Confirmed: Atheists more motivated by compassion in charitable giving than believers are; Update: Numbers added

posted at 10:15 pm on May 1, 2012 by Allahpundit

First nonbelief is linked to analytic thinking, now this. So that’s why people hate atheists. We’re too darned smart and soulful.

Obama’s been spiking the football all day. Now it’s my turn. Picture me pointing at the computer screen, performing an impromptu Ickey Shuffle, and then slamming that pigskin to the ground so hard that it knocks the money out of my wallet and straight into your favorite charity’s donation box. Touchdown.

That doesn’t mean highly religious people don’t give, according to the research to be published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. But compassion seems to drive religious people’s charitable feelings less than it other groups.

“Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” study co-author and University of California, Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer said in a statement. “The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.”…

In the first study, Saslow and her colleagues analyzed data from a national survey of more than 1,300 American adults taken in 2004. They found that compassionate attitudes were linked with how many generous behaviors a person was likely to report. But this link was strongest in people who were atheists or only slightly religious, compared with people who were more strongly religious.

In a second experiment, 101 adults were shown either a neutral video or an emotional video about children in poverty. They were then given 10 fake dollars and told they could give as much as they liked to a stranger. Those who were less religious gave more when they saw the emotional video first.

As usual with these studies about religion, the headline is irresistibly sexy — you’d be excused for thinking at a glance that it was claiming atheists are more compassionate — and then when you read the fine print the reality is more mundane. The study’s not saying that atheists are more compassionate, it’s saying that atheist charitable giving depends more heavily on actually feeling compassion for the victim than believers’ giving does. The believer may tithe or may decide that, as a matter of religious duty, he/she should set aside a certain amount of income to be donated among various charities. In that case, the motive is more an aspiration to behave virtuously than to satisfy some swelling of sympathy. For most (but not all) nonbelievers, I suspect, it’s sympathy that’s the key trigger. That’s how it is for me: I give generously when I feel moved to do so but I don’t set out to spend a specific aggregate amount annually. I do need to feel moved, though. Assuming most other atheists are like me, that means our pattern of giving is more volatile than a believer’s is likely to be, and that in turn probably means that believers are more likely on average to give. (Studies seem to bear this out.) I’d be curious to know, though, whether the amount of the average atheist donation is greater than the amount of the average believer’s donation. If it’s true that sympathy is more important to us, I’d expect that flush of emotion might drive us to give more when we do choose to donate. But since we’re probably donating less frequently than believers do, it may well be that we end up giving less annually in total than believers anyway. Anyone know of any numbers to confirm or challenge those assumptions? I can’t find any with quickie googling.

Update: John McCormack of the Standard e-mails with a link to this Arthur Brooks piece from 2003. The numbers are … not good:

The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent to 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent to 44 percent). And, consistent with the findings of other writers, these data show that practicing a religion is more important than the actual religion itself in predicting charitable behavior. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92 percent of Protestants give charitably, compared with 91 percent of Catholics, 91 percent of Jews, and 89 percent from other religions…

Charity differences between religious and secular people persist if we look at the actual amounts of donations and volunteering. Indeed, measures of the dollars given and occasions volunteered per year produce a yawning gap between the groups. The average annual giving among the religious is $2,210, whereas it is $642 among the secular. Similarly, religious people volunteer an average of 12 times per year, while secular people volunteer an average of 5.8 times. To put this into perspective, religious people are 33 percent of the population but make 52 percent of donations and 45 percent of times volunteered. Secular people are 26 percent of the population but contribute 13 percent of the dollars and 17 percent of the times volunteered.

These differences hardly change when we consider them in isolation from the other demographics, using a statistical technique called tobit regression. Religious practice by itself is associated with $1,388 more given per year than we would expect to see from a secular person (with the same political views, income, education, age, race, and other characteristics), as well as with 6.5 more occasions of volunteering.


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Objectivity is just what we bitter clingers refer to as common sense.

+1

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Both of those say the same thing… your article isn’t about how much charity is given, or when… but “why”. Why else would an atheist give? if there is no “higher” moral code, you wouldn’t give based on a higher moral code…

And parents of small children are more likely to give money to their children under the guise of the “tooth fairy” than single adults without children.

This is newsworthy? People without a motivation aren’t moved by that motivation.

That’s why, as an agnostic; I like religious people…. or at the very least at least I don’t try to persuade people their religion is wrong.

From what i can see, and from what I’ve seen religious people tend to have rules that they at least minimally try to follow for social good and to limit their bad behaviors. And religious requirements that are, by and large, beneficial for society.

Now pretend we could “make everyone atheist”… and remove those limits on their worst behavior, and replace those limits with… NOTHING.

So I can have a rational, logical, jackhole who I agree with philosophically… or a decent person who keeps themselves in check and helps society overall for a reason I don’t believe is correct.

Why would I willingly work to make sure there are more jerks in the world… do we have a shortage?

gekkobear on May 2, 2012 at 12:29 PM

That’s where Ayn Rand screwed up. Objectivity is just what we bitter clingers refer to as common sense. Making that into a religion theology belief system and calling yourself an “Objectivist” turns its practitioners into what they claim to hate most: subjectivists. But, just as with the more economically illiterate version of liberals, the Objectologists’ own claim to personal perfection makes them incapable of seeing the gaping hole in their “logic.”

logis on May 2, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Ayn Rand was little more than a selfish Nietzschan hero worshiper, no more than a middlebrow Nietzschean and a lousy writer too boot.

Comprehension of market economics seems at times the only advantage Objectivists have over their Progressive kin.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 12:33 PM

gekkobear on May 2, 2012 at 12:29 PM

.

Wise man that gekkobear :-)

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 12:36 PM

you:

I don’t care if you;re an atheist.
Just leave me the eff alone & stop trying to eliminate God from the world.
Go by the US Const if you live here & it’s fine.

Badger40 on May 1, 2012 at 10:45 PM

me:
I don’t care if you are a Believer.
Just leave me the eff alone & stop trying to create God in the world.

Go by the US Const if you live here & it’s fine.

Furthermore, I think the ten commandments are good words to live by no matter where you believe they came from.

I just love these threads – thanks Allah!

Ann on May 2, 2012 at 12:39 PM

FWIW I left the Catholic church when I realized that much of what I had been taught was true-and-not-to-be-questioned was in fact the product of Medieval politics and economics (and sometimes well-intentioned, pious, earnest theology), but all human-derived nonetheless.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 12:08 PM

.
One might suggest a deeper second look: I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 12:42 PM

The Passover, for one. There is a TON of Messianic prefiguring in the Seder. For a start, it’s all about deliverance from oppression. Hello?!?

There are three matzoh on the table, which can represent mind, body, and spirit, or thought, word, and deed, or Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. During the Seder, the middle matzoh (body / Word / Son) is broken(!) and hidden away for a child to find. (“Unless you became as little children…”) Note too how the matzoh itself is striped and pierced (cf. Isaiah, “He was pierced for our transgressions, by His stripes we are healed”).

It’s no accident that the Last Supper was a Seder. I wish more Christians would celebrate it.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 12:00 PM

I understand what you are saying about Passover, but I did intentionally use the terms “improperly” and “religiously”.

Gentiles are under no obligation from God to have any set view on honoring Jewish traditions – Passover was a Jewish tradition, not a Gentile one, for the very good reason that it pertained to Jews! Why should Gentiles, who have a different cultural background than Jews, revere it the same way, especially when considering how Gentiles already think about Easter?

Cleombrotus might have a different angle than you on this matter.

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Since I assume you don’t believe that Gentile Christians should be religiously concerned with animal sacrifices, or circumcision, or honoring the Sabbath on Saturdays, or celebrating Passover, etc., how exactly do you believe Gentile Christians have been improperly severed from the Jewish roots of Christianity?
Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 11:51 AM

As an example, when’s the last time you heard a sermon using Midrash as a means of uncovering the symbolism in the text?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 12:45 PM

When Jesus said, ” If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46) what did He mean?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Well, now you know. I’m always amused when non-believers start pontificating about how they thing God should operate. I get an image of a cracked jar on a shelf lecturing to the potter. :-)

FWIW I left the Catholic church when I realized that much of what I had been taught was true-and-not-to-be-questioned was in fact the product of Medieval politics and economics (and sometimes well-intentioned, pious, earnest theology), but all human-derived nonetheless.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 12:08 PM

It’s not a sin to have a sense of humor, or to work on one, is it?

