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Taylormade



Joined: 31 Oct 2012
Location: Incheon

PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Christ, I'm not saying the bible isn't from antiquity. I'm saying the magical stories contained therein are fables. Aesops Fables has talking animals, so does the bible. There is definitely some historical fact in the bible, but a great deal of unhistorical nonsense. The exodus from Egypt did not occur. The sun was not blocked out for three hours when Jesus died. Adam and Eve and the talking snake are what if not a fable? The first gospel, Mark, has no nativity story (virgin birth) and no resurrection appearances to the disciples. Mathhew and Luke made them up. The earth is not 5000 years old. Jesus could only have 'ascended' to heaven if the earth was flat and stationary, as the NT writers believed. We now know the universe is not flat and stationary. Yes, the NT has been written and rewritten thousands of times in antiquity - but each time a tired scribe made another error or altered it to conform to his theological perspective. There are thousands (yes, thousands) of differences in the ancient manuscripts that we have. There is also an endless list of contradictions. Was there a historical Jesus? Maybe, maybe not. But even if he did exist that tells us nothing about the reliability of the NT. The world is full of religions, new and old. You don't accept the historical accuracy of the writtings contained in the holy books of Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Scientology, Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists, Zorastrians, etc. You would argue they are all unhistorical - the product of humanity's 'moral imagination'. And I would agree - only thing is that 'moral imagination' didn't cease to exist at the borders of ancient Palestine. In fact many (perhaps most) bible stories are copies of the older and more influential cultures surrounding Israel (Babylon, Egypt, Sumeria, Greece, Persia, etc) yet you wouldn't consider the original stories (Gilgamesh etc.) to be historically accurate. Nor should you then consider Noah's flood historically accurate, or Moses commanding the sun to stop its journey through the sky (the sun does not revolve around the earth, so the story is bronze age nonsense). Finally, you do not accept as historically accurate the great many early writings about Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Judus, or hundreds of other early documents. So not only do you not accept the holy writings of other religions, but you also reject the vast majority of early Christian writings. What you end up with are four gospels written in Greek by four characters (we do not know who) who never once met the character they claim to write about. And you want us to believe that the stories are unadulterated historical fact. Rolling Eyes Again, enjoy the Christmas season. Just remember that there's about as much historical reality to the Jesus story as there is to the Santa story. Not very much. But as the OP said, Merry Christmas.
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Zackback



Joined: 05 Nov 2010
Location: Kyungbuk

PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. I never asserted that you are saying the Bible isn't from antiquity.
2. Mark has no virgin birth? If he did put that event in critics would cry "collusion" but since it's not in now the critics cry "contradiction".
3. Matthew and Luke made up the resurrection appearances? Your proof for that?

I'll stop with this because I know when discussing this issue those that deny the authenticity of the New Testament will simply spout off more and more while never admitting they were wrong. So lets deal with #2 and #3.
You also may want to read about Simon Greenleaf's 'Testimony of the Evangelists'. He served as Royal Professor at Harvard Law School. These accounts were not based on fabrications, lies, myths etc.
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/greenleaf.html
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everything-is-everything



Joined: 06 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zackback wrote:
And the evidence he presented for his point/assertion...or did you just state something without any evidence?
He asserts something but does so without proof.
Here's my evidence for the reliability of the New Testament:
1. More manuscripts than any other writing from the ancient world.
2. More accurately copied manuscripts than any other writing from the ancient world.
3. With the above, earlier manuscripts to their original than any other writing from the ancient world.

Historicity of the New Testament
http://carm.org/manuscript-evidence

Manuscript evidence for superior New Testament reliability

by Matt Slick

The New Testament is constantly under attack and its reliability and accuracy are often contested by critics. But, if the critics want to disregard the New Testament, then they must also disregard other ancient writings by Plato, Aristotle, and Homer. This is because the New Testament documents are better-preserved and more numerous than any other ancient writings. Because they are so numerous, they can be cross checked for accuracy... and they are very consistent.

There are presently 5,686 Greek manuscripts in existence today for the New Testament.1 If we were to compare the number of New Testament manuscripts to other ancient writings, we find that the New Testament manuscripts far outweigh the others in quantity.2
Author Date
Written Earliest Copy Approximate Time Span between original & copy Number of Copies Accuracy of Copies
Lucretius died 55 or 53 B.C. 1100 yrs 2 ----
Pliny 61-113 A.D. 850 A.D. 750 yrs 7 ----
Plato 427-347 B.C. 900 A.D. 1200 yrs 7 ----
Demosthenes 4th Cent. B.C. 1100 A.D. 800 yrs 8 ----
Herodotus 480-425 B.C. 900 A.D. 1300 yrs 8 ----
Suetonius 75-160 A.D. 950 A.D. 800 yrs 8 ----
Thucydides 460-400 B.C. 900 A.D. 1300 yrs 8 ----
Euripides 480-406 B.C. 1100 A.D. 1300 yrs 9 ----
Aristophanes 450-385 B.C. 900 A.D. 1200 10 ----
Caesar 100-44 B.C. 900 A.D. 1000 10 ----
Livy 59 BC-AD 17 ---- ??? 20 ----
Tacitus circa 100 A.D. 1100 A.D. 1000 yrs 20 ----
Aristotle 384-322 B.C. 1100 A.D. 1400 49 ----
Sophocles 496-406 B.C. 1000 A.D. 1400 yrs 193 ----
Homer (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 yrs 643 95%
New
Testament 1st Cent. A.D. (50-100 A.D. 2nd Cent. A.D.
(c. 130 A.D. f.) less than 100 years 5600 99.5%

As you can see, there are thousands more New Testament Greek manuscripts than any other ancient writing. The internal consistency of the New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure. That is an amazing accuracy. In addition there are over 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages. The total supporting New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000.

