Reliability of the Gospels
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
04-12-2012, 07:42 AM
Reliability of the Gospels
(04-12-2012 07:34 AM)pianodwarf Wrote:  The gospels are not eyewitness accounts. First of all, they are written in the third person; eyewitnesses write in the first person. Secondly, Matthew, Mark and Luke all copy from each other extensively, in many places almost word-for-word. Eyewitnesses don't do this; they write in their own words. Also, they were all written so much later than the events they allegedly report that it is unlikely the authors were even alive at the time of Jesus' life. Even the earliest of the four, Mark, is generally agreed to have been written no earlier than about 65 CE -- roughly thirty years after Jesus' death -- in a day and age when the average life expectancy was something like 33 years or so. There are other indications as well, such as the fact that Mark makes very basic errors in Palestinian geography. And, of course, Luke himself says he is not an eyewitness.

Even if they were eyewitness accounts, though, they should still be regarded with extreme skepticism. Most people unfamiliar with the topic tend to presuppose that eyewitness testimony is some of the best evidence available, when in fact, it's probably just about the worst. Here is a video I like to use to demonstrate this fact. It's a card trick, where the performers start with a deck of cards that have backs of one color, and turn it into a deck of cards of a different color. Watch closely, and see whether you can spot the trick. I have shown this video to probably several dozen people by now, and thus far, no one has caught it. (I didn't, either, when I first watched it.)




I caught the change of the chick's blouse but missed the other three items.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of Calvinism is that good Atheists do nothing." ~Eric Oh My
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
04-12-2012, 07:45 AM
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
And you're the first person I've heard from who's even caught that much. Everybody else I've shown that to has said that they don't see anything at all. (Avoiding specifics, so as not to spoil for anyone else.)
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
04-12-2012, 08:03 AM
Reliability of the Gospels
(04-12-2012 07:45 AM)pianodwarf Wrote:  And you're the first person I've heard from who's even caught that much. Everybody else I've shown that to has said that they don't see anything at all. (Avoiding specifics, so as not to spoil for anyone else.)

I attribute it to being a lecherous old man. I found myself looking at the woman more than anything else in the picture. Big Grin

"All that is necessary for the triumph of Calvinism is that good Atheists do nothing." ~Eric Oh My
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
04-12-2012, 11:14 AM (This post was last modified: 04-12-2012 11:32 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
The four (present day) canonical gospels are totally unreliable, as "historical" documents, as that is understood today.
A "gospel" is the "good news", (from the Greek "euangelion"). Not the "news". Not the "good news and the bad news". Just the "good news". None of them were written by the people whose names were attached later to appear to give them apostolic "authority". They were written, not for general "reading" purposes, (as the literacy rate was around 5%). They were written to be "proclaimed" in worship services, by believers, to believers, to remind themselves what they already believed and what they should believe. Therefore they are the definition of "unreliable". They are proclamations of belief concerning events which are seen in retrospect, in light of beliefs of other *over-riding* (later) events. Most importantly, that the man Yeshua was "raised" in his cultural milieu to "prophetic" status, just as the other "martyrs" in the post-Maccabeean period were, to "exalted" or "cosmic immortal" status, in a culture which did not believe in life after death. (The concept of a *supposed* physical resurrection developed later).

In my opinion, all can know for sure is that he may have been one of a number of the apocalyptic preachers who was probably an Essene, or Essene-like group member, probably a follower of John the Dipper, (Baptizer), as the gospels all go to such trouble to say "who baptized whom", (and with whose permission which was "finessed" to establish a "hierarchy" for later "literary" purposes), who may or may not have been an insurrectionist, (it appears some of his followers were armed when he was arrested in the "garden" the night of Passover. That was an "arrestable" offense). He threatened the economic stability of a city based 100% on the temple economy, (he over-turned the tables of a few of the money-changers), which was a threat to the Pax Romana, civil order, and the Jewish priest's income and lifestyle. Maybe his followers thought he was a king of some sort, as an issue was made of this by the Romans, and he was probably sarcastically crucified with the "INRI" statement on his cross, as a warning to others. He was almost certainly executed by the Romans without a trial. He never preached (personal) "salvation", or claimed that he had a "special" (ie actual filial) relationship to Yahweh, (ie he did not claim "divine" status), which would have been blasphemy for a Jew. He was seen as a "righteous man", thus was accounted as one of the (many) "sons of God". We know from the description of the Witch of Endor, in describing the "shade" of Saul, (which she conjured), back in Samuel, that when she says "I saw a *divine being* that did NOT equate, in that culture, with the highest (god) status of Yahweh. (It simply meant "other than just human".) So even "if" (and when), Jesus was said by a Jew to be "divine" it was NEVER accounted as having equal status with Yahweh, or the Father. That was unthinkable in a culture which had worked for centuries to establish monotheism.

