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BurningTheStrawmen
Con (against)
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The Contender
KeytarHero
Pro (for)
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Is it possible to Construct a historical Narrative of Jesus?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/1/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,304 times Debate No: 24009
Debate Rounds (4)
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BurningTheStrawmen

Con

I hold to the position that it is very difficult, if not impossible to construct a historical narrative of Jesus of Nazareth. The debate will be structured as follows:

Round 1 Acceptance, (no arguments)
Round 2 Opening Statement from Pro, Rebuttal/Opening Statement from Con
Round 3 Continuing Rebuttals
Round 4 Rebuttals/Closing Statement (no new arguments)

All sources must be cited clearly.
KeytarHero

Pro

I thank Burning the Strawmen for instituting this debate challenge. As per the rules of this debate, I will simply use it for acceptance.

I will be defending the resolution that it is possible to construct a historical narrative of Jesus. I await Con's opening argument.
Debate Round No. 1
BurningTheStrawmen

Con

Firstly, I apologize for being late, when I posted this debate challenge, I was beset by several personal issues that had to be resolved, again, I apologize. secondly I thank KeytarHero for accepting to debate what will be a great exchange of ideas.

I want to say that most of what I will post here can be traced back to blog posts I have made in the past, there will be links below.

For Scholars & historians of antiquity reconstructing accurate narratives of historical people can be a difficult task, and there is probably no more difficult a task that trying to reconstruct the life of Jesus of Nazareth, for two reasons. The first, is that conservative Biblical scholars (and conservatives in general, who all tend to be Christians) shy away from doing so, as to not cast doubt upon their faiths. A second reason being, that it is difficult to separate the historical figure that is Jesus, and the theological Jesus.

It is important to explain the differences. I find that, when making such distinctions are agreeing upon these distinctions, dialogues between the believing and non-believing become easier to open, and are more enjoyable and can be quite productive.

The historical Jesus is the figure from which we try reconstruct a narrative based on the evidence, which in this case would be eye-witness accounts, and archaeological evidence. Usually, the evidence for the existence of Jesus given are the Gospels, Paul's letters, accounts from later historians, etc. (I must say before-hand however that I question the given accounts, which I will indeed get into in later posts). If in sufficient quantity, and if it is valid, one could create a narrative of a person that did indeed exist.

The theological Jesus is the Jesus of faith, that the Christians believe. One does not need to accept the historical Jesus to believe in the theological Jesus, which is fine, and one does not need to believe in the theological Jesus to accept the historical Jesus, which is also fine. The theological narrative can be created in the same way: through accounts and testimony, but it is a narrative that must be taken on faith, by nature of the claims and teachings of this Jesus. Things such as healing, reviving the dead, and Jesus' eventually rise after three days are claims that are neither verifiable nor falsifiable. Textual claim is not sufficient to show they happened, and unless you are trying to construct theological figure, the claims must be rejected, in the same way one would reject the divine oracle and omen claims made in Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars (no one gets special treatment).

Hopefully with this distinction made, I can explain my positions and (albeit amateurly) construct my argument as to why I do not think that a Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the gospels, exist.

In order to reconstruct a narrative of Jesus, (or anyone/thing for that matter), what is needed are contemporary, first-hand accounts, as many of them as possible, and what is even more desired are accounts that corroborate with each other.

For the narrative of Jesus, we have three different types of accounts: but due to character limits I can only focus on one: the Gospels, which are Mark, Matthew, Luke & John. These four Gospels are our best sources, as they give the most descriptive accounts of the life of Jesus.

In order to reconstruct a narrative of Jesus, (or anyone/thing for that matter), what is needed are contemporary, first-hand accounts, as many of them as possible, and what is even more desired are accounts that corroborate with each other.

When trying to determine the authorship of any historical document, especially ones from antiquity, scholars look for claims of authorship within the text, then analyze the writing style to see if the document itself has a single consistent style, or has several, indicating the possibility of more than one author. They also analyze language clues to determine the time the document was authored. If we have two or more documents claiming to have been written by the same person, we can then compare the styles and language clues with each other, looking for inconsistencies, only after rigorous study, scholars can then determine who/how many and when the document(s) in question were written.

