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levi_athan
May 8th 2008, 08:31 PM
This is an excerpt from Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason" that really made a lot of sense to me when I read it. In fact, this was one of the books that was a major contributor in my decision against faith. I would like to know what you all think.

"The book ascribed to Matthew says 'there was darkness over all the land from the sixth hour unto the ninth hour - that the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom - that there was an earthquake - that the rocks rent - that graves opened, that the bodies of many of the saints that slept arose and came out of their graves after the resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared to many.' Such is the account which this dashing writer of the book of Matthew gives, but in which he is not supported by the writers of the other books.

The writer of the book ascribed to Mark, in detailing the circumstances of the crucifixion, makes no mention of any earthquake, nor of the rocks rending, nor of the graves opening, nor of the dead men walking out. The writer of the book of Luke is silent also upon the same points. And as to the writer of the book of John, though he details all the circumstances of the crucifixion down to the burial of Christ, he says nothing about either the darkness - the veil of the temple - the earthquake - the rocks - the graves - nor the dead men.

Now if it had been true that these things had happened, and if the writers of these books had lived at the time they did happen, and had been the persons they are said to be - namely, the four men called apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it was not possible for them, as true historians, even without the aid of inspiration, not to have recorded them. The things, supposing them to have been facts, were of too much notoriety not to have been known, and of too much importance not to have been told. All these supposed apostles must have been witnesses of the earthquake, if there had been any, for it was not possible for them to have been absent from it. The opening of the graves and resurrection of the dead men, and their walking about the city, is of still greater importance than the earth-quake. An earthquake is always possible, and natural, and proves nothing; but this opening of the graves is supernatural, and directly in point to their doctrine, their cause, and their apostleship. Had it been true, it would have filled up whole chapters of those books, and been the chosen theme and general chorus of all the writers; but instead of this, little and trivial things, and mere prattling conversation of he said this and she said that are often tediously detailed, while this most important of all, had it been true, is passed off in a slovenly manner by a single dash of the pen, and that by one writer only, and not so much as hinted at by the rest.

It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told. The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to life again, and went into the city, and what became of them afterwards, and who it was that saw them ; for he is not courageous enough to say that he saw them himself ; whether they came out naked, and all in natural buff, he-saints and she-saints, or whether they came full dressed, and where they got their clothes ; whether they went to their former habitations, and reclaimed their wives, their husbands, and their property, and how they were received ; whether they entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions, or brought law suits against the rival interlopers ; wheter they remained on earth, and followed their former occupation of preaching or working ; or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive, and buried themselves.

Strange indeed, that an army of saints should return to life, and nobody know who they were, nor who it was that saw them, and that not a word more should be said upon the subject, nor these saints have anything to tell us! Had it been the prophets who (as we are told) had formerly prophesied of these things, they must have had a great deal to say. They could have told us everything, and we should have had posthumous prophecies, with notes and commentaries upon the first, a little better at least than we have now. Had it been Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua, and Samuel, and David, not an unconverted Jew had remained in all Jerusalem. Had it been John the Baptist; and the saints of the times then present, everybody would have known them, and they would have out-preached and out-famed all the other apostles. But, instead of this, these saints are made to pop up, like Jonah's gourd in the night, for no purpose at all but to wither in the morning." END OF EXCERPT

As a believer, this story always really bothered me, although I could never put my finger on it. When I read the above excerpt for the first time, it was the first time that these events surrounding the crucifiction part of Matthew made any sense. I finally realized - it's because it's not true! And it was an epiphany in my life.

DaveS
May 8th 2008, 08:59 PM
To my mind, applying the woulda, coulda, shoulda technique to Bible criticism is completely contradictory to a true "Age of Reason". Whether you believe in God or not, it isn't rational to expect that a mere man could dictate what a supreme Being (if one existed) should say or not say; what it should do or not do.

If God existed, and spoke, I would expect any reasonable man to quickly put his hand over his mouth and listen with the utmost intensity; expect to hear many things that don't compute to his tiny mind; and seek to understand what he could. I would not expect a reasonable man to go into critique mode correcting God on how He should have said it all differently.

If one chooses not to believe the Bible they're certainly free to do so. But to disbelieve because they don't understand why it would have been written that way seems completely illogical to me. Just by the very nature of the matter, I would expect that a book written by a supreme Being would be written in a way that would be different from anything I might come up with.

Just my thoughts.
Dave

levi_athan
May 8th 2008, 09:52 PM
Thanks, Dave.

I know what you're saying. But there are certain markers of truth in historical documents that one would look for, especially when there are multiple accounts of the same occurance. I think he's basically saying those markers aren't there with Matthew's account of the Crucifiction.

levi_athan
May 8th 2008, 10:14 PM
Whether you believe in God or not, it isn't rational to expect that a mere man could dictate what a supreme Being (if one existed) should say or not say; what it should do or not do.......

Just by the very nature of the matter, I would expect that a book written by a supreme Being would be written in a way that would be different from anything I might come up with.

Mere men wrote the Bible, not God (or a supreme being, if you will). It's an account of events, not straight dictation from God.

Athanasius
May 8th 2008, 10:38 PM
Thanks, Dave.

I know what you're saying. But there are certain markers of truth in historical documents that one would look for, especially when there are multiple accounts of the same occurance. I think he's basically saying those markers aren't there with Matthew's account of the Crucifiction.

That's odd. I met a Jew in school who converted to Christianity after reading the Gospels. He was a history major and said the reason for his conversion was the historical markers in the Gospels. I mean, I don't see very many 20 something-year-old men crying in a 'busy' library with a Greek Bible in hand (Septuagint).

Now, no offense to Thomas Paine, but if the accounts were all similar, we would suspect they were copied off each other, or some common source. The differences give us 1) a fuller picture of events and 2) good reason to assume the events were recorded separately four different times (if you include John). Sorry to bust Thomas Paine's bubble, but the important events were covered in detail--such as the bodily resurrection of Christ, which went completely against the Jewish understanding of resurrection at that time.

Different story, different angles, fuller picture.

levi_athan
May 8th 2008, 10:50 PM
That's odd. I met a Jew in school who converted to Christianity after reading the Gospels. He was a history major and said the reason for his conversion was the historical markers in the Gospels. I mean, I don't see very many 20 something-year-old men crying in a 'busy' library with a Greek Bible in hand (Septuagint).

Now, no offense to Thomas Paine, but if the accounts were all similar, we would suspect they were copied off each other, or some common source. The differences give us 1) a fuller picture of events and 2) good reason to assume the events were recorded separately four different times (if you include John). Sorry to bust Thomas Paine's bubble, but the important events were covered in detail--such as the bodily resurrection of Christ, which went completely against the Jewish understanding of resurrection at that time.

Different story, different angles, fuller picture.

Thanks, Xel'Naga.

I'm not talking about the historical markers of all four Gospels, just this particular event in Matthew. I know that differing angles make a richer understanding of the story, but there's only so far you can take that. If dead people rose out of the ground, especially saints, EVERYBODY would have written about it. Since none of the other gospels even mention it, there's a good chance that the apparent earthquake and resurrection is made up.

Athanasius
May 8th 2008, 11:32 PM
Thanks, Xel'Naga.

It is widely believed by secular scholars they did copy off of one another. Especially from Mark to Matthew. But that's really not what my original post was about. I would agree with Paine that if there really were resurrected saints, that we should know who they are and what happened to them. Since none of the other gospels even mention it, there's a good chance that the apparent earthquake and resurrection is made up. Resurrection of saints is simply too important to just be left out.

Yeah, the so called 'Synoptic Problem'.

You'll have to excuse me, I must go book diving.

...And back. Alright, so why does Matthew mention this, but not the other four gospels? Well, let's ignore that for a minute and ask ourselves why Matthew recorded the line in the first place. After a bit of reading I learned that Jews at the time believed that when the Messiah came the bodily resurrection of OT saints would occur.

The example given of a Jewish Rabbi, "(R. Jeremiah commanded), 'When you bury me, put shoes on my feet, and give me a staff in my hand, and lay me on one side; that when Messias comes I may be ready." (cited in Lightfoot, _Commentary of the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, in.loc.)"

