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Kuroikaze

Here Is Why I Don't Believe

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Just my opinion - but - I think what happened here was that Jeff and I inadvertently hit each other's sore spots.

 

Biblical/Christian scholarship was my last hurrah with Christianity, and led me on an obsessive search for capital "T" Truth. I pored over so many tomes for so many hours-- even after I was no longer a Christian. It is indeed a huge sore spot. I was clinically (yes, diagnosed as such) and suicidally depressed.

 

This led to even more dead-end searches for the Truth. I regret in so many ways getting a degree in religion, wondering if I could have studied something that would have benefitted my fellow humans.

 

Semester after semester of Christian doctrine & history (taught at a state school-- it wasn't preaching in any way) that I found intoxicating. Hell, I loved studying all religions!

 

I did not come out of my depression until I figured out there is no God(s).

 

The scientist asks: How does this work?

The engineer asks: How can I make this work?

The religion major asks: Want fries with that?

 

I got my master's in library science, and I love what I'm doing now!

 

I can very much understand your pain, I was a religion major too, so for a long time after leaving the faith I really hated my degree, and felt I had wasted my time. I fiddled around with going back to school for another degree, but was really too depresed to focus it.

 

I guess I may have delt with it a little different than you, now I can say I'm acctually happy about my major, of course I studied lots of other religions besides christianity so that helped as well, so I guess I realized that my major gave me a lot of perspective on things.

 

In fact, in retrospect, I probably deconverted because of some of the knowledge I was given in those classes.

 

Anyway, sometimes I like the knowledge I have just because I know more about the bible than most christians I converse with. :grin:

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That was explained very well, OM. I learned something I didn't quite understand today. Gracias, my dear. :Medal:

 

(blushing) :)

 

Thanks Mythra.....

 

(Golden Meadows) The point I am trying to suggest here is that one of the main reasons there is no gospels recorded in the immediate aftermath of Jesus's death is because the idea of written accounts of the xtian mysteries, e.g the meaning of baptism, the eucharist, was opposed to the ways of mystery religions. The actual writing down of the gospel was a shift of emphasis from conventional mystery religion methods back towards the religion of the book ways that was so familiar to the Jews and even fundamentalists today.

 

GM there may be other issues at play as well...

 

Going back to the "layering" of a tradition. Mostly what I was discussing when I wrote about Q was the "layering" of written materials. But - behind those written materials was an oral history. Generally speaking - across cultures - the very first layer of a tradition is oral. This is a universal phenomenon - not limited to the middle east. The gospels not being committed to writing until years after the death of Jesus may have been nothing more than simple evolution of a tradition. First the oral tradition - then in time the written tradition. :shrug:

 

Oral traditions are just coming into their own in earning respect amongst scholars. This is a particularly important issue for those studying Native American history. Because the overwhelming majority of written records in Native American history are post European Influence - recovering and studying ancient Native American Oral traditions has taken on a very high importance. Following is a bit about this from the Society for American Archaeology.

 

The Nature of Knowledge in Oral Traditions and Archaeology

 

As archaeologists begin once again to incorporate Native American oral traditions into archaeological research, it is important to recognize that oral traditions and archaeology represent two separate, but overlapping, ways of knowing the past. Because they are qualitatively distinct, different standards apply in the way that information is collected, evaluated, and used to understand the past. These sources of knowledge converge in a broad sense on certain issues and themes, however, such as migrations, warfare, residential mobility, land use, and ethnic coresidence. Both sources can therefore be used productively to investigate these issues, among others.

 

There is no doubt that a real history is embedded in Native American oral traditions, and that this is the same history that archaeologists study. Oral traditions contain cultural information about the past carefully preserved and handed down from generation to generation within a tribe. The archaeological record contains material remains of past human behavior that provide physical evidence for many of the same events and processes referred to in oral traditions. Since oral traditions and archaeology have inherent limitations, combining them in research can create knowledge that goes beyond what is possible using either source by itself.

 

It would be worth reading the whole article - because the article goes onto discuss the very real and legitimate reservations of Native Americans to putting their oral traditions in writing. Some of the concerns are around issues of the written work taking away for the meaning of a story that is transmitted orally. Also, that their oral traditions are woven into their religious beliefs - that these traditions committed into writing and widely distributed and read by people who do NOT understand what they are reading could be misunderstood and abused.

 

Reducing oral traditions to a written form has a cultural impact that needs to be considered in research. As Whiteley (1988:xvi) has observed, written texts turn oral traditions into fixed literary images widely disseminated in the larger American society in a manner that Native Americans cannot control. This is a critical concern when sacred knowledge is misappropriated for scholarly research, and a dynamic oral tradition is reduced to a static point of reference.

 

Their concerns are well founded - just look at all the literalists from Christianity and other religions who have sacred traditions committed to writing. :(

 

At any rate - oral traditions are very common among all cultures. Not having a written tradition until years after the death of Jesus is not unusual (in the overall archaeological framework) at all - in fact - archaeologically speaking - an oral tradition followed LATER by a written tradition would be expected. :shrug:

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Another major contributory factor I am currently chewing over links to practices of contemporary mystery religions. According to the gospels Jesus used the medium of parables, for example, to hide his message from those who were not initiates. All this would have been very familiar to a pagan audience. Even today we have no real idea of the liturgy at the heart of the great pagan mysteries that were practiced for nearly 2,000 years so tight was the secrecy surrounding them - they were never written down.

Yup. Like the Gnostics.

 

And that's part of another discrepancy in the Gospels. Jesus tell the Sanhedrin that he spoke openly to everyone to understand. Which he didn't. So the Gospel basically make Jesus a liar.

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That was explained very well, OM. I learned something I didn't quite understand today. Gracias, my dear. :Medal:

 

(blushing) :)

 

Thanks Mythra.....

 

(Golden Meadows) The point I am trying to suggest here is that one of the main reasons there is no gospels recorded in the immediate aftermath of Jesus's death is because the idea of written accounts of the xtian mysteries, e.g the meaning of baptism, the eucharist, was opposed to the ways of mystery religions. The actual writing down of the gospel was a shift of emphasis from conventional mystery religion methods back towards the religion of the book ways that was so familiar to the Jews and even fundamentalists today.

 

GM there may be other issues at play as well...

