The Instigator
ApostateAbe
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points
The Contender
deonclintmoore
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The authors of the four gospels sourced from myths, not directly from eyewitnesses

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
ApostateAbe
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/10/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,398 times Debate No: 17457
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (2)

 

ApostateAbe

Pro

Resolution:

The authors of the four gospels sourced from myths, not directly from eyewitnesses.


To clarify, the authors of the gospels titled, "Matthew," "Mark," "Luke" and "John" were neither eyewitnesses nor had direct access to the testimony to eyewitnesses with respect to the events of the life of Jesus Christ, and the claims contained within their writings were sourced primariy from myths among Christians.

Definitions:


An "eyewitness" is someone who has directly observed the events pertaining to a claim in question.

A "myth" is a system of linguistic information (i.e. story) that is contained at one end of a long successively-branching and evolving chain of communication, either written, spoken or both.

For other definitions, I defer to http://oxforddictionaries.com...

Rules:

1. Round 1 is for acceptance.
2. The burden of proof is shared equally between the two of us. The most probable case (not the certain case) is the winning case.
3. Biblical texts qualify as legitimate sources, but the claims of the canon should not be assumed to be historically reliable. They will be treated roughly the same as other written sources from ancient history (either trustworthy or untrustworthy, as the evidences and sound arguments suggest).
deonclintmoore

Con

The gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John are their accounts of Historic events during and after their walk with Christ.
If any-one should know about what they are speaking it should be these men as well as the other Disciples. Perhaps we,(modern), man may question the truth but not the disciples. some things are true regardless if we wish to believe it or not.

The Synoptic Gospel:
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be accounted for by literary interdependence. Most scholars believe that these gospels share the same point of view and are clearly linked.[1] The term synoptic comes from the Greek syn, meaning "together", and optic, meaning "seen".[2]

According to the majority viewpoint, Mark was the first gospel written. Matthew and Luke then used Mark as a source, as well as a hypothetical sayings gospel known as Q. Matthew and Luke also included unique material, and the sources for this material are designated M and L, respectively.

The synoptic gospels are the primary source for historical information about Jesus.

From several points of view the same story comes to light. Can we simply believe that 3 different disciples fabricated three identical stories? I think not.

We are left to debate if the Bible is TRUE. If I am to put GOD on trail I choose not to and instead to have blind faith, that what is written is factual as well as important. The point that is critical though is not, if the bible is based upon myths, but quite frankly is GOD a MYTH? Circular Logic will never come close to any answer.

As far as the Synoptic Gospel it is as it is. We can speculate upon its validity but until we are able to prove that it, the GOSPEL/BIBLE, was a myth to start with then and only then will we be able to say that mythology was the basis of the Gospel. For if any part of it is not true then he entire thing is invalid.
Debate Round No. 1
ApostateAbe

Pro

Introduction

I welcome deonclintmoore to Debate.org, and I hope he has a positive experience.

Con supports the traditional doctrine that each of the gospel authors were written by their namesakes. Con said that they walked with Christ, which matches the traditional belief only roughly: the Christian tradition has it that only two of the gospel authors were reputedly disciples of Jesus (Matthew and John), and the other two were reputedly close associates of the disciples (Mark and Luke), not necessarily associates of Jesus (though potentially so).

On the other hand, I share the belief generally held among modern "critical" scholars, which is that the authors were neither eyewitnesses nor direct associates of the eyewitnesses.

There are many reasons for this critical position, and I list five of the reasons as follows:

1. The problem of language and education
2. The problem of lack of self-referencing
3. The problem of miracles
4. The synoptic problem
5. The problem of literary seams of John

Each of these five problems is a problem for the traditional hypothesis, but they each find a solution in the hypothesis that the gospels were sourced from Christian myths. I describe each problem in detail below.

1. The problem of language and education

We know from the gospels that Jesus and his disciples spoke Aramaic as their primary language (see Mark 5:41, 7:34, 11:9, 14:36, 15:34, Matthew 5:18, 5:22, 27:6, 27:46, Luke 1:6, 1:15, 16:9-13, and John 20:16). The canonical gospels, on the other hand, are written exclusively in the language of fluent speakers [1] of Koine Greek. Since Jesus and his disciples were rural Galileans (i.e. Mark 14:70), it is unlikely (and unevidenced) that they spoke Greek as a second language.

The critical hypothesis expects this evidence, because we know that Christianity became most popular primarily among Greek speakers, not Aramaic speakers, in the first century and onward, as the remainder of the canon and the writings of the 2nd-century church fathers are composed in that language.

I would like to know how Con explains this problem. For example, one apologetic proposal is that the gospel authors spent many years of their lives learning Greek before writing the gospels. For any proposed solution, Con should show its probability, not just its possibility.

2. The problem of lack of self-referencing

It has always been a well-known problem that the gospel authors do not identify themselves by name in their own writings. The earliest evidence of attribution of the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to the respective gospels are in the second century.

But, the problem goes well beyond the lack of self-naming. If the gospels were eyewitness accounts, then we would expect that, at least occasionally, the author identifies or alludes to his own role in the narrative, such as by writing with a singular first-person pronoun ("I" or "me"). For example, we strongly expect the author to sometimes write something like "Jesus said to me..."

