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thormas

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thormas last won the day on September 27

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About thormas

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  1. I understand your specific concern about the gist. The gist, as detailed by Ehrman (above) seems, in part, to be found in secular sources, such as Josephus. We know that a Christian had added some parts to Josephus but historians accept his own comments on Jesus. In addition, scholars, like Ehrman, have established that Jesus existed and some of the gist is part of that history. I thought the first 6 or 7 of the 11 points of the gist list were pretty bare bones. Thus it appeared that the historical gist matches up with (some of) the gist provided by the canonical gospels. Allison is working with the sources - so that doesn't alleviate your concern. However, scholars point to sources that predate the synoptic sources and are closer to the time of the historical Jesus: Q, M and L. Ehrman says are these are "three hypothetical but highly probable" (sources) which were written, or oral, or both. In addition to the earlier sources, which probably also included gist material, we have Paul writings that predate the gospels by 20 to 40 years and are predated themselves by his conversion and apostolic activity which began a few years after the death of Jesus (around 33CE). Paul, at this time, established a connection with the earliest post-Easter followers of Jesus when he 'received' gist material and the beliefs about Jesus that were reflected in his writings. I know you might have concerns about whether or not we have the ‘original’ letters of Paul but it seems that Ehrman’s ‘working assumption’ would also apply here: we have a 'good idea' what Paul wrote in his (authentic) letters. However, I suspect your concern remains. If we accept the 'working assumption' of scholars like Allison, Ehrman and others, we have a ‘good idea of what the gospel authors wrote’ - we have their gist and general patterns of Jesus. However, as you ask, do the gospels, even if they are the originals, provide an accurate depiction of the 'gist' of the historical Jesus? It appears that some of the gist is set (see above) so I think your concern might legitimately encompass the rest of the gist which, in turn, might include Allison’s general patterns or impressions (Apocalyptic prophet, known as a wonder worker, spoke in parables, etc.). From my point of view, I believe the gospels reflect or capture the gist and/or the general patterns of the historical Jesus. In addition to the probable, earlier sources and Paul (discussed above), Hurtado and others recognize that devotional practices of the earliest Church are captured and transmitted in Paul, while Wright points to the devotional practices and stories about Jesus that were are cherished and transmitted in communities which are (hypothetically but probably) captured in pre-gospel sources, Paul and later in the synoptic gospels. Where we differ is that I think this is a sound reasoning and I accept Ehrman's 'working assumption' that we have a good idea what the authors wrote and indications (above) are that what they wrote is tied (i.e. gist and general patterns) to the historical Jesus. I should note that I am not claiming absolute certainty. Even given all this, the reading continues but my recent study has reaffirmed the reliability (we have a good idea of what the authors wrote) of the canonical gospels and also the likelihood that they accurately portray (or portray as accurately as possible) the essence of the man: as Allison notes, Jesus did and said the kinds of things that are presented in the gospel narratives.
  2. thormas

