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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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enegue
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Re: The New Testament

Post by enegue » April 28th, 2014, 5:29 pm

Geordie Ross wrote::roll: I don't believe in gods. Therefore I worship satan. Excuse me while I sacrifice a virgin and drink the blood of an orphan child.

I am not a Lavayan satanist. No matter how much you assert otherwise, I am an atheist. Falsely pinning tags onto my philosophical views will not help you.
No one has asserted you are a Lavayan Satanist, but they are atheist, like yourself, they DON'T worship devils or gods or any deities, just like yourself, and they have a philosophy the centres on pride (self-sufficiency of Man), carnality (opposed to spirituality), enlightenment (power of human reason), undefiled wisdom (uncorrupted by religious superstition), JUST LIKE YOURSELF.

Protest all you like, Geordie, the connections are unmistakeable.

Cheers,
enegue

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Geordie Ross » April 28th, 2014, 6:08 pm

I can unfairly attach many attributes of Christianity to many things that you oppose. Does that mean I would be justified in doing so? I highly doubt it. Do I tar all Christians such as yourself, with the bloody brush of the inquisition? Should I attatch your school of thought with the burning of heretics and blaphemers? No. I doubt any rational mind would attribute you with that philosophical mindset, and I'd appreciate it if you observed similar respect. Yet you fail to do such a basic logical courtesy. Outrageous.
The good life is one inspired by love, and guided by knowledge. - Bertrand Russell

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Steve3007 » April 28th, 2014, 6:16 pm

Ruskin:
How do you know that levitation or some form of telekinesis isn't possible? I think there is at least a little bit of evidence for it.
That video that you posted underneath the above comment: it was a bit of aluminium foil balanced on a pin, barely moving. Am I missing something? What's it supposed to show? I'd have thought any slight movements could easily be caused by residual electrostatic charge. In fact it reminds me of a gold leaf electroscope, which consists of gold leaf similarly isolated from air currents and which can detect very, very small electric charges.

I know this comment is off topic and says nothing about the New Testament, and I know you like to post random videos, but I was just intrigued as to your reasons for this particular one. Have you watched it?

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Re: The New Testament

Post by edelker » April 28th, 2014, 7:37 pm

Zengirl:


You are generally correct. As a student of biblical literature—mainly having studied the Pauline literature—there’s not only a complicated history around what we call the biblical text-but also theology and how it developed from those varied texts.


With the biblical texts-it is true that much of what we have in the Protestant bible (66-books) were accepted by the 3rd century A.D. However, it is also true that what was canonical was hotly debated. Origen of Alexandria, for example, often complained that there were too many texts floating about with varying degrees of acceptance. He also complained that there were numerous “conflations” of texts as well: this is where “editors” (usually monks) would ‘fuse’ verses or not know which group of manuscripts ought to the supposed Rosetta Stone-so to speak, they would simply “add” the textual readings from various manuscripts together when copying those texts. So, you would have passages that had additions simply because those copying didn’t know which manuscripts were more accurate (they must have thought that it was better safe than sorry). It was so bad that by the 4th century A.D. the majority of texts out there possessed these conflations. Much later, of course, the King James “scholars” had used a compiled manuscript that made use of these “common” conflated readings—known as the Textus Receptus (i.e., received text). Once older texts were found—like the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus (guess where those works were found lol)—did scholars begin to do more re-thinking about how to structure biblical texts. Of course, the Catholic Church also used some of these older manuscripts for their bible translations instead of the Receptus.


But there are other issues here as well. While the Christian Church, i.e., Medieval Catholicism, accepted these 66-books, they also accepted lots of other readings, traditions, and texts, too. It wouldn’t be until Martin Luther’s Reformation (the 1500’s) that Protestants would begin to officially define the cannon. But how did they generally do so?


Well, mainly it was based on the rather new ideas that were brought about by the Renaissance: returning to the older texts and more literal interpretations. One of the practices that grew up in the Medieval Church was “glossing.” Essentially, it was when monks and other clerical authorities would comment along the side of the texts; then, there were more comments added to the comments, and more, and more. Couple this practice with that of accepting traditions that had emerged over the centuries. Now, after the Crusades and broader trading was had, there was a discovery of the old literature (Aristotle was quite popular at this time as we all know). The consequence of these discoveries is hard to exaggerate. Basically, several had seen the value in these ancient texts and noted that numerous traditions just grew up historically for reasons that had little to do with preserving the past. By Martin Luther’s day-there was already a popular movement that advocated a return to the “original texts” and their teachings over those that have grown up over time.


