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Bart Ehrman's New Book *Did Jesus Exist: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth*


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In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2012 3:58:52 PM PDT
"JJ: Why not examine the phrases yourself? For starters: look at how Josephus uses the word for 'tribe' (phylon); look at the kinds of people he describes as 'sophos aner' (wise man); and the kind of people who perform 'paradoxical works'. "

Read up on the studies. My most interesting sources for were Feldman and Vermes, Got a copy of his work on Josephus work online. The only potential issue I found is the potential positive mention attributed with the term "wise man" but the fact that it contradicts with NT literature
would speak against it as interpolation. Though I will say that you may be right about 1 thing. "the term called Christ" might not be a decidedly negative mention. I might be an error to describe it negative, but I would say that Josephus would use the it in the neutral. Possibly saying that Jesus was a good man but not a Messiah figure, similar to his fairly positive mention to John the Baptist.

Here is some data by Vermes describing Josephus use of that Passage.

http://www.call-to-monotheism.com/abuse_and_misuse_of_evidence_by_a_greenhorn_1__the_earliest_non_christian_references_to_jesus__peace_be_upon_him_

"Renowned Jewish scholar Geza Vermes also believes that the Testimonium originates from Josephus, albeit with Christian additions. Vermes demonstrates that the expressions 'wise man' and a 'performer of astonishing deeds' are thoroughly Josephan in style:"

"(1) The form of the description of Jesus as sophos aner and paradoxon ergon poietes, when compared with the presentation of other personalities, biblical and post-biblical, strikes me as genuinely Josephan. King Solomon is referred to as 'a wise man possessing every virtue' (andri sopho kai pasan arêten echonti) (Ant. viii 53). The prophet Elisha was 'a man renowned for righteousness' (aner epi dikaiosune diaboetos) who performed paradoxa erga (Ant. ix 182). Daniel, in turn, is portrayed as 'a wise man and skilful in discovering things beyond man's power' (sophos aner kai deinos heurein ta anechana) (Ant. x 237). A little later he appears as 'a good and just man' (aner agathos kai dikaios) (Ant. x 246). Ezra is said to have been 'a just man who enjoyed the good opinion of the masses' (dikaios aner kai doxes apolauon agathes para to plethei) (Ant. xi 121). Among post-biblical personalities, Honi-Onias is called 'a just man and beloved of God' (dikaios aner kai theophiles) (Ant. xiv 22), and Samaias 'a just man' (dikaios aner) (Ant. xiv 172). John the Baptist is introduced as 'a good man' (agathos aner) who 'exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God' (Ant. xviii 117). As for the leading Pharisee at the time of the outbreak of the first revolution, Simeon ben Gamaliel, he is presented as 'a man highly gifted with intelligence and judgment' (aner pleres suneseos kai logismou) (Vita 192) ..."

"In brief, there seems to be no stylistic or historical argument that might be marshaled against the authenticity of the two phrases in question. In fact, the clause that follows 'wise man', viz. 'if indeed one might call him a man' (eige andra auton legein chre), which is generally recognized as an interpolation, seems to support - as Paul Winter has aptly pointed out - the originality of sophos aner, an idiom which in the mind of a later Christian editor required further qualification."

"(2) In addition to appearing prima facie to be Josephan, closer analysis of sophos aner and paradoxon ergon poeites points to the improbability of their later Christian provenance. To begin with, the title 'wise man' has no New Testament roots, and in the absence of such an authoritative backing it is, I think, totally unfit to express the kind of elevated theological notion that a forger would have intended to introduce into Josephus' text. It would have been meaningless to invent a testimony that did not support the belief of the interpolator. But not only does it fail to convey the idea of the divine Christ of the church; it actually conflicts in a sense with New Testament terminology. Jesus is admittedly twice identified by Paul in I Cor. 1:24 and 30 with the abstract 'wisdom of God', but the adjective sophos as applied to men in the same chapter (1:18-31) carries a pejorative connotation. Furthermore, on the only occasion where the Gospels put this word into the mouth of Jesus, 'the wise' are unfavourably compared to 'babes' (nepioi) (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21). In the few instances where the term sophos is employed positively, it relates to Christian teachers, but never to Jesus himself. (Vermes, Jesus In His Jewish Context [Fortress Press Minneapolis, 2003], pp. 92-93; bold emphasis ours)"

