Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Corduan replies to Carrier on miracles

Here.

96 comments:

cl said...

Absolutely splendid. Seldom does a single writer, let alone a single piece, evoke conviction, confirmation and laughter. To do so after only the first few paragraphs is the highest compliment.

cl said...

Okay, so I'm almost to the end, and let me say: this guy has thoroughly recharged my interest in writing, philosophy, logic, wit, and many other things. This was literally the inspiration I needed tonight! I cannot wait to write a piece keeping in mind the many useful pointers laden throughout this article...

unkleE said...

Yep, a very worthwhile paper even though it's long. Thanks for posting the link.

B. Prokop said...

Now here's an interesting question. Are there any post-apostolic accounts of miracles that are universally recognized as such by the Church (by by "the Church", Imean the entire Church - Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants)?

Catholics, of course, recognize the occasional miracle, usually associated with one or another of the Saints. Some Evangelical sects regard miracles to be as common as mayflies. I know the Orthodox Church accepts certain events as miraculous (in their case, they're generally associated with icons).

Of course both Catholics and the Orthodox believe every single celebration of the Mass to be literally miraculous.

I personally quite seriously believe there have been at least three direct divine interventions in my own life, although since each one has a purely natural explanation, I don't for a second put them in the "miraculous" category, but rather examples of what St. Paul called "all things working together for the good".

But I can't think of a single miracle that everyone accepts as legitimate. The closest I can come to are possibly certain events associated with the Emperor Constantine.

Dan Gillson said...

I read through about half of it, and I think I get the gist. Many of Corduan's complaints appear to be the same that other writers make--Carrier is careless, sloppy, and doesn't fully understand what he's reading. If enough people say it, maybe Dick will get the hint.

BeingItself said...

"Either you believe in a God who can do miracles, in which case you are in a position to recognize a miracle, or you do not, in which case it becomes logically impossible for you to recognize divine intervention"

False dichotomy. And this guy is a professional philosopher? Pathetic.

B. Prokop said...

I posted this on the 4th of February, 2011, but it bears repeating here:

From The Brothers Karamazov:

Miracles will never confound a naturalist. It is not miracles that bring a naturalist to faith. A true naturalist, if he is not a believer, will always find in himself the strength and ability not to believe in miracles. And if a miracle stands before him as an irrefutable fact, he will sooner doubt his own senses than admit the fact. And even if he does admit it, he will admit it as a fact of nature that was previously unknown to him.

Dan Gillson said...

BeingItself,

Instead of just sputtering out a conclusory remark, why don't you indulge us with an argument. Is the dichotomy false because it contains a mere two choices? Do you have another possibility that Corduan failed to consider? Tell us, please.

cl said...

Dan,

"If enough people say it, maybe Dick will get the hint."

Spoken like a true optimist! Although, something also tells me you're enough of a realist not to hold your breath. However, I think that if more intelligent folk on Dick's side of the (a)theist question told him, then, maybe he might listen.

"Instead of just sputtering out a conclusory remark, why don't you indulge us with an argument."

That's all BI does. That's why most of us have taken to completely ignoring BI. It's exactly what Win said about the village atheist crying for attention as he hurls insults at the churchgoers :)

Matt DeStefano said...

"Either you believe in a God who can do miracles, in which case you are in a position to recognize a miracle, or you do not, in which case it becomes logically impossible for you to recognize divine intervention"

This is interesting for two reasons. The first, is that this completely rules out miracles as means for conversion. If you don't already believe in a God who can do miracles, then you can't possibly (logically! that's an incredibly strong demarcation!) observe a miracle. This seems to conflict with Biblical passages that suggest that after Jesus performed some miracle, people began to follow him. If they were unbelievers before, then on Corduan's account this becomes impossible.

The second is that it seems internally inconsistent. You can't hold that (a) miracles happen and (b) it is logically impossible for someone to recognize miracles.

Here's an argument:
(1) Either some event is a miracle or it is not a miracle, but not both.
(2) Being a miracle is not dependent upon the observer. (i.e. Jesus rising from the dead is a miracle, no matter who observes it)
(3) Therefore, any event witnessed by an observer will either be a miracle or not.
(4) If miracles do occur, it cannot be "logically impossible" to recognize them.

Now, an "unbeliever" or "skeptic" might not intrepret those events as miracles, but it doesn't mean that they can't observe miracles themselves.

Matt DeStefano said...

Oops, upon re-reading my comment I realized my second complaint was too strong. I took "recognize" to be roughly consistent with "observe", but it seems that he's using it as "interpret". It makes sense that it is "logically impossible" for someone who doesn't believe in God to interpret an event as divine intervention.

If that's his point, then I find it trivially true and uninteresting.

BeingItself said...

I currently do not believe in any gods, but that is not a belief I hold dogmatically. There are many scenarios which I would judge miraculous that would change my mind and cause me to be a theist.

Corduan presents an obvious false dichotomy, which indicates the extreme sloppiness of his thinking. So I say again: this guy is a professional philosopher? Pathetic.

Crude said...

Matt,

This seems to conflict with Biblical passages that suggest that after Jesus performed some miracle, people began to follow him.