I feel I should tell you that I was being silly when I told you I wasn’t aware that what I said was silly, just as I feel I should tell you that I find it silly that you humorlessly jumped to the conclusion that I’m a non-believer!

Overreligiousness and overseriousness are incongruent with fun, aren’t they? :)

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 12:56 PM

I don’t care if you are a Believer.
Just leave me the eff alone & stop trying to create God in the world.
Go by the US Const if you live here & it’s fine.
Furthermore, I think the ten commandments are good words to live by no matter where you believe they came from.
I just love these threads – thanks Allah!
Ann on May 2, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Ann, have you noticed that it’s those whose Party is the philosophical home of most God-haters that are most involved in undermining the principles inherent in the Constitution?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 12:57 PM

As an example, when’s the last time you heard a sermon using Midrash as a means of uncovering the symbolism in the text?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 12:49 PM

When Jesus said, ” If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46) what did He mean?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 12:52 PM

This is why I asked, because now I know what you mean!

From a textual/doctrinal pov, you’re right, most Gentiles are woefully uneducated about Christianity’s Jewish roots. From my pov, it’s not a big deal that they are ignorant like that, in the the sense that Christianity’s main thrust is to love yourself and others, and having a good understanding of the Bible is in no way necessary to behave in that manner.

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 1:09 PM

From a textual/doctrinal pov, you’re right, most Gentiles are woefully uneducated about Christianity’s Jewish roots. From my pov, it’s not a big deal that they are ignorant like that, in the the sense that Christianity’s main thrust is to love yourself and others, and having a good understanding of the Bible is in no way necessary to behave in that manner.
Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Perhaps not but don’t diminish the necessity to have a firm and concise understanding of the Bible, particularly since Jesus Himself placed such an emphasis on it.

You’ll recall that when He was asked what the signs of the close of the age would be, the first thing He emphasized was avoiding being deceived and subsequently went on to warn four times as much of the increase in false teachings and false teachers in the Church than any other indicator.

As in any other discipline, the source codes are fundamental to an accurate understanding.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 1:19 PM

the the sense that Christianity’s main thrust is to love yourself and others,

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Here I have to disagree with you, my friend. That is NOT Christianity’s main thrust and it most definitely is NOT Christ’s main teaching.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 1:28 PM

the the sense that Christianity’s main thrust is to love yourself and others,

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 1:09 PM

There are many religions that have a variant on the golden rule, and it did not originate in Christianity.

The central thrust to Christianity is that you’re a sinner and you need to accept Jesus as your personal savior in order to prevent an eternity in hell for your soul after your Earthly life.

The end.

Good Lt on May 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Charming, indeed. But that’s not an example of compassion.

It is.

Your statement was just wrong. Time to own up to it.

Good Lt on May 2, 2012 at 1:31 PM

From a textual/doctrinal pov, you’re right, most Gentiles are woefully uneducated about Christianity’s Jewish roots. From my pov, it’s not a big deal that they are ignorant like that, in the the sense that Christianity’s main thrust is to love yourself and others, and having a good understanding of the Bible is in no way necessary to behave in that manner.

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 1:09 PM

.

Perhaps you will want to rethink those propositions as Christianity’s main thrust is summarized in the Jewish Shema:

.

Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.

.

And in the Second Greatest commandment:

Matthew 22:36-40

New International Version (NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 1:35 PM

That’s where Ayn Rand screwed up. Objectivity is just what we bitter clingers refer to as common sense. Making that into a religion theology belief system and calling yourself an “Objectivist” turns its practitioners into what they claim to hate most: subjectivists. But, just as with the more economically illiterate version of liberals, the Objectologists’ own claim to personal perfection makes them incapable of seeing the gaping hole in their “logic.”

logis on May 2, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Good post.

Before I knew about Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, in high school I considered myself an small “o” objectivist for the precise reason you mention – common sense/logical thought brought me to that point.

My first encounter with Randian Objectivism later came through an acquaintance, of whom I asked how an atheist like Ayn Rand could be considered to be a true objectivist if God actually did exist, something which had not been rationally disproven. The point went completely over his head, like I’ve since found it does with so many of the people who operate with her belief system – intellectual accuracy and humility are not some of their strong points! :)

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 1:47 PM

I don’t care if you;re an atheist.
Just leave me the eff alone & stop trying to eliminate God from the world.
Go by the US Const if you live here & it’s fine.

Badger40 on May 1, 2012 at 10:45 PM

How is it people who hang out on political-based websites don’t know anything bout the Constitution? The Constitution restricts government, not people; the Constitution applies to government, not people.

Dante on May 2, 2012 at 1:53 PM

Perhaps not but don’t diminish the necessity to have a firm and concise understanding of the Bible, particularly since Jesus Himself placed such an emphasis on it.

You’ll recall that when He was asked what the signs of the close of the age would be, the first thing He emphasized was avoiding being deceived and subsequently went on to warn four times as much of the increase in false teachings and false teachers in the Church than any other indicator.

As in any other discipline, the source codes are fundamental to an accurate understanding.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 1:19 PM

I don’t believe that people should be as concerned with underemphasizing Biblical knowledge as they should be with overemphasizing it.

Paul in Romans 2 points out that everyone knows what’s moral whether they’ve heard the name Jesus or not, as morality is written in their hearts, and that they’ll be judged by their consciences – Paul makes it clear that knowledge of the Bible is not required for an understanding of how to love yourself and others.

Here I have to disagree with you, my friend. That is NOT Christianity’s main thrust and it most definitely is NOT Christ’s main teaching.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 1:28 PM

If Christianity’s main thrust is not love, what then is it?

Matthew 22:36-40:
(36) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?
(37) And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’
(38) This is the great and foremost commandment.
(39) The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’
(40) On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

So, Jesus was not saying there that the whole Law is based upon love of yourself and others? [unless you believe that God isn't a person, God is part of "others", correct?]

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 2:14 PM

My first encounter with Randian Objectivism later came through an acquaintance, of whom I asked how an atheist like Ayn Rand could be considered to be a true objectivist if God actually did exist, something which had not been rationally disproven. The point went completely over his head, like I’ve since found it does with so many of the people who operate with her belief system – intellectual accuracy and humility are not some of their strong points! :)
Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 1:47 PM

The craziest Muslim extremist in the world at least comprehends that he HAS beliefs; he simply thinks that the rest of us all worship false and evil Gods.

The Atheist wilfully severs that last tiny thread back to the concept of an objective reality. He denies that his beliefs are beliefs; his beliefs all magically become “reality” solely due to the fact that he happens to believe them.

Every belief system in the world includes, of necessity, some element of intolerance toward the beliefs of others. Now, the exact DEGREE of intolerance varies a great deal; but some sense of intransigence must always exist, whether you’re talking about Christianity, string theory, Communism, Islam, or any other belief system — save one.

Atheism is different from every other belief system in that it consists of absolutely nothing BESIDES intolerance toward the beliefs of others. That’s why Atheists can support capitalism, universal welfare and genocide with equal vehemence; they have no core to fall back on.

logis on May 2, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Good Lt on May 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Close, but no cigar.

The central tenet of Christianity is Who. Jesus. Is.

And nothing more.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:47 PM

So, Jesus was not saying there that the whole Law is based upon love of yourself and others? [unless you believe that God isn't a person, God is part of "others", correct?]

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 2:14 PM

.

Indeed Yeshua was not saying the whole law is based upon loving ourselves foremost (as in Objectivism). It is based primarily upon loving YHWH. Secondarily its similar to our primary love of YHWH, love of some one beyond our self. Our love of our neighbor should be as great as our love of our self. Unlike Objectivism, the primary focus of our love in Yeshua’s teaching someone else. It is not self centered. It is not s-e-l-f-i-s-h. It is otherish if I may coin a term.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 2:47 PM

There are many religions that have a variant on the golden rule, and it did not originate in Christianity.

