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Resurrection of Jesus: how strong is apostle Paul's testimony?

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

    Paul's most explicit and detailed testimony to the resurrected Jesus is his conversion on the road to Damascus. Acts 26 was written by Luke and so isn't first hand from Paul, but I'm just granting for the sake of argument that this hearsay should be presumed to be just as convincing as first-hand testimony.

    12 "While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests,
    13 at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me.
    14 "And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
    15 "And I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
    16 'But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;
    17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,
    18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.'
    19 "So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, (Act 26:12-19 NAU)
    However, Paul's admission that this experience was a "vision" (v. 19) destroys his credibility.

    First, the Greek word for "vision" there is optasia.

    Second, the only other time Paul uses this word is when he confesses that he cannot tell whether he was in or out of his body when he had a vision of heaven:

    1 Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions (optasia) and revelations of the Lord.
    2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-- whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- such a man was caught up to the third heaven.
    3 And I know how such a man-- whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows--
    4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
    (2Co 12:1-4 NAU)
    So Paul's understanding of optasia seems to be that it is such a mystical state that he cannot even tell whether he was in or out of his body when it happens. So it doesn't matter if other authors use optasia differently, Paul thinks it accurately describes vision-situations so mystical he cannot tell whether it happened in or out of his body.

    If you were on trial for murder, and the single witness against you was somebody who confessed on the stand that they were not sure whether they were in or out of their body when they saw you pull the trigger, would you desire the jury to find such confession to be a very solid impeachment of the witness's own credibility, yes or no?

    Paul is the only witness to the resurrection of Jesus in the bible, whose testimony reaches us in first-hand form. And this first-hand evidence comes from somebody who confesses his visionary states are so mystical, he can't really say whether they happen in or out of his body.

    You may say Paul says in 1st Corinthians 15 he saw Jesus, but he doesn't specify how,

    8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. (1Co 15:8 NAU)
    and without more specifics, there's good reason to conclude he wants the reader to conclude this appearance is the same one he recalls in Acts 26.

    If you would want the jury in your murder trial to find that the witness against you had destroyed his own credibility by confessing to serious belief in such foolishness as out of body experiences, then you have no basis to criticize skeptics who likewise snort and laugh at Paul's first-hand testimony to the resurrection of Jesus.

    If that weren't enough, lets make the analogy more precise: Paul said that during his vision of the third heaven, he heard words that it is not permitted man to repeat. How about you on trial for murder, and the witness against you says that while they saw you pull the trigger at a time when they don't know whether they were in or out of the body, they also heard heavenly words which god doesn't want them to repeat to others?

    Why do such visions do nothing but impeach the credibility of the witness against you in court, but when such visions are alleged in the bible, then suddenly, "with god all things are possible"?

    Why aren't you saying "with god all things are possible" when the visionary is speaking against you?

    I conclude that the most direct first hand testimony to the resurrection of Jesus you can get out of the NT, puts the witness on par with inebriated folk falling on their faces during field sobriety tests...then waking up in the drunk tank unable to recall on which day they broke their nose.

    I'm open to any other resurrection testimony you'll dare to defend as reliable.
    Last edited by B&H; 04-12-2015, 12:24 AM.

  • #2
    1/5

    20$

    That's 120$ so far.

    ~Formerly known as Chrawnus~

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      However, Paul's admission that this experience was a "vision" (v. 19) destroys his credibility.
      How? If what he experienced was real, and the man Jesus really did appear to him telling him to do those things.

      The men with him saw the light heard the voice too. Just didn't understand what was being communicated to Saul. They willingly took Saul where he instructed them, Saul then being blind do to that vision.
      . . . 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


      • #4
        You can't be serious...AGAIN?
        "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

        Comment


        • #5
          What was the last one before this?Did you even reach a conclusion?
          "Kahahaha! Let's get lunatic!"-Add LP
          "And the Devil did grin, for his darling sin is pride that apes humility"-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
          Oh ye of little fiber. Do you not know what I've done for you? You will obey. ~Cerealman for Prez.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by 37818 View Post
            How? If what he experienced was real, and the man Jesus really did appear to him telling him to do those things.
            Answer my argument! If you were on trial for murder and the only witness against you confessed on the witness stand that they cannot be sure they were in or out of their body when they saw you pull the trigger, would you use that confession to convince the jury that the witness's credibility was fully impeached, yes or no?

            The men with him saw the light heard the voice too. Just didn't understand what was being communicated to Saul.
            Yeah, that extra detail coming from somebody who cannot tell whether he is in or out of his body during these alleged occurrences. Sorry, his credibility is shot. You don't restore it by citing to other allegations that he makes.

            They willingly took Saul where he instructed them, Saul then being blind do to that vision.
            Careful: you spelled "due" as "do". Holding and others will probably attempt to argue that you know nothing at all because your spelling error cannot be explained as a typo, and they will post incessantly about that trifling mistake on your part, since they also post incessantly about the same mistake when committed by scholars who disagree with them.

