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Stephanos
Deputy Moderator 1 Tour
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since 07-31-2000
Posts 3496
Statesboro, GA, USA


75 posted 03-02-2005 09:43 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Raph:
quote:
Elucidating texts makes the church's views sound definitive, they are merely interpretations that serve their particular interests.
By no means are they definitive interpretations, the continued debate amongst christian factions/historical/biblical scholars
is proof of this. Your church's 'elucidations' are the 'heresies' of another. Consider for example, Marian doctrine or the argument of
Jesus having siblings.


Despite differences in interpretation, the Church (universal) has been in essential agreement about the core doctrines of Christianity, including the historicity of the gospels and the death and resurrection of Jesus.


And anyway, not all "beliefs" among Christian groups hold the same weight of support.  For example, certain Marian doctrines must be supported by RC tradition alone, with little (if any) support from the historical texts of the Bible.  So again, each claim must be examined in turn.  The fact that there has not been unanimity about the texts of the Bible, does not invalidate it.  Just like every other discipline has been subject to the manifold opinions of men.  But some opinions still remain better than others, no matter what field of study.


And the idea that ALL interpretations are only differing means to power and control, is not a view that I accept.  As far as I can tell, that's the conclusion of much of postmodern Linguistic philosophy.  But under that umbrella, even your own interpretation needs to be chalked up to a purely personal agenda.  


Regardless of the often questionable motives of men, there remains the possibility of honesty, and the evaluation of historiography.  So let us talk about real methods to determine whether a hypothesis may be sound, rather than pointing to disagreement in general to discredit the other side.  By doing that you only end up discrediting many claims that you yourself consider to be true.  Overly general argumentation ends up as it's own casualty ... a victim of "friendly fire".


quote:
When historical evidence suggests, and the church's admission verifies, a policy of destroying and suppressing 'heretical' texts (heretical being anything that did not fit into the rigid interpretations of the church) the potential for deception greatly increases. The Roman Catholic church's monopoly and suppression over the dead sea scrolls is evidence enough of how the church reacts
to any threats to it's dogma.



The Church used standards for the canonization of scripture ...


1) Authenticity (was apostolic authorship (or someone who knew an apostle) verifiable?)

2) Catholicity (was it widely accepted and used by the Church as a whole, as opposed to being recongnized only in isolated segments?)

3) Orthodoxy (did it line up with what the Church understood to be apostolic doctrine?)


There is no evidence that the early church suppressed the truth, to establish dogma.  Rather, it protected the truth it had received in the form of dogma.  


All of the pseudepigraphal writings failed the above tests for canonicity.  The fact that you are suppressing is that THEY ARE ALL STILL AROUND for anyone to see why and how they failed the test.  If the church was so good at eradicating heretical texts, why are there so many of them in existence today?  I just want to establish that the alleged texts you keep mentioning about the ďearly sectĒ have never been found, nor have they ever been documented in other works as having been found.  They are theoretically presumed by you ... based upon charges against the Roman Catholic Church at a much later date.  I personally wonder what proof you have of the "thousands" of documents that the RC Church destroyed in later times.  But even if those charges were true, it would not incriminate the "Pauline" Christians.  Or at least, youíve failed to give a reason as to why it should.  


These alleged "early documents" would have been quite numerous and at least as difficult to round up and destroy as the pseudepigraphal works were.  When a few people, in contrast to the larger community, promote error (like the pseudepigrapha), it is difficult or impossible to contain because of the copying and dispersion of texts.  Thatís why the Church chose to make proclamation about which works were genuine and which ones weren't, rather than try to destroy them all.  But how much more difficult to contain would written works be, if they represented the knowledge of a larger community whose writings were being opposed and destroyed by a smaller group?  And that's exactly what you are proposing!  Was a comparatively smaller group of heretics able to stamp out without a trace the genuine writings of the first Christians, and then to become the majority, without anyone writing anything in opposition?  You have more faith than me.             


quote:
While I agree, each allegation should be examined in turn, it's difficult to do when countless texts have been destroyed and knowledge of
their contents lost or hidden. Call it of profiling, but in the case of the church, where there's smoke there's fire, too often, literally.



Again, what can you cite me, that would give reasonable attestation that the Church has destroyed "countless texts", with the knowledge of their contents "lost or hidden"?  Thatís a big allegation.  It requires more than just saying it is so.  At the very least, I suspect you are greatly exaggerating.  But I'm open to what you can point me to, to verify your claims.  Iíve never been one to make light of, or deny the faults of churchmen through the centuries.  But understand that this is an entirely separate issue from the honesty of those who dealt with the earliest documents ... the early Christians, or the "Pauline" Christians as you would call them.


quote:
Tell me, had their been definitive evidence linking the scrolls to the early sect, do you honestly believe the church would release it, toppling
2 millenia of power and spiritual authority?



Tell me, had there been definitive evidence linking the scrolls to the early Church, do you honestly believe that I would be so opposed to your theory?  All you would have to do is point me to this evidence.


Honestly, I believe that the nature of the connection would be such that the church couldn't cover it up, even if it desperately wanted to.  There would have been ample expression from the early community that couldnít have been quieted or contained.  The early Christians would have reacted against the "Pauline" heresy with great zeal.  As I explained before, if the Church couldn't eradicate the pseudepigriphal documents (but instead had to officially define and declare what is and is not divinely inspired scripture), itís hardly likely that they could have done so with the alleged early Christian documents.


quote:
Nor is time an issue concerning authenticity. Let's deal with time first. The
span of time between the editing and release of a modern book, cd or film is miniscule in comparison to the events that lead into the NT.
Yet, the difference in the original or intended works and those released are often colossal. How many overzealous editors and producers
have altered works to soothe or appease certain groups and their pandering publishers? It is not at all unreasonable to assume that the NT works did or could have been edited to suit specific views or targets.



Nor is time an issue concerning authenticity?  Historians disagree with you.  I already discussed their standards, and how the amount of time between extant copies and the original events, IS a consideration when authenticity is in question.  

But you originally said : " Until original transcripts or historical documents are found the questions will always remain."


Now if you say that time doesnít matter, then certainly a lack of original manuscripts doesnít matter either.  My only point in saying what I did, was that the absence of original manuscripts is not the reason for doubting the integrity of any other ancient text.  In fact there are many undoubted as to integrity, whose extant copies are much farther removed from their time of writing, than the documents of the New Testament.  Do you agree with this?


quote:
As for the Illiad it's a valid point, regardless of non-autographed versions or the passage of time, doubts on the authorship of its ending and allegations of editing or additions were based on tone and inconsistencies. Allegations that can and have been leveled against the NT books.



No the Illiad is not a valid point IF we are still talking about a lack of original manuscripts.  But if youíre talking about going beyond your original contention that I addressed, then yes, it is valid to consider. But, if The Iliad is questioned because of ďtone and inconsistenciesĒ, you need to demonstrate that the New Testament should be also doubted because of itís own problems with tone and inconsistency.  You havenít done that yet.


I just wanted to say that as far as manuscript attestation goes, the New Testament has no match in the world of ancient literature.  It was a proper thing to clear out of the way first, since you brought up the lack of autographs as a possible source of doubt.  If you want to move on to other contentions you might have (of internal evidence), then by all means do so.  


quote:
No, but they're not mere similarities Stephanos. The biggest difference between the flood stories is simply the amount of gods
involved. But let's look at the similarities:



And I maintain that they ARE, or at least can be mere similarities.  Consider the legends of Romulus and Remus written by Livy and Plutarch, written between 30 B.C. and 100 A.D.  



