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The resurrection of Christ is the fulcrum of everything we believe, and a turning point in history, no matter what you believe. If it's real, the implications are immense. If it didn't happen, the implications are immense. Let's talk.

Re: In what sense could the disciples "know"?

Postby Pree » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:00 pm

Some reasons to think Luke isn’t completely reliable:

1) the Quirinius reference you mentioned earlier

2) the nativity accounts are viewed by most scholars as non-historical

3) Luke’s account of Paul in Acts is inconsistent with Paul’s own account of himself in his letters

And specifically regarding the account of the disciples eating with Jesus, Luke has Jesus appearing to his disciples in a room in Jerusalem. This, however, is inconsistent with our earliest gospels (Matthew and Mark) that say Jesus appeared on a mountain in Galilee.

> Ah, your statement was "As you can see, there’s an obvious progression from NO appearances to ONE appearance to TWO appearances to FOUR appearances." That is what is patently false,

I was referring ONLY to the gospels. Yes, there were claims of appearances from the very start. But once we get to the gospels, we see them building on one another. Mark tells his story. Then Matthew copies Mark and adds his own information. Then Luke copies Mark AND Matthew (or Q) and adds his own information. By the time we get to John we have an amalgamation of stories that have been told, re-told, and changed.
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Re: In what sense could the disciples "know"?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:54 pm

> Quirinius

The Quirinius pericope is not so straight forward.

We know Quirinius was a governor of Syria, but Luke uses the term hegemon, not governor. What position did he fill before he was governor of Syria? According to Tacitus, he was doing military expeditions in the eastern provinces of the Empire, with some evidence that he was a co-ruler (hegemon) with the then governor of Syria, Quintilius Varus. Is this the position to which Luke refers? Secondly, Luke specifies that this was the FIRST registration, which would indicate there were at least two. The exact idea of "first" (πρώτη) is not certain. Most probably Luke's idea is that there were more than one registration under Quirinius. It is the first of a series. Since we know about the one in AD 6, is this a previous one to which Luke refers? Third, the article doesn't occur with "This was (the first)" in v. 2. This form often pointing to something previous in time. It could possibly indicate the earliest or earlier of the possible references. And if πρώτη means "prior," Luke could even be indicating that this occurred *prior* to when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Fourth, you probably know the verb Luke uses is ἐγένετο, subject to a variety of possible meanings. Perhaps a straightforward alternative translation is warranted: "This census took place before Quirinius was governing Syria."

The text literally says αὕτη ἀπογραφὴ πρώτη ἐγένετο ἡγεμονεύοντος τῆς Συρίας Κυρηνίου· “This census *proete* Quirinius [was] hegemon of Syria.” That's as tight as we can accurately translate it. The text certainly can mean, "This census was the first while Quirinius was governing Syria," but one would normally expect an article before ἀπογραφὴ (census) and again before πρώτη (first; before) if that were Luke’s intention. It could also just as accurately be translated "This census was before [one] when Quirinius was governor." The census in AD 6 under Quirinius was particularly infamous because it provoked the railed rebellion by Judas the Galilean. So it would be natural for a biographer or historian to refer to an earlier census with reference to the later, much better remembered one.

In other words, we just can't cavalierly claim Luke has made a historical mistake.

> the nativity accounts are viewed by most scholars as non-historical

I have been examining the nativity accounts in great detail and have found them to be historically plausible and as reasonably authentic as we can discern two millennia later. I know there are many scholars who work very hard to discredit the Bible, and some who discredit it a priori, but my research leads me to a very different conclusion. Rather than resorting to a fallacy of weak induction by appealing to potentially unqualified authorities, let's speak more specifically about those segments of the nativity account you deem non-historical. That would be a more productive focus for our dialogue.

> Luke’s account of Paul in Acts is inconsistent with Paul’s own account of himself in his letters

A generalization like this doesn't allow me to give rebuttal. With specifics we can discuss. I find consistency between the Lukan accounts in Acts and the Pauline accounts in his own epistles. Let's talk.