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2012 4:11:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 8, 2012 5:45:55 PM PDT
"JJ: Why would it make no sense? "

Because a Origen is not surprised about Jesus not being mentioned, he is surprised that Josephus did not acknowledge Jesus as Christ. It indicates that Origen is reading Josephus literature that refers to Jesus distinctly through the use of the term "called Christ" but uses the language in a way that does not acknowledge him, with the term "called Christ" in Josephus literature as neutral or negative (but now that I think about it, it was most probably neutral).

"J: By using such a loaded term as 'christ'? Without any explanation?"

The explanation being in the TF as a short biography of why people had him "called Christ". He is not saying what he believed, he is saying that other people believed it. The James passage came after the TF, no explanation was needed in James passage as it had already been provided in TF. The short mention of the TF is one of the arguments for authenticity as it indicates that Josephus was referring to someone he had already explained/discussed about.

"JJ: But Josephus does not make such a statement:"

That sounds like a conclusion based on ignoring the data as opposed to examining it. The Josephus historians, the actual experts on this literature, do not share your view.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2012 5:23:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 8, 2012 5:40:08 PM PDT
"S Where did you get this idea? kharutz is moat or trench. It is not WALL. "

The scripture kharutz is also rendered to mean a threshing object/board, an object with jagged teeth, similar to an ancient fortress wall. The word is used different ways throughout the Tannakh. Sometimes as a reference to something sharp, a type of board with jagged teeth, a decision, moat, even gold. So which one best fits in Daniels reference to the reconstruction of Jerusalem?

Just curious Sarah:

do you know of a "moat" or "trench" that existed in ancient 5th century BC Jerusalem? The only I found to exist in jerusealm was built in 12th century by Crusaders.

Its a reference to an outer defense that didn't exist. The only outer defense of Jerusalem at that time being the Walls.

I find the same translation in various Hebrew interlinear bibles I check.

From what I read, the term "wall" partly comes from the use of the the word "khaw-roots" to read as "threshing sledge" in the book of Isaiah 41:15 in writings like the Jewish Publication Society bible or the standard Tannakh. An type of jagged object similar to city's walls that were also known for being jagged in ancient times. And the use of a moat as a type of outer defense.

Also the verb "rebuild" itself doesn't make any sense with the use of the moat, or trench.

I reach that conclusion also based on the Septuagint references. How about the 1st-3rd century BCE the Torah and Tannakh were translated by Jewish authors to Greek as supported by the Greek version of the scripture in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The translation in modern Septuagint resulting in the Hebrew word "moat" rendered as the word "wall"

Kind of makes sense considering the overall passage and alternate uses of the word.

Posted on Jul 8, 2012 5:42:19 PM PDT
yacob69 says:
No letter j exist in Hebrew or Greek language. to use the pagan European Jesus white man with blonde hair and blue eyes is one of the greatest hoax played by the gentiles Europeans. You people can't even get the name right. Yahusha is his name he is a Hebrew from the tribe of Judah a Black man. Why would Hebrew parents give a child Greek name? Hebrew names carry meanings. Jesus = Greek pagan Zeus lol and smh.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2012 6:10:44 PM PDT
Sarah says:
>"S Where did you get this idea? kharutz is moat or trench. It is not WALL. "

>EV: The scripture kharutz is also rendered to mean a threshing object/board, an object with jagged teeth, similar to an ancient fortress wall. The word is used different ways throughout the Tannakh. Sometimes as a reference to something sharp, a type of board with jagged teeth, a decision, moat, even gold. So which one best fits in Daniels reference to the reconstruction of Jerusalem?

