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PaulS

Was Paul gay?

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2 hours ago, PaulS said:

I think I'm referring to just about every biblical scholar I've ever read  Thormas.  As far as what I understand, there is no single, complete book from the NT discovered that pre-dates the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus (both dated around roughly 350CE).  Admittedly there are 'fragments' of other manuscripts but I am not aware of any complete originals or 'copies' of originals prior to the above-mentioned.  I don't think we need to go into chapter and verse of every piece of biblical scholarship, so I hope it suffices to say that much of what I lean on comes from Bart Erhmann himself, or other scholarly work that he has quoted.  I'm not restricted to Erhmann and have read several other scholars concerning different bits and pieces, but I don't keep records so find it a bit hard to recall who said what and when.  

To say that we have 'relatively complete' copies of the Gospels dating around 200CE is certainly a stretch.  The oldest 'fragment' we have of Mark for instance dates c250CE and contains 8 of the 15 chapters attributed to Mark - so nearly half of what is later attributed to the Gospel of Mark is missing until we get to the Codex Sinaiticus.  And this is the book that some would regard as the most accurate about Jesus and what he said/did (maybe there's a reason much of it went missing in the early centuries?).  It is a similar case for many of the other books - some fair better than others, but there are many books that fair a lot worse.

Yes, scribes at the time were copying something (presumably) but they were also altering the texts and adding things they thought needed to be added.  I wonder how pentecostal snake handling sects who drank poison felt when they found out that the ending of Mark that they so heavily relied upon was a lie?  We only know it was a lie because we found older manuscripts.  So essentially, we don't know what we don't know because we don't have the original manuscripts.

I am not throwing out the baby with the bathwater but simply saying that evidence is evidence - we can't change the definition - and if the originals don't exist, and there are large gaps between our earliest versions and later ones, then how can one say everything is hunky dory with the later versions.  It simply can't be logically concluded. Particularly in light of the evidence we have for tampering with the older version of the manuscripts.

Oxams razor - what is more likely - that the texts remain unchanged throughout hundreds of years of translation and copying, even in light of evidence of editing (some instances significant and thousands less so), or at best we say we have what we have and who knows precisely which missing bits from the earliest available manuscripts are 100% correct or not.

I agree it is fascinating stuff and often I have imagined being a Bart Erhmann or other who has gone down this career path.  And I certainly agree with you that these books are mostly 'faith statements' but as you know yourself, some people holds these words up as the dictated or inspired word of God and we have all seen the damage adhering to the bible word for word has caused throughtout time.  That is just why I find it paramount to be honest about what we have and what we don't have.

First, apologizes as I was not clear when I repeated myself in a later response: I first said, "by the middle of that century, most of the NT canon (general content - 20 of 27 books) were known and accepted by the Church." In particular, Irenaeus cited the gospels; referencing this, Ehrman spoke of the 'relatively complete' copies of the Gospels dating from around 200CE. My understanding was that he was saying the photo-orthodox Church, in this specific example, Irenaeus, had/knew the gospels, considered them authoritative and cited them. In a later response, I said 'we had them' but did not mean to suggest that we, in the 21st C, but the Church of that era. So, again, apologies for the lack of clarity. Now, these, like ours, are copies; originals from the hands of the actual writers don't exist. However, my point was and remains that the 'Church' had 21 of the 27 books around 200 CE (and I believe Justin refers to them, without author attribution, earlier in the 2nd C) - books that later were the canon.

So whereas you said, the "closest we have to the 'real thing' concerning the NT books and letters dates some 300 years after Jesus" I was making the point that the real thing we had in the mid 4th C was already 'had' by the photo-orthodox expression of Christianity, the one that 'won out.' As to whether what existed from the writers' hands was identical to what the Church had in the mid to late 2nd C and, in turn, identical to the Codex cited - who knows to what degree? I agree with Ehrman and others about the issues with scribes, both mistakes and 'corrections' and also that, as is obvious Mark's 2nd ending was added and someone(s) wrote in Paul's name. So, it is a stretch that we have relatively complete copies dating back to 200 CE but it is seemingly not a stretch that the 'Church' had them.

I like Ehrman a great deal and living near Chapel Hill, NC have gone to a few classes with him that run for about 4hours on a Friday and another 4 hours on a Saturday. I have never seen an empty chair. In addition to him, I read others to include Luke Timothy Johnson, Dale Allison, Dunn, Wright, Levine, Fredriksen, Brown and others. So, I was simply wondering who you read.