This consistency of the gospel style of narration is not expected of an eyewitness account. However, it is strongly expected of ancient Greco-Roman biographies that are sourced from myths, such as those of Plutarch, Suetonius and Tacitus. Such authors were not part of the narrative, so the lack of first-person pronouns is fully expected.

To be fair, the book of Acts is thought by critical scholars to be written by the same author as the gospel of Luke, and, though it does not use a singular first person pronoun ("I" or "me"), it does make plentiful use of plural first person pronouns ("we" and "us"). With no "I" or "me" in either Luke or Acts, but "we" many times in Acts, it is a problem that demands a solution, and the best solution seems be that "we" is the vestige of sourcing from a written itinerary of the journey of Paul [2]. This source would indeed be an eyewitness account. Unfortunately, neither Acts nor this speculated source concerns the life of Jesus, and the resolution stands.

3. The problem of miracles

The gospels contain many attestations to miracles and other unlikely attestations to suit the interests of Christian authors and their audience, but miracles are simply not expected of eyewitness accounts. However, they are expected of myths. For example, the ancient accounts of Alexander the Great, Apollonius of Tyana, and Pythagorus all contained miracles and were all sourced from myths, not eyewitnesses. This argument is not merely an argument from personal incredulity, but it is based on the patterns of history and the modern age.

4. The synoptic problem

Con, to his credit, has discussed the synoptic problem, and I affirm that Matthew and Luke each used prior written sources of Mark and Q. This solution is a strong difficulty for the hypothesis of eyewitness sourcing, because ancient eyewitnesses seemingly never did such a thing. Neither Hannibal nor Pliny nor Suetonius nor Marcus Aurelius nor Horace nor Caesar nor Cicero nor Juvenal nor the Apostle Paul nor any other confirmed eyewitness author ever used prior written sources to borrow the old text for his own new account. It would be greatly unexpected, because it simply would not be necessary.

It is, however, expected of myth. For example, per the well-established Documentary Hypothesis, it is almost universally accepted among Old Testament scholars that the non-eyewitness myths contained in the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers each sourced from prior written texts. [3]

5. The problem of literary seams of John

"John" is reputed by tradition to be a core disciple, but this author, too, very seemingly sourced from prior written texts, weaving at least three different texts together into one account. Among the many solid arguments for this, the strongest is the presence of many apparent "literary seams." Since the details of the argument would be lengthy and Con is already willing to admit prior sourcing of written texts by eyewitness authors, I will leave out the details. If Con strongly objects, then I can describe the argument in a later round. Otherwise, the arguments are described on pages 164-166 of reference [1].

Conclusion

There are other solid arguments for the non-eyewitness mythical sourcing of the gospels, such as the serious contradictions, the problem of the dialogue with Pilate, and the evolving theological perspectives of the gospels. But, the five arguments alone, described above in detail, provide a strong case against the hypothesis of direct eyewitness sourcing of the gospels, in favor of the hypothesis of sourcing from myths. If Con would prefer to focus heavily on only a subset of these arguments, of his own choosing, let's say only three of these arguments instead of all five, then that will be acceptable to me, and I hope the voters will be equally generous. I have strong confidence in all five arguments, and I am willing to grant Con the advantage.

References

[1] Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 3rd edition, 2004, pp. 58-59.
[2] Martin Dibelius, "The Acts of the Apostles as an Historical Source," in Studies in the Acts of the Apostles, 1956, p. 104.
[3] Richard E. Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible?, 1987.
deonclintmoore

Con

GOSPEL-
1. The teaching or revelation of Christ.
2. A thing that is absolutely true.

A think that is absolutely true According to Matthew

Tradition of the old/Old testament is revealed in what is new according to Matthew. Man generations have passed long from the old Testament to the birth of Christ. While Pro states that much have been lost in translation, he is wrong. Gods word is every ones word. It is told at many years ago during the time of Babel all Men spoke the same and the word was with all. Then something happened," Let us Go and Confuse and divide man". While this is not the word per word translation of what is written the General meaning is the same.

A thing that is gospel is true regardless of what language it is spoken or written in. The Identity of God never changes. The same yesterday as today.

Sources

When Matthew decided to write down what he had learn during his walk with Jesus we know this much.
(a) He must had bee part of the Learned or educated crowd.
This is important because many during that part of history was neither learned and like wise would have only spoken about what they had observed.

Also as far as pro suggesting that every thing was simply made up this is a fallacy. Matthew had several sources from Mark. Like wise perhaps Mark had his sources also. It seems plausible that if a man was healing and performing miracles several people would speak about it. And equally plausible it wold have been a crowd writing to disprove as well as disprove what had been said.

The Truth is hidden

In conclusion I have used Matthew and in the other arguments I shall expound farther upon the point of view of Matthew. His structure seems to be the most accurate and organized.

Often what we seek is hidden before us. In art, nature, and word either spoken or written. In the end it is up to the person to find their way and also the path to the truth. I believe that the truth is one made up of infinitely many paths.

