Friday, February 10, 2017

Some Facts About the New Testament


The next time anyone tries to tell you that the New Testament is historically reliable, try to remember the following facts:
  1. The authors of the four canonical gospels are completely anonymous.
  2. All four canonical gospels are translated works.
  3. There does not exist a single first-hand eyewitness account of anything Jesus ever did.
  4. All four canonical gospels were written decades after the fact.
  5. The earliest surviving fragments of the New Testament were all written at least a century after the recorded events.
  6. The four canonical gospels are NOT independent narratives, but actually borrow heavily from each other.
  7. The story of Jesus and the adulteress is almost certainly a forgery.
  8. Miracle stories were commonplace in the ancient world and often garnered large followings of worshipers and devotees.
  9. The further back in time we go, the more divergence there exists between the known manuscripts that have survived for scrutiny to modern times.  
  10. Six out of the fourteen Pauline epistles are widely considered forgeries by modern Biblical scholars.
  11. Early Christianity consisted of many competing denominations with many competing gospels that never made it into the official Biblical cannon.
More to come...

Notes:
  1. See Yale Courses
  2. The native language of ancient Judea was Aramaic. However, all known manuscripts of the gospels are written in Greek.
  3. The mere fact that they've been translated is already a strong indication of this. However, many of the narratives admit it outright. For example, Luke 1:1-4 and Galatians 1:11-12. We can also point out that Jesus never wrote down a single word of any gospel by himself.
  4. See Dating the Bible.
  5. See Dating the Bible.
  6. This is known as the synoptic problem. Many sections of the gospel are near-verbatim copies of sections from other books. See, for example, Mark 10:38-45. Then compare side-by-side with Matthew 20:22:28. 
  7. See Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultery.
  8. See Appolonius of Tyana. 
  9. See Misquoting Jesus.
  10. See Authorship of the Pauline Epistles 
  11. See Diversity in Early Christianity. See also Non-canonical Gospels

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

None f those facts mean anything.

1: SO? Most ANcient Texts are anonymous. Are you seriously arguign we ditch 90% of Huan History?

2: Not rally True since we can read them in their Origina Greek.

3: Unless you're wong about the Gospels. And what about the EPistles?

And again, this is True of most Hisorical figures. We have no Firsthand accounts of Alexander The Great, for example.

4: This is, again, what we'd expect from Antiquity. It gets broguth up all the toem as if the Gospels beign written decdes later is some oddity that invalidates them, but Socratese was only written about decades later, and Hannibal, ALexander The Great, and Appolonius Of Tyre were written about a century later. This is how most ANcient History works.


The Gosopels are acullay closer to the oroginal events htan ost.

And again, you seem to ignroe the EPistles, which were from only a decade later.


5: The earliest surviving opies of The Annals Of ROme are from 3 centuries later, and the earliest surviving copies of Tacitus re from about 200 years later. That means nothign to Abcient History.


6: Actually the Gospel Of John doesn't borrow from them at all. No seriosu scholar thinks John's Gospel is related to the other three.


There is also some seruous ebate on whether the idea of the Synoptic GOspels being related is actually True.

Not that it mattes, as modern Biographies do the same, utilising earlier work.

By the way, they can't all borow from ach other, one has ot be irst.


The standar Theory you see online is that Mark was written first then Matthew and Luke used it as a soruce.

But that doens't make any of them unreliable.


7: Uhm, no. Its not a forgery. And its ironically in th Gospel Of John, which is unrelated to the synoptic GOspels.


Most Scholars think it is not part of the original text of Johns Gospel, but this has been contested. EVen if it snot though, most Shcolars see it as either an indpenedant but short account, or part of oral tradition that was placed in John's Gospel to preseve it. Incorporating a shorter work into a longer work is not forgery.


8: And, your point? That doens't really speak of how reliable The New Testament is. In fact, it doesnt address The New Testament at all.

9: Actuslly no. The 5000 or so extant New Tetaments we have ae remarkably uniform, with little to no divergence. The divergence which does exist is usually minor, such as "Jesus CHrist" VS "CHrist Jesus'. The Truth is, the known Manuscripts are about 95% congruent.