I am unfamiliar with the theory of the missing Mark, so on that I would definitely like to have a source. And what other books fair a lot worse? And what do you mean about the pentecostal snake handling sects? Who were they, did they accept Mark? Did they not accept the 2nd ending?  Source? I am truly curious as you might be reading different scholars. And, I guess this is what I mean about the bathwater and the baby, you seem to see the glass half empty or perhaps totally empty because we can't know - whereas, I recognize we don't have originals but even with 'changes' real or suspected, I allow that there is some considerable consistency from Jesus, the oral tradition, the writings, the gospels and letters, and their 'transmission' to Justin, Irenaeus and beyond. Plus I don't consider myself locked to the Christian take on God: it is the understanding of a man, Jesus and the understanding of others about him and God; I look to that as a valued source but I too, as a human, have the freedom (and responsibility) to gather insights from whatever sources and in the end, make my own interpretation, have my own understanding. I take nothing as 'gospel' but so far the Christian 'insight' speaks to how I understand.  

There was never any evidence if we recognize the gospels are faith statements - not histories and/or biographies. One example of unhelpful evidence: there is considerable agreement from Ehrman and other mentioned above that the 'evidence' strongly suggest that Jesus expected the Kingdom to be established by God in the lifetime of his followers - so let's say by 60CE. He was wrong! Never happened. So what if the scholarly opinion agrees that there is sufficient biblical evidence to support this understanding of Jesus ? He was wrong! So much for 'evidence.' This is not my understanding regardless of what Jesus, gospel writers, bishops, popes and generations of Christians believe. Again, I think it is perfectly okay to say, I disagree with Jesus. Plus I would have to reread some authors to determine how large the 'gaps' are - and how would we know the size without the originals?

Finally, some do indeed take this all as the literal word of God but they won't stop based on scholarly findings or because some of us present honest information about their books - what I have found that works is to play Socrates, ask questions and then more questions, then get the 'accepted' answers and, gently, throw even more questions out. Let them get confused (some already are), see problems and contradictions with their answers and, eventually, there are possibilities..........I use to walk into a classroom of Catholic high school seniors (who were raised and believed in an all-powerful, loving God) and tell a story of a the people on a plane. I gave great details of the young woman, just a few years older than them, going to meet a guy she was crazy about, s mother with her infant, a small boy traveling alone, a father returning from a business trip, having just talked to his HS kids before take off, and on and on - they could 'see' these people, they knew these people (in their own lives). And then I had the plane crash and two people survive, only two - all the others dead, nothing left. As class ended, I described again the Catholic belief about God (loving, all-powerful, all good) and then, right before the bell rang for the end of class, I would ask, almost shouting, "Where the hell was God?" Class the next day was interesting............And so we began.

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6 hours ago, thormas said:

I am unfamiliar with the theory of the missing Mark, so on that I would definitely like to have a source. And what other books fair a lot worse? And what do you mean about the pentecostal snake handling sects? Who were they, did they accept Mark? Did they not accept the 2nd ending?  Source? I am truly curious as you might be reading different scholars. And, I guess this is what I mean about the bathwater and the baby, you seem to see the glass half empty or perhaps totally empty because we can't know - whereas, I recognize we don't have originals but even with 'changes' real or suspected, I allow that there is some considerable consistency from Jesus, the oral tradition, the writings, the gospels and letters, and their 'transmission' to Justin, Irenaeus and beyond. Plus I don't consider myself locked to the Christian take on God: it is the understanding of a man, Jesus and the understanding of others about him and God; I look to that as a valued source but I too, as a human, have the freedom (and responsibility) to gather insights from whatever sources and in the end, make my own interpretation, have my own understanding. I take nothing as 'gospel' but so far the Christian 'insight' speaks to how I understand.  

I don't think the missing Markan chapters is a theory, Thormas.  This is what I can find quickly to hand from a blog of Ehrmann's:

"In the debate I pointed out that our earliest copy of the Gospel of Mark was P45 (called this because it is the 45th Papyrus [hence “P”] manuscript to be catalogued), which dates to around the year 200 CE – i.e., 140 years after Mark was first written. That’s our earliest copy. Between the original of Mark and our earliest copy there were something like fourteen decades of copying, and recopying, and recopying of Mark. Year after year it was copied. And the copies were being changed at every point. And then later copies were copies of the earlier changed copies. Then those earlier changed copies were lost; as were the copies based on them; and the copies based on them. Until our earliest surviving copy, P45 – which itself is not a complete copy of Mark, but highly fragmentary. Our first complete copy of Mark dates to around the year 360 – nearly three hundred years (count them 300 years) after the “original” of Mark.

For Pentecostal snake handling sects, see these two references:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_handling

https://storycorps.org/listen/they-shall-take-up-serpents/

I certainly don't see the glass as half empty - I simply like to keep it real and not be influenced about how I 'think' it should be.  There is some consistency in Jesus' message, but then again there are huge gaps, like half of Mark missing between our earliest 'copy' (200-250CE) and the next available 'copy' 350CE.  If you want to think that we can be comfortable thinking the c200CE version of Mark is consistent with the original, even though we have nothing to show us what the original was, that's  a choice, not evidence.  But it simply cannot be regarded as evidence and/or beyond reproach.  And I think you would have to acknowledge, that with the tradition of Christians interpreting the bible and stating what God 'really' means, even small subtle changes can impact on what is taught and believed.

