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February 02, 2011

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They are each independent sources supporting one another.

Independent? What establishes that they are independent?

RonH

Why do you ask, RonH?
Do you have some reason to think Craig is just asking this up, or do you really want to look at evidence and deal with arguments?

In case you want to consider Craig's points, here's the first link that came up when I Googled "Will Craig Gospels Independent":
http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7047

Ron, you must have skimmed the post. It says why they are independant.

"You need to keep in mind that originally there wasn’t any such book called “The New Testament.” There were just these separate documents handed down from the first century, things like the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of John, the Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, Greece, and so on. It wasn’t until a couple centuries later that the church officially collected all these documents under one cover, which came to be known as the New Testament."

But more importantly, skeptics like Ron will never accept a document they cannot read (such as the source material Mark or the others used, "Q" for example is not extant). They have a hard enough time accepting the Gospel accounts we have were written early.

John drops the other shoe.

Just to add another point about not wanting to accept the Canonical books as accurate because they were written by "true believers"/Christians, Jim Wallace at Please Convince Me makes an excellent point when he points out that the writers converted to Christianity and then wrote about the experiences that caused that conversion. Dismissing them as unreliable because they believed what they experienced would be like dismissing the testimony of an assault victim because they were "personally involved" and actually believed what they experienced to be true.

"They are each independent sources supporting one another."

haha, this is so wrong that we are forced to conclude that the author is lying. Look in to the synoptic problem.

This is only a problem for what the theologian, Bryan Cross, calls 'Ecclesial Deism'.
http://tinyurl.com/pq65xw

"...So when the Mormons claimed that a great apostasy had overcome the Church by the time of the death of the last Apostle, I had no ground to stand on by which to refute that claim. The Mormons believed that the true gospel was recovered in the early nineteenth century by Joseph Smith. I believed, as a Reformed Protestant, that the true gospel was recovered in the early sixteenth century by Martin Luther. But we both agreed (to my frustration) that the early Church fathers and the councils were suspect and not authoritative in their own right. Over the course of our meetings with the Mormon missionaries that summer I realized that, with respect to our treatment of the early Church fathers and ecumenical councils, there was no principled difference between myself and the two young Mormon missionaries sitting in my living room....

How does [Albert] Mohler deal with this dilemma? He adopts a pick-and-choose approach. This approach attempts to avoid the dilemma raised above by methodologically, though not explicitly, counting as ‘traditional’ [as in "traditional Christian orthodoxy"] only whatever the Church said and did that agrees with or is at least compatible with one’s own interpretation of Scripture. ‘Tradition’ becomes whatever one agrees with in the history of the Church, such as the Nicene Creed or Chalcedonian Christology...."

Boz and Major,

Even if the synoptic gospels aren't independent, we have the gospel of John as well. That's at least two independent sources. Also, what reason do you have to think that the synoptics are not independent? Her reasons that they are seem to be that they were written by different authors and circulated separately. Can you refute these?

I think there is a misunderstanding going on here regarding the claim of independence for the synoptics. William Lane Craig addresses this during one of his debates, noting that each of the synoptics has material that the others don't have, and that material is independent. Obviously, the synoptics are not independent of each other, but each contains independent material.

So, we have Mark as a source for Matthew and Luke, but Matthew and Luke each have other sources as well. Perhaps there was a Q document which served as a source for all three. Then there's John.

I'll see if I can find a link to Craig's debate. Sorry I can't provide it at this time.

Hi Bruce,
He actually covers this in the link in the OP.

