Sunday, December 13, 2009

Answering Jim Gardener's Jesus Myth Arguemnts

Photobucket


Jim Gardener of the "How good was that" blog wants to discuss the Jesus myth thing after claiming that I posted something on this blog in the wrong place. It turns out that issue was simple confusion with the structure of his blog. Now he makes overtures to discuss other topics, so let's do it. He claims he wants to expand the Jesus myth discussion.

Frankly I don't see anything other than old hat:

Gardener
The purpose of this post is to expand the on-going debate from an older blog posting, in which many constructive ideas and explanations were bounced around as to the historical verisimilitude of the Jesus story.

Armchair theologians are fond of recalling nuggets of received opinion that stand as unqualified proof that the Jesus of the new testament was a living, breathing single individual who really did perform miracles and preside over a ministry as not only detailed in scripture, but in the narrative of ancient historians such as Josephus.


This guy writes with a bouncy community college creative writing class style. NO matter. Why characterize "arm chair theologians?" why not quote real ones and get to the point?


Gardener
These third party sources are widely sighted as corroborative proof that Jesus and the Nazarene, as a distinct organised group violently opposed to Roman rule, to which Jesus belonged, were known to and written about by independently reliable sources of information vouchsafed by references made in their extended works to other figures from antiquity, such as various Roman Caesars.


They are good corroborative sources, and there are many of them.

from Doxa (my website):

* Thallus (c. 50-75AD)

*Phlegon (First century)

* Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, c.93)

* Tacitus (Annals, c.115-120)

* Suetonius (Lives of the Caesars, c. 125)

* Galen (various writings, c.150)

* Celsus (True Discourse, c.170).


* Mara Bar Serapion (pre-200?)

* Talmudic References( written after 300 CE, but some refs probably go back to eyewitnesses)

*Lucian (Second century)

*Numenius (Second cent.)

*Galerius (Second Cent.)



Gardener:
To that end, commentary from Nick, in what I have to say is one of the most succinct explanations of why these historical reference points are not to be considered as the hard evidence of Jesus’ existence as they are often said to be, asserted the following:


They are not direct evidence, that's why the are called "corroborative." But here we see one of the major distorting tricks of the Dawkie arsenal. He's quoting a guy from a message board. Why not deal with real scholars? I can find a thousand guys on message boards who have decent knowledge but ultimately no expertise.



Gardener:
Most of the scholarly works on the Testimonium Flavianum agree that it is either partly inauthentic or wholly inauthentic.


Yea, that's another use of this distorting trick. She's speaking in a half truth and that makes it sound like the majority of scholars believe Jo didn't write about Jesus. that is exactly the opposite of he facts. while it's true that scholars either believe he did or the didn't and if you lump them together you can say they believe either it's fake in part or in whole. That's true. That does not mean, however, that the majority don't believe that Josephus really talked about Jesus. The majority do believe that he did! This the experts now, those who spend their lives studying the material. It's not an appeal to popularity bu to experts.

from Doxa:
As to the major passage, the "TF," Most scholars agree that it at least has a core of authenticity, but has been reworked. Thus most scholars agree that Jospheus does at least mention someone named Jesus of Nazerath who probably give rise to the Christian movment. According to Louis H. Feldman in "The Testimonium Flavianum: The State of the Question" in Christological Perspectives, Robert F. Berkey and Sarah A. Edwards (New York: Pilgrim, 1982) there are liberal scholars who leave the entire passage intact! (e.g. A.M. Dubarle, the French scholar). Feldman's count: 4 scholars regard as completely genuine, 6 mostly genuine; 20 accept it with some interpolations, 9 with several interpolations; 13 regard it as being totally an interpolation.[ Feldman, Louis H. Josephus and Modern Scholarship. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1984. P. 684-91]

A List of Scholar who accept at least some core passage.

John P. Meier
Raymond Brown
Graham Stanton
N.T. Wright
Paula Fredrickson
John D. Crossan
E.P. Sanders
Geza Vermes
Louis Feldman
John Thackeray
Andre Pelletier
Paul Winter
A. Dubarle
Ernst Bammel
Otto Betz
Paul Mier
Ben Witherington
F.F. Bruce
Luke T. Johnson
Craig Blomberg
J. Carleton Paget
Alice Whealey
J. Spencer Kennard
R. Eisler
R.T. France
Gary Habermas
Robert Van Voorst
Shlomo Pines
Edwin M. Yamuchi
James Tabor
John O'Connor-Murphy
Mark Goodacre
Paula Frederiksen
David Flusser
Steve Mason


Alice Whealy, Berkely Cal.

The TF controversy from antiquity to present

Twentieth century controversy over the Testimonium Flavianum can be distinguished from controversy over the text in the early modern period insofar as it seems generally more academic and less sectarian. While the challenge to the authenticity of the Testimonium in the early modern period was orchestrated almost entirely by Protestant scholars and while in the same period Jews outside the church uniformly denounced the text's authenticity, the twentieth century controversies over the text have been marked by the presence of Jewish scholars for the first time as prominent participants on both sides of the question. In general, the attitudes of Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish and secular scholars towards the text have drawn closer together, with a greater tendency among scholars of all religious backgrounds to see the text as largely authentic. On the one hand this can be interpreted as the result of an increasing trend towards secularism, which is usually seen as product of modernity. On the other hand it can be interpreted as a sort of post-modern disillusionment with the verities of modern skepticism, and an attempt to recapture the sensibility of the ancient world, when it apparently was still possible for a first-century Jew to have written a text as favorable towards Jesus of Nazareth as the Testimonium Flavianum.


