Thursday, August 19, 2010

Selling the Farm, or the Price is Right

Walter: I love your Robert Price quote:

For what can it profit a man if he gets all the local titles and offices right, if what he is trying to prove is that people in these locations healed the sick with their snot rags, survived the bites of poisonous serpents, brushed themselves off unhurt following fatal stonings, resurrected teenagers their sermons had bored to death, blinded some and killed others merely by a word of power?



I'm afraid that getting an 'A' on an ancient civics test is of no real help in vindicating these wonder stories.

First of all, what this doesn't give us is an explanation as to how Luke got an A on his ancient civics test.  He didn't have a civics textbook. He didn't have a library with all that information in it. He couldn't have looked it up in the Encyclopedia Romanica. He didn't have the benefit of modern archaeology, which is how I know that he got so many things right. Steven, (and notice that Price is admitting that he does merit an A in ancient civics). He couldn't look up the information on the internet. Everyone who studies the Book of Acts in Sunday School knows that it's the book that's all over the map. Luke has to know civics and geography from Jerusalem to Malta, and it's the civics of the time, not of 50 years later. So, how'd he do it? He either was an actual companion of Paul, or he had a lot of contact with Paul later, or he got it through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which is what you're stuck with if you, like Pervo, Price and Carrier, want to put Acts in the second century.

I have yet to see any of these people explain this evidence. You say Bruce is dated. That's chronological snobbery, a rampant disease in modern biblical studies. Well, evidence is not dated. How do they deal with the evidence? How do they explain how all this accurate information got into Acts? Disparaging comments like this don't explain anything.

And why does Price think "passing a civics test" does not profit? Because he can't believe what Luke reports. Why can't he believe what Luke reports? Because Miracles Do Not Happen. Hume, not the inductive evidence, is wagging the dog. I have already admitted that people have different priors. What is sufficient evidence for some is not sufficient evidence for others. But Price has virtually admitted that he would reject any ancient evidence in favor of the miraculous, even if it bit him in the nose.

Bruce says "accuracy is a habit of mind." You don't "ace the civics test" without being a) being very interested in accuracy, and b) having access to the necessary information. Compare Luke's score on a civics test with that of Philostratus in his account of Appollonius of Tyana, who has Appollonius doing his thing in Nineveh centuries after it was destroyed. You don't find ancient annals riddled with supernatural wonders on the one hand, and accurate geography and civics on the other. If Christianity, at its founding, was attended with miracles, then we should expect the books recording its founding to be of just the character. If it all happened naturalistically, if miracles do not and did not happen, then how do we get work laden with miracle reports with so much accurate information about so many things?

In short, I think the character of Luke's work gives us very strong inductive evidence that Luke was "on board" with Paul. It also provides significant evidence in support of Luke's claims concerning the miraculous. Whether you think this evidence is sufficient depends on the prior probabilities you bring to the discussion.

194 comments:

mattghg said...

Victor, your point is so simple and so well put that one would have to be trying very hard indeed not to understand it.

Anonymous said...

Price's latest screed, against Lee Strobel, is so personal and full of vitriol that it is apparent that Price has given up trying to discuss with the other side.

I mean, its plan that he hates Christianity with a passion.

This is not just about scholarship or intellectual discussion. It is far more than that.

Its like he knows he has made a terrible mistake and doesn't have the courage to repent.

Walter said...

Perhaps I am thinking anachronistically, but how is it that the knowledge of official names and titles would be completely lost after only 50 to 70 years?

I simply don't see how the author has to be a traveling companion of Paul's. Further, even if Acts is written in 50 CE vs. 150 CE it does not validate the magical tales contained within--no matter how desperately you wish it to.

Walter said...

Here is a little background information of Richard I. Pervo:

Richard I. Pervo began his research on Acts in the 1970s with a Harvard dissertion on its literary genre. He taught at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and the University of Minnesota. He is the author of several books on Acts including Profit with Delight: The Literary Genre of the Acts of the Apostles (1987), Luke’s Story of Paul (1990), Rethinking the Unity of Luke and Acts (with Mikeal A. Parsons, 1993), Dating Acts: Between the Evangelists and the Apologists (2006), and Acts: A Commentary (Hermeneia, 2008).

Academic Credentials

* A.A., Concordia College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
* B.A., Concordia Sr. College, Fort Wayne, Indiana
* B.D., Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
* Th.D., Harvard University

This man spent thirty years researching the Acts of the Apostles. I find his arguments to be persuasive. I guess Vic and others here can hand-wave him away by claiming his work is driven by "naturalistic presuppositions". That seems to be the best way to marginalize the work of anyone who does not come to conservative Christian conclusions.

Steven Carr said...

How did Mormons know where Salt Lake City was?

I guess that validates the Book of Mormon.

When ‘Luke’ gets Paul closer to officialdom, the more Jesus disappears.

By the time you get to Acts 24, Paul is not even a follower of Jesus ‘However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect.’

Paul was a follower of 'the Way'.

In Acts 26, Paul is baffled that anybody thinks he is there because of what a historical Jesus might have done.
‘And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today.’

What? Did a historical Jesus promise nothing?

And it was the resurrected Jesus who preached ’But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.’

Jesus rose from the dead and then proclaimed light to his own people and to the Gentiles.


Notice the order….

Paul is clear that the prophets and Moses had proclaimed this.

It seems Paul deliberately wanted to spite Victor by never saying that these Gospel characters had existed, in the only bits that Victor can attempt to show are historical.


And it remains a simple fact that as soon as there is a public church in Acts, almost the entirety of the Gospel characters disappear as though they had never existed.




Just like the Angel Moroni disappeared.


As does any physical resurrection.All we have after their is a public church are visions and trances, where 'Luke' thinks real people teleport from Macedonia to appear in trances.

As soon as Victor feels he is on safe historical ground, his Gospel stories almost entirely disappear from Christian testimony!

Oh Yahweh, thy name is irony!


By the way, just how did 'Luke' get the census so horribly wrong?

Luke managed to get some details like the brother of Seneca right. (Like that information disappeared from history...)

Just why is Luke unable to give a single date for Jesus? He does for John the Baptist, but not Jesus.

Just how did Luke manage to place Judas the Galilean in the census?

Easy.

Luke had no information, apart from anonymous sources like the Gospel of 'Mark', and so had to make things up

For the second half of Acts, Luke may have been there for all I know.

But, of course, the second half of Acts has nothing at all interesting about Jesus, only repeated claims by Paul that he had a vision, read scriptures, and bafflement by Romans, who seem to have no idea that Paul was a follower of a crucified rebel.

Steven Carr said...

'Luke has to know civics and geography from Jerusalem to Malta, and it's the civics of the time, not of 50 years later.'

So there were no geography books or history books written in the 1st century.

Even though Christians also claim that 'Thallus' wrote a chronology in 52 AD.

Could no Christian ever have opened one of the chronology or history books that were written in the 1st century AD?

Victor is making an argument from the fact that his 'historians' conceal from their readers where they got their information from.



All Victor has got is a claim that 'Luke' never says how he knew that the magistrates of Philippi (a really big place) were called praetors - something that even FF Bruce explained was actually a title that OTHER people had.

I quote FF Bruce explaining how 'Luke' mangled the titlesm 'The magistrates of Philippi, which was a Roman colony, are called ‘praetors’ in Acts, and they are attended by ‘lictors’ (the ’serjeants’ of the AV), by whose rods Paul and Silas had so many stripes inflicted on them (Acts xvi. 12, 20 ff., 35 ff.). The strict title of these colonial magistrates was ‘duumvirs’; but they affected the more grandiloquent title of praetors” like the magistrates of another Roman colony, Capua, of whom Cicero says: ‘Although they are called duumvirs in the other colonies, these men wished to be called praetors.”‘'

So Cicero (who Victor thinks 1st century people like Luke had never heard of) called OTHER magistrates praetors, and Luke simply got it wrong.

mattghg said...

Well, Steven is trying very hard indeed.

Blue Devil Knight said...

This is one of the weakest lines of apologetic thought. I thought the martyr arguments were bad. Egads.

There is obviously an impasse here that goes beyond logic. Robert Price makes a great point. Victor switches to a different question (how the details of those miracle-irrelevant facts were obtained).

Just admit, so the sane can be pacified that we are not amongst madness, that having a bunch of mundane details right isn't evidence that nutty claims are also right.

That's it. That's the point. Sure, you can argue about how those other details are right. Different question.

I can give you great details about the city of Durham, NC that are all accurate. Oh, plus at the Durham Bulls Stadium, someone ate a pickled egg and died, the venders chopped off his head, but I was able to revive him with prayer.

Isn't it amazing that I got all the details right about Durham? There must be some credibility to my other claim!

That's it. It's just refuting that silly previous paragraph. Egads. This is really too much.

If the ancient Israelites were so good at being good transmitters of word of mouth, as people have argued they do for many decades in these enclaves, why should we expect facts about where buildings were, and how governments were run, to somehow disappear?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Plus I'm sure these authors had access to writings from 50 years earlier. The problem isn't lack of explanations from the skeptic.

Plus, Paul Manata never answered my question from a couple of threads ago: Do you take the Adam and Eve story literally? If not, why? Could you apply the same reasoning to justify not taking the resurrection story literally, and be a Christian?

Shackleman said...

Psssst, BDK.

Your priors are showing.

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Blue Devil Knight,

As a quick point, I think that your comments concerning this post are actually off the mark by a fair margin.


You said: “Just admit, so the sane can be pacified that we are not amongst madness, that having a bunch of mundane details right isn't evidence that nutty claims are also right.”


This is actually incorrect, as any simple assessment of detective-type work would tell you (and being a police officer, I am actually personally experienced in this matter). Consider the following extreme and imaginative example, but one that proves my point: a detective is assigned to a cold case of a very strange theft that happened 50 years earlier. The detective meets a man, who tells the detective that 50 years ago, he was on vacation taking a stroll in a park that he had only visited during the vacation and to which the man had never returned (you confirmed this), when suddenly a “werewolf” literally burst out of the woods, grabbed the man’s precious-family-heirloom cane, and then ran off with this priceless and irreplaceable cane. The man followed the “werewolf” through the woods, but was ultimately unable to catch him. Reporting this now, 50 years later, the man tells you a very wide variety of specific and very detailed points concerning the park, the path that they were walking on, the location where the “werewolf” burst out, and the path that the man followed when he chased the “werewolf.”

Now, as the detective, you eventually attend this park and discover that all the very specific and detailed points that the man gave about the park are true. Furthermore, all the details that the man gave about the path that he was walking on, the location where the “werewolf” burst out, and the path that the man followed when he chased the “werewolf” were also true. Quite literally, all the details matched.

Continued...

RD Miksa said...

Continued...

Would this then be evidence for the claim that an actual “werewolf” took the man’s priceless cane? Of course it would! Why is this? Because the fact that the man knows a vast number of the mundane details, and has truthfully described them, strongly demonstrates a number of things. It demonstrates that the man is very likely not lying, as he has told all truthful details. It demonstrates that the man very likely has an outstanding memory, because he has remembered all the details accurately after 50 years. It demonstrates that the man was very likely not hallucinating or mentally unstable at the time, as he remembered too many specific details in reference to the occurrence for it to be a hallucination or a mental instability. It demonstrates that the man very likely was not emotional or distraught to the point of confusion, as he remembered specific details of the theft even after he claimed it happened.

The rationale that such demonstrations as articulated above are evidence for the “werewolf” claim is because of two reasons:

1) They assist in the elimination of the other possible explanations (such as that the man was lying or hallucinating), and this naturally strengthens the few explanations that are left, such as the werewolf one.
2) They demonstrate that the man is a credible witness, and since witness testimony is evidence and always has been, then the man’s demonstrated credibility increases the weight and strength of his testimonial evidence for the werewolf claim.

As such, the knowledge of mundane details most certainly is evidence for the more “nutty” claims. You may not consider it strong evidence, but evidence it is.

Furthermore, if the above knowledge was combined with the knowledge that the man had gained nothing from telling this story (such as not gaining any insurance money), but had actually lost due to telling this story (such as being alienated from his family members due to the loss of a precious family heirloom), then this adds further credibility to the man’s testimony, as it removes any motive that he may have had to lose it himself. And let it not be forgotten that in real life, this style of work and evaluation of evidence is used to determine the guilt or innocence of other human beings, and is thus of the most critical sort.

Now, the final point is that perhaps we will never know if the “werewolf” claim is true, but we can most certainly determine it to be the best explanation of our investigative assessment, and thus make it reasonable to believe in until or unless further evidence arises.

And finally, this is what we see with Acts, as Mr. Reppert articulates.

Take care,

RD Miksa

Blue Devil Knight said...

I think there is a little talking past one another here. Hallq and Price make an obvious point (that falsehoods can easily be embedded in stories that have many truths).

The apologists start to arguing is that the biblical stories aren't relevantly similar, but someohow manage to give the impression that they think the original point is false. It isn't false, I hope they would admit. It is so obvious it shouldn't need defending.

Hallq's point is crude, and is sufficient to refute a crude argument. Once we start getting into details about whether the bible stories are analagous enough to make the point against a more sophisicated cumulative argument, then we'll disagree some, and we'll have fun.

Blue Devil Knight said...

RD: thanks that is a very good example, I appreciate you taking the time to write it out. I think you are right. As I suggest in my previous post, I think a few of us were talking past one another.

I thought people were disagreeing with an obvious point, that egregious falsehoods are often embedded in extremely detailed truths, as in the Amityville Horror story. This is clearly a possibility with the accounts of Jesus. Simple point, pretty much obvious. Will work to refute your nutty screaming State Fair Christian.

However, you are right that if someone establishes their general level of reliability, then we would need an explanation of why they would say something nutty. Either it is untrue (there are tones of explanations of how this could happen in someone otherwise reliable), or it is true. This is the level of detail you are getting at, and Victor, and I think that is clearly important to really push the Hallq analogy, but I think he was making a much more obvious caveman point.

That is, getting some details about a government or location of a building right doesn't mean we should buy your miracle stories.

Everything else is getting into more details about cases in which details would confer such evidence. As in your wolfman case.

I agree it is more complicated than the original caveman flat-footed analogy, but let's not miss the forest for the trees here.

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Again Blue Devil Knight,


You said: “Hallq and Price make an obvious point (that falsehoods can easily be embedded in stories that have many truths).”


If this is Hallq’s and Price’s point, then it is also false. Why? Because stories are not independent things; they are not self-existent forms. Stories and histories are pieces of information that are necessarily and unavoidable linked to human beings and human transmission methods. As such, Hallq’s and Price’s “obvious” point should actually be stated as follows: that falsehoods can easily be embedded in stories…dependent totally and utterly of an assessment of the human beings, and the number of them, transmitting the story as well as the reliability of the means of transmission of that story…that have many truths.

For example, it would be extremely difficult for me to believe that a falsehood was embedded in the story that an utterly and consistently trustworthy friend of mine told me he had observed one minute ago with his own eyes.

As such, Hallq’s and Price’s general and “obvious” point, when actually assessed, is a failure.

Take care,

RD Miksa

Blue Devil Knight said...

RD: I have friends who believe they were abducted by aliens. I know people who think they saw ghosts. People lie all the time. There are so many reasons that an egregious error can be embedded in bed of truths, it shouldn't need stating.

If you are a cop you should realize that. Does a hoodlum make every statement a lie, or try to minimize lies to make his story more plausible?

The unqualified denial of my assertion is just clearly false.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Indeed, pickup up the law enforcement angle, my dad was in law enforcement. He would often say it is incredibly hard to disentangle the truth from falsehoods. People lie, honestly just get things wrong, etc.. There are tons of accurate details about major things, and as details get more specific (e.g., times, locations), people's testimony gets less and less reliable.

Consider the Duke lacrosse case.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Before someone starts pointing out that Paul (or whatever) is not Crystal Gail Magnum (the woman who lied about being raped by Duke's lacrosse players), I was making a more general point.

A point that some people agree is obviously, even trivially, true. Others apparently don't. The latter are wrong.