Yep. So…?

The central thrust to Christianity is that you’re a sinner and you need to accept Jesus as your personal savior in order to prevent an eternity in hell for your soul after your Earthly life.

The end.

Good Lt on May 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

“The end”? LOL come one now!

Your synopsis may be true insofar as Christianity’s stance on the need for Jesus as Saviour, but considering how many thousands of sects of Christianity there are, with their varying interpretations of critical ideas within it, like original sin and Hell for example, I say that your sypnosis is unarticulated to the the point that it’s effectively meaningless.

I’ll easily demonstrate what I am saying: I believe that God doesn’t coercively send anyone to Hell, but those who go there do so because they freely chose to go. How does a view like mind jibe with the stereotypical atheist picture, which paints God as a heartless meanie who will throw sinners into the flames over their protestations? As a related aside, not every Christian believes in an eternal Hell. So, it’s a strawmannish to portray all Christians as adherents to certain, invariable positions on Hell.

Looking at what I just truthfully pointed out about differing views of Hell within Christianity, the question then becomes, why do atheists who would misrepresent Christianity as a monolith about Hell (as they do about pretty much every other aspect of Christianity as well) do so? Have an answer for that, Good Lt? :)

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 2:57 PM

I meant, “LOL come one, now!”

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 3:01 PM

I’ll easily demonstrate what I am saying: I believe that God doesn’t coercively send anyone to Hell, but those who go there do so because they freely chose to go. How does a view like mind mine jibe with the stereotypical atheist picture, which paints God as a heartless meanie who will throw sinners into the flames over their protestations? As a related aside, not every Christian believes in an eternal Hell. So, it’s a strawmannish to portray all Christians as adherents to certain, invariable positions on Hell. Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 2:57 PM

.
What you believe then is consistent with orthodox 21st century Christian belief in general and with the Catholic Magisterium in particular.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 3:17 PM

Paul in Romans 2 points out that everyone knows what’s moral whether they’ve heard the name Jesus or not, as morality is written in their hearts, and that they’ll be judged by their consciences – Paul makes it clear that knowledge of the Bible is not required for an understanding of how to love yourself and others.

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Correct. That is why it’s not the Bible’s central point. That we should love one another even a guy like John Lennon could figure out for himself.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Correct. That is why it’s not the Bible’s central point. That we should love one another even a guy like John Lennon could figure out for himself.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 3:26 PM

.
But he didn’t figure it out for himself. He inherited that wisdom from over a thousand years of accommodated human capital built up by Christianity in England. Another two or three generations and post-Christian Britain may well look like a Nietzschean nightmare wonderland.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 11:35 AM

To capitalize jesus is to give him a level of importance and legitimacy that I don’t believe he is deserving of.
As I’ve said-my husband is a wonderful Calvinist guy. We agree to disagree.

annoyinglittletwerp on May 2, 2012 at 3:43 PM

I look forward to the day when Allpha doesn’t proselytize his Atheism.

aigle on May 2, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Bizarro, I left out the smiley after “Well, now you know.” It was intended with a wink and a grin, not a humorless scold. Sorry for the confusion.

Christians are Gentiles, but we are Gentiles who have inherited a Jewish tradition that is very instructive.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. Come talk to me again after you’ve faced down death.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 9:37 AM

I’m a cancer survivor, I have faced down death… and I’m an atheist… go figure?

And I’m not a preachy atheist tyring to make people non-believers. I respect people’s religious beliefs, and respect the good works of churches, I just don’t personally believe it. And I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school, and have read the Bible extensively from both a religious and historical perspective… being a student of ancient history as a pasttime, the Bible is a fascinating read in a historical and political context of it’s time.

gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 4:16 PM

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Sorry for my late reply but I had a medical appointment that lasted longer than anticipated.

I do not agree with you position that the Gospel writers were eye witnesses to events that should have left a trace with both the Romans and the Jews. Paul, who supposedly started writing in the early forties never even heard of these apostles nor with the important events described in the gospels; virgin birth, feeding the masses on the mount etc. These events came into being with the Gospels, the earliest probably being Marc with the others copying 80% of Marc and adding on the mythological stuff like the virgin birth.

The Catholic Encyclopedia admits as to the late date for Luke. In fact the author of uke sent it to Theophilos, bishop of Antioch. He was bishop fro 169 to 177, which would place Luke in Methuselah category if he was an eye witness. A lot of Luke was borrowed from the Gnostic Gospel of Marcion. There are many other problems with Luke.

The other Gospels also have their problems. At the time where all these events were going on with the proposed Christ, the Romans were building the city of Tiberius in that same area. With all these Romans running around it is indeed that the supposed supernatural goings on went unnoticed by the Romans.

It takes a lot of faith to believe the Jesus story. However it is not a historical tale insofar as the proposed Jesus and his disciples are concerned.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:21 PM

I think the best Jewish source of 1st Century Jewish perspective I can find is still the Gospel of John. Twerp, the author of that book WAS THERE! He was an EYE-WITNESS!

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:42 AM

An honest question here, not a “gotcha” attempt…

To what author are you refering as being “there” at what time period? The general consensus among biblical scholars is that the Gospel of John was written sometime around 90-100 A.D. But you may be referring to witness of the Jewish perspective in the 1st Century rather than the author being a witness to the events themselves that are described in the Gospel of John.

gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 4:26 PM

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 11:35 AM

To capitalize jesus is to give him a level of importance and legitimacy that I don’t believe he is deserving of.
As I’ve said-my husband is a wonderful Calvinist guy. We agree to disagree.

annoyinglittletwerp on May 2, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Jesus is a personal name, a proper noun. In standard English grammar proper nouns are capitalized.

Denying any person such a minimal human decency as customary in accordance with standards of English grammar no doubt reflects the pettiness of the writer.

One is further left to wonder whether the writer similarly chooses to diss other historical personages by choosing not to capitalize the proper names of say;
Lenin,
Stalin,
Mao
Pol Pol
Muhammad,
Genghis Khan,
Tojo … ?

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 4:32 PM

A 2000 year old faith, complete with its own unique story, symbology, thousands of surviving comtemporary documents, BIL’s of adherents, myriad attestations, and a 2000 year old contiguous Sunday tradition – ALL based on the death of a flash-in-the-pan ghetto preacher from the Jewish slave class – is ‘no real historical trace’ in your eyes? It seems we’ve arrived at the root of the problem then, haven’t we? I can’t imagine what you’ll tell me next. I’m sure it will be equally amusing.

Abiss on May 2, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Perhaps in 2632 your descendants will be using reasoning like this to sing the praises of Allah. You don’t need a real person to start a myth. Remember Horus, Mithra etc. They each had virgin births and 12 followers and a lot of other things common to the Christ story.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:32 PM

The Catholic Encyclopedia admits as to the late date for Luke. In fact the author of (L)uke sent it to Theophilos, bishop of Antioch. He was bishop fro 169 to 177, which would place Luke in Methuselah category if he was an eye witness. A lot of Luke was borrowed from the Gnostic Gospel of Marcion. There are many other problems with Luke.
Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:21 PM

.
This is nonsense. No competent 21st century Biblical scholar dates the Gospel of Luke to the later half of the 2nd century. None.

There is internal evidence in the Gospel of Luke dating its authorship before the Fall of Jerusalem in 70AD. Furthermore Theophilos is a title used to address certain officials in the Imperial Roman Court and far more likely in this instance refers to a special investigator/judge in Nero’s Imperial service in Rome.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 4:32 PM

You are right. If someone wants to make the point about J. C. being a false messiah it would be better to write christ, since that word means messiah, (christos in Greek) and should not be considered a proper name.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Atheism is different from every other belief system in that it consists of absolutely nothing BESIDES intolerance toward the beliefs of others. That’s why Atheists can support capitalism, universal welfare and genocide with equal vehemence; they have no core to fall back on.

logis on May 2, 2012 at 2:41 PM

I have to disagree on that point, very strongly so. At least, I disagree to the extent that this is a universal truth for all atheists.

