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  • Originally posted by Gary View Post
    I am not asking you to make an assessment of historical fact, I am asking if you believe it is PROBABLE that Saul was aware of all this evidence. That is no different than asking you if it is probable that Saul knew the name of the Roman caesar at the time since that too is not stated in the documents in question.
    I personally do not believe it likely, that is, not very probable, that Saul had much, if any of the evidence prior to his conversion. Except for the witness of Stephen.
    Last edited by 37818; 07-25-2015, 04:58 PM.
    . . . the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; . . . -- Romans 1:16 KJV

    . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 KJV

    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1 KJV

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
      From the debate itself.

      I previously pointed out to Gary what E.P. Sanders said about the idea of being anonymous. It looks like Gary didn't learn from it. To return to Sanders,

      The authors probably wanted to eliminate interest in who wrote the story and to focus the reader on the subject. More important, the claim of an anonymous history was higher than that of a named work. In the ancient world an anonymous book, rather like an encyclopedia article today, implicitly claimed complete knowledge and reliability. It would have reduced the impact of the Gospel of Matthew had the author written 'this is my version' instead of 'this is what Jesus said and did.' - The Historical Figure of Jesus by E.P. Sanders page 66.


      Furthermore, these writings would not be delivered to their recipient and be told "Well I don't know who wrote them. It's a mystery." The writer would have been known and could have even had his name on the scroll. Church tradition itself is practically unanimous with the authorship, save that John is thought to be by a John but disputed on which John it was. They were also attributed to figures who were not necessarily as well known in the accounts, save for John.

      As for decades later, I also pointed out to Gary that this isn't a problem and as I showed above, applies to much ancient history. Suppose you live in this time. You have a message to get out. There are two ways. You can tell other people and let oral tradition do its work. Oral tradition is reliable (As people have much better memories), costs nothing, and gets the word out to people who can't read. Or you can write. Writing is timely, expensive, and reaches people who can read only. Which will you choose? Gary lives in a time of what is called the Gutenberg Galaxy where it is thought "Well surely if you want to spread a story you write it down." That is projecting his time onto the social context. It doesn't work. The person interested in more can consult Walton and Sandy's The Lost World of Scripture. Much of this is moot anyway since my argument relied on the creed found in 1 Cor. 15.
      Thank you for reposting the statement, Nick. I would have gone back to the debate and found it if you had insisted, but I appreciate you saving me the effort.

      First, I am not claiming that no one in the first century knew who the authors of the gospels were. And, I believe that it is certainly possible that the authors of the gospels purposefully left their names off of their gospels for the reasons Sanders and Nick mention. Nick seems to be assuming that I believe that all early Christian claims were lies and acts of deceit. That is not my position. Once again the logical fallacy of "The Bible is either all lies, or all true" rears it's ugly head.

      Maybe some skeptics believe that the entire Bible is a lie, that all the disciples and authors of the Bible lied...but I do not. I believe that there is a lot of historical truth in the Bible. I believe that the disciples of Jesus were probably very devout, honest men. I also believe that it is most probable that the authors of the Gospels did NOT intentionally try to deceive their readers. What I am trying to point out to those of you who are Christians is that when we look at ancient history, such as the life of Jesus, we are forced to look at probabilities, not absolute certitude. Can historians proof with 100% certitude any event in ancient history? I don't think so. We decide on the historicity of ancient historical claims based on the evidence available, and based on that evidence, we make a probability judgment. Did Julius Caesar cross the Rubicon? Does anyone have a video tape of this event? No. But most historians are pretty sure that this event is historical, based on evidence obtained from multiple sources, and that is why you find this event mentioned as an historical event in history books. But the belief that this event is historical is not based on certitude, it is based on probability.

      So let's assume that the authors of the Gospels were honest men, writing with no intention to deceive anyone. Does that mean that all the events described in their gospels is historical fact? No.