Almost all biblical scholars agree that the New Testament documents were all written before the close of the First Century. If Jesus was crucified in 30 A.D., then that means that the entire New Testament was completed within 70 years. This is important because it means there were plenty of people around when the New Testament documents were penned who could have contested the writings. In other words, those who wrote the documents knew that if they were inaccurate, plenty of people would have pointed it out. But, we have absolutely no ancient documents contemporary with the First Century that contest the New Testament texts.

Furthermore, another important aspect of this discussion is the fact that we have a fragment of the gospel of John that dates back to around 29 years from the original writing (John Rylands Papyri 125 A.D.). This is extremely close to the original writing date. This is simply unheard of in any other ancient writing and it demonstrates that the Gospel of John is a First Century document.

Below is a chart with some of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts compared to when they were originally penned. Compare these time spans with the next closest which is Homer's Iliad where the closest copy from the original is 500 years later. Undoubtedly, that period of time allows for more textual corruption in its transmission. How much less so for the New Testament documents?
Important
Manuscript
Papyri Contents Date
Original Written MSS
Date Approx.
Time Span Location
p52
(John Rylands
Fragment)3 John 18:31-33,37-38 circa
96 A.D. circa
125
A.D. 29 yrs John Rylands Library, Manchester, England
P46
(Chester Beatty Papyrus) Rom. 5:17-6:3,5-14; 8:15-25, 27-35; 10:1-11,22,24-33,35; 16:1-23, 25-27; Heb.; 1 & 2 Cor., Eph., Gal., Phil., Col.; 1 Thess. 1:1,9-10; 2:1-3; 5:5-9, 23-28 50's-70's circa
200
A.D. Approx.
150 yrs Chester Beatty Museum, Dublin & Ann Arbor, Michigan, University of Michigan library
P66
(Bodmer Papyrus) John 1:1-6:11,35-14:26; fragment of 14:29-21:9

70's
circa
200
A.D. Approx.
130 yrs Cologne, Geneva
P67 Matt. 3:9,15; 5:20-22, 25-28 circa
200
A.D. Approx.
130 yrs Barcelona, Fundacion San Lucas Evangelista, P. Barc.1

If the critics of the Bible dismiss the New Testament as reliable information, then they must also dismiss the reliability of the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, Homer, and the other authors mentioned in the chart at the beginning of the paper. On the other hand, if the critics acknowledge the historicity and writings of those other individuals, then they must also retain the historicity and writings of the New Testament authors; after all, the evidence for the New Testament's reliability is far greater than the others. The Christian has substantially superior criteria for affirming the New Testament documents than he does for any other ancient writing. It is good evidence on which to base the trust in the reliability of the New Testament.

Footnotes
1. Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakeable Foundations, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2001) p. 256.
2. The above chart was adapted from three sources: 1) Christian Apologetics, by Norman Geisler, 1976, p. 307; 2) the article "Archaeology and History attest to the Reliability of the Bible," by Richard M. Fales, Ph.D., in The Evidence Bible, Compiled by Ray Comfort, Bridge-Logos Publishers, Gainesville, FL, 2001, p. 163; and 3) A Ready Defense, by Josh Mcdowell, 1993, p. 45.
3. "Deissmann was convinced that p52 was written well within the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 117-3Cool and perhaps even during the time of Trajan (A.D. 98-117)" (Footnote #2 found on pg. 39 of The Text of the New Testament, by Bruce M. Metzger, 2nd Ed. 1968, Oxford University Press, NY, NY). Bruce Metzger has authored more than 50 books. He holds two Masters Degrees, a Ph.D. and has been awarded several honorary doctorates. "He is past president of the Society of Biblical Literature, the International Society fo New Testament Studies, an the North American Patristic Society." -- From, The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel, Zondervan Publishers, 1998, Grand Rapids, MI: pg. 57.


And where in the hell are the god damned dinosaurs? !!!!!!
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everything-is-everything



Joined: 06 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Taylormade wrote:
Dodge7 wrote:
ricochet wrote:
Christmas? merry Christmas?? say that to 20 sets of parents mourning the tragic senseless lost of their loved little ones!!! say that to others that sacrificed their lives for those 20 little ones!!! say that to the uncountable people living in fear, poverty and sheer dire straits!!! ...but, please, dont wish it to me coz i think ive enuf of this cruel place we call home wherever you may be...please, enuf...so sad. Crying or Very sad
We say Merry Christmas to our Lord and Savior who was born and lived a sinless life and died for those that were sin, to be sinless in the eyes of the God the Father, the creator. That's the gist of it.


LOL. How any university graduate can believe such a silly fable is beyond me. Enjoy the Christmas season, sing carols, enjoy the atmosphere, etc. but let's not pretend that there's any more truth to bible stories than there is to any other book of fables.

Grown ups believing bible stories. Rolling Eyes



I'm with you on this one.

Seriously, I don't mind people looking to the stories and messages in the bible for spiritual questions and comfort.

But to take it as literal fact is bewildering.