I don't think those passages are dealing with atheists, are they? They believed in God to begin with. It was a question of what they believed about God/who they believed was God.

Crude said...

Matt,

The first, is that this completely rules out miracles as means for conversion.

Also, that doesn't seem right either, at least in 'completely' ruling out. The article mentions 'supernatural aid of God' in a miracle conversion of an atheist.

Crude said...

BI,

There are many scenarios which I would judge miraculous that would change my mind and cause me to be a theist.

Such as?

By the way, do you think God of the Gaps reasoning (I saw X, and I have no naturalistic explanation for X right now, therefore Godiddit) is valid reasoning?

im-skeptical said...

Corduan wrote this essay as a contribution to the book "In Defense of Miracles: A Comprehensive Case for God’s Action in History". So it sounds as though he should be trying to make a case that is meaningful to more than just believers. Yet his position is that anything could be a miracle if you simply see it as such. Miracles are experienced subjectively, and only by believers. If he wants to actually make a case, he needs to do more than just preach to the choir. The "supernatural aid of God" he mentions is clearly not what he has in mind, since he doesn't think it is necessary to pursue.

cl said...

And here comes Matt, repeating—almost verbatim—the very mistake of Carrier's that Win set out to correct!

Face, meet palm.

BeingItself said...

Suppose my arms and legs were amputated, and then after praying to Yahweh my arms and legs grew back. That would be evidence for me that there might be something to the Yahweh story.

Or if the stars in the night sky rearranged into John 3:16.
------------

To see how ridiculous Corduan's statement is, consider unicorns. I currently do not believe unicorns exist on Earth. But if unicorns were discovered on Earth, I would change my mind. But according to Corduan, it would be "logically impossible" for me to recognize a unicorn if I saw one, because I currently don't believe they exist.

I guess the problem is that Corduan holds his god belief dogmatically, and falsely projects that kind of dogmatism on atheists.

Matt DeStefano said...

Also, that doesn't seem right either, at least in 'completely' ruling out. The article mentions 'supernatural aid of God' in a miracle conversion of an atheist.

He says it's "logically impossible" for someone who doesn't believe in God to recognize a miracle. That completely rules it out.

I don't think we have any indication from the Bible or otherwise that every person Jesus encountered was already a theist, but nothing I said really stands or falls on that point.

cl said...

Matt,

You need to reread the article.

Crude said...

BI,

So again, your view is that if you don't have what you consider to be a plausible naturalistic explanation for a given event, you can rationally conclude it's a miracle?

Thanks!

BeingItself said...

"for a given event"

NO. It depends on the event.

Crude said...

BI,

NO. It depends on the event.

So 'God of the gaps' reasoning is okay, but only sometimes? Like when you feel it in your heart of hearts or something? ;)

BeingItself said...

Here is an example. Suppose I encountered a future me who reports that he/me traveled backwards in time. And suppose he provided a bunch of evidence to support that story.

I do not have a plausible explanation of how backwards in time travel is possible, but I would not call that a miracle.

Context matters, as defenders of miracles frequently say. I agree with that.

Syllabus said...

"Of course both Catholics and the Orthodox believe every single celebration of the Mass to be literally miraculous."

And some Protestants, too. Some high-church Anglicans and Lutherans believe in transubstantiation.

B. Prokop said...

Syllabus,

Right you are. Careless of me to omit them. I even attended Mass in Anglican churches when I lived in England, at which transubstantiation was a given, so I have even less excuse.

cl said...

Syllabus / Prokop,

Personally, I've always wondered why they thought that about the bread and wafer. It strikes me as a form of witchery or idolatry. To me, a clear reading of Scripture prohibits the possibility that the wafer *ACTUALLY IS* Christ. He told the disciples to this in rememberance, and Paul clearly states that Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

If either of you accept transubstantian, may I ask why? I anticipate an answer of, "church tradition."

B. Prokop said...

No, I take Christ at his word in John Chapter Six. Seems to me He was talking quite unequivocally literally there.

Crude said...

cl,

Without turning this into The Transubstanation Thread, I'd say wikipedia offers a decent start on this question. It's not just tradition, but NT support - but of course the NT supports are going to be disputed by (some) Protestants.

It's a point of major dispute between sects, naturally.

Syllabus said...

"Personally, I've always wondered why they thought that about the bread and wafer. It strikes me as a form of witchery or idolatry."

No to the former, as it's a miracle and not magic, and no to the latter, as worshipping Christ - since those who hold to transubstantiation believe that the wafer and wine become Christ - is not idolatry.

"To me, a clear reading of Scripture prohibits the possibility that the wafer *ACTUALLY IS* Christ. He told the disciples to this in rememberance,"

To drink the wine and eat the bread. That is, perform the ceremony. The remembrance part seems to be about the ritual/ceremony of Eucharist, not about the wine and bread themselves.

"and Paul clearly states that Christ is seated at the right hand of God."

Which is more a symbolic way of saying that Christ is the favoured one, exalted above all Creation, not that God has a throne, and that Christ is sitting to the right of it. And, let's remember, Christ really is God.

"If either of you accept transubstantian, may I ask why? I anticipate an answer of, "church tradition.""