For further independent testimony to Jesus’ burial by Joseph is also found in the sources behind Matthew and Luke and the Gospel of John, not to mention the extra-biblical Gospel of Peter. The differences between Mark’s account and those of Matthew and Luke suggest that the latter had sources other than Mark alone. These differences are not plausibly explained as Matthew and Luke’s editorial changes of Mark because of their sporadic and uneven nature, the inexplicable omission of events like Pilate’s interrogation of the centurion, and the agreements in wording between Mathew and Luke in contrast to Mark. Moreover, we have another independent source for the burial in John’s Gospel. Finally we have the early apostolic sermons in the book of Acts, which are probably not wholly Luke’s creation but preserve the early preaching of the apostles. These also make mention of Jesus’ interment in a tomb. Thus, we have the remarkable number of at least four and perhaps more independent sources for Jesus’ burial, some of which are extraordinarily early.

I would appreciate it if those who have a different take on things would explain what, exactly, that take is and why they find it compelling, rather than just dropping drive-by accusations of lying.

I think Bruce Byrne's comment clarifies the original post, but without that comment, in light of the Q issue, the original post is misleading at best. Please be a little more careful next time.

Sorry for the gap. I had no intention of doing a drive-by.

One level of independence would be: you can verify that your witnesses have not communicated with each other between the time of the event (whatever it is) and the time they testify.

A lower level of independence would be: the witnesses can be interviewed and they tell you they have not communicated. Or, maybe you have some other reason to think they have not communicated.

A lower level of independence would be: you know the witnesses have communicated but you can interview them and attempt to tease out some value.

We are now getting low on the independence scale but we have not got down to the level of the gospels yet. This is because, so far we have been talking about situations where we have the witnesses or at least know who the witnesses are and have some reason to think they are independent.

RonH


Anyone who cares about evidence and attends to the argument knows there is some reason to think the accounts are independent.

As above:
http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=7047

I have attended from the beginning.

In the corner pub, I tell a story to two hundred of my closest friends. A hundred and fifty of them like the story so much that they each write their moms and include their own retelling of my story. Some mention hearing the story from someone else. Others don't. Some use some of my phrases word for word. Some 'remember' parts of the story that I never told. Some conflate it with a similar story they heard from someone else.

How many independent sources for a given event in my story exist?

(Hint: did I even say whether the story is true?)

RonH

RonH, what does a hypothetical, possible lie to 150 people have to do with several independent sources attesting to the burial of Jesus?

Are you trying to illustrate that you believe there was only 1 witness (which I suspect you would not believe) and that this 1 witness (probably a liar in your opinion) told everyone about an event that didn't happen?

NCDave,

No. I'm just pointing out that there are two meanings of source floating around here - one from textual criticism and one from history - and that inferring the existence of a source text through textual analysis does not, by itself, make that inferred source text a historical source.

RonH


And that is how RonH, who has never found a persuasive apologetic argument, deals with evidence.

Well, I guess it makes it historical in some sense or other of 'historical', but it doesn't make it 'attestation'.

To call it 'attestation' is a historical interpretation that doesn't come immediately out of textual analysis.

Hi Daron,

Can we agree that textual critics and historians mean two different things by 'source'?

RonH


Hi RonH,
No, I can't make any such pledge.

More importantly, though, I'd be agreeable to the proposition that you really aren't interested in any evidence or arguments as to the validity of Christian belief but, rather, will seek any way to dismiss, deny and gainsay and such claims.
Agreed?

Hi Daron,

In the article you linked, what do you think Craig means by independent source?

RonH

Hi Daron,

Craig counts 5 independent sources for the burial of Jesus. What reasons does he have or give for considering them independent?

RonH

Hi RonH,
What does Craig mean by "independent source"? That they are not dependent upon one another. That they are different sources.

