September 2016

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Subscribe

« What Is Sexual Atheism, and Why Is It Wrong? | Main | Links Mentioned on the 6/09/15 Show »

June 09, 2015

Comments

But that's just hearsay; in no way does a listing of witnesses constitute "a report of eyewitness evidence" as you claim. Paul didn't even bother to quote any actual testimony from them, which would at least be more reliable hearsay.

Why didn't any of the alleged witnesses write about the resurrection they witnessed? I'd surely do that. If I didn't know how to write, that would be more than sufficient motivation to learn.

But that's just hearsay;

It's not hearsay for the reasons the article mentions. Hearsay is information that can't be substantiated (Concise Oxford English Dictionary). Brett points out that we can substantiate that

1. 1 Cor. is a letter from Paul.
2. 1 Cor. 15:3-8 contains a creed that predates 1 Cor.
3. Paul most likely received this material from an earlier visit to the apostles a few years after his conversion.

in no way does a listing of witnesses constitute "a report of eyewitness evidence" as you claim.

Yes, it does. Whenever a police report is drawn up they gather eyewitness testimony, if any is available.

Why didn't any of the alleged witnesses write about the resurrection they witnessed?

The same gratuitous assumption you made in your other comment. Not having another testimony does not entail the non-existence of another testimony.

I'd surely do that. If I didn't know how to write, that would be more than sufficient motivation to learn.

That's a pretty ridiculous assertion which doesn't take into account the cultural difference between our culture and theirs. Nor does it take into account the difficulty of learning to write as an adult.

For a comparison, imagine how difficult it would be for you to start learning how to write Korean. Speaking the language makes things only slightly easier. Now imagine this task in a time where most of the population doesn't know how to write Korean either, teachers aren't readily available or affordable, the culture values oral testimony, and others have already undertaken to write about it.

"It's not hearsay for the reasons the article mentions. Hearsay is information that can't be substantiated (Concise Oxford English Dictionary)."

Not in an evidentiary sense. The next definition is the one I'm using: "The report of another person’s words by a witness" (Concise Oxford English Dictionary)

"Brett points out that we can substantiate that..."

None of those reasons substantiate the testimony of anyone but Paul!

Me: "in no way does a listing of witnesses constitute "a report of eyewitness evidence" as you claim."

"Yes, it does. Whenever a police report is drawn up they gather eyewitness testimony, if any is available."

You just agreed with me. What they HAVE GATHERED is the eyewitness testimony. The list of witnesses is hearsay because it is indirect--the report of another person's words! (Concise Oxford English Dictionary)

Don't they make the witnesses testify in person in the trial?

"The same gratuitous assumption you made in your other comment. Not having another testimony does not entail the non-existence of another testimony."

You're putting words in my mouth again. I'm not claiming the non-existence of anything--I am simply arguing against miscategorization. Why does it upset you so?

"That's a pretty ridiculous assertion which doesn't take into account the cultural difference between our culture and theirs."

What difference? Please be specific.

"Nor does it take into account the difficulty of learning to write as an adult."

My point is that my witnessing the Resurrection would be motivating. Do you disagree?

"For a comparison, imagine how difficult it would be for you to start learning how to write Korean. Speaking the language makes things only slightly easier."

It makes it a LOT easier, for the four languages I've studied, three as an adult. You're flailing.

"Now imagine this task in a time where most of the population doesn't know how to write Korean either, teachers aren't readily available or affordable, the culture values oral testimony, and others have already undertaken to write about it."

OK, I've imagined it. I'd still need to write about it myself to convince the doubters of the good news. I don't see that my assertion is in any way ridiculous.

When I was in parochial school, the nuns told me about the appearances of the Virgin Mary at Fatima. I don't think the mere fact that they might once have talked to someone who was there makes their stories "eyewitness testimony."

Not in an evidentiary sense. The next definition is the one I'm using: "The report of another person’s words by a witness" (Concise Oxford English Dictionary)

Okay. But hearsay in that sense has no negative connotations. It can still be of evidential value. So when you said "But that's just hearsay" all you were saying is that Paul is reporting what he heard from eyewitnesses. Well, yeah, Brett say the same thing in his first sentence of his second post?

Also notice that the rest of your sentence in your original post ("in no way does a listing of witnesses constitute 'a report of eyewitness evidence' as you claim.") isn't an inference from it being "hearsay". By the way, what's the distinction you're drawing between a list of witnesses to the resurrected Jesus and a report of eyewitnesses? Paul does report what witnesses like Peter saw: the resurrected Jesus.

None of those reasons substantiate the testimony of anyone but Paul!

They support that Paul is faithfully reporting a very early creed that cites witnesses to Jesus' resurrection. That's significant because if the report itself was inaccurate it could have easily been debunked and there wasn't time for legend to accrue.

You just agreed with me. What they HAVE GATHERED is the eyewitness testimony. The list of witnesses is hearsay because it is indirect--the report of another person's words!

The police report is also indirect. It's the policeman's record of what the eyewitness saw. Granted, I've never had to give a police report so maybe I'm missing something here. Perhaps a policeman has you write down what you witnessed yourself? At any rate, you seem to be making much ado about nothing. Supposing police officers gather testimony in the way I was thinking of: They question the witness and then write up a report along the lines of "Mary saw Peter steal the coke at 9 am Thursday morning..." That seems to me to be a report of eyewitness testimony. If you want to stipulate something else as eyewitness testimony you're free to do so, but do you have some rational objection to the former or some argument in favor of the latter?