AnticitizenX said...

"1: SO? Most ANcient Texts are anonymous. Are you seriously arguign we ditch 90% of Huan History?"

I find your casual disregard for this fact very embarrassing for you. It means that when you pop open a Bible and it says "The Gospel According to Mark," that statement is a bald-faced LIE. You've just admitted that the people who compiled the Bible were more than willing to say and believe things about it that aren't true.

As far as "90% of history is concerned," you seem to be under this naive impression that we ought to just take everything written down by human hands at pure, face-value. There is a process that narratives must go through in order to determine their reliability.

"2: Not rally True since we can read them in their Original Greek."

Apparently you couldn't be bothered to read the corresponding note. The native language of ancient Judea was ARAMAIC. That means the mere fact that the gospels were written in Greek means they were translated from the original events.

"Unless you're wong about the Gospels. And what about the EPistles?"

Once again, you didn't even read the notes. Apparently you also didn't even read the actual New Testament. The Gospel of Luke admits openly that nothing is first-hand. The Pauline Epistles also admit that Paul never witnessed anything first-hand, either. The mere fact that Jesus wrote nothing down in his own hand is likewise an open admission that you don't have first-hand testimony to certain events.

"This is, again, what we'd expect from Antiquity. It gets broguth up all the toem as if the Gospels beign written decdes later is some oddity that invalidates them, but Socratese was only written about decades later, and Hannibal, ALexander The Great, and Appolonius Of Tyre were written about a century later. This is how most ANcient History works."

Just because it is "common" does not mean it is "reliable." Absolutely no one in their right mind would categorically take any of those other historical narratives at pure, face value. They are all, without question, reduced in their reliability because of this fact. Or are you really so stupid as to believe Alexander's biographers when they claim he was the son of Zeus?

"And again, you seem to ignroe the EPistles, which were from only a decade later."

So? The Epistles never claim to be eyewitness testimonies of anything Jesus ever said or did. Paul admits openly that he only saw everything in visions. It's right there in Galatians.

"The earliest surviving opies of The Annals Of ROme are from 3 centuries later, and the earliest surviving copies of Tacitus re from about 200 years later. That means nothign to Abcient History."

And yet, I don't see you defending the claim that Romulus and Remus were both raised by a She-Wolf. Isn't that interesting?

"Actually the Gospel Of John doesn't borrow from them at all. No seriosu scholar thinks John's Gospel is related to the other three."

I never said it was, idiot. I said the gospels are not "independent narratives." It is a well-documented fact that Mark, Luke, and Matthew all heavily plagiarize from each other. That means you cannot claim to have "four independent narratives." At best, you maybe have two. However, the gospel of John was also written about 80+ years after the fact (more than twice as long as Mark). It doesn't count as reliable, independent account when it was obviously written long after everyone involved was already dead.

Seriously dude. I should not have to be explaining these problems to you. The mere fact that I have to explain this stuff is a dead giveaway that you are categorically unqualified to comment on anything historical in nature.

Anonymous said...

