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Resurrection of Jesus: how strong is Matthew's testimony?

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  • Resurrection of Jesus: how strong is Matthew's testimony?

    Somebody challenged me in a prior posting to provide an alternative to the resurrection of Jesus:

    Originally posted by Christianbookworm
    Inerrancy is not even an essential doctrine. Go figure out an alternative to the Resurrection of Jesus and prove that it's a better explanation.
    I devote this OP to just the subject of whether and to what extent the gospel of Matthew contributes toward the evidence in favor of the resurrection of Jesus. Matthew is the chronologically first gospel in the modern NT, so it makes sense to start at the beginning. I will create new OPs in the future, dedicated to other NT books and accounts, after I have determined that I've answered the best objections that you have been able to post here.

    Before you can use a gospel to establish the resurrection of Jesus, you must be able to defend its having been written by a resurrection eyewitness, or defend the reliability of the author's reliance on hearsay. But that requires that you first establish who the real author is.

    The only way you could possibly know that Matthew authored that gospel is either because a) the gospel says he did, or includes evidence that Matthew is the author, or b) other sources, sufficiently reliable to withstand scrutiny, claim he wrote it. If you think atheists are stupid for denying that Jesus rose from the dead, then you aren't just saying you can prove that there is eyewitness testimony to it, you are saying that eyewitness testimony survives criticism so well that only willful ignorance and love of sin can explain the informed persons continued rejection of it.

    That's the consequences when you overstate your case. Yet you probably know perfectly well the disagreements among scholars on the subject of Matthew's authorship. You aren't significant enough to obligate an atheist with kids, a job and life to devote his free time to studying this complex subject sufficiently just to make sure you don't accuse him of running away. Like you, I've done my research. Like you, I've decided how much time to devote to it and how much to devote to my family and life outside of the computer. Like you, I've reached conclusions about these scholarly disagreements which laymen have no hope of resolving. And like you, since I am confident my conclusions are correct, I correspondingly cease putting these matters at issue in my life. They are too complex and unresolvable to rationally justify the average adult man with a life outside his computer to constantly discuss to death, as is the procedure at tweb. I will reply to those who attempt rebuttal, but I will not "live at the computer" they way you do. Unfortunately for you, I've found that talking to Christians in real life face to face is a far easier way to get them to honestly admit their fundie faith isn't quite as certain as they wish.

    The internal evidence for Matthian authorship is so scanty that not even conservative evangelical scholars, who have the greatest motivation to derive traditional authorship out of every last bit of evidence they can come up with, find it significant enough to even mention. Craig Blomberg was the scholar who wrote the Matthew commentary for the conservative evangelical "New American Commentary", (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers), and he never argues that some text in Matthew points to Matthian authorship. What are the odds that Blomberg thinks any such texts do that, but he just "forgot" about then while composing his commentary? If you think you'll make a convert due to Matthew's unique words that suggest a tax-collector wrote them, you are sadly mistaken.

    And the synoptic problem, for which most scholars say Matthew copied from Mark, raises the thorny question of how likely it is that a divinely inspired eyewitness (Matthew) would be to depend so heavily on the account written by a non-eyewitness (Mark). The fact that you can dream up exceptions only establishes the general rule that you still need to overcome: Those with personal first-hand knowledge of the events may be safely assumed when testifying to not depend on non-eyewitness accounts, and that will carry the day until you establish that this was an exceptional case. And your belief that Matthew was divinely inspired cuts off any opportunity for you to raise concerns about Matthew's memory failing him.

    So that leaves you solely with external evidence, and in that case, you are left with the only two testimonies that are considered the major players in scholarly treatments of the subject, the earliest of the evidence: Eusebius and Papias.

    Eusebius of Caesarea was the secretary to 4th century Constantine, and wrote the first major history of the church, creatively titled "History of the Church". Therein he quotes second-century church father Papias for the proposition that Matthew wrote a gospel:

    These things are related by Papias concerning Mark. But concerning Matthew he writes as follows: "So then Matthew wrote the oracles in the Hebrew language, and every one interpreted them as he was able." And the same writer uses testimonies from the first Epistle of John and from that of Peter likewise. And he relates another story of a woman, who was accused of many sins before the Lord, which is contained in the Gospel according to the Hebrews. These things we have thought it necessary to observe in addition to what has been already stated.
    Eusebius, Church History, Book 3, chapter 39
    Even limiting this OP to just Matthew might not have been enough narrowing, since the questions raised by this Papias-quotation are also legion:

    1 - Eusebius gives no context to allow the reader to more accurately understand Papias. If Eusebius was being honest (i.e, nothing in the immediate context of Papias' statement within the "Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord" would have helped the reader draw more definite conclusions), then Papias was simply providing an anecdote, which likely means he wasn't writing for those who might challenge him, but for those who would readily agree with him, which thus makes the quote useless for those who differ from his intended audience and need to know more before they can decide whether he is credible or not. Or is this the part where you suddenly discover, contrary to everything you've ever believed, that "context doesn't matter"?

    2 - Eusebius' credibility is questioned due to his quotation of Papias without context. If Papias said something more in the context of what Eusebius quoted, which relate to what Papias meant or where he got his information, Eusebius can be accused of dishonesty for the same exact reason you accuse any atheist of dishonesty who doesn't provide relevant context when making a quotation.

    3 - Eusebius' Greek, the word "language" in the phrase "Hebrew language" is dialektos, and scholars disagree on whether this means Matthew wrote in Hebrew style, or with Hebrew lettering. If Hebrew lettering, there is a "gospel to the Hebrews" that Eusebius mentions immediately after his quotation of Papias (I included that part in the above quote too), and 4th century church fathers admit this "gospel to Hebrews" was believed by many in the church as being authentically from Matthew, which is a problem since the extant scraps of that gospel indicate it was heretical, which raises the nasty question of how a heretical document could have been mistaken for gospel truth by so many for so long:

    “There is a Gospel which the Nazarenes and Ebionites use, which I lately translated from the Hebrew tongue into Greek and which is called by many the authentic Gospel of Matthew" (Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 12:13).

    “In the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which is written in the Chaldee and Syrian language, but in Hebrew characters, and is used by the Nazarenes to this day (I mean the Gospel according to the Apostles, or, as is generally maintained, the Gospel according to Matthew, a copy of which is in the library at Caesarea), we find, "Behold, the mother of our Lord and His brethren said to Him, John Baptist baptizes for the remission of sins; let us go and be baptized by him. But He said to them, what sin have I committed that I should go and be baptized by him? Unless, haply, the very words which I have said are only ignorance."“ (Jerome, Against the Pelagians, 3:2)
    Eusebius stated that the Gospel to the Hebrews was the one with which the Jewish Christians were "especially delighted", which creates fatal problems for today's apologists who say the early Christians had a correct view of which books were inspired:

    And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews, with which those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted.
    Eusebius, Ibid, Book 3, chapter 25.
    4 - The majority scholarly opinion is that canonical Greek Matthew doesn't appear to be translation Greek. Conservative Evangelical scholar Craig Blomberg admits this just before his attempt to refute the scholarly majority:

    Largely because canonical Matthew does not betray very much evidence of having been translated literally from a Semitic tongue, most modern scholarship is inclined to discount the value of Papias’s testimony however it is interpreted.
    Blomberg, C. (2001, c1992). Vol. 22: Matthew (electronic ed.).
    Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Page 40). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
    5 - Papias allegedly said that the Hebrew Matthew gospel was "interpreted" (Greek: hermeneuo) by "every one". If it means "interpreted" as appears in most renderings of Eusebius, then nothing is stated about anybody doing translation. But if it means "translated", then this cements the original Matthew having been in Hebrew lettering, and the canonical Greek is the work of anonymous others whose credibility and honesty cannot be properly evaluated.

    I think that is quite enough. Papias' own credibility problems would justify a separate OP.

    This uncertainty in the scholarly world (Blomberg concludes that Matthew is strictly anonymous, ibid) makes it nearly certain that the gospel of Matthew can provide only the weakest of historical evidence. If you agree with most apologists that Matthew's testimony is unnecessary to use to make a strong case for the resurrection of Jesus, say so, and I'll move on to Mark.

    Which will be a rather short OP given that, under the scholarly majority opinion that the long-ending of Mark 16 is not original, Mark's gospel never says any human being ever saw the risen Jesus.
    Last edited by B&H; 03-28-2015, 07:38 PM.