RD Miksa said...

Hello Again Blue Devil Knight,

Thank you for the interesting conversation.


You said: “The unqualified denial of my assertion is just clearly false.”

But I did not deny it without qualification, for I actually affirmed it, but stated that it would need to add the following:

“…that falsehoods can easily be embedded in stories—dependent totally and utterly of an assessment of the human beings, and the number of them, transmitting the story as well as the reliability of the means of transmission of that story—that have many truths.”

What I am thus saying this that Hallq’s and Price’s statement is clearly false, because it is necessarily incomplete. This is because their statement excludes a necessary and unavoidable element to its claim: namely that all stories/histories are linked to the human being that tell them and the methods that transmit them. You cannot separate the two, and thus cannot make the claim that falsehoods can easily be embedded in truth without necessarily assessing the human beings involved in it, for such falsehoods would necessarily be inserted by human beings, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

So again, their statement is false because it is incomplete to the point of being useless due to this incompleteness.

Take care,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

"...it is incredibly hard to disentangle the truth from falsehoods."

Now this, is very, very true.

RD Miksa

Victor Reppert said...

Walter: Credentials don't immunize you from ignoring evidence. How does Pervo deal with the evidence that I have just mentioned? If he's going to put Acts in the second century, he's got to come to terms with the evidence, largely discovered by Sir William Ramsay early in the 20th Century, suggesting that Luke had accurate information that he could only have gotten by a) being meticulous about the facts and b) having access to those facts. Does he deal with this evidence, or does he ignore it? If he ignores the evidence, he's got a problem, regardless of his credentials.

To illustrate the difficulty of Luke's accomplishment, let me give you a list of American cities of various sizes.

Boston, MA
Paducah, KY
Durham, NC
Glendale, AZ
Peoria, IL
South Bend, IN
Atlanta, GA
Champaign, IL
Phoenix, AZ
DeKalb, IL
Conway, AR
Paris, TX
Youngtown, OH
Tujunga, CA
Rockaway, NJ

Different cities have different municipal governments. They typically all have mayors. But some have vice-mayors, others don't, some have city managers, other don't, and while they typically have city councils, different citites have different numbers of members of those councils.

Now, can you tell me which ones have vice-mayors, which ones have city managers, and how many people are on the city council for each city? I happen to have listed several cities I have lived in, and I don't think I could answer it for any of them without a little research.

Sure, you can go online and get that information. But there's no online. Is all this info in an almanac somewhere that Luke could have gotten his hands on easily? I doubt it. These places are spread all over. Maybe some of them were found in Fodor's Guide to Asia Minor. But all of them?

Now, BDK, Hallq's point does show that it is possible for falsehoods to be embedded in largely truthful accounts. However, this kind of truthfulness is certainly inductive evidence for even the supernatural claims. The claims, so far as I can see, aren't nutty, they simply involve the miraculous. To illustrate this, let's assume that you have to accept some supernatural claims. You can either accept Luke's stories, or you can accept Philostratus's account of Appolonius of Tyana, who has its hero in Nineveh long after it was destroyed. Who do you choose? Clearly it has to be Luke. So, it IS evidence for the claim. Mind you, probably not the extraordinary evidence you are going to need, but the fact that Luke passes his civics test with flying colors (as Price admits) is more likely to be true if Christian miracles did happen than if Christian miracles did not happen. It's evidence, Bayes' theorem at work.

Victor Reppert said...

Oh and to make my little thought experiment fit the case of second century authorship, you would have to get the information about what the city governmental structure is, not for 2010, but for 1950. Good luck.

Walter said...

How does Luke know all these names and titles? Here is what Richard Carrier has to say:


Luke almost certainly knew and drew upon the works of Josephus (or else an amazing series of coincidences remains in want of an explanation), and therefore Luke and Acts were written at the end of the 1st century, or perhaps the beginning of the 2nd. This also results in the realization that almost every famous person, institution, place or event mentioned in L that can be checked against other sources is also found in Josephus, so that efforts to prove the veracity of L by appealing to these checks is cut short by the fact that he appears to have gotten all this information from Josephus, and simply cut-and-pasted it into his own "history" in order to give his story an air of authenticity and realism. He could thus, for all we know, have been writing historical fiction--using real characters and places, and putting them in fictional situations, all dressed up as history--history with a message, and an apologetic purpose. We thus cannot really know what in L is true or false with regard to the origins of Christianity or the actions of early Christians, since these particular details are the most prone to manipulation for didactic, symbolic, politico-ecclesiastical and apologetic reasons, and have very little if any external corroboration (and no external corroboration from a non-Christian).

Walter said...

Neil Godfrey on the late dating of Acts

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Walter,

Two points:

You said: “Luke almost certainly knew and drew upon the works of Josephus (or else an amazing series of coincidences remains in want of an explanation), and therefore Luke and Acts were written at the end of the 1st century, or perhaps the beginning of the 2nd.”

Really…or perhaps we could simply rephrase it as follows (with argument for the position to eventually follow):

“Josephus almost certainly knew and drew upon the works of Luke (or else an amazing series of coincidences remains in want of an explanation), and therefore Luke and Acts were written sometime between 50 AD to 70 AD.”

I did not know that an early dating of Acts was so easy!


You said: “This also results in the realization that almost every famous person, institution, place or event mentioned in L that can be checked against other sources is also found in Josephus.”

Mr. Carrier pulls a dangerous move here, and it surrounds the use of the term “famous.” The problem is, without a clear definition of whom and what is to be considered famous Mr. Carrier has a fool-proof “No True Scotsman” fallacy argument. Namely, if there is agreement between Luke and Josephus, the person or event is famous and Luke stole it, but if there is no agreement, then the person or event was not famous.

So, until Mr. Carrier provides a clear definition of “famous” his agreement is endlessly amorphous and can thus be avoided till more accurately defined.

Take care,

RD Miksa

Anonymous said...

toddes writing:

Bravo, RD. Clear and succinct responses.

Also, thank you for your service as a law enforcement officer. You all take way too much abuse and get so little praise. Again, thank you.

Walter said...

I do not have the expertise in the relevant fields to determine who was copying whom. What Carrier and Pervo have shown is one possibility where Acts can be dated to the second century while still having access to certain historical details that are so impressive for Victor. I personally do not care that much whether Acts was written three weeks after Jesus' death or seventy years later. It will still take much more to convince me that the far-fetched supernatural tales contained within these documents actually happened. Of course, that probably just my "priors" or "naturalistic presuppositions" showing. ;)

Victor Reppert said...

According to Norman Geisler (admittedly a biblical apologist), "In all, Luke names thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine islands without error."{8}

Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Books, 1999), 47.

Malta is not mentioned in the Antiquities. The Josephus explanation is inadequate.

Tim said...

Walter,

Why are you linking to a Christ myther's regurgitation of Pervo's list of some weak parallels between Luke and Josephus? Do you personally find these kinds of parallels compelling? Do you think anyone else should?

Walter said...

I find them compelling. Whether Godfrey is a Christ-myther or not is irrelevant to this discussion. Nice way to poison the well, though.

Victor Reppert said...

What is sufficient to persuade is going to be dependent on antecedent probabilities. However, what is evidence for something can be recognized even if the evidence is not sufficient to persuade. Lukan accuracy is far, far, more probable given the hypothesis of Jesus's resurrection and the supernatural character of the founding of Christianity than it is given the hypothesis of a naturalistic origin of Christianity. That much should be perfectly clear. Therefore, Lukan accuracy is evidence for the supernatural origin of Christianity, even though you may find it to be insufficient evidence. Again, Bayes' theorem at work. It is also difficult to understand how understand how someone from that time could be meticulously accurate with respect to one set of events that he records, and, at the same time, be massively deluded about another set of events. It's not as if his readers would be equipped to call him out on it if he got a lot of this stuff wrong. The genre of well-researched historical fiction did not exist back then.

Martyrdom risk behavior is one phenomenon that is certainly more likely given a resurrection than given no resurrection. Lukan accuracy is another item of this sort.

Tim said...

Walter,

Thanks for explaining that you personally find such weak parallels compelling.

Nice way to poison the well, though.

Actually, it wasn't. All you said was "Neil Godfrey on the late dating of Acts," which is certainly open to the interpretation that you were commending these views as worthy of consideration because they are his opinions. The fact that his positions place him on the lunatic fringe as judged, so far as I can tell, by every single ancient historian and New Testament scholar -- evangelical, mainstream, liberal, Jewish, agnostic, atheist, or none of the above -- who holds a job at an accredited institution is a pertinent consideration in the evaluation of that proposal, since it is strong evidence that he has spectacularly bad judgment.

But now that you've clarified that you aren't appealing to him as any kind of authority but that you personally find the parallels he cites to be convincing evidence for the late date of Acts, you're quite right that we don't have to worry about Godfrey's judgment.

And since his arguments are, on their own merits, atrociously bad, we don't have to worry about his reasoning either.

Walter said...

You guys win!

I have seen the error of my ways and am seeking out a Kingdom Hall to worship at. I'm going Jehovah's Witness.

Lukan accuracy has convinced me that Jesus really did fly up into the clouds on his way to heaven. It also convinced me that Paul's hankies and aprons could actually heal people as per Acts 19:12. Let's not forget the story of Peter's very shadow possibly healing people as in Acts 5:15.

Victor Reppert said...

I had no idea your priors for that were so high.

RD Miksa said...

Good Day toddes,

Thank you very much for your nice comment. I truly appreciate it.

Take care,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

Victor Reppert said:

"Martyrdom risk behavior is one phenomenon that is certainly more likely given a resurrection than given no resurrection. Lukan accuracy is another item of this sort."

And it is precisely the combination of these two things, as demonstrated in my example, which gives the overall argument that much strength.

Take care,

RD Miksa

Victor Reppert said...

RD. Precisely. Martyrdom risk behavior is aimed at deliberate fraud theses. If people like Peter, or even Paul, could know that these claims about Christ's resurrection were not true, what were they doing promulgating such stories at such high cost to themselves? If we claim, however, that they somehow sincerely came by their beliefs and put themselves at risk for something that had grown up through legendary development and mental distortion over time, then their acts of martyrdom risk behavior do not seem less surprising.

Lukan accuracy won't help us much if we suspect deliberate fraud, if we really think he was a hoaxter trying to fool us about what had happened. Although, he doesn't need to be nearly as precise as he is even for that. However, having an accurate chronicler close to events which are claimed to be miracles, and also having a chronicler close in time to the martyrdom risk behavior cuts off other options for naturalistic explanation.

Anonymous said...

Ahahahah....Ok, I'm a fairly conservative Christian and I think Price's scholarship is laughable. But you have to admit that this quote is hilarious, and he has a gift for describing aspects of the faith in the most disparaging way possible. The part about resurrecting people they bored to death...hahhahahah!!!

Victor Reppert said...

That's right up there with the bit about snot rags.

Blue Devil Knight said...

However, having an accurate chronicler close to events which are claimed to be miracles, and also having a chronicler close in time to the martyrdom risk behavior cuts off other options for naturalistic explanation.

This is the crux, and I just don't see how people are buying it.

There are so many obvious ways to be wrong in one's reports of others' martyr-risk behavior, while being correct on details about government agencies, that I still have trouble seeing what the big deal is here.


Maybe I deal with more deluded intelligent, people in my work on a day-to-day basis than you guys. Having personally known alien "abductees" (indeed, a couple that claimed it happened together!), among other extremely reliable claims, and in the context of extremely strong beliefs that it actually happened (not casual, not lying, they really believed, were very emotional, and even angry that I didn't believe it). That's just one of many examples. And that was in 20th century America, much less the tendentious millenia-old holy texts from times when superstition was run amok.

Perhaps I am in one extreme range of prior-ville to find these arguments so extremely uncompelling (seriously, I sometimes wonder if you find them compelling, but as time goes on I have realized you really truly do!). I tend to try to explain everything within a naturalistic framework, unless there is really compelling evidence that I should not.

So yes, perhaps I am a hard-core naturalist, but it seems those buying these arguments to such a strong degree are in another extreme. When I talk to people who are more noncommital about these topics, they tend to think the arguments are interesting, but not compelling (they have less trouble believing that the texts got some things wrong even though some other parts of the texts are correct).

Blue Devil Knight said...

And yes, I mean psychiatric patients. The 'liar, lunatic, lord' argument (another one I have trouble believing Victor actually thinks has any merit, because the holes seem so large) whitewashes the complexities of psychiatric conditions, human psychology, and the rather amazing ability of people to integrate falsehoods into a tapestry that is largely true. Intelligent people are very good at confabulating, believing crazy stuff, somehow integrating it into an overarching framework that has many reliable details.

So I would agree with RD's claim that it is very hard to know what's up unless we know an incredible amount of detail about someone's history, personal psychology, and hell even their brain. I fail to see how that helps the Christian make his case. THat only gives the skeptic about three dozen more explanations for someone thinking they were abducted...I mean witnessed a miracle.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I strongly recommend Mack's book on alien abductions (he was a psychiatrist). My hunch is many of those buying the arguments here from Victor will come away thinking that alien abduction is real. Mack was a Harvard Psychiatrist, went into his studies rather skeptical, and came out merely chronicling what these other witnesses experienced. Hundreds of witnesses at different times, with many similar corroborating details.

Perhaps a good case study in your priors, not on the supernatural, but on the general reliability of a species with intelligence, pattern recognition, and confabulation (i.e., storytelling) skills run amok because of our large brains.

Blue Devil Knight said...

My hunch is Mack, before he started writing on this topic, had at least as much credibility as Paul (or whomever wrote whatever books in the NT).

So, read Mack, then get back to me. :)

Frankly, I find alien abduction stories more credible than the Jesus resurrection story, but I don't believe either of them.

Walter said...

Reading some of the very wild tales contained in the book of Acts, it surprises me that I once believed this stuff without a second thought. Such is the power of religious indoctrination. If Acts were not included in a canon of books that western culture considers to be the Holy and sacred word of God, then I think very few people would be spilling a lot of ink trying to defend the fantastical claims contained within its pages.

PatrickH said...

So if nobody thought Acts was true, nobody would be defending it as true! Good point, Walter.

Anonymous said...

"Martyrdom risk behavior"

Like Jim Jones,David Koresh or a Heavens gate.

Their beliefs are more likely to be true given their martydom risk behavior.

Walter said...

So if nobody thought Acts was true, nobody would be defending it as true!

What I was implying was that if these same tales were found in ancient documents completely outside of the sacred traditions of our culture, many more people would consider these tales to be nothing more than superstitious BS. I have read some of the outlandish tales that exist in the apocryphal gospels and Acts literature that did not "make the cut" into our current orthodox canon of scripture. Most Christians easily dismiss those stories as pious fiction written by later generations of well-meaning believers, yet they will rigorously defend implausible tales existing within the "official" canon as being completely historical, citing Luke's apparent verisimilitude as evidence that it all must be completely true.

Victor will argue that my "priors" must be too low for that line of argumentation to be effective in convincing me that Peter's shadow or Paul's "snot rags" could actually heal people of diseases, or dispel demons from the possessed. I agree with Victor--my priors are too low.

Victor Reppert said...

BDK: I'm not going to rule alien abductions out a priori. Why should I? What is there is what I believe that gives me an overwhelming reason to think this couldn't have happened? There's nothing in my theology that says that there couldn't be life on other planets.

Looking at Hallquist's book, it looks like alien cases could be explained as hallucinations.

Victor Reppert said...

I think we have to be a little bit careful about what I am doing with these arguments. The argument has never, never, never, been that Lukan accuracy on non-miraculous matters logically entails that he was right about the miracle reports in Acts or the resurrection. What the Lukan accuracy argument is designed to show is that he had access to information about everywhere Paul went in his missionary journeys. My hypothesis is that he was a companion of Paul. Of course, he could have been a companion of Paul, and yet nothing miraculous happened, and Luke got confused and thought there were miracles.