According to Lois Feldman author of Josephus and Modern Scholarship "the vast majority of scholars (75 %) favor partial authenticity of the Testimonium."



Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources

Michael Gleghorn

"Did Josephus really write this? Most scholars think the core of the passage originated with Josephus, but that it was later altered by a Christian editor, possibly between the third and fourth century A.D."


(these next few quotes about scholar's views contributed by researcher Nehemias 8/18/2008 02:16:00 PM)

Prof. Mark Goodacre, Duke University:
"Josephus' text has, of course, been interpolated by Christians, but most scholars think that there is at its base a passage written by Josephus: NB style, context & non-Christian elements that survive".

Prof. Paula Frederiksen, Boston University:
"Most scholars currently incline to see the passage as basically authentic, with a few later insertions by Christian scribes." (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, page 249).
Prof. David Flusser, Hebraica University:

"Although it is generally recognized that the passage concerning Jesus in the extant greek manuscripts of his Jewish Antiquities (18:63-64) was distorted by later christian hands "the most probable view seems to be that our text represents substantially what Josephus wrote, but that some alterations have been made by a christian interpolator" (The Sage from Galilee - Rediscovering Jesus' Genius, page 12)


The leading Josephus Scholar, Steve Mason discusses the two references to Jesus in Josephus' writings in his book "Josephus and the New Testament":

about scholarship consensus:
"Taking all of these problems into consideration, a few scholars have argued that the entire passage (the testimonium) as it stands in Josephus is a Christian forgery. The Christian scribes who copied the Jewish historian's writings thought it intolerable that he should have said nothing about Jesus and spliced the paragraph in where it might logically have stood, in Josephus' account of Pilate's tenure. (...) Most critics, however, have been reluctant to go so far." (page 170-171)Mbr>


Josephus'Testimony to Jesus: by Dr. James D. Tabor

Testimonium Flavianum)
Josephus, Antiquities
18. 63-64




As we see from the quotes above it is quite a distortion to try and say that the majority of scholars don't bellicose that Jo spoke of Jesus, they do. The majority believe that the reading is "tweaked" but not fabricated wholly. That means they majority do not believe it's made up completely. That is to say they believe Josephus knew of Jesus' existence. It's utterly deceptive to try and combine those who buy the tweak theory with the few who believe it's all made up and pretend that the majority believe as the latter.

This is not the end of Gardener's dishonest approach. He also wants us to think that because Origin didn't speak of the TF then there's not textual basis for it prior to Eusebius.



Origen was clearly familiar with the Antiquities, and writes about a far less significant brief possible allusion to Jesus via James, and yet he not only makes no mention of the Testimonium passage, he further characterizes Josephus as not believing in Jesus the Christ–totally inconsistent with the transcriptions of the Testimonium we now have. Indeed, we don’t have any reference at all to the Testimonium passage from any of the early church fathers until Eusebius, writing about three centuries after the supposed time of Jesus.




Many atheists try to imply that Eusebius forged it but Gardener doesn't go that far. His assertions are unfounded however. We do have indications that the passage was known before Eusebius.


the following is a section form Doxa that I worte and researched:

Steve Mason discusses the two references to Jesus in Josephus' writings in his book "Josephus and the New Testament":

alternate versions (Agapius, Pseudo-Hegesipus, Michael the Syrian):

"Finally, the existence of alternative versions of the testimonium has encouraged many scholars to think that Josephus must have written something close to what we find in them, which was later edited by Christian hands. if the laudatory version in Eusebius and our text of Josephus were the free creation of Christian scribes, who then created the more restrained versions found in Jerome, Agapius, and Michael?" (page 172)


And:
"Nevertheless, since most of those who know the evidence agree that he said something about Jesus, one is probably entitled to cite him as independent evidence that Jesus actually lived, if such evidence were needed. (page 174 ff).

Prof. Louis Feldmann, in his book Josephus and Modern Scholarship, noted that between 1937 to 1980, of 52 scholars reviewing the subject, 39 found portions of the Testimonium Flavianum to be authentic - 10 scholars regarded the Testimonium Flavianum as entirely or mostly genuine, 20 accept it with some interpolations, 9 with several interpolations, and 13 regard it as being totally an interpolation. (See Christopher Price, A Thorough Review of the Testimonium Flavianum; Peter Kirby, Testimonium Flavianum)

So, according Feldman, the vast majority of scholars (75 %) favor partial authenticity of the Testimonium. Some scholars who accepts that Josephus wrote something about Jesus: Lane Fox, Michael Grant, Crossan, Borg, Meier, Tabor, Thiessen, Frederiksen, Flusser, Charlesworth, Paul Winter, Feldman, Mason...

far from Gardener's implication that the majority don't believe Jo wrote any of it, the truth is a huge majority believe he did and online small parts are "tweaked."

Finally, many commentators who regards TF as entirely interpolation, do accept smaller passage (eg. Per Bilde, Hans Colzelmann).

(Mason, Feldman, Colzelmann quotes contributed by researcher Nehemias CADRE blog 8/18/2008 02:16:00 PM)


a) Jerome's Reading.

St. Jerome quoted from the TF as saying "he was believed to bethe Messiah," rather than "he was the Messiah." This has led many scholars to believe that Jerome knew of another, perhaps older version of the TF that read differently and lacked the "tweeked" parts of the passage.

That tells us there was a earlier reading than the one we know.

b)The Arabic Text.

A Jewish scholar named Sholmo Poines foudn an Arabic Text that reads differently then does the recieved version of the TF.