  • #2
    You make a very strong case for calling the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew into question. I don't know why that would disqualify the gospel from consideration in the resurrection of Jesus, but you've convinced me that the gospel may very well have been written by some anonymous guy.
    Middle-of-the-road swing voter. Feel free to sway my opinion.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      That's the consequences when you overstate your case. Yet you probably know perfectly well the disagreements among scholars on the subject of Matthew's authorship. You aren't significant enough to obligate an atheist with kids, a job and life to devote his free time to studying this complex subject sufficiently just to make sure you don't accuse him of running away. Like you, I've done my research. Like you, I've decided how much time to devote to it and how much to devote to my family and life outside of the computer. Like you, I've reached conclusions about these scholarly disagreements which laymen have no hope of resolving. And like you, since I am confident my conclusions are correct, I correspondingly cease putting these matters at issue in my life. They are too complex and unresolvable to rationally justify the average adult man with a life outside his computer to constantly discuss to death, as is the procedure at tweb. I will reply to those who attempt rebuttal, but I will not "live at the computer" they way you do. Unfortunately for you, I've found that talking to Christians in real life face to face is a far easier way to get them to honestly admit their fundie faith isn't quite as certain as they wish.

      Off-topic but:

      1.Are the Christians you talk to face to face actually trained up in the faith and not just going through with the motions?
      2. You do realize out of all of us, you have been more active then most of us?
      3. Do you think any faith is a "fundie faith"?

      [I'll get to the OP a bit later, when I have more time.]
      "It's evolution; every time you invent something fool-proof, the world invents a better fool."
      -Unknown

      "Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words." - Most likely St.Francis


      I find that evolution is the best proof of God.
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      • #4
        B&H,

        Do you know why the gospel attributed to Matthew is attributed to him? There is a reason, whether he wrote the account or not.
        . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

        . . . 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.

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

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Yttrium View Post
          You make a very strong case for calling the authorship of the Gospel of Matthew into question. I don't know why that would disqualify the gospel from consideration in the resurrection of Jesus, but you've convinced me that the gospel may very well have been written by some anonymous guy.
          We ain't done yet. If I'm not banned, I will continue posting separate threads for each book of the NT relevant to the subject of how that book can support or not support the resurrection hypothesis.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by 37818 View Post
            B&H,

            Do you know why the gospel attributed to Matthew is attributed to him? There is a reason, whether he wrote the account or not.
            The answer from Christian scholars is that the earliest traditions on that question say Matthew wrote it. The earliest such tradition is Eusebius quoting Papias. And my OP does a good job at explaining exactly why most modern scholars think Eusebius' contribution created more questions than answers.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by B&H View Post
              The answer from Christian scholars is that the earliest traditions on that question say Matthew wrote it. The earliest such tradition is Eusebius quoting Papias. And my OP does a good job at explaining exactly why most modern scholars think Eusebius' contribution created more questions than answers.
              However, the gospel was incorporated into the Bible with Christians knowing full well that the identity of the author was uncertain at best. Christians typically believe that the gospel was inspired by God; that it was basically written by God through man. Keeping that in mind, it really doesn't matter which human wrote it. This is why I don't see how an unidentified author would disqualify the gospel from consideration in the resurrection of Jesus.
              Middle-of-the-road swing voter. Feel free to sway my opinion.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by B&H View Post
                The only way you could possibly know that Matthew authored that gospel is either because a) the gospel says he did, or includes evidence that Matthew is the author, or b) other sources, sufficiently reliable to withstand scrutiny, claim he wrote it.
                So the unanimous opinion of antiquity is worthless, IYO?
                That's the consequences when you overstate your case.
                Then why do you so consistently overstate YOUR case?
                Yet you probably know perfectly well the disagreements among scholars on the subject of Matthew's authorship. You aren't significant enough to obligate an atheist with kids, a job and life to devote his free time to studying this complex subject sufficiently just to make sure you don't accuse him of running away.
                You work part time - or has that changed recently?
                Like you, I've done my research. Like you, I've decided how much time to devote to it and how much to devote to my family and life outside of the computer. Like you, I've reached conclusions about these scholarly disagreements which laymen have no hope of resolving.

                And like you, since I am confident my conclusions are correct, I correspondingly cease putting these matters at issue in my life.
                If you're that confident, you're in the wrong place. Tweb is here for discussion, not to be a blog platform.

                I will reply to those who attempt rebuttal, but I will not "live at the computer" they way you do. Unfortunately for you, I've found that talking to Christians in real life face to face is a far easier way to get them to honestly admit their fundie faith isn't quite as certain as they wish.
                It is far easier to bury people with a load of BS in real life, since they don't have time to think things through and formulate a considered response.
                The internal evidence for Matthian authorship is so scanty that not even conservative evangelical scholars, who have the greatest motivation to derive traditional authorship out of every last bit of evidence they can come up with, find it significant enough to even mention. Craig Blomberg was the scholar who wrote the Matthew commentary for the conservative evangelical "New American Commentary", (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers), and he never argues that some text in Matthew points to Matthian authorship. What are the odds that Blomberg thinks any such texts do that, but he just "forgot" about then while composing his commentary? If you think you'll make a convert due to Matthew's unique words that suggest a tax-collector wrote them, you are sadly mistaken.
                Strawman. Most ancient documents do not internally identify the author.
                And the synoptic problem, for which most scholars say Matthew copied from Mark, raises the thorny question of how likely it is that a divinely inspired eyewitness (Matthew) would be to depend so heavily on the account written by a non-eyewitness (Mark). The fact that you can dream up exceptions only establishes the general rule that you still need to overcome: Those with personal first-hand knowledge of the events may be safely assumed when testifying to not depend on non-eyewitness accounts, and that will carry the day until you establish that this was an exceptional case. And your belief that Matthew was divinely inspired cuts off any opportunity for you to raise concerns about Matthew's memory failing him.
                What 'thorny question'? Assuming Markan priority, Matthew presumably saw a copy of Mark and decided to rearrange the material and flesh it out some. If Mark's information was correct, there's zero reason for Matthew not to incorporate it as long as he felt it to be a useful inclusion.
                So that leaves you solely with external evidence, and in that case, you are left with the only two testimonies that are considered the major players in scholarly treatments of the subject, the earliest of the evidence: Eusebius and Papias.
                Can you point to scholarly dismissals of the evidence from Irenaeus and Origen?

                Eusebius of Caesarea was the secretary to 4th century Constantine,
                Not really. Eusebius wrote a Life of Constantine, but they only appear to have met in person a couple times (per T. D. Barnes, from Constantine and Eusebius).
                and wrote the first major history of the church, creatively titled "History of the Church". Therein he quotes second-century church father Papias for the proposition that Matthew wrote a gospel:

                Even limiting this OP to just Matthew might not have been enough narrowing, since the questions raised by this Papias-quotation are also legion:

                1 - Eusebius gives no context to allow the reader to more accurately understand Papias. If Eusebius was being honest (i.e, nothing in the immediate context of Papias' statement within the "Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord" would have helped the reader draw more definite conclusions), then Papias was simply providing an anecdote, which likely means he wasn't writing for those who might challenge him, but for those who would readily agree with him, which thus makes the quote useless for those who differ from his intended audience and need to know more before they can decide whether he is credible or not. Or is this the part where you suddenly discover, contrary to everything you've ever believed, that "context doesn't matter"?
                Ancient writers generally didn't have the room to provide context; your complaint here invalidates every single quote in every single ancient document. Context can matter in matters of interpretation, but a stated historical anecdote can stand alone as far as I can see. Are you deliberately ignoring genre? And you are making all sorts of assertions about Papias' intent which are entirely unsupported.
                2 - Eusebius' credibility is questioned due to his quotation of Papias without context. If Papias said something more in the context of what Eusebius quoted, which relate to what Papias meant or where he got his information, Eusebius can be accused of dishonesty for the same exact reason you accuse any atheist of dishonesty who doesn't provide relevant context when making a quotation.
                Again, ancient writers generally did not quote context; you can accuse every ancient writer who quotes something of dishonesty. Then again, perhaps the context simply wasn't relevant.
                3 - Eusebius' Greek, the word "language" in the phrase "Hebrew language" is dialektos, and scholars disagree on whether this means Matthew wrote in Hebrew style, or with Hebrew lettering. If Hebrew lettering, there is a "gospel to the Hebrews" that Eusebius mentions immediately after his quotation of Papias (I included that part in the above quote too), and 4th century church fathers admit this "gospel to Hebrews" was believed by many in the church as being authentically from Matthew, which is a problem since the extant scraps of that gospel indicate it was heretical, which raises the nasty question of how a heretical document could have been mistaken for gospel truth by so many for so long:
                You're dishonestly summarizing the information provided. Jerome does not say, as you allege, that those who believed the 'gospel to the Hebrews' to be authentically from Matthew were in the church (in fact, it appears from your quote that this allegation was made by the Nazarenes, who were considered heretics). And Jerome is one father, not 'fathers.'
                Eusebius stated that the Gospel to the Hebrews was the one with which the Jewish Christians were "especially delighted", which creates fatal problems for today's apologists who say the early Christians had a correct view of which books were inspired:
                You sort of left out the context that Eusebius classes the "Gospel to the Hebrews" as a "rejected writing." And heretics aren't considered by apologists to have a correct view of which books were inspired. You're, um, overstating your conclusion here.
                4 - The majority scholarly opinion is that canonical Greek Matthew doesn't appear to be translation Greek. Conservative Evangelical scholar Craig Blomberg admits this just before his attempt to refute the scholarly majority:
                Eusebius believed that Matthew wrote both:
                Source: Eusebius Questiones Ad Marinum

                (Comparing Matt. 28:1 to Jn.20:1)
                “For on the one hand the evangelist Matthew transmitted the gospel in the Hebrew language. On the other hand, having changed it to the Greek language, he said ‘the hour drawing towards dawn unto the Lord’s day, after the close of the Sabbath.’ Thus therefore, Matthew mentioned the time drawing towards the dawn of the Lord’s Day, ‘after the close of the Sabbaths [plural]’ not having said ‘the evening of the Sabbath’, nor ‘after the Sabbath [singular].’”

