jewish wars with Rome and Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Babylonian Captivity, and slavery in Egypt?

          Jews have no central theological or biblical authority. They all disagree with each other on theology and bible.

          Yet they are….with their different theologies and biblical positions.

        • Why are there still Jews?….after the Holocaust, and the Jewish wars with Rome and Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Babylonian Captivity, and slavery in Egypt?

          Jews have no central theological or biblical authority. They all disagree with each other on theology and bible.

          And Christianity is even more fragmented. There are 45K denominations today, and the number is growing. Why would disagreement within Judaism argue that it’s on its way out?

        • Yonah

          Maybe I don’t follow you logic properly. It seems to me that you focus on texts, which to you don’t hang all together, to critique the religion. It just seemed to me that you would have a stronger parallel idea in that the actual people in the religions don’t agree.

          In my view what people actually do with the texts trumps the texts. One thing they do is control the texts with tradition, whether it be a teaching magisterium, the fabrication of secondary bibles (i.e. Book of Concord; Institutes of Religion; Book of Discipline), or just some particular fundamentalist culture. In the Jewish tradition, the canon…as to what is contained in “Torah” is open…and thus one has an ever evolving array of texts and ongoing tradition. So, what the Reform movement holds today is very different than what it held a hundred years ago. I am surprised that you don’t go after that. But, in reality, Jews have never been upset at themselves very much over any of that. The real cause for concern is another age old one…assimilation to gentile culture.

        • buttle

          “The author of the Book of Daniel, the character of Daniel in the book, and the historical memory/oral tradition of the prophet Daniel are all different things.”

          Again, I know it, you know it, but i still see no proof that second century bce jews knew it. Provide evidence, or at least a better argument than “jews would not be fooled”.

          “Your critique follow’s Bob’s methodology of needing a fundamentalist foil to make the critique work.”

          No, a forgery is a forgery is a forgery, and Daniel was an amazingly successful one, there was even a legend that Daniel was actually read to Alexander the Great and that he recognized himself in the prophecy! Can you point to anyone (let alone a majority) not reading Daniel as an actual prophecy back then?

          “For, if the texts you are concerned with are not, really, “claims” in the form of historical record, but in fact theological and political tracts…you have a stumbling block.”

          No, but you have cognitive dissonance, up to the point of redefining the concept of historical claims to somehow salvage some scripture. I gave the example of Luke 1-2: no matter how also theological or political its intent (which is there) people still desperately cling to its historicity, and i see no evidence on your part that second century christians did otherwise, or that the author didn’t expect such an effect. I wonder if your rationalizing power also applies to 3 Corinthians, Apocalypse of Peter, Apocalypse of Paul, and so on; i mean, who cares if they were written by Paul and Peter or not?

          “The real situation is that the theology and the politics of the texts bear witness to a history…”

          In this case a history of forgery. You keep evading the issue, it sounds like you are the one with a stumbling block, as if a forgery couldn’t be theological or political…

          The rest, down to the nonsequitur “Why are there still Jews?”, i don’t really understand.

        • MNb

          “a forgery is a forgery is a forgery”
          That’s based on the assumption that people back then had the same morality as we now. That’s something we atheists usually dispute.
          Here you’re actually confirming Yonah’s “methodology of needing a fundamentalist foil to make the critique work.” I actually do not object that, because obviously fundamentalists make such claims. But it remains bad historical methodology to apply modern 21st Century ethical standards to a culture long gone. Plus far from all christians are fundamentalists. Against them this type of criticism simply doesn’t work, because strawman. You’re telling them how to believe, something we atheists mutatis mutandis don’t accept from believers either.
          BobS’ question underneath is a lot, lot better.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          Well forgery is forgery. Difference between then and now is that then forgery was form of flattery instead of a form of fraud – which is illegal today. Other than that, yes it is true: Forgery is forgery = fabricated authenticity.

        • MNb

          Aha! An atheist who believes in objective and absolute morality! Take this up with WL Craig. He will rejoice.
          But I’m a moral relativist and subjectivist. So you totally missed the crucial difference: you think forgery a bad thing and hence reject the stuff with disgust. The authors back then – and well up to at least 1500 CE – thought forgery a good thing.
          It gets even better – apparently Pope Gregorius G suddenly, now it suits him, accepts objective and absolute morality as well.
          Still you have brought up exactly nothing against

          “it remains bad historical methodology to apply modern 21st Century ethical standards to a culture long gone.”
          Exactly what you do, with the approval of Pope Gregorius G..

        • Greg G.

          It gets even better – apparently Pope Gregorius G suddenly, now it suits him, accepts objective and absolute morality as well.

          What are you talking about?

          I haven’t read Bart Ehrman’s Forged in a few years, but, IIRC, he gave examples of forgery being frowned upon in the early centuries of the Common Era.

          Review of Bart Ehrman’s book “Forged: Writing in the Name of God”… by Michael R. Licona, March 27, 2011:

          Ehrman states, “My definition of a forgery, then, is a writing that claims to be written by someone (a known figure [as opposed to someone who writes using a pen name]) who did not in fact write it” (24). What qualifies pseudepigrapha as forgery, then, is authorial intent. With only a few exceptions, the ancients condemned forged literature once they knew it had been forged (36-40).

        • MNb

          You are the one who drags in Ehrman, not me.
          What I’m talking about is you upvoting hence approving certain comments.
          My bad. It’s not done to question the wisdom of what Pope Gregorius G issues.
          Unfortunately I’m an incurable sinner. Whether it’s Ehrman or someone else, I cannot be cured of the sin of thinking that 21st Century ethical standards should not be applied to texts from Antiquity. May the god we don’t believe in forgive me.
          Somehow I cannot grasp the simple idea that Pope Gregorius G and like-minded people are far above addressing something trivial like

          ‘That’s based on the assumption that people back then had the same morality as we now. That’s something we atheists usually dispute.’

        • Greg G.

          What I’m talking about is you upvoting hence approving certain comments.

          You are touchy about Disqus up-votes? Did you get that from the other Greg?

          I up-voted your post just to make you feel better about yourself.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          Your post is filled with red herring gibberish and then you ended up restating my point. Good job.

        • MNb

          Amen, bro.
          When someone like you issues a dogma like ‘forgery is forgery is forgery’ lesser souls only can shut up and bow their heads.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion
        • buttle

          “The authors back then – and well up to at least 1500 CE – thought what you call forgery a good thing.”

          This is nonsense… You may think that writing a fake Pauline epistle could be useful for the spread of your brand of christianity, but those you don’t trick won’t be amused at all, even in ancient times.

        • Though I haven’t read the book, I’ve heard Bart Ehrman say this as well–that writing under a false name was not cool. Seems to me that there must be some nuance here (wouldn’t the ends justify the means if you were advancing your interpretation of Paul’s goals by writing another “Pauline” book?) but I have only read reviews.

        • Greg G.

          I read the book when it came out four years ago and my take-away was that forgery was frowned upon back then. Apparently, other scholars had noted it and tap danced around it but Ehrman used the term “forgery”.

        • buttle

          “wouldn’t the ends justify the means if you were advancing your interpretation of Paul’s goals by writing another “Pauline” book?”

          Every forger is justified or he wouldn’t forge, but that is true even today, when someone attributes fake quotes to a random president. Contrary to what MNb claims back then people were not some kind of moral idiots uninterested in authorship: when the theological agenda didn’t fit the first accusation leveled was that of forgery. They were duped just like modern day fundamentalists are fooled, not because they were anthropologically different.

        • Yonah

          As with the book of Revelation, there is no reason to assume that literature (indeed poetry/myth) written for people under specific and great stress would not have ears to hear their own story. Otherwise, the time tables in Daniel which fit those of the events under Antiochus Epiphanes would have to be received by 2nd c bce Jews as “huh, that’s funny….just like today.” People aren’t that stupid. The fact that later generations of students, lacking the same sitz im leben, assume other conditions and parameters is to be expected until study occurs.

          In the same way, from E. P. Sanders to presently, N.T. Wright, current understanding of Paul and his corpus is to be substantially revised. Luther was wrong on Paul. We now know that.

          One problem is that memory mutates quickly. Certainly, it is a common human thing that a work of literary art created for a specific purpose in short time gets transformed into “scientific” dogma by somebody for a completely different purpose. This is the problem we all have with religious fundamentalism. The task of a responsible religious leader is then to do the “archaeology” and recover authentic and constructive aspects of the tradition. As a pastor, I serve a parish of politically very conservative people…from some of whom I have to field much stupid, arrogant, and mean expressions which they import from bad tradition and present political/cultural fascism. If it were not for a presentation of the better angels of the Judeo-Christian tradition,these people would be left to just go full tilt fascist. But, as it is, the better angels are keeping them from doing that. So, we have a Fox News rhetoric on one hand, and their actual bodies and wallets stepping up to local outreach programs rendering substantial assistance to the poor. Left to their own, not only would the poor not be helped, they would be all the more attacked. In purely political terms, there’s a difference between John Kasich and Donald Trump.

          As for my question “Why are there still Jews?” This question is posed to atheists who appear to assume that pluralism within religious community is some kind of problem in terms of people being able to maintain their communal story. This may be true with Christian fundamentalists where there is little tolerance for pluralism. The opposite is the case with Jewish culture…and yet Jews still exist…our reason for existing not dependent upon “correct” biblical interpretation or “correct” theology. One might then ask what in the world does Judaism run on in place of “correct” bible and theology? From whence comes the value system of Bernie Sanders?

          One important sub-text in much biblical scholarship over the last 40-50 years has been a substantive and gradual recovery of the Jewish roots of Christianity. The other side of that coin is the realization that much of what has passed for Christianity the last 2000 years is quite simply an importation of the worst historical aspects of the Greco-Roman tradition.

        • If the goal of the author of Daniel was simply to draw parallels with the past, why the convoluted series of “prophecies”? Why not just say, “As it was in the danys of Daniel, so it is today with us …”?

        • Yonah

          As Elaine Pagels reminds readers, apocalyptic biblical literature is war-time literature. So, during the Nazi era, who could long mount an front-on ideological counter offensive? In Chapter 13 of Revelation we get the Anti-Christ number 666/616. Despite the convoluted attempts of fundys to just make up who 666 is/will be….clearly its Nero as the numerical values of the Neron/Nero work out to 666/616 (the variant text numbers have to do with which texts spell Nero with an ending n or not). So, it wasn’t CIA rocket science encryption, but it was good enough to avoid a frontal assault on the Roman establishment. Paul did the same thing in ripping off the titles reserved for Caesar and bestowing them on Jesus…everyone in-house understood what Paul was doing….which was consistent with the already established practice of the Church having a very long catechumenate before baptism to the point of catechumens not being allowed to be present for whole worship services….they needed to vet the new recruits over a long time (3 years). It is that history upon which the old Lutheran 3 year catechism program rested. I actually experienced that…unheard of today in the ELCA, but still done in some Missouri Synod churches. But, I digress, lol.

          Your question could equally be put to the whole Qumran community which produced the Dead Sea Scrolls library. Why did they write apocalyptically? It was because they considered themselves religious warriors at war.

        • Greg G.

          which was consistent with the already established practice of the Church having a very long catechumenate before baptism to the point of catechumens not being allowed to be present for whole worship services….they needed to vet the new recruits over a long time (3 years). It is that history upon which the old Lutheran 3 year catechism program rested. I actually experienced that…unheard of today in the ELCA, but still done in some Missouri Synod churches. But, I digress, lol.

          That sounds like the Essenes:

          Jewish Wars 2.8.7But now if any one hath a mind to come over to their sect, he is not immediately admitted, but he is prescribed the same method of living which they use for a year, while he continues excluded’; and they give him also a small hatchet, and the fore-mentioned girdle, and the white garment. And when he hath given evidence, during that time, that he can observe their continence, he approaches nearer to their way of living, and is made a partaker of the waters of purification; yet is he not even now admitted to live with them; for after this demonstration of his fortitude, his temper is tried two more years; and if he appear to be worthy, they then admit him into their society. And before he is allowed to touch their common food, he is obliged to take tremendous oaths, that, in the first place, he will exercise piety towards God, and then that he will observe justice towards men, and that he will do no harm to any one, either of his own accord, or by the command of others; that he will always hate the wicked, and be assistant to the righteous; that he will ever show fidelity to all men, and especially to those in authority, because no one obtains the government without God’s assistance; and that if he be in authority, he will at no time whatever abuse his authority, nor endeavor to outshine his subjects either in his garments, or any other finery; that he will be perpetually a lover of truth, and propose to himself to reprove those that tell lies; that he will keep his hands clear from theft, and his soul from unlawful gains; and that he will neither conceal any thing from those of his own sect, nor discover any of their doctrines to others, no, not though anyone should compel him so to do at the hazard of his life. Moreover, he swears to communicate their doctrines to no one any otherwise than as he received them himself; that he will abstain from robbery, and will equally preserve the books belonging to their sect, and the names of the angels (5) [or messengers]. These are the oaths by which they secure their proselytes to themselves.

          It looks like Josephus tried that.

          Life 2And when I was about sixteen years old, I had a mind to make trim of the several sects that were among us. These sects are three: – The first is that of the Pharisees, the second that Sadducees, and the third that of the Essens, as we have frequently told you; for I thought that by this means I might choose the best, if I were once acquainted with them all; so I contented myself with hard fare, and underwent great difficulties, and went through them all. Nor did I content myself with these trials only; but when I was informed that one, whose name was Banus, lived in the desert, and used no other clothing than grew upon trees, and had no other food than what grew of its own accord, and bathed himself in cold water frequently, both by night and by day, in order to preserve his chastity, I imitated him in those things, and continued with him three years. (3) So when I had accomplished my desires, I returned back to the city, being now nineteen years old, and began to conduct myself according to the rules of the sect of the Pharisees, which is of kin to the sect of the Stoics, as the Greeks call them.

          He may have gone through three years of the initiation but failed their test at the end.

        • Yonah

          In the old old Lutheran days, even after 3 years of instruction, the final Confirmation service included public examination of the child wherein the child was asked a theological question in front of the whole congregation before they were actually Confirmed. My mother actually went through that.

        • Greg G.

          Why are there still Jews?….after the Holocaust, and the Jewish wars with Rome and Antiochus Epiphanes, and the Babylonian Captivity, and slavery in Egypt?

          Archaeology shows that the Babylonian Exile did not involve all Jews and the slavery in Egypt is fictional but there were many pogroms against the Jews in the last 2000 years.

          Consider the math. If we take a generation to be 25 years, a little on the high side, a person born in 2000 would have 1024 ancestors from one generation in 1750, over a million in 1500, a billion in 1250, and a trillion in 1000. Those trillion would have a trillion ancestors each in year 1. Since the population of the world was about a half billion then, anybody who had ancestors after a few generations are likely to be ancestors to everybody today trillions of times over provided that there was regular contact between populations. The year 1 is about four centuries after Alexander opened trade routes between the Mediterranean region and India who already traded with the Far East, which means traveling salesmen and sex trade. So we most likely have ancestors from India and Japan as well. Go back a few dozen generations and we are cousins with all of the descendants of those ancestors.

          So it is no wonder that there are descendants of Jews today. The pogroms explain why there are so few that still identify with the religion.

        • Yonah

          You appear to have a dichotomy between math and values tied exclusively to religion. I was asking the question in terms of values…as in why would people still be enthusiastically self-identifying as Jews if an atheist critique of Scripture is supposed to be so impacting. My experience of my own Jewish identity and that of my friends is that between the math of just plain genealogy and religion is the wide and deep substance of Jewish culture and civilization which more fully informs Jewish values over against scripture alone….but it certainly includes allusion to the Hebraic textual tradition…which I hasten to add which is not confined to what gentiles call the Old Testament.

        • Greg G.

          I think the Jews of more than 2000 years ago were probably at least as superstitious as people are today.

          Antiquities of the Jews 17.2.4
          These are those that are called the sect of the Pharisees…
          …they were believed to have the foreknowledge of things to come by Divine inspiration…

        • Yonah

          The study of Josephus is its own thing. You have to historical critical on Josephus, just like the Bible…can’t just take it at face value. For one, Josephus has his own agenda based on his life story and decisions. Then, later Christians have messed with the Josephus texts…so you have to consider if you are dealing with an interpolation.

        • Greg G.

          Matthew seems to have based his Nativity story on that section of AJ 17 and the story of Moses’ birth in AJ 2. Matthew probably got the idea for the Wise Men from that. Josephus would have been new with minimal tampering.

        • Yonah

          There is wide scholarly consensus that the references to Jesus in Josephus are spurious interpolations.

        • Greg G.

          I agree with that. Many think that there is a core that sounds like Josephus but it has a Christian overlay. The Coincidences of the Emmaus Narrative of Luke and the Testimonium of Josephus by Gary J. Goldberg, Ph.D. is a nice analysis of the similarity of the two passages but his conclusion is that Luke and Josephus must have used a common source. But the Emmaus Narrative is a summation of the story of Luke and Luke is similar to the other gospels so that conclusion doesn’t make sense. The Testimonium Flavianum, Eusebius, and Consensus by Ken Olson shows that Eusebius used phrases in his own writing which allows that he could have imitated the part that sounds like authentic Josephus. So, we’re back to the Testimonium Flavianum being invented by Eusebius as has been claimed for centuries.

          I suspect that the John the Baptist passage is interpolated, as well, but that would have had to have happened early in the copies passed through early 2nd century Christian hands.

        • Yonah

          In general, my gut is that messing with texts having to do with relation between Jesus and John the Baptist are going to have the agenda of diminishing John…which we see in the NT. On the other hand, if we see a text where John is not diminished, but the text generally refers to the still strong following of John, most scholars give authenticity points to that.

        • Greg G.

          Mark says John’s baptism was for the remission of sins. In the later gospels, Jesus has divine roots from the beginning so he doesn’t need a remission of sins. Each of them obfuscates whether John actually baptized Jesus or just went through the motions to fulfill scripture. In Josephus, it specifically says that the baptism was not for the remission of sins. That seems like a clue that it would have likely been put into somebody’s copy of Josephus when Matthew, Luke and John were new.

          Another big clue is that John was killed at Macherus and Herod’s defeat in a battle with Aretas was because of the killing of John. But the previous section says that Macherus was controlled by Aretas.

        • Yonah

          A problem that the early Church had was how to account for the still strong (and separate) following of John well after his death, even to the point that some disciples of John knew very little of Jesus if anything. As John’s movement was older, one should expect to find similar and older oral and textual problems.

        • buttle

          Surely Luke would never ever make up that detail, right? No “metaphorical narrative” for him?

        • Yonah

          Typically, what the historical critical scholar would do is ask what Luke’s overall agenda is. In general, Luke is a smoother-outer/packager for a gentile audience…a harmonizer. He wants to show that John fits right into the overall story. So, that is a different kind of project than metaphore, but still ripe for the atheist critique. On the other hand the atheist has a challenge with the case the historical critical scholar makes for the historically authentic after that has been separated out from the “made up”. With the Lukan Christmas story, placing Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea is historically critically suspect for a variety of reasons including that there is no archaeological evidence of a Jewish community in that town at that time. Score one for the atheists. On the other hand, the memory of the connection of the town name of Bethlehem to Jesus is strengthened by virtue of the fact of another Bethlehem right next to Nazareth which was an inhabited Jewish community in that time, and was a fortified one at that…indicating it was a Jewish nationalist community…as Galilee was generally Jewish nationalist territory…and as is increasingly being recognized, Jesus connection with John the Baptist (and other nationalists in Jesus’ circle) was on the basis of Jewish nationalism.Score one for the historical Jesus.

        • Greg G.

          John 7:41-42 presents the question of how Jesus of Galilee could be the Messiah if the Messiah was supposed to be descended from David and be from Bethlehem. Matthew tried to solve it by writing a Nativity story and a genealogy. Luke sees a problem with modeling the Nativity on Josephus’ account of Moses’ Nativity story, possibly that God allowed all the babies to be killed in place of Jesus. Luke agreed with the first fourteen names in Matthew’s genealogy but realized that he left out four names and he seemed to count the Exile as a generation.

          Luke flipped to the beginning of Book 18 of Antiquities of the Jews for the census to move Joseph and Mary around and borrowed names from Josephus’ genealogy to fill out the last few generations.

        • buttle

          “I suspect that the John the Baptist passage is interpolated, as well”

          Have you already considered Peter Kirby’s take on this?:
          http://peterkirby.com/john-the-baptist-authentic.html

        • Greg G.

          I had not seen that. Thank you.

          I thought Casey’s rebuttal on Price’s claim of the baptism being about the remission of sins misses its mark. It still comes down to what was Jesus supposed to be repenting from. Matthew has John asking Jesus to baptize him but Jesus insists that John baptize him to “fulfill all righteousness”. John (the Gospel) has John the Baptist reporting what he saw when Jesus was baptized but it doesn’t say that JtB did the baptizing. Luke moves the bit about John being arrested to the verse immediately before the verse that says that Jesus was baptized without saying who did the baptism. Parsing words in Mark doesn’t address the issue of what the later gospel authors and their communities thought about Mark’s account of the baptism. So the motive stands. Even if the rest of the passage is authentic, that one bit about “the remission of sin” is still suspect.

          Comment #4 by J Wagenseil addresses another point about who controlled Macherus. Antiquities of the Jews 17.9.3 says Sabinus, Caesar’s steward for Syrian affairs, “disposed of the castles in the manner he pleased.” Antiquities of the Jews 17.10.9 says Aretas sent troops to aid Varus “out of his hatred to Herod, and in order to purchase the favor of the Romans”. When Varus came to Jerusalem, Sabinus fled the city, which would have left Varus in control. Is Josephus an omniscient narrator to know that Aretas acted to purchase favor or did he actually receive favor from the Romans? Macherus would have been a most likely prize, I would think.

          Kirby brings up the Onias’ death as being a similar report of God taking vengeance over the death. But the JtB passage is framed by such claims, one at the beginning and one at the end. A few sections later, at the end of the Herod story, Josephus says Herod’s complete loss of power was punishment from God for listening to a woman. That sounds like Josephus was adding levity to the story but having Herod lose a battle over the killing of a holy man spoils the joke, IMO.

          But I am reconsidering my position.

        • I’ve blogged about them.

        • The entirety of Daniel 11 and 12 is a metaphoric narrative upon the Jewish war with Antiochus Epiphanes. It’s not nice to call Jews of the 2nd century BCE stupid.

          Newsweek put the Hitler Diaries on its cover in 1983. Turns out it was a hoax. I’m not calling the editors of Newsweek stupid. Neither am I calling the Jews of any century stupid.

          Now that that red herring is addressed, I have no idea what your position is. When was Daniel written, and when did Daniel say the end was going to come?

        • Yonah

          The book of Daniel was written during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, 167-164 BCE. The author of the book responds to your question of end time in 12:7-13. In verse 7, the time is set at the end of 3 1/2 years (the length of AE’s reign, and then variant or extended times of 1290 and/or 1335 days are given in verse 13. The exact relation of those calculations to the 3 1/2 years is open to debate. But, in total, all the calculations are pegged to the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes.

        • Which is largely what I say in my post about Daniel that I linked to. I’m still missing the grounding for the accusation of calling the “Jews of the 2nd century BCE stupid.”

          You’re saying that I’m saying that they were fooled by the deception? Yes, they largely were.

        • Yonah

          No. I am saying that the author of Daniel was writing for Jews under the oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes, using the literary device of pointing to a previous Jewish national tragedy (Babylonian Captivity) which Jews, with God’s help, were able to recover from. The audience of the book of Daniel would have simply said, “Thank you” in return….knowing the author was addressing their plight and attempting to encourage them to hang in there. In the same way, the author of Revelation wrote to Jewish-Christians under Roman oppression and battling with intra Jewish-Christian conflict (over how much to play the game with the Romans) using literary allusions to the Antiochus Epiphanes era.

          Today, in Jewish community, the whole Chanukah Antiochus Epiphanes story has gained more weight in the wake of the Holocaust, the formation and chronic threat towards the modern state of Israel and resulting increased anti-semitism….whereas before the Holocaust, Chanukah was a very low key holiday…because its history was not in the tradition of Pharasaic rabbinic Judaism, but in their competition the priestly Sadducees who ultimately sold out to the Romans. So, today, the Antiochus Epiphanes story is carried on in Jewish community with an enhanced Zionist motivation which I approve of in terms of my being a mainstream Zionist as opposed to a 3rd Temple crazy who dreams of replacing the Dome of the Rock with a new temple.

        • I am saying that the author of Daniel was writing for Jews under the oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes…

          Agreed.

          … using the literary device of pointing to a previous Jewish national tragedy (Babylonian Captivity) which Jews, with God’s help, were able to recover from.

          So you’re saying that the Jewish audience of the 160s BCE read Daniel, knowing that the ink on the original was still wet and that that whole “Daniel” thing was just a literary device? That’s not how I understand it.

          The audience of the book of Daniel would have simply said, “Thank you” in return….knowing the author was addressing their plight and attempting to encourage them to hang in there.

          And again, I agree. The book was well targeted to people who needed to hear that their misery was almost over and that they just had to hang in there a little longer.

          The Apocalyptic books like Daniel (and Baruch, Esdras, etc.) were pseudepigraphy, a deliberate attempt to fool the readers that these were centuries-old books of great wisdom from an ancient patriarch.

          Today, in Jewish community, the whole Chanukah Antiochus Epiphanes story has gained more weight in the wake of the Holocaust, the formation and chronic threat towards the modern state of Israel and resulting increased anti-semitism….whereas before the Holocaust, Chanukah was a very low key holiday

          I thought it rose in prominence as a competitor to Christmas. No?

        • Yonah

          Jews have always used previous texts as a formatting context for a current text in various creative ways…out of necessity of coping. It’s what Jews do. As to what you imagine….many Jews sitting around with their own personal (printed ?) edition of Daniel kind of begs the question of the roots, subconsciously, of where such a vision comes from…again, I would suggest modern biblical fundamentalism. But, the reality is that most scripture was experienced by hearing, and thus in the context of worship with sermon…as we see with Jesus reading from Isaiah and then his subsequent commentary.

          This is to bring up a wider question as to your assumed vision….which I take to be fundamentalist, specifically fundamentalist Protestant. For, not considered in this discussion thus far is the reality that if not for the printing press and the Protestant Reformation, there would not be these general assertions that people are suckered with bogus texts just rolled out to them in a text to person transaction. No. For 1500 years, it was not primarily the Bible which was authoritative on a real life basis for Christians, but Church Tradition and the teaching magisterium of the Church with authored, guarded, and administered the teaching through catechism, liturgy, other ritual….the Bible being both controlled and used selectively as a tool of the teaching magisterium so that the ordinary Christian really had little use for a personal Bible. In short, the Bible was very filtered through the operation of the Church…which worked well for so many who were illiterate anyway.

          From our study of the early Church, we know that the Church functioned for a long time without an official canon. Books were used and held authoritative, but in different intensities by different Christian communities…and different books. The critique here assumes that attacking biblical texts is key to attacking Christian “claims”. But, the history is that the Church functioned and grew without an official Bible for hundreds of years, and then for 1500 without lay internalization of the Bible. This is to point out that Holy Tradition in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox tradition precedes and guides biblical teaching. In the current day, over against the worst abuses of Protestan fundamentalism (of the Bible); liturgical western Protestant churches, for all intents and purposes, through their leadership and liturgical renewal movements have simply “gone home”….that is to say…they’ve admitted that after all the sound and fury of the Reformation…in the end, the Catholics were right about the basic nature of the Church, the Gospel, ministry in the Gospel and how that ministry needs to be conducted according to good order in relation the great catholic tradition going back to the 1st century. While interpretation of all this varies, still in macro, the catholic paradigm has been re-installed in much of the historic Reformation protestant churches…so much so, many of these folks refuse to be called Protestant any longer. Among these folks, is a greater respect for the Lectionary and the basing of worship and church year cycle on the Lectionary…the Lectionary functioning as a control on the Bible…what will be observed biblically…which follows Jewish practice.

          Bob & Co. chooses the fundamentalist Protestant paradigm of the free market Bible in the hands of a free will consumer. I am pointing out that the catholic and Jewish paradigm has always embedded biblical teaching in the overall institutional agenda and mechanics of both synagogue and Church.

          The worry if 2nd BCE Jews were being hoodwinked by the book of Daniel seems to be a question of not much magnitude. Few actual Jews would have personally read it, and apparently few heard it as it was not given high regard by the leadership…it would not have been read in worship ordinarily as it was not Torah or Haftorah.

          As for Chanukah, again the post Holocaust and subsequent Zionist implications of the Holocaust inform heightened observance of the holiday. Same with Purim. The relationship of Chanukah with Christmas is a real thing, especially in the US….not only in a keeping up with the gentiles, but increasingly in the context of the rapidly increasing numbers of interfaith Jewish-Christian families.

        • The worry if 2nd BCE Jews were being hoodwinked by the book of Daniel seems to be a question of not much magnitude.

          We do agree, I thought, that Daniel was written in the 160s BCE. Apparently where we disagree is that you think that the use of ancient sages (Daniel, Baruch, etc.) in Apocalyptic literature was just a literary device and every potential reader/hearer understood it as such. You’ll have to show me that that’s how scholars see it.

        • Yonah

          In the field of History, the question as to what “common” people experienced was long not even considered…until the modern era. By discipline, History is written…and elitists do the writing. But, then other discipline were brought to bear such as archaeology and study of languages. In some contexts what common folk thought is a black box. On the other hand, one can trace popular movements/followings to some extent such as with John the Baptist, and James the brother of Jesus or the Zealots, etc. If you can find archaeological evidence on common folk that squares with references in documents, that’s always valuable.

          In my view, how Jews write and read texts as a culture counts as an empirical insight into how a text would have likely been received in a certain time. There would have been no college courses in the Historical Critical method in 164 BCE. But one does see the same general pattern in Jewish writing over and over again…where previous texts/events are re-purposed. Why, if anyone reading the Bible today can see that, any Jews of any generation could not self-understand their own cultural habits is quite beyond me.

          In the situation of the book of Daniel in the 2nd C BCE, it seems to me that to make an assertion the book was taught in a straight fundamentalist fashion, it would require the Jewish audience to ignore, what to modern scholars, are obvious political and numerological parallels and assign them to mere coincidences in texts. It would be like me getting up in the pulpit after Trump gets the Republican nomination and declaring that “Jesus is Hu-u-u-ge” and me expecting not to get my ass kicked. In the same way, the New Perspective On Paul studies, currently championed by N T Wright has caused scholarship to look more closely at the political methodology of the Apostle Paul…that all the titles Paul accords Jesus…are counter claims to that of the person/office of Caesar. Because the modern lay ear doesn’t have historical critical insight at the ready…for a long time…the obvious was missed.

          In any event, if one still wanted to assert that there was an attempt to hoodwink 2nd C BCE Jews, it was not very successful as the book of Daniel was not given great respect. Religious leaderships generally take careful inventory of the “pew” before they try setting something in stone. This was taught to me when I took courses at a Catholic seminary. For example, the new dogmas of the 19th C….Infalibility and the Marian dogmas….did not just come out of the blue. The positions/concepts had been resident unofficially for a long time. The pronouncing of the official was built upon the much longer history of the unofficial.

        • Greg G.

          Wasn’t the Book of Esther included in the canon to justify the festival of Purim?

        • Yonah

          It was written to justify Purim. It was heavily disputed for inclusion to the canon.

        • Pofarmer

          using the literary device of pointing to a previous Jewish national tragedy (Babylonian Captivity)

          I realize that this is a very old thread, but I just picked up on this. Yonah, if you are still commenting somewhere. Is this saying that the Babylonian Captivity was made up?

        • Greg G.

          Luke/Acts was not a historical work. It was political….an attempt to clean up and smooth over the underlying intra-Christian conflicts of the very early Church displayed in the Pauline corpus and then in the Jewish-Christian works of James, Hebrews, and Revelation.

          That is interesting. Could you elaborate on that, please? I think I know what you mean but I think Luke was trying to clean up conflicts in the gospels, too.

          I think John used Mark by the way he has the Feeding of the 5000 sequence of event nearly identical, followed by Walking on Water, followed by the visit to Gennasaret. There is the sandwich of Peter denying Jesus while Jesus is on trial but that literary technique doesn’t work well in John because Mark had Jesus being beaten and ordered to prophesy while his prophecy was being fulfilled. It’s obviously fiction in Mark because nobody could have known been in both places to see that they were simultaneous. Mark got the Mocking of Jesus from the story of Carabbas in Philo’s Flaccus, Book VI and John is more similar to Mark than even to Philo on that.

          Matthew and John have many similarities that are not in Mark. See James M. Arlandson, 13. Similarities among John’s Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels. I think John 7:41-42 posed a challenge about Jesus being from Galilee while the scripture indicated the Christ was to come from Bethlehem and be a descendant of David, so Matthew created the genealogy and a nativity story to account for that.

          Luke used all three of those but he mostly rejected John. He rejected Matthew’s genealogy because it left out four names from the OT genealogies, it included one whose offspring were cursed to never prosper, and the last set of fourteen has thirteen people unless you count the Babylonian exile as a person. Luke put together 77 generations with God as #1 and Jesus as #77. Luke didn’t like the nativity with God allowing babies to be slaughtered with Jesus escaping so he reworked it and added some more stories for Jesus’ childhood. Then he follows Mark very closely and drops in some Matthew here and there until almost to chapter 10 where he starts following Deuteronomy while he drops in topical passages from Mark and Matthew. Around chapter 18, he switches back to following Mark’s narrative. He eliminates spit miracles and delayed miracles as Matthew did.

          Finally, Luke completely rejects the Lazarus story. He retains Mary and Martha but moves some John material back to the Woman with the Ointment which John had applied to Mary. But the Rich Man in Hades parable shows Luke’s rejection. Josephus says Annus had five sons who followed him as high priests and John 18:13 says his son-in-law did, too. The rich man in Hades would then be Caiaphas who asked if Lazarus could go back to his father’s house to warn his five brothers and Abraham, standing next to Lazarus, says, “…[N]either will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.

          Luke corrected some of the miracles and the reason for John’s baptism in Mark, responded to John’s hometown challenge in an improved way, and rejected the idea of a resurrection prior to Jesus.

        • Yonah

          In my training, which was standard antique Historical Critical, we were taught to start with the sitz im leben including the language of the text. The goal then was to arrive at the intention of the author toward what audience. So, with respect to the 4 gospels, each have their own peculiar oral tradition preceding the text; each have their own peculiar communities out which that oral tradition came, and then the textual tradition with its successive edits. So, then what you end up with a textual product which carries a peculiar communal theological/political agenda. When the canon was set, some of the agendas were more mainstream than others…some barely got a sufficient vote….but the “it seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit” was high lingo for a decision to set a canon with a larger tent as opposed to a smaller.

          In respect to Luke/Acts, what I was alluding to was Luke’s agenda to smooth over the Pauline/Jerusalem Church conflict. To read Acts, one would think the problem solved. But, to read the earlier Pauline corpus, no way was it solved.

          As for your list of differences you cite between books, that is all secondary (some of the points are more conjecture than others) in the way I was trained. Again, theological and political agenda of the writer is more important than the building blocks of the agenda…and then, one can weigh the building blocks…which is what folks like those at the Jesus Seminar tried to do.

          In the current “political” situation of biblical studies in the mainline pew, Historical Critical is antique. It didn’t sell. It honked the pew off. And so then into vogue came “Narrative Criticism” whereby the teacher just sticks to the story line of the text, and doesn’t pull the curtain back to reveal the wizard. I don’t like it, but then again I’m old. Most people in the pew want the kind of bible-mindset that Bob wants to attack.

