vendredi 8 décembre 2017

Fig Tree Complaint Revisited

I don't know where this atheist cited by J. P. Holding at 1:42 and before in a video* gets his knowledge of fig trees from, but I have been around where fig trees grow. Not in Holy Land, but in France, where the ripening of figs obviously happens later by a few months.

One of the things which can start a fig tree growing is:

  • a) you eat a fig (or two, or three ...)
  • b) you shit on the ground
  • c) fig seeds are now on the ground with excellent fertiliser.

In other words, fig trees do not need cultivation to grow. Nor to have good fruit.

A fig tree would typically be able to provide food for free to poor people and that from perhaps a month of two weeks before it is ripe for consumption as usually seen. An unripe fig is giving you starch where a ripe fig would give you sugar. And from perhaps 1 month before, perhaps a bit later, you would not get too much bitter stuff along with the starch either.

Eating an unripe fig from a wild fig tree is not the treat we think of as "eating a fig", but it is a makeshift when it comes to stilling your hunger.

Now, while the Greek word for "fruit" suggests sth like ripeness, since it can be picked, the word per se does not mean the fruits have to be actually ripe - especially not with figs, where the unripe fruit is, if not excellent, at least edible (if you are very hungry).

The thing is, from Bethany to Jerusalem city, Christ would normally either be walking over Mount of Olives or bast Bethphage - a place where figs are cultivated.

He would either have seen a self sown fig tree, or the fig tree closest to the limit of a fig orchard.

Now, in the case of a self sown fig tree, very obviously He and anyone else had a right to pick from it. This no one would contest.

In the case of the fig tree closest to limit of an orchard, the law of Moses stated the right of poor (and at least Franciscans claim Jesus was poor during the ministry, He was certainly not working as a carpenter any more and what He had earned from selling His part to an older stepbrother not believing in Him, He had arguably given away to the poor) ... the law of Moses stated the right of the poor to gather at the edges of someone's property and things falling to the ground.

As to figs falling to the ground, not a very good thing. They are sticky and any gravel tends to get caught. But going in and eating inside the edge of the orchard, taking nothing out, that was allowed in the law of Moses.

Now, where Our Lord was planning to eat some, whether a self sown tree or according to parallel case to Deuteronomy 23:24,25, there were no figs. Meaning, there were no unripe figs even. Now, this could be for diverse reasons.

  • figs were anyway from wild figs, and the fig collectors were very early that year
  • a self sown fig tree was competing with the alms of someone who wanted to show off his almsgiving before men, and he had the fruits removed
  • a cultivated fig at the edge of the orchard was too often used by poor and the owner decided - if not against the law, at least against the spirit of the law - to make this impossible
  • it was a male tree with no fruit, good only for pollination.

Reason four would be making a comment on the excessive machismo of Jewish culture. Reason one would be making a comment on greed. And reasons 2 or 3 would involve someone being stingy to the poor in order to push them to take alms from someone rather than from God through the fig tree.

While God has instituted private property, He has also set a limit on it.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Feast of Immaculate Conception
of the Blessed Virgin Mary

* Omitting link for now, since J. P. Holding is in same video claiming Our Lady was along with the move to declare Our Lord crazy. Link will be given when I make the post refuting this./HGL

mardi 5 décembre 2017

No More Freewill Than a Bowl of Sugar, Cashmore?

I read a horrifying quote on today's article on CMI:*

Similarly Professor Anthony Cashmore stated, “The reality is, not only do we have no more free will than a fly or a bacterium, in actuality we have no more free will than a bowl of sugar.”

Reference : Cashmore, A., The Lucretian swerve: The biological basis of human behavior and the criminal justice system, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(10):4499-4504, 2010;

OK, Cashmore, how many bowls of sugar are imagining they have freewill?/HGL


mardi 31 octobre 2017

Sipapuni Origin Myths

Should Jimmy Akin Review His View on History? · Sipapuni Origin Myths

Jimmy Akin argued not all origin myths can be taken seriously.

As an example, he cites the one of Hopi and Zuni considering man emerged into the fourth or fifth world at Sipapuni.

FOUND! The Sipapuni!

For example, certain long-settled peoples have no memory of their true origins, and they have provided an account based on folklore and mythology.

When this happens, they may say that their people was created by the gods—or otherwise entered the world—in the same territory they now occupy.

This is the case with the Hopi and Zuni tribes of North America, whose origin stories hold that human beings—including themselves—first emerged into this world out of a hole in a rocky mound known as the Sipapuni, which is located on the Colorado River outside Grand Canyon National Park.

From link previously provided. And now, from this link:

Because the Sipapuni is an enormously important location in the folklore of several American Indian tribes, particularly the Hopi and the Zuni.

According to both of these tribes, the Sipapuni is the location from which man emerged into this world. In other words, it’s their equivalent of the Garden of Eden.

According to both tribes (though the details vary), the beings that eventually emerged into the world went through a series of other worlds before climbing up out of the Sipapuni into ours.

In Hopi folklore, this is the fourth world. Things weren’t going so good in the third world, and so they found a way to climb up into a new, largely uninhabited world and became the human race.

In Zuni folklore, humans passed through a series of four caves before emerging through the Sipapuni, making this the fifth world.

Now, I would argue that Sipapuni is rather the Mount Ararat of Hopi and Zuni. And considering Creationists who say Grand Canyon (where Sipapuni is one part) formed during and after the Flood, it is possible that post-Flood early arrivals to Americas saw the formation of Grand Canyon, including Sipapuni. If they forgot about the Old World and real location of Mount Ararat, referring to Sipapuni as equivalent of Mount Ararat is indeed rather correct, relatively speaking.

How do I know it is rather their "Ararat" than their "Eden"?

This account* is attributed to a present-day Hopi and is obviously an oral tradition that the speaker attributes to the Ancestral Puebloan Indians (often called Anasazi - not to the liking of modern Puebloan descendants).

This is the fourth world. The third world was ended by a great flood and some humans were rescued by the ant people. The ant people were much larger than today (about four foot tall), although they did live in the ground. At the end of the third world, the ant people made some kind of commitment [I do not recall to whom] that they would keep these refugees safe during the upcoming flood. So they stored away food, brought the people down and plugged all the holes to the surface. The problem came when the flood lasted longer than expected and rations were ran low. The ant people, being honorable people, kept their commitment to keep the humans safe by giving their own rations to these humans. Eventually the waters did recede and the humans were back on the land emerging from a hole as represented in the kivas. But the ant people having not eaten for some time had shrunk to their present miniature size.

If you look at palaeontological insects, you will find some of them are lost greater than these days. If pre-Flood insects were greater and this was recalled by earliest Palaeo-Indians, this makes sense.

In other words, the confusion is between Sipapuni and Ararat and between anthive and Ark (where rations may have been dangerously low just before hitting Mount Ararat), and therefore, apart from confusing localities, and means of salvation during Flood (it's not collectivist Communism!), the Hopi and Zuni story is vindicated as in some essentials simply true, corresponding to parts of Genesis 1-11.

Note, I think Palaeo-Indians arrived before Babel and therefore speaking Hebrew.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Paris III, la Mairie
All Hallow's Eve

* Hopi Creation Myth

The Gospel Truth, William P. Lazarus, part 3

The Gospel Truth, by William P. Lazarus : part 1 · part 2 · part 3
William Paul Lazarus reacted to: part 1

I was planning to make a post about obvious blunders in William P. Lazarus' book.

I will instead gratify his itch to infirm defenses of Christianity (supposing he can do so), by giving a somewhat hazardous hypothesis or conjecture of mine.

When WPL argues for a movement with forgotten origins getting completely rebooted ones via a novel writer talented Gospeller under pen name Mark and three of his rip offs, he is arguing for a Yeshu from c. 100 years before the one we worship having been the real founder of a sect called Notsri.

This is a very hazardous claim. I will make one myself.

There was a Yeshu c. 100 years before Our Lord, he made himself conspicuous by looking at women he was not married to, he left a rabbi who would otherwise have forgiven him, he went to Egypt and learned magic. He founded a sect which was idolatrous - in Sweden. In Ynglingatal and Ynglingasaga and in Saxo, he is known as Odin.

Pharisees retained the memory. So did other future enemies of Our Lord.

When about 100 years later they rejected Our Lord Jesus Christ, they decided to conflate the account of Him with the memories of Odin's pre-Swedish carreer.

The result of this conflation is a blasphemous book known as Toledot Yeshu.

Betrayal by a disciple called Ischarioto was added from the Christian story, a disciple named Mattai were added from it, execution by Jews was added from it (bypassing their use of Romans). The conflation with an earlier character allowed them to forget Jesus was crucified by Ethnics, by Goyim, because Jews in the time of Pilate had already lost the right to execute death penalties.

It also allowed them to explain the Divine Miracles of God made Man as dark magic, learned by Egyptian magicians.

Note, by the time that Toledot Yeshu is composed ... by the way, when is it composed?

It is certainly attested much later than the canonic Gospels.