Regarding the authorship of the canonical Gospels, it is extremely difficult, if not virtually impossible to determine their authorship. The Gospels aren't mentioned anywhere within the Pauline Epistles, and what would later become the Catholic Church did not begin mentioning any writings of the life of Jesus until Justin Martyr's First Apology (written roughly 150 CE), and the Gospels aren't mentioned by name until Irenaeus of Lyons' On Heresies (written roughly 180 CE).

We also do not have the original Gospels, only copies. None of the early church fathers, such as Clement of Rome, or Ignatius of Antioch mention the Gospels or any writings of Jesus in their letters. What we do know, is that the Gospel of Mark is the earliest of the canonical, having been written between 65-80 CE, then Matthew, between 70-90 CE, Luke, between 80-100 CE, and finally John, the latest Gospel, is considered to have been written anywhere between 90-125 CE, and most Scholars now consider the Gospels to have been anonymously written, and the names attributed to them were later added during the late 2nd & 3rd century (as in Irenaeus' On Heresies).

The Synoptic Gospels (which are Mark, Matthew, & Luke), while they diverge in many ways, in the parts that are in agreement, scholars noted how many of those passages are nearly identical: written in the same order, and in many cases in verbatim. Around 90% of Matthew's Verses come from Mark, and 50% of Luke's verses come from Mark as well. John is considered to have been written separately.

This has caused for scholars to come on a consensus on the Q-source Hypothesis, which states that the authors of Matthew & Luke used Mark, and a ‘Q' document and the oral traditions passed on by the early Christian communities as a base for their narratives. This creates a massive problem, being that the best sources we have to construct the narrative are not eye-witness accounts and are anonymous. Therefore they are very unreliable as historical documents go.

What is another issue regarding the difficulty in constructing a narrative of Jesus, is that the primary sources, the Gospels, when are read horizontally, i.e., read side-by-side, they do not construct a consistent picture of the life of Jesus. Beginning with his birth, we see contradictions: Mark nor John give a date, Matthew places him two years before the death of Herod (6 BCE), Luke places the date during the Rule of Cyrenius (Governor of Syria), which would be more than ten years after Herod's death (4-7 CE). The interesting thing to note is that Luke mentions that Jesus was born in Bethlehem due to a Census that was ordered by Augustus, when no such census was ordered until 73 CE

Throughout the Gospels, we cannot create a consistent timeline of events: In Matthew, Jesus' Beatitude's and Sermon are given on the mount (5:1), in Luke it's in a field (6:17), and is considerably shorter (33 verses, compared to Matthew's 105) than Matthew's account. The Synoptics (being Matthew, Mark, & Luke) state Jesus' Ministry lasted for a year, while John claims it was three years. Jesus only visits Jerusalem once in the Synoptics and attacks the money lenders in the temple, while in John he attacks the money lenders of Jerusalem quickly after his baptism he frequents the city. John's account does not give an account of the Nativity, there is no sacrament of the Eucharist, he has no genealogy that descends from Abraham (neither does Mark's).

In conclusion: the facts that I listed above leads me to believe that the Gospels are not reliable historical documents, but instead stories of faith built on oral traditions of early Christians, likely based on an actual figure claiming to be the messiah.
KeytarHero

Pro

I would like to thank Con for his response, and am likewise looking forward to an interesting discussion.

Contrary to Pro's assertion, it is not difficult at all to reconstruct a historical narrative of Jesus. We have the Gospels (written by eyewitnesses and associates of eyewitnesses), and the writings of Paul. There is more evidence for the historical Jesus than there is for Alexander the Great. In fact, the earliest writings we have for Alexander were written some 200 years after he died. So even if you place the Gospels at a later date, that doesn't disprove their reliability. However, there is absolutely no reason to give them a late date, as I will show below.

Con makes a distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith, but there is no reason to make such a distinction. The Gospels are reliable historical documents. The Jesus of history and the Christ of faith are one and the same.