The second claim I wanted to make was that this kind of meticulous accuracy is inductive evidence for his miracle claims, even if we end up concluding that they did not occur. The kind of accuracy Luke achieved took both effort to be accurate and access to the information.

Now, what about the intrinic plausibility of the miracle claims themselves? Difficulties come from both the miraculous nature of the events themselves, and the time in which they are supposed to have occurred. But is there something else about the miracle reports in Acts that make them particularly unbelievable?

GearHedEd said...

Luke 1:1-4

Admits in the first sentence that he himself is NOT an eyewitness, andis relying on the testtimony of others...

GearHedEd said...

...and the most convincing way to tell a lie is to tell the truth...


but not ALL of it.

Victor Reppert said...

Nobody thinks that Luke was an eyewitness to the life of Jesus, which is what Luke is about. We think he was a companion of Paul. So I don't know where this is going.

GearHedEd said...

Actually, I was responding to an earlier post, Vic.

Just serendipitous that it doveteiled so nicely with the comment directly above it...

GearHedEd said...

Isn't it generally acknowledged that Paul never met Jesus either, even though he was a Pharisee and spent sopme time in and around Jerusalem when Jesus was supposed to have been wandering around the hills preaching, and angering the rest of the Pharisees?

GearHedEd said...

So we have a bunch of non-eyewitness stories and letters from a pair of guys who never met Jesus telling a bunch of errant congregations that they're not worshipping correctly (most of the Pauline epistles)?

GearHedEd said...

...and this in less than 30 years after the alleged resurrection?

Kinda stretchy, if you ask me...

GearHedEd said...

Not to mention that there are easy refutations of the "they wouldn't martyr themselves for a lie" apologetic.

For example, the Romans might have decided to execute them for other reasons, and the local band of Christians, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, claimed it was because they were Christians, even though the Romans were quite possibly unaware of it.

GearHedEd said...

The reason I don't believe these tales is because they all seem to default to the most outrageous possibilities, when there are other explanations handy.

GearHedEd said...

The whole resurrection story is absurd. For what purpose would an omnipotent God have (or needed to have) sent an avatar of Himself to be a blood sacrifice to Himself so that he could "wash away the sins" that he Himself arranged for us to have without our informed consent in the first place, and then end up not being dead after all?

As another blogger noted, that was just a bad weekend.

Seriously, there are holes big enough to park a galaxy in, and I'm not talking about the Ford automobile here.

You Christians believe this stuff because you want to, but the fact remains that much pious writing was thrown out during the canonization process, mainly because it didn't agree with the (ultimately) accepted canonical gospels.

At the end of the day, most Christians believe what the early Roman Catholic Councils allowed to be published as "truth", without a dissenting opinion present.

GearHedEd said...

Which brings us back to "the most convincing way to tell a lie is to tell the truth...


but not ALL of it."

RD Miksa said...

Good Day GearHedEd,

You said: “Which brings us back to "the most convincing way to tell a lie is to tell the truth...but not ALL of it.”

This is such utter hogwash—although it is a very common idea, which is why it is so frequently repeated—that it takes only a moment of reflection to refute.

Does an undercover police officer, who must be a professional liar, tell the truth, but not all of it? Does he tell the criminals he is trying to integrate with that: “I used to be a police officer, but am not one anymore, so I am good to go.” Or does he invent a total and comprehensive lie, which totally covers the truth in every and all possible ways?

Does a spy, who must be a professional liar, tell the truth, but not all of it? Does he tell the people he is trying to get information from: “I used to be an Israeli citizen, but am not one anymore, so you can trust me.” Or does he invent a total and comprehensive lie, which totally covers the truth in every and all possible ways?

Only a moment’s reflection will tell you the answers to these questions, and will thus tell you the value of your earlier statement.

Take care,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

Good Day to All,

The fact is that so far, no naturalistic-atheist has defeated the major point being argued here—which I tried to demonstrate in my earlier example. Namely, that eyewitness testimony, such as Luke claims to provides, is evidence of an event, whether the event is miraculous or not. And then the second point, which is that the truthfulness and accuracy of the testimony serves to rule out certain naturalistic explanations (such as hallucinating or outright forgery), and when combined with the lack of motive, serves to rule out any nefarious purposes for the accurate story.

This is the very process that we use to prove life and death situations in courts of law, and thus is an entirely legitimate piece of evidence. And a forceful one at that.

Take care,

RD Miksa

Walter said...



The fact is that so far, no naturalistic-atheist has defeated the major point being argued here—which I tried to demonstrate in my earlier example. Namely, that eyewitness testimony, such as Luke claims to provides, is evidence of an event, whether the event is miraculous or not.


Eyewitness testimony is evidence of an event. But is the author of Luke-Acts an actual eyewitness? Has the document been redacted at any point in its history before appearing in the form that we have today? Despite speculations of early authorship we really cannot say for sure when Luke-Acts was penned, or if what we have today has never been tampered with. The chain of evidence is not secure.

Blue Devil Knight said...

RD so you should believe people are abducted by aliens. Read the books 'Communion' by Strieber and John Macks' book Abduction.

This will give a good sense for how strongly eyewitnesses believe. And Mack destroyed his career (Pulitzer Prize winning Harvard Psychiatrist) in pushing this stuff.

I'd believe the alien stories before the Jesus stories, and I don't believe the alien stories. I guess this is a good measure of one's priors even when we keep the supernatural stuff out of it. It may actually be smart to keep the supernatural out of it temporarily, as that only further flames irrationality in the discussion (in both believers and nonbelievers (e.g., Loftus)).

Victor Reppert said...

BDK: As I indicated, I have no a priori reason to disbelieve stories of alien abductions, though they may turn out to be hallucinatory.

And yes, I believe we have evidence for alien abductions. To say we have no evidence for either alien abductions or the Resurrection is to abuse the notion of evidence.

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Blue Devil Knight,

Quite literally, I would have said actually what Mr. Reppert has said, so you can consider that my opinion on the matter as well.

Take care,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Walter,

Just a few quick point:

1) The chain of evidence for anything is never fully secure, because chains of evidence depend on human beings for their security and continuity. The question is: how insecure was the chain?

2) If I wished, for the sake of argument, to accept your point that Luke was not an eyewitness, then my evidence does not disappear, but simply turns into the weaker form of hearsay evidence. But then, I suddenly realize that I have four sources of hearsay evidence (the four gospels, although I am only now considering them none eyewitness for the sake of argument), which when combined, creates a case of circumstantial evidence. Perhaps my case is weaker now (perhaps not as well), but it is in no way wholly defeated. And again, I admit these points only for the sake of argument.

Take care,

RD Miksa

Mark said...

If you believe in alien abductions, I wonder why you take Jesus' resurrection to be such a strong indicator of supernatural agency as opposed to extraterrestrial agency.

Victor Reppert said...

I didn't say I believed in alien abductions. I said that nothing in my theology makes alien abductions inadmissible a priori. I said they look like candidates for hallucination, however. It looks to me like you need hallucinations to account for people like Whitley Streiber.

Will we eventually develop the technology to resurrect our loved ones? Aliens could abduct us, but can they resurrect us?

Mark said...

I don't think anyone's ruling anything out a priori. What precisely is your basis for describing the cases in, e.g., Mack's book as hallucinations?

Will we eventually develop the technology to resurrect our loved ones? Aliens could abduct us, but can they resurrect us?

No idea. But if aliens were "behind" Jesus, I doubt they'd need to actually resurrect him in order to produce the outward effects narrated in the NT.

David said...

Thanks BDK and RD for giving me something to talk about with my wife on the porch this late summer evening. Thanks also to Vic for a conversation starter to a 22 year marriage with a wife that always wants to hear about what I have read for the day, experienced and thought about today (don't tell her that most of my thoughts were on how to fix my pickup truck).

Victor Reppert said...

If aliens were "behind" Jesus, they would be guilty of perpetrating a fraud. If God were behind Jesus, he could be telling us the truth. If aliens offered us everlasting life and tried to convince us that they could deliver it by resurrecting Jesus, when in fact they couldn't, I would consider that a cruel hoax. Since I think highly of the moral character of Christ and the Apostles, I think that leans me more in the direction of Christianity as opposed to alienism.

Victor Reppert said...

I am interested in seeing BDK's arguments against alien abductions, since he doesn't believe in them.

Anonymous said...

RD Miksa said... "Does an undercover police officer, who must be a professional liar, tell the truth, but not all of it? Does he tell the criminals he is trying to integrate with that: “I used to be a police officer, but am not one anymore, so I am good to go.” Or does he invent a total and comprehensive lie, which totally covers the truth in every and all possible ways?"

A undercover police officer will tell the crooks he wants to become one of the boys, say he`s keen on smoking some drugs and keen on getting involved in their robbery scene.Which in that sense is all quite true.

But what he wont tell them is his reason is because he is an undercover police officer,who want to infiltrate the ranks.

Good Day GearHedEd,.."You said: “Which brings us back to "the most convincing way to tell a lie is to tell the truth...but not ALL of it.”

This is such utter hogwash—although it is a very common idea, which is why it is so frequently repeated—that it takes only a moment of reflection to refute."

Care to explain why its such hogwash.

Anonymous said...

RD Miska.."Does a spy, who must be a professional liar, tell the truth, but not all of it? Does he tell the people he is trying to get information from: “I used to be an Israeli citizen, but am not one anymore, so you can trust me.” Or does he invent a total and comprehensive lie, which totally covers the truth in every and all possible ways?"

No he says im an Israeli citizen,which is best because he already has the foreign accent.He might tell about many truths of his home place of birth and family .So as to looks open and upfront like he is completely honest ,he tells things that he knows is ok for people to even check up on.So hopefully this makes them feel relaxed and trusting of him.These provible half truth are even a very important part of his cover,to help gain more trust

What he dont tell them or anyone much about is secretly he is a secret agent and spy.

Mark said...

If aliens were "behind" Jesus, they would be guilty of perpetrating a fraud. If God were behind Jesus, he could be telling us the truth. If aliens offered us everlasting life and tried to convince us that they could deliver it by resurrecting Jesus, when in fact they couldn't, I would consider that a cruel hoax. Since I think highly of the moral character of Christ and the Apostles, I think that leans me more in the direction of Christianity as opposed to alienism.

I don't understand this. There are all sorts of reasons hypothetical aliens might deceive us about Jesus while having him exemplify some moral superlative. Perhaps they wanted to gently guide ancient civilization along to a more humane state without alerting us to their existence. Perhaps they were simply conducting interesting sociological experiments. Granted, the prior probability they'd be doing these things, or that it'd take the form of the events of the NT if they were doing them, isn't particularly high; but neither is the prior probability that the omnipotent creator of the universe would choose to communicate his most important truths for humanity by interacting with a handful of peasants in some provincial backwater circa 0 A.D.

Walter said...

RD says...1) The chain of evidence for anything is never fully secure, because chains of evidence depend on human beings for their security and continuity. The question is: how insecure was the chain?

We can never know since the evidence comes to us from one biased institution. If this was the creator's chosen method for revealing himself to us, it seems not well thought out.

Rd says...2) If I wished, for the sake of argument, to accept your point that Luke was not an eyewitness, then my evidence does not disappear, but simply turns into the weaker form of hearsay evidence. But then, I suddenly realize that I have four sources of hearsay evidence (the four gospels, although I am only now considering them none eyewitness for the sake of argument), which when combined, creates a case of circumstantial evidence. Perhaps my case is weaker now (perhaps not as well), but it is in no way wholly defeated. And again, I admit these points only for the sake of argument.

Why combine them? The gospels can be shown to have a literary interdependency to them. In other words, at least three of the authors were cribbing from one of the others. What you really have is one, original hearsay account found in the shortest gospel attributed to "Mark." The following evangelists were simply expanding the story or correcting "theological mistakes" in what they saw in Mark's account. What you do not have is four completely independent testimonies.

It is my argument that no text of the New Testament is written by an actual eyewitness of the historical Jesus. We have hearsay from later generations of believers, much like the outrageous tales found in the apocryphal books about Jesus and Peter and Paul that were not included in the official canon of the "orthodox."

GearHedEd said...

About the "most convincing way to lie":

I used to use this method on my parents when I was a teenager all the time, and I got away with it repeatedly because I could look them in the eye and not flinch, knowing that what I was telling them was in fact true... but not ALL the truth.

SImilarly, I bet I could beat a lie detector with this technique, as long as I wasn't pressed too hard. Because I would be literally telling the truth... but not all of it.

If Satan, the Master of Lies wrote the Bible, all of you Christians would still believe, because you haven't the powers of discernment to winnow out the truth from the lies, and the Bible would still look exactly like it DOES.

Personally, I don't believe this- Satan is YOUR myth, not mine; but if you're honest, you MUST consider this as a real possibility.

Bilbo said...

Actually we have at least six sources for information on Jesus in the NT: Mark, Q, Matthew's unique material, Luke's unique material, John, and Paul.

Bilbo said...

Mark, what's even more improbable than the God of the universe revealing Himself in a backwater country, is that we are all discussing and debating about it 2,000 years later. Pretty cool, huh? Who would think God could accomplish so much from such an insignificant event?

GearHedEd said...

Think about it for a minute,

What's the most divisive force on Planet Earth?

Religion.

How many major religions claim authority based on, at a minimum, parts of the SAME Old Testament?

Three.

How many different sects of those three major religions are there, and don't each of those (with trivial exceptions) claim exclusive possession of the truth?

WHo knows, but the number is literally in the tens of thousands, due to the Bible being so vague and open to interpretation, CAUSING all this controversy and conflict.

Who would benefit the MOST from confusing everyone on Planet Earth?



Satan.

Bilbo said...

So Gearhead, since you're good at discerning the truth, which parts of Acts are true, and which are made up?

Bilbo said...

Gearhead, I don't think Islam is based on the O.T.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Victor asked why I don't believe alien abduction stories.

It depends on the person. There are thousands of people who claim to be abductees. They get claims right about where a particular street is, and could probably tell you who the president was 20 years ago.

And they claim that an alien species traveled to Earth, took them up to their spacecraft, and performed experiments on them. Multiple sincere eyewitness accounts.

Strangely, none of them have managed to capture evidence beyond their own testimony. And when the claims are this incredible, that's what I'd need. No video, no artifacts, etc..

It's more plausible that they are wrong (with errors introduced in a ton of different ways, perhaps some hallucination, some memory distortion,some tricks and lies and deceit from other people, some were on drugs, some psychotic, etc). These errors have been amplified, confabulation kicks in, people take them seriously so the stories get retold and the story crystallizes with retellings.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I think people may underestimate the subtelty of psychosis/schizo incidentally. People imagine psychotics as looning dangerous nutballs. That is one extreme, and at one end of the probability distribution for psychoses. The movie A Beautiful Mind did a decent enough job with more mundane schizophrenic experiences. That's one reason I don't like the 'liar lunatic lord' argument: the word 'lunatic' evokes images of a ranting madman.

Psychotic people can be incredibly lucid, intelligent, honest, calm. It's not like they are all like the cat lady on the Simpsons.

I imagine that 2000 years ago, there weren't a lot of good drugs available for such run-of-the-mill psychotics/schizophrenics....

GearHedEd said...

Bilbo said,

"Gearhead, I don't think Islam is based on the O.T."

Me: "The Islamic holy books are the records which most Muslims believe were dictated by God to various prophets, with the Qur'an as the last book. Muslims believe that parts of the previously revealed scriptures, the Tawrat (Torah) and the Injil (Gospels), had become distorted—either in interpretation, in text, or both."

Islam wiki

Distorted, but still respected as revealed word of God. ANd all three major religions claim descent through Abraham, a mythological character found in Genesis:

"Muslims have a tradition that Muhammed, as a Mecca-region Arab, descends from Abraham's son Ishmael."

Abrahamic Religions wiki

GearHedEd said...

Bilbo said,

"So Gearhead, since you're good at discerning the truth, which parts of Acts are true, and which are made up?"

I sholdn't dignify this obvious contempt, but here goes:

I'm in the same boat as the rest of you when it comes to discerning "truth". On the other hand, I'm probably substantially better than most at seeing bullshit for what it is, and not pretending that it's somehow sweet-smelling "truth".

