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The New Testament

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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edelker
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Re: The New Testament

Post by edelker » May 7th, 2014, 6:37 pm

Ruskin wrote,

“At least we can assume there must have been an empty tomb involved as they all agree on that point.”

No we do not have to agree that there was even a crucifixion whatsoever-let alone some empty tomb. Again, making stuff up doesn’t count as responsible historiography.



Ruskin wrote,

“There must have also been some kind of "experience" of Jesus after his death as well much as say Saint Paul had on the road to Damascus. It should be noted that Paul was hostile to Christianity at the time.”

Again, no we don’t have to assume these things! Do you accept the miracle stories of other religions merely because some of their adherents profess to have had some kind of mystical experience about their religion? Of course not! You have no problem rejecting such claims, and, yes, I can provide such supposed proof of these religious claims that are at least as equal in standing to your own.


Also, Paul’s so-called hostility to Christianity is ONLY so according to him and those that followed him (the writer(s) of Acts). So, once more, you’re assuming the veracity of the very thing you’re trying to prove.


Ruskin wrote,
“So you have both the empty tomb (note that it was women who discovered it) and the post death experiences of Jesus by hundreds of people living at the time. This was recorded a mere 20 or so years after Jesus death. So everything that's not too bad even if it's not quite a contemporary account.”

Again, these accounts are written in the NT itself by either Paul or those that followed Paul. The actual dating involved is uncertain—and since we only have copies of such writings, all we can say is that such writings state this and not the actual witnesses themselves.


Please do not use Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict book here—it is grossly misleading.


Ruskin wrote,
“We can't say for certain but I'd suggest this is the best we have to go on, better than Mohammed’s revelation or whatever else.”

You have no way to assess this claim outside of your own acceptance of it as true. Muslim scholars and apologists argue that the Koran is itself a miracle—not to mention Muslim tradition itself credits Muhammad with several miracles that supposedly took place during his lifetimemany of which also had many eyewitnesses. Just as compelling as any claim from the NT, which is to say, not very convincing at all.



Ruskin wrote,
“It's better to concentrate on whether God or the supernatural exists and so tackle the "atheism question" head on before you can get to this stage. If you're an atheist you wouldn't really have any good reason to believe that this was anything but a mass hallucination or shared delusion so that's where I would prefer to direct your attention.”

Or, it could just be as it is with all other religious traditions: mere claims that developed over time about a certain god or set of teachings that eventually became accepted as true.


By the way, I know where to begin, but thanks for the directions regardless…



Ruskin wrote,
“The religions of Greece and Rome were primarily based on thousands of years of accumulated folklore and Islam and Mormonism are based purely on the saying of just one man, not even a man we can particularly trust. So we can respectfully clout all those other religions to one side and just focus on a Christianity versus atheism debate. Much of the debate will centre on whether God exists or not but there are plenty of strong arguments in Gods favour.”

Not so easily done. One, Christianity also borrows from these other religions—or certainly shares many of their features (as did Judaism). Two, Islam and its miracles are NOT based on just one man—nor is Mormonism as it turns out! Three, outside of Paul and very few others-we have NO IDEA who wrote much of the NT. So, what we have on one side is identifiable people who wrote their works AND had eyewitnesses- contrasted with the other side for which we have precious little on who wrote what for much of the bible and no other surviving testimony from those eyewitnesses beyond claims that are found in select writings from the bible itself.


Either option here is hardly desirable once we look at the critical details.


Moreover, I have seen some of these supposed strong arguments that you think are strong—and as it turns out, they weren’t all that strong from what I recall. Yet, maybe you still have some somewhere that might turn out to be strong.



Ruskin wrote,

“The gospels we have are more or less in the same form they were by the beginning of the 2nd century as we have remains of written texts that date back that far.”

No, what we have are bits and pieces of texts—many from the OT—or those that include lots of other texts of various kinds (even recipes). The exact dates are not well established—but many scholars doubt the pro-Church dates.