What the Gospel tells is just how some found the truth while many others failed to find it.
Debate Round No. 2
ApostateAbe

Pro


Introduction


I thank Con for his continued participation. I will offer rebuttals to his introductory points, and I expect in the following rounds that Con will offer worthy rebuttals to my points in Round 2. I will quote Con in italics below.


Rebuttals


While Pro states that much have been lost in translation, he is wrong. Gods word is every ones word. It is told at many years ago during the time of Babel all Men spoke the same and the word was with all. Then something happened," Let us Go and Confuse and divide man". While this is not the word per word translation of what is written the General meaning is the same.


A thing that is gospel is true regardless of what language it is spoken or written in. The Identity of God never changes. The same yesterday as today.


It is not my wish to denigrate the religious faith of Con. Unfortunately, however, assertions resting entirely on trust in religious traditions do not have significant authority in this particular debate, regardless of the soundness of interpretations of Scriptures.


I would like to call Con’s attention to the third rule that I listed in Round 1: “Biblical texts qualify as legitimate sources, but the claims of the canon should not be assumed to be historically reliable. They will be treated roughly the same as other written sources from ancient history (either trustworthy or untrustworthy, as the evidences and sound arguments suggest).”


If Con overlooked that rule when he accepted the contention, then I am afraid that he is in a tough present situation. Either he may argue without resting on religious assumptions or he may forfeit the debate.


Also as far as pro suggesting that every thing was simply made up this is a fallacy.


In fact, I never made such a suggestion, nor do I believe it. I accept the point that not everything in the gospels was made up, much the same way as not everything in Flavius Philostratus’ The Life of Apollonius was made up, though this biography, also, attributes to the hero a miraculous birth, the status as the Son of God, prophecies, miraculous healings, casting out demons, raising the dead, and his own resurrection [4]. Very probably, there was an actual historical Apollonius who roughly fit the profile and many details of the mythical account, and it is even more certain that there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth who fit the rough profile and many details of Jesus Christ in the gospels.


The misunderstanding may emerge from my use of the word, “myth,” in the resolution. The word may imply, to many English speakers, that an account is primarily or entirely false. This is not what I mean, because the scholarly definition is slightly different, and I anticipated this misunderstanding. I call attention again to Round 1, where I presented the definition of “myth”: “A ‘myth’ is a system of linguistic information (i.e. story) that is contained at one end of a long successively-branching and evolving chain of communication, either written, spoken or both.” Using this definition, a “myth” does not necessarily entail complete falsehood.


It seems plausible that if a man was healing and performing miracles several people would speak about it. And equally plausible it wold have been a crowd writing to disprove as well as disprove what had been said.


Assuming that miracles were performed, it is certainly plausible that people would write about it. However, the premise of historical miracles is perhaps the most implausible hypothesis that we can imagine, almost by the definition of “miracle,” and it should not be merely accepted as a premise without very good arguments. As I described in Problem #3 of Round 2, miracles are far more expected of myths than eyewitness accounts, and I gave several ancient examples to that effect. Con may address the proposed problem of miracles in his next round.


The remainder of the points again seems to assume trust in Christian Scriptures, and I hope this error can be corrected in future rounds. I wish Con all the best.


Reference


[4] Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 3rd edition, 2004, pp. 19-20.


deonclintmoore

Con

deonclintmoore forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
ApostateAbe

Pro

Strike 1.
deonclintmoore

Con

deonclintmoore forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
ApostateAbe

Pro

Strike 2, and...
deonclintmoore

Con

deonclintmoore forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
ReformedArsenal, I have a new debate on this same topic waiting for someone like you.
Posted by ReformedArsenal 5 years ago
ReformedArsenal
"Since Jesus and his disciples were rural Galileans (i.e. Mark 14:70), it is unlikely (and unevidenced) that they spoke Greek as a second language."

Not according to Craig Blomberg in "Jesus and the Gospels." He argues that it is likely, due to the heavy Hellenization of Palestine in that time, that Jesus as well as the Disciples would have had to speak Greek in order to conduct business. In addition, the LXX was in Greek and was heavily used during that time period. Also, the trade language of the Roman Empire would have been Greek, and so it would be almost a given that if the author of Matthew was the tax collecter Disciple, he would have been nearly fluent in Greek.
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
deonclintmoore, I understood you fine, so no worries.
Posted by deonclintmoore 5 years ago
deonclintmoore
my key-board bad. Look past the eors but the general meaning is the same
Posted by ApostateAbe 5 years ago
ApostateAbe
If you are curious, you can view the contents of the first reference, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, on Amazon.com if you have an account, at this link: http://www.amazon.com...

Sign in, hover your cursor over the image of the book cover, and go to "Search this book."
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
RoyLatham
ApostateAbedeonclintmooreTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: I learned things from Pro's case -- some very good arguments. Unfortunately, Con barely showed up for the debate, and even that didn't last long. Pro's arguments were not addressed; Con only argued from faith. Pro provided good references -- although with a tough opponent, more would have been needed in R1. Con loses conduct for the forfeits.
Vote Placed by Meatros 5 years ago
Meatros
ApostateAbedeonclintmooreTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Con FF.