S In other words, it means all kinds of things that are not walls, except in the one place where you would like it to mean "wall" in Daniel 9:25. You therefore declare a moat to be a wall because you need something to look like a part of new architectural construction for a prophecy you badly want to find there. Thus, out of 17 occurrences of the word kharutz, you pick just one to mean "wall" because you desperately need it to mean something that builders can construct and you apparently don't want them to construct a moat or trench.

You've obviously been relying on the KJV, which did exactly that; it made the word mean wall in just that one particular spot, Daniel 9:25, but nowhere else. The NAB and the JPS, btw, have "trench" and "moat," respectively, as does BDB.
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Instances of kharut as translated by the KJV:

Leviticus 22:22 Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the LORD.

2Kings 21:19 ¶ Amon was twenty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah.

Isaiah 10:22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.

Isaiah 28:27 For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod.

Isaiah 41:15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.

Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

Zechariah 9:3 And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets.

Psalms 68:13 Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.

Job 41:30 Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire.

Proverbs 3:14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.

Proverbs 8:10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.

Proverbs 8:19 My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.

Proverbs 12:27 ¶ The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.

Proverbs 16:16 ¶ How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

Proverbs 21:5 ¶ The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.

Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

Would you like to see the same seventeen verses as translated in the NAB and JPS?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2012 11:10:12 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 8, 2012 11:34:08 PM PDT
"You've obviously been relying on the KJV, which did exactly that; it made the word mean wall in just that one particular spot, Daniel 9:25, but nowhere else. The NAB and the JPS, btw, have "trench" and "moat," respectively, as does BDB. "

I wonder if actually read my entire post or just jump to a conclusion based on one or two sentences you choose to attack

It looks like you made a point to ignore the arguments I presented and deflected them argument by going into a translation issue.

As I told you earlier, that you ignored, I got it from the Greek Septuagint. I never use the KJV. The Greek Septuagint as translated by Jewish writers according to the 3rd-1st century BCE translations of Torah and Tannakh. Greek parts of the Tannakh for the minor prophets and Isaiah and some parts of Daniel found in the Dead Sea Scrolls to verify translation of Tannakh by Hebrew writers. So if you find it translated as wall in the Septuagint, its an interesting evidence that the Hebrew translator understood the word "moat" to refer to a wall.

"Would you like to see the same seventeen verses as translated in the NAB and JPS? "

I already checked every one of them. You pretend I didn't and try to make it look look like so by avoiding the arguments I presented to you earlier. You ignored how I told you I used a Hebrew Interlinear and the NASB to make sense of it.

The Isaiah references you bring up are also found in the NASB and the JPS and they tend to mean things that have the characteristics of wall, such as a threshing board with jagged teeth (much like a fortress wall would have). I brought them up earlier, something you completely ignored.

You avoided discussing the use of verb "rebuild" and you appealed to the authority which you have often condemned me for doing. You avoided the lack of existence of the a moat or trench in the time of Daniel/Babylon: By that fact alone one is required to interpret the word "moat" in this passage.

You deflected and appealed to authority without once answering any of the arguments I presented. Not once. You did exactly what you have accused me of doing.

I'm honestly not surprised.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 2:36:54 AM PDT
James Joyce says:
EV: Incorrect. I say that Josephus would not intend such a phase in the positive. The phrase can easily apply to the neutral or the negative.
There is no indication that he did not write it. Its the equivalent of someone saying, "this guy wrote a book" the phrase can be a sarcastic, neutral or positive, depending on the tone of the writing.

JJ: OK, you do not know what, linguistically, renders this Greek phrase - which is used verbatim and repeatedly in early Christian writings - negative or sarcastic. Can you track down where you read that it had a negative meaning (and to be clear, I am not suggesting you invented it - I have come across the idea before) and see what explanation was given?

