Evangelical Wrong about the Bible's History · Historic-Critic Method Proponent Wrong about Historic Evidence
Here too, I will only get to the beginning of a longer video, up to where the person has made the essential mistakes:
Historical Critical Method in Religion
1st July 2020 | TenOnReligion
1:50 First, you omit the fact that religious practitioners often DO have a historical view of their religion, which might be true or false.
So, you are wrong to state that they are not used to thinking historically.
A typical believing Hindu will have these historical tenets about the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and I think they are totally wrong:
- Flood happened really long ago, Vishnu took the Avatar shape Rama after that, and then ten thousand years later also the Avatar shape Krishna - they met each other and died together in the Mahabharata wars, c. 3100 BC;
- few survivors were left after those wars, but one child and one poet continued the lines, and the child was ancestral to specific Indian dynasties and the poet, Vyasa, took help from Ganesha to make a poem of what he and his contemoporaries had been through;
- India and the transmission of the poem have a continuity reaching all through the Kali Yuga, all up to today;
- and the fact that writing came later is immaterial to this.
But, I think these things totally wrong because they conflict with another history, which I do believe : Genesis. The Flood, in Genesis, happened c. 3100 BC, so I conclude the Flood was pushed backwards. I very much do think Ramayana and Mahabharata more or less happened as described, but in reverse order : Mahabharata in the Cainite dynasty before the Flood, Ramayana soon after the Flood.
I very much do not disbelieve this because - 1:52 - practitioners of the "historic-critic method" happen to analyse Krishna and Rama as "mythology".
And while literature can be said to comprise both history and mythology, you have drawn the borders very badly.
Literature is all texts that are handed down. A protocol of the Nuremberg trial is literature from the moment it's consultable in more than the original paper example in the courtroom.
It comprises "history" and it comprises "mythology" but the two overlap.
A "mythology" such as we have them from Norse pre-Christians, from Greeks and Romans, from Irish, from Sumerians and Babylonians, from Hindus too, is usually divisible into two parts:
- divine myths (like Brahma creating, Vishnu upholding, Shiva destroying the world in cycles, or Apsu and Tiamat becoming ancestors to gods, one of whom killed Tiamat and made earth from her caracass);
- heroic legend (like Arjuna being a neglecting husband to Parvati and a great warrior, like Gilgamesh dealing with Enkidu to civilise him).
And heroic legend is in fact one of the modes of transmission of history. History as such being a subset of literature dealing with past events seen as real and as observable from a human perspective by people who could have transmitted it to us.
Mahabharata and Ramayana, as for the main events (including a competition for overlordship and the loser regaining all in a gamble, like a wife kidnapped by a demon like creature) arguably happened, were arguably transmitted fairly accurately to Regmas' son of Kush's descendants in a community moving to India, and they managed a record in changing the transmitted story by inverting the events and putting Flood and Ramayana thousands of years before the pre-Flood Mahabharata lore and then treating this as a continued immediate background to their own situation in India, ignoring Babel.
Apart from Pagans ignoring Babel, this is record high as to how much oral transmission can deform historic facts so transmitted. With Theoderic beating Ermaneric at Ravenna, two battles were telescoped into one, and that's it, one of the victors becoming the defeated one in the rationalised "mirage" of a single battle.
By "literature" you may have meant things like narratives, including fictions. But in fact "fiction" had better be subdivided from both "history" (including legend) and from "divine myth" (revelation or serious speculation and in the former case divine or diabolic).
- See my recent episode "How Does Religious Language Work?" for some clarification on what religious language is. If religious practioners have a false historical view of their religion then they do not have a historical view of their religion - they have a theological view.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion Sorry, but a false historical view is just as much a historical view as a corect historical view.
Saying Theoderic beat Ermaneric at Ravenna is just as much a historic statement as saying Ermaneric and Theoderic were involved in two different battles of Ravenna.
A view being theological does not the least invalidate it's being historical.
I don't think I'd find your recent episode very enlightening.
- @Hans-Georg Lundahl I think you misunderstand what the academic discipline of history is. It is an attempt to better understand prior events based on evidence with the goal of yielding a more probable conclusion. As more evidence surfaces, the conclusion becomes more probable. It's similar to post-Enlightenment science.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion The similarity is that post-Enlightenment science also takes things for granted that simply shouldn't be.
