Showing posts from March, 2010

A Curious Key to a Historical Jesus (Part 2 of 9)

Part 2: A List of Pauce Possibilities

As an experiment in historical criticism (starting back in Part 1), I have begun considering the material of GosMatt 28:11b-15, the second half of the adventures of the guards at the tomb of Jesus (i.e. where they go report what happened), from a position of feasibly minimal scepticism--not in the sense of going out of my way to do anything I can think of to reject the historicity of the material, but in the sense of slowly and carefully considering, one step at a time, the absolute minimum I might reasonably accept as historical facts. In part one, I reached this result as one tiny diamond of positive (yet still sceptically minimal) analysis: at the time this little story was written into GosMatt--by whomever wrote it, wherever he wrote it, whenever he wrote it--a certain prevalent number of Jews were saying to GosMatt's intended audience, "the disciples stole the body."

So, let us fit his little story to this one evident fact and see…

A Curious Key to a Historical Jesus (Part 1 of 9)

Part 1: Key Evidence?

The particular (and quite limited) argument of this series has certainly been made before, in more scholarly fashions. But it may be worth looking at again, from the perspective of a realistic sceptical minimism, as an example of how far evidence can go even in such minimism, when implications of the evidence are kept in mind.

So, to begin with just about the most minimal historical fact possible:

It is a historical fact, that sometime between 30 CE and 150 CE, the document known as "kata Maththaion" was written.

I am not saying anything (yet) about who wrote it (authoring and/or compiling and/or redacting it). I am not saying anything (yet) about why it was written. I am not even saying anything (yet) about the date, or dates, of its composition (aside from the ultra-extreme range given that I have provided merely as a starting point for consideration).

Its title translates literally as "down-to/by Maththai"; or as we know it more commonly in Eng…

Doherty part 4: Rise of the Q Community

refutation of Doherty's Evolution of Jesus (4 of 7)

Doherty assumes what we have just disproved, the latter development of Cross and tomb, in order to assert a fictional Q community that lacked knowledge of Jesus and set up the basic Q document:
"If, on the other hand, the "biography" of Jesus of Nazareth was something unusual which went against the grain of current knowledge and belief, one can understand how early versions of the Gospels, written around the turn of the century, would have enjoyed only limited use and isolated reworking for at least a generation."The Gospels would certainly be limited in acceptance even if the cross and the tomb were early and well known. Doherty wants us to think its because something totally new is being introduced into a tradition that never had it before, and that is true, but that doesn't mean the new element is the cross/tomb part of the story, nor is it an earthly Jesus. What's new is the introduction of written s…

Doherty: part 3

Doherty says:

"Only in Justin Martyr, writing in the 150s, do we find the first identifiable quotations from some of the Gospels, though he calls them simply "memoirs of the Apostles," with no names." This is already been disproved. I've already pointed out quotations and allusions in all the major Apostolic fathers, in Paul and in pre Mark Redaction. Doherty seems mainly to be carping on the fact that no one sties chapter and verse, as though he doesn't know they didn't write in chapters and verses.

Doherty evokes Koster, but as we see with the myther penchant for quoting Cumont, it's clear he has not read Koster closely enough:

"Scholars such as Helmut Koester have concluded that earlier "allusions" to Gospel-like material are likely floating traditions which themselves found their way into the written Gospels. (See Koester's Ancient Christian Gospels and his earlier Synoptische Uberlieferung bei den apostolischen Vatern.) Is it …

Refuting Doherty's Evolution of Jesus part 2

Doherty makes the claim that the Gospels were not received as an authoritative contribution to the Christian tradition until after the close of the first century. The importance of this claim should be obvious, if the Gospels were not authoritative the elements that make them distinct from the other tradition must be late inventions. Thus the cross, the tomb, Jesus himself are all added late and not historical elements!

But equally important is attestation. When do the Gospels start to show up in the wider record of Christian writings? If Mark is as early as 70, and all four had been written by 100, why do none of the early Fathers—the author of 1 Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, the author of the Epistle of Barnabas— writing between 90 and 130, quote or refer to any of them? How could Ignatius (around 107), so eager to convince his readers that Jesus had indeed been born of Mary and died under Pilate, that he had truly been a human man who suffered, how could he have failed to appeal…