Monday, 7 November 2011

By far most scholars . . .

"By far, most biblical scholars hold that the historical account of the life of Jesus is true."  I have often been told this when I have questioned the evidence for the historicity of Jesus.

I actually question whether there is sufficient historical evidence for the claim that he lived and died in the way described in the New Testament and have written about some of my reasons before (here and here).  But I am assured that there are over 20,000 fragments of documents that consistently describe the story.

I rather doubt this statement - although not the number as much as the claimed consistency.  After all, even the documents that are most plainly visible to scholars and non-scholars alike - namely the gospels - are not mutually consistent.  As an example you can see a recent post by Rosa Rubicondior about the way that the story of the resurrection is treated in the four gospels - Jesus is risen and pigs can fly!

Similarly Dan Barker of FFRF long ago issued a challenge to anyone who can give an account of the Easter story that is consistent with all four gospels, and nobody has succeeded in meeting that challenge.  And if people are not even able to make sense of what is surely the most important part of the story, surely we have the right to ask how likely the rest of the story is to be true.

But still most biblical scholars agree!

I'm curious that the people who use this argument sometimes fail to realise the inconsistency in their own reasoning.

After all, by far the majority of biologists are completely confident of the evidence for the literal truth of the theory of evolution.

Somehow the argument is not so powerful in this direction if you happen to be a creationist.  Why not?


Hilary said...

Interestingly as I have posted in my previous comment in your previous blog, Frank Morrison does exactly this in his book "Who Moved the Stone"

The reason most Biblical Scholars agree is because quite simply there is huge consistency in the Gospels and in all the discovered fragments. This in itself is really quite extraordinary. I suggest that reading the Gospels carefully again, with the awareness of the culture of the day and the characters involved, will be an exercise well worth doing. rather than nit pick and look for all that you perceive to be wrong with the Gospels and there narative, read it simply to view the them, get into their skin, see things from their perspective...see the very human side of the response to Jesus' life, death and resurrection. The detail that is included in much of the narrative, is far more difficult to believe has been 'made up' for many and various reasons...than the simple but far more believable that the narrative is the truth.

Hilary said...

oops 7th line, 2nd para should read "their narrative" why can't I spell on this blog :D

Plasma Engineer said...

Yes indeed there is a correlation between this post and

I'll repeat here . . . the obvious things in the gospels are not compatible. Hence there is little point in studying the nuances.

The apparent consistency between the discovered fragments is not exactly obvious in the 'official' collection of those fragments - which surely ought to be the best available manuscript.

Plasma Engineer said...

Incidentally - the point of this post was that evolution is just as clearly true as the NT is true (if not more so), because 'by far most scholars' agree about it.

Hilary said...

Ah, yes I understood your point, although I disagree with it. Would you expand on your observed inconsistencies of the New Testament and to save you reading the book I mentioned I can if you like then summarise some of his more salient points :)

Plasma Engineer said...

Do I need to expand even further on the observed inconsistencies? We all know that they exist in abundance even without taking a moment to follow the link to Rosa's observations - Jesus is risen and pigs can fly! - about the story of rolling the stone away. In fact I would suggest that the four links in this post go a long way to supplying what you have asked for.