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The Trombone ForumPractice BreakChit-ChatReligion(Moderator: bhcordova) TTF "Read Da Book": The Christian Bible
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timothy42b
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« Reply #2860 on: Sep 07, 2017, 04:59AM »

Colour me slightly confused Tim. I have you down as a believer, but one keen on reconciling apparent illogicalities. Not an anti-religious person at all. Is that correct?

Mostly correct.  I believe the illogicalities and contradictions are real but unimportant.  I think the effort put into forcing explanations on them is wrong headed.  We get some stuff wrong, that's to be expected. 

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Note that (see above), it's my understanding that Tim isn't anti-religious at all, quite the opposite. He was annoyed (I think) as a believer to be presented with such weak demonstrations as he was.

Yes.  I find a weak demonstration insulting - they expect me to be stupid enough to buy it, without making the effort to clean it up.  I realize that may be a bit of an overreaction; some of the apologists probably aren't all that aware of how weak their positions are. 
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« Reply #2861 on: Sep 07, 2017, 06:14AM »

why do you think that?  And I ask because I think that there are characteristics of the gospel that are consistent with being written by a tax collector.
Form consensus more than anything.  I'm not a theologian and have never taken an active part in trying to determine authorship, but I have read the works of Christian theologians.  Most of those I have read seem to be of the opinion that all except John are considered to be anonymous.  Richard Bauckham comes to mind.  Even John is in dispute with a majority not supporting it to be an eyewitness account.  Then there is the 'Q' source.  Then there is the striking similarities between Mark Matthew and Luke causing some to hypothesis that Matthew and Luke are just re-tellings of Mark.  All this comes from theologians.



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Do you think it would be useful to do a parallel comparison of the different accounts so we get a better understanding of what their different perspectives were? May be we could build one up as we do each account.
Mark, Mathew and Luke don't differ much so they will parallel very nicely.  John seems different.  However, with the originality of Matthew and Luke in doubt I don't think much can really be gained from a consensus view.  Pick one (Mark was supposedly written first) and compare it to John.  I think that might be of some use.

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I thought he was referring you to historians. 
This:
http://www.equip.org/bible_answers/do-the-genealogies-of-jesus-in-matthew-and-luke-contradict-one-another/ is a historical commentary?  I don't read it that way.

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But how would you define objective in this context?
I think you know what I mean here.  One does not ask the Toyota salesman if the Toyota is better than the Honda, you'll get a more objective view if you ask a mechanic that works on both.  So, an objective source, here or anywhere else, would be a source that has no vested interest in the nature of the findings.

For an example, whenever I argue against something I find in the Bible, I use the Bible itself or the work of theologians to demonstrate my point.  Neither of these sources would have anything vested in someone winning a point against the Bible/religion.  I would never quote Krauss or Dawkins since they are obviously vested against religion and would not, for the purposes of my argument, be considered objective.

There are experts on both sides of the religious debate.  However, I find that proponents of religion total discount those experts that come out against religion as though they don't exist.  I don't think I am speaking solely for myself here, but I find it hard to be convinced when only a single side of the argument is ever presented.  What we get here all the time is akin to "Toyota are great cars, and here is a link to a Toyota engineer that says so."  or "The Gospel according to Luke is a wonderful and accurate account of Jesus' life, and to prove it, here is a link to a guy that believes in how wonderful and accurate the Gospel according to Luke is."
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« Reply #2862 on: Sep 07, 2017, 06:22AM »

Matthew 4 text

Highlights

 - 40 days/nights of fasting and tempting in the wilderness
 - Jesus moves to Capernaum and recruits his first four disciples
 - Jesus's fame grows, and he starts to attract large groups of people

Summary

Wilderness
 - Jesus goes into the wilderness, where he fasts for a symbolic 40 days and 40 nights
 - "The tempter" suggests that he make the stones into bread, but Jesus is not having it
 - "The Devil" takes him to a high place, and suggests he fling himself off, citing OT verses about how he will be protected; again Jesus is not having it
 - Seemingly rather out of ideas, the Devil takes him to a high mountain from where he can see all the kingdoms of the world, and tells Jesus that he, Satan, will give him all these kingdoms if he will worship him; once more, Jesus is not keen