Josephus'Testimony to Jesus
James D. Tabor
(Testimonium Flavianum) Josephus, Antiquities 18. 63-64

Tabor:
"Professor Shlomo Pines found a different version of Josephus testimony in an Arabic version of the tenth century. It has obviously not been interpolated in the same way as the Christian version circulating in the West:"


"At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders."



c) Syriac text.

Alice Whealy, Berkely Cal.

The TF controversy from antiquity to present

In the second major twentieth century controversy over the authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum, the erudite Near Eastern studies scholar, Shlomo Pines, tried to argue that the paraphrase of the Testimonium that appears in a Christian Arabic chronicle dating from the tenth century might be more authentic than the textus receptus Testimonium. 21 Reaction to Pines' thesis was mixed, but the most important piece of evidence that Pines' scholarship on Christian Semitic sources brought to light was not the Arabic paraphrase of the Testimonium that he proposed was more authentic than the textus receptus, but the literal Syriac translation of the Testimonium that is quoted in a twelfth century chronicle compiled by the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch (1166-1199). 22 It is this version of the Testimonium, not the Arabic paraphrase of it, that has the greatest likelihood of being, at least in some ways, more authentic than the textus receptus Testimonium because, as noted earlier, this version of the text agrees with Jerome's Latin version of the text in the same crucial regard. The medieval Syriac Testimonium that Pines uncovered is very strong evidence for what many scholars had argued since birth of the controversy over the text in the Renaissance, namely that Jerome did not alter the Testimonium Flavianum to read "he was believed to be the Christ" but rather that he in fact knew the original version of the Testimonium, which he probably found in Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica , which read "he was believed to be the Christ" rather than "he was the Christ."



(2) No Textaul evidence

No textual evidence supports the charge that Origin or Eusbius made up the passage.

a) All copies we have contain the quote.

If it had been forged we should have some copies that don't contian it.

New Advent Encyplopidia:

"all codices or manuscripts of Josephus's work contain the text in question; to maintain the spuriousness of the text, we must suppose that all the copies of Josephus were in the hands of Christians, and were changed in the same way."



b) Passage known prior to Eusebius

Nor is it ture that our first indication of the existence of the Passage begins with Eusebuis:

Again, the same conclusion follows from the fact that Origen knew a Josephan text about Jesus, but was not acquainted with our present reading; for, according to the great Alexandrian doctor, Josephus did not believe that Jesus was the Messias ("In Matth.", xiii, 55; "Contra Cels.", I, 47).



c)Silence of Early writters is explianed

Second, it is true that neither Tertullian nor St. Justin makes use of Josephus's passage concerning Jesus; but this silence is probably due to the contempt with which the contemporary Jews regarded Josephus, and to the relatively little authority he had among the Roman readers. Writers of the age of Tertullian and Justin could appeal to living witnesses of the Apostolic tradition. (Ibid)




3)Eusebius careful with sources.

Lightfoot, again:

The manner in which Eusebius deals with his very numerous quotations elsewhere, where we can test his honesty, is a sufficient vindication against this unjust charge.1Moreover, Eusebius is generally careful not only to collect the best evidence accessible, but also to distinguish between different kinds of evidence. “Almost every page witnesses to the zeal with which he collected testimonies from writers who lived at the time of the events which he describes. For the sixth and seventh books he evidently rejoices to be able to use for the foundation of his narrative the contemporary letters of Dionysius; ‘Dionysius, our great bishop of Alexandria,’ he writes, ‘will again help me by his own words in the composition of my seventh book of the history, since he relates in order the events of his own time in the letters which he has left’ (vii. praef.) . . . In accordance with this instinctive desire for original testimony, Eusebius scrupulously distinguishes facts which rest on documentary from those which rest on oral evidence. Some things he relates on the authority of a ‘general’ (iii. 11, 36) or ‘old report’ (iii. 19, 20) or from tradition (i. 7, . 9, vi. 2, &c.).



3)Admits when he can't fill in gaps

Lightfoot agin:


"In the lists of successions he is careful to notice where written records failed him. ‘I could not,’ he says, ‘ by any means find the chronology of the bishops of Jerusalem preserved in writing; thus much only I received from written sources, that there were fifteen bishops in succession up to the date of the siege under Hadrian, &c.’ (iv. 5).” [W.] “There is nothing like hearing the actual words” of the writer, he says again and again (i. 23, iii. 32, vii. 23; comp. iv. 23), when introducing a quotation."(Lightfoot,Ibid.)


If Eusebius really believed that pious fruad was acceptable, why did he bother to admit when he couldn't fill in a gap? Why didn't he just make up the information? If he made up Bishop lists on other occasions, why not this time?

4)Pious Fraud Quotation Itself a fraud

Roger Pearse, an experienced amateur scholar demonstrates that this rumor about Eusebius goes back to a quotation by Gibbon, and Eusebuis never said anything like it:

"Some very odd statements are in circulation about Eusebius Pampilus the Historian. Recently someone quoted one of them at me, as a put-down. I had the opportunity to check the statements fairly easily, and the results are interesting, if discouraging for those looking for data on the internet. Since then I have come across other variants, and added these also.


Note that the Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.

*'I have repeated whatever may rebound to the glory, and suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of our religion'

*'It will sometimes be necessary to use falsehood for the benefit of those who need such a mode of treatment.'"

Roger goes on in a long page to disect and disprove this whole thesis, and to show that it was the 18th century historian Gibbon who said this about Eusebius, and not Eusebius himself.

