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  • Originally posted by psstein View Post
    Impossible to know. It's possible Mary wanted Jesus to have a proper burial and knew she couldn't provide one. It's likely Joseph of Arimathea had some clout with Pilate and might have gone in Mary's stead. Such a question requires knowledge history simply doesn't provide. Motivations are always very tricky. There is evidence the crucified, on the eve of certain holidays, were allowed to be taken down early and buried or treated to. Again, I find the story of Joseph of Arimathea extremely odd in the context of the four gospels. The tone becomes more anti-Jewish as they develop, and it seems at least strange to acknowledge a Jewish sympathizer of Jesus as late as John. It certainly does not fit the overall tone and theme of John or Matthew.

    In historical Jesus research, there's a criterion called the criterion of dissimilarity, which posits if Jesus is saying something dissimilar from Second Temple Judaism or the early Church, he probably said it. The story of Joseph of Arimathea doesn't quite fit this category, but it's so dissimilar from the tones of the gospels it seems very likely.
    Hi Stein,

    Do you agree with my summation of the evidence statement? Here it is again. I hope that Nick will comment on it also when he gets the chance:

    1. The tomb was found empty by a number of women (the women tradition is extremely early and the criterion of embarrassment suggests its truth)
    2. The disciples had experiences of the risen Jesus, who appeared to all twelve of them, as well as to James and Paul.
    3. The disciples were convinced Jesus had risen from the dead, in contrast to a widespread belief that resurrection would only happen at the end of history and what we know of other Jewish Messianic movements.
    4. At least three of them died for their belief (1st century sources for James, Paul, and Peter).

    Let's add Nick's position to this list:

    5. A very shameful belief arose in an Honor Shame Society, and, the believers of this shameful, never-heard-of-before shameful claim were willing to endure intense persecution and even death in defense of this shameful belief.

    So, Stein and Nick: Would you agree that there are plausible, alternative explanations for each of these individual pieces of evidence, and, that if there are alternative, plausible explanations for each piece of evidence listed, then it is reasonable to believe that there are plausible alternative explanations for the cumulative evidence?

    If we can agree on this point, then I think that we have achieved an important achievement/milestone in our discussions: Skeptics are accepting the possibility of miracles, and Christians are accepting that plausible, alternative explanations can account for all the evidence. The only major disagreement remaining is our differing views on the probability of miracles.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Gary View Post
      Below is Stein's list for the evidence for the Resurrection:

      1. The tomb was found empty by a number of women (the women tradition is extremely early and the criterion of embarrassment suggests its truth)
      2. The disciples had experiences of the risen Jesus, who appeared to all twelve of them, as well as to James and Paul.
      3. The disciples were convinced Jesus had risen from the dead, in contrast to a widespread belief that resurrection would only happen at the end of history and what we know of other Jewish Messianic movements.
      4. At least three of them died for their belief (1st century sources for James, Paul, and Peter).

      Let's add Nick's position to this list:

      5. A very shameful belief arose in an Honor Shame Society, and, the believers of this shameful, never-heard-of-before shameful claim were willing to endure intense persecution and even death in defense of this shameful belief.

      So, Stein and Nick: Would you agree that there are plausible, alternative explanations for each of these individual pieces of evidence, and, that if there are alternative, plausible explanations for each piece of evidence listed, then it is reasonable to believe that there are plausible alternative explanations for the cumulative evidence?

      If we can agree on this point, then I think that we have achieved an important achievement/milestone in our discussions: Skeptics are accepting the possibility of miracles, and Christians are accepting that plausible, alternative explanations can account for all the evidence. The only major disagreement remaining is our differing views on the probability of miracles.
      I think there are alternative explanations. I don't think most of them are plausible explanations. Of the alternative explanations, I am most sympathetic to a hallucination leading to the development of the empty tomb, and even then, I think it's a particularly weak alternative. It doesn't fit the evidence we have, and it doesn't explain all the appearances.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by psstein View Post
        Impossible to know.
        It's not impossible to know. I mentioned this in post #150, and also in my citation of Craig Evans above, family members were not allowed the bodies of criminals initially.

        Source: Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

        AND THEY DID NOT BURY HIM [THE EXECUTED PERSON] IN HIS ANCESTRAL TOMB, BUT TWO BURIAL PLACES WERE PREPARED BY THE BETH DIN, ONE FOR THOSE WHO WERE DECAPITATED OR STRANGLED, AND THE OTHER FOR THOSE WHO WERE STONED OR BURNED.