      The evidence indicates that the first gospel was written sometime between approximately 65 AD - 75 AD. I know that some Christians will argue for an earlier date, but most scholars, even Christian scholars don't buy it. Now let's address who wrote the gospels. I have never seen any statement that the majority of NT scholars believe that the apostle Matthew, the physician Luke, and the disciple of Peter, John Mark, wrote the Synoptic gospels. I know that this is what most evangelicals believe but even if the majority of scholars did believe it as true, this opinion is based on speculation, not evidence, as the books are unsigned and not one person, Christian or non-Christian says anything about their alleged, specific, apostolic authorship until Papias in 120-130 AD, and his comments on this subject are vague, and he admits the sources for this information are not the authors themselves. No real attribution of authorship for the Gospels appears until sometime in the second half of the second century with the Muratorian Fragment and with Irenaeus. Even if the early Church had a habit of putting an author's name on a scroll, we have no proof they used this procedure for these gospels. Remember, there were many "gospels" floating around the Roman world in the second century.

      Now, "Matthew", whoever he was, records some events, some really spectacular, supernatural events, that no other gospel writer mentions. Why? We don't know. But what are the possibilities:

      1. The events were historical but not important enough or not pertinent to the themes of the other three writers to include in their gospels.
      2. The events were not historical but "Matthew" did not mean for them to be read factually, but allegorically. He assumed that first century readers of his book would know this.
      3. "Matthew" received this information from sources he believed to be reliable, but turns out they were not. Matthew included them in his gospel believing them to be true, when actually his sources were wrong. Maybe this is why the author of Luke, who says that he thoroughly investigated all previous writings about Jesus (and many scholars believe he may well have had access to Matthew's gospel) does not include these details in his gospel. "Luke" didn't buy these stories as historical events.
      4. The author of Matthew intentionally fabricated these supernatural tales because he thought it made the story more interesting, or, because they lended more evidence for the purpose of his gospel: evangelization.


      Bottom line: Any of these events could have happened. We just don't know. But we must ask ourselves: Which is more probable to be the basis of this historical claim:

      1. An author was mistaken, was writing allegorically, or fabricated the story.

      or

      2. An ancient middle-eastern god really did reanimate the dead flesh of a prophet living 2,000 years ago?

      When we are talking about history folks, it all comes down to probabilities: Does the evidence available to us make the ancient claim in question highly probable, very probable, a 50/50 probability, improbable, or highly improbable.

      There is no wrong or right answer. It depends on your opinion on the quality of evidence. I and other skeptics view the evidence as poor, and even, very poor. Christians obviously view the evidence as very good. I'm not sure there is anyway to break this deadlock other than to agree to what qualifies as "good" evidence. What do you think?
      Last edited by Gary; 07-25-2015, 05:44 PM.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by fm93 View Post
        But here you're just repeating your claim, rather than refuting what I presented (about how Pilate's depiction is actually similar to his depiction in Roman documents).


        I have no problem with this, but the point remains that the reader in that ancient context would've recognized the irony being portrayed.


        Okay, but why are you bringing this up with me? I wasn't trying to defend the historicity of the resurrection. I just responded to you to clarify a few points about Pilate.


        This is technically inaccurate, as it's my understanding that a sizable portion of converts were upper-class. But that's neither here nor there.
        I would like to see your source for your claim that many of the early Christians were upper-class. But, remember, I did not say that the Gentiles were all lower class, just that they were ignorant of the Hebrew Bible.

        I would like to see evidence that a significant number of educated, upper-class Jews converted. I highly doubt it. History shows that the overwhelming majority of Jews rejected the Christian claims and that this is why the Church quickly became predominately Gentile.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Gary View Post
          Thank you for reposting the statement, Nick. I would have gone back to the debate and found it if you had insisted, but I appreciate you saving me the effort.

