Thursday, August 11, 2016

My Book, The Trace o God by Joseph Hinman, on Amazon

 photo frontcover-v3a_zps9ebf811c.jpg

Arguments for God from religious experience have always been considered a secondary level of argument. It's always been assumed that their subjective nature makes them weak arguments. The atheist scared to death of subjectivity. This work, compiling empirical scientific studies that show that religious experience is not the result of emotional instability but are actually good for psychologically, constitutes a ground breaking work that places religious experiences on a higher level.

The Trace of God is an exposition (445 pages) employing both philosophical investigation and social science research. The book analyzes and discusses a huge body of empirical research that has up to this point been primarily known only in circles of psychology of religion, and has been over looked by theology, apologetics, Philosophy of religion and more general discipline of psychology. This body of work needs to be known in each of these interested groups because it demonstrates through hundreds of studies over a 50 year period, the positive and vital nature of the kind of religious experience known as “mystical.” Even though most of the studies deal with “mystical” experience, linking studies also apply it to the “born again experience” as well as “the material end of Christian experience.”
            The book opens with a discussion as to why arguments for the existence of God need not “prove” God exists, but merely offer a “warrant for belief.” It discusses why there can’t be direct empirical evidence for God and why that is not necessary. It also lays out criteria for rational warrant. In Chapter two it presents two arguments that are based upon religious experience and then shows how the various studies back them up. This is not an attempt to present directly empirical evidence for God but to show that religious experiences of a certain kind can be taken as “the co-determinate” or God correlate. It’s not a direct empirical view of God that is presented but the “God correlate” that indicates God,  just as a fingerprint or tacks in the snow indicate the presence of some person or animal. Religious experiences of this kind are the “trace of God.”
            These studies demonstrate that the result of such experiences is life transforming. This term is understood and used to indicate long term positive and dramatic changes in the life of the one who experiences them. People are released form bondage to alcohol and drugs, they tend to have less propensity toward depression or mental illness, they are self actualized, self assured, have greater sense of meaning and purpose, generally tend to be better educated and more successful than those who don’t have such experiences. These studies prove that religious experience is not the result of mental illness or emotional instability. The methodology of the studies (which includes every major kind of study methodology in the social sciences) is discussed at length.
            One of the major aspects of the book is the discussion of the “Mysticism scale” (aka “M scale”) developed by Dr. Ralph Hood Jr. at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The importance of this “M scale” (that is a test made up of 32 questions) is that it serves as a control on the valid religious experience. One can know through the score on the test if one’s experience is truly “Mystical” or just “wool gathering.” Without a control we can’t know if one has had a true experience and thus we can’t measure their effects. Being able to establish that one has had true “mystical experience” one can determine that the effects of that experience are positive and long term. Thus that sets up the rationally warranted arguments for God.
            It is also vital to know if the experience is valid because those who seek to discredit religious belief and claim to have produced such experiences by stimulating the brain don’t use controls to determine if the experience is valid or not. They must make assumptions that anything to do with God talk is a religious experience then claim to have produced it by stimulating the brain. The M scale works by comparing theories of British philosopher W.T. Stace with current modern mystics (research began in the 1970s on American campuses and went international in the 80s). It is statistically extremely remote that they would be able to accidentally hit upon the right combination of questions to reflect validation of Stace’s theory. They have to agree with Stace’s theory on all 32 points. It’s even harder to imagine they might lie. In the international studies Iranian, Indian, and Japanese peasants were questioned. Most of them did not read English it’s absurd to think they could tell what Stace’s theory was much less what they had to lie about. Most of them would know nothing about W.T. Stace or his theories. The Studies showed that modern mystics in Iran, India, Japan, Sweden, the UK all experience exactly what Stace said they would experience. Thus that creates the ground for comparison. It gives us a control for the experience.
            The book also discusses the theories of Wayne Proudfoot a philosopher who tried to disprove mystical experience by reductionism, re-labeling and losing the phenomena. Studies of brain chemistry are analyzed as well as the Placebo effect. The question all comes down to a tie between naturalistic brain chemicals vs. the idea that the naturalistic neurological route is just the way God created for us to communicate with him, and that stimulation of those chemicals is just opening the receptors that also receive God’s presence. The problem is resolved by eight tie breakers that are presented at the end of the next to the last chapter. The last chapter deals with philosophical and theological problems surrounding language and faith.
            The book provides a ground breaking chunk of fiber fortifying the arguments for God from religious experience that has been lacking since the days of FatherFrederick C. Copleston and his debate with Bertrand Russell. Copleston didn’t have these studies to back his argument. This body of work has been growing for 50 years and it’s time it was known to the theological world. These studies, especially the M scale, establish that religious experiences are the same the world over. There may be other kinds but of those kind know as “mystical” when we control for the names being different, and doctrines of various faiths use dot explain the situation, we look at the experience itself they are all the same. That implies that all of these people around the world in different faiths are experiencing a reality external to their own minds. It also implies that God is working in all faiths. The Author, Joseph Hinman, is a Christian and he does believe in the exclusivity of Jesus Christ but he also recognizes God’s prevenient grace to all people.

 "A great contribution to discussions of the rationality of belief in God"

William S. Babcock, Professor Emeritus of Church History, Southern Methodist University

Ralph Hood says:

"A fine exploration of the meaningfulness of arguments from human experience to the reality of God."
(Ralph Hood Jr. inventor of the M scale and professor of psychology of religion University of Tennessee Chattanooga.)

Wordgazer, a prominent blogger on Women's issues says:

"Why should  I mistrust my own experiences of God's presence?" Joe Hinman taught me to ask. After all, we don't mistrust other things we experience.  We don't doubt that the chair we're sitting in will hold us, unless we have some good reason to think something has gone wrong with our senses.  We don't have to accept the self-proclaimed expert in science as an expert in metaphysics.  Nor need we accept the standard of "absolute proof" in terms of scientific categories that may be inadequate for the phenomenon in the first place.  We can have good, reasonable reasons -- what Hinman calls a "rational warrant" to believe.  His newer website, The Religious A Priori, explores belief and rational warrant from a number of different angles.

And now Joe Hinman has encapsulated some of his best thinking into a new book: The Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief.

The Trace of God is a scholarly work, but written in a style that a layperson can follow.  Its main point is that experiences like the one I describe above (called "religious experiences" or "peak experiences"*) do constitute good evidence, even from a scientific point of view, of the existence of God.

This is a ground breaking work. These studies have never been put together in this context and analyzed and argued for in this way before. The God arguments form religious experience have always been considered weak but no more. This body of work puts them up on a higher level, it's put fiber into their diet.
See Word Gazer's Review of my book on her blog 

see message board interview, the whole thread is he interview of me about my book on Evangelical Universalism board.

Order the book from Aamzon

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Bowen-Hinman Debate: Hinman's 5th argument, historical methods

Bowen-Hinman Debate: Joe Hinman’s fifth argument for the existence of Jesus is presented in three section.

Bowen: Hinman’s first principle of historical investigation is this:
P1. The document, not the people, is the point.

I don’t know what (P1) means, and Hinman’s discussion of this idea does not make it any clearer.  Hinman’s discussion of (P1) makes a number of assertions that are interesting and worth thinking about, but I will comment on those more specific points in my next post on “Historical Methods”.  I won’t criticize what I don’t understand, so Hinman needs to clarify this principle before I will attempt to evaluate it.

Hinman: The Document not the people means, as I said,"Historians don't base their conclusions upon the documents we lack but upon those we possess" so we don't start from the premise Jesus, did he exist or not? Well if so why we have more documents. No we start from  these gospel things what is their historical validity? Too much attention is paid to speculations rather than facts about what we do have and can show. More of my words of wisdom: 
--The objection that we don't have anyone who knew Jesus personally writing about him (supposedly), is bunk. Start from what what the documents we do have tell us about him. Chitneis emphasizes internal and external aspects of the document. External is getting back to the original document itself: author, audience, why written. Internal aspects are inconsistency or consistency within the document. The practice of history is largely about evaluating documents. 

