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Book Plunge: Why Christians Are Wrong About Jesus

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  • Apologiaphoenix
    replied
    Did Paul think God was wrong?

    --------------

    Did the beliefs of Paul go against Judaism’s central beliefs? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Sometimes it’s hard to come back to this book because while these claims need to be answered, it can get tiresome to see the same kinds of things show up. Granted, Campbell is not as much a fundamentalist as many others are, he still is one in his approach. Nevertheless, let’s leap back into the matter. This time, we’ll see if Paul went against core beliefs of Judaism.

    Obviously, the Christians would disagree with some beliefs of Judaism of their day, such as the role of the Law and if the Messiah had come, but there would be a lot of overlap. Christians use the same Old Testament that Jews see as their Scriptures today. Despite what many non-Christians would tell you, Christianity, which includes belief in the Trinity, is monotheistic. We do believe a good God created all things as well.

    Campbell tells us that the Tanakh says repeatedly that God will not take human form. He gives four references. Let’s look at them. The first is Numbers 23:19.
    God is not human, that he should lie,
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.
    Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?

    Next is Exodus 33:20
    But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

    Followed by 1 Samuel 15:29:
    He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”

    And last is 1 Kings 8:27
    “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!

    Now maybe I’m missing it, but I don’t see anywhere in those God saying “I will never dwell in human form among you.” It’s apparent that Campbell didn’t bother looking up any Christian scholarship on this. I don’t say that because Christian scholarship is unbiased, but if you’re going to say the Christian position can’t handle these verses, you need to at least look and see what they say about it.

    With the Numbers reference:
    God is different and separate from mankind, transcendent beyond the realm of humanity with all of its tendencies toward falsehood, deceit, misfortune, and calamity. Therefore he has no need to repent of any moral or ethical turpitude or misdeed. God is immutable, and his word bespeaks his incomparable integrity. On the other hand, Balaam and Balak were the antithesis of God, men of banal character. Concerning this pagan prophet Allen remarks, “He is himself the prime example of the distinction between God and man.” Balaam’s words were ineffective before God, for as the prophet often explained, “I can speak only what Yahweh speaks to me!” On the other hand, God’s word is entirely efficacious; what he says he will do, what he speaks he will accomplish.” His word is never uttered into the void and never fails to produce what he intends (Isa 55:11).
    The word for God used here for the first of three times in this oracle is ʾēl, which derives from the basic word for deity in Semitic languages. Most often in the Hebrew Bible the term occurs in the plural form Elohim, denoting the power or majesty of the One True God (though occasionally of the multiple gods of the nations), or ʾēlm, the plural form often used in reference to the plethora of gods and goddesses of the nations. The short form ʾēl often occurs in epithets that highlight some aspect of the relationship between God and his people, such as ʾēl-šadday (“God Almighty,” Gen 17:1), ʾēl-ʾĕmet (“God of Truth,” Ps 31:6). The present form ʾēl occurs by itself most often in the poetic materials of the wisdom, hymnic, and prophetic literature such as the Books of Job, Psalms, and Isaiah.

    R. Dennis Cole, Numbers (vol. 3B; The New American Commentary; Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 411.

    The point in Numbers is about the behavior of God. Men lie and cheat and change their minds. God does not do that. His behavior is not like that of a man. It does not mean that God cannot take on the nature of a man. Man is not essentially a fallen creature. Man is fallen by virtue of Adam’s fall.

    For Exodus:
    God will only partially fulfill Moses’ request; he will let his goodness pass before him (v. 19) for no man can see God’s face and live. God further says that when his goodness passes before Moses, the name Yahweh will be proclaimed as part of the theophany. The proclamation of the divine name might hint that something of God’s eternal qualities are revealed to Moses. But even in this manifestation Moses has to be protected (vv. 21–22). God’s glory is to be more fully revealed in Jesus Christ: “we have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father” (John 1:14).