            The fact that Paul described his experience of Jesus as one of those vision-types that leave him guessing whether he is in or out of his body, is sufficient to entirely discredit whatever he has to say about his experience of the risen Jesus.

            If you disagree, you have mission impossible ahead of you: convince the readers that just because somebody cannot tell whether they were in or out of the body when they saw what they allege they saw, doesn't mean their credibility is shot.

            Now for the hard question: There's lots of religious visionaries for Jesus today...how seriously do you consider their testimony? When it comes to modern-day Jesus visionaries, you think like an atheist and immediately dismiss them, correct?

            how much time would you have in your life to conduct your own personal affairs, if you were so objective that you fully investigated every visionary claim about Jesus the world had to offer to make sure you didn't too hastily dismiss genuine claims? You see then that immediately dismissing such claims where there is nothing but verbal or written testimony is probably the more practical mature thing to do. You'd really like to investigate so and so's revelation from Jesus, but you've got laundry to do and dinner to make and kids to raise. Things obviously more important than visions of Jesus. So if those crackpots don't give solid empirical evidence beyond their mere word or collection of disputed testimonies from 2000 years ago, visions of Jesus rank rather low on your list of priorities. Right?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by B&H View Post
              Paul's most explicit and detailed testimony to the resurrected Jesus is his conversion on the road to Damascus. Acts 26 was written by Luke and so isn't first hand from Paul, but I'm just granting for the sake of argument that this hearsay should be presumed to be just as convincing as first-hand testimony.



              However, Paul's admission that this experience was a "vision" (v. 19) destroys his credibility.

              First, the Greek word for "vision" there is optasia.

              Second, the only other time Paul uses this word is when he confesses that he cannot tell whether he was in or out of his body when he had a vision of heaven:



              So Paul's understanding of optasia seems to be that it is such a mystical state that he cannot even tell whether he was in or out of his body when it happens. So it doesn't matter if other authors use optasia differently, Paul thinks it accurately describes vision-situations so mystical he cannot tell whether it happened in or out of his body.
              Let me get this straight. Your argument is as follows:


              Paul uses "optasia" when he is describing his mystical vision of being caught up to the third heaven.

              Paul also tells us that he could not tell if he was in or out of his body when experiencing this vision

              Therefore "optasia" as used by Paul denotes mystical visions that are characterized by the fact that people who have them cannot tell whether they were in, or outside of their bodies when they experienced them.


              There are atleast two objections to this that I can come up with at the top of my head.

              #1. It is, Luke, not Paul, who wrote the Book of Acts, so Paul's use of the word optasia is irrelevant, unless you want to argue that Luke and Paul thought of optasia the same way. If you object to this reasoning by referring to the fact that Luke here is recounting a speech by Paul and therefore we should take optasia to mean whatever Paul meant by it, it's sufficient to state that when writers wanted to recount speeches made by a certain people, it was not important to them that they recounted the entire speech verbatum, that is, in it's entirety, and with the exact words that the speaker used. Rather, they recounted the speech in a condensed form, and rather than being concerned that the exact words were preserved, they were far more concerned that the meaning and message of the speech was preserved. IOW, what we have here is Luke recounting Paul's speech to Agrippa in condensed form, they are not the exact words he spoke at the moment. So when Paul in this speech uses the word "optasia", it does not mean that Paul himself used the word in his actual speech (although he might have), but rather that the word signified something to Luke which made it appropriate for him to use it to communicate Paul's message.

              #2. Even if objection #1 was not true, and we could know for sure that Paul actually used the word "optasia" in his speech to Agrippa, it would be silliness of the highest degree to suppose that Paul was incapable of using the word in different ways. Besides, when all you have is one (possibly two if Acts records the actual words of Paul rather than the meaning) instance where Paul uses the word optasia, it's simply not a good idea to try and make a judgement on how Paul would have/could have used the word in his writings and/or speeches. Not only is your argument an insult to Paul's literary abilities, it's an insult to language itself.
              ~Formerly known as Chrawnus~

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Chrawnus View Post
                Let me get this straight. Your argument is as follows:
                Paul uses "optasia" when he is describing his mystical vision of being caught up to the third heaven.
                Paul also tells us that he could not tell if he was in or out of his body when experiencing this vision
                Therefore "optasia" as used by Paul denotes mystical visions that are characterized by the fact that people who have them cannot tell whether they were in, or outside of their bodies when they experienced them.
                yup.

                There are atleast two objections to this that I can come up with at the top of my head.
                And neither one of them address the problem of using for a witness, a person who admits being unable to tell whether they were in or out of their body when they traveled around heaven. If such a fool was the witness against you in a criminal prosecution, would you highlight his delusional admissions to convince the jury to dismiss him? Or would you tell the jury that because God can do all things, including give visions that leave one guessing whether they were in or out of their body at the time, the jury will have to decide whether admission to such experiences undercuts one's credibility or not?