          I am simply pointing out that better biblical scholarship was taught in mainline seminaries post war to the 1980s and that strain of scholarship is impervious to Bob’s critique. It don’t care.

          So. By Historical Critical standards, the book of Daniel et al are works written for a particular community under particular stress as a token of reassurance/encouragement not to give up…or more radically, to resist and/or fight.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks, Yonah. In a link that buttle gave to Karl Udy HERE, it is discussed how many of the speeches by Peter reflect Pauline positions while all but one of Paul’s speeches sound Petrine. I had just read that when I saw your reply. Serendipity strikes again!

        • Greg G.

          It’s not nice to call Jews of the 2nd century BCE stupid.

          There are many, many Christians today who think Daniel was written centuries before the second century BC. Are you saying…? Ah, nevermind.

        • Yonah

          There are many many Christians who have not internalized basic Historical Critical biblical scholarship. They have been inculcated with wrong biblical interpretation. It’s that simple. Personally, I believe they would get more out of the Bible if they did study it in a historical critical methodology. In this case, they would gain an understanding of how the Judeo-Christian tradition functions as a coping device under oppression. That, to me, is a more real-world and important lesson than the magic of fortune telling that fundamentalists crave biblical literature to be…so that they can read their own wish fulfillment imaginative scenarios into the narrative.

          I would like to point out also that the book of Daniel is only super popular among fundamentalist Christians as opposed to Jews. Judaism never valued it that highly…it being relegated to be among the bottom third section of the Jewish Bible, the Ketuvim (writings). Jewish writers over the ages argue as to whether Daniel was a prophet…the book is not in the Neviim…the prophet section of the Jewish bible…..so, if one still wants to side with some Jews who are willing to give Daniel some prophetic status, it’s decidedly on a 2nd class or junior level at best. Similar with the book of Revelation…not highly rated in the early Church by many…got through on a squeaker vote. Luther didn’t have much respect for it. So, actually, I think modern scholarship respects these works MORE than did other notable religious leaders in the past…for what can be learned historically from the books…the light that can be shone on their historical context…which helps in study of other works from the era and just a better understanding of early Christianity and early rabbinic Judaism. Mind you, the early Christian documents are the best resources for Jews to study 1st century Judaism….the Talmud is a later work.

          In my training, our professors said that the goal of the historical critical method was to study the Bible “scientifically”…to get at what the text actually says…as far as can be discerned…letting the chips fall where they may. I am still convinced that such a scientific study is more potent and compelling for Judeo-Christian values and mission than the make believe world of fundamentalism….which is sort of a Disney version of the Bible.

        • buttle

          “I am still convinced that such a scientific study is more potent and compelling for Judeo-Christian values and mission than the make believe world of fundamentalism….”

          Dude, i can’t say it more clearly than this so this is the last time: every single christian in the first and second century believed Daniel to be an ancient prophet. Every single author of the new testament believed it, including the authors you refuse to treat as forgers. If there was a Jesus he was one of the many many jews who believed it. These facts are not up for debate. There would literally be no christianity today if not for what you dismiss as a “fundamentalist” reading of Daniel. There’s no way around that, it’s not my fault if that doesn’t square with what you were trained into, or with what you want the Judeo-Christian mission to be.

        • Yonah

          Yes, the figure of Daniel was referred to as “prophet” at various times with various intensities. And yes, the figure of Daniel has always been more popular among Christians than Jews. But, as to Judaism, it is still a fact that Daniel was never a major figure, and was not given the status of neviim in the Hebrew Bible.

          As for your claim that Christianity would not exist without Daniel, I would need to see more explanation on that one to buy into it.

        • Greg G.

          Here is evidence that some Jews took Daniel seriously.

          Daniel 12:2Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

          Jewish War 2.8.14They [Pharisees] say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, – but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment.

          The Pharisees had political influence during that period, according to Antiquities of the Jews 17.2.4.

          Paul seems to get his eschatology from Daniel as seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, and Philippians 3:20-21.

          From 1Th comes”with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet,” and from 1Co comes “at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound” which seems to come from Daniel 7:11a “the noise of the arrogant words that the horn was speaking”.

          From 1Th comes “will descend from heaven” and “will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air” likely come from Daniel 7:13a “I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven”. Php 3:20a “But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there” may be based on that, too.

          From Daniel 12:2, 1Th gets “shall not precede those who have fallen asleep”, “the dead in Christ will rise first”, and “so we will be with the Lord forever”. 1Co gets “the dead will be raised imperishable” and all of 1Co 15:53 and all of Php 3:21 come from that passage in Daniel.

          Daniel 12:2 probably draws from Isaiah 26:19.

          From the gospels:

          Mark 13:13b says “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” smells like Daniel 12:12 “Happy are those who persevere and attain the thousand three hundred thirty-five days.”

          Mark 13:14 “But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be” sounds like Daniel 11:31 “Forces sent by him shall occupy and profane the temple and fortress. They shall abolish the regular burnt offering and set up the abomination that makes desolate” and Daniel 12:11.

          Mark 13:19 nearly quotes from Daniel 21:1.

          Mark 13:26 comes from Daniel 7:13-14.

          Matthew 24 and Luke 21 follow Mark 13 very closely.

        • Yonah

          Taking the book of Daniel seriously would be different than an assertion that 2nd C BCE Jews didn’t understand the metaphoric nature of it. But, yes some did take it seriously (a book with current meaningful impact), and then we would want to look at who. Jewish Christian use of the apocalyptic genre is pretty much a “thing”. Jewish Christian use of Daniel follows the old method. They’re talking about the Romans (and Jews who give into the Romans) by way of talking about Antiochus Epiphanes embedded in the Daniel text.

        • Greg G.

          As Josephus explains it in Jewish War 2.8.2-14, there were three main sects of Judaism. The Essenes and the Pharisees believed the soul was immortal and would be rewarded or punished after death. Josephus reports that that was like what the Greeks believed. Only the Sadducees believed that there was no life after death and God didn’t much care about men doing good or evil.

          The “dead shall live” part may come from Isaiah 26:19 but the post-mortem rewards and punishment seems to come from the Greeks, rather than older Jewish scripture, so Daniel 12:2 would likely be their basis for the eternal rewards/punishments. That is two of the three main sects of early to mid-first century Judaism.

          So the Jewish Christians would merely be adopting what was commonly held by many Jews in Jerusalem at the time.

        • Yonah

          Okay, but how does relate to the questions of dating and claims Bob raises?

        • Greg G.

          You are differentiating the Jerusalem Jews from the Jewish Christians. It seems to me that the Jewish Christians were just another subsect of Jews who happened to be expecting the Messiah. They were reading the scriptures about a hidden mystery, which was a real Suffering Servant hidden in the allegory.

          It seems to me that the Jerusalem Jews had more variations than we are told.

        • Yonah

          I don’t follow what you are saying there. Although, it hasn’t anything to do with Bob’s concern here, my position on Jewish Christians compared to mainstream 1st century Jews is heavily influenced by scholar Robert Eisenman.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. I was just following a rabbit trail.

        • Rudy R

          Just another “no true Scotsman” argument. Strip away the Disney version, myths, parables and religious dogmas, there’s very little science to apply.

        • Yonah

          The “science” in biblical scholarship is in the sense of being an investigator….as would a detective, journalist, historian, archaeologist.

        • Rudy R

          Unfortunately, most Christians don’t apply the rigors of science to the Bible. The scholars that due apply the historian methodology know, like I said, is mostly just mythology, parables, etc and is greatly influenced by pagan rituals and Jewish culture trying to make sense of the world.

        • Yonah

          It is very true that most Christians do not really study at all…either Bible or Christian tradition or current theological discussion. Most folk just want what they want, and that’s the long and the short of it. In my view, what the historical critical method was about was the goal to discern what was really going on at the time when the documents were formed and edited. That’s a good thing for all concerned I should think.

        • Greg G.

          I knew about some of Eisenman’s writings but wanting to see the extent, I just looked at the Wikipedia article about him. He could be doing Dos Equis commercials as the most interesting man in the world.

        • Yonah

          LOL! Yes!

  • crazypreacher52

    Hey, Bob! I just wanted to wish you, and your not so merry crew, a very Merry Christmas on this blessed Christmas Eve 2015…!!! All of your best thoughts,
    and dubious research, haven’t dampened my christian beliefs or spirit one bit!
    If you guys spent half the amount of time and energy you do on reasons to “believe” as you do on reasons to “doubt”, you’d have found the truth and Joy
    of Jesus by now! I just don’t have the faith you do, to believe that millions of people all over the world, have had their lives supernaturally changed for the
    better, over thousands of years, by accepting and following Jesus!

    • RichardSRussell

      Like you, I don’t have faith that millions of people have had their lives supernaturally changed. In fact, I try to avoid faith as a decision-making technique in any matter whatsoever. Except when it comes to the Packers, of course.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        w/the Packers, that’s *yearning*…not faith 😉

    • Greg G.

      Merry Christmas to you!

      If you guys spent half the amount of time and energy you do on reasons to “believe” as you do on reasons to “doubt”, you’d have found the truth and Joy of Jesus by now!

      So, you’re telling us that we should just pull the wool over our own eyes and we’ll be better off for it. It sounds like you are trying to seduce us to the Dark Side of the Force.

      • Greg

        watch out, crazypreacher52, the force is strong with this one.

    • MNb

      Enjoy yourself.

      • Greg

        if he does, he’ll have to go to confession. (sounds like a trap, crazypreacher52, please be careful)

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      You can be as deluded as you like, in your personal life.

      Try pushing it into SECULAR law, as your side is wont to do, and we get riled up.

      I’d like evidence before I waste time believing. What have you got?

      Happy Holidays!

    • Mick

      I know you don’t mean it.

    • Nope, I don’t have enough faith to believe all that hokum either. Read what you put in that final sentence, man. It’s the opposite of
      what you think.

    • Philmonomer

      Hey, Bob! I just wanted to wish you, and your not so merry crew,

      Huh? Most Christians I’ve met online this year have been distinctly “not merry.” It’s been a tough year for them, with the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, and the many (supposed) “attacks on religious freedom.” The victim mentality is alive and strong (and basically merry-free).

      I just don’t have the faith you do, to believe that millions of people all over the world, have had their lives supernaturally changed for the
      better, over thousands of years, by accepting and following Jesus!

      But I suspect that you do have faith that millions of people all over the world, have NOT had their lives supernaturally changed for the better, for over a thousand years, by accepting the 5 pillars of Islam.

      • Greg G.

        A person dies of starvation about every four seconds. Is that what he means by supernaturally changed?

        • Greg

          No, he means the people who are still enslaved by this worlds snares but have experienced, by becoming spiritual, a type of freedom from the chains of addiction and sin. You should try it sometime – warning – -results are not guaranteed.

        • Greg G.

          Those who do those spiritual based programs can pretty much guarantee 100% success because if it fails, they blame the patient, not the Lord. But when everyone who starts the program is accounted for, the spiritual based cures don’t do any better than other programs.

        • Greg

          Not true, the atheist blames the lord, the theist blames himself for not having enough faith – Luke doesn’t blame yoda when he fails to lift the ship out of the bog – he blames his own lack of discipline in applying the techniques the master has taught him -you know, kinda like you, the student and MNb, the teacher.

        • Greg G.

          Baloney. The spiritual based programs require a “higher power”, which gets all the credit when it works, but the blame is laid at the feet of the person when it fails. It’s like prayer, God gets the credit if you pray for something that was going to happen anyway but if it doesn’t happen, it’s because of lack of faith.

          Atheists don’t blame the lord for anything. It is believers that blame him for Ye Olde Flood and the destruction of Sodom when all it would have taken to save the city was the miracles that were performed in Capernaum.

        • adam

          “Not true, the atheist blames the lord”

          No we dont blame IMAGINARY characters in a book for anyting

          “the theist blames himself for not having enough faith -”

          Yes, not enough ‘faith’ in an IMAGINARY character in a book.

        • Pofarmer

          “Not true, the atheist blames the lord”

          You’ve been here for how long, and you still don’t have the foggiest notions………….

        • Greg

          the atheist uses the blame game to refute the existence of God – if only you would clear the fog in your nog and see that the blame lays at your doorstep…

        • Dys

          And realize that the only way you get to imagining a perfect god is if you subjectively judge him to be so.

          If you read the bible, and come away thinking the God described in it is a perfect being, then the blame most certainly lies at your doorstep. It’s the catch-22 that the theist constantly falls prey to – they want to chastise the atheist for judging God, while giving themselves a free pass for doing the exact same thing.

          Oh, and you’re wrong Greg – the atheist doesn’t use the blame game to disprove God. The problem of evil doesn’t disprove God, but it throws a monkey wrench into the unsubstantiated assertions about his supposed character. It’s basically ceding the existence of a God for the sake of argument in order to demonstrate the problem of asserting that the God is perfect. Which you can really only pretend to escape by resorting to the tired and weak cliche of Mysterious Ways.

        • Greg

          “If you read the bible, and come away thinking the God described in it is a perfect being, then the blame most certainly lies at your doorstep.”

          Dys, you have it wrong, think of it this way, the bible is the moon, God is the face we “think” we see.

        • adam

          “God is the face we “IMAGINE” we see.”
          ftfy

        • Dys

          Greg, the only way you get a perfect God out of the bible is when you assume that to be the case before you read the first word.

          You take an a priori assumption, and cherry-pick and throw to Mysterious Ways to get around the uncomfortable parts instead of accepting the far more likely conclusion – it’s a book written by men, who described the god they imagined.

        • Good analogy. There’s no actual face on the moon. It’s just pareidolia. And it works that way with the imagined god in the Bible.

          .

        • Kodie

          You dumbass, the atheist draws a more realistic portrait of your god, while you glorify an absolute fictional character, while ignoring great portions of deeds attributed to that character. In reality, we’re all alone down here, together, alone, with each other, for everything. Atheists actually take responsibility and make progress, while theists hope and pray and preach that you’re getting good results from your lord. There IS NO LORD. Your good results come from other people, statistics, and no god. There is no juice from the bible to squeeze. It’s you who can’t live in reality and take any responsibility. Why are you blaming atheists, you have the capacity to learn nothing, and all you talk about is nothing. Useless fucking dumbass you are.

        • Kodie

          Can you elaborate on how this blame works? You have insinuated that you are a former addict a few times, and seem to assume atheists are all addicts who cause their own problems/all the world’s problems.

          Addiction is not cured by god. It’s a serious condition that can overtake your life, but it is not caused by turning away from god, nor cured by a belief in god.

          Belief in god causes more problems than it can solve, and belief in god doesn’t mean there is a god. You can believe there is a god without there being a god. Obviously.

        • Greg

          “You have insinuated that you are a former addict a few times, and seem to assume atheists are all addicts who cause their own problems/all the world’s problems.”

          Let’s take this slow – – I’m not an addict, and I do not believe atheists are addicts either – (my knowledge of the 12 step program and grief type programs comes from my dedicated walk with my wounded partner, remember in the Catholic faith, you become one with your spouse.)

          “Belief in god causes more problems than it can solve, and belief in god doesn’t mean there is a god.”

          just as you and Pofarmer believe faith is created through an emotional reaction to life, I believe that the discovery of faith is sometimes shrouded in the fog of an emotional time but it is the intellect that discerns the only real solution to a human being’s problem is faith in God. Kodie, it is the belief in all the material that causes problems, not the belief in the spiritual, Material leads to menial, animal, base instincts – spritiual provides a framework to become less dependent on the physical, and allows you a method to rise above pettiness, and allows you to connect with humans on a more loving level.

          “Addiction is not cured by god. It’s a serious condition that can overtake your life, but it is not caused by turning away from god, nor cured by a belief in god.”

          I argue that the balm we need to heal this world is found with a belief in god for the reasons I have given above.

        • I’m sure that no evidence will change your conclusion. Sad.

        • MNb

          That blog I linked to just above has an article that might interest you personally.

          http://www.relationshipwithreason.com/articles/miscellaneous/122-14-ways-to-make-money-in-the-secular-movement

        • I’d not seen that article. Thanks.

        • MNb

          “it is the belief in all the material that causes problems”
          Like what?

          “Material leads to menial, animal, base instincts.”

          http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/26-appeal-to-consequences

          Not that you will learn anything from this link. And given your utter stupidity I vastly prefer those menial, animal, base instincts, so even on your own terms your argument fails. As always. What you have underneath your skull is a very sorry excuse for intellect indeed.

          “allows you to connect with humans on a more loving level.”
          Bullshitty arrogance, violating Mattheus 7:1.

          “I argue that the balm we need to heal this world”
          And this bullshit is not even catholic. Catholicism teaches (concept of sin, remember?) that this world cannot be healed and that we must put our hope on the next one.
          BobS, could you ban this guy? He’s not even capable of representing correctly what he’s supposed to believe according to his very own beloved church. I’m going to miss him like a sore on my finger.

        • Greg

          “I argue that the balm we need to heal this world”
          And this bullshit is not even catholic”

          “He’s not even capable of representing correctly what he’s supposed to believe according to his very own beloved church.”

          Living in the moment requires also that we attempt to improve the world and humanity that surrounds us – living spiritually requires loving generously our neighbor and in a self sacrificing manner, which is in a sense walking the way of the cross – you need another cup of java – oh, and the Balm reference was from the Old testatement which was also used in a hym as a reference Christ’s blood-the balm of Gilead.

          Also, your calculation is wrong – here’s how – you ascribe a value of “1” to each one of a baseball players hits, but you ascribe a value of “zero” to each one of the miricales of the Bible – if you’re gonna mess up properly evaluating events in history, then I recommend you give yourself a zero.

        • Kodie

          Greg, it’s just obvious that you don’t live in reality. You’re also bad at generosity and humility. Go fuck yourself, actually.

        • Greg G.

          The Catholic Church recognizes only 56 miracles at Lourdes over several years. It receives millions of visitors per year. The rate of getting a miracle is as good as your chance of getting more problems from an accident traveling to the site. Your chance of catching a cold from air travel is greater than receiving a miracle.

          The Church had to step in to verify miracles because so many people were claiming cures when they obviously didn’t. People get ill and they get better. Religious people want to call it a miracle when their headache goes away. Even the Church’s standard for miracles at Lourdes doesn’t rule out spontaneous remission.

        • adam

          “living spiritually requires loving generously our neighbor and in a self sacrificing manner,”

          So how does work in conjuction with LYING and being DECEPTIVE?

        • MNb

          Ascribing any value higher than zero to each one of the miracles of the Bible without showing on what that value is based only results in a circular argument, stupid.
          God – Bible – miracles – God.
          Plus you’re too stupid to understand that assigning a value is not part of the calculation itself. The calculation is 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + …. and no matter what that remains 0. My calculation is correct; you need to show that the value of Biblical miracles is higher than 0. You typically didn’t even try. Not that I expected you to do so. You’re too stupid to even understand that you should.

          “I recommend you give yourself a zero.”
          Yawn. We already know since long that every single recommendation coming from you safely can be dismissed without any further do. Because you’re stupid.
          I’d like you to wish some improved cognitive skills for 2016, but already know that that wish is vain.

        • Greg

          Sorry, you stepped in it – in your admission of a miracle, you also ackowldege the benefit of the miracle: ie: the parting of the red sea benefited all hebrew slaves – and if there is a benefit, who the heck set you up to say the value of the benefit is zero – new year’s resolution for you – get real.

        • MNb

          Where did I admit any miracle? Giving it a value of 0 means exactly rejecting it, stupid. And if miracles don’t happen there is no benefit coming from miracles either (but there very well may be benefit coming from self-delusion; I write this explicitely because you’re stupid enough to conflate the two). So the value of miracles is and remains zero, despite your piss-poor attempt to show some via strawmanning me (which also violates your own 9th Commandment and I do not remembering stupidity being an excuse).
          Getting real a la Greg means lowering IQ with a couple of dozen points.

        • Kodie

          Greg, you’re really just offensively stupid. Anyone can make up a story with a happy ending. Did it really happen? Only an idiot like you believes “miracles” are real. Please take your shit off this blog.

        • adam

          “my knowledge of the 12 step program and grief type programs comes from
          my dedicated walk with my wounded partner, remember in the Catholic
          faith, you become one with your spouse.)”

          Then you understand what a DISMAL failure the 12 step program has been. And how it has been a propaganda program. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/the-surprising-failures-of-12-steps/284616/

        • Greg

          No, the secret of the 12 Step Program is the message that an alcholic is never cured of the disease, “one day at a time” – your twisting of this concept into the idea that the program is a failure would make Chubby Checkers blush.

        • adam
        • Pofarmer

          “spritiual provides a framework to become less dependent on the
          physical, and allows you a method to rise above pettiness, and allows
          you to connect with humans on a more loving level.”

          Whatever. Then why the inquisitions? Why the Genocides, why the killings of intellectuals-In the name of God? It all sounds so nice, but it’s in the operations of it that the bullshit becomes evident.

          “it is the belief in all the material that causes problems, Material leads to menial, animal, base instincts”

          This is where your stupidity really shines through. At least attempt to rise above your aquired prejudices. Ever heard of Secular Humanism, for starters?

        • Greg

          “Secular humanism posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a god. It does not, however, assume that humans are either inherently evil or innately good, nor does it present humans as being superior to nature.”

          Regardless, worshipping oneself leads to the atrocities you mention – many equate that worship to acting like an animal. it is when people place their neighbor in the first position and themselve in the second that you AVOID those atrocities – but, you tell me, which comes more naturally to people? right, acting like an animal – it is when you tap into a type of spiritual attitude that you overcome those animal urges of yours.

        • adam

          “Regardless, worshipping oneself leads to the atrocities you mention – many equate that worship to acting like an animal. ”

          Yes, we are in agreement here:

        • Greg

          Yeaah!

        • adam

          But of course the SOURCE of this EVIL is:

        • Pofarmer

          How many different types ways can you miss the point?

        • Greg

          well, if our basic nature is for self survival – how does the secular humanist describe the event of a human rejecting that basic instinct, if you will, to choosing a more noble, more loving, more self sacrificing action?

        • Pofarmer

          Never heard or empathy? it’s not just in humans.

        • Greg

          but where does the motivation come from for the human to choose empathy? the choice is made through intellect but with no personal reward, no carrot at the end of the stick, if you will, why choose to deprive one’s self for the benefit of another- I say it’s the spirit- what say you farmer?

        • Pofarmer

          It’s evolution and heredity, along with some pressure from society. Patricia Churchland writes about it extensively.

        • Greg

          I’ll say this – noone should ever fault you for building your house on sand – every one of your beliefs appears to be well supported. Churchland sounds familiar – I’ll look into this. Thanks.

        • Greg

          – thank you, I’ve taken some time to read portions of her book – BRAINTRUST:
          WHAT NEUROSCIENCE TELLS US ABOUT MORALITY – I found a few weknesses in her thesis – but I want to start with my preliminary thougts about her before I began reading her book -her area of expertise is “Neuroscience” and I have personal knowledge of the experts in this area, primarily because of how they have helped my wife (and me) through their diagnosis and treatment of her MS – Po, you need to know there’s a lot of throwing mud against the wall to see if it sticks type speculation and trial and error going on in the area of neuroscience – she does pose very extensive and intelligent theories about how the secular arrives at morality, as you said. But, don’t you feel a little uncomfortable with her use of the word “imagination” in her theory – she says: “. Conscience,
          from this perspective, is the feltwork of powerful intuitions about what is proper and right, anchored by attachments and the urge for social life, and tuned to social practices that are learned by imitation, trial and error, and imagination”. I’m sure that word has been roundly mocked on this blog, yet there it is in her theory.

        • Pofarmer

          So, imagination isn’t a part of consciousness?

        • Greg

          first, the weakness in Neurosience – take this quote on “theroetical reductionism” – “We believe, along with most philosophers, that Nagel is right to reject theoretical reductionism, because the sciences have not progressed in a way consistent with it. We have not witnessed the reduction of psychology to biology, biology to chemistry, and chemistry to physics, but rather the proliferation of fields like neuroscience and evolutionary biology that explain psychological and biological phenomena in terms unrecognizable by physics.”

        • Pofarmer

          And?

          “Nagel here aligns himself, as best we can tell, with the majority view among both philosophers and practicing scientists. Just to take one obvious example, very little of the actual work in biology inspired by Darwin depends on reductive materialism of this sort; evolutionary explanations do not typically appeal to Newton’s laws or general relativity. Given this general consensus (the rhetoric of some popular science writing by Weinberg and others aside), it is puzzling that Nagel thinks he needs to bother attacking theoretical reductionism.”

          http://www.thenation.com/article/do-you-only-have-brain-thomas-nagel/

          “Nagel reveals that his book “is just the opinion of a layman who reads widely in the literature that explains contemporary science to the nonspecialist.” And a recurring objection to what he learned from his layman’s reading of popular science writing is that much science “flies in the face of common sense,” that it is inconsistent with “evident facts about ourselves, that it “require[s] us to deny the obvious,” and so on.”

          There is a response to this kind of challenge, one that is widely embraced by philosophical naturalists (though, again, not mentioned by Nagel). This response starts by noting that we determine what is “rational” or “justified” simply by appealing to the most successful forms of inquiry into the world that human beings have developed. Paradigmatic examples of those successful forms of inquiry are, of course, physics, chemistry and biology. They are successful precisely in the way that Aristotelian science was not: they enable us to navigate the world around us, to predict its happenings and control some of them. To confuse one’s intuitive confidence in the logical and epistemic norms that make these sciences possible with some kind of a priori access to the “rational order of the world,” as Nagel puts it, is to forget whence that confidence derives—namely, the very success of these sciences. For philosophical naturalists, the charge of circularity is empty, akin to suggesting that the need for a usable table to have legs requires some justification beyond the fact that the legs actually do a necessary job.

        • MNb

          How is that a weakness? Indeed, if you define reductionism that way (there is another definition), no, neuroscience cannot be reduced to physics. So what? Only few people still advocate that idea. The actual demand is that neuroscience has to be consistent with physics. That’s totally the case.
          By no means this imaginary weakness makes room for dualism, not even a la Nagel.
          Imagination only deserves to be mocked when it has lost every connection with our natural reality. It’s not our fault that that’s always the case with you.
          You can trust me that elite scientists have lots of imagination – the kind that is firmly rooted in our natural reality.

        • Greg

          but Churchland suggests that we use this imagination to emote scenarios to help us – – “Cleverproblem solving, with an eye to the future well-being of me-and-mine, is part
          of the expanded frontal brain’s social jobs. Social problem-solving, including policy-making, is probably an instance of problem-solving more generally, and draws upon the capacity, prodigious in humans, to envision consequences of a planned action.”

          first, this is what I would call “inspiration”. Second, Churchland’s theory about how we have evolved to know that helping a large group of people also helps ourselves appears to fail with the ideals of Christianity which promote that during our lifetime we should strive to give the coat off our back to our enemies!
          bible quote:
          “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. [33] And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. [34] And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. [35] But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”

        • Greg G.

          The Bible quote is similar to writings from other religions and philosophies, too. The ethic of reciprocity came from an evolved sense of fairness. It is seen in apes, monkeys, and dogs. You don’t need a Bible to understand it. The Bible writers got it from other writers who got it from common knowledge.

        • MNb

          And how exactly is that a weakness?
          It’s just something you don’t like ‘cuz god.

        • Greg

          the use of imagination? it’s just so, how do I say it, UNSCIENTIFIC! I can hear BobS yelling “Runaway, Runaway!

        • Kodie

          Hey dopey, after all this time, you’ve learned nothing. If not for imagination, how do you think human progress could have taken place? A lot of wrong turns in the prospect of finding a right one, to think of what is not, and make it be. Your problem is you follow the wrong turns and insist we follow you there. You make claims and you even pretend we’re taking you seriously. It’s pathetic how much drooling you do, and how you’ve literally learned nothing since your dirty ass squatted here.

        • MNb

          That only shows you’re a stupid liar.

          http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20131127-secret-to-thinking-like-a-genius

          As you already shown that you lack the imagination to understand even remotely what Einstein thought and instead prefer to mold him into your silly prejudices I have zero doubt that you also lack the imagination to understand the metaphor in

          “try to understand Mother Nature’s mind and her sense of beauty to see how the laws of physics could be more beautiful.”
          Of course that’s because on a more elementary level you totally are not capable of seeing the beauty of science.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t know what you expect to accomplish in this conversation with Bible quotes.

        • Greg

          a flaw in Churchland’s theory – the morals of the secular are developed from understanding that helping large groups of people, help the individual -the bible quote shows a situation where Jesus says act in a way that does not profit the individual in any way.

        • Kodie

          The flaw in your religion is that you wouldn’t be “selfless” if you didn’t think it would get you into heaven. In secular terms, that’s called greed.

        • Pofarmer

          Bible quotes aren’t helpful here.

        • Greg

          I believe Churchland’s theory is that morality emerges as man evolves as a social being. Morality is not objective but subjecive – am I right?
          Also, have you read any of the works of Frans de Waal, author of Our Inner Ape and The Age of Empathy?

        • Pofarmer

          Churchlands theory is that morality begins evolving much further back than that, just as consciousness does.

          I think I’ve only read snippets of Frans de Waal.

        • Greg

          it is a fascinating read, and she is very objective in her analysis – I want to examine more closely her sources. Frans de Waal evidently is her predecessor in this field.and she builds from some of his theories.

        • Pofarmer

          The book is heavily footnoted. She relies on many sources.

        • Greg

          “Churchlands theory is that morality begins evolving much further back than that, just as consciousness does.”

          Po, the areas she is tackling here are Moral Philosophy and Evolution – when you read her, were you convinced that she grasped these subjects completely? I am not seeing how she is an expert in these areas at all.

        • Pofarmer

          She’s pretty much the foremost expert in the field, to my knowledge.

        • Greg

          it’s just that to read her, I have to learn new stuff…

        • Greg G.

          Nothing wrong with learning new stuff.

        • Greg

          to be honest, it’s gonna take a while and a lot of reading before I will feel comfortable debating Moral Philosophy or Evolution -but it seems to go to the core of my beliefs so I accept this endeavor – and, I will admit you have had more exposure to the arguments in this area than I have –

        • Pofarmer

          Yep. Lot’s of it.

        • Greg G.

          If the Moral Philosophers didn’t have a grasp of the science of how morality in our species developed, then they haven’t grasped their own subject completely.

        • Greg

          dude, you’re a compute wiz, I’m more of an expert in Moral Philosophy than you are.

        • Greg G.

          Philosophy and mathematics can apply to different universes. They need scientific applications to be sure they apply to the universe we live in.

        • Greg

          to be sure, and it does seem more times you are right than you are wrong.

        • Greg G.

          Geez, when will people stop reminding me of that one time when I thought I was wrong?

        • Greg

          and “they” refute the existence of a perfect being.

        • Greg G.

          It depends on what you mean by “objective” and “subjective”. Natural selection can sort out behaviors that are objectively better for reproductive success but that doesn’t mean that we would call it objectively moral when we think of morality as a positive act for cohesion of the group. Male lions kill the young of their rivals so that the females can start reproducing their own young in hopes that some number of litters can grow up before the male is defeated by another rival. On the other hand, cooperating with a neighbor can be beneficial, too. Both behaviors are objectively beneficial for passing on genes but it is equivocation of the meaning of “objective” to say that relates to right and wrong morality. We just call things that are beneficial to social interactions “moral” as opposed to selfish.

        • John Jones

          Greg,
          Churchland is not that bright nor profound.
          I have met her many times.
          Secular Humanist confuse charity with being nice,
          but Christ ask us to treat others better than we treat ourselves.

        • Susan

          Greg,
          Churchland is not that bright nor profound.
          I have met her many times.

          Well, that settles it then. You don’t have to address her work. You can just tell Greg that you met her and that you, John Jones, have declared her not bright or profound.

          Secular Humanist confuse charity with being nice.

          What does that have to do with Churchland’s work?

          Christ ask us to treat others better than we treat ourselves

          There are too many problems with that sentence to count right now.

          One thing at a time. It has nothing to do with Churchland’s work.

        • John Jones

          She is neither.
          Have you read her book(s) I have.
          Have you had conversations with her, I have.

          If you think social mores can bring you to heroic charity you are welcome to your belief, but there is no proof in any study for it, if you can find one, please let me know.

          If you are a secular humanist, which it appears from your remarks you may well be, you do not understand Christ, not wholly out of ignorance, but out of closing your soul to the love of Jesus, though He will give it to you if only you would ask for His love.

        • Susan

          Have you read her book(s) I have.

          Then link to the problems you have with her work.

          Have you had conversations with her, I have.

          Then link to the problems you have with her work.

          If you think social mores can bring you to heroic charity

          I’ve never put anything quite that way. It’s meaningless so far.

          If you are a secular humanist, which it appears from your remarks you might be

          I said your sentence was a disaster but let’s focus.

          Address Churchland’s work.

        • John Jones

          A) What does Churchland mean by:

          Brain Based Values – that certain circuits in the brain respond in certain ways when we live our the social mores of our society. Thus social mores allow us to live in social groups and since few humans can live on their own, such
          cooperation with the group ensures a happier life and a more productive life and increases the chances that your
          offspring will prosper.

          I wish someone would tell that to the Wall Street Hyenas
          who are quite capable and happy to destroy the Middle Class in order that they can add tens of millions to their bank accounts. Also to the Dictators who will destroy any and all who stand in their way. I guess those two groups
          just don’t believe in the evolution of cooperation – which
          is rather odd given they rule the world – while the rest of
          us cower before them and work, mainly to support their
          undending greed for money and power. I guess they
          just never got the evolutionary memo that all right thinking humans got when we first came down out of the trees.

          B) What of caring. Yes, drugs that may make you feel
          happier may be released when you care for kin and when kin cares for you. But wait, why should these drugs make you happy and not sad, is there something about these
          drugs and only these drugs that make you happy ? Have
          we no freedom, no choice over what makes us happy ?
          If that is the case then why do children kill their loving parents for money, or fail to give grandma her daily medicine so they can get the insurance money sooner…
          they must be mis-wired to do such things. Why do
          ISIS suicide bombers have no qualms about blowing up
          schoolchildren…they too must be mis-wired. Rather odd, don’t you think that evolution placed all these Suicide bombers in one part of the Middle East at the same time –
          what are the odd of that happening. Oh, well you see
          evil people brainwashed them into becoming suicide bombers, but wait, I thought their desire to care and be cared for was built into them by evolution, how is it that
          evil people can over-ride evolution…not to mention how
          did these people become evil in the first place ?
          Does Churchland know, not when I last asked her, do you know Susan ?

          Cooperating and Trusting. The most successful candidates for High Office are the best at faking sincere concern for your needs. Look at Obama, talks the talk, says he cares about the poor and then take two week vacations in Hawaii, how many homeless has he invited to sleep over
          in the White House ?

          Look at how the ruthlessness of Silicon Vally has taken over business world. Produce or Die ! There is no long
          term loyalty to workers. The US of A sent young people who made the mistake of joining the Armed Forces in order
          to save money for college/trade school to Iraq for up to
          five separate deployments while most kids their age went to college and partied, and partied and partied. No one
          of power in the US of A raised a ruckus as to why a small
          segment of America had to go back again and again
          while others did nothing.

          We have our brains.
          We have out thoughts.
          We have our emotions.
          We have actions that harm/help or are indifferent to others.