    James K. Hoffmeier, “Exodus,” in Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (vol. 3; Baker reference library; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1995), 361.

    God’s glory always comes veiled. There are theophanies in the Old Testament as well where people are said to see God. In the incarnation, there was a veil as well. 1 Samuel 15:29 is much akin to Numbers 23 so there’s no need to expand there further. The difference that is worthwhile is that this is a judgment God has made and God is not going to change His mind in it.

    And for 1 Kings:
    A crucial theological issue emerges before Solomon begins his specific petitions. If God is unique “in heaven above or on earth below” (8:23), and if “even the highest heaven cannot contain” the Lord, then Solomon correctly exclaims, “How much less this temple I have built!” Though Moses was a man “whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deut 34:10), he was not allowed to see all God’s glory (Exod 33:7–23). God’s magnitude would simply overwhelm a human’s capacity to grasp it. Tokens of the Lord’s presence, such as clouds and pillars of fire (Exod 40:34–38; 1 Kgs 8:10–11), appear, of course, and people cannot stay near them. On what basis, then, can Solomon hope that God will dwell on earth, in this temple? How will the Lord “live among the Israelites and … not abandon” (1 Kgs 6:13) them?
    Solomon’s confidence in God’s willingness to condescend to human level must ultimately emerge from four principles. First, he knows God has revealed himself in the past, particularly in the lives of Moses, Joshua, and David (cf. 1 Kgs 8:21–26). Thus, Solomon does not pray for a brand new occurrence. Second, the king understands that the covenant described in written Scripture, in the Pentateuch, teaches that God desires a relationship with Israel as a nation and with individual Israelites (cf. Deut 7:7–9; 1 Kgs 8:23). He can approach God in prayer because he is the Lord’s “servant” and because Israel is the Lord’s people (8:30). Such assurance comes from the covenant itself.
    Third, Solomon can expect God to fulfill the promise made in Deut 12:4–11 to “put his Name” (Deut 12:5) in a central worship site. Fourth, he can hope for God’s presence because of what he knows about God’s character. Since God is loving (1 Kgs 8:23), faithful (8:24), consistent (8:25), and relational (8:30), it is reasonable to assume that he will continue to meet human beings where they live. God is lofty, holy, and mysterious, yet approachable and personal at the same time. The temple will serve as the physical symbol of these divine realities. Here the unapproachable Lord becomes approachable and ready to help those who worship, sacrifice, and pray.

    Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings (vol. 8; The New American Commentary; Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 143–144.

    The point here is Solomon knows God will dwell with man, but he can’t believe it will happen. How can it be? This God who cannot be contained by the heavens will dwell with men? Solomon’s mind would be blown by the revelation in Christ.

    Let’s give one final quote from Campbell.
    Paul considers his authority from the visionary Christ so great that Paul can even contradict Moses. In Romans, Paul states that Moses was wrong when writing “the man who practices the righteousness which is based on the Law shall live by that righteousness.” Rom. 10:5-13. The passages Paul references, Lev. 18:1-5 and Deut. 6:24-25, clearly state that if a man keeps God’s laws he shall be righteous. But Paul vehemently disagreed. Paul even claimed the teaching of Moses brought death by leading people away from “the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Cor. 3:7-18. Because Moses is, according to Leviticus and Deuteronomy , speaking on God’s behalf, Paul is saying that God was wrong too, and that Paul’s authority is greater than that of God. Not surprisingly, Paul’s message was poorly received by the Jews of his day.

    Let’s just say this. If you are interpreting this passage and you think you have interpreted it right so that Paul is not only saying Moses was wrong, but God is wrong, you need to recheck your interpretation.