If we were both characters in the story "The Emperor's New Clothes", you (and all the rest of the Christians) would be the folks who are afraid to look like fools; fawning over the invisible fabrics, saying, "How lovely! How magnificent! I can see the gold and silver threads, and how cunningly they are woven into the cloth!"

I'm the little boy who says during the parade,

"But he's naked!"

Blue Devil Knight said...

RD said it is false that lies are more effective when embedded in the truth, and used undercover officers/spies as a counterexample.

Not convincing, RD. IT's much more subtle than that. They need to play a role much more sophisticated. Sure, they lie about many things. But they need to show knowledge of the culture they are trying to penetrate; a Russian spy should know basic American history and geography, show enough knowledge to pass as an American.

Obviously they have to also conceal many truths. That is, don't blow your cover.

GearHedEd said...

As a general thought:

Whereas Luke 1:1-4 claims upfront that he's not an eyewitness, and

Whereas the statement has been made that Luke and Paul were probably travelling companions, and

Whereas Paul also gives no indication in ANY of his writings that he knew anything personally about Jesus despite being a Pharisee that SHOULD have known at least something about the alleged resurrection prior to the infamous "Road to Damascus" incident described in Acts 9, and

Whereas EVERYONE connected textually with Jesus in the Gospels has completely VANISHED from further texts after Acts 9:

(Y'all can see where this is going, no?)

I submit that everything before Acts 9 is stage-setting, and that everything after the infamous "Road to Damascus" incident is probably historical, at least as much as anything is considered "historical" in any other early "historical" writings.

Things that make you go, "Hmmmm..."

Miracles

Before Acts: 9? Many

After Acts 9:? Almost nothing, save vague statements of the "Holy Spirit descending on them" in Acts 11, and Peter's "miraculous" escape from prison in Acts 12 (who was there to record the circumstances of Peter's escape? And didn't he at first think he was "seeing a vision (Acts 12:9)? He should have trusted his first impression).

GearHedEd said...

OK, there's some blurring of the "miracles/no miracles" line I drew at Acts 9, but the point is made nonetheless. When we proceed just a little farther into Acts, it becomes a chronicle of Paul's evangelical journeys, and all the old apostles are missing, and there are essentially no more miraculous claims.

Mark said...

Mark, what's even more improbable than the God of the universe revealing Himself in a backwater country, is that we are all discussing and debating about it 2,000 years later. Pretty cool, huh? Who would think God could accomplish so much from such an insignificant event?

Even still, the omnipotent creator of the universe could've done much better. "I will communicate my grand message to these illiterate Judeans so that thousand of years later, most of humanity will be somewhat familiar with the name of my emissary."

Tim said...

It is completely unclear to me why GearHedEd thinks it would be a point in his favor if the latter part of Acts contained no reported miracles. The suggestion that the gospels and the earlier parts of Acts are entirely fabricated does not warrant serious discussion.

But for the record, here is a partial list of miracles recounted in Acts from chapter 10 onward:

* Peter is liberated from prison by an angel (Acts 12:5-11)

* Paul temporarily blinds the sorcerer Elymas (Acts 13:9-12)

* Paul and Barnabas work miracles on their missionary journey (Acts 14:3)

* Paul cures the lame man of Lystra (Acts 14:7-9)

* Paul exorcises girl possessed of a divining spirit (Acts 16:16-18)

* Chains fall from Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16:25-30)

* Paul raises Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9-12)

* Paul shakes off a viper from his arm and suffers no hurt (Acts 28:3-6)

* Paul heals Publius’s father of dysentery (Acts 28:7-8)

* Paul heals all the sick brought to him on Malta (Acts 28:9)

Victor Reppert said...

All the stuff PRICE was referring to in negative comment I quoted in the original post.

Anonymous said...

I've read Mack, Jacobs, and a host of other authors on alien abduction. I've seen folkloric explanations, psychological, all of it. There are always going to be a million different naturalistic explanations spun out to attempt to explain any strange phenomena (as it should be). Nevertheless, I am not ashamed to admit that after reading widely in this area, I have no problem at all accepting that there could be something real going on in these cases - even if there are hallucinatory, folkloric, and exaggerated and/or fabricated elements in many of the accounts. In fact, however embarrassing it may be for an academic to admit belief in anything associated with "flying saucers", I tend to think people who have read widely in this area, and are still hyper-skeptical, are more likely to be less rational and unbiased in their assessment of the data.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon: good then we may have found a topic of disagreement in which miracles play no role, but that brings our different standards to the fore.

Of course it isn't an a priori question whether people have been abducted. The question is what is most reasonable, in light of all the evidence and our knowledge of how humans work.

Anonymous said...

BDK - I think alien abduction accounts often contain elements that approach the miraculous, and _UFOs & Abductions: Challenging the Borders of Knowledge_ discusses various "transcendent" aspects of these experiences (abductees floating through walls, etc.). There is also so much overlap with religious and paranormal experience, shamanic trance states, as well as experiments involving psychadelics (Dimethyltryptamine, ketamine, etc.), and various other altered states of consciousness - e.g., the "sense of presence", "possession" experiences, prophetic forewarnings, etc. Anomalous experiences like these have so much in common with what falls under the rubric of "the miraculous", and are simply so common, that, without making some extremely hasty judgements about the veridicality of these experiences as well, I would not be able to concede that we are discussing something non-miraculous. (A good book, if anyone is interested, is _Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence_. Various experts review the research on out of body experience, mystical experience, hallucinations, abduction, near death experience, psi, lucid dreaming, etc.)

Nor would I be able to speak of categories as vague and nebulous (and hopelessly optimistic, if not arrogant) as "all the evidence" and "our knowledge of how humans work". It takes several lifetimes to appreciate all of the evidence on even one of these topics. And the so-called "knowledge of how humans work" is seldom a neutral subject, and often begs the question in favor of the status quo.

I think, more to the point of this thread, I'll say this...

Alien abductions need to be considered in their own light. If you have reasons for coming down where you do in this matter, other than "aliens make me giggle", that's great. You can reject the alien hypothesis on those grounds. The Christian beliefs regarding the resurrection of Christ, whether grounded or not, are not at all affected by one's acceptance or rejection of the abduction phenomena. I can think of too many ways in which the evidence, the religio-historical context, and the entire epistemological framework for the arguments are too incongruous to assert that acceptance of one, engenders acceptance of another. Further, were this the case, it wouldn't necessarily say anything negative about either.

RD Miksa said...

Hello to All,

I have been working, so I apologize for the lack of response from me.

First off, reference my “spy/undercover police officer” point. It is granted that the matter is more subtle, but we need to remember what was being claimed, which was that: the most convincing way to lie is to tell the truth, but not all of it. It was not simply being claimed that one of the ways to lie is to do this, but that this is the most convincing way. My point was simply to show that in fact, this is not the most convincing way, as demonstrated by professional liars who transform their entire lives into one big lie. So that it my only point here.

Moving on to the “Jesus was resurrected by aliens” point in my next post.

Take care,

RD Miksa

RD Miksa said...

Hello Again,

So, the explanatory hypothesis under consideration is as follows: “Jesus was actually resurrected by powerful aliens.” This hypothesis arises from the claim that if we are willing to accept testimony of the miraculous as evidence for miracles, then we should do the same for alien abductions, and thus except that aliens exist. And if we accept that aliens exist, then it is more probable that Jesus was resurrected by cruel and twisted aliens (due to their playing a horrible joke on humankind), than that he was resurrected by God.

Here are my reasons for thinking this is a very poor explanation of the facts:

1) Counter-Evidence Against Aliens: The Rare-Earth Hypothesis, combined with our knowledge of space travel makes it very likely that either aliens such as us do not exist at all, or if they do are unable to travel here. By contrast (and, of course, this is my opinion), no counter-evidence of similar strength exists to counter the idea of Go’s existence.

2) Unfalsifiable: If, in contra to Point 1, the naturalistic-atheist posits aliens that are so powerful as to nearly be God (and sceptic Michael Shermer has actually stated this rule: Essentially, that any alien culture of sufficient technological advancement would be indistinguishable from God, and thus we could not know the difference) then the naturalistic-atheist’s theory becomes unfalsifiable, because the super-powerful aliens can always simply be invoked for any evidence that might point to God. The funny thing is that the Christian, if he wished to adopt the same type of methodology, could simply say: Well God knew the aliens would resurrect Jesus, so He used them for his purposes, and thus the resurrection stands as strong as before.

Continued...

RD Miksa said...

Continued....

3) Leads to Absurdities: The hypothesis that evil and malicious aliens resurrected Jesus also leads to absurdities. Why? Because beings of such power combined with such maliciousness would be capable of any evil act. For example, consider the following. So you think your wife loves you? Not so, she was just planned by the evil aliens to eventually break up with you and cause you the greatest of pain. You thing those are your kids? Not so, they are just aliens wrapped in human skin to look like your kids, but they will soon burst out and eat you. As you can see, real and coherent rational thought is impossible in a world that accepts this hypothesis.

4) Pragmatically Self-Defeating: Linked to Point 3, this hypothesis also is pragmatically self-defeating. Why? Because of the following argument.

Premise 1: Evil and cruel aliens resurrected Jesus as a malicious joke towards human beings.

Premise 2: Any such aliens must be immensely powerful and immensely evil.

Premise 3: If Premise 2 is true, then it is very likely that these aliens are affecting me in some negative, cruel, deceptive and malicious way right now.

Premise 4: If Premise 3 is true, then it is extremely likely that my cognitive faculties are no longer reliable as they are being affected and influenced by the evil aliens.

Premise 5: But if Premise 4 is true, then I can no longer consider Premise 1 to be true, and thus, I have no reason to believe that aliens resurrected Jesus.


5) Not as Strong on Explanatory Virtues: The final point is that in an Inference to the Best Explanation style argument, the “Jesus resurrected by aliens” hypothesis is weaker in various explanatory virtues such as Explanatory Power, Being Non-Ad Hoc, Consilience, etc.

For all these reasons, and others, I reject the “Aliens resurrected Jesus” hypothesis.

Take care,

RD Miksa

Mark said...

1) Counter-Evidence Against Aliens: The Rare-Earth Hypothesis, combined with our knowledge of space travel makes it very likely that either aliens such as us do not exist at all, or if they do are unable to travel here. By contrast (and, of course, this is my opinion), no counter-evidence of similar strength exists to counter the idea of Go’s existence.

The question "Why not resurrection by aliens?" was posed to those who already believed in alien abductions. If you accept alien abduction phenomena at face value, then the relativistic difficulties inherent in intergalactic travel aren't going to be a stumbling block for you. On the other hand, if you think the potentially radical revisions to our knowledge of physics that such travel would require counts as good evidence against the alien hypothesis, you should be bothered by the far more radical revisions to our whole physical picture that the theistic explanation requires. Of course, maybe you think theism can be definitively established on other grounds, where aliens can't. But you are no longer offering the resurrection as good evidence of theism per se, as opposed to the incompleteness of present human scientific knowledge.

because the super-powerful aliens can always simply be invoked for any evidence that might point to God.

Similarly, once you postulate God, you can explain away any prima facie alien activity as the work of demons or whatever. This is a problem with both postulates.

3) Leads to Absurdities: The hypothesis that evil and malicious aliens resurrected Jesus also leads to absurdities.

Who says they'd have to be evil and malicious? I named two scenarios above in which that wouldn't be the case. Moreover, it's not clear that the same reasoning couldn't be applied to God.

Anonymous said...

RD wrote: 1) Counter-Evidence Against Aliens: The Rare-Earth Hypothesis, combined with our knowledge of space travel makes it very likely that either aliens such as us do not exist at all, or if they do are unable to travel here. By contrast (and, of course, this is my opinion), no counter-evidence of similar strength exists to counter the idea of Go’s existence.

Anon: Only if we are comparing aliens vs. God as mutually exclusive explanations of certain phenomena. This fails as evidence against aliens or alien abduction for theists who accept the latter. The Rare Earth issue doesn't make it any less likely that God would create aliens. God could have 1) created aliens directly, 2) created the universe such that highly improbably circumstances would arise in localized pockets and bring about different forms of intelligent life, or 3) created certain as-yet-undiscovered biophilic laws that cause life to arise and evolve under certain circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Mark wrote: On the other hand, if you think the potentially radical revisions to our knowledge of physics that such travel would require counts as good evidence against the alien hypothesis, you should be bothered by the far more radical revisions to our whole physical picture that the theistic explanation requires.

Anon: Suppose God appears to you in a dream and tells you that all of the biblical miracles are true, and that he decided to stop performing miracles after the last recorded biblical miracle. Suppose you woke up and felt compelled to accept what was conveyed in the dream. Which laws of physics would you rewrite first, and why?

Anonymous said...

Mark wrote: Similarly, once you postulate God, you can explain away any prima facie alien activity as the work of demons or whatever. This is a problem with both postulates

Anon:
The fact that you *can* use a given hypothesis to explain something, is not necessarily a problem for that hypothesis. If it is ALWAYS the best explanation for anything, that might be a problem, but that is ascertained on a whole host of other arguable grounds. For example, the fact that I *could* explain any possible observation by invoking hallucination, does not make hallucinations a necessarily poor explanation for certain phenomena. Clearly there are cases where hallucination is a better/worse explanation given the specific circumstances.

Anonymous said...

RD,

In your "4) Pragmatically Self-Defeating" argument, premise 3 does not follow from premise 2, nor does 4 follow from 3.

Anonymous said...

mattghg wrote: "Price's latest screed, against Lee Strobel, is so personal and full of vitriol that it is apparent that Price has given up trying to discuss with the other side."

Anon: I say we all go Christmas caroling at his house, and alter the lyrics to some of the traditional carols a bit.

"But the little...[historical]... Jesus no crying he makes."

Mark said...

Anon: Suppose God appears to you in a dream and tells you that all of the biblical miracles are true, and that he decided to stop performing miracles after the last recorded biblical miracle. Suppose you woke up and felt compelled to accept what was conveyed in the dream. Which laws of physics would you rewrite first, and why?

Admitting God into our ontology means postulating all sorts of radically different types of causal relationships and explanations than the ones current physics hints at, replete with all sorts of crazy, complicated psychophysical bridge laws like "If God is in highly detailed mental state X, then corpse Y will reassemble in an unimaginably complex way back to life," with no intermediate causal pathway. Any physical law would have to include a time-dependent term representing God's current volition or whatever. (And don't ask me how to do that!) This would be a paradigm shift not on the order of magnitude of that from Newton to Einstein, but from Newton to Aristotle.

If you disagree that the theistic explanation is physically revisionary, then the proponent of the alien hypothesis is free to insist that the aliens come from some alternate dimension where current laws of physics don't apply and call that non-revisionary, too. Moreover, interstellar travel isn't actually forbidden by any physical laws. It's just made terribly slow.

The fact that you *can* use a given hypothesis to explain something, is not necessarily a problem for that hypothesis.

Oh, you're absolutely correct. Somehow R.D. Miksa offered the ability to explain evidence for God's existence via aliens as a special problem for the alien hypothesis. All I meant to say is that, if that's a problem, a symmetrical one exists for the theistic hypothesis.

Anonymous said...

"but we need to remember what was being claimed, which was that: the most convincing way to lie is to tell the truth, but not all of it. It was not simply being claimed that one of the ways to lie is to do this, but that this is the most convincing way."

Hi RD Miska.

I still feel maybe it is very true that "the most convincing way to lie is to tell the truth, but not all of it."

Quote sources.

The best liar is he who makes the smallest amount of lying go the longest way :Samuel Butler

1#the trick is to lie as little as possible" - "Pathological liars can't stop themselves from lying, so they tell a lot of little lies and wind up getting caught,"

3#"You're telling the truth, but in a way that leaves a false impression. Technically, it's only a prevarication - about half a sin."