But even if we go with some of those dates-we still have at least two to three decades between the beginning resurrection event and the first writings—to several more decades for much of the NT writings. Even here, this shouldn’t be all that surprising that Christianity would have been a growing religion through a smaller group of written texts since Christianity became wildly popular in Gentile territories wherein writing or reading wasn't widespread, and often far removed from the actual birthplace of the gospel events themselves.


Just as we can see with any cult, it doesn’t take long—even in low access information societies—for a religion to spread and become popular with a decently large minority. So, even if the more traditional dates are somewhat accurate, it isn’t clear what we should make of this accepted “fact.”



Ruskin wrote,
“If Jesus rose from the dead this is academic and if he didn't then it's nothing to be concerned with.”

The point you missed above is that from the NT alone and how well-copied it is-can tell us nothing about the veridical status of such claims as “Jesus arose from the dead.” Stating that the NT is well-attested to only means that it was well-copied from some set of original sources-and that’s it.


I agree that we can ask the question regardless. Yet, if our only source is a book written in a way and in a time that is still ambiguous to us, then there’s nothing we can affirm or deny about such claims found in that book. On such miracle accounts as these, the bible as history becomes useless.


Now, if you want us to consider this as possible still, then provide us examples of dead people that were shown to be certifiably dead that have also been shown to come back to life-and we’ll go from there. However, showing that dead people can come back to life obviously diminishes the miracle claims about Jesus you hope to advance. Nonetheless, the bible is simply NOT a history book or a reliable source that can show us that ONE person in the distant past came back to life as proof of god’s salvific plan.


Paul stated that if Christ didn’t rise from the dead, then the believer’s faith is pointless. Indeed, the believer’s position on this is far worse than that: he cannot even show that the source claiming such an event is even trustworthy, let alone that such an event ever happened. So if it is faith, then certainly no reliable evidence can be offered here to bolster that faith.


Ruskin wrote,

“If Jesus was risen then he is Lord and if he didn't he isn't we can keep this simple.”

No it isn’t! If it occurred at all, it doesn’t prove that Jesus was Lord any more than Muhammad being whisked into the air proves his theological claims. There are still many questions that must be asked and answered. After all, such an event, even if it could be shown to have happened, would only prove that strange things occasionally occur. Nothing more. You have to infuse your theology and other passages, and your interpretations of those passages, into the event in order to reach that conclusion.


Ruskin wrote,
“Now there is a strong case that could stand up in a court of law that there was an empty tomb and there were shared post death experiences of Jesus of some nature. The only major reason to not believe in this would be a non-belief in the existence of God.”

No there isn’t any evidence that would come close to standing up in a court of law. Please put down Evidence that Demands a Verdict! It is full of mistakes and intentionally misleading data. One, the Gospel accounts differ and even contradict one another on both the crucifixion and the resurrection stories. Not something a Judge would look kindly upon. Two, we have no idea who wrote these works or when these documents were written (beyond Christian sources centuries after the fact)—not something a court would accept as proof since there’s no way to verify the quality of the sources offered as such. Three, Matthew and Luke differ dramatically from one another while both include all the material (at times in-inconsistent ways) found in Mark-which is believed to come from still another unknown document or set of documents. Again, if documents this poorly produced were offered as evidence, a competent judge would throw them out on rules of evidence alone. Four, believers themselves have NO AGREEMENT about the meaning, significance, or even the identity of the content of these sources.


If this is your best source, I think we have little to worry about as it relates to rejecting or suspending belief in the outrageous claims it sometimes presents.



Eric D.

enegue
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Re: The New Testament

Post by enegue » May 8th, 2014, 12:23 am

Jklint wrote:That is literally the whole premise of Christianity for which Paul is responsible that Christ rose from the dead. Every aspect in the life of Jesus was merely incidental and of almost of no consequence to Paul until that final consummation.
Well, it stands to reason that this is so because Paul encountered Jesus Christ, RISEN FROM THE DEAD.
Jklint wrote:The history of Christianity is like a giant quilt woven by exceptionally brilliant knitters. Whether or not it's the Greatest Story ever told, it is certainly the longest. By now that quilt should be a rag if it weren't constantly treated with preservatives.
I'm not sure if you intended this as praise or criticism, but I certainly see it as praise.

