How to Decide if Something in the Bible Might be True or Not.

Bart Ehrman, a New Testament scholar, has a methodology for deciding the probability of any part of the NT is fact or fiction.

We have to remember even with Ehrman’s methodology, there is still scant evidence of what happened a couple of thousand of years ago.

Ehrman uses three factors to judge the authenticity of stories in the NT.  First, the earlier the writing was done, the more likely a story reflects something that actually happened.  Again, it is not a guarantee.

Second, does the story come from multiple threads of story telling, or just one?  If the story seemed to come from more than one source, the more likely it is accurate.

Third, and this one requires some sophisticated thinking, does the story provide the propaganda the story tellers wants to leave with the reader or not.  Ironically, if the story does not provide the desired propaganda, the more likely it is to be accurate.

There are a couple of examples where these principles can be applied.  One is the resurrection of Jesus.  It is not included in the earliest account of the Jesus story nor does it have separate independent sources.  And, in enhances the propaganda that Jesus is a God. These make the resurrection unlikely.

Another is are the statements attributed to Jesus proclaiming he is a god. They don’t appear in the earliest Gospels, only in the much later one, John.  Jesus probably did not say this.

How Jesus Became God. Bart Ehrman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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94 Responses to How to Decide if Something in the Bible Might be True or Not.

  1. Henry says:

    Ehrman is not independent. Therefore, with this lack of independence as the atheists say, we cannot rely on what he says.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Henry 11:54 “Erhman is not independent.”

      He works for a state university, not one funded by either a church or an atheist organization.
      I know you have not read any of his books. If you are interested in hearing anything directly from him, here is a recent podcast about 20 minutes long where he is interviewed by someone critical of him.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzMVbpswHus&list=PLMCt15e8gG-g7t7wo9MCq9KSDSsvGNcsm&index=36

      • Henry says:

        Errman has his agnostic bent. By some of the atheist’s recent rules, we have to throw his opinions out, as he is not “independent”. Your team’s rules. Perhaps you are trying to grant an exception for yourselves?

        http://redriverfreethinkers.areavoices.com/2014/04/11/ancient-parchment-with-jesus-wife-comment-found-to-be-authentic/#comment-337782

        • entech says:

          As with the comment at 4:14 you are saying things in the hope that someone might find them relevant, you are just making it up.
          As I tried to explain the point I was making was that it is a bit dishonest to refer to your own body of works, large and impressive as it is, as “Manuscripts” while calling the other bit as a scrap of parchment (actually papyrus) when the oldest known thing from your collection is itself only a scrap “no bigger than a credit card”.

          Actually you are starting to remind of Lenin or was it Goebbels, if you keep repeating a lie it becomes truth.
          Interesting the way you make it all a turnabout because it is you that tries to decide the rules, that decides what people mean instead of what they say. The main rule is that if it does not agree with the Henry deciphering of the meaning behind the scriptures it is wrong.

      • entech says:

        Jon, downloaded both parts for later listening. Heard about half of his Trinities 001 Introduction. I think I might go through his stuff a reasonable and sensible presentation which will provoke some thought.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          I just reread Fr. James’ link that supposedly skewered Bart Ehrman. What a typical establishment I-know-it-all article.

          It claims Jesus said things in the synoptic gospels which he did not actually say. But, if one knows how to read them, the priest writes, one can see Jesus said things he did not say. The Priest/author explains Jesus was “implicitly affirming”, “implied”, “affirming” that he was God even though he did not say he was God. The Priest agrees that when we get to the book of John Jesus is quoted differently, actually saying he is a god and was a god way back at the beginning of creation (instead of at his conception, at his birth or at his resurrection).

          I don’t see why it is self evident that when Jesus is not quoted as saying something, he is actually saying it anyway. If anything is self evident, it is that when he is not quoted as saying something, he did not say it. Bart Ehrman makes the argument that the voice of Jesus was portrayed differently as time passed because later writers wanted to attribute different ideas to him than earlier writers did.

          Since we’re all guessing as to who the main character, Jesus, was in these stories, the actual words attributed to him are at least as valuable in understanding the story as inserting opinions of Priests as to what he said.

          • entech says:

            The entire piece was very much based on the theme of it is wrong if I don’t agree with it, if it goes against the Catholic interpretation and even worse if it goes against my interpretation of the Catholic interpretation.

            I will be glad when we get back to the time zone changes again, I stay up too late if there is something of interest.
            Good night.

          • Fr. James says:

            In other words you don’t care for Fr. Barron or the Catholic refutation of Bart.