    We shall continue next time.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters
    (And I affirm the virgin birth)
    Did the beliefs of Paul go against Judaism’s central beliefs? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. Sometimes it’s hard to come back to this book because while these claims need to be answered, it can get tiresome to see the same kinds of things show up. Granted, Campbell is not as much … Continue reading Book Plunge: Why Christians Are Wrong About Jesus. Paul vs. Judaism

    Leave a comment:


  • Christianbookworm
    replied
    Is this guy ignorant of the chronology of Acts? The decision to pick a new apostle was long before Paul's conversion! I know you mentioned that, but I thought it deserved a facepalm. How can someone be so foolish?

    Leave a comment:


  • Apologiaphoenix
    replied
    Did Paul give himself the honor?

    --------------

    Did Paul appoint himself as apostle? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    I am returning to this one again to continue looking at the question of Paul. Campbell considers it dubious since Paul is the only one privy to his vision and we have no one else outside of Luke referring to Paul as an apostle. However, if Paul really believed he had this encounter with Jesus, rightly or wrongly, then it’s hard to see how he is self-appointed. In his mind, he is, rightly or wrongly, following the orders of a higher authority.

    However, Campbell goes on to list this as self-serving. How, he never explains. What benefits did Paul gain from the Jesus movement? If he was wrong, he had forfeited an incredible position and career in Judaism, taken a position that would be blasphemous to YHWH if Jesus did not rise from the dead, and took on a position that resulted in the many trials that he underwent as described in 2 Cor. 11. The benefits certainly do not weigh out the costs, unless, of course, Christianity is true.

    He also tells us Jesus only chose as apostles those who had been with him from the beginning, heard his teachings, witnessed his miracles, and been with him through his trials. He stresses that it was very important to Jesus that His disciples meet this criteria since they would be passing along His teachings.

    Never mind that the first apostles Jesus chose hadn’t had any of these experiences at all. Never mind also that we only see these criteria being used in Acts 1 and we never see a divine word choosing another apostle. I am not saying they were wrong to do so, but this is never something that is said to be spelled out by Jesus. The requirements for being an apostle are simply being sent by Jesus and if Paul’s encounter is true, then Paul is an apostle. Also, there were others called apostles, such as Junia and her husband in Romans 16.

    Campbell also says that when the eleven chose a replacement for Jesus, they pointedly did not choose Paul. Geez. Why could that be? Could it be because Paul was not a part of the Jesus movement then and it would be ridiculous to choose an outsider who had not embraced the message? Of course, if Jesus wants to do this, He can do so. Campbell acts like this was a deliberate rejection on the part of the apostles when it was that Paul wasn’t in the running at the time. Somehow, this translates to later times as if to show that the apostles were always suspicious of Paul.

    Much of the material from here on is the same kind of material that you can find in a lot of anti-Paul materials that assumes an intense warfare going on between Paul and the apostles, something never mentioned by them or their own students, the early church fathers. (If 2 Peter is authentic, Peter did accept Paul, but of course, Campbell never bothers to look at this question.)

    We will continue next time.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters
    (And I affirm the virgin birth)
    Did Paul appoint himself as apostle? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out. I am returning to this one again to continue looking at the question of Paul. Campbell considers it dubious since Paul is the only one privy to his vision and we have no one else outside of Luke referring to … Continue reading Book Plunge: Why Christians Are Wrong About Jesus — The Self-Appointed Apostle

    Leave a comment:


  • rogue06
    replied
    Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post

    I must have hit the mark.
    Indeed. The "funny bone."

    Leave a comment:


  • Hypatia_Alexandria
    replied
    Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
    Talk about being someone's best shot.



    I must have hit the mark.

    Leave a comment:


  • rogue06
    replied
    Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post
    Talk about being someone's best shot.



    Leave a comment:


  • Hypatia_Alexandria
    replied
    Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
    Must've stung.

    Leave a comment:


  • One Bad Pig
    replied
    Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post

    Caveat emptor.