                #1. It is, Luke, not Paul, who wrote the Book of Acts, so Paul's use of the word optasia is irrelevant, unless you want to argue that Luke and Paul thought of optasia the same way.
                First, I was simply allowing for the sake of argument that what Luke recorded is what Paul actually said. If I had wished to disallow that presupposition, I would have cited Paul's dishonesty to impeach his credibility.

                Second, you don't have a point, at all. The only way you could have a point is if you assume Paul did not say that word that Luke records him as saying? Wanna go there? Or does it make more sense in your view to allow that Luke recorded Paul actually said?

                If you object to this reasoning by referring to the fact that Luke here is recounting a speech by Paul and therefore we should take optasia to mean whatever Paul meant by it, it's sufficient to state that when writers wanted to recount speeches made by a certain people, it was not important to them that they recounted the entire speech verbatum, that is, in it's entirety, and with the exact words that the speaker used.
                First, please provide a scholarly source that pushes first-century speech summation to the extreme that you do, so that any word you pick out that you don't like, you can simply insist that the word is a mere summary and not what the speaker actually said.

                Second, I don't see your point. When I grant for the sake of argument that Luke was Paul's traveling companion, I have good reason to believe that when Luke conveys Paul's speeches, he uses Paul's words. It appears you have found a way to benefit from the skeptical view that Luke and Paul were not as close as they appear, and so the more separate you make them, the less likely Luke's record of Paul's speech will use the exact words Paul did.

                Third, the fact that speeches weren't normally conveyed word for word doesn't open the floodgates to speculate that Luke likely didn't use any of Paul's exact words, wherever you need the differences to exist to avoid my argument. It could very well be that Luke's report is an accurate summary composed of many words Paul actually spoke.

                Rather, they recounted the speech in a condensed form,
                Which does not argue it was more likely that the condensed version uses only synonym equals of the speaker's actual words.

                and rather than being concerned that the exact words were preserved, they were far more concerned that the meaning and message of the speech was preserved.
                Which does not argue it was more likely that the condensed version uses only synonym equals of the speaker's actual words.

                IOW, what we have here is Luke recounting Paul's speech to Agrippa in condensed form, they are not the exact words he spoke at the moment.

                Condensing does not argue it is more likely that the condensed version uses only synonym equals of the speaker's actual words.

                So when Paul in this speech uses the word "optasia", it does not mean that Paul himself used the word in his actual speech (although he might have), but rather that the word signified something to Luke which made it appropriate for him to use it to communicate Paul's message.
                Yeah, and maybe what optasia signified to Luke was Paul's use of it.

                #2. Even if objection #1 was not true, and we could know for sure that Paul actually used the word "optasia" in his speech to Agrippa, it would be silliness of the highest degree to suppose that Paul was incapable of using the word in different ways.
                You do not argue for the probability of Paul using words in different ways by suggesting how silly it is to assume he couldn't.

                I never said Paul couldn't use a word in two different ways.

                But the fact that the word is the same, combined with no contextual reason to think they take different shades of meaning, is a prima facie case that they are being used in the same way. Luke 1:22 uses optasia to describe a visionary experience of Zarcharias in the temple, and since the text gives no indication anybody else saw it, Luke's use of optasia seems to denote a mostly private mental sort of thing. This is consistent with the fact that Paul's Acts 26 vision was something he could see but his traveling companions could not see. For obvious reasons, no commentator I've read has ever opined that Paul's 2nd Cor. 12 vision was something shared by others, so that use of optasia takes the sense of vision that can only be seen by one person.

                You will likely do what others do, and say that in Acts 9, the vision was not private because his traveling companions heard a voice but saw no one, but I think the entire vision story is fraudulent, especially the part of about the other men not seeing Jesus but still hearing the voice. If you aren't satisfied with that, then you are irrational, since you would appear to think that unless a skeptic can positively disprove each facet of a vision story in 2000 year old hearsay, then he shouldn't be picking on any of it and just accept the entire thing. That ain't the way historiography works, partner. No historian says when dealing with ancient testimony, you must believe all of it, or discount all of it. We also don't entirely discount testimony of the witness on the stand, for we may find that some of her testimony is allowable, but some is too fantastic.

                Besides, when all you have is one (possibly two if Acts records the actual words of Paul rather than the meaning) instance where Paul uses the word optasia, it's simply not a good idea to try and make a judgement on how Paul would have/could have used the word in his writings and/or speeches. Not only is your argument an insult to Paul's literary abilities, it's an insult to language itself.
                But I've corrected you on that point in my previous comments above, namely, that the word horama was also available to Luke if he wished to convey to the reader something not present in optasia.

                You are also completely ignoring the simple fact that Luke used the same word Paul uses in 2nd Cor because what Paul was describing in both places was the same type of manifestation. When the same word is used by one author or by two authors known to be companions, the onus is not on the one claiming the single word carries the same definition in both usages. The onus is on the one claiming the word is being used differently. You fail to do that, you simply mischaracterize the possibility of different sense as if different sense should be immediately clear to the reader who knows the language. Nope.