A recent study reports that more than 100 manuscripts of the Toledot exist, almost all of them late medieval (the oldest manuscript being from the 11th century).[10] The earliest stratum of composition was probably in Aramaic. There are recensions extant in Hebrew, and later versions in Judeo-Persian and Arabic as well as Yiddish and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish).[11]

The date of composition cannot be ascertained with certainty and there are conflicting views as to what markers denote dates. For instance, the Toledot refers to Christian festivals and observances that only originated after the 4th century.[12][13] However, in his Incredible Shrinking Son of Man Robert M. Price states that the Toledot Yeshu is "dependent on second-century Jewish-Christian gospel",[14] and Alexander argues that the oral traditions behind the written versions of the Toledot Yeshu might go all the way back to the formation of the canonical narratives themselves.[15]

It is unlikely that one person is the author, since the narrative itself has a number of different versions, which differ in terms of the story details and the attitude towards the central characters. Even individual versions seems to come from a number of storytellers.[1]

Some scholars assert that the source material is no earlier than the 6th century, and the compilation no earlier than the 9th century.[16] Although the individual anecdotes that make up the Toledot Yeshu may all come from sources dating before the sixth century, there is no evidence that their gathering into a single narrative is that early.[17] Some scholars, such as Jeffrey Rubenstein, favour a late composition date, posterior to the seventh century.[18]

The earliest known mention is an oblique mention by Agobard, archbishop of Lyon, circa. 826, and then another mention by his successor, Amulo, circa 849.[3][19] [20] However, since Agobard does not refer to the source by name it cannot be certain that this is the Toledot.[21]

from Toledot Yeshu, wiki cited today

So, my conjecture is very tenuous indeed. The Toledot could be very late, and so could the material from Mishna and Gemarah where certain hints come from.

Instead of there being a real man c. 100 years before Jesus from Nazareth, one who is remembered in Toledot Yeshu for the purpose of denigrating Our Lord, and one better known in his idolatry from Norse myths and the historic legends of his arrival in Uppsala region, the person described could be purely fictitious, invented as a parady of Our Lord.

By the time the Toledot is composed or its Talmudic very partial sources are composed (except if some should refer to a real pre-Christian false prophet), one is very much further away from the times when the supposed or real Yeshu would have existed, and already at some distance from the life of Our Lord whom the Jews rejected, also, and therefore, with description of an extraneous community, Jewish intellectuals were free to make conflations in denigrating purposes.

The only falsehood they make about their own one is pretending it is a straight on continuation of pre-Jesus and pre-Caiaphas Judaism. By the time the Temple was destroyed it was already not so.

Before making comments on other obvious blunders, I think it is appropriate to comment on this one, making the possibly real person of Sanh 103a/b; Ber 17b, Sanh 107b; Sot 47a (I checked "Jesus in the Talmud" for the references) the key in understanding the Christian community is a heavy overreliance of Jewish sources, and notably of the conflation between this man and Jesus in Sanhedrin 43 (same source, I am obviously not an expert in Judaica).

Hans Georg Lundahl
Paris III, la Mairie
All Hallows' Eve

Wikipedian references
to the quote above:

Ben Ezra, Daniel Stokl, An Ancient List of Christian Festivals in Toledot Yeshu, Harvard Theological Review, vol. 102, nr. 4 (Oct. 2009) pages 483-484.

Gero, Stephan (1988). "Apocryphal Gospels: A Survey". Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt (in German and English). Teil II (Band 25 (5 Teilband)): 3991f. ISBN 978-3-11-011893-3.

Ben Ezra, Daniel Stokl, An Ancient List of Christian Festivals in Toledot Yeshu, Harvard Theological Review, vol. 102, nr. 4 (Oct. 2009) p. 488; also, Leiman, Sid Z., The Scroll of Fasts: The Ninth of Tebeth, Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. n.s. 74, nr. 2 (Oct. 1983) p.186-188, p.195. See also Van Voorst, ‘’op. cit.’’, p.122, 127.

Maas, Michael (2005). The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian. Cambridge University Press. p. 406. ISBN 0-521-81746-3.

Price, Robert (2003) Incredible Shrinking Son of Man pg 40

Alexander, P. ‘Jesus and his Mother in the Jewish Anti-Gospel (the Toledot Yeshu)’, in eds. C. Clivaz et al., Infancy Gospels, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck GmbH & Co. KG, 2011, pp. 588-616.

Dan, Joseph (2006). "Toledot Yeshu". In Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Encyclopaedia Judaica. 20 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Gale Virtual Reference Library. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-0-02-865928-2. Retrieved August 4, 2011.

Worth, Roland H., Jr., Alternative Lives of Jesus: Noncanonical accounts through the early Middle Ages (2003, NC, McFarland & Co.) pages 49-50; also, Dan, Joseph, "Toledot Yeshu" in Encyclopaedia Judaica (2nd ed. 2007, Farmington Hills, Mich., Macmillin Reference USA) page 29; "The complete narrative, which could not have been written before the tenth century, used earlier sources ....".

Klausner, Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth: His life, times, and teaching (orig. 1922, Engl. transl. 1925, London, George Allen & Unwin) pages 52-53 ("The present Hebrew Tol'doth Yeshu, even in its earliest form, ... was not composed before the tenth century").

effrey L. Rubenstein, Stories of the Babylonian Talmud’’ (2010), p 272: "There is not one shred of evidence that Toledot Yeshu existed in written form in Babylonian in the seventh century, as Gero claims it did, nor that the Bavli knew it."

Schäfer, Peter (2002). Mirror of His Beauty: Feminine Images of God from the Bible to the Early Kabbalah. Princeton University Press. pp. 211f. ISBN 0-691-09068-8.

Agobard of Lyons, De Iudaicis Superstitionibus, cited in Van Voorst, op. cit. [Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. WmB Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 122 ff. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9.]

Schonfield, Hugh J., According to the Hebrews (1937, London: Duckworth) pages 29-30.

See Klausner, Joseph, Jesus of Nazareth: His life, times, and teaching (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1925), page 53 note.

vendredi 27 octobre 2017

The Gospel Truth, William P. Lazarus, part 2

The Gospel Truth, by William P. Lazarus : part 1 · part 2 · part 3
William Paul Lazarus reacted to: part 1

"In other words, Peter Parker is a hack who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a newsroom, much less receive the industry's highest possible award."

Read More: Peter Parker is a terrible journalist
List item 1 on / Things about Spider-Man comics you only notice as an adult (Looper)

This is a bit reminding of the journalism of William P. Lazarus. At times.

For one, can he really honestly miss that Reimarus could quite as easily be a pseudepigraphon by Lessing as any Gospel really by a hypothetic non-Mark, non-Luke etc?

But Reimarus' main contribution to theological science was his analysis of the historical Jesus, Apologie oder Schutzschrift für die vernünftigen Verehrer Gottes ("An apology for, or some words in defense of, reasoning worshipers of God" — only read by a few intimate friends during his lifetime), which he left unpublished. After Reimarus' death, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing published parts of this work as "Fragments by an Anonymous Writer" in his Zur Geschichte und Literatur in 1774-1778, giving rise to what is known as the Fragmentenstreit.[4] This had a deep impact as the beginning of critical research of the historical Jesus Reimarus pointed out the differences between what Jesus said and what the apostles said, identifying Jesus as a Jewish preacher. Jesus, according to this view, was an apocalyptic prophet preaching about a worldly kingdom soon to come. This view is current in modern scholarship. Reimarus also considered Christianity to be a fabrication. The disciples, he said, stole Jesus’ body to fake his resurrection and found a new religion. This explanation is now considered erroneous, as first demonstrated by another great critic in Jesus scholarship, D. F. Strauss.

WPL says so, as well, and misses the implication. Papias and Irenaeus are at least not claiming to themselves have discovered any hitherto un-published four Gospels. As far as anyone can tell, they were very fine thanks with Gospels coming from the named authors well before they said so, and knowedly to everyone concerned so.

When X claims to publish a hitherto unpublished piece of writing, precisely as when Y claims to open up a hitherto even more esoteric society to interested initiates, they are in a position to make and even fake the product, as much as Joseph Smith to fake gold plates, or fake Nephitic content of non-extant gold-plates or even fake translation of non-extant Nephitic content.

Especially as Lessing on his part is extremely well known adherent of another tenet of Deism, as examplified by his "ring parable", as examplified by Nathan the Wise, in which you find it, namely of making "three Abrahamic religions" (roughly) equivalent (with tacit preference for Judaism) and therefore any specific content of any of the three diverse from others very moot. In other words, had he wanted to fake Reimarus, he had a motive as well as an opportunity.

Now, WPL is, all through several chapters, arguing that whoever wrote the Gospels were people who had both motive (namely to give the sect some content of doctrinal type, thitherto inadequate) and opportunity. The scenario is this:

The early Church of Jerusalem got quite lost. It was eradicated when the Romans came. Therefore, the one faction of several which could have been a corrective, could have given some real tradition from Christ, is as lost as original openly existing order of Templars and men like Jacques Molay were when Scottish Rite Freemasons claimed to represent the Templars.