After that, it all got out of hand, as the followers attempted to deal with the historical mess of the fact that the end-times had not been ushered in, as he had predicted, when the temple was destroyed around 70 CE, and the entire city was destroyed in the 130's by the Romans. The continuing conflict between the new sect and the educated Jews in power appears to be present in the constant intra-gospel discussions with the educated Jewish groups, which almost certainly didn't happen in his lifetime. In fact we know Gamaliel's grandson, in the 90's, required, when he was high-priest, that "expulsion curses" be read, in all the synagogues, as the Way members would not leave the synagogues and caused trouble. For this reason, all the stuff in Acts, concerning the "Jew vs Gentile" business is suspect. Even as late as the 400's, John Chrysostom is sermonizing about the issue, and telling them to stop going to the synagogues.

So there are a few snippets of "historical" truth. Most of all of it is mythology and a later literary interpretation and fabrication of events.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein Certified Ancient Astronaut Theorist and Levitating yogi, CAAT-LY.
Yeah, for verily I say unto thee, and this we know : Jebus no likey that which doth tickle thee unto thy nether regions.

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Bucky Ball's post
04-12-2012, 01:07 PM
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
(04-12-2012 06:59 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  Paul invented the paradigm for evangelical Judaism, and the so-called gospels are the script for it. Ain't reliable for shit. Why you asking these "scholars" when you got a prophet here, you fucking fuck. Big Grin


I need my fortune told. Got a crystal ball?

And by the way, although I do have some considerable education, I am not a scholar in the sense that history is my profession nor have I gone the hard yards required to be a certified historian.

At best, I have an A.D. in the field, but also decades of dabbling.

How can anyone become an atheist when we were all born with no religious beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were ...
BORN THIS WAY
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
04-12-2012, 08:02 PM
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
(04-12-2012 11:14 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  The four (present day) canonical gospels are totally unreliable, as "historical" documents, as that is understood today.
A "gospel" is the "good news". Not the "news". Not the "good news and the bad news". Just the "good news". None of them were written by the people whose names were attached later to appear to give them apostolic "authority". They were written, not for general "reading" purposes, (as the literacy rate was around 5%). They were written to be "proclaimed" in worship services, by believers, to believers, to remind themselves what they already believed and what they should believe. Therefore they are the "definition" of "unreliable". They are proclamations of belief concerning events are seen in retrospect, and in light of beliefs of other *over-riding* later events. Most importantly, that the man Yeshua was "raised" in his cultural milieu to "prophetic" status, just as the other "martyrs" in the post-Maccabeean period were, to "exalted" or "cosmic immortal" status, in a culture which did not believe in life after death. (The concept of a *supposed* physical resurrection developed later).

In my opinion, all can know for sure is that he may have been one of the apocalyptic preachers who was probably an Essene, or Essene-like group member, probably a follower of John the Dipper, (Baptizer), as the gospels all go to such trouble to say "who baptized whom", (and with whose permission), who may or may not have been an insurrectionist, (it appears some of his followers were armed when he was arrested in the "garden" the night of Passover. That was an "arrestable" offense). He threatened the economic stability of a city based 100% of the temple economy, (over-turned the tables of a few of the money-changers), which was a threat to the Pax Romana, civil order, and the Jewish priest's income and lifestyle. Maybe his followers thought he was a king of some sort, as an issue was made of this by the Romans, and he was probably sarcastically crucified with the "INRI" statement on his cross, as a warning to others. He was almost certainly executed by the Romans without a trial. He never preached "salvation", or claimed that he had a "special" (ie actual filial) relationship to Yahweh, (ie he did not claim "divine" status), which would have been blasphemy for a Jew. He was seen as a "righteous man", thus was accounted as one of the (many) "sons of God".

After that it all got out of hand, as the followers attempted to deal with the historical mess of the fact that the end-times had not been ushered in, as he had predicted, when the temple was destroyed around 70 CE, and the entire city was destroyed in the 130's by the Romans. The continuing conflict between the new sect and the educated Jews in power appears to be present in the constant intra-gospel discussions with the educated Jewish groups, which almost certainly didn't happen in his lifetime. In fact we know Gamaliel's grandson, in the 90's, required, when he was high-priest, that "expulsion curses" be read, in all the synagogues, as the Way members would not leave the synagogues and caused trouble. For this reason, all the stuff in Acts, concerning the "Jew vs Gentile" business is suspect. Even as late as the 400's, John Chrysostom is sermonizing about the issue, and telling them to stop going to the synagogues.