4) The Gospels were written within one or two decades after the events and during a time when people could have easily disputed their writings if anything was false. And some of the earliest copies we have are from within 100 years or 1 generation. Which means that the copies are much more likely to represent the original texts and should be considered extremely accurate. One of the criticisms raised against the historic validity of Jesus, His crucifixion, and resurrection, is that after Jesus' time, legend crept into the stories about Him and corrupted the true accounts of His life. If that is so, then the earlier we can find information concerning the fundamental events of Christ's crucifixion, the less likely error and legend would have crept into the story and the more believable it will be. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 is considered by many scholars to be an extremely early creed of the Christian church. A creed is a statement of belief. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 we see that Paul says he received this information. It reads, "I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said." If we were to take a chronological look at some important events and their dates related to this subject we find that the time period between the event and the record is very small. If the Crucifixion was around 30-33 A.D., Paul's Conversion was as early as 34 A.D., and his first meeting in Jerusalem was around 37 A.D., we can see that Paul received information about the death, burial, and resurrection (in Jerusalem) shortly after his conversion. That is a very short period of time and hardly long enough for legend to creep in and corrupt the story. This is especially important since the apostles were alive and spoke with Paul. They were eyewitness accounts to Christ's death, burial, and post-death appearances. Paul himself had the Lord Jesus appear to him (Acts 9). Paul's account agreed with the other Apostles' account and Paul wrote it down in 1 Cor. 15 around the year 54. So, since 1 Corinthians was written as early as 54 A.D., that would mean that from the event (Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection) to writing it down is 24 years. That is a very short period of time. Remember, there were plenty of Christians around who could have corrected the writings of Paul if he was in error. But we have no record at all of any corrections or challenges to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ from anyone: Roman, Jew, or other Christians. We must note here that some critics of the Bible claim that there is no extrabiblical evidence of Christ (not true) and that because of it, He didn't exist. The sword cuts both ways. If they can say that Jesus' events aren't real because there is no extrabiblical evidence mentioning them, then we can also say that since there are no extrabiblical accounts refuting the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, then it must be true. In other words, lack of extrabiblical writings does not prove that Christ did not live and did not die. Furthermore, Paul corroborated the gospel accounts (He wrote before the gospels were written) and verified several things: Jesus was born as a Jew (Galatians 4:4), Jesus was betrayed (1 Corinthians 11:23), Jesus was crucified (Galatians 3:1; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Philippians 2:8), and Jesus was buried and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:4; Romans 6:4). Obviously, Paul considered Jesus a historical figure, not a legend or a myth. Furthermore, Paul was a man of great integrity who suffered much for his faith. He was not the kind of person simply to believe tall tales.

AnticitizenX said...

"The Gospels were written within one or two decades after the events and during a time when people could have easily disputed their writings if anything was false."

Says who? You? You do understand that well over 90% of Judea was illiterate, right? It is also fairly certain that the majority of Christ's followers were poor, illiterate commoners. You even admit that the manuscripts are written in GREEK! You also admit that these Greek manuscripts were written at least four decades after the fact. And even once the first few manuscripts were written, barely a handful of people would have had any access to them. So pray tell, who exactly is going to "dispute" anything?

You also seem to be under this naive impression that disputes never happened. Did it never occur to you that there were literally DOZENS of competing Christian denominations by the middle of the second century? They all had competing gospels with competing theological interpretations. Your entire comment just reeks of abject ignorance about the nature of early Christianity.

"And some of the earliest copies we have are from within 100 years or 1 generation"

Absolutely false. I'' even challenge you to present me with a single complete New Testament manuscript that dates any earlier than 150 AD. What we do have are FRAGMENTS that date to 150 AD---as in, small chunks containing a few sentences to a few paragraphs. Furthermore, what we do have available does, in fact, contain many significant alterations from the present narratives.

You seem to also have no perspective on what you're saying. 100 years would be like me writing down a narrative BY HAND about events that allegedly occurred circa 1915, all while citing no sources and very likely making deliberate edits in the process.

"Which means that the copies are much more likely to represent the original texts and should be considered extremely accurate."

It's not a matter of likelihood. It's a matter of definite fact that scribes made deliberate edits to their manuscripts.

My God, man. We're only three sentences in and literally everything you've said was wrong. It's like some kind of never-ending train of failure with you, isn't it? Do yourself a favor and try educating yourself on research from actual scholars before commenting here ever again.

Chuck Norris said...

