jeudi 10 novembre 2011

Plagiarism charge

Miracles and the Book of Mormon (there is the word demon in the url, wonder why?):

Ruth Tucker is an evangelical Christian. In her excellent book, 'Another Gospel', (Zondervan,1989), she examines the beliefs of Mormons, Moonies, Jehovah's Witnesses etc. Here is what she says about the Book of Mormon.

"Many of the stories in the Book of Mormon were, as Fawn Brodie and many others have shown, borrowed from the Bible. The daughter of Jared, like Salome, danced before a king and decapitation followed. Aminadi, like Daniel, deciphered handwriting on a wall, and Alma was converted after the exact fashion of St. Paul. The daughters of the Lamanites were abducted like the dancing daughters of Shiloh; and Ammon, the American counterpart of David, for want of a Goliath slew six sheep-rustlers with his sling".

What could be more obvious and clear-cut?

Note here, the book of Mormon is supposed to be about other people than the ones in the Old Testament. A bit suspicious if all that ever happens to them has its exactest very prosaic parallels in the Old Testament.

Or take Chapter 2 Verse 249 of the Koran, which is about the first king of Israel, called Talut in the Koran.

So when Talut departed with the forces, he said: Surely Allah will try you with a river; whoever then drinks from it, he is not of me, and whoever does not taste of it, he is surely of me, except he who takes with his hand as much of it as fills the hand; but with the exception of a few of them they drank from it. So when he had crossed it, he and those who believed with him, they said: We have today no power against Jalut and his forces.

Christians will at once recognise this strange story about how God tested the army of the Israelites by making them drink from a river. It is found in Judges 7:4-7. Perhaps the details of other Biblical stories were also weaved together into this one story.

Here, please note, that if the Quraan is supposed to be about the same people as for instance Old and New Testaments, it is very fishy how many details differ - precisely as it is fishy when Miryam/Maryam sister of Moses is identified with Mary/Maryam, Mother of Jesus - or when Jesus has a name which corresponds closer to Esau than to Jesus. And Quraan is the younger testimony, the one very much further away in time from the events, meaning that the Old Testament account trumps the one of the Quraan. As does the Testimony of the New Testament.

Quraan is nearly six hundred years younger than Gospels - which were contemporary evidence or at least within a century. Quraan is also younger than Exodus etc. - which was also a contemporary evidence. There the factor is about two thousand years younger.

Here are two cases that are pretty different, but where the page does not go into details of that difference at all. Only the common denominator or "plagiarism" comes into account, and then, by parallel reasoning - the parallel does break down on a certain point, if we remember my analysis of the given items - they go on to:

Take the feeding of the 5,000.

In 2 Kings 4:42-44, Elisha has a great many people to feed with only a few loaves of bread and a little other food. He delegates the task of feeding. There is a complaint that the quantity is too small. The feeding continues and everyone is fed. There is surplus bread left over. This older story from Kings has exactly the same plot as the feeding of the 5,000 - only the numbers are different.

The feeding of the 5,000 is such an obvious rewrite of the story from Kings that if I remind you that Jesus used barley bread, you can guess what type of bread Elisha used.

On page 176 of the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, written by a raft of Catholic scholars, it says that 2 Kings 4:42-44 is 'obviously the inspiration for the NT multiplication miracles'. I like the word 'obviously'.

Difference from Quraan? Elisha and Jesus are supposed to be two different persons. They are two different pesons. The story about Jesus is not a garbled version of the story about Elisha, for every one of those Christians knew that Elisha had multiplied loaves before Our Lord.

Difference from Book of Mormon? That book only - with pretty few exceptions and those crucial to Mormonism, like a people of God in the Americas and Christ going there to peach (crucial as replacement of the Catholic Church, as inheritor of Christ's promise at end of Gospel of St Matthew), everything is a remake (often in prosaic detail) of an Old Testament story, but it is improbable - I have not read it - that Mormon's Book exhausts the riches of the Old testament. In Jesus' case, everything in the Old Testament is indeed somehow or other related to Jesus, but not only that, lots of Pagan mythologies and some philosophies too are so.

