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October 19, 2009

Comments

Bino

Ignoring the word for word issue on which you are just plain wrong, you still refuse to use common sense when asking your questions about how someone knew something:

1) The wisemen knew of Herod's meeting and probably told Mary and Joseph.

2) As for John the Bapstist preaching the desert, what are you talking about? John had very public ministry, and in fact several of the apostles seem to be associated with John before they meet Jesus. It would be pretty easy for Matthew to find out about the content of John's preaching.

3) As for Jesus conversation wth the devil, we can assume that Jesus at some point told his disciples about what happened. They were with him for about 3 years after all.

"In that sense Mt's "quotations" are certainly not true."

They are true in the sense that they contain Jesus' teachings, whether word for word or not. You have yet to prove that because they may or may not be word for word that they are not true accurate accounts of his teaching.

"Nor are Mt's stories."

Asserted but where's the proof?

"The bible is not reliable – in the way apologists have in mind when they make the claim."

Really?! We keep telling you we don't require word for word verbatim accounts to assert that Matthew is true yet you continue to ignore that. So it is our standard or yours?

"The ancients didn't make up quotes just in paraphrase, they had a tradition of making up quotes whole cloth, to attribute the author's ideas/ understandings/ theologies to the person "quoted." This is of course exactly what Mt does. And Mk, Lk, Jn. Which is how we know for sure the gospels are not reliable. "

And your source for this assertion is regarding ancient historians making up quotes out of whole cloth? And even if it is true for some accounts, you need to show it it true for Matthew and the other gospels. You've not proven anything to this point.

Bino, very interesting stuff you're offering here. I think you're right that it's clear, at least in English and to our modern ears, that form critically they look like what you'd expect from a made up text. If you write a fictional story you place precise wording in the mouth of a speaker, telling the reader exactly what was said. It's all over Harry Potter or any other fictional story we read. This is exactly how the gospels appear. On the other hand actual history involves more third person type statements. So in fiction you might have "Dan said 'Get in the car or we'll be late.'" whereas history would say "At one point Dan told his kids to get in the car to avoid being late." Fiction of course can involve the latter form, but also includes the former, whereas this would be unusual for actual history without some contextual reason for explaining why direct quotation is involved.

I'm always interested in hearing where the apologist goes for wiggle room. I wonder if any of the ancient histories sound like the gospels. Nothing jumps to my mind from Josephus that fits the gospel/fictional form. He's always writing more like the latter form I describe above.

Along the same lines the gospels don't read like eyewitness accounts. An eyewitness account would read something like this. "One day I happened to observe Jesus doing this or that. Another time we witnessed this or that interesting event, etc." The gospels don't read like that at all. I understand there is an apocryphal text that is presented in the form of eyewitness reporting, but I don't recall what it's called.

I have a book that I expect goes into this in more detail that I'm told is very good, but I haven't read it yet. It's "The Bible: Now I Get It - A Form Criticism Handbook". It looks almost like a kids book with these cartoonish drawings. I need to read that.

Joe said:

"My point was that saying there may have been 'notepads' doesn’t really solve the basic problem of reliability for the reasons that I gave."

You redefined "reliability". You responded with objections to inerrancy, which wasn't the subject I was addressing. And I cited far more than notepads. Who suggested that notepads "solve the basic problem of reliability" as you're defining that phrase? I didn't.

If you want a defense of inerrancy, then you need to consult sources that are discussing that subject. I've discussed some of the relevant issues, such as Jesus' resurrection, in previous threads at this blog and at Triablogue and elsewhere. But expecting my comments on the general reliability of the gospels, or on notepads in particular, to "solve the basic problem of reliability" doesn't make sense.

You write:

"Josephus is probably 'generally reliable'. Do you believe every word written by Josephus?"

I've explained why I distinguish between the two. You're ignoring what I said.

You write:

"I would say that the data here are woefully inadequate. Finding a few words written by a few opponents doesn’t come close to giving us the data that we need."

Why should anybody be convinced by your unsupported comments about what you "would say"? We have a lot more data than "a few words" on how the early opponents of Christianity viewed the religion. See my material linked above on the canon of the New Testament and Biblical prophecy, for example. I repeatedly discuss the non-Christian data, sometimes with entire articles on the subject. Scholars like Richard Bauckham and Craig Keener discuss some of the evidence from non-Christian sources in books like the ones I've cited above. Why are you even participating in discussions like this one if you're so ignorant of the subject that you think we have only "a few words" from Christianity's opponents?

And I didn't suggest that the evidence from Christianity's enemies is sufficient by itself to settle every issue you raise. Singling out something like the availability of notepads or the data from non-Christian sources, then objecting that it doesn't settle every issue you raise, is an unreasonable response to a cumulative case.

You write:

"And I have twenty years of exam data that says that human memory is badly, badly flawed."

Again, different cultures develop their memory skills to different degrees. You've given us no reason to think that the oral culture of first-century Israel is in the same category as your students. And Bauckham's documentation comes from a much wider spectrum of sources and from people with far more knowledge and experience in studying these subjects than you have. The evidence Bauckham cites carries far more weight than your assertions about your experiences with some students.

You write:

"Ah yes, divine inspiration. The universal, untestable, get-out-of-jail free card. When in doubt, claim divine inspiration. Since it’s impossible to disprove divine intervention, I need to remember to use this excuse more often."

Something doesn't have to be disprovable in order to be trusted. Can you disprove what Josephus says about a discussion he had with a Jewish leader or a Roman general? No, you can't. But you can have reason to trust him, even without being able to disprove his claim if it were false.

Since Christians argue for Divine inspiration rather than just asserting it, it's not an "untestable, get-out-of-jail free card".

You write:

"True, initially, but the teachings were then passed on to those who were not present….like to those who would eventually put the words in writing."

You're assuming, without argument, that the traditional authorship attributions of the first and fourth gospels are false. Where's your interaction with the arguments for those authorship attributions? I've argued for the attributions of all four gospels, at Triablogue and elsewhere, including at this blog. Where's your comparable, or better, case against those attributions?

And the fact that information has been passed on doesn't make it inherently unreliable. Josephus wasn't an eyewitness to most of what he reports, yet you've said that he's generally reliable.

You write:

"The point of Telephone' is that verbal information is susceptible to degradation when it is passed from person to person. And that’s true whether the information is 'public' or not."