Capernaum
 - John is reported arrested
 - Jesus hears of this and goes somewhere more discreet: Capernaum, on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee
 - Jesus begins preaching here, saying that "The kingdom of heaven is at hand"

Disciples
 - Brothers Simon (Peter) and Andrew are the first two, fishermen on the Sea of Galilee
 - Next are James and John, brothers, sons of Zebedee

Mass movement
 - Jesus travels around Galilee, preaching in the synagogues with his message
 - He heals all the illnesses of people
 - His fame spreads through Syria, and Syrians bring him their ill to heal
 - Large crowds attend him, made up of people from all over - Galilee (which denoted a large district, the North of the Roman province of Judaea), the Decapolis (a loose grouping of ten cities - hence the name - that represented the furthest growth of the Roman empire in that direction), Jerusalem/Judaea, and "beyond the Jordan" (which is where the Decapolis was, so perhaps this refers to rural dwellers, followers less Romanised/Hellenised)

Questions and Observations

1) Martin's suggestion of building up a compare/contrast as we go through the four gospels strikes me as an excellent one. There are more gospels, aren't there, ones that aren't included in the canon? It would be interesting to include these in the exercise too. Perhaps as an appendix, after we finish the NT? Does anyone have a list?
2) I'm getting the feeling that quote-spotting's going to be a big part of the regular NT game... "Man [...] by bread alone" is from Deuteronomy 8:3.
3) The tempter's reply in v6 is from Psalm 91:11-12. It's presented as two separated quotes, but is two successive verses.
4) I assume that "the tempter" and "the Devil" are the same character here.
5) No matter how high your vantage point, it is geometrically impossible to see all the kingdoms of the globe.
6) Jesus's reply - is this Exodus 23:25?
7) Bit weird how Satan could transport Jesus around against his will like that. Who's got the power here?
8) 40 is a number chosen for symbolic reasons - to match 40 years in the Exodus. This all seems a bit... well... constructed. How satisfying can the fulfilment of prophecy be if the fulfiller so brazenly goes out of their way to create the circumstances? The feeling is of Jesus working his way down a ticklist.
9) Why was John arrested? Presumably this is The Baptist, rather than some other John, but it doesn't specify.
10) Another prophecy tick. The one about Zebulun and Naphtali is from Isaiah 9:1-2.
11) Jesus's initial message seems to be "The end times are here". That's not quite how he went on to play things out. Perhaps we see some refinement of his ideas through his narrative.
12) Zebedee can't have been too pleased to be left mending nets by himself. Religious agitation must have seemed a stimulating time after the steady but hard and dull making of a living fishing.
13) Regarding healing illnesses... Televangelists have no trouble making it look like they do this stuff too.
14) Busy chapters, these...
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« Reply #2863 on: Sep 07, 2017, 06:24AM »




Mark, Mathew and Luke don't differ much so they will parallel very nicely.  John seems different.  However, with the originality of Matthew and Luke in doubt I don't think much can really be gained from a consensus view.  Pick one (Mark was supposedly written first) and compare it to John.  I think that might be of some use.

It's an interesting exercise to lay out the three synoptic gospels in parallel, I'm sure it's done by everybody in seminary.

There are other gospels.  We actually have 20, but only 4 made the cut to the canon.  I've read the other 16 and some are pretty out there in terms of miracles and supernatural workings.

However, the 5 that were most common in the early church included the Gospel of Thomas, and there are those who believe the gospel of John was actually written as a response or even rebuttal to Thomas.  
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #2864 on: Sep 07, 2017, 06:34AM »

It's an interesting exercise to lay out the three synoptic gospels in parallel, I'm sure it's done by everybody in seminary.

There are other gospels.  We actually have 20, but only 4 made the cut to the canon.  I've read the other 16 and some are pretty out there in terms of miracles and supernatural workings.

However, the 5 that were most common in the early church included the Gospel of Thomas, and there are those who believe the gospel of John was actually written as a response or even rebuttal to Thomas.  

Yes, we used a synopsis of the 3 Gospels.  I also have a 4 Gospels synopsis.  John often has unique material, but there are a number of parallels.