The results, whether in non-Ricciolian astronomy or non-Scholastic history do not depend simply on more evidence but also on the false basic assumptions.
2:06 Zeus is arguably a king from Crete, who banished his father to Italy.
Hamlet is first of all a post-Frotho local king in historic Denmark (perhaps Scania, perhaps Zealand, would have to look it up) and the semi-fiction in literature by Shakespear slightly tweaks the story.
- The legacy of Zeus is known by the far majority of people to be mythological. Few people (if anyone) think of him as a historical figure and the evidence for such is quite limited. Likewise with Hamlet - it's a play (thus, literature) and when people refer to Hamlet they nearly universally are referring to the play.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion You are referring to the present prejudice, not to new knowledge that has come about.
Most Christians up to the Renaissance and probably prior to meeting Buddhists and Hindoos, especially, would have agreed with lots of Euhemerism. Zeus being a Cretan king who banished his father is one such thing, and you find it in Historia Scholastica, if my memory serves me as it should right now.
Possibly already Holinshed, certainly Shakespear, deviate in some detail from the historic (or purportedly so) Amlethus. Most specially, Amlethus survived his uncle as actual ruler after the revenge and on top of that the uncle's name was Fenge (would it be Fengo in Saxo's Latin) and not Claudius.
You can consider Shakespear's play as fan fic playing around with a historic figure rather than as fiction pure and simple.
As to the quality "play" I would suggest you recall that Shakespear as much as the Greeks took the more serious plays from real or purported history. Another play by Shakespear is Julius Caesar, another one Timon of Athens, another one Henry V.
- @Hans-Georg Lundahl You're equivocating on genres here. Some literary figures are inspired by historical figures but that doesn't make the literary ones the historical ones.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion Hamleth not being Amlethus is in a way correct, but the correctness does not hang on Hamleth being a play. It hangs on Shakespear or Holinshed taking too many liberties with Saxo - unless Holinshed had access to information not from Saxo and preferred it.
2:28 History is what can be established as having happened before by using historical forms of evidence - correct so far.
Now, orally transmitted legend actually is a historical form of evidence.
This is what your method misses.
2:34 Historical evidence very certainly can and usually does involve theological assumptions that some but not all people share.
And if you are from a different religion - as I am in relation to works purportedly by Vyasa - you will simply have to sort out the probable or at least possible historic information from Mahabharata or Ramayana from the wrong theological ones.
I am by the way not inclined to think anyone in the actual times of Mahabharata events (before the Flood) was worshipping Hindu gods, but I definitely see a possibility that Krishna lived (possibly as uncle to Pandavas, and if so arguably Jubal, Pandavas being arguably sons of Jabal) and was in later, post-Flood times raised to godhood by people who were turning away from the true God, namely the one that Jubal had worshipped as much as anyone else (or anyone else exceopt Satanists) before the Flood, and which the earliest people in post-Flood later in-India community had worshipped coming from the Ark.
Your second mistake is therefore to believe that historical evidence needs to be "theologically neutral" - there is just a question in the method of assessing it which should be that, namely accept the history, whenever possible, but don't buy an exotic theology unless it is really and truly backed up by the history.
- This is a misunderstanding of what the academic discipline of history is. Theology involves a necessarily religious interpretation. History does not.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion If the academic discipline of history sets out as excluding a religious interpretation from the outset and goes as far as to deny miraculous claims because they would involve one, it only means the present academic discipline of history is wed to the wrong theology.
- @Hans-Georg Lundahl History is not required to be wed to any theology in order for it to be history. There is no philosophical necessary connection between theology and history.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion Except truth.
Your way of looking at it de facto equals connecting history to an antimiraculous theology.
3:36 What happens if some of the rocks are pumice?
- LOL, great example! Most people though would equate rocks with sinking rather than floating.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion Yeah, the "natural law" would be flawed in relation to pumice.
4:11 Here is your third mistake in methodology, namely assessing miracle as less likely to happen and more likely to be a faulty narration.
And to back it up, you claimed miracles "defy known natural law" - in fact not, they involve an agent not bound to that level of natural law.
For instance, when I type, this is not a miracle, but in some ways like it, there are certain things which can be put down to impetus of fingers, gravitation, resilience and other physical facts about the typing action. But none of these facts will explain that my writing actually involves sentences that make some kind of sense. Or, if you think they don't do so, take sentences you write instead.
