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PaulS last won the day on September 7 2017

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About PaulS

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  • Birthday 08/20/1968

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  1. Rather than vague I should say 'open to interpretation'. I know you want to focus on the 'good' Jesus stuff (as outlined above) but just because the other aren't as familiar doesn't discount them or indeed acknowledge that they do confuse the image of Jesus at the very least, to some degree. It seems this 'essence' you refer to is determined because of some stories but not all.
  2. The orthodox version which developed from the proto-orthodox version as Erhman would say. The gist of the 4 x Gospels being relatively consistent is not surprising - that's why they were chosen by those who won the day as the 4 x gospels representing Christianity. But what I actually think is that because the 'gist' is somewhat vague (if everyone wrote a paragraph on the gist I am certain there would be differences) and there are elements of the Gospels that are either contradictory or at the very least very open to interpretation, that there is risk in saying that the Gospels are an accurate representation of Jesus. I agree they are pretty much all we have, but that doesn't mean that haven't excluded an essential view or actiosn of Jesus that could provide some differences in understanding him. You are content acknowledging elements could be wrong, but in general the Gospels 'speak' to you. I think there is room for error, irrespective of whether the teachings speak to one or not. Certainly others come away with a different gist of Jesus - you seem to fail to acknowledge that, but rather simply say they have understood the gist wrongly. That seems to be denying them the fact that the Gospels speak to them differently. Further, I don't know that the gist you believe is the same as Jesus' necessarily. Again, there is room for error because: a) we're relying on the only versions we have, but we do know there were alternate or various other voices drowned out in the decades following Jesus b) we don't know and can't validate the accuracy of the original authors of the gospel or the writings. We might be able to make an educated guess, but it's not 100% (which you acknowledge), but this does create room for error (e.g. should I believe one must accept Jesus to get to God, can I have a hissy fit and attack a legal business if I think it goes against what God wants, etc). c) who knows how any originals were amended or tampered with over the extensive decades between their alleged penning and the oldest actual copies we have.
  3. Then what have we been discussing for days! You say the 'gist' of Jesus is accurate as portrayed by the Gospels - I say there is room for error because a particular element of Christianity won the day and their writings are what eventually became regarded as accurate (or accurate enough). But even then, what their actual writings were and what the end product we finally received looks like, could be very different things. For me it is not always enough to say that because the Gospels seem to present a 'gist' of Jesus that they are necessarily accurate of that 'gist'. But that only becomes a problem (in my opinion) when it causes people to believe what I consider harmful to others. But that is how things speak to me. I think you see it similarly, except you put a little more validity to it because it speaks to you or resonates. Much resonates with me too but I still regard it as a personal thing and not necessarily accurate of Jesus.
  4. Which is exactly what I am trying to say about the authors of the Gospels!
  5. I think it is fair to say that many Christians throughout history, well before Darby, took the words of the bible to be historical proof on many things which today we can categorically determine did not occur or did not exist. It would seem the Jews and Christians of Jesus' day believed the OT accounts of Moses, King David, Solomon etc - characters all who mainstream biblical scholarship and historians today discount as myth and storytelling. Perhaps Darby introduced a more savage form of inerrancy and reading of the bible literally, but I think history demonstrates many shades of this before Darby. And many Christians well before Darby have told others through oral history, tradition, reason and experience, what Jesus is, what he means, what he did etc, all based on writings that did make it to the cannon as being the ONLY documents worth including. But also, reading the bible meant nothing to Christians for the first 300 or so years of their existence, simply because there wasn't one! So who knows what developed through oral tradition and eventually into somebody's writings representing Jesus - ever hear of the game Telephone? The oldest fragment we have of ANYTHING written about Jesus is a cigarette pack size fragment of John. Scholars date that fragment to about 125-175CE. So the earliest known written account of anything to do with Jesus (in this case a fragment that has parts of verses 31–33 and parts from verses 37–38, all chapter 18) is dated some 100-150 years after Jesus even existed. Subsequently, we simply cannot say how accurate the text is to events and actions of Jesus it portrays. Maybe it's biased, maybe it misses other relevant information that could affect how Christians understand Jesus. We simply don't know. The best we can say is that we have to trust the generations of Christians before this was written to have accurately portrayed information about Jesus. I think most people would see the huge room for errors here (and that's before we even start to consider the reality where this fragment came from and what the final product was when we see the first complete manuscript of John). Interpret Jesus how you want - all I am saying is that for anybody to say that the Gospels are an accurate rendering of the important bits about Jesus, is to deny the sensible likelihood that what has been presented has a bias which could be errant.