          The vast majority of people look out for themselves and
          if you and your actions are judged dangerous to them they
          avoid you, or strike out at you.

          Very, very few people will ever put your needs ahead of
          their wants, and even fewer will ever put your needs
          ahead of their needs.

          All the neurobiology in the world and all that Pat Churchland says and writes will not change that simple
          and cruel fact.

          About 0.5 % of the world is related to Genghis Khan.
          That did not happen by sheer accident and it did not
          happen because Genghis was a really nice guy.

          Simple question: Do you believe in the complete Freedom of the Will or not ? By that I don’t mean you can will your self to jump over the moon, or suddenly give a complete account of the graviton, just that you are free to will
          whatever you wish – kindness/playfulness/stealing –
          compassion or icy coldness toward someone you once
          swore you would love forever.

          Neurobiology cannot allow such freedom, we are limited
          by our neural pathways, and so we largely act the way
          we do because of the society and world we grew up in.

        • Susan
        • Myna Alexanderson

          If you receive a coherent, detailed rebuttal to Churchland’s work, it will be one of those miracles one hears tell about.

          Trinity Jones wrote: “Churchland is not that bright nor profound.”

          Ever notice how men are intelligent and women are but bright? But for a woman, “not that bright,” Churchland certainly has impressive credentials, regardless of how one stands on her position.

        • Susan

          If you receive a coherent, detailed and scholarly rebuttal to Churchland’s work, it will be one of those miracles one hears tell about.

          Agreed. He’s offered this:

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/dating_the_gospels_harder_than_you_might_think_2_of_2/#comment-2626456198

        • Myna Alexanderson

          Yes, exactly. The offering was reactive as expected. I’m always willing to be surprised, but thus far it hasn’t happened. I’d reply directly to the source of said reaction, but am still sweeping the debris out of my head from the first incarnation.

        • Pofarmer

          Why do I have a feeling “not that bright nor profound” means “doesn’t agree with John Jones theological bullsnit?

        • Greg G.

          but Christ ask us to treat others better than we treat ourselves.

          Unless they are slaves, then it’s OK to beat them. Or moneychangers, or scribes, or Pharisees, or people who didn’t want to listen to the disciples, etc… Of course he was nice to tax collectors as long as they paid for the lunch.

        • John Jones

          Where does Christ say that ?

        • Greg G.

          Luke 12:40-48 where he uses beating slaves as an example of good practice. The rest are examples of Jesus in action in the gospels.

          John 2:14-16 is an example of Jesus taking a whip to moneychangers. Think about that. People who have saved to make a trip to Jerusalem for Passover come from all over the Diaspora regions. It is impractical for them to carry a lamb or a dove all that way. They need the local currency to purchase those things.

          Matthew 23 is an example of Jesus criticizing the scribes and Pharisees. In Matthew 23:5, he criticizes them for following Numbers 15:38, for what, too much gusto?

          Mark 6:11 is an example of Jesus issuing a threat to those who don’t listen to the disciples.

          Luke 19:1-10 is an example of Jesus lodging with Zacchaeus, the tax collector. Luke 5:30-32 has Jesus admitting to eating with tax collectors.

          Are you one of those Christians who treat the Bible like an End User License Agreement where you scroll to the bottom and click “I Agree”? These examples should have come to mind for anybody who reads the gospels.

        • John Jones

          G,

          If the parable is referring to God, in Luke 12
          who are you to complain if you knew what God
          wanted you to do and you purposively did not do it ?
          If by natural light you still did evil, who are you to complain if you are duly punished.
          Ignored the effects of Gravity and you will find painful reminders that you cannot do whatever you so wish in the word and not suffer the consequences.

          In terms of John, let them exchange the money outside
          the Temple area and let them charge fair rates of exchange. Again, if you do wrong, why do you complain if it take physical measures to wake you up to the dangers you face for eternity if you will not change your ways ?

          In terms of Matthew 23, putting on a show for God is not
          necessary, God knows your heart/soul/mind/will.

          In terms of Mark 6:11, God, in Jesus’ eyes, has sent Him, to teach the Apostles and they to teach the world. If you
          do not want to follow God’s will – what shall become of
          you ?

          Is Jesus only to meet/eat with those who have little sin in their lives, does not the Shepherd seek out all the sheep in the flock ? So Jesus eats with the Tax Collectors.

          If you are lighting matches next to gasoline, I will knock the unlit matches from your hand and tell you to wise up.
          In Basic Training when the recruits are on the firing range
          if a recruit points a loaded rifle at another soldier(s) the
          Drill Sgt will seize the gun or knock it down away from
          pointing at the other soldiers. You act if someone is doing wrong all you can do is stand by and watch what is happening, but if someone is in danger of losing their soul
          how does it help them if you do nothing to help them.
          I will take hold, quite forcibly of a stranger if they are about
          to step out in traffic and get run over.

          Jesus warns the Pharisees what their behaviour will lead to in the afterlife.

          The question of following the “Word of God” without questions is one for Fundamentalist of the most strict kind.
          How they know they fully understand what the Word of
          God is saying and how literal they should be is a question they have to answer.

        • Greg G.

          Are you agreeing with me or disagreeing with me? Your claim was “Christ ask us to treat others better than we treat ourselves.” I gave examples where this was not true. You make excuses for Jesus saying and doing the things but it proves my point.

          How can I know what God wants? Would a god try to communicate through something as absurd as the Bible? Is that the best that an omnipotence can do? The point is that Jesus condones beating slaves and not treating them better than yourself. Take off your godgoggles and recognize that. Then admit it to yourself, then be an adult and admit you were wrong to argue and deflect against that point.

          The gospels are fiction. Mark put the Temple Tantrum in a sandwich where Jesus got mad at a tree, then he got mad at the temple, later, the tree was discovered to be withered so the fourth part of the syllogism would remind the readers of the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. Mark got the idea of the whole Temple Tantrum from such verses as Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. This was a pivotal moment in Mark’s story.

          John exaggerated the Temple Tantrum but moved it to two years earlier and it was not a pivotal incident. John omitted Mark’s literary device of the syllogism.

          Try reading the gospels without your godgoggles so you can notice these problems in the story.

        • Greg G.

          Mammals help their young to survive. Some mammals are social and extending similar care to members of the society is beneficial when the others extend care back.

          As societies grow larger, the extensions grow more numerous.

          As humans societies became cities, people had to work with people they did not actually know. You can’t fight everybody but you can trade with them if you don’t fight with them. You may have to work with them against common enemies.

          As cities united to become nations, societies had to become more inclusive. Now it is reaching the point where we need to do this with the whole world because world war isn’t good for anyone.

        • MNb
        • Greg

          thank you for the links, MNb – there’s something you guys are missing and I’m going to find it. I want to make sure I have all the facts before I post my comment – maybe I can set a good example for you.

        • MNb

          Now that would be a miracle, but not necessarily a supernatural one. More like Philadelphia winning the NBA finals this season.
          Now before you get too worked up: Evolution Theory explains the “how come” (and isn’t missing anything), not the “why should we”. The latter is not science but philosophy. Guess what? Secular philosophers have begun answering the “why should we” at least 200 years ago. God is still not necessary.

        • Kodie

          You always say this before you go away for a while, and reset when you come back.

        • Kodie

          You worship yourself and act like an animal. Don’t condemn the rest of us, look at your own damn self. The problem with you and your religion is that you don’t look at yourself, and you don’t take responsibility. You’re arrogant and self-centered.

        • Pofarmer

          Blame for what?

        • Greg G.

          No, this atheist uses the Problem of Suffering to refute the existence of a benevolent omnipotence. It doesn’t work against a malevolent god or an impotent god. But why call malevolence or impotence a god?

        • MNb

          And the article I linked to underneath has a poem that you might like.

          http://www.relationshipwithreason.com/articles/poetry/117-the-benevolent-almighty-advisor

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. That was a good start for the last day of the year.

        • adam

          “But why call malevolence or impotence a god?”

          Because he are a malevolent or impotent person.

        • Greg

          I’ll tell you why, the same reason we should not call anyone those names – how can we take the speck out of our neighbor’s eye when you got a freaking plank in your own.

        • adam

          speck?

        • Greg G.

          Huh? I just said that the Problem of Suffering doesn’t disprove the existence of a malevolent god or an impotent one. What does that have to do with calling anyone names. Try spitting out your gum before you try to read if you have trouble doing two things at once. The reason the Problem of Suffering doesn’t work on a malevolent god is that the existence of suffering is consistent with a malevolent god. It has nothing to do with calling names.

          The existence of suffering is only a problem for a type of god that is both capable of preventing suffering (which is completely consistent with omnipotence) and caring enough to prevent unnecessary suffering (which falls under benevolence). At least one of those adjectives does not apply.

          An omnipotent god could end any and every type of suffering and still get the same results as easily as not doing it, yet there is still suffering. God is not benevolent, he is not omnipotent, he is both not benevolent and not omnipotent, or he doesn’t exist.

        • Greg

          you were calling God a name and I was defending him. Seriously, you are judging God and I was making the connection that if it is wrong to do it about people (why? because we don’t know all the facts) then it is wrong when you do it about God – and you do it nonstop.

        • Kodie

          God is a fictional character, Greg. People like you think he’s real and needs a sub-intellectual turd like you to speak on his behalf… where is he, why can’t he do it? Why do you think you’re qualified? When did you think he asked you to help him? If I were god, I’d send people like you to hell first, you make god sound like an incompetent, irrational asshole, and why would he want that kind of impression on others?

          Seriously, you are the best argument against Christianity that anyone could be, but your arrogance won’t admit it, and you keep at it because you’re scared of your imaginary friend, and you think you’re doing a great job.

          I think you should fuck off now.

        • Greg G.

          What name? If you judge God to be good, you are judging him.

          Unnecessary suffering exists. If you believe God exists, then you implicitly believe God allows unnecessary suffering. It is Christians who believe that God is either impotent, malevolent, or negligent and the use of adjectives like “omnipotent” and “benevolent” is dishonest lipservice.

        • Kodie

          So your problem is that you can’t recognize the freaking huge plank in your eye because you’re all plank. I don’t know anyone more self-centered and judgmental of others as you are.

        • the atheist uses the blame game

          You’re confused, once again. The atheist says, “For the umpteenth time, where the fuck is the evidence for this god of yours?!”

          And then Greg says that the demand for evidence is the atheists’ fault. Perhaps you can imagine why we’re frustrated.

        • Dys

          I’ve almost given up on Greg’s comprehension skills ever significantly improving. It’s to be a never-ending game of systemic correction with him, I fear.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Nope – the atheist says there is nobody to blame except, if the results come from humans themselves, but human beings.
          Plus I never blame pupils. It’s contraproductive. Better to explain them why school matters and what they can do to succeed.
          Ah well, christianity based pedagogy is a failure, exactly because christianity is about sin, guilt, shame, regret and blame. As you openly have admitted you only have use for reward in afterlife. Schools are about earthly rewards though – namely a diploma and in my specific case also a better future. Your only future is afterlife, so you don’t care about helping teens to get a better earthly life.
          Your belief system is either anti humanistic or incoherent. Probably both.

        • Work on your analogies. A fictional character like Luke in Star Wars isn’t helpful in explaining another fictional character like God in the Bible.

        • adam

          Oh, I think it is very appropriate.

        • Dys

          You’re giving crazypreacher far too much credit…

        • Greg

          perhaps, but my analysis is more on the money than Phil’s.

        • Dys

          Phil wasn’t offering an analysis, which is incredibly obvious.

        • Greg G.

          Is it about the money or just propping up fragile faith? The reason “results are not guaranteed” is that it relies on fallible humans because there is no spirit involved.

        • Greg

          results are not guaranteed because of a very simple axiom – the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak – ring a bell?

        • adam

          “results are not guaranteed because the of a very simple axiom “

        • Greg G.

          Sure it does. It reminds me of the old joke where the programmers wanted to test a program that could translate any language from one language to any other language. Their first tests were easy like translating “hello” to Spanish and getting “ola”. They decided to try something harder like translating “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” to Russian. But nobody knew Russian, so they had the computer translate the Russian back to English. It said, “the vodka is agreeable but the meat is rotten.”

          We would like certain things to happen but reality has other plans. We wish we could fly like a bird but we can’t because our flesh lacks the necessary aerodynamics.

        • Greg

          “We wish we could fly like a bird but we can’t because our flesh lacks the necessary aerodynamics.”

          tell that to the Wright brothers.

        • Greg G.

          Don’t be silly. Birds don’t fly planes like humans and people don’t fly like birds.

        • adam

          Money?

        • adam

          “You should try it sometime – warning – -results are not guaranteed.”

          No shit Sherlock

        • MNb

          Why should I try to get freed from something I don’t have? Namely sin?
          That’s what I’m an atheist for, silly Greg. Sin is meaningless to me.

        • Greg

          Is gravity also meaningless to you? guess what gravity, like sin, doesn’t care what you think, it still pulls your pants down when you have no belt.

        • Greg G.

          Except that sin doesn’t do anything.

        • And we have evidence of gravity.

        • MNb

          So you’re even too stupid to understand that sin and gravity belong to different categories.
          OK, champ of the false analogies.
          Gravity pulls my pants down when I wear no belt. Poorly formulated (because gravity doesn’t do anything), but soit.
          Now what does sin exactly do when I do exactly what do not?

        • adam

          Yep ‘Religious Freedom’

          The catholics know it well……..

      • Greg

        “It’s been a tough year for them, with the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, and the many (supposed) “attacks on religious freedom.”

        Whatever – the spiritual christian isn’t bogged down by these temporary setbacks –

        • Philmonomer

          Sure, it’s hard to make generalizations about an entire group of people, and many won’t fit any such generalizations.

          Do you think Christians were a merry lot this year? I’d say no, based on my reading of numerous culturally-conservative Christian blogs.

          And, actually, I’m not sure I agree with your diagnosis anyway. Things are so bad culturally-speaking that there is real talk that the “spiritual christian” should withdraw entirely (see Dreher’s “The Benedict Option”)

        • Dys

          The spiritual Christian is apparently still waiting for the authoritarian theocracy to arrive any day now.

        • Greg

          It has arrived in the form of Pope Francis and the spiritual Christian is quite pleased, thank you very much.

        • Dys

          The PR Pope? You’re welcome to him – he’s certainly doing a much better job at putting on a facade of progressivism and providing a distraction from the child abuse scandals than his predecessor.

          On the other hand, I don’t see too many Christians clamoring to abandon the US for the Vatican. I wonder why that could be… Maybe the spiritual Christian isn’t as enamored of theocracies as they’d like to pretend.

        • Greg

          PR Pope, lol, yes, he is more adroit than his predecessor, but nobody was better than Pope John Paul II. Doesn’t mean he’s not spiritual though.

          “On the other hand, I don’t see too many Christians clamoring to abandon the US for the Vatican. I wonder why that could be…”

          most puzzling is your comment, not necessary, we’re connected spiritualy, there is no need to move (phsyically) anywhere – but surely, you knew that.

        • Dys

          most puzzling is your comment, not necessary, we’re connected spiritualy, there is no need to move

          It’s not puzzling at all…or at least it shouldn’t be to a self-proclaimed lawyer. A minority of Christians in the US whine about the fact that they don’t own the concept of marriage and about the loss of undeserved Christian privilege. Yet they don’t emigrate to the Vatican, which allows exactly the things they’re pissing and moaning about.

          I’m sure your psychic theocracy gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, but here in reality, the fact that people who clearly want their religious views pushed on the rest of society aren’t moving to places that would allow it raises some questions.

          And I think the answer is that while the spiritual Christian may like the idea of a theocracy in principle, they lack the conviction to follow through with it, because it’s a fundamentally bad idea.

        • Greg G.

          Please define “spiritual” as you are using the term so amorphously that you sound like Humpty Dumpty, using a word to mean whatever you intend it to mean.

        • adam

          “PR Pope, lol, yes, he is more adroit than his predecessor,”

          Who wouldnt be

        • adam

          “The spiritual Christian is apparently still waiting for the authoritarian theocracy to arrive any day now.”

          “It has arrived in the form of Pope Francis ”

          Yes, that is what they said about Benedict as well:

        • Greg G.

          The spiritual Christian got tired of waiting for Jesus to arrive any day now so they have settled for Francis the Mule.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIdABjJ91iw

        • adam

          Yes, just like it the First Popes of The Church…

          Pedophilia, how little The Church has changed…

    • Dys

      All of your best thoughts,
      and dubious research, haven’t dampened my christian beliefs or spirit one bit!

      Bragging that you refuse to think critically about your religious beliefs isn’t a point in your favour.

      I just don’t have the faith you do, to believe that millions of people all over the world, have had their lives supernaturally changed for the better, over thousands of years, by accepting and following Jesus!

      Muslims can say pretty much the same thing about Muhammad. Your faith is based on cherrypicking anecdotal evidence.

      • Greg G.

        That guy makes me wonder what happened to sanepreacher51.

        • Dys

          Cannibalism is a terrible thing.

        • busterggi

          Not with the right sauce.

  • RichardSRussell

    Whenever the gospels were written, the Lord Almighty sure did a crappy job of making sure that “the most important message in all of history” was written by recognized authorities, filled with eyewitness testimony, fully documented, widely circulated, and well preserved. And hey, for somebody supposedly all-powerful, how hard could it have been to throw in a few maps and photos? Or even a couple of line drawings? Instead, it almost looks like the contemporaneous version of The Watchtower.

    • Textbook authors are good at getting across a single, unambiguous message. It’s a shame that the omniscient creator of the universe isn’t as good.

      • Greg

        you mean the juice aint worth the squeeze? you may be right, BobS, Merry Christmas.

        • Philmonomer

          Speaking of “juice,” maybe somebody should lay off the stuff…

  • Greg G.

    If the day after Christmas is Boxing Day, the day after Thanksgiving is MMA Day.

    • Greg

      If “ifs and buts” were candy and nuts, everyday would be Christmas, with you atheists.

      • Greg G.

        Everyday is Christmas and my birthday. It’s the oldest I’ve ever been and the youngest I’ll ever be again. I enjoy every day as much as I can.

  • Steven Watson

    Mark and Matthew have the Abomination standing where it shouldn’t, that is how it is refereed to also in Daniel and 1 Macabees. It actually only applies to the situations at the times of Epihanes and Hadrian; the Maccabean and Bar Kochva revolts. I was going to write this could put Mark as late as circa 135AD when I noticed in the Wiki article Luke’s rewrite omits the Abomination. That is data putting Luke at or after the Bar Kochva War; there has to be a confusion for that possible confusion to be corrected; and Mark before the possibility of confusion but after or during an event, The Jewish War, that could be seen as prophesied in Daniel. Which brings us to Marcion. He didn’t just pop up and start spouting; he has a history; he came by his beliefs from somewhere. Perhaps others can have Luke predate Marcion but I don’t see how that is possible.

    Greg G. has laid out John’s use of all the synoptics. Therefore John also post-dates Marcion.

    Reading Philo, we can see “scripture” (an un-quotes, capitalised, referent would be anachronism) being treated allegorically. Josephus says straight up that the “Jews” who began and fought the Jewish War and were responsible for troubles and insurgencies in earlier decades were reading their texts prophetically. If you are beginning with the premise that writings come from your god or writers inspired by your god, how are you not going to reinterpret a text the events in which clearly didn’t happen in the time it is ostensibly speaking of? If you are working from assumptions taken as valid, your conclusions may be wrong but they are not “stupid”: merely misinformed. Yonah, you are correct about some Jews and Jewish sects of those times but not all. Just as you do not speak for all Jews or Jewish sects of the present day.

    I am a bit confused Yonah as to how you can write of the Christian writings being the best way we can know first century Judaism and write how you ground yourself in Eisenman. Who bases himself firmly on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Which indubitably are Jewish texts from the first century; as is Josephus for that matter. About the only “Christian Jew” we can certainly put in that number is Paul. Not to mention Aramaic Targums, works such as Jubilees, Enoch, etc.

    Yeh, Christian texts later than actual Jewish texts are the best way to understand Judaism. I just realised, your position is crypto-Christian, anti-Semite, and bullshit. From what I can make out you are from a Protestant Christian background and possibly a proselyte. I might be mistaken but I find it difficult to believe someone of actual Jewish birth and original culture could be so offensively up his own arse.

    Why are there still Jews? My dad was Sapiens Sapiens, so were all my ancestors; and then they become some other hominid. Before my ancestors were some other hominid, they were some other primate. Before some other primate… Well you should get it by now. Mankind is still evolving but now most of that evolution is rewriting the software; not reworking either the wetware or the hardware. Go back to the Rift Valley or South Africa. You find several different australopithecines and hominids co-existing at any one time. It is only with the emergence of Sapiens that we see decisive advantage and that a close run thing. We bottle-necked at a few hundred individuals. It wouldn’t have taken terribly much to wipe out the whole species.

    The other Great Apes only survive on our benevolence. Our only recently arrived at morality independent of the Holy Wibble. To be blunt; the same goes for Jews and Judaism. Absent the morality ushered in by the English, American and French revolutions, the Shoa would have gone through on the nod and with great applause this side of the channel and that side of the ocean. Witness the behaviour of the fuckwits those revolutions and the associated Enlightenment largely passed by.

    • Greg G.

      Greg G. has laid out John’s use of all the synoptics. Therefore John also post-dates Marcion.

      Actually, I think John used Mark, Matthew used Mark and John, and Luke used all three. Matthew and Luke only took little bits of John and Luke seems to have rejected the Lazarus story with Abraham saying Lazarus being resurrected wouldn’t do any good.

      • Steven Watson

        I take it you mean what we have are the final edits, secure perhaps only to the beginning of the third century. The Gospels overlap in time of writing and that writing might have taken place over a number of decades for at least John and Luke; possibly Matthew and Mark also?

        (There you go, Yonah: I am obviously not stupid and yet I make assumptions and fail to make obvious connections and follow through what should be obvious lines of thought right in front of your eyes!)

        • Greg G.

          I’m not sure they have made the final edits to the gospels yet. They are still debating whether certain versions of passages are likely to be more original. We might be able to identify some of the state a gospel was in when the next gospel author used it. Matthew used much of Mark so allowing for some corrections and rectifications by copyists we can identify most of it. Parts of Mark that we would expect Matthew to have left out were probably original.

          John’s and Luke’s versions of Mark both had chapter 7 ripped out apparently as both jump from chapter 6 to chapter 8 in the same conversation and even the same sentence in Luke.

          I’m thinking that John had chapter 21 when Luke got it, which he moved up to the calling of the disciples.

        • Steven Watson

          Thanks, we seem to be on more or less the same page.

          Speaking of things ripped out or otherwise gone awol, do you read Greek? Not important if you don’t; but there is something I’d like to run up the flagpole and it would take up far to much space and time setting it out otherwise and you seem to be someone with the breadth of knowledge to make a constructive critique.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t know Greek but I can order a decent meal in Vietnamese. I mess around with Greek when I compare verses for similar wording. I learned the Greek alphabet from physics and engineering classes and prefixes and suffixes in junior high. But a while back I looked at a verse in Greek, recognized three key words, and guessed the verse.

        • Steven Watson

          Sounds about the same level as myself. Ah well.

  • Realist1234

    One of the main reasons why many scholars have dated all of the Gospels after AD 70 is due to Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, which subsequently happened in AD 70. As those scholars can’t accept that Jesus could have made such a prophecy, they therefore must believe the Gospels were written after the event, and effectively put words into Jesus’ mouth. I find that argument preposterous, and reflects a purely naturalist world-view. Brant Pitre in his book ‘The Case for Jesus’ makes a robust argument against that view.

    You might find this article interesting on the dating of John’s Gospel:

    http://www.chafer.edu/files/v14no2_date_of_john_s_gospel.pdf

    I am becoming more and more convinced, just as previous scholars (I am not one) had to change their minds on the dating of John’s Gospel after the discovery of P52, that the Gospels were written earlier than many ‘liberal’ scholars would have us believe. I am pretty much convinced, for example, that Luke was completed by around AD 63, as was Acts. I am also not wholly convinced that Markian priority is correct, despite it being the ‘consensus’ opinion.

    • I find that argument preposterous

      You’ve got two explanations, one a completely reasonable natural explanation and one that requires the supernatural, and you think it’s preposterous to go with the natural one?

      The evidence is scanty to even define a decade for the authorship of each gospel, let alone a specific year, as you have done for Luke.

      And even if we said that Luke was written in 63, so what? There’s loads of time for legendary additions in 30 years, and it’s full of magic. Am I not correct to be skeptical of the historicity of that?

      As for P52, the range of dates scholars consider is pretty broad.

      • Realist1234

        Clearly if you reject miracles and the supernatural, then you’re not going to accept that Jesus prophecied the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Though I dont see how you can remove the miraculous from Jesus – even the Jewish authorities did not question it, but rather where His power was coming from (as evidenced in the Gospels and later Jewish writings).

        ‘The evidence is scanty to even define a decade for the authorship of each gospel, let alone a specific year, as you have done for Luke.’

        – actually I didnt say Luke wrote his Gospel ‘in’ AD 63 but completed by around AD 63, before the deaths of Paul and James, and before the Jerusalem destruction.

        ‘And even if we said that Luke was written in 63, so what? There’s loads of time for legendary additions in 30 years,’

        – 30 years is not ‘loads of time for legendary additions’. You ignore the fact that eyewitnesses of the events were still alive and could easily have contradicted Luke’s writings. And you also ignore the fact there were already in existence writings about Jesus which Luke refers to. Both Mark and Matthew could well have been written before Luke, as well as other writings. So I just dont buy the ‘legend’ myth (it would seem the main reason you believe it is because of the miraculous in the accounts which you reject, presumably because you just dont accept anything beyond a naturalism world-view).

        ‘As for P52, the range of dates scholars consider is pretty broad.’

        – ‘some’ scholars have tried to date it into the 2nd half of the 2nd century, but I think Roberts’ original dating of around AD 125 is probably accurate, as backed up by Eric Turner.

        • Pofarmer

          Clearly if you reject miracles and the supernatural,

          You mean live in reality? Grow the fuck up.

        • Realist1234

          You are the one refusing to see reality as it is.

        • Pofarmer

          So what is reality a******?

        • Give us reasons and evidence.

        • al kimeea

          Sure. I hear you have bottom land in Florida for sale.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Though I dont see how you can remove the miraculous from Jesus –

          It’s very easy,. Try using Bayesian reasoning.

          Can you point to one single verified bona fide miracle ever?

          …even the Jewish authorities did not question it, but rather where His power was coming from (as evidenced in the Gospels and later Jewish writings).

          You can’t use the gospels to verify what’s in the gospels. That’s a circular argument.

          You will need to cite the Jewish writings that verify Jesus miracles.

          – actually I didnt say Luke wrote his Gospel ‘in’ AD 63 but completed by around AD 63, before the deaths of Paul and James, and before the Jerusalem destruction.

          That’s even worse.

          – 30 years is not ‘loads of time for legendary additions’.

          Of course it is, it happens all the time.

          You ignore the fact that eyewitnesses of the events were still alive and could easily have contradicted Luke’s writings.

          A fact not in evidence unfortunately.

          And you also ignore the fact there were already in existence writings about Jesus which Luke refers to. Both Mark and Matthew could well have been written before Luke, as well as other writings.

          Nope…Bob, nor most folk I know who know anything about the history of the NT, doubt Luke plagiarised gMark and gMatthew…and possibly other non-extant sources. So no ignoring getting done. Do your due diligence before casting such aspersions, it’ll save you getting egg on yer face later.

          So I just dont buy the ‘legend’ myth (it would seem the main reason you believe it is because of the miraculous in the accounts which you reject, presumably because you just dont accept anything beyond a naturalism world-view).

          Of course you don’t, you have a bias. Do you believe the miracle accounts of other faiths?

          – ‘some’ scholars have tried to date it into the 2nd half of the 2nd century, but I think Roberts’ original dating of around AD 125 is probably accurate, as backed up by Eric Turner.

          Well of course you want the earlier date, you have a bias. Your problem is you are looking to bible scholars for your info and not experts in the appropriate field of knowledge.

          ABSTRACT. — The date of the earliest New Testament papyri is nearly always based on palaeographical criteria. A consensus among papyrologists, palaeographers and New Testament scholars is presented in the edition of NESTLE–ALAND, 1994. In the last twenty years several New Testament scholars (THIEDE, COMFORT–BARRETT, 1999, 2001 and JAROŠ, 2006) have argued for an earlier date of most of these texts. The present article analyzes the date of the earliest New Testament papyri on the basis of comparative palaeography and a clear distinction between different types of literary scripts. There are no first-century New Testament papyri and only very few papyri can be attributed to the (second half of the) second century. It is only in the third and fourth centuries that New Testament manuscripts become more common, but here too the dates proposed by COMFORT–BARRETT, 1999, 2001, and JAROŠ, 2006 are often too early.

          Biblical scholars should realise that some of the dates proposed by some of their colleagues are not acceptable to Greek palaeographers and papyrologists.

          http://vridar.org/2013/03/08/new-date-for-that-st-johns-fragment-rylands-library-papyrus-p52/

        • One of the (obvious) problems with paleography is that a writing style used by an influential teacher can live for many decades afterwards in his students. They’ll see the new trends and styles, but they will continue with the “old fashioned” approach that their teacher taught.

        • Clearly if you reject miracles and the supernatural

          I follow the evidence, and that’s where it takes me. With new, compelling evidence for the supernatural, I would reconsider.

          I dont see how you can remove the miraculous from Jesus – even the Jewish authorities did not question it

          Yeah, in the Jesus story.

          Remember the Red Riding Hood story? When the woodcutter cuts open the wolf to let the grandma out (alive and whole), do you say, “Well, that makes sense—the wolf ate her”?

          I didnt say Luke wrote his Gospel ‘in’ AD 63 but completed by around AD 63, before the deaths of Paul and James, and before the Jerusalem destruction.

          My point remains. Look at the argument above. There are reasons to date it all over the place, even well into the 2nd c.

          30 years is not ‘loads of time for legendary additions’. You ignore the fact that eyewitnesses of the events were still alive and could easily have contradicted Luke’s writings.

          Oh, yeah—that helps. That’s why there are never errors in the newspaper—because it was only 1 day since the event, and stories couldn’t get muddled in that short a time.

          I call this the Naysayer Hypothesis. I refute it here.

          Both Mark and Matthew could well have been written before Luke, as well as other writings.

          Which is why Luke tells identical stories (compared to Mark and Matthew), with no embellishment.

          Oops. Or not.

          presumably because you just dont accept anything beyond a naturalism world-view

          Refuted above.

          ‘As for P52, the range of dates scholars consider is pretty broad.’
          – ‘some’ scholars have tried to date it into the 2nd half of the 2nd century, but I think Roberts’ original dating of around AD 125 is probably accurate, as backed up by Eric Turner.

          Conclusion: we must be very cautious when we use the date of P52.

        • Greg G.

          Clearly if you reject miracles and the supernatural, then you’re not going to accept that Jesus prophecied the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Though I dont see how you can remove the miraculous from Jesus – even the Jewish authorities did not question it, but rather where His power was coming from (as evidenced in the Gospels and later Jewish writings).

          If you read other literature from that day and age and before, there are many claims of miracles. That the miracles of Jesus in the gospels are not unlike the miracles by other characters in the literature of the day, we have no reason to think the Jesus miracles are any more historical than the fictional stories in the other literature. That many of the miracles of Jesus appear to be modeled on the Old Testament miracles of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha is reason to believe they are fictional accounts. That even the non-miracle passages appear to be so similar to passages in the literature of the day, there is very little reliable information to be learned from the gospels.

    • Pofarmer

      That “article” is presuppositionalist shit. Sorry.

      • Realist1234

        Unsurprisingly I disagree.

        • Pofarmer

          Of course you do your brain is being strangled by the strap on your God goggles

    • Greg G.

      When an author alters a story he is copying from another author, sometimes a thing called “editorial fatigue” happens. We find instances of this with Matthew using a Markan passage and instances in Luke doing this with both Mark and Matthew. This is evidence of Mark being first, Matthew using Mark, and Luke using both.

      The nativity story of Matthew looks a lot like the nativity story of Moses in Exodus, but we also find the story in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews 2 which also has the Pharaoh motivated by a prophecy rather than the Exodus motivation being the sheer numbers of Hebrews plus Josephus has Aram, Moses’ father, being warned in a dream, also a feature in Matthew. Antiquities of the Jews 17 has a passage describing Herod having some younger relatives killed because of a perceived threat and some people who were thought to have some divine insight, which may have been turned into the wise men from the east, who followed a star in the east but wound up in the west. Luke and Acts have dozens of instances of information found in Josephus’ writings, many of which can only be explained with Luke copying Josephus and not the other way around. This puts Matthew at the end of the first century and reasonably pushes Luke into the second century.

      I reject the Q hypothesis on the basis of a complete lack of evidence and that it appears to be apologetics proposed to explain the differences in Matthew and Luke without having to accept that Luke may have rejected parts of Matthew. But we see that Luke essentially followed Mark’s order from chapter 3 to near the end of chapter 9 and picked it up again in chapter 18 yet he rejected the spit miracles of Mark and the naked boy in Gethsemane, so rejection of material is apparent. We see a Pool of Siloam in John and a Tower of Siloam in Luke and both pericopae address the same philosophical question so it appears that Luke rejected that spit miracle in John. The Rich Man and Lazarus in Hades appears to be a rejection of John’s resurrection of Lazarus story with the reason Abraham gave for not sending Lazarus back. So the so-called “eyewitnesses” referred to in Luke 1:1-4 appear to have been Mark, Matthew, and John.

      I have been looking at verbatim and letter for letter matches between Mark and John by comparing the morphological Greek New Testament texts. The Woman with the Ointment and Mary Washing Jesus’ Feet passages have letter for letter phrases, some with a few words transposed. But we find similar word transpositions between the mGNT and the Textus Receptus. But with The Feeding of the 5000 there is almost no significant words in common despite a phrase by phrase order with synonyms. It’s seems that John tried harder to cover his tracks when not changing the story very much but let his guard down when he did make major changes in the material, a sort of editorial fatigue.

      Your miracle hypothesis needs some evidence.

      • Realist1234

        ‘This is evidence of Mark being first, Matthew using Mark, and Luke using both.’

        – possible but certainly not definitive. It may be that Matthew was written first, as many of the early church fathers appear to have believed (though ‘first’ may not necessarily mean chronologically). But Im open to possibilities.

        ‘The nativity story of Matthew looks a lot like the nativity story of Moses in Exodus, ‘

        – not from my reading of both, they are quite different.

        ‘Luke and Acts have dozens of instances of information found in Josephus’ writings, many of which can only be explained with Luke copying Josephus and not the other way around.’

        – disagree. As even Steve Mason has admitted, one of the main propagators of the theory that Luke used Josephus: “Neither position (that Luke used Josephus or Josephus used Luke) has much of a following today, because of the significant differences between the two works in their accounts of the same events.”

        ‘This puts Matthew at the end of the first century and reasonably pushes Luke into the second century.’

        – reject. That is the problem when you use the flimsy theory that Luke used Josephus’ writings to determine the dating of the Gospels, it automatically pushes Luke and Acts to a very late dating, despite the evidence of the contrary. I still maintain the evidence strongly indicates that Luke and Acts were completed by AD 63/64, before the deaths of Paul and James.

