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PaulS

Who wrote the Gospels?

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Recently another poster claimed that the lack of information about the 'lost years' of Jesus' pre-Ministry life simply supported the idea that the apostles were indeed the sources for the gospels.  They were recruited when Jesus was an adult and simply had nothing to say about those earlier years.  This person went so far as to claim that although the scholarship on apostolic Gospel authorship was not bulletproof, it was 'very solid'.

I thought this was simply too basic an approach to understanding the authorship of the Gospels - particularly as it would stand to reason that simply anybody who didn't know about Jesus' childhood and adolescence would also meet this criteria and could have just as easily written the Gospels.  And indeed, any critical biblical scholarship that I am aware of confirms that we simply don't know who wrote the Gospels and actually to the contrary of the above claims, credible scholarship actually seems to debunk the Gospels having been written by any of the 12 apostles of Jesus. 

Unfortunately, to point out this difference was to be accused of  losing the plot and repeating my unsupported and cynical speculations.

So I'm interested to see if anybody else here can debate or support the notion that indeed biblical scholarship can and does distinctly demonstrate that the Gospels were written by the disciples.  I ask this in all genuineness because I simply can't find any credible, unbiased scholarship to support the notion.

To kick off, let me share Bart Erhman's views (in brief- you really need to read his book to get the complete version) to give you some idea what acclaimed scholars say about Gospels authorship and which makes sense to me:

 

Jesus And The Hidden Contradictions Of The Gospels
March 12, 2010


Bible scholar Bart Ehrman began his studies at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Originally an evangelical Christian, Ehrman believed that the Bible was the inerrant word of God. But later, as a student at Princeton Theological Seminary, Ehrman started reading the Bible with a more historical approach and analyzing contradictions in the Gospels.

Ehrman, the author of Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them), tells Terry Gross that he discourages readers from "smash[ing] the four Gospels into one big Gospel and think[ing] that [they] get the true understanding."

"When Matthew was writing, he didn't intend for somebody ... to interpret his Gospel in light of what some other author said. He had his own message," Ehrman says.

To illustrate the differences between the Gospels, Ehrman offers opposing depictions of Jesus talking about himself. In the book of John, Jesus talks about himself and proclaims who he is, saying "I am the bread of life." Whereas in Mark, Jesus teaches principally about the coming kingdom and hardly ever mentions himself directly. These differences offer clues into the perspectives of the authors, and the eras in which they wrote their respective Gospels, according to Ehrman.

"In Mark's Gospel, Jesus is not interested in teaching about himself. But when you read John's Gospel, that's virtually the only thing Jesus talks about is who he is, what his identity is, where he came from," Ehrman says. "This is completely unlike anything that you find in Mark or in Matthew and Luke. And historically it creates all sorts of problems, because if the historical Jesus actually went around saying that he was God, it's very hard to believe that Matthew, Mark and Luke left out that part — you know, as if that part wasn't important to mention. But in fact, they don't mention it. And so this view of the divinity of Jesus on his own lips is found only in our latest Gospel, the Gospel of John."

Ehrman teaches religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His book, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible, is now out in paperback.

This interview was originally broadcast on March 4, 2009

Excerpt: 'Jesus, Interrupted'
Jesus, Interrupted
JESUS, INTERRUPTED: REVEALING THE HIDDEN CONTRADICTIONS IN THE BIBLE (AND WHY WE DON'T KNOW ABOUT THEM)
BY BART D. EHRMAN
HARDCOVER, 304 PAGES
HARPERONE
LIST PRICE: $25.99
Chapter Four

Students taking a college-level Bible course for the first time often find it surprising that we don't know who wrote most of the books of the New Testament. How could that be? Don't these books all have the authors' names attached to them? Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the letters of Paul, 1 and 2 Peter, and 1, 2 and 3 John? How could the wrong names be attached to books of Scripture? Isn't this the Word of God? If someone wrote a book claiming to be Paul while knowing full well that he wasn't Paul — isn't that lying? Can Scripture contain lies?

When I arrived at seminary I was fully armed and ready for the onslaught on my faith by liberal biblical scholars who were going to insist on such crazy ideas. Having been trained in conservative circles, I knew that these views were standard fare at places like Princeton Theological Seminary. But what did they know? Bunch of liberals.

