Author Topic: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.  (Read 2825 times)

Offline Arvinger

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #45 on: December 24, 2018, 04:32:11 PM »
His contention would be that everything followed from the Christians' core belief that Jesus was the Messiah.  They weren't so much making stuff up as they were making stuff fit.  Believing foremost in Jesus' messiaship, it logically followed for them that Jesus must have originally been from Bethlehem if the book of Micah predicted the messiah would come from there.  As to precisely how this might've been arrived at, Ehrman would argue that the account which ended up in Luke (the census of Quirinius) was one explanation which made the rounds, even though it now appears to have gotten its dates mixed up, and been mistaken about people returning to their ancestral towns.  But because it fulfilled the prophecy, it was perfectly believable to anyone who already had faith in Jesus as the Messiah and who, in Luke's case, was compiling testimony for his gospel—or indeed, to anyone who was being evangelized and did not have the wherewithal to fact-check that gospel.  Anyway, whoever did come up with such an explanation in the first place was almost certainly not doing it in a cynical or deliberate fashion, since as you rightly point out, there was no earthly gain in being a Christian, only persecution.

I'm sorry Pon, but this just does not hold together. I guess you could argue that this sort of confirmation bias could be applied to converts to Christianity who were faced with already existing Scriptures or were taught by first Christians and could not check the facts and sources, but I cannot possibilty see how could it be applied to the Apostles and Gospel writers. Why? If what you say is true, the Apostles were essentially making up a new religion, in full knowledge that they are inventing bollocks, to which - as you concede - they had no incentives at all, since being Christian all you gained was persecution. An idea that they were "retrofitting" things in good will while sincerily believing what they taught is extremely implausible, since (assuming for the sake of argument that what you say is true) they were not merely trying to explain away some difficulties regarding Old Testament prophecies to fit them to what Jesus did (that is within the boundaries of what could have been done in good will as a result of sincere confirmation bias) - they were literally inventing a new and complex theological system with doctrines which were absolute novelty in the ancient world, and were in stark contrast to Judaism and pagan religions alike. Many of the things that are taught in the New Testament cannot be found in the Old Testament, and not all of them are not even explicitly stated in the teachings of Jesus himself - for example, St. Peter at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) makes a decision about not getting gentile converts to Christianity circumcized without any reference to the teachings of Jesus on this topic, Tradition or Old Testament.

In other words, what we are dealing with in the New Testament is not merely trying to explain Messianic prophecies from the Old Testament, which could be subject to confirmation bias. It is introduction of a new theological system, to which they were not forced by having to explain away Old Testament (so it is a different case than QMR, who is forced to make up his novel explanation of theistic evolution by Magisterial documents which explicitly teach existence of the first pair), which is not only opposed to paganism, but also finishes the whole system of Levitical sacrifices and seeks to convert Jews. When one introduces a new theological system with teaches thing that were never taught before, there are two main possibilities (barring cases of madness, etc.):

1) There is really a supernatural basis for this.

2) If there is none, that person knows full well that this is hogwash, because he is the one introducing this new system (the Apostles were not merely repeating what Jesus taught, St. Paul's epistles expand vastly beyond theology taught in the Gospels, addressing the issues which are not touched upon in the sayings of Jesus). That is the case with Muhammad - there is plenty of evidence in the hadith that Muhammad was shamelessly and cynically claiming to receive God's revelation to solve an immediate problem he faced (see the case of Zaynab bint Jahsh when Muhammad conveniently claimed that Allah revealed to him that the institution of adoption is abolished, so he could get away with marrying her). But the Apostles had no incentives to do that, and they certainly would have no incentives to die for something they knew to be a lie.     
« Last Edit: December 24, 2018, 04:42:34 PM by Arvinger »
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #46 on: December 24, 2018, 05:00:16 PM »
That is another part of it, and I addressed that in later part of my post - apparently St. Luke does not explicitly call Quirinus a governor of Syria (he calls him hegemon rather than legatus, which was an official title for a Roman governor), while St. Justin the Martyr refers to him as a procurator, indicating that Quirinus was involved in Syria also in other position than a governor, which makes another census during the time when he occupied a different position than a governor (procurator according to St. Justin) possible. Now, some object that there is no evidence for the 4th BC census in historical sources - to which I point out that St. Luke's Gospel in itself is a historical source, so to reject it as evidence for another census is to consider Scripture to be ahistorical a priori.

Yes, but St. Justin refers to him as "your first procurator in Syria."  Prior to 6 AD, Syria and Judea were separate provinces.   Herod ruled Judea, his reign commenced in 37 BC, and the Roman conquest was in 63 BC.  Did the Romans not establish the position of procurator in Syria until fifty years after the conquest, when Quirinius was around, c. 12-2 BC?  Because that is the only way Quirinius would be the first.  Whereas he was, factually, the first governor of Syria when the Jewish tetrarchies were annexed in 6 AD.

