Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Great Courses: The New Testament

If God hadn't intended for men to lie, he wouldn't have given them a brain and a mouth.

The last lecture was on the letters by Paul.  These were written over a period of perhaps two decades to churches and/or individuals under greatly varying circumstances, as were Paul's circumstances.  The lecturer, Bart Ehrman, claims that three of the letters, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus are all forgeries, and cites "differences of language".  He notes that this claim is based on different use of language and a remarkably different attitude towards women.  My main note is that those three letters were written to individuals, along with Philemon.  Philemon also has rather different language use, but it is with regard to reconciling Philemon with an escaped slave.  Since freeing of escaped slaves is not yet politically incorrect, it is not the least bit surprising that modernists consider it to be "genuine".  Thus, we get to the core:  If modernists don't like the message, then they deem it to be a forgery and search relentlessly for "evidence" to prove their point.  But then somehow the note in 1 Corinthians is missed:  "the women should keep silent in the churches.  For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says".  This Paul is claimed to be a different one from the misogynist author of Timothy and Titus.

Today's lecture was on the gospels.  Ehrman notes that the authors of these gospels were highly literate Greeks, for which we agree.  The problem develops when he implies that the gospel message had been pass through about a dozen or more people before finally reaching the author who put it into print.  Is this the way educated Greeks were taught to do their history?  Of course not.  If we go with the gospel of Mark being written 65ADish, then we are faced with the fact of their being apostles still alive and many eye witnesses.  Would the Greek authors really not bother to find someone who knew the story most accurately?  He then spends a lot of time dwelling on minor differences between the accounts, but fails to note that a modern court trial would feature even greater discrepancies among the eye witnesses to something that happened a few days or weeks earlier.  Not to mention some of our politicians who can't remember anything. The easy solution to all this is simply to accept what everyone generally accepted:  That about the time Peter was executed, he had Mark put his memories down on paper.  A similar pattern was followed by Matthew and John.  The evidence conforms to the tradition, thus, why do we fly off and seek a conspiracy theory for which this era provides not a single similar example?  Luke refers to the patterns of the ancient Greeks directly for his history, which Ehrman, being a scholar who undoubtedly knows that this is firmly established, refuses to even mention.  This is what "Great Courses" are made of.

5 comments:

Max Coutinho said...

Hi Looney,

You know that those "great" scholars will also argue that your resistance to their argument is due to the fact that you refuse to see the truth that goes against your religious sensitivities, or whatever they can come up with.

But anyway, Paul's different language can be interpreted as his minding his several different "audiences". It's either that or the man was a natural-born politician, a manipulator.

Cheers

Looney said...

Hello Max,

Yes, that argument was thrown out there on the video. I don't have a problem with that as long as we admit that scholars themselves are one more mono-culture with a twisted agenda.

All humans use language to influence others. Scholars are not above this, nor is this some radical discovery of the modern world.

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

So you see, King Shlomo was right: nothing new under the sun :).
As the cycles of rebirth continue, all that we say has already been said before, only we adapt our words and thoughts to "modernity"; but in the end, the essence is the same.

Most Scholars are vain creatures, they think they know it all.
You are right.

Cheers

Looney said...

Max, you have quoted one of my favorite Bible verses. Have a good weekend!

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

It is a beautiful quote indeed. Have a blessed weekend, my friend :D.

Cheers