If Discussing Early Christianity Were a Sport What Would the Rules Be?

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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If Discussing Early Christianity Were a Sport What Would the Rules Be?

Post by Secret Alias »

I spend almost all of my time helping my son develop into a footballer. It's my thing. I like sports because they have rules. There are things which are 'illegal' and 'legal.' In the discussion of early Christianity there are no such established by a governing body. This was one of the great contributions of Great Britain to the world. It wasn't that the British introduced teams of men kicking a ball or catching a ball but a culture of rule adherence in those sports.

If the 'sport' of figuring out the origins of the monotheistic religions had similar rules what would govern ideas or beliefs which were plainly off limits or which actions/beliefs were permissible? My first crack at such a rule book:

1. Rules governing discussions of the origins of Christianity.
(a) Christianity existed at least a generation before the destruction of Dura Europos. Dura Europos was captured by the Sasanian Empire after a siege in 256–57. Therefore Christianity existed from at least 236 - 7 CE. As such 236 - 7 will be henceforth referred to as TLPD that is 'the latest possible date' for the origins of early Christianity and Dura Europos itself as 'the latest possible place' TLPP for the origins of early Christianity.
(b) given that the 236 - 7 CE coincides with the Crisis of the Third Century https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_of ... rd_Century it is unlikely that TLPD a generation before the destruction of Dura Europos would have been very productive not Dura Europos as a remote outpost and TLPP would likely have led to a worldwide religion in the age of Aurelian immediately following the Crisis of the Third Century. The fact that Paul of Samosata was involved in Christianity when Zenobia ruled Antioch and Antioch and Dura Europos (Al-Salihiyah) are almost on opposite ends of modern Syria necessarily assumes that Christianity was already diffused throughout the province of Syria and we must assume the Roman world. It is safe to assume that Christianity existed before the dawn of the third century CE.
(c) Christianity necessarily existed in the second century CE and we can't dismiss out of hand any tradition which speaks of Christians living or acting upon Roman world in the second century.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: If Discussing Early Christianity Were a Sport What Would the Rules Be?

Post by Leucius Charinus »

Secret Alias wrote: Wed Sep 21, 2022 8:48 am I spend almost all of my time helping my son develop into a footballer. It's my thing. I like sports because they have rules. There are things which are 'illegal' and 'legal.' In the discussion of early Christianity there are no such established by a governing body.
But there were. For example the laws of heresy and blasphemy. In past centuries, not too far removed, the governing body of the church industry instituted the laws of heresy in the 4th century. These held sway until the 19th century.

THE RULE of HERESY:

The last known heretic executed by sentence of the Catholic Church was Spanish schoolmaster Cayetano Ripoll in 1826. The number of people executed as heretics under the authority of the various "ecclesiastical authorities"[note 1] is not known.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heresy#Christianity

As the central authority of the church industry waned and the enforcement of the heresy laws diminished the laws of Blasphemy were introduced on a state or national basis during the 17th/18th centuries. It could be observed that the church industry still held enormous control in the world and. although the laws of heresy could not be enforced, they sub-contracted out the laws of blasphemy to the Christian nations and states of the world.

THE RULE of BLASPHEMY

Blasphemy law is a law prohibiting blasphemy, which is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, or sacred objects, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable.[1][2][3][4] According to Pew Research Center, about a quarter of the world's countries and territories (26%) had anti-blasphemy laws or policies as of 2014.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_law



This was one of the great contributions of Great Britain to the world. It wasn't that the British introduced teams of men kicking a ball or catching a ball but a culture of rule adherence in those sports.

UK:

In 1696, a Scottish court sentenced Thomas Aikenhead to death for blasphemy.[139] The last prosecution for blasphemy in Scotland was in 1843.[140] The last person in Britain to be imprisoned for blasphemy was John William Gott on 9 December 1921. He had three previous convictions for blasphemy when he was prosecuted for publishing two pamphlets which satirized the biblical story of Jesus entering Jerusalem (Matthew 21:2–7), comparing Jesus to a circus clown. He was sentenced to nine months' hard labour.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy ... ed_Kingdom

If the 'sport' of figuring out the origins of the monotheistic religions had similar rules what would govern ideas or beliefs which were plainly off limits or which actions/beliefs were permissible?

