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The Trombone ForumPractice BreakChit-ChatReligion(Moderator: bhcordova) TTF "Read Da Book": The Christian Bible
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BillO
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« Reply #2920 on: Sep 12, 2017, 07:30AM »

3) This is the Matthew that some hold to be the author of the current text. If so, it is somewhat odd that no mention of that is made here, at the introduction of the character.
I also think it odd that Matthew meets Jesus for the first time 9 chapters into his purported eyewitness account.

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4) Why were tax collectors held in such low esteem?
This continues to today and probably will forever.  No one has ever thought they get full value for the taxes collected from them and they are probably right.

Just a personal point here.  I think all this miracle stuff is just a bit silly.  For me it detracts considerably from any possible veracity this text might hold.  I can see an itinerant preacher with a small entourage making his way around Palestine and going unnoticed by history, but someone capable of this level of magic would have unlikely gone without some historical record.
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« Reply #2921 on: Sep 12, 2017, 07:50AM »

Tax collectors were held in low esteem for a couple of reasons.

1.  It was a contract job from the Roman government that required a great deal of collaboration with the hated Roman authorities.  The tax collectors (publicans in older translations from the Latin publicani) got their pay out of the taxes that were collected.

2.  The Romans didn't care exactly what was collected as long as they got their proper share.  This made for a system that was rife for corruption and charging the people exorbitant rates which the tax collectors pocketed for themselves.
 

The Zacchaeus narrative in Luke 19 gives a window into this.
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« Reply #2922 on: Sep 12, 2017, 08:30PM »

There's a grammatical ambiguity here in the English. Is it the "poor in spirit" that are blessed, or is it the "poor" that are blessed "in spirit"?

Going back to the original Greek, it still doesn't seem clear, but then I speak no Greek. I am a little confused; you may well be right here. On what specific basis do you assert the above interpretation?

I'll certainly go along with the idea that the context of the writing leads us directly to various specifically Yahwist readings that I have deliberately filtered out in search of life lessons. I maintain that there is much to learn from this material for those of us not of Yahwist inclinations.

I am getting something of an impression that the frank acknowledgement of an atheist that they extract important life lessons from this material is not entirely a comfortable thing. This is both a little surprising and a little disappointing to me - I had hoped that we could find common ground in the precepts that we both admire. Instead I am being told that extending my admiration to certain aspects of Jesus's teaching is not legitimate unless I submit to the whole package. It feels rather as if you would prefer it if I simply rejected Jesus's thoughts wholesale - is that fair?

I recall the time when I made a conscious decision to withdraw from my mother's Christian church on the grounds that I did not believe in it. I recall resolving to separate out those elements that were generally applicable and good for life from those elements that were only specifically applicable to those that believed, and forming the idea that doing so let me have 'the best of both worlds'. It was not long after this that I first sat down to read the Bible front-to-back (which effort stalled in Psalms that time around, as I've mentioned before); for me this thread is the returning to that idea, the completion of a long-intended effort.

A wise man once said to me... Determining what responses to a text are "proper" is largely a matter of presuppositions...

The "in spirit" in Matthew 5:3 is in the dative case and the grammarians say that it is a "dative of respect."  In other words it conveys the idea of "in reference to" or "in regards to."   None of them suggest that it ought to convey the idea that they were blessed in their spirits because they were poor. Greek cases have some flexibility, but to get the idea that you suggested would have meant a different case would have been used, probably the genitive case rather than the dative.  If this is confusing to those who've never studied Greek or Latin, don't worry.  Sometimes I still get a bit confused. :)

Yes, presuppositions are important in determining what interpretations are "proper."  Since you seem to appreciate many aspects of the text, my hope is that this would actually challenge your own presuppositions to see that these "pearls of wisdom" have a divine origin and are not merely those of good human teacher. :)
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« Reply #2923 on: Sep 12, 2017, 09:56PM »

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30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them.
31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.”
32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters.
33 The herdsmen fled...

So this wasn't just a herd of wild pigs, someone was keeping them. Someone non-Jewish must be doing that and there must be a substantial non-Jewish population to support that endeavor, right?

