Board index Specific Bible verses, texts, and passages 1 Corinthians

Re: 1 Corinthians 11:23 - Paul faked his dream

Postby Cicero » Sun Apr 22, 2018 4:25 pm

> In my opinion, what gives the works of the Church Fathers any authority is their relationships with the apostles themselves.

Except that there’s no good evidence for this. The claims you cite are so typical of the human tendency to seek links and connections in the scanty information we have that they can in my view be safely dismissed as secondary inventions. If we find jewels at the site of Troy, obviously they belonged to Priamus. If we find a golden mask from Mycenaean Greece, whose mask could it possibly have been but Agamemnon’s? And if the New Testament doesn’t name the man who fled naked from the garden of Gethsemane, or the little child Jesus took up in his arms, it stands to reason they must have been well-attested people from elsewhere like, respectively, John Mark or Ignatius.

No. Such easily-to-invent traditions need to be rejected unless the evidence for them is superb. The correct answer is clearly that we simply don’t know, and neither did anyone else. Your sources are late (Theodore of Cyrrhus ridiculously so but even Irenaeus is too late to be interesting). As for your claim that Irenaeus was taught by Polycarp, I thought all Irenaeus said on the subject was

> But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true.

Which isn’t much and certainly doesn’t imply he received instruction from him.

> It seems that your point is the historicity of the Judas betrayal, about which we could certainly talk. Maybe it's not so tangential.

My view on the historicity of Judas’ betrayal is one I’m quite willing to debate. However, in our lengthy past debate we failed to agree on certain crucial matters of methodology which, I fear, may well throw a spanner into the works yet again. Still, here goes.

1. The betrayal story displays two very significant contradictions: the way Judas died and the way the field was named. IIRC you don’t think these contradictions are real. Suffice it to say that in other ancient texts no attempt would be made to reconcile contradictions as blatant as these, so I’m going to stick to secular methodology for the moment and go by that assumption: granted that these contradictions are real, that tells us two things about the story. Firstly, that the early Christian community was not sure how Judas died, which, not exactly being a trivial detail, you’d kind of expect them to know if the story was real; and secondly, that the early Christian community was willing to fabricate elements in the story to explain local toponymy. Both of these render the whole tale intensely fishy.

2. The betrayal story is ad hoc. There is no immediately obvious reason why the Jewish leaders would need a close follower to identify a popular preacher. Not a knock-down argument, but a sound cumulative argument taken in combination with the others.

3. The betrayal story too conveniently fulfils the “30 pieces of silver” prophecy. We know from elsewhere that the early Christians were prepared to make stuff up to get Jesus to fulfil prophecies, as with the Nazarene prophecy at the end of Matthew 2 (again, you may not agree with that but bear with me for a cumulative case), so the convenience of the Judas story in this regard decreases the likelihood that it is true.

4. The betrayal story assumes that the rest of the passion narrative is accurate. I see no reason to assume any Jewish involvement at all in Jesus’ death. The more parsimonious explanation is that the Romans executed him in their customary knee-jerk reaction to potential trouble-makers in ancient Palestine. This makes the Judas story redundant.

Alone these arguments can be questioned, but the combination I regard as very powerful.

All this is why, IMO, the Pauline evidence really matters. A reference to the betrayal by Paul would require a substantial revision to my current view of early Christianity.

> So I'm trying to get your point. Help me to understand. To what does ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ ᾗ παρεδίδετο (on the night he was παρεδίδετο) refer, the night when bread was broken and wine was drank (drunk? drunken?) after supper?

I’d say “drunk”, but that may be BrE : )

Why does παρεδίδετο have to mean handed over by human agency? Why not by God for the substitutionary atonement he was about to undertake? (Sorry for the vague references, my knowledge of Paul’s view on Atonement is sketchy, I have the bad habit of skipping the boring theology bits)

> what does "the holy vine of Thy son David" mean? (Didache 9)

I assume the imagery is comparable to that in John 15. It would refer to the unity of the Church, which fits with the rest of the text.

> how was this "vine" made known through Jesus?

Risky to speculate without further knowledge of the Didache’s theology, but I doubt if it’s the Atonement. There’s no reason to make the references to a specific historical context so oblique. This would only serve to highlight the absence of any real references.

If I could speculate I’d say it had something to do with the eschatological Kingdom of God being revealed through Jesus.

> how was the broken bread made known through Jesus?