His reasons, in brief, directly from that article:

Source #1:
The burial account is part of Mark's source material for the story of Jesus' Passion. This is a very early source which is probably based on eyewitness testimony and dates to within several years of Jesus' crucifixion.
...
Whereas most of Mark's Gospel consists of short anecdotal stories strung like pearls on a string, when we get to the final week of Jesus' life we encounter a continuous narrative of events from the Jewish plot during the Feast of Unleavened Bread through Jesus' burial and empty tomb. The events of the Last Supper, arrest, execution, burial, and empty tomb were central to the identity of early Christian communities. According to James D. G. Dunn, "The most obvious explanation of this feature is that the framework was early on fixed within the tradition process and remained so throughout the transition to written Gospels. This suggests in turn a tradition rooted in the memory of the participants and put into that framework by them" (J. D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 2003, pp. 765-6.) The dominant view among NT scholars is therefore that the Passion narratives are early and based on eyewitness testimony (Mark Allen Powell, JAAR 68 [2000]: 171). Indeed, according to Richard Bauckham, many scholars date Mark's Passion narrative no later than the 40s (recall that Jesus died in A.D. 30) (Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, 2006, p. 243). So we're dealing here with an extraordinarily early source.

#2:
Moreover, Paul in his first letter to the church of Corinth also cites an extremely early source for Jesus' burial which most scholars date to within a few years or even months of the crucifixion.
...
Finally, the old tradition handed on by Paul to the Corinthian church, which is among the earliest traditions identifiable in the NT, refers to Jesus' burial in the second line of the tradition. That this is the same event as the burial described in the Gospels becomes evident by comparing Paul's tradition with the Passion narratives on the one hand and the sermons in the Acts of the Apostles on the other. The four-line tradition handed on by Paul is a summary of the central events of Jesus' crucifixion, burial by Joseph of Arimathea, the discovery of his empty tomb, and his appearances to the disciples.

#3 and #4
But the differences between Mark and the other Synoptics point to other independent sources behind Matthew and Luke. These differences are not plausibly explained as due to editorial changes introduced by Matthew and Luke because of (i) their sporadic and uneven nature (e.g., Mark: "tomb which had been hewn out of rock"; Matthew: "tomb which he hewed in the rock"; (ii) the inexplicable omission of events like Pilate's interrogating the centurion; and (iii) Matthew and Luke's agreeing in their wording in contrast to Mark (e.g., Matt. 27.58 = Lk. 23.52 "This man went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus." Also the phrase translated "wrapped it in linen" is identical in Matthew and Luke. How could Matthew and Luke have independently chosen exactly the same wording in contrast to Mark? They both probably had another source. Indeed, as we'll see when we get to the empty tomb account, differences between Matthew and Luke emerge that suggest multiple sources.

...
As for the other Gospels, that Matthew has an independent tradition of the empty tomb is evident not only from the non-Matthean vocabulary (e.g., the words translated "on the next day," "the preparation day," "deceiver," "guard [of soldiers]," "to make secure," "to seal"; the expression "on the third day" is also non-Matthean, for he everywhere else uses "after three days;" the expression "chief priests and Pharisees" never appears in Mark or Luke and is also unusual for Matthew), but also from Matt. 28.15: "this story has been spread among Jews till this day," indicative of a tradition history of disputes with Jewish non-Christians.

#5:
Moreover, John is generally believed to be independent of the Synoptic Gospels. As Paul Barnett points out, "Careful comparison of the texts of Mark and John indicate that neither of these Gospels is dependent on the other. Yet they have a number of incidents in common: For example, . . . the burial of Jesus in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea" (Jesus and the Logic of History, 1997, pp. 104-5).

...

Luke and John have the non-Markan story of Peter and another disciple inspecting the tomb, which, given John's independence of Luke, indicates a separate tradition behind the story. Moreover, we have already seen that John's independence of Mark shows that he has a separate source for the empty tomb.

But my point isn't to yet again read to and interpret for you throughout a long thread; it is to shine a light on you so you might take a look. Like you did, I ask that you give some thought to a little introspection.
You say you've been looking into this issue for six years, and that you've found it to have been a waste of your time. And yet here you are, constant as Eric's watch, gainsaying and challenging without doing any work or considering any arguments. It's funny, indeed, that in your six diligent years you've not investigated this point.
Why do you think this is, especially given your claim that you are unconvinced by any apologetic arguments and that this is the case because of your high standards of reason and evidence?