    CJM

    I agree with Joseph about wearing a cross if that's what you want to do and if it is meaningful for you. I don't wear one but I have a small cross that belonged to my Father and it continues to have meaning for me.
  3. So who's right on this subject? I am! Kidding :+} It is apparent that both Paul and I have valid points that are supported by the best scholars in the world. Repeating Bart Ehrman, whom both Paul and I like, this scholar states in the strongest terms that: "we can never 'know' what the authors wrote, if by that we mean 'know with absolute certainty....." Ehrman adds, "for most of us that doesn’t matter much.for those with a fundamentalist understanding of the Bible, it does. So, since this is a progressive Christian site, in all probability the issue of absolute certainty doesn't matter to most of us. But that is not the end of the story as Ehrman also states in the strongest terms: "let me say it clearly: it is NOT my opinion that: “We have no idea what the authors of the New Testament original wrote.” Continuing, he writes, "I’m willing to stake a position on, as a working assumption (that) I think it only makes sense to suppose we have a “good idea” about what the authors wrote. That’s a working assumption because it really does work." In one of his latest blogs, Ehrman asked, "is it reasonable to think that most of the time we have a pretty good idea what the authors originally wrote?" And his answer was, "sure." So while acknowledging Paul's concern that there is no absolute certainty, Ehrman affirms that it is reasonable that critical scholars (and others, I assume) think that most of the time the canonical sources are reliable, in that we have a 'pretty good idea' what the gospel writers wrote. And, other critical scholars agree. All acknowledge the issues, such as numerous manuscripts, many, many thousands of variations, the reasons for the variations, the type of variations (including spellings and punctuation) and the insignificance of the vast number of these variations, while already aware of significant variations, such as, the ending of Mark, the story of the adulteress, the pseudo Pauline letters, Gospel of Thomas, etc. Some of these scholars include: Larry Hurtado: "... it’s an exaggeration.... to suggest that we can’t know what the authors actually wrote. We can continue to practice NT studies with the confidence that our modern critical editions give us substantially what the Gospels authors (and other NT authors) wrote. Michael Holmes: the Gospels seem to display “....microlevel fluidity and macrolevel stability" His essay, 'Text & Transmission in the 2nd C' in the book 'Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace in Dialogue, The Reliability of the NT' suggests an answer to the question, "How well does the text of the NT as we have it in the late second/early third century reflect the state of the text in the late first century? - "there is little if any evidence of any major disruption to the text (I'll leave it to you to read it). Dale Allison: "I do not contend, because I do not believe, that all this material comes from Jesus, directly or indirectly. Nor do I insist that any of it is word-perfect memory. .....the Synoptics are not primarily records of what Jesus actually said and did but collections of impressions." To that end, Allison, agreeing with Ehrman's 'working assumption' that we have a good idea about what the authors wrote - identifies general patterns (see above). I found two other interesting consideration regarding the transmission and therefore the reliability of the gospel texts (I am still reading about both so my personal jury is still out): one is the Church Fathers who often quoted texts in their works - it seems to have been the practice, that such sources were not always cited - texts which seem to reflect what is found in the canonical gospels. The second issue is Brian Wright's work on the communal, repeated reading of texts in liturgy as a factor in the transmission of the texts. As these texts were read (early as the later 1st C and the beginning of the 2nd C) and became the property of those who heard them Wright shows that people were often concerned to have a reliable version of the wording of texts, and could object when any significant alteration was attempted of well know texts. Again, Michael Holmes noted how some early Christian texts ......particularly those that early on acquired a scriptural status and usage, exhibit “micro-level” variants. Wright’s emphasis on the role of the repeated communal reading of texts helps us to account for this. Those texts that were read out communally more frequently acquired a comparatively greater textual stability." This rights true for me and I have to explore it more. It rings true because when my daughter was very young, before she could read, there were books that we read to her constantly. After a time, she could look at a page in the book and she knew exactly, I mean exactly (again before she could read), what we were about to read to her. And god help us or any reader who made a mistake. So I get that a community or small group of people, who placed incredible value on Jesus (he was after all the way of their very salvation) and who came to value a story(s) of Jesus, would come to know these intimately and both know and be upset if the texts were changed (definitely on the macrolevel but perhaps, like my daughter also on the microlevel). Ehrman writes that "If these gist memories are accurate we have a fair outline of information about the man Jesus himself during his public life..." It appears - given the 'working assumption' - that both the gist listed by Ehrman (above) and the general patterns of Allison (above) are reliable. If so, then one (if this is important to them) simply has to make the personal decision as to whether or not s/he accepts these impressions as indicative of who Jesus was and what he did and then comes the even more personal decision: whether or not this is significance in one's life. I hope this helps (those who might be interested), I know it helped me arrive at a renewed appreciation of the reliability of the NT gospels (although I have longed agreed with Allison's contention on history vs. impressions and the patterns that he identifies.
  4. That's not an old joke Rom, it's a true statement for "a lot of Christians." Thank Satan we're on a progressive Christian site where 99.9 % don't have such a literal take on the old demon. And, thanks for playing.
  5. Thanks, that was a simple, to the point explanation.
  6. Okay, you have to explain this one a bit further.........
  7. Yeow - but why would one join such a group? Or is that the equivalent of asking why some join a white supremacist group? Do such groups actually believe in Satan?
  8. No problem though it took some time. The discussion with Paul motivated me to study the subject in more depth and that took some time and is continuing.