6) The story of the woman caught in adultery is found in John 7:53—8:11. This section of Scripture, sometimes referred to as the pericope adulterae, has been the center of much controversy over the years. At issue is its authenticity. The Greek manuscripts show fairly clear evidence that John 7:53—8:11 was not originally part of John’s Gospel. No church father commented on the section until the twelfth century, and, even then, his comment was that accurate Greek manuscripts did not contain it. Among the manuscripts that do contain the section, either wholly or in part, there are variations of placement. Some manuscripts put the pericope adulterae after John 7:36, others after John 21:25, and some even place it in the Gospel of Luke (after Luke 21:38 or 24:53). There is internal evidence, too, that John 7:53—8:11 is not original to the text. For one thing, the inclusion of these verses breaks the flow of John’s narrative. Reading from John 7:52 to John 8:12 (skipping the debated section) makes perfect sense. Also, the vocabulary used in the story of the adulterous woman is different from what is found in the rest of the Gospel of John. For example, John never refers to “the scribes” anywhere in his book—except in John 8:3. There are thirteen other words in this short section that are found nowhere else in John’s Gospel. The fact, however, remains that John 7:53—8:11 is not supported by the best manuscript evidence. Modern English translations generally include these passages yet add footnotes regarding the manuscript evidence. Thus, there is serious doubt as to whether it should be included in the Bible. Many call for Bible publishers to remove these verses from the main text and put them in footnotes. Textual criticism is a field that helps to better understand how the text of the Bible originally looked. While much effort has been made to help today's readers have confidence in the Bible they use today, textual critics continue to research and study existing manuscripts in an ever-growing field of information to further enhance our understanding of Scripture.

Chuck Norris said...

5) The many similarities among the Synoptic Gospels have led some to wonder if the human authors shared a common source, such as another written account of Christ's birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection, from which they obtained the material for their Gospels. Some argue that Matthew, Mark, and Luke are so similar that they must have used each other's writings or another common source. This supposed "source" has been given the title "Q," from the word quelle, the German word for "source." There is no actual written document to support the theory. No portion or fragment of a Q document has ever been discovered. None of the early church fathers ever mentioned a Q source behind the gospel accounts. Q is a modern invention to support a human explanation of the composition of the Bible. While human authors composed these Gospels, there is no need for such an explanation. The Bible itself claims its writings are the supernatural, inspired work of God. Ultimately, the explanation as to why the Synoptic Gospels are so similar is that the same Holy Spirit inspired them all. Further, all three Gospels were written by eyewitnesses or were based on the reports of eyewitnesses. The same basic information would have been available in all three accounts. Matthew was one of the original twelve apostles. Mark has been noted as the account of the apostle Peter's perspective. Luke was an associate of the apostle Paul, and his Gospel is based on the accounts of several eyewitnesses. Why would we not expect their accounts to be very similar to one another? Each of the Gospels is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Therefore, we should expect coherence and unity.

Chuck Norris said...

The Gospels aren't anonymous. The Gospel of Matthew is known as the Gospel of Matthew because it was written by the apostle of the same name. The style of the book is exactly what would be expected of a man who was once a tax collector. Matthew has a keen interest in accounting (18:23-24; 25:14-15). The Gospel of Matthew is very orderly and concise. Rather than write in chronological order, Matthew arranges this Gospel through six discussions. Mark was the author of the Gospel of Mark. He was an associate of the Apostle Peter, and evidently his spiritual son (1 Peter 5:13). From Peter he received first-hand information of the events and teachings of the Lord, and preserved the information in written form. Luke was the author of the Gospel of Luke. From Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-3, it is clear that the same author wrote both Luke and Acts, addressing both to “most excellent Theophilus,” possibly a Roman dignitary. Luke, a physician and a close companion of the Apostle Paul, wrote both Luke and Acts (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11). This would make Luke the only Gentile to pen any books of Scripture. John wrote the Gospel of John. John 21:20–24 describes the author of the gospel of John as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and for both historical and internal reasons this is understood to be John the Apostle, one of the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5:10).

Chuck Norris said...

