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

Post by neilgodfrey » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:44 pm

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:31 pm
Neil
So-called postulated "embarrassment" alone can never establish historicity -- which is the claim of many biblical scholars.
There is little or no "establish" in anything discussed here. There is to accept a contingent proposition, or else to decline to accept it.
That's not how historical research works. World War 2 was not a contingent proposition.

Juries want a bit more than contingent propositions before convicting an accused of murder.

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

Post by Bernard Muller » Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:25 pm

to Neil,
Now that's not relying upon plausibility, Bernard. That is called "shifting the goal posts".
I was not moving the goal posts. I say if a reconstruction meets a large number of criteria, and is plausible (also coherent), there is a good chance it is correct. I have to add that reconstruction also has to explain the start of Christian beliefs (more so when ignited by a very minimal Jesus).
May I remind you wrote earlier:
There is one thing that leaves me slightly perturbed when I read your page, however. What concerns me is that you have done so much work, and you have spent a lot of effort to find ways to make all the different pieces of the jigsaw pieces of data fit, testing which pieces are genuine and which are fake, etc, to arrive at a model that makes the best sense of all the data, etc....
But then you worry. Me too. I am still afraid my reconstruction might not be right. And I certainly do not want to deceive my readers. I was shown to be wrong before on minor points and made the correction right after, even if my credibility would be questioned. However I do not care about that, I just want to make my work better. I am not the one to defend my initial point with force, when I see my objector is right.
But then, I call it A reconstruction and not THE reconstruction as you already noticed.
I wrote in my introduction page:
the resulting reconstruction fits too well together (and explains so many things) that it cannot be easily dismissed ...
I did not say it cannot be dismissed. My confidence in my reconstruction might be high but not absolute.
You know it needs to be "documented" -- by which I presume you mean it has independent attestation. That is what you mean, right?
Documented by critical analysis mostly on Paul's epistles, Q, 'Hebrews' & 'James', etc, but more so gMark, with also Josephus' works. No, I did not mean independent attestation. The evidence is too limited to allow for that most of the time. We have to work with what is available.
Didn't the inscriptions announce the crime? So the crime is pretender, or false claimant to kingship, etc. The "king of the Jews" placard is just delicious Gospel of Mark irony consistent with the irony throughout his composition.
Correct on your first question. Yes that what the Romans would think after Jesus was thought to be the future king of the Jews by a group of Jews and then made the disturbance in the temple, acting like a ruler trying to impose his rules.
I don't see any irony here, as well than in other parts of the gospel. Is it part of your literary finding on gMark? that looks very interpretative, more so when the alleged irony is far from obvious. And why would "Mark" would spread irony in his gospel? I do not see any reason.

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

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

Post by neilgodfrey » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:50 am

Bernard Muller wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:25 pm
(more so when ignited by a very minimal Jesus).
God, Bernard. Do get over your obsession with historicism vs mythicism. Anyone would think that for you the bottom line is selecting any method that gives you the result you want and need in that stupid debate.

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

Post by neilgodfrey » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:11 am

Bernard Muller wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:25 pm
Now that's not relying upon plausibility, Bernard. That is called "shifting the goal posts".
I was not moving the goal posts. I say if a reconstruction meets a large number of criteria, and is plausible (also coherent), there is a good chance it is correct.
Woops, nope, Bernard. Memories are failing. This little sub-discussion arose when you wrote in your earlier post:
"How to determine there are true facts in gMark: because the author is embarrassed (yes I said it) and provided antidotes and damage control for them
You were clearly saying, and the examples you gave supported your claim, that the criterion of embarrassment (alone) was sufficient grounds for asserting certain details are actually historical.
Bernard Muller wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:25 pm
I have to add that reconstruction also has to explain the start of Christian beliefs
Before we can do any reconstruction we first need to establish what are clear and unambiguous facts. Without those we cannot begin to think of any reconstruction. That always means we need independent corroboration of some kind. Biblical studies is the only exception that I know of.
Bernard Muller wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:25 pm
(more so when ignited by a very minimal Jesus)
I don't think you recognize your Freudian slip by dropping this line in there, Bernard. Anyone would suspect that you have made up your mind before the research begins that you must have a central role for the historical Jesus in any reconstruction. That's not kosher. That's not how historical inquiry that is genuinely scholarly is supposed to work.