Officially, I don't. I accept the Real Presence, but I don't hold a specific view on whether it's transubstantiation, consubstantiation, receptionism or something else that goes on when I take Eucharist.

cl said...

Yeah, I probably should have known better than to ask...

B. Prokop said...

Accepting the Real Presence is good enough for me!

As to not taking Jesus literally in John Six, recall that He frequently corrected His disciples when they mistakenly took Him literally when He didn't want them to. (Example: when the apostles took His warning against the "leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees" in a woodenly literal sense, He corrected them, explaining that He was referring to their teachings, not to their bread.)

But in this case, when (apparently thousands of) His followers abandoned Him precisely over taking the teaching of the Eucharist literally, He did not call them back, saying something like, "Hey guys, you got me all wrong. I was only speaking metaphorically!"

cl said...

I don't think they went away because they had an aversion to cannibalism...

BeingItself said...

"Paul clearly states that Christ is seated at the right hand of God"

Wait. What?! God has a hand? So, he has a body.

Hilarious how when arguing with atheists your god is this nebulous non-physical ground of being, yet among yourselves god morphs back into the bearded guy in the sky.

And when atheists argue against the biblical guy in the sky god, we are accused of being unsophisticated.

Cale B.T. said...

BeingItself:

Aquinas wrote:

"Whatever pertains to posture, also, is only attributed to God by some sort of parallel. He is spoken of as sitting, on account of His unchangeableness and dominion; and as standing, on account of His power of overcoming whatever withstands Him."

Further discussion on the issue of Christ's Heavenly Session can be found here:
http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4058.htm

B. Prokop said...

Beingitself,

Your lame attempt at humor gets you nowhere.

Besides, laugh all you want but God does indeed have a hand... and a foot, and an eye... etc., etc. Remember, Christians believe that Jesus is God - so Christ's very human body is God's body. As He Himself said to the apostles, "To have seen me is to have seen the Father" (from the Gospel of John).

So your strange foray into would-be ridicule is just... strange. (and very wide of the mark)

Walter said...

I actually agree with BI to some extent. There is a tension between the God described in classical theism and the anthropopathic and very personal God of the Judeo-Christian narratives. I believe this is why many contemporary philosophers of the Protestant persuasion have abandoned classical theistic concepts of God in favor of Theistic Personalism.

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

That "tension" is called the Incarnation. It is what convinces me that no other form of theism can stand up to Christianity in a fair match.

There's not a lot of debate on this particular website (in fact, none at all) on the relative merits of Christianity versus Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Daoism, Yoruba, etc. But I guarantee you this - were there to be such, it would not be one about miracles, or the First Cause, or the problem of evil, or even the Resurrection. It would be squarely about the Incarnation.

Walter said...

That "tension" is called the Incarnation. It is what convinces me that no other form of theism can stand up to Christianity in a fair match.

I am convinced that there was no incarnation and that the New Testament texts do not present Jesus as God. I am convinced that the language of exaltation applied by those who saw Jesus as the human Messiah was misconstrued when Christianity began to migrate away from its Jewish heritage into the Hellenized culture of the Greco-Roman world. As far as I am concerned Jesus does not solve the tension between Jerusalem and Athens.

Daniel Anderson said...

"I am convinced that there was no incarnation and that the New Testament texts do not present Jesus as God."

I think this is mistaken. I also think there is a tension here that is difficult for the unbeliever who wants to simply write off the gospel texts as unreliable from subsequent NT doctrine. In the gospels we have an interesting balance of Jesus as God (in some sense) and as fully man. For example, Jesus' most self-designated term is "son of man" (especially in the synoptics but it also appears in the gospel of John). Yet, there isn't an epistle that gives Jesus this title.

On the other hand we see things that Jesus said and did that were very much claims to divinity - claiming to be the new temple (which was where heaven met earth, the center of a Jew's life), being the good shepherd (God claimed this role in Ezekiel 34:12), the ability to forgive sins, further revelation of commands on his authority ("I say unto you"), and many more.



BenYachov said...

>"Paul clearly states that Christ is seated at the right hand of God"

>Wait. What?! God has a hand? So, he has a body.

This is rare BI actually saying something intelligent.

Of course "right hand of the Father" doesn't literally mean God the Father is on some literal physical throne & Jesus is sitting literally slightly to the right of Him. It means the Son is the Equal to the Father in Authority and Majesty.

It's like claiming when Holy Writ says "He will enfold you in His Wings" that God is literally Big bird.

>I am convinced that there was no incarnation and that the New Testament texts do not present Jesus as God.

That last part is an impossible sell on a straight reading of the Texts. Call them fictions if you want but then they are fictions that clearly present Jesus as God.

BenYachov said...

>I am convinced that the language of exaltation applied by those who saw Jesus as the human Messiah was misconstrued when Christianity began to migrate away from its Jewish heritage into the Hellenized culture of the Greco-Roman world.

This is also a tough sell if you read as have I Tesla's THE THEOLOGY OF JUDEO-CHRISTIANITY.

Begatti's ARCHEOLOGY OF JEWISH CHRISTIANITY is a must companion to this.