As to what Professor Ehrman believes about the gospel writers and the messianic prophecies, he doesn't contend that they consciously made things up.  His position is that they truly believed Jesus was the Messiah and therefore they believed He must have fulfilled the messianic prophecies.  Ehrman is operating under the commonly-accepted dating of the gospel composition, so he would have Luke written at around 100 AD, having proto-gospels (and, prior to those, oral testimonies) as the source material, hence discrepancies and dating errors.  He doesn't say that anyone is making stuff up whole cloth; he seems to say that in the process of transmission, various things get retrofitted by people with the best of intentions (or taking their inspiration from visions and dreams).  He would say that we have no historical way of knowing the record of how everything ended up in the gospels, just that it did.  As a thought exercise, consider the non-canonical and Gnostic gospels.  Those were different traditions that evolved in the same manner.
 

Offline Arvinger

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #47 on: December 24, 2018, 05:34:45 PM »
As to what Professor Ehrman believes about the gospel writers and the messianic prophecies, he doesn't contend that they consciously made things up.  His position is that they truly believed Jesus was the Messiah and therefore they believed He must have fulfilled the messianic prophecies.  Ehrman is operating under the commonly-accepted dating of the gospel composition, so he would have Luke written at around 100 AD, having proto-gospels (and, prior to those, oral testimonies) as the source material, hence discrepancies and dating errors.  He doesn't say that anyone is making stuff up whole cloth; he seems to say that in the process of transmission, various things get retrofitted by people with the best of intentions (or taking their inspiration from visions and dreams).  He would say that we have no historical way of knowing the record of how everything ended up in the gospels, just that it did.  As a thought exercise, consider the non-canonical and Gnostic gospels.  Those were different traditions that evolved in the same manner.

That is highly problematic for a number of reasons, and there are excellent refutations of Ehrman from (unfortunately, mostly Protestant - hardly anybody in the Vatican II Church seems to be interested in this sort of stuff) apologists.

1) It depicts false way of transmitting the data and oral tradition in Early Christian community. What Ehrman suggests is a scenario of Chinese whispers were in relatively short time the oral accounts are changed and become unreliable. But that is not the case, as demonstrated quite clearly by Richard Bauckham in his book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses - he illustrates this on the example of Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, who was getting his information about the events of the life of Jesus from the disciples of John the Elder and Ariston, which means that people directly associated with Jesus and/or his disciples were still the principal people in Christian communities who were responsible for transmission of oral tradition at the end of the 1st century - it was not the case of mass anonymous transmission and Chinese whispers. There are also numerous other types of evidence which Bauckham presents which demonstrate that the Gospels were written on the basis of eyewitnesses' accounts.

2) The New Testament was transmitted freely, i.e. anyone could copy the texts and nobody had control over this process, therefore any attempts to tamper with the text would be visible in the manuscript tradition (which is why Dan Brown's claims about Constantine tampering with the Gospel texts and inserting deity of Christ are so ludicurous).

3) I would say that dating St. Luke's gospel at 100 AD is quite liberal, there is no shortage of conservative scholars who date it much earlier, and there is good evidence of it - for example, in 1 Timothy 5:18 St. Paul apparently quotes Luke 10:7, identifying it as Scripture. Of course, you could argue that St. Paul did not write 1 Timothy, but the arguments to support that revisionist claim are really poor.

4) As I explained above, we are not talking merely about backwards interpretation of Messianic prophecies, but about introducing entirely new doctrines by the Apostles - in that case there is no way around the conclusion that Apostles were indeed making stuff up and big time so, in full knowledge that their new teachings are hogwash, to which they had no incentives.

5) None of the Gnostic gospels was written in the 1st century, unlike canonical Gospels - there is a major difference in their chronology and historical reliability.
 
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #48 on: December 25, 2018, 11:04:43 AM »
Greetings, Arvinger.  I need to make a retraction: Dr. Ehrman dates Luke at c. 85 AD, not 100 AD as I previously said.  I've learned a lot from watching his talks and debates on YouTube, but I apparently I misremembered that particular point—in talking about dating, he might've said something like "it could've been written as late as 100 AD."  So mea culpa.  I do like him, though.  Aside from his habit of wearing t-shirts with blazers (a casual "Miami Vice" look that somehow irritates me), I quite enjoy his presentation.  His voice has a tendency to get shrill and intense when he's making a point.  Had he not apostatized from his fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity and instead gone on to the ministry, it's a voice I could well imagine coming through on a weak-signal AM radio station, ranting about Tyre and Sidon, with a Southern grandmother in a rocking chair somewhere clucking quietly, "he is moved by the Spirit."

I agree with you that he requires some rebuttal; left to his own, he has a tendency to coast overmuch on his own suppositions (unfortunately, his opponents are often guilty of the same, and more so).  And you're right: in the Anglosphere at least, it is mostly Protestant biblical scholars who have made names for themselves in the field.  I suppose William Lane Craig would be considered the 800-lb. gorilla among them.  My favorite Ehrman debate is the one he and Craig had over the Resurrection, where Professor Ehrman was basically stating Hume's case from improbability, with all the added acumen of a bible historian.  The Catholic who I would most like to see Ehrman debate is Gerry Matatics.