          First, I am not claiming that no one in the first century knew who the authors of the gospels were. And, I believe that it is certainly possible that the authors of the gospels purposefully left their names off of their gospels for the reasons Sanders and Nick mention. Nick seems to be assuming that I believe that all early Christian claims were lies and acts of deceit. That is not my position. Once again the logical fallacy of "The Bible is either all lies, or all true" rears it's ugly head.
          No. I have no idea of "The Bible is either all lies or all true." Dude. I've co-written an ebook on Inerrancy and I have a separate blog dedicated to this kind of issue so this straw man isn't fooling anyone.

          Now if the reason the Gospels are anonymous are the ones Sanders gives, then your argument becomes not one against the reliability of the Gospels, but for their reliability.

          The thing is, you seem to say anonymous as if that establishes some point, but what point is that?

          Maybe some skeptics believe that the entire Bible is a lie, that all the disciples and authors of the Bible lied...but I do not. I believe that there is a lot of historical truth in the Bible. I believe that the disciples of Jesus were probably very devout, honest men. I also believe that it is most probable that the authors of the Gospels did NOT intentionally try to deceive their readers. What I am trying to point out to those of you who are Christians is that when we look at ancient history, such as the life of Jesus, we are forced to look at probabilities, not absolute certitude. Can historians proof with 100% certitude any event in ancient history? I don't think so. We decide on the historicity of ancient historical claims based on the evidence available, and based on that evidence, we make a probability judgment. Did Julius Caesar cross the Rubicon? Does anyone have a video tape of this event? No. But most historians are pretty sure that this event is historical, based on evidence obtained from multiple sources, and that is why you find this event mentioned as an historical event in history books. But the belief that this event is historical is not based on certitude, it is based on probability.
          And if you go back and check the debate, I point out that those sources are later. Now you say the Gospels have a problem apparently because they're decades later. Well let's look at Caesar's crossing the Rubicon. The information can be found here.

          But whatís most interesting about this is the fact of every scholar of the age. Letís use a site like this.

          Here we find Suetonius was born in 71 A.D. At the start, this puts us at 120 years+. Letís suppose for the sake of argument that Suetonius waits until heís 30 to begin writing. That would mean this reliable account is 150+ years later.

          Appian?

          He was born in 95 A.D. That puts us at 144 years+. Letís suppose he waited until the age of 30, and itís more likely he waited until later. If we give 30, then that means he wrote 174+ years later.

          Cassius Dio? He was born in 164. This puts at at 213 years+. He started writing the Roman Histories at the earliest in 211. That puts us at 260 years+.

          Someone had said something about the accounts of the resurrection being two to three centuries laterÖ.

          But strangely enough, Cassius Dio two to three centuries later is okay.

          Plutarch would be the earliest being born in 46 A.D., but this puts us at 95 years+ and if he waits till thirty, well thatís 125 years+.

          That means not ONE of these sources could have talked to an eyewitness of the event. Not one of them was a contemporary of Caesar either. Not one of them would have been a firsthand account.

          And yet theyíre all accepted.


          So now, by your own criteria, if the Gospels are not to be accepted since they're anonymous works written decades later, then neither should these be accepted, especially since at least Plutarch, the earliest, is as far as I understand, is anonymous.

          So let's assume that the authors of the Gospels were honest men, writing with no intention to deceive anyone. Does that mean that all the events described in their gospels is historical fact? No.
          No one is saying that at all....

          The evidence indicates that the first gospel was written sometime between approximately 65 AD - 75 AD. I know that some Christians will argue for an earlier date, but most scholars, even Christian scholars don't buy it.
          What evidence is this? What scholars? What about even outliers like Crossley and Casey?