So there are a few snippets of "historical" truth. Most of all of it is mythology and a later literary interpretation and fabrication of events.



Awesome summary!
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
04-12-2012, 08:12 PM (This post was last modified: 04-12-2012 08:36 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
What Bucky, and everyone else has said so far, plus...


Eyewitness Accounts?

“It is certain that the New Testament was not written by Christ himself, nor by his apostles, but a long while after them, by some unknown persons, who, lest they should not be credited when they wrote of affairs they were little acquainted with, affixed to their works the names of the apostles, or of such as were supposed to have been their companions, asserting that what they had written themselves was written according to these persons to whom they ascribed it.”St. Faustus (ca. 490 CE,). (http://books.google.com.au/books?id=O00zx0FfpkEC&pg=PA460&lpg=PA460&dq=faustus,+“It+is+certain+that+the ).

Most Christians have been told that direct witnesses of Jesus’ life wrote the four Gospels. This is undoubtedly not the case. I can save the reader who wants to know the truth a lot of time and frustration. The bottom line is: we don’t know for sure who wrote the Gospels, but the authors weren’t the companions of Jesus, and had never met him or anyone who had known him. Even the conservative Catholic Encyclopedia states, “It thus appears that the present titles of the Gospels are not traceable to the Evangelists themselves.” They use the word “evangelist” to avoid “apostle” or “disciple.” They are effectively (and correctly) admitting that the titles of the Gospels “are not traceable” to Jesus’ apostles; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Yet in nearly every church around the world it is implied these apostles were the authors.

If there was even the slightest bit of good evidence that any of the Gospel authors knew Jesus, or someone who knew Jesus, the Catholic Encyclopedia would make a big deal of it. They don’t because there isn’t.One only needs to leaf through any of the Gospels to realise they were not written by eyewitnesses, or by anyone who interrogated eyewitnesses. There are no interviews of Jesus, or his disciples, or of any of the characters in the action. Nowhere do we read a phrase such as “I, Matthew/Mark/Luke/John saw this or heard that” or “I was present when” this or that happened, or “I talked to …who told me… so I asked him...” Everything is written as pure narrative, because the authors had no close connection to the described accounts.Most modern preachers are not inquisitive or honest enough about the source of the dogma they promote. I will discuss just who these authors may have been shortly.

Lost in Translation.

The Gospels were not originally written in Aramaic, or Hebrew, but in Greek, which was first translated into English in the early seventeenth century. To translate a language is difficult and always introduces subtle misunderstandings. These tales have been translated twice, so Yeshua’s words and the remembered reports of what he did include errors in translation. This important and undeniable fact is often overlooked when the supposed words of Jesus are carefully dissected looking for their true meaning.

Yeshua’s Words?

There is no evidence that Yeshua had chroniclers writing down his words as he spoke, so any recording of his remarks must have been reliant on the “oral tradition.” Yet Jesus’ lyrics are recounted in long passages in all the Gospels. For example, there is a monologue that goes on barely uninterrupted for almost ten pages in John 13–18, and there are similar lengthy lectures in Matthew. They must be fictitious. People in those days could not accurately quote the words of speakers, as we are able to do today. Papyrus, the ancient equivalent of paper, was expensive and hard to get hold of, as was ink. People didn’t presume Jesus would have a premature demise. They were itinerant, poor, had to watch their backs and were too concerned with day-to-day survival to be bothered with somehow documenting his words.

Roughly nineteen hundred years ago, educational standards were very poor. It is estimated that only twenty percent of people in the Roman Empire could read at all and less than ten percent could read well (William Harris), and Jews in Palestine were even more illiterate. The author Meir Bar-Ilan claims that less than three percent of Israel’s population was literate, and less than that in rural areas
(http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/i...ew&id=4172).

If you grew up Jewish outside a city, you were unschooled. It is highly unlikely that Jesus or any of his disciples could read or write.The Catholic Encyclopedia disagrees with the majority of historians about the literacy of those in Jesus’ circle: “We may suppose that the Apostles, at least most of them, read and spoke Greek as well as Aramaic, from their childhood.” They “suppose” that “most” of the apostles were bilingual, and could read and write in two languages! They can’t verify these absurd assumptions with evidence. I think they are implying that the apostles wrote the Gospels (in Greek), yet admit elsewhere they didn’t. Carefully chosen commentary is creating an incorrect impression.

