SkepticsRUs

Disciples/Apostles Martyrdom Question...

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SkepticsRUs    1

It seems to me, after much argumentation, and viewing other's debates, that the last gasp for Christian apologetics is usually the supposed evidence for the resurrection, and when pressed because there really is none, the question of why the disciples would suffer martyrdom for what they would have "known was a lie"?  This is usually the place where any extensive, general debate ends up. Of course, Christians here assume the legends concerning the disciple's deaths are true and they also assume there would be no other psychological motive for them becoming martyrs (if indeed they did) other than that they knew, firsthand, that the gospel story was true. What is the real lowdown on the historicity of the disciples and their fate? Is there enough evidence to conclude they DID actually become martyrs or is it even unproven that they existed in the first place?

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It was recorded in history that several disciples flew airplanes into the World Trade Center for the glory of Allah.  This demonstrates Islam to be the true religion.  Seriously, whether there is enough evidence to support the claim of martyrdom or not; does dying really demonstrate the veracity of... anything?

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florduh    4,221

Believing that something is worth dying for has nothing to do with the thing itself. It only speaks to someone's belief, not whether that belief is founded in fact or unfounded.

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Ellinas    760

Let's assume that there were 1st century disciples who died for their faith.

 

Let's assume they did so because they believed that the resurrection was true.

 

Today, people believe any old nonsense - be it via the internet, headlines or the result of rumours.  Just look at the issues that arose (in the UK at least) over the MMR vaccine - which resulted in people not being immunised as the result of opinions that have been comprehensively discredited.

 

Why was human nature more reliable in the 1st century?  Such martyrs might be very sincere.  But, as Christians I know have said of other faiths - it is possible to be sincerely wrong.

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♦ ficino ♦    1,638

Candida Moss in The Myth of Persecution: How the Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom (2013) holds that the stories of the apostles' martyrdoms are later legends. As I understand it, they are less securely evidenced even than the gospels themselves. Reception of her book has fallen out on ideological lines, from what I've seen of reviews. Here is a reaction from shortly after the book appeared:

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2013/03/moss-myth-of-persecution.html

 

The tomb of Peter is said to be under the Vatican, but the surviving structure can't be securely dated to earlier than the late 130s A.D.

 

One is not entitled to use stories of the apostles' martyrdoms as factual evidence.

 

One must also face the fact that it's an ASSUMPTION to think that the apostles were given a chance to recant. That assumption is read back from martyrdom stories of centuries later. Assuming that the apostles went around preaching in the first century, and assuming that they were in fact arrested - which we don't know - the charges against them may well have been political, not religious. If they were arrested as seditionists, they probably were not given the chance to recant their religion. 

 

On another line of thought: If they had seen visions, they may have believed in Jesus' resurrection and thus died for what they thought was the truth, without having in fact witnessed a bodily resurrection. We don't know that the doctrine of Jesus' bodily resurrection was firmed up until John was written. 

 

Christians should not forget that a number of early Mormons signed and swore to statements that they had seen Joseph Smith's gold plates. Joseph Smith himself was killed by a mob. The confluence of motivated lying and group solidarity is very powerful.

 

Christians should also not forget that the probability of someone's bodily resurrection after a day and a half is basically zero. The probability that the apostles were mistaken about visions or were not given the chance to recant or were not martyred as legends say they were - all much higher than zero!

 

So the "would not die for what they knew was a lie" argument is much less strong than it at first appears. The early Christians loved to come up with stories of glorious martyrdoms, but they are all second century or later (I include Acts in the second century).

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Great question - it just popped up in my Church.

 

The question goes like this: Why would the disciples dies for what the KNEW was a lie?

 

The answer lies in the question, but True Christian (TM) does not realize this. It is not a matter of what people know - its a matter of what they BELIEVED. If the early martyrs believed what is written then they may well have been willing to die for it. The truth of the matter in this case is irrelevant.

 

As Ficino points out, there is doubt as to whether there actually were martyrs as we think of them, so my answer above assumes that there actually were martyrs.

 

Another point, as has been pointed out, people are willing to die for what they believe in: 

 

Men fly planes into towers

People blow themselves up

An atheist refuses to beleive in Allah and is executed

Rescuers die trying to save others 

Spies knowingly engage in activities for their countries knowing they may be tortured and killed.

People by the millions join the army to fight wars for their country knowing they may die.

 

Why do these people do this? Because they believe in something.

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Geezer    2,005

People obviously will give their life willingly for something they believe in & there is a lot of evidence that has happened. The deciples are another matter though. If historians are correct both the gospel & epistles are theological myths. In other words they are fictional stories with fictional characters. 