        ‘I reject the Q hypothesis on the basis of a complete lack of evidence and that it appears to be apologetics proposed to explain the differences in Matthew and Luke without having to accept that Luke may have rejected parts of Matthew. ‘

        – I view the Q hypothesis as one of a number of possibilities, so I do not reject it out of hand. Luke specifically says he was fully aware of earlier writings about Jesus before he put ink to papyrus, likely including Mark’s Gospel, and some of those writings could be summarised as ‘Q’. But I have sympathy with your rejection! But I would not agree that simply because Luke may have not included parts of Matthew (which of course depends on Matthew being written before Luke which is debatable), that means he ‘rejected’ those parts as unreliable. He simply chose not to include them.

        Re your final paragraph I cant comment as I havent looked at that but I suspect many scholars would disagree with your assertion regarding ‘editorial fatigue’.

        ‘Your miracle hypothesis needs some evidence.’

        – the problem with those who reject the miracles of Jesus is that they do so primarily because they simply reject the very possibility of a miracle, because they reject the existence of God or any spiritual reality.

        For me I find it telling that not only do Christian writers and the early church attest to Jesus’ miracles, even His enemies in the form of the Jewish authorities attested to them, but ascribed His power to elsewhere rather than to God. Not only is this described in the Gospels, but reference is also made in later Jewish writings.

        I also find the accounts of the miracles of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels as being authentic, from the details. For example, if I was simply making up the story of Him healing a blind man, would I really have made up the fact that He had to pray twice before the blind man received his sight? Would I not have wanted to paint Jesus in the best light, so that a single prayer or command would have been sufficient for the man to see completely clearly? That’s how I would have written it if Id wanted to convince others, even though I knew it wasn’t true. But no, the writer simply records what happened.

        The same with the account of the resurrection of Lazarus. It smells of authenticity. Again if I had been writing it knowing it hadn’t happened, I would have had Jesus blazing with light as the stone to Lazarus’ tomb flies off, as Lazarus comes out beaming. Instead we have the account of Lazarus’ two grieving sisters, who clearly show their disappointment with Jesus when He eventually arrives, telling Him bluntly ‘if only you had been here’. I think their words have been recorded accurately. And when Lazarus appears at the entrance to the tomb, Jesus just says matter-of-fact “Take off his grave clothes and let him go”. No fuss. Authentic.

        • Why do you think Luke following Josephus is unlikely?

        • Realist1234
        • Pofarmer

          That was pretty horrible.

        • Greg G.

          JPH gives an excuse for many individual coincidences but that is a long list of coincidences that show a pattern that requires an explanation. The most likely explanation is that one copied from the other and the mistakes and conflations in Luke indicate that it was Luke using Josephus.

          He doesn’t even address all of the coincidences. In Life 2, Josephus is discussing the law with scholars at the temple sounds a lot like Jesus teaching in the temple at symbolic age of age 12. Paul mentions that he survived shipwrecks so Luke had to have an example in Acts. It looks like he borrowed a shipwreck story from Josephus Life 3.

        • Realist1234

          Sorry but thats just one assumption after another. To argue that simply because Josephus, as a Jewish scholar, discussed aspects of the law at the temple (no surprise there), means that Luke must have taken that and applied it to Jesus at the age of 12 is laughable. And as for the shipwreck, are you seriously arguing that simply because Josephus mentions shipwrecks in his writings, therefore Luke must have taken the idea from him?

          You also seem to assume that Josephus is the historically accurate writer. Many scholars would disagree with that.

          As I said just assumptions with no evidence whatsoever.

        • adam

          “You also seem to assume that Josephus is the historically accurate writer.”

          And yet YOU assume the gospel writers were historically accurate

          “You’ve clearly decided that the Gospels are fiction, so you have to go looking to see where the writers could possibly have gotten their ideas from, instead of accepting it as historical truth.”

        • Realist1234

          ‘And yet YOU assume the gospel writers were historically accurate’

          – actually I dont, I havent found anything that would make me think they were not accurate.

        • adam

          ” I havent found anything that would make me think they were not accurate.”

          MAGIC

          And of course the rest of the book…

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/784d8199f09dff075b2d3ecc7333f0de5901857775bf803c837cc5f630ff0a3e.jpg

        • Joe

          actually I dont, I havent found anything that would make me think they were not accurate.

          Different genealogies, different births, different accounts of the crucifixion? What do you mean by ‘not accurate’?

        • Supernatural claims? Or do you just accept supernatural claims from other religions without evaluating them?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Claim of ridiculous and outlandish celestial phenomenon?

          We here all know what a loada ballix the Star of Bethlehem is, short answer, it is a made up literary device in a fictional story. For the long answer why it wasn’t an accurate account of any historical event? Well, for that you have to roll yer sleeves up and get to learnin’…no assumptions necessary.

          The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View by Dr. Aaron Adair

          The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View is an analysis of the astronomical portent found in the Gospel of Matthew which supposedly led the Magi from the East to the birthplace of Jesus. Throughout history, people have tried to connect the Star to real, naturalistic phenomena, as well as to explain it in other ways. Adair takes a thorough look at all of these explanatory attempts, using the tools of science and astronomy, and finds them fundamentally wanting. Take a trip through the heavens above with Adair as he critically explores many centuries of flawed hypotheses, looking to answer the question “Did the Star of Bethlehem really exist?” This book is at the conjunction of science and religion.

          https://www.amazon.com/Star-Bethlehem-Skeptical-View/dp/0956694861

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Cwx1ifJY4s

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2016/05/25/interview-with-dr-aaron-adair-on-biblical-history-and-the-star-of-bethlehem/

        • Realist1234

          The ‘star’ probably only had meaning to the Magi, who were likely astrologers/astronomers. The fact that Herod and his officials were not aware of it shows this, and indicates it was not obvious to all and sundry. The fact that the Magi specifically relate this ‘star’ (alignment of planets?) to the birth of ‘the king of the Jews’ also shows this. So I would not go looking for a comet etc. It was not that obvious.

        • Pofarmer

          It wasn’t obvious because both the star and the magi are literary inventions. There was a tradition going way back in Greek literature that stars would appear on the births and deaths of significant individuals. Adair goes through all this.

        • Greg G.

          You know what the Bible says about astrology:

          Genesis 1:14 (NRSV)14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,

          Oh wait, it’s a multiple choice test:

          Isaiah 47:13-14 (NRSV)13 You are wearied with your many consultations;    let those who study the heavensstand up and save you,    those who gaze at the stars,and at each new moon predict    what shall befall you.14 See, they are like stubble,    the fire consumes them;they cannot deliver themselves    from the power of the flame.No coal for warming oneself is this,    no fire to sit before!

          The wise men set up that one story and are never heard from again. They are used as a literary device.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The ‘star’ probably only had meaning to the Magi, who were likely astrologers/astronomers.

          Yah see the thing is, the Magi didn’t know the meaning of the star per se, it was Herod that deduced it was the realisation of the prophecy in Micah and sent them to Bethlehem. That’s why the Magi went to Herod first.

          Don’t you read the stories?

          Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East [or at its rising] and have come to worship Him. When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.

          It appears that along with the Magi, Herod gathered those knowledgeable on such things and they worked out what the “star” alluded to, so no, not just the Magi knew the meaning of the “star” after all.

          Who told the author of Matthew about this “secret” over two generations after the alleged event? How come no one else knew anything about it, including the author of the alternative account of the Nativity?

          The fact that Herod and his officials were not aware of it shows this, and indicates it was not obvious to all and sundry.

          Hardly a fact. It wasn’t obvious to anyone else on the planet either. So special was it, yet astrologers were active in all civilisations of the time. Yet according to the story in Matthew, Herod was troubled, and ALL Jerusalem with him. Seems like ALL and sundry did know about it and it troubled them.

          The fact that the Magi specifically relate this ‘star’ (alignment of planets?) to the birth of ‘the king of the Jews’ also shows this.

          Not a fact at all. A story in one book, a Pious fiction for the particular purpose of an apologetic to establish the messianic status of Jesus as per OT prophecy. A star alignment has refuted by the way.

          The Magi fucked up, a King of the Jews wasn’t born, as the subsequent story shows us all later.

          So I would not go looking for a comet etc.

          I wouldn’t either. That hypothesis is put to bed in the book too…of course, I’ve read it, you have not.

          It was not that obvious.

          Ah yes, plausible deniability…or is it the Emperors new clothes. Only those with special “star” gazing goggles could see such things.

          But didn’t the Magi explain to Herod’s court their reason regardless of how not obvious the invented celestial body was in the first place? So, the secret meaning hypothesis is ballix too.

          Give it up, the”Star of Bethlehem” was a literary trope for a Pious fiction. There wasn’t even a Bethlehem in Judea at the time, apparently.

          Many archaeologists and theological scholars believe Jesus was actually born in either Nazareth or Bethlehem of Galilee, a town just outside Nazareth, citing biblical references and archaeological evidence to support their conclusion. Throughout the Bible, Jesus is referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth,” not “Jesus of Bethlehem.” In fact, in John (7:41- 43) there is a passage questioning Jesus’ legitimacy because he’s from Galilee and not Judaea, as the Hebrew Scriptures say the Messiah must be. Archaeological excavations have shown that Bethlehem in Judaea likely did not exist as a functioning town between 7 and 4 B.C., when Jesus is believed to have been born. Studies of the town have turned up a great deal of Iron Age material from 1200 to 550 B.C. as well as material from the sixth century A.D., but nothing from the first century B.C. or the first century A.D. Aviram Oshri, a senior archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, says, “There is surprisingly no archaeological evidence that ties Bethlehem in Judaea to the period in which Jesus would have been born.

          http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Bethlehem

        • Greg G.

          I had forgotten how much that part of Matthew’s nativity is like Antiquities of the Jews 17.2.4 where Herod the Great’s son, Antipater, was in a conspiracy that HtG’s sister, Salome, was on to. They were listening to a prophecy from the Pharisees who were thought to receive divine knowledge. HtG has many Pharisees and family members killed.Then look at AJ 2.9.2 where Pharaoh had the little Hebrew boys killed. The motivation in the Exodus version was the population size of the Hebrews while the Josephus version was a warning of a prophecy. Josephus, AJ 2.9.4 also has Moses’ father receiving foreknowledge in a dream, which Matthew does twice for Joseph and once for the wise men.

          So we have Herod the Great motivated to mass killing by a prophecy plus Pharaoh motivated to kill Hebrew male infants by a prophecy, wise men with divine knowledge, and warnings from dreams.

        • Ignorant Amos

          At some point I will have to actually get a copy of AJ and read it properly, rather than snippets here, there, and everywhere.

        • Greg G.

          Josephus is not easy to read. He has long, meandering sentences. I have to read a sentence at least twice to recall how it started when I reach the end. I have read the last four books straight through as they deal with the first century BC and the first century AD. When I chase down a snippet, I often read above it to get a sense of the context. Some of it gets really interesting.

        • Pofarmer

          You da man. I don’t have the patience or desire for it at this point.

        • Greg G.

          A few years ago, I was on McGrath’s blog questioning whether the passage about John the Baptist was authentic and pointed out that the previous passage said the place, Macherus, was under control of Aretas. Someone said that there was no record of Macherus ever not being in Israeli possession.

          A year later, when I was reading in AJ 18, IIRC, I saw that Sabinus was distributing castles at one point and that Aretas was helping the Romans for some favor. Perhaps Macherus was the favor he got in return.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A bit like the Bible then in many respects?

        • Michael Neville

          Paul Meier’s Josephus: The Essential Works is readable and has lots of footnotes.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ta very muchly.

        • I keep meaning to study up on the Christian arguments in favor of the Bible story about the star. I finally have a copy of the DVD and will do that before the next Christmas season. Thanks for the links.

        • Pofarmer

          Aaron Adair goes over, I think, all of them.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It is very comprehensive and it is a book available at a number of scholarly sites with a subscription..i.e, philpapers.

        • Searching online, I find the book The Star of Bethlehem: A Skeptical View and the video below. Let me know if there’s more I should consider.

          Thanks.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Cwx1ifJY4s

        • adam
        • Pofarmer

          Ya know what the strongest evidence for a late dating for Luke is? Luke itself.

          Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With
          this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything
          from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

          https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%201:1-4

          The Earliest Theophilus we have of any note in the Church is Theophilus of Antioch, and we know when he lived.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophilus_of_Antioch

          Theophilus, Patriarch of Antioch[1] (Greek: Θεόφιλος ὁ Ἀντιοχεύς) succeeded Eros c. 169, and was succeeded by Maximus I c. 183, according to Henry Fynes Clinton,[2] but these dates are only approximations. His death probably occurred between 183 and 185.[3]

        • Realist1234

          I think that’s grasping at straws again. The truth is we simply do not know who Theophilus was. I think he could very well have been a converted Roman official, given that Luke uses ‘most excellent’ Theophilus when addressing him, and Paul in Acts (also written by Luke) uses the same title when addressing Roman governor Felix and procurator Festus. But that is not definitive. But you simply cant use Theophilus to date Luke/Acts.

        • Pofarmer

          Wow. So the stuff that the text actually says you can’t use. But tenuous connections by vague apologetics are great.

          Theophilus of Antioch was the Bishop of Antioch, and a converted Pagan. You don’t think that wouldn’t have elicited a “most excellent”? I dun’t think I’m the one grasping at straws trying to kill unpleasant ideas.

        • Realist1234

          I have seen little or no evidence that the Gospel of Luke and Acts were written in the late 2nd Century. That is why I am rejecting your assertion. Your argument boils down to a single name. I could also argue if the Gospel had been addressed to ‘Severus’, then it must have been written in the 4th/5th centuries because there was a bishop called Severus then. Ludicrous! You’re simply showing your bias rather than assessing the available evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          You don’t actually have any evidence that it was written earlier than that, either. There is a strong argument to be made that the Canonical Gospels are all later than Bar Kochba revolt, or just before it. That would make sense of the external attestations of the Gospels that we do have, including be quoted by other Christian Authors. If this were the case, then giving the wording of the Gospel of Luke, it makes perfect sense that it would be written in the late 2nd Century. The problem you have is that you can’t look at the evidence objectively due to your faith. It’s why I don’t trust Biblical scholars who are also Christians. They are presupposing the truth of their “faith” without having good evidence to do so. The available evidence doesn’t support what they/you want it to support, so you come up with “apologetics” to square the circle. The actual answers are out there, but you won’t find it as long as you’re rooting around in faith based apologetics.

        • Realist1234

          Its not ‘apologetics’ it is evidence, both textual and historical. You claim Christian scholars are biased. Do you really think atheist scholars arent?

          Pl have a read of this: http://reknew.org/2007/12/is-the-book-of-acts-reliable/

        • Pofarmer

          And you link me to apologetics.

          Really bad apologetics.

        • Realist1234

          If you view any evidence that negates your own position as ‘apologetics’ which you then dismiss (labels are very convenient), then not much point in further discussion.

        • Pofarmer

          No. I Call apologetics, apologetics. It’s clearly motivated reasoning.

          “Those who deny that the original, historical Jesus made divine claims for himself, performed miracles and rose from the dead must argue that all of these features of the Gospel portrait are later legendary accretions.”

        • A little shifting of the burden of proof, eh? Not cool.

        • MNb

          “It’s clearly motivated reasoning.”
          Then JM is apologetics as well. The motivation of you guys is not hard to guess …… and it’s not scientific.

        • Pofarmer

          So, if I say there is no God is that motivated reasoning? I mean, we have plenty of textual evidence of him interacting with humanity in the OT. wrestling even. Talking to folks like Abraham and Moses.

        • MNb

          “So, if I say there is no God is that motivated reasoning?”
          Silly me – I always thought “there is no God” was called atheism and “there was no Jesus” was called Jesusmythology. Given your question I obviously was wrong.
          That or you’re screwing a strawman plus moving some goalposts plus pulling off a non-sequitur.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “there was no Jesus” was called Jesusmythology.

          Yeah, terminology can be a bit of a bugger.

          Everyone that is not a Christian believes the Jesus of the NT is a myth, just to what degree is the question. Heck, even many Christians will even take that position.

          I think Jesus Mytholgy is a different thing from Jesus Mysticism…unless you deny there is any myth in the NT stories about Jesus? The first is a mythology that is constructed around a kernel of a real person, the later is that the mythology is built out of whole cloth from the imagination of the earliest writer(s) from a conglomeration of earlier and contemporary sources.

          I think the better term is A-historical Jesus theory…as Lataster prefers, indeed, I’d go as far as say most mythicists would probably prefer.

        • MNb

          You already know that I find discussions about labels always totally boring. I say JM because it’s the common term, but won’t object at all if you use Ahistorical Jesus Theory – AJT is just as nice an abbreviation. Just like I replaced Peking by Beijing when that became common I’ll replace JM with AJT when lots of adherents do.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So are you an AJT and if not, why not?

        • MNb

          I think it quite more likely that the Gospels are based on a historical character (with lots of fiction added) than on an entirely fictional one, because that’s the easier explanation for the available evidence. I summarized it once in twenty sentences and compared it with the hundreds of pages spend by Carrier, Doherty and that American theologian BobS is so fond of.
          That doesn’t mean the Gospels are a historical account. I have little interest in separating fact from fiction, because the guy was not terribly important in his time and place. Christianity only became important after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

          Basically it seems far-fetched to me that the authors of the Gospels would cooperate to create a fictional messias claimant if there was such a wide choice of actual ones in that time and place. Plus many of the methods used by those who conclude an entirely fictional character are so bad that they are totally incapable of reaching any consensus but “ahistorical”. Greg G’s “I’m not the JM police” is so lame an excuse that it would fit the more dishonest creationists.
          As I haven’t checked it myself (too lazy, too difficult) I’m not conclusive, but Carrier’s method has been criticized as well.

          https://www.scribd.com/doc/305750452/Richard-Carrier-s-On-the-Historicity-of-Jesus

          Of course that in itself doesn’t mean that the conclusion is incorrect. It means that there is a lot of work to do. Unfortunately I’m not aware of anyone even trying. That’s bad science and I don’t like that.

        • Greg G.

          I think it was Steven Carr who made the point that if Jesus is ahistorical, then the term “Jesus mythicist” is better applied to people who believe he was real.

        • Pofarmer

          But the evidence is pretty much exactly the same for either character. Words in old books.

        • adam

          “…… and it’s not scientific.”

          It is for the betterment of humanity.

          But I am still waiting on the science of Jesus.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What’s the motivation?

        • Greg G.

          Your guess is not scientific.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What if the “evidence” is provided by Christians?

        • Realist1234

          Im fully aware there are Christian scholars who would, for example, hold that the Gospels were written later than when I and others think, but I would hope they don’t dismiss my position as simply ‘apologetics’, but rather a reasoned view.

        • Ignorant Amos

          [Father] Thomas Brodie is a 70-year old Dominican priest. He joined the order some four decades ago and, despite pushing the academic envelope throughout his career, he rose in the order to the position of Director of the Dominican Biblical Institute in Limerick, Ireland, an Institute he himself founded. The list of his publications in the Bibliography takes up two full pages and attest to Brodie’s longstanding commitment as a researcher into Christian origins. His skeptical views have generally been balanced by a faith which dispenses with the ‘letter’ in favor of the ‘spirit’ (Part 2 of this review). However, the explicitness of Brodie’s latest book goes well beyond the pale and, in this regard, stands outside the usual ambit of his oeuvre. Immediately after the book’s publication Brodie was (for the first time) forbidden to teach. .

          Or…

          Robert McNair Price (born July 7, 1954) is an American theologian and writer, known for arguing against the existence of a historical Jesus (the Christ myth theory). He teaches philosophy and religion at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, is professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute, and the author of a number of books on theology and the historicity of Jesus.

          A former Baptist minister, he was the editor of the Journal of Higher Criticism from 1994 until it ceased publication in 2003.

          He is a religious skeptic, especially of orthodox Christian beliefs, occasionally describing himself as a Christian atheist.

        • Realist1234

          ‘Christian atheist’ is an oxymoron.

        • Greg G.

          ‘Christian atheist’ is an oxymoron.

          I can’t resist the chiastic wordplay that the “atheist” part corresponds to the “oxy” part.

          An atheist who follows the ethical teachings of Plato and call himself a Platonist. Likewise, Brodie can follow the ethical teachings of Jesus, without believing the “son of God” parts, and be called a Christian atheist.

        • Realist1234

          nope

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yep…and you don’t get to decide.

          There are 45,000+ different flavours of the Christian cult, and that doesn’t include the thousands of versions that have been and gone. You are just of one of many.

        • Greg G.

          I heard a fundamentalist preacher claim that Catholics weren’t real Christians. People claiming to be Christians arguing about who can use the label seem like dogs claiming a fire hydrant.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • It’s religion. Lots of things don’t make sense.

        • Greg G.

          I am seeing lots of apologetics in that, too. In Boyd’s argument that Luke was a great historian, over and over he points to things that are verified by Josephus, things I would point out as evidence that Luke was getting his information from Antiquities of the Jews, but when Luke doesn’t agree with Josephus, Boyd makes up excuses. like an apologist does to reconcile apparent contradictions, like who went when to the tomb. Boyd says that there could have been lots of people named Theudas and Judas, so Luke wasn’t referring to the same people that Josephus refers to. But in Antiquities of the Jews 20.5.1, Josephus talks about Theudas and in a short span of words, in Antiquities of the Jews 20.5.2, Josephus mentions the sons of Judas the Galilean. Luke has Gamaliel mention Theudas in Acts 5:36 and Judas the Galilean in Acts 5:37 as if they were contemporaries. It is more likely that Luke read about them at the same time but overlooked the “the son of” part. BTW, Gamaliel is mentioned by Josephus in Life 38 and Judas the Galilean himself is discussed in Antiquities of the Jews 18.1.6. That is a smoking gun that Luke is holding.

        • Realist1234

          No, youre just making assumptions again without looking at the details.

          1. Simply because 2 historians mention the same name does not mean they are referring to the same individual – to come to that conclusion, proper evidence has to be produced.

          2. According to Luke, Gamaliel says ” Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. ”

          3. It is telling that Gamaliel’s Theudas had only 400 followers, yet Josephus said ‘a great part of the people (of Judea)’ followed him. In the same Chapter 5, 2 paragraphs later, Josephus describes ‘a great number’ as at least 20,000 people! It would seem obvious that Josephus would not have described a mere 400 people as a great part of the people of Judea, so 2 different groups are being referenced, and hence 2 different leaders. They simply do not reconcile.

          4. Gamaliel said ‘all his followers were dispersed’, yet Josephus said ‘However, Fadus ..sent a troop of horsemen out against them; who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them, and took many of them alive.’ I can certainly imagine the leader of a small band of followers being killed and his followers allowed to ‘disperse’ (as in Gamaliel’s account) but not if it was 1000’s – The Romans would have made a point by killing many of his followers as well, just as Josephus says. Thousands of people would have been seen as a major threat to the Roman authorities. And he implies most of the rest were taken as prisoners, not allowed to disperse, the opposite of what Gamaliel asserts. Again, different scenes.

          I could go on, but theres no smoking gun. Different people at different times.

          ‘Theudas in Acts 5:36 and Judas the Galilean in Acts 5:37 as if they were contemporaries. It is more likely that Luke read about them at the same time but overlooked the “the son of” part. ‘

          – No he didnt. I think Judas the Galilean could very well be the same person in both Luke and Josephus, because the timelines are the same (though Josephus confuses the issue because although he references Judas in his earlier book, there he is also described as Judas , a Gaulonite of Gamala’. In Josephus’ earlier book, he is dated to around AD 6/7 under the Roman Cyrenius. However, in Book 20.5.2 Josephus is ONLY talking about Judas’ sons, who were killed a few decades later under Tiberius Alexander in the late AD 40s. So in the case of Judas, Josephus’ timeline agrees with Luke. So it is likely that both Gamaliel and Josephus are talking about Judas of Galilee around AD 6/7, with Josephus also saying that Judas’ sons were also later killed just like their father, in the late AD 40s. Gamaliel of course wouldn’t have been aware of the fate of Judas’ sons when he spoke as recorded in Acts, as that was around AD 33/34.

        • Greg G.

          Thank you for the correction. I had misremembered the Acts 5 passage. It turns out that Acts 5:37 is more like AJ 20.5.2 than I thought.

          Antiquities of the Jews 20 mentions several bandits and false prophets but few are mentioned by name. That few include Theudas, Judas the Galilean, and the Egyptian. Luke also mentions those three. What are the odds of that? Luke also conflates some of the unnamed prophets and and bandits with the Egyptian. I wonder if Luke conflated the number 400 killed in the Egyptian incident, with the number who followed Theudas, which Josephus was vague about?

        • Realist1234

          The 2 descriptions about Theudus, as I have pointed out, are quite different, but you just wont accept that fact, because you want to discredit Luke. Showing your bias again.

        • Greg G.

          Acts 5:36
          Antiquities of the Jews 20.5.1

          For before these days
          NOW it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea,

          Theudas rose up,
          that a certain magician, whose name was Theudas,

          making himself out to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred,
          persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it;

          joined themselves:
          and many were deluded by his words.

          who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were dispersed,
          However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them; who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, and cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem.

          and came to nothing.
          This was what befell the Jews in the time of Cuspius Fadus’s government.

          Luke pretty much copies and shortens Josephus phrase for phrase. He tones some of the violence of Josephus just as he tones down the theological dispute that caused Barnabas to be led astray in Galatians 2 but Luke makes it out to be a personality conflict between Paul and John Mark in Acts 15:36-41. Luke adds a specific number but we can see that he borrowed bits from that same passage for Acts 21:38, so it lends credence that the number 400 was borrowed from that section, too. I see two places where a bit of information was moved out of order, so I underlined the corresponding bits. There is point after point of similarities in a similar order.

          Your cognitive bias is causing your blindness to the obvious similarities.

        • Realist1234

          Your bias is shown by highlighting the apparent similarities and dismissing the significant differences. On balance they are different descriptions of different people. Enough said.

        • Ignorant Amos

          See, here’s your problem, a number of scholars make the same claim that Greg makes.

          It is the similarities in the two stories that is significant. If the similarities are such that they cannot be disregarded in favour of the dissimilarities, then an inference can be drawn. Are the gospel Nativity narratives making an account of the same event, or not because of the long list of dissimilarities?

          You do know that many well attested historical events are littered with dissimilarities when accounts are compared, right? Even for eyewitness and participants.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bravo_Two_Zero

          So stating he is taking the bias position is erroneous and no more bias than your negative approach to the scholars that also take the different view.

          https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html

        • Realist1234

          So are you saying, logically, that you take the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus as accurate?

        • Ignorant Amos

          No. Not at all. But many believers do.

          What I’m saying is that even generally accepted accounts (by Christians) have remarkable dissimilarities. As does generally accepted actual events in history. Your alluding to the dissimilarities as a slam dunk that they are obviously describing different events and people, are nothing of the sort. Two made up historical fictions and two accounts of an historically factual event, can both suffer from the same issue.

          Even if one author is plagiarising the details from an earlier author’s alleged facts, there maybe a number of reasons for the differences being purposefully being employed, which will say nothing to the similarities.

        • Greg G.

          Your bias is shown by highlighting the apparent similarities and dismissing the significant differences. On balance they are different descriptions of different people. Enough said.

          Huh? We know Luke used Mark because of the similarities. If we only look at the differences, we would have to believe otherwise.

          Luke was not copying Josephus the way he copied Mark. He was using Josephus two ways. One was for a historical perspective for verisimilitude and one was for ideas for his own fictional narrative.

          The specificity and the frequency of “apparent similarities” concentrated in the parts of Luke that are not in common with the other gospels show that the similarities are derivative.

        • Realist1234

          ‘fictional narrative’ -sums up your bias.

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          Acts 21:38 has the Roman officer referring to the Egyptian, the sicarii, and an escape to the wilderness, all of which are discussed by Josephus in a short space of text but about different situations. The word “sicarii” appears to have been originated by Josephus. That remark came from Luke’s mis-reading of Josephus. It never really happened. That is fictional narrative.

          Luke 2:42 (NRSV)42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival.

          Luke 2:46-47 (NRSV)46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

          From Josephus’ autobiography:
          Moreover, when I was a child, and about fourteen years of age I was commended by all for the love I had to learning; on which account the high priests and principal men of the city came then frequently to me together, in order to know my opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the law.

          Luke changed the age to twelve and throws in the “after three days” as foreshadowing. It is based on Josephus’ story. It is fictional narrative by Luke.

          Don’t forget that the account of Paul’s shipwreck in Acts is so similar to the account of Josephus’ shipwreck, one would think they were the same shipwreck.

          It takes a great bias for someone to say that the gospels describe the same event with all the differences between them yet deny that Luke’s accounts all through the part of his gospel that is not like the others and Acts has no literary attachment.

        • adam

          “Your bias is shown by highlighting the apparent similarities and dismissing the significant differences. ”

          You mean like the differences between the original Spiderman movies and The Amazing Spiderman moves?

        • Pofarmer

          Regarding 3) Josephus is known to exaggerate. He also reports a number for Jerusalem much larger than what it was. Also keep in mind Josephus was trying to pin the blame on the heretical sects.

        • Realist1234

          You mean Josephus wasnt reliable?!

        • rationalobservations?

          Not one single word written by Josephus survives and we only have forged and interpolated works written by anonymous scribes many centuries after Josephus lived and died.

          Josephus was born around the time the legendary “Jesus” is rumoured to have been executed. He wrote in mind numbing detail about any number of minor Roman officials and yet of Jesus and mythical “Nazareth” nothing authentic is recorded. The “Testimonium Flavianum” has been recognised as a clumsy interpolation for centuries.

          Despite the best wishes of sincere believers and the erroneous claims of truculent apologists, the Testimonium Flavianum has been demonstrated continually over the centuries to be a forgery, likely interpolated by Catholic Church historian Eusebius in the fourth century. So thorough and universal has been this debunking that very few scholars of repute continued to cite the passage after the turn of the 19th century. Indeed, the TF was rarely mentioned, except to note that it was a forgery, and numerous books by a variety of authorities over a period of 200 or so years basically took it for granted that the Testimonium Flavianum in its entirety was spurious, an interpolation and a forgery. As Dr. Gordon Stein relates:

          “…the vast majority of scholars since the early 1800s have said that this quotation is not by Josephus, but rather is a later Christian insertion in his works. In other words, it is a forgery, rejected by scholars.”

          So well understood was this fact of forgery that these numerous authorities did not spend their precious time and space rehashing the arguments against the TF’s authenticity. Nevertheless, in the past few decades apologists of questionable integrity and credibility have glommed onto the TF, because this short and dubious passage represents the most “concrete” secular, non-biblical reference to a man who purportedly shook up the world. In spite of the past debunking, the debate is currently confined to those who think the TF was original to Josephus but was Christianized, and those who credulously and self-servingly accept it as “genuine” in its entirety.

          To repeat, this passage was so completely dissected by scholars of high repute and standing–the majority of them pious Christians–that it was for decades understood by subsequent scholars as having been proved in toto a forgery, such that these succeeding scholars did not even mention it, unless to acknowledge it as false. (In addition to being repetitious, numerous quotes will be presented here, because a strong show of rational consensus is desperately needed when it comes to matters of blind, unscientific and irrational faith.) The scholars who so conclusively proved the TF a forgery made their mark at the end of the 18th century and into the 20th, when a sudden reversal was implemented, with popular opinion hemming and hawing its way back first to the “partial interpolation theory” and in recent times, among the third-rate apologists, to the notion that the whole TF is “genuine.” As Earl Doherty says, in “Josephus Unbound”:

          “Now, it is a curious fact that older generations of scholars had no trouble dismissing this entire passage as a Christian construction. Charles Guignebert, for example, in his Jesus (1956, p.17), calls it ‘a pure Christian forgery.’ Before him, Lardner, Harnack and Schurer, along with others, declared it entirely spurious. Today, most serious scholars have decided the passage is a mix: original parts rubbing shoulders with later Christian additions.”

          Bishop Rev. Nathaniel Lardner imageThe earlier scholarship that proved the entire TF to be fraudulent was determined by intense scrutiny by some of the most erudite, and mainly Christian, writers of the time, in a number of countries, their works written in a variety of languages, but particularly German, French and English. Their general conclusions, as elucidated by Christian authority Dr. Lardner, and related here by the author of Christian Mythology Unveiled (c. 1842), include the following reasons for doubting the authenticity of the TF as a whole:

          “Mattathias, the father of Josephus, must have been a witness to the miracles which are said to have been performed by Jesus, and Josephus was born within two years after the crucifixion, yet in all the works he says nothing whatever about the life or death of Jesus Christ; as for the interpolated passage it is now universally acknowledged to be a forgery. The arguments of the ‘Christian Ajax,’ even Lardner himself, against it are these: ‘It was never quoted by any of our Christian ancestors before Eusebius. It disturbs the narrative. The language is quite Christian. It is not quoted by Chrysostom, though he often refers to Josephus, and could not have omitted quoting it had it been then in the text. It is not quoted by Photius [9th century], though he has three articles concerning Josephus; and this author expressly states that this historian has not taken the least notice of Christ. Neither Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew; nor Clemens Alexandrinus, who made so many extracts from ancient authors; nor Origen against Celsus, have ever mentioned this testimony. But, on the contrary, in chap. 25th of the first book of that work, Origen openly affirms that Josephus, who had mentioned John the Baptist, did not acknowledge Christ. That this passage is a false fabrication is admitted by Ittigius, Blondel, Le Clerc, Vandale, Bishop Warburton, and Tanaquil Faber.’

          So Josephus may well have been honest and truthful. Unfortunately not a single word he wrote survives to judge him by.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Josephus Testimonium: Let’s Just Admit It’s Fake Already

          http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/7437

          Even Bart Ehrman has stated that the TF is useless in assisting with the historicity argument due to it’s lateness, that’s if one is going to be stupid enough to insist it has any veracity as Josephan, even in part.

        • rationalobservations?

          Are you answering the right entry, Amos?

          If you are; a simple “I totally agree with you that no extant example of the works of Josephus exists and all that are accredited to him are forgeries and fakes”.

          Thanks for the support. Even though I don’t really need it.

          “Josephus on Jesus. Forgery and fraud.”

          http://www.truthbeknown.com/josephus.htm

        • Ignorant Amos

          I was merely adding another example of current thinking.

        • rationalobservations?

          Thanks, Amos.

          Current thinking also includes the fact that faith cannot be challenged through logic and evidence for faith is not based upon logic and evidence – it is based upon fear, propaganda, superstition, wishful thinking and an infantile and almost psychotic personal need to believe.

          All demonstrated by those who consistently fail to validate or excuse their blind and unquestioning faith in magic and the existence of undetectablle and imaginary super-spooks within these columns.

        • Thanks for the support. Even though I don’t really need it.

          Got more doctorates than WLC? Very impressive. But, assuming you were answering the right entry, a simple, “Good point” or “Thanks” or “Yup!” or upvote would do.

        • rationalobservations?

          Good point, Bob.

        • Greg G.

          We don’t take everything he says as gospel.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You claim Christian scholars are biased. Do you really think atheist scholars arent?

          Then look to Christian scholars that are a lot less blinded by their bias.

          Yer man, Greg Boyd…an internationally recognized theologian, preacher, teacher, apologist and author. isn’t.

          But he does reference some scholars who are….

          F.C.Bauer

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferdinand_Christian_Baur

          Helmut Koester

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmut_Koester

          The fact of the matter is, the intermediate dating is the consensus and there is a growing regard for the late dating.

