When the People Who Deny the Resurrection are the Closest Thing to Orthodoxy Allowed on TV

When the People Who Deny the Resurrection are the Closest Thing to Orthodoxy Allowed on TV April 10, 2012

you know it must be Easter. CNN fulfils in spades Shea’s Iron Law of Holiday Media Coverage which states:

During Ordinary Time, take off 50 IQ points for all religion coverage in the MSM. During Christmas and Easter, crank that up to 200 IQ points deducted, and factor in naked imbecilic malice when the religion being covered is Christianity and, in particular, Catholic Christianity.

Meanwhile, those not invested in deliberately making themselves stupid about the resurrection can read N.T. Wright’s devastatingly powerful The Resurrection of the Son of God.

He is Risen indeed, corpporate media ginning up controversy in order to sell beer and shampoo notwithstanding.

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  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    I find stuff like this immensely encouraging, because I don’t know that I’ve ever seen similar articles debating the existence of Thor or the last sighting of Osiris along the Nile.

    The fact that the MSM rightly recognizes Jesus as a significant threat to the dominant worldview is very encouraging.

  • An Atheist

    You should read Dr. Price and Bart Erhman before dismissing anyone who doubts the resurrection myth as somehow stupid or uninformed.

    The gospels are late and anonymous, and two of them (Mark and Luke) never even made pretensions about being eyewitnesses. As for the other two, Palestinian tax collectors and fishermen don’t suddenly become proficient in (very pristine) Greek. Only ten percent of the population in the Roman Empire was even barely literate, let alone able to write books according to Erhman. In Palestine it was even lower, about three percent.

    The gospels are late and legendary as are oral traditions we have about the apostles.

    • MarylandBill

      A tax collector would have had to been literate. Luke was a physician, thus also very likely literate in Greek.

      Lets also recall that there is more than one way to write a book. We give credit to St. Thomas Aquinas for quite a few books that he didn’t write with his own hand; they were dictated to secretaries. Thus the gospels could well have been dictated by the authors they are ascribed to, even if they were illiterate in Greek (though likely spoke).

      Also, some scholars would dispute your late dating of the sources. At least some of the letters attributed to Paul date within 20 years of Jesus’s death. Finally of course it is essentially impossible to date an oral source and really difficult to date many documents. Usually the best that can be done is establish the latest such a source appeared (i.e., no scholar would place the Gospels after the 2nd Century… and of course more than a few scholars believe they are first century documents.).

    • You obviously do not have an understanding of how society worked back in Roman occupied Israel/Palestine.

      Mark, was Peter’s assistant, and was an educated man. Luke, a physician, was a disciple of Paul.

      Many of the rabbis who had followers at this time had scribes who documented the teachings of the rabbis. Also, in Acts 2, there was the Pentecost when the apostles received the Holy Spirit and, “and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. [5] Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

      [6] And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. [7] And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these, that speak, Galileans? [8] And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born? [9] Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, [10] Phrygia, and Pamphylia, Egypt, and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome,

      [11] Jews also, and proselytes, Cretes, and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. [12] And they were all astonished, and wondered, saying one to another: What meaneth this?”

      I will not, however say that you or anyone else who tries to disprove this are stupid…maybe misguided.

    • Mark Shea

      Yeah. The standard out of date scholarship in the service of pre-ordained conclusions. Here’s a bit of information, just concerning John. Your snobbery and ignorance are showing. As to Price, once a fundamentalist, always a fundamentalist.

    • Ted Seeber

      “The gospels are late and anonymous, and two of them (Mark and Luke) never even made pretensions about being eyewitnesses. ”

      Both Mark and Luke are from the 1st Century, and Luke makes a point of telling us that he compiled his gospel (and the book of Acts, which is really part II of the Gospel of Luke) from eyewitness evidence. I see this as being no different than any anthropologist or historian interviewing living eyewitnesses today of an event that happened 50-75 years before the research and writing. Do you have reason to suspect differently? GOOD reasons, not just “I’m an atheist who denies the existence of eyewitness evidence” while taking data from laboratory notes as gospel?

      “As for the other two, Palestinian tax collectors and fishermen don’t suddenly become proficient in (very pristine) Greek. ”

      Unless, of course, they were from Galilee, where Greek was the common language of commerce and they would have had to know it just to bargain for their daily bread.

      “Only ten percent of the population in the Roman Empire was even barely literate, let alone able to write books according to Erhman. In Palestine it was even lower, about three percent.”

      Yep. But let’s check out the traditional occupations of the actual Gospel writers: A tax collector. A scribe. A physician. And a Bishop (well, when he finally wrote his Gospel, John was a Bishop). All four would be in jobs that one could reasonably expect to be literate- the tax collector had to be literate to keep good records, the scribe had to be literate to take notes for the Apostle that employed him, the physician needed to be able to read and write prescriptions as well as learn how to diagnose illness, and the Bishop at that time would have also been a Jewish Rabbi and needed to know how to at least read the Septugiant, which was written in flawless Greek.