- When Romulus and Remus were born Amulius took them and put them into a basket and threw them in the Tiber river, hoping they would drown.


- They were rescued by a wild wolf, who fed the babies with her own milk. A woodpecker also helped and fed them berries.

- They were later rescued by the shepherd Faustulus and his wife who raised them as their own sons.


- Romulus killed Remus with an axe in a quarrel.  Romulus later founded the city of Roma.


- The legend ends by telling how Romulus was carried up to the heavens by his father, Mars,  


Note that there are more than a few striking similarities between these legends and writings in the Jewish Old Testament:  Moses was placed in a river in a basket.  Elijah was fed by ravens.  Pharoah's daughter found and raised Moses as her own.  Cain killed Abel in a fit of anger, and afterward went and founded a city called Nod.  Elijah was carried up into the Heavens in a Chariot of fire.  


But youíll not find anyone linking the Jewish Old Testament and the Roman Legends of Romulus and Remus.  hmmmm.  Seemingly obvious similarities, do not always indicate borrowing.

But then again, I have no problem (since I view the universal flood as an historical event) with accounts of the flood being passed down through several veins of oral tradition, and therefore being manifest in more than one cultureís writing.  This to me, would seem to verify the historicity of a large-scale flood, since many cultures have a similar flood tale passed on by oral tradition.  So bottom line, there may be a common event as the source of the accounts of Gilgamesh and Noah.  But then again, the similarities do not in themselves indicate literary borrowing, because there are significant differences as well.  And like the myth of Romulus and Remus demonstrates, a text may have remarkably common themes as, and yet be totally unrelated to another earlier work.


Stephen.
Aenimal
Member Rara Avis
since 11-18-2002
Posts 7451
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76 posted 03-04-2005 03:10 PM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

quote:
Despite differences in interpretation, the Church (universal) has been in essential agreement about the core doctrines of Christianity, including the historicity of the gospels and the death and resurrection of Jesus.


Essential agreement, not total agreement.  And consider the  'heretic' beliefs, like Arianism and Socinianism before them, that exist in christian denominations today. Jehovah's Witnesses,Unitarians and Mormon's for example, all strongly reject church doctrine and interpretation.

quote:
The fact that there has not been unanimity about the texts of the Bible, does not invalidate it.  Just like every other discipline has been subject to the manifold opinions of men.  But some opinions still remain better than others, no matter what field of study.


Nor does church doctrine validate it. Indeed, some opinions remain better than others, we disagree on which ones those would be.

quote:
Regardless of the often questionable motives of men, there remains the possibility of honesty, and the evaluation of historiography.


I've often stated my belief that the gospels, or some of their contents were whitewashed for a roman audience, especially events of the crucifixion, an assertion you would deny. Let's look at the events of the crucifixion on an historical level, specifically the blame of the Jews and the exoneration of Pilate and the Romans as a motive.

First, let's begin with the trial before the Sanhendrin in the house of the high priest. Haim Cohn, former attorney general/member
of the Supreme Court of Israel and expert on historical law, listed 6 reasons revealing why the trial described couldn't have taken
place:

1. Sanhedrin could not, and never did, exercise jurisdiction in the house of the high priest or anywhere outside the courthouse
and the temple precinct.

2.  no session of the criminal court was permissible at night, criminal trials had to be conducted and finished during the daytime

3.  a criminal trial was not allowed to take place on the eve of a feast day, nor on the feast day itself, and the setting is Pesach or Passover.

4.  no man might be found guilty on his own confession.

5.  a conviction must proceed from the testimony of at least two truthful and independent witnesses, giving evidence both as to
the commission of offence in their very presence, and as to the knowledge of the accused that the act was punishable by a particular
penalty.

6.  the offence of blasphemy is not committed unless the witnesses testify that the accused had, in their presence, pronounced the ineffable name
of God, the tetragrammaton which might only be pronounced once a year on the Day of Atonement by the High Priest in the innermost sanctuary
of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Kodesh Kodashim.

ďThe apparent violation of all rules of procedure and all provisions of the substantive criminal law, furnishes the propounders of the Jewish trial theory with the well-nigh conclusive argument that both the trial and the sentence were illegal. But so far from disproving their theory, this illegality only adds infamy and opprobrium to the perversion and miscarriage of justice which characterized the trial. On the other hand, however, it has been maintained that such wholesale violation of all the rules of law and procedure is not only highly improbable, but in view of the rigorous and formalistic exactitude for which the Pharisees were of course notorious, rather inconceivable.Ē

ďthat the Sanhedrin sentenced Jesus to death upon hearing his blasphemy is thus certainly unhistorical. Since there was no blasphemy and since there was no trial, there was no sentence.Ē

H. Cohn


Second let's look at Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea and, according to gospel depictions; a just, tolerant and reluctant crucifier of Jesus.

"... he caused them to bring with them their ensigns, upon which were the usual images of the emperor. The ensigns were brought in privily by night, put their presence was soon discovered. Immediately multitudes of excited Jews hastened to Caesarea to petition him for the removal of the obnoxious ensigns. For five days he refused to hear them, but on the sixth he took his place on the judgment seat, and when the Jews were admitted he had them surrounded with soldiers and threatened them with instant death unless they ceased to trouble him with the matter"
~Josephus

"another time he used the sacred treasure of the temple, called corban (qorban), to pay for bringing water into Jerusalem by an aqueduct. A crowd came together and clamored against him; but he had caused soldiers dressed as civilians to mingle with the multitude, and at a given signal they fell upon the rioters and beat them so severely with staves that the riot was quelled."
~Josephus

Philo mentions that Pilate was 'cruel by nature' and recounts that he commited 'countless atrocities and numerous executions without any
previous trial' Pilate's flair for cruelty and intolerance was such that it led to interventiond by Caesar Tiberius and in the last historical reference Josephus, describes Pilate's removal from office after the slaughter of innocent Samaritans at Mt. Gerizim.

Hardly a meek Procurator who would, against his better judgement, gave in to the will of the crowd.

The gospels also attempt to exonerate Pilate by alleging he offered to free Jesus or Barrabas, as per custom or law as Luke suggests. Most scholars agree that there is absolutely no historical basis for this practice within Judea, under any other procurator or any other province of the time. Again Haim Cohn weighed in stating that "the incongruities of this story are so many that no historicity can be attributed to it."

quote:
1) Authenticity (was apostolic authorship (or someone who knew an apostle) verifiable?)

2) Catholicity (was it widely accepted and used by the Church as a whole, as opposed to being recongnized only in isolated segments?)

3) Orthodoxy (did it line up with what the Church understood to be apostolic doctrine?)


All that proves Stephanos, is that the church accepted those that conformed to their core of beliefs. Not that their interpretations
were the correct ones.

1. The authenticity of bible's contents are still questioned to this day. It's important to note that serious critical inquiry into the NT only
really began with 18th century theology, long after the canon was established. When looking at the texts one has to look at their history.

As early as 161 AD,  Bishop Dionysius refers to the tampering of certain texts and suggests:  "small wonder, then, if some have dared to
tamper even with the word of the Lord Himself" By the time real attempts to unify the church were made, one wonders just what texts
were out there and what modifications had already been made.

One must also consider the effects Emperor Diocletian, an intolerant pagan who succeeded in destroying a large part of early christian
work. Just what was destroyed, and what survived this destruction?