To be fair, I can buy that Templars did contribute to Speculative freemasonry after infiltrating the operative lodges, just as I can buy that Reimarus actually wrote things which Lessing then published. I don't like any of these, so I can consider them as morally equivalent in badness. Therefore possibly identic in fact. But the point is, with Freemasons impersonating "survived Templar order" or with Lessing finding an unpublished manuscript of Reimarus, we have a historically known, attested in narrative, certain opportunity and at least with reference to Templars a nostalgic motive.

What WPL is saying about the lost Church of Jerusalem is the equivalent of all this, BUT without any historic evidence for it, either implied or presented.

Yes, the Church in Jerusalem was in Jerusalem before AD 70. Yes, Jerusalem was destroyed and those found in it were mostly butchered in year 70. That part is historically correct. What is not correct is to imagine that the Church in Jerusalem remained to be butchered. Heeding the prophecies (yes, the traditional scenario does say they had been made by Christ beforehand), they left Jerusalem in time. What is more, they fled to Pella, in a region which to Isaiah would have been known as "Edom, Moab and Ammon", now Jordan. This means, they were perhaps less consultable for a time, but they survived. They could be consulted again. What is more, they started the Christian Church in Edom, Moab and Ammon, meaning these tribes (with some admixtion of later arrivals) were Christians, under the leadership incoming (invading if you like) from Jerusalem.

WPL also imagines that "the Christian Church" was such a chaos of competing factions that one could not know how close or not close any other Church in any other city was to that in Jerusalem. Like, the Church in Jerusalem never thought of any mission outside Jerusalem, no ... well, Samaria, of course (Acts 8), meaning that there was a Christian population in Judea and Samariah as well as in Galilaea, recruited from Samarian as well as from Jewish religions. And when St James became bishop of Jerusalem, it was because St Peter left to Antioch, from where he later went to Rome.

In other words, the first Church in Jerusalem had not only survived, but also disseminated before having to leave the place for some time.

Wait, there is a little pattern here. Isaiah 11 first says sth midway about "His sepulchre shall be glorious" and then continues to tell us what the Messiah will accomplish (apparently post mortem) after being laid in a sepulchre which was glorious (or became so by the Resurrection). Re-Union of Judah and Israel (Judah and Ephraim, to be precise)? Check, first Church in Jerusalem, second in Samariah. Conquest of Edom, Moab and Ammon? Check, when Church of Jerusalem fled to Pella, they converted these peoples to Christianity.

How do we know these things happened?

They are in Acts. Acts was accepted as a valid self account by the Church. It was an officially approved account. That is what a canonic book of the NT means : officially approved, from start, by the officials of the Church. So, in the last resort, I know this because of the tradition of the Catholic Church.

What does WPL or any late offshot of Lessing-Reimarus type of scholarship against this?

  • Self accounts of communities seen with undue suspicion (unless of modern Western state type) - an ironic reference on whether the Catholic accepts Rome was founded by Romulus (we do, St Augustine considered he was made a god by his followers because they loved him), whether we agree the Spartan dynasty has ruled in Sparta since grandsons of Hercules (we do, another Church Father said "Hercules was a strong man, not a god"), whether we accept Yngling dynasty started with Odin and his stepson Frey (Snorri did and I do, with some hesitation, since Saxo considered immediate Swedish successors to Odin were non-Ynglings - but that could have been another region); WPL seems to take this suspicion (again, except to modern Western state type of community) so for granted, he does not even say so, in the chapters I have so far read - but he implies it in also not believing self account of Israelites previous to King David;
  • The fact Jerusalem was destroyed - but rather than say our explanations why the doctrine from original Church survived is wrong and tell us why, he simply ignores it exists : either he is not aware or does not think it is worth mentioning, in the chapters I have so far read;
  • The fact there were sects rival to "what became" Catholic Christianity (or orthodox, if you prefer) - presented as splinters on an equal footing with each other and with the Church. The funny part is, he claims to know about these sects because of the Church Fathers denouncing it, but he is deaf to what they (notably St Irenaeus and St Ignatius) have to say on continuity of the Church - this he does mention;
  • Silence about the relevant facts of our claim in such and such writers which, according to him, would have been very well equipped to and motivated to mention the facts if they had been true - on his estimation. This also he does mention.

Now, let's deal first with what he does mention, since he thought that most important.

He or Carrier or, I suppose, the late Marcus Borg, would argue or would have argued:

  • We know that Ebionites, Gnostics, Marcionites and a few more existed, since Church Fathers spent so much time arguing against them;
  • We know of the canon of Marcion before we know of any Christian canon;
  • Therefore we are free to imagine, once Jesus had died, all these groups came from him, and some from Paul, and the one coming from Paul managed to subsume the others and absorb them by gradual doctrinal compromse till Christianity as we know it had emerged.

I would on the other hand argue:

  • We know several groups existed because the Church Fathers spent so much time arguing against them, but from the same source we also know, the heretical groups did not remain the same. By the time when Montanists "emerged", i e were clustering around the charismatic figure Montanus, an anti-Pope, probably Ebionites were already gone, either taking Judaism or taking Christianity without Jewish rites, as the Temple fell, and we see no trace of Ebionites rejecting John (which was written by the Apostle against them) but keeping Synoptics (which they were abusing) - in other words, the Catholic Church has been a constant since Christ, and sects, but no one sect, have been constantly rivalling it (no one sect except Judaism, that is);
  • While Marcion's canon is older than Muratorian fragment, we can well imagine that each book finally making it into NT had at least a good backing from many Churches, it is at least certain they are very different from Marcion's canon;
  • We must conclude, the rival groups were not of an equal type, but later derived imitations and split-offs - precisely as Utah and Texas and California free states and Confederation never were exactly the same as United States.

The point is not that WPL is arguing forcefully against this, the point is, he is ignoring it - even while most of what I said is there in the source material (Church Fathers) from whom they claim to derive it.

Next, silence. Or conspicuous silence.

  • Josephus is silent on Nazareth;
  • Very Early Church Fathers (St Clement I of Rome, St Ignatius of Antioch) don't quote the Gospels;
  • Paul ("our earliest preserved Christian writer" - since he denies Matthaean origin of Matthew) is silent on this and that and sundry, including Jesus having a real body and really walking among us.

Here my answers would be:

  • Josephus was arguably, as already conjectured, refraining from mentioning the Church;
  • Does WPL have ANY idea of how short the combined text of Sts Clement and Ignatius would be? I checked : 32 p. on a printout, 39 p. on a "libre office writer" document, 29 037 words. I came to 13 717 words on 19 chapters of Genesis - and considering the prolix rhetorical epistle style of the episples, "I have become acquainted with your name, much-beloved in God" is less than first of thirteen lines of captatio benevolentiae, which does quote St Paul's Epistle to same Ephesians, btw, considering this, the 13 717 words might be roughly equivalent - also, OT is cited in Clement;
  • St Paul clearly does mention a bodily resurrection in more than one place.*

Another favourite of WPL is silence or absence or inaccessibility of "official records". This means those of the Maccabaean-Jewish authorities as well as those of the Romans.

The word official actually means "on duty". Officium means duty. A judge who writes a letter to his wife is writing off-duty, not officially as to his capacity as judge, but a judge writing a verdict is writing officially, on-duty, as to his capacity as a judge. Obviously, the verdict is equally unofficial and off-duty in his relation to his wife and his letter to his wife is equally official, on-duty, in his capacity as a husband. There is no specific thing about being a judge which makes a man more truthful and reliable in it than in his duties to his wife. A man may be cheating, and therefore lying to his wife. A judge may be corrupt, for money or to suppress opponents, and therefore lie in his verdicts. A wife may be tolerant of inattention and confusion in his letters, but a well reputed judge will often not be challenged as to inattention and confusion in his verdicts.

However, modern historiography arose very lately, in what was then technically Prussia : the kingdom of the Brandenburg dynasty.** Just a bit before it became II Reich. Judges and other administration in Prussia were proud of not being corrupt. Prussian prejudice was for religious tolerance, and therefore against reliance on religious documents. Therefore, logically, the historiography born in Prussia will set more value on official documents of state administration (unless the state is too obviously unlike Prussia, like Iroquois federation for having oral records and not keeping up administration, or Spanish one in admitting miracles and Catholic dogma), than on religious officials.

I do not advise WPL to stay with this ideology, it can't be replicated successfully when arguing for the Holocaust and deaths in gas chambers. I don't know any person whose death in a gas chamber was officially recorded as such by the administration of camps, arising in the Prussian tradition. A code 6, Sonderbehandlung, was officially recorded, it is now thought to mean "death by gas chamber", but that is not what the official documents directly say. If we have any reasonable knowledge of anyone actually dying in a gas chamber and not in any other way nor surviving, it is from the kind of factors this type of historiography deems hopelessly inadequate : personal memory, collective memory of a community with victim status. There is one official document from Israel, from a court, in which 50 people swear on oath having seen and survived seeing gassings. There are obviously official documents from Nuremberg trials implying this was done, by investigating who was most culpable for it. Again, these are not official documents from the administration in place when this was - at least supposedly - happening.