It doesn’t say that at all, which again, kind of highlights the absence of references to Jesus' death.
Cicero
 

Re: 1 Corinthians 11:23 - Paul faked his dream

Postby jimwalton » Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:33 pm

WOW, this is a blast from the past! It's been almost 3 months!! HA! I'm glad to still converse, but you'll have to forgive me if I (1) repeat some things, (2) forget some things, (3) don't understand the context of some things. Upward and onward.

> "Church fathers relationship to the apostles" Except that there’s no good evidence for this. The claims you cite are so typical of the human tendency to seek links and connections in the scanty information we have that they can in my view be safely dismissed as secondary inventions.

I know the evidence is scanty, but (1) it's there, (2) there is no evidence to the contrary, and (3) it's all we have.

"According to Irenaeus, Clement of Rome had seen and conversed with the apostles." "...and Paul."

- Irenaeus, Against Heresies book 3, chapter 3 v. 3: "To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric."
- Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., book 5, chapter 6): "He was succeeded by Anencletus, and after him Clement held the episcopate, the third from the apostles."
- Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics chapter 32: "which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter."
- Jerome (Illustrious Men, 15): "Clement, of whom the apostle Paul writing to the Philippians says With Clement and others of my fellow-workers whose names are written in the book of life, the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter, if indeed the second was Linus and the third Anacletus, although most of the Latins think that Clement was second after the apostle."
- Origen (Commentaries on John VI.36): "That this was the case the faithful Clement assumes, on the faith of the narratives, to whom Paul bears witness when he says, Philippians 4:3..."

So I don't understand why this is "human tendency to seek links and connections." This is the historical record, such as we have. This possible relationship just can't be ignored or brushed off.

> The betrayal story displays two very significant contradictions: the way Judas died and the way the field was named.

This is no contradiction at all. It was a very common ancient literary motif to describe the death of the wicked in gruesome details (cf. Acts 12.21-23). These were literary conventions to speak of the wickedness of the person, not the details of his death.

1\. Papias describes Judas's death: "His genitals of indecency were more disgusting and yet too small to be seen. There oozed out from his whole bursting body both fluids and worms. After much suffering and agony, it is said that he died in his own place."

2\. 2 Maccabees 9.5-7, 9-10, 28 describe the death of Antiochus Epiphanes as follows: "But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him with an incurable and invincible blow. As soon as he stopped speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels, for which there was no relief, and with sharp internal tortures—and that very justly, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many strange inflictions. Yet he did not in anyway stop his insolence, but was filled even more with arrogance, breathing fire in his rage against the Jews, and giving orders to drive even faster. And so it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along, and the fall was so hard as to torture every limb of his body…and so the ungodly man's body swarmed with worms, and while he was still living in anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away, and because of the stench the whole army felt revulsion at his decay.... so the murderer and blasphemer, having endured the more intense suffering, such as he had inflicted on others, came to the end of his life by a most pitiable fate, among the mountains in a strange land."

3\. King Joram (2 Chr. 21.18-19): "And after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. In the course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony."

4\. When a friend of hated Tiberius Graccus died, it is said that his "dead body burst open and a great quantity of corrupt humours gushed forth, so that the flame of the funeral pyre was extinguished." (Plutarch, The Life of Tiberius Graccus, section 13).

Therefore, Judas died by hanging as described in the Gospel of Matthew. The book of Acts is merely recording his death in such a way as to describe his wickedness and the judgment of the Lord upon it. Acts is not intended to describe the method of his death.

> The betrayal story is ad hoc. There is no immediately obvious reason...

According to Mt. 26.14-15; Mk. 14.10-11; Lk. 22.4-5, it was Judas's initiative. It's very possible that the leaders didn't need a close follower to do the dirty deed done dirt cheap, but his initiative made it even easier for them. Mt. 26.5 implies the arrest might be tricky because of (1) Jesus's popularity, and (2) it was the Feast week, and a riot would be most unfortunate. I'm not sure your argument is so solid and cumulative.

> 30 pieces of silver

The amount could easily make sense and not be a contrived fulfillment. 30 pieces of silver was an average common going price for a slave. That's what you paid when you wanted to buy a person. There's nothing particularly phony about it. It was equal to about 4 months' wages (in our day roughly $12,000)—not an amount to be casually disregarded.

> I see no reason to assume any Jewish involvement at all in Jesus’ death.

He jeopardized their security (they didn't want Rome to feel threatened), he was considered to be blaspheming (the ultimate Jewish crime), he undermined their authority and status with the population, he was considered competition (Jn. 12.11), and they considered him to be compromising the Jewish religious system and therefore their whole way of life.

I am Facebook friends with a group of Messianic Jews in Israel. They report that they regularly receive death threats from the Orthodox community around them. And so around and around it goes.

