Evolution and the Gospels

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:51 am

I think sometimes my posting here suffers from the experimental purpose I see this forum having. My last post was saying that Celsus can be read as providing a witnesses the motivation for the reformation of the gospel (sing) to a fourfold form. Philosophers (such as Celsus himself) were actively 'refuting' the core principles of Christianity and the gospel narrative. As such someone 'counterfeited' the gospel into a fourfold form in order to change Christianity to avoid continuing the criticism. Either way, the gospel was falsified for a specific purpose. It wasn't 'accidental' according to Celsus. And remember Celsus makes a good point. One would expect there to be one gospel just as there is only one MS of Plato's Republic for instance.

David W. Jorgensen provides us with a very close parallel to Celsus's use of μεταπλάσσω to describe the process of the creation of gospels rather than 'Gospel.' Given that Celsus seems to know things written by Irenaeus about the heresies, one wonders if there is a relationship here between the two testimonies as we see elsewhere with other passages in Celsus:
Such is their hypothesis [ὑπόθεσις] which neither the prophets preached, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles handed down [παρέδωκαν]. They boast ratherloudly of knowing more aboutit than others do, citing it from nonscriptural [works; ἐξ ἀγράφων]; and as people would say, they attempt to braid ropes of sand. They attempt to fit to their opinions, in a plausible manner, either the parabolai” of the Lord, or the sayings of the prophets, or the words of the apostles, in order that their in order that their creation may not seem to be without support. Yet, they exceed” the arrangement and sequence of the Scriptures, and, as much as they can, dismember the body of truth.” By transferring, transforming, and making” one thing out of another, they deceive many through their illcomposed sophistry of adapting the sayings of the Lord.

In other words, through their senseless juxtaposition of scriptural passages,cherry-picking Christian scriptures for appropriate material as needed, they buttress their own cosmological theories, which were not actually derived from Scripture but, rather, were preconceived notions. Their hypothesis is not a true one, While a hypothesis of a text was imagined to be present in the text itself and thus undergird its correct interpretation, a plasma was a fictitious theme assigned for advanced students of rhetoric to argue as a classroom declamation exercise.108 In addition, the verbs Irenaeus uses to describe the Valentinian technique – two verbs of adaptation or fitting (προσαρμόζειν and ἐφαρμόζειν) bracketing two verbs of transformation (μεταφέρω and μεταπλάσσω) – collectively mount a forceful charge of retrofitting Scripture to a pre-existing theory. His primary charge, then, is twofold: (1) by seeming to make Scripture conform to the meaning they apply to it externally, they are guilty of eisegesis, and (2) this eisegesis is the natural outcome of their disregard for the underlying unity of the Scriptures. Thus their incorrect “method” leads to an incorrect result.
Irenaeus says that the Valentinians 'reform' the gospels by making 'braids' of an instable or illusionary substance - their own doctrines. Celsus says that the gospel was 'reformed' by the Christians to 'deny' philosophical refutations of the gospel. Very close though.

It is worth noting that άμμος = sand was thought to be the root of Ammon:
When Bacchus, or according to others, Heracles, went to India and led his army through the deserts of Libya, he was at last quite exhausted with thirst, and invoked his father, Jupiter. Hereupon a ram appeared, which led Heracles to a place where it opened a spring in the sand by scraping with its foot. For this reason, says Servius, Jupiter Ammon, whose name is derived from ἄμμος (sand), is represented with the horns of a ram. (Comp. Hyg. Fab. 133, Poet. Astr. 1.20 ; Lucan, Pharsal. 9.511.)
άμμος would also have been thought to be at the root of the Ammonius the author of the 'fourfold gospel.' Is there a relationship here between Ammonius's fourfold gospel and the 'braids of sand' remark by Irenaeus?
Last edited by Secret Alias on Thu Jan 30, 2020 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:39 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 6:51 am
One would expect there to be one gospel just as there is only one MS of Plato's Republic for instance.
Comparing Plato to Christianity is a mistake; the true comparison, if there is any, is between Christianity and Greek philosophy. Plato would be only one of the "evangelists," so to speak; Aristotle would be another. Plato is a singular author; the Christian religion is an entire tradition with multiple streams. The Jewish religion did not have just one history (it had at least two: Samuel & Kings and also Chronicles); the Pentateuch itself bears evidence of multiple sources and streams pouring into its final composition. There are many, many prophets and poets and wisdom teachers, as well.

Some religions start with a bang at the hand of a single individual (Mormonism, for example, and Islam to some extent). Others start from multiple streams. One cannot "expect" either case to be the one at hand until one has examined the evidence.
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Kunigunde Kreuzerin
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:44 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 5:58 pm
I am not understanding KKs point.
What’s the problem? I think that Ulan explained it well.
Ulan wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:18 am
Meh, let's not get into this kind of thinking. I'm also German, and even worse, I'm a scientist (natural sciences). Which means that dismissing anything I don't have any hard evidence for comes very natural to me. We are dealing with the question of what to do with the evidence in a situation where we don't have any chance to find the solution. Kunigunde is happy with the little findings in the extant texts, little findings that lead to little conclusions, but findings that don't veer too much from what is considered the consensus view.

Secret Alias wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 5:58 pm
Is it her position that Irenaeus was a faithful transmitter of manuscripts? That he had no agenda? I find this baffling. I can't think of a more inflexible, worse possible candidate to put one's trust to faithfully preserve manuscripts than Irenaeus.