The early Jewish Christians did believe in His Divinity. Even heretics like the Ebionites and Elkenites believed he was a semi-Divine Angelic being.

If he was "made into God" then it was the Torah observant Nazarene Jewish Christian who accepted Paul's who did it. As Cardinal Jean Danielu who also wrote a classic on early Jewish Christian Theology said of the Nazarenes they where Catholics in every way with a tendency to observe rites of the Old Law with the New.

BenYachov said...

Sorry I gave the tile of Danielu's book for Tesla.

Faith of the Mother Church
Emmanuel Testa, OFM
An essay on the theology of the Judeo-Christians.

B. Prokop said...

I am especially amused when people claim that the Gospels somehow morphed Jesus into God, when the earliest Christians supposedly did not so believe. Yet these skeptics are also the very same people who tell us that, since the Pauline Epistles were likely written prior to the Gospels*, they give us a "clearer" view on what the 1st generation Church actually thought. OK, I'll bite. Chew on these passages from Paul:

"He [Jesus] was in the form of God" (Philippians 2:6)

"He [Jesus] is the visible image of the invisible God ... in him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on Earth, visible and invisible ... all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

* I have my doubts about the dating order of the letters and the Gospels, but that is the subject for another conversation.

BenYachov said...

Here is some good stuff on ancient Jewish Christianity & archeology.

http://www.hebrewcatholic.org/ahcstore.html?category=Fran.+Prtg.+Pr.,+Jerusalem

I haven't read it in years but I suppose I might circle back to it.

Daniel Anderson said...

Bob,

I would also point out Hebrews 1:3 where Jesus is the "perfect imprint" of God's nature. The book of Hebrews goes on to attributes Psalms, meant for YHWH, to Jesus.

BenYachov said...

Like I said if you want to claim the NT is made up out of thin air go for it but clearly it teaches the Deity of Christ.

The Pre-Nicene Fathers are worth a look here.

B. Prokop said...

Good catch, Daniel. Especially since most scholars, both Christian and non-Christian, date the Epistle to the Hebrews quite early - indeed, it's generally considered to be one of the first (if not the first) books of the New Testament to have been written.

Walter said...

Bob,

Yes, the language of exaltation sounds like claims of deity, but that is because we are not Jews living in the second temple period. When certain phrases are ripped out of their original cultural context they seem to be saying something other than they actually were.

It is not my claim that the biblical authors morphed Jesus into God - I claim that they never presented him that way. It was the Gentile Church that misunderstood the language of exaltation and who elevated Jesus' status from that of a suffering human Messiah who spoke with the authority of Yahweh into a deity supposedly co-equal with the only true God of Israel.

Thom Stark will soon (hopefully) be releasing his new book Behold the Man: How Orthodox Christianity Distorted the Bible and Turned Jesus of Nazareth into a God By Thom Stark which makes the case that Jesus was never presented as a co-deity.

BenYachov said...

Stark doesn't inspire me with much confidence. He reacts against the extremes of fundamentalist evangelical "scholarly" excess with a hyper fundamentalist liberal Christian "scholarly" excess.

For example his whole polemic of Copen is based largely on the theories of Susan Nidditch who believed the ancient Israelite Yahwist religion practiced infant sacrifice. Well if he read Nidditch's critics they say her speculations are innovative but in the end like with the claims of the OT & the Rabbis there is very little archeological evidence of wide spread infant sacrifice in ancient Palestine.

Now of course Kenneth Kitchen rightly notes an absence of archeological evidence is not evidence of absence. So we can't rule out Nidditch's theory or the claims of the OT & Talmudic Rabbis on wide spread Canaanite sacrifice.

Plus there is the whole OT issue of the Prophet condemning Israelite syncretism with the Canaanite pagan religion.

Stark is like Copan only in reverse. Copan is an Evangelical with an agenda who might overlook stuff to vindicate God. Stark is an anti-evangelical iconoclast with an agenda.

One need not believe in God to conclude the authors of the NT actually meant to teach the Jesus figure was somehow God's equal and a manifestation of God in a primitive Pre-Nicean manner.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the correct one.

Also the guys I read actually dug up the holy land.

BenYachov said...

>Yes, the language of exaltation sounds like claims of deity, but that is because we are not Jews living in the second temple period.

Yet the Nazarene Jewish Christians believed in his deity.

B. Prokop said...

I have to disagree with Walter's thesis on two grounds.

1. For reasons which will become clear (I hope) under point two, Jesus rarely spoke directly about Himself. He preferred to say things like, "You have said so," and similar phrases. When He did touch on His divinity, it was usually in what we now call "dog whistles". Examples: "I tell you, there is something greater than the Temple here" (Matthew 12:6). Or "Who can forgive sins but God alone? ... The Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins." (Mark 2:5-10). Or my favorite, "Before Abraham was, I Am" (John 8:58). And many, many other places.