Elisha multiplied loaves of bread once and Christ did so twice. Elijah raised a widow's boy child from the dead and so did Jesus (from the same region, I seem to recall too). Now, multiplying loaves and raising dead are pretty exact parallels, but there is nothing prosaic about them.

Joseph and Daniel were thrown into miserable prisons and raised out of them - the one mainly to save from starvation, the other to witness to truth. But Christ was not only down in a pit, he was down in Sheôl - and he raised himself as opposed to being let out by his judges. And Pilate and Kaiphas were both far more evil than either Potiphar or Nebuchadnessar. Indeed, Potiphar's wife was Potiphar's excuse, since he listened to her. Pilate's wife could have been Pilate's rescue from evil-doing - if he had dared listen to her. Here there is indeed a parallel, even exactitude in the parallel, but not prosaic sameness, rather opposition: Christ was up against far greater odds than ever Daniel or Joseph. And it was the Holy Land that became by that Deicide a land parallel to the exile lands of Egypt and Babylon.

That there are Pagan parallels is commonplace. I would say that every Pagan myth in some sense touches either the mystery of Christ or the mystery of Antichrist - except when it is as garbled a version of Old Testament story as the Quraan. Deucalion and Pyrrha - as I have noted elsewhere - is a myth telescoping the Flood, the destruction of Sodom, the visit of the angels to Lot and to Abraham and Sarah before Lot. Plus a sentence or two from Creation account and account of the fall. Much as the Quraan is quite capable of telescoping Our Lord's family with Moses' family. Just a few thousand years between them. But there are Pagan myths that are not like that. And some show us Antichrist, some show us Christ. And these are history from the Pagan countries - though sometimes garbled history.

Osiris has been taken a model for resurrection. Sadly enough a resurrection incomplete and magically made by his wife Isis. St Mary, unlike Isis, had no divine powers to raise her Son with, it was the Son who was divine and raised himself.

Krishna has been taken as model for Ascension, by none less than Acharya Sanning. Yeah, right: his soul ascends to Heaven, as shown to a poet, in a dream ... yawn (literally, but that is lack of sleep too, I sleep in places where I am woken up too early). Nothing like Our Lord Resurrecting first and then showing himself as resurrected, not just to close family like Horus, but to 11 and some women and two and five hundred and ... then Rising up to Heaven before their very eyes.

No, the Plagiarism charge will not stick. Plagiarise one source, it is Plagiarism. Plagiarise two, it is Compilation. Plagiarise three or more, it is Original Work. Especially as the supposed Plagiarism is witness accounts.

Now, if 607 verses in St Mark are identical to 607 verses in St Matthew, then maybe St Matthew plagiarised St Mark, as this page says, but then again, maybe St Mark based his one on two eyewitness accounts: St Matthew whom he could read and St Peter whom he could listen to. And some are coincidence, because saying the same things in different words is not easy if both stick to simple words as much as possible. This is of course what we Christians believe to be the case.

Hans-Georg Lundahl

Laws of nature

Evidence*) can be deduced for or against the occurrence of specific events, but such evidence *relies* on general laws. That is because the whole theoretical model of scientific explanation rests on the idea that *every* particular event is subsumed under general rules. We test the rules by reference to the data, which in turn are comprised of specific events.

That brings us back to the guy who without looking at registers assumes he has 32 different persons as grandfather's grandfather's father and so on up to grandmother's grandmother's mother. He is subsuming the specific event under the general rule, but he is stating the general rule sloppily. Just because - being sufficiently distantb from first men - he has to have a grandfather's grandfather's father (or rather eight, but one of them a father's father's father's father's father) as well as a grandmother's grandmother's father (eight, one of them a mother's mother's mother's mother's father) he cannot really know, but he thought he knew, that they were two different persons.

In Western Larger Cities, having 28 - 32 different persons in that generation is not at all uncommon, due to avoiding of close relatives. I think that excepting Jews and Gipsies, who avoid cousin marriages less, as well as recent Near East Immigration, 28 - 32 different people is more common than anywhere between 4 - 26, whereas 2 would be outstanding: in order to have only two of them, one would have to be either five generations after Adam and Eve, or five generations on an isolated island which started out with a single couple like Adam and Eve.