        WHEN THE FLESH WAS COMPLETELY DECOMPOSED, THE BONES WERE GATHERED AND BURIED IN THEIR PROPER PLACE. THE RELATIVES THEN CAME AND GREETED THE JUDGES AND WITNESSES, AS IF TO SAY, WE HAVE NO [ILL FEELINGS] AGAINST YOU IN OUR HEARTS, FOR YE GAVE A TRUE JUDGMENT.

        © Copyright Original Source



        As a member of the Beth Din, Joseph of Arimathea was in the best (and probably only) position to ask for the body.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by psstein View Post
          I think there are alternative explanations. I don't think most of them are plausible explanations. Of the alternative explanations, I am most sympathetic to a hallucination leading to the development of the empty tomb, and even then, I think it's a particularly weak alternative. It doesn't fit the evidence we have, and it doesn't explain all the appearances.
          So "I don't think that most of them are plausible" infers that you believe that some alternative explanations are plausible; so, there are plausible, alternative explanations for the early Christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The bodily resurrection may be the best of all plausible explanations, in your opinion, but it is not the only one.

          I believe that this is a very rational position, one that most skeptics, including myself, will respect.
          Last edited by Gary; 08-18-2015, 04:21 PM.

          Comment


          • The answer to the claim that "almah" would not have been used "betulah" because have specified virgin more distinctly.
            1/ Though the word "almah" means "young woman" - in the normal course it implies virginity.
            2/ It could be argued, even if Isaiah had said "betulah", that the young woman in question would not necessarily have been a virgin.
            3/ "Betulah" is not used of a virgin who is betrothed. The correct term is "almah"
            4/ The translators of the Hebrew scriptures, they being Hebrews, rendered "almah" as "parthenos (virgin)" in the Greek. Had they expected "almah" to denote anything other than virginity, they would have translated "almah" as "young woman" - not as "virgin". (well, maybe it would if she gave birth to something that wasn't human.)
            5/ "“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son" - says that the pregnancy itself is a sign from God. No sign from God would be involved in a pregnancy if the young woman has engaged in swyving.
            sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

            Comment


            • mistaken identities in history:

              Martin Guerre - a man left his wife children. Then a man returned claiming to be the husband and father and lived with them for 3 years until the real husband father returned. They mistook his identity for 3 years.

              Thomas Caster - in 19th century England, an Aristocrat was list at sea. His mother, beliving him to be alive, sent out many wanted/missing persons posters. Am man came in claiming to be Lady Tichborne's lost son. She agreed it was her son. He was later discovered to be Thomas Caster, just some other dude trying to move in on some money.

              george psalmanazar - this is a little different. unlike the others, he didnt pass himself off as someone that someone else should have known very well, but he was a white Anglican dude who passed himself as Taiwanese upper class.


              people have "seen" dear loved ones who were in fact other people.



              and then the mass miracle witnessed at Fatima, Portugal. http://www.marypages.com/fatimaEng1.htm


              Mass Buddhist Miracles?

              “Several of my colleagues and I saw the Buddha statue glow with light green rays,” reported one witness at the Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo. Statues at the Bellanwila Rajamaha Vihara temple located on the outskirts of Colombo, a statue near the Sambodhi orphanage in the city of Galle, a statute at a bus stand in Galle, and a Buddha statue at the entrance to a housing complex in the city of Battaramulla were among the many statues said to be emitting rays of light. “Thousands vouched for having seen rays emanating from the chest of the Buddha statues and considered it a miracle,” according to an article in a Sri Lankan newspaper. (Source: www.lankanewspapers.com, The Island, Sri Lanka; Agence France-Presse)


              if you look, you find many other claimed miracles either witnessed by masses or confirmed by medical professionals or scholars of one type or another. Do we believe all of those as well?

              Comment


              • Originally posted by tabibito View Post
                The answer to the claim that "almah" would not have been used "betulah" because have specified virgin more distinctly.
                1/ Though the word "almah" means "young woman" - in the normal course it implies virginity.
                2/ It could be argued, even if Isaiah had said "betulah", that the young woman in question would not necessarily have been a virgin.
                3/ "Betulah" is not used of a virgin who is betrothed. The correct term is "almah"
                4/ The translators of the Hebrew scriptures, they being Hebrews, rendered "almah" as "parthenos (virgin)" in the Greek. Had they expected "almah" to denote anything other than virginity, they would have translated "almah" as "young woman" - not as "virgin". (well, maybe it would if she gave birth to something that wasn't human.)
                5/ "“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son" - says that the pregnancy itself is a sign from God. No sign from God would be involved in a pregnancy if the young woman has engaged in swyving.

