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Re: The Reliability of the Gospels

Postby jimwalton » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:12 pm

> if they were right, and complete, why would it seem good to luke to write another one?

No Gospel account is complete. I have a biography of Abraham Lincoln that's 600 pages, and it's different from other 600-pages bios of Lincoln. I have another one of General MacArthur of about the same length. Every historiographer is selective. Mark's Gospel is only 11,000 words, slightly longer than a max-length reddit post. There's no way it's complete. Matthew's is about 18,000 words (two reddit posts). There was more to be said. That's what I read between the lines.

> it's unclear whether or not he would be aware of matthew.

I agree. But's it hard to know what awareness or access to "Q" he might have had. We make so much out of "Q", but no reference to it or fragment of it (that we know of) has ever been found. It's quite the phantom theory in the mist.

> matthew the person, yes, may indeed be the source for Q. this is kind of a pet theory i have; the traditional attribution is that matthew wrote a sayings gospel in aramaic, which sounds an awful lot like a) the kind of thing an actual witness would write, and b) like and original language source for Q, which is greek. the gospel of matthew may have taken on that name because it contained the source that matthew actually wrote.

I have the same pet theory, and actually find myself in possible agreement with much of this. Suppose Matthew, living in Jerusalem, was actively telling and retelling the stories of Jesus. At one point he wrote down a bunch of it, especially the sayings (the 5 large blocks of speeches in Matthew), (possibly the logia to which Papias refers. As Mark and Matthew, along with others, circulated and spoke in Jerusalem and its environs, many of these stories took on set forms and were assembled into a document or series of documents ("Q"). Mark moved to Rome, spent some time with Peter, and used his exposure to Jesus (as a Jerusalemite and in a family of believers [Acts 12.12]), his exposure to Matthew, and his knowledge of Q to compose his Gospel. Matthew, reading Mark's Gospel a short time later, cribs blocks of it (since he was the source anyway) for his own Gospel, adding to it the logia that he had previously written down. Matthew's material is then possibly edited and enhanced by some later collaborators with other material from Mark, and we end up with Matthew's Gospel, "written" by Matthew, cribbed from Mark (of which Matthew may have been a source), including the logia, and possibly further redacted later by other contributors until it solidified into the Gospel we have today.

That could be why we have quotes from Matthew in the late 1st c., knowledge of the writing known to have Matthew as its tradent, and only later identified as "According to Matthew" by the late 2nd c.
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Re: The Reliability of the Gospels

Postby Turnkey » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:17 pm

I gotta say that this is confusing. Are you saying that the way you can determine that the gospel authors are reliable is by comparing their writings with extraneous sources not in the bible?
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Re: The Reliability of the Gospels

Postby jimwalton » Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:20 pm

I'm saying that one of the accepted determinants of reliability is the corroboration of external sources. If the Gospel writers are accurate in their rendering of history, geography, culture, religious expression, it lends a hand to giving credibility to their rendering of Jesus. It shows that they considered themselves to be writing historiography, not mythology or legend, and that they were trying to be responsible in their portrayals of all about which they were writing.
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Re: The Reliability of the Gospels

Postby Turnkey » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:24 pm

Cool. Now, in regards to the rest of the gospel which is not corroborated by external sources...what do you do? Because there is a game series called "Assassins Creed." And it uses real historical people in historical places and references real historical events. But it uses all of this as part of a fictional story series about assassins.

They are basically doing the same thing as the gospel writers in so far that you can look at parts of the gospel that can be corroborated and see that they are true. Just like i can look at parts of assassins creed that can be corroborated and see that they are true.

Now, i don't think that the fact the game uses real people, places, events, etc that can be historically verified give the rest of it that cannot any type of credibility towards being true. The rest is all fantasy.

Why isn't yours fantasy as well?
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Re: The Reliability of the Gospels

Postby jimwalton » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:26 pm

Because the authors of the game know they are creating a fictional game using some real historical people, places, and events. But they know they are creating a fictional work. The writers of the Gospels intent to relate accurate history—an accurate account of what actually happened. The difference is profound.
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Re: The Reliability of the Gospels

Postby Farmer 77 » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:38 pm

> If the Gospel writers are accurate in their rendering of history, geography, culture, religious expression, it lends a hand to giving credibility to their rendering of Jesus.