2) Yes, the Gospels have been translated but you can still read it in the original Greek. Parts of the New Testament have been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work, having over 5,800 complete or fragmented Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic and Armenian. In addition, tens of thousands of quotations and allusions are available in the early church fathers. Textual criticism is the method of research used to help determine the most likely reading of the original text of the Bible. Though the original manuscripts of the Bible's books no longer exist or have yet to be found, thousands of early copies exist. Textual critics use a variety of methods in researching these numerous manuscripts to best determine what the original readings most likely were. There are several factors employed in textual criticism. The most important factors are: (1) which readings occur in the oldest manuscripts, (2) which readings occur in manuscripts found over which geographic areas, and (3) which readings occur in a significant majority of manuscripts. For the past two hundred years, most scholars have utilized an eclectic method that takes into account as many factors as possible to help better determine what was most likely the original reading of the biblical text. This gives a better than 99% confidence in the contents of the original text. Most of the differences are simply grammatical (for example, spelling certain words with an extra letter that does not alter the pronunciation). That the manuscripts are the subject of ongoing scholarship does not prove there is something wrong with God’s Word; it is a refining fire—one of the very processes God has ordained to keep His Word pure.

3) The New Testament was written by eyewitnesses or people who had access to the eyewitnesses.

AnticitizenX said...

"The Gospels aren't anonymous. The Gospel of Matthew is known as the Gospel of Matthew because it was written by the apostle of the same name."

There is literally no evidence of this whatsoever. Virtually all modern scholars agree that the gospels are completely anonymous. I even cited you a full-blown Yale scholar saying it outright in his lectures. This is not a point of contention by any stretch, whatsoever.

"Yes, the Gospels have been translated but you can still read it in the original Greek."

The native language of Judea was Aramaic. Anything Jesus ever said to a single ordinary Jew must have been spoken in Aramaic. That means the mere virtue of a Greek manuscript is automatically a translation, by default.

" Parts of the New Testament have been preserved in more manuscripts than any other ancient work,"

Yes, and if I actually cared about what the New Testament said in the year 450 AD, that would mean something. However, if you want to know what the New Testament said around 100 AD, you have literally nothing to go on but error-riddled fragments.

AnticitizenX said...

"Q is a modern invention to support a human explanation of the composition of the Bible."

When several sections between Mark, Matthew, and Luke are almost verbatim copies of each other, then I'm sorry, but that's called PLAGIARISM. It doesn't matter that we don't have direct access to Q. We know something like it absolutely must have existed. Again, this is not a matter of dispute AT ALL among Biblical scholars.

"The fact, however, remains that John 7:53—8:11 is not supported by the best manuscript evidence."

Great. So you admit openly that, in at least one instance, the Bible has been deliberately and blatantly edited by scribes to contain lies. You also admit that it is really only a matter of scholarly happenstance that we managed to catch this little forgery, and that for all we know there exist plenty more. That's also completely ignoring the fallible human memories required to relay events decades after the fact, not to mention the glaring possibility of embellishment or outright fabrications.

In short, you have a document written by illiterate, superstitious zealots with an obvious religious agenda. This document contains known forgeries, by your own admission, and arises from a period in history where practically everyone believed in ghosts, spirits, and magical incantations. This document tells of a guy performing miracles, rising from the dead, and talking with Gods, angels, and demons face-to-face. Pray tell, which is more likely? That this one guy is LITERALLY the son of God? Or that, just maybe, somebody told a fantastic story of myth and legend that managed to become really popular?

Think hard now, champ.

Chuck Norris said...

The first-century Roman Tacitus, who is considered one of the more accurate historians of the ancient world, mentioned superstitious “Christians” (from Christus, which is Latin for Christ), who suffered under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. Suetonius, chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian, wrote that there was a man named Chrestus (or Christ) who lived during the first century (Annals 15.44).

Flavius Josephus is the most famous Jewish historian. In his Antiquities he refers to James, “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.” There is a controversial verse (18:3) that says, “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats....He was [the] Christ...he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him.” One version reads, “At this time there was a wise man named Jesus. His conduct was good and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who became his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”

Pliny the Younger, in Letters 10:96, recorded early Christian worship practices including the fact that Christians worshiped Jesus as God and were very ethical, and he includes a reference to the love feast and Lord’s Supper.

The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a) confirms Jesus' crucifixion on the eve of Passover and the accusations against Christ of practicing sorcery and encouraging Jewish apostasy.