As for Irenaeus, who knows what version of Mark he was reading.  Was it complete?  Was it missing 7 chapters?  Had it been copied correctly in the +100 years since it had been written? Maybe it used to talk about snake handling!  We should not that just because a manuscript is th eoldest, that does not prove it is a correct copy.

I accept Wkipedia is not biblical scholarship (but I don't have a lot to hand), however it would seem that Irenaeus was no less human than the rest of us:
"Irenaeus argued that since he could trace his authority to Christ and the Gnostics could not, his interpretation of Scripture was correct.[35] He also used "the Rule of Faith",[36] a "proto-creed" with similarities to the Apostles' Creed, as a hermeneutical key to argue that his interpretation of Scripture was correct.[37]

Before Irenaeus, Christians differed as to which gospel they preferred. The Christians of Asia Minor preferred the Gospel of John. The Gospel of Matthew was the most popular overall.[38] Irenaeus asserted that four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were canonical scripture.[39] Thus Irenaeus provides the earliest witness to the assertion of the four canonical Gospels, possibly in reaction to Marcion's edited version of the Gospel of Luke, which Marcion asserted was the one and only true gospel.[7][25]

I wonder where we might be today if somebody else's argument had won out over Irenaeus'?  What if earlier Christians meant a more relaxed view of 'scripture' than some Christians take today.

It is completely fair enough that you don't lock yourself to the Christian take on God.  I don't either.  I think people are free to take and leave whatever the want about Jesus (within historical reason) and I do not subscribe to any theory of some divine being sitting behind the curtain waiting for us to get it right, or wrong.  So when i discuss these matters it is simply based on fact, and not personal opinion or interpretation.  I ask questions which we don't seem to have answers.  I challenge people who say "God means this when he says that in the bible" because I don't think we can know for sure what was meant at the time of writing, often, or even if it was written by who the author pretends to be.

Now if you want to speculate what something means to you or what you think it may mean, that is a different story, and I genuinely enjoying discussing why one thinks like that and why I might have the same or different opinion.  Maybe it's my police experience from decades ago but I see 'evidence' as being of two calibres - 1) beyond all reasonable doubt, and 2)on the balance of probabilities.  Both are different, but I see much of Christianity sitting in the latter category, whereas some Christians are rude, arrogant and know it all when they put everything from the Bible in the first category (I am not referring to you).  So I enjoy the discussion.

Quote

Finally, some do indeed take this all as the literal word of God but they won't stop based on scholarly findings or because some of us present honest information about their books - what I have found that works is to play Socrates, ask questions and then more questions, then get the 'accepted' answers and, gently, throw even more questions out. Let them get confused (some already are), see problems and contradictions with their answers and, eventually, there are possibilities..........I use to walk into a classroom of Catholic high school seniors (who were raised and believed in an all-powerful, loving God) and tell a story of a the people on a plane. I gave great details of the young woman, just a few years older than them, going to meet a guy she was crazy about, s mother with her infant, a small boy traveling alone, a father returning from a business trip, having just talked to his HS kids before take off, and on and on - they could 'see' these people, they knew these people (in their own lives). And then I had the plane crash and two people survive, only two - all the others dead, nothing left. As class ended, I described again the Catholic belief about God (loving, all-powerful, all good) and then, right before the bell rang for the end of class, I would ask, almost shouting, "Where the hell was God?" Class the next day was interesting............And so we began.

I gotta say, apart from participating here, I don't discuss these matters anywhere else because zero/nil/zilch of my circle of friends and family care to discuss these matters.  So I enjoy any debate and/or sharing here.  I just find it hard being told something is what it is not.  Again, I don't think you're preaching that, but others do of course.

 

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I understand about the copying, what I was asking about was your statement, "and this is the book that some would regard as the most accurate about Jesus and what he said/did (maybe there's a reason much of it went missing in the early centuries?)." You seem to be suggesting something deliberate, maybe a conspiracy rather than the happenstance of repeated copying. So I was asking about scholars who speak to any deliberate attempt to 'lose' Mark - the most accurate gospel.

Plus, a question for Ehrman that I will have to explore: he assumes recopying every year? Even to my ear that sounds like overkill even for Christians. 

I will read about the snake handlers but always a bit cautious when it's wikipedia. Plus I thought it was an ancient sect not 20 th C. But does their belief rely on the 2nd ending of Mark or the serpent passage? As for comfort levels with Mark, there is no evidence to indicate how much or little there is in common from the original to the relatively complete Mark that Irenaeus had. So we are both making a choice without evidence.  I did not look into Irenaeus' Mark, merely took Ehrman's 'relatively complete' Mark that he cited but I will delve into it a bit more (don't know if he was into snakes?). 