Next: Page 3 THIS Argument; Josephus 3
Next argument: III.B. Tacitus

Gardener:

So 1) the authenticity of the passage is highly suspect. 2) Even if it had been authentic, it would have been written decades after the time of Jesus, based on, at best, second-hand information taken from unreferenced sources of unknown reliability. And 3) As the story goes, the creator of a vast cosmos of (at least) a hundred billion galaxies comes to our tiny speck (after a few billion years) and actually lives among us for a while. Given the limitless power at his disposal, why are we having to scratch for a pathetic few highly-suspect crumbs of transcriptions of second-hand stories written long after the fact? Does that really sound like the modus operandi of a god? If he came to this planet to reveal himself, why did he do so in a secretive way that leaves behind the exact same lack of hard evidence that we typically have for personages of myth?



Gardener's assertions are contrary to the facts. Most of his arguemnts are made up of begging the question. The evidence for the TF is overwhealming. No copy of Jo exists without the TF in it. We have version we know to be older than Eusebius. There are so many different versions and so widespread there is no reason to think a forger could have controled all the readings.

His arguments about what God would do how he thinks the universe ought to stack up is not based upon facts but merely begs the question.

24 comments:

ZDENNY said...

I think Jim may be done with you after this post. Jim's knowledge is very limited and it certainly doesn't extend into Scholarship.

Even though 75% of NT Scholars believe that the disciples saw the ressurected Christ, Jim simply digs a whole and rejects the science.

His rejection of Christianity is moral and not intellectual.

I think you presented an excellent response and I hope Jim reads the whole thing. I expect he will soon ban you from his blog if you keep this up.

Loren said...

I still think that the Testimonium Flavianum is poor evidence. All of your other sources are secondhand and don't add anything to the New Testament. In fact, Thallus and Phlegon most likely refer to some solar eclipse that was observed elsewhere - Thallus: an Analysis

Why didn't Pliny the Elder see that supposed worldwide darkness when Jesus Christ was crucified? He wrote about lots of things that were even weirder, and he was about 9 years old at the time.

Metacrock said...

ZDENNY: I don't think that guy could think his way out of a paper bag. But he tried to make an inroad into the world of scholarship, so that's my world, thus I kicked his ass. If he wants another ass kicking he knows where to come for it.

Metacrock said...

Blogger Loren said...

I still think that the Testimonium Flavianum is poor evidence.

Metacrock: demonstrate that please?




All of your other sources are secondhand and don't add anything to the New Testament.

Meta: why do atheists always play this little game of not knowing what historians do? you will say "no historians talk about Jesus" so I quote a historian and you go "O but that was a century latter." Yes, that's what historians do, they talk about stuff second hand that happened a long time before they lived. that's called "history."

second hand evidence is historical evidence and does confirm the existence of historical personages. NO historian says "we can only go by evidence that up to the minute 6:00 news, right on the scene. Even a 6:00 news report is second hand unless they interview the people in it. When a new reader says "today a fire broke out on main street" that's second hand unless the news reader was there.



In fact, Thallus and Phlegon most likely refer to some solar eclipse that was observed elsewhere - Thallus: an Analysis



Meta: they say it was not an eclipse. Wrong time of year.


Why didn't Pliny the Elder see that supposed worldwide darkness when Jesus Christ was crucified?

Meta: Maybe he was asleep


He wrote about lots of things that were even weirder, and he was about 9 years old at the time.


Meta: more typical game playing. you say "there are no people outside the Bible say say X." Well here are two. "O that don't' mean X they mean Y, but no one else."

argument from silence! If I found a quote by Pliny about the darkness you would say "he's talking about an eclipse, why didn't Philo wrote about it?

Rex said...

You still have no proof that god exists.

Evidently, you have a bunch of "scowlers" who share your delusions, but arguing over 1500 year old hearsay, is not evidence, or truth, or anything new.

Tell me that god appeared to the UN, and that, during his speech, he created a new continent in the Pacific, and that we have a new moon in orbit around Earth, and he moved a couple of interesting stars close enough to us so that we could study them better, then I will believe in your god. Until then, I will continue to think that you suffer from the same delusions of your ancestors.

I understand that you choose to believe in the tooth fairy, but I don't.

All of your "evidence" is hearsay.

No matter who your "scholars" are, they are all working off of thousand year old texts, "written" by illiterates, decades after the supposed events took place.

If god really existed, and he wanted us to worship him correctly, he would appear to us regularly, and guide us as to how to do it correctly.

His lack of appearances that can be verified objectively, speak to the fact that either he doesn't care about us, or more likely, he doesn't exist.

I have not turned every stone in the universe, so I cannot say that I know for sure. If you say that you know for sure, you are engaging in the most pernicious form of wishful thinking, and outright lying, in the history of mankind, and deep down, you know it. That knowledge, and the knowledge of your mortality drive you to defend your fairy tale at the top of your lungs!

I am sorry for you that you can't accept that we will not ever truly have all of the answers in our lifetimes, but to claim to have them all is intellectually bankrupt.

The time has come to draw back the curtain that covers the sham that religion has been since the dawn of Man, and allow Humans to step into the light of the truth without the tooth fairy.

We don't have all of the answers, but that is the point, we seek them, and we know that the ones that are from antiquity ring false. Geocentrism, anyone?

Beware of anyone who claims to have all of the answers, because he is playing on your fears to manipulate you. It is after all, the oldest human trick in the book.

Metacrock said...

Let me remind everyone the point of atheist watch is to show that a segment of the atheist movement is headed toward becoming a hate group. The purpose is not to demonstrate the moral and spiritual problems of individuals.

We are not here to broadcast ad hom arguments or to tell the world what's wrong with particular atheists.

We need to keep our comments aimed at the atheist movement as a whole and on the logical of arguments not personalities.