2. The Second Temptation in the Desert (Matthew 4:5-7). I've posted on this topic before, but it bears repetition. When reading these narratives, ask yourself, "What could possibly tempt God?" We are told repeatedly that Jesus underwent temptation. Now in order for this not to be a fraud or just play-acting, the temptations have to be plausible. Ignoring the other two for the moment (I have theories about them as well), I understand the second temptation to be one of God choosing to not force belief in Himself on Mankind. He will provide whatever is necessary for Faith, but not to the extent that belief is compelled. So don't expect the stars to spell out John 3:16 or anything like that. As St. Paul says in Romans, we lack nothing by way of information, but Faith still requires our consent.

Daniel Anderson said...

Walter, the book is added to my wishlist.

Even so, I really do not see how the verses I provided do not make the case - even from a Jewish background - the view of the temple at that time and Jesus' claim to be greater than it was, in the least, claiming more than simply being some guy from Nazareth - not to mention him claiming to be the good shepherd. Even more so, the author of Hebrews application of Psalm 45:6 and Psalm 102:25 (meant for YHWH) to Jesus is hard to dispute with.

There are many more of these - like the use of the Greek word kyrios after Jesus' resurrection which became Paul's favorite designation of Jesus. John quoting an early hymn which stated that "the word is God." His own authority in relation to the law and the commandments. There are tons of these things throughout the entire New Testament.

Just the same, I will eventually read the book. I have quite a few others to get through for now.

Daniel Anderson said...

Ok, I can't find it on Amazon to add to my wishlist, but I did jot it down to find.

Walter said...

Daniel,

Stark deals with every single passage that has been mentioned in this thread so far. The reason that I know this is because before Thom pulled the plug on his blog he did a ten part series on this topic. These posts were then collated into a single 230 page PDF file that I currently possess.

For my part, as a deist, I don't have a high view of Christian scriptures to begin with, so even outright claims of Jesus deity would not constitute any kind of proof to me. Still though, I believe Thom is right and he lays out a pretty strong case. At the very least Thom's book should silence trinitarian critics who believe that unitarians can't mount a scholarly defense of their Christology.

Walter said...

Daniel, I don't see it at Amazon either. The only place I am seeing it is at the following link.


https://wipfandstock.com/forthcoming_titles

BenYachov said...

>At the very least Thom's book should silence trinitarian critics who believe that unitarians can't mount a scholarly defense of their Christology.

I find it hard to believe he is the Superman that has done what more educated & credentialed Unitarians have failed to do in the last 200 years.

But hey let him have a shot.

Daniel Anderson said...

Well, I would definitely be willing to give it a look.

For my part, as a deist, I don't have a high view of Christian scriptures to begin with, so even outright claims of Jesus deity would not constitute any kind of proof to me.

I didn't think that is what we were talking about.

You wrote, "I am convinced that there was no incarnation and that the New Testament texts do not present Jesus as God."

I was simply providing some argument in relation to this.

Even so, I would be interested to see his arguments. Do you remember any of them?

Walter said...

I would be interested to see his arguments. Do you remember any of them?

Yes, I have the 230 page PDF which likely amounts to a rough draft of his upcoming book. Thom's thesis essentially consists of a cumulative case argument where he shows several examples of exalted language being used by the Jews of that time period to describe other beings that were clearly not considered to be deities. It would be next to impossible for me to summarize his arguments to the point where I could give a one-sentence response as to why a particular passage may not be as good a trinitarian proof-text as one might wish it to be.

Daniel Anderson said...

Totally understand. That was what I was looking for. Could you ever email the pdf?

Syllabus said...

"Could you ever email the pdf?"

Likewise.

Walter said...

This is the disclaimer at the start of Thom's "book"

DISLCAIMER

This book was originally a series of blog posts, and I haven’t yet made any significant
changes to it. In other words, it is still very informal and very rough. It hasn’t been
proof-read all that well, so be forewarned on that as well. I intend at some point to
revise this and make it suitable for publication and academic scrutiny. As it is right
now, it is not suitable. So if you have a copy of this manuscript, please do not distribute
it.
I ask this not because I don’t want to distribute my material for free, but because I
don’t want it distributed until I deem it ready to be distributed!


I'd prefer to honor his wishes. This is why I hope the book comes out soon. This informal draft was written in 2010.

Syllabus said...

"I'd prefer to honor his wishes."

Fair enough.

Walter said...

Hmm, looks like you can still snag a copy via Google cache:

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:7E71OwD5gj0J:radicalresources.org/books/stark_undivinzing-jesus.pdf+undivinizing+jesus&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgBXoES6pKQ4oRUghcfetxMD2A6k9P303bAgbD9I-zMVHY8HG1EjYlWrMaUX9N-DCh6bPXEuk92syROY1jmiWRDYo1kuOB24k_egoG6sr9qH8y3GUKVkEZkkiqaVPxGCfWYUnM4&sig=AHIEtbQKX8l0Pf-FjrK3kbyMZjAne4S_Nw&pli=1

Syllabus said...

Excellent. Thanks.

Daniel Anderson said...

Sweet! Thank you!

BenYachov said...

Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.-John 8:58

"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

All the puns in the Gospel referring to the literal translation of God's name YHWH & the pre-existence of Jesus are hard to miss & I submit are hard to explain away.

Many anti-Pauline Jewish Christian heretics believed at minimum Jesus was a Super Angelic Being that came forth from God, but any idea the writes of the NT wished to portray him as just a man is laughable.