Nobody denied that "verbal information is susceptible to degradation when it is passed from person to person", but the potential for distortion is much larger if you're playing a game in which distortion is an object of amusement and people are communicating by whispering to one person at a time. If you're going to use an analogy to the game of telephone to dismiss oral tradition, then how are you arriving at the conclusion that sources like Josephus are generally reliable? Josephus wasn't an eyewitness to most of what he reports. He relied largely on other sources, and those other sources would often rely on oral reports passed on to them. If you're going to keep arguing against the reliability of human memory, the passing on of oral reports, etc., then how are you arriving at conclusions about the general trustworthiness of sources like Josephus? Why trust Josephus' memories? If your students can't be trusted to remember what they heard you say, then why do you trust Josephus to remember what he saw, what he read in other sources, etc.? You keep contradicting yourself.

You write:

"There is no corroboration from contemporaneous sources for the miracles of Jesus. None."

You're making assumptions about the dating and authorship of the New Testament documents without any accompanying argumentation. And what about the evidence we have for early Jewish acceptance of Jesus' miracles, which they attributed to Satan? You're not interacting with the evidence. You're just making assertions.

You write:

"And the whole 'fulfilled prophecy' thing looks very dicey to me, because we are relying on very biased sources."

Again, why should anybody be convinced by how something "looks" to you? I've linked, above, to some of my material on prophecy. You aren't interacting with it. You're just telling us what you believe, without any accompanying argumentation.

You write:

"Where’s the independent corroboration from, say, Roman sources?"

I've already commented on the issue of hostile corroboration. But you trust Josephus on issues for which we don't have the sort of Roman corroboration you're asking for with regard to Christianity.

You write:

"Did Jesus teach that Adam, Eve and Noah were real people? Was there a global flood? Before you say I’m changing the subject, remember, you brought the issue of what Jesus taught about the Biblical accounts, yes?"

I mentioned Jesus' view of the Biblical documents in response to what you said about inerrancy. In other words, you changed the subject, and now you're trying to prolong that discussion of the subject you brought up while claiming, at the same time, that I shouldn't say that you're changing the subject. I can understand why you'd want to discuss everything from Biblical inerrancy to Adam to Noah and the extent of the flood. You didn't like the direction in which the original discussion was headed, so you decided to change the subject.

You write:

"It’s a product of oral tradition, and it mixes historical events with intervention by gods, just like the Bible."

As if those are the only issues involved? Josephus also uses oral tradition and refers to the supernatural and God. Since you consider Josephus generally trustworthy, does it therefore follow that you must also believe in the general historicity of the Illiad? You keep contradicting yourself.

You write:

"Do you accept the siege of Troy? Yes or no? If yes, then you already know about all of the evidence and documentation that I would present."

I'm trying to get you to document your claim, which is something you so seldom do. You brought up Troy. Support your own argument. Don't expect me to disprove it before you've made any effort to prove it.

You write:

"The supporting argument is blindingly obvious, and I’ve given it to you in the past. If the Romans execute a rising religious leader in the religious capital of an oppressed people, and if that leader returns from the dead, and if 500 people see that zombie on Good Friday plus X days later, then there is no doubt about what happens on GF plus X plus one day later. No doubt. To think that they snowball would abruptly stop rolling at 500 people is to deny everything we know about human behavior. The ball doesn’t stop; think 'exponential growth'."

The risen Christ was a personal agent, not something like a snowball that gains momentum. His appearance to more than five hundred people doesn't prove that He would appear to a larger number of people the next day or the next week. And if some larger group claimed an appearance without sufficient evidence, why would we expect somebody like the apostle Paul to mention such a claim in a passage like 1 Corinthians 15? False claims by a larger group wouldn't falsify a true claim by the group of more than five hundred. Your argument, if we can call it that, doesn't make sense.

Jon wrote:

"I think you're right that it's clear, at least in English and to our modern ears, that form critically they look like what you'd expect from a made up text. If you write a fictional story you place precise wording in the mouth of a speaker, telling the reader exactly what was said....I wonder if any of the ancient histories sound like the gospels. Nothing jumps to my mind from Josephus that fits the gospel/fictional form. He's always writing more like the latter form I describe above."

There's a large degree of continuity in human history, but literary conventions often change. Assumptions are made in some contexts that aren't made in others, and the meaning of words and the definition of genres change over time.

It was common for ancient sources writing in historical genres, including historians like Josephus, to quote what people said, including moderate or lengthy discourses like the ones we see in the gospels. Richard Bauckham and Craig Keener discuss issues like this one in their books cited above, and you can consult somebody like Steve Mason on Josephus, Ronald Mellor on Tacitus, or Andrew Wallace-Hadrill on Suetonius, for example. But scholars like Bauckham and Keener specialize in the study of Jesus in particular, so they're especially relevant in this context.

The accuracy of the words attributed to people in ancient documents varied from case to case. Some sources did draft speeches with little or no evidence to go by. The amount of evidence available or utilized would vary from one situation to another. Audience expectations, which are relevant to issues of genre and honesty, would also vary.

Here are some of Craig Keener's comments on the genre of the gospels:

"Readers throughout most of history understood the Gospels as biographies (Stanton 1989a: 15-17), but after 1915 scholars tried to find some other classification for them, mainly because these scholars compared ancient and modern biography and noticed that the Gospels differed from the latter (Talbert 1977: 2-3; cf. Mack 1988: 16n.6). The current trend, however, is again to recognize the Gospels as ancient biographies. The most complete statement of the question to date comes from a Cambridge monograph by Richard A. Burridge. After carefully defining the criteria for evaluating genre (1992: 109-27) and establishing the characteristic features of Greco-Roman ‘lives’ (128-90), he demonstrates how the canonical Gospels fit this genre (191-239). The trend to regard the Gospels as ancient biography is currently strong enough for British Matthew scholar Graham Stanton to characterize the skepticism of Bultmann and others about the biographical character of the Gospels as ‘surprisingly inaccurate’ (1993: 63; idem 1995: 137)….But though such [ancient] historians did not always write the way we write history today, they were clearly concerned to write history as well as their resources allowed (Jos. Ant. 20.156-57’ Arist. Poetics 9.2-3, 1451b; Diod. Sic. 21.17.1; Dion. Hal. 1.1.2-4; 1.2.1; 1.4.2; cf. Mosley 1965). Although the historical accuracy of biographers varied from one biographer to another, biographers intended biographies to be essentially historical works (see Aune 1988: 125; Witherington 1994:339; cf. Polyb. 8.8)….There apparently were bad historians and biographers who made up stories, but they became objects of criticism for violating accepted standards (cf. Lucian History 12, 24-25)….Matthew and Luke, whose fidelity we can test against some of their sources, rank high among ancient works….Like most Greek-speaking Jewish biographers, Matthew is more interested in interpreting tradition than in creating it….A Gospel writer like Luke was among the most accurate of ancient historians, if we may judge from his use of Mark (see Marshall 1978; idem 1991) and his historiography in Acts (cf., e.g., Sherwin-White 1978; Gill and Gempf 1994). Luke clearly had both written (Lk 1:1) and oral (1:2) sources available, and his literary patron Theophilus already knew much of this Christian tradition (1:4), which would exclude Luke’s widespread invention of new material. Luke undoubtedly researched this material (1:3) during his (on my view) probable sojourn with Paul in Palestine (Acts 21:17; 27:1; on the ‘we-narratives,’ cf., e.g., Maddox 1982: 7). Although Luke writes more in the Greco-Roman historiographic tradition than Matthew does, Matthew’s normally relatively conservative use of Mark likewise suggests a high degree of historical trustworthiness behind his accounts….only historical works, not novels, had historical prologues like that of Luke [Luke 1:1-4] (Aune 1987: 124)…A central character’s ‘great deeds’ generally comprise the bulk of an ancient biographical narrative, and the Gospels fit this prediction (Burridge 1992: 208). In other words, biographies were about someone in particular. Aside from the 42.5 percent of Matthew’s verbs that appear directly in Jesus’ teaching, Jesus himself is the subject of 17.2 percent of Matthew’s verbs; the disciples, 8.8 percent; those to whom Jesus ministers, 4.4 percent; and the religious establishment, 4.4 percent. Even in his absence he often remains the subject of others’ discussions (14:1-2; 26:3-5). Thus, as was common in ancient biographies (and no other genre), at least half of Matthew’s verbs involve the central figure’s ‘words and deeds’ (Burridge 1992: 196-97, 202). The entire point of using this genre is that it focuses on Jesus himself, not simply on early Christian experience (Burridge 1992: 256-58)." (A Commentary On The Gospel Of Matthew [Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999], pp. 17-18, 21-23, 51)

See also the further discussion in the introduction in the first volume of Keener’s commentary on the gospel of John (The Gospel Of John: A Commentary [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003]). Keener goes into much more detail than what I outline above, far too much to quote here. For example:

"The lengths of the canonical gospels suggest not only intention to publish but also the nature of their genre. All four gospels fit the medium-range length (10,000-25,000 words) found in ancient biographies as distinct from many other kinds of works….all four canonical gospels are a far cry from the fanciful metamorphosis stories, divine rapes, and so forth in a compilation like Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The Gospels plainly have more historical intention and fewer literary pretensions than such works….Works with a historical prologue like Luke’s (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-2) were historical works; novels lacked such fixtures, although occasionally they could include a proem telling why the author made up the story (Longus proem 1-2). In contrast to novels, the Gospels do not present themselves as texts composed primarily for entertainment, but as true accounts of Jesus’ ministry. The excesses of some forms of earlier source and redaction criticism notwithstanding, one would also be hard pressed to find a novel so clearly tied to its sources as Matthew or Luke is! Even John, whose sources are difficult to discern, overlaps enough with the Synoptics in some accounts and clearly in purpose to defy the category of novel….The Gospels are, however, too long for dramas, which maintained a particular length in Mediterranean antiquity. They also include far too much prose narrative for ancient drama….Richard Burridge, after carefully defining the criteria for identifying genre and establishing the characteristic features of Greco-Roman bioi, or lives, shows how both the Synoptics and John fit this genre. So forceful is his work on Gospel genre as biography that one knowledgeable reviewer [Charles Talbert] concludes, ‘This volume ought to end any legitimate denial of the canonical Gospels’ biographical character.’ Arguments concerning the biographical character of the Gospels have thus come full circle: the Gospels, long viewed as biographies until the early twentieth century, now again are widely viewed as biographies….Biographies were essentially historical works; thus the Gospels would have an essentially historical as well as a propagandistic function….[quoting David Aune] ’while biography tended to emphasize encomium, or the one-sided praise of the subject, it was still firmly rooted in historical fact rather than literary fiction. Thus while the Evangelists clearly had an important theological agenda, the very fact that they chose to adapt Greco-Roman biographical conventions to tell the story of Jesus indicates that they were centrally concerned to communicate what they thought really happened.’…had the Gospel writers wished to communicate solely later Christian doctrine and not history, they could have used simpler forms than biography….As readers of the OT, which most Jews viewed as historically true, they must have believed that history itself communicated theology….the Paraclete [in John’s gospel] recalls and interprets history, aiding the witnesses (14:26; 15:26-27).…the features that Acts shares with OT historical works confirms that Luke intended to write history…History [in antiquity] was supposed to be truthful, and [ancient] historians harshly criticized other historians whom they accused of promoting falsehood, especially when they exhibited self-serving agendas." (pp. 7-13, 17, n. 143 on p. 17, 18)

Jason,

There is not much that I can say that wouldn’t be redundant, so I’ll try to keep this short.

You are satisfied with the notes taken by the students in the lecture hall. I would like to see the book written by the lecturer, but this book doesn’t exist. You’re happy with what exists, I am not. So be it.

You give great weight to oral tradition when it supports a supernatural claim that you embrace and you reject it when it supports a claim that you don’t like. Well, that’s your choice.

You suggested that Jesus’ statements about Biblical accounts (Adam, et al.) provide evidence for the reliability of the NT and/or Jesus himself. This was a line of inquiry that you open up. I was happy to try to test this evidence. Now, you don’t want to talk about it. Again, your choice.

With respect to the 500, it appears that you wish to turn this claim into something that is untestable. I’m not sure what “personal agent” means, but I suspect that it means something like “can not be corroborated”. In any event, by focusing on what Jesus would do in terms of appearing or not appearing, you missed the point. This is not about WWJD. This is about how humans would respond after 500 people see the reanimated corpse of Jesus.

