Saturday, January 19, 2013

Did St Irenaeus Know Who Saint John was and What he Wrote?

1) somewhere else : History vs Hume

2) Creation vs. Evolution : More on the Hume Rehash by Richard Carrier

3) somewhere else : Richard Carrier Claimed Critical Thinking was Rare Back Then ...

4) Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Did St Irenaeus Know Who Saint John was and What he Wrote?

youtube: Richard Carrier vs William Lane Craig on Faith Under Fire

Quoting Richard Carrier's first answer to William Lane Craig, interspersing it with refutation even before hearing WLC. (Doesn't it sound like "we 'uhll see"? We will see what he says when I resume listening after my refutation.)

"there are alternative explanations of the evidence, for example I think the evidence shows the disciples originally had visions that convinced them Jesus had risen in a new body"

St Thomas saw the wounds in a new body that had not been wounded?

"and he left his old body behind in the grave"

Why was neither a sealed (and presumably then still corpse-filled) grave shown, for example by St Joseph of Arimathea?

Because that was not yet an issue? Neat. But will it wash? It certainly later became one. And if there had been a time when that was not so, how come they did not even invent an earlier confrontation, the enemies of the Christian community?

"and that the Gospel of Mark symbolises this escape from death with an empty tomb"

Funny symbol if the conviction was the old body had been left behind in the grave. Besides, if you go by tradition, Mark is not the first Gospel, Matthew is.

"which later writers then misinterpreted as an actual tomb being found empty."

Fatal stumbling block: you here see the Christian conviction as going from writer to writer rather than from original disciples to their disciples. Being someone's disciple is not just a question of reading his book once. It is a question of being with him and asking all sorts of relevant questions about the subject of discipleship to him. Whether that subject be music or Vedas or Mosaic Scripture or - as in this case - the recent life and sayings and miracles of Jesus. The kind of room for misunderstanding Richard Carrier presupposes is not possible in such relationships.

Other fatal stumbling block: there is a continuity between Pharisaic and Christian conviction of Resurrection on the Final Day, on the Day of Judgement. Now, that continuity says that people rise in the same body in which they die. Changed because alive again, but certainly identical. If Christians had been outside that continuity, they would have been pointed out for - for instance - denying the Resurrection, which in the Pharisaic interpretation of Moses and the Prophets and the Scriptures was a dogma. They were not. Nor did they mark themselves out of that continuity by arguing against the final resurrection.

There are differences between Pharisaic and Christian views. I presume that Pharisees believe that people who have been burned to ashes or drowned in the sea and eaten by fish have no body to resurrect in. I don't know, I do know Christians do not. Apocalypse says "the sea will give back its dead" and St Thomas - Aquinas this time, not the disciple - says that angels keep eyes on every particle separated from a corpse after its death so as to be able to put them together again on the last day. Not textually identical to the words of the Apocalypse, but in idea quite identical with the strain that being dissolved even beyond skeletans remaining is no obstacle to God on the day of Resurrection. But these differences do not affect the main thing, that the body of each human person buried will rise and be judged in public.

Early Gnostics did in fact pull out of this continuity, by claiming biology and bodies as we know them are the work of an imperfect power, often identified with "the God of the Old Testament", in other words, quite unlike Christianity they were against the Old Testament - or very main texts of it, at least. However, there is a clear discontinuity between these and early Christians. St John flees from the bath where Cerinthus comes in (RC knows the Acts of St John, and we can take the bedbug story in an appendix). Why? Because Cerinthus is a Gnostic.

"what I don't find plausible is that a God of all the Universe who wanted to save humanity sent his message only once, only in secret, only to a few people and not just appear to everyone on earth"

Last aspect first: God is no Anarchist. He is sometimes for resistance - armed or unarmed - against tyrants like Nebuchadnezzar (unarmed resistance of Daniel, resulting in Nabucco's conversion) or Holophernes (armed resistance of Judith). But that does not mean He is against human rulers as such. Neither over Pagan Society, nor over Jewish State and Church in one, nor over Christendom's states in communion with Christianity's Church. US was not founded by Founding Fathers appearing to all US Americans on all occasions (though they were not able to either, unlike God, as long as we just consider His power rather than as now also His wisdom), it is based on them getting together, not indeed in secret but on a commission known by those they represented, and stating their points in a way accessible to further generations of US Citizens by a Document or a few of them.