          “Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle”

          https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=MU2U08v6aq0C&pg=PA10&lpg=PA10&dq=scholars+date+luke+acts+late&source=bl&ots=EuF4Ea88Gf&sig=OM6V-jKpPJEJq6GbIL9XF7akmnw&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=scholars%20date%20luke%20acts%20late&f=false

        • Greg G.

          Do you really think atheist scholars arent?

          Atheists have one less bias.

          I am not a scholar but I have no bias about when the gospels were written besides where the evidence points. If there were good evidence that the gospels were written in 50BC, I’d go with that. If there were good evidence for the gospels coming from the fifth century AD, I’d go with that. When they were written doesn’t affect the genre they are in. That the miracle tales are drawn from other writings and the non-miracle tales are also drawn from other literature is evidence that they are fiction.

          The Matthean nativity has earmarks of using Anitiquities of the Jews while Luke has evidence of using Matthew, John, and Anitiquities of the Jews. Anitiquities of the Jews can be dated to the mid-90s. That probably pushes Luke into the early second century. There are many commonalities between John and Matthew but the only directional pointer is that the conundrum of John 7:41-42 of Jesus being a Galilean and the prophecies pointing to the messiah being descended from David and born in Bethlehem would have been a motivation to provide a genealogy and an explanation for the birthplace, but if John knew Matthew, the conundrum would be moot. If John used Matthew and Luke also used John, then Luke would certainly be second century.

        • Do you really think atheist scholars arent?

          Why would they have to be if an honest reading of the facts supports the atheist position?

        • Pofarmer

          Everyone knows that there are only atheists because of Satan, Bob. C’mon.

        • Shhh! Don’t reveal the Dark Lord’s secrets.

        • Greg G.

          From http://reknew.org/2007/12/is-the-book-of-acts-reliable/

          As I. H. Marshall has argued, Luke is both a theologian and a historian. Indeed, “Luke can be properly appreciated as a theologian only when it is recognized that he is also an historian.”

          Why do they think Luke was a good historian? Because he agrees with Josephus so much.

        • Realist1234

          He is a good historian regardless of Josephus.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…he really wasn’t, not even by the standards of his day. We don’t even know who he was fer fecks sake.

        • Realist1234

          Is that why Eduard Meyer, one of the 20th century’s most respected classical historians, said that Luke should be regarded as one of the greatest historians of classical antiquity on the basis of the evidence? E. Meyer, Ursprung und Anfange des Christentums, I (Stuggart; Berlin, 1921).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Oh…that’s it then, you tilt towards an authority from the beginning of the last century with the claim the author of Luke is one of the greatest historians of classical antiquity on the basis of evidence and cite a book…try posting some of the evidence. So brilliant an historian was the author of Luke/Acts that we don’t even know who, where, and when it was written. Nor is the source material used by the author cited. Those reasons alone are enough to call the claim that the author was one of the greatest historians of antiquity, a loada ballix. But it is worse than that.

          Matthew Ferguson lists ten bullet points in his piece as to why the gospel authors can be seen to not be doing history.

          The Gospels, in contrast, are not historical biographies but hagiographies written in unquestioning praise of their messianic subject. As a good representation of the scholarly consensus about the aims of the Gospels, the Oxford Annotated Bible (pg. 1744) explains, “Neither the evangelists nor their first readers engaged in historical analysis. Their aim was to confirm Christian faith.” Such works, written for an audience of converts, are not chiefly concerned with being critical or investigative, but rather serve the religious agendas and ideologies of the communities that produced them.

          Conclusion:

          The main point to take away from my analysis of the criteria above is that the Gospels certainly do not measure up to the high historiography and historical biographies of antiquity. Many of my Classics professors who specialize in such texts, when they read the Gospels, comment on how much more rudimentary and story-like their narratives are compared to the researched and analytical characteristics of historical writing. Even Luke only has a few brief lines at the beginning that mimic historical prose, before jumping into pure hagiography like the other Gospels.

          Ancient historical texts are some of my favorite works from antiquity for their sophisticated writing style, elaborate research, and intellectual rigor in investigating past events. I cannot say the same for the Gospels, although I do think they provide interesting symbolism and allegories as novels, and are also complex works of religious scripture. analyzing the Gospels under the historiographical criteria that I discuss above, however, they must be placed in a different literary genre than the actual historical works of antiquity.

          A final note about modern historical criticism is that such authors of ancient historical prose, who demonstrate their research, have independent corroboration, discuss their methodology, and reach conclusions through critical investigation, should generally be trusted, until proven otherwise. In contrast, ancient novels and religious texts, such as the Gospels, that are packed full of legends and religious propaganda, should not be given the benefit of the doubt, until there is good reason for overcoming their overall unreliability in order to trust a specific detail. I do think that there are some precious kernels of truth in the Gospels, but given their overall lack of critical analysis and the creative liberties taken by their authors, I do not think that we can take many of their stories at face value.

          https://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/ancient-historical-writing-compared-to-the-gospels-of-the-new-testament/

        • Why? Because Luke tracks Josephus? Maybe Luke was written later.

        • Greg G.

          That’s why I wrote “Why do they think Luke was a good historian? Because he agrees with Josephus so much.”

          Even Boyd wrote “especially Josephus.”

        • Realist1234

          Did I misunderstand? I thought you were asserting that Luke simply copied from Josephus. Holding that view does not make Luke a good historian, just a good copier. Clearly I reject that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “More than any other Gospel writer, Luke includes references to the non-Christian world of affairs. Almost every incident of this kind that he mentions turns up somewhere in Josephus’ narratives.”– Steve Mason

          “Luke almost certainly knew and drew upon the works of Josephus (or else an amazing series of coincidences remains in want of an explanation), and therefore Luke and Acts were written at the end of the 1st century, or perhaps the beginning of the 2nd. This also results in the realization that almost every famous person, institution, place or event mentioned in L[uke/Acts] that can be checked against other sources is also found in Josephus, so that efforts to prove the veracity of L[uke/Acts] by appealing to these checks is cut short by the fact that he appears to have gotten all this information from Josephus, and simply cut-and-pasted it into his own “history” in order to give his story an air of authenticity and realism. He could thus, for all we know, have been writing historical fiction–using real characters and places, and putting them in fictional situations, all dressed up as history–history with a message, and an apologetic purpose. We thus cannot really know what in L[uke/Acts] is true or false with regard to the origins of Christianity or the actions of early Christians, since these particular details are the most prone to manipulation for didactic, symbolic, politico-ecclesiastical and apologetic reasons, and have very little if any external corroboration (and no external corroboration from a non-Christian).” ~ Richard Carrier.

        • Realist1234

          And yet in his book, Steve Mason states, “Neither position (Luke borrowed from Josephus or vice-versa) has much of a following today, because of the significant differences between the two works in their accounts of the same events.” SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES. So even one of the main authors who try to push this admit its flimsy and few scholars today believe it!

          As for Carrier, are you seriously quoting him?!

          Ill quote another commentator’s opinion (Frank Luke):

          ‘Did Luke Use Josephuss

          This questions relies almost entirely on Theudas and Judas the Galilean being mentioned in both works (Acts 5:36-37; Josephus Antiquities 20:97-99, 102). It also hinges on a second-century dating of Luke-Acts. If Luke is written earlier, say pre AD 64, then Luke could not have used Josephus.

          There are other considerations before we discuss the date of Luke-Acts, however. Luke and Josephus do not report the same order of events and the datings of the uprisings are not the same. With such differences, some are concluding that these are not the same events or that one of the two authors is mistaken.

          So if Luke used Josephus, then he changed the order of events because he did not trust Josephus on this point. If Luke does not trust Josephus on the order, why even use him as a source? Instead if one argues that Luke is in the wrong here, then one would have to show that such errors are common in Luke-Acts. However, Luke-Acts shows just the opposite. Whenever people in Luke-Acts can be established in history, Luke-Acts has them in the right place, at the right time, and with the right title. There are even times when the spelling of a person’s name changes slightly depending on if the name was spoken by a Greek or a Jew (e.g. a Greek will call him “Simon” while a Jew will call him “Simeon”). Luke shows many times that he is a very meticulous writer.

          Dating Luke-Acts Pre AD 64

          But there is yet another obstacle for those who claim Luke uses Josephus. Why are there only a handful of similarities? If Luke had access to Antiquities 18 and 20, then it is reasonable to assume he had access to others. However, even though Luke and Josephus are covering the same time in history, they do not share many events. For instance, Josephus not only mentions the destruction of the Temple, but his account is the only eyewitness account of the tragedy we have (Wars of the Jews 5, 6, and 7). However, even though Luke places a high emphasis on Jerusalem and the Temple in his two-volume work, he leaves out the defining event of Judaism in the first century.

          Second, Luke shows several Christians under persecution and giving the ultimate for their faith. However, he leaves out the persecution of Nero from 64-67 and the death of James by the Jewish authorities. Josephus mentions James in the “Testimonium Flavium,” Antiquities 20:9.1

          Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned:

          Luke is familiar with James, indeed James plays a significant role at the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. That Luke would have skipped James showing his faith in Christ to the death when he does show others doing so is unthinkable if Luke is written in the second century as the Josephus Dependency theory requires. Also, this comes from the same book of Josephus that Luke is supposed to have used for the minor event of a few rebel names. Yet he skips it for an important event such as the martyrdom of the brother of Jesus Christ.

          In Acts, the two major Christian figures are Paul and Peter, who both gave their all for Christ, a fact which Luke leaves out. Acts ends with Paul preaching freely in Rome, there for an appeal to Ceasar. If the late date of Luke is accurate, this omission of martyrs is unthinkable. In the second century, the church held the martyrs in extremely high regard. For instance, the Epistle of Plycarp and the Letter of Ignatius both speak highly of martyrs. Luke does too, but only those who were killed before 64. In fact, Stephen (Acts 7) and James the Less (Acts 12) were killed in Jerusalem, the same place where James the Just was martyred. Even though Luke spends considerable time and details on Jerusalem and its church, he leaves out the very important event of James’ death.

          As Luke portrays events in Acts, Christianity is still tolerated by the Romans, relations that rapidly declined beginning in 64. Wayne Guthrie states “Luke is at pains to demonstrate the impartiality of the imperial officials regarding Christianity. In no case is it the Roman officials who persecute the Church…the cause of persecution against the Church is in every case the intrigues of the Jews” (p. 344; cf. also F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988p. 6; A.N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963, pp. 144-63, 172-89). In fact, Luke seems to feel that his work will take Christians from tolerated to accepted by the Empire.

          Another factor against a late date is the amount of time Luke spends on the events of AD 58-60. As Stanley Horton points out, it is almost as if those events have just happened. Josephus, likewise, spends an large amount of time on events that were most recent. For instance, the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, which Josephus witnessed, covers three volumes of Wars of the Jews.

          Along with other facts that could be mentioned, it is perhaps most surprising that Luke uses Hebrew idioms often and correctly. For a native Greek speaker, this is very unnatural. To construct and use correctly such a large number of idioms is not only surprising but goes against Luke’s goal of showing the universality of the Gospel. However, if Luke still had access to native speakers and eyewitness of the events of Luke and Acts such works perfectly. Given the average life span and the need for a healthy Jewish-Christianity flourishing in the Land for Luke to accomplish all the above, we conclude that Luke wrote Acts prior to AD 64.’

        • Greg G.

          And yet in his book, Steve Mason states, “Neither position (Luke borrowed from Josephus or vice-versa) has much of a following today, because of the significant differences between the two works in their accounts of the same events.” SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES. So even one of the main authors who try to push this admit its flimsy and few scholars today believe it!

          Nearly all New Testament scholars were instilled with a belief in a historical Jesus before they went to school. Few have ever thought to question the idea. Following the evidence that Luke used Josephus would require a thought outside the box.

          This questions relies almost entirely on Theudas and Judas the Galilean being mentioned in both works (Acts 5:36-37; Josephus Antiquities 20:97-99, 102). It also hinges on a second-century dating of Luke-Acts. If Luke is written earlier, say pre AD 64, then Luke could not have used Josephus.

          You know the question does not rely solely on Theudas and Judas the Galilean. I have presented many other smoking guns and there are dozens more coincidences that form a pattern you cannot explain.

          If Luke copied from Josephus, then you can forget about the 64AD date. Matthew appears to have used Antiquites of the Jews, too, and Luke seems to have also used Matthew, so Luke is most likely no earlier than the early second century.

          There are other considerations before we discuss the date of Luke-Acts, however. Luke and Josephus do not report the same order of events and the datings of the uprisings are not the same. With such differences, some are concluding that these are not the same events or that one of the two authors is mistaken.

          Luke does not always use Josephus that way. He picks and chooses things he can turn into fiction, similar to the way he uses passages from Mark and Matthew in chapters 10 through 17 where he was following Moses’ trip in Deuteronomy for Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem. Those passages are used according to topic, not their order in the other gospels. Luke also makes errors in his reading of Josephus.

          So if Luke used Josephus, then he changed the order of events because he did not trust Josephus on this point. If Luke does not trust Josephus on the order, why even use him as a source? Instead if one argues that Luke is in the wrong here, then one would have to show that such errors are common in Luke-Acts. However, Luke-Acts shows just the opposite. Whenever people in Luke-Acts can be established in history, Luke-Acts has them in the right place, at the right time, and with the right title. There are even times when the spelling of a person’s name changes slightly depending on if the name was spoken by a Greek or a Jew (e.g. a Greek will call him “Simon” while a Jew will call him “Simeon”). Luke shows many times that he is a very meticulous writer.

          We know this because he copied Josephus so much. Luke probably had other sources, too, but we don’t have copies of them to see how much alike they are. There are several passages that point to Euripides’ Bacchae.

          But there is yet another obstacle for those who claim Luke uses Josephus. Why are there only a handful of similarities? If Luke had access to Antiquities 18 and 20, then it is reasonable to assume he had access to others. However, even though Luke and Josephus are covering the same time in history, they do not share many events.

          Your hands must be yuuuuge if you call dozens of similarities a handful. AJ 17 is mostly the first century BC. One of the first events in AJ 18 is the census, which Luke starts off with. The AJ 18 to 20 covers the same period as Luke and Acts. AJ 2 covers Moses. Therefore, we should not be surpised if Luke uses the first century parts of Antiquities more than those covering the BC era.

          However, see Acts 2:1-13 which seems to be a reversal of the Tower of Babel story. Acts 2:2-3 seems to be based on Euripides Bacchae which has “curls of flame that do not burn” and the rushing wind that allows speaking other languages appears to come from Antiquities of the Jews 1.4.3 where Josephus says he is quoting the Sibylline Oracles.

          For instance, Josephus not only mentions the destruction of the Temple, but his account is the only eyewitness account of the tragedy we have (Wars of the Jews 5, 6, and 7). However, even though Luke places a high emphasis on Jerusalem and the Temple in his two-volume work, he leaves out the defining event of Judaism in the first century.

          There are passages in Mark that make me think he might have used Jewish Wars but the pattern is nowhere near as obvious as the pattern of Luke’s use of Antiquities and Life.

          Second, Luke shows several Christians under persecution and giving the ultimate for their faith. However, he leaves out the persecution of Nero from 64-67 and the death of James by the Jewish authorities. Josephus mentions James in the “Testimonium Flavium,” Antiquities 20.9.1

          Luke may have had an earlier version of AJ from before “the brother of the one called Christ” was interpolated into it so he would not have had a reason to associate that James with any other Jesus than the one mentioned in the next sentence, “Jesus bar Damneus”.

          Luke is familiar with James, indeed James plays a significant role at the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15.

          Luke likely invented the Jerusalem council from Galatians 2:2, “though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders”.

          In Acts, the two major Christian figures are Paul and Peter, who both gave their all for Christ, a fact which Luke leaves out. Acts ends with Paul preaching freely in Rome, there for an appeal to Ceasar. If the late date of Luke is accurate, this omission of martyrs is unthinkable.

          The martyrdoms are campfire tales when each second century church tried to come up with a noble death for their favorite saint. Some had two deaths in different countries from different sources. Luke may not have known what happened to Peter and Paul after reaching the end of Paul’s letters available to him.

          In fact, Stephen (Acts 7) and James the Less (Acts 12) were killed in Jerusalem, the same place where James the Just was martyred. Even though Luke spends considerable time and details on Jerusalem and its church, he leaves out the very important event of James’ death.

          It has been suggested that the death of Stephen could be based on the death of James in Antiquities 20.9.1. I’m skeptical but I haven’t looked closely at that one.

          As Luke portrays events in Acts, Christianity is still tolerated by the Romans, relations that rapidly declined beginning in 64. Wayne Guthrie states “Luke is at pains to demonstrate the impartiality of the imperial officials regarding Christianity. In no case is it the Roman officials who persecute the Church…the cause of persecution against the Church is in every case the intrigues of the Jews” (p. 344; cf. also F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988p. 6; A.N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963, pp. 144-63, 172-89). In fact, Luke seems to feel that his work will take Christians from tolerated to accepted by the Empire.

          Luke and Acts end before then. He ends Acts when he runs out of material from Paul’s epistles.

          Another factor against a late date is the amount of time Luke spends on the events of AD 58-60.

          Or it is just when Paul’s letters run out.

          Along with other facts that could be mentioned, it is perhaps most surprising that Luke uses Hebrew idioms often and correctly.

          Do you have a list of these? I’m am interested to see them.

          For a native Greek speaker, this is very unnatural. To construct and use correctly such a large number of idioms is not only surprising but goes against Luke’s goal of showing the universality of the Gospel. However, if Luke still had access to native speakers and eyewitness of the events of Luke and Acts such works perfectly. Given the average life span and the need for a healthy Jewish-Christianity flourishing in the Land for Luke to accomplish all the above, we conclude that Luke wrote Acts prior to AD 64.’

          Or maybe Luke knew a Jew. They were spread all over.

        • As for Carrier, are you seriously quoting him?!

          He has a doctorate in history from Columbia, and he’s writing about history. Where’s the problem?

        • Ignorant Amos

          And yet in his book, Steve Mason states, “Neither position (Luke borrowed from Josephus or vice-versa) has much of a following today, because of the significant differences between the two works in their accounts of the same events.” SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES. So even one of the main authors who try to push this admit its flimsy and few scholars today believe it!

          Is Mason saying that there isn’t much of a following for the thesis, or that the parallels don’t exist regardless of the dissimilarities? What is Mason’s position? What day is it he is talking about? When he, Mason, was writing his book, 1992? Or this day today?

          Interested readers will want to study Josephus themselves for fuller extracts. They will also want to read some of the many scholarly works on this subject. An excellent place to start is Steve Mason’s Josephus and the New Testament, which discusses more fully the parallels and provides many original observations and analyses.

          http://josephus.org/ntparallels.htm

          The fact of the matter is, there are similarities that are not easily hand waved off. There are scholars at one extreme, early dating, and scholars at the other extreme, late dating…and a consensus, mid dating…all have arguments and no one has the slam dunk. Some have more reason for bias than others.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As for Carrier, are you seriously quoting him?!

          Why not? He has a doctorate in the relevant field, is peer-reviewed, and published in journals and books. He also has some very valid arguments.

          Remember what those are? Valid arguments?

        • Ignorant Amos

          ‘Did Luke Use Josephuss

          This questions relies almost entirely on Theudas and Judas the Galilean being mentioned in both works (Acts 5:36-37; Josephus Antiquities 20:97-99, 102).

          No, it really doesn’t.

          It also hinges on a second-century dating of Luke-Acts. If Luke is written earlier, say pre AD 64, then Luke could not have used Josephus.

          Duh! That is one of the reasons a late dating of Luke is preferred by many scholars. If the author of Luke plagiarised Josephus, then a late date is confirmed. Not the only one mind you.

          A growing number of scholars prefer a late date for the composition of Acts, i.e., c. 110-120 CE.3 Three factors support such a date. First, Acts seems to be unknown before the last half of the second century. Second, compelling arguments can be made that the author of Acts was acquainted with some materials written by Josephus, who completed his Antiquities of the Jews in 93-94 CE. If the author of Acts knew of some pieces from this document, he could not have written his book before that date. Third, recent studies have revised the judgment that the author of Acts was unaware of the Pauline letters. Convincing arguments have been made especially in the case of Galatians by scholars who are convinced that the author of Acts not only knew this Pauline letter but regarded it as a problem and wrote to subvert it.4 They especially call attention to the verbal and ideational similarities between Acts 15 and Galatians 2 and show how the dif-ferences may be intended to create a distance between Paul and some of his later interpreters and critics. ~ By Joseph B. Tyson
          Professor emeritus of Religious Studies Southern Methodist University

          http://www.bibleinterp.com/opeds/actapo358006.shtml#sdendnote3sym

        • Greg G.

          Third, recent studies have revised the judgment that the author of Acts was unaware of the Pauline letters.

          That is what I was getting at @ http://disq.us/p/1fsaqo3 when I wrote “Or it is just when Paul’s letters run out.” I see books and papers on the voyages of Paul based on his epistles, the pseudo-epistles, and Acts. I suspect Acts was based on the epistles and pseudo-epistles with Luke filling in the gaps while writing Acts than those who reconstruct the travels using Acts. When the epistles run out, he steals Josephus’ shipwreck story and probably some drama play or written story about a shipwreck. Acts was written about the other apostles, Peter, and Paul but also to draw parallels between Peter and Paul.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I really don’t see what the problem is on this issue.

          Perhaps an analogy might help Realist1234.

          Let’s say I decided to write a book today about U.S. Army generals during WW2, with particular focus on General Patton, but all I know about them and him and there surroundings, is only available from some of Patton’s published letters [epistles], and an account of things of that time by a sympathiser of National Socialism [Josephus] chronicling like me, today. Why would I write about things that happened after Patton was killed in that car crash? Why would I be overly concerned about the minutiae in details or order of events, if they were not pertinent to the purpose of my writing my book? Why would I mention the U.S. dropping of the bomb on Japan a few months before Patton’s death, or the Korean War 5 years later? Luke wasn’t interested in world affairs of the time, he was interested in the exploits of a particular messenger, say Patton [Paul] and how he impacted on U.S. policy [Christianity] in his European area of operation [Mediterranean basin] in his contemporary world. My book ends with Patton’s [Paul’s] death. I’m writing 77 years after the events in 2017. Maybe I’ll start a third book continuing the story, maybe I won’t get the chance through illness or death. Maybe I’ll write the book but it’ll get lost. This ain’t rocket science.

        • Greg G.

          That is a great analogy.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Still a waste of time with this one.

        • Greg G.

          Ya never know. A foundational support can be undercut but the belief can be supported by other supports. But six months from now, he could notice something causing another support to crumble and the whole shebang will collapse in a flash of reason.

        • Realist1234

          As Ive repeatedly said, I see little evidence for such late dating of Luke/Acts. As you admit yourself, one of the main arguments for that view is the belief that Luke used Josephus’ Antiquities etc, thus pushing Luke/Acts into the 2nd century. But as Ive also shown, the conclusion that Luke used Josephus is unfounded, given the significant differences between the 2 writings. It seems that some, because of their bias against an early dating of the New Testament documents because they want them as far removed as possible from the events they describe, will grasp at straws to confirm their bias.

          Re the good Prof’s comments,

          – was Acts really ‘unknown’ before the last half of the 2nd century? Scholars such as Hartog, Schoedel and Herding believe Luke/Acts is referenced in Polycarp’s letters, which are dated to around AD 120. And of course Luke/Acts are included in the earliest list of NT documents around AD 170, showing they were viewed as Scripture. I would also point out that Acts should not be separated from Luke’s Gospel as it is simply a continuation of his Gospel, a 2nd letter effectively, written to the same person. I suspect there was a short period of time between the writing of the two.

          – I would agree that Luke probably was aware of at least some of Paul’s letters, given that they were at one time travelling companions. Though having said that, there is no conclusive evidence of either position – we need to remember that Paul’s letters were primarily letters to specific individual churches for specific reasons. One could argue there is no particular reason why Luke would have had sight of them. But its open to debate. But if he was, as this Prof asserts, this would not mean a late dating of Luke/Acts, as Galatians for example is dated by most scholars to late AD 40s or AD 50s. That would fit well with the view that Luke/Acts were completed by around AD 64.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t really think you should be lecturing about bias. Lol.

        • Realist1234

          lol Fair point. In the end, noone is truly unbiased in these matters. Am I ‘lecturing’?! oh dear.

        • Acts is a different genre than Luke (acts vs. gospel), which may explain why scholars see them independently.

          I see little evidence for such late dating of Luke/Acts.

          it’s really not that big a deal. Date Luke to 50 if you want to–you’ve still got decades of oral history and a book full of the supernatural. It looks no more likely a history than dating it to 90.

        • Realist1234

          ‘it’s really not that big a deal.’ – so much so that you started this blog post on the subject, trying to assert late dating. Slight contradiction there.

          ‘and a book full of the supernatural. It looks no more likely a history than dating it to 90.’

          – thats the problem, because you reject the supernatural you therefore automatically reject the Gospels and Acts as historical because they report supernatural events.

        • adam

          ” thats the problem, because you reject the supernatural ”

          Not a problem, the default position for adults https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8b598571f4bd7f5b61e891132b8ee0da5dd875b77674a7e19a2b719b3119cc5b.jpg is disbelief in MAGIC…

        • ‘it’s really not that big a deal.’ – so much so that you started this blog post on the subject, trying to assert late dating. Slight contradiction there.

          You’re ignoring my challenge to you. You say that if you can reduce the time gap from events to documentation from 60 years to 20, you’ve now got a strong historical case? Show me.

          because you reject the supernatural you therefore automatically reject the Gospels and Acts as historical because they report supernatural events.

          You imagine that I reject the supernatural as a presupposition? You imagine wrong. I’m happy to consider supernatural claims. You have any convincing ones?

        • Ignorant Amos

          – thats the problem, because you reject the supernatural you therefore automatically reject the Gospels and Acts as historical because they report supernatural events.

          Do you reject the supernatural accounts of all other books, religious or not? Of course you don’t. And why? Bias, hypocrisy, and double standards, are a good starting points.

          At least Bob and the rest of us are consistently refusing to accept non evidenced supernatural mumbo jumbo across the board. Not you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And for that reason alone it isn’t “we” who have the bias. It doesn’t matter one bit an earlier date, other than to give a bit more accuracy to the chronology of the texts, not the veracity of the contents. The fact remains, conservative scholars and those with a religious bias tilt to the earlier dating. The majority of scholars go down the middle. And the rest take the late date. No one is changing their position and ebbing more to the early date through a review of the evidence, yet more and more scholars appear to be punting to the later dates for that reason.

          A growing number of scholars prefer a late date for the composition of Acts, i.e., c. 110-120 CE. – The most comprehensive recent proposal for a late date of Acts is that of Richard I. Pervo, Dating Acts: Between the Evangelists and the Apologists (Santa Rosa, Calif.: Polebridge Press, 2006).

          http://www.bibleinterp.com/opeds/actapo358006.shtml#sdfootnote3sym

        • Ignorant Amos

          As Ive repeatedly said, I see little evidence for such late dating of Luke/Acts.

          Yes I know you have. But repeating it isn’t going to change the fact that your position is currently the minority one and you have offered diddly squat to change that position with anyone here. At least as far as I’m aware.

          As you admit yourself, one of the main arguments for that view is the belief that Luke used Josephus’ Antiquities etc, thus pushing Luke/Acts into the 2nd century.

          Yes I have, but it is not the only one.

          But as Ive also shown, the conclusion that Luke used Josephus is unfounded, given the significant differences between the 2 writings.

          You think you have shown it, you haven’t…nor has the scholars taking the early dating of Luke either.

          It seems that some, because of their bias against an early dating of the New Testament documents because they want them as far removed as possible from the events they describe, will grasp at straws to confirm their bias.

          That’s a loada ballix. It is more out of interest to me than anything else. I couldn’t give a fuck if the gospels were written contemporary to the 30’s CE…fiction will be fiction. Supernatural mumbo jumbo is still supernatural mumbo jumbo. You don’t believe that supernatural mumbo jumbo that Joseph Smith pedaled and he got eyewitness affidavits.

          The Three Witnesses were a group of three early leaders of the Latter Day Saint movement who wrote in a statement of 1830 that an angel had shown them the golden plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and that they had heard God’s voice testifying that the book had been translated by the power of God.

          The Three Witnesses were Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer, whose joint testimony, in conjunction with a separate statement by Eight Witnesses, has been printed with nearly every edition of the Book of Mormon since its first publication in 1830.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Mormon_witnesses

          Christianity has nothing remotely like that…so you need to grasp this wee part of the discussion.

          You are the one left holding the baby. My non belief in any gods doesn’t hinge on the dating of the gospels. It’s much bigger than that let me tell ya. The late dating is your problem not mine. As to an early dating…so what…it’s of no more than interest to me…so pah to that.

          – was Acts really ‘unknown’ before the last half of the 2nd century? Scholars such as Hartog, Schoedel and Herding believe Luke/Acts is referenced in Polycarp’s letters, which are dated to around AD 120. And of course Luke/Acts are included in the earliest list of NT documents around AD 170, showing they were viewed as Scripture. I would also point out that Acts should not be separated from Luke’s Gospel as it is simply a continuation of his Gospel, a 2nd letter effectively, written to the same person. I suspect there was a short period of time between the writing of the two.

          None of which helps you with a latest dating of 63 CE.

          – I would agree that Luke probably was aware of at least some of Paul’s letters, given that they were at one time travelling companions.

          No, they were not. The works attributed to the name Luke got the name because there was an assumption that the author must have been the physician that was a one time travelling companion of Paul, but this is where your own argument could jump up and bite you on the arse. The dissimilarities between Luke and Paul are just too great for that to be the case.

          Though having said that, there is no conclusive evidence of either position – we need to remember that Paul’s letters were primarily letters to specific individual churches for specific reasons. One could argue there is no particular reason why Luke would have had sight of them. But its open to debate. But if he was, as this Prof asserts, this would not mean a late dating of Luke/Acts, as Galatians for example is dated by most scholars to late AD 40s or AD 50s. That would fit well with the view that Luke/Acts were completed by around AD 64.

          There is a big difference as to when a letter was written and as to when it had become widely copied and circulated as a document of faith so someone else was able to get a hold of it and use it with confidence. I think that is another problem for your position.

          The eclipse of the traditional attribution to Luke the companion of Paul has meant that an early date for the gospel is now rarely put forward. Most experts date the composition of the combined work to around 80-90 AD, although some suggest 90-110, and there is evidence, both textual (the conflicts between Western and Alexandrian manuscript families) and from the Marcionite controversy (Marcion was a 2nd-century heretic who produced his own version of Christian scripture based on Luke’s gospel and Paul’s epistles) that Luke-Acts was still being substantially revised well into the 2nd century.

        • Realist1234

          ‘That’s a loada ballix. It is more out of interest to me than anything else. I couldn’t give a fuck if the gospels were written contemporary to the 30’s CE…fiction will be fiction. Supernatural mumbo jumbo is still supernatural mumbo jumbo.’

          – You may not care if the Gospels were written in the AD 30s, 40s etc or the 2nd century, but you are the exception rather than the rule in atheist circles. ‘Contemporary’ records are always being raised as an objection to Christianity.

          – Re ‘supernatural mumbo jumbo’ youre mindset that simply refuses to consider the possibility means we will never agree, but that doesnt mean I am the deluded one.

          – Re Joseph Smith’s ‘witnesses’ (pl read all of this, you might be enlightened):

          ‘While Smith claimed to discover a very large, heavy set of plates (estimated to weigh over 200 pounds), none of the people who helped him translate the plates appear to have ever actually seen the plates with their own eyes. When Smith moved to Pennsylvania with his wife, Emma, in October of 1827, they brought a wooden box Smith said contained the golden plates. They stayed with Emma’s parents at the time, but Joseph refused to show Emma or her parents the plates. As a result, Emma’s father refused to let Joseph store the box in his house. Smith then hid the box in the surrounding woods. Joseph claimed he could translate the plates without having them physically present, so this hidden location did not inhibit his activity in writing the Book of Mormon. Several people assisted Joseph in the translation process, including Emma, Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery (Smith’s third cousin) and David Witmer, but no one appears to have actually seen the plates during this process.

          In April of 1828, Martin Harris’ wife became suspicious of the fact that her husband had not yet seen the plates and she demanded to see them. Smith once again refused. This ultimately led to a loss of 116 pages of the original transcript (more on that later). Martin Harris demanded to see the plates in March of 1829, many months into the translation process; Harris had yet to see the plates he was supposedly helping translate. Smith told Harris he “would go into the wood where the Book of Plates was, and that after he came back, Harris should follow his tracks in the snow, and find the Book, and examine it for himself”. Harris attempted to do this but never found the plates as Joseph had described. The next day, Smith coincidentally dictated a portion of the golden plates directed specifically at Harris. This new portion of the translation said Harris would eventually qualify to be one of three witnesses who would eventually see the plates. This prophecy from the plates seemed to pacify Harris for a time.

          By June of 1829, Smith finally had to leave the town where he was staying with Emma’s parents. Local residents were becoming suspicious about Smith’s activity with the plates, so Joseph left to live with David Whitmer and his parents in Fayette, New York. Smith said the angel Moroni transported the plates to this new location and placed them in the Whitmer family garden; Joseph completed the translation at the Whitmer home. While here, Harris, Whitmer and Cowdery pressed Smith to see the plates and Joseph told them they would have to rely on God’s word and if they did this with a full purpose of heart they would have a “view of the plates, and also the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim… and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi.” In other words, Smith told these three men they would only see the plates if their faith was strong.

          The three men then went out into the woods with Smith, stopped at some point and began to pray. When the plates were not revealed, they prayed harder. When this did not help, Martin Harris offered to leave the group, worried that his doubt was the reason the plates were not being revealed. As soon as he left, the remaining two men had a vision of an angel and the plates (but not the other items Joseph had described). Smith then left the men to find Harris and told Harris about their visions. Harris prayed again with Smith and Harris eventually cried out “’Tis enough, ‘tis enough; mine eyes have beheld; mine eyes have beheld.” (All this according to Joseph Smith’s History of the Church).

          While the Mormon Church often portrays these critical three witnesses as trustworthy and reliable, history seems to indicate something different. Oliver Cowdery was eventually excommunicated from the Church after exposing Smith’s first polygamous relationship to Fanny Alger. Smith described Cowdery as a thief, liar, perjurer, counterfeiter, adulterer and leader of “scoundrels of the deepest degree”. Cowdery later became a Methodist and denied the Book of Mormon altogether and publicly confessed his “sorrow and Shame” for having any connection with Mormonism.

          Martin Harris was a member of 5 different religious groups before becoming a Mormon, and he was part of eight different groups after leaving Mormonism. He was also excommunicated from the Mormon Church and later reported that he did not see the plates as Smith described, but only saw the plates three days after Cowdery and Whitmer and then only in a spiritual sense:

          “I never saw the gold plates, only in a visionary or entranced state. …In about three days I went into the woods to pray that I might see the plates. While praying I passed into a state of entrancement, and in that state I saw the angel and the plates.” (Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70-71).

          David Whitmer was also excommunicated from the Church and later declared he was himself a prophet of the New Church of Christ. Joseph called him a “dumb beast to ride” and an “ass to bray out coursings instead of blessings”. Whitmer later admitted he saw the plates “by the eye of faith” rather than with his physical eyes and he waffled between three varying accounts of how he saw the plates.’ from Cold Case Christianity.

          – Why on earth people would believe these ‘witnesses’ is beyond me. Funny how Mormonism never tells you the above.

          ‘As to an early dating…so what…it’s of no more than interest to me…so pah to that.’

