2010-10-03

How shall they hear about Jesus unless from a Christian preacher?

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by Neil Godfrey

Paul raises a problem for those who take for granted the historicity of Jesus on the strength of the existence of the NT canon. He rhetorically asserts that Jews in his own day had no chance of hearing about Jesus unless they hear a Christian preacher inform them about him.

The standard response to this problem for historicity is that Paul is only speaking of Jews in the Diaspora. But this standard response is offered without reference to the context of Paul’s statement, and when one does take a look at that context, one quickly sees that the response is ill-informed. Paul is definitely speaking about all Jews, even especially those based in Palestine!

Steven Carr has raised this question a number of times with those arguing for the historicity of Jesus and has met with scorn, accusations of being abusive, silence, or the standard “Paul was talking about the Diaspora Jews.”

I am posting here to draw attention to the context of Paul’s statement, and the ignorance of the response that he was referring to Diaspora Jews only:

How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

Paul from the beginning of his letter to the Romans is discussing both Jews and gentiles in tandem, and he makes it clear he is discussing all Jews against all gentiles, without distinctions as to geographic locale or customs. Romans 1-2 sets the two beside each other: all mankind is addressed; both gentiles and Jews. The difference between the two is that one has inherited the Mosaic law and the other has not.

Familiarity leads us to read right over that! What advantage do the Jews have that the gentiles lack? Answer:

What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them was sent the Son of God, for God so loved the world that he sent to his own chosen people, the Jews, his very own Son to perform wonders and heal them, so they heard him, saw him, touched him, witnessed his raising of people from the dead, healing the blind, teaching with authority, forgiving sins, . . . .

No, that never crosses Paul’s mind here. Rather, the biggest advantage the Jews have over gentiles is that they have the Bible!

What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. . .  Now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by Jesus Christ by the Law and the Prophets!

So Romans 3 digs a little deeper into the comparisons, but it is clear Paul is speaking of ALL Jews when he distinguishes them from gentiles for having the special advantages of possessing the oracles of God. Paul is not addressing the Diaspora as distinct from other Jews. He is addressing the Jews as the possessors of the Bible.

Paul here explains that Jews are no worse sinners than gentiles, and gentiles are no better than Jews, because Jews and gentiles alike have sinned equally before God.

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.

Paul speaks of the Jews, of Israel, as having been rejected for now, and he does so at length in chapters 10 and 11.

And why have they been rejected? Paul again explains why the whole of Israel has been rejected:

They have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:2-3)

This is a very strange way to explain that God rejects them because they killed his son.

Paul is speaking of the Jewish people within the context of their Palestinian base. He addresses them in terms of what the Bible says about them in Palestine. He faults them through the words of Elijah for having killed the prophets (Romans 11:3):

Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars . . .

So how has God punished them for killing the prophets (not Jesus)?

God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that should not see, and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.

Paul says God has punished them by blinding their eyes and deafening their ears to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is being preached by apostles like himself.

The sin of the Jews, according to Paul, is not that they killed and rejected Jesus. It is that they rejected — or failed to understand — the Gospel about Jesus that he preaches.

Paul faults Jews for their wrong understanding about the Law and the Prophets. Romans 10:1-8

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness [is this the worst of their sins, so that there is no room to even refer to their crucifying Christ?], have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”

But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend to heaven?'” (that is to bring Christ down from heaven)

or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

But what does it say? “The word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): . . . .

Paul is clearly speaking of all humanity in his letter, and the point of his claims about the Jews is that they have failed to understand their scriptures, meaning they have failed to interpret them in the way Paul does. This is their sin and what makes them no better than the gentiles.

Paul is in agony over them for their blindness to the gospel as it is being preached in his own time. He has no historical awareness of an act of rejection of Jesus.

He begins his letter to the Romans by explaining that he, Paul, has been the recipient of the gospel of God that was promised long ago in the Bible (the Prophets). This gospel is about Jesus, but it is the gospel itself that was promised by the Prophets, not Jesus, according to Paul in Romans 1:1-2

the gospel of God which he promised before through his prophets in the holy Scriptures

A few verses later he writes that it is the Gospel itself, not Jesus, that is the power of salvation:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel [of Christ], for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. . .

He then lists all the unrighteous acts of men for which the wrath of God falls:

  • making images of God and worshiping them
  • sexual sins
  • covetousness
  • envy
  • murder
  • deceit
  • backbiters
  • haters of God
  • proud
  • boasters
  • disobedient to parents
  • untrustworthy
  • unforgiving

I suppose he meant readers to who thought of it to file the death of Jesus under one or two of those labels.

Paul is not addressing the Diaspora as distinct from the Jews in Judea, and this is abundantly clear throughout the entire epistle. The entire theme and message of Paul hinges on his meaning the Jews totally — all Jews — as opposed to all gentiles. That is his point.

Biblical scholars who deny this, or attempt to ignore it, are not doing their profession any credit and are shortchanging their lay readership even more.

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  • mikelioso
    2010-10-04 03:17:14 GMT+0000 - 03:17 | Permalink

    “He faults them through the words of Elijah for having killed the prophets (Romans 11:3):

    Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars . . .

    So how has God punished them for killing the prophets (not Jesus)?”
    “The sin of the Jews, according to Paul, is not that they killed and rejected Jesus. It is that they rejected — or failed to understand — the Gospel about Jesus that he preaches.”
    A. Why would a quote from the book of Kings include a reference to Jesus? Elijah wasn’t that good a prophet. B. Why would Paul accuse Jews of killing Jesus? Because he read it in the Gospels?

    Back to the original point endlessly raised by Steven Carr, There is nothing here incompatible with Jesus being a guy from Palestine. I have no reason to believe a significant number of people would have heard of him at Paul’s time. I mean in Palestine sure, The apostles had been preaching there for a couple of decades at least by the time Roman was written, and Paul claims to have spent time before his conversion persecuting Christians, so enough people had heard of him to get his attention. But I think enough Jews were ignorant of this guy to warrant Paul giving props to his beautiful feet bringing the news. This would especially be true before the time of Romans. On the day of Jesus hypothetical death, how many people would have known who this guy is? Running around screaming “Jesus is Lord!!” a couple of months later would have required a bit of explaining out side the lake of Galilee area. Even there that he was Lord would have produced head scratching to the less credulous. I just can’t see Paul referring to all Jews here as if no one had preached to any Jews yet. Even if they were familiar with who Jesus was, even if they had been a follower, they still would need to hear from an apostle to call on him the way Paul would like you too. How many of crowds would have thought Jesus was Lord or that he had risen from the grave? And did someone need to be sent to preach to the 500 people that Paul claims saw the resurrected Jesus, so they can hear about Jesus? There is nothing in this statement that should lead one to believe that no one had ever heard of Jesus until a Christian missionary told them. Steven thinks he has some magic bullet, and will continue to post it on blogs, bathroom stalls, where ever, but only another Steven Carr would ever think it is profound.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-04 04:24:13 GMT+0000 - 04:24 | Permalink

    I see Mike is unable to quote any bits of Paul, explaining that the reason Jews had not heard of Jesus, was that Jesus was an obscure figure that not many people recognised at the time.

    ‘How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?’

    Paul’s rhetorical flourish is that the only way any Jew could have heard of Jesus is by somebody preaching about him.

    MIKE
    There is nothing in this statement that should lead one to believe that no one had ever heard of Jesus until a Christian missionary told them.

    CARR
    ‘Nothing in this statement’…

    Apart from the clear words that how could anybody have heard of Jesus apart from Christians preaching about him, there is nothing in Paul to say ‘how shall they hear without a preacher?’

    How did Mike learn to argue so badly? BTW, there is nothing in that statement implying that Mike argues badly…..

    Don’t forget that in Romans 13, Paul assures people that the innocent had nothing to fear from the Roman authorities, who had, of course, stripped, whipped, flogged. struck, beat, tortured and crucified Jesus.

  • 2010-10-04 05:12:05 GMT+0000 - 05:12 | Permalink

    Mike, ask why Paul turns to quoting OT passages and demonstrates no knowledge of any gospel narrative. Better still, play a game of reading Paul as if the letters have just been found in a cave and his name had been lost, and there was a mix of other philosophical and religious scrolls with his letters. What is there in Romans that would identify it as belonging to the religion of the gospels?

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-04 05:50:40 GMT+0000 - 05:50 | Permalink

    “Paul’s rhetorical flourish is that the only way any Jew could have heard of Jesus is by somebody preaching about him.”
    The problem is Paul doesn’t say this, you have interpreted Paul’s words in this way, and it makes no sense in light of Paul’s other statements. I don’t think you quite understand the meaning of rhetorical or how Paul uses rhetorical statements, and if you did I don’t think you would let it get in the way of of you arguments which I suspect are aimed at casual readers, not anyone with a significant command of the materials discussed. Following your logic, wouldn’t rom:16-18 signify that Paul believed every Jew on earth had heard about Jesus? Did he really think that?
    On Rom 13, what are you trying to say? That the crucification of Jesus by Romans obligated them to rebel against Rome? None of the Gospels gives us that idea, Jesus is crucified on Pilate’s order, and Jesus says to render to Caesar what is his. That Rome was a perfect instrument of God’s will? Did Paul then believe all slave owners were just since he argue that slaves should obey masters? You have a good command of sophistry but a poor one of literature.

    Neil, your questions about Paul’s non use of the materials used by the gospels is an interesting one, but given what we know from Paul’s letters, I don’t think any of the Christ myth theories discussed are suitable explanations. While we could always cut out those parts that don’t support a Christ myth as interpolations or find another way to read a passage. With tools like these, of course, Paul can be used to support a lot of ideas, but I find no compelling reason to choose this one. I would need more evidence that there was such a religion before contemplating alterations to the text or unusual readings to make Paul conform to the expectations of a Christ Myth.

    • 2010-10-04 06:45:48 GMT+0000 - 06:45 | Permalink

      Why not just read what the text says?

    • 2010-10-04 09:33:45 GMT+0000 - 09:33 | Permalink

      You are arguing like a biblical scholar. You say other statements of Paul’s make a nonsense of the plain reading of the text in question, but do not cite any of those other statements to prove your point. Then you bring up the interpolation canard without any examples to prove your point, and then infer a straightforward reading is a convoluted one if it does not conform to the story we get from the gospels of Acts.