Anyway, we may be going far enough afield where we need a Bart D. Ehrman thread, but without misrepresenting him at all, I can affirm that he does indeed find the transmission of the gospels faulty.  He would say that the greatest evidence for this is the fact that there are four different canonical gospels themselves, containing variations, discrepancies, and contradictions.  He would then point to the existence of competing gospels which evolved alongside the orthodox ones.  As early as the letter to the Galatians (c. 40-50 AD), St. Paul mentions "another gospel" being preached, "perverting the gospel of Christ": "if any one preach to you a gospel besides that which you have received, let him be anathema."  This was a Judaizing / Ebionite sect, whereas there was also a Gnostic movement contemporaneous with Paul, the Simonians, whose bishop was the Simon Magus mentioned in Acts and attested to by Ss. Justin Martyr and Irenaeus.  Whenever you want to date the composition of the Gnostic gospels is fine (and some scholars date Thomas earlier than Matthew, Luke, and John), but I don't know how anyone denies that Ebionite and Gnostic oral traditions and proto-gospels preceded those gospels in the same way as oral traditions and proto-gospels preceded the canonical ones.  The canonical bible itself admits that these groups were already up and running, at the very least orally, at the same time St. Paul was.

As for the Apostles introducing new doctrines, I might be misunderstanding you, but I don't think Ehrman's claim about adding pious fictions necessarily implies that.  As long as you start with a core of belief, things can get added without them being deliberately invented.  In the first century, religious people of all kinds were highly attuned to what QMR calls "the mystical faculty."  Dreams, visions, and prophecies were very much the norm.  To use a modern example, consider The Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta, which is almost a gospel unto itself.  For this discussion, it doesn't matter what we think of it—all we need to concede is that we wouldn't presume Maria Valtorta wasn't a sincere and believing Catholic.  Obviously she was.  She wasn't a swindler.  In terms of retrofitting the prophecies, Ehrman isn't ascribing malicious intent; you need only assume multiple Maria Valtortas having mini-revelations here and there which explained the fulfillment of this or that prophecy.  I'm not sure what necessitates anyone having "full knowledge that their new teachings are hogwash."  They would only have to add their own mystical intuitions into the oral stream.


« Last Edit: December 25, 2018, 11:53:58 AM by Pon de Replay »
 

Offline Arvinger

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #49 on: December 25, 2018, 12:11:08 PM »
As for the Apostles introducing new doctrines, I might be misunderstanding you, but I don't think Ehrman's claim about adding pious fictions necessarily implies that.  As long as you start with a core of belief, things can get added without them being deliberately invented.  In the first century, religious people of all kinds were highly attuned to what QMR calls "the mystical faculty."  Dreams, visions, and prophecies were very much the norm.  To use a modern example, consider The Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta, which is almost a gospel unto itself.  For this discussion, it doesn't matter what we think of it—all we need to concede is that we wouldn't presume Maria Valtorta wasn't a sincere and believing Catholic.  Obviously she was.  She wasn't a swindler.  In terms of retrofitting the prophecies, Ehrman isn't ascribing malicious intent; you need only assume multiple Maria Valtortas having mini-revelations here and there which explained the fulfillment of this or that prophecy.  I'm not sure what necessitates anyone having "full knowledge that their new teachings are hogwash."  They would only have to add their own mystical intuitions into the oral stream.

I disagree. Ehrman's argumentation taken to its logical conclusion does necessarily mean that early Christians were making stuff up in full knowledge that they are inventing hogwash. For example, Ehrman believes that Jesus sayings from the Gospel of John in which He explicitly claims deity were not original sayings of Jesus and were invented later (see Ehrman vs. Justin Bass debate Did the historical Jesus claim to be divine). That means some early Christians made these quotes up at some point, going against teachings and purpose of the ministry of Jesus - whether these were the Gospel writers, Apostles or other early Christians. That cannot be explained away through retrofitting things in good faith. I agree that retrofitting stuff in good faith can indeed occur in some situations - but once a person starts literally making up quotes which were never said and which contradict what Jesus taught (Ehrman denies that Jesus claimed to be God), a barrier was crossed (conscious fabrication of evidence) after which it cannot be claimed he merely deluded himself in good faith. But, as you concede, early Christians had absolutely no incentives to do that.
 
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #50 on: December 25, 2018, 12:30:51 PM »
Thank you for mentioning that debate, Arvinger; I haven't watched that one yet, but I did watch a presentation of his book, How Jesus Became God, so I know exactly the position of his you're referring to.  Now, Ehrman can no more know what Jesus originally taught than anyone else can; he can only make his best supposition based on the available evidence.  But granting for the sake of argument this position that Jesus did not identify himself as God, how does Ehrman's contention of later people telling a version where Jesus does identify himself as God differ from a Maria Valtorta or an Anna Catherine Emmerich relating episodes where Jesus speaks non-canonical dialogue?  We need not worry about whether Valtorta's or Emmerich's revelations are heterodox or not; it only suffices that they themselves believed them to be true.
 