We can almost reconstruct the gospel just from early non-Christian sources: Jesus was called the Christ (Josephus), did “magic,” led Israel into new teachings, and was hanged on Passover for them (Babylonian Talmud) in Judea (Tacitus), but claimed to be God and would return (Eliezar), which his followers believed, worshipping Him as God (Pliny the Younger).

Chuck Norris said...

Look up godandscience.org to see the evidence that Jesus exists.

AnticitizenX said...

"The first-century Roman Tacitus, who is considered one of the more accurate historians of the ancient world, mentioned superstitious “Christians"

Yeah? So? Christians existed who worshiped Jesus. Therefore, Jesus was literally the son of God who died for your sins in accordance with the one, true religion. Is that how your mind works?

"Flavius Josephus is the most famous Jewish historian"

Josephus was born years after Jesus died, you fuckwit.

"Pliny the Younger, in Letters 10:96, recorded early Christian worship practices including the fact that Christians worshiped Jesus as God and were very ethical, and he includes a reference to the love feast and Lord’s Supper."

So? Does that fact alone lend any support whatsoever to the claim that Jesus was literally the son of God who died for your sins in accordance with the one, true religion?

"We can almost reconstruct the gospel just from early non-Christian sources: Jesus was called the Christ (Josephus), did “magic,” led Israel into new teachings, and was hanged on Passover for them (Babylonian Talmud) in Judea (Tacitus), but claimed to be God and would return (Eliezar), which his followers believed, worshipping Him as God (Pliny the Younger)."

The exact same thing is true for Appolonius of Tyana. Even more so can be said for Joseph Smith. Yet strangely enough, I don't see you defending either of them as miracle-working prophet. So don't sit there and pretend as if any of this evidence
means shit to you when obviously it doesn't.

Chuck Norris said...

First, both Josephus and Lucian indicate that Jesus was regarded as wise. Second, Pliny, the Talmud, and Lucian imply He was a powerful and revered teacher. Third, both Josephus and the Talmud indicate He performed miraculous feats. Fourth, Tacitus, Josephus, the Talmud, and Lucian all mention that He was crucified. Tacitus and Josephus say this occurred under Pontius Pilate. And the Talmud declares it happened on the eve of Passover. Fifth, there are possible references to the Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection in both Tacitus and Josephus. Sixth, Josephus records that Jesus' followers believed He was the Christ, or Messiah. And finally, both Pliny and Lucian indicate that Christians worshipped Jesus as God!

Chuck Norris said...

Sometime after 70AD, a Syrian philosopher named Mara Bar-Serapion, writing to encourage his son, compared the life and persecution of Jesus with that of other philosophers who were persecuted for their ideas. The fact Jesus is known to be a real person with this kind of influence is important. Mara Bar-Serapion refers to Jesus as the “Wise King”:

“What benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as judgment for their crime. Or, the people of Samos for burning Pythagoras? In one moment their country was covered with sand. Or the Jews by murdering their wise king?…After that their kingdom was abolished. God rightly avenged these men…The wise king…Lived on in the teachings he enacted.”

From this account, we can add to our understanding of Jesus: He was a wise and influential man who died for His beliefs. The Jewish leadership was somehow responsible for Jesus’ death. Jesus’ followers adopted His beliefs and lived their lives accordingly.

AnticitizenX said...

"First, both Josephus and Lucian indicate that Jesus was regarded as wise."


NO! Really? That changes everything! Historians remarked decades after the fact that Jesus was considered WISE? Why didn't you say so? I guess that means Jesus literally walked on water, died for your sins, and rose from the dead, right?

"Third, both Josephus and the Talmud indicate He performed miraculous feats"

So? The Joseph Smith history says that Smith literally spoke to God in person and performed miracles, you fuckwit. Yet I don't see you crashing down my forum to defend the Book of Mormon.

I'm sorry, but you are literally too stupid to engage engage with on any serious level. Just because people said stuff on paper, that doesn't make it true. Please go away.