What came as a shock to me over time was just how little actual evidence there is for the traditional ascriptions of authorship that I had always taken for granted, and how much real evidence there was that many of these ascriptions are wrong. It turned out the liberals actually had something to say and had evidence to back it up; they weren't simply involved in destructive wishful thinking. There were some books, such as the Gospels, that had been written anonymously, only later to be ascribed to certain authors who probably did not write them (apostles and friends of the apostles). Other books were written by authors who flat out claimed to be someone they weren't.

In this chapter I'd like to explain what that evidence is.

Who Wrote The Gospels?

Though it is evidently not the sort of thing pastors normally tell their congregations, for over a century there has been a broad consensus among scholars that many of the books of the New Testament were not written by the people whose names are attached to them. So if that is the case, who did write them?

Preliminary Observations: The Gospels as Eyewitness Accounts

As we have just seen, the Gospels are filled with discrepancies large and small. Why are there so many differences among the four Gospels? These books are called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John because they were traditionally thought to have been written by Matthew, a disciple who was a tax collector; John, the "Beloved Disciple" mentioned in the Fourth Gospel; Mark, the secretary of the disciple Peter; and Luke, the traveling companion of Paul. These traditions can be traced back to about a century after the books were written.

But if Matthew and John were both written by earthly disciples of Jesus, why are they so very different, on all sorts of levels? Why do they contain so many contradictions? Why do they have such fundamentally different views of who Jesus was? In Matthew, Jesus comes into being when he is conceived, or born, of a virgin; in John, Jesus is the incarnate Word of God who was with God in the beginning and through whom the universe was made. In Matthew, there is not a word about Jesus being God; in John, that's precisely who he is. In Matthew, Jesus teaches about the coming kingdom of God and almost never about himself (and never that he is divine); in John, Jesus teaches almost exclusively about himself, especially his divinity. In Matthew, Jesus refuses to perform miracles in order to prove his identity; in John, that is practically the only reason he does miracles.

Did two of the earthly followers of Jesus really have such radically different understandings of who he was? It is possible. Two people who served in the administration of George W. Bush may well have radically different views about him (although I doubt anyone would call him divine). This raises an important methodological point that I want to stress before discussing the evidence for the authorship of the Gospels.

Why did the tradition eventually arise that these books were written by apostles and companions of the apostles? In part it was in order to assure readers that they were written by eyewitnesses and companions of eyewitnesses. An eyewitness could be trusted to relate the truth of what actually happened in Jesus' life. But the reality is that eyewitnesses cannot be trusted to give historically accurate accounts. They never could be trusted and can't be trusted still. If eyewitnesses always gave historically accurate accounts, we would have no need for law courts. If we needed to find out what actually happened when a crime was committed, we could just ask someone. Real-life legal cases require multiple eyewitnesses, because eyewitnesses' testimonies differ. If two eyewitnesses in a court of law were to differ as much as Matthew and John, imagine how hard it would be to reach a judgment.

A further reality is that all the Gospels were written anonymously, and none of the writers claims to be an eyewitness. Names are attached to the titles of the Gospels ("the Gospel according to Matthew"), but these titles are later additions to the Gospels, provided by editors and scribes to inform readers who the editors thought were the authorities behind the different versions. That the titles are not original to the Gospels themselves should be clear upon some simple reflection. Whoever wrote Matthew did not call it "The Gospel according to Matthew." The persons who gave it that title are telling you who, in their opinion, wrote it. Authors never title their books "according to."

Moreover, Matthew's Gospel is written completely in the third person, about what "they" — Jesus and the disciples — were doing, never about what "we" — Jesus and the rest of us — were doing. Even when this Gospel narrates the event of Matthew being called to become a disciple, it talks about "him," not about "me." Read the account for yourself (Matthew 9:9). There's not a thing in it that would make you suspect the author is talking about himself.

With John it is even more clear. At the end of the Gospel the author says of the "Beloved Disciple": "This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true" (John 21:24). Note how the author differentiates between his source of information, "the disciple who testifies," and himself: "we know that his testimony is true." He/we: this author is not the disciple. He claims to have gotten some of his information from the disciple.

As for the other Gospels, Mark was said to be not a disciple but a companion of Peter, and Luke was a companion of Paul, who also was not a disciple. Even if they had been disciples, it would not guarantee the objectivity or truthfulness of their stories. But in fact none of the writers was an eyewitness, and none of them claims to be.

Who, then, wrote these books?

Excerpted from Jesus, Interrupted by Bart D. Ehrman. Copyright 2009 by Bart D. Ehrman. Excerpted by permission of HarperOne, a member of HarperCollins Publishers.

