Saturday, November 04, 2006

Conference on apologetics, evangelism and human rights in France

HT: Angus Menuge

20 comments:

Steven Carr said...

I see one of the speakers is John Warwick Montgomery who claimed recenly in a letter to the London Times that both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus contained the compelete text of the New Testament, and has claimed in the past that sceptics said Pilate did not exist, until an inscription was found in 1961.

Why do Christians claim such men are good defenders of truth?

I quote Montgomery 'To take but a single striking example: after the rise of liberal biblical criticism, doubt was expressed as to the historicity of Pontius Pilate, since he is mentioned even by pagan historians only in connection with Jesus' death. '

The man is a proven liar for Christ.

Bilbo Bloggins said...

I'm not fan of Montgomery, but I consider it extremely unethical to accuse another of lying without extremely strong evidence.

Can you show me how Montgomery is a "proven liar"?

thx,
Bilbo

Mike D said...

Who lied?

Here is a link to the letter:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-2425106.html

Carr said, "the complete text of the New Testament." Montgomery wrote "the gospels."

I searched but was unable to find a quote by Montgomery about Pilate, but I did find an undocumented tradition that literary criticism prior to 1961 Pilate's historicity was doubted.

Steven Carr said...

My apologies for misreading the letter,and missing Montgomery's careful qualification of 'Gospels'. That was a bad mistake by me.

Presumably even he concedes that the rest of the NT is not well attested???

Why else would he put in such a qualification???

I quote Montgomery again 'To take but a single striking example: after the rise of liberal biblical criticism, doubt was expressed as to the historicity of Pontius Pilate, since he is mentioned even by pagan historians only in connection with Jesus' death. '

This is a lie. Pilate is not mentioned only in connection with the death of Jesus.

Unless Montgomery counts Josephus and Philo as not pagans, and wants to hide from his readers that there are ancient historians who mentioned Pilate in other contexts. A sin of ommission in other words.

And the full text of the Gospels is *not* in Sinaiticus and Vaticaus.

Even not taking into account the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman, among other changes , it does not have Luke 22:43-44 'And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground'. It is also missing Luke 22:34 'Father forgive them for they know not what they do.'


And which sceptics doubted until 1961 that Pilate did not exist?

I asked Montgomery that in an email, and there was no answer in the hate-filled bile that he sent back.

A striking example, Montgomery declares, yet Montgomery could not produce a single example of such a person!

Bilbo Bloggins said...

Steve Carr writes: My apologies for misreading the letter,and missing Montgomery's careful qualification of 'Gospels'. That was a bad mistake by me.

Bilbo: I'm sure everyone will accept your apology, but were I as charitable (and careful) as you, I'd have called you a "proven liar" by now.

Steven Carr: Presumably even he concedes that the rest of the NT is not well attested???

Bilbo: Think about that for a while.

Steven Carr: Why else would he put in such a qualification???

Bilbo: Hmmm...because it makes for a correct statement?

Steven Carr: I quote Montgomery again 'To take but a single striking example: after the rise of liberal biblical criticism, doubt was expressed as to the historicity of Pontius Pilate, since he is mentioned even by pagan historians only in connection with Jesus' death.'

This is a lie. Pilate is not mentioned only in connection with the death of Jesus.

Bilbo: Steven, from this I can only conclude that you are either a very sloppy thinker, or dead set on attacking the character of Christians wherever you can. Perhaps a bit of both.

Firstly, from now on, since you have already shown that your memory is fallible when it comes to recollection of the words of Christian scholars, please do not ever quote an author without providing the full citation. I would like to look into these matters myself.

Secondly, assuming you quoted him accurately, if Montgomery's statement is incorrect here, does that argue towards it being a "lie"? Of course not! Like you were in your initial statement, he could simply be mistaken.

Its initially *very* improbable that an academic would blatantly lie about any publically accessible issue in some sort of conscious manner. It is much too big of a risk, given how much stake they have in the public perception of their credibility.

This is also why there is so much more of a need for caution on the part of the accuser. You can do alot of harm to the accused if you're wrong. This isn't politics where everyone expects the opponents to call each other liars (if not actually *be* liars). It is so much more likely that academics are simply mistaken in these instances, or allowing their biases to skew the truth, than that they are knowingly telling a lie. Whenever I see someone calling another academic a "liar", especially on flimsy evidence, it is *that* person who loses credibility in my eyes. In almost every instance I've seen it is a hasty judgement made on too little evidence, usually done for the purpose of character assassination.

