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Why The Gospels Are Myth


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I love learning as much as I can about the Bible and how and why it was written. This great video by Dr. Richard Carrier goes into why the Gospels are myth rather than history. The presentation starts at 27:42.

 

http://youtu.be/ILldt2XHZw0

 

I especially am amazed at the literary forms that are used and how much time and planning intentionally writing the gospels this way must have taken!

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So apparently I have psychic abilities. Every time I think of posting a video, someone else does biggrin.png

 

I think this is one of the more interesting videos of Carrier that I've seen. It almost makes me appreciate the gospels (almost). The writers were much more skilled than I have ever given them credit.

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Dr Robert Price is an advocate for the gospels being a midrash interpretation/rewrite of various Old Testament stories. He goes into detail in his book The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems.

 

Book Description: Price has assembled evidence that shows that almost the entire "biography of Jesus" has been created from Greek Old Testament stories and themes and even incorporates motifs from Homer, Euripides, and perhaps Aesop. Because readers will have a hard time "taking it on faith" that the Jesus biography is merely a reworking of previous material, broad swaths of "Old Testament" context are quoted in association with each New Testament equivalent, so readers can judge for themselves whether or not Dr. Price's claim be true: the "Life of Christ" was not fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies; it was, rather, a conscious reworking of earlier literature.

 
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So apparently I have psychic abilities. Every time I think of posting a video, someone else does biggrin.png

 

I think this is one of the more interesting videos of Carrier that I've seen. It almost makes me appreciate the gospels (almost). The writers were much more skilled than I have ever given them credit.

Yeah, they were the best liars around at that time. This is why they received the reception from opponents who knew they were lying and embellishing.

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I don't side with Carrier's take on Paul, but I think he is spot on about the gospels. 

 

He makes you realize what complex literary works the gospels are. There is no random "oral history" cobbled together here. 

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Hmm. One of the telltale things about the gospels is that a close reading of them will demonstrate that many of the actions of Jesus are merely reworked stories from the old testament  characterized by the gospel writers as prophesies. And they were not prophesies at all. I read a good book detailing these bogus prophesies from the OT by Randel Helms. The book is available on Amazon. It also makes a convincing argument that Mathew and Luke (and I think some of John) who took a much of their gospel from Mark, the earliest gospel, modified Mark to correct  perceived errors, change a conclusion and make a point more believable.

 

He corrected some misunderstandings of Mark, who apparently didn't know OT scriptures so well. So sometimes when Mark made a point that referenced a story from the OT which he did not fully comprehend he would misinterpret whatever source he was using and therefore come to the wrong conclusion.  Helms made it apparent that the Gospels were merely man made. bill

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Hmm. One of the telltale things about the gospels is that a close reading of them will demonstrate that many of the actions of Jesus are merely reworked stories from the old testament  characterized by the gospel writers as prophesies.

That can be parsed two ways, and both are about as credible really - so it's not a particularly helpful argument.

 

#1:

The Jesus stories allude a lot to the OT, which indicates that the Jesus story is made up to fit the OT.

 

#2: 

The Jesus stories allude to the OT in ways that clearly does not care much about the meaning of the verses in the OT it alludes to, thus it is possible that the authors had a guy they believed was the messiah, and they were clutching at straws to find things demonstrating that he indeed was the Messiah. Thus, they ignored the meaning and context of the verses in the OT to make it seem like this Jesus-dude indeed had fulfilled OT prophecies.

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#2 has been my feeling for some time now.  I call it "retro-theology".  If you start from the premise that Jesus was god incarnate, etc. and THEN go back to the OT, there's a lot of stuff (if you weren't a jew) would seem to indicate Jesus, even though the original context had nothing to do with a future messiah.

 

Even more intriguing, this practice is one of the causes of friction between christians and jews.  Formerly pagan christians trying to convince jews about jesus were told that they (the jews) didn't understand their own writings.  Not the best way to garner mutual respect...

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Hmm. One of the telltale things about the gospels is that a close reading of them will demonstrate that many of the actions of Jesus are merely reworked stories from the old testament  characterized by the gospel writers as prophesies.

That can be parsed two ways, and both are about as credible really - so it's not a particularly helpful argument.