> And specifically regarding the account of the disciples eating with Jesus, Luke has Jesus appearing to his disciples in a room in Jerusalem. This, however, is inconsistent with our earliest gospels (Matthew and Mark) that say Jesus appeared on a mountain in Galilee.

Jesus made numerous appearances to the disciples. By way of correction, Mark doesn't have any appearances of Jesus except in the inauthentic addition of Mk. 16.9-20, to which virtually NO ONE gives authority. John records two appearances of Jesus in a room in Jerusalem, as well as on the shore of Galilee. Luke records Jesus appearing to them in an undisclosed room in Jerusalem possibly (but possibly not) on another occasion. Matthew records an appearance several weeks later on a hillside. This is neither a problem nor a contradiction. C'mon. Let's do better than this, eh?

> I was referring ONLY to the gospels.

Well, we can't refer only to the Gospels if we want to know what's going on. That's a fallacy of suppressed evidence: ignoring important pieces of information to skew the conclusion. We have to look at the whole picture. Therefore you are contriving a progression you think you see in the Gospels to make it fit the conclusion you decided before you examined the documentation. That's just circular reasoning.

Second of all, we don't know the exact sequence of the Gospels, so your progression is illegitimate on that level as well. There are four theories of Gospel formation:

1. The two source hypothesis (Q & Mark)
2. The Farrer Hypothesis (there is no Q. Mark first; Matthew used Mark; Luke used Mark and Matthew).
3. The Griesbach Hypothesis (Matthew came first. Luke used Matthew. Mark used Matthew and Luke).
4. The Oral Tradition Hypothesis (Oral instruction was widespread. The Gospels tapped into the oral traditions to write their accounts, hence their similarity.)

In other words, you can't ground your theory in a questionable premise. We just can't be exactly sure how the Gospels rolled out, and your whole foundation is built on a confidence of how it came about. It's a weak foundation, and therefore a difficult to justify conclusion.
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Re: In what sense could the disciples "know"?

Postby Pree » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:22 pm

I honestly don’t have the energy nor interest to respond to all of that. We could debate these issues for days. Instead, I’ll focus my attention on the portion about the disciples’ encounters with Jesus (since that’s the crucial point).

It seems you believe all the accounts can be harmonized. But if this is true, what you’d have to believe is that Jesus appeared to the women, he appeared to Peter, he appeared to 2 men on the road to Emmaus, he appeared to his own disciples TWICE, they saw Thomas put his finger in Jesus’ wounds, they even watched Jesus eat a piece of fish — and yet somehow after all this, some of them still doubted when they saw him in Galilee (Matt 28:17)?
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Re: In what sense could the disciples "know"?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:50 pm

The word doubt has to be interpreted by what precedes it in the sentence, which is they say him, and they worshipped him. It's an intriguing juxtaposition, for sure. The implication is that they all saw (meaning "prolonged scrutiny; inspect to the point of knowing; to perceive the truth"), all were involved in worship, while some had "doubt" on top of that. Their first response was worship, which tells us something.

From there perhaps we have a slightly misleading translation. The word is ἐδίστασαν, from διστάζω: divided thinking. They are thinking two thoughts, but this is not necessarily doubt. The same term is used in Mt. 14.31 when Jesus walked on the water. There they worship also, but they wonder "How can this be?" They're still trying to put together how a human being could walk on the water, but they just saw it with their eyes. Here somebody has come back from the dead—they saw him die—but, sure enough, he is standing right there in front of them as he has before. According to the record, he was not the same as he was before. There was something different about him, and even his closest friends and disciples were struggling for thoughts and words. He allays their fears by stepping into the posture of Moses and giving a new "Sinai" command: Go tell the world!

If we put these all together we can better discern what Matthew is saying. The 11 disciples did what Jesus told them to do: meet him on this mountain. God had often revealed himself on mountains in the Bible, so there is an implication that God will reveal himself here as well. In addition, contextually it was the climax to several previous appearances. They have already seen him, experienced his resurrection, and believe that he has risen from the dead. It has been evidenced to them. They have touched him, seen him eat and drink, and they have listened to him teach.