      So the avoidance game continues. Avoid responding with any support for your assertions against the text in question, and then lash out at any other argument or text you have been told mythicists use for good measure.

      This is the standard of response we have come to expect from mainstream biblical scholars. But we should not lower our standards to theirs.

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-04 13:59:36 GMT+0000 - 13:59 | Permalink

    “Paul is speaking of the Jewish people within the context of their Palestinian base. He addresses them in terms of what the Bible says about them in Palestine. He faults them through the words of Elijah for having killed the prophets (Romans 11:3):

    Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars . . . ”

    Is there a set of Jewish scripture that is not Palestinian in its base? Ester? Mind you I do think that Paul is addressing all Jews here, but many of them lived out side of Biblical Israel. Paul seems to say that they have all heard the word about Christ. (Rom 10:17-18) Quoting Psalm 19:4, he says that the preaching has gone to all the earth, to the ends of the world. I’m not sure that it had or that Paul would be aware if all the Jews had heard the gospel, this may be a bit of hyperbole. The context for Paul’s statement here in chap. 10 is that if you confess Jesus is Lord and believe God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. That is Paul’s message, his Gospel. Merely having heard of Jesus will not work, as he mentions in 17, faith comes by hearing and what you hear is the the word about Christ, Paul’s Gospel. Hence anyone who Jesus hadn’t personally preached(this includes resurrection visions) this Gospel to would need to have it preached to them, and the many Jews who lived outside Palestine and those there that didn’t follow the news would need to be told. There is no mystery that Paul doesn’t assume that “the Jews” were not already familiar with this stuff, Jesus or Paul’s good news about Christ.

  • Anonymous
    2010-10-04 14:49:52 GMT+0000 - 14:49 | Permalink

    MIKE
    Hence anyone who Jesus hadn’t personally preached(this includes resurrection visions) this Gospel to would need to have it preached to them, and the many Jews who lived outside Palestine and those there that didn’t follow the news would need to be told.

    MIKE
    Mind you I do think that Paul is addressing all Jews here, but many of them lived out side of Biblical Israel.

    CARR
    Even Mike recognises that there is not one word in Romans to distinguish Jews living in Biblical Israel from Jews outside Biblical Israel, which had presumably been hermetically sealed off by the Romans to prevent anybody outside Biblical Israel hearing about Jesus.

    Mike’s conclusion that when Paul says how will they hear of Jesus without a preacher, he is distinguising between Jews in Israel and Jews outside Israel is not supported by the text.

    Of course many Christian apologists claim that Tacitus and Josephus were not getting their information about Jesus directly from Christians, although we are now told that not one person outside Israel could have been expected to know the name Jesus other than through Christian preaching.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-04 14:55:46 GMT+0000 - 14:55 | Permalink

    MIKE
    On Rom 13, what are you trying to say? That the crucification of Jesus by Romans obligated them to rebel against Rome?

    CARR
    Oh this is just irritating.

    I dislike it when you have to teach people to argue properly and stop making stupid straw men, designed apparently to make people angry at the distortion of their words so you cna write them off as angry atheists.

    Here is what Romans 13 says.

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

    ‘He does not bear the sword for nothing’?

    How can Paul talk like that about the authorities that killed Jesus, when he has just lambasted the Jews for killing the prophets?

    • 2010-10-04 20:34:58 GMT+0000 - 20:34 | Permalink

      The game is all one way. Mythicists engage mainstream scholarship, but the last mainstream tackling of mythicism I think was Eddy and Boyd, or maybe van Voorst. The trouble is mythicism as argued by Price, Doherty et al is able to take on those challenges and demonstrate their inadequacies all too easily. So I think critics have found they stand a much better chance of fighting mythicism (it is something that has to be fought, it seems) by arguing without reference to what mythicists actually say and even without reference to the evidence under discussion. By this tactic they can claim that it is the mythicists who are avoiding the challenges raised (because the challenges are straw men) and not the historicists. McGrath even faulted this post and mythicism in general for not offering a plausible scenario about how and why it happened — which is the best he can do when his claim that Paul was referring to the Diaspora has been demolished and since he needs history to be on his side. (The other tactic is to avoid reading mythicist publications, and when you do read one, totally ignore its arguments in a review and write that it did not say things that it in fact did say.)

      But I’m looking forward to Casey’s book. I am sure it will be the revolution we have all been waiting for.

      • Steven Carr
        2010-11-02 18:46:15 GMT+0000 - 18:46 | Permalink

        Casey’s book is a revolution. He can reconstruct the Aramaic words Jesus used when teaching the Lord’s Prayer.

        I don’t think Maurice Casey can name a first century Christian who wrote a document in Aramaic, but that doesn’t stop him reading these documents and deciding if they are genuine or not.

        Actually, Maurice Casey can name a first century Christian who wrote in Aramaic. Casey points out on page 51 that Papias said the apostle and tax-collector Matthew wrote down Jesus traditions in Aramaic.

        Yes.

        Good old Papias again……

        Papias said it. I believe it. That settles it.

        Casey claims the author of ‘Matthew’ used the apostle Matthew as his major source, and it is really difficult to date Matthew after 50 AD.

        Truly revolutionary.

        • 2010-11-02 20:35:12 GMT+0000 - 20:35 | Permalink

          This is exciting stuff. What does Casey say about Matthew 24, the Little Apocalypse? Was it included with some event around 40 ce in mind? Was Matthew’s audience getting despondent about the delay in the return of Christ while all the apostles were still actively spreading the word and before that generation was only half way to old age?

          So all that scholarship that established Matthew was not orginally written in Hebrew or Aramaic but originally in Greek is now wrong?

        • 2010-11-03 08:31:21 GMT+0000 - 08:31 | Permalink

          And still the voice of Schwartz from 1904, when he wrote of the evidence of Papias, is waiting to be heard:

          The history of classical literature has gradually learned to work with the notions of the literary-historical legend, novella, or fabrication; after untold attempts at establishing the factuality of statements made it has discovered that only in special cases does there exist a tradition about a given literary production independent of the self-witness of the literary production itself; and that the person who utilizes a literary-historical tradition must always first demonstrate its character as a historical document. General grounds of probability cannot take the place of this demonstration.

          It is no different with Christian authors. In his literary history Eusebius has taken reasonable pains; as he says in the preface he had no other material at his disposal than the self-witness of the books at hand. Not once was he able to say anything about the external history of the works of Origen, in which he was genuinely interested, apart from what he found in or among them.

          And if in the case of authors who as individuals and sometimes as well-known personalities stood in the glare of publicity there is so little information about their production, how much more is this not the situation in the case of the Gospels, whose authors intentionally or unintentionally adhered to the obscurity of the Church, since they neither would nor could be anything other than preachers of the one message, a message that was independent of their humanity?

          There is not even a shadow of a hope that their ever existed any trustworthy information about the way in which the Gospels came into being: the Christians of antiquity had other cares than to search out and preserve the history of the inscripturation of the Gospels, and when Gnosticism forced this concern upon them they filled the vacuum with inventions of their own as Gnosticism did before them.

          This is from an academic paper delivered in 1904 by E. Schwartz: “Uber den Tod der Sohne Zebedaei. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Johannesevangeliums” (= Gesammelte Schriften V, 1963,48-123). It is cited in a 1991 chapter by Luise Abramowski titled “The ‘Memoirs of the Apostles’ in Justin” pp.331-332 published in “The Gospel and the Gospels” ed. Peter Stuhlmacher. I have broken up the paragraph for easier reading. Italics are original.

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-04 21:59:15 GMT+0000 - 21:59 | Permalink

    Carr, why does Luke say that we should render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and give such a glowing picture of Roman authorities after having read Mark? These guys don’t want there congregations being perceived as trouble makers. It is very simple. People wouldn’t have to construct straw men if you bothered to explain you arguments. And I don’t need argument lesson from you, I swear for the longest time I thought you were a teenager.

    Anonymous, I don’t think no one out outside of Israel had heard of Jesus, but I can’t imagine many had. He wouldn’t really be a miraculous super man. Exorcist and mystics were a dime a dozen. Even on the day of his crucification I don’t think every one in Jerusalem would have known who he is or bothered to learn his name. Paul’s statement is basically true. If we don’t tell them who Jesus is how will they know? There is no point for him to break this down into Jews who have heard of Jesus vs. Jews who haven’t, especially since even Jews who have heard of Jesus wouldn’t know about Christ. Yes, the statement still works if no Jew had heard of Jesus, but to think that it requires us to believe that is idiotic, that’s why it hasn’t been an issue with anyone before. Carr you may seek solace in that it hasn’t been noticed because of the big Christian Conspiracy that has strangled mainstream scholarship, what ever helps you sleep at night.

    • Steven Carr
      2010-11-02 18:12:59 GMT+0000 - 18:12 | Permalink

      MIKE
      Even on the day of his crucification I don’t think every one in Jerusalem would have known who he is or bothered to learn his name.

      CARR
      Maurice Casey says in his latest Jesus book that Jesus was killed because he was the leader of a ‘vigorous movement’, and that the vigour of this movement was enough to worry Pilate, who thought this Jesus was claiming to be a ‘king’.

      Now we learn that Jesus was hardly known inside Jerusalem.

      That is the good thing about historical Jesus scholarship.

      You can always refute mythicist claim A by simply giving the opposite of whatever refuted mythicist claim B.

      Despite the fact that Paul (according to Mike) knew that nobody would have heard of Jesus, Jesus was killed for leading a vigorous movement.

      • mikelioso
        2010-11-03 01:20:19 GMT+0000 - 01:20 | Permalink

        I’ll have to read Casey’s book. Maybe he knows something I don’t? Mark throws out 5,000 for a big crowed for Jesus, but Josephus credits the “Egyptian” with a crowd of 30,000. Big crowd is in the eye of the beholder I guess. There are a lot of HJ reconstructions out there, a reason I’m looking at other avenues for graduate studies. You have a thousand mother f’ers all tripping over the same five scraps of knowledge. They are fewer Jesus Myth reconstructions, but that is in proportion to the fewer JM scholars and pseudo scholars(I wouldn’t want to over look the work of Doherty, Freke, Gandy, and Acharya). None the less there are still several theories of Jesus myth to choose from, so you could refute historicist theory A with the opposite of whatever refuted historicist theory B.