 

 

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Is Ehrman the only Biblical scholar you have read, Paul? 

And if you read my post carefully you will find you completely misread my statement.  

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1 hour ago, Burl said:

Is Ehrman the only Biblical scholar you have read, Paul? 

And if you read my post carefully you will find you completely misread my statement.  

No, I have read a number, Burl, but I thought Ehrman was a simple summation to make the point.  Some others off the top of my head would include N T Wright, Gary Greenburg, Marcus Borg, Elaine Pagals, and John Crossan.

Would you please explain how I have completely misread your statement, Burl.

And better yet, in the spirit of this thread would you also care to contribute what you believe is solid scholarship demonstrating that the Gospels were written by Disciples.

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9 hours ago, PaulS said:

No, I have read a number, Burl, but I thought Ehrman was a simple summation to make the point.  Some others off the top of my head would include N T Wright, Gary Greenburg, Marcus Borg, Elaine Pagals, and John Crossan.

Would you please explain how I have completely misread your statement, Burl.

And better yet, in the spirit of this thread would you also care to contribute what you believe is solid scholarship demonstrating that the Gospels were written by Disciples.

This was my post :  

Quote

The lack of information about the 'lost years' simply supports the idea that the apostles were indeed the sources for the gospels.  They were recruited when Jesus was an adult and simply had nothing to say about those earlier years.

 The early childhood reports and geneologies were most likely related by Mary and Martha and retold.  

My mother told lots of infancy stories about me, but could not tell you toot about my life as teenager and young adult.  My mom could not tell you what my first car was, even though it was an olive green '68 Dodge Coronet 440 that won just about every street race and never even got a ticket 'cuz it looked like a dadmobile.

We were speculating on why the 'lost years' were absent from the gospels, not on the authorship of the gospels.  My speculation did not claim the apostles wrote anything.  I merely said the only possible use for my speculation is to support the idea that the apostles were the source of (not authors of) the gospels, which Rom pointed out is not a particularly strong argument.  Support for an idea is not proof of same.

Authorship was never even mentioned.  The fact that all the gospels are titled "according to" and not "written by" suggests other auditors wrote down the stories told by the apostles.

In any case, gospels are not histories.  They are brief, personal, and abridged versions of some of the highlights of Jesus' life as seen by different observers.

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Authorship was mentioned, by me, in several responses to you.  Did you not read that?

I can see where we have both digressed Burl.  Yes, that was ONE of your posts but your subsequent posts did build on the confusion, perhaps as did mine for you:

I said "Wouldn't that simply stand for anybody that didn't know about Jesus' childhood?  For example, any person alive during and after Jesus' adulthood that didn't experience his childhood, so more than just the apostles?  In effect the gospel sources are just as likely to be several sources removed from the apostles and/or Jesus and fail to see how it stands to reason that just because the authors didn't convey childhood stories of Jesus that one can determine the gospel authors were Apostles.

To which you responded "No.  The scholarship is not bulletproof but it is very solid".  So I think you can see why I then thought you were referring to scholarship about the authors, as that is what I was questioning to you.

So I responded with "I think you are reading different scholars than me.  Most that I am aware of acknowledge we don't know who wrote the Gospels.  Maybe those with a bias try and establish a case for them being written by Apostles.  Certainly John wasn't, so now we're down to 3 Gospels and Mathew and Luke who have borrowed from Mark don't seem to be apostolic".

But rather than clarify you chose to post "Paul, you are losing the plot and repeating your unsupported and cynical speculations".  

Personally, I think it would have been more useful to say something like "Paul, I am talking about sources, not authorship - you've moved off track" or something equally helpful to the debate.  In any event, you didn't, but for my part I apologise that I misunderstood that you intended differentiation between sources and authors. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, PaulS said:

Authorship was mentioned, by me, in several responses to you.  Did you not read that?

I can see where we have both digressed Burl.  Yes, that was ONE of your posts but your subsequent posts did build on the confusion, perhaps as did mine for you:

I said "Wouldn't that simply stand for anybody that didn't know about Jesus' childhood?  For example, any person alive during and after Jesus' adulthood that didn't experience his childhood, so more than just the apostles?  In effect the gospel sources are just as likely to be several sources removed from the apostles and/or Jesus and fail to see how it stands to reason that just because the authors didn't convey childhood stories of Jesus that one can determine the gospel authors were Apostles.

To which you responded "No.  The scholarship is not bulletproof but it is very solid".  So I think you can see why I then thought you were referring to scholarship about the authors, as that is what I was questioning to you.