          Now let's address who wrote the gospels. I have never seen any statement that the majority of NT scholars believe that the apostle Matthew, the physician Luke, and the disciple of Peter, John Mark, wrote the Synoptic gospels. I know that this is what most evangelicals believe but even if the majority of scholars did believe it as true, this opinion is based on speculation, not evidence, as the books are unsigned and not one person, Christian or non-Christian says anything about their alleged, specific, apostolic authorship until Papias in 120-130 AD, and his comments on this subject are vague, and he admits the sources for this information are not the authors themselves.
          The thing is, this is also great compared to most other ancient writings and we have to ask, for Mark, for instance, why would a writer choose Mark? Especially if this was the account of Peter, why not say "The Gospel of Peter"? Why go with little sissy boy Mark who ran back home to his momma causing a split between the first great church missionaries? You see, this is not based on speculation, but based on the information we have, the testimonies of the early church fathers. I think those who are closest to the time would quite likely know better than those further away.


          No real attribution of authorship for the Gospels appears until sometime in the second half of the second century with the Muratorian Fragment and with Irenaeus. Even if the early Church had a habit of putting an author's name on a scroll, we have no proof they used this procedure for these gospels. Remember, there were many "gospels" floating around the Roman world in the second century.
          There were? Uh. No. Sorry. Try going through Charles Hill's "Who Chose The Gospels?" Let's consider Egypt. Egypt was the most heterodox place on the map at the time. Even there, when we look at the manuscripts and remains we have, the Gnostic and other Gospels are by far outnumbered. Most of these unorthodox Gospels never really made it around the Empire. They were only popular for a small segment at a small time.

          Meanwhile, the orthodox ones were received all over and no matter where they go, we have the same story on authorship.

          Now, "Matthew", whoever he was, records some events, some really spectacular, supernatural events, that no other gospel writer mentions. Why? We don't know. But what are the possibilities:
          Once again, I don't accept the term supernatural, but I wonder if you have any valid criteria for investigating a miracle claim.

          1. The events were historical but not important enough or not pertinent to the themes of the other three writers to include in their gospels.
          Entirely plausible in some cases.

          2. The events were not historical but "Matthew" did not mean for them to be read factually, but allegorically. He assumed that first century readers of his book would know this.
          Ditto.

          3. "Matthew" received this information from sources he believed to be reliable, but turns out they were not. Matthew included them in his gospel believing them to be true, when actually his sources were wrong. Maybe this is why the author of Luke, who says that he thoroughly investigated all previous writings about Jesus (and many scholars believe he may well have had access to Matthew's gospel) does not include these details in his gospel. "Luke" didn't buy these stories as historical events.
          Maybe.

          4. The author of Matthew intentionally fabricated these supernatural tales because he thought it made the story more interesting, or, because they lended more evidence for the purpose of his gospel: evangelization.
          Sure.


          Bottom line: Any of these events could have happened. We just don't know. But we must ask ourselves: Which is more probable in this historical claim:

          1. An author was mistaken, was writing allegorically, or fabricated the story.

          or

          2. An ancient middle-eastern god really did reanimate the dead flesh of a prophet?
          And to decide this, we look at the evidence. I spent most of my time in the debate looking at the evidence. For some reason, you wanted to debate metaphysics and not discuss any scholarship on the matter.

          When we are talking about history folks, it all comes down to probabilities: Does the evidence available to us make the ancient claim in question highly probable, very probable, a 50/50 probability, improbable, or highly improbable.

          There is no wrong or right answer. It depends on your opinion on the quality of evidence. I and other skeptics view the evidence as poor, and even, very poor. Christians obviously view the evidence as very good. I'm not sure there is anyway to break this deadlock other than to agree to what qualifies as "good" evidence. What do you think?
          No. There is a right and a wrong answer. Would we say that in any other inquiry?

          "When it comes to studying if Caesar crossed the Rubicon, there is no right or wrong answer."

          "When it comes to Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492, there is no right or wrong answer."

          "When it comes to if in World War II Hitler butchered millions of Jews, there is no right or wrong answer."

          I just suggested doing history.

          You wanted to do metaphysics.

          And by the way, you failed at both.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
            btw Gary, with regard to anonymous claims, I find it interesting that you say we shouldn't trust the accounts of sources said to be anonymous. (Despite we have a long range of tradition on who wrote the Gospels and this is something the early church did not really dispute) Let's go with it still. Don't use anonymous sources.