Offline Arvinger

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #51 on: December 25, 2018, 12:48:20 PM »
Anyway, we may be going far enough afield where we need a Bart D. Ehrman thread, but without misrepresenting him at all, I can affirm that he does indeed find the transmission of the gospels faulty.  He would say that the greatest evidence for this is the fact that there are four different canonical gospels themselves, containing variations, discrepancies, and contradictions.

Except that this is gratutitous assertion - upon close examination the claims of so-called "contradictions" are based on logical fallacies. A classic example is a "contradiction" in regard to who found the empty tomb (different Gospels record different set of people). If I go to the restaurant with Pon de Replay, QMR and Michael Wilson and later write "I ate dinner in company of QMR and Michael Wilson", and later write "I ate dinner in company of Michael Wilson and Pon de Replay", is that a contradiction? Of course not - I just chose to highlight different people I spent time with. Other so called contradictions which I examined are based on logical fallacies as well.

Also, why would existence of four Gospels be a problem in terms of their transmission? They had a purpose - the Gospel of Matthew was written primarily for the Jewish audience (thus more events related to Mosaic Law and the Jews were recorded), while for example St. Luke's gospel was directed primarily towards Gentiles. They all had their audence and their purpose, the authors deliberately chose to emphasize different events from the life of Jesus. Ehrman's argument is like saying that information about terrorist attacks in Paris are unreliable because there are so many newspapers writing about it.

Quote from: Pon de Replay
He would then point to the existence of competing gospels which evolved alongside the orthodox ones.  As early as the letter to the Galatians (c. 40-50 AD), St. Paul mentions "another gospel" being preached, "perverting the gospel of Christ": "if any one preach to you a gospel besides that which you have received, let him be anathema."  This was a Judaizing / Ebionite sect, whereas there was also a Gnostic movement contemporaneous with Paul, the Simonians, whose bishop was the Simon Magus mentioned in Acts and attested to by Ss. Justin Martyr and Irenaeus.  Whenever you want to date the composition of the Gnostic gospels is fine (and some scholars date Thomas earlier than Matthew, Luke, and John), but I don't know how anyone denies that Ebionite and Gnostic oral traditions and proto-gospels preceded those gospels in the same way as oral traditions and proto-gospels preceded the canonical ones.  The canonical bible itself admits that these groups were already up and running, at the very least orally, at the same time St. Paul was.

Just because there are some groups which claim something does not automatically give each of those groups equal credence. There is no question that the Gnostic Gospels were written in the 2nd century, while the canonical Gospels are 1st century documents, much closer to the original events. Furthermore, contrary to the canonical Gospels, the Gnostic Gospels lack evidence for being based on accounts of eyewitnesses. Also, Gnostics had beliefs and have written things which Ehrman himself would reject as false - for example, the 2nd century Apocalypse of Peter denies crucifixion, which is an event attested also in historical sources outside the New Testament, as the Gnostic authors regarded physical sphere as evil and denied that Jesus had a physical body (and thus could not have been crucified). Even if such a claim has oral tradition which precedes the Gnostic Gospels themselves, there is no reason to give it credence, since these claims contradict not only Canonical Gospels, but also other historical records and views of Ehrman himself, and are based on Gnostic theology rather than historical accounts. Therefore, there are plenty of reasons to believe that canonical Gospels are more truthful and accurate than the later ones.


Thank you for mentioning that debate, Arvinger; I haven't watched that one yet, but I did watch a presentation of his book, How Jesus Became God, so I know exactly the position of his you're referring to.  Now, Ehrman can no more know what Jesus originally taught than anyone else can; he can only make his best supposition based on the available evidence.  But granting for the sake of argument this position that Jesus did not identify himself as God, how does Ehrman's contention of later people telling a version where Jesus does identify himself as God differ from a Maria Valtorta or an Anna Catherine Emmerich relating episodes where Jesus speaks non-canonical dialogue?  We need not worry about whether Valtorta's or Emmerich's revelations are heterodox or not; it only suffices that they themselves believed them to be true.

It does differ, because Valtorta and Anna Catherine Emmerich openly claim that what they saw was a vision (with all of its caveats - a vision can be false, but one can still sincerely believe it regardless), wheres the Gospels claim to accurately record real life events. Therefore, if Ehrman is correct, Christians who invented the quotes in which Jesus claimed deity made false claims about what actually happened - and these were most likely eyewitnesses (as Richard Bauckham demonstrates in his book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses - if you haven't read it yet, I highly recommed it to you Pon, Bauckham demonstrates wide variety of evidence, including those which regard to Gospel of St. John, indicating that they were written as direct recordings of eyewitnesses accounts). In that case you have eyewitnesses simply lying about what they saw or heard.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2018, 12:55:27 PM by Arvinger »
 