It is a very reasonable, logical, testable hypothesis to say that if 500 people saw a dead man walking, then the day after this happened, the entire city of Jerusalem would frantically searching for the zombie Jesus. And the day after that, there would be 100,000 more doing the same thing. It wouldn’t matter if Jesus wasn’t actually there to greet them with punch and cookies. Once 500 people see Jesus, there is no stopping the snow ball, and there’s no stopping the thousands of people who would demand to see Jesus, too. Further, each the 500 witnesses would be surrounded by their own personal crowds of people who would pummel the witnesses with questions about the risen Messiah. We’re talking full-scale, province-wide riots here.

This is just how people behave, especially people in crowds. It doesn’t matter if there are no additional appearances. If the initial appearances to 500 people did, in fact, actually occur, then we can predict what would happen next. But what we predict didn’t happen. The claim made by Paul in Corinthians utterly fails the test. Paul is not a reliable witness.

Now, there was one new thing, the “the evidence we have for early Jewish acceptance of Jesus' miracles”. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, none of these Jewish accounts date to the time of Jesus’ life, none of these are written by eyewitnesses, and surprisingly, there are very few descriptions of specific miraculous events. Basically, what we have here are accounts by people who heard about possible miracles from other sources.

These Jews may well have chosen to believe that these miracles could have occurred, because Jews did believe that miracles could occur. No big deal there. But the writers of these accounts had no first-hand knowledge of the events themselves. They did not witness the miracles. I’m not sure I have my legal terminology correct, but I believe that these would all be examples of “hearsay testimony. That is, the testifiers in these cases heard from other people that these other parties either saw a miracle or heard about a miracle. If this is hearsay, it would not be admissible in a court of law, and it doesn’t seem very helpful here.

In summary, we have accounts that corroborate the conclusion that there were miracle stories centered on Jesus circulating in the years after Jesus’ death, with little corroboration for specific miracles. Well, I’ve never argued otherwise. Of course, there were miracle stories circulating in the years after Jesus’ death. The question, of course, is whether or not these miracles actually occurred.

Bino

Ignoring the word for word issue on which you are just plain wrong, you still refuse to use common sense when asking your questions about how someone knew something:

1) The wisemen knew of Herod's meeting and probably told Mary and Joseph.

2) As for John the Bapstist preaching the desert, what are you talking about? John had very public ministry, and in fact several of the apostles seem to be associated with John before they meet Jesus. It would be pretty easy for Matthew to find out about the content of John's preaching.

3) As for Jesus conversation wth the devil, we can assume that Jesus at some point told his disciples about what happened. They were with him for about 3 years after all.

#1. It is not humanly possible to quote conversations verbatim even immediately after they happen. Try it yourself. Watch a sitcom on TV, then at the end sit down and write out the dialogue, verbatim. You can't do it. It can't be done. What the gospel writers claim to do is not possible.

#2. As you know Mt doesn't report generally what was going on, he reports exactly what Herod said. Word for word. And your theory is…

the Magi themselves remembered their conversation with Herod's exactly ?
And reported Herod's words to Mary and Joseph exactly ?
And Mary and Joseph remembered Herod's words exactly ?
And remembered Herod's words decades later, exactly ?
And decades later told Herod's words to Mt exactly ?
Who decades later himself remembered Herod's words exactly ?
That's your theory?


# 3 Can you list please the conversations Mary and Joseph memorized, verbatim – according to your theory?

Joseph's dream in Mt 1 – Mary memorized that, word for word?
And Joseph's dream in Mt 2:13 – Mary memorized that, word for word?
And Jospeh's dream in Mt. 2:20-- Mary memorized that, word for word?
And the Magis' traveling question, in Mt 2:2 – Mary memorized that, word for word?
And the chief priest's chat with them Mt 2 – – Mary memorized that, word for word?

How did that work? You think Mary memorized all the conversations of everyone she ever met? Or just the conversations Mt would need decades later to move his plot along?

Please, what is your list?

# 4 How about Jewish tradition? Mt was a Jew, right? And didn't the Jews have a long tradition of making up stories and quotations? One thinks of Genesis and God and Adam and Eve chatting. How could the author possibly know, verbatim, what God said to Adam? He couldn't. He must have made it up.

Jews had a long tradition of making up stories. And it surprises you Mt made stuff up? Why?

Bino Bolumai

/ In Bino Veritas /

Steve,

"In that sense Mt's "quotations" are certainly not true."

They are true in the sense that they contain Jesus' teachings, whether word for word or not. You have yet to prove that because they may or may not be word for word that they are not true accurate accounts of his teaching.

The G of Mt is not verbatim history. Therefore it must be "history" as Mt imagined it. It therefore depends entirely on Matthew's opinion, speculation, imagination and theology.

The G of Mt is a theological treatise that accurately reflects the theology of "Matthew." Of course it imagines Jesus as divine – that's the only sort of theology worth writing down.

Bino Bolumai

/ In Bino Veritas /

Bino,

I don't mean this in a mean way, but...are you trying to be convincing or are you just trying to state what you believe? It seems to me that no matter how much evidence is presented to you, you just keep stating what you believe.

Instead of letting Matthew be Matthew, you've decided to impose an anachronistic, literalistic reading on the text. The only thing you've proved is that you're deeply committed to a post modern hermeneutic. This is the difference between asking, "What does Matthew mean?" and "What does Matthew mean according to me?"

This reading, of course, is due to a set of presuppositions. Namely, the rejection of the existence of God and therefore the rejection of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. No inspiration means no metanarritive which means Matthew means whatever you want him to mean. So when Matthew quotes Jesus it clearly (to you) indicates that Matthew is meaning to quote what Jesus said verbatim. Matthew can't possibly do that since it's physically impossible (again to you) and there's no God to help him remember what Jesus said, therefore he made it up. Therefore, the Bible is not reliable.

Like I said, it's not about evidence. If it was, you would deal with large about evidence that has been provided (and most convincingly by Jason). This discussion is about presuppositions. And because you're committed to yours, the evidence doesn't seem to mean that much to you.

Nathaniel

This reading, of course, is due to a set of presuppositions. Namely, the rejection of the existence of God and therefore the rejection of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. No inspiration means no metanarritive which means Matthew means whatever you want him to mean. So when Matthew quotes Jesus it clearly (to you) indicates that Matthew is meaning to quote what Jesus said verbatim. Matthew can't possibly do that since it's physically impossible (again to you) and there's no God to help him remember what Jesus said, therefore he made it up. Therefore, the Bible is not reliable.