Thomas is quite different.  Here's a link-- note Bill it's a PBS source. :)

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/primary/gthomas.html
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« Reply #2865 on: Sep 07, 2017, 09:40AM »

Good!
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« Reply #2866 on: Sep 07, 2017, 10:47AM »

Yes, we used a synopsis of the 3 Gospels.  I also have a 4 Gospels synopsis.  John often has unique material, but there are a number of parallels.

Thomas is quite different.  Here's a link-- note Bill it's a PBS source. :)

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/primary/gthomas.html
Not sure I like all of them:

114 Simon Peter said to them, "Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life."

Jesus said, "Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven."
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« Reply #2867 on: Sep 07, 2017, 12:08PM »

That one caught my eye too, and not just because it's the final one - deeply bizarre stuff. Anyone have a clue what it might mean?
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« Reply #2868 on: Sep 07, 2017, 12:18PM »

Not sure I like all of them:

114 Simon Peter said to them, "Make Mary leave us, for females don't deserve life."

Jesus said, "Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven."


It is usually considered a gnostic gospel and the feminists often like the gnostics.  With sayings like that, I'm really not sure why.  When I read the sayings, I can see why it isn't canonical. :)
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« Reply #2869 on: Sep 07, 2017, 12:52PM »

The theory is that Q was a sayings text, later fleshed into a narrative in Mark.

Sometimes sayings texts are more palatable put in narrative form, with some context added. 
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« Reply #2870 on: Sep 07, 2017, 02:57PM »

Form consensus more than anything.  I'm not a theologian and have never taken an active part in trying to determine authorship, but I have read the works of Christian theologians.  Most of those I have read seem to be of the opinion that all except John are considered to be anonymous. 

whereas most that I've read provide reasons why we can be confident that the writers were the traditional ones.  Maybe we should read more widely.

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Even John is in dispute with a majority not supporting it to be an eyewitness account. 

what are the numbers? who counted? who was included and excluded?  enquiring minds want to know?  and what were there reasons?

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Then there is the 'Q' source.  Then there is the striking similarities between Mark Matthew and Luke causing some to hypothesis that Matthew and Luke are just re-tellings of Mark.  All this comes from theologians.

Not all theologians agree with the Q source theory, and neither do historians.

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Mark, Mathew and Luke don't differ much so they will parallel very nicely.  John seems different.  However, with the originality of Matthew and Luke in doubt I don't think much can really be gained from a consensus view.  Pick one (Mark was supposedly written first) and compare it to John.  I think that might be of some use.

Matthew and Mark aren't just retellings of Mark, while the have used much of what he said, and corrected his grammar, as you said each provide their own perspective, and added extra information. It seems clear that they have each written with slightly different purposes.  So I think its useful to compare all three.

Incidentally I can't see any reason why the fact that Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source is a problem.  So I'd be interested to read your reasons if you think it is.

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I think you know what I mean here.  One does not ask the Toyota salesman if the Toyota is better than the Honda, you'll get a more objective view if you ask a mechanic that works on both.  So, an objective source, here or anywhere else, would be a source that has no vested interest in the nature of the findings.

So you wouldn't expect an objective view on physics if you asked a physicist?  Who do you ask about creation theories?  Someone who's worked on both sides?

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For an example, whenever I argue against something I find in the Bible, I use the Bible itself or the work of theologians to demonstrate my point.  Neither of these sources would have anything vested in someone winning a point against the Bible/religion.  I would never quote Krauss or Dawkins since they are obviously vested against religion and would not, for the purposes of my argument, be considered objective.

I take your point that some ideas are vested.  But some fields have to be explained by the experts in that field, ie physics and history.  I think there is a difference in that you rely on experts for some things and not for others.  You would get a historian to explain what happened (and take his interpretation with a large grain of salt)  but would not be so trusting if you asked him if those events were wonderful and great.  You would make up your own mind.  So for the bible.  Experts can tell you about what happened.  You get to make up your own mind how to feel about that.