So I responded with "I think you are reading different scholars than me.  Most that I am aware of acknowledge we don't know who wrote the Gospels.  Maybe those with a bias try and establish a case for them being written by Apostles.  Certainly John wasn't, so now we're down to 3 Gospels and Mathew and Luke who have borrowed from Mark don't seem to be apostolic".

But rather than clarify you chose to post "Paul, you are losing the plot and repeating your unsupported and cynical speculations".  

Personally, I think it would have been more useful to say something like "Paul, I am talking about sources, not authorship - you've moved off track" or something equally helpful to the debate.  In any event, you didn't, but for my part I apologise that I misunderstood that you intended differentiation between sources and authors. 

 

 

Misunderstandings on the internet.  It happens.  God bless you, Paul.

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4 hours ago, Burl said:

Misunderstandings on the internet.  It happens.  God bless you, Paul.

As does obfuscation Burl. 

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Just to chime in,

I don't know who wrote the Gospels . I assume the Apostles were the source but it doesn't really matter to me if they were not. To me, there is either useful teachings in them or not that i can put in practice and check for any personal positive benefit they might or might not have for me. It's my opinion  that those authors such as Ehrman, etc are spending a lot of time for their personal benefit and the seeming appearance, or possibly some real benefit  to others, that, in my view, in the name of scholarly research is irrelevant to the real teaching content usefulness. Admittedly, it does give us something to talk about or debate but at the expense of any useful teachings. 😛😄

My 2 cents

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2 hours ago, JosephM said:

Just to chime in,

I don't know who wrote the Gospels . I assume the Apostles were the source but it doesn't really matter to me if they were not. To me, there is either useful teachings in them or not that i can put in practice and check for any personal positive benefit they might or might not have for me. It's my opinion  that those authors such as Ehrman, etc are spending a lot of time for their personal benefit and the seeming appearance, or possibly some real benefit  to others, that, in my view, in the name of scholarly research is irrelevant to the real teaching content usefulness. Admittedly, it does give us something to talk about or debate but at the expense of any useful teachings. 😛😄

My 2 cents

I agree completely.  Well said.

 

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10 hours ago, JosephM said:

Just to chime in,

I don't know who wrote the Gospels . I assume the Apostles were the source but it doesn't really matter to me if they were not. To me, there is either useful teachings in them or not that i can put in practice and check for any personal positive benefit they might or might not have for me. 

My 2 cents

I agree too … but this boils down to … some blokes two thousand years ago wrote down stuff, that might be partially based or not all, on their take on what some fellow may or have done and said. We today jump through some hoops and try and interpret the writings as some guide as how we might behave today. Miss Eden (yes my kinder garden teacher) could summarize it as be nice to one and other and strive to be honest. 

10 hours ago, JosephM said:

… those authors such as Ehrman, etc are spending a lot of time for their personal benefit and the seeming appearance, or possibly some real benefit  to others, that, in my view, in the name of scholarly research is irrelevant to the real teaching content usefulness.

Well to be fair it is his job. And there seems to be academic interest and here I would stress academic. Whatever worldview we derive from these anonymous scribes might be interesting, but I personally would go for something a little more contemporary, in that we don't have to debate how the ancient Aramaic got transcribed into Greek and Hebrew and what the idiom of the day actually meant.

Edited by romansh

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6 minutes ago, romansh said:

I agree too … but this boils down to … some blokes two thousand years ago wrote down stuff, that might be partially based or not all, on their take on what some fellow may or have done and said. We today jump through some hoops and try and interpret the writings as some guide as how we might behave today. Miss Eden (yes my kinder garden teacher) could summarize it as be nice to one and other and strive to be honest. 

Well to be fair it is his job. And there seems to be academic interest and here I would stress academic. Whatever worldview we derive from these anonymous scribes might be interesting, but I personally would go for something a little more contemporary, in that we don't have to debate how the ancient Aramaic got transcribed into Greek and Hebrew and what the idiom of the day actually meant.

Rom, you went to the kindergarden of Eden?  :lol:  I figured you were old but not THAT old!

Edited by Burl

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2 minutes ago, Burl said:

Rom, you went to the kindergarden of Eden?  :lol:  I figured you were old but not THAT old!

With age comes wisdom and with wisdom comes respect. At least I am hoping.