      • 2010-11-03 08:41:57 GMT+0000 - 08:41 | Permalink

        Yet if Jesus was the leader of a “vigorous movement” then we come back to the question of why Pilate did not also crucify is close associates. Fredriksen won some acclaim for discovering that the only answer to make sense of this anomaly is that Jesus was NOT the leader of a “vigorous movement”.

        This kind of makes the criticism that divergent Christ Myth scenarios invalidates the Christ Myth idea itself a bit odd.

        • mikelioso
          2010-11-03 09:33:46 GMT+0000 - 09:33 | Permalink

          This kind of makes the criticism that divergent Christ Myth scenarios invalidates the Christ Myth idea itself a bit odd.

          If this refers to me, it wasn’t an attempt to invalidate the the Christ myth, only to say there are multiple Christ myths as they are multiple Historical Jesus’. If you asked 10,000 scholars of classical history to write a paper on the how Julius Caesar’s economic policies affected Rome you would get a lot of different opinions as well. Multiple opinions doesn’t mean that a field of inquiry is wrong, just not certainly determined.

          If it doesn’t refer to me, then sorry for my arrogance.

          • 2010-11-03 14:28:37 GMT+0000 - 14:28 | Permalink

            Was not referring to you, but I will say the comparison you raise is not the same as we have with the historical debates about Julius Caesar. There is no question that “nonbiblical historians” interpret the facts differently. That is what von Ranke meant by history being “an art”. That is how history works.

            What we have in the case of historical Jesus variant views is not interpretation of facts, or the weaving of established facts into a new story, but a series of arguments for what the actual “facts” are.

            A more valid comparison would be if historians of Julius Caesar were debating whether or not he was a military leader who wielded political influence in Rome or whether he never at any time had the slightest interest in entering politics and only had loose connections with the military and never led a force into Italy.

            Historians don’t have to debate anything as fundamental as that with Julius Caesar because they have independently and externally corroborated testimonies that are consistent with primary evidence that establish the facts of Julius Caesar’s life to a very high degree of probability.

            When it comes to Jesus they don’t know squat. Was he a rabbi, a revolutionary or a rosicrucian? The various “reconstructions” of the “historical Jesus” are not comparable to the different interpretations of the facts about Julius Caesar. The reconstructions are all arguments that such and such, and not this or that, should be counted as evidence for what he did and who he was etc.

            If ancient historians did not know enough about Julius Caesar to inform them with a high degree of probability of what he did in military and political life of ancient Rome they would never bother discussing him in the first place.

            But with historical Jesus studies it doesn’t matter that there is no universally agreed set of facts to interpret and debate in various ways. All the fun is in each scholar deciding, “Hey, I think Jesus was or did this and that, and disagree with you who say he did and said something else.”

            Do you see the difference? The Julius Caesar historian knows what JC did and who JC was, and they attempt to interpret these facts in various ways; the Jesus historians are arguing about what their JC was and did and said. They have not even got to the first base that the Julius Caesar historians start from.

            As I have attempted to demonstrate and argue a few times, without any coherent response from biblical scholar yet, biblical historians of the NT use “criteria” to try to decide what should be considered a “fact”. They say that they are using the same methods as nonbiblical historians.

            But in fact, though they are using the same tools (i.e. criteria), they are not using them in the same way nonbiblical historians use them. Nonbiblical historians use criteria to help them interpret known facts. HJ scholars misapply those tools and invalidly use them to try to find “facts” to begin with.

            • Steven Carr
              2010-11-03 15:54:58 GMT+0000 - 15:54 | Permalink

              NEIL
              or the weaving of established facts into a new story

              CARR
              Dale Aiison says he gets facts from fictions.

              He looks at a lot of fictions, or at least at a lot of things he doubts can be historical, and the general impression they give is a ‘fact’.

            • mikelioso
              2010-11-03 23:53:14 GMT+0000 - 23:53 | Permalink

              I think the issue of knowing who x is or what x did is a problem for all branches of history, not just HJ studies. The notion that no historian would discuss a person without rock solid evidence concerning their deeds and status just isn’t in evidence. Take for example Hannibal, sadly Carthaginian records are lacking, but he is such a fascinating character that there are no0 shortage of historians that want to discuss him. Now our sources for Hannibal are better than Jesus, but there are still areas historians like to step into despite a lack of truly irrefutable evidence. Take this line from the encyclopedia Britannica,
              http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/254423/Hannibal/3010/Early-life?anchor=ref219464
              “According to Polybius and Livy, the main Latin sources for his life, Hannibal was taken to Spain by his father and at an early age was made to swear eternal hostility to Rome.”
              Neither man was there nor is there any way to know if they had an accurate source for this. It could be argued that it was made up, but it is not irresponsible for them to publish this in the entry on Hannibal, or for another historian to wonder on the significance this had on the man and his actions. But we have to accept the possibility that this is just a story.

              While virtually no one argues against Christianity being a religion in the second and third centuries, or that they believed the religions was founded by a man named Jesus, establishing anything about Jesus brings one into unstable ground. If for example you want to put forward the theory that Jesus was a mythical figure invented by early Christians, you are forced to deal in speculation based on sources of uncertain value. This does not make the inquiry invalid though.

          • Steven Carr
            2010-11-03 15:51:48 GMT+0000 - 15:51 | Permalink

            MIKE
            If you asked 10,000 scholars of classical history to write a paper on the how Julius Caesar’s economic policies affected Rome…

            CARR
            Half of them would say Julius Caesar was obscure,and the other half would say he claimed to be the leader of a ‘vigorous movement’.

            That’s historical scholarship for you. No better than Biblical scholarship.

  • 2010-10-04 22:19:34 GMT+0000 - 22:19 | Permalink

    You’re not only neglecting to engage mainstream scholarship of the text, you’re neglecting to engage the text as a whole and engaging in prooftexting. Romans 9:5 doesn’t even seem to be on your radar here.

    • 2010-10-05 11:15:13 GMT+0000 - 11:15 | Permalink

      So the best James can do is falsely claim that I neglect the mainstream scholarship when he knows very well I have engaged the mainstream scholarship, even at length and in depth in direct response to his own challenges, (e.g. see my posts and comments with engagement with or reference to mainstream scholars like Sanders and Meiers and Bauckham and Ashton and Borg and Crossan and Mack and Fredriksen and Crossley and DeConnick and Dunn and Engberg-Pedersen and Evans and Hoffmann and Hurtado and Levinson and Munro and Pervo and Riley and Robinson and Nickelsburg and McKnight and Vermes and Wright and Horsley and Stanton and Theissen and Kloppenborg and Goodacre and Charlesworth and Hahn and Holladay and Neusner and Allison and Wrede and Levenson and Maccoby and Smith and Erhman and Ludemann and Davies and McGrath himself and many more, not to mention the mainstream milestones of the nature of modern historiography from its earliest days to Carr to Elton to Collingwood to the postmodernists) and fail to point me to any mainstream scholarship that will rebut the interpretation of the Romans passage I suggest when read without gospels-Acts presuppositions read into it.

      I engage the text within the context of both the immediate context in my post, and within the context of the book as a whole, and all James can do is complain I neglect to engage the text — but offers no detail or explanation where I have failed to do so.

      I demonstrate the thrust of Paul’s thought throughout Romans to place the passage in context and McGrath, rather than present a simple and civil counter argument as a Dawkins or a Coyne would show they can offer in response ill-informed arguments about biology, can merely complain I am “prooftexting”.

      And meanwhile all the rebuttal he can offer is a prooftext himself, as Steven Carr has demonstrated in other comments here.

      If McGrath can explain how Romans 9:5 overthrows the argument of my post I would be most interested. I suspect he thinks it does so because it testifies to anyone said to be descended from Abraham is by default genuinely historical. James might be interested in catching up with some OT scholarship and find that Abraham himself has long been buried as a historical person.

      • 2010-10-06 10:51:41 GMT+0000 - 10:51 | Permalink

        Recall that in NT studies “engage” means “agree with” — or at most “point in a slightly different direction, but stay reverential.”

        • 2010-10-06 16:44:20 GMT+0000 - 16:44 | Permalink

          Reminds me of some years I spent in an authoritarian cult. We were allowed to ask critical questions but only if we expressed them in a “right attitude” — meaning we were wanting to learn what the authority said we should think and agree with it, or if we could not agree, to keep out mouths shut and not “cause division” — and submit even if we thought we were submitting to error

          I was fascinated with an program not very long ago in which now elderly (ex)members of the Hitler Youth were interviewed. They said the same thing: they were allowed to ask critical questions but only if they did so with a “right attitude”.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-04 22:44:47 GMT+0000 - 22:44 | Permalink

    ‘Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!’

    Where does that mean that Paul thinks Jews should have heard of Jesus by hearing him,rather than hearing Christians preach about him?

    MIKE
    Carr, why does Luke say that we should render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and give such a glowing picture of Roman authorities after having read Mark?

    CARR
    Because when ‘Luke’ gets to detailing about how the Romans dealt with Christians, the real history appears to be that the Romans had never heard of Jesus and had no idea that they were dealing with followers of a crucified criminal.

    ‘6Claudius Lysias, To His Excellency, Governor Felix: Greetings. 27This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, but I came with my troops and rescued him, for I had learned that he is a Roman citizen. 28I wanted to know why they were accusing him, so I brought him to their Sanhedrin. 29I found that the accusation had to do with questions about their law, but there was no charge against him that deserved death or imprisonment.’

    Jesus has disappeared from history,as though he had never been.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-04 22:47:34 GMT+0000 - 22:47 | Permalink

    MIKE
    Even on the day of his crucification I don’t think every one in Jerusalem would have known who he is or bothered to learn his name.

    CARR
    So nobody knew who Jesus was until Christians preached about him, which is why he was killed as a leader of a populist rebel movement.

    And then the Romans could find nothing to fault Christians with, once they start preaching that somebody crucified as a rebel against Rome was the true Lord.