 

#1:

The Jesus stories allude a lot to the OT, which indicates that the Jesus story is made up to fit the OT.

 

#2: 

The Jesus stories allude to the OT in ways that clearly does not care much about the meaning of the verses in the OT it alludes to, thus it is possible that the authors had a guy they believed was the messiah, and they were clutching at straws to find things demonstrating that he indeed was the Messiah. Thus, they ignored the meaning and context of the verses in the OT to make it seem like this Jesus-dude indeed had fulfilled OT prophecies.

 

 

#2 is the traditional explanation. It is the one most adhered to and argued by the mainstream scholars of today, because espousing #1 would destroy their careers. 

 

I think #1 is the correct explanation. Just about every detail in Jesus's "life" corresponds to something in the Septuagint, even seemingly insignificant things like cursing the fig tree. Are we supposed to believe that the real Jesus actually cursed a real fig tree, and then his followers, decades later, while trolling through Hosea, said, "I'll be damned! It says something here about cursing a fig tree! Another prophecy fulfilled!" No. They found the passage in Hosea first and then invented a scene in the life of Jesus. Thus were all the "fulfilled prophecies" created. 

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Another way, a #3 perhaps, would be to assume that an historical Jesus who was familiar with scripture intentionally acted out scenes from the OT in order to present himself in a certain way. And his followers told stories about it and then eventually the stories were written down. But under close examination this would turn out to be as senseless as #2. 

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Another way, a #3 perhaps, would be to assume that an historical Jesus who was familiar with scripture intentionally acted out scenes from the OT in order to present himself in a certain way. And his followers told stories about it and then eventually the stories were written down. But under close examination this would turn out to be as senseless as #2. 

Assertions shmassertions. #2 is, to quite an extent, not particularly senseless. However, I guess you like your assertions a lot.

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My feeling is that the reworking of the OT by the gospel writers (and Paul) was such a ridiculous stretch that #2 might  be the correct one, although I have always thought it was #1. But the twisted interpretations are so absurd in some cases that it's hard to believe that the writers would have believed that these "prophesies" would pass the smell test by readers. (And yet they did indeed pass the smell test for almost 2000 years.) I'm thinking that these "prophesies" were soooo absurd that good faith belief by the gospel writers is the only plausible explanation for the their trying to make these OT scriptures into prophesies. If they were trying to fool people, they sure did a lousy job of it.

 

Having said that I have to ask myself , if the prophesies were so absurd, why were believed for nearly 2000 years? The answer that comes back is, for christ's sake, what is in the bible that isn't absurd? So, bottom line? Your'e guess is as good as mine.

                                                                                                                                                                                              bill

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My feeling is that the reworking of the OT by the gospel writers (and Paul) was such a ridiculous stretch that #2 might  be the correct one, although I have always thought it was #1. But the twisted interpretations are so absurd in some cases that it's hard to believe that the writers would have believed that these "prophesies" would pass the smell test by readers. (And yet they did indeed pass the smell test for almost 2000 years.) I'm thinking that these "prophesies" were soooo absurd that good faith belief by the gospel writers is the only plausible explanation for the their trying to make these OT scriptures into prophesies. If they were trying to fool people, they sure did a lousy job of it.

 

Having said that I have to ask myself , if the prophesies were so absurd, why were believed for nearly 2000 years? The answer that comes back is, for christ's sake, what is in the bible that isn't absurd? So, bottom line? Your'e guess is as good as mine.

                                                                                                                                                                                              bill

They weren't, by and large, believed for 2000 years. Most Christian believers didn't have access to Bibles, and once they became more widely available, translators made sure to put lampshades on a lot of these problems: downright bad translations, several early bible editions had various 'design' things that made the text seem less like an actual 'text', and more like a bunch of non-connected utterances. Some of the chapter divisions also cut many entire narratives in half, thus making it likely for many Christians not to ever read the entire context - they skip to Isaiah 53, without reading the entire suffering servant song - which goes on for several chapters and makes it clear it has nothing to do with a suffering messiah. Most readers trust people in authority positions, and when the text happens to be, in part, adjusted to seem to support those things few would have seen through it. If people didn't see through that for 1700 years or so, it's no big surprise.