There was also some mention, apparently, by outside sources. Quadratus (speaking withing 50-75 years) and Ireneaus.

But I think the resurrection of the dead finds connection with three things: (1) the Jewish milieu, (2) the messianic mission of Jesus, and (3) the OT prophetic writings about the Messiah.

Sources:
http://www.christian-thinktank.com/oddrise.html

Now coming off that... Exaggeration (if it was used) is no destroyer of the Gospel Message. The Bible is very full of such literary tools.

levi_athan
May 8th 2008, 11:58 PM
Thanks for doing the research. That may be the answer to why the author of Matthew put that in at all. But it still begs the question, why would something as undeniable as a multiple resurrection be left out of 3 out of four gospels, when their authors were supposed to have known one another and dined together? The news of a multiple resurrection would have been SO extraordinary everybody would have heard of it, and it would be expected to be included in all of the gospels. The fact that it's not seems to leave the door open for the possibility of a fib. Plus the fact that Matthew has absolutely no information as to who the saints were or what happened to them. Like Paine says "It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told."

And just so you know, I don't think these things destroy the gospel message of Ultimate Love. But it does question the historical authenticity of a dead man rising from the grave.

Athanasius
May 9th 2008, 12:14 AM
Thanks for doing the research. That may be the answer to why the author of Matthew put that in at all. But it still begs the question, why would something as undeniable as a multiple resurrection be left out of 3 out of four gospels, when their authors were supposed to have known one another and dined together? The news of a multiple resurrection would have been SO extraordinary everybody would have heard of it, and it would be expected to be included in all of the gospels. The fact that it's not seems to leave the door open for the possibility of a fib. Plus the fact that Matthew has absolutely no information as to who the saints were or what happened to them. Like Paine says "It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told."

And just so you know, I don't think these things destroy the gospel message of Ultimate Love. But it does question the historical authenticity of a dead man rising from the grave.

And why would that be? In regards to that area, all your criterion are met? Seems to me to be rather bad liars if they're going to lie about one thing and go every which way on everything else?

levi_athan
May 9th 2008, 12:29 AM
I don't think I understand your question. Maybe rephrase for me? I'm slow sometimes.

Athanasius
May 9th 2008, 12:44 AM
I don't think I understand your question. Maybe rephrase for me? I'm slow sometimes.

I acknowledge that a 'fabrication' in one part of the Bible would cast doubt on the whole thing. But as it stands the account is still under dispute as to whether or not it is purely made up, I think the important part is with no reason (even made up are the wrong words, imo). Now, why would four guys get together and fabricate a story, copy most of the important parts, but not all, thereby leaving people to question the validity of their stories? The raising of the saints would have been important. Jesus' resurrection would have been important. Why did all four cover the latter, but not the former, if they were fabricating their accounts?

levi_athan
May 9th 2008, 01:19 AM
I acknowledge that a 'fabrication' in one part of the Bible would cast doubt on the whole thing. But as it stands the account is still under dispute as to whether or not it is purely made up, I think the important part is with no reason (even made up are the wrong words, imo). Now, why would four guys get together and fabricate a story, copy most of the important parts, but not all, thereby leaving people to question the validity of their stories? The raising of the saints would have been important. Jesus' resurrection would have been important. Why did all four cover the latter, but not the former, if they were fabricating their accounts?

That's true. I don't think the Gospel accounts are totally made up. I think that parts are historical and parts are not. I don't believe that the supernatural parts of the Bible like the miracle accounts or the resurrection accounts are historical. It's not likely, in the light of the tendency of people the world over to create religious narratives, that this one is any more historical. I don't think that four guys got together and made stuff up. I think four guys heard about a resurrection, through spoken word or previous gospels, believed it, and began writing. What's more likely, that somebody rose from the dead or that a Biblical author wrote a story about it?

I don't think that any of the Biblical authors could have ever imagined the popularity that Christianity has attained, so they weren't extremely concerned with people centuries later questioning the validity of the scriptures.

Fortunately love is not supernatural. That's why the love portrayed in the Gospels, even for an atheist like me, still speaks through the centuries. I don't have to believe the story to appreciate it's value in the human drama.

slynx
May 9th 2008, 04:09 AM
Thanks, Dave.

I know what you're saying. But there are certain markers of truth in historical documents that one would look for, especially when there are multiple accounts of the same occurance. I think he's basically saying those markers aren't there with Matthew's account of the Crucifiction.

The problem I see with your premise is that you ASSUME

that Matthew intended to write his book to be a "historical" document
that a history written in 45-50AD would have the SAME "markers" as a history written in 1700 or 2008

Neither of these assumptions is correct.

There is a logical axiom that you are also ignoring: "Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence!" The fact that one eyewitness does not mention something about an occurrence, that another eyewitness does mention, has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the truthfulness of the aspect reported by the latter witness!

Each of the gospels reports minor aspects of the arrest, trials, execution, and resurrection that are not reported in the other gospels. So what? Take any four people witnessing the same event, have them write an account of that event, and each account will have details that are not included in the other accounts!

As a matter of fact, it is this very phenomenon that judges use to determine whether or not there has been collusion among or coaching of witnesses!

slynx
May 9th 2008, 04:36 AM
I think four guys heard about a resurrection, through spoken word or previous gospels, believed it, and began writing. What's more likely, that somebody rose from the dead or that a Biblical author wrote a story about it?
Then you think they lied about being eyewitnesses?
And you think Luke particularly lied about having thoroughly investigated everything?


I don't think that any of the Biblical authors could have ever imagined the popularity that Christianity has attained, so they weren't extremely concerned with people centuries later questioning the validity of the scriptures.

You're right. They neither knew nor cared whether or not belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior would become "popular". Nor did they care whether or not people would believe their accounts. Their only concern was reporting and living the truth -- and 10 of the remaining 11 disciples died miserable deaths for refusing to recant their testimony that AFTER JESUS CRUCIFIXION they themselves saw, talked to, and ate with Jesus who had risen from the dead -- the same Jesus with whom they had spent every day of the last three years!

It seems completely illogical (and unreasonable) to me for anyone to assert a premise that the disciples simply heard a RUMOR about Jesus rising from the dead -- and yet, supposedly with no corroboration whatsoever, were willing to die for a rumor! Nonsense. Logic and reason dictate that they were willing to die because they were witnesses to the events they testified about and KNEW that Jesus' bodily resurrection was the truth!

watchinginawe
May 9th 2008, 10:38 AM
And just so you know, I don't think these things destroy the gospel message of Ultimate Love. But it does question the historical authenticity of a dead man rising from the grave.Here is a thought. Is the historical authenticity of the assination of John Kennedy in question? We even have film on that one. How consistent are the accounts? Why do some mention shots on the "grassy knoll" and some inssist no way? What about Jack's brain? Is it on life support in some tower?

All I can say is it is a shame that you would read that from Paine and it destroy your faith. I know how that works though. Some of us seem to want to "grow up" and decide there isn't a Santa Clause. We look for the slightest hint of undrunken milk and uneaten cookies. We examine the hearth for disturbed ashes. Ultimately, we decide to discard "fables" and embrace "the age of reason". After all, the evidence abounds. The Gospel of Matthew talks about an earthquake and graves bursting open. Our higher institutions of learning teach the Bible right along side the Greek myths. We learn where man really comes from. We embrace reason and become a "new creature".

I'll pray for time levi_athan. I praise God that time was allowed for me to work through my unbelief and outright denial of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

God Bless!

mcgyver
May 9th 2008, 02:20 PM
This post is in two parts...


This is an excerpt from Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason" that really made a lot of sense to me when I read it. In fact, this was one of the books that was a major contributor in my decision against faith. I would like to know what you all think.

"The book ascribed to Matthew says 'there was darkness over all the land from the sixth hour unto the ninth hour - that the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom - that there was an earthquake - that the rocks rent - that graves opened, that the bodies of many of the saints that slept arose and came out of their graves after the resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared to many.' Such is the account which this dashing writer of the book of Matthew gives, but in which he is not supported by the writers of the other books.