And most importantly, the bible was rewritten in 322 AD, commisioned by Emperor Constantine in his effort to unify the church who also
ordered the destruction of all texts and commentary that did not align with them. It's important to note that it's under Constantine's influence
that christianity's pagan elements first appear. He was a shrewd politician seeking a convergance and unification of sorts, of Christianity,
Mithraisim with those of the Cult of Sol Invictus, his personal belief.

How many revisions, translations and codices have existed since then? If the translations of the bible are still being revised, then so to should
their interpretations and those of non-canon texts.

2.Catholicity, what does this matter? The catholicity of documents doesn't confirm a proper interpretation, only a catholic interpretation.
Because an ideal is more widely accepted it invalidates those of an 'isolated' segment?

3. Again, what the church viewed as orthodoxy, all else was considered heretical and by edict either destroyed or surpressed.

quote:
The fact that you are suppressing is that THEY ARE ALL STILL AROUND for anyone to see why and how they failed the test.  
If the church was so good at eradicating heretical texts, why are there so many of them in existence today?


ONLY BECAUSE THEY WERE DISCOVERED IN 1945, and only because they were hidden by monks of St. Pachomius to escape DESTRUCTION in the church's campaign for orthodoxy. As for the Dead Sea Scrolls, we've discussed the church's attempted suppression and that pressure from scholars and public forced them, after 40 years, to finally be shared with the rest of the world.

quote:
Again, what can you cite me, that would give reasonable attestation that the Church has destroyed "countless texts", with the knowledge of their contents "lost or hidden"?  Thatís a big allegation.  It requires more than just saying it is so.  At the very least, I suspect you are greatly exaggerating.


Um..well aside from the admission by church officials that this was a common practice? Besides the ruthlessness of the inquisition that not only would have seen the texts destroyed, but those who believed in them? Aside from the edict under Constantine that saw documents not aligning with the rewritten bible destroyed? Or Clement's suppresion of the Secret Gospel of Mark? (Whatever your views on the gospel itself, the fact remains that it was to be surpressed.) You're right, there's no reasonable attestation to my comment.

quote:
But even if those charges were true, it would not incriminate the "Pauline" Christians. Or at least, youíve failed to give a reason as to why it should.....But understand that this is an entirely separate issue from the honesty of those who dealt with the earliest documents ... the early Christians, or the "Pauline" Christians as you would call them


Because the quest for 'Pauline' orthodoxy was ruthless, and over the course of it's history, rife with lies, forgeries and scandal.The ends justify the means in church history.

'How it may be Lawful and Fitting to use Falsehood as a Medicine, and for the Benefit of those who Want to be Deceivedí
~Title 32nd Chapter of the Twelfth Book Evangelical Preparation by Eusebius

ďBut it is not our place to describe the sad misfortunes which finally came upon [the Christians], as we do not think it proper, moreover, to, record their divisions and unnatural conduct to each other before the persecutionó[by Diocletian, 305 A.D.]. Wherefore we have decided to relate nothing concerning them except things in which we can vindicate the Divine judgment. ... But we shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity.Ē
~Eusebius

"...Sometimes, it is true, they are compelled to say not what they think but what is needful; and for this reason they employ against their opponents the assertions of the Gentiles themselves. I say nothing of the Latin authors, of Tertullian, Cyprian, Minutius, Victorinus, Lactantius, Hilary, lest I should appear not so much to be defending myself as to be assailing others. I will only mention the Apostle Paul, whose words seem to me, as often as I hear them, to be not words, but peals of thunder..'The proofs which yon have used against the Jews or against other heretics bear a different meaning in their own contexts to that which they bear in your epistles. We see passages taken captive by your pen and pressed into service to win you a victory which in the volumes from which they are taken have no controversial bearing at all"

".....(they)presume at the price of their soul to assert dogmatically whatever first comes into their head.Ē

~St. Jerome

"Do you see the advantage of deceit?...For great is the value of deceit, provided it be not introduced with a mischievous intention. In fact action of this kind ought not to be called deceit, but rather a kind of good management, cleverness and skill, capable of finding out ways where resources fail, and making up for the defects of the mind ...And often it is necessary to deceive, and to do the greatest benefits by means of this device, whereas he who has gone by a straight course has done great mischief to the person whom he has not deceived."
~Chrysostom

ďIt is lawful, then, either to him that discourses, disputes, and preaches of things eternal, or to him that narrates or speaks of things temporal pertaining to edification of religion or piety, to conceal at fitting times whatever seems fit to be concealed; but to tell a lie is never lawful, therefore neither to conceal by telling a lie.Ē
~Augustine

"To undo the creed is to undo the Church. The integrity of the rule of faith is more essential to the cohesion of a religious society than the strict practice of its moral precepts"

Catholic Ecyclopedia

"The Greek Fathers thought that, when there was a justa causa, an untruth need not be a lie. ... Now, as to the just cause, ... the Greek Fathers make them such as these self-defense, charity, zeal for Godís honor, and the like."
~Cardinal Newman

These are the attitudes, and admissions, that lead me to question and attack the Pauline church and their rule over what was to be released and what was to supressed.

quote:
Tell me, had there been definitive evidence linking the scrolls to the early Church, do you honestly believe that I would be so opposed to your theory?  All you would have to do is point me to this evidence


The question wasn't directed at you, I asked if you believed the church, had it discovered definitive evidence, would confirm or release such evidence. Long standing church policy and the sake of maintaining orthodoxy shows it would not.

quote:
Nor is time an issue concerning authenticity?  Historians disagree with you.  I already discussed their standards, and how the amount of time between extant copies and the original events, IS a consideration when authenticity is in question


Consider the apparentely brief time involved in the creation of the gospels. Now consider just how many variations on the texts were in existence. Yes you did give me the standards used to acheive the canon, but again, those standards you spoke of mean nothing with regards to actual authenticity of the gospels as a continuation of Jesus, they only confirm that those sepcific texts are authentically catholic or orthodox in nature.

quote:
But, if The Iliad is questioned because of ďtone and inconsistenciesĒ, you need to demonstrate that the New Testament should be also doubted because of itís own problems with tone and inconsistency.  You havenít done that yet.


Well for one, let's look at the ending of Mark. Most NT critics are in agreement that the ending (or endings there were anywhere from 4 to 9 versions) of Mark were later additions.First of all, the earliest extant copies, including the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codices all end at 16:8. Also, and with regards to tone, scholars have argued that the narrative shift between 16:8 and 16:9 is awkward. Verse 8 ends abrubtly with Mary, the Magdelene and Salome fleeing in terror from the sepulchre and immediately introduces a new story in 9. Beginning more like a new Chapter than a continuation of the story, it also reintroduces the Magdelene, which is also strange, having already been introduced at the beginning of the chapter.

The New Testament as a whole has the synoptic problem to deal with, plus the differences between those gospels and the almost gnostic John, and the differences in James and Paul(you deny they exist, many argue they do)

quote:
But youíll not find anyone linking the Jewish Old Testament and the Roman Legends of Romulus and Remus.  hmmmm.  Seemingly obvious similarities, do not always indicate borrowing.


Um, actually some have, and more importantly they've linked Moses' tale to the Akkadian ruler Sargon who built the empires of Mesopotamia, another of the myths I was prepared to mention. Most importantly it's not one or two coincedences, but many that link the Bible with older traditions. As these are quite exhaustive, and because I'm getting lazy,  I'll lead you to an excellent link and strongly suggest you read the books I mentioned earlier.
http://cc.usu.edu/~fath6/bible.htm  is an fantastic essay and starting point on the subject.