Here's an observation made by a religious leader in Jerusalem, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles:
"Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
"
-- Acts 5:35-39

This man, Gamaliel, understood that the works of men have a use-by-date, but the mark of God's hand on something is the persistence of its life. Perhaps you, Jklint, have caught a glimpse of the same thing that caught Gamaliel's attention.

Cheers,
enegue

edelker
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Re: The New Testament

Post by edelker » May 8th, 2014, 3:43 pm

Eugene wrote,

“I'm not sure if you intended this as praise or criticism, but I certainly see it as praise.

Here's an observation made by a religious leader in Jerusalem, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles: "Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." -- Acts 5:35-39

This man, Gamaliel, understood that the works of men have a use-by-date, but the mark of God's hand on something is the persistence of its life. Perhaps you, Jklint, have caught a glimpse of the same thing that caught Gamaliel's attention.”


Yes, the exact same enduring mark of god that is claimed by all of Christianity’s religious adversaries that have also been around for centuries and even millennia.


Just because such criteria are found in the bible hardly makes those criteria either convincing or flawless as this example beautifully illustrates.



Eric D.

enegue
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Re: The New Testament

Post by enegue » May 8th, 2014, 9:44 pm

edelker wrote:Yes, the exact same enduring mark of god that is claimed by all of Christianity’s religious adversaries that have also been around for centuries and even millennia.
Absolutely. Anything that persists unchanged over generations must be sustained by a force that transcends generations, time, if you will. We know this is true because things that are not sustained, die.

Your opposition is sustained by the same power that sustained opposition to Jesus from the moment that power became cognisant of the details of his arrival. This is all explained in the Book, edelker.

Cheers,
enegue

Daviddunn
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Daviddunn » May 9th, 2014, 1:16 am

Absolutely. Anything that persists unchanged over generations must be sustained by a force that transcends generations, time, if you will. We know this is true because things that are not sustained, die.
I could not have said it better. But this does not apply to the bible as we know it today.

Here is an article from christian church ucg.org/booklet/god-trinity/spurious-re ... 7-8%C2%A0/
Some Bible translators of past centuries were so zealous to find support for their belief in the Trinity in the Scriptures that they literally added it. A case in point is 1 John:5:7-8.

It reads in the King James Version, also known as the Authorized Version: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." The words in italics are simply not a part of the generally accepted New Testament manuscripts. Regrettably, in this particular passage some other versions read essentially the same.

Most Bible commentaries that mention this addition tell us that it is a spurious comment added to the biblical text. Consider the words of The New Bible Commentary: Revised: "Notice that AV [the Authorized Version] includes additional material at this point. But the words are clearly a gloss [an added note] and are rightly excluded by RSV [the Revised Standard Version] even from its margins" (1970, p. 1269).

In the New Revised Standard Version, 1 John:5:7-8 correctly and more concisely reads, "There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree." John personifies the three elements here as providing testimony, just as Solomon personified wisdom in the book of Proverbs.

Many other more recent Bible versions likewise recognize the spurious added text and omit it, including the New International Version, American Standard Version and New American Standard Bible, English Standard Version, New English Bible and Revised English Bible, New American Bible, Jerusalem Bible and New Jerusalem Bible, Good News Bible, New Living Translation, Holman Christian Standard Bible, Bible in Basic English and the Twentieth Century New Testament. 

"The textual evidence is against 1 John:5:7," explains Dr. Neil Lightfoot, a New Testament professor. "Of all the Greek manuscripts, only two contain it. These two manuscripts are of very late dates, one from the fourteenth or fifteenth century and the other from the sixteenth century. Two other manuscripts have this verse written in the margin. All four manuscripts show that this verse was apparently translated from a late form of the Latin Vulgate" ( How We Got the Bible, 2003, pp. 100-101).

The Expositor's Bible Commentary also dismisses the King James and New King James Versions' additions in 1 John:5:7-8 as "obviously a late gloss with no merit" (Glenn Barker, Vol. 12, 1981, p. 353).