Forget your historical and mythical Jesuses. I am not the least interested in challenging or debunking anyone's religious beliefs or trying to tear down historical Jesus icons. I am quite happy for anyone to assume there is a little historical Jesus at the start of Christianity. All I am interested in is what the data itself allows us to say about the emergence of Christianity. Hell, most scholarly studies of the gospels I know of (at least the ones not clouded by apologetics) acknowledge the Jesus of the Gospels is a mythical reconstruction. That doesn't mean there was no historical Jesus, too. Why are you so jumpy about anyone doing research on emergence of Christianity unless they make their first chapters all about what the historical Jesus said and did?
Bernard Muller wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:25 pm
You know it needs to be "documented" -- by which I presume you mean it has independent attestation. That is what you mean, right?
Documented by critical analysis mostly on Paul's epistles, Q, 'Hebrews' & 'James', etc, but more so gMark, with also Josephus' works. No, I did not mean independent attestation. The evidence is too limited to allow for that most of the time. We have to work with what is available.
Then you reject the fundamental methods of historians in other fields and stick with the idiosyncratic and tendentious methods of biblical studies historians (most of them).

Critical analysis doesn't "document" anything. You said you don't want to deceive your readers, then you would be well not to talk about "documented" evidence when you really mean the opinions of biblical studies critics that fly in the face of normative historical methods.

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

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:38 am

Bernard Muller wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 8:25 pm
... that what the Romans would think after Jesus was thought to be the future king of the Jews by a group of Jews and then made the disturbance in the temple, acting like a ruler trying to impose his rules.

I don't see any irony here ...
I see plenty of irony: "acting like a ruler trying to impose his rules" is over-reach.

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

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:55 am

Neil
That's not how historical research works.

You didn't ask for a historical researcher. You specified only that the domain be distinct from NT scholarship. I complied, with acknowledgment of your help in identifying the domain as an honorable "field of inquiry."
World War 2 was not a contingent proposition.
WW II is a contingency about which educated opinion holders typically estimate that it is not seriously possible that it didn't happen. That reflects the state of the evidence about the contingency which is available to us at this time.

Closer to the thread topic, there is less evidence available about the existence of a historical Jesus than about WW II. They are both contingencies, but the amount and quality of evidence bearing on them differs. Unsurprisingly, there is a wider range of educated opinion about whether Jesus existed than about whether WW II happened.
Juries want a bit more than contingent propositions before convicting an accused of murder.
The questions of whether a crime was committed and if so, by whom, are themselves contingencies. Your hypothetical juries are out of luck, then.

If I may say, you seem fixated on what fact-finders want, when the issues before us are what's actually available at the time of inference, and what the fact-finder should do or really does about that.

As to real-life murder juries, I mentioned earlier that the "statement against interest" (parallel to "criterion of embarrassment") exception to the hearsay rule fosters the "jailhouse snitch" phenomenon in American criminal trials. Evidently, some juries have found it acceptable to convict defendants accused of murder in large part on the basis of such testimony. (Otherwise, the prosecutor is strategically unlikely to present it - it is costly "evidence" to acquire and usually leads to a tendentious inquiry at trial into the snitch's character and motives, which can only distract from stronger evidence, if there were any.)

Doubtless, some of those jurors wanted more - isn't "more" nearly always what human beings want? The grown-up ones make the best of what they actually have, as opposed to self-indulgent "fantasy make believe" about what they want to have instead.

In closing, acquittal is also a disposition, and in American criminal law, it forecloses ever revisiting the issue of criminal guilt for the same defendant and the same alleged offense. While I have emphasized typical civil practice, criminal law, too, offers its own examples of durable disposition of uncertain contingencies based on an "anytime" assessment of the actually available evidence.

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

Post by neilgodfrey » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:11 am

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:55 am
Neil
That's not how historical research works.

You didn't ask for a historical researcher. .....
I have been talking about valid historical research methods from the start. I am saying that biblical studies historians by and large do not follow the normative methods. Their methods are in fact tendentious, question begging.
Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:55 am
World War 2 was not a contingent proposition.
WW II is a contingency about which educated opinion holders typically estimate that it is not seriously possible that it didn't happen. That reflects the state of the evidence about the contingency which is available to us at this time.