            Btw, it seems I am not being “moderated.” If so, am I the only one? If so, then I suspect I am being invited to leave the blog. If so, that is so typical of the open minded freethinking liberals of the day.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Fr. James “it seems I am not being moderated.”

            A.) Nothing you have written has been altered, except the time or two you requested something. B.) You are not being asked to leave this blog. In fact, I am asking you to keep posting here.

          • entech says:

            F.J. @7:09
            That is even further from reality than usual for you. In effect you are saying I am not being censored therefore you don’t want to hear what I say.
            We all love to hear (or read for the pedantic) what you have to say you make a better case for doubt than “The Atheist” ever could.

          • entech says:

            P.S. I suggest you look up the difference between refute and disagree.

          • Fr. James says:

            I posted something and it said that the post was being held for moderation. Given the hostility here that did not surprise me. I will keep posting while I have time.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Fr. James 4:53 “I posted something and it said that the post was being held for moderation. Given the hostility here that does not surprise me.”

            Whenever a regular poster like yourself puts on a link, the post almost always gets sent automatically into a moderation file. That is because this site receives about 500 spam messages a day, nearly all of them have links to advertising, etc. so they to directly to the spam filter. If people who have posted before attach a link, it goes into another file requiring my approval. I approve as soon as I am on my computer, which sometimes is not for a few hours.

          • Fr. James says:

            I see. I understand the spam issue. However, given the liberal love of censorship my suspicions are understandable.

          • entech says:

            Yes the the addition of links and the automatic ‘moderation’ can be annoying sometimes, especially in the middle of a conversation when the reply comes several hours too late to be relevant.
            Not quite sure how it works sometimes the post goes through straight away, certainly a link on its own with no text goes straight to the spam folder, sometimes if there is more than one link.

            PS. Given your paranoia your suspicions are understandable, sorry about that jibe, just a bit of tit for tat, liberal love of censorship. I wonder if you will ever make a post without feeling the need to put someone down?

    • entech says:

      Definition of INDEPENDENT
      1: not dependent: as
      a (1) : not subject to control by others
      . .(2) : not affiliated with a larger controlling unit

      b (1) : not requiring or relying on something else : not contingent
      . .(2) : not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct
      . .(3) : not bound by or committed to a political party

      c (1) : not requiring or relying on others (as for care or livelihood)
      . .(2) : being enough to free one from the necessity of working for a living

      Merriam-Webster _ dropping other uses as in independent variable etc.

      a. I think it is fair to say that he is well enough established that he could change publishers in a flash. His views do not seem to affect his employment as professor of religious studies.
      b. Maybe dependent on others criticising to increase popularity, plausible but not likely.
      c. Tenured employment and probably prosperous enough from book sales.

      The only thing I can think of here is with that brilliant creationist logic:
      he doesn’t agree with me therefore he is wrong.
      his ideas are not dependent on the same sources as mine there for he is not independent :???: (I am sure this true in Henry speak, but as usual I can’t be certain)

    • entech says:

      PS. Henry is dependent on scripture so we can rely on what he says. At least as much as we can rely on Scripture :lol:

  2. Avatar of Mac Mac says:

    Semi-casual observation: Those who work to prove some specific portion of the bible true seem to have the primary goal of proving someone else wrong.

    • Henry says:

      Does that include Errman, Lindgren, and Mac? Probably not. You folks seem to grant yourself the exception to the rules that you expect others to follow.

    • entech says:

      Interesting observation, I do think though that the likes of Jimmy and Henry actually like to think everyone else is wrong.

  3. Wanna B Sure says:

    “Ironically, if the story does not provide the desired propaganda , the more likely it is to be accurate”. Key word; “desired”. “Ya, da mor I don’t likeit, da mor it are”. Dat’s purty sofistikated. Dat Ehrman musta ben to da mofie Fargo too den. Dat’s a hole lota ironing.

    • entech says:

      For the sake of a poor little foreigner could you repeat that in English.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Jon unnerstandit, he from Fargo too.

      • entech says:

        I knew that I should have known better. About the usual level of sense.

        • Wolfy32 says:

          It’s stereotypical Fargo speak. Sometime Entech if you want to see what the world thinks of this neck of the woods, I’d suggest watching the movie Fargo. It was actually filmed in Minnesota, and has a high emphasis on Norwegian roots. And emphasizes the stereotype of “Fargo people are naive and dumb.” Or Norwegians are, I’m not sure which, that gets lost in the movie.