            Please note these blogs here that you have on your site:

            http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com...d-against.html

            http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com...-tumbling.html

            Both of those say "copied from Wikipedia."

            Can you tell me who wrote those wikipedia entries?
            Nick,

            You are conflating believing that an anonymous, first century piece of literature can contain historically accurate facts and believing that the "facts" presented in an anonymous piece of first century literature should be the basis of your very existence, and, believing in its supernatural claims, claims that you would NEVER believe in your every day life today, unless, they occur within your particular religious framework.

            For instance, if I told you that my car levitated into outer space yesterday, you would not believe me. But if I told you that Jesus healed my friend's terminable, inoperable cancer because his Christian church had been praying for him, you very well might.

            I do not discount anonymous writings, I am just more skeptical of them because I am not able to evaluate the character and reliability of the author. (BTW, I CAN verify the reliability of Wikipedia. I can give you sources that support the reliability of Wikipedia as a source of information, if you wish.)
            Last edited by Gary; 07-25-2015, 05:59 PM.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Gary View Post
              Nick,

              You are conflating believing that an anonymous, first century piece of literature can contain historically accurate facts and believing that the "facts" presented in an anonymous piece of first century literature should be the basis of your very existence, and, believing in its supernatural claims, claims that you would NEVER believe in your every day life today, unless, they occur within your particular religious framework.

              For instance, if I told you that my car levitated into outer space yesterday, you would not believe me. But if I told you that Jesus healed by friend's terminable, inoperable cancer because his Christian church had been praying for him, you very well might.
              Gary. Your claim implies that for some reason we should not trust the source because it is anonymous.

              Why should I trust your blog posts on your blog that are by an anonymous source?

              Unless you think that anonymity is not really an impediment to having true information and you can check the sources, which any first century person could have done.

              Note also that as for supernatural, again, I do not accept the term (For about the zillionth time) and again, I have no problem accepting a miracle claim outside of my particular faith tradition. If it has good evidence for it, I can believe it.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
                Gary. Your claim implies that for some reason we should not trust the source because it is anonymous.

                Why should I trust your blog posts on your blog that are by an anonymous source?

                Unless you think that anonymity is not really an impediment to having true information and you can check the sources, which any first century person could have done.

                Note also that as for supernatural, again, I do not accept the term (For about the zillionth time) and again, I have no problem accepting a miracle claim outside of my particular faith tradition. If it has good evidence for it, I can believe it.
                I added a statement to the above comment that should explain that.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
                  Gary. Your claim implies that for some reason we should not trust the source because it is anonymous.

                  Why should I trust your blog posts on your blog that are by an anonymous source?

                  Unless you think that anonymity is not really an impediment to having true information and you can check the sources, which any first century person could have done.

                  Note also that as for supernatural, again, I do not accept the term (For about the zillionth time) and again, I have no problem accepting a miracle claim outside of my particular faith tradition. If it has good evidence for it, I can believe it.
                  "Unless you think that anonymity is not really an impediment to having true information and you can check the sources, which any first century person could have done."

                  Would you kindly explain how someone living in the first century could have checked the sources for the Gospel of Matthew, written circa 80 AD?

                  Comment


                  • "So now, by your own criteria, if the Gospels are not to be accepted since they're anonymous works written decades later, then neither should these be accepted, especially since at least Plutarch, the earliest, is as far as I understand, is anonymous."

                    What if the details about Caesar crossing the Rubicon were invented by the sources you mention. What difference would it make? We know Julius Caesar seized power and became a dictator. So even if all the details about his crossing the Rubicon are false it really makes no difference, does it. In addition, none of these sources claimed that Julius levitated across the Rubicon, nor that by levitating across the Rubicon, Julius Caesar proved as historical fact that he is the eternal Creator of the Universe.

                    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", at least for most rational, educated people in western civilization.