Take "Jesus was buried."

If Paul (or his inferred source) is older, then Paul is independent of Mark (or Mark's source). Simple.

But then, why is Mark independent of Paul?

RonH

Because he didn't get it from Paul.

You can ask all day why the sky is blue, RonH. It's not a very good way to get to the truth.

I hope this isn't a double post - my apologies if it is.

Perhaps you might actually read the accounts.
Paul:
http://carm.org/apologetics/evidence-and-answers/1-cor-153-4-demonstrates-creed-too-early-legend-corrupt

Mark:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+14&version=KJV

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+15&version=KJV


Does it really look to you like the second is derived from the first?

No, of course it doesn't. But that still isn't the issue. No amount of arguing and showing you evidence is going to change your mind, RonH. You've been posting for years and I'm sure you know you have not raised a single compelling challenge. And your every challenge has been answered to the satisfaction of countless people; just not to you. You say this is because you are a superior thinker. But an honest man would look at your posts and doubt that there is any particular reason to believe this. So what is really going on here? You should ask yourself that.

Now, of course, someone is going to rightly look at my comments and be concerned that I am not using this forum to debate only the facts, but that I am making this all about you and I'll be charged with ad hominem.
Indeed.
You are my concern here, not winning another argument or dashing from one end of the internet to the other for more links. The apolgetic arguments are one thing, and the reason behind them is another. I am arguing the case of RonH, not of the veracity of the Gospels. You've seen the arguments, the challenges, and the answers. And yet here you are, spinning your wheels some more, convincing and challenging nobody.
Why? As you said, I don't really need an answer - I just want you to think about it.
And pray.

God bless and keep you.

Daron

Does it really look to you like the second is derived from the first?

You mean: Does Mark look derived from Paul?

Well, the Mark does not look copied from the Paul. But that doesn't make them independent.

The point is: we can't trace the two versions all the way back to their first tellings to find out if they came from two persons who told their stories without consulting one another.

They say what Paul wrote is a creed. A creed is a summary. Well, maybe it's a summary of the Markan Passion.

The Mark has all of Paul's points:

* buried: 15:46
* raised on the 'third day': 16:6
* appeared to Cephas (Peter): 16:8
* then to the twelve (eleven): 16:14

It turns out that maybe the last two were not original to Mark. That would weaken the case for a connection. But it would not provide any positive evidence that the Mark and the Paul don't ultimately share a source.

What does serve as evidence for independence?

RonH

Paul didn't write it, he received it. Likely from the Apostles in Jerusalem after his conversion.

Well, maybe it's a summary of the Markan Passion.
So you've switched back, I see. You asked how we know, assuming Paul was independent of Mark, that Mark is independent of Paul. Not even knowing what kind of materials you are discussing you have, now that your wild guess has been countered, to flip back and put Paul as dependent upon Mark - as a summary, in fact.
But Paul's creed has that Christ died for our sins. This is not in Mark, thus, it comes from a different source. Mark does not say that Jesus was raised on the third day but on the first day of the week. This is, of course, the same day, but both traditions are memorizable pieces, so why would one memorable version be altered in this way when summed up?
In the parallel passage Mark has Jesus appearing to Mary first. But this is not a good apologetic and is not preserved in Paul's very early creed - his bypasses the women and gives primacy to the better witness, Cephas. Mark refers to the remaining Apostles by the precise number, 11, while Paul refers to them by their collective name, the Twelve. If his creed were a summation of Mark's Passion this change is inexplicable. Mark references, as well, the appearance on the Road to Emmaus, which Paul's so-called summation doesn't, and then Mark never even mentions a vision to Peter separate from the other Apostles; Paul could never have derived the appearance first to Peter and then to the others from Mark's account.
So although the accounts fit together and complement one another each has information that could not have been derived from the other. Thus, they are from independent sources.