                What do you have to say about your presupposition that Luke and Paul were traveling companions and Luke was Paul's biographer? How close would they have to be before you'd feel comfortable believing Luke's choice of words didn't subtract from or add to the nuances of meaning in Paul's actual words?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  And neither one of them address the problem of using for a witness, a person who admits being unable to tell whether they were in or out of their body when they traveled around heaven. If such a fool was the witness against you in a criminal prosecution, would you highlight his delusional admissions to convince the jury to dismiss him? Or would you tell the jury that because God can do all things, including give visions that leave one guessing whether they were in or out of their body at the time, the jury will have to decide whether admission to such experiences undercuts one's credibility or not?
                  I did not address this problem, because it's a far less weighty argument than that Paul's use of optasia signifies a mystical vision. The above is essentially nothing more than an ad hominem fallacy, a poisoning of the well. Maybe I should have pointed that out right from the beginning, but I couldn't expect that you'd continue to harp on this point as if this was the stronger point, when in actuality it's nothing more than a fallacy of reasoning.


                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  First, I was simply allowing for the sake of argument that what Luke recorded is what Paul actually said. If I had wished to disallow that presupposition, I would have cited Paul's dishonesty to impeach his credibility.

                  Second, you don't have a point, at all. The only way you could have a point is if you assume Paul did not say that word that Luke records him as saying? Wanna go there? Or does it make more sense in your view to allow that Luke recorded Paul actually said?
                  How on earth do you go from Paul's dishonesty to "what Luke recorded is [not] what Paul actually said?".

                  And what I'm assuming is that Luke records Paul as speaking in front of Agrippa, and that what Luke recounts accurately reflects the message of Paul's speech, perhaps even in a Pauline style (but that isn't a necessity).


                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  First, please provide a scholarly source that pushes first-century speech summation to the extreme that you do, so that any word you pick out that you don't like, you can simply insist that the word is a mere summary and not what the speaker actually said.

                  Second, I don't see your point. When I grant for the sake of argument that Luke was Paul's traveling companion, I have good reason to believe that when Luke conveys Paul's speeches, he uses Paul's words. It appears you have found a way to benefit from the skeptical view that Luke and Paul were not as close as they appear, and so the more separate you make them, the less likely Luke's record of Paul's speech will use the exact words Paul did.

                  Third, the fact that speeches weren't normally conveyed word for word doesn't open the floodgates to speculate that Luke likely didn't use any of Paul's exact words, wherever you need the differences to exist to avoid my argument. It could very well be that Luke's report is an accurate summary composed of many words Paul actually spoke.
                  I'm not insisting that the word is a mere summary (I'm not even sure what that is supposed to mean), I'm insisting that the practice of recounting speeches in condensed form means that we cannot know for sure that it was the exact word he used. It might have been, it might not have. And no, it has nothing to do with having a skeptical view towards Luke and Paul's close relationship to each other. Your third point is true to the extent that it could be that Luke's report is an accurate summary composed of many words Paul actually spoke, but the bolded is the important part. It could be, but we don't know, and therefore we should be careful in making any sort of argument based on a single word in the text.

                  As for a scholarly source, how about James D.G Dunn's Beginning from Jerusalem: Christianity in the Making? The passage is about Acts 13:16-43, but much of it would apply to Pauls speech to Agrippa as well.

                  https://books.google.fi/books?id=A_N...ivered&f=false


                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  Condensing does not argue it is more likely that the condensed version uses only synonym equals of the speaker's actual words.
                  Which is not what I'm arguing.

                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  Yeah, and maybe what optasia signified to Luke was Paul's use of it.
                  Perhaps, but then you've still not established that Paul's use of optasia signifies a mystical vision with no connection to physical reality.

                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  You do not argue for the probability of Paul using words in different ways by suggesting how silly it is to assume he couldn't.
                  That's not my argument. I'm arguing that it is silly to argue for the probability that Paul uses optasia in the same way in two different contexts, when all we have to go by is these two examples. IOW, simply looking at one instance of Paul's usage of the word "optasia" and forcing that usage into every instance where Paul is using, or is recounted as having used, optasia, is not good reasoning.

                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  I never said Paul couldn't use a word in two different ways.

                  But the fact that the word is the same, combined with no contextual reason to think they take different shades of meaning, is a prima facie case that they are being used in the same way. Luke 1:22 uses optasia to describe a visionary experience of Zarcharias in the temple, and since the text gives no indication anybody else saw it, Luke's use of optasia seems to denote a mostly private mental sort of thing. This is consistent with the fact that Paul's Acts 26 vision was something he could see but his traveling companions could not see. For obvious reasons, no commentator I've read has ever opined that Paul's 2nd Cor. 12 vision was something shared by others, so that use of optasia takes the sense of vision that can only be seen by one person.
                  You seriously want to argue that since the text gives no indication that anybody else but Zacharias saw the angel, that therefore Luke is using optasia to denote a "mostly private mental sort of thing"? How about you don't argue from silence? And for a counter-example, consider Luke 24:23 where the word is used to denote a shared experience between the women visiting the tomb of Jesus.