Is it KKs point that:

1) Irenaeus had no biases or was no more biased than a modern scholar
2) Irenaeus's biases whatever they were had no influence on his transmission of texts
or that
3) Irenaeus biases whatever they were had no influence on our received of the four gospels which he first mentions as a set (the same 'set' mentioned by Irenaeus 'coincidentally')?
:D No, no! My pov has nothing to do with him. Irenaeus is inside your heads, gentlemen, not in mine. In our discussion Ulan had confidence in Irenaeus, not me.
Ulan wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:57 am
We have four gospels, because ... Irenaeus. .. As Irenaeus said ... Edit: Irenaeus actually also mentions ...

I share Hurtado's view, according to which the manuscript tradition proves that the NT is generally well preserved. There may for every verse a little variant reading, here and there a little interpolation and two great ones. But the oldest papyrus shreds share the text of the great ancient codices and the later mss differ only in details.

As Ben knows, I disagree with him that GMark shows signs of editing. I agree that the text has some problems which need to be explained. But that doesn't mean that things we (or only he) can't explain are signs of editing. We are not the last word in wisdom and in understanding Mark. As an example, many scholars of the 19th and 20th century argued that the „Let the reader understand“ in Mark 13:14 !!! MUST BE !!! an interpolation from a comment of a scribe or was already found by Mark in his sources, but nearly no modern Marcan scholar has a problem with the view that Mark himself wrote it.

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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jan 30, 2020 8:09 am

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:44 am
As Ben knows, I disagree with him that GMark shows signs of editing. I agree that the text has some problems which need to be explained. But that doesn't mean that things we (or only he) can't explain are signs of editing.
I obviously disagree with your position that Mark is basically a seamless cloth, written complete (up to 16.8, at any rate) by a single mind, but the position itself is a respectable one, and is certainly possible. What I call a logical error is the stance that this position ought to be the default. Many on this forum treat it as such, either not realizing that they are doing it or not recognizing that it is a logical error to do so.

A while back Ulan had a conversation with someone who somehow failed to clock that (A) Mark being the earliest extant gospel and (B) Mark being the earliest overall gospel are the same kind of claim; Ulan's interlocutor for some reason thought that one of these could be proven or disproven with hard evidence while the other could be evaluated only with soft evidence. In other words, the interlocutor held a position which may or may not be true, which is fine, but failed to understand that it cannot logically serve as the default position.
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Jan 30, 2020 8:42 am

Kk

So the fourfold gospel's preservation has nothing to do with Irenaeus? Just trying to understand what you are saying. Is your point that Irenaeus was not involved in the preservation of the four or that you are confident that in spite of his involvement he had no involvement in changing what was preserved in those four gospels that have come down to us.

I drew attention to the fact that AH 3.4 accuses the Valentinians of "remodeling" (the same word as Celsus) the gospel according to their dictates. The same idea appears in Against Heresies regarding (alleged) Marcionite changes to Luke. Celsus accuses Christian's of a similar "remodeling." So your point is that everyone was remodeling the gospel except for Irenaeus or everyone was lying about everyone else remodeling the gospel (or no one was remodeling the gospel). Seems like a very arbitrary position to take.
Last edited by Secret Alias on Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:04 am

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 7:44 am
As Ben knows, I disagree with him that GMark shows signs of editing. I agree that the text has some problems which need to be explained.
I want to highlight this statement in view of a thought experiment I have offered before. Kunigunde, if Mark had been lost to history, and we had only Matthew and Luke to testify to its existence, would your approach or methodology be able to tell you that we were missing something? Or would you assume that Matthew wrote the first gospel ever and that Luke copied him (or vice versa)? Would the signs of editing that we find in Matthew (or in Luke) stand out to you as indicating a prior text, or would you glide over them, either leaving them unexplained or not reckoning them to be dire enough even to require an explanation?
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Thu Jan 30, 2020 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Charles Wilson
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Charles Wilson » Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:21 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:04 am
...if Mark had been lost to history, and we had only Matthew and Luke to testify to its existence, would your approach or methodology be able to tell you that we were missing something?
Mark 4: 37 - 38 (RSV):

[37] And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.
[38] But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care if we perish?"

Matthew 8: 24 -25 (RSV):

[24] And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.
[25] And they went and woke him, saying, "Save, Lord; we are perishing."

"Teacher, do you not care if we perish?"

Someone give me a PLAUSIBLE way to get to astonishing statement in Mark from the rather bland statement in Matthew.

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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Charles Wilson » Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:21 am

Duplicate - Somehow...

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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:27 am

Charles Wilson wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:21 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:04 am
...if Mark had been lost to history, and we had only Matthew and Luke to testify to its existence, would your approach or methodology be able to tell you that we were missing something?
Mark 4: 37 - 38 (RSV):

[37] And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.
[38] But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care if we perish?"

Matthew 8: 24 -25 (RSV):

[24] And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.
[25] And they went and woke him, saying, "Save, Lord; we are perishing."

"Teacher, do you not care if we perish?"

Someone give me a PLAUSIBLE way to get to astonishing statement in Mark from the rather bland statement in Matthew.
The thought experiment requires Mark to have been lost to history; therefore, under its terms, we would not know that Mark had a more "astonishing" statement than Matthew in this case. (And Luke's version in 8.24 is just as "bland" as Matthew's. So no help there.)
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:28 am

Charles Wilson wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 9:21 am
Duplicate - Somehow...
It was so good the forum decided to post it twice.
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