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #52 on: December 25, 2018, 02:49:34 PM »
I will add the Richard Bauckham book to my reading list; I received an Amazon gift card for Christmas so maybe it will make the cut.  I think there's some confusion as to the Gnostic gospels, though.  The insistence isn't that they are more historically accurate.  It's simply to point out the fact that Jesus existed and he taught, and various competing sects afterwards lay claim to his teachings.  The stories about what Jesus taught got modified, improved, or corrupted—whether from private revelation, pious supposition, or duplicitous intent.  We can't know with certainty to what extent each tradition compromised the original teaching; a precise account of how the gospels got transmitted is lost to history.  We simply don't know.  The canonical gospels could be and very well are the most accurate record of Jesus' teachings.  But even being the most accurate does not make them entirely accurate.  All Ehrman is saying is that whatever the original teaching was, it was added to by varying degrees, whether doctrinal, prophesy-fulfilling, or otherwise.  The non-canonical and Gnostic gospels are merely a thought exercise to illustrate how.  It's a difference of degree, not kind.  The Romans didn't differentiate between which strain of Christianity was orthodox and which wasn't, so anybody making anything up had nothing more to gain by doing so.  Every sect believed that it was the true one.

By the way, I agree with you (in part) that some of Ehrman's claims of gospel discrepancies are spurious.  Others I find compelling, but I think we're getting off-track from the OP.  All I can say for myself is that it's plausible to me that the nativity account in Luke is mistaken in its dates and particulars, and in that respect it might've been a retrofitting attempt to resolve the problem of the Messiah being born in Bethlehem.  I don't claim this with certainty; just that Ehrman has a strong case here, perhaps the strongest.  So when Xavier asks, "why don't you see these prophecies as being fulfilled?," such is my answer.

It does differ, because Valtorta and Anna Catherine Emmerich openly claim that what they saw was a vision (with all of its caveats - a vision can be false, but one can still sincerely believe it regardless), wheres the Gospels claim to accurately record real life events.

Yes, that is what the gospels claim, but there's no way to know whether the record that made it into the gospels is true or embellished.  Maria Valtorta and Anna Catherine Emmerich had their revelations long after the Church declared public revelation closed.  But a first-century Maria Valtorta would not have had that barrier (you're right in this: they do differ.  An earlier visionary wouldn't be restricted by those same constraints.  She could quietly have a revelation and slip it into the stream).  When compiling from an oral tradition and copied MSS, anything can seep in, especially when the span between the events and the composition is decades long, geographically separated, and linguistically different.

« Last Edit: December 25, 2018, 02:58:51 PM by Pon de Replay »
 

Offline St.Justin

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #53 on: December 25, 2018, 03:22:17 PM »
One point I would like to question is whether or not when you say teaching a different Gospel do you mean a Gospel such as Luke or do you mean just oral teachings? You seem to be inter mixing the two and then arguing for the dating as if they are the same. Gnostic 2nd century Gospels are a fact just as there were Gnostic teachings before that but they are two different things. Also just to be clear there were Gnostic Jews before Christianity came to be
 

Offline Arvinger

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #54 on: December 25, 2018, 04:46:04 PM »
It's simply to point out the fact that Jesus existed and he taught, and various competing sects afterwards lay claim to his teachings.
Sure, but we can evaluate these claims on the basis of evidence for their historical reliability or lack of thereof, and thus reject some why accept others. 

Quote from: Pon de Replay
The stories about what Jesus taught got modified, improved, or corrupted—whether from private revelation, pious supposition, or duplicitous intent.  We can't know with certainty to what extent each tradition compromised the original teaching; a precise account of how the gospels got transmitted is lost to history.  We simply don't know.  The canonical gospels could be and very well are the most accurate record of Jesus' teachings.  But even being the most accurate does not make them entirely accurate.  All Ehrman is saying is that whatever the original teaching was, it was added to by varying degrees, whether doctrinal, prophesy-fulfilling, or otherwise.

You wrote that "being the most accurate does not make them entirely accurate" - except if these texts are indeed inspired by God who preserved them from error. It looks like you a priori decided that these texts are not inspired and cannot be entirely accurate. Which is precisely what Ehrman believes - he argued at least in one of his debates that historical research must be done from naturalistic standpoint. In other words, he rejects the possibility of supernatural, including inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, a priori, thus begging the question. That is perhaps the greatest weakness of his argument - if the Gospels are indeed inspired and inerrant, Ehrman's a priori naturalism makes it impossible for him to arrive to truth.

Furthermore, how do you know that things were added to the original teaching? Is there any evidence for that, or is it another presupposition? Are there any examples of manuscripts of Gospel of St. John without Jesus' claiming divinity which prove these things were added later? Also, it seems to me that when talking about "transmission of Scripture" you mix up the reliability of the contents of Scripture and accurate transmission of the text. While you can argue against the former, the latter is robust and hardly questionable. Scripture was transmitted freely, which means there were multiple lines of manuscripts, which makes it impossible that the text was tampered with - nobody was physically able to gather and amend thousands of manuscripts circulating around Mediterranean. Any such attempt would stand out in manuscript tradition. Ehrman himself admitted that if you compare the most different manuscripts of the New Testament, there will be no doctrinal differences, you will get the same teaching.   

Quote from: Pon de Replay
The non-canonical and Gnostic gospels are merely a thought exercise to illustrate how.  It's a difference of degree, not kind.  The Romans didn't differentiate between which strain of Christianity was orthodox and which wasn't, so anybody making anything up had nothing more to gain by doing so.  Every sect believed that it was the true one.