The writer of the book ascribed to Mark, in detailing the circumstances of the crucifixion, makes no mention of any earthquake, nor of the rocks rending, nor of the graves opening, nor of the dead men walking out. The writer of the book of Luke is silent also upon the same points. And as to the writer of the book of John, though he details all the circumstances of the crucifixion down to the burial of Christ, he says nothing about either the darkness - the veil of the temple - the earthquake - the rocks - the graves - nor the dead men.

Now if it had been true that these things had happened, and if the writers of these books had lived at the time they did happen, and had been the persons they are said to be - namely, the four men called apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it was not possible for them, as true historians, even without the aid of inspiration, not to have recorded them. The things, supposing them to have been facts, were of too much notoriety not to have been known, and of too much importance not to have been told. All these supposed apostles must have been witnesses of the earthquake, if there had been any, for it was not possible for them to have been absent from it. The opening of the graves and resurrection of the dead men, and their walking about the city, is of still greater importance than the earth-quake. An earthquake is always possible, and natural, and proves nothing; but this opening of the graves is supernatural, and directly in point to their doctrine, their cause, and their apostleship. Had it been true, it would have filled up whole chapters of those books, and been the chosen theme and general chorus of all the writers; but instead of this, little and trivial things, and mere prattling conversation of he said this and she said that are often tediously detailed, while this most important of all, had it been true, is passed off in a slovenly manner by a single dash of the pen, and that by one writer only, and not so much as hinted at by the rest.

It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told. The writer of the book of Matthew should have told us who the saints were that came to life again, and went into the city, and what became of them afterwards, and who it was that saw them ; for he is not courageous enough to say that he saw them himself ; whether they came out naked, and all in natural buff, he-saints and she-saints, or whether they came full dressed, and where they got their clothes ; whether they went to their former habitations, and reclaimed their wives, their husbands, and their property, and how they were received ; whether they entered ejectments for the recovery of their possessions, or brought law suits against the rival interlopers ; wheter they remained on earth, and followed their former occupation of preaching or working ; or whether they died again, or went back to their graves alive, and buried themselves.

Strange indeed, that an army of saints should return to life, and nobody know who they were, nor who it was that saw them, and that not a word more should be said upon the subject, nor these saints have anything to tell us! Had it been the prophets who (as we are told) had formerly prophesied of these things, they must have had a great deal to say. They could have told us everything, and we should have had posthumous prophecies, with notes and commentaries upon the first, a little better at least than we have now. Had it been Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua, and Samuel, and David, not an unconverted Jew had remained in all Jerusalem. Had it been John the Baptist; and the saints of the times then present, everybody would have known them, and they would have out-preached and out-famed all the other apostles. But, instead of this, these saints are made to pop up, like Jonah's gourd in the night, for no purpose at all but to wither in the morning." END OF EXCERPT

As a believer, this story always really bothered me, although I could never put my finger on it. When I read the above excerpt for the first time, it was the first time that these events surrounding the crucifiction part of Matthew made any sense. I finally realized - it's because it's not true! And it was an epiphany in my life.

Well, I find Mr. Paine's methodology to be extremely flawed, in that he attempts to make an argument from silence and decides that a certain event could not be true simply because he doesn't believe it could be true.

He in addition ignores both textual and historical evidence of the truth of the account, as he is already biased against the miraculous.

First: While most accounts of ancient history are found in single source documents which are generally counted as reliable...even when written centuries after the account...there are over 5000 Greek manuscripts extant of the gospels...something that is of extreme importance as will become evident in a little bit.

For example: Suetonius, a Roman historian, wrote his account of Caesar crossing the Rubicon at least 110 years after the event and is (as far as I know) the only account of the event. By Mr. Paine's reckoning therefore, Caesar never crossed the Rubicon because there is only one account of it.

Similarly, The first six books of the "Annals of Imperial Rome" by Tacitus exist in only one manuscript dated about AD 850, yet who question's the authenticity of these books?

"The Jewish War" by Josephus exists in only 9 Greek manuscripts written in the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries, and one Latin manuscript from the 4th century...yet they are considered reliable.

The earliest biographies of Alexander the Great, by Arrian and Plutarch were written over 400 years later and are considered reliable.

Therefore, I can only surmise (as I said) that Mr. Paine's method of determining truth from ancient manuscripts is extremely flawed and biased. If we apply his methodology to history...Well, there is very little history indeed!

Secondly, there is ample evidence (Internal, Archaeological, Textual, Stylistic, Corroborative, and logical) for early authorship of the Gospel accounts by those who's names they bear.

In fact, one of the most liberal of NT Scholars John A.T. Robinson in his book : Redating the New Testament (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2000) asserts that the Gospels were probably written much earlier than previously supposed...his dating is between 40 and 65.

Regardless, it is generally accepted that the Gospels were written within a generation of Jesus...Not enough time for legendary development...which leads me to my next (and possibly most salient point):

The early churches did not live in a vacuum (they shared writings, epistles, etc.)...Remember that I said that today we have over 5000 Greek manuscripts? How many more were in existence 2000 years ago? And there were people who were alive when the reported events happened...many more who's parents had witnessed these things and passed the events on to their children! In fact in 1 Corinthians Paul mentions that over 500 witnesses saw the risen Christ and that many were still alive at the time of his writing of the epistle.

This very fact provides checks and balances for the truthfulness of the Gospel accounts.

If such had not happened, there would have been people who would have decried it as false!

Consider this...why is there such a silence about it from writers who were hostile to Christianity? Why aren't there a plethora of writings from those who despised and persecuted Christianity debunking the event? Why isn't there a mention from the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees (and later Jewish writers) saying: "Hey, we were there in Jerusalem...and it didn't happen..." Seems to me that if it were false, there would have been MANY who would have eagerly pointed it out!!! Yet there is not a single early manuscript extant that states this event was false.

The argument from silence cuts both ways!!!

As I said at the beginning, Paine's methodology in interpreting this passage of scripture is not scholarly in the least, and in fact is illogical (proving a point out of silence)...and is a weak attempt to promote his own atheistic/agnostic/anti-Christian agenda...

mcgyver
May 9th 2008, 02:54 PM
Something else I wanted to add:


The writer of the book ascribed to Mark, in detailing the circumstances of the crucifixion, makes no mention of any earthquake, nor of the rocks rending...Phlegon was a Greek historian (non-Christian BTW) wrote circa AD 137:

"In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e., AD 33) there was ‘the greatest eclipse of the sun’ and that ‘it became night in the sixth hour of the day so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea."

Julius Africanus (circa AD 221) was such an exacting historian that the Roman Emperor Alexander Severus entrusted him with the official responsibility of building the Emperor’s library at the Pantheon in Rome, in spite of the fact that Africanus had converted to Christianity.

Quoting Thallus (circa AD52) he writes:

"On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Savior falls on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth—manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period."

Please pay particular attention to the bold portion....

Then of course we have Tertullian, who in writing an apology to the emperor of Rome states:

"At the moment of Christ’s death, the light departed from the sun, and the land was darkened at noonday, which wonder is related in your own annals, and is preserved in your archives to this day."

Once again, please pay special attention to the Italics in bold letters...The event was in the official records of Rome.

Perhaps Mr. Thomas Paine was neither much of a historian or scholar???

And I've got to ask the question: With the wealth of information available today, why would one immediately jump at the writings of a man who's sole claim to fame was inflammatory prose...to disbelieve...instead of researching it for themselves?

daughter
May 9th 2008, 03:31 PM
Thanks for doing the research. That may be the answer to why the author of Matthew put that in at all. But it still begs the question, why would something as undeniable as a multiple resurrection be left out of 3 out of four gospels, when their authors were supposed to have known one another and dined together? The news of a multiple resurrection would have been SO extraordinary everybody would have heard of it, and it would be expected to be included in all of the gospels. The fact that it's not seems to leave the door open for the possibility of a fib. Plus the fact that Matthew has absolutely no information as to who the saints were or what happened to them. Like Paine says "It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told."