You consider it proven gas chambers were used to kill people, I might (perhaps risking prison or mental hospital for saying so, perhaps something else***) disagree. I do NOT disagree that this or that or sundry survivor was badly treated. Like Marcel Cling. Or that at least one person is known to have been going into a gas chamber, but getting out of it alive, namely Jo Wajsblat. I do not disagree, because I do consider personal testimony of Marcel Cling and Jo Wajsblat as proof, even while it is not in the Prussian sense an official document. So, you want to prove camp guards were (often enough to hurt) the extreme brutal equivalent of school yard bullies, you also do not wish to stay with this ideology of historiography.

So, you might want to reassess your criteria for historic reliability a bit.

If you do, one of the things you will notice is that apologias are sometimes private ventures (as in Justin Martyr), sometimes more like official responses (when by men like Origen writing Against Celsus on demand). Either way, them not being state administration type of official does not mean that they can't be used as historic proof.

The real answer to the challenge given in this type of argument, over more than one chapter, is that the Catholic Tradition on Church history is reliable self record of a community. The fact that Gnostics and Marcionites are not giving their version in it is irrelevant (except to a hopelessly Prussian mind). If we had had the self record of these sects, we would not see them going straight back to all of the apostles. Cerinthus would have needed some kind of excuse for the real disciple of Our Lord, St John, shunning him to the point of very quickly leaving a bath where he was entering, and explaining the gesture by saying a house where Cerinthus enters is more at risk than other houses of fallin victim to the wrath of God. We don't have the Church history of Cerinthus' Church. It might be interesting, but I don't think we need it to assess that of the Catholic Church as correct.

Now, I said I have read several chapters after that first on which I made, there was more in them than just this. This time, I am not going chapter by chapter, but taking certain thematics across chapters. Next thematic will be a few obvious blunders in WPL's work, after that I will go to a few real difficulties (I will admit the archaeological difficulty on Nazareth is one I have no full solution to - except the general one, not everything is preserved in archaeology).

The silence of Josephus, on the other hand, I have no problem in explaining.

  • 1) It could be a "wait and see" type of silence, as I suggested previously;
  • 2) it could also be that apart from briefly mentioning Christ Jesus among the portents and calamities in the days of Pilate, Josephus thought the Christian Church outside his scope, because, unlike what WPL contents, it was already markedly something different from Judaism.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Vigil of Sts Simon and Jude°


* I enumerated quotes from Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians and Philippians in this earlier response:

Twelve Pieces of a Doherty Puzzle (it's Too Early to Dismiss Historicity)

** I presume the Weibull school of Sweden is somewhat later.

*** I seem to have been pretty clearly silenced as far as others recognising me as a writer is concerned, in their writings. For instance.

° Yesterday, it was St Evaristus, a Pope of Rome who was martyred under Emperor Hadrian.

mercredi 25 octobre 2017

The Gospel Truth, by William P. Lazarus, part 1

The Gospel Truth, by William P. Lazarus : part 1 · part 2 · part 3
William Paul Lazarus reacted to: part 1

The author after a brief intro on his personal history sets himself to the task of exploring what sources where available to St Mark when he wrote after AD 70.

That St Mark could have taken down dictation from St Peter, who was reading alternatively from Gospels of Matthew and Luke (skipping some and adding some from own memories), as Clement the Stromatist tells us, seems not even worth a mention. That this happened before St Peter was killed in Rome under Nero, therefore well before AD 70, seems totally foreign to William P. Lazarus. That Sts Matthew and Luke could have been on one hand recalling correctly (Matthew being trained as a scribe before being one of the twelve disciples, like any other Levite) could perhaps be considered as a myth by William P. Lazarus, though he does not tell us on what grounds he dismisses historicity thereof.

In other words, WPL, as I will abbreviate him, is giving a scenario which I consider as free fantasy novel. So far, my resumé of chapter 1.

Now, WPL is unlike his "Mark" (the one who set out to write down what wasn't written down until it was too late) known as to his source, the myth is set up by modern scholars. WPL is trying to fill in the details.

He does mention Tacitus as getting his information from Christians. However, Tacitus writes about Christians martyred under Nero. He was himelf 8 years old when this happened. He is for this period citing historians the full texts of which are lost to us. WPL argues, Tacitus could have heard the details from Christians well after "Mark wrote after AD 70". I argue, the historians in question could have heard these from Christians at the time when Nero was persecuting these, they could be lost to us, because too close to the Christians.

This means, Tacitus' words are presumably proof not just of what Christians believed in his time of writing, but of what they had believed in the times of Nero. I note, there is a doubt on this, Tacitus could have had the information when writing Annals, and this could, with a much more remote possibility, have been something other than back then - a possibility so remote as to be practically unbelievable, we'll get back to that later.

Then WPL goes to some length in dealing with Josephus.

His proof for Testimonium Flavianum not being genuine is (citing verbatim from page 9):

Unfortunately, prior to that time [of Eusebius, who mentioned TF], at least 16 church fathers [sic!] are known to have commented on Josephus without mention of this paragraph. If it had existed, they would not have overlooked it or complained, as they did, that Josephus overlooked Jesus.

Now, we have a problem. WPL gives no footnote. I cannot check which 16 Church Fathers* [!] WPL means, nor how many of them were commenting on the Jewish War rather than on Antiquities, nor how many complain of him overlooking Jesus and in what terms.

I know Richard Carrier mentions Origen or Clement or both in this context. That is 1 or 2. One of them could be depending on the other who could have had a faulty manuscript or done a sloppy reading - or the complaint was not meant as "overlooking" in the sense of not mentioning, but a lament that Josephus had not acknowledged Him as the Messiah.

Speaking of Messianic claims, WPL very freely swings around with Jesus not being politically a Messiah equating with Jesus not being the Messiah tout court. I get details of two failed Messiah's. WPL thinks it significant Josephus mentions them, but not Jesus. So do I : recall the test of Gamaliel in Acts?

Acts 5 : 34 But one in the council rising up, a Pharisee, by name Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, respected by all the people, commanded the men to be put forth a little while.

35 And he said to them; Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves, what you are about to do with these men.

36 For before these days rose up Theodas, affirming himself to be some body, whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined; who was slain: and all who believed him, were dispersed, and brought to nothing.

37 After this man rose up Judas, of Galilee, in the days of the enrolling, and drew away the people after him: he also perished: and all who adhered to him, were dispersed.

38 And now, therefore, I say to you, refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel, or this work be of men, it will come to nothing:

39 But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God. And they agreed with him.

The reason why Josephus gives no longer account than the TF could be that Christianity in his eyes, according to this criterium, was not yet tested. He was not satisfied it was of God (for whatever pilpul reason), but also satisfied it had not gone down the sink like Theodas. It seems Theodas mentioned by Gamaliel in Acts and the Theudas mentioned by Josephus could be the same person (WPL expressly says he is mentioned by both Josephus and Bible), however, here is an account:

Theudas died in about 45 A.D. Apparently, he was trying to recreate the Exodus, possibly by crossing the Jordan River. The Judean procurator of the time, Fadus, promptly sent troops who massacred them. Theudas' head was then displayed in Jerusalem (Ant:20.5,1, ver. 97-98) [my emphases]

As far as I can see, we have a problem. The apprehension which is shown in Acts 5 is in AD 33. This means, Gamaliel cannot have heard of anything in AD 45 yet. The Theodas he is talking about must be way earlier. There are diverse possibilities:

  • the Bible account could be anachronostic (which as a Christian I will not accept);
  • Josephus could have been misquoted, but was not (I just checked);
  • Theudas in Josephus and Theodas in Acts could be different persons;
  • they could be same person, but Gamaliel looking back to a previous, less dramatic event;
  • Josephus could have been heir to a deliberately anachronostic tradition, misplacing Theodas from times of Pilate or before to times of Fadus;

... this last could have been made in order to discredit Acts as anachronistic. It could also be, Fadus committed another massacre in which Christian Jews were victims, and the démise of Theodas could have been attached to the story so as to remain patriotic while at the same time not attaching memories of loved ones to THAT sect, the one of Theodas being of course less objectionable. But either way, considering that Josephus' silence (relatively) on Jesus and open reference to full story of sect of Theodas (vanishing when his head is displayed in Jerusalem), proves Josephus knew very few facts about Christians because there were very few to know in the first place is totally moot.

Josephus could exactly just as well have kept quiet because he was not yet sure of what to say in the last resort, the story of Christianity not having been over yet in his time, nor is it over in ours.