Seriously, these people who the bible to be the true word of God need to be committed.
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Zackback



Joined: 05 Nov 2010
Location: Kyungbuk

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know that things like this deeply trouble those who attack what the New Testament declares but let's wait for Taylormade to respond. I'm sure he's a big boy and doesn't need your "help".
Run along......
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Taylormade



Joined: 31 Oct 2012
Location: Incheon

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are unaware that the Gospel of Mark has no virgin birth? How can you be so ignorant about the origins of your own faith? The oldest gospel fails to mention the virgin birth of Jesus. Don't you think that's a pretty major omission? I do. True, you can't put everything in a gospel, and you have to decide what to leave out. But the virgin birth (and the related case for Jesus' divinity and sinlessness) should certainly have been retained. Don't you agree? How could that be left out? Because the legend / theology had not evolved along those lines yet. Mark depicts Jesus as a mere mortal (who rarely performed miracles), and who was simply "adopted" by Yahweh as his son at the baptism. On the cross Jesus is in disbelief that his deity had abandoned him. He is depicted in utter shock. There are also no resurrection appearances in Mark, and no ascension (also odd things to leave out, wouldn't you agree?). Why are they not there? Because the legend would take take some time to develop. And, as we know, it did. With Matthew and Luke (written around twenty years later) Jesus starts to look more like a semi-divine superman character. Most of the stories are simply copied from Mark (there is very little dispute about this) and expanded upon using the author's 'moral imagination'. Matthew adds that upon Jesus' death the saints got out of their tombs and walked into Jerusalem to hang out with their live relatives. Yeah, sure they did. By the time we get to the Gospel of John Jesus is Yahweh himself. Far be he from the mortal Jesus hanging on Mark's cross, full of despair. Now he's in on the whole project from the beginnings of the universe. In fact he is God. (Something the other gospel writers forgot to mention.) Like any myth in any ancient story, anywhere in the world, the Jesus myth evolved. Even in recent times it has taken on interesting turns in the writings of of Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses etc. But were they witnesses to the original events you ask? No, they weren't. But neither were the authors of the four gospels that you accept as 'historically reliable'. None of them claimed to have met Jesus. And if they did meet Jesus, that again is a pretty odd omission, don't you think? "Oh, by the way, I met this Jesus guy and witnessed everything that I've mentioned in my gospel." Didn't happen. Why? Because they never met the alleged Jesus.

Zackback wrote:
You also may want to read about Simon Greenleaf's 'Testimony of the Evangelists'. He served as Royal Professor at Harvard Law School. These accounts were not based on fabrications, lies, myths etc. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/greenleaf.html


LOL. Greenleaf died in the 1850's. Have you any idea how far biblical studies have advanced in the past 160 years? The fact that you are suggesting readings from the early 19th century shows that you are unaware of this fact. Get off Daves, and start educating yourself about your own faith. You've a great deal of reading to do. Let's pick up this thread again in 5 years. By then you'll at least have a basic understanding of the texts that you're defending. Until then you're just embarrassing yourself.
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Zackback



Joined: 05 Nov 2010
Location: Kyungbuk

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was and am aware that Mark did not record the birth of Christ. Matthew and Luke have it. God does not need to say something more than once or twice.
Some Bible authors record prayers to the Lord Jesus while others don't. Big deal.
Again if everyone recorded every major event critics would cry collusion.

Even liberal scholar John A.T. Robinson puts the dating of Mark at 45-60, Matthew at 40-60 and Luke as early as 57. So your dates are in error.

Mark also depicts Christ as God.
From Mark 14:61-64 (The New King James Version)

But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?"
Jesus said, "I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "What further need do we have of witnesses?
"You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?" And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.

Thanks for your myth but the fact is this does not depict Christ as a mere mortal.
Here's another one:
Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? (Mark 2:3-8, The New King James Version).
When one takes what Mark records here along with other authors of the New Testament also affirming that Christ knows everyone's heart this too proves that Mark informed us that Christ is God for this knowledge was reserved for only God.
then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men) (2 Chronicles 6:30, The New King James Version).

By the way Greenleaf was an expert concerning laws about admissible evidence and his work is STILL used today. So no you get off of Dave's and start educating yourself.
Here are more lawyers and legal experts to "help" you.
http://www.jashow.org/wiki/index.php?title=The_Evidence_for_the_Resurrection_of_Jesus_Christ/Part_2


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Captain Corea



Joined: 28 Feb 2005
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zackback wrote:
I was and am aware that Mark did not record the birth of Christ. Matthew and Luke have it. God does not need to say something more than once or twice.


Huh?


Why is twice the magic number?
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Died By Bear



Joined: 13 Jul 2010
Location: On the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Read "James, the Brother of Jesus" if you want interesting.

(Jesus had a brother, he was supposed to lead the church - but was at great odds with Saul/Paul).


http://www.amazon.com/James-Brother-Jesus-Unlocking-Christianity/dp/014025773X


The major points the author makes are:
James was the undisputed successor to Jesus;
Early Christianity was very Jewish and very messianic;
Early Christianity was stronly allied with the Qumran-Essene population;
Paul's philosophy of inclusion is antithetical to the real tenets of early Christianity;
Luke was the quintessential propagandist;
The New Testament is corrupted by forgeries, which Authorities even now use to justify themseleves;

... and goodness, a thousand other things....

If you want to understand Christianity, "James" is a giant first step.