And now their property is gone.
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« Reply #2924 on: Sep 12, 2017, 10:13PM »

I can see an itinerant preacher with a small entourage making his way around Palestine and going unnoticed by history, but someone capable of this level of magic would have unlikely gone without some historical record.

There is some historical record: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Those are records of what someone says they saw or heard from other witnesses. Yes, they were written decades after the events but so is most history.  Most of our ancient history comes from people writing decades or centuries after the events based on tales passed down to them.

And maybe the serious pagan chroniclers of the period are not paying close attention to every going on in Judea and any miracle stuff they dismiss out-of-hand as implausible.

How many accounts of the doings of common people are there from this time? They were 99.9% of the population but what we have is mostly about the kings and emperors and generals and senators. There's got to be tons of stuff that happened that isn't captured in what comes down to us.
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« Reply #2925 on: Sep 13, 2017, 03:08AM »

Have fun! Where are you off to?

I'm back.  We went to Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and Alice Springs.  Amazing geology whether you think God is behind it or not.  The guide told us all about the aboriginal myths around the formations, but I just wanted to know the geology.  I used to think Alice Springs was close to Uluru, but it 500km away.  Its just that there's nothing much in between.  Enough space to fit a couple of medium size European countries?

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« Reply #2926 on: Sep 13, 2017, 03:38AM »

There is some historical record: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Those are records of what someone says they saw or heard from other witnesses. Yes, they were written decades after the events but so is most history.  Most of our ancient history comes from people writing decades or centuries after the events based on tales passed down to them.

And maybe the serious pagan chroniclers of the period are not paying close attention to every going on in Judea and any miracle stuff they dismiss out-of-hand as implausible.

How many accounts of the doings of common people are there from this time? They were 99.9% of the population but what we have is mostly about the kings and emperors and generals and senators. There's got to be tons of stuff that happened that isn't captured in what comes down to us.

Completely agree, Rob.

The trouble is that M, M, L, and J are each grinding the same axe. To mildly recast a well-known maxim, "History is written by the survivors", and this gives us a flavour of how it is likely to be problematic when one partisan viewpoint comprises the whole of the available historical record.

So all we can do is read these books, ponder the viewpoints of the authors, ponder what their source material was, and ask ourselves how reliable a chronicler they seem. We've already in the OT seen a great variation in chronicling reliability; there seems no reason a priori to expect the NT to be markedly different in that respect. These books were written to put a pro-Christianity viewpoint across - such a pro-Christianity viewpoint that they now comprise the core of that religion's sacred texts. We are stuck with them if we want to develop an informed viewpoint on the things that they narrate, for better or for worse.
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« Reply #2927 on: Sep 13, 2017, 03:41AM »

Since you seem to appreciate many aspects of the text, my hope is that this would actually challenge your own presuppositions to see that these "pearls of wisdom" have a divine origin and are not merely those of good human teacher. :)

Sure, let's have your proof...

Thanks for the explication of the Greek. I always regret not being more educated linguistically, finding it limiting.
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« Reply #2928 on: Sep 13, 2017, 03:46AM »

I'm back.  We went to Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and Alice Springs.  Amazing geology whether you think God is behind it or not.  The guide told us all about the aboriginal myths around the formations, but I just wanted to know the geology.  I used to think Alice Springs was close to Uluru, but it 500km away.  Its just that there's nothing much in between.  Enough space to fit a couple of medium size European countries?

I was under that impression too - useful to rectify it, in case we ever get around to visiting the place!

Plotting out your itinerary shows us quite how madly huge and empty Australia is... Some little blue route squiggles in the middle total up 11.5 hours of driving.