                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  You will likely do what others do, and say that in Acts 9, the vision was not private because his traveling companions heard a voice but saw no one, but I think the entire vision story is fraudulent, especially the part of about the other men not seeing Jesus but still hearing the voice. If you aren't satisfied with that, then you are irrational, since you would appear to think that unless a skeptic can positively disprove each facet of a vision story in 2000 year old hearsay, then he shouldn't be picking on any of it and just accept the entire thing. That ain't the way historiography works, partner. No historian says when dealing with ancient testimony, you must believe all of it, or discount all of it. We also don't entirely discount testimony of the witness on the stand, for we may find that some of her testimony is allowable, but some is too fantastic.
                  What I will do is nothing of the sort. I'll just ignore this entire paragraph as irrelevant to my arguments.


                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  But I've corrected you on that point in my previous comments above, namely, that the word horama was also available to Luke if he wished to convey to the reader something not present in optasia.
                  That's assuming that it is not present in the word optasia, or that it cannot be used that way.

                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  You are also completely ignoring the simple fact that Luke used the same word Paul uses in 2nd Cor because what Paul was describing in both places was the same type of manifestation. When the same word is used by one author or by two authors known to be companions, the onus is not on the one claiming the single word carries the same definition in both usages. The onus is on the one claiming the word is being used differently. You fail to do that, you simply mischaracterize the possibility of different sense as if different sense should be immediately clear to the reader who knows the language. Nope.
                  Actually, the onus is on the one claiming anything at all. You're the one who claims that it carries the same definition in both usages, so you're the one who has to carry the burden. I'm not saying that Paul is using the word in two different senses, I'm saying that you haven't adequately supported your position that he's using the word in the same way in both usages.

                  Originally posted by B&H View Post
                  What do you have to say about your presupposition that Luke and Paul were traveling companions and Luke was Paul's biographer? How close would they have to be before you'd feel comfortable believing Luke's choice of words didn't subtract from or add to the nuances of meaning in Paul's actual words?
                  I'm not sure why Luke and Paul's relationship is relevant. Luke could have recounted the message of Paul's speeches faithfully, even if he wasn't his traveling companion (although I see no compelling reason to assume he wasn't).
                  ~Formerly known as Chrawnus~

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Chrawnus View Post
                    Quote Originally Posted by B&H View Post
                    And neither one of them address the problem of using for a witness, a person who admits being unable to tell whether they were in or out of their body when they traveled around heaven. If such a fool was the witness against you in a criminal prosecution, would you highlight his delusional admissions to convince the jury to dismiss him? Or would you tell the jury that because God can do all things, including give visions that leave one guessing whether they were in or out of their body at the time, the jury will have to decide whether admission to such experiences undercuts one's credibility or not?
                    I did not address this problem, because it's a far less weighty argument than that Paul's use of optasia signifies a mystical vision. The above is essentially nothing more than an ad hominem fallacy, a poisoning of the well. Maybe I should have pointed that out right from the beginning, but I couldn't expect that you'd continue to harp on this point as if this was the stronger point, when in actuality it's nothing more than a fallacy of reasoning.
                    It is not a "fallacy of reasoning" for me to impeach Paul's credibility by citing to things that you know perfectly well make you suspicious of a person's credibility, such as their claim that they have visions of being caught up to the third heaven, in circumstances so mysterious it leaves them guessing whether they went to heaven physically or spiritually. If such a fool were the only prosecution witness against you, you know perfectly well you'd try to convince the jury that this claim to possibly physically traveling to heaven destroys their credibility entirely. That is not a fallacy of reasoning, that is appeal to your common sense, and I'm suspicious that you don't make a blunt statement on whether you would or wouldn't seek to use such mysticism to impeach the credibility of any such person who is being used against you in a criminal trial.

                    Plan on doing that anytime soon? Or are some things better left unsaid? If your lawyer told you he plans in his closing remarks to highlight this mysticism to impeach that witness's credibility, would you try to dissuade him, yes or no? When you read about miracles in the bible, skeptics are stupid for approaching the evidence with an anti-supernaturalist bias. But when it is a witness that believes in Paul's personal miracles of possibly bodily travel to heaven, then suddenly, David Hume becomes your new hero, correct?