The second principle put forward by Hinman is a bit clearer:
P2. Supernatural content does not negate historic aspects.
A comment by Hinman provides further clarification of (P2):Historians do not discount sources merely for supernatural contents.  Even when they don’t believe the supernatural details, they don’t just deny everything the source says.
This is certainly a true point about how historians work, and I have no problem with the basic point.  However, there are some qualifications that I would add to this principle.First, the Gospels don’t just have a few “supernatural details”.  They are filled with supernatural beings and events, from start to finish.  Here are a few supernatural elements from the beginnings of two Gospels (Matthew and Luke):
  • [i deleted the liswt as I don't need to refer to it]

The Gospels do not just contain a few “supernatural details”.  They are filled with supernatural beings (angels and demons and spirits) and supernatural events (miraculous healings, resurrections, mind reading, and nature miracles like levitation, walking on water, and controlling the weather).

Hinman: He's just multiplying  examples. The issue is not how many miracles. He's not going to accept it if there are only two let's say,. he is still going to deny even one miracle. I do not them them ideologically. I don't deny them because science tells me to or because my philosophical outlook tells me to. .It's totally a matter of why are we talking about them? For example Jesus' Resurrection and his resurrections of other people were not proof that he was divine but they were signatures to show he was messiah because Messiah was in charge of life and death. Just working a miracle was not the issue, working that particular miracle had importance Mechanistically.

Second, the supernatural elements in the Gospels are often essential to the stories related in the Gospels.  If we strip out all of the supernatural beings and events from the birth narratives, for example, there is not much left over.  If 75% of the assertions in the birth narratives are fictional, then why believe the 25% that remains?
Hinman: For that reason they serve literary function and theological function so it's less important weather or not they actually happened. That is not to be confused with saying it doesn't matter if the story is is true or not.

It is possible that the very minimal historical claim “Jesus was born in Bethlehem” could be true, but given the general unreliability of the birth narratives (due in part to their being filled with supernatural beings and events), this also casts doubt on the tiny bit of historical “information” that remains after stripping out all of the clearly fictional B.S.  Given that Christians believed that the Old Testament predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and given that most of the other assertions in the birth narratives are historically dubious, we ought to be very skeptical about the claim “Jesus was born in Bethlehem” even though this claim does not, by itself, involve any supernatural elements.  It might represent prophecy that was used to formulate “history”.
 There is no logical reason why it should cast doubt. You are violating the principle and making the SN aspect the determining factor that's not what historians do,. They merely control for it element the whole work. If anything it makes birth in Bethlehem more likley because it might indicate they had a motive to to fix up what is an otherwise not too glamours origin in a one horse town,.

What remains of the story of Jesus at the wedding in Cana if we delete his miracle of turning water into wine? Not much: Jesus went to a wedding in Cana. What remains of the story of Jesus walking on water on the sea of Galilee if we remove the walking on water part?  Not much: Jesus went in a boat with some of his disciples on the sea of Galilee. What remains of the transfiguration story if we remove the part about how Jesus began to shine like a bright light and if we remove the appearance of Moses and Elijah?  Not much: Jesus prayed with some of his disciples on a mountain top.  In a few stories the supernatural beings or events might be a detail that can be ignored, but in many cases the supernatural being or event plays an important role in the story, so that removing the supernatural element guts the story or seriously changes the meaning of the story or makes the story illogical and incoherent.
Hinman: See you are missing huge chunks of the text that your not even willing to think about because you are only focused on miracles.Believe it or not there are more reasons to look at biblical text than just thinking about miracles. The important point might be that it;s a wedding that it's in Canna. That his mother was there. the point revolves around a miracle but that doesn't mean the point is the miracle.

As David Friedrich Strauss argued long ago in The Life of Jesus, the attempt of skeptics to strip out all of the supernatural elements of the Gospels while still maintaining the basic historicity of the Gospel accounts makes no sense.  It makes far more sense to admit that Gospels are filled with legends and myths and fictional stories, and that only a few bits and pieces here and there, at best, are factual and historical.
Hinman: You are citing those crack posts of the first generation Jesus mythers, do you really that's impressing me? He's one of those Schweitzer debunked as imposing 18th century enlightenment image over Jesus.

no it makes far ,more sense to stop reducing every thing to that one issue and start figure out what it's really about. Baultmann said he wanted to demythiolgize the Bible because miracles were the wrong stumbling block .They gave the skeptic the excuse of ignore it all by reducing it all that one issue.You are willing to let that one issue determine the whole text. But weather or not Jesus lived has nothing at all do with how the redactor up the passages, you seem to assume the NT is made of transcripts from a video recording. It's set up to say  something. Each passage is there for a reason not just to record a bunch of miracles.

Third, the assertion of this principle borders on a STRAW MAN fallacy.  There is the suggestion here that Jesus skeptics doubt the historicity of the Gospels ONLY because the Gospel stories contain supernatural elements.  Skeptics do NOT doubt the historicity of the Gospels ONLY because of there are a few supernatural details in them, nor do skeptics doubt the historicity of the Gospels ONLY because the Gospels are filled with supernatural beings and events.

Hinman: B0wen has no room to talk about strawman arguments,he makes them all the time.  Below he distorts my words to say something totally different than what I was saying and in such a way that it served his rhetorical interest, that is the essence of straw man argument,

Take the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke for example.  They include many supernatural elements, both supernatural beings (angels), and supernatural events (virgin birth, a star that guides people to a specific location).  These supernatural elements are one reason for doubting the historicity of these stories, but there are other reasons as well.  The Gospels of Matthew and Luke use Mark as a primary source of information about Jesus, but there is no birth story in Mark.  When Matthew and Luke follow the narrative framework in Mark, they generally agree with each other, but when they provide birth stories, their stories contradict each other, indicating that when they depart from the information in Mark, at least one of the two Gospels provides a fictional birth story, and perhaps both birth stories are fictional.
Hinman: One has Shepards one has angles,no contradiction so they could have both,

There are also some historically improbable details in both accounts beyond the supernatural elements.  The census in Luke is historically improbable for various reasons.  The slaughter of the innocents story in Matthew is historically improbable. 
Hinman: I don't want to get off on that it's far more definable than you think. I am not into inerrancy so I don't have to argue that are no mistakes, there can be mistakes,I don't care. That's not the issue. I'm sure you have loads of things to doubt, my point you reduce it all to matter of miracles  rather than the ideas of point the text is making. You are missing the point because you are worried abouit having things to criticize and disbelieve, I don't have time to open the topic up to everything.

 The relocation of the holy family to Egypt is historically improbable.  The fact that both Matthew and Luke place the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem in accordance with an alleged messianic prophecy, casts doubt on the historicity of that key shared claim between the two birth stories.
Hinman: what I just said! Ok I'll answer that one point, I believe the sojourn into Egypt because it's one of the few times I actually use the criterion of embarrassment. The Jews used the sojourn into Egypt as part of their polemic saying he learned black magic in Egypt. So either they had to have a basis for it that was true in fact (they went to Egypt) or the Christians had a reason why they could not deny that he went to Egypt. Either way it makes no sense that he had nothing to do with Egypt, the enemies use it as a polemic and yet they still put it in the Gospel. Most parsimonious answer, he did go there.

Hinman’s third principle of historical investigation is a bit vague:
P3. What people believed tells us things, even if we don’t believe it.

I’m not sure what Hinman is getting at here, but taken straightforwardly, this principle seems obviously correct.  Using an historical document to determine what early Christians believed about God or Jesus “tells us things”, even if the historian rejects some or all of those beliefs.  At the very least, this tells us what early Christians believed about God or Jesus!