As I have already indicated, in terms of language it is a Christian rather than 'Josephan' phrase in any case. But it would be interesting to pin down where this 'negative' definition comes from and see if it has legs.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 2:57:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 9, 2012 3:56:27 AM PDT
James Joyce says:
EV: Read up on the studies.

JJ: Well. Josephus is by far the best thing to read. Though I have read two of your sources: Van Voorst and Vermes. Josephus' other uses of 'wise man' are to describe major Jewish prophets, and both vV and V seem to be entirely oblivious to the obvious problem raised by Josephus holding this Jesus character in the same esteem as Solomon, Daniel, and Elisha. Nor do they explain how and why persuading the Romans to kill a 'wise man' (who wasn't a prophet) represented - outside of Christian minds - a misfortune that befell the Jews. I don't know what you mean by it 'contradicting with NT literature'.

Likewise with paradoxa erga, an obvious question: why would a Jew call this Jesus character a worker of miracles? Vermes describes the phrase as "Josephus territory" and cites two instances (Ant. 3: 38 and 9:182) where Josephus uses the word 'paradox' to refer to the miracles of men accepted by Jews as major miracle-working prophets. Moses is said to have performed paradoxa, as is Elisha. Vermes does not see the obvious problem: why would a Jew (rather than a Christian) implicitly accept that this anonymous Jesus was a worker of miracles just like Moses and Elisha?

In addition, Vermes claims that 'paradoxical' is not used in the NT of Jesus. In order to assert this, he dismisses the use of the word at Luke 5:26, on the grounds that it is "on the lips of uncommitted witnesses of a Gospel miracle". This is disingenuous: Jesus performs the miracle (on a paralysed man) specifically because he saw the faith (ten pistin auton) of the crowd. They are subsequently seized by ekstasis, glorify (edoxazon) God, and say "we have seen paradoxa today!". The paradoxa of Jesus. ekstasis and edoxazon are used devotionally elsewhere in the NT (e.g Simon Peter falls into an ekstasis to receive a divine vision). The crowd glorify God while in this ekstasis, Jesus performs a miracle in response to their faith - and Vermes dismisses their speech as "uncommitted"?! All contortions performed just so he can say the word paradoxon in the TF is Josephan rather than NT.

'phylon' is another word that is common in Josephus, but has been used inappropriately in the TF. Mason (2003, p232) picks up the "peculiar" usage, and mentions in passing that Christian writings do use the word in that way. Mason, interestingly, gets the word itself wrong - and he *is* a bona fide 'Josephan scholar'!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 3:04:55 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 9, 2012 3:06:09 AM PDT
James Joyce says:
EV: The explanation being in the TF as a short biography of why people had him "called Christ". He is not saying what he believed, he is saying that other people believed it. The James passage came after the TF, no explanation was needed in James passage as it had already been provided in TF.
JJ: Josephus' readers wouldn't have understood the significance of the title 'christ'.

EV: <"JJ: But Josephus does not make such a statement:">
That sounds like a conclusion based on ignoring the data as opposed to examining it. The Josephus historians, the actual experts on this literature, do not share your view.

JJ: Josephus stating that "some people recognized Jesus as the Messiah" is in 'reconstructions' of the TF - imagined versions of what Josephus might have/could have said - it's not a statement that Josephus himself actually makes.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 10:08:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 10, 2012 8:14:25 AM PDT
Elias Vasquez says: "By the way, your calculation of the lunar 19 year cycle seemed off to me, so I did the math myself. Your off by about 45 days. THE 19 YEAR LUNAR CYCLE BY THE EQUATION YOU PRESENTED IS 6932 AND 1/2 DAYS. Your off by 45 and 1/2 days each 19 year cycle. Which adds up to a little over 3 years."

Yes, Elias, you are right that my calculation of the 19 year cycle is incorrect. I apologize to everyone for making and not discovering this error. (Since I didn't retain my scratch sheet, I'm unable to identify my mistake; it may have been a wrong calculator entry.) However, as will be seen from the following discussion, my mistake resulted in the wrong terminus year scale, but not in verdict.