                Young woman may very well have meant "virgin" in the normal course, except when that young woman is pregnant. It would never have implied "virgin" then.

                and going by the hebrew, we see that it actually reads more like, "“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the young woman shall conceive and bear a Son."

                and then in chapter 8, Isaiah goes unto a young woman and she bears a son. and before he could this that or whatever the passage says, Ahaz's enemies are dealt with per the rest of what Chapter 7, related to the birth. Read chapters 7 & 8 together. they fit together. They fit together much better than Isaiah 7 and Mary & jesus.

                I have no doubt that the Greek translated it into Virgin. I am saying that was an error that led to the misapplication of said prophecy.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Adrift View Post
                  It's not impossible to know. I mentioned this in post #150, and also in my citation of Craig Evans above, family members were not allowed the bodies of criminals initially.

                  Source: Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

                  AND THEY DID NOT BURY HIM [THE EXECUTED PERSON] IN HIS ANCESTRAL TOMB, BUT TWO BURIAL PLACES WERE PREPARED BY THE BETH DIN, ONE FOR THOSE WHO WERE DECAPITATED OR STRANGLED, AND THE OTHER FOR THOSE WHO WERE STONED OR BURNED.

                  WHEN THE FLESH WAS COMPLETELY DECOMPOSED, THE BONES WERE GATHERED AND BURIED IN THEIR PROPER PLACE. THE RELATIVES THEN CAME AND GREETED THE JUDGES AND WITNESSES, AS IF TO SAY, WE HAVE NO [ILL FEELINGS] AGAINST YOU IN OUR HEARTS, FOR YE GAVE A TRUE JUDGMENT.

                  © Copyright Original Source



                  As a member of the Beth Din, Joseph of Arimathea was in the best (and probably only) position to ask for the body.
                  Thanks. I haven't read the thread all the way through or a large amount on the passion narratives. I keep meaning to read Brown's The Death of the Messiah, but I get sidetracked by other responsibilities and readings. As I think Evans alluded to, it makes sense Jesus was buried in a tomb seemingly reserved for criminals. Based on what we know of Second Temple Judaism, the body would then decay and be placed into an ossuary.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Gary View Post
                    So "I don't think that most of them are plausible" infers that you believe that some alternative explanations are plausible; so, there are plausible, alternative explanations for the early Christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. The bodily resurrection may be the best of all plausible explanations, in your opinion, but it is not the only one.

                    I believe that this is a very rational position, one that most skeptics, including myself, will respect.
                    I think the most plausible alternative is the hallucination leading to a belief in an empty tomb. Such a hypothesis has massive problems, so I would call it plausible, but problematic. Reasonable and highly trained scholars have advanced such a theory. I think the theory has massive holes, but these scholars are not lightweights (Crossan, Crossley, Ludemann, Casey, Ehrman, Allison, etc.), so I think their arguments have to be considered. It's plausible in that it's not an unreasonable stance, as opposed to Carrier's belief Jesus' body was stolen by anonymous grave robbers or Strauss' swoon hypothesis.

                    It's reasonable, not likely. Another reasonable (though even more unlikely) alternative is the reburial hypothesis, which fails for even more reasons than the hallucination hypothesis.
                    Last edited by psstein; 08-18-2015, 04:58 PM.

                    Comment


                    • Well, my discussions with Stein have certainly been enlightening. If only all Christians held Stein's position on the origin of the early Christian belief of a Resurrection: the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus' dead body is the BEST of all plausible explanations but there are plausible alternative explanations.

                      It is when (fundamentalist) Christians tell us that the bodily resurrection is the ONLY plausible/believable explanation for the evidence, that we skeptics want to pull our hair out by the roots in exasperation at the unmitigated gall (and ignorance, in our opinion) of this statement. I sincerely hope that Nick is in agreement with Stein on this issue as I believe that Stein's position is very rational, enlightened, and non-fundamentalist.

                      So the major disagreement we are left with is our individual opinion regarding the probability of supernatural events, in particular, divine miracles. I personally believe that the probability of a miracle happening in the past, today, or in the future is infinitesimally small. A miracle would be the LAST of all possible explanations for any out-of-the-ordinary event...to me. For Christians, the probability of a divine miracle is very high. So how can we prove who is right and who is wrong? Answer: We can't. That issue is purely a matter of personal opinion.
                      Last edited by Gary; 08-18-2015, 05:05 PM.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Gary View Post
                        Well, my discussions with Stein have certainly been enlightening. If only all Christians held Stein's position on the origin of the early Christian belief of a Resurrection: the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus' dead body is the BEST of all plausible explanations but there are plausible alternative explanations.