          There’s now a TV series called “fargo” I have it recorded, can’t wait to see what 15 years does in terms of how the world views us now…. I’m going to guess we’re still naive, dumb, Norwegians.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            Sadly if Father James and Henry are in the Fargo area.. Well, they live quite well up to the stereotype so far based on what I’ve read…

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            About, “talking Fargo”, I was in downtown Des Moines, IA, last weekend in a line of cars waiting to pick up a granddaughter after school. When my car moved slowly to the front where the children and teacher/monitor were, the young fellow looked at my license plate and said, “Ya-you-bet.” I wondered how anyone there would properly say this is one word like we do here. Then he shouted to my granddaughter, “Julianne, your grandpa’s here, don’tchaknow?” When she opened the door he grinned and said he was at the ND airbase in Minot for two years.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            Wow… Coming from an Iowan? heh. Speaking of stereotypes… He should talk. :)

          • Henry says:

            Wolf:“Sadly if Father James and Henry are in the Fargo area.. Well, they live quite well up to the stereotype so far based on what I’ve read…”

            Wolf, you are always long on smears and short on specifics even though you greatly ramble.

            Do you have any relevant content to discuss? Please be specific and concise.

    • Wolfy32 says:

      In some ways I agree with the statement, if the writing goes against much of the society, culture, and beliefs at the time, the writer wouldn’t have been writing it to get something out of it. Granted, it is a tool in today’s world to get attention. Ever see a questionable politician all of a sudden throw up his stance on abortion… Bam. Everyone starts thinking about that, and no one has to care what he really believes. However, back in the ancient times, being ostrasized, probably meant death, so, I can’t see someone willingly trying to alienate himself from everyone. It’s possible at the same time, not healthy.. lol.

      So, if they wrote it knowing they would be chastized or cast out for writing it, it was probably a more believable truth. Makes sense to me. That’s not to say we can account for people that just wrote controversially for the fun of it.

      So, wanna, what is your method to determining what is true or not? I have no issue reviewing other options. I had a catholic nun tell a university classroom that the book of Job was most likely not to be taken literally at least parts if not all of it. What rules or guides do you use to determine if something is literally true or metaphorically true?

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Can’t really tell you. The parameters as laid out, would determine the conclusion by what is “desired”, and I would not want to be responsible for bringing anyone to the opinion they wouldn’t want, in spite of their desire.

        • Wolfy32 says:

          Nice summary, I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic or serious though. Heh. If it’s semi serious it’s definately a respectable and truthful answer. With our current development and technology, we are still unable to prove much, and that which we can prove is too controversial at a societal level to accept it as truth. (Whether it’s for or against biblical outcomes).

          In other words, no matter what methodology is determined as being fairly useful. Society will reject it. It’s a way of life.

  4. Adam Heckathorn says:

    “Another is are the statements attributed to Jesus proclaiming he is a god. They don’t appear in the earliest Gospels, only in the much later one, John. Jesus probably did not say this.”
    (John 1:18) No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is at the Father’s side is the one who has explained Him.
    If The Apostle John believed in The Trinity wouldn’t He have written this a little differently? The fact that millions of people have read this scripture accepted it as authentic and believe Jesus is God with a capital G May tell Us nothing of the nature of God but it certainly tells Us something about the Human process of thought.To be clear if no One has seen God but many have claimed to have seen Jesus then either Someone has seen God or Jesus isn’t God. Religious belief is certainly convoluted.

    • Wolfy32 says:

      Just believe and the convolution goes away… But, if you choose to just believe, you must choose to believe a certain way or risk damnation…. So, believe carefully!!!

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        Again I’m tempted to post what was voted the greatest religious joke of all time! But instead I’ll post the link. http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2005/sep/29/comedy.religion

        • entech says:

          The version I remember was much shorter, set in Ireland where even the atheist have to catholic or protestant, the punch, “jump you proddie bastard”.

          What was interesting in the article was the talk about the government plan to ban “offensive religious jokes”, this was about ten years ago so I guess it never happened and hopefully never will. It does show that when you hear people talking about the religious being tolerance and worried about persecution and so on and on and on – it does show that religion is an offensive joke.

  5. Jesse says:

    Hi. Just an observation. It appears that there are a lot of cheap shots that are taken by both opposing sides of the ongoing atheist vs. believer argument. It would also appear that for anyone to take either of your views seriously you should knock off the vitriolic attacks and childish attitudes. Grow up and start acting like rational mature human beings.

  6. Jesse says:

    Here’s one example, Wolfy32-”Sadly if Father James and Henry are in the Fargo area.. Well, they live quite well up to the stereotype so far based on what I’ve read…”

    Do you need more?