 Hinman: I said that because i had just found a quote by Crosson where he said almost the same thing. I was almost quoting him directly. The point is the fact that the early church believed Jesus was a historical person is a good reason to think he was. They were in a position to know and there's no reason to think they made it up. We should expect the accounts to reflect the historical situation of the authors at least generally.

This information about the beliefs of early Christians can also help historians to better analyze and evaluate particular Gospel stories and passages.  If early Christians believed that Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life, then historians could anticipate and look for places where the Gospels of Matthew and Luke modify some story or passage from Mark in order to make Jesus appear to be sinless, and to the extent that historians do find such modifications of Mark by Matthew and Luke, this provides further evidence that early Christians believed Jesus was sinless and also provides evidence that Matthew and Luke alter information from their sources to make the story or quotation fit better with their theological beliefs or the theological beliefs of their early Christian readers.
Hinman: I'm sure Mark really painted Jesus as a sinner,

One of the things that the Gospels tell us is that early Christians were gullible and superstitious, at least if we assume that early Christian believers read the Gospels literally.  They believed in astrological signs, in angels, in demons, in demon possession, in the devil, in faith healing, in prophetic dreams, in levitation, in mind reading, in spirits of the dead, in raising the dead, in prophecy.  
Hinman: I am sure that the society in which they lived were full of such ideas The society in which we live is full of such ideas, the national enquirer is full of such ideas. They weren't writing a hand book on critical thinking you know.
They believed all of these things without demanding strong evidence for claims of such events; they believed such things on the basis of hearsay and testimonial evidence,  on the basis of contradictory reports in the canonical Gospels, and without conducting serious skeptical investigations into the facts.  This is an important fact about early Christians that we can learn from reading the Gospels.  We can learn of the gullibility of early Christian believers even if we reject some or all of the beliefs that they formed in gullible and uncritical ways.
[delete long parade of  things]

not taking bait today ;-)

P4. Everyone is biased.
Based on Hinman’s discussion of (P4) and (P5) it appears that this principle is given in part as a reply to an objection about an alleged bias of scholars on the issue of the historicity of Jesus.  Here are two plausible claims about NT scholars along such lines:

Hinman: That's just the kind of thing I like to point out

  • The vast majority of NT scholars have a significant bias in favor of the historicity of Jesus.
  • Most NT scholars have a strong bias in favor of the historicity of Jesus. 
that's because the have strong aversions to argument from silence and begging the question. besides Jesus existence has presumption, no myther has ever e e tried to over turn presumption they don't even know what the term means.

(1) not a single piece of physical evidence supports the myther BS, nothing, By their own logic that should cook their stance.

(2) not one  single figure in history for 1900 years ever questioned Jesus' existence. Some of those Jewish polemics said the most absurd things about him but no one ever questioned his existence.

(3) His enemies not only admitted he existed but actually made up stuff about his background

(4) we have writings of people who knew his friends,

(5) his movement always affirmed his existence from as far back as we can go.

all of that spells out presumption, We do not need to prove his existence, it is aqssumed as a historical fact, unquestioned, If you want to question it fine, but you must do the proving,we do not have to prove!

So, one question to keep in mind is whether (P4) provides a strong reply to such criticisms about NT scholars.
Hinman: Since everyone is biased the real issue becomes how up front are we in being honest about our biases.


The principle (P4) is a bit vague and ambiguous.  Here are a couple of different possible interpretations of (P4):P4a. Everyone has a bias on some issue or other.P4b. For any given theory, everyone is either biased in favor of the theory or biased against the theory.
Hinman: all we can really do is check our own biases.


Principle (P4a) is no doubt true, but it is insignificant and unhelpful in this context, because it leaves open the possibility that some people have a bias when it comes to the issue of the historicity of Jesus and other people do NOT have a bias on this issue.  Because (P4a) leaves this possibility open, it does not help us any in dealing with this particular issue; it fails to provide a strong reply to the above criticisms about NT scholars.
Principle (P4b) on the other hand, would certainly be of some significance to the issue of the historicity of Jesus, but, alas, (P4b) is a very broad generalization that is clearly false.  So, principle (P4b) is of no use, and fails to provide a strong reply to the above criticisms of NT scholars, because (P4b) is false.We could try to rescue (P4b) by narrowing the scope to focus exclusively on the issue of the historicity of Jesus:

Hinman: everyone is willing to be honest about the other guy's biases that's not the Challenger,

I think at this point we are not saying anything helpful about the issue.


P4c. Everyone is either biased in favor of the historicity of Jesus or is biased against the historicity of Jesus.
Hinman written like a true ideologue, the world revovles aroumd myi ideology you are either for it or against it,. no complexity, no neutrality,

But (P4c) is still somewhat dubious.  The issue of the historicity of Jesus is more controversial than many other issues, but controversiality is based on the feelings and attitudes of people in general, and there are almost always exceptions to such general psychological phenomena.  In other words, although most people have strong feelings about this issue, it seems fairly certain that there are at least a few people who don’t have strong feelings or opinions about the historicity of Jesus.  So, in order to rescue the (P4c) in terms of truth, we would need to either qualify the degree of bias that is being asserted or revise the quantification in terms of the proportion of people in scope:

Hinman I'm not biased I just happen to be right ;-)  Seriously I do have a strong biased against the Jesus myther idea but somehow that hasn't helped them dig up any more evidence.

P4d.  Everyone is either biased at least a tiny bit in favor of the historicity of Jesus or biased at least a tiny bit against the historicity of Jesus.
P4e.  Most people are either significantly biased in favor of the historicity of Jesus or significantly biased against the historicity of Jesus.
These generalizations are at least plausible.  However, (P4d) leaves open the possibility that some people (e.g. NT scholars) have a strong bias in favor of the historicity of Jesus, while other people (e.g. Jesus skeptics) have only a tiny bit of bias against the historicity of Jesus.  This would clearly not help Hinman’s case for the existence of Jesus, and fails to provide a strong reply to the above criticsims about NT scholars.

Also, (P4e) leaves open the possibility that some people (e.g. NT scholars) have a strong bias in favor of the historicity of Jesus, while a few people (e.g. Jesus skeptics) have no significant bias on this issue.  Again, this would not be of help for Hinman’s case, and fails to provide a strong reply to the criticisms of NT scholars.
I have considered a number of different possible interpretations of principle (P4).  The principle is false or dubious on some of those interpretations, and on the interpretations where the principle is true or plausible, it is either insignificant and unhelpful or appears to be of no help to Hinman’s case, and fails to provide a strong reply to the above criticisms of NT scholars.

Hinman Historians agree with the scholars on historicity of Jesus, my department chair and the chair of my dissertation and the  guy I worked for as a TA were all atheists and historians who did not study the bible they called Daugherty an idiot and never heard of carrier and support the historicity of Jesus not even willing to talk about it.  As far as they are concerned you are against  historical fact. The mythers are to historians what creationists are to scientists.that's their statement.

If Hinman wants to continue to advocate this principle, he needs to clarify it in terms of the quantification of the portion of people who are being characterized and he needs to clarify it in terms of the scope of issues to which it applies, and he needs to clarify it in terms of the degree of bias that is being alleged (because there is a big difference between a strong bias and a very tiny bit of bias).  Principle (P4) cannot be rationally evaluated unless and until it is re-stated in a much clearer and more specific form.
As with (P4), the final principle is in need of clarification:

I don't think so but I did clarify it. It's Bowen who wrote 10 different versions of my words and never even bothered  to ask whist my words meant,

P5. The historicity of a single persona cannot be examined apart from the framework.
What matters in this context is whether this principle applies to (or is correct in terms of) the issue of the historicity of Jesus, so we can focus on this instantiation of (P5): ”IP5. The historicity of Jesus of Nazareth cannot be examined apart from the framework.
The term “the framework” is unclear and vague.  However, based on Hinman’s discussion of this principle, this phrase appears to refer to the view or theory that Jesus existed, that Jesus was a flesh-and-blood historical person.  Given this understanding of “the framework”, the principle is still ambiguous.  Here are two different possible interpretations:
 Hinman: Wrong assumption. I said we need to pay more attention to the frame work than to historicity so he assumes the frame work is historicity? Obviously I'm talking about the framework in which we understand the text: who wrote it? when?why? to whom?