          – one wonders, then,why you are bothering posting on a blog about the dating of the Gospels.

          ‘None of which helps you with a latest dating of 63 CE’.

          – I wasnt arguing it did. It was in response to the assertion that Acts had not been ‘heard of’ before the last half of the 2nd century.

          ‘No, they were not. The works attributed to the name Luke got the name because there was an assumption that the author must have been the physician that was a one time travelling companion of Paul,’

          – youre simply assuming an assumption.

          ‘There is a big difference as to when a letter was written and as to when it had become widely copied and circulated as a document of faith so someone else was able to get a hold of it and use it with confidence.’

          – are you saying 10- 15 years is not long enough for this?!

        • adam

          ” ‘Contemporary’ records are always being raised as an objection to Christianity.”

          Well when christianity likes to claim that they have the written “Word of God”, and such god didnt even protect its own text it is an issue. AND left no original references.

          Though MUCH, MUCH, MUCH smaller than the claims of MAGIC, at least for me as an athest.

          ” but that doesnt mean I am the deluded one.”

          Sorry, but belief in MAGIC is delusional.
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3d5d4a2909d67c62c518e6574ff1a0b42f6295b335ae8fd4039f6f765cefb813.jpg

        • adam

          ” Why on earth people would believe these ‘witnesses’ is beyond me. ”

          And yet, you believe in a STORY where there are no documented witnesses.

          And you believe in the CHARACTER of the STORY about witnesses, who didnt even see the MAGIC being performed.

          How on earth can you claim to believe in such MAGIC?

        • The statement of the three witnesses says, in part: “we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record.”

          And keep in mind that the time gap from events to documentation drops to zero in the case of Joseph Smith’s decoding the meaning of the plates and writing it down. You sure you still want to argue that a small time gap tells us that the document is historically accurate?

          Take the typical issues that Christians argue to show that the New Testament is reliable, and the Mormon story beats it on every single point.

        • Realist1234

          ‘we..have seen the plates which contain this record.’

          – except they DIDNT as they later admitted. All lies, perpetuated by Smith.

        • Ignorant Amos

          – except they DIDNT as they later admitted.

          Even if they DID, the Devil made them do it.

          That was easy…this apologetics Malarkey is a bit of a gift.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You need to stop drinking up all the Kool-Aid propaganda, it is making you look silly.

          Cowdery never recanted his eyewitness testimony. He returned to the Mormon Church and was re-baptised.

          “Jacob, I want you to remember what I say to you. I am a dying man, and what would it profit me to tell you a lie? I know,” said he, “that this Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God. My eyes saw, my ears heard, and my understanding was touched, and I know that whereof I testified is true. It was no dream, no vain imagination of the mind—it was real”. ~ Scott H. Faulring, The Return of Oliver Cowdery, Maxwell Institute; Gates, Jacob F. (March 1912). “Testimony of Jacob Gates”. Improvement Era 15. p. 92.

          Harris never recanted his eyewitness testimony even though dissenters claimed he did. He returned to the Mormon Church and was re-baptised.

          At the end of his life, Harris responded when he was asked if he still believed in Smith and the Book of Mormon: “Do I believe it! Do you see the sun shining! Just as surely as the sun is shining on us and gives us light, and the [moon] and stars give us light by night, just as surely as the breath of life sustains us, so surely do I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, chosen of God to open the last dispensation of the fulness of times; so surely do I know that the Book of Mormon was divinely translated. I saw the plates; I saw the Angel; I heard the voice of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. I might as well doubt my own existence as to doubt the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon or the divine calling of Joseph Smith.”

          On his death bed, Harris said: “The Book of Mormon is no fake. I know what I know. I have seen what I have seen and I have heard what I have heard. I have seen the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon is written. An angel appeared to me and others and testified to the truthfulness of the record, and had I been willing to have perjured myself and sworn falsely to the testimony I now bear I could have been a rich man, but I could not have testified other than I have done and am now doing for these things are true.” ~Martin Harris on his death bed. Cited by George Godfrey, “Testimony of Martin Harris,” from an unpublished manuscript copy in the possession of his descendants, quoted in Eldin Ricks, The Case of the Book of Mormon Witnesses [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1971], 65–66.

          Whitmer never recanted his eyewitness testimony either.

          “It having been represented by one John Murphy, of Polo, Caldwell County, Mo., that I, in a conversation with him last summer, denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the BOOK OF MORMON. To the end, therefore, that he may understand me now, if he did not then; and that the world may know the truth, I wish now, standing as it were, in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once for all to make this public statement: That I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that Book, as one of the three witnesses. Those who know me best, well know that I have always adhered to that testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do again affirm the truth of all of my statements, as then made and published. He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear; it was no delusion!”

          In regards to my testimony to the visitation of the angel, who declared to us Three Witnesses that the Book of Mormon is true, I have this to say: Of course we were in the spirit when we had the view, for no man can behold the face of an angel, except in a spiritual view, but we were in the body also, and everything was as natural to us, as it is at any time. Martin Harris, you say, called it ‘being in vision.’ We read in the Scriptures, Cornelius saw, in a vision, an angel of God. Daniel saw an angel in a vision, also in other places it states they saw an angel in the spirit. A bright light enveloped us where we were, that filled at noon day, and there in a vision, or in the spirit, we saw and heard just as it is stated in my testimony in the Book of Mormon. I am now passed eighty-two years old, and I have a brother, J. J. Snyder, to do my writing for me, at my dictation. [Signed] David Whitmer. ~ Letter of David Whitmer to Anthony Metcalf, March 1887, cit. Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast (Malad, Idaho, 1888) p. 74; cited in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1981) p. 86.

          So, do you still hold that the three witnesses admitted they didn’t see the plates as per your Christian apologetics tripe?

        • Wrong. According to Wikipedia: “None of the Eight Witnesses is known to have denied his testimony to the authenticity of Book of Mormon or the golden plates.” And that’s despite some of them being excommunicated.

        • Realist1234

          I was referring to the original 3 alleged witnesses, if you read what i wrote. The later 8 were all members of the Smith and Whitmer families. If youre happy to rely on that sort of ‘witness’, so be it.

        • I think the claims for Mormonism are crap. I also think that they easily beat the equivalent claims for Christianity. So the challenge to you becomes: if you reject Mormonism, why accept Christianity when evidence for Mormonism wins?

          More in this post:
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/11/mormonism-beats-christianity-or-does-it/

        • Ignorant Amos

          And you were still wrong.

        • Ignorant Amos

          – You may not care if the Gospels were written in the AD 30s, 40s etc or the 2nd century, but you are the exception rather than the rule in atheist circles. ‘Contemporary’ records are always being raised as an objection to Christianity.

          Contemporary records are not being raised as an objection to Christianity, there are none. Christianity has kept up okay in spite of the poor documentation behind it. The ironic thing in that remark is that later on in your comment you castigate the records of Mormonism that really are contemporary, using a reference from a Christian source.

          Atheist’s, for the most part, prefer accuracy rather than propaganda, that’s why they get into these discussions. Believe it or not, few Christians are aware of the fact that as far as scholars are concerned, the authors of the NT are by and large, unknown. Where they lived and when they wrote, is not at the time the story is set, and the history of how their NT came to be is as dubious a history for any literary tome ever published. Most I know haven’t even read it, not once, and just about everyone I know in meat world is a Christian. Many of them vociferous fundie Protestants.

          – Re ‘supernatural mumbo jumbo’ youre mindset that simply refuses to consider the possibility means we will never agree, but that doesnt mean I am the deluded one.

          My mindset will not consider the possibility *YET, because there has never been one single solitary example of the supernatural, ever, in the history of the world and humans in it, that can be demonstrated with empirical evidence. Nothing, nadda, zip, zilch. But on the contrary, every single thing that was at one time believed to have been as a result of the supernatural that we have been able to explain…using science…has turned out to be not supernatural. Every single one. But thanks for confirming that you consider the others a lot of mumbo jumbo, therefore deluded. I just go one lot of mumbo jumbo further.

          *YET- if it is ever demonstrated that supernatural mumbo jumbo existed…my mind would be subject to change, but the evidence would need to be good.

          http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-what-counts-is-not-what-sounds-plausible-not-what-we-would-like-to-believe-not-what-one-or-two-carl-sagan-263944.jpg

          – Re Joseph Smith’s ‘witnesses’ (pl read all of this, you might be enlightened):

          No I wasn’t enlightened. Christianity, or particular cults within it, is not the only world religion I know more than the average believer of that faith. Your citation told me nothing new, but thanks for missing my point and proving it at the same time. Mormonism was just an example of religious folk who will go to no end to support the nonsense at the base of their faith. But you proved my point by dragging up counter apologetics.

          – Why on earth people would believe these ‘witnesses’ is beyond me.

          Anno, bloody ridiculous how gullible some folk can be.

          Funny how Mormonism never tells you the above.

          No, what’s funny is you don’t know that Mormonism tells you about the stuff above.

          Let’s have a wee look….Your first four paragraph’s are uncontested and have no relevance at all to the veracity of the witnesses who claimed to have seen the tablets.There is nothing in it that discredits Mormonism or the claims of the witnesses. Christianity claims an oral tradition handed down over decades before the first gospel was even written and we have no idea who wrote it. Paul claims to have had a vision of Jesus…no one is corroborating that story.

          Now to the nitty-gritty.

          While the Mormon Church often portrays these critical three witnesses as trustworthy and reliable, history seems to indicate something different.

          The words they use are actually, “The witnesses were men known for truthfulness and sobriety.”

          Though each of the Three Witnesses was eventually excommunicated from the Church (two returned), none ever denied or retracted his published testimony. Each reaffirmed at every opportunity the veracity of his testimony and the reality of what he had seen and experienced.

          Oliver Cowdery was eventually excommunicated from the Church after exposing Smith’s first polygamous relationship to Fanny Alger. Smith described Cowdery as a thief, liar, perjurer, counterfeiter, adulterer and leader of “scoundrels of the deepest degree”.

          Well, without any evidence as to your claim, let’s just say that Cowdery got excommunicated. That’s not news the LDS is not telling folk.

          By early 1838, disagreements on Church policies brought disaffection and excommunication for each of the Three Witnesses, and they separated; Cowdery died in 1850, Harris in 1875, and Whitmer in 1888. Throughout their lives, each witness freely answered questions about his firsthand experience with the angel and the plates. Obviously not relying on Joseph Smith’s account, which was not written until the months following their excommunication, each spoke spontaneously and independently; yet the details harmonized with each other and with Joseph Smith’s history.

          Cowdery later became a Methodist and denied the Book of Mormon altogether and publicly confessed his “sorrow and Shame” for having any connection with Mormonism.

          Citation please.

          In the meantime.

          After their excommunication, each felt deep rejection, resulting, predictably, in their harsh criticisms of Church leadership. Even in these circumstances, each of the Three Witnesses continued to maintain vigorously the authenticity of their published testimony. None expressed any doubt as to what they had testified. Both Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris returned to the Church at the end of their lives; David Whitmer retained religious independence but to the end aggressively defended the Book of Mormon.

          Martin Harris was a member of 5 different religious groups before becoming a Mormon, and he was part of eight different groups after leaving Mormonism.

          Relevance? How many of the early “Christians” didn’t have one or more beliefs before converting to the cult?

          He was also excommunicated from the Mormon Church and later reported that he did not see the plates as Smith described, but only saw the plates three days after Cowdery and Whitmer and then only in a spiritual sense:

          So he seen the plates in a vision hmmmm? Who would believe that shite? What gullible holy roller is going to believe a deluded eejits claim of a spiritual vision…sheeesh, that sorta deluded crap needs slapped down good and sharpish. Oooohps, wait a wee moment…how many Christians? Sheer hypocrisy and double standards again Realist.

          Anyway…even that isn’t a big secret.

          Although Harris continued to testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon even when he was estranged from the church, at least during the early years of the movement, he “seems to have repeatedly admitted the internal, subjective nature of his visionary experience.”

          Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 2: 255. The foreman in the Palmyra printing office that produced the first Book of Mormon said that Harris “used to practice a good deal of his characteristic jargon and ‘seeing with the spiritual eye,’ and the like.” Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1867), 71 in EMD, 3: 122. John H. Gilbert, the typesetter for most of the book, said that he had asked Harris, “Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?” According to Gilbert, Harris “looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, ‘No, I saw them with a spiritual eye.” John H. Gilbert, “Memorandum,” 8 September 1892, in EMD, 2: 548. Two other Palmyra residents said that Harris told them that he had seen the plates with “the eye of faith” or “spiritual eyes.” Martin Harris interviews with John A. Clark, 1827 & 1828 in EMD, 2: 270; Jesse Townsend to Phineas Stiles, 24 December 1833, in EMD, 3: 22. In 1838, Harris is said to have told an Ohio congregation that “he never saw the plates with his natural eyes, only in vision or imagination.” Stephen Burnett to Lyman E. Johnson, 15 April 1838 in EMD, 2: 291. A neighbor of Harris in Kirtland, Ohio, said that Harris “never claimed to have seen [the plates] with his natural eyes, only spiritual vision.” Reuben P. Harmon statement, c. 1885, in EMD, 2: 385.

          In the meantime.

          Skeptics have discounted the “Testimony of Three Witnesses” on the ground of collusion or deception. Yet each of the three was a respected and independent member of non-Mormon society, active in his community. Their lives, fully documented, clearly demonstrate their honesty and intelligence. David Whitmer repeatedly reacted against charges of possible “delusion.” To one skeptic, he responded: “Of course we were in the spirit when we had the view…but we were in the body also, and everything was as natural to us, as it is at any time” (Anderson, p. 87). Perhaps their later alienation makes them even more credible as witnesses, for no collusion could have withstood their years of separation from the Church and from each other.

          The testimonies of the Three and Eight Witnesses balance the supernatural and the natural, the one stressing the angel and heavenly voice, the other the existence of a tangible record on gold plates. To the end of their lives, each of the Three said he had seen the plates, and each of the Eight insisted that he had handled them. Most of the Eight and all of the Three Witnesses reiterated their Book of Mormon testimonies just before death. Together with Joseph Smith they fulfill Nephi’s prophecy: “They shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein” (2 Ne. 27:12). ~ Book of Mormon Witnesses, Encyclopaedia of Mormonism, Brigham Young Mormonism

          http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Book_of_Mormon_Witnesses

          Of course I could’ve simply said…

          LDS church leaders and student manuals note that none of the witnesses ever denied his testimony as it was printed in the Book of Mormon nor denied that Smith was a true prophet at the time he translated the book. Apologists note that after being excommunicated, Harris and Cowdery later returned to the church.

          You seem to forget that for most of Christianity it was illegal for most to even own a religious text…on pain of death if caught. Don’t talk to me about a religion not wanting its minions to know the truth. Christianity was the epitome of that nonsense.

        • Ignorant Amos

          – one wonders, then,why you are bothering posting on a blog about the dating of the Gospels.

          Obviously you just had a brainfart there, or a reading comprehension issue. I’ll emphasis.

          ‘As to an early dating…so what…it’s of no more than interest to me..so pah to that.’

          I enjoy finding out about this stuff as a bit of hobby. My lack of belief in any religion, or the veracity of their texts, is not at stake. I like the process of research, I just wish I had a better memory recall for all the stuff that has gone into my head over the years.

          – I wasnt arguing it did. It was in response to the assertion that Acts had not been ‘heard of’ before the last half of the 2nd century.

          Fair enough.

          But then you are arguing against a straw man. I never claimed Acts had not been heard of before the last half of the 2nd century. In fact I have provided references to the contrary, one that included…

          Marcion had a form of the Gospel of Luke from which he derived his Gospel of the Lord, which sets an upper bound of around 130 CE. A date for Luke-Acts in the 90s of the first century or first decade of the second would account for all the evidence, including the alleged use of Josephus and the apparent authorship by a sometime companion of Paul. If Luke did not use the Antiquities of Josephus, a date in the 80s is permissible.

          So pah!

        • Ignorant Amos

          – youre simply assuming an assumption.

          This has been your major malfunction throughout you time here. You seem to think that your interlocutors are pulling their information straight out of their arse and have never dealt with these arguments you are attempting to present here before. We are not. We’ve been doing this for a while now…most of us anyway. Reading books by scholars who have toiled over these questions in some detail. You are not obligated to accept anything being put forward as a rebuttal to your assertions, but please stop with this crass line of arguing, it’s making you look stupid.

          According to Bart D. Ehrman, the “we” passages are written by someone falsely claiming to have been a travelling companion of Paul, in order to present the untrue idea that the author had firsthand knowledge of Paul’s views and activities. Ehrman holds that The Acts of the Apostles is thereby shown to be a forgery. ~ Bart D. Ehrman, “Forged”, pp. 206–208

          https://ehrmanblog.org/wrote-luke-acts-members/

          The Author of Acts

          http://vridar.org/2013/11/22/the-author-of-acts/

          Luke — his first appearance as author and companion of Paul

          http://vridar.org/2008/01/22/luke-his-first-appearance-as-author-and-companion-of-paul/

        • Realist1234

          Is Ehrman really the best you can do when it comes to the reliability of the New Testament?

        • Ignorant Amos

          C’mon then, let’s be having your go-to source on such matters? For curiosity sake.

        • Who’s better? I’ve heard Ehrman’s scholarship praised by fundamentalists as well as atheists.

        • Ignorant Amos

          – are you saying 10- 15 years is not long enough for this?!

          Not beyond possibility. But not what scholars believe could happen.

          The disagreements noted between the narrative of Acts and the letters (mainly Galatians) may frequently be reconciled, but in any case are explained if the author of Luke-Acts didn’t own any copies of Paul’s letters to which he could refer. It is, after all, improbable that Paul would dispatch a letter both to a church and then to all his sometime companions. The ignorance of the letters of Paul on the part of the author of Luke-Acts actually speaks for a date before ca. 100, after which these letters were collected, published, and canonized.

          Now, look what happens when you use my figures…

          Galatians: Estimated Range of Dating: 50-60 A.D.

          Take the upper end and all of a sudden there is even a lot less time.

          But you are trying hard to have your cake and eat it too. If you want Paul and the author of Luke/Acts to have been buddies I mean.

        • Pofarmer

          ‘Contemporary’ records are always being raised as an objection to Christianity.

          Sure, which is why apologists lie and make up new categories of “history” to try to get them closer and closer to 1 A.D. But, strangely enough, the external attestation to those tomes, never gets any closer, and, in fact, stays about the same time that 19th century German scholars determined it was, maybe even a little bit later.

        • Realist1234

          Yes but those who raise it as an objection conveniently ignore the fact that a number of other ‘well-known’ people also do not have contemporary records, but historians do not doubt their existence etc. Some people just wont be satisfied.

        • Pofarmer

          Like who? In pretty much all of those cases we have later historians listing the names of the sources, when they were written, what parts they were quoting, etc, etc. In other words, we know that there were contemporary sources because later sources cited them. We don’t have any of that here.

        • Greg G.

          But as Ive also shown, the conclusion that Luke used Josephus is unfounded, given the significant differences between the 2 writings.

          You have been shown many examples but less than half of them. You have been shown that the similarities form a pattern. You have been shown that the similarities occur in Luke where Luke is not taking information from Mark and Matthew. You have been shown that it is the similarities between Mark and Luke that show Luke comes from Mark, not the differences. You have been shown that Luke takes items from nearby items in Josephus and combines them. You have also been shown that Luke does the same thing with 2 Kings to create stories he didn’t get from Mark and Matthew.

          You exaggerate the differences as well.

          If your religion informs you that Luke was written before Josephus’ <Antiquities of the Jews, you need a better religion. Better yet, you should accept reality as it is.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There are other considerations before we discuss the date of Luke-Acts, however. Luke and Josephus do not report the same order of events and the datings of the uprisings are not the same. With such differences, some are concluding that these are not the same events or that one of the two authors is mistaken.

          How many times already?

          It all depends on what Luke copied and why. If Luke was just doing history copyist, then his inaccurate copying was shite. But if Luke was taking elements from Josephus, or a mutual contemporary author as some propose, and using them to bolster an historical fiction, then his dissimilarities are not relevant, while the uncanny similarities will be profound to the dating.

          You seem dumbfounded that such a thing could be possible.

          It isn’t all that unusual. It is called “artistic license” and it is a very common trope.

          An early example is The Iliad.

          Arthur Conan Doyle took historical elements of the Victorian era to embellish his fictional detective’s standing in the eyes of the contemporary audience. Modern writers of Sherlock Holmes have taken the character and played fast and loose with the details in their adaptations of the fiction.

          http://www.sherlockian-sherlock.com/misbeliefs-about-sherlock-holmes.php#The-modern-Sherlock-Holmes-adaptations-are faithful-to-the-canon

          Mel Gibson’s a dab hand at it, “Braveheart” and his portrayal of the NT passion narrative are good example…”Hacksaw Ridge” too.

          The list is endless.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So if Luke used Josephus, then he changed the order of events because he did not trust Josephus on this point.

          Or maybe it didn’t matter to Luke for his purpose.

          If Luke does not trust Josephus on the order, why even use him as a source?

          Trust him for what? A source for what? Again, it all boils down to reasons…if indeed Luke did use Josephus. You are presuming Luke was a good historian, writing accurate history.

          Instead if one argues that Luke is in the wrong here, then one would have to show that such errors are common in Luke-Acts. However, Luke-Acts shows just the opposite. Whenever people in Luke-Acts can be established in history, Luke-Acts has them in the right place, at the right time, and with the right title.

          Except when he doesn’t. Luke doesn’t get Quirinius in the right place, at the right time, and with the right title.

          There are even times when the spelling of a person’s name changes slightly depending on if the name was spoken by a Greek or a Jew (e.g. a Greek will call him “Simon” while a Jew will call him “Simeon”). Luke shows many times that he is a very meticulous writer.

          Except that the oldest extant copy of gLuke is by far and away nowhere near an original autograph. Therefore the spelling, meticulous or not, has piss all to do with the original script and more to do with who knows how many scribes hands it past through. Unless you are going to claim copyist scribes didn’t make mistakes or corrections in an attempt to improve the text?

          Autographs (original copies) of Luke and the other Gospels have not been preserved, as is typical for ancient documents; the texts that survive are third-generation copies, with no two completely identical. The earliest witnesses (the technical term for written manuscripts) for Luke’s gospel fall into two “families” with considerable differences between them, the Western and the Alexandrian, and the dominant view is that the Western text represents a process of deliberate revision, as the variations seem to form specific patterns. The oldest witness is a fragment dating from the late 2nd century, while the oldest complete texts are the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both from the Alexandrian family; Codex Bezae, a 5th- or 6th-century Western text-type manuscript that contains Luke in Greek and Latin versions on facing pages, appears to have descended from an offshoot of the main manuscript tradition, departing from more familiar readings at many points.

          The eclipse of the traditional attribution to Luke the companion of Paul has meant that an early date for the gospel is now rarely put forward. Most experts date the composition of the combined work to around 80-90 AD, although some suggest 90-110, and there is evidence, both textual (the conflicts between Western and Alexandrian manuscript families) and from the Marcionite controversy (Marcion was a 2nd-century heretic who produced his own version of Christian scripture based on Luke’s gospel and Paul’s epistles) that Luke-Acts was still being substantially revised well into the 2nd century.

          Many of these differences may be due to scribal error, but others were deliberate alterations to doctrinally unacceptable passages, or the introduction by scribes of “proofs” for their favourite theological tenets. An important example of such deliberate alterations is found in Luke’s account of the baptism of Jesus, where virtually all the earliest witnesses have God saying, “This day I have begotten you.”

          Yeah…good history, my arse!

        • Greg G.

          Along with other facts that could be mentioned, it is perhaps most surprising that Luke uses Hebrew idioms often and correctly. For a native Greek speaker, this is very unnatural. To construct and use correctly such a large number of idioms is not only surprising but goes against Luke’s goal of showing the universality of the Gospel.

          I did some research on this. I found Cataloging the New Testament’s Hebraisms (Dr. David Bivin, Jerusalem Perspective). The case is made for Luke 9:51-56 having several Hebrew idioms. He provides the following translation:

          And it came to pass in the fulfilling of the days of the going up of him and he the face put of to walk to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers before face of him. And going they entered into a village of Samaritans so as to prepare for him. And they did not receive him because the face of him was walking to Jerusalem. Seeing and the disciples James and John said: “Lord, do you want we may say fire to come down from the heaven and to destroy them?” Turning and he rebuked them. And they went to another village.

          He points out that “and” is used frequently, like Hebrew, but not like Greek. He says “in the fulfilling of days” is a Hebrew phrase and cites that it is used five times in the Hebrew scripture. He says “of the going up of him” is Hebrew wordplay about Elijah being taken up as in 2 Kings 2. He says “he put his face” is a Hebrew phrase and cites several OT verses where it is used, including 2 Kings 12.

          This passage mentions a Samaritan village that did not receive Jesus after he sent out messengers as he was going to the Passover festival. Antiquities of the Jews 20.6.1 mentions a Samaritan village that did not like Galileans passing through on their way to festivals.

          The next verse makes an overt reference to 2 Kings 1:10-11 where Elijah called down fire from heaven after Ahaziah’s messengers were turned back.

          2 Kings 2:1 (KJV)1 And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

          2 Kings 12:17 (KJV)17 Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.

          We can now see where Luke got his Hebrew phrasing.

          2 Kings 2:1 LXX
          καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ἀνάγειν κύριον τὸν Ηλιου ἐν συσσεισμῷ ὡς εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ ἐπορεύθη Ηλιου καὶ Ελισαιε ἐκ Γαλγαλων

          2 Kings 12:17 LXX
          τότε ἀνέβη Αζαηλ βασιλεὺς Συρίας καὶ ἐπολέμησεν ἐπὶ Γεθ καὶ προκατελάβετο αὐτήν καὶ ἔταξεν Αζαηλ τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἀναβῆναι ἐπὶ Ιερουσαλημ

          Luke 9:51 mGNT
          ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ συμπληροῦσθαι τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς ἀναλήμψεως αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτὸς τὸ πρόσωπον ἐστήρισεν τοῦ πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ

          Luke uses many of the same words as the Septuagint. He has taken phrases from different parts of 2 Kings. It is just like how he came up with Acts 21:38 about how the Egyptian taking 4000 Sicarii into the wilderness, except Josephus says the Egytian led not-Sicarii people to the Mount of Olives, while the Sicarii and the wilderness were from two other nearby paragraphs.

          The author of the article also points out how frequently Luke uses a “subjectless ἐγένετο” but we see that in the 2 Kings 2:1 Septuagint verse.

          Luke 9:9:59-62 is also in the Elijah-Elisha mold as it has reversal of 1 Kings 19:19-21. Jesus doesn’t allow a follower to bury his father but Elijah allowed Elisha to kiss his father and mother good-bye. Jesus makes a metaphor about plowing. Remember that Elisha was plowing a field when Elijah called him.

          It should be obvious that Luke was writing a fictional story and basing it on the beginning and ending of the Elijah and Elisha pair. Luke’s Hebrew idioms simply fall out of the Septuagint narrative as he copied from it while substituting Jesus and his disciples into the story.

        • Realist1234

          ‘It should be obvious that Luke was writing a fictional story and basing it on the beginning and ending of the Elijah and Elisha pair.’ – only obvious to you

        • adam

          OBVIOUSLY, when writing about MAGIC, the story IS fictionally based.

        • Greg G.

          only obvious to you

          And to anyone without a religion bias. Doesn’t your bias have anymore support than a Kendall Fields replay?

          I didn’t pick that passage of Luke, the author of the article did. He cited 2 Kings as where the phrases could be found. It is very clear that the passage was created by using other material.

          Luke starts following the order of Mark in chapter 3, after the genealogy and nativity. Luke throws in a lot of Jesus’ speech from Matthew. At Luke 9:51, Luke stops using Mark’s order. From Luke 10 through Luke 17, Luke is using the order from Deuteronomy, making allusions and parallels to Moses’ trip to the Promised Land. Luke tells a different story than the other Synoptics in those chapters. At Luke 18:14, Luke becomes a Synoptic again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s “only obvious to you” is one of Realist’s stock answer at this point, that and resorting to “that’s just your opinion” and “bias”…which is just the non-answers that is to be expected at this point in the discussion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Your problem is, and again, this is getting tedious, is that it is not only obvious to Greg. It is obvious to many of those folk writing papers and books on the subject.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But there is yet another obstacle for those who claim Luke uses Josephus. Why are there only a handful of similarities?

          Well, according to scholars, it’s a whole lot more than five, but no matter. Why not? If that’s all Luke needed or wanted, why use more? Luke uses the Hebrew scriptures, Mark, and Matthew…selectively. It’s what he does. It has been well recognised by experts.

          If Luke had access to Antiquities 18 and 20, then it is reasonable to assume he had access to others.

          Is it? What if he is writing contemporary to Josephus and only had access to an incomplete volume? Like some scholars suggest. What if Luke was cheery picking from the texts, like we can see he actually did? What if Luke started writing The Luke/Acts around 90 CE and it was a work in progress over many years, as some scholars suggest?

          However, even though Luke and Josephus are covering the same time in history, they do not share many events. For instance, Josephus not only mentions the destruction of the Temple, but his account is the only eyewitness account of the tragedy we have (Wars of the Jews 5, 6, and 7). However, even though Luke places a high emphasis on Jerusalem and the Temple in his two-volume work, he leaves out the defining event of Judaism in the first century.

          Nope. Luke wasn’t covering ALL of the same period at all. Acts is set by the events with which it ends, Paul’s imprisonment in Rome c.63 CE. The destruction of the Temple was 7 years later. Luke might well be placing a high emphasis on Jerusalem and the Temple in his two volume work, but his two volume work terminates at 63 CE.

          But here’s the crunch, if Luke had continued his treatise to somehow incorporate the destruction of the Temple, what will that do to Jesus’ prophecy. It’s easy to write about prophecies with hindsight, it is done in the bible, so easy even I can do it, but it would be stupid to let the cat out of the bag, would it not?

          Luke obviously knew about the Temple destruction because he used Mark’s putting of the Temple destruction as a prophecy in the mouth of Jesus in his own gospel.

          Luke 19:41-44 says: “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

          Now Luke then couldn’t go writing about it in Acts as if Luke had knowledge of the actual event, could he?

          It would be like me claiming to prophesying the Falklands War in 1975, then writing said prophecy in a book I wrote about taking part in the war in 1985.

          Of course you are okay with the concept of prophecy, your bias allows for that…proper historians without such bias can’t allow for such things, so can you not see the problem?

        • Realist1234

          ‘It would be like me claiming to prophesying the Falklands War in 1975, then writing said prophecy in a book I wrote about taking part in the war in 1985.

          Of course you are okay with the concept of prophecy, your bias allows for that…proper historians without such bias can’t allow for such things, so can you not see the problem?’

          – You’ve just spelled out your own bias – you reject the possibility of the supernatural, including prophecy, so you must reject Jesus’ words as His own, thus meaning you cannot accept an earlier dating of Luke’s Gospel before AD 70, and therefore you must compare Luke’s writing to your Falklands analogy (though strictly speaking, if Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts after the event, that does not in itself disprove that Jesus said the words claimed when it is claimed he said them).

          As I said in another post, we are all biased, in my case in accepting the possibility of supernatural events, and in your case rejecting that possibility and only having a ‘naturalism’ view point.

        • Greg G.

          You’ve just spelled out your own bias – you reject the possibility of the supernaturall, including prophecy

          We are not biased, we are simply not that gullible.

          Why Don’t We See Miracles Like the Apostles Did? gives some reasons excuses for why you don’t see many miracles these days. It cautions “Miracles still happen, and Christians should avoid the two extremes of seeing everything as a miracle and seeing nothing as a miracle.” That is saying that Christians wouldn’t know a miracle if it bit them. “Just call any old thing a miracle if you want to, but don’t get so carried away you look like an idiot” is another way to understand them.

          But they are at the same place as the author of Psalm 77 who is so upset that he can’t sleep but he prays and meditates but nothing happens. Like the page above, he believes in the miracles in the stories of Moses and Aaron but doesn’t understand what God is sitting on his butt in his LazyBoy, now.

          Psalm 77 (NRSV)1 I cry aloud to God,    aloud to God, that he may hear me.2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;    my soul refuses to be comforted.3 I think of God, and I moan;    I meditate, and my spirit faints.Selah4 You keep my eyelids from closing;    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.5 I consider the days of old,    and remember the years of long ago.6 I commune with my heart in the night;    I meditate and search my spirit:7 “Will the Lord spurn forever,    and never again be favorable?8 Has his steadfast love ceased forever?    Are his promises at an end for all time?9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”Selah10 And I say, “It is my grief    that the right hand of the Most High has changed.”11 I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;    I will remember your wonders of old.12 I will meditate on all your work,    and muse on your mighty deeds.13 Your way, O God, is holy.    What god is so great as our God?14 You are the God who works wonders;    you have displayed your might among the peoples.15 With your strong arm you redeemed your people,    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.Selah16 When the waters saw you, O God,    when the waters saw you, they were afraid;    the very deep trembled.17 The clouds poured out water;    the skies thundered;    your arrows flashed on every side.18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;    your lightnings lit up the world;    the earth trembled and shook.19 Your way was through the sea,    your path, through the mighty waters;    yet your footprints were unseen.20 You led your people like a flock    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

          Wise up. There were never miracles, just stories about miracles long ago. There were no wizards in medieval times, either. It’s the same thing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          – You’ve just spelled out your own bias – you reject the possibility of the supernatural, including prophecy, so you must reject Jesus’ words as His own, thus meaning you cannot accept an earlier dating of Luke’s Gospel before AD 70, and therefore you must compare Luke’s writing to your Falklands analogy (though strictly speaking, if Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts after the event, that does not in itself disprove that Jesus said the words claimed when it is claimed he said them).

          I reject the supernatural including prophecy, because there has never been a proper verifiable demonstration of either.

          I reject the words of Jesus as his own because the author of Mark employed midrash to put OT prophecies into the mouth of Jesus in Mark 13. In this case Micah 3:12 and repeated in Jeremiah 26:18. It is called prophecy after the event, postdiction, or vaticinium ex eventu.

          Postdiction involves explanation after the fact. In skepticism, it is considered an effect of hindsight bias that explains claimed predictions of significant events such as plane crashes and natural disasters. In religious contexts, theologians frequently refer to postdiction using the Latin term vaticinium ex eventu (foretelling after the event). Through this term, skeptics postulate that many biblical prophecies (and similar prophecies in other religions) appearing to have come true may have been written after the events supposedly predicted, or that the text or interpretation may have been modified after the event to fit the facts as they occurred.

          Subsequent gospels copied the prophecy from Mark.

          As I said in another post, we are all biased, in my case in accepting the possibility of supernatural events, and in your case rejecting that possibility and only having a ‘naturalism’ view point.

          And as I said in another post, your bias isn’t in accepting the possibility of supernatural events, it is accepting the supernatural events of your woo-woo, while disregarding the supernatural events of all the other woo-woo’s.

          And I’ve told you I don’t have a bias, I reject the possibility of ALL supernatural events, period. I have good reason, as I already explained. Not one single supernatural event has been demonstrated…ever…while the explanation for every event that has ever believed to have been supernatural, has turned out to have a natural explanation. I am subject to change on my position though.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just for you, seeing as you are struggling with the concept…

          bias:- prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Second, Luke shows several Christians under persecution and giving the ultimate for their faith. However, he leaves out the persecution of Nero from 64-67 and the death of James by the Jewish authorities.