No, you misunderstand. Whether or not Mt intended people to believe his quotes were verbatim is not relevant to the analysis. What decides the question is whether Mt's quotes were in fact verbatim.

Either

a. Mt does quote people – not Jesus, people – verbatim,

OR

b. Mt has created the dialogue himself. I don't mean Mt is a liar, or a cheater, or anything other than as honest as a person can be. But if he reports other than the actual verbatim facts then he is necessarily picking and choosing – inventing – facts and dialogue. He's telling the story as he understands it.

Case _a_ is the only one that preserves gospel "reliability" – in the sense that it was used in the video that started the discussion. If Mt is merely passing along facts then Mt is a conduit not an interpreter, and the facts speak for themselves.

As to case _b_ , it could be Mt somehow has improbable access to all this detailed decades old information, but it could also be Mt is just making up the facts as well as the dialogue. Or something in between. The nature of Mt's interpretation of the facts depends on Mt himself.

In which case our own understanding of the Jesus stories must be tempered by our recognition of selection bias – the people who think it's worth writing down and saving stories about Jesus – or Joseph Smith, or Bahaullah, or Buddha, or Mohammed, etc., are the people who imagine the godman to be…a godman. Of course the Gospel of Mt says Jesus did miracles – that's exactly the sort of story that gets preserved.


Namely, the rejection of the existence of God and therefore the rejection of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

You are mistaken. It may be God beamed the scripture straight into Mt's brain. I observe

1. The fact that magic seems to be the apologists' only way to preserve the reliability of the old myth indicates that facts and evidence are not enough. Mere facts and evidence fail. The facts force the conclusion that myths are not true – unless it all happened by magic.

You assert, in effect, the earth is flat because the bible says so. Fine. I'm not after agreement, I'm after clarity. We've identified the point at which our theories diverge.

2. Then the gospels are not reliable in the sense intended in the video.

3. Then the gospels are not evidence of Jesus or God or salvation – because the "evidence" of those things is convincing only if the things are already imagined to exist.

4. The same analysis applies to Zeus and Buddha and Joseph Smith. We don't believe in them only because we insist on facts and evidence, and not our pre-formed conclusion that they are true.


Like I said, it's not about evidence. If it was, you would deal with large about evidence that has been provided (and most convincingly by Jason).

Jason has been bickering with Joe, not with me. Jason, like Steve, like you, has not answered simple questions about the sources of Mt's supposed "quotations," or the implications that may be drawn from them.

Bino Bolumai

/ In Bino Veritas >

Words are a convention by which we communicate. I can step outside and note that it is a dreary day. My wife can step out and say that it is a grey day, my daughter can step out and say it is an overcast day. There are a hundred different ways to describe the same reality. This carries over into paraphrasing too and it is why a paraphrase can be an accurate depiction of what was said. If the weatherman says "it is going to be clear today with a high of 85 degrees, humidity of 13% and winds out of the east-northeast of 4mph," I can accurately paraphrase that as, "the weather man said it was going to be warm today." I am not pretending to give an exhaustive word for word regurgitation of everything he said. The paraphrase was an accurate and reliable account of what the weatherman said. It would be absurd for someone to claim that my paraphrase depended entirely on my opinion, speculation, and imagination.
If I may intrude on your conversation with Steve, when you say “that’s humanly impossible” you are assuming two things:
1. You keep referring to the sit-com thing, but clearly, that is not required. Matthew’s account of Herod’s conversation with the wise men amounts to this, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” That is nothing close to the length of a 30-minute sit-com script.
2. You keep insisting that it is verbatim, but you have been repeatedly corrected on that matter. So even if these quotations were equivalent to a 30 min sit-com (which obviously they are not) it doesn’t matter since they were not necessarily intended to be verbatim quotations.

>>1. The fact that magic seems to be the apologists' only way to preserve the reliability of the old myth indicates that facts and evidence are not enough. Mere facts and evidence fail.

This is a very curious way of arguing: "If the writers of the Gospels could not write the Gospels accurately on their own in a world without God, then that proves they did not write them accurately through inspiration in a world with God." Can you see the problem here? If there is no God, then they're already simply declared inaccurate by definition. Of course they're false if the atheist view is correct! Who argues with that? But you can't use the atheist worldview to prove they're false in the theist worldview. If your atheist worldview turns out to be correct (1), then what you're saying follows (2). But you have to start by proving the atheist worldview correct. You can't start with the second to prove the first because your argument (that the Gospels could not be written accurately in a world without God) depends on the first (i.e., this is a world without God). That would be circular.

It's not "resorting to magic" to include inspiration in the explanation of the Gospels, it's taking into account the full implications of possibilities in a theist worldview on which all of Christianity rests.

Beyond that, I do have to say that this is one of the weakest arguments I've seen against the Gospels. As people have told you many times, there was no expectation of verbatim reporting, hence they weren't lying, no matter how many times you say otherwise. Further, if the resurrection is true, if Christ is who He said He is, if God exists, there's nothing illegitimate in saying that the Gospels are inspired and therefore accurate, even if they're not word for word. (And I'm not counting out the possibility that they are. God certainly could have inspired people that way if He wished to.) Nathaniel is exactly right that this all hinges on presuppositions.

Brett

it doesn’t matter since they were not necessarily intended to be verbatim quotations.

As I explained to Nathaniel, intention is not relevant to the analysis. What is relevant is whether or not they were in fact verbatim.

-- post to Nathaniel included here by reference –

Bino

Unlike 1st century Greek, we do have a language convention for indicating exact words – quotation marks.
Actual words from Bob: It will be 98 degrees today.
What follows is a series of statements with my comments in parenthesis.
1) Bill said, “It will be 98 degrees today.” (this is a perfect verbatim quotation)
2) Bill said “It will be hot today.” (since quotation marks are used, then this statement is false.)
3) Bill said, “It will be 36.667 degrees Celsius today.” (While even the minutia of the temperature details are kept, this is still false since we are indicating by use of the quotations that we are aiming for verbal accuracy.)
4) Bill said it will be 98 degrees today. (While this is verbatim what Bill said, it need not be taken as verbatim since quotations were not used.)
5) Bill said it will be hot today. (since the focus is not verbal accuracy but concept accuracy, this is a fine paraphrase.)
6) Bill said it will be 36.667 degrees Celsius today. (This is an even more precise way of communicating the concept that Bill articulated. Since there are no quotation marks the statement is fine.)
First century writers were more interested in the accurately representing the concept or notion rather than the words (which are only a medium for the concept). In fact they had no convention for a verbatim quotation. So it doesn’t matter whether Herod said, “Go and search diligently,” or, “Go and search carefully,” or “Go and search thoroughly.” It is the concept of a careful search that they were interested in.