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There are experts on both sides of the religious debate.  However, I find that proponents of religion total discount those experts that come out against religion as though they don't exist.  I don't think I am speaking solely for myself here, but I find it hard to be convinced when only a single side of the argument is ever presented.  What we get here all the time is akin to "Toyota are great cars, and here is a link to a Toyota engineer that says so."  or "The Gospel according to Luke is a wonderful and accurate account of Jesus' life, and to prove it, here is a link to a guy that believes in how wonderful and accurate the Gospel according to Luke is."

I agree.  I find arguments that look at opposing opinions and explain the evidence for and against much more convincing than those that do not.  Good theologians do that, although lots of books written for plebs in the pews don't.
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« Reply #2871 on: Sep 07, 2017, 03:52PM »

what are the numbers? who counted? who was included and excluded?  enquiring minds want to know?  and what were there reasons?
I got that one recently.  I think it was from a Wiki somewhere.  I was traditionally and am still okay with John being written by a guy named John.

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So I think its useful to compare all three.
If you like.  I think John (our John) mentioned he has something like this.  Maybe he could share.

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Incidentally I can't see any reason why the fact that Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source is a problem.  So I'd be interested to read your reasons if you think it is.
A priori I don't really.  It's just that there is likely to be a lot in common between them.  Using my Toyota example again, It's like comparing the what the salesman, mechanic and engineer for Toyota have to say about the car.  They may have different perspectives, but not by much.

So you wouldn't expect an objective view on physics if you asked a physicist?  Fist off, 'physics' is too broad a brush.  I would say you can't be guaranteed an objective view of string theory form a guy doing string theory for a living.  Second, I really hate comparing science to religion.  It's like comparing apples to wastepaper baskets.

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Who do you ask about creation theories?  Someone who's worked on both sides?
Worked on both sides?  No, I tried getting God to come to a debate, but he was busy. :/  However, input from both creationists and astrophysicists might be a good thing.

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I take your point that some ideas are vested.  But some fields have to be explained by the experts in that field, ie physics and history.  I think there is a difference in that you rely on experts for some things and not for others.  You would get a historian to explain what happened (and take his interpretation with a large grain of salt)  but would not be so trusting if you asked him if those events were wonderful and great.  You would make up your own mind.  So for the bible.  Experts can tell you about what happened.  You get to make up your own mind how to feel about that.
I'm not saying not to listen to experts.  If I read a history about YXZ and that historian wrote something I felt was incorrect, I could go back to him and ask him to explain it.  Or failing that I'd go to the reviews of peer historians.  The same case applies to science.  However, I would not go to his fan club and ask them.  Keep in mind I am talking about a human here.  They have fan clubs.  So please don't make the jump to me thinking that the religious are merely God's fan club.  However the two are analogous.

The Bible, God and religion are indeed different from those purely human endeavors you are using for your example.  You make the comparison with how I'd view another human's work.  I rely on my own judgement and the peer review process.  Where the work of historians and physicist is taken apart bit by bit and critically questioned by men of equal stature and standing.  This is not only possible with the historian and the physicist - it happens as a matter of course.  We will never be able to bring God before a committee of his peers to explain what has been presented as his inerrant word.

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« Reply #2872 on: Sep 07, 2017, 04:14PM »

The Bible, God and religion are indeed different from those purely human endeavors you are using for your example.  You make the comparison with how I'd view another human's work.  I rely on my own judgement and the peer review process.  Where the work of historians and physicist is taken apart bit by bit and critically questioned by men of equal stature and standing.  This is not only possible with the historian and the physicist - it happens as a matter of course.  We will never be able to bring God before a committee of his peers to explain what has been presented as his inerrant word.

From my point of view you're not comparing actors at the same level in the analysis review process.

I see the natural world just as much the work of God as the bible.  So the person trying to understand and explain the bible, is at the same level of the process as the person trying to understand and explain the natural world.  And the analysis and the review of the work of both happens at the level of the person understanding and explaining the God's work not at what God has done.

Apologies for comparing science and the bible again.  And I know you don't consider the bible as a work of God so I don't expect you to agree with me, just hope that you will understand my PoV.  This is one case where our different WorldViews overlap but differ.