The so-called “oral tradition,” said to be how Jesus’ supporters remembered what he said, and then (somehow) later documented, is a myth. We have trouble remembering words from conversations five minutes ago, and our memories are very prone to suggestion, exaggeration, and confabulation. We forget, alter, and exaggerate details. Why would poorly educated peasants perform any better?

Consider a modern analogy. Imagine a politician gave some speeches in a foreign language in a distant country one hundred years ago, and one year later was assassinated. A publicist asks you to write an interesting, detailed short story about the life of this character, whom you had never met, nor had anyone else in your acquaintance. Some of his admirers claim he was someone special. Quoting his actual words is important. You can ask anyone you can find about him, but can’t use the telephone, Internet, newspapers or a car. Imagine you stitched together a story that was translated into another language, let’s call it Greek, and you presented it to the publicist. He handed it on to his marketing people, who tied up some loose ends and inconsistencies and added some details of their own to make it more appealing. They had it translated into Italian, promoted it heavily through a chain of bookstores, and it became a best seller in Italy. You would have to make sense of multiple disparate poorly remembered facts and rumors. Inevitably, most of the story would be sourced from your creative imagination. The translators and editors would butcher your largely fabricated script.The job the original authors of Mark’s Gospel had would have been even more difficult. They were writing anything from 40-150 years after Jesus’ death. A war had devastated Jewish society in the interim. In reality, any verbal tales they heard about Jesus would have been second hand at best and more likely have almost no relation to an actual historical figure. It seems there is no possibility that the Gospel stories could contain the actual words of Jesus.

Why Were the Gospels Written?

They were written to entice people to join a religious cult, not for humanitarian reasons or academic interest. They were propaganda tools that integrated the theological, philosophical, and political ideals of the cult. Each Gospel was targeted at the people of the time, not for distant future generations. Access to books was very limited and there was no mass media, so what the average person thought about the world was only what he had learned from experience and what his parents and neighbors had told him, or maybe, if he was Jewish, what had been read to him from scripture. He had little or no understanding of science or reasoned critical thought, so believed in gods, ghosts, spirits, demons, witches, and the like. If there was sickness in a household, the local wizard or priest was called. It was an age in which myths were commonly considered as truthful, and stories of magic and miracles were believed. Only some of the more educated people, who were relatively few in number, questioned belief in gods.

Modern biographies are usually based on factual accounts of a person’s life. In contrast, ancient authors customarily told stylized life stories. Documenting the actual thoughts, words, and actions of the character was attempted, but to do it accurately was not thought of as particularly important, as biographies were written primarily to create legends and promote moral messages. The original Gospels’ authors and editors didn’t need to appeal to reason or common sense to sell their sort of story. The events they described had happened I think over a hundred years earlier in another part of the world, and their audience had neither the means nor the inclination to check out the facts. What was important was to have written works appealing enough to compete with scores of other interesting cults so that an unsophisticated audience would be impressed. They wrote stylized biographies using the standards of the time. They may not have considered themselves dishonest, but judged by modern standards, they were.

There was no such thing as a printing press, so in the first two hundred years of each gospel’s existence, translators, editors, interpreters, and interpolators altered the original writings by adding or subtracting whatever they thought might be useful. So the dates that are commonly given for the authorship of each Gospel (ranging from 70 CE to 180 CE) are only of limited usefulness, as they can only be thought of only as when the first drafts were composed. (http://www.maplenet.net/~trowbridge/NT_Hist.htm). It was only in the later fourth century that the Gospels had finished evolving and were accepted as the legacy of the apostolic age.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Mark Fulton's post
04-12-2012, 08:22 PM
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
(04-12-2012 07:34 AM)pianodwarf Wrote:  Even if they were eyewitness accounts, though, they should still be regarded with extreme skepticism. Most people unfamiliar with the topic tend to presuppose that eyewitness testimony is some of the best evidence available, when in fact, it's probably just about the worst.