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/extreme-fear/201005/top-10-secrets-effective-liars

The Three Ways to Lie
http://www.rdrop.com/~half/Creations/Writings/
Miscellaneous/ThreeWaysToLie.html

Understanding the top 10 secrets of liars:1,"Thus, much of the information in an investment spiel could be factual, but perhaps a key element or the ultimate promise in the pitch skews the truth" http://personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog/2010
/05/08/top-10-secrets-of-liars/

"twist your point of view till your telling the truth." http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080916192415AA1v7qm

How to Lie: "The key to convincing someone you are telling the truth is to keep a balance of fact and fiction." http://www.wikihow.com/Lie

And so maybe the best way any faith books would have had to help fool people into believing lies, was to be sure to have included plenty of truthful matters also.

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Anon,

Reference my Pragmatically Self-Defeating Point: less assertion of why the premises do not follow from each other, and more demonstration of why they do not follow.

Till you demonstrate that, my point stands.

Thank you and take care,

RD Miksa

Edward T. Babinski said...

Vic, I would suggest reading books before sounding off as ignorantly as you have concerning Pervo's work, and also the origin of monotheism. It's like you have no idea of the research that's been done in those fields, and the legion of legitimate historical questions raised.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Pervo certainly seems legit. It would be interesting to see someone tackle what he says in his books 'Dating Acts,' and 'Acts: A commentary.'

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Mr. Babinski,

You led the way in providing a "suggestion" to others here, so I will follow your lead and provide a suggestion of my own:

I suggest, that if all you are going to do is suggest that Mr. Reppert should "read some books", then keep your suggestions to yourself.

Thank you.

RD Miksa

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

I agree. There will always be libraries full of books we haven't read, no matter how many we manage to get through. What books a person has or hasn't read is completely irrelevant.

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Mark,

I missed your earlier comment. Here are my points:

You said: “I don't understand this. There are all sorts of reasons hypothetical aliens might deceive us about Jesus while having him exemplify some moral superlative. Perhaps they wanted to gently guide ancient civilization along to a more humane state without alerting us to their existence.”

In this hypothetical case, however, by making Jesus appear to be more than he was, these aliens would be deceptive and thus morally evil in this respect, so my point about them still stands. Furthermore, if the aliens were wishing to bring humanity to a more humane state via a resurrection, and had the power to resurrect people, then my five points against the alien hypothesis (albeit reversed to show that they wished to “improve” us rather than hurt us) would still stand, as they would be deceptive for good motives rather than bad.


You said: “Perhaps they were simply conducting interesting sociological experiments.”

Then they are evil, just as we would consider someone on earth who lied and negatively affected the lives of billions (by making them believe a falsehood over truth) for a sociology experiment to be evil.


You said: “…but neither is the prior probability that the omnipotent creator of the universe would choose to communicate his most important truths for humanity by interacting with a handful of peasants in some provincial backwater circa 0 A.D.”

Actually, both natural theology and natural law ethics clearly demonstrate that God communicated his truth to all, both past and present, in a manner that all can see and understand.

Furthermore, if we postulate the Christian God, who it is claimed is a God of love, then the existence of a Jesus type individual as God’s embodied truth, as well as where and when Jesus existed, would be both expected and extremely probable, nearing the point of necessity. Thus, under the postulate of the Christian God, what was done in reference to Jesus was precisely what would be expected.

Take care,

RD Miksa

R O'Brien said...

"...a handful of peasants in some provincial backwater circa 0 A.D."

"Even still, the omnipotent creator of the universe could've done much better. 'I will communicate my grand message to these illiterate Judeans so that thousand of years later, most of humanity will be somewhat familiar with the name of my emissary.'"

Apparently, you get your history from Hitchens. To hear him tell it, all of China was literate and all of Judaea was illiterate. The fact of the matter is that there were both literate and illiterate people in Judaea. ("This part of the Roman empire is exceptionally well-known because we have sources written by the native population."--livius.org) Moreover, the fertile crescent, of which Israel is a part, was (and is) very important in the history of civilization; it was not a backwater.

Victor Reppert said...

Ed, please. Don't start with that "You're ignorant because you haven't read the books on Babinski's list of must-read books." Pervo and company want to date Acts late. One of the main arguments against this, the one that persuaded Tubingen-influenced Sir William Ramsay to reject a late date for a more traditional date, was the fact that Luke gets a lot of mid-first-century detail right about places and officials. Luke has been verified on these things time and again by archaeology. This is not information that is easily accessible, as it might be to us who can use the internet to find it. We need an explanation as to how he managed to get so much right, if he's writing in the second century. Unless you want to say that oral tradition in the Christian community is really, really accurate, and that is how he know all that stuff. Don't think you want to go there, because unreliability of oral tradition is how you defend claims of legendary accretion. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit? Be my guest. Josephus? That's the only thing anyone has tried here as an explanation. And it doesn't work. It doesn't explain how he knows what he does about Malta. Acts not only says that there was a First Man of Malta (an unusual title), but it gives his name, Publius.

Now, of course, you can make Hallq's point that accuracy about mundane matters does not entail accuracy about supernatural claims. But at most I'm claiming that it provides inductive evidence in favor of the supernatural claims. But even if you are coming at this as a methodological naturalist, you still need an explanation of Luke's knowledge, and so far, I've seen nothing from the late-daters. Nothing except the Josephus argument, which strikes me as lame.

Smart people make big mistakes. Grandmasters drop pieces in chess games. Confirmation bias happens, even to skeptics, believe it or not.

Have you read The Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul, by James Smith? No? Ignorant, aren't we?

Victor Reppert said...

I am not questioning Pervo's legitimacy as a scholar, though I could list of lots of scholars who are on the other side on the date of Acts. I am looking at what he has to explain to defend his position. And I think he's in big trouble there.

Walter said...

Victor,

How do we know that a writer in 110 CE did not have some written sources detailing these geographical places and the correct titles of the officials? We are only talking about 50 years here.

Tim seems to have a copy of Pervo's work. Why not borrow it from him and read what Pervo has to say? Of course, if you consider it a waste of time that is your perogative.

Victor Reppert said...

I'm primarily interested in his explanation of this one point.

How easy would it be for you to find out who was mayor of Glendale, AZ, in 1940, if you didn't have the internet or even sophisticated modern libraries? These records would be kept in the cities themselves, but not elsewhere. As I keep repeating, where's he supposed to look? The Encyclopedia Romanica?

My claim is that he should try to explain the phenomenon.

Anonymous said...

I found articles in the Washington Post and elsewhere on Richard Pervo's arrest on child pornography charges. Has anyone heard of this?

"A whiskered University of Minnesota professor of New Testament studies named Dr. Richard Pervo...was arrested for having a cabinet full of thousands of items of downloaded kiddie porn. News reports described it as especially ugly, abusive stuff, but you would not know it by the old professor's demeanor. When agents knocked on his door, Pervo greeted them with, "I suppose you've come about my collection."" (http://mfinley.com/articles/pervo.htm).

Yeah, he's legit alright. He's a legitimate perv.

And the guy's name is Dick Pervo. Is there an argument for God somewhere in here based on the providential irony of one's given name?

Victor Reppert said...

I didn't want to bring that up. Ad hominem, you know.

But if I had a name like that I'd change it, and I certainly wouldn't live down to it. I would think it would get in the way of getting dates.

Spontaneous Order said...

Victor,

I am new to this Josephus/Luke argument so apologies if I ask too basic a question. I am an atheist but have found Ramsey's historical verification argument compelling in the past.

So as I've understood it the majority of historical points within Luke/Acts are also within the writings of Josephus. With exceptions like Publius/Malta.

My curiousity is how high is the correlation from Luke/Acts to Josephus? Is Publius/Malta an isolated exception or are there numerous historical things Luke/Acts includes that Josephus does not mention (I am referring to the non-Christian history parts of Luke/Acts)? For example, were there other town rulers not mentioned by Josephus?

If the correlation is high, why is it unreasonable to assume Josephus was Luke's 'internet' for including historical information in Luke/Acts?

Barry

Tim said...

Barry,

The book of Acts is is somewhat less than 20,000 words long. The last six books of Josephus's Antiquities, which deal with the period covered by the New Testament, are (by my rough estimate from the Whiston edition) somewhat over 100,000 words long. So immediately we have a problem saying that any overlap in content is due to borrowing. Josephus has given us a great deal of information, and there is no particular reason to think that an authentic first-century record would contain lots of geographical or political information about Palestine and the Jewish people that Josephus does not.

If I have time later, I'll make some further comments about Mason's argument for the borrowing thesis over on the thread about Luke's alleged use of Josephus.

Spontaneous Order said...

Tim, no offense, but before we move into the weighing of whether correlation is indicative of sourcing I am curious how strong the correlation is from Luke to Josephus. Looking for either a percentage of non-Christian historical correlation or a list of here's 40 things Josephus didn't mentioned that Luke does and can be independently confirmed.

I would also take exception to your assertion that the histories of L & J would by necessity have a high correlation. Josephus's 100k of writing would hardly be exhaustive of local geography or politics. Luke's account, presumably, being more inclusive of local geography and politics. So high correlation could, IMO, be an indication of Luke attempting to buttress his credibility by borrowing from Josephus's known and accepted history.


Barry

Shackleman said...

Forgive the idiotic question, but, how would Josephus' writings been disseminated in the 1st Century? Given that the printing press wasn't invented for over a thousand years later, how exactly would Luke, or *anyone* else, get a hold of his work in order to plagiarize it?

I'm asking a serious question here.

Somewhere in the back of my mind is the image of Luke as Gandalf, riding his horse for days or even weeks to get to the library in Minis Tirith---which is to say the *one* library in *all* of Middle Earth---so that he could answer the historical questions regarding the One Ring.

The idea that Luke would take this type of Gandalf-esque trip to go steal some rather benign details from another historian, in an effort to buttress his make-believe stories seems positively ludicrous to me. It seems vastly more likely that Luke got the details right because a) he was there, and b) was a historian himself. But then, if Josephus was well disseminated, perhaps this analogy doesn't apply.

Even still, wouldn't two historians, living around the same time, in around the same area, with the similar rigor of craft, write essentially the same things?

Blue Devil Knight said...

If Pervo the Perv says 1+1=2 that isn't reason to think it is false.

Carrier mentions this in passing: "FYI, though Pervo was recently convicted of collecting child pornography--ironically, considering his name--that may impugn his character, but not his scholarship, which is still top notch and well respected"

However, that is extremely disturbing no matter what his occupation. I personally would not bring this up to besmirch someone's argument, e.g., a Jesuit priest that diddled boys or something. If he had a good argument, I'd respect the argument and not the man.

However, in blog comment wars, which tend to be case studies in logical fallacies, people will have trouble resisting Perve's disfigured character even when the topic is his scholarly analysis of Acts. As evidenced here. Man his name is just awful. :O

Blue Devil Knight said...

Presumably he had access to manuscripts/papyrus whatever. He was a writer himself.

Spontaneous Order said...

Shackelman, not sure you are addressing me but since you borrow in your question some of the terminology I used, I'll respond.

Josephus, was the official Roman historian on this topic and his account was both filed with the official library and presumably manually copied for other scriptoriums.

With the fall of the Empire, it appears Josephus was maintained by the Church and is cited in writings of Church fathers already in the late second century. I recognize that would already be a substantial divide from the authorship of Luke even using very late dates.

Barry

Shackleman said...

For the layperson, all blog arguments devolve into "Scholar Wars". Since few (if any) of us here are scholars, let alone authoritative scholars within the same field as Pervo, the question of his character becomes important. Yes, it's an ad hom, but it speaks of his character, and should give normal people pause.

Shackleman said...

Barry.

My question was to all, not to you specifically, but thanks for answering. I'm not sure you gave me what I was looking for though.

How would one have access to "the official library" as you call it? I know positively nothing about this area of ancient customs, so I'm asking honest questions here. Is this "official library" something that would be frequented by "anyone" like a modern library would? Could Luke have just sort of walked into the "official library" and nabbed the originals, or copies, and "checked them out"?

I jest, but only a little.

Do we know that there were in fact manually created copies? Do we know that there was in fact a means for people to get a hold of these copies long enough to copy them? I'm trying to flesh out Dr. Reppert's point here a little. Since there were no modern libraries, no encyclopedias, no internet, no book stores, where would someone go to get a hold of Josephus' works?

It's a bit of hand waving and it begs the question to simply say:

"[Luke] presumably had had access to manuscripts/papyrus [of Josephus' writings"

Tim said...

Barry,

The relevant portion of Josephus's Antiquities is almost entirely political in its focus and is therefore devoted almost entirely to important people, places, and events. Luke's narrative, by contrast, touches only incidentally on such events insofar as they bear on the development of the nascent church. The disproportion in space devoted to coverage of geography and politics is therefore much greater than 5 to 1. Of course Josephus's account is not comprehensive -- what history is? -- but it is very impressive in its scope. You might want to read the last six books of the Antiquities to get a sense of that scope.

I don't think there's any established way to get just one number for correlation. Here, however, are a few facts.

Luke and Josephus both mention Quirinius and an enrollment. Luke mentions him once, in passing, in an enigmatic verse that is only 8 words long and with reference -- just exactly what that reference amounts to is a point of dispute -- to the period at the end of the reign of Herod the Great.

Josephus mentions Quirinius at the beginning of book 18 of the Antiquities in explicit connection with the end of the reign of Herod's son, Archelaus. In Josephus's narrative, we learn that (1) Quirinius was a Roman senator, that (2) he had gone through other magistracies, that (3) he had been consul, that (4) he was a person of great dignity, that (5) he had been particularly sent by Caesar to take an account of the substance of Syria, that (6) he was sent together with Coponius, who was of the equestrian order, that (7) Quirinius also came to Judea, which (8) was now added to the province of Syria, for the purpose of taking account of their substance and also (9) disposing of the money of the disgraced Archelaus, that (10) the Jews initially objected to the news of a taxation, that (11) they were persuaded by Joazar, who was high priest, to give an account of their estates, that (12) one Judas of Gamala, a Golonite or Galilean, together with Sadduc, attempted to draw the people off into a revolt, and establish an independent Jewish state, etc.

Josephus goes on and on with details that are nowhere in evidence in Luke. And Luke also mentions things nowhere found in Josephus. In Luke, for example, the enrollment extends to the whole oikumene, an expression that could be used as widely as the entire Roman empire or as narrowly as Judea; Josephus is very clear about the scope of Quirinius's enrollment. In Luke, Joseph has to travel to Bethlehem because of his house and lineage; there is no hint in Josephus that anyone has to leave his present domicile in order to be enrolled.

The two references, in short, could hardly be less similar ... except that Quirinius's name and an enrollment comes up in both of them. In a different passage in a different book (Acts 5:37), Luke quotes someone who mentions the events to which Josephus refers. There is even less detail there; no mention of Quirinius by name, just an allusion to the ill-fated revolt of Judas the Galilean.

This is a fair specimen of the sort of "parallel" we are talking about. Mason (2nd ed. (2003), p. 275) makes much of the fact that the enrollment is a "watershed" in both narratives; but beyond the fact that each author has some reason for mentioning something to do with Quirinius, there really isn't much in common here. The two authors are referring to events a decade apart.

Spontaneous Order said...

Shackleman,

The official library would have been at Rome and would have been available at least for reading under very strict protocols to 'citizens'. Copies of official histories were distributed to 'branch' libraries around the Roman empire. Further, for example, in Pompeii (79ad) private libraries contained as many as 400 manuscripts. Also, think of the large copying and storage rooms Jewish archaeology has uncovered. The written word was not as rare as we imagine from our vantage point in history.

So I think it is a reasonable suspicion Luke had access. The real tale, IMO, is how high is the correlation from Luke to Josephus (and the set has sufficient depth to draw a conclusion). Still waiting to see if anyone has the Luke to Josephus correlation compiled.

On minor historical facts, I would presume, generously, that in 100 thousand words Josephus could have captured no more than 10% of this history. If in Luke/Acts 60% of his minor historical mentions are also in Josephus, IMO, that would be highly suspicious.