So now, in your quest for real understanding, you've asked such ridiculous "oh yeah, prove it to me" questions as "what's a source?", "what's independent mean?" and even "what's evidence?"
Yep, you sure know how to evaluate evidence and arguments. As I said, you really need to evaluate your own heart.

Good luck with that.

I haven't guessed or switched - I have no grounds to make a guess or a switch.

I don't claim to know Mark and Paul are dependent so I need not defend any reason to believe that.

I don't say Paul's creed is summarizing Mark's source - I just say that they have overlapping contents indicating Paul might be summarizing Mark.

But Paul's creed has that Christ died for our sins. This is not in Mark, thus, it comes from a different source.

Not anywhere? Really? What is Mark's gospel then?

The nature of the stories really precludes establishing testimonial independence. The supposed witnesses and others spent time together between the time of the events and the writings. That is part of the stories man. It's a given. And it's a given that speaks against testimonial independence.

By itself, analyzing text can pretty firmly establish textual dependence (copying). Long passages that match word for word (or almost match) do that. Establishing textual independence by analyzing text is not normally going to work. I can rephrase, re-order, revise, and embellish any story to the point where you won't know if I read version A, read version B, or lived the events myself.

Analyzing text can reliably establish testimonial dependence wherever it establishes textual dependence: The content of what I copied from you is the content of what I copied! But establishing testimonial independence via textual analysis alone is harder even than establishing textual independence.


Hi RonH,
So here we are, once again.
You claim to be Mr. Evidence, Mr. I've Never Seen A Compelling Argument, and yet you haven't even read the shortest of the Gospels in your 6 years of "investigating" Christianity. You don't even have a principled reason for making the dependency suggestions you have thrown out here; you are merely conjecturing every which way (I'm not saying it is, I'm saying it might be"). Like all internet skeptics, you are merely casting about for any reason to disbelieve. What's puzzling is why you think this casting about is worth anybody's consideration or why you think your guesses are worth sharing with the rest of the world.
You could easily go sit on your rock and disbelieve, same yourself some time, and be no less shielded from the truth.

Not anywhere? Really? What is Mark's gospel then?
First, as has been pointed out (there are links above, you realize) the Passion narrative is distinct from the rest of the Gospel and is the portion discussed above as being something Mark has received. Second, no, not anywhere. There are two phrases in Mark's Gospel which, when knowing all the New Testament, one would say make this claim, but they are not the source of the Creedal phrase 'He died for our sins'. Mark's Gospel is a biographical narrative not a treatise on Jesus' teachings. It is a demonstration of who He was and why one should believe the teachings already received.
But establishing testimonial independence via textual analysis alone is harder even than establishing textual independence.
Then you should read up on the case and see how it is done and what the evidence for independence is.

Here's another one. Scroll up and down through pages 52-62 or so.
http://books.google.ca/books?id=1ngd8XtswdEC&pg=PA60&lpg=PA60&dq=mark+passion+independent+source&source=bl&ots=0zAlr6pqwQ&sig=6AnpRyO1MdPzB-vFUdgcR3TgDWc&hl=en&ei=Ia9UTZ70MYGdlgeim9S2Bw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAzgU#v=onepage&q=mark%20passion%20independent%20source&f=false