And just so you know, I don't think these things destroy the gospel message of Ultimate Love. But it does question the historical authenticity of a dead man rising from the grave.
Matthew was writing to the Jews, so he addressed more peculiarly Jewish issues, like the bodily ressurection of the OT saints. Luke was writing to the gentiles, and was hoping to get them to accept the physical resurrection of a Jewish Messiah, muddying the waters with this miracle could have made gentiles think, "hang on, what is it with these Jews jumping up out of the grave? Is it something in the water? Or is it all a load of hooey?" Mark was a "bare bones" writer, presenting an incredibly compressed gospel, the focus of which all throughout was Christ, and what He did, whereas John was creating a prose/poem portrait of the great Love of his life, Jesus. In fact, John mentions that so many amazing things happened that stuff had to be left out or there wouldn't be books enough in the world.

Personally, I believe Matthew. I don't think he was exagerating or making things up. The bare fact that the comment is so "throw away" is a sign that it's not a fib. If I was going to tell a whopping big lie (last Thursday at the graveyard near Dungiven the dead rose from their tombs) I'd try to give it credible detail - like names, what they were wearing, who saw them, what they said etc.

For example, I say to a friend.
"Last Thursday the dead rose outside the chapel at Dungiven."
"No! You don't expect me to believe that!"
"No, seriously, there were my Granny and Grandad, their first baby John, loads of wonderful people... but father Curry stayed in the ground. Guess he wasn't a saint then..."

You get the idea. The very bareness of the account speaks for it's general acceptance.

levi_athan
May 9th 2008, 05:57 PM
The problem I see with your premise is that you ASSUME
that Matthew intended to write his book to be a "historical" document
that a history written in 45-50AD would have the SAME "markers" as a history written in 1700 or 2008
Neither of these assumptions is correct.

There is a logical axiom that you are also ignoring: "Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence!" The fact that one eyewitness does not mention something about an occurrence, that another eyewitness does mention, has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the truthfulness of the aspect reported by the latter witness!

Each of the gospels reports minor aspects of the arrest, trials, execution, and resurrection that are not reported in the other gospels. So what? Take any four people witnessing the same event, have them write an account of that event, and each account will have details that are not included in the other accounts!

As a matter of fact, it is this very phenomenon that judges use to determine whether or not there has been collusion among or coaching of witnesses!

I really hope you read the entire excerpt. If there were four guys detailing the crucifiction account, with careful study such as Luke, if there was really a multiple resurrection of Saints with an earthquake, it should have been documented. This is no small issue that could have been overlooked by three of the four gospel writers. It's made up. And if one story was made up...

levi_athan
May 9th 2008, 06:13 PM
Matthew was writing to the Jews, so he addressed more peculiarly Jewish issues, like the bodily ressurection of the OT saints. Luke was writing to the gentiles, and was hoping to get them to accept the physical resurrection of a Jewish Messiah, muddying the waters with this miracle could have made gentiles think, "hang on, what is it with these Jews jumping up out of the grave? Is it something in the water? Or is it all a load of hooey?" Mark was a "bare bones" writer, presenting an incredibly compressed gospel, the focus of which all throughout was Christ, and what He did, whereas John was creating a prose/poem portrait of the great Love of his life, Jesus. In fact, John mentions that so many amazing things happened that stuff had to be left out or there wouldn't be books enough in the world.

Personally, I believe Matthew. I don't think he was exagerating or making things up. The bare fact that the comment is so "throw away" is a sign that it's not a fib. If I was going to tell a whopping big lie (last Thursday at the graveyard near Dungiven the dead rose from their tombs) I'd try to give it credible detail - like names, what they were wearing, who saw them, what they said etc.

For example, I say to a friend.
"Last Thursday the dead rose outside the chapel at Dungiven."
"No! You don't expect me to believe that!"
"No, seriously, there were my Granny and Grandad, their first baby John, loads of wonderful people... but father Curry stayed in the ground. Guess he wasn't a saint then..."

You get the idea. The very bareness of the account speaks for it's general acceptance.

I think this is a reasonable answer. But I still agree with Paine. I really don't think that it would have been left out of 3/4 gospel stories had it happened. It was sure the other gospel writers knew about Matthew's account, but left it out intentionally because they didn't believe it either. They were either at the scene and knew it didn't happen, or knew somebody was there who knew it didn't happen. We can postulate all we want why it would have been left out, but that means our concern is not truth as much as conserving tradition.

levi_athan
May 9th 2008, 06:17 PM
This post is in two parts...



Well, I find Mr. Paine's methodology to be extremely flawed, in that he attempts to make an argument from silence and decides that a certain event could not be true simply because he doesn't believe it could be true.

He in addition ignores both textual and historical evidence of the truth of the account, as he is already biased against the miraculous.

First: While most accounts of ancient history are found in single source documents which are generally counted as reliable...even when written centuries after the account...there are over 5000 Greek manuscripts extant of the gospels...something that is of extreme importance as will become evident in a little bit.

For example: Suetonius, a Roman historian, wrote his account of Caesar crossing the Rubicon at least 110 years after the event and is (as far as I know) the only account of the event. By Mr. Paine's reckoning therefore, Caesar never crossed the Rubicon because there is only one account of it.

Similarly, The first six books of the "Annals of Imperial Rome" by Tacitus exist in only one manuscript dated about AD 850, yet who question's the authenticity of these books?

"The Jewish War" by Josephus exists in only 9 Greek manuscripts written in the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries, and one Latin manuscript from the 4th century...yet they are considered reliable.

The earliest biographies of Alexander the Great, by Arrian and Plutarch were written over 400 years later and are considered reliable.

Therefore, I can only surmise (as I said) that Mr. Paine's method of determining truth from ancient manuscripts is extremely flawed and biased. If we apply his methodology to history...Well, there is very little history indeed!

Secondly, there is ample evidence (Internal, Archaeological, Textual, Stylistic, Corroborative, and logical) for early authorship of the Gospel accounts by those who's names they bear.

In fact, one of the most liberal of NT Scholars John A.T. Robinson in his book : Redating the New Testament (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2000) asserts that the Gospels were probably written much earlier than previously supposed...his dating is between 40 and 65.

Regardless, it is generally accepted that the Gospels were written within a generation of Jesus...Not enough time for legendary development...which leads me to my next (and possibly most salient point):

The early churches did not live in a vacuum (they shared writings, epistles, etc.)...Remember that I said that today we have over 5000 Greek manuscripts? How many more were in existence 2000 years ago? And there were people who were alive when the reported events happened...many more who's parents had witnessed these things and passed the events on to their children! In fact in 1 Corinthians Paul mentions that over 500 witnesses saw the risen Christ and that many were still alive at the time of his writing of the epistle.

This very fact provides checks and balances for the truthfulness of the Gospel accounts.

If such had not happened, there would have been people who would have decried it as false!

Consider this...why is there such a silence about it from writers who were hostile to Christianity? Why aren't there a plethora of writings from those who despised and persecuted Christianity debunking the event? Why isn't there a mention from the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees (and later Jewish writers) saying: "Hey, we were there in Jerusalem...and it didn't happen..." Seems to me that if it were false, there would have been MANY who would have eagerly pointed it out!!! Yet there is not a single early manuscript extant that states this event was false.

The argument from silence cuts both ways!!!

As I said at the beginning, Paine's methodology in interpreting this passage of scripture is not scholarly in the least, and in fact is illogical (proving a point out of silence)...and is a weak attempt to promote his own atheistic/agnostic/anti-Christian agenda...

We should all be biased againsed the miraculous since we've never seen any. Finding over 5,000 original manuscripts make none of them true. Historical documents are considered more reliable if there are no miraculous accounts, as in Constantines case. Every historian out there doubts Constantine ever saw a cross in the sky. Sometimes common sense is more reliable than ancient accounts of miracles.