> Why does παρεδίδετο have to mean handed over by human agency?

The word mostly has physical connotations (especially with the addition "into his hands"), but it does have theological uses (1 Cor. 5.5; 1 Tim. 1.20; Rom. 1.24ff., et al.). Given the insistence by the Gospel writers, the apostles, and Paul that the death of Jesus, burial, and resurrection were physical and historical (and not just metaphorical, mystical, or theological), it would be more than odd that the παρεδίδετο was a metaphor of the atonement.

We have to assess the intent of the authors, Paul in particular, since that is your main concern. In 1 Corinthians, the physical resurrection of Christ is a main assertion of Paul's, and it governs the entire book. In chapter 15 we read one of the most sustained treatments by Paul of any topic. It climaxes his references to the resurrection throughout the entire letter, suggesting that it was a key to everything else he was saying and possibly even the unifying theme of the letter.

Analyzing Paul's argument through the book and chapter 15 in particular, there is simply no good evidence for belief in a non-physical resurrection in anything Paul wrote. If you want to make the "turning over" about substitutionary atonement (SA), you'd have to (1) find where that is how Paul speaks of SA, (2) explain how that fits with Paul's general argument in chapter 11, and (3) be able to justify that here in specific it accomplishes Paul's complaint against the Corinthians.

As I mentioned previously, Paul is first speaking of information received and transmitted (passed on). Then he speaks of a man (Jesus) received and passed on.

If we use the argument of Occam's Razor, you're trying pretty hard to distance yourself from what seems to be the obvious, physical, historical way to take the text—the simpler one is usually the better choice. When Paul is working so hard to establish Jesus's physical death and resurrection with the people, why would he suddenly divert to theology? 1 Corinthians is not a heavy theological book (like Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians). It is a divided, sinful church, and Paul is urging on them the message of Christ's cross and resurrection. Chapters 5-14 is a series of ethical issues that need Jesus. The godly way through life is to identify with Christ in his death and resurrection.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: 1 Corinthians 11:23 - Paul faked his dream

Postby Cicero » Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:14 am

> I know the evidence is scanty, but (1) it's there, (2) there is no evidence to the contrary, and (3) it's all we have.

3) is patently false, 2) is precisely what is at stake, and since the Church Fathers get pretty much everything wrong that we can check, it is my view that even 1) alone would be moot. There are cases when a legend is easy to identify as such even in the absence of contrary information. I would wager my front teeth that the story of Romulus killing Remus for jumping over the walls of the newly founded Rome is completely unhistorical, even if that were the only story around.

If we are talking about something that may or may not be historical and 1) the source is prone to get this kind of thing wrong and 2) there is an obvious reason to get this particular thing wrong, I would apply a standard of guilty until proven innocent.

But okay, let’s grant that if 1, 2 and 3 were true, it would be reasonable to provisionally accept the accuracy of the official Church account. Any internal evidence would, however, trump the statement of the Church Fathers. I believe such internal evidence exists (e.g. the widespread claim that Matthew was written before Mark). So you have more work to do than simply to show that the Church Fathers believed something: you need to give some reason why broadly unreliable sources which are not necessarily in a better position than us to know anything at all about these issues should be trusted over plausible internal indications of wrongness.
So I don't understand why this is "human tendency to seek links and connections." This is the historical record, such as we have. This possible relationship just can't be ignored or brushed off.

Just like myths involving gruesome deaths or eclipses appearing at the death of an important person, we can be confident that such stories are false not because there is contrary evidence but because they involve storylines that there seems to be a compulsive tendency to make up. Any early Church Father is going to be brought into connection with the apostles by later Fathers. This course is inevitable. Therefore the evidential value of such claims is pretty much zero unless there is some reason to believe the people who make the claim know what they’re talking about.

Clement is probably the soundest of the examples you cited. Look how dismal the situation is even there. Most of your sources are late and give no fewer than four different, incompatible versions of the position of Clement in the Roman apostolic succession. And even if they preserve a historical kernel of knowledge about the early Roman Church (which even the contradictions alone might well lead one to question) that does not prove that the epistle is attributed to Clement. There are internal indications that it might well not be. And even if the epistle is correctly attributed to Clement, it has almost no interesting information, so it would be one isolated example which can scarcely be extrapolated to other documents.

Finally: this thread began with the Didache. You argued that the importance of a document could be gauged based on the Church Father’s response to it. That’s way beyond “accepting the historical record as it stands.” That’s actually trusting these guys, and that frankly flabbergasts me. At least you need to admit that the evidential value of their claims is poor.