I would argue that such "rules" already exist and are to be found in the historical method.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_method

I would also argue that past historians have written a great deal on such "rules" and that we should be aware of these precedents to the extent that we attempt to conform to them. For example:

p.7

One is almost embarrassed to have to say
that any statement a historian makes must
be supported by evidence which, according
to ordinary criteria of human judgement,
is adequate to prove the reality of the
statement itself. This has three
consequences:


1) Historians must be prepared to admit
in any given case that they are unable
to reach safe conclusions because the
evidence is insufficient; like judges,
historians must be ready to say 'not proven'.

2) The methods used to ascertain the value
of the evidence must continually be scrutinised
and perfected, because they are essential to
historical research.

3) The historians themselves must be judged
according to their ability to establish facts.

ON PAGANS, JEWS, and CHRISTIANS, Arnaldo Momigliano, 1987
Chapter 1:
Biblical Studies and Classical Studies
Simple Reflections upon Historical Method

My first crack at such a rule book:

1. Rules governing discussions of the origins of Christianity.

(a) Christianity existed at least a generation before the destruction of Dura Europos. Dura Europos was captured by the Sasanian Empire after a siege in 256–57. Therefore Christianity existed from at least 236 - 7 CE. As such 236 - 7 will be henceforth referred to as TLPD that is 'the latest possible date' for the origins of early Christianity and Dura Europos itself as 'the latest possible place' TLPP for the origins of early Christianity.
You have the obligation IMO to clearly state any assumptions that underpin the statements made. For example the above proposition regarding the terminus ad quem (latest possible date) relies on interpreting two items of evidence. (1) The existence of a Christian House-Church at Dura, and (2) the provenance of the diatesseronic Dura Parchment 24.

(1) Dura House-Church: One "Religious Room" in the house adjacent to the Secondary Gate is said to contain a "baptismal font" and a series of murals of biblical scenes (including Jesus "Healing the Paralytic" and "Jesus and Peter a-walking upon the water"). This artistic evidence must remain ambiguous because not everyone "sees Jesus in the murals". Clark Hopkins who discovered the "Religious Room" stated that the first mural depicted "a god on a cloud" and stated that the second mural depicted "a ship-wreck scene". The Preliminary report also claims to have discovered two grafitti in the "Religious Room" (or nearby) containing Christian "nomina sacra". If the existence of these "Christian nonina sacra" can be established then by their very existence, this fact may unequivocably demonstrate the "Trademark" presence of Christians in that "Religious Room" of the Dura "House-Church". The problem however is that Clark Hopkins in his preliminary report depicted the grafitti without the "Trademark" supralinears (or over-bars), and in the conclusion of his report commented that perhaps the overbars were not necessary in short inscription. A consequent argument against the identification of these "Trademark" Christian nomina sacra is outlined in the article below. But you have stated essentially that you are not going to read this article because you don't agree with it. You therefore appear to have a rule that you will not confront head-on interpretations of the evidence to which you do not subscribe.

The Runes of Christ at Dura Europos
https://www.academia.edu/38115589/The_R ... ra_Europos


(2) Dura Parchment 24: Again you have the obligation IMO to clearly state any assumptions that underpin the statements made. In the case of DP24 the assumption (held to be true by most scholarship), is that the manuscript was buried c.265 CE under a rampart constructed by the Roman garrision in a last ditch attempt to defend Dura from the Persian forces. And it was buried by the sands which covered Dura until its discovery in the 20th century "in a workman's bucket". If you are deducing a "latest possible date" then you are obliged to make this assumption explicit. It follows that you must also reject the possibility that DP24 was otherwise introduced to the site anytime later - between the 3rd century and the 20th century. If you subscribe to the Apollonian aphorism "Certainty brings insanity" (as I do) then you could deduce a probability to your proposition.

(b) given that the 236 - 7 CE coincides with the Crisis of the Third Century https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_of ... rd_Century it is unlikely that TLPD a generation before the destruction of Dura Europos would have been very productive not Dura Europos as a remote outpost and TLPP would likely have led to a worldwide religion in the age of Aurelian immediately following the Crisis of the Third Century. The fact that Paul of Samosata was involved in Christianity when Zenobia ruled Antioch and Antioch and Dura Europos (Al-Salihiyah) are almost on opposite ends of modern Syria necessarily assumes that Christianity was already diffused throughout the province of Syria and we must assume the Roman world. It is safe to assume that Christianity existed before the dawn of the third century CE.
This massive collection of propositions has an even more massive collection of underlying rafts of assumptions to be introduced into the logic. The chronological aspect of all these follow you first "rule (a)" that attempts to derive a latest possible date for the two items (above) of the Dura Europos evidence that mainstream scholarships adduces with respect to the "Christian connection". You say here that "It is safe to assume that Christianity existed before the dawn of the third century CE". How safe? This is the point. Unlike biblical source criticism the classical source criticism does not deal in absolute certainties. The rules of the game for biblical historians are not the same rules necessarily used by classical historians.