Similarily, saving humanity precisely like letting humanity loose itself for a few thousand years, hinges on individuals doing the decisive thing. Adam picking eating a fruit he should not pick eat.* Christ dying on a Cross he did not himself deserve to die on. Lost humanity is propagated by sexual reproduction, from Adam on, restored humanity is propagated by Baptism, which Christ ordered his Apostles to Provide, along with the teaching proper to living it out correctly. That is the answer to the last point. Let us take the other ones point by point:

only once, - Not so, the Life, Death and Resurrection as well as Teaching of Christ form the culmination of a long or even uninterrupted series of messages. When the Magi came to Bethlehem, they obeyed a Tradition from the Prophet Bileam, who had, although a Canaanean, refused to curse Israel, and who had then gone into exile, forming a kind of sect or evne secret society whose last members came out in the open as the Magi. And then we have the Hebrew side of it with lots more of coninuity.

only in secret, - Not so either. If something is not known to the proper authorities, you can speak of "only in secret" and similarily if it is known only to the authorities and not to the people. But Jesus was known to Herod, to the Priests in the Temple (from those admiring Him at age twelve to Kaiaphas), to the Pharisees and the Sadducees and to the disciples of St John the Baptist, to a younger Herod, to Kaiaphas again, to Pilate, to the Centurion Longinus, to the two robbers dying beside Him and to all of the crowd who had shouted "Hosianna" and who were shouting "if thou art the Messiah, walk down from the Cross" and presumably worse things too. And through Pilate he was soon known in Imperial Rome too.

only to a few people - I nearly used an expletive! It is true that Jesus chose disciples among His disciples. There are: all of them, the 70 among the rest, the twelve among the 70. Even within the twelve, some things are witnessed only by three of them (only Sts Peter and James and John saw the Transfiguration). But you have an audience, and you also have - or may have later - personal disciples for whom you are the tutor, some for whom you give lessons about their PhD's in History in a circle wider than personal tutorial and closer than the full audience. Key events, like Resurrection and Sermon on the Mount (or for that matter Multiplication of Breads and Fishes) had a very wide audience indeed.

Now I have heard WLC's answer, and am hearing Richard Carrier's second speech:

"we have no eyewitness accounts of what the early Christians saw, except from Paul, and he describes it in very visionary terms."

That begs the question of the Textual Criticism. Any Textual Critic who disagrees with Christianity will say that Matthew and John are no eyewitness accounts, because if they acknowledged them as eyewitness accounts their position would fall down. Therefore they prefer saying Matthew was based on Mark plus unidentified source which Mark was based on Paul, whereas John might have been written by a Gnostic (why not Cerinthus?). However, without such a bias, there is no sane way in which Textual Criticism could come to that conclusion.

Richard admits St Paul as historical. Presumably St Irenaeus of Lyons too. Now Irenaeus of Lyons is according to Tradition a disciple of St Polycarp who according to Tradition is a disciple of St John who was according to the Gospel attributed to him as well as according to St Irenaeus a disciple of Jesus. We are not dealing with authors misinterpreting authors. We are dealing with disciples handing over their full received teaching to their disciples. By what possible scenario, and even more so by what plausible scenario could St Irenaeus be wrong about Gospel being by the St John who was a direct disciple of Jesus of Nazareth? It is preposterous unless you are willing to let Founding Fathers be an invention of Abe Lincoln too. It is preposterous unless you deal with a world where not only any fraud is possible but every fraud is plausible and nothing else is. Now, there you can talk of "welcome to Matrix".

"And he doesn't mention any other kind of appearances"

Wow, I will let Dan Barker (ex-born-again-Christian, Atheist League) correct you on what St Paul mentions, and also myself to correct you on believing Dan Barker's argument, if possible:

What a blooper, Dan Barker from Atheist League!

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bpi, Georges Pompidou, Paris
St Canute of Denmark,
King and Martyr

Appendices on St John and the bedbugs and on Plantinga's point may be upcoming.

*Correction due, because Eve had already done the picking of the fruit. I presume it was the same one.

Appendix on St John and the bedbugs:

Richard Carrier says about my Patron Saint that he was a bit of a jerk, first of all to get rid of only his own bedbugs but not those of his comrades and disciples, second for after holding the bedbugs on parade (reminds me of pride parades now) over night, he let them back into the bed in the morning.

(deleted here a personal conjecture, but saved in my email, in case a priest wants to consult what I wrote)

Despite the fact that this really happened - if Richard Carrier records the Acts of St John correctly - it can be symbolical, insofar as it can refer to armies for some time leaving Christians alone (the Constantinian era from Ponte Milvio to Russian Revolution corresponding to St John's good night of sleep) but then returning to bad old ways.

Now, in case this is a mere trap of Richard Carrier, taken from some other account (and I was unworthy enough to fall for it) or even if it is really from Acts of St John though I am not there yet, here I cite two other paragraphs from it:

24 And Cleopatra going with John into her bedchamber, and seeing Lycomedes dead for her sake, had no power to speak (suffered in her voice), and ground her teeth and bit her tongue, and closed her eyes, raining down tears: and with calmness gave heed to the apostle. But John had compassion on Cleopatra when he saw that she neither raged nor was beside herself, and called upon the perfect and condescending mercy, saying: Lord Jesus Christ, thou seest the pressure of sorrow, thou seest the need; thou seest Cleopatra shrieking her soul out in silence, for she constraineth within her the frenzy that cannot be borne; and I know that for Lycomedes' sake she also will die upon his body. And she said quietly to John: That have I in mind, master, and nought else.