Raphael
Stephanos
Deputy Moderator 1 Tour
Member Elite
since 07-31-2000
Posts 3496
Statesboro, GA, USA


77 posted 03-13-2005 10:53 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Raph,

Sorry this took so long.  I wanted to be somewhat thorough, and things have been busy enough to make sitting down to this kind of thing difficult.  But better slow than ďno.Ē                      


Raph:  
quote:
Essential agreement, not total agreement.††And consider the††'heretic' beliefs, like Arianism and Socinianism before them, that exist in christian denominations today. Jehovah's Witnesses, Unitarians and Mormon's for example, all strongly reject church doctrine and interpretation.


I never claimed "total agreement".

What you fail to mention is that these heresies, (including the more modern ones), need to be interpretively defended by exegesis of scripture.  And that's exactly the area where they lack strength.  Equality and arbitrariness of doctrines can only be the assumption of those who haven't looked at scripture closely themselves.  For example, with the New Testament taken for granted, do you think Arianism is defensible?  


When exegetical analysis is done concerning the Arianism of the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Hinduistic doctrine of Eternal Progression of the Mormons, or the essentially Greek philosophical relativism / skepticism of the Unitarian Universalists, contradictions abound.  The truth is, all of these heresies are only repackaged versions of the early ones, and are refuted in the same manner ... by their incongruity with the whole context of the Bible.


Really, doctrinal truth cannot exist in any form without heretical teaching.  Even Paul wrote that "There MUST be hereies also among you, that those which are approved may be manifest".  


quote:
First, let's begin with the trial before the Sanhendrin in the house of the high priest. Haim Cohn, former attorney general/member of the Supreme Court of Israel and expert on historical law, listed 6 reasons revealing why the trial described couldn't have taken place


To me, such arguments arise out of nothing more than a charge of modern "political incorrectness".  Cohn, being a Jew, wants to show that the Jews had nothing to do with the crucifixion of Jesus.  But thereís a whole lot of evidence that such a reconstruction leaves out, such as the animosity of the Jewish leaders throughout the ministry of Jesus, and the threat they would feel from the Zealot-hating Romans if Jesus' popularity were allowed to continue unchecked.  And if you don't think Cohn is a reconstructionist, remember that he puts forth the view that the Jewish leaders actually tried to help Jesus avert the execution of the Romans, by counselling him.  Where did that come from??  I havenít read his book, but I have examined his reasons as to why the trial of Jesus couldn't have taken place as is written in the Gospels.  I want to comment briefly on each one ...


quote:
1. Sanhedrin could not, and never did, exercise jurisdiction in the house of the high priest or anywhere outside the courthouse and the temple precinct.


But the Gospels donít say that they had the trial "outside" of their jurisdiction.  In Luke 22:54 we read "Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest".  Are we to conclude therefore that the trial was held at the house of the high priest?  No ... For in John  we read that he was first taken to Annas the high priest, and then delivered to Caiaphas (the high priest who resided over his trial).  "Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.".  This confirms that the interlude with Annas, at his house, was not a formal trial but an informal interrogation, followed by the official trial in the temple precinct.  Luke 22:66 confirms this too, by telling us, "At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them ..."  


Am I missing something here?  This is cogently explained from the various accounts of the Gospels, that this "jurisdiction" was not violated.


quote:
2.††no session of the criminal court was permissible at night, criminal trials had to be conducted and finished during the daytime


According to Luke this rule was not violated.  see 22:66 where he tells us that they met "at daybreak".  Also Matthew 27:1 says "Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death."  

Again, how do you substantiate the claim that the trial occurred at night?

quote:
3.††a criminal trial was not allowed to take place on the eve of a feast day, nor on the feast day itself, and the setting is Pesach or Passover.


There were indications in Jewish writings of potential exceptions to this rule.  Even within the framework of the Mishna Tractate rules (which are not certain to have been in effect prior to 70 A.D., and was not compiled until around 200 A.D.) Jesus could have very well been regarded as a "seducer" of the people, leading the populace astray and speaking blasphemy against God.  


Consider Deuteronomy 13:1-5 ... "If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ĎLet us follow other godsí (gods you have not known) Ďand let us worship them,í you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you."


Rudolph Pesch argues that Jesus, by his symbolic demonstration in the Temple, and by his teaching, was seen as a preacher of rebellion against the established order of God.  And even the Qumran Temple Scroll describes a seducer as "one who betrays his people to a foreign nation".  Caiaphas also said "it is better that one man die, than for the whole nation to perish", concering Jesus.  Doesnít this support that this was just the type of "seducer" that the Jewish leaders considered Jesus to be?  Also there was a charge made that Jesus was "subverting the nation" in Luke 23:1.  


Pesch also tells us that the Sanhedrin had special regulations for whenever such a case might be encountered.  He refered to the principle of horaath saíah or "as time demands".  One Jewish interpretation of the matter also suggests that seducers should be executed "precisely on a pilgrimís feast day in Jerusalem", in order to warn the people publically (Rudolph Pesch, The Trial of Jesus Continues, 32).  That would fit the Gospel accounts perfectly, and all of itís context.  Another excerpt from the Qumran Temple Scroll tells us (commenting on Deut. 21:21) that crucifixion is an ideal punishment for the treasonous man.  


Though I reject using the Dead Sea Scrolls for reconstructionist history linked arbitrarily and speculatively to the Christians, I do think they are valuable in revealing intricacies of Jewish thought in the time period of Jesus and before.  


Another example of "exceptions" in Jewish legal history is recorded in the The Tosephtha Sanhedrin 7:11 ... "For all who are guilty of the punishment of death by law, one may not set traps, except for the seducerĒ  Pesch also noted that this casts an entirely new light on the role of Judas as well.  


There is also the possibility that the "trial" of Jesus was not official since the Jews at that time had no juridiction concerning Capital offenses.  (though I tend to believe otherwise, that it was an "official" trial with the Sanhedrin).  If this were true, then the Jews would be performing a mere informal trial, in order to present to the Roman authorities a more orderly account of the charges brought against Jesus ... in which case the normal "rules" for a formal trial need not apply.


quote:
4.††no man might be found guilty on his own confession.


Two notable points here.  

1)  This Jewish practice was contrary to Roman criminal procedure, where the confession of the accused was enough.  Jesus' "confession" was subsequently used by the priests to convict him in the Roman Court before Pilate.  Thus the question by Caiaphas was put forth to obtain a political charge that Pilate would recognize ...claiming to be "The King of the Jews".  Whether or not it was used to convict him in the Jewish Court, is irrelevant.    

2)  Jesus' confession WAS the crime itself, not technically a mere confession of a crime.  When Jesus said that he was the Christ, it was a crime in and of itself ... witnessed by the high Priest and Sanhedrin.  Naturally thatís why Caiaphas exclaimed "Why do we need anymore witnesses?", because he himself had witnessed the "crime" firsthand.


quote:
5.††a conviction must proceed from the testimony of at least two truthful and independent witnesses, giving evidence both as to the commission of offence in their very presence, and as to the knowledge of the accused that the act was punishable by a particular penalty.



This is no problem if the Sanhedin witnessed the crime themselves ... (see above).


quote:
6.††the offence of blasphemy is not committed unless the witnesses testify that the accused had, in their presence, pronounced the ineffable name of God, the tetragrammaton which might only be pronounced once a year on the Day of Atonement by the High Priest in the innermost sanctuary of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Kodesh Kodashim.