I am saying getting this stuff nailed down is prior to the historicity question and will help solve it, I see no reason to begin with the assumption  that history is wrong, Jesus is a fact of history, there's no point in denying it unless you are just trying to kill Christianity. Of course the myther is working at huge disadvantage because she is trying to argue against historical fact and with no evidence. We don't need to go to any great lengths to argue for it because it's assumed by history. We should concentrate on others like the reasons for writing the Gospel.

I just delight in laying this little adage on atheists since they like to lay it on us: extraordinary know...

IP5a. The historicity of Jesus of Nazareth cannot be examined apart from assuming that Jesus of Nazareth was a flesh-and-blood historical person.
 Hinman: a straw man argument, I did not make this argument, he did by re writing my words.  he set it up. 

I would assume Jesus' was a flesh and blood man because that;s the presumption of the historical view, that's not what I am calling the  framework. That's the assumption I', entitled to make., you must prove he wasn't. The framework is the assumptions we make about the text. It might support the assumption of Jesus' historicity but that's not the point of it. It consists of issues that used to be called'higher criticism: who wrote the boo? When Where To whom and why?

IP5b. The historicity of Jesus of Nazareth cannot be examined apart from examining the issue of  whether Jesus of Nazareth was a flesh-and-blood historical person.

Hinman I did not say that at all. These are his words not moimne, Now I feel that since Jesus historicity is taken as fact by history I ma well within  my rights to assume it,l When I say we need need to pay more attention ot other matters that;s just what I mean. Only if the myth somehow finds some real evidence do we need to discuss it., Speculation, Bayes based probabilities, and argument from silence are not evidence.

Principle (IP5a) clearly involves circular reasoning.  If one simply assumes that Jesus was a flesh-and-blood historical person, then one begs the question of the historicity of Jesus. 
Hinman: total bull shit, First, that's the assumption all historians make., There is no reason to assume he's not, No basis for it,. the presumption is with historicity not against. The text asserts it the early church claimed to know it first hand and all historic commentators no one ever undoubted t for 1900 years.

He is asserting that there is some mark that stands against historicity and it has to get out from under the cloud of doubt before we can assert it or we beg the question,there is no question there is no mark,  made up and it flies in the fade of the vast preponderance of evidence and vast majority of historians.


 So, we must reject (IP5a) because it is an unreasonable and illogical principle.Principle (IP5b), on the other hand, is completely and undeniably true.  But it is true because it is a trivial and uninformative tautology.  The question of the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth just is the question of whether Jesus of Nazareth was a flesh-and-blood historical person.  So, this principle is of no significant help or use (other than to clarify the question at issue for those who are ignorant or confused).
Hinman: suits me because that's not my principle,. that's your tweaked version, sorry you don't get the importance of the issue, I'm saying we doesn't even need to consider the historicity of Jesus it's a given, it's a waste o time to argue about it., my principle says matters not the historicity but an understanding of the framework in which historicity is derived, are what we should focus upon. If there is some hidden evidence lurking it;s only goimng to be found by understand more  about the text.

There is one other interpretation, which seems both plausible and significant:IP5c. The historicity of Jesus of Nazareth cannot be examined apart from treating this question as a question about which framework or theory among available alternatives best accounts for all of the available evidence (e.g. the theory that Jesus was a flesh-and-blood historical person vs. the theory that Jesus was just a myth).

Hinman that should have been the only one he brought up.

Because this interpretation is both plausible and significant, 
Hinman glad I thought of it! ;-)

the Principle of Charity indicates that this is the best interpretation, at least of the possible interpretations considered so far.

I have no objection to (IP5c).  However, it is obvious to any intelligent and informed Jesus skeptic that (IP5c) is true, and intelligent and informed Jesus skeptics usually think and argue in keeping with (IP5c).  G.A. Wells, Earl Doherty,  Robert Price, and Richard Carrier all accept this principle and they all think and argue in keeping with this principle, at least most of the time.  So, emphasis on this principle appears to me to be bordering on a STRAW MAN fallacy.
Hinman t

All of their evidence amounts to making positive statements about a posity of evidence,


Jesus skeptics do NOT argue that because this or that Gospel story is historically problematic, therefore Jesus is just a myth. 
Hinman all the time
 The case against the historicity of Jesus is much broader than that and deals with a wide range of evidence both from the NT and from external (non-biblical) historical sources. Emphasis of this principle is a way of suggesting that Jesus skeptics and Jesus mythicists are idiots who don’t think and argue in keeping with this principle, but that suggestion is false and slanderous.  There are some stupid and unreasonable Jesus skeptics, but the major published Jesus skeptics accept (IP5c) and generally conform their thinking to this principle.
- See more at:

Hinman  No it's not. It's nothing but argument from silence and incredulity is no one piece of evidence in a posative vain that supports the thesis. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bowen-Hinman Debate: Josephus (last)

This brings us up to date with the debate, there may be one more but I've told Bowen It's ok if we stop,. I feel I've won all for exchanges,

In this debate you will see my opponent has some good arguments but they are of a speculative nature. He has no textual evidence in his favor. My side is backed by some textual evidence. My textual evidence:

* There no copies of texts of Josephus not containing the TF. 

*The brother passage (BP) uses a Greek phrase that means "so-called" or "alleged" in connection with Jesus as messiah: it refers to him as "the so-called messiah."

*No one would go to the trouble to fabricate a passage or to alter or doctor it and then fail to make it strong enough to suit his purpose. No Christian would call Jesus the "so called" messiah.

*Bowen will argue that the TF does not say "so called" and the same person tweaking the TF would surely Tweak the BP.  But they do actually agree. There are two other versions, Jerome's and Syriac, where the TF says "so called Christ." (Alice Wealey)

*The best solution is that the original version said "so called" because Josephus was skeptical of Jesus' claim. No Christian would say that, so a Christian scribe tweaked the TF by taking that word out and adding some other things. He did not do the BP because it was obscure and he did not have a reference book. 

The BP mementos Jesus as messiah (although sarcastically) in passing, indicating the reader is already familiar with him; that's because Josephus had already mentioned him in the TF.

The only thing Bradly has for evidence is the facts of dating, allowing the possibility of his speculations.

Perhaps Hinman believes that (JW) is obviously true and thus it is not in need of  supporting evidence or reasoning. Since (JW) is not obviously false and not obviously problematic,  I’m comfortable with attributing this argument to Hinman even though he did not clearly and explicitly state this argument in his post on Josephus.  I believe that this is a reasonable “educated guess” at the argument Hinman had in mind concerning the external evidence of Josephus.

Hinman: I think I was pretty clear that my argument is that there is a historical core passage in the TF and that the BP is un tweaked. Jo spoke of Jesus as a man in history because he knew him to be such. He learned that from common knowledge including NT, Christian witness of other kinds, early Gnostic and Jewish polemics.

It is also the case that Hinman provides very little evidence in support of his primary factual premise (1).  The link to more in-depth discussion of the Josephus evidence points to an article that makes no attempt to support premise (1):
Hinman: Doesn't take much. The passage proves he existed if it's authentic but most historians think it is: there's no evidence against it.

* Now at this point he's going to make an argument based upon the fallacy  of guilt by association. 