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« Reply #2873 on: Sep 07, 2017, 05:20PM »

Matthew 4 text

Highlights

 - 40 days/nights of fasting and tempting in the wilderness
 - Jesus moves to Capernaum and recruits his first four disciples
 - Jesus's fame grows, and he starts to attract large groups of people

Summary

Wilderness
 - Jesus goes into the wilderness, where he fasts for a symbolic 40 days and 40 nights
 - "The tempter" suggests that he make the stones into bread, but Jesus is not having it
 - "The Devil" takes him to a high place, and suggests he fling himself off, citing OT verses about how he will be protected; again Jesus is not having it
 - Seemingly rather out of ideas, the Devil takes him to a high mountain from where he can see all the kingdoms of the world, and tells Jesus that he, Satan, will give him all these kingdoms if he will worship him; once more, Jesus is not keen

some theologians point out that the attraction of this offer was that it meant that Jesus would have seemingly been able to acheive his mission without having to go through rejection, torture and dieing.

Quote
Capernaum
 - John is reported arrested
 - Jesus hears of this and goes somewhere more discreet: Capernaum, on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee
 - Jesus begins preaching here, saying that "The kingdom of heaven is at hand"

Disciples
 - Brothers Simon (Peter) and Andrew are the first two, fishermen on the Sea of Galilee
 - Next are James and John, brothers, sons of Zebedee

Mass movement
 - Jesus travels around Galilee, preaching in the synagogues with his message
 - He heals all the illnesses of people
 - His fame spreads through Syria, and Syrians bring him their ill to heal
 - Large crowds attend him, made up of people from all over - Galilee (which denoted a large district, the North of the Roman province of Judaea), the Decapolis (a loose grouping of ten cities - hence the name - that represented the furthest growth of the Roman empire in that direction), Jerusalem/Judaea, and "beyond the Jordan" (which is where the Decapolis was, so perhaps this refers to rural dwellers, followers less Romanised/Hellenised)

Questions and Observations

4) I assume that "the tempter" and "the Devil" are the same character here.

I think so too

Quote
5) No matter how high your vantage point, it is geometrically impossible to see all the kingdoms of the globe.

I am sure that Matthew knew this: I think this is meant to be symbolic, or magical

Quote
7) Bit weird how Satan could transport Jesus around against his will like that. Who's got the power here?

I thought that Jesus knew it was a test that he had to go through and did it willingly.  I don't know of any evidence except that Satan wouldn't have been able to do it if Jesus didn't want to.

Quote
8) 40 is a number chosen for symbolic reasons - to match 40 years in the Exodus. This all seems a bit... well... constructed. How satisfying can the fulfilment of prophecy be if the fulfiller so brazenly goes out of their way to create the circumstances? The feeling is of Jesus working his way down a ticklist.

Well in this case it wasn't a prophecy.  Jesus did it deliberately so that a comparison between himself and Israel could be made.  Israel was in the wilderness for 40 years, was tested and failed.  Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, was tested and got a HD.  Observant readers are going to see lots of other examples where Jesus is presented as the true Israel that fulfilled God's purpose for the nation.

But for the general case of whether prophecy fulfillment loses its value if the fulfillment is knowing:  I agree that many prophecy fulfillments were deliberate actions by Jesus which to me means that they aren't meant as infallible proofs, that Jesus is the Messiah for example, but were supporting arguments and signs to make people think.  This would be for things that Jesus did that normal people might try, like spend 40 days fasting in the wilderness (and no I'm not going to try it).  But things like healing paralytics, leprosy, raising the dead, raising yourself from the dead, calming storms, feeding 5000 etc carry more weight, even though they were deliberate, because they were things that required special power or authority.

Quote
9) Why was John arrested? Presumably this is The Baptist, rather than some other John, but it doesn't specify.

spoiler: Mark 6:17...

Quote
11) Jesus's initial message seems to be "The end times are here". That's not quite how he went on to play things out. Perhaps we see some refinement of his ideas through his narrative.

or as my minister says, the end times started at the cross

At this stage Jesus is saying much the same as John was: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand"
Some theologians see this as statement as equivalent to saying that the King had arrived.

Quote
13) Regarding healing illnesses... Televangelists have no trouble making it look like they do this stuff too.

But we wouldn't stereotype would we? 

Does it sound like these mass healings are staged?

Quote
14) Busy chapters, these...