HisLeast
May 9th 2008, 06:28 PM
We should all be biased againsed the miraculous since we've never seen any. Finding over 5,000 original manuscripts make none of them true. Historical documents are considered more reliable if there are no miraculous accounts, as in Constantines case. Every historian out there doubts Constantine ever saw a cross in the sky. Sometimes common sense is more reliable than ancient accounts of miracles.

I always hear atheists talk about believing in the divine if there were some kind of miraculous incontrovertable evidence. Now say such evidence occured. By your statement above, that evidence could only exist for one generation, since no matter how well we documented it, the supernatural aspect could not be believed simply because it was supernatural.

mcgyver
May 9th 2008, 06:57 PM
We should all be biased againsed the miraculous since we've never seen any.

Ohhh??? This presents a problem, and please allow me to illustrate:

A tree falls down in the woods...should we say that (for example) an angel pushed it over? Obviously not...that is until we have exhausted all naturalistic means (i.e. was it termites, or loose soil, lightning strike etc.?). But by the same token if we assert that there can never be a supernatural intrusion into our temporal world (simply because we've not "seen one") then we are attempting to prove a universal negative, which can not be done. If we then prejudice ourselves against any possibility of the supernatural in the form of miracles, we've "loaded the dice" to obtain the answer we expect from a humanistic view.


Finding over 5,000 original manuscripts make none of them true.My dear fellow SW Floridian...I'm afraid that you've missed my point entirely! ;)

There were too many people alive during the time that these gospels were in circulation who had either first or second-hand knowledge of the events portrayed...There were certainly many who were hostile to Christianity who would have loved to shout "liar, liar, pants on fire" at the miraculous happenings recorded in the gospels.

The reason that they couldn't is that too many had seen it, and other miracles besides! Too much testimony existed at the time!

Is it not significant that even in the most vehement attacks on Christianity, that writers (such as Julian the Apostate) validate the gospel accounts? They try to explain them away (the darkness as a result of an eclipse, or Jesus' body being missing because the disciples stole it, as examples)...but yet they don't dare try and say it didn't happen...Too much evidence to the contrary!


Sometimes common sense is more reliable than ancient accounts of miracles.And what, pray tell, is the definition of "common sense"?

Do you believe that electricity exists? "Common sense" by the definition of "if I haven't seen it, then it must not be true" would dictate that electricity does not exist...because one can't see it...

Or as Shakespeare penned: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Question(s):

1.Would you care to comment on my second post citing quotations from ancient sources?
2. How do they fit in with Mr. Paine's assertion?
3. Do you personally accept that Jesus' legs were not broken, and that He was stabbed in the side with a Roman spear?

levi_athan
May 9th 2008, 11:09 PM
Something else I wanted to add:

Phlegon was a Greek historian (non-Christian BTW) wrote circa AD 137:

"In the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad (i.e., AD 33) there was ‘the greatest eclipse of the sun’ and that ‘it became night in the sixth hour of the day so that stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea."

Julius Africanus (circa AD 221) was such an exacting historian that the Roman Emperor Alexander Severus entrusted him with the official responsibility of building the Emperor’s library at the Pantheon in Rome, in spite of the fact that Africanus had converted to Christianity.

Quoting Thallus (circa AD52) he writes:

"On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Savior falls on the day before the passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth—manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period."

Please pay particular attention to the bold portion....

Then of course we have Tertullian, who in writing an apology to the emperor of Rome states:

"At the moment of Christ’s death, the light departed from the sun, and the land was darkened at noonday, which wonder is related in your own annals, and is preserved in your archives to this day."

Once again, please pay special attention to the Italics in bold letters...The event was in the official records of Rome.

Perhaps Mr. Thomas Paine was neither much of a historian or scholar???

And I've got to ask the question: With the wealth of information available today, why would one immediately jump at the writings of a man who's sole claim to fame was inflammatory prose...to disbelieve...instead of researching it for themselves?

First of all, you cannot rely on other historians to validate miracles (especially if they converted to Christianity). They are great for validating dates, names, places, but history's purpose is not validating supposed supernatural events. Even Lee Strobel's 'Case for Christ' admits interpolation of Josephus. Meaning some Christian edited Josephus' work after the fact for the benefit of Christianity. Do you think that was an isolated incident? Rome, the cradle of Christianity held the archives?? How can you trust any ancient document to rest your faith on?? Don't come at me to validate an ancient document with more ancient documents! Show me a resurrection, show me Jesus! He's not here to speak for himself. Africanus, Thallus, Josephus, and Tertullian cannot speak for him.

Second of all, even if there was an earthquake and an eclipse, both are natural occurances and prove absolutely nothing (as Paine's exerpt states).

levi_athan
May 9th 2008, 11:22 PM
3. Do you personally accept that Jesus' legs were not broken, and that He was stabbed in the side with a Roman spear?

I don't have a view on this, because I don't personally feel there's enough hard evidence to say. According to tradition both assertions are true. Can it be validated? Never.

Athanasius
May 9th 2008, 11:23 PM
First of all, you cannot rely on other historians to validate miracles (especially if they converted to Christianity).

Why not? Should I not take the counsel of a scientist because he's a scientist? Doesn't make sense (and yes I know what you're saying; it doesn't make sense). You see, Christian 'love' isn't the world's love. Christ love, first and foremost, requires hate of everything but God.

levi_athan
May 9th 2008, 11:28 PM
Why not? Should I not take the counsel of a scientist because he's a scientist? Doesn't make sense (and yes I know what you're saying; it doesn't make sense). You see, Christian 'love' isn't the world's love. Christ love, first and foremost, requires hate of everything but God.

Hey, Zel - nice to see you again. :)

I would say that in light of the fact there have been known Christian interpolations of historians such as Josephus. (Read Lee Strobel's case for Christ). Scientists just build on the knowledge of other scientists. If new knowledge comes to light then the work of the previous scientist is put aside. It's just forward progress. Religious 'history' on the other hand, is always going to be biased toward itself. It doesn't matter what comes to light, people will do backflips to keep the original assertions the same, even if they're wrong.

levi_athan
May 9th 2008, 11:40 PM
Christ love, first and foremost, requires hate of everything but God.

That really scares me by the way. That could be taken in a lot of violent directions in the wrong hands.

Athanasius
May 10th 2008, 12:37 AM
Hey, Zel - nice to see you again. :)

I would say that in light of the fact there have been known Christian interpolations of historians such as Josephus. (Read Lee Strobel's case for Christ). Scientists just build on the knowledge of other scientists. If new knowledge comes to light then the work of the previous scientist is put aside. It's just forward progress. Religious 'history' on the other hand, is always going to be biased toward itself. It doesn't matter what comes to light, people will do backflips to keep the original assertions the same, even if they're wrong.

And of scientific examples? Nebraska Man and Piltdown man, two of the most recent and prominent? Sure, people can quite easily fabricate information; but we do find out about it.


That really scares me by the way. That could be taken in a lot of violent directions in the wrong hands.

How can one love their neighbor, but hate their mother, sister, brother, father in view of God? Simply, Christian love is God before all else. 'Hate' in the biblical sense (or in the sense I mean), to love less than 'x'.

Teke
May 10th 2008, 01:33 AM
The funny thing about those who say they don't believe this or that is usually that they want someone to show them in an experiential kind of way for them to understand.

For instance, as I was reading Col 1:16,17 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Then I pondered this from a mystical cosmological and molecular point of view:D, and it would seem God is also the binding which holds what we believe all together. Ironic, and fitting for this thread as well, is the scientific conclusion we have on the subject of coherence of matter, that is, how our tissue is held together keeping us in one piece. "Laminins" is what holds one cell of our body to another, and it is in the shape of a cross. ;)

http://ronsworld.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/lammmm1.jpg

The anthropic and ontological aspect of our being is quite supernatural if you ask me.:saint:

levi_athan
May 10th 2008, 01:59 AM
I always hear atheists talk about believing in the divine if there were some kind of miraculous incontrovertable evidence. Now say such evidence occured. By your statement above, that evidence could only exist for one generation, since no matter how well we documented it, the supernatural aspect could not be believed simply because it was supernatural.