 

Going back to the "layering" of a tradition. Mostly what I was discussing when I wrote about Q was the "layering" of written materials. But - behind those written materials was an oral history. Generally speaking - across cultures - the very first layer of a tradition is oral. This is a universal phenomenon - not limited to the middle east. The gospels not being committed to writing until years after the death of Jesus may have been nothing more than simple evolution of a tradition. First the oral tradition - then in time the written tradition. :shrug:

An oral tradition was necessary in communities where literacy was absent or underdeveloped. This was not the case in Jerusalem c. 30AD.

 

Oral traditions are just coming into their own in earning respect amongst scholars. This is a particularly important issue for those studying Native American history. Because the overwhelming majority of written records in Native American history are post European Influence - recovering and studying ancient Native American Oral traditions has taken on a very high importance. Following is a bit about this from the Society for American Archaeology.

 

The Nature of Knowledge in Oral Traditions and Archaeology

 

As archaeologists begin once again to incorporate Native American oral traditions into archaeological research, it is important to recognize that oral traditions and archaeology represent two separate, but overlapping, ways of knowing the past. Because they are qualitatively distinct, different standards apply in the way that information is collected, evaluated, and used to understand the past. These sources of knowledge converge in a broad sense on certain issues and themes, however, such as migrations, warfare, residential mobility, land use, and ethnic coresidence. Both sources can therefore be used productively to investigate these issues, among others.

 

There is no doubt that a real history is embedded in Native American oral traditions, and that this is the same history that archaeologists study. Oral traditions contain cultural information about the past carefully preserved and handed down from generation to generation within a tribe. The archaeological record contains material remains of past human behavior that provide physical evidence for many of the same events and processes referred to in oral traditions. Since oral traditions and archaeology have inherent limitations, combining them in research can create knowledge that goes beyond what is possible using either source by itself.

 

I know very little about Native American life, please excuse my ignorance but when did literacy emerge in their culture?

 

It would be worth reading the whole article - because the article goes onto discuss the very real and legitimate reservations of Native Americans to putting their oral traditions in writing.

Is it available on the web?

 

Some of the concerns are around issues of the written work taking away for the meaning of a story that is transmitted orally. Also, that their oral traditions are woven into their religious beliefs - that these traditions committed into writing and widely distributed and read by people who do NOT understand what they are reading could be misunderstood and abused.

This is an interesting point. I have also thought that the reason Jesus is never quoted within the gospels giving a direct command to put together an authorative gospel was he knew the latent pharisee which is in many of our hearts that seeks to reduce everything to rule observance rather than doing the good for goods sake, living in the spirit, whatever its called. My own objection to this is that oral traditions are subject to distortion in transmission. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide the church in all its ways so at face value the oral tradition would have been protected. As it stands the gospels do not testify to the preservation of a strong oral tradition under the guidance of Gods Holy Spirit -indeed the opposite seems the case.

 

Reducing oral traditions to a written form has a cultural impact that needs to be considered in research. As Whiteley (1988:xvi) has observed, written texts turn oral traditions into fixed literary images widely disseminated in the larger American society in a manner that Native Americans cannot control. This is a critical concern when sacred knowledge is misappropriated for scholarly research, and a dynamic oral tradition is reduced to a static point of reference.

Once xtianity moved outwards beyond the wider Jersusalem area there would have been pressure for authorative teaching documents as oral transmission has its own sets of problems, especially when the skills required for it have gradually fallen away with disuse due to the rise of literacy and written means of communications. Look at how sophisticated the contemporary literary operations carried out by the Dead Sea scroll community at Quram. On balance I don't think an appeal to oral tradition stands up -its anachronistic for the period.

 

Their concerns are well founded - just look at all the literalists from Christianity and other religions who have sacred traditions committed to writing. :(

All the religions of the book are plagued by fundamentalists and I think its not just coincidence.

 

At any rate - oral traditions are very common among all cultures. Not having a written tradition until years after the death of Jesus is not unusual (in the overall archaeological framework) at all - in fact - archaeologically speaking - an oral tradition followed LATER by a written tradition would be expected. :shrug:

ditto.

 

BTW your posts are interesting and thought provoking.

 

Another major contributory factor I am currently chewing over links to practices of contemporary mystery religions. According to the gospels Jesus used the medium of parables, for example, to hide his message from those who were not initiates. All this would have been very familiar to a pagan audience. Even today we have no real idea of the liturgy at the heart of the great pagan mysteries that were practiced for nearly 2,000 years so tight was the secrecy surrounding them - they were never written down.

Yup. Like the Gnostics.

 

And that's part of another discrepancy in the Gospels. Jesus tell the Sanhedrin that he spoke openly to everyone to understand. Which he didn't. So the Gospel basically make Jesus a liar.

I think maybe the gospels and the wider NT contain elements of different competing influences within the emerging church and sayings are put in Jesus mouth to support different factions. This would explain a lot of the so called contradictions. Paul himself talks about those who were for Peter and those who were for him. As you point out elsewhere it seems crazy that a person who never knew Jesus during his so called incarnation, Paul, has to correct those who did know him with respect to the gospels they were preaching. The main point as far as I am concerned is that no way was Gods Holy Spirit at work as was supposedly promised by Jesus. Another failed prophecy.

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And that's part of another discrepancy in the Gospels. Jesus tell the Sanhedrin that he spoke openly to everyone to understand. Which he didn't. So the Gospel basically make Jesus a liar.

 

Yes - Jeezus™ tells the Sanhedrin one thing and tells his followers another, when he says that he uses parables to intentionally be confusing. Which is it? A "simple message of Salvation™" or a bunch of riddles? :shrug:

 

The only consistency about the Babble™ are the contradictions.

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And that's part of another discrepancy in the Gospels. Jesus tell the Sanhedrin that he spoke openly to everyone to understand. Which he didn't. So the Gospel basically make Jesus a liar.

I think maybe the gospels and the wider NT contain elements of different competing influences within the emerging church and sayings are put in Jesus mouth to support different factions. This would explain a lot of the so called contradictions. Paul himself talks about those who were for Peter and those who were for him. As you point out elsewhere it seems crazy that a person who never knew Jesus during his so called incarnation, Paul, has to correct those who did know him with respect to the gospels they were preaching. The main point as far as I am concerned is that no way was Gods Holy Spirit at work as was supposedly promised by Jesus. Another failed prophecy.