          Yeah, up to 63 CE when his story ends. But wait a minute. Acts does mention the martyrdom of James. Of course it depends which of the Jameses you are alluding too.

          The New Testament mentions several people named James. The Pauline Epistles, from about the sixth decade of the 1st century, has two passages mentioning a James. The Acts of the Apostles, written sometime between 60 and 150 AD, also describes the period before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It has three mentions of a James. The Gospels, with disputed datings ranging from about 50 to as late as 130 AD, describe the period of Jesus’ ministry, around 30-33 AD. It mentions at least two different people named James. The author of the Epistle of Jude notes that he is a brother of James in that epistle’s opening paragraph.

          So pah!

          As for Nero, he didn’t persecute Christians from 64-67, it’s a myth.

          The persecution stands or falls on a single passage in the Annals of Tacitus, the Roman historian and imperial administrator, writing around 115 AD, some 50 years after the event.

          See that…115 CE? But it gets worse…

          There is no evidence for where Tacitus got this, and no other ancient writer corroborates him. Suetonius, the Roman administrator and biographer, in a life of Nero roughly contemporary with the Annals, holds Nero alone responsible for the fire, narrates the fire without connection to Christians, and says Nero punished Christians only routinely, without mentioning the fire.

          Cassius Dio after about 210 AD writes about the fire but says nothing about Christians. The Chronicle of Christian Sulpicius Severus (after 400 AD) depends entirely on Tacitus.

          Tacitus then…provides unique witness to Nero’s post-fire Christian persecution. Was Tacitus wrong? He would be if in 64 AD the word “Christian” (a neologism combining the Greek word “Christos” with the Latin ending “-ianus”) had not yet been coined, or if Roman officials could not yet formulate “Christianity” as a religious or legal concept.

          There is not much evidence that they could have. Tacitus would here be anachronistic, as he is occasionally, as, for example, in our passage when he calls Pontius Pilate “procurator,” the rank of the governor of Judea in Tacitus’s time, but not in Pilate’s, which was praefectus.

          The word “Christian” first occurs in what we have of Latin writing shortly after the year 110 AD. The younger Pliny, as governor (legatus Augusti) of the province of Bithynia-Pontus on the Black Sea, in about the years 110-112, wrote his famous letter (10.96) asking the emperor Trajan for a ruling on Christians, admitting that he was unaware of legal precedent concerning them.

          When he says, “I do not know the extent to which it is customary to punish Christians,” however formal and distanced his language, he appears ignorant of the accusation that they had set fire to Rome some fifty years earlier. This is curious for someone who for more than 20 years had had a distinguished career at the summit of imperial administration in Rome, at a time when fire damage was still being remembered and dealt with.

          Josephus mentions James in the “Testimonium Flavium,” Antiquities 20:9.1

          No he doesn’t. We’ve been over this one too. The TF is a forgery. Give it up already.

        • Realist1234

          – re James, the brother of Jesus, the fact that Acts mentions 3 James is irrelevant. Luke specifically reports that ‘James, the brother of John’ was executed. James, the brother of John (& son of Zebedee) was one of the original 12 disciples, NOT Jesus’ brother who only became a believer after Jesus’ resurrection. So Luke recounts the death of James, the brother of John (before AD 44 as that is when Herod Agrippa died) but NOT Jesus’ brother. Very clear!

          – Josephus states that James, the brother of Christ was executed as Albinus was taking up his post as the new procurator, which was around Ad 62/63. Though his execution was instigated by the Jewish High Priest Ananus. Interesting that Ananus was related to the earlier high priest Caiaphas who condemned Jesus. And here we have his relation Ananus ensuring Jesus’ brother was also killed. So if James, the brother of Jesus, was indeed executed around AD 62/63 and Acts was completed before then as I assert, it makes perfect sense that Luke did not record James’ death.

          – I understand the majority of modern historians accept the reference to ‘James the brother of Christ’ as genuine. Go argue with them if you disagree.

          Re Nero’s persecution of Christians, I find it telling that you not only dismiss one Roman historian’s account, but also another to justify your position –

          Tacitus: “But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called “Christians” by the populace.

          Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate,..Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.’

          I am not sure why you highlight the date. Were you not the one that said the time between the events and the writings was irrelevant?

          – you also dismiss Suetonius:

          ‘During his reign many abuses were severely punished and put down, and no fewer new laws were made: a limit was set to expenditures; the public banquets were confined to a distribution of food; the sale of any kind of cooked viands in the taverns was forbidden, with the exception of pulse and vegetables, whereas before every sort of dainty was exposed for sale. Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition. ‘

          – he singles out Christians as a particular group that Nero persecuted.

          So you have 2 Roman historians much closer to the events than you or I, both stating clearly that Nero singled out and persecuted Christians, and one of them implying the fire of Rome was the touch-paper (excuse the pun). Youre also using an argument from silence by saying because Suetonius doesnt specifically give a reason for the initial persecution of the Christians under Nero therefore the fire of Rome was not the reason. Despite the fact that another historian does spell it out. Your argument fails.

          – Your point about the word ‘Christians’ in Tacitus is mute. If what you have quoted is correct, that the earliest reference to ‘Christians’ in latin is AD 110, then there is no issue here as Tacitus wrote Annals 15 around AD 115!

          So I still maintain that Luke/Acts was written before this particularly excessive persecution under Nero, which began around late AD 64/65, and given the death of James the brother of Jesus in around AD 62, I would suggest Luke/Acts were completed by AD 61 or early 62.

          Ive presented some of the evidence in this blog regarding the early dating of the Gospels and Acts. If you choose to reject the New Testament witness, and that of Jewish and Roman historians, so be it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          – re James, the brother of Jesus, the fact that Acts mentions 3 James is irrelevant. Luke specifically reports that ‘James, the brother of John’ was executed. James, the brother of John (& son of Zebedee) was one of the original 12 disciples, NOT Jesus’ brother who only became a believer after Jesus’ resurrection. So Luke recounts the death of James, the brother of John (before AD 44 as that is when Herod Agrippa died) but NOT Jesus’ brother. Very clear!

          No, it isn’t very clear at all. This bullshit is getting way too deep at this stage.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James,_brother_of_Jesus

          Needless to say, if the author of Acts signs off when Paul goes to Rome…then what happened after that is either of no importance, or for part three.

        • Ignorant Amos

          – Josephus states that James, the brother of Christ was executed as Albinus was taking up his post as the new procurator, which was around Ad 62/63. Though his execution was instigated by the Jewish High Priest Ananus. Interesting that Ananus was related to the earlier high priest Caiaphas who condemned Jesus. And here we have his relation Ananus ensuring Jesus’ brother was also killed. So if James, the brother of Jesus, was indeed executed around AD 62/63 and Acts was completed before then as I assert, it makes perfect sense that Luke did not record James’ death.

          This nonsense has been dealt with here in another OP. No point in going down another rabbit hole on it.

          Josephus: A Reliable Source?

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/11/josephus-a-reliable-source/

        • Ignorant Amos

          – I understand the majority of modern historians accept the reference to ‘James the brother of Christ’ as genuine.

          Citation please.

          Go argue with them if you disagree.

          Spoooiiiing!

          I understand that the majority of modern historians accept a dating of Luke that is not your early dating…Go argue with them if you disagree.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am not sure why you highlight the date. Were you not the one that said the time between the events and the writings was irrelevant?

          Yeah…to me, on the veracity of the gospels and Acts. This is not the same thing at all.

          The reason I highlighted the date is because not another single solitary person writing, between the alleged persecution and Tacitus’ account. Not Christian or Pagan. Not until a couple of centuries later did anyone mention Nero’s so-called persecution.

          – you also dismiss Suetonius:

          – he singles out Christians as a particular group that Nero persecuted.

          I don’t mention Suetonius, because he is irrelevant to the conversation being made about Nero’s. Suetonius makes no reference to the fire or the subsequent persecution by Nero.

          So you have 2 Roman historians much closer to the events than you or I, both stating clearly that Nero singled out and persecuted Christians, and one of them implying the fire of Rome was the touch-paper (excuse the pun). Youre also using an argument from silence by saying because Suetonius doesnt specifically give a reason for the initial persecution of the Christians under Nero therefore the fire of Rome was not the reason. Despite the fact that another historian does spell it out. Your argument fails.

          Fer fucks sake would you ever wise up?

          Suetonius makes no connection here with the Fire. Indeed, the statement is part of a longer list of legal restrictions introduced by Nero. The phrase “a type of men of a new and evil superstitio“, in Shaw’s assessment, reads very much like Suetonius’s own commentary drawing upon what was known of Christians in his day, in the early second century. Another contemporary, Pliny, shared the same negative view of Christians.

          Shaw’s points here are significant. It is very unlikely that in 50s and 60s C.E. Christians were known by the label “Christian”. And the way Suetonius adds a description of these Christians that was shared by his second century contemporaries it appears as if the historian is introducing the term Christian to enable his readers to link a religion they knew about in their day with an earlier group who were previously unknown by that name.

          And given that the penalties imposed upon these “Christians” in the days of Nero were associated with a mishmash of other legal restrictions and not with the Fire, we can accept that Suetonius knew nothing of Christians being singled out for dire punishment because of the Fire. Rather, the punishments Suetonius speaks of may well have been one of the occasional banishments from Rome that Jews experienced.

          http://vridar.org/2015/12/17/the-myth-of-neros-persecution-of-christians/

          The Shaw being cited is this Brent D. Shaw.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brent_Shaw

          The Myth of the Neronian Persecution

          https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-roman-studies/article/div-classtitlethe-myth-of-the-neronian-persecutiondiv/73AC9F872D273C643F4E910B87B1A234

        • Ignorant Amos

          – Your point about the word ‘Christians’ in Tacitus is mute. If what you have quoted is correct, that the earliest reference to ‘Christians’ in latin is AD 110, then there is no issue here as Tacitus wrote Annals 15 around AD 115!

          The word you want is moot, and it really isn’t if you understand the implications, which apparently you don’t.

          There was no “Christians” living in Rome during Nero’s time. The term “Christian” had not been developed yet. The cult was made up of Jews.

          Both Tacitus and Suetonius actually refer to “Chrestiani”, not “Christiani” — a detail indicating that this was the name by which they were commonly known in the early second century.

          What seems to have happened under Claudius and then again under Nero is the temporary banishment of some Jewish sectarians from the city of Rome, but not, in any event, persons who would logically have been labelled at the time as ‘a new and evil superstitio’, words which were used only much later by Roman officials to label Christians.

          At the time, and indeed up to the decades after 100 C.E., among Roman writers, including Tacitus, it was the Jews rather than the Christians whose beliefs and practices were being labelled a superstitio, albeit not a novel one.

          Shaw accepts the high likelihood that rumours about who was responsible for the fire were rife. But then when explaining whom Nero scapegoated Tacitus enters the realm of anachronism.

          Notice that he says that those whom Nero rounded up “were called Christians/Chrestians”. This is quite improbable. The name of Christian was not applied so early as the identifier of this Jewish sect. Then notice Tacitus explaining to his readers that these Christians were just as people in his own day thought of them — the harbingers of a new and degraded form of superstitio.

          It is what is known as a retcon…a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events, typically used to facilitate a dramatic plot shift or account for an inconsistency.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So I still maintain that Luke/Acts was written before this particularly excessive persecution under Nero, which began around late AD 64/65, and given the death of James the brother of Jesus in around AD 62, I would suggest Luke/Acts were completed by AD 61 or early 62.

          I really don’t care anymore. Maintain whatever you want, it has been refuted time and again. No one mentions any persecution by Nero, for reasons of burning Rome or otherwise…not a single one. How can ya answer that?

          Nor is Nero’s persecution mentioned by any Christian until …

          The Chronicle of Christian Sulpicius Severus (after 400 AD) depends entirely on Tacitus.

          So if the author of Luke/Acts was writing after 64/65 CE I wouldn’t expect him to be writing about Nero’s mythical persecution…nobody else was either, probably because it didn’t happen.

          But you Christians love the persecution complex…pity ya can’t keep decent records.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ive presented some of the evidence in this blog regarding the early dating of the Gospels and Acts. If you choose to reject the New Testament witness, and that of Jewish and Roman historians, so be it.

          Nah…ya really haven’t, but good luck trying to convince others with your garbage.

          You wanna take your case to the majority of scholars who think your early dating is unrealistic…ya know the ones who write books and peer reviewed academic papers on the subject.

        • Ignorant Amos

          In Acts, the two major Christian figures are Paul and Peter, who both gave their all for Christ, a fact which Luke leaves out.

          Nope. It’s not a fact and there are reasons why Luke omitted their deaths, if indeed he did. I have linked to such reasons by scholars in previous posts. You are not interested in any reasons. You obviously didn’t bother reading the examples I cited…probably because of your bias.

          Acts ends with Paul preaching freely in Rome, there for an appeal to Ceasar. If the late date of Luke is accurate, this omission of martyrs is unthinkable.

          Only to someone with your bias is it unthinkable. Scholars, Christian ones at that, don’t think it so unthinkable.

          Joseph A. Fitzmyer writes: “In any case, it may seem strange that the reader is not told anything about the death of Paul, the hero of the second half of Acts. Yet the ending, such as it is, may not be as puzzling as some think, because it does record that Paul continued to preach the kingdom of God, even in Rome, ‘with all boldness and without hindrance’ (28:31). That is the note of triumph on which Luke wanted his story to end. The gospel was thus being preached at Rome, the ‘end of the earth’ (1:8), ‘and without hindrance’ (28:31). The reader of Acts already knows that Paul’s personal end was not far off; the Lucan Paul intimated as much in his speech at Miletus, and so Luke felt no need to recount it. Homer’s Iliad is not seen to be incomplete because it does not describe Achilles’ death!” (The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 791-792)

          Or…

          Hans Conzelmann is more brief: “The final point is made clearly: διετια, ‘unhindered’–an appeal to Rome. The reference to the διετια, ‘two years,’ certainly assumes that this situation of Paul was terminated. The farewell speech in Miletus leaves no doubt as to how this came about: Paul was executed. But Luke did not wish to tell about that. The purpose of the book has been fully achieved; therefore we ought to reject all hypotheses which understand the book as incomplete or which declare the ending to be accidental.” (Acts of the Apostles, pp. 227-228)

          More at….

          http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/acts.html

          In the second century, the church held the martyrs in extremely high regard.

          Which church? Which martyrs? Martyr’d where, when, and how? The early churches were making all sorts of shite up don’t ya know?

          For instance, the Epistle of Plycarp and the Letter of Ignatius both speak highly of martyrs. Luke does too, but only those who were killed before 64. In fact, Stephen (Acts 7) and James the Less (Acts 12) were killed in Jerusalem, the same place where James the Just was martyred. Even though Luke spends considerable time and details on Jerusalem and its church, he leaves out the very important event of James’ death.

          Oh deary me. this is all getting a bit much. How many times?

          Besides…

          The Fiction of Stephen the First Martyr

          http://vridar.org/2013/11/26/the-fiction-of-stephen-the-first-martyr/

        • Greg G.

          I was thinking about the Hebraisms discussed at Cataloging the New Testament’s Hebraisms (Dr. David Bivin, Jerusalem Perspective).

          I am reminded of when I was very young and the people praying in church were using “thee”, “thou”, and “thy” when they prayed. I thought it was funny but later came to realize they were just speaking King James English they learned from the KJV.

          It seems that the New Testament authors would have picked up the same habits from their readings in the Septuagint, especially when they were making up parables for Jesus to say.

        • Greg G.

          Luke used Josephus as a muse and an encyclopedia. When Luke has some Roman procurator he read about in Josephus cross paths with Paul, it is a fictional story but Luke is credited with good history for it. When Berenice is mentioned in Acts 25:13 & 23, there is really no point in her being there but she is mentioned with Agrippa (I and II) in Antiquities of the Jews 20.7.3. Somehow that counts in Luke’s favor as a great historian.

        • Pofarmer

          No, He/she isn’t. As Amos pointed out, we don’t even know who it was. We don’t know who it was written for. We don’t know his/her sources. And this is the case for the entire NT.

          https://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/eyewitness-recollections-in-greco-roman-biography-versus-the-anonymity-of-the-gospels/

          For a start.

          https://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Acts-Unraveling-Its-Story/dp/159815012X

        • Greg G.

          Matthew and John combined introduce four historically verified characters to the New Testament. Luke introduces five and Acts introduces 13. Sixteen of those are mentioned in Antiquities of the Jews. Some of the characters that are discussed in AJ, play a role in the story but in Acts, the name seems to be added because it is in the source material, possilby for verisimilitude, not because the person plays a role in Luke’s narrative. Berenice comes to mind as an example.

          Luke makes similar errors by placing Theudas and Judas the Galilean in the same generation because they are mentioned in close proximity, even though Josephus points out that Judas led a revolt during the time of Cyrenius, but Luke doesn’t seem to understand the history well enough to realize that Cyrenius was from thirty or forty years earlier. (Acts 5:36-37; AJ 20.5.1,2) The second is mentioning the Egyptian but associating him with the sicarii who escaped to the desert when the sicarii and the one who escaped to the desert are separate stories in close proximity in the text (Acts 21:38; AJ 20.8.5,6,10).

          Luke apparently liked Euripides’ Bacchae. Luke tries to parallel the lives of Peter and Paul in Acts. There are the healing powers of Peter’s shadow and Paul’s handkerchief and the two Deus ex machina jailbreaks that are like Dionysus’ escape. In Acts 26:14, we see Luke quoting Paul quoting Jesus speaking Aramaic quoting Dionysus in Bacchae saying, “Why do you kick against the goads?” which is a Greek idiom that goes back at least to Aeschylus (525–456 B.C.).

          FYI: Pofarmer uses “he/she” for Luke. I have seen two arguments that Luke was a lady.

          1. Randel Helms, Who Wrote the Gospels? Millenium Press, 1997
          2. Bernard D. Muller, The Great Omission in Luke’s Gospel

          Each gives about a dozen reasons for their conclusion with only one overlap.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I have seen little or no evidence that the Gospel of Luke and Acts were written in the late 2nd Century.

          Have ya looked?

          That is why I am rejecting your assertion. Your argument boils down to a single name.

          And the main argument for an early dating is based on the folly that The Acts makes no mention of Paul’s martyrdom…so at least one data point that real scholars can refute.

          http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/luke.html

          https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html

          I could also argue if the Gospel had been addressed to ‘Severus’, then it must have been written in the 4th/5th centuries because there was a bishop called Severus then.

          You could, but then you’d be making a false equivalence. More likely to be the emperor Severus.

          Septimius Severus; Latin: Lucius Septimius Severus Augustus; 11 April 145 – 4 February 211), also known as Severus, was Roman emperor from 193 to 211.

          One of a number theories is Luke was writing to a Roman official, so your Severus example is more likely than not to be an earlier Severus nonsense.

          There is reason’s too.

          First, it is important to note that Luke addresses him as “most excellent,” a title often used when referring to someone of honor or rank, such as a Roman official. Paul used the same term when addressing Felix (Acts 23:26; Acts 24:3) and Festus (Acts 26:25). Therefore, one of the most common theories is that Theophilus was possibly a Roman officer or high-ranking official in the Roman government.

          Another idea is…

          Another possibility is that Theophilus was a wealthy and influential man in the city of Antioch. There are second-century references to a man named Theophilus who was “a great lord” and a leader in the city of Antioch during the time of Luke. Such a man would fit the description, as many scholars believe that Theophilus could have been a wealthy benefactor who supported Paul and Luke on their missionary journeys. That would account for Luke’s wanting to provide an orderly and detailed account of what had happened.

          The fact is, no one today knows who this Theophilus was for sure.

          Ludicrous!

          Yeah, you are.

          You’re simply showing your bias rather than assessing the available evidence.

          You are not assessing all the available evidence though, such that it is, of course.

          And of course, you’re showing not a bit of bias with your un-evidenced 63 CE dating?

          The eclipse of the traditional attribution to Luke the companion of Paul has meant that an early date for the gospel is now rarely put forward. Most experts date the composition of the combined work to around 80-90 AD, although some suggest 90-110, and there is evidence, both textual (the conflicts between Western and Alexandrian manuscript families) and from the Marcionite controversy (Marcion was a 2nd-century heretic who produced his own version of Christian scripture based on Luke’s gospel and Paul’s epistles) that Luke-Acts was still being substantially revised well into the 2nd century.

          Your early dating of 63 CE is more than a little ambitious.

        • Pofarmer

          You also seem to assume that Josephus is the historically accurate writer. Many scholars would disagree with that.

          Like who and about what?

        • Greg G.

          You can argue against each data point but the data points form a pattern. Why does Luke and Acts require so many coincidences with Josephus to be explained away?

          We see common material between Luke and Mark and we see common material between Luke and Matthew, yet most, maybe all, of the coincidences between Luke and Josephus are concentrated in the parts that are not in common with the other gospels. If they were merely coincidences, they would be more evenly spread. That is another pattern that is best explained by Luke using Josephus for the parts he didn’t get from Mark and Matthew.

          Life of Josephus 3 §13-16
          3. But when I was in the twenty-sixth year of my age, it happened that I took a voyage to Rome, and this on the occasion which I shall now describe. At the time when Felix was procurator of Judea [Acts 24:2] there were certain priests of my acquaintance, and very excellent persons they were, whom on a small and trifling occasion he had put into bonds [like Paul in Acts 24:23], and sent to Rome to plead their cause before Caesar [Acts 25:10-12]. These I was desirous to procure deliverance for, and that especially because I was informed that they were not unmindful of piety towards God, even under their afflictions, but supported themselves with figs and nuts. Accordingly I came to Rome [Acts 27:1], though it were through a great number of hazards by sea; for as our ship was drowned [Acts 27:41-44] in the Adriatic Sea [Acts 27:27], we that were in it, being about six hundred in number, swam for our lives all the night; when, upon the first appearance of the day, and upon our sight of a ship of Cyrene, I and some others, eighty in all, by God’s providence, prevented the rest, and were taken up into the other ship. And when I had thus escaped, and was come to Dieearchia, which the Italians call Puteoli [Acts 28:13-14], I became acquainted with Aliturius, an actor of plays, and much beloved by Nero, but a Jew by birth; and through his interest became known to Poppea, Caesar’s wife, and took care, as soon as possible, to entreat her to procure that the priests might be set at liberty. And when, besides this favor, I had obtained many presents from Poppea, I returned home again.

        • Greg G.

          You also seem to assume that Josephus is the historically accurate writer. Many scholars would disagree with that.

          If Josephus wasn’t historically accurate, the coincidences are harder to explain away. It means that Luke had to have copied Josephus.

        • Pofarmer

          Couldn’t there also be a pretty good argument made that Josephus wouldn’t have copied Christian scripture?

        • Greg G.

          Origen didn’t think he would have. Since Origen didn’t mention the Testimonium Flavianum and flat out says Josephus didn’t think Jesus was the Messiah, it is certain that he didn’t read any form of the TF, and nothing else appears to be taken from any Christian literature.

          The coincidences between Luke and Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews shows conflation of material into one story in Luke from material that is merely close by yet unrelated in Josephus is the nail in the coffin.

        • Greg G.

          From http://www.tektonics.org/lp/lukeandjoe.php

          As a final note, it is said that Luke “curiously never mentions the third school, the Essenes.” There is an irony here, for it is held by some scholars that Luke is in fact the only Gospel to mention the Essenes (the “children of light” in Luke 16:8, a title the Essences used of themselves). But indeed, there is nothing curious here; no other Gospel mentions the Essenes, nor did the rabbis for that matter.
          But the case is made that Christianity was seen by Luke as much like and intended to take the place of the Essenes, but the premise of them being alike to begin with is much in error so that argument falls flat.

          If the Essenes used that term, Luke probably didn’t get it from Josephus. Acts 4:32-35 describes how the believers shared their possessions, which is very similar to how the Essenes are described in Jewish War 2.8.3.

          Jewish War 2.8.3 §122-123
          3. These men are despisers of riches, and so very communicative as raises our admiration. Nor is there any one to be found among them who hath more than another; for it is a law among them, that those who come to them must let what they have be common to the whole order, – insomuch that among them all there is no appearance of poverty, or excess of riches, but every one’s possessions are intermingled with every other’s possessions; and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren. They think that oil is a defilement; and if any one of them be anointed without his own approbation, it is wiped off his body; for they think to be sweaty is a good thing, as they do also to be clothed in white garments. They also have stewards appointed to take care of their common affairs, who every one of them have no separate business for any, but what is for the uses of them all.

          Acts 4:32-35 (NRSV)32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

        • rationalobservations?

          Are you aware that the oldest manuscripts of the works merely attributed to Josephus (in their original language of Greek) date to the tenth and eleventh centuries?

          Are you aware that not one single word attributed to Josephus can be verified as being originated by him?

          Are you aware that both the near meaningless references to “Jesus” have been considered later interpolations for over a century and more modern forensic “text typing” confirms that fraudulent interpolation.

        • Realist1234

          ‘Are you aware that both the near meaningless references to “Jesus” have been considered later interpolations for over a century and more modern forensic “text typing” confirms that fraudulent interpolation.’

          – I understand that the majority of scholars believe the 2nd reference ‘James, the brother of Christ’ is wholly authentic, and that there has been no ‘confirmation’ of fraudulent interpolation.

        • Greg G.

          Origen wrote of that passage and the passage about John the Baptist more than once, so those were part of at least one copy of Josephus. Origen does not mention the Testimonium Flavianum, which is a few sentences before the JtB passage, and Origen says that Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. That indicates that the Testimonium Flavianum was not in his copy. Furthermore, the Testimonium Flavianum is long enough to do some comparisons to the literature of Eusebius, the first person to mention the Testimonium Flavianum, and who may well have been reading Origen’s own copy. The comparisons with Eusebius’ writing shows unlikely phrase choices between them and the Testimonium Flavianum.

          However, the “brother of the so-called Christ” is too short to do such an analysis. The texts we have received have come to us through a long, long string of Christian copyists so the chain of control of the writings would not allow evidence of interpolation on that

        • rationalobservations?

          The word “christ” is a generic term coined long after the life time of Josephus.

          The word “christos” or “christ” is an interpretation of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which means “anointed.” That word was manhy centuries later interpreted into English as “messiah”.

          There were many “messiah” claimants between Circa 4 BCE and Circa 140 CE. There is not a single historical trace of any of them being named “Jesus/Yeshu/Yeshua/Y-Shua”.

          Only religiots accept any of the writings of anonymous scribes that date from so many centuries after the deaths of those to whom they are merely attributed but of which no evidence of validity or authenticity exists.

          What evidence supports your claim that the “James” lines are not an interpolation while you apparently recognise that the Testimonium Flavianum is a mere later written forgery?

          Both entries have no context and both are novel styles inconsistent with the rest of the surrounding text so even if some of the texts attributed to Josephus are faithful copies – both references to the god-man “Jesus” appear bogus.

        • Greg G.

          – possible but certainly not definitive. It may be that Matthew was written first, as many of the early church fathers appear to have believed (though ‘first’ may not necessarily mean chronologically). But Im open to possibilities.

          Matthew has over 90% of Mark. The parts that Mark has that are not in Matthew are more like the things one would leave out instead of putting in, like spit miracles, miracles that take time, and the naked boy. Mark’s Jesus is not special from before birth so John’s baptism being for the repentance of sin is not embarrassing in Mark, but the other gospels appear to have a problem with Matthew having John nearly apologizing for baptizing Jesus instead of the other way around.

          The story of the death of John the Baptist is modeled on the story of Esther as seen by the offer of “up to half of my kingdom”, also seen in Esther 5:3,6; 7:2, so Mark calls Herod a king throughout. Matthew corrects Mark about Herod being a tetrarch but editorial fatigue sets in at Matthew 14:9 when he calls Herod a king.

          In Mark 1:40-45, Jesus heals a leper and tells him to say nothing about it. Matthew 8:1-4 has Jesus heal the leper in front of a crowd but has Jesus say the same thing. Matthew forgot about the crowd while copying from Mark.

          In Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus talks about divorce. Mark 10:11-12 also has a bit about a woman divorcing her husband. That would make no sense for Jesus to say that in that context as a woman divorcing a husband would have been unheard of. It made sense when Paul said it to the Corinthians, though. It looks like Mark got that bit from 1 Corinthians 7:10-12 and Matthew corrected him.

          Those are a few things that show direction from Mark to Matthew and not the other way.

          – not from my reading of both, they are quite different.

          They are not exactly the same. Matthew combined other sources, too. I pointed out a few of the tell-tale similarities.

          – disagree. As even Steve Mason has admitted, one of the main propagators of the theory that Luke used Josephus: “Neither position (that Luke used Josephus or Josephus used Luke) has much of a following today, because of the significant differences between the two works in their accounts of the same events.”

          Luke seems to have used Josephus as a muse and as an encyclopedia, not as a source for accurate history. Josephus was writing a version of history while Luke was trying to embellish a fictional story with “truthiness”. Luke has Gamaliel talking about Theudas and Judas the Galilean in the same generation as if he missed that Josephus referred to the sons of Judas the Galilean near the reference to Theudas. Those two and the “Egyptian” were the three that Josephus named out of many and those same three end up in Acts with errors. Acts 21:38 says the Egyptian led four thousand sicarii into the wilderness. But in Josephus, it was other imposters and deceivers, not the Egyptian, that led multitudes into the wilderness. The very next sentence says the Egyptian led a multitude to the Mount of Olives. Josephus tells about the sicarii in the previous paragraph and a couple of paragraphs later.

          It is the errors Luke makes conflating nearby passages that shows he certainly used Josephus.

          He simply chose not to include them.

          Choosing not include them is rejecting them. But not including certain types of miracles consistently is a stronger rejection. Substituting a similar narrative in place of passage is rejection of said passage.

          I also find the accounts of the miracles of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels as being authentic, from the details. For example, if I was simply making up the story of Him healing a blind man, would I really have made up the fact that He had to pray twice before the blind man received his sight? Would I not have wanted to paint Jesus in the best light, so that a single prayer or command would have been sufficient for the man to see completely clearly? That’s how I would have written it if Id wanted to convince others, even though I knew it wasn’t true. But no, the writer simply records what happened.

          That spit miracle is a lot like Vespasian’s Serapis healings. Tacitus’ account makes it seem like a set-up that Vespasian was unaware of but it would have been useful as propaganda at the time, which was right around the time that Mark is thought to have been written. Mark uses Aramaic and Latin words but he explains the Aramaic, sometimes in Roman terminology. So Mark and his intended audience would have had to have thought of Vespasian when reading that.

          http://vridar.org/2011/07/12/jesus-out-spitting-the-emperor/

          The Lazarus resurrection should have been a greater topic in all four gospels if it had happened and the gospel authors had any direct knowledge of the life of Jesus. That Mary washing Jesus feet and the Woman with the Ointment in Mark have the same reaction of the ointment being hypothetically sold for 300 denarii and the money given to the poor shows that John was borrowing from Mark. The “you will always have the poor, but you will not always have me” is taken letter for letter from Mark with just the phrase in the middle omitted.

          It has been pointed out that the Lazarus story seems to come from Horus raising Osiris in Anu, which is also known as Heliopolis, the City of the Sun, and On. The story appears to have come through Hebrew or Aramaic to Greek where Osiris becomes “El-Azar” or “Eleazar” to “Lazarus” in Greek while “Anu” becomes “Beth-Anu” in a Semitic language and “Bethany” in Greek. The name “Martha” is Aramaic for “Lady of the House” where “Lady” is the female form of “Lord” and she is made to fill that role in the story. The heiroglyphic of Osiris’ sister, Nephthys, is a symbol for the female form of “master” plus the heiroglyphic for “enclosure”, which is remarkably close to the meaning of “Martha”. Many of the phrases in the Lazarus story are similar to lines from the Pyramid Texts, mostly from the tomb of Pepi II. Copying those texts is something the Library of Alexandria would have been interested in, I would expect. Those stories of Horus, Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, and Set would have been further back in time to the author of John that the author of John is to us.

          So, it looks like Lazarus is fiction, too.

        • Realist1234

          This is just all opinion. You’ve clearly decided that the Gospels are fiction, so you have to go looking to see where the writers could possibly have gotten their ideas from, instead of accepting it as historical truth.

        • Pofarmer

          You’ve actually got that exactly backwards.

        • Greg G.

          I didn’t form the opinion then look for reasons to support it. My opinion followed from looking at the evidence. I gave you a sample of the evidence and you flinched from it. Read most any literature from 20 to 25 centuries ago and you will find miracles and magic in them. That is a sign that it is not historical fact. When we see that the miracles of the gospels are reiterations of OT miracles, magic from the most popular literature of the day, and from what was likely political propaganda, we should doubt those. When the non-miracle stories also look like they were pulled from the literature of the day, there is no reason to think any of it is true.

        • adam
        • Joe

          This is just all opinion

          In a way, though that statement throws the work of historians under a bus.

          You’ve clearly decided that the Gospels are fiction factual, so you have to go looking to see where the writers could possibly have gotten their ideas from, instead of accepting it simply accept it as historical truth.

          And so the argument goes round and round…..

        • You’ve clearly decided that the Gospels are fiction

          In your mind, maybe. Very few of the rest of us see it that way. Burden of proof is yours; go.

          Likelier, I think, is that the gospels not being history was the conclusion of following the evidence, not the presumption.

        • rationalobservations?

          Please state which version of “gospels” you reference?

          Is it one of the recent versions written by teams of men within the past 500 years or so? Or is it the original/oldest (and significantly different) versions of “gospels” (Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus) written by teams of men after the Roman politico-corporate business of “christianity” was cobbled together in the 4th century??

          Most of us began as christians – but became atheists and agnostics after studying bibles and the actual history of religions.

          Please present any empirical, authentic, original and 1st century originated historical evidence that supports any of the diverse and different, confused and internally contradictory, historically unsupported versions of “New Testament” legends of a god-man named “Jesus/Yeshu/Yeshua/Y-Shua” tha appeared for the first time in the late 4th century?

          (Good luck with that)

        • Is it one of the recent versions written by teams of men within the past 500 years or so? Or is it the original/oldest (and significantly different) versions of “gospels” (Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus) written by teams of men after the Roman politico-corporate business of “christianity” was cobbled together in the 4th century??

          All modern translations obviously have access to these two codices. Every significant variant should be noted in footnotes. You’re saying not?

        • rationalobservations?

          I suggest that you study the Codex Sinaiticus noow that it is freely available to everyone online.

          There are thousands of differences between that first new testament and those we know today.

          The order is different,and it does not have crucial verses relating to the Resurrection that were added to later versions. There are also two whole “books” within the Codex Sinaiticus that are missing from later versions.
          One is the little-known Shepherd of Hermas, – the other, the Epistle of Barnabas. This goes out of its way to claim that it was the Jews, not the Romans, who killed Jesus, and is full of anti-Semitic kindling ready to be lit. “His blood be upon us,” Barnabas has the Jews cry.

          The distinguished New Testament scholar Professor Bart Ehrman was a born again Bible-believing Evangelical until he read the original Greek texts within the Codex Sinaiticus and noticed some discrepancies.

          The Bible we now use “can’t be the inerrant word of god”, he says, “since what we have are the sometimes mistaken words copied by fallible scribes.”

          Ehrman now reports: “When people ask me if the Bible is the word of God I answer ‘which Bible?'”

          The Codex – and other early manuscripts – omit some mentions of ascension of Jesus into heaven, and key references to the Resurrection, which the Archbishop of Canterbury has said is essential for Christian belief.