Now, as said earlier: if a man who was really fifth from Adam and Eve (but living away from them, in Nod East of Eden, and so not seeing them) were to extrapolate from the fact that as everyone has two parents, every parent is someone who has two parents, and so on, and conclude that he had 32 different persons five generations back rather than Adam and Eve having sixteen ancestor roles each, would be getting the general rule wrong, because he tried to formulate the general rule before discounting evidence because it conflicted with the general rule.

So, just for example, we can't "test" the hypothesis that the sun went down on July 28, 50000 BC. It's an event, not an explanation. But if someone asked what evidence we have for the truth of the proposition, we could only appeal to the observably law-governed motion of the planet, and the absence of any well-attested discontinuity.

A Christian can reply: it did not set back then, because that year did not exist. God created Heaven and Earth, I will not say later than then, because that gives a false view of God's eternity before creating, if I got St Thomas Aquinas right, but more recently. I will also reply that discontinuities are attested:

  • a) 24 h standstill in Joshua's times;
  • b) one King of Judah asking a prophet to make the sun go backwards two measures on the sun watch (probable limit between equinox Taurus and equinox Pisces if only sun, but neither moon nor fixed stars went back);
  • c) one of those probably equals the exaggerated account of Greeks of Sun rising in the West and setting in the East, when Thyestes made Atreus eat his own sons;
  • d) the two occasions are confirmed losely also by Egyptian astronomers who reported four irregularities for the last ten thousand years (=more than the world existed, thus Egyptians have deliberately misdated to make their culture and knowledge look older than it is).

As for sources neither Jewish, Greek or Egyptian, their records do not reach uninterruptedly as far back as that. As far laws, the one who claims that the Sun obeying Joshua is impossible is very like a man who claims it is impossible that potato cut into pieces can take half an hour to boil soft, from when water starts boiling, because he knows it takes ten minutes at sea level (twenty for big uncut potatoes) and he has never been at Titicaca. Saying there is neither any God nor any angel who can do what bodily creatures cannot, is misstating the laws of nature. And, as in water boiling at 100°C, misstating in such a way that one can live very long without seing the mistake corrected.

I'd prefer not to distinguish between facts and laws, since laws (at least in the framework I'm supposing) are just a certain type of general fact. But, obviously, they're quite different from reports of specific events. To confuse those two sorts of things is just very sloppy.

Precisely: laws are general facts and need scientific explanation and repetated universal or next-to-universal attestation. Specific events are not general and need attestation.

If frequency of attestation is the rule by which we go in accepting or rejecting not so probable events, miracles are in as good a position as plagues or wars - or even better.

If rejection of the supernatural is your rule, because acceptance of the supernatural would in your eyes make the general principle you enounced harder or - though that is just your take - impossible to apply, then you are no longer in a position of inquiring about whether miracles occur, but in the position of one rejecting them. On a certain principle.

Quite obviously, we Christians would not be sharing that principle. So, either the principle is not self evident, or we are unusually stupid for not grasping a self evident principle. Indeed, seeing that atheist materialists are such a clear minority of the World Population, most of the world would be unusually stupid and only a minority sane as usual - but then that "sane as usual" would no longer be "as usual" but rather exceptional. So, where does your principled superiority over the rest of humanity come from? A good question to ask before bowing down to you wisdom, I should think.

It does not come from the logic of your mate who - after reading my previous post here - asks "what sober witness would state that dead men walked" about St Matthew, as if that were a self-evident principle between both parties, and on top of it misses that the one Apostle to be certain eyewitness to the Crucifixion is also the one who reports that blood and water came from Christ's side when St Longinus pierced Our Lord's side with his lance. Nor from his confusion about "not stating same things" as if it were tantamount to stating contradictory things.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
*)On the thread under these arguments came up.

dimanche 6 novembre 2011

Challenge on Gospels.

I was saying on P Z Myers' blog comments that eywitness accounts trump reconstruction. That fuelled a challenge about eywitness accounts as such.

