Blood

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    Average person living in Houston, Texas.

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  1. There hardly was a single "pagan concept of hell," and of course there was no religion called "paganism" in those times. I hope that doesn't sound pedantic, but the article is about the precise use of words. Doubtful that "the original audience" of Jesus would have understood a reference to place only mentioned a couple of times in the scriptures (which they couldn't read and didn't have copies of). The only audience we can actually be sure of is the gospel writer's elite peer group, who had some of the few extant copies of the Septuagint. Only this tiny elite group of Greek-speakers would have possibly understood the gospel writers' allusions to arcane Greek transliterations of rare Hebrew words. This game they played was basically the ancient world's equivalent to the Lovecraft Circle, or WWII era cryptographers. It's connection to reality was nil, which is why it was popular then and still popular today.
  2. The plot thickens. Some other early NT papyri surfaced at the same time as "First Century Mark" and was purchased by The Museum of the Bible. But the source of these discoveries remains elusive. P129: 1 Corinthians, Museum of the Bible, GC.PAP.000120 P130: Hebrews, Museum of the Bible, GC.PAP.000401 P131: Romans, Museum of the Bible, GC.PAP.000425 Steve Green himself went on CNN to talk about the acquisition of the Romans papyrus: “Well, um, this is in part of the acquisitions that we have, that we have, ah, uh, in uncovering layers of papyrus and as we’re pulling layers away, all different kinds of texts show up, and this happens to be, is, as Dr. Scott Carroll has identified it, the oldest portion of the book of Romans known, dating to middle second century. So this really adds another brick to the wall of evidence supporting what the Bible tells us.” That last statement gives away what's really going on here. In the deranged minds of Steve Green and Scott Carroll, papyri are "evidence" that "support" the factual basis of the Bible. That is the only reason they are devoting such time, energy and money to papyrology. Fundamentalists don't like liberal New Testament scholars who make such a big deal about not having early manuscripts. In the old days, the church would have simply forged the manuscripts necessary, but that horse has left the barn. They can't get away with that anymore. So the only other option is to get heavily involved with papyrology and infiltrate scholarship, all backed by loads of cash flowing into "The Museum of the Bible."
  3. I believe "the consensus" of cultural anthropologists would agree with you, though few in the USA would state so publicly. "Jesus" is either a myth that became historicized, or a historic person that became mythologized. The popular human imagination doesn't care if a figure is a myth or historical as long as the figure fills certain psychological needs. Only a few clerics and scholars have anxiety over whether the figure was "real." As I've detailed in other threads, Biblical scholars concede that a large number of figures in the books were fictional -- Daniel, Ruth, Judith, Job, Tobias, and so on. There was absolutely zero need for "real people" among Biblical authors, though some of these same authors were indeed aware of Greek history writing and tried to imitate it.
  4. I can't shake the suspicion that Obbink requisitioned a chunk of untranslated papyri from the Ashmolean Museum, specifically to try to find something New Testament-sounding. Then he sent everything back except this Mark scrap. Then he contacted the Green Collection and told them he found the scrap in a mummy mask he owns -- possibly first century! -- and what would they be willing to offer? Next thing you know, Obbink quietly purchases a castle in Waco, Texas, for no reason whatsoever. I can't prove that's what happened. But I have my suspicions.
  5. EES statement. Hopefully, Obbink has learned something from this episode, namely: never deal with Christian apologists or "the Green Collection" for any reason. It can only bring disrepute. "Offer for sale: the EES has never sought to sell this or any other papyrus. Professor Obbink says that he did show the papyrus in his rooms (where it was temporarily for teaching purposes) to Scott Carroll, but to no-one else except some Oxford students. Scott Carroll and he discussed whether the fragment could be displayed in an exhibition at the Vatican, but without conclusion. Professor Obbink insists that he never said the papyrus was for sale, and that while he did receive some payments from the Green Collection for advice on other matters, he did not accept any payment for or towards purchase of this text." https://www.ees.ac.uk/news/poxy-lxxxiii-5345
  6. Here's a pic of Obbink in his office with the now-infamous mummy masks on a table (pool table?) in the background. I seriously doubt these were for sale. Surely they are the property of Oxford? It's not like a typical classics professor could afford to purchase these on his own.
  7. I still don't understand the relationship between the mummy mask text and P.Oxy. LXXXIII 5345. This whole time (since 2012) the "first century Mark" fragment has been publicized as coming from a mummy mask, and suddenly last week we learn that it's actually just another scrap of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, a collection that has been known since 1903. What was found in the mummy mask? Josh McDowell's birth certificate?
  8. I believe this entire bizarre episode was driven by the American evangelical community's growing insecurity over the fact that there are no first century texts for Christianity. Ehrman is out there with videos which are being viewed by church-goers and Baptist college undergraduates stating this repeatedly, and this is making the apologists embarrassed and defensive. They did not want their cult following to know their inside secrets. So now they desperately want to find a first century fragment. I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't attempting to forge one as we speak. These people are so transparent. Their motives and insecurities are on full display to everyone.
  9. Here's a very thorough video examination and commentary on this massive fraud:
  10. That's a great way of putting it.
  11. Right. They have to lie to themselves first. Then the lie becomes inculcated as a defense mechanism. Claiming to be a Christian gives them their get out of jail free card and license to be a full-time asshole. This behavioral instinct is undoubtedly pre-historic. It isn't unique to Christians.
  12. Thinking that you know something other human beings do not know (or cannot appreciate) is one of the most powerful emotions a human can have. We all aspire toward expertise in some subject. When you combine this with one of the other powerful emotions -- tribalism -- you have the most potent social force man is capable of. Bible believers, Jihadists, Scientologists, UFO cults all operate under the same conditions. When personal empowerment (only believers know "the truth") becomes wedded to group empowerment (us against the world), anything is possible, but any of it that gets translated into social good is strictly a by-product.
  13. It's terrifying to think that people still think like this today. We really do have lizard brains. The only miracle is we haven't eradicated ourselves (yet) by our own ignorance and stupidity.
  14. Everything about Christianity has been debunked a million times since 100 CE. It all rolls like water off a duck's back.
  15. N.T. Wright: “Jesus is as well established as a figure of history as is, say, the emperor Caligula, his near-contemporary.” Don't make me laugh. Good takedown from Carrier: https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14117