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Zackback



Joined: 05 Nov 2010
Location: Kyungbuk

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

God only has to declare something once for it to be true because He is true in Himself.
In legal matters at least two witnesses are required (Matthew 18:16).
The Virgin Birth is supported by at least two and people still demand more.
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Zackback



Joined: 05 Nov 2010
Location: Kyungbuk

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Died By Bear wrote:
Read "James, the Brother of Jesus" if you want interesting.


Paul's philosophy of inclusion is antithetical to the real tenets of early Christianity;
[/i]


And thank you for more myth. Even in the Old Testament the inclusion of the Gentiles was stated (Isaiah 49:6).
In fact, it was Peter (not Paul) who went to the first Gentiles with the gospel message (Acts 10).
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Died By Bear



Joined: 13 Jul 2010
Location: On the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zackback wrote:
Died By Bear wrote:
Read "James, the Brother of Jesus" if you want interesting.


Paul's philosophy of inclusion is antithetical to the real tenets of early Christianity;
[/i]


And thank you for more myth. Even in the Old Testament the inclusion of the Gentiles was stated (Isaiah 49:6).
In fact, it was Peter (not Paul) who went to the first Gentiles with the gospel message (Acts 10).


I'm no authority on the Bible, but it's an interesting read if you go at it with an open mind. It doesn't have any bearing on your 'faith' if you take in a few other books.
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Zackback



Joined: 05 Nov 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't need to have an "open mind" when such falsehood is taken as gospel. There is more than enough garbage out there for people to seek after in order to deny the simple (and profound) truth of what the New Testament declares.
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Died By Bear



Joined: 13 Jul 2010
Location: On the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zackback wrote:
I don't need to have an "open mind" when such falsehood is taken as gospel. There is more than enough garbage out there for people to seek after in order to deny the simple (and profound) truth of what the New Testament declares.



Ok, read a summary then Razz



Robert Eisenman played a major role in the world of religious studies by advocating with success the opening of all Dead Sea Scrolls to the widest public of intellectuals, research workers and plain interested people. We now have full facsimiles of all these scrolls. He spent his whole life studying the religious questions in the Middle East from the first century BC to the fourth or fifth centuries CE. He concentrated a lot of his work on the various religious movements around the Dead Sea in the crucial period going from 50 BC to 150 CE. The present book is the first volume of his final research work in the field. It is essential and we cannot avoid it if we are to understand what is happening and what may be happening in the world today and how this is reflected in literature or arts. The three semitic religions that dominate the world today went through an important transformation (the Jewish religion), was born (the Christian religion), and was to emerge later (the Moslem religion) in that very short period of two centuries from the conquest of the region by the Roman Empire to the final destruction and scattering of the Jewish community in Palestine.

What's more the book will revive disputes and arguments that went on for many centuries in the Middle Ages, founded all heresies and schismatic decisions or activities, including the Reformation, and even the dramatic events concerning the Jews in the 20th century, even if these events did not only concern the Jews, since the genocide was thought also for gypsies, at least, and eugenism and other criminal activities were thought for all types of disabled people and moral, social, racial and sexual minorities. This book, and this research is also heavily present behind the famous Da Vinci Code and some other popular books in the field.

I intend to give you a sample of what the book is about, not a full discussion of so many pages.

The Style and the Method
The author gets into so many minute details that the book becomes circular. Some data come back over and over again in the various successive parts and chapters. But this is not a handicap or a drawback. Some facts or quotations are used many times but each time in different conditions, in a different discursive environment. These facts or quotations take different meanings in every single case. It is in a way the proof that the context gives the meaning. It becomes a great asset for the book even if it is a great difficulty for the reader who constantly has to go back or check every single quotation or reference in the Bible or some other documents. Such a book reads slowly.

If we drop from book level to chapter level we have the same circular style, but this time it works differently. The reasoning is built as a sequence of facts that are threaded along in a line that looks syncretic and the conclusion is drawn from this very series of facts. This looks circular and may even make you giddy or give you a vertigo. But it is an interesting method that brings together facts and details that would not have been brought together normally. The contrast and the similitude we can find between these threaded up facts are both nerve-raking and brain-storming. It leads to interesting hypotheses that have to be exploited and then justified or falsified.

The method is just as interesting as this style. Eisenman brings together all the documents available from this period going from the first century BC to the third or fourth centurues CE. He stops short of Constantine.
He refuses to reduce his thinking to canonical documents of any sort, and even to give these canonical documents any higher value. Yet he gives these canonical documents a special value: they have been rewritten through time. We will come back to that. But he also considers on an equal historical footing all other documents, the Dead Sea Scrolls of course, but also all apocryphal and pseudepigraphic documents, particularly those found in Nag Hammadi. He does not follow the standard canonised method that says that points common in several documents are more truthful or closer to the truth than those that are unique. In fact, due to the great proved process of rewriting of many of the canonical documents he considers his method is best. He considers a fact that is mentioned only once to be more meaningful in order to find the truth that is to say to build a hypothesis that may lead to a new and fruitful interpretation. Either this unique fact is unique because it was erased everywhere else, or it is unique because only one author managed to consider it as being important and hence mention it. Some facts may be delusions but a fact that is mentioned only once may be the unconscious delusion of one person, whereas a fact that is mentioned many times may be a collective voluntary « delusion » of a group of people who want us to believe something and not to know something else this common fact is supposed to cover up and even replace.