None of the gospels were written by eyewitnesses.

Two were, St Matthew (not present on Crucufixion) and St John (present on Crucifixion). The other two had access to eyewitness accounts.

They don't agree on what Jesus's last words were.

Last on Cross? There were seven in total, spread through the four Gospels. First two include and latter two omit the Psalm quote in Hebrew with Aramaic adress to God and spoonerism in the verb, antepenultime word. Other inclusions and omissions are there for other words among the seven, like only St John giving us "woman, see thy son" and "see thy mother" - impossible for him to miss for obvious personal reasons.

St John: Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost. St Luke: And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost. St Mark: And Jesus having cried out with a loud voice, gave up the ghost.=St Matthew: And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

The two that give us psalm 22 before vinegar omit the following two words only giving is the fact that one of them was cried out load and one followed by death, of which the one on consummation is immediately after vinegar and the one on the Father's hands immediately before the giving up of his ghost.

They don't agree on what happened when Jesus allegedly died.

St Matthew: [51] And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent. [52] And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints that had slept arose, [53] And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, came into the holy city, and appeared to many. [54] Now the centurion and they that were with him watching Jesus, having seen the earthquake, and the things that were done, were sore afraid, saying: Indeed this was the Son of God. St Mark: [38] And the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. [39] And the centurion who stood over against him, seeing that crying out in this manner he had given up the ghost, said: Indeed this man was the son of God. St Luke: [47] Now the centurion, seeing what was done, glorified God, saying: Indeed this was a just man. St John: [31] Then the Jews, (because it was the parasceve,) that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that was a great sabbath day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. [32] The soldiers therefore came; and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other that was crucified with him. [33] But after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. [34] But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water. [35] And he that saw it, hath given testimony, and his testimony is true. And he knoweth that he saith true; that you also may believe.

Sts Matthew, Mark, Luke are shorter and shorter, St John gives a different line of events without contradicting the one given by St Matthew.

They don't agree on the location of his tomb.

Only St John gives location. The apparent contradiction is only there if a) Pilate was away from that place, in his palace, and b) he also gave the body as present before him, but c) either he was away and only ordered the body to be given or he was there if the body was before him.

They don't agree on how he was prepared for burial.

St Matthew: [59] And Joseph taking the body, wrapped it up in a clean linen cloth. [60] And laid it in his own new monument, which he had hewed out in a rock. And he rolled a great stone to the door of the monument, and went his way. [61] And there was there Mary Magdalen, and the other Mary sitting over against the sepulchre. St Mark: [46] And Joseph buying fine linen, and taking him down, wrapped him up in the fine linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewed out of a rock. And he rolled a stone to the door of the sepulchre. [47] And Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of Joseph, beheld where he was laid. St Luke: [53] And taking him down, he wrapped him in fine linen, and laid him in a sepulchre that was hewed in stone, wherein never yet any man had been laid. [54] And it was the day of the Parasceve, and the sabbath drew on. [55] And the women that were come with him from Galilee, following after, saw the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. [56] And returning, they prepared spices and ointments; and on the sabbath day they rested, according to the commandment. St John: [38] And after these things, Joseph of Arimathea (because he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews) besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate gave leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. [39] And Nicodemus also came, (he who at the first came to Jesus by night,) bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. [40] They took therefore the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. [41] Now there was in the place where he was crucified, a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein no man yet had been laid. [42] There, therefore, because of the parasceve of the Jews, they laid Jesus, because the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

St John is the one who tells us that Nicodemus brought the spices, but that is no contradiction to the myrrhophores thinking they have to supply spices. None says that the myrrhophores saw the whole process.

They don't agree on who or how many found the alleged empty tomb, who was there when they found it, and what happened afterward.

Since more than one finding of the empty tomb was done, it is no inconvenience if one sees the angels and another not. They have had time to move about.

They don't agree on when and where Jesus allegedly reappeared, and what happened after that.

There were more appearances than one, hence the same solution as to previous.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
George Pompidou Library
of Paris
Sunday the 6 of October Nov.
YooL 2011