Brett

First century writers were more interested in the accurately representing the concept or notion rather than the words (which are only a medium for the concept). …. It is the concept of a careful search that they were interested in.

The first sentence is exactly correct. Ancient writers started with the concept and invented dialogue consistent with that concept.

The last sentence is the problem. Ancient writers didn't invent only dialogue. They invented entire myths.

Your statement assumes that Mt's concept of what happened was correct. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe Mt's concept wasn't about Herod's at all. Maybe Mt's concept was that the god Jesus must have had a divine birth. Maybe Mt constructed a narrative around that concept. That would, after all, be entirely consistent with ancient thought. Alexander had a divine birth. Apollonius of T had a divine birth. Augustus had a divine birth. Jesus had a divine birth. He must have – He was a god. So that's how Mt wrote his story – inventing Herod's careful search was part of the myth he spun to represent his notion of what his godman was.

If the quotations are not in fact verbatim, then the quotations are ultimately Mt's creation, and they derive from Mt's theology.

Bino Bolumai

/ In Bino Veritas /


Amy

Nathaniel is exactly right that this all hinges on presuppositions.

No Amy, it does not.

Suppose I said the Earth is round – and I know this because I once took a ship east to west and ended up back at the same town I left. Also because of Foucault pendulums. And Space ship video. And photos from the moon. And the different seasons. Etc etc.

Bino's conclusion is that the evidence the observable facts – lead to the conclusion …the Earth is Round.

In reaching this conclusion, I don't need to suppose there is or is not a god. I just need to follow the evidence where it leads.

Suppose Steve wished to argue the world was in fact flat. And his reason was, the conclusions that may be drawn from the facts don't matter -- God Could Have Made The World Flat If He Wanted. And the only reason Bino doesn't believe the world is flat is, Bino's presupposition that God doesn't exist.

Well then Steve would be wrong. The reason Bino doesn't believe the world is flat is … the observable facts lead inevitably to the opposite conclusion.

-----

I assert that gospel reliability wise, the observable facts lead inescapably to the conclusion the gospels are not reliable. Steve, and Brett – and you – fail to refute the observable facts or the conclusions that must be drawn from them. You assert only that the Earth is Flat, because God Could Do It That Way If He Wanted.


As people have told you many times, there was no expectation of verbatim reporting, hence they weren't lying, no matter how many times you say otherwise.

Amy I've spent the day say, and re-saying, and re-re-re-saying intention is not relevant to the analysis. What is relevant is whether or not they were in fact verbatim.

I would be interested in your analysis what conclusions flow from the observable facts.

Bino Bolumai

/ In Bino Veritas /



"If the quotations are not in fact verbatim, then the quotations are ultimately Mt's creation, and they derive from Mt's theology."
Did you read what I wrote? I addressed that very notion. Let's start with a concrete example. At 11:00 am today Phoenix, Arizona was at 76 deg F. We may express this truth in several different ways. Bill could say "Phoenix, Arizona was 76 degrees Fahrenheit." Sam, writing to an audience which does not use the Fahrenheit scale could say, "Bill said Phoenix, Arizona was 24.444 degrees Celsius."
If Sam's intention was not to preserve Bill's words (which is indicated by quotation marks) but rather the truth of what Bill said, then Sam did a good job. In no way was Sam's statement entirely his opinion, speculation, imagination or derived from his theology. He obviously chose which words he would use to communicate that truth, but in no way whatsoever was the temperature of Phoenix entirely Sam's imagination.

>>Suppose Steve wished to argue the world was in fact flat. And his reason was, the conclusions that may be drawn from the facts don't matter

You're not understanding. Your argument draws conclusions from premises that necessarily depend on God not existing. You cannot prove that the Gospels are inaccurate the way you're trying to prove it. What would you base it on? On your hunch that people of that time couldn't accurately report what happened at an event, therefore they didn't? On your belief that a person's writing cannot be inspired by God, therefore it wasn't? People have already addressed the first, and the second depends on the existence of God and the truthfulness of Christianity. Even if the first fails, that doesn't discount the second. And since you don't know if the Gospels actually do match what happened (because you can't go back to see) you can't assume they don't merely because you think they couldn't have been inspired. How do you know that? How does thinking that a person can't record events accurately on his own prove they're not inspired?

Even if I were to grant that you can't write an accurate account of something that happened on your own (which I'm not, considering all the good reasons explained above by others), your argument is like saying, "Miracles can't happen because nature doesn't work that way." Well, nobody claimed nature worked that way! You can't prove a living, acting being didn't change the course of events simply because "nature doesn't work that way." We're not saying this is the normal course of events, we're saying someone intervened. In the same way, even if it were the case that someone on his own could not have accurately retold the events, that doesn't prove they weren't inspired. You'd have to go about proving that some other way (i.e., by showing where they're demonstrably false, not where you're guessing they are). You can't just assume it.

Brett,

He obviously chose which words he would use to communicate that truth, but in no way whatsoever was the temperature of Phoenix entirely Sam's imagination.

Yes, yes I agree it is entirely possible for someone to invent dialogue in a way that more or less accurately reflects real speech.

It is also possible for someone to invent dialogue that has no connection whatsoever to any real speech.

Because they are not in fact verbatim, Mt's "quotations" necessarily derive to some degree—maybe a little, maybe a lot – from Mt's personal understanding and interpretation of the facts. The question becomes: Do Mt's invented quotations have some relation to real speech, or was Mt inventing dialogue with no connection to real speech.

Bino Bolumai

/ In Bino Veritas /

>>The question becomes: Do Mt's invented quotations have some relation to real speech, or was Mt inventing dialogue with no connection to real speech.

This is why your argument is meaningless. It does nothing whatsoever to address this question, and this is the only question that matters. It proves nothing either way.

