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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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Ruskin
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » May 4th, 2014, 6:33 am

James195101 wrote: Clearly Jesus did not resurrect
You're not going to explain why this is clear then you're just going to state it?

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.
Well he did speak and forgive sins under the direct authority of God rather than on behalf of God which caused a stir. He didn't flat out say he was God but would tend to slip in hints like "I am" and this even provoked a stoning attack. Unless you want to say the Bible is corrupted by man but you're going to heavily support Islam particularly if you deny the resurrection as well. Unless you are a Muslim in which case I suppose you would heavily support Islam.

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Darryl Thomas
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Darryl Thomas » May 4th, 2014, 11:29 am

How can anyone think that the New Testament is an eye-witness account of the times of Jesus, or that it is the word of God, when it is plainly the work of thousands of scribes translating various versions in different centuries - and all voted upon by a council of rich, biased men?
Of all the points listed above, I find the only one that is not an impossibility is that the Gospel stories (legendary fiction as they exist in their present form) were based on eye - witness accounts. It is possible that some of the stories - maybe one or two scenes - where based on eyewitness accounts - obviously, any student of New Testament studies would understand that such accounts underwent years, decades and centruies of embellishments, variations, editing, excising and doctrinization.

Obviously my opinion necessitates the existence of an "historical Jesus" - which the legends of Christ were attached and projected onto. It makes more sense to me that some historical ripple took place that caused a remote, backwater anonymous cult in the Middle East to emerge into a religious empire in the span of three centuries!

Ruskin
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » May 4th, 2014, 12:16 pm

Back in that time oral accounts were a standard and efficient means of recording and passing on knowledge seeing as few people could read. The oral accounts were later compiled into the gospels giving you access to the authentic historical truth, with some margin for error. What you need to ask yourself is whether Jesus rose from the dead or not because if he did.

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James195101
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Re: The New Testament

Post by James195101 » May 5th, 2014, 6:40 am

Ruskin wrote:
James195101 wrote: Clearly Jesus did not resurrect
You're not going to explain why this is clear then you're just going to state it?

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.
Well he did speak and forgive sins under the direct authority of God rather than on behalf of God which caused a stir. He didn't flat out say he was God but would tend to slip in hints like "I am" and this even provoked a stoning attack. Unless you want to say the Bible is corrupted by man but you're going to heavily support Islam particularly if you deny the resurrection as well. Unless you are a Muslim in which case I suppose you would heavily support Islam.
Life experience has taught me that truly dead life-forms are dead. Parts of the Bible are true, and parts are 'concoctions to make a point'. Using personal life experience, you can normally tell which is which, although some are guesswork. My definition of God is that He is a human concept, and so a person cannot sensibly claim to be God. I do think that Islam was created by the wise men of the East who rejected Jesus' divinity and resurrection, like the Jews and like clear thinkers.

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Darryl Thomas
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Darryl Thomas » May 5th, 2014, 11:47 am

Ruskin wrote:Back in that time oral accounts were a standard and efficient means of recording and passing on knowledge seeing as few people could read. The oral accounts were later compiled into the gospels giving you access to the authentic historical truth, with some margin for error. What you need to ask yourself is whether Jesus rose from the dead or not because if he did.
I suspect Jesus intended to rise from the dead - and since it's been a 2000 year running of a failed prophecy, we are forced to admit that things that die tend to stay that way.

edelker
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Re: The New Testament

Post by edelker » May 5th, 2014, 5:36 pm

Ruskin wrote,
“Back in that time oral accounts were a standard and efficient means of recording and passing on knowledge seeing as few people could read. The oral accounts were later compiled into the gospels giving you access to the authentic historical truth, with some margin for error. What you need to ask yourself is whether Jesus rose from the dead or not because if he did.”

We have no idea how historically accurate the oral accounts were or what they were accounts of: were they accounts of myths that grew up around a historical figure; were they accounts of specific religious themes that several authors had in mind (the gospel of Matthew, for instance, is believed by several scholars to be a set of theological treatises that were later sown together into one book by the early Church); or did they only involve some actual history in the course of making a kind of argument that is wholly lost to us now etc.? We cannot say. I doubt that you accept the oral traditions of other religions that gave rise to written theologies as also being historically true—see those religions of Ancient Rome and Greece as well as the religions of Islam and Mormonism. Moreover, we know that there were several conflations and revisions in earlier copies.