That's true. But if millions of people on earth have a personal relationship with a supernatural being, you think you would run into more supernatural occurances. But nobody does.

levi_athan
May 10th 2008, 02:08 AM
Here is a thought. Is the historical authenticity of the assination of John Kennedy in question? We even have film on that one. How consistent are the accounts? Why do some mention shots on the "grassy knoll" and some inssist no way? What about Jack's brain? Is it on life support in some tower?

All I can say is it is a shame that you would read that from Paine and it destroy your faith. I know how that works though. Some of us seem to want to "grow up" and decide there isn't a Santa Clause. We look for the slightest hint of undrunken milk and uneaten cookies. We examine the hearth for disturbed ashes. Ultimately, we decide to discard "fables" and embrace "the age of reason". After all, the evidence abounds. The Gospel of Matthew talks about an earthquake and graves bursting open. Our higher institutions of learning teach the Bible right along side the Greek myths. We learn where man really comes from. We embrace reason and become a "new creature".

I'll pray for time levi_athan. I praise God that time was allowed for me to work through my unbelief and outright denial of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

God Bless!

There were, I'm sure natural events surrounding the crucifiction. It's the supernatural one's I have a problem with. I don't see how the assasination of John F. Kennedy has to do with supernatural events. The only similarity they share is that they both happened in the past. It would be interesting if there was some 'Paul' like character who went around preaching that JFK was the messiah, and that he would be raised again, etc. Then you could compare them. And you know what, people would believe him. Because people believe absolutely anything if it's stated with authority. Look at any cult on earth. What makes you think the people of Macedonia, or Rome, or Corinth are any different? Especially when they knew how to take care of there own, creating financial support for fellow Christians, feeding the hungry, etc.

And by the way, Paine didn't destroy my faith. It was one book I read that had a few interesting points. It helped in my decision to share my non-belief with my family. Finally breaking free and feeling the 'peace that surpasses all understanding.'

levi_athan
May 10th 2008, 02:16 AM
The funny thing about those who say they don't believe this or that is usually that they want someone to show them in an experiential kind of way for them to understand.

For instance, as I was reading Col 1:16,17 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Then I pondered this from a mystical cosmological and molecular point of view:D, and it would seem God is also the binding which holds what we believe all together. Ironic, and fitting for this thread as well, is the scientific conclusion we have on the subject of coherence of matter, that is, how our tissue is held together keeping us in one piece. "Laminins" is what holds one cell of our body to another, and it is in the shape of a cross. ;)

http://ronsworld.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/lammmm1.jpg

The anthropic and ontological aspect of our being is quite supernatural if you ask me.:saint:

In an experimental kind of way? Not really. How about just a tangible and realistic way?

Actually, 'laminins' hold epithelial cells to a base (basal membrane), which is then connected to some sort of connective tissue. Epithelial tissue covers our visceral organs and makes up skin. It does not however have anything to do with bones, blood, nervous tissue... They don't hold all cells together. Just the covering ones to deeper connective tissue. And nerve dendrites are shaped like the 10 headed beast. So does that mean it's Satanic?

Teke
May 10th 2008, 02:58 AM
In an experimental kind of way? Not really. How about just a tangible and realistic way?

Actually, 'laminins' hold epithelial cells to a base (basal membrane), which is then connected to some sort of connective tissue. Epithelial tissue covers our visceral organs and makes up skin. It does not however have anything to do with bones, blood, nervous tissue... They don't hold all cells together. Just the covering ones to deeper connective tissue. And nerve dendrites are shaped like the 10 headed beast. So does that mean it's Satanic?

I think your missing the beauty, which is ontological for us. I said the "experiential" not the "experimental".

levi_athan
May 10th 2008, 03:18 AM
I think your missing the beauty, which is ontological for us. I said the "experiential" not the "experimental".

No, I definitely find the beauty. I love anatomy. It's fascinating and awe inspiring. From the chemical level all the way up to the systemic!

Dang it, dyslexia!

Teke
May 10th 2008, 03:54 AM
No, I definitely find the beauty. I love anatomy. It's fascinating and awe inspiring. From the chemical level all the way up to the systemic!

Dang it, dyslexia!

You may like the Cappodocian Christian father St Basil the Great and what he wrote on The Human Condition.
As he writes of the wonder of the creation of the human body, he says, "There are thousands of observations concerning these things with which not one of us is acquainted, for nobody has the leisure to take on this field of research, neither does each know himself as he is. For we are satisfied to know the sky rather than ourselves.

Do not despise the wonder that is in you. For you are small in your own reckoning, but the Word will disclose that you are great. Because of this, wise David, examining and seeing himself exactly, says, "Wonderful is your knowledge from me" (Ps. 138:6) I have discovered in wonder knowledge concerning you.
Why "from me"?
"Wonderful is your knowledge from me,' and the craftsmanship that is in me, understanding by what wisdom my body is structured. From this small work of construction, I understand the great Fashioner.

slynx
May 10th 2008, 05:21 AM
I really hope you read the entire excerpt. If there were four guys detailing the crucifiction account, with careful study such as Luke, if there was really a multiple resurrection of Saints with an earthquake, it should have been documented. This is no small issue that could have been overlooked by three of the four gospel writers. It's made up. And if one story was made up...

As a matter of fact it is a very small issue. The ONLY important issue - to the gospel writers AND to us today - is that JESUS was resurrected.

mcgyver
May 10th 2008, 03:03 PM
First of all, you cannot rely on other historians to validate miracles (especially if they converted to Christianity). They are great for validating dates, names, places, but history's purpose is not validating supposed supernatural events. Even Lee Strobel's 'Case for Christ' admits interpolation of Josephus. Meaning some Christian edited Josephus' work after the fact for the benefit of Christianity. Do you think that was an isolated incident? Rome, the cradle of Christianity held the archives?? How can you trust any ancient document to rest your faith on?? Don't come at me to validate an ancient document with more ancient documents! Show me a resurrection, show me Jesus! He's not here to speak for himself. Africanus, Thallus, Josephus, and Tertullian cannot speak for him.

Second of all, even if there was an earthquake and an eclipse, both are natural occurances and prove absolutely nothing (as Paine's exerpt states).

Obviously, you have made up your mind as to what you will choose to believe...and I do not say this unkindly... :)

I will however point out certain incongruities/flaws in your method...that is to say rejecting ancient texts written much closer to the actual event (and therefore having certain textual checks and balances); instead holding on to a late (1700s) missive written by one who was admittedly hostile to religion in general and Christianity in particular, as another reason to reject Christ. To put it another way...reject anything that might remotely corroborate the Gospel accounts...dismiss them out of hand...but grasp firmly any document that seeks to debunk Christianity.

A couple of points as illustration:



Neither Thallus nor Phlegon were Christian...they had no axes to grind one way or the other.
Africanus was appointed to his position in spite of converting to Christianity.

Which brings me to:


Rome at this time was anything but friendly to Christianity! The Great persecution of Christians by Septimus Severus had just ceased, and the next Great Persecution was just around the corner (AD 235 if I remember correctly)...Alexander Severus had no love for Christians, nor was he himself one...he simply had a knack for picking the best man for the job. Africanus' credentials as a historian and scholar of exacting detail is what earned him his position (once again) in spite of his faith and not because of it...
Simply...you don't write to a Roman emperor who is hostile to Christianity and tell him to "check it out from his own records" if it ain't so..
The earliest manuscript of Josephus is in Latin from the 4th century A.D. Although interpolations are recognized for what they are, his writings are generally considered reliable...so you're in this case comparing apples and oranges...won't wash.
It is impossible for a Solar eclipse to happen at the time of the Full Moon...

You said: "show me Jesus"...If He did appear to you, would you not chalk it up to a hallucination?

A figment of the imagination?

Christ Himself in speaking about "Lazarus and the rich man" in Luke 16 said (of Lazarus) that if he were to appear (to the rich man's brothers): "...neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead."

You said: "show me a resurrection"

Enough evidence of the resurrection of Christ exists to convert Simon Greenleaf to Christianity. If you don't know who Simon Greenleaf is, Google search his name. His credentials are impeccable, BTW.