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My feeling is that the reworking of the OT by the gospel writers (and Paul) was such a ridiculous stretch that #2 might  be the correct one, although I have always thought it was #1. But the twisted interpretations are so absurd in some cases that it's hard to believe that the writers would have believed that these "prophesies" would pass the smell test by readers. (And yet they did indeed pass the smell test for almost 2000 years.) I'm thinking that these "prophesies" were soooo absurd that good faith belief by the gospel writers is the only plausible explanation for the their trying to make these OT scriptures into prophesies. If they were trying to fool people, they sure did a lousy job of it.

 

Having said that I have to ask myself , if the prophesies were so absurd, why were believed for nearly 2000 years? The answer that comes back is, for christ's sake, what is in the bible that isn't absurd? So, bottom line? Your'e guess is as good as mine.

                                                                                                                                                                                              bill

 

Their only readers were elite episkopoi like themselves. They never dreamed of a day where everybody could read and have their own copy of the Bible. 

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True: But I was thinking about the church leaders themselves who could and did read the bible. It certainly is true that scriptures were subject a sort of editing throughout the centuries. The KJV was not a particularly accurate translation, but one could still see the absurdities of these prophesies. I can't comment on versions of the past because I haven't read them. Blood: Are you saying that there were translations through  the Centuries in which a reader could not comprehend that these prophesies did not justify being called "fulfilled" in the NT because of the way they were written? Or that they varied the wording OT to make it appear more like the NT? 

 

I have understood that the myth of the OT prophesies being perfect predictors of the future was one of the most relied upon argument for proving that Jesus was the resurrected messiah and the son of god. I thought this was so from the beginning. If you agree, can you tell what versions of the bible were intentionally crafted to make that point? Of course I could be wrong. I'd appreciate it if you would straighten me out.   bill

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william,

I think you're ascribing way too much use of logic to medieval and early modern believers - few of them thought about it in any rational way at all.  What the few that did think of it in detail actually thought can be pretty obvious from the theological 'tools' they developed: prefigurings, typologies, etc. All of these are basically admissions that Jesus does not fulfill anything; they only amount to excuses for believing he fulfilled things that were not prophecies.

 

This demonstrates they read scripture not to evaluate whether Jesus was Christ, but that they approached it with the preconcieved notion that he was. They read it to demonstrate he was Christ, not to verify whether he was.

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Sophisticated Christian scholars and leaders still do this, I think. I.e. they treat scripture as "from faith for faith," not as historical evidence for their faith. I don't know whether Josh McDowell et al secretly think so, too.

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Another way, a #3 perhaps, would be to assume that an historical Jesus who was familiar with scripture intentionally acted out scenes from the OT in order to present himself in a certain way. And his followers told stories about it and then eventually the stories were written down. But under close examination this would turn out to be as senseless as #2. 

Assertions shmassertions. #2 is, to quite an extent, not particularly senseless. However, I guess you like your assertions a lot.

 

Of course I was responding to Blood's demonstration of the senselessness of #2.

 

 

 

I think #1 is the correct explanation. Just about every detail in Jesus's "life" corresponds to something in the Septuagint, even seemingly insignificant things like cursing the fig tree. Are we supposed to believe that the real Jesus actually cursed a real fig tree, and then his followers, decades later, while trolling through Hosea, said, "I'll be damned! It says something here about cursing a fig tree! Another prophecy fulfilled!" No. They found the passage in Hosea first and then invented a scene in the life of Jesus. Thus were all the "fulfilled prophecies" created. 

 

So you think #2 makes good sense, eh? 

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"This demonstrates they read scripture not to evaluate whether Jesus was Christ, but that they approached it with the preconcieved notion that he was. They read it to demonstrate he was Christ, not to verify whether he was."  Meikko


 


Frankly, I have no idea how smart those who could read and write were; so you may be right. However, while many of the so called prophesies from the OT used in the  NT were obviously strained, to say the least, there were some that were quite cleaver. Devious, to be sure, but clever. So who knows? I don't think there was a complete absence of intelligent clerics of those who knew how to read and write.  Either way the writers were devious, at least in accordance with today's standards.  Neither #1 nor #2 bode well for the apologists.    bill


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