Loren said...

I still think that the Testimonium Flavianum is poor evidence.
Metacrock: demonstrate that please?


What would you consider convincing evidence that the TF is bogus? Like an accidentally-copied-in scribe's note.

All of your other sources are secondhand and don't add anything to the New Testament.
Meta: why do atheists always play this little game of not knowing what historians do?


Metacrock, did anyone ever tell you the importance of trying to get as close to the source as possible? That helps avoid distortions and misunderstandings and urban legends. If you don't believe me, I suggest that you peruse http://www.snopes.com some time.


In fact, Thallus and Phlegon most likely refer to some solar eclipse that was observed elsewhere - Thallus: an Analysis
Meta: they say it was not an eclipse. Wrong time of year.

I've never heard of that.

Why didn't Pliny the Elder see that supposed worldwide darkness when Jesus Christ was crucified?
Meta: Maybe he was asleep

Ah, the pleasures of Bible-reading. It happened 12pm - 3pm Jerusalem time, and we can translate that time into times elsewhere very easily.

Pliny the Elder had grown up at Lake Como near Milan, Italy, making that darkness 10:20am - 1:20pm to him. He would have been wide awake at the time, as would nearly everybody else in the Roman Empire. Lisbon: 9am - 12pm, Yerevan and Baghdad: 12:40pm - 3:40pm

China is a more difficult case; the darkness would have taken place form 5:30pm to 8:30pm, so it would likely have attracted less notice.

argument from silence! If I found a quote by Pliny about the darkness you would say "he's talking about an eclipse, why didn't Philo wrote about it?

If I found stuff from Pliny, Suetonius, Tacitus, and several other historians talking about a mysterious darkness, and if the times they noted were appropriate for their locations, then I'd have to accept it. In fact, if I went back in a time machine with a video camera and recorded it, I'd feel very sure that it had happened.

But there's no evidence of such a thing. In fact, there's evidence of the opposite. Many ancient historians would make various events more dramatic by adding accounts of eclipses during them, something called "literary eclipses".

So the mysterious darkness when Jesus Christ was crucified was likely a literary eclipse, a totally fictional event added for dramatic effect.

Metacrock said...

I still think that the Testimonium Flavianum is poor evidence.
Metacrock: demonstrate that please?

What would you consider convincing evidence that the TF is bogus? Like an accidentally-copied-in scribe's note.

Meta: The historical critical method requires textual evidence. You have to have a text of Josephus that does not include the TF. there is not one. that's a pretty good proof that it wasn't fabricated, becuase if it was there should be some copies, at least one, that doesn't' contain it. that's a VERY serious problem for your view.




All of your other sources are secondhand and don't add anything to the New Testament.

that is ludicrous and irresponsible statement. I think you don't know what first hand means. It doesn't mean just copies of Josephus. The readings of Jerome, the Arabs the Syriac, those are first hand. Jerome is first hand because he quotes a version of it that would be an ancient version.

the textual evidence is on my side because we don't have a copy of Jo that lacks the TF.




Meta: why do atheists always play this little game of not knowing what historians do?

Metacrock, did anyone ever tell you the importance of trying to get as close to the source as possible?

Meta: I am a trained historian sweetie pie. you obviously don't understand what historians do. The false criteria that it has to be a contemporary source is not something historians require. Sure it would be nice, but they did not have the 6:00 news and we should not expect such a source. we don't have sources like that for anything in the first century, not ANYTHING, To rule this out becuase of that when it goes for every single source is ludicrous and ridiculous and irresponsible.


That helps avoid distortions and misunderstandings and urban legends. If you don't believe me, I suggest that you peruse http://www.snopes.com some time.


Meta: I suggest you do a Ph.D. in history and get some formal training as I did.

In fact, Thallus and Phlegon most likely refer to some solar eclipse that was observed elsewhere - Thallus: an Analysis
Meta: they say it was not an eclipse. Wrong time of year.
I've never heard of that.


Meta: read some books! you have done your homework. do you even understand what an eclipse is? we can predict them you know. they go by the calender do you understand why?

Why didn't Pliny the Elder see that supposed worldwide darkness when Jesus Christ was crucified?
Meta: Maybe he was asleep
Ah, the pleasures of Bible-reading. It happened 12pm - 3pm Jerusalem time, and we can translate that time into times elsewhere very easily.


Meta: people took naps.You didn't get the joke because you are not well read on the ancient world. What did Pliny the Elder do when Vesuvius erupted? He took a nap to prove he was not afraid.

nothing like being well read, not in atheism anyway.


Pliny the Elder had grown up at Lake Como near Milan, Italy, making that darkness 10:20am - 1:20pm to him. He would have been wide awake at the time, as would nearly everybody else in the Roman Empire. Lisbon: 9am - 12pm, Yerevan and Baghdad: 12:40pm - 3:40pm

Meta: people sometimes nap in the day. it's a common practice among the aristocracy. Especially true in Latinate countries.

But really it was sarcasm because your argument is foolish. argument from silence is not proof. a lot of people didn't write about things that did exist. that's just dumb to say "why didn't so and so write about this?"

Metacrock said...

China is a more difficult case; the darkness would have taken place form 5:30pm to 8:30pm, so it would likely have attracted less notice.

Meat: so typical of atheists the guy in the sky klan to take metaphor so literally. If it was an embellishment so what? mystical experience is transformational. that is proved conclusively by science. It's stupid to reject it becuase you can't understand metaphors.

argument from silence! If I found a quote by Pliny about the darkness you would say "he's talking about an eclipse, why didn't Philo wrote about it?


