Why do some assume that the gospel authors knew Jesus ?

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
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#81
This actually applies to most of our written sources for ancient history quite as much as to the New Testament! This in particular caused me some wry amusement: "Third, history must be written by eyewitnesses, and as mentioned already in this thread, the Gospels were only written down long after the events they describe." So, history must be written by eyewitnesses - or else it's legend!!
Yes, my area of specialty is the Merovingian Franks. The most widely read source there is Gregory of Tours. Much of what he writes is now considered legendary or otherwise unreliable, but up until fifty or seventy-five years ago these same passages were taken as Gospel truth (sorry for the pun).
 
Mar 2019
1,651
Kansas
#82
Please clarify what archaeologists would disagree with? That history must be written?
That history has to be written by eyewitnesses.

The only account we have of the destruction of Pompeii was written 27 years after the event by someone estimated to be over 20 miles away from the eruption. Within 100 years the very existence of the city was forgotten by the Roman Empire. Fast forward to the 18th century. The ruins are discovered. And it is found much of what was written in the account is indeed correct.
 
Jun 2018
504
New Hampshire
#83
But you don't know that. There certainly is no scholarly consensus on that claim, and the standards of history demand things like independent verification. You're allowed to believe whatever you wish to believe. Ultimately, your faith is about what makes you happy. No one else's opinion matters. But history, as a scholarly discipline must operate according to different rules than you do. When we say that the Bible is not historical, we aren't saying the Bible isn't true. We're saying that it doesn't rise to the level of historical standards.
Believe me, as a history teacher I am well aware of how history as a discipline operates. All I am saying is *if* the Bible was divinely inspired than the Gospels would certainly meet the requirements of historical documents, as the deity would qualify as am eyewitness.

Are you saying that one can't be a historian and have religious faith?
 

Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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#84
That history has to be written by eyewitnesses.

The only account we have of the destruction of Pompeii was written 27 years after the event by someone estimated to be over 20 miles away from the eruption. Within 100 years the very existence of the city was forgotten by the Roman Empire. Fast forward to the 18th century. The ruins are discovered. And it is found much of what was written in the account is indeed correct.
OK, then let me clarify. It's still a primary source if the historian interviews eyewitnesses rather than sees the event him or herself. Twenty-seven years later there were still some living eyewitnesses.
 
Jun 2018
504
New Hampshire
#85
OK, then let me clarify. It's still a primary source if the historian interviews eyewitnesses rather than sees the event him or herself. Twenty-seven years later there were still some living eyewitnesses.
As being from the time frame itself, an archaeological artifact certainly qualifies as a primary source. A primary source does not necessarily have to be a written document.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
26,889
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#86
Mah ...

I would differentiate.

The real authors of the Gospels we know didn't know Jesus. Period. Simply because our Gospels have been written too late. Studying these gospels scholars have thought that an original tale had to exist. Simply because three Gospels seem to be written by copycats! The "Source Q" is usually indicated as the main text of reference [but no one has seen it].

There is a problem about the 4th Gospel: is it invented, or is it original and genuine? Great question ...
 

Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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#87
All I am saying is *if* the Bible was divinely inspired than the Gospels would certainly meet the requirements of historical documents, as the deity would qualify as am eyewitness.
"When we talk to God it's called prayer. When God talks to us it's called schitzophrenia."

When evaluating the credibility of such a divine witness, I would have to consider to method of transmission. I have no experience or credible knowledge of divine inspiration. I've heard claims over the years, but nothing I would take literally or seriously. On the other hand, schitzophrenia is a very credible explanation of why and how people hear voices. Since the divine inspiration is suspect, that's a big IF.

Are you saying that one can't be a historian and have religious faith?
We humans have an amazing ability to comparmentalize our lives. For instance, we behave differently at work than we do at home. A person of faith has already searched for and found his or her answers. During their search for answers they may or may not have considered evidence. This evidence may or may not rise to the level of historical standards. All that the person of faith requires is that the evidence satisfy them. The evidence or non-evidence that leads a person to a religious conclusion does not have to meet anyone else's standards. Historians don't use evidence to convince themselves. They use evidence to convince others. Since a historian only has to convince themselves about their religious beliefs, they don't have to use evidence to reach a religious conclusion. Many scientists believe in Darwin and the Big Bang Monday through Friday, and on Sunday morning they believe Genisis. It's all about comparmentalization.
 
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holoow

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
3,834
Vilnius, Lithuania
#88
Believe me, as a history teacher I am well aware of how history as a discipline operates. All I am saying is *if* the Bible was divinely inspired than the Gospels would certainly meet the requirements of historical documents, as the deity would qualify as am eyewitness.

Are you saying that one can't be a historian and have religious faith?
Any proofs that Bible is divinely inspired?
"While where is not a single idea in the bible which was not known before, there are many glorious truths of science and philosophy in other books which can not be found in the bible".
M.M.Mangasarian.The Bible Unveiled.1911.
 
Nov 2016
970
Germany
#89
A person of faith has already searched for and found his or her answers. During their search for answers they may or may not have considered evidence. This evidence may or may not rise to the level of historical standards. All that the person of faith requires is that the evidence satisfy them
But you do not take into account something very important, namely that religious beliefs are transmitted from one generation to the next through socialization, so that a believer usually assimilates the contents of a faith as a CHILD. From this it follows that such evidence plays practically no role in the assimilation of religious contents. In your account it seems as if it is about adults who can decide for or against a religion at their own discretion. This is usually not the case. You should, I think, align your argumentation with this fact.

There is, of course, the case that, when a religion comes into being, adult people assimilate a faith that they did not have before, for which early Christianity is an example. In this case, one has to consider the motives that stimulated these people to adopt the faith. In the case of early Christianity, evidence played practically no role, which is important is the symbolic power of the contents, provided they are directed towards consolation and salvation from earthly suffering. Here wishful thinking plays the decisive role.

However, the Christian faith at that time was only taught to people who already had some kind of faith, for which they did not need any evidence, because it was taught to them by socialization. The Christian faith merely transformed such a faith and could build on the fact that a believer did not demand evidence precisely because he or she was brought up to believe (any religion) as a child.
 
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Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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#90
But you do not take into account something very important, namely that religious beliefs are transmitted from one generation to the next through socialization, so that a believer usually assimilates the contents of a faith as a CHILD. From this it follows that such evidence plays practically no role in the assimilation of religious contents. In your account it seems as if it is about adults who can decide for or against a religion at their own discretion. This is usually not the case. You should, I think, align your argumentation with this fact.
I agree young children will blindly go along with whatever their parents will tell them. Most teenagers question or challenge just about everything their parents tell them. By the time one reaches adulthood, a person has had the opportunity to explore questions of faith and spirituality. Not everyone explores these questions deeply, but that just means they do not require evidence because they already have their answers.

You do raise an issue of 'What role does modern education play by encouraging intellectual inquiry vs previous times when intellectual inquiry and contemplation were discouraged?' I can believe that many people in the past, at least in some times and places, blindly followed their socialization and never seriously questioned their faith. Today I think most people, certainly in my experience, wrestle with questions of faith. Some more than others. There is little socialization towards religious skepticism. Most religious skeptics get there on their own. Most believers probably asked themselves fewer hard questions about their faith and spirituality. But the key point is, they had the opportunity to consider evidence or other bases for their beliefs.

I can modify my statement "A person of faith has already searched for and found his or her answers" to "A person of faith already has his or her answers." Basically I've deleted the search. The idea that got me here, that "it's pointless to make an evidence-based argument with a person of faith because they don't need or care about evidence" still holds.