          Other differences concern how Jesus behaved. In one passage of the Codex, Jesus is said to be “angry” as he healed a leper, whereas the modern text records him as healing with “compassion”.

          Also missing is the story of the woman taken in adultery and about to be stoned – until Jesus rebuked the Pharisees (a Jewish sect), inviting anyone without sin to cast the first stone.

          Nor are there words of forgiveness from the cross. Jesus does not say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.

          Fundamentalists, who believe every word in the Bible is true, may find these differences unsettling if they ever discover then for themselves.

          But the picture is complicated. Some argue that another early Bible, the Codex Vaticanus, is in fact older. And there are other earlier texts of almost all the books in the bible, though none pulled together into a single volume and no trace of any very similar prior texts exist.

          Many Christians have long accepted that, while the Bible is the authoritative word of God, it is not inerrant. Human hands always make mistakes.

          “It should be regarded as a living text, something constantly changing as generation and generation tries to understand the mind of God,” says David Parker, a Christian working on digitising the Codex.

          Others less afflicted by cognitive dissonance may take it as more evidence that the Bible is the word of man, not any of the gods.

          You write: “Every significant variant should be noted in footnotes. You’re saying not?”

          Do you know of any modern bible in which the addition of the line “Father forgive them etc” is marked and noted as a later (post 4th century) interpolation?

          Do you know of any modern bible that notes within it the exclusion of the “Shepherd of Hermas”, and the “Epistle of Barnabas” or the complete different order of its contents?

        • There are thousands of differences between that first new testament and those we know today.

          Wikipedia has a list of omitted/changed verses and phrases. There aren’t that many. Wouldn’t these differences all be noted in a good modern translation?

          “His blood be upon us,” Barnabas has the Jews cry.

          Matt. 27:25 has that, too.

          The Bible we now use “can’ t be the inerrant word of god”, he says, “since what we have are the sometimes mistaken words copied by fallible scribes.”

          Right, but I thought you said that the Codex Sinaiticus had many important differences that would surprise a modern Bible reader. But aren’t they all in a modern translation, at least as footnotes?

          You write: “Every significant variant should be noted in footnotes. You’re saying not?”
          Do you know of any modern bible in which the addition of the line “Father forgive them etc” is marked and noted as a later (post 4th century) interpolation?

          No, it’s not marked that way, but is the difference noted somehow? You seem to be saying that it’s a dark secret.

        • rationalobservations?

          I am not saying that the existence of the Codex Sinaiticus (and different in content but contemporary to the late 4th century – Codex Vaticanus) is a “dark secret”. Although all I note being referenced by any member of a Christian cult appears to be downplaying the significance of the existence of and differences within the Codices.

          (I am reminded, however; that for many centuries none christian employees owning any version of bible was a capital offence.)

          There are many reports regarding the scholarly interpretation of the Codex Sinaiticus and the translation of the online version continues apace.

          Some reports:

          http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/the-big-question-what-is-the-codex-sinaiticus-and-what-does-it-reveal-about-the-bible-1734439.html

          http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/bible-versions-and-translations/absent-from-codex-sinaiticus-oldest-new-testament/

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7651105.stm

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHghltIh1FM

        • Pofarmer

          – reject. That is the problem when you use the flimsy theory that Luke
          used Josephus’ writings to determine the dating of the Gospels, it
          automatically pushes Luke and Acts to a very late dating, despite the
          evidence of the contrary.

          You can’t really use a work of fiction to date itself. Was Gone with the Wind written during the civil war? External attestation of Luke and Acts pretty much agrees with the conventional dating, as well. No one seems to have known of them until well into the 2nd century, ditto the Canonical Gospels.

        • Was Gone with the Wind written during the civil war?

          Of course it was! How could it have had all those details of the period?

          QED

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know, I tend to accept a late dating of the Gospels. But there’s another data point, courtesy of Rene Salms work, that also dovetails in and makes Sense. I think that his view is that nazareth was only reoccupied after the 2nd Century, and I think that’s actually what the scholarly consensus kind of is at this point. So it was unoccupied probably until after the Bar Kochba Revolt, or at least after the fall of Jerusalem when many people would have been dissplaced. This makes another strong argument for a late dating of the Gospels, as the authors obviously didn’t know this.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Also, the author of gMark appears ignorant of the lay of the land.

          Likewise, the author [Mark] is unaware of many features of Palestinian geography. Just for one brief example: in Mk. 7:31 Jesus is described as having traveled out of Tyre through Sidon (north of Tyre) to the Sea of Galilee (south of Tyre). In the words of scholar Hugh Anderson in The Gospel of Mark (pg. 192), this would be like “travelling from Cornwall to London by way of Manchester.” These discrepancies make little sense if the author of Mark was a traveling attendant of Peter, an Aramaic-speaking native of Galilee

          https://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/why-scholars-doubt-the-traditional-authors-of-the-gospels/

          The authors of gMatthew and gLuke fair no more better.

          The author of gLuke uses a lot more geography than the other two…and royally fucks it all up too.

          2. A Literary Device. Yet all of this geographical and topographical material is a purely literary device. The “central section” of Luke, so often called a “travel narrative,” is merely a means by which to accomplish three ends: (1) to suggest the spread of the gospel into non-Jewish regions, (2) to make a place for a mass of material and give it local habitations, and (3) to maintain interest by imparting to the account a sense of ovement.
          Almost without exception the section shows no definite
          geographical knowledge and it abounds with inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

          3. Luke’s Geographical Ineptitude. The “central section”
          is the outstanding example of Luke’s combination of geographical material and geographical ignorance. But the first and third sections are almost as bad. Aside from what he, like Matthew, adds from the Second Source, in only one instance does the third Gospel add definite topographical information. As the centurion’s servant, according to Q, was cured at Capernaum, so the widow’s son was raised at Nain. “But in other matters Luke adds confusion by alterations and omissions. As he translates” the Palestinian custom of sitting crosslegged at meals into the Hellenistic fashion of reclining and mud house roofs into tiles,”so he changes the house built on a rock to one with foundations dug deep and the thin soil of rocky ground of the parable of the sower to rock The southwind which brings heat is not Palestinian. It is the east wind in both Hebrew (qadhim) and Arabic (Serqtyeh) which does so. His location of the great “sermon” which begins with beatitudes and woes on a plain illustrates his ignorance of the character of the mountain slopes by Lake Gennesaret.

          And it’s a lot worse than that…

          “Gospel Geography: Fiction, Fact, and Truth”

          https://www.sbl-site.org/assets/pdfs/presidentialaddresses/JBL60_1McCowan1940.pdf

        • Greg G.

          The Central Section of Luke is a Deutero-Deuteronomy. C.F. Evans noticed that in “The Central Section of St. Luke’s Gospel,” 1967. Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem hits many of the points of Deuteronomy in order.

          For example, in Luke 10, Jesus sends out emissaries like Moses sent out scouts. Luke 10:19 talks about snake bites and Deuteronomy 1:6 recalls to the events at Horeb recounted in Numbers 21:4-9 where Moses fashioned a staff with a fake snake on it so that anyone who was bitten could look at it and survive. And so on into Luke 18.

          From Luke 3 until the Central Section, Luke follows the sequence of Mark and mostly adding in some discourses and some other bits from Matthew. The trip to Jerusalem follows Deuteronomy while borrowing a little from Mark but more from Matthew to suit the topic with no regard to sequence. The final section is back to favoring Mark with added bits of Matthew.

        • “There was no occupied Nazareth for Jesus to grow up in”–you’d think that this would be a nail-in-the-coffin sort of thing, but there must be a hundred serious contradictions or other arguments that are equally or more compelling.

          What surprises me is that apologists never acknowledge them and admit that they sail past them by faith or give some other admission. They just ignore them.

          (Well, maybe that shouldn’t surprise me.)

        • Michael Neville

          Why should mere facts interfere with a perfectly good faith-based belief?

        • Greg G.

          Facts are trumped by faith-based alternative facts.

          SWIDT?

        • My bad. I’m raining on the Jesus parade.

        • Pofarmer

          As a general rule, they tend to accept the precepts of their faith as unquestionably true, and work from there. It’s not a very scientific way to work.

        • Greg G.

          It’s not a very scientific way to work.

          That is now the leading candidate for The Understatement of 2017.

        • Pofarmer

          I’d like to thank all the Fundagelical idiots who helped me get nominated for this award. …………

        • Joe

          “Gone with the Wind” written during the civil war?

          Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

          (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

        • Greg G.

          I wouldn’t have been able to resist either, had I thought of it first.

  • rationalobservations?

    Dating the gospels appears to be not so difficult these days as it once was, Bob.

    Simply entering oldest extant new testament bible will reveal that the oldest/first xtian bible was written toward the end of the 4th century. See “Codex Sinaiticus”.

    All claims of “copies of copies” appear spurious unless evidence exists of the originals.

    • I’ve seen Sinaiticus in the British Library in person twice. Very impressive.

      I’ve documented the estimated distance from original to our best copy, chapter by chapter, for the NT here.

      • rationalobservations?

        I have been studying Codex Sinaiticus for some time and look forward to better translations than I can effect as work continues now that the original has been available for study online since 2008.

        Your assumption that there was an “original” appear to be unfounded on any evidence.

        Your linked to blog ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/08/how-long-from-original-new-testament-books-to-oldest-copies-bible-reliability/ ) is interesting but some of the assumptions and presumptions you recycle appear to be a little out of date since modern forensic materials dating and text typing have replaced religionists optimistic guesswork with considerably later origin.

        The claimed oldest text (The “St John’s Fragment” Rylands Library Papyrus P52 ) has been the subject of some controversy but the guessed at (assumed, presumed, speculative) date of mid 2nd century has now been brought forward to most probably 3rd century (and possibly 4th century) origin.

        Although later editions have been edited to eliminate the admissions of the oldest/original christian politico-corporate business of religion – older copies still circulate and revel agreement that the apparent foundation of Christianity can be traced back to the 4th century but no further:

        There is no historical evidence of the mythology and no trace of evidence of the existence and centuries later written, confused and contradictory legends of Jesus”.

        There is no evidence of Jesus or any of the centuries later written legends of Jesus that originates from within the 1st century.

        No text.
        No artifact.
        No inscription.
        No cross used as a symbol of a messianic cult.
        No archaeological inscription.
        Not even a trace of a 1st century “City of Nazareth” in any map or text or beneath the modern Jesus theme park town of “Nazareth” that was founded in the 4th century.

        The world’s oldest (4th century founded) politico-corporate institution of the Roman religion they called “christianity” agree.

        “Our documentary sources of knowledge about the origins of Christianity and its earliest development are chiefly the New Testament Scriptures, the authenticity of which we must, to a great extent, take for granted.”
        (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. iii, p. 712)

        The Church makes extraordinary admissions about its New Testament. For example, when discussing the origin of those writings, “.. the most distinguished body of academic opinion ever assembled” (Catholic Encyclopedias, Preface) admits that the Gospels “..do not go back to the first century of the Christian era”
        (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. vi, p. 137, pp. 655-6).

        This statement conflicts with priesthood and religionist assertions that the earliest Gospels were progressively written during the decades following the death of the Gospel Jesus Christ.

        In a remarkable aside, “the church” further admits that, “the earliest of the extant manuscripts [of the New Testament], it is true, do not date back beyond the middle of the fourth century AD”
        (Catholic Encyclopedia, op. cit., pp. 656-7).

        There is not one single shred of original, authentic, 1st century originated evidence supporting the centuries later written legends of “Jesus” in any library, museum, christian institution or university. Or at least – my decades long search has revealed none.

        Edit/addendum: Here’s a link to some interesting comments on the dating of Papyri that includes links to other interesting data:

        http://vridar.org/2013/03/08/new-date-for-that-st-johns-fragment-rylands-library-papyrus-p52/

        • Pofarmer

          So, are you saying that the early “Church Fathers” may be made up as well? Or? I guess I’m not following the entirety of the argument.

        • rationalobservations?

          I am saying that NO ONE KNOWS since there is not a single trace of empirical evidence from which to draw a considered and informed conclusion.

          However: Why would all such crucial and revered – but entirely hypothetical – evidence have been so systematically destroyed – if it ever existed?

        • Greg G.

          However: Why would all such crucial and revered – but entirely hypothetical – evidence have been so systematically destroyed – if it ever existed?

          If one group gained political power, it would want to eliminate all competing unauthorized writings. Neglect and decay would take care of most of what was missed.

          For example, Origen was declared a heretic a few centuries after he lived. All of his writings that we have are expurgated version where the heresy is removed or rephrased.

        • rationalobservations?

          “If one group gained political power, it would want to eliminate all competing unauthorized writings. Neglect and decay would take care of most of what was missed.”

          That could be a valid excuse except for the fact that at the time in the 4th century when the very first bible (Codex Sinaiticus) was written, the political power that so brutally enforced christianity upon the then known world was “christian”. The first bibles appeared AFTER the 4th century Roman religion of christianity was cobbled together (from mostly pagan components). If they had “original” manuscripts – why did they destroy them or fail to conserve them??

          “For example, Origen was declared a heretic a few centuries after he lived. All of his writings that we have are expurgated version where the heresy is removed or rephrased.”

          How do you know? What evidence is there of anything that Origen is rumored to have written? There is nothing (NOTHING) from the 1st or 2nd centuries that validates the content of the very first 4th century written bibles or any of the texts that have appeared after that and in the 1600 years of lies, fraud, fabrication, faked artifacts and forged propaganda that are all that we can reference today.

        • Greg G.

          The first bibles appeared AFTER the 4th century Roman religion of christianity was cobbled together (from mostly pagan components). If they had “original” manuscripts – why did they destroy them or fail to conserve them??

          By the fourth century, there probably were no originals left, and if there were, who would know for sure that those were the originals? The variations in the manuscripts show that there were more changes to the material before canonization than after. Apparently, they didn’t respect the texts that much until a big deal was made of them.

          How do you know? What evidence is there of anything that Origen is rumored to have written?

          I looked up the edict, or whatever it was, that declared him a heretic. It is reasonable that they had a reason to do that instead of declaring him a saint. We have many of his writings but there doesn’t seem to be anything left of reasons to declare him a heretic. So we can infer that those writings were not preserved or changed to remove the heresy.

          There is nothing (NOTHING) from the 1st or 2nd centuries that validates the content of the very first 4th century written bibles or any of the texts that have appeared after that and in the 1600 years of lies, fraud, fabrication, faked artifacts and forged propaganda that are all that we can reference today.

          All true, but so what? It is not reasonable to think that a Bible popped into existence in the fourth century. We can look for clues in what we have to infer a back story. Some lines of evidence is stronger than others.

          For example, Pastoral interpolation in 1 Corinthians 10-11 shows that there is continuity between 1 Corinthians 10:18-22 and 1 Corinthians 11:30-31, which is an apparent seam, so we can infer without manuscript evidence that 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:29 is interpolated. 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1 looks a lot like 1 Corinthians 8. Romans has a lot of material that is like Galatians, so that passage may have come from a different letter with material like chapter 8 or it could have been rewritten by the interpolator. 1 Cor 11:2-16 looks like 1 Timothy and seems to quote from the same OT passage as 1 Timothy that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the NT. The Eucharist meal in 1 Cor 11:23-25 looks a lot like Luke’s version of it. Luke got it from Mark and the modus operandi of the Gospel of Mark is to combine a couple of OT passages to create a storyline, in this case, Mark may have combined Psalm 41:9 for the bread and betrayal with Isaiah 53:12 for the “breaking” and the “pour out himself” for the wine. If so, Luke borrowed this passage, added a line, and the interpolator put it into 1 Corinthians. The “do this in memory of me” is not found in all copies of Luke, so it may be an interpolation. Perhaps it was interpolated into Luke and into the already existing interpolation in 1 Corinthians by the same interpolator or it was added to Luke before it was used in the 1 Corinthians interpolation. That is a few possible scenarios.

          Anyway, it shows that there was a sequence of events that occured over time before the fourth century writings were produced.

          Mark has some information that could have come from Jewish Wars and information that would have been available in the 70s AD but I don’t see anything that would require information that was only available after 90 AD or so, so I infer that Mark was probably written in that date range. Mark also seems to have used some of Paul’s letters so some of them were earlier than Mark. That allows for lots of divergence into competing versions of Christianity by the early second century.

        • rationalobservations?

          “By the fourth century, there probably were no originals left, and if there were, who would know for sure that those were the originals?”
          If that’s the case – what was the very first / oldest bibles (Codex Sinaiticus & Codex Vaticanus) “copied” FROM??
          The CS and CV exist from the 4th century so the manuscripts, scrolls and papyri should also still exist unless they were systematically destroyed by the authors of the oldest – 4th century originated – bibles.

          No one suggests that the first bibles “popped” into existence from no where – even though that is exactly what appears to have happened in the case of the Jesus theme park town of “Nazareth”.

          The fact is that nothing confirms or historically validates the content of those very first Codex bibles and the significantly different content of the bibles that followed and those we know today may indicate that the myths and legends of “Jesus” have been evolving for a very long time but have no traceable historicity.

          Every single item you reference and all the people you refer to by name left no historical trace and every single word attributed to them was first written by an anonymous scribe long (many centuries) after the time in which those people lived and died.

          Google “oldest extant Paul” etc for the actual earliest manuscripts merely attributed to the folk you list.

          More than 85 percent of Greek language manuscripts of the “New Testament” were produced in the eleventh century or later.

        • Greg G.

          Your argument is that we do not know that the New Testament we have is reliable. But it cannot actually argue that it is not at least fairly accurate, either.

          If you read the gospels as they are and compare it with the literature available in the first century and early second century. The tales of Jesus appear to be a midrash of Old Testament stories and Homeric stories with Old Testament passage added for flavoring. They show they are fiction no matter what their pedigree.

          See these article from two different R. Price’s.
          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price

          The Gospel of Mark as Reaction and Allegory), by R. G. Price

          How a Fictional Jesus Gave Rise to Christianity, by R. G. Price

          Then when you read the epistles without trying to read the fictional gospels into them, you can notice that every reference to an earthly or heavenly Jesus are quotes or allusions to Old Testament verses. There is nothing that is about a first century person in human form named Jesus.

          This is link to a post of mine that shows every claim Paul (epistles considered authentic) makes about Jesus, past, present, and future, and the OT reference. But you can do the same with every other epistle in the New Testament, though some epistles also reference other New Testament books).

          Paul’s Sources about Jesus

          When it comes down to it, your argument allows that the New Testament did have actual evidence of Jesus but it was edited out by the fourth century. I admit that it is a possibility but it seems very, very unlikely.

          But when the variations of the oldest copies are considered, a lineage of mutations can be detected that go back before the oldest manuscripts. Yet they still don’t have such a great diversity to suspect huge changes. Many are just misreads. Some appear to be a word change because the copyist may have thought he was correcting an error. Interpolations are obvious. Deletions are not. There is evidence ofinor changes but no evidence of major rewrites.

          The Bible inerrantist cannot claim that there are no changes because there is evidence to the contrary. But you can argue that there are definitely major changes from the original manuscripts but you cannot show this for lack of evidence. The evidence supports small changes and some interpolations and perhaps some deletions. But it defeats itself as evidence for Jesus.

        • rationalobservations?

          You write: “Your argument is that we do not know that the New Testament we have is reliable. But it cannot actually argue that it is not at least fairly accurate, either.”

          NO!

          As there are SO MANY diverse and different versions of confused and internally contradictory “New Testament” books that can be traced back to originating in the 4th century – but of which there is no significant earlier trace there is no individual version of NT that can be considered to be “reliable” or “authentic”.

          “If you read the gospels as they are and compare it with the literature available in the first century and early second century…. “

          1) Which version of “gospels” do you refer to?

          2) What makes you think it is any more valid or “authentic” than the very different (and oldest) 4th century origunated Codex Sinaiticus (available for study on line since 2008)?

          3) What “literature” can you name that mentions “Yeshu/Yeshua/Y-Shua/Jesus” in the context of anyy of the much later written legends and originates from within the 1st century?

          4) What “literature” can you name that mentions “Yeshu/Yeshua/Y-Shua/Jesus” and originates from within the 2nd century?

          “When it comes down to it, your argument allows that the New Testament did have actual evidence of Jesus but it was edited out by the fourth century..”

          No! What ever gave you that assumption?

          I agree with you that all the evidence indicates that all biblical mythologies are slowly evolved fiction (produced by many generations of authors over a period of many, many centuries.)

        • Greg G.

          My position is that there is no valid evidence for Jesus outside the New Testament while the New Testament “we have received”, as they say, is evidence that Jesus was made up. The copies of copies of copies with all their errors still allow us to identify their sources so that all the stories of Jesus in the gospels come from other material that was available in the late first century and early second century.

          If the copies we have now are not exact replicas and not completely reliable, they certainly didn’t improve them by adding irrefutable arguments to them. They are not “new and improved”. They can’t be any better than the original manuscripts. The things that have been added are as equally false as anything that has been deleted and as equally false as anything left in.

          You make good points for a Bible inerrantist who believes the Bible is absolutely true.

        • rationalobservations?

          Have you actually read any of my entries, Greg?

          You write: “My position is that there is no valid evidence for Jesus outside the New Testament while the New Testament “we have received”, as they say, is evidence that Jesus was made up.”

          That position closely mirrors my own expressed and justified through evidence for the past 4 decades or so.

          The word “christ” is a generic term coined long after the life time of Josephus.

          The word “christos” or “christ” is an interpretation of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which means “anointed.” That word was manhy centuries later interpreted into English as “messiah”.

          There were many “messiah” claimants between Circa 4 BCE and Circa 140 CE. There is not a single historical trace of any of them being named “Jesus/Yeshu/Yeshua/Y-Shua”.

          Only religiots accept any of the writings of anonymous scribes that date from so many centuries after the deaths of those to whom they are merely attributed but of which no evidence of validity or authenticity exists.

          “Bible inerrantist”??

          You respond to an entry that includes the line: “…there is no individual version of NT that can be considered to be “reliable” or “authentic”.

          What medication are you on??

        • Pofarmer

          So, then, how do we get references to Tertullian and yet none of his works are extant?

        • rationalobservations?

          There are references and forged manuscripts merely attributed to many early writers and so called “church fathers”

          “So, then, how do we get references to Tertullian and yet none of his works are extant?”

          That could be a valid excuse except for the fact that at the time in the 4th century when the very first bible (Codex Sinaiticus) was written, the political power that so brutally enforced christianity upon the then known world was “christian”. The first bibles appeared AFTER the 4th century Roman religion of christianity was cobbled together (from mostly pagan components). If they had “original” manuscripts – why did they destroy them or fail to conserve them??

          Tertullian? All of the writings and references that are merely attributed to him we have are expurgated version where the heresy is removed or rephrased.

          ” …how do we get references to Tertullian”?
          The same way we got forged and imagined references to “Jesus” while no historical trace of any such hero exists from within the st century it may appear.

          How do we get references to Harry Potter for that matter?

          What evidence is there of anything that Tertullian is rumored to have written? There is nothing (NOTHING) from the 1st or 2nd centuries that validates the content of the very first 4th century written bibles or any of the texts that have appeared after that and in the 1600 years of lies, fraud, fabrication, faked artifacts and forged propaganda that appeared since theth century and are all that we can reference today.

        • Your assumption that there was an “original” appear to be unfounded on any evidence.

          You’re talking about an autograph for each book, I assume. That seems to be the default assumption. Why would you conclude otherwise? Or are you simply saying that our copies have been merged and edited so that none are identical to the original?

          some of the assumptions and presumptions you recycle appear to be a little out of date since modern forensic materials dating and text typing have replaced religionists optimistic guesswork with considerably later origin.

          No assumptions. I make clear that several Wikipedia articles were my sources for the dates.

          If you can point to a summary of the thinking about later dating (I know Robert M. Price supports the 2nd-century authorship of the gospels, for example), I’d be interested.

          The claimed oldest text (The “St John’s Fragment” Rylands Library Papyrus P52 ) has been the subject of some controversy but the guessed at (assumed, presumed, speculative) date of mid 2nd century has now been brought forward to most probably 3rd century (and possibly 4th century) origin.

          What is the consensus view? How do you avoid Christian bias on these estimates?

          Not even a trace of a 1st century “City of Nazareth” in any map or text or beneath the modern Jesus theme park town of “Nazareth” that was founded in the 4th century.

          4th c.? But why would the gospel authors place him there if they knew it was a ghost town even in their own day?

          In a remarkable aside, “the church” further admits that, “the earliest of the extant manuscripts [of the New Testament], it is true, do not date back beyond the middle of the fourth century AD”
          (Catholic Encyclopedia, op. cit., pp. 656-7).

          If “extant manuscripts” refers to the complete collection of NT books, I suspect we all agree.

        • adam

          “4th c.? But why would the gospel authors place him there if they knew it was a ghost town even in their own day?”

          Same reason Batman lives in “Gotham City”?

          Makes for a better story….

        • rationalobservations?

          The Jewish sect or cult called “the Nazarenes” is probably the cause of the confusion among the authors of the prototype “gospels”.

        • rationalobservations?

          “You’re talking about an autograph for each book, I assume. That seems to be the default assumption. Why would you conclude otherwise? Or are you simply saying that our copies have been merged and edited so that none are identical to the original?

          I am observing that there is no trace of evidence that supports the 1600 years of writing, rewriting, editing, amending, interpolating and fabricating christian texts and artifacts that can be traced back to starting in the4th century but of which no trace can be found from within the 1st century.
          I prefer the scientific method of examining actual extant evidence to any form of speculation.

          “No assumptions. I make clear that several Wikipedia articles were my sources for the dates.

          If you can point to a summary of the thinking about later dating (I know Robert M. Price supports the 2nd-century authorship of the gospels, for example), I’d be interested.”

          Wiki recycles the optimistic assumptions regarding the dates of origin that have been around for a few centuries.
          Assumptions that the bibles and associated religious detritus that have accumulated during the past 1600 years somehow “must” have earlier origins is confounded by the absolute total and complete historical silence from the 1st century regarding the centuries later written legends of “Jesus”. Didn’t you ever wonder why it was a capital offence for anyone but a priest to own a bible for so man centuries, or why not a single trace of “Jesus” exists outside of centuries after “the event” christian writings and centuries later constructed artifacts?

          “What is the consensus view? How do you avoid Christian bias on these estimates?”

          Well the “consensus” was established when anyone who “rocked the boat” or questioned the propaganda was ostracized at best and at one time in great jeopardy for their life.
          A modern consensus is difficult to establish since so few scholars appear to have any interest in religion or the myths and legends of religion.

          There have been a few very well respected historians who have presented the facts on TV documentaries that I have been presenting for years in less widely broadcast circles.

          How do you avoid christian bias? The obvious thing is to ignore it. What I always recommend is that no one takes any mere opinion on this subject – must less the 1600 years of christian propaganda. The extant and original evidence is the thing!

          “4th c.? But why would the gospel authors place him there if they knew it was a ghost town even in their own day?”
          The most obvious answer is the apparent confusion between the Jewish cult of the Nazarene. The Nazarenes originated as a sect of first-century Judaism and was associated with rebellion against Rome in some quarters.
          The idea that the legendary “Jesus the Nazarene” could be so easily conflated to “Jesus of Nazareth” is probable.
          The actual history of the modern Jesus theme park town of “Nazareth” places it’s foundation as being the responsibility of the Emperor Constantine’s mother who was a convert to a messianic cult toward the end of the third century but finding no trace of a city of Nazareth decided that the location of a few burial pits and a well the named “Mary’s well” could be the site of the fabled “Nazareth” as a new town was born and added to the pilgrim’s route.
          There is no trace of the archaeological remains of the biblical City of Nazareth (with a temple) beneath modern Nazareth.

          Kenneth Humphreys published his extensive research online here:
          http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/nazareth.html

          “If “extant manuscripts” refers to the complete collection of NT books, I suspect we all agree.”

          Well no. It refers to any individual manuscript that matches or very closely resembles and segment of the bible.

          The oldest christian bible (Codex Sinaiticus) is claimed to be copied from earlier “lost” sources. That Codex was written after the foundation of Roman christianity in the 4th century and it is revered as the oldest/first version of the significantly different bibles we all know today. That begs the questions:
          Why were the supposed/claimed “originals” destroyed when other documents were conserved?
          Why is the order of the CS so very different from modern bibles?
          Why are there so many things found in modern bibles not to be found within the CS?

          It is worth remembering that ownership of a bible was forbidden under penalty of death for 1000 years. It was also forbidden to translate the Greek – later Vulgar Latin -bible into any local language that the sheep could read and recognise as confused and contradictory garbage. The biggest question is how those with free access to many diverse and different versions of bible (including the CS online) fail to actually read any and discover for themselves that garbage?

          As the rapid decline in religion accelerates – perhaps more folk are reading bibles these days??

          Best wishes to you and yours, Bob.

          PS: Some things you may find interesting:

          http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/supp10.htm

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernard-starr/why-christians-were-denied-access-to-their-bible-for-1000-years_b_3303545.html

          http://www.truthbeknown.com/josephus.htm

          http://www.evilbible.com/

          http://bibviz.com/

          http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=285

          http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/en/

          http://www.vatileaks.com/vati-leaks/why-popes-banned-the-bible

          http://www.answering-christianity.com/101_bible_contradictions.htm

        • thanks for the links.

        • Realist1234

          ‘Your assumption that there was an “original” appear to be unfounded on any evidence.’

          – I really dont understand your logic. You seem to be saying everything ‘started’ in the 4th century. But sufficient papyrus segments of the New Testament have been found, PROVING there were copies long before the 4th century. To have a copy you have to have an original!

          For example, P64, as held in Magdalen College, Oxford, is believed by scholars to be from around the latter part of the 2nd century, and are some of the earliest fragments from a codex, and contain parts of Matthew’s Gospel. Or P4, which scholars believe is from the 3rd century, and contains parts of Luke.

          Are you seriously trying to argue that the Gospels did not exist before the 4th century? Papyri such as these wholly negate that view.

          ‘The claimed oldest text (The “St John’s Fragment” Rylands Library Papyrus P52 ) has been the subject of some controversy but the guessed at (assumed, presumed, speculative) date of mid 2nd century has now been brought forward to most probably 3rd century (and possibly 4th century) origin.’

          – thats simply a false statement. Some scholars may believe it should be dated later, but other scholars believe the original dating of around AD 120/30 still stands. So to say the ‘date has now been brought forward to most probably 3rd century’ does NOT reflect the current position.

          “City of Nazareth”
          – seriously?! Ive heard of no scholar describing Nazareth as a ‘city’.

          To quote James McGrath –
          ‘I have on multiple occasions encountered claims by atheists who insist that there was no village of Nazareth in the first century, often citing outdated or misunderstood archaeological data, or worse still, things written by people who are not themselves archaeologists and yet nonetheless feel they are qualified to offer a completely different interpretation of the existing evidence than professional archaeologists do.
          Even as I thought of gathering some data into a blog post, Helen Bond posted information about lectures by Ken Dark about archaeology in Galilee. One of the lectures includes a treatment of the evidence from Nazareth in the first century. The presence of kochim tombs with fragments from ossuaries indicates that the people living there were Jewish and that this is the relevant time period. It isn’t clear to me from what I’ve read whether there is a closer proximity of dwellings to tombs than one would expect if the purity concerns advocated by the Pharisees were observed there. If so, then it will have to be said that Geza Vermes was extremely insightful when he suggested that in Jesus we see an authentic Galilean spirituality which was often in dialogue with and at odds with the vision of the Pharisees, who sought to transfer the purity of the temple into everyday life.
          Even before recent work was done, however, we had a Jewish inscription related to priestly courses which mentioned Nazareth in roughly the third century. One merely had to note the unlikelihood that priests resettling after the destruction of the temple in the year 70 would have founded a town with the name of a fictional site invented by Christians, and one had sufficient evidence to make it likely that Nazareth existed before then.
          For those who may have bought into the “Nazareth never existed” nonsense, I encourage you to reflect on the fact that you have listened to the archaeological equivalent of young-earth creationists. They might well be genuinely skeptical in other areas, but in this one they’ve bought into a conspiracy theory, and one that simply does not fit the evidence we’ve long had, much less the evidence that has come to light more recently.’

        • rationalobservations?

          You write: ” You seem to be saying everything ‘started’ in the 4th century. But sufficient papyrus segments of the New Testament have been found, PROVING there were copies long before the 4th century. To have a copy you have to have an original!”

          So far as bibles and all other complete manuscripts and texts – and the politico-corporate state enforced institutions of “christianity” are concerned – all historical roads do lead to and stop dead in the 4th century.

          Most noticeably; Over 85% of all christian manuscripts can be traced to origination in the 11th century or later during the industrial scale fabrication of texts and artifacts that occurred between the 12th and 15th centuries.

          I have studied first hand many of the Papyri you list and I am fortunate enough to be in quite close proximity to Rylands Papyrus P52 and the oldest bible – Codex Sinaiticus (although that is now available to anyone online since 2008).

          The over optimistic religionist’s claimed dates for the oldest fragments are controversial and P46, P52, P64, P87, P104 and others have been more reliably forensically dated to the 3rd century at the earliiest.

          HOWEVER: One scrap of semi-literate scrawl on a fragment of papyrus no bigger than a beer mat is hardly evidence of the validity of diverse and different, confused and contradictory fables and legends written centuries later and merely back dated and set in the 1st century. Most damning is perhaps that no one single trace of evidence of any of the legends of “Jesus” is extant and originates from within the 1st century.

          You write: “”City of Nazareth”
          – seriously?! Ive heard of no scholar describing Nazareth as a ‘city’.

          Perhaps you don’t ever bother to read a bible? (Wise move – more of us atheists are more convinced in our non-theism by studying bibles – plural as there are many diverse and different versions back to the Codex Siniaticus and Codex Vaticanus first authored in the 4th century)

          “City”??

          Matthew 2:23
          and came and lived in a city called Nazareth This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

          Matthew 2:22-23
          But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

          Luke 2:4
          Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

          Luke 1:26-27
          Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

          Unfortunately for the modern “Jesus” theme park town called Nazareth – There is no archaeological trace of a city (with a Temple as described within the legends of “Jesus”) beneath that theme park.= designed to fleece the ignorant and the gullible.

        • rationalobservations?

          You write: “I really dont understand your logic. You seem to be saying everything ‘started’ in the 4th century. But sufficient papyrus segments of the New Testament have been found, PROVING there were copies long before the 4th century. To have a copy you have to have an original!”

          NO! Your straw man burns.

          I point to the fact that anything resembling modern institutions, texts, the cross used as a symbol of christianity and the historicity of politico-corporate businesses of christianity cannot be traced back further than the 4th century.

          The Papyri you list have all been the subject of controversy regarding the over optimistic early dating by non forensic scientist religionists.
          It is increasingly widely considered that nothing dates as originating prior to the 3rd century and it is established that more than 85% of all christian manuscripts originated in the 11th century or later!

          Of course, there is prior evidence of the Jewish mythology and the Jewish religion and their now defunct prophesies of a “messiah”.
          As depicted within any of the diverse and different, confused and internally contradictory legends of “Jesus” that have appeared in bibles that can be traced back to origin no earlier than the 4th century.

          There is no evidence of a CITY of Nazareth beneath the modern Jesus theme park of that name. The only archaeological remains are a few ancient (dated 500-600 BCE) shallow burial pits and a travelers well.
          The existence of the burial pits is another nail in the myth since ancient Jewish taboos demands that no n=building occurs upon burial sites.

          Your recycled propaganda fails.