(c) Christianity necessarily existed in the second century CE

"Although a few Christian books may be as old as the 2nd century, none of them must be that old ...
The drive to have older and older Christian manuscripts, however, shows no signs of abating".

Brent Nongbri; Epilogue p.269, God's Library:
The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts – August 21, 2018

... and we can't dismiss out of hand any tradition which speaks of Christians living or acting upon Roman world in the second century.

We almost certainly cannot ignore the historical existence of pious forgery, interpolations and frauds related to Christian origins. To do so would be myopic. The question in my mind is how systemic is the fraud.

Which of the evidence items listed in this post would you argue to be genuine / authentic?
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=9833
At the moment my provisional conclusion is that they are all inauthentic.



But it must be clear once for all that Judges and Acts,
Heroditus and Tacitus are historical texts to be examined
with the purpose of recovering the truth of the past.

Hence the interesting conclusion that the notion of forgery
has a different meaning in historiography than it has in
other branches of literature or of art. A creative writer
or artist perpetuates a forgery every time he intends
to mislead his public about the date and authorship
of his own work.

But only a historian can be guilty of forging evidence
or of knowingly used forged evidence in order to
support his own historical discourse. One is never
simple-minded enough about the condemnation of
forgeries. Pious frauds are frauds, for which one
must show no piety - and no pity.


ibid

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Secret Alias
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Re: If Discussing Early Christianity Were a Sport What Would the Rules Be?

Post by Secret Alias »

Used toilet paper is less defiled than the bullshit you just wrote. No reasonable doubt Christianity existed in the second century.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: If Discussing Early Christianity Were a Sport What Would the Rules Be?

Post by neilgodfrey »

Secret Alias wrote: Wed Sep 21, 2022 8:48 am If the 'sport' of figuring out the origins of the monotheistic religions had similar rules what would govern ideas or beliefs which were plainly off limits or which actions/beliefs were permissible? My first crack at such a rule book:
You are overlooking the first place to start for rules in sport. Here are some of the basic rules of the Australian Football League:

NATIONAL CODE OF CONDUCT AND ETHICS: FOOTBALL AUSTRALIA

2.2 General Behaviour

A Constituent must not engage in any of the following conduct:

(a) offensive behaviour, including offensive, obscene, abusive, provocative, indecent or insulting gestures, language . . .

. . . .

(d) intimidating another person or creating a hostile . . . environment . . . .

. . . .

2.5 Bullying, Harassment and Victimisation


(a) A Constituent must not engage in any conduct which amounts to bullying (including cyber-bullying), harassment (including sexual harassment) or any unwelcome physical, verbal or sexual conduct which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated where that reaction is reasonable in the circumstances.

. . . .

If you don't like someone's way of looking at the sources then simply ignore them or respond with a reasoned rejoinder. But do stop dishing out the insults.
Secret Alias wrote: Wed Sep 21, 2022 8:09 pm Used toilet paper is less defiled than the bullshit you just wrote.
Try to remember what you learned in kindergarten. You had an excellent opportunity to respond to each of those specific questions of LC and innocent bystanders looking on might well have learned something. With your continual offensive responses you are only advertizing to them that you don't have a rational or evidence based answer or don't know how to present it, leaving LC the winner.
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Secret Alias
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Re: If Discussing Early Christianity Were a Sport What Would the Rules Be?

Post by Secret Alias »

Excellent opportunity. Please enlighten me as to the substance of his argument against the Diatessaron fragment at Dura? Enlighten me. Would love to see your hatred of Christianity have some practical benefits - like make a dead argument come back to life.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dura_Parchment_24
The surviving leaf of the scroll or codex described here, was found in 1933, during excavations among the ruins of Dura-Europos, known to have been destroyed by Shapur I King of Persia in 256. This means the manuscript must have been written before 256 (known as a terminus ad quem).[14]

Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Palaeography, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1981, p. 66
As much as I believe in the intensity of your hatred of Christianity I don't believe it is powerful enough to rescue the 4th century invention of Christianity conspiracy theory of Pete the mountainman.
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Secret Alias
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Re: If Discussing Early Christianity Were a Sport What Would the Rules Be?