Peake's Commentary on the Bible is very incisive in its comments as well: "The famous interpolation after 'three witnesses' is not printed in RSV and rightly [so] .  .  . No respectable Greek [manuscript] contains it. Appearing first in a late 4th century Latin text, it entered the Vulgate [the 5th-century Latin version, which became the common medieval translation] and finally NT [New Testament] of Erasmus [who produced newly collated Greek texts and a new Latin version in the 16th century]" (p. 1038).

The Big Book of Bible Difficulties tells us: "This verse has virtually no support among the early Greek manuscripts . . . Its appearance in late Greek manuscripts is based on the fact that Erasmus was placed under ecclesiastical pressure to include it in his Greek NT of 1522, having omitted it in his two earlier editions of 1516 and 1519 because he could not find any Greek manuscripts which contained it" (Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, 2008, pp. 540-541).

Theology professors Anthony and Richard Hanson, in their book Reasonable Belief: A Survey of the Christian Faith, explain the unwarranted addition to the text this way: "It was added by some enterprising person or persons in the ancient Church who felt that the New Testament was sadly deficient in direct witness to the kind of doctrine of the Trinity which he favoured and who determined to remedy that defect . . . It is a waste of time to attempt to read Trinitarian doctrine directly off the pages of the New Testament" (1980, p. 171).

Still, even the added wording does not by itself proclaim the Trinity doctrine. The addition, illegitimate though it is, merely presents Father, Word and Holy Spirit as witnesses. This says nothing about the personhood of all three since verse 7 shows inanimate water and blood serving as such.Again, the word Trinity did not come into common use as a religious term until after the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, several centuries after the last books of the New Testament were complete. It is nota biblical concept.
And there are more on the history of trinitarianism, for those who make like to make effort and search the truth.

Ruskin
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » May 10th, 2014, 6:06 am

If you really look you will see that many religions across the world seem to have a "Holy Trinity" of some kind.


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There must be some truth to it then?

>_____>


I suppose Muslims would see the same thing and use it as an argument against the Trinity but when I see something within faith that is universal I tend to see that as strengthening the case.

enegue
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Re: The New Testament

Post by enegue » May 10th, 2014, 8:31 am

Daviddunn wrote:enegue said:
Absolutely. Anything that persists unchanged over generations must be sustained by a force that transcends generations, time, if you will. We know this is true because things that are not sustained, die.


I could not have said it better. But this does not apply to the bible as we know it today.

Here is an article from christian church ucg.org/booklet/god-trinity/spurious-re ... 7-8%C2%A0/
Some Bible translators of past centuries were so zealous to find support for their belief in the Trinity in the Scriptures that they literally added it. A case in point is 1 John:5:7-8.

It reads in the King James Version, also known as the Authorized Version: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." The words in italics are simply not a part of the generally accepted New Testament manuscripts. Regrettably, in this particular passage some other versions read essentially the same.
What about 1 John 5:6,9-10? No one is disputing the authenticity of those verses. So, 1 John 5:7-8 is likely to be authentic too because the verses logically follow what John is talking about.
This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
-- 1 John 5:6

If you remove verses 7 and 8, you just interrupt the flow of John's argument and you don't do anything to eliminate John's three witnesses, because two of them have already been mentioned in verse 6 and the other is mentioned in verse 9. You've just taken out the bit where they are all mentioned together.

Seems like a pretty stupid objection, to me.

Cheers,
enegue

Daviddunn
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Daviddunn » May 10th, 2014, 2:59 pm

No one is disputing the authenticity of those verses. So, 1 John 5:7-8 is likely to be authentic too because the verses logically follow what John is talking about.
As I have read the whole article, I can witness, New testament scholars and theology professors disputing the authenticity of the bible. 'Is likely to be authentic', are you not sure?? Whatever you understand by 'logic' is something that bewilders me! If someone puts forward his case that the bible remained unchanged, he should check his facts first, and not try to force lies down the throat of those who think rationalIy. I rest my case.