    It all makes sense if you only look at the historicist case seriously. It’s only mythicists who cannot make all these ends tie up.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-05 02:16:06 GMT+0000 - 02:16 | Permalink

    ‘‘Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!’

    McGrath flourishes his prooftext that Jesus lived in Galilee by pointing to his proof text which said Jesus was descended from a lot of people who never existed.

    Or perhaps they did?

    The Bible says the patriarchs were descended from Adam and Eve.

    So the patriarchs must have existed! QED!

    Claiming somebody is descended ‘on his human ancestry’ from the patriarchs is no more proof of historicity than claiming they were descended from Adam and Eve.

    What it is proof of is that Jesus was not a human being in the way people walking the earth are human.

    Or else Paul would not have to talk funny about the ‘human ancestry’ of Jesus if Jesus was just a normal human who got ancestors in the normal way.

    Like Paul who has no need to talk funny when talking about his own ancestry ‘I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.’

    No ‘kata sarx’ for Paul in talking about his ancestry, as everybody knew he was a flesh and blood being, and not some figure who was tied to the world of flesh by some mystical process.

  • 2010-10-05 11:00:18 GMT+0000 - 11:00 | Permalink

    And presumably Hezekiah didn’t exist, since sources in both the Old and New Testaments connect his ancestry to Adam.

    It’s a pity Sennacherib had to go and mention him, and ruin a perfectly good mythicist “argument”.

    • 2010-10-05 15:25:44 GMT+0000 - 15:25 | Permalink

      Would you like to actually read Steven’s argument before demonstrating yet again your proclivity to make erroneous assumptions about what you read in blogs and elsewhere on the internet?

  • 2010-10-05 15:02:19 GMT+0000 - 15:02 | Permalink

    Looks like I’m the last one to discover that previous exchanges between my posts and a certain professor has been discussed at some length by the ever-balanced and balancing Rick Sumner at http://dilettante-exegete.blogspot.com/ — scroll to March 12 2010.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-05 15:36:56 GMT+0000 - 15:36 | Permalink

    To be honest, I don’t think McGrath can read what mythicists say.

    McGrath claimed that Romans 9:5 means Jesus existed, because it says that Jesus was descended according to the flesh from people who did not exist.

    I pointed out that being descended from people who did not exist is not a proof that somebody existed.

    McGrath reads that as a claim that every single person alleged to be descended from non-existent people must be themselves non-existent.

    This is such a bad misreading that it is either malicious, or the work of somebody blinded by emotion.

    It is not as though the following sentence was hard to comprehend. Probably 35% or more of McGrath’s own students could understand the following sentence if they were given 10 minutes to think about what it might mean.

    ‘Claiming somebody is descended ‘on his human ancestry’ from the patriarchs is no more proof of historicity than claiming they were descended from Adam and Eve.’

    McGrath likes to compare himself with evolutionists refuting creationists.

    I know Dawkins , and James, you are no Dawkins.

    • 2010-10-05 21:00:32 GMT+0000 - 21:00 | Permalink

      I can understand being blinded by emotion, and I can understand wilful malice, but I cannot understand how one can become a post-graduate student, let along a doctor and professor, without paying some attention to the fundamental logic of another’s and one’s own arguments. The occasional lapse, forgiven. But this is consistent. And it seems to be characteristic of a good portion of what comes out of biblical studies.

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-05 23:27:09 GMT+0000 - 23:27 | Permalink

    “Or else Paul would not have to talk funny about the ‘human ancestry’ of Jesus if Jesus was just a normal human who got ancestors in the normal way.

    Like Paul who has no need to talk funny when talking about his own ancestry ‘I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.’”

    Steve, Paul talks funny about his ancestry at Romans 4:1, 11:14, and 9:3

    On McGrath’s mention of 9:5 I think the point is Paul thought Jesus was a real person, like Hezekiah, not that the claim of decent from the patriarchs is evidence that Jesus or Hezekiah existed.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-06 04:58:37 GMT+0000 - 04:58 | Permalink

    Mike , of course, does not quote Paul, so I am left with the tedious task of actually quoting these passages where Mike claimed Paul ‘talked funny’ simply to illustrate the lack of truth in the claim.

    Romans 4:1
    1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter?

    Romans 11:14
    in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.

    Romans 9:3
    For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race

    Why do we always have to do that?

    Why do we always have to take the trouble to read historicist claims to see that they are never accurate?

    Why can’t they take the time to actually check what they say before they announce that they have an ‘argument’?

    Do they think that if they throw out enough unsubstantiated stuff, people will tire of pointing out the truth about the Biblical text?

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-06 05:34:08 GMT+0000 - 05:34 | Permalink

    Steve, it may amuse you to know Paul did not write in English. So you don’t have to shop around. I’ll give you some other translations, you can find them here

    http://net.bible.org/search.php?search=greek_strict_index:sarka

    NRSV ©

    Rom 4:1
    What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh?

    NKJV ©

    Rom 11:14
    if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.

    NKJV ©

    Rom 9:3
    For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,

    That word, sarka, means “flesh”. A lot of translators don’t use it because it isn’t how we speak in casual English and they don’t want to confuse casual readers with weird idioms. Sorry I didn’t explain earlier, you seem passionate about the subject, so I thought you might have some background in it. I’ve gotten in the habit if someone sugest a passage that doesn’t seem right, I look up other translations, if i’m really confused i’ll look it up in the original language. That net bible has been a big help in that. There may be better sites, but I haven’t heard any complaints yet.

    • 2010-10-06 10:33:59 GMT+0000 - 10:33 | Permalink

      Mike wrote: A lot of translators don’t use it because it isn’t how we speak in casual English…

      No human language is idiomatically identical to any other human language. And that’s why in the NASB, σάρξ is variously translated as:

      bodily (1), bodily condition (1), body (2), earth (1), earthly (1), fellow countrymen (1), flesh (129), fleshly (4), life (3), man (1), mankind (1), nation (1), personally (1)*

      It depends on the sense of the entire sentence. In general, I’m partial to translations that are direct and literal, but in the case of “flesh” as it is used in the Bible, it often refers more to the corruptible, earthly, human condition rather than the literal “hominid meat.”

      * http://strongsnumbers.com/greek/4561.htm

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-06 15:08:20 GMT+0000 - 15:08 | Permalink

    MIKE
    18.Steve, it may amuse you to know Paul did not write in English. So you don’t have to shop around.

    CARR
    Mike makes an excellent point and points out the blunder.

    Paul does indeed ‘talk funny’ in Romans 4:1.

    As soon as he talks about a metaphorical ancestor, Abraham, the ancestor of Christians of his time, he uses ‘according to the flesh’, to denote that Abraham was not in fact the literal ancestor of the Christians Paul was writing to.

    Christians were the ‘seed’ of Abraham.

    But even Paul could not claim that Abraham literally was the ancestor of pagans living in Rome.

    So he at once switches to ‘kata sarx’ to denote that Abraham was the ancestor ‘according to the flesh’ – ie there is something not literal about Christians being the seed of Abraham, but they were the descendants ‘according to the flesh’

    I have to thank Mike for pointing out my mistake, and remind him once again to quote texts , as he makes a stronger case if he explains what the text means rather than lets people try to guess what he is talking about.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-06 15:11:17 GMT+0000 - 15:11 | Permalink

    And in Romans 11 when Paul writes ‘For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, [of] the tribe of Benjamin. ‘

    Paul knows he literally is of the seed of Abraham, and so has no need for ‘according to the flesh’, as Abraham is his literal ancestor.

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-07 01:53:33 GMT+0000 - 01:53 | Permalink

    Paul explains, in Galatians 3:16-29, that those that belong to Christ are decendents of Abraham because all in Christ are one with him and he is the decendent of Abraham, as Romans 9:5 explains, according to the flesh. This means biological decent rather like the modern phrase “your own flesh and blood”. That is how Paul uses the phrase in 9:3-4.” For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong…”
    Paul here says his kindred according to the flesh are Israelites. Since he is saying he wishes he could be damned in their place, it is unlikly that he means Christians, since they are in as well as Paul. The unbelieving Israelites however are biologicaly related to Paul, but certainly not spiritualy. The Christians are Paul’s kindred according to the Spirit.

    In Romans 4 Paul is continuing his dialogue from 2:17 regarding the supposed specialness of being a Jew. He is arguing to Jews against Abraham being righteous by his works. He is not by sayin what of Abraham, our ancetor according to the flesh, that Christians and paul are decended from Abrham according to the flesh. If that were so then his argument (romans 9:8) that it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God wouldn’t make sense because he would have said earlier that children of Abraham by the flesh are both christians and Jews.

    So contrary to your statement “…he uses ‘according to the flesh’, to denote that Abraham was not in fact the literal ancestor of the Christians Paul was writing to.”, “According to the flesh” means LITERALY you are decended from that person. If you turn it to figuratively, then it doesn’t work for the other argument, Paul is not figurativly a Jew, he literaly is Jewish. This is why it is translated the way that it is in so many translation of the bible. Have you concidered, stepping out of promoting the Christ Myth for awhile to perhapes get a basic understanding of the subject you are discussing? It is often helpful.
    All quotes from the New revised Standard Version

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-07 04:32:58 GMT+0000 - 04:32 | Permalink

    MIKE
    “According to the flesh” means LITERALY you are decended from that person.

    CARR
    Obviously not,as even Paul could work out that the people he was writing too were not literally descendants of Abraham.

    MIKE
    21.Paul explains, in Galatians 3:16-29, that those that belong to Christ are decendents of Abraham because all in Christ are one with him and he is the decendent of Abraham, as Romans 9:5 explains, according to the flesh.

    CARR
    Romans 9:5 does not say Paul is the descendant of Abraham, according to the flesh.

    And Galatians 3 simply means that Paul does not always use descendant literally.

    How are you getting on with explaining why Jesus was crucified when hardly a single Jew could have been expected to have heard of him?

    • 2010-10-07 05:14:49 GMT+0000 - 05:14 | Permalink

      Steven Carr: “How are you getting on with explaining why Jesus was crucified when hardly a single Jew could have been expected to have heard of him?”