                    Quote Originally Posted by B&H View Post
                    First, I was simply allowing for the sake of argument that what Luke recorded is what Paul actually said. If I had wished to disallow that presupposition, I would have cited Paul's dishonesty to impeach his credibility.
                    Second, you don't have a point, at all. The only way you could have a point is if you assume Paul did not say that word that Luke records him as saying? Wanna go there? Or does it make more sense in your view to allow that Luke recorded Paul actually said?
                    How on earth do you go from Paul's dishonesty to "what Luke recorded is [not] what Paul actually said?".
                    I am not fooled by your hiding your ignorance under the pretense of a question. You know perfectly well there are two issues going on so far between us: 1) I told you that I would have argued for Paul's dishonesty had I wished to do that here, I never tried to connect that separate argument to something I was saying about Luke using optasia in Acts 26, it was a separate line of inquiry, and 2) You have not sustained your speculation that because ancient writers were given license to record speeches, "optasia" cannot be solidly connected to Paul in Acts 26. If you think Luke's summary was accurate, that's a perfectly good reason to assume that, given the difference in Greek between horama and optasia, Luke chose the one less common in the NT, to put in Paul's mouth, because that it what he wanted readers to believe Paul said.

                    And what I'm assuming is that Luke records Paul as speaking in front of Agrippa, and that what Luke recounts accurately reflects the message of Paul's speech, perhaps even in a Pauline style (but that isn't a necessity).
                    Please stop pretending you can dodge arguments by saying their conclusions do not necessarily follow. There is very little in ancient hearsay that could be proven with conclusive certainty. How convinced are you when Mormons reconcile some problem in their religion you raise, by citing to how other possibilities exist that would alleviate the problem? When they say maybe God has hidden archaeological proof for the book of Mormon since, in his mysterious ways, he wants people to take him on faith, are you the least bit convinced by this excuse that is yet within the range of biblical possibilities? Not at all. What counts is whose argument is more LIKELY to be true. So please dispense with the childish idea that because your opponent's argument isn't conclusive, you are safe.

                    Quote Originally Posted by B&H View Post
                    First, please provide a scholarly source that pushes first-century speech summation to the extreme that you do, so that any word you pick out that you don't like, you can simply insist that the word is a mere summary and not what the speaker actually said.
                    Second, I don't see your point. When I grant for the sake of argument that Luke was Paul's traveling companion, I have good reason to believe that when Luke conveys Paul's speeches, he uses Paul's words. It appears you have found a way to benefit from the skeptical view that Luke and Paul were not as close as they appear, and so the more separate you make them, the less likely Luke's record of Paul's speech will use the exact words Paul did.
                    Third, the fact that speeches weren't normally conveyed word for word doesn't open the floodgates to speculate that Luke likely didn't use any of Paul's exact words, wherever you need the differences to exist to avoid my argument. It could very well be that Luke's report is an accurate summary composed of many words Paul actually spoke.
                    I'm not insisting that the word is a mere summary (I'm not even sure what that is supposed to mean), I'm insisting that the practice of recounting speeches in condensed form means that we cannot know for sure that it was the exact word he used.
                    Once again, being "sure" about 2000 year old hearsay is highly unlikely under rules of historiography that seek to find the explanation that is most likely true. You delude yourself into thinking that because the skeptic argument I make cannot be conclusively established, you are safe. Wrong. I only have to show that my explanation of the data is more reasonable than yours. Since you are saying Luke' recounting was accurate, that is a prima facie case that Luke's choice of wording accurately reflected Paul's own words, even if they were not the exact words. Because optasia is not common in the NT, it would appear that Luke's choice to use it was not a case of him using synonyms but of repeating the word Paul actually used. Indeed, can you think of any koine Greek word different than optasia, but which carries every connotation that word has? No. So into the garbage does your theory. Luke is not accurately summarizing Paul, if optasia doesn't carry every connotation found in the word Paul actually spoke. If Paul had said 'horama', then Luke is dishonest, since the horama and optasia have different connotations.

                    Furthermore, you believe Paul was inspired, and it doesn't make sense to just take that attribute away from him whenever convenient for you. SO he was likely inspired by God when giving his Acts 26 speech. If Luke didn't record the actual words but only what he considered an accurate report of them, you open pandora's box: What do our English bible's give us today in reciting words of Christ? An accurate reflection of Jesus' actual words? Or an accurate reflection of the gospel author's report? Jesus gave a speech called the Sermon on the Mount. Did Matthew have license to do with that Sermon what you think Luke did with Paul's speech in Acts 26?

                    It might have been, it might not have.
                    Seems you cannot figure out whether my theory or your theory is the one more likely to be true.

                    And no, it has nothing to do with having a skeptical view towards Luke and Paul's close relationship to each other. Your third point is true to the extent that it could be that Luke's report is an accurate summary composed of many words Paul actually spoke, but the bolded is the important part. It could be, but we don't know, and therefore we should be careful in making any sort of argument based on a single word in the text.
                    You aren't going to get any further in this debate now that you've admitted my theory could just as easily be true as yours. We are discussing 2000 year old hearsay (Luke's report of Paul's speech), and I'm content to let the reader judge whether the presupposition of Luke's accuracy makes it more likely that his choice to use the more rare optasia indicates this particular word is one that Paul actually spoke.