The guarantee of the quality of Eisenman's work is in the minuteness of his observation, particularly of the text of the documents. He works on many languages, the official language of the document, but also the languages of other versions of the same document, but also various languages that are available to the speakers and writers of the time. He particularly keeps in mind some of these documents were constantly translated into Greek, the official language of the Empire in this area, from various semitic languages like hebrew, aramaic, syriac and some others. He shows how some canonical texts play on the literal correspondances between hebrew and Greek for some fundamental words or names. And of course he tries never to be the victim of the English translation. One example will suffice. Adam is a proper name, but in hebrew it means man, hence when Jesus says he is « the Son of Man » what he said in hebrew also means, « the son of Adam », hence he refers to an old prediction among Jews, a real theory in a way about the Primal Adam and the Messiah who is to be the Second Adam, the Son of Adam, and his coming is supposed to announce the Second Coming, God's judgment, the time to reach omega, the end of things that were created at the time when alpha was instated. In other words when Jesus says he is « the Son of Man » he situates himself in a messianic approach, even an apocalyptic approach that we do not feel or understand anymore. What's more then we find references to this ideological approach in the Dead Sea Scrolls and communities living around Qumran.
Robert Eisenman uses the method devised by Kenneth Burke in his book on logology (The Rhetoric of Religion) that analyzes the Confession of Augustine.

The result is outstanding.

Main « conclusions » or rather « hypotheses »
I do not intend to summarize in any way the arguments. I am going to give some of Eisenman's « conclusions » and eventually ask a few questions.

The first conclusion is that Jesus was one in a family. We know the parents, Mary and Joseph. First note: there is only one Mary. The proliferation of Maries was a way to set Jesus aside. This family had four sons: James known as the Just (Note: there is only one James, cf note supra), Simon the Zealot known under some other names and not to be mixed with Simeon bar Cleophas who might be an uncle or great uncle, Jude or Judas the Zealot known under a myriad of names particularly Thomas, Didymus Thomas, etc, Thomas and Didymus meaning Twin, and this brother is thought by some to be the twin brother of Jesus, Joses assimilated to the Hebrew word that gave Jesus and meant Savior. The family also had a daughter: Mary Salome or Salome.

This family was a family of zealots fighting for the strict observance of the Law of Moses. First circumcision. It will be a fundamental debate, or rather argument between Paul and James, Paul and the Church of Jerusalem led by James. Second the rejection of fornication that had a precise meaning at the time: no incestuous sexuality, no marriage with nieces or nephews, no divorce and no marriage with uncircumcised men. Then separation: that covers fornication again but excludes sexuality during the woman's menstrual flow, but it also means separation in the Temple which is not open to non circumcised men, non-Jews, separation for eating meaning that Jews cannot eat with Gentiles, separation of food rejecting everything sacrificed to idols, separation from blood which requires meat to be bled in a certain way and blood not to be in anyway consumed. This can also go as far as excluding all meat and wine. Then the rule of righteousness that requires one to love his neighbor as his brother, hence that condemns riches and the rich, hence that sets God on the side of the poor. Finally the rule of piety which is love for God that has to be expressed in strict ways: prayers, rites, observing all rules, circumcision which is the sign of the Covenant, etc. Eisenman assumes Jesus was one of them entirely and that James who was a strict follower of righteousness and piety is the closest image we can have of Jesus himself. I will question this point at the end.
The second conclusion is that the Gospels and the Book of Acts or Book of Revelation were overwritten systematically to erase this family, to degrade its members, and to set Jesus apart with the virginity of Mary behind proving he was the Son of God, in spite of the fact that he is never made to speak these words, even under torture. The image that comes up is that Jesus was a preacher of « naziritism » (the word that best covers what I have explained before as for observing the Law of Moses) and as such an organizer of the popular Jewish masses to resist slavery, to resist Roman occupation but in a pacific way because what was essential was to fight, within the Jewish community, against the High Priests and the Herodians associated to the Pharisees and the Scribes. The question asked by the author, and never answered, is: who did it?

The third conclusion concerns Paul. He is systematically seen as being the Saulus present around the Herodians at that time. His conversion is discussed though there are some dark zones in the seven years or so that surround it. His position on the other hand is very clear. He refuses circumcision for Gentiles. He accepts to eat with everyone and there is no separation at the table. He accepts to eat anything that can be found on the market. He refuses a baptism in the flesh (circumcision) and is in favor of a baptism in the spirit (with water like John the Baptist). He promotes the rite of Eucharist and communion in bread and blood. It is a clear provocation to all zealots and nazirites, and of course James and the Jerusalem church. It also shows that the synoptic Gospels have been rewritten, since the three synoptic gospels go this way as for this communion in bread and wine, flesh and blood, but John's does not. There is a lot more to say on this presence of wine in the Gospels if Jesus is a nazirite like his brother James. Nevertheless the term christian was first used in Paul's church in Antioch, though there seems to be some fuzziness about which Antioch we are speaking of.