      Curious, isn’t it? He’s publicly executed for treason and insurrection, but none of his followers get so much as a stern talking-to. And within a week or two, Pete, Jim, and the rest of the Galilee gang have set up shop in Jerusalem. Yet neither the Roman nor the Jewish authorities care to stop them. Just a little while before that, the Sanhedrin called Jesus a blasphemer and Pilate had him killed for impersonating a king without a license. Now Peter is shouting from the rooftops that Jesus is Lord of all, accusing his countrymen of messiah-cide.

      Doesn’t it seem odd that apparently nobody was upset that his fan club persisted? Even in Acts the oddness peeks out through the whitewash. Why does it seem as though Peter and Stephen have to explain who Jesus is and what happened?

      The way mainstream NT scholarship handles the discrepancies and contradictions is to say that the gospels and the Acts are wholly unreliable, except for the points that they believe really happened, like the crucifixion. If you point out the inconsistency in their logic, you are guilty of “not addressing current scholarship.”

      • GakuseiDon
        2010-10-07 10:58:27 GMT+0000 - 10:58 | Permalink

        Doesn’t it seem odd that apparently nobody was upset that his fan club persisted?

        Paul writes in Gal that he was persecuting the church in Christ in Judea before his conversion. He also writes that being an apostle was dangerous work:

        1 Cor 4:9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death

        1 Cor 4:12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

        2 Cor 6:4 But in all [things] approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
        2 Cor 6:5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;

        2 Cor 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so [am] I. Are they Israelites? so [am] I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so [am] I.

        2 Cor 11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty [stripes] save one.

        • 2010-10-07 13:27:15 GMT+0000 - 13:27 | Permalink

          My apologies. I should have said that the Roman authorities did not seem to be all that upset, and considered the matter to be a disagreement among partisan Jews.

          Paul does allude to beatings and imprisonment, and if we can believe Acts, Stephen was stoned to death. However, Peter, Philip and the rest continue to do their thing about Jerusalem. As the story goes, the Judaean authorities weren’t happy with the Jesus fans, but they didn’t issue a blanket charge of blasphemy (i.e., a fatwa). On the other hand, the Romans seem remarkably uninterested.

          What I would like mainstream scholars to explain is how a man can be charged with insurrection and crucified while all of his followers are ignored.

          • 2010-10-07 16:53:07 GMT+0000 - 16:53 | Permalink

            This is the question Paula Fredriksen sets herself the task of answering in her book, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Her explanation is that Pilate knew Jesus was harmless — we have the Gospel of John handily “historical” when it gets scholars out of a tight spot — because he had been to Jerusalem many times before preaching without any problem.

            So to appease the Jewish authorities Pilate got rid of Jesus, but had no interest in taking up the matter any further by pursuing his disciples because he knew Jesus (and they) were harmless, free from political pretensions, and could safely be ignored.

            • 2010-10-07 21:08:56 GMT+0000 - 21:08 | Permalink

              I do like that fact that Fredriksen tosses out the Temple Disturbance as a historical “fact.” However, it’s disappointing when scholars get stuck thinking that either the Synoptics must be true or John must be true. I think I’ve said it before, but it’s as if they’re arguing over how many elephants the world rests upon — or whether it rests on elephants or turtles.

              At the root, the problem stems from asking the wrong questions. NT scholars ask, “Which narrative is true?” and “Which parts of the gospels are authentic?”

          • GakuseiDon
            2010-10-07 20:06:57 GMT+0000 - 20:06 | Permalink

            What I would like mainstream scholars to explain is how a man can be charged with insurrection and crucified while all of his followers are ignored.

            Paul doesn’t hint that he was concerned with Roman authorities and he seemed to be preaching freely, as were the other apostles. In fact, none of the Christians writing in the first few centuries seemed to have a problem with Roman authorities. Paul writes about the very night before Jesus was handed over for crucifixion:

            1 Cor 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the same night in which He was handed over, took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

            There doesn’t appear to be any urging of participants to flee. Where do you get “insurrection” from?

            • GakuseiDon
              2010-10-07 20:16:17 GMT+0000 - 20:16 | Permalink

              Sorry, that should be: “In fact, none of the Christians writing in the first few centuries seemed to have a problem with Roman authorities crucifying Jesus.”

            • 2010-10-07 20:59:18 GMT+0000 - 20:59 | Permalink

              “There doesn’t appear to be any urging of participants to flee.”

              In the gospels the followers are present at Gethsemane, but have all scattered by the time Jesus reaches Golgotha — except for some women who watch from a safe distance. (OK, John says the “beloved disciple” was there, too.) Nobody needed to urge them to flee. If your leader is nabbed and accused of declaring himself king in a Roman province, running like hell is a good option.

              “Where do you get ‘insurrection’ from?”

              When Rome annexed a region, they became the only legitimate authority. Calling oneself “The King of the Jews” in Roman Judea is an act of open rebellion (i.e., revolt, insurrection). The chief priests and elders present this charge, because they know Pilate will have to act by meting out the most extreme punishment available.

              The strange theatrical scenes where Pilate finds no fault and tries to let him go just seem silly if you know anything about Roman history in general or Pilate’s biography in particular.

              • GakuseiDon
                2010-10-07 21:36:32 GMT+0000 - 21:36 | Permalink

                Well, true enough. I suppose it depends on how much stock you put in the Gospels being historically accurate. I’m not aware of anything suggesting that Jesus was regarded as an insurrectionist, and I agree that we would expect the Roman authorities to have been more interested in his followers had that been the case.

              • 2010-10-07 23:15:19 GMT+0000 - 23:15 | Permalink

                A good number of reputable, mainstream NT scholars think the titulus at Golgotha is historical. That is, they think the charge against him was posing as a king in a Roman province. Whether there was a bit of sneering and mocking in there — Behold, your “King”! — is another matter.

                It’s astonishing what biblical scholars can make themselves believe.

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-07 06:28:18 GMT+0000 - 06:28 | Permalink

    MIKE
    21.Paul explains, in Galatians 3:16-29, that those that belong to Christ are decendents of Abraham because all in Christ are one with him and he is the decendent of Abraham, as Romans 9:5 explains, according to the flesh.

    CARR
    Romans 9:5 does not say Paul is the descendant of Abraham, according to the flesh.

    Also doesn’t say king Kong is the decendent of Godzilla. Paul is not the subject of the explenation, Christ is. Please learn to read. Honestly Steve I’ve had more meaniful conversations with a bowl of alphabet soup. Your in way over your head. I can understand you don’t like the bible and that is a fine position to take. Pretending you know something about it is another matter. If you promise to stop wasting peoples time with your buffoonery, I’ll promise not to give opinions on baseball. Not to oversell the point but your arguments are the intellectual equivalent of a flaming bag of dog poo on the front step. If I come off as harsh, you can console your self with the knowladge that I am the greater fool, I wasted time communicating with you.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-07 14:58:10 GMT+0000 - 14:58 | Permalink

    GDON
    Paul writes in Gal that he was persecuting the church in Christ in Judea before his conversion. He also writes that being an apostle was dangerous work

    CARR
    Paul also explains how Christians avoided this persecution.

    Galatians 6
    Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.

    Paul even rhetorically uses the fact that he is still being persecuted as proof that he has not compromised on circumcision.

    Galatians 5
    Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

    So why did the Roman authorities persecute Christians who claimed people no longer needed to be circumcised?

    Why was the elevation of a recently executed criminal to sitting at God’s right hand not a bone of contention with other Jews?

    Why had Jews heard about the practice of Christians of not compelling circumcision , yet the Jews had to be told individually about Jesus, as they had not otherwise heard of him?

    • GakuseiDon
      2010-10-07 21:13:18 GMT+0000 - 21:13 | Permalink

      So why did the Roman authorities persecute Christians who claimed people no longer needed to be circumcised?

      ??? That is a strange question. What makes you think that the Roman authorities were persecuting Christians who claimed people no longer needed to be circumcised?

      Why was the elevation of a recently executed criminal to sitting at God’s right hand not a bone of contention with other Jews?

      ??? How do you know that the elevation of a recently executed criminal to sitting at God’s right hand was not a bone of contention with other Jews?

      Why had Jews heard about the practice of Christians of not compelling circumcision, yet the Jews had to be told individually about Jesus, as they had not otherwise heard of him?

      ??? Another strange question. Isn’t Paul talking about preaching the gospel? Of the Jews believing the good news that God had raised Jesus from the dead, and that they could be saved by calling on Lord? That is what Paul writes in Romans 10. What makes you think that they had never heard of Jesus?

      From Romans 10:

      9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

      13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
      14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
      15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
      “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
      Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-07 17:01:34 GMT+0000 - 17:01 | Permalink

    MIKE
    Paul explains, in Galatians 3:16-29, that those that belong to Christ are decendents of Abraham because all in Christ are one with him and he is the decendent of Abraham, as Romans 9:5 explains, according to the flesh.

    CARR
    Sorry Mike, was your ‘he’ in ‘he is the descendant of Abraham’ referring to Christ, rather than to the subject of your sentence? Did I miscontrue your ambiguous sentence wrongly? I apologise.

    The fact remains that this ‘according to the flesh’ is not always a literal descendant, as Paul regards pagan Gentiles as now being part of the seed of Abraham, which descent has come ‘according to the flesh’

    NEIL
    So to appease the Jewish authorities Pilate got rid of Jesus, but had no interest in taking up the matter any further by pursuing his disciples because he knew Jesus (and they) were harmless, free from political pretensions, and could safely be ignored.

    CARR
    I guess that is why Paul says the Roman authorities ‘do not bear the sword for nothing’.

    Apart from killing the Son of God for nothing.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-07 17:11:55 GMT+0000 - 17:11 | Permalink

    MIKE
    He is arguing to Jews against Abraham being righteous by his works. He is not by sayin what of Abraham, our ancetor according to the flesh, that Christians and paul are decended from Abrham according to the flesh.

    MIKE
    Please learn to read. Honestly Steve I’ve had more meaniful conversations with a bowl of alphabet soup.

    CARR
    It is annoying to be told to learn to read by somebody who can’t spell ‘ancestor’, ‘Abraham’, or ‘meaningful’.

    MIKE
    He is not by sayin what of Abraham, our ancetor according to the flesh, that Christians and paul are decended from Abrham according to the flesh.