Before I end, I cannot really take seriously how William P. Lazarus claims basically that inconsistencies between Gospels prove at least some of them are not historic and therefore probably none of them. On page 1 he refers to his daddy teaching in Sunday school and getting a Bible. On page 193, we learn he grew up in a Jewish family. I mean, why would Jews give their sons a whole Bible including New Testament? And why would a Jewish person teaching children religion be referred to as teaching in Sunday School? Wouldn't it be Sabbath school? Oh, of course, later editors have tried to harmonise this by on p. 193 adding the totally spurious reference "by age 13, he was teaching Sunday School at a Conservative synagogue" implying that Jews in his time had taken over the Evangelical vocaublary of "Sunday School" and equally, on page 1, the same very fraudulent editor tried to hide WPL's father being Evangelical by adding a passage about "the 'Old' Testament or the Jewish Bible; and the 'New Testament' or the Christian Bible" - but that is obviously a very clear smokescreen to obfuscate a screamingly clear contradiction between the sources of this compilation ... unless of course, the harmonisation happens to be the exact truth, in which case William P. Lazarus could have some humility about attempted and sometimes perhaps successful harmonisations between the Gospel accounts as well!

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Sts Chrysantus and his
wife, Daria, martyrs

* Church Father, like Blessed, Doctor of the Church, Venerable, is a title for a deceased person, only the last one can be used for living ones. Titles are capitalised.

jeudi 12 octobre 2017

Should Jimmy Akin Review His View on History?

Should Jimmy Akin Review His View on History? · Sipapuni Origin Myths

I think he should, if he wants to stay (or become) Catholic:

Did the Exodus Happen?
by Jimmy Akin

General intro is good and conclusion as summarised by Mark Shea is good, but look at this:

If accounts of the Exodus were circulating in Israel by 850 B.C. and if the event itself would have taken place around 1250 B.C., that’s only a gap of 400 years.

Four centuries is not a long time when it comes to national origin stories.

Even in purely oral (illiterate) societies that depend entirely on tradition for knowledge of the past, collective memory can preserve the core facts regarding where a people came from for that length of time.

Here is why this is problematic:

  • 1) It is the same amount of time as between Trojan War and Homer (in fact, it is the same time as these, the modern scholarship Akin is copying onto his post is probably copying as in plagarising traditional distance between Iliad's Content and Iliad, Odyssey's content and Odyssey.
  • 2) It is a time which sufficed to not only forget how chariots were used in battle, perhaps that Linear B was not used in letters carried by messengers as far as we know (the semata lygra carried by Bellerophon), but also to obfuscate existence of Hittites, Hattusha beyon abandoned about one of the times which could fit traditional destruction of Troy.
  • 3) It is a time in which according to much modern scholarship the Odyssey was made up from basically nothing at all - except geography of Ithaca, either Santa Mavra or Thiaki or a blend of the two ("Athena's" words to Odysseus suggest Santa Mavra insofar as with a ditch separating it from mainland, it is difficult to classify it as either island or cape, but some geography on Thiaki is shown as fitting Odyssey).

My own take about Homer is this : the tradition forgot technical detail, the Bellerophon story could be made up (I have some trouble digesting a historic counterpart to Fledge), several exploit stories were preserved by aristocrats of ancestral names, but transferred from, for instance, Battle of Kadesh, since Hittites were to be forgotten, above all, Hittites were forgotten on purpose. The Iliad is given without its political context, only personal stories (which may be genuine) are given, it is as if you made an epic about Stalingrad in which Duke Adolf and Duke Joseph (yes, Vozhd, like Duce and Führer means leader) were sending their men to fight each other, but Communism and National Socialism were not mentioned at all, and exploits which had taken place in Spanish War were transferred, because of a similar refusal to recall how Communism was involved in International Brigades. Yes, one could attach "International Brigades" as one of Duke Joseph's helpers at Stalingrad ... and Homer came along to codify it at a time when the voluntary forgetfulness about 'Ittites and their tax collecting Hethos made it possible for him to tell solely what tradition had brought him - bona fide.

He was also descended from Ulysses, Penelope and Telemach, which accounts for his knowledge in personal detail of that story, fairly unfaked, except for how much witches and warlocks and makeup artists are passed off as "Athena" and possibly also except for what really happened between Ulysses crew and his arrival at Phaeacians, sth he could have faked himself (he is not known for total truthfulness, and one part of the story involves him saying himself he had lied to the Cyclops).

As composition was oral, his blindness was no handicap, and even an asset as giving him time for oral composition : he first made Odyssey, where he was well documented, then Iliad, where he had to piece things together, and he involved false theology in the explanations (Athena and Zeus are holding a conference on Olympus which as Christians we know never took place in that form). He also involved true memories, including of demonic activity and of guardian angels admonishing through dreams : Apollo in Iliad A is arguably Apollyon, and Hermes coming to Aegistus (see Conference on Olympus, Odyssey α, was probably his guardian angel.

In other words, the 400 years served to forget what one wanted to forget and fix inconsistencies arising therefrom as best they could.

But ordinary scholarship as it is today considers, mainly, nearly all of Odyssey and much of Iliad (including fair Helen and therefore personal motive) is mythical. That is the kind of guys who won't allow Exodus to be in traditionally 1510 BC (Roman Martyrology for December 25!) or even before (Syncellus and Byzantine martyrology).

As for stories of a people being autochthonous, I take the Theban story as exceptionally close to actual origins. The devil obviously can't make people from dragon teeth, and God won't. Similarily, the devil can't even transform a human body into an animal one : but he can make it seem to others and to the person him or herself it happened through this or that visible magician or theophany or magic. In some cases, he could perhaps even cause a very severe amnesia. He can also, and even fairly quickly, transport human bodies.

So, Theban story could basically be as correct a memory as possible, considering how sinful men had had their free access to memories tampered with by a devil also staging a scenario of each fighting a non-extant double (demons acting) and all coming from dragon teeth.

Egyptian story of autochthony, well, I take it that like Indian one, it is a cutting off of inconvenient history. In the Egyptian case, Egypt arising after Babel, and Pharaos' direct ancestry perhaps even taking some stay in Stonehenge and Newgrange before getting beaten by Miledians and remaining in a memory like "people of Dana" while being exiled ... well, one can imagine how they would excise Flood, Babel and their Irish misadventure from memory, and go directly back to a remake of Genesis 2, one in which, like in Sumer, the human race were created as a collective. This could already have been part of what Nimrod preached as errors, though in his day the Flood was not forgotten.

Indian one, as they have a kind of Adam like story, I take it they were after Babel more anti-Nimrodian than Nimrodian (also, they have no Marduk-defeats-monster as prequel of creation of Earth), so, they would be attaching pre-Flood memories, Mahabharata style, to their own post-Flood situation, excising both Flood and Babel and obviously Nimrod's tyranny at Babel. Inconveniently, they did want to recall their post-Flood arrival in India too, in Ramayana (Rama is a son of Kush and a brother of Nimrod, and Hanuman could be Nimrod in his youth, as Josephus recalls him as not yet evil, but protective of his brothers). Solution : transfer Ramayana material back to even earlier than Mahabharata material. But the probably Cainite pre-Flood man of renown recalled as Krishna (probably a relative of the Biblical Kush : both names mean swarty, and if Krishna was called swarty before Babel and Flood, it was in Hebrew, not sanscrit, so Cham's son is probably named after Krishna).

And the hero Bharat, eponym for India, is probably a mix of both Henochs : the Cainite city builder (or city name giver) and the Sethite just man beloved by God.

I do not know the exact reason why Zuni and Hopi claim autochthony. But it is such a bland cop out in general, that this is not a reason against more detailed origin stories.

The detail of Sipapuni probably shows some historical moment, probably with more distortion than I credit Theban story with, but lots less than modern scholarship credits it with.

If Jimmy Akin wants to side with Exodus historicity, as I think he should, I think he should start defending Iliad and Odyssey too, about on my lines.

Which means, obviously, relying less on modern scholarship.

Japan can very well have been "created" by angels and demons or one of them allowed by God to play around with volcanic eruptions. Jimmu can very well descend from, not indeed a goddess of the Sun (any more than our very useful Mister Brother Sun was grudging Ulysses' men the feast on beef), but a priestess of such a goddess, like Aeneas cannot be son of a literal love deity, but very well of a priestess of such a one : Puduhepa was priestess of both, before being Hittite queen, and Hittites seem to have agreed on auto-oblivion, if the story about abanding Hattusha, given in "Dark Lords of Hattusha" is the real cause of démise of that empire. This means that descending from Puduhepa would have needed to be reformulated - precisely as for very different theological difficulties, Greeks could not stomach the literal account of three angels visiting Abraham, promising him and his long infertile wife a mircaulous old age fertility, two of them saving Lot from both Sodomites and their destruction : so Abraham and Lot became Deucalion, twisting details of Noah's story to fit in more Biblical facts with less Biblical truth, and similarily, a Hittite priestess of love and sun became first ritually involved in sex and pregnancy on behalf of her goddess (she identified them), then branches of her family were forgetting all about the Hittite part and recalling only one of the goddesses, and the present Tenno is a cousin several removed of Julius Caesar.

In other words, Japanese origin history, apart from Pagan notions confusing what truth was known by Genesis 11, and "three first kamis" perhaps borrowed from very early Christians speaking of the Trinity (would not be last time Japs forgot about having been nearly Catholic, would it!) coming in not as creating but as procreating persons, is very close to actual origins of their imperial family and their islands.

But Zuni and Hopi, I'll have to check.