I have a completely opposite outlook as an atheist, and can therefore say with 100% certainty that your statement is not 100% true of all atheists. I personally believe as an atheist that I can tolerate ALL religions equally for the very reason that I have no vested interest in any of them. I therefore have no bias to either favor or disfavor one religion over another.

gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 4:45 PM

That’s a he said Rome said argument. Others, not affiliated with the whore of Rome agree with her dates.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:56 PM

Well, there are two schools of thought on the date of the Gospels, obviously. Non-believers want to claim late dates because it buttresses their belief that it’s all made-up stuff.

But there are good arguments for early authorship. The Ryland fragment of John dates to within a century of its origin. Yes, Mark was likely the first Gospel written, and the other Synoptics clearly borrowed from him. Luke added a great deal of original material. The fact that we have all of Luke and Acts, plus nearly the rest of the Canon, all collected in the 3rd-century Sinai Codex doesn’t bode well for the late-authorship argument.

Luke’s “Theophilus” could have been the emperor, but more likely was merely a “Dear Reader” address – “Theophilus” after all literally means “Lover of God.” And would Luke have addressed the Emperor simply as “My dear Theophilus” rather than the leng-winded salutations we typically see in Royal dedications?

The argument “Why didn’t the Romans take note” is answered by Pilate’s washing his hands of Jesus’ blood – he saw it as a religious squabble among the ungovernable Jewish rabble. Why should they have taken note? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Let’s look at a timeline. Jesus’ earthly ministry ended in CE 30.
Paul may well have been the young man holding the cloaks of the mob stoning Stephen around CE 45. Within five years or so, Paul is preaching that Christ Crucified and Risen is the cornerstone of Christian belief. He goes to Jerusalem to meet the apostles, and they agree that they’re all talking about the same Jesus.

None of the NT writers mention the destruction of the Temple in CE 70. The composition of the Gospels from the living memory of eyewitnesses is entirely reasonable.

Furthermore, Paul’s writings in the 50′s show that the Resurrection was the central pin of Christian doctrine. How did that belief take hold? I made a study of that some time ago. Of the five main hypotheses – fiction, conspiracy, mass hysteria, tomb revival, or it-really-happened, it seems to me that the last one has the bet fist with the evidence and requires the least suspension of disbelief. (No time for more details now, sorry.)

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Every belief system in the world includes, of necessity, some element of intolerance toward the beliefs of others. Now, the exact DEGREE of intolerance varies a great deal; but some sense of intransigence must always exist, whether you’re talking about Christianity, string theory, Communism, Islam, or any other belief system — save one.

Atheism is different from every other belief system in that it consists of absolutely nothing BESIDES intolerance toward the beliefs of others. That’s why Atheists can support capitalism, universal welfare and genocide with equal vehemence; they have no core to fall back on.

logis on May 2, 2012 at 2:41 PM

interesting opinion. you really need to look up the definition of atheism/atheists. in case you’re too lazy, it just means someone does not believe or have a belief in a god or gods. anything else goes. stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

kastor on May 2, 2012 at 5:00 PM

gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 4:52 PM

I agree as long as the concerned religions do not endorse violence. Christianity has had its moments and Islam is currently problematic but this does not mean that individual Muslims cannot be wonderful people.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Perhaps in 2632 your descendants will be using reasoning like this to sing the praises of Allah.
Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:32 PM

It is hard to imagine that Islam will survive the 21st century.

You don’t need a real person to start a myth. Remember Horus, Mithra etc.
Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Actually yo DO NEED a re real person to start a myth. Or did before modern times. We seem to be incapable today of recreating the necessary anthropological conditions from which archaic myth is made. That’s why texts of persecution have replaced myth in contemporary human culture.

They each had virgin births
Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:32 PM

No they didn’t. The pagan god’s of myth were conceived in sexual encounters of some sort or another.

They each had virgin births and 12 followers and a lot of other things common to the Christ story.
Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:32 PM

So what? The calendar year is most often broken down into 12 months and is a common source of the use of the number 12 in pagan cultures. Any one minimally acquainted with the New Testament understands that Jesus selected 12 Jewish disciples to reflect the completeness of Israel/Jacob who had 12 sons.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 5:02 PM

Folklorist understand that there simply is not enough time between Ce 30 and even a late date for the Gospels to graft Roman soldiers’ Mithraism onto Jewish peasants’ Jesus. Folklore is VERY conservative, especially in not-highly-literate cultures. Case in point, the Child Ballads, which were virtually unchanged two centuries after being brought to America from Britain despite near-zero contact between the cultures during that time.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 4:45 PM

That’s a he said Rome said argument. Others, not affiliated with the whore of Rome agree with her dates.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:56 PM

.

what you have written is still nonsense. The Catholic Encyclopedia in over an century old. It is way out of date in this regard. You have chosen to use oddball dating, an outlier even for that time.

No competent 21st century Biblical scholar dates the Gospel of Luke to the later half of the 2nd century. None.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 4:45 PM

That’s a he said Rome said argument. Others, not affiliated with the whore of Rome agree with her dates.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:56 PM

.
What you have written is still nonsense. The Catholic Encyclopedia is over an century old. It is way out of date in this regard. Further you have chosen to use (cherry picked) oddball dating, an outlier even for that time.

No competent 21st century Biblical scholar dates the Gospel of Luke to the later half of the 2nd century. None.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 5:10 PM

Luke references a certain city official as a “politarch.” For centuries people thought he just made up the word…. until a dig in that city turned up a tomb with that inscription.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 5:11 PM

No they didn’t. The pagan god’s of myth were conceived in sexual encounters of some sort or another.

They each had virgin births and 12 followers and a lot of other things common to the Christ story.
Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:32 PM

So what? The calendar year is most often broken down into 12 months and is a common source of the use of the number 12 in pagan cultures. Any one minimally acquainted with the New Testament understands that Jesus selected 12 Jewish disciples to reflect the completeness of Israel/Jacob who had 12 sons.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 5:02 PM

My point is that neither did the Christian god pop out of a virgin nor did it have 12 historical disciples. Believe this if you can but I see no proof for such extraordinary tales which, as many have said, should require extraordinary evidence.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 5:13 PM

what you have written is still nonsense. The Catholic Encyclopedia in over an century old. It is way out of date in this regard. You have chosen to use oddball dating, an outlier even for that time.

No competent 21st century Biblical scholar dates the Gospel of Luke to the later half of the 2nd century. None.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 5:06 PM

regardless of the dating, with all these amazing miracles going on, why are there no writings of the time jesus was around etc, why is there only a handful of people writing about jesus years after he dies?

it’s not to say jesus and/or muhammad and/or any other physical mythical men or women did not exist and these stories are based on them, but it takes, well, faith, to assume what is written is 100% true and accurate. the gospels can’t even get their stuff together and make them all match. so many discrepancies.

kastor on May 2, 2012 at 5:17 PM

The fact that we have all of Luke and Acts, plus nearly the rest of the Canon, all collected in the 3rd-century Sinai Codex doesn’t bode well for the late-authorship argument.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 4:59 PM

I’m not sure if this was addressed to my question on the dating of the Gospel of John or not, and again I am not trying to play a ‘gotcha’ game, but…

Being in the Codex Sinaiticus only ensures it’s existence prior to the 4th Century (the Codex referenced the Eusebian Apparatus, so is unlikely to have dated prior to the first half of the 4th Century), and certainly there is plenty of evidence that most or all of those books contained in the Codex dated much earlier. I was referencing the Gospel of John as being roughly dated to the late 1st Century. And I make no claims of that dating of it’s authorship as being too late to be evidence of it’s historical accuracy, only that the author who put the Gospel to paper was not likely a firsthand witness to the acts contained within it.

gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 5:25 PM

No competent 21st century Biblical scholar dates the Gospel of Luke to the later half of the 2nd century. None.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 5:06 PM

I’m not sure who your great experts are but I notice you set things up so as to preclude in advance any divergent points of view as well as all 20th century scholarship. Arguments by simple affirmation are worthless.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 5:32 PM

My point is that neither did the Christian god pop out of a virgin nor did it have 12 historical disciples. Believe this if you can but I see no proof for such extraordinary tales which, as many have said, should require extraordinary evidence.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 5:13 PM

.