The nature of the stories really precludes establishing testimonial independence. The supposed witnesses and others spent time together between the time of the events and the writings. That is part of the stories man. It's a given. And it's a given that speaks against testimonial independence.
Not only do you not know Christianity, the Bible, or the apologetic arguments, you don't even know your own side's claims. If your argument held water then the skeptic would have no grounds to ask "where is the non-Canonical source?"
Even a non-Canonical source would rely on the witnessing of the event or discussion with witnesses. Aha! Then it is not independent - it is dependent upon the same event!
Nobody is denying that the sources we have come from people who were in Jerusalem at the time and saw what happened. There were 12 Apostles (one not yet named), their wives, the family of Jesus, thousands of followers and hundreds of witnesses to His appearances. Nobody is denying that the first tellers of the story believed it to be true (ask yourself why everyone we have is a believer. No, really ask yourself. It speaks volumes) or that they were acquainted with one another. The defence is against the charge that the Gospels were written many decades later (of course the skeptics' claim of 'late Gospels' used to mean hundreds of years later but this baseless reason for disbelief has long since been abandoned) and were merely distorted re-tellings of one tale and that legendary accretions had grown up. No, the sources go back to the time of the event (no later than a few years, and more likely right up to the date, in the case of Paul's Creed) and are not developments of one account, but different accounts formed and learned by different groups of people. Thus, the Truth was known by several groups right away in several communities and they were not passing around the same poem but were telling what happened as their own witnesses shared it.

Now imagine your scenario. A few guys make up a story and decide to go out and tell it to people for some reason. They would tell the story they sat around and made up. The elements they put in it would be considered key elements to make the point they wanted and would not likely carry superfluous claims. The collusion would show in the continuity of the story and the telling (for instance, they would tell you whether or not Thomas was present at the appearance, or who went to the Tomb, etc). They wouldn't put in ambiguities and differences that could cast doubt on their tale. On the other hand, men heading out to tell the same story that they all know to be true would not collude and would tell the same story in their own ways, each omitting or focusing on different aspects at different points. Think of the multiple ways witnesses will describe a car accident as compared to how the story would come out if they were colluding to frame one person.

"He died for our sins"?

Who came up with this not having heard it from another?

He would be an independent testimonial source.

If he heard it from another and re-worded it he is not testimonially independent.

So how do you know...

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

... is testimonially independent of...

Christ died for our sins

From whom did Paul receive his version?

How about (the author of) Mark?

RonH

Oops the question mark on the first line is a typo - and nothing else.

And I should have phrased it:

Someone who heard it from another and re-worded it - he is not testimonially independent but rather he is testimonially dependent on the one from whom he heard.

And will you join me here in a timeout: I congratulate the Egyptian people and encourage them to follow through with today's remarkable success by building a democracy. Sorry to go off topic. To paraphrase Joe Biden, this is a big deal.

"He died for our sins"?

Who came up with this not having heard it from another?
...
From whom did Paul receive his version?

The eyewitnesses to the life, death and appearances of Jesus; those being His disciples. Paul passed on what he received from them.

He would be an independent testimonial source.

If he heard it from another and re-worded it he is not testimonially independent.

His source is not dependent upon the source of the Markan Passion. If it were it would use the same wording, it would use the same order of events, it would focus on the same items, etc.

How about (the author of) Mark?
Nobody dates Mark before the Creed. Paul is independent of the Gospel of Mark and the Creed is as well. He did not get his belief from the book. Mark, of course, used a (likely) written tradition for his Passion account. This did not derive from the Creed, either, as it is much longer and has a myriad of details which are independent of the Creed. If Mark were the source, and not other eye-witnesses of a true-to-life event, then Mark would be supplying the language and information. The passers-on of the Creed would not determine on their own that Cephas had an encounter with Jesus, nor would they call the eleven the Twelve, contrary to how Mark refers to them, nor would they invent the appearance to James, or the 500, nor would they get from anywhere in Mark that Peter was called Cephas. He would have to have some reason for the above - an independent reason, as this information is not in Mark.


As for Egypt, I pray for them and wish them the best.

Woah Daron,

Me:

He would be an independent testimonial source.
If he heard it from another and re-worded it he is not testimonially independent.

You:

His source is not dependent upon the source of the Markan Passion. If it were it would use the same wording, it would use the same order of events, it would focus on the same items, etc.

First, the 'he' I referred to was not Paul (which is apparently what you thought). I referred to a hypothetical 'he' with direct involvement with the event in question and then, by contrast, I referred to a different hypothetical 'he' who paraphrase something he heard about it from another.