The method I used was to compute the 19 year day total using the Metonic cycle in which 12 are common years of 12 lunar months, plus 7 leap years of 13 lunar months, with the length of monthly days found in the table at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_calendar. For this calculation, 6 months have duration 29 days, 6 months have duration of 30 days, and the leap month is also 30 days. The result I should have originally obtained is 6936 days.

But even this is wrong by nearly 4 days. For the lunar calendar, the 19 year cycle requires that 235 months be used in order to equal to the 19 year solar calendar. The exact answer is obtained by multiplying 235 consecutive lunar months by the average length of the lunar cycle which is 29.53 days/month, giving 6939.6 days. [For detailed information see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metonic_cycle]

Elais says: "so anyway its 6932.5 per cycle. There's about 25. cycles in 483 years lunar years. 6932.5*25=173312.5 days = 474.5 years in our modern calendar. 443-446BCE-474.5"

Notice that Elias does not complete his equation, which is arithmetically improper. This is what he should have presented.

446 BCE + 474.5 years = 28.5 CE
443 BCE + 474.5 years = 31.5 CE

Furthermore, Elias does not add an extra year for the fact there is no year 0 between BCE and CE. So his calculations should result in 29.5 CE and 32.5 CE respectively, which are essentially the results he is striving for when he states "back to the 30-33CE mark."

But wait! Mr. Vasquez has made a more significant error than goofing (as I also originally did) the correct number of total days that the 19 year cycle requires (6939.6 rather than 6932.5 days). His foible is to approximate the number of 19 year cycles in 483 years as 25.00, when the precise number is 25.42. Had he used this number, he would have obtained 482.5 rather than 474.5 years "in our modern calendar," ending in the result of 37.5-40.5 CE (with the year 0 correction).

So, what's the true outcome? The correct number of 6939.6 days in 19 years, along with the precise value of 25.42 for 19 year cycles in 483 years, produces 6939.6*25.42/365.24 = 483 days forward (which should be no surprise, since Metonic lunar spans of years now correspond to solar years). The final result is a date range of 38-41 CE (missing year 0 adjustment included).

Let's sum up the various deductions.

My original erroneous date range: 41-44 CE.
Vasquez's defective date range: 28.5-31.5 CE
Accurate Metonic cycle date range: 38-41 CE.
Expected prophetic date range: 30-33 CE.

Clearly, an error on the order of 8 years is far too large to qualify as the outcome of precise prophecy

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 12:35:39 PM PDT
Dr H says:
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Sarah sez:
Where exactly did you encounter this "universal fact of Judaic studies" of which I have never heard before in my entire life, including four undergraduate years taking courses in various Judaic studies?
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Y'know... I was kind of wondering just how "universal" this practice was.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 12:39:49 PM PDT
Dr H says:
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Rachel Rebecca Riordan sez:
In modern English usage, which is after all the common language we are speaking, it means a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity.
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Indeed -- modern English since about 1649, when it entered the English language with this meaning.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 12:45:49 PM PDT
Dr H says:
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David Marshall sez:
Ehrman thinks the Gospels aren't independent witnesses, they only CONTAIN independent witnesses.
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Surely you understand the difference between "source" and "witness"?

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 12:49:13 PM PDT
Dr H says:
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FashionSense sez:
Mark John the author of the book of Mark wrote whose firsthand eyewitnss account for him because he could not write and could not write or speak Greek? This is easy...The Apostle Peter.
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I'm sorry but I am not able to parse this sentence in any way that makes sense. You appear to be saying that John was the author of Mark's gospel, but that Peter ghost-wrote Mark for John.

Huh??

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 12:54:36 PM PDT
Dr H says:
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FashionSense sez:
What you are saying has nothing to do with the Bible. The Bible is a book of documentation.
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Were that true, it would be very unfortunate, since so much of the Bible is contradictory, false, and wildly fictitious.