    CARR
    This makes no sense. It is just alphabet soup. ‘not by saying what of’? What does that mean?

    Anyway that is enough flame war with somebody who cannot produce grammatical sentences and then gets annoyed when people cannot make out what he is saying.

    Back to the scheduled discussion.

    Despite what McGrath says , mainstream Biblical scholarship has not produced a single word in Romans which supports the claim that Paul was only speaking about Jews in the Diaspora, that region that seems to have been rather strangely hermetically sealed off from Palestine, so that nobody outside the border could ever have heard of Jesus (apart from Josephus and Tacitus).

    Why is Paul so insistent that Jews everywhere could not be expected to believe in Jesus until they had heard about him from Christian preachers?

    • GakuseiDon
      2010-10-07 21:20:07 GMT+0000 - 21:20 | Permalink

      Why is Paul so insistent that Jews everywhere could not be expected to believe in Jesus until they had heard about him from Christian preachers?

      Steven, are you saying that the Jews could have been expected to believe in the good news about Jesus without hearing it from Christian preachers?

      • 2010-10-07 21:24:48 GMT+0000 - 21:24 | Permalink

        Not speaking for Steven, but that this is what Paul himself wrote is the point of the post heading these comments.

        • GakuseiDon
          2010-10-07 21:44:46 GMT+0000 - 21:44 | Permalink

          Then same question: Are you saying that Paul thought the Jews could have been expected to believe in the good news about Jesus (that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”) without hearing it from Christian preachers?

          • 2010-10-07 22:40:33 GMT+0000 - 22:40 | Permalink

            Romans 10:14

            How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?

            They have not heard of him unless . . . .

            • GakuseiDon
              2010-10-07 23:21:47 GMT+0000 - 23:21 | Permalink

              Just before that, Paul writes: Rom 10:14 “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?”

              In Rom 9:32 & 33, Paul writes: “For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

              In Rom 10:11, Paul repeats: “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”

              So, in Rom 10:14, we have: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?”

              Young’s Literal Translation has: “How then shall they call upon [him] in whom they did not believe?”

              Does this not suggest that some had rejected Jesus already? Thus they must have at least heard of Jesus? In which case, Paul would be saying that those who had already heard had not believed (and therefore stumbled), while those who have not heard, need to be preached to.

              • 2010-10-10 16:40:51 GMT+0000 - 16:40 | Permalink

                If a mythicist offered an argument as convoluted and nebulous as this to prove “white” means “black” we would never hear the end of it. Is your reference to the Youngs Literal an attempt to cast doubt on the stress on “him” because that pronoun does not have a direct one to one correspondence in the Greek? If so, have you run this by normal studies of Greek grammar or anyone knowledgable in Greek?

                Paul is citing a structured sequence, like rounders:

                How shall they call on him unless they believe in him?
                How shall they believe in him unless they hear about him?
                How shall they hear about him unless from a preacher?
                How from a preacher unless he be sent?

                So it is clear that Jews who had rejected Jesus — had stumbled — had done so by rejecting the message — a gospel he says elsewhere in the same letter had remained a mysterious secret since the world began — that they heard from a preacher who had been sent. And the reason they rejected this message was because, as the verses you cite explain, they sought righteousness by the law. They could not accept the preacher telling them that righteousness came by faith in the death (and resurrection) of Jesus Christ.

                For Paul, that stumbling stone was the belief that righteousness could only be attained by the “works of the law.”

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-07 20:14:54 GMT+0000 - 20:14 | Permalink

    GDON
    In fact, none of the Christians writing in the first few centuries seemed to have a problem with Roman authorities.

    CARR
    Which is strange as the Gospels claim the Romans killed Jesus.

    But Acts implies strongly that the Romans had no idea about Jesus,and Paul implies that disputes were about the Law, rather than about blasphemous claims.

    Paul doesn’t even write about any charges of grave-robbing. These only seem to surface after ‘Mark’ wrote a story about an empty tomb which didn’t include any details about a guard or any other precautions to prevent grave-robbing.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-07 21:41:49 GMT+0000 - 21:41 | Permalink

    PAUL
    How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

    GDON
    Steven, are you saying that the Jews could have been expected to believe in the good news about Jesus without hearing it from Christian preachers?

    CARR
    GDon makes a good point. The Jews could not have been expected to believe in the good news about Jesus as they had not heard of him.

    • GakuseiDon
      2010-10-07 21:50:02 GMT+0000 - 21:50 | Permalink

      Thank you, though my point is that the Jews could not have been expected to believe in the good news about Jesus as they had not heard about the good news. As Paul writes, “Rom 10: 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
      “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
      Who bring glad tidings of good things!””

      My point is supported by what Paul actually writes. Where do you get that the Jews had never heard of Jesus?

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-07 21:43:51 GMT+0000 - 21:43 | Permalink

    GDON
    ??? How do you know that the elevation of a recently executed criminal to sitting at God’s right hand was not a bone of contention with other Jews?

    PAUL
    Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

    CARR
    It was circumcision not elevation that was the bone of contention to the extent that Paul could point to persecution as a sign of no compromise on the circumcision issue.

    • GakuseiDon
      2010-10-07 21:45:55 GMT+0000 - 21:45 | Permalink

      I agree. But how do you know that the elevation of a recently executed criminal to sitting at God’s right hand was not a bone of contention with other Jews?

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-07 21:48:49 GMT+0000 - 21:48 | Permalink

    GDON
    But how do you know that the elevation of a recently executed criminal to sitting at God’s right hand was not a bone of contention with other Jews?

    CARR
    Is that how history works?

    If A says he is being persecuted over issue B, then historians can assume he was also being persecuted over issue C, even if none of our sources ever claim such a thing?

    And even if Christians would have been stoned to death as blasphemers, which they weren’t….

    I always wondered why mainstream Biblical scholarship was different from other historical studies.

    • GakuseiDon
      2010-10-07 22:09:51 GMT+0000 - 22:09 | Permalink

      Steven, you wrote: Why was the elevation of a recently executed criminal to sitting at God’s right hand not a bone of contention with other Jews?

      How do you know that the elevation of a recently executed criminal to sitting at God’s right hand not a bone of contention with other Jews?

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-07 22:09:57 GMT+0000 - 22:09 | Permalink

    Neil, my apologies for letting my self get out of hand. Steve, please accept my apology for the viciousness of my insults.

    • 2010-10-07 22:18:57 GMT+0000 - 22:18 | Permalink

      No worries. I’m sure we’re all a little calmer and ready to discuss over virtual beers. Except maybe whatisname.

    • GakuseiDon
      2010-10-07 22:19:01 GMT+0000 - 22:19 | Permalink

      Neil is a good egg. Steven ain’t. You’ve seen how he debates. He posts everywhere, and I’m sure that when people think of mythicists and their arguments, they think of him.

      • 2010-10-07 22:29:04 GMT+0000 - 22:29 | Permalink

        Wrong about Steve. He gets under skins coz he gets to the point without the waffle, and sometimes with a pinch of well-deserved cynicism. No-one liked the boy who said aloud the emperor has no clothes.

        • GakuseiDon
          2010-10-07 23:28:50 GMT+0000 - 23:28 | Permalink

          Especially when the topic is about something else. Personally I think he is making mythicism look kooky, but that’s no skin off my nose.

          • 2010-10-08 04:53:05 GMT+0000 - 04:53 | Permalink

            “Personally I think he is making mythicism look kooky…”

            Oh, darn. And here I thought we were judging cases on their own merits. I’d better go shave and put on a tie.

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-07 23:24:16 GMT+0000 - 23:24 | Permalink

    If A says he is being persecuted over issue B, then historians can assume he was also being persecuted over issue C, even if none of our sources ever claim such a thing?

    A historian doesn’t assume. Even when dealing with a fact, their is a reason it is a fact. No good historian just assumes Napoleon fought at Waterloo, there are good reasons to beleive it. The problem with A saying B, is none of our sources for history are true accounts, the’re just accounts, so our answer to “what really happend” is usually C.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-08 03:49:35 GMT+0000 - 03:49 | Permalink

    MIKE
    Steve, please accept my apology for the viciousness of my insults.

    CARR
    No apology needed. I can understand you being upset. I did misread what you said, which was annoying and bad of me.

    GDON
    How do you know that the elevation of a recently executed criminal to sitting at God’s right hand not a bone of contention with other Jews?

    CARR
    Because Paul equates persecution with rejection of circumcision so totally and never mentions that other ‘bone of contention’, which after all, allegedly led to blasphemy charges in the Gospels.

    It is a bit like somebody complaining about a 5 yard holding penalty during a game, and never pointing out that there was a dispute about one team having 15 players.

    One dispute is just so important that the lack of evidence for it is very telling.

    • GakuseiDon
      2010-10-08 04:55:49 GMT+0000 - 04:55 | Permalink

      Because Paul equates persecution with rejection of circumcision so totally and never mentions that other ‘bone of contention’, which after all, allegedly led to blasphemy charges in the Gospels.

      Before Paul was converted — and presumably before he started preaching to the uncircumcised — he was persecuting the “churches of Judaea which were in Christ”. What was the bone of contention there? Given the contents of Gal 1, would you agree that it probably wasn’t circumcision?

      You also asked this question:

      So why did the Roman authorities persecute Christians who claimed people no longer needed to be circumcised?

      As I said, it is a strange question. What makes you think that the Roman authorities were persecuting Christians who claimed people no longer needed to be circumcised?

      • 2010-10-08 10:57:29 GMT+0000 - 10:57 | Permalink

        Paul does indicate the bone of contention over which he writes that he persecuted the church: it was that the “faith” message of Christians undermined the need for “law”.

        Galatians 1:23

        But they were hearing only, ‘He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.’

        and Galatians 2:17-18

        But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are found to be sinneers, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

        So Galatians 5:11 does fit in with this nicely, I think: “If I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution?”

        Paul is saying here, at least it seems so to me, that he persecuted the church for the same reasons as he says it continued to be persecuted: Jews persecuted the church for teaching the abrogation of the requirement of Mosaic/Judaic Law for salvation — epitomized by circumcision — and replacing it with faith in Christ.

        There is no suggestion at all that the bone of contention is the identity or divine status of Christ. It is the requirement of the law for salvation.

