Re: [XTalk] Re: Methodological Presupposition re Gospel Accounts
- Hey Mike,
"Or it is or might be an example of using names of
dead folks to lend credence to fictional events.
(IOW, Bauckham's argument is of the weakest sort.)"
Paul used the apostles' names and some were not dead then. But suppose we
say that they used dead people to create or lend credence to fictional events.
How exactly would you know whether they are using dead people to create
fictional events or in fact describing a historical event? Mere rhetoric can't be
it since people use rhetoric for describing events. From the other post, it
seems to me that your metaphysical commitments is what guides you to
concluding that a certain event is fictional or not.
"They could hardly "know" something which is false.
Eyewitness testimony is one of the worst types of
evidence, especially if the purported eyewitnesses
are taken on faith and never seriously questioned
as to the veracity of their stories - which seems to
have been pretty much what happened in early Christianity."
We do know that the ancients believed that eyewitness testimony is the best
type of evidence. Even if you disagree with that, that is what they believed
and I believe that many tried to follow that rule. Now, to your philosophical
position that eyewitness testimony is (one of) the worst type of evidence,
then what is a good evidence? And when are we to seriously question testimony?
Billy ate peanut butter sandwiches yesterday and he told Sally. Jeremy
asked, "What did Billy eat?" Sally said, "PB sand." Is Jeremy supposed to say,
"Wait a minute. Did you see a stain of peanut butter in Billy's shirt? Did you
go to his house and see if he actually has peanut butter ?" I think we can
say that that situation is a bit absurd. We simply take testimony by faith (see
Thomas Reid on this point). Now, an ordinary response to that is, "Well, when
the claim is extraordinary, then we need an extraordinary evidence." But
what exactly is an extraordinary claim? Anything that pertains to the
supernatural? But even if it pertains to the extraordinary, if 70,000 people saw a
miracle, then are we just to dismiss them because it's supernatural?
This *is* a great example, because Paul was in fact
*not* an eyewitness. What he saw (assuming he saw
something) was an apparition. Where they are not
invented, other post-resurrection stories appear
to be of the same order.
I think Wright in his resurrection book persuasively argued that Paul did
see Jesus. And I think even Crossan admitted this in one of their dialogues. But
the reason why I used that verse is to show that those who told stories of
Jesus or taught about him tried to argued that they were witnesses. So to be
an eyewitness seems to be of great importance.
"Faithful to historical events"? Yet in NO gospel
does Jesus appear first to Kephas - or separately
to him at any time (except in dreams?) Indeed, for
an event with such significance, there is an
amazing lack of detail and agreement about Jesus'
supposed post-resurrection life. It strikes more
as a spate of sightings, dreams, and hallucinations,
combined with theological creativity than anything else
1 Cor. 15 argues that Jesus did *appear* to Kephas. Now, whether you believe
that or not, the fact is that this non-Pauline tradition is clear in its
intent to tell the readers who the witnesses are. So it is "faithful to
historical events" in that it follows the methodology of using eyewitnesses to argue
a certain point. I think if we also look at the historical context, that the
Christian movement was something unique in that it proclaimed a messiah who
was dead, they would try to convince others by arguing that the stories come
from people who saw Jesus. I don't think a simple fiction narrative would
convince any Jew of that day to believe that Jesus is the messiah unless they
tried to persuade them by saying "Yes, I saw him!" That is why Acts 2:32 seems
to be a usual practice in the Christian movement: "God raised this Jesus; of
this we are all witnesses." Even if one does not believe John 21, for example,
is authentically historical, one can see how being an eyewitness is
important: "It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them,
and we know that his testimony is true." So why would people or gnostics try
to persuade others by using apostles' names or speaking as if they are
eyewitnesses if being an eyewitness is something that is not important?
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