      I would say Dr. Price and Bart Ehrman have ulterior motives for lying- where all four of the gospel writers ended up being tortured and killed and yet never recanted.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        where all four of the gospel writers ended up being tortured and killed and yet never recanted.

        Nitpick: I’m not sure about Luke, but John was not a martyr. He died peacefully after being exiled from home, being tortured, and watching all of his friends and companions killed.

        Your point about the Septuagint is the most relevant one. Even Christ Himself, a carpenter, was fluent in enough Greek to read the Scripture.

    • An Atheist,

      Just when do you mean when you say late? How late?

    • Paul is about as early as you can get without having a video cam at Golgotha.

      Is your interest in denying the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth completely objective? No agenda?

  • Mark,

    Did you see the follow up piece by CNN? http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/08/your-take-comments-on-jesus-deniers/

    Nice of them to highlight the *thoughtful and substantive* critiques of their article. Sigh…

  • An Atheist

    That said Timothy Freke and the Christ Mythers, who say Jesus of Nazareth never even existed are just as deluded. They write nothing but unscholarly trash and double for Dan Brown. Jesus existed, he taught, he had a following, and was crucified during the reign of Tiberius under Pontius Pilate. Anyone with a double digit IQ should admit that much.

    • Mark Shea

      Your hero Robert Price has no idea whether or not Jesus existed. Seriously, dude, anointing him as your go-to guy is a bad idea. He’s a crank.

  • My favorite example this year was the CBS (Easter) Sunday Morning piece on Thomas de Wesselow and the Shroud of Turin. In contrast to many, de Wesselow thinks the shroud is real, but the resurrection isn’t—something about the shroud being so cool and spooky when it was passed around after being found wrapped around Jesus’ body that it was worshiped as the risen Christ. Yeah. We built this city on a Halloween costume.

    • MarylandBill

      Yeah, that one is silly beyond belief.

  • and there there is Newsweek’s cover story by Andrew Sullivan– and my take on it:


  • An Atheist

    I never said Luke didn’t write Luke, of course a Greek physician and amateur historian would be literate. Every scholar agrees Mark wrote Mark too. But Mark is twice removed from Jesus and Luke is even father away–a gentile follower of someone who never knew Jesus when he was alive.

    Mark, it is not chronological snobbery to note that literacy–just the ability to read, mind you, let alone write a book–was ten percent in the Roman Empire and three percent in first century Palestine. Literacy was confined to the upper classes. Fishermen were not the upper class. As for Paul, tent making was a lucrative profession and what’s more he was an ex-Pharisee. Of course he was educated (though he only wrote about half the letters ascribed to him). Patristic testimony? Weak, they were about a century removed and had agendas to push (and are known forgers of other things). The comparison to Shakespeare is off base as well. Literacy was much more widespread in Renaissance England than first century Palestine! Talk about apples to oranges!

    Whoever wrote John’s gospel and his letters was not John the Disciple (Revelation was written by an entirely different author). Same for Peter’s supposed letters.

    • You talk a good game yet show zero evidence to support any of your claims. I call documentation (and real documentation, not the cranks you have been citing to this point).

    • “Every scholar agrees Mark wrote Mark too”

      What do you mean by that? Every scholar agrees? I’ve not known a topic where ‘every scholar agrees’. I could find books in my own shelves that have NT scholars disputing the existence of anyone named ‘Mark’, or who would reject Luke as the author of ‘his’ work. They may use the name, but I’ve read many who say that ‘Mark’ was simply a name picked randomly later by the Church. That’s not uncommon at all, and many in the more liberal (not liberal in the political sense) theological or critical scholarship circles world have no problem questioning the authorship of just about anything in the NT. If anything, the most agreed upon work, is Paul’s letter to the Romans. Except for some diehard radicals, most give that one to Paul. But every scholar agrees? I’ve not known where that could ever be applied.

    • Ted Seeber

      Mark wasn’t a fisherman, not traditionally. Mark was a scribe employed by a fisherman (Peter) traditionally. A secretary of sorts, and a Roman Citizen, employed late in Peter’s life (Mark was the earliest Gospel written- sometime between 50-80 A.D. Traditionally, and by the archaeological evidence of his headstone, Peter died 64A.D.)

    • Mark Shea

      Actually, the internal evidence of both Mark and Luke makes it pretty obvious that they are very close to the events. Mark is eyewitness to some of the events (he does the classic thing ancient writers do by alluding to himself as the young man who ran off naked in the Garden of Gethsemane–a detail that is inexplicable otherwise). He also notes, almost casually, that “Rufus and Alexander” (who are known personally to his audience in Rome–Rufus is greeted in the letter to the Romans) are the sons of Simon of Cyrene. And, as Papias notes, he was the translator for Peter in Rome. Luke, likewise, is much closer to the eyewitnesses than your crank scholar who cannot even decide if Jesus never existed or is dead. He has access to the Jerusalem community, and to the Twelve. He also has access to information that can only have come from Mary herself. And, as I mentioned yesterday, internal evidence also strongly suggests that he knows both Joanna of the court of Herod and Clopas (the Emmaus Road Disciple), his wife, Mary, and James their son and the bishop of Jerusalem.