                    Quote Originally Posted by B&H View Post
                    Yeah, and maybe what optasia signified to Luke was Paul's use of it.
                    Perhaps, but then you've still not established that Paul's use of optasia signifies a mystical vision with no connection to physical reality.
                    Well if Paul is using optasia in 2nd Corinthians 12:1 ff to describe the kind of mystical trips to heaven he took that leave him guessing whether he took that trip inside or outside of his body, he probably uses that word because it correctly refers to the type of visionary experience that is not shared by anybody else.

                    Quote Originally Posted by B&H View Post
                    You do not argue for the probability of Paul using words in different ways by suggesting how silly it is to assume he couldn't.
                    That's not my argument. I'm arguing that it is silly to argue for the probability that Paul uses optasia in the same way in two different contexts, when all we have to go by is these two examples.
                    Well excuse me, but even inerrantist scholarship doesn't give thorough expositions about the outer limits and possibilities of a word used in two different places. Optasia is not common in the NT, it occurs 4 times, so apparently, this word meant something different than what the other vision-word "horama" implied. And I argue on the basis of Paul's only other known use of it, 2nd Corinthians 12:1, that this word is the one most appropriate to use, in his opinion, for mystical states unlikely to be shared by others.

                    If you try to falsify my theory by saying Paul didn't know whether the heavenly trip was in or out of his body, therefore, optasia could possibly describe in-body visions, then you've got a very confused Paul, who uses optasia to describe what could well have been his physical travels, (!?) when in fact nobody ever uses it that way in the NT. Paul did not say he viewed the third-heaven, he says he was "caught up" to it (Greek: harpazo, caught or snatched away). If you are "caught up" to the third heaven IN your body, that's physical travel rivaling the likes of Elijah's physical travel to heaven in a whirlwind, that's not a viewing of heaven with your physical eyes.
                    IOW, simply looking at one instance of Paul's usage of the word "optasia" and forcing that usage into every instance where Paul is using, or is recounted as having used, optasia, is not good reasoning.
                    Strawman, I never said the word necessarily means the same thing in both usages, I was arguing that it most likely meaning the same thing since we would not expect one author to use the same word differently where the context doesn't show difference in nuance. By the way, there is nothing in Paul's Acts 26 version of his conversion story that includes others experiencing some of what he was experiencing. No, I'm not an inerrantist, I do not automatically insist that a witness's three different accounts should be harmonized, I rather evaluate them independently, since humans throughout history have been known to contradict themselves, and to add or subtract details about their lives in subsequent retellings. If you wish to insist that inerrancy should be used as a hermeneutic, say the word, and I'll start a new thread blasting that out of the sky.

                    Quote Originally Posted by B&H View Post
                    I never said Paul couldn't use a word in two different ways.
                    But the fact that the word is the same, combined with no contextual reason to think they take different shades of meaning, is a prima facie case that they are being used in the same way. Luke 1:22 uses optasia to describe a visionary experience of Zarcharias in the temple, and since the text gives no indication anybody else saw it, Luke's use of optasia seems to denote a mostly private mental sort of thing. This is consistent with the fact that Paul's Acts 26 vision was something he could see but his traveling companions could not see. For obvious reasons, no commentator I've read has ever opined that Paul's 2nd Cor. 12 vision was something shared by others, so that use of optasia takes the sense of vision that can only be seen by one person.
                    You seriously want to argue that since the text gives no indication that anybody else but Zacharias saw the angel, that therefore Luke is using optasia to denote a "mostly private mental sort of thing"?
                    Yes. the offering of incense indicates Zach was going into the holy of holies, not simply "the temple",

                    1:9 He was chosen by lot. This indicates that God’s providential leading caused Zechariah to be chosen.22 For Luke this was not the result of “chance” or “fate.” God was clearly in control of this event. See Introduction 8 (1).
                    Since so many priests served the temple (about eighteen thousand), entering the holy place to clean the altar of incense and to offer fresh incense usually occurred only once in the lifetime of a priest.
                    Stein, R. H. (2001, c1992). Vol. 24: Luke (electronic ed.). Logos Library System;
                    The New American Commentary (Page 74). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
                    Luke 1:10, the others stayed outside and prayed, but given that Zacharias was going into the holy of holies, their standing "outside" did notmean completely outside the Temple itself, but only praying within the outer court of the Temple, since prayer regularly occurred in that outer part (Luke 18:10-14)

                    The Temple itself was 30 x 90 feet. When you put the holy of holies in that, that puts the praying crowd close enough to the holy of holies that they should have no problems hearing the priest offering incense if he is physically talking. The two spaces are separated by a curtain. So when Luke 1:21 says they wondered why Zach delayed, its probably because he wasn't doing any physical speaking that they otherwise would likely have heard, and therefore, the recorded visionary conversation was entirely mental.
                    How about you don't argue from silence?
                    How about, a) I've already pointed out to you, several times, that arguments from silence are not automatically false or fallacious, and b) I wasn't arguing from silence, I simply presumed you were aware of the textual details that support my argument.
                    And for a counter-example, consider Luke 24:23 where the word is used to denote a shared experience between the women visiting the tomb of Jesus.
                    First, Luke 24:11 says the apostles considered this vision story of the women "nonsense", which indicates that the apostles felt that an optasia was a presumably unbelievable state of affairs.