    From his "blurb" on the Amazon site;

    John Campbell is a lawyer, magician, songwriter, photographer, video producer, adventure travel enthusiast, and history buff who lives with his family in the southern United States. John has been a trial lawyer for over twenty-five years, successfully handling cases all over the country. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock law school.John was the coauthor of a book on close up magic, Pure Imagination, before writing Cross-Examined: Putting Christianity on Trial, his dissection of Christianity and the case of apologists for the Christian God. John was raised in a Christian household but lost his faith in college, ironically in the process of tying to to strengthen it. Since that time he has had a profound interest in religion, especially Christianity.


    In other words he is an enthusiast.
    Yes. I suppose many people miss that bit, which is why Nick is bothering to offer commentary on it.

    Leave a comment:


  • One Bad Pig
    replied
    Originally posted by JimL View Post

    Yes, so, there are no real thrones, or 3 physical bodies as Revelation portrays it of course. But then, if there are not 3 physical bodies what does 3 distinct persons in one God mean? Three spiritual bodies in one? Three distinct individual minds in one? No, that doesn't quite make sense either.
    So, I don't know. Can you make it clear? How do you make sense of the Trinity idea? I just cant seem to make sense of the 3 distinct persons in 1 God concept.
    It is admittedly not an easy concept to grasp - which is why some people try to make sense of it by defaulting to something easier, like modalism (one being with three faces it presents to the world) or tritheism (3 separate gods) or Arianism (only the Father is really God). I'm okay with not knowing exactly how it works; if I completely understood God, he wouldn't be God. "Three hypostases" is probably a better term than "three persons". There are hypostases in polytheistic religion, too. When polytheists made an idol, put it in a temple, and consecrated it to the god, the idol became another hypstasis of the god. That's what the Israelites were trying to do when Aaron made them a golden calf.

    Leave a comment:


  • rogue06
    replied
    Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post

    Is that your best shot?
    Must've stung.

    Leave a comment:


  • Hypatia_Alexandria
    replied
    Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
    Sounds far more qualified than a hausfrau firmly ensconced in her comfy chair frantically Googling.
    Is that your best shot?

    Leave a comment:


  • rogue06
    replied
    Originally posted by Hypatia_Alexandria View Post

    Caveat emptor.

    From his "blurb" on the Amazon site;

    John Campbell is a lawyer, magician, songwriter, photographer, video producer, adventure travel enthusiast, and history buff who lives with his family in the southern United States. John has been a trial lawyer for over twenty-five years, successfully handling cases all over the country. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock law school.John was the coauthor of a book on close up magic, Pure Imagination, before writing Cross-Examined: Putting Christianity on Trial, his dissection of Christianity and the case of apologists for the Christian God. John was raised in a Christian household but lost his faith in college, ironically in the process of tying to to strengthen it. Since that time he has had a profound interest in religion, especially Christianity.


    In other words he is an enthusiast.
    Sounds far more qualified than a hausfrau firmly ensconced in her comfy chair frantically Googling.

    Leave a comment:


  • JimL
    replied
    Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    Weren't you raised Catholic? YHWH is one God in three persons; one of those persons is the Son, Jesus. Revelation (not Revelations) is one book of the Bible where the thrones are mentioned; they're also mentioned in Matthew, Luke, Acts and Hebrews. Jesus is depicted as being seated at the right hand of God (the Father); the right hand is the position closest in power to the throne.
    Yes, so, there are no real thrones, or 3 physical bodies as Revelation portrays it of course. But then, if there are not 3 physical bodies what does 3 distinct persons in one God mean? Three spiritual bodies in one? Three distinct individual minds in one? No, that doesn't quite make sense either.
    So, I don't know. Can you make it clear? How do you make sense of the Trinity idea? I just cant seem to make sense of the 3 distinct persons in 1 God concept.

    Leave a comment:


  • Hypatia_Alexandria
    replied
    Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    The journey begins.

    --------------

    How shall we begin this one? Let's plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Rather than continue going through the 101 reasons book, we'll go through this one seeing as it seems a bit meatier. As I started reading through, I was pleased to see the topic seemed to be taken seriously. It's sad that I was relieved that nothing was said about Jesus existing at the start of the work. Too many atheists out there think that is some hot debate in the academic world. (Spoiler alert. It isn't.)