                        It is when (fundamentalist) Christians tell us that the bodily resurrection is the ONLY plausible/believable explanation for the evidence, that we skeptics want to pull our hair out by the roots in exasperation at the unmitigated gall (and ignorance, in our opinion) of this statement. I sincerely hope that Nick is in agreement with Stein on this issue as I believe that Stein's position is very rational, enlightened, and non-fundamentalist.

                        So the major disagreement we are left with is our individual opinion regarding the probability of supernatural events, in particular, divine miracles. I personally believe that the probability of a miracle happening in the past, today, or in the future is infinitesimally small. A miracle would be the LAST of all possible explanations for any out-of-the-ordinary event...to me. For Christians, the probability of a divine miracle is very high. So how can we prove who is right and who is wrong? Answer: We can't. That issue is purely a matter of personal opinion.
                        I would say there are other possible explanations. I wouldn't say more than one is particularly plausible, and there are significant problems with that one.The best explanation by far is resurrection from the dead. Nothing I've said is particularly foreign to what Habermas/Licona/Wright would argue. I don't know about Licona, but from what I've seen from Wright and Habermas, they're willing to admit there are other ways of interpreting the data. Those other ways fall far short, but there are other intellectually honest ways.

                        Nick can defend himself, but I believe he's been consistent in saying the best explanation is the Resurrection, and the alternative explanations fall far short.

                        As for miracles, read Keener's study.

                        In terms of my beliefs:

                        1) I'm trying to approach the material as objectively as possible.
                        2) In keeping with objectivity, you have to acknowledge other interpretations can be considered. History is frustrating in its uncertainty. What really happened when JFK was assassinated? We can't know for certain.
                        3) We have to draw conclusions that incorporate all the evidence. In this case, we have to incorporate the empty tomb and appearances, along with some other data. Hallucinations only deal with the appearances. The empty tomb is not touched by hallucinations alone, so another factor has to be added. You're going beyond what we know and into speculation then.
                        4) I'm far from an inerrantist, and I hold positions some, if not most people here would disagree with.
                        5) I think fundamentalism incompatible with a literal (that is, reading in the way the author intended) reading of the text. I am very much aligned with Vatican II's statement on inerrancy, the Scriptures are inerrant in all they are supposed to teach. Jonah, for example, is not a literal account of a man being swallowed by a giant fish.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by psstein View Post
                          I would say there are other possible explanations. I wouldn't say more than one is particularly plausible, and there are significant problems with that one.The best explanation by far is resurrection from the dead. Nothing I've said is particularly foreign to what Habermas/Licona/Wright would argue. I don't know about Licona, but from what I've seen from Wright and Habermas, they're willing to admit there are other ways of interpreting the data. Those other ways fall far short, but there are other intellectually honest ways.

                          Nick can defend himself, but I believe he's been consistent in saying the best explanation is the Resurrection, and the alternative explanations fall far short.

                          As for miracles, read Keener's study.

                          In terms of my beliefs:

                          1) I'm trying to approach the material as objectively as possible.
                          2) In keeping with objectivity, you have to acknowledge other interpretations can be considered. History is frustrating in its uncertainty. What really happened when JFK was assassinated? We can't know for certain.
                          3) We have to draw conclusions that incorporate all the evidence. In this case, we have to incorporate the empty tomb and appearances, along with some other data. Hallucinations only deal with the appearances. The empty tomb is not touched by hallucinations alone, so another factor has to be added. You're going beyond what we know and into speculation then.
                          4) I'm far from an inerrantist, and I hold positions some, if not most people here would disagree with.
                          5) I think fundamentalism incompatible with a literal (that is, reading in the way the author intended) reading of the text. I am very much aligned with Vatican II's statement on inerrancy, the Scriptures are inerrant in all they are supposed to teach. Jonah, for example, is not a literal account of a man being swallowed by a giant fish.
                          "Nothing I've said is particularly foreign to what Habermas/Licona/Wright would argue. I don't know about Licona, but from what I've seen from Wright and Habermas, they're willing to admit there are other ways of interpreting the data. Those other ways fall far short, but there are other intellectually honest ways."

                          I have no problem with this statement.

                          It is when Christians say that all alternative explanations for the cumulative evidence regarding the early Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection are implausible, that I and other skeptics have a problem. Christians may believe that our alternative explanations are less probable, and even much less probable, than their explanation based on a divine miracle, but to call our alternative explanations "implausible" (so improbable as to be ridiculous) is fundamentalist thinking.

                          I would still like to hear Nick's take on this...