Exodus not only happened as written, but was also written by Moses. However, Moses also wrote Genesis, to which he was more of a Homer than of a Julius Caesar writing Bellum Gallicum in third person. This means a Catholic who, with Church Fathers and Trent, wants to believe literal truth of Genesis, could have at least potentially an interest in upgrading other stories long transmitted orally.

This is why he should ditch modern scholarship, ditch its pretence tradition by itself tends to distortion. Modern historiography would come with men like Humboldt in Prussia and Weibull in Sweden, in a Protestant culture - the kind of men who can't believe St George even lived, let alone St Christopher.

Oral tradition, when organised, gives little room for distortion, except misunderstanding or non-understanding of outmoded detail, and when it distorts it does so for a reason. If ever a Stalingrad Epic without National Socialism or Communism is written, it will be because one decided to forget about Communism and its Ethos. Or possibly Hethos. If Ulysses meeting the cyclops is fake, he was the one with best motives to change the story - not the tradition after him.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Sts Evagrius, Priscian and Companions, Martyrs

I recall posting a link in a comment under Akin's post just after writing this own post. The comments have to be validated, and I don't see my comment with the link under it right now (St Ursula's day, 21.X.2017). Did he forget comment validation, or was he eager to hide having been contradicted by me?/HGL

vendredi 29 septembre 2017

History is Tradition

Folklore and legend are species of history. Folklore is history transmitted by amateurs rather than by official or professional or quasiprofessional tradition bearers. Legend is history with a ring to it. Neither folklore nor legend need be historically non-factual. Historiography as written by the modern academic discipline can be factually inaccurate too.

Here is an Atheist who considers the usual cant about "folklore" and "legend" a succient argument to argue against historicity of for instance Gospels.

Dr Johnson: Legend, Myth, and More
August 1, 2012 by Bob Seidensticker

We’ll begin with the big category, folklore. This is the traditional knowledge or forms of expression of a culture passed on from person to person. Folklore can be material (quilts, traditional costumes, recipes, the hex signs on Amish barns, etc.), behavioral (customs such as throwing rice at a wedding, what constitutes good manners, superstitions, etc.), or traditional stories.

Traditional stories is itself a large category, containing music, anecdotes, ghost stories, parables, popular misconceptions, and other things you might not think of.

Now on to the kinds of traditional stories that are most interesting to apologetics. These terms can overlap quite a bit, so consider these definitions approximations. First, let’s consider stories seen as true (or plausibly so) by their hearers.

  • Legends are grounded in history and can change over time. They can include miracles. Urban legends are a modern category of legends that don’t include miracles, are set in or near the present day, and take the form of a cautionary tale.
  • Myths are sacred narratives that explain some aspect of reality (for example: the myth of Prometheus explains why we have fire and the Genesis creation myth explains where everything came from). Epic poems such as Beowulf and the Odyssey are one kind of myth.

The difference between legends and myths is that a legend is set in a more recent time and generally features human characters, while myths are set in the distant past and have supernatural characters. Some stories are mixtures of the two—the Iliad tells the story of a real city, and the characters include gods, humans with supernatural powers, and ordinary humans.

Here is first a Christian commenter and then author commenting back and then my own take, I'll give the last in full, but quote only the parts of the other two that fit above and what I have to say about it.

Rick Townsend
5 years ago
Seems to me you left out a category—accurate history. Why don't you give us a definition for that, as well as examples from the period before, Oh, say, 35 AD. Give us the data you used to determine it was accurate as well, please. Unless of course you think it was all myth and legend before YouTube, CNN and Wikipedia. ....

Bob Seidensticker
-> Rick Townsend
5 years ago
... My focus was folklore and some of its many categories, not history. My examples of history before 35CE would, obviously, be the same as yours--the record of Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and so on. ...

Hans-Georg Lundahl
- > Bob Seidensticker
an hour ago
Actually, you seem to share a presupposition which does not follow from premises in definitions.

That accurate history is something OTHER than traditional stories.

I would say it often may involve more diverse traditions telling the same story, but that is not a prerequisite for its factual accuracy.

Also, historiography of the modern type claiming to be accurate is obviously open to deformation too. How many Communist and pro-Communist historians mention the Bleiburg massacre at end of WW-II?

Also, a historiographer usually gives an interpretation of his material. An atheist historiographer will give an atheist interpretation, i e things like claiming the Angels of Mons were no actual angels, but "collective hallucinations" (apart from hypnosis at stage unknown outside atheist historiography).

Iliad and Odyssey to my mind are history. Homer left out the Hittites. Homer interpreted by inserting scenes with gods on mount Olympus. But he need not have included any or very many events that are totally misrepresented or even invented. Men turning to pigs is impossible, but a witch making it seem as if is not impossible (if a hypnotist can induce a collective hallucination, so can a witch). Penelope [and Ulysses] actually getting [older and] younger is impossible, but feeling and looking so is not impossible.

Fighting chariots are described in terms of individual exploits, not in terms of battles where teams of three took turns, horses also taking turns, as it probably was historically. Some exploits can have been transferrred from other wars, notably Kadesh battle between Egyptians and Hittites, from which some nobility would descend, but no one wanted to mention Hittites (like Commies don't want to mention Bleiburg).

So, Homer is more slightly falsified history than a really other kind of narrative than history.

Homer is, in terms of generations, if not years, as close to Iliad's and Odyssey's actual events as Moses is to certain earlier events of Genesis, the early 11 chapters. Homer is in terms of years as close to them as Moses is to sometime in the main and late events in the latter 39 chapters of Genesis. Though Moses was from a line of people living to old, so the minimal generation overlap has arguably fewer steps than with Homer.

Gregory of Tours was as close to Clovis - and as far as I know, we don't have much better and more contemporary sources for him, if he's mentioned by contemporary Byzantines, it is more briefly.

I will here answer another point which Seidenstecker makes. He said:

Why not the miracles of Jesus of Nazareth? Obviously, those wouldn't make my list of historical events because they're all rejected by the historical consensus.

What he means by "the historical consensus" is problematic. It arguably means "consensus of Academic historians today, as extant since 19th C. Germany".

But in order to be of a significant value in determining this, it ought to mean "consensus of historians back then, consensus of narrative sources from back then". It does not.

Tacitus and Josephus do not reject the miracles of Christ. They don't accept the miracles of Christ very clearly or at all either. They don't go into detail. Josephus' "paradox actions" could include miracles, but could also involve simply things like dring out merchants from temple or taking disciples from among fishermen and one converted sinner, which would not be the prime choice of a rabbi.

Toledoth Jeschu* in my view seems to conflate Our Lord with an earlier man, who really was just a magician, and founded a sect which really was idolatrous, namely Odin : but the charge of magic is not a rejection of miracles as things which never happened, it is an attempt at non-divine explanation for events at the time taken as miraculous - both in cases like Odin, where the thing really was just magic, appearing and disappearing before poor Gylfe up to a hundred years before Christ's work, and in cases like Jesus working real divine miracles.

No historian is actually saying, as historian** "Jesus never worked miracles, but somehow his disciples believed he did or claimed he did" - as far as narrative historians back then are concerned.

No historian is actually the direct opposite of "consensus of historians".

As to the consensus of modern historiography, like the consensus on Marcan priority among Bible scholars, it has more to do with Prussian dominance over Academia than with sound logic. And Prussia, as known, had already received Voltaire before developing either modern historiography or Marcan priority.

Now, back to the point : all history is tradition. It is not always tradition on as amateur a level of transmission as folklore. It is not always tradition as far removed from events when written down as Homer or Gregory of Tours. But it is always tradition and any writing down of it, whether disappearing before our time or preserved to us, is equally a part of the process called tradition.

When it is not tradition, it is reconstruction - usually termed conjecture - replacing either tradition completely lacking on a point or contradicting tradition on a point. And reconstruction has a weaker probability of being the truth than any tradition, unless it is one rejected for very solid reasons - among which I would obviously neither place the fad in reducing tradition to folklore, nor the atheist fad of presuming a tradition must on any point be non-factual just because it is miraculous.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St Michael's Mass

* Or alternative transscription : Toledot Yeshu. ** I have not checked what Celsus is saying, but he is not describing Christians as a historian, he is arguing against them as a polemicist.

jeudi 10 août 2017

Francesca Stavrakopoulou on Moses ...

Kevin Wesley
27 juillet, 03:42

"Are you ready to listen yet? You ask for scholarship? Here it is!"

Because she is head of theology at University of Exeter?

She says Moses didn't exist. She says there is no evidence for it.

Hebrews (later divided into Christians and Jews) claim Moses was the founder of the Covenant of Sinai, its human mediator between God and His people and the one writing down their constitution and major or even exclusive legislation (except perhaps parts being case law).

U. S. Americans claim George Washington was the foremost founding father of United States of America.

What kind of evidence does she have George Washington did exist which she does not have for Moses existing?