His opinions on evidence were used as "stand alone" expert witness in decisions made by the US Supreme Court, (as well as other courts around the world).

A nominal Jew and practicing agnostic, he looked at every piece of evidence available during his time, primarily to debunk the resurrection of Christ. Instead, when faced with what he found...he himself was converted.

So....if you've simply made up your mind not to believe...that's OK! That's your right as a human being. :)

I daresay that an intellectually honest investigation of the evidence may lead you somewhere else...

watchinginawe
May 10th 2008, 03:09 PM
There were, I'm sure natural events surrounding the crucifiction. It's the supernatural one's I have a problem with. I don't see how the assasination of John F. Kennedy has to do with supernatural events. Well, that is a start. You are at least agreeing that the Gospel accounts are talking about real events concerning the crucifixion of Jesus.
Since none of the other gospels even mention it, there's a good chance that the apparent earthquake and resurrection is made up.Since we are admittedly talking about real events and you (Paine) offer the other Gospels to validate (or invalidate) events in the Gospel of Matthew, then is it your contention that the other Gospels are the "true" accounts? Even if not, using the above logic about parts of the Gospels that might be "made up", wouldn't it then follow that where the Gospels are consistent there is a good chance that they are true?
And by the way, Paine didn't destroy my faith. It was one book I read that had a few interesting points. It helped in my decision to share my non-belief with my family. Finally breaking free and feeling the 'peace that surpasses all understanding.'A few interesting points? You made it sound more "profound" in your original post. In your own words:
This is an excerpt from Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason" that really made a lot of sense to me when I read it. In fact, this was one of the books that was a major contributor in my decision against faith. I would like to know what you all think.So Paine was a "major contributor" in destroying your faith. But if it has brought you peace, then enjoy. But I suspect that this topic dominates in your discussions with others, especially with Christians; to wit, the reason you are here. Perhaps one day you will begin to wonder why you seem so restless on the subject if your whole being is truly "at peace".

The Apostle Peter offered the following advice to Christians: I Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: So Christians defend "a personal hope" that has brought peace to them. It seems you defend "no particular personal hope" that has brought peace. Maybe you label it "reality" or something. Having been one to embrace "no particular personal hope" in my past and bravely (maturely, reasonably, whatever fits) declaring "peace" on the subject, I found myself going out of my way offering the defence of my reason for "no particular personal hope" to those who claimed such a hope. :dunno: Ultimately, my peace proved out to be more like an armistice of sorts, it wasn't until a number of years later that I formally surrendered.

God Bless!

levi_athan
May 10th 2008, 08:21 PM
Well, that is a start. You are at least agreeing that the Gospel accounts are talking about real events concerning the crucifixion of Jesus.Since we are admittedly talking about real events and you (Paine) offer the other Gospels to validate (or invalidate) events in the Gospel of Matthew, then is it your contention that the other Gospels are the "true" accounts? Even if not, using the above logic about parts of the Gospels that might be "made up", wouldn't it then follow that where the Gospels are consistent there is a good chance that they are true?A few interesting points? You made it sound more "profound" in your original post. In your own words:So Paine was a "major contributor" in destroying your faith. But if it has brought you peace, then enjoy. But I suspect that this topic dominates in your discussions with others, especially with Christians; to wit, the reason you are here. Perhaps one day you will begin to wonder why you seem so restless on the subject if your whole being is truly "at peace".

The Apostle Peter offered the following advice to Christians: I Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: So Christians defend "a personal hope" that has brought peace to them. It seems you defend "no particular personal hope" that has brought peace. Maybe you label it "reality" or something. Having been one to embrace "no particular personal hope" in my past and bravely (maturely, reasonably, whatever fits) declaring "peace" on the subject, I found myself going out of my way offering the defence of my reason for "no particular personal hope" to those who claimed such a hope. :dunno: Ultimately, my peace proved out to be more like an armistice of sorts, it wasn't until a number of years later that I formally surrendered.

God Bless!

Sure, there were real events surrounding the crucifiction. Each gospel documents some of them. But religious history around the world is obviously made up. People are creators of legend. Legends touch us emotionally. But we have to learn to appreaciate history for history and religion for religion. But keep the two seperate.

As far as the other gospels being true, the whole point of this thread is to show the questionable nature of supernatural events in all four gospels. I'm not sure I follow your chain of logic.

And regarding the peace I feel in my heart, it's beyond description. I feel like I'm in just the right place in life. Unlike you (according to your profile) the first 25 years of my life were spent in church. I was a community group leader, the founding president of the Christian clubs at both my high school and at my university, I was a praise and worship leader for five years, and I keep up with all of my old friends from church. They are the strongest relationships I have besides the one with my wife. And my atheism doesn't really come up that often. I wish it did because I love discussing it. That's really why I'm here. I love discussing faith. It's not because of personal internal struggle. I surrendered, too. I just surrendered to atheism.

And by the way - I honestly hope this discussion has made your faith stronger. I hope it has encouraged you in some way. I don't care to 'convert' anybody to atheism. I just hope that we have a real discussion.

Teke
May 10th 2008, 11:16 PM
As far as the other gospels being true, the whole point of this thread is to show the questionable nature of supernatural events in all four gospels.

So if you show the "questionable nature of supernatural events", what have you proven? Other than that Paine's reason philosophy is flawed.

In your opening post of this thread you said you had an "epiphany". Was it an epiphany that you didn't understand scripture? It is quite common for confident Christians to have such a thing happen. God's apophatic manner with us tends to shake the confidence around. ;)

levi_athan
May 11th 2008, 01:09 AM
So if you show the "questionable nature of supernatural events", what have you proven? Other than that Paine's reason philosophy is flawed.

In your opening post of this thread you said you had an "epiphany". Was it an epiphany that you didn't understand scripture? It is quite common for confident Christians to have such a thing happen. God's apophatic manner with us tends to shake the confidence around. ;)

I am proud to say I have proven nothing. Proof is not my goal at all. There is no such thing in this case. All we're capable of is a discussion. And so far I would say it's been a good one.

I wouldn't say it was an epiphany I didn't understand scripture. I feel I can appreciate it all the more! Without the impossible challenges of trying to have it all make sense as a unified body of scripture, I can now simply enjoy it for it's original meaning! Before I had to somehow render everything in the Bible to the modern view of scripture whether it made sense or not. It was a true Epiphany!

levi_athan
May 11th 2008, 01:36 AM
As a matter of fact it is a very small issue. The ONLY important issue - to the gospel writers AND to us today - is that JESUS was resurrected.

The Temple cracks in half and no body pays attention, even though Luke is supposed to have studied every detail...

I think my next thread will be about the resurrection. That will be fun. :bounce:

Teke
May 11th 2008, 01:48 AM
I wouldn't say it was an epiphany I didn't understand scripture. I feel I can appreciate it all the more! Without the impossible challenges of trying to have it all make sense as a unified body of scripture, I can now simply enjoy it for it's original meaning! Before I had to somehow render everything in the Bible to the modern view of scripture whether it made sense or not. It was a true Epiphany!

By "render" and "modern view" are you relating of systematic doctrinal statements made with scripture. If so, I too have experienced such an impasse.
Perhaps I should have phrased "understand scripture" better in saying "the use of scripture". Surely there is a difference between scriptures use and our individual understanding of the words written. We can't be lil popes of scripture, nor can the Holy Spirit be schizophrenic. A leap of faith and groping in the dark is in order to straighten us out in our paradigm of thought.

No one likes the discomfort of a paradigm shift. Feeling like you don't know what you thought you did, makes one feel a bit :crazy:

What do you think scriptures "original meaning" is?

levi_athan
May 11th 2008, 02:24 AM
By "render" and "modern view" are you relating of systematic doctrinal statements made with scripture. If so, I too have experienced such an impasse.
Perhaps I should have phrased "understand scripture" better in saying "the use of scripture". Surely there is a difference between scriptures use and our individual understanding of the words written. We can't be lil popes of scripture, nor can the Holy Spirit be schizophrenic. A leap of faith and groping in the dark is in order to straighten us out in our paradigm of thought.