    • Wolfy32 says:

      I’m not going to apologize. heh. Most of our statements are in jest and most are aware of that. In fact, one person just last week revealed that he said the things he did to troll us and to derail discussions and nothing he said was represenative of his actual views.

  7. Jesse says:

    How about just behaving civilly?

    • entech says:

      Have you read the posts of those two? Father Jim especially, I sometimes think those two are atheists in disguise trying to give religion a bad name

      • Jesse says:

        I’m not picking sides here. I’ve seen the posts that you and your opponents make. You’re like little kids playing tit for tat. I’ll take the opinion of the person that takes the high road anytime over the person that has to result to insults because that’s all they’ve got left to argue.

        • entech says:

          Half serious half in fun, there are some that post occasionally that I do try and have a serious conversation with.

          This is actually a fairly civilised blog compared to some I have seen. If you want real nastiness you should see some of the comments on you tube videos, If anything Christians are worse than non, for example,”let me know your address and I will see you get to hell sooner than later” and the language ?

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Jesse 1:55 “You’re like little kids playing tit for tat.”

          Posting and reading here is an art form only some enjoy. It’s not for everyone. Many discussion sites have moderators that decide what is too blunt and unkind–I’m the admin of this site and I just let everyone have at it.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            The first time I stayed up at My Dads with My Wife Kari My Dad and I had a normal conversation. (A normal conversation to My Dad would seem quite debate like to an observer.) I can’t remember what it was about but it probably started with something like “That maybe the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard come out of Your mouth let Me tell You why”. It could have been either one of us stating a conversation like that and I never thought twice about it. My Wife took Me outside and told Me You can’t speak to Your Father like that! To which I replied “What do You mean?” She then pointed out why She felt My speech was disrespectful. I did change My approach but a conversation with Dad is one where If Your going to make a statement You’d better be prepared to support it and defend it because Dads probably going to have an opinion and there’s a good chance He’s read and thought some about it. I remember one discussion talking about evolution where Dad said “These TV Preachers talk about Origin of Species and it’s always obvious They haven’t read it”. I started talking about the reasons to consider life was created and He cut in “Have You read it”. There is a fine line between debate and insult and it can be kind of gray I wince at at what is written here some times and I try not to argue My point by saying It’s obvious You’re an Idiot so I’m right by default. To moderate by editing is to have less than a free debate. Those posting here I disagree with most often occasionally have some points that lead Me to look at things differently. Even a Blind Pig gets an Acorn once in a while (Said tongue in cheek).

  8. David says:

    Jon,

    Erhman’s theory makes sense. What I think atheists generally fail to understand is that the religious are not trying to determine what is probably true. They already believe a truth – regardless of the religion. The same can be said for Erhman and any other atheist. It is really too much to ask any human not to form a belief on God. Some may choose to not think about it, but if one does think about it, then they will form a belief. The belief is based upon a myriad of items. One could look at Erhman’s list and say that this is how I’m going to form my beliefs. Yet, if one has already reached a conclusion, which is usually the case, then it serves more as confirmation bias. For the religious this is no different. Once you have a belief then everything is going to serve to confirm your bias until perhaps the overwhelming weight of evidence pushes one away from that belief. I don’t think Erhman’s analysis is that sort of overwhelming evidence.

    I mean one could use his theory, but it doesn’t make the truth any less true. So for some if you say that it is a one in a million chance, they may say – this is it. This is the one, and they may be right. The guy winning the lottery doesn’t look like a fool. The guy buying the lottery ticket might.

    With regard to Erhman’s last point, I understand where he is coming from. However, I think he’s got his thumb on the scale a bit. In other words it seems to suit his purpose. If a holocaust survivor describes the holocaust they are going to have a certain point of view. Their point of view, or propaganda, only serves to stress how important the subject is to them. An ancestor of a holocaust survivor may also have a certain point of view, but we would likely give them more credence because we believe the underlying story of what happened. We may not give a holocaust denier the same luxury because we don’t believe their story. I think it’s just as hard to divorce belief when analyzing the biblical text for the agnostic/atheist.

    • Wolfy32 says:

      David I totally agree with you. It’s a concept called perception. What one perceives is their truth. The problem with human perception is it isn’t always accurate.

      Let’s take a simple scenario of a husband and wife in a minor car accident together. Both in a car and both in the front seat. Required to be buckled. The police officer comes over and says to the husband were you wearing your seat belt. The response is a firm a yes without thinking. The officer looks down and sees no seatbelt, and the man believes he may have absently removed his seatbelt. Well, there’s a witness, the wife, maam, was your husband wearing his seat belt and he just took it off. She says a firm no, I never saw him put it on.