                          Comment


                          • Regarding miracles, I have no way to prove that miracles don't happen, but I believe that the proponents of miracles are hard pressed to prove they do. I realize that tens of thousands of people, even highly intelligent, highly educated, people believe that miracles have and do occur, but here is why I don't believe them:

                            As a physician I have the following situation happen to me at least once a month: "Hey doc, have you heard of this new treatment, blah blah blah, that cures cancer/diabetes/warts, etc., etc.?

                            When I respond, "No" their reaction is: "My god, Doc. Aren't you keeping up with the latest studies? This product has cured "thousands" of people. It is a proven fact it works."

                            When I ask why mainstream medicine has not endorsed it, I typically am told that mainstream medicine is biased; or that most doctors are just in it for the money and want people to stay sick. Doctors are hiding this "vital" information from the public; and other paranoid conspiracy theories. Now that is not to say that there could be something out there that helps people that traditional medicine just hasn't picked up on yet, but the overwhelming probability is that the reason that western medicine doesn't accept it is because studies show it makes zero difference in the disease in question. There are always exceptions, but I believe they are rare. Traditional medicine and doctors want to help people get better. We do not hide effective treatments in order keep people sick and our schedules full.

                            And that is how I feel about miracle claims. Tens of thousands of people may claim that they have been healed by a divine miracle, but for some strange reason, none of these cases have caught the attention of traditional medicine. And the explanations for traditional medicine's lack of interest in these miracle claims is brushed off with the same paranoid conspiracy theories that people use for every fad cure that traditional medicine poo-poos or ignores.

                            When Christians can show me an amputee whose limb has grown back overnight due to prayer to Jesus, then you will have my full and undivided attention, but until then, I'm not impressed.

                            Comment


                            • I think you really need to look at Keener's work; he does deal with some of your questions.

                              I tend to agree with you with regard to medical claims. Some of the academic work I do is in history of science/medicine, so I'm very familiar with "alternative medicine" cures.

                              But didn't you know it's all a conspiracy by the Pope, Freemasons, doctors, and Biblical scholars? (I'm paraphrasing D.M. Murdock, for those of you familiar with her nonsense).

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by psstein View Post
                                I think you really need to look at Keener's work; he does deal with some of your questions.

                                I tend to agree with you with regard to medical claims. Some of the academic work I do is in history of science/medicine, so I'm very familiar with "alternative medicine" cures.

                                But didn't you know it's all a conspiracy by the Pope, Freemasons, doctors, and Biblical scholars? (I'm paraphrasing D.M. Murdock, for those of you familiar with her nonsense).
                                I'm told that Keener has thousands of cases of unexplainable, undeniable miracles. I'm sure he is 100% sincere in believing that all these claims are true; that prayer to Jesus healed these people. But alas, it seems that Jesus is not the only one curing the "incurable":

                                These people have a secret cure for cancer "which doctors have been hiding from the public for years so that they can keep the money pouring in":
                                http://www.thebigcancerlie.com/

                                And here is a "testimonial" for a supplement that will cure "any disease":


                                CAT Scan Proves That Cancer Disappeared!
                                This is a real-life case study reported by a medical doctor who wishes to remain anonymous. The name of the patient has been changed for privacy reasons.

                                A 60-year-old man named David Palmer collapsed in his home one day and was rushed to the hospital. After undergoing an endoscopic examination and CAT scan, his doctor told him he had a cancerous mass the size of a grapefruit in his stomach. It was a large-celled lymphoma. A few days after his diagnosis, David learned about the simple therapy revealed in The One-Minute Cure, and began doing the therapy 3 times a week. Another CAT scan was done 7 weeks after he was first diagnosed with cancer -- and his doctor was amazed because the tumor had completely disappeared! Four months later, a repeat CAT scan was done, and again, there was no evidence that there was ever any cancer in David's stomach.

                                See other diseases healed by the one-minute cure
                                or Frequently Asked Questions.

                                Gary: Anyone can claim to have Xrays, CT scans, and MRI's that confirm a "miracle cure", but for some reason these studies are never available for independent review by non-biased experts. If prayer to Jesus causes miracle cures, we should see statistics that bear this out: We should see that Christians have a higher healing rate and a lower death rate from cancer and other diseases. But guess what, folks. There is no statistical difference among Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and atheists for disease incidence or death from disease, when all persons are of the same social class and living in the same country. So Jesus, Allah, and Lord Brahma aren't doing any better job at healing their supplicants (faithful) than the atheist who prays to no one.
                                Last edited by Gary; 08-18-2015, 08:56 PM.

                                Comment

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