So, the newly formed Protestant movement looked closely at what early works were most universally accepted-and they went with that generally accepted group of works (when discussing the NT-of course). This was the only real criterion.


Naturally, the Catholic Church rejected the Protestant idea on the grounds that the “Word of God” wasn’t just in written form and could be found in several forms—canonical and non- canonical. But because the Protestants had accepted a ‘minimal’ set of works as the official canon on the grounds that most of the early Church used and accepted these works, the Catholic Church exploited a well-accepted early Church teaching, too: that there was an official representative of Christ on earth—the Church of Rome; and at the Council of Trent in 1545 the Catholic Church established what was to be considered canonical: adding ancient books to both testaments.


So, technically, as far as Western Christianity was concerned, the official canon wouldn’t be decided until the 16th century and that by two separate groups of believers in central and western Europe.

The mainstream theology that aided this selective process over the centuries was partially derived from the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.—which was very much a politically involved process. The main reasons being that the ancient peoples didn’t see any value in freedom of religion—such an idea wouldn’t have occurred to them (Christian or not). It was believed that the State and the State’s religion mattered if one was to have a unified functional social order. Constantine was in a fight for his Imperial life at the time—seeing a serious challenge from the Eastern capital of the Roman Empire and shocked to see such bitter disagreement among believers, he thought it prudent to settle such theological debates as part of his agenda to restore unity to the Empire.


Texts that were believed to ‘not’ be somehow authentic or possessed some doctrinal error that was not accepted by certain sects of early believers—those doctrines that now had no official state standing (post Nicene Creed), were largely rejected. Yet, it wouldn’t be until much later in Christian history that we would have a settled answer on what was canonical—but even here that question wasn’t ever really settled (see above).


Other offshoots claimed to have the proper interpretation of Restoration Theology. Protestants claimed that they had the right reasons for accepting the canon they had. Part of the Reformation Theology at that time was the view that these believers were “restoring” the Church to its original message and purpose. However, many other denominations and cult movements began to grow up in the following centuries also claiming to possess a ‘new’ canon or a ‘new’ restoring theology that the majority had lost.


Naturally, there’s many different ways one can interpret this rather troubled and complicated history. But one thing does seem clear: that the final story of the bible isn’t one that is complete even to this day. Rather, it is a historical process still ongoing and there will be those who will likely never find a final and satisfying answer as to ‘what is the bible.’


This rather troubled history should also be a problem for those who want to claim that a perfect god who has perfectly preserved his word through the ages would leave such an indecipherable mess for his followers to clean up and defend—whoever those true followers may be.


Eric D.

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Re: The New Testament

Post by enegue » April 29th, 2014, 2:49 am

Geordie Ross wrote:I can unfairly attach many attributes of Christianity to many things that you oppose. Does that mean I would be justified in doing so? I highly doubt it. Do I tar all Christians such as yourself, with the bloody brush of the inquisition? Should I attatch your school of thought with the burning of heretics and blaphemers? No. I doubt any rational mind would attribute you with that philosophical mindset, and I'd appreciate it if you observed similar respect. Yet you fail to do such a basic logical courtesy. Outrageous.
Geordie, you don't remember how the topic took this detour, do you? It happened back here when you said, "Atheism and satanism are like astrogy and astronomy. They do not link in any way. Other than Christian rhetoric.". What has transpired since, has been the provision of evidence to support a connection, other than Christian rhetoric.

Here's a link to a topic started by an atheist who has come to question what is behind his own, and others', hatred of Christianity. From the OP:"Yet many atheists violently attack Christianity, disputing the inerrancy of the Bible; bringing up historical Christian faults, such as the Crusades, Inquisition, and Salem witch trials; calling Christian docrine stupid; and even insulting Christians themselves, calling them stupid as well. I have looked on the internet and Youtube and found countless web sites and videos going to great lengths to mock, debunk, and tear down Christian beliefs."

Atheists on this forum, in general, won't allow Christians to distance themselves from the behaviour of those who wore a Christian badge and engaged in the Crusades and the Inquisition, even though YOU might. That's beside the point, though, in regard to the claim you made that took us down this path.

Cheers,
enegue

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Geordie Ross » April 29th, 2014, 5:45 am

Again you generalize after I just pointed out how irrational it is to generalise. Absurd.
The good life is one inspired by love, and guided by knowledge. - Bertrand Russell

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Steve3007 » April 29th, 2014, 6:20 am

enegue:
Atheists on this forum, in general, won't allow Christians to distance themselves from the behaviour of those who wore a Christian badge and engaged in the Crusades and the Inquisition, even though YOU might. That's beside the point, though, in regard to the claim you made that took us down this path.
I think this is a fair comment, even if we might want to argue about exactly what is meant by the term "in general". I guess some people take it to mean, essentially, "all of them" or perhaps "all the ones that I've experienced so far". That's certainly how the concept of a general rule is used in science.