> It was a very common ancient literary motif to describe the death of the wicked in gruesome details (cf. Acts 12.21-23). These were literary conventions to speak of the wickedness of the person, not the details of his death.

I don’t question that these things are literary motifs but I strongly dispute your implication that they were not meant literally. You provide no evidence for this claim, and it seems to me considerably more likely and infinitely more parsimonious that a consistent pattern of gruesome deaths implies a common fictitious motif, rather than a common symbolic motif with a conventionalised factual meaning which is nowhere mentioned.

Plutarch’s account is very clearly meant literally: "they ran in throngs to the man's funeral, crying out that he had been poisoned to death, and they carried the bier themselves, and stood by at the last ceremonies. And their suspicions of poison were thought to be not without reason. [5] For the dead body burst open and a great quantity of corrupt humours gushed forth, so that the flame of the funeral pyre was extinguished. And when fresh fire was brought, again the body would not burn, ..."

Similarly, Acts is explicitly explaining the historical circumstance which has lead to them having to play the Holy Spirit dice game. Judas’ death is pivotal to Peter’s account. You essentially need to argue Peter wasn’t telling the story of Judas’ death at all.
A further argument is that the deaths get more gruesome depending on the reliability of the source. Papias is a tabloid Church Father, who places in Jesus’ mouth extravagant promises quite foreign to the more restrained tone of the Gospels. The fact that his death “motif” is correspondingly more grotesque is exactly what you’d expect if the death stories were elaborate myth or fiction.

What’s worse, you’re quote-mining Papias. I forget the exact story and can't find it on Early Christian Writings.com but I know from memory that Papias’ account is significantly longer and involves a much more convoluted disease description. If such a trope existed, Papias is so massively overdoing it that at least he can fairly be convicted either of dishonesty or of relying on a unreliable source, making him a very bad argument for your view.

Which leads me to my not inconsiderable methodological objections to your argument. It is unfalsifiable. There is no case of “typical myth” which cannot be dismissed as historical when you allow the assumption of a coded convention for which there is no explicit indication or metareflection anywhere in the ancient literature. Everything indicates that you’re wrong. A gruesome death was indeed a common fictitious trope (like having an ominous eclipse appear when someone dies) which we can be confident is false but was nevertheless meant seriously.

And why do you believe Matthew’s hanging but not Acts’ gushing intestines?

You don’t address the other contradiction, either. Whether the Field of Blood was so called because Judas killed himself there or because it was bought by money from betrayal is not a trivial difference. Outside of highly contrived scenarios they cannot both be true, indicating that in at least one case the early Christians made up a story out of thin air.

> "The betrayal story is ad hoc. There is no immediately obvious reason..." I'm not sure your argument is so solid and cumulative.

A little bird told me you wouldn’t be : ) , but on this point you don’t really hurt it much. Your response is pretty non-specific, particularly considering the amount of money which, by your account, the Jewish authorities spent on an unusually pointless mole. In so far as the reason for a betrayal does not spring naturally from the course of the narrative I think I may continue to insist that the prior probability of this argument is stacked in my favour.

> The amount could easily make sense and not be a contrived fulfillment.

I didn’t say it was contrived. It’s just a big coincidence that it fits so nicely into the Christian expectations and isn’t really that important for the plot. Ockham’s razor hangs over it like the sword of Damocles.

> I see no reason to assume any Jewish involvement at all in Jesus’ death.

Contrary to the implication of your response to this statement, I have no problem seeing why the Jewish authorities might have had reason to want to execute Jesus. My argument is that I see no reason to assume they were in fact involved when he actually was executed.

We know for a fact that the Romans were involved (in so far as nobody disputes the crucifixion). To have both the Romans and the Jewish leaders involved in his death creates a much more contrived and unrealistic story. Assuming that the Gospels are wrong to imply that Pilate could be pressured into compliance by a crowd (particularly a crowd which seems to have been generally friendly to the Galilean sage) we need to assume that both the Romans and the Jews independently make the decision to kill Jesus around the same time for different reasons. This stretches my credulity.
Cicero
 

Re: 1 Corinthians 11:23 - Paul faked his dream

Postby jimwalton » Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:15 am

> 3) is patently false

There isn't enough evidence from this era to satisfy our desire to know. Much of what we know from early church history has been lost, except what Eusebius records for us. Many of the writings of the church Fathers are simply gone to history, though some exist. We obviously have other writings (such as Josephus, Suetonius, et al), but the field is scant.