What makes Christianity unique as a religion is that it is a religion based on history. All of the claims of Christianity are historical (that is, they actually happened). A good number of them can also be verified. For example, Christ's resurrection can be historically proven to be an event that happened. The other miracles that Con mentioned are, in fact, verifiable. We have the Gospels, which were independent historical documents of the life, deeds, and teachings of Jesus. Eyewitnesses are always considered credible unless proven otherwise, and in this case the only reason for not considering the eyewitnesses reliable is if one already comes to the table with a presupposition that miracles can't happen. But that's begging the question.

In fact, Con uses Bart Ehrman as a source, but Bart Ehrman actually agrees that the Jesus presented in the Gospels is the historical Jesus, just that his deeds were embellished because the Gospel writers were biased. [1] He doesn't believe in Jesus' miracles, but as he says, "the historical sources we have for Jesus are pretty astounding for an ancient figure of any kind."

Due to character restrictions I can't give a full defense of the historical reliability of the Gospels. As I have shown, it is simply not true that eyewitnesses are required to reconstruct a narrative of a person.

I find it ironic that Con would mention the "Q" document, which is a document that has absolutely no evidence whatsoever for its existence, yet would not consider the Gospels to be written by eyewitnesses, which have overwhelming evidence for their authenticity. While it may be true that we don't have the actual original documents, what we do have is over 14,000 pieces of manuscript evidence for the New Testament documents, dating back to just over 100 years after its original composition. This is unheard of for any ancient document. [2] Most surviving copies of documents date to 1,000 years or more after their original composition, and don't have nearly as much manuscript evidence as we have for the New Testament. There is very little doubt that the Gospels were written by who they say they are, and fairly close to the events they describe.

Most scholars do not accept a late date -- radical scholars do. In fact, there is growing acceptance of earlier New Testament dates, even among critical scholars. Former liberal William F. Albright wrote, "We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today." [3]

I would like to know what Con's definition of an early church father since, since he actually mentioned early church fathers who cited the Gospels in their writings (e.g. Justin Martyr and Irenaeus). In fact, there are over 19,368 citations of the Gospels alone by early church fathers, from the late first century on. [4]

I mentioned earlier that there is absolutely no evidence for a "Q" Document. It is entirely speculation meant to bolster the radical position that the Gospels are not historically reliable. There is overwhelming evidence that the Gospels are historically reliable. I have given as much as I could with the character restriction, but there is much more I could offer.

Apparent Contradictions

Timing of Jesus' Birth

Con asserts that there are contradictions in the Gospels. But upon closer inspection, this is not the case.

If Mark nor John give a date of Christ's birth, that is irrelevant. I have not told Con when I was born, but I'm sure he would not debate me when I tell him that I was, in fact, born.

Regarding Luke, there is actually no discrepancy here. There may be two answers to the problem of the census. First, the Greek of Luke 2:2 can be translated: "This enrollment (census) was before that made when Quirinius was governor of Syria." In this case, the Greek word translated "first" (protos) is translated as a comparative, "before." Because of the construction of the sentence, this is not an unlikely reading. [5]

However, with recent scholarship it is now widely admitted that there was in fact an earlier registration, as Luke records. William Ramsay discovered several inscriptions that indicated that Quirinius was governor of Syria on two occasions, the first time several years prior to A.D. 6. According to the very papers that recorded the censuses, there was, in fact, a census between 10 and 5 B.C. [6]

Both of these explanations would also resolve the apparent problem of Quirinius and Herod.

Sermon on the Mount

First, the shortened length of Mark's sermon is unconvincing that it is contradictory. Matthew was simply giving the full sermon whereas Mark wasn't. Mark doesn't have to give the sermon in excrutiating detail in order for us to believe that Jesus gave a sermon at all.

Secondly, these are clearly two different accounts. One was on a mountain, one was on a plain. The Sermon on the Mount was given only to his disciples; the sermon on the plain was given to the multitudes (in Matthew, when he saw the multitudes he and his disciples went up the mountain without them).