>>Because they are not in fact verbatim, Mt's "quotations" necessarily derive to some degree—maybe a little, maybe a lot – from Mt's personal understanding and interpretation of the facts.

Or it reflects precisely what God wanted it to reflect, through His inspiration working through John's personality. Again, this is why your argument does no work.

"President Barack Obama said limiting pay for top executives at firms that got the most government aid strikes a balance between the interests of taxpayers and restoring stability to the financial system. . . .The president said the independent rulings by Kenneth Feinberg, Obama’s special master on executive compensation, are 'an important step forward in curbing the influence of executive compensation on Wall Street while still allowing these companies to succeed and prosper.'"
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=adOhQZhBI8uQ
By Julianna Goldman and Kate Andersen Brower

Someone needs to call the editor and tell him that these writers are guilty of fabricating a story since this is entirely their opinion, speculation, imagination, derived from their theology. I fear that Julianna and Kate are jeopardizing their jobs.

These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.

1 And he said, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death."

2 Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]"

3 Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is within you and it is outside you.

When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."

4 Jesus said, "The person old in days won't hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, and that person will live.

Gospel of Thomas

I might be that one person we don't need to criticize for 'making stuff up' is Bino.

Here is a direct quote from his first post (and, no, I'm not quoting from memory):


I have in mind how often our gospels' writers "quote" other people. Besides Jesus' the gospels also record words of the disciples, Herod, angels, demons, Satan, tax collectors, and crowds of people all saying the same words all together. The gospels even record long speeches spoken in dreams, and verbatim accounts of inner thoughts that were never spoken, but that Jesus knew because He could read minds.

Here's our historical reliability question : How'd they do that? How did the gospel writers know, all those decades later, exactly—word for word—what the angel said in Joseph's dream, or Herod said in his secret meeting, or the Pharisees thought in their private thoughts but never spoke? What possible method could our gospel writers have used to come up with the verbatim quotations they claim to give?

Or did the gospel writers get all those "quotations" by just making them up? Is it more likely that "Matthew" knew the words Herod spoke in a secret meeting, or did "Matthew" probably, like everyone else back then, just make up quotes because that was the standard way to tell a story?

And if the only reasonable non-magical explanation is that the gospel writers got their "quotations" by making them up, then .... our gospel writers made stuff up. Just made it up. And it is not true the gospels are historical, not in the sense that the sayings and events we read about in them actually happened.

Bino has been pushing this argument all over the blogosphere in pretty much these exact words. There are some variations from post to post. Still, had I read every entry like this he posted, I'd have it by heart.

Bino has posted these words as his own.

I am not saying that they are not.

Here is a quote from a site called "Pagan Origins of the Christian Myth":


The thing you maybe haven't noticed, probably haven't noticed unless someone suggested you do the exercise, is how often our gospels' writers "quote" other people. Besides Jesuses's the gospels also record words of the disciples, Herod, angels, demons, satan, tax collectors, and crowds of people all saying the same words all together. The gospels even record long speeches spoken in dreams, and verbatim accounts of inner thoughts that were never spoken, but that Jesus knew because He could read minds.

Here's our historical accuracy question: How'd they do that? How did the gospel writers know, all those decades later, exactly—word for word—what the angel said in Joseph's dream, or Herod said in his secret meeting, or the Pharisees thought in their private thoughts but never spoke? What possible method could our gospel writers have used to come up with the verbatim quotations they claim to give?

Or did the gospel writers get all those "quotations" by just making them up? Is it more likely that "Matthew" knew the words Herod spoke in a secret meeting, or did "Matthew" probably, like everyone else back then, just make up quotes because that was the standard way to tell a story?

And if the only reasonable non-magical explanation is that the gospel writers got their "quotations" by making them up, then .... our gospel writers made stuff up. Just made it up. And it is not true the gospels are historical, not in the sense that the sayings and events we read about in them actually happened.
(Source)


Here are some additional facts:
  • The proprietor of the web site gives his name as Greg Kane.
  • A Google search of the site turned up no hits for "Bino" or "Bolumai"
  • It is possible that Bino and Greg Kane are the same person.
  • Greg Kane has already given his name on a public web page.
  • If Bino and Greg are the same person, he is now using a pseudonym.
  • In light of the use of his name on a public web site, I can't think of a good reason for Mr. Kane to use a pseudonym to spread his own words.
  • If Bino had included a link back to Mr. Kane's site. That would increase its traffic, thereby aggrandizing (and possibly enriching) Mr. Kane.
  • If Mr. Kane and Bino are the same person, this would also aggrandize (and possibly enrich) enrich Bino.
  • The entry cited above on Mr. Kane's site was posted in May of this year (see here...as I write this, the link to notice is the second entry in his change log).
  • My Google search for the words in the quote above found Bino first using the quote in September.

It is, of course, possible that Bino read these words once (without remembering where he read them or even that he had read them) and repeated them verbatim from memory.

Interestingly. Mr. Kane included this qualification:


As we'll see, Plato, Herodotus, Livy, Diodorus, Philostratus and all those other ancient fellows knew the words they "quoted" were not the actual words spoken. So when they made up quotes, weren't they lying? No, they weren't.

The ancients didn't have cameras either. But that doesn't mean every ancient sculpture and every surviving ancient mosaic is a lie.

Because the ancients didn't have the technology for verbatim quotation, everybody understood that "quotations" were there for dramatic effect, or to move the plot along, or for some reason other than verbatim recording. The idea that a written quotation should be an exact record of the words spoken, that's a modern notion. The problem is not them, the problem is us.

Source
(See the side bar with the heading "By the Way")


Part of Mr. Kane's point is not to mount some stupid argument against Scripture (not that I think for a minute that he has a high view of Scripture), but to squash stupid views about Scripture.

Not to pile on, but this this quotation from Bino also appears in the web site I noted above:


According to Mt. 5 – 8 Jesus sat down up on the mountain and spoke, in English translation, 2,400 words. He spoke them once, and "Matthew" wrote them down. Decades later. Verbatim.

Here's a test. Right now go read those 2,400 words. Then write them down exactly. Check your work. How'd you do?

What "Matthew" claims to do is not possible .

What "Matthew" claims to do is not possible. "Matthew" made these conversations up. "Matthew" made stuff up. The stuff we read in "Matthew" did not happen the way "Matthew" said it did. "Matthew" cannot be trusted. The New Testament is not historical, not in the sense that the sayings and events we read about there actually happened.