  9. So, in addition to Ehrman's list (above) of the gist of Jesus, I also mentioned that Dale Allison is concerned with broad patterns rather than definitive assertions that this or that saying or this or that story (including miracle stories) actually were said by Jesus or actually happened as recorded. To that end, Allison's broad patterns (the gist or adding to the gist of Jesus?) follow: "Jesus was an exorcist who interpreted his ministry in terms of the downfall of Satan; he thought highly of the Baptist; he spoke repeatedly of God as Father; he composed parables; he came into conflict with religious authorities; and, he saw himself as having a starring role in the eschatological drama that was unfolding" This material, for those who might be interested is found in his book (mentioned above) and on this site: https://www.thecontemplativelife.org/blog/historical-jesus-dale-allison-jesus-apocalyptic-prophet I have put it in a list format to match the above and Ehrman's list. Allison continues his general patterns: "Jesus had firm eschatological expectations, to which he gave frequent expression; he envisaged the advent, after suffering and persecution, of a great judgment, and after that a supernatural utopia, the kingdom of God; he thought that the night was far gone, the day at hand. Jesus probably believed himself to be not just an eschatological prophet but the personal locus of the end-time scenario, the central figure of the last judgment" Regarding miracles, Allison lists the many miracles from the gospels and, again goes to general patterns, concluding (again the source is his book, 'The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus'): "Jesus was reputed to be and thought himself to be a successful exorcist, healer and wonder-worker some who knew him believed that they had witnessed truly extraordinary event" There is an interesting section from Allison on miracles which is worth a quick read - if interested. Allison's POV is nicely summed up: "I do not contend, because I do not believe, that all this (NT gospel) material comes from Jesus, directly or indirectly. Nor do I insist that any of it is word-perfect memory. To repeat what I have said before: the Synoptics are not primarily records of what Jesus actually said and did but collections of impressions. They recount, or rather often recount, the sorts of things that he said and did, or that he could have said and done." This process and its conclusions from Allison, in combination with Ehrman's gist, and the last post (directly above) from Ehrman's blog "it only makes sense to suppose we have a “good idea” about what the authors wrote" seemingly lends itself to a considerably higher degree of 'reliability' on the gospels than some have previously allowed. It seems there is the 'historical gist' that can be had from the gospels and also general patterns or impressions (there is a certain degree of overlap). There is the audio of an Allison lecture at Duke on his book at the very end of the blog posted at the beginning of this post. So, in answer to Joseph's question this is my take on the gist (gist including- or combined with - general pattern): it is all borrowed from the experts as such expertise is not mine.
  10. For those who have an interest, this might be interesting (underlining is mine). The latest from Bart Ehrman on his blog (definitely worth a read - I'll give a few highlights): https://ehrmanblog.org/misconstruing-my-words-can-we-know-what-the-authors-of-the-new-testament-originally-said/ "We have far more manuscripts of the New Testament than for any other book from antiquity..........The bad news is that these manuscripts all have differences in them. ..........the vast majority of these differences are completely insignificant and immaterial, picayune variations......... It doesn’t affect the meaning in the least. So let me say it clearly: it is NOT my opinion that: “We have no idea what the authors of the New Testament original wrote.” My view is that we do have good ideas about what they wrote. Most of the time. But not all of the time...........other differences, though, the minority, that do indeed affect the meaning of the text. And some of *those* we can’t agree on. And some of them matter. So, short story. We have lots of manuscripts of the NT. These have an incredible number of differences among them. Most of the differences don’t matter at all. Others matter a little or even a lot. Most of the time scholars agree on what the originals said. But not all of the time. Those are facts. Beyond the facts, my view, which I will go to the mat for, is that we can never “know” what the authors wrote, if by that we mean “know with absolute certainty” (the fact that scholars agree on the original text does not mean it *is* the original text!) For most of us that doesn’t matter much. For those with a fundamentalist understanding of the Bible, it does. At the same time, another view I’m willing to stake a position on, as a workingassumption I think it only makes sense to suppose we have a “good idea” about what the authors wrote. That’s a working assumption because it really does work. "
  11. Isaiah, I like Burl's bigger question but you or any of us can ask any question, large or small, and others will or will not engage.
  12. It is the case that the exploitation of any human being, regardless of orientation is wrong or, in religious terms, sin. It is also the case that if one actually worships another human being, rather than God, at least from a religious perspective, that is sin (some without a religious persuasion might consider it wrong). Of course, if we say of a man that he 'worships' his wife, that is not in the same category and is judged to be a good thing and she a happy woman (and vice versa). As for lust, on the surface that seems essential to a healthy love relationship. Although, if we want to get technical, to lust suggests that one 'desires' the other for oneself and not for (the sake of) the other - lust in this case would be judged by many to be wrong and for the religious person, sin. I have not done a study of the bible on homosexuality, so I trust, as you say, that it does not condemn homosexual. However it it did, I would have to say this particular 'insight' was wrong.
  13. Those Apostolic Fathers are always causing trouble - must have been fun in their day (or not).
  14. Yet some of those scholars are truly interested and believe that a 'correct'or a better interpretation can aid others in their understanding and appreciation of the scriptures.
  15. I do get your point but, even acknowledging this, the postmodern concerns are also of interest to me (within reason) - although they actually have nothing to do with one's 'salvation,' atonement or deification.
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