But if we take it to mean simply "a lot of them" then I think it's true. A lot of people arguing for atheism, the ones that are often labelled with the word "militant", do this. Of course, there is some naughtiness on the theistic side too. Atheists are sometimes told how meaningless and pointless their lives are or, occasionally, even told that they take an atheist position in order to avoid the moral consequences of their actions. But I haven't done a survey so I don't know which "side" are the most naughty.

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » April 29th, 2014, 6:22 am

If atheists want to bring up the crusades or the Inquisition you just have mention Stalin, Pol Pot and compare the numbers of people killed. Of course atheism never instructed these killings but you can see the parallel if you look at what Christ taught.

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Geordie Ross » April 29th, 2014, 8:09 am

Ruskin wrote:If atheists want to bring up the crusades or the Inquisition you just have mention Stalin, Pol Pot and compare the numbers of people killed. Of course atheism never instructed these killings but you can see the parallel if you look at what Christ taught.
Playing a numbers game with the skulls of victims? How charming.
The good life is one inspired by love, and guided by knowledge. - Bertrand Russell

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » April 29th, 2014, 9:25 am

Geordie Ross wrote:
Playing a numbers game with the skulls of victims? How charming.

Only atheists draw that kind of connection first on theists first because it isn't a valid point like I said. You could go a bit Sam Harris on Islam I suppose but that's a tricky issue.

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Re: The New Testament

Post by edelker » April 29th, 2014, 5:13 pm

Ruskin wrote,
“If atheists want to bring up the crusades or the Inquisition you just have mention Stalin, Pol Pot and compare the numbers of people killed. Of course atheism never instructed these killings but you can see the parallel if you look at what Christ taught.”

Two problems should be evident: (1) there’s nothing in the atheism of Stalin, for example, that logically led to millions of people dying. However, the Crusades and the Inquisition were inspired by religious teachings that are found in the bible. Naturally, certain Christians will want to argue that these are misinterpretations of the bible, but there’s little hope of ever resolving that old problem-since theologian of those periods made elaborate theological arguments for their interpretations, too.


When believers are asked why Stalin did what he did-naturally-most simply stand there blinking. All they know is that Stalin did something really bad AND he was an atheist. No context and no anything else.


(2) What Christ taught also must be cherry picked in order to derive a certain theological formula that allows believers to condemn those other believers of the Inquisition and the Crusades. The Christ of the gospels stated plenty: that he doesn’t pray for the world but for those who’ve followed him; that he comes to bring a sword and not peace; that if a man isn’t willing to leave his whole family- they are not worthy of him; that he will return to vanquish all those who oppose him; that god his father is the one that grants rulers their place on earth, and that the faithful are to go and preach his message and where they do not receive it, they’ll be harshly judged like that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Believers of these periods were convinced that the Kingdom was present and it was their job to deliver it to the world in just these apocalyptic ways until Christ returned for the grand finale.


So, any objection to the idea that they were abusing god’s word would have been anathema to them. They had every theological reason to think that the Kingdom age was here and that the Mosaic Law reformed under the New Covenant was to be put in place (see Ezek 37-40 and I Corinthians 10:11 “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come”; and Jer 31 with 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 “14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. 15For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 16To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” and see 2 Cor 3: 4-6).


Believers of these periods (the Crusades and Inquisition) had every historical and theological reason to think they were doing their part in assisting the bringing about of the Kingdom of God—the New Covenant, they believed, was being established in the world.


Lots more could be cited, but one can easily see that there’s plenty of textual resources both inside and outside the gospel literature to support poor treatment of those who do not believe or stand in the way of bringing about god's salvific plan. How these passages are to me interpreted and applied in what context no one really knows. So, many such ambiguous circumstances can be interpreted--along with equally ambiguous passages-- to show that god's kingdom is here or coming and no unbeliever ought to be allowed to stand in the way. Atheists have no such resource to Divine authority and historical ambiguity when or if they wish to subject millions to torture, slavery, and death. None!


Also, NO, atheists are not the ones drawing on this numbers game to make their case. I grew up and studied Christian thought and always encountered this line being drawn by fellow believers. In fact, you can cruse recent Christian apologetic debates and material on ethics and the subejct on the source for values and see this connection so commonly drawn to the point that unless this slippery slope reasoning wasn't employed, they'd have no point whatsoever.



Eric D.