Steven - can you honestly tell me that you think that it is even LIKELY that John Montgomery is consciously LYING about a readily verifiable matter such as the historical record concerning Pontius Pilate?

You certainly haven't "proven" him to be a "liar for Christ" as you claim.

Indeed, claiming he is a "proven liar for Christ", when you have not even attempted to do anything but show that his claim is *incorrect*, speaks heavily against your own ability to engage in honest fair-minded discourse. Frankly, its extremely unethical.

Or, if simply being mistaken necessitates or even argues towards dishonesty, then in conceding your mistake, you have shown yourself dishonest.

Either way, exercise a little more caution in reaching for the heavier axes next time. I know you'd like to reach for the weapons that seem as though they will do the most damage. But once you lift them up over your head, it comes down to how strongly you can support them. Without adequate support, they fall back on those unfit to wield them and split them open for all to see.

Now gather up your innards and go do the same thing about 100 times on the multitude of other theistic blogs you pester. One of these days, you'll learn...

Bilbo

Steven Carr said...

'Steven - can you honestly tell me that you think that it is even LIKELY that John Montgomery is consciously LYING about a readily verifiable matter such as the historical record concerning Pontius Pilate?'

Montgomery citation

I quote the web page, once again.

'To take but a single striking example: after the rise of liberal biblical criticism, doubt was expressed as to the historicity of Pontius Pilate, since he is mentioned even by pagan historians only in connection with Jesus' death. Then in 1961 came the discovery at Caesarea of the now famous "Pilate inscription," definitely showing that, as usual, the New Testament writers were engaged in accurate historiography.'

When asked, Montgomery was unable to name one sceptic who doubted the historicity of Pilate , because pagan historians had only mentioned him in connection with the death of Jesus.

He was either bluffing or lying.

And Montgomery knows perfectly well that Pilate was mentioned by Josephus in other connections ,so he is guilty of decieving his audience by ommission.

Steven Carr said...

And Montgomery knows perfectly well that the full text of the Gospels is not in Sinaiticus or Vaticanus (I listed some differences between those and what we read today), yet he wrote to the London Times claiming that there were and that there were 1st-century fragments of the Gospels.

Bilbo Bloggins said...

Steven,

Again, you continue the unethical behavior of calling someone a liar without any evidence whatsoever.

How could you read my last post and completely fail to grasp what I was saying?

Let me try it again.

You have *only* presented evidence towards Montgomery having made a *mistake*.

In order to move from *made a mistake* to *proven liar*, you need to show evidence of precisely what you assert -- that "Montgomery knows perfectly well that Pilate was mentioned by Josephus in other connections."

Where is your evidence for this claim?

Without such evidence, we have no idea whether or not Montgomery made a *mistake* at the time, or told a lie.

Do you think its ethical to call someone a "proven liar" without producing any evidence whatsoever, Steven?

And don't simply repeat your assertion to the effect that Montgomery is *incorrect* at places. We know this by now. Multiplying errors on the part of Montgomery does not help your case in the slightest. Again, if a mistake were enough to make someone a "proven liar", then you show yourself to be a "proven liar" by this criterion, in this very thread.

Bilbo

Steven Carr said...

BILBO
In order to move from *made a mistake* to *proven liar*, you need to show evidence of precisely what you assert -- that "Montgomery knows perfectly well that Pilate was mentioned by Josephus in other connections."

CARR
You are having a laugh aren't you?

Bilbo Bloggins said...

Steve,

Actually, I'm not. I don't find this humorous at all.

I'm constantly angered by attempts to impugn the moral integrity of scholars without any evidence whatsoever.

Mistakes will always happen in scholarship and they should be pointed out, but calling someone a liar (even worse a "proven liar"), especially a scholar, is extremely serious. To do so without evidence is the epitomy of unethical. I point this out whenever I see it.

If you make such a claim, you damn well better be able to back it up. You seem to be utterly incapable of doing this.

Is this ok with you, Steve? Visiting Christian message boards and attempting *character* assassination on Christian scholars without any regard for justifying your damaging claims? Is this something that you consider ethical behavior?

Bilbo

Steven Carr said...

BILBO
In order to move from *made a mistake* to *proven liar*, you need to show evidence of precisely what you assert -- that "Montgomery knows perfectly well that Pilate was mentioned by Josephus in other connections."

