Friday, July 21, 2023

Paulogia Hosted Dr Robyn Faith Walsh

How Could Illiterate Apostles Write Gospels? (feat. Dr Robyn Faith Walsh)
Paulogia, 6 July 2023

5:25 A fishing fisherman may well have to stay alive by fishing.

But he needs adult arms to do the fishing.

Before a fisherman becomes an adult, he is a teen, and not fishing. And given the Hebrew emphasis on education, chances are a fisherman would at least have been able to write Aramaic and probably some Greek, and read too.

Then, Matthew never was a fisherman. As an alternative name was Levi, he was arguably a Levite, which already implies a specialised religious education, and on top of that, he was a tax collector, someone whom the Romans would not have selected if he had been incompetent.

6:38 It's not just "kind of a convenient model" it is also likely.

Even if an "uneducated" man is put into a leadership position, it doesn't mean he has to surround himself only with uneducated men, and therefore not that he would necessarily lack a scribe.

Too uneducated to have any interesting to say, perhaps? No, not after spending 3 and 1/2 years with Jesus.

So, he would have sth interesting to say, it would interest educated men, he could certainly have a scribe, either for hire or for personal devotion or both. That Mark sought the honour doesn't mean Peter underpaid him.

7:09 "The average lifespan of an adult man is 23 years ..."

This is a preposterous statement. Among other reasons, because we don't have sufficient written data to come to that conclusion (skeleta can be interpreted as younger than they actually were, if the one making the examination has wrong ideas about what tear and wear they would be exposed to).

But even if we assumed this to be the average, we very well know that "the average" is not a kind of level to which everything else is fairly close. It's just somewhere between the two extremes.

I suspect that she's been speaking about average life expectancy at birth and mixed it up - or read a source that did so.

7:15 "we are talking about a war"

We are also talking about a community that in the Gospel text received instructions to flee from it, and in the Church tradition is also reported as fleeing from it : the Church of Jerusalem didn't stay around waiting for Titus, but fled to "Pella" - not meaning the capital of Macedon, but rather Al Fahl in modern Jordan. People who successfully flee don't have the same tendency to get killed in wars, right?

7:45 "the historical scrutiny"

She hasn't mentioned what historical scrutiny she is talking about when it comes to stating the Synoptics were written after the Destruction of Jerusalem (for John, that statement is uncontroversial).

I have a suspicion:
  • the Gospels, in a passage painted as prediction, mentions the destruction of Jerusalem in vivid detail
  • therefore they are written after the Destruction of Jerusalem actually took place.

What about after the Destruction of Jerusalem was prophecied in or by AD 33?

If she wants to say "that doesn't happen" it involves no historic special knowledge, but simply an anti-miraculous bias of this historiographer.

So, let's resume.

She pretends:
  • the Gospels were written after the Destruction of Jerusalem
  • anyone following Jesus in person was dead by then
  • therefore the Gospels were not written by anyone having followed Jesus in person.

Fine syllogism, but the two premises are both highly flawed.

  • The Synoptic Gospels purport and are purported to have known of the Destruction by prophecy, not as history, but she ignores this on the principle of anti-miraculous bias.
  • A highly unlikely and certainly very ill documented "average lifespan" is held up as "likely lifespan" and this is then used as argument against actually purported lifespans (like John the Beloved being around as at least young adult when Jesus was teaching and staying around to past AD 90, past Domitian).

When the syllogistic premisses are not certain, neither is the conclusion. When they are not even very probable, neither is the conclusion.

8:01 "scholars have theorised, that whoever is writing it down is aware that the Temple is no longer there"

= anti-miraculous bias against miraculous prediction, as I already had analysed her argument before she explicitated this was it.

8:29 "He's not telling people "go to the temple" "

1) Were Essenians telling people to do so, or were they considering the Temple as hijacked?
2) In fact, he did on at least one occasion.

Luke 17:14, He tells the lepers Go, shew yourselves to the priests.

But the priests were in the Temple.