And the apostle went to the couch whereon Lycomedes lay, and taking Cleopatra's hand he said: Cleopatra, because of the multitude that is present, and thy kinsfolk that have come in, with strong crying, say thou to thine husband: Arise and glorify the name of God, for he giveth back the dead to the dead. And she went to her husband and said to him according as she was taught, and forthwith raised him up. And he, when he arose, fell on the floor and kissed John's feet, but he raised him, saying: O man, kiss not my feet but the feet of God by whose power ye are both arisen.

In place of above deleted conjecture, I here give the exact quote about the bugs:

60 Now on the first day we arrived at a deserted inn, and when we were at a loss for a bed for John, we saw a droll matter. There was one bedstead lying somewhere there without coverings, whereon we spread the cloaks which we were wearing, and we prayed him to lie down upon it and rest, while the rest of us all slept upon the floor. But he when he lay down was troubled by the bugs, and as they continued to become yet more troublesome to him, when it was now about the middle of the night, in the hearing of us all he said to them: I say unto you, O bugs, behave yourselves, one and all, and leave your abode for this night and remain quiet in one place, and keep your distance from the servants of God. And as we laughed, and went on talking for some time, John addressed himself to sleep; and we, talking low, gave him no disturbance (or, thanks to him we were not disturbed).

61 But when the day was now dawning I arose first, and with me Verus and Andronicus, and we saw at the door of the house which we had taken a great number of bugs standing, and while we wondered at the great sight of them, and all the brethren were roused up because of them, John continued sleeping. And when he was awaked we declared to him what we had seen. And he sat up on the bed and looked at them and said: Since ye have well behaved yourselves in hearkening to my rebuke, come unto your place. And when he had said this, and risen from the bed, the bugs running from the door hasted to the bed and climbed up by the legs thereof and disappeared into the joints. And John said again: This creature hearkened unto the voice of a man, and abode by itself and was quiet and trespassed not; but we which hear the voice and commandments of God disobey and are light-minded: and for how long?

So, the fellows were not bitten, and bugs getting back instead of being destroyed were not likely to bother others since the inn was abandoned. The final point of St John was also made by Sts Francis of Assisi and Anthony of Padua when they preached to birds and fishes and that after men had refused to listen to them.

Appendix on author misunderstanding author:

Servius might have misunderstood the Æneid. Now, Virgil may have intended very Platonic and scientific meanings allegorised into the action of that work. That may be so. Servius may be right.

But he may also be wrong.

Virgil may have mustered a make-believe belief in the Homeric gods who were also officially the gods of the Roman Empire. He maye even have become a poet because he was at heart a naive believer in Homer's Pantheon. St Jerome was something close to that before he became a Christian, I seem to recall. Unless he was just a Christian with a strong taste for Pagan myth. So why could Virgil not have been so? It was not exactly intellectually fashionable, but who says Virgil must have been that? Servius?

Well, was Servius one of Mæcenas' household? Did he speak on a daily basis with Virgil? Is he to Virgil what St Irenaeus is to St John? Or is he to Virgil what Richard Carrier is to St Paul? [I just checked Wiki: Maurus Servius Honoratus is IV C., closer to Macrobius than to Virgil, and a protagonist in Macrobius' Saturnalia.]

Since I say Servius may well have misunderstood Virgil, why not Macrobius with what happened between Republic of Plato and Republic of Cicero? Simply what is likely. It is not very likely that Cicero was more of a believer in miracles than Macrobius, rather less, and same goes for his hearers.

Appendix on Plantinga:

If Richard Carrier and the astronomer known under pseudonym Andromeda's Wake believe in a moral order, in some ways they are half believers in God.

Here is a dialogue (or rather relevant parts of it) with someone who really believes there is a right and a wrong, in a way, though he considers that a wrong terminology, as "unscientific" and incompatible (as it is) with his atheism:

Me: If you don’t know what IS wrong, you don’t know when something GOES wrong and cannot judge the value of consequences.

He: “Something ‘going wrong’ implies a direct result of action, not subjective valuation. You do understand the difference between being morally ‘wrong’ and making a mistake, do you not? From your argument it does not appear so.”

Me: First of all, I do very much see the difference between doing wrong and making a mistake. If you shoot at what you know is your uncle, you do wrong. If you shoot at what looks to you like a deer, you make a mistake if it is your uncle. Either way you are not doing the right thing at a hunt as in shooting only deer and not your uncle.

But back to the debate: the going wrong implies a direct result of an action insofar as the “going” is concerned. It implies there is a right and a wrong insofar as description of result is concerned. If there were no right or wrong about innocent lives, there would not be even any “going wrong,” only “going in a specific direction”, as far as killing innocent lives is concerned. That is I hope a certain clarification of the previous point.

And third, man can do right, man can make mistakes that just “go wrong”, but man can also go wrong by deliberate choice. Euthanasia of mentally handicapped or forced sterilisation of people with hereditary diseases (as Nazis and in second case Swedish Socialists did), is not something just going wrong, it is doing wrong deliberately.

End of that debate so far.

Comment section of this one:

On which video I made a comment blog post myself:

Triviū, Quadriviū, 7 cætera : Thunderf00t on futile questions

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