Meta:why would I want to say that? I don't believe it was an eclipse.

proving the darkness at noon has nothing to do with Jesus being a man in history either. So typical of Dawkies to confuse historical existence with doctrines about the deity of Christ. You seem to think that if you confuse the two you disprove Jesu existed by arguing against his deity, is that it? Insane!



If I found stuff from Pliny, Suetonius, Tacitus, and several other historians talking about a mysterious darkness, and if the times they noted were appropriate for their locations, then I'd have to accept it. In fact, if I went back in a time machine with a video camera and recorded it, I'd feel very sure that it had happened.


Meta: you obviously wouldn't accept it because we have two or three people talking about it and you can't accept it. Its not a eclipse because passover was celebrated so it couldn't be an eclipse. look it up.

But even if it was embellished what that have to do with Jesus existing as a man in history?


But there's no evidence of such a thing. In fact, there's evidence of the opposite. Many ancient historians would make various events more dramatic by adding accounts of eclipses during them, something called "literary eclipses".

Meta; I just ruled out the eclipse.

don't you understand your thinking is just like a fundamentalists? you take everything literally, you cross categories in logic, you confuses every distinction you can to make the one point you think you can pull regardless of how irrelevant it is and totally miss the point every time.


So the mysterious darkness when Jesus Christ was crucified was likely a literary eclipse, a totally fictional event added for dramatic effect.

MEta: does not prevent Jesus from existing in history.

Loren said...

Metacrock, it seems like you are claiming that Pliny the Elder had taken a nap that just so happened to bracket when this mysterious darkening had happened. And that nobody else in his household had seen it, certainly not Daddy Pliny or Mommy Pliny. And apparently hardly anyone else in the entire Roman Empire.

And what does mystical experience have to do with this alleged event?

Furthermore, if it is not literal history, it is then much like a "literary eclipse", whether you like it or not.

Also, Metacrock, did your training in history ever teach you how to distinguish fact from fiction?

Metacrock said...

Loren did your training as whatever you are rob you of your ability to spot sarcasm?

why have no you had no training in logic at all? give me one reason why Pliny should have written about that? why him? why didn't he write about Josephus? he didn't so that means Jo didn't exist right? whatever Pliny didn't write about doesn't' exist is that it?

call Sherry Clarkson university of Texas at Dallas she will prove that I was Ph.D. candidate in history of ideas program.

Metacrock said...

that a certain person did not write about something has never been considered a proof by historians and it never will be. it's argument from silence and this a fallacy.

I keep saying this and you keep making the same fallacious assertion and you don't even bother to respond. so typical dawkies. they don't know anything and they keep setting up their own phony standards.

Loren said...

Arguments from silence are completely legitimate are in some cases. Let's say that I claimed that a 100-ft-tall giant robot walked through downtown Dallas last Wednesday noon. But nobody in Dallas ever claimed to have seen it, and there was no mention of it in the newspapers or the local TV news shows. Would you claim that that non-observation is not really evidence against the presence of that giant robot?

So it is with that crucifixion darkness. People all over the Roman Empire would have seen it, and the more literate ones would have written about it in detail; we'd have a *lot* more than the Gospels and some obscure allusions.

They might have gotten puzzled over why the people in Hispania saw it in late morning while the people in Anatolia saw it in early afternoon and people in Italy saw it at midday -- until someone points out that that's a natural consequence of the roundness of the Earth.

Metacrock said...

Arguments from silence are completely legitimate are in some cases. Let's say that I claimed that a 100-ft-tall giant robot walked through downtown Dallas last Wednesday noon. But nobody in Dallas ever claimed to have seen it, and there was no mention of it in the newspapers or the local TV news shows. Would you claim that that non-observation is not really evidence against the presence of that giant robot?


Meta: problem is when argument from silence proves the case against your view then you will ignore it or call it a fallacy. So you apply it selectively. You set up a phony crtieria that historians don't use. no historian says "X must be written by about by Pliny to be true." But for arbitray reason you set up Pliny as the guy. why not use Josephus as the guy? because that disprove your view.

example of argument from silence disproving the Jesus myth position: no opponent of Christianity ever argued that he didn't exist any time before the late 19th century. In fact major opponents said he did exist. But you don't count that as anything.

the gaint walking through Dallas example is bad. Because the writing we have from the first century are sparce. We don't have a ot of things, and just becasue we don't have Pliny writting about Jesus doesn't mean he didn't it dosn't mean he's the standard and if he didn't write about something it didn't exist.

Mythers also just ignore a host of real good reasons why contemporaries didn't write about Jesus during his life time but they totally ignore these kinds of things to suit their phony criteria.


So it is with that crucifixion darkness. People all over the Roman Empire would have seen it, and the more literate ones would have written about it in detail; we'd have a *lot* more than the Gospels and some obscure allusions.

Meta: we have hardly anything from that century and we do have three people talking about and you just dismiss it as an eclipse so if Pliny did write about it you would just ignore it. Maybe others do. maybe there are 50 people who mention it and it's all put under the heading of "eclipse."


They might have gotten puzzled over why the people in Hispania saw it in late morning while the people in Anatolia saw it in early afternoon and people in Italy saw it at midday -- until someone points out that that's a natural consequence of the roundness of the Earth.

you are assuming that we have gobs of information form that century and people all over the world wrote and we have their writings. we have only a handful of writings overall from the whole the first century. it's very space if you everything we have from the whole first century it would be less I've written in school.

howgoodisthat said...