I've heard this point made elsewhere as well, usually in reference to change blindness and often proven with the "basketball video". I totally agree. Who cares if the gospels were eyewitness accounts? That still wouldn't establish their reliability or credibility.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 3 users Like Starcrash's post
04-12-2012, 08:28 PM
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
(04-12-2012 07:34 AM)pianodwarf Wrote:  I have shown this video to probably several dozen people by now, and thus far, no one has caught it. (I didn't, either, when I first watched it.)
I noticed all of them except the table color. It helps that I paid attention to his sleeves (knowing that he was performing an illusion, it might be important) and that I was looking at her breasts. Rolleyes

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
04-12-2012, 08:53 PM
RE: Reliability of the Gospels
(04-12-2012 08:12 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  What Bucky, and everyone else has said so far, plus...


Eyewitness Accounts?

“It is certain that the New Testament was not written by Christ himself, nor by his apostles, but a long while after them, by some unknown persons, who, lest they should not be credited when they wrote of affairs they were little acquainted with, affixed to their works the names of the apostles, or of such as were supposed to have been their companions, asserting that what they had written themselves was written according to these persons to whom they ascribed it.”St. Faustus (ca. 490 CE,). (http://books.google.com.au/books?id=O00zx0FfpkEC&pg=PA460&lpg=PA460&dq=faustus,+“It+is+certain+that+the ).

Most Christians have been told that direct witnesses of Jesus’ life wrote the four Gospels. This is undoubtedly not the case. I can save the reader who wants to know the truth a lot of time and frustration. The bottom line is: we don’t know for sure who wrote the Gospels, but the authors weren’t the companions of Jesus, and had never met him or anyone who had known him. Even the conservative Catholic Encyclopedia states, “It thus appears that the present titles of the Gospels are not traceable to the Evangelists themselves.” They use the word “evangelist” to avoid “apostle” or “disciple.” They are effectively (and correctly) admitting that the titles of the Gospels “are not traceable” to Jesus’ apostles; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Yet in nearly every church around the world it is implied these apostles were the authors.

If there was even the slightest bit of good evidence that any of the Gospel authors knew Jesus, or someone who knew Jesus, the Catholic Encyclopedia would make a big deal of it. They don’t because there isn’t.One only needs to leaf through any of the Gospels to realise they were not written by eyewitnesses, or by anyone who interrogated eyewitnesses. There are no interviews of Jesus, or his disciples, or of any of the characters in the action. Nowhere do we read a phrase such as “I, Matthew/Mark/Luke/John saw this or heard that” or “I was present when” this or that happened, or “I talked to …who told me… so I asked him...” Everything is written as pure narrative, because the authors had no close connection to the described accounts.Most modern preachers are not inquisitive or honest enough about the source of the dogma they promote. I will discuss just who these authors may have been shortly.

Lost in Translation.

The Gospels were not originally written in Aramaic, or Hebrew, but in Greek, which was first translated into English in the early seventeenth century. To translate a language is difficult and always introduces subtle misunderstandings. These tales have been translated twice, so Yeshua’s words and the remembered reports of what he did include errors in translation. This important and undeniable fact is often overlooked when the supposed words of Jesus are carefully dissected looking for their true meaning.

Yeshua’s Words?

There is no evidence that Yeshua had chroniclers writing down his words as he spoke, so any recording of his remarks must have been reliant on the “oral tradition.” Yet Jesus’ lyrics are recounted in long passages in all the Gospels. For example, there is a monologue that goes on barely uninterrupted for almost ten pages in John 13–18, and there are similar lengthy lectures in Matthew. They must be fictitious. People in those days could not accurately quote the words of speakers, as we are able to do today. Papyrus, the ancient equivalent of paper, was expensive and hard to get hold of, as was ink. People didn’t presume Jesus would have a premature demise. They were itinerant, poor, had to watch their backs and were too concerned with day-to-day survival to be bothered with somehow documenting his words.

Roughly nineteen hundred years ago, educational standards were very poor. It is estimated that only twenty percent of people in the Roman Empire could read at all and less than ten percent could read well (William Harris), and Jews in Palestine were even more illiterate. The author Meir Bar-Ilan claims that less than three percent of Israel’s population was literate, and less than that in rural areas
(http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/i...ew&id=4172).

If you grew up Jewish outside a city, you were unschooled. It is highly unlikely that Jesus or any of his disciples could read or write.The Catholic Encyclopedia disagrees with the majority of historians about the literacy of those in Jesus’ circle: “We may suppose that the Apostles, at least most of them, read and spoke Greek as well as Aramaic, from their childhood.” They “suppose” that “most” of the apostles were bilingual, and could read and write in two languages! They can’t verify these absurd assumptions with evidence. I think they are implying that the apostles wrote the Gospels (in Greek), yet admit elsewhere they didn’t. Carefully chosen commentary is creating an incorrect impression.