Exactly my view. Different factions, with different theology, merged as groups, and to consolidate their faiths into one dogma, the Gospel A got melded with Gospel B into Gospel A+B. And so on. In a sense it wasn't to lie or deceive, but to consolidate different versions of faith that tried to live under the same roof. And of course some things in the A gospel didn't fit at all with the B believers and were removed etc.

 

The same happened to the Torah. I think it was especially the case with The Deuteronomy, but I'm not certain. Basically it was found one day as "oh, a lost book of Moses". But the problem is that it established a little different version of Judaism. Before you could pray anywhere you wanted, and build an altar anywhere, but all of a sudden, the Temple was the place where God should be prayed to.

 

Regarding failed prophesies, I find it interesting that Jonah was a supposed prophesy of Jesus dead 3 days thingy. But Jonah was in the fish because he disobeyed God. So did Jesus disobey God to get crucified?

 

Jonah is an interesting story in many ways. For instance he was from Galilee, which contradicts John 7:52, that no prophet arises from Galilee.

 

And that any town like Nineveh in Assyria, through archeology, does not show any signs of ever converted to Judaism.

 

That story is completely fictious.

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Going back to the "layering" of a tradition. Mostly what I was discussing when I wrote about Q was the "layering" of written materials. But - behind those written materials was an oral history. Generally speaking - across cultures - the very first layer of a tradition is oral. This is a universal phenomenon - not limited to the middle east. The gospels not being committed to writing until years after the death of Jesus may have been nothing more than simple evolution of a tradition. First the oral tradition - then in time the written tradition. :shrug:

An oral tradition was necessary in communities where literacy was absent or underdeveloped. This was not the case in Jerusalem c. 30AD.

 

GM.... Following is an excerpt from the site I recommended when this thread was discussing oral tradition and Mark. This excerpt is from the Journal of Biblical Literature: http://www.sbl-site.org/Publications/JBL/JBL1233.pdf

 

THE SURVIVAL OF MARK’S GOSPEL:

A GOOD STORY?

JOANNA DEWEY

jdewey@episdivschool.edu

Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA 02138

 

Ever since I began serious NT studies and learned about the hypothetical document Q, I have been intrigued by the questions, Why did the Gospel of Mark survive? Why did it not go the way of Q? Given Matthew’s and Luke’s incorporation of Mark, and given the nature of the manuscript medium, it ought to have gone the way of Q. Scholars who address the issue believe that Matthew intended his Gospel to replace Mark, and so probably did Luke. Recently, Graham Stanton has argued: When Matthew wrote his Gospel, he did not intend to supplement Mark: his incorporation of most of Mark’s Gospel is surely an indication that he intended that his Gospel should replace Mark’s, and that it should become the Gospel for Christians of his day. Similarly Luke. Luke’s Preface should not be dismissed merely as the evangelist’s way of honoring literary convention. There is little doubt that Luke expects that his more complete Gospel will displace his predecessors. If Matthew and Luke had had their way and replaced Mark, today we would be debating if a hypothetical “Mark” ever existed and of what exactly it consisted, and how many strata of development we could discern in it. Instead we have the Gospel of Mark. Why did Mark survive?

 

... I shall begin with four preliminary comments:
first, on storytelling in antiquity; second, on the interaction of oral and written media; and then two comments on Mark as oral literature
. First, as
we are becoming increasingly aware, literacy rates were generally very low in antiquity. Official information was broadcast by public criers who were attached to all levels of government. Even more, information and cultural traditions were transmitted by storytellers. Four types of storytellers were common in antiquity: street performers of both sexes who eked out a marginal existence; a somewhat higher-status group who told religious and secular stories outside temples and inside and outside synagogues, entertaining and teaching; storytellers who did not earn their living at it but had local or regional reputations; and, finally, women, mothers, and nursemaids, who told stories to educate, amuse, or frighten children. Performance of sacred stories was a major part of synagogue worship, so most likely it was important also in early Christian worship
. Christian storytellers would have been found among most of the groups mentioned above and in most settings. Stories such as Mark’s would have been told both during and outside of Christian worship settings. Storytelling was ubiquitous in the ancient world, so it would certainly have been part—an important part—of early Christian experience.

 

Second,
writing was used in support of oral performance, and oral performance could and often did continue with little reliance on or even acquaintance with written texts.
The British textual critic D. C. Parker writes, “
The gospels were written rather to support than to replace the oral tradition
.” Furthermore, in such a media world, there is continual feedback between the oral and the written: he continues, “the written texts are only a part of the process by which the traditions about Jesus were passed on.
The traditions were told and retold, written and rewritten, in oral tradition and in successive versions of texts
.” I believe Mark was composed and transmitted primarily orally, but that does not exclude earlier and later written versions.
The boundaries between the two were very fluid
. Third, the Gospel of Mark reflects a social milieu in which oral performance without any dependence on manuscripts would be the norm. Richard Rohrbaugh has argued persuasively that Mark’s audience consisted primarily of nonliterate peasants. Richard Horsley, extending Rohrbaugh’s argument and his own thesis of Mark as giving voice to subjected peoples, suggests that the Gospel’s audiences continued to be primarily rural villagers, “that its audience consists of ordinary Greek-speaking people in the eastern parts of the Roman empire, most likely villagers.” That the Gospel would appeal to village communities without the resources to own or read manuscripts seems quite likely, but this makes the question of the gospel’s survival into the manuscript tradition even more improbable.

 

GM - I've already admitted to a bias on my part for ancient oral history. But my bias is universal. I don't emphasis this aspect because of any agenda I have with the bible. I just think - in general - across cultures - scholars have ignored the value of oral tradition. It is only recently that scholars are picking up on the interconnectedness between ancient oral traditions and ancient written traditions. That they are not separate and distinct areas of study. That to study one - the other has to be studied as well. :shrug:

 

The Nature of Knowledge in Oral Traditions and Archaeology...

 

There is no doubt that a real history is embedded in Native American oral traditions, and that this is the same history that archaeologists study. Oral traditions contain cultural information about the past carefully preserved and handed down from generation to generation within a tribe. The archaeological record contains material remains of past human behavior that provide physical evidence for many of the same events and processes referred to in oral traditions. Since oral traditions and archaeology have inherent limitations, combining them in research can create knowledge that goes beyond what is possible using either source by itself.

I know very little about Native American life, please excuse my ignorance but when did literacy emerge in their culture?

Well - there were 1000s of languages when Europeans arrived on the scene. To my knowledge only a few of those cultures had written language. Following is an excerpt from encyclopedia.com about this issue. http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/N/NatvAmlang.asp

 

Writing and Sign Language

 

Written literature in the usual sense does not exist in the indigenous American languages; however, there are folk literatures.
Communication by writing among the Native Americans in the aboriginal period was limited to the Maya and the Aztecs
. Both cultures used a form of picture writing to represent their ideas. About 800 of the Maya hieroglyphs, or symbols, are known, and in recent years substantial progress has been made in deciphering them. Not many texts of the Maya survive, the most numerous being inscriptions on buildings.

 

The Incas of Peru used a system of knotted cords, ropes, or strings to communicate. Called the quipu, it is considered a form of writing. The color and shape of the knotted cords were the clues to meaning. For instance, green cords signified grain, and red cords, soldiers. One knot stood for the number 10; two knots, 20; a double knot, 100. Among Native Americans of E North America, beaded wampum belts often contained pictographic symbols for communication.

 

This is why oral traditions is so very important in the study of the ancient Americas. If we don't figure out how to systematically and methodically study the ancient civilizations of America through oral traditon - they will be lost. 100s of Native American cultures have already been lost. They died out and their oral traditions died with them. It's as simple as that.

 

It would be worth reading the whole article - because the article goes onto discuss the very real and legitimate reservations of Native Americans to putting their oral traditions in writing.
Is it available on the web?

http://www.saa.org/publications/SAAbulletin/14-2/SAA14.html

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OM, you know I support the idea of borrowed religious ideas into Christianity, probably a bit more than you do, but thats okay. :)

 

Anyway. I realized that this borrowing could be explained with the oral tradition.

 

Imagine growing up in a family with one kind of religion, where you learn all the concepts and ideas in and out.

 

One day, when you're grown up, you convert to Christianity, because of whatever reason. But it's only based on word of mouth. You hear the fabulous story about this Jesus that died so you could be saved...etc

 

Now, by the oral tradition, you are transfering the message to others. It is very likely that you will add flavor or ideas to the story based on how you understand religion from before. And what kind will it be? The kind that you know best. The one you grew up with and learned everything about.

 

It's the same way as right now, when I debate and criticize Christianity, I am still colored by the Christianity and the experience I had back then. It's still a part of who I am, and can't be undone.

 

The same argument would go for these people. Uneducated and ignorant, they would have to explain things based on their own experience and minimal knowledge.

 

This does explain why and how new ideas got introduced into early Gentile Christianity.

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Anyone else notice that when this highly intellectual discussion of biblical script got underway, our little "evangelists" appear to have bowed out of the discussion? This is why they stay exactly where they are in their little dogma rut. Instead of seeking knowledge and trying to comprehend that which they do not, they just toss their little hands in ther air saying "I don't get it". And they can somehow sleep at night without their little minds buzzing with the need to understand.

 

:ugh:

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OM, you know I support the idea of borrowed religious ideas into Christianity, probably a bit more than you do, but thats okay. :)

 

Anyway. I realized that this borrowing could be explained with the oral tradition.

 

Imagine growing up in a family with one kind of religion, where you learn all the concepts and ideas in and out.

 

One day, when you're grown up, you convert to Christianity, because of whatever reason. But it's only based on word of mouth. You hear the fabulous story about this Jesus that died so you could be saved...etc

 

Now, by the oral tradition, you are transfering the message to others. It is very likely that you will add flavor or ideas to the story based on how you understand religion from before. And what kind will it be? The kind that you know best. The one you grew up with and learned everything about.

 

It's the same way as right now, when I debate and criticize Christianity, I am still colored by the Christianity and the experience I had back then. It's still a part of who I am, and can't be undone.

 

The same argument would go for these people. Uneducated and ignorant, they would have to explain things based on their own experience and minimal knowledge.

 

This does explain why and how new ideas got introduced into early Gentile Christianity.

 

Yes... I agree completely. To assume early Christianity grew in a pristine environmnet - void of any influence by surrounding cultures and religions - is niave (at best). Yes ... I can very much see how the oral transmission of knowledge would lend itself to borrowing ideas across religious boundries. :grin:

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Thanks OM. I've learned plenty from you lately. And my post was basically just express how clearly I now understand this. I kind of knew that it must have been happening, but now I do understand how. And also, that it wasn't intentionally lying or decieving, but the opposite. People tried to explain the complex ideas using their own resource of knowledge from before. The new message had to be colored by their own experience from the old religion.

 

If I would convert to another religion, I would borrow the ideas that I liked from Christianity into it. This new religion for me would have a Christian flavor to it, and some ideas in the new religion would be slightly angled towards Christianity everytime I tried to explain them. I probably would even incorporate some of the analogies and stories from the Bible to better explain this new religion. In the end, I'd do it, not to lie to someone, but to explain the concepts "better" to someone.

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To recap,

 

The gospel contain a lot of contradictions. That this is due in some ways to the vagaries of oral transmission I do not argue. I speculated that the reason why this may have come about was due to the nature of the xtian revelation being modelled in some way on contemporary pagan mystery religions. "Come and eat the flesh and blood of Christ" was not something to be announced indiscriminately to crowds. An alternative theory is that oral transmission was the conventional channel of communication in that era. Whilst it does not refute by itself the idea of xtianity being modelled on pagan mystery cults I don't think it was primary reason or motivation why we today the synoptic gospel problem. Now to the supporting material you supply:

 

 

Going back to the "layering" of a tradition. Mostly what I was discussing when I wrote about Q was the "layering" of written materials. But - behind those written materials was an oral history. Generally speaking - across cultures - the very first layer of a tradition is oral. This is a universal phenomenon - not limited to the middle east. The gospels not being committed to writing until years after the death of Jesus may have been nothing more than simple evolution of a tradition. First the oral tradition - then in time the written tradition. :shrug:

An oral tradition was necessary in communities where literacy was absent or underdeveloped. This was not the case in Jerusalem c. 30AD.

 

GM.... Following is an excerpt from the site I recommended when this thread was discussing oral tradition and Mark. This excerpt is from the Journal of Biblical Literature: http://www.sbl-site.org/Publications/JBL/JBL1233.pdf

 

THE SURVIVAL OF MARK'S GOSPEL:

A GOOD STORY?

JOANNA DEWEY

jdewey@episdivschool.edu

Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA 02138

 

Ever since I began serious NT studies and learned about the hypothetical document Q, I have been intrigued by the questions, Why did the Gospel of Mark survive? Why did it not go the way of Q? Given Matthew's and Luke's incorporation of Mark, and given the nature of the manuscript medium, it ought to have gone the way of Q. Scholars who address the issue believe that Matthew intended his Gospel to replace Mark, and so probably did Luke. Recently, Graham Stanton has argued: When Matthew wrote his Gospel, he did not intend to supplement Mark: his incorporation of most of Mark's Gospel is surely an indication that he intended that his Gospel should replace Mark's, and that it should become the Gospel for Christians of his day. Similarly Luke. Luke's Preface should not be dismissed merely as the evangelist's way of honoring literary convention. There is little doubt that Luke expects that his more complete Gospel will displace his predecessors. If Matthew and Luke had had their way and replaced Mark, today we would be debating if a hypothetical "Mark" ever existed and of what exactly it consisted, and how many strata of development we could discern in it. Instead we have the Gospel of Mark. Why did Mark survive?

 

..
. I shall begin with four preliminary comments:
first, on storytelling in antiquity; second, on the interaction of oral and written media; and then two comments on Mark as oral literature.
First, as
we are becoming increasingly aware, literacy rates were generally very low in antiquity. Official information was broadcast by public criers who were attached to all levels of government.

No, this was not the case with sacred Jewish texts. We know how carefully they Jewish scribes went to preserve the exact words that they thought God had given them through the scrolls discovered in the area of the Dead Sea. They show remarkable word accuracy, unlike the Greek NT, with the texts we have today.

Even more, information and cultural traditions were transmitted by storytellers. Four types of storytellers were common in antiquity: street performers of both sexes who eked out a marginal existence; a somewhat higher-status group who told religious and secular stories outside temples and inside and outside synagogues, entertaining and teaching; storytellers who did not earn their living at it but had local or regional reputations; and, finally, women, mothers, and nursemaids, who told stories to educate, amuse, or frighten children. Performance of sacred stories was a major part of synagogue worship, so most likely it was important also in early Christian worship
.

I think the author is well intentioned but nevertheless writing through xtian blinkers. We all know that childrens bibles, illustrative bibles, statues, painting etc are common ways by which the gospel is transmitted today to people who are not sophisticated as yet to take in the so called sacred texts directly. That was no doubt the same, even more so, in the 1st century of the xtian era. That takes nothing away from the fact that Jewish holy scripture has been remarkably preserved since that era.

 

Christian storytellers would have been found among most of the groups mentioned above and in most settings.

No arguments here but thats no reason to reject the normal Jewish way of preserving holy scripture. The question is why do we not have gospel accounts that have been subject to the same carefull recording and copying as we have for contemporary Jewish OT texts? It wasn't because oral tradition was the normal way of preserving them at that time.

 

Stories such as Mark's would have been told both during and outside of Christian worship settings. Storytelling was ubiquitous in the ancient world, so it would certainly have been part—an important part—of early Christian experience.

Again no argument here but this would ordinarily have run parallel with canon of scripture carefully preserved and sent to the main church's. The "childrens" stories would have been derived from those just like the synagogue practiced with OT scripture.

 

Second,
writing was used in support of oral performance, and oral performance could and often did continue with little reliance on or even acquaintance with written texts.
The British textual critic D. C. Parker writes,
"
The gospels were written rather to support than to replace the oral tradition."

And this begs the question: why did the early xtian community rely on oral transmission for "the Word of God" rather than use the existing Jewish model? My theory was that early xtian church was modelled on the ways of pagan mystery religions not because there was no alternative.

Furthermore, in such a media world, there is continual feedback between the oral and the written: he continues, "the written texts are only a part of the process by which the traditions about Jesus were passed on.
The traditions were told and retold, written and rewritten, in oral tradition and in successive versions of texts.
"

The author is not saying why this should have been so. The theory I put forward tries to answer what at face value is very strange behaviour for a Jewish sect at that time.

 

I believe Mark was composed and transmitted primarily orally, but that does not exclude earlier and later written versions.
The boundaries between the two were very fluid.
Third, the Gospel of Mark reflects a social milieu in which oral performance without any dependence on manuscripts would be the norm.

No! Absolutely not! The Dead Sea scrolls and the accuracy of the Jewish texts handed down to us through the ages, to which they give witness, tells us that oral tradition was emphatically not the means by which primary sacred texts were preserved in that era. What the author is putting forward is highly anachronistic and more relevant to the emergence of the orignal Jewish canon many centuries before.

 

Richard Rohrbaugh has argued persuasively that Mark's audience consisted primarily of nonliterate peasants.

So what? this does not answer why we have no primary NT sacred texts that can be dated back to the time of Christ. Why have we only got the "illiterate" story tellers version preserved in writing rather than an authorative texts from which they ought to have been derived in the contemporary Jewish scribe fashion.

 

Richard Horsley, extending Rohrbaugh's argument and his own thesis of Mark as giving voice to subjected peoples, suggests that the Gospel's audiences continued to be primarily rural villagers, "that its audience consists of ordinary Greek-speaking people in the eastern parts of the Roman empire, most likely villagers." That the Gospel would appeal to village communities without the resources to own or read manuscripts seems quite likely, but this makes the question of the gospel's survival into the manuscript tradition even more improbable.

The authors here are assuming that oral tradition is the way sacred texts were transmitted in that era. We know that is not the case through the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and how they verify the accuracy of the copysists down through the ages.

GM - I've already admitted to a bias on my part for ancient oral history.

I dont think this is bias, I share your thoughts on oral tradition. All I am putting forward here is why I think the early xtian church opted out of the normal Jewish practices of that time in preserving and copying sacred texts - I suggest it was because of the nature of the xtian mysteries.

 

But my bias is universal. I don't emphasis this aspect because of any agenda I have with the bible. I just think - in general - across cultures - scholars have ignored the value of oral tradition.

You make good points.

 

It is only recently that scholars are picking up on the interconnectedness between ancient oral traditions and ancient written traditions. That they are not separate and distinct areas of study. That to study one - the other has to be studied as well. :shrug:

 

The Nature of Knowledge in Oral Traditions and Archaeology...

 

There is no doubt that a real history is embedded in Native American oral traditions, and that this is the same history that archaeologists study. Oral traditions contain cultural information about the past carefully preserved and handed down from generation to generation within a tribe. The archaeological record contains material remains of past human behavior that provide physical evidence for many of the same events and processes referred to in oral traditions. Since oral traditions and archaeology have inherent limitations, combining them in research can create knowledge that goes beyond what is possible using either source by itself.

I know very little about Native American life, please excuse my ignorance but when did literacy emerge in their culture?

Well - there were 1000s of languages when Europeans arrived on the scene. To my knowledge only a few of those cultures had written language. Following is an excerpt from encyclopedia.com about this issue. http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/N/NatvAmlang.asp

I will read up on this later but I guess oral tradition will survive longer in closed communites whereas in the early xtian proslytising church there was going to be big problems unless each major church had copy of the "standard" gospel text. The gospels we have now testify to that.

 

Writing and Sign Language

 

Written literature in the usual sense does not exist in the indigenous American languages; however, there are folk literatures.
Communication by writing among the Native Americans in the aboriginal period was limited to the Maya and the Aztecs.
Both cultures used a form of picture writing to represent their ideas. About 800 of the Maya hieroglyphs, or symbols, are known, and in recent years substantial progress has been made in deciphering them. Not many texts of the Maya survive, the most numerous being inscriptions on buildings.

It sounds as if its essentially oral transmision, for want of a sophisticated written language and means to distribute it economically.

 

The Incas of Peru used a system of knotted cords, ropes, or strings to communicate. Called the quipu, it is considered a form of writing. The color and shape of the knotted cords were the clues to meaning. For instance, green cords signified grain, and red cords, soldiers. One knot stood for the number 10; two knots, 20; a double knot, 100. Among Native Americans of E North America, beaded wampum belts often contained pictographic symbols for communication.

ditto

 

This is why oral traditions is so very important in the study of the ancient Americas. If we don't figure out how to systematically and methodically study the ancient civilizations of America through oral traditon - they will be lost. 100s of Native American cultures have already been lost. They died out and their oral traditions died with them. It's as simple as that.

This problem is happening all over the world with the rise of technology and standards of education - the old skills needed for the preservation of an oral tradition have fallen into disuse. I think most of it has long since been lost and cannot be recovered.

 

It would be worth reading the whole article - because the article goes onto discuss the very real and legitimate reservations of Native Americans to putting their oral traditions in writing.
Is it available on the web?

http://www.saa.org/publications/SAAbulletin/14-2/SAA14.html

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Thanks OM. I've learned plenty from you lately. And my post was basically just express how clearly I now understand this. I kind of knew that it must have been happening, but now I do understand how. And also, that it wasn't intentionally lying or decieving, but the opposite. People tried to explain the complex ideas using their own resource of knowledge from before. The new message had to be colored by their own experience from the old religion.

 

If I would convert to another religion, I would borrow the ideas that I liked from Christianity into it. This new religion for me would have a Christian flavor to it, and some ideas in the new religion would be slightly angled towards Christianity everytime I tried to explain them. I probably would even incorporate some of the analogies and stories from the Bible to better explain this new religion. In the end, I'd do it, not to lie to someone, but to explain the concepts "better" to someone.

Yes...I agree too! Just people trying to explain the unknown with known metaphors and symbols. Someone forgot the disclaimer:

 

THIS IS A BOOK THAT SPEAKS IN METAPHORS IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE UNKNOWN.

 

WARNING! NOT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY! IF DONE SO, HORRIBLE RESULTS WILL ENSUE!

 

CERTAIN PEOPLE, PLACES, AND EVENTS ARE REAL IN ORDER TO CONVEY MEANING.

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To recap,

 

The gospel contain a lot of contradictions. That this is due in some ways to the vagaries of oral transmission I do not argue. I speculated that the reason why this may have come about was due to the nature of the xtian revelation being modelled in some way on contemporary pagan mystery religions. "Come and eat the flesh and blood of Christ" was not something to be announced indiscriminately to crowds. An alternative theory is that oral transmission was the conventional channel of communication in that era. Whilst it does not refute by itself the idea of xtianity being modelled on pagan mystery cults I don't think it was primary reason or motivation why we today the synoptic gospel problem. Now to the supporting material you supply:

 

Golden Meadows --- you're making me work WAY TOO HARD ... :lmao:

 

But, thank you, my brain needs the work out.

 

In the interest of saving time on a day of celebration, family and friends, I'm going to go with your lead and "cut to the chase" ... by sticking with your "recap". :)

 

You and I don't disagree all that much, you know. In fact I'd say we're more in agreement than disagreement. It's just a matter of our emphasis - and I think it's fair to say that our emphasis may be influenced by our personal bias. I've already admitted a bias towards oral history. You obviously know more about the influence of the mystery movement on early Christianity. We're just bringing our own areas of knowledge to the table - that's all.

 

And truth be told, in the end, it's probably a grand mixture of both (human nature being what it is).

 

My only concern here .. and I do believe it is a valid concern ... is that we not read into ancient history (1000s of years removed from the actual events) something that wasn't there. Don't misunderstand that statement GM, I adamently believe that the ancient mystery pagan religions influenced early Christianity.

 

See the exchange earlier with HanSolo...

 

OM, you know I support the idea of borrowed religious ideas into Christianity, probably a bit more than you do, but thats okay.

 

Anyway. I realized that this borrowing could be explained with the oral tradition.

 

Imagine growing up in a family with one kind of religion, where you learn all the concepts and ideas in and out.

 

One day, when you're grown up, you convert to Christianity, because of whatever reason. But it's only based on word of mouth. You hear the fabulous story about this Jesus that died so you could be saved...etc

 

Now, by the oral tradition, you are transfering the message to others. It is very likely that you will add flavor or ideas to the story based on how you understand religion from before. And what kind will it be? The kind that you know best. The one you grew up with and learned everything about.

 

It's the same way as right now, when I debate and criticize Christianity, I am still colored by the Christianity and the experience I had back then. It's still a part of who I am, and can't be undone.

 

The same argument would go for these people. Uneducated and ignorant, they would have to explain things based on their own experience and minimal knowledge.

 

This does explain why and how new ideas got introduced into early Gentile Christianity.
Yes... I agree completely. To assume early Christianity grew in a pristine environmnet - void of any influence by surrounding cultures and religions - is niave (at best). Yes ... I can very much see how the oral transmission of knowledge would lend itself to borrowing ideas across religious boundries.

 

And then.....

 

Thanks OM. I've learned plenty from you lately. And my post was basically just express how clearly I now understand this. I kind of knew that it must have been happening, but now I do understand how.
And also, that it wasn't intentionally lying or decieving, but the opposite. People tried to explain the complex ideas using their own resource of knowledge from before. The new message had to be colored by their own experience from the old religion
.

 

If I would convert to another religion, I would borrow the ideas that I liked from Christianity into it. This new religion for me would have a Christian flavor to it, and some ideas in the new religion would be slightly angled towards Christianity everytime I tried to explain them. I probably would even incorporate some of the analogies and stories from the Bible to better explain this new religion. In the end, I'd do it, not to lie to someone, but to explain the concepts "better" to someone.

 

HanSolo's following statement: "And also, that it wasn't intentionally lying or decieving". Is very important - and in truth it is why I've stuck to my guns so much. So often - on this board - (and I know it's not intentional) I see a tendancy to read "conspiracy" or intentional malicious behavior into the early Christian borrowing of pagan ideas.

 

I do not see it this way at all. I see the early Christian movement as quite normal, even boring. It was a new movement that took hold - that's all. And as a new movement - it grew like most things of its time and place. 1st oral transmission of its stories and next written transmission. How utterly boring and normal it was. ;)

 

It was a messianic movement. The earliest followers felt that they would see the end times - in their own lifetimes. So, given that mindset, given that the culture this movement grew in was an oral culture (even if the Hebrew scriptures were highly evolved and the Hebrew culture was more literate than most) still the overall culture that the early Christian movement grew in was predominately oral - by any definition. The founder of this movement was a wandering - oral - teacher. Why would his earliest followers be any different?

 

Yes - the influence of the mystery religions had something to do with it - that I don't argue. But to me it's a piece of the puzzle - that's all. The influence of the mystery religion - and their tendancy to educate primarily through oral communication was part of the overall culture.

 

My emphasis is different than yours GM - but I do believe we are in agreement. I don't disagree with you - I just come at it from a different angle. My only concern here - is that we not read malicious intent into the way the early Christian movement grew. That is why HanSolo's comments meant so much to me. :shrug:

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It was a messianic movement. The earliest followers felt that they would see the end times - in their own lifetimes. So, given that mindset, given that the culture this movement grew in was an oral culture (even if the Hebrew scriptures were highly evolved and the Hebrew culture was more literate than most) still the overall culture that the early Christian movement grew in was predominately oral - by any definition. The founder of this movement was a wandering - oral - teacher. Why would his earliest followers be any different?

 

I guess the only comment I'd have here is that the christian movement began as "Movements". Varied groups who had some common ideas, and some not-so-common.

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls point to the idea that eschatology, or end-of-the-world thinking was prevalent prior to orthodox christianity.

 

There is considerable evidence that the Valentinians, the Ebionites, the Basilides group in Egypt, the Essenes, the Montanists, and many others developed at the same time as orthodox thinking.

 

It's only Eusebius' version of history that tells us of a single unified movement - with peripheral heretical groups that were quickly extinguished.

 

Robert Price has a parable about the beginnings of christianity (I'll paraphrase)

 

A man planted a field with all kinds and varieties of beautiful wildflowers. One of the types of flowers began to develop deeper roots than all of the others, and it ended up choking out all of rest.

 

So, anytime I see the words "christian movement" now - I immediately think - "which one" ?

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It was a messianic movement. The earliest followers felt that they would see the end times - in their own lifetimes. So, given that mindset, given that the culture this movement grew in was an oral culture (even if the Hebrew scriptures were highly evolved and the Hebrew culture was more literate than most) still the overall culture that the early Christian movement grew in was predominately oral - by any definition. The founder of this movement was a wandering - oral - teacher. Why would his earliest followers be any different?

 

I guess the only comment I'd have here is that the christian movement began as "Movements". Varied groups who had some common ideas, and some not-so-common.

 

The Dead Sea Scrolls point to the idea that eschatology, or end-of-the-world thinking was prevalent prior to orthodox christianity.

 

There is considerable evidence that the Valentinians, the Ebionites, the Basilides group in Egypt, the Essenes, the Montanists, and many others developed at the same time as orthodox thinking.

 

It's only Eusebius' version of history that tells us of a single unified movement - with peripheral heretical groups that were quickly extinguished.

 

Robert Price has a parable about the beginnings of christianity (I'll paraphrase)

 

A man planted a field with all kinds and varieties of beautiful wildflowers. One of the types of flowers began to develop deeper roots than all of the others, and it ended up choking out all of rest.

 

So, anytime I see the words "christian movement" now - I immediately think - "which one" ?

 

I agree completely. :grin:

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My emphasis is different than yours GM - but I do believe we are in agreement. I don't disagree with you - I just come at it from a different angle. My only concern here - is that we not read malicious intent into the way the early Christian movement grew. That is why HanSolo's comments meant so much to me. :shrug:

:thanks:

 

I'm starting to see where I think the differences in view really come from.

 

From our side, there are many that argue that it was a conspiracy, that intentionally created a new religion to confuse and mislead the people.

 

And from the text critical side, there was not any conspiracy, but well meaning individual that misunderstood and unintentionally made the religion grow.

 

Now, I think there is truth to both side, and there are grounds for both claims.

 

First of all we can see that some of the church leaders and more prominent people in the frontline of the religion was not truly honest in all situations. Paul didn't learn from the Apostles, but retreated for years and made up his own mind. Eusebius and others falsified the scriptures. Constantine said he was Christian, but persecuted, tortured and killed Christians of other denominations only to stabilize his own control and power. And so on. So there is a flow of certain people that didn't search their faith in a truthful manner.