CARR
Is Bilbo really going to say in public that Montgomery does not know that Pilate was mentioned by Josephus in other connections?

Does Bilbo want to make out that Montgomery is ignorant of really basic stuff?

Montgomery lies and says that it was a striking example of scepticism that sceptics denied that Pilate existed, and that this was put to rest in 1961.

I asked Montgomery for one of these 'striking' examples , and he could not name a single person, let alone a 'striking' example.

Neither can Bilbo.

Hence Bilbo's attacks on my character, because he cannot find any facts to back him up.

As he cannot find any facts to oppose his opponents, he has to traduce their character.

What other choice does he have? He cannot show that Montgomery was telling the truth.

And now Bilbo defends Montgomery by claiming Montgomery simply doesn't know what he is talking about...


And Bilbo still cannot find any evidence to back up Montgomery's claim that the *full* text of the Gospels is in Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.

He can't, because I pointed out that part of the text is missing.

Some Christians just hate facts, don't they?

Steven Carr said...

In his letter to the London Times, Montgomery said there were first-century fragments of the Gospels.

Is that the truth?

Or is Montgomery simply ignorant of the fact that any such proposed datings have been almost universally rejected?

Bilbo Bloggins said...

CARR:
Is Bilbo really going to say in public that Montgomery does not know that Pilate was mentioned by Josephus in other connections?

Bilbo:
It is a very real possibility that he did not know this at the time of writing. Whether he knew it once and forgot, never knew it at all, etc. I have no idea. Do you have access to his mental state at the time? Can you even make a case that he had knowledge of Pilate being mentioned in other connections? Where is the evidence that he is lying, Steve? Again, to accuse someone of lying, when all we have evidence of is a mistake, is highly unethical. I'm not surprised that you continue to do it though.

Carr: Does Bilbo want to make out that Montgomery is ignorant of really basic stuff?

Bilbo: Indeed, its pretty obvious that Montgomery was ignorant of the facts concerning Pilate here. As I originally stated, I'm not a fan of Montgomery. I'm not here to cheerlead for him as an apologist or defend his arguments. What I'm arguing is that you have called his moral *character* into question without evidence. This is unethical.

Carr: Montgomery lies and says that it was a striking example of scepticism that sceptics denied that Pilate existed, and that this was put to rest in 1961.

Bilbo: Again, more unethical behavior from Steve. Where is the evidence that this is a lie as opposed to a mistake? If you want to argue that someone is consciously lying, you need to have more evidence than that they were incorrect (as I've said multiple times now). Montgomery could have simply been uncritically repeating the claim concerning skepticism of Pilate's existence (indeed Wikipedia repeats the claim). Where is the evidence that this is a lie?

Carr: I asked Montgomery for one of these 'striking' examples , and he could not name a single person, let alone a 'striking' example.

Bilbo: This still says nothing towards his original statement being a conscious lie.

Carr: Neither can Bilbo.

Bilbo: LOL, I'm not defending the claim, genius!

Steven Carr: What other choice does he have? He cannot show that Montgomery was telling the truth.

Bilbo: I don't need to do that. I made a general point about it being unlikely that an academic would consciously lie about publically accessible matters of fact, but other than that, I make no claims about Montgomery's specific level of honesty/dishonesty. You are the one making the claim that he is a liar. Further, its a very strong claim. He is a "proven liar". Obviously, you have very low standards of proof. You haven't presented even the *slightest* shred of evidence that Montgomery is lying (as opposed to merely mistaken), yet it is considered "proven". Is this a properly basic belief? LOL!

Steven Carr: And Bilbo still cannot find any evidence to back up Montgomery's claim that the *full* text of the Gospels is in Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.

Bilbo: Why would I want to go looking for evidence for something that I already know is not the case? Again, this has NOTHING to do with what I'm asking of you. I am NOT claiming that your critiques of factual claims made by Montgomery are incorrect.

I'm asking you to JUSTIFY your move from *Montgomery made mistakes* to *Montgomery is a "proven liar"*. So far, all you have done is reinforce my opinion that you are an unethical person who makes damaging claims about another person's character without any support whatsoever.

Carr:
Some Christians just hate facts, don't they?

Bilbo: Yeah - I hate the fact that you can't actually stick to the issue of justifying your claim that Montgomery is lying, and apparently have such poor reading comprehension that you think I am defending the accuracy of Montgomery's factual claims.