Yeah, he'll need to take a rest soon
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« Reply #2874 on: Sep 07, 2017, 06:28PM »

Bill, some of the material that theologians and biblical scholars rely on is indeed by historians.  Some are believers and some are not.  Are you suggesting to us that because an ancient historian might happen to be a believer, his work is suspect?

One of the best NT scholars of a previous generation was F.F. Bruce.  He began his career as a highly regarded classical historian before he switched to biblical studies and was a conservative Protestant Christian-- his church affiliation was Plymouth Brethren.
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« Reply #2875 on: Sep 07, 2017, 08:54PM »

I wouldn't care in the present company to call someone "ignorant" for swallowing Joseph and Mary's explanation...  Evil
...
Also - Bethlehem wasn't the sticks.

oops, I think I was thinking of Nazareth.  They were way out in the country and considered to be complete Bogans.

So even if Bethlehem was close to Jerusalem I don't think they would have had commuters, so
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« Reply #2876 on: Sep 07, 2017, 11:16PM »

I'm off to wander around in the Oz wilderness aka the outback for 4 day's. And I won't be fasting.

Obviously I have a lot of work to do to be like Jesus
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« Reply #2877 on: Sep 08, 2017, 03:01AM »

some theologians point out that the attraction of this offer was that it meant that Jesus would have seemingly been able to acheive his mission without having to go through rejection, torture and dieing.

I also wonder whether in the believing paradigm Satan would have had the ability to gift this. If somebody promises you something that doesn't belong to them, it's easy to dismiss them.

It's quite striking how Satan is immediately part of the NT story, but barely appeared in the OT. In the centuries that are not well documented in these texts (i.e. the 400+ years from Nehemiah to Jesus), Judaism has evidently evolved to take him in.

I am sure that Matthew knew this: I think this is meant to be symbolic, or magical

There's a quote in Isaiah about the "circle of the world", suggesting a knowledge of a round earth, something that would have been apparent to anyone who had ever lived in a seaside city and watched the masts of a ship come into sight from the top downwards. Further, the Greeks had logically settled this question some centuries before, even in the 2nd century BC producing a not-terrible calculation of its overall size. It would seem odd for the author of Matthew not to have known this, and so I too think that it's no more than a literary device.

Or maybe the author's more sophisticated than we give them credit for... Perhaps the peak was high in a fourth spatial dimension, from which they could see all three-dimensional objects...  Evil

But we wouldn't stereotype would we?

Just pointing out that there's a long history of known charlatans exploiting the psychologically susceptible into temporarily believing in a healing. Placebo is a crazy thing.

Does it sound like these mass healings are staged?

To be blunt, it sounds like they are made up and/or inflated in this hagiographic narrative written after his lifetime. My suspicion is that perhaps part of his shtick was a similar kind of 'healing hands' thing to the sort of Revivalist (is that a suitable word? Not sure the exact attribution is terrifically important - but hopefully you know what I mean) "I cast thee OOOUUUTTT!!!" from more recent days. To give him maximum benefit of doubt, this doesn't even have to be cynically done - someone ill comes on stage, the performance is done, and they walk away, full of the joys of placebo. For long enough that when placebo fails the performer isn't still about to see it.

Yeah, he'll need to take a rest soon

Poor chap. Even Mozart lived longer.

I'm off to wander around in the Oz wilderness aka the outback for 4 day's. And I won't be fasting.

Obviously I have a lot of work to do to be like Jesus

Have fun! Where are you off to?

And we all do. Even those of us who utterly reject his mystical message, but simply think that various of his earthly injunctions make a lot of sense in terms of treating each other well.
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« Reply #2878 on: Sep 08, 2017, 03:50AM »

Matthew 5 text

Highlights

 - "The Sermon on the Mount", part 1

Summary

 - Jesus addresses his adoring public, climbing up on a hill for a better projection
 - He delivers a series of aphorisms, known as the Beatitudes, a grouping of thoughts that can reasonably be held to define the core of Christianity
 - He tells them to advertise with pride their affiliation to him
 - He tells them that the Law is not to be changed in the slightest
 - He tells them that anger is a corrosive emotion, one that should always be resolved by discussion
 - He tells them that looking at a woman with carnal thoughts is as bad as adultery with her
 - He tells them that the only good ground for giving a woman a divorce is her pre-existing sexual bad behaviour
 - He tells them not to swear oaths, lest they commit to controlling something outside of their control
 - He tells them that "An eye for an eye" is not good to insist on; rather "turn the other cheek"
 - He tells them to love even those that make it difficult to do so