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One day Jesus said: "Hey, let's go pray for those people in Galilee."
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How do you know he said this?

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Then some years later, the Apostle Peter tells Mark John, Jesus said, "Hey, let's go pray for those people in Galilee."
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Yes, that would be a *third-hand* account, as I said. To wit: Jesus allegedly said something (first hand); Peter reports this to Mark (second hand_; Mark writes it down for us (third hand).

And it's probably further removed than even that, seeing as Mark didn't write the gospel of Mark, and the gospel in fact had multiple authors.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 1:23:07 PM PDT
Lee Freeman says:
DR. H.: Lee Freeman sez:
Which means ALL apologists are prone to circular reasoning and that ALL skeptics aren't?
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It was a cheap shot, I admit.

But you people keep giving me so much supporting evidence... ;)

LEE: It was a cheap shot. Apologists for atheism are no less prone to bias, prejudice and arguing from pure emotion, than apologists for Christianity are.

DR. H.: I do not consider myself a "liberal." Nor are all religious types of my acquaintance "conservative".

LEE: That is irrelevant. You're an apologist for a skeptical viewpoint nonetheless in that you mount what you consider rational, reasoned arguments in favor of that view. That makes you an apologist. If you were trying to convince me that Carson Daly is the anti-Christ, or that Barak Obama is a Muslim, you'd be an apologist for those views.

DR. H: The etymology of "apologetics" really traces its origin back to a defense of Christianity, but I suppose it does see more colloquial usage these days. It's probably as "correct" to talk about a "skeptical apologist" as it is to talk about an "atheist evangelist," at any rate.

LEE: The definition for *apologia* is: apologia ap-ol-og-ee'-ah from the same as 626; a plea ("apology"):--answer (for self), clearing of self, defence.

Such a defence or answer can certainly be applied to a rational argument for Christianity however the word *apologia* existed in Koine GK before the NT author of I Peter used it.

DR. H.: I wouldn't say "many" skeptics, but I have observed that in some skeptics, for sure. On occasion I take them to task for this; they usually do not thank me for it.

LEE: In my experience in these forums, it is *many,* if not *most,* of the skeptics. The way they approach the historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is Exhibit A. They seem to think that believing that Jesus of Nazareth existed necessarily commits them to believing that he was the resurrected Son of God.

DR.H.: dr. h.: For myself, since I view religion as primarily political, my political feelings sometimes creep into the discussion. When debating substantive points of history or science, I can usually avoid this pitfall. But all too often it is a religious believer that introduces a moral or political point into the othewise substantive discussion, and I've never been one to let sleeping dogs lie, so to speak, when someone flings an opinion at me that I find outrageous.

I should perhaps add that you, Lee, have proven very even-tempered in what are generally highly antagonistic discussions, and I do appreciate that.

Even if I do disagree with practically everything you say. :-)

LEE: Ditto.

Pax.

Lee.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 1:26:08 PM PDT
Dr H says:
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Elias Vasquez sez:
The numbers used here are not divined.
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Your calculations with them are.

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Its Math.
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It's aritimetic. Numerology uses arithmetic, also, and it can make any combination of numbers come out to any desired result, since the exact nature, order, or number of calculations is not specified.

Take your name, for example. :

We notice that it contains 12 letters: 12 = 6 + 6 : two 6's

Then we eliminate duplicate letters, and we assign a number to each letter, a=1, b=2, c=3, etc., which gives us Elias = 46 and Vquz = 86.

46+86=132 : 1+3+2=6* : a third 6

Your name therefore contains three 6's, or 666

And I have just "proven" that you are the Beast from the Apocalypse.

See how that works?

Of course it would be a little more convincing if I threw in some babble about ancient calendars and "Elias" really meaning "demon" in ancient pig-Atlantean, and maybe tied it to 9/11 or something like that, but those are mere details, and easy to come by.