                    Comment


                    • "The evidence indicates that the first gospel was written sometime between approximately 65 AD - 75 AD. I know that some Christians will argue for an earlier date, but most scholars, even Christian scholars don't buy it. What evidence is this? What scholars? What about even outliers like Crossley and Casey?"

                      When do you, Nick, believe that the first gospel was written? If you say earlier than 60 AD, please cite the NT scholars that agree with you, and, please cite if any of these scholars are NOT evangelicals.

                      Comment


                      • "The thing is, this is also great compared to most other ancient writings and we have to ask, for Mark, for instance, why would a writer choose Mark? Especially if this was the account of Peter, why not say "The Gospel of Peter"? Why go with little sissy boy Mark who ran back home to his momma causing a split between the first great church missionaries? You see, this is not based on speculation, but based on the information we have, the testimonies of the early church fathers. I think those who are closest to the time would quite likely know better than those further away."

                        Are you telling me that you have evidence that John Mark named his gospel "Mark"??? Please give me your source.

                        I don't know of any non-evangelical scholar who believes that the "Gospel according to Mark" was named by John Mark, himself. Most scholars believe that this gospel was written anonymously and that the name "Mark" was later assigned to it by Christian leaders in the second century. Papias himself never refers to a "Gospel according to Mark" and quotes a passage from it. He simply believed that John Mark had written "a gospel" that was based on the teachings of Peter. He never identifies the gospel. If you have information from any other early Christian, prior to the Muratorian Fragment and Ireneaus, that names the author of one of the gospels AND quotes from the gospel acknowledging the traditional authorship of the quote, please share it. The gospels were being read and quoted in the early second century but no one mentions authorship, such as to quote the Gospel of John, for instance, and say, "The apostle John says in his Gospel of John, the first chapter. 'In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God...".

                        No body.

                        And why would the early church choose to name this book after the cry-baby John Mark and not call it the Gospel of Peter? One possibility: There already was a Gospel of Peter.
                        Last edited by Gary; 07-25-2015, 06:38 PM.

                        Comment


                        • "Meanwhile, the orthodox ones were received all over and no matter where they go, we have the same story on authorship."

                          Are you saying that the Book of Revelation, II Peter, and Hebrews were accepted everywhere in the first and second centuries?

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by 37818 View Post
                            I personally do not believe it likely, that is, not very probable, that Saul had much, if any of the evidence prior to his conversion. Except for the witness of Stephen.
                            Do you believe that the Christians Saul was torturing were telling him the evidence for why they believed the Resurrection claim?

                            Comment


                            • "Once again, I don't accept the term supernatural, but I wonder if you have any valid criteria for investigating a miracle claim."

                              I think we should be fair to persons like you who believe in miracle claims and examine these claims using the same standards that we use to evaluate any other claim made about reality. Fair enough?

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Gary View Post
                                Nick,

                                For instance, if I told you that my car levitated into outer space yesterday, you would not believe me. But if I told you that Jesus healed my friend's terminable, inoperable cancer because his Christian church had been praying for him, you very well might.
                                Yes, and in fact if I heard the same about a Muslim service, I could believe it as well. I have believed such things before as well. I can believe these claims because these are claims that I have heard also from people I deem to be highly reliable who don't believe claims lightly. Also Keener documents several such cases in Miracles.

                                Would I be skeptical of a claim about a car? Sure. But I would also be open. If you could show evidence of it, then give it.

                                The thing is, you argue as if my being able to be open to miracles is a liability in my position. Why should it be? I'm trying to do the work of a historian and find out what happened and that means I have to be open to miracle claims. Here's something important. Let's suppose those claims that are often made of someone being healed miraculously by prayer are all false.

                                Okay. No biggie for my worldview. THat there are false claims out there does not negate true ones.

                                Is it a problem for yours? Yep.

                                Let me point to your words.