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14 hours ago, JosephM said:

Just to chime in,

I don't know who wrote the Gospels . I assume the Apostles were the source but it doesn't really matter to me if they were not. To me, there is either useful teachings in them or not that i can put in practice and check for any personal positive benefit they might or might not have for me. It's my opinion  that those authors such as Ehrman, etc are spending a lot of time for their personal benefit and the seeming appearance, or possibly some real benefit  to others, that, in my view, in the name of scholarly research is irrelevant to the real teaching content usefulness. Admittedly, it does give us something to talk about or debate but at the expense of any useful teachings.  😛😄

My 2 cents

I don't disagree with you in the sense that if one interprets various messages in the Gospels into something that enriches their life and doesn't harm others, then what does it matter who wrote or inspired the words.

On the other hand, lots of people get told lots of 'facts' about the bible which many have since learnt aren't facts at all, and this has led to much confusion, pain and hurt.  So for some, the devil can be in the detail and these can be interesting questions for those who like to understand authorship, meaning, context etc.  

I would agree with you that I can take a Buddhist teaching, a Christian teaching, and many secular philosophical teachings and find they all may have something to offer me without me being too concerned about who actually wrote them.  But I think the value of research like Erhman's and many other biblical and historical scholars is that they can provide a context for the messages and teachings that we read.  I'm sure we could all list numerous items of scholarship that have shed better light on the bible and its contents than what was understood prior to such work being done. 

It also begs the question why anybody would even study biblical scholarship or theology if all they care about is that the message as it exists means something personal to them.  Do people get such degrees to 'learn' or do they already 'know' all the answers and just need a bit of paper to 'legitimize' their knowledge?  Do you think the scholars that teach these people spend a lot of time for their personal benefit and appearance, or do you think that they genuinely are trying to seek out truth as scholars?

You are right in saying that it does give us something to talk about or debate, but I disagree that it is at the expense of any useful teachings.  Any number of threads are available on this forum (existing and open for creation) to those who wish to discuss those matters and I of course would encourage anybody who would like to initiate such to start their own thread and get a conversation going.  It's just that in this particular thread I started, I chose to discuss authorship of the Gospels and any credible scholarly debate on the matter.  So in addition to saying there may well be some worthwhile teachings in the Gospels, I would say it doesn't hurt either to debate and discuss how these teachings came into being.  If that isn't of interest to some, then I guess they won't participate.

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8 hours ago, PaulS said:

I don't disagree with you in the sense that if one interprets various messages in the Gospels into something that enriches their life and doesn't harm others, then what does it matter who wrote or inspired the words.

On the other hand, lots of people get told lots of 'facts' about the bible which many have since learnt aren't facts at all, and this has led to much confusion, pain and hurt.  So for some, the devil can be in the detail and these can be interesting questions for those who like to understand authorship, meaning, context etc.  

I would agree with you that I can take a Buddhist teaching, a Christian teaching, and many secular philosophical teachings and find they all may have something to offer me without me being too concerned about who actually wrote them.  But I think the value of research like Erhman's and many other biblical and historical scholars is that they can provide a context for the messages and teachings that we read.  I'm sure we could all list numerous items of scholarship that have shed better light on the bible and its contents than what was understood prior to such work being done. 

It also begs the question why anybody would even study biblical scholarship or theology if all they care about is that the message as it exists means something personal to them.  Do people get such degrees to 'learn' or do they already 'know' all the answers and just need a bit of paper to 'legitimize' their knowledge?  Do you think the scholars that teach these people spend a lot of time for their personal benefit and appearance, or do you think that they genuinely are trying to seek out truth as scholars?

You are right in saying that it does give us something to talk about or debate, but I disagree that it is at the expense of any useful teachings.  Any number of threads are available on this forum (existing and open for creation) to those who wish to discuss those matters and I of course would encourage anybody who would like to initiate such to start their own thread and get a conversation going.  It's just that in this particular thread I started, I chose to discuss authorship of the Gospels and any credible scholarly debate on the matter.  So in addition to saying there may well be some worthwhile teachings in the Gospels, I would say it doesn't hurt either to debate and discuss how these teachings came into being.  If that isn't of interest to some, then I guess they won't participate.

So what is your strategy for approaching this question?  

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Nothing personal to you Paul. Discussing authorship and such is a perfectly legitimate thread. I was only offering my personal point of view or 2 cents on the matter with tongue out and smiling. 🙂

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10 hours ago, Burl said:

So what is your strategy for approaching this question?  

Got no plans to approach it.  Maybe one day I'll spend some time pondering it.