QUESTION 3:  Is the “brother passage” in Antiquities Authentic?A. Christian Copyists Altered their Own Sacred Scriptures. We know that Christian copyists made many alterations to the Greek text of the New Testament documents, both intentionally and unintentionally, even though those documents were considered to be sacred scripture by many Christians.  Bart Ehrman provides several examples of alterations by Christian copyists to NT texts in his book Misquoting Jesus, and he makes the following relevant comment in the concluding chapter:…whatever else we may say about the Christian scribes–whether of the early centuries or of the Middle Ages–we have to admit that in addition to copying scripture, they were changing scripture.  Sometimes they didn’t mean to–they were simply tired, or inatentive, or, on occasion, inept. At other times, though, they did mean to make changes, as when they wanted the text to emphasize precisely what they themselves believed, for example about the nature of Christ, or about the role of women in the church, or about the wicked character of their Jewish opponents. This conviction that scribes had changed scripture became an increasing certitude for me as I studied the text more and more. (Misquoting Jesus, p.210) For examples supporting this view, see Chapter 2 (“The Copyists of Early Christian Writings”) and Chapter 6 (“Theologically Motivated Alterations of the Text”) of Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman.

There is a great deal wrong here. First, though I do respect Ehrman he is not without biases. Using the term "scribe" is misleading. They did not have Christian scribes in the sense of temple scribes in Judaism. Their redaction of NT material was not carried out in a time when the material was considered scared. They had no idea they were editing sacred text. That came later with the canonization process. Redaction came in the formation process when the stuff was being written.

Secondly, Ehrman never argues this is a reason to assume that the brother passage is redacted. To make that assumption just imposes an assumption not in evidence.

Bowen: Surely, if Christian editors and copyists altered the texts of their own sacred scriptures, they would be likely to alter the texts of a Jewish historian as well.

Hinman: (1) they weren't sacred scripture at the time they altered it.
(2) they didn't "alter" it. They redacted it., huge difference. Redaction is editing. Altering is seeing a finished product and fabricating it by change. They weren't doing that, they were editing. They didn't say "let's change this to prove lies." They were re-organizing and incorporating new materiel. That's not the same as saying I'll just slip this in here that James was the brother of Jesus.

B. Christians Clearly Altered (or Created) the Only Other Passage about Jesus in Antiquities 

Hinman: the TF is not our only statement about Jesus in antiquity,

Robert Van Voorst describes the views of modern scholars about the TF passage: While a few scholars still reject it fully and even fewer accept it fully, most now prefer two middle positions.  The first middle position reconstructs an authentic Josephan passage neutral towards Jesus, and the second reconstructs an authentic passage negative toward Jesus.  (JONT, p.93) The viewpoints in order of descending acceptance by modern scholars:
  1. Middle Positions (most scholars believe that Christians made a few alterations to the TF passage).
  1. Full Rejection (a few scholars believe that Christians created the whole passage, or that it is simply not possible to determine what parts of the passage were originally written by Josephus).
  1. Full Acceptance (a very few scholars believe the entire passage is authentic, that all of the passage was written by Josephus).
All but a very few scholars have concluded that the TF passage was either partially or completely the creation of Christians.  There are only two passages that refer to Jesus in Antiquities, the other passage being the “brother passage”.  So, it is reasonable to conclude that Christians altered (or created) the TF passage, the only other passage about Jesus besides the “brother passage”.  This background information suggests that it is likely that Christian copyists also altered the “brother passage”.
Hinman: That is a totally screwed way to look at it. It's glass half empty but it's also very misleading. He emphasizes that two of three groups support that the text was altered to make it sound like the majority opposes historicity of Jesus. Actually it's the opposite. We can divide scholars into three groups, two of the three think Jesus existed as a man in history and Joe wrote about him. Most of those who think the TF is totally fabricated might think Jesus existed. The majority think Jo wrote about him. 

*Before going down this road let's observe that it has no bearing on the brother passage:no matter how much tweaking was put on the TF that does not prove the brother passage wastweaked.

The statement that there's two mentions of Jesus in antiquity, that is utter tripe and we all know it. Celsus refers to Jesus and argues from him being flesh and blood; but by default, I agreed not to discuss the Roman passages they are not strong but to say they don't exist is a lie. Not saying they are good evidence but they exist and they do refer to Jesus:

* 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.)

(2) The vast majority of scholars still believe in the historicity of Jesus, they accept a core passage of TF that does include Jesus' existence.

here is Tabor's core passage with emendations in capital highlights

There are two passage in which first century Jewish historian Jospehus speaks of Jesus of Nazerath. The first passage is known as the Testimonium Flavianum (hense forth "TF").The second passage gives Jesus just a passing mention and it really about the high presit Annas, and his stoning of Jesus' brother James ('I'll call it the "James passage").

(for my take on "James" passage go here

The TF:
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man IF IT BE LAWFUL TO CALL HIM A MAN, for he was a doer of wonders, A TEACHER OF SUCH MEN AS RECEIVE THE TRUTH WITH PLEASURE. He drew many after him BOTH OF THE JEWS AND THE GENTILES. HE WAS THE CHRIST. When Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, FOR HE APPEARED TO THEM ALIVE AGAIN THE THIRD DAY, AS THE DIVINE PROPHETS HAD FORETOLD THESE AND THEN THOUSAND OTHER WONDERFUL THINGS ABOUT HIM, and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day" (Antiquities 18:63-64).
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
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.
Now he's going wild on the TF even I said that would not be any focus, That's because he has nothing on the brother passage, it's point blank proof Jesus existed and NO serious scholar thinks otherwise,


C.  The Oldest Greek Manuscripts of Antiquities are from Long After Christians Altered the Text

According to John Meier, “we have only three Greek manuscripts of Book 18 [which contains the Testimonium Flavianum passage] of The Antiquities, the earliest of which dates from the 11th century.”  (A Marginal Jew, Vol. 1, p.62).  But Eusebius quoted from the altered version of the TF early in the fourth century, so the Christian alterations were made in the second or third centuries:
Hinman: Meier agrees with a core historical passage proving Jesus' historoicioty

The first witness to this passage as it stands now is from Eusebius in about 323 (Ecclesiastical History 1.11). (JONT, p.92)
This means that textual criticism is of no help in determining the authenticity of the TF:Because the few manuscipts of Josephus come from the eleventh century,  long after Christian interpolations  would have been made, textual criticism cannot help to solve this issue. ..We are left to examine the context, style, and content of this passage to judge its authenticity. (JONT, p.88-89).
It's quoted in other places that are not a MS of Josephus such as Jerome's quotation and other early church luminaries. Jerome's quote takes it back to  400's.As I pointed out it's a mistake to think latter texts don't have earlier readings. Jerome's version is probably the original version because it says "so called Christ" in both TF and BP. It is also corroborated by the Syriac version. (Alice Wealy quoted in Roger Pearce PDF:

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.

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.
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).

Back to Brother
Examiniation of context, style, and content of the “brother passage”, however, cannot provide sufficient reason to be fully confident that no alterations were made to this passage by Christian copyists.  So, if small changes by copyists could make a big difference to the significance of this passage as evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, then premise (1) of Hinman’s argument would be cast into serious doubt.

Hinman: That is nonsense. No major scholar agrees with that, wrong on call counts:


The passage reads like it's referring to a passage already made which could be the historical core passage. He talks like he's already mentioned Jesus before.


D.  Small Changes to the “brother passage” by Christian Copyists Would Make a Big Difference
If the entire “brother passage” was invented by a Christian copyist, then obviously the passage would be a complete fake and provide no evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth whatsoever.However, if the passage was NOT completely fake, but has been modified slightly by the addition of a phrase or two, then the evidence provided by the passage could be seriously diminished or even eliminated.
Hinman: (1) Obviously it depends upon what is being Tweaked. He has no proof that anythying is, it's total speculation. His only criteria is wouldn't this be damaging ot the Jesus myth cause so it must be made up"?

(2) No major scholar credits this view with any seriousness because there is no evidence, the reason he phrases it as conditional is because he has no evidence,

  • If the phrase “the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ” was added by a Christian copyist, then the passage provides no significant evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, even if the rest of the passage was authentic.
Hinman: Not likely that a Christian had this great sounding stuff lauding Jesus in the TF then turn around and sasy "the so called. Christ." No one would change it to support their guy then degrade him in that way,"

  • If the original passage mentioned “the brother of the so-called Christ” and a Christian copyist added the name “Jesus” to that phrase, then the passage would provide only weak evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, because “James” was a very common Jewish name, and because there have been many Jews who claimed to be the Messiah or who were believed by others to be the Messiah.
Hinman: You would have to produce another candidate in that era to be messiah, brother of what messiah?