        I realize this does not sound the most plausible explanaion given what we know of the historical “multi-Judaisms” of the mid first century, but that is what Galatians appears to be saying nonetheless. So if what we read of the reasons for the persecution does not sound historically plausible, then so much the worse for the historical plausibility of the contents of the Galatians letter.

        • GakuseiDon
          2010-10-09 04:40:16 GMT+0000 - 04:40 | Permalink

          Paul is saying here, at least it seems so to me, that he persecuted the church for the same reasons as he says it continued to be persecuted: Jews persecuted the church for teaching the abrogation of the requirement of Mosaic/Judaic Law for salvation — epitomized by circumcision — and replacing it with faith in Christ

          Fair enough. So we have two sets of churches in Christ: ones teaching “circumcision required” (James in Jerusalem) and the other “circumcision not required” (those Paul originally persecuted and what Paul came to believe himself based on revelation from no man)?

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-08 14:48:10 GMT+0000 - 14:48 | Permalink

    GDON
    What makes you think that the Roman authorities were persecuting Christians who claimed people no longer needed to be circumcised?

    CARR
    It was a rhetorical question to underline the fact that the Romans were not persecuting Christians (at least in the early stages).

    This is despite the fact that they were followers of somebody claimed by Sanders to have breached the peace in a big way.

    • GakuseiDon
      2010-10-09 04:48:19 GMT+0000 - 04:48 | Permalink

      Why would you expect Roman authorities to persecute Christians who claimed people no longer needed to be circumcised?

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-08 15:31:58 GMT+0000 - 15:31 | Permalink

    Was Jesus born of a woman, and descended from Abraham?

    In the view of literalists, this can only have one meaning.

    Revelation 12
    A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. …She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.

    Christians were perfectly capable of thinking of people giving birth in heaven, and used the idea metaphorically.

    But literalists claim that whenever the Bible says a woman gave birth to a child, it must have a literal meaning, and mere mention of a woman giving birth is enough to render metaphorical meanings no better than creationism.

    • 2010-10-08 15:57:14 GMT+0000 - 15:57 | Permalink

      I like this. Does this mean that Jesus-historicists are like Second Adam Creationists?

    • GakuseiDon
      2010-10-09 04:34:25 GMT+0000 - 04:34 | Permalink

      But literalists claim that whenever the Bible says a woman gave birth to a child, it must have a literal meaning

      Which literalists claim that whenever the Bible says a woman gave birth to a child, it must have a literal meaning?

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-09 03:22:41 GMT+0000 - 03:22 | Permalink

    Carr, I don’t know who these literalist are, maybe some back woods preacher, I think I once heard one on a radio say that all of Jesus parrables are literaly true. Would that be the set you have in mind? I can’t speak for every one, but I don’t think “But literalists claim that whenever the Bible says a woman gave birth to a child, it must have a literal meaning,” applies to any one I’ve been engaged with discustion of these issues with. It seems that Paul uses both metaphore and literal meanings in his writings and we the reader have to sort that out. He is usually good about pointing that out, but if not, then we could miss the metaphor. Maybe Paul only metaphoricly persecuted Christians or planned to go to Rome. If that is the case, then Paul is indecipherable. If he used metaphor in a rational way, how ever then we should be able to figure out when he means what he say, or if we should look for symbols. While you claim to disagree, I think Paul goes out of his way to specify that Jesus is a literal decendent of the Abraham and the patriarchs, and others, outside of those who would like it to mean something else for whatever reason, would agree. perhapes we could send the relevent passages to some neutral party for their opinion.

    Regarding the born of a woman bit, I think this means born of a human with a uterus. It isn’t a redundant thing to say, since this is God’s son he is talking about and God could have a son with a tree, rock, goat, ocean, heaven, whatever. It could be that he intended something mystical here, like Heavenly Jerusalem or Wisdom, but in the next passage where Hagar=Mount Sinai=earthly Jerusalem (gal.4:21 –>) he lets his reader know “These things may be treated as an allegory, for these women represent two covenants.”
    http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Gal&chapter=4&verse=24
    He doesn’t fill us in 4:4. That doesn’t exclude that this is some well worn metaphor so Paul assumes his reader is aware, but since we don’t know of one, we can’t assume a metaphor here. The simple designation, a woman, leads me to think the stress is on a common everday woman. My own understanding of Greek won’t allow me to say whether THE woman is possible, but no translation I know of uses the instead of a. It certainly is not any thing like “born of his mother,Israel, Jerusalem, Heaven or Wisdom.”

    On the passage from Revelation 12, this work is full of metaphor and allegory so while John speaks of Rome as a seven headed dragon, we can say he had real Rome in mind. The woman seems to be Israel, and if so then that would mean Jesus is born from Israel; simply he is a Jew. You could say, this is Heavenly Israel, but what does that mean? It doesn’t seem that Revelation beleives in a Mythic Christ at any rate since it lables earthly Jeusalem as the place Christ was crucified (rev 11:8)

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-09 04:36:07 GMT+0000 - 04:36 | Permalink

    GDON
    Which literalists claim that whenever the Bible says a woman gave birth to a child, it must have a literal meaning?

    CARR
    The ones who say that people are like creationists if they consider that it might have an allegorical meaning.

    • GakuseiDon
      2010-10-09 04:46:17 GMT+0000 - 04:46 | Permalink

      Steven, who exactly are we talking about? Me? McGrath? Sanders? I guess that this is one of those “emperor has no clothes” moments that Neil mentioned earlier, but the conversation is not progressing at the moment. Do you know of anyone who has actually taken Rev 12 literally?

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-09 04:38:44 GMT+0000 - 04:38 | Permalink

    MIKE
    It doesn’t seem that Revelation beleives in a Mythic Christ at any rate since it lables earthly Jeusalem as the place Christ was crucified (rev 11:8)

    CARR
    ‘Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified’

    Where is the ‘label’ which states ‘earthly Jerusalem’?

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-09 04:40:28 GMT+0000 - 04:40 | Permalink

    ‘Where is the ‘label’ which states ‘earthly Jerusalem’?’

    Rather than say Rome.

    The chapter does make a reference to Jerusalem, but passes up the chance to equate ‘the great city’ with the city where the Temple was.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-09 05:04:07 GMT+0000 - 05:04 | Permalink

    GDON
    Do you know of anyone who has actually taken Rev 12 literally?

    CARR
    No. I was simply pointing out the obvious fallacy of people like McGrath who claim that ‘born of a woman’ must be taken literally, and people who do not are no better than creationists.

    When even McGrath should know that Christians actually did use the idea of a woman giving birth in Heaven.

    So claims that mythicists are distorting the text by thinking that ‘born of a woman’ might be allegorical are absurd.

    • GakuseiDon
      2010-10-09 07:26:11 GMT+0000 - 07:26 | Permalink

      So claims that mythicists are distorting the text by thinking that ‘born of a woman’ might be allegorical are absurd.

      Which mythicists think that Gal 4’s “born of a woman” is allegorical? Wells doesn’t claim this. In fact, Doherty suggests that “born of woman” would be a natural insertion in Galatians to counter claims of docetists in order to make the point that Jesus was in fact a fully human man from a human mother. So which mythicists do you have in mind?

      • Steven Carr
        2010-10-11 15:03:48 GMT+0000 - 15:03 | Permalink

        My apologies to Gakusei Don.

        I was perhaps misled by Rick Sumner who wrote ‘I think you either misunderstand or underestimate the importance of the reading here. It might not be paramount to all muythicist readings, but for Doherty it is imperative that he is right here.

        Remember it is not simply Doherty’s position that Jesus wasn’t real; it’s that Jesus wasn’t real and Paul knew it.

        So it isn’t enough to suggest that mythical characters were given divine or royal parentage. It needs to be established that, while such myths developed, people knew full well they weren’t “real.”.

        …….Certainly there are far more instances of “born of a woman” meaning born of a woman than there are it meaning born of a woman in a sublunar incarnation.’

        CARR
        When Rick said that Doherty thought such phrases in Paul were not meant to be ‘real’, I was misled into thinking that Doherty thought them to be symbolic.

        I now learn from GDon that Doherty actually claims ‘born of a woman’ would be a natural insertion.

        I can only apologise again for my mistake.

        • 2010-10-11 15:23:19 GMT+0000 - 15:23 | Permalink

          In his chapter 15 Doherty does in fact argue a case for this verse being an interpolation. It must be said at the same time, however, that he also discusses it from two points of view: one, as original to Paul; and two, the possibility of it being an interpolation.

        • 2010-10-11 20:31:04 GMT+0000 - 20:31 | Permalink

          To clarify:

          In chapter 15 Doherty writes 11 pages (197-207) “analyzing this passage while adopting the assumption that ‘born of woman, born under the Law’ could have been written by Paul.”

          Pages 197 to 200 he analyzes the Greek grammar and preceding context of the passage to point out the nature of Paul’s thought and where it is consistent with other Pauline thought, and addresses the primary temporal meaning of the passage.

          Pages 200 to 201 extends the grammatical and contextual discussion to the meaning of the work of God as revelation and what is the object of the “sending”.

          Pages 201 to 202 expands on the temporal meaning (when it happened) meaning of the passage.

          Pages 202 to 204 discuss Paul’s thought on the relationship between the end of the Law and other concepts of Paul’s Christ event. Here in the last part of page 203/4 he introduces grammatical questions that give rise to the possibility of interpolation:

          “The observations thus far are valid quite apart from the absence or presence of ‘born of woman, born under the Law.’ But they do have a bearing on the question of whether those prhases should be in the text, or whether they are interpolations.” He explains that the answer to this question is finding a relevant connection between the key phrase in question and the meaning of what has gone before.

          Pages 204 to 205 he discusses the possible source of the image in Gal.4:4.

          Pages 205 to 207 discusses the passage again in the context of the surrounding text, and demonstrates that the “born of woman, born under the Law” cannot alter the meaning of the contextualizing passages that support his mythicist argument. The best that the phrase can add is an unnecessary or irrelevant note to the meaning of the larger passage. But this section tackles the details of the grammar that any criticism of Doherty’s argument needs to address.

          Pages 207 to 212 Doherty discusses in more detail the passage as an interpolation.