                                http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com...vestigate.html

                                Now here, you are saying a claim does not need to be investigated. Now that's a big charge. Why? Well you compare it to the Tooth Fairy and then end with:

                                Answer: Because the claim itself is stupid.
                                Now why is a claim of a miracle itself stupid? Is it because you've established atheism? No. Is it because you've established so-called laws of nature have never been violated? No. Without making a metaphysical argument, there's no reason to assume a miracle claim is stupid, so if anyone has shown a bias here, it is you. You have decided the claim itself is stupid and you expect me to think you're seriously investigating the matter? In fact, your post argues you don't even need to. You've written it off before investigating.

                                Now suppose I was a YEC (I am not) and you challenged me with the evidence for evolutionary theory. Now anyone would really understand why given my worldview I could be skeptical of evolution and many people in the sciences could understand laypeople not in the sciences not really understanding all the ins and outs and being skeptical, but let's suppose beforehand I started by saying "Why do I not need to investigate the claims of life from non-life? Because the claim itself is stupid." I'm not going to be an impartial investigator of the data and would be assuming my worldview.

                                I do not discount anonymous writings, I am just more skeptical of them because I am not able to evaluate the character and reliability of the author. (BTW, I CAN verify the reliability of Wikipedia. I can give you sources that support the reliability of Wikipedia as a source of information, if you wish.)
                                And I can give you scholars that support the character and reliability of the Gospels. But hey, if you want to tell me Wikipedia is reliable, care to tell me what happened with Shane Fitzgerald?

                                Would you kindly explain how someone living in the first century could have checked the sources for the Gospel of Matthew, written circa 80 AD?
                                You assume Matthew was written then, but you give no evidence of that. Could you tell me not only which scholars say this but why? I could just as well ask what sources could be checked for the crossing of the Rubicon by Caesar.

                                But Bauckham has answered your argument. As we go through the Gospels, we see names being dropped. We don't see them being added generally. Bauckham postulates that this is because these people were seen as sources for the material. That's why when we get to John only one woman is named as a resurrection witness, yet the text is clear Mary was not the only woman present. I would say that if it was written then, then the named people would still be seen as sources.

                                What if the details about Caesar crossing the Rubicon were invented by the sources you mention. What difference would it make? We know Julius Caesar seized power and became a dictator. So even if all the details about his crossing the Rubicon are false it really makes no difference, does it. In addition, none of these sources claimed that Julius levitated across the Rubicon, nor that by levitating across the Rubicon, Julius Caesar proved as historical fact that he is the eternal Creator of the Universe.

                                "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", at least for most rational, educated people in western civilization.
                                Ah. Sagan's mantra. Really. Who determines what is an extraordinary claim and who doesn't? I consider the claim now that Christianity survived despite it being false in that context to be quite extraordinary. You did not bring me extraordinary evidence. What in fact is extraordinary evidence? Does it glow in the dark? What? By what criteria do you recognize it?

                                Also, it looks like you change the standard of evidence when it comes to something that doesn't fit your worldview. I had suggested you try the same standard. Why do you not do that? Is it because if you judged the Gospels by the same standard they would pass?

                                When do you, Nick, believe that the first gospel was written? If you say earlier than 60 AD, please cite the NT scholars that agree with you, and, please cite if any of these scholars are NOT evangelicals.
                                I have made no such claim. I've asked you to back your claim. My claim in the debate rested on the creed in 1 Cor. 15.

                                Are you telling me that you have evidence that John Mark named his gospel "Mark"??? Please give me your source.
                                No. Not at all. I am saying that if the early church was looking for someone to pin the tradition on, Mark is not a likely person. As for the Gospel of Peter, you would have to show it was around back then. Mark is certainly a first century document. Do you have any evidence the Gospel of Peter was?

                                Are you saying that the Book of Revelation, II Peter, and Hebrews were accepted everywhere in the first and second centuries?
                                I was talking about Gospels. I was not aware that Revelation, 2 Peter, and Hebrews were Gospels. Do you have some sources that say they were?

                                Back later. Better things to be doing now.

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