> since the Church Fathers get pretty much everything wrong that we can check

This is patently false. While we can identify some inaccuracies in what they have written, to claim that "they get pretty much everything wrong" is hyperbolic to the point of being easily refutable. Much of what they say is based on the New Testament, which we can't prove true or false, or it's theological, which can't be proved true or false. You simply cannot make this claim with credibility.

> There are cases when a legend is easy to identify as such even in the absence of contrary information. I would wager my front teeth that the story of Romulus killing Remus for jumping over the walls of the newly founded Rome is completely unhistorical, even if that were the only story around.

Sure, sometimes legend is easy to identify. I find that items in the Gospels are often attributed to legend on the basis of a priori prejudice and bias, without being objectively considered.

> the widespread claim that Matthew was written before Mark

Even now we don't know the order of writing of the Gospels, their date of writing, or the authors. While our modern scholars have deduced Markan priority, we really can't prove that the Church Fathers are incorrect in their judgment.

> there seems to be a compulsive tendency

"Seems" to be a "tendency" isn't what I'd call a strong argument to support your thesis, along with being speculative and overly subjective.

> Most of your sources are late and give no fewer than four different, incompatible versions

Since you seem to think that it's "patently false" that the Church Fathers is all we have to speak to the subjects at hand, possibly you can present what else we have that speaks to the issue. And if "it's there" is moot, then on what ground are you drawing your conclusions about the unreliability of this account?

> You provide no evidence for this claim (about the bowels of Judas)

Interesting. You blew off the records of 5 church fathers, and now you blow off the records of Papias, Maccabees, the Bible, and Plutarch. I'm not sure what you consider to be "evidence." In the ancient world we mostly have 1 record of most things. We're lucky to have 1 record. Occasionally we are blessed with more. Here I give you a list and it's not good enough for you.

> it seems to me considerably more likely

"Seems" and "likely" isn't what I'd call a strong argument to support your thesis, along with being speculative and overly subjective. Where's your rebuttal evidence?

> Plutarch’s account is very clearly meant literally

A funeral pyre undergirds and surrounds the body. Fires are lit in circumference. You're telling me that a man's intestines exploded with such pervasiveness that the entire circumference was soaked with a thoroughness that both extinguished all flames around the perimeter and precluded re-ignition? That, my friend, is untenable.

> And why do you believe Matthew’s hanging but not Acts’ gushing intestines?

Because Matthew presents his Gospel account as historical, and Luke, in this Acts account, is using a literary motif.

> (the 30 pieces of silver) I didn’t say it was contrived.

I took your "too conveniently fulfils" as implying fabricated to fit a motif.

> My argument is that I see no reason to assume they were in fact involved when he actually was executed.

Because Rome would not have acted against Jesus without Jewish pressure. Even with Jewish pressure, the Gospels write that Pilate was reluctant to participate.

> Assuming that the Gospels are wrong to imply that Pilate could be pressured into compliance by a crowd

And why do you assume they are wrong? Pilate succumbed to the pressure because an appointment to a post in Judea and Samaria was not entirely an honor for a Roman governor. This was near the eastern end of the empire in a province filled with residents with a reputation for rebellion. Pilate was caught between a rock and a hard place. He had to keep the Roman emperor, Tiberius, convinced that he had everything under control and that the Israelites were loyal to Rome. But he could not rule so oppressively that the Jewish leaders would start a revolt or send an embassy to Rome requesting Pilate's replacement as they had successfully done in the days of Archelaus. So the sacrifice of a would-be king, however misguided, was a small price to pay for peace in Judea.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: 1 Corinthians 11:23 - Paul faked his dream

Postby Cicero » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:12 pm

> Much of what they say is based on the New Testament, which we can't prove true or false, or it's theological, which can't be proved true or false. You simply cannot make this claim with credibility.

Let me repeat my point with the requisite emphasis, which you seemed to have missed: the Church Fathers get pretty much everything wrong that we can check. Through internal evidence, I mean. (In fact, in modern textual criticism, when the Church Fathers express a preference for a reading this is often considered a good reason to reject it.)

> I find that items in the Gospels are often attributed to legend on the basis of a priori prejudice and bias, without being objectively considered.

Other than the fact that I hold to methodological naturalism, this is a fair point, which I will concede for the purposes of debate.

> While our modern scholars have deduced Markan priority, we really can't prove that the Church Fathers are incorrect in their judgment.

This is handwaving. Do you actually mean to dispute Markan priority? In that case I’m eager to debate it :)

> "Seems" to be a "tendency" isn't what I'd call a strong argument to support your thesis, along with being speculative and overly subjective.

Hey, it’s a speculative field. I don’t see why you’re faulting me for this.