Questions and Observations

1) Jesus is getting into this leadership thing.
2) Which mount is it? Surprised it isn't more explicitly specified.
3) No PA systems in 1st century Palestine. I guess those at the back of the crowd must have had the words relayed by those closer to the front or else just not heard them.
4) Important chapter this. Things that Christians are instructed are signifiers of virtue: poverty, empathy, humility, desire for justice, mercy, honesty, defusing of hostility, standing up for what's right in the face of persecution, standing up for Jesus in the face of persecution. How many Christians value and uphold these attributes? How many non-Christians do the same? There's a lot of universal good sense here, uplifting to read from a figure raised in such a violent and brutal age.
5) In particular, I would charge many involved in the current US partisan synthesis of the Republican party with their Christianity of overlooking a number of these basic tenets - primarily that in no sense does the Republican party respect the poor (rather it makes wealth a virtue and seeks to deny the poor access to facilities). I have long been baffled by the attachment between some Christians and our most reactionary and wealth-exalting politicians. Jesus would I feel have been equally baffled - and a great deal hurt to have it done in his name. If he came back today, he would be derided by these people as a "socialist" and a "communist", his solidarity with the downtrodden seen as weakness.
6) v18: For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. He is, I assume, talking about Mosaic Law - the passage does not seem to fit any other interpretation (e.g. Roman Law), talking as it does about the Pharisees. I note this for future reference - as I recall Paul later tells us that Jesus basically revoked Mosaic Law in favour of his words? How do we resolve this apparent contradiction?
7) Jesus is advocating an orderly mind; an internal existence of discipline, restraint, and content. It is largely sensible stuff suitable for anyone regardless of religious affiliation.
8) There is a certain amount of sympathy for women as people in vv 27-32. More so than in any of his predecessors. This also is heartening.
9) Oaths - this is sensible, and something I hadn't been aware of - but I'm delighted to find that it fits well with my worldview. Do not attempt to control things that are not within your control. You can control what you do - but you cannot control what others do; attempting to do so leads to sadness. Suggest, reason, lead by example; but do not attempt to force.
10) "Turn the other cheek" is perhaps the most striking of Jesus's teachings in my view. It feels so counter-intuitive, but it does so much good - replace violence with acceptance and goodwill. Pure genius.
11) In summary - for me, this chapter contains much of what is good about Christianity as a concept. And there's more to come.
12) We note that various people (e.g. the current Dalai Lama) have compared the messages of this chapter to Buddhism. Indeed, some have gone so far as to suggest that Jesus's long absence from childhood to age 30ish involved travel to the Far East and study of Buddhism, which seems far-fetched to me. It's a long old way to India from Judaea, after all. I suspect that a good idea is simply a good idea, whoever has it, and the best ideas tend to be had in several different places independently.
13) Leaving aside Buddhism, these ideas do rather depart from earlier Judaic thought as preserved in these books. Were there nearby movements in the years before Jesus that adopted this kind of radical pacifist stance?
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Dave Taylor

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« Reply #2879 on: Sep 08, 2017, 05:42AM »

Bill, some of the material that theologians and biblical scholars rely on is indeed by historians.  Some are believers and some are not.  Are you suggesting to us that because an ancient historian might happen to be a believer, his work is suspect?
Of course not.  It depends on how he takes the position he takes.  If he starts off with, "Okay, let see if this text can prove itself with a little help from history"  then that is looking at it critically and taking an unbiased approach.  If he starts out (as with that Egyptologist you suggested to me) with "Okay this text is inerrant, now let's see if we can find something in history to support it."  Then yes, his work is biased.

Correct me if I'm wrong though, but none of the main characters in scripture have any contemporary historical references, do they?  Not even the most recent of them, Paul.  So, really, where does history fit in?  As background information?

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