                    Second, I never said optasia can only mean a mental vision, I specifically said that context determines what nuance a word has, and I said that when Paul uses it to describe visions that, in his opinion, could be experienced either in the body or out of the body, he seems to think the word properly describes entirely mental visions. I don't have to argue it can ONLY mean mental visions, to argue that Paul used it to mean that. Just like I don't have to argue that 'board' ONLY means to enter a vessel/vehicle, for me to use it with that connotation.

                    Quote Originally Posted by B&H View Post
                    But I've corrected you on that point in my previous comments above, namely, that the word horama was also available to Luke if he wished to convey to the reader something not present in optasia.
                    That's assuming that it is not present in the word optasia, or that it cannot be used that way.
                    Optasia CAN be used to describe a physical manifestation, obviously, since Paul uses it to describe his experience while not knowing whether he experienced it physically or non-physically (2nd Corinthians 21:1). You continue falsely accusing me of arguing that optasia can ONLY mean a mental vision. I never said that. I said it properly denotes a wholly mental vision, and that's all I need to do. When you demand that I prove my argument conclusively, you depart from what all historians know, that no argument from history, especially one using 2000 year old documents, is going to be "conclusive".

                    It is my opinion that because Paul didn't know whether he was in or out of his body during his 2nd Corinthians vision, it was more than likely a completely mental experience. Obviously, nothing absolute can be proven using fairy tales, but that's what the text would reasonably imply.

                    Quote Originally Posted by B&H View Post
                    You are also completely ignoring the simple fact that Luke used the same word Paul uses in 2nd Cor because what Paul was describing in both places was the same type of manifestation. When the same word is used by one author or by two authors known to be companions, the onus is not on the one claiming the single word carries the same definition in both usages. The onus is on the one claiming the word is being used differently. You fail to do that, you simply mischaracterize the possibility of different sense as if different sense should be immediately clear to the reader who knows the language. Nope.
                    Actually, the onus is on the one claiming anything at all. You're the one who claims that it carries the same definition in both usages, so you're the one who has to carry the burden. I'm not saying that Paul is using the word in two different senses, I'm saying that you haven't adequately supported your position that he's using the word in the same way in both usages.
                    And what we are arguing about is a 2000 year old visionary, who was a self-proclaimed liar, and what exactly he meant by using a word found only rarely in the NT. I've defended my case as much as I wish to, and I won't spend further time trifling with you about how the talking wolf in Little Red Riding Hood doesn't make the story false since God can make wolves talk. These are all fairy tales, and any self-respecting atheist, once reaching that conclusion, must limit the amount of time he spends quibbling about ancient science fiction and resurrection arguments that depend on people who fly to heaven outside of their bodies, and often don't know exactly how they got there.

                    Quote Originally Posted by B&H View Post
                    What do you have to say about your presupposition that Luke and Paul were traveling companions and Luke was Paul's biographer? How close would they have to be before you'd feel comfortable believing Luke's choice of words didn't subtract from or add to the nuances of meaning in Paul's actual words?
                    I'm not sure why Luke and Paul's relationship is relevant.Luke could have recounted the message of Paul's speeches faithfully, even if he wasn't his traveling companion (although I see no compelling reason to assume he wasn't).
                    Because if they hardly knew each other, it would be more likely that Luke would take more license in recording Paul's words. But if they knew each other and Luke felt Paul was a real apostle, and traveled with him and was his ministry partner, it would be more likely his record of Paul's speeches left intact all the subtle nuances of the Greek words Paul used, even assuming not each and every actual word Paul spoke was recorded.

                    I'm afraid you don't appreciate the ramifications of saying Luke's record of Paul's speeches was "accurate". Optasia and horama have different nuances in Greek, and in the NT, optasia is only used 4 times, used for describing visions, while horama is used far more often to describe "visions". So when Luke's record of Paul's speech includes optasia, its more than likely, assuming the speech was even given, that Luke used that less commonly used word because Paul did.

                    Let's also not forget that Holding never supported his view that first century Greeks thought visions always referred to objective realities. I asked him for a scholarly quotation on that, and he hasn't yet answered.

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                    • #11
                      The problem with Paul's testimony is that he does not actually say much at all to support the gospel accounts. There is no mention of the empty tomb. He gives clear indication he believed Jesus was resurrected he a new body, contradicting John who has Jesus resurrected in his old body, crucifixion wounds and all; in fact Paul's account is consistent with Jesus resurrected in a celestial body that appears as a ball of light. He gives no indication where Jesus was seen. He claims Jesus was seen by 500 people, but this is not mentioned in the gospels.

                      In fact all we can really get from Paul is that by the time he was writing a belief in a resurrection of some sort was foundational to Christianity.
                      My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

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