  6. I would suggest the specifics of history indeed do need to be necessarily accurate, otherwise they are not history but interpretation, story telling, opinion, etc. The 'specifics' that are recounted after an event and then regarded by some or all as history is where the breakdown between actual history (fact) and the presented version of history occur. In fact, if history is being incorrectly reported then I doubt you could call that information even 'specifics'. There can be only one version of history, otherwise its simply not history.
  7. As I mention to Burl, the incident doesn't seem to flow well and possibly a verse or two may have been deleted. Maybe the original passage read like this: "In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, firstly the money changers and then both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables"...or something like that. Later scribes may have redacted the bit about Jesus driving out the money changers with a whip because it didn't suit their version of Jesus of the day (some 150+ years after Jesus) that he was the 'Prince of Peace'. Now none of this is scholarly work naturally, but just my humble opinion that in the light of direct evidence that some of the Gospels have been tampered with (e.g. the two different endings to Mark) is it totally beyond the realm of all possibilities that original stories such as this one may have in some way been tampered with during the following one hundred+ years between when they were first written (themselves several decades after the event and not by eye witnesses) and the copies we have ended up with today? Is there any significant difference between a Jesus who strikes the money changers with a whip and the Jesus who doesn't? So apart from being a hyper-fundamentalist apparently, the main reason I think this sort of stuff is relevant or of interest is because much of Christianity says "You must believe this about Jesus because the bible said it and this is how it shall be interpreted". Many Christians are not as 'relaxed' about the Gospels capturing the general 'gist' about Jesus but are rather adamant that every verse and story must be interpreted a certain way. I would suggest that throughout human history we have seen good and bad associated with this. My hangup is simply that the NT and the Gospels are not necessarily accurate on all things Jesus. Personal interpretation is fine and natural. What I don't like is when that personal interpretation becomes the 'only' way people must interpret it and if they don't they are belittled or called names or ostracized (not saying you're doing that, but many have, and do). I understand you and others may not consider these issues to in anyway affect an accurate reflection of true Christianity, the true 'gist' of Jesus' life and message, as was embraced by the early Christian community in the years following the death of Jesus. I don't share that confidence but I think we've done that bit to death here.
  8. Oops, sorry, didn't realise Bart was there at the time. But seriously, I think Bart would even say this is his best guess and not something you should take to the bank. But irrespective of its actual significance in its day, it was clearly a story that some early Christians considered important enough to repeat (or create). Why? Is it accurately copied? Has anything been removed from this seemingly otherwise insignificant occurrence which otherwise wouldn't seem to warrant the light of day in a book about Jesus' life?
  9. Please read the text - it never says Jesus whipped the animals. John 2 (NRSV version): 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. Where does the text say Jesus hit the animals with the whip? But if we are going to play semantics, what about the grammar of the first two sentences? Sentence two does not properly follow on from sentence one. In sentence one it says Jesus found people selling three types of animals but in the second sentence it says he drove them 'both' out (referring to sheep and cattle). It doesn't cover off the doves or the people. Most people would say that this doesn't read correctly. I'm guessing it has been lost in translation or possibly amended since it was originally written.
  10. Only important to hyper-fundamentalists? Not actually correct (but I suspect you're just trying to be insulting?). I'm an not a hyper-fundamentalist but someone who likes to consider the accuracy of the copies of the NT that we have today, viewing them against what we know of history and culture. Particularly against the backdrop of so many quoting from these copies as the indisputable truth of what Jesus said or did. Which 'newer' copies of the Gospels are you referring to Burl? Actually, to save time maybe you could just cite what you think the dating of each of the copies of the Gospel books is estimated to be? Not what period in time they are referring to, but what the actual age you understand the oldest, whole, existing copy of each Gospel book to be please.