Second, (and I've said this several times in different ways apparently to no avail) identical wording can point reliably to a single textual source but different wording doesn't reliably point to different testimonial sources. Different wording can arise, for example, through different paraphrasing of the same testimony.

I'll say that one more time in one more different way: rewording hearsay doesn't create eyewitness testimony although it can create a new text (textual source). Consider my story about the pub.

RonH

Giddyup, RonH!

First, the 'he' I referred to was not Paul (which is apparently what you thought). I referred to a hypothetical 'he' with direct involvement with the event in question and then, by contrast, I referred to a different hypothetical 'he' who paraphrase something he heard about it from another.
Yeah, I got all your "he"s. You'll note that upon a closer reading and then you'll notice it makes no difference which "he" we have in sight; whether it be Paul or the source behind Paul.
Second, (and I've said this several times in different ways apparently to no avail) identical wording can point reliably to a single textual source but different wording doesn't reliably point to different testimonial sources
You sure have. And I've responded. We don't have a paraphrase - we have different information. We don't merely have missing information from one source to the other - we have extra information.
Once again ... I hope to some avail: we can't derive from the Markan source that Jesus appeared to Cephas before the Twelve as the Creed says; we can't derive Mark's testimony that the women were the first witnesses from the Creed; you wouldn't get Paul's reference to the Twelve if his only source were the Markan Passion; Paul wouldn't even know that Peter was also Cephas if he had no source outside of Mark; you can't get from the Passion that Jesus died for our sins; you can't even get Mark's "first day of the week" from the Creed without another source because the Creed does not give us the Crucifixion day (notice that knowledge of this is assumed) ... etc.

By the way, you asked what "evidence" means but seem to have never considered its definition since then. Evidence is a reason to believe, it is not necessarily iron-clad proof. I have provided reams of evidence. All you have to counter are guesses, might'ves and can-bes. But evidence does not cease to exist just because the counter proposition is logically possible.

You got my "he's". Huh. Hm. Ok. This is a strange form of communication.

[W]e can't derive from the Markan source that Jesus appeared to Cephas before the Twelve as the Creed says

Maybe Mark left that bit out. Maybe someone in his chain of sources going back left it out. Maybe someone added it to Paul's chain - like a different original story teller.

Problems with the evidence for the Resurrection.

1) The prior probability of a resurrection is extremely low. So your evidence can multiply that extremely low probability many many times and still leave the resurrection very very unlikely.

2) Your evidence doesn't have that multiplicative power. The trail is too cold for it to rule out all the alternative hypotheses which taken together, start with a much much higher collective probability.

There's no physical evidence. There's no documented chain of custody going back to the supposed eyewitnesses. Even if that chain of custody existed, eyewitnesses are not what they used to be thought to be. See "The Innocence Project".

Maybe Mark left that bit out.
Thus, Paul could not have gotten it from Mark.
Maybe someone in his chain of sources going back left it out.
Then he would have a different source from Paul.
Maybe someone added it to Paul's chain - like a different original story teller.
Of course. And it would be a different source - since Mark does not call Peter by the name Cephas, not in the Passion nor elsewhere. He has independent knowledge of the situation because he has information that Mark does not supply. "Maybe" might answer whether or not the evidence is compelling, but it does not contradict the existence of the evidence.
Problems with the evidence for the Resurrection.
Like a true skeptic, throw out some red herrings when you can't make your case. The question is not whether there is evidence for the Resurrection (there is and your probability argument doesn't touch it) but whether there is evidence that the Bible itself represents more than one source attesting to the Resurrection. That was your gainsay du jour.

You are opening that gates of your class of 'attesting sources' to persons who might have no knowledge of any events in the story. You have no idea who they are. Call them independent if you like.

*the* gates

That happened? I wasn't aware.

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