 

Dr. Robert M Price, one of many scholars, has written extensively about Jesus, his disciples, & the Apostle Paul being mythical characters. 

 

Books that address this issue written by Dr. Price include. The Christ Myth & it's Problems. The Human Bible NT, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, The Amazing Colossal Apostle & The Fabricated Paul by Hermann Detering. David Fitzgerald is another excellent scholar to read for validation and/or more information about a mythical Jesus.

 

Assuming historians that hold this position are correct then The Gospels & Epistles aren't historical events they're theological myths. In other words none of the stuff you read in the NT happened. Those are just fictional stories. 

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Has anyone followed the debates and works of Kenneth Humphreys?

 

http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/

 

He is a full on Jesus mythisist - he certainly raises interesting points. Not sure if he is entirely correct, but then I'm not sure if anyone is entirely correct!

 

There is a portion on his home page - second one down called    Eye Witness Reports? which is relevant to this discussion.

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♦ ficino ♦    1,638
11 hours ago, LogicalFallacy said:

 

 

It is not a matter of what people know - its a matter of what they BELIEVED. If the early martyrs believed what is written then they may well have been willing to die for it. The truth of the matter in this case is irrelevant. ... [snip]

 

 

 

Another point, as has been pointed out, people are willing to die for what they believe in: 

 

 

Apologists don't ask this question to get an explanation of why Christian martyrs were willing to be martyred. They're trying to argue that the accounts of Jesus' resurrection can't be fabrications. Their argument is that if Jesus' resurrection was a fabrication, the fabricators would have known that their "gospel" was fabricated and, when faced with a life-or-death choice between recanting vs. insisting on its truth, they'd recant, having no motive to die for their own fabrication.

 

The apologist doesn't need the "wouldn't die for a lie" argument. That doesn't give him what he needs. The apologist is trying to make headway with the "wouldn't die for what they KNEW was a lie" argument.

 

This convinced me as a young Christian. Years later I realized how many badly evidenced assumptions this argument uses.

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sdelsolray    1,693

I recently finished reading Bart Ehrman's book Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian PolemicsOxford University Press, USA. 2012. ISBN 978-0-19-992803-3.  He devotes a chapter to forged documents from early Christianity (i.e., up until the 4th century) that deal with martyrdom claims (e.g., Polycarp, among many others).  He convincingly demonstrates and exposes, in a logical and evidence-based manner, the exaggerations, fiction and inventions these authors of martyrdom claims made.

 

Granted, Ehrman's "study" (this is what he repeatedly defines this book as) goes much beyond the granular topic of martyrdom claims.  The overall direction is to expose Christian writings that are forgeries but only deals with those writings to the extent they also include polemics (i.e., a strong attacks on others -- here, those that don't adhere to the author's religious interpretation/dogma/beliefs).

 

It's a quite long book, one of Ehrman's best. and I strongly recommend it.

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Also, since someone mentioned the Mormons, nearly all cults will over-glorify their leader and make up stories about him/her. Some want to paint themselves as being the closest to him (John). I promoted an evangelist who has about 10 guys and their families working with him in the boonies of Mexico. They ALL claim fabulous miracles, including body parts growing back and the dead being raised. Early on, I took their testimonies as a sort of check and balance to his grandiose claims (his truck running under water in a river like a sub; being transported miles by the spirit of God; 21 dead raisings; etc). But after catching him making up a very involved story that never happened outside of his imagination, I recalled that cults with charismatic leaders tend to kowtow and seek his favor, so there was no way they would ever say anything against him. Some who left his ranch did, but had I ignored them because they seemed to have an ax to grind (legitimately, I learned later).

 

Study how cults operate, even the modern ones like the Strong City cult where an ex Seventh Day pastor is regarded as Jesus incarnate. There is a great documentary on that one. Cult writings can almost universally be discounted as fabrications, exaggerations, and are written to convert more people, not to deliver facts and history. "These things were written so that you might believe..."

 

Also, I had to conclude that this evangelist, like many in the pentecostal branches, tend to think of their imagination as either God or the devil depending on the scenario. So it isn't a stretch for him to invent stories and actually think they were true. He used to say he could feel the various demons of sin in a city and do battle with them. I think that means he was horny and that was clearly the devil. He may have had a variety of normal desires that he considered demons. None of it is real.

 

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5 hours ago, Fuego said:

"These things were written so that you might believe..."

 

This is one of the primary reasons the church pastor says to believe - because someone wrote that the included stories of miracles that others might believe.

 

That's belief on bad evidence!