The reporter asked her why people had such a hard time accepting a historical approach. But claiming, as she did, that Moses was invented by people with father issues, is not a historical approach, but it is a reconstructural one.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Paris, FR
St Lawrence of Rome

samedi 18 mars 2017

Carrier on Tacitus

Creation vs. Evolution : Richard Carrier Refutes Certain Evolutionists · somewhere else : Carrier on Tacitus

I am here continuing my reading (partly perhaps sloppy, but I am dealing with things that catch my eyes too much for me to misconstrue them, not with article as a whole), of Richard Carrier's article.*

Thus, that Tacitus should mention a Gospel claim about Jesus (if in fact he ever did) is already 100% expected on the existence of the Gospels, regardless of whether Jesus existed or not. That reference in Tacitus thus has no effect on our final probability of historicity. That’s how dependent probability works. And ironically, here it’s Christian apologists who typically don’t grasp the point that Fishers of Evidence is making: that the probability the extrabiblical sources would mention Jesus, even if he didn’t exist, is dependent on the Gospels having already done so (and their Christian informants subsequently relying on the Gospels, as we know they did).

That Tacitus mentioned a Gospel claim about Jesus is not 100 % expected on the existence of the Gospels.

It could be he never laid eyes on them and therefore would not mention Jesus.

Also, his having read a Gospel is not 100 % expected on his having referred to a Gospel claim, since he could have it, directly or indirectly from a Christian.

But it is if evidence he knew the Gospel claims as in Gospels at least evidence the Gospel already existed in his time, and that Christians already believed them OR it is evidence that Christians already believed the claims before the Gospels were written.

Does the evidence Tacitus brings here tie this to only his own time?

The Christians persecuted by Nero could (theoretically, from the point of view of a non-Christian enquirer) have believed something totally different, then changed their minds, then Tacitus had access to what they later believed, then projected this back to the time of Nero's persecuting Christians.

But this is where skepsis would be getting really unlikely.

For one thing, it is unlikely in the first place that a community believing in a purely spiritual Jesus without any historic or physic connection (comparable to Hindoo beliefs about Shiva or Greek about Apollo, the kind of belief Carrier thinks was that of the first Christians) would become a belief in a historical one (comparable to Hindoo beliefs in Krishna or Greek beliefs in Hercules, and yes, I think these existed as men).

But for another thing, it is also unlikely that Tacitus would do such a blunder about the Christians. He cites and therefore had access to three historians from the time of Nero, which are lost to us.

This means, Tacitus' is functioning as a wiki article for information gleaned from these three historians, and this means Tacitus would have known what Christians believed about Jesus, not in AD 90 only, but in AD 64, when Nero crucified St Peter, decapitated St Paul and used x number of other saints as torches in the dark, which, irony on irony, spiritually they actually were for pagans who saw them from the dark of their paganism.

So, Tacitus and Suetonius (both of which had access to three historians mentioned, as well as to Acta Senatus from those years) are telling us that Christians in AD 64 "already" believed Jesus had lived as a historical person.

Though Tacitus does not mention St Peter and St Paul as individual persons, their existence was believed by his contemporaries among Christian writers whose historicity is generally not put in doubt. Sts Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyons and Papias are accepted as historical and they accepted the evidence internal to the Apostolic community for the existence of Apostles, Irenaeus directly mentioning Sts Peter and Paul and I think more of them did so.

And this in turn means that Sts Peter and Paul are as well attested by Christians in the time of Tacitus, as Jesus is attested in the time of Nero by Tacitus' sources.

And St Peter was identified as having spoken with Jesus for years, as His disciple.

Presumably, this is also the story Christians in Rome could get from St Peter close to AD 64.

Either he invented the story and died a martyr's death for it, which is totally improbable, or he believed it.

If he believed it, he either made a mistake or was right about what he was dying for.

But this brings us to the Gospels' as to what circumstances he gained his impression from.

So, for example, if assessing the evidence of a murder, FoE found blood on the accused, he could rightly say “the probability that the accused is bloody, given that I observed and verified the accused is bloody” is 1 (or near enough; there is always some nonzero probability of still being in error about that, but ideally it will be so small a probability we can ignore it).

Yes, when the hypothetic policeman in whose skin Carrier puts himself observed the blood, it is probability of 1 or very close that the man actually was bloody.

And when Peter saw Jesus while on a fishing tour, after Jesus had died, it is a probability of 1 that he observed Jesus alive.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Sabbath after
II Lord's Day in Lent

* I think I forgot attrubution on the previous article, needing a coffee, so here is the attribution:

Fishers of Evidence Gets Confused about Math
by Richard Carrier on March 17, 2017

I was going to notify him by commenting under that article with a link to these two articles of mine. But I saw this:

I only publish comments by my patrons and anyone who or whose work I discuss in the article commented on. Comments must also follow good etiquette. Those who engage in dishonest, abusive, or harassing behavior may even be banned as commenters and patrons.

If my comment won't be published anyway, why not let his patrons notify him, if they are reading this?

For my own part, I am not into patreon ...

jeudi 9 mars 2017

While Acharya Sanning has died, her mistakes may live on - here is for her Pagan Parallels

If you recall her, she considered that Christ's Ascension or even Resurrection was plagairised from Krishna.

Here is what Mahabharata has to say:

The Mahabharata
Book 16: Mausala Parva
Section 4:

Begins with the words:

Vaishampayana said:

And the rest of the section is what he said, including the end:

"After his brother had thus departed from the (human) world, Vasudeva of celestial vision, who was fully acquainted with the end of all things, wandered for some time in that lonely forest thoughtfully. Endued with great energy he then sat down on the bare earth. He had thought before this of everything that had been fore-shadowed by the words uttered by Gandhari in former days. He also recollected the words that Durvasas had spoken at the time his body was smeared by that Rishi with the remnant of the Payasa he had eaten (while a guest at Krishna’s house). The high-souled one, thinking of the destruction of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas, as also of the previous slaughter of the Kurus, concluded that the hour (for his own departure from the world) had come. He then restrained his senses (in Yoga). Conversant with the truth of every topic, Vasudeva, though he was the Supreme Deity, wished to die, for dispelling all doubts and establishing a certainty of results (in the matter of human existence), simply for upholding the three worlds and for making the words of Atri’s son true. Having restrained all his senses, speech, and mind, Krishna laid himself down in high Yoga.

"A fierce hunter of the name of Jara then came there, desirous of deer. The hunter, mistaking Keshava, who was stretched on the earth in high Yoga, for a deer, pierced him at the heel with a shaft and quickly came to that spot for capturing his prey. Coming up, Jara beheld a man dressed in yellow robes, rapt in Yoga and endued with many arms. Regarding himself an offender, and filled with fear, he touched the feet of Keshava. The high-souled one comforted him and then ascended upwards, filling the entire welkin with splendour. When he reached Heaven, Vasava and the twin Ashvinis and Rudra and the Adityas and the Vasus and the Viswedevas, and Munis and Siddhas and many foremost ones among the Gandharvas, with the Apsaras, advanced to receive him. Then, O king, the illustrious Narayana of fierce energy, the Creator and Destroyer of all, that preceptor of Yoga, filling Heaven with his splendour, reached his own inconceivable region. Krishna then met the deities and (celestial) Rishis and Charanas, O king, and the foremost ones among the Gandharvas and many beautiful Apsaras and Siddhas and Saddhyas. All of them, bending in humility, worshipped him. The deities all saluted him, O monarch, and many foremost of Munis and Rishis worshipped him who was the Lord of all. The Gandharvas waited on him, hymning his praises, and Indra also joyfully praised him."

So, how do we know Krishna was received into Heaven?

Because Vaishampayana tells that story.

Was he received bodily into Heaven?

No, one of the next sections tells of his funeral:

"Thus addressed by Pritha’s son of pure deeds, all of them hastened their preparations with eagerness for achieving their safety. Arjuna passed that night in the mansion of Keshava. He was suddenly overwhelmed with great grief and stupefaction. When morning dawned, Vasudeva of great energy and prowess attained, through the aid of Yoga, to the highest goal. A loud and heart-rending sound of wailing was heard in Vasudeva’s mansion, uttered by the weeping ladies. They were seen with dishevelled hair and divested of ornaments and floral wreaths. Beating their breasts with their hands, they indulged in heart-rending lamentations. Those foremost of women, Devaki and Bhadra and Rohini and Madira threw themselves on the bodies of their lord. Then Partha caused the body of his uncle to be carried out on a costly vehicle borne on the shoulders of men. It was followed by all the citizens of Dwaraka and the people of the provinces, all of whom, deeply afflicted by grief, had been well-affected towards the deceased hero. Before that vehicle were borne the umbrella which had been held over his head at the conclusion of the horse-sacrifice he had achieved while living, and also the blazing fires he had daily worshipped, with the priests that had used to attend to them. The body of the hero was followed by his wives decked in ornaments and surrounded by thousands of women and thousands of their daughters-in-law. The last rites were then performed at that spot which had been agreeable to him while he was alive. The four wives of that heroic son of Sura ascended the funeral pyre and were consumed with the body of their lord. All of them attained to those regions of felicity which were his. The son of Pandu burnt the body of his uncle together with those four wives of his, using diverse kinds of scents and perfumed wood. As the funeral pyre blazed up, a loud sound was heard of the burning wood and other combustible materials, along with the clear chant of Samans and the wailing of the citizens and others who witnessed the rite. After it was all over, the boys of the Vrishni and Andhaka races, headed by Vajra, as also the ladies, offered oblations of water to the high-souled hero.