How does the issue of Gnostic gospels influence reliability of canonical Gospels? The difference in historical and manuscript evidence supporting these two groups of texts is massive.

Quote from: Pon de Replay
Yes, that is what the gospels claim, but there's no way to know whether the record that made it into the gospels is true or embellished.

Are there any specific reasons to doubt it, other than naturalistic presuppositions excluding or doubting the possibility of supernatural a priori? It looks like hyperscepticism to me - you could as well say that there is no way to know whether the record that made it into Tacitus, Herodotus or Livy is true or not, but most historians accept these sources as reliable (and the earliest manuscripts of works of these historians are much, much later and much fewer than the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament - Ehrman himself admitted that the New Testament is the best attested work of antiquity in terms of transmission of the text). Ehrman's position taken to its logical conclusion means throwing away all ancient texts as unreliable.

Ehrman was once asked what it would take for him to believe that Gospe lof Mark was really written by Mark and is reliable as to transmission of the text - he answered something along the lines of "10 manuscript copies written no later than 6 months after the original manuscript, all signed by Mark". That is ludicurous and is outside of any meaningful standard of historical research.

Quote from: Pon de Replay
Maria Valtorta and Anna Catherine Emmerich had their revelations long after the Church declared public revelation closed.  But a first-century Maria Valtorta would not have had that barrier (you're right in this: they do differ.  An earlier visionary wouldn't be restricted by those same constraints.  She could quietly have a revelation and slip it into the stream).  When compiling from an oral tradition and copied MSS, anything can seep in, especially when the span between the events and the composition is decades long, geographically separated, and linguistically different.

Again, there is a difference between someone who claims to have a vision (a vision automatically carries all sort of possible difficulties) and someone who claims to be an eyewitness of a real-life event - the first one might believe a false vision in good faith (there are limited possibilities of verification of a vision), the latter who manufactures false quotes which were never said is just straight up lying. You can't manufacture false quotes and events in good will.

Also, once again you seem to imply the Chinese whispers scenario, which was simply not the case as evidenced by the example of Papias and his sources which I discussed earlier - as late as the end of the 1st century BC disciples of the apostles (perhaps even St. John himself, if Papias' John the Elder is Apostle John indeed) and people directly associated with them were still authorities responsible for maintaining oral tradition among Christians, it was not a mass anonymous transmition of oral tradition when anyone could add anything to it, as Ehrman implies.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2018, 04:51:32 PM by Arvinger »
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #55 on: December 25, 2018, 08:32:11 PM »
One point I would like to question is whether or not when you say teaching a different Gospel do you mean a Gospel such as Luke or do you mean just oral teachings? You seem to be inter mixing the two and then arguing for the dating as if they are the same. Gnostic 2nd century Gospels are a fact just as there were Gnostic teachings before that but they are two different things. Also just to be clear there were Gnostic Jews before Christianity came to be

I don't know if Paul was referring to a written gospel or an oral gospel; I don't think anybody knows.  He only says that a false gospel was being preached.  In any case, he doesn't seem to be referring to Gnostics in Galatians, but rather Judaizers or proto-Ebionites, since the dispute in question centers around circumcision (and presumably, adherence to the Mosaic Law). 

That a form of Gnostic Christianity, on the other hand, existed contemporaneous to Paul is partially attested to in Acts, where the Simon Magus mentioned there is later said to be the same Simon who led the first-century sect carrying his name, the Simonians.  The earliest attestation for this comes from your namesake, St. Justin Martyr, so factor in a separation of fifty to sixty years.  It appears to have originated in some sort of "sex magick" cult between Simon and his girlfriend, and developed into the weird Gnostic movement called Simonians (this comes from later Church Fathers).  There are no extant gospels or texts from these people, but they nevertheless appear to have existed for a century or two if the Fathers are to be believed.  The extant Gnostic gospels are from a different strain of Gnosticism; as you indicate, this movement probably grew out of pre-Christian Jewish Gnosticism, and then grafted itself onto the Jesus narrative.  The Gospel of Thomas, if early, would stand as the first-century Gnostic gospel.  The dating there isn't resolved.
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #56 on: December 25, 2018, 08:45:31 PM »
You wrote that "being the most accurate does not make them entirely accurate" - except if these texts are indeed inspired by God who preserved them from error. It looks like you a priori decided that these texts are not inspired and cannot be entirely accurate.

Peace be with you, Arvinger.  I did write that and I still believe it.  I honestly do not know if the gospels are "indeed inspired by God who preserved them from error."  I can't determine that a priori any more than I can determine whether the Quran or the Gita are.  A priori, I can only proceed not being sure if they are or aren't.  Apart from attaining faith once more, I don't know how I would make the determination.  All I can say is that if there is ever a restoration of the Catholic Church, Bart Ehrman better be among the first burned at the stake because to my lights he is most persuasive in, at the very least, inculcating doubt as to the question of inerrancy and divine inspiration.  I thank you for the book recommendation, the lead to the YouTube debate, and your patience; this has been an interesting Christmas exchange but at this point I'm going to politely "Michael Wilson it" and concede that I've said pretty much all I can say.  Paz.