      What if the fact which is now lost, is that he was indeed wearing his seatbelt, he had forgotten he took off and his wife more worried about the accident assumed based on the facts at present he never put it on.

      The fact he was wearing it disappears and the truth becomes what everyone but the husband believes. It’s what the cop believes based on fact and eye witness account. It’s what the wife believes based on her perception.

      Belief in this case despite provable facts- at present no seatbelt worn, is contrary to reality.

      Writers, write things from their perception and understanding of things. It is very possible they assumed the audience (considering their audience was for everyone 1500-2000 years ago based on their socioeconomic and cultural changes happening at the time) knew things that we as readers of today don’t know or don’t have the “common knowledge” that the readership and priests would have had then.

      Is it possible the general audience knew Christ never came back to life and everyone knew that, but, it made for a great story, thus getting people to be a part of retelling the religion? Did people know things about the writers, desciples, that we don’t know now?

      Was there common things written about that we have no idea what it was actually meant to accomplish. Yet, we try to interpret it and apply it to today?
      Was revelations meant to be a prophecy or coded message for those fighting against Rome in ancient times? Or was it a prophecy meant to come true sometime in the future or neither? It was just a good sci-fi story?

      Without the writer know the truth? Yet, every Christian says that the bible is the truth, the way, the light? Yet, how can we know what truths were lost over time? I suspect the writers would consider how interpret the bible to be blasphemy and a complete violation of all their works.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      David 2:24 Good post. I agree Ehrman’s way of analyzing what was meant in the Bible is not the last word and has some of the fingerprints of his, and the circle of scholars who approach it the same way.

      My reason for discussing lot of his writing is that its a different from what I see as a conventional approach. He is trying to differentiate exactly what is said one place in the Bible, and closely as possible when it was written, from what was said elsewhere and when that was written.

      If we start with the assumption the Bible was written by people, not a god, for people of that time, not of today, with the goal of persuading them of some specific idea, we come out with a different conclusion than assuming it was written by god for today. We can’t absolutely prove beyond any question which is the case, but both assumptions should be on the table when we discuss what the Bible is about.

      • David says:

        I generally agree. I don’t necessarily agree with Erhman’s application of his principle. He piles a lot of assumptions to get where he’s going, albeit some are generally agreed to. The source of biblical material is difficult with some theories gaining traction. The order in which the books were written is essentially a theory based upon the fall of the temple, which never really made sense to me, but scholarly people seem to think it is pivotal. Also interpreting the bible is pretty hairy stuff – at least in my opinion. The authors have a definite point of view which may be trying to convey certain things, but perhaps because they were unfortunately omitted in a previous version – or maybe the author wrote independently of the other version. It is all an understandable discipline with which to engage, but I’m not certain that we end up closer to the truth from a non-spiritual sense. So many questions . . .

        For instance I never really understood why Luke is dated later than Mark. I know it has to do with the business of the fall of the temple, but it seems weird to me that Luke wrote the gospel at the same time he wrote Acts – maybe – but that Acts doesn’t include Paul’s death. I understand the whole line of thinking of Mark being a source for Matthew and Luke. Perhaps Luke thought Paul’s death was embarrassing or maybe he just didn’t know about it? Or maybe Acts was written before the gospel of Luke? It likely makes little difference, but it brings up questions in my mind.

        • Wolfy32 says:

          I’ve been a fair number of sermons where the focus was on the letters Paul wrote to the churches. Telling the churches what to do. If I remember right The letters were in Corinthians and outside of Paul several letters to churches in the beginning of Revelations.

          I guess what I’m confused on is if this is during the time when Christ was around or shortly thereafter. What churches existed? Or did Churches just pop up out of the blue?

          Was the beginning churches a combination of pagen beliefs and then this newfound belief in Christ? How did the buildings get built and paid for. (Not talking the sistine chapel, but, around the time of Christ). Jesus went to the people didn’t require them to come to temples. So, were Jewish temples converted to Christian temples, or how did christianity migrate into Europe to be as powerful as it is and get completely rejected by the place of origin. The mideast.

          • entech says:

            Don’t worry too much about it Wolfy, just a part of the collection of great mysteries. Coming after freewill this is the catchall for the things which confuse us.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Wolfy; A good starting place for the answers to your questions would be for you to get Schaff”s “History Of The Christian Church”, 8 volumes. Loaded with tons of footnotes, and references. Vol. one should answer most of your questions today. Followed by Vol. 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity AD. 100-325. Much of which is unknown to those of the now post reformation period. It is good that you should ask.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wolfy32 “I’m confused on if this is during the time when Christ was around or shortly after. What churches existed? Or, did the pop out of the blue/”

            The answers to these are not always agreed upon. I don’t consider myself an authority, but I’ve read several books on these questions in the last decade. They don’t all agree.