Of course Irenaeus was human and he was highly partisan (he firmly believed the 'photo-orthodox version, fought what he thought was heresy and thought his faith was right) and we already recognized the many Christianities - so I'm in agreement here. Some expressions had totally different books, many now lost, that they considered scripture, others, as you note, decided on 1 of the 4 and Irenaeus believed to have the complete picture, the real faith, all 4 must be considered together. Will have to check: Irenaeus wanted all 4 to be considered together (to be the true faith) but did he consider the other groups, who favored John or Matthew to have different versions? As for your question, we'll never know I guess.

I go even further in that it is not simply a matter of not knowing what was originally written: I simply don't believe God meant anything, it is man's take on God.I think you agree.

You were police and seem to have a very conservative group in your life, I was a theology teacher (surrounded by Catholics but none over the top) and it was my job (plus it was fun) to have these discussions and challenge and teach -  before I went into business. I like the idea of balance of probabilities but I have no real problem with all the copying as it was what i was and is very human. I find enough in whatever books we have to consider how other thought about God, weigh it and make my own decisions (plus the occasional fragment shows up and causes havoc - a bit like a guest some shun and others welcome). We will probably always have 'true believers' who think God guided the entire process and his Word has come to us intact. Can't do much with that, except the occasional debate like Ehrman (and Spong had) has with some of these people.

 

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A possible difference between us is that I assume you were raised Protestant (but not positive) while I was raised Catholic. Protestants were brought up on the book, we concentrated on the sacraments. I remember in great detail practice for first communion, first confession, confirmation and marriage prep (which I did as a nicety until I started to debate the priest who ignored by Protestant bride to be. We, Catholics, heard the weekly readings but did not focus on the bible; I never had a class on the Bible all through Catholic schooling to 12 grade. So without this focus, I find that I am intrigued by the bible and biblical scholarship but it never ruled in my life. 

I could be wrong on your upbringing and it is not about which is better, merely noting the difference in expressions.

 

Edited by thormas

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2 hours ago, thormas said:

A possible difference between us is that I assume you were raised Protestant (but not positive) while I was raised Catholic. Protestants were brought up on the book, we concentrated on the sacraments. I remember in great detail practice for first communion, first confession, confirmation and marriage prep (which I did as a nicety until I started to debate the priest who ignored by Protestant bride to be. We, Catholics, heard the weekly readings but did not focus on the bible; I never had a class on the Bible all through Catholic schooling to 12 grade. So without this focus, I find that I am intrigued by the bible and biblical scholarship but it never ruled in my life. 

I could be wrong on your upbringing and it is not about which is better, merely noting the difference in expressions.

 

I'm not sure what the issue is with any differences of upbringing (but yes, I was brought up as a 'proper' christian and not one of those misguided Catholics who worshipped false gods (the Pope and Mary) :) - yes, we were taught that!). 

I too am intrigued by biblical scholarship but it doesn't rule my life.  But where all of this conversation generated from was you asking me to clarify what I meant about the oldest copies we have of NT writings being potentially inaccurate.  I think I have demonstrated (certainly for Mark) that we can't say much about the original other than supposition.  The 8 chapters we do have some 150 years after the original may be incorrect and the balance of the 'original' dates some 300 years after the original was written, so who can say how accurate it is.  That is my only point.  Enjoy it for what it is - certainly.  Quote it verbatim as an exact copy of the original and we have an issue. :)

 

 

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30 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I'm not sure what the issue is with any differences of upbringing (but yes, I was brought up as a 'proper' christian and not one of those misguided Catholics who worshipped false gods (the Pope and Mary) :) - yes, we were taught that!). 

I too am intrigued by biblical scholarship but it doesn't rule my life.  But where all of this conversation generated from was you asking me to clarify what I meant about the oldest copies we have of NT writings being potentially inaccurate.  I think I have demonstrated (certainly for Mark) that we can't say much about the original other than supposition.  The 8 chapters we do have some 150 years after the original may be incorrect and the balance of the 'original' dates some 300 years after the original was written, so who can say how accurate it is.  That is my only point.  Enjoy it for what it is - certainly.  Quote it verbatim as an exact copy of the original and we have an issue. :)

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Perhaps no difference but I was always informed that the Protestants were more governed (for lack of a better word right now) by the Biblical Word (and more versed in it) and the Catholics, less so and truly 'into' the sacraments. 

 

Twas an enjoyable discussion. Thanks.

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12 minutes ago, thormas said:

Perhaps no difference but I was always informed that the Protestants were more governed (for lack of a better word right now) by the Biblical Word (and more versed in it) and the Catholics, less so and truly 'into' the sacraments. 