« Last Edit: December 25, 2018, 08:51:32 PM by Pon de Replay »
 
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Offline Xavier

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #57 on: December 29, 2018, 01:45:18 AM »
Sir William Ramsay was an Oxford educated archaeologist and former skeptic who lived about a century ago; after a lifetime of study and of discovery, he had a spiritual journey that led him to the Catholic Church. Since we are speaking of St. Luke, this is what he said after studying Luke-Acts for life, and being a pioneer in his field, "[Saint]Luke is a historian of the first rank. Not merely are his matter of fact statements trustworthy, but he is possessed of the true historic sense ... in short, this author ought to be placed with the very greatest of historians" https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Mitchell_Ramsay see

"Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, FBA (15 March 1851 – 20 April 1939) was a Scottish archaeologist and New Testament scholar. By his death in 1939 he had become the foremost authority of his day on the history of Asia Minor and a leading scholar in the study of the New Testament. Although Ramsay was educated in the Tübingen school of thought (founded by F. C. Baur) which doubted the reliability of the New Testament, his extensive archaeological and historical studies convinced him of the historical accuracy of the New Testament.[1]"

When he first went to Asia Minor, many of the cities mentioned in Acts had no known location and almost nothing was known of their detailed history or politics. The Acts of the Apostles was the only record and Ramsay, skeptical, fully expected his own research to prove the author of Acts hopelessly inaccurate since no man could possibly know the details of Asia Minor more than a hundred years after the event—this is, when Acts was then supposed to have been written. He therefore set out to put the writer of Acts on trial. He devoted his life to unearthing the ancient cities and documents of Asia Minor. After a lifetime of study, however, he concluded: 'Further study … showed that the book could bear the most minute scrutiny as an authority for the facts of the Aegean world, and that it was written with such judgment, skill, art and perception of truth as to be a model of historical statement' (The Bearing of Recent Discovery, p. 85). On page 89 of the same book, Ramsay accounted, 'I set out to look for truth on the borderland where Greece and Asia meet, and found it there [in Acts]. You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian's and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment...'

See also the Catholic Encyclopedia 's articles on each of the Gospel accounts and their nature as eyewitness biographies. The one on St. Luke-Acts mention some of Ramsay's work. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09420a.htm

Evangelizing souls and their own spiritual journey leading them by the grace of God to come to Jesus Christ can sometimes be a life's work.

Evangelism/apologetics aimed at helping Jews or others come to Christ has its place, but above all it is the Holy Spirit and His Grace that brings souls to Christ, whether by these means or others known to Him only.

Anyway, since it's Christmas season, we remind ourselves that the prophecies have a happy ending. St. Paul the Apostle in Romans, and St. Cyril and the Fathers, tell us one day, after the Gospel is proclaimed in every Gentile nation, Jerusalem will one day return to Christ and have peace. The Jews will be converted and astonished at the riches they will find in Christ.

"Saint Cyril of Alexandria says this: “Towards the end of time, Our Lord Jesus Christ will effect the reconciliation of His former persecutor Israel with Himself. Everybody who knows Holy Scripture is aware that, in the course of time, this people will return to the love of Christ by the submission of faith…. Yes, one day, after the conversion of the Gentiles, Israel will be converted, and the Jews will be astonished at the treasure they will find in Christ” (Commentary on Genesis, Bk. 5). https://catholicism.org/ad-rem-no-310.html

In prophesies of the Saints and in private revelations, too, the King and Queen of Prophets seem to indicate that the time for this great event now draws near. Saintly Sr. Catherine Emmerich said, "The Jews will return to Israel, and become Christians toward the end of the world". Ven. Fr. Bartholomew Holzhauer, in his commentary on the seven churches of the Apocalypse, understands these to represent seven Church ages. The sixth Church age, which will be preceded by an apostasy and a figure of anti-Christ appearing, will finally begin with the conversion of the Jewish people to Christ, and a period of peace - as confirmed in Fatima as the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart.

In more recent locutions, Our Lady is reported to have said it will be a Pope's martyrdom for Christ, laying down his life in sacrifice for the Jews and for all people, that will finally bring the Jewish nation to enter the Church.

MARY: "A moment will come when I will take my beloved son, the Pope. I will walk with him to Jerusalem. For the second time I will go to Jerusalem to witness the death of a son.

When this happens the eyes of the Jewish people will see for the first time. They will see in the Pope’s death what the Catholic Church has done for them. There will be no mistake about which Church has blessed them, because it will have been done by the head of the Church and by the greatest of sacrifices. Israel will embrace the Catholic Church.