The so-called “oral tradition,” said to be how Jesus’ supporters remembered what he said, and then (somehow) later documented, is a myth. We have trouble remembering words from conversations five minutes ago, and our memories are very prone to suggestion, exaggeration, and confabulation. We forget, alter, and exaggerate details. Why would poorly educated peasants perform any better?

Consider a modern analogy. Imagine a politician gave some speeches in a foreign language in a distant country one hundred years ago, and one year later was assassinated. A publicist asks you to write an interesting, detailed short story about the life of this character, whom you had never met, nor had anyone else in your acquaintance. Some of his admirers claim he was someone special. Quoting his actual words is important. You can ask anyone you can find about him, but can’t use the telephone, Internet, newspapers or a car. Imagine you stitched together a story that was translated into another language, let’s call it Greek, and you presented it to the publicist. He handed it on to his marketing people, who tied up some loose ends and inconsistencies and added some details of their own to make it more appealing. They had it translated into Italian, promoted it heavily through a chain of bookstores, and it became a best seller in Italy. You would have to make sense of multiple disparate poorly remembered facts and rumors. Inevitably, most of the story would be sourced from your creative imagination. The translators and editors would butcher your largely fabricated script.The job the original authors of Mark’s Gospel had would have been even more difficult. They were writing anything from 40-150 years after Jesus’ death. A war had devastated Jewish society in the interim. In reality, any verbal tales they heard about Jesus would have been second hand at best and more likely have almost no relation to an actual historical figure. It seems there is no possibility that the Gospel stories could contain the actual words of Jesus.

Why Were the Gospels Written?

They were written to entice people to join a religious cult, not for humanitarian reasons or academic interest. They were propaganda tools that integrated the theological, philosophical, and political ideals of the cult. Each Gospel was targeted at the people of the time, not for distant future generations. Access to books was very limited and there was no mass media, so what the average person thought about the world was only what he had learned from experience and what his parents and neighbors had told him, or maybe, if he was Jewish, what had been read to him from scripture. He had little or no understanding of science or reasoned critical thought, so believed in gods, ghosts, spirits, demons, witches, and the like. If there was sickness in a household, the local wizard or priest was called. It was an age in which myths were commonly considered as truthful, and stories of magic and miracles were believed. Only some of the more educated people, who were relatively few in number, questioned belief in gods.

Modern biographies are usually based on factual accounts of a person’s life. In contrast, ancient authors customarily told stylized life stories. Documenting the actual thoughts, words, and actions of the character was attempted, but to do it accurately was not thought of as particularly important, as biographies were written primarily to create legends and promote moral messages. The original Gospels’ authors and editors didn’t need to appeal to reason or common sense to sell their sort of story. The events they described had happened I think over a hundred years earlier in another part of the world, and their audience had neither the means nor the inclination to check out the facts. What was important was to have written works appealing enough to compete with scores of other interesting cults so that an unsophisticated audience would be impressed. They wrote stylized biographies using the standards of the time. They may not have considered themselves dishonest, but judged by modern standards, they were.

There was no such thing as a printing press, so in the first two hundred years of each gospel’s existence, translators, editors, interpreters, and interpolators altered the original writings by adding or subtracting whatever they thought might be useful. So the dates that are commonly given for the authorship of each Gospel (ranging from 70 CE to 180 CE) are only of limited usefulness, as they can only be thought of only as when the first drafts were composed. (http://www.maplenet.net/~trowbridge/NT_Hist.htm). It was only in the later fourth century that the Gospels had finished evolving and were accepted as the legacy of the apostolic age.

One further point about Mark's comment about the passing on of "oral traditions". I recently heard a Catholic priest trying to say "well there were oral traditions, about these events, and thus they can be trusted". That is simply not true. In cultures where epic poetry was memorized and written as fairly "unchanging" (reliable) literature, it was a specific skill, and someone's JOB description. The job had a title. They trained for a lifetime to do it, and to memorize the epic poems which they recited. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_poetry
The Hebrews (as opposed to the Greeks and later the Muslims), had no such job description. Hebrew culture wrote stuff down on scrolls or "torahs". The "oral tradition" business is simply nonsense.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein Certified Ancient Astronaut Theorist and Levitating yogi, CAAT-LY.
Yeah, for verily I say unto thee, and this we know : Jebus no likey that which doth tickle thee unto thy nether regions.

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Bucky Ball's post
Post Reply
Forum Jump: