Release of the Dead Sea Scrolls prompts The Vatican to revise the Bible - Page 2 - U2 Feedback

Go Back   U2 Feedback > Lypton Village > Free Your Mind > Free Your Mind Archive
Click Here to Login
 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 12-02-2001, 12:44 AM   #16
ONE
love, blood, life
 
melon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 11,781
Local Time: 11:57 AM
But what about Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34?

"And about three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'"

How could Jesus have had two sets of last words?

But wait...what about Luke 23:46?

"Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit'; and when he had said this he breathed his last."

Then there's John 19:30:

"When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, 'It is finished.' And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit."

But what's the most intriguing is that none of these quotes I got from my Bible were what you stated. Are you wrong? No. Your translation may have stated that, and that's the problem:

1) Four gospels give three different sets of last words, and:

2) Different Biblical translations phrase his last words differently.

When, in fact, it is likely Jesus said nothing at all for His last words, as, duly noted by scholars who studied crucifixion, the method requires one to make huge effort to speak. If Jesus was near death by crucifixion, it is highly unlikely He would have said anything, as He would not have had the strength to state last words.

Melon

------------------
"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time
__________________

__________________
melon is offline  
Old 12-02-2001, 12:48 AM   #17
ONE
love, blood, life
 
melon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 11,781
Local Time: 11:57 AM
The scrolls, I bet, do not challenge the most sacred held beliefs. Jesus, most assuredly, is not challenged. It's the details that are different, and, honestly, show evidence that people tainted subsequent editions of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, with their own prejudices or with honest mistakes in translation.

We're only human. It was a 2000 year old game of telephone, and some messages are likely to get obscured on the way. The totality of the message, however, is likely intact.

Melon

------------------
"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time
__________________

__________________
melon is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 02:50 AM   #18
Refugee
 
Achtung Bubba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: One Nation. Under God.
Posts: 1,513
Local Time: 11:57 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by melon:
But what about Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34?

"And about three o'clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'"

How could Jesus have had two sets of last words?

But wait...what about Luke 23:46?

"Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit'; and when he had said this he breathed his last."

Then there's John 19:30:

"When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, 'It is finished.' And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit."

But what's the most intriguing is that none of these quotes I got from my Bible were what you stated. Are you wrong? No. Your translation may have stated that, and that's the problem:

1) Four gospels give three different sets of last words, and:

2) Different Biblical translations phrase his last words differently.

When, in fact, it is likely Jesus said nothing at all for His last words, as, duly noted by scholars who studied crucifixion, the method requires one to make huge effort to speak. If Jesus was near death by crucifixion, it is highly unlikely He would have said anything, as He would not have had the strength to state last words.

Melon
I don't believe this is evidence that Christ, as you so controversially put it, contradicted himself.

How many sets of last words?

1. Matthew does NOT claim any specific phrase as Christ's last words:

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. - Matthew 27:50 (well separated in context from 27:47)

2. Ditto with Mark:

And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Mark 15:37 (also quite separated from 15:34)

3. Luke seems to suggest an actual quote of Christ's last words, but it's not explicit; Luke doesn't say "And these were Our Lord's last words":

And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.' " Having said this, He breathed His last. - Luke 23:46

4. John seems to fall between Matthew/Mark, who gave no "last words", and Luke, where a case can be made for pointing to His last words:

So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. - John 19:30

This case depends greatly on how closely related the two clauses are -- the clause "He said..." and "He gave up His spirit."

It seems to me that Luke may have actually attempted to record Christ's last words. It's a stretch, but John *might* have as well; but Matthew/Mark didn't. You have AT MOST two sets of last words, not three, and the argument for two sets is tenuous at best.

What contradiction?

For a second, let's indulge the argument that the Gospels suggest multiple sets of final words. Does this mean, as you said, Christ contradicted Himself? That Christ (somehow) had two sets of last words?

Um, no.

What seems more likely is that Christ said quite a few things on the cross (contrary to the belief that you cannot speak while crucified -- AND as evidenced by Luke's inclusion of "Forgive them, Father" and the conversation with the convicted criminals; and by Christ speaking from the cross to His mother and John, as recorded in John's Gospel). Given that, each Gospel writer was struck by certain statements (or only heard or remember certain statements) and included them in their works. These statements have since been confused as "last words", or were intended by the authors to be, in their divinely inspired views, the last *important* words.

Either way, it isn't a contradiction on the part of Christ. A legitimate contradiction would be if He said X and Y, and X and Y were contradictory. After nearly two millenia of study, no such contradiction has been found.

(And it seems to me that if this popular and dangerous Nazarene passing himself off as a religious teacher said something contradictory or hypocritical, the Pharisees would have caught Him on it long before us.)

The issue of liklihood.

"When, in fact, it is likely Jesus said nothing at all for His last words, as, duly noted by scholars who studied crucifixion, the method requires one to make huge effort to speak. If Jesus was near death by crucifixion, it is highly unlikely He would have said anything, as He would not have had the strength to state last words."

Now THIS is a legitimate argument...

...unless, of course, you consider the other unlikely events chronicled in the Gospels, including - but not limited to - the following:

* The fulfillment of EVERY Old Testement prophesy about the Messiah (including the seemingly contradictory prophesies about coming from Bethleham, Egypt, and Narazeth).

* The Virgin Birth.

* Walking on water.

* Commanding the sea to become immediately calm.

* Feeding thousands with essentially scraps of food.

* Healing an untold number of the blind, lame, leperous, and insane.

* Raising a man from the dead.

* The Resurrection itself.

Achtung Bubba

[This message has been edited by Achtung Bubba (edited 12-02-2001).]
__________________
Achtung Bubba is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 10:57 AM   #19
ONE
love, blood, life
 
melon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 11,781
Local Time: 11:57 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
Now THIS is a legitimate argument...

...unless, of course, you consider the other unlikely events chronicled in the Gospels, including - but not limited to - the following:

* The fulfillment of EVERY Old Testement prophesy about the Messiah (including the seemingly contradictory prophesies about coming from Bethleham, Egypt, and Narazeth).

* The Virgin Birth.

* Walking on water.

* Commanding the sea to become immediately calm.

* Feeding thousands with essentially scraps of food.

* Healing an untold number of the blind, lame, leperous, and insane.

* Raising a man from the dead.

* The Resurrection itself.
Well, here's the thing: this may be a case of circular reasoning on the part of the gospel writers.

Things I do not dispute? The Resurrection and Virgin Birth. Why don't I? Faith really, and faith alone.

As for the miracles, they could likely have been exaggerations or self-fulfilled prophesies, meaning that the gospel writers, clamoring to get people to believe, made him more of a circus show than He really was. Intellectually, we are more likely to handle Jesus on message alone, but, with a very low educated audience, magic tricks might have to be in order.

The same goes with the last words. Do you honestly believe that people, forty years after the fact, would remember His exact last words? Keep in mind that these were the days before mass media and news agencies. The gospels themselves? Matthew was mostly taken from Mark, the first gospel, but added a Jewish bent on it. Luke was written by a Palestinian. John is totally unrelated to all three, but was written 60-70 years after the fact.

Regardless, His last words, or lack thereof, do not matter, in my opinion.

Regardless, getting back to the original topic, mistranslation, Jesus does contradict Himself on divorce in the KJV.

"But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Matt. 5:32 [KJV])

However, the Catholic Bible states otherwise:

"But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

Objectively, the Catholic Bible is closest in original intent. The contentious word is "porneia," which refers to "incest," and is a reference to Leviticus 18:6-18, which commands which family members one cannot have sex with. "Unlawful," while incredibly ambiguous, makes sense in the context that the Jewish-minded Christians behind Matthew required full adherence to the Mosaic Law, including dietary and circumcision laws.

This was really my point in regards to the topic at hand. The original intent might be uncontradictory, but, through time and translation, the meaning is changed that contradiction may happen. Personally, I think that "unchastity" or "unlawful" should be replaced with "incestuous," but oh well. With this in mind, Jesus does not contradict Himself on divorce, but, under the KJV, He does contradict Himself on divorce.

Anyway, let's try and keep this civil, okay?

Melon

------------------
"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time

[This message has been edited by melon (edited 12-03-2001).]
__________________
melon is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 01:04 PM   #20
Refugee
 
Achtung Bubba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: One Nation. Under God.
Posts: 1,513
Local Time: 11:57 AM
Melon,

I thought my post was quite civil - as was your reply. There's really no need to preempt the outbreak of an argument by asking me to keep this civil.


Moving on, I think I'll first address the point most salient to the current discussion, namely mistranslation and contradiction.

While it is indeed possible that the Bible can be mistranslated (perhaps inevitable, given the large chasms of differences among English translations), I see mistranslation and contradiction as two completely different things.

The example you cited appears to be two translations of the same verse, and it raises the discussion of mistranslation - of whether one translation is substantially closer to the author's intended meaning. It is not a case in which "Jesus does contradict Himself on divorce in the KJV" - at least, if one translation suggests that he contradicts Himself, you do not provide substantial evidence.

Essentially, the evidence that is needed for contradiction is this: two different verses within the same more-or-less accepted translation, verses concerning Christ's words or behavior that indicate hypocrisy - saying two things that are utterly irreconcilable or saying one thing and doing another.

Until such evidence is provided, the subject that we are discussing will remain one of mistranslation, not one of Christ contradicting Himself.

And, as a serious aside, you were not quoting the King James Version of the Holy Bible. Matthew 5:23, KJV, is as follows:

"But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."

Whatever translation you used is clearly not KJV.


On to the subject of miracles.

I suggested that the fact that Jesus spoke on the cross isn't so amazing, given His track record of miracles performed. You responded by questioning that track record!

To be honest, I'm a bit astounded. While your reply does appear to be one of the few ways to hold your ground on the unliklihood of last words, it seems to be a position very few Christians would seriously take.

Further, it seems quite odd that, while you are very skeptical about most of the miracles, you cling to the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, the two miracles that make healing the blind seem commonplace, the two miracles that are, for most, the hardest to accept.

In fact, I can't accept the premise that the Apostles would - after seeing Christ risen from the dead - begin to fabricate other lesser miracles to make "him more of a circus show than He really was". It makes no sense to risk discrediting such an amazing event as a man coming back to life by adding lesser amazing events that, even forty years later, could have been revealed as utter fabrications. And it makes even less sense that a great and good Man mighty enough to raise Himself from the dead could not or would not meet the needs of the hungry, blind, leperous.

No, I see only two reasonable possibilities: either the miracles of Christ are on the whole true, or they are all lies.

(Either way, many people who heard the story believed it so thoroughly that they were willing to die rather than reject it. What's more peculiar is that first-hand witnesses, including Peter and other Apostles, were also willing to die for their beliefs. It seems totally against human nature that men who fabricated these stories would be willing to die slowly and painfully for the same.)

It seems to me that the question of Christ's miracles begs the more important question: was Christ merely a man, or also the Son of God?

If He was merely a man (short of being a prophet or a servent of Satan), miracles would be out of His reach.

And if He was the God Incarnate, miracles seem to be necessary - to fulfill prophecy and bring about salvation; to dramatize God's plan of redemption and reign of supreme authority over nature; and to show that He is the ultimate power through which other great servants and miracle workers (Moses especially) acted.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that the miracles did not occur, that Jesus was (as so many thoughtful people like to say) a "great teacher", a man whose message we would like to "handle intellectually."

What then was His message?

"Think not that I am come to destory the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destory, but to fulfil." Matthew 4:17.

"All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." Matthew 11:27.

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Matthew 28:18.

"Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of theives." Mark 11:17, referring to the Temple (see also Luke 19:46).

"I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." Mark 14:62, in response to 'Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?'

"Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached." Luke 7:22.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.

"My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." John 5:18, to which 'the Jews sought to kill him, because he... said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God' (5:19).

"I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." John 6:35.

I hope I do not go too far in making my point, but I also hope my point is clear: inherent and indivisble from Christ's moral teachings is his assertions of divine power, of being the Son of God and the Son of Man; His claim to the Temple; His working of miracles, and His key role in the salvation of man.

Jesus claims to be God, and miraculous works would certainly materialize en masse as God comes down to His creation and finds so many in need of physical healing, the restoration of hope, and the blessings of forgiveness.

I believe C.S. Lewis said it best, in the closing paragraph to "The Shocking Alternative", a chapter in Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
__________________
Achtung Bubba is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 01:24 PM   #21
The Fly
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: orange, ca, usa
Posts: 132
Local Time: 04:57 PM
Melon and Bubba,

I don't know if you fine gentlemen are aware of this or not but they have actually found fragments of manuscripts that date from the time that Christ walked the Earth. The manuscripts contain two sayings of Jesus.

Perhaps this is the "Q" that many scholars speak about, or perhaps it could be the Apostle Matthew's very own notes (as a Roman Tax Collector he would have known a certain style of shorthand that would have allowed him to take notes as he walked through the Judean countryside with Jesus.) Whatever the case may be, there is now evidence that it didn't take 40 years before the sayings of Jesus were first recorded.
__________________
ocu2fan is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 01:44 PM   #22
Refugee
 
Anthony's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: London, UK
Posts: 1,538
Local Time: 04:57 PM
I always knew that there was probably tonnes worth of information that the Vatican could have used and were probably more relevant to the question of faith, but in all honesty, I don't think the Vatican will review or modify anything.

Yes, they will be 'prompted' to make changes, but its more than likely that they will miss their cue, because the Vatican is one of the most pig-headed and arrogant institutions in the entire world. Time after time after time they have always shown how arrogant they are in their conviction that 'The Holy Church of God' does not make mistakes. What nonsense.

Not only do they make mistakes, but, as the posts on this thread have proven, there are quite a few distinctions in translations, validity of texts and contradictions. And yes, I do think Christ calling to God 'Why hast thou foresaken me?' does constitute as a contradiction. At the end of the day, Jesus was human (and the New Testament does not only acknolwedge it, it flaunts it) and humans always make mistakes and contradict themselves, it is puerile to think that Jesus was infallible in some way or area of divine expertise.

This is the reason why I do not take the Bible as Gospel. Alterations do and should continue to exist, and the text is constantly evolving; why take any of it as gospel?

I notice that many of the defenders of the Bible and Literal interpreters of the Bible haven't posted anything on this thread yet (no names, ), either because they do not recognise this thread as valid (if so, why don't they say so?) or because this thread raises too many fundamental questions on their interpretation of the Bible within theirselves, to which I add; are their convictions so weak that they can not be questioned?

I am not conducting an attack on those who have a different approach to the Bible and Catholicism (I, for one, don't believe in the miracles mentioned in the New Testament, I don't believe that the Virgin Mary was a virgin - as the Maquis de Sade said 'an entire religion based on an oxymoron' - and I don't believe in all those other miracles mentioned in the Old testament either. Don't believe in Genesis, Noah's Ark or the Ten Commandments - they are mere symbolic representations made up by learned Hebrew gentlemen. In fact, I don't believe in anything except that Jesus was very wise in most respects, and this made him the important Icon he is today), all I am saying is that the fact that new and improved texts that pop up all the time should be reviewed and accepted as other concepts of the truth, making the Bible not so much as THE last word on the Truth, but a worthwhile text book on it that opens the door to it.

The person who believes that everything is set in stone, including the truth, should be prepared to see his or her convictions questioned; I for one don't believe that the Truth can be found within the hollow of ancient scriptures.

The Vatican will denounce these scriptures and will once again prove how misguded and arrogant they are, and anyone else who follows such thinking should ask themselves why they do so.

Ant.

__________________
Anthony is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 02:15 PM   #23
ONE
love, blood, life
 
melon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 11,781
Local Time: 11:57 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
Melon,

I thought my post was quite civil - as was your reply. There's really no need to preempt the outbreak of an argument by asking me to keep this civil.
It was civil. I am hoping that it will stay that way.

Quote:
Moving on, I think I'll first address the point most salient to the current discussion, namely mistranslation and contradiction.

While it is indeed possible that the Bible can be mistranslated (perhaps inevitable, given the large chasms of differences among English translations), I see mistranslation and contradiction as two completely different things.

The example you cited appears to be two translations of the same verse, and it raises the discussion of mistranslation - of whether one translation is substantially closer to the author's intended meaning. It is not a case in which "Jesus does contradict Himself on divorce in the KJV" - at least, if one translation suggests that he contradicts Himself, you do not provide substantial evidence.

Essentially, the evidence that is needed for contradiction is this: two different verses within the same more-or-less accepted translation, verses concerning Christ's words or behavior that indicate hypocrisy - saying two things that are utterly irreconcilable or saying one thing and doing another.

Until such evidence is provided, the subject that we are discussing will remain one of mistranslation, not one of Christ contradicting Himself.

And, as a serious aside, you were not quoting the King James Version of the Holy Bible. Matthew 5:23, KJV, is as follows:

"But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."
Well, that only adds to the mess. Maybe "unchastity" came from the NIV? Ask DebbieSG...that's where I got the quote from. "Unchastity" and "fornication" are both incorrect translations of porneia, which is a reference to incest.

Quote:
On to the subject of miracles.

I suggested that the fact that Jesus spoke on the cross isn't so amazing, given His track record of miracles performed. You responded by questioning that track record!

To be honest, I'm a bit astounded. While your reply does appear to be one of the few ways to hold your ground on the unliklihood of last words, it seems to be a position very few Christians would seriously take.
These are the Catholic official positions. You would also be interested to know that Catholicism doesn't believe in the archetypical heaven or hell, with the clouds and the fire. But, considering that you are Protestant, it does not bother me that we disagree on this. What does bother me is that Catholics don't know this either. The Pope is seemingly concerned with politics lately.

Quote:
Further, it seems quite odd that, while you are very skeptical about most of the miracles, you cling to the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection, the two miracles that make healing the blind seem commonplace, the two miracles that are, for most, the hardest to accept.
Well, the Dead Sea Scrolls might contradict the Virgin birth. If it weren't for the fact that the Christian stoic movement (not to be confused with classical Greek stoicism) exulted virginity to the highest place amongst humanity, it might not bother people that Mary created Jesus sexually. Perhaps Mary and Joseph did create Jesus in body, but the soul--the essence that makes us who we are--was the Son of God. Doesn't shake my faith either way.

As for the Resurrection, without it, what do we have? But it's most interesting that you said that these two are the hardest to accept, and I think that the gospel writers knew this as well. People most surely would have been skeptical just on the basis of Jesus preaching, dying, and resurrecting. They wanted more. While the apostles and next-generation disciples had the convenience of knowing Jesus or knowing people who knew Jesus, this might have been a harder sell for Gentiles outside of Jerusalem. How do you sell it then? Miracles. For an uneducated audience, for those proverbial "doubting Thomas" types, they wanted proof. Sell them on miracles, you can sell them on the tenets of His message.

Quote:
In fact, I can't accept the premise that the Apostles would - after seeing Christ risen from the dead - begin to fabricate other lesser miracles to make "him more of a circus show than He really was". It makes no sense to risk discrediting such an amazing event as a man coming back to life by adding lesser amazing events that, even forty years later, could have been revealed as utter fabrications. And it makes even less sense that a great and good Man mighty enough to raise Himself from the dead could not or would not meet the needs of the hungry, blind, leperous.
I do not believe the apostles did this as much as later disciples. The gospels themselves are not written by any of the apostles, nor is it believed that any of them were written by disciples close to the apostles. In absence of earlier documents than A.D. 70, it is really hard to say. Like the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, I have a feeling that you would find stories expounded or blown up out of proportion in contrast to the earlier accounts. It's kind of like how rumors start: you find out someone had sex with someone. Someone else says that that girl had sex with two people at once. Someone else then adds more gratuitous details, etc. Likewise, it's possible with the miracles as well, which were smaller in scale, but, through the innaccuracy of oral tradition and time, more and more details are added, making it the grandiose scale that they are now.

Quote:
No, I see only two reasonable possibilities: either the miracles of Christ are on the whole true, or they are all lies.
A true, essentialist faith. What would you do if the Dead Sea Scrolls proved otherwise? Would your faith crumble on such a foundation?

Quote:
(Either way, many people who heard the story believed it so thoroughly that they were willing to die rather than reject it. What's more peculiar is that first-hand witnesses, including Peter and other Apostles, were also willing to die for their beliefs. It seems totally against human nature that men who fabricated these stories would be willing to die slowly and painfully for the same.)
It's not about fabrication of Jesus and His divinity. It isn't that that I question. Human nature is not about fabrication as much as distortion. You remember the games of telephone when you were in grade school. Go down a list of twenty people, and what do you get? A slight remnant of the original message. Like it or not, the gospels, as we have present, were not written by the apostles, and there's no evidence to believe that they were written by anyone close to the apostles. However, what you do have cases of are that Matthew and Luke are taken from the gospel of Mark. The study of the written language has hinted toward that, and, especially in the case of Jesus' crucifixion, Matthew and Mark are identical in places. However, read the entire texts of both and you get ideological bents, additions, omissions, etc. Basically, all four gospels maintain the same basic message, but it's the details that are different.

Quote:
It seems to me that the question of Christ's miracles begs the more important question: was Christ merely a man, or also the Son of God?

If He was merely a man (short of being a prophet or a servent of Satan), miracles would be out of His reach.

And if He was the God Incarnate, miracles seem to be necessary - to fulfill prophecy and bring about salvation; to dramatize God's plan of redemption and reign of supreme authority over nature; and to show that He is the ultimate power through which other great servants and miracle workers (Moses especially) acted.
Your question reminds me of the Jews who taunted Jesus to save Himself from the cross if He was truly the Son of God.

What's most noteworthy is not what God or Jesus are capable of. They can do anything. What's most interesting is what they chose not to do.

And you accentuate my point, yet again:

"miracles seem to be necessary - to fulfill prophecy and bring about salvation; to dramatize God's plan of redemption and reign of supreme authority over nature"

The people of 2000 years ago--and perhaps now it seems--were too weak in faith to accept Jesus totally on His message. I don't need miracles--true or untrue--to believe in Jesus.

Quote:
For the sake of argument, let's assume that the miracles did not occur, that Jesus was (as so many thoughtful people like to say) a "great teacher", a man whose message we would like to "handle intellectually."

What then was His message?


Jesus' message was to love God and love one another. St. Paul confirms this:

"Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, (namely) 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:8-10)

Quote:
"Think not that I am come to destory the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destory, but to fulfil." Matthew 4:17.
If you believe this, I hope you follow the entire Mosaic Law, including dietary restrictions, forbidden clothing, and circumcision, because this is what the Church of Jerusalem, one of two of the earliest Christian sects and the writer of Matthew, believed. Modern Christianity is a derivative of the Church of Antioch, although, most interestingly, Christian fundamentalism seems to be a derivative of Gnosticism, which was all but wiped out in the third century A.D.

Quote:
"All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." Matthew 11:27.

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Matthew 28:18.

"Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of theives." Mark 11:17, referring to the Temple (see also Luke 19:46).

"I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." Mark 14:62, in response to 'Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?'

"Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached." Luke 7:22.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.

"My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." John 5:18, to which 'the Jews sought to kill him, because he... said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God' (5:19).
Heh...this last quote was one of the favorites of Nazi Germany, and was the source of 2000 years of state-sponsored anti-Semitism.

Quote:
"I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." John 6:35.

I hope I do not go too far in making my point, but I also hope my point is clear: inherent and indivisble from Christ's moral teachings is his assertions of divine power, of being the Son of God and the Son of Man; His claim to the Temple; His working of miracles, and His key role in the salvation of man.

Jesus claims to be God, and miraculous works would certainly materialize en masse as God comes down to His creation and finds so many in need of physical healing, the restoration of hope, and the blessings of forgiveness.
Most of these quotes I have no problem with, although to center one's faith simply on whether miracles occurred or not seems shaky at best. Back to the original intent of this entire topic, what would you do if the Dead Sea Scrolls or any early text contradicted these claims? What if they contradicted the entire Bible, rendering it untrustworthy? Would you still have faith, or would it crumble on such a foundation? To demand all or none is shaky indeed, but what we mostly have here is ideological difference, and it's fallacious to believe that all Christians must think alike. I respect your beliefs, but do not share them 100%. Even early Christianity wasn't in 100% agreement, and the gospels show that in critical analysis.

Quote:
I believe C.S. Lewis said it best, in the closing paragraph to "The Shocking Alternative", a chapter in Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Quoting C.S. Lewis is, honestly, worthless. C.S. Lewis was no closer to God than you or I, and, somehow, because you and many others agree with him, he's somehow more right than others? He is definitely the born-again poster boy, though.

Regardless, what I said does not contradict with what I believe about Jesus, whom I see as 100% man and 100% God at the same time. C.S. Lewis, obviously, trumpeted the God portion of Jesus and was highly essentialist, as was the entire Christian world during when Lewis wrote this book in 1943, so it was very easy for Lewis to say what he did. Lewis is a product of his surroundings.

As for me, I try, at least, to trumpet both. You have the Jesus who boldly confronted the Pharisees and then you have the Jesus who lamented His own impending death in the Garden of Gethsemane. Is it possible to believe in Jesus in an incredibly post-modern world? I think it is, and, even if you think what I write is bad--i.e., you disagree with it--that is the underlying message of my writings. If the Bible was wholly disproven tomorrow, my faith in Jesus would still be there. Can you say the same for yourself?

Melon

------------------
"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time

[This message has been edited by melon (edited 12-03-2001).]
__________________
melon is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 02:43 PM   #24
Refugee
 
Achtung Bubba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: One Nation. Under God.
Posts: 1,513
Local Time: 11:57 AM
Well, Anthony, to be honest, I'm a Southern Baptist - which is not only a Protestant denomination, but one that has historically distanced itself from the Catholic Church. Thus, I for one am not in a position to say too much about the Catholic Church, one way or another.

But on most other points, I have an observation or two.

Most Christian theologians admit that Christ is fully human; otherwise, He could not stand in our place to accept the punishment of sin - to serve as a equivalent substitute. But He is also fully God, the only being who could be perfect enough to serve as the blameless sacrifice - the flawless substitute.

That said, Melon and I were discussing the fact that different Gospels seemingly attributed different "final words" to Christ; we weren't debating the substance of those words. Still, "Why hast thou forsaken me?" is NOT NECESSARILY a contradiction on Christ's part.

According to Christian theology, the punishment of sin *had* to be accepted by *someone* in order for man to be redeemed, and Christ was that blameless sacrifice. He suffered betrayal, abandonment, false witnesses, humiliation, torture, physical death, AND the ULTIMATE punishment for sin - spiritual removal from the presence from God.

Theologians believe (as do I) that Christ cried out "Why hast thou forsaken me?" because God HAD FORSAKEN HIM, in order that He might suffer all the penalties of sin, so that we could be saved from the very same.

It is not puerile to believe that Christ was and is infallible (and I say "is" because we Christians also believe that, having conquered death, He is alive this very moment). If one believes that Christ is God Incarnate, than it follows that Christ can very well be a perfect man. And the question of Christ being God is the question of faith on which all of Christianity hangs.

In response to the question of the infallibility of the Bible itself, I believe that the Bible contains truth without any error. By this, I mean that the original manuscripts were written by people divinely inspired by God in the form of the Holy Spirit; the Bible is not "mere symbolic representations made up by learned
Hebrew gentlemen". The manuscripts from which we have gathered our knowledge may be imperfect or incomplete, and translations may further distance us from the original works. That should compel us to continue looking for older, more complete manuscripts and more accurate, vital translations. But that imperfection of our copies doesn't detract from the divine perfection of the originals (wherever they may be). That doesn't so completely muddle our scriptures to lead us to nothing more than horrible interpretations (after all, the main themes of the Bible are emphasized throughout - including the truth that God actively intervenes in our existence through supernatural miracles). And we cannot ignore the element in the Christian life that makes the Bible so contemporary to our lives - the revelation of truth in the Bible through the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian map to God may be an imperfect copy of a flawless original. But no other maps are so close to that original masterpiece of God working through man.

And you were wondering were the fundamentalists were?

To de Sade's comment, I can only say that the Bible is full of seeming contradictions: Murders and adulterers are hand-picked to be God's servants. A virgin gives birth to the Son of God. A man dies only to come back to life three days later. The singular God exists in three persons, all-powerful and yet very personal, just and yet merciful.

Fortunately, we are not asked to understand - only to come "as children" and simply believe.

Finally, I must respond to this statment:

I don't believe in anything except that Jesus was very wise in most respects, and this made him the important Icon he is today

Again, refer to my arguments above, particularly the Lewis quote. I once again assert that you cannot read the Gospel, honestly believe that the man called Jesus at least said (more-or-less) what is written in the Gospels, and call him "very wise".

This Jew who was born 2,000 years ago (long after the creation of the universe) claims to be and speaks with the authority of the sovreign Creator Himself.

He is either God, Satan, or insane. A "wise teacher" is simply not an option.

(I see Melon has replied to my last post; I will get to that when I can. )
__________________
Achtung Bubba is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 04:10 PM   #25
War Child
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Burbank, CA
Posts: 560
Local Time: 11:57 AM
Quote:
Let me get this right... A bunch of scholars have been poring over these scrolls for half a century, and we are JUST NOW hearing that the word "virgin" may best be translated "young girl", and that's supposed to shake the validity of the scriptures?
Until 1991, only 7 people on Earth were permitted to view the scrolls.
__________________
DoctorGonzo is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 04:27 PM   #26
Refugee
 
Achtung Bubba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: One Nation. Under God.
Posts: 1,513
Local Time: 11:57 AM
Melon,

Okay, the KJV interpretation may be a bit off from the original manuscripts. I grant that; I still also assert that that fact doesn't demonstrate some contradiction of Christ.


I was not aware that the Catholic Church offically disregards every miracle, save the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.

In fact, forgive me for being blunt, but I doubt that that is the official position. Why do I doubt? TRANSUBSTANTIATION.

If you can provide a link to online evidence, I'd greatly appreciate it.


There is a deeper issue surrounding the Virgin Birth, namely the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."


There are also deeper reasons for miracles: to demonstrate the different kingdom Christ was bringing (personal change vs. the cataclysmic miracles of the Old Testament); to show that the kingdom was for all by ministering to the rejects of society; to teach by example the necessity of addressing physical needs in order to successfully address spiritual needs; to parallel and surpass Moses in sovreignty (compare miracles of feeding and miracles involving water - and the ease with which Christ accomplished both); and to demonstrate - as the rest of the Bible does - that God is a Being of actions, not just words.

(And while it may be true that miracles help convince the "hard sell", that could be another reason Christ employed them, instead of a reason early Christians fabricated or exaggerated stories about them. The Gospels seem pretty true to life in their description of the very imperfect disciples - none of them were learned rabbis, some were arrogant hotheads, some were "Doubting Thomas's", most didn't really know who Jesus was up until even the Crucifixion, and all betrayed or abandoned Him in His time of need. Who's to say that they didn't need "miraculous signs and wonders" just as much as the common peasant?)

Either way, here we have four gospel accounts (our four best biographies of Christ), all of which assert that Christ performed miracles. Miracles are not unique in these four books, as they occur also in the Old Testament and Acts (and even the Revelation can be considered a miracle of sorts). The same type of miracles are found in all four accounts, with some specific miracles being referenced in three or four of them (walking on water, feeding of five thousand, the resurrection of the ruler's daughter).

There's every reason to believe that the recounts of at least a great many miracles are accurate, and yet you persist in suggesting that the early Christians are lying or exaggerating.

I find your explanation particularly hard to swallow when it's still easy for those early Christians to check and find out whether so-and-so actually came back to life, and when I imagine it to be quite difficult to exaggerate into a miracle like walking on water. Honestly, how does that rumor get started? Was Christ an above average swimmer?

It makes me wonder why you refuse to genuinely consider the possibility of miracles throughout Christ's ministry.


I honestly don't know how I would respond to the Dead Sea Scrolls "proving" the New Testament wrong.

But academia would have one tough time proving the validity of the scrolls over the New Testament. Any argument you've brought up against the records of miracles could probably be levelled against the scrolls as well.

And, ultimately, I have faith that the Holy Spirit will guide me and inform me on what's true and what's not.


Yes, Christ's message was found in loving your neighbor. But there is more:

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This the first and great commandment." Matthew 12:38-39.

("And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 12:40-41.)

Those are the greatest commandments, but there's also the message of salvation found in John 3:16. In that message is the implication that Christ is the Son of God. That said, Christ *should* be able to will any number of miracles -- and the gospels make it very clear that Christ did in fact perform many, many miracles.


No, I do not follow Mosaic law, and I will probably never follow it to the letter. But I struggle to follow that law in spirit (namely, love God absolutely and love your neighbor as yourself) - and I believe that is what Christ in part meant by fulfilling the law, as detailed in the Sermon on the Mount.

(It's also why I'm not too worried about the exact wording of every verse and the literal-vs.-figurative nature of the first few chapters of Genesis. I have faith that the Bible as a whole is true, that I know its most basic tenets, and that the Holy Spirit will guide me through the details.)


Heh...this last quote was one of the favorites of Nazi Germany, and was the source of 2000 years of state-sponsored anti-Semitism.

I clearly used that quote to demonstrate the outrageous claims that Christ was making - claims that would have political and religous leaders conspiring against the man making those claims.

Melon, I have no idea how your statement above is relevant to the discussion, and I would appreciate it if you explained why you said it, and what you are implying.


Again, I would trust the Holy Spirit to guide me if there was a legitimate case for contradiction through the Dead Sea Scrolls or some other document.

At this point, I feel no need to answer further, because I don't know how this scenario could possibly come to pass:

What if they contradicted the entire Bible, rendering it untrustworthy?

First of all, many works contradict the entire Bible, including the Egyption Book of the Dead, books on Wicca, and Dianetics. My faith is not shaken.

And if the Dead Sea Scrolls were drastically different than the entire Bible, the question then becomes, why trust the scrolls? We have a large number of manuscripts and fragments - how many? hundreds? thousands? - that more-or-less fit together. Why would this one document overturn two millenia's worth of evidence?

Present a plausible scenario, and I'll address it further.


I didn't quote C.S. Lewis to assert something like, "Lewis said so, so it must be true". I quoted him because to do otherwise would be to present a plageurized, watered-down argument - and I wanted to cite the reference so the curious could the read the passage on their own.

That said, I have always looked past his reputation and past his "existentialist surroundings" and looked at his argument. His argument is this: Christ's statements (both what he said and the authority with which he said it) make it clear that Christ thought he was the Son of God, part of the Holy Trinity that created the entire universe, even His physical form.

Lewis concludes that he was either insane, possessed, or honest, and I see no flaw with his arguments.

I can appreciate that you apparently have very little respect for C.S. Lewis. That's fine; assume that his quote is mine, and please address it on its merits.


Finally, there's this statement:

If the Bible was wholly disproven tomorrow, my faith in Jesus would still be there. Can you say the same for yourself?

I will again reiterate that I do not believe the Bible can be "wholly disproven" (or proven, for that matter).

But, having that said that, I must now say with complete honesty that my faith in Christ would be terribly, perhaps irrevocably shaken if the Bible was *somehow* disproven.

You claim that your faith in Jesus would still be there. As spiritual as that sounds, it begs certain questions:

What faith? What Jesus?

Let's say the Bible was *somehow* disproven, to one of these degrees:

1) Say it can be shown, without a doubt, that while he was a Nazerene crucified around A.D. 30, Jesus was not resurrected. At that point, your faith is in a dead man, an arrogant man who claimed he could beat death but lost, a man who was humiliated, executed and long since decomposed.

If your faith is in his wonderous teachings, than we're talking apples and oranges - your faith that his principles work vs. my faith that Christ lives as my risen Lord and Savior.

If your faith is in Jesus as Lord, Savior, and Son of God, and he is actually dead, than you're just worshipping one of us, and you might as well worship the remains of your ancestors.

2) Let's say that it's proven that Jesus never actually existed. At that point, your faith is either a childish, futile faith in an imaginary being - fairy-tale kin to Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy - or the "idea" of Jesus, which is again far different from my faith in a real and personal Being.

3) Let's finally say that it's been proven that the Bible's Author and central figure, God Himself, does not exist. In that case, your faith is in the imaginary Son of an imaginary God. If you can still keep that faith up, great, but it's still hollow and devoid of meaning.


Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.

Faith in the Bible is necessary for any true Christian.


"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1.
__________________
Achtung Bubba is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 04:56 PM   #27
War Child
 
Spiral_Staircase's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Knoxville, TN, USA
Posts: 679
Local Time: 10:57 AM
just a couple of thoughts on the discussion:

Melon, I agree that the miracles Jesus performed (or that the NT claims he performed) are not necessary for him to be God. But I also believe that he was capable of perfoming them. You clearly believe that as well. So I'm curious why you dispute the miracles in the gospels? I'm sure there's a reason beyond the fact that it would have been advantageous for the gospel writers, or that they weren't necessary, but those are the only reasons I can pull from what you've written. I'm not trying to be Mr. Sassypants (have you ever met that guy? What an arse.) but am genuinely curious why you doubt those miracles.

Also, I can understand you being tired of C.S. Lewis quotes. I think the guy was wicked smart, but even I got tired of him for a while there. He was pretty much the patron saint of the college I went to. Anyway, Bubba said "I think C.S. Lewis said it best..." All he was doing was quoting Lewis, because he thought Lewis said what he was trying to say better than Bubba could say it himself. Do you really believe that's worthless? I guess I would disagree. I assume you're not claiming that Kureishi is somehow more right than others. But I think there is some value in quoting someone because you find their words particularly profound, beautiful, or powerful.

**I started this reply and then went into an hour-long meeting, and just finished it, so it's written without seeing Bubba's response.

[This message has been edited by Spiral_Staircase (edited 12-03-2001).]

Crap. I just read Bubba's response, so I guess what I wrote is now totally irrelevant. Please go about your business; there's nothing to see here.....move along...move along....

[This message has been edited by Spiral_Staircase (edited 12-03-2001).]
__________________
Spiral_Staircase is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 07:05 PM   #28
ONE
love, blood, life
 
melon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 11,781
Local Time: 11:57 AM
Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
Melon,

Okay, the KJV interpretation may be a bit off from the original manuscripts. I grant that; I still also assert that that fact doesn't demonstrate some contradiction of Christ.
No, it doesn't contradict Christ, and that was never my assertion. My point was that contradictions exist in terms of what He supposedly says, and, as a result, some Christians decide to use these as a basis for their behavior or whatnot. How many people have decided that divorces are okay on the basis of this mistranslated line in Matthew, for instance?

Quote:
I was not aware that the Catholic Church offically disregards every miracle, save the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.
Not exactly. The Church acknowledges the imperfections of the writers of the Bible. They state that, while the miracles exist, they were likely turned into a hyperbole by the gospel writers to accentuate their points.

Quote:
In fact, forgive me for being blunt, but I doubt that that is the official position. Why do I doubt? TRANSUBSTANTIATION.
Well, this brings another point. If you read the gospels, Jesus does state that the Bread and the Wine are, indeed, Him. If you are to take the gospels literally, then why do all Protestant sects take the view of Martin Luther that Jesus is only spiritually present in the Bread and the Wine? Is that not a contradiction of the literal word of the gospels?

Quote:
If you can provide a link to online evidence, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Much of this does come from my own philosophical exploration, but much of it does have a scholarly basis. Ask something specifically, and I shall try and find somewhere online with evidence. Part of the problem will be that quite a bit of this topic, specifically, comes from my high school religion classes, and I don't have the textbooks anymore.

Quote:
There is a deeper issue surrounding the Virgin Birth, namely the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

There are also deeper reasons for miracles: to demonstrate the different kingdom Christ was bringing (personal change vs. the cataclysmic miracles of the Old Testament); to show that the kingdom was for all by ministering to the rejects of society; to teach by example the necessity of addressing physical needs in order to successfully address spiritual needs; to parallel and surpass Moses in sovreignty (compare miracles of feeding and miracles involving water - and the ease with which Christ accomplished both); and to demonstrate - as the rest of the Bible does - that God is a Being of actions, not just words.

(And while it may be true that miracles help convince the "hard sell", that could be another reason Christ employed them, instead of a reason early Christians fabricated or exaggerated stories about them. The Gospels seem pretty true to life in their description of the very imperfect disciples - none of them were learned rabbis, some were arrogant hotheads, some were "Doubting Thomas's", most didn't really know who Jesus was up until even the Crucifixion, and all betrayed or abandoned Him in His time of need. Who's to say that they didn't need "miraculous signs and wonders" just as much as the common peasant?)
Well, I must admit, my feelings are not incredibly strong one way or another regarding the miracles. There was once a "How much of a Catholic are you?" quiz, which basically puts you in gradients--traditionalist, neo-traditionalist, liberal, radical, and recovering--and when it came to the miracle questions, I really didn't know what to say. I don't really wholly buy the official argument that they are wholly hyperboles, but I don't wholly buy the argument that they are 100% literally correct either. I can see why they would be probably exaggerated, partly on the basis of the "telephone" argument and the reality that the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed that people would input their own biases/prejudices in later translations.

You did pose the question that I still cannot answer with complete certainty: why would people purposely distort/add things? From a 21st century point-of-view, I cannot fathom such an idea, since we put such high value on accuracy. The reality, however, is that there are distortions/biases put in many of these texts, which the scrolls have just proven, and perhaps the only reason I can justify it was the reality that church-and-state was not a concept people could understand at this time, but the same power-hungry leaders still existed. As average citizens did not actually own a Bible until the time of Martin Luther (off-topic, I think the Reformation, while I'm not Protestant, was necessary), it was fairly simple to add your own personal feelings into a text and no one would be the wiser. King "X" of Israel wants to command his army to kill his surrounding pagan enemies, so, to drum up support, he adds a story of how God commanded Moses or Joshua, heroes the common people would understand, to kill everyone and everything in sight ("The Ban"), and since the divine right of kings, the idea that God placed a certain individual as king on purpose, and, as such, it was his right to do whatever he pleased, was a very popular concept even up to the fall of the Romanov dynasty in Russia in 1917, these leaders would have had no problems, conscience-wise, adding things. As "king," they were a direct messenger of God. Don't believe me? The Pope still claims to be the direct messenger of God, and, even if what he states has no Biblical basis, the Pope believes He is speaking for God. You may laugh, but all facets of royalty believed this for well over 2000 years.

Hence, my mental dilemma is not regarding the existence or the Resurrection of Christ, but some of the minute details that have driven Christians to do extraordinarily evil things, like the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust. If someone puts a literal trust in the Bible, I get worried for this reason, because the texts before us are not free of post-Biblical human infiltration.

Quote:
Either way, here we have four gospel accounts (our four best biographies of Christ), all of which assert that Christ performed miracles. Miracles are not unique in these four books, as they occur also in the Old Testament and Acts (and even the Revelation can be considered a miracle of sorts). The same type of miracles are found in all four accounts, with some specific miracles being referenced in three or four of them (walking on water, feeding of five thousand, the resurrection of the ruler's daughter).
Well, if it's any consolation regarding my mental dilemma, I do believe that Christ can heal people of their ailments even in the present, so, even if I have conflicting emotions in regards to the miracles that happened in the Bible, all we do have is the present.

Quote:
There's every reason to believe that the recounts of at least a great many miracles are accurate, and yet you persist in suggesting that the early Christians are lying or exaggerating.

I find your explanation particularly hard to swallow when it's still easy for those early Christians to check and find out whether so-and-so actually came back to life, and when I imagine it to be quite difficult to exaggerate into a miracle like walking on water. Honestly, how does that rumor get started? Was Christ an above average swimmer?
See above for the divine right of kings idea and read my telephone argument. The "divine right of kings" would mean intentional distortion to persuade believers to do things, and since the king believed he was a born messenger of God on Earth, he would have had no moral dilemma regarding changing the Bible. The "telephone" argument would mean unintentional distortion, due to time, due to the reality that humans do not memorize what they are told word-for-word, and that, often, what they don't know in regards to a specific detail, they may make up to create a cohesive story.

A third argument is a combination of both. As, like I said earlier, most commoners had no exposure to the physical Bible texts until Martin Luther, imperial rulers, who did heavily influence the theology of the early Church on the same level as the Papacy now influences Catholicism, may have made pronouncements leaning toward their ideological bents. When it came time for monks to make their hand-written translations (remember: no printing press until the late 1400s) and hit a questionable word, they would likely have gone back to their traditional interpretation that they grew up with. Compound that with the reality that many of the original source texts were lost either physically or in their ability to translate the Hebrew and conversational Greek, many of subsequent Bibles were translated on faulty Latin texts. My point? History has made a mess of the Bible regarding accuracy.

Quote:
It makes me wonder why you refuse to genuinely consider the possibility of miracles throughout Christ's ministry.
I hope you can see where I'm coming from now.

Quote:
I honestly don't know how I would respond to the Dead Sea Scrolls "proving" the New Testament wrong.

But academia would have one tough time proving the validity of the scrolls over the New Testament. Any argument you've brought up against the records of miracles could probably be levelled against the scrolls as well.
Well, the scrolls are mostly Old Testament texts anyway. My point is that, if the Old Testament was subject to people adding their prejudices and biases in later translations, what makes the New Testament immune?

Quote:
And, ultimately, I have faith that the Holy Spirit will guide me and inform me on what's true and what's not.
Excellent! You have my basis for faith: the Holy Spirit and conscience.

Quote:
Yes, Christ's message was found in loving your neighbor. But there is more:

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This the first and great commandment." Matthew 12:38-39.

("And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 12:40-41.)

Those are the greatest commandments, but there's also the message of salvation found in John 3:16. In that message is the implication that Christ is the Son of God. That said, Christ *should* be able to will any number of miracles -- and the gospels make it very clear that Christ did in fact perform many, many miracles.
I do believe in this, but the question, like I said earlier, should not be posed in what Jesus and God *could* do, because they could do anything. Rather, we should ask why Jesus would *not* do something. The Pharisees expected a Messiah that would arise and make Israel the most powerful of all nations...but He chose not to. At Jesus' crucifixion, He was taunted as, if He were truly the Son of God, why He didn't free Himself from the cross...and He didn't free Himself. I sometimes think that some people expect God to always do what they want, even if that's make them happy forever or to make a literal Bible, untainted from the centuries. The reality is that neither exists. Human suffering is still here, and the Bible, although the total message is intact, the details are muddled, and there has been evidence through study of the original texts that such has been the case. Why would God allow such things to happen? I really cannot answer for God.

Quote:
No, I do not follow Mosaic law, and I will probably never follow it to the letter. But I struggle to follow that law in spirit (namely, love God absolutely and love your neighbor as yourself) - and I believe that is what Christ in part meant by fulfilling the law, as detailed in the Sermon on the Mount.

(It's also why I'm not too worried about the exact wording of every verse and the literal-vs.-figurative nature of the first few chapters of Genesis. I have faith that the Bible as a whole is true, that I know its most basic tenets, and that the Holy Spirit will guide me through the details.)
Excellent! We are in more agreement. Love and faith are the main points of the Bible. As for the creation of the world, I believe in a God-created evolution. How does that negate the ideas of love and faith? It doesn't, and that's my point.

Quote:
Heh...this last quote was one of the favorites of Nazi Germany, and was the source of 2000 years of state-sponsored anti-Semitism.

I clearly used that quote to demonstrate the outrageous claims that Christ was making - claims that would have political and religous leaders conspiring against the man making those claims.