 

Twas an enjoyable discussion. Thanks.

Well I can't speak for all Protestants but our faction was of the fundamental variety (I think we've discussed this before) where the bible is literally THE word of God, doubting it is heresy, and challenging it in any way, shape or form is the devil at work putting doubt in your mind.  So I think I am, in a way, protective of people who don't actually understand the truth about the veracity of these documents yet get told they are 100% accurate to the originals. 

I think it's great that you have a more 'relaxed' way of looking at the bible (as one should IMO) but clearly there are those who don't and who will belittle and scoff at others as being 'unknowledgable'.  So maybe I am a little sensitive about the issue, but I think it's an important one that Christians would benefit from being reminded of - we can assume all we want but the reality is that much of the New Testament, in it's original form, is unavailable to us (currently).

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9 hours ago, thormas said:

I understand about the copying, what I was asking about was your statement, "and this is the book that some would regard as the most accurate about Jesus and what he said/did (maybe there's a reason much of it went missing in the early centuries?)." You seem to be suggesting something deliberate, maybe a conspiracy rather than the happenstance of repeated copying. So I was asking about scholars who speak to any deliberate attempt to 'lose' Mark - the most accurate gospel.

 

No. just making the point that of the 'most accurate' Gospel, we have only just over 1/2 of it available some 150 years after the original.  I'm sure you've read or heard of speculation about Jesus maybe supporting reincarnation, maybe having a relationship with Mary M, maybe he had gay tendencies?  All I am saying is that it is all speculation because we cannot say what the original said.

9 hours ago, thormas said:

I will read about the snake handlers but always a bit cautious when it's wikipedia. Plus I thought it was an ancient sect not 20 th C. But does their belief rely on the 2nd ending of Mark or the serpent passage? As for comfort levels with Mark, there is no evidence to indicate how much or little there is in common from the original to the relatively complete Mark that Irenaeus had. So we are both making a choice without evidence.  I did not look into Irenaeus' Mark, merely took Ehrman's 'relatively complete' Mark that he cited but I will delve into it a bit more (don't know if he was into snakes?). 

The snakehandlers exists and I've read other pieces about them.  A fringe group for sure but one that takes it direction from what modern scholarship identified as the false ending to Mark.  A group easily misled by somebody proclaiming this to be the true word of God and no doubt true to the original.  As for Irenaeus again - we have no idea what version of Mark he was looking at and I'm not sure how you can call it a relatively complete version when the oldest version we have of Mark is some time after Irenaeus and is far from complete (8 chapters only).  I too would be interested to understand what Ehrmann means by 'relatively complete' because as far as I'm aware, we only have Irenaeus quoting some of Mark in his writings and no document of Mark per se.  But be clear - I am not making any choices without evidence - I am merely pointing out what the actual evidence truly is.

9 hours ago, thormas said:

I go even further in that it is not simply a matter of not knowing what was originally written: I simply don't believe God meant anything, it is man's take on God.I think you agree.

You were police and seem to have a very conservative group in your life, I was a theology teacher (surrounded by Catholics but none over the top) and it was my job (plus it was fun) to have these discussions and challenge and teach -  before I went into business. I like the idea of balance of probabilities but I have no real problem with all the copying as it was what i was and is very human. I find enough in whatever books we have to consider how other thought about God, weigh it and make my own decisions (plus the occasional fragment shows up and causes havoc - a bit like a guest some shun and others welcome). 

I most definitely agree it is man's take on God throughout the bible.  And i completely recognise that my experience with Christianity growing up has it sticking in my craw when people teach the accuracy of the bible (but I think I'm going over old ground).

Yes, I was police and although I grew up conservative, that isn't my life today (or so I think).  I think I lean more right than left but I don't think I'm a conservative (pro-choice, pro-euthanasia, against the death penalty, pro-gay rights, believe in climate change :) ).   My family are conservative which is why they won't discuss these matters but I see little of them really.  My friends simply have no interest in this because they have never been associated with Christianity much and frankly couldn't care less about the bible (my wife included).

9 hours ago, thormas said:

We will probably always have 'true believers' who think God guided the entire process and his Word has come to us intact. Can't do much with that, except the occasional debate like Ehrman (and Spong had) has with some of these people.

We will, and all power to them if that is what they chose to believe, it's just that evidence is not in their favour.

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On ‎2017‎-‎11‎-‎26 at 2:42 PM, thormas said:

Well don't leave us hanging Rom, suggest some 'up to date' scholarly books on Paul, biblical scholarship and early Christian history that, having read, you think might help. I love recommendations. I seem to be current - ordering new books on Paul and early Christianity (by authors previously read) and referencing other books for our topics. Furthermore, the info on Irenaeus is out there and has been for a while, regardless of when the scholar wrote his/her book.

