2007-04-04

Judas and the Devil take on Dan Brown

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by Neil Godfrey

Professor Francis Moloney is incensed that Dan Brown can get away with his Da Vinci Code nonsense without an equally popular rejoinder from orthodox scholarship, so has teamed up with convicted perjurer Jeffrey Archer to popularize the way gospels “really were written”. (See earlier posts in the Judas category.)

Nothing like the services of a convicted perjurer to get The Truth out there!

The tired old nonsense of “4 witnesses”
Francis Moloney has no doubt about the fact of Judas’ existence. The record is “too consistent across the four gospels” and apocryphals to be nonhistorical, he says. Hoo boy! So this is the level of scholarship that comes from the top ranks of biblical scholarship that is to take on Dan Brown! When will the falsehood of this tired yet so oft repeated “scholarly” argument ever sink through academe, let alone the public? Of course the “tradition is strong across the gospels” — Mark was the source gospel which the others ‘redacted’. 4 gospels accounts are not 4 “consistent” witnesses. They are one witness repeated 3 times.

The nonsense of the “definitive proof” of the existence of the Twelve
But worse, or more of the same. Francis Moloney also dogmatically states that it has been as good as “definitively proven” that there really were Twelve disciples of Jesus. I have reviewed one detailed article by one leading scholar (Meier) widely seen as “proof” of the existence of the Twelve in one of my section review of Bauckham’s Eyewitness book. Scroll about a third to half of the way down this post for my detailed review of this “definitive proof”.

Tutu too
And I see on one web site selling this “Gospel of Judas”, jointly authored by Archer and Moloney, that none other than Archbishop Desmond Tutu has prepared an audio book version.

Back to medieval level debates
What a way to experience the early years of the twenty-first century: the Dan Browns and Michael Baigents and co on the one side facing off this apparent “best” of orthodox biblical scholarship on the other! One can only hope it is true that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Because the money-making sham from both sides is really worthy of a much much earlier darker millennium than this one, surely!

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Neil Godfrey

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6 thoughts on “Judas and the Devil take on Dan Brown”

  1. To make that claim (i.e. that all we have as far as Jesus stories are concerned is one witnesses copied 3 times) you need to show that John is dependent on Mark as well. I don’t think there’s ever been a strong case for this claim. At the least we have two independent accounts, Mark and John. Then if you accept the existence of Q which Matthew and Luke used together with Mark (I am still skeptical) we have 3 independent sources for Jesus. Then add Paul and his allusions to Jesus and his earliest followers and you have yet another source.

    And think of what you would be doing to Ancient History in general if you applied this extreme skepticism. Dio Cassius would be thrown out because he relied upon Suetonius and Tacitus who in turn relied for much of their information on Velleus Paterculus.

  2. I was kind of hoping this book might be a bit of fun fiction bringing a different point of view to things. I didn’t realise that the authors were taking it so seriously…

    (I didn’t take Dan Brown very seriously either – though it seems like the rest of the world got pretty excited.)

  3. djfoobarmatt Says:
    April 4th, 2007 at 2:05 pm e

    “I was kind of hoping this book might be a bit of fun fiction bringing a different point of view to things.”

    I’ve couldn’t resist getting a copy and reading it. It really IS kind of fun fiction — seeing how a modern scholar has been piecing the different gospel accounts together to arrive at his Judas narrative.

    P.S. again — what was the Tubingen school link you referred to? Haven’t posted any new links of that sort here for quite some time now. My links to Chrisendom and NTGateway aren’t enough to allay your view that I’m nothing more than a one-eyed hyper-sceptic? 🙁

  4. # JD Walters Says:
    April 4th, 2007 at 4:30 pm e

    “To make that claim (i.e. that all we have as far as Jesus stories are concerned is one witnesses copied 3 times) you need to show that John is dependent on Mark as well. I don’t think there’s ever been a strong case for this claim.”

    Can there be mountains of doubt that the Passion Narrative found in all 4 gospels originated in a common source?

    “Then if you accept the existence of Q which Matthew and Luke used together with Mark (I am still skeptical) we have 3 independent sources for Jesus. Then add Paul and his allusions to Jesus and his earliest followers and you have yet another source.”

    This was not Malone’s claim. Besides, neither of us accepts Q so this leaves Paul. And Paul contains no narrative of Jesus.

    # JD Walters Says:
    April 4th, 2007 at 4:30 pm e

    “And think of what you would be doing to Ancient History in general if you applied this extreme skepticism. Dio Cassius would be thrown out because he relied upon Suetonius and Tacitus who in turn relied for much of their information on Velleus Paterculus.”

    Well I have specialized in the period from the Julio-Claudians to the Flavians over an intensive 10 month course and we got along just fine without Dio Cassius, and we were pretty sceptical of what we read in the other texts too. But we sure managed to get heaps of historical data and information from a wide range of sources to fill out the period regardless.

  5. If by common source you mean that there were people around who knew what had happened to Jesus the night of his betrayal, trial and execution, then sure the Passion Narratives have a common source. But if by that you mean that both Mark and John were using some combination of written/oral sources which they had no idea where they were from, or that John relied on Mark or at least the Markan Passion materials, then I don’t think you can sustain that, at least not on literary grounds. It is clear that Matthew and Luke use Markan Passion material. It is pretty obvious in my mind that John did not.

    Paul does not contain narratives of Jesus, but he does make reference to several figures and events which are known from the Gospels and Acts. Some of these allusions are very interesting. For instance, we know from Paul that Cephas or Peter was married (1 Corinthians 9:5) and then in the Gospel of Mark we see Jesus healing Simon’s mother in law. Paul also knows of James brother of the Lord, as well as ‘brothers of the Lord’ in general. I suppose now you’re going to suggest that some enterprising evangelist read Paul’s letters, found out that Peter was married and that Jesus had brothers, and on that basis concocted a miracle story involving, not Peter or his wife, but his mother-in-law, and also extrapolated from the fact that Jesus had brothers to create an elaborate subplot in which Jesus’ family, including his brothers, think that he’s crazy or at least are skeptical of his mission.

    (By the way, Earl Doherty’s argument to explain away the ‘brother of the Lord’ reference is remarkably weak. He says we shouldn’t make a distinction between ‘brother of the Lord’ and ‘brothers in the Lord’, the latter term of which Paul uses to describe many different people. It is quite clear that brother OF the Lord means something very particular, and Paul never uses it for anyone else other than James and the unnamed ‘brothers’ in 1 Corinthians 9:5. Besides, who in 2nd Temple Judaism would be audacious enough to call themselves the ‘brothers’ of the divine and exalted Son of God, if we assume that Paul is really talking about some movement of visionaries with no physical connection to the earthly Jesus?)

  6. I only suggest John knew Mark’s Passion Narrative because of what I have read in the literature. The main point (not mine — and no, I can’t think of the scholar/s who have written it off hand now) is that the structure of Peter’s denial bracketing Jesus’ hearing before the high priest that is the most decisive evidence that there was a common literary source.

    You wrote: “I suppose now you’re going to suggest that some enterprising evangelist read Paul’s letters, found out that Peter was married and that Jesus had brothers, and on that basis concocted a miracle story involving, not Peter or his wife, but his mother-in-law, and also extrapolated from the fact that Jesus had brothers to create an elaborate subplot in which Jesus’ family, including his brothers, think that he’s crazy or at least are skeptical of his mission.”

    Sorry, but I don’t play those games with the evidence. I deal in probabilities and plausibilities — a level of knowledge that apparently leaves you uncomfortable.

    I am glad you see what is “quite clear” in the evidence as we have it — I cannot be so bold or presumptuous with it.

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