                © Copyright Original Source



                IMO an author writing his own translation would be more likely than anyone else to provide a translation that didn't look like one, especially if he's fluent in both languages. He would be able to translate 'thought for thought' since he knew exactly what he was attempting to convey in the original.
                5 - Papias allegedly said that the Hebrew Matthew gospel was "interpreted" (Greek: hermeneuo) by "every one". If it means "interpreted" as appears in most renderings of Eusebius, then nothing is stated about anybody doing translation. But if it means "translated", then this cements the original Matthew having been in Hebrew lettering, and the canonical Greek is the work of anonymous others whose credibility and honesty cannot be properly evaluated.
                The origin of the Greek hermeneuo is certainly 'interpreted.' Again, you're, um, overstating your case.
                I think that is quite enough. Papias' own credibility problems would justify a separate OP.
                Eusebius didn't think much of Papias himself, though he clearly believed Matthew to have been the author of the gospel. The odds of Eusebius uncritically accepting his word are not good.
                This uncertainty in the scholarly world (Blomberg concludes that Matthew is strictly anonymous, ibid) makes it nearly certain that the gospel of Matthew can provide only the weakest of historical evidence.
                Blomberg concludes that Matthew is "strictly anonymous" in the sense that the writing itself does not name him as the author. On the other hand, he states that "When all the evidence is amassed, there appears no conclusive proof for the apostle Matthew as author but no particularly cogent reason to deny this uniform early church tradition." He further observes that ascribing the work to a tax collector would not exactly have been a move calculated to engender acceptance of the writing. (This is shortly after your quote; since I can only work from the Google books version, I don't have access to page numbers).
                If you agree with most apologists that Matthew's testimony is unnecessary to use to make a strong case for the resurrection of Jesus, say so, and I'll move on to Mark.
                Why should I agree with your unqualified assertion? The resurrection of Christ is central to the gospel; the first Christian converts learned about it by direct oral testimony by eyewitnesses; the written reports came rather later.
                Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  We ain't done yet. If I'm not banned, I will continue posting separate threads for each book of the NT relevant to the subject of how that book can support or not support the resurrection hypothesis.
                  tumblr_inline_n29kpt6wxu1qf8v63.gif

                  Do you really think you're going to be banned?

                  How many times have I told you that you have to violate Decorum to get banned?

                  Are you actually responding to what people say, or just blogging your own view points?
                  "It's evolution; every time you invent something fool-proof, the world invents a better fool."
                  -Unknown

                  "Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words." - Most likely St.Francis


                  I find that evolution is the best proof of God.
                  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  I support the :
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Yttrium View Post
                    However, the gospel was incorporated into the Bible with Christians knowing full well that the identity of the author was uncertain at best. Christians typically believe that the gospel was inspired by God; that it was basically written by God through man. Keeping that in mind, it really doesn't matter which human wrote it. This is why I don't see how an unidentified author would disqualify the gospel from consideration in the resurrection of Jesus.
                    It wouldn't, except in the case where the apologist seeks to convince non-Christians. Then suddenly, relying on anonymous ancient testimony becomes rather stupid, hence motivating apologists to engage in mission impossible and attempt to establish who the author was.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by B&H View Post
                      It wouldn't, except in the case where the apologist seeks to convince non-Christians. Then suddenly, relying on anonymous ancient testimony becomes rather stupid, hence motivating apologists to engage in mission impossible and attempt to establish who the author was.
                      I see. Well then, carry on.
                      Middle-of-the-road swing voter. Feel free to sway my opinion.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                        Quote Originally Posted by B&H View Post
                        The only way you could possibly know that Matthew authored that gospel is either because a) the gospel says he did, or includes evidence that Matthew is the author, or b) other sources, sufficiently reliable to withstand scrutiny, claim he wrote
                        it.
                        So the unanimous opinion of antiquity is worthless, IYO?
                        No, opinion of antiquity would fall under "other sources". But either way, the opinion of antiquity was not unanimous. Did you not see my quotations from Jerome who admitted the Gospel to Hebrews was believed by many to be authentic Matthew? If the surviving scraps we have of GoH are reliable, this was a heretical gospel that today's fundie Christians would say wasn't written by Matthew, and there you go....many in the ancient church saying Matthew's gospel was a document different than the Matthew we have today.
                        And the synoptic problem, for which most scholars say Matthew copied from Mark, raises the thorny question of how likely it is that a divinely inspired eyewitness (Matthew) would be to depend so heavily on the account written by a non-eyewitness (Mark). The fact that you can dream up exceptions only establishes the general rule that you still need to overcome: Those with personal first-hand knowledge of the events may be safely assumed when testifying to not depend on non-eyewitness accounts, and that will carry the day until you establish that this was an exceptional case. And your belief that Matthew was divinely inspired cuts off any opportunity for you to raise concerns about Matthew's memory failing him.
                        What 'thorny question'? Assuming Markan priority, Matthew presumably saw a copy of Mark and decided to rearrange the material and flesh it out some.
                        But if Matthew was a real apostle, he would have had personal knowledge of the incidents recorded by Mark's text. It is unlikely he would rely to heavily on Mark for gospel events that Matthew had personal knowledge of. You aren't overcoming that by saying he went walking one day and suddenly decided to rearrange the stuff in mark's gospel.

                        If Mark's information was correct, there's zero reason for Matthew not to incorporate it as long as he felt it to be a useful inclusion.
                        There's zero reason for a divinely inspired eyewitness to rely as heavily on a non-eyewitness account, and you don't dare attempt to demonstate why you think Matthew is an exception.

                        So that leaves you solely with external evidence, and in that case, you are left with the only two testimonies that are considered the major players in scholarly treatments of the subject, the earliest of the evidence: Eusebius and Papias.
                        Can you point to scholarly dismissals of the evidence from Irenaeus and Origen?
                        First, you lost me. Irenaeus doesn't cite to Papias for purposes of authorship of Matthew.

                        Second, Eusebius himself insisted Irenaeus was wrong to associate Papias so closely to the apostles:

                        There are extant five books of Papias, which bear the title Expositions of Oracles of the Lord. Irenaeus makes mention of these as the only works written by him, in the following words: "These things are attested by Papias, an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book. For five books have been written by him." These are the words of Irenaeus. But Papias himself in the preface to his discourses by no means declares that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles, but he shows by the words which he uses that he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their friends. -----Church History, Book 3, chapter 39
                        Third, you also lost me on Origen, the works of Origen I have do not mention Papias. If you meant to say that Origen simply believed Matthew wrote Matthew as he states in the beginning of his commentary on Matthew, that constitutes nothing, since Origen there admits that he "learned by tradition" that Matthew wrote Matthew.

                        and wrote the first major history of the church, creatively titled "History of the Church". Therein he quotes second-century church father Papias for the proposition that Matthew wrote a gospel:
                        Even limiting this OP to just Matthew might not have been enough narrowing, since the questions raised by this Papias-quotation are also legion:
                        1 - Eusebius gives no context to allow the reader to more accurately understand Papias. If Eusebius was being honest (i.e, nothing in the immediate context of Papias' statement within the "Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord" would have helped the reader draw more definite conclusions), then Papias was simply providing an anecdote, which likely means he wasn't writing for those who might challenge him, but for those who would readily agree with him, which thus makes the quote useless for those who differ from his intended audience and need to know more before they can decide whether he is credible or not. Or is this the part where you suddenly discover, contrary to everything you've ever believed, that "context doesn't matter"?
                        Ancient writers generally didn't have the room to provide context;
                        You have no clue why exactly the quotation of Papias in Eusebius is so short, and you look stupid saying a man who wrote hundreds of pages of a church history (Eusebius) "didn't have the room" to supply even one more sentence that might have prevented all the scholarly uproar plaguing Christianity today.