Already set on gay rights, so OK there - as for Paul it is simply an intriguing topic for some, although not earth shaking by any means - and it is the topic of the thread.

You missed my point  Thormas

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1 hour ago, PaulS said:

No. just making the point that of the 'most accurate' Gospel, we have only just over 1/2 of it available some 100 years after the original.  I'm sure you've read or heard of speculation about Jesus maybe supporting reincarnation, maybe having a relationship with Mary M, maybe he had gay tendencies?  All I am saying is that it is all speculation because we cannot say what the original said.

.............Ok, just sounded like a dark conspiracy but it isn't, good.

The snakehandlers exists and I've read other pieces about them.  A fringe group for sure but one that takes it direction from what modern scholarship identified as the false ending to Mark.  A group easily misled by somebody proclaiming this to be the true word of God and no doubt true to the original.  As for Irenaeus again - we have no idea what version of Mark he was looking at and I'm not sure how you can call it a relatively complete version when the oldest version we have of Mark is some time after Irenaeus and is far from complete (8 chapters only).  I too would be interested to understand what Ehrmann means by 'relatively complete' because as far as I'm aware, we only have Irenaeus quoting some of Mark in his writings and no document of Mark per se.  But be clear - I am not making any choices without evidence - I am merely pointing out what the actual evidence truly is.

........I didn't find that, do you have a source about them and Mark? As for Irenaeus, I was going on what Ehrman wrote. Will recheck. 

I most definitely agree it is man's take on God throughout the bible.  And i completely recognise that my experience with Christianity growing up has it sticking in my craw when people teach the accuracy of the bible (but I think I'm going over old ground).

...........not so much a problem for me, although our experiences seem very different. For me, it was tragically and simply human but maybe we (humanity, Christians) can 'fix' it - eventually.

Yes, I was police and although I grew up conservative, that isn't my life today (or so I think).  I think I lean more right than left but I don't think I'm a conservative (pro-choice, pro-euthanasia, against the death penalty, pro-gay rights, believe in climate change :) ).   My family are conservative which is why they won't discuss these matters but I see little of them really.  My friends simply have no interest in this because they have never been associated with Christianity much and frankly couldn't care less about the bible (my wife included).

..........I lean left and I went to college with guys who are still my best friends and we are comfortable discussing this - my wife doesn't care but that is ok, as it is something I like.

We will, and all power to them if that is what they chose to believe, it's just that evidence is not in their favour.

.................It is not just the evidence issue, it is a mis-reading or a mis-understanding of Reality (in my opinion).

 

 

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57 minutes ago, romansh said:

You missed my point  Thormas

Oh, well but the good news is the books are up to date. So no worries.

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22 hours ago, thormas said:

Oh, well but the good news is the books are up to date. So no worries.

Well I get it if it just an interest like crossword puzzles ... by all means hone one's skills for other debates.

But if we think it has some bearing on any of today's issues? In fact I would argue it would have little bearing for any thinking person of yesteryear, at least one who could think past the infection of any deleterious memes we may have contracted.

 

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1 hour ago, romansh said:

Well I get it if it just an interest like crossword puzzles ... by all means hone one's skills for other debates.

But if we think it has some bearing on any of today's issues? In fact I would argue it would have little bearing for any thinking person of yesteryear, at least one who could think past the infection of any deleterious memes we may have contracted.

Rom: a swing, a miss.

You assume too much (plus I never liked crossword puzzles, too busy) - Paul and I were not honing debate skills, we had genuine interest in the subject (evident in the sharing), had disagreements but continued - and I was motivated to do additional reading, thankful for the exchange and look forward to further discussions on a range of topics of interest to thinking people. 

Participation is optional and we don't all take part in each and every thread. So................ 

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3 hours ago, thormas said:

Rom: a swing, a miss.

You assume too much (plus I never liked crossword puzzles, too busy) - Paul and I were not honing debate skills, we had genuine interest in the subject (evident in the sharing), had disagreements but continued - and I was motivated to do additional reading, thankful for the exchange and look forward to further discussions on a range of topics of interest to thinking people. 

Participation is optional and we don't all take part in each and every thread. So................ 

OK fair enough ... you have a particular interest whether Paul was a repressed homosexual ... what about any of the other characters of the time? And does it matter whether Paul had these sexual appetites?

 

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8 hours ago, romansh said:

OK fair enough ... you have a particular interest whether Paul was a repressed homosexual ... what about any of the other characters of the time? And does it matter whether Paul had these sexual appetites?

Wrong again! Read............the thread.

Most of the responses on this thread were about the books and canon of the NT - it moved from the title topic pretty fast.  