    The book is by a guy named John Campbell who I think says he is a lawyer, which got me thinking this could probably be a bit more rigorous. In some ways, it is. In others, I do find myself being disappointed again.

    Today, we're just going to look at the introduction. First, one noteworthy point is that he says Christians have their view of Jesus too colored by Paul. In some ways, there can be a sense in which we ignore the Gospels and go to the epistles where we think the doctrine is. However, the main point to establish is that Campbell says never met Jesus or heard His teachings.

    To begin with, this is just an argument from silence. We don't have any record of Paul encountering Jesus, to be sure, but that is a far cry from saying it never happened. Arguments from silence like this are just weak. Not only that, we have Paul's work in Galatians that no one disputes that says that he met with the disciples for a prolonged period and as has been said, we can be sure that they weren't talking about the weather. Paul would have known the teachings of Jesus.

    Not only that, Clement of Rome was the disciple of Peter and Polycarp that of John. Both of them praised Paul. Hard to think they would praise someone who got the teachings of Jesus that their main mentors had taught them wrong.

    Of course, there is a statement against miracles.
    This is the primary reason historians reject miracle claims–miracles have no demonstrable analogy in the present. They don’t reflect the way we currently understand the world to work. They violate natural laws for which scientists have never demonstrated a violation. Because historians work in probabilities, the principle of analogy requires that miracle claims be assigned very low probabilities.

    To begin with, this book came out this year. Keener's work has been out for some time on miracles and yet, there is no interaction with either of his books on the topic. Second, one can say they don't reflect the way we understand the world to work. I shall blow Campbell's mind and say they don't reflect the way ancient people knew the world to work either. They recognized miracles as exceptions for a reason.

    Finally, it is question-begging to say we have never observed a violation of natural laws. If anyone does say they have seen a miracle, their testimony is discounted. Why? We know that's not how the world works. How do we know that? Because it's never been seen. One would think that Hume would be evoked so at least he wasn't. It's not a shock that Earman's work on Hume was not referenced either.

    We are also told Jesus did not write anything down. Indeed! Most great teachers didn't as Sandy and Walton show in The Lost World of Scripture. Then we are told that the writings in the Gospels are anonymous, despite the church fathers practically agreeing universally on who wrote them. As to why they are anonymous, E.P. Sanders wrote that
    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.

    He also says the Gospels contain fiction since even Gary Habermas, Mike Licona, and Bill Craig all say the resurrection of the saints didn't happen in Matthew 27. That doesn't mean first that those people are interpreting it as if it was a fictional account made up. They all say there is a reason for it being there. However, even more concerning is that Gary Habermas has never said it's a fiction at all. I even emailed him to ask him if he had ever said that and received a reply of no, he had never said the resurrection of the saints is a fiction.

    He does say that after Jesus's crucifixion, Jesus's brother James took up the movement. There is no interaction with N.T. Wright pointing out that James was never said to be the Messiah, which would be an easy claim to make if one Messiah figure falls. Perhaps that is addressed later, but here, it is not. He does go further though and say that James established a movement called the Nazarites, or the Way, or the Ebionites. No evidence is given for any of this.

    He says Mark presents Jesus as entirely human. No effort to interact with the scholarship that disagrees. After all, there are plenty of ways for Jesus to show His deity besides getting up on a mountain and saying "Hi, everyone! I'm Jesus, but you may also know me as God!"

    He also says Jesus's family being shocked at what He was doing doesn't make sense in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke since they mention a virgin birth (Which I do affirm), but he gives no reason for this. Was the family to have perfect theology and know entirely the plan of the Messiah from the get-go? The oldest son anyway was to provide for the family and Jesus wasn't doing that. He also wasn't acting the way the Messiah was supposed to act.