Like I said call the NT made up fiction if you like. Call it made up fiction about someone who was a mere man in real life.

But the authors clearly "made up" the story of a Divine Being not a mere man only.

Sadly I think Stark in his zeal to take out Evangelicalism will betray common sense.

Syllabus said...

"All the puns in the Gospel referring to the literal translation of God's name YHWH & the pre-existence of Jesus are hard to miss & I submit are hard to explain away."

Yeah, the whole "ego eimi" thing on the Sea of Galilee, for instance.

BenYachov said...

>he shows several examples of exalted language being used by the Jews of that time period to describe other beings that were clearly not considered to be deities.

This is unremarkable I learned this from Prof Finney over at Adelphi as an Undergrad. It was the universal belief among oriental Semitic monarchs (& pagan religions have this theme as well) that they where the literal human embodiment & manifestation of a particular god. The concept of a God-King was all over the ancient near east. The Israelites of course took over this theme (the King represents Elohim) but modified it to render their King still mere mortals. The theme of the Messiah King was of someone more then a mere mortal & so exalted he was even called God & that appears even in early Rabbinic writings.
The genius of the NT narratives is the coming God King is a literal God King not just another mortal son after David. He is actually identified with the sacred name other then merely calling him Elohim.

Like I said call it made up if it helps you sleep at night. But the NT is a "made up tale" about the coming of a literal supernatural God King.

BenYachov said...

I just took a peak at Stark's comments on "I AM" language & his answer "Well they are not suppose to be taken literally".

Well that's convenient(eye roll).

His weird theme people who deny the deity of Christ "aren't necessarily heretics" is a bit daft. His equally weird claim that the orthodox are the true "heretics" beg the question as to who is it that had the authority to say what is or is not heresy?

Is Stark the Pope?

Well if I may flex my Catholic muscles here. Stark is the natural end of what you get when Sola Scriptura & Perspicuity are run amok.

Since the Scriptures where handed on with a body called the Church it is the Church which tells us what the meaning of the text happens to be.

One last point his theme that some of the divine language used by the Nt refers to angelic beings in apocraphal literature means the writes didn't see Jesus as God well is he aware among the Semetic Pagans an Angel would be seen as a type of god?

Pointless.

BenYachov said...

Hmmmmm He never cites any Patristics not even the late first and the second century Father who learned at the Apostles feet.

That's like trying to interpret the Constitution by solely looking a French & or English Common Law but not the writings of Jefferson and later students of His.

Typical Fundamentalist. Interpret the Bible alone without the Fathers & come up with nonsense like Sola Fide (James 2:24) or Jesus isn't God and it's not heresy.

Quite silly really.

BenYachov said...

Ignatius of Antioch who died in 110 AD was a disciple of both Peter and John so I think he would know the meaning of his Masters' work better than Stark.

Ignatius of Antioch

"Ignatius, also called Theophorus, to the Church at Ephesus in Asia . . . predestined from eternity for a glory that is lasting and unchanging, united and chosen through true suffering by the will of the Father in Jesus Christ our God" (Letter to the Ephesians 1 [A.D. 110]).

"For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit" (ibid., 18:2).

"[T]o the Church beloved and enlightened after the love of Jesus Christ, our God, by the will of him that has willed everything which is" (Letter to the Romans 1 [A.D. 110]).

So if John never intended to teach the deity of Christ then I guess Ignatius wasn't paying attention?

So I don't see how Stark has written anything worth reading or believing on the deity of Christ.

Walter said...

Like I said call it made up if it helps you sleep at night. But the NT is a "made up tale" about the coming of a literal supernatural God King.

I agree with your second sentence, Yachov, even though I doubt that is what you intended to write. :)

Stark doesn't believe that any of the bible is made up, he simply believes that orthodox Christians are misinterpreting the language of that particular time and culture. Certain expressions took on different meaning when Christianity "went Gentile."

I really did not expect any lifelong trinitarians to be swayed by Thom's arguments because they are too threatening to their core beliefs and identity. To accept what Thom is saying is tantamount to committing to a damnable heresy for most of the Christian readers here. For my part, as I stated earlier, it doesn't matter to me if the NT directly states "Jesus is God" every third sentence, so I am not invested heavily in Thom's exegesis - but I do think that he is right.

BenYachov said...

>Stark doesn't believe that any of the bible is made up, he simply believes that orthodox Christians are misinterpreting the language of that particular time and culture.

Which is a lame claim when the Scripture is compared to the beliefs of those who where the disciples of them who wrote it.

It's like reading the constitution solely in terms of Common Law & French enlightenment philosophy to the exclusion of Jefferson's other writings & his successors.

>Certain expressions took on different meaning when Christianity "went Gentile."

Or more simply the Jews who wrote the NT could have changed those meanings when they wrote them into the NT?

St Melito of Sardis was a Jewish Christian & he accused the Jews who turned Jesus over to the Romans of Deicide. Obviously to do that he need to believe in the Deity of Jesus in the first place & He did explicitly

It's kind of racist that somehow Gentiles can't learn from the feet of their Jewish teachers.