Regarding the other claims he made against the Gospels, I would ask him to support his assertion that there is a discrepancy in the length of Jesus' ministry (please give chapter and verse, so I can adequately respond to it). Additionally, if some of the Gospels leave information out, this doesn't mean they are unreliable. So Con's assertion about John leaving out the Nativity, Eucharist, or genealogy is irrelevant, and proves nothing about its historicity or lack thereof.

Conclusion

The problem here is that most of the objections are not legitimate. They don't lead Con to believe anything. Con starts from a presupposition and finds anything he can in the Gospels to use against them. There is overwhelming evidence that the Gospels are historically reliable. The Jesus of historicy and the Christ of faith are the same person.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com...
[2] Geisler, Norman L., The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Books, p. 532.
[3] Albright, William F., Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands, p. 136.
[4] Geisler, Norman L., The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, pp. 529-530.
[5] F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
[6] Ramsay, William, St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen.
Debate Round No. 2
BurningTheStrawmen

Con

BurningTheStrawmen forfeited this round.
KeytarHero

Pro

Unfortunately Con has forfeited this round. As such, I extend my arguments into the next and final round.
Debate Round No. 3
BurningTheStrawmen

Con

I would like to thank KeytarHero for his response and I apologize for missing the 3rd round, my life sucks :I

//We have the Gospels (written by eyewitnesses and associates of eyewitnesses), and the writings of Paul.//

We have no way to show that these were written by their attributed authors, there are no autographs, when the attributed authors are mentioned they are mentioned in third person and the Gospels themselves are written in Third Person. Nothing Paul writes actually corroborates with anything on any of the Gospels. Paul never met Jesus. And even if one were to accept the attributed authorship of the Bible as authentic, Two of the Gospels are already discounted as eye-witness sources. The author of Luke (also considered to be the author of Acts) received his information from Paul, who never actually met Jesus, who received his information presumably from the apostles & Jesus' relatives during his trip to Jerusalem, making Luke's account third-hand at best. The author of Mark (for sake of argument assuming it was Mark) received his information from Peter.

//So even if you place the Gospels at a later date, that doesn't disprove their reliability.//

Sure. But we still have no idea who wrote them.

//Con makes a distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith, but there is no reason to make such a distinction. The Gospels are reliable historical documents. The Jesus of history and the Christ of faith are one and the same.//

Why don't you accept the miracle claims of the Quran? Mohammed was considered to be a historical figure. Why not hte Book of Mormon, or the omen and prophesy claims of Suetonius' book, The Twelve Caesars? Why should I give the Gospels special preference?

//What makes Christianity unique as a religion is that it is a religion based on history. All of the claims of Christianity are historical (that is, they actually happened). A good number of them can also be verified. For example, Christ's resurrection can be historically proven to be an event that happened.//

Frankly, I fail to see how a missing body from a tomb automatically shows that it rose from the dead.

//The other miracles that Con mentioned are, in fact, verifiable. We have the Gospels, which were independent historical documents of the life, deeds, and teachings of Jesus.//

You've yet to give a reason why I should consider them eyewitness accounts.

//Eyewitnesses are always considered credible unless proven otherwise, and in this case the only reason for not considering the eyewitnesses reliable is if one already comes to the table with a presupposition that miracles can't happen.//

I haven't presupposed anything.

//In fact, Con uses Bart Ehrman as a source, but Bart Ehrman actually agrees that the Jesus presented in the Gospels is the historical Jesus//

I use Ehrman as a source for the contradictions within the Bible. His newest book, of which I assume you refer to as evidence, has been lambasted and scorned by the academic community as poorly researched and edited.

//I find it ironic that Con would mention the "Q" document, which is a document that has absolutely no evidence whatsoever for its existence, yet would not consider the Gospels to be written by eyewitnesses, which have overwhelming evidence for their authenticity.//

You misrepresent 'Q', it is not meant as an actual document, but as a hypothetical collection of sayings of Jesus. It is not a stretch to assume such a document.

//While it may be true that we don't have the actual original documents, what we do have is over 14,000 pieces of manuscript evidence for the New Testament documents, dating back to just over 100 years after its original composition. //

The actual oldest complete manuscript of the New Testament is the Codex Sinaiticus, which is from the mid-fourth century. Everything else we have from earlier than that is fragments, some of them miniscule (no larger than a credit card, with just a few words), none of them complete. And none of the fragments is from earlier than 125 AD.
When you say there are "14,000 copies", they are not referring to complete copies. These are pieces, fragments, or maybe a few chapters. Each one is counted as "one copy", though it would be more accurate to say "one item" or "one piece".

//Most scholars do not accept a late date -- radical scholars do. In fact, there is growing acceptance of earlier New Testament dates, even among critical scholars.//

I'm sorry, but this is bull. You use a quote from 1955 from a dead biblical scholar whose methods are considered outdated by most. Most Scholars DO accept later dating, unless you'd call Raymond Brown, Bart Ehrman, Bruce Metzger, John Dominic Crossan, L. Michael White, Thomas L. Thompson, and so on as 'radical', with some of the above I mentioned being forefronts and authorities in the Biblical Scholarly community.

//I would like to know what Con's definition of an early church father//

Papias, Iraeneus, Clement, etc., the same people you'd consider Church Fathers, I fail to see how this addresses what i said: that the earlier mention of Writings of Jesus aren't until later in the 2nd century.

//I mentioned earlier that there is absolutely no evidence for a "Q" Document. It is entirely speculation meant to bolster the radical position that the Gospels are not historically reliable.//

You keep using 'radical' as though it's bad. As I mentioned, "Q" is not a document but a hypothetical collection of sayings. The Two source hypothesis, in some form or another is accepted by the overwhelming majority of scholars.

Regarding Luke, there is actually no discrepancy here. There may be two answers to the problem of the census. First, the Greek of Luke 2:2 can be translated: "This enrollment (census) was before that made when Quirinius was governor of Syria." In this case, the Greek word translated "first" (protos) is translated as a comparative, "before." Because of the construction of the sentence, this is not an unlikely reading. [5]

//However, with recent scholarship it is now widely admitted that there was in fact an earlier registration, as Luke records. William Ramsay discovered several inscriptions that indicated that Quirinius was governor of Syria on two occasions, the first time several years prior to A.D. 6. According to the very papers that recorded the censuses, there was, in fact, a census between 10 and 5 B.C.//

...William Ramsey is recent? The book you source is from 1895, St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen. You can't expect me to accept this without glossing over the next 100 years of archaeology in the area as well.

//First, the shortened length of Mark's sermon is unconvincing that it is contradictory. Matthew was simply giving the full sermon whereas Mark wasn't. Mark doesn't have to give the sermon in excrutiating detail in order for us to believe that Jesus gave a sermon at all.//

Then how do we know what Jesus was really saying?

//Secondly, these are clearly two different accounts. One was on a mountain, one was on a plain. The Sermon on the Mount was given only to his disciples; the sermon on the plain was given to the multitudes (in Matthew, when he saw the multitudes he and his disciples went up the mountain without them).//

"Matthew 5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him."

The Multitudes were certainly still there.

//Regarding the other claims he made against the Gospels, I would ask him to support his assertion that there is a discrepancy in the length of Jesus' ministry //

At the start of his ministry Jesus is in Jerusalem for Passover (2:13) then he is in Galilee for the following Passover, before going up to Jerusalem again for his death at a third Passover. (11:35) The Synoptics by contrast only explicitly mention the final Passover, and their accounts are commonly understood as describing a public ministry of less than a year.
KeytarHero

Pro

I would like to thank Burning the Strawmen for his response, and would like to express my condolences for his situation. We’ve all been there to where life treats us poorly and hope that his situation improves soon.

Now, I have given several lines of evidence to show that the Gospels should be attributed with an early date as to their writing. Con has offered no evidence to support his contention that they were not written by eyewitnesses, except the fallacies of appealing to authority and the argument from silence. The evidence is overwhelming that the Gospels were written by who they say there were, very close to the time that Jesus died. However, even if they weren’t, they are still historically reliable as even Con agrees that this doesn’t disprove their reliability.