But even if we allow for the idea that what we have is a well-documented set of written works, all we have, logically speaking, is a well-documented set of copied works—meaning: that these works were copied successfully from the original sources. That’s it. It says nothing about the historical accuracy of those original sources or even if history was the goal of those original sources (since the whole concept of historical accuracy is a rather new--Modern-- phenomenon, it is doubtful that the ancient oral traditions or the original written works were interested in representing historically accurate chronology). The ancients wrote thematically and typically had little to no interest in actual chronology and historical reporting for the sake of historical reporting.


Also, Pascal's Wager applied to Christ’s resurrection is no more convincing a wager (or argument--well, its not an argument at all) just because it deals with a resurrection.


Eric D.

Ruskin
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » May 6th, 2014, 10:18 am

edelker wrote:

We have no idea how historically accurate the oral accounts were or what they were accounts of

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


We cannot say.

We can't say for certain but I'd suggest this is the best we have to go on, better than Mohammeds revelation or whatever else. 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.


I doubt that you accept the oral traditions of other religions that gave rise to written theologies as also being historically true—see those religions of Ancient Rome and Greece as well as the religions of Islam and Mormonism.

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.


Moreover, we know that there were several conflations and revisions in earlier copies.
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.


But even if we allow for the idea that what we have is a well-documented set of written works, all we have, logically speaking, is a well-documented set of copied works—meaning: that these works were copied successfully from the original sources. That’s it. It says nothing about the historical accuracy of those original sources or even if history was the goal of those original sources (since the whole concept of historical accuracy is a rather new--Modern-- phenomenon, it is doubtful that the ancient oral traditions or the original written works were interested in representing historically accurate chronology). The ancients wrote thematically and typically had little to no interest in actual chronology and historical reporting for the sake of historical reporting.

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


Also, Pascal's Wager applied to Christ’s resurrection is no more convincing a wager (or argument--well, its not an argument at all) just because it deals with a resurrection.
If Jesus was risen then he is Lord and if he didn't he isn't we can keep this simple. 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.

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Darryl Thomas
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Darryl Thomas » May 6th, 2014, 2:42 pm

Ruskin wrote:
edelker wrote:

We have no idea how historically accurate the oral accounts were or what they were accounts of

At least we can assume there must have been an empty tomb involved as they all agree on that point. 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.
The historocity of Paul is not beyond doubt. I've just finished Herman Detering's, "The Falsified Paul" where he mentions a curious fact:
"The letters, to which the apostle is indebted for the largest part of his fame, seem to have been forgotten for almost an entire century, until we encounter them in the middle of the second century in the hands of the heretic Marcion, who was excommunicated by the Catholic church in 144 CE."
– H. Detering (The Falsified Paul, p60)

There is no record that what emerged as the Catholic Church held any writings of Paul before Marcion's edition. It's well known that Marcion's collection of Paul's letters appeared first, along with his "Gospel." Some scholars claim, and I tend to agree, that Luke - Acts was a polemic response to the Marcionite collection - and colonized "Paul" and made him palatable to orthodxy. And really, who will say it is impossible that Marcion invented "Paul" as a mouthpiece to promote the Marcionite Gospel?

Ruskin
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » May 6th, 2014, 3:14 pm

Well we seem to have St Pauls tomb and physical remains so he seems real enough.

"In June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced excavation results concerning the tomb of Paul at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. The sarcophagus was not opened but was examined by means of a probe, which revealed pieces of incense, purple and blue linen, and small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon dated to the 1st or 2nd century. According to the Vatican, these findings are consistent with the tradition that the tomb is Paul's.[83] The sarcophagus was inscribed in Latin saying, "Paul apostle martyr"

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Darryl Thomas
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Darryl Thomas » May 6th, 2014, 6:31 pm

No, we have a place that is alleged to be "St. Paul's Tomb." Big difference. Only a theological commitment could lead one to believe that St. Paul's remains are currently interred in the basilica. Besides, the NT does not explicitly state that Paul was martyred, and Marcion apparently didn't relate any martyrdom stories of Paul at all. I've been investgating the possibility that all of Paul's works are polemical pseudepigraphica produced by the Marcioinite Christians that the Catholic church later appropriated and fashioned to legitimize its own historical DNA, and to me such a scenario makes sense. There was a countless number of competing Christian sects, movements and cults pre - Nicaea. Who can say which of those versions carried the most "truth?"