Someone related 'trinity' with other polytheist religions. Therefore I agree, trinitarianism is not monotheism! I rest my case here too!

Ruskin
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » May 10th, 2014, 6:53 pm

I don't think Zoroastrianism and Hinduism and Buddhism are polytheism though perhaps not strictly monotheism either it's difficult to say. Ancient Egypt obviously was though they were the first ever culture to have a monotheistic deity.

Daviddunn
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Daviddunn » May 10th, 2014, 11:23 pm

it's difficult to say.
You yourself are putting yourself in this difficult position. But I credit you for realising that it is difficult. One of your photos, read "The trinity doctrine is found in most pagan religions." From your own research, you dug up that the trinity is pagan. What else can I say? New testament scholars and theology professors are saying the trinity has no biblical basis. We all make mistakes, I make mistakes. God, the All Mighty, the Creator of Adam (peace be upon him) is our God, there is no god but Him, the Most Compassionate. To Him and only Him do we turn to seek forgiveness for our sins, and to Him only do we turn to seek help and guidance.

Ruskin
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » May 11th, 2014, 11:32 am

Daviddunn wrote: You yourself are putting yourself in this difficult position. But I credit you for realising that it is difficult. One of your photos, read "The trinity doctrine is found in most pagan religions." From your own research, you dug up that the trinity is pagan. What else can I say? New testament scholars and theology professors are saying the trinity has no biblical basis. We all make mistakes, I make mistakes. God, the All Mighty, the Creator of Adam (peace be upon him) is our God, there is no god but Him, the Most Compassionate. To Him and only Him do we turn to seek forgiveness for our sins, and to Him only do we turn to seek help and guidance.
Hinduism isn't really meant to be polytheism even if it kind of looks like it to outsiders.

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Spiral Out » May 11th, 2014, 11:50 am

Ruskin wrote:If you really look you will see that many religions across the world seem to have a "Holy Trinity" of some kind. There must be some truth to it then?
That's not necessarily truth, but may be preconditioning. Commonalities are not necessarily the determiners of truth.

Did all of those "trinities" emerge simultaneously in absolute isolation of each other?
Dedicated to the fine art of thinking.

Ruskin
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » May 11th, 2014, 1:29 pm

Spiral Out wrote:
Did all of those "trinities" emerge simultaneously in absolute isolation of each other?

I don't think any religion is in isolation if they all descended from the same primal source, the primal source being God himself. The Trinity could have developed from the "Great Spirit" concept of a three grade reality.


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Spiral Out
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Spiral Out » May 11th, 2014, 4:29 pm

Interesting theory.

Actually, the "holy trinity" stems from, and is an extension of the early Human sense of inherent life-sustaining importance of the sexual structures of the body as in the "father and two sons" in the male anatomy and the "mother and two daughters" in female anatomy.

They were spiritually attuned to the fundamental life-giving nature of those structures and the "trinity" story has evolved in complexity from that simple association.

Of course, in a male dominated society the trinity became simply "the father, the son and the holy ghost".
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » May 11th, 2014, 4:49 pm

Spiral Out wrote:Interesting theory.

Actually, the "holy trinity" stems from, and is an extension of the early Human sense of inherent life-sustaining importance of the sexual structures of the body as in the "father and two sons" in the male anatomy and the "mother and two daughters" in female anatomy.

That's just Freudian deconstructionism/psycho-analysis but what I gave you there was some authentic ancient wisdom from countless tens thousands of years ago there's no contest there. Do you want the primal knowledge of the ultimate reality or some kind of new fangled fad opinion of a man/psychiatry?


They were spiritually attuned to the fundamental life-giving nature of those structures and the "trinity" story has evolved in complexity from that simple association.

That's a fine explanation if you're dismissing the trinity for reasons of personal belief, you're in the same camp as the Muslims on this specific issue btw.



Of course, in a male dominated society the trinity became simply "the father, the son and the holy ghost".

The Holy Spirit is meant to be female though not many people know anything about that. Ah the esoteric knowledge you're getting, phenomenal.


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