Hence, there are different levels of natural law - and a human mind, as created, is bound by some of them. God by contrast binds or holds all of them. A miracle by God is like something done on a screen which the user couldn't do, but someone with "admin" privileges can do. It does not change the laws for what the users can do. These remain the same.
And as a result, you quickly have tacitly omitted your own historic narrative from your second rule - since freedom from miracles as a criterium of probability very definitely is not a theologic assumption shared by all, it is shared by some (like you), but not by others (like me).
- A miracle is a religious interpretation of an event. Read some Hume to help understand this.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion Hume is, of course, wrong. I'll start with what I knew of him, indirectly.
First, he pretends that we can conclude absence of miracles from the observation (very generally provided) that they don't happen.
That's like predicting pumice won't float.
Then he pretends that since this conclusion is supposedly good, we can conclude against any observation of a miracle being genuine.
That's like filtering out any account of pumice floating.
Now to your resumé of him. No, that's wrong again. A miracle is an event of which the correct interpretation is theological. This in contrast with falsely alleged miracles, where the theological interpretation is incorrect and with events that are correctly or incorrectly reported but would either way not imply theology too much. The great majority of course.
As said, your method involves taking a theological stance, and you have just told me who your theologian is, Hume. About as bad as you can get, unless you involve Kant or Schleiermacher.
- @Hans-Georg Lundahl Are you familiar with any basic philosophy? Analytic propositions are those which express ideas independent of experience (referred to as "a priori)" and involve things like 2 + 2 = 4. Synthetic propositions are those which are based in experience (referred to as "a posteriori") and are empirical in nature with a greater or lesser degree of probability. Because of this they are not logically necessary. The assumption is that nature is uniform. The only way to label an event as a miracle would be to assume that nature is not uniform because there would exist random events which violate the order of nature for no apparent reason. Just because one perceives something (sense data) which cannot be classified according to one's current horizon of knowledge or past experiences (Gadamer) does not necessitate one labeling it a miracle. There are many other possible explanations. Your pumice example is a great example. If one is testing the floating capacity of rocks and predicts all rocks will sink, but then gets to pumice and it floats - this does not necessitate labeling the floating of pumice as a miracle. Only the horizon of knowledge has been extended based on such experience. What event has ever occurred where the "correct" interpretation has been theological? And for whom has this been the case? For a single person, a group, all of humanity alive at the time, all humanity for all times?
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion The assumption of nature being "uniform" in your sense will not hold water as an "analytic proposition" - the question is not whether the laws of nature hold during a miracle, but whether there are agencies outside those that normally show during a miracle. And atheism as well as an-angelism, if I may coin a word, are simply not analytic.
One way of deciding would be doing metaphysics really well - like St. Thomas Aquinas or C. S. Lewis.
Another way is going to experience. And obviously not presuming any "analytical propositions" which aren't such.
@TenOnReligion "What event has ever occurred where the "correct" interpretation has been theological? And for whom has this been the case? For a single person, a group, all of humanity alive at the time, all humanity for all times?"
The first question argues you have a ghastly ignorance of most of the historic record. Or you have an equally ghastly superiority complex against most who wrote historic records down. The second tries to pretend that theological interpretations are subjective. There are those very solidly anchored in the events, like divinity of Christ can hardly be bypassed if you admit His resurrection and His founding the Church forever.
- @Hans-Georg Lundahl I did not say that nature being uniform was an analytic proposition. It's not.
@Hans-Georg Lundahl The divinity of Christ (assuming you are equating the "Christ/Messiah" concept with the figure of Jesus of Nazareth) developed decades after Jesus of Nazareth lived. The resurrection accounts in the gospel narratives were composed between 40-65 years after he lived. Neither are solidly anchored in the contemporary events. The earliest complete copy of the New Testament is from the 4th century. There are many places where scholars do not even know what the original words were because the various manuscripts disagree. How does one piece together events of the past from texts which were written much later than the events they describe and such available texts do not even agree? If your concern is with the early history of Christianity in particular, I have other episodes which cover those topics. There's no sense in continuing that discussion here.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion "I did not say that nature being uniform was an analytic proposition. It's not."