Melon, I have no idea how your statement above is relevant to the discussion, and I would appreciate it if you explained why you said it, and what you are implying.
This goes back to my idea that people put their own commentary in the gospels. Remember: bigotry was very acceptable back then. Knowing Jesus, who stated that there was only one commandment--to love God and to love one another--would He perhaps have put in commentary about the Jews killing Him? The quote, admittedly, is innocent enough, but--and it's reality--that quote was one of a few in the New Testament that culminated in 2000 years of anti-Semitism ending with the Holocaust. It was really a side comment really, and, to make myself explicit this time, I'm neither calling you or your faith allied with Nazism.

Quote:
Again, I would trust the Holy Spirit to guide me if there was a legitimate case for contradiction through the Dead Sea Scrolls or some other document.
Excellent. I agree.

Quote:
At this point, I feel no need to answer further, because I don't know how this scenario could possibly come to pass:

What if they contradicted the entire Bible, rendering it untrustworthy?

First of all, many works contradict the entire Bible, including the Egyption Book of the Dead, books on Wicca, and Dianetics. My faith is not shaken.

And if the Dead Sea Scrolls were drastically different than the entire Bible, the question then becomes, why trust the scrolls? We have a large number of manuscripts and fragments - how many? hundreds? thousands? - that more-or-less fit together. Why would this one document overturn two millenia's worth of evidence?
Well, did you know that most Old Testaments are translated from the Masoretic (sp?) Bible from around A.D. 1050, which was the oldest existing complete Old Testament up to this point? What makes this more accurate than the Dead Sea Scrolls? The fact that this isn't two millennia of work, but one. Honestly, we are exposed only to the Bibles of the last century, and with obvious good reason. Are we now going to say that the Bibles, outside of our own, are somehow the same as they were throughout the centuries? The physical evidence, as we are collecting more and more ancient texts, is that this is not the case.

Quote:
I didn't quote C.S. Lewis to assert something like, "Lewis said so, so it must be true". I quoted him because to do otherwise would be to present a plageurized, watered-down argument - and I wanted to cite the reference so the curious could the read the passage on their own.
Okay. I understand now.

Quote:
That said, I have always looked past his reputation and past his "existentialist surroundings" and looked at his argument. His argument is this: Christ's statements (both what he said and the authority with which he said it) make it clear that Christ thought he was the Son of God, part of the Holy Trinity that created the entire universe, even His physical form.
Heh...I didn't know many Protestants believed in the Trinity, the Catholic-originated idea that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was one in the same. I have heard much opposition to this from Protestantism, so I am giving you a chance to either confirm or deny this.

Quote:
Lewis concludes that he was either insane, possessed, or honest, and I see no flaw with his arguments.

I can appreciate that you apparently have very little respect for C.S. Lewis. That's fine; assume that his quote is mine, and please address it on its merits.
Well, likewise, I doubt you, as a Protestant, would put much store in Catholic theologians, so I guess we're equal.

Quote:
Finally, there's this statement:

If the Bible was wholly disproven tomorrow, my faith in Jesus would still be there. Can you say the same for yourself?

I will again reiterate that I do not believe the Bible can be "wholly disproven" (or proven, for that matter).

But, having that said that, I must now say with complete honesty that my faith in Christ would be terribly, perhaps irrevocably shaken if the Bible was *somehow* disproven.

You claim that your faith in Jesus would still be there. As spiritual as that sounds, it begs certain questions:

What faith? What Jesus?
I believe in Him simply on, as you stated, the Holy Spirit and my conscience. I feel His presence, so I know He exists and is there. I do not need the Bible to tell me any further.

Quote:
Let's say the Bible was *somehow* disproven, to one of these degrees:

1) Say it can be shown, without a doubt, that while he was a Nazerene crucified around A.D. 30, Jesus was not resurrected. At that point, your faith is in a dead man, an arrogant man who claimed he could beat death but lost, a man who was humiliated, executed and long since decomposed.

If your faith is in his wonderous teachings, than we're talking apples and oranges - your faith that his principles work vs. my faith that Christ lives as my risen Lord and Savior.

If your faith is in Jesus as Lord, Savior, and Son of God, and he is actually dead, than you're just worshipping one of us, and you might as well worship the remains of your ancestors.
Well, such a scenario did exist. There is a female scholar who wrote a book (I wish I remember her name) stating that, from the "evidence" she gathered, she believed that Jesus did exist, but was a liberal member of the Essenes who broke away to teach His own message. The miracles, to her, were part of the sacred knowledge of the Essenes that were never intended to be revealed to outsiders. She claims He did not die on the cross, but was poisoned by a deceptive potion. He was buried, but the Essenes, apparently, did not abandon Him and fed Him the antidote. Hence, the Resurrection.

Now I just stated this for argument's sake. I don't believe this myself. There comes a point where faith does make a stand. I do not believe in all the minute details where Jesus seemingly does contradict ("I did not come to negate the Law, but to redeem it"). That is where conscience comes into play, and I do not deny that. I will admit that my hypothetical question poses more questions than answers, and I probably should have crafted it better.

Quote:
Faith in the Bible is necessary for any true Christian.
No, it isn't. It's love of God and love of others.

Quote:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1.
This is an example of obscure word play in the Bible. When there was reference to "the Law," it usually never meant the Mosaic Law, but that Jesus was "the Law"--and "the Law" was to love God and one another. In this case, I think "the Word" is not necessarily a reference to the Bible (John and the New Testament weren't created in a Biblical canon until the A.D. 300s--200 years after this book was created), but that Jesus is the final "Word."

Jesus, to the early Church, was a fulfillment of the Old Testament, and it seriously considered throwing away the Old Testament for the New. Contrary to modern belief, early Christians did not believe in a literal interpretation of the "entire" Bible, and the early Church kept the Old Testament with the belief that the New Testament didn't make sense without giving people the ability to read the basis for it in the Old Testament. It was not expected to be taken as seriously as many modern Christians do presently.

At minimum, I think we agree on the most important basics, and now we are quibbling on the importance of the surrounding details. It's a start, at least!

Melon

------------------
"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time
__________________
melon is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 07:44 PM   #29
Refugee
 
agentorange's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Poor Places
Posts: 1,431
Local Time: 04:57 PM
DoctorGonzo,
Thanks for the clarification. I wasn't aware that the scrolls had been off limits. That makes the recent news more reasonable. By the way, who were the seven, and how were they determined? I assume they were probably the discoverers of the scrolls.
__________________
agentorange is offline  
Old 12-03-2001, 08:23 PM   #30
Rock n' Roll Doggie
VIP PASS
 
cass's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Australia.
Posts: 6,117
Local Time: 02:57 AM
hmm can't read all that unfortunately. But good or bad, I know an Australian woman Barbara Theirry(if I recall correctly) has devoted much of her life to the scrolls and it hasn't been an easy path for her.She must be quite elderly by now I'd guess.
__________________

__________________
cass is offline  
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:57 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Design, images and all things inclusive copyright © Interference.com