>now you blow off the records of Papias, Maccabees, the Bible, and Plutarch. I'm not sure what you consider to be "evidence."

This is very unfair. Not only did I not “blow off” these sources, I argued in some depth that they don’t record what you say they do and you have not responded to any of my arguments on that point. Just because I don’t agree with your idea of a literary motif for which even you must grant there is exactly zero evidence (in the form of explicit meta-reflection) anywhere in our sources doesn’t mean I’m not taking the texts seriously.

> You're telling me that a man's intestines exploded with such pervasiveness that the entire circumference was soaked with a thoroughness that both extinguished all flames around the perimeter and precluded re-ignition?

Do I believe the story? No. Am I going to believe that Plutarch made up this elaborate scene without meaning it seriously? Also no.
Plutarch records implausible stories all over the place. You can’t make up literary motifs for every one of these.

> So the sacrifice of a would-be king, however misguided, was a small price to pay for peace in Judea.

Do you really think this solves the problem? By your account, a Roman province with a documented tendency to be extremely harsh to aspiring Messiahs anyway was persuaded on by a crowd usually friendly to Jesus which was rioting just because, to kill him for unrelated reasons?
Cicero
 

Re: 1 Corinthians 11:23 - Paul faked his dream

Postby jimwalton » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:24 pm

> the Church Fathers get pretty much everything wrong that we can check.

This is an extremely broad statement that is quite doubtful to be true. This would take a lot of reading for me to check. For instance, I just re-read (very quickly) the Epistle of Barnabas. It's almost all words of encouragement, theology, and the like. There's nothing historical in it to check. He did mention in 4.5 that Daniel wrote "...", and that's true—it's in Daniel. In 4.7 he quotes Scripture about Moses, which is indeed in the Scripture. But there's nothing in here to confirm or verify. It's just not that kind of writing. I checked out Clement's 1st Epistle to the Corinthians. It's about Scripture, theology, humility, Jesus's second coming, etc.

So I don't really know what you're talking about. I obviously can't just read all of the Church Fathers to see.

> This is handwaving. Do you actually mean to dispute Markan priority? In that case I’m eager to debate it :)

Markan priority is widely accepted, but there are some holdouts, and I've heard rumors of a growing movement to reexamine and reconsider it. I have no vested interest in it and have not researched it well (barely at all), so I'm not interested in a debate in the matter. I'm just noticing some chinks in the armor. Only time will tell.

My point is more that we really can't prove the Church Fathers to be wrong. All we can say is that Markan priority is our considered and scholarly assessment.

> Papias

Nothing is known of his life, and none of his writings have survived intact. The text I referenced comes to us from Apollinaris of Laodicea, and there are two versions of it. That Papias may be massively overdoing it is exactly the point. It was the figurative mechanism of reporting how reprehensible his deed was. He is probably neither lying nor quoting an unreliable source, but mounting grotesqueness upon ickiness to drive his point home. It was a literary mechanism, as we might say something like "You no good, good for nothing, dirty, rotten, jerk, lousy scoundrel!"

> Plutarch

I did respond to this. His account doesn't sound literal/historical at all. One man's guts don't extinguish a fire encircling a corpse. We don't have that much entrails, and fluids in an explosion don't distribute evenly. Plutarch is hyperbolizing.

> Maccabees and King Joram

Maccabees and the Bible evidence the same literary motifs. The infested bowels and explosive fluids are used to describe Antiochus Epiphanes—the antichrist to the Maccabeans. The same with the godless King Joram.

> By your account, a Roman province with a documented tendency to be extremely harsh to aspiring Messiahs anyway was persuaded on by a crowd usually friendly to Jesus which was rioting just because, to kill him for unrelated reasons?

Rome executed some would-be Messiahs if they were a threat to political stability, but by and large ignored them. Certain segments of the Jewish populations would follow each one, as we find with Jesus. You're right that the crowd was usually friendly to Jesus, and they had welcomed him with royal shouts on Palm Sunday. But once he is arrested, it's obvious he's not going to deliver them from Rome, and so they turn on him with a combination of apathy (from most) and vengeance by the activists. It was the Jewish leaders who prompted the motion; remember they had to pull it over carefully because the crowds were still favoring Jesus. As far as Pilate, Herod’s son Archelaus had succeeded him as the ruler of Judea, as reported by Josephus. Josephus also recorded that Archelaus reigned over Judea and Samaria for 10 years, and that in his 10th year, due to complaints against him from both Jews and Samaritans, he was deposed by Caesar Augustus and banished to Vienna. This had happened in AD 6, just 20 years prior to Jesus's trial.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: 1 Corinthians 11:23 - Paul faked his dream

Postby Cicero » Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:13 pm

> For instance, I just re-read (very quickly) the Epistle of Barnabas. It's almost all words of encouragement, theology, and the like. There's nothing historical in it to check.