Since, my last post I read 3 random chapters of Luke/Acts (L8, A10, A24) and find only 10 historical and geographical facts, so I do wonder on the whole whether there is a sufficient set to draw any conclusion.

Barry

Blue Devil Knight said...

If Jerry Fodor turned out to be a baby torturing rapist, that wouldn't be sufficient reason to reject his recent arguments against Darwinism.

If we found out that Einstein was a raging pedophile, that wouldn't be evidence that his theories were false.

That's all. But yes, moral repugnance is real and justified in this case. And pity.

Spontaneous Order said...

Tim,

I was writing my response to Shackleman as you were posting yours to me.

Curiously, I have gone down the same math you post here -> 5 to 1 -> 5 to .05.

It's not that I wouldn't expect to include different scopes of information on the same topic. Like the differences in the manner of census.

To clarify, when you write, 'The two authors are referring to events a decade apart.' are you referring to the possibility of two censuses?

Barry

Blue Devil Knight said...

Are there errors in Acts that could be found in Josephus. Similar patterns of error reveal a lot more than similar patterns of truth, esp when it comes to obvious available data about governments.

I still laugh out loud at this argument, sorry.

"He knew who the mayor of Boston was, so he must be telling the truth!" :)

Tim said...

Barry,

[A]re you referring to the possibility of two censuses?

Not exactly. The word we render "census" (which is the same word found both in Luke 2 and in Antiquities 18) could be used either for the registration or for the actual taxation. In Josephus, it's obvious that an actual taxation is being enacted; in Luke, all that's mentioned is the registration. Part (but only part) of the difficulty in figuring out what Luke 2:2 means is determining whether he is saying that the registration or enrollment of ~5 B.C. was set in motion or made use of(egeneto does bear this meaning in various classical Greek writings) in the taxation of ~6 A.D.

My point was simply that Herod the Great died in 4 B.C., whereas Archelaus was deposed in 6 A.D.

Shackleman said...

Barry,

Thanks for the response. Quite informative and interesting.

I suppose my mental image of Luke in Minis Tirith may not be appropriate. :-)

Shackleman said...

"If we found out that Einstein was a raging pedophile, that wouldn't be evidence that his theories were false."

No one is saying otherwise. However, Einstein's theories are testable, repeatable, and falsifiable. Is Perv-boy producing anything of this sort? If not, then character is a bigger issue for him than it would be for an actual scientist.

In point of fact, that Luke was an Evangelist is reason enough for some to dismiss him. His motives are being questioned, and therefore the accuracy of his history is under a different scrutiny than they would be if he was not an evangelist.

So, when telling of a history and assembling facts, and assimilating those facts into an argument, then one's character and motives are quite rightly matters of consideration.

Spontaneous Order said...

Tim, thanks for your input. You obviously know your Josephus and your Luke.

I am just not convinced the whole argument fails because of a cry 'what about Malta?'.

Live well,

Barry

Blue Devil Knight said...

If he said that the American Revolution happened in 1776, and had good evidence to back it up, I'd believe him. Being in the humanities is beside the point when it comes to ad hominem.

We aren't relying on his eyewitness testimony as evidence, so the analogy with gospels is inapt.

Anyway good to see Victor didn't take the low road. He could have easily trashed me for not knowing about this, but he focused on the arguments.

Shackleman said...

BDK,

I don't disagree. Be careful with what I'm saying here. I'm not saying his character issues are detrimental to his scholarship or his arguments. I'm saying his character issues might (should?) give a layperson pause before they choose him to trust, over some other scholar without those same character issues.

Facts are funny things. There are only *ever* one set of them, but they can oftentimes have *multiple* interpretations. This is why integrity matters. Can we trust a known criminal not to cherry-pick facts that fit the argument he's making? I'm *not* saying Pervo did this---I haven't read his books. I'm saying if there are other scholars to read instead, ones who aren't known criminals participating in some of the most grotesque and deplorable crimes, then I'd rather go get my info from those other scholars, as it'd be (rightly) easier to trust in what they say.

Remember, I'm in **NO** position to judge if he makes his case or not. I'm no scholar. I have to trust him. He's proven himself morally despicable. Therefore *I* shouldn't trust him. If an authority on the subject---one who *is* in the position to judge his arguments and weigh their truth claims want to trust him, good. They should. I, however, don't have to. And that's not taking the low road---that's just being smart with whom one chooses to trust.

Blue Devil Knight said...

He's got problems that's for sure and I wouldn't let him near my daughter.

Victor Reppert said...

BDK: Describing the argument presented here as "He knew who they mayor of Boston was, therefore, he must be telling the truth (I take it about the miraculous element in his account) is a straw man. The argument actually goes like this:

Luke correctly records a lot of detail about the period in question. That correct information is sufficiently fine-tuned that it would be impossible to obtain casually. Such information had to have been obtained by someone who a) was concerned about accuracy, and b) had access to the information in question. The simplest explanation for this is that he was a traveling companion of the Apostle Paul. This is, of course, compatible with the supernatural element being false, but it "cramps the style" of methodological naturalists, who tend to like dates for the NT to be as late as possible. Further, Luke's accuracy is certainly inductive evidence in favor of its supernatural claims, and that is the case even if you decide that such evidence isn't "extraordinary" enough to make a believer out of you.

And, by the way, it doesn't end with the knowledge of titles, because he also gives an accurate landsman's description of a ship journey and the shipwreck on Malta. That was what James Smith's book was all about.

Spontaneous Order said...

Victor, Hey come back here with our goalposts!

Let's divide this into two issues: historic figures and the amount of detail around the voyage and shipwreck.

Back on August 20th 12:13 you gave a list of cities and said that were Luke/Acts written much later (60 years) there would be no way to source the names of political figures that L/A includes. I will give both sides Herod but as Carrier maintains most of the other political/historical figures mentioned are also included in Josephus's writings we do have that sole or close to sole source that the L/A author could have referred to. And your claim, IMO, would be effectively defeated.

Just as you chided BDK for mayor of Boston, to point to Malta/Publius and say Josephus didn't mention these places therefore the entire argument can be dismissed is equally disingenuous. (especially given problems with the translation of Malta).

So I went back and read Acts 27 and 28. To make a general comment, the whole tone seems more appropriate to something in Gulliver's Travel rather than a supposed historical account.

I know a little bit about open sea sailing and a few elements jumped out at me:

1) the length of the storm seems multiples longer than one would expect in the region.

2) the passenger compliment seems entirely too high for a loaded grain ship.

3) it's a little incredible to me that a heavily loaded, slow moving grain ship would venture that far from shore. I suspect the lengthy path along the coast line was more common.

4) running ropes around a ship of that size to keep it from breaking up in a gale would be about as useful as applying band aids.

5) all passengers getting to shore in a gale that supposedly quickly broke up the aft of the ship seems highly unlikely. Especially in the days before Red Cross swimming certification.

6) the natives move awfully quickly from snakebite to exaltation of Paul.

Then I read Smith's chapters related to the ship journey, wreck, and survival at Malta (these pages available at books.google.com):

7) the discussion of anchoring methods is entirely speculation on the part of Smith and his experts.

8) the apologetic spin around the current non-existence of poisonous vipers is laughable.

9) the defense of Malta as the site feels an awful lot like painting bullseyes around the holes in the barn after the shots have been fired. At best Malta would seem to be a mediocre fit. (and to my knowledge there is no confirmation of a Publius in any other historical source)

I am sort of disappointed to be honest as you have seemed more reasonable in your other writings at this site. I suppose one could argue that all of this was by special arrangement from God but that would run counter to this being the reasonable and non-exceptional recording of history.

Barry

Blue Devil Knight said...

Victor: yes, it was a joke to make fun of this whole line of argument, not particularly serious of course. My more thought out responses are scattered through the posts.

You put much more stock in this than I do, obviously, we will never agree. I think the abduction example is a good testing ground for people's epistemic standards.

Victor Reppert said...

Well, looking at Carrier's article, it looks like all of the parallels between Josephus and Luke took place in what we might call the "Jewish theater," as might be expected. But archaeology has confirmed Luke on matters that concerned Asia Minor, Cyprus, and Greece, not just Malta. You can actually look up Josephus' writings, and they have a search engine. I put in Sergius Paulus, someone who has been confirmed by inscriptional evidence, and got nothing. Gallio, again, nothing.

Spontaneous Order said...

those names are good arguments. I cannot find references to them in Josephus' writings.

Curious where the searchable writings of Josephus are? I realize, you have had a lot of posts tonight, so understand if unavailable to share right now.

Live well,

B

Walter said...

I have posted a link to this blog post over at the Biblical Criticism forum at FRDB. They have some pretty knowledgeable infidels at that site. It will interesting to see what they think concerning a possible late date for Acts. And how difficult it would be for a person who did not actually travel with Paul to get all those official titles right.

Anonymous said...

BDK: If Pervo the Perv says 1+1=2 that isn't reason to think it is false.

Anon: Maybe not false, but it is reason to think it is filthy.

I've read alot of NT criticism. Unless you are going to hunt down every footnote (and believe me, you'd spend a lifetime doing that with Pervo), you have to trust his historical judgment to *some* degree. We aren't talking philosophy here with numbered premises to arguments. You've got to trust that he's representing the sources accurately to some degree, not leaving out pertinent info. that might count against his thesis, etc. Bias plays a VERY big role in the retelling of history.

Something seems very suspicious from the get-go about a guy who is masturbating to violent kiddie porn, all the while making very speculative/complex/subtle cumulative arguments that undermine the authority of a religious text that, if taken seriously, might mean he's eternally accountable for masturbating to violent kiddie porn.

Steven Carr said...

'If Christianity, at its founding, was attended with miracles, then we should expect the books recording its founding to be of just the character.'


That is exactly what we do find.


Once again, Victor is totally correct.


If we go to some of the earliest sources, we see Paul writing in 1 Corinthians 1

'Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles'

Jews were demanding that Christianity be a religion that could tell tales of miraculous signs.

And that is just what it could do!

Jews were demanding miraculous signs, and Paul could tell them of dozens that Jesus had done.

So confirming Victor's axiom that the earliest documents would never scoff at people for demanding that Christianity be a religion that had miraculous signs.

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
Well, looking at Carrier's article, it looks like all of the parallels between Josephus and Luke took place in what we might call the "Jewish theater," as might be expected.

CARR
Victor's scholarship is on the ball again.

Josephus was shipwrecked on a voyage that included Puteoli.

Paul was shipwrecked on a voyage that included Puteoli.

Victor's scholarship is superb.

I have to get at least 2 sentences in before the glaring errors happen in what Victor writes.

Steven Carr said...

Of course, when Luke leaves 'the Jewish theatre' , he switches to Euripides or Homer.

As FF Bruce will confirm.

Commenting on EPEKEILAN (“beached”) the Lake and Cadbury commentary on Acts says: “According to Blass this is an Homeric form not found in prose-writers, who used OKELLW and EPOKELLW, . . . . He compares Odyssey IX 148 . . . and 546. . . . It is also remarkable that the word NAUN is used only here in Acts, which always has the ordinary Hellenistic word PLOION. Blass’ suggestion that there is a conscious reminisence of Homer in this collocation of two unusual words is very attractive. If Luke was acquainted with Aratus and Epimenides, his knowledge of Homer is easily credible.” (p.339)

“F. F. Bruce calls it one of Acts’ ‘unmistakable Homeric reminiscences‘.


Of course, Victor will scoff at FF Bruce.

What did he know about how Luke used Homer?

Tim said...

Barry,

I don’t find these criticisms very persuasive.

1) the length of the storm seems multiples longer than one would expect in the region.

What’s your experience in that part of the Mediterranean in the late fall?

2) the passenger compliment seems entirely too high for a loaded grain ship.

This is just a matter of your historical ignorance. Josephus says there were more than twice that many people on the grain ship he took. Smith, correcting some exaggerated calculations of Bryant and Falconer, still makes out the grain ship described by Lucian to have been between eleven hundred and twelve hundred tons, with a keel probably somewhat over 100 feet long.

3) it's a little incredible to me that a heavily loaded, slow moving grain ship would venture that far from shore. I suspect the lengthy path along the coast line was more common.

While they were near the southern coast of modern day Turkey, sure. But not for getting from Lydia to Rome.

4) running ropes around a ship of that size to keep it from breaking up in a gale would be about as useful as applying band aids.

“Frapping” was a well-known practice. Smith documents it from Falconer’s Marine Dictionary, from records of the frapping of the Albion, the Queen, the Blenheim, etc., and from his personal conversation with people who had seen it done.

5) all passengers getting to shore in a gale that supposedly quickly broke up the aft of the ship seems highly unlikely. Especially in the days before Red Cross swimming certification.

With the bow of the ship stuck in the clay at the inlet, there was probably nearly as much wading as swiming. Nobody was obliged to jump off the stern and swim ’round.

6) the natives move awfully quickly from snakebite to exaltation of Paul.

Is this a criticism based on your knowledge of open-sea sailing?

7) the discussion of anchoring methods is entirely speculation on the part of Smith and his experts.

Is there really anything implausible in this discussion that would license classifying the narrative in Acts with an episode from Gulliver’s Travels?

8) the apologetic spin around the current non-existence of poisonous vipers is laughable.

It is a point against Malta, but not a heavy one. Smith points out parallel cases in which deadly animals, including venomous snakes, have been eradicated by the encroachment of civilization. Do you have something more than chuckles to lay into the scales as evidence?

9) the defense of Malta as the site feels an awful lot like painting bullseyes around the holes in the barn after the shots have been fired.

It is not possible to take this criticism seriously until you engage with the full range of evidence Smith brings to bear on Malta as the site. The identification of St. Paul’s Bay as the site of the original shipwreck is somewhat conjectural, but it is plausible enough given the details about the breakers at the point of Koura.

Walter said...

The best response I have gotten to this argument over at FRDB was:

There should be a name for this type of apologist strategy of making rather simple tasks appear to be so fantastic that they provide some kind of proof for some thing. There has to be a better name than "exaggerating the difficulty and uniqueness of things".

We should consider that private libraries had thousands of manuscripts, The one found in the small town of Herculaneum has at least 1800 manuscripts that have survived. It is no trouble imagining that a typical library would contain good geographical descriptions and provide names of famous officials from the previous century. -Philosopher Jay


This is my argument as well; that the author of Acts had access to written documentation a lot of which is simply no longer extant. The author did his research the old fashioned way without the need for a second century "internet."

There is no absolute need for the author of Acts to have actually traveled with Paul.

Steven Carr said...

TIM
Josephus says there were more than twice that many people on the grain ship he took.

CARR
What? Josephus was also on a grain ship, like Paul was?

Josephus went through Puteoli, just like Paul did.

But Victor assures us there are no parallels.

And Tim smashes up sceptics.

By simply pointing to the parallels in Josephus, to assure us how common these things were.

TIM
“Frapping” was a well-known practice.

CARR
Really?

Victor assures us 'He didn't have a civics textbook. He didn't have a library with all that information in it. He couldn't have looked it up in the Encyclopedia Romanica. He didn't have the benefit of modern archaeology, which is how I know that he got so many things right'

And Tim smashes sceptics by telling us about the 'well-known practice'.

I love it when Christians are arguing both sides of an argument - telling us all the literary parallels, telling us these were well known practices.

And then claiming the anonymous author known today as 'Luke' could not have known about these things unless he was there, and that there were no literary parallels he could have used.

Blue Devil Knight said...

THanks Walter, a fun discussion. Link is here.

Tim said...

The suggestion that "Luke looked it all up in a library" becomes incredible in proportion to the number and nature of the details involved. Here are some samples none of which can be derived from Josephus:

1. A natural crossing between correctly named ports. (Acts 13:4-5) Mt. Casius, which is south of Seleucia, is within sight of Cyprus.

2. The proper port (Perga) along the direct destination of a ship crossing from Cyprus (13:13)

3. The proper location of Iconium in Phrygia rather than in Lycaonia. (14:6) This identification was doubted because it challenges some sources reflecting boundary changes from a different date, but the ethnic inclusion of Iconium in Phrygia is confirmed by the geographical distribution of Neo-Phrygian texts and onomastic study.