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9 hours ago, JosephM said:

Nothing personal to you Paul. Discussing authorship and such is a perfectly legitimate thread. I was only offering my personal point of view or 2 cents on the matter with tongue out and smiling. 🙂

I'm with you Joseph - wasn't taken as a personal dig.  I was just clarifying that I too see lots of good things about bible myths, stories and teachings - it's just that in this thread I was deliberately focusing on the much narrower topic of authorship and credible scholarship around that.  Maybe I should add more emojis to my text :)

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I've been posting on other Christians sites lately because of the lack of engaging dialogue here.  Remember, my earlier point was this: progressives seem to lack the integrity to even discover what the alleged conservative evidence is for an eyewitness Gospel connection.  I've waited to see whether this critique is refuted by some progressive poster.  Since it has not, I will provide my defense for this claim in my next planned posts here.

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16 hours ago, Deadworm said:

I've been posting on other Christians sites lately because of the lack of engaging dialogue here.  Remember, my earlier point was this: progressives seem to lack the integrity to even discover what the alleged conservative evidence is for an eyewitness Gospel connection.  I've waited to see whether this critique is refuted by some progressive poster.  Since it has not, I will provide my defense for this claim in my next planned posts here.

Well I am going to come to the defence of the Progressive Christians here. Depicting the conversation as not engaging is more of a reflection of your psyche than the actual conversation. As for PCs lacking integrity (in a certain aspect) could well be true of all of us. But before going around pointing out the motes in other people's eyes, perhaps you could give me a list of aspects where you lack integrity? I will find that refreshingly honest and engaging.

As for the actual subject under discussion I don't particularly care. Regardless of the provenance of the Gospels, there are plainly errors in them. 

Edited by romansh

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There are not many people playing here. 

I have been busy setting up my new blog post … but I would be interested to here where you think you lack integrity.

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How can the Gospel of Mark be connected with eyewitness testimony about Jesus?  Papias  expresses his preference for eyewitness oral testimony about Jesus' words and deeds over written works: "What was to be gleaned from books was not so profitable to me as what came from a living and abiding voice."  Papias distinguishes what disciples like John the son of Zebedee used to say orally from what still living disciples, Aristion and John the Elder were currently saying on their visits.  Papias (c. 60-130 AD) is early enough to have conversed with the eyewitnesses or to have heard what they were saying during their visits.  What Papias learns from John the Elder, probably one of the 70 disciples outside  the circle of the 12, implies that Mark provides Peter's teaching notes:

"[John] the Elder also said this: "Mark, being the interpreter of Peter, whatever he remembered, he wrote accurately, but not in order, that these things were spoken or done by our Lord.  For he neither heard the Lord nor followed Him, but afterwords, as I said, he was with Peter, who did not make an ordered account of the Lord's sayings, but constructed His teachings according to "chreiai" [= concise self-contained teachings]/  So Mark did nothing wrong in writing down single matters as he remembered them, for he gave special attention to one thing, of not passing by anything he heard and not falsifying anything in these matters (Eusebius HE 3.39.15)."

Both Papias's testimony and the unusual number of Latinisms in Mark establish Rome as the most likely locale for this  Gospel's origin.  For that reason, Justin Martyr's  reference to Mark as the memoirs of Peter is another important witness to its connection with eyewitness testimony to Jesus' life:

“And when it is said that He changed the name of one of the apostles to Peter; and when it is written in his memoirs that this so happened, as well as that He changed the names of other two brothers, the sons of Zebedee, to Boanerges, which means sons of thunder (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 106:3)." 

Mark (3:16-17)  is the only extant Gospel that records Jesus' assignment of "Boanerges" (= the Thunder Boys" or literally "the sons of thunder")  as a nickname for James and John.  The nickname likely reflects Jesus' witty response to James and John's desire to call down a lightning strike on a Samaritan village for their rude treatment there (Luke 9:52-55).  Justin's lifespan (estimated at 100-165 AD) is close enough to the NT era to have access to reliable oral tradition.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

What makes Mark uniquely credible are embarrassing details about Jesus that are not likely to be invented.  Consider these 4 cases in point.  (1) Mark implies  that Jesus tried and failed to perform miracles in His home town: "He could do no deeds of power there, except that He laid hands on a few sick people and cured them (6:5)."  NT scholars recognize the awkwardly worded except-clause as a later gloss.  If this clause were authentic , we would expect the text to read, "He could do only a few deeds of power there."