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-09 09:01:55 GMT+0000 - 09:01 | Permalink

    Carr “The chapter does make a reference to Jerusalem, but passes up the chance to equate ‘the great city’ with the city where the Temple was.”

    The work passes up lots of chances to explain itself, that is the nature of the genre. It is a natural lead in though, that the two witnesses in verse 3 are active in the city mentioned in verse 2
    “Then a measuring rod like a staff was given to me, and I was told, “Get up and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and the ones who worship there. 11:2 But do not measure the outer courtyard of the temple; leave it out, because it has been given to the Gentiles, and they will trample on the holy city 8 for forty-two months. 11:3 And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth.”
    http://net.bible.org/bible.php?search=revelation%2011>2&book=revelation&chapter=11#n7
    If you still think another city is possible, I have to ask, is it possible that that city is not on Earth? I mean, and I can’t stress this enough, Rev. is a book full of visions that no one today properly understands, and no one then may have either, but reading this passage , and I ask you to read the passage for your self again, do you get any hint that this may happen in a spirit world? The people of the world gaze at the prophets corpses, 7,000 people die when an earth quake hits the city, people attack the prophets and are consumed by fire. Would this sort of action take place in Doherty’s firmament? Are their cities full of people in sphere of the moon that can killed by earth quakes? While I suspect that your given answer will be somewhere between “Of course” and “Why not?”, I doubt if even you, or especially you, would believe it. I think your defense of Mythicism is rather cynical, I don’t think you care if it is accurate, and probably think that people like Price and Doherty wasted their time studying the issue. I’m not a mind reader, and I may have misjudged you, but the ad hoc nature of your arguments give me the impression that this(Mythicism, and its’ defense) isn’t so much a position as a game(and one that I enjoy playing, why else am I typing?).

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-09 14:52:21 GMT+0000 - 14:52 | Permalink

    MIKE
    On the passage from Revelation 12, this work is full of metaphor and allegory so while John speaks of Rome as a seven headed dragon, we can say he had real Rome in mind

    CARR
    Strange. I though Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem.It turns out that you are now arguing that the ‘great city’ , called metaphorically Sodom and Egypt, where the Messiah was crucified, turned out to be Rome.

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-09 16:10:45 GMT+0000 - 16:10 | Permalink

    How do you get this…

    “MIKE
    On the passage from Revelation 12, this work is full of metaphor and allegory so while John speaks of Rome as a seven headed dragon, we can say he had real Rome in mind

    CARR
    Strange. I though Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem.It turns out that you are now arguing that the ‘great city’ , called metaphorically Sodom and Egypt, where the Messiah was crucified, turned out to be Rome.”

    From this?

    “On the passage from Revelation 12, this work is full of metaphor and allegory so while John speaks of Rome as a seven headed dragon, we can say he had real Rome in mind. The woman seems to be Israel, and if so then that would mean Jesus is born from Israel; simply he is a Jew. You could say, this is Heavenly Israel, but what does that mean? It doesn’t seem that Revelation believes in a Mythic Christ at any rate since it labels earthly Jerusalem as the place Christ was crucified (rev 11:8)”

    I’m not arguing Rev has Jesus Crucified in Rome. Is this sarcasm? Is it because both localities are called “great city” in the text? To see the word great city used for Jerusalem see Jeremiah 22:8, for Jerusalem called Sodom, Jer 23:14, Ezekiel 16:46, Isaiah 1:10. Israel is chastised several times for worshiping Egyptian gods. I would argue that that “great city” is used to describe “Babylon”/Rome, because it is, well a great city. It would be more confusing it the great city was called Babylon, Sodom, Egypt. But I don’t see that, did I miss it?

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-09 16:24:07 GMT+0000 - 16:24 | Permalink

    MIKE
    It doesn’t seem that Revelation believes in a Mythic Christ at any rate since it labels earthly Jerusalem as the place Christ was crucified (rev 11:8)”

    I’m not arguing Rev has Jesus Crucified in Rome.
    ….To see the word great city used for Jerusalem see Jeremiah 22:8, for Jerusalem called Sodom, Jer 23:14, Ezekiel 16:46, Isaiah 1:10.

    CARR
    I’m baffled.

    How can a mention of Jerusalem as a great city in Jeremiah mean that when Revelation speaks of a great city called Sodom, it means Jerusalem?

    What sort of exegesis is this?

    Isn’t this just picking words from all sorts of books in the Bible, referring to all sorts of different situations, in the way that Jehovah’s Witnesses do?

    Which city in Roman times was the great city?

    Answer – Rome.

    Which city would a Jew think of as more like Sodom? Rome with its naked public baths or Jerusalem?

    Still, I must admit not to being certain what Revelation is on about.

    Trying to extract details about the historical Jesus from Revelation 11 and 12 is not a good idea.

  • mikelioso
    2010-10-10 04:14:28 GMT+0000 - 04:14 | Permalink

    There are a lot of books about the bible from a lot of different perspectives, if your interested in the subject, I would recommend reading some of them. You can ask around for a list of recommended works. I’m of little help because I have only recently started keeping notes of who I’m reading. If you live in a big enough town, I would just go to the history of religion section in the library and work though it.

  • Steven Carr
    2010-10-10 15:50:11 GMT+0000 - 15:50 | Permalink

    I see that Neil Godfrey’s main points in his post are totally unchallenged.

    Nobody has come up with texts from Romans explaining that some Jews heard about Jesus by seeing and hearing him.

    • 2010-10-10 21:53:48 GMT+0000 - 21:53 | Permalink

      All we would need is for Paul (or any epistle writer for that matter) to use the term μαθητὴς (disciple). However, that word comes from the inventive mind of Mark, who reasoned that an earthly Jesus must have had pupils who sat at his feet and learned from the master. The other evangelists copied from him.

      Paul thinks of himself as a person who was called and “sent” by Christ, making him an ἀπόστολος (apostle). His position, he reasons, is no different from any of the apostles who came before, since the criteria are (1) to have seen the risen Lord, (2) to hear the risen Christ speak to you, and (3) to have had Jesus send you out to preach the gospel.

      From what we can gather by reading Paul’s letters, it doesn’t even appear that he thought of Jesus being a teacher — so why would he have pupils? And if there were historical witnesses, wouldn’t Paul have tried to explain why he was still equal with them? Paul’s sarcastic dig at the “super apostles” in 2 Corinthians 11:5 and 2 Corinthians 12:11 might fill the bill. However, it seems likely he’s talking about other apostles who speak better, look smarter, or claim to be part of the “in” crowd, not that they were students of Rabbi Jesus.

      • 2010-10-10 22:28:08 GMT+0000 - 22:28 | Permalink

        Good point. Paul also says they may preach “another Jesus”. Now that implies that Jesus himself is the gospel. There is nothing to suggest that others, anyone, is preaching things Jesus himself taught and practiced.

        Paul further goes on to describe those “most eminent apostles” as “false apostles”. It’s hard to imagine him making such a charge if the difference between them and him was that they had been with Jesus as disciples.

        • 2010-10-11 22:02:40 GMT+0000 - 22:02 | Permalink

          For some reason or otherwise that even has WordPress technicians baffled, Tim’s reply to my comment here appears out of order at #47

          #47

          Neil: “Now that implies that Jesus himself is the gospel.”

          Exactly so, which makes Mark’s redefinition of gospel quite jarring. From Mark 1:

          14. … Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
          15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe in the gospel.

          So according to Mark, Jesus said the gospel was:

          1. Time’s up!
          2. The Kingdom of God is coming soon.
          3. You need to repent.
          4. You need to believe in gospel.

          There are some obvious problems here. First, this isn’t Paul’s gospel, which depends on a crucified and risen Christ to forgive sins and impart eternal life. This doesn’t even sound like the gospel as found in Acts, and it certainly isn’t what the third chapter of John teaches. Next, if you can successfully repent and be ready for the coming Kingdom of God, before the crucifixion, then why is his death and resurrection necessary? Finally, why is part of the gospel defined as believing in the gospel? Recursive definitions make my head hurt.

          Comment by Tim Widowfield — 2010/10/10 @ 11:12 pm | Edit This | Reply

      • pearl
        2010-10-12 00:34:56 GMT+0000 - 00:34 | Permalink

        However, it seems likely he’s talking about other apostles who speak better, look smarter, or claim to be part of the “in” crowd, not that they were students of Rabbi Jesus.

        An aside:

        The title “Rabbi” within the canonical scriptures only appears in the Gospels. And there is debate whether or not the term “Rabbi” in this context is anachronistic.

        • 2010-10-12 05:14:14 GMT+0000 - 05:14 | Permalink

          I agree, and the references to synagogues are equally anachronistic.


          This note is from me, Neil, gatecrashing Tim’s comment here to add this:

          Comments here are beginning to appear out of sequence. Anyone wanting to add to this discussion, please use the comments area in the post adjacent to this one — I have created another with the same title.

          What a pain. Sorry. Have raised this with WordPress but no immediate solution is in sight.

  • 2010-10-10 23:12:47 GMT+0000 - 23:12 | Permalink

    Neil: “Now that implies that Jesus himself is the gospel.”

    Exactly so, which makes Mark’s redefinition of gospel quite jarring. From Mark 1:

    14. … Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
    15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe in the gospel.

    So according to Mark, Jesus said the gospel was:

    1. Time’s up!
    2. The Kingdom of God is coming soon.
    3. You need to repent.
    4. You need to believe in gospel.

    There are some obvious problems here. First, this isn’t Paul’s gospel, which depends on a crucified and risen Christ to forgive sins and impart eternal life. This doesn’t even sound like the gospel as found in Acts, and it certainly isn’t what the third chapter of John teaches. Next, if you can successfully repent and be ready for the coming Kingdom of God, before the crucifixion, then why is his death and resurrection necessary? Finally, why is part of the gospel defined as believing in the gospel? Recursive definitions make my head hurt.

  • 2010-10-13 13:35:14 GMT+0000 - 13:35 | Permalink

    Comments here are beginning to appear out of sequence. Anyone wanting to add to this discussion, please use the comments area in the post adjacent to this one — I have created another with the same title.

    What a pain. Sorry. Have raised this with WordPress but no immediate solution in sight.

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