4. The highly unusual but correct heteroclitic declension of the name Lystra. (14:6) This is paralleled in Latin documents.

5. The Lycaonian language spoken in Lystra. (14:11) This was unusual in the cosmopolitan, Hellenized society in which Paul moved. But the preservation of the local language is attested by a gloss in Stephanus of Byzantium, who explains that “Derbe” is a local word for “juniper.” Hemer lists many other native names in the Lystra district.

6. Two gods known to be so associated—Zeus and Hermes. (14:12) These are paralleled epigraphically from Lystra itself, and the grouping of the names of Greek divinities is peculiarly characteristic of the Lystra district.

7. The proper port, Attalia, which returning travelers would use. (14:25) This was a coasting port, where they would go to intercept a coasting vessel, by contrast with Perga (13:13), a river port.

8. The correct order of approach (Derbe and then Lystra) from the Cilician Gates. (16:1; cf. 15:41)

9. The form of the name “Troas,” which was current in the first century. (16:8)

10. The place of a conspicuous sailors’ landmark, Samothrace, dominated by a 5000 foot mountain. (16:11)

11. The proper description of Philippi as a Roman colony, and the correct identification of its seaport as Nea Polis, which is attested both in manuscripts and in numismatic evidence. (16:12)

12. The right location of the Gangites, a small river near Philippi. (16:13)

13. The identification of Thyatira as a center of dyeing. (16:14) This is attested by at least seven inscriptions of the city.

14. The proper designation for the magistrates of the colony as strategoi (16:22), following the general term archontes in v. 19.

15. The proper locations (Amphipolis and Apollonia, cities about 30 miles apart) where travelers would spend successive nights on this journey to Thessalonica. (17:1)

16. The presence of a synagogue in Thessalonica. (17:1) This is attested by a late 2nd AD inscription. (CIJ 693)

17. The proper term (“politarchs”) used of the magistrates in Thessalonica. (17:6) See Horsley’s article in the Anchor Bible Dictionary, in loc.

18. The correct implication that sea travel is the most convenient way of reaching Athens, with the favoring “Etesian” winds of the summer sailing season. (17:14-15)

Tim said...

Some further details Luke gets right that are not found in Josephus:

19. The abundant presence of images in Athens. (17:16)

20. The reference to a synagogue in Athens. (17:17) See CIJ 712-15.

21. The depiction of philosophical debate in the Agora, which was characteristic of Athenian life. (17:17)

22. The use of the correct Athenian slang word for Paul (spermologos, “seed picker,” 17:18) as well as for the court (Areios pagos, “the hill of Ares,” 17:19)

23. The proper characterization of the Athenian character. (17:21) This, however, might be attributed to common knowledge.

24. An altar to an “unknown god.” (17:23) Such altars are mentioned by Pausanias and Diogenes Laertius. Note also the aptness of Paul’s reference to “temples made with hands,” (17:24), considering that Paul was speaking in a location dominated by the Parthenon and surrounded by other shrines of the finest classical art.

25. The proper reaction of Greek philosophers, who denied the bodily resurrection. (17:32) See the words of Apollo in Aeschylus, Eumenides 647-48.

26. The term “Areopagites,” derived from areios pagos, as the correct title for a member of the court. (17:34)

27. The presence of a synagogue at Corinth. (18:4) See CIJ 718.

28. The correct designation of Gallio as proconsul, resident in Corinth. (18:12) This reference nails down the time of the events to the period from the summer of 51 to the spring of 52.

29. The bema (judgment seat), which overlooks Corinth’s forum. (18:16ff.)

30. The name “Tyrannus,” which is attested from Ephesus in first-century inscriptions. (19:9)

Walter said...

All this shows me is that "Luke" was a helluva good researcher!

Tim said...

Further details that have no parallel in Josephus:

31. The shrines and images of Artemis. (19:24) Terracotta images of Artemis (=Diana) abound in the archaeological evidence.

32. The expression “the great goddess Artemis,” a formulation attested by inscriptions at Ephesus. (19:27)

33. The fact that the Ephesian theater was the meeting place of the city. (19:29) This is confirmed by inscriptional evidence dating from AD. 104. (See OGIS 480.8-9.)

34. The correct title “grammateus” for the chief executive magistrate in Ephesus. (19:35) This is amply attested in inscriptional evidence.

35. The proper title of honor “neokoros,” commonly authorized by the Romans for major cities that possessed an official temple of the imperial cult. (19:35) See Wankel, Die Inschriften von Ephesus, 300.

36. The term “he theos,” the formal designation of the goddess. (19:37) See the Salutaris document, passim.

37. The proper term (“agoraioi hemerai”) for the assizes, those holding court under the proconsul. (19:38)

38. The use of the plural “anthupatoi,” (19:38), a remarkable reference to the fact that at that precise time, the fall of AD 54, two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul at this time because their predecessor, Silanus, had been murdered. See Tacitus, Annals 13.1; Dio Cassius 61.6.4-5. This is one point where Ramsay’s work has been superseded in a way that reflects great credit on Luke’s accuracy.

39. The “regular” assembly, as the precise phrase is attested elsewhere. (19:39) The concept is mentioned repeatedly in the Salutaris inscription, IBM 481.339-40 = Wankel 27, lines 468-69.

40. The use of a precise ethnic designation, “Beroiaios.” (20:4) This is attested in the local inscriptions.

41. The employment of the characteristic ethnic term “Asianos,” meaning “Greeks in Asia.” (20:4) Cf. IGRR 4.1756, where the Greeks honor a Sardian citizen with this designation (lines 113, 116).

Steven Carr said...

'The expression “the great goddess Artemis,” a formulation attested by inscriptions at Ephesus.'

Wow! How could Luke have heard about Artemis being a great goddess?

That is just amazing. It is like me knowing that Thor was a god.


'The presence of a synagogue at Corinth.'

Wow! How could a second century writer have known there were Jews in a huge city like Corinth?

That is just astonishing knowledge.

Nobody who reads 1 or 2 Corinthians would guess that there had been Jews in Corinth.


'The correct implication that sea travel is the most convenient way of reaching Athens'

Wow! This is astonishing knowledge.

Sea travel was the most convenient way of reaching a town on the coast, in the days when there were no cars or airports.

Luke must have been there! How else could he have known that Athens was on the coast?

Tim said...

Regarding that library at Herculaneum and the 1785 carbonized scrolls recovered from it by Weber, we should note a few points.

First, the villa -- the largest Roman villa ever found -- was originally owned by Julius Caesar’s father in law, Calpurnius Piso, who was not your typical private citizen. Generalizations about the size of private libraries using this as a single datum are unwarranted.

Second, we should consider the contents of Piso’s library. Over half of the scrolls are works by the Epicurean philosopher Philodemus, apparently a family friend, and the overwhelming majority of the scrolls are works of Epicurean philosophy, including Epicurus’s own masterwork, On Nature, in 37 volumes. There are also a few fragments from Lucretius, Ennius, and the comic poet Caecilius Statius. There is one mediocre Latin poem on the battle of Actium. This was not a library of works on geography, history, or the political details of distant regions of the Roman empire. Even if the genre had existed in antiquity -- which it did not -- the suggestion that such a library might have been a helpful source for someone attempting to write a detailed historical novel is absurd.

Tim said...

Walter,

You write:

All this shows me is that "Luke" was a helluva good researcher!

This puts me in mind of what Joseph Butler says in The Analogy of Religion (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1868), Part 2, ch. 7, p. 274:

Mere guess, supposition, and possibility, when opposed to historical evidence, prove nothing, but that historical evidence is not demonstrative.

There are more ways to be irrational than by formal self-contradiction. Maintaining a belief in the face of mounting, overwhelming evidence to the contrary is one of those ways.

Walter said...

Maintaining a belief in the face of mounting, overwhelming evidence to the contrary is one of those ways.

Let me know when you present some overwhelming evidence :-)

Tim said...

Walter,

If you cannot see such evidence in the accuracy of numerous details in Luke's description of the journey across Asia Minor -- including passing references to overland routes, sea routes, prevailing weather, local customs, local languages and dialects, local ethnic identities, local religious practices, local titles, local industries, a Roman official who held office in a particular location for only half a year, and the anomalous and temporary presence of two proconsuls in a region where normally there would be only one -- then I submit that you have no idea what real overwhelming historical evidence looks like.

I haven't presented even half of the evidence of this sort that I might have. But I am satisfied that what I have laid out presents an overwhelming case that Luke took the trip with Paul.

And the suggestion that it could have been copied out of a library like the one at the villa at Herculaneum is absurd, for reasons I have already laid out.

Walter said...

As I stated before, the argument is not really about when Acts was written or whether "Luke" was with Paul on some of his journey or not. The argument is whether a narrative written with great historical detail somehow gives strong reason to believe implausible tales of the supernatural contained within its pages.

For me it is not good enough reason even if Luke did accompany Paul through some of his journeys.

'Nuff said on this topic.

Tim said...

Walter,

In any cumulative argument, there are individual sub-arguments that matter to the overall case even though any given sub-argument does not, by itself, suffice to carry the weight of the conclusion.

You are the one who introduced Richard Pervo's work into the conversation; you are also the one who has tried to defend his idea that the book of Acts might be a sort of historical novel written up late. That is why the question of whether the book of Acts is, as Pervo maintains, a second century novel is the question that occupies us at the moment. I have been presenting evidence regarding the conclusion of this sub-argument.

Perhaps you are signaling that you want to abandon Pervo's position in the face of the evidence to the contrary presented here. I think that would be wise. I promise not to interpret such a concession as capitulation on the larger point of the reality of the supernatural, whether reported by Luke or elsewhere in the New Testament.

Walter said...

Tim,

Your arguments have spurred me into investigating the matter a little more deeply. Some of the arguments you have presented do seem compelling that the author of Acts may have traveled part of the way with Paul.

I'll have to chew on it some.

Tim said...

Walter,

Fair enough!

Steven Carr said...

MCGREW
If you cannot see such evidence in the accuracy of numerous details in Luke's description of the journey across Asia Minor -- including passing references to overland routes, sea routes, prevailing weather, local customs, local languages and dialects, local ethnic identities, local religious practices, local titles, local industries, a Roman official who held office in a particular location for only half a year, and the anomalous and temporary presence of two proconsuls in a region where normally there would be only one...

CARR
Astonishing!

Luke was not writing a geography, or history book.

The genre is quite different.

And yet McGrew points out all the passing references ,of things mentioned in passing.

And when people point out that Paul has ZERO passing references to any miracle or parable of Jesus, and ZERO passing references to Judas, Thomas,Lazarus, Joanna,Salome,Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene, Bartimaeus, Simon of Cyrene, Joseph of Arimathea, and empty tomb, Mary, Joseph, the other Mary, Martha, etc etc etc, we are told that we should not expect such passing references, and their abscence means nothing.

If Luke can fill Acts with 'passing references' to 'thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine islands', why does Paul not have one miracle or parable of Jesus, or one 'passing reference' to the vast cast of Gospel characters that vanish from Luke's work as soon as there is a public church?

Anonymous said...

Carr writes: And when people point out that Paul has ZERO passing references to any miracle or parable of Jesus, and ZERO passing references to Judas, Thomas,Lazarus, Joanna,Salome,Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene, Bartimaeus, Simon of Cyrene, Joseph of Arimathea, and empty tomb, Mary, Joseph, the other Mary, Martha, etc etc etc, we are told that we should not expect such passing references, and their abscence means nothing.

Anonymous: Oof. Carr - this is pretty horrible, even for you. For what reason would Paul mention any of these characters? They are hardly mentioned in the Gospels!

Steven Carr said...

MCGREW
The use of the plural “anthupatoi,” (19:38), a remarkable reference to the fact that at that precise time, the fall of AD 54, two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul at this time because their predecessor, Silanus, had been murdered. See Tacitus, Annals 13.1; Dio Cassius 61.6.4-5


CARR

'See Tacitus, Annals 13.1; Dio Cassius 61.6.4-5.'

Tacitus is circa 116.

Cassius is about 155

So McGrew claims a second century author could not have known these details, which we know are true, because second century authors knew them.

How does showing that Tacitus and Dio Cassius knew something prove that *only somebody in the first century* could have access to information like that?

Just how bad does McGrew's logic have to get before even he admits that a second century writer could possibly have known those things, because he produces examples of second century writers who actually did know those things?

I quote Victor.

'Tacitus has to know civics and geography from Jerusalem to Malta, and it's the civics of the time, not of 50 years later. So, how'd he do it?'

How did Tacitus know that 'two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul at this time because their predecessor, Silanus, had been murdered.' when Victor swears blind that a second century writer could not have got that right?

The only answer must be - Tacitus was a companion of Paul and Luke.

That's the only way Tacitus and Dio Cassius could have known what 'Luke' knew.

Steven Carr said...

I take it that not even McGrew has managed to find where 'Arimathea' was....

Walter said...

An interesting response I got over at FRDB:

I say...My argument is that the author of Acts may have had access to a possible travel diary of Paul's that is now no longer extant.

The question should be asked, based on the place and people mentioned in the letters, what did Paul do for a living? He seems to be at ease traveling by ship and land, which suggests he is
1) among the elite classes and travels for pleasure (not likely),
2) or was traveling as a retainer for an elite (more likely, probably a Herodian family),
3) or was a merchant/tradesman who plied his trade wherever he could get work (also likely, but would not explain all the contacts he had with town officials and the fringes of the Herodian family).

I'd put my money on #2. However, the author of Acts says he was a "tentmaker" (#3) but this can have many implications and is not restricted to tents. In short, he is a traveling contractor working big contracts (tents for armies, sails for ships, breezeways of high end homes or camps for sheikhs.

Now, knowing this, the author of Acts may have simply found a private travel diary in the library of an elite family or shipowner, and made use of the details in order to give his reconstruction of the life of "Paul" some verisimilitude. It doesn't necessarily HAVE to be from a companion of Paul. In fact, if he had access to a travel account from one of Paul's companion, then why doesn't he have access to the letters, which include travel details that don't jive with his story line.

I'm assuming of course a second century date for the composition, when Paul has taken on a somewhat legendary character. Otherwise, what was the point of the author of Acts creating all those flowery speeches for him. Same with the speeches he makes up for Peter, James and Stephen. -DC Hindley

Steven Carr said...

MCGREW

' two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul at this time because their predecessor, Silanus, had been murdered.'


'See Tacitus, Annals 13.1;

CARR
Seen it. What's your point? Are you claiming it supports 'Luke'?

Where does it say that 'two men were exercising the functions of proconsul'?

Where does Luke say that Silanus had been murdered?

Please produce the sources that say there were two proconsuls at the same time.

This is the Internet. You cannot bluff your way here....

Steven Carr said...

Hemer, that McGrew is copying from, without checking the sources actually claims the two murderers were both made proconsul.

Neither Tacitus nor Cassius say any such thing, which is why I can rub McGrew's nose in the fact that this is like making Lee Harvey Oswald President after he murdered JFK.

But I'm sure McGrew is not an amateur and has actually read a statement in Tacitus or Cassius , saying two people were proconsuls at the same time.

After all, McGrew knows what he is talking about, doesn't he?

It will be the work of a second for him to give us a quote from his 'sources' , saying two people were proconsul at the same time.

Hemer, of course, doesn't actually give us a quote of what he claims his sources tell him.

Surprising that......

Tim said...

Hemer, that McGrew is copying from, without checking the sources actually claims the two murderers were both made proconsul.

Steven is here misrepresenting Colin Hemer, who in The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History (1989), p. 123, actually writes:

19:38 If not merely a generalizing plural, ἀνθύπατοι may refer to the remarkable fact that two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul temporarily after murdering their predecessor subsequent to Nero's accession in AD 54 (Tac. Ann. 13.1; Dio 61.6.4-5), a date which precisely suits the ostensible chronology of this passage (cf. D, p. 169).