Post by Secret Alias »

Previous rescue attempts (albeit without your intense hatred of all things Christian) https://bcharchive.org/4/thearchives/sh ... 39&page=20
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neilgodfrey
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Re: If Discussing Early Christianity Were a Sport What Would the Rules Be?

Post by neilgodfrey »

Secret Alias wrote: Wed Sep 21, 2022 9:10 pm Excellent opportunity. Please enlighten me as to the substance of his argument against the Diatessaron fragment at Dura? Enlighten me. Would love to see your hatred of Christianity have some practical benefits - like make a dead argument come back to life.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dura_Parchment_24
The surviving leaf of the scroll or codex described here, was found in 1933, during excavations among the ruins of Dura-Europos, known to have been destroyed by Shapur I King of Persia in 256. This means the manuscript must have been written before 256 (known as a terminus ad quem).[14]

Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Palaeography, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1981, p. 66
As much as I believe in the intensity of your hatred of Christianity I don't believe it is powerful enough to rescue the 4th century invention of Christianity conspiracy theory of Pete the mountainman.
Omg, SA -- where is my "hatred of Christianity"??? Why not read what I have had to say about Christianity and some of its sects and religion in general and identify for me where my hatred shows. You have no idea where I have been coming from.

Oh I get it --- your accusation of me having a hatred for Christianity is your gaslighting tactic to deflect from the point of what I have been trying to say-- which is simply asking you to be nice and reasonable. ;-)

I skimmed LC's post and he was asking lots of questions. Why not answer them?
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neilgodfrey
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Re: If Discussing Early Christianity Were a Sport What Would the Rules Be?

Post by neilgodfrey »

Secret Alias wrote: Wed Sep 21, 2022 9:10 pm Would love to see your hatred of Christianity have some practical benefits - . . .

As much as I believe in the intensity of your hatred of Christianity . . . .
SA, please read what has been on my blog for years now:
Since some people have wrongly imputed to me some sort of vitriolic anti-Christian vendetta, I have posted the reasons for my Vridar blog under Why I’m doing this, Vridar is not an anti-Christian blog (which includes a link or two to posts by fellow atheists expressing the most humane indulgence towards religious viewpoints!), and Hoo boy, I have a headache. A more recent “autobiographical” post is I left the cult and met the enemy. (I do criticize religion at times, but sometimes I also say nice things about it. But where there is damage done by certain aspects of Christianity then I sometimes think I am not being critical often enough and I should post more about that. But I know others do a good job of this anyway.)

My views on biblical studies are very much in line with those of “minimalists” such as Philip R. Davies, Niels Peter Lemche and Thomas L. Thompson. I have attempted to apply some of the relevant principles of scholars such as these to New Testament studies as well.
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Secret Alias
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Re: If Discussing Early Christianity Were a Sport What Would the Rules Be?

Post by Secret Alias »

I see. So Ehrman's error one or two errors 'prove' he's 'biased' but your consistent siding with any lunatic who promotes an anti-Christian agenda shouldn't be indicative of a pre-existent bias on your part. This is precisely why sports have independent arbiters. The Diatessaron fragment at Dura Europos makes a fourth century conspiracy theory untenable. There's no more discussion needed. That's why I have consistently opposed having this sort of thing promoted here. Christianity existed at the time of Shapur's destruction of Dura Europos. There's a fucking church there too. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dura-Europos_church which mountainman of course denies is a church. But the fragment is irrefutable. If Christianity was at Dura Europos we can believe the stories about Paul of Samosata at Antioch (also destroyed by Shapur at this time). If Christianity was spread throughout Syria, it was undoubtedly also spread throughout the Empire. If it was spread throughout the Empire at the dawn of the Crisis of the Third Century, it was likely pre-existent at the time of the Crisis of the Third Century which means it existed in the second century as the Patristic evidence suggests. I am not suggesting that the Patristic evidence hasn't been altered in some way. I can point to many examples of 'corrections' by later editors. But you can't through baby out with the bath water. Christianity existed in the second century.
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Re: If Discussing Early Christianity Were a Sport What Would the Rules Be?

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Secret Alias wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 6:53 am I see. So Ehrman's error one or two errors 'prove' he's 'biased'
Oh for heaven's sake, SA, please read what I write and no more; stop imputing your own fancies into my words. I have explained exactly what the problem with the specific error I singled out so why can't you accept that that is what I meant?