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In ancient Hebrew another word for Moat is WALL as an outer defense.
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In ancient Atlantean another word for 'apologetics' is 'blarney'.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 1:27:55 PM PDT
Dr H says:
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Elias Vasquez sez:
To claim a non existent detail as you just did means you never took the time too check all the ancient records.
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I took the time to check the astronomical records.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 1:29:32 PM PDT
Dr H says:
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Elias Vasquez sez:
Standard rule of ancient history.
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In other words, you have no idea if the interpretations are correct or not; you are merely speculating wildly.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 1:50:43 PM PDT
Dr H says:
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FashionSense sez:
If Mark wrote down the firsthand eyewitness account of the Apostle Peter then the account in the book of Mark is a firsthand account.

The book of Mark is a firsthand account.
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If somebody (say Jesus) says something and records it themselves, that is a firsthand account.

If they say something and *somebody else* (say Peter) passes it on, that is a secondhand account.

If they say something, and somebody else tells it to a *third person*, and that third person records it, that is a thirdhand account.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 1:55:57 PM PDT
Dr H says:
The scripture kharutz is also rendered to mean a threshing object/board, an object with jagged teeth, similar to an ancient fortress wall. The word is used different ways throughout the Tannakh. Sometimes as a reference to something sharp, a type of board with jagged teeth, a decision, moat, even gold.
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Yes, well, so much for the prophesy being a "clear and unambiguous statement".

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 2:12:20 PM PDT
Dr H says:
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Lee Freeman sez:
Apologists for atheism are no less prone to bias,
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Perhaps, but irrelevant in this case. I have not been arguing for or against atheism; I have been discussion the quality of evidence (and lack thereof) for various Biblical claims advanced here by theists. (Well, and the subject of the historicity of Jesus, but that seems like a ling time ago...)

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If you were trying to convince me that Carson Daly is the anti-Christ, or that Barak Obama is a Muslim, you'd be an apologist for those views.
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Only in the loosest, most generic sense of the meaning of "apologist".

However, I don't see that I've been trying to "convince" you of any particular position here. What I have been doing is challenging what you have presented as "evidence" for various claims you have made. Simply cross-examining evidence is rather outside even the broadest definition of "apologist".

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In my experience in these forums, it is *many,* if not *most,* of the skeptics. The way they approach the historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is Exhibit A. They seem to think that believing that Jesus of Nazareth existed necessarily commits them to believing that he was the resurrected Son of God.
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I have rather pointedly NOT taken that position. I have no problem accepting that there was probably an historical "Jesus" around whom the Jesus legend subsequently grew up.

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Ditto.
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And so, there we are. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 2:21:29 PM PDT
Lee Freeman says:
DR. H.: But here you go, here's a few:

Osiris: Death and Afterlife of a God
Jesus The Egyptian: The Origins of Christianity And The Psychology of Christ
Paganism in Our Christianity
Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices
Christianity: The Origins of a Pagan Religion
The Mystery-Religions

LEE: As I expected. The titles you listed are all either long outdated (Angus' work was written in the 1920s) or written by non-specialists, in other words, by people who aren't professional academic NT scholars, like Meyer, Yamauchi and Ehrman. If I looked hard enough I could find books supporting nearly any position I wanted to defend. Having footnotes and a bibliography doesn't make a work academic or scholarly.

So my challenge stands to you to provide even *two* *modern* academic NT scholars who think the NT authors co-opted from paganism to any significant degree. I'm betting you're not going to find any.

DR. H. :I'm arguing that neight did Christianity *as we know it* exist at that point.

LEE: It did, as I Corinthians 11: 23-26; I Corinthians 15:3-7; Phil. 2:5-8; and other early traditions point out. Paul, whose first letter, Galatians, dates to 50 AD, is our earliest witness to Jesus, as well as our earliest witness to the even belief in his death, burial and resurrection.