If the gospel writers are accurate in their rendering of geography, culture, etc., then it lends credence to their depiction of otherwise-uncorroborated aspects of geography, culture, etc. Congrats, you've given strong evidence against the claim nobody was making, that the authors of the gospel were foreigners from a different era. You established that the gospels are not in the genre of sci-fi or fantasy, although again, the opposition never claimed that. Our claim is that the genre is "magical realism".

As a billion people have explained to you, it's an incredibly common device for fiction writers to insert fictional characters or events into real settings, even going so far as to include real people. I could list off thousands of books that do the same. It is NOT the case that since gospel writers seemed to be aware of their own culture and geography, they were somehow automatically more credible when, say, Matthew described a completely uncorroborated and unprecedented mass zombie uprising.
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Re: The Reliability of the Gospels

Postby jimwalton » Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:38 pm

> Congrats, you've given strong evidence against the claim nobody was making, that the authors of the gospel were foreigners from a different era.

Again you misunderstand and misinterpret, my friend. Yes, Luke was a foreigner from a different era. Matthew and John were not, and Mark most likely was not, since he was a Jerusalemite and his family was active in the early church (Acts 12.12). If we can count on their eyewitness or well-researched accounts with regard to history, geography, and culture, there is reason for us to count on their eyewitness or well-researched accounts about Jesus. It says nothing about their being distanced from the source material.

> Our claim is that the genre is "magical realism"

OK. My claim is that the genre is theologically-interpreted historiography.

> it's an incredibly common device for fiction writers to insert fictional characters or events into real settings, even going so far as to include real people. I could list off thousands of books that do the same.

Yes, yes, I know people do this. In the ancient world, historical novels or historical fantasy was virtually unheard of (The Iliad and Odyssey might be the only examples). The Gospel writers considered themselves to be recording history from a theological vantage point. Since their recording of history, people, cultural mores and religious activity are reliable, there is no particular reason to doubt their telling of the story of Jesus.

> mass zombie uprising

This event is told with the same historical intent as darkness over the land for 3 hours, from noon to 3 the day Jesus was crucified, and the words of Jesus from the cross. Matthew may not have been an eyewitness to this occurrence, since he was in hiding that weekend, but he considers the stories reliable enough to write down. It was symbolic on many levels, but that doesn't present it from having really happened. It gives evidence that Jesus' resurrection has the power to raise all his saints, as he promised, that He is the firstfruits of those who are "asleep," and it's true that people who died in the Lord will be raised to new life. This was just a tiny glimpse of all that was promised, even to verify that it was all true.
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Re: The Reliability of the Gospels

Postby Turnkey » Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:40 pm

Tell me how you know the intent of these anonymous writers.
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Re: The Reliability of the Gospels

Postby jimwalton » Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:53 pm

First of all, I don't consider them to be anonymous. I think the argument for the traditional conclusion (Mt, Mk, Lk, & Jn) is substantial enough to warrant that conclusion. While it's not as strong as one might hope, I think there is enough evidence to consider the works as authored by known authors.

Secondly, intent is determined by a critical reading of the text. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine the intent of the writings of David Duke, or of Karl Marx, or Hillary Clinton. Luke was explicit about his intent (Lk. 1.1-4), as was John (Jn. 20.31). Luke is known as a historian because of the reliability of his historiography. John's attention to small details, even times of day and names, shows that he intends to write historiography. Mark is a little trickier, but themes and patterns emerge in the course of the book. He still makes many references to historical people and events, marking out times and places, and especially of the final week of Jesus' life. There is no mythological tenor to Matthew. He writes about persons and places, events and emphases, also letting us know he is intent on writing an account of what actually happened.
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Re: The Reliability of the Gospels

Postby Turnkey » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:56 pm

Are you sure that you don't consider them to be anonymous writers because of your bias rather than everything you just written? Because anytime a sources challenged people will come up with all types of creative ways to to justify believing in them anyway... This seems like the same exact situation.

No you don't know who they. Their names. When they lived. When they died. Their motivations. Their influences. And whether or not they were mentally sound.

None of this matters because you have your own way of looking at it... Tell me why your view deserves any credibility to non-christians?
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