A few points ...

1)  Cohn is depending upon the assumption that the MIshna rules WERE in effect during the time that Jesus was tried.  That is a mere assumption.  No certainty of this exists, but only that such rules were probably in place after 70 A.D.  

2) Even if this Mishna rule was in place, there is no certainty that they were strictly observed.

3)  There are other examples in Scripture where "blasphemy" is defined in broader terms.  For example, Jesus was accused of blasphemy for claiming to be able to forgive sins.  This was the blasphemy of a man infringing upon the unique prerogatives of God.  Since only God could forgive sins, and Jesus claimed this prerogative, then he was a Blasphemer.  This is an example of "constuctive blasphemy".  But did Jesus commit such constructive blasphemy when answering Caiaphas?  Letís see ...

" The high priest said to him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.' 'Yes, it is as you say,' Jesus replied. 'But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.' Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, 'He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?' 'He is worthy of death,' they answered."  (Matthew 26:63-66)


"sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One" and "Coming on the clouds of Heaven" Are both attributes of Divine Power and Authority, that any Jewish religious leader would have understood.  This was clearly blasphemous in their eyes.  

There is also a likelihood that a self claim to Messiahship would have also entailed "blasphemy".  


But even IF the Jews could not condemn Christ in an official manner for Blasphemy (and that is by no means proven), one has to remember that the whole trial in the scriptures is portrayed as a mock trial, a pretense.  This is also harmonious with the other places in scripture that talk of some of the Jewish religious leaders "plotting to kill Jesus".  When someone in corrupt leadership is plotting to kill, formalities in a trial tend to mean very little.  And that brings me to my last point ...


Again, though there is no certain evidence that the Mishna Sanhedrin rules (the sole source that Cohn depends upon for his points) were even practiced at the time of Jesus' crucifixion, even if they were, it is doubtful whether or not they would have been strictly practiced in the Jewish system.


A.E. Harvey states, in his "Jesus on Trial", " ... it is far from certain that they (the Mishna rules) were in force before the fall of Jerusalem, or, even if they were, that they would have been observed in an emergency."


And would fastidious rules, automatically rule out the breaking of those rules, in the case of an unjust trial?  History ought to teach us better.  The politics of our own nation ought to teach us better.  


As Pesch noted, these kinds of arguments "insinuate, of course, that nothing would ever happen which is forbidden by law. The world, our history, is full of transgressions against laws! If one wanted to make valid laws the measuring rod for the reconstruction of actual history, then one would, at every turn, be led astray."


quote:
Second let's look at Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea and, according to gospel depictions; a just, tolerant and reluctant crucifier of Jesus.


There is no incompatibility of the Bible with any historical depictions of Pilate being cruel or oppressive.  The Gospel narratives present a Pilate who is 1) apathetic and unconcerned with matters of Jewish religion, such as whether or not someone is a "blasphemer", 2) untrusting and unsympathetic with the Jewish leaders, 3) unconvinced of the Zealot charge given to Jesus, by his very appearance and demeanor, as a man whose experience has taught him what an inssurrectionist looks and acts like.  4) In fear of the powers that rule and bear over him, which might come down upon him if there were an uprising of the Jews that he let get out of hand.  


Do the gospel narratives exonerate Pilate? Hardly.


Rather they present a man who knows better, but who for political reasons of his own refused to take responsibility and allow Jesus to go free.  The halfhearted attempt to state his own detachment from the decision, was only a farce attempt to escape responsibility which could not be escaped.  The Jews did not have power or legal rights to crucify.  So it was still Pilateís hand that crucified Jesus.  His reluctance to crucify, coupled with his unwillingness to let Jesus go free, was an act of cowardice.  And NONE of that is incompatible with cruelty.  I think you have misrepresented the Gospel narrative of Pilate, and are missing the more subtle expose' of his poor character.

quote:
The authenticity of bible's contents are still questioned to this day. It's important to note that serious critical inquiry into the NT only really began with 18th century theology, long after the canon was established. When looking at the texts one has to look at their history.


What you are referring to is "higher criticism" of the Bible.  I personally think that the Church, and the authenticity of the Bible has nothing to fear from higher criticism (criticism aimed at larger issues of authorship authenticity and authority).  Itís not that questions of authorship and authenticity werenít approached by the early church (they were), it's just the degree of knowledge, archaology, and detail that we now possess has allowed us to ask many more questions, and answer many more of them as well.


Here is the illegitimate part of "higher criticism" that I have issue with, that didnít show up until the 1800s for a specific reason ... 19th century German Rationalism, and post enlightenment methodological naturalism.  These philosophical underpinnings were taken a priori and uncritically into the arena of Biblical Criticism.  And much of it went (& goes) like this...


- We know miracles donít / canít happen.  

- Therefore text ďAĒ in the gospels canít be really historical.

- Therefore we know miraculous event ďAĒ didnít really happen.


Such circular argumentation is based upon philosophic presupposition.  And that was used by many scholars associated with "The Quest for the Historical Jesus", and "The Jesus Seminar".  Therefore I have no problem with the questions and challenges of higher criticism.  I think they enrich the studies of scripture.  But there is a reason that much of the "criticism" didnít arise until after 1800, and alot of it is philosophically based rather than textually based.  


quote:
By the time real attempts to unify the church were made, one wonders just what texts were out there and what modifications had already been made.


The only problem with that is that in reality, one does not have to wonder at all.  As F.F. Bruce (among others) has pointed out, the fast dispersion and copying of manuscripts that happened in the early centuries of Christianity actually makes any deviations stand out with embarrassing obviousness.  When many early Alexandrian text-type manuscripts were discovered in the 17th century, they proved to be amazingly consistent with the later Byzantine text-type manuscripts already possessed.  As a matter of fact there is a remarkable consistency all the way back through the very earliest manuscripts.  The alterations that exist are minor, and inconsequential, touching and effecting no major doctrinal or historical points.  

Yet the vague complaint, "who knows what has been altered" isnít based upon texts that are possessed.  It is speculative, ultra-suspicious, and plays on the love of conspiracies within us all.  But if the texts were really altered, then why wouldn't there have been a plethora of copies of the alleged originals too?  Why was everything else copied like mad, except for the authentic texts?  And not only would that be incredible in any community, but how much more in a community that was so close to the events at hand, and among the direct descendants of whom these events happened to?

quote:
One must also consider the effects Emperor Diocletian, an intolerant pagan who succeeded in destroying a large part of early christian work. Just what was destroyed, and what survived this destruction?


For one, how likely would it be that an intolerant pagan would eradicate authentic Christian texts and leave the others?  As a Pagan, he would not care one whit about such subtleties of texts.  In other words, he would not discriminate in his destruction.  


Also, by the 300s, all of the New Testament works were being copied like mad and well dispersed abroad.  Diocletian may have destroyed many texts of Churchmen.  But he couldnít have destroyed ONE text of the Church.  That would have been like trying to rid your house of roaches with a fly-swatter.


quote:
And most importantly, the bible was rewritten in 322 AD, commisioned by Emperor Constantine in his effort to unify the church who also ordered the destruction of all texts and commentary that did not align with them.


Again, you place to much faith in Constantine to eradicate such widely disperesed texts.  Who cares if he ordered the destruction of heretical texts?  He didnít destroy them all, as evidenced by the existence of them today.  Why should we think he was able to destroy ALL of the alleged ďauthenticĒ texts you keep trying to postulate, when he couldnít destroy these others?

quote:
How many revisions, translations and codices have existed since then?