Yeah, Barnabas is boring. Except the bit about weasels and oral sex, that’s just brilliant. One of the few laugh-out-loud funny moments the Apostolic Fathers have to offer.

But to return to the point at hand, if we can’t check it, my point doesn’t apply. At best your argument here is that falsifiable claims in the works of the Church Fathers are rare, which is true. But they are by no means non-existent.

Just a few examples from memory, all of them from reputable sources, plus my own evaluation of the likelihood that they’re true.

    Matthew was written in Hebrew (definitely untrue)
    Matthew was written before Mark (definitely untrue)
    Matthew was an eyewitness (almost definitely untrue)
    This text-critical reading is better than this text-critical reading (numerous times, usually untrue)
    There were Roman records of a darkness covering the known world (almost definitely untrue)
    The Romans recorded Jesus’ name at his birth (just f***ing ridiculous)
    The legio fulminata was so called because of a Christian rain miracle (demonstrably untrue)
    Tiberius became a Christian (almost definitely untrue)
    Pilate sent an account of Jesus death to Tiberius (untrue, the letter is a forgery)
    Marcus Aurelius was friendly to Christians (untrue, again based on a forged letter)

and so on and so forth. These people get stuff wrong, even the best of them, even those living when there were eyewitnesses around and their claims were easy to check. This is indicative of poor communication and a high reliance on word-of-mouth which almost certainly undermines claims we cannot check as well.

For the Clement story, you have a few sources which contradict each other on where he stands in the apostolic succession. I suspect this is based on vague oral transmission too, and that the association with the probably-late letter is secondary. Reason enough, I think, to dismiss any claim based on this assumption if it is not in line with the (much stronger) internal evidence.

Just to be clear, I have the greatest sympathy with historical maximalism. When even a single, poor-quality text makes a plausible claim and we have no reason to believe that claim is false, I share your instinct to assume it is true. That is why, for instance, I reject Jesus mythicism, as it is based on demanding a simply ridiculous burden of proof for an eminently plausible claim.

My argument is not some arbitrary request for “more evidence”. My argument is that what you’re doing here is not historical maximalism.

You’re not accepting claims in absence of better evidence. You’re focusing on specific, poorer sources of evidence over others. Historical maximalism must always mean “informational maximalism” and that includes (for instance) our knowledge of the patterns whereby myth, fiction and story-telling happens.

> My point is more that we really can't prove the Church Fathers to be wrong. All we can say is that Markan priority is our considered and scholarly assessment.

With respect, still handwaving. If you don’t wish to argue this view you can’t expect me to concede the point. I regard the evidence for Markan priority as very strong, certainly by the normally speculative standards of this field: if even this kind of evidence is insufficient we might as well abandon the enterprise. You seem by your own admission to have no real argument that Church Fathers are reliable other than absence of evidence to the contrary, which in this case doesn’t apply.

> I did respond to this. His account doesn't sound literal/historical at all.

How you determine that? By what methodological principle do you decide that it doesn’t "sound" literal? For any given implausible story – say Plutarch’s story of the ram with one horn in his life of Pericles – how do you distinguish between a literary motif and an implausible fiction?

> I don't at all consider the mention of Judas's betrayal an "unexpected hypothesis." If Judas did, in fact, betray Jesus, it's an historical reference quite accurately fitting with Paul's point.

I meant textually unexpected, in the sense of “not anticipated.”

> This is a great point, and given that perspective, what is it you are trying to work out? Where's the discussion?

The argument I’m making is 1) there’s no real reason to believe Paul corroborates the betrayal story and 2) the Didache eucharist is more primitive. Both of these hypotheses would be falsified by a reference to a historical betrayal.

> Rome executed some would-be Messiahs if they were a threat to political stability, but by and large ignored them.

Can you give an example of a Messiah they ignored? The example I have in mind is Theudas: a band of unarmed men travelling towards the desert is scarcely a “threat to political stability.” The Romans were clearly not taking any chances.

There’s not much point arguing your scenario further. If the text explicitly reflected on the intricacy of the situation (as one would expect it to) I might grant its merits, but it doesn’t. Your only reason for recounting the story is to artificially make sense of an incoherent narrative, so I must continue to regard it as convoluted and implausible.
Cicero
 

Re: 1 Corinthians 11:23 - Paul faked his dream

Postby jimwalton » Thu May 17, 2018 11:23 pm

> Matthew was written in Hebrew (definitely untrue)

How do you know for certain that Matthew didn't write down the five large blocks of teaching that are fairly unique (not completely exclusively) to his book (the Logia), which were later translated to Greek for the final edition? How do you know?