(2) the concession that Jesus' own family did not consider His ministry legitimate:                                                                                                                           "When His family heard it, they went out to physically restrain Him; for they were saying, He is out of his mind (3:21)!"                                                                     Jesus: "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own kin and in his own house (6:4)."  John 7:5 provides further support of the skepticism of Jesus' family: "Even His own brothers didn't believe in Him!"

(3) the implication in 8:22-26 that Jesus needs 2 attempts to complete the blind man's healing.

(4) Mark's willing to  quote Jesus as apparently denying His personal goodness and eve distinguishing Himself from God: "Why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone (Mark 10:18-7-18)."                                                       


 

Edited by Deadworm
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On 3/19/2019 at 4:02 AM, Deadworm said:

How can the Gospel of Mark be connected with eyewitness testimony about Jesus?  Papias  expresses his preference for eyewitness oral testimony about Jesus' words and deeds over written works: "What was to be gleaned from books was not so profitable to me as what came from a living and abiding voice."  Papias distinguishes what disciples like John the son of Zebedee used to say orally from what still living disciples, Aristion and John the Elder were currently saying on their visits.  Papias (c. 60-130 AD) is early enough to have conversed with the eyewitnesses or to have heard what they were saying during their visits.  What Papias learns from John the Elder, probably one of the 70 disciples outside  the circle of the 12, implies that Mark provides Peter's teaching notes:

Papias (who may have already had a bias seeing as he was in a position of authority within the early church) says a lot more in that preface about relying on interpretations and what he has been told that the likes of  Andrew or Peter or Philip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples 'had' said (had said to whom and was it accurate?) and seems only to reference Aristion & John her Elder as maybe people he was in touch with at the time.  To me he reads as though he's presenting his 'case' for legitimacy rather than actual evidence of legitimacy.  He has his opinion about things, which is expected, but I don't see that lending him a lot of credibility for accuracy necessarily.

On 3/19/2019 at 4:02 AM, Deadworm said:

"[John] the Elder also said this: "Mark, being the interpreter of Peter, whatever he remembered, he wrote accurately, but not in order, that these things were spoken or done by our Lord.  For he neither heard the Lord nor followed Him, but afterwords, as I said, he was with Peter, who did not make an ordered account of the Lord's sayings, but constructed His teachings according to "chreiai" [= concise self-contained teachings]/  So Mark did nothing wrong in writing down single matters as he remembered them, for he gave special attention to one thing, of not passing by anything he heard and not falsifying anything in these matters (Eusebius HE 3.39.15)."

Opinion.

On 3/19/2019 at 4:02 AM, Deadworm said:

Both Papias's testimony and the unusual number of Latinisms in Mark establish Rome as the most likely locale for this  Gospel's origin.  For that reason, Justin Martyr's  reference to Mark as the memoirs of Peter is another important witness to its connection with eyewitness testimony to Jesus' life:

I'm not convinced there's much scholar evidence to support this notion - it seems to be pure speculation.

On 3/19/2019 at 4:02 AM, Deadworm said:

Justin's lifespan (estimated at 100-165 AD) is close enough to the NT era to have access to reliable oral tradition.                                                                                                                            

And access to a lot of unreliable oral tradition, myth and story telling to.  That shouldn't be brushed over for convenience.

On 3/19/2019 at 4:02 AM, Deadworm said:

What makes Mark uniquely credible are embarrassing details about Jesus that are not likely to be invented.  Consider these 4 cases in point.  (1) Mark implies  that Jesus tried and failed to perform miracles in His home town: "He could do no deeds of power there, except that He laid hands on a few sick people and cured them (6:5)."  NT scholars recognize the awkwardly worded except-clause as a later gloss.  If this clause were authentic , we would expect the text to read, "He could do only a few deeds of power there."

(2) the concession that Jesus' own family did not consider His ministry legitimate:                                                                                                                           "When His family heard it, they went out to physically restrain Him; for they were saying, He is out of his mind (3:21)!"                                                                     Jesus: "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own kin and in his own house (6:4)."  John 7:5 provides further support of the skepticism of Jesus' family: "Even His own brothers didn't believe in Him!"

(3) the implication in 8:22-26 that Jesus needs 2 attempts to complete the blind man's healing.