So ... yes, there were occasions when He told people to go to the Temple.

But the argument is, one first dismisses that He was the Ultimate Temple, that He knew it, that He was preparing the Apostles for a life without the Second Temple. Then one turns around the evidence for this theology into evidence that Gospels were written well after Jesus was actually teaching (with the temple still around).

9:07 How much St. Paul cared about the teachings of Jesus desppite not making citations is a topic for further investigation.

Just one instance, a very famous and even controversial one, "turn the other cheek" - do we see this in St. Paul? Yes:

If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men.
[Romans 12:18]
Follow peace with all men, and holiness: without which no man shall see God.
[Hebrews 12:14]

10:04 "Issues of a later time."

Going to the temple, unless you lived in Jerusalem, was not an everyday event for Second Temple Jews, like going to Church is for a Catholic.

Going to the temple for Pesakh was done in a "once in a lifetime" pilgrimage (a bit like a Muslim wants one Ramadan in Mekkah). Also, there were issues when, if you lived near the temple, you went there, like Purification of a woman having born a child forty days before, or like Priests viewing lepers (but most people weren't lepers).

So what to do in your daily life was, even in Second Temple Judaism, not totally bound together with temple, temple, temple.

The "issues of a later time" were really issues already for the time of the Second Temple.

13:06 "reporting ... my writing stinks"

In Academia, apart from studying Journalism, the kind of writing you tend to learn best is analysis, not reporting.

And analysis and reporting are a bit like opposite approaches to writing.

I actually have tried to write a novel, am about half way through, it's not "own work" but a fan fic, but it still needs to stand up.

My problem, as a novel writer, is, let's be frank, aggravated by my success as an essayist.

a) how much of the action becomes disguises for an essay?
b) even worse, how much of the dialogue becomes a very stilted disguise for an essay?

So, Robyn Faith Walsh, becoming a reporter or novelist is perhaps not as generally inaccessible as you think, it's just that your education at university is actually hampering you in it.

13:34 Actually, you misconstrued the argument.

A 90 % or 95 % statistic probability for the opposite of a proposition, does not at all amount to an improbability of that proposition about an individual.

If you are a Swede, 95 % of the time, or way more, German is not your only and also not one of two of your first languages or early childhood languages.

In fact, I am a Swede, one of the small percentage of Swedes who were born outside Sweden, and even smaller percentage which was born in a German speaking country. I bin in Wien geboren. This has its explanation, but I don't need to actually give it to make the point that, no, the more than 95 % improbability of a Swede having German as an early childhood language doesn't make it the least improbable that I am a Swede and had Swedish and German as conjoint first languages.

14:18 "Paul and Peter"

Do you mean Cephas in Galatians 2?

Because, a) it is far from certain, though accepted by a large part of tradition, that Cephas really was St. Peter. In fact, Dimond Brothers made the point that St Clement the Stromatist considered it someone else called Cephas, and they make the point that in Galatians 1, St. Peter is called Peter, not Cephas.
And b) even if it were Peter, this does not add up to more than a momentary quarrel. In this connexion, it may be cited that Peter and Paul were, according to tradition, very closely united before the martyrdom under Nero.

I guess, there is another point down the sink ...

16:14 On June 29 of one of the years 64 to 68 Sts Peter and Paul shared the same martyrdom.

You have pretended to find in Pauline epistles argument for a deep divide between Peter and Paul, I don't know of any except Galatians 2. How about looking at St. Peter's epistles?

And account the longsuffering of our Lord, salvation; as also our most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you:
[2 Peter 3:15]

16:48 You have a problem when you claim:
  • the documents show gaps
  • the Church Fathers try to smoothe this over.

a) Because the Church Fathers are our actual source for when NT books were written
b) Because your argument for dismissing it on Gospels comes from anti-miraculous bias.

19:11 I just looked up Palaiphatos, French translation.

The shortness is common to Palaiphatos and St. Mark, but apart from that, I find it very different.

Even if the coincidence had been greater, I think some traits (like the shortness) would very likely be there even in two fairly unexperienced writers.