The fourth conclusion is that Paul holds a direct responsibility in James' fate. First in the early 40s in the Temple, James was preaching and supported by the people present when Paul intervened, called after the young priests (in agreement with Temple rules) and expelled James, threw him down the stairs after a severe beating and left him there for dead, though he will survive in Jericho with his supporters, having only one or two broken legs. Then Eisenman shows how Paul, after his conversion will manage to self-declare himself an apostle, impose himself over the others in Jerusalem and at least close his eyes when a plot came up in Jerusalem in 62 to try and stone James for blasphemy, which is performed at once by the High Priests, the Pharisees, the Scribes and the Herodians. After this event the other disciples and apostles will have to disappear in distant communities like Philip for instance, or get along with Paul. Paul will be the master of the new church that will be built on his line.
Unluckily things are never that simple. James' death triggers a complete upheaval of the Jews against the Romans. The nazirites seize power, execute the High Priest and some Pharisees, and of course the Herodians, destroy their palaces and organize the war against the Romans. On the Roman side Vespasian and Titus will do the job, seize Jerusalem, destroy it and the Temple. Paul is well introduced among these Romans and he will survive. The hypothesis, or conclusion, Eisenman reaches here is that Paul's project is actually set on rails by the death of James, the insurrection of the Jews and the levelling of Jerusalem by Vespasian and Titus. This cannot be proved but it fits with what we know. On the Jewish side it is the emergence of rabbinic judaism.

Eisenman finishes his book with Jude and a « minor » problem that shows, from his point of view, how the whole « christian project » worked. Jude is minorized to the utmost by being called all kinds of names that erase him, like Theudas and many others. But he is also villified indirectly by the creation of Judas Iscariot who will deliver Jesus to the soldiers. No research has been able to find a meaning for the name Iscariot, what's more an origin, though the most common source may be « sicarios », meaning the armed rebels, extreme nazirites, in Greek. In fact this character evades any capturing and Eisenman concludes he did not exist and there was no real traitor, just plain repression.

A Few Questions
First I cannot accept the conclusion that « Who and whatever James was, so was Jesus » (p. 963). Due to the rewriting that took place we only have a false vision of Jesus. But we have no element to prove that Jesus was like James, an extreme nazirite though non-violent. At least one other hypothesis is possible. Jesus was taken in-between two parties. On one hand those who wanted to reassert the Law of Moses (Qumran for example) which meant a stronger but completely closed-up Jewish community, extreme hostility to Roman occupation, eventually going as far as advocating a war against the Romans. On the other hand those who wanted a more open community though Jewish and independent. This meant spreading the faith in a new way, which Jesus did, and building a vast alliance of all eastern provinces and kingdoms to recapture some level of independence from the Romans. This meant that the religion had to be changed so that it did not appear sectarian and it provided some hope to simple people, to the mass of the people. On a third hand the religion could be thought has having to produce a completely new religion that could appeal to everyone, that could become universal. It had to get rid of the strict rules coming from the Law of Moses and to introduce some simple new rites, always open, particularly to women who played an important role in politics as Queens or as the wives of Emperors, senators, etc. It is in that line that we find Paul's approach; I think, though maybe it is wishful thinking, that Jesus was on the second line, whereas James was on the first line. What are the elements that make me think so?

First, the fact that after Jesus' death, James and the other brothers and apostles sent messengers to various non-Jewish kingdoms to convert them, and first of all their Kings or Queens. That's where Paul does not require circumcision, whereas the others do.

Second, the Gospel of Mary-Magdalena. This Gospel is centered on going out to preach and evangelize, do the work of the Lord, on one hand, and on the rejection of anger as a proper motivation on the other hand. We could also use other documents from Nag Hammadi, a library that is not used enough by Eisenman to show that Jesus has preached another type of evangelization that was not based on naziritism.
That leads me to the second question.
What role did Mary-Magdalena play around Jesus and after his death? She is only quoted two or three times by Eisenman when he discusses the first sighting of Jesus after the resurrection. That is not enough. He does not decide who « the disciple that Jesus loved » is. Is it John? Is it James, or is it any other? That question has to be answered because of the tremendous power it may contain.

There is a third question that is floating over all these pages. If Jesus was not the son of God, which Eisenman seems to accept (it may have been a later construction coming from the Pauline and Greek trend), then how can we accept his resurrection? Eisenman discusses the sighting of Jesus after the resurrection just as if they were real. This point has to be clarified seriously. What we have in our hands shows Jesus was a plain man, hence we have to put aside all the divine discourse to recapture the human being in him, and also in the people around him. It will be difficult because in those days it was quite common to believe in supernatural events and most Jews believed in the possible intervention of God and coming of a Messiah who would have been the son of God. But so it has to be and so we have to do. This point is the weak point of the book because here Eisenman is no longer a historian but he accepts to discuss as a true fact some impossible supernatural element that is the result of some obvious rewriting, overwriting or ideological interpretation. I do understand that these episodes are pregnant about the method used to rewrite or write these supernatural events into the Gospels, but they are the proof od a later interpretation or complete mythologizing attitude on the side of those who did the rewriting or overwriting which was guided by the will to prove Jesus is the son of God.