And you know this because you read Joseph Campbell? Or because you read someone, who read someone, who read someone, who read Joseph Campbell?

Believe this if you can but I see no proof for such extraordinary tales which, as many have said, should require extraordinary evidence.

Yeah, that’s right a 1st century popular Jewish leader chooses 12 disciples, and in your view that’s extra-ordinary, and further in your view that “should require extraordinary evidence”

Now that in my view is extraordinary!

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 5:32 PM

interesting opinion. you really need to look up the definition of atheism/atheists. in case you’re too lazy, it just means someone does not believe or have a belief in a god or gods. anything else goes. stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
kastor on May 2, 2012 at 5:00 PM

People who don’t like meat, simply don’t eat meat. Ass wipes who want to make a gigantic deal out of their personal dietary imbalances call themselves Vegetarians. And the (with all due respect) freakazoids who call themselves “Vegans” live on a slightly different planet from the first two groups.

By the same token, people who don’t believe in religion, simply don’t believe in religion. People who don’t believe in religion – who also happen to be pretentious twats – refer to themselves as “Agnostics.” People who go to the (with all due respect) psychotic extreme of describing themselves as not only “Atheist,” but energetically Atheist to the point where they inject themselves into theological discussions about the things they so fervently don’t believe in, belong to a completely separate category altogether. Which, for some utterly inexplicable reason, very often happens to be located on the same planet where Vegans live.

logis on May 2, 2012 at 5:39 PM

interesting opinion. you really need to look up the definition of atheism/atheists. in case you’re too lazy, it just means someone does not believe or have a belief in a god or gods. anything else goes. stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
kastor on May 2, 2012 at 5:00 PM

People who don’t like meat, simply don’t eat meat. Ass wipes who want to make a gigantic deal out of their personal dietary imbalances call themselves Vegetarians. And the (with all due respect) freakazoids who call themselves “Vegans” live on a slightly different planet from the first two groups.

By the same token, people who don’t believe in religion, simply don’t believe in religion. People who don’t believe in religion – who also happen to be pretentious twits – refer to themselves as “Agnostics.” People who go to the (with all due respect) psychotic extreme of describing themselves as not only “Atheist,” but energetically Atheist to the point where they inject themselves into theological discussions about the things they so fervently don’t believe in, belong to a completely separate category altogether. Which, for some utterly inexplicable reason, very often happens to be located on the same planet where Vegans live.

logis on May 2, 2012 at 5:41 PM

My point is that neither did the Christian god pop out of a virgin nor did it have 12 historical disciples. Believe this if you can but I see no proof for such extraordinary tales which, as many have said, should require extraordinary evidence.

You will never see proof. If there is no room for doubt there can be no room for faith (aka trust). The Bible teaches that on the Last Day there will be no more doubt: “EVERY knee will bow, EVERY tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

But then it will be too late for faith.

regardless of the dating, with all these amazing miracles going on, why are there no writings of the time jesus was around etc, why is there only a handful of people writing about jesus years after he dies?

kastor, the Gospels make it clear that stories of Jesus’ miraculous works did in fact spread – but among the country folk of Galilee. As stated before, the Romans would not be expected to take much notice so long as people stayed quiet and paid their taxes.

the gospels can’t even get their stuff together and make them all match. so many discrepancies.

Which puts paid to the notion that they’re fiction, but jives exactly if they’re eyewitness accounts.

The Resurrection account is a perfect case in point – there’s no witness to the climax of the story! Worse, the first people to meet the Risen Christ are WOMEN who could not even testify in court. LOUSY fiction writing, but just what you would expect if Jesus were having a laugh on the Pharisees. :-)

And I make no claims of that dating of it’s authorship as being too late to be evidence of it’s historical accuracy, only that the author who put the Gospel to paper was not likely a firsthand witness to the acts contained within it.

Its, no apostrophe. Pet peeve of mine. As I said, it is possible to argue for late authorship. Room for doubt. But early authorship, the apostles dictating to scribes, cannot be ruled out. Room for faith.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 5:43 PM

No competent 21st century Biblical scholar dates the Gospel of Luke to the later half of the 2nd century. None.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 5:06 PM

I’m not sure who your great experts are but I notice you set things up so as to preclude in advance any divergent points of view as well as all 20th century scholarship. Arguments by simple affirmation are worthless.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 5:32 PM

.
Do yourself a favor. Take a two year subscription to Biblical Archaeology Review

And read cover to cover a standard university level introduction to the New Testament such as that publish by Yale University as part of The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library:

An Introduction to the New Testament

by: Raymond E. Brown, S.S.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 5:52 PM

As to extraordinary claims and extraordinary evidence, HOGWASH. BUNK. STUFF AND NONSENSE. ABSOLUTE BOSH FROM BEGINNING TO END.

We accept all SORTS of extraordinary claims based on perfectly ordinary evidence.

“The Earth goes around the sun” – absolutely contradicts our normal, everyday experience. Look for yourself – the sun comes up, the sun goes down. But for several centuries now we’ve believed it because Copernicus, Tycho, and Kepler kept careful observations. They looked at the sky and took notes. Perfectly mundane evidence.

“A teenage girl led an army to war.” Preposterous. Unheard of! But no serious historian doubts the second-hand written record of the trial of Joan d’Arc.

“Men walked on the Moon.” Unthinkable! But most rational people believe the perfectly ordinary evidence of photographs, film and personal claims to have done it.

“Hundreds of years ago a great civilization flourished in the Central American jungles” Ridiculous! But we believe the ordinary evidence of the Incan ruins.

“Millions of years ago giant animals roamed the earth.” Now THAT’S preposterous! But people believe it based on a few bones.

Sorry, that dog just won’t hunt.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 5:52 PM

regardless of the dating, with all these amazing miracles going on, why are there no writings of the time jesus was around etc, why is there only a handful of people writing about jesus years after he dies?

The earliest New Testament writings begin to appear maybe as little as a decade or decade and a half after Jesus’ death and at a time when the High Priestly families in Jerusalem are continuing to struggle to suppress an emerging reform movement. The initial movement is small a matter of some thousands to begin with in a society which transmits the bulk of its history primarily in an oral (non-written) form. Although the number of witnesses to Jesus’ life must have numbered in the tens and even hundreds of thousands. Writing is very expensive. Thereafter the region gets destroyed in two devastating wars and almost all archival material is lost.

It is only modern archaeologists have recovered surviving archival material (Dead Sea Scrolls and other material) from the region that modern scholar has acquired a good handle on this particular period and moment.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:08 PM

1st Century. And I make no claims of that dating of it’s authorship as being too late to be evidence of it’s historical accuracy, only that the author who put the Gospel to paper was not likely a firsthand witness to the acts contained within it.

gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 5:25 PM

That’s not so. Post WWII archaeological work in Jerusalem and the general region significantly bolsters the view that author of the Gospel of John was intimately familiar with pre-70AD Jerusalem. Moreover the quality of transmission oral history in 1st Century Israel provides ample opportunity for John to have been highly accurate.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:16 PM

How pathetic is it to create a headline that says, in effect, “Hey, when we give to charity, we’re being more compassionate than you guys?”

Exit question (ok, shameless ripoff): Is Allahpundit excused from this same patheticness because of a historical pattern of high-grade snark?

tom on May 2, 2012 at 6:18 PM

Despite being an atheist, I have to agree with Mike OMalley on that last bit. There is plenty of evidence from both Christian and Roman historians to show that Jesus did exist as a historical person, and that his preaching did get him in trouble with the local authorities, and eventually resulted in his execution. I don’t think evidence of his existence requires me to believe the Gospels as absolute truth in every word, and by the same token does not require me to believe in his divinity, but I find it hard to question his historical existence with so much evidence.

gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:08 PM

There’s evidence for this in Gamaliel’s speech recorded in Acts, where he warns the Sanhedrin that if this movement is of Man, it will die out on its own just like all the others. but if it is of God, no one can stop it.