Don't they make the witnesses testify in person in the trial?

Yes, but supposing that the witness wasn't available to testify it only means the report wouldn't be allowed as evidence in the court. It's a convention of requiring a high standard of proof in order to convict someone of a punishable crime. We aren't rationally beholden to court standards of allowable evidence.

You're putting words in my mouth again. I'm not claiming the non-existence of anything--I am simply arguing against miscategorization.

Actually you did implicitly claim the non-existence of written eyewitness testimony. You asked "Why didn't any of the alleged witnesses write about the resurrection they witnessed?" That's like asking "Why didn't you stop beating your wife yesterday?" The question smuggles in an assumption. Just as it would be ridiculous for me to say you're putting words in my mouth if you ask why I'm assuming you are beating your wife, so it is ridiculous for you to say I'm putting words in your mouth. Your question assumed the non-existence of non-existence of writings by the other eyewitnesses.

Why does it upset you so?

Any fizz you see is the usual carbonation. You're also making gratuitous assumptions about my emotional state.

What difference? Please be specific.

That should have been clear from the rest of what I went on to say: An oral culture vs a literate culture.

My point is that my witnessing the Resurrection would be motivating. Do you disagree?

No, your point was that it would be motivating *to learn to write*. And that I disagreed with that should have also been obvious.

It makes it a LOT easier, for the four languages I've studied, three as an adult. You're flailing.

Learning a language as a child actually makes it easier to learn other languages as an adult. You also learned to write in your native language as a child. So maybe you're at a unique advantage. As someone who has studied Korean I can tell you that knowing how to speak it (not fluently) hasn't not made it significantly easier to learn to read and write (which I still can't do). For someone who never learned to write any language as a child the task would be even more difficult.

OK, I've imagined it. I'd still need to write about it myself to convince the doubters of the good news. I don't see that my assertion is in any way ridiculous.

Now you're making gratuitous assumptions about what it would take to convince the doubters. Why would largely illiterate people put more weight on your writing than on your oral testimony?

I have to do some work now, but I'll respond to your comment in the other thread later.

Vinny,

When I was in parochial school, the nuns told me about the appearances of the Virgin Mary at Fatima. I don't think the mere fact that they might once have talked to someone who was there makes their stories "eyewitness testimony."

No, but if they talked to someone who was there and told you what the witness saw it would be a report of eyewitness testimony. That's all Brett claimed for this.

CC,

No. If they talked to someone who was there and told me what the witness said he saw, it might be a "report of eyewitness testimony," if the witness'statement otherwise meets the definition of "testimony." In the case of Paul and my grade school teachers, what I have is someone claiming that certain events took place rather than reporting what the people who were there said about what they saw.

Apologists make much of the fact that Paul is quoting a creed in 1 Corinthians 15, which is defined as "a brief authoritative formula of religious belief." That suggests to me that what we have is a community's theological interpretation of events rather than verbatim accounts from the witnesses to events.

Having practiced law for over 20 years (and a good bit of that trying criminal cases as a state prosecutor), I am intrigued by the discussion of "hearsay" in the context of Paul's statement of witnesses in I Corinthians 15. Permit me to share a few comments, in the spirit of trying to shed light, rather than create heat.

From my law school days, hearsay was (and still is) defined as "an out-court-statement used to prove the matter asserted". Paul's "witness list", if you will, does not provide a single "statement" of what any witness said about anything; rather, the focus is on what various witnesses saw. Put another way, he summarizes not what the witnesses said, but what they did! As such, the summary in verses 3-8 is not, legally speaking, hearsay. The information might well be based on statements Paul gathered from some, perhaps all of the witnesses, and the statements related to him would constitute a form of hearsay, if then related to us by him. Even so, is all hearsay prohibited from admission at trial as unreliable? Not at all. Indeed, most of the eyewitness statements recorded in the Gospels and Acts would be admissible in court under either the "excited utterance exception" or the "statement against interest exception" to the hearsay rule. An excited utterance is made in the immediate context of some unusual or extraordinary event, often under some threat of harm, all factors that mitigate against fabrication. In the case of a statement against interest, the declarant speaks under significant threat of harm to person or property, which again tends toward the credibility of statements, and against fabrication.

We must also recognize that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus in the NT does not establish its truth to a mathematical or absolute certainty. It is a strong, circumstantial case, rebuttable to be sure, but compelling when one considers the great risk entailed to proclaim it at time which it occurred. I have convicted felons at trial on less, albeit credible evidence than that set forth in the Gospels and Acts, with the vast majority admitting to their guilt in the penalty phase of the trial!

Rick,

How do you go about establishing that the writers of the gospels and Acts were recording the statements of eyewitnesses rather than stories that had been passed along by an unknown number of people before being recorded?

Even if you could establish that the writers of the gospels and Acts were recording the statements of eyewitnesses, how could you establish that the eyewitnesses were still under the stress of startling event at the time those writers heard them make the statements?

Even if you could establish that the writers of the gospels and Acts were recording the statements of eyewitnesses, how could you establish that the statements were spoken under significant threat of harm rather than, for example, as one Christian to another?

"No, but if they talked to someone who was there and told you what the witness saw it would be a report of eyewitness testimony. That's all Brett claimed for this."

False. That was not all that Brett claimed.

The comments to this entry are closed.