We may not have a glaring statement that “this book was written by Jesus’ disciple, Matthew,” these books did grow up in the Christian church. The Christian church is a good authority as to who wrote the books. Additionally, we do have some authors mentioned (for example, Peter mentioned the writings of Paul which were already being considered part of the Biblical canon, 2 Peter 3: 14-16). Paul did, in fact, meet Jesus (post-resurrection, Acts 9). Paul actually did write things which corresponded to the Gospels (e.g. in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul mentions conduct for Communion, which Jesus instituted in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22).

So as I said, two of the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses (Matthew and John), and two were written by the associates of eyewitnesses (Mark, an associate of Peter, and Luke, an associate of Paul).

The Gospels should be given special preference because they were written by eyewitnesses (as I have shown), and written relatively close to the events they describe (even if not actually written by eyewitnesses, they are still reliable testimony). It is not within the scope of this debate to prove the reliability of the Qu’ran or any of the other documents. If Con wishes to debate those, I would be happy to, but there is simply not enough room to talk about these documents (besides simply being a red herring).

A missing body does not automatically mean a resurrection, of course. But we can believe the resurrection of Christ happened because of His prophecies that it would, the eyewitnesses accounts of the resurrection, the post-resurrection appearances (most of whom were still alive at the writing of Paul’s letters and could certainly have been sought out for verification), and the fact that, frankly, all of the alternatives proposed by skeptics fall flat.

Jesus didn’t simply swoon and revive later on; he was stabbed through the side, his heart pierced, to ensure from the Roman soldiers (who were quite good at their jobs) that he was actually dead. The disciples were cowards and could never have worked up the courage to steal Jesus’ body and claim the resurrection occurred, especially with the large stone in place and the Roman guard (additionally, the change in boldness of the disciples after Christ resurrected and appeared to them lend credibility that the resurrection happened). Also, the Romans or Jewish leaders would not have stolen the body because that would only spur Christianity on. In fact, in order to quash Christianity before it began, all they had to do was produce the body and it would have died before it ended. But the disciples proclaimed Christ’s resurrection some 50 days after it happened, and in the same place (Jersualem) where it happened. This would have been religious suicide if the resurrection didn’t actually occur. There is much more evidence, but in the interest of space I’ll leave it at that.

It is certainly a stretch to assume a “Q” document existed. There is overwhelming evidence that the New Testament Gospels existed and were eyewitness accounts. There is no reason to accept its existence, especially since you are not leveling the same level of criticism at the alleged “Q” as you are the New Testament. On top of that, we have an actual document called The Gospel of Thomas, which contains 114 alleged statements of Jesus, but was rejected as authentic because it contains statements contrary to those made in the actual Gospels, and it clearly wasn’t written by who it was claimed to have written it (also, it was dated to sometime in the second century, much later than the Gospels, so clearly Thomas didn’t write it).

It is irrelevant when the oldest complete document is dated to. If we even have a fragment of a document dated earlier, then the document certainly existed earlier. Fragments of the Gospel of Mark were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran which dates back to 50 A.D. The fragments were first dated, then in 1972 paleographer Jose O’Callahan identified the fragments as coming from the book of Mark (fragments from Acts (A.D. 60), Romans, 1 Timothy, 2 Peter, and James (all A.D. 70) were found in the same cave). [1] So it doesn’t matter if these “pieces” of manuscript evidence are not complete. Even finding fragments of a document indicate the document was in existence at that time.

My quote from 1955 is relatively recent. Con has offered not later historical or archaeological evidence to counter any of the evidence that I offered. There I simply no reason to accept a later date (and even if you do, this does not make them unreliable).

As a matter of fact, the Gospels have been mentioned earlier than Con asserts. Con even mentions that Justin Martyr mentioned the Gospels in 150 A.D. (which is mid-, not late-second century). But that is clearly incorrect. In fact, Clement of Rome cited Matthew and John in 95 to 97 A.D., between 110 and 150 Polycarp quoted from all four Gospels, the Shepherd of Hermas cited Matthew and Mark (ca. 115-140), and Didache (ca. 120-150) referred to Matthew and Luke. [2]

Saying that the Q document exists because it is accepted by the majority of scholars is an appeal to authority, and an appeal to popularity. There is no evidence it exists, so the vast majority of scholars are most likely wrong in this case (especially if they have an agenda). I have shown much evidence as to why the Gospels are
reliable.