Gamaliel was the teacher of Paul and Hillel (Among many others to be sure.). Hillel is one of the most famous rabbis; the Passover “Hillel Sandwich” of matzoh, maror, and charoset is attributed to him.

Here’s an interesting story I learned from a Messianic friend (and later verified for myself). At Yom Kippur the priests would break a red thread in two. One half would be tied around the neck of a goat. The priest would then lay hands on the goat, transferring the sins of the people onto it. The goat would then be driven out into the wilderness to suffer its fate.

The other half of the thread would be hung up in the Temple for all to see. When it turned white (and it always did) the people would know that God had accepted the goat on their behalf (substitutionary atonement) and their sins were forgiven.

The Talmud (Yom’A 39) records that Hillel angrily rebuked the scapegoat thread because it had stopped changing color.

This happened forty years before the destruction of the Temple.

In CE 30. 0.o

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 6:25 PM

That’s not so. Post WWII archaeological work in Jerusalem and the general region significantly bolsters the view that author of the Gospel of John was intimately familiar with pre-70AD Jerusalem. Moreover the quality of transmission oral history in 1st Century Israel provides ample opportunity for John to have been highly accurate.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:16 PM

I don’t think I disputed anything you said there. Most scholars seem to accept a rough date of 90-100 A.D. as the authorship of the Gospel of John (at least in written form). It most certainly existed prior to that in verbal form. I specifically stated that I did not point to late authorship as dispution of its historical accuracy, only that it was not likely a firsthand account (meaning not written by the person who actually witnessed the acts of Jesus himself). Even if we assume it was written around 70 A.D., perhaps even a few years before that, that would mean an unusually long-lived person for that period in order to have been old enough to witness and understand Jesus teachings and write them down nearly 40 years after his death.

Most Gospels weren’t written for at least a couple of decades after Jesus death, not only because having anything written down was an expensive endeavour, but also because carrying around written evidence of your belonging to what was then considered the ‘cult’ of Christianity was a dangerous thing to be done. So, most of the stories were transmitted only by word of mouth for decades.

gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 6:29 PM

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 6:25 PM

Thank you Skydaddy. Josephus relates a number ominous miraclous events portending the destruction of the Temple in 70AD. Your story from the Talmud I had not heard.

Thanks.

Are you acquainted with the Ossuary of James the brother of Jesus?

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:34 PM

Even if we assume it was written around 70 A.D., perhaps even a few years before that, that would mean an unusually long-lived person for that period in order to have been old enough to witness and understand Jesus teachings and write them down nearly 40 years after his death.

gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 6:29 PM

If John was around 20 when he was with Jesus (a reasonable assumption) then it’s not a stretch for him to be active 40 years later. “Threescore and ten” was the expected lifespan, after all.

Most Gospels weren’t written for at least a couple of decades after Jesus death, not only because having anything written down was an expensive endeavour, but also because carrying around written evidence of your belonging to what was then considered the ‘cult’ of Christianity was a dangerous thing to be done. So, most of the stories were transmitted only by word of mouth for decades.

Christianity didn’t begin to be seriously persecuted – as in the Romans taking notice – for a hundred years or so. (cf Nero) That’s when we see the Canon emerging – what writings are worth dying for?

The reason that they weren’t written down until the 60′s was that the disciples assumed that Jesus was returning in their lifetimes. Besides, the rabbinic culture was an oral culture. it didn’t occur to them to write things down until the elders started, well, getting old.

That doesn’t diminish, however, the eyewitness validity of the testimony. The sayings and deeds of Jesus had been told and retold (in group settings, unlike a game a telephone) for years. They were more like family lore, which doesn’t change over time because it’s told in the presence of people who were there and would correct the story if it got details wrong.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Are you acquainted with the Ossuary of James the brother of Jesus?

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:34 PM

Yes, and I’m aware that its provenance is somewhat suspect.

Room for doubt = room for faith. :-)

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 6:43 PM

I specifically stated that I did not point to late authorship as dispution of its historical accuracy, only that it was not likely a firsthand account (meaning not written by the person who actually witnessed the acts of Jesus himself). Even if we assume it was written around 70 A.D., …gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Chuckle, you know it will not have been the first time I misunderstood something I read on the net, nor likely the last. ;-)

The consensus seems to be the the Gospel of John was written after the destruction of Jerusalem. If the author, from a priestly family was 20 years old in 33 AD, he would have been: 57 in 70AD, 67 in 80AD, 77 in 90AD, and 87 in 100AD still younger his contemporary Rabbi Akiva at the time of Rabbi Akiva’s death. Rabbi Akiva was born in 17AD and would have been around 13 to 16 years old at the time of Jesus’ public ministry and death. There is no reason to rule out the likelihood of the author of the Gospel of John being an eyewitness.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:50 PM

I specifically stated that I did not point to late authorship as dispution of its historical accuracy, only that it was not likely a firsthand account (meaning not written by the person who actually witnessed the acts of Jesus himself). Even if we assume it was written around 70 A.D., …gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Chuckle, you know it will not have been the first time I misunderstood something I read on the net, nor likely the last. ;-)

.

The consensus seems to be the the Gospel of John was written after the destruction of Jerusalem. If the author, from a priestly family was 20 years old in 33 AD, he would have been: 57 in 70AD, 67 in 80AD, 77 in 90AD, and 87 in 100AD still younger than his contemporary Rabbi Akiva at the time of Rabbi Akiva’s death. Rabbi Akiva was born in 17AD and would have been around 13 to 16 years old at the time of Jesus’ public ministry and death. There is no reason to rule out the likelihood of the author of the Gospel of John being an eyewitness.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:51 PM

Yes, and I’m aware that its provenance is somewhat suspect.

Room for doubt = room for faith. :-)

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 6:43 PM

The forgery trial ended acquittal for both defendent two months ago in Israel when evidence of authenticity overwhelmed the prosecution.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:54 PM

The forgery trial ended acquittal for both defendent two months ago in Israel when evidence of authenticity overwhelmed the prosecution.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:54 PM

I did not know that.

I’ll have to check into that. I’d have thought it would have made the news.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 6:59 PM

The forgery trial ended acquittal for both defendent two months ago in Israel when evidence of authenticity overwhelmed the prosecution.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:54 PM

Wasn’t it the case that they just couldn’t prove forgery beyond a reasonable doubt? Not that they proved in any way that the ossuary inscription was authentic?

I’m pretty sure there are still huge questions over its authenticity amongst scholars.

Even if the inscription was authentic and written in the 1st century, the 3 names (Jacob/James, Joseph and Joshua/Jesus) were very common in that day, including having all 3 in one family. Heck, I think half the women alive in that area at the time were named Miriam/Mary.

Elisa on May 2, 2012 at 8:43 PM

forgery trial ended acquittal for both defendent two months ago in Israel when evidence of authenticity overwhelmed the prosecution.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:54 PM

Wasn’t it the case that they just couldn’t prove forgery beyond a reasonable doubt? Not that they proved in any way that the ossuary inscription was authentic?

I’m pretty sure there are still huge questions over its authenticity amongst scholars.

You’re “pretty sure there are still huge questions over its authenticity amongst scholars”? Really? Based on what? Please tell?

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 8:54 PM

The forgery trial ended acquittal for both defendent two months ago in Israel when evidence of authenticity overwhelmed the prosecution.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 6:54 PM

I did not know that.

I’ll have to check into that. I’d have thought it would have made the news.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 6:59 PM

The Biblical Archaeology Society has been reporting on the Ossuary of James and the forgery case in detail for years.

Judge Aharon Farkash, who has a degree in archaeology, said at the conclusion of the case “that there is no evidence that any of the major artifacts were forged, and that the prosecution failed to prove their accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.” He was also “particularly scathing about tests carried out by the Israel police forensics laboratory that he said had probably contaminated the ossuary, making it impossible to carry out further scientific tests on the inscription.” [emphasis mine]

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 9:08 PM

I do not agree with you position that the Gospel writers were eye witnesses to events that should have left a trace with both the Romans and the Jews. Paul, who supposedly started writing in the early forties never even heard of these apostles nor with the important events described in the gospels; virgin birth, feeding the masses on the mount etc. These events came into being with the Gospels, the earliest probably being Marc with the others copying 80% of Marc and adding on the mythological stuff like the virgin birth.