    He does say that we can be sure Jesus taught the Kingdom of God since it would be embarrassing to put it in since that Kingdom didn't come. As an orthodox Preterist, I contend that that Kingdom did come. Jesus is king right now. We will see if this is dealt with any more when we get deeper into the book.

    Again, this book is better than most, but considering the most, that might not be saying a lot. We shall see more as we go on through and see how it holds up in the end.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters
    (And I affirm the virgin birth)
    Caveat emptor.

    From his "blurb" on the Amazon site;

    John Campbell is a lawyer, magician, songwriter, photographer, video producer, adventure travel enthusiast, and history buff who lives with his family in the southern United States. John has been a trial lawyer for over twenty-five years, successfully handling cases all over the country. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in Virginia and from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock law school.John was the coauthor of a book on close up magic, Pure Imagination, before writing Cross-Examined: Putting Christianity on Trial, his dissection of Christianity and the case of apologists for the Christian God. John was raised in a Christian household but lost his faith in college, ironically in the process of tying to to strengthen it. Since that time he has had a profound interest in religion, especially Christianity.


    In other words he is an enthusiast.

    Leave a comment:


  • rogue06
    replied
    Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    Did Paul invent Christianity?

    --------------

    How did Paul influence Christianity? Let's plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    That there was a wide divide between what Paul taught and what Christianity taught kind of died out with the work of E.P. Sanders and Paul and Palestinian Judaism. Nevertheless, never underestimate the ability of internet atheists who don't believe in the resurrection of Jesus to fully embrace resurrecting bad ideas about Jesus. Such is the case with John Campbell.

    For instance, he says Paul's theology included ideas of original sin and man needing to turn to Jesus through faith in His resurrection for salvation. He says there is no good evidence outside of Paul's letters that anyone believed such things before Paul wrote. He adds that many critical New Testament scholars believe Paul invented them.

    First, we wait to hear what these writings were that would have existed before Paul wrote his letters. There are some scholars who can date the Gospels before that, but I have no reason to think Campbell would accept that.

    Second, he says that some apologists point to 1 Cor. 15:3 as predating Paul, which is the passage of Christ died, buried, and rose again according to the Scriptures. He says there is no good reason to believe it did not originate from Paul. No good reason at all, except, you know, the language of passed on and received which refers to oral tradition, the cadence being that of a creed, and the usage of non-Pauline words in there.

    Third, he does not tell us which critical scholars it is that think that Paul invented these ideas. I think we know why.

    Besides that, if Paul invented these ideas and changed Christianity, why is that not reflected in the Gospels which is dated later? The Gospels do not address issues that are being talked about in Paul's letters many times. In many surprising cases, they don't really have a lot of theology. Consider the resurrection accounts. Throughout Mattew, you find Him pointing to prophetic fulfillment over and over. Get to the resurrection and there's nothing, not even a single verse of Scripture cited. The resurrection is not explained in terms of atonement or anything like that.

    With Paul's conversion, Campbell makes a big deal about Paul saying the gospel was revealed in Him instead of to Him.

    To begin with, while it is fewer, there are some translations that do say "to me" instead of "in me." Second, even if it is that, what of it? This simply means there was a subjective component which is true. I am objectively in front of my laptop writing this, but I am subjectively experiencing it.

    He also says we only have Paul's word on His revelation which is convenient if you're wanting to fabricate a revelation. No reason given why Paul would want to do that, at least at this point. It's not like from a worldly perspective he was gaining a lot. From a theological perspective, if he was wrong, he was cutting himself off from YHWH by identifying with a blasphemer.

    So just starting off, this isn't looking too convincing on Campbell's part.

    We'll continue another time.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters
    (And I affirm the virgin birth)
    Today, virtually everyone accepts (including both conservative and liberal Christian, Jewish, Agnostic and even Atheist scholars) that I Corinthians 15 contains a pre-Pauline creedal statement that Paul is relating.

    Leave a comment:

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