                        your complaint here invalidates every single quote in every single ancient document.
                        It also agrees with conservative Christians that context is crucial for properly determining what a quoted author's disputed phrase meant. I don't have a problem at all with the way Eusebius quotes Papias. I have a problem with fundies who think Eusebius supplied enough information to render reasonably certain Matthew's authorship. Why is the vast majority of scholarship today against using Papias? Maybe its better to accuse most scholars of stupidity than to admit your case for Matthian authorship sucks a bit more than you give it credit for?

                        Context can matter in matters of interpretation, but a stated historical anecdote can stand alone as far as I can see.
                        And when there's no context around it, you get all the scholarly chaos we see today over what was meant, hence injuring the claim that Matthew's authorship of Matthew is the only reasonable hypothesis.

                        Are you deliberately ignoring genre?
                        I don't have to worry about genre. Unless you think all scholars are stupid, their use of Eusebius' quotation of Papias to establish something about Matthew's authorship, or to explain that the quote is too short to be useful, indicates unanimous agreement that Eusebius intended to set forth the quote of Papias to convince his readers of the authorship of Matthew, nothing less. So bleating in an unspecific way about "genre" is not going to accomplish anything.

                        And you are making all sorts of assertions about Papias' intent which are entirely unsupported.
                        We are far from done.

                        2 - Eusebius' credibility is questioned due to his quotation of Papias without context. If Papias said something more in the context of what Eusebius quoted, which relate to what Papias meant or where he got his information, Eusebius can be accused of dishonesty for the same exact reason you accuse any atheist of dishonesty who doesn't provide relevant context when making a quotation.
                        Again, ancient writers generally did not quote context;
                        Are you just brick stupid? You obviously have no familiarity whatsoever with Eusebius' "church history". He provides plenty of very long quotations. Stop talking about ancient writers generally not quoting context, since that doesn't apply to Eusebius.

                        you can accuse every ancient writer who quotes something of dishonesty.
                        Yes. There's no reason to think ancient authors knew any less the value of an out of context quote, any more than fundies do today.

                        Then again, perhaps the context simply wasn't relevant.
                        "Perhaps...." ? Did you forget that what you say here goes to the authorship of Matthew, which decides how strong the NT witness to the resurrection of Jesus is? You are doing no favors for the resurrection of Jesus by trying to resolve an authorship dispute in one of the testimonies, with a "perhaps."

                        3 - Eusebius' Greek, the word "language" in the phrase "Hebrew language" is dialektos, and scholars disagree on whether this means Matthew wrote in Hebrew style, or with Hebrew lettering. If Hebrew lettering, there is a "gospel to the Hebrews" that Eusebius mentions immediately after his quotation of Papias (I included that part in the above quote too), and 4th century church fathers admit this "gospel to Hebrews" was believed by many in the church as being authentically from Matthew, which is a problem since the extant scraps of that gospel indicate it was heretical, which raises the nasty question of how a heretical document could have been mistaken for gospel truth by so many for so long:
                        You're dishonestly summarizing the information provided. Jerome does not say, as you allege, that those who believed the 'gospel to the Hebrews' to be authentically from Matthew were in the church (in fact, it appears from your quote that this allegation was made by the Nazarenes, who were considered heretics).
                        First, if it was Jerome's opinion that "only the heretics believe GoH was written by Matthew", he surely would have qualified the "many" instead of leaving it generalized.

                        Second, you are ignoring my second quotation from Jerome in which he says the calling GoH the Gospel of the apostles or the Gospel of Matthew is a classification that was "generally maintained". Another unqualified statement, and nothing in the context indicates he was limiting that to just what the heretics believed. You also forget that Jerome confessed to translating that document from Hebrew to Greek, translation work in those days was painfully slow, and if Jerome seriously thought this work was heretical, he would never have bothered to translate it into Greek any more than you'd be likely to finance publication of your worst enemy's books.

                        Eusebius stated that the Gospel to the Hebrews was the one with which the Jewish Christians were "especially delighted", which creates fatal problems for today's apologists who say the early Christians had a correct view of which books were inspired:
                        You sort of left out the context that Eusebius classes the "Gospel to the Hebrews" as a "rejected writing."
                        You sort of changed "disputed" to "rejected", in your dishonest attempt to make it appear the heretical nature of GoH was clearer to 4th century Christians than it really was. You also sort of left out the fact that in the context, Eusedbius says SOME have placed

                        And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews, with which those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted. And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books. ---Eusebius, HE, ch. 25

                        And heretics aren't considered by apologists to have a correct view of which books were inspired. You're, um, overstating your conclusion here.
                        Then you should reject everything Eusebius said about the canon because he was a closet-Arian, meaning he denied the Nicene view of Christ's equality with the Father, and I'm talking about Eusebius of Caesarea, not Nicomedia:

                        After some delay Eusebius subscribed to the uncompromising creed drawn up by the council, making no secret, in the letter which he wrote to his own Church, of the non-natural sense in which he accepted it.
                        4 - The majority scholarly opinion is that canonical Greek Matthew doesn't appear to be translation Greek. Conservative Evangelical scholar Craig Blomberg admits this just before his attempt to refute the scholarly majority:
                        Eusebius believed that Matthew wrote both:
                        Ok, so you have nothing to say to rebut the scholarly majority opinion that canonical Greek Matthew doesn't appear to be translation Greek?

                        Source: Eusebius Questiones Ad Marinum

                        (Comparing Matt. 28:1 to Jn.20:1)
                        “For on the one hand the evangelist Matthew transmitted the gospel in the Hebrew language. On the other hand, having changed it to the Greek language, he said ‘the hour drawing towards dawn unto the Lord’s day, after the close of the Sabbath.’ Thus therefore, Matthew mentioned the time drawing towards the dawn of the Lord’s Day, ‘after the close of the Sabbaths [plural]’ not having said ‘the evening of the Sabbath’, nor ‘after the Sabbath [singular].’”
                        © Copyright Original Source
                        Can you cite the actual source? And since I think you are copying and pasting work from somebody else, I will ask you to post here anything you wish from the page of that work immediately after the page on which your quote appears.

                        And even if your quote is accurate, so? Eusebius also believed Jesus really wrote a letter to King Abgarus. Do you know any scholars who seriously entertain that? He also only adopted the Nicene Creed in a non-natural sense of the language. I seriously doubt you can ward off the witness of the modern scholarly majority by simply holding tight to Eusebius.

                        IMO an author writing his own translation would be more likely than anyone else to provide a translation that didn't look like one, especially if he's fluent in both languages. He would be able to translate 'thought for thought' since he knew exactly what he was attempting to convey in the original.
                        The same type of logic that says a divinely inspired eyewitness likely wouldn't depend heavily on the work of a non-eyewitness.

                        I don't claim to know the absolute truth about the origin of the gospel of Matthew, but I claim that the existing evidence is not sufficiently conclusive for fundies to pretend the witness of Matthew to the resurrection of Jesus is beyond reasonable doubt.

                        5 - Papias allegedly said that the Hebrew Matthew gospel was "interpreted" (Greek: hermeneuo) by "every one". If it means "interpreted" as appears in most renderings of Eusebius, then nothing is stated about anybody doing translation. But if it means "translated", then this cements the original Matthew having been in Hebrew lettering, and the canonical Greek is the work of anonymous others whose credibility and honesty cannot be properly evaluated.
                        The origin of the Greek hermeneuo is certainly 'interpreted.' Again, you're, um, overstating your case.
                        I'm not overstating anything. The origin of Greek Matthew is so obscure, the best you could do to document its history is cite a writing of Eusebius that is mostly unpublished, without given an actual name for the source, which appears in a work that is so obscure, it is not even mentioned in standard conservative introductions to Matthew. If you know of any commentary that depends on the Questiones Ad Marinum to establish anything about the gospel of Matthew, please quote it or cite it.

                        I think that is quite enough. Papias' own credibility problems would justify a separate OP.
                        Eusebius didn't think much of Papias himself, though he clearly believed Matthew to have been the author of the gospel. The odds of Eusebius uncritically accepting his word are not good.
                        Origen "clearly believed Matthew to have been the author of the gospel", but he also admits he learned it by tradition. The specter of the 'unanimous view' of the ancient church on Matthew being nothing but a bunch of people relying uncritically on the Papias tradition, remains.

                        This uncertainty in the scholarly world (Blomberg concludes that Matthew is strictly anonymous, ibid) makes it nearly certain that the gospel of Matthew can provide only the weakest of historical evidence.
                        Blomberg concludes that Matthew is "strictly anonymous" in the sense that the writing itself does not name him as the author. On the other hand, he states that "When all the evidence is amassed, there appears no conclusive proof for the apostle Matthew as author but no particularly cogent reason to deny this uniform early church tradition." He further observes that ascribing the work to a tax collector would not exactly have been a move calculated to engender acceptance of the writing. (This is shortly after your quote; since I can only work from the Google books version, I don't have access to page numbers).
                        Ahh, so that's how you do this stuff. Now I have good reason to believe the only reason you know about the Questiones Ad Marinum and what it says about Matthew authorship is because you lifted that quotation from a place you found with google, specifically, http://hebrewgospel.com/Matthew%20Tw...20Evidence.php. That tells me you likely don't know squat about that work.