Did you fly or drive from Sydney?
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« Reply #2929 on: Sep 13, 2017, 03:57AM »

Matthew 10 text

Highlights

 - A complete roster of disciples is sent out to proselytise to Israel

Summary

 - All the 12 disciples are now present
 - They are sent out to preach Jesus's message as his ambassadors, with instructions to only engage with Israelite places where they are welcome
 - Jesus warns them that it is a dangerous mission, one that attract ill will and violence
 - But assures them that the spiritual long term rewards will outweigh the short term real world dangers
 - Jesus acknowledges that his message is divisive, and will result in conflict

Questions and Observations

1) Ah, suddenly all the disciples are here, when we'd only so far counted up to five in previous chapters. Do we learn more about the others previously unaccounted for in the other gospels?
2) With this team assembled, the expanded franchise can be put into practice.
3) The distinction with Samaritans is underscored here. We read earlier that this arose due to the suppression of Yahwism by the conquering Assyrians, and the adoption of alternative means of worship by the locals. Samaritanism, it seems to me, can be regarded as a locally grown competitor to Judaism, grown from the same roots. The specific exclusion of them, with the word "gentiles" not covering them, seems to acknowledge their common heritage.
4) More of the iron fist inside the velvet glove is apparent in this chapter.
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« Reply #2930 on: Sep 13, 2017, 04:47AM »

There is some historical record: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Those are records of what someone says they saw or heard from other witnesses. Yes, they were written decades after the events but so is most history.  Most of our ancient history comes from people writing decades or centuries after the events based on tales passed down to them.

And maybe the serious pagan chroniclers of the period are not paying close attention to every going on in Judea and any miracle stuff they dismiss out-of-hand as implausible.

How many accounts of the doings of common people are there from this time? They were 99.9% of the population but what we have is mostly about the kings and emperors and generals and senators. There's got to be tons of stuff that happened that isn't captured in what comes down to us.

Actually the gospels we are reading come closest to being an "account of the doings of the common people" as any ancient text.  According to the texts themselves, Matthew was a tax collector, John a fisherman, and Luke a physician.  Mark was the companion of Peter, another fisherman. 

KIngs, emperors, generals, etc. are mostly peripheral in these texts, except where they are necessary to fill out the narrative.  A few, such as Herod and Pilate play larger roles, but the texts focus on the actions and reactions of mostly common folks. 

This has actually made a few skeptical about the historicity of the texts, but historic Christian believers see it rather as one of several "rings of truth" to borrow a term from an author who wrote on the historicity of the NT.
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« Reply #2931 on: Sep 13, 2017, 05:20AM »

There is some historical record: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Those are records of what someone says they saw or heard from other witnesses.


Well, there are 16 other gospels.  Do they all agree as well as these four?   Historical facts and histories are different things.  Histories are but together through gathering historical facts.  Historical facts come from records (city, state, ruling governments, chronicles, scholarly works, church records, letters, business agreements, etc...) that are contemporary with the things they depict and archeological data.  Yes, the histories may be written some time later from these records.


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How many accounts of the doings of common people are there from this time? They were 99.9% of the population but what we have is mostly about the kings and emperors and generals and senators. There's got to be tons of stuff that happened that isn't captured in what comes down to us.
I allowed that - except for all the magic, and there was quite a bit of it.  Sometimes fairly spectacular and effecting many people.  Plus there are the Trump like claims to the sizes of his audience.  Surely these would have been noticed, no?  Then there are all the things that just don't line up with historical record.

The NT has a slightly different feel to it than the OT, but it is full of the same genre of exaggerated and unsupportable stories.

Your welcome to your thoughts on this Rob, as I am.  I just find it strange that the life of the purported most important man in human existence went by without notice by anyone except a few of his purported followers who also show up nowhere in historical record and cannot even be verified as being the authors of the books they are associated with.  It's almost like none of them existed.
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« Reply #2932 on: Sep 13, 2017, 05:35AM »

Matthew 10 text

Highlights

 - A complete roster of disciples is sent out to proselytise to Israel

Summary

 - All the 12 disciples are now present
 - They are sent out to preach Jesus's message as his ambassadors, with instructions to only engage with Israelite places where they are welcome.
He also gave them the power of miracles to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and cast out demons.

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1) Ah, suddenly all the disciples are here, when we'd only so far counted up to five in previous chapters. Do we learn more about the others previously unaccounted for in the other gospels?
I noticed that too.  Perhaps some time has passed.  Maybe Matthew had been away for a time.