Many.  But we still have very early manuscripts to compare them with to see whether or not they are accurate.  So it really wouldnít matter if there were another millenium's accumulation of translations.  


quote:
If the translations of the bible are still being revised, then so to should their interpretations and those of non-canon texts.


I really don't know what you mean by "so should their interpretations".  Interpretations are revised only if there is textual reason to do so.  And that is my whole argument (with the proof in the earliest of manuscripts) that there has been very few changes textually speaking, the existing changes being inconsequential to dogma or history.  


I have no problem with revising or interpreting non-canonical texts, as much as anyone pleases.  Still the likelihood of those texts reflecting the life and teaching of Jesus, and the early Christians still have to be judged on their OWN merits.  Thatís where the non-canonical texts have failed the test of canonicity and still do.


quote:
Catholicity, what does this matter? The catholicity of documents doesn't confirm a proper interpretation, only a catholic interpretation.  Because an ideal is more widely accepted it invalidates those of an 'isolated' segment?


It wouldn't matter as much, except in a community so relatively close to the events in question.  There were many in the Church who were directly associated and descended from those to whom these events happened.  Legitimate texts about the life of Jesus, would naturally be accepted in such a community.  Spurious texts would naturally be shunned in such a community.  


quote:
Again, what the church viewed as orthodoxy, all else was considered heretical and by edict either destroyed or surpressed.


Not really.  All else, proved in that early Christian community to be rejected in practice.  Whenever a late text came out claiming to be written by Apostle X, or Peter, or Barnabas, or whoever, usually only a small segment of people would recognize it, or believe it to be genuine.  Their late dates, along with the consensus of that early community, along with adherence to what was already known to be revealed truth, is what determined whether or not it was "Kosher".  

I know of no pseudepigraphal work that was "destroyed" do you?  You keep saying that.  The Church never was able to destroy the New Testament "Apocrypha", the evidence being they are still around.  Yes, they were suppressed Iím sure, as to their influence, after they were determined to be spurious texts of doubtful authorship and content.  Thatís hardly surprising.


quote:
ONLY BECAUSE THEY WERE DISCOVERED IN 1945, and only because they were hidden by monks of St. Pachomius to escape DESTRUCTION in the church's campaign for orthodoxy.


Iíve already answered the "Dead Sea Scroll" argument, in that no damning texts have shown up.  You only suspiciously assume that there might be some that we don't know about.  So that argument is off the table as far as Iím concerned.

But as for pseudepigraphal texts being discovered in 1945, be specific and tell me what was discovered for the first time.  We can't really discuss it until you do.  


quote:
Um..well aside from the admission by church officials that this was a common practice?


Burning texts was a common practice in the ancient world ... period.  Not just the Church.  It was felt that it something was subversive, harmful, or politically threatening, it should be destroyed.  So each instance needs to be examined to see whether or not destroying texts was from an admirable motive or not, rather than condemning the destruction of texts, as wrong in itself.

Iíll need specific citations of who said what, in what works, so that I can read them in context.  As it stands your argumentation is to general, and seems like little more than ad hominem.  When you give me more specific info Iíll respond.

And I will look into what exactly Constantine was responsible for destroying.

quote:
Or Clement's suppresion of the Secret Gospel of Mark? (Whatever your views on the gospel itself, the fact remains that it was to be surpressed.)


Iíve already explained WHY the "Secret Gospel of Mark" was suppressed ... not by it's enemies, but by it's advocates.  It was because secretiveness was the common practice toward ALL gnostic texts, not of those who wished to destroy or suppress them, but of those who wished to keep them from the "uninitiated" and common herd.  That IS the very teaching of Gnosticism ... exclusive texts for exclusive classes of people.  And it's already been shown too that Clement, though orthodox in his heart and in the main of his teaching, was still influenced by Gnosticism.

Saying that a text willingly concealed by it's advocates, is really a text that was suppressed by it's enemies represents either a serious misunderstanding on your part, or bait and switch tactics of argumentation.  I do want to give you the benefit of the doubt that you haven't fully understood this issue yet, or else you wouldnít keep bringing it up.


quote:
These are the attitudes, and admissions, that lead me to question and attack the Pauline church and their rule over what was to be released and what was to supressed.


Raph,  I read those quotes.  A few of them I already am aware of.  It seems as if you are attempting to practice the very thing you describe, because so many of these have been taken quite out of their context for your use.  If you don't think there is a legitimate use for deceit (though I myself wouldnít call it that) then you never should even think of a surprise birthday party, or of acting cool and collect when your boss calls you to the office about a problem.  You're being unfair I think in assuming that these men mean that it's okay to manipulate others for personal profit.  I'm not even going to try and respond and defend each quote, because I think the defense is that you have not put forth a legitimate offense.


quote:
Consider the apparentely brief time involved in the creation of the gospels. Now consider just how many variations on the texts were in existence.


Though there are differences, they are minor, affecting no substantial point of doctrine or history.  All the texts in existence support what you consider to be a later form of Christianity.  There ARE no earlier texts, to support your suspicion that the gospel has been changed at will.  The best you can do, if you want to maintain that, is to do what some of the advocates of Form Criticism have done, and argue from theoretical documents, such as "Q" and other postulations.  


quote:
Yes you did give me the standards used to acheive the canon, but again, those standards you spoke of mean nothing with regards to actual authenticity of the gospels as a continuation of Jesus, they only confirm that those sepcific texts are authentically catholic or orthodox in nature.


Just remember that by the time "lists" began to appear in the writings of the early Church Fathers, and by the time any claims to a definite canon had been made, it was getting into the late 2nd / early 3rd century.  This is when the spurious pseudepigraphal writings began to appear.  So the question of authenticity DID have to do with whether the documents actually reflected the life and teachings of Jesus.  It was a defense of earlier documents over and against later ones.


quote:
Well for one, let's look at the ending of Mark. Most NT critics are in agreement that the ending (or endings there were anywhere from 4 to 9 versions) of Mark were later additions.First of all, the earliest extant copies, including the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Codices all end at 16:8. Also, and with regards to tone, scholars have argued that the narrative shift between 16:8 and 16:9 is awkward. Verse 8 ends abrubtly with Mary, the Magdelene and Salome fleeing in terror from the sepulchre and immediately introduces a new story in 9. Beginning more like a new Chapter than a continuation of the story, it also reintroduces the Magdelene, which is also strange, having already been introduced at the beginning of the chapter.

Most Biblical scholars agree that Mark originally ended at 16:8, and that the remainder was added by a scribe zealous to harmonize Mark with the other gospels.  The opinion that the original ending of 16:8 is "awkward", and therefore must represent an intentional deletion, an accidental loss of text, or the death of Mark prior to finishing the gospel, is just that ... an opinion.  Others have seen the ending as quite appropriate to the mood and suspense of the whole scenario ... leaving the reader with a vivid picture of the tremulous fear and hope that must have characterized the events surrounding the empty tomb.