  • If the original passage included the phrase “the brother of Jesus” but said nothing about Jesus being “the so-called Christ”,  then this passage would provide only weak evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, because “James” and “Jesus” were both common Jewish names at that time.
Hinman: which is total speculation Even if this were true it woudl not be too weak because there would be no other Jesus for it to be. He would have to be famous opr not worth pointing it out. Jesus who? He mentions brother  because the brother is known and thus noteworthy.

  • If the original passage included the phrase “the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ” but a Christian copyist added the phrase “whose name was James” to this passage, then the passage would provide only weak evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, because “Jesus” was a common Jewish name, and because there have been many Jews who claimed to be the Messiah or who were believed by others to be the Messiah.
Hinman: there would be no point in adding it at this point unless they had a connection between this James and Jesus. Why pick this guy out to connect? Jesus was a common name but it would b e pointless to mention a common guy at this point, The only reason to bring his brother into it is if he would be known to the reader.

The “brother passage” provides significant evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth only if the phrase “the brother of Jesus” AND the phrase  “the so-called Christ” AND the phrase “whose name was James” are all authentic, only if ALL THREE of these phrases were in the original text of Antiquities written by Josephus.

Hinman: as long as it says Jesus in the original it's evidence, UNLESS you show an alternative Jesus but he had to be famous.

E. The Difficulty of Determining the Authenticity & Significance of the “brother passage” given the Above Facts

Hinman:  you have no facts, it's sheer speculation motivated by ideology

Given that Christian copyists altered the texts of their own sacred scriptures, and given that Christian copyists have clearly altered (or possibly created) the TF passage in Antiquities, it is probable that Christian copyists also altered (or possibly created) the only other passage in Antiquities that refers to Jesus: the “brother passage”.

Hinman: He continues with that  implication they so dishonest they would even change their sacred writings, Therefore they just running around changing everything, that is so ridiculously unfair and dishonest (1) not changing it they are editing (2) they weren't sacred when they did it, they were just accounts, they didn't change the content, (3) that still doesn't prove they got hold of the brother passage. if they did they would not say ":so called Messiah,"


Furthermore, the most crucial evidence for determining whether any alterations were made to the “brother passage” is unavailable: the only Greek manuscript copies that we have were made many centuries after the TF passage was altered by Christian copyists (and presumably many centuries after the “brother passage” was altered, if it had been altered).  Finally, since the evidence provided by the “brother passage” would be seriously diminished if just one of the three key phrases had been added by a Christian copyist, this passage can be viewed as providing significant evidence of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth ONLY IF we can be very confident that NONE of the three key phrases was added by a Christian coyist.

Hinman: Does this guy sell aluminum siding? This is the kind of tactic in college debate we would've  called "greasy." He asserts the Christian copyists changed as though it's an established fact but he knows damn well it isn't, He acknowledged it above he has no evidence at all. He's merely asserting it and the incidence is against it because if they did changed it they would have done a better job.

Given that the general background evidence indicates that it is probable that a Christian copyist altered the “brother passage”, 

Hinman: what? I can't believe I'm reading this. This guy has presented no evidence of any now he baldfaced refer to evidence! does he mean his fallacious assertion of guilt by association: Some Christian fabbed the TF therefore they must have Fabbed the BP too, is that what he;s calling "evidence?" That's nothing more than fallacy and don't forget my counter assertion that the reading doesn't warrant the assumption because had they tweaked it they would have made it more favorable to Jesus. Ah yes speaks of probable. but the probability is against for the reason I just said.


and given that the crucially important evidence needed to determine whether this passage is completely authentic is unavailable (no early Greek manuscript copies of The Antiquities are available), 

Hinman: what's he talking about? making more fictional evidence? He has presented no evidences  of any kind that woudl prove this, He speculated about it, That's not proof.

and given that the addition of a single word (“Jesus”) or one phrase (“the brother of Jesus” or “the so-called Christ” or “whose name is James”) by a Christian copyist would seriously diminish the strength of the evidence that this passage provides for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth,  I see no rational way to be very confident that the “brother passage” provides significant evidence for the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.  Considerations about context, style, and content of the “brother passage” will simply not be able to provide a rational basis for being very confident that NONE of the three key phrases was added by a Christian copyist.
Hinman: I'm sorry my friend that is one of the least rational arguments I've ever heard. He is saying that because one word would change it seriously then that increasing the probability that it was changed, that is not rational. It could also be said of any quotation. Add not or take it away  from anything would damage the meaning,m therefore, everything is fabricated. One word is not so much easier to add than 10.

F. IF the TF Passage Is Completely Inauthentic, THEN the “brother passage” is Probably NOT Completely Authentic
The majority view among modern scholars who study Josephus is that the TF passage is partially authentic, but not completely authentic.  The majority view is that Christian copyists made a few significant additions or changes to that passage.  Given this view, I have argued that it is probable that the “brother passage” was also altered by Christian copyists.  So, that is one way in which a judgment about the authenticity of the TF passage impacts our judgement about the authenticity of the “brother passage”.
Hinman: that argument depends entirely upon the TF being entirely fabricated. The odds of that are extremely low. As the Wealy quote told us the 19th century scholarship saw it as such out of an ideological party line but modern scholarship is vastly against it The majority  accept the historical core then a small contingent think there's no fabrication so the group that accepts it as entirely fabricated is extremely small.

But there are other possibilities concerning the TF passage.  Some scholars argue that the TF passage is completely inauthentic, that all or nearly all of the passage was created by Christian editors or copyists.  If these scholars are correct, then that would make it very probable that the “brother passage” was not completely authentic. 
Hinman: That can be eliminated because it's an extreme minority view flies in the face of the evidence. There are pre Eusbian versions and no MS exist without the TF.

 As Hinman points out,  the authenticity of the “brother passage” is evidence for the authenticity of the TF passage:
Josephus refers to James by referencing Jesus as though he’s mentioned Jesus or the reader should know who he is.  Jewish scholar Paul Winters states: “if…Josephus referred to James as being ‘the brother of Jesus who is called Christ,’ without much ado, we have to assume that in an earlier passage he had already told his readers about Jesus himself.”
In other words, if Josephus refers to “Jesus” in the “brother passage” without providing an explanation of who this “Jesus” person was, then this implies (or makes it very probable) that Josephus had referred to “Jesus” in the earlier TF passage.  But in that case, if the TF passage was completely inauthentic, as some scholar argue, then this would be significant evidence that the “brother passage” was NOT completely authentic. 
Hinman: Good God one of the most convoluted pieces of reasoning I've ever seen. he is saying BP indicates by the way it reads that Jo refereed to Jesus before.From that he concludes that if the TF is inauthentic the BP is also, but we've already ruled that out as extremely unlikely.Since the historical core is much more likely it makes since to say that is the mention of Jesus so it's authentic

[cut repetition of the same idea] 

A similar issue arises even if we assume that the TF passage was partially authentic.  One of the two “Middle Positions” taken by modern scholars who study Josephus is that the original TF passage was neutral and Christian copyists simply inserted a few phrases.
Hinman:  He's talking about the historical core passage

 The leading Jesus scholar John Meier argues for a neutral re-construction of the TF passage, in which the sentence “He was the Christ.” is removed (along with some other phrases and sentences) on the assumption that this sentence was added by a Christian copyist.
Hinman: No big deal the Tabor versiomn took it out too but still includes reference to Jesus.