The Catholic Encyclopedia admits as to the late date for Luke. In fact the author of uke sent it to Theophilos, bishop of Antioch. He was bishop fro 169 to 177, which would place Luke in Methuselah category if he was an eye witness. A lot of Luke was borrowed from the Gnostic Gospel of Marcion. There are many other problems with Luke.

The other Gospels also have their problems. At the time where all these events were going on with the proposed Christ, the Romans were building the city of Tiberius in that same area. With all these Romans running around it is indeed that the supposed supernatural goings on went unnoticed by the Romans.

It takes a lot of faith to believe the Jesus story. However it is not a historical tale insofar as the proposed Jesus and his disciples are concerned.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 4:21 PM

There is so much wrong in your post, but I just want to talk about the 2 things I bolded.

I about fell off my chair when I read them. Outrageous and ridiculous. (not you, your statements)

First of all please show me both the quote and link to the Catholic Encyclopedia article that said that St. Luke’s Gospel was written in the mid 2nd century to a Bishop living at that time.

I am very familiar with the Catholic Encyclopedia having read a lot of it and fallen asleep reading a lot of it many times. (lol) It can be dry as a bone, but usually very lenghthy and well researched.

The Encyclopedia says not such thing about Luke’s Gospel.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09420a.htm

It says, “That the companion of St. Paul who wrote the Acts was St. Luke is the unanimous voice of antiquity.”

The “later date” that “some” scholars favor over others for some of the synoptic Gospels is the latter part of the 1st century as opposed to the mid 1st century. But no scholars, including secular ones, think any of the Gospels were written after the 1st century.

St. Justin Martyr around 150AD wrote several times about how Christians each Sunday at Mass would read the “memoirs of the Apostles” and “gospels,” along with the Old Testament “prophets.” (Sone example and excerpt below.)

While he didn’t name them, it was well established by that time the they were commonly accepted and widely used. So they were written well before that time. Also around that time St. Ireneaus wrote of the 4 Gospels. I think because there was a heretic at the time who said there was only one Gospel, Luke’s.

St. Justin Martyr – 150AD:

“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.”

And St. Paul didn’t even know the Apostles? You must have written that wrong. You couldn’t have been serious. Acts clearly talks about St. Paul meeting with St. Peter and the other Apostles and on another occasion Paul stayed with Peter/Cephas for a couple weeks and only saw him and the Apostle James. (not Zebedee’s other son, James. The other Apostle James.)

Galatians 1:18-19:
“Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.”

Wish I had time to go on with other things. Mercifully for you who read here I don’t. lol

Elisa on May 2, 2012 at 9:35 PM

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 9:08 PM

thanks.

Elisa on May 2, 2012 at 9:36 PM

me:
I don’t care if you are a Believer.
Just leave me the eff alone & stop trying to create God in the world.

Go by the US Const if you live here & it’s fine.

Furthermore, I think the ten commandments are good words to live by no matter where you believe they came from.

I just love these threads – thanks Allah!

Ann on May 2, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Nice.
WTF is ‘creating’ God in the world?
Atheists who push their views upon others are no different in their ‘religion’ of unbelief than a religious person who pushes belief in a diety.
It is NO different.
Only difference in ME is that I don’t proselytize to anyone. I know there are religious people who do. And they annoy me too.
So if you;re the atheist who doesn’t try & eliminate God from others’ lives & you don’t proselytize YOUR disbelief, then there’s nothing to discuss.
Kind of like the gay guy or the heterosexual guy who lives his life & doesn’t try talking about his sex life to strangers.

Badger40 on May 2, 2012 at 10:25 PM

thanks.

Elisa on May 2, 2012 at 9:36 PM

You are welcome. :-)

Now that doesn’t mean the a consensus on the Ossuary has emerged among scholars but the prosecution’s team ended up have a very very poor hand of cards after all.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 10:28 PM

And I don’t care if you’re religious, just leave me alone with your god(s) and stop trying to inject it in to everything: money, pledge, schools, etc.

And we SHOULD go by the US Const which has not a single mention of god in it.

kastor on May 1, 2012 at 10:59 PM

No one’s interjecting anything that wasn’t there before.
Remember the Founders were men who believed that a govt could not NOT be founded upon some sort of religious principle.
They just left the practicing of it, or not, to the individual.
Pretty testy reply. But then it’s to be expected. Your disbelief is your religion.
Pretty interesting that you think God has nothing to do with the founding of this country.
Read the founder’s writings.
They’re full of God stuff.
Doesn’t mean they wanted to foist it upon you.

Badger40 on May 2, 2012 at 10:29 PM

thanks.

Elisa on May 2, 2012 at 9:36 PM

You are welcome. :-)

Now that doesn’t mean the a consensus on the Ossuary has emerged among scholars yet but the prosecution’s team ended up playing a very very poor hand of cards after all.

.

BTW: The Biblical Archaeology Society is a great resource.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 10:32 PM

Remember the Founders were men who believed that a govt could not NOT be founded upon some sort of religious principle.

Badger40 on May 2, 2012 at 10:29 PM

.

That is simply factually untrue. The United States was founded upon the Christian principle that G-d created all man equal.

The primary limitation the Founders put on religion at the Federal level was to prohibit a religious test of office and to prohibit a religious establishment (such as the Church of England in Britain). Those prohibitions are narrow.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 10:39 PM

Remember the Founders were men who believed that a govt could not NOT be founded upon some sort of religious principle.

Badger40 on May 2, 2012 at 10:29 PM

.

That is simply factually untrue. The United States was founded upon the Christian principle that G-d created all men equal.

The primary limitation the Founders put on religion at the Federal level was to prohibit a religious test of office and to prohibit a religious establishment (such as the Church of England in Britain). Those prohibitions are narrow.

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 10:41 PM

To what author are you refering as being “there” at what time period? The general consensus among biblical scholars is that the Gospel of John was written sometime around 90-100 A.D. But you may be referring to witness of the Jewish perspective in the 1st Century rather than the author being a witness to the events themselves that are described in the Gospel of John.
gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 4:26 PM

No, I’m referring to the author of the Gospel of John specifically although the 1st century Jewish perspective of the New Testament writers bears on the question as well.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 11:52 PM

“Those who hate me love death,” -YHWH, Proverbs 8:36.

Akzed on May 3, 2012 at 12:01 AM

G-D? Why?

Akzed on May 3, 2012 at 12:02 AM

I like to think that I’m as charitable as the next guy but I would never give any money to a religious organization that would waste time and money trying to convince sick people that it is important that they know that some mythological character was born of a virgin.
Annar on May 2, 2012 at 8:04 AM

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. Come talk to me again after you’ve faced down death.
Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 9:37 AM
I’m a cancer survivor, I have faced down death… and I’m an atheist… go figure?

gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Note that my post was in response to Annar’s cynical annoyance with Christians valuing the importance of faith in extreme circumstances. Yeah, I’ve known a number of cancer survivors and have been astonished to observe that it seemingly had little effect, at least outwardly, on their lack of faith. I only know that when it was my turn I was amazed to find that I was facing the prospect with calm and curious anticipation.

Cleombrotus on May 3, 2012 at 12:09 AM

G-D? Why?

Akzed on May 3, 2012 at 12:02 AM

A common construction used by observant Jews to avoid writing the Holy Name (aka Hashem) on something impermanent. OT scribes when copying out the Tanakh, when they came to God’s Name for Himself aka YWYH aka the Tetragammon aka “I Am Who Am”, would purify themselves and use a new pen to write the Holy Name.

Such is the importance they placed on it (and some still do).

skydaddy on May 3, 2012 at 12:09 AM

gravityman on May 2, 2012 at 4:16 PM
Cleombrotus on May 3, 2012 at 12:09 AM

Perhaps a still more difficult time is when someone you love who is “too young to die” is critically ill, and you come to the point of saying, “God, not my will, but Yours, be done.”

THAT’S when you really know that you believe. When it’s NOT your life on the line, but your husband’s or wife’s or child’s.

I’ve been on both sides, and it’s far easier to be the one faced with dying, than the one faced with carrying on.

skydaddy on May 3, 2012 at 12:14 AM

skydaddy on May 3, 2012 at 12:09 AM

Yeah, but “Mike O’Malley” don’t sound Jewish. Don’t mean he ain’t. I’m just sayin’.

Akzed on May 3, 2012 at 12:15 AM

You might have noticed that the NT authors didn’t do this, and with but one exception, they were Jews.

Akzed on May 3, 2012 at 12:16 AM

You might have noticed that the NT authors didn’t do this, and with but one exception, they were Jews.

Akzed on May 3, 2012 at 12:16 AM

Not an issue.

Just because that construction does not exist in current printed translations, does not mean that the apostles did not use them in their manuscripts. Paul probably did, since he was a Pharisee and sometimes (though probably rarely) wrote in his own hand. The other apostles most likely dictated to scribes. Tradition holds that Peter had a translator. We don’t have the original manuscripts, just copies made by (most likely) Gentile scribes who would not be expected to follow the conventions of the Tanakh (OT) scribes.

BTW….

Let me just say to everyone, THANK YOU for engaging in polite, considered, serious discussion. Far too often I’ve had to bail on these sorts of discussions because of the level of snark. (And far too often I’ve stayed too long in the mudpit, determined to sore debating points. Wasted time…)

Doubt is fine. Doubt spurs questions, which lead to answers, which leads to learning. There are a number of well-educated folk here, and I am grateful for the serious and polite tone of the discussion so far.

skydaddy on May 3, 2012 at 12:31 AM

skydaddy on May 3, 2012 at 12:31 AM

But we have no MSS that misspell God in the Greek NT. None. And Paul renounced his Phariseeism without equivocation. Need I quote it?

Akzed on May 3, 2012 at 12:35 AM

orry, didn’t mean to strike.

Akzed on May 3, 2012 at 12:36 AM

So I hope that I qualify as serious and polite, but where do you get off contradicting the apostles?

Akzed on May 3, 2012 at 12:38 AM

I gotta get to bed, but just so subsequent readers will know, there is no Christian tradition of rendering God as “G-d.”

Because Christians eschew superstition.

Akzed on May 3, 2012 at 12:41 AM

I’m not contradicting the Apostles. I simply would not expect a Greek NT MSS to “nonspell” the Holy Name, since a Gospel MSS was considered a “permanent” document. I’d expect the Name to be spelled out.

It would not surprise me in MSS found in predominately Jewish NT communities that close analysis might detect evidence of scribal discontinuity between the Name and preceding and following text, but I wouldn’t spend a lot of time looking for it. All it would show is that the anonymous copyist might be a Jewish rather than Gentile convert. OTOH it might have been getting dark and he just stopped for the night. (FWIW I know folks who recreate Medieval manuscripts with period techniques and materials, and I’ve done enough calligraphy myself to have a hands-on understanding of the process.)

skydaddy on May 3, 2012 at 12:51 AM

I’ve been on both sides, and it’s far easier to be the one faced with dying, than the one faced with carrying on.
skydaddy on May 3, 2012 at 12:14 AM

Well, that’s another thing as well, isn’t it? The difference between a non-believer’s funeral and a believer’s. It’s always striking.

Cleombrotus on May 3, 2012 at 12:51 AM

Akzed, it’s not a matter of superstition, but respect.

Many (though not all) modern Jews avoid writing out “God” in order to show respect for His Holy Name. Have a look at websites of conservative Jewish organizations; you’ll see it a lot because websites are “impermanent.”

Some Christians, especially when addressing professed Jews online, use the “G-d” or “Hashem” constructions in order to indicate respect for their correspondent’s sensitivities.

skydaddy on May 3, 2012 at 12:57 AM

the gospels can’t even get their stuff together and make them all match. so many discrepancies.
kastor on May 2, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Which puts paid to the notion that they’re fiction, but jives exactly if they’re eyewitness accounts.

The Resurrection account is a perfect case in point – there’s no witness to the climax of the story! Worse, the first people to meet the Risen Christ are WOMEN who could not even testify in court. LOUSY fiction writing, but just what you would expect if Jesus were having a laugh on the Pharisees. :-)

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 5:43 PM

The timeline for the 4 Gospel resurrection accounts can easily mesh together. Take the 4 Gospels as a whole. Not 4 differing accounts. Like 4 accounts of an accident or event. With some points mentioned by one person and some mentioned by another. From different vantage points and experiences and senses of what is important to mention.

The 4 Gospel resurrection accounts give different details and aren’t clear on the timelines. So they sometimes seem to contradict. But they really don’t, because each verse in the 4 Gospels doesn’t have a time stamped on it. (This happened at 5:55AM and this happened at 6:10AM, and the next verse at 6:15AM.) The Gospels are supposed to be taken together as a whole.

One day I was pondering this and I read the following in the Catholic Encyclopedia. I thought it was interesting so I’ll post it here for anyone else who is interested.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12789a.htm

Here is an outline of a possible harmony of the Evangelists’ account concerning the principal events of Easter Sunday:

* The holy women carrying the spices previously prepared start out for the sepulchre before dawn, and reach it after sunrise; they are anxious about the heavy stone, but know nothing of the official guard of the sepulchre (Matthew 28:1-3; Mark 16:1-3; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).

* The angel frightened the guards by his brightness, put them to flight, rolled away the stone, and seated himself not upon (ep autou), but above (epano autou) the stone (Matthew 28:2-4).

* Mary Magdalen, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome approach the sepulchre, and see the stone rolled back, whereupon Mary Magdalen immediately returns to inform the Apostles (Mark 16:4; Luke 24:2; John 20:1-2).

* The other two holy women enter the sepulchre, find an angel seated in the vestibule, who shows them the empty sepulchre, announces the Resurrection, and commissions them to tell the disciples and Peter that they shall see Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-7).

* A second group of holy women, consisting of Joanna and her companions, arrive at the sepulchre, where they have probably agreed to meet the first group, enter the empty interior, and are admonished by two angels that Jesus has risen according to His prediction (Luke 24:10).

* Not long after, Peter and John, who were notified by Mary Magdalen, arrive at the sepulchre and find the linen cloth in such a position as to exclude the supposition that the body was stolen; for they lay simply flat on the ground, showing that the sacred body had vanished out of them without touching them. When John notices this he believes (John 20:3-10).

* Mary Magdalen returns to the sepulchre, sees first two angels within, and then Jesus Himself (John 20:11-l6; Mark 16:9).

* The two groups of pious women, who probably met on their return to the city, are favored with the sight of Christ arisen, who commissions them to tell His brethren that they will see him in Galilee (Matthew 28:8-10; Mark 16:8).

* The holy women relate their experiences to the Apostles, but find no belief (Mark 16:10-11; Luke 24:9-11).

* Jesus appears to the disciples, at Emmaus, and they return to Jerusalem; the Apostles appear to waver between doubt and belief (Mark 16:12-13; Luke 24:13-35).

* Christ appears to Peter, and therefore Peter and John firmly believe in the Resurrection (Luke 24:34; John 20:8).

* After the return of the disciples from Emmaus, Jesus appears to all the Apostles excepting Thomas (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25).

(end of quote)

The same goes for when Jesus met and called the Apostles. At first glance the 4 Gospels seem to differ in how the first Apostles were called.

But when we read the passages that describe the first Apostles being called, they are to be taken together as a group, not in opposition to each other. One may be talking about an initial meeting with Jesus. Another may be a calling to follow Jesus more closely, but they had already met Him. And another may be the final calling, when the Apostles left their former way of life altogether to follow Jesus. It doesn’t all have to be on the same day, but could be over weeks or months. Because the Gospels don’t say exact dates and hours of the day.

Elisa on May 3, 2012 at 1:01 AM

skydaddy on May 3, 2012 at 12:31 AM

Yes, there’s been some good stuff put out here on this thread, hasn’t there?

Cleombrotus on May 3, 2012 at 1:03 AM

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