(4) Mark's willing to  quote Jesus as apparently denying His personal goodness and eve distinguishing Himself from God: "Why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone (Mark 10:18-7-18)."                                                       


 

This comments seems to draw a conclusion that maybe because some bits of Mark are accurate, then all of Mark is accurate.  Possibly Mark's author did get some elements about Jesus right or wrong, and many others conversely.  For me it doesn't necessarily lead that because a few embarrassing things about Jesus were referred to that then necessarily everything else in the book is accurate.  Possibly it could be, I'm just saying drawing such conclusions aren't a safe way of justifying your argument, IMO.

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Aristion and John the Elder were "disciples of Jesus" and were therefore themselves eyewitnesses.  There is not a shred of evidence for your claim that Papias needed to establish his legitimacy.  The challenge you level against the witness of this disciple that Mark's Gospel is based on Peter's lectures is absurd because Papias's claim finds independent  corroboration by Peter (1 Peter 5:13) and by Justin in Rome, where Mark's Gospel was likely written.  The connection between Mark and his mentor Peter is also the unanimous consensus of the Church Fathers in the 2nd century.

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1 hour ago, Deadworm said:

Aristion and John the Elder were "disciples of Jesus" and were therefore themselves eyewitnesses.  There is not a shred of evidence for your claim that Papias needed to establish his legitimacy.  The challenge you level against the witness of this disciple that Mark's Gospel is based on Peter's lectures is absurd because Papias's claim finds independent  corroboration by Peter (1 Peter 5:13) and by Justin in Rome, where Mark's Gospel was likely written.  The connection between Mark and his mentor Peter is also the unanimous consensus of the Church Fathers in the 2nd century.

I'm not sure we are going to have any meaningful discussion if all you want to do is counter my claims with calling them absurd and without evidence, when they are made with pretty much the same amount of sense and evidence as yours.  If you want to discuss this subject meaningfully, I am willing.  But if you just want to say that I am wrong because you believe you have all the right answers, then I am not interested.

So in the spirit of genuine discussion, I will answer the above.

Papias was Bishop of Hierapolis and so I would suggest, as we have seen in other Christian circles, that some Christian writers have called upon 'authority' to establish their claims.  This goes for a wide range of Christian beliefs, many I'm sure you disagree with as well possibly agree with.  My only 'evidence' is that there is a question mark for me over Papias' non-bias, clearly as he already has a side to be on. 

In his own words Papias is saying that he is also relying upon interpretations and second-hand reports of what the likes of Andrew/Peter/Philip/Thomas/James/John/Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples 'had' said.  So it's not a black and white eye witness account like you initially proposed, I would suggest.  

There is no evidence that Papias actually spoke with Aristion or John the Elder, we just have Papias' claims for such.  And even if he did, we don't know that Papias accurately reports them, or interprets them, correctly.  We know that pseudepigrapha was an all too common phenomenon amongst early Christian writers, and not because they were mischievous but because they thought they were passing on correct teachings in the name of their teacher.  But I can't prove Papias' was biased any more than you can prove he was not, although Papias acknowledges he took no pleasure in those who told many different stories, but only in those who taught the truth, which begs the question - whose truth?  The truth that Papias had already decided was the truth?  This doesn't sound particularly objective to me. 

Again, there is no scholarly work that legitimately points to the Gospel of Mark being developed in Rome.  It is a claim.  I have no issue with claims other than they can be discussed on their merits and evidence.  There seems scant legitimate scholarly work that presents a solid case for Mark being developed in Rome.  Maybe it was developed there - I'm just saying there isn't evidence to strongly support that and rather, it can only be a claim.

I don't particularly rate what the Church Fathers of the 2nd century had to say from an evidentiary point of view, when it comes to establishing connections between Mark & Peter.  The Church Fathers already had a clear position on where their beliefs lay, so it is not beyond reason that they either concocted or went along with these beliefs because it was what they wanted to or did believe.  That isn't to question their integrity as quite possibly they genuinely meant well, but quite simply it has been established that early Christians had made stuff up about Jesus in the past, and there is a lot of evidence to suggest there was a wide range of views on Jesus and his alleged teachings in the hotpot of early Christianity.  I think there is danger in following something just because the early church fathers (some 100-150 years post-Jesus) had to say about Jesus' associates and messages, particularly after it was their views that one the day on Christianity and not the voices that were drowned out.  Again, that's not to say that were ill-intentioned or even incorrect in everything, but just to point out that simply because theirs was the voice that won the day, doesn't necessarily stand for me as evidence of accuracy of the historical Jesus.  And when I say 'theirs was the voice' I mean that particular version or stream or understanding of Jesus and his teachings that won the day in the variety of early Christian beliefs.

 

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