Ruskin
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » May 6th, 2014, 6:51 pm

Darryl Thomas wrote:the NT does not explicitly state that Paul was martyred
It's unclear what exactly happened to him but if he was fictional you would think they would fill in all the missing details. Certainly he must have have died somehow and there were Christian persecutions going on at the time under Nero. Paul wouldn't be writing anything about his own death obviously.


There was a countless number of competing Christian sects, movements and cults pre - Nicaea. Who can say which of those versions carried the most "truth?"
The divisions tended to be over Christs divinity, the Jewish laws, and the apparent evilness of the Old Testament God but I don't see why St Paul would be need to be invented by anyone.

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Darryl Thomas
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Darryl Thomas » May 6th, 2014, 7:57 pm

Curious that the earliest Christian apologists (Pliny, Tacitus, Justin and others) don't ever mention Paul. Plus the fact that the "Paul" in the Acts ( a selfless member of a group) and the one in that appears in the epistles (self-important busybody) are two very different characters. Paul's epiphany at Damascus is nowhere related within the Epistles that bear his name. Curious. Could the figure of Paul be largely a pious fiction?

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Ruskin » May 7th, 2014, 4:10 am

You may as well say all Christian Saints were pious fictions as they generally they all had supernatural experiences, visions or capabilities related to them.

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Rederic
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Re: The New Testament

Post by Rederic » May 7th, 2014, 1:01 pm

Ruskin wrote:Back in that time oral accounts were a standard and efficient means of recording and passing on knowledge seeing as few people could read. The oral accounts were later compiled into the gospels giving you access to the authentic historical truth, with some margin for error. What you need to ask yourself is whether Jesus rose from the dead or not because if he did.

Jesus Christ wrote no account of himself, of his birth, parentage, or any thing else; not a line of what is called the New Testament is of his own writing. The history of him is altogether the work of other people; and as to the account given of his resurrection and ascension, it was the necessary counterpart to the story of his birth. His historians having brought him into the world in a supernatural manner, were obliged to take him out again in the same manner, or the first part of the story must have fallen to the ground.

The wretched contrivance with which this latter part is told exceeds every thing that went before it. The first part, that of the miraculous conception, was not a thing that admitted of publicity; and therefore the tellers of this part of the story had this advantage, that though they might not be credited, they could not be detected. They could not be expected to prove it, because it was not one of those things that admitted of proof, and it was impossible that the person of whom it was told could prove it himself.

But the resurrection of a dead person from the grave, and his ascension through the air, is a thing very different as to the evidence it admits of, to the invisible conception of a child in the womb. The resurrection and ascension, supposing them to have taken place, admitted of public and ocular demonstration, like that of the ascension of a balloon, or the sun at noon-day, to all Jerusalem at least. A thing which everybody is required to believe, requires that the proof and evidence of it should be equal to all, and universal; and as the public visibility of this last related act was the only evidence that could give sanction to the former part, the whole of it falls to the ground, because that evidence never was given. Instead of this, a small number of persons, not more than eight or nine, are introduced as proxies for the whole world, to say they saw it, and all the rest of the world are called upon to believe it. But it appears that Thomas did not believe the resurrection, and, as they say, would not believe without having ocular and manual demonstration himself. So neither will I, and the reason is equally as good for me, and for every other person, as for Thomas.

It is in vain to attempt to palliate or disguise this matter. The story, so far as relates to the supernatural part, has every mark of fraud and imposition stamped upon the face of it. Who were the authors of it is as impossible for us now to know, as it is for us to be assured that the books in which the account is related were written by the persons whose names they bear; the best surviving evidence we now have respecting that affair is the Jews. They are regularly descended from the people who lived in the times this resurrection and ascension is said to have happened, and they say, it is not true. It has long appeared to me a strange inconsistency to cite the Jews as a proof of the truth of the story. It is just the same as if a man were to say, I will prove the truth of what I have told you by producing the people who say it is false. Thomas Paine.
If Jesus rose from the dead this is academic and if he didn't then it's nothing to be concerned with.
If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, do we still have Christianity?
Religion is at its best when it makes us ask hard questions of ourselves.
It is at its worst when it deludes us into thinking we have all the answers for everybody else.
Archibald Macleish.

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Re: The New Testament

Post by Jklint » May 7th, 2014, 2:52 pm

Rederic wrote:
If Jesus didn't rise from the dead, do we still have Christianity?
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. Paul gave it its raison d'etre while the gospels not long after gave it it's most endearing narrative stories...and "stories" impress and touch the common folk much more than philosophy.

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.

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