  11. Are you saying Jesus didn't use a whip, or are you possible reading my comment with a different lense than I wrote it with? It's okay if the latter is the case, I know interpretation is often a very personal thing and not necessarily accurate of what the writer is saying. I said Jesus 'took to' the money changers with a whip. The bible says Jesus made a whip of cords and drove all of them out of the temple. In my culture 'taking to' something means doing something (e.g. "gee, he 'took to' that task" - that is to say he embraced that task with vigor). In my case, I believe Jesus, using a whip, took to the task of driving the moneychangers from the temple with vigor. Am I wrong to think this or are you saying Jesus didn't use a whip? Did Jesus actually hit a money changer? Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. But because of the vagaries of interpreting Jesus in the NT and the minutiae that some focus on when discussing large issues such as the 'gist' of Jesus, I do try to pick my words carefully concerning what Jesus is attributed to have said or done. Hence why I did not explicitly say that Jesus hit anyone with the whip he was using to drive the money changers from the temple. I hope this clarifies your apparent misunderstanding (unless you're saying Jesus didn't use a whip - I'm not aware of any controversy between scholars around such).
  12. Sorry BT, not my kettle of fish. Not sure really where these people may be. You can always start a thread here and see if there are any like minds. Also, I invite you to introduce yourself in the intro threads if you would like to stick around. Cheers Paul
  13. Thormas, Really short, cos this is starting to get a little boring. Sorry, I don't mean to sound rude - more an observation that it looks like we're repeating stuff and not adding much new to the conversation. By 'your version' I simply meant the view of Jesus form the Gospels that you find compelling. This is different in a myriad of ways to other people's versions and interpretations. History shows us that people have viewed Jesus in all sorts of different lenses as a result of the Gospels (and often the remainder of the NT) among other things like societal and cultural influences of their day. Yes, we can be wrong. The authors that wrote long after Jesus was gone could also have things wrong. The scribes and copyists after them could also have things wrong. You don't seem to agree that different people do indeed interpret Jesus differently with any justification for themselves You say they are getting it wrong - I say they have a different interpretation that can be justified via scripture and I think Christians have done throughout history. No harm in harmonizing the birth narrative of Jesus? Maybe in your view but there is a significant change to the nature of Jesus (and what one might preach or pursue) if one believes Jesus was born of a virgin from the seed of God (as an external heavenly being) to if one who sees Jesus as completely human born from a mother who had sex with a man. My only concern about there being no originals is that we are talking about something that is not original, not necessarily accurate in everything it says, that has had a huge influence over human behavior throughout history (often negative) and that people will argue till the cows come home, must be interpreted a certain way (whilst often these arguments differ). You yourself are arguing the Gospels MUST be interpreted a certain way. Whilst your view may be harmless enough, others who insist things should be viewed differently in many circumstances can be dangerous. You simply say "they are wrong". Well, that didn't help the many millions of people who have suffered throughout history. And to think this harm can occur simply because a verse or verses that one Gospel author writes, or a scribes later included or amended, is mistakenly interpreted. I really don't have the time to document the multitude of legal cases where Christians have harmed abortion clinics in the name of Jesus or committed other acts of harm because the Gospels and Jesus 'speak to them' a certain way.. If you think that hasn't happened, so be it. Similarly, if you think Popes blessing Christian knights in the name of Jesus to carry out the Crusades was simply based on their misunderstanding of Jesus, so be it. But to acknowledge that stories in the Gospels are confusing and we're unsure what they mean (the temple, the fig tree, etc) but to then go on and say that Jesus can only be interpreted one way, seems staggering to me. I'd even go further and questions elements of say the Beatitudes (what does the meek will inherit the earth mean? - I'm raising that rhetorically) have been interpreted differently buy different Christians who all feel they are right in their views. But somehow it seems you can harmonise it all together to present this 'one, true' understanding of Jesus and those who have seen it another way are simply wrong. In any event, we are just going around in circles. My 'issues' with the Gospels are that whilst people interpret them for themselves and do no harm, for anybody to say that they are 100% about the person of Jesus and his 'gist' is dangerous, as we have seen throughout time. Have the last word on this if you would like, but I think I'm finished on this topic.
