Case For Trusting the Gospels

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Case For Trusting the Gospels

Post  AustenFan on Sun Jun 21, 2009 7:22 pm

An interesting interview of a British scholar, Richard Bauckman, and the concept of "protected anonymity" for eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus.

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=76471
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Interesting yes,

Post  Thereforeiam on Sun Jun 21, 2009 11:04 pm

convincing as to its total accuracy, no. This student of history will only say that unless one has faith in divine revelation, the "chosen" gospels are questionable in their substance and content. That does not however necessarily diminish the importance of Jesus Christ and the probability of His divinity.
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Why questionable?

Post  cradlerc on Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:53 am

What about the selection of the canonical gospels and their substance and content strikes you as questionable?
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I had a similar question

Post  VicarJoe on Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:13 pm

but I suppose that's because I start from the premise of the church being the guarantor of scripture, and not vice versa.
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Yes Joe, your premise

Post  Thereforeiam on Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:10 pm

is different then mine and that challenges our basis of discussion to say the least.
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What was the reason

Post  Thereforeiam on Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:30 pm

for the necessity of four Gospels rather then just one? Is there an answer to this question?
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Joe and Therefore, please clarify.

Post  stihl on Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:35 pm

I am not sure what the dispute is.
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stihl, I don't think

Post  Thereforeiam on Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:02 pm

there is a dispute, I just was commenting on Marion's post reference article. Keep in mind that I'm an agnostic and I seem to always have questions. Inevitably some of those questions are not always accepted with open arms.
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I wasn't trying to be argumentative, actually,

Post  cradlerc on Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:02 pm

or start a dispute, I was more wondering if Therefore's trouble with the gospels had to do with time frames or the actual content of the gospels themselves.

To answer your question, Therefore, about why four gospels instead of just one, my understanding is that it centers on a few key factors. Biblical scholars assume the existence of Q, or what's sometimes called the Q source, as an underlying source for the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). They're called synoptic because they sum up Jesus' life. John's gospel is NOT thought to derive from Q, and is much more influenced by Greek thought than the 3 others, and is not so much about synopsis but about hammering out the theology surrounding Christ's life. The differences between all of them are thought to stem from a number of factors: First, the kind of differences exist that would normally exist in eyewitness accounts--that is, we may witness a particular event, and I notice that someone's shirt is green, whereas you notice that there are three women present. The detail differences highlight what is remembered in common: Jesus' ministry, death and resurrection.

Additionally, though, the differences highlight that the four gosepls were written to very different audiences and are meant to be persuasive. They're a form of specific form of literature, actually. So each gospel addresses concerns of the world to whom they address, which correspond to what were thought of as the four major points of the world: Mark's is for Jews, Matthew's is for Romans, Luke's is for non-Roman gentiles, John's is, perhaps, more for a Greek audience. They're meant to be complementary to each other, to try to give a full picture of the complexity of Christ. It's much like having several biographies of a single person: my brother would not write about my mother the same way that I would, nor would my father. But our accounts would dovetail so that certain details would be settled by corroboration.

I'm not presuming that this settles for you, Therefore, or for any other agnostic, the truth of the gospels themselves, merely reciting the rationale for inclduing these four, which correspond to the four corners of the world that Christians were meant to preach to, and to the four points of the Cross (which do the same).

Also, they were the gospels already in use--canonicity is, in general, determined by what people already read, not what an authority would like them to start reading. There's a reason why Shakespeare is seen as definitive of the English Renaissance; the same with the gospels, in a sense.
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Thanks cradle

Post  Thereforeiam on Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:29 pm

for explaining that and it makes perfect sense that the writing styles should appeal to the different peoples of that time. I've also always wondered how the passion of Christ according to the Gospels in His last 15 hours could contain such detail considering the apostles (less John) were nowhere to be found after Judas' kiss.

Another wonder of mine is why the Romans or Herod's spies didn't outright witness a miracle or two after the word got around about Jesus. That seems out of character for both of those factions not to have followed him closely to see if indeed He was a subversive or......... The Messiah.
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That's a good question

Post  cradlerc on Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:02 am

about the detail surrounding the Passion. One explanation is that they were lurking around, of course,incognito. Another is that there were eywitnesses--the women. One analysis of Luke's gospel that I've found particularly interesting suggests that Luke (or the originator of the gospel we call Luke) got his account of Jesus' nativity from Mary.

In regard to your second question, I'm assuming you mean before His crucifixion. My understanding of this is that the Romans simply wouldn't have been much interested in that, at all. It seems unlikely that they would have had much interest in the goings on of a bunch of poor Jews, until it was brought to their attention much later by the Sanhedrin. Even the Jews weren't expecting quite the messiah that we got, and there seem to be indications that mere miracle working would not have been a sign of anything out of the ordinary to anyone--for Jews, it might mean that He was a prophet, for even prophets had raised people from the dead, according to Jewish scripture. For the Romans, it would probably seem like crazy lies, if they even paid attention. As for Herod, he believed the new "king" to be dead.

But also, given the perspective of the gospels and who writes them, it seems possible to me that there were those who spied on Jesus, but the writers would not have known about it, nor would it be important to them in the end, since their writings are more theological than they are biographical. Maybe they were there and did witness miracles, and their stories can be included in those who became early followers. Or, they may have been there and dismissed what they saw as parlor tricks and deception, as many did. You get the sense that there were lots of subversives, and a fari number of people claiming to be prophets or messiahs running around. I'm just thinking out loud, of course--it's an interesting question.
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I agree that I didn't think there was much dispute

Post  VicarJoe on Tue Jun 23, 2009 8:04 am

I was simply stating that I begin with the church as the body of Christ, and I believe that it was inspired to derive a canon of scripture that we can rely upon. That is, I regard the Bible as reliable because I trust the authority of the church that assembled it and declared it trustworthy. I think therefore probably begins from a different place than I do when he considers the Bible. Actually, I'm sure he does.

Just in passing, I start with ecclesiology because of some thinking I did about whether if there were a God, he would want us to know him, and if he did want us to know him, would he not give us some light as to how we could know him.
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One misconception I used to carry...

Post  stihl on Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:48 am

...was imaging that Early Christianity (before the Bible) were a bunch of folks hunkered down in the basement, swapping stories around the fire. This isn't an accurate picture. Things were being written shortly after Christ's resurection (Letters of St. Paul). School's were set up and things became structured. Origen is a good example. He was expelled from the chatecist school in Alexandrai Egypt in about 250 AD for not being properly ordained. So you can see the the effort to maintain authenticity started well before writing became cannonized.

The Church existed before Rome de-criminalized Christianity.
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Early Chrisitanity

Post  stihl on Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:57 am

So, yesterday I was doing a bit more research on the topic of Early Christianity (pre-Nicean Council). Wow, is there some neat stuff out there. One site, sponsored by the RCC, includes all of the early writing in both English and their origninal language. This is the one thing that cracks me up about the Church conspriacy theroies, they put all this stuff our there so anybody can see it.

There was one particular writing about what happened to Judas (rather grusome).
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