It is obvious to anyone who can read that Hemer (contrary to Carr) does not say that Silanus's murderers were made proconsuls, but rather that they were, temporarily, exercising proconsulary functions. It is also obvious to anyone who looks up Hemer's references that they are included because they tell of Silanus's murder, not because they make claims about who became proconsul after Silanus's death.

Anyone who is interested may search for further details regarding the two principals in the action, the equestrian procurator Publius Celer and the freedman Helius, "men," as Tacitus puts it, "who had the charge of the emperor's domains in Asia." Both of these men stood high in Nero's favor.

If by some mischance there is anyone left who is wondering why most of the participants on this blog studiously ignore almost everything that Steven Carr writes, this specimen of his malicious distortion of everything and everyone he hates should answer your question.

Tim said...

Walter,

The itinerary in Acts matches the clues dropped in the epistles surprisingly well. What is most interesting about the interconnections is the fact that most of them are obviously not the result either of writing the history in Acts from the epistles or of writing the epistles from the history in Acts. Identification of the events in Galatians 2 with those in Acts 11 rather than in Acts 15 removes most of the problems in harmonizing them.

The supposition that a 2nd century author stumbled upon a travel diary that just happened to coincide with Paul's journeys is a good example of the sort of fact-free history done by people who make up for their lack of data by the sweep of their imagination. The substitution of an imaginary person and an imaginary travel diary for a definite person who actually did the travel is an example of that sort of imagination. It is the stuff that novels are made of. But that isn't how history is done.

Walter said...

The supposition that a 2nd century author stumbled upon a travel diary that just happened to coincide with Paul's journeys is a good example of the sort of fact-free history done by people who make up for their lack of data by the sweep of their imagination. The substitution of an imaginary person and an imaginary travel diary for a definite person who actually did the travel is an example of that sort of imagination. It is the stuff that novels are made of. But that isn't how history is done.

How hypothetical is the document 'Q' that so many scholars believe exists?

What I am saying is that it hypothetically could be possible that a second century author used a source that is no longer available to us (like the Q document). I am not necessarily saying that it is the most parsimonious explanation. And this would have nothing to do with Josephus.

I believe Paul's letters first began to be collected around 100 CE. Someone may have done their research on Paul because he was growing into quite the legend by the turn of the century.

Steven Carr said...

It goes without saying that Tim could not produce a quote of Tacitus or Cassius saying these men were proconsuls.

He can't.

So he bluffed.

Bad mistake, Tim!

Don't bluff your way out of a hole, because I just start quoting what you dare not quote.

TIM

'Anyone who is interested may search for further details regarding the two principals in the action, the equestrian procurator Publius Celer and the freedman Helius, "men," as Tacitus puts it, "who had the charge of the emperor's domains in Asia." '

QUOTE
Of course, Tim does not give the whole quote.

'The agents of the deed were Publius Celer, a Roman knight, and Helius, a freedman, men who had the charge of the emperor's domains in Asia. They gave the proconsul poison at a banquet.

So these men gave the proconsul poison.

But doesn't that mean there were THREE proconsuls?

After all, according to Tim, they were both proconsuls, and Tacitus says they gave the proconsul poison.

That makes THREE proconsuls.

But wait, Tacitus says one was a PROCURATOR.

But Tim tried to bluff us by claiming Tacitus says he became proconsul after he murdered Silanus.

Tacitus never does.



So perhaps McGrew can now actually produce some sources which back up his bizarre claim that there were TWO proconsuls at the same time, as 'Luke' says there were.

It should be really easy.

If it were true.

But Hemer couldn't.

McGrew even when challenged to his face, could not produce a quote of Tacitus saying those men became proconsul after they murdered Silanus.

And, of course, by Tim's logic, Tacitus must have travelled with Paul to have known about the murder of Silanus - a murder that 'Luke' never records...

Even when challenged to his face.....

Steven Carr said...

Just because I really enjoy rubbing McGrew's nose in it, here is what Tacitys says 'They gave the proconsul poison at a banquet, too openly to escape discovery.'

So it was known that they murdered the proconsul.

And Tim claims they became proconsuls in his place (Tacitus doesn't. Tim and 'Luke' do)

This is like Lee Harvey Oswald becoming President after murdering JFK.

Surely Tacitus would have mentioned that.

'The first death under the new emperor, that of Junius Silanus, proconsul of Asia, was, without Nero's knowledge, planned by the treachery of Agrippina.'

Tacitus never implicates Nero in this crime.

But if Nero had made these people proconsul after they had openly murdered the proconsul, then how could Nero escape Tacitus's blame?

The answer is that they never did become proconsul.

Tacitus never says they did.

That only exists in Tim's mind.

Steven Carr said...

MCGREW
It is obvious to anyone who can read that Hemer (contrary to Carr) does not say that Silanus's murderers were made proconsuls, but rather that they were, temporarily, exercising proconsulary functions.

CARR
Hemer 'Two men held office simultaneously'

How can they hold office? And not be proconsuls? That is what 'holding office' means.

So 'Luke' is wrong to say there were two proconsuls, as Tim is now swearing blind that they never did become proconsuls - that there never were two proconsuls, and anybody who can read will know there never were two proconsuls.

While Tim is now saying that anybody who can read knows there were not two proconsuls, he claims 'Luke' got an A in civics by using proconsuls in the plural.....

Hemer says 'He is evidently right to reject the notion of an irregular tenure of power by the murderers...'

Hemer had a reputation to think of, unlike McGrew, and so knew he could not get away with claiming the murderers acted as proconsuls.

But not even Hemer damaged his reputation by pretending that *Tacitus* said two men were acting as proconsul.

Luke says 'proconsuls'.

Hemer knows perfectly well there were not two proconsuls.

So he says two people were acting as proconsul.

(Tacitus doesn't.....)

'Luke' has just failed his civics, even if Hemer is rewriting the answers in the civics exam to get 'Luke' to pass.

Steven Carr said...

'What is most interesting about the interconnections is the fact that most of them are obviously not the result either of writing the history in Acts from the epistles or of writing the epistles from the history in Acts. '

Yes, Tim knows that the author of Acts was with Paul and that the author of Acts was forbidden ever to read Paul's letters.

Because Tim dare not allow even the possibility that this author had sources available to him in the second century, such as Paul's letters.

But Tim cannot allow the possibility that Acts contradicts Paul's letters.

So he declares that companions of Paul were not at all familiar with Paul's letters, and also that companions of Paul wrote things totally consistent with Paul's letters, despite never having read them.

Tim said...

Carr writes:

Hemer 'Two men held office simultaneously'

Despite Carr’s use of quotation marks, this is not a claim made by Hemer.

Carr then asks:

How can they hold office? And not be proconsuls? That is what 'holding office' means.

Since the phrase is Carr’s own invention and not one taken from Hemer, Carr is deceiving his readers by pretending that it is what Hemer said.

Carr continues:

So 'Luke' is wrong to say there were two proconsuls,

Actually, Luke is reporting the words of the town clerk, not using them in his own voice.

Carr continues:

... as Tim is now swearing blind that they never did become proconsuls - that there never were two proconsuls, and anybody who can read will know there never were two proconsuls.

This time, it is my words that Carr is distorting. What I actually wrote appears above for anyone to read. But the deception does Carr little good here, since in fact neither Hemer nor I have claimed that there were two proconsuls.

Carr then tries to turn this point to his advantage:

While Tim is now saying that anybody who can read knows there were not two proconsuls, he claims 'Luke' got an A in civics by using proconsuls in the plural.....

Once again, (a) this is not what I said, and (b) Luke is mentioning someone else’s words, not using them. Nevertheless, the town clerk’s words are most naturally interpreted as pertaining to a plural exercise of proconsular functions.

Sergei said...

It looks like the elementary distinction between

(a) asserting that X is a true proposition

and

(b) asserting that person Y says or said that X is a true proposition

is lost on certain of Tim's discussion partners here.

Jake Elwood XVI said...

I am not trying to be flippant but I have been wondering if you Mr Carr have asperger's syndrome. This does not mean I am saying your views are wrong because of this, but it may explain a lot of your behaviour. However the the internet is a funny prism to view someone through, so I am probably way off the mark.

It is your inability to comprehend others points of view and even to adequately read what they are saying, that has sparked my speculation. I remember reading a reply of yours where you conflated an anonymous with someone else. May be just carelessness on your part. But there may be other reasons for this.

I am not trained in diagnosing but as a Teacher of students with this syndrome I think I have a little anecdotal insight. My texts on support education and psychology of education are at work. However Victoria Health has listed some of the adult symptoms
1. Difficulties with high-level language skills such as verbal reasoning, problem solving, making inferences and predictions.
2. Difficulties in empathising with others
3. Problems with understanding another person’s point of view.
4. Average or above-average intelligence.
To mention a few
5. Specialised fields of interest or hobbies. ( I think in this one there is always some display of obsessiveness)

On a countering note my wife who works with kids in the Autism spectrum including asperger's syndrome for a health charity as an occupational therapist, does not share my speculation. She thinks you may just be rude and arrogant. However she has struggled to know what to conclude about your inability to comprehend what others are saying.

As I said before I could be way off the mark. However I have had the privilege of seeing students with this syndrome grow into fantastic young adults and develop better abilities in communicating.

Steven Carr said...

MCGREW
But the deception does Carr little good here, since in fact neither Hemer nor I have claimed that there were two proconsuls.


CARR
'Luke' says there ere 'proconsuls'.

There weren't.

McGrew is desperately trying to say somebody is correct to say there were 'proconsuls' , while lambasting me for saying that he and Hemer ever claimed there was more than one 'proconsul'.

If there were NOT two proconsuls, why is Luke correct to say 'proconsuls'?

McGrew is spinning around on the spot, claiming it is correct to say there were proconsuls and denying that there was more than one proconsul.

Now wonder McGrew is blind to contradictions in the Bible.

He cannot even spot where he contradicts himself.

His defense now consists of claiming that he did not say one thing , because if you look elsewhere he contradicted himself by saying the opposite.


Conclusion.

'Luke' says there were proconsuls.

McGrew has finally come clean and admitted that there was not, never was, and never could be two proconsuls.

But McGrew still claims 'Luke' was correct because, wait for it, wait for it......, more than ONE person was NOT proconsul.

And let us not forget, that even when challenged to his face. McGrew never produced a quote from Tacitus or Cassius to back up his original fantasy that two people acted as proconsul after Silvanus was murdered.

McGrew is so shameless that even when challenged to his face, he did not produce the sources which he claimed backed up what happened after the murder.

No wonder his arguments got such a hiding on the Internet Infidels board, where people know perfectly well that his desperate attempts to save Luke's 'proconsuls' are total fantasy.

He isn't fooling anybody except Reppert and Jake.

There were NOT two proconsuls, no matter what Acts says.

Steven Carr said...

TIM
Hemer 'Two men held office simultaneously'

Despite Carr’s use of quotation marks, this is not a claim made by Hemer.


CARR
Tim bluffs by saying Tacitus and Cassius back him up.


Bad mistake Tim.

I just rubbed your nose in your bluff.

And Tim is now lying about what Hemer says.

Bad mistake Tim.

Bad mistake. Won't people ever learn that I am right?

I shall just rub your nose in it, once more.

Page 169 of The book of Acts in the setting of Hellenistic history

'...after Nero's accession in October 54, when two men held office simultaneously (cf C, p 123 above)


Tim is now reduced to lying about what Hemer wrote.

And had the audacity to question me!

Sorry Tim, but I quote my sources, and your attempts to bluff by saying 'Hemer did not say that' simply give more dirt to rub your nose in.

Hemer did say '..two men held office simultaneously', and all your abuse about my reading skills is revealed as desperate attempts to hide the facts.

Steven Carr said...

JAKE
However she has struggled to know what to conclude about your inability to comprehend what others are saying.

CARR
I see Jake was fooled by McGrew's bluff that Hemer never said '...two men held office simultaneously', when anybody can turn to page 169 and read exactly that phrase in a note about Acts 19:38.

What does it feel like to have Tim pull the wool over your eyes, Jake?

He is playing you for a sucker.

Steven Carr said...

To sum up,

Conclusion.

Acts 19:38 says 'proconsuls' in the plural. There was not more than one proconsul.

Tim admits it. Hemer admits it. Everybody admits it.

This is over. 'Luke' has failed his civics exam.

Steven Carr said...

SERGEI
It looks like the elementary distinction between

(a) asserting that X is a true proposition

and

(b) asserting that person Y says or said that X is a true proposition

is lost on certain of Tim's discussion partners here.

CARR
It seems that Christians are now claiming that 'Luke' accurately reported errors....

Steven Carr said...

SERGEI
It looks like the elementary distinction between

(a) asserting that X is a true proposition

and

(b) asserting that person Y says or said that X is a true proposition

is lost on certain of Tim's discussion partners here.

CARR
It seems that Christians are now reduced to claiming that 'Luke' accurately reported errors....

'Luke' was wrong, but hey, he was quoting somebody else who was wrong.

You can now pass your 'civics exam' by repeating somebody else's wrong answers... Tim will still give you an A for civics.

Very amusing.

Jake Elwood XVI said...

Mr Carr

I will endeavour to look up the page number.


Vic Health also states that asperger's sufferers can also have
1. Problems with controlling feelings such as anger, depression and anxiety.
2. Behaviour varies from mildly unusual, eccentric or ‘odd’ to quite aggressive and difficult.
3. Sensitivity to criticism.

I am curious what field do you work in?

JEXVI

Tim said...

Steven,

Thanks for providing the reference to Hemer’s comment on p. 169, which does verify your use of quotation marks. I was looking only at p. 123, and since what you gave is in tension with Hemer’s more careful statement there, and since you habitually misrepresent what I have said, I assumed (mistakenly) that you were misrepresenting Hemer as claiming that two men held the appointed office of proconsul simultaneously, a claim that he does not make.

Instead, I see that you have found a place where he says that two men held office – not, be it noted, that they held the appointed office of proconsul, but merely that they held office – simultaneously. This does not support your subsequent sarcastic comment:

How can they hold office? And not be proconsuls? That is what ‘holding office’ means.

Nevertheless, though you have a mistaken apprehension regarding what it means, I do see that you did not simply invent the quotation. My apologies.

Since footnote 63 on p. 123 gives a modified take on the matter, I wonder whether Hemer changed his mind about the exact reason for the use of the plural. He died when parts of the work were still in draft, and the job of editing it for publication fell to Conrad Gempf. It is possible that Hemer was not even aware that he had left this loose end dangling.

Tim said...

As far as the use of the plural “proconsuls,” your continued objection suggests that you are unfamiliar with the details of the conferral and use of Roman administrative titles. In the reign of Claudius, procurators, by imperial decree, were treated as the Emperor’s vicars in their respective territories (Tacitus, Annals 12.60) and were answerable only to him. Hundreds of them were also entitled by Claudius to the ornamenta consularia, an honor that seems to have depended on nothing but their level of income (Suetonius, Claudius 24.1); and this honor was esteemed so highly that when Gaius Fulvius Plautianus, on whom the ornamenta consularia had been conferred, actually received the consulship, he was announced as consul for the second time. This remarkable expression shows that the term “proconsul” was, in a diplomatic context, sometimes used for someone who had not been appointed to that position provided that he had received the consular insignia.

Procurators occasionally even took the place of the appointed proconsul as procurator vice proconsulis. We have inscriptional evidence of this in the case of C. Minicius Italus, who had the procuratorship of Asia quam mandatu principis vice defuncti proconsulis rexit. (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum V 875)

Tacitus expressly says that both Celer and Helius were procurators, and they evidently stood high in Nero’s regard, since he shielded Celer from prosecution on extortion charges (Tacitus, Annals 13.33) and later gave Helias a high position in Italy. It is quite probable, then, that Celer and Helius had the ornamenta consularia. And it would require only a very moderate amount of tact on the part of the town clerk to refer, in the absence of an appointed proconsul, to powerful, well-connected men with official consular rank as “proconsuls.”