Stop running around spouting irrelevancies, Steven. Just show me how you justify the severe claim that Montgomery is a "proven liar", or retract your statement.

Bilbo

Steven Carr said...

I think Bilbo has pretty much dropped any idea of trying to show that what Montgomery said corresponded to the truth.

Victor Reppert said...

Steven; What Bilbo has consistently maintained is that JWM could have been sincerely mistaken about the fact that Pilate is mentioned by Josephus in other contexts. He has never once said that JWM was right. When people argue against the Trilemma they often maintain that it arbitrarily excludes the possibility that Jesus was sincerely mistaken, but not insane, in believing that he was God. Why couldn't Montogmery be sincerely mistaken here?

Steven Carr said...

'Steven; What Bilbo has consistently maintained is that JWM could have been sincerely mistaken about the fact that Pilate is mentioned by Josephus in other contexts. '

What? You just have to be joking?

Montgomery is off to be a speaker at an apolgetics conference and does not know really, really basic stuff like that?

Put it this way. If I know that, what are the chances of an apologetics conference speaker not knowing that?

I am reminded of the defense that David Irving put forwarded at his libel trial. He simply had never read the books he referenced and so was sincerely mistaken about their contents.

Victor Reppert said...

Off the top of my head, I can figure out how scholars before 1961 could doubt Pilate's existence even though his name appears on other contexts in Josephus. We all know that most scholars believe that Christians are thought to have embellished Josephus. So couldn't skeptical scholars have argued that the "Pilate" references in Josephus were interpolations on the part of Christians to undergird the Bible's story?

Bilbo Bloggins said...

Steven Carr:
What? You just have to be joking?

Bilbo: He has to be joking because he gives a personally reasonable and logical explanation consideration before accusing a scholar of lying?

Steven Carr: Montgomery is off to be a speaker at an apolgetics conference and does not know really, really basic stuff like that?

Bilbo: The more "basic" it is, the more likely it is that he is *not* lying and made a mistake. No scholar, Christian or otherwise, in his right mind, would intentionally lie about very basic publically ascertainable matters of history.

Steven Carr: Put it this way. If I know that, what are the chances of an apologetics conference speaker not knowing that?

Bilbo: Firstly, all that the mistake shows is that he was in error at the time of writing. He could have known it beforehand and forgotten it (happens to the best of us). And indeed, he may be aware of it now.

Still waiting for the evidence that Montgomery is lying as opposed to mistaken, Steve.

Bilbo

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
Off the top of my head, I can figure out how scholars before 1961 could doubt Pilate's existence even though his name appears on other contexts in Josephus.

CARR
Nobody has managed to find any sceptics before 1961 who said that Pilate did not live.

Perhaps Montgomery also made it up of the top his head. Perhaps he even believes it.

I asked him and he was unable to give me a name. perhaps like Christians of two thousand years ago he is a only repeating what he has been told without checking to see whether or not it is true.

And Montgomery claimed in the Times that there were first century manuscripts. He must know that this is disputed, to say the least.

Bilbo Bloggins said...

A ray of light from Steven Carr!! Finally!!

CARR writes:
Nobody has managed to find any sceptics before 1961 who said that Pilate did not live.

Bilbo: Right, Steve - a bunch of skeptics merely not being able to find a reference does not make for a mistake, and it *certainly* does not turn a mistake into a lie. I wouldn't be surprised if Montgomery had uncritically repeated a claim about Pilate's existence being doubted by liberal scholars though - Wikipedia apparently does as well. Obviously the burden of proof here is o Montgomery, but the chain of inference that led you and whoever else to conclude that Montgomery was a "proven liar" is as bad of an error in judgement as anything Montgomery has said (and even moreso an ethical lapse, IMO).

And then after blurting out the EXTREMELY unlikely "Perhaps Montgomery also made it up of the top of his head" (e.g. Montgomery: "Duh-huh - let me just make up some fakts here on this one. With my bein' an akademik n' all, they all'll think I'm so smart it just must be true!"), Carr *actually* allows for the possibility that Montgomery is "only repeating what he has been told without checking to see whether or not it is true" - something that of course should rightly be called out, but I'm sure we ALL have been guilty of this at times (academics or not), and this is in no way deserving of the slanderous accusation of "proven liar".

I'm real proud of you, Steve. Feels better, doesn't it?

Bilbo