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » April 30th, 2014, 2:22 pm

edelker wrote:
Two problems should be evident: (1) there’s nothing in the atheism of Stalin, for example, that logically led to millions of people dying.
What you have is a man made ruling political caste that becomes the rule of God on Earth so it was more an ultimate byproduct of Marxist philosophy which was heavily influenced by the thinking of 19th century materialism. The idea was to create some kind of heaven on Earth but what you ultimately end up with is more of hell on Earth. So I think you can make more of a link between Stalin and atheism than you can between Jesus who was 100% pacifist and that's what he taught and the Crusades which was kind of violent if you think about it. Certainly people did get bit religiously excited but if you take say WW2 you can see people getting excited over a political ideology based around racial supremacy.


However, the Crusades and the Inquisition were inspired by religious teachings that are found in the bible.

Not really though, even if you want to go into the Old Testament and the violent passage in there they were only applicable to a specific historical place, time and context. The Crusades had nothing to do with the Canaanites or whatever. The general crux of it was that the Muslims had denied the Christians pilgrimage rights to the Holy Land and the Byzantine Empire was getting it's ass kicked and had petitioned Rome for aid. Though the Crusaders did go berserk and ended up sacking Constantinople and making away with all the gold and religious art they had stashed there.



What Christ taught also must be cherry picked in order to derive a certain theological formula that allows believers to condemn those other believers of the Inquisition and the Crusades.

It's the Inquisitors and Crusaders that would have to cherry pick him and they would find nothing there to pick, they weren't really interested in what he taught they wanted to use their faith for political and material power, something Jesus even went out of his way to condemn.

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Re: The New Testament

Post by edelker » April 30th, 2014, 7:18 pm

Ruskin wrote,

“What you have is a man made ruling political caste that becomes the rule of God on Earth so it was more an ultimate byproduct of Marxist philosophy which was heavily influenced by the thinking of 19th century materialism.



Nawp! That wasn’t the reason Stalin did what he did. Nice try though! Stalin’s reasons are as identical in style as was any barbarous ruling Bishop or theocrat historically may have been. Ultimately, it had to do with the very messy political arrangements that were produced after the Bolshevik Revolution that left in place a large capitalist agrarian economy with a state ran industrial urban center. The conflicts that emerged from this were horrendous. Certainly, Stalin was no saint, but the issues involved had nothing to do with god or obeying god or connected to atheism or godless-materialism. Both the religious and non-religious were involved in this conflict and each belonged to both sides of the conflict, too.


Explaining this Stalinist period in theological terms is like some Southerners here in the U.S. explaining the Civil War in terms of a grand religious struggle. It’s as unfounded as it is comical!


Moreover, you should study Marxism a little more thoroughly than this since Marx’s thoughts had little to do with religious thought at all. His dialectical materialism was related to how material life (as opposed to his teacher’s view—Hegel—that history moves according to some Zeist Geist—grand Sprit) becomes arranged under any social order-- and possesses within it-its own contradictions.


There’s no affirmation or denial of god necessary for one accepting Marx’s historical analysis here. This is also why you’ll find both atheistic Marxists and theistic Marxists. For example, in places of Central and South America you’ll still find versions of “liberation theology" that are very much Christian theologically and yet Marxist economically. In fact, they see no contradiction between these two systems of thought.



Ruskin wrote,
“The idea was to create some kind of heaven on Earth but what you ultimately end up with is more of hell on Earth.”

Umm…this isn’t Marx! Marx even critiqued what he called the “Utopian Socialists.” Many Marxist scholars believe that Marx’s dialectical thought here didn’t and wouldn’t allow for any utopian dream. In fact, Marx himself cared very little for the world that might follow capitalism. He believed that he had established a kind of social science for economic and historical thought only. There are even indications in some of his writings that he believed whatever communist order might arise after capitalism that, in the end, it too would fail.


Also, you should be aware that such utopian dreams were not the province of modernity—theologians waxed heavily about preparing a heaven on earth here as well. In the 19th century there were theological movements that promoted such things as Amillennialism and Postmillennialism both of which had elements of utopian-like expectations. Added to this were large numbers of apocalyptic movements that also predicted the end of times or expected Christ to return to establish such a heaven on earth era.


Keep in mind that the one who wrote a book entitled Utopia was neither a modernist nor an atheist.


Ruskin wrote,
"So I think you can make more of a link between Stalin and atheism than you can between Jesus who was 100% pacifist and that's what he taught and the Crusades which was kind of violent if you think about it.”

Right, you can make the connection once you ignore Marxism and the entire history around which the bloodletting occurred. It’s all easy once you ignore facts.


