Sunday, August 01, 2010

Markan Priority For Potato Heads




This post is for those of you who wonder what we're taught in New Testament studies.

Each gospel writer provides an authentic ancient biography of the Lord Jesus Christ. The fact that there are minor discrepancies among them is evidence that these are authentic historical documents. The fact that the  Church did not seek to harmonize or smooth out these discrepancies shows that the Church viewed them as four sacred witnesses, Scripture not to be tampered with. It also points to the integrity of the early Church. The fact that the early Church was not bothered by minor discrepancies in the accounts also shows that it was not as uptight as persons who come along 21 centuries later and seek to apply 21st century criteria and concerns to ancient texts.

The fact that these are the most scrutinized documents on the face of the planet -- by persons on all sides of the issues -- shows that the world at some intuitive level knows that the Person they present is the most important man who ever lived, the watershed of history and humanity -- legend, lunatic, liar, or, as he declared himself to be and his followers came to understand him to be -- Lord.

The gospels do a wonderful job of pointing to the real star of the show -- the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 comments:

xn--hrfn-woa said...

"Markan Priority For Potato Heads" -- as in 'you'd have to be a potato head to believe this version of New Testament studies'?

"Each gospel writer provides an authentic ancient biography of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Except that the author of Matthew is familiar with the Greek (which has Isaiah 7:14 say "parthenos"=virgin) rather than Hebrew ("alma"=young woman) Old Testament, which seems unlikely for anybody in Jesus' immediate circle, and had significant consequences for Christian (and particularly Catholic) theology.

Except that the author of John employs a Greek double entendre ("again"="from above"/"a second time") that does not exist in Aramaic, meaning that John 3 only makes sense in the Greek 'translation', not in the Aramaic 'original' in which the conversation is purported to have taken place.

Except that the author of Luke displays considerable ignorance of political context at the time of Jesus' birth, and how Romans conduct censuses -- indicating a likely considerable chronological and/or geographical distance from these events.

All these add up to a "biography" whose 'authenticity' and 'antiquity' are both open to question.

"The fact that there are minor discrepancies..."

I would question that whether (i) the 'Massacre of the Innocents' occurred, Joseph received a dream from an angel, and they fled to Egypt, versus (ii) simply returning to Nazareth without incident, is a 'minor discrepancy'. Did the massacre occur? If so, then why does neither Luke, nor Josephus, nor any other historical account record this incident? And why does Luke have them returning directly to Nazareth?

"The fact that the Church did not seek to harmonize or smooth out these discrepancies..."

So Tatain's Diatessaron, the official Gospel text of the Syraic church, didn't exist? Nor do the many attempts to create a 'gospel harmony' since?

"...the Church viewed them as four sacred witnesses..."

There is no indication that any of the "witnesses" to Jesus' life would have any substantial familiarity with the Koine Greek in which the gospels were written, let alone sufficient literacy in it to compose lengthy works in the language (which would be restricted to the wealthy and leisurely intelligentsia). Further, there is evidence, see above, that their composition was to some degree lacking in knowledge of the Hebrew Bible and Aramaic. This makes them 'sacred hearsay' of a fairly distant order. Further, there was considerable disharmony over which "witnesses" were sacred. Justin Martyr for instance makes no mention of John, but places authority in (among other works), the Acts of Pontius Pilate.

[contd]

xn--hrfn-woa said...

[contd]

"Scripture not to be tampered with."

Are you really this IGNORANT of the history of your own sacred book?

The New Testament was repeatedly, in fact pervasively, "tampered with", both in transcription errors ('eye of camel' to "eye of a needle" comes to mind) and to further theological agendas. The most famous case of the latter is the 'Comma Johanneum', in which an explicit enunciation of the Trinitarian doctrine was inserted into 1 John 5:7-8.

Further, it is widely agreed that 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus were not written by Paul (and there is considerable debate as to whether Ephesians, Colossians & 2 Thessalonians were), meaning that some "scripture" wasn't so much "tampered with" as forged outright.

"It also points to the integrity of the early Church."

This would be the same "early Church" which demonstrated its "integrity" in indulging in some quite hair-raising slanders in its polemics against those it was in theological disagreement with?

"The fact that the early Church was not bothered by minor discrepancies in the accounts..."

...can probably be attributed to the fact that they were arguing for and against the inclusion of whole books into the coalescing canon.

"The fact that these are the most scrutinized documents on the face of the planet..."

...can probably be attributed to the fact that, uniquely among the holy books of major world religions, the New Testament displays (i) large-scale textual variation, between versions of the same book & (ii) considerable variation of viewpoint between the books. This means that any non-naive analysis of it requires considerable scrutiny. It does not imply "that the Person they present is the most important man who ever lived".

"...legend, lunatic, liar, or, as he declared himself to be and his followers came to understand him to be -- Lord." False dichotomy. May I present a further, widely considered, alternative: that the story simply grew in the retelling in the oral history period, between the ministry of an Aramaic-speaking Apocalyptic Jew, and the creation of a Greek Koine written document.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"