                        If you agree with most apologists that Matthew's testimony is unnecessary to use to make a strong case for the resurrection of Jesus, say so, and I'll move on to Mark.
                        Why should I agree with your unqualified assertion?
                        Did you miss the fact that this was just a question, I wasn't asserting that Matthew's testimony is worthless?

                        The resurrection of Christ is central to the gospel;
                        No it isn't. Jesus never said a person must believe he rose from the dead in order to be saved, and that silence screams in the face of Paul who made resurrection into essential doctrine.

                        the first Christian converts learned about it by direct oral testimony by eyewitnesses; the written reports came rather later.
                        So far, we've bickered about details, but I don't see how anything in your reply did anything to overcome the scholarly majority opinion that the Papias evidence is essentially useless to determining the authorship of Matthew. And I think Eusebius' own dishonesty about his own Christian confession impeaches his credibility irreparably. If can say he accepts the Nicene creed while interpreting it a non-natural sense, that is no different than a Mormon who "accepts the Trinity", but who advocates a non-natural sense of the typical language used to describe the Trinity. In other words, a major church historian lying about what he really believes. ONly a lawyer would say you aren't lying if you accept a statement in a non-natural way. Everybody else knows perfectly well that accepting a statement in a non-natural way is just the way that sophists reject a statement without admitting they are indeed, rejecting it.

                        None of your bickering about Papias and church fathers will make this impeachment disappear. I think the case for Matthian authorship is exactly as weak as the scholarly majority say, and I'm ready to move on to Mark, the gospel author upon whom NOBODY depends to establish the resurrection of Jesus.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by B&H View Post
                          No, opinion of antiquity would fall under "other sources". But either way, the opinion of antiquity was not unanimous. Did you not see my quotations from Jerome who admitted the Gospel to Hebrews was believed by many to be authentic Matthew? If the surviving scraps we have of GoH are reliable, this was a heretical gospel that today's fundie Christians would say wasn't written by Matthew, and there you go....many in the ancient church saying Matthew's gospel was a document different than the Matthew we have today.
                          The opinion of antiquity is unanimous that Matthew wrote the Gospel according to Matthew. That some people attributed another gospel to Matthew as well does not change this.
                          But if Matthew was a real apostle, he would have had personal knowledge of the incidents recorded by Mark's text.
                          Of course.
                          It is unlikely he would rely to heavily on Mark for gospel events that Matthew had personal knowledge of. You aren't overcoming that by saying he went walking one day and suddenly decided to rearrange the stuff in mark's gospel.
                          There's zero reason for a divinely inspired eyewitness to rely as heavily on a non-eyewitness account, and you don't dare attempt to demonstate why you think Matthew is an exception.
                          Why shouldn't he? If someone wrote a biography of a person I studied under, and I was aware of that biography and wanted to write my own, why in the world would I start from scratch, especially if I largely agreed with the contents? You're overstating your case again.
                          First, you lost me. Irenaeus doesn't cite to Papias for purposes of authorship of Matthew.
                          I didn't say he did. Irenaeus, however, does provide information on the authorship of Matthew. You asserted that scholars tended to only consider Eusebius and Papias.
                          Second, Eusebius himself insisted Irenaeus was wrong to associate Papias so closely to the apostles:
                          Source: Eusebius, Church History book 3 ch. 39

                          There are extant five books of Papias, which bear the title Expositions of Oracles of the Lord. Irenaeus makes mention of these as the only works written by him, in the following words: "These things are attested by Papias, an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book. For five books have been written by him." These are the words of Irenaeus. But Papias himself in the preface to his discourses by no means declares that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles, but he shows by the words which he uses that he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their friends.

                          © Copyright Original Source

                          Eusebius is recounting the evidence from Papias' writings. All he is saying here is that Papias does not claim in his writings to have been a hearer of John. As someone rather closer in time to Papias, Irenaeus may have had other sources of information. Again, you're overstating your case.
                          Third, you also lost me on Origen, the works of Origen I have do not mention Papias. If you meant to say that Origen simply believed Matthew wrote Matthew as he states in the beginning of his commentary on Matthew, that constitutes nothing, since Origen there admits that he "learned by tradition" that Matthew wrote Matthew.
                          Tradition? The horror!
                          You have no clue why exactly the quotation of Papias in Eusebius is so short, and you look stupid saying a man who wrote hundreds of pages of a church history (Eusebius) "didn't have the room" to supply even one more sentence that might have prevented all the scholarly uproar plaguing Christianity today.
                          Nice argument from silence.
                          It also agrees with conservative Christians that context is crucial for properly determining what a quoted author's disputed phrase meant. I don't have a problem at all with the way Eusebius quotes Papias. I have a problem with fundies who think Eusebius supplied enough information to render reasonably certain Matthew's authorship. Why is the vast majority of scholarship today against using Papias? Maybe its better to accuse most scholars of stupidity than to admit your case for Matthian authorship sucks a bit more than you give it credit for?
                          Maybe you should stop over-stating your case and mis-stating mine. IMO many scholars today are unreasonably skeptical, but they're not stupid. Holding ancient witnesses to today's standard of evidence is anachronistic at best, and invalidates every ancient witness (not only those who are witnesses to that with which you disagree).
                          I don't have to worry about genre. Unless you think all scholars are stupid, their use of Eusebius' quotation of Papias to establish something about Matthew's authorship, or to explain that the quote is too short to be useful, indicates unanimous agreement that Eusebius intended to set forth the quote of Papias to convince his readers of the authorship of Matthew, nothing less. So bleating in an unspecific way about "genre" is not going to accomplish anything.
                          I don't expect to convince you. Your mind is already made up; you've made that abundantly clear.
                          Originally posted by OBP
                          And you are making all sorts of assertions about Papias' intent which are entirely unsupported.
                          We are far from done.
                          Good luck discerning Papias' intent from a passage you think is too short to establish anything in the first place.
                          Are you just brick stupid? You obviously have no familiarity whatsoever with Eusebius' "church history". He provides plenty of very long quotations. Stop talking about ancient writers generally not quoting context, since that doesn't apply to Eusebius.
                          I have read Eusebius' Church History, as well as some even longer works. I agree, he sometimes provides very long quotations. That is not the same as providing 'context,' which is a modern concern. He provides what he considers useful, nothing more.
                          Originally posted by OBP
                          Then again, perhaps the context simply wasn't relevant.
                          "Perhaps...." ? Did you forget that what you say here goes to the authorship of Matthew, which decides how strong the NT witness to the resurrection of Jesus is? You are doing no favors for the resurrection of Jesus by trying to resolve an authorship dispute in one of the testimonies, with a "perhaps."
                          Seriously? Why should I be dogmatic about a sub-sub-sub-point for which I have no direct evidence?
                          First, if it was Jerome's opinion that "only the heretics believe GoH was written by Matthew", he surely would have qualified the "many" instead of leaving it generalized.

                          Second, you are ignoring my second quotation from Jerome in which he says the calling GoH the Gospel of the apostles or the Gospel of Matthew is a classification that was "generally maintained". Another unqualified statement, and nothing in the context indicates he was limiting that to just what the heretics believed. You also forget that Jerome confessed to translating that document from Hebrew to Greek, translation work in those days was painfully slow, and if Jerome seriously thought this work was heretical, he would never have bothered to translate it into Greek any more than you'd be likely to finance publication of your worst enemy's books.
                          Not ignoring anything, just looking at the extant witness of the church at large, which regularly used four gospels. It is specifically the Nazarenes who used the 'Gospel of the Hebrews' as their (only) gospel and thus it is they who 'generally maintained' that it was the gospel according to Matthew.
                          You sort of changed "disputed" to "rejected", in your dishonest attempt to make it appear the heretical nature of GoH was clearer to 4th century Christians than it really was. You also sort of left out the fact that in the context, Eusedbius says SOME have placed

                          And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews, with which those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted. And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books. ---Eusebius, HE, ch. 25
                          No, I didn't.
                          Source: Eusebius book 3.25.4-5

                          4.Among the rejected writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the so-called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter, and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas, and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles; and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books.

                          5. And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews, with which those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted. And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books.