As for the addendum ... There is nothing of essence in it, which isn't recorded elsewhere in the other gospels.  I have no problem in saying it was not originally part of Mark's gospel, and there is no great loss in saying so.  In fact most of the Bibles I have read underscore that very point ... telling the reader that the addendum is absent from the very earlierst manuscripts.  In summary it neither adds anything unique to the gospel tradition, nor does it cover anything up.


quote:
The New Testament as a whole has the synoptic problem to deal with


What is called a "problem" as far as I can see, is simply the attempt to describe how the gospel narratives are related, and whether or not there were other written sources that they commonly drew from.  What dire difficulties, other than strictly acedemic, are raised by the synoptic "problem"?  


quote:
plus the differences between those gospels and the almost gnostic John,


There's good reason that you have to say "almost".  For John does not go as far as the gnostics did in their doctrines.  Thereís a kernel of truth, even in gnosticism (which is true of heresy in general), and John, one might say, expresses that kind of truth.  

Different, yes.  Contradictory, no.  In content, John's Gospel deals mostly with Jesus' ministry in Jerusalem, while the synoptic Gospels deal with his Galilean ministry.  


quote:
and the differences in James and Paul(you deny they exist, many argue they do)

Iíve never denied differences.  What I have denied is incongruity.  Hopefully that will be what I address in my next reply in the "Sermon on the Mount" thread.


(to be continued ... my reply was too long for one entry)


Stephen
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( ... continued.)

Raph:  
quote:
Most importantly it's not one or two coincedences, but many that link the Bible with older traditions.


But there wasnít only "one or two coincidences" with my Romulus and Remus example either ... and that doesnít even begin to link such newer Roman mythology with the the more ancient OT writings.  


And Iíve already mentioned that we should take it for granted that the writers of the Old Testament were "linked" with older traditions.  They lived in the same regions and shared much of the same praxis and assumptions ... and of course the literary idioms would be similar.  You act like Christians have to believe the "dictation-model" of divine inspiration, which of course your examples would tend to disprove.  For if God gave his chosen scribes everything word by word, I suppose he wouldn't tend to use any of the regional or cultural references at all.  But that is absurd.  God chose to reveal himself to mankind, through men.  And there are reasons for that, most of them relational.  But there's also the added possiblity and danger that someone will be able to find some frailty within scripture to justify unbelief.  That possibility was meant to be there.  It was there with Jesus himself.  Someone could always ask, in spite of his claims, ďIsn't this Mary and the Carpenter's son?Ē.  The living word of God was human and divine.  And so is the written word of God.




Iíve read that link you posted ... and however interesting, I wonder how an archaologist ventures to become also an authority in anthropology and history.  Of course I know that his discipline touches these, but I think heís taken too much liberty in coming to unwarranted conclusions.  


A couple of examples ...

Many feel sure that the linguistic relatedness of "El" and "Elohim" prove that the God of the Bible was an evolutionary religious creation which arose naturally out of Pagan religion.  But "El" was only a generic word for "god" or "deity" in the ancient world.  Kind of like "Allah" is the generic word for ďgodĒ in arabic, not merely the personal name of the Muslim "god".  In fact, Iím quite sure that the word "Allah" was derived somewhere down the line from "El".

So, it's hardly surprising that the One True God would be expressed and revealed in the commonly understood language of that time.  Everyone knew what a "god" or "deity" claimed to be.  Therefore when God was revealed to his people, his claim was that he was that very reality which their idolatry poorly attempted to express.  


That hardly proves that the God of Hebrews was a creation.  All it proves, is that he was expressed as a deity or a "God".  That seems quite natural and understandable to me.  In fact, if all the other pagan idols were only counterfeits, in the final analysis, what would be more fitting?  "Elohim" is more like Godís title and office than his personal name.  


The second example is YHWH, the tetragrammaton, which is the personal name of God.  The article you gave, points out two inscriptions in or near Israel which say something like "Yahweh of Teman and his ashera".  


This proves that Yahweh once meekly accepted his place in the polytheistic pantheon, since "ashera" is a pagan deity, right?  Wrong.  First of all, "ashera" used in this context is in reference to a cult object, not a personal name.  Since I canít really demonstrate that from the language myself, I will provide a link to demonstrate this.  


Secondly, the conclusion that the name YHWH evolved from pagan religion into Jewish monotheism is not warranted.  The inscriptions that professor Crapo points out are both in close proximity to Israel ... one outside of Judea, the other near Hebron.  Perhaps professor Crapo, in order to avoid overly-ambitious theories of reconstruction, should simply read the Bible.  It is full of accounts of the Jewish people admixing worship of YHWH with pagan worship.  


It is recorded in the book of Exodus that Aaron made golden calf (an ashera), of which the people said "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt".  Aaron also built an altar before this same cult object of worship, and made a proclamation, "Tommorow is a fest to YHWH".  (Exodus 32:4-5).  There is also more explicitly in Deuteronomy 16:21-22, the command, "You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord your God, which you shall make for yourself.  Neither shall you set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the Lord your God hates."


These two examples, are just two of many many in the scriptures which prove that admixing pagan "Ashera" and Yaweh worship was very common.  But it was never sanctioned by God, or the prophets of Israel, as evidenced by their historical records.  And Archaeology has only confirmed this historical aspect of the Bible.


Here is the link I mentioned:
  
http://www.Christian-thinktank.com/godswife.html


Stephen
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quote:
When exegetical analysis is done concerning the Arianism of the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Hinduistic doctrine of Eternal Progression of the Mormons, or the essentially Greek philosophical relativism / skepticism of the Unitarian Universalists, contradictions abound.


As they do with analysis concerning the glaring Paganism of Christianity.

quote:
Even Paul wrote that "There MUST be hereies also among you, that those which are approved may be manifest".


How convenient. But I agree, the heresies that make up christianity were approved by the church, and manifested themselves in christian dogma.  

quote:
To me, such arguments arise out of nothing more than a charge of modern "political incorrectness".  Cohn, being a Jew, wants to show that the Jews had nothing to do with the crucifixion of Jesus.


I can't say that comment surprises me, but its still quite sad. Cohn, being an expert on his own people's laws and their historical application, wants to show that the Jews were not to blame for his crucifixion in the manner christianity asserts, and their whitewashing of Roman involvement

quote:
But the Gospels donít say that they had the trial "outside" of their jurisdiction.  In Luke 22:54 we read "Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest".  Are we to conclude therefore that the trial was held at the house of the high priest?  No ... For in John  we read that he was first taken to Annas the high priest, and then delivered to Caiaphas (the high priest who resided over his trial).  "Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.".  This confirms that the interlude with Annas, at his house, was not a formal trial but an informal interrogation, followed by the official trial in the temple precinct.  Luke 22:66 confirms this too, by telling us, "At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them ..."  


Am I missing something here?  This is cogently explained from the various accounts of the Gospels, that this "jurisdiction" was not violated


Actually, yes, you are missing something. Jesus is sent from Annas to Caiphas(not in the synoptics), and at the conclusion of the trial, John clearly states:

Then they led Jesus from the house of Ca'iaphas to the Praetorium
~ John 18:28

Meaning the trial did take place within Caiphas' home.

As for the synoptics, they are clear in stating that Jesus is led to the home of the high priest, Caiphas, where the trial takes place and testimony is given against him. Where they came to their decision and ship Jesus off to Pilate in the morning.

quote:
According to Luke this rule was not violated.  see 22:66 where he tells us that they met "at daybreak".  Also Matthew 27:1 says "Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death."  

Again, how do you substantiate the claim that the trial occurred at night?


Came to the decision in the morning. With the exception of Luke (one of many inconsistencies within the ironically named 'synoptic' gospels), Jesus is arrested and the trial takes place, AFTER which, morning comes (signaled by the cock's crow) and a verdict is made. Jesus is then brought before the Pilate in the early morning.

quote:
Consider Deuteronomy 13:1-5 ... "If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ĎLet us follow other godsí (gods you have not known) Ďand let us worship them,í you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you."