Closer to the thread topic, there is less evidence available about the existence of a historical Jesus ......
We have been talking past each other and continue to do so.

I have tried to point out repeatedly that evidence is evidence, proof of an event is proof of an event, whether we are talking about modern or ancient history or detective investigations.

There is no sliding scale from clear cut black and white proof down to more or less something close for an ancient figure. If we have evidence for the existence of X we have evidence for their existence. If we don't, we don't. If we are still unsure, we remain unsure.

I do not need "educated opinion holders" to tell me on their authority alone that there was a WW2. I can see the evidence for myself. Scholars who know Julius Caesar was a leading figure in Rome do not need to persuade me because of their authority; they can show me the evidence so I can see for myself. Ditto for Socrates, and Tyro, a slave, and for Publius the Stammerer, an obscure rhetorician.

We don't just wade around in dark areas of uncertainty about the existence of someone or some event and do our best to reconstruct some historical scenario based on such quicksand. That's silly. We ask questions that the evidence allows us to answer. There will be unknowns -- more questions arising out of any reconstruction -- but the foundation itself in any historical studies is (with I suspect very few, if any, serious exceptions) stable -- verifiable.

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

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:43 am

Neil
I have been talking about valid historical research methods from the start.
A laudable talk it has been. Nevertheless, my post answered a specific question which you had posed, and your question constrained potential response only in not being NT scholarship. Coincidentally, you had earlier discussed the very same domain here, approvingly, despite your overall emphasis on historical silos and their importance to your epistemology.
I am saying that biblical studies historians by and large do not follow the normative methods.
Could be. But you've shown no interest in the question I raised about whether optimal collective performance coincides with individuals performing optimally. It's not obvious that it does, there are famous counterexamples (Stein's Theorem, for instance). But so far, you have been content to complain that some professionals don't share your aspirations for their individual performance.

OK, message received and understood.
I have tried to point out repeatedly that evidence is evidence, proof of an event is proof of an event, whether we are talking about modern or ancient history or detective investigations.
I realize that as a suspected postmodernist extremist, I may appear to need instruction that tautologies are true. As it happens, I passed that course.
There is no sliding scale from clear cut black and white proof down to more or less something close ...
That'd be news to Laplace, Neil.
... for an ancient figure.
There's a "sliding scale" for all uncertain contingencies, always and anytime. If you don't want to use it for some questions, then that's your choice. It doesn't cease to exist because of how you choose, however.
I do not need "educated opinion holders" to tell me on their authority alone that there was a WW2.
I thought you were an educated opinion holder. Fortunately, I didn't say that anybody needed anybody else's advice; I said what an identifiable group of opinion holders typically believe about WW II. Other groups do, too.

I also mentioned that this virtual unanimity had something to do with the evidence; I don't recall discussing the role of expert opinion, but yes, that is evidence (important evidence sometimes for judges and jurors, although probably not much needed by anybody for whether WW II happened).

Anyway, I am always happy to read what "we" do, don't do, need to do, cannot do, ... If only I knew who this "we" are, and who died to leave you as our spokesperson.

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

Post by neilgodfrey » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:41 am

Paul the Uncertain wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:43 am
But you've shown no interest in the question I raised about whether optimal collective performance coincides with individuals performing optimally.
Correct. I am not the least interested in discussing the point you set out above.

Probably I really am not the least interested in addressing questions you say you raise, because I evidently do not understand what you are saying half the time, and when I think a statement and question of yours are clear you invariably reply to tell me I had no idea what you were talking about. I do not know why you bother to try to engage with me. I get impatient with word games and supercilious tones.

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

Post by Paul the Uncertain » Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:59 am

Neil
I do not know why you bother to try to engage with me.
You asked a question on an open forum. As luck would have it, I knew one answer to what you asked.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3346&start=340#p74128

I then asked you a compound question of my own, of which you need only have answered one part. Seemed fair that if I answer a question, I'd get to ask one.

The rest has been back-and-forth as you tried to wiggle out of the question I answered, which I now realize you probably thought was rhetorical but which turned out otherwise. Too bad.

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