The research work and the discussions that have been going on for some time now and that have found their way into the wide public, are going to change many of our ways of looking at the world. I am thinking of another conclusion I have not discussed here: Islam was born in that period and is the heir of the defeated naziritism of the time (particularly Qumran). If it is true we can see that the beliefs Islam carries has been rejected for at least six centuries more than its own lifespan, before it was officially born, and thus it was born in rejection. That will make us think twice before asserting anything about Islam and before starting anything towards them or with them. It is urgent we step over more than twenty centuries of rejection of this way of looking at the world and accept it, integrate it and eventually learn how to live with it. One element is particularly disturbing along this line. At the time, these nazirites when they were captured and tortured had been trained so that they could smile under that torture and die cursing - or forgiving like Jesus - their torturers. Before being bludgeoned to death at the end of his stoning (he had been obliged to dig up his own grave and then was buried into it up to the waist before the stoning per se started) James would have said: « Forgive them, Father, they do not know what they are doing! » For them death was both a reward of purity and an escape from absolute rejection. The historians of the time recorded details about these tortures and it had to do with a lot of blood, shortening of members, pealing of bodies and heads, cutting tongues, etc. This book is also a tremendous tool to understand our problems today and maybe become better citizens. How can we integrate twenty centuries of rejection in our way of speaking to the victims of this rejection? They were born in rejection. They lived most of their history in rejection. And even today they are marginalized if not rejected in our society. That is the concrete heritage of naziritism. I do believe Jesus was trying to find a new way to avoid this impasse. But he was crucified too early.

This leads to alast question. The nazirites, and James, Simon and Jude were nazirites, had an interest in getting rid of Jesus whose discourse could not be understood by the Jewish masses that were heavily influenced by naziritism and hence could easily be manipulated by the High Priests, Pharisees, Scribes and Herodians. So Jesus might have been gotten rid of by some in his own movement. We have to take this hypothe'sis into account, though Eisenman does not seem to do so.

Finally, and that will be my own personal conclusion, Paul appears to be an extremely intelligent opportunist who understood that the Roman Empire would be eventually confronted to the need of a unifying ideology or religion, an ideology or religion that could appear universal, and that the mythology that was in the process of being born (James seems to be one who advocated the permanent virginity of Mary, his own mother) could become the basis of a new religion that could satisfy that demand, be it only offered. Paul was going in the way history was going, though he does not appear to be very « kosher » about his means of action, but of course « kosher » does not apply any more to him who drinks wine, dinks blood, eats everything that is on the market including animals sacrificed to idols, etc.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's basically more of the same junk for people who deny the New Testament.


http://www.tektonics.org/books/eisenbrojrvw.html

This is a highly readable one thousand plus pages of text, and that is the only virtue I can find in this book. Allow me first to summarize a few of the highly counter-consensus points that Eisenman expects his readers to believe:

The Dead Sea Scrolls should be dated much later, to the time of the New Testament - but there is an academic conspiracy afoot to cover up that fact.

As for the New Testament, it was written very late - and used the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the works of Josephus (dated c. 90 AD) as sources. It is a far less reliable source than the Pseudoclementine Recognitions, which was a source for the NT: In fact, the story of Paul being surrounded by a bright light from heaven is merely a copy of a story in the Recognitions of the tombs of two brothers that were miraculously whitened every year.

The Gospels are too anti-Semitic to have been written by Jews; they were all written by Gentiles. Anti-Semitism stands out in such teachings as, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first” and “A prophet is never accepted in his own land and in his own hometown.”

Early Pauline Christianity is guilty of a massive conspiracy to cover up the role of James and the Holy Family in the early church.

Many events in the NT are adulterated overwrites of actual events. The election of Matthias to replace Judas is an overwrite of the election of James to apostolic office. The stoning of Stephen is an overwrite of the stoning of James by Paul’s command. Events have even been lifted from the works of Josephus and overwritten, then placed in the NT.

Many persons listed in the NT simply did not exist: Stephen, Judas Iscariot, the apostle James, and Zebedee the father of James and John. Nazareth probably did not exist either. Timothy and Titus are the same person, as are Silas and Silvanus.

Anti-Jamesian polemic is the point behind Paul’s analysis of those with weak faith in the Book of Romans.

The early Christians, the Essenes, and the Sicarii are all pretty much the same movement.

The probable genius behind the conspiracy was Paul’s companion Epaphroditus, who is identical with the Epaphroditus who sponsored Josephus and the Erastus mentioned in the Corinthian correspondence.

Other than that, there are many fallacies involved: Straw men, overreading of texts, outright errors, grasping at straws, semantic equivocations, and so on.

Shall we get into more depth? Indeed we shall, developing these points more specifically.

Admittedly, Eisenman is a professor of Middle-East religions and Director of the Institute for the Study of Judeo-Christian Origins at CSU, Long Beach. But Eisenman's critics are people like Hershel Shanks (editor of the Biblcal Archaeological Review), Daniel J. Harrington (see his article on the subject here, and his article in the Journal of Biblical Literature ("Qumran Cave Texts: A New Publication," v. 11/3, 1993), co-authored with Strugnell, criticizing Eisenman's earlier handling of translations of Cave 4 texts), William Stegner (senior scholar at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, whose review of the book in Christian Century (February 4-11 1998) makes the same charges against Eisenman that I do, in more detail. Most other scholars regard Eisenman as someone to be ignored.

Note as well that the issue here is whether the DSS should be dated later. No one of course questions that there have been in the DSS project (as there has been in any academic project with interests at stake) an even share of mistakes. But none of these mistakes have involved controversy over incorrect dating of the Scrolls.

Despite their other differences, and their various ideologies, the majority of scholars, including those actually working on the Scrolls (which Eisenman did not) agree that most of the Scrolls date to a time before the NT (150 BC-68 AD, with the ones key for Eisenman being in the earliest part of that range).

