The best case for Jesus's historicity: Mark Craig

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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MrMacSon
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Re: The best case for Jesus's historicity: Mark Craig

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:39 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:51 am

Let's look at gMark.

In my view, gMark contains 'true facts' and lot of embellishments & fiction, entwined together, sometimes within a verse or a sentence.

Why 'the1 true facts': because [supposedly] heard from trusted eyewitness(es) and put in the gospel to give it an air of authenticity.

How to determine there are 'true facts' in gMark: because the author is embarrassed2 (yes I said it), and provided antidotes3 and damage control for them
These would be better biographical accounts if a man Jesus was so important, or one would expect there would be better other accounts, biographical or otherwise, written in the 1st century, if the man Jesus was so important.

All we have, otherwise, is speculation by the likes of Irenaeus 150 yrs later.

1 you make true facts a definitive article

2 embarrassment is not a criteria that provides veracity or validity

3 anecdotes by an 'embarrassed' author does not guarantee veracity
Last edited by MrMacSon on Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

neilgodfrey
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Re: The best case for Jesus's historicity: Mark Craig

Post by neilgodfrey » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:22 pm

Bernard Muller wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:52 pm

If "Mark" invented the wording of the sign on the cross, he would have "the Christ" instead.
Are you saying that plausibility of a narrative is a reason we should believe it to be true?

Are you saying that we can tell fiction from history by reading implausible details in fiction and plausible ones in history?

If so, I have to wonder if you have read very much fiction, including ancient fiction, at all. Pick up Rosenmeyer's Ancient Epistolary Fictions, or better still, read ancient critics discussions of rhetoric, including literary criticisms. Verisimilitude, plausibility, were what fiction writers very often strove to achieve, and very often did so most successfully. And even ancient biographies and histories included some very plausible details we learn from other sources were in fact fiction.

What if Mark wanted to use "king of the Jews" because it fit in with a lot of other possible agendas of his -- including the culmination of the triumphal procession to the cross, and the dramatic effect it accomplished.

There are dozens of reasons we can imagine why our unknown author chose to use "king of the jews" -- and the idea that he did for no conceivable reason other than it really happened is just astonishing, sorry. If you want plausible historicity, then you imagine a scene where no-one sympathetic to Jesus even saw such a sign on the cross before it was taken down that same afternoon.

You also imagine a scene where, if such a sign were made at all in the first place, said "Charlatan/Pretended/Claimed to be King of the Jews" -- you would not plausibly have had a historical sign that just so neatly happened by luck to serve Mark's ironic agenda.




Bernard Muller wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:52 pm

Because "Mark" made excuse on some facts & sayings which was not serving his theological/christological agenda. If these facts and sayings were not believed true, then there could not be invented because that would create confusion and doubt.

For example: why would Peter keep secret the title, Christ, he gave to Jesus? "Mark" provided the excuse that Jesus asked the disciples should tell no man of him (Mk 8:29-30). That's confirmed by other clues in the NT, including Paul's epistles, showing that Peter & James never became Christians.
Of course, that would be embarrassing if Peter and other disciples were never heard to say Jesus was the Christ.
It sounds like you are implying that an author is incapable of creating confusion and doubt for some of his readers. But surely whether confusion and doubt is created among readers depends entirely on the preconceptions of the first readers. How do you know who those first readers were and what their preconceptions were?

Have you heard of a book by a certain WIlliam Wrede titled "The Messianic Secret"? That, and not a few other scholarly works since then, explain Mark's theological agenda by referencing the evidence of Peter's "secret confession".

On what grounds do you determine the gospel's theological agenda by denying that parts of the gospel serve his theological agenda? That sounds like you are choosing to select just bits of the gospel that support what you think "should" be the gospel's agenda. That's a circular argument.

You are arguing by means of rhetorical questions again. Rhetorical questions are merely another form of question begging. They are not scholarly evidence-based arguments.

Why can't the whole story simply be a holy-fiction about Peter? Why do you think it has to be historical?