And Palaiphatos is basically the founder of Paradoxography.

22:07 How many Greek writers in the 1st C AD would have been writing Classical rather than koiné?

As we are on the "not in a vaccum" note, 1st-century novels has Satyricon, in Latin, not Greek.

2nd-century novels has:
Daphnis and Chloe, Dialogues of the Gods, Ephesian Tale, The Golden Ass (Latin), Leucippe and Clitophon, Lover of Lies (in Attic), A True Story.

Would you mind telling me, which one of these 1st and 2nd C novels are closer to St. Luke in general plan than for instance Anabasis, which is a comparison C. S. Lewis made, if not of the Gospel, then of Acts?

24:01 "it comes from a vision"

St. Paul's own meeting with Jesus and St. John's Apocalypse are two and the only two examples in the NT of a vision or series of such (not necessarily corporeal) being described as it happened.

The Gospels do not make an allusion to content coming from non-corporeal visions, apart from the ones involved in the childhoods of Jesus and John the Baptist.

The material is at least presented as if it was solidly history, known because the people who saw it happen handed it on to author unless he was one of them.

So, no, it is not a very modern idea.

24:57 Eyewitness testimony and unfiltered eyewitness testimony are two different things.

Dr Robyn Faith Walsh enumerates a lot of filters around it, but that does not equate to denying the base is eyewitness testimony.

25:10 I think she's confusing "distinguishing" with "separating" ...

26:09 "anything that I can find in any other kind of literature, take that out"

Totally screwed up methodology.

The Gospel story is not true factual events in proportion as Greek philosophy is false, so, one need not take out allusions to Greek philosophy out and leave only (but not all of) the rest as possibly fact.

No historian would do the same about texts admitted on all sides as historical. We don't dismiss the suicide of Paetus and his wife because it involves a reference to Stoicism. We don't dismiss the testimony of Ceasar about a march, because you can find "pente parasangas" in Xenophon. We don't dismiss the Ten Men for Making of Laws because it slightly reminds of Moses or Solon or Lycurgus.

27:59 It is noteworthy that, while Haydock agrees with Papias, Clement the Stromatist and St. Augustine that Matthew was first, he does not mention an original in Hebrew:

St. Matthew, the author of the gospel that we have under his name, was a Galilean, the son of Alpheus, a Jew, and a tax-gatherer; he was known also by the name of Levi. His vocation happened in the second year of the public ministry of Christ; who, soon after forming the college of his apostles, adopted him into that holy family of the spiritual princes and founders of his Church. Before his departure from Judea, to preach the gospel to distant countries, he yielded to the solicitations of the faithful; and about the eighth year after our Saviour's resurrection, the forty-first of the vulgar era [A.D. 41], he began to write his gospel: i.e., the good tidings of salvation to man, through Christ Jesus, our Lord. Of the hagiographers, St. Matthew was the first in the New, as Moses was the first in the Old Testament. And as Moses opened his work with the generation of the heavens and the earth, so St. Matthew begins with the generation of Him, who, in the fulness of time, took upon himself our human nature, to free us from the curse we had brought upon ourselves, and under which the whole creation was groaning. (Haydock)

30:30 In fact, the closeness to Stoicism (I would not say "amount of" since I believe Stoicism to be false), is arguably an argument in favour of Matthew being written to Jews, if you confer how IV Maccabees, attributed to Josephus comes probably even closer to Stoicism. (It's canonic with Greek Orthodox, not with Roman Catholics, unlike I and II Maccabees).

The thing to take into account, unless we dismiss the tradition, is, back in 41, Jews (not yet converted to Christianity) were still one prime target audience for the Gospel.

32:51 "if he speaks Greek and they speak Aramaic"

How do we communicate if you speak English and I speak French? Perhaps you know French too, perhaps I know English too.

A Pharisee (which St. Paul was prior to conversion) not picking up Aramaic would be curious.

A fisherman of Galilee not picking up Greek would also be that.

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