      Your expertise in John’s literacy is, I am sorry to say, suspect. Likewise, your regurgitation of what the Cthulu scholar and Rush mystic tells you to parrot. Seriously, get outside the bubble of the quacks and cranks of the Jesus Seminar. There’s a whole world of real biblical scholarship you are studiously ignoring. Once again I ask: If you are the practitioner of open-minded pursuit of the truth and Christians are the ignorant obscurists afraid to face facts, why do I have to constantly inveigle you to think outside your cramped little box of boutique “scholarship” that is only regarded as unassailable from within the hermetically sealed mind of the New Atheism?

  • An Atheist

    Dave G–around 75 for Mark, late 80s for Matthew and Luke, very early second century for John (another reason to dismiss the Disciple John as the author, do you have any idea who short life expectancy was for the working class then?)

    • “around 75 for Mark, late 80s for Matthew and Luke”

      Based on? Rejection of prophecy doesn’t count. That is circular reasoning.

      “very early second century for John”

      Pure baloney. John is dated at the ’80s at the latest. And that goes for Revelation as well.

      ” do you have any idea who short life expectancy was for the working class then?”

      Prove he died beforehand. People DID live past 70/80 back then. Rare but did happen. Your speculation is NOT proof.

    • Do you have any idea how old the apostles were when Christ was crucified? They were pretty young, and John, one of the youngest, so it is conceivable that he lived to the early second century.

    • Ted Seeber

      Those fit my estimates as well, the only difference being that I know the tradition as well as the archaeology; which puts John *very early* 2nd century (and explains why his version is so completely different from the synoptics, which were more obviously based on eyewitness evidence- if you include Thomas in the synoptics, that is).

  • An Atheist

    Yes, Colin, aristocrats did live that long sometimes. Fishermen did not. Heck at age 30 the Jews considered you an old man.

    • You still haven’t proven anything. Claim is rejected.

    • Ted Seeber

      John was a fisherman who *became* an aristocrat, thanks to his position in Jewish society and the Early Church (when we were still a Jewish sect).

    • Christopher Burd

      “Heck at age 30 the Jews considered you an old man.”

      You’ve fallen for the oldest, and most durable, myth of demography: the idea that very few people in the past lived beyond their 30s or 40s.

      No. Average life expectancy at birth was low, but mostly due to very high childhood mortality. Adults, even the poor, had a reasonable chance of reaching what we consider old age. In 18th century England, for example, average life expectancy was in the mid-30s, but if you made it to age 15, you had an even chance of living into your 60s and a one-quarter chance of living into your 70s. No doubt life in 1st century Palestine was harder, much harder, but the demographics followed the same general pattern.

      • SouthCoast

        I’ve been working on my own genealogy for the past few years, and your comments about life expectancy mirror what I’ve found for several centuries’ worth of pre-2oth century ancestors. (I’ve also found, contrary to common belief, that our ancestors did not, as a rule, marry as soon as they hit puberty, and that, contrary to feminist mythology, most women, amazingly, did NOT die in childbirth.)

      • Cinlef

        Out of curiousity what is your source? I ask cause that whole demographic myth thing comes up frequently in discussions with atheist friends and I’d like to be able to back up your claim…..

        • Christopher Burd

          I don’t recall the source of my 18c English data, but the Wikipedia article on Life Expectancy says roughly the same thing. It gives a 15yo in Classical Rome an even chance of living into their 50s, so clearly fewer than one-quarter would make it past 70, but a reasonable number would have. When the Bible gives the human lifespan of three score and ten, it means that people typically died of old age around 70.

  • Atheist, I am also reluctant to accept anyone’s word for something this important.

    I have seen. So will you. And if you don’t see you will cry out to see. Choose Light, who is the Christ, or choose darkness.


    Whose gleaming dust are you? said He,
    Will you agree to a bargain?
    I can arrange for you to be
    A falcon or a salmon

    You could command the bright updrafts
    Of the mighty hills of heaven,
    The souls of purgatory laugh
    That will be there by evening

    You might be flashing in the stream
    That issues from My fountain,
    Scales of gold and ruby gleam
    Beneath My silver mountain

    But I have thought another change
    Could be the one to fit you,
    A body that will seem most strange
    Though it will not upset you

    It is the glory of the joy
    With which you are endowed,
    This body I will not destroy
    For it does not suit the proud

    But you must be agreeable
    To be clothed in such attire,
    A form of light most beautiful
    For angels to admire

    April 2, 2012

  • Atheist, there is nothing more important in your life than to consider your destiny at the point of death and beyond, for surely you will die. Are you “glittering dust” that will disperse into the illimitable deserts of time and space? Think what you are doing and contemplating. You are dying even as we speak.