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Re: The best case for Jesus's historicity: Mark Craig

Post by Bernard Muller » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:57 pm

to Neil,
You evidently cannot see the circularity and question-begging nature of your response. You are beginning with the assumption that they are historical narratives (entwined with theological embellishments) by an author with very specific interests and then making arguments based upon those two assumptions. You fail to see the logical fallacy in your responses above.
I had lot of assumptions when I started my study, and I saw them falling by the wayside. Regardless one has to take the plunge. Staying on the fence and avoiding to put feet in the mud is not a solution, if someone want to solve a mystery.
For me, it went as three steps forward and two backward in many cases, sometimes ten forward and eight backward. That's what happens sometimes in solving crimes.
And that also what happens in the engineering field which I know first hand: it is not a smooth forward progression, far from that, in the projects I was involved.
And that's what I explained here (from http://historical-jesus.info/author.html):
Stay on the right track, on solid ground; do not hesitate to turn back when a trail is disappearing; explore all options, but remember, only one can be correct (& not necessarily the first one which pops out from the top of your head!).
...
Accept what you discover, rather than decide first what to find & reject.
...
Reject ill-substantiated assumptions, even if they are widely "swallowed" (beware of "studies" which accept them, either unannounced ("transparent") or with a short introduction!).
...
Go back over all the preceding points because later findings are bound to have implications on previous understandings (and vice versa. I never said it was an "auto-pilot" one-way process. Beware of simplistic methodologies!). Examine back everything, including the options you chose along the way (everything has to fit, but keep observing all the points!). Do it over & over, again & again ...
A more valid approach is to read the gospels without any assumptions as to historicity or other genre, and to avoid mind-reading an author of whom we have no knowledge whatsoever.
Easy said. Sounds good. Bravo! And where did you go from that? On the fence and leaning towards mythicism, because you are not served with tons of clear-cut undisputed evidence for historicity.
About the authors of gospel, yes, you can profile them by what they wrote, and see their biases and motives, and take that in account in your study.
But the provenance and nature and identity of the authors will never be known with certainty (except for me "Luke"). Better live with that.
Solvers of crimes do not have always the evidence they would like to have. Rather a few bits, there and here, (maybe also some anonymous text), with some of them disputable. But they arrive to a closure in many cases.
"Damage control" and "going against the grain" are nothing other than subfields of embarrassment. I don't exclude those at all. I cannot think of any instance where such criteria (merely expressions of embarrassment) are used to establish the historicity of events.
Well, any kind of evidence can be used, even it is not the most straight forward, more so for difficult case.

Cordially, Bernard
I believe freedom of expression should not be curtailed

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Re: The best case for Jesus's historicity: Mark Craig

Post by Bernard Muller » Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:03 pm

These would be better biographical accounts if a man Jesus was so important, or one would expect there would be better other accounts, biographical or otherwise, written in the 1st century, if the man Jesus was so important.
The man Jesus was not important during his life.

Cordially, Bernard
I believe freedom of expression should not be curtailed

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MrMacSon
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Re: The best case for Jesus's historicity: Mark Craig

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:01 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:39 pm
These would be better biographical accounts if a man Jesus was so important, or one would expect there would be better other accounts, biographical or otherwise, written in the 1st century, if the man Jesus was so important.
Bernard Muller wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:03 pm

The man Jesus was not important during his life.
Christianity is built on narratives and literature about a character. Whether that character existed (or not) does not matter to the elaborated stories about that central character (many of which are shown to have been derived from elsewhere -ie. they're modified accounts of others).

neilgodfrey
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Re: The best case for Jesus's historicity: Mark Craig

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:31 am

Bernard Muller wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:57 pm
to Neil,
You evidently cannot see the circularity and question-begging nature of your response. You are beginning with the assumption that they are historical narratives (entwined with theological embellishments) by an author with very specific interests and then making arguments based upon those two assumptions. You fail to see the logical fallacy in your responses above.
I had lot of assumptions when I started my study, and I saw them falling by the wayside. Regardless one has to take the plunge. Staying on the fence and avoiding to put feet in the mud is not a solution, if someone want to solve a mystery.
Here is where you lose me, Bernard. You appear to be conceding that all the options you know of are flawed but for the sake of getting an outcome you jump in with one of them anyway. That sounds to me something like what the bad cop does just to get a result -- regardless of the justice of the outcome.

But mostly I simply don't understand why you seem to say that "just sitting on the fence is the only alternative" to your approach as if that is a bad thing.

Firstly, sitting on the fence is definitely preferable to diving in with a method you concede is flawed and so must yield a false result.

Secondly, there really is an alternative to sitting on the fence. It is, as I have argued earlier, taking a step back and tailoring our questions to what we have determined the data is able to answer.

If an analysis of the data tells us it is not the sort of stuff that can answer certain questions, then we accept that limitation and ask of it questions that we know it is fit to answer.

That doesn't lead us to nowhere. That leads us to the best conclusions possible given the state of the evidence. What is wrong with that?