Now, when they "see" him we are to infer that it is prolonged scrutiny, and examination that leads them to knowing, a perceiving of the truth. Their (as a group) first response is to worship—the first time the disciples are described as doing so (using this term).

Then the writer says, without implying a contrast, that some *distazo*. I think we have to wrench the word right out of context and sensibility to claim that it means they didn't believe, they were not convinced, that they were pouting and doubting, and that later they lied about believing in his resurrection. In contrast, everything about the text and context are leading us in exactly the opposite direction: they are absolutely blown away by his presence. There is a reality about him they can be sure of, but a mystery about him that they are unable to completely penetrate. Instead of a contrast with worship, the *distadzo* is supposed to contribute even more to their conviction.

Jesus confirms it with the authoritative words he speaks, putting himself on a level with God (divine authority and omnipresence) and commissioning them with words of power and life.
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Re: In what sense could the disciples "know"?

Postby Anonymizes » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:37 pm

> Historiography

Yes, we need to be critical of the sources - on that we can agree. I think that criticism rules out the likelihood of the events being accurately represented in the text. And no, the purpose of the text was not historiography - it was religious in nature.

> Quirinius

No. Rome did not conduct censuses on/in client kingdoms. That's one of the points of having client kingdoms rather than provinces - the administration is done by someone else. Furthermore, to conduct a census within a client kingdom would have been a violation of the rights of the king therein.

> Luke writing rhetorically

Evidence: He's trying to get you to believe that a magical man came from heaven died and rose again as some kind of religious revelation. What more evidence do you need?

> Natural plausible explanations

If I may quote Pliny the Elder VII.LII: "The ex-consul Aviola came to life again on the funeral pyre, and as the flame was too powerful for it to be possible to come to his assistance, was burnt alive. A similar cause of death is recorded in the case of the ex-praetor Lucius Lamia, while Gaius Aelius Tuber, a former praetor, is recorded by Messala Rufus and most authorities to have been recovered from the pyre. This is the law of mortals: we are born for these and similar accidents of fortune, so that in the case of a human being no confidence must be placed even in death."

The same example (barring Messala Rufus) plus others are also recorded in Valerius Maximus at the end of book 1, and there's other references to other instances as well if you care to search for them.

This stuff happened. It's still happening today. That's a much more plausible explanation than a magico-religious resurrection.
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Re: In what sense could the disciples "know"?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:08 pm

> I think that criticism rules out the likelihood of the events being accurately represented in the text.

Criticism can tell us important things about text we could not otherwise evaluate, but criticism is not necessarily the appropriate assessor of spiritual visions and miracles. If such things did occur, they are beyond the evaluation of textual criticism, which is generally only telling us about chronology, textual formation, and the like. Form criticism or textual criticism can't tell us about the validity of spiritual experiences.

> And no, the purpose of the text was not historiography - it was religious in nature.

Wait, so you're claiming that historiography about Constantine's vision in the clouds or Joan of Arc's visions are not valid historiography, even though they were pivotal experiences in history?

> No. Rome did not conduct censuses on/in client kingdoms.

What's your source for this claim?

> That's one of the points of having client kingdoms rather than provinces - the administration is done by someone else.

Herod the Great was named "King of Judea" by the Roman senate. His son, Archelaus, reigned after him as ethnarch for 10 years, until AD 6. At that point Judea became a province. Then came Philip the Tetrarch, Herod Antipas, Agrippa, etc. The rulership of Judea didn't change when it became a province of Rome.

> Furthermore, to conduct a census within a client kingdom would have been a violation of the rights of the king therein.

Source?

> He's trying to get you to believe that a magical man came from heaven died and rose again as some kind of religious revelation. What more evidence do you need?

Ok, so that's your bias. It's circular reasoning. You have decided ahead of time that spiritual claims and magical men are fictional accounts, so your conclusion is that there is no such thing as magical men, miracles, and legitimately valid religious experiences. I'm not sure any evidence will dissuade you when your presuppositions preclude metaphysics before the starting gate even opens.