>I really did not expect any lifelong trinitarians to be swayed by Thom's arguments because they are too threatening to their core beliefs and identity.

I can become an Atheist tomorrow and based on the scholarly info I got from Tesla, Bigatti or Danielu or my religious studies Professor at Adelphi I would still conclude Stark is a hack.

The authors of the NT clearly believed Jesus was God or some human manifestation of God. To believe otherwise I might as well adopt Jesus Mytherism which if I recall is a view Stark has defended.

B. Prokop said...

"because they are too threatening"

Oh, Walter, please don't start channeling Papalinton now, and try to read others' minds and motivations. Facts are never threatening to "life-long Trinitarians". Neither is conjecture (which, in the final analysis, is all that any 21st Century pretense at delving into the 1st Century mindset is).

Believe me in this, if in nothing else, I have never read a posting to this or any other website that threatened my Faith in the least. And that is not due to closed-mindedness, pigheadedness, or blind faith, but simply because I have yet to come across an argument strong enough (or even coherent enough) to be deemed "threatening".

I'll let you know when I hear one.

Walter said...

Oh, Walter, please don't start channeling Papalinton now, and try to read others' minds and motivations.

There is nothing controversial about what I wrote. All of us tend to reject beliefs that strike at the core of our being and threaten our identity as Catholics, atheists, or whatever. I was not claiming this as a unique problem for Christians only, so unclench a little.

Point being that few Christian denominations give their adherents any latitude when it comes to theological beliefs - you toe the party line or get out.

Syllabus said...

"Point being that few Christian denominations give their adherents any latitude when it comes to theological beliefs - you toe the party line or get out."

That's only because 95% of all denominations are schismatic Baptists...

Walter said...

The authors of the NT clearly believed Jesus was God or some human manifestation of God. To believe otherwise I might as well adopt Jesus Mytherism which if I recall is a view Stark has defended.

Stark has never espoused mythicism. Stop spouting ignorance. i will wager that neither you nor Prokop will even read Stark's thesis. You know Yachov, I bought and read a book by Feser, Brian Davies, and George Eldon Ladd based on recommendations from you and other here. Is it so hard for you to read something that I link to and will cost you nothing but time? I know that your mind is already made up in advance, but you might find some thought provoking ideas in Thom's work.

BenYachov said...

We really don't need to compare Walter to Paps here Bob.

He is not anything like Paps.

Of course I stand by my "Hack" remark in regards to Stark.

Walter said...

That's only because 95% of all denominations are schismatic Baptists...

Yeah, and what exactly is an Anglican but a schismatic?

BenYachov said...

>Stark has never espoused mythicism.

I never said he did rather that he defended it.

>i will wager that neither you nor Prokop will even read Stark's thesis.

Well it's already flawed. I used the word search on the PDF not second century writer's name comes up.

He is a Hack.

At least the Unitarians of yesteryear tried to interpret the Fathers according to their oddball beliefs. They failed but at least they tried.

BenYachov said...

>Yeah, and what exactly is an Anglican but a schismatic?

A schismatic that is High Church & like the ancient Christians still accepts Tradition and History and some type of visible church.

Unlike neo-landmark baptist types like Stark.

BenYachov said...

At a glance I don't see any information I haven't read elsewhere sans Stark's self-serving kneejerk anti-orthodox interpretation.

If David Armstrong where here he would bag on Stark for his ignorance of THE DEVELOPMENT OF DOCTRINE.

So much wrong in Stark.

Walter said...

Well it's already flawed. I used the word search on the PDF not second century writer's name comes up.

That is about what I thought you would do.

Unlike neo-landmark baptist types like Stark.

Stark is Stone-Capbell. The same sect that I belonged to for a few years before my short-lived conversion to atheism. Campbellites reject all creedal confessions; their motto is "Back to the Bible."

BenYachov said...

>You know Yachov, I bought and read a book by Feser, Brian Davies, and George Eldon Ladd based on recommendations from you and other here.

I've already read William Webster's ROMAN CATHOLICISM AT THE BAR OF HISTORY. The only difference between him and Stark is Webster reads Reformed Calvinism into the Fathers & accepts the deity of Christ.

Stark ignores the Fathers & wants me to interpret the NT apart from those who learned at the Apostles heals.

That is not historical study that is mere propaganda.

B. Prokop said...

"I will wager that neither you nor Prokop will even read Stark's thesis."

Who knows? I may, I may not. I read 8-10 books a week. I've read From Jesus to Christ by Paula Fredriksen, a book that basically tried to prove that all of Christianity is the result of 1st Century Jewish internal struggles played out in the pages of the New Testament. I've read other similarly "non-Faith" treatments of the NT. Doesn't scare me. Sometimes, I actually learn something from such books.

But you know what? I've yet to read a so-called scholarly treatment of the subject that can hold a candle to the Catholic Faith. And at this point (and I'm 60 years old and this has been a lifelong interest for me), I'm beginning to doubt I ever shall.

But I'll keep listening. the ironic thing is that each encounter with such "debunkings" over the years has only increased my Faith. I doubt if that was the result the various writers intended, but there it is.