 

On the other hand. There's no evidence that the whole belief system and all the books in NT were compiled and constructed by just a few people. It is evident that many different people have had their hands in making the religion, and also at different times over 2-300 years. So there's no evidence to claim that one person or one small group were responsible for an intentional conspiracy. And furthermore, the mixes of so many different faiths in the books show that there must have been people from different faiths involved, and not one person with one faith. The mix proves the multitude of hands in there, not one hand or one group leading the faith just one way. When the claim comes up that Christianity have pagan, Essene, Gnostic, Hellenistic, Mithraistic, Jewish, Egyptian and maybe even Vedic roots, then it nullifies (IMO) the claim that one or a few people single handedly created it.

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Anyone else notice that when this highly intellectual discussion of biblical script got underway, our little "evangelists" appear to have bowed out of the discussion? This is why they stay exactly where they are in their little dogma rut. Instead of seeking knowledge and trying to comprehend that which they do not, they just toss their little hands in ther air saying "I don't get it". And they can somehow sleep at night without their little minds buzzing with the need to understand.

 

:ugh:

I notice this. This is a good sign. It means they are either thinking about something they have never been exposed to in fundiland, or they know they are in over their heads and we get to have an engaging and intelligent discussion without getting distracted into arguing whether it might really be possible for donkeys to talk, or that all the evidence of textual criticism is just planted there by the devil to test our faith - like the dinosaur bones.

 

Anyway, I wanted to add one thing to what Han said earlier about the influence of pagan beliefs infusing into the oral traditions: The immediate example comes to mind of Amy's representations in art of Jesus being Caucasian. Now she knows he was of Hebrew decent, yet the image of Christ that is injected by the teller of the story (in this case Amy telling the story in her art work), is always bearing the image of both the teller and the culture of the teller. These images then become widely adopted and become part of how that artist/teller’s culture conceives of Christ.

 

This is why I say all the time that we create God in our own image. The influences may be subtle or profound, but they are always there. It is unavoidable. Our images of Jesus reflect European perceptions. The images of Jesus in those ancient cultures would reflect theirs. Those images then become incorporated into we have inherited today, and what we will pass on to tomorrow’s images of Christ.

 

For literalists to ignore all these things is to me the height of faith rooted in denial.

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OM,

 

I am sure we are on the same wavelength re oral tradition and how it is transmitted and developed. My speculation related to the reason why it seems to have been used as the only means preserving the NT tradition for several decades.

 

"OM: HanSolo's following statement: "And also, that it wasn't intentionally lying or decieving". Is very important - and in truth it is why I've stuck to my guns so much. So often - on this board - (and I know it's not intentional) I see a tendancy to read "conspiracy" or intentional malicious behavior into the early Christian borrowing of pagan ideas."

What stops me thinking of "conspiracy" or pure myth making in early xtianity is Paul who seems to be a very real personality in the letters we have attributed to him. He vouches for the reality of a person called Jesus Christ and the main people who followed him. There is a problem between the gospels proper and Pauls "gospel", i.e they do not overlap. I suspect Paul did not know the synoptic gospels that we have even in a rough form.

 

I don't think early xtians lied about the gospels but neither do I reject the possibility that the gospels were "discovered" by a non xtian opportunist who found a ready market for some manuscripts that claimed to be the work of people close to Jesus. Remember how devastating the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 must have been and how the system that would have caught out such forgery disappeared. I can think of modern day examples of objects/texts being fabricated to appeal to a religious market.

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I agree with OM about there not being a conspiricy. I don't think anyone conspired to make up Jesus...or conspired to invent the doctorne of Hell...they just happned over time

 

I like the Tao, but I admit that there is little evidence that Lao Tzu really existed, apart from an account of Confucius meeting him...which well could have developed from legend.

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Now, I think there is truth to both side, and there are grounds for both claims.

 

So do I HanSolo ... so do I .... :)

 

Actually - I've always viewed the Bible as a history of a human search for God. As a human search for God - it is covers the full dimension of humanity.

 

Not just the stories in the Bible, but also the way the Bible came into development. The history of the Bible and the history of Christianity is human history. There were people who meant and worked for the highest ideals of humanity to prevail and there were people who were deceitful and manipulative and worked to hold onto power and control of a movement. Most people involved probably didn't give the details of theology and oral and written tradition much thought - they were probably like most people in our world today. "If a world view is working for me - why question it"?

 

So... yes ... there was most likely intentional deceit happening. But - was it the entire dimension of early Christianity? No - most people involved in early Christianity probably didn't give control of a budding movement any consideration at all. Most people in early Christianity probably didn't question the theology at all - it worked for their individual lives and they accepted it as such. I do believe there were some people who worked very hard to develop a movement that lived up to the highest in humanity - and I believe it is possible to see this in the Bible - as well as the lowest of humanity.

 

As I said - to me the Bible is a history of the HUMAN search for God. Not just the stories in the Bible - but the development of the Bible itself (the development of Christianity as well) is a lesson in the HUMAN search for God.

 

It is refreshing to see that many of you also see that the beginnings of Christianity were not soley based in malicious or deceitful intent. :grin:

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Hello all:)

 

Sorry I seemed to have skipped out but I needed to step back and really take your views seriously. In order to do that, I needed to stop posting replys. I have decided, in the interest of learning instead of telling people what is right, to open my own topic for any exchanges of information.

 

For all those who want to check it out, it's called "Getting down to the root..."

 

Thanks for giving me so much to think about.

Kat22

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Hello all:)

 

Sorry I seemed to have skipped out but I needed to step back and really take your views seriously. In order to do that, I needed to stop posting replys. I have decided, in the interest of learning instead of telling people what is right, to open my own topic for any exchanges of information.

 

For all those who want to check it out, it's called "Getting down to the root..."

 

Thanks for giving me so much to think about.

Kat22

 

Wow, it's scary how close this is to my own history. Years ago my friends and I were out street witnessing and I met a smart 16yo who knew more about the bible and my religion than I. I decided to shut up and learn before speaking out on the subject again. Knowledge can be a dangerous thing to your faith, I've got to warn you.

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Wow, it's scary how close this is to my own history. Years ago my friends and I were out street witnessing and I met a smart 16yo who knew more about the bible and my religion than I. I decided to shut up and learn before speaking out on the subject again. Knowledge can be a dangerous thing to your faith, I've got to warn you.

Sometimes I've been thinking if we need a disclaimer for Christians that come here. Something like "be warned, the discussions you encounter here might result in your loss of faith." :)

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