No one likes the discomfort of a paradigm shift. Feeling like you don't know what you thought you did, makes one feel a bit :crazy:

What do you think scriptures "original meaning" is?

When I refer to "original meaning" I just mean the historical context in which the scriptures were written. The Bible was written by a particular social group for a particular social group. Both of which are now long dead. So now it's the challenge of the church, all branches, all doctrines, to 'render', or represent ancient scripture as modern advice to fit all walks of life, which it was never meant to do. And the more critically you look at scripture, the more and more you understand this. Not to say there isn't ageless wisdom, but the Bible simply isn't a one-size-fits-all, solve all your problems sort of book, no matter what wacked out evangelical thinks so. Modern challenges require modern creative thinking. The Biblical authors never could imagined the problems we face. Most religious people today hold that the Bible contains the answer for absolutely everything, which, no offense, is rediculous.

mcgyver
May 11th 2008, 02:55 AM
When I refer to "original meaning" I just mean the historical context in which the scriptures were written. The Bible was written by a particular social group for a particular social group. Both of which are now long dead. So now it's the challenge of the church, all branches, all doctrines, to 'render', or represent ancient scripture as modern advice to fit all walks of life, which it was never meant to do. And the more critically you look at scripture, the more and more you understand this. Not to say there isn't ageless wisdom, but the Bible simply isn't a one-size-fits-all, solve all your problems sort of book, no matter what wacked out evangelical thinks so. Modern challenges require modern creative thinking. The Biblical authors never could imagined the problems we face. Most religious people today hold that the Bible contains the answer for absolutely everything, which, no offense, is rediculous.

I haven't been referred to as "a whacked-out Evangelical" for so long...I thought that I'd lost my touch :rofl::rofl::rofl:

levi_athan
May 11th 2008, 03:23 AM
I haven't been referred to as "a whacked-out Evangelical" for so long...I thought that I'd lost my touch :rofl::rofl::rofl:

I know, for some it's a source of pride. Mcgyver, are you really a Southern Baptist minister?

mcgyver
May 11th 2008, 03:32 AM
I know, for some it's a source of pride. Mcgyver, are you really a Southern Baptist minister?And yes, I'm an ordained Southern Baptist Minister of the conservative/evangelical ilk....But I absolutely refuse to handle any snakes :P :rofl::rofl:

Teke
May 11th 2008, 01:04 PM
When I refer to "original meaning" I just mean the historical context in which the scriptures were written. The Bible was written by a particular social group for a particular social group. Both of which are now long dead. So now it's the challenge of the church, all branches, all doctrines, to 'render', or represent ancient scripture as modern advice to fit all walks of life, which it was never meant to do. And the more critically you look at scripture, the more and more you understand this. Not to say there isn't ageless wisdom, but the Bible simply isn't a one-size-fits-all, solve all your problems sort of book, no matter what wacked out evangelical thinks so. Modern challenges require modern creative thinking. The Biblical authors never could imagined the problems we face. Most religious people today hold that the Bible contains the answer for absolutely everything, which, no offense, is rediculous.

I agree a lot of things people look for are not in the bible. The same can be said for church, that is, that a lot of things people look for are not there either.

Good news for you is that the ancient way hasn't been forgotten or left for dead somewhere. I found it. Took me 20 some yrs to do so, maybe that means I'm a slow learner, as I started with nothing as far as religion goes.

I found that the bible book was put together by the church as part of their tradition for worship. And the church never changes, though there are many who have tried to use the bible to change the church.

Because of a western upbringing I had a certain mindset. A lot of pride came with that thinking. It got to a point where God said just let it go. Then my second revelation came of His Church. This is why I tell folks who have had a revelation of the Son of God, now they have to find His Church. Since God leads us in an apophatic manner, I was lead to many churches to see what the church is not before He showed me what it is. But once you've found it the book fits right in like a puzzle piece.

And it's not just a matter of a book, but a matter of showing the teachings of Christ in action. Meaning being lived out by the faithful.

I don't know that "modern challenges require creative modern thinking" (like a progressive revelation). God never changes and neither should His Church. I think it's the other way around. Modern challenge and creative modern thinking need the Church the way Jesus left it.


A person has to really free their mind to be a Christian and worship the supernatural God. Then "all things are possible".:saint:

watchinginawe
May 11th 2008, 05:35 PM
The Temple cracks in half and no body pays attention, even though Luke is supposed to have studied every detail...

I think my next thread will be about the resurrection. That will be fun. :bounce:Be careful on that levi, I advise to keep it in this thread and observe the yellow lines.

God Bless!

watchinginawe
May 11th 2008, 09:28 PM
As far as the other gospels being true, the whole point of this thread is to show the questionable nature of supernatural events in all four gospels. I'm not sure I follow your chain of logic.I am going to address the logic to you, since you have copied Paine's writings here and are apparently defending them.

First, we start with the reasoning process offered by you:

The Gospel of Matthew claims an earthquake and graves opening up of saints at Jesus' death on the cross.
Is there validation for this claim?

Not in Gospel of Mark
Not in Gospel of Luke
Not in Gospel of John

Conclusion: The earthquake and a resurrection of the saints is not validated by the other Gospels and therefore might simply be "made up"
So, my logic is like this, adopting for the moment the same method and materials for validation:

The Gospel of Matthew claims that Jesus was resurrected (Matthew 28)
Is there validation for this claim?

Yes, in the Gospel of Mark 16
Yes, in the Gospel of Luke 24
Yes, in the Gospel of John 20-21

Conclusion: The resurrection of Jesus is validated by the other Gospels.
:hmm: That doesn't seem too hard to follow. I'll offer more in the conclusion of my post.
And regarding the peace I feel in my heart, it's beyond description.That is a little bit of a strange statement for an atheist. When I came to my "peace" as an atheist, I had no trouble describing it. It was not a "supernatural" or "unfathomable" thing at all. It was, in my mind, just embracing the cold hard "truth" of it all: There was no God and therefore no crutches needed. I guess that I would describe it as Forest Gump running out of his braces. I decided for myself what was "my reality" and embraced it. I was in control and I unilaterally declared peace on the subject. I already stated the result of that peace.
I feel like I'm in just the right place in life. Unlike you (according to your profile) the first 25 years of my life were spent in church. I was a community group leader, the founding president of the Christian clubs at both my high school and at my university, I was a praise and worship leader for five years, and I keep up with all of my old friends from church. They are the strongest relationships I have besides the one with my wife. And my atheism doesn't really come up that often. I wish it did because I love discussing it. That's really why I'm here. I love discussing faith. It's not because of personal internal struggle. I surrendered, too. I just surrendered to atheism. I was raised in a Christian home. In my atheist years (probably the last 7 or 8 years or so of my "dead 25"), I claimed to have come from being a Christian. I basically liked to state that I "matured" out of Christianity. All in all, we are more alike than not in our testimonies. We'll see where you wind up with yours in the end.
And by the way - I honestly hope this discussion has made your faith stronger. I hope it has encouraged you in some way. I don't care to 'convert' anybody to atheism. I just hope that we have a real discussion.I think we are having a real discussion. My faith is always strengthened in these discussions. Thomas Paine isn't something "new" to most of us. We have contemplated most of these topics in our lives, some of us like me even from the atheist world view.

Although you originally attributed Thomas Paine as a major contributor to the destruction of your faith, perhaps your later comments are really more accurate when you say it was just a book with a few interesting points. Our world view is probably more responsible for how we look at a work like Thomas Paine's view of the Gospels and not the other way around. One probably wouldn't study Paine's viewpoint to decide whether God exists or not. Instead, if one didn't believe God existed, then of course the Bible is not about a real "God", or a real "Son of God Jesus Christ". It would be all "made up". It would have to be, because God doesn't exist. So one reads Thomas Paine and their world view is supported.

If one does not believe God exists, then the arguement of Thomas Paine is really juvenile in a way. It adds nothing to the arguement about the existence of God. And if one's world view is that God exists, the arguements are easily explained away.

God Bless!