Well first of all you spell the name of my blog wrong then you spell my name wrong and then you fail to post a link to my site so I don't get a link-back to here which would've made me aware of the fact you're all having this discussion about me in the first place. Then I see the omnipresence that is Zdenny has taken it upon herself to, yet again, speak on my behalf without accurately representing any of my actual views—and not even having the common courtesy to invite me to defend my position.

So—seeing as we're off to a flying start in the honesty and accuracy stakes—without even mentioning the infant school level of grammar and spelling that litters the rest of this article, let me start by saying one thing, which in the no-doubt endless diatribe which will follow my reply that I can guarantee no-one will even attempt to provide an answer for.

There is no independent evidence whatsoever that a walking on water, miracle performing, born to a virgin carpenter by the name of Jesus ever existed. None. It is an article of Christian faith—not a matter of historical fact. If you have evidence to the contrary of this, my advice is to present it to the historical society as soon as humanly possible—because it is the single most important discovery in the history of the world.

In the absence of such evidence, I will grant you that there may well have been what Josephus refers to as The Christos—meaning a movement of charismatic preachers, who espoused the values of peace, love and good happiness stuff. But the belief that Josephus alone corroborates the New Testament as a literal word for word account of the movements of one man has been proven, time and again to be a completely incorrect interpretation of the kind of work the Testimonium Flavianum was intended to be and how it was intended to be used.

Jim Gardner said...

If Josephus thought Jesus was the messiah, why didn't he just say so? Why did he call the only Jesus mentioned in any of his writing "the brother of James"—and even then in a completely different book to the Testimonium Flavianum—which does mention The Christos but not in relation to the brother of James; they are two different people.

Why have countless biblical scholars, for hundreds and hundreds of years consistently encountered and wrote about these serious contradictions? Origen's understanding of Josephus in the year 240 was that, "Josephus was not believing in Jesus as the Christ" and "he did not accept Jesus as Christ". So why do Christians consistently point people in the direction of exactly the kind of evidence which proves the opposite of what they claim it does? Could it be as simple as that they aren't interested in these matters of fact?

The problem you people have is you're so busy telling yourself what you believe is true, no matter what, that when you come under attack by "those evil atheists" you presume it's because people don't understand what you're faith is about—but that's exactly the opposite reason why we point out the flaws in your argument.

It is precisely because there are so many blatant flaws in the supposedly inerrant and unalterable, perfect word of the creator of the universe that make the truth-claims of New Testament literalists so easy to dismiss. The fact that you don't grasp this doesn't change the fact it is true.

I can guarantee that the replies to this post will echo exactly the same failures to address my actual point yet again that have been made a million times before. But I'd be delighted to be proven wrong—although, if you seriously think I'm going to take instructions on how to think and write properly from some blogger.com liar for Christ who still hasn't figured out that when a word is underlined in red it means it is spelt wrong, dyslexia or not, then you truly do belong on your knees.

howgoodisthat said...

http://howgoodisthat.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/did-jesus-really-exist/#comment-5304

Metacrock said...

I am not going to post a long ha-rang between Todd and Jim about how terrible each other are. keep that crap off my blog.

I will post this one about some his arguments on the issues.

Metacrock said...

If Josephus thought Jesus was the messiah, why didn't he just say so?

I never argued that Josephus thought Jesus was the Messiah. that's not important. He thought he existed as a man in history that's the point. He does not have to be messiah to exist.


Why did he call the only Jesus mentioned in any of his writing "the brother of James"—and even then in a completely different book to the Testimonium Flavianum—which does mention The Christos but not in relation to the brother of James; they are two different people.


ahahah that's totally ridiculous. It's obvious it's absurd becuase he's clearly talking about James who took over Jesus' movement. There's not going to be two movements in the same era with Jesus and bother James as founders.

that's such an obvious doge. we got you dead to rights, your crap is disproved. but you just can't accept it so you have to clutch at straws. "here's a different guy see, yea that's th ticket a different guy.


Why have countless biblical scholars, for hundreds and hundreds of years consistently encountered and wrote about these serious contradictions?

they have not. No one ever questioned Jesus existence until the 19th century.


Origen's understanding of Josephus in the year 240 was that, "Josephus was not believing in Jesus as the Christ" and "he did not accept Jesus as Christ". So why do Christians consistently point people in the direction of exactly the kind of evidence which proves the opposite of what they claim it does? Could it be as simple as that they aren't interested in these matters of fact?


You are confused about the Josephus argument. no one I know of ever said that Jo proves he was messiah (btw who did Jo think was Messiah do you know? He thought the Roman Vespasian was! he did, its' true).

the only issue I have ever seen is that Jo thought Jesus existed as a man in history.


The problem you people have is you're so busy telling yourself what you believe is true, no matter what, that when you come under attack by "those evil atheists" you presume it's because people don't understand what you're faith is about—but that's exactly the opposite reason why we point out the flaws in your argument.

Metacrock said...

your problem, you are so deeply filled with hate you bother to read the arguments so you don't know the facts or the issues.

It is precisely because there are so many blatant flaws in the supposedly inerrant and unalterable, perfect word of the creator of the universe that make the truth-claims of New Testament literalists so easy to dismiss.

read herring, not even part of the issues. First, I'm a liberal, do you undersatnd liberal? It means I don't believe in inerrency. understand that?

Secondly, it's not part of the issue what people believe. the issue is Jesus as a man in history and there is vast evidence for that.



The fact that you don't grasp this doesn't change the fact it is true.

you are the last person to go around talking about what people don't grasp as is demonstrated by your stupidity above.