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bornagainathiest    2,676
  6 hours ago, Fuego said:

"These things were written so that you might believe..."

 

LogicalFallacy wrote...

 

This is one of the primary reasons the church pastor says to believe - because someone wrote that the included stories of miracles that others might believe.

 

That's belief on bad evidence!

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Agree, LF.  Look at the context of Fuego's quoted passage.

 

John 20 : 24 - 31.

 

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 

25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed;blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.

31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

See that?

Thomas sets realistic and reasonable conditions by which he will believe that Jesus is alive again, just as his fellow disciples had claimed.  He had his conditions satisfied and he believed.  But since the window for such personal tests closed when Jesus ascended into heaven, nobody else can do what Thomas did.  Therefore, just as verse 31 explains, all other Christians must believe in the written accounts of the Gospels.  

 

Therefore, every Christian since then believes on the basis of... hearsay.

 

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/hearsay

 

Hearsay

A statement made out of court that is offered in court as evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.

It is the job of the judge or jury in a court proceeding to determine whether evidence offered as proof is credible. Three evidentiary rules help the judge or jury make this determination: (1) Before being allowed to testify, a witness generally must swear or affirm that his or her testimony will be truthful. (2) The witness must be personally present at the trial or proceeding in order to allow the judge or jury to observe the testimony firsthand. (3) The witness is subject to cross-examination at the option of any party who did not call the witness to testify.

In keeping with the three evidentiary requirements, the Hearsay Rule, as outlined in the Federal Rules of Evidence,prohibits most statements made outside a courtroom from being used as evidence in court. This is because statements made out of court normally are not made under oath, a judge or jury cannot personally observe the demeanor of someone who makes a statement outside the courtroom, and an opposing party cannot cross-examine such a declarant (the person making the statement). Out-of-court statements hinder the ability of the judge or jury to probe testimony for inaccuracies caused by Ambiguity, insincerity, faulty perception, or erroneous memory. Thus, statements made out of court are perceived as untrustworthy.

Hearsay comes in many forms. It may be a written or oral statement; it also includes gestures. Essentially anything intended to assert a fact is considered a statement for the purposes of the Hearsay Rule. A nodding of the head may be a silent assertion of the word yes. A witness pointing to a gun may be asserting, "That is the murder weapon." Even silence has been accepted as a statement, as when a passengers' failure to complain was offered to prove that a train car was nottoo cold (Silver v. New York Central Railroad, 329 Mass. 14, 105 N.E.2d 923 [1952]).

Not all out-of-court statements or assertions are impermissible hearsay. If an attorney wishes the judge or jury to considerthe fact that a certain statement was made, but not the truthfulness of that statement, the statement is not hearsay andmay be admitted as evidence. Suppose a hearing is held to determine a woman's mental competence. Out of court, whenasked to identify herself, the woman said, "I am the pope." There is little question that the purpose of introducing thatstatement as evidence is not to convince the judge or jury that the woman actually is the pope; the truthfulness of thestatement is irrelevant. Rather, the statement is introduced to show the woman's mental state; her belief that she is thepope may prove that she is not mentally competent. On the other hand, a defendant's out-of-court statement "I am themurderer," offered in a murder trial to prove that the defendant is the murderer, is hearsay.

The Federal Rules of Evidence outline the various types of statements that are excluded by the Hearsay Rule, and are thus admissible in court. These exceptions apply to circumstances believed to produce trustworthy assertions. Some hearsay exceptions are based on whether the declarant of the statement is available to testify. For example, a witness who has died is unavailable. A witness who claims some sort of testimonial privilege, such as the Attorney-Client Privilege, is also unavailable to testify, as is the witness who testifies to lack of memory regarding the subject matter, or is too physically or mentally ill to testify. These definitions fall under Rule 804 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. There are also situations where hearsay is allowed even though the declarant is available as a witness. These situations are outlined under Rule 803 of theFederal Rules of Evidence.

 

This footnote is also relevant, in the context of this thread.

 

  • 13. Statements in Ancient Documents. A statement in a document in existence 20 years or more, the authenticity of which is established, is admissible hearsay. One example is a statement in a letter written 30 years ago, provided the letter's authenticity can be proved.

 

"...provided the letter's authenticity can be proved."  

Since John 20 : 31 specifically requires the Christian to believe in Jesus' resurrection without evidence and since Hebrews 11 : 1 explicitly defines faith as belief without evidence, the evidence-free Biblical claims would clearly be ruled as inadmissible hearsay.  They cannot be proved.

 

Evidence that demands a verdict?  I don't think so!

 

Thanks,

 

BAA. 

 

 

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