I actually don't care about Paul's sexuality - one way or the other (nor, given his letters, is there any there, there - to make a determination). Rather, I am interested in his letters (his theology)- the letters that were actually his - and I don't agree with all of what Paul wrote. I would have to go back and check but I have read, all or part of 5 books on Paul and the concentration is not his sexuality,  - it is not even mentioned (if memory serves). This, is in part, a Spong thing - and as previously mentioned, I part with Spong (not a biblical scholar) on some of his comments/conclusions. 

As for other characters, see above.

But if you have an interest in the sexuality of other figures in the NT or if you think such appetites matter- start a thread.

Edited by thormas

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18 hours ago, romansh said:

OK fair enough ... you have a particular interest whether Paul was a repressed homosexual ... what about any of the other characters of the time? And does it matter whether Paul had these sexual appetites?

 

I find it of some interest but admit it can really only be speculation. 

However, imagine if it could be substantiated that Pay was gay - what that could mean to millions and millions of Christians who currently hold and quote Paul's writings as confirmation God considers homosexuality an abomination!  It might not be an issue for you but there are certainly millions of gay people persecuted because of how many interpret Paul's writings (and other biblical passages).  Open discussion and further learnings may eventually swing that tide (one can only hope).

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

I find it of some interest but admit it can really only be speculation. 

However, imagine if it could be substantiated that Pay was gay - what that could mean to millions and millions of Christians who currently hold and quote Paul's writings as confirmation God considers homosexuality an abomination!  It might not be an issue for you but there are certainly millions of gay people persecuted because of how many interpret Paul's writings (and other biblical passages).  Open discussion and further learnings may eventually swing that tide (one can only hope).

Same sex relationships were an accepted part of biblical era Roman and Greek culture.  Gay and homosexual are contemporary concepts which did not seem to exist in 1C society.

Scholarship, not ignorant speculation, is what we need.

 

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1 hour ago, Burl said:

Same sex relationships were an accepted part of biblical era Roman and Greek culture.  Gay and homosexual are contemporary concepts which did not seem to exist in 1C society.

Scholarship, not ignorant speculation, is what we need.

 

It's far from ignorant Burl and there is merit to the discussion, even f you don't see that.  Much biblical scholarship comes from speculation in the first instance, which leads to probing and eventually sometimes, a better understanding.  However the information I raise about Paul has in fact been raised by biblical scholars and theologians such as Spong..  Maybe he's wrong, but he makes more of an argument for Paul being gay than you do for him not being gay.  But of course, you don't make any assumptions about Paul's sexuality (other than it's ignorant to propose he may have been gay).

 

 

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1 hour ago, PaulS said:

It's far from ignorant Burl and there is merit to the discussion, even f you don't see that.  Much biblical scholarship comes from speculation in the first instance, which leads to probing and eventually sometimes, a better understanding.  However the information I raise about Paul has in fact been raised by biblical scholars and theologians such as Spong..  Maybe he's wrong, but he makes more of an argument for Paul being gay than you do for him not being gay.  But of course, you don't make any assumptions about Paul's sexuality (other than it's ignorant to propose he may have been gay).

 

 

What I am saying is that the social constructs  "gay" and "homosexual" did not exist in biblical times as we know them today.  Same sex sex was a socially acceptable behavior in Roman, Mithraic and Hellenic cultures.  Male/female couples engaged in this behavior.  Male/male sex between adults and pederast/catamite relationships between men and boys were also socially normative.

Ignoring this is, by definition, ignorance.  I use this word specifically and not as a general purjurotive. 

The idea of arguing for Paul 'not being gay' is absurd.  It is a "when did you stop beating your wife question".  Claims and speculations require evidence, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  You are the required to support your statement, and you have nothing except completely unfounded guesswork.

Jesus criticized both fornication and adultery.  Same sex relations fit within this range of behaviors, but Jesus did not mention it specifically.  Paul touches on same sex relations as an examplar a couple times but never compares different types of sexual sins either.

 

Edited by Burl

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I thought we were done with poor Paul. Given the acceptance of same sex relationship in that era and in certain cultures, it seems one would still have to wonder if Paul indulged. Of course he lived in a 'Hellenic culture' but he was still not only a practicing Jew but one, so 'taken with it,' that he actively defended it by his actions as Saul. That and his apocalyptic take on the Kingdom/Jesus might weigh against him being sexually active. But who knows? At this point in time and biblical scholarship, it appears unanswerable. For me (although I don't give it much priority), given his faith and view of the 'end' - the odds seem to lean against same (any?) sex relationships. But, again, I don't know. And, I don't care - it does not impact my belief or values.