> If I may quote Pliny the Elder VII.LII:

I'm aware of the excerpt. You've made a fallacy of presumption, assuming that one or two examples rules out any legitimate experience to the contrary. "We know of several cases where people are mistaken, therefore we can presume they were mistaken in the case at hand (Jesus's resurrection)." It's not a valid logical progression.

> That's a much more plausible explanation than a magico-religious resurrection.

The conclusion doesn't surprise me coming from a person seemingly closed to considering the possibility of the resurrection. Again, it's presumptive bias and circular reasoning.

Instead, we need to consider the validity of the evidences, the reliability of the source material, the authenticity of the eyewitnesses, and the security of transmission of information. We need all four of those to evaluate the claims objectively.
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Re: In what sense could the disciples "know"?

Postby Pree » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:16 pm

> Then the writer says, without implying a contrast, that some distazo. I think we have to wrench the word right out of context and sensibility to claim that it means they didn't believe, they were not convinced, that they were pouting and doubting, and that later they lied about believing in his resurrection.

I don’t think we have to go that far. I think it’s fair to say that some of them had doubts about what they were seeing in the moment and only later did they believe it was truly the risen Christ.

> Your interpretation doesn’t explain why the author would point out that only some of them were blown away and bewildered rather than all. Why not simply say “they worshipped but doubted”? The word “some” is important here and it’s meant to distinguish the disciples who believed wholeheartedly vs those who had doubts.

I would say that a more accurate translation would be “they worshipped but some had second thoughts.” As you pointed out, it’s the same word used in Matt 14:31. However, in that passage, the word is not used of the disciples in bewilderment. It’s not describing the disciples’ reaction to Jesus walking on water. Rather, it’s describing Peter’s lack of faith when he took steps toward Jesus. Jesus even tells us what he means by “doubt” here. He says “O ye of little faith, why did you doubt.” So you see, this whole thing is about faith. It’s not about being blown away or grappling with some mystery. Peter simply started off in faith and ended in doubt. The text is pretty straightforward about that.

So likewise, just as Peter doubted on his walk toward Jesus, some of the disciples also doubted that they were seeing a physically resurrected Jesus.
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Re: In what sense could the disciples "know"?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:16 pm

> I think it’s fair to say that some of them had doubts about what they were seeing in the moment and only later did they believe it was truly the risen Christ.

This is quite a presumption that I would say the text and the New Testament don't support. The indication of John 20.20ff. is that they all believed, and this was the night of the resurrection itself. Later we read that the one who was not present at that occasion, Thomas, also believed and worshipped (Jn. 20.28-29). We have no reason to think that someone had doubts and only later did they believe it was truly the risen Christ. We have to follow the evidence where it leads, and that's not where it leads.

> Your interpretation doesn’t explain why the author would point out that only some of them were blown away and bewildered rather than all.

I didn't say that only some were blown away. They all worshipped.

> The word “some” is important here and it’s meant to distinguish the disciples who believed wholeheartedly vs those who had doubts.

Only if you translate and interpret distadzo as "doubts" rather than "thinking two thoughts." Dr. Craig Keener speculates that perhaps they are thinking two thoughts because again what is happening "doesn't fit current expectations of the end time: all the dead were to be raised together, not the Messiah first" (in Jewish expectation, nothing in Scripture to that effect). That interpretation could make sense because all through Jesus's ministry they had been misunderstanding things he said and did because their messianic expectation was a different line of thinking.

What bothers me here is that you so quickly and easily want to come to a conclusion of thinking the worst, when the evidences at hand lead us elsewhere. They were all convinced, they all worshipped, and they certainly had had different expectations than what was happening here. But you want to jump to the conclusion that some weren't buying it.

> I would say that a more accurate translation would be “they worshipped but some had second thoughts.”

Well, that's an interesting stab at a translation, but I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that it's "a more accurate" one. Be careful not to presume you know what form their "doubts" took. What we know is

1. They all believed (Jn. 20.20)
2. They all worshipped (Mt. 28.17)
3. They all had different expectations about what would happen when the Messiah came (Mt 11.2-6; 24.3; Lk. 22.38, to name a few)
4. When this word was used in Matt. 14.31, it doesn't indicate that they didn't believe what they just saw. It indicates that their faith was less than it should be.