            I think there is general agreement Paul started walking about the area a decade or so after Jesus’ execution. He went to a city, maybe preached on street corners to hung out in the places where trade took place and found a few people. He must have had “services” in homes. I’ve read estimates of a dozen or two dozen people constituted a “church”. Eventually, Paul moved on to another city and wrote letters back to those maintaining the one he just left.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Actually, Paul went first to the Synagogues. “house churches”, much like today’s house churches. They eventually developed a congregational polity.

          • entech says:

            And Paul eventually became an embarrassment to the synagogues and was thrown out, becoming Paul the Apostate. Once the movement became separated from Judaism it lost the protection of being a recognised religion and that is when the persecutions started.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            That is true. Once the Jews rejected the Christ, it was a natural progression.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            I think that’s the source of my issue. Paul was rejected… By his home people. So, instead he went to where he’d be accepted. I guess, I feel that if God were backing him, saying hey Paul, go to my people and you will convert them for me. Then, why would God be like “Oh btw, forgot to tell you, not those people, they won’t accept you. Go to these people over here, they will.”

            Umm?? Anything wrong with that logic? heh.

          • entech says:

            I prefer to think that the majority of Jews did not want the false Messiah imposed on them.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Not so much an embarrassment, as a challenge/ threat. Much like before Christ was killed by the Romans. Yet it attracted many.

          • entech says:

            And, as your good friend Father J would say it is all a matter of interpretation. :)

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Wolfy @ 2:05. Anything wrong? yes. He was doing start up churches, left someone in charge, then moved on. Unlike Baptists and AG, where a pastor does a start up, and stays.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Entech @ 2:05. That’s probably true. Observant Jews still don’t. Cultural Jews could care less one way or another.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Entech @ 2:06 rather, “the declaration of the Magisterium.”

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          David 8:03 “I generally agree. I don’t necessarily agree with Ehrman’s application of his principle. He piles a lot of assumptions to get where he is going, albeit some are generally agreed to.”

          A take on Ehrman I agree with. In a perfect world, perhaps each of us would lay out our individual assumptions before we passed judgment on this stuff. It would be a fun exercise to do this. Here are a few of mine, not pondered deeply but taken off the top of my head just now:

          1. The Bible was written by ordinary, but wealthy and highly educated people, without any assistance from a higher being.
          2. The Bible was recopied by hand countless times and changes were made.
          3. It was written to advance the authors’ own, or their groups’, self interests at that time.
          4. No one took any notes on what Jesus said. Quotes of Jesus are a combination of oral history and fabrication, we can’t be certain which is which.
          5. Customs, myths and cultural practices of the time influenced heavily what was written.

          That enough for the moment. Anyone care to share their assumptions?

          • entech says:

            1. The suggested assistance or inspiration from a higher being presupposes the existence of a higher being. The establishment of the existence of this higher being needs to be a prerequisite for taking any of seriously. Without the God of Abraham it is just a collection of myths and magic with some history, written down during the Babylonian exile and completed on the return to Judea, Judea is the rocky desert bit that no body really wanted (compared to the desirable hills of Israel with their olive groves and good grazing), written to glorify the people and at the same time excuse some of the atrocities committed in some of the supposed victorious battles – just obeying the orders of this higher being.
            2. I think quite a lot of the changes were not deliberate, although some would have been deliberately changed because the original would have been considered to be “in error”. As the copying was a pretty boring sought of job, probably tiring and hard on the eyes multiple errors and mistakes crept in, in correcting these things the current thinking would have played a part in the “correction”.
            As well as that comments and thoughts written in the margins eventually became incorporated into the text and became “as if” original.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Talmud?

          • Wolfy32 says:

            1. My assumptions is the writings made the writers more educated and wealthy. I find a common denominator between the story of christ and the modern day fiction fantasy writers. The common thread is the main character is usually a “Nobody” from backwoods no where. In this case, Christ a poor carpenter from a young family just starting out. And his followers all lowlife scum. Makes the story easy to relate to the poor and uneducated.

            2. The writers had to have some type of official backing to fund their endeavors to write it out.

            3. My assumption is the bible covers a combination of real and metaphorical events that most likely didn’t play out exactly as they were written. (just due to the limitation of Human perception.)