Spong was/is a big supporter of those who should not be persecuted or ostracized because of their sexuality and a 'gay' Paul might ease the way to change views. But one wonders if Spong's passion led him to look for 'evidence' that biblical scholars did not find - and was not there. I think the alternative that many people have gone to is they simply don't accept previous Christian or religious (ore even secular) condemnation of same sex orientation or practice. They have simply said 'we disagree' and the result is a much more accepting world (or parts of that world) and eventually/hopefully the rest of the world will catch up. The world changed, our worldview changed: greater understanding of how we grow into our humanity, greater understanding of human sexuality, knowing people who have revealed themselves as gay/lesbian has had its impact and we have simply said (whether Paul was gay or not), the bible is wrong and we can use the bible, if necessary, to defend this position: the teaching on Love, Paul's understanding that we are all one in Christ. 

I don't need a gay Paul to accept my gay brother, the 5 lesbian women or the gay priest who taught with me years ago in a Catholic high school or a college friend's childhood family of 8, half of whom were gay, while the other 4 were straight. 

 

Edited by thormas

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There is more evidence of alien abductions and the yowie than of Paul's sexuality.  An absurd and intellectually null subject, and probably the one most responsible for the marginalization of Spong's better ideas.

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7 hours ago, Burl said:

There is more evidence of alien abductions and the yowie than of Paul's sexuality.  An absurd and intellectually null subject, and probably the one most responsible for the marginalization of Spong's better ideas.

You are entitled to your opinion Burl, but to call any discussion on biblical interpretation about Paul being gay as absurd and intellectually null, is frankly, absurd and intellectually null.  It is disingenuous in the least to pretend that hard evidence to the contrary exists.  Perhaps Paul wasn't gay, but even you would have to admit that Spong makes a case (the strength for which is judged to varying degrees).  Just as I do not think it is absurd or intellectually null to discuss the potential for alien abductions or the yowie (even though I am reasonably confident the evidence doesn't support either), there is genuine reason to consider Paul being a repressed gay man if one takes the effort to look at him that way instead of blocking it out as though it is a complete impossibility.  Why that should be so outrageous to anyone is beyond me.  Paul may also well have led the choir, again - not beyond the realms of possibility (although maybe unlikely) but one should feel free to discuss those things without being belittled.

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25 minutes ago, PaulS said:

You are entitled to your opinion Burl, but to call any discussion on biblical interpretation about Paul being gay as absurd and intellectually null, is frankly, absurd and intellectually null.  It is disingenuous in the least to pretend that hard evidence to the contrary exists.  Perhaps Paul wasn't gay, but even you would have to admit that Spong makes a case (the strength for which is judged to varying degrees).  Just as I do not think it is absurd or intellectually null to discuss the potential for alien abductions or the yowie (even though I am reasonably confident the evident doesn't support either), there is genuine reason to consider Paul being a repressed gay man if one takes the effort to look at him that way instead of blocking it out as though it is a complete impossibility.  Why that should be so outrageous to anyone is beyond me.  Paul may also well have led the choir, again - not beyond the realms of possibility (although maybe unlikely) but one should feel free to discuss those things without being belittled.

I'm taking a firm stand right in the middle: I don't think the discussion of a gay Paul is absurd and intellectually null (however it is frustrating because there is no answer) but I question if Spong even makes a case (or, at  the very least, it is certainly not, in my opinion, a strong one). To me Spong is forced (for reasons given earlier). However, I will revisit Spong just for argument sake. I agree with what Borg said of Spong (cited earlier) and recognize that Spong is not a critical biblical scholar.  

To me it is not outrageous to speculate (that Paul or anyone is gay) but 'the only genuine reason' is, I think, speculative in itself: it is and can only be an exercise in speculation.

And I agree, no belittling (unless it's biblical aliens) just don't participate if it is not of interest or seems too 'off the wall.'

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On ‎2017‎-‎11‎-‎29 at 3:30 PM, PaulS said:

I find it of some interest but admit it can really only be speculation. 

However, imagine if it could be substantiated that Pay was gay - what that could mean to millions and millions of Christians who currently hold and quote Paul's writings as confirmation God considers homosexuality an abomination!  It might not be an issue for you but there are certainly millions of gay people persecuted because of how many interpret Paul's writings (and other biblical passages).  Open discussion and further learnings may eventually swing that tide (one can only hope).

Thank you Paul ... you understood my point and addressed it. 

Thormas apparently has an academic interest in the interpretations of texts of the sexuality of some guy 2000 years ago. You do recognize it has some relevance to today.

Now I understand this is a Progressive Christian forum and there is a tendency to look at life today through ancient texts; I get it. But then there are more modern texts and what the hell we can write our own texts on our own authority. Might result in some more original debate. :)

 

Edited by romansh

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1 hour ago, romansh said:

Now I understand this is a Progressive Christian forum and there is a tendency to look at life today through ancient texts; I get it. But then there are more modern texts and what the hell we can write our own texts on our own authority. Might result in some more original debate. :)

Edited by Burl

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