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3) The distinction with Samaritans is underscored here. We read earlier that this arose due to the suppression of Yahwism by the conquering Assyrians, and the adoption of alternative means of worship by the locals. Samaritanism, it seems to me, can be regarded as a locally grown competitor to Judaism, grown from the same roots. The specific exclusion of them, with the word "gentiles" not covering them, seems to acknowledge their common heritage.
It does seem that Jesus was not interested in anyone outside the Jewish faith.  The rest of be dammed, apparently.  There's not much difference between the Samaritan faith and that of the Jews.  SUch a tiny distinction was apparently enough to have them excluded. It's quite ironic how it was the gentiles that eventually took to him instead of the Jews.  He must certainly be quite disappointed.

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4) More of the iron fist inside the velvet glove is apparent in this chapter.
Is it ever really far off?
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« Reply #2933 on: Sep 13, 2017, 05:42AM »

IIRC, It seems that somewhere in my moth eaten brain, I seem to remember that there was a Historian, totally independent, that wrote a complete history of these times. His name was Josephus. Correct me if I'm wrong.
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« Reply #2934 on: Sep 13, 2017, 05:50AM »

Flavius Josephus
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« Reply #2935 on: Sep 13, 2017, 05:59AM »

IIRC, It seems that somewhere in my moth eaten brain, I seem to remember that there was a Historian, totally independent, that wrote a complete history of these times. His name was Josephus. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Yes Dusty, you are right.  However, I don't think he had much to say about Jesus.

"Jesus the Messiah was a wise teacher who was crucified by Pilate."

"The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James"

Both of these were written about 60-70 AD and were probably taken from the gospels.

He really had more to say about John the Baptist.  It is thought that his brief accounts of JtB were factual.
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« Reply #2936 on: Sep 13, 2017, 06:20AM »


It does seem that Jesus was not interested in anyone outside the Jewish faith.  The rest of be dammed, apparently.  There's not much difference between the Samaritan faith and that of the Jews.  SUch a tiny distinction was apparently enough to have them excluded. It's quite ironic how it was the gentiles that eventually took to him instead of the Jews.  He must certainly be quite disappointed.
Is it ever really far off?

Bill, check out Matthew 28: 19-20 and John 10:16 for the answer to your first misstatement.  It was all a matter of timing, fulfillment of the Old Testament covenant promises, etc.  There's often more to understanding the text than a superficial reading.
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« Reply #2937 on: Sep 13, 2017, 06:24AM »

Yes Dusty, you are right.  However, I don't think he had much to say about Jesus.

"Jesus the Messiah was a wise teacher who was crucified by Pilate."

"The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James"

Both of these were written about 60-70 AD and were probably taken from the gospels.

He really had more to say about John the Baptist.  It is thought that his brief accounts of JtB were factual.

The most accessible small book on this topic is by F. F. Bruce.  Bruce taught at the universities of Sheffield and Manchester in the UK and was a classical historian by training before he switched to NT historical studies.

Here's a link:

https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Christian-Origins-Outside-Testament/dp/0802815758
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« Reply #2938 on: Sep 13, 2017, 06:27AM »

Bill, check out Matthew 28: 19-20 and John 10:16 for the answer to your first misstatement.  It was all a matter of timing, fulfillment of the Old Testament covenant promises, etc.  There's often more to understanding the text than a superficial reading.
John, I'm actually aware of those.  I was speaking in context of Matthew 10.
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« Reply #2939 on: Sep 13, 2017, 06:37AM »

The most accessible small book on this topic is by F. F. Bruce.  Bruce taught at the universities of Sheffield and Manchester in the UK and was a classical historian by training before he switched to NT historical studies.

Here's a link:

https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Christian-Origins-Outside-Testament/dp/0802815758
I think the Wiki article on this is probably the most accessible on several levels.  It is well written and referenced and draws from the work of 58 named authors on both sides of the question.  Maybe if you have a chance you can read it and let us know what you think.  Save some of us $35 since we only need a summary version.
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