  14. Thormas, You have a version of Jesus that works for you and speaks to you. I am not trying to take that away from you or anyone else and as I have said, if your understanding of Jesus causes no harm, then cool. Yes, there are the stories, parables, the beatitudes, the sermons of Jesus etc which do go to a way to live and treat others. Maybe Jesus said all of these things, maybe he didn't. But there are certainly a number of other stories in the Gospels to confound this view of Jesus, or at the very least to give some Christians a number of interpretations about what Jesus would do today which seems contrary to the understanding you hold. Jesus was love a lot of the times, except when he took to the money changers in the temple with a whip and overthrew tables and generally lost his cool. Many have found that a justification for aggression from a Christian perspective (if it's okay for Jesus to get angry and harm others, then why shouldn't Christian followers today bomb abortion clinics?). Or what do you make of Jesus cursing the fig tree - is it okay for Jesus to behave like a petulant child because figs were out of season? What about the miracles in the Gospels - do you believe Jesus raised dead corpses, sent demons into innocent pig herds, walked on water? Do you believe all of the miracles or just some. If the gospel authors were wrong about some bits they wrote, then which bits do you know are right or wrong? The bits that 'speak' to you? You answers some of my questions about Jesus' words with questions yourself - I would argue that is because the interpretation is not clear cut....and we've had nearly a couple of thousand years to mull it over and most Christians still can't agree on the precise understanding. We simply don't know for sure what Jesus meant (or if he even really said it). Again, this has provided for many a Christian to interpret Jesus differently to you - turf their children out because they're gay, for children to abandon their families because the parents aren't coverts to Christianity, to commit acts of harm because that's what they believe Jesus wants. There have been Christian wars ever since Jesus played fullback for Jerusalem! I'm astounded that you can't see that the interpretation of Jesus and his words simply do 'speak' to people differently. You might not like it that way, but history shows us that is what happens.
  15. Which is essentially what I am trying to say Thormas about 'interpretation'. I know you're joking, but millions aren't when they say others need to understand the NT 'properly'. There are numerous voices all giving their opinion about what Jesus and God want. Did Jesus really intend for women to be silent in Church (and cover their heads, etc)? Does Jesus really want us to hate our families? If Jesus says he didn't come to bring peace but to bring a sword does that mean we should fight others? Should we really abstain from blood? Are slaves really not above their masters? Should Christians only pray in their closet and never in public? Etc etc etc. These are a mere sample of the teachings of Jesus which are either attributed as direct words of Jesus or conveyed by other writers as what Jesus wants. They are all subject to interpretation and disagreement. By all means says that people misinterpret these - my point simply is that we do not know which of these Jesus really said and in many cases whether or not he would have approved of this message. Nonetheless, the same verses 'speak' to people in different ways and affects their actions in many cases. Read about St. Bernard of Clairvaux. He was a strong advocate for the crusades and truly believed that they were what God wanted. Clearly he interprets the bible different to you but I have no doubt what he believed about the scriptures spoke to him truly, just as strongly as it does to you but in a different way. I don't think if we had one single document that'd necessarily be the answer. But what I do say is that there are numerous voices in the NT. We only read the surviving ones from those times. There is no single agreed interpretation of all of the NT. There is much speculation about what certain verses say and mean. We can't know for sure if they are original sayings or if they were amended over the decades between being written and the earliest copies. None of this is a problem to me when people take the NT personally and apply it to themselves only, or perhaps say to others this is I understand it and it works for me. But when Christians say this is what Jesus definitely said and wanted, this is how one MUST understand Jesus and the other writers of the NT, this is THE 'truth' as laid out across the NT, that's when I say they have no basis for that argument. At best it is opinion.