The "mishandling" of the DSS had to do with clashes of egos and personalities, with laziness, with funding problems for the project, with political problems (Arabs vs. Israel, etc.), with the speed of the publication, and with direct access to the papyrus -- but NOT with dating. The DSS have also attracted an inordinate number of odd theories, which has not helped (Zeitlin pronouncing them as forgeries; Allegro's "sacred mushroom" theories and his wild-goose-chase treasure hunt; Allegro and Eisenman both using unauthorized photos; Theiring's "reverse pesher" method).

But the issue of dating is one that is agreed upon by the majority involved, other factors notwithstanding -- and we may take special note that Eisenman was refused access to the DSS, because he "lacked training to interpret paleographic documents." Eisenman, despite his credentials, is in no position to comment upon the dates or the contents of the DSS; his translation source, Michael Wise, translated from photographs and had no access to the DSS themselves.

As Harrington notes, Eisenman and Wise "infuriated many of their scholarly colleagues by providing introductions, transcriptions, and translations for fifty Cave 4 documents. The problem was that they skimmed off the 'cream' of the Cave 4 texts and did their work badly: their transcriptions and translations are often inaccurate, and the introductions place the texts within a hypothesis that almost all scholars reject: that the Qumran scrolls came from the 'messianic movement' in Palestine that included Palestinian or "Jamesian" Christianity."
Also interesting is that the paperback edition of Eisenman's book quotes the venerable Kirkus Reviews as calling the book "Fascinating reading." Nothing else about the review is reported; the sentence itself says, "Eisenman's historical reconstruction makes for fascinating reading, but it never takes us beyond the realm of the merely plausible." That's verging on false advertising.
We have no copy of the Clementine Recognitions earlier than the third or fourth century. When Eisenman insists that they could be a source for the NT, he does so without so much as a shred of evidence. What matters, he says, "is the source underlying them," even if that source has no actual proof of existence outside of Eisenman's theorization -- no textual evidence, no scrolls, no quotes from early literature, nothing.

We are told that the Recognitions, along with other "Pseudoclementine" material, has "occsionally reliable material" [76] but no grounds are laid out for discerning what is or is not reliable, other than this: "Here one might wish to apply the doctrine of incongruity, that is, when a fact is considered poorly documented or for some reason flies in the face of obviously orthodox materials, this is sometimes good grounds, not for dismissing it, but for taking it more seriously than one might otherwise have done." [76-7] Thus for example we should give attention to Paul's attack on James recorded in the Recognitions because it is "just such a piece of astonishing material." [77]

In short, Eisenman has assumed a conspiracy from the start, and then arbitrarily selected as "reliable" whatever suits his thesis; what of other material that may be "astonishing," to anyone else? Is such a subjective criteria of any worth at all?
Eisenman's dismissal of Acts is quite rationalized and contradictory. In attempting to prove one particular overwrite, for example [593], he emphasizes "the precision of geographical detail" in the Recognitions (this meaning only, that the Recognitions say where in the Temple James fell from) whereas in Acts, "we have to do with disembodied spirits, tablecloths from Heaven, individuals supposed to be on their way to Gaza, but ending up in Caesarea instead, 'Ethiopian' eunuchs, 'a prophet called Agabus,' and similar flights of fancy."

It should be noted that "precision of geographical detail" (as well as political and historical detail) is overwhelming in Acts, as we have known and as even critics have acknowledged since Ramsey, and that the Recognitions have their own set of miracles (what Eisenman derisively calls "flights of fancy," which amounts to no more than an "it's a miracle so it didn't happen" skeptical argument, unchanged and no more useful since Hume). And really, one wonders what is particularly fanciful about an Ethiopian eunuch and a prophet named Agabus.

The bottom line is that Eisenman's case is founded on false premises. In addition, his familiarity with the literature available on Acts is non-existent; there is no sign that he is familiar with the works of Hemer, Witherington, or any others whose conclusions drastically affect his own, and at the very least need to be dealt with before he can be given credence.
I have noted that Eisenman considers Timothy and Titus the same person. Do we have hard data presented, like an inscription saying that Timothy and Titus are the same? No. Here is what we have:

On page 130, Eisenman merely says: "It is not always possible to distinguish this Timothy (in Acts 16:3) from the Titus in Galatians and other letters -- Titus is not mentioned in Acts -- just as it is not always possible to distinguish the individual Paul is calling Silvanus in his letters frim the Silas in Acts. Often the one is a Greek name; the other, simply the Latin. As with many other reckonings already encountered, these may not be all separate individuals."

On page 155 Eisenman mentions Titus and puts in parenthesis after his name, "identical with Timothy?"

On page 605 Eisenman refers to Timothy being introduced in Acts and says only that he is "probably identical" with Titus, and hints at a supposed parallel between a story in Acts where Timothy is circumcised and a reference in Galatians where Titus is said not to have to be (it is not clearly argued, but the premise seems to be that one story is a polemical thrust against the other).

On page 795 Titus' name appears with "Timothy?" in parenthesis afterwards.

On page 925 "Timothy/Titus" is referred to.

And that's it. There is not so much as an argument in any of this; the closest we get is one that is based on Eisenman's assumption that there must be a conspiracy afoot. The rest is merely declarative assertion. But this is part of Eisenman's larger paradigm in which he looks for names that look even the slightest bit the same (like James the son of Alphaeus and Cleophas) or looks for same-named individuals (like the several people named James in the NT) and collapses them into single personages. As a James myself, who has met many others in even my limited geographic area, I find this quite without credence.

In sum, there is little to recommend Eisenman's work, much less to recommend it over consensus and mainstream works on the same issues.

-JPH
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