All Catholics will welcome Israel because all will have seen the decision of the Holy Father (the bishop dressed in white) to offer his life for Israel. The union between the Catholic Church and Israel will be a union of hearts brought about by the events that the whole world will have has seen and can never forget." https://maryrefugeofholylove.com/locutions-to-the-world/the-importance-of-jerusalem-prophecies/
Mary, our Heavenly Mother, implores those who receive Holy Communion Daily, or at least Weekly, to Offer their Lives. TEXT OF THE LIFE OFFERING, adapted and pluralized: Dear Lord Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with Your most Precious Blood and Your Sacrifice on Calvary, We hereby Offer our whole Lives to the Intention of Your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Together with our life, we place at Your disposal all Holy Masses, all our Holy Communions, all Rosaries, all acts of consecration, all our good deeds, all our sacrifices, and the suffering of our entire life for the Adoration and Supplication of the Holy Trinity, for Unity in our Holy Mother Church, for the Holy Father, Pope Francis the First; and for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. For His Eminence Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, His Excellency Metropolitan Hilarion, as well as His Eminence Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, that they may re-unite their flocks with the Catholic Church, and there may soon be but One Fold and One Shepherd. For all the 220+ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for all 5500+ Bishops of the Universal Church that they may be true Apostles and Shepherds; and for the 400,000+ Priests, the 700,000+ Nuns, 50,000+ Monks, 100,000+ seminarians, that they may all become the Saints the Divine Will wishes them to be; we pray for good Priestly and Religious Vocations, and for All Souls until the end of the world. O my Jesus, please accept our life Sacrifice and our offerings and give us Your grace that we may all persevere obediently until death. Amen." https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/ Please pray this daily and you and your family will be saved. You will avoid Purgatory.

Daily Morning Offering: O my God, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary,  I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus from all the Altars  throughout the world, joining with It the offering of my every thought, word, and action of this day. I desire to gain every Indulgence and Merit I can, offering them, together with myself, to Mary Immaculate, Whom Thou hast appointed the dispenser of the merits of Thy Precious Blood, especially by means of this Scapular  [Here kiss your Brown Scapular] that She may best apply them to the interests of Thy Most Sacred Heart. Amen.

Consecration to Our Blessed Mother: My Queen, my Mother! I give myself entirely to Thee, and to show my devotion to Thee I consecrate to Thee this day, my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being without reserve, Wherefore, good Mother, as I am Thine own, keep me, guard me, as Thy property and possession." http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/morning-offering.htm

"I am the Lady of the Rosary. Pray the Rosary (i.e. 15 decades; 5 decades is a part of the Rosary) every day to obtain Peace for the World." ~ Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima.
 
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Offline Arvinger

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #58 on: January 06, 2019, 02:14:24 PM »
Peace be with you, Arvinger.  I did write that and I still believe it.  I honestly do not know if the gospels are "indeed inspired by God who preserved them from error."  I can't determine that a priori any more than I can determine whether the Quran or the Gita are.  A priori, I can only proceed not being sure if they are or aren't.  Apart from attaining faith once more, I don't know how I would make the determination.

I understand and appreciate your position stated that way. I just wanted to point out the contrast between it and your earlier posts - you say that you don't know whether the Gospels are inspired or not), yet earlier you made an unqualified statement that "the stories about what Jesus taught got modified, improved, or corrupted—whether from private revelation, pious supposition, or duplicitous intent.". Well, if you don't know whether the Gospels are inspired or not, it follows that you don't know whether the stories about Jesus were modified, corrupted etc., for their inspiration (which you declare yourself agnostic about) would entail that they were not and the Gospels are indeed accurate. Therefore your judgment about corruption of stories about Jesus is inconsistent with your agnosticism on the issue of inspiration.

Quote
I thank you for the book recommendation, the lead to the YouTube debate, and your patience; this has been an interesting Christmas exchange but at this point I'm going to politely "Michael Wilson it" and concede that I've said pretty much all I can say.  Paz.

Thank you for the exchange and greetings for you.
 
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Messianic prophesies: proof of God's foreknowledge and Providence.
« Reply #59 on: January 07, 2019, 03:51:49 PM »
I just wanted to point out the contrast between it and your earlier posts - you say that you don't know whether the Gospels are inspired or not), yet earlier you made an unqualified statement that "the stories about what Jesus taught got modified, improved, or corrupted—whether from private revelation, pious supposition, or duplicitous intent.". Well, if you don't know whether the Gospels are inspired or not, it follows that you don't know whether the stories about Jesus were modified, corrupted etc., for their inspiration (which you declare yourself agnostic about) would entail that they were not and the Gospels are indeed accurate. Therefore your judgment about corruption of stories about Jesus is inconsistent with your agnosticism on the issue of inspiration.

Thank you, Arvinger.  Just to clarify, the statement about Jesus' teachings being "modified, improved, or corrupted" isn't inconsistent with agnosticism.  At the very least, you and I both agree that a changing of the Jesus story was certainly the case for the non-canonical and Gnostic gospels.  All one needs to find are variations of a narrative to know that the original story has been altered.  After that, the only thing to remain agnostic of is whether the original story has been faithfully transmitted, and if so, which account contains it.  Of course, we would respectfully differ where the canonical gospels are concerned.  Indeed, I'm agnostic there as to inspiration, and I do observe variations between the four.  Pax.