You can't just jump in with methods and questions you know are faulty simply because you can't think of an alternative and you are dead set on getting "answers" to the questions you want to know the answers to.

neilgodfrey
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Re: The best case for Jesus's historicity: Mark Craig

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:33 am

Bernard Muller wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:57 pm
Easy said. Sounds good. Bravo! And where did you go from that? On the fence and leaning towards mythicism, because you are not served with tons of clear-cut undisputed evidence for historicity.
Oh my god, Bernard. Can you get your bloody obsession with the mythicism-historicism divide off your brain for just long enough to discuss the validity of historical research methods -- regardless of what outcome you fear might result!!!

What you are doing here, Bernard, is a McGrath. If any historical method of research happens to leave historicity open to doubt and gives a mythicist interpretation a leg up, then it is by definition flawed.

That's your bottom line, is it?

Paul the Uncertain
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Re: The best case for Jesus's historicity: Mark Craig

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:30 am

Neil
What other field of inquiry uses "embarrassment" as at least one criterion to determine and what is and what is not a "fact" in anonymous and unprovenanced documents?
The field you mentioned in a recent post with approval, judges and jurors. Statements against interest are an exception to the hearsay rule (that is, in civilian "English" legal sytems, unsworn statements made outside the presence of the court are generally inadmissible as evidence about what the statement asserts, except under specified circumstances). There is also a provision for spontaneous declarations being admitted, which is very similar in practice to statements against interest.

In answering your question posed to the community, I am not endorsing the "criterion of embarasment" as it has been applied in any specific instance. Nor the hearsay rule, for that matter.
Are you saying that plausibility of a narrative is a reason we should believe it to be true?
Are you saying that plausibility is a reason to hold a narrative in equipoise? If not, are you saying that plasuibility is a reason to hold a narrative to be less likely true than not? If not to both, then what is the problem with holding a narrative to be more likely than not, according to its plausibility and in the absence of effectively countervailing evidence?

Bernard
Because "Mark" made excuse on some facts & sayings which was not serving his theological/christological agenda. If these facts and sayings were not believed true, then there could not be invented because that would create confusion and doubt.
Whose confusion and doubt about what?
For example: why would Peter keep secret the title, Christ, he gave to Jesus?
The plot portrays Jesus on a suicide mission, but being killed is insufficient to achieve the mission's objectives. Timing matters, too. Secondarily, it heightens the dramatic tension of a key scene, Peter's denial in the priest's courtyard, that Peter not be at liberty to explain his actual relationship with Jesus. It's a further grace note that that cat is already out of the bag, but Peter doesn't know it. That is an example of a craft technique, the motif of the command which continues in effect after its usefulness has expired. A necessary condition to use the technique is to issue the command.

I could go on, but good writing is its own explanation. Why should "Mark" be embarrased that he is conspicuously skillful?
If "Mark" invented the wording of the sign on the cross, he would have "the Christ" instead
Why? Claiming to be the Christ isn't even a Jewish religious offence, much less a Roman capital crime. Assuming some wish to reflect a plain reading of Paul's epistles, Mark has to get a dead Jesus hoist by somebody on something wooden. A stoning followed by a gibbeting would work, but then who gets the "Truly a son of a god" line? A Jewish character? How would the Psalm 22 thing work?

(IN)RI solves some problems, and there are constraints not of INRI's making if a relationship with Paul as a source is to be maintained. It's a good solution, and plainly has in fact enjoyed a high degree of audience acceptance. It is thus well within the scope of shrewd invention by a master craftsman.

outhouse
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Re: The best case for Jesus's historicity: Mark Craig

Post by outhouse » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:46 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:04 pm
. Only "biblical scholars" use plausibility as the criterion of historicity as far as I am aware.
It is all that can be used with such limited evidence, and it goes far past biblical scholars.

It applies to most anyone before said time period.

outhouse
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Re: The best case for Jesus's historicity: Mark Craig

Post by outhouse » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:55 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:31 am


If an analysis of the data tells us it is not the sort of stuff that can answer certain questions, then we accept that limitation and ask of it questions that we know it is fit to answer.

That doesn't lead us to nowhere. That leads us to the best conclusions possible given the state of the evidence. What is wrong with that?

Only IF YOU ignore the actual evidence.

If a Galilean teacher who took over Johns popular movement and was crucified and he was martyred in a theological way, what textual evidence would appear? and how would it evolve during said time period?

100% fits like a glove, exactly what we do have.


And a mythical character would not match so perfectly, so mythicst try and tear down John the Baptist who factually has historicity, and they tear down Paul because it they have to because these two figures alone dictate jesus Historicity.

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