We know what Jesus was really saying because Mark recorded His words. We don’t know what else he might have said, only what Mark recorded in this instance. But as is recorded elsewhere, these are certainly not exhaustive accounts of Jesus’ words or deeds (John 20: 30, 31; John 21: 25).

In the passage provided, it is quite obvious the multitudes were not there. An obvious reading of the Scripture indicates that Jesus saw the multitudes, then went up into the mountains (presumably to get away from them for a bit), then their disciples found him and approached him. The disciples were the only ones present at the Sermon on the Mount.

It is obvious that Con is simply reading his presuppositions into the Gospels, rather than drawing out their intended meaning. Jesus’ ministry is commonly regarded as lasting three years. Even if only one Passover is mentioned in another Gospel, this does not mean He didn’t spend three Passovers in His ministry.

I think I have proven my case in spades (and much more could be said on the topic). The Gospels were clearly written by who they say they were, relatively close to Jesus’ death. It is very possible to reconstruct a historical narrative of Jesus. The Gospels are very much reliable (even if you place their writing later in the century).

[1] Geisler, Norman L., The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, p. 547.
[2] ibid., p. 530

Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by BurningTheStrawmen 5 years ago
BurningTheStrawmen
Because KeytarHero, Kenballer doesn't know how to keep things in the private messages.

Go away Ken. I know the idea of darkies- I mean gays marrying gets your jimmies rustled, but I won't do it.

Go. Away.
Posted by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
Why are you arguing this on this debate? This debate is not about gay marriage but about the historicity of the Gospels.
Posted by kenballer 5 years ago
kenballer
"Whether or not I could win this debate is irrelevant (though I could)."

Again, talk is cheap. If you really believe you have a right to marry your sister (oops I mean someone of the same sex. Hell what's the difference anyway right LOL) or you can successfully argue how your distorted, misguided, convoluted notion of equality, liberty , or civil rights has any sense of truth and basis in reality....

Then, either put it or just shut up
Posted by BurningTheStrawmen 5 years ago
BurningTheStrawmen
No Ken, I just don't see certain issues as 'debatable'. I won't speak of the rights of others as though they are simply things to peddle around a discussion table.

I don't debate creationists because I think they're a waste of time. I don't debate Holocaust deniers because I think they're a waste of time, and you'd need to get me drunk to talk about objectivism and Ayn Rand (and I don't get drunk). Whether or not I could win this debate is irrelevant (though I could). You're already getting your behind handed to you in that subject matter, so I won't beat a dead horse.

Either find something interesting to debate, or go away.
Posted by kenballer 5 years ago
kenballer
"there is no reason why the gov't should restrict the freedoms of others based on sexual orientation"

Well first off, I agree with this statement. The point of the debate is me showing how the state is NOT discriminating, restricting or denying rights and freedoms of others in the first place.

Second, if this comment that you made was mainly an excuse to pass off a debate you have no knowledge and interest doing, a simple not interested would have suffice

However, if the real reason you declined is because in your mind there is a civil right to gay so-called marriage that has already been in law and society and educated yourself on this constitutional issue, my answer is simply "Talk is cheap".

The very fact that you declined the debate topic and made a comment that specifically challenges the nature of your message shows that you have nothing to show for. A young naive upcoming debater like you does not know how to back up.

If thats how you go about challenges in life, what the hell are you doing on this site?
Posted by BurningTheStrawmen 5 years ago
BurningTheStrawmen
Due to character limits, I post my sources here:

Raymond Brown; An Introduction to the New Testament

Bart D. Ehrman; Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them)

L. Michael White; Scripting Jesus: the Gospels in Rewrite
Posted by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
Just a quick reminder that you have less than seven hours to post your argument.
Posted by BurningTheStrawmen 5 years ago
BurningTheStrawmen
O.o thought I changed it
Posted by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
That's all right. I'll just go ahead and accept.
Posted by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
It still says one week.
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