            4. Authority / respect is given in multiple ways, Jesus had been given a great authority / respect in the writings, therefore anything having been said by him was given more authority. A literary device to command authority. It’s better if Abraham Lincoln said something than if Bob the speech writer had written it for Abraham Lincoln.

            5. I believe there’s events written that the writers maybe understood and tried to convey beyond what their sponsor told them to write. I also believe there’s things written about that the overall sponsors at the time didn’t take time to understand. I think they were like many managers of today, just get something written and get it out. The writers maybe wrote about real events, but, the events themselves are so strange and questionable, that it’s much like eyewitness accounts of UFOs. People are interviewed and swear on their soul what they saw. They know what they saw, but, no one saught to try to understand what the biblical writers wrote about, just that they wrote the basic tenents and content.

            6. My assumption is that some governing body wanted the biblical manuscripts to tie together. When initially, they were all independtly written manuscripts. Stories, and articles that were more or less meant to stand alone. So, the canonical bible was forced to be this mirage of nicely tied together writings. Which, resulted in a very ambiguous text that has around 7 billion interpretations.

            7. I believe the original scripts / authors, had political agendas and goals. One of those goals, once they realized they had lost, was to somehow make sure that the legend lived on no matter what. Which was self serving for them. They wanted to know their lives weren’t wasted.

          • entech says:

            Talmud (literally, “study”) is the generic term for the documents that comment and expand upon the Mishnah (“repeating”), the first work of rabbinic law, published around the year 200 CE by Rabbi Judah the Patriarch in the land of Israel.
            I was thinking more 500 or 600 years B.C.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            You said “written down during the Babylonian exile”.

          • entech says:

            I meant started to be written down and completed on the return to Judea
            I was thinking of the Jewish Bible, not sure wher you got Talmud out of it.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            “Babylonian exile”

    • entech says:

      Very difficult to stand outside of yourself and see things with total objectivity. I do remember after leaving school falling away from the religion I was taught for many years and eventually coming to the conclusion that the Bible was just another thing to be considered along with history and geography and the relationships between them. What has this stuff from over there got to do with me I would think. I guess this has shaded my thinking ever since.
      Erhman seems to have reached his position after a lot of work, starting as a true believer.
      If history is written by the victor then it is possible that as the early movement developed an orthodoxy the dominant factions decided what was to be included and what left out, it is possible and likely that some changes crept in to make the story more closely conform to the new orthodoxy.

      • David says:

        I agree with regard to objectivity. The only objective person is the one who knows he is subjective.

        • entech says:

          The best you can do is try to understand your beliefs and the basis for them,many are so deeply ingrained that it is hard to explain even to yourself.
          The most important thing you need to do is ‘try’ to understand what is justified and what is just biased thinking.

      • Wolfy32 says:

        I think that’s what separates Christianity from historical truths.

        It is well known fact that history is generally written by the victor. Not saying it’s completely wrong or inaccurate, but, definately has a huge bias as to who the “good” and “bad” characters were. All a matter of perspective. However, Christianity lost… So, it had to be bigger than life to win.

        It’s one of those outliers that more or less won by losing.

        • entech says:

          History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there.
          George Santayana

          Never truer than about Biblical History.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          “However, Christianity lost…So, it had to be bigger than life to win.” It’s been said that the winners write the story. Sort of convoluted? Well, if that works for you, go for it.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            Very good point. I feel that it lost, in terms of they lost their leader, were rejected by the jews, and in turn, had to manipulate people to try to win. When the bible was written, the writers were losing. At least the little we know about history, I think it’s a valid assumption.

            The only chance the writers had of winning was to give the public a super hero. One that couldn’t be killed and one that could do everything humans couldn’t.

            Given those powers because the superhero was killed and didn’t fulfill his destiny. Given those powers out of desperation to win.

            Just my opinion. I may be completely wrong. I do believe there’s more to the universe and powers that be, however, to say that Christ was anything more than a David Koresh or Jim Jones, or all the other cultists that have cropped up throughout history. I don’t know. All I do know is there’s 99.99999999999999% of the universe that is still completely unknown to us and is there a possibility there is something that has any knowledge or care about this lowly planet we call Earth? There’s a chance. Did the writers have inside knowledge of whatever is out there? Not sure about that. They had human goals in mind.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            There’s a word for all that. “spekulasion”. (Of course, I could be wrong on the spelling). Smilie face, one eye open.