I can guarantee that the replies to this post will echo exactly the same failures to address my actual point yet again that have been made a million times before.


your actual point missed the point. You think the issue is Jo believed Jesus was Messiah and that could not be less perceptive or more irrelevant. so you miss the point totally and thus my pointing that out is right on target.

the thing is, and I'm serious here, you are brainwashed by a hate group. that's why you can't think clearly and you don't listen to what people say.

you can't listen good when there's a voice in your head going "you hate them, they are evil and stupid, don't' listen to them, you don't need to read all that,t hey don't know anything..."




But I'd be delighted to be proven wrong—although, if you seriously think I'm going to take instructions on how to think and write properly from some blogger.com liar for Christ who still hasn't figured out that when a word is underlined in red it means it is spelt wrong, dyslexia or not, then you truly do belong on your knees.


Now that sort of little childish stupidity wont get you anywhere. You are only showing that you are too stupid to understand dyslexia and that puts in the camp with people who mock handicapped.

try out growing the hate first you will be miles ahead.

howgoodisthat said...

Why have you missed out an entire section of my original reply?

http://howgoodisthat.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/did-jesus-really-exist/#comment-5304

WriterWriter said...

Hilarious.

The thing with Christians is that you're always looking for ways to prove this crap and everything you dig up either didn't actually exist or has been discarded, disproved, laughed at entirely.

The KEY to knowing that somewhere in your suffering and starving minds that you have rational questions and reasonable, expectable doubts about your paradigm is the endless PERSONAL attacks you lay on people who are not cowering in fear of a myth.

ZDENNY: I'm sure you didn't mean to make this error but it is lovely anyway in what it implies: "Jim simply digs a whole and rejects the science."

.... Did you mean 'digs a hole'?
Jim absolutely does NOT reject the science. That's the whole point! You people reject science, reason, rationality and plain old human common sense. Yes, Jim does 'dig a whole,' in that he digs in a WHOLE argument, based on real things.

If you want one simple way to PROVE your myth is based on a sun god myth, get yourself into any cathedral and notice
1. It points east
2. the most opulent decorations begin in the east of the building and peter out at the west....

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west....

As to Jim's style of writing being 'college' level, I absolutely beg to differ. Jim is an astoundingly good writer. If college students wrote at that level, the entire world of professors and instructors would be dancing in the streets.

Having said that, whatever does Jim's writing ability have to do with the quality and thoughtfulness of his arguments?

YOU have employed a classic but childish method of diverting (attempting to anyway) point of view from the subject. I might add that you have very much edited Jim's writing - meaning you've removed salient parts - which instantly kills your 'argument.' You haven't responded to the entirety of Jim's post... What you've left out is telling, to say the least.

But I ask you, because I'm utterly fascinated: WHY do you cling to this myth of yours???

REALLY, really, tell me please, in plain terms, what would happen if you just dispensed with it? I cannot understand such an intense, childish devotion to a myth that has no more truth or value than that of Santa Claus.

Metacrock said...

this is not a dumping ground for a bunch of your spam. In that segment I made cogent argument that the majority of scholars accept the TF as valid proof that Jo believe Jesus existed, you did not answer that point.

Most of the arguemnts you make one fins on every Jesus myther board and every Myther site, they have been refuted many many times. You never answer anything directly and you don't seem to understand makes evidence valid or not.

Metacrock said...

first of all we are not going to do this personal yamerign here. This is not a site put up where atheists can get their rocks off mocking and ridiculing.Stick to the issues and don't be personal.

The thing with Christians is that you're always looking for ways to prove this crap and everything you dig up either didn't actually exist or has been discarded, disproved, laughed at entirely.

that's what I had reference to, don't do that again. that's just your little hate group atheism getting it's rocks off by mocking and ridiculing. That's not what we do here.

The KEY to knowing that somewhere in your suffering and starving minds that you have rational questions and reasonable, expectable doubts about your paradigm is the endless PERSONAL attacks you lay on people who are not cowering in fear of a myth.

Look who is talking little hate monger? why doesn't it occur you and your Kind, that we dno't lke being called names and told that we stupid, understand taht fool? we wont put up with your little illiterate 3% that doesn't know shit from shinla insulting the greatest minds in history. Christianity has the greatest minds, the best atheism has to offer pales in comparison to great thinkers with religious good. You guys have Mark Twain, Bertrand Russell, they were good, we have them in spades.

as a minion o fa hate group you get your rocks off by mocking and ridiculing the target group, it makes you feel special to think you are superior but you can't do that here. this is not one of your hate group sites. shut the fuck the up and don't do it again. try to really think about the arguments next time.




ZDENNY: I'm sure you didn't mean to make this error but it is lovely anyway in what it implies: "Jim simply digs a whole and rejects the science."

.... Did you mean 'digs a hole'?
Jim absolutely does NOT reject the science. That's the whole point! You people reject science, reason, rationality and plain old human common sense. Yes, Jim does 'dig a whole,' in that he digs in a WHOLE argument, based on real things.

that is stupidity and nonsense. your little hate group tells you that Christianity rejects scinece and you believe it as part of the brain washing but it's garbage bs. I know more about scinece than you do. My doctoral work was in history of science.

don't do that again. that is your last warning.


If you want one simple way to PROVE your myth is based on a sun god myth, get yourself into any cathedral and notice
1. It points east
2. the most opulent decorations begin in the east of the building and peter out at the west....


so you think you are proving that Jesus was the sun God becuase certain kinds of chruches point east? It never occurred that the Greek for Son is totally differnt then the Greek "sun?"

come on anyone can see through that! how lame can you get. the facing east thing is cretinous.


The sun rises in the east and sets in the west....

very good, what colors mean stop and go? Communist are saying stop and Irishmen are saying "go" right?