And you have concluded some had second thoughts. It's just not there.

> Matt 14:31. However, in that passage, the word is not used of the disciples in bewilderment. It’s not describing the disciples’ reaction to Jesus walking on water. Rather, it’s describing Peter’s lack of faith when he took steps toward Jesus. Jesus even tells us what he means by “doubt” here. He says “O ye of little faith, why did you doubt.” So you see, this whole thing is about faith.

Peter is obviously looking at Jesus (Mt. 14.29) and then started looking at the waves (14.30), and his mind went in two directions. Instead of trusting Jesus completely for what he was doing, "he was afraid." Peter's trust in the power of Christ, which motivated him to step out of the boat and walk on the water, because he was distracted by his dread of the wind and waves.

But we still have to define it by context in Matthew 28.17. At other points in Matthew, “little faith” is defined by the presence of worry (6.30), fear (8.26), and a lack of understanding (16.8). In other words, you are remiss to jump to a certain conclusion about distadzo meaning that they doubted enough, despite seeing Jesus right in front of their eyes, that they had second thoughts and only later did they believe it was truly the risen Christ. This is at least the fourth time they've seen him.

> So likewise, just as Peter doubted on his walk toward Jesus, some of the disciples also doubted that they were seeing a physically resurrected Jesus.

When Peter was walking towards Jesus, he was not doubting that Jesus was walking on the water or that he was. When the disciples saw Jesus on the mountain, it's not plausible that they were doubting that they were seeing a physically resurrected Jesus. Other kinds of thoughts are more plausible, given the evidence we have.
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Re: In what sense could the disciples "know"?

Postby Pree » Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:42 pm

> This is quite a presumption that I would say the text and the New Testament don't support. The indication of John 20.20ff. is that they all believed,

I was referencing Matthew, not John. A crucial key of textual criticism is letting each gospel speak for itself. We can’t assume that they’re all saying the same thing. In fact the whole point of this discussion is to determine whether or not these texts are in harmony. You seem to have already assumed your conclusion here by referencing other gospels to support your point.

> I didn't say that only some were blown away. They all worshipped.

The text says “They worshipped but some doubted.” According to your interpretation, “doubt” is referring to the disciples being blown away and grappling with the mystery of Christ’s resurrection. The question is, why would only some of them be blown away? Why wouldn’t all of them be grappling with this mystery? Why doesn’t it simply say “They worshipped but doubted”?
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Re: In what sense could the disciples "know"?

Postby jimwalton » Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:54 pm

> I was referencing Matthew, not John.

We take all of the what the Gospels say as necessary to understanding the story. You wouldn't assume that Surah 4 can't be used to explain something about Surah 3 in the Qur'an, nor that it was illegitimate to use the Bhagavad Gita to comment on something in the Vedas. the New Testament comes as a unified set of 27 books. One of the first and primary rules of Bible interpretation is "Let the Bible explain itself." Since the Gospels are viewing the same individual from 4 vantage points, we do not separate them in interpretation.

> According to your interpretation, “doubt” is referring to the disciples being blown away and grappling with the mystery of Christ’s resurrection.

What I said was, "Here somebody has come back from the dead—they saw him die—but, sure enough, he is standing right there in front of them as he has before. According to the record, he was not the same as he was before. There was something different about him, and even his closest friends and disciples were struggling for thoughts and words."

> The question is, why would only some of them be blown away? Why wouldn’t all of them be grappling with this mystery?

You know. You already know this. People are different personalities, first of all. Some are optimists, and some pessimists. Some lunge forward while others hold back. Some are sanguine, some choleric, some melancholic, and others phlegmatic. Some people are more easily convinced while others take more time and more evidence. You know this. The disciples had also had different experiences. Peter and John were the first disciples at the tomb and had a different set of eyes than those coming later who had already heard other things. Jesus had a specific conversation with Peter (Jn. 21.15-23). Thomas had missed, apparently, being at the tomb and seeing Jesus in the room that first night. He didn't see until a week later.

So it's easy to see how their heads are all in different places, and there are different degrees of understanding and digesting of what is going on.
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