Fine, then don't treat it like that, but conclude from either metaphysic or historic evidence!
"The divinity of Christ (assuming you are equating the "Christ/Messiah" concept with the figure of Jesus of Nazareth) developed decades after Jesus of Nazareth lived."
Your reconstruction presumes and therefore does not prove in the least, that the traditional assignments of teachings and of authorships to books are false. We have a historic view which you consider false, from a source you consider tainted. You have an opposed historic view which we consider false and it is from no ancient source at all, but from the popular pastime of reading between the lines.
"The resurrection accounts in the gospel narratives were composed between 40-65 years after he lived."
Apart from that in John, your reconstruction again presumes and therefore does not prove in the least, that the traditional assignments of teachings and of authorships to books are false. We have a historic view which you consider false, from a source you consider tainted. You have an opposed historic view which we consider false and it is from no ancient source at all, but from the popular pastime of reading between the lines.
"Neither are solidly anchored in the contemporary events."
How much of Ancient History is, according to such criteria as yours? Tacitus was three years old when Nero killed Agrippina.
"The earliest complete copy of the New Testament is from the 4th century."
But most definitely not the earliest large Gospel fragment, and no one argues (to my knowledge) that Caesar didn't write books I to VII of Bellum Gallicum because our earliest trace of any writing by Caesar is a tenth C. copy. Your criteria are not how Ancient history is done - except for one particular purpose.
"There are many places where scholars do not even know what the original words were because the various manuscripts disagree."
Yeah, was it "tweedledum" or "tweedledee"? It is usually that level.
"How does one piece together"
Why piece together rather than accept the sources?
" events of the past from texts which were written much later than the events they describe"
Do you believe in the battle of Issos? Earliest account we have would be from Diodorus Siculus. 1st C BC.
"and such available texts do not even agree?"
The analysis of disagreement between sources does not automatically trump analyses according to which they do agree.
"If your concern is with the early history of Christianity in particular, I have other episodes which cover those topics. There's no sense in continuing that discussion here."
Your choice if you want to quit.
- @Hans-Georg Lundahl I do not understand what is the purpose of any of your line of thought here. Are you trying to better understand what the historical-critical method is? If not, explain to me what is to be gained from continuing? You have not understood much of what I have stated. You wrote, "Your reconstruction presumes and therefore does not prove in the least, that the traditional assignments of teachings and of authorships to books are false. We have a historic view which you consider false, from a source you consider tainted." What are the traditional assignments of teaching and authorships to books? Which books? According to whom? By what criteria? Who are "we"? I thought you were only one person. Where did I write that any historic view was false and when did I state that source was "tainted"? I'm not sure I even know what that means. The historical-critical method is based on probability, judging what is more or less probable. The least likely result cannot be the most likely result. If you want to suggest a more probable date or author for a specific text based on all of the available evidence, then make a case for it. There are plenty of religious scholars who do the same for multiple religious traditions. The HCM has at least three clearly stated criteria which are mentioned in the episode. If you believe I have misrepresented the HCM, then show me a scholar who has published on the HCM and show me on which point I misrepresented the position. If you don't think the HCM is a correct way of interpreting and understanding religion, then what is there left to discuss?
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion If the historic critic method is "based on probability" and in face of the Catholic tradition, what is to you "improbable" in:
- divinity of Christ being held from the first;
- Gospel of Matthew being written (with Resurrection account) in the thirties AD?
I hold you reject these more like because accepting them would mean two things:
- good evidence for a clear miracle
- historic facts being more correctly seen from one theologic view point than from another.
Is it based on anything else?
And I don't think you misrepresent the "historic-critic method" at all, you show very clearly why it is not the correct way of seeing theology in a historical perspective. Even if you won't accept that.
- @Hans-Georg Lundahl I already have an episode on the composition of the New Testament gospels. The reasons for dating the gospels narratives are included there. Also, other figures from a similar time period and geographical area also claimed divinity. It's really not anything new or unprecedented. Greek and Roman culture have numerous divine figures.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- @TenOnReligion The point in case being, these did not get a well documented death and resurrection.
Other case in point, you would claim they are not very well documented, and you have a specific methodology for that claim and the methodology in general is on this video.
As for your other video, it will get attention perhaps when I'm finished with this one, if that happens, as at present I am only at time signature 4:11.
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