  9. H.P.D says:

    Jesse
    If you are interested in joining the conversation, in my opinion I think you should read the blog say from January. Then you will have an idea just who are the bloggers and where they are coming from, it makes it for more fun to just read or participate. If somebody says someway half way intelligent generally they don’t get attacked by the opposition. Like the comment David just posted, the non believers will read it and take it all in and think about it. (David is a believer). We do have our resident attack dogs, and one attack bird “The Mud Hen” the bird can be quite vicious then we have “Grout Boy” who will attack the Mud Hen when ever it is possible. We do make it interesting and will come to each others aid when opposition starts to pile it on, with Jon’s help.

    • David says:

      H.P.D. – that was kind of you. While I get riled up just as much as the next guy, I try to keep the snark to a minimum as it is generally unhelpful and only goes to prove that one is so confident in our position as to avoid argument. I fail often. That’s part of a blog I think.

      I do think the value of the blog is forcing people to think about things in a new way. Also it challenges us, or at least it should, to re-examine our positions whether it be religious or political. Forcing yourself to explain your position to those who don’t share it will make you a better writer and better thinker. I like that challenge, and it forces me to re-think positions and ideas all the time. Sometimes my opinion changes. Probably too much information, but in short I value the commentary on this site.

      • H.P.D says:

        Your on way to be a freethinker what ever that is. At least you’re continually reevaluating, consolidating, refocusing, constantly repositioning your views, putting them in a different light, your becoming a thinking man, not a mouth piece for the establishment. Who knows where this will take you, at least you are on the road, taking the journey

      • Wolfy32 says:

        David, it’s nice to see a down to earth Christian that isn’t so rigid on his or her own views. I don’t think any of us want Christians to give up their faith. However, I know for myself, it’s very healthy to question things and not just take them at face value. In questioning everything, I’ve been able to find what was human and emotional manipulation, and what may be more real than what the “righteous” would have us believe.

        I do believe there’s something more. Many other Christians have represented the person I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be that person that says you’re wrong I’m right and that’s final.

  10. Fr. James says:

    The resurrection is attested in the earliest documents in the 1st century and in multiple documents. On the third point Bart labels as propaganda anything he disagrees with, which pretty much makes it useless. It is basically Bart’s magisterium that decides on the basis of his own prejudice. Not very scholarly and it dismisses the best evidence on nothing other then his own whim.

    Again I refer you to:

    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/3072/why_jesus_is_god_a_response_to_bart_ehrman.aspx

    • David says:

      Thanks for posting. I have heard Jon’s argument before, but I’ve always thought that Mark’s writing seemed to beg the reader to conclude that Jesus is God. Also, Mark’s ending doesn’t exactly leave the reader with a point of the story unless they essentially include the added material. I think this is Mark’s style of writing generally. He doesn’t hit one over the head by explaining his jokes – so to speak.

  11. Fr. James says:

    Some other responses:

    Even Colbert, no conservative, smacks Bart around:

    http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/2009/04/son-of-duck.html

    http://www.truefreethinker.com/articles/bart-ehrman%E2%80%99s-problem-part-1

    http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/p96.htm

    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/whos-afraid-of-bart-ehrman

    http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/jesus-interrupted.php

    http://orthocath.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/book-review-misquoting-jesus-by-bart-ehrman/

    Just a view from a variety of perspectives. Bart is not infallible, although I find Jon’s faith in him rather touching. Again I recommend Pope Benedict’s books as a far better source, if you have the courage to read them.

    • entech says:

      Would you consider Benedict to be a neutral and independent observer, without a biased position? Not writing from a particular viewpoint?

      • H.P.D says:

        Jimmy seems more likely to be more like Benedict IX in disguise

      • Fr. James says:

        Benedict doesn’t pretend he has a neutral perspective. However, he takes on the critics in a fair manner. Bart pretends his bias is scholarship and Jon eats it up.

        I am probably the only one on this blog who actually is a scripture scholar and an expert on Christianity. None of you have my education in religion. Jon reads a book that he knows agrees with his bias and is suddenly an expert on the Bible. He refuses to read anything that contradicts his opinions. That is not scholarship. Nor is it freethinking.

        • entech says:

          You are a self confessed highly educated expert on Christianity, yet you seem to have nothing to say except how Catholicism is the only correct form. You have an immediate attack mentality starting with how “the atheists” hate the Catholics and more lately it is also about how ‘the protestants’ hate the Catholics. A pity than none of your ‘multiple degrees’ didn’t have a lecture or two on self reflection.
          I would invite you to consider that the hatred you say you “feel” is not directed at you but is a projection of what you yourself feel for others that are not in total agreement with you and Ratzinger.

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