The web site even includes the mistake about the chapters of the Sermon on the mount.

To be fair, Bino may have a perfectly reasonable explanation for all this similarity between his un-sourced comments here and the content of a, seemingly independent, web site.

Aw man!
I've been trying to reason with a ditto machine? Where's my wax paper?

Oh dang! I botched the link in the first post on the source of Bino's argument. I should have linked this page as the source for the long quote in that post. Sorry about the confusion.

According to Wikipedia (and, yes, I know that it is not the gold standard, but it works here), “Begging the question (or petitio principii, "assuming the initial point") is a logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in the premise.”

To be clear, an easy example of question begging is, “God exists because the Bible says God exists and the Bible was written by God.” This argument assumes the very thing that it sets out to demonstrate.

In a similar manner (and I am fully aware that I am paraphrasing here), Bino’s argument sums up to the following:

1. The Gospels are not reliable.
2. I am absolutely certain that Matthew’s quotations are not reliable.
3. Therefore, the Gospels are not reliable.

You assume the very thing that we are trying to determine, which is question begging.

There is also another significant problem with Bino’s argument. That is, the problem of equivocation of the word “reliable.” It appears that Bino means “exact”, in the since that a document can only be “reliable” if it is the exact transcript of the given speech. So, by this definition, perhaps one can reference President Obama’s inauguration speech in 2000 years if and only if it can be demonstrated that they possess the exact transcripts of the speech as shown through a clear chain of custody and probably further verified through audio and video evidence to corroborate the claim of reliability. Otherwise, if these conditions are not satisfied, then we must presume that any reference to President Obama’s speech is not reliable and “made up.”

If I am accurately summing up Bino’s definition of “reliable” (I truly am trying to avoid a Straw Man Fallacy here), then I cannot think of many things in this world that we can trust as reliable. We absolutely cannot trust anything we know about antiquity and we can trust very little about what we know about our present age, too (try applying this definition to your knowledge of just about anything you hold to be true. I could be wrong here, but my initial thought is that one could not even reliably know who his father is based on this definition of reliability).

Conversely, most Christians hold to the traditional definition of “reliable” when discussing the reliability of their Scripture. Princeton’s online WordNet offers a pretty traditional definition:

• worthy of reliance or trust; "a reliable source of information"; "a dependable worker"
• authentic: conforming to fact and therefore worthy of belief; "an authentic account by an eyewitness"; "reliable information"
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

So, when Christians claim that their Scriptures are reliable, they are stating that it is a reliable source of authentic historical accounts from eyewitnesses or other trustworthy sources. For example, compare Matthew 16:13-19 and Luke 9:18-22.

Matthew 16:13-19 (English Standard Version)
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Luke 9:18-22 (English Standard Version)
18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" 19And they answered, "John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen." 20Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered, "The Christ of God."
21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."

Both authors are talking about the same conversation, but they do not communicate it the exact same way. Does that mean that they are “making it up”? Does that mean that the conversation never took place? Does that mean that the Bible cannot be trusted? Surely not, and that is not what Christians mean when the say that these passages are reliable. They simply mean that there was a conversation between Jesus and his disciples regarding who people thought Jesus was. The story is corroborated by multiple authors (Matthew and Luke in this case; one an eyewitness and another a seemingly trustworthy individual who states that he researched what he wrote because he was not an eyewitness) and that there is nothing contradictory in the two narratives of the event. In fact, the two narratives actually complement each other to provide a more robust understanding of the event. Neither event was to be an exhaustive, scientific (step-by-step), word-for-word transcript of the event. In fact, John makes it pretty clear in John 21:25 that there were many other things that Jesus did that were not recorded because, “[w]ere every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

This does not, however, address the truthfulness of the information or the assertions made throughout the text. Whether or not Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (referenced above in Matthew 16 and Luke 9), needs to be evaluated itself separately. One needs to review the evidence oneself to answer Christ’s question, “Who do you say that I am?” But I do not see how one can argue that Christ did not ask the question. That is, based on an honest review of the supporting archeological evidence, historical evidence, and textual criticism, the Scriptures are in fact reliable sources of historical information (you can trust that the people are who they say they are and are reporting accurate summaries of conversations that actually took place). I admit that I have not demonstrated the archeological evidence, historical evidence, or textual criticism arguments here, so I hope that one who has a genuine interest in honestly pursuing the truth in this subject will review the extensive scholarly books regarding this subject rather than placing their blind faith in themselves or the ability of a common man to persuade them otherwise in a blog.

For those who are truly seeking for the truth, Happy Hunting!

Shaun-

You've summed up very well what many people have been saying in this thread. And you are quite right about your second point as well. It's one thing to say that the NT is an accurate record of what Jesus and the disciples claimed and taught, and it is another thing to ask whether those claims and teachings are true.

But you should direct your argument against Greg Kane rather than Bino. It appears that Bino's arguments are little more than long unattributed verbatim quotes from Greg's web site. I suspect, though of course I could be wrong, that this is why he was never able to adapt and respond to attack but quickly just started repeating himself.

Unfortunately, his tactic had the affect he was probably going for. People spent days lavishing attention on him when it seems that he was not dealing fairly. So this thread never got around to discussing your second highly important point: are the claims and teachings, accurately represented in the NT, true?


There is also another significant problem with Bino’s argument. That is, the problem of equivocation of the word “reliable.” It appears that Bino means “exact”, in the since that a document can only be “reliable” if it is the exact transcript of the given speech.

Define \"reliable\" however you want. But follow the evidence where it leads.

The fact is Mt claims to give verbatim quotations – and those claims are certainly false. Mt says things that are not true.

Therefore the question about Mt is not whether he says stuff that is not true, but how much of what he says is not true.


Both authors are talking about the same conversation, but they do not communicate it the exact same way. Does that mean that they are “making it up”? …..

They simply mean that there was a conversation between Jesus and his disciples regarding who people thought Jesus was.

Pure speculation on your part. It may as well be the whole story is made up.

Bino Bolumai

/ In Bino Veritas /



I recently got a reply back from a query to Greg Kane. Bino is definitely unknown to him. Greg seemed happy to have someone notice his work. Greg views the site as a hobby, not as an income source. But that doesn't make Bino's actions OK or anything less than out and out plagiarism.

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