What makes a writing "Fiction" versus "History"?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
neilgodfrey
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Re: What makes a writing "Fiction" versus "History"?

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:31 pm

outhouse wrote: A fictional story would not place their hero in front of half a million people at Passover dying an embarrassing death within a few years of the story breaking where it could be refuted.
Lifted straight from the apologists' list of tiresome and false arguments.

The Passover time of death was entirely symbolic. There is no evidence to indicate otherwise.

The death was not embarrassing at all: it was a noble death, the hero epitomizing the best in classical and Jewish values, in the tradition of Prometheus, Achilles, Socrates, Horatius, the prophets, the Maccabees. The death was vindicated by the resurrection -- to focus on the "embarrassment of the death" is to suggest they were preaching death while forgetting the other half the story. Nonsense. If Paul said the death was a scandal, ancients also said Socrates' death was a travesty that should never have happened, but the point was that Socrates, as Jesus later, demonstrated ideal godly or philosophical attitudes to death and were vindicated. It's a GREAT and very common heroic and inspiring story -- not a stupid one at all. The story never fails to win converts, even today.

The theoretical possibility of refuting a story never stopped a fiction spreading. People believe what they want to believe and shout down the gainsayers. We see this repeatedly throughout history.

neilgodfrey
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Re: What makes a writing "Fiction" versus "History"?

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:41 pm

outhouse wrote: John the Baptist probably existed, . . .
Actually I find these sorts of statements somewhat bizarre when advanced as some sort of "historical explanation" or "historical reconstruction". All this talk of "we only deal in probabilities" when writing history that comes from the side of biblical scholarship is surely problematic at several levels.

Firstly, when challenged on the foundational assumptions of what they say is "probable" it is not unknown for them to suddenly become very dogmatic. Probability be blowed, it seems, when it comes to defending pet beliefs.

Secondly, the statement is theoretically true of all forms of knowledge, but in practical terms we don't say Japan "probably" bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, or May is "probably" the PM of UK, or aboriginals were "probably" in Australia before whites arrived, of the pyramids were "probably" built by the ancient Egyptians....

In my experience of reading historical works, historians sift through the evidence to answer questions and create narratives. They don't work with events like "Washington was probably the first president, so we'll go along with that for the sake of argument..."

I get the impression we are reading more smokescreen from a certain branch of inquiry that is designed to justify and paper over the absence of any secure foundations in what they are doing.

outhouse
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Re: What makes a writing "Fiction" versus "History"?

Post by outhouse » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:45 pm

neilgodfrey wrote: The death was vindicated by the resurrection
.
I would argue resurrection held little authority or value early on. The concept evolved not as if an author wrote it in from the beginning.

It builds historicity, not takes from it.

Now I do believe some groups thought it real from the beginning, but the fact mark barely mentions it in is whole original piece shows how little importance it had. A few decades later it had to be redacted to match the evolving mythology found in matthew and luke
Lifted straight from the apologists' list of tiresome and false arguments.
You know I love ya so easy on the rhetoric and insults, I never equate you with creationist.

hakeem
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Re: What makes a writing "Fiction" versus "History"?

Post by hakeem » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:46 pm

outhouse wrote:
What does explain the evidence 100% in full, is a martyred Galilean who took over Johns movement who made at least one trip to the temple during Passover and was crucified....
It is the opposite. The stories of Jesus are non-historical. The Gospels and Christian writings are evidence of the non-historicity of the character called Jesus.

Since at least the 4th century it was known that the stories of Jesus were fiction.


Julian's "Against the Galileans"
It is, I think, expedient to set forth to all mankind the reasons by which I was convinced that the fabrication of the Galilaeans is a fiction of men composed by wickedness. Though it has in it nothing divine, by making full use of that part of the soul which loves fable and is childish and foolish, it has induced men to believe that the monstrous tale is truth.
Virtually everything written about Jesus was nothing different to the fables of the Greeks.


Justin's "First Apology".
And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter...
Eusebius' Against Hierocles.
And this point is also worth noticing, that whereas the tales of Jesus have been vamped up by Peter and Paul and a few others of the kind,--men who were liars and devoid of education and wizards, --the history of Apollonius was written by Maximus of Aegae, and by Damis the philosopher who lived constantly with him. and by Philostratus of Athens, men of the highest education...
The stories of Jesus were invented [not history]--written by liars.
Last edited by hakeem on Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

outhouse
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Re: What makes a writing "Fiction" versus "History"?