So, no parallel.

Hindoos who believe Krishna was a god and is a god want to be burned as funeral.

We who believe Jesus is the True God and also the Promised Christ, want to be buried in soil or rock, and hope for the Resurrection of which He, but not Krishna, was the first fruit.

Meanwhile, one may ponder when Mahabharata might have happened, if it happened (most of it, not Krishna's soul being adored by gods), and my solution is, something like it happened in the pre-Flood world.

The hero Bharat, ancestor to Krishna and the Pandavas (and also to the Kauravas) may well have been a post-Flood confusion between two different Henoch : the one who founded a city (or for whom his father Cain named a city), in Genesis 4:17, and the one who was lifted up to Heaven, in Genesis 5:24.

The Semites (at least those who later became Hebrews) remembered the difference between the two Henoch, the ancestors of Hindoos confused them into one single Bharat. That is my guess.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Thursday of Ember week
of Lent

lundi 9 janvier 2017

Did St Matthew Err About Which Prophet Has Said What?

Matthew 27:9-10 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was prized, whom they prized of the children of Israel. And they gave them unto the potter' s field, as the Lord appointed to me.

This has been considered as a reference, not to Jeremias, but to Zacharias.

Zacharias 11:12-13 And I said to them: If it be good in your eyes, bring hither my wages: and if not, be quiet. And they weighed for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me: Cast it to the statuary, a handsome price, that I was prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and I cast them into the house of the Lord to the statuary.

So, was St Matthew wrong? If not, why did he say Jeremias instead of Zacharias?

I know from J. P. Holding that one attack on inerrantism does bring this up:

Fifth, Cragun argues that church fathers did not "idolize" the Scriptures, but that is not really the point. What he needs to show is that the church fathers thought Scripture erred. As it is, he can come no closer to this than e.g., Jerome discussing problems in the text (such as Matthew referring to the "thirty pieces of silver" passage in Zechariah -- an issue, by the way, that is easily resolved under Jewish exegetical and citation procedures). Although Jerome discusses the problem, he does not say, "this is an error." What Jerome does do is suppose that e.g., Matthew might be charged with "falsehood" for such things as adding, "I say unto thee" to the translation of "Talitha cumi." But as Cragun admits, this sort of thing comes more of Jerome's perceived neurotic compulsion for detail than from any real problem.

First of all, I totally take my distance from the qualification "neurotic compulsion" about Saint Jerome's care for detail.

I take my distance from the psychological idealogy it involves, I consider it an idiotic observation about writers (where would Tolkien's Middle Earth have been if he had not had a real concern for detail - mutatis mutandis applicable also to writers touching on real life), and I consider that on the one hand learned people in Antiquity and Middle Ages had a very great respect for verbal exactitude, and on the other hand at any time when Christianity was socially strong, apologists were obliged to deal with people "really neurotic" about detail (insofar as "neurotic" has any meaning at all), and ready to twist things.

Now, what about Zacharias or Jeremias? There are at least three solutions, not sure if all are distinct.

J. P. Holding, as cited:
(such as Matthew referring to the "thirty pieces of silver" passage in Zechariah -- an issue, by the way, that is easily resolved under Jewish exegetical and citation procedures)

Damien Mackey
whom I follow on Academia, once said that Jeremias and Zacharias have the exact same person as an author.

AND while googling,
I just found yet another soloution.

KJV Today thinks
we are instead dealing with another text:

The words from Zechariah 11:12-13 are not the exact words recorded at Matthew 27:9-10. Zechariah does not mention the "children of Israel" and the "field". In fact, only Jeremiah mentions the "field". Jeremiah 32:6-10 describes Jeremiah being commanded by the LORD to buy a field with seventeen shekels of silver.

In other words, when St Matthew writes about thirty pieces, he is estimating this as equivalent to Jeremias' "seventeen shekels" (Douay Rheims has seven staters and ten pieces of silver).

Jeremias 32:6-10 And Jeremias said: The word of the Lord came to me, saying: ehold, Hanameel the son of Sellum thy cousin shall come to thee, saying: Buy thee my field, which is in Anathoth, for it is thy right to buy it, being akin. And Hanameel my uncle' s son cam to me, according to the word of the to the entry of the prison, and said me: Buy my field, which is in in the land of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thins, and thou art next of kin to possess it. And I understood this was the word of the Lord. And I bought the held of my uncle' s son, that is in Anathoth: and I weighed him the money, seven staters, and ten pieces of silver. And I wrote it in a book and sealed it, and took witnesses: and I weighed him the money in the balances.

Now, I'd be surprised if Haydock comment didn't somehow cite St Jerome's solution for Matthew 27:

Ver. 9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias. Jeremias is now in all Latin copies, and the general reading of the Greek; whereas the passage is found in Zacharias xi. 12. Some judge it to have been in some writing of Jeremias, now lost; as St. Jerome says he found it in a writing of Jeremias, which was not canonical. Others conjecture, that Zacharias had also the name of Jeremias. Others, that St. Matthew neither put Jeremias nor Zacharias, but only of the prophet: and that the name of Jeremias had crept into the text. Jeremias is not in the Syriac; and St. Augustine says it was not in divers copies.

And they took the thirty pieces of silver; each of which was called an argenteus. The evangelist cites not the words, but the sense of the prophet, who was ordered to cast the pieces into the house of the Lord, and to cast them to the potter:[2] which became true by the fact of Judas, who cast them into the temple: and with them was purchased the potter's field. The price of him that was prized. In the prophet we read, the handsome price, spoken ironically, as the Lord did appoint me; i.e. as he had decreed. (Witham)

So, St Jerome says it was in a non-canonical writing of Jeremias. And that Matthew found it there.

I wonder whether J. P. Holding is here by "easily resolved under Jewish exegetical and citation procedures" meaning sth like it being OK to cite a conglomerate of Zacharias 11:12-13 with Jeremias 32:6-10.

But that would also be a solution.

And KJV Today gives yet a solution, same page as previous:

The text of Matthew 27:9-10 says "that which was spoken", not "that which was written", so there is no need to look for the exact quotation in the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah spoke the prophecy but did not write it. Zechariah then wrote Jeremiah's oral prophecy while omitting the reference to a field because that detail had already been described in Jeremiah 32:6-10.

A very laudable sentiment, too sad that the site is dedicated to King James Version rather than Vulgate / LXX / Douay Rheims.

In other words, while I am not often engaged in this sort of problems about the Bible, where it is supposed to contradict itself, it seems that the solutions abound well over the problems.

However, both the problems and the solutions assume a familiarity with all aspects of the Bible well above my level - that is why I usually leave this kind of thing to others.

Let's return to this:

What Jerome does do is suppose that e.g., Matthew might be charged with "falsehood" for such things as adding, "I say unto thee" to the translation of "Talitha cumi."

Would that be St Mark? I found it in Mark 5:41. Now, I go to Corpus Thomisticum, Catena Aurea in Marcum, to chapter 5, lectio 3, and find, nope, there is a passage in Matthew too! Anyway, the reference to St Jerome is indeed there in the lectio 3 of chapter 5 of St Mark's Gospel:

Hieronymus de optimo genere Interpret.

Arguat aliquis Evangelistam mendacii, quare exponendo addiderit tibi dico; cum in Hebraico Thabitha, cumi tantum significet puella, surge. Sed ut emphaticoteron** faceret et sensum vocantis et imperantis exprimeret, addit tibi dico, surge.

Let someone argue the Gospeller [guilty] of lying, because exposing he added "I say unto thee"; when in Hebrew Thabitha, cumi only signifies "maid, stand up". But in order to make it more emphatical and express the sense of [Him] calling and of [Him] commanding, he adds "I say unto thee, stand up".

It could of course also be that Christ in fact used the Hebrew or Aramaic (St Jerome was using the word Hebrew for both Hebrew and Aramaic*) equivalent of "I say unto thee" but St Mark thought "thalitha cumi" was as much "Hebrew" as non-Hebrew speaking faithful could stomach, or perhaps St Peter cited only those verbatim from memory, as a side remark to St Matthew's:

9:25 And when the multitude was put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand. And the maid arose.

Or to St Luke's:

8:54 But he taking her by the hand, cried out, saying: Maid, arise.

If St Luke's sources could not recall "I say unto thee" neither they nor St Luke said anothing actually false in stating "maid, arise", while St Marc could be giving a fuller quote along with a translation back to Aramaic of the words. Either way, there is no falsehood.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Sts Julian and Basilissa

* This is perhaps one of the arguments for those saying the Vulgate relied on Aquila rather than direct and own reading of OT text.

** St Jerome is very clear that "emphaticos" is Greek, so that it needs a Greek comparative and neuter accusative "emphaticoteron" rather than Latin "emphaticius". Forming "emphaticius" which would be the Latin form, I think his taste was good.