But if this neutral reconstruction of the TF passage is correct, then the part of the “brother passage” that refers to Jesus as “the so-called Christ” is suspect, because the previous mention of Jesus in the TF did not use the term “Christ” to describe or identify the “Jesus” in that passage.  Since “Jesus” was a common Jewish name in that time, the absence of the term “Christ” in the TF passage would make it unclear that the “Jesus” in the “brother passage” was the same person as the “Jesus” in the TF passage.  Thus, it seems unlikely that Josephus would write about “Jesus the so-called Christ” and expect his non-Christian Gentile readers to know that he was referring back to the same “Jesus” that he had mentioned in the TF passage.

Hinman: That is answered by the second Whealy quote already given above

Alice Whealy, Berkely Cal.

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."

There is a good chance that the neutral view of the TF passage is correct.  But if that view is correct, then the TF passage did not refer to Jesus as “the Christ” nor as “the so-called Christ”.   But in that case, it seems likely that the phrase “Jesus the so-called Christ” in the “brother passage” was not written by Josephus, but was added later by a Christian copyist AFTER the TF passage was altered to refer to Jesus as “the Christ” (or after it was altered to refer to Jesus as “the so-called Christ”).
Hinman: He has not evidence to establish that he is asserting it, but what I just quoted disproves it.

Given that the vast majority of modern scholars who study Josephus have concluded either that the TF passage is partially inauthentic or that it is completely inauthentic,  that  either some parts of the TF passage were created by a Christian copyist or that the entire  passage was created by a Christian copyist, there is a good chance that the name “Jesus” was inserted into the TF passage by a Christian copyist.  
Hinman He's fudeging the data, they have really concluded that the Jerome passage is the original and it says "so called." Look at it logically why would anyone  insert commendations
into a text to gain support for their candidates for Messiah and the say "so called." Accept Jesus as your co called savior. no one says that. 

[delete more useless repetition]

QUESTION 4:  Is the Information in the “brother passage” INDEPENDENT of the NT writings?
A.  Authenticity is NOT Enough

One important question is about the source of the information that Jospehus presents in the “brother passage”.  If this information came either directly or indirectly from the Gospels or from other New Testament writings (e.g. the letters of Paul), then the “brother passage” does not provide evidence for the existence of Jesus that is INDEPENDENT from the New Testament.  If the “brother passage” does not provide evidence that is independent from the NT, then it does not count as external evidence for the existence of Jesus, but is merely an echo of the evidence from the NT.
Hinman: First of all the old atheists that the Bible is just av pile of crap and can't be accepted as evidence on any level is just as washrooms Trump supporters. It's an artifact it tells us what they believed, Since there is no other candidate for famous Jesus (they had to mention him for a reason--common name but we know of no other Jesus who did anything note worthy) that info being supplied by Christians makes very little difference.

He has no basis for establishing thiat he's only basing it upon the date of composition.

B. Antiquities was Written AFTER the Gospels and the Letter of Paul to the Galatians
Josephus wrote The Antiquities in either 93 or 94 CE.  Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians about  50 to 55 CE.  The gospel of Mark was probably written about 70 CE, and the gospel of Matthew was probably written about 85 CE.  Thus Josephus wrote the “brother passage” about 40 years after Paul wrote to the Galations, about 25 years after the gospel of Mark was written, and about a decade after the gospel of Matthew was written.  Each of these NT documents states or implies that Jesus of Nazareth had a brother named James, and that some Jews believed that Jesus was the Messiah or “the Christ”:
55 CE:but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother. (Galatians 1:19, New Revised Standard Version)

70 CE:Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.  (Mark 6:3, New Revised Standard Version)85 CE:Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  (Matthew 13:55, New Revised Standard Version)Josephus could have learned the idea that there was a man named Jesus who was the brother of a man named James, and who was believed by some Jews to be the Messiah or “the Christ” from reading the letter of Paul to the Galatians, or the gospel of Mark, or the gospel of Matthew. 
Hinman: Date of comp is the only thing he has  that passes for evidence, that proves nothing it only makes it possible not likely.

[delete useless repetition] He lists a bunch of different ways that Jo could have learned it from Christian but that;s just more of the same non proof.

C.  The Information in the “brother passage” could have Come from More than One Source
Just as it is important to recognize that the TF passage could be partially authentic and partially inauthentic, so it is also important to recognize that the “brother passage” could be partially independent of the NT and partially dependent on the NT.  The death of James the brother of Jesus is not described in the NT, so clearly the basic story in the “brother passage” did not come from the NT.  However, it is possible that the idea that James was “the brother of Jesus” and that Jesus was “called the Christ” could have come from the NT, could be dependent on someone having read one or more writings from the NT.
Hinman: He's just trying to evoke the "Bible is garbage and cam't be evidence 'prejudice of atheist circles. Let's say it's true where else is he going to hear about it? Apart from circles related to Christianity?: Who else would talk about it? There might be a mention in the Talmud.Why wouldn't he turn to Christian circles to learn about Jesus? Why would that then make it become untrue? 

There is a apocryphal James literature such as the Apocrypha of James. Paul's mention of James establishes him as a famous person  on the embryonic church scene, of course if he wasv head of Jerusalem. This text secret book of James [apocryphon] is established by Ron Cameron [Sayings Traditions in the Apocryphon of James(HTS 34; Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press 1984] as independent of the New
testament. It's saying gospel so maybe very early,.[Peter Kirby Early Christian Writings URL: ] [see aslko Helmutt KoesterAncient Christian Gospels 1992,  187-200]

That establishes an independent tradition about ajames as leader and fist witness to resurrection that could be source Jo used.

Josephus could have had a story about a man “whose name was James” from a non-Christian source who obtained this information independent of the NT.  But if Josephus wanted more information about this person named “James”, he could have obtained this additional information from a Christian source (who had read or heard Mark, Matthew, or Galatians), or from a non-Christian acquaintance who obtained information from reading Mark, Matthew, or Galatians or from conversations with a Christian (who had read or heard Mark, Matthew, or Galatians).  In this case, even if the entire phrase “the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ” was written by Josephus, this part of the “brother passage” would NOT provide independent evidence of the existence of Jesus, even though the passage as a whole does provide some historical information that is independent of the NT.

Hinman: he is just writing fiction again. He has not one shred of evidence all he has is a mere possibility and even if it were true it wound still not mean it;s bad evidence, Crosson accepts the historicity of Jesus based upon the NT.

D.  There is a Significant Chance that the “brother passage” is Partially DEPENDENT on the New Testament 
Because there is a significant chance that both references to “Jesus” in Antiquities are either directly or indirectly dependent on the writings of the NT, the NT scholar Bart Ehrman concludes that these references to Jesus fail to provide significant evidence for the existence of Jesus:

Hinman: There is no evidence. The only thing like evidence he has is that the dates of composition make it possible. They don't make it likely,

My main point is that whether the Testimonium is authentically from Josephus (in its pared-down form) or not probably does not ultimately matter  for the question I am pursuing here.  Whether or not Jesus lived has to be decided on other kinds of evidence from this.  And here is why.  Suppose Josephus really did write the Testimonium.  That would show that by 93 CE–some sixty or more years after the traditional date of Jesus’s death–a Jewish historian of Palestine had some information about him.  And where would Josephus have derived this information?  He would have heard stories about Jesus that were in circulation.  There is nothing to suggest that Josephus had actually read the Gospels (he almost certainly had not) or that he did any kind of primary research into the life of Jesus by examining Roman records of some kind (there weren’t any).  But as we will see later, we already know for lots of other reasons and on lots of other grounds that there were stories about Jesus floating around in Palestine by the end of the first century and much earlier.  So even if the Testimonium, in the pared-down form, was written by Josephus, it does not give us much more evidence than we already have on the question of whether there really was a man Jesus.  (Did Jesus Exist, p.65)

Hinman: Now he is just gainsaying the evidence, That could be true anytime for any historical writing. If we are going to strut Jo as a historian then we have to trust him on this tool Historians do trust him, he is known as the primary source for first cincture history, that is especially true for matters  involving Palestine,