Secret Alias wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 6:53 ambut your consistent siding with any lunatic who promotes an anti-Christian agenda shouldn't be indicative of a pre-existent bias on your part.
Again, you are letting your imagination and spleen cloud what you are reading. No, I am not siding with LC's argument at all. Surely it is plain that I am siding with the fundamental norms of reasonable discourse: assertions need to be answered with reason and evidence, not insult. Just calling LC "a lunatic" is offensive, crude, insulting, abusive -- even a form of cyber-bullying -- and certainly lowers the whole tone of this forum, something you regularly complain about without seeing your own contribution to that lowered tone. It's the sort of language that would not be tolerated in a scholarly peer-reviewed publication so why do you use it here if you are so concerned about scholarly standards?
Secret Alias wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 6:53 amThe Diatessaron fragment at Dura Europos makes a fourth century conspiracy theory untenable. There's no more discussion needed.
Well, if I were someone curious about LC's claims and came to this forum to see what others had to say about them I would conclude from your refusal to present an actual argument that maybe LC has something in his favour. Just saying there is no more discussion needed is not helpful or informative. Why not give the evidence to support your counter assertion? Or if you can't, it is better to leave LC"s views unanswered.

Secret Alias wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 6:53 amThat's why I have consistently opposed having this sort of thing promoted here. Christianity existed at the time of Shapur's destruction of Dura Europos. There's a fucking church there too.
That's not evidence, SA. You are giving LC all the points by that sort of response. No-one is going to read LC's argument and then your response and conclude that you are right and he is wrong. In fact, most, I suspect, would assume you have no case and that's why you resort to that sort of language and response.

You are impatient with certain ideas. If you don't want to give them oxygen then simply ignore them. What's wrong with that? If you do have the evidence to rebut LC's claim then present it. Simple. If others see the evidence against LC's point, then that's a win. You don't have to expect LC to be convinced.

If you want a forum where certain ideas are banned totally then you have a forum that follows the policy the editors of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus: no article expressing any sympathy or support for a mythicist idea will be published.
Secret Alias wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 6:53 amhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dura-Europos_church which mountainman of course denies is a church. But the fragment is irrefutable.
There you have an opportunity to inform the rest of us who are not so familiar with this find. Why not tell us which fragment or fragments you are pointing to exactly and tell us why they are "irrefutable"? Again, LC may disagree, but the tone of the discussion will be scholarly and leave other readers better informed.
Secret Alias wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 6:53 am If Christianity was at Dura Europos we can believe the stories about Paul of Samosata at Antioch (also destroyed by Shapur at this time).
Okay, but you can at least inform us of the evidence first. Merely pointing to a whole page of information isn't the way to go. Single out the details that prove your point.

But you are surely over-reaching when you state dogmatically that the same evidence gives reason to believe stories about a certain individual. That's another discussion, surely, yes?

Secret Alias wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 6:53 am If Christianity was spread throughout Syria, it was undoubtedly also spread throughout the Empire.
But scholars want evidence for claims. Okay, it makes the spread of Christianity through the empire to some extent likely, but it is not proof.
Secret Alias wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 6:53 am If it was spread throughout the Empire at the dawn of the Crisis of the Third Century, it was likely pre-existent at the time of the Crisis of the Third Century which means it existed in the second century as the Patristic evidence suggests.
This is all hypothetical. Yes, it is a set of reasonable conclusions, but the premises are not absolute certainties. Having said that, I do believe that Christianity was definitely found throughout the empire in the second century. But not because of extrapolation upon provisional extrapolation.
Secret Alias wrote: Thu Sep 22, 2022 6:53 am I am not suggesting that the Patristic evidence hasn't been altered in some way. I can point to many examples of 'corrections' by later editors. But you can't through baby out with the bath water. Christianity existed in the second century.
I agree. But I also think we can establish with reasonable certainty that Christianity did exist in the second century on the basis of the literary evidence. That brings me back to my other attempt to discuss the methods used by historians to determine what happened in ancient times. I have noted you admire scholars like James McGrath as "great" -- but I think McGrath is an apologist from the methods he uses. He is a theologian and not a historian and simply is unaware of the basics of historical methods used by non-biblical historians. At least he certainly was when I attempted to discuss that question with him, only to be the target of his insults as you are now dishing out to others.
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