DR. H.: The process of legend formation -- or religion formation, for tha matter -- may begin very quickly, but it may also go on for a very long time. No doubt the nascent Christianity of teh 1st century had already borrowed some bits and pieces from other pre-existing myths (e.g., Osiris and Isis). But it continued to add material -- and manufacture its own material -- for at least hundreds of years thereafter. Plenty of time for it to incorporate a few bits from Mithranism, /after/ Mithranism "as we know it" had taken form.

LEE: We have a belief in Jesus' death, burial and resurrection that we can track back to 30-35 AD. We have a belief in Jesus' deity that we can track back nearly as early. We have a complete NT that's being quoted by 90-100 AD. So what was left to add? The perpetual virginity of Mary or the Cult of the Saints? Those aren't elements of original, historic, first-century Christianity.

DR. H.:See above -- the development of the legend wasn't limited tot he 1st century. Also, the middle east was at that time a crossroads of the world; lots of people from lots of places passed through. It would be inconceivable that some of them didn't leave some stories of their religions behind when they left.

LEE: See my above. Actually it *was* limited to the first century, as the belief in Jesus' resurrection began between 30-35 AD. Again, it isn't just conservative Christian scholars and apologists who say this, it is Jewish, atheist and agnostic scholars. It is the academic consensus.

Palestinian Judaism was Hellenized, but not Hellenized enough that Jews were reworking pagan myths into their own scriptures.

DR. H.:Yes I have. Lee, you can't now suddenly redefine the term "resurrection" to close out any account that doesn't fit your fancy. Really, using your "logic" here I can just as validly claim that the story of Jesus resurrection wasn't a "real" resurrection, because only the kind of resurrection Osiris had counts as a *real* resurrection.

LEE: I'm defining *resurrection* like the Jews, Greeks and Romans did. In antiquity there *was no word* for a resurrection that didn't involve a dead human body coming back to life in *this world.* Osiris *was not* resurrected--all his bits save his manhood were reassembled and he reigned in the Underworld as a mummy-king. So if you want to be a scholar about it, as scholars such as the conservative Yamauchi and liberal Ehrman both point out, Osiris *was not* resurrected, certainly not in any way that a first-century, 2nd Temple, Palestinian Jew would recognize.

Furthermore, where is your evidence, either archaeological or textual, for widespread pagan cults in Jewish Palestine?

I'm *really* waiting for that!

Again, the popular conspiracy-theory books you suggested above do not count as "evidence." Certainly not as academic studies by credible specialists like Yamauchi or Ehrman.

Pax.

Lee.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 2:23:57 PM PDT
Lee Freeman says:
MENS_SANA: Yes I have. Lee, you can't now suddenly redefine the term "resurrection" to close out any account that doesn't fit your fancy. Really, using your "logic" here I can just as validly claim that the story of Jesus resurrection wasn't a "real" resurrection, because only the kind of resurrection Osiris had counts as a *real* resurrection.

LEE: Well, "dear," please explain what the practical difference is.

Pax.

Lee.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 9, 2012 2:27:53 PM PDT
Lee Freeman says:
RACHEL: No, it doesn't. You repeat that so often, you might think it is true. Apologetics comes from Greek ἀπολογ^3;&#945;, which means "speaking in defense." In modern English usage, which is after all the common language we are speaking, it means a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity.

LEE: Rachel, I don't care how modern English has redefined the terms. I care about the ORIGIN of the word, which means to mount a rational defense of an argument or position. That can and does include ANY position someone argues in defense of, whether Christianity, atheism, or a flat earth.

RACHEL: I use it derisively because all too often, contrary to your self-congratulatory quasi-definition, apologists engage in reverse engineering. They begin with the opinion (posed as knowledge) that the Bible is true and good. If any passage contradicts any other or if the Bible appears not to be good, then the Bible must be reinterpreted. In no other historical discipline do we see this reinterpretation of texts.

LEE: Which just shows me that you haven't read any good apologetics. Or, good historiography, either. Reinterpretation is par for the course in history, Christianity, physics, medicine, and lots of other disciplines.

Pax.

Lee.
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