Christ the pacifist? The one who stated that he didn’t come to bring peace but a sword, and beat the marketers out of the Temple—and vowed that he would return to exact justice in the world? No, this is YOUR interpretation of Jesus. The Crusaders and some of the theologians at the time certainly saw a different Jesus with equal textual support for their view as you could provide for your own.



Ruskin wrote,
“Certainly people did get bit religiously excited but if you take say WW2 you can see people getting excited over a political ideology based around racial supremacy.”

Yes, but a political ideology rooted in economic depression, the mysticism of Nazism, and a long historical tradition of Christian European bigotry towards the Jews. All things that a dominant secular -atheistic social order would likely not come close to accepting as anything other than utterly absurd.


The point is that you don’t get to relativize what believers did in the name of their theology simply because you can cite supposed modern cases wherein bloodshed was had.


The atheism of Stalin had nothing to do with murdering millions of people in anything like what the Crusaders did in the explicit name of their god.


Ruskin wrote,
“Not really though, even if you want to go into the Old Testament and the violent passage in there they were only applicable to a specific historical place, time and context.”

Yes, according to you! However, I cited, and can cite more, NT passages that suggest that the OT can be viewed as a kind of guide book for believers now. You may judge this hermeneutical form as poor interpretation—but you can’t prove it. Likewise, they cited those passages in the usual systematic theological way believers do today in order to justify living peacefully with all men in a secular society. The point is-is that the bible possesses no inherent guide on how to interpret itself. Given this ambiguity, pretty much anything goes. You have to cherry pick which set of passages will yield what interpretation, but, in the end, your justification for doing so will be as arbitrary as was theirs.



Ruskin wrote,

“The Crusades had nothing to do with the Canaanites or whatever. The general crux of it was that the Muslims had denied the Christians pilgrimage rights to the Holy Land and the Byzantine Empire was getting it's ass kicked and had petitioned Rome for aid. Though the Crusaders did go berserk and ended up sacking Constantinople and making away with all the gold and religious art they had stashed there.”

Not according to those that justified the Crusades! Recall that Jesus stated that the Law must still be obeyed. Paul stated that the OT was written as an example of how the Church ought to live its life. The book of Hebrews also seems at times to suggest the same principle: OT as a guide for the New Israel, that is, the church.


So, the theologians at that time understood that there was a literal interpretation of these OT passages, but they also saw in the NT a theological justification for behaving in similar fashion as the Children of Israel had done. You may not like their interpretation, but I doubt you could ever refute it without reverting to a cherry picked set of preferred texts that you see as essential—and round and round the interpretative mulberry bush the believer goes where he ends nobody knows.


By the way, there were several Crusades—just thought you should know that.



Ruskin wrote,
“It's the Inquisitors and Crusaders that would have to cherry pick him and they would find nothing there to pick, they weren't really interested in what he taught they wanted to use their faith for political and material power, something Jesus even went out of his way to condemn.”

Yes, once more, according to you! But as I demonstrated in the last post and can more thoroughly if need be, they had their cherry picked reasons for doing what they did just as you have your own cherry picked reasons for why they ought not have done so. In the end, unfortunately, there’s no way to decide since the bible isn’t a cohesive, clear, and unproblematic set of works. It is filled with the usual human intentions, biases, ambiguities, and contradictions that mark any set of works produced by human hands.



Eric D.

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Re: The New Testament

Post by James195101 » May 3rd, 2014, 11:18 pm

Reading the New Testament and using common sense, it can be seen that Jesus was an inspirational teacher of his time. However it is sad that the inspirational teachings of Jesus are today are being clouded out by the churches that are supposed to work in his name.The first and most obvious 'clouding' is the insistence on Jesus' resurrection. Clearly Jesus did not resurrect and clearly his teachings do not depend on such a shallow sign. The next one is his divinity. Clearly Jesus did not claim to be divine and clearly his teachings do not depend on such a ridiculous claim.

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Alexei » May 4th, 2014, 2:55 am

The main conclusion I drew from reading the Gospel was the following: it is not fiction. In each of the Gospels one can find episodes that are overtly disadvantageous for the Christ’s reputation. For example, when Jesus was told that His mother and His brothers had come to see Him, He pointed to His disciples and said: here are my mother and my brothers. Or, when He got hungry, and there happened to be no fruits on a fig-tree, He cursed it and wished it would wither away. Moreover, one can find flagrant inconsistencies in the Gospels, e. g., ”I come not to bring peace, but a sword”, and “all those who take the sword, will perish by the sword”, which dexterous fabricators would not have failed to smooth down. If the Gospels were fiction, everything in Them would be glossy, like, say, in the official biography of Lenin or Stalin.

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