                          © Copyright Original Source


                          Context! If you'd looked at the context of the quote, you'd not have made a fool of yourself.
                          Then you should reject everything Eusebius said about the canon because he was a closet-Arian, meaning he denied the Nicene view of Christ's equality with the Father, and I'm talking about Eusebius of Caesarea, not Nicomedia:
                          I am aware of Eusebius' Arian tendencies, thanks. I also know that he was honest enough to begrudgingly list Revelation with the accepted books, even though he plainly didn't consider it canonical himself.
                          Ok, so you have nothing to say to rebut the scholarly majority opinion that canonical Greek Matthew doesn't appear to be translation Greek?
                          I'm not qualified to make that assessment.
                          Can you cite the actual source? And since I think you are copying and pasting work from somebody else, I will ask you to post here anything you wish from the page of that work immediately after the page on which your quote appears.
                          Congratulations! You managed to follow the link I posted! I do happen to have a copy of Eusebius' Gospel Problems and Solutions at home which I can dig up, but you'll have to settle for two pages after since the immediate next page is in the original language for the following page.
                          And even if your quote is accurate, so? Eusebius also believed Jesus really wrote a letter to King Abgarus. Do you know any scholars who seriously entertain that? He also only adopted the Nicene Creed in a non-natural sense of the language. I seriously doubt you can ward off the witness of the modern scholarly majority by simply holding tight to Eusebius.
                          I'm not simply holding tight to Eusebius. He is only one of several sources who attribute the gospel to Matthew, and no extant witness claims some other person wrote it.
                          I don't claim to know the absolute truth about the origin of the gospel of Matthew, but I claim that the existing evidence is not sufficiently conclusive for fundies to pretend the witness of Matthew to the resurrection of Jesus is beyond reasonable doubt.
                          Assuming, for the sake of argument, that we don't know who the author is, how does that invalidate its witness?
                          I'm not overstating anything. The origin of Greek Matthew is so obscure, the best you could do to document its history is cite a writing of Eusebius that is mostly unpublished, without given an actual name for the source, which appears in a work that is so obscure, it is not even mentioned in standard conservative introductions to Matthew.
                          Do you enjoy contradicting yourself in consecutive sentences? The edition of Roger Pearse, which is actually published, is rather exhaustive. I gave the standard name of Eusebius' work. What 'standard conservative introductions to Matthew' have you read in order to support your statement?
                          If you know of any commentary that depends on the Questiones Ad Marinum to establish anything about the gospel of Matthew, please quote it or cite it.
                          Not having ready any book-length commentaries on Matthew of any sort, you have me at a disadvantage.
                          Origen "clearly believed Matthew to have been the author of the gospel", but he also admits he learned it by tradition. The specter of the 'unanimous view' of the ancient church on Matthew being nothing but a bunch of people relying uncritically on the Papias tradition, remains.
                          No, it doesn't. You may have heard of this concept of conveying information through speaking?
                          Ahh, so that's how you do this stuff. Now I have good reason to believe the only reason you know about the Questiones Ad Marinum and what it says about Matthew authorship is because you lifted that quotation from a place you found with google, specifically, http://hebrewgospel.com/Matthew%20Tw...20Evidence.php. That tells me you likely don't know squat about that work.
                          Yes, that is indeed the link I used (given that I linked to it in my post). Did you think I was hiding that information from you or something? And excuse me for not happening to have Blomberg's commentary to hand. Do you assume everyone has ready access to everything you do? As it stands, I have in fact read Questiones Ad Marinum, though I see no reason for someone to deliberately support their contention with a knowingly false quotation.
                          Did you miss the fact that this was just a question, I wasn't asserting that Matthew's testimony is worthless?
                          You were asserting that most apologists think that Matthew's testimony is unnecessary to make a strong case for the resurrection of Jesus. Why should I accept that assertion at face value?
                          No it isn't. Jesus never said a person must believe he rose from the dead in order to be saved, and that silence screams in the face of Paul who made resurrection into essential doctrine.
                          Paul did no such thing; the resurrection is central to Peter's speech in Acts 2. And Jesus certainly made a big deal about predicting it.
                          So far, we've bickered about details, but I don't see how anything in your reply did anything to overcome the scholarly majority opinion that the Papias evidence is essentially useless to determining the authorship of Matthew.
                          I think you're overstating your case again here. That Papias' evidence is not taken as rock solid hardly means that it is useless. What you're attempting to do here is create as much doubt about one particular source as possible. I'd rather take a look at the cumulative evidence.
                          And I think Eusebius' own dishonesty about his own Christian confession impeaches his credibility irreparably. If can say he accepts the Nicene creed while interpreting it a non-natural sense, that is no different than a Mormon who "accepts the Trinity", but who advocates a non-natural sense of the typical language used to describe the Trinity.
                          You're over-stating again. I have never seen a Mormon have a correct understanding of the Trinity, let alone purport to accept it.
                          In other words, a major church historian lying about what he really believes. ONly a lawyer would say you aren't lying if you accept a statement in a non-natural way. Everybody else knows perfectly well that accepting a statement in a non-natural way is just the way that sophists reject a statement without admitting they are indeed, rejecting it.

                          None of your bickering about Papias and church fathers will make this impeachment disappear. I think the case for Matthian authorship is exactly as weak as the scholarly majority say, and I'm ready to move on to Mark, the gospel author upon whom NOBODY depends to establish the resurrection of Jesus.
                          This coming from a guy who pretended to be a Christian when he came here. Hypocrite much?
                          Last edited by One Bad Pig; 03-30-2015, 04:54 PM.
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                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                            The opinion of antiquity is unanimous that Matthew wrote the Gospel according to Matthew. That some people attributed another gospel to Matthew as well does not change this.
                            I don't see the point of your trifle, since you have no hope of showing that any of the various sources were doing anything other than what Origen did, and came to their opinion on Matthew being the author, solely "by tradition" (i.e., uncritical acceptance of hand-me-down statements of teachers).
                            It is unlikely he would rely to heavily on Mark for gospel events that Matthew had personal knowledge of. You aren't overcoming that by saying he went walking one day and suddenly decided to rearrange the stuff in mark's gospel. There's zero reason for a divinely inspired eyewitness to rely as heavily on a non-eyewitness account, and you don't dare attempt to demonstate why you think Matthew is an exception.
                            Why shouldn't he?
                            Can you read? You think Matthew was an eyewitness of the facts, and you further hold that he was divinely inspired to record his memories in writing. It doesn't matter if you can think up possible scenarios in which Matthew might want to use Mark's text, it is perfectly reasonable to take the position I do, and you aren't going to prove your "he relied on a non-eyewitness" theory is more reasonable.

                            If someone wrote a biography of a person I studied under, and I was aware of that biography and wanted to write my own, why in the world would I start from scratch, especially if I largely agreed with the contents?
                            Gee, you can't think of a situation where a person with personal knowledge of a person in a biography written by a non-eyewitness, might wish to disregard the prior publication and make his own eyewitness account from scratch?

                            The person overstating their case is the blind fool who thinks there are too many exceptions to eyewitnesses wanting to write their own unique accounts to replace prior accounts written by non-eyewitnesses, so say that eyewitnesses who want to write a biography usually do so without extensively relying on non-eyewitness versions.

                            And I'm not saying eyewitnesses would never use non-eyewitness material, I'm saying they usually don't to the extent that Matthew used Mark's text.

                            First, you lost me. Irenaeus doesn't cite to Papias for purposes of authorship of Matthew.
                            I didn't say he did. Irenaeus, however, does provide information on the authorship of Matthew. You asserted that scholars tended to only consider Eusebius and Papias.
                            Please quote any place in the writings of Irenaeus where he "provide[s] information on the authorship of Matthew". He doesn't. He talks about Papias, but that's a far cry from saying something to link Matthew to the gospel.
                            Second, Eusebius himself insisted Irenaeus was wrong to associate Papias so closely to the apostles:
                            Eusebius is recounting the evidence from Papias' writings. All he is saying here is that Papias does not claim in his writings to have been a hearer of John.
                            No, he is saying Papias was not an eyewitness of the holy apostles (plural, not just 'John'), but that he only got the doctrines of the faith from the apostles' friends:

                            But Papias himself in the preface to his discourses by no means declares that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles, but he shows by the words which he uses that he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their friends.
                            As someone rather closer in time to Papias, Irenaeus may have had other sources of information. Again, you're overstating your case.
                            Is this where I impeach Irenaeus' credibility by reminding you that he believed Jesus didn't die until around age 50, and he wouldn't just say it and let it go, he had to insist that this 'old Jesus' view was handed down to him by the consistent direct apostolic tradition?
                            5. They, however, that they may establish their false opinion regarding that which is written, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,” maintain that He preached for one year only, and then suffered in the twelfth month. [In speaking thus], they are forgetful to their own disadvantage, destroying His whole work, and robbing Him of that age which is both more necessary and more honourable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which also as a teacher He excelled all others. For how could He have had disciples, if He did not teach? And how could He have taught, unless He had reached the age of a Master? For when He came to be baptized, He had not yet completed His thirtieth year, but was beginning to be about thirty years of age (for thus Luke, who has mentioned His years, has expressed it: “Now Jesus was, as it were, beginning to be thirty years old,”153 when He came to receive baptism); and, [according to these men, ] He preached only one year reckoning from His baptism. On completing His thirtieth year He suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age. Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years,154 and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth andfiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information.155 And he remained among them up to the times of Trajan.156 Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the [validity of] the statement. Whom then should we rather believe? Whether such men as these, or Ptolemaeus, who never saw the apostles, and who never even in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of an apostle?
                            Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 2, Chapter 22
                            Roberts, A., Donaldson, J., & Coxe, A. C. (1997). The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol.I :
                            Translations of the writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325.
                            The apostolic fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.
                            Roberts and Donaldson, Editors for the public domain version of the Fathers, do not attempt to explain this away, but frankly acknowledge it for exactly what it is, a giant error on Irenaeus' part:

                            With respect to this extraordinary assertion of Irenæus, Harvey remarks: “The reader may here perceive the unsatisfactory character of tradition, where a mere fact is concerned. From reasonings founded upon the evangelical history, as well as from a preponderance of external testimony, it is most certain that our Lord’s ministry extended but little over three years; yet here Irenæus states that it included more than ten years, and appeals to a tradition derived, as he says, from those who had conversed with an apostle”
                            http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iii.xxiii.html
                            You have a choice on how I attack Irenaeus' credibility: a - He knew better, but intentionally falsified a basic gospel truth, or b) he accurately conveyed the apostolic tradition, which by his time had suffered corruption so extensive that even how old Jesus was at death had become an unknown. It doesn't matter how you explain it, reasonable persons are not unreasonable for dismissing Irenaeus just like jurors who hear evidence impeaching a witness, dismiss the witness from consideration. I personally take nothing Irenaeus said as true unless it is corroborated by some other source whose credibility cannot be so impeached.

                            Third, you also lost me on Origen, the works of Origen I have do not mention Papias. If you meant to say that Origen simply believed Matthew wrote Matthew as he states in the beginning of his commentary on Matthew, that constitutes nothing, since Origen there admits that he "learned by tradition" that Matthew wrote Matthew.
                            Tradition? The horror!
                            Yeah, like the earlier tradition in Irenaeus about Jesus living into his 50's, which he said came directly from unbroken succession.

                            Moreoever, since Origen does not provide the reason he thinks the Matthew tradition is valid, Origen does not here contribute to the modern debate on whether Matthew really authored Matthew, anymore than you can contribute to the debate by repeating any tradition you learned from a seminary professor.

                            You have no clue why exactly the quotation of Papias in Eusebius is so short, and you look stupid saying a man who wrote hundreds of pages of a church history (Eusebius) "didn't have the room" to supply even one more sentence that might have prevented all the scholarly uproar plaguing Christianity today.
                            Nice argument from silence.
                            Arguments from silence are not automatically false:

                            Historians often face, however, another kind of problem, a problem created not because the sources disagree but because some of the sources report a piece of information and some do not. In such cases, historians can often surmise that the silences are deliberate, and further research can explain just why the authors of those sources would have suppressed that information. The silence speaks, in fact, of the motivations of those who chose to be silent on that particular issue.
                            From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods, Howell, Martha C., Cornell Univ. Press, 2001, page 74
                            If you did have any clue by the Papias quotation is so short in Eusebius, you more than likely wold have stated why.
                            It also agrees with conservative Christians that context is crucial for properly determining what a quoted author's disputed phrase meant. I don't have a problem at all with the way Eusebius quotes Papias. I have a problem with fundies who think Eusebius supplied enough information to render reasonably certain Matthew's authorship. Why is the vast majority of scholarship today against using Papias? Maybe its better to accuse most scholars of stupidity than to admit your case for Matthian authorship sucks a bit more than you give it credit for?
                            Maybe you should stop over-stating your case and mis-stating mine. IMO many scholars today are unreasonably skeptical, but they're not stupid. Holding ancient witnesses to today's standard of evidence is anachronistic at best, and invalidates every ancient witness (not only those who are witnesses to that with which you disagree).
                            You are an unforgivable fool for parroting that J.P. Holding garbage about anachronistic application of modern criteria onto ancient evidence. Is it not obvious to you that all modern books on historical method supply modern criteria for evaluating ancient sources? What, are all of today's historians wrong for refusing to evaluate ancient testimony on the basis of ancient standards?

                            I don't have to worry about genre. Unless you think all scholars are stupid, their use of Eusebius' quotation of Papias to establish something about Matthew's authorship, or to explain that the quote is too short to be useful, indicates unanimous agreement that Eusebius intended to set forth the quote of Papias to convince his readers of the authorship of Matthew, nothing less. So bleating in an unspecific way about "genre" is not going to accomplish anything.
                            I don't expect to convince you. Your mind is already made up; you've made that abundantly clear.
                            You lose that point.


                            And you are making all sorts of assertions about Papias' intent which are entirely unsupported.
                            We are far from done.
                            Good luck discerning Papias' intent from a passage you think is too short to establish anything in the first place.
                            No luck needed, since you truthfully admit that I think Eusebius' quote of Papias on Matthew's authorship is too short to establish anything in the first place. I am an atheist, I can live with historical puzzles for which the evidence cannot be made to go one way or the other. YOU are a fundamentalist Christian, and ambiguous evidence raises alarm bells in your mind, which is probably why you push this stuff as if it proves unbelievers know better and are just willfully turning away from truth. Not on your life.

                            Are you just brick stupid? You obviously have no familiarity whatsoever with Eusebius' "church history". He provides plenty of very long quotations. Stop talking about ancient writers generally not quoting context, since that doesn't apply to Eusebius.
                            I have read Eusebius' Church History, as well as some even longer works. I agree, he sometimes provides very long quotations. That is not the same as providing 'context,' which is a modern concern. He provides what he considers useful, nothing more.
                            Excuse me, you said "Ancient writers generally didn't have the room to provide context", to answer my criticism of Eusebius not providing context with his Papias-quote, and I proved you wrong false by pointing out that Eusebius had plenty of room to quote more Papias-context. The fact that Eusebius only quotes what he feels is necessary doesn't paper over your failed rebuttal about ancient writers not having enough room. We are thus left with Eusebius providing no context for his Papias-quote on Matthew, and with you being disallowed from trying to excuse the lack of context with "maybe he didn't have enough room".
                            Quote Originally Posted by OBP
                            Then again, perhaps the context simply wasn't relevant.
                            "Perhaps...." ? Did you forget that what you say here goes to the authorship of Matthew, which decides how strong the NT witness to the resurrection of Jesus is? You are doing no favors for the resurrection of Jesus by trying to resolve an authorship dispute in one of the testimonies, with a "perhaps."
                            Seriously? Why should I be dogmatic about a sub-sub-sub-point for which I have no direct evidence?
                            Good idea, you shouldn't be, but by failing to be, you admit the case for Matthian authorship is not so good that it morally constrains all reasonable people to believe it. Hence, you cannot call me unreasonable if I make a choice to render Matthew's resurrection testimony and too inconclusive to support a case for the resurrection of Jesus.

                            First, if it was Jerome's opinion that "only the heretics believe GoH was written by Matthew", he surely would have qualified the "many" instead of leaving it generalized. Second, you are ignoring my second quotation from Jerome in which he says the calling GoH the Gospel of the apostles or the Gospel of Matthew is a classification that was "generally maintained". Another unqualified statement, and nothing in the context indicates he was limiting that to just what the heretics believed. You also forget that Jerome confessed to translating that document from Hebrew to Greek, translation work in those days was painfully slow, and if Jerome seriously thought this work was heretical, he would never have bothered to translate it into Greek any more than you'd be likely to finance publication of your worst enemy's books.
                            Not ignoring anything, just looking at the extant witness of the church at large, which regularly used four gospels.
                            Ok, so you agree then that the "many" which held GoH to be authentic Matthew, was qualfied by Jerome as "generally maintained"? If not, you need to supply reasons from the context of Jerome's statement, why you think he was limited those phrases to just heretics, when the failure to qualify them would suggest that he was talking about the church generally.
                            It is specifically the Nazarenes who used the 'Gospel of the Hebrews' as their (only) gospel and thus it is they who 'generally maintained' that it was the gospel according to Matthew.
                            You sort of changed "disputed" to "rejected", in your dishonest attempt to make it appear the heretical nature of GoH was clearer to 4th century Christians than it really was. You also sort of left out the fact that in the context, Eusedbius says SOME have placed

                            And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews, with which those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted. And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books. ---Eusebius, HE, ch. 25
                            No, I didn't.
                            Source: Eusebius book 3.25.4-5

                            4.Among the rejected writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the so-called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter, and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas, and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles; and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books.

                            5. And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews, with which those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted. And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books.
                            Context! If you'd looked at the context of the quote, you'd not have made a fool of yourself.
                            I didn't make a fool of myself, Eusebius starts off saying he is listing "rejected" books, but immediately after mentioning GoH, he says these are among the "disputed" books. Had you examined Eusebius' larger context, which I gave you (where he says the Jewish Christians are especially delighted with GoH), you would have found that "disputed" is what Eusebius thought about GoH, not "rejected". Eusebius could have made himself clearer, but "disputed" is closet to his reference to GoH than his word "rejected".