> Matthew was written before Mark (definitely untrue)

Scholars speculate about Q. Of course, we have no record ofd Q, no mention of Q, and no discovery of Q, but is it possible that it exists and that Matthew took part in the writing of it? After all, he was an apostle, and he lived in Jerusalem along with Peter and Mark. Could this be to what the church fathers were referring? Can you prove it or guarantee it?

> Matthew was an eyewitness (almost definitely untrue)

Ooh, I think the case is rather substantial that Matthew wrote Matthew. I think it's stronger than the case against Matthean authorship. Can't go with you on this one. The first two are just possibilities, but this one is a matter of much more substance.

> This text-critical reading is better than this text-critical reading (numerous times, usually untrue)

Too general to comment on.

> There were Roman records of a darkness covering the known world (almost definitely untrue)

I'm unfamiliar with this

> The Romans recorded Jesus’ name at his birth

Well, we certainly have no record of such. Tertullian was the son of a Roman centurion, however, and there is some evidence that he was a lawyer, so it's possible he knew something we don't, or had seen some census documents we no longer have. If Jesus's family was involved in the Roman Census of Luke 2, who knows if such a thing is true. Wait, can you guarantee that it wasn't, or is yours an argument from silence or opinion?

> The legio fulminata was so called because of a Christian rain miracle (demonstrably untrue)

Nothing about this sounds realistic.

> Tiberius became a Christian

Eusebius doesn't claim Tiberius became a Christian, but only that he "formed no unreasonable projects against the doctrine of Christ," presumably meaning that he didn't actively persecute Christians. Tiberius died in AD 37, barely 8 years after Jesus's resurrection, and still 2 decades before Paul gets to Rome. How do you know this isn't true?

> Pilate sent an account of Jesus death to Tiberius

The letter we have is a forgery. Was there a real one? If not, how do you know this?

> Marcus Aurelius was friendly to Christians

In Frank McLynn's biography of MA, he says that the degree to which MA directed, encouraged, or was aware of the persecution of Christians is unclear and much debated by historians.

> These people get stuff wrong

Maybe, just maybe, they're not as wrong as you suppose.

> Plutarch. By what methodological principle do you decide that it doesn’t “sound” literal?

Because everything about it sounds hyperbolic and symbolic, as I explained. It's not physically practical to believe that a man's bowels exploded on the pyre and extinguished an encircling fire, first of all, and that it soaked the whole circumference sufficiently to prevent relighting is profoundly implausible.

Tiberius Gracchus was not a popular emperor, and was murdered by his own senate. He was beaten to death with clubs. If Plutarch was making a statement about his evilness (which is my contention), we should find some corroboration somewhere.

First, the corpses of the supporters of Tiberius were thrown into the Tiber River, a fate reserved for enemies of the state. Helene Guerber, Roman historian (in "The Story of the Romans), along with J. Linderski (in "The Pontiff and the Tribune: The Death of Tiberius") say that the body of Tiberius Gracchus was thrown into the Tiber River (not burned on a pyre) as a way to disgrace him. It seems that Plutarch's version is literary.

> The argument I’m making is 1) there’s no real reason to believe Paul corroborates the betrayal story

If Paul knew James and Peter, and if Paul travelled with Luke, who had researched and written his Gospel, there is plausible reason to believe Paul corroborates the betrayal story.

>the Didache eucharist is more primitive.

Paul wrote in the late 50s and early 60s; Luke wrote in the early 60s. How is the Didache (AD 100?) eucharist more primitive?

> Can you give an example of a Messiah they ignored?

There was no shortage of messianic claimants in the 1st century. There is no record that Rome executed all of them, or even many of them, but just the ones deemed dangerous to the State.


> There’s not much point arguing your scenario further. If the text explicitly reflected on the intricacy of the situation (as one would expect it to) I might grant its merits, but it doesn’t. Your only reason for recounting the story is to artificially make sense of an incoherent narrative, so I must continue to regard it as convoluted and implausible.

You really haven't proved your case beyond a reasonable doubt, but I have. The weight of evidence is in my favor, and I certainly am nowhere near conceding.


Last bumped by Anonymous on Thu May 17, 2018 11:23 pm.
jimwalton
Site Admin
 
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Previous

Return to 1 Corinthians

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


cron