Post by outhouse » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:48 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:Probability be blowed, it seems, when it comes to defending pet beliefs.

.

Sorry it is what it is, you don't have to like it, but this time period and place, certainties are only crucifixion and baptism. Anything else is pet theory's and different levels of plausibility.

John the Baptist has historicity as existing, and there is no reason or evidence to think he is fictitious

outhouse
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Re: What makes a writing "Fiction" versus "History"?

Post by outhouse » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:51 pm

neilgodfrey wrote:They don't work with events like "Washington was probably the first president, so we'll go along with that for the sake of argument..."

.

It takes much more education and skill to deal with theology to pull historicity, when its your only evidence outside social and cultural anthropology.

That time period is more evidence based, and its not mythical in nature.

There is a reason why 100 scholars have a 100 different opinions about who jesus actually was, but that does not negate a Galilean teacher

outhouse
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Re: What makes a writing "Fiction" versus "History"?

Post by outhouse » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:59 pm

hakeem wrote:The stories of Jesus are non-historical.
make no mistake Christianity is a factual historical religion, based on a specific time period. The temple stood and under its command Caiaphas and Pilate responsible to keep money flowing. Fact not up for debate.

They are pseudo historical theological accounts written in rhetorical prose to sell monotheistic "Judaism light" theology to residents of the Diaspora.


We cannot always determine which came first: a historical event or a literary creation, but we are not blind either.

EXAMPLE noahs flood is fiction and myth, yet it possibly has a historical core with the flooding of the Euphrates and a few thousand years of time for the story to evolve

outhouse
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Re: What makes a writing "Fiction" versus "History"?

Post by outhouse » Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:02 pm

hakeem wrote:The stories of Jesus were invented [not history]--written by liars.

.
You are factually wrong.

The NT for the most part was written by people that believed many of these events were real, and you are not accepting the "form" they wrote in.

They were not liars nor writing fiction.

neilgodfrey
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Re: What makes a writing "Fiction" versus "History"?

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:13 pm

outhouse wrote: The NT for the most part was written by people that believed many of these events were real, and you are not accepting the "form" they wrote in.

They were not liars nor writing fiction.
And the fact that we don't know whom a single one of the evangelist authors was makes no difference to the argument!

(Brace yourselves ... a post detailing just how much "we really do know" about those evangelists is on its way from the outhouse....)

Paul the Uncertain
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Re: What makes a writing "Fiction" versus "History"?

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:37 pm

Neil
... how it apparently pulls the rug from under mine.
That's not my objective. This is a hard problem, and I'm interested in it. That's all.
There is no "pure projection" in the clear literary devices Iamblichus uses, surely. They are as clear as the words on the page. "They say..." is a clear expression of a certain position between a narrator, the content of his message and his audience.
"They say..." could scarcely be less clear, and unclarity is projection's playground.

I was as clear as I could be that there are many possible reasons why authors might deny making up their stories. Other authors wouldn't bother to deny that; not necessarily because those authors did make up their stories.
I was trying to say that the author is making it evident to readers that the subject matter is derived from sources "out there".

I got that. I don't accept that you would know, of all the seriously possible interpretations of that behavior, that the right one is "making it evident to readers that the subject matter is derived from sources 'out there.'"

Do the readers think that Iamblichus and Pythagoras were contemporaries? That Iamblichus is the first person ever to write about Pythagoras or his followers? Assuming no to both, then what uncertainty is Iamblichus resolving by saying there are sources for what he writes? Of course there are earlier versions - even if he's repackaging outright fiction.
Pliny of course does exactly the same in the letter you mention. So do Josephus and Tacitus.
We aren't in dispute that they all used devices.

Both Josephus and Tacitus can manage a lot of narrative spacing between reminders to the audience that they aren't just making things up (and arguably, they also find other ways of reminding everybody of their "presence").

Pliny being "exactly the same" as Iamblichus isn't what's in evidence. Pliny says he heard about two stories, the third is within his lived experience. There is no way he can be credited with "doing research" based on what he said.

Conversely, it is possible that Pliny is simply framing a "build of three" to make a climax of his own lived experience story. "One of these is not like the others" is a fine narrative device, useful for both history and fiction, but it's unavailable to Iamblichus.

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