                            Then you should reject everything Eusebius said about the canon because he was a closet-Arian, meaning he denied the Nicene view of Christ's equality with the Father, and I'm talking about Eusebius of Caesarea, not Nicomedia:
                            I am aware of Eusebius' Arian tendencies, thanks. I also know that he was honest enough to begrudgingly list Revelation with the accepted books, even though he plainly didn't consider it canonical himself.
                            Well if somebody is willing to lie about their true theological beliefs, it is reasonable for those analysing their testimony to the canon to consider them too untrustworthy to deserve taking the time to trifle with others about what pieces and parts of what they say could possibly be reliable. I don't consider settled anything from Eusebius that is not corroborated by at least two other sources less dishonest than he. I don't have a problem accepting Eusebius tentatively, but the problems arise when fundies try to push his evidence as if there can be no reasonable doubt.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              part 2

                              Can you cite the actual source? And since I think you are copying and pasting work from somebody else, I will ask you to post here anything you wish from the page of that work immediately after the page on which your quote appears.
                              Congratulations! You managed to follow the link I posted!
                              What link? All I saw was the copyright tag, but nothing linked.
                              I do happen to have a copy of Eusebius' Gospel Problems and Solutions at home which I can dig up, but you'll have to settle for two pages after since the immediate next page is in the original language for the following page.
                              Where did you get that work from, and why don't you have a full copy?

                              And even if your quote is accurate, so? Eusebius also believed Jesus really wrote a letter to King Abgarus. Do you know any scholars who seriously entertain that? He also only adopted the Nicene Creed in a non-natural sense of the language. I seriously doubt you can ward off the witness of the modern scholarly majority by simply holding tight to Eusebius.
                              I'm not simply holding tight to Eusebius. He is only one of several sources who attribute the gospel to Matthew, and no extant witness claims some other person wrote it.
                              Nice argument from silence. Maybe now you'll stop accusing others of making arguments from silence.

                              Once again, the uniform testimony of the ancient church on Matthew's authorship could just as easily be everybody relying on what Papias said, and Origen is one example of uncritical acceptance of prior tradition. Therefore I conclude the unanimous nature of the patristic testimony is far from conclusive toward the goal of preventing people from reasonably doubting Matthew's authorship.

                              I don't claim to know the absolute truth about the origin of the gospel of Matthew, but I claim that the existing evidence is not sufficiently conclusive for fundies to pretend the witness of Matthew to the resurrection of Jesus is beyond reasonable doubt.
                              Assuming, for the sake of argument, that we don't know who the author is, how does that invalidate its witness?
                              Do you really need to have explained to you how perfectly worthless 2000 year old anonymous testimony is? Do you you think you can cite any historian who thinks ancient anonymous testimony could ever establish a fact? Would you even bother trying to look for such a historian?

                              I'm not overstating anything. The origin of Greek Matthew is so obscure, the best you could do to document its history is cite a writing of Eusebius that is mostly unpublished, without given an actual name for the source, which appears in a work that is so obscure, it is not even mentioned in standard conservative introductions to Matthew.
                              Do you enjoy contradicting yourself in consecutive sentences? The edition of Roger Pearse, which is actually published, is rather exhaustive.
                              I found Pearse's website yesterday, but no link to the published edition. Please give the link.

                              I gave the standard name of Eusebius' work. What 'standard conservative introductions to Matthew' have you read in order to support your statement?
                              I have read all of the public-domain commentaries, plus the two modern ones that fundies usually quote, Word Biblical Commentary and New American Biblical commentary. Neither one cites to this work of Eusebius to establish anything about Matthew's authorship.

                              If you know of any commentary that depends on the Questiones Ad Marinum to establish anything about the gospel of Matthew, please quote it or cite it.
                              Not having ready any book-length commentaries on Matthew of any sort, you have me at a disadvantage.
                              Ok.

                              Origen "clearly believed Matthew to have been the author of the gospel", but he also admits he learned it by tradition. The specter of the 'unanimous view' of the ancient church on Matthew being nothing but a bunch of people relying uncritically on the Papias tradition, remains.
                              No, it doesn't. You may have heard of this concept of conveying information through speaking?
                              how does conveying through speaking require that sources more than papias are behind the Matthew tradition?

                              Ahh, so that's how you do this stuff. Now I have good reason to believe the only reason you know about the Questiones Ad Marinum and what it says about Matthew authorship is because you lifted that quotation from a place you found with google, specifically, http://hebrewgospel.com/Matthew%20Tw...20Evidence.php. That tells me you likely don't know squat about that work.
                              Yes, that is indeed the link I used (given that I linked to it in my post). Did you think I was hiding that information from you or something?
                              I didn't see the link, although I saw the "copyright". I was expecting to see a link, but maybe what you did is turn the quotation itself into a link, something I never do.

                              And excuse me for not happening to have Blomberg's commentary to hand. Do you assume everyone has ready access to everything you do?
                              When they try to dispute my conclusions which arise from such sources, yes.

                              Did you miss the fact that this was just a question, I wasn't asserting that Matthew's testimony is worthless?
                              You were asserting that most apologists think that Matthew's testimony is unnecessary to make a strong case for the resurrection of Jesus. Why should I accept that assertion at face value?
                              You don't, that's just my expression of my personal experience, posted to satisfy the reader's possible curiosity on why I don't ascribe apologetic significance to Matthew. Obviously I cannot prove every tiny single detail of everything I say.

                              No it isn't. Jesus never said a person must believe he rose from the dead in order to be saved, and that silence screams in the face of Paul who made resurrection into essential doctrine.
                              Paul did no such thing; the resurrection is central to Peter's speech in Acts 2.
                              Irrelevant, when you say "essential doctrine" you mean one must believe it to be saved. At least that's how it is normally used in common parlance in my experience with fundies. And nobody in the bible says salvation is conditioned upon one believing Jesus rose from the dead, except Paul.

                              And Jesus certainly made a big deal about predicting it.
                              Assuming he did, I cannot find any resurrection prediction text where he states that one must believe it to be saved. So again, Jesus did not teach that his resurrection was "essential" to salvation. It might be part of the plan, but "part of the plan" does not mean "minimally necessary belief for salvation".

                              So far, we've bickered about details, but I don't see how anything in your reply did anything to overcome the scholarly majority opinion that the Papias evidence is essentially useless to determining the authorship of Matthew.
                              I think you're overstating your case again here. That Papias' evidence is not taken as rock solid hardly means that it is useless.
                              I did not say the Papias evidence not being rock solid mean it is useless. I said the Papias evidence in the scholarly majority opinion is so inconclusive that it is insufficient to settle the authorship of Matthew to the point that there can be no reasonable doubt.

                              What you're attempting to do here is create as much doubt about one particular source as possible. I'd rather take a look at the cumulative evidence.
                              Ok, what else do you have to establish Matthew's authorship besides Eusebius/Papias? Will you argue that later church fathers had more reliable sources for saying Matthew authored Matthew?

                              And I think Eusebius' own dishonesty about his own Christian confession impeaches his credibility irreparably. If can say he accepts the Nicene creed while interpreting it a non-natural sense, that is no different than a Mormon who "accepts the Trinity", but who advocates a non-natural sense of the typical language used to describe the Trinity.
                              You're over-stating again. I have never seen a Mormon have a correct understanding of the Trinity, let alone purport to accept it.
                              I've heard plenty of Mormons agree with the Trinity. They usually don't say they think it is three gods (the non-natural sense of trinitarian language) unless pressed on the issue.
                              In other words, a major church historian lying about what he really believes. ONly a lawyer would say you aren't lying if you accept a statement in a non-natural way. Everybody else knows perfectly well that accepting a statement in a non-natural way is just the way that sophists reject a statement without admitting they are indeed, rejecting it.
                              None of your bickering about Papias and church fathers will make this impeachment disappear. I think the case for Matthian authorship is exactly as weak as the scholarly majority say, and I'm ready to move on to Mark, the gospel author upon whom NOBODY depends to establish the resurrection of Jesus.
                              This coming from a guy who pretended to be a Christian when he came here. Hypocrite much?
                              I had never attended theologyweb before, and assumed I'd be banned quicker if I just bluntly admitted I was an atheist.

                              And so what about my hypocrisy? Aren't you aware that your bible says all atheists are doomed and hate the truth? You are surprised to see atheists acting exactly the way the bible says? Would you change your mind about the bible if you found an honest atheist? i doubt it. When we fulfill bible descriptions of us, this shows the miraculous predictive power of the biblical authors, which cannot be explained apart from God. When we don't fulfill biblical predictions of us, then suddenly, this is irrelevant because the bible cannot be wrong about anything.

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