But where does it state that he may be put to death on the eve or day of the passover? As for Pesch, interesting, you can accept his work as authoritive (meshing with the christian account), whereas Cohn, despite being a leading authority of historical Jewish law, the former attorney general and of the Supreme Court of Israel is just a Jew trying his people off the hook? You also agree with Pesch where it suits your view, but then disagree with his hypothesis that the trial was informal.

quote:
the question by Caiaphas was put forth to obtain a political charge that Pilate would recognize ...claiming to be "The King of the Jews".  Whether or not it was used to convict him in the Jewish Court, is irrelevant.


No it's not irrelevant, the question took place within 'the Jewish Court' and was used in their decision to condemn him before he was brought to Pilate.

You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?" And they all condemned him as deserving death.
~Mark 14:64

Actually, with the exception of Mark(oh those synoptics!), Jesus deflects the question and so never really admits to anything. In Matthew he says:
"You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."
In Luke:
"And they all said, "Are you the Son of God, then?" And he said to them, "You say that I am."
in John:
"Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me, what I said to them; they know what I said." and "If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong;"

It seems more likely that Roman appointed Caiphas(you forget we're dealing with a puppet high priest), unable to condemn Jesus by Sanhendrin law, is forced to send him to Pilate on charges of treason. Surely if it was well within Jewish law to condemn and put him to death, Jesus could have been stoned or beaten as Stephen or James the Just. Why then is he brought before Pilate?

quote:
Again, though there is no certain evidence that the Mishna Sanhedrin rules (the sole source that Cohn depends upon for his points) were even practiced at the time of Jesus' crucifixion, even if they were, it is doubtful whether or not they would have been strictly practiced in the Jewish system.

A.E. Harvey states, in his "Jesus on Trial", " ... it is far from certain that they (the Mishna rules) were in force before the fall of Jerusalem, or, even if they were, that they would have been observed in an emergency.".


Lol. You've chastized me for suppositions, but I'm hearing alot of maybes and ifs in that argument. "well even if it were in place..." This is why I didn't want to continue, because whatever anyone brings forth challenging the history of the gospels is 'suspect', 'reconstructionism' or motivated by 'politically correctivism.'

quote:
Rather they present a man who knows better, but who for political reasons of his own refused to take responsibility and allow Jesus to go free.  The halfhearted attempt to state his own detachment from the decision, was only a farce attempt to escape responsibility which could not be escaped.  The Jews did not have power or legal rights to crucify.  So it was still Pilateís hand that crucified Jesus.  His reluctance to crucify, coupled with his unwillingness to let Jesus go free, was an act of cowardice.  And NONE of that is incompatible with cruelty.  I think you have misrepresented the Gospel narrative of Pilate, and are missing the more subtle expose' of his poor character.


No, I think the bible has misrepresented the true Pilate, and that you are missing the unsubtle ways in which Pilate dealt with the slightest threats and uprisings according to historical accounts including those of Josephus.

quote:
The alterations that exist are minor, and inconsequential, touching and effecting no major doctrinal or historical points.


How can you say that when the entire ending, the addition to Mark is KEY to the docrine of spreading the message worldwide?!

quote:
But if the texts were really altered, then why wouldn't there have been a plethora of copies of the alleged originals too?  Why was everything else copied like mad, except for the authentic texts?


Did you miss the point where Emperor Diocletian destroyed much of the early work in an effort to wipe out christian beliefs? Or more importantly where Emperor Constantine decreed that texts not aligning with the 'official' christian vision were to be destroyed?

quote:
For one, how likely would it be that an intolerant pagan would eradicate authentic Christian texts and leave the others?  As a Pagan, he would not care one whit about such subtleties of texts.  In other words, he would not discriminate in his destruction.


I never claimed he gave a toss about the subtleties of the texts Stephen. The point was, just how many early texts were lost under his intolerance, the real kicker is that whatever did remain after his onslaught, some were used to solidify the orthodox vision, and the rest were ordered destroyed under Constantine's verdict.

quote:
He didnít destroy them all, as evidenced by the existence of them today.  Why should we think he was able to destroy ALL of the alleged ďauthenticĒ texts you keep trying to postulate, when he couldnít destroy these others?


Because it's a possibility. If one sect was small enough, or certain texts were scarce enough then the destruction of one could have been enough to eradicate that line christianity. Just because you dont want to believe it, doesnt mean its IMPOSSIBLE.


quote:
Many. But we still have very early manuscripts to compare them with to see whether or not they are accurate.  So it really wouldnít matter if there were another millenium's accumulation of translations.


The oldest, and only semi-complete, copies of the gospels are the Constantine era Codex Vaticanus. Or do you mean the incomplete Papyri? Most of which are tiny fragments, or orthodox writings of the early church. And then which texts do you rely on for clarity? There are still arguments between critics who favor the Alexandrian texts vs those who prefer the Byzantine. Read the different versions of the NT that are out there and see why there contines to be arguments over passage interpretation.

quote:
It wouldn't matter as much, except in a community so relatively close to the events in question.  There were many in the Church who were directly associated and descended from those to whom these events happened.  Legitimate texts about the life of Jesus, would naturally be accepted in such a community.  Spurious texts would naturally be shunned in such a community.


If indeed the community that arose was associated and descended from those to whom the events happened. We have only their word, and the word of the church may hold water for you, but for MANY, it doesn't.
.....i'm bowing out half way through my own response because, i'll be frank, this is rather pointless to me. our ideals are set, no matter what the other would bring forth, the other would bring arguments against them in turn. we could continue this ad nauseum, what would we conclude in a battle that's been raging for millenia? maybe you see this as a copout, believe me it's not, there's a good chance that despite me writing this, frustration or strong opposition to something you've said here will lead me to continue later(especially with regards to the links between OT and mythology!!) i'm stubborn like that (to any friends thinking of chiming in..shurrup)

but before i head to my cave one last thing you should consider..

While I agree with what you say, you must understand that where you see the "..danger that someone will be able to find some frailty within scripture to justify unbelief." many of us see the danger in Christian arguments searching for some frailty within analysis/critique, to justify their beliefs and actions.
Michelle_loves_Mike
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80 posted 03-13-2005 05:29 PM       View Profile for Michelle_loves_Mike   Email Michelle_loves_Mike   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Michelle_loves_Mike

"just what seperates mythology from religion?"

To me,,it's all how a person sees it.

I guess for the most part, "religion" is (for the most part) an orginized and taught way of how we are to behave to recieve good rewards, or punishment if we don't follow the rules.

"Mythology" on the other hand, is more like storys that were told as entertainment, that, like our more modern urban legends, took on a life of their own.

No one really cares,,why should I?

Stephanos
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81 posted 03-13-2005 05:32 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Raph:  
quote:
i'm bowing out half way through my own response



That's okay, I've thought about bowing out myself, but haven't come to that conclusion yet.  It's been enjoyable, and it's a learning experience.  But time restraints abound, and this requires much time if it's done right.  

But I would like to respond to the half that you did leave me with.  Maybe in a few days, maybe a couple of weeks.


Stephen.
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82 posted 03-16-2005 11:26 PM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

Michelle, one could just as easily say that religions are mythologies that took on a life of their own


stephanos, you're choice.

btw, i highly recommend "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeologyís New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts" By Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman i'm half-way through the book now and it's excellent.  
 
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