Signing off now. Off to do some observing.

BenYachov said...

>Stark is Stone-Capbell. The same sect that I belonged to for a few years before my short-lived conversion to atheism. Campbellites reject all creedal confessions; their motto is "Back to the Bible."

They are nothing more than Baptists with an extremist view of Baptismal Regeneration.

I've encountered them too. They helped make a stronger Catholic of me when I balked at their taking John 6 symbolically.

Dan Gillson said...

Bob,

Firstly, I'm duly impressed that you read 8-10 books a week. That's an astonishing number, and I would call myself an avid reader. (I do spend much of my time writing in my journal while I read, and that slows me down considerably. Still, without journaling, I think I'd be lucky to get in 2 or 3 books a week. Perhaps I need to work less.)

Secondly, I have generally found that such "debunkings" make much ado out of very little; they end up reading more like conspiracy theories than real, academic work. Even I, as an unbeliever, don't find them to be useful in maintaining my doubts. (Not that doubts need to be maintained, mind you.)

Walter said...

the ironic thing is that each encounter with such "debunkings" over the years has only increased my Faith

Believe it or not, Bob, I am not a big fan of a lot of the current crop of "debunking Christianity" type books either. I consider Jesus-myth claims to be seriously flawed. I only mentioned Stark's work (who considers himself to be a Christian, btw) as a response to your claim that the incarnation supposedly solves the tension between the highly abstract and remote God of Greek philosophy and the very personal and anthropopathic Yahweh. I don't believe that the person of Jesus solves that tension. You are absolutely free to disagree with Stark's conclusion, but I do take issue with Yachov's ranting that Stark is a "hack." Maybe Stark is right and maybe he is wrong, but Stark is presenting his case in a scholarly manner, and it does him a disservice to casually dismiss his thesis with a hand wave or ad hominem attack. Kudos to Syllabus and Daniel Anderson for at least being willing to give Stark a fair hearing.

B. Prokop said...

Dan,

My reading is no cause for boasting.

My daughters have grown and have their own families now. My wife passed away almost four years ago. I live alone (with my dog) and own no television. Books and astronomy are my main form of entertainment.

B. Prokop said...

And classic cinema (love old movies - the older, the better).

B. Prokop said...

I just fact-checked myself, and learned that I only finished 6 books in the past 8 days. Sorry for the exaggeration. Problem is, I have the terrible habit of reading multiple books at the same time (I'm reading 13 right now, and I did check that figure, though I may have overlooked one or two) and seldom keep track of the rate at which I finish them. I'm going to have to re-think my idea of what the true totals are. Probably closer to slightly under one per day. Just started yet another (right before falling asleep last night) - Henry VII, a biography by Charles Williams.

Wasn't trying to deceive anyone up there. But thanks for making me go through the effort to get an accurate figure.

BenYachov said...

>Secondly, I have generally found that such "debunkings" make much ado out of very little; they end up reading more like conspiracy theories than real, academic work. Even I, as an unbeliever, don't find them to be useful in maintaining my doubts. (Not that doubts need to be maintained, mind you.)

I absolutely agree. Who knew?

BenYachov said...

>You are absolutely free to disagree with Stark's conclusion, but I do take issue with Yachov's ranting that Stark is a "hack."

He is a hack! Divorcing the NT from it's writers & divorcing it from the disciples of it writers is just stupid even if you believe it is all made up.

Ignoring the whole second century!

Hack!

I haven't even brought up Justin Martyr & or Ireaneus who was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of St John the Apostle.

This is typical of fundamentalists. This is just the old "secret lost Christianity" trope. If it's not Stark it's Joseph Smith, landmark Baptists, or Muhammed. He is just another in a long line of guys who claim to have discovered the "real" teaching of Christianity till they where lost.

> Maybe Stark is right and maybe he is wrong, but Stark is presenting his case in a scholarly manner, and it does him a disservice to casually dismiss his thesis with a hand wave or ad hominem attack.

Stark is not above ad hominem against scholars ten times his education & or his plausible equals. So who cares? A bad idea is a bad idea.

I read his "explanation" of the ergo mei/I AM passages & his argument boils down too "Don't take them literally". He bit Paul Copan's head off for suggesting the Haraam/extermination passages in the OT not be taken literally.

Look I already know from from my own professors and books I read "Elohim" was a term used in ancient Near east literature and Jewish Pseudepigrapah to refer to exalted Angelic beings. They where called Sons of God, Firstborn & a lot of titles the NT uses to refer to Jesus.

But the brute fact the author of John associates Jesus with the Divine Name strongly suggests the writer wishes to up the anti in regards to JC. He is not an ordinary super angel. He is a literal manifestation of the Name.

Like I said call it a made up tale Walter if it helps you sleep at night. But if it is one then the NT made up a Jesus who was YHWH made flesh.

I might as well listen to Jesus Mythers and be done with it.

BenYachov said...

You can find the same information in the writings of real scholars like James H. Charlesworth only without the weird anti-orthodox conspiracy theories.

Syllabus said...

"Yeah, and what exactly is an Anglican but a schismatic?"

More or less what Ben said. But I meant it with much more levity than you seem to have read into it.