Ehrman believes that the references to “Jesus” by Josephus fail to provide significant evidence for the existence of Jesus even though it is Ehrman’s purpose in the book quoted above to refute Jesus Mythicists and to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was a real, flesh-and-blood historical person.  Ehrman does not reject these passages from Josephus in order to support the belief that Jesus is a myth; he rejects them because there is a good chance that the information about Jesus in those passages is DEPENDENT on one or more of the writings of the NT.
Hinman: Bradley needs to quote that quote. I doubt that he has that right because Jo is one of the Major reasons that historians overwhelming accept the historicity of Jesus,

Robert Van Voorst is an NT scholar who has also carefully studied the external evidence for Jesus, including the two passages by Josephus that refer to Jesus.  Van Voorst is much more positive about this evidence that Ehrman is,

Hinman: see, historians love this guy

 but Van Voorst is honest enough to admit that his positive evaluation of the external evidence from Josephus rests on a somewhat shaky assumption, the assumption that the information Josephus had about Jesus was obtained INDEPENDENTLY of the writings of the NT:
These items rule out Josephus’s obtaining this wording [in the TF passage], and probably the information behind it, from the New Testament or other early Christian writings known to us.  (JONT, p.102-103, emphasis added)The evidence only “probably” rules out the hypothesis that Josephus obtained the information about Jesus in these passages from the New Testament or other early Christian writings.  Van Voorst does not assert that the evidence “certainly” rules this out, nor that it “almost certainly” rules this out, nor that it “very probably” rules this out.   Thus, Van Voorst tacitly admits that there is a significant chancethat Josephus obtained his information about Jesus from the New Testament.
Hinman: Most of Bradley's arguments have been based entirely upon not just probability but pure speculation

Further comments by Van Voorst reinforce his admission of the shakiness of the assumption that the TF passage and the “brother passage” contain independent historical information about Jesus:Did this information [about Jesus] come indirectly from Christians or others to Josephus? We can be less sure about this [i.e. we can be less sure about ruling this out than ruling out that Josephus obtained the information about Jesus by reading some of the NT writings himself]althought the totality of the evidence points away from it.  (JONT, p.103, emphasis added)
Hinman: Reading NT does not make it bad eviodence but it is by no means the case that he had to do this. 

A more plausible hypothesis is that Josephus gained his knowledge of Christianity when he lived in Palestine.  He supplemented it in Rome, as the words “to this day” may imply, where there was a significant Christian presence.  Whether Josephus aquired his data by direct encounter with Christians, indirect information from others about their movement, or some combination of both, we cannot tell.  John Meier is correct to conclude that none of these potential sources is verifiable, yet the evidence points to the last option as the more commendable.  (JONT, p.102, emphasis added).
Hinman: It is just as plausible that he had evidence, maybe supplementary from Rabbinical sources. The odds are he would have concluded them, there is also the Gnostic source already mentioned which is interdependent of NT.

QUESTION 5:  Is the Information in the “brother passage” probably true?If I understand Hinman’s argument correctly, he is trying to provide evidence for an intermediate conclusion about a man named “James”:(2A) It is probable that there existed a man named “James” who was in fact the brother of Jesus of Nazareth.The fact that Josephus asserted that there was such a man, does not prove that there was such a man.  One can also challenge the assumption that the fact that Josephus asserted that there was such a man is sufficient evidence to show that it is PROBABLE that such a man exists.  Thus, the considerations of authenticity and independence are not sufficient by themselves to show that the “brother passage” provides significant evidence for the existence of Jesus.

Hinman:He has no evidence to establish even the possibility of a myth, there is no reason whatsoever to assure this. Jesus myther argument from silence not withstanding,

This really just amounts to gainsaying the evidence, (refusing to accept it).

then he has one of his famous diagrams, here's the thing with the diagrams they look cool, I appreciate the attempt to clarify through cool looking diagrams I can never read them. when I blow it up they too blurry if I don't the writing is too small. This one is no acceptation.

As to the finalpoint he makes om probability, the strength of the passage on Jess is as good as any passage by Jo.We have to accept the same truest level to that that would not anythings writings otherwise you are just biased.dogmatically rejecting the evidence because you don't like the conclusions.

There is no counter evidence all  he has in they way of evidence is purely speculative.Since most historians accept the historical core passage with Jesus and base historicity on that we conclude that it backs it. Let's say there is a core passage about Jesus in the BP that is Tweaked to say "so called Christ" why else would they name a guy called Jesus brother of James? Only if Jesus was known for something but there is no other Jesus who is known for that era, lots of guys named Jesus but no one else known for anything,

We don't have to take this passage by itself. Together with the Talmud and the two Apostolic fathers, it's good evidence.

My position is the only one backed by actual textual evidence, The agreement between TF and BP in Jerome;s versiomn and it's Syriac agreement indicates that's the original passage Josephus wrote.Bradley has no such evidence.


come on guys let's have commemts
I was working on type-editing your text, when I ran across a persistent mistake you need to correct, Joe: Bradley is talking about Josephus' book (or set of books) known as the Antiquities(and more specifically one book of it, if I recall correctly), and several times you mistake him for talking about all works in antiquity. When Bradley says there are only two references to Jesus in Josephus' Antiquities, he is not saying there are only two references in all texts of antiquity.

I'll get back to type-editing it eventually, but you should fix those parts of your reply first.

well I considered him meaning but the context didn't seem t support that meaning, or maybe it seemed so obvious it though he could;t mean that,
Not likely that a Christian had this great sounding stuff lauding Jesus in the TF then turn around and sasy "the so called. Christ." No one would change it to support their guy then degrade him in that way

That's a good point, and calls attention to a depiction of early Christians often suggested by atheists: On one hand the early believers were a bunch of superstitious dolts who blindly believed in miracles. On the other they were crafty enough to create narratives describing themselves as "slow of heart to believe" and "of little faith," in order to deceive their readers into thinking the miracles may have actually happened, i.e., independently of their own initial skepticism, when in fact they did not. Naïve and brilliant.

Reminds me of some of the truthers who maintain that George W. is and always has been a complete idiot, but is also capable of successfully masterminding the 9-11 attacks while scapegoating a bunch of innocent "so-called" terrorists. LOL.
Snicker, Don, that is too insightful. Please be careful. We want atheists to comment on the blog, and if you keep showing insight like this you will lose them. 
For that matter, some of the "great stuff" lauding Christ in the TF itself isn't so great! -- "those who accept truth like hedonists", would have sounded just as squiffy back then as it does now. ("Like crazy people at an orgy? What?!?") The non-interpolated theoretical remainder of the TF is pretty cautiously ambivalent, or even a touch disdainful, while still painting a recognizable portrait.

"We want atheists to comment on the blog, and if you keep showing insight like this you will lose them. "

counter snicker we want them to commemt so we caan say insightful things to them. I just stay off line a d talk to the wall if I dom't wantanyone to know what i think.
On the issue of the Jerome reading"so called Christ" they assume he stuck it in after Euseius change the passage and that Jerome read the Eusebius counterfeiter,but one of them pointed out that Origin said Jo did not believe Jesus was messiah, if Origion is talking about Jo's view on Jesus he had to know Jo talked about Jesus

Even thou h he does't quiote the TF full on he obviouslky testifies to a pre Euseibian version.
/2016 12:08:00 PM Delete
Blogger Jason Pratt said...
For that matter, some of the "great stuff" lauding Christ in the TF itself isn't so great! -- "those who accept truth like hedonists", would have sounded just as squiffy back then as it does now. ("Like crazy people at an orgy? What?!?") The non-interpolated theoretical remainder of the TF is pretty cautiously ambivalent, or even a touch disdainful, while still painting a recognizable portrait.

yes I am one of the people who thinks that the passage is not tweaked but is just being sarcastoic. that would back my reading.
Joe Hinman said...